Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Is Trump an authoritarian, or a crook? The answer is shaping up. Trump must be an authoritarian precisely because he is a crook.

David Frum
Said David Frum, a senior editor at the Atlantic, in his post titled "The President Is a Crook" today.

Frum indicated that the chances of Trump shutting down Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry now have increased. "Trump has apparently calculated that the cost of closing down Robert Mueller’s inquiry is greater than the cost of enduring it. That always looked a gamble against the odds. Now it looks a proven bad bet, and a bet that will only worsen over time," he wrote.

Donald Trump has expressed his frustration (Listen here) many times saying "The saddest thing is that because I'm the President of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI."

Frum concludes writing this: "Trump’s whole philosophy of life is of a kill-or-be-killed competition. It’s an old question: Is Trump an authoritarian, or a crook? The answer is shaping up. Trump must be an authoritarian precisely because he is a crook. The country can have the rule of law, or it can keep the Trump presidency. Facing that choice, who doubts what Trump’s answer, or the answer of his supporters, will be?"


Read the full post here.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

‘They have dollars, we have God’

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a Turkish 

politician serving as President of Turkey 

since 2014. He previously served as 
Prime Minister from 2003 to 2014 
and as Mayor of Istanbul 
from 1994 to 1998. Wikipedia
Said: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calling on his people to trust God during a rallying call to supporters in the Black Sea province of Rize on August 10. He said, "Today we are better than yesterday, tomorrow we will be better than today. You do not need to worry at all. Various manipulations were running. You shouldn't pay attention to those manipulations. Don't forget that, if they have their dollars we do have our people, we do have our God." 

Erdogan was pointing in Washington’s direction when he said “they have dollars, we have God.”

The exchange rate is around 6.6 liras for one dollar, and 7.5 liras for a euro, compared to 3.5 liras for one dollar and 4.1 liras for one euro in August last year.

Politico, in its July 14 post titled "Europe watches as Turkey burns" has indicated that Turkey's current crisis is the result of years of loose fiscal and monetary policies and is almost entirely of Erdoğan’s own making. 

Another observation made in this article points out that "a big part of what makes the situation so dangerous for Turkey is that Erdoğan is the only one with the power to fix things. He is unlikely to do so in the near term."
Instead of pursuing a compromise in his standoff with the Trump administration over Turkey’s imprisonment of an American pastor, Erdoğan is digging in his heels, signalling this week that he’s prepared for “war.” On Tuesday he said Turks would boycott iPhones and other American electronics. He also lashed out at domestic critics of Turkey, calling them “traitors” and “economic terrorists.” (Politico)

Erdoğan has already announced ‘boycott’ of American electronics, according to the latest reports.

Read the full article of Politico here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

“I’m a low-key understated guy but that should not be mistaken for what my spine is made of - so I’ll just leave it at that."

Christopher Wray
Said FBI Director Christopher Wray when asked if he’d threatened to quit his post at any point, in a question-and-answer session at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, reported Bloomberg.

Here are the highlights of what else Director Wray opined:
  1. Mueller investigation is NOT a “witch hunt.” I think it’s a professional investigation conducted by a man that I’ve known to be a straight shooter.
  2. I stand by the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia acted - and continues to act - to interfere in American politics.
  3. Russia is “by far the most aggressive actor” trying to disrupt U.S. society and continues to engage in “malign influence operations” aimed at sowing discord and divisiveness.
Asked if he’d threatened to quit his post at any point, Wray said, “I’m a low-key understated guy but that should not be mistaken for what my spine is made of -- so I’ll just leave it at that."

Read the full article here.

Also the video of the event below.






Monday, July 16, 2018

“You can almost see the picture of Snowden in handcuffs being dragged into Air Force One"

Said Prof. Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago Law School as per an article titled "Trump-Putin summit mystery: What about Snowden?" written by Stephanie Murray in today's Politico.

Murray notes that as a candidate, Trump “guarantee[d]” he would bring home the infamous National Security Agency whistleblower. But as president, however, he has shown no desire to bring Snowden back. Murray in his article writes "some experts think handing over Snowden would be an easy way for Putin to do Trump a favor — giving the president a victory that would especially please intelligence and national security officials angry he hasn’t done more to counter Russian election meddling. Before Trump was sworn in in January 2017, former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell wrote that handing over Edward Snowden would be “the perfect inauguration gift” from Putin to Trump."
Source: sputniknews.com
“If Trump wants this as a victory then I don’t see why Putin wouldn’t give it to him. If Putin wants to either do a favor for Trump or make Trump look good, and if Trump wants this, it would be an easy thing for Putin to do. You can almost see the picture of Snowden in handcuffs being dragged into Air Force One,” Prof. Stone is reported saying.

Read the full article here.

Monday, July 9, 2018

"Capitalism is not a game where the person who dies with the most money wins. Wealth is deferred consumption, and if you die without spending your money or giving it away, then you’ve deferred that consumption a bit too much."

Source
Said: Felix Salmon, a regular Slate contributor and host of the Slate Money podcast, in his July 8, 2018 piece "Takeaway From the New Billionaires Ranking: Zuckerberg and Bezos Don’t Give Away Enough Money" in slate.com.  

Felix explains how and why 'Mark Zuckerberg Tops Warren Buffett' in the Bloomberg’s list of world’s-richest people. In the same way how Amazon's Jeff Bezos has now become richer than Bill Gates. The difference in the net worth is the result of the fact that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are also in "the competition to give away the most money in service of making the world a better place." 

Bill Gates has donated more than 700 million shares of Microsoft since 1994 and Warren Buffett some 290 million Berkshire Hathaway B-shares since 2006 for the charity work being done throughout the world. Felix writes that if they’d simply held on to those shares instead, Bill Gates today would be some $71 billion richer having a net worth of $165 billion, making him comfortably the world’s richest man. Similarly, Warren Buffett would have about $54 billion extra to his current net worth of $81.2 billion, and he would be worth roughly $135 billion today. That’s way more than Zuckerberg.

It’s to their credit that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett aren’t in the world’s-richest-man competition, and both are quite happy to be overtaken in the richest-man stakes by others. 

"The important thing to remember is that capitalism is not a game where the person who dies with the most money wins. Wealth is deferred consumption, and if you die without spending your money or giving it away, then, assuming you’re not interested in starting a dynasty, you’ve deferred that consumption a bit too much. If Gates wanted to play the wealth-maximization game, then he would still be the world’s richest person by a comfortable margin. It’s to his credit that he isn’t playing that game, and it’s to Buffett’s credit that he’s happy to be overtaken in the richest-man stakes by Zuckerberg," Felix observes.


Read the full article here.

Friday, June 15, 2018

"In Silicon Valley, after all, math is less important than intangibles like vision. And when $1 billion can become $1.5 billion, or even $2 billion, in a manner of weeks, you’ve entered a world of abstraction".

Said: Maya Kosoff in her column titled "[“I Want No Part In It”: The Hysterical Debate Over Silicon Valley’s Next Big Thing"] in Vanity Fair of June 14. Her comment was based on the astronomical rise in the valuation of Bird, the electric-scooter start-up, from $300 million in March this year to $1 billion at the end of May and now the startup is seeking a fresh round of $200 million funding at $2 billion valuation - double the valuation in less than one month!

Maya beautifully illustrates the arguments for and against the scooter culture that is gripping the Metros like San Francisco and Los Angeles where the sudden preponderance of Bird scooters has created a cottage industry of people who collect and charge Bird scooters, known as “Bird hunters.” 

Positive:
True believers see things differently. “It’s been [over] a decade” since the Segway, another scooter-start-up investor told me of the inevitable comparison. “Plenty of things didn’t work a decade ago that work now, due to cultural shifts.” Car- and bike-sharing services have already inaugurated a new way of thinking about public and private transportation, acclimating consumers to the idea that they don’t need their own vehicles to get around. Kevin Roose, reporting for The New York Times, grudgingly admitted that electric scooters, while “kind of dorky,” are also weirdly useful, under the right circumstances. “I wanted to hate the scooters. I really did,” he wrote, before traveling to Los Angeles for work. “Tech hubris on wheels - what’s not to loathe?” Instead, he fell in love. The scooters are ubiquitous, easily discovered and unlocked via smartphone app, and driving is simple: a throttle controls the speed, which tops out at a breezy 15 miles per hour, and a hand brake brings you to a smooth stop. When you arrive at your destination, you leave the scooter wherever you like and lock it with the app.
Negative:
Indeed, the vigor expressed by Bird enthusiasts may be matched only by the company’s detractors, who have condemned the scooters as a plague, a nuisance, and even an existential danger. “It’s wheelmageddon,” one San Francisco resident told me in April. “They are everywhere . . . People are zooming past pedestrians without a single fuck to give.” 
Read Maya's full article here.

You can also watch below how this new breed of electric scooters is invading San Francisco (Courtesy: Engadget):


Sunday, May 6, 2018

"You can’t get in trouble for what you don’t say.”

Sean Spicer
Said Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer commenting on the functioning of Sarah Sanders who replaced him in July last year. The comment appears in The Washington Post story on "As a willing warrior for Trump, Sarah Sanders struggles to maintain credibility."
“Sarah has done a fantastic job of keeping in line with understanding how to effectively communicate what the president’s thoughts are at any given time, recognizing that it is a very dynamic and fluid situation in many cases,” Spicer said. “What she has done is, she has realized, you can’t get in trouble for what you don’t say.”
Read the full story here.

Watch Sarah Sanders' press briefing below:


(Courtesy: PBS - a publicly funded 
American broadcaster Wikipedia)

Thursday, May 3, 2018

"Lying to federal investigators is a crime, though lying on TV is not."

Source: Wikipedia
Said: Barbara McQuade, a former federal prosecutor and Professor from Practice at University of Michigan. She was commenting on Rudolph W. Giuliani’s statement that the president paid his lawyer Michael Cohen $35,000 monthly to reimburse him the costs he incurred in the widely publicised Stormy Daniels settlement for which he paid $130,000 from his personal funds. 

Giuliani is the most recent entrant to the Trump’s legal team. “I’m sure Giuliani's strategy was damage control but I’m not sure he controlled much,” said McQuade as quoted by Washington Post's Analysis: "Giuliani’s media blitz gives investigators new leads, new evidence"

According to the Washington Post's analysis, Giuliani asserted that Trump fired James B. Comey as FBI director because Comey would not reveal publicly that the president was not under investigation. Commenting on this McQuade said “I think even Trump's asking Comey to publicly exonerate him does interfere with the investigation and could constitute obstruction of justice.” Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is also investigating whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey.

McQuade said investigators are also likely to explore money-laundering issues. Giuliani’s TV interviews might have been an effort to speak to Cohen and to reassure him that the White House still has his back. “Maybe the strategy there is to try to calm him down so he’s not tempted to cooperate,” she explained.

Investigators are likely to ask witnesses about the topic and compare what Giuliani said publicly about Trump’s arrangement with Cohen with what people have told them in the past, McQuade said. Lying to federal investigators is a crime, though lying on TV is not. 

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

I can tell you there have been people that have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite some time and I think they should understand by now the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.

(Courtesy: C-Span)
Said: Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein responding to a question from the CNN reporter Laura Jarrett about possible articles of impeachment by the House Freedom Caucus over his handling of document requests.

Her question was "As you think about the importance of separation of powers on the day, any reaction on the news that certain members of the House Caucus have drafted articles of impeachment?" 

Answering the question, Rosenstein said: “I saw that draft. I don't know who wrote it. It illustrates the important principle of the rule of law. We make mistakes. That is not to say we are flawless. But the way we operate is if we can accuse someone of wrongdoing, we have to have admissible evidence, credible witnesses and be able to prove our case in court and fix our signature to the charging documents. There is a lot talk about FISA applications and many people I see talking about it seem not to recognize what a FISA application is. It is like a search warrant. In order to get a FISA search warrant, you need an affidavit signed by a career federal law enforcement agent. If it is wrong, that person is going to face consequences - you can face discipline or even prosecution. That is the way we operate. We have people who are accountable. I just don't have anything to say about documents like that nobody has the courage to put their name on an State leakage that way, but I can tell you there have been people that have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite some time and I think they should understand by now the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted. We are going to do what is required by the rule of law and any kind of threats will not affect the way we do our job. We have a responsibility. We take an oath. You raise your right hand and swearing of to defend the United States - swear in an oath to defend the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. That is your responsibility. Everybody in the department takes that oath. If they violate it, they know they will be held accountable.”

Rosenstein was speaking on the rule of law, the first amendment, and the mission of the justice department at the Newseum in Washington. 



Watch full speech of Rod J. Rosenstein here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"The prime minister (Narendra Modi) has a duty to safeguard and fight for all of the people of India, not just those who are allied with him politically."

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing 
a rally in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh
Photograph: @BJP4India/Twitter
Said: The editorial board of The New York Times in its 'Opinion' editorial titled "Modi’s Long Silence as Women in India Are Attacked" published today. "The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section," informs the NYT website.

The editorial board writes on Mr. Modi's silence on the recent "horrifying rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl" at Kathua, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, and also on another case of a rape in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, in which a state lawmaker from his party is the main accused: "Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India tweets frequently and considers himself a talented orator. Yet he loses his voice when it comes to speaking out about the dangers faced by women and minorities who are frequent targets of the nationalist and communal forces that are part of the base of his Bharatiya Janata Party."

The editorial board observes that "Mr. Modi’s silence is as perplexing as it is distressing." Referring to the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case in Delhi, the editorial says: "He (Mr. Modi) seems to have failed to learn the lesson of his predecessors." The then government led by the Congress party, lost the 2014 parliamentary elections for its heartlessness. "The B.J.P. won the elections in large part because Mr. Modi promised to make the government more responsive to the needs of Indians who were left behind by a government dogged by corruption scandals and widely considered rudderless," the board noted. "Instead, he (Mr. Modi) has exhibited a pattern of silence and deflection that is deeply worrying to anybody who cares about the health of the world’s largest democracy," the NYT board members conclude.

Read full editorial here.

Monday, April 16, 2018

“The United States essentially has three Russia policies: the president’s, the executive branch’s and Congress’s.”

Angela Stent
Said: Angela Stent, a former White House official and professor at Georgetown University. Angela was quoted in a piece "Trump, a reluctant hawk, has battled his top aides on Russia and lost" in Washington Post today by Greg Jaffe, John Hudson and Philip Rucker.

The authors describe the slow transformation of Donald Trump from a Putin's fan to a reluctant Putin basher during his presidency. This transformation has been due to the contribution of his free and frank key members of administration, in general, and right minded tough Generals, in particular. The key role played by the Congress, dominated by members having anti-Putin sentiments, making Trump to sign the bill approving new sanctions on Russia in late July, is seen as the major blow to Trump’s efforts to reach out to Putin. This bill was cleared with a veto-proof majority. Perhaps, Trump had planned to change the world by befriending with Putin whom he considered the most important and powerful. 

According to the authors, some European diplomats in Washington still find it difficult to believe tthat the recent tough moves against Syria and Russia have Trump’s full support. They are asking: “This wouldn’t be the policy unless Trump supports it. . . . Yes?” Russia analysts seem just as mystified.

The authors end with Angela Stent's quote on Donald Trump. “This is a man who if he had his druthers would be pursuing a much more open and friendly policy with Russia,” said Angela Stent, a former White House official and professor at Georgetown University. “The United States essentially has three Russia policies: the president’s, the executive branch’s and Congress’s.”

Read full story here.

Sizing Up Business in Russia & Eurasia: Reflections from 25 Years of Teaching

To celebrate 25 years of Dr. Trevor Gunn teaching at Georgetown University, CERES hosted a dialogue with Drs. Gunn and Angela Stent on "Sizing Up Business in Russia & Eurasia: Reflections from 25 Years of Teaching."

Watch the programme below.



Wednesday, April 11, 2018

“I would be lying to you if I told that I am not [worried].”: Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen

Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen said in a phone conversation on Tuesday with CNN's Don Lemon: "I am unhappy to have my personal residence and office raided. But I will tell you that members of the FBI that conducted the search and seizure were all extremely professional, courteous and respectful. And I thanked them at the conclusion."

Asked if he was worried, Cohen said; "I would be lying to you if I told that I am not. Do I need this in my life? No. Do I want to be involved in this? No." 

Read full story here.


Michael Cohen: Trump's loyal fixer 
Anderson Cooper 360 
CNN's Gloria Borger investigates President Donald 
Trump's longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen. 
Source: CNN

Monday, April 9, 2018

It is of utmost importance for an MP to continue winning his/her own seat. Never mind the political party.

Said Dinesh Trivedi, a TMC Lok Sabha MP, in his column in Indian Express "If Congress wins Karnataka, BJP revolt will take the shape of a tsunami."

The moral of the story? Never try to predict election results. If Congress wins Karnataka, the revolt within the BJP will take the shape of a tsunami. Those who entered the party in 2014 just to win, will be the first ones to look for greener pastures as they never came to BJP for ideological reasons in the first place. It is of utmost importance for an MP to continue winning his/her own seat. Never mind the political party.

Read the full story here.

The president has de-spined the GOP. One by one, congressional leaders have got their spines removed

Richard Cohen
Said Richard Cohen, Opinion writer in Washington Post under "Trump has performed a medical miracle on the Republican Party"

"The first person to be filleted in this matter was Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), the speaker of the House. He was averse to Donald Trump, but he subordinated the larger agenda of opposing an anti-democratic president to a smaller agenda of tax cuts and regulatory reform. Ryan would make a splendid president of any chamber of commerce.

The other leaders have been similarly de-spined. They chortle among themselves as Trump says in the morning that he will veto this bill or that bill, and in the afternoon signs it. They say nothing about the rhetorical mugging of Mexico or his long-held and mysterious adulation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. They stay silent while being soaked in a rain of lies, dignity running off them and splashing into the Washington gutter."