Europe/Americas update: July 23 2018

EUROPE

EUROPEAN UNION

Engorged tick Steve Bannon has founded a new organization to help Europeans better embrace their racism:

Trump’s former White House chief advisor told The Daily Beast that he is setting up a foundation in Europe called The Movement which he hopes will lead a right-wing populist revolt across the continent starting with the European Parliament elections next spring.

The non-profit will be a central source of polling, advice on messaging, data targeting, and think-tank research for a ragtag band of right-wingers who are surging all over Europe, in many cases without professional political structures or significant budgets.

Bannon’s group will help far right parties collaborate all over Europe and link up with alt-right assholes in the US. It views itself as the sworn enemy of George Soros’s Open Society foundation.

SLOVENIA

As expected, Slovenian President Borut Pahor nominated no one to be prime minister on Monday. Neither the right-wing Slovenian Democratic Party, which came in first in the June 3 election, nor the center-left List of Marjan Šarec, which came in second, has been able to secure the coalition it would need to form a government. Pahor’s decision triggers a new window for the parties to negotiate, but if they continue to struggle then early elections will happen sometime this fall. Ultimately most analysts seem to feel that the List of Marjan Šarec will negotiate a very unwieldy six party coalition and elide the need for another election.

GERMANY

Thanks I guess to Donald Trump, only 37 percent of Germans according to a new survey believe that Germany must depend on the United States for its national security. I suppose only good things can come from Germany increasing its military capabilities in order to provide for its own defense. Historically that’s always gone pretty well.

UNITED KINGDOM

New British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned the European Union on Monday that without a “change in approach from the EU negotiators” there is a high risk that the UK will crash out of the EU without a Brexit deal in place. Which is honestly so important. I mean if it’s not clear to London by now that the EU doesn’t really give a shit if there’s a no-deal Brexit, then I don’t know what to say. Do EU leaders have to put it on a billboard or something?

I don’t mean to suggest that the EU prefers a no-deal Brexit. I’m sure they’d be happy to have a post-Brexit agreement in place to govern EU-UK relations. It’s just that it’s clearly not important enough to the EU for it to sacrifice any of its core principles in order to make it happen. I’m sorry to burst the bubble of anybody who thinks this is still the 1870s or whatever, but Britain just isn’t that important.

AMERICAS

VENEZUELA

The numbers around Venezuela’s ongoing economic collapse are staggering:

The prediction was eye-popping even for Venezuela’s collapsing economy: One million percent inflation by year’s end, according to the International Monetary Fund.

On Monday, the fund released a periodic estimate of growth and inflation rates around Latin America, a roundup that included neighbors like Chile (where inflation should be headed to 3 percent) and Peru (where growth is predicted to reach 3.7 percent).

But it is Venezuela that continues to chart a different course from neighbors—with an increasingly breakneck economic disintegration.

Dollars are reportedly being sold on the black market in Caracas for 3.5 million bolívars. It may be time for the Venezuelan government to consider a currency replacement, but with underlying economic conditions–including US sanctions–unchanged, there’s no reason to think the runaway inflation wouldn’t continue anyway.

NICARAGUA

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is really sorry that all those protesters are forcing him to kill them by the dozens:

On Monday night, in an interview apparently designed to reduce international pressure on his embattled government, Ortega attempted to wash his hands of responsibility for the killings and to play down the scale of the uprising, claiming the situation in Nicaragua was returning to normal.

“It has been a week since the disturbances have stopped,” the 72-year-old said in a pre-recorded interview with Fox News.

Questioned over his role in the bloodshed – which he last week blamed on a “murderous, coup-mongering satanic sect” despite growing international consensus that he is to blame – Ortega cast himself as the victim of a political conspiracy. “There has been a campaign of lies, terrible lies, to try to hurt the image of Nicaragua and its government,” he said.

Ortega also insists that holding early elections would create too much instability in Nicaragua. Because Nicaragua is very stable right now.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Our excellent stewardship of the planet is paying huge dividends right now on Dominican beaches:

The Caribbean nation is known for sapphire seas and ivory beaches, but it is grappling with waves of garbage washing up on its shores, a vivid reminder of the presence of thousands of tons of plastic in the world’s oceans.

Those piles, most notably the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” are usually far from human settlements, to say nothing of resort destinations.

But instead of visitors relaxing on Montesinos Beach in the capital, Santo Domingo, there has been an altogether different scene, one unlikely to wind up on a postcard: Hundreds of city workers and volunteers who have been waging an uphill battle against wave after wave of sludgy garbage.

UNITED STATES

Let’s end with Monday’s exciting revelation of Donald Trump’s new enemies list:

President Trump threatened on Monday to strip the security clearances of top former officials who criticized his refusal to confront Russia over its election interference, signaling a willingness to use the powers of the presidency to retaliate against some of his most outspoken detractors.

Among those who could lose access are John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director; Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser; and James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.

“The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearances because they politicized, and in some cases monetized, their public service and security clearances,” Ms. Sanders said.

I mean, when you put it that way it sounds almost noble. But the list of former government officials who haven’t “monetized their public service and security clearances” is exponentially shorter than the list of former government officials who have. And yet we’re only stripping clearances from people who have dared to badmouth the perpetually soiled adult diaper currently occupying the Oval Office. That’s not draining the swamp, it’s arbitrarily punishing your political enemies. Which is really not a great development for those of us who would rather not live under a de facto monarchy.

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Author: DWD

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