Saturday, April 30, 2016

India And Pakistan: The Beginnings Of A Fragile Partnership?

India and Pakistan: The Beginnings of a Fragile Partnership?

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India and Pakistan have long had a troubled relationship, but over the past few months, a hint of cooperation has begun to emerge from the conflict. On April 26, foreign ministers from both countries met on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference-Istanbul Process to discuss their shared interests — the first meeting of its kind this year. Though discord will undoubtedly continue to strain the bilateral ties that have been burdened for decades by inertia and mistrust, India and Pakistan may have more reasons now than they had before to come together to solve their mutual challenges. 


Collaboration is not something commonly seen between India and Pakistan, but that may be changing. On Jan. 2, unidentified assailants attacked India's Pathankot air force base, prompting New Delhi to point the finger of blame at Pakistan's Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group. In the wake of the attack, both countries suspended talks between their foreign secretaries slated for Jan. 15. But despite the rising tension, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif refrained from using the type of heated rhetoric New Delhi and Islamabad have often turned to over similar attacks in the past. In the weeks following the Pathankot incident, India even granted a Pakistani special investigation team access to the air base, the first time the two have shown that level of cooperation in such circumstances.
Of course, discord still marred India and Pakistan's interactions. It took several weeks of diplomatic haggling before the Pakistani team was finally able to arrive in India on March 29, and upon completing its investigation, the team reported that New Delhi had failed to fully cooperate. Moreover, India has asked to send its own team to Pakistan, but Islamabad has denied its request. New Delhi has also lodged a complaint with China — Pakistan's strongest ally — over Beijing's refusal to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar a terrorist through the U.N. Security Council. (Azhar is currently in protective custody in Pakistan, and New Delhi has accused Islamabad of employing him and his group to launch attacks in India.) So far, though, China has refused to give in to Indian pressure.

A New Reason for Optimism

These incidents, and others like them, capture the fluidity of the two countries' volatile history. But perhaps no episode better exemplifies the progress and pitfalls of the India-Pakistan relationship than Islamabad's arrest of Kulbushan Jadhav in March. Jadhav — an Indian naval serviceman according to some, an Indian spy according to others — is accused of coordinating the activities of secessionist rebels in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province. According to Islamabad, Jadhav entered Pakistan by way of Iran, where he had established a base in the port city of Chabahar a decade earlier. India acknowledged that Jadhav had served in its navy but has denied his involvement with its intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing.
Either way, Jadhav's arrest is significant for two reasons. First, if Pakistan's allegations are true, they would appear to corroborate Islamabad's long-standing suspicions that India seeks to destabilize Balochistan. For years Islamabad has struggled to quash the secessionist movement taking hold in the province, Pakistan's largest and poorest. Though New Delhi has claimed it does not support the movement, the statements of Baloch separatists suggest otherwise. For example, exiled Baloch separatist Brahamdagh Bugti has refused to refute claims that he received aid from India, while Baloch Council of North America President Wahid Baloch has openly asked New Delhi for financial and military assistance on behalf of the Balochistan liberation movement.
Furthermore, an alleged Indian spy's intrusion into Pakistan from Iran will only reinforce Islamabad's notion that Pakistan's western flank is vulnerable to Indian influence. (India's interference in Balochistan, if real, would give New Delhi leverage against Pakistan, which has allegedly lent its own support to Islamist militant groups in India.) Because Balochistan's security is of paramount importance to the proposed $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Pakistan has an incentive to pull Iran and Afghanistan tighter into its orbit. But doing so may be easier said than done, since New Delhi has its own reasons to woo Tehran and Kabul. India's energy trade with Iran is growing, and the two recently negotiated an agreement enabling India to bypass Pakistan in its energy and trade routes in exchange for developing Iran's Chabahar Port. Both countries also share an interest in preventing the installation of a pro-Pakistan (and, by extension, anti-India) government in Afghanistan.
But the second and more important point is that Pakistan's response to Jadhav's arrest was tempered. Instead of threatening to disengage from peace talks, Pakistani foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz recently confirmed that his country was still interested in resuming the comprehensive bilateral dialogue with India. Although having custody of Jadhav may strengthen Islamabad's bargaining position — and thus give Pakistan a compelling reason to revive the talks — economics offers a more likely explanation for Aziz's statement. The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party faces an election in 2018. If Sharif wants his party to avoid the fate of its predecessor, the Pakistan People's Party, which was voted out of office in 2013 over its poor handling of the economy, he will have to reinvigorate his stalled economic reforms. Warming ties with India could provide the jump-start the Pakistani economy needs by facilitating a more robust trade relationship between the two.
And indeed, ties between India and Pakistan do seem to be thawing in some ways, however gradually. At this week's Heart of Asia Conference-Istanbul Process, Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry met with his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, to talk about a number of problems afflicting the two countries. Chaudhry, for instance, identified the region of Kashmir, which lies on the border between India and Pakistan, as a core issue for both nations. For his part, Jaishankar prioritized terrorism — a problem that presents something of a paradox for Pakistan, since its attempts to open talks with India often give rise to the very attacks that undermine such a dialogue. (The Pathankot attacks, for example, happened a week after Modi went to Pakistan, marking the first visit by an Indian prime minister to the country in 12 years.) Because terrorist attacks against India are often perpetrated by militants seeking Kashmiri independence, Pakistan would prefer to focus its negotiations with India on finding a resolution to the Kashmir conflict — provided, of course, that the resolution serves Islamabad's interests. India, meanwhile, has endured many attacks from militant groups based in Pakistan, and it wants to work with Pakistan to address and pre-empt further threats.
This is not to say that India's and Pakistan's interests are fully aligning, nor that the tension between them will dissipate. But if domestic challenges and common threats continue to drive the two toward dialogue, a more cooperative relationship could be in the making.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Prepare For A Transition

Prepare for a Transition

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Editor's Note: This is the fifth installment of a five-part series authored by ETM Analytics, an economic and financial advisory firm with offices in the United States and South Africa. The analysis contained herein reflects the views of ETM and not of Stratfor. In fact, as you will see, it is different from our existing worldview in some significant ways. We are sharing this with our readers because it is good work, produced using rigorous analytic tools and methodology. As always, we look forward to receiving comments and feedback. At the end of the series, we will share what we hear from you along with Stratfor's thoughts on how our view differs from ETM's.
The United States has made a grand gamble, risking its finances on an activist economic policy that has repeatedly destabilized the financial system. China, too, has taken risks with policy activism, racking up a great deal of debt, the consequences of which reach far beyond Chinese borders. These great wagers reveal a profound transition underway in the global economy, one that will bring new threats to be avoided and fresh opportunities to be seized. Though the past decade was anything but calm, the next decade is set to be rockier still as financial instability shakes the global monetary order to its very foundations.


After the dot com bubble burst — and after the post-9/11 U.S. military escalation — Washington engaged in fiscal and monetary activism that would culminate in the 2008 failure of the global financial system. Instead of changing tactics, Washington raised the stakes, taking on a lot more debt and printing a lot more money.
Since then, cycles of easy money policies have created a series of dollar liquidity summers and winters. Summers, or periods of abundant liquidity, are associated with greater risk-taking and higher asset prices, but they also foster excessive debt, bubbles and instability. Winters, on the other hand, are periods of less liquidity characterized by lower appetite for risk, bubble deflation and recession, but also by corrections of excess, repairs of balance sheets and restoration of confidence. Near the end of the third quarter of 2014, a winter set in, bringing with it falling commodity prices, cracking currency pegs, fearful corporate bond markets and volatility on Wall Street.
The recent convulsions in Chinese financial markets have only made things worse. Beijing appears wholly amenable to keep pumping more credit into the system without regard for the consequences, although this time its citizens and the markets are unconvinced that such aggressive policy stimulus will work. The veneer of Beijing's efficient, competent and formidable autocracy is cracking, chipping away at China's strategic ambitions and the integrity of its currency in the process.
And problems for the United States and China mean problems for the stability of the international currency system. When reserve currency control became a matter of privilege rather than responsibility, it sparked a chaotic battle in the global financial system. This struggle has now become a morass of inflationary monetary expansion and geopolitical clashes as nations pursue incompatible currency objectives. Those clashes, in turn, have yielded widespread financial instability, weakening the state-centric currency model that has dominated decentralized market-centric monetary innovation for around 100 years. Digital currency technology is now making a subversive assault on nationalized currency that could radically change the monetary landscape, the politics of monetary control and state power itself.

Threats for Some

Winter has not ended, and the investors, markets and economies that became complacent during the previous summer cycle are likely to find themselves more exposed to tighter liquidity conditions. In the United States, threats to financial stability have manifested in many sectors: student loans, corporate leveraged loans, vehicle markets and mergers and acquisitions as well as biotechnology and social media. Each of these sectors boomed in times of easy financing but are now more vulnerable to tightening liquidity. For example, since the recession ended in 2009, the amount of student debt has nearly doubled and now stands at about $1.3 trillion. Meanwhile, college tuition has soared. The higher costs, combined with bleak job prospects for graduates, have made conditions ripe for a high rate of default. The entire college economy may be vulnerable, from credit and business risk to the universities themselves and the industries that support college towns.
Elsewhere, mergers and acquisitions in the global biotech industry surged by 270 percent in 2014 and rose by another $500 billion in 2015, increasing their share of total mergers and acquisitions from 6 to 13 percent. This current biotech bubble resembles those in the telecommunications sector in the late 1990s and in the retail and banking sectors at the end of the 2000s. All of these sectors experienced surges in mergers and acquisitions as global liquidity became scarcer. In another risk-laden sector, U.S. sales in lightweight vehicles have returned to historic highs of around 17.5 million units per year, thanks to a 21 percent increase in automobile debt per capita since 2007 and the growing portion of sales funded by subprime automobile loans. Though perhaps not posing the systemic risk of subprime mortgages, subprime automobile delinquencies are becoming more common, posing a growing threat to the United States' trillion-dollar auto loan portfolio and the market for new vehicles, which turns over about half a trillion dollars each year.
In the meantime, contagion from crashing oil and natural gas prices has yet to run its course. Junk energy bonds continue to hurt the total junk and leveraged loan markets. At the same time, the economy is still feeling the effects of credit contagion on upstream and downstream energy service industries and government finances that rely on energy revenue. The collapse of oil prices has exposed the poor economic management of many oil-producing countries, where currency pegs are at risk of breaking or, in some cases, have already broken. Nigeria has been forced to devalue the naira, and Saudi Arabia might have to follow suit with the riyal before long. Africa, in particular, has been hit hard by the steep dive in energy prices, and exploration for new oil and natural gas reserves has dropped off precipitously. Latin America has not fared much better; the latest winter cycle and low oil prices have hastened the slide of the Venezuelan economy to the brink of a hyperinflationary catastrophe.
Of course, what hurts the energy sector and deepens sovereign debt also damages the financial sector, too. In Europe, banking risks are rising, a situation worsened by negative interest rate policies and a flattening term interest rate structure. Then again, the drastic suppression of interest rates might be the only thing keeping investors from lumping debt-laden France in with the rest of the eurozone's peripheral members.
Real estate could face some serious problems as well. Easy money policies and the flight of Chinese capital into desirable property around the world have made the real estate market a potential flashpoint for financial crisis worldwide. Residential and commercial property sectors in Canada, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Australia are arguably in the midst of mega-bubbles that any number of events could burst. If these countries' central banks attempt to counter the bubbles' deflation and prop up their markets with extremely loose monetary policies, their currencies might bear the brunt of the resulting pain and depreciate even further.

Opportunities for Others

Still, this is not to say that the effects of the winter cycle will be all bad. Latin America might look fragile at the moment, but it is well-positioned to bounce back from its current troubles. Structurally, the region's largest economies have either made great strides in becoming more liberal or are on the cusp of shifting away from the leftist tide that swept Latin America in the late 1990s. And because the markets have already adjusted to account for poor regional performance, spurring currency and stock sales in the process, rising interest rates are generating returns at a time when much of the developed world's yields are plunging. Latin America also has geopolitical stability to offer, something that is being increasingly factored into economic risk calculations of late.
Other types of currency, including gold and cryptocurrencies, also stand to do well. These kinds of assets can capitalize on messy currency skirmishes among nations, skirmishes that take their toll on the current monetary order. The gold mining sector, which has been beaten down in recent years, is already starting to recover and could see impressive returns in the years ahead. Meanwhile, private investors are pumping money into blockchain technology, and though a financial crisis could stem these funding flows somewhat, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology seem likely to experience high levels of growth over the next decade.
In health care, new niche technologies will continue to outperform their competitors in today's graying society, especially those that aim to extend lifespans and combat diseases related to old age. Robotics is also an exciting opportunity for growth, as are technological advances in transportation and infrastructure, which will be aided so long as commodity prices remain low.
Finally, after a prolonged retreat in emerging markets, this year may prove to be a turning point, featuring fresh opportunities for investors looking to borrow money at low interest rates to invest in assets with high returns. For that to happen, though, the developed world's core economies — especially that of the United States — will have to first loosen their monetary policies considerably.
If the United States' grand gamble fails, the international monetary system should brace itself for significant and destabilizing change. Moreover, as the effects of this winter cycle's tightening liquidity spread, it is unlikely that commodities and emerging markets will be the only bubbles to pop. Beijing's debt, for one, remains a threat to both China and the rest of the world, particularly as the Asian giant becomes more integrated with international markets than ever. The uncertain future of the U.S. dollar adds to global financial instability and enhances the prospects of an ugly transition, the effects of which could create as many risks as opportunities. The next decade is poised to be every bit as remarkable as the last.

JacksMars: Mars By Drone

JacksMars: Mars By Drone: New imaging technique provides "drone's eye" view of Mars 6 PICTURES Beagle 2 site in high resolution produce...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

In Praise Of Canon Printers

I can say one nice thing about Apple. When you buy one of their products and take it out of the box, you power it up and it works the first time. There is no need for calls to tech support, etc. I decided to upgrade printer capabilities in the house. I bought two Canon printers from were delivered. When I pulled them out of the box they were easy to assemble. When they were plugged in, they worked right the first time without any hassles. What a pleasant surprise!!!!!

Jack's South America: The Risks At Play At The Summer Olympics

Jack's South America: The Risks At Play At The Summer Olympics: The Risks at Play at the Summer Olympics Security Weekly   APRIL 28, 2016 | 08:01 GMT     Print    Text Size  ...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

President Hillary Clinton's Cabinet Will Be 50% Female!

Clinton would copy Canadian PM on cabinet

WASHINGTON — Justin Trudeau's gender-equal cabinet could soon be replicated in the United States, depending on the outcome of the current American election.
The poll-leading presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, appeared to indicate her intention to follow suit when asked about it in a televised event on the eve of Tuesday's five northeastern primaries.
A moderator had asked about the federal cabinet to the north: "Canada has a new prime minister, Justin Trudeau. He promised when he took office that he would have a cabinet that was 50 per cent women, and then he did it. He made good on his promise. Would you make that same pledge?"
Clinton suggested she would: "I am going to have a cabinet that looks like America, and 50 per cent of America is women, right?" That prompted the MSNBC moderator, Rachel Maddow, to conclude, "So that's a yes?"
Canada's gender-balanced cabinet has gotten a fair bit of attention in the U.S., fuelled partly by how the prime minister responded to a question about it with a shoulder shrug and the sound bite: "Because it's 2015."
But in reality, Canada didn't blaze that particular trail.
Finland's cabinet is 62 per cent female; Cape Verde's is 53 per cent; Sweden's is 52 per cent; and France's is 50 per cent, according to last year's statistics from the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Even within Canada, the first gender-parity cabinet was created not by Trudeau — but by the former premier in Trudeau's home province of Quebec, Jean Charest.
Clinton remains the U.S. presidential front-runner, despite a tougher-than-expected primary challenge.
She retains a significant lead over her more progressive challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and is expected to add to it Tuesday in primaries in Maryland, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Delaware.
She has also consistently led general-election polls against the two Republican front-runners — Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz — although she has performed far more poorly against less-successful Republican candidates like Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the dropped-out Marco Rubio.
Trump has also been asked about the Canadian cabinet — and he won't commit to copying the Trudeau formula.

Monday, April 25, 2016

JFK: A Motorcade, A Rifle; But This Wasn't Dallas

JFK. A Motorcade. A Rifle. But this Wasn’t Dallas.

tags: JFKCuban Missile Crisis 

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Stephen F. Knott is a professor of national security affairs at the United States Naval War College.
JFK in Springfield, Illinois, October 1962
It was Springfield, Illinois – at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Recently discovered evidence in the archives of the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston shows there was a serious breach of security in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis that could have altered the course of history.
The Cuban Missile Crisis is one of the most over-analyzed events in American history, so much so that it is hard to believe there is anything new to learn about the most nerve-wracking confrontation of the Cold War. Yet Americans both then and now were unaware of how close history came to be altered by President Kennedy’s assassination, in, of all places, Springfield, Illinois, the home and final resting place of Abraham Lincoln, on October 19, 1962, four days into the missile crisis.
John F. Kennedy left the White House that October morning in order to divert the media from the fact that a crisis was unfolding in the Caribbean. The President kept a previous commitment to travel to Illinois to campaign for Democratic congressional candidates in the 1962 off-year election. In the interim, Kennedy instructed his ExComm – Executive Committee of the National Security Council – to come up with options to present to him upon his return to Washington.
Springfield’s hometown newspaper, the Illinois State Journal, reported that morning on the president’s impending visit, laying out in detail Kennedy’s schedule and his motorcade route, including a thorough account of whether a particular vehicle would contain Secret Service agents, some of whom were even mentioned by name. Kennedy’s first stop was a visit to the tomb of his martyred predecessor, Abraham Lincoln. On his way to the tomb, two men were spotted along the motorcade route with a rifle, after Kennedy’s motorcade had driven by, but before it was scheduled to return on the same route, some 30 minutes later. The Secret Service would later report that “a few minutes after the motorcade passed, an employee of the Illinois Department of Public Safety saw a rifle barrel with telescopic sight protruding from a second-story window.” Two men, brothers-in-law aged 20 and 16, were taken into custody. The report continued, “A .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle and a full box of .22 long rifle ammunition was seized.” Both men admitted “pointing the gun out the window on the parade route. However, they claimed that they had merely been testing the power of the telescopic sight to determine if it would be worthwhile to remove it in order to get a better look at the President when the motorcade returned. As there was no evidence to the contrary, and neither man had any previous record, prosecution was declined.” Two men, with a box of ammunition, who were apparently planning to share a telescopic rifle sight to “get a better look at the President.”
Had President Kennedy been killed or wounded, Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who, as historian Sheldon Stern has noted, wavered between a hawkish position and a more conciliatory stance regarding the missiles in Cuba, would have faced an impossible situation. Knowing of the Soviet deception in Cuba, how much of a leap would it have been to assume that the president had been murdered as part of a larger effort by the Soviets to launch some type of surprise, coordinated attack? Evidence that Johnson might have responded with force after an assassination attempt on President Kennedy can be found in the secret recordings of the ExComm’s deliberations. At one point Johnson was asked by Secretary of State Dean Rusk whether the United States would be forced to respond militarily. Johnson noted, “I think you’re at that point,” since the public would likely demand action, and while “the President made a fine speech,” the public would want to know “what else have you done?” There was a “great feeling of insecurity” in the country, Johnson added.
Even if Johnson did not have evidence linking the Soviets or the Cubans to an assassination attempt, the American public might well have drawn that link, particularly after learning about the missiles in Cuba, and demanded a harsh response. Planning and conducting a state funeral, not to mention dealing with all the emotions surrounding the death of a young president, in the midst of the worst crisis of the Cold War would have compounded an already delicate situation beyond measure. It seems likely that Lyndon Johnson, unsure of himself in the foreign policy realm, would have followed the advice of the majority of Kennedy’s ExComm, and launched some type of attack.
Tragically, while lessons may have been learned from the missile crisis, nothing was learned from the events in Springfield in October, 1962. Despite the fact that a rifle with a telescopic sight emerged from the upper floor of a building overlooking a presidential motorcade route, carrying a president who insisted on not being sheltered inside a protective bubble, presidential protection practices remained the same. In Springfield, the rifleman held his fire for whatever reason, perhaps waiting for the President’s return trip, or perhaps he was telling the truth about simply wanting to “get a better look” at JFK. Thirteen months later, under similar circumstances, after gunshots echoed throughout Dealey Plaza, some in the Secret Service must have wished that the episode in the shadow of Lincoln’s Tomb had been taken more seriously.  

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The Coming US Hispanic Backlash


The coming US Hispanic backlash

The Republicans will pay for Donald Trump’s anti-Mexico rhetoric
Matt Kenyon illustration
© Matt Kenyon
What do we want? Donald Trump asks his crowds. “A wall!” they reply. Who is going to pay for it? “Mexico!” Now, here is a question Mr Trump never asks: who will vote in record numbers against me? “Hispanics!” should be the response. The difference is that the last one will almost certainly happen. As the countdown to the final primary in California intensifies, the state’s conservatives might ask another question: Do we want the Republican Party to go the way it went in the golden state? If the answer is no, which it should be, why is Mr Trump leading in its June 7 polls?
If you want a glimpse of America’s future, turn to California. In 2014, when Mr Trump was pondering his White House run, the state crossed a Rubicon. The number of Hispanics surpassed the number of whites. Two years earlier, California passed a related political milestone. For the first time it failed to elect a single Republican to statewide office. Not only is the state’s governor, Jerry Brown, a Democrat but roughly two-thirds of each legislative chamber are too. If a Republican were elected governor, the assembly could override his veto. The state that produced Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon has relegated the party to a veto-proof minority, which is where it is likely to stay.
Mr Trump is doing his best to chart a similar course for the national party. In the last presidential election in 2012, Mitt Romney received just 27 per cent of the Hispanic vote — a sharp drop from what George W Bush had attracted. It was a key factor in Mr Romney’s defeat. He had urged Hispanics to “self-deport”. At the time his words seemed hardline. Mr Trump has taken it up several notches by referring to illegal Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “murderers” and vowing to deport them forcibly. Unsurprisingly, he is polling at barely double digits among Hispanics. A generation ago, Latino Americans were concentrated in California, Texas, and Chicago. They are now spread nationally. In states such as Colorado, North Carolina, Florida and Virginia, non-Cuban Hispanic voters could tip a race. All the signs are that Hispanic groups are determined to make that a reality in 2016.
Their hurdle is pretty low. Univision, the dominant Spanish-language television network, is leading a drive to register 3m new Hispanic voters led by its celebrity journalist, Jorge Ramos — a man whom Mr Trump last year had physically removed from a press conference. Every time a Hispanic turns on their TV, or goes on to their Facebook page, they are urged to register. The only comparable drive is what Barack Obama’s campaign did with African-American voters in 2008, which was a blowout success. Univision is even more ubiquitous than his campaign. Its ratings often exceed the English-language networks. If Univision achieves its voter drive targets, it is hard to see how Mr Trump could win the White House.
But that is only the start. Hispanic Americans are younger than their white counterparts, which means they will vote in ever greater shares at each future election. The median age for Hispanics is just 28 according to Pew Research Center: Hispanic Trends, against 43 for whites. The younger you go down the age scale, the higher the share of Hispanics. Last year, for the first time, whites dropped below half of all Americans under the age of five. This is roughly where California was 30 years ago. Then came Pete Wilson, a Republican governor, who in 1994 put forward proposition 187, which banned illegal immigrants from using non-emergency services, and set up a screening system to identify them. To documented, electorally-registered, Hispanics “Prop 187” was the equivalent to Mr Trump’s wall. California’s Republicans have been on a downhill slope ever since.
There are two great ironies to Mr Trump’s coming Hispanic train wreck. The first is that the outcry against illegal immigrants is several years out of date. In the past five years, more than 1m have followed Mr Romney’s advice and “self-deported”. The number has dropped from 12.7m to 11m according to the US census. America’s immigration crisis is over and has to some degree gone into reverse. The number of people caught crossing the US-Mexico border in the first quarter of 2016 fell to its lowest level since 1969, according to the US border patrol. Politics is about perception, rather than reality, so such facts have little sway on Mr Trump’s supporters. Rightly or wrongly — but mostly wrongly — they see a link between their declining wages and the impact of illegal labour.
The second irony is that Republicans have been here before. The party is likely to pay a price for its amnesia. In the 1920s, the largely Protestant Republican party pushed through US restrictions that kept out Catholic newcomers for the next generation. The torrent of Sicilians, Irish, Poles and others slowed to a trickle. In so doing, Republicans cemented Catholic loyalty to the Democratic party for the next generation. It was only in the 1980s that “Reagan Democrats” felt able to vote Republican.
How long will Republicans pay for Mr Trump’s anti-Hispanic rhetoric? If history offers a guide, it will be a long time. If America’s future offers another, nominating Mr Trump could mark a point of no return. California provides the writing on the wall, so to speak — a wall that Republicans will pay for.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Very Kind Man Who Gave Me A Job Almost 20 Years Ago Is Now A Facebook Friend

Everyone Facebook is amazing. On September 11, 1996 I arrived in San Jose, California on a Greyhound bus. I checked in at the Plaza Hotel near the bus station. I desperately needed a job. When you were 52 years of age, employment was hard to find. I was low on cash and found that bus drivers would let you ride for free if you were broke. I got on one bus and plead poverty. The driver was this very nice but very tough African-American lady. She told me that there was no excuse for me to be in these circumstances. She told me that she was going to give me a ride to the Veteran's Center in downtown San Jose where I could find employers. She dropped me off in front of the Veteran's Center and I went in. There was a board there with several jobs. One caught my eye. It was with the manage consulting firm George S, May Company. I called and made an appointment for a job interview. I got directions and rode the bus to the company. It was located in a beautiful brick building. When I got up to the reception area I was greeted by a beautiful woman from Trinidad named Lovern. She spoke with an elegant British accent and is my friend until today. She directed me to the office of Scott Ocheltree. We had a nice interview and got along well. He made me an offer of employment in the telemarketing department. It was only $8.00 an hour but it was a start. I was told to report to work the following morning. I did and started a one-year career at the George S. May Company. My housing situation was precarious. I was staying in a hotel that charged $30.00 per night. A friend in Texas sent me $100 to keep me at the hotel 3 days longer. When that money ran out, I asked Scott to loan me $60 for two more days. He did so and I repaid him later. Scott was a great boss and a wonderful human being. I'm so glad to be reunited with him and to tell him that I have not forgotten his kindness in that dark moment in my life.