Who is to blame for this awful US election?


Fox News? The four horsemen of the Republican apocalypse? The FBI? Whatever the outcome, historians will judge harshly those who did not stop Trump when they could

The US election might not aim tomorrow. Anyone who lived through the photo-finish of 2000, when it took until mid-December for a win to be declared and only then by a ruling of the supreme court will know that a presidential competition does not always make a chairwoman, at the least not right away. But one thing will certainly be over and that is the dizzying, sometimes nauseating, 18 -month-long saga that has been the 2016 campaign.

It is standard to describe a US presidential tournament as bitternes and divisive. In 2012, the Protector front-page tale branded the combat of Barack Obama v Mitt Romney one of the most closely opposed and polarised in recent history. Appearing back, that race looks like a veritable doctrine seminar, exemplary in its civility and decorum, compared with this one.

Americas search for Obamas successor has been a horror present of lies, bully and the bigotry. Photograph: Robyn Beck/ AFP/ Getty Images

In a crowded field, the 2016 campaign stands out as remarkably awful. Yes, it has been riveting, whether followed from a distance or covered up close. Those who say it has unfolded like a Netflix drama in real day are not exaggerating. Except no drama would have dared offer this cast of characters a real-estate tycoon with a crush on a Russian despot, an ex-congressman investigated for sexting an underage daughter, a former Miss Universe humbled as Miss Piggy or the last-minute reversals of luck. Campaign 2016 has built House of Cards seem tame.

But that cannot disguise the truth: the USs search for Obamas successor has been a horror indicate, uncovering and dredging up a stew of racism, misogyny and casual violence bubbling below the surface of American life. Eight in 10 US voters say the campaign has left them feeling disgusted, according to a CBS/ New York Times poll last week. Not dissatisfied. Disgusted . The platonic ideal of an election is a sober discussion of the questions that will confront the US over the next decade. The reality has been a marathon of insult, menace and lies.

The blame for this belongs to one human. Donald Trump has opposed a presidential campaign like no other. He has mocked opponents for their appears, belittled females, disparaged war heroes, damned ethnic and other minorities in crude, bigoted language, jeered at disabled people, beaten his chest with bellicose promises of state-sponsored violence that would trample on the US constitution and trigger a third world war, and told dozens and dozens of lies every day. While his foe has offered detailed and substantive policy prescriptions, those have scarcely got a mention: Trumps knack for hogging media attention, usually by saying or tweeting something jaw-droppingly outrageous, has left no room. In the four-and-a-half hours of formal presidential debates between Trump and Hillary Clinton, climate change was discussed for not one minute.

But Trump does not bear the blame alone. Also shamed by the 2016 campaign are those institutions and individuals who failed to stand up to him. Some understood the danger he represented, considering in him a would-be despot I alone can fix this! whose contempt for basic democratic norms, from the importance of a free press to the need to respect the outcome of a democratic election, indicated a lurch towards fascism. That small handful will be remembered with appreciation. But, whatever the outcome today, historians of the American republic will judge harshly those who did not stop Trump when they could. It will damn those who pandered, pampered and enabled him to reach this moment: where polls still depict him with a track, albeit narrow, to the White House.

Jeb Bush was among the Republican competitors who had no idea how to deal with Trump. Photograph: Spencer Platt/ Getty Images

First in this roll-call of disgrace is the Republican party. Among those hanging their heads should be the 16 competitor an applicant who allowed themselves to be steamrollered by a reality Tv host and serially bankrupted businessman. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and the others had no idea how to deal with Trump. They collectively made a strategic fault by failing to realise their primary task was to take him out. Instead, they opposed one another, each hoping to emerge as the sole, anti-Trump nominee around whom Republicans would unite. That proved a delusion.

As Trumps poll lead increased in late 2015 and early 2016, his contenders grew ever more frightened of taking a shot at him, anxious that they might alienate his supporters or, worse, that he might train his flame back on them. So while, say, Chris Christie mocked Rubio on a Tv debate stage in New Hampshire in February, Trump could literally step back and watch merely to emerge as the win in that states Republican primary a few days later.

Trump rival and New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Photograph: Mel Evans/ AP

Perhaps the Republican cannot be blamed for the weakness of the field that fought Trump for their partys nomination. Perhaps no traditional legislator no senator or governor could take on Trump when the Republican grassroots, so furious at the political establishment, were hungering for an foreigner.( Although, of course, this anti-establishment ardor, this disgust of all things Washington, was itself stoked for years by Republicans and their allies on Fox News and in the rest of the conservative political-media-entertainment complex. In losing their party to Trump, the Republican were burned by a fire they themselves had started .)

But what shames them is their conduct afterwards. Even as Trump made clear what kind of man he is calling Mexicans rapists, suggesting African-Americans are too lazy to run, that Jews watch everything through the lens of money, calling females puppies and animals, threatening violence against protesters, endorsing torment and the murder of the families of suspected terrorists, calling for a foreign power( Russia) to hack into emails belonging to his political competitor, arguing that women who have abortions should face some sort of punishment, and being uncovered as a proud perpetrator of sexual assault, a man whose approach to girls is to grab them by the pussy even after all this and so much more, most senior Republicans of note stood by him.

To be sure, they denounced him occasionally, when the extremity of their standard bearers behaviour left them no alternative. Paul Ryan, who serves as speaker of the House of Representatives, rightly called it the textbook definition of a racist commentary when Trump used to say Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not be impartial in handling the lawsuit against the so-called Trump University because Curiel was Mexican. In fact, the judge was a US citizen, born in Indiana. Ryan cold-shouldered Trump again, after the release of the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump boasted of his attacks on girls. But he never refuted him fully. Ryan never said Trump was unfit to be president of the United States and that he would not vote for him.

Senator John McCain initially endorsed Trump. Photograph: J. Scott Applewhite/ AP

The same was nearly true of Senator John McCain, tortured for five and a half years in a Hanoi cell and yet mocked as not a hero by Trump( who said he preferred those who were not captured ). McCain swallowed that, along with Trumps promise to ban Muslims and to deport 11 million undocumented migrants merely receding his endorsement last month, after the notorious tape.

Until then, McCain, like most of his fellow Republicans, clung to the fiction that Trump would transform himself into a new being: sober, presidential and, above all, capable of being tamed by the Republican establishment even though there was not a shred of evidence, bar a very occasional willingness on the candidates proportion to read prepared lines from a teleprompter, to subsistence that fantasy.

That puts them on a moral aircraft only slightly above that occupied by Trumps trio of enablers: Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich. Those three horsemen of the Republican apocalypse conspired in the lie that a snake-oil salesman was fit to be president and destroyed what remained of their reputations in the process. As Hillary Clinton pointed out, Giuliani used to prosecute tax-dodgers. In this campaign, he praised Trumps failure to pay income tax for at least two decades as proof of his genius.

And that is to omitted the fourth horseman: Mike Pence, the defender of family values who has served as the running mate of a thrice-married, serially adulterous, self-confessed grabber of women. When the 2005 grab them videotape emerged, Pence went into seclusion. Some thought he might emerge to announce he was discontinuing the Republican ticket. He did no such thing. Instead, he investigated his conscience, detected it pristine and continued to act as a character witness to a man who cheats his taxes, cheats on his spouses and lies every time he opens his mouth.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence campaign together In Wisconsin. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/ Getty Images

Its easy to attack the spineless leaders of the Republican party. Easy but incomplete. Its a rule of political combat that no one ever, ever, attacks the voters a rule Clinton unwisely violated when she deployed an odd metaphor to describe half of Trumps supporters as a basket of deplorables. But that regulation only applies to candidates for office. Any truthful assessment of a campaign has at least to include those doing the voting.

Some blame surely attaches to the Americans who let Trump keep up the bully and the bigotry and voted for him anyway. There is no escaping the fact that north of 40% of the US electorate have been prepared to vote for Trump despite everything that he has said and done. One poll received 22% of Trumps own advocates believed he would start a nuclear war. They thought that, but were prepared to vote for him anyway. None of them will be able to say: We didnt know.

Notable among that group are Christian evangelical voters, people who used to say that character mattered, that the personal conduct of a candidate was crucial. Five years ago, merely 30% of white evangelicals believed that a person guilty of immoral personal behaviour could behave ethically in a public role. Now that figure stands at 72%, a remarkably rapid change. It means people of supposedly deep moral convictions have been prepared to junk those faiths only to accommodate Trump.

The Christian referendum: a Republican presidential rally in Mobile Alabama. Photo: Julie Dermansky/ Corbis via Getty Images

Still, they will have had their reasons including, for many millions, an all-consuming loathing of Hillary Clinton, a hatred so deep it blocks out, or at least outweighs, Trumps copious flaws. Analysts have not been sure how to explain the other motives. Some have been compassionate and highlighted the role of economic disadvantage among Trump supporters, those left behind by globalisation. Others have suggested that Trumpism is a howling of often racist, misogynistic rage from angry white humen, furious that their once-privileged place in American life has been supplanted. The latter camp has taken to sharing scenes or reports of overt racism and sexism by Trump advocates with the sarcastic caption: economic nervousnes.

This debate has been exhaustively aired in parts of the American press, but, overall, the media and especially TV shares some responsibility for the dire nation of the 2016 campaign. Its true that the most respectable newspapers and reporters kept tabs on Trumps prodigious lie: one correspondent tweeted out a daily tally, often stretching into the dozens. Others maintained diligent fact-checking services.

But the big picture was indulgence on an epic scale. For months, Trump had unique and unprecedented access to the airwaves of cable TV. Rather than wait to be booked for a set-piece interview, he would simply call up Fox or MSNBC and set himself on the air. He knew he was ratings gold; he knew the networks would not be able to say no. He had a similarly instinctive, reptilian understanding of the medias addiction to outrage: his nocturnal tweeting habit spread offence and insult far and wide but it ensured he remained at the centre of public attention for over a year. According to the media analyst Jack Shafer, the only subject ever to have enjoyed a comparable full-spectrum predominance is 9/11.

Yet that quantitative imbalance was not the only distortion. The media clung to its notion that balance necessitated equivalence, so that if Trump wallowed in dishonesty, involving constant fact-checking, then Clinton had to be treated as equally dishonest. Witness the morning Tv anchor Matt Lauer, widely pilloried for a programme in which he let Trump say anything, much of it false, but played inquisitor-general with Clinton, especially over her emails.( Still, the enduring face of media indulgence of Trump lies in the fact that of late-night TV host Jimmy Fallon, playfully ruffling the hair of the real estate tycoon treating him as merely another lovable rogue .)

The moment when TV host Jimmy Fallon ruffled Trumps hair epitomised the medias indulgence of him.

Nowhere was this mindset more misleading than in the never-ending discussion of those emails, especially in the campaigns final stretch. Which brings us to the role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and, in particular, its director, James Comey. His decision to announce 10 days before election day that he was, in effect, reopening the FBI probe into the email affair handed the last week of the campaign to Trump. It put Clinton on the defensive, halted her momentum and stopped the bleeding in Team Trump. Many analysts believe that, by bringing Republican voters back home to the party, it will also prevent Democrats retaking the senate.

FBI director James Comey takes his place in the hall of shame. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/ AP

And all that on what turned out to be an wholly false premise. On Sunday, Comey had to admit that the cache of supposedly new emails was, in fact , nothing of the kind and that there were no grounds to alter his July view that Clinton should face no farther action. But by then the damage had been done. Whether through partisan bias or sheer incompetence, we do not yet fully know.

So Comey takes his place in the vestibule of shame of the 2016 campaign, shuffling into the group photo alongside Julian Assange, who might as well have handed over his WikiLeaks operation to the Trump campaign. Assange kept up a drip feed of leaked emails from the Clinton team, many of them embarrassing , none devastating while conspicuously leaking nothing that might injury the Republican nominee. WikiLeaks never created Trumps tax returns or the outtakes from The Apprentice said to contain yet more evidence that Trump is a bigot and sex predator. It targeted Clinton alone.

Julian Assanges WikiLeaks operation kept up a drip feed of leaked emails from the Clinton team, while leaking nothing that might damage Trump. Photo: Ken McKay/ ITV/ Rex/ Shutterstock

And there should be room in that photo for Vladimir Putin, whose intelligence agencies are near-universally believed to be behind the wholesale hacking of the Democratic party, and whose goal appears to have been either the process of establishing Trump or, failing that, the sowing of disarray and chaos in the US electoral system.( Some believe Putin is saving his greatest assault till last, dreading he will hack the electronic voting system being implemented in several key US nations, thereby casting doubt on the validity of the result .)

And who would stand on the other side? Who should win a medal for their service in this bloody campaign? Michelle Obama will be remembered for devoting two of the best speeches of recent times, one at the Democratic convention, the other lambasting Trump for his misogyny. The old media behemoths of the New York Times and Washington Post deserve great praise for keeping the spotlight on Trump, the former by uncovering his non-payment of taxation, the latter for the work of David Fahrenthold, who got the scoop on the grab them videotape and who kept excavating at Trumps exaggerated claims of charitable giving. The comedians of Saturday Night Live deserve a mention, too, especially for Alec Baldwins performance, which captured the bullying, meandering emptiness of Trump. Daily Show alumni John Oliver and Samantha Bee also did their bit and did it well.

The Daily Shows Samantha Bee. Photo: YouTube

Those who can hold their heads highest, however, are the conservatives who set country before party. The Bush family could have gone farther by, say, officially backing Clinton but their refusal to endorse Trump does something to redeem the clans reputation. Newspapers such as the Arizona Republic or the Dallas Morning News broke with their pasts, and their readers, to endorse a Democrat rather than back someone they watched as unfit. The backlash was severe: staff at the Arizona paper received death threats. Individuals including senators Jeff Flake and Ben Sasse and former Bush speechwriter David Frum made a similar choice.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Ted Cruz Twitter account ‘likes’ pornographic tweet

8 days ago

Married Texas senator, who once defended a ban on sex dolls, asked to explain how his account came to like the graphic post

Texas senator Ted Cruz has been asked to explain himself after his official account “liked” a pornographic tweet.

Although liking a Twitter post does not necessarily share it, the tweet became available to view on Cruz’s confirmed profile, leading to series of awkward screenshots.

A screenshot posted by Twitter user Ashley Feinberg of the pornographic tweet’ liked’ by Cruz’s account. Photograph: Ashley Feinberg/ Twitter

Catherine Frazier, Cruz’s senior communications adviser, said ” the offensive tweet positioned on @tedcruz account earlier has been removed by staff and reported to Twitter “.

But this added to confusion about what had happened, because the like was not a tweet and Frazier’s statement implied that it was made by someone who should not have had access to Cruz’s account.

Catherine Frazier (@ catblackfrazier)

The offensive tweet positioned on @tedcruz account earlier has been removed by staff and reported to Twitter

September 12, 2017

Cruz joked to reporters on Tuesday that” perhaps we should have done something like this during the Indiana primary “. Cruz finished second to Donald Trump in that state’s presidential primary, ultimately dooming his presidential campaign, which long suffered from the constant media attention are received by Trump.

The Texas senator went on to add” there are a number of people on the team that have access to the account and it appears that someone inadvertently reached the like button “. When would like to know whether Cruz himself had liked the tweet, he told said:” It was a staffing issue, and it was inadvertent, it was a mistake, it was not a deliberate action .”

The mishap was particularly awkward due to Cruz’s support of conservative household values and his involvement in a court case in Texas about banning the use of sexuality toys.

In 2007, when he was Texas’s solicitor general, two sex doll companies sued to overrule the state’s outlaw on the sale of so-called marital assists. The state defended the ban in submissions partly written by Cruz’s office, which argued 😛 TAGEND

There is no substantive due process right to induce one’s genitals for non-medical purposes unrelated to procreation or outside of an interpersonal relationship.

The US supreme court subsequently found that there was no legality to the country interfering in the sexuality lives of consenting adults.

The liking of the pornographic post helped resurface a 2016 tweet from the Tv producer Craig Mazin, in which he said he shared a room with Cruz and his notion about genital stimulation were rather different to those expressed in the country argument.

Craig Mazin (@ clmazin)

Ted Cruz supposes people don’t have a right to “stimulate their genitals.” I was his college roommate. This would be a new notion of his.

April 13, 2016

Twitter users stimulated gags about the incident based on clips of the pornographic video liked by Cruz’s account.

Justin (@ DTPJustin)

Me waiting for Ted Cruz’s inevitable statement that his Twitter was hacked pic.twitter.com/ QVkpizbS4 7

September 12, 2017

Philip DeFranco (@ PhillyD) When you find why Ted Cruz is trending …

Read more: www.theguardian.com

‘No Fascist USA! ‘: how hardcore punk gas the Antifa movement

13 days ago

The anti-fascist motion describe on punks political awareness and network for activism and right now may be its most crucial moment

” No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA !”

When Green Day chanted the repurposed lyrics from Texan punk trailblazers MDC’s 1981 sung Born to Die during the 2016 American Music Awards, it dedicated the burgeoning anti-Trump, anti-fascist motion the slogan it needed- and it would soon appear on placards, T-shirts and be chanted by protesters in their thousands in months to arrived.

It was a tiny piece of punk history writ big on American cultural life- but it only devoted the merest hint of US hardcore punk’s influence on the current political landscape.

As political commentators struggle to nail down the exact nature of Antifa‘s masked legions, they’ve overlooked one thing: Antifa has been critically influenced by hardcore punk for nearly four decades.

From on the collectivist principles of anarchist punk bands such as Crass and Conflict, the political outrage of groups such as the Dead Kennedys, MDC and Discharge, Antifa depicts on decades of protest, self-protection and informal networks under the auspices of a musical motion.

Mark Bray, author of The Antifa Handbook, says that” in many cases, the North American modern Antifa movement grew up as a route to defend the punk scene from the neo-Nazi skinhead movement, and the founding fathers of the original Anti-Racist Action network in North America were anti-racist skinheads. The fascist/ anti-fascist struggle was essentially a fight for control of the punk scene[ during the 1980 s ], and that was true across of much of north America and in parts of Europe in this epoch .”

” There’s a huge overlap between revolutionary left politics and the punk scene, and there’s a stereotype about dirty anarchists and punks, which is an oversimplification but grounded in a certain amount of truth .”

Drawing influence from anti-fascist groups in 1930 s Germany, the UK-based Anti-Fascist Action formed in the late 70 s in reaction the growing popularity of rightwing political parties such as the National Front and the British Movement. They would shut down extreme-right meetings at every opportunity, whether it be a procession or a gathering in a room above a pub. Inspired by this, anti-racist skinheads in Minneapolis formed Anti-Racist Action, which soon gained traction in punk scenes across the US. Meanwhile, in New York, a movement called Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice jumped up.

The term ” Antifa” was adopted by German antifascists in the 80 s, accompanied by the twin-flag logo, which then spread around Europe, and finally pitched up in the US after being adopted by an anarchist collective in Portland, Oregon.

Singer Thomas Barnett of Strike Anywhere during a 2009 concert in Berlin. Composite: Jakubaszek/ Getty Images

For Thomas Barnett, vocalist with popular hardcore punk band Strike Anywhere, his punk ethics and the direct-action doctrine of Antifa go hand in hand, and, with Trump’s presidency emboldening the extreme right, the stakes couldn’t be higher:” This isn’t just a raft of right-wing notions- this is actual loathe and violence, and the demolition of entire sections of humanity. Of course, I don’t believe in the false equivalence[ between Antifa and the alt-right ]. I guess anti-fascists’ pre-emptive street violence against Nazis is righteous and important .”

Many adopt direct-action tactics, whether it be the recent Antifa protests across the US, the black-block tactics employed during the WTO and G7 protests around the world, or even the decision make use of Brace Belden to leave California to join the YPG, the far-left Kurdish guerrilla group battling Isis.

” Punk itself wasn’t a direct influence on my joining a guerrilla group, of course, but punk did help to cement my revolutionary politics. Being in their home communities with a certain degree of consciousness and solidarity between people helped vastly in that regard ,” tells Belden.

Bands, record labels, zine writers and venues around the world have co-operated to create a network that exists altogether outside of the mainstream, an off-grid template for Antifa activists to draw from. In America, there is Appalachian Terror Unit, a young band with heavy Antifa leanings from the Trump heartland of West Virginia. In Oakland, Antifa-related punk/ oi! band Hard Left have taken part in benefit shows for protesters involved in the events at Charlottesville. In Texas, Antifa are organizing community relief efforts for victims of the Houston inundations.

” There’s definitely an overlap between the leaderless politics and the DIY ethos and the notion that’ if there’s a problem in our punk scene, we’re not going to be able to count on the mainstream to necessarily give a shit ,'” explains Bray.

Strike Anywhere vocalist Barnett says:” It’s also about community self-defence. The punk experience is like the flow of water. You can put up dams, you can run it underground- it will still get through. It also carries on the folk tradition that was speaking truth to power before there was even electric power .”

If there was ever a person unafraid to speak truth to power, it would be Jello Biafra, former singer of the Dead Kennedys and the man responsible for their 1981 call-to-arms Nazi Punks Fuck Off. So it might come as a surprise that he is withering in his criticism of Antifa’s actions in recent months.

” I’m not down with confronting[ the extreme right’s] provocations of violence with actual violence. I entail, self-defence is one thing, but going to a Trumpist rally with the express purpose of beating up fascists- what does that accomplish? Who’s the fascist now? It plays right into their hands ,” he says.

” More than ever, we have to keep our heads right now. And I am all about freedom of speech, but I believe protesting these people non-violently is the way to go, because it lets the targets of the fascist speakers know they’re not alone and lets the fascists who show up know that there’s an nasty plenty of people who are not down with them, and a chorus of raised middle fingers is better than presenting up with some kind of a weapon. Intensifying the violence is not the way to go .”

With his current band, the Guantanamo School of Medicine, he has updated his 1981 ballad and called it Nazi Trumps Fuck Off, but it comes with a caveat: Trump is the target , not his supporters.

” I usually talk about the anthem on stage for a while before we play it, pointing out that almost everybody in the audience, especially if we’re playing in Texas or Southern California, know people in their family, close friends, at school or run, whatever, who think that Trump is really cool. And I point out that the last thing we should do is to dismiss these people as rednecks or stupid or’ I’m not running being your friend anymore, fuck you’- that’s not going to persuade anybody of anything and it helps Trump divide the country. My phase is that you don’t do that, you sit down and talk to somebody , not blog in an echo chamber. It might be stomach-churning, but you might plant a seed, and if anyone wakes up three weeks, three months, three years later and thinks,’ Wow, that person that called me on my bigotry was right .’ All this racist, anti-immigrant fascism isn’t getting us anywhere. I don’t want any part of it anymore .”

Author and punk historian Jon Savage, a champ of the Dead Kennedys during his stint as a music journalist in the 70 s, isn’t so sure:” It’s very idealistic and very laudable, but it’s like arguing with Brexiters over here( in the UK ). You’re not going to get any change out of that. There is a proportion of people who can discuss things in a rational way, but here you’re talking about core beliefs and wishes and feelings, and these are irrational, and they are even less rational when they are tested against reality .”

For Savage, Antifa’s direct action tactics are as legitimate a tool as Biafra’s more measured approach:” If you don’t protest the way the situation is, then nothing is going to change. You’re reacting to fascism and entropy. You need a variety of approaches, and in politics I wouldn’t discount any approach. It’s probably useful to have sensible people because they can say,’ Well, look what happens when you don’t listen to me and consider what the nutters are going to do.’

Klaus Fluoride and Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys perform at The People’s Temple in 1978 in San Francisco, California. Composite: Richard McCaffrey/ Michael Ochs Archive/ Getty Images

For Barnett, even the present nomenclature is under debate.” Calling it’ Antifa’ is like calling it this weird exotic cult, instead of calling it’ everyday life ‘. Every aspect of media coverage of it is insidious, turning public opinion against us, inducing us a violent sight that’s both something terrible and un-American, when this is the fucking Boston Tea Party ,” he tells.” If people want to talk about how the heritage of American culture and our patriotic fate fits in[ to anti-fascism] – it’s basic math to me, and to many, many others .”

Biafra and Strike Anywhere’s Thomas Barnett at least find some accord on the rebranding of the right, however.” You know what they called the alt-right two years ago? Neo-fucking-Nazis !” says Biafra.” Now it’s alt-right, like alt-country or alternative pop music .”

Barnett concurs:” They don’t get to be alt-right. They just get to be digital-age Nazis, or white supremacists or terrorists. And that’s what[ the media] are doing to anti-fascist action .”

Regardless, Barnett says the antifascist motion isn’t taking anything for granted.” These rallies, whatever the next one is, whatever form it takes, are Trojan-horse events to invite and welcome white terrorist groups, and are just platforms for them to go into communities to hurt and intimidate people. And that’s what anti-fascist action has always known, and that’s what the punks have always known .”

Or, in the bald words of someone who set his teenage years in a punk band called Warkrime behind him to go and fighting in an actual war, former YPG militia member Belden tells:” When I was younger my friends and I used to beat the shit out Nazis that would roll out to punk demonstrates[ in California ]. And guess what? They’d leave and never come back. Violence runs .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

When Nigel Farage met Julian Assange

14 days ago

Why did Ukips ex-leader want to slip in unnoticed to satisfy the WikiLeaks chief at the Ecuadorian embassy?

On 9 March 2017, an ordinary Thursday morning, Ian Stubbings, a 35 -year-old Londoner, was walking down the street near its term of office in South Kensington when he spotted a familiar face. He turned and saw a human entering the redbrick terrace which houses the Ecuadorian embassy, where the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up since 2012. And the familiar face? It was Nigel Farage, the person who is spearheaded Britains exit from the European Union.

I thought hang in a moment, Stubbings says. That appears a little bit dodgy. I knew the building was the embassy because I often ensure camera crews outside. But there was no one else around. I was the only person whod seen him. And I didnt know what the significance was and I still dont actually but I thought: thats got to be worth telling and I was the only person whod witnessed it.

So, at 11.22 am, he tweeted it. His handle is @custardgannet and he wrote: Genuine scoop: merely saw Nigel Farage enter the Ecuadorian embassy. Moments later, a reporter from BuzzFeed, who happened to follow him on Twitter, picked it up and tweeted him back, and Stubbings told her: No press or cameras around.

No press or cameras around, that is, until BuzzFeed turned up just in time to catch Farage leaving, 40 minutes later. Nigel Farage Just Visited the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, the headline said. Asked by BuzzFeed News if hed been visiting Julian Assange, the former Ukip leader said he could not remember what he had been doing in the building.

And that was how the world found out, by collision, that the founder of WikiLeaks, the organisation which published Hillary Clintons leaked emails a decisive advantage for Donald Trumps campaign and Farage, a friend of Donald Trump, were mutually acquainted.

In Britain, we routinely treat Farage as if he were Widow Twankey in “the member states national” pantomime that is Ukip politics. And Widow Twankey dropping by on the man who lives in the Ecuadorian embassy broom cupboard seemed just one more weird moment in the weird times in which we now live; six weeks on, it had faded into yet another episode in the surreality show that now passes for normality.

But in a week that find two major developments on either side of the Atlantic regarding the respective roles that Assange and Farage played in the US election and the EU referendum the same week in which a UK general election was announced it is an attitude that needs urgent re-examination.

For if you were to pick three the persons who have the most decisive impact on that most decisive of years, 2016, it would be hard to see beyond Trump, Assange and Farage. What was not known until Ian Stubbings decided to go for an early lunch is that there is a channel of communication between them.

Last week brought this more clearly into focus. Because in a shock developing last Thursday, the US justice department announced it had prepared charges with a view to arresting Assange. A day subsequently, the Electoral Commission announced it was investigating Leave.EU the Brexit campaign Farage headed.

Significantly, the commission said its investigation was focused on whether one or more gifts including of services accepted by Leave.EU was impermissible.

One of the grounds on which a gift can be deemed impermissible is that it comes from abroad. A fundamental principle of British democracy and our elections law is that foreign citizens and foreign companies cannot buy influence in British elections via campaign donations.

The Ecuadorian embassy in west London. Photo: Will Oliver/ EPA

Robert Mercer, the billionaire hedge fund proprietor, bankrolled the Trump campaign and his company, Cambridge Analytica, the Observer has disclosed , donated services to Leave.EU. If this issue forms part of the Electoral Commission investigation, this isnt simply a lawsuit of maybe breaking regulations by overspending a few pounds. It goes to the heart of the integrity of our democratic system. Did Leave.EU seek to obtain foreign support for a British election? And, if so, does this constitute foreign subversion?

What did or didnt happen on 9 March may perhaps expose clues to understanding this. To unravelling the links between WikiLeaks, the UK and the Trump administration an administration embroiled in ever deeper connections to the Russian state. Between Trump whose campaign was financed by Mercer and who came to power with the help of the same analytics firm now under investigation for its work with Leave.EU and Brexit.

And 9 March was the working day that all these worlds came together when the cyber-libertarian movement that Assange represents collided headfirst with the global rightwing libertarian movement that Farage represents. When Nigel Farage tripped down the steps of the Ecuadorian embassy a visit that he did not expect to be photographed or documented a beam of light was shone on a previously concealed world: a political alignment between WikiLeaks ideology, Ukips ideology and Trumps ideology that is not inevitably simply an affinity. It is also, potentially, a channel of communication.

David Golumbia, an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in the US who has studied WikiLeaks, describes it as the moment when the lines abruptly become visible. He says: It was like the picture suddenly came into focus. There is this worldwide, rightwing, nationalistic movement that is counter to the EU, and this is present in the US and Europe and Russia, and we are just starting to understand how they do all seem to be in communication and co-ordination with each other.

In many styles, it wasnt a astonish. There are clear ideological similarities between Assange and Farage. They have both been regulars on RT, Russias state-sponsored news channel. They have both been paid indirectly by the Russian state to appear on it. Ben Nimmo, a defense analyst with the Atlantic Councils Digital Forensic Research Lab, points out that Farage has voted systematically in favour of Russian interests in the European parliament. There is very, very strong support for the Kremlin among the far right in Europe. And Farage is squarely in that bloc with the likes of the Front National in France and Jobbik in Hungary.

In February, when I started my investigation into Leave.EU and Cambridge Analytica, I fulfilled Andy Wigmore, its director of communications, for a coffee and he told him that Farage was in the US, where he was going to be making a big platform speech at CPAC, the US conservative conference. And its not going to be his normal Mr Brexit speech, he told. Hes going to be talking about the need for closer relations with Russia. Really? I told. That sounds odd.

Julian Assange making a speech from the balcony of the embassy last year. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/ Reuters

What? No route. Farage has been across the subject for years in the European parliament. It didnt make much sense at the time and, in fact, that wasnt the speech that Farage built. On 24 February, he told the crowd: Our real friends in the world speak English. The next evening he had dinner with Trump at the Washington Trump hotel and tweeted a photo of him with the Donald in the early hours of the morning.

Eleven days later, he headed off to the Ecuadorian embassy. BuzzFeeds story dropped at 1.31 pm. And, 57 minutes later, at 2.28 pm, WikiLeaks made an announcement: it would host a live press conference by Julian Assange about his latest leak, Vault 7.

The timing of this was lost in the isnt that bizarre? tone of the coverage. And, perhaps, also, its only with distance that it raises significant questions not least because the complex web of connections between the Trump administration is a challenge for even hardened US newshounds to follow.

Nearly every day of 2017 brought along forth some new nugget of fact about Trump-Russia but this was a tough week for Trump, even by his standards. The witch-hunt, as hes worded it, was collecting pace. On 2 March, his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from the Trump-Russia investigation and, on 4 March, Trump retaliated in a tweetstorm which accused Obama of wiretapping him.

And then, on 7 March, he finally caught a transgres. Some other news came along to knock him off the front page. For more than a month, WikiLeaks had been periodically issuing cryptic tweets about Vault 7. A month passed before it eventually landed: a leak that, whether by accident or design, embarrassed the CIA.

WikiLeaks data trove had come from what it “ve called the” CIAs global hacking force, its Center for Cyber Intelligence. CIA scrambles to contain injury from WikiLeaks documents, said the headline in what Trump calls the failing New York Times . The documents apparently showed that the CIA had the capability to hack a huge number of devices , not only telephones but also TVs. In the midst of the most serious investigation of foreign cyber-interference in a current administration in US history, vivid revelations about the USs similar capability to interfere abroad had hit the headlines.

US us attorney general Jeff Sessions on WikiLeaks: Well seek to set people in jail

A highly placed linked with links to US intelligence told the Observer : When the heat is turned up and all electronic communication, you have to assume, is being intensely monitored, then those are the times when intelligence communication falls back on human couriers. Where you have individuals passing datum in ways and places that cannot be monitored.

When asked about the session in the embassy, Farage said: I never discuss where I go or who I see.

In October, Roger Stone, a Republican strategist whose links to Russia are currently under investigation by the FBI, told a local CBS reporter about a back-channel communications with Assange, because we have a good reciprocal friend that friend travels back and forth from the United States to London and we talk. Asked directly by the Observer if Nigel Farage was that friend, his spokesman said: Definitely not.

Arron Banks with Nigel Farage in 2014. Photograph: Matt Cardy/ Getty Images

And in some way, this may not be the phase. A channel exists. In the perfect blizzard of fake news, disinformation and social media in which we now live, WikiLeaks is, in many ways, the swirling vortex at the centre of everything. Farages relationship with the organisation is just one of a whole host of questions to which we currently have no answer.

Some of those questions dog Arron Banks, the Bristol businessman who bankrolled Leave.EU and who announced last week that he is standing during the elections in Clacton. When I interviewed him last month, he said: Not a single penny of Russian money has been put into Brexit though that wasnt a question I had asked him.

He is, however, openly pro-Putin and anti-democracy. Its not possible to run that entire country[ Russia] as a pure republic, he told. When asked about the investigation into Leave.EUs campaign finances, he told me: I dont dedicate a monkey about the Electoral Commission.

On Friday night, he released a letter saying that he would no longer co-operate with the commission a body mandated by parliament to uphold UK electoral law and said he would watch them in court.

As Britain lunges towards a general election to choose a government that they are able to take us out of the European union, this may be the moment be recognised that Nigel Farage is not Widow Twankey, and that this is not a pantomime. Farages politics and his relationships are more complicated than we, the British press, have previously realised. His relationship to Mercer and Cambridge Analytica, the same firm that helped Trump to power, is now under official investigation. Every day, more and more questions are being asked about that administration.

Yet, here in Britain, we plunge blindly on. Real, hard topics need to asked about what exactly these relationships are and what they mean. Dont they?

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Trump in Moscow: what happened at Miss Universe in 2013

18 days ago

The pageant and the presidents attempts to get close to Putin have become a focus of the investigation into Trumps links to Russian interference in the US election

Sitting in a makeshift studio overlooking the Moscow river on a crisp day in November 2013, Donald Trump pouted, stared down the lens of a television camera and said something he would come to regret.

Asked by an interviewer whether he had a relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin, the brash New York businessman could not resist boasting.” I do have a relationship with him ,” Trump said.

Russia’s strongman had” done a rather brilliant task “, Trump told MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts, before declaring that Putin had bested Barack Obama.” He’s done an amazing undertaking- he’s put himself actually at the forefront of the world as a leader in a short period of time .”

Trump, a teetotaler, seemed intoxicated by the buzz surrounding the glitzy event that had brought him back to Moscow: that year’s instalment of the Miss Universe contest that he then owned.

Four years later, he is struggling to shake off the hangover.

The 2013 pageant has become a focal point for the simultaneous investigations, led by special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional committees, into whether associates of Trump colluded with Russian officials to help them win the 2016 US presidential election.

Investigators are examining closely endeavours apparently made by the Russian government to pass Trump’s team damaging information on Hillary Clinton, using Trump’s politically connected Miss Universe business partners as couriers.

They are also looking into the $20 m fee that Trump collected for putting on the pageantry from those same business partners- along with extraordinary allegations about Trump’s private conduct behind closed doors at the Ritz-Carlton hotel during his 2013 stay in Moscow.

The Guardian has learned of additional, previously unreported, the linkages between Trump’s business partners on the pageantry and Russia’s government. The ties are likely to attract further scrutiny by researchers who are already biting at the heels of Trump associates.

A full accounting of Trump’s actions in the Russian capital as that autumn turned to winter may be critical to resolving a controversy that has already devoured the first eight months of his presidency.

” Our committee’s investigation will not be complete unless we fully understand who President Trump met with when he was over in Russia for Miss Universe, and what follow-up contacts resulted ,” Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said in an interview.

Trump’s attorney, John Dowd, declined to answer when asked whether the president’s team accepts that the Miss Universe contest is a legitimate area of inquiry for investigators.” Fake news ,” Dowd said in an email.

Emin Agalarov, Donald Trump and Aras Agalarov attend the Miss Universe pageant on 9 November 2013 in Moscow, Russia. Photograph: Victor Boyko/ Getty Images

‘Look who’s come to see me !’

It was a whirlwind courtship.

Trump was instantly taken with Aras Agalarov, the billionaire proprietor of the Crocus Group corporation, when the two wealthy real estate developers satisfied for the first time on the fringe of the Miss USA contest in Las Vegas in mid-June 2013.

After only ten minutes of discussion, Trump was showing off his new friend.” He clapped me on the shoulder, dedicated a thumbs up, and started wailing,’ Look who’s come to see me! It’s the richest human in Russia !’,” Agalarov recalled to a Russian magazine later that year, before clarifying that his fortune- estimated at about$ 2bn- was far from Russia’s biggest.

The meeting had been set in motion only a month earlier, when Agalarov’s son Emin, a pop singer who is well-known in eastern Europe, filmed his latest music video in Los Angeles. His co-star was the reigning Miss Universe, a casting selection that brought the Agalarovs into contact with Trump’s beauty pageant division.

The idea of hosting that year’s competition in Russia was created over dinner by Paula Shugart, Trump’s top Miss Universe executive, according to Emin Agalarov. In a little-noticed interview published in July, Emin said Trump’s organisation seemed to be in need of the money that Moscow could offer.” We have a lot of indebtedness ,” he quoted Shugart as telling. Miss Universe denies that Shugart said this.

In any case, a price tag of $20 m to be paid by Agalarov in return for Trump bringing the Miss Universe contest to Russia was speedily agreed upon. Several Democrats have raised concerns that the pay- like the billions in bank loans he secured to bring himself back from the brink in the early 1990 s- may have left Trump indebted to foreign influences.

” The pageantry was financed by a Russian billionaire who is close to Putin ,” Senator Al Franken of Minnesota told a congressional hearing in May.” The Russians have a history of using financial investments to gain leveraging over influential people and then later calling in favours. We know that .”

Just four weeks after Emin’s video shoot, at the backslapping Las Vegas get-together, Trump announced that the bargain was done. Miss Universe would be held at the Agalarov family’s sprawling Crocus City complex on the leading edge of Moscow, described by Trump as” Russia’s most premier venue “.

Emin Agalarov, Miss Universe 2013 win Gabriela Isler and Donald Trump. Photo: Kommersant Photo/ Kommersant via Getty Images

In a dreary Vegas hotel banqueting dormitory, the beaming new business partners eat a celebratory dinner together. Video footage afterward obtained by CNN indicated Trump at his most oleaginous.” What a beautiful mom you have ,” he told Emin. The principals were joined by an smorgasbord of hangers-on including Emin’s publicist- a portly Briton named Rob Goldstone.

It was Goldstone who would contact Trump’s son Donald Jr during the 2016 presidential campaign with a sensitive message, indicates that there is emails released last month. The” crown prosecutor of Russia”- assumed to be Goldstone’s garbled billing for Yury Chaika, the Russian prosecutor general- wanted the Trump campaign to have some documents that would” incriminate Hillary”, he told. And the Agalarovs would deliver them.

” This is obviously very high level and sensitive info but is an example of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump- helped along by Aras and Emin ,” Goldstone wrote. Rather than carry surprise or topic the apparent Kremlin operation Goldstone was describing, Donald Jr pressed ahead and arranged the session. ” If it’s what you say I love it ,” he replied.

Rob Goldstone. Photo: Stringer/ Reuters

Aras Agalarov made a suitable sherpa. While not a is part of Putin’s inner circle, Agalarov cultivated friendly relations with the Kremlin while rising to the country’s oligarch class with a profitable network of shopping center. He travelled around in a $44 m Gulfstream private plane.

Less than two weeks before the Miss Universe finals, Putin awarded Agalarov the prestigious Order of Honor medal, after Crocus had completed for him a billion-dollar transformation of a former military base into a new country university.

” I wish to thank you so much for your work and contribution to the development of this country ,” Putin told Agalarov and his fellow honorees. Crocus would go on to be further rewarded with more government construction contracts, including for stadiums that are to be used for next year’s soccer World Cup tournament in Russia.

Ikray’ Ike’ Kaveladze. Photograph: Twitter

Quietly, Agalarov and Crocus have also cultivated high-level relationships with Russian authorities on another front. They were established by one of Agalarov’s top lieutenants- Ikray ” Ike ” Kaveladze, a publicity-shy senior Crocus executive and the so-called ” eighth human” at the 2016 Trump Tower session where Donald Jr hoped to receive dirt on Clinton.

While comparatively unknown to the public before news of the meeting emerged in July, Kaveladze has in fact been an associate of some of Russia’s richest and most powerful people for the past three decades.

The Guardian has established that Kaveladze was involved in the $341 m takeover of a US company by a Russian mining firm belonging to an associate of Putin, and was a business partner to two former senior officials at Russia’s central bank.

In 2003, the Colorado-based firm Stillwater Mining was bought by Norilsk Nickel, a metals corporation in Moscow led by Vladimir Potanin, one of Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs, who is so favoured by Putin that he has played on the president’s” Hockey Legends” ice hockey team.

Vladimir Potanin. Photo: Bloomberg/ Bloomberg via Getty Images

As part of its $341 m purchase of the American firm, Norilsk nominated Kaveladze to be one of five specific handpicked directors on Stillwater’s new committee, according to a filing by the company to the US Securities and Exchange Commission( SEC ). Kaveladze was billed as the president of” an international consulting boutique” serving a” US and Eastern European clientele “.

The deal was the first time a Russian company had ever taken a majority stake in a publicly quoted US company. It was viewed as critical by the Kremlin. Putin was reported at the time to have personally advocated for the deal’s approving by US regulators during a meeting with then president George W Bush earlier in 2003.

Norilsk was then co-owned by Potanin and Mikhail Prokhorov, another major Russian oligarch, who later sold his stake. Prokhorov, who has had mixed relations with the Kremlin , now owns the Brooklyn Nets basketball team in New York. Kaveladze and Prokhorov had been classmates at the Moscow Finance Institute in the late 1980 s and formed partnership agreements selling customised jeans between their studies.

Kaveladze’s ascent to the Stillwater board was eventually derailed, according to information sources, after the discovery of his earlier participation in a $1.4 bn California-based scheme involving shell companies and transfers from Russia, which US authorities told may have been used for money laundering. Norilsk said he withdrew from the process for personal reasons.

The Guardian previously revealed that Kaveladze’s partner in that operation was Boris Goldstein, a Soviet-born banker whose ties to former KGB officers attracted interest from US examiners after he moved to California in the early 1990 s. In a remarkable coincidence, the US attorney in San Francisco whose office eventually declined to bring criminal charges over their alleged money-laundering scheme was Robert Mueller, the special advise now looking into Kaveladze’s reappearance.

Also previously unreported is Kaveladze’s close friendship with Andrei Kozlov, who was first deputy chairman of Russia’s central bank under Putin for four years before being assassinated in 2006 as he attempted to clean up Russia’s corrupt banking system. Accusations about who bore persons responsible for his murder have swirled ever since.

Andrei Kozlov. Photograph: Alexei Sazonov/ AP

At the turn of the 1990 s, Kaveladze and Kozlov had gone into business together after graduating from the Moscow Finance Institute. They founded a small publisher and translator of financial volumes with Dmitry Budakov, another classmate, who also went on to be a senior executive at Russia’s central bank before running a division of the state-owned Bank of Moscow.

The young entrepreneurs capitalised on a hunger for fiscal literature among players in Russia’s rapidly privatising economy, pricing their textbooks at around $250. One book was published in Kaveladze’s name. His 1993 work, Protecting trade secret in the US: A guide to protecting your business info, remains available in several university libraries.

According to an official history of that time, their volume publishing outfit, ECO-Consulting, was established as a division of Crocus International, Aras Agalarov’s then-burgeoning business empire. In return for the security of being part of a larger corporation, Kaveladze and his business partners advised Agalarov on economic and financial affairs, according to a memoir of the time by Budakov.” Cooperation was mutually profitable ,” he wrote.

Kaveladze soon moved to the US, landing first in Pennsylvania. He had earlier spent almost a month visiting the Gettysburg area after graduating in 1989. As a tribute to their departed guest, locals held a “Perestroika” 5,000 -metre running race near the site of the civil war battlefield as part of their Labor Day celebrations, according to the Gettysburg Times.

When Kaveladze moved to the US, he was adopted by a middle-aged couple in York, Pennsylvania, and later moved to New York. His adoptive mother died in February 1993; her widower did not respond to requests for comment.

More than 25 years after their first venture, Kaveladze continues to work alongside Agalarov at Crocus. Their company has become one of the biggest corporations in Russia, carrying out government build contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars from Putin’s administration- and sealing international are dealing here with tycoons such as Trump.

Contestants pose at the Miss Universe pageant on 9 November 2013 in Moscow. Photo: Victor Boyko/ Getty Images

‘Will he become my new best friend ?’

Before leaving the US for his big Russian show in 2013, Trump made an unusual public appeal.

” Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow ,” he asked on Twitter, and” if so, will he become my new best friend ?” A source in Moscow told the Guardian that a meeting with Trump was indeed pencilled into Putin’s diary by aides, but fell off his schedule a few days beforehand.

Agalarov later told that Putin sent his apologies to Trump in the form of a handwritten note and a gift of a traditional decorative lacquered box. It is not known whether Trump met any associates of Putin in lieu of the president himself, but he certainly claimed to have.

” I was with the top-level people, both oligarchs and generals, and top-of-the-government people ,” he said in a radio interview in 2015.” I can’t go further than that, but I will tell you that I satisfied the top people, and the relationship was extraordinary .”

Having flown from the US overnight, Trump arrived in Moscow on 8 November and checked in to the Ritz Carlton hotel. It was a choice that had now been become notorious. An opponent research dossier compiled for a private client by a former British spy, which subsequently published by BuzzFeed News, alleged that the Kremlin held compromising and lurid footage of Trump and a pair of prostitutes during his stay at the hotel.

Elsewhere in the dossier, author Christopher Steele wrote that two sources alleged Trump also had illicit sex encounters in the Russian city of St Petersburg during a separate visits to the country. The sources, according to Steele, said that Aras Agalarov would “know the details”. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

It is plausible- but unproven- that endeavors were made to surveil Trump during his trip.

” If “youre using” their field of interest then the FSB will perfectly attempt to to be implemented by surveillance ,” said a Russian hotel industry source, who did not want the name of his hotel mentioned due to the sensitivity of the topic.

The source said there was little that hotel managers could do about FSB demands, and that they are sometimes forced to provide access to rooms for agents.” In “the worlds biggest” hotels you also definitely have a number of people on the staff who work on the side for the FSB, so they would have had absolutely no problem get into the room if necessary .”

Putin stated earlier this year that it was absurd to think the FSB would have bugged or secretly filmed Trump’s room in 2013, as he was not even a legislator at that point. Russia did not simply bug every American billionaire who visited the country, according to the president.

But the hotel industry source cast doubt on that assert.” Surveillance doesn’t happen that often, but I’m pretty sure Trump would have been of a sufficient level to warrant it ,” said the source.” I’ve seen people of lower levels than him watched for sure .”

When the late-night talkshow host Stephen Colbert managed in July to gain access to the Ritz-Carlton’s presidential suite, where Trump is said to have stayed, an unexplained power cable was detected dangling from a section of the bedroom wall that was hidden behind a non-illuminated mirror.

Whatever the truth about how closely Trump was being monitored by the Kremlin, a statement he made about Putin during that boast-filled interview with MSNBC seems especially curious with the benefit of hindsight.

” I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today ,” Trump told of the Russian president.” He’s probably very interested in what you and I are telling today- and I’m sure he’s going to be seeing it in some sort .”

Some elements of Steele’s dossier was allegedly been confirmed by researchers, but other details have been shown to be false. And Trump has been backed up on the claims about his private conduct by Emin Agalarov.” While the world tries to figure out what Donald Trump was doing in a hotel in Moscow during Miss Universe- I actually know because he was filming my music video ,” he wrote on Instagram.

Early in the morning of 9 November, Trump was taking part in filming at the hotel for the video of Emin’s single In Another Life. The video features Emin dreaming about being surrounded by bikini-clad Miss Universe contestants, before waking up to be lectured by Trump and told: “You’re fired.”

Yulya Alferova, a businesswoman and blogger who was hired by Crocus Group to help with their social media presence at that time, arrived at the hotel that morning and met Trump shortly after the filming had finished. After a brief dialogue, Trump took a shine to her, and Emin invited her to join a small group for lunch.

” We talked about Twitter, and I asked him if he agreed that Twitter is the strongest and sometimes the most hazardous social media. He asked me about real estate, because I told him it’s one of my professional interests ,” told Alferova, who once attained notoriety in Russia for posting a photograph of her cat eating black caviar.

Alferova Yulya (@ AlferovaYulyaE)

My super popular cat 🙂 @nypost loves us 🙂 http :// t.co/ tUE2 8eGvNp #Russia #cat #caviar pic.twitter.com/ p0xFTeioAo

March 24, 2015

Later, Trump told her that she should contact him if she was ever in New York. He had his assistant hand her a business card. But there was nothing inappropriate about his conduct, Alferova said, describing Trump as a “gentleman” who always acted” correctly and properly” in their interactions.

The pageant went off without a hitch. Gabriela Isler of Venezuela was crowned the winner. An after-party was held for the contestants and friends of the organisers. There were three private boxes: one for the Agalarovs, one for Trump and one for Roustam Tariko, the head of Russian Standard, the Russian vodka company and bank, which sponsored Miss Russia. The American band Panic! At The Disco provided the music, and contestants mingled with guests. Several were invited into the boxes to speak with Trump and the oligarchs. Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler, who had performed at the ceremony, was also there.

” Trump was still there when I left at 2am ,” a guest at the party told the Guardian.” There were a lot of people there, it was fun but fairly civilised .” Alferova, the businesswoman and blogger, recollected multiple guests approaching Trump and asking for photograph with him.

” There were no government people present and no major Forbes List people except Aras[ Agalarov] and Roustam[ Tariko ]” said one of the organisers of the event, indicating Trump’s boastful claims that” all the oligarchs” attended may have been false.

Still, during his Moscow stay Trump also attended a private meeting with resulting Russian industrialists at Nobu, the high-end Japanese restaurant chain for which Agalarov owns the Moscow franchise. The dinner was arranged by Herman Gref, Putin’s former energy minister and now chief executive of the state-owned Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank. The bank, which was another sponsor of Miss Universe, was later among the Russian companies sanctioned by the US over Russia’s annexing part of Ukraine in 2014.

” He’s a sensible person, very lively in his responses, with a positive energy and a good attitude toward Russia ,” Gref told Bloomberg.

Agalarov has said he and Trump also met with the businessmen Alex Sapir and Rotem Rosen- Trump’s old partners on the controversial Trump Soho project in New York- to discuss opportunities in Moscow. Agalarov later said they struck an arrangement in principle to go ahead. Trump seemed to think so:” TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next ,” he said in a thank you note to Agalarov on Twitter. Eight days later, Sberbank announced it was giving Agalarov 55 bn roubles ($ 1.3 bn) to finance new projects in Moscow.

Trump Tower Moscow, like so many other Russian twinkles in Trump’s eye over the past three decades, did not materialise. But it recently emerged that the conversations continued behind the scenes even after he began his long-threatened campaign for chairperson.

In October 2015, four months into his campaign, Trump signed a” letter of intent” to build a tower in Moscow. Pulling the strings on the abortive bargain was Felix Sater, yet another Russian business associate of Trump, who once served time in prison for stabbing a human in the face with a broken cocktail glass.

” I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected ,” Sater reportedly told Trump’s attorney in an email.” Buddy our boy is able to President of the USA and we are capable of engineer it … I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this .”

The future of Trump’s presidency may rest on what else was said and done relating to the project- and whether researchers who already reek blood can prove it.

On at least three occasions following the Miss Universe trip, Trump had publicly claimed to have met Putin. But when asked by reporters at a campaign stop in Florida in July 2016 to clarify the situation of women his relationship with the Russian president, as concerns over Russian election interference mounted, Trump gave a rather different version.

” I never met Putin ,” said Trump.” I don’t know who Putin is .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

A weak and paranoid chairwoman leads rapidly to a weak and paranoid government | Richard Wolffe

1 month, 8 days ago

Donald Trump and his dishonesty ooze everywhere in Washington, and it is taking a toll on Americas claim to moral leadership and harming its economy

In Donald Trumps Washington, the first casualty is truth. His dishonesty seeps across the city until it poisons whats left of anyones reputation. Congressional leaders, administration officials, ethics lawyers, Americas moral leadership: it has taken less than 3 months to undermine them all.

Take the case of the hapless Andrew Bowen, a grasping Republican foreign policy blowhard who should be entering a bumper labour markets. Bowen has a couple of thinktank gigs and a column at the august Arab News, where he perpetrated the cardinal sin of praising Hillary Clinton.

There he also took a clear-eyed view of one Donald Trump, which is where his shame begins. Bowen called the 45 th chairwoman boorish and predatory and accused him of whipping xenophobia and anti-Muslim sentiments. All of which is beyond reasonable doubt to any jury of 12 good humen, and true.

Not so much in Trumpworld, where Bowen is now hoping to get a job in an administration that values loyalty tests above competence, public service, patriotism or the the effective functioning of government. So Bowen demanded that the editors of Arab News delete all evidence of his previous good judgment, because as those editors put it in a public note this is needed for him to be cleared for what he claims to be a possible job with the new Donald Trump administrations State Department.

The editors refused to take down his work and wished him the best of luck in his task application.

Dont bother looking for the columns: they are mysteriously no longer available on the website of Arab News.

This is how dishonesty infects a government and the nation it seeks to lead. Loyalty tests are not just confined to junior jobseekers. They can be extended to all visitors to the United States, in what the Trumpsters are calling extreme vetting.

If the plans move forward, homeland security officials will be able to demand access to social media accounts and cellphones from any guest at the border.

As Gene Hamilton, senior counselor to the homeland security secretary, John Kelly, explained to the Wall Street Journal: If there is any doubt about a persons intentions coming to the United States, they should have to overcome really and truly prove to our satisfaction that they are coming for legitimate reasons.

When your Muslim travel ban fails in the courts, repeatedly, you can always cook up some arbitrary border rules that make a mock of American values.

Who could have predicted that America First would set American values last? How could anyone know that treating vast swathes of guests like terrorist suspects might actually harm the American economy?

The Trump effect is already leading to 40% of colleges reporting fewer applications from international students, depriving the US of one of its greatest resources the best of the worlds brainpower.

And analysts estimate that Trump has cost the US travel industry more than $185 m in lost business since the start of his presidency. Which more than outweighs all that Oval Office bluster about job creation.

It turns out thata weak and paranoid chairperson leads very rapidly to a weak and paranoid government. It also turns out theres a difference between playing the role of a business exec on reality Tv and actually knowing something about the economy.

Tourism and academia can rebound, once Trump abandons his silliness or simply leaves office. It will take far longer to restore trust in the principles of American leadership.

Truth-telling used to be so easy for previous occupants of the White House that honesty was itself a forceful measure of American influence. Behind that truth-telling lay the implicit power of the worlds greatest armed forces, the worlds biggest and most expert diplomatic corps, and the worlds richest economy.

So when a foreign tyrant engaged in mass murder utilizing chemical weapons that threaten global security, it used to be a simple reaction for any presidential personnel: is the truth, with moral clarity.

Instead, we have a White House that witnesses the horror of a chemical attack on Syrian civilians and contrives first to condemn its predecessors more than the perpetrators. With as many as 100 dead and the smell of toxic chemicals lingering in the air of northern Syria, the White House laid the blamed on Barack Obama.

These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administrations weakness and irresolution, Trump declared in the second sentence of a brief written statement.

No, Donald. The heinous actions are the consequence of a heinous leader, supported by your heinous friend Vladimir Putin. But you always find it difficult to tell the truth about Vladimir, dont you?

In his joint press conference with King Abdullah of Jordan on Wednesday, Trump said hed changed his mind about Assad after the chemical assaults. Its already happened that my posture toward Syria and Assad has changed very much, he said.

But that was only after he made it clear that he had not changed his attitude at all to Obama. I believe the Obama administration had a great opportunity to solve this crisis a long time ago when he said the red line in the sand, he said.

And when he didnt cross that line after attaining the threat, I think that set us back a long ways , not only in Syria, but in many other parts of the world, because it was a blank menace. I think it was something that was not one of our better days as a country.

For a chairman famous for his hype and less famous for his delivery, this is what New Yorkers call a high degree of chutzpah.

Trumps words dont only represent a break with protocol. They represent a massive breach with decades of Republican and Democratic foreign policy: human rights abuses are war crimes with no excuse. Not even if you really dislike your predecessor.

The statement is a permanent stain on the rsums of everyone working on the Trump national security squad. Then again, we should be grateful there was a statement of different kinds. Over at the state department, poor Rex Tillerson is struggling to get his head around this whole diplomacy thing. The secretary of state discovers it hard to be diplomatic to his own staff and press, issuing the worlds greatest non-statement on the otherwise clearcut issue of North Koreas rocket tests.

North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile, said the man who used to run one of the largest multinational corporations in the world. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.

Andrew Bowen should consider himself lucky that his chore application is going nowhere. We have yet to reach the 100 -day mark, but the course is already situated: a weak chairman who cannot( or will not) is the truth is resulting a weak administration that looks and sounds an awful plenty like himself.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

20 Dems for 2020: who might the Democrat field next time around?

1 month, 12 days ago

As Trump celebrates his first anniversary and Democratic thinks turn to the next election, we run down the contenders, from big names to dark horses

Democrats had thought they would be celebrating the one-year anniversary of Hillary Clinton being elected the first female president in American history, at long last transgres that” highest, hardest glass ceiling “.

The Democratic party has instead been relegated to watching from the sidelines as Donald Trump continues to flout institutional norms, often choosing to govern in 140 characters or less.

In an ordinary political climate, Democrats would seem well positioned to attain Trump a one-term president. And yet one year after the election, the party remains in search of a leader.

But that’s not to say Democrat are without options as they look ahead to 2020. While there’s no clear frontrunner to claim the mantle- and responsibility- of the next presidential nominee, a long list of potential competitors is emerging as the Democratic party seeks to dethrone Trump.

John Delaney


Title US representative of Maryland’s sixth congressional district

Age 54

The only Democrat formally running is the one you’ve never heard of. The low-key congressman from Maryland announced his candidacy in July in a Washington Post op-ed, complete with the campaign slogan” Focus on the Future “. Delaney is a long shot, to say the least: an early New Hampshire poll focused on possible hopefuls detected Delaney with less than 1% subsistence- proving he’ll have to rise a long way from political obscurity.

Bernie Sanders


Title US senator from Vermont( an independent who has caucused with the Democrats)

Age 76

Hillary Clinton confessed to underestimating Sanders’ rebel candidacy during the 2016 Democratic primary. Now party operatives believe the Vermont senator may be gearing up for another run. Sanders remains broadly popular with the American populace, and his Medicare-for-All bill has been largely endorsed by Democrat, including potential challengers.

Joe Biden


Title Former vice-president

Age 74

Biden’s unhappinesover not running in 2016 is well known, even though his two past bids, in 1987 and 2007, failed. But while the party could rely on the former vice-president’s appeal to white, working class voters, a Biden candidacy would reinforce the notion that Democrat lack new blood. He nonetheless said:” I haven’t decided to run. But I’ve decided I’m not going to decide not to run. We’ll see what happens .”

Elizabeth Warren


Title US senator from Massachusetts

Age 68

Arguably the most prominent progressive apart from Sanders, Warren has induced moves signaling a possible run. She has met with donors, rallied activists and published a volume this year about saving America’s middle class. Warren is also a vocal Trump critic who gets under the president’s skin- a preview of what could be if she operates in three years.

Cory Booker


Title US senator from New Jersey

Age 48

A top contender for Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Booker has held a national profile since serving as the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, often arriving at the scene of a problem to assist constituents on the ground. Since his arrival in the Senate, he has attained criminal justice reform a core tenet of his agenda and is well known for his soaring oratory.

Martin O’Malley


Title Former governor of Maryland

Age 54

In the 2016 presidential race, O’Malley struggled to break through amid a Democratic primary waged primarily between Clinton and Sanders. The former Maryland governor nonetheless said he” merely might” operate again in 2020 and even returned to must-win New Hampshire this year. Supporters believe O’Malley’s reliably progressive record speak for itself.

Mitch Landrieu


Title Mayor of New Orleans

Age 57

Seen by many as a dark horse nominee, Mitch Landrieu was comparatively unknown on the national stage until the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August. After a white supremacist drove his car into counter-protesters, killing one and leaving several injured, Landrieu delivered a moving and instantly viral speech about the removal of Confederate monuments from New Orleans. Some liberals nonetheless caution the mayor is insufficiently progressive, often toeing the line to appease the center-right.

John Delaney and Kamala Harris. Composite: Sam Morris/ Corbis/ Getty

Mark Zuckerberg


Title Co-founder, chairman and CEO of Facebook

Age 33

Those close to the Facebook founder insist he has no presidential aspirations. But Zuckerberg’s swing through the battleground nation of Iowa and hiring of former Clinton aides fueled supposition over his intentions. What is uncertain is if he would run as an independent, as well as the toll of Facebook’s role in Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Kamala Harris


Title US senator from California

Age 53

Few challengers have attracted buzz comparable with that of Kamala Harris, the former us attorney general of California who was elected to the Senate in 2016. She wouldn’t be alone in inducing the leap as a first-term senator( recollect Barack Obama ?) and has already staked out ground on criminal justice reform and immigration as key priorities. Although viewed with skepticism by some progressives, Harris was first to embracing Sanders’ Medicare-for-All proposal.

Tim Ryan


Title US representative for Ohio’s 13 th congressional district

Age 44

Although relatively unknown on “the member states national” stage, Tim Ryan constructed waves in Washington by mounting a challenge to Nancy Pelosi as the Democratic leader in the House of Representative. Ryan, who hails from a state won decisively by Trump, has declined to rule out a 2020 bid and lately told Ohio employees Trump’s policies would “gut” them.

Amy Klobuchar


Title US senator from Minnesota

Age 57

While not boasting the same profile as some other Senate competitors, Klobuchar is building her name recognition with swings through Iowa, where she declared:” Those of us in the middle of this country will not be forgotten .” Though she must first clear re-election in 2018 in her home state of Minnesota, Democratic spies says Klobuchar is a sleeper candidate with potential.

Kirsten Gillibrand


Title US senator from New York

Age 50

Gillibrand says she isn’t running, but the senator has kept close relations with top fundraisers and participated in more than one profile piece portraying herself as “re ready for” battle. Though once branded a moderate, Gillibrand endorsed Sanders’ Medicare-for-All and has dropped more than one F-bomb while imparting passionate opposition to Trump. Ties to Wall street could nonetheless pose problems for the New York Democrat.

Andrew Cuomo


Title Governor of New York

Age 59

Though poised to win a third term as New York’s governor, Cuomo is often viewed as harboring national ambitions. He recently argued Democrats must” win back the middle class while pushing progressive values”, even as he faces scrutiny from the left for are members of the “neoliberal” class of politicians. Cuomo is also known for his blunt, take-no-prisoners attitude, which could be his biggest strength or greatest liability.

Oprah Winfrey and Jerry Brown. Composite: Sam Morris/ Bloomberg/ FilmMagic

Jerry Brown


Title Governor of California

Age 79

A veteran of Democratic politics, Brown first made a run for the presidency in 1976. He would be one of the oldest challengers in the race- but as Trump and Sanders demonstrated in 2016, age is not by any measure disqualifying. Last month, he signed a bill moving California’s primary elections to the beginning of March, meaning his home nation could demonstrate decisive by apportioning its daunting number of delegates after Iowa and New Hampshire.

Tim Kaine


Title US senator from Virginia

Age 59

As Clinton’s running mate, Kaine was praised even by Republican opponents for his mild-mannered demeanor and centrist record. His previous roles include serving as the governor of Virginia, the state’s lieutenant governor and mayor of Richmond. Kaine has spent his time in the Senate building a resume in both foreign and domestic affairs , notably as a leading supporter of voting time a new war authorization against Islamic State.

Sherrod Brown


Title US senator from Ohio

Age 64

A popular voice among progressives with strong ties to blue collar voters, Brown was branded in a recent profile as” the Democrat who’s attaining Trump Country Republican nervous “. He has resisted free trade bargains, citing concerns over worker protections, and pushed for stronger collective bargaining rights. But Brown must first win Senate re-election in 2018 in the all-important country of Ohio.

Oprah Winfrey


Title Talk depict host and entrepreneur

Age 63

A billionaire celebrity and TV host eying the White House sounds eerily familiar. There was a day when the prospect an Oprah Winfrey presidential campaign was somewhat of a joke. But what can’t she attain? As one of the most successful and influential public figure in the world, Winfrey could well be the unexpected foil to Trump.

Chris Murphy


Title US senator from Connecticut

Age 44

Though not a household name, Murphy has elevated himself to the forefront of key issues that range from gun control to foreign affairs. Having represented those affected by the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, Murphy has placed a personal stake in the fight over gun statutes and last year mounted a 15 -hour filibuster after the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. He is just one of Trump’s fiercest critics.

Eric Garcetti


Title Mayor of Los Angeles

Age 46

Although mayors have not traditionally proved to be successful presidential contenders, Garcetti ranks among the more popular figures on the Democratic bench. But even as his name routinely induces lists- and he was somewhat vague when asked about 2020- Democrat believe Garcetti might first attempt California’s governorship in 2018.

Jason Kander


Title Former Missouri secretary of state

Age 36

It isn’t often Democrats insist a candidate whose political career began with a loss is one to watch. But Kander, a military veteran, came painfully close in 2016 to unseating Republican Roy Blunt in the Missouri Senate race. Pitching an economic message rooted in progressivism, Kander is a rising star among grassroots activists who demonstrated rare crossover appeal in a staunchly red state.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Imagine there’s no Sgt Pepper. It’s all too easy in the era of Trump and May | John Harris

1 month, 27 days ago

This great Beatles album is as thrilling a listen as ever on its 50 th anniversary: but its a melancholy day for the one-world counterculture the record soundtracked

At the time Sgt Pepper was released, the American writer Langdon Winner once recalled, I happened to be driving across the country on Interstate 80. In each city where I stopped for gas or food Laramie, Ogallala, Moline, South Bend the tunes wafted in from some far-off transistor radio or portable hi-fi For a brief while, the irreparably fragmented consciousness of the west was unified, at the least in the minds of the young.

How far away it all seems. On 26 May the 50th anniversary of the Beatles Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band( it actually falls on 1 June) is likely to be marked by the release of remixed and repackaged versions of the original album. With his characteristically jolly meeknes, Paul McCartney insists in the latest issue of Mojo magazine that its only a record but its gained in notoriety over the years. The truth is that Sgt Pepper might be the most confident, boundary-pushing record British rock musicians had already been generated, and it is worth revisiting again.

We might also think about the era the album crystallised, and its long legacy. Sgt Pepper is not quite the quintessentially psychedelic, love-and-peace artefact of historical cliche: streaked through its multicoloured astonish is a very Beatle-ish various kinds of melancholy, partly rooted in the bands decidedly unpsychedelic postwar childhoods. But the wider culture moment, and the Beatles place at its heart, were indeed replete with beads, buzzers and a wide-eyed optimism.

Three weeks after the album came out, the band were the biggest attraction in the worlds first global satellite TV demonstrate, singing All You Need Is Love to an audience of as many as 350 million. Meanwhile, on both the US west coast and in swinging London, young people on the cutting edge genuinely were trying to push into a future very different from the one their parents had envisaged.

The so-called counterculture may not initially have reached much beyond its urban nerve centres and campuses. But the basic ideas Sgt Pepper soundtracked soon acquired enough influence to begin no end of social revolutions. A new emphasis on self-expression was manifested in the decisive arrival of feminism and gay liberation. Countries and borders came a distant second to the idea of one world.

Such shibboleths as matrimony until death and a job for life were quickly weakened. Once the leftist unrest of 1968 was out of the way, the shift continued away from the old-fashioned politics of systems and social structures towards the idea of freeing ones mind everything coloured with an essentially optimistic position of the future.

Two years after Sgt Peppers release, a young alumnu at Wellesley College, a women-only institution in Massachusetts, dedicated a speech. Our persisting acquisitive and competitive corporate life, including tragically the universities, is not the way of life for us, she said. Were searching for more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating modes of living. And so our topics, our questions about our institutions, about our colleges, about our churches, about our government continue.

Her name was Hillary Rodham, and her journey says a lot about where 1960 s values eventually resulted us. To quote the music novelist Charles Shaar Murray, the line from hippy to yuppie was not nearly as convoluted as some people subsequently liked to believe and once the love decades more ambitious alumni reached positions of power, the origin of many of their notions was as clear as day.

Their professed distaste for corporate values fell away, but the hippy individualism summed up in the future Hillary Clintons insistence on immediate and ecstatic ways of life lived on, as did a questioning attitude to tradition, and to the stifling the limit of the old-fashioned nation state.

After the anti-6 0s backlash symbolised by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, by the mid-9 0s such notions were shaping a new political establishment, exemplified by Bill Clinton, and Blair and Browns New Labour. I am a modern man, from the rocknroll generation. The Beatles, colour TV, thats my generation, said Blair. Clinton honked away at his saxophone and ended his rallies with a song by Fleetwood Mac.

It is not hard to read across from these legislators ideals to what they soaked up in their formative years. In 2005 Blair, who fronted a long-haired band while at Oxford University, told the Labour party conference that people should be swift to adapt, slow to complain open, willing and able to change. Collectivity was yesterdays thing; against a background of globalisation and all-enveloping liberalism, governments task was to encourage people to be as flexible and self-questioning as possible.

John Lennons response to the rebels of 68: the Beatles build Revolution rock

Go back 50 years, and you perhaps hear early stirrings of those ideas, soaked in patchouli petroleum and put to tape at EMIs Abbey Road studios. Try George Harrisons Indian-flavoured Within You Without You: Try to realise its all within yourself/ No one else can construct you change . Or what about John Lennons response to the rebels of 68 in Revolution( on the so-called White Album )? You tell me its the institution/ Well, you know/ Youd better free your intellect instead . As for a picture of globalised utopia, after the Beatles had broken up, Lennon released that saccharine anthem Imagine, with its key line: Imagine theres no countries .

And now? If youre a citizen of the world, youre a citizen of nowhere, says our new “ministers “. If we do indeed live in the post-liberal times endlessly analysed in academic papers, it is the inheritance of the 60 s that is in question. For sure, many of the changes that originated then have become irreversibly embedded in millions of lives. Positions to marriage, sexuality and matters such as race are seemingly more liberal than ever; wherever you go, youre never very far from the whiff of marijuana smoke.

But the dominance of post-6 0s individualism and globalisation is being weakened by the resurgence of collective identities meant to have withered away: class, nation, region. And if the events of 2016 and 2017 are anything to go by, political success now often goes to people whose values seem the polar opposite of the old counterculture.

Duty, nationhood, and regular trips to church: whatever values Theresa May affects to represent, they are surely redolent of a world that existed long before the 1960 s( consider also her parliamentary record, which includes votes against equalising the age of permission, lesbian adoption and the repeal of section 28 ).

Last year, a New York Post article contrasted Hillary Clintons embodiment of the campus 1960 s with the sense that Donald Trump was an unexpected throwback to the Rat Pack, those macho exemplars of everything the hippies wanted to sweep away. Trump, said the author, represented pre-Feminist Man, the guy who boasts about never having changed a nappy and expects subservience from his wives.

Sgt Pepper arrived two decades after the second world wars objective: approximately the same historical distance that separates the Brexit/ Trump age from the high point of the Clinton/ Blair era. Devote a 21 st-century polish, the albums music voices as thrilling as ever, though with a bittersweet sense of a credo abruptly falling victim to a counter-revolution.

On the last track of the old side two, the bell-like piano chords that begin A Day in the Life are applied to sound like the death knell of all the inward-looking, fusty, moralistic ideas the Beatles came to do away with. How strange to tune in half a century afterwards and find all that stuff back with a vengeance.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Barack Obama says Donald Trump may have ‘enough craziness’ to be president

2 months, 4 days ago

In a wide-ranging interview, the US president tells ABC he thinks Obamacare will survive Republican repeal attempts

Barack Obama believes Donald Trump is very engage and gregarious and not lacking in confidence, to the point where he may have enough craziness to think[ he] can do the job. But he wont say if he likes him.

The US president spoke to ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos, in a wide-ranging interview that was recorded on Friday.

The conversation included reflections on Obamas time in the White House, which ends with Trumps inauguration on 20 January, his achievements and letdowns in domestic and foreign policy and his expectations regarding his legacy.

Asked if he guesses his Obamacare health reform, his chief domestic accomplishment, will survive a Trump presidency and a Republican-controlled Congress, he said: I think it will.

Questioned about the president-elects controversial stance to intelligence agencies faith that Russia intervened in the US election on his behalf, and favourable statements about Russia and its president, Obama counselled trust in such agencies.

We have to remind ourselves were on the same squad, he said. Vladimir Putins not on our team.

Stephanopoulos asked Obama what he had tried to impress on Trump since the Republican victory over Hillary Clinton in November.

The conversations have been cordial, Obama said. He has been open to suggestions, and the main thing that Ive tried to transmit is that theres a difference between governing and campaigning.

Trump has spoken favourably of such conversations with Obama, although he just said, in a typically incautious tweet, that he was trying to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks. Thought it was going to be a smooth transition – NOT!

Obama, spoke of his familiar measured tones, said Trump would soon be in charge of the largest organisation on earth which he would not be able to manage[ in] the style you would manage a family business.

Trump is due to hold a press conference his first since July on Wednesday, to outline routes in which he intends to lessen or avoid conflicts of interest between his business empire, members of his family and his new political role.

Stephanopoulos asked how Trump had impressed Obama so far.

You know, the president said, he is somebody who I think is very engaging and gregarious.

Do you like him, Stephanopoulos asked.

You know, Ive enjoyed the conversations that weve had, Obama said. He is somebody who I think is not lacking in confidence, which is probably a prerequisite for the job, or at the least you have to have enough craziness to think that you can do the job.

I is considered that he has not spent a lot of time sweating a detailed description of, you know, all the policies

Asked if that fretted him, Obama said he saw himself more at the policy wonk end of the spectrum, and said a lack of familiarity with policy details could be both a strength and a weakness for Trump.

I think its fair to say that he and I are sort of opposites in some ways, he added.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

On final Ukraine trip, Biden urges Trump administration to keep Russia sanctions

2 months, 8 days ago

Comments while meeting with Ukraines president came after Trump indicated he could aim Crimea-related sanctions in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal

Vice-president Joe Biden, on a last foreign journey before leaving office, fulfilled Ukraines president on Monday and called on the incoming Donald Trump administration to retain Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia.

Bidens comments at a briefing with Petro Poroshenko came after Trump indicated in an interview with the Times and Bild that he could aim sanctions imposed in the aftermath Russias 2014 annexation of Crimea, in return for a nuclear arms reduction bargain.

Trumps attitude to Russia and praise for Vladimir Putin has been a consistently controversial feature of his rise to the White House, which will be completed with his inauguration in Washington on Friday.

US intelligence agencies believe Russia sought to covertly influence the US election in Trumps favour and against the Democratic nominee, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Trump has recently admitted that he believes Russia did orchestrate such hackers, but has nonetheless fuelled a bitter feud with intelligence officials over the issue.

The international community must continue to stand as one against Russian coercion and aggression, Biden told reporters, standing alongside Poroshenko, in remarks which did not include reference to Trump by name.

The Crimea-related sanctions against Russia must remain in place until Russia returns full control to the people of Ukraine.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Other US sanctions are connected to Russias involvement in the separatist war in eastern Ukraine.

Together with our EU and G7 partners, Biden said, we made it clear that sanctions should remain in place until Russia fully, emphasise fully, enforces its commitments under the Minsk agreement.

Poroshenko said Ukraine believed in good cooperation with the new US administration and urged sanctions to stay, without mentioning Trumps statements on a deal with Russia.

Andy Hunder, the head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, said Kiev would have to put much time and resources into dealing with the new US administration.

On 20 January Ukraine will be waking up to a new reality, he told Reuters. There is a concern in Kiev about how the new relationship will develop. It will require constructing new bridges to the influencers, the gatekeepers and decision-makers.

Kiev has taken steps to win the very best favour of the those calling the shoots in the Trump administration. Days after the election in November, Poroshenkos office started planning an official visit to Washington in early 2017.

Read more: www.theguardian.com