Category Archives: politics

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: 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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Italian Elections: A Gridlock that Hurts Europe

My latest article on Impakter, here’s the opening:

Last week I asked you to imagine the worst and the worst happened. Gridlock. A hung parliament.

But not quite in the way I thought. The two winners – both populist, Euro-skeptic and anti-establishment – were a big surprise, even for the usually savvy financial markets and yet they didn’t see it coming: the Lega’s firebrand Salvini and Five Star Movement’s bright boy Di Maio won, and won by a big margin.

Everyone had expected Berlusconi (Forza Italia) and Renzi (Democratic Party – PD) to do better, indeed, to do well enough so that in the event of a gridlock, there would be a way out, a possible government based on a Democratic Party (PD) alliance with Forza Italia(FI). After all, Renzi and Berlusconi were on talking terms, so hopes were high, especially in the financial community that prefers to see political stability. Berlusconi himself was so confident that he had already indicated Tajani, the President of the European Parliament, as his choice for Prime Minister.

Now, of course, that won’t happen. FI got stuck at 14% (I’m rounding off all the numbers here) while the PD dropped calamitously below 19%. And that means they just don’t have the numbers to pull it off.

To read the rest, click here. It’s a mess that’s making Marine Le Pen and Putin happy!

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Elections in Italy: Why They Matter for Europe and the World

My latest article on Impakter, here’s the opening:

Imagine the following result from the March 4 vote in Italy: either the populist Five Star Movement led by young Luigi Di Maio (he’s 31) or the conservative right coalition, led by Berlusconi (he’s 81) and firebrand Salvini, gets an absolute majority.

What happens next? The pro-European left coalition, with the Democratic Party (PD) in the lead plus various small parties, notably Emma Bonino’s +Europe, is sent in the opposition. The head of the current government, Paolo Gentiloni and the PD secretary, Matteo Renzi, both go home.


From Left to right: M5S Leader Luigi Di Maio; Silvio Berluconi (right coalition); Matteo Renzi  (left coalition, PD leader)  SOURCE: WIKI COMMONS

In either case, Europe, already weakened by Brexit and threatened by the rise of “illiberal democracies” on its Eastern front (in Hungary and Poland), would be shaken to its foundation.



To find out and read the rest, click here.

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Bitcoin World: What Next?

I’m starting a series on cryptocurrencies, this is the first article, just published on Impakter:



Recent good news got lost in the midst of a flurry of bad news that shook the Bitcoin world at the end of January, causing a meltdown, with Bitcoin losing two-thirds of its value since hitting a peak of $20,000 in mid-December. Professor Roubini told Bloomberg that Bitcoin is “much worse than the Tulip mania”, that it’s the “mother of all bubbles”. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is still crashing, with no end in sight, though it is still significantly higher than the $900 value recorded a year ago (January 2017).

Among the avalanche of chilling events: the $530 million hack of Coincheck, a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange followed by a raid on the exchange by the Japanese authorities to check whether they had enough funds to repay customers; the Facebook ban on cryptocurrency ads; India’s Finance Minister declaration that cryptocurrencies would not be recognized as legal tender; the subpoena U.S. regulators sent to two of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency players, Bitfinex exchange and Tether, arousing suspicions of price manipulation; the announcement by major American banks (JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup) followed by a UK bank (Lloyds) that, starting in February, they would no longer allow their clients to purchase Bitcoin with credit cards; South Korea Customs Service’s disclosure of illegal Forex tradings of some $600 million worth of cryptocurrencies; North Korea accused of hacking cryptocurrencies and stealing billions of wons;  the finding by a leading cyber security firm that hackers make on average $100 million a year stealing from “miners”.

And yet amongst the wreckage there was some optimistic news. One was the declaration on 31 January from the South Korea Finance Minister that there was no plan to outlaw digital coin trading, which countered an earlier ban announced by the Minister of Justice in September last year.

The other came from the South China Morning Post that announced on January 31 that the Hong Kong authorities would not ban cryptocurrencies but launch in March “a campaign to educate the public” highlighting that “cryptocurrencies have fluctuated in price, are not backed by any physical commodity or the issuer, and are subjected to hacking risks.” Leo Weese, chairman of the Hong Kong Bitcoin Association, is strongly supportive: “We should know the difference between what makes a good ICO [and what doesn’t]” he said, “and how we differentiate between scams and legitimate projects.”

He has good reason to feel this way: ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) are the vital lymph of cryptocurrency exchanges and for them to function well, there needs to be trust in their legitimacy.

Read the rest on Impakter, click here.

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Bitcoin: The First Digital Ponzi Scheme

If you had invested $100 in Bitcoin in 2011, two years after it was invented, and if you had held onto it through the 2014 crash, when Mt. Gox, the biggest Bitcoin exchange, collapsed, today you’d have (almost) $4 million in your pocket.

That’s what the Winklevoss twins of Facebook fame and founders of the Gemini exchange did: They are, historically, the first believers and biggest investors in Bitcoin and today, now that they’ve turned bitcoin billionaires in 2017 (the only ones so far), they continue to believe in it, saying they won’t give it up, that “long-term, directionally, it’s a multi-trillion dollar asset”.

2017 was a special year. By December, the valuation of Bitcoin and the 700+ digital currencies that it has spawned had grown explosively, from less than $1,000 per bitcoin to over $15,000. 2018 is not looking so good, market cap is falling, but still high:

As shown above: By end 2017, total market capitalization (value) of all digital currencies exceeded $750 billion, though it is now falling fast and stands well below that value (520 billion on January 17, 2018): this is still and extraordinary multiple (16 times) of where it was a year ago SOURCEGLOBAL MARKET CAPITALIZATION CHART 28 April 2013 TO 17 January 2018 

On 17 January, Bloomberg spoke of a 26% slump noting that “traders brave the volatility” though some (rightly) worry about the growing threat from government regulations.


To find out, read the rest on Impakter, click here.


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2017: The End of the American Century?

In this article, I try to figure out where we’re going, after the tsunami  brought about by Trump. I am not optimistic but I’m not as pessimistic as some, as you’ll see if you read the article to the end…Happy 2018, we need to continue the resistance, I’m convinced the pre-Trump world order can be revived and American leadership regained!



Trump’s inaugural speech with its America First message shook the world. And he has kept it up with alarming tweets, insulting and threatening people and countries, sowing confusion among America’s allies and foes. His emotional and erratic tweeting may not add up to a credible foreign policy, he is, in his first year, the least popular President in US history and has signed fewer laws than Obama, yet, with support from the Republican Congress, he has brought deep change: He has successfully turned America in on itself and ushered an age of small government and Big Business.

American institutions are now in the hands of the Republican party. Control over the Supreme Court was achieved with Trump’s appointment of Judge Gorsuch and federal district courts are now filling up with young judges wedded to conservative views. Federal environmental protection regulations are dismantled, the coal and fuel industries can do as they please, the environment and public health be damned.

The tax overhaul benefits primarily the Republican party’s backers, big corporations and multi-millionaires. It also comes with a provision to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And this on top of huge rollbacks in natural reserves, opening up to private exploitation over 2 million acres in Utah.

The only area that has resisted the Trump-Republican onslaught is Obamacare, but not for long. As Trump said at the GOP tax bill celebration, “we peeled Obamacare because we got rid of the individual mandate which was terrible” which is, as he clarified, “a primary source of funding of Obamacare”.

Clever. One can only hope that the Republican party will come up with a solution for the millions of Americans slated to lose coverage. So far, there is none on offer. Foreign observers (myself included) marvel that America has still not accepted the principle of free universal access to healthcare, first launched in Germany in 1883.

Read the rest on Impakter, click here.

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I Support Net Neutrality!

Come and join me in this fight! Your freedom depends on it. Seriously. Read this excellent article written by my friend Hannah Fischer-Lauder – I am so happy to share it with you here, it’s just published on Impakter:



On November 21, the new head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Mr Ajit Pai, detonated a bomb on the Internet, announcing his plan to do away with net neutrality.

Why a bomb?

It’s very simple: eliminating net neutrality is a direct threat to consumers, start-ups and small businesses. A threat to all of us. It is the end of an open Internet. Anyone who cannot pay for access will be penalized.



No, despite the avalanche of pro-net neutrality comments that flooded the FCC website when it called for comments (as it must, by law), he disregarded what real people had to say to him. I write “real people” because the FCC website got so messed up – hackers even attacked it in May –  that, in the end, there were 22 million plus comments, most of them from bots.

Bots, fake comments on a government website? Yes, it’s not a joke. NY Attorney General Schneiderman on 21 November, in an open letter to the FCC Chairman, told him that in his estimation, hundreds of thousands of Americans’ identities were stolen and used in spam campaigns to support repealing net neutrality.

But there’s more.

Read the rest on Impakter, click here.

Be sure to go to the end of the article, it gives you tips (and links) on what you can do to help in the fight against the FCC planned repeal of net neutrality regulations. And there’s a lot you can do, sign petitions, write letters, share online. 

Mr. Pai has scheduled the FCC vote on repeal for December 14. There is no time to lose!

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