demise

Trump’s Tough Talk on Nafta Suggests Pact’s Demise Is Imminent

WASHINGTON — The North American Free Trade Agreement, long disparaged by President Trump as bad for the United States, was edging closer toward collapse as negotiators gathered for a fourth round of contentious talks here this week.

In recent weeks, the Trump administration has sparred with American businesses that support Nafta and has pushed for significant changes that negotiators from Mexico and Canada say are nonstarters. All the while, the president has continued threatening to withdraw the United States from the trade agreement, which he has maligned as the worst in history.

As the trade talks began on Wednesday, Mr. Trump, seated in the Oval Office beside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, said it was “possible” that the United States would drop out of Nafta.

“It’s possible we won’t be able to make a deal, and it’s possible that we will,” the president said. “We’ll see if we can do the kind of changes that we need. We have to protect our workers. And in all fairness, the prime minister wants to protect Canada and his people also. So we’ll see what happens with Nafta, but I’ve been opposed to Nafta for a long time, in terms of the fairness of Nafta.”

Mr. Trudeau, in comments later at the Canadian Embassy, said he remains optimistic about the potential for a Nafta deal but noted that Canadians must be “ready for anything.”

The collapse of the 1994 trade deal would reverberate throughout the global economy, inflicting damage far beyond Mexico, Canada and the United States and affecting industries as varied as manufacturing, agriculture and energy. It would also sow at least short-term chaos for businesses like the auto industry that have arranged their North American supply chains around the deal’s terms.

The ripple effects could also impede other aspects of the president’s agenda, for example, by solidifying political opposition among farm state Republicans who support the pact and jeopardizing legislative priorities like tax reform. And it could have far-reaching political effects, including the Mexican general election in July 2018 and Mr. Trump’s own re-election campaign.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada met Wednesday with members of the House Ways and Means Committee about the Nafta negotiations on Capitol Hill in Washington.CreditSaul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Business leaders have become spooked by the increasing odds of the trade deal’s demise, and on Monday, more than 310 state and local chambers of commerce sent a letter to the administration urging the United States to remain in Nafta. Speaking in Mexico on Tuesday, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Thomas J. Donohue, said the negotiations had “reached a critical moment. And the chamber has had no choice but ring the alarm bells.”

“Let me be forceful and direct,” he said. “There are several poison pill proposals still on the table that could doom the entire deal.”

The potential demise of the trade deal prompted supportive messages from labor unions, including the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the United Steelworkers, as well as some Democrats.

“Any trade proposal that makes multinational corporations nervous is a good sign that it’s moving in the right direction for workers,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio.

If the deal does fall apart, the United States, Canada and Mexico would revert to average tariffs that are relatively low — just a few percent in most cases. But several agricultural products would face much higher duties. American farmers would see a 25 percent tariff on shipments of beef, 45 percent on turkey and some dairy products, and 75 percent on chicken, potatoes and high fructose corn syrup sent to Mexico.

For months, some of the most powerful business leaders in the country, and the lobbies and political figures that represent them, had hoped that the president’s strong wording was more a negotiating tactic than a real threat and that he would ultimately go along with their agenda of modernization. Nafta is nearly a quarter-century old, and people across the political spectrum say it should be updated for the 21st century while preserving the open trading system that has linked the North American economy.

The pact has allowed industries to reorganize their supply chains around the continent to take advantage of the three countries’ differing resources and strengths, lifting the continent’s economies and more than tripling America’s trade with Canada and Mexico since its inception. Economists contend that many workers have benefited from these changes in the form of higher wages and employment, but many workers have lost their jobs as manufacturing plants relocated to Mexico or Canada, making Nafta a target of labor unions, many Democrats and a few industries.

But most business leaders had hoped that the president, whose Nafta criticism has been unrelenting, would be content to oversee tweaks to modernize the agreement, and then call it a political transformation.

It sometimes looked as if that might be the case. The appointment of Robert Lighthizer as United States trade representative, who pledged in his confirmation hearing to “do no harm” to Nafta, reassured many on Capitol Hill, where Mr. Lighthizer had long served in aide roles. And when the administration released its negotiating goals in July for the deal, they echoed many priorities of previous administrations.

But now, eight weeks into trade talks that were originally supposed to conclude by year’s end, the administration continues to push for concessions that the business community warns would essentially undermine the pact, and which few observers believe Canada and Mexico could agree to politically.

“Everyone knows that much of what is being proposed in key areas are, in effect, non-starters, which begs the question as to what, exactly, the administration is trying to achieve,” Michael Camuñez, a former assistant secretary of commerce under President Barack Obama, wrote in an email. It’s not unreasonable to think that by accommodating the president’s most extreme positions, American negotiators are “simply giving Trump cover to do what he really wants: withdraw from the agreement,” he said.

Phil Levy, a trade adviser for the George W. Bush administration, said the president was most likely looking for a pretext to kill Nafta.

“Find me the last trade agreement that U.S. passed with the chamber in opposition,” Mr. Levy said. “You don’t have a chance. It’s hard enough with the U.S. Chamber in favor.”

The most controversial of the administration’s proposals, floated by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, would incorporate a sunset clause in the deal, causing Nafta to automatically expire unless all three countries voted periodically to continue it. That provision has drawn swift condemnation from the chamber and other industry groups like the National Association of Manufacturers, which say that it would instill so much uncertainty in the future of Nafta that it would basically nullify the trade agreement.

Another contentious push by the United States centers on changing Nafta’s rules governing how much of a product needs to be made in North America in order to enjoy tariff-free trade between the countries. The United States is pushing for higher levels, including a requirement to make 85 percent of the value of automobiles and auto parts in North America, up from 62.5 percent currently, and an additional requirement for 50 percent of the value to come from the United States.

That has pitted some of the world’s biggest auto companies against the Trump administration. Industry representatives say such high and complex barriers could deter companies from manufacturing in the United States altogether.

Employees at work in a new Honda plant in Mexico. CreditEduardo Verdugo/Associated Press

The administration has also proposed limits on the number of federal government contracts that Mexican and Canadian companies can win, as well as significant changes to how disputes are resolved under Nafta.

Business groups say they are firmly opposed to an American push to curtail a provision called investor-state dispute settlement, which allows companies to sue Canada, Mexico and the United States for unfair treatment under Nafta. Meanwhile, Canada has said that it will not consider dispensing with another provision, Nafta’s Chapter 19, which allows countries to challenge each other’s anti-dumping and countervailing duty decisions before an independent panel.

In his remarks Tuesday, Mr. Donohue called the administration’s proposed changes to these provisions “unnecessary and unacceptable.”

Mr. Donohue’s remarks followed a sharp exchange of words between the Chamber of Commerce, the country’s most powerful business lobby, and the Trump administration on Friday.

John Murphy, senior vice president of international policy for the chamber, said the administration’s proposals had “no identifiable constituency backing them” and had sparked “a remarkable degree of unity in their rejection.” He added that business leaders had perhaps never been at odds with an administration over a trade negotiation on so many fronts.

Hours later, the administration fired back.

“The president has been clear that Nafta has been a disaster for many Americans, and achieving his objectives requires substantial change,” said Emily Davis, a spokeswoman for the trade representative. “These changes of course will be opposed by entrenched Washington lobbyists and trade associations. We have always understood that draining the swamp would be controversial in Washington.”

Mr. Trump is known for taking a tough negotiating stance, and analysts said the administration might view its ambitious opening requests as a way to gain more leverage in the Nafta negotiations.

But Mr. Murphy and others in the business community cautioned that such an approach would probably be ill-fated. In both Canada and Mexico, Mr. Trump is unpopular, and caving to his demands could have devastating consequences for local politicians. Mexican government officials have repeatedly said they would not negotiate with a gun to the head.

“There’s an old adage in negotiations, never take a hostage you wouldn’t shoot,” Mr. Murphy said.

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THE HARDER THEY FALL: THE DEMISE OF ISRAEL’S TYCOONS

 

Charismatic, authoritative, and clever, the handsome – Alec Baldwin look-alike – Nochi Dankner personified a Zeitgeist of capitalistic relish, risks, profits, and conceit, soaring to big-business stardom only to ultimately stare at financial ruin, legal conviction, and now also an approaching prison term.

 

The 62-year-old Dankner was sentenced December 5 to two years in jail and an 800,000 shekel fine for stock manipulation, after having been previously forced out of IDB Development ‒ the holding company that, during his 10-year chairmanship, slid from a $10 billion market value to the brink of insolvency.

Dankner is not alone.

The week after it sentenced Dankner, the same Tel Aviv District Court ordered into receivership the assets of 73-year-old Eliezer Fishman, the deposed chairman of Jerusalem Economic Corporation and owner of the Globes business daily, after he reportedly accumulated 4.5 billion shekels in delinquent debts. The ruling followed a Tax Authority bankruptcy request that claimed 196 million shekels in unpaid taxes.

In June, real estate magnate Moti Zisser, who had built more than 50 shopping malls in Europe and Israel, died of cancer at age 61, after losing his debt-ridden flagships, Elbit Imaging and Europe Israel ‒ one to bondholders and the other to the receivership where his opulent villa in Petah Tikva also ended up.

In 2014, the board of Scailex Corp., successor to the hi-tech powerhouse Scaitex, ousted chairman Ilan Ben-Dov shortly after his leveraged 5.3 billion shekel buyout of cellphone operator Partner ended with its frantic sell-off, while Bank Leumi chased after him demanding 62 million shekels in unpaid debt, ultimately obtaining foreclosures for portions of Ben-Dov’s shares, properties and seven bank accounts.

Finally, albeit less dramatically, diamond mogul Lev Leviev’s purchase of holding company Africa Israel, whose market value he had originally planned to double to 7 billion dollars, ended instead in the red and with two debt restructurings as bondholders demanded 3.2 billion shekels of unpaid debts.

Added up, these corporate sagas, obviously, paint a picture that is larger than any single individual and, indeed, spell the end of an era ‒ one in which post-socialist Zionism’s new hero, the entrepreneur, was confused with any peddler of capital.

Having said this, Dankner’s case is unique, in three ways.

First, his cousin, Danny Dankner, the former chairman of Bank Hapoalim, is also a fallen tycoon. Secondly, besides falling financially, both also have been implicated legally. Thirdly, and most importantly, the Dankners were well born, whereas the other fallen barons were self-made.

THE DANKNER tribe’s origins are rooted in Ottoman Palestine, where Nochi’s great-grandfather, Meir, joined the founders of Petah Tikva after robbers murdered his father, in the son’s presence, in the father’s sawmill in Austro-Hungary.

Meir’s son, Nochi Dankner’s grandfather Moshe, won a franchise from diamond empire De Beers and set up a 100-employee diamond- cutting factory in Netanya. Moshe’s brother, Oved Ben-Ami, founded Netanya itself and was its mayor for nearly 40 years.

In 1957, Moshe bought Israel’s main salt producer, Salt Industries Inc., which James Rothschild had willed to the Jewish state.

Coupled with his diamond business, it served as the base for a sprawling business empire that he divided between his two marriages’ 11 children: the first wife’s six children were willed the diamond business, and the second wife’s five children got the rest.

That is how one of Israel’s first family- based holding companies, Dankner Investments, was intact and growing as early as 1957, steadily accumulating assets ranging from real estate to chemical industries.

As power shifted to the next generation, that of Nochi’s father and siblings, Uncle Shmuel emerged as the dominant decision maker, in what now seems like the saga’s golden era.

The siblings were equal partners, while conferring management between three of them: one led the salt business, another headed the chemical industries, and Shmuel led everything else. Now 86, he displayed an ability to grasp where history was headed and get to its opportunities ahead of others.

In the 1980s, as the cable era approached Israel, Shmuel invested in cable operator Matav, and as Israel expanded economically, he established fuel supplier Dor Energy.

Then, as communism unraveled, he led an international consortium that spearheaded the privatization of Poland’s telephone system.

Before that, as the Russian-speaking immigration accelerated, he intensified the family’s construction in Israel of neighborhoods, office towers and shopping centers.

Explaining his decision to invest in Poland, Shmuel Dankner said he looked for a post-communist economy that would be sizable on the one hand, but have a reliable court system, on the other. The legal moonscapes to Poland’s east were not the kind of setting in which he would do business.

As the new millennium approached and the next generation emerged in the boardroom, Uncle Shmuel’s fine balance of risk and caution would gradually be shed.

DANKNER FAMILY codes meant power would remain within the clan and gradually pass to the next generation.

There was also general agreement that, of the next generation’s 16 cousins, Nochi, a successful lawyer in his 40s by the mid-1990s, was the best suited next to lead the empire.

The question was where to lead the empire.

Nochi and his cousin Danny wanted to venture into banking. Uncle Shmuel disagreed.

In 1997, this clash came to a head as the two cousins bought, through Salt Industries, an 11.6 percent stake in Bank Hapoalim for 1.4 billion shekels. For the family empire’s 40-year-old harmony, it was the beginning of the end. Two years on, Nochi and Shmuel split when the uncle led a 100 million dollar purchase of the nephew’s shares, as well as those of Nochi’s father, Yitzhak.

Nochi and Danny, a pair of worldly and ambitious Sabras – the former was editor of Tel Aviv University’s law journal, the latter earned an MBA at the University of Massachusetts – thus had been freed of the expanded family’s scrutiny and norms.

Nochi’s big gambit, the purchase of IDB Development, would arrive in 2003, and Danny’s peak, his appointment as Bank Hapoalim’s chairman, would come in 2007.

Danny’s comet would burn sooner.

In an exceptionally interventionist move, then Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer forced Dankner’s resignation from Hapoalim’s chairmanship hardly two years into his appointment.

The move was never formally explained but was widely believed to have been about professionalism and caution, most notably the bank’s exposure to mortgage-backed investments during the subprime crisis; the reckless purchases of Ukrainian and Russian banks; and the removal from the board of public director and respected economist Amir Barnea, apparently for having been too inquisitive.

Prison came in 2013, when Danny Dankner was convicted of, among other things, having taken a personal loan from the bank he headed, and of having had the bank favor a Turkish business partner whose association with him he failed to disclose to his board.

Dankner-the-banker was sentenced to a year in prison that was later shortened to eight months of which he served six last year, only to be convicted later of bribery and money laundering in the infamous Holyland affair, in which Ehud Olmert also was convicted.

Danny Dankner now got two years.

Nochi Dankner’s path to ruin was different.

A former major in air force intelligence, Nochi Dankner’s big moves were a series of attempts to guess ahead of others the maturing Israeli economy’s next opportunity.

The first of these investment targets was travel, an industry that Dankner rightly figured would thrive as the Israeli middle class expanded, while regulators made multiple air routes accessible to new competitors.

That is how he opened Ganden Tourism and Aviation, with which he bought Israir, a domestic and charter airline that gradually competed with El Al, at one point also on the route to New York.

It was through Ganden that Dankner bought IDB in 2003 from the Recanati family, in what appeared to be a well-timed move considering that the sprawling holding company had suffered greatly from the second intifada, whose tide was by then turning in Israel’s favor.

Dankner initially made wise moves, bringing fresh cash by shedding old holdings such as shares in Scaitex and Bank Discount, soon shifting the losing company into the black.

MOREOVER, AT a time when mobile phones were becoming a fixture of personal life, the intelligence veteran in Dankner understood the unfolding era’s opportunities ‒ expanding investment in Cellcom and also selling its shares on Wall Street, thus consolidating its domination of the Israeli market and, while at it, bringing in fresh cash.

Dankner intensified his presence in Israeli households through the retail industry.

Already owning dominant supermarket chain Shufersal, he bought the industry’s third-leading company, the ailing Clubmarket, and merged the two, thus cornering the supermarket industry.

Dankner then bought the Koor conglomerate from the Bronfman family, which included hi-tech powerhouse ECI and crop-protection giant Makhteshim-Agan. At that point, the total value of Dankner’s companies was estimated at some 100 billion dollars, making him the dominant businessman in Israel.

Had he now taken a step back, Dankner might have survived the upheavals of the upcoming years but his appetite drew him to new adventures while the intelligence officer in him fell asleep.

Dankner failed to see the approach of three major corporate tsunamis. The first was the subprime crisis.

In spring 2007, Dankner and energy tycoon Yitzhak Teshuva bought the veteran hotel and casino New Frontier on the Las Vegas Strip with the intention of demolishing it and building in its place a 5.7 billion dollar replica of Teshuva’s fabled Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.

The demolition went well, but when it came time to build, the Wall Street meltdown was afoot, the real estate market was in the doldrums and the project was canceled.

Dankner lost 300 million dollars.

The second miscalculation concerned Swiss banking.

Having gradually spent nearly 7 billion shekels while accumulating a 3.24 percent stake in Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second- largest bank, Dankner seemed on safe grounds even in the aftermath of the Wall Street meltdown, the shocks of which the Swiss bank and currency largely sustained.

The problem was that authorities in various countries, led by the US, were investigating Credit Suisse’s alleged complicity in clients’ tax evasions, allegations that eventually were vindicated. As news of the investigations broke, the bank’s share price began sliding, falling within two years from 60 to 20 Swiss francs. Dankner now saw another major investment go down the drain, as failure followed him from Nevada to the Alps.

Even so, Dankner’s worst failure of foresight happened at home.

The eruption of the social protest movement in spring 2011 turned a spotlight to the corporate deformities that had raised consumer prices. In these, Dankner played first violin on two stages: supermarkets and cellphones.

The new consumer awareness drove clients away and pressured Shufersal’s prices and revenues. Worse, the new motivation of politicians to impose competition ultimately resulted in the mobile communications market’s restructuring, which, in turn, sharply cut Cellcom’s profits.

With all these tempests gathering from entirely different directions, it now turned out that Dankner’s far-flung investments were disproportionately leveraged. The holding company he had bought debtless, now owed some 2 billion shekels.

Dankner now engaged in a rear end battle to save his position. He decided to sell shares again. Alas, with his back to the corporate wall, Dankner now turned to the felonious exit, as he had a colleague buy shares on the eve of the offering to artificially drive up their price. His summons to Securities Exchange investigation soon followed, as did his ouster from IDB.

FINANCIALLY, NOCHI Dankner’s rise was part of the rest of the tycoons’ zenith, and such was also his downfall. The entire bunch, from whatever backgrounds, borrowed excessively and made some very ill-fated investments – including Teshuva, though his fortunes turned out differently thanks to his central role in Israel’s huge gas finds.

In this regard, the tycoons added up to a Zeitgeist, one that came in tandem with the last decade’s age of privatizations that assumed the entrepreneur was blessed with all the wisdom that governments lack. This era is now over, as all have learned the hard way that, unlike Michael Douglas’s memorable statement in the movie Wall Street, greed is not good for you, even if you are a financial baron.

Socially, however, the Dankners were different.

Nochi and Danny were born with silver spoons, unlike Zisser, who was born to poor Holocaust survivors; or Fishman, who at age five landed here from Russia in an immigrants’ camp; or Leviev, who at 15 worked as a diamond cutter’s apprentice after having arrived in Israel from Bukhara; or Ben-Dov, who was raised humbly in south Tel Aviv where he sold sabras (cactus fruit) to passersby.

That may explain why the Dankners were not plagued by nouveau-riche syndromes like Leviev’s propensity for lavish dwellings in multiple lands, including a 70 million dollar mansion in London’s Highgate neighborhood, and a 61 million shekel plot in Savyon, where he is now building one of Israel’s biggest private estates.

Having never known hardship and always having enjoyed access to old money, the Dankners had less of an urge to impress people with such displays of personal wealth. They just wanted to be bigger than Uncle Shmuel.

New York Times’ Paul Krugman (Zionist Jew) Gloats over Demise of White America

http://www.renegadetribune.com/new-york-times-paul-krugman-gloats-demise-white-america/

 

Video description: Listen to the Jew Paul Krugman of the New York Times gloat over White Americans losing their country. He can just barely contain his glee… This is for people who say that Jews are White.

From Axe of Perun: It is important to notice how he deliberately mentions the “rural” people, which Coudenhove-Kalergi also mentioned as the “biggest problem” for their NWO mission, because those nasty “heathens and pagans” just don’t want to give up their roots and race.

This is where the Jews and all this non-White immigration comes in – and is related to the “it is a very difficult time until then.”
Another point : he openly tells us that they won’t stop until White America is dead.

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEv25Ly7TPI

The GOP’s Demographic Demise Was On Full Display At The Miami Debate

MIAMI, FLORIDA — The Republican Party has a demographics problem. A recent analysis found that while GOP frontrunner Donald Trump may be energizing a subset of white male voters who normally don’t participate in politics, he is driving away the very groups Republicans need to win the White House this fall: young people, women, naturalized immigrants, Latinos, and blue collar workers. Trump has done so much damage to the GOP’s brand with these groups that he would need to win more than 70 percent of all white men to make up for it, yet he is polling at just 57 percent when matched up with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and 55 percent when squared off against Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Republican Party leaders are openly wondering if Trump will “drive the party into a demographic abyss,” and if the hundreds of Florida voters who gathered outside last night’s GOP are any indication, the GOP has cause for concern.

On Thursday night, as the four remaining candidates debated, hundreds of people from across Florida took to the streets outside the University of Miami to protest the party’s rhetoric on immigration, women’s health, the Puerto Rican debt crisis, and the minimum wage.

Women

As she waded through the sea of protesters, environmental engineering student Athena Jones held aloft a toilet seat on which she’d attached a picture of Trump’s face and scrawled the words: “Sexist piece of…”

“I’m shocked that educated people could possibly vote for this piece of crap,” Jones told ThinkProgress. “I mean, him saying Hillary got ‘shlonged,’ and all the anti-abortion stuff. Even after Trump says Planned Parenthood does great things, he still says he wouldn’t fund them because of abortion. Screw that! Bernie [Sanders] has a great line where he says the only part of government Republicans want to expand is the part that controls women’s bodies.”

In 2016, single women like Jones will be one of the most influential voting blocs, making up nearly a quarter of the electorate.

Trump, whose campaign manager recently manhandled a female reporter, who mocked Carly Fiorina’s face, and who suggested another female reporter’s tough questions were a result of menstrual rage, is seriously struggling with single women voters.

New Americans

Tomas Kennedy and his family came to the U.S. undocumented during Argentina’s economic meltdown in the year 2000. He has since become a citizen, through marriage, and will be voting for the first time in his life next year. Kennedy told ThinkProgress that the rhetoric on immigration he has heard from Donald Trump and the other Republican candidates have possibly turned him away from the party for life.

“They talk about building walls, about kicking 11 million immigrants out, about banning our Muslim brothers and sisters,” he told ThinkProgress. “So I think it’s more important than ever to show them that the American people are going to reject that language and that political pandering. There are thousands and thousands of immigrant youth like me, and we’re never ever going to forget the way we were treated, and we’re going to vote against these people.”

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CREDIT: ALICE OLLSTEIN

Though Kennedy noted Trump has said the most offensive things about Latino immigrants during the campaign, he expressed even more disappointment in Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who are both themselves children of immigrants.

“Rubio tried to pass immigration reform, but when the Tea Party turned against it, he chickened out and went against his own bill,” Kennedy said. “Now he talks about taking DACA away. Cruz and Rubio’s parents came as immigrants and refugees, but now they’re traitors to our community. They’re just following the Trump effect. They’re moving the debate so far to the right and I think they’re going to suffer the consequences.”

Puerto Ricans

Near the front of the marchers, a group of older Puerto Ricans marched solemnly with a massive banner reminding the candidates that there are more than 1 million Puerto Rican voters in Florida, with more arriving every month.

Thousands of Puerto Ricans have fled to Florida over the past couple years as the island’s debt crisis worsens and as the government implements austerity measures like shutting down schools and raising the cost of water and electricity. Puerto Ricans are poised to surpass Cubans as the largest Latino voting bloc in Florida, and they lean much further left than their Caribbean neighbors, spelling trouble for candidates like Marco Rubio who have opposed measures to aid the island.

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Besides Rubio, none of the remaining Republican candidates have addressed the Puerto Rican debt crisis, even as they campaign in the state so many Puerto Ricans now call home.

“They’ve forgotten about us. They ignore us. They’ve turned their back on us,” Madeline Ortiz told ThinkProgress in Spanish. “But now, we Puerto Ricans are starting to vote and more. We’re going to show them. If they don’t talk about this issue, we Puerto Ricans will not support them.”

Ortiz, who moved to Kissimmee, Florida from Puerto Rico 20 years ago, says she has been helping register hundreds of Puerto Rican voters in her community and has worked to educate them about the Republican Party’s silence on the debt issue.

“We have to vote so they pay attention to us,” she said.

Low-wage workers

The candidates on Thursday night’s debate stage made no mention of wages, but have previously stated their opposition to raising the federal minimum wage, and some want to get rid of the minimum wage altogether. In opposing raises, they have lost the votes of people like Felicia Anderson, has been working in childcare for 36 years in Broward County, Florida.

“It makes me sad to listen to them,” she told ThinkProgress. “We are people We work hard. We should be able to make a living for ourselves. I’m so sad that they don’t see that.”

Anderson joined dozens of other local workers on Thursday to protest under the banner of the national Fight for 15 movement, which has aimed over the past few months to pressure presidential candidates to guarantee all U.S. workers a $15 an hour minimum wage and the right to join a union.

Patricia Walker, a home health care worker from Tampa, Florida, told ThinkProgress she will only vote for a candidate who agrees with these demands. So far, the only candidate in either party to endorse the $15 minimum wage is Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“I love what I do, and I think I should get paid what I’m worth,” said Walker, who will vote for the first time this year. “I can’t live off of the $10 an hour I make now. I have to share an apartment because I pay rent by myself. I struggle day to day to buy enough food and clothes. It’s not right.”

The numbers don’t add up

After losing the 2012 presidential election, the Republican Party underwent some soul searching, and produced an “autopsy report” urging future candidates to reach out to non-white voters, women, and young people. The GOP then proceeded to follow none of these recommendations, and now Republican strategists warn that the party is dooming itself not only in 2016 election, but for a generation or more to come.

This November, Latinos will make up a higher percentage of the electorate than ever before, especially in key swing states like Colorado, Nevada, and Florida. There will be more than 27 million eligible Latino voters this fall, and more than half of them are millenials. Polls this year have repeatedly shown these voters have unfavorable views of Donald Trump as Trump continues to advance towards the Republican nomination.

The Pew Research Center found that about two-thirds of Latino voters say that it’s extremely important or very important to have changes in federal immigration policies to pass new immigration legislation soon. The same poll found that about one-third of Latino voters say that they would not vote for a candidate if they disagreed with the candidate on immigration policy.

Republican presidential candidates may need anywhere between 42 and 47 percent of the Latino vote, especially in key battleground states like Virginia, Ohio, New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, and Colorado, the polling group Latino Decisions found. The party won less than 30 percent in 2012.

The GOP is also showing signs of losing the youth vote. After conducting surveys of more than 1,000 18 to 26-year-olds, top Republican pollster Frank Luntz reported “a chasm of disconnection that renders every prominent national Republican irrelevant with the voting bloc that could control campaigns for the next 30 years.”

Demise of the Palestinian Authority is only a matter of time

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas tried this week to explain the motives behind the unprecedented phenomenon — referred to by many as the “third intifada” — that we have been witnessing over the past two and a half months.

To date, more than 130 terrorists have taken part in attacks or attempted attacks against Israeli targets. If you add the number of terrorists who have carried out attacks to those who were arrested preemptively by the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli security services, you get to a quick estimate of around 200-250 Palestinians who were ready to die in order to kill Jews — in the short period of 75 days.
So, a rough average of around three terrorists a day — a figure that is both unimaginable and deeply dangerous. Abbas has claimed that despair about the Israeli occupation and the dashed prospects of a two-state solution brought these youngsters to do what they did; Israel blames incitement.

Prime Minister Netanyahu this week rushed to attack Abbas and quoted surveys carried out in the West Bank that show the Palestinian public’s opposition to a two-state solution. He did not note that the Palestinian Authority itself prevents attacks of all kinds against Israelis almost every day.

The problem is that neither Abbas’s explanation (“the occupation”) nor Netanyahu’s (“the incitement”) fully sheds light on this sick phenomenon. It may also be that through our Western eyes, we can never really understand how hundreds of youngsters are willing to die without a second thought in order to stab Israelis.

Taha Katnani, the father of Ashrakat, a 16-year-old terrorist who last month tried to stab Jewish passersby at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus (she was run over by Gershon Mesika, who was passing by chance, and then shot dead by security forces), is a known figure in the Islamic Jihad terror group. In recent years, he’s been the imam of one of the mosques in the Askar refugee camp on the outskirts of Nablus.

In an interview with a Palestinian TV station identified with Islamic Jihad, he said that his daughter had told him before she died that in the event she was killed (“martyred”), “if the occupiers try to barter with my body, don’t agree to it.”

He went on to describe a subsequent meeting he had with Israeli security officials at Hawara. “They tried to understand if there had been a crisis, if she had been in a crisis, or I had, or [aunt] Yassin… In other words, they tried to understand the motive.”

“But the occupiers don’t understand,” the father added, tearfully. “They’re deluded. Ashrakat lived in her home, with a high standard of living, doing what she wanted. Whoever knows us — everyone knows the warm relations between myself and my children. Everyone is moved when they see my approach and my relationship with them,” he added. In short, Ashrakat presumably grew up in a home and an environment profoundly hostile to Israel, but did not have family or psychological problems.

Many commentators had warned of a blow-up but none of them predicted the way this “third intifada” would develop. Certainly not the Israeli political echelon, which continues to exist in its bubble, waiting for the storm to pass… and it is refusing to pass. The withholding of terrorists’ bodies, and the threat to destroy their families’ homes, are supposed to prevent the next terror attack. But these techniques don’t stand up to the reality test.

Palestinians inspecting the home of Mohammed Abu Shahin, demolished by Israeli troops in the Qalandia refugee camp, near Ramallah, on November 16, 2015. Shahin was accused of killing an Israeli hiker in June 2015. (Photo by Flash90)
The home of Mohammed Abu Shahin, demolished by Israeli troops in the Qalandiya refugee camp, near Ramallah, on November 16, 2015. Shahin was accused of killing an Israeli hiker in June 2015. (Photo by Flash90)

The flood of attacks isn’t letting up for a moment. It’s emphatically not always related to family crises, or to what emerges as a psychological problem. It is at least partly an expression of despair and frustration, as Abbas said, but it also relates to the Palestinian Authority and all the Palestinian factions and even to the older generation in general, which has disappointed the younger generation.

A large majority of the attackers have not belonged to any kind of organization, were not known to the security services, and had not received an order to carry out their attack.

Most of these young people come from the Palestinian cities, some are more religious and some less, most are single. They are not simply fed incitement from the social networks and certainly not only from the Palestinian Authority’s official media networks. They also get their hatred almost intravenously, in the internet cafes, the mosques, the billiard clubs, from the family — in almost every place.

And for such a phenomenon, it’s difficult to find one single convincing explanation — or a solution that will stop the epidemic.

On the Israeli side, there is no credible plan for calming the tensions. During a meeting between senior Israeli and Palestinian security personnel, the Palestinians demanded a “political road map” that they argued would bring about calm on the streets. The Israelis demanded that the PA first stop the violence.

Dramatic political moves may be essential to achieve long-term calm. But what are the Palestinians demanding within the framework of a “road map” ahead? A freeze in settlement building and an agreement in principle to negotiate on the basis of creating a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. These are unrealistic in light of the current coalition makeup in Israel and the policy of the person at its head. It’s an impasse: The Palestinian Authority isn’t capable of calming the street without dramatic political steps that Israel has no intention of taking.

What does this say for the PA and Abbas? That in all likelihood, they’re living on borrowed time. Or, as a senior figure from the Authority said in his office in Ramallah, “The game is over.” Does this mean the dismantling or crumbling of the PA in the near future? It seems so.

Security cooperation is wearing thinner with each passing day — after each Palestinian terror attack, and each Israeli security operation in the field (such as the operation Tuesday night in the village of Qalandiya, during which Israeli forces looking for terrorists killed two Palestinians who, in separate incidents, tried to ram their cars into Israeli soldiers). It’s like a countdown whose end is hard to predict but which will clearly stop at some point. Thus the demise of the PA is a question of when, not if.

On the Palestinian side, too, there are also no real plans.

There has been much talk over recent weeks about the PLO committee that is supposed to convene to discuss halting security and economic coordination with Israel. Will Abbas gather the PLO leadership by the end of the year and lead it to a dramatic about-face decision on relations with Israel or security cooperation? In the run up to the next Fatah Day on January 1, senior figures from the movement will doubtless try to take a step of one kind or another to bring Fatah and the Palestinian agenda back to the global forefront.

Saeb Erekat, general secretary of the PLO, has been scattering threats right and left over recent days, talking repeatedly about canceling the recognition of Israel and the Oslo Accords.

It’s not clear whether this will happen. But it has to be said that not a few of Erekat’s unsuccessful recommendations over the past year — e.g., joining the International Criminal Court in The Hague last year, on the anniversary of Fatah’s founding — were warmly received by the president.