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TBR News September 18, 2018

Sep 18 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. September 18, 2018 : “Because of the growing, and serious, public discontent that had been manifested during the course of the Vietnamese War from 1950 through 1973, the American governmental establishment resolved to take steps to recognize, infiltrate and neutralize any significant future national anti-government actions.

Once the most powerful nation, the United States is rapidly losing its premier position in the international sphere while at the same time facing a potential serious anti-government political movement developing in that country. The number of unemployed in the United States today is approximately 97,000,000. Official American sources claim that employment is always improving but in fact it is not. Most official governmental releases reflect wishful thinking or are designed to placate the public

This situation is caused by the movement, by management, of manufacturing businesses to foreign labor markets. While these removals can indeed save the companies a great deal of expenditure on domestic labor, by sharply reducing their former worker bodies to a small number, the companies have reduced the number of prospective purchasers of expensive items like automobiles.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 26
  • Kavanaugh claims give vulnerable Democrats in Senate cover to oppose him
  • Putin sees chance circumstances behind downing of Russian plane in Syria
  • Yemen’s Descent into Hell
  • Time to Kill the Zombie Argument: Another Study Shows Trump Won Because of Racial Anxieties — Not Economic Distress
  • Exclusive: US police ‘using Tiger Text app to conceal evidence’
  • New Tesla killer: Audi’s all-electric crossover may devour Elon Musk’s lunch

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 26 August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

 

  • Aug 23, 2017

Phoenix crowd last night was amazing – a packed house.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: It was not a packed house. Numerous photographs showed wide expanses of empty space, room for hundreds or thousands more people, at the back of the room.

 

“We do not have to accept the economic decay of once-thriving hubs of industry where they leave and they let all those jobs go. And those companies move to other countries. We’ve stopped that flow, and companies are now coming back into the United States.”

Source: Speech to the American Legion

in fact: Trump has not “stopped” corporate offshoring. Companies continue to move jobs and operations abroad.

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

 

  • Aug 28, 2017

“As you know, I have General Kelly here. We stopped traffic coming through — 78 per cent. In other administrations, if they stopped it just a little bit, like one, or two, or three per cent, they considered that a great thing. ”

Source: Joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto

in fact: Trump is falsely suggesting that there were never significant declines in the number of apprehensions on the southwestern border under previous administrations. As PolitiFact noted, the number of apprehensions on the southwest border fell from 1.6 million in 1986 to an average under 500,000 during Barack Obama’s tenure. At various points during Obama’s tenure, there were reductions from the previous year’s apprehension numbers.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

 

“As you know, Mexico has a tremendous crime problem — tremendous — one of the number two or three in the world.”

Source: Joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto

in fact: According to United Nations homicide-rate figures, Mexico is not even in the 15 deadliest countries in the world. Trump appeared to be referring to a study he previously shared on Twitter, which concluded that Mexico had the second-most “armed conflict fatalities” in the world in 2016. But its methodology and conclusion were widely questioned, and the organization behind the study, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, later acknowledged it had made an error. “We accept there was a methodological flaw in our calculation of estimated conflict fatalities that requires revision. Our researchers are working to rectify this and we will share the results in due course,” the organization said in a statement in June.

 

“One of the things that is happening is you’re purchasing large amounts of our great F-18 aircraft from Boeing, and it’s one of the great planes, one of the great fighter jets.”

Source: Joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto

in fact: As Finland’s president and other top Finnish officials quickly noted, Finland has not decided to buy F-18s; it is still in the midst of a process of deciding how to replace its old fighter jets. “President Trump’s remarks are baffling. There are still years to run in the fighter replacement competition before a final decision is reached,” Matti Vanhanen, chairman of the Finnish national parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told Defense News.

 

“Finland has been free of Russia, really — just about one of the few countries in the region that has been — for 100 years.”

Source: Joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto

in fact: The Soviet Union invaded Finland in 1939, 78 years ago, for what was known as the Winter War. They then fought another war, the Continuation War, from 1941 to 1944; the peace treaty was not signed until 1947, 70 years ago.

 

“President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who leaked countless sensitive and classified documents to WikiLeaks, perhaps and others. But a horrible, horrible thing that he did. Commuted the sentence and perhaps pardoned.”

Source: Joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto

in fact: Trump is correct that Obama commuted Manning’s sentence, but he is incorrect to say Obama “perhaps pardoned” her.

 

“Then you have dangerous criminals. President Clinton pardoned Susan Rosenberg, a member of the Weather Underground, charged as part of a bank robbery that led to a guard and two police officers being killed.”

Source: Joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto

in fact: Clinton did not pardon Rosenberg; he commuted her sentence after she served 16 years in prison.

 

  • Sep 2, 2017

 

“I hear the Coast Guard saved 11,000 people. Think of it: almost 11,000 people — by going into winds that the media would not go into. They will not go into those winds. Unless it’s a really good story, in which case they will.”

Source: Remarks to members of the military on Hurricane Harvey

in fact: Numerous members of the media did brave the winds of the hurricane to report from Houston. “We were literally on the helicopter with them,” said Huffington Post journalist Andy Campbell. While reporters were obviously less mobile during the storm than the highly equipped U.S. military, Trump was incorrect in suggesting members of the media were unwilling to put themselves in harm’s way.

 

“The tax code is so complicated that more than 90 per cent of Americans need professional help to do their own taxes.”

Source: Speech on tax reform

in fact: Trump was implying that more than 90 per cent of Americans are being forced to use accountants to do to their taxes; he decried the need for accountants in his next two paragraphs. But his figure is misleading. As the Washington Post noted, “the 90 per cent figure he is referring to includes people using tax software, such as Turbo Tax, which helps people file their taxes on their own”; according to the National Taxpayer Advocate, the Post noted, 54 per cent of individual taxpayers, not 90 per cent, pay people to prepare their taxes.

 

“Because of our high tax rate and horrible, outdated, bureaucratic rules, large companies that do business overseas will often park their profits offshore to avoid paying a high United States tax if the money is brought back home. So they leave the money over there. The amount of money we’re talking about is anywhere from $3 trillion to $5 trillion.”

Source: Speech on tax reform

in fact: No expert or organization has issued an estimate even close to $5 trillion; the Joint Committee on Taxation released an estimate of $2.6 trillion in August 2016, and experts said they were not aware of a massive jump in the following 12 months. “I do not know of anyone who increased the estimate so much recently,” said Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center. “Like many things, I assume he made this up on the fly,” said another expert on the subject, who requested anonymity.

Trump has repeated this claim 32 times

 

“Because of this and other reasons, like weak borders, America remains stuck in the past. Although I have to tell you, we have General Kelly here today, and we stopped 78 per cent — going up to 80 percent — on the border traffic coming through, in just a short period of time.”

Source: Speech on tax reform

in fact: Trump and others use the number of apprehensions on the southwestern border as a way to measure illegal immigration. Comparing the five full months of Trump’s tenure — February through June — to the same months in 2016, apprehensions were down 58 per cent, not 78 per cent. There has never been any basis for Trump’s oft-repeated “78 per cent” figure.

Trump has repeated this claim 12 times

 

“In the last 10 years, our economy has grown at only around 2 per cent a year. If you look at other countries and you look at what their GDP is, they’re unhappy when it’s 7, 8, 9. And I speak to them — leaders of the countries — how are you doing? ‘Not well, not well.’ Why? ‘GDP is down to seven per cent.'”

Source: Speech on tax reform

in fact: We do not have definitive proof, but we can safely conclude that such conversations have not happened — though Trump has been telling versions of this story since his campaign. No other developed country is growing at 8 per cent or 9 per cent; growth in even China and India is below 7 per cent. There is no indication that any foreign leader would be unhappy with 9 per cent growth.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

 

  • Sep 5, 2017

“And finally, we must bring back trillions of dollars that are currently parked overseas. We have, in my opinion, $4 trillion — $4 trillion.”

Source: Remarks before meeting on tax reform

in fact: No expert or organization has issued an estimate even close to $4 trillion; the Joint Committee on Taxation released an estimate of $2.6 trillion in August 2016, and experts said they were not aware of a massive jump in the following 12 months. “I do not know of anyone who increased the estimate so much recently,” said Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, when Trump began claiming the number might be $4 trillion or even $5 trillion. “Like many things, I assume he made this up on the fly,” said another expert on the subject, who requested anonymity.

Trump has repeated this claim 32 times

 

  • Sep 6, 2017

“The taxes are crazy — the highest-taxed nation in the world.”

Source: Speech on tax reform

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

 

“When I talk to the leaders of other countries — I speak to them all the time — they’re unhappy about seven or eight points of growth — GDP. I spoke to a leader of a major, major country recently — big, big, country — they say our country is very big, it’s hard to grow. Well, believe me, this country is very big. ‘How are you doing,’ I said. Because I have very good relationships — believe it or not — with the leaders of these countries. I said, ‘How are you doing?’ He said, ‘Not good. Not good at all. Our GDP is 7 per cent.’ I say, ‘7 per cent.’ Then I speak to another one, ‘How are you doing?’ ‘Not good. Not good. Our GDP is only 9 per cent.'”

Source: Speech on tax reform

in fact: We do not have definitive proof, but we can safely conclude that such conversations have not happened. For one, there are no “major, major” countries with GDP growth of 9 per cent; even China and India are below 7 per cent. Finally, Trump has been telling this story since the election campaign, but without the added colour of the supposed phone calls.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

 

“That’s why you see in so many states, including here for a period of time — now people are starting to stay and companies are staying — they’d leave for Mexico and for other places, just routinely. Well, we’ve stopped it and we are stopping it.”

Source: Speech on tax reform

in fact: Trump has not “stopped it.” Companies continue to send jobs and operations offshore.

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

 

 

“And finally, we must bring back trillions of dollars in wealth that’s parked overseas and just can’t come back…The numbers we’re talking about are probably between $3.5 trillion and $5 trillion.”

Source: Speech on tax reform

in fact: No expert or organization has issued an estimate even close to $5 trillion. Even $3.5 trillion is high: the Joint Committee on Taxation released an estimate of $2.6 trillion in August 2016, and experts said they were not aware of a massive jump in the following 12 months. “I do not know of anyone who increased the estimate so much recently,” said Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center. “Like many things, I assume he made this up on the fly,” said another expert on the subject, who requested anonymity.

Trump has repeated this claim 32 times

 

“We are the highest taxed nation in the world – that will change.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

 

 

Kavanaugh claims give vulnerable Democrats in Senate cover to oppose him

September 18, 2018

by James Oliphant

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The sexual-misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh may remove pressure that some Democratic senators faced to back his confirmation as a way of reassuring conservative voters in congressional elections just seven weeks away.

Since Kavanaugh was nominated to the high court by President Donald Trump, Democratic senators from states that Trump won in 2016 were locked in a dilemma. If they didn’t vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, they would have appeared to be out of step with voters at home and risked losing re-election. Vote for him, and they would hand the president a bipartisan victory.

The allegation that Kavanaugh assaulted a woman while in high school, however, now gives those endangered Democrats an escape hatch. They can oppose the nominee without appearing to voters as if they are defying the president, strategists said. Kavanaugh has denied the assault allegation, calling it “completely false.”

“For those Democrats up for re-election from states that Trump carried, they now have absolutely no reason to vote for Kavanaugh. Period. End of story,” said Jim Manley, a former high-ranking Democratic Senate aide. “They have all the cover they need.”

November’s congressional elections will determine whether Republicans retain a majority not only in the Senate but in the House of Representatives as well. Democrats are currently favored to take the House, while becoming increasingly confident of adding the two Senate seats that would give them control of that chamber.

The most vulnerable Democratic senators such as Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have not indicated whether they would side with most of their party members in opposing Kavanaugh or join the Republicans in confirming him. All three backed Trump’s first Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch.

Republicans would like those votes just in case a few Republicans defect.

Prior to the Kavanaugh allegations, Republicans were expressing alarm that a number of Senate races were not going as well as they had expected. Donnelly and Manchin, in particular, have held solid leads over their opponents.

Republicans had hoped Trump’s second Supreme Court nomination would galvanize conservative voters while placing incumbent Democrats in a tough position of having to back Kavanaugh to reassure Trump’s base.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said on Monday the committee would hold a public hearing with Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, in a week.

This would delay a planned vote in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday to move the nomination to a floor vote.

With their narrow Senate majority, Republicans could ram through Kavanaugh’s nomination without any Democratic support, but doing so might prove risky in a year that has seen a surge of women, motivated by their opposition to Trump, vote in primary and special elections.

“If [Republicans] overreach and try to demonize this woman, I think it’s got the potential to blow up in their faces politically and drive more Democrats to the polls than ever before,” Manley said.

FLASHBACK

Manley was a young Senate staffer in 1991 when Anita Hill’s sexual harassment accusations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas roiled Capitol Hill. Thomas was confirmed in a close vote, but repercussions were felt the following year when several women Democratic senators were elected and a Democrat, Bill Clinton, won the White House.

“Any Senate Democrat, hailing from a red or blue or purple state, is wise to think deeply about how the larger cultural shifts over the past year-plus should affect their political beliefs,” said Tracy Sefl, a Democratic consultant in Chicago. “For the Kavanaugh vote, there is a litany of valid concerns that are larger than a partisan issue.”

Senate Republicans seemed to recognize the danger of appearing insensitive, said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist.

Trump, too, offered some temperate remarks at the White House, stressing the importance of going “through a full process.”

Not everyone was as measured. One Republican Senate candidate, Corey Stewart, who is looking to unseat Senator Tim Kaine in Virginia, called the allegations a “Democratic smear tactic,” according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

O’Connell said a concerted stand againstKavanaugh could motivate Republican voters to go the polls.

Alex Conant, a former aide to Republican Senator Marco Rubio, said there remains risk to Donnelly and the other red-state senators if they oppose Kavanaugh on any grounds, given they at times have boasted of their ability to work with Trump.

“Red-state senators are not going to win re-election by running against Trump,” Conant said. “They’ll win if they are actually independent.”

Reporting by James Oliphant; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

 

 

Putin sees chance circumstances behind downing of Russian plane in Syria

September 17, 2018

by Darya Korsunskaya and Stephen Farrell

Reuters

MOSCOW/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the shooting down of a Russian military plane near Syria’s seacoast was the result of a chain of tragic and chance circumstances.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said earlier that the aircraft was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft systems, but accused Israel of indirectly causing the incident, saying Israeli jets operating nearby had put the Russian plane in the path of danger. The ministry threatened to retaliate over what it called a hostile act.

Putin’s comments, made after talks with Hungary’s prime minister in Moscow, appeared to somewhat defuse the situation though he said Russia needed to look further into what happened.

“I looks most likely in this case that it was a chain of tragic chance events, because an Israeli aircraft did not shoot down our aircraft. But, without any doubt we need to seriously get the bottom of what happened,” Putin told reporters.

The Russian president said Moscow’s response to the incident would aim at securing the safety of Russian military personnel in Syria’s complex civil war in which various outside powers have backed opposing sides.

“As for retaliatory measures, they will be aimed first and foremost at further ensuring the safety of our military personnel and facilities in Syria. And these will be steps that everyone will notice,” Putin said.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said the Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft, with 15 Russian service personnel on board, was brought down by anti-aircraft batteries of Moscow’s ally, Syria, in a “friendly fire” incident.

But the ministry said it held Israel responsible because, at the time of the incident, Israeli fighter jets were mounting air attacks on Syria targets and had only given Moscow one minute’s warning, putting the Russian aircraft in danger of being caught in the cross-fire.

“We view the actions of the Israeli military as hostile,” Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian state television. “As a result of the irresponsible actions of the Israeli military, 15 Russian service personnel perished.”

ISRAEL BLAMES ‘INACCURATE’ SYRIAN FIRE

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) expressed sorrow at the deaths but blamed the Syrian government and its allies Iran and Hezbollah. “Israel holds the Assad regime, whose military shot down the Russian plane, fully responsible for this incident,” the IDF said in a statement.

It said the initial Israeli inquiry into the incident found that “extensive and inaccurate” Syrian surface-to-air anti-aircraft fire “caused the Russian plane to be hit and downed”.

“The Syrian anti-air batteries fired indiscriminately and from what we understand, did not bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air,” the statement said.

It added that by the time the Russian plane was struck, the Israeli jets were already out of Syria and back in their own airspace. The Russian plane was “not within the area of the operation” carried out by the Israeli jets, it said.

An Israeli diplomatic source said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to speak shortly with Putin.

After the incident, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, that Moscow held Israel wholly responsible, Russian news agencies reported.

Israel’s ambassador in Moscow was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry over the matter, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said

RUSSIAN BLIND EYE

Any row between Israel and Russia could restrict Israel’s ability to carry out air strikes inside Syria on what it considers the greatest threat to its security from the Syrian conflict – build-ups of Iranian forces or groupings of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia.

Since intervening in Syria’s civil war in 2015, Russia has generally turned a blind eye to the Israeli attacks on these targets. Israel has conducted about 200 such attacks in the last two years, according to Israeli officials.

Amos Yadlin, Director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, said on Twitter the downing of the Russian plane could “limit the bid to stop Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and the transfers of advanced weapons to Hezbollah.”

THREAT OF RETALIATION

Moscow said its plane disappeared from radar screens as it was coming in to land at the Hmeymim air base in western Syria late on Monday.

According to the Russian Defence Ministry, the Israeli F-16 jets carrying out the air strikes used the Russian plane as cover to allow them to approach their targets on the ground without being hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire.

“Hiding behind the Russian aircraft, the Israeli pilots put it in the line of fire of Syrian anti-aircraft systems. As a result, the Il-20 … was shot down by the (Syrian) S-200 missile system,” the ministry’s Konashenkov said.

He said the Israeli pilots “could not have failed to see the Russian aircraft, as it was coming in to land from a height of 5 km (three miles). Nevertheless, they deliberately carried out this provocation,” Konashenkov said.

“This absolutely does not correspond to the spirit of Russian-Israeli partnership. We reserve the right to take commensurate measures in response,” he said, without giving details of what those measures would be.

The Israel military said that overnight its fighter jets had “targeted a facility of the Syrian Armed Forces from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon”.

It said the weapons targeted in the Mediterranean coastal city of Latakia “were meant to attack Israel and posed an intolerable threat against it”.

The IDF statement said the “deconfliction” system used by the Israeli and Russian militaries “was in use tonight”, adding: “Israel will share all the relevant information with the Russian government to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.”

Several countries have military operations under way around Syria, with forces on the ground or launching strikes from the air or from ships in the Mediterranean. In some cases, those countries are backing opposing sides in the Syrian war.

Foreign powers involved in the conflict – including Israel and Russia – operate hotlines to exchange operational details to avoid one side accidentally attacking the other’s forces.

However, diplomats and military experts have warned that the risk of inadvertent strikes is high.

Additional reporting by Tom Balmforth and Andrew Osborn in Moscow; Maayan Lubell and Ori Lewis in Jerusalem; John Irish and Sophie Louet in Paris; Phil Stewart in Washington and Nayera Abdallah in Cairo; Editing by Mark Heinrich

 

Yemen’s Descent into Hell

A Saudi-American War of Terror

September 18, 2018

by Rajan Menon

TomDispatch

It’s the war from hell, the savage one that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, along with seven other Middle Eastern and North African states, have been waging in Yemen since March 2015, with fulsome support from the Pentagon and American weapons galore. It’s got everything. Dead children in the dozens, a never-ending air campaign that pays scant heed to civilians, famine, cholera, you name it. No wonder it’s facing mounting criticism in Congress and from human rights groups. Still, ever since President Donald Trump (like Barack Obama before him) embraced the Saudi-led coalition as this country’s righteous knight errant in the Middle East, the fight against impoverished Yemen’s Houthi rebels — who have, in turn, been typecast as Iran’s cats-paw — has only grown fiercer. Meanwhile, the al-Qaeda affiliate there continues to expand.

For years now, a relentless Saudi air campaign (quite literally fueled by the U.S. military) has hit endless civilian targets, using American smart bombs and missiles, without a peep of protest or complaint from Washington. Only a highly publicized, completely over-the-top slaughter recently forced the Pentagon to finally do a little mild finger wagging. On August 7th, an airstrike hit a school bus — with a laser-guided bomb made by Lockheed Martin — in northern Yemen, killing 51 people, 40 of them schoolchildren. Seventy-nine others were wounded, including 56 children. Soon after, a U.N. Security Council-appointed group of experts issued a report detailing numerous other egregious attacks on Yemeni civilians, including people attending weddings and funerals. Perhaps the worst among them killed 137 people and wounded 695 others at a funeral in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, this April.

The attack on those schoolchildren and the U.N. report amplified a growing global outcry against the carnage in Yemen. In response, on August 28th, Secretary of Defense James Mattis let it be known that the Trump administration’s support for the Persian Gulf potentates’ military campaign should not be considered unreserved, that the Saudis and their allies must do “everything humanly possible to avoid any innocent loss of life.” Considering that they haven’t come close to meeting such a standard since the war started nearly five years ago and that the Trump administration clearly has no intention of reducing its support for the Saudis or their war, Mattis’s new yardstick amounted to a cruel joke — at the expense of Yemeni civilians.

The Statistics of Suffering

Some appalling numbers document the anguish Yemenis have endured. Saudi and Emirati warplanes officially have killed — and it’s considered a conservative estimate — 6,475 civilians and wounded more than 10,000 others since 2015. Targets struck have included farms, homes, marketplaces, hospitals, schools, and mosques, as well as ancient historic sites in Sana’a. And such incidents haven’t been one-off attacks. They have happened repeatedly.

By April 2018, the Saudi-led coalition had conducted 17,243 airstrikes across Yemen, hitting 386 farms, 212 schools, 183 markets, and 44 mosques. Such statistics make laughable the repeated claims of the Saudis and their allies that such “incidents” should be chalked up to understandable errors and that they take every reasonable precaution to protect innocents. Statistics compiled by the independent Yemen Data Project make it clear that the Gulf monarchs don’t lie awake at night lamenting the deaths of Yemeni civilians.

Saudi Arabia and its partners have accused the Houthis, the rebels with whom they have been in such a deadly struggle, of also attacking Yemeni civilians, a charge Human Rights Watch has validated. Yet such a they-do-it-too defense hardly excuses the relentless bombing of non-military sites by a coalition that has overwhelming superiority in firepower. Houthi crimes pale by comparison.

And when it comes to the destruction of civilian lives and livelihoods, believe it or not, that may be the least of it. Take the naval blockade of the country by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that cut the number of ships docking in the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeida from 129 between January and August 2014 to 21 in the same months of 2017. The result: far less food and medicine entered the country, creating a disaster for Yemenis.

That country, the Arab world’s poorest, has long relied on imports for a staggering 85% of its food, fuel, and medicine, so when prices soared, famine spread, while hunger and malnutrition skyrocketed. Nearly 18 million Yemenis now rely on emergency food aid to survive: that’s an unbelievable 80% of the population. According to the World Bank, “8.4 million more are on the brink of famine.” In December 2017, following a barrage of bad publicity, the Saudi-Emirati blockade was eased marginally, but it had already set in motion a spiral of death.

The blockade also contributed to a cholera epidemic, which the shortage of medicines only exacerbated. According to a World Health Organization report, between April 2017 and July 2018, there were more than 1.1 million cholera cases there. At least 2,310 people died from the disease, most of them children. It is believed to be the worst cholera outbreak since statistics began to be compiled in 1949. At 800,000 cases between 2010 and 2017, Haiti held the previous record, one that the Yemenis surpassed within half a year of the first cases appearing. The prime contributors to the epidemic: drinking water contaminated by rotting garbage (uncollected because of the war), devastated sewage systems, and water filtration plants that stopped running due to lack of fuel — all the result of the horrendous bombing campaign.

Wartime economic blockades starve and sicken civilians and soldiers alike and so amount to a war crime. The Saudi-Emirati claim that the blockade’s sole purpose is to stanch the flow of Iranian arms to the Houthis is nonsense, nor can it be considered a legitimate act of self-defense, even though it was instituted after the Houthis fired ballistic missiles at the airport in the Saudi capital and the residence of that country’s monarch. (Both were shot down by Saudi air defenses and were clear responses to coalition airstrikes on Houthi-held territory that killed 136 civilians.) By the standards of international humanitarian law or simply common sense, choking off Yemen’s imports was a disproportionate response, and clairvoyance wasn’t required to foresee the calamitous consequences to follow.

True to form, President Trump’s U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, echoed Saudi charges that the Houthi missiles were Iranian-supplied Qiam-1s and condemned that country’s interference in Yemen. Given the scale of destruction by a foreign coalition using armaments and technical assistance provided by the United States (and Britain), her comments, in less grim circumstances, would have been laughable.

Those American-supplied weapons have included cluster munitions, which pose a particular hazard to civilians because, when dropped from a plane, their devastating bomblets often disperse over enormous areas. (Such bombs are banned under a 2008 treaty signed by 120 countries that neither Riyadh nor Washington has joined.) In May 2016, the Obama White House confirmed that it had stopped sending such weapons to Saudi Arabia, which then continued to use Brazilian-made variants. However, other American arms have continued to flow to Saudi Arabia, while its warplanes rely on U.S. Air Force tankers for mid-air refueling (88 million pounds of fuel as of this January according to a Central Command spokeswoman), while the Saudi military has received regular intelligence information and targeting advice from the Pentagon since the war began. And with the advent of Donald Trump, such military involvement has only deepened: U.S. Special Operations forces are now on the Saudi-Yemen border, helping to find and attack Houthi redoubts.

In June 2018, ignoring U.S. opposition, the Saudi coalition heightened the risk to Yemeni civilians yet more by launching an offensive (“Golden Victory”) to capture the port of Hodeida. (So much for the Pentagon’s standard claim that supporting the war gives the U.S. influence over how it is waged and so limits civilian casualties.) Saudi and Emirati airpower and warships supported Emirati and Sudanese troops on the ground joined by allied Yemeni militias. The advance, however, quickly stalled in the face of Houthi resistance, though only after at least 50,000 families had fled Hodeida and basic services for the remaining 350,000 were disrupted, creating fears of a new outbreak of cholera.

The Roots of War

Yemen’s progression to its present state of perdition began as the Arab Spring’s gales swept through the Middle East in 2011, uprooting or shaking regimes from Tunisia to Syria. Street demonstrations grew against Yemen’s strongman, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and only gathered strength as he attempted to quell them. In response, he allied ever more strongly with Saudi Arabia and the United States, alienating the Houthis, whose main bastion, the governate of Saada, abuts the Saudi border. Adherents of Zaydi Islam, the Houthis played a pivotal role in creating a political movement, Ansar Allah, in 1992 to assert the interests of their community against the country’s Sunni majority. In an effort to undercut them, the Saudis have long promoted radical Sunni religious leaders in Yemen’s north, while intermittently raiding Houthi territories.

As a Houthi rebellion began, Saleh tried to make himself an even more indispensable ally of Washington in its post-9/11 anti-terrorist campaigns, notably against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a growing local franchise of al-Qaeda. For good measure, he joined the Saudis in painting the Houthis little more than tools of an Iran that Washington and Riyadh both loathed. When those powers nonetheless came to see the Yemeni autocrat as a political liability, they helped oust him and transfer power to his deputy, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Such moves failed to calm the waters, as the country started to disintegrate and Saudi-U.S. efforts to consolidate the transition from Saleh to Hadi unraveled.

Meanwhile, regular American drone strikes against AQAP angered many Yemenis. In their eyes, not only did the attacks violate Yemen’s sovereignty, they intermittently killed civilians. Hadi’s praise for the drone campaign only discredited him further. AQAP’s power continued to grow, resentment in southern Yemen rose, and criminal gangs and warlords began to operate with impunity in its cities, highlighting the Hadi government’s ineffectuality. Neoliberal economic reforms only further enriched a clutch of families that had long controlled much of Yemen’s wealth, while the economic plight of most Yemenis worsened radically. The unemployment rate was nearly 14% in 2017 (and exceeded 25% for young people), while the poverty rate rose precipitously, as did inflation.

It was a formula for disaster and when Hadi proposed a plan to create a federal system for Yemen, the Houthis were infuriated. New boundaries would, among other things, have cut their homeland off from the Red Sea coast. So they gave up on his government and girded for battle. Soon, their forces were advancing southward. In September 2014, they captured the capital, Sana’a, and proclaimed a new national government. The following March, they occupied Aden in southern Yemen and Hadi, whose government had moved there, promptly fled across the border to Riyadh. The first Saudi airstrikes against Sana’a were launched in March 2015 and Yemen’s descent to hell began.

The American Role

The commonplace rendition of the war in Yemen pits a U.S.-backed Saudi coalition against the Houthis, cast as agents of Iran and evidence of its increasing influence in the Middle East. Combatting terrorism and countering Iran became the basis for Washington’s support of the Saudi-led war. Predictably, as this cartoonish portrayal of a complicated civil war gained ground in the mainstream American media and among Beltway pundits (as well, of course, as in the Pentagon and White House), inconvenient facts were shunted aside.

Still, all these years and all those dead later, it’s worth considering some of those facts. There are, for instance, significant differences between the Houthis’ Zaydi variant of Shia Islam and the Twelver Shiism dominant in Iran — and some similarities between Zaydis and Sunnis — which makes the ubiquitous claims about a Iran-Houthi faith-based pact shaky. Moreover, Iran did not jump into the fray during the violent 2004-2010 clashes between Saleh and the Houthis and did not have longstanding ties to them either. In addition, contrary to the prevailing view in Washington, Iran is unlikely to be their main source of weaponry and support. Sheer distance and the Saudi coalition’s naval blockade have made it next to impossible for Iran to supply arms to the Houthis in the volume alleged. Besides, having pillaged various military bases during their march toward Aden, the Houthis do not lack for weaponry. Iran’s influence in Yemen has undoubtedly increased since 2015, but reducing the intricacies of that country’s internal crisis to Iranian meddling and a Tehran-led Shiite bloc expanding from Syria to the Arabian Peninsula amounts to, at best, a massive oversimplification.

The obsession of Trump and his key advisers with Iran (a remarkable number of them are Iranophobes) and The Donald’s obsession with plugging American arms makers and hawking their wares helps explain their embrace of the House of Saud and continuing support for its never-ending assault on Yemen. (Jared Kushner’s bromance with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman undoubtedly played a part as well.) None of that, however, explains the full-scale American backing for the Saudi-led intervention there in the Obama years. Even as his administration denounced Bashar al-Assad’s slaughter of Syrian civilians, his officials seemed unmoved by the suffering war was inflicting on Yemenis. In fact, the Obama administration offered $115 billion worth of weaponry to Riyadh, including a $1.15 billion package finalized in August 2016, when the scale of Yemen’s catastrophe was already all too obvious.

In recent years, opposition to the war in Congress has been on the rise, with Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ro Khanna playing prominent roles in mobilizing it. But such congressional critics had no effect on Obama’s war policy and are unlikely to sway Trump’s. They face formidable barriers. The mainstream narrative on the war remains powerful, while the Gulf monarchies continue to buy vast quantities of American weaponry. And don’t forget the impressive, money-is-no-object Saudi-Emirati lobbying operation in Washington.

That, then, is the context for the Pentagon’s gentle warning about the limits of U.S. support for the bombing campaign in Yemen and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s subsequent certification, as required by Congress, that the Saudis and Emiratis were taking perfectly credible action to lower civilian casualties — without which the U.S. military could not continue refueling their planes. (Mattis “endorsed and fully supported” Pompeo’s statement.)  As the fifth anniversary of this appalling war approaches, American-made arms and logistical aid remain essential to it.  Consider President Trump’s much-ballyhooed arms sales to the Saudis, even if they don’t total $100 billion (as he claimed): Why then would the Saudi and Emirati monarchs worry that the White House might actually do something like cutting off those lucrative sales or terminating the back-end support for their bombing campaign?

One thing is obvious: U.S. policy in Yemen won’t achieve its declared goals of defeating terrorism and rolling back Iran. After all, its drone strikes began there in 2002 under George W. Bush. Under Obama, as in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, drones became Washington’s anti-terrorist weapon of choice. There were 154 drone strikes in Yemen during the Obama years according to the most reliable high-end estimates, and civilian casualties ranged between 83 and 101. Under Trump they soared quickly, from 21 in 2016 to 131 in 2017.

The reliance on drone attacks has bolstered al-Qaeda’s narrative that the American war on terror amounts to a war on Muslims, whose lives are deemed expendable. And so many years later, in the chaos of Yemen, the group’s power and reach is only growing. The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led intervention is also likely to prove not just self-defeating but self-prophetic. It seems to be cementing an alliance between Iran and the Houthis who, though they have been pushed out of Aden, still control a big chunk of Yemen. Meanwhile, in a move that could make the war even deadlier, the Emiratis appear to be striking out on their own, supporting secession in southern Yemen. There’s not much to show on the anti-terrorism front either. Indeed, the Saudi coalition’s airstrikes and U.S. drone attacks may be moving Yemenis, enraged by the destruction of their homes and livelihoods and the deaths of loved ones, toward AQAP. In short, a war on terror has turned into a war of and for terror.

In Yemen, the United States backs a grim military intervention for which — unless you are a weapons company — it is hard to find any justification, practical or moral. Unfortunately, it is even harder to imagine President Trump or the Pentagon reaching such a conclusion and changing course.

 

Time to Kill the Zombie Argument: Another Study Shows Trump Won Because of Racial Anxieties — Not Economic Distress

September 18, 2018

by Mehdi Hasan

The Intercept

Do you remember “economic anxiety”? The catch-all phrase relied on by politicians and pundits to try and explain the seemingly inexplicable: the election of Donald J. Trump in November 2016? A term deployed by left and right alike to try and account for the fact that white, working-class Americans voted for a Republican billionaire by an astonishing 2-to-1 margin?

The thesis is as follows: Working-class voters, especially in key “Rust Belt” swing states, rose up in opposition to the party in the White House to punish them for the outsourcing of their jobs and stagnation of their wages. These “left behind” voters threw their weight behind a populist “blue-collar billionaire” who railed against free trade and globalization.

Everyone from Fox News host Jesse Waters to socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders has pushed this whole “economic anxiety” schtick. But it’s a complete and utter myth. As I pointed out in April 2017, referencing both pre-election surveys and exit poll data, the election of Trump had much less to do with economic anxiety or distress and much more to do with cultural anxiety and racial resentment. Anyone who bothers to examine the empirical evidence, or for that matter listens to Trump slamming black athletes as “sons of bitches” or Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” in front of cheering crowds, is well-aware of the source of his appeal.

The problem, however, with trying to repeatedly rebut all this talk of “economic anxiety” is that it’s a zombie argument. As Paul Krugman has observed, these are arguments “that have been proved wrong, should be dead, but keep shambling along because they serve a political purpose.” Or as the science writer Ben Goldacre has put it, arguments that “survive to be raised again, for eternity, no matter how many times they are shot down.”

To be clear: “Economic anxiety” has been shot down repeatedly by the experts over the past 18 months. Four damning studies, in particular, stand out from the rest.  The first appeared in May 2017, a month after I wrote my original piece, when The Atlantic magazine and Public Religion Research Institute, or PRRI, published the results of a joint analysis of post-election survey data. Did poor, white, working-class voters back Trump in their droves? Was it the economy, stupid?

Nope. The PRRI analysis of more than 3,000 voters, summarized The Atlantic’s Emma Green, “suggests financially troubled voters in the white working class were more likely to prefer Clinton over Trump.” Got that? Hillary Clinton over Trump. Meanwhile, partisan affiliation aside, “it was cultural anxiety — feeling like a stranger in America, supporting the deportation of immigrants, and hesitating about educational investment — that best predicted support for Trump.”

In fact, according to the survey data, white, working-class voters who expressed fears of “cultural displacement” were three-and-a-half times more likely to vote for Trump than those who didn’t share these fears.

Surprise!

Second, in January 2018, a study by three Amherst political scientists — Brian F. Schaffner, Matthew MacWilliams, and Tatishe Nteta — asked: “What caused whites without college degrees to provide substantially more support to Donald Trump than whites with college degrees?” Here’s their answer, based on survey data from 5,500 American adults:

We find that racism and sexism attitudes were strongly associated with vote choice in 2016, even after accounting for partisanship, ideology, and other standard factors. These factors were more important in 2016 than in 2012, suggesting that the explicitly racial and gendered rhetoric of the 2016 campaign served to activate these attitudes in the minds of many voters. Indeed, attitudes toward racism and sexism account for about two-thirds of the education gap in vote choices in 2016.

Racism and sexism. Who’d have guessed?

Third, in April 2018, Stanford University political scientist Diana Mutz published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that observed how “living in an area with a high median income positively predicted Republican vote choice to a greater extent in 2016,” which is “precisely the opposite of what one would expect based on the left behind thesis.” Mutz found no evidence that a decline in income, or a worsening “personal financial situation,” drove working-class voters into the welcoming arms of a billionaire property mogul. Nor did a decline in manufacturing or employment in the area where Trump voters lived.

So what did she conclude?

In this election, education represented group status threat rather than being left behind economically. Those who felt that the hierarchy was being upended—with whites discriminated against more than blacks, Christians discriminated against more than Muslims, and men discriminated against more than women—were most likely to support Trump.

Are you still not convinced? Do you still prefer to cling to a bogus claim that just won’t die? Well, the latest zombie-killing study was published last week by the Democracy Fund’s Voter Study Group and co-authored by George Washington University political scientist John Sides (both the Democracy Fund and First Look Media, the Intercept’s parent company, were created by Pierre Omidyar). The VSG report concluded that the “prevailing narrative” of the 2016 election, focused heavily “on the economic concerns of Americans,” and especially “the white working class,” is “flawed” and “misplaced.”

Sides and his co-author Robert Griffin found that “economic anxiety was actually decreasing, not increasing” in the run-up to the presidential election and “what was distinctive about voting behavior in 2016 was not the outsized role of economic anxiety,” but “attitudes about race and ethnicity” that were “more strongly related to how people voted.”

According to their study (which focused on a much tighter concept of “economic distress” based on voters’ direct experiences with financial instability or hardship):

Contrary to the popular narrative, VOTER Survey results show that economic distress is not distinctively prevalent among the white working class. It is much more a fact of life for people of color. In part because of this, Trump voters in 2016 do not report more economic distress than do Clinton voters. If anything, the opposite is true. … The political implications of economic distress are mostly negative for President Trump. Among independents in particular, those experiencing economic distress are more likely to disapprove of Trump’s performance in office. Therefore, economic distress appears to function as a referendum on Trump’s presidency rather than a driver of support. Indeed, genuine economic distress may cost Trump support.

Do I really need to continue? Do I need to cite more studies? More surveys? How can this still be a matter for debate?

To be clear, and to repeat what I wrote last year, this isn’t to say that economic grievances are irrelevant, or that racial and cultural grievances were the only drivers of support for Trump. To quote the three academics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, “it would be misguided to seek an understanding of Trump’s success in the 2016 presidential election through any single lens. Yet, in a campaign that was marked by exceptionally explicit rhetoric on race and gender, it is perhaps unsurprising to find that voters’ attitudes on race and sex were so strongly associated with their vote choices.”

So why does this still matter, in 2018? For a start, as Mutz points out, “Trump’s victory may be viewed more admirably when it is attributed to a groundswell of support from previously ignored workers than when it is attributed to those whose status is threatened by minorities and foreign countries.” Plus, she adds, “elected officials who embrace the left behind narrative may feel compelled to pursue policies that will do little to assuage the fears of less educated Americans.”

This is the key point to consider for those on the left who have foolishly, if perhaps with the best of intentions, embraced the “left behind” thesis. They see economic and financial insecurity as the root cause of Trumpism, which they then feel justifies their support for policies such as a higher minimum wage or universal health care. These progressive economic and social policies, however, deserve our support because they’re morally and economically correct – and not because they might win over Trump voters in 2020. (Spoiler alert: They won’t and they may even further antagonize white working-class voters who see them as “handouts” for non-white working-class voters.)

Both race and class matter, and both have to be at the center of a left-wing, pro-poor, anti-Trump politics. But that doesn’t change the fact that, in 2016, race trumped class. The reality, as Mutz reminds us, is that the election of Trump “was an effort by members of already dominant groups to assure their continued dominance and by those in an already powerful and wealthy country to assure its continued dominance.”

This is what the left has to challenge. Of course the right wants to exonerate Trump voters from charges of racism, bigotry, and misogyny, but the left has to call it as it is. The Trump election was a “whitelash.” It’s time to slay this zombie of “economic anxiety” once and for all.

 

Exclusive: US police ‘using Tiger Text app to conceal evidence’

Long Beach police accused of using self-deleting messaging software to avoid disclosing incriminating evidence.

September 18, 2018

by Simon Boazman & Jeremy Young

AlJazeerea

Long Beach, Southern California – Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit has discovered that a self-deleting messaging app called Tiger Text has been adopted by at least one US police department, which may have used it to share sensitive and potentially incriminating information that they wouldn’t want to be disclosed to a court.

Current and former officers from the Long Beach Police Department in Southern California have told Al Jazeera that their police-issued phones had Tiger Text installed on them.

The Tiger Text app is designed to erase text messages after a set time period. Once the messages have been deleted, they cannot be retrieved – even through forensic analysis of the phone.

The police officers who spoke with Al Jazeera said the confidential messaging system was used to share details of police operations and sensitive personnel issues.

Two of the officers claimed that they were also instructed by their superiors to use the app to “have conversations with other officers that wouldn’t be discoverable”.

They said they understood this to include exculpatory evidence that could be potentially helpful to attorneys in both civil and criminal proceedings against the department.

It’s a claim that the Long Beach Police Department denies.

But the officers say they were not surprised by the instructions, claiming that the discovery process within the police department was never on the “up and up”.

“I find it odd that we have a communication system that circumvents everything that we are supposed to be doing,” said one officer who is still with the department.

But “nothing surprises me working there.”

‘Institutional cover-up’

According to the research group Mapping Police Violence, the Long Beach Police Department ranked fifth in the nation for officer-involved shootings per capita in 2015.

Civil rights lawsuits have resulted in the city of Long Beach paying out tens of millions of dollars to the families of those shot.

One former police officer said he suspects this is what motivated the department to adopt the application.

“There have been a number of officer-involved shooting cases that have hurt the department,” he said.

“This is a way for them to conceal and get away with some of the negative things that affect their liability with these cases.”

Mohammed Tajsar, a lawyer with the ACLU, told Al Jazeera that he was shocked by the officers’ claims.

“If the department brass instructed members of the force to use Tiger Text to shield from the public the disclosure of sensitive messages about investigations into police killings, then this is an institutional cover-up of the highest order, designed to protect a department that is notorious for killing people,” Tajsar said.

Al Jazeera obtained financial records from the Long Beach Police Department that indicate that the Tiger Text system has been in place since at least 2014, with over 100 police personnel using the app.

One document from the City of Long Beach Purchasing Division describes the app as “a secure messaging platform for criminal investigations and confidential communications.”

All the officers Al Jazeera spoke to asked that their identity be kept confidential for fear of reprisals from the police department.

They say that the Tiger Text app was set to delete messages after a few days and that it was distributed to officers in specialised details and to all senior officers above the rank of lieutenant.

The ACLU believes that, by using the app, the Long Beach Police Department could be breaking laws that require the preservation of records and the rules that require their disclosure during legal cases, potentially putting thousands of court verdicts at risk.

Al Jazeera’s investigation into the use of Tiger Text found that the Georgia Department of Corrections also began using the application in 2013.

But lawyers for the department quickly decided that its use would likely violate Georgia law, possibly breaching the state’s records retention legislation and most likely leading to court discovery violations.

Insufficient evidence

One Long Beach police officer told Al Jazeera that while he was working within the Department, he witnessed Tiger Text being used during an investigation into the police shooting of Jason Conoscenti in the Alamitos Beach neighbourhood in 2014.

The officers involved in the shooting were cleared of any wrongdoing after prosecutors found insufficient evidence to bring charges.

Al Jazeera spoke to several lawyers who have litigated against Long Beach. None were aware of the police department’s use of the Tiger Text app.

Nikhil Ramnaney, a deputy public defender with the Law Offices of the Los Angeles County Public Defender said his office might now be forced to review all Long Beach cases since 2014, adding: “I don’t know what information is in those Tiger Texts, it could be exculpatory, it could lend to practices that are unconstitutional or even illegal.”

In response to AJ Jazeera’s investigation, Long Beach Police Department said it “complies with all laws related to discovery, and any information relevant to a specific investigation would be documented and provided according to legal requirements”.

The department said it uses the Tiger Text application “to communicate confidential crime scene information, victim information, and personnel matters between department management personnel, as well as employees in specialised details”.

Joanna Schwartz, an expert on police litigation at the UCLA School of Law believes it is difficult to predict the legal problems that the use of a self-deleting app will bring for the Long Beach Police Department.

“The use of Tiger Text by the police makes it more difficult to bring winning civil cases against them and effectively to defend criminal cases. The immediate question is; is this the kind of police department that the City of Long Beach wants to have?”

 

New Tesla killer: Audi’s all-electric crossover may devour Elon Musk’s lunch

September 18, 2018

RT

Volkswagen-owned premium brand Audi has unveiled the E-Tron, a battery-powered crossover, which is just about to hit dealerships, making the market of electric vehicles rather more choiceful for eco-friendly enthusiasts.

E-tron, Audi’s first electric sport-utility vehicle (SUV), debuted in San Francisco on Monday night. The all-wheel-drive car is powered by two electric engines and equipped with 95-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery that reportedly gives the e-tron “well over 400 kilometers” (250 miles) of estimated range on a full charge.

The Audi crossover that reportedly starts at $74,800 was revealed shortly after other European majors took some steps to challenge Tesla’s dominance in the electric vehicles market.

Last week, Jaguar Land Rover presented its first all-electric SUV, the Jaguar I-PACE, which will be available in the US, starting at $69,500, in fall 2018. Earlier this month, the Daimler-owned Mercedes-Benz revealed the EQC sport utility crossover that will go on sale in the United States in 2020. Mercedes has not yet announced pricing for the new model.

Moreover, a German multinational BMW has unveiled a concept vehicle of a self-driving electric crossover dubbed BMW Vision iNext, while Volkswagen-owned Porsche is preparing to start sales of its Taycan electric performance car at the end of 2019. Prices are expected to start around $80,000.

The recent e-vehicles boom among the top-ranked car beasts will inevitably shake Tesla’s dominance in the market of premium electric cars. The manufacturer of the world’s first mass-produced electric vehicle has recently faced some problems. On Monday, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk admitted bigger logistical problems in Twitter responses to a customer complaint. In July, the carmaker was struggling to meet production targets for its Model 3 vehicles.

“Sorry, we’ve gone from production hell to delivery logistics hell, but this problem is far more tractable,” Musk said in a tweet in response to a customer complaint on delivery delay. “We’re making rapid progress. Should be solved shortly.”

Tesla stock was up and down, closing off 0.1 percent at 294.84 on the stock market today. Volkswagen stock gained 1 percent to move above its 50-day line.

 

 

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