TBR News February 12, 2018

Feb 12 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. February 12, 2018:”I have received many complaints from viewers about my comments on warming weather patterns and rising sea levels.

Many of my readers are also very upset that I do not recognize that the 911 attacks were carried out by the Illuminati, using mutant goats as the pilots of the special Russian rockets that had been sold to the Saudis.

Also, they do not believe that all the global ice is melting and claim, very loudly, that the ice is actually growing by huge amounts.

For all of these claims, and also the very upset readers who object to my poking fun at the non-existant Sorcha Faal invented Planet X and its imminent impact on Cleveland, Ohio discuss supportive scientists.

No one knows who these scientists are but one can only guess that when the hospital lets them near computers, they spring into action.

If their Prozac wears off, of course, they tend to ramble.

And if were not for Infowars, we would never have learned about the giant frogs who ate up part of an Alaskan fishing fleet last year.”


Table of Contents

  • A President Held Hostage
  • Disconnect between US and South Korea grows amid rapprochement with North
  • Breaking point? Turkey demands ‘concrete steps’ from US while Washington wavers
  • Secrecy News
  • Germany averaged four anti-Semitic crimes per day in 2017, report says
  • 109 Locations from whence Jews have been expelled since AD 250
  • Trump reveals plan to repair America’s creaky infrastructure
  • Trump’s infrastructure blueprint ‘a scam’
  • US trade deficit surges during Trump’s first year in office
  • As Trump gambles with more economic stimulus, the Fed is poised to counter inflation
  • The Strategy of Maximal Extraction

A President Held Hostage

They’ve got him surrounded

February 12, 2018

by Justin Raimondo


As Vice President Mike Pence made a fool both of himself and the country he is supposed to be representing at the Olympic Games by refusing to stand for the athletes of any nation other than the US, back at home the Washington Post was reporting on a President Trump who appears to have nothing in common either with Pence or with the White House staff. The piece, entitled “Trump’s favorite general: Can Mattis check an impulsive president and still retain his trust?” tells a story that pits a President inclined to challenge the War Party against a Praetorian Guard determined to nullify his electoral mandate to keep out of foreign wars and put “America first”:

“Although Trump has given the military broad latitude on the battlefield, he also has raised pointed questions about the wisdom of the wars being fought by the United States. Last year, after a delegation of Iraqi leaders visited him in the Oval Office, Trump jokingly referred to them as ‘the most accomplished group of thieves he’d ever met,’ according to one former U.S. official.”

Truer words were never spoken, but of course this leak is designed to embarrass Trump and put him at odds with those very thieves. Mattis was presumably horrified by this truism, since the General is an even bigger thief, having successfully manipulated Congress into appropriating 15.5 percent more money for the military than Trump asked. The Post piece goes on to detail the President’s many heresies:

“He has repeatedly pressed Mattis and McMaster in stark terms to explain why US troops are in Somalia. ‘Can’t we just pull out?’ he has asked, according to US officials.

“Last summer, Trump was weighing plans to send more soldiers to Afghanistan and was contemplating the military’s request for more-aggressive measures to target Islamic State affiliates in North Africa. In a meeting with his top national security aides, the president grew frustrated. ‘You guys want me to send troops everywhere,’ Trump said, according to officials in the Situation Room meeting. ‘What’s the justification?’”

Oh, the shocked silence in that room must have lasted for what seemed like forever. Then Mattis came up with the same old bullshit:

“‘Sir, we’re doing it to prevent a bomb from going off in Times Square,’ Mattis replied.”

Trump didn’t fall for it: “The response angered Trump, who insisted that Mattis could make the same argument about almost any country on the planet.” And the President wasn’t alone in his skepticism: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions echoed Trump’s concerns, asking whether winning was even possible in a place such as Afghanistan or Somalia.”

Here’s the scary part, which concludes the piece:

“It was Mattis who made the argument that would, for the moment at least, sway Trump to embrace the status quo – which has held for the past two presidents.

“‘Unfortunately, sir, you have no choice,’ Mattis told Trump, according to officials. ‘You will be a wartime president.’”

Really? Why is that? And which war is Mattis specifically referring to? Afghanistan? We’re largely out of Iraq. Syria – the latest addition to our interventionist folly? We aren’t told, but in my view it’s not any foreign war Mattis is referring to, but – perhaps unconsciously – he’s referencing the war at home, i.e. the one being conducted by his own government against the President of the United States.

We read about it every day in the media: the Russia-gate hoax is still being flogged, despite growing evidence of its utter falsity. Robert Mueller is still on the prowl, looking for a pretext to take Trump down. The media, a longtime adjunct of the national security bureaucracy, is openly working in tandem with the intelligence services to take out Trump – and if you want to know why, just re-read the reporting on Trump’s reluctance to go along with the War Party’s murderous agenda.

So once they take him down, who will be Trump’s replacement? It’ll be Mike Pence, of course, the same person doing everything in his power to destroy the possibility of peace on the Korean peninsula – quite against Trump’s expressed hope that “we can make a deal” with North Korea.

The War Party cannot tolerate a President who questions the most basic premises of the American Empire: “You guys want me to send troops everywhere!” Of course they do. However, Trump was elected to carry out a very different mandate: to start putting America first. He railed against regime change. And now the regime-changers want to carry out a change of regime against him.

Just look at the reporting by James Risen in The Intercept: the FBI/CIA/NSA cabal paid a Russian operative $100,000 as a down payment on a total of a million to get compromising material on Trump. Isn’t this kind of thing only supposed to happen in places like Tadjikistan? Oh, it was all done under the pretext of getting back our stolen cyber-war tools, but really – how valuable are they if the Russians already have them? Sure, we could find out what was stolen – we still don’t know – but the long involved process described by Risen is really about getting rid of Trump. That’s all they really care about right now, and they’ll stop at nothing – including, I believe, assassination – to pull it off.

There’s too much money riding on the continued existence and expansion of our worldwide empire to let Trump ruin their scam. Too many careers are based on it, too much prestige is at stake, too many “allies” are dependent on the largesse it affords them. They’re boxing him in, despite his noninterventionist instincts, and they’re compiling “dossiers,” and they’re mobilizing all their forces for the final assault on the Oval Office. In an important sense, Trump is being held hostage: they have limited his policy options in every important sphere of the national security/foreign policy realm, The “swamp” Trump talks about is an international miasma, and swamp creatures of diverse nationalities are crawling out of the muck, their claws aimed straight for the presidential throat.

The War Party plays for keeps. The question is: does Donald Trump? We shall see.


Disconnect between US and South Korea grows amid rapprochement with North

A thawing of tensions between the two Koreas exposes cracks in the alliance between Seoul and Washington

February 12, 2018

by Benjamin Haas in Pyeongchang

The Guardian

South Korea has announced it will press ahead with improving ties with North Korea, arranging family reunions between those divided by the Korean war and seeking to cool military tensions – despite the US’s commitment to a policy of “maximum pressure” on Kim Jong-un.

The announcement from Seoul’s unification ministry comes a day after a high-level North Korean delegation – including Kim’s sister – concluded a visit to the South that culminated in an invitation from Kim Jong-un for his counterpart Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang.

The growing rapprochement between the two neighbours – still technically at war – has exposed a disconnect in policy between Seoul and Washington, a split Pyongyang has been trying to encourage since the end of the 1950-53 Korean conflict.

It became plain after US vice-president Mike Pence visited South Korea for the opening of the Winter Olympics at the weekend, experts said.

“There’s a definite fissure in the alliance. You can see it in Pence’s face if nothing else,” said Van Jackson, a former policy adviser to the US secretary of defence. “The US and South Korea want to present a united front, but they have completely different priorities: South Korea doesn’t want war, and the US doesn’t want North Korea to have nuclear weapons.”

Despite Washington’s hardline approach to dealing with North Korea, Pence made a small concession on Monday, saying the US was willing to talk directly with North Korea in what he called “maximum pressure and engagement at the same time”, according to the Washington Post.

However, if South Korea’s efforts do lead to direct talks between the US and North Korea, those negotiations would be “laughable”, Jackson said.

“One side demands immediate de-nuclearisation and the other says it will never give up its nuclear weapons.”

But throughout the Olympic venues there was a sense of euphoria.The days of Kim Jong-un’s threats to attack the US seemed like ancient history.

Instead, the focus has been on the combined women’s ice hockey team, the first time in history players from the two Koreas competed together at the Games.

Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, will visit Pyongyang sometime after the Games end on 25 February, according to a Reuters report. Bach met North Korean officials – and watched a hockey match with them – during their trip to Pyeongchang.

“I would love the team to get the Nobel peace prize,” said Angela Ruggiero, a senior US member of the IOC’s executive board, adding she would ask for them to be nominated. “As someone who competed in four Olympics and knows it isn’t about you, your team, or your country, I saw the power of what it did last night.”

North Korean officials watched the game with Moon and state radio hailed a visit by Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un’s sister, as “an important occasion in improving relations”, saying it provided “an environment for peace on the Korean peninsula”.

Meanwhile, media in North Korea took aim at the US.

“Pence must know that his frantic acts of abusing the sacred Olympics for confrontational ruckus are as foolish and stupid an act as sweeping the sea with a broom,” said a commentary in the Rodong Sinmun, published by the ruling Workers’ party. “His behaviour is nothing but an ugly sight being reminded of crazy Trump.”

Pence had attempted to conceal cracks in the alliance, declaring there was “no daylight” between the US and South Koean in policy toward Pyongyang. During his flight back to the US, Pence said: “No pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization.

“So the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify. But if you want to talk, we’ll talk.”

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Mintaro Oba, a former US diplomat who worked on North Korea policy, but cautioned pressure would remain the focus of US policy.

“Pence’s strategy in Pyeongchang backfired in a big way,” Oba said. “He lent credibility to the narrative of a US-South Korea split and gave North Korea ammunition to blame the United States if inter-Korean engagement falls apart.

“He should have kept his concerns in diplomatic channels while broadcasting US-South Korea unity at every opportunity.”


Breaking point? Turkey demands ‘concrete steps’ from US while Washington wavers

February 12, 2018


Strained relations between Turkey and the US seem to have reached a critical point. Ankara is seeking clarity from the US, threatening to ‘break’ ties. Washington meanwhile continues to hide behind vague statements.

US actions are the reason for the “missing trust” between the two NATO allies, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told journalists on Monday. He went on to say Ankara expects “concrete steps” from Washington, aimed at mending ties that have almost reached the point of no return

Turkey’s “ties with the US are at [a] very critical point,” the minister said. The two sides “will either fix these relations or they will break [down] completely,” he added. Ankara was provoked by the mixed signals coming from the US about its support for Kurdish militias in Syria amid the ongoing Turkish military campaign against these forces in Afrin.

The US has tried to prove to Ankara that it takes its interests in Syria seriously. Late in 2017, US President Donald Trump promised to end arms supplies to the Kurds. In January 2018, Washington repeated this promise, when US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin that the US would no longer provide weapons to fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

At the same time, Washington also made it clear that US troops would not leave Manbij – another northern Syrian town controlled by the Kurdish militias – even though Ankara said it could extend its operation into this area. Nor is it apparently ready to end support for the “Kurdish elements of the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces],” an umbrella Syrian armed opposition group.

On Sunday, US Defense Secretary James Mattis admitted that “some of the Syrian Democratic Forces” had been “drawn off” from the battle against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), to the Afrin area by what he called a “distraction,” apparently referring to the Turkish operation. He went on to say that around 50 percent of all SDF fighters are Kurds, who “see their fellow Kurds in Afrin under attack.” The Pentagon chief made no indication that Washington tries to prevent its allies on the ground from aiding those whom Ankara considers terrorists.

That did not, however, stop Mattis from calling Turkey’s reasons for waging a military campaign in the region legitimate. “They [Turkey] have a legitimate security concern, and we do not dismiss one bit of that, along that border with Syria,” he said, adding that the US is “assisting Turkey” and is “going to work closely” with Ankara.

However, Turkish officials do not seem to be satisfied with these ambiguous statements anymore. “Our demands from the US are clear and have already been conveyed. We no longer want to hear about promises; we want to hear about concrete steps. Trust needs to be rebuilt so we can start to talk about some issues,” Cavusoglu said on Monday.

His words were echoed by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, who urged Washington to “pull itself together and make a sound decision.” “America’s decision to fight against one terror organization with the cooperation of another terror organization has nothing to do with dignity of a state,” Yildirim told reporters.

The Turkish officials went as far to accuse the US of deliberately sparing terrorists in its operations to justify the extension of its cooperation with Kurdish forces in Syria. “The US is not touching [IS] members in Syria [to have] an excuse to continue working with the YPG,” Cavusoglu said.

The Turkish military operation in the Kurdish area of Afrin entered its fourth week on February 10. Ankara also repeatedly said it plans to expand it with Manbij and Idlib being mentioned as the possible next targets.

In the meantime, Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, seems to be straining its relations with other allies. During the first week of the Afrin campaign, Germany froze all decisions on supplying weapons to Ankara, including upgrades to the German-made Leopard tanks used by Turkish troops. Later, the French president and foreign minister warned Ankara against the invasion and accused it of “adding war to war.”



Secrecy News

From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2018, Issue No. 10

February 12, 2018


U.S. Army efforts to develop directed energy weapons — such as lasers and microwave weapons — are surveyed in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

Such weapons are probably years away from actual deployment by the Army, if indeed they ever become practical options.

“While DE weapons offer a variety of advantages over conventional kinetic weapons including precision, low cost per shot, and scalable effects, there are also some basic constraints such as beam attenuation, limited range, and an inability to be employed against non-line-of-sight targets which will need to be addressed in order to make these weapons effective across the entire spectrum of combat operations,” the CRS report said.

The status of some directed energy programs is obscured by secrecy, CRS said. “The classified nature of most of DOD’s HPM [high-power microwave] programs… makes public and academic examination of these programs problematic.”

The first DoD laser weapon ever to be approved for operational use was deployed aboard the USS Ponce (now decommissioned), according to the U.S. Navy.

See U.S. Army Weapons-Related Directed Energy (DE) Programs: Background and Potential Issues for Congress by Andrew Feickert, February 7, 2018.

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations, February 8, 2018

Iran: Politics, Human Rights, and U.S. Policy, February 8, 2018

Yemen: Civil War and Regional Intervention, February 7, 2018

Rwanda: In Brief, February 7, 2018

The 10-20-30 Plan and Persistent Poverty Counties, February 8, 2018

Medicare Trigger, February 8, 2018

Women in Congress, 1917-2018: Service Dates and Committee Assignments by Member, and Lists by State and Congress, February 6, 2018

Federal Spending on Benefits and Services for People with Low Income: In Brief, February 6, 2018

Introduction to U.S. Economy: The Business Cycle and Growth, CRS In Focus, December 13, 2017


Soldiers need to be able to communicate on a noisy, dangerous battlefield even when conventional means of communication are unavailable.

The US Army has just updated its compilation of hand and flag signals to help meet that need.

One configuration of flags signifies “Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear hazard present”:

Or a soldier may need to signal “I do not understand,” like this:

See Visual Signals for Armor Fighting Vehicles (Combined Arms), GTA 17-02-019, US Army, February 2018.


Germany averaged four anti-Semitic crimes per day in 2017, report says

Police logged over 1,400 crimes targeting Jews in Germany last year, according to a newspaper report. The vast majority of the crimes were carried out by right-wing extremists or people with far-right tendencies.

February 11, 2018

by Rebecca Staudenmaier


The rising trend of anti-Semitic crimes in Germany shows no signs of abating, according to a newspaper report on last year’s crime statistics that was published on Sunday.

In 2017, German police registered a total of 1,453 crimes that targeted Jews or Jewish institutions, reported German newspaper Tagesspiegel, citing figures from the German government. The data was compiled in response to an inquiry from Bundestag vice president and Left party lawmaker Petra Pau.

Last year’s crimes included 32 acts of violence, 160 instances of property damage, and 898 cases of incitement.

The German government expects the figures to rise even further since the data provided by the states is not yet final, the paper said.

Far-right motives in a majority of cases

In 1,377 of the cases — 95 percent of the total — police determined that a right-wing motive had driven the crimes.

Police attributed 33 of the offenses to foreign-born anti-Semites, not including Islamists

In 1,377 of the cases — 95 percent of the total — police determined that a right-wing motive had driven the crimes.

Police attributed 33 of the offenses to foreign-born anti-Semites, not including Islamists.

‘Because you’re a Jew’ – The story of an anti-Semitism victim

Another 25 of the cases were “religiously motivated,” including those involving either foreign-born or German Muslims with extremist beliefs, according to the Tagesspiegel report.

In 17 of the cases, authorities were unable to determine a political motive behind the crime. Police determined a left-wing motive in one case of incitement.

Pau, who initiated the anti-Semitic crime inquiry, said she was deeply concerned about last year’s figures. Speaking with Tagesspiegel, Pau noted that “the number of unreported cases could be considerably higher” since many of those affected are reluctant to report the crime.

Last month, German lawmakers passed a bill to implement tougher laws to tackle anti-Semitism, including the creation of a commissioner post to develop and carry out a strategy for rooting out anti-Semitic sentiment and crime.


109 Locations from whence Jews have been expelled since AD 250



YEAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..PLACE


250 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Carthage

415 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Alexandria

554 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Diocèse of Clermont (France)

561 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Diocèse of Uzès (France)

612 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Visigoth Spain

642 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Visigoth Empire

855 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Italy

876 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Sens

1012 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Mainz

1182 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – France

1182 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Germany

1276 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Upper Bavaria

1290 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – England

1306 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – France

1322 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – France (again)

1348 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Switzerland

1349 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Hielbronn (Germany)

1349 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Saxony

1349 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Hungary

1360 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Hungary

1370 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Belgium

1380 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Slovakia

1388 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Strasbourg

1394 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Germany

1394 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – France

1420 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Lyons

1421 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Austria

1424 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Fribourg

1424 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Zurich

1424 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Cologne

1432 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Savoy

1438 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Mainz

1439 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Augsburg

1442 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Netherlands

1444 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Netherlands

1446 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Bavaria

1453 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – France

1453 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Breslau

1454 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Wurzburg

1462 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Mainz

1483 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Mainz

1484 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Warsaw

1485 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Vincenza (Italy)

1492 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Spain

1492 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Italy

1495 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Lithuania

1496 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Naples

1496 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Portugal

1498 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Nuremberg

1498 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Navarre

1510 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Brandenberg

1510 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Prussia

1514 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Strasbourg

1515 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Genoa

1519 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Regensburg

1533 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Naples

1541 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Naples

1542 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Prague & Bohemia

1550 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Genoa

1551 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Bavaria

1555 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Pesaro

1557 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Prague

1559 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Austria

1561 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Prague

1567 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Wurzburg

1569 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Papal States

1571 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Brandenburg

1582 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Netherlands

1582 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Hungary

1593 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Brandenburg, Austria

1597 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Cremona, Pavia & Lodi

1614 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Frankfort

1615 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Worms

1619 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Kiev

1648 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Ukraine

1648 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Poland

1649 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Hamburg

1654 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Little Russia (Beylorus)

1656 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Lithuania

1669 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Oran (North Africa)

1669 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Vienna

1670 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Vienna

1712 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Sandomir

1727 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Russia

1738 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Wurtemburg

1740 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Little Russia (Beylorus)

1744 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Prague, Bohemia

1744 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Slovakia

1744 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Livonia

1745 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Moravia

1753 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Kovad (Lithuania)

1761 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Bordeau

1772 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –   Russian Jews Deported to the Pale

of Settlement(Poland/Russia)

1775 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Warsaw

1789 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Alsace

1804 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Villages in Russia

1808 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Villages & Countrysides (Russia)

1815 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Lübeck & Bremen

1815 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Franconia, Swabia & Bavaria

1820 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Bremen

1843 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Russian Border Austria & Prussia

1862 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Areas in the U.S. under General                                                                                                Grant’s Jurisdiction[1]

1866 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Galatz, Romania

1880s – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Russia

1891 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Moscow

1919 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Bavaria (foreign born Jews)

1938-45 – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  Nazi Controlled Areas

1948 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Arab Countries

[1] On December 17, 1862, General Ulysses Grant wrote to the Assistant Adjutant General of the US Army:

“I have long since believed that in spite of all the vigilance that can be infused into post commanders, the specie regulations of the Treasury Department have been violated, and that mostly by the Jews and other unprincipled traders. So well satisfied have I been of this that I instructed the commanding officer at Columbus to refuse all permits to Jews to come South, and I have frequently had them expelled from the department. But they come in with their carpet-sacks in spite of all that can be done to prevent it. The Jews seem to be a privileged class that can travel anywhere. They will land at any woodyard on the river and make their way through the country. If not permitted to buy cotton themselves, they will act as agents for someone else, who will be at a military post with a Treasury permit to receive cotton and pay for it in Treasury notes which the Jew will buy at an agreed rate, paying gold.”

Also, on December 17, 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant issued General Orders No. 11. This order banished all Jews from Tennessee’s western military.

General Orders No. 11 declared:

“1. The Jews, as a class, violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department, are hereby expelled from the Department.

“2. Within 24 hours from the receipt of this order by Post Commanders, they will see that all of this class of people are furnished with passes required to leave, and anyone returning after such notification, will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permits from these headquarters.

“3. No permits will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application for trade permits.

“By order of Major Gen. Grant.

“Jno. A. Rawlings,


Trump reveals plan to repair America’s creaky infrastructure

To tackle America’s crumbling bridges, roads and airports, the US president prioritizes infrastructure spending. Critics say Trump’s plan is just one-tenth of what is needed to address the problem

February 12, 2018


US President Donald Trump urged Congress to pass what he called “the biggest and boldest” infrastructure plan. He unveiled his second budget on Monday, which emphasized a $200-billion (€163-billion) pledge to deal with the country’s decaying highways, airports, seaports and sewage networks.

The funds, which will be released over a 10-year period, are intended to undo decades of massive under-investment in infrastructure by Washington, which has led to a third of major roads falling into disrepair, and one in 10 bridges becoming structurally deficient.

The White House said over the weekend that the federal funds are part of a larger $1.5-trillion plan that is expected to be met by the private sector, and at the state level.

In addition, Trump’s administration said it would eliminate bureaucracy that often delays new projects being completed.

Ahead of the budget reveal, Trump tweeted:”This will be a big week for infrastructure!”

But critics say the proposal will fail without a much higher federal investment, pointing out that half of the $200 billion will be used as incentives to help states and cities fund their own projects.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s plan “shifts the burden onto cities and states.”

The Democrats have called for any plan to include opportunities to raise new tax revenues, which could mean raising the federal gas (petrol) tax.

But with the US federal deficit forecast by the White House to balloon to at least $984 billion next year, analysts believe Trump has little room for maneuver and will need to encourage private investors to plug the gap.

58,000 failing bridgesThe scale of America’s failing infrastructure was highlighted in a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which gave the nation a grade of D+ for the state of highways, railways, bridges and other large public works.

It said the Trump plan would need a commitment of at least $2 trillion more than what is currently budgeted, US public broadcaster NPR reported.

The proposals are likely to face a difficult path to approval because of mid-term US Senate and congressional elections, which are set for November.

The infrastructure plan is part of Trump’s proposals for a $4.4-trillion budget for next year, which will see the federal deficit rise sharply higher, and which will do little to meet the president’s promise of 2017 to balance the budget by the end of his second term, should he be elected again.

But the White House said over the weekend that the budget contains measures to lower the deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has estimated that the spending plan passed by Congress last week to avoid a long-term government shutdown will alone increase the deficit by $420 billion over a decade.

Elsewhere in the budget proposals, Trump called for $686 billion for the Pentagon, which would lift spending year over year, but would still fall short of campaign promises for a rebuilding of the Navy and an “historic increase in military spending.”

Mexico wall

Border security had been assigned $23 billion, including $18 billion for a much-hyped wall along the US-Mexico border to keep out illegal migrants.

Trump’s plan sees US real GDP growth at 3.0 percent this year and 3.2 percent in 2019, continuing low inflation, and low interest on US Treasury bills despite a flood of new borrowing. This is likely to be rounded upon by critics who say it underestimates the mounting cost of financing the government’s $20 trillion-plus debt.


Trump’s infrastructure blueprint ‘a scam’

February 12, 2018

BBC News

US President Donald Trump has unveiled his long-touted plan to revamp US infrastructure, but critics labelled it a “scam”.

Mr Trump wants Congress to authorise $200bn (£144bn) over a decade to spend on roads, highways, ports and airports.

The president hopes the US states and private sector will stimulate another $1.3tn in improvements.

The plan was a Trump election promise, but it could entail Americans paying higher local taxes, fees and tolls.

The blueprint is part of a $4.4tn budget proposal which abandons the long-held Republican goal of balancing the federal budget within a decade.

“We have spent $7 trillion in the Middle East, $7 trillion. What a mistake,” Mr Trump said at the White House on Monday.

“And we’re trying to build roads and bridges and fix bridges that are falling down and we have a hard time getting the money and its crazy.”

What’s in the blueprint?

A senior administration official who briefed reporters over the weekend said the $200bn investment would be paid for “out of savings from other areas of the federal budget”.

The plan calls for $50bn of public funding dedicated to modernising infrastructure in rural areas, many of which voted for Mr Trump in the 2016 elections.

The proposal includes $100bn for an incentives programme “to spur additional dedicated funds from States, localities, and the private sector”.

The administration also seeks $20bn in loans and bonds to finance projects including transportation and water.

The blueprint allows states to add or increase tolls on inter-state highways, and to charge fees to use highway rest areas.

However, it bans states from charging for “essential services such as water or access to restrooms”.

The plan also seeks to reduce the time required to obtain environmental permits.

The Trump administration is planning to sell off Reagan National and Dulles International airports near Washington DC as part of the proposal.

“The Federal Government owns and operates certain infrastructure that would be more appropriately owned by State, local, or private entities,” the plan says.

Presentational grey line

A legislative bridge to nowhere?

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

If there’s one thing politicians love, it’s infrastructure spending. It creates jobs, pleases businesses and gives officeholders something tangible to point to when constituents ask what they’ve done for them lately. So it’s quite a remarkable achievement for the Trump administration to have come up with an infrastructure plan that will likely be of limited popularity and difficult to pass in Congress.

The main problem for the White House is that the proposal allocates no new funds for bridges, railways, roads and tunnels. Instead, it recommends taking money out of other government programmes – although it leaves to Congress the unenviable task of determining what gets the axe.

In addition, the plan leans heavily on states and localities to pick up the tab for the projects. Their budgets are always tight, and recent cuts to federal deductions for state and local taxes will make it harder to raise revenue.

Then there’s the private funding component of the proposal. While it seems attractive in theory, tolls and fees that line corporate pockets have long been unpopular with Americans.

This doesn’t mean an infrastructure bill won’t happen. Chances are, however, what Congress passes will look very different from what was presented on Monday.

Presentational grey line

What’s the response?

The plan already faces stiff opposition.

It does not offer as much new federal funding as Democrats seek. They have advocated public infrastructure investment of five times the amount just proposed by Mr Trump.

“After a full year of empty boasts, the president has finally unveiled a puny infrastructure scam that fully fails to meet the need in America’s communities,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

On the right, deficit hawks are likely to baulk at any new spending unless savings can found elsewhere in the budget.

Some critics say the administration’s plan is a bid to privatise the nation’s infrastructure, shifting the cost burden on to states, which would pass it on to citizens.

Environmentalists say the proposal to streamline the review process for permits would increase risks to vulnerable wildlife.


US trade deficit surges during Trump’s first year in office

Since Donald Trump has made narrowing the American trade gap the signature issue of his presidency, he may not like the recent figures that show the deficit to be widening again, especially with China and Mexico.

February 6, 2018


US President Donald Trump’s first year in office saw the US trade gap leap to its highest level in seven years due to record imports. According to the fresh figures released by the US Commerce Department on Tuesday, the annual trade deficit in 2017 rose 12.1 percent, or $61.2 billion (€49.5 billion), to reach $566 billion.

The deficit grew especially strongly in the final month of the year, adding 5.3 percent to reach $53.1 billion in December, the highest since October 2008.

The news is likely to annoy US President Donald Trump, who has made narrowing the US trade deficit with the rest of the world one of his main goals. To achieve this, he has threatened to cancel trade agreements such as the TPP (Trans-Pacitic Partnership) with Pacific Rim countries and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. He has also ratcheted up protectionist rhetoric towards China.

Nevertheless, the goods trade deficit with Mexico increased to $71 billion, while that with China rose by $375 billion — the highest level on record.

US demand rising

Economists said the rise in the US trade deficit was mainly the result of higher demand from consumers and companies, showing that the US economy gathered speed in 2017. However, a broadening trade gap could also weigh on future growth as it might indicate a loss of US competitiveness.

For the time being though, it should not provide reason to worry because growing imports went along with rising US exports last year. Total US exports of goods and services in 2017 rose 5.5 percent to $2.3 trillion, their second highest level on record.

The US posted all-time record goods exports to 29 countries, with $243 billion exported to Mexico, $130 billion to China and $56.3 billion to the United Kingdom.

Imports rose faster though, climbing 6.7 percent for the year to reach $2.9 trillion, the highest level ever, according to the Commerce Department.


As Trump gambles with more economic stimulus, the Fed is poised to counter inflation

February 12, 2018

by Jason Lange


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump with his budget proposal raises his bet that he will boost the economy before high inflation and interest rates get in the way.

Congress has already given him tax cuts and increased deficit spending that is expected to stimulate the economy.

But here’s the risk: Trump’s stimulus could boost hiring without triggering the kinds of company investments that make workers more productive. With workers in short supply in many industries, the wages that are now increasing could get eaten away by higher inflation.

Trump’s $4.4 trillion budget proposal, unveiled on Monday, suggests Congress could cut the federal budget deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years. That’s unlikely.

The budget proposal follows business and household tax cuts enacted last month and a federal funding law passed last week that could push budget deficits to around $1 trillion a year.

The 2019 fiscal budget that Trump just submitted asks for $200 billion for infrastructure spending over 10 years, $18 billion over two years for his wall along the Mexican border and $13 billion to deal with the opioid crisis. It also provides for $716 billion for military programs and for maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

“If it doesn’t work, we get a larger hole in the long-term budget and no productivity growth,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former White House chief economist under Republican President George W. Bush. “That would be a bad outcome.”

He said this was a necessary gamble. Yes, the additional stimulus might push inflation too high, which would trigger aggressive rate hikes by the independent Federal Reserve. But price gains might also remain modest, Holtz-Eakin said.

Holtz-Eakin and other conservative economists view cutting taxes for businesses as America’s best chance for long-term growth. With higher economic growth, Washington might be able to tame budget deficits and avoid an eventual crisis over its $20.5 trillion debt. He says the tax cuts for households were economically unnecessary given current strength in the labor market.

Implicit in Trump’s new proposal is a very optimistic economic growth projection of 3 percent a year over the next 10 years. That is well above the roughly 2 percent congressional and private analysts have been predicting.

The Fed is watching Trump’s stimulative gamble closely. Policymakers say the Fed could accelerate its pace of interest rate hikes if inflation shows signs of taking off.

In the short term, surging deficits raise inflation risks with the jobless rate near a 17-year low. One way to draw workers to a job or retain them is to raise pay.

“Because of that, it is important that the (Fed) continues” raising rates, Kansas City Fed President Esther George said in a speech on Thursday.

Fed policymakers track corporate investments because spending on machinery, R&D and other boosters that make workers more productive can help companies contain costs and reduce inflation pressures.

A Chicago Federal Reserve Bank survey last month found companies expect to spend only a quarter of tax savings on capital investments. About 60 percent would be used to pay down debt, fund mergers and return money to shareholders. The remaining 15 percent would be spent hiring workers or raising wages.

Fed policymakers also worry that unchecked deficits could lead investors to bid up interest rates, making it harder for the government to pay its debts.

“That could make the Federal Reserve’s job more difficult,” New York Fed President William Dudley told Bloomberg in an interview on Thursday, citing projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office for federal debt servicing costs to double over the next 10 years.

Over the long run, higher interest rates could counter all of Trump’s fiscal stimulus, said Jason Furman, a White House chief economist under former Democratic President Barack Obama.

Inflation rates and unemployment rates would be at similar levels, but higher interest rates would crimp future investments.

“The short run might be okay. But it chips away at our wealth in the long run,” Furman said.

Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Damon Darlin and Chizu Nomiyama


The Strategy of Maximal Extraction

How Donald Trump Plans to Enlist Fossil Fuels in the Struggle for Global Dominance

February 12, 2018

by Michael T. Klare

Tom Dispatch

The new U.S. energy policy of the Trump era is, in some ways, the oldest energy policy on Earth. Every great power has sought to mobilize the energy resources at its command, whether those be slaves, wind-power, coal, or oil, to further its hegemonic ambitions. What makes the Trumpian variant — the unfettered exploitation of America’s fossil-fuel reserves — unique lies only in the moment it’s being applied and the likely devastation that will result, thanks not only to the 1950s-style polluting of America’s air, waters, and urban environment, but to the devastating hand it will lend to a globally warming world.

Last month, if you listened to the chatter among elite power brokers at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, you would have heard a lot of bragging about the immense progress being made in renewable energy.  “My government has planned a major campaign,” said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the group.  “By 2022, we want to generate 175 gigawatts of renewable energy; in the last three years, we have already achieved 60 gigawatts, or around one-third of this target.”  Other world leaders also boasted of their achievements in speeding the installation of wind and solar energy.  Even the energy minister of oil-rich Saudi Arabia, Khalid Al-Falih, announced plans for a $30 billion to $50 billion investment in solar power.  Only one major figure defied this trend: U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.  The United States, he insisted, is “blessed” with “a substantial ability to deliver the people of the globe a better quality of life through fossil fuels.”

A better quality of life through fossil fuels? On this, he and his Trump administration colleagues now stand essentially alone on planet Earth.  Virtually every other country has by now chosen — via the Paris climate accord and efforts like those under way in India — to speed the transition from a carbon-based energy economy to a renewable one.

A possible explanation for this: Donald Trump’s indebtedness to the very fossil fuel interests that helped propel him into office.  Think, for example, of his interior secretary’s recent decision to open much of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to offshore drilling (long sought by the oil and gas industry) or his administration’s moves to lift restrictions on coal mining on federal lands (long favored by the coal industry).  Both were clearly acts of payback.  Still, far more than subservience to oil and coal barons lurks in Trump’s energy policy (and Perry’s words).  From the White House perspective, the U.S. is engaged in a momentous struggle for global power with rival nations and, it is claimed, the country’s abundance of fossil fuels affords it a vital edge.  The more of those fuels America produces and exports, the greater its stature in a competitive world system, which is precisely why maximizing such output has already become a major pillar of President Trump’s national security policy.

He laid out his dystopian world vision (and that of the generals he’s put in charge of what was once known as American “foreign policy”) in a December 18th address announcing the release of the administration’s new National Security Strategy (NSS) document.  “Whether we like it or not,” he asserted, “we are engaged in a new era of competition.” The U.S. faces “rogue regimes” like Iran and North Korea and “rival powers, Russia and China, that seek to challenge American influence, values, and wealth.”  In such an intensely competitive world, he added, “we will stand up for ourselves, and we will stand up for our country like we have never stood up before… Our rivals are tough.  They’re tenacious and committed to the long term. But so are we.”

To Trump and his generals, we’ve been plunged into a world that bears little relation to the one faced by the last two administrations, when great-power conflict was rarely the focus of attention and civilian society remained largely insulated from the pressures of the country’s never-ending wars.  Today, they believe, the U.S. can no longer afford to distinguish between “the homeland” and foreign battle zones when girding for years of struggle to come. “To succeed,” the president concluded, “we must integrate every dimension of our national strength, and we must compete with every instrument of our national power.”

And that’s where, in the Trumpian worldview, energy enters the picture.

Energy Dominance

From the onset of his presidency, Donald Trump has made it clear that cheap and abundant domestic energy derived from fossil fuels was going to be the crucial factor in his total-mobilization approach to global engagement. In his view and that of his advisers, it’s the essential element in ensuring national economic vitality, military strength, and geopolitical clout, whatever damage it might cause to American life, the global environment, or even the future of human life on this planet.  The exploitation and wielding of fossil fuels now sits at the very heart of the Trumpian definition of national security, as the recently released NSS makes all too clear.

“Access to domestic sources of clean, affordable, and reliable energy underpins a prosperous, secure, and powerful America for decades to come,” it states.  “Unleashing these abundant energy resources — coal, natural gas, petroleum, renewables, and nuclear — stimulates the economy and builds a foundation for future growth.”

So, yes, the document does pay lip service to the role of renewables, though no one should take that seriously given, for instance, the president’s recent decision to place high tariffs on imported solar panels, an act likely to cripple the domestic solar-installation industry.  What really matters to Trump are those domestic reserves of fossil fuels.  Only by using them to gain energy self-sufficiency, or what he trumpets not just as “energy independence” but total “energy dominance,” can the U.S. avoid becoming beholden to foreign powers and so protect its sovereignty.  That’s why he regularly hails the successes of the “shale revolution,” the use of fracking technology to extract oil and gas from deeply buried shale formations.  As he sees it, fracking to the max makes America that much less dependent on foreign imports.

It follows then that the ability to supply fossil fuels to other countries will be a source of geopolitical advantage, a reality made painfully clear early in this century when Russia exploited its status as a major supplier of natural gas to Ukraine, Belarus, and other former Soviet republics to try to extract political concessions from them.  Donald Trump absorbed that lesson and incorporated it into his strategic playbook.

“Our country is blessed with extraordinary energy abundance,” he declared at an “Unleashing American Energy Event” last June. “We are a top producer of petroleum and the number-one producer of natural gas… With these incredible resources, my administration will seek not only American energy independence that we’ve been looking for so long, but American energy dominance. And we’re going to be an exporter… We will be dominant. We will export American energy all over the world, all around the globe.”

Attaining Energy Dominance

In energy terms, what does dominant mean in practice?  For President Trump and his cohorts, it means above all the “unleashing” of the country’s energy abundance by eliminating every imaginable regulatory impediment to the exploitation of domestic reserves of fossil fuels.  After all, America possesses some of the largest reservoirs of oil, coal, and natural gas on the planet and, by applying every technological marvel at its disposal, can maximally extract those reserves to enhance national power.

“The truth is that we have near-limitless supplies of energy in our country,” he declared last June.  All that stood in the way of exploiting them when he entered the Oval Office, he insisted, were environmental regulations imposed by the Obama administration.  “We cannot have obstruction. Since my very first day in office, I have been moving at record pace to cancel these regulations and to eliminate the barriers to domestic energy production.”  He then cited his approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, the cancellation of a moratorium on the leasing of federal lands for coal mining, the reversal of an Obama administration rule aimed at preventing methane leakage from natural gas production on federal lands, and the rollback of Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which (if implemented) would require sharp cuts in coal usage.  And from the recent opening of the pristine Alaskan Arctic Refuge to that of those coastal waters to every kind of drilling, it’s never ended.

Closely related to such actions has been his repudiation of the Paris Agreement, because — as he saw it — that pact, too, stood in the way of his plan to “unleash” domestic energy in the pursuit of international power. By withdrawing from the agreement, he claimed to be preserving American “sovereignty,” while opening the path to a new kind of global energy dominance. “We have so much more [energy] than we ever thought possible,” he asserted.  “We are really in the driving seat.  And you know what? We don’t want to let other countries take away our sovereignty and tell us what to do and how to do it.  That’s not going to happen.”

Never mind that the Paris agreement in no way intruded on American sovereignty. It only obligated its partners — at this point, every country on Earth except the United States — to enact its own greenhouse gas emissions reduction measures aimed at preventing global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above their pre-industrial levels. (That is the biggest increase scientists believe the planet can absorb without experiencing truly catastrophic impacts like a 10-foot rise in global sea levels).  In the Obama years, in its own self-designed blueprint for achieving this goal, the United States promised, among other things, to implement the Clean Power Plan to minimize the consumption of coal, itself already a dying industry. This, of course, represented an unacceptable impediment to Trump’s extract-everything policy.

The final step in the president’s strategy to become a major exporter involves facilitating the transport of fossil fuels to the country’s coastal areas for shipment abroad.  In this way, he would also turn the government into a major global salesman of fossil fuels (as it already is, for instance, of American weaponry).  To do so, he would expedite the approval of permits for the export of LNG, or liquefied natural gas, and even for some new types of “lower emissions” coal plants. The Department of the Treasury, he revealed in that June talk of his, “will address barriers to the financing of highly efficient, overseas coal energy plants.” In addition, he claimed that the Ukrainians tell us “they need millions and millions of metric tons [of coal] right now.  There are many other places that need it, too.  And we want to sell it to them, and to everyone else all over the globe who need[s] it.”  He also announced the approval of expanded LNG exports from a new facility at Lake Charles, Louisiana, and of a new oil pipeline to Mexico, meant to “further boost American energy exports, and that will go right under the [as yet unbuilt] wall.”

Such energy moves have generally been viewed as part of a pro-industry, anti-environmentalist agenda, which they certainly are, but each is also a component in an increasingly militarized strategy to enlist domestic energy in an epic struggle — at least in the minds of the president and his advisers — to ensure America’s global dominance.

Where All This Is Headed

Trump achieved many of these maximal-extraction objectives during his first year in office.  Now, with fossil fuels uniquely imbedded in the country’s National Security Strategy, we have a clearer sense of what’s happening.  First of all, along with the further funding of the U.S. military (and of the “modernization” of the country’s nuclear arsenal), Donald Trump and his generals are making fossil fuels a crucial ingredient for bulking up our national security.  In that way, they will turn anything (or any group) standing in the way of the extraction and exploitation of oil, coal, and natural gas into obstructers of the national interest and, quite literally, of American national security.

In other words, the expansion of the fossil fuel industry and its exports has been transformed into a major component of American foreign and security policy.  Of course, such developments and the exports that go with them do generate income and sustain some jobs, but in the Trumpian view they also boost the country’s geopolitical profile by encouraging foreign friends and partners to rely ever more heavily on us for their energy needs, rather than adversaries like Russia or Iran.  “As a growing supplier of energy resources, technologies, and services around the world,” the NSS declares without a hint of irony, “the United States will help our allies and partners become more resilient against those that use energy to coerce.”

As the Trump administration moves forward on all this, the key battlefield will undoubtedly be the building and maintaining of energy infrastructure — the pipelines and railroads carrying oil, gas, and coal from the American interior to processing and export facilities on the coasts.  Because so many of the country’s large cities and population centers are on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, or the Gulf of Mexico, and because the country has long depended on imports for much of its petroleum supply, a surprising share of existing energy infrastructure — refineries, LNG facilities, pumping stations, and the like — is already located along those same coasts.  Yet much of the energy supply Trump seeks to exploit — the shale fields of Texas and North Dakota, the coal fields of Nebraska — is located in the interior of the country.  For his strategy to succeed, such resource zones must be connected far more effectively to coastal facilities via a mammoth web of new pipelines and other transport infrastructure. All of this will cost vast sums of money and lead to intense clashes with environmentalists, Native peoples, farmers, ranchers, and others whose lands and way of life will be severely degraded when that kind of construction takes place, and who can be expected to resist.

For Trump, the road ahead is clear: do whatever it takes to install the infrastructure needed to deliver those fossil fuels abroad.  Not surprisingly then, the National Security Strategy asserts that “we will streamline the Federal regulatory approval processes for energy infrastructure, from pipeline and export terminals to container shipments and gathering lines.”  This is bound to provoke numerous conflicts with environmental groups and other inhabitants of what Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything, calls “Blockadia” — places like the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota, where thousands of Native people and their supporters camped out last year in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to block construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.  Given the administration’s insistence on linking energy extraction to U.S. security, don’t for a moment imagine that attempts to protest such moves won’t be met with harsh treatment from federal law enforcement agencies.

Building all of that infrastructure will also prove expensive, so expect President Trump to make pipeline construction integral to any infrastructure modernization bill he sends to Congress, thereby securing taxpayer dollars for the effort.  Indeed, the inclusion of pipeline construction and other kinds of energy build-out in any future infrastructure initiative is already a major objective of influential business groups like the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Rebuilding roads and bridges is fine, commented Thomas Donohue, the Chamber’s influential president, but “we’re also living in the midst of an energy renaissance, yet we don’t have the infrastructure to support it.” As a result, he added, we must “build the pipelines necessary to transport our abundant resources to market.”  Given the influence such corporate interests have over this White House and congressional Republicans, it’s reasonable to assume that any bill on infrastructure revitalization will be, at least in part, energy focused.

And keep in mind that for President Trump, with his thoroughly fossil-fuelized view of the world, this is just the beginning. Issues that may be viewed by others as environmental or even land-conservation matters will be seen by him and his associates as so many obstacles to national security and greatness.  Facing what will almost certainly be a series of unparalleled potential environmental disasters, those who oppose him will also have to contest his view of the world and the role fossil fuels should play in it.

Selling more of them to foreign buyers, while attempting to stifle the development of renewals (and thereby ceding those true job-creating sectors of the economy to other countries) may be good for giant oil and coal corporations, but it won’t win America any friends abroad at a moment when climate change is becoming a growing concern for ever more people on this planet. With prolonged droughts, increasingly severe storms and hurricanes, and killer heat waves affecting ever-larger swaths of the planet, with sea levels rising and extreme weather becoming the norm, the urge for progress on climate change is only growing stronger, as is the demand for climate-friendly renewables.

Donald Trump and his administration of climate-change deniers are quite literally living in the wrong century.  The militarization of energy policy at this late date and the lodging of fossil fuels at the heart of national security policy may seem appealing to them, but it’s an approach that’s obviously doomed.  On arrival, it is, in fact, already the definition of obsolescence.

Unfortunately, given the circumstances of this planet at the moment, it also threatens to doom the rest of us.  The further we look into the future, the more likely international leadership will fall on the shoulders of those who can effectively and efficiently deliver renewables, not those who can provide climate-poisoning fossil fuels.  That being so, no one seeking global prestige would say at Davos or anywhere else that we are blessed with “a substantial ability to deliver the people of the globe a better quality of life through fossil fuels.”




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