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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "g7"

James Rogers: We’re in the G7 and are members of NATO. But we need a new alliance of democracies – the D10.

James Rogers is Director of the Global Britain Programme at the Henry Jackson Society.

Covid-19 is like a flash of lightning that uncovers a darkened landscape at night. It is, of course, first and foremost a public health emergency; but more deeply, it is a reflection of deep geopolitical change.

It has reconfirmed the Indo-Pacific zone’s growing centrality. It has revealed the authoritarian nature and untrustworthy character of China’s government. It has shown why we cannot afford to be so dependent on China – or any other country – for critical goods. And it has demonstrated why we need to work more with like-minded countries to uphold our principles and secure our objectives and interests.

Although it has been clear for some while that the so-called rules-based international system is increasingly dysfunctional, Covid-19 has confirmed the extent to which authoritarian powers have gained influence in such bodies last the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Human Rights Commission – stuffed as it often is with autocracies and systematic human rights abusers.

The reason for this is that the authoritarian revisionists – such as Russia and China – have grown in power over the past two decades. They want to make the world safe for autocracy; as they gain further in power, and unless they are resisted, they will continue to dismantle or hijack the international order that Britain and its allies have done so much to put in place and undergird.

This is why it makes sense, as Boris Johnson’s government restarts the Integrated Strategic Review, to thoroughly reappraise Britain’s membership of existing alliances and international organisations.

The problem is that most of these were born of a different age; they have grown difficult to reform; many allies fail to pull their weight; and it is proving ever-harder for the United Kingdom, like other democracies – even the United States – to secure its interests through them. It is vital to remember that multilateralism is not important for its own sake; multilateralism is important only if it helps Britain project its principles and secure its interests.

This does not mean, however, that the United Kingdom should descend into a clumsy transactional foreign policy, or facile isolationism.  What it does mean is that the government needs to be more selective about the alliances and international organisations it chooses to buttress and work with. It also means that Britain should be prepared to expand the functions of existing groups or, even, create new frameworks, to reflect new realities.

It is for this reason that reports that Johnson’s government is proposing to form a new coalition of democracies – potentially out of the G7 – should be particularly welcomed.

Notwithstanding Japan’s membership, the G7 is primarily Euro-Atlantic in orientation. It lost much of its rationale during the 2000s, as the centre of economic gravity shifted towards East and South-East Asia. The formalisation of the G20 after the financial crisis of 2007-2008 only confirmed its obsolescence.

Likewise, other organisations, even the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, have been rendered less relevant today than in the past as geopolitical competition has followed the previous economic shift towards China and the Indo-Pacific.

This is why a new coalition of democracies makes sense, particularly one that reflects new economic and geopolitical realities. Britain is said to be keen to build such a coalition – known as the Democratic 10, or ‘D10’ for short – to include the existing G7 members, alongside India, South Korea and Australia.

Ostensibly as a first step, Donald Trump suggested inviting the three countries to the upcoming G7 summit this autumn, perhaps alongside Russia – a proposal too far, which the British and Canadians, even the Russians themselves, quickly rejected.

It should come as no surprise that the concept of a community of democracies, even the D10, has been mooted in various guises for some time. That Britain is now prepared to push the idea – there will be ample opportunity during the British presidency of the G7 in 2021 – shows not only the fresh thinking Boris Johnson’s government is capable of, but also how much a new democratic coalition is needed.

An organisation like the D10 could help the democracies organise their efforts to resist the authoritarian revisionism of countries like Russia and China. It could provide a forum for technological cooperation at the strategic level, to ensure that an authoritarian power never again becomes the market or technological leader in the way that China has in relation to 5G telecommunications systems.

The D10 could also provide a platform for the democracies to coordinate the reversal of environmental degradation and their broader international development efforts, particularly as China accelerates and expands its vast £770 billion Belt and Road Initiative.

It could gradually expand to include additional democracies – such as Chile – that are able and willing to preserve an international order based on rules.  And, in time, the D10 could even facilitate greater military cooperation between its members, particularly if growing international tensions start to boil over.

Covid-19 has merely reconfirmed the fact that the democracies cannot take their security for granted. Britain’s proposal for the D10 shows that it is capable of putting the concept of ‘Global Britain’ into practice. It throws down the gauntlet to the Europeans, in an attempt to coax them out of their introspectiveness, while showing America, Japan, India and Australia that London takes their concerns seriously, particularly in relation to China. If implemented, it would rev-up multilateralism for a new age by preparing the world’s democracies for the challenges of the twenty-first century. And it proves that Britain is still at the crux of the international order – not a power shuffling away from it.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

No, Prime Minister. Overseas aid and foreign policy aren’t “one and the same”

Imagine aid spending as an archery target.  At its centre is emergency relief, the core function of aid: relief for people who are victims of flood, famine, earthquake or war.  For example, those rendered homeless by tsunamis in Asia or war in Syria.

The next ring out is basic provision that is not necessarily emergency relief: clean water, say, or sanitation.

Further out still is immunising children against preventable diseases: Rotaviruses or Hepatitis B or polio or  – not itself basic provision, but still close to the target’s centre.

Then comes schools and hospitals.  Eventually, one reaches national-building: securing property, and economic help.  And then climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Our members’ panel survey of five years ago, the last time we looked at the subject in depth, found exactly what one would expect to find.

Being sensible people, the Conservative members we surveyed showed decreasing support for aid as it left the core of emergency relief and travelled to the outer rings of nation-building.

Essentially, they were all for aid that clearly makes an immediate difference, but were unconvinced that cash for securing property rights, for example, either provided taxpayer value for money or should be an aid objective at all.

The percentages may well have changed in five years.  But it is very unlikely that the basic shape of the panel’s view has altered much.

Which suggests that the Government’s absorption of the Department of International Development into the Foreign Office is a mistake.

For the essence of Boris Johnson’s statement today was not that the 0.7 per cent aid spending target is to be taken out of law – a move that we would welcome, because its putting into law was virtue signalling, no more, no less.

Nor was it that the target will be dropped altogether – about which we would be indifferent, if only because there is no magic in yoking one’s aid spending to a fraction of one per cent (or of any per cent).

Rather, the Prime Minister’s intent was to signal that overseas aid is become an instrument of foreign policy: exactly what our panel, when it mulled taxpayers’ money for democracy-building or property rights, was sceptical about.

He told the Commons that foreign policy and international development are basically “one and the same”.  But this is the logic that Conservative members rejected, and one of his own examples helps to show why.

Johnson referred to assistance given to six Balkan countries to counter “Russian meddling” – nations, incidentally, that are waiting to enter the EU’s revolving door in the wake of the UK exiting from it.

Two years ago, Theresa May joined EU leaders in promising regional security cooperation to help tackle common corruption, organised crime, the trafficking of people, drugs and firearms, and terrorism plus violent extremism.

All well and good – but the move was nothing much to do with aid, if the guiding impulse behind the latter is, as it must necessarily be, humanitarian feeling rather than the national interest.

The Prime Minister complained that too many cooks spoil the aid broth, and that it makes sense to bring aid spending within a single department.  But he gave no reason why it should be the Foreign Office rather than DfiD.

Admittedly, some former DfiD Ministers complain that the department’s ethos is focused excessively on its client base and insufficiently on the taxpayer.

But the more one probes the evidence, the more one comes to see that much of the most egregious mis-spending is associated with other departments: BEIS with India and the Foreign Office with China.

One assessment found that only five per cent of the £765 million then spent by former and 16 per cent of the £1 billion then spent by the Foreign Office went to the countries that needed it most.

Frankly, Johnson’s statement was as clear as mud when it came to what the continuing 0.7 per cent of GDP will actually be spent on, and what the costs of shuffling the Whitehall deckchairs will be.

Furthermore, the change creates a brand new cart to put before the horse – that’s to say, the awaited defence and security review, which is likely to see traditional defence interests squaring off against enthusiasts for cyber.

The wider significance of the proposal is that it appears to reflect the thinking of John Bew, the Prime Minister’s foreign affairs adviser, who is contributing to the review.

Bew is the author of a fine biography of Clement Attlee, one of the architects of the UK’s post-war policy, and is essentially a pro-intervention “muscular liberal”.

Since Britain can’t and shouldn’t withdraw from such international institutions as the WTO, NATO, the G7 and the Council of Europe, his presence is a plus, in the round: a necessary check on any drift to isolationism.

And although we disagree with this particular merger, it can’t be said that it comes as a surprise.  It was clearly presaged by the post-election merger of Foreign Office and DfiD Ministers.

Supporters of the move would point out, not unfairly, that it shows the Government isn’t marooned – rendered inert by the pressures of dealing with the Coronavirus.  Johnson has made a decision and is taking action.

Tom Tugendhat wrote recently on this site that bringing together aid, foreign policy and trade “would help to cut the strings that see Beijing’s loans deliver UN votes or silence over abuses”.  The point is worth mulling.

We expect that the proposed change polls in the abstract.  It is part of the transition from the age of the Cameroon modernisers to the era of Dominic Cummings, with its hard-nosed sense of what plays well in Red Wall Country.

None the less, remember what caused DfID to be brought into being in the first place.

The Pergau Dam deal during the mid-1990s sought to combine aid, arms sales and building a dam of dubious value in Malaysia.  The consequent court case discredited the then Foreign Office-led model of providing aid.  We are unconvinced that it is necessary to reinvent this particular wheel.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

James Cullimore: To halt the perilous trend of diseases like the Coronovirus, we will need to heal our relationship with nature

James Cullimore is Programmes Officer at the Conservative Environment Network.

Around a century ago, in a burgeoning metropolis in west central Africa, the new retrovirus HIV-1 began circulating among the human population. As a zoonotic pathogen – meaning it originated in animals – its simian precursor had jumped from chimpanzees to bushmeat hunters in southeastern Cameroon.

It spread for some 50 to 70 years before being detected, but would go on to cause one of the worst pandemics of the twentieth century. It has since been followed by a procession of zoonotic diseases, including COVID-19. To halt this perilous trend, we will need to heal our relationship with nature.

Leopoldville, the cradle of the AIDS pandemic – now known as Kinshasa and the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo – had all the hallmarks of a location susceptible to emerging infectious diseases (EIDs), with its growing urban population and bustling river trade routes which linked the city to the chimpanzee carriers of HIV-1.

It’s a story which has been repeated all too often in recent decades. As human settlements have expanded, and more land has been exploited to meet the needs of the growing workforce, we have encroached ever further upon natural habitats, and the reservoir of zoonotic pathogens which reside within them.

The majority of EIDs since 1940, and almost all recent pandemics, are of zoonotic origin. Scientists have been warning for some time that zoonotic diseases pose a growing threat to global health, and warning shots came in the form of Sars, Mers, Ebola and the Nipah virus.

As the probable source of both COVID-19 and its older relative Sars, international concern has understandably been focused upon wildlife markets in recent weeks. However, as we emerge from this crisis, it is important to also address the more fundamental drivers of zoonotic disease emergence, to mitigate the risk of future pandemics.

Habitat encroachment, as a result of the intensification of farming, mining, logging and urbanisation, has brought people into closer contact with wild animals – facilitating the ‘spillover’ of disease. Human activity now affects 75 per cent of the Earth’s land surface, with agriculture alone consuming one-third of terrestrial space. This industrial and agricultural expansion has brought great socio-economic benefits, but it has also generated threats to human health and prosperity; land-use change is the primary driver of zoonotic disease outbreaks, accounting for 31 per cent of emerging zoonoses since 1940.

Climate change threatens to amplify the threat from zoonotic diseases, by further driving human-wildlife interaction. Modelling suggests that, based on present trends, warmer temperatures will increase the frequency of Ebola outbreaks from once every 17 years to once every 10 by 2070, as the geographical range of bats and other host species expands.

To protect us from more of these pandemics, governments will need to go further than prohibiting the trade and consumption of wildlife. A new covenant with nature is required, to protect public health and safeguard the environment for future generations.

As president of the G7 and the UN climate negotiations in 2021, the UK has the opportunity to play a leading role in shaping a new global agreement for nature, which reinvigorates conservation efforts and places nature at the heart of the international effort to combat climate change. This new deal must halt and reverse habitat loss, and ensure a healthy ‘social distance’ between human populations and wildlife.

Integral to such an agreement must be a ‘One Health’ framework, which recognizes that the health of humans, animals and the environment are inextricably linked. This must be backed up by specific commitments on conservation, such as protecting a minimum proportion of land and sea area for nature, and by large-scale monitoring and research programmes to preempt future outbreaks.

The UK can act as a convenor for such an agreement, and provide support for more sustainable land management practices through our international development aid. We can also demonstrate domestic leadership in two key areas: supply chains and agricultural subsidies.

Requiring large companies to report on environmentally harmful activities in their overseas supply chains, as recommended by the Global Resource Initiative Taskforce, would ensure that we are not drivers of deforestation abroad through the commodities that we consume at home. And we can set the global standard for sustainable food production through our ground-breaking post-Brexit farm subsidy reforms, which will reward farmers financially for nature restoration.

In the century since the transmission event which gave rise to HIV-1, there has been a tremendous advancement in human wellbeing. But too often this has come at the expense of ecological health – of which the growing prevalence of zoonotic diseases is symptomatic. The Coronavirus crisis has demonstrated the considerable damage that these infections can inflict, but we now have a unique opportunity to repair our relationship with nature, and continue our development in a healthier and more sustainable world.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Stephen Lynch: Britain has an opportunity to show leadership in Africa and around the world

Stephen Lynch is Managing Director of Lynch Communications, a public affairs and PR consultancy. He was a Conservative Party Press Officer from 2015 to 2017.

In this new chapter for Britain – the road to peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations runs through Africa.

This continent contains 27 of the world’s 50 fastest-growing economies. The population is projected to double by 2050, when 1 in 4 consumers globally will be in Africa.

Walking around Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I’ve seen China’s investment at work – the construction of major roads along its coastlines. China is showing aggression and invention in seeking investment opportunities in diverse sectors, such as manufacturing, agriculture and mining.

The Chinese have built a 525km natural gas pipeline in the country, and are negotiating over a $10 billion new port and a special economic zone that aims to transform Tanzania into east Africa’s leading regional trade and transport hub.

At the UK-Africa Investment Summit last month the Prime Minister told the 13 assembled African leaders Britain wanted to become their “obvious partner of choice”, and aimed to become the largest G-7 investor in Africa within two years.

The continent is not without its challenges however – the World Bank and IMF both have warned that around 40% of its nations have alarming levels of debt.

Whether China is engaging in deliberate “debt-trap diplomacy” or not, the risk remains that the Belt and Road Initiative is loading unsustainable and potentially unserviceable debts onto less-developed countries.

At home, our government’s motives will be questioned, and it will be accused of holding post-colonial attitudes borne of guilt or arrogance. The British Empire historically has presented a blind spot for modern policymakers, who see only poverty and instability when they look to Africa. Although the recent summit did succeed in broadening discourse beyond familiar development issues, to infrastructure, clean energy and sustainable finance.

Labour says the aid budget is serving the needs of big business, instead of tackling global inequality, and that trade deals are not a panacea for ending poverty.

Global Britain is not a trite slogan, but a clear commitment to enhancing the UK’s global leadership and its investment and engagement in international relationships and agreements post EU withdrawal.

Conservative governments have looked to Africa and see friends, allies and partners in: ending violence against women and girls and giving them access to quality education; eradicating Ebola, malaria and other diseases to stop preventable deaths, as well as providing food security and clean water for millions.

At PMQs last month Boris Johnson contrasted his approach to international affairs with Labour’s leadership – taking “this country forward and outward into the world” versus isolating the UK and depriving us of our most crucial allies.

The PM told Jeremy Corbyn the government would continue to raise human rights issues “ever more vigorously and ever more energetically” from the increased leverage the UK gains from an independent, autonomous trade policy.

James Bloodworth skilfully described Corbyn’s foreign policy as sympathising and siding with “any movement who points an AK-47 in the direction of the West”. Indeed, the Shadow Home Secretary once said of Northern Ireland that “every defeat of the British state is a victory for all of us”. Corbyn and his conspiratorial fellow travellers oppose British intervention in any circumstances, and hold America, Israel and / or the UK solely responsible for any global problem.

By contrast, the Tories’ 2019 manifesto succinctly said: “As Conservatives, we are immensely proud of the UK’s history and its standing in the world. Unlike those currently leading the Labour Party, we view our country as a force for good.”

The rumoured merger of the FCO and DFID, accentuated by last week’s reshuffle, provides an opportunity for the government to continue to do the right thing by those overseas, and the smart thing by its citizens here.

I’ve seen first-hand the good work that DFID – described by Angela Merkel as one of the UK’s “crown jewels” – and its social action projects can do.

Three years ago, I joined Conservative Friends of International Development (CFID) volunteers and Project Umubano founder Andrew Mitchell MP in training teachers in Rwanda in language and facilitation skills as their education system transitioned from French to an English curriculum. We delivered the programme to 700 school-based mentors – responsible for improving teaching methodologies in their respective schools. Our calculations showed our work would potentially go on to impact almost 16,000 teachers, and over 635,000 students!

CFID’s Project Urafiki in Tanzania in 2018 saw me spending the week with Jeremy Lefroy, Theo Clarke, Sir Desmond Swayne and others in training students in debating, public speaking and employability skills. Then-Secretary of State Penny Mordaunt joined us on the final day to judge which students excelled in presentation and persuasion.

Global Britain means an influential, powerful actor on the world stage. Playing leading, instrumental roles in shaping the Sustainable Development Goals. Championing the Paris Agreement on climate change (an issue disproportionately affecting the world’s poorest). A rock-solid commitment to NATO and contribution to security and defence in Europe and further afield.

It means a beefed-up diplomatic presence in Africa for FCO and DFID. The diplomatic footprint of China, France, Brazil, India and Turkey each outnumbers the UK’s staff on the ground. Russia and the Gulf nations are also expanding.

The government should make it much easier for people from Africa, and other non-EU countries, to obtain UK visas. As we know from trade discussions with friends in India in particular, our partners reasonably expect a quid-pro-quo on visa liberalisation for students and workers.

The government’s new expansion of fast-track global talent visas is welcome – there should be no arbitrary cap on leading scientists, researchers and mathematicians. Talent is spread equally through the globe, but the barriers to entry based on nationality have not been level. It is right to encourage and support the best and brightest to turn their ideas into reality here.

Global Britain means, above all, a compassionate Britain.

Conservatives are making the case for leadership in international development, knowing it is grounded in the interests of the world’s most disadvantaged people, in our own national interest and in our values – encouraging enterprise, opportunity and aspiration for every family.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Tom Tugendhat: The three foreign policy actions that Johnson should take now that he has this huge majority

Tom Tugendhat is MP for Tonbridge and Malling and is one of the leaders of the One Nation Group.

The moment a revolution happens is often only clear with hindsight. Last week’s landslide needs no time for review. It was a lightning bolt releasing an energy that has jolted Parliament and our country into action – and could kickstart new partnerships around the world.

For the first time in a political generation, the UK has a leader able to make a mark on the world. With a five-year term looking certain, a voice tested on the G7, the EU and NATO, and with the ability to legislate others can only dream of, Boris Johnson is positioned to achieve what he has previously only spoken about: Global Britain.

He now has the mandate to act to make this more than a slogan.

 Over the coming months many will focus – rightly – on the EU trade talks. They are going to determine much of the change that is coming to our economy and the relationships our businesses build with the world.

But despite its proximity and economic weight, it won’t be in Brussels that our future is written, but here in London. How we decide to act will shape our future.  

To harness the storm, there are three things we should do now.

The first is to build a new partnership of democratic powers. The creation of a new alliance of those orbiting between the might of the US or China would see mid-sized democratic nations – the Mid-Dems – defend the rule law and economic system that has made us largely prosperous and peaceful since the Second World War. As newly freed-spirits, we can lead a new way of working together. On defence, there is no doubt that our American alliance is the underpinning of our sovereignty, but on trade? That’s where China’s importance grows.

China poses its own challenges. We want closer trade relationships, but the absence of the rule of law, the undermining of civil liberties, the lack of respect for intellectual property and more, leaves little chance to freely exchange ideas and deepen relationships.

That’s why a networked alliance is what we should be looking for. Together with other Mid-Dem countries, such as  Australia, Chile, Germany, France, South Korea and Japan, we can build a partnership to defend the rules that have made us all stronger, working together on climate change, and protecting us all against the whims of powers more inclined to use leverage than law.

Working together would help reawaken many of the existing institutions. In the United Nations, for example, where the US has played less of a role than many of her allies would like, China has become dominant. Buying votes on UN bodies like the Food and Agriculture Organisation may not sound a good investment until you factor in the influence it has on UN members dependent on aid who will be voting in the upcoming ballot to lead the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

As companies like Vodafone know well, WIPO controls international use of frequencies that modern technology relies on, and sets the norms to prevent the IP thefts now normal in China. Beijing is slowly taking control of the existing international order as America steps away. We need to work with like-minded states to protect what matters and contain what doesn’t.

As well as new partnerships, we should join existing bodies, like the TPP.  Opening talks with the members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, as the new club of 11 states was recently renamed, would expand our horizons. Setting a new trade agenda without aiming for the harmonisation of the European Union will give us reach. Though the geography sounds distant, shipping costs are near historic lows, and our alliance with countries from Mexico to Japan, who have already invited us to join, would build on existing trading relationships and demonstrate to suitors that Britain has options.

That’s the only way we’ll get the deals we need. If we look like beggars, we’ll get crumbs and would be selling ourselves short. We have a huge market, a skilled workforce and some of the most innovative technology in the world, matched with the rule of law and the firm expectation of five years of stable government. So we’re in a stronger position than anyone to benefit from the network building TPP.

The third decision we must take is to invest in ourselves. A house divided makes easy prey for other and the fractures in the United Kingdom are clear for all to see. That’s why the One Nation agenda is so important. Uniting our country so that we’re more than a city state of London with a UK hinterland is essential to everything we seek to achieve. Investment in rail, road, communications and education are as essential to our future prosperity as reforming the Foreign Office.

The new strategic policy review could bring all this together. For the first time in decades the levers of British influence – defence, diplomacy, aid and trade – could sit alongside domestic efforts in education and infrastructure to give the Prime Minister the strength to act.

While Emmanuel Macron has pension problems and a looming election, Donald Trump is going through impeachment and a coming poll, and Angela Merkel has already announced her resignation, Johnson can look out with confidence at the coming five years certain his majority and with a more distant horizon than any of his global peers makes.

This is a chance Britain can grasp to shape not just our home but our world. I’m confident that the Prime Minister can bring his words to life and make Britain global again.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Pelosi: Trump hosting the G7 at his own resort is “completely out of the question”

Westlake Legal Group p-1 Pelosi: Trump hosting the G7 at his own resort is “completely out of the question” Trump The Blog resort pelosi New York Post National murdoch Geraldo Rivera g7 fox doral appropriations

I take it this is her way of threatening to block appropriations for the G7, although I’m not sure how that would work. Normally Congress would just hand the executive branch a bunch of money for the event and the president would handle the arrangements, including the choice of locale, right? Is Pelosi suggesting that some sort of condition will be attached to the appropriation barring it from being used at a Trump property?

If so, that’ll set us up for a fun news cycle next year when Trump decides to ignore that condition and hands the money to Trump National Doral anyway.

Silver lining, I guess: If Pelosi succeeds in roadblocking funding for the G7, Dems can’t impeach Trump on emolument grounds for awarding himself the event.

She hit Trump for his G7 choice last night on Twitter too, citing Andrew Napolitano’s segment on Fox Business to support her case. At long last — Fox/Pelosi synergy. Fox isn’t the only Rupert Murdoch property that’s criticizing Trump today for awarding himself a no-bid contract, either. The New York Post has an editorial out titled, “Move the summit, Mr. President.” (“[V]oters expect and deserve clear signs that their president is working for them — not promoting himself.”) I think he will end up moving it. The grief he’s getting and will continue to get for it over the next eight months just isn’t worth it to him.

But it’s worth something. WaPo looked at Trump National Doral’s business fortunes over the last few years and realized why Trump is keen to drum up some interest in the property.

The summit will also come to Doral at a particularly good time — June, when Miami is steamy and its business usually drops off sharply. In 2017, the hotel reported that June was its second-slowest month, with just 38.3 percent of its rooms occupied. Only August, at 31.1 percent, was slower…

“They are severely underperforming” other resorts in the area, tax consultant Jessica Vachiratevanurak, who had been hired by Trump, told a county official last year in a bid to lower the property’s tax bill. Vachiratevanurak said the club’s net operating income — a key figure, representing the amount left over after expenses are paid — had fallen by 69 percent as of 2017

In recent years, Doral has turned to Trump’s political allies to replace some of its lost revenue. This past weekend, for instance, it hosted a pro-Trump group called American Priority. Shown at that event was a violent video depicting Trump shooting, stabbing and beheading members of the media and some Democratic opponents, according to the New York Times.

Times are tough for the business, probably due to some patrons disassociating themselves from Trump for political reasons, so logically the resort has tried to leverage Trump’s political allies to offset the losses. Hosting the G7 is just a grander international version of that strategy. Ideally for Trump, the prestige associated with the event will wear off some of the resort’s stigma among anti-Trump Americans and the Doral’s bookings will increase afterward. Unless Pelosi blocks it, of course.

But maybe Trump isn’t fully committed to the idea. The mayor of Doral told WaPo that he hadn’t a word about this until Mick Mulvaney mentioned it on television, never mind that accommodating thousands of guests and security details for many world leaders will be a logistical challenge for the city. Possibly Trump sent Mulvaney out there to announce it as a trial balloon, to see what sort of pushback he’d get. If people rolled their eyes but otherwise ignored it on grounds that it’s just another case of the president being grubby, full speed ahead. Time to call the mayor. If instead there was an outcry, which there has been, he’ll scrap it. I think he’ll scrap it.

Of course, it’s also possible that Trump has (or had) every intention of hosting it at Doral and just didn’t think to let city officials know. Why not surprise ’em later?

He’s gonna scrap it. If a Trump buddy like Geraldo is willing to go on the president’s very favorite news show on his very favorite network to criticize him over his decision, Trump will recalculate.

The post Pelosi: Trump hosting the G7 at his own resort is “completely out of the question” appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group p-1-300x153 Pelosi: Trump hosting the G7 at his own resort is “completely out of the question” Trump The Blog resort pelosi New York Post National murdoch Geraldo Rivera g7 fox doral appropriations  Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Napolitano: Trump hosting the G7 at his own resort is a gross violation of the Emoluments Clause

Westlake Legal Group n-2 Napolitano: Trump hosting the G7 at his own resort is a gross violation of the Emoluments Clause Trump The Blog napolitano Megyn Kelly g7 fox emoluments doral clause Business

This is interesting on the merits but also interesting in that two of the most powerful platforms in right-wing media are promoting it.

I suppose one could argue that Trump handing the G7 to his own business isn’t a textbook emolument since it doesn’t really function as a bribe, which is what the constitutional ban is all about. We don’t want the president receiving fat envelopes from foreign dignitaries for fear that that’ll influence his views on foreign policy. Imagine if, say, the president of Ukraine could curry favor with POTUS by telling him that he recently paid for the privilege of staying in one of his luxurious properties in the United States. That would look like petty bribery! Hosting a summit of world leaders like the G7 where attendance by the member nations is compulsory doesn’t work the same way. The president is still enriched, but no one’s purchasing any special favor from him by being there.

It’s not even clear that Trump will profit from the event if in fact he ends up hosting the event at cost, as Mick Mulvaney claimed earlier today.

But of course Napolitano’s read is defensible too. By handing the G7 to Trump National Doral, Trump is brazenly using the leverage he has over foreign policy by dint of his office to line his own pockets with foreign government money. Profit might not be necessary; revenue might be enough. Even if there’s no profit, the PR generated for the resort by its role in the G7 is doubtless worth millions. The corruption is so flagrant, the optics are so poor, that Pelosi and Nadler must be tempted to add it to the eventual articles of impeachment as a gross violation of the Emoluments Clause. That would complicate their messaging on impeachment since it’s supposed to be all about Ukraine and quid pro quos, but the public is likely to view his G7 move as so blatantly improper that there’s really no downside to Dems in tossing it in there. At the very least, it’ll force Senate Republicans to offer some uncomfortable explanations after they acquit Trump as to why self-dealing on this scale somehow doesn’t warrant removal from office.

I mean, look at what this poor defeated chump has been reduced to in order to cover for the president:

There are no other properties in the state of Florida that might have sufficed for the G7 and which wouldn’t have involved fattening up the president’s bank account, Marco? Between this and how he spun Trump’s comments a few weeks ago about China investigating Hunter Biden, it’s clear that Rubio has essentially checked out of politics. He’ll defend Trump dutifully as needed but his defenses will be conspicuously phoned-in.

Like I say, the clip is also interesting for how it’s being promoted. With Shep Smith’s departure, one might have expected the Fox networks to begin steering towards even more ardent Trump-worship. And it would have been fair to assume that Andrew Napolitano, whose comments about Trump ignited the Shep/Tucker spat that led to Smith leaving, might either lie low or tone it down. Nope: Here’s Napolitano swinging away on Fox Business with full encouragement from Neil Cavuto, who, if anything, may be turning more aggressive in challenging Trump spin now that Shep is gone. So Fox is willing to let its personnel punish Trump for the G7 thing. And Matt Drudge is willing to help: As I write this at 6:45 p.m. ET, this very clip is highlighted in red font at the top of the Drudge Report, the latest example of surprisingly harsh coverage of Trump on a webpage that normally leans right. Is Drudge pro-impeachment? Or is Drudge reacting in this particular instance to the fact that Trump awarding the G7 to his own property is egregiously, cartoonishly improper, maybe anticipating that his readers will be outraged too?

By the way, speaking of Fox, Megyn Kelly’s return to the network last night on Tucker Carlson’s show drew bombshell ratings, crushing even Hannity and Rachel Maddow with more than four million viewers. Conveniently, Fox is now looking for a news anchor to host Shep’s 3 p.m. slot. Hmmm!

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More Mulvaney: It turns out that the best place in America to host the next G7 is a resort owned by Trump

Westlake Legal Group mm More Mulvaney: It turns out that the best place in America to host the next G7 is a resort owned by Trump Trump The Blog self-dealing Mick Mulvaney Golf g7 doral corruption

This is overt self-dealing by President Drain The Swamp, announced by his own chief of staff, in full view of the world. What else is there to say?

It’s so glaringly corrupt that Mulvaney felt obliged to acknowledge at one point today that even he was skeptical at first about hosting a diplomatic event at a business owned by Trump. But — wouldn’t you know it — he’s reliably informed that the Trump National Doral resort is in fact the perfect physical location to host such an event.

Fifty states, 300 million people, untold millions of properties, and Trump’s own business turned out to be ideal. For an event to be held in June of next year, when temperatures in Miami will be pushing 90 degrees.

The saving grace here is supposed to be the fact that the event will be produced at cost, with no profit to Trump. I’m guessing that outside auditors won’t be allowed to verify that. But even if it’s true, it’s obvious how the Trump brand benefits. Retailers are forever lavishing freebies on A-list celebrities because they understand that the publicity derived from doing so will help them move merchandise. Same with Doral and the G7. Philip Klein:

Mulvaney also claimed that the Doral has agreed to do the event at cost, and so Trump won’t profit. But there’s no way of ensuring that is the case, and there’s certainly no reason to take the word of this White House on it. Regardless, however, even if the resort somehow doesn’t profit directly from the conference, it will no doubt benefit from the prestige associated with hosting such an event, and be free publicity for the resort on the world stage…

But Trump is simply shameless. He is consistently brazenly dishonest and proudly unapologetic about his statements and actions, because he is incapable of feeling personal shame. In this case, in the midst of an impeachment inquiry stemming from his abuse of power, he’s just going to lean in. What’s especially shameless is that the White House is announcing this in the midst of a daily campaign to attack Hunter Biden for profiting from his dad’s public office.

Virtually every strand of corruption that Trump has been accused of since taking office is present here. Even before he was sworn in he refused to properly divest himself of his business holdings, setting himself up for charges later that he was using his office to profit personally. The question of emoluments, i.e. personal payments from foreign governments, has also dogged him. That’s potentially involved here too. Meanwhile, as Klein says, he’s busy screaming every day about Hunter Biden making money off of his father’s connections. In this case it’s the president himself who’s making money, which makes it appear even more doubtful that he was genuinely concerned about Joe Biden corruptly abusing his office as VP when he leaned on Ukraine to fire its lead prosecutor. He was looking for a dirt on an election opponent, not “fighting corruption.”

But the most amazing thing is how gratuitous it is. He’s about to be impeached; aides like Gordon Sondland keep coming forward and giving damaging testimony to Democrats; Republicans in the House and Senate are worried about what else might come out and how impeachment might play next fall. On top of all that, they’re furious at his heel turn against the Kurds in Syria. You would think he’d go out of his way not to put them in any new and avoidable cringeworthy political jams. Instead he turns around and awards the G7 to his own business. Even his usual allies can’t explain away this one:

Is he trying to get the Senate to remove him? At this point, every Republican who votes on impeachment and removal will be thinking, “If we don’t get rid of him and he ends up reelected, what insanity will we have to defend two years from now, when he’s no longer accountable to voters?

I’m glad at least that Trump deputized Mulvaney to make this announcement. No one better embodies the essential fraudulence of the tea-party era than this guy, who made a name for himself in Congress preaching small government and greater accountability and now spends his days as a pitiful toady to a strongman, arguing with a straight face that naked conflicts of interest are Actually Good. If he had a shred of dignity, he’d resign.

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The Media and Global Elites Are Lying to You About the Amazon Fires

Westlake Legal Group 281460a8-8b0a-4a9d-bb75-4a60d090268f-620x317 The Media and Global Elites Are Lying to You About the Amazon Fires Propaganda Politics political Marcon lying Hysteria Global Warming g7 Front Page Stories Front Page France Featured Story democrats Climate Change burning Brazil Amazon Fires

For the past decade, we’ve seen normal events become sensationalized to the point of hysteria. Take hurricanes for example.

In order to push climate change as a means for acquiring political power, the left have decided to present every hurricane as proof positive of the vast negative, deadly effects of the earth warming. It doesn’t matter that we are actually seeing less hurricanes in the current decade than the decade before or that 2019 has been incredibly quiet as far as hurricanes go. The moment a storm finally appears this year, it will be bandied about for political reasons.

We are seeing much the same tactics used in regards to the fires currently burning in the Amazon. Celebrities and politicians the world over are shouting on Twitter, sharing photos, and making wild claims about the severity of what is going on.

That’s not to say that the fires are good or that there aren’t more of them this year. It is to say the overall picture being painted is almost wholly false and sowing unnecessary fear to play politics.

Here’s Mike Shellenberger, someone who’s studied this for a long time and lived among the people of the area, writing in Forbes to try to bring some levity to the situation.

Singers and actors including Madonna and Jaden Smith shared photos on social media that were seen by tens of millions of people. “The lungs of the Earth are in flames,” saidactor Leonardo DiCaprio. “The Amazon Rainforest produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen,” tweeted soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. “The Amazon rain forest — the lungs which produce 20% of our planet’s oxygen — is on fire,” tweeted French President Emanuel Macron.

And yet the photos weren’t actually of the fires and many weren’t even of the Amazon. The photo Ronaldo shared was taken in southern Brazil, far from the Amazon, in 2013. The photo that DiCaprio and Macron shared is over 20 years old. The photo Madonna and Smith shared is over 30. Some celebrities shared photos from Montana, India, and Sweden.

It should surprise no one that same group of people who are always beating the drum that the earth is on the verge of calamity chose to purposely lie and share fake photos to push their narrative. Their lying, misleading, and misrepresentations are nothing new.

But let’s deal with the actual claims being made.

Is the Amazon really producing 20% of the world’s oxygen and is it the “lungs of the earth?” It sure sounds dire, but in reality it’s a mostly nonsensical claim.

I was curious to hear what one of the world’s leading Amazon forest experts, Dan Nepstad, had to say about the “lungs” claim.

“It’s bullshit,” he said. “There’s no science behind that. The Amazon produces a lot of oxygen but it uses the same amount of oxygen through respiration so it’s a wash.”

What about the assertion that the Amazon is burning at an 80% higher rate than 2018? As with many things, context matters and the media are purposely leaving it out.

But the “lungs” myth is just the tip of the iceberg. Consider that CNN ran a long segment with the banner, “Fires Burning at Record Rate in Amazon Forest” while a leading climate reporter claimed, “The current fires are without precedent in the past 20,000 years.”

While the number of fires in 2019 is indeed 80% higher than in 2018, it’s just 7% higher than the average over the last 10 years ago, Nepstad said.

One, the idea that anybody could possibly know with any actual authority that these fires haven’t happened for 20,000 years is ludicrous. Secondly, the reason the reason fires are 80% higher this year than last is because last year was an unusually low year for fires. There is no actual existential emergency here.

In fact, there were higher incidences of burning over the course of 2003-2008 than the current five years. The Amazon wasn’t “lost” or destroyed. Amazingly, trees grow back.

What is happening in the Amazon is not exceptional,” said Coutinho. “Take a look at Google web searches search for ‘Amazon’ and ‘Amazon Forest’ over time. Global public opinion was not as interested in the ‘Amazon tragedy’ when the situation was undeniably worse. The present moment does not justify global hysteria.”

And while fires in Brazil have increased, there is no evidence that Amazon forest fireshave.

Further, deforestation is down 70% from the early 2000s. Over half the Amazon is completely protected from deforestation by law and the increase in fires this year is not from climate change, but rather from farmers needing to burn land for crops and cattle.

In other words, what’s happening is completely preventable. It’s not an uncontrollable, environmental threat to the world due to global warming. You are not going to stop getting oxygen to your lungs because of a 7% increase in Amazon fires over the last decade.

Enough of the lying. It’s incredibly transparent that this is political given the same climate change hysterics who freak out about hurricanes and thunderstorms are latching onto this. Brazil doesn’t owe the rest of the world anything and they need to be allowed to manage the situation without the French president or Hollywood celebrities injecting false information into the debate. It only creates division and makes it harder to work with the farmers in question.

Marcon and others should stay in their lane. This isn’t it.

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Brazil Tells G7 to Keep Their Aid Money, then Burns World Leaders by Telling Them What They Can Do With It

Westlake Legal Group 281460a8-8b0a-4a9d-bb75-4a60d090268f-620x317 Brazil Tells G7 to Keep Their Aid Money, then Burns World Leaders by Telling Them What They Can Do With It Politics Paris Notre Dame Jair Bolsonaro International Affairs g7 Front Page Stories Featured Story Emmanuel Macron donald trump Climate Brazil amazon Allow Media Exception

While the leaders at the G7 summit may have felt good about drumming up $20 million for Brazil to help fight the fires in the Amazon, Brazil is shrugging it off and adding a few choice words for these leaders to boot.

According to The Hill, Brazil representatives said that the money is “interference” and added that the language of accepting the term was too “ambiguous.” Furthermore, Brazil said it never asked for this help and it was decided without the input of Brazil at all:

According to The Hill, Brazil did tell them what they could do with that money, though, and that’s to solve their own problems:

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro‘s chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, also told Globo news website in response to the offer: “Thanks, but maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe,” according to Politico.

“Macron cannot even avoid a predictable fire in a church that is part of the world’s heritage, and he wants to give us lessons for our country?” Lorenzoni added, referring to French President Emmanuel Macron and the fire at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris earlier this year.

Ouch.

It’s not entirely clear what was in the agreement for the money, but it was seemingly insulting to Brazillian leaders if this was their reaction. The decision for the funding from the G7 council was made on Monday without both Brazil’s input and President Donald Trump, who did not attend that meeting.

Bolsonaro himself has been called the “Trump of the Tropics” after running a populist right-wing campaign. One of his goals was to open up the rainforest for business development, as Brazil’s environmental laws were “suffocating” the country according to him. He has expressed his belief that the fires were started in the Amazon by nongovernmental organizations to try to make him look bad, according to The Hill.

 

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