The Pronk Pops Show 1367, December 3, 2019, Story 1: President Trump Trade Deal With Communist China After 2020 Election — Videos –Story 2: Going, Going, Gone – Larry Page and Sergey Brin — Sundar Pichai Takes Over — Videos — Story 3: Going, Going, Gone — Kamala Harris — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1367 December 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1366 December 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1365 November 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1364 November 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1363 November 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1362 November 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1361 November 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1360 November 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1359 November 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1358 November 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1357 November 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1356 November 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1355 November 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1354 November 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1353 November 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1352 November 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1351 November 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1350 November 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1349 October 31, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1348 October 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1347 October 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1346 October 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1345 October 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1344 October 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1343 October 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1342 October 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1341 October 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1340 October 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1339 October 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1338 October 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1337 October 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1336 October 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1335 October 7, 2019

 Pronk Pops Show 1334 October 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1333 October 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1332 October 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1331 October 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1330 September 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1329 September 27, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1328 September 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1327 September 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1326 September 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1325 September 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1324 September 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1323 September 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1322 September 18 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1321 September 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1320 September 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1319 September 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1318 September 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1317 September 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1316 September 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1315 September 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1314 September 6, 2019

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Story 1: President Trump Trade Deal With Communist China After 2020 Election — No Dead Line For Deal — More Tariffs on China on December 15, 2019 — Videos —

Trump’s NATO comments revamp China trade tensions

Trump Says China Trade Deal Is Based on One Thing

Futures erase gains after Trump’s comments on China and trade deal

China Hits Back at U.S. for Supporting Hong Kong

Expect the U.S. to devalue its currency to deal with China trade issues: Ken Courtis

US and China edging towards a trade deal, says Trump

Where 2020 Democratic Candidates Stand On Trade War With China | NBC News Now

Forever war: US and China struggle to defuse trade conflict

Trump: China will probably try to delay trade deal until US election

The Crisis in Hong Kong

 

Dow Jones plunges 400 points as Donald Trump says ‘I have no deadline’ for a trade deal with China and that he could for 2020 election to strike one

  • Global stocks took a tumble amid pessimism over a standoff between the U.S. and China when it comes to resolving their trade war
  • On Wall Street, the Dow Jones index fell more than 400 points and the Nasdaq was down by more than 90 points 
  • President Trump appeared to downplay the chances for a deal to end soon 
  • ‘In some ways I like the idea of waiting until after the election,’ he said
  • U.S. stocks also took a tumble when the market opened 

Wall Street shares tumbled Tuesday after Donald Trump said he could wait until after next year’s presidential election to strike a trade deal with China.

Trump appeared to downplay the chances for a deal to end the U.S.-China trade war before the end of the year and even said it could wait until after the 2020 presidential election.

Speaking in London where he is attending a NATO summit, Trump said that the only limiting factor to reaching an agreement with China is whether he wants to make a deal.

Asked about his previous goal of reaching an agreement by years’ end, Trump told reporters, ‘I have no deadline, no.’

‘In some ways I like the idea of waiting until after the election,’ he added. He has previously suggested that China wanted to wait until after the election to negotiate a deal.

‘I’m doing very well in a deal with China, if I want to make it. If I want to make. It’s not if they want to make it,’ the president said at a breakfast meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. ‘It’s if I want to make it. We’ll see what happens. But I’m doing a well if I want to make a deal. I don’t know if I want to make it.’

His intervention caused a Wall Street sell-off with the Dow Jones index losing a maximum of 411 points, and thew Nasdq falling by as much as 97 points,

Technology companies, which do a lot of business with China, stocks led the declines. Apple sank 2.5%.

Investors were also disappointed that the U.S. proposed tariffs on French goods, a day after announcing taxes on steel and aluminum imports from Chile and Argentina.

Surprise: 'I'm doing very well in a deal with China, if I want to make it. If I want to make. It's not if they want to make it, Donald Trump said - sending markets tumbling

Surprise: ‘I’m doing very well in a deal with China, if I want to make it. If I want to make. It’s not if they want to make it, Donald Trump said – sending markets tumbling

President Donald Trump - at a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg - downplayed chances for an to the U.S.-China trade war soon

President Donald Trump – at a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg – downplayed chances for an to the U.S.-China trade war soon

Around the world, Trump caused a sell off. France’s CAC 40 fell 0.3% to 5,770, while Britain’s FTSE 100 tumbled nearly 1% 7,216. Germany’s DAX gained 0.6% to 13,045.

Tensions between the two nations flared anew last week after Trump signed legislation expressing U.S. support for pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong.

Investors have been hoping that the world´s two biggest economies can make progress toward at least staving off new tariffs scheduled for Dec. 15 on $160 billion worth of Chinese products, including smartphones and laptops.

The Trump administration has also proposed tariffs on $2.4 billion in goods in retaliation for a French tax on global tech giants including Google, Amazon and Facebook.

France´s finance minister threatened a ‘strong European riposte’ if the U.S. follows through on a proposal to hit French cheese, Champagne, handbags and other products with tariffs of up to 100%.

The move is likely to increase tensions between the U.S. and Europe – and set the stage for a likely tense meeting Tuesday between President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron.

In Asia, tensions had already flared after China retaliated for U.S. support of protesters in Hong Kong, putting investors in a selling mood. Asian regional markets are generally hurt by declines in trade and the slowdown in the Chinese economy that might cause.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.6% to finish at 23,379.81. Australia´s S&P/ASX 200 slid 2.2% to 6,712.30. South Korea´s Kospi declined 0.4% to 2,084.07. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.2% to 26,391.30, while the Shanghai Composite recovered earlier losses to inch up 0.3% to 2,884.70.

Last week, Trump said ‘We´re in the final throes of a very important deal.’

Earlier, China had made goodwill gestures, issuing improved guidelines for protection of patents, copyrights and other intellectual property and lifting a five-year ban on American poultry.

Then Trump’s comments Tuesday seemed to suggest that a breakthrough might not come anytime soon.

It’s been a year and a half since Trump declared that ‘trade wars are good, and easy to win.’

But his war with China has dragged on and on, with each side imposing – and raising – import taxes on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other’s goods. Those taxes are paid by companies that import those goods.

These importers must either absorb those higher costs or pass them on to customers in the form of price increases.

Negotiators have met 13 times. Truces have come and gone. Predictions of peace have proved premature.

For now, at least, the reality remains: The United States is taxing more than $360 billion worth of Chinese imports, and Beijing is retaliating with tariffs on $120 billion of American products. Not since the 1930s has the world seen such intense trade warfare.

The two sides are fighting over allegations that China has deployed predatory tactics in its drive to achieve global dominance in such advanced technologies as quantum computing and electric cars. The administration asserts, and many China analysts agree, that these tactics include stealing sensitive technology, unfairly subsidizing their own firms and forcing foreign companies to hand over trade secrets as the price of admission to China’s market.

Trump said a deal could wait until after the 2020 election6

Trump said a deal could wait until after the 2020 election

U.S. stocks also took a tumble when the market opened

U.S. stocks also took a tumble when the market opened

On Oct. 11, Trump had announced what he cast as a breakthrough: Beijing had agreed to buy far more U.S. farm products – as much as $50 billion worth annually, the administration said – and to better protect intellectual property. In return, the United States suspended plans to raise tariffs on $112 billion in Chinese goods.

Even though this so-called Phase 1 deal left the thorniest issues for future negotiations, the two sides still haven’t managed to finalize it.

‘It now looks likely that a Phase 1 deal will be rather limited in scope, hardly resolving the broader trade-related uncertainty that continues to cloud business sentiment in both countries,’ said Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University economist who formerly led the China division at the International Monetary Fund.

Beijing has been reluctant to make the kind of substantive policy reforms that would satisfy the Trump administration. Doing so would likely require scaling back China’s aspirations for technological supremacy, which it sees as crucial to its prosperity.

The prolonged trade war has been inflicting economic damage. Factories have cut purchases and investments because they don’t know whether or when Trump will lift his tariffs or which countries he might target next.

The president’s sudden move Monday to take action against Argentina and Brazil underscored how unpredictable his policies are. Last year, he had agreed to exempt the two countries from tariffs on steel and aluminum. But he reversed that decision in a tweet Monday morning, accusing Argentina and Brazil of manipulating their currencies lower to give their exporters a price advantage. In fact, their currencies are plunging because their economies are in crisis.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration ratcheted up tensions with Europe by announcing plans to impose tariffs of up to 100% on cheese, Champagne and lipstick and other imports from France to protest a French digital services tax.

The administration is also readying taxes on $7.5 billion worth of European Union imports in a dispute over illegal EU subsidies to aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

The tariffs and the uncertainty they generate have hurt the U.S. manufacturing sector, which many economists say is already in recession. On Monday, a private survey found that American factory output had fallen for the fourth straight month.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7750245/Asian-shares-slip-Europe-mixed-amid-US-China-trade-tensions.html

Story 2: Going, Going, Gone – Larry Page and Sergey Brin — Sundar Pichai Takes Over — Videos

Larry Page to step down as Alphabet CEO, Pichai to take over

Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s I/O 2017 keynote

Alphabet CEO Larry Page to Step Down, Google CEO Sundar Pichai to Take Over

15 Things You Didn’t Know About Larry Page

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt leaving Alphabet board

Larry Page: ‘I chose Google so Sergey chose Alphabet’ | Fortune

Where’s Google going next? | Larry Page

Mar 21, 2014

Larry Page steps down as CEO of Alphabet, Sundar Pichai to take over

KEY POINTS
  • Alphabet CEO Larry Page will step down from the role and Google CEO Sundar Pichai will take over, adding to his current responsibilities. Co-founder Sergey Brin will also step down as president of Alphabet and the role will be eliminated.
  • Page and Brin said in a blog post that “it’s the natural time to simplify our management structure.”
  • Page became CEO of Alphabet after Google restructured to form the parent company in 2015. He had previously been CEO of Google.

Sundar Pichai to replace Larry Page as Alphabet CEO

Alphabet CEO Larry Page announced Tuesday that he will step down from the position. Google CEO Sundar Pichai will take over as CEO of the parent company in addition to his current role. Co-founder Sergey Brin will also step down as president of Alphabet and the role will be eliminated.

close dialog
ALL NEW
TONIGHT 10P ET

Alphabet’s stock was up as much as 0.8% after hours.

“With Alphabet now well-established, and Google and the Other Bets operating effectively as independent companies, it’s the natural time to simplify our management structure,” Page and Brin wrote in a blog post announcing the change. “We’ve never been ones to hold on to management roles when we think there’s a better way to run the company. And Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a President.”

Page became CEO of Alphabet in 2015 when Google reorganized to form the new parent company to oversee its “Other Bets” outside of its main search and digital ads businesses. Page had previously served as CEO of Google. Under the new structure, Pichai became CEO of Google after effectively runningmuch of the business as Page had taken a step back to focus on big picture endeavors. Pichai had previously led Android and Chrome at the company.

Both Page and Brin will remain “actively involved” as members of Alphabet’s board, according to the letter. The co-founders still have controlling voting shares of the company. Page holds about 5.8% of Alphabet shares, Brin controls about 5.6% and Pichai holds about 0.1%, ensuring the new CEO may still be challenged by the company’s founders. Google said its voting structure is not changing in light of the announcement.

Alphabet may need to lean more heavily on its other bets, which include companies like Waymo and Verily, as its core digital advertising business run by Google shows signs of slowing down. Google showed slowing ad revenue in its first quarter of 2019 and lower profit compared to the previous year during the third quarter. The company has still struggled to generate significant revenue in hardware, although its cloud business is growing.

LIVE, NEWS-MAKING DISCUSSIONS
UNIQUE, IN-PERSON EXPERIENCES

Page and Pichai have overseen the company during a tumultuous few years as Google employees have voiced their discontent with company policies. Thousands of Google employees walked out of offices around the world last year to protest a $90 million exit package Google reportedly paid to former Android leader Andy Rubin despite finding sexual misconduct claims against him to be credible, a New York Times investigation revealed. Alphabet’s board has opened an investigation into how executives have handled claims of sexual misconduct, CNBC reported last month.

Google has been forced to back off of certain projects have pushback from employees. In 2018, Google’s cloud chief at the time said the company would not renew its contract with the Department of Defense after it was set to expire in March 2019. The decision followed a petition signed by thousands of employees urging Pichai to keep Google out of the “business of war.” Google employees have also urged the company to back off its plans to build a censored search engine for China after The Intercept reported on the plans cryptically called Project Dragonfly.

More recently, a group of former Google employees known as the “Thanksgiving Four” have claimed their pre-holiday dismissal amounted to retaliation for their attempts to organize workers. The former employees have promised to file charges with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming unfair labor practices. Google denies any retaliation and has insisted the workers were let go for sharing confidential documents and breaching security.

Here is the full letter from Page and Brin:

Our very first founders’ letter in our 2004 S-1 began:

“Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one. Throughout Google’s evolution as a privately held company, we have managed Google differently. We have also emphasized an atmosphere of creativity and challenge, which has helped us provide unbiased, accurate and free access to information for those who rely on us around the world.”

We believe those central tenets are still true today. The company is not conventional and continues to make ambitious bets on new technology, especially with our Alphabet structure. Creativity and challenge remain as ever-present as before, if not more so, and are increasingly applied to a variety of fields such as machine learning, energy efficiency and transportation. Nonetheless, Google’s core service—providing unbiased, accurate, and free access to information—remains at the heart of the company.

However, since we wrote our first founders’ letter, the company has evolved and matured. Within Google, there are all the popular consumer services that followed Search, such as Maps, Photos, and YouTube; a global ecosystem of devices powered by our Android and Chrome platforms, including our own Made by Google devices; Google Cloud, including GCP and G Suite; and of course a base of fundamental technologies around machine learning, cloud computing, and software engineering. It’s an honor that billions of people have chosen to make these products central to their lives—this is a trust and responsibility that Google will always work to live up to.

And structurally, the company evolved into Alphabet in 2015. As we said in the Alphabet founding letter in 2015:

“Alphabet is about businesses prospering through strong leaders and independence.”

Since we wrote that, hundreds of Phoenix residents are now being driven around in Waymo cars—many without drivers! Wing became the first drone company to make commercial deliveries to consumers in the U.S. And Verily and Calico are doing important work, through a number of great partnerships with other healthcare companies. Some of our “Other Bets” have their own boards with independent members, and outside investors.

Those are just a few examples of technology companies that we have formed within Alphabet, in addition to investment subsidiaries GV and Capital G, which have supported hundreds more. Together with all of Google’s services, this forms a colorful tapestry of bets in technology across a range of industries—all with the goal of helping people and tackling major challenges.

Our second founders’ letter began:

“Google was born in 1998. If it were a person, it would have started elementary school late last summer (around August 19), and today it would have just about finished the first grade.”

Today, in 2019, if the company was a person, it would be a young adult of 21 and it would be time to leave the roost. While it has been a tremendous privilege to be deeply involved in the day-to-day management of the company for so long, we believe it’s time to assume the role of proud parents—offering advice and love, but not daily nagging!

With Alphabet now well-established, and Google and the Other Bets operating effectively as independent companies, it’s the natural time to simplify our management structure. We’ve never been ones to hold on to management roles when we think there’s a better way to run the company. And Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a President. Going forward, Sundar will be the CEO of both Google and Alphabet. He will be the executive responsible and accountable for leading Google, and managing Alphabet’s investment in our portfolio of Other Bets. We are deeply committed to Google and Alphabet for the long term, and will remain actively involved as Board members, shareholders and co-founders. In addition, we plan to continue talking with Sundar regularly, especially on topics we’re passionate about!

Sundar brings humility and a deep passion for technology to our users, partners and our employees every day. He’s worked closely with us for 15 years, through the formation of Alphabet, as CEO of Google, and a member of the Alphabet Board of Directors. He shares our confidence in the value of the Alphabet structure, and the ability it provides us to tackle big challenges through technology. There is no one that we have relied on more since Alphabet was founded, and no better person to lead Google and Alphabet into the future.

We are deeply humbled to have seen a small research project develop into a source of knowledge and empowerment for billions—a bet we made as two Stanford students that led to a multitude of other technology bets. We could not have imagined, back in 1998 when we moved our servers from a dorm room to a garage, the journey that would follow.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/03/larry-page-steps-down-as-ceo-of-alphabet.html

Larry Page

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Larry Page
Larry Page in the European Parliament, 17.06.2009 (cropped).jpg

Page in 2009
Born
Lawrence Edward Page

March 26, 1973 (age 46)

Residence Palo Alto, California, U.S.[1][2]
Alma mater University of Michigan (BS)
Stanford University (MS)
Occupation
Known for Co-founding Google, Alphabet Inc. and PageRank
Salary One-dollar salary
Net worth US$55.8 billion[3] (2019)

Lawrence Edward Page[4] (born March 26, 1973) is an American computer scientist and Internet entrepreneur. He is best known for being one of the co-founders of Google along with Sergey Brin.[1][5]

Page was the chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc. (Google’s parent company) until stepping down on December 3, 2019. After stepping aside as Google CEO in August 2001, in favor of Eric Schmidt, he re-assumed the role in April 2011. He announced his intention to step aside a second time in July 2015, to become CEO of Alphabet, under which Google’s assets would be reorganized. Under Page, Alphabet is seeking to deliver major advancements in a variety of industries.[6]

As of October 2019, Page is the 9th-richest person in the world, with a net worth of $55.8 billion.[7] Forbes placed him 10th in the list “Billionaires 2019”.[8]

Page is the co-inventor of PageRank, a well-known search ranking algorithm for Google, which he wrote with Brin.[16] Page received the Marconi Prize in 2004 with Brin.[17]

Contents

Early life and education

Page was born on March 26, 1973,[18] in Lansing, Michigan.[19] His father is Jewish;[20] his maternal grandfather later made aliyah to Israel.[21] However he does not declare to follow any formal religion.[20][22] His father, Carl Victor Page, Sr., earned a PhD in computer science from the University of Michigan, when the field was being established, and BBC reporter Will Smale has described him as a “pioneer in computer science and artificial intelligence”.[23] He was a computer science professor at Michigan State University and Page’s mother, Gloria, was an instructor in computer programming at Lyman Briggs College of Michigan State University.[24][23][25]

During an interview, Page recalled his childhood, noting that his house “was usually a mess, with computers, science, and technology magazines and Popular Science magazines all over the place”, an environment in which he immersed himself.[26] Page was an avid reader during his youth, writing in his 2013 Google founders letter: “I remember spending a huge amount of time pouring [sic] over books and magazines”.[27] According to writer Nicholas Carlson, the combined influence of Page’s home atmosphere and his attentive parents “fostered creativity and invention”. Page also played flute and studied music composition while growing up. He attended the renowned music summer camp – Interlochen Arts Camp at Interlochen, Michigan. Page has mentioned that his musical education inspired his impatience and obsession with speed in computing. “In some sense, I feel like music training led to the high-speed legacy of Google for me”. In an interview Page said that “In music, you’re very cognizant of time. Time is like the primary thing” and that “If you think about it from a music point of view, if you’re a percussionist, you hit something, it’s got to happen in milliseconds, fractions of a second”.[9][28]

Page was first attracted to computers when he was six years old, as he was able to “play with the stuff lying around”—first-generation personal computers—that had been left by his mother and father.[24] He became the “first kid in his elementary school to turn in an assignment from a word processor“.[29] His older brother also taught him to take things apart and before long he was taking “everything in his house apart to see how it worked”. He said that “from a very early age, I also realized I wanted to invent things. So I became really interested in technology and business. Probably from when I was 12, I knew I was going to start a company eventually.”[29]

Page attended the Okemos Montessori School (now called Montessori Radmoor) in Okemos, Michigan, from 1975 to 1979, and graduated from East Lansing High School in 1991. He attended Interlochen Center for the Artsas a saxophonist for two summers while in high school. Page holds a Bachelor of Science in computer engineering from the University of Michigan, with honors and a Master of Science in computer science from Stanford University.[30] While at the University of Michigan, Page created an inkjet printer made of Lego bricks (literally a line plotter), after he thought it possible to print large posters cheaply with the use of inkjet cartridges—Page reverse-engineered the ink cartridge, and built all of the electronics and mechanics to drive it.[24] Page served as the president of the Beta Epsilon chapter of the Eta Kappa Nu fraternity,[31] and was a member of the 1993 “Maize & Blue” University of Michigan Solar Car team.[32] As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, he proposed that the school replace its bus system with a personal rapid transit system, which is essentially a driverless monorail with separate cars for every passenger.[9] He also developed a business plan for a company that would use software to build a music synthesizer during this time.[28]

PhD studies and research

After enrolling in a computer science PhD program at Stanford University, Page was in search of a dissertation theme and considered exploring the mathematical properties of the World Wide Web, understanding its link structure as a huge graph. His supervisor, Terry Winograd, encouraged him to pursue the idea, and Page recalled in 2008 that it was the best advice he had ever received.[33] He also considered doing research on telepresence and self-driving cars during this time.[34][35][36][37]

Page focused on the problem of finding out which web pages linked to a given page, considering the number and nature of such backlinks as valuable information for that page. The role of citations in academic publishing would also become pertinent for the research.[37]Sergey Brin, a fellow Stanford PhD student, would soon join Page’s research project, nicknamed “BackRub.”[37] Together, the pair authored a research paper titled “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine”, which became one of the most downloaded scientific documents in the history of the Internet at the time.[24][35]

John Battelle, co-founder of Wired magazine, wrote that Page had reasoned that the:

… entire Web was loosely based on the premise of citation—after all, what is a link but a citation? If he could devise a method to count and qualify each backlink on the Web, as Page puts it “the Web would become a more valuable place.”[37]

Battelle further described how Page and Brin began working together on the project:

At the time Page conceived of BackRub, the Web comprised an estimated 10 million documents, with an untold number of links between them. The computing resources required to crawl such a beast were well beyond the usual bounds of a student project. Unaware of exactly what he was getting into, Page began building out his crawler. The idea’s complexity and scale lured Brin to the job. A polymath who had jumped from project to project without settling on a thesis topic, he found the premise behind BackRub fascinating. “I talked to lots of research groups” around the school, Brin recalls, “and this was the most exciting project, both because it tackled the Web, which represents human knowledge, and because I liked Larry.”[37]

Search engine development

To convert the backlink data gathered by BackRub’s web crawler into a measure of importance for a given web page, Brin and Page developed the PageRank algorithm, and realized that it could be used to build a search engine far superior to existing ones.[37] The algorithm relied on a new technology that analyzed the relevance of the backlinks that connected one web page to another.[38]

Combining their ideas, the pair began utilizing Page’s dormitory room as a machine laboratory, and extracted spare parts from inexpensive computers to create a device that they used to connect the not nascent search engine with Stanford’s broadband campus network.[37] After filling Page’s room with equipment, they then converted Brin’s dorm room into an office and programming center, where they tested their new search engine designs on the Web. The rapid growth of their project caused Stanford’s computing infrastructure to experience problems.[39]

Page and Sergey Brin by Graziano Origa

Page and Brin used the former’s basic HTML programming skills to set up a simple search page for users, as they did not have a web page developer to create anything visually elaborate. They also began using any computer part they could find to assemble the necessary computing power to handle searches by multiple users. As their search engine grew in popularity among Stanford users, it required additional servers to process the queries. In August 1996, the initial version of Google, still on the Stanford University website, was made available to Internet users.[37]

The mathematical website interlinking that the PageRankalgorithm facilitates, illustrated by size-percentage correlation of the circles. The algorithm was named after Page himself.

By early 1997, the BackRub page described the state as follows:

Some Rough Statistics (from August 29, 1996)

Total indexable HTML URLs: 75.2306 Million

Total content downloaded: 207.022 gigabytes

BackRub is written in Java and Python and runs on several Sun Ultras and Intel Pentiums running Linux. The primary database is kept on a Sun Ultra series II with 28GB of disk. Scott Hassan and Alan Steremberg have provided a great deal of very talented implementation help. Sergey Brin has also been very involved and deserves many thanks.

— Larry Page page@cs.stanford.edu[40]

BackRub already exhibited the rudimentary functions and characteristics of a search engine: a query input was entered and it provided a list of backlinks ranked by importance. Page recalled: “We realized that we had a querying tool. It gave you a good overall ranking of pages and ordering of follow-up pages.”[41] Page said that in mid-1998 they finally realized the further potential of their project: “Pretty soon, we had 10,000 searches a day. And we figured, maybe this is really real.”[39]

Some compared Page and Brin’s vision to the impact of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of modern printing:

In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg introduced Europe to the mechanical printing press, printing Bibles for mass consumption. The technology allowed for books and manuscripts – originally replicated by hand – to be printed at a much faster rate, thus spreading knowledge and helping to usher in the European Renaissance … Google has done a similar job.[42]

The comparison was also noted by the authors of The Google Story: “Not since Gutenberg … has any new invention empowered individuals, and transformed access to information, as profoundly as Google.”[43] Also, not long after the two “cooked up their new engine for web searches, they began thinking about information that was at the time beyond the web,” such as digitizing books and expanding health information.[39]

Google

Page in the early days of Google

1998–2010

Founding

Mark Malseed wrote in a 2003 feature story:

Soliciting funds from faculty members, family and friends, Brin and Page scraped together enough to buy some servers and rent that famous garage in Menlo Park. … [soon after], Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim wrote a $100,000 check to “Google, Inc.” The only problem was, “Google, Inc.” did not yet exist—the company hadn’t yet been incorporated. For two weeks, as they handled the paperwork, the young men had nowhere to deposit the money.[44]

In 1998,[45] Brin and Page incorporated Google, Inc.[46] with the initial domain name of “Googol,” derived from a number that consists of one followed by one hundred zeros—representing the vast amount of data that the search engine was intended to explore. Following inception, Page appointed himself as CEO, while Brin, named Google’s co-founder, served as Google’s president.[9] Writer Nicholas Carlson wrote in 2014:

While Google is often thought of as the invention of two young computer whizzes—Sergey and Larry, Larry and Sergey—the truth is that Google is a creation of Larry Page, helped along by Sergey Brin.[9]

The pair’s mission was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”[47] With a US$1-million loan from friends and family, the inaugural team moved into a Mountain View office by the start of 2000. In 1999, Page experimented with smaller servers so Google could fit more into each square meter of the third-party warehouses the company rented for their servers. This eventually led to a search engine that ran much faster than Google’s competitors at the time.[9]

By June 2000, Google had indexed one billion Internet URLs (Uniform Resource Locators), making it the most comprehensive search engine on the Web at the time. The company cited NEC Research Institute data in its June 26 press release, stating that “there are more than 1 billion web pages online today,” with Google “providing access to 560 million full-text indexed web pages and 500 million partially indexed URLs.”[48]

Early management style

During his first tenure as CEO, Page embarked on an attempt to fire all of Google’s project managers in 2001. Page’s plan involved all of Google’s engineers reporting to a VP of engineering, who would then report directly to him—Page explained that he didn’t like non-engineers supervising engineers due to their limited technical knowledge.[9] Page even documented his management tenets for his team to use as a reference:

  • Don’t delegate: Do everything you can yourself to make things go faster.
  • Don’t get in the way if you’re not adding value. Let the people actually doing the work talk to each other while you go do something else.
  • Don’t be a bureaucrat.
  • Ideas are more important than age. Just because someone is junior doesn’t mean they don’t deserve respect and cooperation.
  • The worst thing you can do is stop someone from doing something by saying, “No. Period.” If you say no, you have to help them find a better way to get it done.[9]

Even though Page’s new model was unsustainable and led to disgruntlement among the affected employees, his issue with engineers being managed by non-engineering staff gained traction more broadly. Eventually, the practice of only instating engineers into the management roles of engineering teams was established as a standard across Silicon Valley.[49]

Page also believed that the faster Google’s search engine returned answers, the more it would be used. He fretted over milliseconds and pushed his engineers—from those who developed algorithms to those who built data centers—to think about lag times. He also pushed for keeping Google’s home page famously sparse in its design because it would help the search results load faster.[28]

2001–2011

Changes in management and expansion

Before Silicon Valley’s two most prominent investors, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital, agreed to invest a combined total of $50 million in Google, they applied pressure on Page to step down as CEO so that a more experienced leader could build a “world-class management team.” Page eventually became amenable to the idea after meeting with other technology CEOs, including Steve Jobs and Intel’s Andrew GroveEric Schmidt, who had been hired as Chairman of Google in March 2001, left his full-time position as the CEO of Novell to take the same role at Google in August of the same year, and Page moved aside to assume the President of Products role.[9]

Under Schmidt’s leadership, Google underwent a period of major growth and expansion, which included its initial public offering (IPO) on August 20, 2004. He always acted in consultation with Page and Brin when he embarked on initiatives such as the hiring of an executive team and the creation of a sales force management system. Page remained the boss at Google in the eyes of the employees, as he gave final approval on all new hires, and it was Page who provided the signature for the IPO, the latter making him a billionaire at the age of 30.[9]

Page led the acquisition of Android for $50 million in 2005 to fulfill his ambition to place handheld computers in the possession of consumers so that they could access Google anywhere. The purchase was made without Schmidt’s knowledge, but the CEO was not perturbed by the relatively small acquisition. Page became passionate about Android, and spent large amounts of time with Android CEO and cofounder Andy Rubin. By September 2008, T-Mobile launched the G1, the first phone using Android software and, by 2010, 17.2% of the handset market consisted of Android sales, overtaking Apple for the first time. Android became the world’s most popular mobile operating system shortly afterward.[9]

Assumption of CEO position at Google

Following a January 2011 announcement,[50] Page officially became the chief executive of Google on April 4, 2011, while Schmidt stepped down to become executive chairman.[51] By this time, Google had over $180 billion market capitalization and more than 24,000 employees.[52]

After Schmidt announced the end of his tenure as CEO on January 20, 2011, he jokingly tweeted on Twitter: “Adult-supervision no longer needed.” Quartz organizational management reporter, Max Nisen, described the decade prior to Page’s second appointment as Google’s CEO as his “lost decade.” While Page continued to exert a significant influence at Google during this time, overseeing product development and other operations, he became increasingly disconnected and less responsive over time.[9][49]

2011–2013

As Google’s new CEO, Page’s two key goals were the development of greater autonomy for the executives overseeing the most important divisions, and higher levels of collaboration, communication and unity among the teams. Page also formed what the media called the “L-Team,” a group of senior vice-presidents who reported directly to him and worked in close proximity to his office for a portion of the working week.[53] Additionally, he reorganized the company’s senior management, placing a CEO-like manager at the top of Google’s most important product divisions, including YouTube, AdWords, and Google Search.[9]

In accordance with a more cohesive team environment, Page declared a new “zero tolerance for fighting” policy that contrasted with his approach during the early days of Google, when he would use his harsh and intense arguments with Brin as an exemplar for senior management. Page had changed his thinking during his time away from the CEO role, as he eventually arrived at the conclusion that his greatly ambitious goals required a harmonious team dynamic. As part of Page’s collaborative rejuvenation process, Google’s products and applications were consolidated and underwent an aesthetic overhaul.[49][54]

Changes and consolidation process

At least 70 of Google’s products, features and services were eventually shut down by March 2013, while the appearance and nature of the remaining ones were unified.[55][56] Jon Wiley, lead designer of Google Search at the time, codenamed Page’s redesign overhaul, which officially commenced on April 4, 2011, “Project Kennedy,” based on Page’s use of the term “moonshots” to describe ambitious projects in a January 2013 Wired interview.[54][57] An initiative named “Kanna” previously attempted to create a uniform design aesthetic for Google’s range of products, but it was too difficult at that point in the company’s history for one team to drive such change. Matias Duarte, senior director of the Android user experience at the time that “Kennedy” started, explained in 2013 that “Google passionately cares about design.” Page proceeded to consult with the Google Creative Lab design team, based in New York City, to find an answer to his question of what a “cohesive vision” of Google might look like.[54]

The eventual results of “Kennedy,” which were progressively rolled out from June 2011 until January 2013, were described by The Verge technology publication as focused upon “refinement, white space, cleanliness, elasticity, usefulness, and most of all simplicity.” The final products were aligned with Page’s aim for a consistent suite of products that can “move fast,” and “Kennedy” was called a “design revolution” by Duarte. Page’s “UXA” (user/graphics interface) design team then emerged from the “Kennedy” project, tasked with “designing and developing a true UI framework that transforms Google’s application software into a beautiful, mature, accessible and consistent platform for its users.” Unspoken of in public, the small UXA unit was designed to ensure that “Kennedy” became an “institution.”[54]

Acquisition strategy and new products

When acquiring products and companies for Google, Page asked whether the business acquisition passed the toothbrush test as an initial qualifier, asking the question “Is it something you will use once or twice a day, and does it make your life better?”. This approach looked for usefulness above profitability, and long-term potential over near-term financial gain, which has been noted as rare in business acquiring processes.[58][59][60]

With Facebook’s influence rapidly expanding during the start of Page’s second tenure, he finally responded to the intensive competition with Google’s own social network, Google+, in mid-2011. After several delays, the social network was released through a very limited field test and was led by Vic Gundotra, Google’s then senior vice president of social.[61]

In August 2011, Page announced that Google would spend $12.5 billion to acquire Motorola Mobility.[62] The purchase was primarily motivated by Google’s need to secure patents to protect Android from lawsuits by companies including Apple Inc.[9] Page wrote on Google’s official blog on August 15, 2011 that “companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android. The United States Department of Justice had to intervene in the results of one recent patent auction to “protect competition and innovation in the open source software community”… Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies”.[63][64] In 2014, Page sold Motorola Mobility for $2.9 billion to Personal Computer maker, Lenovo which represented a loss in value of $9.5 billion over two years.[65]

Page also ventured into hardware and Google unveiled the Chromebook in May 2012. The hardware product was a laptop that ran on a Google operating system, Chrome OS.[66]

2013–2015

In January 2013, Page participated in a rare interview with Wired, in which writer Steven Levy discussed Page’s “10X” mentality—Google employees are expected to create products and services that are at least 10 times better than those of its competitors—in the introductory blurbAstro Teller, the head of Google X, explained to Levy that 10X is “just core to who he [Page] is,” while Page’s “focus is on where the next 10X will come from.”[57] In his interview with Levy, Page referred to the success of YouTube and Android as examples of “crazy” ideas that investors were not initially interested in, saying: “If you’re not doing some things that are crazy, then you’re doing the wrong things.”[57] Page also stated that he was “very happy” with the status of Google+, and discussed concerns over the Internet in relation to the SOPA bill and an International Telecommunication Union proposal that had been recently introduced:

… I do think the Internet’s under much greater attack than it has been in the past. Governments are now afraid of the Internet because of the Middle East stuff, and so they’re a little more willing to listen to what I see as a lot of commercial interests that just want to make money by restricting people’s freedoms. But they’ve also seen a tremendous user reaction, like the backlash against SOPA. I think that governments fight users’ freedoms at their own peril.[57]

At the May 2013 I/O developers conference in San Francisco, Page delivered a keynote address and said that “We’re at maybe 1% of what is possible. Despite the faster change, we’re still moving slow relative to the opportunities we have. I think a lot of that is because of the negativity … Every story I read is Google vs someone else. That’s boring. We should be focusing on building the things that don’t exist” and that he was “sad the Web isn’t advancing as fast as it should be” citing a perceived focus on negativity and zero sum games among some in the technology sector as a cause for that.[67] In response to an audience question, Page noted an issue that Google had been experiencing with Microsoft, whereby the latter made its Outlook program interoperable with Google, but did not allow for backward compatibility—he referred to Microsoft’s practice as “milking off.” During the question-and-answer section of his keynote, Page expressed interest in Burning Man, which Brin had previously praised—it was a motivating factor for the latter during Schmidt’s hiring process, as Brin liked that Schmidt had attended the week-long annual event.[9][68][69]

In September 2013, Page launched the independent Calico initiative, a R&D project in the field of biotechnology. Google announced that Calico seeks to innovate and make improvements in the field of human health, and appointed Art Levinson, chairman of Apple’s board and former CEO of Genentech, to be the new division’s CEO. Page’s official statement read: “Illness and aging affect all our families. With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives.”[70]

Page participated in a March 2014 TedX conference that was held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The presentation was scripted by Page’s chief PR executive Rachel Whetstone, and Google’s CMO Lorraine Twohill, and a demonstration of an artificially intelligent computer program was displayed on a large screen.[9] Page responded to a question about corporations, noting that corporations largely get a “bad rap”, which he stated was because they were probably doing the same incremental things they were doing “50 or 20 years ago”. He went on to juxtapose that kind of incremental approach to his vision of Google counteracting calcification through driving technology innovation at a high rate. Page mentioned Elon Musk and SpaceX:

He [Musk] wants to go to Mars to back up humanity. That’s a worthy goal. We have a lot of employees at Google who’ve become pretty wealthy. You’re working because you want to change the world and make it better … I’d like for us to help out more than we are.[71]

Page also mentioned Nikola Tesla with regard to invention and commercialization:

Invention is not enough. [Nikola] Tesla invented the electric power we use, but he struggled to get it out to people. [You have to] combine both things … invention and innovation focus, plus … a company that can really commercialize things and get them to people.[72]

Page announced a major management restructure in October 2014 so that he would no longer need to be responsible for day-to-day product-related decision making. In a memo, Page said that Google’s core businesses would be able to progress in a typical manner, while he could focus on the next generation of ambitious projects, including Google X initiatives; access and energy, including Google Fiber; smart-home automation through Nest Labs; and biotechnology innovations under Calico.[73] Page maintained that he would continue as the unofficial “chief product officer.”[56] Subsequent to the announcement, the executives in charge of Google’s core products reported to then Google Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai, who reported directly to Page.[73][74][75][76]

In a November 2014 interview, Page stated that he prioritized the maintenance of his “deep knowledge” of Google’s products and breadth of projects, as it had been a key motivating factor for team members. In relation to his then role as the company’s CEO, Page said: “I think my job as CEO—I feel like it’s always to be pushing people ahead.”[56]

On August 10, 2015, Page announced on Google’s official blog that Google had restructured into a number of subsidiaries of a new holding company known as Alphabet Inc with Page becoming CEO of Alphabet Inc and Sundar Pichai assuming the position of CEO of Google Inc. In his announcement, Page described the planned holding company as follows:[77]

Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies. The largest of which, of course, is Google. This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main Internet products contained in Alphabet instead. … Fundamentally, we believe this allows us more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related.

As well as explaining the origin of the company’s name:

We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search! We also like that it means alpha‑bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for!

Page wrote that the motivation behind the reorganization is to make Google “cleaner and more accountable.” He also wrote that there was a desire to improve “the transparency and oversight of what we’re doing,” and to allow greater control of unrelated companies previously within the Google ecosystem.[77][78][79]

Page has not been on any press conferences since 2015 and has not presented at product launches or earnings calls since 2013. The Bloomberg Businessweek termed the reorganization into Alphabet as a clever retirement plan allowing Page to retain control over Google, at the same time relinquishing all responsibilities over it. Executives at Alphabet describe Page as a “futurist”, highly detached from day-to-day business dealings and more focused on moon-shot projects. While some managers of Alphabet companies speak of Page as intensely involved, others say that his rare office check-ins are “akin to a royal visit”.[80]

2019

On December 3, 2019 Larry Page announced that he will step down from the position of Alphabet CEO and would be replaced by Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Pichai will also continue as Google CEO. Page and Google co-founder and Alphabet president Sergey Bryn announced the change in a joint blog post, “With Alphabet now well-established, and Google and the Other Bets operating effectively as independent companies, it’s the natural time to simplify our management structure. We’ve never been ones to hold on to management roles when we think there’s a better way to run the company. And Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a President.”[81]

Other interests

Page is an investor in Tesla Motors.[82] He has invested in renewable energy technology, and with the help of Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, promotes the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric cars[83][84][85][86] and other alternative energy investments.[87] He is also a strategic backer in the Opener startup which is developing aerial vehicles for consumer travel.[88]

Page is also interested in the socio-economic effects of advanced intelligent systems and how advanced digital technologies can be used to create abundance (as described in Peter Diamandis’ book), provide for people’s needs, shorten the workweek, and mitigate the potential detrimental effects of technological unemployment.[89][90]

Page also helped to set up Singularity University, a transhumanist think-tank.[91] Google is one of the institution’s corporate founders[92] and still funds scholarships at Singularity University.[93]

Personal life

In 2007, Page married Lucinda Southworth on Necker Island, the Caribbean island owned by Richard Branson.[94] Southworth is a research scientist and the sister of actress and model Carrie Southworth.[95] Page and Southworth have two children, born in 2009 and 2011.[96][97]

On February 18, 2005, Page bought a 9,000 square feet (840 m2Spanish Colonial Revival architecture house in Palo Alto, California designed by American artistic polymath Pedro Joseph de Lemos, a former curator of the Stanford Art Museum and founder of the Carmel Art Institute, after the historic building had been on the market for years with an asking price of US$7.95 million. A two-story stucco archway spans the driveway and the home features intricate stucco work, as well as stone and tile in California Arts and Crafts movement style built to resemble de Lemos’s family’s castle in Spain. The hacienda was constructed between 1931 and 1941 by de Lemos.[98][99][100][101][102] It is also on the National Register of Historic Places.[103]

Page’s superyacht ‘Senses’, docked in Helsinki

In 2009 Page began purchasing properties and tearing down homes adjacent to his home in Palo Alto to make room for a large ecohouse. The existing buildings were “deconstructed” and the materials donated for reuse. The ecohouse was designed to “minimize the impact on the environment.” Page worked with an arborist to replace some trees that were in poor health with others that used less water to maintain. Page also applied for Green Point Certification, with points given for use of recycled and low or no-VOC (volatile organic compound) materials and for a roof garden with solar panels. The house’s exterior features zinc cladding and plenty of windows, including a wall of sliding-glass doors in the rear. It includes eco-friendly elements such as permeable paving in the parking court and a pervious path through the trees on the property. The 6,000-square-foot (560m²) house also observes other green home design features such as organic architecture building materials and low volatile organic compound paint.[104][105][106][107]

In 2011, Page bought the $45-million 193-foot (59m) superyacht ‘Senses’, which is equipped with a helipad, gym, multi-level sun decks, ten luxury suites, a crew of 14 and interior design by French designer Philippe Starck.[108]‘Senses’ has extensive ocean exploration capabilities, the superyacht was created to explore the world’s oceans in comfort and it carries a comprehensive inventory of equipment for that purpose.[109] ‘Senses’ was built by Fr. Schweers Shipyard in (Germany) at their Berne shipyard. ‘Senses’ features a displacement steel hull and a steel/aluminium superstructure, with teak decks. ‘Senses’ is equipped with an ultra-modern stabilization system which reduces the free surface effect and results in a smoother cruising experience underway.[110]

Page announced on his Google+ profile in May 2013 that his right vocal cord is paralyzed from a cold that he contracted the previous summer, while his left cord was paralyzed in 1999.[111] Page explained that he has been suffering from a vocal cord issue for 14 years, and, as of his May 2013 post, doctors were unable to identify the exact cause. The Google+ post also revealed that Page had donated a considerable sum of money to a vocal-cord nerve-function research program at the Voice Health Institute in Boston, US. The program, at Massachusetts General Hospital, is led by Steven Zeitels, the Eugene B. Casey Professor of Laryngeal Surgery. An anonymous source stated that the donation exceeded $20 million.[112]

In October 2013, Business Insider reported that Page’s paralyzed vocal cords are caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and prevented him from undertaking Google quarterly earnings conference calls for an indefinite period.[113]

In November 2014, Page’s family foundation, the Carl Victor Page Memorial Fund, reportedly holding assets in excess of a billion dollars at the end of 2013, gave $15 million to aid the effort against the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa. Page wrote on his Google+ page that “My wife and I just donated $15 million … Our hearts go out to everyone affected.”[114][115][116][117]

Awards and accolades

1998–2009

  • PC Magazine has praised Google as among the Top 100 Web Sites and Search Engines (1998) and awarded Google the Technical Excellence Award for Innovation in Web Application Development in 1999. In 2000, Google earned a Webby Award, a People’s Voice Award for technical achievement, and in 2001, was awarded Outstanding Search Service, Best Image Search Engine, Best Design, Most Webmaster Friendly Search Engine, and Best Search Feature at the Search Engine Watch Awards.”[118]
  • In 2002, Page was named a World Economic Forum Global Leader for Tomorrow[citation needed] and along with Brin, was named by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Technology Review publication as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35, as part of its yearly TR100 listing (changed to “TR35” after 2005).[119]
  • In 2003, both Page and Brin received a MBA from IE Business School, in an honorary capacity, “for embodying the entrepreneurial spirit and lending momentum to the creation of new businesses.”[120]
  • In 2004, they received the Marconi Foundation‘s prize and were elected Fellows of the Marconi Foundation at Columbia University. In announcing their selection, John Jay Iselin, the Foundation’s president, congratulated the two men for “their invention that has fundamentally changed the way information is retrieved today.”.[121]
  • Page and Brin were also Award Recipients and National Finalists for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2003.[122]
  • Also in 2004, X PRIZE chose Page as a trustee of their board[123] and he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.[citation needed]
  • In 2005, Brin and Page were elected Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[124]
  • In 2008 Page received the Communication Award from King Felipe at the Princess of Asturias Awards on behalf of Google.[125]

2009–present

  • In 2009, Page received an honorary doctorate from the University of Michigan during a graduation commencement ceremony.[126] In 2011, he was ranked 24th on the Forbes list of billionaires, and as the 11th richest person in the U.S.[1]
  • In 2015, Page’s “Powerful People” profile on the Forbes site states that Google is “the most influential company of the digital era”.[127]
  • As of July 2014, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index lists Page as the 17th richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of $32.7 billion.[128]
  • At the completion of 2014, Fortune magazine named Page its “Businessperson of the Year,” declaring him “the world’s most daring CEO”.[129]
  • In October 2015, Page was named number one in Forbes‘ “America’s Most Popular Chief Executives”, as voted by Google’s employees.[130]
  • In August 2017, Page was awarded honorary citizenship of Agrigento, Italy.[131]

References …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Page

Sundar Pichai

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Sundar Pichai
Sundar Pichai (cropped).jpg
Born
Pichai Sundararajan

June 10, 1972 (age 47)

Alma mater Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur
Stanford University
The Wharton School
Salary US$1,881,066 (2018)US$1,333,557 (2017)[1]

US$199.7 million[2] (2016)

Title CEO of Google
Board member of
Spouse(s) Anjali Pichai
Children 2
Parents
  • Regunatha Pichai (father)
  • Lakshmi Pichai (mother)
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Pichai Sundararajan (born June 10, 1972[5]), also known as Sundar Pichai (/ˈsʊndɑːrpɪˈ/), is an Indian American business executive.[6] He is an engineer and the chief executive officer (CEO) of Google LLC.[7][8][9]Formerly the Product Chief of Google, Pichai’s current role was announced on August 10, 2015, as part of the restructuring process that made Alphabet Inc. into Google’s parent company,[10] and he assumed the position on October 2, 2015.[11] On December 3, 2019, he became the CEO of Alphabet Inc.[12]

Early life and education

Pichai was born in MaduraiTamil Nadu, India.[13][14] His mother Lakshmi was a stenographer and his father, Regunatha Pichai was an electrical engineer at GEC, the British conglomerate. His father also had a manufacturing plant that produced electrical components.[15][16] Pichai grew up in a two-room apartment in Ashok NagarChennai.[15]

Pichai completed schooling in Jawahar Vidyalaya, a Central Board of Secondary Education school in Ashok Nagar, Chennai and completed the Class XII from Vana Vani school in the Indian Institute of Technology Madras.[17][18] He earned his degree from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur in metallurgical engineering and is a distinguished alumnus from that institution.[19] He holds an M.S. from Stanford University in material sciences and engineering, and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania,[20] where he was named a Siebel Scholar and a Palmer Scholar, respectively.[21][22]

Career

Pichai speaking at the 2015 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain

Pichai worked in engineering and product management at Applied Materials and in management consulting at McKinsey & Company.[23] Pichai joined Google in 2004, where he led the product management and innovation efforts for a suite of Google’s client software products, including Google Chrome[24] and Chrome OS, as well as being largely responsible for Google Drive. He went on to oversee the development of other applications such as Gmail and Google Maps.[25][26] On November 19, 2009, Pichai gave a demonstration of Chrome OS; the Chromebook was released for trial and testing in 2011, and released to the public in 2012.[27] On May 20, 2010, he announced the open-sourcing of the new video codec VP8 by Google and introduced the new video format, WebM.[28]

On March 13, 2013, Pichai added Android to the list of Google products that he oversees. Android was formerly managed by Andy Rubin.[29] He was a director of Jive Software from April 2011 to July 30, 2013.[30][31][32] Pichai was selected to become the next CEO of Google on August 10, 2015[10] after previously being appointed Product Chief by CEO, Larry Page. On October 24, 2015 he stepped into the new position at the completion of the formation of Alphabet Inc., the new holding company for the Google company family.[11][32][33]

Pichai had been suggested as a contender for Microsoft‘s CEO in 2014, a position that was eventually given to Satya Nadella.[34][35]

In August 2017, Pichai drew publicity for firing a Google employee who wrote a ten-page manifesto criticizing the company’s diversity policies and arguing that “distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and … these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership”.[36][37][38][39] While noting that the manifesto raised a number of issues that are open to debate, Pichai said in a memo to Google employees that “to suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK”.[40]

In December 2017, Pichai was a speaker at the World Internet Conference in China, where he stated that “a lot of work Google does is to help Chinese companies. There are many small and medium-sized businesses in China who take advantage of Google to get their products to many other countries outside of China.”[41][42]

U.S. Congress testimony

On December 11, 2018, Pichai testified before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on a wide range of Google-related issues such as the alleged, potential political bias on Google’s platforms, the company’s plans for a censored search app in China, and its privacy practices.[43] Pichai, in response, stated that Google employees cannot influence search results. He also stated that Google users can opt out of having gheir data collected and that “there are no current plans for a censored search engine” in China.[44] Wireds Issie Lapowsky characterized Pichai’s appearance before the committee as one “major missed opportunity,” since, as he wrote, its members “staked out opposite sides of a partisan battle,” and presented to the public “a foreboding reminder of Congress’s continued technological ignorance.”[45]

Personal life

Pichai is married to Anjali Pichai and has two children.[8] Pichai’s interests include football and cricket.[46][47]

References…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sundar_Pichai

Story 3: Going, Going, Gone — Kamala Harris — Videos

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‘One of the hardest decisions of my life’: Kamala Harris ends once-promising campaign

The California senator took a deep look at the campaign’s resources over the holiday and decided she did not have a path to the nomination.

Harris told aides of her intentions in an all-staff call on Tuesday, and a person familiar with the conversation said she sounded distraught. While Harris had qualified for the December debate in her home state later this month, she was running dangerously low on cash — lacking the resources to air TV ads in Iowa — and her staff was gripped by long-running internal turmoil.

“I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life. My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue .”

Harris, who spent Thanksgiving in Iowa with family, took a deep look at the campaign’s resources over the holiday and decided she did not have a path to the nomination. A Harris campaign aide said the expected impeachment trial in January further complicated the situation.

She made the decision Monday after discussions with her family and senior aides. Harris will travel to the early states this week to thank staff and supporters for their dedication to the campaign.

The senator did not bow out without taking a parting shot at her billionaire and self-funding rivals who made late entrances into the race this summer and fall.

“I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign,” Harris said in a video explaining her decision to drop out. “And as the campaign has gone on, it has become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete. In good faith, I can’t tell you, my supporters and volunteers, that I have a path forward if I don’t believe I do.”

Her candidacy got one of its first major breaks in the first Democratic debate in June, when Harris pulled off a blistering ambush of former Vice President Joe Biden over his previous stance on busing, which prompted another review of his record on race issues. Harris’ performance sent her soaring in the polls, and the campaign raised $2 million in the 24 hours following the debate.

But the attack ultimately blew back on Harris when her own stance on busing came under scrutiny in the days after. Her sharp rise in the polls did not last long, with Harris skidding into fifth place and registering in the single digits by September. When she dropped out Tuesday, her RealClearPolitics national polling average was hovering just above 3 percent.

Throughout the campaign, Harris had never been steady on health care, many voters’ stated key issue. Harris spent months backtracking following an ill-fated moment in a CNN town hall in which she said, “let’s eliminate all that,” when asked whether she supported a health care plan that got rid of private insurance.

Her stumbles on the issue continued into the fall, as Harris waffled on whether she backed the kind of single-payer, “Medicare for All” plan championed by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, or more incremental change, an opening her opponents seized on.

In addition to health care, voters complained that they were unable to pin Harris down on a host of other issues. And Harris shied away some from what could have been one of her greatest strengths — her time spent as a prosecutor and attorney general in California — as her prosecutorial record became a liability with a Democratic base that has turned sharply left on issues of criminal justice.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a low-polling Democratic wildcard, weaponized Harris’ prosecutorial record against her in a later debate, lambasting Harris with a set of somewhat misleading and out-of-context accusations. But Harris did not mount a full-throated defense in the moment, only reiterating that she was proud of her time as a prosecutor.

The campaign also struggled to bring in small-dollar donations, creating a greater reliance on the kind of big-money fundraisers some of Harris’ rivals have sworn off, and resulting in less-than-savory headlines about small controversies like her initial plan to skip a climate change town hall in favor of a fundraiser. (Harris later said she was unaware of the scheduling conflict, and attended the town hall.)

Harris further struggled with the question of electability — concerns that have also gripped other competitors in the historically diverse field — as she addressed voters afraid the country might not be ready for a female president of color. From the earliest days of the campaign, Harris was subject to conspiracy theories that ricocheted around social media, even giving way to a reprisal of the same birtherism smears that plagued former President Barack Obama.

In the spring, prior to Harris’ debate stage spat with Biden, she was forced to deftly maneuver suggestions from fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus that her becoming Biden’s running mate would make for a “dream ticket.” After the debate, Harris allies ripped the Biden campaign for suggesting that she let her ambition get the best of her in leveling the busing broadside.

Still, she was unable to make significant inroads with black voters, a key Democratic voting bloc, in the same way that Biden has, despite running neck and neck with the former vice president in endorsements from members of the CBC.

Recent weeks have carried numerous warning signs of a derailed campaign, with Harris abruptly shuttering much of the campaign’s New Hampshire operation as the senator focused squarely on Iowa. She laid off staff rather than recalibrating her resources and hoped a top-three finish in Iowa could propel her to a win in South Carolina.

Harris’ financial struggles likely would have been compounded by the possibility of an impeachment trial in the beginning of the year, which will keep her and her fellow rivals in the Senate in Washington and off the campaign trail in the crucial weeks leading up to the Iowa caucuses and potentially even the New Hampshire primary.

But in her video message Tuesday, Harris pledged to stay in the fight against Trump.

“I want to be clear,” she said. “Although I am no longer running for president, I will do everything in my power to defeat Donald Trump and fight for the future of our country and the best of who we are. I know you will too. So let’s do that together.”

https://www.politico.com/news/2019/12/03/kamala-harris-drops-out-out-of-presidential-race-074902

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1361, November 18, 2019, Story 1: Bolivia Victim of A Military Coup? After 14 Years in Power President Evo Morales Resigns and Flees To Mexico — Videos — Story 2: Democrat Trump Madness Should End Thursday After Attempted Second Coup Fails To Gain American People’s Support — No Evidence President Trump Did Anything Improper — No Crime — No Real Witnesses — Feelings, Hearsay, Opinions — Not Evidence — Big Lie Media — Videos — Story 3: Protests in Hong Kong –Videos

Posted on November 26, 2019. Filed under: 2020 Democrat Candidates, 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Blogroll, Bolivia, Breaking News, Bribery, Bribes, Business, College, Communications, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Donald J. Trump, Fifth Amendment, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, House of Representatives, Second Amendment, Senate, Spying on American People, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Terror, Terrorism, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Unemployment, United States Constitution, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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Story 1: Bolivia Victim of A Military Coup? Morales Resigns and Flees To Mexico — Videos —

What Is A Coup d’État And How Common Are They?

Turkey’s failed military coup, explained

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Is Bolivia’s Evo Morales the victim of a coup? | UpFront (Feature)

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Evo Morales resigns: Is Bolivia facing a coup d’etat?

Police join protesters as Bolivia’s president calls it ‘coup attempt’

Evo Morales

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Evo Morales
Morales looking to the side

Morales in 2017
President of Bolivia
In office
January 22, 2006 – November 10, 2019[a]
Vice President Álvaro García Linera
Preceded by Eduardo Rodríguez
Succeeded by Jeanine Áñez (interim)
President pro tempore of CELAC
In role
January 14, 2019 – November 10, 2019
Preceded by Salvador Sánchez Cerén
Succeeded by Position vacant
President pro tempore of UNASUR
In role
April 17, 2018 – April 16, 2019
Preceded by Mauricio Macri
Succeeded by Position vacant
Leader of the Movement for Socialism
Assumed office
January 1, 1998
Preceded by Party established
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
for Cochabamba
In office
August 6, 1997 – January 24, 2002
Personal details
Born
Juan Evo Morales Ayma

October 26, 1959 (age 60)
Isallavi, Bolivia

Political party Movement for Socialism
Children 2
Parents Dionisio Morales Choque
María Ayma Mamani
Residence Mexico City
Signature
Military service
Allegiance Bolivia Bolivia
Branch/service Logo del Ejército de Bolivia..jpg Bolivian Army
Years of service 1977–1978
Unit Fourth Ingavi Cavalry Regiment

Juan Evo Morales Ayma (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈeβo moˈɾales]; born October 26, 1959) is a Bolivian politician and former cocalero activist who served as the President of Bolivia from 2006 to 2019. Widely regarded as the country’s first president to come from the indigenous population,[b] his administration focused on the implementation of leftist policies, poverty reduction, and combating the influence of the United States and multinational corporations in Bolivia. A socialist, he is the head of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party.

Born to an Aymara family of subsistence farmers in Isallawi, Orinoca Canton, Morales undertook a basic education before mandatory military service, in 1978 moving to Chapare Province. Growing coca and becoming a trade unionist, he rose to prominence in the campesino (“rural laborers”) union. In that capacity, he campaigned against U.S. and Bolivian attempts to eradicate coca as part of the War on Drugs, denouncing these as an imperialist violation of indigenous Andean culture. His involvement in anti-government direct action protests resulted in multiple arrests. Morales entered electoral politics in 1995, became the leader of the MAS, and was elected to Congress in 1997. Coupled with populist rhetoric, his campaign focused on issues affecting indigenous and poor communities, advocating land reform, and the redistribution of gas wealth. He gained increased visibility through the Cochabamba Water Protests and gas conflict. In 2002, he was expelled from Congress for encouraging anti-government protesters, although he came second in that year’s presidential election.

Once elected in 2005, Morales increased taxation on the hydrocarbon industry to bolster social spending and emphasized projects to combat illiteracy, poverty, racism, and sexism. Vocally criticizing neoliberalism and reducing Bolivia’s dependence on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, his administration oversaw strong economic growth while following a policy termed “Evonomics” which sought to move from a liberal economic approach to a mixed economy. Scaling back U.S. influence in the country, he built relationships with leftist governments in the Latin American pink tide and signed Bolivia into the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. Attempting to moderate the left-indigenous activist community, his administration also opposed the right-wing autonomist demands of Bolivia’s eastern provinces. Winning a recall referendum in 2008, he instituted a new constitution that established Bolivia as a plurinational state and was re-elected in 2009. His second term witnessed the continuation of leftist policies and Bolivia’s joining of the Bank of the South and Community of Latin American and Caribbean States; he was again reelected in the 2014 general election. Following the disputed 2019 general election and the ensuing unrestMorales agreed to military calls for his resignation. He was then granted political asylum in Mexico.

Morales has been praised for unprecedented economic growth, significantly reducing poverty and illiteracy in Bolivia and has been internationally decorated with various awards. His supporters have lauded him as a champion of indigenous rights, that were enshrined in the constitution, anti-imperialism, and environmentalism. Alternately, a number of leftist, indigenous, and environmentalist critics have accused him of failing to live up to many of his espoused values, and opponents have accused him of being excessively radical and authoritarian and have claimed that his defence of coca contributes to illegal cocaine production.

Early life and activism

Childhood, education, and military service: 1959–78

Aymara in traditional dress (left); Poopó Lake was the dominant geographical feature around Morales’s home village of Isallawi (right).[9]

Morales was born in the small rural village of Isallawi in Orinoca Canton, part of western Bolivia’s Oruro Department, on October 26, 1959 to a family from the indigenous Aymara people.[10][11] One of seven children born to Dionisio Morales Choque and his wife María Ayma Mamani,[12] only he and two siblings, Esther and Hugo, survived past childhood.[13] His mother almost died from a postpartum haemorrhage following his birth.[9] In keeping with Aymara custom, his father buried the placenta produced after his birth in a place specially chosen for the occasion.[9] His childhood home was a traditional adobe house,[14] and he grew up speaking the Aymara language, although later commentators would remark that by the time he had become president he was no longer an entirely fluent speaker.[15]

Morales’s family were farmers; from an early age, he helped them to plant and harvest crops and guard their herd of llamas and sheep, taking a homemade soccer ball to amuse himself.[16] As a toddler, he briefly attended Orinoca’s preparatory school, and at five began schooling at the single-room primary school in Isallawi.[17] Aged 6, he spent six months in northern Argentina with his sister and father. There, Dionisio harvested sugar cane while Evo sold ice cream and briefly attended a Spanish-language school.[18] As a child, he regularly traveled on foot to Arani province in Cochabamba with his father and their llamas, a journey lasting up to two weeks, in order to exchange salt and potatoes for maize and coca. [19] A big fan of soccer, at age 13 he organised a community soccer team with himself as team captain. Within two years, he was elected training coach for the whole region, and thus gained early experience in leadership.[20]

After finishing primary education, Morales attended the Agrarian Humanistic Technical Institute of Orinoca (ITAHO), completing all but the final year.[21] His parents then sent him to study for a degree in Oruro; although he did poorly academically, he finished all of his courses and exams by 1977, earning money on the side as a brick-maker, day labourer, baker and a trumpet player for the Royal Imperial Band. The latter position allowed him to travel across Bolivia.[22] At the end of his higher education he failed to collect his degree certificate.[21] Although interested in studying journalism, he did not pursue it as a profession.[23] Morales served his mandatory military service in the Bolivian army from 1977 to 1978. Initially signed up at the Centre for Instruction of Special Troops (CITE) in Cochabamba, he was sent into the Fourth Ingavi Cavalry Regiment and stationed at the army headquarters in the Bolivian capital La Paz.[24] These two years were one of Bolivia’s politically most unstable periods, with five presidents and two military coups, led by General Juan Pereda and General David Padilla respectively; under the latter’s regime, Morales was stationed as a guard at the Palacio Quemado (Presidential Palace).[25]

Early cocalero activism: 1978–83

Following his military service, Morales returned to his family, who had escaped the agricultural devastation of 1980’s El Niño storm cycle by relocating to the Tropics of Cochabamba in the eastern lowlands.[26] Setting up home in the town of Villa 14 de Septiembre, El Chapare, using a loan from Morales’s maternal uncle, the family cleared a plot of land in the forest to grow rice, oranges, grapefruit, papaya, bananas and later on coca.[27] It was here that Morales learned to speak Quechua, the indigenous local language.[28] The arrival of the Morales family was a part of a much wider migration to the region; in 1981 El Chapare’s population was 40,000 but by 1988 it had risen to 215,000. Many Bolivians hoped to set up farms where they could earn a living growing coca, which was experiencing a steady rise in price and which could be cultivated up to four times a year; a traditional medicinal and ritual substance in Andean culture, it was also sold abroad as the key ingredient in cocaine.[29] Morales joined the local soccer team, before founding his own team, New Horizon, which proved victorious at the August 2 Central Tournament.[29] The El Chapare region remained special to Morales for many years to come; during his presidency he often talked of it in speeches and regularly visited.[30]

Morales policy was “Coca Yes, Cocaine No”. A Bolivian man holding a coca leaf, (left); Coca tea, traditional infusion of Andean culture (right).

In El Chapare, Morales joined a trade union of cocaleros (coca growers), being appointed local Secretary of Sports. Organizing soccer tournaments, among union members he earned the nickname of “the young ball player” because of his tendency to organize matches during meeting recesses.[29] Influenced in joining the union by wider events, in 1980 the far-right General Luis García Meza had seized power in a military coup, banning other political parties and declaring himself president; for Morales, a “foundational event in his relationship with politics” occurred in 1981, when a campesino (coca grower) was accused of cocaine trafficking by soldiers, beaten up, and burned to death.[31] In 1982 the leftist Hernán Siles Zuazo and the Democratic and Popular Union (Unidad Democrática y Popular – UDP) took power in representative democratic elections, before implementing neoliberal capitalist reforms and privatizing much of the state sector with US support; hyperinflation came under control, but unemployment rose to 25%.[32] Becoming increasingly active in the union, from 1982 to 1983, Morales served as the General Secretary of his local San Francisco syndicate.[33] However, in 1983, Morales’s father Dionisio died, and although he missed the funeral he temporarily retreated from his union work to organize his father’s affairs.[34]

Fighting their War on Drugs, the U.S. government hoped to stem the cocaine trade by preventing the production of coca; they pressured the Bolivian government to eradicate it, sending troops to Bolivia to aid the operation.[35] Bolivian troops would burn coca crops and in many cases beat up coca growers who challenged them.[36] Angered by this, Morales returned to cocalero campaigning; like many of his comrades, he refused the US$2,500 compensation offered by the government for each acre of coca he eradicated. Deeply embedded in Bolivian culture, the campesinos had an ancestral relationship with coca and did not want to lose their most profitable means of subsistence. For them, it was an issue of national sovereignty, with the U.S. viewed as imperalists; activists regularly proclaimed “Long live coca! Death to the Yankees!” (“Causachun coca! Wañuchun yanquis!“).[33]

General Secretary of the Cocalero Union: 1984–94

The Wiphala, flag of the Aymara.

From 1984 to 1985 Morales served as Secretary of Records for the movement,[33] and in 1985 he became General Secretary of the August Second Headquarters.[33] From 1984 to 1991 the sindicatos embarked on a series of protests against the forced eradication of coca by occupying local government offices, setting up roadblocks, going on hunger strike, and organizing mass marches and demonstrations.[37] Morales was personally involved in this direct activism and in 1984 was present at a roadblock where 3 campesinos were killed.[38] In 1988, Morales was elected to the position of Executive Secretary of the Federation of the Tropics.[33] In 1989 he spoke at a one-year commemoratory event of the Villa Tunari massacre in which 11 coca farmers had been killed by agents of the Rural Area Mobile Patrol Unit (Unidad Móvil Policial para Áreas Rurales – UMOPAR).[38] The following day, UMOPAR agents beat Morales up, leaving him in the mountains to die, but he was rescued by other union members.[39] To combat this violence, Morales concluded that an armed cocalero militia could launch a guerrilla war against the government, but he was soon persuaded on an electoral path to change instead.[40] In 1992, he made various international trips to champion the cocalero cause, speaking at a conference in Cuba,[41] and also traveling to Canada, during which he learned of his mother’s death.[42]

In his speeches, Morales presented the coca leaf as a symbol of Andean culture that was under threat from the imperialist oppression of the U.S. In his view, the U.S. should deal with their domestic cocaine abuse problems without interfering in Bolivia, arguing that they had no right trying to eliminate coca, a legitimate product with many uses which played a rich role in Andean culture.[43] In a speech on this issue, Morales told reporters “I am not a drug trafficker. I am a coca grower. I cultivate coca leaf, which is a natural product. I do not refine (it into) cocaine, and neither cocaine nor drugs have ever been part of the Andean culture.”[6] On another, he asserted that “We produce our coca, we bring it to the main markets, we sell it and that’s where our responsibility ends.”[44]

Morales presented the coca growers as victims of a wealthy, urban social elite who had bowed to U.S. pressure by implementing neoliberal economic reforms.[43] He argued that these reforms were to the detriment of Bolivia’s majority, and thus the country’s representative democratic system of governance failed to reflect the true democratic will of the majority.[43] This situation was exacerbated following the 1993 general election when the centrist Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario – MNR) won the election and Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada became President. He adopted a policy of “shock therapy“, implementing economic liberalization and widescale privatization of state-owned assets.[45] Sánchez also agreed with the U.S. DEA to relaunch its offensive against the Bolivian coca growers, committing Bolivia to eradicating 12,500 acres (5,100 ha) of coca by March 1994 in exchange for $20 million worth of US aid, something Morales claimed would be opposed by the cocalero movement.[46]

In August 1994 Morales was arrested; reporters present at the scene witnessed him being beaten and accosted with racial slurs by civil agents. Accused of sedition, in jail he began a dry hunger strike to protest his arrest.[47] The following day, 3000 campesinos began a 360-mile (580 km) march from Villa Tunari to La Paz. Morales would be freed on September 7, and soon joined the march, which arrived at its destination on September 19, where they covered the city with political graffiti.[48] He was again arrested in April 1995 during a sting operation that rounded up those at a meeting of the Andean Council of Coca Producers that he was chairing on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Accusing the group of plotting a coup with the aid of Colombia’s FARC and Peru’s Shining Path, a number of his comrades were tortured, although no evidence of a coup was brought forth and he was freed within a week.[49] He proceeded to Argentina to attend a seminar on liberation struggles.[50]

Political rise

The ASP, IPSP, and MAS: 1995–99

Members of the sindicato social movement first suggested a move into the political arena in 1986. This was controversial, with many fearing that politicians would co-opt the movement for personal gain.[51] Morales began supporting the formation of a political wing in 1989, although a consensus in favor of its formation only emerged in 1993.[52] On March 27, 1995, at the 7th Congress of the Unique Confederation of Rural Laborers of Bolivia (Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia – CSUTCB), a “political instrument” (a term employed over “political party”) was formed, named the Assembly for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (Asamblea por la Sobernía de los Pueblos – ASP).[53] At the ASP’s 1st Congress, the CSUTCB participated alongside three other Bolivian unions, representing miners, peasants and indigenous peoples.[52] In 1996, Morales was appointed chairman of the Committee of the Six Federations of the Tropics of Cochabamba, a position that he retained until 2006.[54]

Bolivia’s National Electoral Court (Corte Nacional Electoral – CNE) refused to recognize the ASP, citing minor procedural infringements.[52] The coca activists circumvented this problem by running under the banner of the United Left (IU), a coalition of leftist parties headed by the Communist Party of Bolivia (Partido Comunista Boliviano – PCB).[55] They won landslide victories in those areas which were local strongholds of the movement, producing 11 mayors and 49 municipal councilors.[52] Morales was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in the National Congress as a representative for El Chapare, having secured 70.1% of the local vote.[54] In the national elections of 1997, the IU/ASP gained four seats in Congress, obtaining 3.7% of the national vote, with this rising to 17.5% in the department of Cochabamba.[56] The election resulted in the establishment of a coalition government led by the right-wing Nationalist Democratic Action (Acción Democrática Nacionalista – ADN), with Hugo Banzer as President; Morales lambasted him as “the worst politician in Bolivian history”.[57]

MAS-IPSP partisans celebrate the 16th anniversary of the IPSP party’s founding in SacabaCochabamba.

Rising electoral success was accompanied by factional in-fighting, with a leadership contest emerging in the ASP between the incumbent Alejo Véliz and Morales, who had the electoral backing of the social movement’s bases.[56] The conflict led to a schism, with Morales and his supporters splitting to form their own party, the Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (Instrumento Político por la Soberanía de los Pueblos – IPSP).[58] The movement’s bases defected en masse to the IPSP, leaving the ASP to crumble and Véliz to join the centre-right New Republican Force (Nueva Fuerza Republicana – NFR), for which Morales denounced him as a traitor to the cocalero cause.[59] Continuing his activism, in 1998 Morales led another cocalero march from El Chapare to la Paz,[60] and came under increasing criticism from the government, who repeatedly accused him of being involved in the cocaine trade and mocked him for how he spoke and his lack of education.[61]

Morales came to an agreement with David Añez Pedraza, the leader of a defunct yet still registered party named the Movement for Socialism (MAS); under this agreement, Morales and the Six Federaciónes could take over the party name, with Pendraza stipulating the condition that they must maintain its own acronym, name and colors. Thus the defunct right wing MAS became the flourishing left wing vehicle for the coca activist movement known as the Movement for Socialism – Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples.[62] The MAS would come to be described as “an indigenous-based political party that calls for the nationalization of industry, legalization of the coca leaf … and fairer distribution of national resources.”[63] The party lacked the finance available to the mainstream parties, and so relied largely on the work of volunteers in order to operate.[64] It was not structured like other political parties, instead operating as the political wing of the social movement, with all tiers in the movement involved in decision making; this form of organisation would continue until 2004.[65] In the December 1999 municipal elections, the MAS secured 79 municipal council seats and 10 mayoral positions, gaining 3.27% of the national vote, although 70% of the vote in Cochabamba.[62]

Cochabamba protests: 2000–02

In 2000, the Tunari Waters corporation doubled the price at which they sold water to Bolivian consumers, resulting in a backlash from leftist activist groups, including the cocaleros. Activists clashed with police and armed forces, in what was dubbed “the Water War“, resulting in 6 dead and 175 wounded. Responding to the violence, the government removed the contract from Tunari and placed the utility under cooperative control.[66] In ensuing years further violent protests broke out over a range of issues, resulting in more deaths both among activists and law enforcement. Much of this unrest was connected with the widespread opposition to economic liberalization across Bolivian society, with a common perception that it only benefited a small minority.[67]

In the Andean High Plateau, a cocalero group launched a guerrilla uprising under the leadership of Felipe Quispe; an ethnic separatist, he and Morales disliked each other, with Quispe considering Morales to be a traitor and an opportunist for his willingness to cooperate with White Bolivians.[68] Morales had not taken a leading role in these protests, but did use them to get across his message that the MAS was not a single-issue party, and that rather than simply fighting for the rights of the cocalero it was arguing for structural change to the political system and a redefinition of citizenship in Bolivia.[69]

Evo Morales (right) with French labor union leader José Bové in 2002

In August 2001, Banzer resigned due to terminal illness, and Jorge Quiroga took over as President.[70] Under U.S. pressure, Quiroga sought to have Morales expelled from Congress. To do so, he claimed that Morales’s inflammatory language had caused the deaths of two police officers in Sacaba near Cochabamba, however was unable to provide any evidence of Morales’s culpability. 140 deputies voted for Morales’s expulsion, which came about in 2002. Morales asserted that it “was a trial against Aymara and Quechas”, [71] while MAS activists interpreted it as evidence of the pseudo-democratic credentials of the political class.[72]

The MAS gained increasing popularity as a protest party, relying largely on widespread dissatisfaction with the existing mainstream political parties among Bolivians living in rural and poor urban areas.[73] Morales recognized this, and much of his discourse focused on differentiating the MAS from the traditional political class.[74] Their campaign was successful, and in the 2002 presidential election the MAS gained 20.94% of the national vote, becoming Bolivia’s second largest party, being only 1.5% behind the victorious MNR, whose candidate, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, became President.[75] They won 8 seats in the Senate and 27 in the Chamber of Deputies.[76] Now the leader of the political opposition, Morales focused on criticising government policies rather than outlining alternatives. He had several unconstructive meetings with Lozada, but met with Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez for the first time.[77]

Bolivia’s U.S. embassy had become publicly highly critical of Morales; just prior to the election, the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia Manuel Rocha issued a statement declaring that U.S. aid to Bolivia would be cut if MAS won the election. However, exit polls revealed that Rocha’s comments had served to increase support for Morales.[78] Following the election, the U.S. embassy maintained this critical stance, characterising Morales as a criminal and encouraging Bolivia’s traditional parties to sign a broad agreement to oppose the MAS; Morales himself began alleging that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was plotting to assassinate him.[79]

Rise to power: 2003–05[edit]

Graffiti roughly translating into “Gas is not for sale, dammit!”, with an indigenous woman in the foreground.

In 2003, the Bolivian gas conflict broke out as activists – including coca growers – protested against the privatization of the country’s natural gas supply and its sale to U.S. companies below the market value. Activists blocked off the road into La Paz, resulting in clashes with police. 80 were killed and 411 injured, among them officers, activists, and civilians, including children.[80] Morales did not take an active role in the conflict, instead traveling to Libya and Switzerland, there describing the uprising as a “peaceful revolution in progress.”[81] The government accused Morales and the MAS of using the protests to overthrow Bolivia’s parliamentary democracy with the aid of organised crime, FARC, and the far-left governments of Venezuela, Cuba, and Libya.[82]

Morales led calls for President Sánchez de Lozada to step down over the death toll, gaining widespread support from the MAS, other activist groups, and the middle classes; with pressure building, Sánchez resigned and fled to MiamiFlorida.[83] He was replaced by Carlos Mesa, who tried to strike a balance between U.S. and cocalero demands, but whom Morales mistrusted.[84] In November, Morales spent 24 hours with Cuban President Fidel Castro in Havana,[85] and then met Argentinian President Nestor Kirchner.[86] In the 2004 municipal election, the MAS became the country’s largest national party, with 28.6% of all councilors in Bolivia. However, they had failed to win the mayoralty in any big cities, reflecting their inability to gain widespread support among the urban middle-classes.[87] In Bolivia’s wealthy Santa Cruz region, a strong movement for autonomy had developed under the leadership of the Pro Santa Cruz Committee (Comite Pro Santa Cruz). Favorable to neoliberal economics and strongly critical of the cocaleros, they considered armed insurrection to secede from Bolivia should MAS take power.[88]

In March 2005, Mesa resigned, citing the pressure of Morales and the cocalero road blocks and riots.[89] Amid fears of civil war,[90] Eduardo Rodríguez became President of a transitional government, preparing Bolivia for a general election in December 2005.[91] Hiring the Peruvian Walter Chávez as its campaign manager, the MAS electoral campaign was based on Salvador Allende‘s successful campaign in the 1970 Chilean presidential election.[92] Measures were implemented to institutionalize the party structure, giving it greater independence from the social movement; this was done to allow Morales and other MAS leaders to respond quickly to new developments without the lengthy process of consulting the bases, and to present a more moderate image away from the bases’ radicalism.[93] Although he had initially hoped for a female running mate, Morales eventually chose Marxist intellectual Álvaro García Linera as his Vice Presidential candidate,[94] with some Bolivian press speculating as to a romantic relationship between the two.[95] MAS’ primary opponent was Jorge Quiroga and his center-right Social and Democratic Power, whose campaign was centered in Santa Cruz and which advocated continued neo-liberal reform; Quiroga accused Morales of promoting the legalization of cocaine and being a puppet for Venezuela.[96]

With a turnout of 84.5%, the election saw Morales gain 53.7% of the vote, while Quiroga came second with 28.6%; Morales’s was the first victory with an absolute majority in Bolivia for 40 years.[97] Given that he was the sixth self-described leftist president to be elected in Latin America since 1998, his victory was identified as part of the broader regional pink tide.[98] Becoming president elect, Morales was widely described as Bolivia’s first indigenous leader, at a time when around 62% of the population identified as indigenous; political analysts therefore drew comparisons with the election of Nelson Mandela to the South African Presidency in 1994.[99] This resulted in widespread excitement among the approximately 40 million indigenous people in the Americas, particularly those of Bolivia.[100] However, his election caused concern among the country’s wealthy and landowning classes, who feared state expropriation and nationalisation of their property, as well as far-right groups, who claimed it would spark a race war.[100] He traveled to Cuba to spend time with Castro, before going to Venezuela, and then on tour to Europe, China, and South Africa; significantly, he avoided the U.S.[101] In January 2006, Morales attended an indigenous spiritual ceremony at Tiwanaku where he was crowned Apu Mallku (Supreme Leader) of the Aymara, receiving gifts from indigenous peoples across Latin America. He thanked the goddess Pachamama for his victory and proclaimed that “With the unity of the people, we’re going to end the colonial state and the neo-liberal model.”[102]

Presidency

First presidential term: 2006–09

Evo Morales in 2006

In the world there are large and small countries, rich countries and poor countries, but we are equal in one thing, which is our right to dignity and sovereignty.

— Evo Morales, Inaugural Speech, 22 January 2006.[103]

Morales’s inauguration took place on January 22 in La Paz. It was attended by various heads of state, including Argentina’s Kirchner, Venezuela’s Chávez, Brazil’s Lula da Silva, and Chile’s Ricardo Lagos.[104] Morales wore an Andeanized suit designed by fashion designer Beatriz Canedo Patiño,[105] and gave a speech that included a minute silence in memory of cocaleros and indigenous activists killed in the struggle.[104] He condemned Bolivia’s former “colonial” regimes, likening them to South Africa under apartheid and stating that the MAS’ election would lead to a “refoundation” of the country, a term that the MAS consistently used over “revolution”.[106] Morales repeated these views in his convocation of the Constituent Assembly.[107]

In taking office, Morales emphasized nationalism, anti-imperialism, and anti-neoliberalism, although did not initially refer to his administration as socialist.[108] In what was widely termed a populist act, he immediately reduced both his own presidential wage and that of his ministers by 57% to $1,875 a month, also urging members of Congress to do the same.[109][110][111] Morales gathered together a largely inexperienced cabinet made up of indigenous activists and leftist intellectuals,[112] although over the first three years of government there was a rapid turnover in the cabinet as Morales replaced many of the indigenous members with trained middle-class leftist politicians.[113] By 2012 only 3 of the 20 cabinet members identified as indigenous.[114]

Economic program

At Morales’s election, Bolivia was South America’s poorest nation.[115] Morales’s government did not initiate fundamental change to Bolivia’s economic structure,[116] and in their National Development Plan (PDN) for 2006–10, adhered largely to the country’s previous liberal economic model.[117] Bolivia’s economy was based largely on the extraction of natural resources, with the nation having South America’s second largest reserves of natural gas.[118] As per his election pledge, Morales took increasing state control of this hydrocarbon industry with Supreme Decree 2870; previously, corporations paid 18% of their profits to the state, but Morales symbolically reversed this, so that 82% of profits went to the state and 18% to the companies. The oil companies threatened to take the case to the international courts or cease operating in Bolivia, but ultimately relented. Thus, where Bolivia had received $173 million from hydrocarbon extraction in 2002, by 2006 they received $1.3 billion.[119] Although not technically a form of nationalization, Morales and his government referred to it as such, resulting in criticism from sectors of the Bolivian left.[120] In June 2006, Morales announced his desire to nationalize mining, electricity, telephones, and railroads, and in February 2007 nationalized the Vinto metallurgy plant, refusing to compensate Glencore, which the government asserted had obtained the contract illegally.[121] Although the FSTMB miners’ federation called for the government to nationalise the mines, the government did not do so, instead stating that any transnational corporations operating in Bolivia legally would not be expropriated.[122]

Under Morales, Bolivia experienced unprecedented economic strength, resulting in the increase in value of its currency, the boliviano.[123] His first year in office ended with no fiscal deficit; the first time this had happened in Bolivia for 30 years,[124] while during the global financial crisis of 2007–08 it maintained some of the world’s highest levels of economic growth.[125] Such economic strength led to a nationwide boom in construction,[123] and allowed the state to build up strong financial reserves.[123] Although the levels of social spending were increased, they remained relatively conservative, with a major priority being placed on constructing paved roads, as well as community spaces such as soccer fields and union buildings.[126] In particular, the government focused on rural infrastructure improvement, to bring roads, running water, and electricity to areas that lacked them.[127]

The government’s stated intention was to reduce Bolivia’s most acute poverty levels from 35% to 27% of the population, and moderate poverty levels from 58.9% to 49% over five years.[128] The welfare state was expanded, as characterized by the introduction of non-contributory old-age pensions and payments to mothers provided their babies are taken for health checks and that their children attend school. Hundreds of free tractors were also handed out. The prices of gas and many foodstuffs were controlled, and local food producers were made to sell in the local market rather than export. A new state-owned body was also set up to distribute food at subsidized prices. All these measures helped to curb inflation, while the economy grew (partly because of rising public spending), accompanied by stronger public finances which brought economic stability.[129]

During Morales’s first term, Bolivia broke free of the domination of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) which had characterised previous regimes by refusing their financial aid and connected regulations.[clarification needed][130] In May 2007, it became the world’s first country to withdraw from the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, with Morales asserting that the institution had consistently favored multinational corporations in its judgments; Bolivia’s lead was followed by other Latin American nations.[131] Despite being encouraged to do so by the U.S., Bolivia refused to join the Free Trade Area of the Americas, deeming it a form of U.S. imperialism.[132]

A major dilemma faced by Morales’s administration was between the desire to expand extractive industries in order to fund social programs and provide employment, and to protect the country’s environment from the pollution caused by those industries.[133] Although his government professed an environmentalist ethos, expanding environmental monitoring and becoming a leader in the voluntary Forest Stewardship Council, Bolivia continued to witness rapid deforestation for agriculture and illegal logging.[134] Economists on both the left and right expressed concern over the government’s lack of economic diversification.[125] Many Bolivians opined that Morales’s government had failed to bring about sufficient job creation.[116]

ALBA and international appearances

Morales with regional allies, at the Fórum Social Mundial for Latin America: President of Paraguay Lugo, President of Brasil Lula, President of Equador Correa and President of Venezuela Chavez.

Morales’s administration sought strong links with the far-left governments of Cuba and Venezuela.[135] In April 2005 Morales traveled to Havana for knee surgery, there meeting with the two nations’ presidents, Castro and Chávez.[136] In April 2006, Bolivia agreed to join Cuba and Venezuela in founding the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), with Morales attending ALBA’s conference in May, at which they initiated with a Peoples’ Trade Agreement (PTA).[137] Meanwhile, his administration became “the least US-friendly government in Bolivian history”.[138] In September Morales visited the U.S. for the first time to attend the UN General Assembly, where he gave a speech condemning U.S. President George W. Bush as a terrorist for launching the War in Afghanistan and Iraq War, and called for the UN Headquarters to be moved out of the country. In the U.S., he met with former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and with Native American groups.[139] Relations were further strained between the two nations when in December Morales issued a Supreme Decree requiring all U.S. citizens visiting Bolivia to have a visa.[140] His government also refused to grant legal immunity to U.S. soldiers in Bolivia; hence the U.S. cut back their military support to the country by 96%.[132]

In December 2006, he attended the first South-South conference in Abuja, Nigeria, there meeting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, whose government had recently awarded Morales the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights.[141] Morales proceeded straight to Havana for a conference celebrating Castro’s life, where he gave a speech arguing for stronger links between Latin America and the Middle East to combat U.S. imperialism.[142] Under his administration, diplomatic relations were established with Iran, with Morales praising Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a revolutionary comrade.[143] In April 2007 he attended the first South American Energy Summit in Venezuela, arguing with many allies over the issue of biofuel, which he opposed.[144] He had a particularly fierce argument with Brazilian President Lula over Morales’s desire to bring Bolivia’s refineries – which were largely owned by Brazil’s Petrobrás – under state control. In May, Bolivia purchased the refineries and transferred them to the Bolivian State Petroleum Company (YPFB).[145]

Social reform

Morales with Brazilian President Lula

Morales’s government sought to encourage a model of development based upon the premise of vivir bien, or “living well”.[115] This entailed seeking social harmony, consensus, the elimination of discrimination, and wealth redistribution; in doing so, it was rooted in communal rather than individual values and owed more to indigenous Andean forms of social organization than Western ones.[115]

Upon Morales’s election, Bolivia’s illiteracy rate was at 16%, the highest in South America.[146] Attempting to rectify this with the aid of far left allies, Bolivia launched a literacy campaign with Cuban assistance, while Venezuela invited 5000 Bolivian high school graduates to study in Venezuela for free.[147] By 2009, UNESCO declared Bolivia free from illiteracy,[148] although the World Bank claimed that it had only declined by 5%.[149] Cuba also aided Bolivia in the development of its medical care, opening ophthalmological centres in the country to treat 100,000 Bolivians for free per year, and offering 5000 free scholarships for Bolivian students to study medicine in Cuba.[150] The government sought to expand state medical facilities, opening twenty hospitals by 2014, and increasing basic medical coverage up to the age of 25.[151] Their approach sought to utilise and harmonise both mainstream Western medicine and Bolivia’s traditional medicine.[152]

Morales and vice-president Álvaro García Linera in 2006 shining the shoes of shoeshine boys.

The 2006 Bono Juancito Pinto program provided US$29 per month to poor families for every young child that they had,[153] while 2008’s Renta Dignidad initiative provided around $344 per month to low-income citizens over 60.[154] 2009’s Bono Juana Azurduy program offered cash transfers to uninsured mothers to improve their likelihood of seeking medical care.[155] Conservative critics of Morales’s regime claimed that these measures were simply designed to buy off the poor and ensure continued support for the government.[156]

Morales announced that one of the top priorities of his government was to eliminate racism against the country’s indigenous population.[157] To do this, he announced that all civil servants were required to learn one of Bolivia’s three indigenous languages, Quechua, Aymara, or Guaraní, within two years.[158] His government encouraged the development of indigenous cultural projects,[159] and sought to encourage more indigenous people to attend university; by 2008, it was estimated that half of the students enrolled in Bolivia’s 11 public universities were indigenous,[160] while three indigenous-specific universities had been established, offering subsidized education.[161] In 2009, a Vice Ministry for Decolonization was established, which proceeded to pass the 2010 Law against Racism and Discrimination banning the espousal of racist views in private or public institutions.[162] Various commentators noted that there was a renewed sense of pride among the country’s indigenous population following Morales’s election.[163] Conversely, the opposition accused Morales’s administration of aggravating racial tensions between indigenous, white, and mestizo populations,[164] with some non-indigenous Bolivians feeling that they were now experiencing racism.[165]

On International Workers’ Day 2006, Morales issued a presidential decree undoing aspects of the informalization of labor which had been implemented by previous neoliberal governments; this was seen as a highly symbolic act for labor rights in Bolivia.[166] In 2009 his government put forward suggested reforms to the 1939 labor laws, although lengthy discussions with trade unions hampered the reforms’ progress.[167] Morales’s government increased the legal minimum wage by 50%,[168] and reduced the pension age from 65 to 60, and then in 2010 reduced it again to 58.[169]

While policies were brought in to improve the living conditions of the working classes, conversely many middle-class Bolivians felt that they had seen their social standing decline,[170] with Morales personally mistrusting the middle-classes, deeming them fickle.[171] A 2006 law reallocated state-owned lands,[172] with this agrarian reform entailing distributing land to traditional communities rather than individuals.[173] In 2010, a law was introduced permitting the formation of recognised indigenous territories, although the implementation of this was hampered by bureaucracy and contesting claims over ownership.[174] Morales’s regime also sought to improve women’s rights in Bolivia.[175] In 2010, it founded a Unit of Depatriarchalization to oversee this process.[113] Further seeking to provide legal recognition and support to LGBT rights, it declared June 28 to be Sexual Minority Rights Day in the country,[176] and encouraged the establishment of a gay-themed television show on the state channel.[177]

Adopting a policy known as “Coca Yes, Cocaine No”,[178] Morales’s administration ensured the legality of coca growing, but also introduced measures to regulate the production and trade of the crop.[179] In 2007, they announced that they would permit the growing of 50,000 acres of coca in the country, primarily for the purposes of domestic consumption,[180] with each family being restricted to the growing of one cato (1600 metres squared) of coca.[181]

A social control program was implemented whereby local unions took on responsibility for ensuring that this quota was not exceeded; in doing so, they hoped to remove the need for military and police intervention, and thus stem the violence of previous decades.[182] Measures were implemented to ensure the industrialization of coca production, with Morales inaugurating the first coca industrialization plant in Chulumani, which produced and packaged coca and trimate tea; the project was primarily funded through a $125,000 donation from Venezuela under the PTA scheme.[179]

These industrialization measures proved largely unsuccessful given that coca remained illegal in most nations outside Bolivia, thus depriving the growers of an international market.[183] Campaigning against this, in 2012 Bolivia withdrew from the UN 1961 Convention which had called for global criminalisation of coca, and in 2013 successfully convinced the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to declassify coca as a narcotic.[184] The U.S. State Department criticised Bolivia, asserting that it was regressing in its counter-narcotics efforts, and dramatically reduced aid to Bolivia to $34 million to fight the narcotics trade in 2007.[185] Nevertheless, the number of cocaine seizures in Bolivia increased under Morales’s government,[186] as they sought to encourage coca growers to report and oppose cocaine producers and traffickers.[187] However, high levels of police corruption surrounding the illicit trade in cocaine remained a continuing problem for Bolivia.[188]

Morales’s government also introduced measures to tackle Bolivia’s endemic corruption; in 2007, he used a presidential decree to create the Ministry of Institutional Transparency and Fight Against Corruption.[189] However, critics highlighted that MAS members were rarely prosecuted for the crime, the main exception being YPFB head Santos Ramírez, who was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment for corruption in 2008. Conversely, a 2009 law that permitted the retroactive prosecution for corruption led to legal cases being brought against a number of opposition politicians for alleged corruption in the pre-Morales period; many fled abroad to avoid standing trial.[190]

Domestic unrest and the new constitution

During his presidential campaign, Morales had supported calls for regional autonomy for Bolivia’s departments. As president, he changed his position, viewing the calls for autonomy – which came from Bolivia’s four eastern departments of Santa Cruz, BeniPando, and Tarija – as an attempt by the wealthy bourgeoisie living in these regions to preserve their economic position.[191] He nevertheless agreed to a referendum on regional autonomy, held in July 2006; the four eastern departments voted in favor of autonomy, but Bolivia as a whole voted against it by 57.6%.[192] In September, autonomy activists launched strikes and blockades across eastern Bolivia, resulting in violent clashes with MAS activists.[193] In January 2007, clashes in Cochabamba between activist groups led to fatalities, with Morales’s government sending in troops to maintain the peace. The left-indigenous activists formed a Revolutionary Departmental Government, but Morales denounced it as illegal and continued to recognise the legitimacy of right-wing departmental head Manfred Reyes Villa.[194]

In July 2006, an election to form a Constitutional Assembly was held, which saw the highest ever electoral turnout in the nation’s history. MAS won 137 of its 255 seats, after which the Assembly was inaugurated in August.[195] The Assembly was the first elected parliamentary body in Bolivia which features strong campesino and indigenous representation.[196] In November, the Assembly approved a new constitution, which converted the Republic of Bolivia into the Plurinational State of Bolivia, describing it as a “plurinational communal and social unified state”. The constitution emphasized Bolivian sovereignty of natural resources, separated church and state, forbade foreign military bases in the country, implemented a two-term limit for the presidency, and permitted limited regional autonomy. It also enshrined every Bolivians’ right to water, food, free health care, education, and housing.[197] In enshrining the concept of plurinationalism, one commentator noted that it suggested “a profound reconfiguration of the state itself” by recognising the rights to self-determination of various nations within a single state.[198]

Morales in 2008

In May 2008, the eastern departments pushed for greater autonomy, but Morales’s government rejected the legitimacy of their position.[199] They called for a referendum on recalling Morales, which saw an 83% turnout and in which Morales was ratified with 67.4% of the vote.[200] Unified as the National Council for Democracy (CONALDE), these groups – financed by the wealthy agro-industrialist, petroleum, and financial elite – embarked on a series of destabilisation campaigns to unseat Morales’s government.[201] Unrest then broke out across eastern Bolivia, as radicalized autonomist activists established blockades, occupied airports, clashing with pro-government demonstrations, police, and armed forces. Some formed paramilitaries, bombing state companies, indigenous NGOs, and human rights organisations, also launching armed racist attacks on indigenous communities, culminating in the Pando Massacre of MAS activists.[202] The autonomists gained support from some high-ranking politicians; Santa Cruz Governor Rubén Costas lambasted Morales and his supporters with racist epithets, accusing the president of being an Aymara fundamentalist and a totalitarian dictator responsible for state terrorism.[203] Amid the unrest, foreign commentators began speculating on the possibility of civil war.[204]

After it was revealed that USAID‘s Office of Transition Initiatives had supplied $4.5 million to the pro-autonomist departmental governments of the eastern provinces, in September 2008 Morales accused the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, of “conspiring against democracy” and encouraging the civil unrest, ordering him to leave the country.[205][206]. The U.S. government responded by expelling Bolivian ambassador to the U.S., Gustavo Guzman.[207]. Bolivia subsequently expelled the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from the country, while the U.S. responded by withdrawing their Peace Corps.[208] Chávez stood in solidarity with Bolivia by ordering the U.S. ambassador Patrick Duddy out of his country and withdrawing the Venezuelan ambassador to the U.S.[209] The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) convened a special meeting to discuss the Bolivian situation, expressing full support for Morales’s government.[210]

Morales meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2009

Although unable to quell the autonomist violence, Morales’s government refused to declare a state of emergency, believing that the autonomists were attempting to provoke them into doing so.[211] Instead, they decided to compromise, entering into talks with the parliamentary opposition. As a result, 100 of the 411 elements of the Constitution were changed, with both sides compromising on certain issues.[212] Nevertheless, the governors of the eastern provinces rejected the changes, believing it gave them insufficient autonomy, while various Indianist and leftist members of MAS felt that the amendments conceded too much to the political right.[213] The constitution was put to a referendum in January 2009, in which it was approved by 61.4% of voters.[214]

Following the approval of the new Constitution, the 2009 general election was called. The opposition sought to delay the election by demanding a new biometric registry system, hoping that it would give them time to form a united front against MAS.[215] Many MAS activists reacted violently against the demands, and attempting to prevent this. Morales went on a five-day hunger strike in April 2009 to push the opposition to rescind their demands. He also agreed to allow for the introduction of a new voter registry, but insisted that it was rushed through so as not to delay the election.[216] Morales and the MAS won with a landslide majority, polling 64.2%, while voter participation had reached an all-time high of 90%.[217] His primary opponent, Reyes Villa, gained 27% of the vote. The MAS won a two-thirds majority in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.[218] Morales notably increased his support in the east of the country, with MAS gaining a majority in Tarija.[219] In response to his victory, Morales proclaimed that he was “obligated to accelerate the pace of change and deepen socialism” in Bolivia, seeing his re-election as a mandate to further his reforms.[220]

Second presidential term: 2009–2014

During his second term, Morales began to speak openly of “communitarian socialism” as the ideology that he desired for Bolivia’s future.[221] He assembled a new cabinet which was 50% female, a first for Bolivia,[222] although by 2012, that had dropped to a third.[175] One of the main tasks that faced his government during this term was the aim of introducing legislation that would cement the extension of rights featured in the new constitution.[223] In April 2010, the departmental elections saw further gains for MAS.[224] In 2013, the government passed a law to combat domestic violence against women.[225]

Morales at an international conference in 2012

In December 2009, Morales attended the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he blamed climate change on capitalism and called for a financial transactions tax to fund climate change mitigation. Ultimately deeming the conference to have been a failure, he oversaw the World’s People Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth outside of Cochabamba in April 2010.[226]

Following the victories of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, relations between Bolivia and the U.S. improved slightly, and in November 2009 the countries entered negotiations to restore diplomatic relations.[227] After the U.S. backed the 2011 military intervention in Libya by NATO forces, Morales condemned Obama, calling for his Nobel Peace Prize to be revoked.[228] The two nations restored diplomatic relations in November 2011,[229] although Morales refused to allow the DEA back into the country.[230]

In October 2012, the government passed a Law of Mother Earth that banned genetically modified organisms (GMOs) being grown in Bolivia; although praised by environmentalists, it was criticised by the nation’s soya growers, who claimed that it would make them less competitive on the global market.[231]

On July 2, 2013, Bolivia’s foreign minister said that the diversion of Morales’s presidential plane (FAB-001, a Dassault Falcon 900EX), when Portuguese, French, Spanish and Italian authorities denied access to their airspace due to suspicions that Edward Snowden was on board the aircraft, had put the president’s life at risk.[232] Latin American leaders describe the incident as a “stunning violation of national sovereignty and disrespect for the region”.[233] Morales himself described the incident as a “hostage” situation.[234] France apologized for the incident the next day.[235] The presidents of Argentina, Ecuador, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela, Morales’s political allies in the region, gathered to demand an explanation of the incident.[236]

In 2014, Morales became the oldest active professional soccer player in the world after signing a contract for $200 a month with Sport Boys Warnes.[237]

On July 31, 2014, Morales condemned the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict and declared Israel a “terrorist state”.[238]

Domestic protests

Morales addressing Bolivia’s Parliament

Morales’s second term was heavily affected by infighting and dissent from within his support base, as indigenous and leftist activists rejected several government reforms.[239] In May 2010, his government announced a 5% rise in the minimum wage. The Bolivian Workers’ Central (COB) felt this insufficient given the rising cost of living, calling a general strike, while protesters clashed with police. The government refused to increase the rise, accusing protesters of being pawns of the right.[240] In August 2010, violent protests broke out in southern Potosí over widespread unemployment and a lack of infrastructure investment.[225] In December 2010, the government cut subsidies for gasoline and diesel fuels, which raised fuel prices and transport costs. Protests led Morales to nullify the decree, responding that he “ruled by obeying”.[241] In June 2012, Bolivia’s police launched protests against anti-corruption reforms to the police service; they burned disciplinary case records and demanded salary increases. Morales’s government relented, cancelling many of the proposed reforms and agreeing to the wage rise.[242]

In 2011, the government announced it had signed a contract with a Brazilian company to construct a highway connecting Beni to Cochabamba, which would pass through the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS). This would better integrate the Beni and Pando departments with the rest of Bolivia and facilitate hydrocarbons exploration. The plan brought condemnation from environmentalists and indigenous communities living in the TIPNIS, who claimed that it would encourage deforestation and illegal settlement and that it violated the constitution and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.[243] The issue became an international cause célèbre and cast doubt on the government’s environmentalist and indigenous rights credentials.[244] In August, 800 protesters embarked on a protest march from Trinidad to La Paz; many were injured in clashes with police and supporters of the road.[245] Two government ministers and other high-ranking officials resigned in protest and Morales’s government relented, announcing suspension of the road.[245] In October 2011, he passed Law 180, prohibiting further road construction, although the government proceeded with a consultation, eventually gaining the consent of 55 of the 65 communities in TIPNIS to allow the highway to be built, albeit with a variety of concessions; construction was scheduled to take place after the 2014 general election.[245][246][247] In May 2013, the government announced that it would permit hydrocarbon exploration in Bolivia’s 22 national parks, to widespread condemnation from environmentalists.[231]

Third presidential term: 2014–2019

Morales with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the Third GECF summit.

In 2008, Morales had vowed that he would not stand for re-election in the 2014 general election.[248] However, he successfully did so and after proclaiming victory in the election, Morales declared it “a triumph of the anti-colonialists and anti-imperialists” and dedicated his win to both Castro and Chávez.[249][250][251]

On the basis of this victory, the Financial Times remarked that Morales was “one of the world’s most popular leaders”.[252] On October 17, 2015, Morales surpassed Andrés de Santa Cruz‘s nine years, eight months, and twenty-four days in office and became Bolivia’s longest serving president.[253][254] Writing in The GuardianEllie Mae O’Hagan attributes his enduring popularity not to anti-imperialist rhetoric but his “extraordinary socio-economic reforms,” which resulted in poverty and extreme poverty declining by 25% and 43% respectively.[255]

In early February 2016 there were rumors that Morales had had a child by a young woman, Gabriela Zapata Montaño, and had granted favors to the Chinese company for which she worked. Morales admitted that they had had a son (who had died in infancy), but denied vehemently any granting of favors and said he had not been in contact with Zapata Montaño since 2007.[256]

In February 2016, a referendum was held on the question of whether Morales should be allowed to run for a fourth term; he narrowly lost.[257] His approval rating had been damaged by the allegations concerning his relationship with Gabriela Zapata Montaño.[258] In December 2016 the MAS nominated Morales as their candidate for the 2019 presidential election regardless, stating that they would seek various avenues to ensure the legality of such a candidacy.[259] In November 2017, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice of Bolivia ruled that—in contrast to the constitution—all public offices would have no term limits, blaming American imperialism and influence for the referendum’s outcome, thus allowing Morales to run for a fourth term in 2019.[260] In May 2019, Luis Almagro, the secretary general of the Organization of American States, supported Morales participation in the 2019 election.[261]

Morales attended the swearing-in ceremony of Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro for his second term on January 10, 2019.[262] In April 2019, Morales condemned the arrest by the United Kingdom of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.[263]

2019 election controversy and resignation

On October 20, 2019, Morales won 47.1% of the vote in the first round of the 2019 Bolivian general election. His closest rival was Carlos Mesa, with 35.5% of the vote. As the gap between Morales and Mesa was over 10%, a second-round run-off between them would not have been required.[264]

The results were immediately disputed and led to widespread protests across the country. Responding to the concerns and violent protests, Morales asked the Organization of American States (OAS) to conduct an audit of the vote count.[265] Morales said he would call for a second-round runoff vote with Mesa if the OAS’ audit found evidence of fraud.[264] Morales asked the protesters to observe a truce while the OAS conducted the audit but Mesa asked his supporters to maintain their strikes and street protests.[266]

On November 9, 2019, the Organization of American States (OAS) published a preliminary report that there were “clear manipulations” including physical records with alterations and forged signatures, and evidence of wide-scale data manipulation. The next day, Morales announced that fresh elections would take place.[267][268] The police joined the protests against Morales,[269] and on November 10, according to The New York Times: “the commander of Bolivia’s armed forces, Gen. Williams Kaliman, said the military chiefs believed he should step down to restore ‘peace and stability and for the good of our Bolivia.'”[270][271] On November 12, Morales flew to Mexico and accepted asylum there.[272] Morales, along with the governments of MexicoCubaUruguayNicaragua, the Nicolás Maduro-led disputed government of Venezuela, as well as the President-elect of Argentina, maintain that his removal was a coup.[273][274][275][276]

Political ideology

The worst enemy of humanity is capitalism. That is what provokes uprisings like our own, a rebellion against a system, against a neo-liberal model, which is the representation of a savage capitalism. If the entire world doesn’t acknowledge this reality, that the national states are not providing even minimally for health, education and nourishment, then each day the most fundamental human rights are being violated.

– Evo Morales[277]

Figures in the Morales government have described the President’s approach to politics as “Evoism” (SpanishEvismo).[278] From 2009, Morales has advocated “communitarian socialism”,[221] while political scientist Sven Harten characterized Morales’s ideology as “eclectic”, drawing ideas from “various ideological currents”.[279] Harten noted that whilst Morales uses fierce anti-imperialist and leftist rhetoric, he is neither “a hardcore anti-globalist nor a Marxist,” not having argued for the violent and absolute overthrow of capitalism or U.S. involvement in Latin America.[280]

Economically, Morales’s policies have sometimes been termed “Evonomics” and have focused on creating a mixed economy.[281] Morales’s presidential discourse has revolved around distinguishing between “the people”, of whom he sees himself as a representative, and the oppressive socio-economic elite and the old political class, whom he believes have mistreated “the people” for centuries.[282] Morales sought to make Bolivia’s representative democracy more direct and communitarian, through the introduction of referendums and a citizen-led legislative initiative.[283] George Philip and Francisco Panizza claimed that like his allies Correa and Chávez, Morales should be categorized as a populist,[284] because he appealed “directly to the people against their countries’ political and economic order, divided the social field into antagonistic camps and promised redistribution and recognition in a newly founded political order.”[285]

Various far left commentators have argued against categorizing the Morales administration as socialist. Bolivia’s Marxist Vice President Álvaro García Linera asserts that Bolivia lacks the sufficiently large industrialized working class, or proletariat, to enable it to convert into a socialist society in the Marxist understanding of the word. Instead, he terms the government’s approach “Andean and Amazonian capitalism”.[286] Marxist American sociologist James Petras has argued that Morales’s government is neither socialist nor anti-imperialist, instead describing Morales as a “radical conservative” for utilizing socialist rhetoric while continuing to support foreign investment and the economic status of Bolivia’s capitalist class,[287] while British Trotskyist academic Jeffery R. Webber asserted that Morales was no socialist but that his regime was “reconstituting neoliberalism”, thereby rejecting “neoliberal orthdoxy” but retaining a “core faith in the capitalist market as the principal engine of growth and industrialization.”[288] Similarly, Aymara activist Felipe Quispe characterised Morales’s government as “neoliberalism with an Indian [i.e. indigenous] face”.[289]

Personal life

First Lady Morales with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador Ricardo Patiño.

Morales is ethnically Aymara, and has been widely described as Bolivia’s first democratically-elected President from the indigenous majority.[10][6] Although Morales has sometimes been described as the first indigenous president to be democratically elected in Latin America, Benito Juárez, a Mexican of the Zapotec ethnic group, was elected President of Mexico in 1858.[7] Biographer Martín Sivak described Morales as “incorruptible, charismatic, and combative”,[290] also noting that he had a “friendly style” and could develop a good rapport with journalists and photographers, in part because he could “articulate his opinions with simplicity”.[47] He places a great emphasis on trust,[291] and relies on his intuition, sometimes acting on what he considers omens in his dreams.[292] Harten said that Morales “can be a forceful leader, one who instills great respect and, sometimes, a reluctance in others to contradict him, but he has also learnt to listen and learn from other people.”[293] Farthing and Kohl characterised Morales as a “charismatic populist” of a kind common in Latin American history, who prioritized “a direct relationship” between the population and the leader.[294]

Morales is not married and upon becoming president selected his older sister, Esther Morales Ayma, to adopt the role of First Lady. He has two children from different mothers. They are his daughter Eva Liz Morales Alvarado and son Álvaro Morales Paredes.[295][296][297] Politician Juan del Granado is Eva Liz’s godfather.[295]

Morales has commented that he is only a Roman Catholic in order “to go to weddings”, and when asked if he believed in God, responded that “I believe in the land. In my father and my mother. And in cuchi-cuchi (sexual activity).”[298] According to some, Evo lives an ascetic life, with little interest in material possessions.[299] Morales inaugurated a $34 million (USD) La Paz residence (called “People’s Great House” or “Casa Grande del Pueblo”) in 2018. The Casa Grande del Pueblo is a 29-story skyscraper complete with a jacuzzi, sauna, gym, massage room, and rooftop helipad. It was designed by Bolivian architects and decorated with indigenous motifs representing traditional Bolivian culture.[300][301] The skyscraper was built to replace the former presidential palace, which Evo planned to turn into a museum. After signing the contract for the new building, Morales stated that it was “not a luxury” since it would also house cabinet meeting rooms, a centre for indigenous ceremonies and a 1,000-seat auditorium as well as rooms for exclusive presidential use.[301] Morales is an association football enthusiast and plays the game frequently, often with local teams.[302][303]

Morales’s unorthodox behavior contrasts with the usual manners of dignitaries and other political leaders in Latin America. During speeches he made use of personal stories and anecdotes,[304] and used coca as a political symbol, wearing a coca leaf garland around his neck and a hat with coca leaves in it when speaking to crowds of supporters.[305] Following his election, he wore striped jumpers rather than the suits typically worn by politicians. It became a symbol of Morales, with copies of it selling widely in Bolivia.[306][307] Unlike his ally Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, the MAS does not revolve around his personality.[293]

On July 4, 2018, Morales underwent emergency surgery at a private clinic in La Paz in order to remove a tumor.[308]

Influence and legacy

Morales with Enrique Peña Nieto and Justin Trudeau, Lima, Peru, 2018

Morales has been described as “the most famous Bolivian ever”,[5] whose personality has become “fixed in the global imagination”.[309] Morales’s government has been seen as part of the pink tide of left-leaning Latin American governments, becoming particularly associated with the hard left current of Venezuela and Cuba.[310] It has been praised for its pro-socialist stance among the international left,[224] who have taken an interest in Bolivia under his leadership as a “political laboratory”[311] or “a living workshop” for the development of an alternative to capitalism.[312] Domestically, Morales’s support base has been among Bolivia’s poor and indigenous communities.[6] For these communities, who had felt marginalized in Bolivian politics for decades, Morales “invokes a sense of dignity and destiny” in a way that no other contemporary politician has done.[313] He has received the support of many democratic socialists and social democrats, as well as sectors of Bolivia’s liberal movement, who have been critical of Morales but favoured him over the right-wing opposition.[314]

Based on interviews conducted among Bolivians in 2012, John Crabtree and Ann Chaplin described the previous years of Morales’s rule with the observation that: “for many—perhaps most—Bolivians, this was a period when ordinary people felt the benefits of policy in ways that had not been the case for decades, if ever.”[315] Crabtree and Chaplin added that Morales’s administration had made “important changes… that will probably be difficult to reverse”, including poverty reduction, the removal of some regional inequalities, and side-lining of some previously dominant political actors in favor of others who had been encouraged and enabled by his government.[315]

Critics, particularly in the U.S. government, have varyingly termed him “a left-wing radical, a partner of narco-traffickers and a terrorist”.[316] Opposition to Morales’s governance has centered in the wealthy eastern lowland province of Santa Cruz.[6] His policies often antagonized middle-class Bolivians, who deemed them too radical and argued that they threatened private property.[6] His most vociferous critics have been from Bolivia’s conservative movement, although he has also received criticism from the country’s far left, who believe his reformist policies have been insufficiently radical or socialist.[314] Many of these leftist critics were unhappy that Morales’s regime did not make a total break with global capitalism.[315] His regime has also faced many of the same complaints directed at previous Bolivian administrations, revolving around such issues as “concentration of power, corruption, incompetent bureaucracies, and disrespect for civil liberties”.[317]

Crabtree and Chaplin’s study led them to conclude that while Morales’s initial election had brought “huge expectations” from many Bolivians, especially in the social movements, there had been “inevitable frustrations” at his administration’s inability to deliver on everything that they had hoped.[318] They thought that the “heady optimism” that had characterized Morales’s first term in office had given way to “a climate of questioning and growing criticism of the government and its policies”.[315] Although the Bolivian economy had grown, the material benefits had not been as high as many Bolivians had hoped.[315] Crabtree and Chaplin argued that the experiences of his administration had “drawn attention to the difficulties involved in bringing change in the patterns of development in one of Latin America’s poorest and most unequal nations”.[319] Similarly, Harten thought that Morales’s discourse of “the people” against the socio-economic elites has brought a spotlight on the deep social polarization in Bolivia.[320]

See also

References

 

Bolivian security forces kill five and injure dozens when they open fire in ‘massacre’ of supporters of ousted president Evo Morales

  • Evo Morales exiled himself to Mexico last week after being accused of vote-rigging in an October election  
  • Supporter base has taken to the streets to protest his departure after his ouster caused gas prices to increase 
  • Five people are confirmed dead, while a nurse at a local hospital saw 75 injured protesters receive attention 

Bolivia’s political crisis turned deadly after security forces opened fire on supporters of Evo Morales in a central town, killing at least five people, injuring dozens and threatening the interim government’s efforts to restore stability following the resignation of the former president in an election dispute.

Most of the dead and injured Friday in Sacaba near the city of Cochabamba suffered bullet wounds, Guadalberto Lara, director of the town’s Mexico Hospital, said. He called it the worst violence he’s seen in his 30-year career.

Angry demonstrators and relatives of the victims gathered at the site of the shootings, chanting: ‘Civil war, now!’

Security forces, pictured in uniform, opened fire on supporters of exiled President Evo Morales yesterday. At least five people died and dozens were injured (Pictured: Police detain a supporter of former President Evo Morales during clashes in Sacaba, Bolivia, November 15, 2019)

Security forces, pictured in uniform, opened fire on supporters of exiled President Evo Morales yesterday. At least five people died and dozens were injured (Pictured: Police detain a supporter of former President Evo Morales during clashes in Sacaba, Bolivia, November 15, 2019)

Evo Morales was Bolivia’s first indigenous president who derived much of his support from coca leaf growers from rural communities (Pictured: Injured demonstrators are seen inside an ambulance in Sacaba, on the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia, yesterday)

Morales, who was granted asylum in Mexico after his resignation Sunday, said on Twitter that a ‘massacre’ had occurred and he described Bolivia’s government led by interim President Jeanine Anez as a dictatorship.

‘Now they are killing our brothers in Sacaba, Cochabamba,’ he said in another tweet.

Protesters said police fired when demonstrators, including many coca leaf growers who backed Bolivia’s first indigenous president, tried to cross a military checkpoint. Emeterio Colque Sanchez, a 23-year-old university student, said he saw the dead bodies of several protesters and about two-dozen people rushed to hospitals, many covered in blood.

Witnesses at the scene said they saw the corpses of several protesters and several dozen people rushed to hospital (Pictured: Police detain supporters of former President Evo Morales during clashes in Sacaba, Bolivia, yesterday)14

 

Morales has been granted permission to stay in Mexico and has been told that he may be charged for election fraud if he returns home. The ousted leader stood down on Saturday after he was accused of vote-rigging (Pictured: Backers of former President Evo Morales clash with security forces in Sacaba, Bolivia, yesterday)

Anez, Bolivia’s interim leader, has also said that Morales will be barred from standing in the new presidential elections (Pictured: A doctor attends a man injured during clashes between security forces and backers of former President Evo Morales at a hospital in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Friday)

Earlier in the day, Anez said Morales would face possible legal charges for election fraud if he returns home from Mexico City, even as the ousted leader contended he is still president since the country’s legislature has not yet approved his resignation.

Bolivia’s interim leader also said Morales would not be allowed to participate in new presidential elections meant to heal the Andean nation’s political standoff.

Morales stepped down on Sunday following nationwide protests over suspected vote-rigging in an October 20 election in which he claimed to have won a fourth term in office. An Organization of American States audit of the vote found widespread irregularities. Morales has denied there was fraud14

A nurse at the hospital in Cochabamba told reporters the estimates given by the government were under the 75 people she saw injured (Pictured: Members of the military police try to destroy a flaming barricade in Sacaba, on the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia yesterday)

Bolivian officials have called on the interim government to investigate whether security forces acted within Bolivian law and in line with international human rights protocols (Pictured: Security forces form a human barrier against supporters of Evo Morales in Sacaba, Bolivia, yesterday)

Families of the victims held vigil after the protests on Friday night (Pictured: A man shows spent casings during a candle service for the fallen protesters)

Families of the victims held a candlelight vigil late Friday in Sacaba. A tearful woman put her hand on a wooden casket surrounded by flowers and asked: ‘Is this what you call democracy? Killing us like nothing?’ Another woman cried and prayed in Quechua over the coffin of Omar Calle, which was draped in the Bolivian national flag and the multicolor ‘Wiphala’ flag that represents indigenous peoples.

Bolivia’s Ombudsman’s Office said it regretted the deaths during the joint police-military operation and called on the interim government to investigate if the security forces had acted within the constitution and international protocols on human rights.

‘We express our alarm and concern over the result of an attempt to stop a demonstration by coca leaf growers from entering the city of Cochabamba,’ it said.

Presidency Minister Jerjes Justiniano told reporters in La Paz that five people had been killed and an estimated 22 were injured. Lara, the hospital director, said that 75 people were injured.

Justiniano called for a dialogue with all parties involved in the conflict.

‘What we’ve been able to determine through preliminary information is that they used military weapons,’ he said.

On Thursday, Morales told reporters that while he had submitted his resignation, it was never accepted by Congress.

‘I can say that I’m still president,’ he said.

Morales told reporters yesterday that he handed in his resignation but the government didn’t accept it. He said he is ‘still president’ (Pictured: Tear gas shells fired by security forces are placed with candles around coffins of backers of former President Evo Morales killed during clashes with security forces in Sacaba, Bolivia on Friday)

Supporters of Morales have been causing disruption across cities in Bolivia since their president was ousted. They violently reacted when the ouster forced the closure of schools and caused gas shortages (Pictured: Mourners attend the funeral of backers of former President Evo Morales)

Morales said he left because of military pressure – the army chief had ‘suggested’ he leave – and threats of violence against his close collaborators.

Anez dismissed the explanation.

‘Evo Morales went on his own; nobody kicked him out,’ she said at a news conference.

‘He knows he has accounts pending with justice. He can return but he has to answer to justice for electoral fraud,’ she added.

Supporters of Morales, who had been Bolivia’s president for almost 14 years and was the last survivor from the ‘pink tide’ of leftist leaders who come to power in South America, have been staging disruptive protests since his ouster, setting up blockades that forced closure of schools and caused shortages of gasoline in the capital.

In the capital, riot police fired tear gas at rock-throwing demonstrators. Elderly people and children were caught in the violence and tried to seek shelter in businesses that had been shut behind metal sheets to protect against looters. Long lines formed outside some gas stations in La Paz after blockades in the nearby city of El Alto, a major distribution point for fuel.

Pictured is a grieving relative of one of the four farmers showing the bullets they were killed with in a clash with the police in Sacaba during a vigil held in the streets yesterday

Women walk past belongings of supporters of Bolivia’s former President Evo Morales after clashes in Sacaba, on the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia, yesterday

A riot police officer with a Bolivian flag is seen in Sacaba, on the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia, yesterday

‘There’s no gas,’ said Efrain Mendoza, a taxi driver from El Alto, who was forced to buy gasoline on the black market at twice the regular price.

‘Products are scarce. There’s no meat, no chicken, people are making long lines. It’s all because of the blockades,’  he said. ‘There’s division in Bolivia. It’s exasperating.’

Anez, the highest-ranking opposition official in the Senate, proclaimed herself president, saying every person in the line of succession ahead of her -all of them Morales backers – had resigned. The Constitutional Court issued a statement backing her claim that she didn’t need to be confirmed by Congress, a body controlled by Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism party.

Much of the opposition to Morales sprang from his refusal to accept a referendum that would have forbidden him from running for a new term.

Morales had upended politics in this nation long ruled by light-skinned descendants of Europeans by reversing deep-rooted inequality. The economy benefited from a boom in prices of commodities and he ushered through a new constitution that created a new Congress with seats reserved for Bolivia’s smaller indigenous groups while also allowing self-rule for all indigenous communities.

But many people became disenchanted by his insistence on holding on to power.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7692381/Bolivian-security-forces-kill-five-injure-dozens-protests.html

Story 2: Democrat Trump Madness Should End Thursday After Attempted Coup Cover-up Fails To Gain American People’s Support — No Evidence President Trump Did Anything Improper — No Crime — No Real Witnesses — Feelings, Hearsay, Opinions — Not Evidence — Big Lie Media — Videos

An Attempted Coup’ Says Trump

FISA order will uncover ‘corruption and bias’ at DOJ, FBI: Rep. Gaetz

Democratic call to defy Trump FISA order is an attempted coup: Judge Jeanine Pirro

Lou Dobbs Tonight 11/18/19 FULL | Trump Breaking Fox News November 18, 2019

Pence aide on Capitol Hill for impeachment probe

Pence aide´s testimony renews focus on VP´s Ukraine role

He knew nothing about the Ukrainian backchannel, his aides say.

He was unaware of a pull-aside meeting in Ukraine set up by a member of his own delegation, they insist.

And he was in the dark about a months-long campaign to push Ukraine´s leader to investigate President Donald Trump´s Democratic rivals, they attest – even as he met with and held calls with that leader.

Questions about what Mike Pence knew about the events that sparked the House impeachment investigation – and when he knew key facts – are back in the spotlight as an aide to the vice president testifies this week at a public hearing of the House Intelligence Committee. The inquiry centers on whether Trump abused his office for his own political gain by withholding crucial security aid from Ukraine as aides pressed the country´s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to announce an investigation into the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and into the business dealings of the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Pence´s team, for its part, is walking a thin political line in trying to make the case that the vice president was out of the loop on questionable aspects of Trump´s Ukraine policy while also presenting Pence as an influential voice in prodding the president to release the military aid.

Jennifer Williams, a career foreign service officer who was detailed to Pence’s office from the State Department, is set to testify Tuesday. She compiled briefing materials for Pence on Ukraine, was in the room when he met with Zelenskiy in September and was among the staffers in the Situation Room who listened and took notes during Trump’s July 25 call with Zelenskiy.

FILE - In this Nov. 7, 2019, file photo, Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence for Europe and Russia, arrives for a closed-door interview in the impeachment inquiry on President Donald Trump's efforts to press Ukraine to investigate his political rivals at the Capitol in Washington. A public appearance by an aide to Mike Pence before the House Intelligence Committee this week is drawing renewed attention to the vice president and what he knew about the events that sparked the House impeaching investigation.Williams is a career foreign service officer detailed to Pence's office from the State Department. She compiled briefing materials for him on Ukraine and was listened in on Trump's July 25 call with Zelenskiy. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

FILE – In this Nov. 7, 2019, file photo, Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence for Europe and Russia, arrives for a closed-door interview in the impeachment inquiry on President Donald Trump’s efforts to press Ukraine to investigate his political rivals at the Capitol in Washington. A public appearance by an aide to Mike Pence before the House Intelligence Committee this week is drawing renewed attention to the vice president and what he knew about the events that sparked the House impeaching investigation.Williams is a career foreign service officer detailed to Pence’s office from the State Department. She compiled briefing materials for him on Ukraine and was listened in on Trump’s July 25 call with Zelenskiy. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In closed-door testimony to impeachment investigators earlier this month, Williams said Trump’s discussion of specific investigations in the July phone call struck her “as unusual and inappropriate.” The requests, she said, seemed tied to Trump’s personal political agenda instead of broader U.S. foreign policy objectives, and seemed to point to “other motivations” for holding up the military aid.

Yet Williams said she never raised her concerns with anyone at the White House, including her boss, Pence national security adviser Keith Kellogg.

Williams said she included a copy of the call´s rough transcript in the vice president´s briefing book, but she had no way of knowing whether Pence read it. Pence has said that nothing about the transcript struck him as off-base, but hasn´t said when he first focused on it.

As the impeachment inquiry moves forward, Pence is broadly following the careful approach he took during much of the first two years of Trump´s presidency, as special counsel Robert Mueller´s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election hung over the administration. At times, he seemed cut off from how decisions were being made.

After the sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey, Pence echoed administration talking points that the decision by Trump to fire Comey came only after the president received a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Days later, Trump undercut Pence and others by saying he was planning to fire Comey even before the memo and had considered it since the start of his administration.

Pence´s aides have spent recent weeks trying to distance him from the impeachment inquiry, as Pence himself insists the president did nothing wrong.

Pence spokeswoman Katie Waldman has said the vice president was unaware of efforts to push Zelenskiy to release a statement announcing investigations. And Pence has said no such push came up during his September meeting with Zelenskiy in Warsaw, even as the leaders discussed the U.S. military aid that was under review.

Waldman also said Pence was unaware of the “brief pull-aside conversation” that Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, reported having with a top aide to Zelenskiy following the Pence-Zelenskiy meeting. Sondland has said he told Andriy Yermak that the “resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.”

Pence would hardly be the first vice president to find himself out of the loop.

Matt Bennett, who was serving as an aide to Vice President Al Gore when news of President Bill Clinton´s affair with a White House intern broke, recalled the vice president being caught offguard by the revelation. Bennett remembers Gore asking, “Who the hell is Monica Lewinsky?”

Compared with his recent predecessors, Pence has had less of an impact in shaping presidential policy initiatives, says Bennett. He said Trump often operates as a team of one.

George W. Bush, for instance, leaned heavily on Vice President Dick Cheney in carving out the rationale to launch the Iraq war and in designing the war on terrorism. Cheney was tasked to help vet potential running mates for Bush as a presidential candidate and ultimately ended up with the job himself.

Barack Obama asked Biden to spearhead his push to draw down troops from Iraq and deputized Biden to do the heavy lifting on an unsuccessful push to overhaul the nation´s gun laws following the rampage at Connecticut´s Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 26 dead. On the campaign trail, Biden often boasts that he was the “last person in the room” with Obama before every major decision.

Pence has instead largely served as an emissary for Trump, representing him on the global stage, defending his decisions and serving as a sounding board behind the scenes.

Some aspects of Pence´s involvement with Ukraine are still to be sorted out.

Williams´ closed-door testimony contradicted Pence aides who insisted the vice president canceled a planned trip to Ukraine for Zelenskiy´s inauguration in May because of logistical difficulties. Williams said under oath that a colleague had told her the trip was called off because Trump no longer wanted Pence to attend after initially pushing for him go, confirming previous reporting by The Associated Press.

But aides to Pence dispute that assertion, saying Ukraine´s Parliament formally set the date of Zelenskiy´s inauguration just a week before it took place on May 20. With the date up in the air, Pence´s team decided to instead send him to Canada to promote the benefits of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

In an email obtained by The Associated Press, Williams told State Department officials and officials at the embassy in Kyiv on May 13 that she regretted “that the Vice President´s schedule has changed and he will not be able to attend President-elect Zelenskyy´s inauguration.”

Pence aides also said Williams only would have heard about the cancellation fourth-hand at best. And they notably did not defend her from Trump´s tweeted attacks over the weekend, insisting Pence doesn´t know who she is.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-7699943/Pence-aide-s-testimony-renews-focus-VP-s-Ukraine-role.html

 

Story 3:

 

Hong Kong police storm university campus occupied by protesters

Police agreed to temporarily suspend their use of force at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the school’s president said Monday.
By Jasmine Leung, Yuliya Talmazan and Associated Press

HONG KONG — The president of a Hong Kong University said Monday that police have agreed to suspend their use of force after they tried to flush out protesters occupying the campus.

Hong Kong Polytechnic University President Jin-Guang Teng said police would allow protesters to leave the campus, and he would accompany them to the police station to ensure their cases “will be fairly processed.”

He said in a recorded video message that he hopes protesters “will accept the proposed temporary suspension of force and leave the campus in a peaceful manner.”

The announcement came after Hong Kong police stormed the university campus following an all-night standoff.

Police fired volleys of tear gas and water cannons outside the university, while protesters hurled bricks and gasoline bombs, setting an overhead footbridge on fire.

The clashes threatened to escalate the violence as protesters sought to hold off a police advance.

Amid the skirmishes, Hong Kong police said their media officer was struck with an arrow and taken to a hospital. Photos on the department’s Facebook page showed the arrow sticking out of the back of the officer’s lower leg through his pants.

Police later released a statement condemning the incident, adding that the officer remained conscious after he was taken to hospital.

The territory’s hospital authority could not immediately confirm the officer’s condition.

Image: Hong Kong police officer with arrow in leg

Hong Kong police prepare to remove an arrow from the leg of a fellow officer during a confrontation with protesters at Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Sunday.Hong Kong Police Force via AP

Meanwhile, police deployed a long-range acoustic device, which emitted a loud noise for five to 10 seconds without warning, for the first time to help disperse the crowds.

Police said in a tweet that the device was used as a broadcasting system, not as a weapon, after speculation online that its use could cause dizziness, nausea or loss of sense of direction.

Sunday’s daytime faceoff came after a pitched battle overnight in which the two sides exchanged tear gas and gasoline bombs that left fires blazing in the street.

Many protesters retreated inside the Polytechnic campus, where they have barricaded entrances and set up narrow access control points.

Universities have become a new battleground for the protests after months of unrest in the semi-autonomous territory.

Traffic disruptions and class suspensions have become routine as protesters try to paralyze the city.

Protesters have largely retreated from several major campuses they held last week, except for the contingent at Polytechnic.

That group has employed new tactics involving flammable arrows and catapults. The demonstrators are also blocking access to Cross Harbour Tunnel, one of the three main road tunnels that links Hong Kong Island with the rest of the city.

“It’s not about the campus. It’s about what’s next to it,” said a 23-year-old masked protester who gave only his last name, Chow.

“We occupied the streets next to the campus because it’s the Cross Harbour Tunnel,” he told NBC News while sitting on the bridge outside the campus. “If we could first jam the traffic, then people couldn’t go to work and the economy in return would suffer.”

Image: Burning police vehicle
A police vehicle burns as protesters and police clash on a bridge at Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Sunday.Anthony Kwan / Getty Images

Police said Sunday that the “fortified” campus had stored “a large amount of offensive weapons, including flammable fluids.”

“The weapons and equipment used by the police simply cannot be comparable to ours,” Chow said. “They have real guns. They fire tear gas. They shoot rubber bullets at us.”

But police said in a tweet Sunday that the “violent activities” at the campus have “escalated to rioting” and warned that anyone who assists the protesters may be held legally liable.

Hong Kong has been plagued by anti-government protests sparked by a controversial extradition bill since June.

Although the bill has been shelved, protesters continue to take to the streets with a list of demands amid fears of mainland China’s growing influence.

“Government didn’t respond to us,” Chow said. “We have to hit and run.”

Meanwhile, a small group of Chinese soldiers at a base close to Polytechnic University were seen by NBC News monitoring Sunday’s clashes from afar.

On Saturday, Chinese soldiers dressed in shorts and T-shirts, some carrying red plastic buckets or brooms, emerged from their barracks in a rare public appearance to help residents clear debris blocking key roads.

Beijing has not interfered so far, saying the Hong Kong government can resolve the crisis.

But growing violence is posing perhaps the gravest challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

Jasmine Leung reported from Hong Kong and Yuliya Talmazan from London. 

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/hong-kong-protesters-fight-police-fire-arrows-n1084261

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1333, October 3, 2019, Story 1: President Trump Calls On China and Ukraine To Investigate The Corruption of Democrat Candidate for President Joe Biden and Son Hunter Biden — Video — Story 2: Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker Said Nothing Supporting The Unbelievable Alan Schiff — Videos Story 3: Trump Administration vs. Bullying Elites of Congress — Washington Impeachment Inquiry Soap Opera — Videos

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See the source imageSee the source imageImpeach in search of a Crime

 

Story 1: President Trump Calls On China and Ukraine To Investigate The Corruption of Democrat Candidate for President Joe Biden and Son Hunter Biden — Video —

Trump says Ukraine and China should investigate the Bidens

PBS NewsHour full episode October 3, 2019

Mike Pompeo pushing back against House Democrats

 

youtube=https://apnews.com/d98be4ffbaa4462b9454cca0a8a7e88a]

 

Pompeo, Democrats trade intimidation charges in Trump probe

By LISA MASCARO, MARY CLARE JALONICK and JONATHAN LEMIRE33 minutes ago

Shown is a letter from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Wayne Partlow)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Setting a defiant tone, the Trump administration resisted Congress’ access to impeachment witnesses Tuesday, even as House Democrats warned such efforts themselves could amount to an impeachable offense.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried to delay five current and former officials from providing documents and testimony in the impeachment inquiry that could lead to charges against President Donald Trump. But Democrats were able to set closed-door depositions for Thursday for former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and next week for ousted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

The escalating exchange of accusations and warnings signaled yet another stiffening in the confrontation between the executive and legislative branches amid the Democrats’ launching of the impeachment inquiry late last week. That followed a national security whistleblower’s disclosure of Trump’s July phone call seeking help from the new Ukrainian president in investigating Democratic political rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter.

In a Tuesday evening tweet, Trump cast the impeachment inquiry as a coup “intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!” In fact, a coup is usually defined as a sudden, violent and illegal seizure of government power. The impeachment process is laid out in the U.S. Constitution.

Youtube video thumbnail

Pompeo said the Democrats were trying to “intimidate” and “bully” the career officials into appearing and claimed it would be “not feasible” as demanded. House investigators countered that it would be illegal for the secretary to try to protect Trump by preventing the officials from talking to Congress.

Some Trump supporters cheered Pompeo’s muscular response to the Democrats. But it also complicated the secretary’s own situation, coming the day after it was disclosed that he had listened in during Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy that helped trigger the impeachment inquiry.

“Any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress — including State Department employees — is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry,” said three House chairmen, Adam Schiff of the intelligence committee, Eliot Engel of Foreign Affairs, and Elijah Cummings of Oversight.

They said that if he was on Trump’s call, “Secretary Pompeo is now a fact witness in the House impeachment inquiry.” And they warned, “He should immediately cease intimidating Department witnesses in order to protect himself and the President.”

On Wednesday, the State Department’s inspector general is expected to brief congressional staff from several House and Senate appropriations, oversight, foreign affairs and intelligence committees on their requests for information and documents on Ukraine, according to an aide familiar with the planning. The inspector general acts independently from Pompeo.

The committees are seeking voluntary testimony from the current and former officials as the House digs into State Department actions and Trump’s other calls with foreign leaders that have been shielded from scrutiny.

In halting any appearances by State officials, and demanding that executive branch lawyers accompany them, Pompeo is underscoring Attorney General William Barr’s expansive view of White House authority and setting a tone for conflicts to come.

“I will use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals,” Pompeo wrote.

When issuing a separate subpoena last week as part of the inquiry, the chairmen of the three House committees made it clear that stonewalling their investigation would be fought.

“Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry,” the three chairmen wrote.

Democrats often note that obstruction was one of the impeachment articles against Richard Nixon, who resigned the presidency in 1974 in the face of almost certain impeachment.

Volker played a direct role in arranging meetings between Rudy Giuliani, who is Trump’s personal lawyer, and Zelenskiy, the chairmen said.

The State Department said that Volker has confirmed that he put a Zelenskiy adviser in contact with Giuliani, at the Ukraine adviser’s request.

The former envoy, who has since resigned his position and so is not necessarily bound by Pompeo’s directions, is eager to appear as scheduled on Thursday, said one person familiar with the situation, but unauthorized to discuss it and granted anonymity. The career professional believes he acted appropriately and wants to tell his side of the situation, the person said.

Yovanovitch, the career diplomat whose abrupt recall from Ukraine earlier this year raised questions, is set to appear next week. The Democrats also want to hear from T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, a counselor at the State Department, who also listened in on the Trump-Zelenskiy call, they said.

It’s unclear whether Pompeo will comply with the committees’ request for documents by Friday. He had declined to comply with their previous requests for information.

Pompeo, traveling in Italy to meet with the country’s president and prime minister, ignored shouted question about the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday.

The House investigators are prepared for battle as they probe more deeply into the State Department to try to understand why the administration sought to restrict access to Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders.

The whistleblower alleged in an Aug. 12 letter to Congress that the White House tried to “lock down” Trump’s July 25 phone call with the new Ukrainian president because it was worried about the contents being leaked to the public.

In recent days, it has been disclosed that the administration similarly tried to restrict information about Trump’s calls with other foreign leaders, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, by moving memos onto a highly classified computer system.

“It’s going to be one heck of a fight to get that information,” Schiff told House Democrats during a conference call over the weekend, according to a person granted anonymity to discuss the private session.

As Trump continued to rage against the impeachment inquiry, there was little evidence of a broader White House response. And few outside allies were rushing to defend the president.

Trump has long measured allies’ loyalty by their willingness to fight for him on TV, and he complained bitterly this week that few had done so. And those who did, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” he believed had flubbed their appearance, according to a person not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations.

Though there has been growing discontent with Giuliani in the West Wing and State Department, where some officials blame him for leading Trump into the Ukraine mess, the president continued to stand by his personal lawyer.

Giuliani, who hired former assistant special Watergate prosecutor Jon Sale a day after being hit with his own subpoena, continued to push false Biden corruption accusations and promised to fight against Democratic investigators.

The Ukraine matter remains the central focus as Democrats investigate whether Trump’s suggestion that the east European country’s new president be in touch with Giuliani and Barr to “look into” Biden amounts to a solicitation of foreign interference in the upcoming 2020 election.

The call unfolded against the backdrop of a $250 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine that was being readied by Congress but stalled by the White House.

Ukraine’s president told reporters Tuesday he has never met or spoken with Giuliani.

Zelenskiy insisted that “it is impossible to put pressure on me.” He said he stressed the importance of the military aid repeatedly in discussions with Trump, but “it wasn’t explained to me” why the money didn’t come through until September.

Not all business was halted between the White House and Congress. Even as the impeachment confrontation boiled, House Democrats briefed White House staffers on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s prescription drug legislation. Lowering drug costs is a top policy priority for both the speaker and the president. Joe Grogan, a top Trump domestic policy adviser, called it a “very productive start.”

https://www.vox.com/2019/10/1/20893754/trump-impeachment-pompeo-letter-house-democrats-deposition

Story 2: Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker Said Nothing Supporting The Unbelievable Alan Schiff — Videos

See the source image

Disagreement follows Ukraine envoy interview

WATCH: Volker said ‘nothing’ to support Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Rep. Jordan says

The House deposes 1st witness in impeachment inquiry l ABC News

 

Collins: ‘I’ve had it’ with Democrats trying to impeach Trump

 

The Volker Deposition

Kurt Volker, President Trump’s former envoy to Ukraine, arrives at the U.S. Capitol, October 3, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The big story of the last 48 hours wasn’t President Trump’s outlandish call for China to investigate the Bidens (another instance of presidential trolling at its worst), but the release of the texts documenting some of the internal back-and-forth over Ukraine policy. They are bad news because they are a sign that this controversy won’t be limited to the four corners of the transcript of the July 25 call. The best case was that Trump was shooting from the hip on the call and nothing much came of it, a scenario that got at least a little more credence from reports that the Ukrainians didn’t know until a month later that their aid was being withheld. Now, we know that the matter was more involved than that, and also went beyond Rudy Giuliani.

But we are also dealing with text exchanges without the full context, and so, once again, we should want to know more before making big pronouncements one way or the other.

Volker’s opening statement is another piece of the puzzle, and hopefully we will get his entire deposition soon.

Here he is on the meeting between Giuliani and President Zelensky’s aide, Andrey Yermak:

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/the-volker-deposition/

Ex-Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker tells lawmakers he DID warn Ukraine to stay out of U.S. elections while also cautioning Rudy Giuliani about his sources and insisting he didn’t know about plan to push Biden investigation

  • Kurt Volker was special envoy to Ukraine until last Friday when he abruptly resigned after being named in the whistleblower complaint
  • The one-time career diplomat becomes the first person to be deposed by committees carrying out impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump
  • Said nothing as he walked to the committee room where he was being questioned behind closed doors by attorneys and congressional staff members
  • Is being asked about his role in Ukraine and his dealings with Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Pompeo 
  • Volker’s friend: ‘He’s not going to take a fall needlessly for people if it’s not warranted’

The special envoy to Ukraine mentioned in the notorious whistle-blower complaint told lawmakers conducting an impeachment inquiry Thursday he warned Ukrainian officials to stay out of U.S. politics.

Kurt Volker, who resigned as U.S. special envoy to Ukraine on Friday, gave a deposition to House Intelligence Committee members, in a closed-door session at times chaired by President Trump’s nemesis, California Rep. Adam Schiff.  

Volker’s statement about his warnings to Ukraine appears to coincide with an allegation by the anonymous whistle-blower. The whistle-blower, identified as a CIA officer, wrote that on July 26 – the day after Trump’s infamous call with the president of Ukraine – he went to the capital to provide advice on how to handle Trump’s requests of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

‘Based on multiple readouts of these meetings recounted to me by various U.S. officials, Ambassadors Volker and [U.S. ambassador to the EU Gordon] Sondland reportedly provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to “navigate” the demands that the President had made of Mr. Zelenskyy,’ the whistle-blower wrote.

Volker also told lawmakers he wasn’t involved at all in the effort, spearheaded by Trump lawyer Giuliani, to have Ukraine investigate the conduct of Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Volker in his deposition also said he warned Giuliani to waive off bad information being provided to him by Ukrainian officials, the Washington Post reported.  He told Giuliani that his sources were unreliable and that he should be careful about believing information from a former Ukrainian prosecutor, according to the report.

That report came shortly after Giuliani once again took to Twitter to establish that he did not work alone in his efforts to prod Ukraine on the Bidens and his claim of 2016 election interference that might include the country – in part by posting his text messages with Volker.

Kurt Volker, 54, provided documents and printed materials for his deposition.

Volker said nothing as he walked to the committee room to be questioned by congressional staff members about his role in Ukraine and his dealings with Trump, Giuliani and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Schiff took over the questioning at one point.

Republicans from the ranks of three committees conducting the impeachment inquiry blasted the information as nothing new.

“Not one thing he has said comports with any of the Democrats´ impeachment narrative, not one thing,” said Trump ally Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. 

Volker got questioned specifically on what he knows about the president pressing the Ukrainians to investigate Joe Biden and his son. Volker said he was unaware of the specific request. 

Volker told the House investigators it was unusual for the U.S. to withhold aid to Ukraine, but said he was given no explanation for it, according to a person familiar with the deposition.

‘He’s not going to take a fall needlessly for people if it’s not warranted,’ Evelyn Farkas, Volker’s friend who worked as deputy assistant secretary of defense for three years under Barack Obama, told the Washington Examiner before the meeting.

Giuliani, who said he only got involved in U.S.-Ukraine relations on request of the State Department, insists that Volker was the one who orchestrated his outreach to Zelensky’s team.

‘He should step forward and explain what he did,’ Giuliani said last week. ‘I got a call from Volker. Volker said, ‘Would you meet with him? It would be helpful to us. We really want you to do it.”  

Arriving: Kurt Volker, who quit as special envoy to Ukraine last Friday, became the first person to testify to the impeachment inquiry with behind closed doors questioning by Congress staff

Arriving: Kurt Volker, who quit as special envoy to Ukraine last Friday, became the first person to testify to the impeachment inquiry with behind closed doors questioning by Congress staff

Key questions: Kurt Volker is being questioned on what he knew about Donald Trump's call to Volodymyr Zelensky pressing for an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden

Key questions: Kurt Volker is being questioned on what he knew about Donald Trump's call to Volodymyr Zelensky pressing for an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden

Key questions: Kurt Volker is being questioned on what he knew about Donald Trump’s call to Volodymyr Zelensky pressing for an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last week that the string of congressional investigations into Trump are now part of an impeachment inquiry, and Volker is the first person to testify since then.

Volker quit suddenly Friday, two days after the White House published a transcript of Trump’s call with Zelensky, and after Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, released text exchanges between him and the diplomat.

Ahead of the hearing, Republicans protested that their side was not getting the same time to ask questions of Volker. Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Michael McCaul demanded Republicans be given an ‘equal playing field’ in the impeachment inquiry.

Volker was little known outside of foreign policy circles, but the whistleblower complaint against Trump recast the once obscure diplomat as a central figure in the unfolding impeachment inquiry.

His resignation Friday came after he was asked to testify to Congress about the complaint. A trustee at the McCain Institute, where Volker works as executive director, attempted to explain why Volker quit immediately after the request.

‘It’s fair to say [Volker] resigned his position as envoy so he could assure that he could defend himself and cooperate with the committee,’ Frances Fragos Townsend said.

The whistle-blower complaint describes how in a July 25 phone call Trump repeatedly prodded Zelensky for an investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter.

At the same time his administration delayed the release of millions in military aid to help Ukraine fight Russia-backed separatists.

The complaint, made by an anonymous CIA agent, says Volker met in Kyiv with Zelensky and other Ukrainian political figures a day after the call and he provided advice about how to ‘navigate’ Trump´s demands.

‘I think he was doing the best he could,’ said retired senior U.S. diplomat Daniel Fried, who described the actions of his former colleague as trying to guide Ukrainians on ‘how to deal with President Trump under difficult circumstances.’

Text message release: Donald Trump's personal attorney showed Fox News some of his exchanges with Kurt Volker, then published them on twitter

Text message release: Donald Trump’s personal attorney showed Fox News some of his exchanges with Kurt Volker, then published them on twitter

 Volker’s role, along with Pompeo´s confirmation that he was also on Trump’s July 25 call, deeply entangles the State Department in the impeachment inquiry now shadowing the White House.

The State Department said Volker has confirmed that he put a Zelensky adviser in contact with Giuliani at the Ukraine adviser’s request, and the president’s personal attorney has said he was in frequent contact with Volker.

Separately, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Volker met last year with a top official from the same Ukrainian energy firm that paid Biden´s son Hunter to serve on its board. The meeting occurred even as Giuliani pressed Ukraine´s government to investigate the company and the Bidens´ involvement with it.

While serving as the U.S. envoy for Ukraine, Volker met with Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, in New York last year even as Giuliani was pressing Ukraine’s government to investigate the company and the Bidens’ involvement with it.

Hunter Biden accepted a board position with Burisma, a Ukrainian natural energy company, in 2014 – while his father was still serving as vice president. He stepped down from his position with the firm earlier this year.

The move raised eyebrows in Washington with claims of potential conflict of interests. The Obama administration dismissed these concerns, citing Hunter is a ‘private citizen.’ 

Pompeo has accused congressional investigators of trying to ‘bully’ and ‘intimidate’ State Department officials with subpoenas for documents and testimony, suggesting he would seek to prevent them from providing information.

But the committee managed to schedule the deposition with Volker as well as one next week with former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch

Yovanovitch was prematurely called back to the U.S. from her three-year assignment in Ukraine, which began during Obama’s administration. Her removal was likely a result of Giuliani’s efforts to shake up U.S.-Ukraine relations – and reports indicated then-National Security Advisor John Bolton was not happy with the decision.

The spotlight is an unlikely place for Volker, who was brought into the current administration by Trump´s first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, to serve as envoy for Ukraine. He worked in a volunteer capacity and while retaining his job as head of the John McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.

Though his name may not have been known before last week to most Americans, Volker had a long diplomatic career, often working behind the scenes. He was a principal deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs before becoming the U.S. ambassador to NATO in 2008.

In his most recent role as envoy to Ukraine, he spoke openly of U.S. support for Ukrainian sovereignty. Last year, he criticized the expansion of Russian naval operations and Russia’s resistance to full deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping mission in eastern Ukraine to monitor the fight against the Russia-backed separatists.

Pompeo himself mentioned Volker during an appearance in Rome on Wednesday when he confirmed his participation in the call, saying he had been focused on ‘taking down the threat that Russia poses’ in Ukraine and to help the country build its economy.

Retired senior U.S. diplomat Daniel Fried described Volker as a ‘dedicated public servant and professional, a problem solver.’

‘In all of the years I’ve worked with him, we never had a partisan conversation,’ Fried said. ‘He’s an utter professional.’

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? THE VERY COMPLICATED STEPS INVOLVED IN IMPEACHING DONALD TRUMP

Nancy Pelosi announcing a formal impeachment investigation is only the start of what will be an epic legal and constitutional clash.

Here is how impeachment goes from here.

1) Investigations step up

Six committees are now tasked by Pelosi with investigating Donald Trump with the intention of deciding whether he should be impeached. They are the House Judiciary, Oversight, Intelligence, Ways and Means, Financial Services and Foreign Affairs committees. All of them are now likely to issue a flurry of subpoenas which is certain to lead to a new: 

2) Court battle over subpoenas – which could go to the Supreme Court

The Trump administration has so far resisted subpoenas by claiming executive privilege and is certain to continue to do so. Federal judges are already dealing with litigation over subpoenas for Trump’s tax and financial records and many more cases are likely to follow. But the courts have never settled the limits of executive privilege and whether an impeachment inquiry effectively gives Congress more power to overcome it. If Trump fights as hard as he can, it is likely to make its way to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, expect: 

3) More hearings

Democrats know they need to convince the public that Trump needs to be put on trial and the best way to do that is hearings like those which electrified the nation during Watergate. They botched the Mueller hearing but if they produce question and answer sessions with people from Trump-world which cause public outrage, they are on their way to:

4) Drawing up formal articles of impeachment in committee 

The charge sheet for impeachment – the ‘articles’ – set out what Trump is formally accused of. It has no set format – it can be as long or as short as Congress decides. Three such set of articles have been drawn up – for Andrew Johnson on 1868, Richard Nixon in 1974, and Bill Clinton in 1998. Johnson’s were the most extensive at 11, Nixon faced three, and Bill Clinton four but with a series of numbered charges in each article. Once drawn up, the judicial committee votes on them and if approved, sends them to the House for:

5) Full floor vote on impeachment

The constitution says the House needs a simple majority to proceed, but has to vote on each article. Nixon quit before such a vote so Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton are the only precedent. The House passed two out of the three articles against Clinton and all 11 against Johnson. Passing even one article leads to:

6) Senate impeachment trial

Even if the Senate is clearly not in favor of removing the president, it has to stage a trial if the House votes for impeachment. The hearing is in not in front of the full Senate, but ‘evidentiary committees’ – in theory at least similar to the existing Senate committees. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over it, but the procedures are set by senators. Members of the House prosecute Trump as ‘managers,’ bringing witnesses and presenting evidence to set out their case against the president. The president can defend himself, or, as Clinton did, use attorneys to cross-examine the witnesses. The committee or committees report to the full Senate. Then it can debate in public or deliberate in private on the guilt or innocence of the president. It holds a single open floor vote which will deliver:

7) The verdict

Impeachment must be by two-thirds of the Senate. Voting for impeachment on any one article is good enough to remove the president from office. There is no appeal. 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7533459/Once-obscure-diplomat-Volker-center-Trump-inquiry.html

Kurt Volker

Kurt Douglas Volker (born December 27, 1964)[3] is an American diplomat who served as the U.S. Ambassador to NATO and presently serves as executive director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership. He worked in a volunteer capacity as the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine until his resignation on September 27, 2019.[4][5]

Background

Kurt Volker was born in 1964 in Pennsylvania, to Benjamin and Thelma (Rowdon) Volker.[6] He graduated from Temple University with a B.A. in International Affairs in 1984. He also holds an M.A. in International Relations from The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.[7]

Career

Public service

Volker began his career in foreign affairs as an analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency in 1986.[3] In 1988, he joined the United States Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer in the United States Foreign Service.[3]While in the Foreign Service, he served in various assignments overseas including London and Brussels, and the US Embassy in Budapest (1994–1997). Volker was special assistant to the United States special envoy for Bosnia negotiations, Richard Holbrooke.[8]

Volker served as a legislative fellow on the staff of Senator John McCain from 1997 to 1998. In 1998, he became first secretary of the US mission to NATO, and in 1999 he was sent to Deputy Director of NATO Secretary-General George Robertson’s private office, serving in that position until 2001.[9]

He then became acting director for European and Eurasian Affairs for the National Security Council. In that capacity he was in charge of US preparations for 2004 Istanbul summit of NATO members and the 2002 Prague summit. In July 2005, Volker became the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, serving in that position until he was appointed United States Permanent Representative to NATO in July 2008 by President George W. Bush.[9] Volker served in that position from July 2, 2008 to May 15, 2009.[9]

Private sector

Volker went into the private sector in 2009, becoming an independent director at The Wall Street Fund Inc,[10] where he worked until 2012. He was a member of the board of directors at Capital Guardian Funds Trust[11]beginning in 2013.[12] Volker was also an independent director at Evercore Wealth Management Macro Opportunity Fund until 2012.[13]

Volker served as a senior advisor at McLarty Associates, a global consulting firm from 2010–2011.

In 2011, he joined BGR Group, a Washington-based lobbying firm and investment bank, where he currently serves as a managing director in the firm’s international group.[14]

He then became executive director of Arizona State University’s McCain Institute for International Leadership[15] when it was launched[16] in 2012.

He has been a Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies since September 2009, and a Senior Advisor at the Atlantic Council since October 2009. Volker is currently listed as a trustee at the CG Funds Trust,[17] and a member of the board of trustees at IAU College in Aix-en-Provence. He is also a member of the board of directors at The Hungary Initiatives Foundation.[18] In addition, Volker is a member of the Atlantic Partnership[19] with such luminaries as Senator Sam Nunn, Dr Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, and Lord Powell of Bayswater among others.

Special Representative for Ukraine

2017 interview of Ambassador Volker by Voice of America

On July 7, 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appointed Ambassador Kurt Volker as the US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations.[20][21] Volker accompanied Tillerson on his trip to Ukraine two days later. On September 27, 2019, Volker resigned from this official, yet volunteer, position.[5][22]

Trump–Ukraine controversy

President Volodymyr Zelensky at his 2019 inauguration; he is shaking hands with Ambassador Volker as US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry looks on.

In mid-September 2019, reports began to surface suggesting that a whistleblower complaint had been submitted to Michael K. Atkinson, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, which he found to be credible and a matter of “urgent concern”.[23] Subsequently, claims were advanced by various chairmen of U.S. House committees that Kurt Volker, while acting in his official capacity as US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, had been told by the White House “to intercede with President Zelensky” about investigations regarding Joe Biden and Paul Manafort.[24] Volker met with Zelensky the day after President Trump spoke by phone with the Ukrainian president,[25] a call which would later reportedly result in a whistleblower complaint.[26] Two days after Volker’s meeting, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats resigned, resulting in a stand-off regarding whether the new acting DNI would share the complaint with Congress.

On September 26, 2019, the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released the unclassified text of this whistleblower complaint regarding the interactions between US President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.[27] In this document, Ambassador Volker, along with US Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, were described as having “provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to ‘navigate’ the request that the President had made of Mr. Zelenskyy”.[28]

That same day Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani posted on Twitter a screenshot that purported to be a text message from Volker to Giuliani, stating, “Mr. Mayor — really enjoyed breakfast this morning. As discussed, connecting you here with Andrey Yermak [uk],[29] who is very close to President Zelensky. I suggest we schedule a call together on Monday — maybe 10am or 11am Washington time? Kurt”.[30][31]

NBC News has reported, in regard to the Volker text that Giuliani allegedly received, “Whether Volker was acting on orders from Trump is unclear, and the State Department hasn’t said why Volker made the introduction, other than that the Ukrainian aide requested it. But the introduction ultimately led to a meeting between Yermak and Giuliani in Spain that the whistleblower wrote was a ‘direct follow-up’ to Trump’s call.”[21]

In the White House transcript of the July 25 telephone call between the two presidents, President Zelensky is quoted as saying, “I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine.”[32] Notably, the date on the screenshot of the purported text message from Volker to Giuliani is July 19, six days earlier.[31]

On September 27, 2019, Volker resigned hours after congressional Democrats announced he would be called to provide a deposition.[5][33]

Volker was interviewed in a closed session of the House committees leading the Trump impeachment inquiry on October 3, 2019, and his prepared statement was made public on October 4, 2019.[34] The Washington Post reported that he asserted he had warned Giuliani that he was receiving untrustworthy information about the Bidens from Ukrainian political figures.[35][36][37][38]

Personal life

In June 2019, Volker married Georgian journalist for Voice of America Ia Meurmishvili. He was previously married to Karen Volker, with whom he had two sons.[citation needed] He speaks English, Hungarian, Swedish, and French.[39]

References…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Volker

 

Double Standards on Ukraine

Former Vice President Joe Biden makes a statement during an event in Wilmington, Del., September 24, 2019. (Bastiaan Slabbers/Reuters)

Democrats in Congress and the media pretend to swoon over conduct they accepted when Obama did it.House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff’s opening statement at today’s hearing, a grilling of National Intelligence Director Joseph Maguire, was remarkable. To begin with, he recited a parody of the conversation between President Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky that was so absurd, it would not have made it into a Grade-C mob movie. A telling decision by Schiff, a capable former prosecutor: If you have an extortionate conversation, you quote it. If you need to imagine it into something it isn’t, that means it is not an extortionate conversation.

But more to the point, the relationship of dependency intensified in 2015 due to the flight to Moscow of Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych. At that point, a new Ukrainian government more to the Obama administration’s liking, under President Petro Poroshenko, came to power. It was desperate for American help, financially and security-wise, which is why Vice President Biden was in a position to pressure it into firing the prosecutor who was conducting a corruption investigation of Burisma, the energy company that had appointed Hunter Biden to its board and was lavishly compensating him.

In Ball of Collusion, I outline some of the extensive evidence that in 2016, the Obama administration’s law-enforcement agencies pressured their Ukrainian counterparts to revive a dormant corruption investigation of Paul Manafort. I summarized the matter in an excerpt for Fox News a few days back:

During the . . . early 2016 weeks when [Alexandra] Chalupa [a Ukrainian-American and DNC operative] was tapping her Ukrainian sources and giving Democrats a heads-up about a potential Manafort-Trump alliance, NABU [Ukraine’s anti-corruption] investigators and Ukrainian prosecutors journeyed to Washington. There, the Obama administration arranged for them to huddle with the FBI, the Justice Department, the State Department, and the White House’s National Security Council (agencies that coordinated frequently throughout the collusion caper).

Andrii Telizhenko, a political officer at Ukraine’s embassy in Washington, later told The Hill’s John Solomon that the U.S. officials uniformly stressed “how important it was that all of our anti-corruption efforts be united.” The officials also indicated to their Ukrainian counterparts that they were keen to revive the investigation of payments by Yanukovych’s ousted Party of Regions government to an American political consultant — i.e., the FBI’s Paul Manafort probe [that was reportedly closed without a recommendation of charges in 2014] . . .

Nazar Kholodnitskiy, Ukraine’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor, told Solomon that soon after the January 2016 Washington meetings, he found that Ukrainian officials were effectively meddling in the American presidential election. Another top Ukrainian lawman, Kostiantyn Kulyk, recalled that after the Kiev contingent’s return home from the United States, there was lots of buzz about helping the Americans with the Party of Regions investigation.

If it is of importance today that Ukraine is beholden to the president and the American administration for help, was it not at least equally important in 2016? I have no problem with the principle that the president should not exploit his power over foreign relations for partisan political purposes. I have a problem with the double standard.

See the way the game is played: When the Obama administration leans on Ukraine for help in an investigation of political opponents, the Democrats and the media say, “But look how corrupt Paul Manafort was!” When the Trump administration leans on Ukraine for help in an investigation of political opponents, the Democrats and the media say, “Abuse of power — impeach him!”

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/09/double-standards-on-ukraine/

Breaking Down the Whistleblower Frenzy

(Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Congress should investigate the whistleblower claim that Trump made a dangerous ‘promise’ to a foreign leader . . . but not because of a statute.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE

The Democrats’ media narrative of impeachment portrays President Trump and his administration as serial law-breakers who, true to form, obstruct all congressional investigations of wrongdoing. This then becomes the analytical framework for every new controversy. There are at least two fundamental problems with this.First, our constitutional system is based on friction between competing branches vested with separate but closely related powers. The Framers understood that the two political branches would periodically try to usurp each other’s authorities. Congress often does this by enactments that seek to subject executive power to congressional (or judicial) supervision. Presidential pushback on such laws is not criminal obstruction; it is the Constitution in action.

Second, we’ve become so law-obsessed that we miss the forest for the trees. Often, the least important aspect of a controversy — viz., whether a law has been violated — becomes the dominant consideration. Short shrift is given to the more consequential aspects, such as whether we are being competently governed or whether power is being abused.

These problems are now playing out in the Trump controversy du jour (or should I say de l’heure?): the intelligence community whistleblower.

As this column is written on Friday afternoon, the story is still evolving, with the president tweetingas ever, and the New York Times producing a report by no fewer than eight of its top journalists, joining the seven (and counting) who are working it for the Washington Post, which broke the story.

It stems from — what else? — anonymous leaks attributed to former intelligence officials. Whether they are among the stable of such retirees now on the payroll at anti-Trump cable outlets is not known. While the media purport to be deeply concerned about Trump-administration law-breaking in classified matters, there is negligible interest in whether the intelligence officials leaking to them are flouting the law.

A Promise to Ukraine?
In any event, we learn that an unidentified “whistleblower” has filed a complaint with the intelligence community’s inspector general (IGIC), relating that President Trump had recent interaction with an unidentified foreign leader during which the president made a “promise” which is not further described to us, other than that the whistleblower found it very “troubling.” The inference that President Trump is the subject of the complaint (or at least subject) derives from the fact that intelligence officials say it involves someone who is “outside the intelligence community,” and that there are issues of “privilege” that justify non-disclosure to Congress. (The president is “outside” the intelligence community in the sense of being over it as chief executive; and, as I discussed in a column earlier this week, presidents have executive privilege, which shields communications with advisers.)

The latest news to break suggests that the communications (there is more than one) relate, at least in part, to Ukraine. The whistleblower complaint is believed to have been filed on August 12. President Trump is known to have spoken by phone with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25. Rudy Giuliani, who is Trump’s private lawyer (and who hired me as a prosecutor many years ago), has been open about urging Ukraine to pursue an investigation implicating Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden. Specifically, when he was Obama-administration vice president, Biden is rumored to have pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was conducting a corruption investigation of a natural-gas company. Biden’s son, Hunter, sat on the company’s board, and his law firm was lavishly compensated.

Thus, the theorizing in anti-Trump circles is that an intelligence official privy to details of the July 25 call must have learned that the president made a quid pro quo arrangement with Ukraine, promising some kind of assistance in exchange for movement on an investigation that could politically wound Trump’s potential 2020 opponent. (A CNN interview that became a spirited argument between Giuliani and Chris Cuomo got lots of play on Friday. Meanwhile, to my knowledge, there has not been much congressional interest in examining Obama-administration and Clinton-campaign dealings with Ukraine in 2016, when our government encouraged Kiev to investigate Paul Manafort, and a leak about a claim of lavish cash payments to Manafort resulted in his removal as Trump’s campaign chairman.)

President Trump is pooh-poohing the whistleblower complaint as a fabrication by “Radical Left Democrats and their Fake News Partners, headed up again by Little Adam Schiff.” That last derogatory reference is to the California Democrat and Trump antagonist who chairs the House Intelligence Committee. Conveniently omitted by the president are the facts that (a) the whistleblower has tried to comply with federal law and go through government channels rather than leaking information to the Trump-hostile media; (b) the IGIC to whom the whistleblower made his report is a Trump appointee, namely Michael Atkinson, a career Justice Department prosecutor who got the IGIC gig in 2018; and (c) Atkinson concluded that the whistleblower’s complaint was credible and sufficiently serious to be deemed a matter of “urgent concern.”

‘Urgent Concern’ — Another Confusing Dual-Use Term
This brings us to a common situation that we rarely notice but that often skews public debate. I’ll call it the dual-use term: A word or phrase that has both a common meaning because it is invoked in everyday parlance and a specialized meaning in statutory law — either because Congress has taken the trouble to define it or the courts have authoritatively construed it.

“Urgent concern” is a dual-use term. Such terms confuse things because politicians seamlessly shift from the common to the specialized meaning. Frequently, legal consequences limited to the narrower legal sense of the term are triggered by anything that fits the term’s broad general understanding. To take a notorious example, “collusion” — the subject, ahem, of a certain new book— has both a broad general connotation (concerted activity that can be benign or sinister, or anything in between) and a narrow specialized meaning when invoked in law-enforcement investigations (criminal conspiracy). For years, Chairman Schiff and other Trump critics have intimated that episodes of unremarkable collusion in the broad sense (e.g., negotiating policy or real-estate deals with Russians) are evidence of illegal collusion in the narrow, specialized sense (conspiracy to commit cyberespionage with Russians).

The common meaning of urgent concern is obvious: It could describe anything that raises the specter of imminent harm. But urgent concern is also a specialized term in federal law. Under Section 3033(k)(5)(G) (of Title 50, U.S. Code), an “urgent concern” relates to specified problems involving intelligence activities and classified information that are within the responsibility of the Director of National Intelligence. The DNI is the cabinet official who oversees the so-called community of intelligence agencies. The urgent concerns Section 3033 outlines include, for example, violations or abuses of laws or executive orders, or deficiencies in the funding, administration or operation of an intelligence activity. Section 3033 urgent concerns also include misleading of Congress regarding intelligence activities, and reprisals against whistleblowers who report an urgent concern.

Notice the difference between the common and statutory meaning.

Any executive action that imperils national security, particularly in connection with classified information falling into the hands of a foreign power, could accurately be described as a matter of urgent concern, as that term is commonly understood. Even if there were no Section 3033, and there were no specialized statutory definition of “urgent concern,” it would be entirely appropriate for Congress to inquire into such matters.

On the other hand, if a situation qualifies as one of the narrower sets of “urgent concerns” defined by Section 3033, it triggers the mandatory reporting procedures prescribed in the statute. To wit, if an intelligence official believes a Section 3033 urgent concern has arisen, that official (a whistleblower) may report the matter to the IGIC with an eye toward its transmission to Congress. The IGIC then has two weeks to decide whether a complaint is credible. If the IGIC so finds, the matter must be referred to the DNI, who must notify the congressional intelligence committees within one week.

Section 3033 Does Not Apply to the President
Here, the whistleblower (who is reportedly represented by a lawyer well versed in Section 3033) believed President Trump’s undescribed promise to the unidentified foreign leader qualified as an “urgent concern” under the statute. On August 12, the whistleblower reported the matter to IGIC Atkinson. In what I believe was an error, Atkinson concluded that the complaint did indeed spell out a Section 3033 urgent concern because it was credible and raised a serious issue. (As we’ll see, my quarrel is with the application of the statute to the president; I assume the Trump-appointed IGIC is correct that the complaint is credible and serious.)

Atkinson thus notified Joseph Maguire, the acting DNI. Maguire, however, did not believe the matter met the Section 3033 definition of an urgent concern, because it related to an activity by someone not under the authority of the DNI (inferentially, the president). Consequently, Maguire declined to pass the complaint along to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

As noted above, current and former intelligence officials continue to leak like sieves in their years-long campaign against the sitting president. Thus, the existence of the complaint, the report of it to the IGIC, and the acting DNI’s refusal to alert Congress became known to the media and to Chairman Schiff. The chairman is claiming that the Trump administration is violating the law by failing to notify Congress of an urgent concern, as mandated by Section 3033.

In my view, Chairman Schiff’s claim, based on IGIC Atkinson’s interpretation of the statute, is wrong. Section 3033 does not apply to a president’s negotiations with or commitments to foreign powers, or to a president’s sharing of classified information with foreign powers. To repeat, the statute applies to intelligence activities by government officials acting under the authority of the DNI. If I am right, the Trump administration should not be accused of law-breaking for declining to follow Section 3033, even if the whistleblower had an “urgent concern” in the ordinary understanding of that term.

In our system, the conduct of foreign policy is a nigh plenary authority of the chief executive. The only exceptions are explicitly stated in the Constitution (Congress regulates foreign commerce, the Senate must approve treaties, etc.). Congress may not enact statutes that limit the president’s constitutional power to conduct foreign policy; the Constitution may not be amended by statute.

Consistent with this principle, the Justice Department has long adhered to the so-called “clear statement” rule: If the express terms of a statute do not apply its provisions to the president, then the statute is deemed not to apply to the president if its application would conflict with the president’s constitutional powers. Section 3033 does not refer to the president. By its terms, it applies to intelligence-community officials. And, in any event, it may not properly be applied to the president if doing so would hinder the president’s capacious authority to conduct foreign policy.

At least when a Republican is in the White House, progressives are enthralled by laws that, in effect, empower bureaucrats — here, “intelligence professionals”– to second-guess and otherwise check the president’s power to direct the executive branch. That is not our system.

Congress’s Selective Interest in Presidential Abuses of Power
In conducting foreign affairs, the president may make commitments to other foreign leaders (subject to the Constitution’s treaty clause). The president, unlike his subordinates, also has the power to disclose any classified information he chooses to disclose. Like all presidential powers, these may be abused or exercised rashly. When there is a credible allegation that they have been, that should cause all of us urgent concern.

To take one example, President Obama misled Congress and the nation regarding the concessions he made to Iran in connection with the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). The Obama administration, moreover, structured the arrangement so that commitments to Iran were withheld from Congress — as if what were at stake were understandings strictly between Tehran and the U.N.’s monitor (the International Atomic Energy Agency), somehow of no concern to the United States. Representative Schiff’s skepticism about Iran became muted when a Democratic president cut the deal. Yet these cloak-and-dagger arrangements with a jihadist regime that proclaims itself America’s mortal enemy, in which a U.S. president willfully end-ran the Constitution’s treaty provisions and congressional oversight, were and remain urgent concerns for millions of Americans and most members of Congress.

So how should we evaluate the current controversy?

For starters, we should recognize what is important and what is not. Section 3033 should be the least of our considerations. As argued above, it very likely does not apply, despite the IGIC’s conclusion to the contrary. Its lack of application would not stop the whistleblower from getting the information to Congress (though it may affect whether the whistleblower is protected from reprisals). More to the point, it is irrelevant whether Congress should have been notified within one week of X date as prescribed by statute. Regardless of whether I am right about the statute’s inapplicability, the intelligence committees are now on notice and positioned to examine the matter.

The issue is not Section 3033 and whether the DNI should have alerted Schiff. The issue is whether President Trump has abused his foreign-affairs powers.

On that score, we should withhold judgment until more facts are in. Democrats would have us leap to the conclusion that impeachable offenses have been committed; the president would have us dismiss the matter out of hand as a political contrivance. There are reasons to doubt both of them.

For one thing, there has been a three-year campaign by current and former government officials to undermine the Trump presidency by lawless leaks of politicized intelligence. On the other side of the coin, though, IGIC Michael Atkinson is a Trump appointee. It is he who found the whistleblower’s complaint serious and credible. And the acting DNI, Joseph Maguire, does not appear to be refuting that conclusion; his quibble (which I share) appears to be that Section 3033 urgent concerns are inapposite where presidential foreign-affairs powers are involved. Many of President Trump’s foreign policy moves have been impulsive; it is hardly inconceivable that he could have offered a commitment that was poorly thought through. Giuliani, a key outside adviser to the president, has been pressing the Ukrainians to look into Biden, and, when asked on Friday about whether he discussed Biden in the July call with Ukraine’s president, Trump declined to answer directly, replying, “Someone ought to look into Joe Biden.”

And maybe someone should. The fact that Biden may end up being Trump’s rival in the 2020 election does not immunize him from investigation. If he used his political influence to squeeze a foreign power for his son’s benefit, that should be explored. Of course, Trump should not use the powers of his office solely for the purpose of obtaining campaign ammunition to deploy against a potential foe. But all presidents who seek reelection wield their power in ways designed to improve their chances. If Trump went too far in that regard, we could look with disfavor on that while realizing that he would not be the first president to have done so. And if, alternatively, the president had a good reason for making a reciprocal commitment to Ukraine, that commitment would not become improper just because, collaterally, it happened to help Trump or harm Biden politically.

The president has the power to conduct foreign policy as he sees fit. The Congress has the power to subject that exercise to thorough examination. The clash of these powers is a constant in our form of government. It is politics. For once, let’s find out what happened before we leap to DEFCON 1.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/09/trump-whistleblower-claim-congress-should-investigate/

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Kyle Bass

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Kyle Bass
J Kyle Bass.JPG

J. Kyle Bass
Born September 7, 1969 (age 49)

Residence Dallas, TexasUnited States
Nationality American
Alma mater Texas Christian University (B.B.A.)
Occupation Founder & Chief Investment Officer,
Hayman Capital Management

J. Kyle Bass (born September 7, 1969) is an American hedge fund manager. He is the founder and principal of Hayman Capital Management, L.P., a Dallas-based hedge fund focused on global events.[1]

In 2008, Bass successfully predicted and effectively bet against the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis by purchasing credit default swaps on subprime securities which, in turn, increased in value when the real estate bubble burst.[2]

Despite his early success in predicting subprime mortgages, he has received criticism for subsequent poor performance of investments.[3] Bass has made prominent bets based on predictions of debt crisis in Japan and European sovereign debt, and shorted the Chinese yuan premised on a predicted collapse in the Chinese banking system. His fund has also challenged patents held by drug companies and shorted their stocks. His Japanese and European strategies have not been major successes and the Chinese yuan short led to severe losses for his fund in 2017.[4][5] The drug patent challenge campaign fizzled after several legal setbacks.[6]

Contents

Early life

Bass was born on September 7, 1969, in Miami, Florida, where his father managed the Fontainebleau Hotel. His father later moved the family to Dallas, Texas where he managed the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau.[7] Bass attended Texas Christian University on an academic and Division I diving scholarship. In 1992, Bass graduated with honors, earning a B.B.A. in finance with a concentration in real estate.[8]

Career

Before founding Hayman Capital Management in 2005, Bass briefly worked at Prudential Securities from 1992-1994 before joining Bear Stearns in 1994.[9] At Bear Stearns, he rose through the ranks rapidly, becoming a senior managing director at the age of 28 – among the youngest in the firm’s history to carry such a title.[2][8]

In 2001, he joined Legg Mason, signing a five-year deal to form the firm’s first institutional equity office in Texas. Bass told his hiring managers, “In five years and one day, I [will] be launching my own firm.”[9] While at Legg Mason, Bass advised hedge funds and other institutional clients on special situation investment strategies.[2]

In December 2005, when Legg Mason sold the portion of the business where he worked, Bass left Legg Mason and started Hayman Capital Management to serve as the investment manager to a “global special situations” hedge fund that he planned to launch. Bass launched Hayman Capital Management, L.P. with $33 million in assets under management – $5 million he had saved on his own and the balance he had raised from outside investors.[9] Shortly after launching the hedge fund in February 2006, Bass became convinced that there was a residential real-estate bubble in the United States one of the few investors to successfully predict and benefit from the subprime mortgage crisis, bringing him notoriety in the financial services industry.

In 2007, Bass testified as an expert witness before the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises. During his testimony, he addressed: i) the role of credit rating agencies in the structured finance market and ii) policy measures that could be taken to minimize inherent conflicts of interest between rating agencies and issuers.[10]

In 2010, Bass testified before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. During his testimony, he addressed his analysis of the factors that caused the crisis.

After enjoying success in predicting the subprime mortgage crisis and moderate success with debt in Greece and Japan, Bass would make a string of poor bets, leading to a dramatic downsizing of his fund. In April 2014, Bass was among a very few defenders of GM for its failure to address a defect that had been tied to 13 deaths. Hayman at the time owned eight million shares of G.M., making it Hayman’s single biggest holding,[11] Coming to the defense of GM, Bass said on CNBC that of the 13 passengers who had died owing to the defect, 12 “either weren’t wearing their seatbelt or were under the influence of alcohol.” [12] Bass admitted in a late 2014 interview that it had been “a tough year” for Hayman due to owning a lot of GM stock, which was the fund’s biggest position in 2014.[13]

After the losing year in 2014, investor’s pulled out nearly a quarter of Hayman’s capital and the firm was forced to liquidate most of its stock holdings.[14] Bass called 2015 one of his fund’s worst years.[15] By early 2019, Hayman had $423.6 million in discretionary assets under management, down from $2.3 billion at the end of 2014.[16]

Fund performance

The long term performance of Hayman Capital’s flagship fund is described by the New York Post as “small caliber”.[14] In the period from 2008 to mid-2015, the flagship fund experienced a very modest annualized performance of 1.56%.[14] The flagship fund had a tremendously successful year in 2007, having gained 212%, based on the subprime mortgage meltdown bet that brought fame to Bass.[14] The fund also gained 16% in 2012 based on bets on Greek debt. The fund lost 1.4% in 2014 and suffered its worst year in 2017 with a 19% loss (in contrast to a 19% surge of the S&P 500) due to Hayman’s misplaced short on a collapse in the Chinese yuan.[14][5]

Investment positions

Subprime mortgages

Bass first began formulating his subprime strategy after he met with an investment banker from New York while attending a wedding in Spain where they discussed how and why the Subprime Mezzanine CDO business existed.[17][18] After returning to the US, Bass hired several private investigators to determine the ease of obtaining a mortgage. Bass spent a significant amount of time studying the residential mortgage market and performed research to identify which residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS) composed of low-quality mortgages were most likely to default. This investment thesis was expressed by purchasing credit default swaps against the securitizations he deemed to be most unstable, which essentially was a manner of shorting the bonds using synthetic instruments. After purchasing the positions for his flagship fund in 2006, Bass raised additional capital for a special fund dedicated exclusively to capitalizing on the opportunity that existed in the market place. Bass managed or advised over $4 billion of positions in subprime RMBS.

In December 2007, after a wave of foreclosures had swept across the US, Bass was featured on Bloomberg TV as making a fortune betting against these subprime securities.

Europe and Japanese debt “doomsday”

After the subprime debt crisis occurred, Bass decided that it was the symptom of a more significant problem with debt and made predictions about debt “doomsday” in Europe and Japan. In 2009 he warned about the possibility of defaults by major countries over the next 3 years.[19] As of 2010, 10-15% of his portfolio was involved in bets against European and Japanese sovereign debts.[20] He went as far predicted that 2012 would be a “doomsday year” for Europe and spoke of a looming breakup of the Eurozone, which, he declared, would lead to defaults in Japan and the United States. He stated in June 2012, “Europe goes first, then Japan and finally the United States.”[21]

Bass has since 2012 also predicted a “full blown crisis” in Japan describing its approach to financing debt as a Ponzi scheme similar to Bernie Madoff‘s investment scam. Most experts have disagreed with his analysis.[22][23] Cullen Roche criticized Bass’s Japan analysis in August 2010, noting that Bass comparing Japan to the EU was an error, since their monetary systems are wildly different. Roche stated “people still fail to understand that a nation with monetary sovereignty that is the supplier of currency in a floating exchange rate system never has a problem funding itself.”[24] In May 2012, Business Insider agreed, faulting Bass’s analysis, since debt-to-GDP ratios do not reflect the interest rate or credit risk of a nation. The Business Insider noted that in a nation that borrows its own currency, public spending finances borrowing.[25]

He has been vocal in public appearances about future calamities stemming from financial meltdown. September 14, 2011, Bass maintained on CNBC that Greece’s only way out of its debt mess was a restructuring. Bass noted that despite the strife it would bring to Greece it was the only measure the nation could take. He added that within a year all of Europe would be in default as well.[26] In a speech reported on January 1, 2014, he assured the audience of his confidence that the next few years would be rife with turmoil, including the eruption of major wars. In his speech, he claimed that with the growing debt and inability to pay it off, eventually social unrest will lead to violent outbreaks. Bass finished his speech stating “War is coming – just as it has throughout history.” [27]

Chinese banking collapse

Starting in July 2015, Bass made a multiyear bet against the Chinese yuan based on a predicted banking collapse in China.[28] Bass would close out his position against the Chinese currency in early 2019 when the predicted devaluation of the currency didn’t occur.[28]

Bass argued in 2015 that the Chinese banking system was undercapitalized and its foreign reserves would be insufficient in a crisis. Bass predicted a hard landing for the Chinese economy following a bank crisis and a severe devaluation of the Chinese currency, variously given as “somewhere between 15%-20%” and “30 to 40 percent”.[29][30]

Hayman suffered its worst year in 2017 with a loss of 19% due to the strengthening of the Chinese yuan.[5]

Drug patent challenge campaign

Bass has attempted to profit from filing and publicizing patent challenges against pharmaceutical companies while also betting against their shares.[31][32] After 2 years of setbacks in his effort, Bass by 2017 ended his patent challenges.[6]

In 2015, Bass organized the Coalition For Affordable Drugs (CFAD) to use the inter partes review (IPR) process to challenge patent validity.[33][34] When he initiated this practice in January 2015, he claimed that his motive was to encourage competition in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and thus bring down prices.[35]

Bass filed a total of 35 patent challenges, in collaboration with Erich Spangenberg who has been called “the world’s most notorious patent troll”,[3] including 33 filed by CFAD and two filed by Bass personally on a not-for-profit basis.[36]

In June 2015, Celgene received permission from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to file a motion seeking sanctions against the CFAD for allegedly abusing the patent-review process. The Wall Street Journal noted that this development was “being closely watched because it raises the possibility that patent officials may put an end” to Bass’s patent-challenge scheme. Celgene also told the patent office, through counsel, that CFAD had threatened to challenge its patents unless Celgene met CFAD’s demands.[37]

In October 2016, Bass prevailed in the case, with USPTO invalidating the two Celgene Corp patents related to its cancer drugs Revlimid, Pomalyst, and Thalomid at issue.[38] However, one year later Celgene was able to convince the Patent Trial and Appeal Board to re-hear the case.[39]

Political relationships

Trump administration

Bass is described by a ProPublica story as a friend of Tommy Hicks Jr, a private investor, who was a hunting buddy to Donald Trump Jr. and had further ties to the Trump administration.[40] According to the investigative story on improper links between Hicks and the Trump administration, Hicks had obtained a hearing for Bass with high level officials at an interagency meeting at the Treasury Department to air views on China.[40] This meeting was at the time Bass held a large short position counting on the fall of the Chinese currency.[40]

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

The BBC has described Bass as having a “good relationship” with Argentina’s president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.[41] In February 2014, Bass said that Argentinian bonds represented a profitable opportunity and called Argentina most “interesting” nation for investments. He was virtually alone in this assessment, with one observer noting the poor state of the Argentine economy. The IB Times noted that the country had “cheated creditors seven times since it gained independence from Spain in 1816,” most recently defaulting on its debt in 1989.[42] When the Argentine government defaulted on its debt in July 2014, Bass supported the move and criticized the bondholders, notably Elliott Management and Aurelius Capital, that, with the support of U.S. federal judge Thomas Griesa, had held out for full payment. Echoing Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, he called these creditors “vultures,” said that they were “holding up 42 million people from progress,” and were holding Argentina for “ransom”.[43] On August 27, 2014, Bass accused Elliott’s Paul Singer of “holding poor countries as hostages,” prompting The New York Post to comment in an editorial the next day that Bass had “sounded more like Argentina’s leftist economy minister Axel Kicillof than a US hedge-fund manager.” [44]

Philanthropy

Bass serves on the board or in an advisory role for a number of charities and organizations.

He has advised the University of Texas System Investment Management Company (UTIMCO), a public university endowment since 2010.

He also current serves or has served on the board of a number of organizations including the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Advisory Group for the Richard A. Mayo Center for Asset Management, Texas Department of Public Safety Foundation, Business Executives for National Security, Comeback America Initiative, Troops First Foundation and Capital for Kids.[45][46][47][48][49][50]

References …

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyle_Bass


China has been seeking to turn American spies for decades. But the rules of the game have changed. About 10 years ago, Charity Wright was a young U.S. military linguist training at the elite Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center at a base called the Presidio in Monterey, California. Like many of her peers, Wright relied on taxis to visit the city. There were usually a few waiting outside the base’s gate. She’d been assigned to the institute’s Mandarin program, so she felt lucky to frequently find herself in the cab of an old man who told her he’d emigrated from China years ago. He was inquisitive in a way she found charming at first, letting her practice her new language skills as he asked about her background and family. After several months, though, she grew suspicious. The old man seemed to have an unusually good memory, and his questions were becoming more specific: Where is it that your father works? What will you be doing for the military once you graduate?Wright had been briefed on the possibility of foreign intelligence operatives collecting information on the institute’s trainees, building profiles for potential recruitment, given that many of them would move on to careers in intelligence. She reported the man to an officer at the base. Not long after, she heard that he’d been arrested and that there had been a crackdown in Monterey on a suspected Chinese spy ring.

Wright went on to spend five years as a cryptologic language analyst with the National Security Agency, assessing communications intercepts from China. Now she works in private-sector cybersecurity. As a reservist, she still holds a U.S. government clearance that allows her access to classified secrets. And she’s still the target of what she suspects are Chinese espionage efforts. Only these days, the agents don’t approach her in person. They get in touch the same way they reached Kevin Mallory: online. She gets messages through LinkedIn and other social-media sites proposing various opportunities in China: a contract with a consulting firm, a trip to speak at a conference for a generous stipend. The offers seem tempting, but this type of outreach comes straight from the Chinese-spy playbook. “I’ve heard that they can be very convincing, and by the time you fly over, they’ve got you in their lair,” Wright told me.

The tactics she saw from the old man in Monterey were “cut and dry HUMINT,” or human intelligence, she said. They were old school. But those tactics have been amplified by the tools of the social-media age, which allow intelligence officers to reach out to their targets en masse from China, where there’s no risk of getting caught. Meanwhile, intelligence experts tell me, Chinese intelligence officers have only been getting better at the traditional skills involved in persuading a target to turn on his or her country.

Donald Trump has made getting tough on China a central aspect of his foreign policy. He has focused on a trade war and tariffs aimed at rectifying what he portrays as an unfair economic playing field—earlier this month, the U.S. designated China as a currency manipulator—while holding onto the idea that China’s powerful leader, Xi Jinping, can be an ally and a friend. U.S. political and business leaders for decades pushed the idea that embracing trade with China would help to normalize its behavior, but Beijing’s aggressive espionage efforts have fueled an emerging bipartisan consensus in Washington that the hope was misplaced. Since 2017, the DOJ has brought at least a dozen cases against alleged agents and spies for conducting cyber- and economic espionage on behalf of China. “The hope was, as they develop, as they become more wealthy, as they start being a part of the club of developed nations, they’re going to change their behavior—once they get closer to the top, they’re going to operate by our rules,” John Demers told me. “What we’ve seen instead is [China] becoming better resourced and more methodical about the theft of information.”

For the past 20 years, America’s intelligence community’s top priority has been counterterrorism. A generation of operations officers and analysts has been geared more toward finding and killing America’s enemies and preventing extremist attacks than toward the more patient and strategic work that comes with peer competition and counterintelligence. If America is indeed entering an era of “great power” conflict with China, then the crux of the struggle will likely take place not on a battlefield, but in the race for information, at least for now. And here China is using an age-old human frailty to gain advantage in the competition with its more powerful adversary: greed. U.S. officials have been warning companies and research institutions not just of the strings that might be attached to Chinese money, but of the danger of corrupted employees turned spies. They are also worried about current and former U.S. officials who have been entrusted with protecting the nation’s secrets.


When I told William Evanina, America’s top counterintelligence official, Wright’s story about the cab driver in Monterey, he replied: “Of course.”

Spy rings operating out of taxis are relatively unoriginal, he told me, and have long been an issue around U.S. military and intelligence installations. An FBI and CIA veteran who is now the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, Evanina has a suspicious mind—and perhaps one of the country’s worst Uber ratings. He sees the risk of intelligence collection and hidden cameras in any hired car, he told me, and if a driver ever tries to make small talk, he immediately shuts it down.

Knowing someone’s background can help an intelligence agency build a profile for potential recruitment. The person might have medical bills piling up, a parent in debt, a sibling in jail, or an infidelity that exposes him or her to blackmail. What really worries Evanina is that so much of this information can now be obtained online, legally and illegally. People can ignore Uber drivers all they want, but a good hacker or even someone savvy at mining social media might be able to track down targets’ financial records, their political views, profiles of their family members, and their upcoming travel plans. “It makes it so damn easy,” he said.

Security breaches happen with alarming regularity. Capital One announced in July that a data breach had exposed about 100 million people in America. During one of my conversations with Wright, she mused that whatever information the old man in the taxi might have wanted to glean from her, all that and much more may have been revealed in the 2015 breach of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. In that sophisticated attack, widely believed to have been carried out by state-sponsored Chinese hackers, an enormous batch of data was stolen, including detailed information the government collects as part of the process of approving security clearances. The stolen information contained “probing questions about an applicant’s personal finances, past substance abuse, and psychiatric care,” according to Wired, as well as “everything from lie detector results to notes about whether an applicant engages in risky sexual behavior.”

Russia, the U.S. adversary that is often included with China in discussions of “near peer” conflict, has a modus operandi when it comes to recruiting spies that is similar to America’s, Evanina said. While some of their intelligence efforts, such as election interference, are loud and aggressive and seemingly unconcerned with being discovered, Russians are careful and targeted when trying to turn a well-placed asset. Russia tends to have veteran intelligence operatives make contact in person and proceed with care and patience. “Their worst-case scenario is getting caught,” Evanina told me. “They take pride in their HUMINT operations. They’re very targeted. They take extra time to increase the percentage of success. Whereas the Chinese don’t care.” (This doesn’t mean that the Chinese can’t also be targeted and discreet when needed, he added.)

“What you have is an intelligence officer sitting in Beijing,” he said. “And he can send out 30,000 emails a day. And if he gets 300 replies, that’s a high-yield, low-risk intelligence operation.” Concerning those who have left government for the private sector—and who sometimes keep their clearance to continue doing sensitive government work—it can be hard to know where to draw the line. Evanina said China will sometimes wait years to target former officials: “Your Spidey sense goes down.” But “your memory is not erased”—that is, they’ve still got the information the Chinese want.

(Alicia Tatone)

Often, Chinese spies don’t even have to look too hard. Many of those who have left U.S. intelligence jobs reveal on their LinkedIn profiles which agencies they worked for and the countries and topics on which they focused. If they still have a government clearance, they might advertise that too. Buried in the questionnaire Evanina filled out for his Senate confirmation is a question asking whether he had any plans for a career after government. “I currently have no plans subsequent to completing government service,” he wrote. When I asked him about this, he admitted that this is becoming less common among intelligence officials his age. (He’s 52.) “All of my friends are leaving like crazy now because they have kids in college,” he said. “The money is [better]. It’s hard to say no.”

If a former intelligence officer lands a job at a prominent government contractor, such as Booz Allen Hamilton or DynCorp International, he or she can expect to be well compensated. But others find themselves in less lucrative posts, or try to strike out on their own. Evanina told me that Chinese intelligence operatives pose online as Chinese professors, think-tank experts, or executives. They usually propose a trip to China as a business opportunity. “Especially the ones who have retired from the CIA, DIA, and are now contractors—they have to make the bucks,” Evanina said. “And a lot of times that’s in China. And they get compromised.”

Once a target is in China, Chinese operatives might try to get the person to start passing over sensitive information in degrees. The first request could be for information that doesn’t seem like a big deal. But by then the trap is set. “When they get that [first] envelope, it’s being photographed. And then they can blackmail you. And then you’re being sucked in,” Evanina said. “One document becomes 10 documents becomes 15 documents. And then you have to rationalize that in your mind: I am not a spy, because they’re forcing me to do this.”

In the cases of Mallory, Hansen, and Lee, Evanina said, the lure wasn’t ideology. It was money. Money was also the lure in two similar cases, in which suspects were convicted of lesser charges than espionage. Both apparently began their relationship with Chinese intelligence officers while still employed in sensitive U.S. government jobs.

In 2016, Kun Shan Chun, a veteran FBI employee who had a top-secret security clearance, pleaded guilty to acting as an agent of China. Prosecutors said that while working for the agency in New York he sent his Chinese handler, “at minimum, information regarding the FBI’s personnel, structure, technological capabilities, general information regarding the FBI’s surveillance strategies, and certain categories of surveillance targets.” And in April, Candace Claiborne, a former State Department employee, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States. According to the criminal complaint, Claiborne, who had served in a number of posts overseas including China, and held a top-secret security clearance, did not report her contacts with suspected Chinese agents, who provided her and a co-conspirator with “tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and benefits,” including New Year’s gifts, international travel and vacations, fashion-school tuition, rent, and cash payments. In exchange, Claiborne provided copies of State Department documents and analysis, prosecutors said.

Evanina’s office in Bethesda, Maryland, features a so-called Wall of Shame, on which hang the photographs of dozens of convicted American traitors—a testament to the struggles that have always plagued the U.S. intelligence community. The Cold War, for example, was marked by disastrous leaks from people such as the CIA officer Aldrich Ames and the FBI agent Robert Hanssen. Larry Chin, a CIA translator, was arrested in 1985 on charges of selling classified information to China over the course of three decades. That came during the so-called Year of the Spy, as the FBI made a series of high-profile arrests of U.S. government officials spying for the Soviet Union, Israel, and even Ghana. The Wall of Shame is currently being renovated, and when it’s unveiled in the fall, it will feature several new faces.Whenever a current or former U.S. intelligence officer has been turned, it takes years to assess the full repercussions. “We have to mitigate that damage for sometimes a decade,” Evanina said.


Two decades ago, Chinese intelligence officers were largely seen as relatively amateurish, even sloppy, a former U.S. intelligence official who spent years focusing on China told me. Usually, their English was poor. They were clumsy. They used predictable covers. Chinese military intelligence officers masquerading as civilians often failed to hide a military bearing and could come across as almost laughably uptight. Typically their main targets tended to be of Chinese descent. In recent years, however, Chinese intelligence officers have become more sophisticated—they can come across as suave, personable, even genteel. Their manners can be fluid. Their English is usually good. “Now this is the norm,” the former official said, speaking with me on condition of anonymity due to security concerns. “They really have learned quite a bit and grown up.”

Rodney Faraon, a former senior analyst at the CIA, told me that the Mallory and Hansen cases show just how far China’s espionage services have come. “They’ve broadened their tactics to go beyond relatively easy targets, from recruiting among the ethnically Chinese community to a much more diverse set of human assets,” he said. “In a sense, they’ve become more traditional.”

In his recently published bookTo Catch a Spy: The Art of Counterintelligence, James Olson, a veteran of the CIA’s clandestine service and its former chief of counterintelligence, breaks down the basics of China’s espionage services and how they operate. The Ministry of State Security (MSS), its main service, focuses on overseas intelligence. The Ministry of Public Security focuses on domestic intelligence, but also has agents abroad. The People’s Liberation Army, which focuses on military intelligence, “has defined its role broadly and has competed with the MSS in a widerange of economic, political, and technological intelligence collection operations overseas, in addition to its more traditional military targeting.” Olson adds that “the PLA has been responsible for the bulk” of China’s cyberespionage, though the MSS may also be expanding in this realm. Both the MSS and PLA, meanwhile, “make regular use of diplomatic, commercial, journalistic, and student covers for their operations in the United States. They aggressively use Chinese travelers to the US, especially business representatives, academics, scientists, students, and tourists, to supplement their intelligence collection. US intelligence experts have been amazed at how voracious the Chinese have been in their collection activity.”

If veteran American spies are vulnerable to Chinese espionage, U.S. companies may be faring even worse. In some cases, targeting the private sector and targeting U.S. national security can mix. A former U.S. security official, who now works for a prominent American aviation company that is involved in highly sensitive U.S. government projects, told me that the company had a suspected intelligence collector linked to China in its midst. “I would say that he’s had tradecraft training,” this person said, speaking anonymously due to an ongoing law-enforcement investigation.The former security official was hired by the company to monitor such threats, and initially found the lack of effective prevention measures and training at the company jarring. “When I walked in and got the briefing here, I thought it was a joke … Now we do take some measures to protect against [insider threats], but in a sense it’s fox in a henhouse,” this person said. “We as an industry are woefully inadequate at protecting ourselves from a foreign-intelligence threat.”

In a sense, going after American spies and government officials is fair game in the intelligence world. The U.S. does the same against the Chinese. “Intelligence operations are universal, with every country—other than a few isolated island-states who are concerned mainly with the danger of approaching cyclones—engaging in them, to one degree or another,” Loch K. Johnson, a professor emeritus at the University of Georgia, the author of Spy Watching: Intelligence Accountability in the United States, and one of America’s foremost intelligence scholars, told me in an email. He added that while almost every nation fields capabilities to both collect information about its adversaries and defend itself against espionage, a much smaller number have meaningful networks for covert action, which he described as “secret propaganda; political and economic manipulation; even paramilitary activities.” Both America and China count themselves among this group.

“The United States used propaganda, political, and economic ops during the Cold War and (somewhat less aggressively) since. China returns [the] favor,” Johnson said. “Both are major powers and have a full complement of intelligence capabilities, aimed at each other and other significant targets around the world. This means that the United States (like China in reverse) is constantly trying to learn what China is doing when it comes to military, economic, political, and cultural activities, since they may impinge upon U.S. interests in Asia and elsewhere.” To that end, the U.S. uses signals intelligence, geospatial intelligence, and HUMINT, Johnson said, “all aided by a diligent searching through the available (and voluminous) [open-source intelligence] materials for background.”

But he noted a key difference between the two countries: China’s aggressive approach to economic espionage. These Chinese efforts are partly what have prompted U.S. officials and politicians to turn to a newly popular refrain that China’s not playing by the rules. U.S. officials insist that American intelligence agencies do not target foreign companies with the aim of helping domestic ones. (The line between American spying on foreign companies to advance the country’s economic and strategic interests and whether that spying helps U.S. companies can be blurry.) “What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of—or give intelligence we collect to—U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line,” James Clapper, then the director of national intelligence, said in 2013, amid revelations that the NSA had spied on foreign companies.Dennis Wilder, who retired as the CIA’s deputy assistant director for East Asia and the Pacific in 2016, told me that the Chinese approach to espionage is defined by the fact that its leaders have long seen America as an existential threat. “This is a constant theme in Chinese intelligence—that we’re not just out to steal secrets, we’re not just out to protect ourselves, that the real American goal is the end of Chinese Communism, just as that was the goal with the Soviet Union,” he said.
Wilder, who still travels to the country as the director of an initiative for U.S.-China dialogue at Georgetown University, told me that Chinese officials regularly bring up past American covert action such as the CIA’s ill-fated support for the independence movement in Tibet beginning in the 1950s, and its infiltration of agents into China via Taiwan. And they still see an American hand in events such as the protests in Hong Kong today. “So we’re all sitting here scratching our heads and saying, ‘Do they really believe we’re behind Hong Kong? And the answer is, yes they do. They really believe that the fundamental American goal is the destruction and demise of Chinese Communism,” he said. “Now, if you believe that the other guy is bent on your destruction, then it’s kind of anything goes. So for the Chinese, stealing, espionage, cyberespionage against American corporations for the good of the Chinese state, are just part and parcel of the need for survival against this very formidable enemy.”China denies that it is spying against the U.S.  on the scale alleged by American officials. When presented with the details of this story, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C., Fang Hong, said via email that she had no knowledge of the cases involving Mallory, Hansen, Lee, and others. “China has always fully respected the sovereignty of all countries and does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries,” she said. Fang also disparaged U.S. attempts to root out Chinese spies, citing a quote commonly attributed to a great American writer. U.S. views on Chinese espionage, she remarked, “remind me of what Mark Twain said: ‘To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.’”
Fang continued, “U.S. officials’ accusations against Chinese students and researchers are groundless. Guided by the zero-sum-game mentality and ill intentions to contain China, people and institutions in the U.S. have been fabricating such absurd pretexts as ‘espionage’ as an excuse to harass them and make groundless allegations.”

She added that innocent people had been framed in some cases and that “such false accusations severely undermine China-U.S. people-to-people exchanges, and scientific and technological cooperation.”

The litany of cases the DOJ has brought over the past year or so underscores the comprehensive quality of China’s espionage efforts: a former General Electric engineer charged with theft of trade secrets related to gas and steam turbines (he has pleaded not guilty); an American and a Chinese citizen charged with attempting to steal trade secrets related to plastics (the American has pleaded not guilty and the Chinese defendant, as of March 2019, had yet to appear in a U.S. court); a state-owned Chinese chip-making company and a Taiwanese company that makes semiconductors charged with stealing from an American competitor(the chipmaker has pleaded not guilty); two Chinese hackers charged with targeting intellectual property (China denied the “slanderous” economic espionage charges). In Senate testimony in July, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that the agency has “probably about 1,000 plus investigations all across the country involving attempted theft of U.S. intellectual property … almost all leading back to China.”

Demers, the national-security official at the Justice Department, told me that China uses the same tactics and even some of the same intelligence officers in its espionage efforts against America’s private sector. “What it shows is how seriously the Chinese government takes their intellectual-property-theft efforts, because they’re really using the crown jewels of their intelligence community and their most sophisticated and well-honed tradecraft,” he said.Some of the trade secrets China is accused of stealing seem simply aimed to help a specific company or industry. Often, however, the distinction between a Chinese company and the Chinese state is not clear-cut. Chinese law mandates that all corporations cooperate with the government on national security. This was one concern U.S. officials cited after announcing indictments against the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei earlier this year; the Trump administration has banned U.S. companies from doing business with it. (Huawei has pleaded not guilty to attempted U.S. trade-theft allegations.)Demers told me that China uses economic espionage as a form of “R&D,” or research and development. “They also have very talented, smart people who are using their resources in legitimate ways, which is, I think, some of the frustration that folks have right now—that you could do this differently. You could fight fair, right? You’re not the 80-pound weakling who has to throw dirt in somebody’s eye to get ahead.”
The open business climate between America and China—the sort of climate that did not exist between America and the Soviet Union during the Cold War—makes addressing Chinese espionage trickier: China is both a rival and a top trade partner. The economic and research relationship between the two countries benefits them both. At the same time, Chinese immigrants and visitors to America risk being unfairly targeted if U.S. officials fail to find the right balance, which would cast a chill on legitimate exchange between the two countries while raising the specter of American overreactions during past struggles, from the Cold War to the War on Terror. As U.S. officials warn about the Chinese espionage threat and the U.S. intelligence community reorients to face it, they must be careful not to undermine the American values—openness, civil liberty, enterprise—that remain perhaps the country’s greatest advantage over China.Rodney Faraon, who worked on the President’s Daily Briefing team at the CIA during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations and is now a partner at Crumpton Group, a business intelligence firm, told me that it will take a major push not just from America’s intelligence agencies but from the U.S. government overall to find the right strategy. And despite the Trump administration’s combative stance on trade negotiations and other issues, this has yet to happen. “The approach must be whole of government and must involve the private sector,” Faraon said. “The Chinese use and value intelligence better than we do, seeing its applicability in nearly every aspect of private and public life—military, social, commercial. We have been slow to recognize this for ourselves.
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/08/inside-us-china-espionage-war/595747/

Story 3: Big Brother Is Watching Every Move You Make With Social Credit System — Chinese Communist Control  Digital Dictatorship Surveillance State — From Authoritarian to Totalitarian State — Socialist Serfs —   Videos

The Police – Every Breath You Take (Official Music Video)

The Police – Every breath you take lyrics

Social surveillance in China – Credit or control? | DW Documentary

China’s Secret File on Everyone

Big Brother is watching you: How China is ranking its citizens

Exposing China’s Digital Dystopian Dictatorship | Foreign Correspondent

A Look Inside China’s Social Credit System | NBC News Now

Hong Kong police fire live round warning shot and use water cannon on protesters

China ranks ‘good’ and ‘bad’ citizens with ‘social credit’ system

China Expert Gordon Chang On Its Social Credit Rating System & Surveillance State

China’s TERRIFYING Social Credit System

Inside China’s High-Tech Dystopia

China Social Credit System: Beijing plans to go full on Big Brother in 2020 – TomoNews

China’s “Social Credit System” Has Caused More Than Just Public Shaming (HBO)

Chinese “Social Credit System” rewards Obedient Citizens – Infowars News 12/24

China’s Secret Plan to Control the Internet | China Uncensored

20 Years Ago, This Changed China Forever: Here Are 5 Ways | China Uncensored

Big Brother: China Edition!

1984 Introduction

What is 1984?

 

Uh-oh: Silicon Valley is building a Chinese-style social credit system

In China, scoring citizens’ behavior is official government policy. U.S. companies are increasingly doing something similar, outside the law.

Uh-oh: Silicon Valley is building a Chinese-style social credit system
[Images: Rawf8/iStock; zhudifeng/iStock]

Have you heard about China’s social credit system? It’s a technology-enabled, surveillance-based nationwide program designed to nudge citizens toward better behavior. The ultimate goal is to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step,” according to the Chinese government.

In place since 2014, the social credit system is a work in progress that could evolve by next year into a single, nationwide point system for all Chinese citizens, akin to a financial credit score. It aims to punish for transgressions that can include membership in or support for the Falun Gong or Tibetan Buddhism, failure to pay debts, excessive video gaming, criticizing the government, late payments, failing to sweep the sidewalk in front of your store or house, smoking or playing loud music on trains, jaywalking, and other actions deemed illegal or unacceptable by the Chinese government.

It can also award points for charitable donations or even taking one’s own parents to the doctor.

Punishments can be harsh, including bans on leaving the country, using public transportation, checking into hotels, hiring for high-visibility jobs, or acceptance of children to private schools. It can also result in slower internet connections and social stigmatization in the form of registration on a public blacklist.

China’s social credit system has been characterized in one pithy tweet as “authoritarianism, gamified.”

Authoritarianism, gamified. https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/blog/2015/10/in-china-your-credit-score-is-now-affected-by-your-political-opinions-and-your-friends-political-opinions/  ht @VitalikButerin @FrankPasquale

In China, Your Credit Score Is Now Affected By Your Political Opinions – And Your Friends’ Politi…

China just introduced a universal credit score, where everybody is measured as a number between 350 and 950. But this credit score isn’t just affected by how well you manage credit – it also reflects…

privateinternetaccess.com

At present, some parts of the social credit system are in force nationwide and others are local and limited (there are 40 or so pilot projects operated by local governments and at least six run by tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent).

Beijing maintains two nationwide lists, called the blacklist and the red list—the former consisting of people who have transgressed, and the latter people who have stayed out of trouble (a “red list” is the Communist version of a white list.) These lists are publicly searchable on a government website called China Credit.

The Chinese government also shares lists with technology platforms. So, for example, if someone criticizes the government on Weibo, their kids might be ineligible for acceptance to an elite school.

Public shaming is also part of China’s social credit system. Pictures of blacklisted people in one city were shown between videos on TikTok in a trial, and the addresses of blacklisted citizens were shown on a map on WeChat.

Some Western press reports imply that the Chinese populace is suffocating in a nationwide Skinner box of oppressive behavioral modification. But some Chinese are unaware that it even exists. And many others actually like the idea. One survey found that 80% of Chinese citizens surveyed either somewhat or strongly approve of social credit system.

IT CAN HAPPEN HERE

Many Westerners are disturbed by what they read about China’s social credit system. But such systems, it turns out, are not unique to China. A parallel system is developing in the United States, in part as the result of Silicon Valley and technology-industry user policies, and in part by surveillance of social media activity by private companies.

Here are some of the elements of America’s growing social credit system.

INSURANCE COMPANIES

The New York State Department of Financial Services announced earlier this year that life insurance companies can base premiums on what they find in your social media posts. That Instagram pic showing you teasing a grizzly bear at Yellowstone with a martini in one hand, a bucket of cheese fries in the other, and a cigarette in your mouth, could cost you. On the other hand, a Facebook post showing you doing yoga might save you money. (Insurance companies have to demonstrate that social media evidence points to risk, and not be based on discrimination of any kind—they can’t use social posts to alter premiums based on race or disability, for example.)

The use of social media is an extension of the lifestyle questions typically asked when applying for life insurance, such as questions about whether you engage in rock climbing or other adventure sports. Saying “no,” but then posting pictures of yourself free-soloing El Capitan, could count as a “yes.”

PATRONSCAN

A company called PatronScan sells three products—kiosk, desktop, and handheld systems—designed to help bar and restaurant owners manage customers. PatronScan is a subsidiary of the Canadian software company Servall Biometrics, and its products are now on sale in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

PatronScan helps spot fake IDs—and troublemakers. When customers arrive at a PatronScan-using bar, their ID is scanned. The company maintains a list of objectionable customers designed to protect venues from people previously removed for “fighting, sexual assault, drugs, theft, and other bad behavior,” according to its website. A “public” list is shared among all PatronScan customers. So someone who’s banned by one bar in the U.S. is potentially banned by all the bars in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada that use the PatronScan system for up to a year. (PatronScan Australia keeps a separate system.)

Judgment about what kind of behavior qualifies for inclusion on a PatronScan list is up to the bar owners and managers. Individual bar owners can ignore the ban, if they like. Data on non-offending customers is deleted in 90 days or less. Also: PatronScan enables bars to keep a “private” list that is not shared with other bars, but on which bad customers can be kept for up to five years.

PatronScan does have an “appeals” process, but it’s up to the company to grant or deny those appeals.

UBER AND AIRBNB

Thanks to the sharing economy, the options for travel have been extended far beyond taxis and hotels. Uber and Airbnb are leaders in providing transportation and accommodation for travelers. But there are many similar ride-sharing and peer-to-peer accommodations companies providing similar services.

Airbnb—a major provider of travel accommodation and tourist activities—bragged in March that it now has more than 6 million listings in its system. That’s why a ban from Airbnb can limit travel options.

Airbnb can disable your account for life for any reason it chooses, and it reserves the right to not tell you the reason. The company’s canned message includes the assertion that “This decision is irreversible and will affect any duplicated or future accounts. Please understand that we are not obligated to provide an explanation for the action taken against your account.” The ban can be based on something the host privately tells Airbnb about something they believe you did while staying at their property. Airbnb’s competitors have similar policies.

It’s now easy to get banned by Uber, too. Whenever you get out of the car after an Uber ride, the app invites you to rate the driver. What many passengers don’t know is that the driver now also gets an invitation to rate you. Under a new policy announced in May: If your average rating is “significantly below average,” Uber will ban you from the service.

WHATSAPP

You can be banned from communications apps, too. For example, you can be banned on WhatsApp if too many other users block you. You can also get banned for sending spam, threatening messages, trying to hack or reverse-engineer the WhatsApp app, or using the service with an unauthorized app.

WhatsApp is small potatoes in the United States. But in much of the world, it’s the main form of electronic communication. Not being allowed to use WhatsApp in some countries is as punishing as not being allowed to use the telephone system in America.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH SOCIAL CREDIT, ANYWAY?

Nobody likes antisocial, violent, rude, unhealthy, reckless, selfish, or deadbeat behavior. What’s wrong with using new technology to encourage everyone to behave?

The most disturbing attribute of a social credit system is not that it’s invasive, but that it’s extralegal. Crimes are punished outside the legal system, which means no presumption of innocence, no legal representation, no judge, no jury, and often no appeal. In other words, it’s an alternative legal system where the accused have fewer rights.

Social credit systems are an end-run around the pesky complications of the legal system. Unlike China’s government policy, the social credit system emerging in the U.S. is enforced by private companies. If the public objects to how these laws are enforced, it can’t elect new rule-makers.

An increasing number of societal “privileges” related to transportation, accommodations, communications, and the rates we pay for services (like insurance) are either controlled by technology companies or affected by how we use technology services. And Silicon Valley’s rules for being allowed to use their services are getting stricter.

If current trends hold, it’s possible that in the future a majority of misdemeanors and even some felonies will be punished not by Washington, D.C., but by Silicon Valley. It’s a slippery slope away from democracy and toward corporatocracy.

In other words, in the future, law enforcement may be determined less by the Constitution and legal code, and more by end-user license agreements.