Extreme temperatures across the Southwest are turning up the heat for firefighters battling massive flares, hampering their efforts and presenting a new layer of danger for workers on the fire lines.
With little fanfare, the trial of a Jordanian soldier accused of the premeditated killing of three U.S. Green Berets began in early June. The incident, which occurred in November at the entrance of Al Jafr air base in south Jordan, has received relatively scant press coverage in the United States and in the kingdom. Yet the lack of attention belies the significance of the killings and the outcome of the trial.
Jordan is Washington’s best Arab ally in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) and is the second-leading recipient of U.S. economic and military assistance. But during a one-year span beginning in mid-November 2015, more Americans in uniform were killed in so-called green-on-blue killings in Jordan than in Afghanistan. Not only have the killings proved an embarrassment for Amman, in Jordan’s tribal society, the ongoing trial of one alleged perpetrator is a political minefield for the king.
On November 4, three vehicles carrying U.S. Special Forces members tasked with training moderate Syrian opposition fighters in Jordan attempted to enter Al Jafr military base. The cars were waved through the external gate, but then, according to the official Jordanian narrative, as the vehicles were waiting to clear the internal checkpoint, a shot was fired (or a car backfired) and a guard, Corporal Ma’arek Abu Tayeh, responded by opening fire on the first vehicle with his M-16 rifle.
One U.S. soldier was killed instantly; two other troops from the convoy identified themselves and fled. Nevertheless, over the next six and a half minutes, they were hunted down and executed at close range. Abu Tayeh was eventually critically wounded by a shot from a U.S. soldier whose car had earlier cleared the gates.
Naomi Klein on identity politics, Hillary Clinton, and The Apprentice.
In the days after the 2016 presidential election, a theory emerged to explain why Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump: “identity politics” — specifically Clinton’s routine appeals to women and racial minorities.
This charge was put perhaps most passionately by Mark Lilla, a humanities professor at Columbia University, in a New York Times op-ed called “The End of Identity Liberalism.” Lilla maintained that if the Democratic Party wants to appeal to more working-class white voters, it needs to treat “identity liberalism” with a “proper sense of scale.” For Lilla, focusing on diversity has meant that a generation of young Americans have “shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good.”
Naomi Klein rejects such claims. In her new book, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, the best-selling author and activist writes that “it’s short-sighted, not to mention dangerous, to call for liberals and progressives to abandon their focus on ‘identity politics’ and concentrate instead on economics and class — as if these factors could in any way be pried apart.”
Clinton’s loss, according to Klein, had to do with her track record, not her messaging. As Klein has it, “it was the stupid economics of neoliberalism, fully embraced by her, her husband, and her party’s establishment,” that rendered Clinton without a persuasive case to offer white workers who previously voted for Barack Obama. For Klein, you can’t fully grapple with class without also understanding the marginalized people the economy affects.
This is one of the many salvos Klein throws in her book. According to her, No Is Not Enough is “one attempt to look at how we got to this surreal political moment; how, in concrete ways, it could get a lot worse; and how, if we keep our heads, we might be able to flip the script and arrive at a radically brighter future.”
I recently caught up with Klein by phone while she was in Portland, Oregon, on her book tour. Among other things, we talked about Clinton’s “trickle-down identity politics,” how some liberals fail to understand the implications of climate change, and why Trump’s “Make America Great Again” brand makes him politically vulnerable. Here’s our conversation, lightly edited and condensed.
Does anyone remember the arguments about sugar imports during the debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993?
Or the prohibitions against importing Brazilian-made ethanol at a fraction of what Iowa ethanol costs the American consumer?
American sugar while tiny in jobs is powerful because it spreads millions of dollars around Congress.
Did anyone notice that the Trump Administration entered office with a sugar crisis centered on Mexican imports of refined sugar?
American sugar people claimed Mexico was violating NAFTA rules. Hot and heavy news reports brought attention to the “crisis” and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross drew a line and told us that sugar imports would be stopped from Mexico if an agreement wasn’t reached by a date certain in June.
Issue: American sugar producers were being out-competed by Mexican sugar producers; the specific item – refined sugar. American sugar refiners were being beaten in the refined sugar market by more efficient Mexican sugar producers. A quiet agreement was reached by the Trump Administration and the Mexicans. American sugar refiners won; they will make money by protection. The losers: American consumers.
My argument in 1993 in support of NAFTA was simply based. We in San Diego were paying double for sugar what our Mexican next door neighbors were paying two feet across the border in Tijuana.
Back to the Chicago Nabisco facility. Trump was incensed when Nabisco announced it was cutting its Chicago workforce by 600 jobs and moving those jobs to a new automated plant in Mexico. It became a campaign plank promising to stop that kind of job movement to Mexico.
NAFTA, Trump declared, was the worst trade deal in history; it was and is a “disaster.” There was no mention of why Nabisco was making the move.
The issue is nothing more than the U.S. government prohibiting a free market in sugar to protect a handful of sugar producers and refiners with the American consumer footing the bill. Americans pay as much as $1.4 Billion more in artificially-high sugar prices than they should.
A CORPORATE DATABASE used by banks and other institutions to screen clients for crimes such as money laundering and terror financing has labeled dozens of U.S. citizens as connected to terrorism on the basis of outdated or unsubstantiated allegations. An analysis of a 2014 copy of the database, which is known as World-Check, also indicates that many thousands of people, including children, were listed on the basis of tenuous links to crime or to politically prominent persons.
The database relied on allegations stemming from right-wing Islamophobic websites to categorize under “terrorism” people and groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, several mosques, and national and regional Islamic organizations.
Political activists also had World-Check listings originating from old, minor infractions. For instance, 16 Greenpeace activists who were arrested for protesting the “Star Wars” missile-defense program in 2001 were listed under the general “crime” category, though they ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespassing and never served time.
World-Check, which is owned by Thomson Reuters, contains over 2 million entries, most of them for people who are in government, on international sanctions lists, or have convictions for financial crimes. Thomson Reuters claims that World-Check is a risk-assessment tool, not a blacklist, and that a listing is not necessarily meant to imply wrongdoing.
For all its prowess, there’s something weird about the NSX. Acura’s supercar uses a quartet of motors—three electric, one gas—to put power to any given wheel just when you need it most, making the supercar explosive, agile, and confidence-inspiring.
Here’s the odd part: As seamlessly as the NSX supports and elevates your driving skills, it’s hard to pin down how involved the car is. This is a common measuring stick for six-figure cars: Does it let you engage in and own your aggressions and mistakes, or is an interventionist, taking control or overriding at the first sign of trouble?
The NSX doesn’t fit easily onto this scale. Going into a tight corner too hot on a rural back road, it allows the driver to venture onto the knife-edge of trouble. And when it finally steps in to course correct, it somehow makes you feel like you nailed the turn yourself. Not scolding. Magic. The kind of magic that makes Honda more ready for the connected, shared, autonomous driving future than its doubters might assume.
This tingly feeling is familiar—or, perhaps, familial. Honda, Acura’s parent company, has long prided itself on innovation that uses technology to enhance the human experience, making it less stressful and more fun. The NSX isn’t the only unassuming tech to roll out of an R&D department that functions independent of sales, marketing, and manufacturing, almost like a startup incubator.
In every division—robotics, aviation, powersports, racing, power tools, automobiles, newfangled mobility—the company strip mines the uncanny valley, removing the boundaries between human and machine, while making the experience habitable and approachable. Consider Honda’s nearly 20-year project developing artificially intelligent, humanoid robots like Asimo. Or its geeky UniCUB stool-cum-unicycle, its self-stabilizing motorcycle, or its marginally medical Walking Assist motorized leg-supports.
Andrew Weissmann helped oversee the bizarre Felix Sater case.
While President Donald Trump fumes about the expanding Russia investigation, the man in charge of the probe has been busy assembling a murderer’s row of experienced prosecutors boasting backgrounds in government corruption, fraud, cybersecurity, corporate crime, and organized crime. One of the first hires made by special counsel Robert Mueller was Andrew Weissmann, the leader of the Justice Department’s criminal fraud division. And in a curious twist, Weissmann once played a role in an unusual case—involving the Mafia, the Russian mob, and securities fraud—that is now oddly linked to Trump.
Weissmann has a reputation as a fierce prosecutor, having headed up the Justice Department’s Enron Task Force. Before that, as an assistant US attorney in the Eastern District of New York, he pursued cases targeting Mafia wise guys and Russian organized crime members.
As a prosecutor in the Eastern District, Weissmann signed a 1998 cooperation agreement between the US government and Felix Sater, a violent felon and securities trader who had pleaded guilty to financial crimes. Sater went on to become a confidential informant for the FBI and a Trump business partner. During the years in which Sater was secretly cooperating with the Feds, he was also engaging in key real estate ventures with Trump. This included scouting for deals in Russia and Eastern Europe, projects that never materialized. Trump has consistently claimed that his business empire has “nothing to do with Russia.” Yet Sater’s intriguing tale represents at least one important Russia connection for Trump.
Though Weissmann served in various positions of authority within the Eastern District, it is unclear how closely involved he was with the Sater case. A spokesman for Mueller says, “Apart from his role as an office supervisor in 1998, Mr. Weissmann does not recall any direct involvement.” Perhaps it’s a coincidence that Weissmann had a role in the Sater case. But might Weissmann, who left the Eastern District in 2002 to join the Enron probe, have any inside information—or insight—into the Trump-Sater matter and how it relates to Trump’s decades-long effort to forge ties in Russia?
The Sater episode has raised serious questions for Trump, who has denied knowing much about Sater. There are unresolved mysteries: what Sater did as a confidential informant and what Trump knew, if anything, of Sater’s criminal activity.
Sater’s business dealings with Trump appear to have faded several years ago, but he has maintained his ties to the Trump camp. In August 2016, Sater told Politico that he had visited Trump Tower the previous month, but he declined to disclose with whom he had met or the visit’s purpose, saying only that it was “confidential.” At the start of the Trump administration, Sater joined with a Ukrainian legislator and Michael Cohen, a personal lawyer for Trump, to develop a Putin-friendly Ukrainian peace plan that they presented to Michael Flynn, then Trump’s national security adviser.