While here in the US pundits continue to debate if there is or is not a “War on Christmas,” in Europe, there literally seems to be one. With still weeks before the Holiday, certain “Christmas Markets” in Germany have already been the target of terrorist attacks.
According to Breitbart, two German towns have seen arrests at their Christmas markets as “migrants brawled with locals in one case, and in another, a migrant threatened passers-by with an ax while yelling ‘Allah hu Akbar.’”
The first of the two incidents took place at a Christmas market in the town of Ludwigslust, in the region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, on Saturday Dec. 1, at around 10:40 pm. In this incident a “dispute” between a group of native Germans and Muslim immigrants escalated into violence, according to local police.
In the second, which took place on the same day, in the town of Witzenhausen in the region of Hesse, a 38-year-old Libyan migrant was arrested after threatening people visiting the town’s Christmas Market, with an ax and yelling “Allah hu Akbar!” at them.
Reminiscent of The Berlin Attack in 2016
Fortunately, in both of the above incidents, arrests were made, and no serious injuries were reported, but they cannot help but raise the specter of the 2016 Berlin Christmas Market van attack, which took the lives of 12 and injured nearly 60. In the aftermath of that attack, it was found that the German government had the opportunity to deport the perpetrator, failed asylum seeker Anis Amri, several times before he conducted the heinous attack, but had failed to do so, much to the ire of his victims. Amri was later killed in a shootout with police in Italy.
Christmas markets have also been the targets of other terror plots as well, including a failed attack by a 12-year-old jihadist in the town of Ludwigshafen in the Rhineland-Palatinate, region only just days before Amri carried out his deadly act of terror.
Gold prices hit a five-month peak on Friday and continued to trade close to that level as the dollar slid following weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data that raised the possibility that the U.S. Federal Reserve might go slow on interest rate hikes next year.
Spot gold was up 0.86 percent at $1,248.28 per ounce, having hit $1,245.60 per ounce earlier, its highest since July 13.
With a rise of nearly 1.7 percent this week, gold looked set to clock its best gain since at least the week of Aug. 24.
U.S. gold futures settled at $1,252.60 per ounce.
“The non-farm payroll data came out lower than expected. It is a negative pick that is causing people to hedge a little bit more in gold and any shorts are probably covering and adding few longs to the market,” said Miguel Perez-Santalla, vice president of Heraeus Metal Management in New York.
The dollar eased against a basket of currencies on Friday after data showed U.S. job growth slowed in November and monthly wages increased less than expected, suggesting some moderation in economic activity.
Interest rate futures suggested traders see fewer than one rate increase from the Fed next year, compared with previous expectations for possibly two rate hikes.
Gold, which is considered a safe investment during times of financial, economic and geopolitical uncertainty, has recovered about 7 percent from 19-month lows hit in mid-August.
“With increased volatility and geopolitical risk, macro asset allocation is becoming more gold-positive again while we believe much of the dollar’s upward move is now behind us with rate hike expectations dropping,” analysts at BMO Capital Markets said in a note.
Meanwhile, spot palladium rose 0.85 to $1,219.70 per ounce.
Silver gained 0.88 percent to $14.60 per ounce and was headed for a weekly rise of more than 2 percent.
Platinum rose 0.35 percent to $792.80. The metal earlier hit a three-month low of $779 and extended losses for a fifth successive week.
As tensions in the Middle East begin to escalate, Iran has announced that its navy has launched a stealth destroyer.
According to Reuter’s, on Saturday Dec. 1, Iran’s navy launched a domestically produced destroyer, which Iran’s state media claims has “stealth,” or radar-evading properties. In a ceremony that was carried live on state television, the Sahand destroyer — which can sustain voyages lasting five months without resupply — joined Iran’s regular navy at a base in Bandar Abbas on the Gulf.
The impressive ship was launched as tensions between Iran and the US are increasing. Trump put the brakes on the Obama era nuclear deal, and pulled out of the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, and has since reimposed sanctions on Tehran. He said that the Obama engineered deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.
More Details On Iran’s New Warship
According to the state press release, “The Sahand has a flight deck for helicopters, torpedo launchers, anti-aircraft and anti-ship guns, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles and electronic warfare capabilities.” How much of that is to be believed is anyone’s guess, but surely US intelligence has a handle on the true capabilities of the warship.
In any case, Rear-Admiral Alireza Sheik, head of the navy shipyards that built the destroyer, told the state news agency IRNA, that, “This vessel is the result of daring and creative design relying on the local technical knowledge of the Iranian Navy… and has been built with stealth capabilities.”
As a result of international sanctions that prevent weapon sales, and weaponry related technology transfers to Iran, the country has had to develop a large domestic arms industry. In 2010 Iran launched its first locally made destroyer as part of a program to revamp its navy equipment, which dates from before the 1979 Islamic revolution and was mostly purchased from the US under military contracts with the Shah.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week that Iran should increase its military capability and readiness to ward off enemies, such as the US. Top military strategists believe that in the wake of a curtailed nuclear program, Iran may be seeking to set up naval bases in Yemen or Syria in the future, to give them greater power in the region.
The United States has said its goal is to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero. Senior Iranian officials have said that if Iran is not allowed to export oil, then it would see that no other countries would be allowed to export oil through the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf. A build-up of their navy, and bases in Yemen or Syria, would be the first step in being able to accomplish that kind of a blockade.
Should Iran take the desperate step of shutting down all traffic of oil tankers through the Strait, it could have a major impact on the markets and the world economy, a move that President Trump isn’t likely to take lightly.
Neither the White House nor the Department of Defense has issued any statement in reaction to the launch.
President Trump would like to make sure that a Federal Judge fixes his former fixer, and throws the book at his one-time attorney and confidant, Michael Cohen.
Trump recently tweeted that Cohen should not be shown any leniency, and that he should serve a “full and complete” prison sentence. The full tweet, which can be read below, was in response to Cohen requesting that in exchange for the information he has been providing to the Mueller investigation into Russian collusion that he should serve little or no prison time.
“Michael Cohen asks judge for no Prison Time.” You mean he can do all of the TERRIBLE, unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, Taxis, etc., and not serve a long prison term? He makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself, and get his wife and father-in-law (who has the money?) off Scott Free. He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.”
On Thursday, Nov. 29, Cohen pled guilty to a single count of making false statements to Congress about a project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. That marked the first time that Trump and his private business dealings were named in open court as part of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign.
On the other hand, just as he was ripping into Cohen for selling him out, Trump lauded long time Trump supporter Roger Stone. Stone, in a move that many say is reminiscent of a scene from The Godfather, tweeted that he would “never testify against Donald Trump.” Which prompted the President to Tweet back in true “Don” fashion: “Nice to know that someone has guts…” and is not willing to “make up lies about President Trump.”
Stone, a self-described Republican “dirty trickster,” has had his hand in the Republican pie since the 1980s. He has been the target of the Mueller investigation due to his alleged ties to, and communications with, a Russian hacker and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Stone Pleads the 5th
Despite Trump’s admonishments on the campaign trail that only “mobsters” and “people who have something to hide” take the 5th, it looks like he was right about Stone’s loyalty. On Tuesday, Dec. 4, Stone invoked his 5th amendment rights against self-incrimination, and would not testify in response to requests for documents and testimony from the Judiciary Committee. According to CNN, Stone’s attorney Grant Smith rebuffed a request from the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee this week for documents and an interview connected to 2016 Russian election meddling. And Smith revealed that he had sent a similar letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee in September invoking the Fifth after the committee — which is still conducting its investigation into Russian meddling — requested documents and an interview from Stone.
Robert Mueller, who is investigating Stone’s alleged ties to the Russians and Assange, has yet to reach out directly to Stone, but says he has spoken with his intermediaries. Given the breaking news about his formal invocation of the 5th in these other matters, and his pledged loyalty to The President, it is reasonable to assume he will do the same, when and if he is asked to testify by Mueller.
Cue the theme from The Godfather.
One of the more maddening things for we citizens is to read something in plain English in the Constitution only to have the Brahmans of the Court tell us it does not mean what it says. That is the case of the protection against “double jeopardy” – being tried for the same crime a second time.
That issue may come back to the surface with implications for the trials of former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort. He is being tried in both federal and state courts for essentially the same crimes. A constitutional challenge to the current law could – just could – get him out those cases that were filed in the Southern District of New York and the Northern District of Virginia. Some argue that the guilty verdicts could be thrown out even though he already confessed to some charges.
According to the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, “… (n)or shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…” Pretty simple. Citizens of United States – who are the only people protected by the Constitution – cannot be required to stand trial for a second time on the same offense.
In 1847, the Supreme Court decided that the double jeopardy protection did not apply to being tried for the same defense by the federal courts and local courts – declaring the two to be “separate sovereigns.” In other words, if you are found innocent of a crime in a state court, you can be put on trial for the same crime in a federal court. That happens a lot. And, according to the current opinion of the Supreme Court, that does not constitute double jeopardy.
The Court proffered the theory that since they are two different jurisdictions (sovereigns), they can pursue an accused separately. If you were that person, you would most certainly believe you were in double jeopardy.
Since that highly controversial decision in 1847, constitutional and legal scholars have argued that the Court erred. Been known to happen. The federal ban on being tried twice is a constitutional protection – a protection against ANY second trial for the same offense applicable to ANY citizen. The Fifth Amendment does not make an exception for “separate soveriegns.”
States can make their own laws, but not when they violate the basic rights protected by the Constitution. So sayeth the Tenth Amendment. All rights and powers not strictly provided to the federal government in the Constitution are to be retained by the states and the people. The intention of the Founders was to strictly limit the power of the central government.
So … how did Washington (the city, not the man) become so powerful? You need to ask the justices of the Supreme Court why they so often have trouble with the English language as found in the Constitution. The document seems pretty clear. Protection from double jeopardy is right there in the Constitution. It does not yield that decision to the states even in view of the Tenth Amendment.
The same reason that states cannot try a person already tried by the federal government – or at least should not be able to — is the same reason that the claim of states’ rights did not protect slavery. It was a violation of federal constitutional rights of all citizens – ergo forbidden. States could not plead as “separate sovereigns” – although they tried with nullification acts, but that is a different story.
Opposition to the current interpretation of double jeopardy is so profound that two of the Supreme Courts most distant members in terms of judicial philosophy – Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas – both believe that the 1847 decision should be reviewed and potentially reversed.
The 171-year-old decision of the Court could be upended in the case of Gamble v. United States of America, which challenges the law and is on the docket to be heard by the current Court. That is the case that could impact significantly on Manafort. If the court reverses itself, he could be off the hook for all the non-federal cases – and Trump could grant a pardon for any or all of the federal charges.
What are the chances? Who knows. But with Ginsberg and Thomas on the same side – and with the Court having a clear five-member majority, it does seem very possible. Manafort notwithstanding, however, it is probably time for the Court to declare that the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy means what it says.
So, there ‘tis.
No organization in America can out do People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in garnering publicity for ugly antics and idiotic ideas. Following in the footsteps of the radical feminists – who want to remove the word “man” from “mankind” to “manufacture” – PETA’s latest left-wing assault on the common language is proposed to take all references to animals out of our clichés.
They propose that “bringing home the bacon” should be replaced by “bringing home the bagels.” How do Jews feel about that since they are most closely associated with the bagel? I take particular offense to this idea because I LOVE bacon. Yeah, I know it clogs my arteries and I have to indulge in moderation – meaning about once a week as opposed to every breakfast. On rare occasions, I even indulge myself in my favorte sandwich – and I am not speaking of one of those run-of-the-mill bacon, lettuce and tomato deals. No. No. No.
Mine is a full one-pound of semi-crisp bacon pressed between two slices of Wonderbread slathered in Miracle Whip (not a mayo guy). I do add a slice of beef steak tomato as a healthy supplement. Hmmmm. I suppose PETA will want me to rename the tomato – something like a “beat stalk” tomato. That makes no sense, but neither does “beef steak.”
PETA proposes that we celebrate accomplishing two tasks in one effort by replacing “killing two birds with one stone” to “feeding two birds with one scone.” It has a nice sound to it, but frankly, I like scones too much to feed them to birds. My feathered friends get Wonderbread – preservatives and all. If you are into double-entendres, you could “feed two birds with one pita.” I like that since PETA’s idea is for the birds, anyway.
For years … decades … maybe even centuries, we have been advised not to “put all our eggs in one basket.” PETA suggest that we do not “put all our berries in one bowl.” By extension, I assume the we can no long call our savings a “nest egg.” Maybe we can call it our “silo share” or better yet – in keeping with the PITA theme — our “berry preserves.”
PETA’s ambition to re-write the English Language is not limited to clichés. They want the English town of Wool to change its 1000-year-old name because it suggests cruelty to sheep. They propose it be renamed “Vegan Wool.” That would suggest that we should only be cruel to vegan sheep – and hey, they are all vegans already.
Speaking of sheep, we often accused of being a “nation of sheep” – after the William Lederer 1961 book by the same name. So, I guess we have to bow to both PETA and the feminists on this one and call ourselves “a nation of pandering persons.”
Weeeeell … you can just image what PETA thinks of the New York town of Fishkill. You do not have to imagine, however. They will tell you. According to PETA (People Engaged in Textual Asininity), the town should be renamed “Fishsave.” In the original context, “kill” actually means creek, but don’t tell the folks at PETA. If you do, then also educate them on the fact that “wool” – as the town in England — is Saxon for “well” or “spring.” Just that no one speaks Saxon any more.
You can see where this is going. No more “dog days of summer,” “hogging the blanket,” “horsing around,” “fishing for a compliment” or “cat houses.” Speaking of felines, I hope this means an end to all those “pussy” references at those feminist rallies – including those silly pink knit pussy hats.
I wonder if PETA will go after the sports teams for all those animal names. Rams … eagles … tigers … bears … cubs … seahawks … panthers … and on and on.
I could go on with additional examples of PETA’s “offensive” references to animals and suggested upgrades in the language, but I prefer to leave that up to the readers. Besides, time for me to pig out at lunch.
If you are so inspired, I would love to hear your suggestions for replacing references to animals with more politically correct terms. And do not worry if your suggestions are really stupid. You will be very much in keeping with PETA.
So, there ‘tis.
Normally, when a prominent member of a President’s own political party passes on, it usually has positive political implications. There is a pause in the partisan bickering. The media is filled with the person’s good works – which reflects well on their political party. It provides the President with an opportunity to be a consoler and unifier.
This has not been the case with President Trump.
This was clearly seen with the death of Senator John McCain. His funeral was unusual in that it was weaponized against Trump by the McCain family and an obsessively anti-Trump media. McCain was most certainly a prominent Republican and arguably a war hero, but the day-after-day canonization of his yet-to-be-interred remains was far beyond the merits of the man. He was a man with an angry and vengeful nature. He was every bit as narcissistic as Trump. His votes were too often predicated on political motivation rather than public good (i.e. campaign finance regulations). He preferred to be a maverick instead of a principled conservative. Most of the high praise in the press was designed – with malice of forethought — to draw starker, darker comparisons to Trump – who did little to effectively counter the slander-by-false-comparison.
McCain’s request that Trump not be invited to the funeral and his posthumous letter incorporating a hit on Trump were far from the class and graciousness that Bush “41” demonstrated during his life. The McCain’s family’s unending nasty public comments about Trump during and after the senator’s funeral – as late as this week – have been repetitious and petty. They usually involve how they will never forgive Trump.
Unlike McCain, Bush deserves every minute of every praise. He was an extraordinary human being in demeanor and accomplishment. One does not always have to agree with each and every action or policy to recognize and appreciate the quality of the man.
Of course, he does have his detractors. Many see his call for a “new world order” as some Orwellian scheme of control over the world by a cabal of conspiring autocrats. If you give the phrase that meaning, there is reason to be concerned. Bush, however, was doing what we want American presidents to do – trying to improve the world for mankind by dealing with the evil alliances. We created a new world order after World War I – literally wiping out monarchies. We did it again after World War II –making the world free for democracy. Nixon changed the world order with his China policy. Reagan made an enormous change in the world order with his forced collapse of the Soviet Union. Most Americans would see Bush’s call for a new world order in that tradition.
It is only natural that every praise of Bush will be compared – if not openly, at least in the mind – with Trump – and it is not a positive comparison for the President. It is that crappy personality issue. In that regard, Bush is one of the role model Presidents for his successors and for the children across the country – what a President should be.
Whereas Bush was humble, Trump is egocentric. Whereas Bush was gracious, Trump is petty. Whereas Bush was articulate, Trump is argumentative and too often not credible. Whereas Bush could embrace political adversaries (in the tradition of Lincoln and Reagan), Trump reacts explosively to the least opposition or criticism.
Just to be clear, recognition of Trump’s personality issues, does not mean that I have lost sight of the more important policy proposals and achievements of the Trump presidency. Nor is it an absolution of the ethical collapse and corruptive bias of the left-wing news media. Those are far greater threats to the Republic than Trump’s idiosyncrasies. This is only a comparison of two personalities. If given the choice, I think virtually all parents would want their children to grow up with Bush’s personal character – and not with Trump’s.
Bush’s passing – and all the deserved eulogies that will be offered during this time of requiem – will shine a light on all of Trump’s personality deficiencies. That is unfortunate, but how things are.
So, there ‘tis.