Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Should Trump Have the Power to Take Us to War?

Tensions between Iran and the United States are growing thanks to President Trump. But does Trump have the ability to take us to war?

Only Congress can authorize a war. It’s right there in the Constitution. It requires a majority vote of both the House and the Senate to authorize war, and any war that is not authorized by Congress is illegal. The president does not have the power to start a war; that power is exclusively given to Congress. The Founders did this because they did not want any president to ever acquire the king-like power of war-making: they believed it was too much power in the hands of one person, and thus could lead to disaster.

If Donald Trump tries to take us into war with Iran, Congress and massive public opinion must stop him. Call your member of the House and both your senators today.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Raw Politics In Full: Brexit Disconnect

Tesa Arcilla is joined by politicians and journalists to discuss the major political issues that are defining and dividing Europe today.

Full Interview: Edward Snowden On Trump, Privacy, And Threats To Democracy | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

Watch the interview here »

How Dangerous Is Chlorinated Chicken?

Listen to the podcast
here »

Bettel's Anger Highlights a Bleak Truth: The EU27 Just Wants Britain to Go

THE GUARDIAN: Luxembourg PM’s exasperation is shared by EU officials and national leaders

It was, by any standards, an unusual spectacle: the leader of the European Union’s second-smallest country deciding to empty-chair the British prime minister at what was supposed to have been a joint press conference after their meeting.

Ostensibly, logistics were the problem: No 10 was concerned by the small but very noisy protest awaiting Boris Johnson outside; Luxembourg government officials said there was no room big enough to move the event inside.

Whatever the reason, the press conference that Xavier Bettel ended up giving alone – gesturing to the lectern where his counterpart should have stood – served as a striking symbol of EU leaders’ mounting frustration with the Brexit process.

The Luxembourg prime minister did not hold back. The leave campaign had been built on lies, he said. Johnson’s oft-repeated claims of progress in the talks were baseless. London had come up with nothing to replace the backstop.

Above all, the UK – not the EU – was to blame for the impasse. “I just want to repeat and remind that Theresa May accepted the withdrawal agreement,” he said. Britain’s “homemade” problems were causing “general problems” for the whole of the EU. » | Jon Henley | Monday, September 16, 2019

Xavier Bettel on Brexit, mocks Boris Johnson »

Monday, September 16, 2019

Incredible Sulk Morphs from Green to Yellow as He Is Bested by Bettel

THE GUARDIAN: PM implodes under weight of his own narcissism as Luxembourg leader lets rip

Exit the Incredible Sulk. It was bad enough getting owned on Twitter by the actor who played the Incredible Hulk – comparing yourself to a comic book hero with anger management issues was always asking for trouble when you’ve got form with the Camberwell police. Classic Dom.

But Boris Johnson’s day just got a whole lot worse when he was completely owned by about 50 unthreatening protesters – this was Luxembourg, where crime waves are measured in the number of people not paying parking fines – and Xavier Bettel, the country’s prime minister.

Faced with a handful of people shouting: “We don’t like you very much,” Johnson imploded under the weight of his own narcissism. The Incredible Bulk morphed from green to yellow and fled sobbing indoors. He’d been in some tricky situations before where the future of the world had been at risk from super-soldiers powered by gamma radiation. But nothing as dangerous as this.

He begged Bettel to move their joint press conference somewhere less noisy. Preferably somewhere no one would ask him any difficult questions. Bettel demurred. The lecterns were set up, the journalists were in place and he’d go ahead without him. Johnson was about to be humiliated by the second smallest country in the EU. Taking back control by losing control. Classic Dom. » | Johnn Crace | Monday, September 16, 2019

Will the Attacks on Saudi Oil Facilities Cripple Global Supplies? | Inside Story

Oil prices soar as Saudi Arabia tries to reassure market.

Saudi Arabia is trying to reassure the world that it will quickly recover from Saturday's attacks on its oil plants. However, the reassurance failed to stop oil prices soaring 19 percent - their highest-ever increase in a day.

Prices have since eased, but concerns remain about the 50 percent cut for the world's biggest crude exporter.

Houthi fighters in Yemen are vowing more attacks to cripple the Saudi economy. President Donald Trump warned that the US is 'locked and loaded' to respond, and ready to release emergency oil reserves if needed.

Will the attack force us to rethink our reliance on oil?

Presenter: Hashem Ahelbarra | Guests: Jawad Anani - Former Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan; Cornelia Meyer - Oil and gas specialist, Meyer Resources financial advisory firm; Bill Law - Journalist and Gulf affairs analyst

Johnson Humiliated by Luxembourg PM at 'Empty Chair' Press Conference

THE GUARDIAN: Xavier Bettel gesticulates at empty podium as British PM skips press conference amid loud protests

Boris Johnson has been left humiliated after being forced by anti-Brexit protesters to cancel an appearance at a press conference, leaving Luxembourg’s prime minister to lecture and gesticulate at an empty podium about the dangers of the UK prime minister playing politics with people’s lives.

Johnson was booed and jeered as he left a working lunch in Luxembourgwith the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, before being forced to abandon plans to speak alongside the country’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel.

The cancellation left Johnson scuttling past the waiting lecterns in a courtyard outside the prime minister’s office to chants by British protesters a few metres away.

Bettel did not mince his words as he took the lectern next to the one left empty by the British prime minister’s no-show, with the union flag still in position. » | Daniel Boffey in Luxembourg | Monday, September 16, 2019

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Lib Dems Pledge to Cancel Brexit If They Win General Election

BBC: The Liberal Democrats have pledged to cancel Brexit if they come to power at the next general election.

Members voted for the new policy at their party conference in Bournemouth by an overwhelming majority.

Previously, the party has backed another referendum or "People's Vote", saying they would campaign to Remain.

After the vote, their leader Jo Swinson, said: "We will do all we can to fight for our place in Europe, and to stop Brexit altogether."

The commitment only comes into force if the party wins the election as a majority government. » | Sunday, September 15, 2019

How Will Saudi Arabia Respond to Attacks on Oil Facilities? | Inside Story

Drone attacks force world's largest oil exporter to halve output. It's being described as an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply.

Oil prices are expected to rise after Saudi Arabia was forced to cut production in half. Houthi rebels in Yemen say their latest drone attacks knocked out the world's largest crude processing plant.

Iran is dismissing US accusations that it was responsible. Is the possibility of a war between Iran and the Saudis increasing?

Presenter: Hashem Ahelbarra | Guests: Hussain Al Bukhaiti - Yemeni affairs specialist; Simon Mabon - Director, Richardson Institute for Peace Studies, Lancaster University; Josh Young - Portfolio Manager, Bison Interests energy investment firm

Trump Is Seriously, Frighteningly Unstable – The World Is In Danger

THE GUARDIAN: It is almost too late for impeachment. The 25th amendment is untested. The ballot box offers our only remaining hope

In retrospect, what’s most disturbing about “Sharpiegate” isn’t Trump’s clumsy effort to doctor a National Weather Service map or even his brazen move to get the same agency to lie on his behalf.

It’s how utterly petty his motive was. We’ve had presidents trying to cover up a sexual liaison with an intern and a botched burglary, but never have we had one who went to such lengths to cover up an inaccurate weather forecast. Alabama being hit by a hurricane? Friends, this is not rational behavior.

Trump also cancelled a meeting with the Taliban at Camp David. The meeting was to have been secret. It was scheduled for the week of the anniversary of 9/11. He cancelled it by tweet.

Does any of this strike you as even remotely rational? » | Robert Reich | Sunday, September 15, 2019

‘Johnson Is a Liar Who Only Backed Leave to Help His Career’ – David Cameron

THE OBSERVER: Former PM vents fury in his memoirs at his old colleagues over their stance on Brexit and compares Leave campaign to racist Tory electioneering in 1964

Boris Johnson is a liar who only backed the Leave campaign to help his career and Michael Gove was a “foam-flecked Faragist” whose “one quality” was disloyalty, David Cameron writes in his memoirs.

The former prime minister poured vituperation on both his former colleagues Priti Patel, the current home secretary, and Dominic Cummings, the No 10 adviser, in extracts from the book published on Sunday.

In what may be Cameron’s most explosive allegation yet, he effectively accused Boris Johnson of mounting a racist election campaign by focusing on Turkey and its possible accession to the EU.

“It didn’t take long to figure out Leave’s obsession,” he writes. “Why focus on a country that wasn’t an EU member?

“The answer was that it was a Muslim country, which piqued fears about Islamism, mass migration and the transformation of communities. It was blatant.” » | Michael Savage and Emma Graham-Harrison | Sunday, September 15, 2019

Fareed Zakaria: Trump's Foreign Policy Is In Shambles

President Donald Trump claimed he was a great dealmaker, but after the collapse of deals with Iran, North Korea and the Taliban, has that claim been proven otherwise?

EU Officials Reject Boris Johnson Claim of 'Huge Progress' in Brexit Talks

THE GUARDIAN: PM’s upbeat account dismissed as Jean-Claude Juncker warns time is running out

EU officials have rejected Boris Johnson’s claim that “a huge amount of progress” is being made in Brexit talks, as Jean-Claude Juncker warned that time is running out.

Juncker, who will stand down as European commission president on 31 October, is expected to ask Johnson to spell out his ideas for replacing the Irish backstop when the pair meet over lunch in Luxembourg on Monday.

Johnson told the Mail on Sunday there were “real signs of movement” in Berlin, Paris and Dublin on getting rid of the backstop, the persistent stumbling block to a Brexit agreement. “A huge amount of progress is being made,” he said.

But EU officials involved in talks with Johnson’s envoy, David Frost, have dismissed his upbeat account. » | Jennifer Rankin and Daniel Boffey | Sunday, September 15, 2019

Saturday, September 14, 2019

UK, EU Relationship Will 'Never Be the Same Again' | Conflict Zone

Britain's ruling Conservatives are buckling under the weight of Brexit. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has expelled many of his own MPs for breaking the whip on a key vote and shut down parliament, but not before it denied him an early election and instead legislated to force Johnson to request an extension to the UK's Brexit deadline from Brussels. But will he obey the law? This week Conflict Zone's Tim Sebastian meets pro-Brexit Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen in London.

Conflict Zone is Deutsche Welle's top political interview. Every week, our host Tim Sebastian is face to face with global decision-makers, seeking straight answers to straight questions, putting the spotlight on controversial issues and calling the powerful to account.

Sam Gyimah Slams ‘Populist Johnson’ as He Joins Lib Dems

THE GUARDIAN: The MP says he has joined Jo Swinson’s party to fight No 10’s ‘scorched earth approach’ to leaving the EU

Boris Johnson has suffered a fresh blow as the former Tory universities minister Sam Gyimah dramatically defected to the Liberal Democrats, accusing the prime minister of “veering towards populism and English nationalism”.

In a major coup for the Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson at the start of her party’s annual conference, Gyimah said he had left the Conservatives to fight against the government’s “scorched earth approach” to delivering Brexit regardless of the cost to the country.

Announcing his defection exclusively to the Observer as his new party gathered in Bournemouth, Gyimah said centrists were being “cast out of both main parties”. The East Surrey MP called on them to unite and fight back against the drift to the extremes. » | Michael Savage | Saturday, September 14, 2019

THE OBSERVER: Sam Gyimah: ‘I am an outcast in the Tory party’ »

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Road to No-deal Brexit? Boris Johnson's "People vs Parliament" Strategy

After the overnight proroguing of parliament, could the UK be headed straight towards a no-deal Brexit? Boris Johnson's bound by law now to ask for an extension unless there's an agreement with the European Union... but the new PM's defiant, saying come what may, Britain's leaving October 31st. With MPs in recess for the next five weeks, François Picard's panel measures just how much Johnson is testing the UK's democracy.

Moscow: Edward Snowden In Exile: ‘You Have to Be Ready to Stand for Something’

Edward Snowden has spent the last six years living in exile in Russia and has now decided to publish his memoirs, Permanent Record. In the book he reflects on his life leading up to the biggest leak of top secret documents in history, and the impact this had on his relationship with his partner, Lindsay Mills. The Guardian's Ewen MacAskill, who helped break Snowden's story in 2013, has been given exclusive access to meet him

THE GUARDIAN: The man whose state surveillance revelations rocked the world speaks exclusively to the Guardian about his new life and concerns for the future »

Trump Explains His Distinctive Orange Hue: It's the Lightbulbs

THE GUARDIAN: President says energy-efficient bulbs do him no favours / ‘The light’s no good. I always look orange. And so do you!’

It’s been the subject of intense debate among late-night comedians and Donald Trump’s many online critics: why, in certain circumstances, does the president of the United States sometimes appear … orange?

Now Trump himself has come up with an answer – and it’s not one anyone was expecting. The problem, apparently, is energy-efficient lightbulbs.

Talking before an audience of Republican legislators in Baltimore on Thursday night, Trump gave a rambling speech in which he tackled criticism of his recent plans to weaken regulations on environmentally friendly bulbs. » | Edward Helmore | Friday, September 13, 2019

Exclusive: Juncker Brands Britons ‘Part-time Europeans’ Who Were Never Fully in the Union

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Boris Johnson Has No Right to Call Himself a One-nation Conservative

THE GUARDIAN: The prime minister is no ‘Brexity Hezza’. I can’t relate to his rightwing, foreigner-bashing, inward-looking view of the world

I have been around long enough to know that I should not always be surprised or shocked about what is written in the Sun newspaper. But it was reported yesterday that Boris Johnson was telling cabinet colleagues he was “basically a Brexity Hezza” – with the newspaper helpfully explaining this was a “reference to Tory wet Michael Heseltine who battled rightwing PM Margaret Thatcher”.

The quotes have not been denied and I assume they were well sourced. Part of me is even a little flattered, not least because there is a side to the prime minister that I like. He succeeded me as MP for Henley and I got to know him. More importantly, as mayor of London, he once showed a capacity to govern in the tradition of one-nation conservatism.

There is, however, a “but” – a very big “but”. Because a “Brexity Hezza” is a simple contradiction in terms. My commitment to Britain being part of Europe and maintaining our influence in the world goes to the heart of my politics. And I fear that any traces of liberal conservatism that still exist within the prime minister have long since been captured by the rightwing, foreigner-bashing, inward-looking view of the world that has come to characterise his fellow Brexiters inside the Downing Street bunker. It is simply not possible to be a “one nation” Conservative and also pursue a “Little Englander” strategy obviously crafted to appeal to the likes of Nigel Farage and his followers. » | Michael Heseltine | Thursday, September 12, 2019

THE GUARDIAN: Heseltine: imposing no-deal Brexit 'intolerable' attack on democracy »

Shaykh Hasib Noor - Jesus: Son of Mary - Islamic Version

In Islam, Jesus is understood to be the penultimate prophet and messenger of God (Allah) and therefore holds great importance in the Islamic faith. But how similar and/or different is the Islamic version of the story of Jesus from that of the Christian tradition? This lecture by Shaykh Hasib Noor looks to share the Islamic version of the story of Jesus, son of Mary.

I am placing this lecture up because I believe it is one of the clearest explanations I have heard of the Muslim Jesus. It is a very interesting lecture, and very well delivered too.

As people, we need to understand each other. Without understanding, there can be no harmony. It doesn’t matter whether we are of the Christian faith, of the Islamic faith, or of no faith at all, it is always good to see things from another’s perspective.

Watching this is well worth your time. Even if you don’t agree with all of it, you will certainly enjoy it. – Mark

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Scots Judges Rule Parliament Suspension Unlawful

Amid what is now a full-blown constitutional crisis, all eyes will be on the Supreme Court next week, when the country’s top judges will decide whether Scotland's Court of Session was correct in ruling that the Prime Minister acted in an "improper" and "unlawful" way in suspending parliament for five weeks. Opposition MPs leapt on the ruling, saying that parliament should be recalled immediately. Former attorney general and Tory rebel Dominic Grieve said that if Boris Johnson had misled the Queen over the reasons for prorogation, then he should resign.

Opinion: Tom Watson Says PM Is 'Disgraceful' and Calls for Referendum before Election

The deputy Labour party leader said Boris Johnson was 'worse than Thatcher' in a speech at the Creative Industries Federation in London on Wednesday as he called for a referendum before a general election. Watson said: 'There is no such thing as a good Brexit deal' and urged his party to 'unequivocally back remain'

John Bolton Ousted | Inside Story

He was the longest-serving US National Security Advisor under President Donald Trump. But that wasn't enough to save him. Just like his predecessors, John Bolton has been tweeted out of the White House.

Bolton was known for his hardline stance against countries like Iran and North Korea. And he'd disagreed with the president over foreign policy - most recently on Afghanistan. He opposed Trump's plan to bring members of the Taliban to Camp David to sign a peace accord.

Those views led to the president firing him, although Bolton says he resigned; so what does his departure mean for US foreign policy? And is there anyone who can hold onto one of the most powerful positions in the White House?

Presenter: Imran Khan Guests John Jones, Former Senate National Security Director under former National Security Advisor Chuck Schumer Scott Lucas, Founder and Editor of EA World View and Professor of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Birmingham. Jenna Ben-Yehuda, President and CEO of the Truman National Security Project.

Boris Johnson "Nothing Like” Churchill – Nicholas Soames | Times News

Nicholas Soames reflects on his expulsion from the Tory party and says Boris Johnson is nothing like his grandfather Winston Churchill.

Sir Nicholas is more horrified by Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader. His behaviour this week, lolling on the front bench, was “repulsive”, he says. “He is in serious danger of believing his own shtick. He is an absolute fraud, he is a living example of what a moderately cut double-breasted suit and a decent tie can do with an ultra-posh voice and a bit of ginger stuck up his arse. You do not behave like that as leader of the House.” Both men went to Eton but Sir Nicholas says Rees-Mogg’s behaviour has nothing to do with his school. “I thought it was bloody bad manners and he of all people should know better. He has had all the advantages and frankly nanny made a serious bish. I wanted to kick him firmly in the arse and say, ‘What the hell do you think you are playing at? Sit up!’ ” His speech in the Brexit debate was “the lowest form of student union hackery, insolence and bad manners”. Read the full article here » | September 6, 2019

Why Scaramucci Now Calls Trump 'Horrific' and 'Despicable'

Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci reacts to President Trump's feud with with John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen.

Intel Chair Schiff: Bolton Should Have Never Been National Security Advisor | The Last Word | MSNBC

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff says that the newly-ousted John Bolton left several foreign policy matters, like Iran, most volatile. Schiff also discusses upcoming moves by the Judiciary Committee on impeachment.

Controversial Trump Aide John Bolton Exits White House Knocking Trump | The Beat with Ari Melber | MSNBC

President Trump has fired controversial National Security Advisor John Bolton on Twitter, after they ‘strongly disagreed.’ Sparking more controversary, Bolton offered a different recount, saying he previously ‘offered to resign.’ Former Obama official Richard Stengel argues ‘the problem with replacing Bolton’ is ‘when someone leaves the Trump administration, they’re never replaced by a better actor.’