Category Archives: North America

John Bolton Wants to Bomb Iran and May Get What He Wants

You underestimate John Bolton at your peril.

Remember when he was passed over for the job of secretary of state because, we were told, Donald Trump didn’t like his “brush-like mustache“? How we laughed. Yet less than 18 months later, after regular appearances on the Fox News casting couch, he was appointed national security adviser, with an office around the corner from the president’s.

Remember when Defense Secretary James Mattis met with the new national security adviser on the steps of the Pentagon and joked that he was the “devil incarnate”? Mattis is gone. Bolton is still standing.

Remember when White House chief of staff John Kelly got into a “heated, profanity-laced shouting match” with Bolton, over immigration, right outside the Oval Office? Kelly is gone. Bolton is still standing.

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Posted by on January 19, 2019 in North America



The End of Likability Politics

Elizabeth Warren could “avoid a Clinton redux—written off as too unlikable before her campaign gets off the ground.” The piece (written by a woman, sigh) ran the day the Massachusetts senator announced she was “exploring” a run for the White House. No time to lose, apparently, when it comes to setting the narrative. A supersmart ambitious Democratic woman? Aroint thee, witch!

Because what is likability if not a deference to men—with a self-deprecating smile? A likable woman doesn’t talk too loud or too much. She doesn’t take up too much space, isn’t too sexy or too dowdy, and gracefully eludes confrontation. In short, she doesn’t demand anything that men would rather keep for themselves, be it political power or sexual autonomy or the right to be safe after having a couple of drinks. A likable woman doesn’t challenge women, either, by reminding them of the compromises they’ve made and the edges they’ve trimmed off their personalities.

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Posted by on January 19, 2019 in North America



Trump vs Mattis: Watch out when men of war come to the rescue

When a general popularly known as “Mad Dog” Mattis abandons a really mad American president, you know something has fallen off the edge in Washington. Since the Roman empire, formerly loyal military chiefs have fled crackpot leaders, and Mattis’ retreat from the White House might have the smell of de Gaulle and Petain about it. 

De Gaulle was confronted by an immensely powerful hero of the people – the Lion of Verdun – who was, in his dotage, about to shrug off the sacred alliance with Britain for Nazi collaboration (for which, I suppose, read Putin’s Russia). The decision was made to have nothing to do with Petain, or what Mattis now refers to as “malign actors”. De Gaulle would lead Free France instead.

Mattis has no such ambitions – not yet, at any rate – although there are plenty of Lavals and Weygands waiting to see if Trump chooses one of them for his next secretary of defence. Besides, history should not grant Trump and Mattis such an epic panorama.

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Posted by on December 27, 2018 in North America



James Mattis Is Out; What Comes Next?

The wonder, of course, is that Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who announced his resignation on Thursday, ever got the job at all.From the beginning, Mattis and his boss, President Trump, were nearly perfect opposites. Trump, lazy and self-indulgent, appears to think, when he thinks at all, almost entirely of himself. Mattis, by contrast, is a picture of self-restraint, driven by a sense of loyalty to the country and his ideals, symbolized by his high and tight haircut and forty-four years of military service. While his boss revelled in his own hedonism, Mattis walked the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq carrying a copy of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman stoic.

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Posted by on December 22, 2018 in North America



How Puerto Rico Became the Newest Tax Haven for the Super Rich

The party known as Cocktails and Compliance—so called for mixing alcohol with tax advice—was thrown on a Friday evening in May, in a warehouse turned art gallery in Old San Juan. The host had kept his guest list confidential: It contained the names of hundreds of ultra-wealthy mainland Americans who’d moved to Puerto Rico to avoid paying taxes, most of whom were reluctant to advertise that fact. More than 1,500 mainlanders have established residency here since 2012, when the island rebranded itself as a tax haven, and the annual Cocktails is at the center of their social calendar.

At a high table, polishing off a bourbon on the rocks, sat a compact man in his 60s wearing a black T-shirt and black suede loafers, no socks. This was Mark Gold, the Florida-born kingpin of traffic-ticket contesting. Gold has attended Cocktails and Compliance every year since moving to Puerto Rico in 2016. “I was looking at different tax havens,” he said, “Andorra, Lichtenstein, Monaco. But the problem is, you have to give up your U.S. passport. When I heard about this, it was too good to be true. But it’s real. I live in paradise. I live at the Ritz-Carlton. I drive my golf cart to the beach club for breakfast. Then I go to my sunset yoga class on the beach.”

A waiter offered to replace his drink. “Why not?” said Gold.

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Posted by on December 20, 2018 in North America, Reportages


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“Alexa, Launch Our Nukes!”

There could be no more consequential decision than launching atomic weapons and possibly triggering a nuclear holocaust. President John F. Kennedy faced just such a moment during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and, after envisioning the catastrophic outcome of a U.S.-Soviet nuclear exchange, he came to the conclusion that the atomic powers should impose tough barriers on the precipitous use of such weaponry. Among the measures he and other global leaders adopted were guidelines requiring that senior officials, not just military personnel, have a role in any nuclear-launch decision.

That was then, of course, and this is now. And what a now it is! With artificial intelligence, or AI, soon to play an ever-increasing role in military affairs, as in virtually everything else in our lives, the role of humans, even in nuclear decision-making, is likely to be progressively diminished. In fact, in some future AI-saturated world, it could disappear entirely, leaving machines to determine humanity’s fate.

This isn’t idle conjecture based on science fiction movies or dystopian novels. It’s all too real, all too here and now, or at least here and soon to be. As the Pentagon and the military commands of the other great powers look to the future, what they see is a highly contested battlefield — some have called it a “hyperwar” environment — where vast swarms of AI-guided robotic weapons will fight each other at speeds far exceeding the ability of human commanders to follow the course of a battle. At such a time, it is thought, commanders might increasingly be forced to rely on ever more intelligent machines to make decisions on what weaponry to employ when and where. At first, this may not extend to nuclear weapons, but as the speed of battle increases and the “firebreak” between them and conventional weaponry shrinks, it may prove impossible to prevent the creeping automatization of even nuclear-launch decision-making.

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Posted by on December 19, 2018 in North America


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Are You Ready for an Epoch Fail?

You know the story: the globalists want your guns. They want your democracy. They’re hovering just beyond the horizon in those black helicopters. They control the media and Wall Street. They’ve burrowed into a deep state that stretches like a vast tectonic plate beneath America’s fragile government institutions. They want to replace the United States with the United Nations, erase national borders, and create one huge, malevolent international order.

The only thing that stands in their way is — take your pick — the Second Amendment, Twitter, or Donald Trump.

Conspiracy theorists have, in fact, been warning about just such a New World Order for decades, going all the way back to the isolationist critics of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and to fears about the United Nations in the post-World War II moment. During the Cold War, the John Birch Society and fringe elements of the Republican Party nurtured just such anti-globalist sentiments, but they never made much headway in the mainstream world. As the Cold War ended, however, the anti-globalist virus began to spread again, this time more rapidly, and it’s threatening to become a pandemic.

The Agenda 21 Dystopia

On September 11, 1990, just after Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Kuwait and just before the reunification of Germany, George H.W. Bush spoke of a “new world order” that would unite all countries in defense of the rule of law and thwart the Iraqi autocrat’s regional ambitions. The phrase was meant as a rallying cry, not an actual plan, but that didn’t stop the president’s America First critics from reading all manner of mayhem into his speech.

The elder Bush, who had long toiled in the shadow of Ronald Reagan, was in some ways a curious target for those who feared the end of U.S. sovereignty. As recent posthumous assessments revealed, he was an early champion of states’ rights (against civil rights), supported prayer in school and the NRA, made a U-turn as a presidential candidate to oppose abortion, launched wars in Panama and the Persian Gulf, and presided over the collapse of the Soviet Union. Anti-globalists, however, focused on a different part of Bush’s résumé: he’d gone to Yale, later belonged to a wealthy elite of Texas oil barons, served as ambassador to the United Nations, and was a card-carrying member of both the Council on Foreign Relations and that most elite of global agenda-setting outfits, the Trilateral Commission.

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Posted by on December 17, 2018 in North America


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Dear liberals, don’t assume people of colour will solve all your problems

The ethno-nationalists of the world are afraid. People like rightwing Fox News pundit Laura Ingraham spent much of the past year ranting about how “massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people”. Census reports confirm her fears, projecting that by 2044 50.3% of all Americans will be minorities.

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Posted by on December 13, 2018 in North America



After a record number of U.S. deaths in 2017, the opioid epidemic may be receding

The CDC released the official 2017 mortality and drug overdose data this week, and any way you slice it, it’s bad. The numbers show the United States in the midst of the longest sustained decline in life expectancy since World War I. The drop is driven in large part by the drug overdose epidemic, which claimed 70,237 lives, an increase of nearly 7,000 over the previous year.

Joshua M. Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, summed it up in an interview with The Washington Post: “I think this is a very dismal picture of health in the United States.”

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Posted by on December 13, 2018 in North America


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How U.S. and Chinese firms are outmaneuvering Trump in trade war

President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports are having the desired effect of driving production out of China — but not to America.

Less than a month after the Trump administration hit $200 billion worth of Chinese imports with a 10 percent tariff, Hong Kong-based furniture maker Manwah Holdings broke ground on an expansion of a facility outside Ho Chi Minh City.

The company, which specializes in reclining chairs and sofas that have become a fixture in middle-class American living rooms, purchased in June what was already one of Vietnam’s largest furniture factories. By next year, it will be the biggest.

Some 9,000 miles away from the deepwater ports of China and new factory towns in Vietnam, American retailers are grappling with how much of the tariffs they can absorb.

Gao Jian, of the Vnocean Business Consulting Service in Vietnam, said he has guided about 40 Chinese enterprises per month to the more than 50 industrial parks he helps recruit for so far.

“Some companies can absorb a 10 percent tariff, but a 25 percent

would eat up their entire profit,” Gao said. “They would have to relocate and shut down their factories in China.”

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Posted by on December 13, 2018 in Asia, Economy, North America


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