A Brief Colonial History Of Ceylon(SriLanka)
Jack Layton’s open letter
Systematic Genocide of Tamils
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Construction in the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit, built on land expropriated from the village of Wadi Fukin near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, September 2014.Ahmad Al-BazzActiveStills
Ryan Rodrick Beiler-31 May 2016
America’s largest faith-based pension fund has invested in a number of firms seeking to profit from Israeli war crimes over the past four years.
Like many other religious organizations, the 12 million-strong United Methodist Church has formally criticized Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. At a 2012 policy-making conference, the UMC appealed for a global boycott of goods produced in the settlements which Israel is building in the occupied West Bank in violation of international law.
The church’s own pension board, however, has failed to respect the spirit of that call. Since 2012, it has invested in a number of companies that are active in Israeli settlements.
At the beginning of this year, the pension board held investments in 23 Israeli companies.
They include the supermarket chains Rami Levy and Shufersal, the telecommunications firm Bezeq and the fuel distributor Delek. All of these firms have opened outlets in or provided services to Israel’s settlements in the West Bank.
The board has also invested in the Strauss Group, a firm that has given financial support to the Israeli military.
And it has bought shares in a number of weapons-makers — such as France’s Dassault, which is engaged in joint activities with the Israeli arms industry.
Such investments appear inconsistent with the UMC’s stated policy of avoiding investments that could assist human rights violations.
The Electronic Intifada has compared the pension board’s current investments with those held in 2012. Many of the Israeli companies that appear in the 2016 list of holdings do not appear in the 2012 list, indicating that many of those investments have been made within that period.
The Electronic Intifada asked the pension board to explain why it has continued investing in Israeli firms active in the West Bank. No comment was received from the board by the time of publication.
Susanne Hoder, a Methodist active in the Palestine solidarity movement, told The Electronic Intifada that “the church finds itself in the very awkward position of owning stock in companies in the illegal settlements after we’ve called on all nations to boycott products from companies in the illegal settlements.”
The construction and expansion of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank breach the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids an occupying power from moving its civilian population into the territory that it occupies. As such, Israel’s settlement activities amount to war crimes.
Several resolutions urging divestment from corporations involved in the Israeli occupation were proposed ahead of a recent Methodist conference in Portland, Oregon. Those resolutions encountered stiff opposition from an internal church finance committee. As a result, some of the resolutions did not go to a general vote.
The position of the financial committee was at odds with previous decisions taken by the church. The church had already taken steps in the recent past to divest from some Israeli companies.
Last year, the church’s pension board announced that it had excluded Elbit, a leading supplier of drones to the Israeli military, and several Israeli banks from its investment portfolio.
Hoder argued that the December decision by the pension board was “unprecedented in the fact that it dealt with banks that fund the occupation as opposed to specific companies that profit from it.”
Those companies were excluded from the board’s portfolio after the pension board commissioned a screening of its investments to identify firms implicated in human rights abuses.
Palestine solidarity activists were hoping to build on that achievement by having a more explicit commitment to divestment from firms aiding Israel’s human rights abuses approved by the Portland conference.
Palestine solidarity campaigners say that the church has come under intense pressure from pro-Israel lobby groups to back away from its efforts to cut ties with occupation-linked firms.
Delegates attending the Portland conference reported having received personal phone calls from Israeli consular staff in various US cities. International delegates received similar pressure from Israeli diplomats in their home countries.
“We know they [the pro-Israel lobby] have a large fund set aside for defeating anything related to divestment and boycott,” said Hoder. “And we feel that they made use of that.”
Hoder is a co-chair of the United Methodist Kairos Response. That group was formed to support a 2009 call by Palestinian Christians for a boycott of Israel, a document known as the Kairos Palestine statement.
After various pleas to support boycott and divestment measures were issued by Methodist groupings in different parts of the US ahead of the Portland conference, it became apparent that a finance committee wished to reject them, Hoder said.
Several members of the pension board sit on that committee. Other members of the committee were known to be sympathetic towards Israel. Activists told The Electronic Intifada that at least one member argued that it was inflammatory to use the terms “Palestine” or “occupied territories.”
Just days before the conference, presidential contender Hillary Clinton released a letter slamming the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Addressed to the leaders of major Israel lobby organizations, it did not directly mention the Methodist Church.
But the target was obvious.
Clinton repeated well-worn Israel lobby talking points, accusing the BDS movement of being “counterproductive” and “harmful to Israelis and Palestinians alike.”
“Hillary Clinton’s letter was only one of the indications that any Methodist was being lobbied on BDS issues,” Jonathan Kuttab, a human rights lawyer who followed the Portland conference, told The Electronic Intifada.
Although the Portland conference was something of a setback, Palestine solidarity activists in the church believe they can build on the progress they have already made.
While the vote on boycott and divestment was blocked, the conference did approve a resolution saying that Methodists should “seriously consider using nonviolent economic means when appropriate and effective” to support struggles by indigenous peoples around the world. It also opposes all efforts by governments to suppress the use of such means.
That statement could potentially be useful in fighting the attacks on the BDS movement by Israel and its allies.
Other resolutions approved by the conference focus on Israel’s unjust policies regarding water access and land rights. One highlights the destruction of fruit trees by Israeli forces in the West Bank village of Wadi Fukin.
Many participants in the conference recognized that Palestinians are victims of colonialism. Japanese Americans who had survived the internment camps of the Second World War, Native American and African activists drew parallels between Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and the ethnic cleansing inflicted on other indigenous peoples.
“We had indigenous people from many parts of the world who were drawing parallels between their own experiences of colonialism and dispossession and the experience of the Palestinians today,” said Hoder.
Alex Awad, a Palestinian who spent more than 20 years as a UMC missionary, said, “We did not get all that we wanted or hoped for. But we are very thankful and encouraged for the powerful resolutions that came out of the conference in support for Palestinian rights.”
“The positive side is that United Methodists have been educated through the process,” Awad added. “While United Methodists are agonizing over these issues, other churches are not willing even to discuss them.”
Additional reporting by David Cronin.
Ryan Rodrick Beiler is a freelance photojournalist and member of the ActiveStills collective who lives in Oslo, Norway.
The husband and son of Dafna Meir, 38, mourn as they stand beside her body during her funeral in Jerusalem in January. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
OTNIEL, West Bank — Natan Meir sat on the couch, his teenage daughter curled beside him, wrapped in a blanket, though the day was warm. He said the nights were the most difficult. He and his six children, each with their memories. They cannot sleep.
Meir pointed toward the kitchen, a few steps away. This is where his wife, Dafna, died on the floor. She fought hard, he explained. She was a tiny woman. She was stabbed to death in January by
a 15-year-old Palestinian who sneaked
a 15-year-old Palestinian who sneaked
Alongside the Israeli ambassador, Meir went to the United Nations in April to tell his story. He delivered a letter to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling for “endless patience and endless love.” He said peace with the Palestinians could take “hundreds of years.”
He said no one at the Security Council would look him in the eye.
Meir is a Jewish settler living deep in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on land the Palestinians want for a state. He knows the international community does not like where he lives. He said he took solace from the fact that he is friends with some Arab neighbors.
He said one came and offered to kill his wife’s assailant.
One came and just wept.
“We will have peace when we have it in our hearts,” Meir said.
He wore a loaded pistol on his right hip as he said this.
News coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict tracks well the day-to-day violence, but after the funerals, the families recede to their corners to carry on with their lives.
The husband and daughters of Dafna Meir, 38, mourn during her funeral in January. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
The husband and daughters of Dafna Meir, 38, mourn during her funeral in January. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
This is a small window; this is what carrying on looks like.
In the Palestinian village a mile away lives Badir Adais, the father of the teen who killed Dafna Meir.
Adais sat in his driveway, drawing deeply on a cigarette, looking out at his garden. There were yellow roses in May bloom. Someone was watering the flowers, though his home is slated for demolition by the Israeli army, an act designed to deter future attacks, but one that Palestinians denounce as collective punishment.
“Do you want me to say that I am sorry for what happened?” Adais said. “This is a tragedy for all of us.”
Asked how he would explain his son Mourad’s decision to take a knife from his mother’s kitchen, cross the valley and attack someone else’s mother, Adais shook his head. He could not.
“He did not come from that kind of family,” Adais said. “He wasn’t a violent boy.”
When Meir heard this later, he said calmly, “I believe him.”
Meir said, “The whole thing took 20 seconds, no more. He ran into the kitchen, they fought. He stabbed my wife. She struggled to keep the knife inside her, so he couldn’t use it against the children.”
Meir said, “He didn’t act with confidence, with training. He came in a cowardly way. He was afraid. The minute he saw my daughter and heard her scream, he ran away.”
He said his wife was stabbed three times in the body, once in the head. Meir said, “I apologize for the raw details.”
For the past eight months, young Palestinians from the West Bank — mostly men, but some women, too — have been attacking Israeli soldiers and civilians with knives, guns, cars and bombs.
The killings have been incredibly intimate — face-to-face at a time when modern warfare is increasingly prosecuted at great distances, by smart bombs and remotely piloted drones.
In all, some 30 Israelis have died in the wave of violence, along with two American visitors. Almost 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces — most during attacks or attempted attacks, others in violent demonstrations.
The killings have slowed since March, but they continue.
On May 23, a 17-year-old girl, Sawsan Mansur, was shot dead by Israeli forces at a checkpoint north of Jerusalem after she approached soldiers with a knife, according to police.
The motivation for the spasm of violence has been debated but remains obscure.
Palestinian officials blame the almost 50-year occupation — the frustration and humiliation of checkpoints, land seizures, raids, military tribunals and the building of the Jewish settlements, communities like Otniel that the international community describes as illegal, though Israel disputes this. Revenge is another motive; funerals beget funerals, the Palestinians say. Some young attackers may also seek a “pure” death at Israeli hands — “suicide by martyrdom.”
Many Israelis say that Arabs just want to kill Jews, that the violence is ancient, decoupled from politics. Israeli politicians blame Palestinian incitement. Israeli intelligence analysts say the assailants are “lone wolves” whose motives are varied — driven by personal problems, Palestinian nationalism and hopelessness.
What caused Mourad Adais to cross the valley to Otniel?
His father said that Mourad was “young and dumb,” that he “must have flipped out” watching the video clips aired over and over on news channels showing Israeli soldiers shooting young Palestinians holding knives at checkpoints.
In his living room in Otniel, Meir pointed toward the metal railing along the stairwell, at the woodwork, the cabinets, tiles.
“Arabs built this house,” he said. Most of the Jewish settlements have been built by Palestinian laborers, who need the work and the better wages offered by the settlers.
Meir worked as a security coordinator at the settlement for several years. “I checked hundreds of Palestinians every day. I treated them very well,” he said.
He said he made friends with his Palestinian neighbors. One friend is distantly related to the killer’s family.
Did this man come to visit after his wife’s death? “He did. He said, ‘I am ashamed.’ I told him, ‘You are a good person, he was a bad person. Why are you ashamed?’ ’’
What did they talk about? “He said a few words, but mostly he cried. Me and him sitting here, we just cried.”
Meir has not spoken much in public. His wife’s death was one of the most shocking for Israelis — because Dafna Meir was a mother of six killed in her kitchen in a well-defended Jewish settlement deep in the West Bank.
Her funeral was attended by thousands, including political leaders.
Meir said that his wife loved their house. It lies at the edge of Otniel, on a pretty hilltop with views of olive groves, ancient terraces, fields of grape and cherry, and little Palestinian villages. It looks like a place out of a travel magazine if you airbrushed away the military bases and the armed guards at the gate.
“We moved here right after we were married. We stood outside looking at it. It was smaller then, almost a cabin. This was 19 years ago. She said to me, ‘This is the first time in my life I have a home.’ ”
He explained: “Dafna came from nowhere, a really broken family, violent, and since she was 8 years old, she lived in children’s homes, orphanages, a kibbutz for kids. She was very alone.”
He works as a psychotherapist treating men with addiction to pornography. She counseled women in fertility issues — how to get pregnant, and how not to.
They raised four children, then adopted two brothers, one with special needs. He witnessed the attack, along with the couple’s 17-year-old daughter, Renana.
The father of Dafna Meir’s killer works in construction; he had been to the Otniel settlement only once, briefly, to do a job.
For the past 20 years, Badir Adais has had a permit to work in Israel, but he said his son had never been to Israel, never set foot in a settlement until the day of the killing, had probably never spoken more than a few words to a Jew in his entire life.
Adais said that his family is not political, that his children have not been arrested for throwing stones at soldiers. They do not have Internet in the house; his son did not own a smartphone. “We live far from the world,” Adais said.
A day after Meir was killed, the Israeli army and border police came to the family house. The commander asked Adais if he knew why the army was there. He said no.
Adais said the officer, who spoke fluent Arabic, snatched his work permit. “He handcuffed Mourad. He said your son did this and this and this at the settlement. The commander said, ‘I will make you a beggar. I will destroy your house. I will send you to Gaza.’ ”
Mourad turned 16 in prison. His lawyer told Adais that his son signed a confession. He will get life in prison.
“I saw him at the court two weeks ago. I told him, you have to forget about us, don’t worry about us. You have to face what is happening. Forget us, forget the house. You are inside, we are outside. I told my son, ‘You will spend your life in prison, prepare yourself.’ ”
At Dafna Meir’s funeral, her daughter Renana, racked by tears, apologized to her mother for not being able to save her.
Today, Renana prepares for her final exams and graduation from high school. “I am trying to get used to a new life, learning how to build my life without my mother. I am learning to be by myself.”
Sufian Taha in Yatta, West Bank, contributed to this report.
Mohammed Alloush accused Syria's government of "continuous aggressions" against the Syrian people
A truce between rebel and government forces is frequently violated
The chief negotiator of Syria's main opposition umbrella group, Mohammed Alloush, has resigned over what he called the failure of peace talks.
Mr Alloush, from the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), said the talks had not brought a political deal or eased the plight of Syrians in besieged areas.
The HNC suspended its involvement in the UN-brokered "proximity" negotiations with a Syrian government delegation in Geneva in April.
No date has been set for a resumption.
"The three rounds of talks were unsuccessful because of the stubbornness of the regime and its continued bombardments and aggressions against the Syrian people," Mr Alloush said.
Further departures fears
The Saudi-backed HNC has for months expressed its frustration about the progress of the Geneva talks.
It has been angered by the lack of humanitarian aid reaching besieged areas, the slow release of political detainees and the absence of movement towards a political transition in Syria without President Bashar al-Assad.
A nationwide truce between rebel and government forces brokered by the US and Russia is officially still in place, but is frequently violated.
Mr Alloush's resignation could prompt further departures.
Reports say another member of the HNC has signalled he too may quit.
More than 250,000 Syrians have been killed and about 11 million people have been forced from their homes during the civil war, which began with an uprising against Mr Assad five years ago.
Coimbatore: bobbin and weavin’
MAHATMA GANDHI would not have enjoyed Texfair 2016 in Coimbatore in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The man hated machines and factories, and promoted Indian independence by urging every household to spin its own cotton yarn. But on display at the textile fair were bobbins, rollers, waste balers, quality-control sensors and much, much more.
Indeed, India is vying with China to be the world’s biggest producer of yarn, with over 45m spindles twirling around the clock. But what is striking about the trade fair is how so much of the modern wizardry on show is made not in better-known industrial centres around the world but in Coimbatore itself, a city of just 1.6m some 500 kilometres (310 miles) south-west of Chennai, the Tamil Nadu capital.
The fast-growing city is an inelegant sprawl stretching into groves of coconut palms. It teems with technical institutes, bustling factories and civic spirit. Earnest and ambitious, Coimbatore evokes the American Midwest of a century ago. A regional manufacturers’ group that was founded in 1933 during Gandhi’s homespun campaign has now designed, built and marketed a hand-held, battery-operated cotton picker that it claims is six times more efficient than human fingers.
Gandhi would have been appalled. But the gadget says something about the quiet success of parts of India’s deep south. Mill owners worry that with day wages in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Kerala to the west now far higher than those in northern India, local cotton may grow uncompetitive. Tea planters in the hills west of Coimbatore are already squeezed. One landowner, in Kerala’s Wayanad region, where silver oaks shade trim ranks of tea bushes, says that his pickers get 300 rupees (about $4.50) a day, nearly three times the wage in Darjeeling in India’s north.
It may not sound like much, but it is also more than the average Indian earns. And as a whole, GDP per person in Tamil Nadu and Kerala is 68% and 41% higher respectively than the national average of $1,390 a year. With the south’s booming new industries, better education and higher wages contrasted with declining industries in the north and east, India is undergoing a shift a bit like the American one from the rustbelt to the sunbelt in the 1980s. Kerala shares in this new industrialisation less than Tamil Nadu, but that is balanced by another source of prosperity: remittances from abroad. As many as one in ten of Kerala’s 35m people work in the rich Arab countries of the Persian Gulf. Their remittances boost local incomes, property prices and demand for better schools. Kerala, under leftist governments for the past six decades, already has India’s best state education and its highest literacy rate. Its school district has again topped nationwide exams for 17-year-olds, followed by Chennai region, covering the rest of southern India.
Yet India’s deep south has not transmuted growing prosperity into greater political clout. It remains largely aloof from broader political trends, including a slugging match between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in office nationally under Narendra Modi, the prime minister, and Congress, the once-dominant centre-left party that worships Gandhi. In elections across four Indian states that wrapped up on May 19th, attention elsewhere focused largely on the fortunes of those two parties. The BJP’s capture from Congress of Assam in the north-east was seen as a big boost for Mr Modi. Congress’s failure to take any state was seen as a sign of decay.
Voters in both Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which has 72m people, paid hardly any attention at all. In both states the contest was between long-established state-level parties. Keralites and Tamils alike admit that in terms of policy not much distinguishes the rival parties. For a generation, power in Kerala has alternated between two left-of-centre coalitions. Tamil Nadu, meanwhile, has been in thrall to parties that both make “Dravidian progress”—a reference to South India’s linguistic and racial separateness from the “Aryan”, Hindi-dominated north—part of their name.
Elections are often bidding wars. In Tamil Nadu this has meant offers of household goods or simple cash. The favoured lure in Kerala, where politics is so staid that rival party bands traditionally deliver a joint crescendo in village squares to mark the end of campaigning, has been promises of ever more generous welfare.
In practice, voters often punish the party in power. But this year voters in Tamil Nadu re-elected the incumbent government for the first time in a generation. The AIADMK, whose boss is a former actress known as Jayalalithaa, had the stronger party machine and a track record of generosity. It secured victory over the DMK, from which it split in 1972. The outcome in Kerala was more traditional. The corruption-tainted ruling coalition, led by a local affiliate of Congress, was trounced by the communist-led Left Front.
Interestingly, gains were made by a newcomer to Keralite politics since the last state elections in 2011: Mr Modi’s BJP. It picked up just one seat in the 140-member state assembly, but almost doubled its proportion of votes, to 15%. To some, the Hindu-nationalist party’s entry reflects the impatience of Kerala’s growing (and mostly Hindu) middle class with the handout politics that tends, on paper at least, to favour religious minorities in a state that is 27% Muslim and 18% Christian. But Keralites fed up with both Congress and the hammer-and-sickle mob, both of which have failed to foster industrialisation and jobs, may have felt they had nowhere else to go.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso attend a parliament session for a no-confidence motion against Abe's cabinet, submitted by four opposition parties at the parliament in Tokyo, Japan May 31, 2016.REUTERS/TORU HANAI
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to announce on Wednesday that the government will delay a scheduled sales tax hike by two-and-a-half years, but will likely bow to pressure from his coalition partner not to call a snap general election.
The tax delay, which had been widely expected, will be welcomed by voters, who will cast ballots in an upper house election in July. But it is fanning doubts about Abe's plans to curb Japan's huge public debt and fund ballooning social welfare costs of a fast-ageing population.
It would be the second time that Abe has delayed the increase in the sales tax to 10 percent from 8 percent, after a rise from 5 percent in April 2014 tipped the economy back into recession. Abe took office in December 2012 pledging to beat deflation and reboot the moribund economy with his "Abenomics" revival recipe, but has made little headway amid stubbornly weak domestic and export demand.
"From an economic standpoint, the market is likely to view the delay as a positive surprise for domestic demand," said Lee Jin Yang, macro research analyst for Aberdeen Asset Management in Singapore.
Abe, whose term as ruling Liberal Democratic Party president and hence, premier, ends in September 2018 unless the LDP changes its rules, has repeatedly said he would implement the tax rise as planned unless the economy faced a shock from a financial crisis or natural disaster.
But he laid the groundwork for a delay at last week's Group of Seven summit, insisting his G7 partners shared a "strong sense of crisis" about the global economic outlook and drawing parallels to the 2008 world financial crisis that followed the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.
Government officials have said Abe has not abandoned a pledge to bring the country's primary budget balance into the black by the fiscal year from April 2020 to rein in public debt which is already more than double annual economic output.
But that target had already looked elusive, even with the government's rosy forecast of real economic growth of 2 percent on average in coming years.
Abe will also need to explain to voters how he plans to make up for the funding gap from the tax hike delay to October 2019, and keep pledges to beef up support for the elderly.
Speculation had simmered that Abe would call an election for parliament's powerful lower house as he did in 2014 after announcing the first tax hike delay, aiming to lock in his ruling bloc's two-thirds "super majority" in the lower house and win a similar grip on the upper chamber.
No lower house poll need be held until 2018.
(Reporting by Linda Sieg, Tetsushi Kajimoto and Leika Kihara in Tokyo, Masayuki Kitano in Singapore; Editing by Kim Coghill)
More than 400 pages of released Trump University files describe how staff should target financial weaknesses to sell high-priced real estate courses
Rupert Neate and Lauren Gambino in New York-Tuesday 31 May 2016
Donald Trump used to build his business empire.
Donald Trump used to build his business empire.
US district court judge Gonzalo Curiel on Tuesday made public more than 400 pages of Trump University “playbooks” describing how Trump staff should target prospective students’ weaknesses to encourage them to sign up for a $34,995 Gold Elite three-day package.
Trump University staff were instructed to get people to pile on credit card debt and to target their financial weaknesses in an attempt to sell them the high-priced real estate courses.
The documents contained an undated “personal message” from Trump to new enrollees at the school: “Only doers get rich. I know that in these three packed days, you will learn everything to make a million dollars within the next 12 months.”
The courses are now subject to legal proceedings from unhappy clients.
Judge Curiel released the documents, which are central to a class-action lawsuit against Trump University in California, despite sustaining repeated public attacks from Trump, who had fought to keep the details secret.
Curiel ruled that the documents were in the public interest now that Trump is “the front-runner in the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential race, and has placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue”.
Trump hit back calling Curiel a “hater”, a “total disgrace” and “biased”. “I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump. A hater. He’s a hater,” Trump said at a rally near the courthouse in San Diego. “His name is Gonzalo Curiel. And he is not doing the right thing ... [He] happens to be, we believe, Mexican.”
Curiel, who is Hispanic, is American and was born in Indiana.
Trump went on to attack Curiel further on Twitter on Monday and at a press conference in New York on Monday.
The playbook contains long sections telling Trump U team members how to identify buyers and push them to sign up for the most expensive package, and to put the cost on their credit cards.
“If they can afford the gold elite don’t allow them to think about doing anything besides the gold elite,” the document states.
If potential students hesitate, teachers are told to read this script.
As one of your mentors for the last three days, it’s time for me to push you out of your comfort zone. It’s time for you to be 100% honest with yourself. You’ve had your entire adult life to accomplish your financial goals. I’m looking at your profile and you’re not even close to where you need to be, much less where you want to be. It’s time you fix your broken plan, bring in Mr. Trump’s top instructors and certified millionaire mentors and allow us to put you and keep you on the right track. Your plan is BROKEN and WE WILL help you fix it. Remember you have to be 100% honest with yourself!
Trump University staff are instructed in how to persuade students to put the cost of the course on their credit cards, even if they have just battled to pay off debts.
Do you like living paycheck to paycheck? ... Do you enjoy seeing everyone else but yourself in their dream houses and driving their dreams cars with huge checking accounts? Those people saw an opportunity, and didn’t make excuses, like what you’re doing now.
Trump staff are told to spend lunch breaks in sign-up seminars “planting seeds” in potential students minds about how their lives won’t improve unless they join the programme. They are also told to ask students personal questions to discover weaknesses that could be exploited to help seal the deal.
Collect personalized information that you can utilize during closing time. (For example: are they a single parent of three children that may need money for food? Or are they a middle-aged commuter that is tired of traveling for 2 hours to work each day?)
New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, who has also sued Trump University, renewed his attacks on Trump on Tuesday. “You are not allowed to protect the trade secrets of a three-card Monte game,” Schneiderman said ahead of the document’s release. “If you look at the facts of this case, this shows someone who was absolutely shameless in his willingness to lie to people, to say whatever it took to induce them into his phony seminars,” Schneiderman said.
(Emeritus Professor of Economics,The University, Bangor, Wales, UK)
The referendum on British exit from the European Union is a symptom of the rise of the politics of identity over the politics of prosperity. Both sides in this debate have made forecasts of the economic outcome. Forecasting organisations, barring a couple of dissenters, have expressed fears of a sharp decline in the economy, at least in the short run, if the Brexit camp wins. The Brexit camp counters these gloomy forecasts arguing that the economy would adjust to a new pattern of trade in no time and enter into a new era of prosperity by leaving the EU. In any event, these arguments about economic forecasts are simply a distraction for those that wish to leave. The Brexit camp places greater store on sovereignty -- taking control over the legal definition of human rights, dispensing with much of the regulations governing commerce and industry, and setting rules for immigration. Once the vote is cast to leave, there is no point of return. The decision criterion of minimising the maximum potential disruption to the economy is the only rational choice given the impossibility of computing the probabilities of predicted consequences of the outcome of the vote. This criterion favours a vote to remain a member.
We know what it is to live with membership, and we have some idea about the likely success of agitating for change to make institution within the UK and also in the EU more responsive to the voter. Institutions of governance are always under the scanner in a democracy. Within the UK, composition and selection rules of the upper chamber and devolution of power between regions is not a settled matter. Likewise, the question of democratic legitimacy of distribution of powers amongst various institutions within the EU is being debated, and not just in the UK. In a pluralistic democracy, not all citizens wish to subscribe to the same agenda for change, and even an encompassing view which might emerge would remain under scrutiny. A referendum is not the best way to proceed.
A difference between parliamentary elections in a system of representative government and voting in referenda is that the voter imposes on herself and the rest of society a greater burden of any unintended and unwelcome consequence of the outcome. This is especially so when the status quo is severely jolted in pursuit of ideas which cannot be measured in terms of their impact on our living standard.
In electing representatives to govern, the voter has the luxury of voting for government on a policy platform, but judging the government on consequences of that policy. Casting a vote for candidates expounding, for example, a tough stance on immigration does not constrain the voter from criticising a government thus elected if food prices rise in consequence or if the availability of medical care is compromised due to lack of qualified staff.
Mrs Thatcher secured a parliamentary majority in 1979 on a policy platform comprising, inter alia, a vow dramatically to reduce the share of government expenditure in the GDP. The ratio had climbed to 45 per cent. Notwithstanding this harsh rhetoric, government expenditure and its share in the GDP continued to increase in the initial years driven by unforeseen fiscal pressure of a sudden and sharp rise in unemployment. The ratio finally came down, but only to 40 per cent of the GDP, when she left office a decade later.
This is not to say that representative governance entails cavalier disregard of promises made at election but to suggest that the promises need to be interpreted in context. The context is the need for elected representatives to engage with complex technical issues and tedious details of policy coherence once in government to avoid chaos.
Those that have voted for a government which commands a parliamentary majority by expounding policies which appeal to the voters’ gut feelings have the option of defeating the government in the next election if the outcomes of following these policies turn out to be unappealing. This paradox is understood by representatives and they moderate in application promises made at election.
Governance by referenda, where policies are prescribed by the electorate, is a different matter altogether. Unforeseen consequences can be more disruptive in a referendum than in representative democracy. That is why stable democracies choose representative forms of government, and governance by referenda is shunned.
A textbook example of the disruptive nature of referendum politics is the story, reported in the New York Times on the 5th of March 1995, of the three strike sentencing referendum in California. A woman was brutally murdered by a repeat offender recently released on parole after a period in jail. In the background of emotive press reports, a referendum was held on whether to mandate a harsh prison term of 25 years to life, without any possibility of parole before 20 years, for all repeat offenders. Professionals engaged in the maintenance of law and order advised against voting for a law imposing such an inflexible mandate on the judiciary. The advice was ignored by a majority of the electorate. Soon after the referendum was passed, a young pizza thief, he was in the habit of going into restaurants eating a slice of pizza and then escaping without paying, was sentenced to a term of 25 years to life with no hope of parole before 20 years. Even those that had voted for the referendum mandating this harsh punishment were aghast. The law was eventually repealed but not before causing disruption to the criminal justice system.
The ensuing referendum on continuing British membership of the European Union is an exercise in making decisions under uncertainty. Whilst the referendum ballot provides a binary choice, whether to remain in or to exit from the EU, the voter is not faced with a binary decision. There are multi-dimensional effects of the decision. The protagonists have forecast vastly different consequences for British trade and prosperity and also for world peace. They seldom emphasise that the probabilities of potential outcomes of the vote for economics can only be assigned subjectively. In our view, even the assignment of subjective probabilities requires knowledge of the unknowable, and the best course of action is to minimise the potential for maximum harm. That is to stick to what we know and shun the temptation to take an irreversible plunge into the unknown that is also unknowable.
Britain is a trading nation where international trade counts for slightly less than a third of its GDP. Roughly half of that, 45 per cent to be precise, is trade with the EU. The EU aspires to a single market which entails companies being able to compete for government contracts across frontiers within the EU without discrimination.
Those in favour of withdrawing from EU membership discount the prospect of any adverse effect on British trade. Their argument is four-fold. Firstly, they assert that access to European markets could be swiftly negotiated without necessarily having to comply with the rules for free movement of labour within the EU and without having to follow EU directives specifying, for example, labour rights at work and environmental conditions in production. A second line of argument is that it does not matter if negotiations stall. Any adverse consequences of disruption to trade with the EU could be ameliorated through improving trade relations with countries outside the Europe. This assumption is oblivious of the fact that the leaders of some of the largest economies outside the Europe with whom the Brexit camp aspires to increase trade have advised against British departure from the EU. A third line of argument derives from the belief that hitherto untapped energies would be unleashed in the British economy freed from EU regulations. A fourth line of argument from Brexit, put forward by some in the left, is a modified version of the above. It is the EU bureaucracy which holds back the ability of a British government to determine for itself policies on selective subsidy to make the economy flourish. Some in the Brexit camp would be prepared to accept a reduction in prosperity to get back sovereignty, but leaders campaigning for leaving the EU, on the whole, do not accept the premise of a trade off between sovereignty and prosperity.
(To be continued tomorrow)