Category Archives: Politics

US Initiates Largest US-South Korean Aerial Drill in History

US stealth fighters arrived in South Korea to launch what is being billed as the “largest US-South Korean aerial drill in history,” set to begin on Monday. The drill, dubbed “Vigilant Ace” aggravated the already explosive nature of the US-North Korean non-relationship, prompting a message from North Korean foreign ministry verging on the hysterical, which said that the US has “nuclear war mania” and that President Donald Trump is “begging for nuclear war.”

The weekend saw several announcements issued from North Korea. The dictatorship’s foreign ministry read a statement on state television that said that the US president and his administration are “begging for nuclear war” by engaging in what is an “extremely dangerous nuclear gamble,” according to CNN.

The foreign ministry also said that if nuclear war did emerge on the Korean peninsula and the rest of the world, that the US would be “fully responsible” because of its “reckless nuclear war mania.”

Later North Korean state TV said in a commentary that the joint US-South Korea joint air exercises are a “dangerous provocation” which will “push the region “to the brink of a nuclear war,” also reported by CNN.

HR McMaster, the White House national security advisor, agrees that tension in the region are rising, and the chances for a nuclear war are also growing.

“I think it’s increasing every day, which means that we are in a race, really, we are in a race to be able to solve this problem,” McMaster said in a conference in California.

McMaster added that he believes North Korea is the “greatest immediate threat to the United States” at the moment.

Congress Suing Trump Over Foreign Gifts and Payments

Official portrait of U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Close to 200 lawmakers have filed suit alleging that President Donald Trump is violating what is called the emoluments clause of the US Constitution. The suit was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia early on Wednesday, June 14.

The plaintiffs argue that they have standing to sue the President since the clause states that only Congress has the ability to approve payments and gifts the president receives.
“The framers gave Congress a unique role, a unique right and responsibility,” said Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut one of the organizers of the lawsuit.

Before taking office Trump bequeathed control of his assets to his two grown sons and a senior executive, but he did not divest from his holdings in any way. Therefore, there is a real possibility that he will gain financial benefit from the profits of the Trump Organization, and that will include foreign governments.

This third such suit also states that no one can discover the full extent to which the Trump Organization benefits from these payments since the president has never released his tax returns.

The first of the two previous lawsuits over the emoluments clause was only a few days after Trump’s inauguration in January; filed by a liberal-funded government watchdog group. Two co-plaintiffs joined the suit later; a restaurant group and two individuals in the hotel industry. The second suit was filed earlier this week by two Democratic lawyers with a similar claim.

The Justice Department and Trump stated that these are baseless lawsuits: the clause does not include normal business transactions such as hotel payments or real estate deals.
Michigan Democratic Representative John Conyers said that together with Blumenthal they organized “greatest number of congressional plaintiffs on any lawsuit against a president.” He added that they’re taking the action “not out of any sense of pleasure or partisanship but because President Trump has left us with no other option.”

Defying Trump, Business Leaders Say They Will Stay in Paris Accord

President Donald Trump’s announcement that he will be moving the United States away from strict compliance with the Paris climate change accords shocked many in the business community, not just green activists.  Some of the country’s most respected business leaders were strong in their condemnation of Trump’s decision.

These leaders are not tree-huggers in disguise. Yes, many do see climate change for what it is, a threat to the future well-being of the entire planet, whether you live in Paris or Pittsburgh. But it is not this threat, which is many years in the future, that is rallying businessmen against Trump’s position on the Paris accords. It is pure and simple economics.

The majority of businessmen, not just in the United States, but around the world, agree that taking a realistic view on climate change and developing technologies and other problem solving methods are actually economic stimulants.

On May 10, with the (misplaced) hope that they could influence the President, 30 CEOs took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, publishing an open letter to Trump whose opening sentence says, “We are writing to express our strong support for the U.S. remaining in the Paris Climate Agreement.”

The letter was signed by the CEOs of the following major US companies:

  • 3M Company
  • Allianz SE
  • Bank of America Corp.
  • BROAD Group
  • Campbell Soup Company
  • Cargill Inc.
  • Citigroup Inc.
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Corning Incorporated
  • Cummins Inc.
  • Dana Incorporated
  • The Dow Chemical Company
  • E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company
  • General Electric
  • The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
  • Harris Corporation
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Kering
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Newell Brands Inc.
  • Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  • Procter & Gamble Company
  • Royal DSM
  • Salesforce
  • Solvay
  • Tesla Inc.
  • Unilever
  • Virgin Group
  • The Walt Disney Company

This is just the list of companies that participated in the WSJ ad. There are more companies that agree with their position, including the CEO of Exxon.

Only two other major carbon producing countries refrained from signing the Paris Accord, Nicaragua and Syria. As one commentator put it:

“The U.S. cannot lead the world in any dimension if it abdicates responsibility and leadership for the greatest challenge facing humanity.”

Latest Trump Treasury Nominees

U.S. President Donald Trump recently announced nominees for the Treasury Department.  The nominees are managing directors, bankers and investment executives.  To date, some of the senior economic positions are held by former Goldman Sachs executives, Gary Cohn (National Economic Council Director) and Steven Mnuchin (Treasury Secretary).

One of the recent nominees for Deputy Treasury Secretary is Goldman Sachs banker Jim Donovan. He has been at Goldman Sachs since 1993 and has worked in a variety of fiscal strategic areas such as corporate strategy, investment banking and management. As the Deputy Treasury Secretary, James Donovan will work in Trump’s domestic policy agenda at the Treasury Department.

Another global investment bank executive, David Malpass, was also nominated to the Department, as Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs.  He has worked in two previous administrations for George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. He was Chief Economist at Bear Stearns and was Trump’s economic advisor during his Presidential campaign.

Another nominee is Sigal Mandelker, who is being nominated as Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.  Like Donovan and Malpass, Mandelker also brings to the post legal experience.  He was once Clarence Thomas’ law clerk and he then worked at the Department of Justice in various roles.  During the George W. Bush administration, Mandelker advised the Secretary of Homeland Security as well.