TRUMP WATCH: Spygate? A Monster Story!

My latest TRUMP WATCH piece, just published on Impakter, this is the opening:

Has Trump lost touch? In a single minute, on 25 May, before leaving to give the commencement speech at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, he managed to fire four tweets about Spygate. That’s the term he uses to talk about the FBI informant that supposedly “infiltrated” his campaign in 2016.

“Worse than Watergate!” Trump had tweeted a few days ago. But this time, it was a long statement, 190 words long, very unusual for Trump. So it had to be broken up to fit into Twitter’s framework.

Summarizing the four tweets, here is what he said: Spygate is a “monster story” but the “corrupt Mainstream Media hates” it (meaning it won’t share it); the “Informant” was “paid a fortune” (sic, how can he judge that?); and he was set up “way earlier than the Russian Hoax” began (not true).

Then he pretends to be horrified: “Can anyone even imagine having Spies placed in a competing campaign, by the people and party in absolute power, for the sole purpose of political advantage and gain?” Obviously not the case in a democracy like the U.S.

Yet that gives him the opportunity to chuckle, despite spending “far more money” than he did, the Democrats “LOST!” (in capital letters). Then he refers to what a Fox News journalist said (always Fox News, not part of the Corrupt Media):

Read the rest on Impakter, click here.

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Fighting the Next Pandemic and Watching Trump

I must apologize for the long silence: I have been so busy writing for Impakter that I never got around to updating you, my friends, on my blog. My latest in-depth article (out on 17 May) is about something that really worries me: The threat of pandemics and our general lack of readiness.

WHO’s quick reaction to the Ebola outbreak in D.R.Congo should not delude us into thinking we’re safe. We’re not. We really need to do something about this. Here is the start of the article:

 

GLOBAL HEALTH SYSTEMS: READY FOR THE NEXT PANDEMIC?

In a world traumatized by Trump’s America First agenda, many worry that nuclear conflict is around the corner. As a result, global health tends to be down at the bottom of the list of things to worry about. Yet, as we learned when Ebola struck in 2014, our lead institution, the World Health Organization (WHO), was shockingly slow on the uptake. Our global health governance was just not up to the task.

Now, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has just sent a letter to WHO Director-General – a letter also signed by the heads of Norway and Ghana – asking his organization to help draft a “Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All” to be discussed at the 10th World Health Summit in Berlin in October 2018.

….

The rest on Impakter, click here.


Then, of course, I continued the series of TRUMP WATCH articles. For those of you who are curious to check them out, here’s a listing since the last one I told you about here – in chronological order:

  • North Korea Talks?  Trump seems ready to treat his upcoming North Korea talks as another game of ping pong, telling reporters on Wednesday…
  • Thank You Mary Matalin! On 22 April, out of a clear blue sky, Trump suddenly fawned over Mary Matalin: “I can die happy now…
  • The United States and France Forever!  Trump’s numerous tweets welcoming France’s President Macron on the first state visit of his administration, have been pompously presidential, replete…
  • A Total Witch Hunt  The Russia investigation is a “total” witch hunt, the just released House Intelligence Committee Report has confirmed it! Trump instantly…
  • Russian Collusion is Fake News! Listen to the Donald: This business about the “Witch Hunt” and Russian “Collusion” needs to stop, it’s all “fake news”,..
  • The Iran Deal and North Korea Show is On Nobody noticed but Trump once more exhibited his fine-tuned Reality TV showmanship when he conflated the news about pulling out…
  • Saving Chinese Jobs On Sunday, Trump tweeted his concern for Chinese jobs, vowing that he was working with the Chinese leader to “save…
  • Beautiful, Clean Coal! Coal, historically, is the dirtiest source of energy ever used. Yet, once again, this week-end, Trump tweeted that it was…

Wow, that’s eight Trump Watch articles in one month, and they all zero in on one of the many character traits of the man – it wouldn’t be so bad if he weren’t the most powerful man on earth. But the closer you get to him (as I do, reading his tweets and his pronouncements every day), the scarier it gets…

Incidentally, when I look back, I see that over the last month I also added another article to my series on Bitcoin, reporting on a new development which is (in my view) deeply puzzling:

Sorry for not posting all those updates here, but you can see that I have been overwhelmed with work this month, with 10 articles published on Impakter. Not to mention the work I usually do as Senior Editor…

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TRUMP WATCH: Joining the Trade Pact Against China

This week more of my TRUMP WATCH articles were published on Impakter:

  •  TWEETS OF WAR warning the enemy – in this case Russia – of an impending missile strike in Syria (click here to read – updated with the news of the retaliatory attack on 14 April);  
  • HALF THE COUNTRY IS THE ENEMY: in this one Trump takes aim at California, reviling it as a “sanctuary state” overrun by hordes of criminal immigrants, ascribing the whole sorry situation to the “Dems” (see here);
  • CHEMICAL ATTACKS ON SYRIA: about Trump’s unprecedented tweets against Russia and the fact that, arguably, Trump’s own policies in Syria set the stage for “animal Assad’s” attacks (see here – also updated with the news of the retaliatory attack 14 April).

Here’s the latest one, JOINING THE TRADE PACT AGAINST CHINA, out on Friday 13 April:


Trump just woke up to the complexities of international trade. And how to push China into a corner. In the middle of his trade war with China, he has suddenly caught on to the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership: a clever way for the US to boost trade among Pacific-rim countries while excluding China.

In the middle of the night, this stunning mea culpa was tweeted out:

Well, only half a mea culpa. As usual, it’s Obama’s fault, and he “would only join TPP if the deal were substantially better than the deal offered to Pres. Obama.”

He may feel he has saved face, but in practice, this signals a major reversal in Trumpian trade policies. For once, he’d be joining an international treaty and not trying to pull it down.

And that is huge. Good for him to be able to backtrack.

I go on to analyze the damage done by the US pullout of the TPP and what might happen next now that the TPP has been signed by 11 Pacific rim countries, excluding the US.  

Just as the article was about to be published with a conclusion commending Trump for his wise decision to backtrack (never easy), he blew it, coming out with a seriously absurd blast against Comey and his tell-all book, calling him (among other things) a “slime ball”. 

Take a look, the article is here.

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TRUMP WATCH: Defying China on Trade

Just published on Impakter. Here’s the opening:


In a single tweet on 5 April, Trump gave a double whammy: against China, reminding everyone that he’s fighting China on trade, and against Amazon’s “chief lobbyist”, the hated “Fake News Washington Post”:

Not bad for a single tweet. To anyone wondering why the Washington Post’s headline is characterized as “phony” when the news about the levying of trade penalties is real enough, the answer is fairly simple.  Trump has recently engaged in an unprecedented flurry of tweets against Amazon, “ranting obsessively about it”. To the point where one is justified in wondering whether he has a personal grudge against Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post.

Maybe he does, but the truth is that the Washington Post has been very good at unearthing uncomfortable news about him. For example, they were the ones who discovered he had given highly classified information to the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador in the course of a visit to the White House back in May 2017.

Trade War or Trade Talks?

That’s the real question. Are Trump’s threats of trade penalties the opening salvo of a coming trade war? Or, more simply, trade talks?

Trump has just ordered the US Trade Representative to consider coming up with levies on $100 billion more of Chinese goods (that immediately sent US stock futures tumbling). This came on top of a Chinese announcement on Wednesday that China would levy a 25 percent tariff on about $50 billion of US goods (including soybeans, automobiles, chemicals and aircraft). But the US had started it all, issuing on Tuesday a list of tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese products.

Tit for tat – and a clever tit from China…

Read the rest on Impakter, click here.

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#MeToo: Taking it to the Next Level

Also published on Impakter.

Here’s the opening:

Louisiana Catch by Sweta Srivastava Vikram, published by Modern History Press, 268 pages. Out on: 10 April 2018

This is a remarkable novel, a book for our #MeToo age.

To some it may look like another women’s fiction title, but it’s not. It goes beyond the recurrent themes of the genre – marriage, friends and the search for happiness, showcasing a strong woman who overcomes multiple obstacles. It brings home the universality of #MeToo, not an issue exclusive to America: It has become a number one issue around the world, India included. And it is a great read, the work of an exceptionally talented storyteller, with finely observed characters, unexpected twists in the plot and a deeply satisfying ending. This is a not-to-be-missed novel, including for those who do not normally read in the genre.

 Sweta Vikram iPiccy-collage

In my view, this book does something more: It adds a much needed, broader dimension to the #MeToo issue, shifting the focus squarely on sexual abuse. It’s not just a matter of recalling episodes of unpleasant groping and being threatened or blackmailed by an alpha male that can kill your career, your reputation or any hope you have for happiness. It is that too, of course, but it goes beyond. Sexual abuse is the one aspect of sexual violence that is unequivocally indefensible and morally deeply wrong, with no ifs and no buts.

And it does this in three ways.

One, the major event around which the story unfolds: A world conference on sexual violence against women – to be held in New Orleans, hence one of the reasons for the book’s title. There are others, and I shall come to them shortly. Ahana is charged with the organization of this conference, a task that is a big challenge and that pushes her to her limits. The conference logo she’s picked, No Excuse, is striking. In two words, it tells us we are facing the next level after #MeToo.

Two, the major themes in the novel: sexual violence against women and stalking/bullying on social media (in this case, in an online therapy group). These are deeply serious issues you find every day in the news headlines, yet they are lightly woven in the plot. And the author manages the feat of adding a new urgency to them – this is done through two intriguing characters, two diametrically different men, who erupt in Ahana’s life as she tries to organize the conference. And here we get to the other reason for the book’s title: Both men are from Louisiana, including the catfisher. And right until the middle of the novel, we can’t tell which of them is actually a ‘good catch’ for Ahana and who is the one ‘catching’ her in his net. One of them is not what he seems – hence the suspense.

Three, the viewpoint: The story is told from Ahana’s standpoint and Ahana is special. Highly educated, she comes from a wealthy upper-class Delhi family. She lives in two worlds, the traditional Indian one with all its customs, including the food and the gossiping “aunties”, and the Western one that she has been educated in. Tall and beautiful, an athletic yoga-practitioner, Ahana is recently divorced from Dev, a good-looking man but a sexually abusive husband.

Ahana is someone you grow to increasingly like and care about, and you find yourself wanting to tell her to stop, to be more careful about sharing personal stuff online. People throw up smoke screens, will Ahana see through them? Believe me, it’s a page turner.

Reading the book, I became curious about Sweta Srivastava Vikram, an author capable of creating such stunningly realistic characters, both Indian and American. If you peek at her bio, you discover she is of Indian origin, but she lives in America and has known entrepreneurial success in her own life just like Ahana. She has already had eleven books published, establishing her as a major poet – with only one of them (a novel) published in India, and she has won several awards.

Louisiana Catch is the first novel you publish in the United States. And you now live in New York with your husband. What inspired you to write this book? Any connection with your move to the United States?

Sweta Srivastava Vikram: Louisiana Catch is my 12th book but debut U.S. novel. My poetry books have been published in the U.S. before, but the novel is exciting on a whole different scale.

Louisiana Catch didn’t happen directly as a result of my move to the Big Apple. I moved to NYC about 20 years ago…

READ THE REST ON IMPAKTER, CLICK HERE.

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BIO: Sweta Srivastava Vikram, a graduate of Columbia University, was featured by Asian Fusion as “one of the most influential Asians of our time”. She is a best-selling author of 12 books and a five-times Pushcart Prize nominee. She is also a mindfulness writing coach, social issues advocate, and a certified yoga & Ayurveda counselor who helps people lead creative, productive, and healthier lives. Louisiana Catch is her debut U.S. novel and featured on U.K.’s list of “Books to Read in 2018.” Born in India, Sweta lives in New York City with her husband and in her spare time, teaches yoga to female survivors of rape and domestic violence.

Website          Twitter            Instagram          Facebook          LinkedIn

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Featured Image Credit: New Orleans: French Quarter, Exchange Place – by wallyg flickr.com

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TRUMP WATCH: A SWIPE AT AMAZON, BUT WHY?

This is the latest Trump Watch article on IMPAKTER – two others were published earlier this week: one about Trump’s obsession with his Border Wall (here) and the other about his thundering silence following last week-end’s March for Our Lives (here) – a silence that I found truly disturbing. 

So now, here is the opening of my latest article in the Trump Watch series:

TRUMP WATCH: A SWIPE AT AMAZON, BUT WHY?

Everybody is getting worked up over Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, but Trump has a grudge against another tech giant: Amazon.

On Thursday he lashed out:

So why this bizarre obsession with Amazon? Because Bezos, the founder of Amazon, owns the Washington Post, one of the papers Trump fears and hates? Maybe.

But there’s another good reason why: Clearly, Trump has no intention to wade into the on-going Facebook-Analytica scandal. Hot stuff, and it could burn him. The fact that the Trump campaign used Analytica’s “psychographs” to sway election results is deeply embarrassing, and it doesn’t help that to do so it used private data stolen from some 50 million American Facebook users. Moreover, Cambridge Analytica has reportedly still not deleted all the user data as promised.

To read the rest, click here. 

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Trump Watch: John Bolton – A Super Hawk as National Security Advisor

We’ve started a new series at Impakter, called Trump Watch – in a short piece, we bring our readers up-to-date on the latest developments. This is the third article in the series, my friend Hannah Fischer-Lauder and myself are working on it. But we welcome the contribution of anyone interested. Contact me (see address on my blog) or Impakter (click here: http://impakter.com/contact/). We are looking for short pieces focusing on breaking news, most of them with Trump’s tweets as a starting point.

General H.R. McMaster is out, Ambassador John Bolton is in – with a tweet posted at midnight 22 March:

I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/9.

McMaster will move out on 9 April. The job of National Security Advisor does not need Senate confirmation, so Bolton will come on-board as soon as McMaster leaves. And he will be charged with overseeing a wide range of issues, from fighting ISIS to containing China’s rising economic and military power.

International diplomacy is likely to go into shock, John Bolton is not only a confirmed hawk, he is a sworn enemy of the United Nations.

Read the rest on Impakter, click here.

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