‘Nobody better’ at bull?

“New political order”…”can’t be stopped

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in the US senior White House Staff have said  “there’s a new political order that’s being formed” and “if the party and the conservative movement are together, it can’t be stopped”.

BBC via RNZ: Bannon hails ‘new political order’

Steve Bannon vowed at a conservative conference to bring together those of “wide and sometimes divergent opinions” in support of “economic nationalism”.

“We are a nation with a culture and a reason for being,” the normally behind-the-scenes adviser told the audience.

He said the president was “maniacally focused” on pursuing his agenda.

“I’ve said that there’s a new political order that’s being formed out of this. And it’s still being formed,” he said.

The former editor of Breitbart News Network appeared with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday.

During his appearance on Thursday, Mr Bannon repeated his attack on the media, describing members of the press as the “opposition party” who are “always wrong” about Mr Trump.

“I think if you look at, you know, the opposition party,” Mr Bannon said, referring to the media.

It’s likely to be no coincidence that Breitbart fan Cameron Slater has been calling the New Zealand media “the opposition party” for the past few months. It’s a bit pathetic, but those trying to overreach for power often try to talk up enemies to go up against.

“How they portrayed the campaign, how they portrayed the transition and how they’re portraying the administration – it’s always wrong,” he told Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which hosted the conference.

Referring to the “corporatist, globalist media”, he said: “If you [the audience] think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight you are sadly mistaken.”

Pot calling kettle black with gross exaggerations saying the media are “always wrong”.

“The truth of the matter is [Trump] brought together the party and the conservative moment, and I’ve got to tell you, if the party and the conservative movement are together, it can’t be stopped,” Mr Priebus said.

With Republican majorities in both the Senate and Congress a lot can probably be done, but Trump’s administration has already found out that another check on power, the US courts, can at least slow them down.

US discussion – Friday

If there’s news or issues from the USA worth discussing today you can do it here.

US discussion – Thursday

If there’s news or issues from the USA worth discussing today you can do it here.

Tough guidelines on deporting illegal US immigrants

Donald Trump is following through on his promise to get even tougher than Barack Obama on deporting illegal immigrants.

BBC: US unveils sweeping orders to deport illegal immigrants

The Trump administration has issued tough guidelines to widen the net for deporting illegal immigrants from the US, and speed up their removal.

Undocumented immigrants arrested for traffic violations or shop-lifting will be targeted along with those convicted of more serious crimes.

All 11 million or so undocumented foreigners in the US could be affected.

But the plan leaves in place Obama-era protections for immigrants who entered the US illegally as children.

Fox News: DHS secretary orders immigration agent hiring surge, end to ‘catch-and-release’

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly moved Tuesday to implement a host of immigration enforcement changes ordered by President Trump, directing agency heads to hire thousands more officers, end so-called “catch-and-release” policies and begin work on the president’s promised U.S.-Mexico border wall.

“It is in the national interest of the United States to prevent criminals and criminal organizations from destabilizing border security,” Kelly wrote in one of two memos released Tuesday by the department.

The memos follow up on Trump’s related executive actions from January and, at their heart, aim to toughen enforcement by expanding the categories of illegal immigrants targeted for deportation.

The memos cover a sprawling set of initiatives including:

  • Prioritizing criminal illegal immigrants and others for deportation, including those convicted or charged with “any criminal offense,” or who have “abused” any public welfare program
  • Expanding the 287(g) program, which allows participating local officers to act as immigration agents – and had been rolled back under the Obama administration
  • Starting the planning, design and construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall
  • Hiring 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and officers
  • Hiring 5,000 Border Patrol agents
  • Ending “catch-and-release” policies under which illegal immigrants subject to deportation potentially are allowed to “abscond” and fail to appear at removal hearings

It’s unclear what timelines the secretary is setting for some of these objectives, and what budgetary and other constraints the department and its myriad agencies will face.

In pursuing an end to “catch-and-release,” one memo called for a plan with the Justice Department to “surge” immigration judges and asylum officers to handle additional cases.

This is attempting to fulfil campaign promises, but risks major disruption of families and communities and could impact significantly on companies relying on immigrant labour.

 

Rioting in Sweden

There are reports of rioting in Sweden in an immigrant area in Stockholm.

The Telegraph: Swedish police investigate riot in predominantly immigrant Stockholm suburb

Swedish police on Tuesday were investigating a riot that broke out overnight in a predominantly immigrant suburb in Stockholm after officers arrested a suspect on drug charges.

The clashes started late Monday when a police car arrested a suspect and people started throwing stones at them in Rinkeby, north of Stockholm. Unidentified people, including some wearing masks, also set cars on fire and looted shops.

One officer was slightly injured when a rock hit his arm and one person was arrested for throwing rocks, police spokesman Lars Bystrom said Tuesday.

Police were investigating three cases of violent rioting, assaulting a police officer, two assaults, vandalism and aggravated thefts, he said.

“This kind of situation doesn’t happen that often but it is always regrettable when it happens,” Bystrom said.

He declined to give further details, saying the episode would be investigated.

No indication of who started the rioting and who became involved, nor of their ethnicity.

The incident comes after US president Donald Trump was widely ridiculed for comments suggesting some kind of attack had occurred in Sweden on Saturday night.

It may be that this sort of thing is common in Sweden.

If not, this is suspiciously coincidental to the Trump claims.  Is this some opportunist stirring?

More details and facts are needed before jumping to conclusions.

US discussion – Wednesday

If there’s news or issues from the USA worth discussing today you can do it here.

Lords debates Article 50

From Missy in the UK:


Today the House of Lords began their first two days of debate on the Article 50 Bill before it goes to committee stage.

Over the weekend a number of Lords said that it would not get through unscathed, and they were open about wanting to do everything to either water down the legislation, or stop it completely, this has put the Lords on a collision course with both the people and the House of Commons. There have been a number of MPs that have been open about pushing for serious reform – or abolition – of the Lords if they hold up this legislation, and some of the Lords have also acknowledged that if they try to stop this it could mean the end of the House of Lords.

Today a number of critics of the Lords, and a couple of newspapers, called for members of the House to declare their interests in the EU – many are earning either consulting fees, or pensions from the EU, and it is seen by some as a clear conflict of interest. If Brexit happens these Lords will lose their EU income, and some believe that is the real reason they want to stop it happening, coincidentally one of the loudest about stopping the legislation allegedly earns one of the highest pensions from the EU.

Theresa May attended the opening debates in the Lords, she is allowed to as a member of the Privy Council, but it is reportedly unprecedented for a PM to go and listen to a debate on legislation in the House – at least in modern times. The last time a PM attended the House of Lords was David Cameron to listen to the tributes to Margaret Thatcher.

Baroness Evans, the leader of the House of Lords today urged the Lords to recognise the primacy of the House of Commons. She reminded the Lords that they passed the legislation for the referendum without restriction on the result, and that this bill is not about re-visiting the debate.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/20/theresa-may-set-attend-house-lords-article-50-debate-person/

This will be interesting times, but it could also be a catalyst for fundamental change in the UK’s political landscape if some are to be believed – and I don’t mean with regards to leaving the EU.

Trump v. US ‘intelligence’ agencies

I’m sure it’s been said before that US Intelligence is an oxymoron. They have somewhere around 20 intelligence agencies for a start (including the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency and components of the State Department, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the armed forces), with conflicting jurisdictions, and with rivalries and a lack of systems that prevents comprehensive consolidation of intelligence.

US intelligence agencies have long clashed with their democracy, notably in the Nixon era. Recently Director James Comey inserted the FBI into the presidential election, quite possibly swinging the result.

There have been controversial claims by multiple intelligence agencies that Russia interfered with the presidential election, and that Donald trump’s campaign team had ongoing contact with Russian interests.

And now that Trump is president things seem to be getting worse, with ongoing leaks from intelligence agencies that conflict with and and undermine the presidency.

There are some claims that intelligence agencies won’t tell Trump things for fear of their methods being passed on to Russia.

Salon covers much of this in Trump vs. the Deep State: This death match of American political power will forever change history -President Trump escalates his battle with the U.S security apparatus.

The firing of Gen. Michael Flynn has popularized the concept of the “Deep State” across the political spectrum.

Breitbart’s Joel Pollak attacks the disloyal “Deep State #Resistance” to President Trump, while conservative pundit Bill Kristol defends it.

“Obviously [I] strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics,” Kristol tweeted Tuesday. “But if it comes to it, [I] prefer the deep state to the Trump state.”

Glenn Greenwald is more even-handed: “Trump presidency is dangerous,” the Intercept columnist tweeted Wednesday. “CIA/Deep State abuse of spy powers to subvert elected Govt is dangerous.”

And the conflict is deepening. The New York Times reported Thursday that Trump wants to bring in Wall Street billionaire Stephen Feinberg “to lead a broad review of American intelligence agencies.”

The idea is reportedly provoking “fierce resistance” from intelligence officials who fear it “could curtail their independence and reduce the flow of information that contradicts the president’s worldview.”

They describe ‘Deep State’:

The Deep State is shorthand for the nexus of secretive intelligence agencies whose leaders and policies are not much affected by changes in the White House or the Congress. While definitions vary, the Deep State includes the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency and components of the State Department, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the armed forces.

The leaders of these agencies are generally disturbed by Trump’s cavalier treatment of their intelligence findings and particularly worried about contacts between Trump’s entourage and Russian intelligence officials.

There are known facts plus many claims and accusations that are at least partially unsubstantiated.

As Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire noted, the undisputed facts are accumulating:

  • Multiple U.S. intelligence services believe that Russian operatives, at Putin’s directions, tried to help Trump get elected. The FBI is investigating contacts between Russian officials and at least three people connected to Trump’s presidential campaign: Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone.
  • There were “continuous” contacts between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian intelligence officials. At least some of the claims made in a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence official have been confirmed, though none of the more salacious details.
  • Trump has had many financial dealings with Russian oligarchs, as shown in an investigation by the American Interest.

As a result, the intelligence agencies are withholding sources and methods from the president out of fear they will leak to foreign powers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Senior officials are also leaking the results of the ongoing investigation into Trump to reporters at The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

The leaking of classified information, which Trump welcomed during the 2016 campaign, is indeed a felonious violation of the law, although it has been standard procedure for Washington power players since the passage of the National Security Act in 1947.

It is a serious threat to US democracy, and a serious threat to Trump’s presidency:

Vanity Fair calls the crisis of Trump’s presidency Watergate 2.0. The historical analogy is apt because the Watergate scandal that engulfed President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s was also a struggle between the White House and the intelligence agencies. But today’s crisis is more accurately described as Trump vs. the Deep State.

It is the death match of American political power and it will determine the fate of Trump’s troubled presidency.

It could be said that Trump is a serious threat to his presidency and to the US, but his clash with ‘Deep State’ is particularly ugly, and is likely to make more of a mess of US democracy.

More on ‘Deep State’:

Trump on Swedish ‘incident’ and immigration problems

Claims of immigration related crime in Sweden isn’t new online, but it does appear to be new when the US president makes claims about it that seem to have no factual basis (about another country, Donald Trump seems to lack a factual basis to many things he talks about in the US).

Reuters: Trump comment about immigration ‘problems’ baffles Sweden

U.S. President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Sweden experienced an immigration-related security incident prompted a baffled response from the Scandinavian country on Sunday as diplomats asked for an explanation and citizens responded with amusement.

Trump cited Sweden as a country that had experienced problems with immigrants in remarks at a rally on Saturday.

“You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden,” Trump said. “Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

That appeared to confuse the Swedish government, which asked the U.S. State Department to explain what the new president meant.

“We are trying to get clarity,” Swedish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Catarina Axelsson said.

Swedish news sources made no mention of a recent terrorism attack or other high-profile crime in the country.

“Nothing spectacular happened in Sweden on Friday,” wrote the Local, an English-language website in Sweden.

Fox News ran a report on Friday night about alleged migrant-related crime problems in the country.

Sweden’s crime rate has fallen since 2005, official statistics show, even as the country has taken in hundreds of thousands of immigrants from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq.

Trump has apparently ‘clarified’ where he got his information – Fox News.

The Hill: Trump clarifies remarks on Sweden: I got it from Fox News story

Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt also questioned Trump’s claims.

“Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound,” he tweeted.

This would seem to be the Fox News item: What the US could learn from Sweden’s refugee crisis

Feb. 17, 2017 – 6:15 – Sweden has taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees and rape and violence has since skyrocketed. A journalist took a close look at Sweden’s refugee crisis and at what ‘extreme vetting’ really means #Tucker

I think there is some debate about crime statistics in Sweden, especially in relation to immigration.

It also seems to be new that a US president bases commentary of foreign issues in Fox News coverage.