Arnold Schwarzenegger Mocks President Trump’s Approval Ratings

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

Arnold Schwarzenegger Mocks President Trump’s Approval Ratings and Challenges Him to a Middle-School Visit

8:42 AM ET

Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday mocked President Donald Trump’s low approval ratings and challenged him to go to a Washington D.C. middle school to see after-school programs in action, after they were placed on the chopping block in the President’s proposed budget.

“Oh, Donald, the ratings are in, and you got swamped,” Schwarzenegger said in a video Tuesday. “Wow. Now you’re in the thirties?”

“But what do you expect?” he added. “I mean, when you take away after-school programs from children and Meals on Wheels from the poor people, that’s not what you call ‘making America great again.'”

Hey, @realDonaldTrump, I have some advice. See you at Hart Middle School? Here’s more info about : http://www.afterschoolallstars.org/programs/national-outcomes/ 

 The video is the latest addition to an ongoing feud between the two men. Trump regularly criticized the ratings of The New Celebrity Apprentice after Schwarzenegger took over as host earlier this year. The actor and former governor of California recently stepped down from the show after one season, prompting Trump to taunt him for “pathetic” ratings.

Geert Wilders Falls Short In Election, As Wary Dutch Scatter Their Votes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Geert Wilders, a Rising Anti-Muslim Voice

This is Geert Wilders, a far-right Dutch politician with aspirations to be the next prime minister of the Netherlands. He has compared the Quran to “Mein Kampf” and has called Moroccans “scum.”

By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER on Publish Date March 13, 2017.  

THE HAGUE — The far-right politician Geert Wilders fell short of expectations in Dutch elections on Wednesday, gaining seats but failing to persuade a decisive portion of voters to back his extreme positions on barring Muslim immigrants and jettisoning the European Union, according to early results and exit polls.

The results were immediately cheered by pro-European politicians who hoped that they could help stall some of the momentum of the populist, anti-European Union and anti-Muslim forces Mr. Wilders has come to symbolize, and which have threatened to fracture the bloc.

Voters, who turned out in record numbers, nonetheless rewarded right and center-right parties that had co-opted parts of his hard-line message, including that of the incumbent prime minister, Mark Rutte. Some parties that challenged the establishment from the left made significant gains.

The Dutch vote was closely watched as a harbinger of potential trends in a year of important European elections, including in France in just weeks, and later in Germany and possibly Italy. Many of the Dutch parties that prevailed favor the European Union — a rare glimmer of hope at a time when populist forces have created an existential crisis for the bloc and Britain prepares for its withdrawal, or “Brexit.”

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“Today was a celebration of democracy, we saw rows of people queuing to cast their vote, all over the Netherlands — how long has it been since we’ve seen that?” Mr. Rutte said.

Alexander Pechtold, the leader of Democrats 66, which appeared to have won the most votes of any left-leaning party, struck a similar note underscoring the vote as a victory against a populist extremist.

“During this election campaign, the whole world was watching us,” Mr. Pechtold said. “They were looking at Europe to see if this continent would follow the call of the populists, but it has now become clear that call stopped here in the Netherlands.”

GRAPHIC

How Far Is Europe Swinging to the Right?

Right-wing parties have been achieving electoral success in a growing number of nations.

OPEN GRAPHIC

According to an unofficial tally compiled by the Dutch Broadcasting Foundation, the country’s public broadcaster, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy was likely to capture 33 of the 150 seats in Parliament — a loss of seven seats, but still far more than any other party.

Mr. Wilders’s Party for Freedom was expected to finish second, with 20 seats (an increase of eight); and the right-leaning Christian Democratic Appeal and the left-leaning Democrats 66 were tied for third, with 19 each, the broadcaster reported.

In the Netherlands, the results betrayed a lingering distrust of turning over the reins of power to the far right, even as its message dominated the campaign and was likely to influence policies in the new government.

Yet there are limits to how much the Netherlands, one of Europe’s most socially liberal countries, will be a reliable predictor for Europe’s other important elections this year, including next month’s presidential elections in France.

Mark Bovens, a political scientist at Utrecht University, noted that Mr. Wilders and other right-wing parties, despite their gains, did not drastically cross traditional thresholds.

“The nationalist parties have won seats, compared to 2012 — Wilders’s party has gained seats, as has a new party, the Forum for Democracy — but their electorate is stable, it has not grown,” Mr. Bovens said.

Mr. Bovens pointed out that an earlier populist movement led by the right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn had won 26 seats in 2002, and that Mr. Wilders’s won 24 seats in 2010. If Mr. Wilders’s party rises to 20 seats, as the early returns seemed to indicate, it will still be lower than the previous high-water marks.

“And some of the traditional parties have moved in a more nationalistic direction, taking a bit of wind out of his sails,” he said. “You see the same strategy in Germany.”

The German governing coalition led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, which is facing a stiff election challenge of its own this year, was clearly buoyed by the Dutch result, its foreign ministry sending a warmly enthusiastic message via Twitter.

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“The Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘Whoa’ to the wrong kind of populism,” said Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, speaking to an enthusiastic crowd. CreditCarl Court/Getty Images

“Large majority of Dutch voters have rejected anti-European populists. That’s good news. We need you for a strong #Europe!” it read.

In the Netherlands’s extremely fractured system of proportional representation — 28 parties ran and 13 are likely to have positions in the 150-seat lower house of Parliament — the results were, not atypically, something of a dog’s breakfast.

Mr. Rutte’s party lost seats, even as it came out on top, and will need to join forces with several others in order to wield power. Virtually all parties said they would not work with Mr. Wilders in a coalition — so toxic he remains — though his positions are likely to infuse parliamentary debate.

“Rutte has not seen the last of me yet!” Mr. Wilders wrote on Twitter, and indeed his anti-immigrant message, which dominated much of the campaign, was not likely to go away.

It came into particularly sharp relief on the eve of the election, when Turkey’s foreign minister sought to enter the Netherlands to rally support among Turks in Rotterdam for a referendum to increase the power of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Dutch officials refused him landing rights.

Mr. Wilders, who has seemed to relish being called the “Dutch Donald Trump,” has been so extreme that some appear to have thought twice about supporting him.

He has called for banning the Quran because he compares it to Hitler’s work “Mein Kampf,” which the Netherlands banned, and for closing mosques and Islamic cultural centers and schools.

Election turnout was high, with polling places seeing a steady stream of voters from early morning until the polls closed at 9 p.m. Of the 12.9 million Dutch citizens eligible to cast ballots, more than 80 percent voted.

Some polling places ran out of ballots and called for additional ones to be delivered. There were so many candidates listed that the ballots were as voluminous as bath towels and had to be folded many times over to fit into the ballot box.

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Supporters of the Green Party reacted in The Hague on Wednesday.CreditRobin Van Lonkhuijsen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The percentage of the vote that a party receives translates into the number of seats it will get in Parliament. If a party gets 10 percent of the total votes, it gets 10 percent of seats in the 150-seat Parliament, given to its first 15 candidates listed on the ballot.

The election was a success for the left-leaning Green Party, led by 30-year-old Jesse Klaver, a relative political newcomer, whose leadership at least tripled the party’s seats, making it the fifth-place finisher and potentially a part of the government.

Mr. Klaver ran specifically on an anti-populist platform and worked hard to turn out first-time voters.

“In these elections there was an overwhelming attention from the foreign press, which is understandable because Brexit happened and Trump was elected, and because France, Germany and maybe Italy will be holding elections,” Mr. Klaver said. “They asked us: Will populism break through in the Netherlands?”

The crowd shouted: “No.”

“That is the answer that we have for the whole of Europe: Populism did not break through,” Mr. Klaver said.

Another striking development was the first-time election of former Labor Party members, all three of Turkish background, who formed a new party, Denk (which means “think”). It will be the only ethnic party in the Dutch Parliament and is a reminder that Turks are the largest immigrant community in the Netherlands. There are roughly 400,000 first, second, or third-generation Turkish immigrants in the nation.

The big loser was the center-left Labor Party, which was expected to drop from being the second largest party in Parliament, with 38 seats and a position as Mr. Rutte’s coalition partner. The party was expected to win only nine seats.

In past elections the impact of extremist right-leaning parties has been largely blunted by a political system that for more than a century has resulted in governance by coalition.

This year’s election may give the Netherlands its most fragmented government in history. Some political analysts believe it could take weeks or months to form a government and that the governing coalition will be fragile.

In Belgium, which has a similar political system as the Netherlands, it famously took nearly a year and a half after inconclusive elections in June 2010 to form a government.

I Hope I Am Wrong, But Here Is What President Trump Is Going To Do ‘To’ The Working Class Americans

 

I hope that I am wrong about this belief but I am writing this article, this note, to you today because I don’t think I am wrong. So that you won’t go off on the wrong thought direction I will tell you that I voted for Gary Johnson in the Presidential election last month. I am a registered Independent but that is not the reason I voted for Mr. Johnson. I voted for him because I knew he would not win, you see I just couldn’t get myself to vote for Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton. To me, both of those folks just had too much negative baggage about them in regards to what I believed they would bring to the Presidency for me to be able to vote for them. Mrs. Clinton had a track record of negatives while working in D.C., Mr. Trump had a lot of bad baggage but we the people could at least hope that everything coming out of his mouth wasn’t a lie. Now both of these candidates had some good ideas as does each of their Parties, but they also have some huge negatives.

 

With Mr. Trump after he won the election what I have been looking toward was whom were the people he was going to put into his Cabinet. We now know exactly where Mr. Trump’s mindset is as far as his campaign rhetoric about “making America great again.” Mr. Trump chose a Congressman from South Carolina to oversee the National Budget and how the Government’s  revenues will be spent. He just like the Republican Leadership in the House and the Senate are against Mr. Trump’s plan to rebuild the Nation’s infrastructure which has a preliminary estimate price tag of one trillion dollars. From being an over the road truck driver for thirty plus years I know first hand that this has been needed to be done for at least the past thirty years, of that I have no doubt. His new budget man though says no to this program, unless the Federal Government cuts a trillion dollars in ‘waste’ that it is now spending. The issue though is that to the Republicans ‘waste’ is things like the food stamp program, Social Security retirement and disability programs, Military retirement and VA disability programs, I believe you get the idea. Yet, you know that there is something that I have never once heard these Congressmen, Senators, or former Presidents talk about cutting and that is their lavish ‘amenities’ they are getting right now, or the lavish retirement packages they get when they retire or are voted out of office. Back when “war hero” George H.W.Bush was President he tried to turn over all of the Nation’s road systems to the States so that they could make every road in America a “toll” road. He wanted to do this to lessen the burden on the Federal Government. This has always puzzled me since the Federal Government receives billions of dollars in road use fuel taxes, I have always wondered where all those billions go every year since they are not being spent on the roads and bridges. Yet the biggest “show” of his support for wounded American Veterans was that while he was in Office he tried to save money by cutting the cost of the VA. The issue is, that he wanted to make it to where for a Service Connected Veteran to be able to get care at the VA they had to be a minimum of %50 Service Connected, wait for it, he also was trying to get it to where for a wounded Veteran to get %50 they had to be at the very least a quadriplegic (no working arms or legs). Sorry about being sidetracked there, it just disgusts me how pathetic these pariah can be.

 

Now, back to our current President Elect, Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump has made it no secret that he believes that the Federal minimum wage is too high. This is the reason why he has had and is having everything with his name on it, not counting buildings obviously, he has made in ‘offshore’ countries where slave wages are the norm. Plus these countries do not have the EPA regulations for their companies to worry about. The reality is the richer the people the less they give a flip about the poorest of the poor, it is always all about how much profit they can put into their own pocket. Besides, there are billions of dirt poor starving people, why should they care if billions of them die? You will know that in public statements they will say they do, but in the closed-door boardrooms of these international companies, do you really believe that is their opinion there? Think about it, as soon as a company that is on the open market boards says they are laying off workers, their stock values go up at once. When a company on the Stock Market says they are closing a factory in the U.S. and moving it to Mexico, Honduras, or China, the value of their stock goes up. Even the soon to be ‘First Daughter’ learned this from her Daddy, look at where her products are all made, hint, it’s not in the U.S..

 

Mr. Trump says that he is going to cut the Corporate tax rate from its current %35 to %15 to help stimulate companies profits. He also says he is going to punish companies that move their jobs ‘offshore’ by putting a huge tariff like %35 on all the products they then try to bring back into the States to sell here. As an Independent, I do not have a problem with either of these programs, I believe that Companies need to be strong financially for them to expand and to create new jobs. My issue is that Mr. Trump is very anti-Union and he is in favor of lowering the minimum wage. So, if his policies are designed to cut the welfare programs and put people back to work, are these jobs really actually going to pay a livable wage? Remember, Mr. Trump thinks that the folks at Carrier in Indianapolis are losing their jobs because they are making too much money and that Carrier was needing to move their factories to Mexico because of cheaper wages and benefits there. Mr. Trump has also told the workers in the American Auto Industry that they are making too much money that they need to take pay cuts. Mr. Trump talks about how a former steelworker who lost their job because of unfair labor laws in China and is now flipping burgers knows about the good jobs disappearing here in America. Well, my question to Mr. Trump is if you help bring back the steelworkers job to America but he has to work for 6 or 7 dollars per hour with no benefits, no overtime pay and no OSHA or EPA regulations to help keep them safe and alive how are they any better off than flipping burgers for at McDonald’s or working a register at Wal-Mart?

 

I know this is not going to happen, but here is a solution to some semblance of income equality. Right now there is no cap on how much the top end of a company’s executives can earn, the limits are only on the working class and those limits are put into place by the top end. So, Congress should pass a federal law where there can not be more than a 100 times income difference law on all companies and this would have to include total packages, stocks, bonds, benefits, insurances ect. This is where whatever the lowest paid person in the company makes, no one in the company can make more than 100 times that amount. As I said, it will never happen because it is those same top end folks that bribe the Congressmen and Senators to make sure that it never happens. This is a humanity issue, yes it is an income equality issue also, but for any Country to survive then there must be a vibrant middle class and a system where the lowest end of the financial scale has an honest chance to work their way up into that middle class. If we do not correct the current trends of only the wealthiest being able to afford a humane life style we are seeing the signs now where America is going to fall apart from the inside. By the choices Mr. Trump is making for his Cabinet I don’t believe he gives a flip about the American working class, his picks are showing that he only cares about the top 1/10 of 1%. I believe that to put it in layman’s terms, for the next two years there may begin to be more jobs but they are not likely to be livable wage jobs. The reason I said two years is because if I am correct and this is what happens, in two years the Republicans will lose the House and the Senate and in four years Mr. Trump will go back to his vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

US President Obama says everyone worse off if US-China ties break

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

US President Obama says everyone worse off if US-China ties break

US President Barack Obama said on Friday no other bilateral relationship carries more significance than US-China relationship, and if the US-China relation breaks down, everyone becomes worse off.

“Given the importance of the relation between the United States and China, given how much is at stake, in terms of the world economy, national security… China’s increasing role in international affairs, there’s probably no bilateral relationship that carries more significance,” said Obama here in his final news conference of the year.

“There’s also the potential if that relationship breaks down or goes into a full conflict mode that everybody’s worse off,” he added.

US President-elect Donald Trump early this month received a telephone call from Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen.

After the phone call, the White House reaffirmed it’s firm commitment to one-China policy on several occasions.

It is universally recognized by the international community that there is only one China in the world, and both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has made clear that adherence to one-China policy is the prerequisite for Taiwan to conduct contacts with foreign countries or participate in international activities.

So: Ali Khomeini Says Iran Will Set Israel/Jerusalem And The Persian Gulf A Fire?

 

If there is anyone in the whole world that has a bigger ego that Donald Trump it has got to be ‘The Supreme Leader’ of Iran, Mr. Ayatollah Ali Khomeini. Just think of the ego a title like that has to take? I would be embarrassed if for some reason I became known as the supreme ruler of my family Clan, (I am 1/4 Scottish.) To me, when a person has a huge ego, I have always looked at it as a sign of a lack of maturity because it makes a person look quite small. I have learned from Google that in Arabic the word ‘Ayatollah’ means “a sign of Allah.” I have also learned from Google that only the Shiite use this term because it also basically means a “sign or evidence of Allah” and the Sunni (which are about 80% of the Islamic Faith) do not agree with giving this adulation to humans.

 

During this past week there were several headlines in the newspapers and online where Mr. Khomeini said that if Israel messed with Iran that Iran (in other words he himself as he is the Supreme Leader after all and nothing major happens in Iran without his personal approval) would “set Israel and the Persian Gulf a fire.” Now let’s look at a couple of things that is relevant to these statements of his. I do not know how much each readers know about the Middle-East situation and I do not want anyone to think I am talking down to them yet it is important to put in some basic information for those who aren’t up to date on the issues I will be discussing. So, if you already know most of or all of this information please do not take offence because none is meant.

 

Iran is the most powerful of all of the Nations in the Islamic world who believe in the Shiite version of Islam. Saudi Arabia is the most powerful of all of the Sunni Nations, and they hate each other. Being that Sunni Islam is about 4 times larger in population than the Shi’ite, Iran has become very ‘offensive’ with their military and terrorists organizations around the Persian Gulf and the rest of the World. Iran and Saudi Arabia are currently fighting a proxy war in Yemen which is on the southeast border of the Saudi’s. I know that the Shiites and the Sunni hate each other and have since their religion began about 1,400 years ago, yet they both also hate all of us ‘infidels’, meaning everyone who isn’t them. I think that the ones they hate the most are the Jewish people and then the Christian people and then wild dogs, but I am not positive of the exact order of their hate. That is something that may vary with individual Tribes.

 

So, you see, when the Supreme Ruler talks about destroying the Nation of Israel and the Persian Gulf (meaning the Sunni Nations like Saudi Arabia) the whole world needs to pay attention when this Demon talks. Yes I said Demon, would a man of God really wish to kill a billion or more people? So, either he is crazy, or he is infected with a Demon and in case you are wondering, the Bible does plainly back the reality of Demon possession of humans, think of Legion.

 

Now, for those of you whom do not know the Bible Scriptures very well I would like you to read the 24th Chapter of the Book of Matthew please. In the second verse Jesus (Yeshua) as He and His Apostles had just left the Temple in Jerusalem and the Apostles spoke of how beautiful the Temple and the area was, Yeshua (Jesus) told them that  there would be a time when there would not be one stone left upon another in regards to the Temple. In the rest of the chapter the Lord speaks about a time when the “Abomination of Desolation” (v: 15) which is the Antichrist will stand upon the most Holy Place which is upon the Temple Mount, that the end of times are near. Some people think that this ‘sign’ was when the Romans destroyed the Temple in 72 A.D. but there is one thing that they are not realizing about what the Lord said in verse #2, He said not “one stone” shall be left upon another. Today the only thing left of the Temple is the West Wall or as some call it, the Wailing Wall, but think about it, there are many stones one upon another that makes up the Western Wall. Folks, this time is not yet but I do believe that things are getting close. But obviously I do not know for sure as God’s time is not our time. In the Lord’s time it is said that 80 human years is but the ‘blink of the eye’ to God. So when God says something “is near” it can easily be more than one human lifetime.

 

The true believers of Islam know, as do the true believers of Judaism, as do some Christians know that the three religions do not worship the same God. It is more than a name difference, it is a Deity difference folks. Here in the U.S. it seems that most people whether they call themselves Christians or have no belief in any religion tend to think that all religions are worshiping the same God, if you have very much knowledge of the issue, you know that this is not correct. Islam flat-out rejects the concept of the God’s of “The People of The Book.” Those who have spent many years studying these issues and are not believers of Islam know/believe that Allah whom the worshipers of Islam refer to as “God” is not God at all. We believe that the believers of Islam have been totally misled as we believe/know that “Allah” is actually Satan Himself. Now, what is currently upon the Temple Mount? It is a Throne, a temple to Allah! Iran will have nuclear weapons within 10 years, when will they deploy them? Where do you think they will deploy them?

 

Here is my thoughts, I will explain my thoughts to you, what I want you to do is to think about this issue for yourself. Now let us get back to Iran and their ‘Supreme Ruler’ and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. To me, if a person believes that Ali Khomeini only wants nuclear power to help with domestic needs, I honestly believe such a person is delusional. Second, just yesterday he spoke of creating nuclear power for military ships and submarines. Thirdly, there is only one way that Iran could possibly set all of Israel and the Persian Gulf a fire and that is through nuclear bombs. In my beliefs the only way anyone would do such evil is if they are a total Zealot and or Demonically possessed. Who else would be willing to carry through on attacks that would kill a billion plus people? To me this issue describes the egotistical ‘Supreme Ruler’ right down to his toe fungus.

By feuding with intelligence agencies, Trump is putting the world in harm’s way

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

By feuding with intelligence agencies, Trump is putting the world in harm’s way

COLUMNS Updated: Dec 14, 2016 13:45 IST

Bobby Ghosh
Bobby Ghosh
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story President-elect Donald Trump said he will announce his choice to fill the prized post of secretary of state on December 13, 2016, ending weeks-long speculation over the globally important vacancy. “I will be making my announcement on the next Secretary of State tomorrow morning,” Trump said December 12, using his favored medium, Twitter. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT (AFP)
Going home for the holidays should be an uplifting experience, something to look forward to. But as I pack my bags for my second visit to New York in as many months, I’m in an even gloomier mood than I was the last time. The last time, it was to vote in the presidential election involving two uninspiring candidates. This time, there’s the rebarbative prospect of having to watch, at close quarters, the horror show that is Donald Trump’s transition to the presidency.It’s been frightening enough to observe from a distance. Not only is Trump the least-prepared president-elect in American history, but he compounds this by showing no interest in preparing — if anything, he seems absolutely determined not to prepare — for the most important job in the world. Most worrisome of all is the news that he has been avoiding daily security briefings by the intelligence services. A man so plainly ignorant about the world should be asking for a double dose of briefings, but Trump has decided that he can do without them because… Well, why don’t you hear from the man himself, in this exchange in a TV interview:

INTERVIEWER: I just want to ask you about your skepticism about the intelligence community. You are getting the presidential daily brief only once a week.

TRUMP: Yes. Well, I get it when I need it.

INTERVIEWER: But, if there is some skepticism …

TRUMP: Look, first of all, these are very good people giving me the briefings. And I say if something should change from this point, immediately call me, I’m available on one minute’s notice. I don’t have to be told, you know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing and the same words every single day for the next 8 years. Could be 8 years, but 8 years. I don’t need that.

The sheer absurdity of his attitude is heightened by the third-standard syntax: “I don’t have to be told, you know, I’m, like, a smart person.”

Read: Would love to see Pakistan and India get along: Donald Trump

Worse yet, he has actively undermined his intelligence agencies by suggesting that they are in cahoots with Hillary Clinton, and making excuses for her defeat. (Never mind that Clinton herself attributes her defeat to FBI director Jim Comey’s pre-election statement about her email server.) Trump has dismissed as “ridiculous” a CIA report that Russia actively interfered in the election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee’s servers, and feeding material about Clinton to WikiLeaks. In a statement, he pointed out that the CIA “are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”

He’s right about that, of course, but the CIA has also got plenty of things right, and such blithe dismissal suggests Trump is keen to draw attention away from the report. In any case, it ill behooves a president to display such open contempt of his own intelligence agencies — especially when he has nominated, as his national security advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, an Islamophobe, racist and conspiracy theorist who has frequently clashed with those same agencies. In a world where threats to American interests come from State actors (Russia, China) as well as non-State entities (ISIS, Al Qaeda and sundry terrorist groups), the US can’t afford an open rupture between the intelligence community and the White House.

Read: Trump threat to jail Clinton borrows a dangerous practice from India

Instead of educating himself about the problems of the world, many of which will have a bearing on everything he does as president, Trump has spent a great deal of time using his Twitter account to attack his critics, and pass judgment on Saturday Night Live, a comedy sketch show that lampoons him. He seems to have left most important decisions to his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, an unabashed White-supremacist demagogue. Bannon’s hand is plainly visible in most of the nominations to Trump’s cabinet, from Jeff Sessions (soon to be attorney general, a man who was denied a judgeship because he was found to be too racist) to Andrew Puzder (the next labour secretary, a man who is opposed to minimum wage laws), to Scott Pruitt (a climate-change denier who will be the next head of the environmental protection agency).

Read: The fragile ego and dreams of the US president-elect

Should Indians care about this faraway circus? Yes, absolutely. As I’ve argued in these columns before, any American president who represents a danger to his own country and to the world order also poses a danger to India, which now has a great deal at stake in both. But the threat from a Trump presidency is much more specific than that. For all his claims to “love the Hindu,” the president-elect’s protectionist impulses — he wants to bring jobs back to the US, and to punish American companies that take jobs out — can only be bad for India. At an event in Iowa last week, be made his position perfectly clear: “My administration will follow a simple rule — buy American, hire American… We love our companies, but we don’t love them when they go out of our country.”

Then, sending a chill down the spine of the Indian IT industry, he went on to fulminate against the misuse of the H1-B visa, referring to the specific example of Walt Disney World in Orlando, involving Indians hired on that particular visa. You have to be an incorrigible optimist to harbour any lingering hope that Trump might be good for India. Or you have to believe that, contrary to all evidence, he is… “like, a smart person.”

Bobby Ghosh is editor-in-chief of Hindustan TimesTwitter:[email protected]

Trump Has Already Betrayed The Working Class: He Has Proven He Is A Fraud And A Con

(This Article Is Courtesy Of The Huffington Post)

Trump Has Already Betrayed The Working Class

Donald Trump has betrayed the American working class. He is a fraud and a con.

12/08/2016 01:58 pm ET | Updated 1 hour ago

DREW ANGERER VIA GETTY IMAGES

They voted for him in droves. In a remarkable political shift, the white working class who have seen their wages decline over decades thanks to shameless pandering to Wall Street and big business by both political parties, finally gave up on the Democrats and threw their lot in with billionaire businessman Donald Trump.

Some have tried to argue that the switch didn’t really have to do with economics but the numbers say otherwise. According to CNN exit polling, voters earning under $30K shifted towards Trump by 16 percent. Trump won 79 percent of those who said the economy was poor. Even Trump’s embrace of white nationalism is after all a form of economic protectionism. If you feel there’s a limited pie, then you’ve got a better shot at your slice if you don’t have to compete against those “other” people. With his pick for Labor Secretary though Trump revealed exactly what kind of President he’s going to be for those who had any doubts. Trump is not going to save the working class, he’s going to destroy it.

Meet your next Labor Secretary Andrew Puzder. He is the CEO of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. He thinks to Make America Great Again, we need to pay workers less or ideally, give their jobs to robots. I’m not kidding. In an interview with Business Insider, Puzder explained that he thought getting the workers out of the restaurant biz would be a great thing because robots are:  “…always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”

Oh human beings and their unreasonable desire to earn enough to live AND not be discriminated against. It’s all so inconvenient for corporate CEO’s like Puzder. We should just relegate these service jobs to the dustbin of history the way we already did with so-called “old economy” jobs. You know, the kind that actually allowed you to eat, buy a house, and pay the bills all at the same time. #MAGA.

By choosing Puzder for Labor Secretary, Trump has thrown his lot in with those who view workers as commodities to be used and discarded when they are inconvenient

 Now virtually no one aspires to a fast food job. Folks like Puzder who want to keep wages at their current level of roughly $18K per year like to pretend fast food jobs are just starter jobs for teenagers. I mean, these aren’t the sort of jobs that you are expected to raise a family on, right? Well, this is as much of a fantasy as the idea that Trump is a working class hero. Seventy percent of fast food workers are older than 20. The average age of a fast food worker is 29.

The reason for this is simple: low-paying service jobs are what our economy creates now even as middle class jobs decline. A majority of jobs lost during the Great Recession were middle-income jobs. A majority of those gained were low wage. Food service prep, cashier, and sales clerk are the three most common jobs in the country employing some 10 million plus American workers. If you automate those three jobs, what will replace them? Low-paying service work may not be ideal but it beats the heck out of no jobs at all. People who view the loss of these 10 million jobs as a great thing are the same type of people who drive through the derisively named “Rust Belt” and see “creative destruction” and “progress” instead of destroyed communities and destroyed lives.

Lest you think Puzder’s worker contempt is out of step with Trump’s supposed populism, Trump himself begs to differ. In a typically whiny and petty reaction to criticism, Trump tweeted this week that Carrier’s union workers themselves were responsible for the company deciding to ship jobs overseas.

He tweeted: “If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana. Spend more time working-less time talking. Reduce dues.” Puzder shares Trump’s “blame the worker” mentality and has no sympathy for workers seeking to earn a higher wage. Speaking with Business Insider, he blamed his own push towards automation on wage growth.  In Puzder’s world, it’s not his fault if Hardee’s workers are replaced with robots even though as CEO of the company he is in fact the one making exactly that decision.

Of course, Trump’s working class hero schtick was always a complete sham.

 The fault really lies with all of those high on the hog living workers with their $18K per year incomes and the advocates who would outrageously push to make those wages higher. You will not be surprised to learn then that one of Puzder’s favorite pastimes is penning Wall Street Journal op-eds on why lifting the minimum wage would just be dreadful. Typical line: “Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?” Exactly. So why not get rid of the minimum wage altogether and pay Sally the 50 cents per hour that you apparently think she’s worth?

I’ll tell you why. Because once long ago, we decided as a nation that we valued our workers.  We believed that we would all prosper if American workers earned enough to buy the goods and services they produce. We decided that workers shouldn’t toil for 40 hours a week and still live in poverty. Visionaries like Henry Ford understood this, and FDR, and the labor leaders who fought to birth the great American middle class which used to be the envy of the world. You want to make America great again? Try connecting with that American past.

By choosing Puzder for Labor Secretary, Trump has thrown his lot in with those who view workers as commodities to be used and discarded when they are inconvenient or when those workers become a penny more costly than a touch screen computer. He has thrown his lot in with those who view a future of endless Gilded Age inequality as inevitable. By choosing Andy Puzder as Labor Secretary, Donald Trump has betrayed the American working class. He is a fraud and a con.

Of course, Trump’s working class hero schtick was always a complete sham. The man rails against companies shipping jobs overseas while he makes his own schlocky crap in Mexico and Bangladesh for God’s sake. He stiffs contractors. He buys his steel from China. He illegally busts unions at his gaudy casinos! It is time for those of us who actually care about workers and see them as human beings rather than an expense item on the balance sheet, to stop licking our wounds and start fighting for those who will suffer the most under President Trump.

Pentagon Buries Internal Report Showing 23% Of Their Budget Is Wasted

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.

The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.

The study was produced last year by the Defense Business Board, a federal advisory panel of corporate executives, and consultants from McKinsey and Company. Based on reams of personnel and cost data, their report revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.

The data showed that the Defense Department was paying a staggering number of people — 1,014,000 contractors, civilians and uniformed personnel — to fill back-office jobs far from the front lines. That workforce supports 1.3 million troops on active duty, the fewest since 1940.

The cost-cutting study could find a receptive audience with President-elect Donald Trump. He has promised a major military buildup and said he would pay for it by “eliminating government waste and budget gimmicks.”

For the military, the major allure of the study was that it called for reallocating the $125 billion for troops and weapons. Among other options, the savings could have paid a large portion of the bill to rebuild the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal, or the operating expenses for 50 Army brigades.

But some Pentagon leaders said they fretted that by spotlighting so much waste, the study would undermine their repeated public assertions that years of budget austerity had left the armed forces starved of funds. Instead of providing more money, they said, they worried Congress and the White House might decide to cut deeper.

So the plan was killed. The Pentagon imposed secrecy restrictions on the data making up the study, which ensured no one could replicate the findings. A 77-page summary report that had been made public was removed from a Pentagon website.

“They’re all complaining that they don’t have any money. We proposed a way to save a ton of money,” said Robert “Bobby” L. Stein, a private-equity investor from Jacksonville, Fla., who served as chairman of the Defense Business Board.

Stein, a campaign bundler for President Obama, said the study’s data were “indisputable” and that it was “a travesty” for the Pentagon to suppress the results.

“We’re going to be in peril because we’re spending dollars like it doesn’t matter,” he added.

The missed opportunity to streamline the military bureaucracy could soon have large ramifications. Under the 2011 Budget Control Act, the Pentagon will be forced to stomach $113 billion in automatic cuts over four years unless Congress and Trump can agree on a long-term spending deal by October. Playing a key role in negotiations will probably be Trump’s choice for defense secretary, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis.

The Defense Business Board was ordered to conduct the study by Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work, the Pentagon’s second-highest-ranking official. At first, Work publicly touted the efficiency drive as a top priority and boasted about his idea to recruit corporate experts to lead the way.

After the board finished its analysis, however, Work changed his position. In an interview with The Post, he did not dispute the board’s findings about the size or scope of the bureaucracy. But he dismissed the $125 billion savings proposal as “unrealistic” and said the business executives had failed to grasp basic obstacles to restructuring the public sector.

“There is this meme that we’re some bloated, giant organization,” he said. “Although there is a little bit of truth in that . . . I think it vastly overstates what’s really going on.”

Work said the board fundamentally misunderstood how difficult it is to eliminate federal civil service jobs — members of Congress, he added, love having them in their districts — or to renegotiate defense contracts.

He said the Pentagon is adopting some of the study’s recommendations on a smaller scale and estimated it will save $30 billion by 2020. Many of the programs he cited, however, have been on the drawing board for years or were unrelated to the Defense Business Board’s research.

Work acknowledged that the push to improve business operations lost steam after then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was replaced by Ashton B. Carter in February 2015. Carter has emphasized other goals, such as strengthening the Pentagon’s partnerships with high-tech firms.

“We will never be as efficient as a commercial organization,” Work said. “We’re the largest bureaucracy in the world. There’s going to be some inherent inefficiencies in that.”

‘Dark matter’

Work, a retired Marine officer, became deputy defense secretary in May 2014. With the military budget under the most pressure since the end of the Cold War, he sought help from the Defense Business Board, an advisory panel known for producing management studies that usually gathered dust.

Work told the board that the outcome of this assignment would be different. In a memo, he directed the board to collect sensitive cost data from the military services and defense agencies that would reveal how much they spent on business operations.

Pentagon officials knew their back-office bureaucracy was overstaffed and overfunded. But nobody had ever gathered and analyzed such a comprehensive set of data before.

Some Defense Business Board members warned that exposing the extent of the problem could have unforeseen consequences.

“You are about to turn on the light in a very dark room,” Kenneth Klepper, the former chief executive of Medco Health Solutions, told Work in the summer of 2014, according to two people familiar with the exchange. “All the crap is going to float to the surface and stink the place up.”

“Do it,” Work replied.

To turn on the light, the Pentagon needed more outside expertise. A team of consultants from McKinsey was hired.

In a confidential August 2014 memo, McKinsey noted that while the Defense Department was “the world’s largest corporate enterprise,” it had never “rigorously measured” the “cost-effectiveness, speed, agility or quality” of its business operations.

Nor did the Pentagon have even a remotely accurate idea of what it was paying for those operations, which McKinsey divided into five categories: human resources; health-care management; supply chain and logistics; acquisition and procurement; and financial-flow management.

McKinsey hazarded a guess: anywhere between $75 billion and $100 billion a year, or between 15 and 20 percent of the Pentagon’s annual expenses. “No one REALLY knows,” the memo added.

The mission would be to analyze, for the first time, dozens of databases that tracked civilian and military personnel, and labor costs for defense contractors. The problem was that the databases were in the grip of the armed forces and a multitude of defense agencies. Many had fought to hide the data from outsiders and bureaucratic rivals, according to documents and interviews.

Information on contractor labor, in particular, was so cloaked in mystery that McKinsey described it as “dark matter.”

Prying it loose would require direct orders from Work. Even then, McKinsey consultants predicted the bureaucracy would resist.

“This is a sensitive exercise conducted with audiences both ‘weary’ and ‘wary’ of efficiency, cost, sequestration and budget drills,” the confidential memo stated. “Elements of the culture are masterful at ‘waiting out studies and sponsors,’ with a ‘this too shall pass’ mindset.”

Overstaffed chow hall

From the outset, access to the data was limited to a handful of people. A $2.9 million consulting contract signed by the Pentagon stipulated that none of the data or analysis could be released to the news media or the public.

Moreover, the contract required McKinsey to report to David Tillotson III, the Pentagon’s acting deputy chief management officer. Anytime the Defense Business Board wanted the consultants to carry out a task, Tillotson would have to approve. His office — not the board — would maintain custody of the data.

“Good news!” Work emailed Tillotson once the contract was signed. “Time to cook.”

In an Oct. 15, 2014, memo, Work ordered the board to move quickly, giving it three months to produce “specific and actionable recommendations.”

In a speech the next month, Work lauded the board for its private-sector expertise. He said he had turned it into “an operational arm” of the Pentagon leadership and predicted the study would deliver transformational results.

In an aside, he revealed that early findings had determined the average administrative job at the Pentagon was costing taxpayers more than $200,000, including salary and benefits.

“And you say, hmmm, we could probably do better than that,” he said.

The initial results did not come as a surprise.

Former defense secretaries William S. Cohen, Robert M. Gates and Chuck Hagel had launched similar efficiency drives in 1997, 2010 and 2013, respectively. But each of the leaders left the Pentagon before their revisions could take root.

“Because we turn over our secretaries and deputy secretaries so often, the bureaucracy just waits things out,” said Dov Zakheim, who served as Pentagon comptroller under President George W. Bush. “You can’t do it at the tail end of an administration. It’s not going to work. Either you leave the starting block with a very clear program, or you’re not going to get it done.”

Arnold Punaro, a retired Marine general and former staff director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, said lawmakers block even modest attempts to downsize the Pentagon’s workforce because they do not want to lose jobs in their districts.

Without backing from Congress, “you can’t even get rid of the guy serving butter in the chow hall in a local district, much less tens of thousands of jobs,” he said.

‘Time to hunt!’

The Defense Business Board assigned five members to conduct the study alongside consultants from McKinsey. Scott Rutherford, senior partner at McKinsey’s Washington office, declined to comment.

The team ran into resistance as several Pentagon offices delayed requests for data, according to emails and memos. Work and Tillotson had to intervene to get the data flowing. At one point, more than 100 people were feeding data from different sectors of the bureaucracy.

Laboring under its tight deadline, the team hashed out an agreement with Pentagon officials over which job classifications to count in their survey. The board added a sixth category of business operations — real property management. That alone covered 192,000 jobs and annual expenses of $22.6 billion.

On Christmas Eve, Klepper emailed Work and Tillotson to thank them for putting their muscle behind the project. Without it, he said, “this would all have been DOA and the naysayers would all have been right.”

He hinted the board would make some eye-catching recommendations and expressed relief its work had not been torpedoed.

“I have to admit, with all the caution, negative reaction and pushback,” Klepper said, “I had a bit of concern at the end of the analysis some form of censorship would stop us from showing the true opportunity.”

Work replied that he could not be happier.

“Time to hunt!” he said in an email, adding that he was “very excited about 2015” and ready to make “some bold moves.”

The year kicked off with promise. On Jan. 21, 2015, the Pentagon announced Stein, the private-equity investor, had been reappointed as the board’s chairman and praised him for his “outstanding service.”

The next day, the full board held its quarterly public meeting to review the results of the study. The report had a dry title, “Transforming DoD’s Core Business Processes for Revolutionary Change,” and was packed with charts and jargon. But it began plainly enough.

“We are spending a lot more money than we thought,” the report stated. It then broke down how the Defense Department was spending $134 billion a year on business operations — about 50 percent more than McKinsey had guessed at the outset.

Almost half of the Pentagon’s back-office personnel — 457,000 full-time employees — were assigned to logistics or supply-chain jobs. That alone exceeded the size of United Parcel Service’s global workforce.

The Pentagon’s purchasing bureaucracy counted 207,000 full-time workers. By itself, that would rank among the top 30 private employers in the United States.

More than 192,000 people worked in property management. About 84,000 people held human-resources jobs.

The study laid out a range of options. At the low end, just by renegotiating service contracts and hiring less-expensive workers, the Pentagon could save $75 billion over five years. At the high end, by adopting more aggressive productivity targets, it could save twice as much.

After a discussion, the full board voted to recommend a middle option: to save $125 billion over five years.

Hordes of contractors

Afterward, board members briefed Work. They were expecting an enthusiastic response, but the deputy defense secretary looked uneasy, according to two people who were present.

He singled out a page in the report. Titled “Warfighter Currency,” it showed how saving $125 billion could be redirected to boost combat power. The money could cover the operational costs for 50 Army brigades, or 3,000 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for the Air Force, or 10 aircraft-carrier strike groups for the Navy.

“This is what scares me,” he said, according to the two people present. Work explained he was worried Congress might see it as an invitation to strip $125 billion from the defense budget and spend it somewhere else.

A few weeks later, Carter replaced Hagel as defense secretary. Carter sounded as though he would welcome the kind of revolutionary change the board was urging.

“To win support from our fellow citizens for the resources we need, we must show that we can make better use of every taxpayer dollar,” Carter said in an inaugural message in February 2015. “That means a leaner organization, less overhead, and reforming our business and acquisition practices.”

In briefings that month, uniformed military leaders were receptive at first. They had long groused that the Pentagon wasted money on a layer of defense bureaucracies — known as the Fourth Estate — that were outside the control of the Army, Air Force and Navy. Military officials often felt those agencies performed duplicative services and oversight.

But the McKinsey consultants had also collected data that exposed how the military services themselves were spending princely sums to hire hordes of defense contractors.

For example, the Army employed 199,661 full-time contractors, according to a confidential McKinsey report obtained by The Post. That alone exceeded the combined civil workforce for the Departments of State, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development.

The average cost to the Army for each contractor that year: $189,188, including salary, benefits and other expenses.

The Navy was not much better. It had 197,093 contractors on its payroll. On average, each cost $170,865.

In comparison, the Air Force had 122,470 contractors. Each cost, on average, $186,142.

Taking fire

Meantime, the backlash to the $125 billion savings plan intensified.

On Feb. 6, 2015, board members briefed Frank Kendall III, the Pentagon’s chief weapons-buyer. Kendall’s operations were a major target of the study; he oversaw an empire of purchasing agents and contractors that were constantly under attack from Congress for cost overruns and delays.

Kendall put up a stiff fight. He challenged the board’s data and strenuously objected to the conclusion that his offices were overstaffed.

“Are you trying to tell me we don’t know how to do our job?” he said, according to two participants in the meeting. He said he needed to hire 1,000 more people to work directly under him, not fewer.

“If you don’t believe me, call in an auditor,” replied Klepper, the board’s restructuring expert. “They’ll tell you it’s even worse than this.”

In an interview, Kendall acknowledged he was “very disappointed” by the board’s work, which he criticized as “shallow” and “very low on content.” He said the study had ignored efforts by his agencies to become more efficient, and he accused the board of plucking the $125 billion figure out of thin air.

“It was essentially a ballpark, made-up number,” he said.

Still, Kendall knew that lawmakers might view the study as credible. Alarmed, he said, he went to Work and warned that the findings could “be used as a weapon” against the Pentagon.

“If the impression that’s created is that we’ve got a bunch of money lying around and we’re being lazy and we’re not doing anything to save money, then it’s harder to justify getting budgets that we need,” Kendall said.

More ominously, board members said they started to get the silent treatment from the Pentagon’s highest ranks.

Briefings that had been scheduled for military leaders in the Tank — the secure conference room for the Joint Chiefs of Staff — were canceled. Worse, the board was unable to secure an audience with Carter, the new defense secretary.

Stein, the board chairman, accused Carter of deliberately derailing the plan through inaction. “Unfortunately, Ash — for reasons of his own — stopped this,” he said in an interview.

Peter Cook, a spokesman for Carter, said the Pentagon chief was busy dealing with “a long list of national security challenges.” He added that Work and other senior officials had already “concluded that the report, while well-intentioned, had limited value.”

The fatal blow was struck in April. Just three months after Stein had been reappointed as board chairman, Carter replaced him with Michael Bayer, a business consultant who had previously served on the panel and clashed with Stein. Bayer declined to comment.

A few weeks later, Klepper resigned from the board. The $125 billion savings plan was dead.

In an interview, Tillotson, the Pentagon’s acting deputy chief management officer, called the board’s recommendations too ambitious and aggressive. “They, perhaps, underestimated the degree of difficulty we have in doing something that in the commercial sector would seem to be very easy to do.”

Yet he acknowledged that its overall strategy for scaling back the bureaucracy was sound and that, given more time, it would be possible to realize huge savings.

“If we had a longer timeline, yes, it would be a reasonable approach,” he said. “You might get there eventually.”

Ending the debate

Frustration, however, persisted in some corners over the Pentagon’s unwillingness to tackle the inefficiency and waste documented by the study.

On June 2, 2015, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus delivered a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. He complained that 20 percent of the defense budget went to the Fourth Estate — the defense agencies that provide support to the armed forces — and called it “pure overhead.”

He singled out the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Logistics Agency, which together employ about 40,000 people, as egregious examples.

When a reporter in the audience asked whether he thought the agencies should be abolished, Mabus resisted the temptation to say yes.

“Nice try on getting me into deep trouble,” he replied.

But trouble arrived in Mabus’s email the next day.

“Ray, before you publicly trash one of the agencies that reports through me I’d really appreciate a chance to discuss it with you,” wrote Kendall, the Pentagon’s chief weapons-buyer, whose management portfolio included the Defense Logistics Agency.

He said that if Mabus had a complaint, he should raise it directly with their mutual bosses, Carter and Work, and copied the email to both.

In his interview with The Post, Kendall said he was “completely blindsided” by the Navy secretary’s criticism, “so I sent him what I thought under the circumstances was a pretty polite note.”

Mabus did not back down. In an emailed retort to Kendall, he referred to the ill-fated Defense Business Board study.

“I did not say anything yesterday that I have not said both publicly . . . and privately inside this building,” he said. “There have been numerous studies, which I am sure you are aware of, pointing out excessive overhead.”

That prompted a stern intervention from Work.

“Ray, please refrain from taking any more public pot shots,” Work said in an email. “I do not want this spilling over into further public discourse.”

Evelyn Duffy contributed to this report.

President Obama Blocks Chinese Takeover of Aixtron As U.S. Security Risk

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

Obama Blocks Chinese Takeover of Aixtron As U.S. Security Risk

December 2, 2016 — 5:01 PM EST
  • Military uses of Aixtron technology trigger White House order
  • National security panel recommended stopping transaction

U.S. President Barack Obama blocked a Chinese company from buying Germany’s Aixtron SE, marking only the third time in more than a quarter century that the White House has rejected an overseas buyer as a national security risk.

The president upheld a recommendation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. that the sale of the semiconductor-equipment supplier to Grand Chip Investment GmbH should be stopped, according to a statement Friday by the Treasury Department.

“The national security risk posed by the transaction relates, among other things, to the military applications of the overall technical body of knowledge and experience of Aixtron,” according to the statement.

Blocking the 670 million euro ($715 million) acquisition frustrates China’s ongoing quest to buy Western engineering prowess, which has sparked political concerns about foreign ownership both in Europe and the U.S. China is particularly intent on developing its own semiconductor production to lessen its dependence on foreign technology.

CFIUS reviews purchases of U.S. companies by foreign buyers and pays particular attention to purchases of technology with defense applications. It has a say in the Aixtron deal because the company has a subsidiary in California and employs about 100 people in the U.S., where it generates about 20 percent of its sales.

Read more: China’s splurge on overseas M&A

Aixtron technology can be used to produce products including light-emitting diodes, lasers and solar cells, and can have military applications in satellite communications and radar. Northrop Grumman Corp., a major U.S. defense contractor, is among its customers, according to a Bloomberg supply chain analysis.

Grand Chip is a special purpose investment owned by investors in China, some of whom have Chinese government ownership, according to the Treasury statement. The proposed acquisition was to be funded in part by Sino IC Leasing Co. Ltd., which belongs to an industrial investment fund established by the Chinese government to develop the country’s integrated circuit industry, Treasury said.

“It will be extremely difficult for China’s state-owned enterprises to do deals in the semiconductor industry looking forward,” said He Weiwen, deputy director at the Center for China and Globalization. “It definitely posts a negative impact on China-U.S. relations, but the damage is limited.”

U.S.-China Relations

The decision comes at a crucial moment for U.S.-China relations. President-elect Donald Trump has accused China of carrying out unfair trade practices that hurt U.S. workers and said he’d impose tariffs on Chinese goods. Meanwhile, Chinese foreign direct investment in America reached a record $15.3 billion in 2015, according to Rhodium Group.

“A normal commercial acquisition deal should be considered using commercial standards and market principles,” Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Beijing after Bloomberg News reported Thursday that the president was poised to block the deal. “We don’t want the outside world to over-interpret this commercial activity from a political angle nor to add political interference.”

Notable investments by Chinese companies include the purchase of Smithfield Foods Inc. by WH Group Ltd. in 2013 and China National Chemical Corp.’s bid for Syngenta AG, which CFIUS cleared in August.

Security Risks

This marks the second time Obama has blocked a deal on national security grounds. The first was in 2012 when he stopped Chinese-owned Ralls Corp. from developing a wind farm near a Navy base in Oregon. Before that, in 1990 then-President George H.W. Bush stopped a Chinese acquisition of MAMCO Manufacturing Inc., an aircraft-parts maker.

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said last month in a report to Congress that CFIUS should be authorized to stop Chinese state-owned enterprises from acquiring U.S. companies, saying Beijing uses the firms as “a tool to pursue social, industrial and foreign policy objectives.”

CFIUS determined Aixtron’s sale to Grand Chip, announced in May, raised unresolved national security concerns and should be abandoned, Aixtron said Nov. 18. Aixtron and Grand Chip rejected that position and planned to continue negotiations with the government, according to the statement. By law, the U.S. president has 15 days to decide on a CFIUS matter after the panel completes its investigation and must issue an executive order to block a deal.When a deal raises security risks, the companies can try to negotiate conditions to resolve government concerns, such as a requirement that only U.S. citizens handle certain products and services. When CFIUS concerns can’t be resolved the sale is often abandoned rather than going to the president for a formal rejection. The Treasury Department said the Aixtron purchase couldn’t be resolved through mitigation.

Before it’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg Terminal.

How Will Iran’s Ali Khamenei And President Donald Trump Deal With Each Other?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST/WORLD POST)

How Will Khamenei And Trump Deal With Each Other?

12/02/2016 09:44 am ET

During his campaign for presidency and afterwards, President-Elect Donald Trump has expressed his opposition to military intervention in other countries, as well as nation building such as, for example, what happened in Afghanistan. On January 20 Trump will begin his term as the president. He believes that the main threat in the Middle East is the Daesh (also known as the ISIS or ISIL), not the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and that in order to destroy Daesh, his administration will be willing to work with Russia and other nations. The Guardian recently reported that Donald Trump, Jr., recently met in Paris with Randa Kassis, a pro-Syrian government activist who believes that the war in Syria can be ended through cooperation between the U.S., Russia and the Syrian Government. Trump also met with Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D. Hawaii) who is strongly against U.S. intervention in Syria.

But, although Iran has been fighting the Daesh fiercely, both in Syria and in Iraq, Trump has taken a hard-line toward that country, with members of the national security team that he has picked so far all being strongly anti-Iran.

On the other hand, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei missed a golden opportunity to resolve most, if not all, issues between Iran and the United States with the Obama administration, and to re-establish diplomatic relations between the two countries. Thus, he now has to wait to see what policy the incoming Trump administration will take toward Iran.

Khamenei’s strong suspicion of the United States

Iran’s recent history was reset when the CIA coup of 1953 in Iran that toppled the democratically elected government of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, and contributed to Iran’s intellectuals’ opposition to both the United States and the regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. This anti-American third-world discourse was born in that era, and a tall and strong wall of distrust and suspicion was built between the two countries with the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the Hostage Crisis of 1979-1981, and the Iran-Iraq of 1980-1988 during which the United States supported Iraq.

President Obama wanted to pursue diplomatic negotiations with Iran to resolve the issues between the two nations but, aside from the nuclear negotiations, Khamenei’s strong suspicion about the U.S. intentions and his claim that the U.S. is interested only in deceiving Iran prevented a diplomatic breakthrough. In a speech on 20 October Khamenei said,

“When the Americans get together with our officials, they complain about my suspicion about the U.S. Well, should I be optimistic? Can one trust you [the U.S.], given the situation that you have created [in the Middle East]?” To back up his claim he recalled that Secretary of State John Kerry had said that so long as Iran supports the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian group Hamas, the American sanctions against Iran will not end. Khamenei also said, “In my private and public meetings with the officials I have always repeated that our problems with the U.S. will not be resolved if we retreat from our position regarding Iran’s nuclear program, because then they [the U.S.] will ask us about our long-range missiles. After that they will ask about our support for Hezbollah and Hamas. They will then pressure us to support human rights the way they do. If you back down about all of these and accept what they demand, the U.S. will ask why our religion is mixed with our government. They [may even] ask us why Iran is such a large country with a large population. The Americans will never let us alone.”


Trump “Confirms” Khamenei’s Pessimism about the U.S.

In another speech on November 3 Khamenei said,

“I want to correct two mistakes today. The Americans created two erroneous claims and then propagated them among Iranians through their organizations and those Iranians that are linked to the CIA – the same people ‘who feel the scent of the pleasures of this world; who regret their [revolutionary] past, and those who have run out of breath [and can no longer continue on the revolutionary path]’. Imam Khomeini said “scream all you can at the U.S.” The first erroneous claim by the pro-U.S. Iranians is that they say that this [what Khomeini suggested] is not rational, and is only due to fanaticism and pride. The second mistake, which is even more dangerous than the first one, is that they [the same Iranians] claim that having [diplomatic] relations with the U.S. will solve all of all problems. One can counter their argument with 10-15 reasons to show that, not only will compromise with the U.S. not solve our problems, but it will also worsen them. A good example is the nuclear agreement [with P5+1]. Through lies, bad faith, and deception U.S. has not ended its sanctions against Iran, and [in fact] it has strengthened them.”

Khamenei then said that the U.S. cannot solve its own problems and, therefore, cannot be expected to solve Iran’s problems. He then recalled the presidential debates between Trump and Hillary Clinton and said,

“Did you watch the debates? Did you see the facts they [the candidates] talked about. Did you hear them? Americans themselves made the revelations. The things that we have been saying [about the problems that the U.S. is facing], and much more, which many people did not believe, were revealed by them [Trump and Clinton]. The interesting thing is that the candidate who expressed them more bluntly [Trump] also received more attention. Because that man spoke more clearly, more bluntly, he received more attention. The other side [Clinton] said that this is populism, it is demagogic. Why is it demagogic? The [American] people listened to him [Trump] and realized that he was right; they had experienced those facts [expressed by Trump] in their own lives. Human rights and dignity have been destroyed in that country [U.S.]. There is racism. Just a few days ago the same man [Trump] said that if you are people of color, if you are black or red [American-Indian] and are walking in streets of New York, Chicago, Washington, California, or elsewhere, you cannot be sure that you will be alive even for a few more minutes. You see, this was said by someone who may go to the White House as the next President of the United States to run that country. This is American racism. He [Trump] also spoke about poverty in the United States. He said that 44 million people go hungry every day in the U.S. He declared, as have others, that less than 1 percent of the Americans owe more than 90 percent of the wealth. Human values have been destroyed there. Discrimination, deep [economic] gaps, rift among people, racism, and violation of human rights [all exist in the U.S.]….. What the two respected candidates for the Presidency of the United States, one of whom will be the next President, are saying is not baseless. They both are bad, but together they are making revelations that may destroy the United States, and they have succeeded.”

Khamenei then explained that when people shout “death to America” and “scream as much as you can at America,” they mean death to racism, discrimination and violation of human rights.

Khamenei has been warning about two issues. One is U.S. “penetrating” and gaining “influence” in the main centers of decision-making in the Islamic Republic, while the second one is what he calls the danger of senior officials becoming “infatuated” by the United States. In a speech on 17 November Khamenei claimed that some senior Iranian officials are attracted to the U.S., but he believes that the U.S. has nothing attractive to offer. “You saw that the same criticisms that I have been levelling at them [the U.S.] were brought up by Trump,” Khamenei said, adding,

“In these [American] elections several of the most prominent political figures talked about issues that we had also talked about, and said much more. The new President of the United States says that if we had spent the funds that we spent on wars here in the United Stated, we could have rebuilt the country twice over, and fixed all the roads, bridges, and cities, and we would not have had poverty in the United States. Those that are infatuated with an illusion [the U.S.], can they understand this? There is so much failure and destruction [in the U.S.] and they spend all that money on dishonorable wars. Were those wars honorable?”

Khamenei then pointed out that a defensive war against the enemy, while respecting humane laws of war, is honorable. But, he believes that “the U.S. wars of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen that have murdered tens of thousands of civilian people, particularly women and children, are dishonorable.” He then asked in the same speech, “Why does Iranian elite not have the political wisdom [to understand this] and admit them?”


Not Pre-judging Trump, but Threatening to Retaliate if He Violates the Nuclear Accord

In his speech of 17 November Khamenei said that he does not want to prejudge Trump, but “we are ready for anything.” A week later on 24 November he repeated that he does not want to prejudge Trump, because [as a Persian proverb goes] “this watermelon has not been cut yet.” But, he claimed that the Obama administration did not deliver on its promises and obligations toward the nuclear agreement, but that, “The U.S. Congress renewed the U.S. sanctions against Iran for another 10 years, which is a violation of the nuclear agreement,” adding, “If the [Congress-approved] sanctions become law, it will definitely violate the nuclear agreement, and they should know that the Islamic Republic of Iran will react to it.” He then added that the U.S. has used the nuclear agreement as a tool to pressure Iran. President Hassan Rouhani had promised that the sanctions will be lifted if a nuclear agreement is reached, but, “The nuclear compromise has been used against Iran,” Khamenei said, adding, “If the Congress-approved sanctions are also approved by the Senate and become law, it will imply that the United States has violated the nuclear agreement, and the deal with P5+1 will become one with P4+1, as the United States has effectively left the agreement behind.”

Trump and Iran

Although Trump has professed his opposition to many wars multiple times, his national security team has three characteristics:

One, some of them are close to the Tea Party and the Evangelical Christians. Mike Pompeo, who is to be Director of the CIA, said in 2014, “This threat to America” is from a minority of Muslims “who deeply believe that Islam is the way and the light and the only answer. They abhor Christians, and will continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ is our savior is truly the only solution for our world.”

Two, they are strongly linked with the pro-Israel right wingers. Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Colin Powell when he was Secretary of States, and a strong critic of the U.S. policy toward the Middle East, said recently that if the U.S. moves its embassy to Jerusalem [as Trump has promised], a war with Iran will become more likely.

Three, they have strong connections with the military-industrial complex and many private security and intelligence firms. Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, has an intelligence consulting and lobbying firm. He is strongly anti-Iranand has claimed repeatedly that Iran is more dangerous than Daesh. He has also said that Islam is like a “cancer” that “has to be excised from every Muslim.” Interestingly, since Trump electoral victory, the value of the stocks of military firms has gone up dramatically.

Given these facts, and Trump’s lack of experience, there is considerable concern about his foreign policy. But, the situation for Iran is more critical. Marine General James Mattis, who is said to be the leading candidate for running the Pentagon, has claimed that Iran uses Daesh to expand its influence. The leading candidates for Secretary of State – Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton and Mitt Romney, are all strongly anti-Iran, and have called for “regime change” in Iran. In 2015 Giuliani called for bombing of Iran.

If during his first few months in office Trump takes on an aggressive posture toward Iran, it will hurt the re-election chances of Iran’s moderate President Hassan Rouhani, the elections for which will be in early June 2017. IN that case, hardliners may defeat Rouhani in the elections. Khamenei and the military hardliners have been constantly reminding Rouhani that the nuclear agreement with P5+1 has had no fruits for Iran, other than forcing it to retreat from its positions. Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, said on 26 November that, “[Although] there is no longer any sanctions against selling oil, we still have not received the proceeds from our previous sales. Senior officials had predicted that we would receive them between February and September, but that has not happened yet.” In a speech on 27 November Khamenei criticized the Rouhani administration for the nuclear negotiations “that was done in haste,” allowing the U.S. to gain some influence. He emphasized again that the renewal of the ten-year sanctions by Congress will be a violation of the nuclear accord.

What is Trump’s policy toward Iran? Will he try to resolve the issues between the U.S. and Iran through diplomacy, or will he follow those who present a demonic image of Iran? Wil he eliminate all those who favor negotiations with Iran, and empower those who want war with that nation?

To have peace and democracy, there is no way other than negotiations. U.S. wars in the Middle East have resulted in destruction of several nations, killing of hundreds of thousands of people, and the growth of terrorist groups, not to mention its financial cost that has so far been $3 – 4 billion. It is time for diplomacy in the Middle East. Without peace and security there can never be any democracy, respect for human rights, and economic developments; they will all be marginalized. Any thinking person knows that there are deep differences between an Iran that can make a transition to democracy and respect for human rights, and an Iran that can be transformed to another Syria.

This article was translated by Ali N. Babaei