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51  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kurds keeping Christians and Yezdizis from going home on: February 15, 2017, 12:56:23 AM
Advocates: Kurds Keeping Christians and Yazidis From Going Home
by John Rossomando
IPT News
February 14, 2017
http://www.investigativeproject.org/5788/advocates-kurds-keeping-christians-and-yazidis

 
 Iraq's Assyrian Christians and Yazidis face an uncertain future, and advocates claim that the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) intends to prevent the minority groups from returning to the lands they fled in 2014 when ISIS took over. They also don't forget that the KRG and its Peshmerga militia fighters refused to defend them from the ISIS onslaught in 2014.

The Kurdish Peshmerga disarmed Christians and Yazidis prior to ISIS's June 2014 rampage across Iraq. Survivors of the ISIS onslaught told the Daily Beast in August 2014 that Kurdish authorities and the Peshmerga misled them and abandoned them when they came under attack.

Bitter feelings remain even after Kurdish and Yazidi forces and ended the terrorist group's presence in the Sinjar province in December 2015 where most Yazidis lived and freed several Christian towns from ISIS control last October.

Khalid Hayder, a Yazidi living in West Virginia after serving as a translator for the U.S. Army in Iraq, expressed bitterness about how the Kurds "betrayed" the Yazidis and the Christians by leaving them to be wiped out.

"My fellow Yazidis and my brothers and sisters the Christians are going to face the same horrific tragedy once again if the Kurds dominate the region unless there is international protection," Hayder said.

State Department officials formally designated both religious minorities as genocide victims last year. Prior to June 2014, Iraq's Christian community numbered around 350,000, a fraction of the estimated 800,000 to 1.4 million Christians from various sects who lived in the country prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion.

The history of the Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria offers little expectation that the Kurds will protect them, Hayder said. He claims that many crimes against the Christians and Yazidis were committed under the Kurdish flag.  Not everything is simple. Hudson Institute religious freedom expert Nina Shea notes that the Kurds feel overextended and that they are stretched very thin by their approximately 500-mile front line.

"They [claim they] cannot take more security responsibility for Nineveh unless they claim Nineveh," Shea said.

A law passed by the KRG since ISIS invaded allows Kurds to take ownership of abandoned Christian or Yazidi buildings, said Jeff Gardner, an American advocate who runs an organization called Picture Christians.

"The Kurds are keeping the Yazidis out of the Sinjar; they won't even let them bring food and spare parts in for things like cars and people. And they are moving into cities that the Islamic State has been driven out of and saying, 'See these are abandoned' and making legal claims," Gardner said. "Many of those making legal claims [for the abandoned properties] are Kurdish businessmen."

For example, in October a Kurdish court ruled in favor of a Kurdish man who occupied the home of an Assyrian Christian. U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., complained about "reports of land confiscation and statements you have made regarding Kurdish territorial claims to the Nineveh Plains region" in a letter last May to Kurdish President Masoud Barzani.

No one seems to want to help the Assyrians reclaim their properties, Kaldo Ramzi, foreign relations director of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM), told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) in an email. His people feel trapped between the "big sharks" – the Shias, Sunnis and Kurds – without much of a voice of their own, Ramzi said.

Kurdish officials need to explain their blockade and their allowing these businessmen to seize Yazidi and Christian homes, Gardner said.

Complaints made to the Kurdish government in Erbil have fallen on deaf ears, Ramzi said.

Ensuring that the Assyrian Christians and Yazidis can return to their homes is in the U.S. national interest and the State Department should take steps to ensure this happens, Shea said.

"If they feel that they don't have any hope there, if they don't have justice and rights to their land – the lands that they own – then they will disappear; they will leave," Shea said. "They will emigrate out of there, and that will be the end of diversity and pluralism in Iraq."

A KRG representative told the IPT that Christians and Yazidis are being kept away for their own good, claiming that ISIS littered their villages with improvised explosive devices (IEDs).  That's not true, Gardner said.

"I have been through the liberated areas. I have sent reporters into the liberated areas, and they are not full of IEDs," Gardner said. "And even if they were, they have a force trained by the American military – trained by the forces of Delta Force – that can deal with the clearing of the IEDs and explosives."
Kurdish authorities also keep the Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU), one of two ethnic based armed units legally recognized by Baghdad, bottled up in refugee camps rather than letting them into areas freed from ISIS control. Moreover, the Iraqi Kurds blocked an Assyrian request to recruit 1,000 extra troops for the NPU under the umbrella of their joint command. The NPU currently has somewhere between 400 and 500 men. Kurdish security forces also try to prevent NPU soldiers from returning to their units when they get back from leave, an NPU representative told the IPT.

The U.S. government has tremendous leverage over the Kurds, Shea said, and should review Kurdish treatment of Assyrian militia members.

"There is no other solution for security for Christians other than their own militia," Shea said. "Unless there is a big plan on how to make the Christian areas and the Yazidi areas of Nineveh safe, they have to have their own militia. Otherwise it stands to reason that they cannot live there."

Obama administration officials never bothered to develop a plan to protect the Christians, Yazidis and other minorities from the major powers in Iraq, Shea said.

Since the end of the 1991 Gulf War, Barzani has worked to permanently displace religious minorities and increase the Kurdish population the Nineveh province, Gardner said, as part of a long-term plan to build a greater Kurdistan. Sunni Kurds have settled into Assyrian Christian and Yazidi areas to help stake a claim to their land.  This plan aims to extend Kurdish authority beyond the firm boundaries found in Iraq's 2004 constitution by expanding its de facto control westward to the Syrian border and southward into the Sinjar region where most Yazidis live, Gardner said.

Two weeks after capturing areas around Khazir in Nineveh governorate last June, Peshmerga commander Hadi Halabjayi declared them "Kurdistan's now. We will not give them back to the Iraqi army or anybody else."

Human Rights Watch cited Halabjayi's statement in a report last November, noting that Assyrians, Yazidis and other minorities complained about heavy-handed tactics against those opposed to the Kurds expansionist plans. These tactics included arbitrary arrests, detentions and intimidation.

This is nothing new. Assyrian Christians complained about the illegal settlement of Kurdish families on Assyrian land in the early 1990s. The ultimate strategy aims to unify Iraq's Kurds with those in Syria and Turkey in a broader Kurdish state, Gardner said.

But Turkey considers Kurdish independence a nonstarter, so realizing the Kurdish dream is sure to incite the Turks and put ending Syria's civil war out of reach.

The Peshmerga have Assyrian and Yazidi units, the KRG office in Washington told the IPT, and it called Gardner's claim that the Kurds have been harsh to the religious minorities "completely false."

The best possible solution would be the creation of a separate province for Assyrians and other minorities, Ramzi said.

This also includes Catholic Assyrian Christians known as Chaldeans.

"... [A]ll the Cha[l]dean Syriac Assyrian political parties ... demand [an] International protected zone to monitored by international community," Ramzi wrote in an email. "The popular demand for Nineveh Plain is to become new province and for sure we should ask Iraqi government for that."
52  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FBI clears Flynn of legal issues on: February 14, 2017, 10:01:10 PM


http://www.hannity.com/articles/election-493995/cleared-fbi-says-nothing-wrong-with-15498603/
53  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ to reporters: Be objective or be gone on: February 14, 2017, 09:40:47 PM
http://dailycaller.com/2017/02/13/wsj-editor-tells-reporters-who-dont-like-objective-trump-coverage-to-leave-the-paper/?utm_campaign=thedcmainpage&utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Social
54  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What we are fighting for on: February 14, 2017, 09:01:57 PM
I like this one:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/10/opinion/sunday/what-were-fighting-for.html?emc=edit_th_20170210&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193&_r=3


What We’re Fighting For

Our acts of moral courage defend America as surely as any act of violence.

By PHIL KLAY
FEB. 10, 2017


When his convoy was ambushed during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, First Lt. Brian Chontosh ordered his Humvee driver to head straight into the oncoming machine gun fire. They punched through, landing in a trench full of heavily armed Iraqi soldiers. Lieutenant Chontosh and his Marines leapt out and he ran down the trench firing away, dropping one enemy soldier after another. First his rifle jammed, then he ran out of ammunition, so he switched to his pistol. He shot it dry, reloaded, and shot it dry again. So he picked up an AK-47 from a dead Iraqi, fired that dry, picked up another AK, fired that dry, picked up a rocket-propelled grenade, fired it, and led the group back to the Humvee, their attack having almost completely cleared the trench. Almost.

One Iraqi was playing dead, fiddling with the pin of a grenade. Lieutenant Chontosh had no ammo, but on the ground were a couple of M-16 rounds from when his rifle had jammed. He grabbed one, loaded, and before the Iraqi could pull the pin, Lieutenant Chontosh locked eyes with him and shot him dead. All told, according to the journalist Phil Zabriskie’s account of the ambush in “The Kill Switch,” Lieutenant Chontosh had killed about two dozen people that day.

When I was a new Marine, just entering the Corps, this story from the Iraq invasion defined heroism for me. It’s a perfect image of war for inspiring new officer candidates, right in line with youthful notions of what war is and what kind of courage it takes — physical courage, full stop. We thought it was a shame more Americans didn’t know the story.

But after spending 13 months in Iraq, after seeing violence go down not because we managed to increase our lethality but because we improved our ability to work with Iraqis, I became convinced that there were other stories of war equally important for Americans to understand. And as we look at a president who claims that he wants to “fight fire with fire” in the battle against jihadism, I think back to the stories that defined, for me, what it meant to be an American at war, and the reasons I was proud to wear the uniform.
 

I was sent to Iraq in January 2007 with a logistics unit, the sort unlikely to engage in Chontosh-style heroics. We managed the key parts of an army people often forget about: truck drivers, engineers, explosive disposal specialists, postal workers — and, crucially, doctors.

Midway through my deployment a Marine arrived on base with severe wounds. He’d been shot by an enemy sniper, and the medical staff swarmed around his body, working frantically, skillfully, but it wasn’t enough. He died on the table.

Normally, there’d be a moment of silence, of prayer, but the team got word that the man who killed this young Marine, the insurgent sniper, would be arriving a few minutes later. That dead Marine’s squadmates had engaged the sniper in a firefight, shot him a couple of times, patched him up, bandaged him and called for a casualty evacuation to save the life of the man who’d killed their friend.

So he arrived at our base. And the medical staff members, still absorbing the blow of losing a Marine, got to work. They stabilized their enemy and pumped him full of American blood, donated from the “walking blood bank” of nearby Marines. The sniper lived. And then they put him on a helicopter to go to a hospital for follow-up care, and one of the Navy nurses was assigned to be his flight nurse. He told me later of the strangeness of sitting in the back of a helicopter, watching over his enemy lying peacefully unconscious, doped up on painkillers, while he kept checking the sniper’s vitals, his blood pressure, his heartbeat, a heartbeat that was steady and strong thanks to the gift of blood from the Americans this insurgent would have liked to kill.

This wasn’t just a couple of Marines and sailors making the right decision. These weren’t acts of exceptional moral courage in the way Lieutenant Chontosh’s acts were acts of exceptional physical courage. This was standard policy, part of tradition stretching back to the Revolutionary War, when George Washington ordered every soldier in the Continental Army to sign a copy of rules intended to limit harm to civilians and ensure that their conduct respected what he called “the rights of humanity,” so that their restraint “justly secured to us the attachment of all good men.”


From our founding we have made these kinds of moral demands of our soldiers. It starts with the oath they swear to support and defend the Constitution, an oath made not to a flag, or to a piece of ground, or to an ethnically distinct people, but to a set of principles established in our founding documents. An oath that demands a commitment to democracy, to liberty, to the rule of law and to the self-evident equality of all men. The Marines I knew fought, and some of them died, for these principles.

That’s why those Marines were trained to care for their enemy. That’s why another Marine gave his own blood to an insurgent. Because America is an idea as much as a country, and so those acts defend America as surely as any act of violence, because they embody that idea. That nurse, in the quiet, alone with that insurgent, with no one looking as he cared for his patient. That was an act of war.

After I left the Marine Corps, I met a veteran named Eric Fair. He was quiet. He wrote strange and affecting stories about guilt and alienation, and at first he didn’t tell me much about his past. Only over time did I learn that he’d been an Army Arabic linguist before Sept. 11, and then had signed up as a contractor and gone to Abu Ghraib prison in January 2004, all things he would later write about in his memoir “Consequence.”

Back then Abu Ghraib was a mess, he told me. Thousands of Iraqis, some of them insurgents, plenty of them innocent civilians caught up in the post-invasion chaos, and far too few qualified interrogators to sort it out. And the information they were seeking — it was literally life or death.

So Eric began crossing lines. Not legal lines — he followed the rules. But moral lines, personal lines, lines where it was clear that he wasn’t treating the people in his interrogation booth like human beings.

One time, it was with a boy captured with car batteries and electronic devices. The boy said his father used the batteries for fishing, an explanation that Eric found absurd. So, he used the approved techniques. Light slaps, stress positions. The boy eventually broke and, weeping, told Eric about a shop where his father delivered the electronics.

When a unit was sent to raid the shop, it found half a dozen partly assembled car bombs. “It was an enormous adrenaline rush,” he told me. He’d used techniques he now considers torture and, he thought, saved lives.

So, naturally, he kept using them. There were a large number of detainees caught with car batteries, all of them with the same story about fishing. With them, Eric would go right to the techniques designed to humiliate, to degrade, to make people suffer until they tell you what you want to hear. But Eric didn’t get any more results. No more car bomb factories. Just a lot of broken, weeping detainees.

Eventually, he told a fellow contractor the ridiculous fishing story, and how he wasn’t falling for it, and the contractor told him: “Of course they fish with car batteries. I used to do it in Georgia.” The electric charge stuns the fish, a simple method for an easy meal.

Eric isn’t sure how many innocent Iraqis he hurt. All he knows is how easy it was for him to cross the line. Just as with that wounded insurgent there was a codified set of procedures set in place to help guide Marines and Navy medical personnel to make moral choices, choices they could tell their children and grandchildren about without shame, for Eric, there was a codified set of procedures beckoning him to take actions that he now feels condemn him.

He doesn’t even have the consolation of feeling that he saved lives. Sure, they found a car bomb factory, but Abu Ghraib was a turning point. In 2003, thousands of Iraqi soldiers had begun surrendering to the United States, confident they’d be treated well. That’s thousands of soldiers we didn’t have to fight to the death because of the moral reputation of our country.

Abu Ghraib changed things. Insurgent attacks increased, support for the sectarian leader Moktada al-Sadr surged, and 92 percent of Iraqis claimed they saw coalition forces as occupiers rather than liberators or peacekeepers. WikiLeaks later released a United States assessment that detainee mistreatment at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo was “the single most important motivating factor” convincing foreign jihadists to wage war, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal said, “In my experience, we found that nearly every first-time jihadist claimed Abu Ghraib had first jolted him to action.” Our moral reputation had started killing American soldiers.

So, yeah, they found a car bomb factory. Once.

Eric has a relationship to his war that’s much different from mine. Yet we were in the same war. And Eric did what our nation asked of him, used techniques that were vetted and approved and passed down to intelligence operatives and contractors like himself. Lawyers at the highest levels of government had been consulted, asked to bring us to the furthest edge of what the law might allow. To do what it takes, regardless of whether such actions will secure the “attachment of all good men,” or live up to that oath we swear to support and defend the Constitution.

What to make of that oath, anyway? The Constitution seems to mean different things at different times and places — whether in my unit’s dusty little combat hospital, or in Eric’s interrogation booth, or in a stadium where a crowd cheers a presidential candidate vowing to torture his nation’s enemies. We live in a democracy, so that document can be bent and twisted and re-formed to mean whatever we want it to.

If we choose to believe in a morally diminished America, an America that pursues its narrow selfish interests and no more, we can take that course and see how far it gets us. But if we choose to believe that America is not just a set of borders, but a set of principles, we need to act accordingly. That is the only way we ensure that our founding document, and the principles embedded within, are alive enough, and honorable enough, to be worth fighting for.

Which brings me back to Brian Chontosh, that man with such incredible skill at killing for his country. Years after I left the Corps I was surprised to learn that he didn’t really put much stock in his exceptional kill count. He told Mr. Zabriskie this about killing: “It’s ugly, it’s violent, it’s disgusting. I wish it wasn’t part of what we had to do.”

When people ask him if he’s proud of what he did, he answers: “I’m not proud of killing a whole lot of people. That doesn’t make sense to me. I’m proud of who I am today because I think I’ve done well. I think I’ve been honorable. I’ve been successful for my men, for the cause, for what’s right.”

Brian Chontosh doesn’t dwell on the dead, but he does wonder whether there were times when, perhaps, he need not have killed. One of these is that last soldier in the trench. He’ll remember him, trying to pretend he’s dead but wiggling a bit. “It’s not a haunting image,” he told Mr. Zabriskie. “It’s just — man. I wonder. I wonder if I would have just freaking grabbed the dude. Grabbed his hand, thrown the grenade away or something. I could have got him some medical treatment.”

If he had, then that enemy soldier would have ended up with a unit like mine, surrounded by doctors and nurses and Navy corpsmen who would have cared for him in accordance with the rules of law. They would have treated him well, because they’re American soldiers, because they swore an oath, because they have principles, because they have honor. And because without that, there’s nothing worth fighting for.

Phil Klay is the author of the short-story collection “Redeployment.”

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55  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Atlantic: Behind the internet's dark anti-democracy movement on: February 14, 2017, 08:52:35 PM


https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/behind-the-internets-dark-anti-democracy-movement/516243/
56  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ?!?!?! on: February 14, 2017, 08:42:55 PM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/us/politics/russia-intelligence-communications-trump.html?emc=edit_na_20170214&nl=breaking-news&nlid=49641193&ref=cta
57  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Russia-Georgia on: February 14, 2017, 08:22:48 PM
Note the role of natural gas routes, the importance of which is something I have underlined in this part of the world for several years now:

There are new signs that trade is beginning to tie Russia and Georgia closer together. On Feb. 13, Georgia's special representative for talks with Russia said both countries had agreed Feb. 7 to establish three trade routes, which would wind through the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and through the Larsi mountain pass (east of South Ossetia). Moscow also reportedly agreed to demands made by Georgia's government in Tbilisi to station international observers to monitor goods traversing the Russian-Abkhazian and Russian-South Ossetian borders. Additional observation posts will likewise be placed on demarcation lines between the breakaway territories and the rest of Georgia.

New trade along these routes would lead to better economic relations between Russia and Georgia. Currently, trade between the two stands at $800 million, making Russia Georgia's third-largest trade partner. And this is not the only development: Tbilisi and Moscow recently reached an agreement that allows Russian natural gas destined for Armenia to transit through Georgia. Many in Georgia, however, see the deal as a disadvantage for the government. In previous arrangements, Russia paid Georgia for the transit with 10 percent of the natural gas. Under the new deal, Russia pays the transit fee with cash and Georgia must buy the natural gas separately. With Georgia likely to increase its natural gas imports, Tbilisi will come to rely more on Russia to meet its future energy needs.

Moreover, Moscow's agreement to station trade observers on the borders between the breakaway territories and Russia is a notable nod to Tbilisi that at one time would have been impossible. After the short-lived Russia-Georgia War in 2008, Moscow cut diplomatic ties with Tbilisi, and they have not been restored. But now, the Kremlin seems to be sending signals to the Georgian government that it's willing to reconcile, at least economically.

There are also indications that pro-Russia sentiment is growing in the country. Recent polls show 53 percent of Georgians favor European integration — a near 10 percent drop from last year. Some 31 percent, meanwhile, support improving relations with Russia — an almost 10 percent increase over the previous year.

These changes are improving relations between Georgia and its breakaway territories as well. Abkhazian and Russian officials resumed talks with their Georgian counterparts to prevent conflict along Abkhazia's demarcation line in late 2016. At the same time, officials from South Ossetia have said the territory's leaders plan to open a new trade post on the demarcation line near Akhalgori. Overall trade with the breakaway region may even resume. Tbilisi floated the idea of changing the country's constitution, too, so that foreigners entering Abkhazia or South Ossetia without first notifying Tbilisi (most of whom are Russian) would face a fine rather than legal prosecution.

Russian-Georgian relations are clearly progressing at the time when geopolitical situation in the former Soviet periphery is in flux. Divisions in the European Union are growing. A new U.S. presidential administration appears more open to working with Russia. So for many former Soviet countries, including Georgia, rethinking the relationship with Moscow is now vital.
58  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bureaucracy and Regulations in action: The Fourth Branch of the US Govt. on: February 14, 2017, 07:45:23 PM
How about starting with super simple disclosure of the annualized rate?
59  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Forked Tongue's net worth on: February 14, 2017, 07:43:54 PM


http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/08/news/economy/elizabeth-warren-wealth/

https://conservativedailypost.com/senator-warren-net-worth-revealed-make-15-million-congresswoman/

60  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: February 14, 2017, 05:50:28 PM
PLA?
61  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bureaucracy and Regulations in action: The Fourth Branch of the US Govt. on: February 14, 2017, 05:49:55 PM
I get all that.

OTOH there is something about sophisticated loan shark operators fukking those teetering on the edge , , ,
62  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / For fux sake Donald!!! on: February 14, 2017, 05:48:30 PM
http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-north-korea-mar-a-lago-meeting-photos-2017-2

http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/13/14597700/donald-trump-phone-flashlight-north-korea-hacking-security

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/02/13/trump-ran-a-campaign-based-on-intelligence-security-thats-not-how-hes-governing/?utm_term=.b20e187e56be

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2017/02/03/513256171/is-trump-tweeting-from-a-secure-smartphone-the-white-house-wont-say
63  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Putin cruisin' with Cruise missiles; so much for the grand bargain? on: February 14, 2017, 05:46:47 PM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/world/europe/russia-cruise-missile-arms-control-treaty.html?emc=edit_na_20170214&nl=breaking-news&nlid=49641193&ref=cta
64  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The campaign against Stephen Miller begins on: February 14, 2017, 11:38:42 AM
http://www.univision.com/univision-news/politics/how-white-house-advisor-stephen-miller-went-from-pestering-hispanic-students-to-designing-trumps-immigration-policy
65  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gorkha: leaked stories are BS on: February 14, 2017, 11:29:31 AM
http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/319343-trump-aide-says-leaked-stories-bear-almost-no-resemblance-to-reality
66  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jason Riley: Race Relations and Law Enforcement on: February 14, 2017, 11:18:55 AM
https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/race-relations-and-law-enforcement/?utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=stripes&utm_medium=social&utm_content=02032017
67  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Inflation getting traction? on: February 14, 2017, 10:46:41 AM
The Producer Price Index Rose 0.6% in January To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 2/14/2017

The Producer Price Index (PPI) rose 0.6% in January, coming in well above the consensus expected increase of 0.3%. Producer prices are up 1.7% versus a year ago.

Energy prices increased 4.7% in January, while food prices were unchanged. Producer prices excluding food and energy rose 0.4%.

In the past year, prices for goods are up 3.2%, while prices for services are up 0.9%. Private capital equipment prices declined 0.1% in January but are up 0.8% in the past year.

Prices for intermediate processed goods rose 1.1% in January and are up 3.9% versus a year ago. Prices for intermediate unprocessed goods increased 3.8% in January and are up 17.4% versus a year ago.

Implications: Producer prices rose at the fastest monthly pace in more than four years to start 2017. And this comes after healthy increases in November and December as well. Some will point out that energy prices, which rose 4.7% in January and are up 14.0% in the past year, have been a key contributor to the rise in consumer prices in recent months. But even stripping out the volatile food and energy components shows "core" prices accelerating from a 1.2% increase in the past year to a 3.7% annual rate in the past three months. Goods prices once again led the index higher in January, rising 1.0% on the back of energy prices. Meanwhile, service prices have shown consistent, if moderate, inflation, rising 0.3% in January. We expect this trend to continue in the coming months, which will push overall inflation toward, and eventually above, the Fed's 2% inflation target. The Fed, to no surprise, held off on action at their meeting earlier this month. However, if data continue on the track of today's inflation reading and the consensus-beating January jobs report, the Fed could be pushed to move before the market projected June meeting. Expect three, if not four, rate hikes in 2017. In other recent inflation news, import prices rose 0.4% in January and are up 3.7% from a year ago. Petroleum import prices jumped 5.2% in January following December's 6.8% rise. While the long decline in energy prices that began in mid-2014 appears to be over, don't be surprised if we see fits and starts on the road higher. Export prices also rose in January, up 0.1%, and have increased 2.3% in the past year. The Fed has plenty to watch before they meet again in March, and all eyes will be on the wording of that statement to see if the Fed will risk falling behind the curve.
68  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: A storm is brewing on: February 14, 2017, 10:37:02 AM
second post

A Storm Is Brewing Over Europe
Geopolitical Weekly
February 14, 2017 | 08:00 GMT
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Dark clouds over the Reichstag building in Berlin may be a sign of things to come. (JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
By Adriano Bosoni

Storm clouds are once again gathering above the eurozone. In coming months, its continuity will be threatened by events in Europe and the United States. Germany, the largest political and economic player in Europe, will try to keep the bloc together. But the crisis could be too big for Berlin to handle, especially since some of the actors involved see Germany as a part of the problem rather than the solution.

U.S. President Donald Trump recently described the European Union as "a vehicle for Germany." He and members of his administration argue that Germany's industry has benefited significantly since the introduction of the euro in the early 2000s. The boon to Germany, the argument goes, is that the common European currency is weaker than the deutsche mark would be; the result is more competitive German exports. Trump was not the first U.S. president to criticize Germany's trade surplus, the biggest in the world. But he was the first to suggest the United States could take countermeasures against German exports.

Some of Germany's own eurozone partners have also accused the country of exporting too much and importing too little, a situation that leads to low unemployment in Germany and to high unemployment elsewhere in the currency area. Their charges, however, do not focus on the value of the euro (which is set by the European Central Bank) but on Berlin's tight fiscal policies, which restrict domestic consumption and limit Germans' appetite for imports. The European Commission and the International Monetary Fund have asked Germany to increase investment in public infrastructure and raise the wages of German workers.
 
Addressing the German Question

Indeed, the European Union is a vehicle for Germany, but for reasons that go well beyond trade. Many of Europe's current political and economic structures were designed to resolve the question of Germany's role in Europe. Situated at the center of the North European Plain, the largest mountain-free territory in Europe, Germany has no clear borders. This means that its neighbors in the east and the west can easily invade, a fact that has traditionally given German leaders a sense of constant insecurity. In addition, before the country's unification in the 1870s, the Germans had little in common other than language. Their location at the heart of trade routes in Central Europe and their access to many navigable rivers allowed the Germans to develop multiple economic centers. The Holy Roman Empire, which ruled over German lands, lasted for 10 centuries precisely because the emperor had limited influence on the affairs of the hundreds of political entities that made up the empire. Seeing a strong, united Germany in the 21st century makes it easier to forget that the country has traditionally had strong regional identities and powerful centrifugal tendencies that worked against national unity.

Germany's Geographic Challenge

Between the mid-19th and the mid-20th centuries, German leaders sought to solve the country's geopolitical challenges through war, with disastrous consequences for Germany and for the rest of Europe. After World War II, Germany built a federal system where wealth is distributed between states, under the supervision of the federal government. This was coupled with a corporatist economic model that incorporates the economic elites into the leadership structure and strong social safety nets that prevent social upheaval. This entire social-political structure relies on an economic model that is heavily dependent on exports.

To a large extent, the European institutions were imposed on Germany. A weak and occupied West Germany saw membership in the European Economic Community (the European Union's predecessor) as a way to peacefully return to the international community after two world wars. The political and economic integration of Western Europe was actually a French idea encouraged by a great deal of U.S. pressure. After Germany's reunification in 1990, the creation of the eurozone followed a similar pattern. Paris saw the introduction of a common currency as a way to bind France and Germany so close together that another war between them would be impossible. At the time, the idea of another Franco-German war did not seem as far-fetched as it does now, and to a large extent losing the deutsche mark was the price that Germany had to pay for reunification.

Solving Problems and Creating New Ones

Europe's economic and political integration enabled Germany to achieve some of its main geopolitical goals. It reduced the likelihood of another war on the North European Plain by creating a co-leadership of the Continent with France. Even after the French economy started to show signs of decay, Berlin made sure to keep Paris involved in continental decision-making. European integration also opened markets from Portugal to Romania, and from Finland to Cyprus, for German exports. All of this was possible while Germany's membership in NATO kept Berlin's defense expenditures modest.

But the euro's arrival deprived some of Germany's main trade partners of the ability to devalue their currencies to compete against their neighbor in the north. At the time the bargain seemed fair, since countries in Mediterranean Europe were suddenly able to issue debt at Northern European interest rates, which they did enthusiastically. Access to cheap debt made many countries in the eurozone delay the introduction of structural reforms in their increasingly less competitive economies.

The euro may not have been a German idea, but Berlin made sure that it did not threaten its interests. The European Central Bank was modeled after the Bundesbank, with its mission of low inflation (a German obsession after the hyperinflationary 1930s) and with no explicit mandate to foster economic growth. The eurozone was created as a monetary union without a fiscal union. No mechanisms to transfer resources from Europe's wealthy north to its relatively poorer south, or to share risk among their financial sectors, were introduced. To accept greater risk sharing, countries in the north require their southern partners to completely surrender their fiscal policies to technocrats in Brussels. This is something that countries like Greece could be pressured to accept but that is unacceptable for countries such as France or Italy.

A Perfect Storm in the Making

These shortcomings became apparent during the past decade. Europe's economic crisis, and the austerity measures that followed it, led to the emergence of nationalist, populist and anti-establishment political forces across the Continent. Some are critical of the European Union, while others want to get rid of the eurozone. The economic decline of France and Italy left Germany without reliable partners to redesign either one of them.

Every year of the past decade has been a test of the eurozone's resilience, but 2017 could be the year when the bloc's very survival in endangered. France will hold presidential elections in two rounds in April and May. Opinion polls say the National Front party, which has promised to hold a referendum on France's membership in the eurozone, should win the first round but be defeated in the second. The Brexit referendum and the U.S. presidential election, however, have shown that polls sometimes fail to detect the deep social tendencies driving populist movements.
 
Moreover, a recent scandal involving France's main conservative presidential candidate, Francois Fillon, has damaged his image. Should the center-right fail to reach the second round of the elections, millions of conservative votes will be up for grabs. Some would probably migrate to centrist parties, attracted by their promise of economic reform. But many would go to the far right, seduced by proposals to increase security, impose tougher rules on immigration and restore France's national sovereignty. A win by the far-right candidate — a direct threat to the eurozone's survival — cannot be ruled out.

In Italy, things are even more complex, as two of the three most popular political parties want to leave the eurozone. Italian lawmakers are using the need to reform the country's electoral law as a pretext to delay elections. But even if Parliament ends its mandate in early 2018, Italy's threat to the eurozone will be delayed rather than averted. Unlike France, where the two-round electoral system was designed to prevent extremist parties from reaching power, Italy's proportional system means that Euroskeptic forces stand a real chance of entering the government. And no matter the outcome of the election, Italy's massive public debt (which, at roughly 130 percent of GDP, is the second-highest ratio in the eurozone after Greece) will remain a ticking bomb for the currency area.

The mere announcement of a referendum on eurozone membership in France or Italy could be enough to precipitate the collapse of the currency area. A run on Southern European banks could happen before the referendum even took place if people feared that their savings could be converted into national currencies. People in countries such as Italy, Spain or Portugal could transfer their savings to havens in Northern Europe, hoping to be given German marks instead of Italian lira, Spanish pesetas or Portuguese escudos.

To make things more complicated, the Greek saga is not over. Greece's creditors are debating whether the terms of the bailout program are realistic and whether Athens should be granted debt relief. Ten years into the Greek crisis and three international rescue programs later, Athens remains a danger for the eurozone. The main concern is not Greece's debt per se, because most of Athens' debt is in the hands of institutional creditors such as the IMF, the ECB and the European Union's bailout funds, which means that a Greek default can be contained. The problem is that a Greek exit from the eurozone could lead to a contagion effect that could hurt the likes of Italy, Spain or Portugal. Some have argued that the eurozone would actually be stronger without Greece in it, but the price of finding out whether that's true could be too high.

Should France or Italy be taken over by Euroskeptic forces, or should Greece precipitate yet another crisis in the eurozone, Germany's instinctive reaction would be to seek accommodation with its partners in the currency area to protect the status quo. But depending on the magnitude of the crisis, officials in Berlin could be forced to make preparations for a post-eurozone world. This could involve returning to the deutsche mark or, as some German economists have proposed, creating some kind of "northern eurozone" with the likes of Austria and the Netherlands. But a strategy that makes sense from a financial point of view could be risky from a geopolitical perspective, since any moves to distance Germany from France hide the germ of a future conflict between the two. No matter what Berlin does, it has to ensure that political ties with Paris remain as strong as possible. Germany holds general elections in September, and events in the previous six months would have a direct impact on the electoral strategies of the main political parties.

A Fragile Eurozone

The threats to the eurozone would be easier for Germany to tolerate if things were quiet in the United States. But Trump's protectionist rhetoric is encouraging nationalist forces in Europe. France's National Front leader, Marine Le Pen, has even bragged that the U.S. president is actually copying proposals she made five years ago.

The coming storm in the eurozone does not necessarily have to destroy it. The U.S. government could decide to avoid a trade war with its allies in Europe. Moderate forces could win the general elections in France and Italy, and Greece and its creditors could find yet another last-minute agreement. But the fact that the eurozone has reached a point where the entire system can collapse because of an election, a bailout negotiation or measures taken by a foreign government speaks volumes of its fragility.

Even if the doomsday scenario is averted in 2017, the relief may last only until the next election. In Europe, as in the United States, there are millions of voters who feel that the alleged benefits of globalization have not reached them, and who believe that their economic problems could be solved by putting an end to the free movement of people, goods and services — the very principles upon which European integration was built.

The rhetoric from the U.S. government and the rise of nationalist forces in Europe pose a fundamental threat for an export-dependent economy like Germany's. They also threaten the continuity not only of the eurozone but, depending on how events unfold, also of many of the political and economic strictures that Europe built after the war. The supranational eurozone is a half-built house in a neighborhood where national sovereignty has been eroded but not completely erased. The irreconcilability of this dilemma could take the currency bloc from its current fragmentation to outright dissolution.

69  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Eurozone- edge of crisis on: February 14, 2017, 10:33:51 AM
Forecast

    The eurozone's underlying economic risks have been exacerbated by the political risks facing Europe in the year ahead.
    Recent setbacks in the bloc's effort to sever the link between banks and their countries' governments will make the danger to the eurozone more acute.
    New ideas for fixing this "doom loop" are likely to meet stiff resistance from Germany, where national elections are scheduled for September.

Analysis

As European policymakers look at the turbulence ahead in 2017, they are watching the eurozone's bond market with growing concern. A sell-off in government bonds, matching the same trend worldwide, is adding stress to the bloc's already vulnerable economies, especially in Southern Europe. Officials' fears have only been worsened by the sell-off's uneven pace, as some members' bonds have been sold more rapidly than others'. The differences in yield between Italian and German bonds, for example, has reached levels not seen since 2012, when a sovereign debt crisis nearly brought the currency union crashing down.

That debt crisis exposed the "doom loop" created by European banks' tendencies to hold their home government's debt. In theory, the vicious cycle could start when markets lose faith in a government's ability to pay back its debt, precipitating a sell-off of its bonds. The resulting drop in bond prices would then hit the balance sheets of the banks that still hold those bonds, making them more likely to need a bailout from their governments. This, in turn, could further erode investor confidence, leading to additional sell-offs that damage the banks even more. Despite the danger that banks' practices pose, eurozone regulators have yet to find a way to sever the loop.

Since mid-2016, rising expectations of a return to inflation have driven investors to sell off their bonds, especially in the wake of the U.S. presidential election. (Higher inflation reduces the attractiveness of bonds to investors, and bond markets have seen sharp sell-offs across the board over the past few months.) Those expectations have already played out in the eurozone, where the annual inflation rate rose from 0.2 percent in July to 1.8 percent in January. This has encouraged the European Central Bank (ECB) to scale back its bond purchase program, which it uses to stimulate inflation, from 80 billion euros ($85 billion) to 60 billion euros per month. With the ECB providing less support for bond prices, yields (which move in the opposite direction of prices) have risen.

On its own, this would have caused problems for the currency union by putting more pressure on indebted countries such as Italy, which would in turn face higher debt payments. But mounting political risk in countries such as France, Italy and Germany has magnified the sell-off's effects as the gap in bond yields between Europe's peripheral countries and Germany, whose debt acts as a baseline because of its perceived safety, has widened. This indicates that the market's fears of a eurozone breakup are growing. If the currency union implodes, investors would much rather be left holding German debt, for example, than bonds issued by Greece or Italy.

A Weighty Set of Political Worries

National elections are scheduled this year in the Netherlands, France and Germany. But concerns about electoral outcomes are running especially high with regard to France's two-round presidential election in April and May, where there is still a chance that nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen, who has promised to pull France out of the eurozone as quickly as possible, could win. Though France's electoral system is designed in part to keep an extremist party like Le Pen's National Front out of office, all other candidates running for the presidency have weaknesses that could prove fatal to their campaigns. Her defeat, therefore, is not a foregone conclusion.

In Italy, meanwhile, a fragile government and deepening divides among the ruling Democratic Party have increased the likelihood that elections will be called there sometime this year. The result could easily usher in a new government that is heavily influenced by the Five Star Movement or the Northern League, parties that both want Italy to leave the eurozone.

If Euroskeptic forces are able to access power in either country, they wouldn't necessarily have to win a referendum on leaving the eurozone to damage it. Even the act of scheduling a vote in France or Italy could precipitate a crisis that would shake the currency union to its foundations.

Greece is another cause for worry among eurozone leaders, who do not want Athens' debt bailout program to linger as an issue in the Continent's elections. With sizable debt repayments due in July, Greece faces pressure to accept a bailout review, which it must do before it can get the funds it needs to make the payments. To keep Greece's situation from influencing election results, this would ideally happen at the Feb. 20 meeting of the eurozone's finance ministers. Greece has enough money to last until July, but if the issue is not resolved by then, it would have to negotiate a brand new bailout program. This would trigger another Greek crisis much like the one that preoccupied the eurozone in 2015 and carry the danger of a Greek exit from the eurozone.
Breaking the Doom Loop

At the same time, economic risks continue to swirl, particularly around Italy. The eurozone's third-largest economy has its second-largest ratio of debt to gross domestic product (132.4 percent), while its banking sector — saddled with 276 billion euros in bad loans — is teetering on the edge of crisis. Adding to its troubles, Italy is the eurozone member most vulnerable to a doom loop: Italian institutions are the bloc's biggest holders of their own government's debt, which accounts for just under 12 percent of its banking sector's total assets.

In the years since a doom loop triggered by the Greek crisis nearly led to the eurozone's collapse, authorities have tried (but failed) to break the bond connection between banks and their governments. A German proposal to limit the amount of their own government's debt that banks can hold has been hotly contested by Italy and Spain, since implementing it would cause massive disruptions to their economies.

Another German-led measure involved the creation of "bail-in" rules, which were adopted at the start of 2016. They required that a troubled bank's private debtholders absorb its losses first, essentially losing their investment, before government money could be used to bail it out. The first major test of these rules came in December, when the long-ailing Banca Monte Dei Paschi di Siena — Italy's third-largest bank — ran into serious trouble and needed a bailout. But many of the bank's debtholders were unsuspecting private citizens who had been sold the debt as a safe savings vehicle. Forcing them to take a loss with a bail-in would have spurred a major political backlash, strengthening the hand of Euroskeptic parties such as the Five Star Movement.

The Italian government's solution to shield itself from the political fallout involved two sleights of hand. First, it used a nearly out-of-date stress test from mid-2016 to justify a more favorable type of recapitalization. Then, armed with the excuse that debtholders had been misled about the nature of their investment, it reimbursed them. Rome's tactics saved the bank, at least for the time being, and prevented a substantial public outcry. The European Commission, no doubt also worried about the ramifications of strengthening Euroskeptic parties, signed off on the plan. Nevertheless, the situation is not entirely resolved: European authorities must still approve a business plan for the bank before the bailout can proceed. The bail-in rules, moreover, seem to have fallen at their first hurdle, while the potential doom loop between banks and their governments remains intact.
Europe Explores New Solutions

The existing fix for the doom loop appears to be failing, but European authorities have not stopped searching for ways to correct it. In January, the European Banking Authority suggested the creation of a Europe-wide "bad bank" that could buy nonperforming loans from EU banks to get them off the banks' balance sheets, thereby improving the sector's financial health. The bad bank would then sell those loans to investors. If it took a loss on any of its transactions, it could theoretically seek reimbursement from the originating bank so that the plan's original backers would not lose money.

Another idea first floated in October 2011 has also been gaining traction lately: the creation of European safe bonds, or ESBies. Under this plan, an entity (private or public) would buy the bonds of all eurozone countries and create two pools: one for riskier economies and another for safer ones. It would then issue bonds representing the risky debt pool (preliminarily named European junior bonds, or EJBies, containing debt from countries such as Greece and Portugal) and others for the safer pool (with debt from countries such as Germany and the Netherlands). This pooling could make it harder for investors to pick one country to desert in a crisis while also creating a larger pool of truly safe assets that investors could rely on. In September, the European Systemic Risk Board, headed by ECB President Mario Draghi, created a task force to explore the idea, and the European Commission is expected to publish a white paper on it in March.

Unfortunately for the plans' architects, Germany — the eurozone's most influential voice — has raised objections to both ideas. The German public is strongly opposed to any proposal that might involve subsidizing the indebted south with its tax money. Over the past few years, Germany has taken steps to insulate itself from the eurozone's potential dissolution. When the ECB launched its bond-buying program in January 2015, for example, Germany finally relented to a policy it had disagreed with on the condition that the bonds continued to be divided among members' central banks rather than pooled centrally, making the arrangement clearer in the event of a future divorce. More subtly, data from the Bank for International Settlements has shown that German banks have stopped lending to companies based elsewhere in the eurozone in recent years, preferring instead to keep their money inside Germany — another step away from integration and liability mutualization within the bloc. So, any idea that appears to involve risk pooling will probably receive short shrift in Germany, especially during an election year.
Will the Eurozone Survive the Year?

The eurozone has entered a difficult year, and some investors are showing more and more doubt in its ability to survive. If Europe successfully leaps the political hurdles that lie ahead, uncertainty in the market should rapidly fade, returning money to its bond markets. But even if that does happen, economic risks (made worse by political factors on the Continent) will continue to feed fears for the currency union's future.

European bond yields are rising, buoyed by global expectations of inflation and by the ECB's gradually tightening monetary policy, which means that debt repayments will also rise. If they continue to do so gradually, bond yields are unlikely to reach uncomfortable levels during 2017. But because the doom loop between banks and their governments is still intact, and because the Italian banking sector is still extremely fragile, Italy will be highly prone to crisis. And upticks in debt repayments, no matter how gradual, will only increase its vulnerability.
70  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US tax dollars helping American and Palestinian terrorists meet on: February 14, 2017, 10:17:09 AM
http://www.meforum.org/6524/taxpayer-dollars-help-american-and-palestinian-terrorists-meet?utm_source=Middle+East+Forum&utm_campaign=ad6a2eb7ef-smith_stillwell_2017_02_13&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_086cfd423c-ad6a2eb7ef-33691909&goal=0_086cfd423c-ad6a2eb7ef-33691909
71  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kim has older half-brother killed on: February 14, 2017, 09:46:18 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/14/kim-jong-uns-older-brother-killed-north-korean-spies-poison1/
72  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bureaucracy and Regulations in action: The Fourth Branch of the US Govt. on: February 14, 2017, 09:35:59 AM
"Nope, this was it  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDylgzybWAw"

"Yes, we need a nanny state to be sure we always make the right decision."

Is that really responsive?

73  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: February 14, 2017, 09:33:46 AM
That does not change the fact that DACA dreamers stories are going to be a real tough story to counter politically.
74  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Trump Transition/Administration on: February 14, 2017, 09:32:23 AM
http://time.com/4670027/rahm-emanuel-reince-priebus-jared-kushner-donald-trump/
75  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Regs for the new laws being contested on: February 14, 2017, 09:27:15 AM
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/13/gun-rights-advocates-in-california-brace-for-long-/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTldSaE4ySTJaREkxTW1VMyIsInQiOiJxYUNkT1R3UFwveGdJaW45aGFNQ0pwTWo4UkZGMHhYZUpsQldpNHJFUEd2MXBWZXVXUWErRUJJTmpZdXgzVmtqSGd2Q3pOWDFMTTNFOHFIK2xkMkI5TWVyUXJORWVxdW5RekRjSWNRVnB6d3VSTTVBYys2Z081Rk1ZVW9OYW40M3kifQ%3D%3D
76  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ben Shapiro on: February 14, 2017, 12:05:33 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqzN0nqiJyQ
77  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sauce for the Goose and the Gander on: February 13, 2017, 10:49:53 PM
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/02/13/republicans-railed-against-clintons-extremely-careless-behavior-now-theyve-got-a-trump-dilemma/?utm_term=.94d24897c8ce
78  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / California asks for Federal Disaster Relief on: February 13, 2017, 10:47:04 PM
http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2017/02/trump-suddenly-recognized-president-california-liberal-state-begs-help/
79  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Judge Robert wrong 72X on: February 13, 2017, 08:57:47 PM


http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/12/terror-convicts-came-from-countries-targeted-for-e/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTlRZNU1Ua3pZVGMxWTJWaSIsInQiOiJxU2RxUlg3bGhvaGVKV3A2MVV2aVhza2lOMUhDXC9pU0ZtRkR1YVU1TUtzaFpaazFQK21ReGxTRE1VNnJ6SWxYaHprdlNOeDJsdUkyRDA0eHhkdWdxMDE1XC9QQm9GVlAyWk92T2Q0Tk5PRUtueEJ4NU9NOFFrN05XbFJkUmpGbDdFIn0%3D
80  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Representative Keith Ellison on: February 13, 2017, 08:33:36 PM
http://www.breitbart.com/jerusalem/2017/02/13/anti-trump-jewish-rally-for-refugees-organizer-funded-by-obama-government-to-resettle-refugees/
81  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pay Day Loans on: February 13, 2017, 05:44:31 PM
Nope, this was it  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDylgzybWAw

82  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bureaucracy and Regulations in action: The Fourth Branch of the US Govt. on: February 13, 2017, 05:38:03 PM
GM:

Maybe this was it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxUAntt1z2c 
83  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Possible Alzheimer cure on: February 13, 2017, 05:35:17 PM
http://www.sciencealert.com/new-alzheimer-s-treatment-fully-restores-memory-function
84  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: KISS on: February 13, 2017, 05:09:51 PM
________________________________________
Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS) To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 2/13/2017

The biggest tax debate in Washington right now is not between Republicans and Democrats, but between Republicans and Republicans. Both sides of the debate seem to understand that the US tax code, particularly the fact that the US has the highest corporate tax rate of any industrialized country, is harming the competitiveness of US companies.

Both sides want to cut this tax rate and both sides want to allow for full and immediate expensing of business investment in plant and equipment. Both sides also propose to end the deduction for the interest companies pay on their (new) debts.

What they're fighting about is making the US corporate tax system "border adjustable." Some want to exempt from taxation any income generated by exports, and at the same time, no longer allow US companies to deduct the cost of imports from revenue. Like a Value-Added Tax (VAT) used in many other countries, the idea would be to promote exports. Meanwhile, it would create a level playing field between foreign and US companies trying to sell to US consumers.

Let's say the new tax rate is 20%. A Napa Valley vineyard could produce a $100 wine and pay $20 in taxes. Then, after a retailer sells that bottle for $150, the retailer pays a $10 tax on their $50 profit. Total, the IRS gets $30. If the retailer buys the $100 bottle from a French vineyard and sells it for the same $150, the retailer now pays the 20% tax rate on the full $150, and so sends the IRS the total tax of $30.

The retailer's revenues don't change, but its tax payments to the IRS soar while its after-tax profits plummet. In effect, a border adjustable tax forces US retailers to attempt to extract tax payments from foreign producers or US consumers. This is why retailers in the US are fighting so hard against it.

Some say retailers shouldn't care because the value of the dollar will soar as well, reducing the cost of imports. But, if this is really true, why haven't all the other countries with border adjustments in their VATs been able to take down the dollar? The theory might work on an academic chalkboard, but the value of the dollar depends on many factors. Betting on a stronger dollar to fix border adjustable tax rate problems is a HUGE gamble.

Don't get us wrong, the US should have lower tax rates. But why not just do it within the corporate tax system we already have instead of a system that's never been tried before? Trillions of dollars of decisions have been made based on the tax system we have in place today. Having the government suddenly change the "rules of the game" will create massive windfall winners and losers that may completely offset any potential positives from a change in the tax code.

Meanwhile, what if the forecast of a stronger dollar really happens? Many emerging-market companies borrow in dollars and might find it hard to repay their debts at the same time they find it tougher exporting to the US. Would the US find itself on the hook for foreign bailouts? And what about US exporters? Wouldn't a stronger dollar make it harder for Boeing to sell abroad and compete against Airbus? Would Boeing then lobby the government for looser monetary policy and a weaker dollar?

Instead, we need to keep tax reform simple. Policymakers should focus on cutting tax rates and excessive regulation (to make the US more competitive) and not get distracted by policy changes that will create big (and often arbitrary) windfall winners and losers.
85  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Carbon Tax on: February 13, 2017, 04:56:35 PM
If they would use the revenues to eliminate other taxes I would be for it.
86  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / With Obama gone, Israel popular with the Dems again on: February 13, 2017, 04:54:11 PM
http://freebeacon.com/national-security/netanyahu-dc-meetings/
87  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bureaucracy and Regulations in action: The Fourth Branch of the US Govt. on: February 13, 2017, 11:41:10 AM

Thank you, will watch it later today.

In the meantime, is this a fight we need to undertake now?

Retirement Advice in the Trump Era

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD NYT
FEB. 11, 2017


A federal judge in Texas did President Trump a favor last week. It came in a decision in a case filed by the financial industry against the Labor Department to overturn an Obama-era regulation called the “fiduciary rule,” which requires financial advisers to put their clients’ interests first when giving advice and selling investments for retirement accounts.

The judge, Barbara Lynn, called the plaintiffs’ objections “without merit,” “unpersuasive” and “at odds with market realities.”

If Mr. Trump were smart, he’d see the judge’s decision as a warning that he chose an ill-advised course on Feb. 3, when he sided with Wall Street, and against savers and retirees, by calling for a review and possible rollback of the rule, which is slated to take effect in April. As Judge Lynn’s decision makes clear, the rule is solid, and those behind the rollback effort, which was spearheaded by Gary Cohn, Mr. Trump’s top economic adviser and, until recently, president of Goldman Sachs, would have a difficult time asserting otherwise.
Photo
Gary Cohn at Trump Tower in January. Credit Kevin Hagen for The New York Times

The only rationale for a rollback would be to entrench a status quo in which retirement savers forfeit an estimated $17 billion each year to stockbrokers, insurance agents and other advisers who steer them into high-cost strategies and products when comparable lower-cost options are available.

The fiduciary rule, developed by the Obama Labor Department over years of painstaking analysis and open debate, is a common-sense safeguard with far-reaching consequences. By requiring that advice be prudent and transparent about fees and conflicts of interest, it helps to ensure that the billions of dollars currently siphoned off in overly expensive investments would instead remain with savers and retirees.

The financial industry has argued that the Labor Department has no authority to impose a fiduciary duty on retirement advisers. Citing federal pension law, the courts have found otherwise and have even indicated that the government waited too long to assert its authority. Judge Lynn quoted approvingly from Labor Department research that justified the need for a fiduciary rule by noting that the explosion of 401(k)’s and I.R.A.s in recent decades had shifted decision making responsibility onto individuals, but without updating the regulation of advisers. That mismatch has created a confusing system, in which some advisers adhere to a fiduciary standard and many others don’t, while clients generally assume they are getting advice when they are really getting sales pitches.

Industry foes of the fiduciary rule have also argued that the rule will limit consumer choice. That is true insofar as it will remove conflicted, self-serving advice from the menu of options presented to clients. But that is not a flaw in the rule; it is the rule’s purpose. The courts have found that in crafting the fiduciary rule, regulators reasonably weighed the harm to savers from biased advice against the harm to advisers from the obligation to deliver impartial advice. The result, they said, is a rule that deserves to stand.

The court’s findings will greatly complicate any review of the rule by the Trump administration, because regulators would have to rebut findings that have already withstood legal challenge. And not just any legal challenge. Financial industry groups bent over backward to ensure that their case would be heard in Texas, where courts are seen to be industry-friendly. But even there they lost. That’s because they were wrong, on all counts.

88  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq and bin Laden, kept from the memory hole on: February 12, 2017, 11:52:19 PM
Very good to have this collected in one thread! 
89  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bureaucracy and Regulations in action: The Fourth Branch of the US Govt. on: February 12, 2017, 11:51:06 PM
GM:  See if you can find the John Oliver show on this, then tell me what you think.
90  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shadow War between CIA and President Trump? on: February 12, 2017, 11:48:08 PM
Let's use this thread for this subject:

I do not know the author or his motivations-- it may well be a piece of complete disintel-- but a very disconcerting piece nonetheless:

http://observer.com/2017/02/donald-trump-administration-mike-flynn-russian-embassy/
91  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Swedish feminist govt officials go to Iran on: February 12, 2017, 02:42:01 PM
https://www.unwatch.org/walk-shame-swedens-first-feminist-government-don-hijabs-iran/
92  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bureaucracy and Regulations in action: The Fourth Branch of the US Govt. on: February 12, 2017, 02:30:13 PM
If I have it right, Trump is in the process of reversing the regs under Dodd-Franks that protect not-so-bright consumers from the predations of short term loan operations.  John Oliver did a segment on this that impressed me, so it looks like I am about to be unhappy with this development-- which plays right into the Dem playbook I might add.
93  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism, crony capitalism, SJW: on: February 12, 2017, 02:09:56 PM
Second post of the day:

Much here is astounding in its lack of self-awareness, but amidst the self-righteous hyperbole, is there anything of merit to be gleaned? 

At the very least, this serves as an insight into why some of the Left is wound up so tight in this moment.


http://international.sueddeutsche.de/post/157058066625/we-have-at-most-a-year-to-defend-american
94  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Trump Transition/Administration on: February 12, 2017, 01:46:19 PM
Taking this discussion over to the Fascism thread. 

At the moment I am definitely not at ease with some of the things I have read.
95  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bannon, Gorka, the Alt Right, and Fascism on: February 12, 2017, 01:44:56 PM
I think the second item below gets in right with regard to Trump, but with regard to Bannon and Gorka, (whom I had liked until now) my spider sense begins to tingle , , ,
==========================

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/10/world/europe/bannon-vatican-julius-evola-fascism.html?smid=fb-share
Steve Bannon Cited Italian Thinker Who Inspired Fascists
By JASON HOROWITZFEB. 10, 2017

Stephen K. Bannon referred to the Italian philosopher Julius Evola in a Vatican speech in 2014. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

ROME — Those trying to divine the roots of Stephen K. Bannon’s dark and at times apocalyptic worldview have repeatedly combed over a speech that Mr. Bannon, President Trump’s ideological guru, made in 2014 to a Vatican conference, where he expounded on Islam, populism and capitalism.

But for all the examination of those remarks, a passing reference by Mr. Bannon to an esoteric Italian philosopher has gone little noticed, except perhaps by scholars and followers of the deeply taboo, Nazi-affiliated thinker, Julius Evola.

“The fact that Bannon even knows Evola is significant,” said Mark Sedgwick, a leading scholar of Traditionalists at Aarhus University in Denmark.

Evola, who died in 1974, wrote on everything from Eastern religions to the metaphysics of sex to alchemy. But he is best known as a leading proponent of Traditionalism, a worldview popular in far-right and alternative religious circles that believes progress and equality are poisonous illusions.

Evola became a darling of Italian Fascists, and Italy’s post-Fascist terrorists of the 1960s and 1970s looked to him as a spiritual and intellectual godfather.

They called themselves Children of the Sun after Evola’s vision of a bourgeoisie-smashing new order that he called the Solar Civilization. Today, the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn includes his works on its suggested reading list, and the leader of Jobbik, the Hungarian nationalist party, admires Evola and wrote an introduction to his works.

More important for the current American administration, Evola also caught on in the United States with leaders of the alt-right movement, which Mr. Bannon nurtured as the head of Breitbart News and then helped harness for Mr. Trump.

“Julius Evola is one of the most fascinating men of the 20th century,” said Richard Spencer, the white nationalist leader who is a top figure in the alt-right movement, which has attracted white supremacists, racists and anti-immigrant elements.

In the days after the election, Mr. Spencer led a Washington alt-right conference in chants of “Hail Trump!” But he also invoked Evola’s idea of a prehistoric and pre-Christian spirituality — referring to the awakening of whites, whom he called the Children of the Sun.

Mr. Spencer said “it means a tremendous amount” that Mr. Bannon was aware of Evola and other Traditionalist thinkers.

“Even if he hasn’t fully imbibed them and been changed by them, he is at least open to them,” he said. “He at least recognizes that they are there. That is a stark difference to the American conservative movement that either was ignorant of them or attempted to suppress them.”

Mr. Bannon, who did not return a request for comment for this article, is an avid and wide-ranging reader. He has spoken enthusiastically about everything from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” to “The Fourth Turning” by William Strauss and Neil Howe, which sees history in cycles of cataclysmic and order-obliterating change. His awareness of and reference to Evola in itself only reflects that reading. But some on the alt-right consider Mr. Bannon a door through which Evola’s ideas of a hierarchical society run by a spiritually superior caste can enter in a period of crisis.

“Evolists view his ship as coming in,” said Prof. Richard Drake at the University of Montana, who wrote about Evola in his book “The Revolutionary Mystique and Terrorism in Contemporary Italy.”

For some of them, it has been a long time coming.

“It’s the first time that an adviser to the American president knows Evola, or maybe has a Traditionalist formation,” said Gianfranco De Turris, an Evola biographer and apologist based in Rome who runs the Evola Foundation out of his apartment.

“If Bannon has these ideas, we have to see how he influences the politics of Trump,” he said.

A March article titled “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right” in Breitbart, the website then run by Mr. Bannon, included Evola as one of the thinkers in whose writings the “origins of the alternative right” could be found.

The article was co-written by Milo Yiannopoulos, the right-wing provocateur who is wildly popular with conservatives on college campuses. Mr. Trump recently defended Mr. Yiannopoulos as a symbol of free speech after demonstrators violently protested his planned speech at the University of California, Berkeley.

The article celebrated the youthful internet trolls who give the alt-right movement its energy and who, motivated by a common and questionable sense of humor, use anti-Semitic and racially charged memes “in typically juvenile but undeniably hysterical fashion.”

“It’s hard to imagine them reading Evola,” the article continued. “They may be inclined to sympathize to those causes, but mainly because it annoys the right people.”

Evola, who has more than annoyed people for nearly a century, seems to be having a moment.

“When I started working on Evola, you had to plow through Italian,” said Mr. Sedgwick, who keeps track of Traditionalist movements and thought on his blog, Traditionalists. “Now he’s available in English, German, Russian, Serbian, Greek, Hungarian. First I saw Evola boom, and then I realized the number of people interested in that sort of idea was booming.”

Born in 1898, Evola liked to call himself a baron and in later life sported a monocle in his left eye.

A brilliant student and talented artist, he came home after fighting in World War I and became a leading exponent in Italy of the Dada movement, which, like Evola, rejected the church and bourgeois institutions.

Evola’s early artistic endeavors gave way to his love of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and he developed a worldview with an overriding animosity toward the decadence of modernity. Influenced by mystical works and the occult, Evola began developing an idea of the individual’s ability to transcend his reality and “be unconditionally whatever one wants.”

Under the influence of René Guénon, a French metaphysicist and convert to Islam, Evola in 1934 published his most influential work, “The Revolt Against the Modern World,” which cast materialism as an eroding influence on ancient values.

It viewed humanism, the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution all as historical disasters that took man further away from a transcendental perennial truth.

Changing the system, Evola argued, was “not a question of contesting and polemicizing, but of blowing everything up.”

Evola’s ideal order, Professor Drake wrote, was based on “hierarchy, caste, monarchy, race, myth, religion and ritual.”

That made a fan out of Benito Mussolini.

The dictator already admired Evola’s early writings on race, which influenced the 1938 Racial Laws restricting the rights of Jews in Italy.

Mussolini so liked Evola’s 1941 book, “Synthesis on the Doctrine of Race,” which advocated a form of spiritual, and not merely biological, racism, that he invited Evola to meet him in September of that year.

Evola eventually broke with Mussolini and the Italian Fascists because he considered them overly tame and corrupted by compromise. Instead he preferred the Nazi SS officers, seeing in them something closer to a mythic ideal. They also shared his anti-Semitism.

(Photo:  A demonstration last month by Golden Dawn, the Greek neo-Nazi party, which includes Evola’s works on a suggested reading list. Credit Michalis Karagiannis/Reuters)

Mr. Bannon suggested in his Vatican remarks that the Fascist movement had come out of Evola’s ideas. As Mr. Bannon expounded on the intellectual motivations of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, he mentioned “Julius Evola and different writers of the early 20th century who are really the supporters of what’s called the Traditionalist movement, which really eventually metastasized into Italian Fascism.”

The reality, historians say, is that Evola sought to “infiltrate and influence” the Fascists, as Mr. Sedgwick put it, as a powerful vehicle to spread his ideas.

In his Vatican talk, Mr. Bannon suggested that although Mr. Putin represented a “kleptocracy,” the Russian president understood the existential danger posed by “a potential new caliphate” and the importance of using nationalism to stand up for traditional institutions.

“We, the Judeo-Christian West,” Mr. Bannon added, “really have to look at what he’s talking about as far as Traditionalism goes — particularly the sense of where it supports the underpinnings of nationalism.”

As Mr. Bannon suggested in his speech, Mr. Putin’s most influential thinker is Aleksandr Dugin, the ultra-nationalist Russian Traditionalist and anti-liberal writer sometimes called “Putin’s Rasputin.”

An intellectual descendant of Evola, Mr. Dugin has called for a “genuine, true, radically revolutionary, and consistent fascist fascism” and advocated a geography-based theory of “Eurasianism” — which has provided a philosophical framework for Mr. Putin’s expansionism and meddling in Western European politics.

Mr. Dugin sees European Traditionalists as needing Russia, and Mr. Putin, to defend them from the onslaught of Western liberal democracy, individual liberty, and materialism — all Evolian bêtes noires.

This appeal of traditional values on populist voters and against out-of-touch elites, the “Pan-European Union” and “centralized government in the United States,” as Mr. Bannon put it, was not lost on Mr. Trump’s ideological guru.

“A lot of people that are Traditionalists,” he said in his Vatican remarks, “are attracted to that.”
============

Still being irritated by that moronic article in The New York Times ("Steve Bannon Cited Italian Thinker [Julius Evola] Who Inspired Fascists"), I will cite a recent article from one fascist website because I find this quote very insightful:

"Trump isn’t a racist, and he isn’t a sexist, and he isn’t a fascist. I mean, nobody’s perfect. He’s just the best we’re going to get. But in branding him and his supporters racist, sexist, and fascist, the liberals are actually doing us a huge favor. You see, Trump’s policies are utterly reasonable, and will almost certainly result in ordinary Americans feeling a greater sense of security, and enjoying greater economic opportunity. Trump’s policies are going to work, and he is going to be an extremely popular president. SO . . . If all of this is “racist/sexist/fascist,” the result is going to be that a lot of decent and honest Americans are going to start asking, “What’s so bad about racism, sexism, and fascism?”"

Exactly. There's a non-zero possibility that Trump's regime is eventually successful and popular. After the initial turmoil (immigration ban, the wall, etc.), Trump's policies may become - while still being illiberal - more sophisticated and harder to challenge in courts. Already now, more Americans approve of Trump's chaotic executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries than oppose it. If the liberals convince the larger population that Trump's regime is fascist, this will automatically result in the discursive legitimisation of fascism.

=========================

http://lobelog.com/why-is-trump-adviser-wearing-medal-of-nazi-collaborators/

Why Is Trump Adviser Wearing Medal of Nazi Collaborators?


by Eli Clifton

The White House’s omission of Jewish victims of the Holocaust in its statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day raised objections from Jewish groups across the political spectrum but the Trump administration’s combative defense was perhaps the most surprising move by a presidency facing record low approval numbers. Last Monday, Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka refused to admit that that it may have been poor judgement not to specifically acknowledge the suffering of Jews in the Holocaust.

Gorka was an odd choice of proxies for the White House to put forward in defense of its Holocaust Remembrance day statement.

He has appeared in multiple photographs wearing the medal of a Hungarian group listed by the State Department as having collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

When asked on Monday whether the White House’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement was “questionable in being the first such statement in many years that didn’t recognize that Jewish extermination was the chief goal of the Holocaust,” Gorka told conservative talk show host Michael Medved:

    No, I’m not going to admit it. Because it’s asinine. It’s absurd. You’re making a statement about the Holocaust. Of course it’s about the Holocaust because that’s what the statement’s about. It’s only reasonable to twist it if your objective is to attack the president.

That statement is particularly noteworthy when viewed in the context of Gorka’s apparent affinity for a Hungarian group with a checkered past.

Gorka, who worked in the UK and Hungary before immigrating to the U.S., was photographed at an inaugural ball wearing a medal from the Hungarian Order of Heroes, Vitezi Rend, a group listed by the State Department as taking direction from Germany’s Nazi government during World War II.

Gorka did not respond to a request for comment but appeared to be wearing the medal on his chest during the Trump inauguration ball and in an undated photo posted on his Facebook page.

gorka2

gorka0

Hungarian Collaborators

Eva Balogh, founder of the news analysis blog Hungarian Spectrum and former professor of Eastern European History at Yale University, confirmed to LobeLog the identity of the medal worn by Gorka. She said:

    Yes, the medal is of the “vitézi rend” established by Miklós Horthy in 1920. He, as a mere governor, didn’t have the privilege to ennoble his subjects as the king could do before 1918, and therefore the “knightly order” he established was a kind of compensation for him. Officers and even enlisted men of exceptional valor could become knights. Between 1920 and 1944 there were 23,000 such knights. The title was inheritable by the oldest son. I found information that makes it clear that Gorka’s father, Pál Gorka, used the title. However, since he was born in 1930 he couldn’t himself be the one “knighted.” So, most likely, it was Gorka’s grandfather who was the original recipient.

Gorka’s PhD dissertation lists his name as “Sebestyén L. v. Gorka,” which suggests that he is carrying on his father’s title, albeit in an abbreviated format, according to Balogh.
gorka3

The Order of Vitezi

Miklós Horthy, regent of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1920 to 1944, established Vitezi Rend for both civilian and military supporters of Horthy’s government. The group was initially open to non-Jews who served in distinction during World War I.

Although Horthy’s personal views about Jews are still debated, he was explicit in endorsing anti-Semitism even while showing some unease with the pace of the Holocaust. In an October 1940 letter to Prime Minister Pál Teleki, Horthy said:

    As regards the Jewish problem, I have been an anti-Semite throughout my life. I have never had contact with Jews. I have considered it intolerable that here in Hungary everything, every factory, bank, large fortune, business, theatre, press, commerce, etc. should be in Jewish hands, and that the Jew should be the image reflected of Hungary, especially abroad. Since, however, one of the most important tasks of the government is to raise the standard of living, i.e., we have to acquire wealth, it is impossible, in a year or two, to replace the Jews, who have everything in their hands, and to replace them with incompetent, unworthy, mostly big-mouthed elements, for we should become bankrupt. This requires a generation at least.

In April 1941, Hungary became a de facto member of the Axis and permitted German troops to cross Hungary for the invasion of Yugoslavia. The first massacres of Jews took place in August when SS troops murdered between 18,000 and 20,000 Jews without Hungarian citizenship after they’d been deported from Hungary to Ukraine.
gorka4

Horthy and Hitler

By 1944, Horthy may have sought to distance Hungary from Nazi Germany but agreed to deport around 100,000 Jews. The German army removed Horthy from office after it occupied Hungary. Horthy’s actual awareness of the fate of Hungarian Jews remains unclear. But reports by journalists and the State Department in 1942 are explicit about the role played and benefits enjoyed by Vitezi Rend’s members.

A Jewish Telegraph Agency report from October 1942, describes how:

    Confiscated Jewish real estate in Hungary will be distributed by the government among members of the “Hungarian Order of Heroes” it was announced today over the Budapest radio. The order consists of soldiers who distinguished themselves in the last World War or in the present war.

“In 1942 there was a so-called ‘land reform,’” said Balogh. “It actually meant the expropriation of agricultural lands owned by Jewish citizens. According to government propaganda this move was necessary to ease social tensions in the countryside but as a recent study (2015) shows, most of the land went to “loyal, middle-class supporters of the regime, among them members of the ‘vitézi rend.’”

A Checkered Legacy

The State Department lists the Order of Heroes as an organization that was “under the direction of the Nazi government of Germany.” Membership in such groups during World War II could make individuals ineligible for U.S. visas. The State Department’s website warns that membership in groups under this designation:

    [R]enders ineligible for a visa any alien who participated in the persecution of any person because of race, religion, national origin, or political opinion during the period from March 23, 1933, to May 8, 1945, under the direction of or in association with the Nazi Government of Germany or an allied or occupied government.

Vitezi Rend was banned during the Soviet occupation of Hungary but reestablished in exile. The order was awarded to members of the Hungarian diaspora and individuals in Hungary since 1983. Although appearing to largely promote Hungarian culture and the diaspora, it sought foreign donors to help fund the construction of a statue of Horthy in 2011. A fundraising document read, “We have decided after almost seven decades to erect a statue in honor of our beloved Regent and to remember him, therefore we ask for your support!”

“In post-World War II Hungary, no noble titles of any sort can be officially used,” said Balogh. “The ‘knightly order’ no longer officially exists. However, right-wing émigrés kept the order going abroad.”

She later added, “Many supporters of the Horthy regime were enamored by the Nazis and Hitler and the ‘knights’ were especially so. Put it that way, after 1948 one wouldn’t have bragged about his father being a ‘vitéz.’ Lately, however, especially since 2010, it has become fashionable again to boast about such ‘illustrious’ ancestors.”

Horthy, under Hungary’s center-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has undergone a controversial rehabilitation, with squares renamed in his honor and statues erected.

Gorka’s decision to publicly identify with Vitezi Rend raises questions about Trump’s adviser and the administration’s flirtations with anti-Semitism and the alt-right. It’s even more awkward that he’s the person defending the administration’s explicit omission of Jewish victim of the Holocaust from the Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.

Photo: Sebastian Gorka appearing on Fox News after the inauguration ball.
96  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 77% of refugees since 9th Circuit decision are from the 7 countries on: February 12, 2017, 10:11:34 AM
http://pamelageller.com/2017/02/77-refugees-allowed-come-from-terror-list.html/
97  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: February 12, 2017, 12:34:22 AM
https://www.facebook.com/nayaritenlinea.mx/videos/10154208666502256/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED
98  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: February 12, 2017, 12:33:57 AM
https://www.facebook.com/nayaritenlinea.mx/videos/10154208666502256/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED
99  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Intruiguing and Disconcerting article on Steve Bannon on: February 12, 2017, 12:31:42 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/10/world/europe/bannon-vatican-julius-evola-fascism.html?smid=fb-share
Steve Bannon Cited Italian Thinker Who Inspired Fascists
By JASON HOROWITZFEB. 10, 2017

Stephen K. Bannon referred to the Italian philosopher Julius Evola in a Vatican speech in 2014. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

ROME — Those trying to divine the roots of Stephen K. Bannon’s dark and at times apocalyptic worldview have repeatedly combed over a speech that Mr. Bannon, President Trump’s ideological guru, made in 2014 to a Vatican conference, where he expounded on Islam, populism and capitalism.

But for all the examination of those remarks, a passing reference by Mr. Bannon to an esoteric Italian philosopher has gone little noticed, except perhaps by scholars and followers of the deeply taboo, Nazi-affiliated thinker, Julius Evola.

“The fact that Bannon even knows Evola is significant,” said Mark Sedgwick, a leading scholar of Traditionalists at Aarhus University in Denmark.

Evola, who died in 1974, wrote on everything from Eastern religions to the metaphysics of sex to alchemy. But he is best known as a leading proponent of Traditionalism, a worldview popular in far-right and alternative religious circles that believes progress and equality are poisonous illusions.

Evola became a darling of Italian Fascists, and Italy’s post-Fascist terrorists of the 1960s and 1970s looked to him as a spiritual and intellectual godfather.

They called themselves Children of the Sun after Evola’s vision of a bourgeoisie-smashing new order that he called the Solar Civilization. Today, the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn includes his works on its suggested reading list, and the leader of Jobbik, the Hungarian nationalist party, admires Evola and wrote an introduction to his works.

More important for the current American administration, Evola also caught on in the United States with leaders of the alt-right movement, which Mr. Bannon nurtured as the head of Breitbart News and then helped harness for Mr. Trump.

“Julius Evola is one of the most fascinating men of the 20th century,” said Richard Spencer, the white nationalist leader who is a top figure in the alt-right movement, which has attracted white supremacists, racists and anti-immigrant elements.

In the days after the election, Mr. Spencer led a Washington alt-right conference in chants of “Hail Trump!” But he also invoked Evola’s idea of a prehistoric and pre-Christian spirituality — referring to the awakening of whites, whom he called the Children of the Sun.
Photo
Evola, who died in 1974, is best known as a leading light of Traditionalism.

Mr. Spencer said “it means a tremendous amount” that Mr. Bannon was aware of Evola and other Traditionalist thinkers.

“Even if he hasn’t fully imbibed them and been changed by them, he is at least open to them,” he said. “He at least recognizes that they are there. That is a stark difference to the American conservative movement that either was ignorant of them or attempted to suppress them.”

Mr. Bannon, who did not return a request for comment for this article, is an avid and wide-ranging reader. He has spoken enthusiastically about everything from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” to “The Fourth Turning” by William Strauss and Neil Howe, which sees history in cycles of cataclysmic and order-obliterating change. His awareness of and reference to Evola in itself only reflects that reading. But some on the alt-right consider Mr. Bannon a door through which Evola’s ideas of a hierarchical society run by a spiritually superior caste can enter in a period of crisis.

“Evolists view his ship as coming in,” said Prof. Richard Drake at the University of Montana, who wrote about Evola in his book “The Revolutionary Mystique and Terrorism in Contemporary Italy.”

For some of them, it has been a long time coming.

“It’s the first time that an adviser to the American president knows Evola, or maybe has a Traditionalist formation,” said Gianfranco De Turris, an Evola biographer and apologist based in Rome who runs the Evola Foundation out of his apartment.

“If Bannon has these ideas, we have to see how he influences the politics of Trump,” he said.

A March article titled “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right” in Breitbart, the website then run by Mr. Bannon, included Evola as one of the thinkers in whose writings the “origins of the alternative right” could be found.

The article was co-written by Milo Yiannopoulos, the right-wing provocateur who is wildly popular with conservatives on college campuses. Mr. Trump recently defended Mr. Yiannopoulos as a symbol of free speech after demonstrators violently protested his planned speech at the University of California, Berkeley.

The article celebrated the youthful internet trolls who give the alt-right movement its energy and who, motivated by a common and questionable sense of humor, use anti-Semitic and racially charged memes “in typically juvenile but undeniably hysterical fashion.”

“It’s hard to imagine them reading Evola,” the article continued. “They may be inclined to sympathize to those causes, but mainly because it annoys the right people.”

Evola, who has more than annoyed people for nearly a century, seems to be having a moment.

“When I started working on Evola, you had to plow through Italian,” said Mr. Sedgwick, who keeps track of Traditionalist movements and thought on his blog, Traditionalists. “Now he’s available in English, German, Russian, Serbian, Greek, Hungarian. First I saw Evola boom, and then I realized the number of people interested in that sort of idea was booming.”
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Born in 1898, Evola liked to call himself a baron and in later life sported a monocle in his left eye.

A brilliant student and talented artist, he came home after fighting in World War I and became a leading exponent in Italy of the Dada movement, which, like Evola, rejected the church and bourgeois institutions.

Evola’s early artistic endeavors gave way to his love of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and he developed a worldview with an overriding animosity toward the decadence of modernity. Influenced by mystical works and the occult, Evola began developing an idea of the individual’s ability to transcend his reality and “be unconditionally whatever one wants.”
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Under the influence of René Guénon, a French metaphysicist and convert to Islam, Evola in 1934 published his most influential work, “The Revolt Against the Modern World,” which cast materialism as an eroding influence on ancient values.

It viewed humanism, the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution all as historical disasters that took man further away from a transcendental perennial truth.

Changing the system, Evola argued, was “not a question of contesting and polemicizing, but of blowing everything up.”

Evola’s ideal order, Professor Drake wrote, was based on “hierarchy, caste, monarchy, race, myth, religion and ritual.”

That made a fan out of Benito Mussolini.

The dictator already admired Evola’s early writings on race, which influenced the 1938 Racial Laws restricting the rights of Jews in Italy.

Mussolini so liked Evola’s 1941 book, “Synthesis on the Doctrine of Race,” which advocated a form of spiritual, and not merely biological, racism, that he invited Evola to meet him in September of that year.

Evola eventually broke with Mussolini and the Italian Fascists because he considered them overly tame and corrupted by compromise. Instead he preferred the Nazi SS officers, seeing in them something closer to a mythic ideal. They also shared his anti-Semitism.
Photo
A demonstration last month by Golden Dawn, the Greek neo-Nazi party, which includes Evola’s works on a suggested reading list. Credit Michalis Karagiannis/Reuters

Mr. Bannon suggested in his Vatican remarks that the Fascist movement had come out of Evola’s ideas.

As Mr. Bannon expounded on the intellectual motivations of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, he mentioned “Julius Evola and different writers of the early 20th century who are really the supporters of what’s called the Traditionalist movement, which really eventually metastasized into Italian Fascism.”

The reality, historians say, is that Evola sought to “infiltrate and influence” the Fascists, as Mr. Sedgwick put it, as a powerful vehicle to spread his ideas.

In his Vatican talk, Mr. Bannon suggested that although Mr. Putin represented a “kleptocracy,” the Russian president understood the existential danger posed by “a potential new caliphate” and the importance of using nationalism to stand up for traditional institutions.

“We, the Judeo-Christian West,” Mr. Bannon added, “really have to look at what he’s talking about as far as Traditionalism goes — particularly the sense of where it supports the underpinnings of nationalism.”

As Mr. Bannon suggested in his speech, Mr. Putin’s most influential thinker is Aleksandr Dugin, the ultranationalist Russian Traditionalist and anti-liberal writer sometimes called “Putin’s Rasputin.”

An intellectual descendant of Evola, Mr. Dugin has called for a “genuine, true, radically revolutionary, and consistent fascist fascism” and advocated a geography-based theory of “Eurasianism” — which has provided a philosophical framework for Mr. Putin’s expansionism and meddling in Western European politics.

Mr. Dugin sees European Traditionalists as needing Russia, and Mr. Putin, to defend them from the onslaught of Western liberal democracy, individual liberty, and materialism — all Evolian bêtes noires.

This appeal of traditional values on populist voters and against out-of-touch elites, the “Pan-European Union” and “centralized government in the United States,” as Mr. Bannon put it, was not lost on Mr. Trump’s ideological guru.

“A lot of people that are Traditionalists,” he said in his Vatican remarks, “are attracted to that.”
100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH goes after Flynn on: February 11, 2017, 09:09:07 PM


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