The world learns to ignore Trump

“Diplomats and investors are starting to dismiss Trump’s policy tweets and other quickly shifting statements.”

From Politico:

Wall Street, corporate America and the diplomatic world are settling on a strategy to deal with President Donald Trump’s rapidly shifting statements on critical issues like trade deals and Russia sanctions: Just ignore him.

Trump last week shocked the world by suggesting he might rejoin the giant Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation pact among nations representing 13 percent of the global economy. He reversed himself days later.

Beyond TPP, Trump in recent weeks has declared war on Amazon then not done very much about it. He settled on Russia sanctions only to ditch them, leaving American allies and members of his own administration completely befuddled.

In ordinary times, a declaration like the one Trump made about TPP would have sent stocks soaring, thrilled exporters and sent corporate strategists scrambling to assess the impact.

But none of that really happened.

Financial markets and America’s trading partners largely ignored the comments as a throwaway line, and the market wisdom proved to be correct when Trump tweeted that he did not “like the deal for the U.S,” deflating the TPP trial balloon before it left the ground.

All of this has led investors, executives and diplomats to the conclusion that trying to act on any single thing Trump says or tweets is a fool’s game. The more effective strategy, these people say, is to look for trends in the broad sweep of Trump’s approach to governance and ignore all the noise.

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Nikki Haley sets a red line for Trump

“The U.N. ambassador made crystal clear after initially being blamed for ‘confusion’ on Russia sanctions that she will not tolerate public humiliation quietly.”

From Politico:

In the span of 24 hours, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley has done what none of her colleagues in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet have before: successfully telegraphed to her boss that she will not quietly suffer his public humiliations.

Haley was initially blamed by White House aides for creating confusion by speaking on national television about the administration’s plans to roll out new sanctions against Russia that the president ultimately decided to defer.

But within hours of White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow’s statement Tuesday that Haley had fallen prey to “momentary confusion” and gotten “out ahead of the curve,” she’d exacted a public apology from her colleague. But that alone wasn’t enough for the former South Carolina governor, who issued a direct statement to make her point crystal clear: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”

The incident met with silence from the president and his loyalists but has only helped to burnish Haley’s image outside the White House.

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Flashback: It’s time to get rid of Donald Trump

“Donald Trump has transformed the United States into a laughing stock and he is a danger to the world. He must be removed from the White House before things get even worse.”

From a Der Spiegel editorial by Klaus Brinkbäumer, published May 19, 2017:

Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. He does not possess the requisite intellect and does not understand the significance of the office he holds nor the tasks associated with it. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t bother to peruse important files and intelligence reports and knows little about the issues that he has identified as his priorities. His decisions are capricious and they are delivered in the form of tyrannical decrees.

He is a man free of morals. As has been demonstrated hundreds of times, he is a liar, a racist and a cheat. I feel ashamed to use these words, as sharp and loud as they are. But if they apply to anyone, they apply to Trump. And one of the media’s tasks is to continue telling things as they are: Trump has to be removed from the White House. Quickly. He is a danger to the world.

Trump is a miserable politician. He fired the FBI director simply because he could. James Comey had gotten under his skin with his investigation into Trump’s confidants. Comey had also refused to swear loyalty and fealty to Trump and to abandon the investigation. He had to go.

Trump is also a miserable boss. His people invent excuses for him and lie on his behalf because they have to, but then Trump wakes up and posts tweets that contradict what they have said. He doesn’t care that his spokesman, his secretary of state and his national security adviser had just denied that the president had handed Russia (of all countries) sensitive intelligence gleaned from Israel (of all countries). Trump tweeted: Yes, yes, I did, because I can. I’m president after all.

Nothing is as it should be in this White House. Everyone working there has been compromised multiple times and now they all despise each other — and everyone except for Trump despises Trump. Because of all that, after just 120 days of the Trump administration, we are witness to an American tragedy for which there are five theoretical solutions.

The first is Trump’s resignation, which won’t happen. The second is that Republicans in the House and Senate support impeachment, which would be justified by the president’s proven obstruction of justice, but won’t happen because of the Republicans’ thirst for power, which they won’t willingly give up. The third possible solution is the invocation of the 25th Amendment, which would require the cabinet to declare Trump unfit to discharge the powers of the presidency. That isn’t particularly likely either. Fourth: The Democrats get ready to fight and win back majorities in the House and Senate in midterm elections, which are 18 months away, before they then pursue option two, impeachment. Fifth: the international community wakes up and finds a way to circumvent the White House and free itself of its dependence on the U.S. Unlike the preceding four options, the fifth doesn’t directly solve the Trump problem, but it is nevertheless necessary — and possible.
[…]
In “Game of Thrones,” the Mad King was murdered (and the child that later took his place was no better). In real life, an immature boy sits on the throne of the most important country in the world. He could, at any time, issue a catastrophic order that would immediately be carried out. That is why the parents cannot afford to take their eyes off him even for a second. They cannot succumb to exhaustion because he is so taxing. They ultimately have to send him to his room — and return power to the grownups.

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‘Game changer’: Discovery on tiny island could alter global economy

The discovery of rare-earth elements on an island in Japanese waters is great news in terms of global production of the products. It will enable Japan to break China’s current stranglehold on availability which it severely restricts “at times of diplomatic tension.”

From news.com.au:

A tiny island in the Pacific Ocean is the site of a huge discovery that has been described as a “game changer”.

Japanese researchers have mapped vast reserves of rare-earth elements in deep-sea mud — enough to feed global demand on a “semi-infinite basis”, according to a new study published in journal Scientific Reports.

The deposits, found within Japan’s exclusive economic waters, contain more than 16 million tonnes of the elements needed to build hi-tech products from smartphones and radar devices to missile systems and electric vehicles, according to the study.

For instance, yttrium, one of the metals included in the recent discovery, can be used to make camera lenses, superconductors and mobile phone screens.

The research team — comprised of several universities, businesses and government institutions — surveyed the western Pacific Ocean near Minami-Torishima Island, Japan. According to the study, the findings have “tremendous potential” to be a source of rare-earth elements.

In a sample area of the mineral-rich region, the team’s survey estimated 1.2 million tonnes of “rare-earth oxide” was deposited there. The survey was conducted jointly by researcher with Waseda University Yutaro Takaya, and Yasuhiro Kato of the University of Tokyo, among others.

Technology Metals Research LLC founding principal Jack Lifton, who wasn’t involved in the research, told The Wall Street Journal “this is a game-changer for Japan”.

“The race to develop these resources is well under way,” he said.

The finding extrapolates that a 2500sq km region off the southern Japanese island should contain 16 million tonnes of the valuable elements, and “has the potential to supply these metals on a semi-infinite basis to the world”.

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‘Nerves of steel’: She calmly landed the Southwest flight, just as you’d expect of a former fighter pilot

The pilot “was among the first female fighter pilots for the U.S. Navy,” and, according to her mother-in-law, was “a pioneer in the aviation field, a woman who broke barriers to pursue her goals.” The passengers couldn’t have been in better hands.

From The Washington Post via msn:

The pilot’s voice was calm yet focused as her plane descended with 149 people on board.

“Southwest 1380, we’re single engine,” said Capt. Tammie Jo Shults, a former fighter pilot with the U.S. Navy. “We have part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit.” She asked for medical personnel to meet her aircraft on the runway. “We’ve got injured passengers.”

“Injured passengers, okay, and is your airplane physically on fire?” asked a male voice on the other end, according to an air traffic recording.

“No, it’s not on fire, but part of it’s missing,” Shults said, pausing for a moment. “They said there’s a hole, and uh, someone went out.”

The engine on Shults’s plane had, in fact, exploded on Tuesday, spraying shrapnel into the aircraft, causing a window to be blown out and leaving one woman dead and seven other people injured. Passengers pulled the woman who later died back into the plane as she was being sucked out. Others on board the Dallas-bound flight braced for impact as oxygen masks muffled their screams.

In the midst of the chaos, Shults successfully completed an emergency landing at the Philadelphia International Airport, sparing the lives of 148 people aboard the Boeing 737-700 and averting a far worse catastrophe.

“She has nerves of steel,” one passenger, Alfred Tumlinson, told the Associated Press. “That lady, I applaud her. I’m going to send her a Christmas card — I’m going to tell you that — with a gift certificate for getting me on the ground. She was awesome.”

Another passenger, Diana McBride Self, thanked Shults on Facebook for her “guidance and bravery in a traumatic situation.” She added that Shults “came back to speak to each of us personally.”

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Michael Cohen and the end stage of the Trump presidency

The raids on the office, hotel room, and home of Trump’s personal lawyer may be the clearest indication yet “that we are entering the last phase of the Trump Presidency.”

The New Yorker’s Adam Davidson writes:

This is the week we know, with increasing certainty, that we are entering the last phase of the Trump Presidency. This doesn’t feel like a prophecy; it feels like a simple statement of the apparent truth. I know dozens of reporters and other investigators who have studied Donald Trump and his business and political ties. Some have been skeptical of the idea that President Trump himself knowingly colluded with Russian officials. It seems not at all Trumpian to participate in a complex plan with a long-term, uncertain payoff. Collusion is an imprecise word, but it does seem close to certain that his son Donald, Jr., and several people who worked for him colluded with people close to the Kremlin; it is up to prosecutors and then the courts to figure out if this was illegal or merely deceitful. We may have a hard time finding out what President Trump himself knew and approved.

However, I am unaware of anybody who has taken a serious look at Trump’s business who doesn’t believe that there is a high likelihood of rampant criminality. In Azerbaijan, he did business with a likely money launderer for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In the Republic of Georgia, he partnered with a group that was being investigated for a possible role in the largest known bank-fraud and money-laundering case in history. In Indonesia, his development partner is “knee-deep in dirty politics”; there are criminal investigations of his deals in Brazil; the F.B.I. is reportedly looking into his daughter Ivanka’s role in the Trump hotel in Vancouver, for which she worked with a Malaysian family that has admitted to financial fraud. Back home, Donald, Jr., and Ivanka were investigated for financial crimes associated with the Trump hotel in SoHo—an investigation that was halted suspiciously. His Taj Mahal casino received what was then the largest fine in history for money-laundering violations.

Listing all the financial misconduct can be overwhelming and tedious. I have limited myself to some of the deals over the past decade, thus ignoring Trump’s long history of links to New York Mafia figures and other financial irregularities. […]

The narrative that will become widely understood is that Donald Trump did not sit atop a global empire. He was not an intuitive genius and tough guy who created billions of dollars of wealth through fearlessness. He had a small, sad global operation, mostly run by his two oldest children and Michael Cohen, a lousy lawyer who barely keeps up the pretenses of lawyering and who now faces an avalanche of charges, from taxicab-backed bank fraud to money laundering and campaign-finance violations.

Cohen, Donald, Jr., and Ivanka monetized their willingness to sign contracts with people rejected by all sensible partners. Even in this, the Trump Organization left money on the table, taking a million dollars here, five million there, even though the service they provided—giving branding legitimacy to blatantly sketchy projects—was worth far more. It was not a company that built value over decades, accumulating assets and leveraging wealth. It burned through whatever good will and brand value it established as quickly as possible, then moved on to the next scheme.

There are important legal questions that remain. How much did Donald Trump and his children know about the criminality of their partners? How explicit were they in agreeing to put a shiny gold brand on top of corrupt deals? The answers to these questions will play a role in determining whether they go to jail and, if so, for how long.

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The sad truth about Sean Hannity’s deceit is that his viewers do not care

So now everybody knows. The identity of Michael Cohen’s secret third client, whom Cohen’s lawyers fought tooth and nail to keep from being revealed, just happens to be his most outspoken fan, Sean Hannity.

From New York Daily News:

Sean Hannity is not just the president of the Michael Cohen Fan Club — he’s also a client. That’s right, it turns out that one of President Trump’s top cheerleaders on Fox News is the previously unnamed third client of Trump’s attorney, whose offices were raided by the FBI last week.

Irresponsibly, Hannity didn’t tell his viewers this. But the dirty secret is, his viewers just don’t care — which reveals a far deeper problem in our nation.

It’s unclear what Hannity’s exact relationship to Cohen is. According to Cohen’s attorneys, he is a client, whose identity, if publicly revealed, was “likely to be embarrassing or detrimental” to him.

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Not that his viewers give a damn.