BERLIN (AP) — The European Union’s executive branch is proposing that individual member countries drop their right to veto decisions on energy taxes, a move that could facilitate the introduction of a carbon tax across the whole bloc. The EU’s energy commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete, said Tuesday that no longer requiring unanimous votes would allow “the potential of energy taxation to foster the clean energy transition can be freed.” Approval of energy tax decisions instead would need a qualified majority, or 16 of the current 28 countries representing at least 65 percent of the EU’s population.
Taken in the context of Brexit and the political battle in Washington this suggests that the progressives are not backing down. They are in complete earnest about the Green program and will push it as hard as they can.
On Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr insisted that intelligence agencies under former President Barack Obama spied on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. He did not declare that this spying was illegal, but the spying is unsettling regardless. “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. It’s a big deal,” Barr said in a Senate hearing on Wednesday. “There are a lot of rules put in place to make sure that there’s an adequate basis before our law enforcement agencies get involved in political surveillance. I’m not suggesting that those rules were violated but I think it’s important to look at that.” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) pressed him on the issue of spying. “You’re not suggesting, though, that spying occurred?” she asked. “I think spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur,” Barr replied. “The question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated.”
The casual suggestion by the nation’s top law enforcement officer of “spying” may please Donald Trump, who rails against a “deep state coup,” but it strikes another destructive blow to our democratic institutions. The hardworking men and women at the DOJ and FBI deserve better.
Now that the power struggle in Washington is out in the open what is to be done about it? One option is to try to put the toothpaste back in the tube, hard but possible. Political conflict is one of those one way functions that is easy to start but much more difficult to reverse.
If the truce is to be re-established a group of truce-makers must be found on each side. Yet superficially at least these are nowhere to be seen. On every side everyone seems raring to go.
The fundamental problem is that there is no constituency for burying the hatchet yet, except in someone’s back.
Most of the bank’s 2,000 employees were sent home when the lights went off in Caracas on March 25 — and haven’t been able to return since, said the people on condition of anonymity. The emergency group has been working from a library with the help of water tanks, focused on vital tasks to keep operations going, such as transactions between local banks and reserves, they added. The central bank’s situation underscores the disarray inside President Nicolas Maduro’s administration. Bathrooms have no water and the building has no air conditioning as a power crisis exacerbated water shortages in the Venezuelan capital amid a drought. Employees don’t know when they will be able to return to work. A spokesperson for the bank didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Maduro’s dilemma is that he doesn’t have enough money left to run a state. He can’t meet payroll, pay the utilities — there are no utilities. He has about enough to run an insurgency. Maybe he should resign and try that.
However Maduro’s utility to Putin is as an incumbent. His value is not as a ruler but to keep someone else from ruling. He’s like the dog in the manger, who neither eats nor lets anyone else eat.
He must desperately cling to power if only for one more day, one more hour. What’s his future otherwise?
Lawyers for former Obama administration White House counsel Greg Craig say they expect their client to be charged in a foreign lobbying investigation that grew out of the special counsel’s Russia probe. … The scrutiny of Craig stems from an investigation of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his work on behalf of a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. If filed, the charges would come about three months after Craig’s former law firm agreed to pay more than $4.6 million and publicly acknowledge that it failed to report its work for the Ukrainian government.
Background: the NYT says lots of people in Washington were doing what Craig and Manafort did.
The Manafort case, and others developed by Mr. Mueller, marked the first high-profile criminal charges in years under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA. The 1938 law requires Americans to disclose detailed information about lobbying and public relations work for foreign governments and politicians. It had rarely been used in prosecutions, even as prominent Washington lobbyists, consultants, lawyers and former public officials collected ever-larger, often six- and seven-figure paydays from foreign interests looking to burnish their sometimes unsavory reputations in the United States capital. Mr. Manafort’s case, and the investigations into Mr. Craig and other high-profile consultants who worked with Mr. Manafort, have left Washington’s K Street lobbying corridor scrambling to deal with the heightened scrutiny.
Craig said ‘why me? SDNY already gave me a clean bill of health’.
In a statement, Craig’s lawyers noted that the case against him was investigated by the Southern District of New York, and although they expect an indictment from the Justice Department in Washington, they allege that prosecutors are abusing their authority. “This case was thoroughly investigated by the SDNY and that office decided not to pursue charges against Mr. Craig. We expect an indictment by the DC US Attorney’s Office at the request of the National Security Division. Mr. Craig is not guilty of any charge and the government’s stubborn insistence on prosecuting Mr. Craig is a misguided abuse of prosecutorial discretion,” Craig’s lawyers said in a statement.
The real takeaway of the Mueller investigation is that Washington is honeycombed with lobbyists working for foreign governments. The voters probably guessed this already and this probably emboldened them to vote for Trump. There was nothing to lose by blowing the whole setup sky high.
Chicago Boyz interprets some of the infighting that makes Washington so deadly. Some version of power struggle is going on. One hopes some account will emerge in the future.
I am more and more coming around to the opinion of David Goldman and Michael Ledeen. The Russia hoax was aimed at Michael Flynn and his role as a Trump advisor. It was all about General Flynn. I think it began on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, when Flynn changed the way we did intelligence against the likes of Zarqawi, bin Laden, the Taliban, and their allies. General Flynn saw that our battlefield intelligence was too slow. We collected information from the Middle East and sent it back to Washington, where men with stars on their shoulders and others at the civilian intel agencies chewed it over, decided what to do, and sent instructions back to the war zone. By the time all that happened, the battlefield had changed. Flynn short-circuited this cumbersome bureaucratic procedure and moved the whole enterprise to the war itself. The new methods were light years faster. Intel went to local analysts, new actions were ordered from men on the battlefield (Flynn famously didn’t care about rank or status) and the war shifted in our favor.
“We have a long night and a long day ahead of us waiting for the real results but I already thank you, citizens of Israel, Likud voters and activists,” Netanyahu thanked the public. “Almost everyone already said publicly that they would recommend me to the president.” Netanyahu said his government will be good for “Jews and non-Jews, all citizens of Israel…I am taking care of the country that belongs to all of us. I am sure that if we work together we can meet all our challenges.”
An ‘explainer’ from Israelly Cool. Perhaps the same may be said of the world. ‘Populism’ may at least be partly the result of the Left having overplayed their hand but they see problem as not being ruthless enough but they see problem as not being ruthless enough, preferring to believe that ‘hate’ not their own errors are responsible for the turnabout.
You see, the Israeli electorate has shifted more to the right over the years. And you can thanks palestinian intransigence and terrorism – which has backfired on them spectacularly – for this. And not mythical institutionalized Israeli or Jewish racism. Most of us want peace. But not at the cost of us being dead.
It would be surprising if the Left backed off on Netanyahu. They are probably going to launch another banzai. But then the realities of the new Middle East are hard to ignore as Airbnb is finding.
Airbnb has reversed its decision to remove rental listings of homes located inside Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The move will settle legal action brought by hosts, potential hosts and guests against the US firm. Airbnb said it would now donate all proceeds from rentals in the West Bank to humanitarian organisations. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this. Airbnb released a statement that said: “We understand the complexity of the issue that was addressed in our previous policy announcement.” “Airbnb has never boycotted Israel, Israeli businesses, or the more than 20,000 Israeli hosts who are active on the Airbnb platform. We have always sought to bring people together and will continue to work with our community to achieve this goal,” it added.
During WW2 they forbade the use of proximity shells over land until late in 1944 out of fear the Axis could reverse engineer it. The same worry now surrounds the F-35. There was a similar concern round the Norden bombsight.
“We recovered the wreckage and determined it was from the F-35,” a spokesman for the Air Self Defense Force (ASDF) said, adding that the pilot of the aircraft was still missing. The advanced, single-seat jet was flying about 135 km (84 miles) east of the Misawa air base in Aomori Prefecture at about 7:27 p.m. (1027 GMT) on Tuesday, when it disappeared from radar, the Air Self Defense Force said. The aircraft was less than a year old and was delivered to the ASDF in May last year, the spokesman said. Japan’s first squadron of F-35s has just become operational at Misawa and the government plans to buy 87 of the stealth fighters to modernize its air defenses as China’s military power grows.
In WW2 the captain of the Sculpin, who knew the Navy had broken the Japanese codes, deliberately went down with his ship rather than risk the secret.
This action left CAPT Cromwell facing a fateful choice. With his personal knowledge of both ULTRA and GALVANIC, he realized immediately that to abandon ship and become a prisoner of the Japanese would create a serious danger of compromising these vital secrets to the enemy under the influence of drugs or torture. For this reason, he refused to leave the stricken submarine and gave his life to avoid capture. He and 11 others rode Sculpin on her final plunge to the bottom, where her secrets would be safe forever.
The Army Air Corps rescued downed airmen and their Norden bombsights by dogsled from Greenland to keep them secure.
For a moment it looked as if he’d made it, but then the nose wheel collapsed and the airplane flipped over. The remaining P-38s all landed with their wheels retracted. The B-17s stayed up for another hour or so, sending out S.O.S. signals before they too bellied onto the harsh and desolate site. For nine days, the 25 men on the flight huddled inside the two B-17s, where they lived, all things considered, in relative comfort. There was little concern about rescue—supplies had been dropped on the third day, and word came that a rescue team was on its way. Men from a special Army Air Forces unit driving a dogsled finally arrive on July 24 to lead the downed crew on an arduous 10-mile march to the south-east coast of Greenland, where a Coast Guard cutter would be waiting.
British finance minister Philip Hammond raised the prospect of lawmakers revoking Article 50 this week rather than allowing Britain to leave the European Union without a deal if talks collapse, the Telegraph reported on Tuesday. Hammond warned that the value of the pound could fall significantly if Prime Minister Theresa May fails to reach agreement on a Brexit delay with Brussels, the Telegraph said.
You Owe I. China and Russia are now deeply invested in maintaining an incompetent regime in Venezuela. The Venezuelans are caught between two fires.
The head of U.S. Southern Command says Beijing is using disinformation and debt diplomacy to dig in as Maduro clings to power. …
As U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security team mulls a military intervention to oust Venezuela’s strongman president, Nicolás Maduro, the Pentagon is watching China’s commercial and financial creep in the crisis-gripped nation with growing alarm. In an interview with Foreign Policy, Adm. Craig Faller, the four-star military officer who heads U.S. Southern Command, pointed to a Chinese disinformation campaign designed to blame the United States for the blackouts that devastated Venezuela in recent weeks.
This shooting is a case about motive and state of mind. The facts seem simple.
Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Patrick Lofton told jurors that Noor fired across his partner, Matthew Harrity, through an open driver’s side window “without saying a word.”A Minneapolis police officer acted recklessly when he fatally shot a woman who had called 911 to report a possible rape near her home, a prosecutor told jurors in the former officer’s trial. Opening statements began Tuesday in the trial of the ex-officer, Mohamed Noor, who fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond in July 2017 as she approached his SUV. Noor, 33, who is Somali American, is charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of Damond, a 40-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia. Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Patrick Lofton told jurors that Noor fired across his partner, Matthew Harrity, through an open driver’s side window “without saying a word.”
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, the last surviving member of World War II’s Doolittle Raiders, died Tuesday in Texas at the age of 103. The president of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Association told The Air Force Times that Cole died in San Antonio on Tuesday morning with his son and daughter by his side. Cole, originally from Dayton, Ohio, was mission commander Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot in the 1942 bombing attack less than five months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The bold raid on Japan is credited with providing the United States with a morale boost and helping turn the tide of the war in the Pacific.
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot, But he’ll remember with advantages What feats he did that day: then shall our names. Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d. This story shall the good man teach his son; And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remember’d; And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
Cartoonist Nathan Pyle, whose Strange Planet alien drawings you’ve definitely seen everywhere, was discovered to be anti-abortion today, which serves as a valuable reminder that you should know about the person whose content you’re sharing. Pyle shares his artwork on Instagram on an account called @NathanWPyleStrangePlanet, which boasts almost 2 million followers. But, he also has a personal Instagram account and Twitter, which reveals a lot more about where he stands on important issues, like a woman’s right to choose. Twitter user @anarchopupgirl found a tweet that he posted back in 2017, in which he talked up the anti-abortion March for Life in a post about his former girlfriend. He shared a screenshot of a Facebook post that she had written, which thanked “the courageous mothers” who did not have abortions, and added, “When I think of the #MarchForLife, I first think of the life story of my girlfriend, Soojin. I am thankful she was given the gift of life.”
There are plots everywhere. Thankfully, someone went back to 2017 to unearth the fact he was really happy to discover his girlfriend was born. There are all these Sleeper cells around just waiting to be activated, if you get the drift.
The Cold Civil War now has the paranoid atmosphere of the 1950s. “Beware Comrade. He’s unreliable. He harbors secret capitalist tendencies.” We’re back in the bad old days. It’s interesting to revisit the movies of the period. One on YouTube, The Iron Curtain with Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney depicts how a man’s life could hang on his utterances. The worst threat was “we will send you home to Russia!” Incidentally it has a score by Alfred Newman, consisting most of Russian classical music but ending in a stirring rendition of the Red, Red Rose.
My own personal view is that we don’t know enough to literally bet the farm on it. The key feature of all these climate change solutions is they require total commitment. The therapeutic dose has to be global, massive and expensive or else it’s no good. Listen to Beto O’Rourke:
“Let us all be well aware that life will be a lot tougher for the generations that follow us, no matter what we do,” O’Rourke said. “It is only a matter of degrees. Along this current trajectory, there will be people who can no longer live in the cities they call home today. There is food grown in this country that will no longer prosper in these soils. There is going to be massive migration of tens or hundreds of millions of people from places that are going to be uninhabitable or under the sea.” “This is the final chance,” O’Rourke continued. “The scientists are unanimous on this. We have no more than 12 years to take incredibly bold action on this crisis. My gratitude is to them for the young people who stepped up to offer such a bold proposal to meet such a grave challenge. They say we should do nothing less than marshal every resource in the country to meet that challenge, to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, to get to net zero emissions, which means not only must we emit less greenhouse gasses, we must plant things that absorb greenhouse gasses and carbon and invest in the technology to allow us to claim some that are in the air now. Can we make it? I don’t know. It’s up to every one of us. Do you want to make it? “
Of course O’Rourke might be right. But is he completely right? Right as to direction but not tempo or scale? Or is he wrong? Most of the climate change proposals are really about imposing taxes. It’s a tax scheme. In case nobody has noticed that is precisely what caused the unrest in France that simmers to this day. In case you think it’s just the French Australians are now realizing somebody’s got to pay real dollars and cents for “climate change” and it won’t be China.
WAFarmers chief executive Trevor Whittington said the policy signalled that “Australian farmers will be picking up a large part of the tab”. “You don’t get to force the public to double the number of electric vehicles without loading up the taxes on four-wheel-drive utes,” he said. “You can’t bury all the the carbon footprint from livestock into the soil without turning the paddock back into bush. “We have yet to seen the hidden formulas but all indications are that the agricultural sector with our tractors and stock will be paying a carbon tax by the end of the decade.”
Australia is facing the strange situation where it’s power prices have gone through the roof yet the grid, which used to be rock solid, is becoming increasingly fragile.
A bungled transition from coal to clean energy has left resource-rich Australia with an unwanted crown: the highest power prices in the world. New Yorkers pay half as much as Sydneysiders to keep the lights on, despite Australia boasting among the world’s largest coal and natural gas reserves, as well as ideal conditions for clean power generation. A decade of political dithering and climate policy missteps have set its patchwork power system adrift, ratcheting up manufacturing costs and hurting consumers with a doubling in electricity prices since last year and rising risks of blackouts.
Felicity Huffman and a dozen other wealthy parents swept up in the far-reaching college admissions scandal have agreed to plead guilty after being charged in the scheme, according to court records. The actress and 12 other parents, including Los Angeles marketing guru Jane Buckingham, will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Bay Area real estate developer Bruce Isackson will plead guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy and one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS. His wife, Davina Isackson, will plead guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit fraud.
Turkey’s ruling party said Sunday it will appeal for a full recount of all votes cast in Istanbul’s mayoral election, which the opposition narrowly won in a major setback for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The opposition’s mayoral candidate urged the ruling party to accept defeat. In the March 31 local elections, the opposition not only prevailed in a tight race in Istanbul, a city of 15 million residents that is Turkey’s financial and cultural center, but took control of Ankara, the capital. Erdogan’s party, which had held both cities for decades, contested the results, claiming the elections were “tainted”.
That the UN was warned about the Rwanda massacre and told the peacekeepers not to intervene.
Rwanda’s president said the country had become “a family once again”, while marking the 25th anniversary of the genocide that killed 800,000 people. Paul Kagame, who led a rebel force that ended the slaughter, lit a remembrance flame in the capital Kigali. Rwandans will mourn for 100 days, the time it took in 1994 for about a tenth of the country to be massacred. Most of those who died were minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus, killed by ethnic Hutu extremists.
In late 1993, Dallaire received his commission as the Major-General of UNAMIR, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda. UNAMIR’s goal was to assist in the implementation of the Arusha Accords, a peace agreement intended to end the Rwandan Civil War. The UN attempted to negotiate with the Hutus in the Rwandan army and with Juvénal Habyarimana, a Hutu who was president at the time, and with the Tutsis, as represented by the rebel commander Paul Kagame, who led the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). (He later was elected as President of Rwanda as of September 2017.) When Dallaire arrived in Rwanda, his mandate was to supervise the implementation of the accords during a transitional period in which Tutsis were to be given some positions of power within the Hutu-dominated government. There were early signs that something was amiss when, on January 22, 1994, a French DC-8 aircraft landed in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, loaded with ammunition and weapons for the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR). (FAR was the Hutu army under Habyarimana’s control.) Dallaire notified the UN by telegram, suggesting he seize these weapons to prevent violence, but the UN deemed this action to be beyond his UN mandate. In addition to the arms deliveries, he learned that troops from the Rwandan government began checking identity cards, which identified individuals by ethnicity as Hutu or Tutsi.
The UN had an efficiency problem. In an effort to achieve results they eventually hired mercenaries.
The other problem was that they won. EO soundly beat back the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), complicating the peace deal that the U.N. was trying to broker. EO was enough of a threat that its ouster was a precondition for the rebels agreeing to the accord. Some Sierra Leonean military officers openly resented the presence of foreign advisors and quietly accused them of human rights violations, while privately colluding with the rebels. And, as everyone from EO predicted, the peace deal fell apart the moment they left. What followed was a series of horribly bungled interventions, first by the Economic Community of West African States, then the U.N., that accomplished little beyond confirming its critics’ worst prognostications about the wisdom of such endeavors. The RUF restarted its brutal campaign with renewed enthusiasm. The war that EO had largely won continued for several more years at the cost of thousands more innocent lives. What became the largest U.N. intervention in the world almost became its biggest failure. The British Army would eventually enter the conflict to quell the violence, but separate from the U.N. peacekeeping mission.
Three American service members and one contractor were killed Monday after a bomb exploded near Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, Defense Department officials said. In a statement, the Defense Department said that three additional troops were wounded in the blast. They were evacuated and are being treated. A United States military official said that the blast was part of an attack on a convoy of trucks transporting American service members near Bagram Air Base in eastern Afghanistan. The official said that the Taliban are believed to be behind the attack. Fighting between the Taliban and American-backed Afghan forces has continued in recent weeks despite continuing negotiations on a framework to end the nearly 18-year war.
A beleaguered dictator barely hanging onto power against a rising tide of popular unrest. An economy in shambles, both from years of economic mismanagement and the crushing weight of U.S.-imposed sanctions. With a long-time client on the brink of collapse, the Kremlin injects troops and supplies in a desperate gambit to keep an ally in power. Confronted by what it sees as a Russian provocation, a U.S. administration struggles to define an appropriate and effective response while trying to decide whether it should define a red line that would prompt a military intervention. This could be Syria circa 2014, but it’s not. It’s Venezuela in 2019.
Venezuela will “fulfill its commitments” to Cuba despite United States sanctions targeting oil shipments from the South American country to its ideological ally, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on Monday.
If you’re the last airport on earth Iran’ll fly to you.
An Iran airline blacklisted by the United States for allegedly transporting military equipment to Middle East war zones began direct flights between Tehran and Venezuela on Monday, signifying a growing relationship between the two nations in the face of U.S. sanctions and growing upheaval.
But the last corpse on earth may have to bury itself in a country where the morgues don’t work.
“Manuel’s mother died last night.” This is what my friend texted me this morning, telling me about our colleague’s loss. I’m just about to text my condolences when the phone pings again, and I see something I’ll never be able to unsee. The body of a woman, covered by a thin white sheet, spread out on an old maroon couch. Next to her are plastic bottles that once contained some sort of off-brand soda, now filled with frozen water and used to keep the body of my friend’s mother from rotting in the heat. I have spent almost two months in Venezuela and seen more atrocities than I expected in a lifetime, but this, this complete loss of human dignity, may be the worst yet. A few weeks ago I visited a public hospital here in Caracas and next to it I saw the barred-up doors of the central morgue, closed for weeks because they lacked both refrigeration and personnel. At the time I was wondering what happened to a society with no means to care for the dead and now I have the answer, staring back at me from the screen of my phone.
An overconfident Joe Crowley opted against using negative ammunition against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez because he believed that he had the Democratic primary locked up and didn’t want to look weak in a race he was expected to walk away with.
Crowley, a longtime political power broker from Queens, was widely considered to be perfectly situated to become then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s successor before his stunning defeat last June that propelled the former waitress to the halls of Congress.
“It wasn’t just that Crowley didn’t want to go dirty; he thought it would be a sign of weakness in D.C. if he was seen in a tight race against Ocasio-Cortez. He was supposed to be the next Democratic leader, not someone who had to fight for reelection”.
AOC of course is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the first-term congresswoman who has exploded like a supernova across the political sky since last summer, when she defeated Joe Crowley, the boss of the Queens County Democratic Party and someone widely thought to be the next speaker of the House. And when she lands back in her district, her reception is no different. “It’s like if Camelot came to Queens,” said one onlooker. On this day, Ocasio-Cortez is the star upon which the whole room seems to revolve. Politicians who have been working in the trenches since before she was born come by to pay tribute (and of course to grab the quick selfie). It is hard to not pick up a faint air of resentment in some corners. “I send a tweet when I see something I think is cool, and it gets, like, six likes,” John Liu, a state senator, former city comptroller, former city councilman and one-time candidate for mayor told the crowd. “AOC sneezes and it gets a half-million retweets!”