Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Trump's Map For Palestine

Trump peace plan: Palestinian state, Israeli control of settlements

Trump's peace plan is a realistic vision Trump has shown a propensity to violate accepted norms. And when you have a conflict that has existed for so long, with all the players refusing to deviate from many assumptions - you need a leader who can operate outside those lines. ..... Trump has approached the conflict through a sober lens rooted in reality. ..... If the Trump plan is even partially embraced, this would demonstrate that the Israeli public has completely moved on from the failed thinking of the last many decades, pushed by the DC/European based peace process industry. ....... The key to actually ending the conflict is having the bravery to live in reality and allow any peace process that is proposed to be based on that truth. It is that need for courageous action that has stymied every US President - until now.

The international community should say no to the Trump plan runs counter to previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements and understandings on core issues of the conflict: borders, settlements, Jerusalem, and even refugees. It serves a right-wing political ideology and electoral goals, while distancing peace. ...... endangers Israel’s future in the Middle East rather than improves it. ..... ....The administration adopted a series of measures that affected the situation on the ground and, in fact, promoted the principles of the plan even before its publication.

Why the Palestinian leadership should not reject Trump’s peace plan We are hopeful that many Palestinians will see the advantages of counting to 10 before officially reacting to the proposed peace plan and the vision it contains for both Palestinians and Israelis............. it would not surprise anyone if the Palestinian Authority’s first reaction will be outright rejection of the plan without even reading it. ....... what of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad? One does not have to wonder what their likely reactions will be. ....... review the plan, study it and systematically outline its objections to it ....... Palestinians can keep waiting for a better deal, but in all likelihood, it may never come........ Palestinians should recognize what is possible and refrain from being driven solely by what they view as just. ....... The likelihood of another presidential term for President Trump is extremely high......... A main Palestinian objection to their participation in the Bahrain Economic Conference held in 2019 was the introduction of the economic portion of the peace plan prior to the political portion. With the release of the political portion of the peace plan, Palestinians can now understand the tremendous advantages of the economic benefits that a signed peace agreement can provide to all Palestinians.......... Within a decade’s time, Palestinians can become economically successful, trading freely and securing investment from all over the world. There is no reason why Palestinians cannot become another “start-up” society. ......... Americans and Israelis, among so many others, can be trading with and investing with Palestinians...... Palestinians have much to lose if they reject the proposed peace plan.


Trump unveils Middle East peace plan with two-state solution, tunnel connecting West Bank and Gaza "This is a great deal," Trump said. "And the Palestinians may not have this opportunity ever again." ...... The Israeli leader added that past deals had not had the "right balance between Israeli security and Palestinians aspirations." ....... Under the plan, the Palestinians would have to reach certain benchmarks to achieve a state. Those benchmarks include rooting out terrorism, stopping what they call “pay to slay,” implementing steps toward free speech, and other political reforms. ...... The plan is a basis for negotiations with Israel, Trump officials said, claiming many of the Palestinians' red lines are met, including their calls for a Palestinian state and a capital in parts of East Jerusalem........ The vision calls for more than doubling the amount of territory the Palestinians control. ...... This is the first time Israel has agreed to a Palestinian state with defined borders. ...... A small strip of land between the Egyptian border and the proposed land swap areas south of Gaza would remain Israeli territory and be subject to Israeli security control. This was requested by Egypt as a buffer against cross-border terrorism. ...... As part of the plan, Israel has agreed to halt settlement construction for four years. But in one detail sure to provoke Palestinian objections, the plan recognizes Israeli sovereignty over major settlement blocs in the West Bank.....

Both Netanyahu and his political challenger, Benny Gantz, have agreed to implement this plan, regardless of the outcome of the upcoming March 2 election.

........ the Trump administration’s moves to relocate the embassy and recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan were important confidence-building measures that led to this plan. ........ While Trump and Netanyahu were giving their comments, Palestinian leaders were meeting in the West Bank to discuss the plan....... Hamas, the Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist militant organization that has waged war with Israel for decades, rejected the plan and called it a "theatrical presentation to sell illusions" in a comment to Fox News.

Arafat rejects Clinton peace plan The US president-elect, George W Bush, said that Mr Clinton was "giving it the very best shot he can, and I certainly hope it works".

Arafat didn't negotiate - he just kept saying no The true story of Camp David was that for the first time in the history of the conflict the American president put on the table a proposal, based on UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, very close to the Palestinian demands, and Arafat refused even to accept it as a basis for negotiations, walked out of the room ......... The proposals included the establishment of a demilitarised Palestinian state on some 92% of the West Bank and 100% of the Gaza Strip, with some territorial compensation for the Palestinians from pre-1967 Israeli territory; the dismantling of most of the settlements and the concentration of the bulk of the settlers inside the 8% of the West Bank to be annexed by Israel; the establishment of the Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem, in which some Arab neighborhoods would become sovereign Palestinian territory and others would enjoy "functional autonomy"; Palestinian sovereignty over half the Old City of Jerusalem (the Muslim and Christian quarters) and "custodianship," though not sovereignty, over the Temple Mount; a return of refugees to the prospective Palestinian state though with no "right of return" to Israel proper; and the organisation by the international community of a massive aid programme to facilitate the refugees' rehabilitation.......

Arafat said no. Enraged, Clinton banged on the table and said: "You are leading your people and the region to a catastrophe." ...... Today Barak portrays Arafat's behaviour at Camp David as a "performance" geared to exacting from the Israelis as many concessions as possible without ever seriously intending to reach a peace settlement or sign an "end to the conflict"....... "He did not negotiate in good faith; indeed, he did not negotiate at all. He just kept saying no to every offer, never making any counterproposals of his own"

...... He seems to think in terms of generations and hesitantly predicts that only "80 years" after 1948 will the Palestinians be historically ready for a compromise. By then, most of the generation that experienced the catastrophe of 1948 at first hand will have died; there will be "very few 'salmons' around who still want to return to their birthplaces to die". ....... Barak recalled seeing David Ben-Gurion, Israel's founder and first prime minister (1948-53 and 1955-63), on television in June 1967 arguing for the immediate withdrawal from all the territories occupied in the six-day war in exchange for peace, save for East Jerusalem........ "Many of us - me included - thought that he was suffering from [mental] weakness or perhaps a subconscious jealousy of his successor [Levi Eshkol, who had presided over the unprecedented victory and conquests]. Today one understands that he simply saw more clearly and farther than the leadership at that time."

Trump plan will 'finish off Palestinian cause', PM warns US president's proposal will dash hopes for an independent state, Palestinians officials say. ....... Palestinian leaders say they were not invited to Washington and no plan can work without them. ..... Shtayyeh said Trump and Netanyahu were using the proposal as a distraction from their domestic troubles. ........ "This plan is to protect Trump against being impeached and to protect Netanyahu from going to jail, and it is not a peace plan," Shtayyeh said at a cabinet meeting in Ramallah.

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Appropriately Named Mr. Bolton

For the first time it feels like Trump actually could get kicked out.

And by the way, this blog has been getting a lot of traffic from Ukraine. It is actually the number one country source even beating the US for now.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Tarantino's Hong Kong Love

“There, amidst all the ginseng root and spices, there’d be a little video section. I’d be the only white guy in the place. And I became voracious about it. I don’t think I realised how many rules American cinema had until I saw Hong Kong cinema break them.”

Monday, January 20, 2020

Why Trump Ought To Be Impeached

I would like to leave the nuances of Ukraine to the elected politicians on Capitol Hill -- they get paid well enough -- and at some level I recognize that the Kentuckian McConnell -- and to think I spent five and a half years in Kentucky -- will manage to repeat the partisanship exhibited by his party in the lower chamber where Nancy Pelosi single-handedly architected the process, but I still harbor the fantasy that Trump might get impeached for reasons bigger than Ukraine, and even Russia.

The president should be elected democratically, which means one person one vote. He was never elected. In the majority of countries, if you can collect three million votes, you can become president. He was way short.

The low unemployment numbers widely advertised are a sham. The actual numbers are at least twice as large. Post-2008 America has seen an epidemic of lower-paying jobs.

The stock markets are another sham. Companies are buying their own stocks. That is company money paying for the rise in share price to the benefit of the top share-owning executives. Productive investments are not being made. Buying your own stocks is eating potato chips.

Donald Trump rightly pointed out the massive loss of manufacturing jobs, but he did not have a solution then, he does not have a solution now. The losses are structural. This is more like the loss of agricultural jobs at the onset of the first and second industrial revolutions powered by steam and electricity. Universal health, universal education, and universal basic income will build the foundation for real solutions to create the knowledge and service jobs of tomorrow. Here is looking at you Bernie and Andrew Yang.

The guy is everything you feared old white men were: racist and sexist. And he lies like nobody in the public sphere. He is a post-truther who needs to be ditched.

But the number one reason in the climate. The clock is ticking. Four more years of the leading villain country behind climate change doing nothing is 12 years minus four years left to fight climate catastrophe. There is a cliff ahead. Send him to Australia for some education. He is fit to study abroad.

There is also World War III. We don't want World War III.

His getting impeached will open up the possibility of someone like Ted Cruz grabbing the Republican nomination. I have plenty of policy disagreements with Ted Cruz. But at least he is not foul-mouthed. He has basic decency. He is textbook conservative. Legitimate disagreements become possible. Genuine conservatives are not fact-free. And when you face facts, you move from climate denial to offering conservative solutions to climate change, which might rely more on tech entrepreneurs delivering faster on cleantech advances. I can live with that.

And America does not need more dynasties. America does not need to get triggered.

US Impeachment Sausage Drama: Quantum Politics?
The Dollar, Weaponized
Taiwan's Medicare For All
Trade War Temporary Truce: Phase 1
Africa's Moment To Shine
The Impeachment Slog
Trump's Iran Speech
Trump: Morally Lost And Confused?
Impeachment Maneuvers Expose America

Sunday, January 19, 2020

US Impeachment Sausage Drama: Quantum Politics?

Quantum physics was initially rejected by eminent physicists like Einstein because it appeared subjective. What you see depends on how you are looking at it. There was no objective reality.

Is Trump guilty? Not guilty? Depends on who is looking. This is new territory. What we have is quantum politics.

Mitch McConnell may win the impeachment and lose the Senate
Is Mike Pence preparing to resign, assume the presidency, or both?
House Democrats may call new impeachment witnesses if Senate doesn't
Cruz: Hearing from witnesses could extend Senate trial to up to 8 weeks

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Dollar, Weaponized

America started using the dollar system as a geopolitical weapon in earnest after the attacks of September 11th 2001. President Donald Trump has taken this policy to a new level of intensity, using sanctions as his main foreign-policy tool and even targeting allies with “secondary” sanctions that punish anyone who trades with states in America’s bad books. America’s power ultimately stems from its ability to prohibit firms from using its financial system, in turn leaving them isolated and unable to interact with most counterparties. Often the effect is fatal....... Russia has substantially de-dollarised its trade flows, foreign debt and bank assets. ...... Russia, China, India and others are discussing—and signing—bilateral or wider deals to settle trade in national currencies. They are also exploring alternatives to swift, the dominant payments-messaging network, over which America holds sway. Europe, meanwhile, has built Instex, a clearing-house, that could allow its firms to trade with Iran while bypassing America’s financial cops. ...... Central bankers from Europe to China are stepping up work on public digital currencies. These could help bring down the cost of electronic cross-border payments, which is still relatively high. Some foresee the creation of cryptobaskets of reserve currencies. ....... an inflection point has been reached. Since Mr Trump began firing off financial ordnance, his targets have gone from merely musing about breaking free from the dollar to doing something about it ..... the dollar’s current pre-eminence is not an unalloyed good for America: it distorts the currency’s value (upwards) and market interest rates (downwards). ...... Some economists believe the Depression was partly caused by the absence of a hegemon to steady the world economy.

Taiwan's Medicare For All

In the 1990s, Taiwan did what has long been considered impossible in the US: The island of 24 million people took a fractured and inequitable health care system and transformed it into something as close to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s vision of Medicare-for-all as anything in the world......... No health care system is perfect. But most of America’s economic peers have figured out a way to deliver truly universal coverage and quality care. The United States has not.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Trade War Temporary Truce: Phase 1

As part of the deal, the United States agreed to cancel the 15-percent tariffs that had been scheduled to take effect on December 15 on $160 billion worth of Chinese goods, and to halve an earlier set of tariffs on another $120 billion worth of goods. In exchange, China agreed to increase its purchase of U.S. products by $200 billion in the next two years. ....... To reach the next phase will require each side to determine what fundamental concessions it might be willing to offer the other. ........

Trump’s 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports will remain, as will China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.

..... Washington presented several Chinese pledges as concessions to U.S. concerns about Beijing’s trade practices. But these promised measures are either vague or extensions of policies already in place. Indeed, China had initiated most, if not all, of these measures—including steps to reform foreign ownership limits, currency exchange policies, and intellectual property protections—well before the trade war began. ........ As early as 2017, China had begun lifting foreign ownership restrictions—limitations that prevented foreigners from having controlling interests or, in some cases, any interest at all in firms operating in China—in many industries, ranging from financial services to the automotive sector, with the aim of removing all limits in a few years. In financial services, including banking, securities, asset management, and insurance, majority foreign ownership was allowed for the first time in June 2018, and ownership limits (now at 51 percent) are set to be completely removed in 2020. Ironically, the pace of change might have been faster if not for the trade war, which forced China to withhold some reforms. ......... Since 1994, China’s central bank has usually intervened to prop up the yuan, not to weaken it. ....... Regarding intellectual property, China has significantly tightened rules and enforcement in recent years. Beijing set up specialized intellectual property courts in three major cities in 2014 and intermediate-level tribunals in 17 provinces in 2017. In the last four years, China’s Supreme Court has issued guidelines and policies on the judicial protection of intellectual property rights. These have strengthened the courts’ jurisdiction over intellectual property infringement cases and provided a framework for damages. The Supreme Court inaugurated its own permanent intellectual property court on January 1, 2019. ........... China’s total intellectual property payments to foreigners have grown on average 20 percent per year since 2000, far outpacing the median growth rate of 9.5 percent across all countries, according to a study by Shang-jin Wei, a professor at Columbia University. The improved regime of intellectual property protection helps explain why China attracts more foreign direct investment than any other country except the United States.......... The trade war has so far failed to achieve Washington’s stated objectives—namely, to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States and narrow the country’s trade deficit.

By September 2019, U.S. manufacturing had sunk to a more than ten-year low, and it has continued to weaken since. The U.S. trade deficit with the rest of the world has ballooned from $544 billion in 2016 to $691 billion in the 12 months ending in October.

.......... Tariffs on Chinese goods have backfired, in that U.S. consumers have paid almost their entire cost ....... China’s export prices to the United States have not really changed since the trade war began. .......

There are, of course, no winners in this trade war, and to think otherwise is delusional.

........ The longer the trade war drags on, the more damage both countries and the world economy will sustain. Already, global supply chains are disrupted. More consequential will be the oft-talked-about “decoupling” of U.S. and Chinese technological systems. Technology companies used to boast that “the world is our market.” No longer. ............

the ten largest U.S. semiconductor companies earn a combined revenue in China ($79.3 billion) nearly three times their sales in the United States ($28.1 billion)

. All of these firms are now forecasting significantly lower sales to China........ With Phase II negotiations ahead, a wide gap still separates the two sides on major issues, and the prospect of serious compromise remains distant. ......... Neither side has provided concrete details on what it hopes to achieve in the next round of negotiations. But China’s main objectives are unequivocal. Beijing wants Washington to remove all the tariffs imposed since the trade war began, and it will be prepared to reciprocate in kind. It wants the United States to drop its sanctions on Chinese technology firms such as Huawei, and to relax restrictions on Chinese investments in the United States. ......... The ultimate goal of the next stage of negotiations for both sides should be very clear: to reach an equitable deal that lowers barriers to trade and investment.

If both countries follow the same rule-based system, freer trade lowers consumer prices, promotes competition, improves efficiency, stimulates innovation, and ultimately leads to greater economic growth.

In the service of this aim, each country must determine what its real objectives are and prepare to make important concessions. ........... The United States must decide whether what it really wants is access to the Chinese market and better prices for U.S. consumers, or whether it simply wants to contain China’s rise at all costs. Washington cannot have it both ways. The former aim could ultimately lead to a trade deal, but the latter never will. ........

For its part, Beijing must finally decide what to do with the most pernicious holdover from its planned economy days: China’s inefficient state-owned sector.

....... China’s own stated goal is to let the market be the decisive force in the allocation of resources in the country. China should continue to restructure, reform, downsize, and privatize the state sector in accordance with this goal, not just because doing so may entice the United States to stop the trade war but because such reforms will be good for China. Whenever China has undertaken market reforms, for example in 1992 and in the early 2000s, its economic growth has surged. Conversely, its growth suffers when the pace of reform slows down. .........

If Phase II leads the United States and China to more trade and greater economic cooperation than they had before the trade war, then both countries will have managed to win.

Weijian Shan Prior to TPG Capital, Mr Shan worked, between 1993 and 1998 at JP Morgan as a Managing Director, concurrently serving as its China Representative, Chief Representative for JP Morgan Beijing Office and Chief Representative for JP Morgan Shanghai Office......... Mr Shan was a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania for six years before joining JP Morgan........ Mr Shan worked as an investment officer at the World Bank in Washington D.C. in 1987.......Mr Shan received a Ph.D. and a Masters of Arts in economics from University of California at Berkeley, an MBA from University of San Francisco.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Africa's Moment To Shine

A united Africa may give China its moment to shine "The launch of the AfCFTA breaks new grounds for China-Africa cooperation,'' said Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for the Chinese minister of foreign affairs. Beijing, he said, will continue investing in "infrastructure connectivity, trade facilities and industrial promotion" under the country's Belt and Road Initiative. ........ In 2018, US-Africa trade shrank to $61bn, barely 45 percent of its 2008 value. During the same period, the value of trade between China and Africa exceeded $200bn, and projections suggest it is still growing. ........ On July 1, 2020, most AfCFTA-ratifying countries will start removing customs tariffs on 90 percent of imported goods that were made in Africa, with the aim of removing them completely before 2035. ..... Kituyi worries that

a recent move by the administration of US President Donald Trump to restart "bilateral agreements with African countries" works against African's effort to build a common market

. If the US would "change their position and embrace negotiating with the continent as a whole, we'll have grounds to celebrate", the UN official said. ........ Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Richard Sezibera, said he would also welcome "negotiated agreements with the US, such as those we're conducting with Europe". ....... ....2016, when Rwandan President Paul Kagame raised taxes on Western-imported second-hand clothes, prompting the US to raise its tariffs on Rwandan imports. .......

Rwanda, Sezibera stressed, "is the second-best place to do business in Africa and the 29th in the world according to the World Bank".

...... But the free trade zone, she said, "motivates us to strengthen the peace process, so that we might regain control over all our territory and trigger our full economic potential, especially in agriculture, which employs 75 percent of our labour force and needs to become more productive".

Modi's Bad Economic Performance

Indian Prime Minister Modi's Lawless Reign of Terror Narendra Modi relies on private militants allied with his party to crack down on dissent. ...... recent events suggest that the real Gujarat Model that Modi had in mind was something else entirely: a government that looks the other way as private militants violently attack disfavored groups. ...... the growing youth resistance against his "papers, please" citizenship law. ...... On Sunday evening, January 5, 40 to 50 hoodlums, mostly men but also a few women, faces partially wrapped in scarfs, armed with clubs, iron rods, and sledgehammers, stormed the campus. Eyewitness accounts and video footage suggest that several of these people were members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a student union associated with Modi's party. They approached a group of students protesting a sudden, massive fee hike and began thrashing them. They bloodied the student president, Aishe Ghosh, and many others.......... Then, chanting that the students were traitors who deserve to be shot for opposing the administration, the attackers barged into dorm rooms and went on a rampage, taking care to spare rooms that sported ABVP posters. Muslim students were of course fair game. And so was a blind Hindu student, a Sanskrit scholar and a student of Hinduism no less, whose wall sported a picture of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, India's reformist founding father. (Ambedkar has fallen from grace in pro-Modi circles because he was a vigorous opponent of the caste system and other regressive Hindu practices and because his ideas are fueling the constitutional case against Modi's Hindu nationalism.) ....... JNU's vice-chancellor, who is appointed by the central government, failed to mobilize campus security to stop the mayhem. The Delhi police, which is under the command of the Modi government rather than local authorities, ignored the frantic calls of students for over an hour. A veritable battalion of cops was standing right outside the campus gates, but not a single one went in to stop the attack. The cops even stood by as ambulances were vandalized right in front of them. ......... law enforcement standing by as private militants allied with the ruling party go on a violent spree, criminalizing the victims, spreading disinformation to confuse the public—was Modi's modus operandi in Gujarat. .......... A few weeks ago, cops appeared to vandalize Jamia Millia University, a Muslim institution in New Delhi. Modi's comrade, Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, went even further. His police showed up at Aligarh Muslim University and roughed up students protesting Modi's faith-cleansing policies that would strip an untold number of Indian Muslims of citizenship. ........... no one outside of Modi's band of merry brothers is safe in India anymore. All of India is Gujarat now. Dissent is out. Violence is in........ As one poster at a protest noted: "First AMU. Then JNU. Next You."

PM Modi, Amit Shah misled people on CAA, NRC: Sonia Gandhi The nation has watched in horror at the "BJP-orchestrated assault" on JNU after what happened in Jamia, BHU, Allahabad university and AMU

'Challenge PM To Tell Students Why Economy A Basket Case': Rahul Gandhi Congress MP Rahul Gandhi today said he challenges Prime Minister Narendra Modi to go to universities and tell students what he will do to improve the economy. ....... in a blow to opposition unity, six key parties - including the Trinamool Congress, BSP, Shiv Sena, DMK and the Samajwadi Party - are skipping the meet. Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party said it was not even invited for the meeting.

What Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Said About Amended Citizenship Law Satya Nadella's comment was backed by noted historian Ramachandra Guha, who wished that big names in the Indian IT industry would summon the "courage" to make a similar statement. ....... "I think what is happening is sad... It's just bad....

I would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant who comes to India and creates the next unicorn in India

or becomes the next CEO of Infosys" ....... A group of over 150 Indian-origin professionals employed with tech giants such as Google, Uber, Amazon and Facebook had earlier written an open letter against the Citizenship Amendment Act and a possible nationwide National Register of Citizens, dubbing both the initiatives as "fascist". ........ "The CAA 2019 combined with the NRC is a deeply anti-Muslim scheme that will create greater statelessness and global disparity for Muslims, growing worse with India's economic decline and climate change" ...... The United Nations Human Rights Office has also termed the amended law as "fundamentally discriminatory", saying that it "undermines" the commitment to equality enshrined in the Indian constitution....... BJP MP Tejasvi Surya has clamed that only "illiterates and puncture-wallahs" are opposed to the amended Citizenship Act.

The attacks on two Delhi universities reveal Modi’s targets: Muslims and their allies the police remained decorously outside the gates of

Jawaharlal Nehru University, India’s most well known, cordoning off the campus as masked goons armed with iron rods and improvised bludgeons ran riot inside.

They broke into a hostel reserved for women students, inflicted head injuries on the president of JNU’s student union, who is a woman, and attacked faculty members who tried to protect them. Some 20 students and teachers were hospitalised. After three hours of thuggery the police entered the university at the vice-chancellor’s belated invitation but made no arrests because the criminals had mysteriously slipped away despite the police cordon. ....... Jamia and JNU are centrally funded universities that have attracted the violent displeasure of Modi’s government for different but related reasons. Taken together, these reasons define the ruling Bharatiya Janata party’s majoritarian project – its reason for being. ......... The NRC is the citizenship act’s evil twin; those who aren’t able to document their claim to being Indian before the tribunals of the NRC will be cast into limbo – but non-Muslims among them can hope to be rescued by the CAA’s amnesty. ...... Jamia was brazenly attacked by the police of this would-be Hindu nation because the government was confident that making a violent example of a Muslim university would play well in public. ........ the assault galvanised Muslims all over the country into spontaneous and sustained resistance to the CAA and NRC ...... the police atrocities in Jamia led to huge demonstrations of solidarity in colleges and universities all over India and sparked a fire of resistance, against the furtive bigotry of the CAA, which continues to burn. .......... The BJP has long believed that its anti-Muslim project has two enemies: Muslims, and those non-Muslims who see Muslims as equal citizens under the constitution. The Delhi police made an example of Jamia as a warning to India’s Muslims. When that didn’t go according to plan, the same police travelled several miles across the city to help make an example of a university that the BJP sees as the institutional incarnation of the secularism that might yet thwart its dreams of a Hindu nation. Since majoritarian parties are constitutionally incapable of empathy, the BJP understands JNU’s brand of secular solidarity as a form of Hindu self-hatred. ......... the BJP’s loathing of the university is obsessive and wildly out of proportion to the threat that its students and teachers pose.

Is the Indian economy headed for a middle-income trap? Once promising economies like Mexico, Brazil, or Turkey could never attain the prosperity of western Europe or Japan, because they fell into what experts call the “middle-income trap.” ....... a sustained economic slowdown following a period of strong growth. ...... “We will be a Brazil, we will be a South Africa” but will never replicate the growth trajectories of China, or South Korea ....... “No country which has been in (a middle-income trap) has been able to come out of it.” ......

India’s economy is facing a structural slowdown.

....... India won’t even become an upper middle-income country (per capita income between $3,896-12,055) by the 2030s ......

Escaping the middle-income trap requires serious reforms such as flexible land and labour laws. The Narendra Modi government, on the other hand, is obsessed with furthering its political agenda

....... The economic reforms that India unleashed in 1991 led to a period of strong growth lifting millions out of poverty and increasing the size of the economy by almost nine times in about 30 years. ....... there was no mass shift from farm to factories. India failed to create a robust manufacturing sector, which today accounts for less than 17% of the economic output. ........ forcing a staggering 81% of the workforce to be employed in the informal sector. ....... The manufacturing sector, though, is most important because it is labour-intensive. ...... implementing

land and labour reforms

to bring capital costs down...... the primary fixes that would ensure India does not fall into the middle-income trap. ....... India’s declining investment rates, high levels of capital concentration in the corporate sector, and lack of good infrastructure access are deeply concerning indicators. ......... long-term structural reforms and provision of better social security to people ...... unequal income distribution is another key driver of the middle-income trap and suggests higher investments in human capital to escape it. ........ India at a lowly 115th out of 157 countries in its Global Human Capital Index rankings ..... “No country has moved to high-income category without taking care of these bottlenecks.”

After years of falling, poverty in India may have risen again since GST and demonetisation Poverty and malnutrition in India may have increased substantially in 2017-18, leading to a fall in consumer spending in the country for the first time in over four decades. ...... The fall in overall consumption (by 3.7%) in 2017-18 is the first since the 1972-73 global oil crisis ........ “In the last five decades at least, there has never been a period that consumption expenditure in real terms has declined. This data clearly shows that poverty levels would have gone up substantially. A back of the envelope calculation would suggest that the percentage of population in poverty would have gone up by at least 10 percentage points.” ........ In 2011-12, the share of India’s population living below the poverty line stood at 22%, much lower than the 30% recorded two years earlier, and 37% recorded in 2004-05 ...... NSO’s current findings suggest these gains may have been nearly offset by 2017-18. ........ consumers were penny-pinching on not only clothing, education, and rent but even food. ....... Rural consumers spent an average of Rs580 ($8) per month on food in 2017-18, down 10% from Rs643 in 2011-12. Urban consumers, on the other hand, spent Rs946 on average on food, nearly the same (Rs943) as in 2011-12. ........ The country’s GDP growth stood at a six-year low of 5% in April-June 2019. ......

these wounds may have been self-inflicted. The survey was conducted between July 2017 and June 2018, coinciding with the rollout of the goods and services tax (GST) and came a few months after demonetisation.

........ In 2017-18, India’s unemployment rate stood at a 45-year high of 6.1%

India’s economic slump is far too deep to be tackled with mere tinkering of interest rates
Modi inherits a troubled economy—all credit goes to him

India Has Worst Economy In 42 Years. Is Prime Minister Modi Watching?

The only real debate about India’s economy is exactly when things were as bad as they are in 2020.

...... Modi rose to power in 2014 promising to supersize the “Gujarat model” that brought him to national prominence. His 14 years running that western state morphed Modi into a folk hero. On his watch, Gujarat often produced growth faster than the national average, fewer regulations, better infrastructure and less corruption. Voters elected Modi to bring those policies to New Delhi. ....... The populist did put some wins on the scoreboard. Modi announced plans to cut bureaucracy and opened sectors like aviation, defense and insurance to increased foreign investment. Passing a national goods-and-services tax was no small feat. Then Modi largely rested on his laurels, shelving deeper reforms amid healthy global growth. ....... India would be growing faster if Modi had acted more boldly to upend vested interests. Modi, for example, punted on the truly epochal reforms India needs to compete and become more inclusive: changes to laws on labor, land and taxation. The government slow-walked efforts to clean up a banking system awash in bad loans. ....... Then there are the self-inflicted wounds. A poorly executed move to take all high-denomination banknotes from circulation to attack graft shoulder-checked the economy. A botched GST rollout confused corporate chieftains and actually depressed tax revenues. ........ Modi the populist rabble-rouser will dominate his second term, not the economic change agent most voters wanted. ....... Will that support be there, though, if Modi’s distraction delivers a “Hindu rate of growth” instead? The reference here is to the low annual growth rates India produced prior to a liberalization push in 1991. .......

India isn’t where Modi boosters thought it would be in 2020.

..... the political equivalent of human nature: it’s always easier to add liquidity than remove barriers to growth and efficiency. Look no further than the Philippines and South Korea these days. Yet all that largess takes the onus off India’s banks, particularly state-owned ones, to write down distressed assets.

Modi's Self-Destructive Behavior

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Impeachment Slog

The Supreme Court can legally step in if McConnell tries to push through an unfair impeachment trial: attorney “If such a sham trial comes to pass, is there any remedy? In fact, there is a stronger case than many think that the Supreme Court has the power to review impeachment trials, to ensure that Senate procedures meet a basic level of fairness.” ....... Chief Justice John Roberts has the right and duty to step in if he sees justice not being served. ...... “Since the Constitution grants the chief justice the privilege of presiding over the trial, he ought to have — and in my view does have, under proper constitutional interpretation — considerable power to steer the Senate toward reasonable standards for weighing evidence and rendering judgments. He cannot and should not be a potted plant.” ..... “If McConnell and his Republican colleagues insist on setting rules that turn the trial into a farce, then the matter would be ripe for judicial review, as outlined by the various justices in Nixon v. United States. The House — through the speaker or the impeachment managers — could take the matter to court,” he concluded.

We Found Major Trump Tax Inconsistencies. New York’s Mayor Wants a Criminal Investigation. Asked about ProPublica’s findings that the president’s company made itself appear more profitable to lenders and less to tax officials, Bill de Blasio said the city had examined the matter and sent its findings to the Manhattan district attorney.

Pack the Union: A Proposal to Admit New States for the Purpose of Amending the Constitution to Ensure Equal Representation For most of the twenty-first century, the world’s oldest surviving democracy has been led by a chief executive who received fewer votes than his opponent in an election for the position..... The first of these executives started a war based on false pretenses that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians..... The second — a serial abuser of women who hired as his campaign manager a lobbyist for violent dictatorships — authorized an immigration policy that forcibly separated migrant children from their families and indefinitely detained them in facilities described as “concentration camps.”...... federal elections in the United States are profoundly undemocratic and, thus, profoundly unfair ...... The Electoral College — when it contravenes the popular vote — is an obvious example of this unfairness. But it is just one of the mathematically undemocratic features in the Constitution. Equal representation of states in the Senate, for example, gives citizens of low-population states undue influence in Congress. Conversely, American citizens residing in U.S. territories have no meaningful representation in Congress or the Electoral College. ...... Just as it was unfair to exclude women and minorities from the franchise, so too is it unfair to weight votes differently. The 600,000 residents of Wyoming and the 40,000,000 residents of California should not be represented by the same number of senators. ....... Article V of the Constitution requires supermajorities to amend the Constitution, so pragmatists have been reduced to advocating meager solutions: perhaps Congress could admit Washington, D.C., as a state; maybe Puerto Rico too, if we’re really feeling ambitious. ......

four amendments: (1) a transfer of the Senate’s power to a body that represents citizens equally; (2) an expansion of the House so that all citizens are represented in equal-sized districts; (3) a replacement of the Electoral College with a popular vote; and (4) a modification of the Constitution’s amendment process that would ensure future amendments are ratified by states representing most Americans.

Donald Trump's Iran claims on Fox News met with skepticism and complaint President says four US embassies ‘probably’ targeted but Democratic senator calls for new intelligence briefing

John Bolton impeachment testimony will be blocked, Donald Trump says
Bloomberg Spent $200 Million and Isn’t on Track to Score a Single Delegate

China And Xi

For Xi Jinping, the biggest danger to the Communist Party is itself under the official hyperbole that China is fast becoming a world power lies one factor which keeps Chinese leaders awake at night – their capacity to manage the complex challenges at home and abroad in order to stay in power. ........ past plenums have often heralded the country’s most important political or economic changes. ........ For instance, back in 1978 at the third plenum of the 11th Central Committee, Deng Xiaoping orchestrated China’s epoch-making shift towards reform and opening up, making “economic construction” the mantra to replace Mao Zedong’s “class struggle” and putting the Chinese economy on the path of rapid development. ........ their well-vaunted governance model, which they have been trumpeting as a viable alternative for other developing countries. This basically means that in return for allowing market forces to play an important role in the economy and in improving people’s living standards, the Chinese leadership maintains tight autocratic control and cracks down on political dissent, as opposed to the liberty and values espoused by Western democracies. ........ “party, government, military, civilian, academic; east, west, south, north, and the centre, the party leads everything”. ............ from Xi’s own perspective, the biggest danger to the rule of the party is the party itself....... “I believe the one who can defeat us is ourselves, no one else,” he said of the ruling party, which has 89 million members and 4.5 million grass-roots branches. .........

He ruminated that when the Soviet Communist Party had 200,000 members, it seized power. When it had two million members, it defeated an invasion by Nazi Germany in World War II. But it lost power when it had 20 million members.

........... On the Chinese mainland, Xi’s anti-corruption campaign has decisively tamed widespread official corruption, but its side-effects have also become obvious. One of them is that officials have retreated into a lethargic mode and are averse to making any decisions, obfuscating government directives in order to deflect responsibilities. ......... the party’s forceful efforts to assert control have unnerved an increasing number of private entrepreneurs, reducing their appetite for investment. This has led to a downward trend for overall private investment, dragging down economic growth........ Even well-known political figures and businesspeople often disappear for months, if not years, before reports emerge that they are being held on corruption allegations. ........Hong Kong people’s distrust of the Chinese mainland’s law enforcement and judicial system was one of the key reasons behind massive protests against the now-withdrawn extradition bill, which would have allowed the city to send suspects to the mainland. The protests have since morphed into a wider anti-government and pro-democracy movement....... More than 40 years have passed since Deng made the monumental shift from Mao’s class struggle to a national emphasis on economic construction. Time is due for the Chinese leadership to make another strategic shift to the rule of law if China wants to become a responsible and respected world leader.

How the Hong Kong protests affected overseas Chinese in Asia and beyond The anti-government demonstrations have not only impacted those in the city, they have been felt by Chinese communities everywhere from New Zealand to Canada ...... But protesters in India and Indonesia also described learning lessons from Hong Kong demonstrators ........ The estimated 1.5 million Chinese students studying at campuses around the world faced increased scrutiny as the protests in Hong Kong garnered international attention, especially when they defended Beijing’s policies. ........ South Korean students have complained about being targets of cyberbullying and doxxing in response to their support for Hong Kong protesters. ........ Several Chinese students who spoke to This Week in Asia, especially those who are apolitical, said they had tried to avoid engaging others on the issue, but increasingly felt like they were being forced to pick sides. “You are either pro-democracy, pro-human rights, or you are pro-China. They are putting us in this awkward position. We cannot say we are anti-China because we are from China,” one student said. ....... 208 Canadian Chinese groups in July jointly signing ads in Chinese-language newspapers in Canada denouncing the “radical” Hong Kong protesters.......... In September, thousands of Indonesians took to the streets to protest against the government’s proposed legislative changes, which critics said would restrict free speech and discriminate against women and minorities. ....... More recently, protests have flared up in India over the government’s controversial new citizenship law, which would grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan..... A social media campaign soon started in solidarity with the mostly students who were assaulted while protesting against the law, taking lessons from other such movements such as the Hong Kong protests.

One of the first things they did was download the Bridgefy app, which allowed them to communicate with each other via Bluetooth, amid rumours that mobile and internet connections would be shut down.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Modi's Self-Destructive Behavior

Modi traveled the world. It felt like he was always on a plane to somewhere. When he landed in Delhi, it was for a few days of rest before he took off again. He held monstrous rallies of Indians around the world. Donald Trump never held a bigger rally inside the United States. And all that exposure added to India's soft power. Modi became the most popular politician in the world. After long decades India again had one party that could get a majority in the parliament on its own. Ideology aside, that means some stability. He even took action on Ease Of Doing Business, and India rose up in the ranks. FDI was on the uptick.

I have tried very hard to see the good in Modi. His rise from his humble background to the top office in India is noteworthy. I bought into what I thought was his laser focus on development issues when he ran in 2014. I do think he is personally incorruptible. But then that was also true of his predecessor, Dr. Manmohan Singh. Singh was never accused of having taken any bribes. Personally, he was not. His cabinet was another story. In Modi's case, he seems to have an iron grip on his cabinet, and the anti-corruption aura extends beyond him.

The jury is still out on demonetization. And the implementation of the GST (Goods and Services Tax) has seen much criticism. Done right, that was supposed to unify the Indian market. I don't have enough data on what actually happened.

Even before he made his Kashmir move, I am on record at this very blog saying the key to peace between India and Pakistan is to have two Kashmirs, just like there are two Punjabs. There is a Punjab in India. There is a Punjab in Pakistan. Turn the Line Of Control (LOC) into the permanent border and open up trade. So, obviously, I am not opposed to the idea of turning Kashmir into just another state in India. But I say, what a lost opportunity. If this move would have been made after summit meetings between Imran Khan and Narendra Modi, the region would have seen peace instead of the turmoil we are now seeing.

Article 370 I don't want to comment on too much. What did bother me a lot was that Kashmir was turned into an open-air prison in the aftermath. I was in disbelief.

And now this. India is convulsing. The country has been shaken to its roots. The citizenship amendment act is poorly worded, harshly implemented. And the entire world is watching. All the soft power Modi earned for India through his years of travels has evaporated, and it will show in the FDI numbers. And the tanking economy is not helping either. Modi has already had a very bad year politically. He has lost state after state. He lost Maharashtra where he lost his biggest and oldest ally, the Shiv Sena. I think that is what he is looking at in 2024. The non-BJP parties will come together to throw up a non-Congress prime minister.

Just like Kashmir done right would have given South Asia lasting peace and a major regional trade boost, granting citizenship to refugees is how a large, generous democracy enhances its soft power around the world. How about starting with the Rohingya! They just might be the most talked-about refugees in the world right now.

Modi and his team have been proving his critics right. Imran Khan has been shouting like a mad man accusing the BJP and the RSS of 1930s style fascism. And to Imran Modi gives the citizenship amendment act and the national registry of citizens. That is straight from the Nazi party book in the 1930s. The Nazis also sought to "protect" German minorities in neighboring countries. They also put together a "national registry of citizens."

Modi has squandered his impressive electoral mandate. It is all downhill from here for Modi, especially since there seems to be no hint of course correction.

I hope Prashant Kishor is the next Prime Minister of India.

The ABC (Anti BJP Coalition) already has 62% of the votes in the country, it just needs a proper organizational structure. By joining the coalition, a party agrees to one post one candidate at all levels, and it agrees to the decisions of a steering committee in which each party's strength is the number of MPs it has. There is no lack of money, there is no lack of votes, there is no lack of vision, there is no lack of strategy. Only this structure is missing. Sonia Gandhi can be Convenor.

India: Democracy Itself Is At Stake
India At A Turning Point
Arundhati Roy On India
Indian Citizenship Bill Protests: The Distrust Is Wide And Deep
India Citizenship Bill Debate (2)
India Citizenship Bill Debate
Biometric ID And Citizenship Solutions
India's Contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill
Has India Gone Crazy?
Step By Step To Solving The Big Problems
History In Fast Forward Motion Right Now
Kashmir Deserves Normalcy
News: Modi, Trump, Andrew Yang, Iran, Kamala Harris
Indian Democracy: Maharashtra Edition
India's Massive Unemployment Problem: China Actually Knows
Formula For Peace Between Israel And Palestine
The Stupidity Of The Ayodhya Dispute
Saudi-Iran: Imran Is The Only One Who Can
Can't Stop Water To Pakistan
New Capitalism Is Techno Capitalism, Hello Marc
The Nation State In Peril
Imran's Peace Gamble In Afghanistan
South Asians Working In The Gulf

I think something like this is possible for 2024.

2024: Possible Lok Sabha Composition

BJP: 150

Anti-BJP Coalition (ABC):
Congress: 60
JD (U): 50 (25 in Bihar, 25 outside Bihar)
Trianmool Congress: 40
Shiv Sena: 20
LJP (Paswan): 6
RJD: 10
DMK: 15
YSR Congress: 20
BJD: 20
BSP: 30
SP: 30
NCP: 10
CPI (M): 10
TRS: 10
TDP: 5
AAP: 4
Total: 360
Others: 33