American citizens are paying for President Trump’s tariffs — not China


New working papers from the National Bureau of Economic Research reveal the sweeping impacts of Trump’s trade war

By: Cody Fenwick/Alternet

Two new economic working papers from the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed the sweeping impacts of President Donald Trump’s tariffs and trade war and undercut his repeated claims about his policies’ supposed benefits. 

Trump has repeatedly said, for instance, that the costs of his tariffs — which are just taxes on U.S. imports — are paid entirely by foreign governments and firms, rather than by Americans. But a paper by researchers Mary Amiti of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Stephen J. Redding of Princeton University, and David Weinstein of Columbia University directly rebuts that claim.

The authors noted that initial research had pointed to the fact that Americans were bearing the burden of the tariffs in 2018, when Trump’s aggressive trade tactics were initially enacted. But it wasn’t clear, they said, whether this would continue as the tariffs persisted.

 

And yet, they found that “data for most of 2019 does not alter the main conclusions of earlier studies. U.S. tariffs continue to be almost entirely borne by U.S.firms and consumers.”

They continued:

Similarly, we also find that the substantial redirection of trade in response to the 2018 tariffs has accelerated. Among goods that continue to be imported, a 10 percent tariff is associated with about a 10 percent drop in imports for the first three months, but this elasticity doubles in magnitude in subsequent months. These higher long-run elasticities suggest that the 2018 tariffs—many of which were applied in October—are only now having their full impact on U.S. import volumes.

What this means is that the longer the tariffs have remained in place, the more firms that rely on the imports shift away to buying other products. It also indicates that foreign firms aren’t dropping their prices to accommodate the tariffs, which would have meant foreigners rather than Americans are swallowing the costs of the policy, as Trump likes to claim.

There are some exceptions to this general finding, though, because the researchers noted that different sectors reacted differently to tariffs.

 

But even in this case, where foreign firms are lowering prices because of steel tariffs, the authors added that this is actually “bad news for workers hoping that steel tariffs will bring back jobs.” The paper went on: “Indeed, the fact that foreign steel producers have lowered their prices in response to U.S. tariffs may help explain why U.S. steel production only rose by 2 percent per year between the third quarter of 2017 and the third quarter of 2019 despite 25 percent steel tariffs.”

Of course, all policies have some trade-offs, and some might think that even the costs of the tariffs are worth some other outcome. The problem is, though, that Trump has rarely if ever been honest about what the real costs of the tariffs are — he’s acted as if they are an unalloyed good.

And a separate paper, also from NBER, took a look at the impact of Trump’s tariffs on exports and also found major costs. Kyle Handley of the University of Michigan, Fariha Kamal of the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and Ryan Monarch of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors examined used what they describe as “confidential U.S. firm-trade linked data” to analyze the effects of the tariffs on U.S. exporting companies. One of the stated goals of Trump’s trade policy, after all, has been to increase U.S. exports and manufacturing.

The researchers found, however, that the tariffs appear to have “significantly dampened U.S. export growth.”

Why would exporters be hurt by tariffs, which again, are just import taxes? Because the taxes fell on many “intermediate goods” — goods that are used to make other products, which can then be sold by Americans to foreign countries.

“[We] find that almost one fourth of U.S. exporters imported products subject to new import tariffs,” they wrote. “Moreover, these firms account for more than 80% of U.S. exports by value. Affected firms were disproportionately larger than the average exporter in terms of total exports, employment, and number of plants.”

They even estimated how much these affected companies per employee, finding that the tariffs cost “$900 per worker overall and about $1,600 in the manufacturing sector.verall, they report that the tariffs reduced export growth by about 2 percent. Had the tariffs not been targeted at such widely used intermediate goods, they found, the negative impact on export growth could have been slashed by 60 percent.

“Do not tax intermediate goods, or this is what happens,” said economist Noah Smith on Twitter in response to the paper.

 

Page six: ‘ABC treated Abby like s–t:’ Inside Abby Huntsman’s exit from ‘The View’


By: Carlos Greer,Sara Nathan and Mara Siegler

Abby Huntsman announced on Monday  she’ quitting “The View” to join her father, Jon Huntsman Jr., on his Utah gubernatorial campaign.

But Page Six is told that the campaign isn’t the real reason for her exit from the ABC fixture, which has recently been rocked by a breakdown in the relationship between Megan McCain and her fellow panelists.

“It’s an unhealthy environment — just the way that things are handled during shows and how people deal with each other,” said an insider familiar with Huntsman’s thinking. “It’s intense.”

“Abby made an issue [to executives] about the overall environment. She’s felt for a while that things had to change.

“ABC treated Abby like shit but everyone on the show gets treated like ,shit  they added. “She was smart enough to do something about it.”

The source said that co-host Whoopi Goldberg has also complained about the atmosphere on the set.

A second source said that Huntsman has described the environment as “toxic.” “ABC won’t do anything about it,” they added.

We’re told Huntsman — who joined the show about a year ago, at the same time as McCain — made the decision to quit in December, but the move Monday was a bombshell to most.

In a memo seen by Page Six that she sent to the show’s staff, she wrote, “After much deliberation over the holidays, I have decided to leave the show to dedicate myself full time in support of my dad and his campaign for governor of Utah.”

“Abby spoke to each co-host to share the news and spoke directly to the staff to let them know,” a show insider said. “Abby wanted everyone to hear the news from her.”

As we reported last week, tensions have been high at the show because the hosts have lost patience with McCain.

We reported that even her pal Huntsman had had enough. “None of the ladies talk to Meghan now,” a source said. “Abby was the last woman standing. It’s bad. Meghan’s so rude.”

Britain: She said she was attacked for being beautiful


Lisa Hall believes she was attacked in Bognor Regis because of ‘jealousy’ (Image: Facebook)

Lisa Hall, 44, from Bognor Regis in West Sussex, was attacked by Zoe Lee, 22, and her mum Joan, 47, while on a night out. The Lees have both been convicted of grievous bodily harm.

 

A woman beaten up on a night out by a mother and daughter says she was ‘attacked for being beautiful with big boobs’.

Lisa Hall, 44, from Bognor Regis in West Sussex, claims that Zoe Lee, 22, and her mother Joan, 47, were ‘jealous’ of her looks and her popularity.

Lisa was punched to the ground, kicked and stamped on before eventually blacking out – and was left with several injures including a broken ankle.

The attack was so vicious Lisa had to use a commode as she recovered.

The 44-year-old said she can think of no reason for the attack – other than jealousy.

Lisa Hall has opened up about the horror of the attack (Image: Facebook)

Zoe and Joan were both convicted of grievous bodily harm after a trial at Portsmouth Crown Court and sentenced to five years in prison for the attack.

Lisa was enjoying a night out in the center of Bognor Regis in January 2018 when she was set upon by the pair.

Her husband Danny had dropped her off along with her daughter Holly.

At roughly 11.30pm Lisa decided she was too tired to go onto a nightclub and instead called Danny to pick them both up.

Zoe Lee, 22, started the attack on Lisa in January 2018 (Image: Sussex Police)

Speaking to Mail Online she said: “All of a sudden one of the girls in front turned around and gave me a nasty stare, before calling me a f***ing dirty prostitute.”

The aggressive girl then walked toward Lisa and said it again. Then the physical attack started.

Lisa felt a searing pain across her face – she was punched, and then pushed, hit and kicked.

The 44-year-old fell to the ground and tried to shield her teeth ‘instinctively’.

As she lay stricken on the ground she noticed an older woman – Joan – had joined in.

Joan Lee, 47, was sentenced to five years in prison for GBH in April last year (Image: Sussex Police) 

Lisa screamed in pain and everything went black until she awoke with daughter Holly standing over her in floods of tears.

Danny had also arrived and he insisted she was going to hospital – where she ended up in a wheelchair in A&E.

Nurses had to cut Lisa out of her jeans, reports the Mail, so they could assess the damage.

And when she saw her right foot it looked ‘wretched’ and was ‘twisted backwards’ where it was broken.

There were even fears she could lose her leg.

While still recovering from the shock of the attack Lisa was visited by police who had launched an investigation into the horror assault.

The next day Lisa underwent a six-hour operation to insert metal plates, screws and bolts in her right leg. It’s left her with a 12-inch scar running down her leg.

The trial of the mother and daughter was held at Portsmouth Crown Court (stock photo) (Image: Solent News & Photo Agency)

With the help of CCTV detectives were able to identify her attackers.

The police charged Zoe and Joan Lee with GBH, alongside a third woman. They all denied it, which meant a trial.

Lisa bravely turned down the offer of a screen during the trial at Portsmouth Crown Court.

After a nine day trial both mother and daughter were found guilty of GBH and in April last year, were sentenced to five years in prison. The third woman was found not guilty.

And the pair have never explained why they launched the vicious assault.

“All I could think was that Zoe was jealous of the way I looked and the fact I was popular – everyone in the bar knew me,” she said.

“Maybe her mother was jealous too, so she joined in.”

Lisa added: “But I reckon that pair were jealous of my big boobs and blonde hair, so they beat me up for it.”

No Knees at Tokyo Olympics


“Specifically, the guidelines lay out what the committee considers a protest.

Displaying any political messaging, including signs or armbands

Gestures of a political nature, like a hand gesture or kneeling

Refusal to follow the Ceremonies protocol.

Swinging in Sacramento? Heck yes!


Image result for swinging gif

A freaked out father of four wanted his mo-NAY back from an Arden area hotel on New Years Eve .After learning a Swingers Club was having a party in the hotel. How dare he and his children stay at a hotel where people are having SEX! Ouba Goobay

A sex club was having a mega party New Years Eve and he was OUTRAGED! Let’s throw out Logic or Common Sense that would dictate, he would have to go looking for the party in the large hotel. His position the hotel should have warned them before he made the reservation.

“In addition to the pool being closed for New Years,our hotel is having a rocking sex party”

He didn’t get a refund.

One of the many Secret’s about Sactown it was once a hub of Swinger (sex clubs) in California .

Now how do I know this?

In the late late late nineties. A super sized friend of mine wanted to know if I would be a bouncer slash security guard at a hotel over a weekend, it was easy money and they were looking for a super sized man. Well hello there……

The requirement was a black suit ( I’m a super sized man-we always have something black to wear) and that we were mature.

The gig was a Swingers (sex club) Party at a hotel in Rancho Cordova. My job was to redirect uninvited guest. My post was five feet from reception and my job was to greet members with a smile. That was it, for $300.

I was prepared to make mental (in my head) fun of the patrons. After all I’m from San Francisco and New York City. I’ve been to the exotic erotic ball at the Cow Palace in San Francisco which was a bit too much for THIS Cityfella . Sac is Hooterville ,so I thought. I was expecting red pumps, bouncing boobies, and men with open shirts and gold chains.

What I saw were pleasantly dressed men and women. Some of the Women looked like teachers. Sunday school teachers. The men were ordinary too. They could be your banker, or insurance salesmen. There were a few extroverts, but not the exotic erotic ball caliber. The more people I saw, the more questions I had. One member, patently answered all my preteen questions. He was a member for 5 years. I learned, this particular club membership process was more like an exclusive country club There are dues and fees and strict rules to be followed.

I learned that little ole Sacramento was hub of sorts for these gatherings. Groups could rent out hotels in Sacramento for a lot less than the Bay and Southern California, the cost of travel was offset by the lower room costs. Elaborate theme parties that often take several days to assemble.

There were a few people I had to turn away, Invites lost in the mail or if I would just let them in they would find the member, that member could vouch for them. No one was violent or too argumentative. Like, who wants to be arrested for attempting to bust in sex club.

As the night progressed my Christian curiosity was on hyper drive. I wanted to take a peek, hard as I tried, I couldn’t hear any moaning or screaming.

This party was extremely organized, there were levels of security to protect the privacy of the members. My friend and I was the external security they also had two people outside the meeting room and people inside the meeting room. I learned this as I pretended that I didn’t know where the men’s room was.

That was 1999, I don’t know if Sacramento is still number one Today people are probably having virtual sex parties via live stream

Back to New Years Eve 2019

Had the man not seen the sign about the party, he wouldn’t have known it was taking place. The hotel were the party took place is one of Sacramento’s best. He told Fox 40 there were crazies in the hot tub. Shouldn’t he be with his four children or did he take with? “Look Tommy”

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CityFella

Why Europe hates Trump more than Iran


Image result for donald trump IRAN

The dubious justification for that ill-fated foray is just one reason Europeans aren’t lining up to back the US this time, even with rhetoric. The main reason is simple distrust of Trump | Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

 

By:Matthew Karnitching/Politico 

 

BERLIN — Reckless, illegal, unhinged.

When it comes to finding adjectives to describe U.S. President Donald Trump’s assassination of Iranian military guru Qassem Soleimani, which prompted the Iranians to respond by launching missile attacks on bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops overnight, European officials have displayed rare unity. At least in private.

Behind the sober public pronouncements from Brussels and national capitals about the need for “de-escalation,” officials are seething.

Plus ça change? While Trump has been reviled by Europe’s establishment from the day he took office, his other major “outrages” — such as the decisions to pull out of the Paris climate accord and the Iranian nuclear deal or to impose tariffs on EU steel — were well-telegraphed.

No one saw the Iranian escalation coming. Within hours of Soleimani’s assassination, Europe’s shock over the Iranian general’s killing morphed into anger at Trump.

So far, the European response has focused on trying to placate Iran instead of displaying solidarity with the U.S.

One of the indirect victims of the U.S. strike may prove to be the transatlantic relationship.

Just how bad is it? Even as Iran’s supreme leader promised “severe” retaliation for the killing over the weekend, EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for a sitdown in Brussels. The U.S., which recently placed sanctions on Zarif, won’t even grant him a visa to visit the United Nations.

Angela Merkel, Europe’s de facto supreme leader, responded to the crisis by arranging a “working meeting” later this week — in Moscow.

Berlin appears to have concluded that sitting down with Vladimir Putin (who met with Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad this week to celebrate their success in crushing Syria’s civil war) would be more productive than a trip to Washington, on paper still Germany’s most important ally.

Former German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel described the Soleimani attack as a “1914 moment.” The new leadership of Germany’s Social Democrats, Merkel’s coalition partner, called on the U.S. to remove its nuclear arsenal from the country.

Though other senior SPD officials, including former European Parliament President Martin Schulz, have endorsed such a move in the past, the timing of the latest demand underscored the degree of German unease over Trump’s course. Under Trump, the transatlantic relationship “has fundamentally changed,” SPD co-leader Norbert Walter-Borjans said on Tuesday.

This is how Borrell, who was Spain’s foreign minister before taking on the EU’s foreign policy portfolio, described Europe’s relationship with the U.S. in an interview with POLITICO last year: “Wherever you look there’s complete disagreement between the States and Europe,” he said. “It’s a divorce in values.”

In 2003, the Iraq War created a deep rift between the U.S. and both Germany and France, but other European allies, including the U.K., Italy and Spain, readily joined what became known as a “Coalition of the Willing.”

The dubious justification for that ill-fated foray is just one reason Europeans aren’t lining up to back the U.S. this time, even with rhetoric. The main reason is simple distrust of Trump.

France’s outspoken former ambassador to the U.S., Gérard Araud, cautioned Europeans not to be blinded by their dislike for Trump and lose sight of the underlying issues at hand. He noted this week that Europe has all the same concerns as the U.S. about Iran, from its support for terrorism to its nuclear aspirations.

So far, American efforts to convince Europeans of the bright side of Soleimani’s killing have been met with dropped jaws.

“Whatever we think of Trump, of the assassination of Soleimani, the basic reality predating the U.S. denunciation of the JCPOA was the aggressive behavior of Iran,” he said, using the acronym used to describe Iran’s nuclear deal with global powers.

Yet so far, the European response has focused on trying to placate Iran instead of displaying solidarity with the U.S.

On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron, who tried in vain last year to bring Trump and the Iranian leadership together, spent about an hour on the phone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Macron expressed his deep concern over the situation in the region and urged Iran “to refrain from taking any action that would aggravate rising tensions,” his office said in a statement.

Europe’s refusal to stand by America’s side on Iran hasn’t gone unnoticed in Washington.

“Frankly, the Europeans haven’t been as helpful as I wished that they could be,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said over the weekend, adding that “the Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that what we did, what the Americans did, saved lives in Europe as well.”
As frustrated as Europe’s leaders are with what they perceive as Trump’s go-it-alone strategy, their own Iran strategy has gone nowhere | Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

So far, American efforts to convince Europeans of the bright side of Soleimani’s killing have been met with dropped jaws.

Europe’s worry is that a wider conflict in the Middle East could trigger deep economic and political disruption on the Continent itself. As Europe learned during Syria’s civil war, its geographic proximity to the region leaves it particularly exposed to conflicts there.

That reality begs the question of whether EU leaders — regardless of how unsavory they find Trump — can realistically decouple from the U.S. on issues like Iran.

As frustrated as Europe’s leaders are with what they perceive as Trump’s go-it-alone strategy, their own Iran strategy has gone nowhere.

Not even Rouhani’s announcement this week that Iran would take a further step away from the deal has convinced the Europeans that it’s dead.

Yet Europe has stubbornly stuck to it. Even after the U.S. pulled out the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and Tehran flouted many of its provisions, Europe insisted it was still in place.

Not even Rouhani’s announcement this week that Iran would take a further step away from the deal has convinced the Europeans that it’s dead.

“It is important for us to make it clear once again that this agreement has not lost its value for us,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Tuesday following a meeting at the U.K. ambassador’s residence in Brussels with his counterparts from France and Britain.

If nothing else, the three European powers managed to agree that they agreed.

There was “great unity in the assessment of the situation and for a closely coordinated approach to upcoming contacts in order to contribute to a de-escalation,” a diplomat close to the talks said.

Hans von der Burchard contributed reporting.

New Electric Cars under 30K


Concerned about Gas Prices?

Image result for 2020 chevy bolt ev

The average new Electric Vehicle sales for over 40K.  Chevrolet is offering super deals on the 2019 and 2020 all electric Chevy Bolt.  The 2019 has an range of 239 miles. The 2020 model 260 miles.   With Rebates up to $8500. the fun driving Bolt is a steal, other discounts are available.  The deal ends Feb 3rd

al jazeera: Soleimani is no anti-imperialist hero


Anti-war protesters gather near the White House to condemn the US air strike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, in Washington, on January 4, 2020 [Reuters/Jan Wolfe]

Anti-war protesters gather near the White House to condemn the US air strike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, in Washington, on January 4, 2020 [Reuters/Jan Wolfe]

And Trump’s reckless decision to assassinate him will not result in “World War III”

By: Malak Chabkoun/Al Jazeera

Immediately after news broke of the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, some left-wing circles in the West proclaimed with great confidence – yet again – that World War III was around the corner. Previously, these same warnings of global doom were evoked when US President Donald Trump ordered rather toothless strikes on empty military targets in Syria and escalated his rhetoric against North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

And just as a world war did not break out on these previous occasions, it will not break out now either.

Much of the left in the West (the same ones who describe themselves as progressives) also viciously attacked people in the Middle East who celebrated the deaths of Soleimani and al-Muhandis. While it is wrong to praise Trump’s decision to assassinate the two commanders as a “noble deed”, framing what happened within the old, tired left-wing narrative of US imperialism erases the regional context and the suffering of millions of people in the Middle East at the hands of other powers.

Indeed, it is important to expose Trump’s recklessness and political opportunism, but it is inexcusable to ignore the crimes of Soleimani and al-Muhandis and those who they served.  

Trump’s motives

With an upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate, more Americans disapproving than approving of his presidency, and an election coming up, Trump is trying to cement his position in US politics and play to his base. His term has been marked by no clear domestic or foreign policy agendas, frequent golfing trips that prompt ethical questions about how federal dollars are being spent, and Twitter meltdowns that often do not have anything to do with reality. In short, when Trump ordered the assassinations, his presidency would not necessarily be described as successful.

While it is clear the US president was motivated by domestic considerations, in the aftermath of the attack, he claimed that he ordered it in the name of fighting global “terrorism” and that Soleimani’s assassination meant his reign of “terror” was over.

This rhetoric might help him improve his ratings in advance of his re-election bid in November, but it is simply a lie that Soleimani’s assassination will make the world a safer place. In fact, none of Trump’s interventions in the Middle East has been of any consequence to the security of the region, contrary to what many on the right have claimed.

People in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere where Soleimani’s Quds Force has been active will continue to suffer the consequences of Iran’s foreign interference. Al-Muhandis’ death and the limited attacks the United States has carried out on the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMFs) will not disband the militia, which is heavily entrenched in Iraq.

Similarly, the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS) did not make the region any safer from “terrorism”. ISIL attacks have continued, and Russia and the Syrian regime have also continued to use the excuse of “anti-terror operations” to step up their military campaigns against civilians opposed to Bashar al-Assad’s rule, killing hundreds and displacing hundreds of thousands.

Trump’s 2017 and 2018 air raids on Syrian regime targets did nothing to prevent the sustained campaign of extermination Damascus has led against its own population. They also did not result in World War III or war with Russia that some left-wing pundits were predicting on social media.

In fact, throughout his term, Trump has been playing both camps – the right-wing hawks and the left-wing “anti-war” crusaders – with his constant shift of rhetoric between withdrawal and disengagement from the Middle East and aggressive action.

He “pulled out” of Syria, but sent back troops to “guard the oil”. He promised tough action on Iran after attacks in the Gulf but did not retaliate the way his allies wanted.

It is about time that both sides admit Trump makes domestic and foreign policy decisions based on his ego and what suits him, not based on standing up for “our people” or some diabolic imperialistic plot.

Regional reactions in context

The assassinations of Soleimani and al-Muhandis gave some Middle East residents a sense of relief that they have finally been rid of two militia commanders who have brought much suffering to their communities.

But when Syrians, Iraqis, Yemenis and other Arabs posted celebratory comments on the assassinations of two commanders they perceive as war criminals, Iran’s defenders immediately criticised these people, resorting to insisting they didn’t know anything about their own countries, claiming they are pro-imperialism.

In so doing, these self-identified leftists and “anti-war” activists once again downplayed the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in the region. For them, the only civilian deaths that can be acknowledged are those caused by the military intervention of the US, Israel or their allies.

However, it is hard to cover up the crimes Iran and its regional proxies have committed over the past 10 years. Iran has backed and even advised on the brutal crackdown by the Syrian regime on opposition protests and later the mass killing of civilians through areal bombardment and merciless sieges; it has also sent Afghan refugee children to fight on its behalf in Syria. It has sent military equipment and personnel to the Houthis in Yemen, who just like their enemies, the Saudis and the Emiratis, have been accused of committing war crimes in the Yemeni conflict. In Iraq, they have supported and directed militias which have committed various crimes against Iraqi civilians.

In this sense, it is hardly surprising that Syrians who have gone through the trauma of losing friends and family in the siege of Aleppo and the insult of seeing images of Soleimani marching through their city (which they may never be able to return to) are celebrating his demise. It is also hardly surprising that Iraqi protesters, who have had to drag the bodies of friends shot in the head with Iranian military-grade gas grenades during attacks by Iranian-backed militias on their demonstrations, would now be cheering the demise of al-Muhandis who had been accused of directing the crackdown.

These same left-wing people who proclaim concern about foreign intervention, refuse to acknowledge the Iranian intervention in Syria, Yemen and Iraq when the people of those countries rebelled against authoritarianism, corruption, sectarianism, and socioeconomic collapse. When protests broke out in 2018 and 2019 in Iran against the Iranian authorities, they once again framed them in the foreign-sponsored regime-change narrative.

The constant need to defend the Iranian government, even against the protests of Iranian people who have suffered under this government, is an exercise in mental gymnastics. This is the same left-wing segment that equates criticism of Iran with being an ally of Israel, which is highly problematic given Iran and Israel are committing the same crimes in the Middle East.

Only US imperialism exists?

There has been much noise about US’s breach of Iraqi sovereignty, but there has been little said of Iranian and Russian actions violating sovereignty in the region. The constant presence of Soleimani in Iraq to issue orders to Iraqi officials and forces is just one of many signs of Iran’s lack of respect for Iraq’s sovereignty. By the admission of these same leftists, Soleimani was intervening in Iraq to “fight” US intervention.

In Syria, what these self-proclaimed anti-war activists see as Iranian and Russian deployment at the invitation of a legitimate president, Syrians see as an occupation allowed by a dictator who they never elected in free and fair elections.

The debate around Soleimani and al-Muhandis’ assassinations has served to illustrate, once again, the inconsistent perception by a segment of the “progressive” left of what constitutes “imperialism”. They readily brand US and Israeli actions as imperialist; yet aggression by others – whether Russia, China, Iran or their allies – which causes equal damage and civilian deaths, is ignored, downplayed, or wrapped in “anti-terror” narratives (rather similar to the ones the US and Israel use).

Thus, US and Israeli attacks on the Iranian forces or the Assad regime have been decried as acts of imperialism while the mass killings of Syrian civilians by occupying powers Iran and Russia have been ignored, questioned or presented as “terrorist” deaths.

Criticising the US and Israel while ignoring the crimes of others, however, does no good for the people on the ground bearing the brunt of geopolitical battles between these global and regional powers. Crying “World War III is coming” every time the US engages in aggression also ignores the fact that millions of people in the Middle East and elsewhere, where US, Israeli and also Iranian, Russian and Chinese intervention have stirred conflict, are already living the realities of such a war.

Being truly anti-war would mean opposing aggression by all and condemning all those accused of war crimes – whether Qassem Soleimani or Eddie Gallagher.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

How to Be Confident (When You Don’t Have Anything to Be Confident About)


confidence.jpg

 

Feeling confident about something new or in a situation that’s ended badly before can be a struggle. Here’s how to get yourself feeling back on track.

 

By : Mark Munson

 

How are you supposed to be confident about something when you have nothing to feel confident about?

Like, how are you supposed to be confident at your new job if you’ve never done this type of work before? Or how are you supposed to be confident in social situation when no one has ever liked you before? Or how are you supposed to be confident in your relationship when you’ve never been in a successful relationship before?

On the surface, confidence appears to be an area where the rich get richer and the poor stay the losers they are. After all, if you’ve never experienced much social acceptance, and you lack confidence around new people, then that lack of confidence will make people think you’re clingy and weird and not accept you. Same deal goes for relationships. No confidence in intimacy will lead to bad breakups and awkward phone calls and emergency Ben and Jerry’s runs at three in the morning.

Thisis no way to do a relationship.

The Confidence Conundrum

If you’ve always lost in life, then how could you ever rationally expect to be a winner? And if you never expect to be a winner, then you’re going to act like a loser. Thus the cycle of suckage continues.

This is the confidence conundrum, where in order to be happy or loved or successful , first you need to be confident; but then to be confident, first you need to be happy or loved or successful.

It’s like a dog chasing its own tail. Or Dominos ordering its own pizza. You can spend a lot of time cuticle-gazing trying to mentally sort everything out, but just like with your lack of confidence, you’re likely to end up right back where you started.

We know a few things about confidence just from observing people. So before you run off and order that pizza, let’s break this down quickly:

  1. Just because somebody has something (tons of friends, a million dollars, a bitchin’ beach body) doesn’t necessarily mean that this person is confident in it. There are tycoons who totally lack confidence in their own wealtth , models who lack confidence in their looks, and celebrities who lack confidence in their own popularity. So I think the first thing we can establish is that confidence is not necessarily linked to any external marker. Rather, our confidence is rooted in our perception of ourselves regardless of any tangible external reality.
  2. Because our confidence is not necessarily linked to any external tangible measurement, we can conclude that improving the external, tangible aspects of our lives won’t necessarily build confidence.
    Chances are that if you’ve lived more than a couple decades, you’ve experienced this in some form or another. Getting a promotion at your job doesn’t necessarily make you more confident in your professional abilities. In fact, it can often make you feel less confident. Dating and/or sleeping with more people doesn’t necessarily make you feel more confident about how attractive you are. Moving in together or getting married doesn’t necessarily make you feel any more confident in your relationship.
  3. Confidence is a feeling. An emotional state and a state of mind. It’s the perception that you lack nothing. That you are equipped with everything you need,both now and for the future. A person confident in their social life will feel as though they lack nothing in their social life. A person with no confidence in their social life believes that they lack the prerequisite coolness to be invited to everyone’s pizza party. It’s this perception of lacking something that drives their needy, clingy and/or bitchy behavior.

How to Be More Confident

The obvious and most common answer to the confidence conundrum is to simply believe that you lack nothing. That you already have, or at least deserve, whatever you feel you would need to make you confident.

But this sort of thinking — believing you’re already beautiful even though you’re a frumpy slob, or believing you’re a raving success even though your only profitable business venture was selling weed in high school — leads to the kind of insufferable narcissism that causes people to argue that obesity (something that is more detrimental to your health than smoking cigarettes) should be celebrated as beauty and that it’s, like, totally OK to carve your name into the Roman Colosseum because, you know, selfies.

No, the solution to the confidence conundrum is not to feel as though you lack nothing and delude yourself into believing you already possess everything you could ever dream. The solution is to simply become comfortable with what you potentially lack.

The big charade with confidence is that it has nothing to do with the comfort of what we achieve and everything to do with the comfort of what we don’t achieve.

People who are confident in business are confident because they’re comfortable with failure.

People who are confident in their social lives are confident because they’re comfortable with rejection.

People who are confident in their relationships are confident because they’re comfortable with getting hurt.

Confidence Through Failure

The truth is that the route to the positive runs through the negative. Those among us who are the most comfortable with negative experience are those who reap the most benefits.

It’s counterintuitive, but it’s also true. Often we worry that if we become comfortable in our failures — that if we accept failure as an inevitable part of living — that we will become failures. But it doesn’t work that way. Comfort in our failures allows us to act without fear, to engage without judgment, to love without conditions. It’s the dog that lets the tail go, realizing that it’s already a part of himself. It’s the Dominos that cancels its own order, realizing it already has the pizza it wanted. Or something.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to publish this article comfortable with the fact that some people will probably hate it. And eat my pizza.

 

Mark Manson is the author of Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope

Donald Trump has blundered into a crisis of his own making with Iran


 

Iranians burn a US flag in Tehran on Friday.

‘Donald Trump has consistently increased tensions and courted confrontation with Iran.’ Iranians burn a US flag in Tehran on Friday. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA
By: Mohamad Bazzi/UK Guardian

The Trump administration’s assassination on Thursday of General Qassem Suleimani could turn out to be its biggest foreign policy blunder. The killing could lead to a war with Iranian proxies across the Middle East, belying Trump’s supposed desire to extricate the US from its endless conflicts. But its most likely immediate effect will be to ratchet up pressure on the Iraqi government to expel US troops from Iraq. And that would mean Iran extending its already substantial influence over Iraqi government and society.

The Trump administration was quick to portray the assassination as a pre-emptive strike, saying Suleimani had been “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” Earlier on Thursday, the US defence secretary, Mark Esper, had warned from Washington, “The game has changed”.

But Trump has consistently increased tensions and courted confrontation with Iran. Since he took office in January 2017, he has wavered on many foreign policy issues, but he has been dependable on one thing: he considers Iran the greatest threat to US interests in the Middle East, and the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism.

The current conflagration has its roots in a burgeoning protest movement in Iraq that has demanded that both Iran and the US stop interfering in the country’s affairs. The peaceful protests began in early October, and Iraqi officials, urged on by Suleimani, responded with a bloody crackdown that killed hundreds of protesters.

Iranian-allied militias and politicians responded to the protests in part by trying to divert attention to US influence in Iraq. On 27 December, the Iran-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah group fired rockets at a military base in Kirkuk, killing a US contractor and wounding several US and Iraqi troops.

The Pentagon responded with massive retaliation, launching airstrikes against five militia bases in Iraq and Syria. The strikes killed at least two dozen and wounded 50 fighters. Thus began the latest cycle of tit-for-tat violence – over a holiday weekend when most Americans were not paying attention to the news. Iraqis rallied in anger at the continued presence of 5,000 US troops in Iraq. Members of the Iraqi parliament began calling for the expulsion of US forces and an end to security cooperation with Washington.

On 31 December, thousands of militia members marched on the US embassy in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone. Iraqi officials allowed the protesters to reach the embassy’s outer compound. The siege continued for a second day, until militia leaders called on their supporters to go home.

But the images of protesters besieging a US embassy in the Middle East embarrassed the Trump administration, which rushed to prove that it would not allow “another Benghazi”. The crisis appeared to have been resolved by Wednesday night, when the protesters left the Green Zone. But the administration was preparing a far more severe response, which unfolded last night.

Suleimani was no ordinary general or spymaster. He was perhaps the regime’s second most powerful man after the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Suleimani nurtured a cult of personality at home and abroad, as a heroic commander and military planner who engineered an expansion of Iranian influence across the Middle East, with Shia militias and clients stretching from Iraq and Syria to Lebanon and Yemen. Many Iranians and Iraqis credit him with a major role in defeating Isis. He also helped coordinate Iranian forces to prop up Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime in Syria. There will be enormous pressure on Iran and its allies to retaliate for his killing. On Friday morning, Khamenei promised “severe revenge”.

When Trump took office, there was no US crisis with Iran. He created one – driven by hawkish advisers, many of whom had supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and his desire to undo one of Barack Obama’s major foreign policy accomplishments. In May 2018, Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal, and reimposed the US sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.

Trump constantly mentions his supposed desire to end US involvement in foreign wars – in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. But since May 2019 the Pentagon has deployed more than 14,000 troops to the Middle East. That’s when the latest escalation with Iran began, with several incidents in the Strait of Hormuz that culminated with Tehran shooting down a US drone that it claimed had violated its airspace.

At the time, the Trump administration inflated the threat posed by Iran to US troops and allies in the Middle East. John Bolton, who was then national security adviser, lobbied for a new confrontation with Iran. At Bolton’s request, the Pentagon updated its plans to send as many as 120,000 troops to confront Tehran.

Democrats in Congress objected to the administration’s warmongering, arguing that Congress had not authorised military action. Trump eventually forced Bolton to resign, but he continues to be influenced by his allies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who hype the Iran threat. It’s notable that Trump rarely criticises his two allies for their destructive actions in the region, especially the Saudi-led war on Yemen.

But the Iranian regime has also miscalculated and overreached, trying to destabilise the region to inflict a cost on Saudi Arabia and the UAE for supporting Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign. As Trump hesitated to take military action at several points, Iranian leaders made boastful statements about US weakness. In a speech in July 2018, Suleimani directly addressed Trump after he warned the Iranian president not to threaten the US. “It is beneath the dignity of our president to respond to you,” Suleimani said, in the kind of statement that increased his stature. “I, as a soldier, respond to you.”

Mohamad Bazzi, a journalism professor at New York University, is a former Middle East bureau chief at Newsday

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