Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How Obama Ruined His Dallas Memorial Speech

By John Podhoretz
The New York Post
July 13, 2016

How do you ruin a great speech?

President Obama gave us a master class in doing just that Tuesday at the memorial service to the five Dallas police officers gunned down last week.

For 15 minutes, the president’s speech was — and this is a word I use advisedly — magnificent. It was elevated and powerful and profoundly moving.

And it was unifying, genuinely unifying, in the way the president made clear our commonalities with the police officers whose lives were ended — and our differences, in the sense that they engaged in personally perilous work dedicated to making the rest of us safe that most of us would never dream of attempting.

Most important, he defended the United States against the assertion made so frequently over the past week that the nation is crumbling:

“I’m here to say we must reject such despair. I’m here to insist that we are not as divided as we seem...I know that because I know America. I know how far we’ve come against impossible odds. I know we’ll make it because of what I’ve experienced in my own life, what I’ve seen of this country and its people as President."

“And I know it because of what we’ve seen here in Dallas — how all of you, out of great suffering, have shown us the meaning of perseverance, and character, and hope.”

I was a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, and like all those who have had the inestimable privilege to help craft a president’s words, I’m a connoisseur of the form. Despite his reputation as a stemwinder, Obama has not given an address in his seven years that any serious student would elevate into the pantheon of American oratory.

But as the president’s words flowed and deepened in Dallas, I was sure I was listening not only to the best remarks of his presidency but possibly one of the great presidential speeches of our age.

This was true even though he was making certain arguments with which I did not agree — but because his tone was so beautifully modulated and his argumentation so civil, the president himself got me to listen, pay attention, and respect the seriousness of his contentions.

And then he blew it.

He blew it by going on for almost 25 more minutes, repeating himself endlessly, and broadening his specific focus to a more general preachment about how “we” need to “open our hearts” on the subject of race.

As usual, Obama made strange use of the word “we,” because when he says “we,” he means “you,” and when he means “you,” he means people who aren’t as enlightened and thoughtful as he and his ideological compatriots are.

Worse yet, the excessive length gave rise to a few extraordinarily ill-conceived flourishes that would have been discarded from a more contained and controlled final speech.

By far the most jaw-dropping was his assertion that it’s easier for a poor kid in a struggling neighborhood to get a Glock than a book. That’s not presidential. That’s Bill Maher, or Trevor Noah.

At Gettysburg in 1863, Abraham Lincoln gave the greatest of all presidential addresses. It is little noted that Lincoln was not the keynote speaker.

The stem-winding orator Edward Everett was. He went on for two hours. No one remembers what he said. Lincoln spoke for three minutes and his words are chiseled on the American soul.

In the course of his speech in Dallas, Obama began like Lincoln and ended up like Everett. He was a national healer who became a crashing bore.


Article Link to The New York Post:

The World Is Daring China To Cross A Red Line

By Benny Avni
The New York Post
July 13, 2016

Admonishing a schoolyard bully is fine, but is it enough to make him stop abusing the other kids?

After three years of deliberations, an international-law tribunal ruled against China on Tuesday, rejecting most of its claims of control over the South China Sea in favor of the Philippines in a high-profile territorial dispute.

The ruling can be a major setback to China’s President Xi Jinping’s agenda. Or it might change little, or even escalate tensions.

Xi points to a “nine-dash line” on the map of the region that puts most of the South China Sea in China’s territory while ignoring claims of sovereignty by less powerful neighbors. This line dates to at least 1947, but has been contested by its neighbors.

Chinese fishermen and military patrols increasingly clash with locals, pushing them out of sea rocks, atolls and islands that are rich in minerals, fishery and other goodies. Beijing considers the sky above the area its own, demanding all aircraft passing through register with it.

And it builds artificial islands that function as strategically located military bases.

As the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan and others have claimed sovereignty over areas that China has confiscated in the South and East China seas, the United States — once Asia’s top naval power — has adamantly declined to take sides on territorial disputes.

Instead, Obama administration officials have urged all sides to go to international arbitration, where competing claims over territories are supposed to be resolved peacefully. And that’s what the Philippines decided to do in 2013.

Oops. China never accepted the tribunal’s authority, and is now rejecting its findings. “Our national sovereignty and our maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea will not be affected in any way by the ruling,” Xi said Tuesday, after The Hague released the tribunal’s verdict.

Oh, and the ruling was based on the UN Law of the Sea Convention, a treaty that binds China to the rules the tribunal cited in its decision. But Chinese officials have insisted that since the United States never ratified the convention, Washington should butt out.

Yet there was State Department spokesman John Kirby, lauding Tuesday’s ruling as “an important contribution to the shared goal of a peaceful resolution to disputes in the South China Sea.”

Peaceful resolution? Tuesday’s ruling could well serve as an opening salvo, while hostilities escalate.

Endless postings on Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) and on Chinese media called the ruling a meaningless “piece of paper.” Instead, they proudly displayed maps of Xi’s “nine-dash line.” Chinese planes are already flying over some of the military bases China has built illegally (according to the tribunal’s findings) near the Philippines.

Even if he wanted to, Xi will be hard-pressed to ignore the nationalistic fevers that he’s stoked since coming to power. He may even escalate his military buildup and territorial expansion.

Yes, Vietnam and others are expected to follow the Philippines and demand arbitration in The Hague. But note Manila’s extremely cautious response to yesterday’s ruling. President Rodrigo Duterte, not yet two weeks into his term, won the election on a promise of improving the economy by tightening trade with China. He needs Beijing. He’s likely to feebly declare moral victory, but not much else.

Then there’s The Hague’s tribunal. It was decisive in slapping down China’s claims of sovereignty over these islands, but was also, well, at sea about what to do next. Yes, the ruling is “binding.” But who’s going to enforce it?

Xi long ago made a decision to build up China’s military, push around its neighbors and become the region’s top dog. Turning the South China Sea into a private Chinese lake is just the first stage.

On the other side is America. We’ve long served as virtually the sole guarantor of freedom of navigation in that part of Asia. But deep cuts in US Navy budgets and our diminished physical presence, while China has expanded its military to match its economic prowess, are changing the equation. To be fair, Obama has recently ordered some added patrols and military exercises to counter China’s maneuvering, but it may be too little too late.

The Chinese-American military and economic balance, much more than the diplomatic arbitration we’ve been advocating, will decide who controls some of the world’s most important commercial maritime passages.

And if China comes out ahead in that balance, it may mean these disputes get resolved through war, no matter what The Hague says.


Article Link to The New York Post:

Pentagon Resists Obama’s New War Plan

The White House is pushing to cooperate with Putin’s forces in the fight against ISIS. But many in the U.S. military are saying: no way.


By Nancy A. Youssef
The Daily Beast
July 13, 2016

The Obama administration has increasingly warmed to a Russian proposal that allows U.S. forces to coordinate with the Kremlin in the ongoing war against ISIS in Syria. But the White House is facing major resistance to the idea from the U.S. military and those in the intelligence community who are working with local Syrian opposition forces—the very government officials who would carry out such a plan.

The pushback comes as the U.S. has reportedly sent a proposal to Russia to share information about specific targets to strike in Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday in part to discuss the plan.

Some Pentagon officials already are saying it won’t work. They have suggested that should the U.S. and Russia agree to increased coordination, they will lobby to share as little with the Russians as possible.

There are discussions in the Pentagon about narrowing the extent of the coordination and the amount of intelligence shared, a U.S. defense official explained to the Daily Beast.

The Russians, two defense officials said, could not be trusted to honor any agreement, saying they believe Moscow would eventually exploit any agreement to bolster the regime – and weaken Syria’s beleaguered rebel fighters. As one U.S.official asked: “What do we gain?”

The internal debate about how much to expand U.S. coordination with the Russians has exposed perhaps the greatest schism within the administration this year over the way ahead in Syria.

Will it help end the war – and if so – for which side? Will it lead to a weaker ISIS and al Qaeda in Syria or an emboldened Russia and Syrian President Bashar al Assad?

The U.S. officials supporting increased coordination believe that ultimately Russia wants a political solution—an agreement between Assad and the rebels. Increased coordination could induce Russia to broker such a deal. On the ground, increased coordination could reduce civilian casualties and weaken terror groups like Jabhat al Nusra, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, one administration official explained to the Daily Beast.

“The regime needs to...end the indiscriminate use of weapons, including the targeting of civilians and civilian authorities, and including medical ones. And we look to the Russians to make a greater use of the influence that we know that they have to make that happen,” State Department spokesman John Kirby explained to reporters last week.

But for others in the U.S. government, there are concrete reasons, presented in just the last few weeks, not to trust the Kremlin. Russia is believed to have attacked Pentagon-backed and trained forces in southern Syria last month, even after the U.S. reached out to the Russians to alert them about who they were striking. Russia denied striking the rebels, stationed near the Jordan border.

For others at the State Department, Russia is not a partner in Syria but the country whose police forces attacked a U.S. diplomat entering the embassy in Moscow over the weekend, leading to an expulsion and counter expulsion of diplomats.

The State Department said Russian police “attacked” the diplomats. Last month, Kerry raised the issue of how diplomats are being treated with the very Russian officials he now is discussing a military coordination plan with.

And in the nine months since Russia began its strike campaign on behalf of Assad, there have been a series of broken agreements.

In May, for example, there was an agreed ceasefire between Russia and the United States in the Syrian city of Aleppo. And yet, despite those calls to stop fighting, just over the weekend, with the help of Russian air strikes, the Syrian army claimed control of Castello Road, a key rebel route out of Aleppo.

The U.S. has been trying to get its Syrian rebel allies to separate themselves from Nusra, so far without success, because the Islamist group is among the most effective anti-Assad forces. The Russians have said that with the moderate rebels interspersed with Nusra, it's hard to bomb al Qaeda without also bombing the moderate rebels. Moscow says it needs to know where the American-backed rebels are so its forces don’t hit them by accident.

Opponents to such coordination sense a Russian trap. Two U.S. defense officials explained to the Daily Beast that they believe the Russians will use such coordination to shift the discussion about Syria away from Assad’s removal and toward weakening his opponents, like Jabhat al Nusra. Moreover, they fear that once Russia, with U.S. help, pushes back the al Qaeda affiliate, they will renege on promises to spare the U.S.-backed moderate Syrian opposition, thereby “eliminating the two greatest threats to the Assad regime,” the U.S. official explained.

“Russia is framing this offer in terms of counterterrorism and is proposing joint operations against both Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS, but of course Russia's current campaign does not actually make such distinctions. The issue on the table, therefore, is whether it’s possible for the U.S. to redirect Russia into an actual counter terrorism alliance in which Russia halts targeting of acceptable opposition groups,” Jennifer Cafarella, a Syria analyst at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, explained to The Daily Beast.

U.S. defense officials said that working with Moscow would give credibly to a far less precise Russian military air campaign, one that has by everyone’s measure has killed far more civilians in Syria than the U.S.-backed coalition.

“Why give [the Russians] legitimacy?” one defense official asked.

And perhaps most importantly to those working with local forces, they fear that any agreement could cost the U.S. credibility with local forces who are working with them.

The U.S. and Russia already communicate to ensure there are no accidents in the air over Syria and that U.S.-backed opposition forces are not struck. But there is no coordination of attacks but rather an exchange of limited information to prevent unintended strikes.

The pressure on the Pentagon to embrace increased Russian coordination has begun to creep into the public discourse. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who once flatly closed the door to increased Russian coordination, opened that door ever so slightly late last month.

“If the Russians would do the right thing in Syria, and that's an important condition, as in all cases with Russia, we're willing to work with them,” Carter told reporters at a June 30 briefing.

The U.S. has been divided for years about how to deal with Nusra, which the U.S. declared al Qaeda in December 2012. The U.S. now sees the ongoing expansion al Qaeda affiliate as dangerous.

"In Syria, as [ISIS] is losing territory in the east, its terrorist rival — Jabhat al-Nusra — is gaining ground in the west," Brett McGurk, the US special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter IS, said June 28 in written testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Kerry arrives in Moscow Thursday, in part, “to test how serious the Russians are about using their influence in a constructive way in Syria,” a second U.S. official explained.


Article Link to The Daily Beast:

Oil Drops As Investors Lock In Gains; Surprise U.S. Stockpile Build

By Keith Wallis
Reuters
July 13, 2016

Crude futures fell on Wednesday as investors locked in gains after oil prices surged nearly 5 percent in the previous session, partly on forecasts from the U.S. government and OPEC that demand would increase next year.

Oil prices were also under pressure from industry data that showed a surprise build in U.S. crude stocks, price gains in other commodities including gold and a stronger U.S. dollar which gained against a basket of currencies .DXY, analysts said.

"We are on the cusp of U.S. weekly production statistics - the market is keeping a close eye on that. There is maybe a little bit of profit taking ahead of the stats," said Ben Le Brun, market analyst at Sydney's OptionsXpress.

Brent futures LCOc1 fell 55 cents to $47.92 a barrel as of 0655 GMT after settling up $2.22, or 4.8 percent, in the previous session.

U.S. crude CLc1 dropped 46 cents to $46.34 a barrel after ending the previous session up $2.04, or 4.6 percent.

Those were the biggest daily gains since April 8.

"We do see a bit of counter-cyclical trade going on in the Asia time zone. Gold is a little higher, equity markets are strong, but not as strong previously, the dollar is up," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at Sydney's CMC Markets.

"The market is concerned about the momentum in oil prices and whether that will be maintained or not," Spooner added.

The American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday said U.S. crude inventories rose by 2.2 million barrels in the week to July 8 to 523.1 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations for a decrease of 3 million barrels.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA) will release official weekly inventory data later on Wednesday.

"Yesterday's API data might be making traders a bit nervous ahead of official U.S. stocks data today," Spooner added.

While the EIA on Tuesday cut its U.S. and world oil demand growth forecast for this year, it increased its demand growth estimates for 2017.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries also said demand for the producer group's oil in 2017 would be higher than its current production.

Credit Suisse raised its 2016 oil price forecasts on Wednesday. The bank forecast WTI would average $43.59 per barrel this year versus $36.91 in its earlier forecast, and $55.00 for 2017, versus $52.88 earlier.

Brent will average $44.53 a barrel this year, up from $37.77, and average $56.25 in 2017, up from $54.25 earlier.

Oil markets are also eyeing the impact of an international court ruling on Tuesday that China has no historic title over the waters of the South China Sea potentially putting it in conflict with other countries in the region which have rival claims.


Article Link to Reuters:

Oil Drops As Investors Lock In Gains; Surprise U.S. Stockpile Build

Adjusting The Special Relationship After Brexit

By Therese Raphael
The Bloomberg View
July 13, 2016

When Theresa May takes over as U.K. prime minister on Wednesday, her first job will be to steer the British economy past the shock of Brexit. But almost as important is the largest rewiring of British foreign policy since World War II -- including its relationship with its closest ally and former colony.

May becomes the 12th head of government since Winston Churchill left office in 1955. Britain's relationship with the U.S. has been steady and close over those years, even when policies and personalities diverged (think of Harold Wilson's refusal to send troops to Vietnam to support President Lyndon Johnson).

Officially, the relationship is unchanged. Following the U.K.'s vote on June 23 to leave the European Union, House Speaker Paul Ryan noted: “Our friends in the United Kingdom are our indispensable ally, and this is a very special relationship, and that relationship is going to continue no matter what. Period, end of story.”

The reality is more awkward. Despite the hope of some Brexiters that severed cross-Channel bonds will lead to strengthened trans-Atlantic ones, May will find the U.K. and U.S. divided by more than a common language. The most immediate reminder of that was last week's release of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war.

In a now-famous letter to George W. Bush written in July 2002, Tony Blair wrote, "I will be with you, whatever." That would strike most Americans as a natural affirmation of friendship from a close ally following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 on New York and Washington.

To Britons, though, it was seen as a blank check, an unforgivable betrayal of the country's interests. Only 8 percent of his countrymen think Blair did nothing wrong in Iraq; 53 percent say they can never forgive him. It's hard to imagine a British prime minister ever uttering words like that again. While the Chilcot report was taken by many here as a guilty verdict on Tony Blair's leadership and decision to go to war in Iraq, it was actually much broader than that. It was an indictment of the entire premise of Britain's postwar foreign policy that has been grounded on protecting interests by projecting influence.

Speaking in a recent podcast, Glen Rangwala, a lecturer at Cambridge and expert on the Middle East, commented that Iraq reflected "a collective conceit on the part of politicians in the U.K., not just Mr. Blair but others too, that by having a role, by staying closely involved, by offering support at various stages, British influence would be increased." Chilcot asks, to what end?

Some would argue -- Tony Blair among them -- that personal relationships were essential to influence and influence yielded concessions that Britain wanted. In 2002, the U.S. sought a coalition and backing for U.N. Resolution 1441 on the urging of Downing Street. That gave Iraq another chance to comply with arms inspections and delayed the start of war. Chilcot acknowledges that.

But the U.S. course to war was set; the route could be altered but the destination would not be. As former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told the Munich security conference in February 2002, "The mission must determine the coalition; the coalition must not determine the mission."

The charge that foreign policy in Britain has lost its sense of purpose is one that many Brexiters agreed with. A large share of the British public just rejected a seat at the table in Europe. A sizable segment of this vote cares little about influence and simply wants the freedom to pursue anti-immigrant, pro-welfare policies that depend little on relationship skills or the backdoor channels that the mandarins of Britain's foreign and intelligence services deploy so skillfully. This camp won't cheer May's missives to Washington; they want her focused at home.

Others in the Brexit camp, however, hoped that by leaving Europe, Britain would tie itself more closely to the U.S. They will want to show that leaving Europe has made Britain more relevant in the world. That idea has periodically cropped up over the years and never fails to get an eye-roll from U.S. officials.

When President Barack Obama warned before the referendum that Britain would have to go to the “back of the queue” for trade deals, he was acknowledging the reality that Britain's value to the U.S. derived in part from its seat at the bigger EU table. As Raymond Seitz, U.S. ambassador to the U.K. from 1991 to 1994, wrote in his memoirs back in 1998:

"Some hold up the American connection – a revivified ‘special relationship’ – as a viable alternative to full-blooded Europeanness. But this is a flimsy proposition, unlikely to gain much traction except with the graspers of straws. When push comes to shove, America has a greater interest in European unity than in British sovereignty."


May will have a hard time pleasing both visions of Britain's future in the world, and she will find the U.S. distracted by its own issues. That isn't to say that the relationship that May and her successors forge will no longer be, in that hackneyed phrase, special. It hardly bears repeating that the two countries have a history, share values and a common perception of threats. Or that there are economic interests at stake: Over a fifth of the foreign assets of American companies are in the U.K., while British corporations created over a million jobs in the U.S., its largest export destination.

The City of London will hold on to much of its role as a financial center after Brexit. American banks will be there. Decades-long institutional links, particularly within British and American intelligence and military communities, will prove useful. Like an old couple that has parted ways but remain friends, their history together will be respected.

Who knows, a May-Clinton friendship could even look a little like other great partnerships in the Anglo-American pantheon beginning with Churchill-Roosevelt. At least on the surface. Beneath, it is likely to feature more of that famous British reserve than in Blair's day.


Article Link to The Bloomberg View:

What's Next For Bernie?

Despite his forceful endorsement of Hillary Clinton, Sanders' role going forward remains unclear.


By Gabriel Debenedetti
Politico
July 13, 2016

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — A few points of agreement have already been reached between the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders camps as they look toward the general election.

The Vermont senator has locked down a major speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention later this month, according to people involved with the negotiations. And Clinton agreed to tack toward Sanders on her health care and education proposals last week.

But beyond that, Sanders’ next steps — and the exact nature of the role he’ll play in the general election — remain largely unanswered even after extensive negotiations in recent weeks.

One thing is certain: On Tuesday, at his joint rally with Clinton, he offered a forceful endorsement that surprised some of his most die-hard supporters — leaving some in tears on the Portsmouth High School gym bleachers.

Many Democrats on both sides of the Clinton-Sanders divide expected Tuesday’s speeches from the candidates and their surrogates — environmentalist Bill McKibben and activist Jim Dean for Sanders, Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen for Clinton — to focus on the importance of unifying the party against Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee. But, speaking before Clinton in the late morning, Sanders went significantly further, jabbing at the real estate developer while also embracing Clinton.

Twenty-two weeks to the day after trouncing Clinton by 22 points in this influential primary and battleground state, Sanders effectively took a version of his familiar stump speech and — in the policy sections where he excoriated Clinton as recently as weeks ago — inserted repeated instances of Clinton praise.

At times, it sounded like he was declaring victory by noting how close Clinton now stands to his positions: on raising the minimum wage, on education, on health care, on income inequality.

“Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process, and I congratulate her for that,” he said, bringing the crowd to its feet with the exception of a few stunned pockets of #BernieorBust true believers. “She will be the Democratic nominee for president, and I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States.”

“It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues. That’s what this campaign has been about, that’s what democracy is about,” he later added, pointing to the results of the Democratic platform negotiations as evidence of their unification. “Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency. And I am going to do everything I can to make that happen.”

Top Clinton aides watching the speech live thought Sanders, unaccustomed to publicly praising his rival, looked awkward and pained standing next to Clinton — who nodded assiduously throughout his roughly half-hour talk — even when they hugged between speeches. But the speech, punctuated by grimaces among staffers in both camps, struck enough of the right notes to make it incontrovertibly clear to liberals and establishment Democrats alike that Sanders is standing squarely behind Clinton, however long it took him to get there.

“It was a long approach but a relatively smooth landing,” said David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s longtime lead strategist. “He did what was needed, making the case without being disingenuous, and making it clear that he is fully invested.”

“I don’t think in the past I’ve ever seen a presidential nominee being so willing to embrace the other person and figure out how to work together to get policy enacted,” added Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett. “So he’s a great advocate who’s brought out on the trail to make sure people understand how Hillary Clinton’s policies are good on those issues, and why it’s so important that she beat Donald Trump. I mean, I was impressed so much of his message was pro-Hillary — what she brought to the table — as well as all the drawbacks of a Trump presidency.”

The most immediate question for Sanders’ aides is the uncertainty surrounding the timing of his convention speech — Monday or Tuesday of convention week — leaving them looking at precedents of previous runner-up convention appearances (Clinton spoke on Tuesday eight years ago).

The campaigns are also negotiating which of Sanders’ surrogates will get speaking roles, a process that has already caused some tension because of the anger that animated the closing months of the primary contest. Accordingly, some of Sanders’ most prominent supporters — like former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, a Clinton backer-turned-harsh critic — are controversial figures within the former secretary of state’s political orbit.

To officials and operatives close to Clinton, the prospect of Sanders joining Clinton’s campaign as a prominent surrogate is an attractive one, so they’ve been willing to cave to his wishes more than even some of Clinton’s top backers expected. But concessions on health care and education policy are worth it, they figure, given Sanders’ appeal with two demographic groups with which Clinton struggled to connect in contest after contest during the primary season: young people and working-class white men.

Eyeing polls that show Sanders backers widely supporting Clinton in a general election contest, their teams are largely looking past the immediate bitter reactions on Tuesday, when some New Hampshire supporters in the crowd pledged to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein and booed Clinton, echoing an angry chorus online that accused Sanders of being a sellout. Leading Democrats aligned with Clinton see their task now as determining exactly how Sanders, who on Tuesday pledged to travel to “every corner of this country” for Clinton, will make the pro-Clinton pitch to his core constituencies.

“What he says at the convention will be even more important [than Tuesday’s speech], as he will have a much larger audience,” said Axelrod. “But, clearly, he is in position to be a strong voice against Donald Trump, particularly on economic issues, where Trump is hoping to make inroads among white, working-class Democrats.”

The Clinton campaign doesn’t expect Sanders to hit the ground running as a high-profile surrogate hosting his own events for her anytime soon. And with polls showing Sanders voters flocking to her even faster than her supporters backed Obama in 2008, there’s little need for him to make a hard sell to his coalition.

But as an important validator of her progressive credentials and a candidate with proven strength among younger voters, Sanders serves as a critical asset.

More than one month after clinching the nomination, Clinton is still laboring to persuade the youngest group of voters to trust her: A University of Chicago/Associated Press-NORC survey released on Tuesday showed that only about one-quarter of young white voters and roughly half of young Hispanic voters have a positive opinion of her.

Yet the people around Sanders remain divided over what shape his role should take, as many have long expected him to play the part of chief Trump attack dog and down-ballot cheerleader rather than traditional pro-Clinton surrogate. And since the senator himself has been singularly focused on winning concessions from Clinton on the platform in recent weeks, they have had little guidance on what he wants to do.

To some of his advisers, however, his likely role is obvious: campus ambassador, particularly in the battleground states where he won the primary.

Such an arrangement, which would let him speak to his most dedicated backers, is far from finalized, but it’s gaining support among Clinton’s close allies.

“There’s a strong constituency in a number of states that are going to be battleground states, like New Hampshire. Places like New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Minnesota,” said Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux, who is working closely with Clinton’s campaign in that state. “Places where he did really well, I’m sure, will be some of the places he goes to help Hillary’s campaign.”


Article Link to Politico:

What's Next For Bernie?

Martin Schulz’s Presidential Agonies

Apart from Jean-Claude Juncker, hardly anyone else wants the Parliament chief to stay on in 2017.


By Maia de La Baume
Politico EU
July 13, 2016

What should have been relatively good news for Martin Schulz — an endorsement of sorts from Jean-Claude Juncker, who said the Parliament president should stick around for another term in the interest of European “stability” — has turned into another headache for the ambitious German as he plots his political future.

The statement from Juncker about his “friend” Schulz surprised and angered many in the European Parliament, who have been expecting the assembly’s president to step aside in January 2017. Doing so would fulfill the terms of a power-sharing deal between the Parliament’s two main political groups that Schulz agreed to when he began his current term as president in 2014.

But it would also force Schulz from a level of political prominence he has worked hard to cultivate. His post-Parliament president career choices, apart from entertaining potential offers from lecture agents, think tanks and investment banks, are fairly limited: to step down from the presidency and return to being an MEP, or try to find a role in German domestic politics.

The German option has proven challenging. The one attractive, immediate opening was to run as the Social Democrats’ (SPD) nominee for the chancellorship in Germany’s general elections in fall of 2017. Until a few months ago that’s a job no one envied the natural candidate for, current SPD head Sigmar Gabriel, given that polls suggest another defeat against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU.

The polls are slightly better now for the SPD, and as Die Welt reported Monday, suddenly Gabriel seems more interested in running himself. That means Schulz would have to try to push aside someone he calls a “friend,” and possibly run against other viable contenders.

That’s left Schulz to focus on keeping the Parliament presidency. He’s been working behind the scenes for months to convince colleagues that he should stay on in the role, arguing that it is important not to let all three EU presidencies be held by center-right politicians (European Council President Donald Tusk is, like Juncker, a member of the European People’s Party).

The Juncker comment, in a rollicking joint interview the two politicians gave to German magazine Spiegel last week, was the first real public acknowledgement of Schulz’s campaign to stay on, and was pitched as part of a need to show solidarity and preserve stability among EU leaders in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Rather than solidify Schulz’s ambition to stay on past his presidential sell-by date, the backing from Juncker may have helped fuel more opposition to him — even among the audience it was clearly intended to influence, the Commission chief’s own allies in the assembly’s center-right European People’s Party bloc. Instead of opening the door for Schulz to keep the post, it may have closed it further.

Only a few days before the Spiegel interview, Germans in the EPP said they would insist on the group taking over the Parliament presidency. The issue was the subject of a discussion among leading members of the EPP from several countries at a group meeting in Strasbourg on Wednesday. After the Juncker comment was made public on Friday, EPP politicians reacted angrily and dug in further. They not only said they would hold Schulz to his word, they also criticized Juncker, one of their own, for overstepping his role as Commission president.

“What is important to us is to replace Schulz,” said Gunnar Hökmark, a prominent Swedish member of the EPP, the largest political group in the European Parliament. “This has to do with democracy.”

Added Alain Lamassoure, leader of the French delegation of the EPP and a potential contender to replace Schulz, “It is not the president of the Commission who elects the president of the Parliament. It is the Parliament who elects the president of the Commission.”

The EPP’s leader in the Parliament, Manfred Weber, told German paper Bild am Sonntag that while he appreciated Juncker’s “advice,” the party expected to stick to the agreement to take over the presidency in 2017. He also got in a little dig at Juncker, too. “It is for the European Parliament to elect its president as well as the Commission president though, not the other way around,” Weber said.

An EPP source said Juncker’s comments had prompted talk among some MEPs about collecting signatures for a motion of no confidence in Juncker if the Commission president “continues sticking out his neck” for Schulz.

“They want to send out a signal, saying ‘Juncker, don’t do this, this is not very clever, otherwise we will withdraw support from you,'” the EPP source said. “There’s a lot of resentment about his comments. For us, they are too close.”

"Many in the assembly acknowledge that Schulz has helped boost the image of the Parliament as a political force."

Lamassoure said the move toward a censure motion was only a “threat” and wouldn’t go further. “It only reflects the reaction of irritation against that Spiegel joint interview.”

Others like Hökmark said Juncker should avoid having “a special relation” with Schulz on the question of leadership of the assembly.

“It is important to defend the integrity of the Commission and of the Parliament,” Hökmark said.

Another EPP source warned that if Schulz doesn’t stand behind the deal, “whatever other solution is found, it would have unpredictable consequences on the future not only of the Parliament in its functioning, but also on the European Commission itself, because it is supported by a political majority that would blow up.”

Schulz’s office did not respond to a request for comment about his plans for 2017 and beyond. But in recent months he has worked hard behind the scenes courting key MEPs in a bid to keep the Parliament presidency he has held since 2012. Many in the assembly acknowledge that during that time Schulz has helped boost the image of the Parliament as a political force.

But there is no shortage of contenders to replace him as president and — apart from members of his own Socialists & Democrats party, and apparently Juncker — little support for letting him stay in the post. Leaders of the other main political groups in the assembly, including the EPP and the Greens, oppose letting him have a third term, as do some key members of the centrist liberal bloc.

The selection process for the January 2017 election is likely to start in the fall. Under their power-sharing deal, the EPP and S&D blocs have agreed to support each other’s candidate for a two-and-a-half-year term.

The names of the potential EPP contenders for the presidency, including Antonio Tajani, Lamassoure and Mairead McGuinness, have been circulating in Parliament corridors for months, though apart from Lamassoure, all are coy about their efforts so far.

Herbert Reul and Angelika Niebler, two German EPP members, said their group would submit a name for a new EPP president in the fall. “Schulz committed himself to stay for only half of the legislature, so he would break his word if he didn’t do so,” Reul said.

Tajani said he did not want to comment on Juncker’s endorsement of Schulz because of “institutional correctness.”


Article Link to Politico EU:

The Democratic Platform’s Sharp Left Turn

This isn’t Bill Clinton’s party anymore. It isn’t even Barack Obama’s.


By William A. Galston
The Wall Street Journal
July 13, 2016

In parliamentary systems, party platforms are blueprints for governance. In the U.S., they reflect the preferences of each party’s base—the activists and interest groups to which the party must pay attention. Changes in party platforms from one election to the next reveal shifts in thinking and—even more—the balance of power within the base as new groups surge and established forces give way.

That is why the 2016 Democratic platform is so significant. The platform committee hasn’t made public the text that will be taken to the Democratic convention in less than two weeks. But at this stage, based on the July 1 draft and 82 amendments to its text adopted by the end of the final platform committee meeting in Orlando, Fla., we know with near-certainty what the platform will say—and what it means.

The party that Hillary Clinton will lead into battle this fall is not Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party. In important respects it is not even Barack Obama’s Democratic Party. It is a party animated by the frustrations of the Obama years and reshaped by waves of economic and social activism.

Not surprisingly, the document endorses a range of Hillary Clinton’s campaign proposals, including a massive infrastructure-investment program, new incentives for small business, expanded profit-sharing to increase workers’ earnings, a tax on high-frequency financial transactions, paid family and medical leave, an enhanced earned-income tax credit for young workers without children, access to computer-science education for all K-12 students, and measures to make college education more affordable.

Neither is it surprising that the draft incorporates some of Bernie Sanders’s key proposals—most notably, a $15 per hour minimum wage—and that it doesn’t take sides on issues that divided the party, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and a broad tax on financial transactions, where neither side would give way.

In other respects, however, the draft is truly remarkable—for example, its near-silence on economic growth. The uninformed reader would not learn that the pace of recovery from the Great Recession has been anemic by postwar standards, or that productivity gains have slowed to a crawl over the past five years, or that firms have been reluctant to invest in new productive capacity. Rather, the platform draft’s core narrative is inequality, the injustice that inequality entails, and the need to rectify it through redistribution.

In her speech announcing her candidacy last year, Mrs. Clinton identified government reform as one of the four “fights” she would wage on behalf of the American people. She said that government “is never going to have all the answers—but it has to be smarter, simpler, more efficient, and a better partner. That means access to advanced technology so government agencies can more effectively serve their customers, the American people.” She added: “We need expertise and innovation from the private sector to help cut waste and streamline services.”

Four years ago, the Democratic platform contained a detailed section on “21st Century Government,” including a discussion of cost-effective regulatory reform, but this section finds no parallel—indeed, barely an echo—in the 2016 draft. One would never guess that Americans’ trust in the federal government is scraping bottom and that confidence-building measures are desperately needed.

Instead, this year’s platform will be suffused with proposals to expand the government’s reach and cost—and with confidence that today’s government is up to the job. As long as Americans don’t regard their national institutions as effective instruments of public purpose, many of these proposals—not all—will be a hard sell.

Another notable feature of the 2016 draft is its intensified social liberalism. The 2012 platform declared that the death penalty must not be “arbitrary”; this year, the platform will demand—for the first time ever—the death penalty’s abolition. The 2012 platform called for the reasonable regulation of guns but pledged to preserve “Americans’ Second Amendment Right to own and bear firearms.” There is no reference to the Second Amendment this time.

Calling for “constitutionally sound, evidence-based partnerships” with faith-based institutions, the 2012 platform declared that “there is no conflict between supporting faith-based institutions and respecting our Constitution.” Such language appears nowhere in the 2016 draft. But the document does call for a constitutional amendment that would make it possible to overturn decades of Supreme Court decisions on campaign finance.

The 2012 platform contained a handful of muted references to racial issues; this year’s draft places them in the foreground. The document pledges the Democratic Party to promote racial justice as well as environmental and climate justice, to advocate for criminal-justice reform, and to push for a “societal transformation” to make it clear that “black lives matter and there is no place for racism in our country.”

In this document, Hillary Clinton has made her peace with the Democratic Party as she found it in this tumultuous political year. Whether she would be able to lead a badly divided country on this basis—or whether she would choose to do so—is another matter.


Article Link to the Wall Street Journal:

No Balance: Oil Markets Still Oversupplied, Now Growth Is Stuttering

By Henning Gloystein
Reuters
July 13, 2016

Oil industry hopes that markets are about return to balance, ending a global glut that pulled down prices by over 70 percent between 2014 and early 2016, might be abruptly dashed.

Despite recent disruptions and output cuts, there is mounting evidence that plentiful supplies and brimming inventories will delay a much-quoted rebalancing of oil markets.

"The market needs to stop worrying about this balance and concentrate on the now," said Matt Stanley, a fuel broker at Freight Investor Services in Dubai.

"We rallied on the back of supply outages, wildfires and seemingly increased demand. Well, Shell have lifted force majeure at (Nigeria's) Bonny ... the wildfires are out and Canada is close to full production, and (U.S.) gasoline demand is at 15-month lows," he added.

Not just are supplies improving, now demand may be waning.

With the United States and Europe stagnating, Asia has been the main pillar of oil demand growth. But that too is now stuttering, with tanker flows into the region down for four straight months, Thomson Reuters Eikon data shows.

One indicator of a continuing glut is the shape of the forward crude oil futures curve <0>, which has been in contango for much of this year, meaning that oil for sale at a later date is more expensive than that for immediate delivery.

This makes it attractive for traders to store oil for sale later and is seen as a key sign of oversupply.

In fact, so much oil is now stored that the world is running out of space, forcing traders to charter supertankers in which to keep unsold fuel.

There is so much oil in storage that it could take well into 2018 for the glut to clear.

"There are still excess stocks on the market – hundreds of millions of barrels of surplus oil. It will take a long time to reduce this inventory overhang," Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told a German newspaper.

While headline figures such as Chinese car sales and gross domestic growth (GDP) remain strong, both have slumped most of this year. China's new passenger vehicle sales, while still huge at over 2 million per month, have fallen by a quarter since reaching their December peak.

Counting on a continuing boom, China's oil refiners are producing so much fuel that even its huge domestic market can't cope, resulting in a surge of Chinese fuel exports into an already glutted Asian market.

Furthermore, China's program to build up strategic petroleum reserves (SPR), a strong source of crude demand over the past years, may slow sharply or even halt soon, as its available storage facilities are full or close to capacity.

As a result, U.S. bank JPMorgan expects a "15 percent month-on-month decline in China's crude imports in September."

The impact on oil consumption of Britain's vote to leave the European Union is likely to delay the supply/demand rebalancing further, probably by six months.

India Not The New China


The U.S. Energy Department cut its forecast for oil demand growth in 2016, and increased its demand growth forecast for 2017, according to a monthly outlook issued on Tuesday.

U.S. oil demand is expected to grow 160,000 barrels per day in 2016, compared with previous expectations for 220,000 bpd, according to the department. Demand will grow 120,000 bpd in 2017, compared with 60,000 bpd previously.

"It doesn't look as though we'll put much of a dent in global (oil) inventories until the second half of 2017," said Tim Evans, energy futures specialist at Citigroup in New York.

"The market is making considerable progress relative to the surplus of the past two years, but it's going to take more time to bring inventories back down to more normal levels," he added.

Many in the oil industry hope India will pick up the baton from China and act as the global driver for oil demand growth.

Yet such hopes are premature as India remains, for the time being, too poor to get anywhere near China's fuel consumption.

While its demand may now be growing faster than China's, its outright consumption remains far lower, as seen in vehicle sales.

India sells some 16 million motor bikes per year, similar to China. Yet in China, some 2 million new passenger vehicles hit the road every single month (25 million in 2015), up from around one million just five years ago.

In India, by contrast, car sales have stagnated between 200,000 and 300,000 per month for years, and never recovered from their historic peak of just over 300,000 reached in 2011.

Meanwhile, Asia's two most developed major economies, Japan and South Korea, are grappling with a steady and likely terminal decline in oil demand.

Some pin their hopes on Southeast Asia, where large emerging markets such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia have huge potential. But like India, the region still lags China in terms of development for it to act as a substitute.

In short, the sort of fuel demand growth seen in Asia over the past decade may be a thing of the past.

While few expect the region's demand to fall outright, many say the oil industry needs to adjust to a future of lower Asian growth just like the coal and steel industry has had to.

Again, the automobile sector provides a clue. "Car sales in Asia, including in China, are falling amid economic downturn," Tae-nyen Kim, executive managing director of Korea Automobile Association, told Reuters.


Article Link to Reuters:

Wednesday, July 13, Morning Global Market Roundup: Asian Shares Near 2016 Highs As Risk Appetite Improves

By Shinichi Saoshiro and Hideyuki Sano
Reuters
July 13, 2016

Asian shares came within reach of their 2016 highs on Wednesday as prospects of solid U.S. growth and accommodative economic policy in major markets whet investors' risk appetite damaged by uncertainty from Brexit.

Spreadbetters expected European shares to take a breather following days of gains, forecasting a slightly lower open for Britain's FTSE .FTSE, Germany's DAX .GDAXI and France's CAC .FCHI. U.S. stock futures ESc1 dipped 0.1 percent.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose as much as 0.4 percent to 427.83, just below its year-to-date high of 428.22 hit on April 21.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 gained 1.1 percent.

Australian stocks added 0.5 percent and South Korea's Kospi .KS11 rose 0.6 percent. New Zealand shares .NZ50 inched down 0.1 percent but were near a record high struck Tuesday. Shanghai .SSEC advanced 0.4 percent.

"A while ago, everything looked so uncertain on Brexit. But now that the UK looks set to have a new prime minister ... that is soothing investor sentiment," said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management.

Britain's interior minister Theresa May is set to take over as prime minister on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, Philippine shares .PSI reached a more than 1-year high and Vietnam .VNI scaled an 8-year peak.

In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered a new round of fiscal stimulus spending, as expected, after an election victory on Sunday.

Abe's meeting on Tuesday with former U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, a proponent of "helicopter money" policies - printing money and directly handing it to the private sector to stimulate the economy - fueled speculation that some of Abe's stimulus plan could be funded by the Bank of Japan's easing.

Such expectations pushed down the yen 4 percent over the last two days. The yen last traded at 104.22 yen to the dollar JPY=.

Stimulus Awaited


The Bank of England makes its policy announcement on Thursday, with some players expecting a rate cut.

The European Central Bank is also widely expected to take a dovish stance when it holds its policy review a week later.

"After being faced with the prospect of a major slowdown in global activity in the wake of the Brexit vote, governments and central banks worldwide are now expected to do their utmost to reassure markets and provide stimulus," wrote Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG in Melbourne.

"This has led to an incredible rally in equities and industrial commodities. Of course, should those expectations fail to eventuate they could stop the rally short. The greatest unknown for markets is what will happen in mainland Europe."

The pound GBP=D4 traded at $1.3308 after surging almost two percent on Tuesday, pulling away from a 31-year low of $1.2798 struck late in June, as investors bought back the currency on May's appointment as prime minister.

The euro was little changed at $1.1066 EUR=.

In commodities, oil prices dropped after industry group American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a surprise build of 2.2 million barrels in U.S. crude stockpiles last week. [O/R]

Brent crude futures LCOc1 fell 1.2 percent to $47.90 after surging roughly 5 percent on Tuesday on broad improvement in risk sentiment.

Zinc CMZN3 touched a 13-month high of $2,210 a tonne and nickel climbed to a 10-month peak of $10,670 a tonne CMNI3. Aluminum and copper have also gained. [MET/L]


Article Link to Reuters:

German Leaders Demand Brexit Clarity From New British PM

By Elizabeth Piper, Kylie MacLellan, and William James
Reuters
July 13, 2016

German leaders stepped up the pressure on Britain's incoming prime minister Theresa May on Tuesday by demanding she swiftly spell out when she will launch divorce proceedings with the European Union.

"The task of the new prime minister ... will be to get clarity on the question of what kind of relationship Britain wants to build with the European Union," Chancellor Angela Merkel told a news conference.

Her finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said clarity was needed quickly to limit uncertainty after Britain's shock choice for 'Brexit', which has rocked the 28-nation bloc and thrown decades of European integration into reverse.

May, 59, will on Wednesday replace David Cameron, who is resigning after Britons rejected his advice and voted on June 23 to quit the EU. On arriving and departing from Cameron's last cabinet meeting, she waved a little awkwardly from the doorstep of 10 Downing Street, shortly to become her home.

She will face the enormous task of disentangling Britain from a forest of EU laws, accumulated over more than four decades, and negotiating new trade terms while limiting potential damage to the economy.

The pound was up 1.2 percent against the dollar at around $1.3150, boosted by the appointment of a new prime minister weeks earlier than expected after May's main rival dropped out.

But it remains more than 12 percent below the $1.50 it touched on the night of the June 23 referendum, reflecting concerns that Brexit will hit trade, investment and growth.

The German leaders spoke after May's ally Chris Grayling appeared to dampen any hopes among Britain's EU partners that her rapid ascent might accelerate the process of moving ahead with the split and resolving the uncertainty hanging over the 28-nation bloc.

Grayling, the Leader of the House of Commons, said there was no hurry to invoke Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, which will formally launch the process of separation and start the clock ticking on a two-year countdown to Britain's actual departure.

"I think Article 50 should be triggered when we're ready. The most important thing right now is we do what's in our national interest," Grayling told Sky News.

"We get ourselves ready for the negotiation, we decide what kind of relationship we want to negotiate, and then we move ahead and trigger Article 50. We'll do it right, we'll do it in a proper way, we'll do it when we're ready."

Recession Warnings

Cameron and a host of ministers, policymakers and think-tanks had warned Britons before the referendum that going it alone would plunge the economy into a self-inflicted recession by cutting it off from the world's biggest free-trade bloc.

They ignored him, delivering a surprise outcome that reflected anti-establishment sentiment and deep disenchantment with an EU that the Leave campaign portrayed as bureaucratic, undemocratic and mired in permanent crises.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said on Tuesday that the expected economic hit from Brexit could prompt the central bank to provide more stimulus. It is due to announce on Thursday whether it will cut its key interest rate, which has remained at 0.5 percent for more than seven years, or take other action.

The chief investment officer of BlackRock, the world's biggest asset manager, predicted Britain would fall into recession in the coming year.

"Recession is now our base case," Richard Turnill said. "There's likely to be a significant reduction of investment in the UK."

New Iron Lady?

May, who had favored a vote to stay in the EU, was left as the last woman standing after three leading rivals from the referendum's winning Leave campaign self-destructed in the course of a short-lived leadership race.

Her last rival, Andrea Leadsom, dropped out on Monday, removing the need for a nine-week contest to decide who would become leader of the ruling Conservative Party and prime minister.

May will become Britain's second woman prime minister after Margaret Thatcher. One veteran of Thatcher's cabinet described her last week as a "bloody difficult woman", a comment that may have helped her by implying comparison with the "Iron Lady".

She has served for the past six years as interior minister, regarded as one of the toughest jobs in government, and cultivated a reputation as a tough and competent pragmatist. She has already been likened to Germany's Merkel for her cautious, low-key style.

Apart from the task of leading Brexit, May must try to unite a fractured party and a nation in which many, on the evidence of the referendum, feel angry with the political elite and left behind by the forces of globalization and economic change.

Among her first acts will be to name a new cabinet which will need to find space for some of those who campaigned successfully on the opposite side of the referendum.

That could mean significant roles for Grayling and former Defence Secretary Liam Fox, two Leave advocates who threw their support behind her leadership bid.

Both are seen as candidates to head the Brexit ministry she has promised to create to oversee divorce negotiations with the EU, while Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Sajid Javid are tipped as contenders to replace George Osborne as finance minister.

May has adopted the mantra "Brexit means Brexit", declaring on Monday there could be no second referendum and no attempt to rejoin the EU by the back door. "As prime minister, I will make sure that we leave the European Union," she said.

She also made a pitch for the political center ground, calling for "a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few".

Cameron, 49, is leaving the top job after six years during which his government engineered a return to growth after the financial crisis, at the price of deep and painful budget cuts.

Having lost his gamble on the referendum outcome, he departs just over a year after leading his party to an outright election victory, a result that freed him from the burden of governing in coalition and should have kept him in power until 2020.

TV footage showed a large blue removal fan arriving at Downing Street.

Cameron's spokeswoman said May and Osborne were among those who praised him at his last cabinet meeting for guiding the country to "a better place", as the other ministers banged on the table in appreciation.


Article Link to Reuters:

Clinton Extends Lead Over Trump To 13 Points: Reuters/Ipsos

By Chris Kahn
Reuters
July 13, 2016

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton extended her lead over Republican rival Donald Trump to 13 percentage points in a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Tuesday, up from 10 points at the end of last week.

The July 8-12 poll showed 46 percent of likely voters supported Clinton, the former secretary of state, while 33 percent supported Trump, a celebrity real estate developer. Another 21 percent did not support either candidate.

That compared with 45 percent who supported Clinton and 35 percent who supported Trump in the five days to July 8.

Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has mostly led in the national online poll this year. The last time Trump came close to Clinton's popularity was in early May, when his last two rivals for the Republican nomination dropped out of the race and party leaders started to line up behind his campaign.

Trump, who is expected to become the official Republican nominee at the party's convention next week, has since lost ground in the poll as he struggled to refocus his campaign from the Republican nominating contests to the Nov. 8 general election.

Over the past several weeks, Trump has faced criticism for his past business dealings and has quarreled with Republican leaders over his rejection of international trade agreements and his promises to crack down on immigration.

Clinton, meanwhile, has been dogged by criticisms of how she handled classified information as secretary of state.

James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said last week that Clinton and her staff were "extremely careless" with sensitive information but recommended that the government not seek criminal charges against her.

Still, Americans have become increasingly positive about Clinton this month, with half of likely voters now saying they have a favorable view of her, according to the poll, up from 46 percent on July 1.

Some 60 percent of likely voters have an unfavorable view of Trump, compared with 58 percent on July 1.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll surveyed 1,146 likely voters across the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii. It has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 3 percentage points.


Article Link to Reuters:

Clinton Extends Lead Over Trump To 13 Points: Reuters/Ipsos

In First, U.S. Judge Throws Out Cell Phone 'Stingray' Evidence

By Nate Raymond
Reuters
July 13, 2016

For the first time, a federal judge has suppressed evidence obtained without a warrant by U.S. law enforcement using a stingray, a surveillance device that can trick suspects' cell phones into revealing their locations.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan on Tuesday ruled that defendant Raymond Lambis' rights were violated when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration used such a device without a warrant to find his Washington Heights apartment.

The DEA had used a stingray to identify Lambis' apartment as the most likely location of a cell phone identified during a drug-trafficking probe. Pauley said doing so constituted an unreasonable search.

"Absent a search warrant, the government may not turn a citizen's cell phone into a tracking device," Pauley wrote.

The ruling marked the first time a federal judge had suppressed evidence obtained using a stingray, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which like other privacy advocacy groups has criticized law enforcement's use of such devices.

"This opinion strongly reinforces the strength of our constitutional privacy rights in the digital age," ACLU attorney Nathan Freed Wessler said in a statement.

It was unclear whether prosecutors would seek to appeal. A spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office was prosecuting the case, declined to comment.

Stingrays, also known as "cell site simulators," mimic cell phone towers in order to force cell phones in the area to transmit "pings" back to the devices, enabling law enforcement to track a suspect's phone and pinpoint its location.

Critics of the technology call it invasive and say it has been regularly used in secret to catch suspect in violation of their rights under the U.S. Constitution.

The ACLU has counted 66 agencies in 24 states and the District of Columbia that own stingrays but said that figure underrepresents the actual number of devices in use given what it called secrecy surrounding their purchases.

A Maryland appeals court in March became what the ACLU said was the first state appellate court to order evidence obtained using a stingray suppressed. Pauley's decision was the first at the federal level.

The U.S. Justice Department in September changed its internal policies and required government agents to obtain a warrant before using a cell site simulator.

Bernard Seidler, Lambis' lawyer, noted that occurred a week after his client was charged. He said it was unclear if the drug case against Lambis would now be dismissed.


Article Link to Reuters:

Keeping Calm In The South China Sea

By Editorial Board
The Bloomberg View
July 13, 2016

China was widely expected to reject a ruling against its maritime claims in the South China Sea, and it didn’t disappoint. Declaring Tuesday’s 479-page decision “null and void,” China said it “neither accepts nor recognizes it.”

More important than what China says, however -- and Tuesday’s statement is more measured than last week’s, when Chinese leaders denounced the opinion in advance as “a piece of waste paper” -- is what China does. Its neighbors and the U.S. should make clear how dangerous and damaging a more aggressive response would be, even as they prepare for that possibility.

The decision from a tribunal convened under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was sweeping, saying that China had no “historic rights” to much of the South China Sea. Judges also declared that none of the Chinese-controlled land features in the Spratly Islands chain could lay claim to a 200-mile exclusive economic zone. Instead several fall under the Philippines’ jurisdiction, and Chinese interference with the nation's fishing vessels in the area is illegal.

In response, China may be tempted to declare an air-defense identification zone over the disputed area, but that would only spur the U.S. and other nations to defy it. Withdrawing from the Law of the Sea treaty would strip China of valuable seabed mining rights, among other benefits. Meanwhile, reclaiming land around Scarborough Shoal, which lies less than 140 miles from the U.S.-allied Philippines, risks an American naval response.

It should be clear to China by now that bullying doesn’t work. Its threats and economic pressure have infuriated rather than cowed its Southeast Asian neighbors. None of them are about to surrender their claims in the region.

Rather than alienating its neighbors and driving them closer to the U.S., China should be looking for an off-ramp -- a way to pause in its activities and shift attention back to diplomacy. Stalled negotiations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations over a binding code of conduct offer just such an opportunity.

In contrast to leaders in Beijing, the new administration in the Philippines has greeted the ruling with welcome restraint, leaving the door open to talks about resource-sharing in the disputed area. China should be looking for a way to enter such negotiations without preconditions, rather than continuing to insist that the Philippines first set aside the ruling. Concluding long-running talks with Vietnam over their shared maritime boundary would earn Chinese leaders a degree of goodwill, as would efforts to rein in Chinese fishing fleets that have strayed into the waters of other nations, including Indonesia.

A change in tactics won’t alter China’s long-term plans to build up its navy or its desire to exert sway over the South China Sea, of course. Channeling those ambitions will require the kind of firmness and commitment to maintaining high-seas freedoms that the U.S. has demonstrated in recent months. U.S. Navy ships can now ratchet up the tempo of their “freedom of navigation” operations with the full force of law behind them. The U.S. should continue to strengthen military ties with countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia -- as well as India, Australia and Japan.

Domestically, the most productive U.S. response might be for Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement before a new president is inaugurated -- making it clear that the U.S. has economic as well as strategic interests to defend in Asia. As unlikely as it seems, lawmakers should also reconsider their refusal to ratify the Law of the Sea treaty; joining would greatly enhance America’s credibility as a defender of the global system.

Arguments over Chinese actions in the western Pacific are certain to continue. Far better for everyone that they be waged in the courtroom, not at sea.


Article Link to The Bloomberg View:

After South China Sea Ruling, China Censors Online Calls For War

Beijing has fanned the flames of nationalism. Now it’s struggling to contain it.


Foreign Policy
July 13, 2016

July 12 was a dark day for fervent Chinese nationalists. An international court based in the Hague issued a long-awaited ruling, rejecting many of China’s territorial claims in the hotly contested South China Sea, where China has clashed with the Philippines, Vietnam, and other countries over land features and fishing rights. After the tribunal announced its judgment at 5 pm Beijing time, declaring that China’s historical claims in the region have no legal basis, massive wave of anger erupted across Chinese social media, where grassroots nationalism flourishes. But to the ruling Communist Party, such sentiment is a double-edged sword: official censors moved quickly to curtail online discussion that seemed to overstep the bounds of acceptable nationalist discourse.

Within hours of the announcement, “South China Sea arbitration” was trending on Weibo, China’s heavily filtered Twitter-like microblogging platform, and hundreds of thousands of comments poured in. Many expressed anger at the ruling itself, at the United States — China’s perceived great power rival in the South China Sea — and the Philippines, which filed the case against China in 2013. One user described the tribunal’s decision as “waste paper and nothing else,” echoing former Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo’s comments at an event in D.C., the week before the ruling; Beijing has repeatedly stated that it will not accept or implement the arbitration. “Struggle for every inch of land,” wrote another, echoing a phrase widely repeated online in the aftermath of the ruling. Another user called for a boycott of the iPhone 7, presumably because it is the product of Apple, a U.S. company.

Other comments expressed anger towards the Philippines. The tribunal did not rule on the sovereignty of land features in the sea, but rather that land features such as reefs and atolls in the Spratlys, near the Philippines, are not large enough to merit their own 220-mile exclusive economic zone. The court also ruled that China had illegally blocked Filipino fishing boats from fishing around the Spratlys. “Does Philippines Island want to become Philippines Province?”challenged one Weibo commenter, who also included an emoticon of a fist punching in the air. “Those who sell bananas should keep selling bananas, don’t keep concerning yourselves with my fish,” wrote one Weibo user in a comment, referring to the common Filipino export to China, which garnered more than 35,000 likes. “Bringing the United States with you won’t work.”

Similar discussion dominated other online platforms. One article called “War in the South China Sea Starts Tonight” received more than 100,000 views on mobile messaging platform WeChat; similar articles were widely shared as well. One popular meme on both Weibo and WeChat showed a map of China with the distinctive Nine Dash Line dipping below it; a slogan beneath the image read, “China: We can’t lose even one dot.”

Phoenix, a Beijing-friendly media outlet based in Hong Kong, even posted Chinese web game called South China Sea Adventure. Users play a Chinese fisherman who gets lost in a storm in the South China Sea. Whether facing demands from the U.S. navy or imprisonment by armed Vietnamese, players are inevitably saved by the powerful Chinese military — and its well-equipped bases built on artificial islands in the sea.

But a wave of censorship also accompanied this outpouring of online commentary. Unsurprisingly, censors removed Weibo posts that contradicted the party line, such as one July 12 post that read “The South China Sea does not belong to China,” with an attached photo of a Filipino protesting China’s actions in nearby waters. But, according to information collected by anti-censorship website Freeweibo, most deleted posts were not anti-nationalist but ultra-nationalist, calling for military action against the United States or the Philippines to defend China’s territorial claims. “War is finally going to break out in the South China Sea,” wrote one user, whose post was later removed. “I was so damn excited last night that I couldn’t sleep!” Another wrote, “The South China Sea arbitration itself is an insult to China. Why would we wait for the result for this kind of crap? With such a large military, why don’t we just go fight to get back [what is ours]?” The post that was later removed. “We’re definitely going to fight,” wrote another user in a deleted post. “’We can’t lose even one dot’ means that we must take back the reefs and islands that Vietnam and other countries have occupied. How can we take them back? We can only rely on fighting.”

To understand why Chinese authorities would want to suppress speech that supports Beijing’s official line, it’s important to understand the risks that unbridled nationalism pose to the party. “Grassroots reactions represent an opportunity and a challenge for the Chinese government, which wants to harness public opinion but fears its power to destabilize the regime,” said Jessica Chen Weiss, a professor of government at Cornell University who studies Chinese nationalism. “The Chinese government tends to suppress grassroots nationalism when it wants room for maneuver in handling foreign incidents.” Weiss told Foreign Policy, “However tough the Chinese government’s response, it is unlikely to satisfy these ultra-nationalist demands for war.” Weiss said that “censoring extreme voices is part of China’s risk management strategy.”

Beijing has made its position uncompromisingly clear to both domestic and international audiences that land features within the Nine Dash Line are its sovereign territory. In 2012, China revised its passports to include a map which claimed the South China Sea as Chinese territory. In 2014, the governmentissued a new vertical map that portrayed the South China Sea as a continuous part of China, replacing previous horizontal maps that included the sea only as a pop-out. Chinese state media outlets have repeatedly emphasized that China has “indisputable sovereignty” over islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

While likely intended to strengthen national resolve and put forward a strong face to the outside world, this strategy is risky. If the party is unable to maintain China’s territorial integrity, or if it is unwilling to heed popular calls for tougher measures, it runs the risk of being viewed as too weak to defend China’s national interests. Grassroots nationalists may unleash their anger against the party itself. Beijing has often emphasized that peace in the region is vital for prosperity, indicating that while maritime claims are important, it is unlikely to start a war with the Philippines or the United States. But an ultra-nationalist populace may pressure the government to take reckless measures.

Territorial sovereignty is a highly sensitive issue in China. During the 19th century, the ruling Qing dynasty was unable to fend off European incursions, resulting in key territorial concessions to Britain, France, and other countries. The Republic of China, which governed mainland China from 1912 until it retreated to Taiwan in 1949, similarly was unable to stop invading Japanese forces in the 1930s. Many Chinese remember the weakness of the Qing and Republicans governments with shame and derision and admire the strength of the current government. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, a major source of legitimacy for the party has been its ability to prevent similar territorial incursions.

While extreme speech was not completely scrubbed from China’s online spaces, the substantial censorship in the aftermath of the ruling serves as a reminder: Just as China’s internal security budget often exceeds its military spending, even in the throes of a major territorial dispute, Beijing continues to view threats to the country as originating more from within than from without.


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