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Micro-Powers - The Rise Of Small States

26.09.2020 12:14

A new phenomenon in lobalized world order are micro-powers - the Emirates, Singapore, Switzerland, Israel and Ireland - that are resourceful, regionally dominant, influential geopolitical players

From: www.forbes.com

SWONDER 10′ Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard - $289.99

26.09.2020 11:02

This SWONDER 10' Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard mesaures 10’ x 32'' x 6''. ...

Tags: NFL
From: www.dealepic.com

Brink of war: China puts world on alert over Taiwan threats - 'Five minutes to midnight'

26.09.2020 10:21

BEIJING'S pathological fear and hatred for even "piecemeal democratisation" in its sphere of influence may "set the entire region on fire" with an attack on the democratic island of Taiwan being its first priority, according to an academic.

From: feedproxy.google.com

The Quiet 2013 Lunch That Could Have Altered Supreme Court History

26.09.2020 10:06


When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined President Barack Obama for lunch in his private dining room in July 2013, the White House sought to keep the event quiet -- the meeting called for discretion.Obama had asked his White House counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, to set up the lunch so he could build a closer rapport with the justice, according to two people briefed on the conversation. Treading cautiously, he did not directly bring up the subject of retirement to Ginsburg, at 80 the Supreme Court's oldest member and a two-time cancer patient.He did, however, raise the looming 2014 midterm elections and how Democrats might lose control of the Senate. Implicit in that conversation was the concern motivating his lunch invitation -- the possibility that if the Senate flipped, he would lose a chance to appoint a younger, liberal judge who could hold on to the seat for decades.But the effort did not work, just as an earlier attempt by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who was then Judiciary Committee chair, had failed. Ginsburg left Obama with the clear impression that she was committed to continuing her work on the court, according to those briefed.In an interview a year later, Ginsburg deflected questions about the purpose of the lunch. Pressed on what Obama might think about her potential retirement, she said only, "I think he would agree with me that it's a question for my own good judgment."With Ginsburg's death last week, Democrats are in a major political battle, as Republicans race to fill her seat and cement the court's conservative tilt.Obama clearly felt compelled to try to avoid just such a scenario, but the art of maneuvering justices off the court is politically delicate and psychologically complicated. They have lifetime appointments and enjoy tremendous power and status, which can be difficult to give up.Still, presidents throughout American history have strategized to influence the timing of justices' exits to suit various White House priorities.President Donald Trump's first White House counsel, Donald McGahn II, the primary architect of the administration's success in reshaping the judiciary, helped ease the way for Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement in 2018, which allowed Trump and a Republican-controlled Senate to lock down his seat for another generation.McGahn sought to make the justice comfortable with the process by which a successor would be chosen, according to people briefed on their conversations, by seeking his advice on potential picks for lower-court vacancies and recommending that Trump nominate one of his former clerks, Neil Gorsuch, to fill an earlier vacancy. (Brett Kavanaugh, who McGahn recommended to fill Kennedy's seat, was also one of his clerks.)Justices, however, often bristle at any impingement of politics or other pressures in their realm. Robert Bauer, who served as Obama's White House counsel for part of his first term, said he recalled no discussions then of having Obama try to nudge Ginsburg to step aside. Bauer said asking a judge -- any judge -- to retire was hypersensitive, recalling how in 2005 he wrote an opinion column calling for Congress to impose judicial term limits and require cameras in the courtroom, only to have Justice Sandra Day O'Connor blast his column in a speech on threats to judicial independence."The O'Connor episode reflects the sensitivity that justices can exhibit toward pressure from the outside about how the court runs," Bauer said, including showing "resistance to any questions about how long they serve." He added: "White Houses are typically mindful of all this."Resistance aside, Democrats outside the White House also strategized about how to raise the topic of retirement with Ginsburg. Several senior White House staff members say they heard word that Leahy had gingerly approached the subject with her several years before the Obama lunch.He was then chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees Supreme Court nominations; he also had a warm relationship with Ginsburg, a bond forged over their shared enjoyment of opera and visits to the Kennedy Center. Asked through a spokesman for comment, Leahy did not respond.One of the former Obama administration staff members who heard discussion of the roundabout outreach by Leahy was Rob Nabors, who served in a series of White House policy and legislative affairs positions under Obama from 2009 to 2014. But Nabors said he recalled hearing that "it wasn't clear that the message was entirely transmitted effectively, or that it was received in the manner it was delivered."While Obama's own talk with the justice was tactful, changing conditions should have made his implicit agenda clear, according to the two people briefed about the meeting, who spoke only on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the topic. Democrats were worried about the prospect of losing the Senate. And the president had invited no other justices to lunch.But the failure of that conversation convinced the Obama team that it was pointless to try to talk to her of departure. The next summer, when another Supreme Court term closed without a retirement announcement from her, the administration did not try again.Neil Eggleston, who became White House counsel in April 2014, said that he did not remember anyone proposing that another attempt to ease Ginsburg toward resignation would do any good."I think it is largely not done," he said. "Suggesting that to a Supreme Court justice -- she is as smart as anyone; she doesn't need the president to tell her how old she is and what her timelines are."Given his previous tenure as chief counsel to the Judiciary Committee, Justice Stephen Breyer might have been a more pragmatic target of overtures. Walter Dellinger, a former solicitor general, mentioned to the White House counsel's office during the Obama administration a plan he conceived to motivate Breyer, a known Francophile, to start a next chapter."My suggestion was that the president have Breyer to lunch and say to him, 'I believe historians will someday say the three greatest American ambassadors to France were Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Stephen G. Breyer,'" recalled Dellinger, who recently joined former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign team.Although it is not clear how, word of Dellinger's idea made its way to Breyer.Dellinger said that when he ran into Breyer at a holiday party not long after Trump was elected, the justice pulled him aside. "So Walter," he asked, "do you still want to ship me off to France?" Dellinger, who sensed the justice was ribbing him, responded, "Mr. Justice, I hear Paris isn't what it used to be."Dellinger added that he now thought Breyer was correct to resist the idea, saying "he has made a tremendous contribution in the ensuing years." Breyer's office declined to comment.In making that suggestion to lure Breyer with an ambassador position, Dellinger was harking back to similar ideas from Lyndon B. Johnson, a master strategist. Johnson lured Justice Arthur Goldberg, who he wanted to replace with his friend Abe Fortas, off the court by offering him the role of ambassador to the United Nations, saying that he would have tremendous power in negotiating the end of the Vietnam War.Goldberg never did have that authority and regretted his decision. "I asked Goldberg, why did you leave the bench?" said Laura Kalman, professor of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He answered her in one word: "Vanity."Johnson also played on the paternal pride of the Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark, by appointing his son, Ramsey Clark, attorney general in March 1967. Johnson, who wanted to replace Clark with Thurgood Marshall, played up the notion that his continued presence on the court while his son ran the Justice Department created a conflict of interest, and Clark stepped down that June.But presidents cannot force justices to leave the court. Franklin Roosevelt floated a plan to "pack" the court by expanding the number of justices in frustration because aging conservatives kept striking down his "New Deal" programs. President William Taft could not push out Justice Melville Fuller, whom he deemed senile after the justice bungled Taft's swearing-in, biographer David Atkinson wrote; Taft had to wait until Fuller died of a heart attack a year later. (In a book about Taft, Henry Pringle wrote "the old men of the court seldom died and never retired.")Democratic leaders had precious few cards they could have played as they contemplated their options with Ginsburg. She made it clear in several interviews that she had no intention to retire; widowed in 2010, she was devoted to her work, determined to have a voice and appreciated the platform her celebrity offered her as an icon liberals liked to call the "Notorious RBG."She was clearly annoyed at any public suggestions that she step down. In 2014, Erwin Chemerinsky, now dean of the law school at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote articles, appearing in The Los Angeles Times and Politico, declaring that for the long-term good of progressive values, Ginsburg should step aside to make way for a younger Obama appointee."It was certainly conveyed to me that she was not pleased with those who were suggesting that she retire," Chemerinsky said.Randall Kennedy, a professor at Harvard Law School, had also written a column in 2011 in The New Republic calling for Ginsburg and Breyer to step down immediately, suggesting that they should not stay on the court so long that they risked conservatives inheriting their seats."I didn't feel at all apologetic about saying something which frankly seemed to me quite clear," Kennedy said. "I've been praying -- praying -- that I'd be able to look back and say I was wrong. It didn't turn out that way."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

NFL: Osi Umenyiora and Jason Bell preview Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens

26.09.2020 7:02

Osi Umenyiora and Jason Bell preview Kansas City Chiefs' trip to Baltimore Ravens in the highly-anticipated meeting between the two teams in the NFL on Monday.

Tags: NFL, Baltimore
From: www.bbc.co.uk

Lebanon: Love without hope?

26.09.2020 3:43

Lebanese artists discuss the ever-changing journey of their country, a nation marked by conflict.

Tags: NFL
From: www.aljazeera.com

NFL: Ryan Fitzpatrick stars as Miami Dolphins beat Jacksonville Jaguars

26.09.2020 2:17

Watch some of the best plays from the first game of week three of the NFL season as Ryan Fitzpatrick throws a pair of passes in the Miami Dolphins' win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Tags: NFL
From: www.bbc.co.uk

Kremlin’s World War III Propaganda Meltdown Shows Putin Is Cornered

26.09.2020 0:25


MOSCOW—Russia these days may look frightening to Americans, who hear often of election meddling and poisoning among other ill deeds. But consider for a moment the view from the other side of the divide, or at least the view presented to Russians by their television sets.The looming potential for World War III has become a regular topic on Russian state propaganda shows. Night after night, Vladimir Soloviev, who is often described as the Kremlin’s top propagandist, condemns the West’s “economically suffocating” strategy of imposing sanctions and suggest war is the logical outcome.The conclusion reached by Soloviev and his like-minded panel of guests is that the country’s politicians and titans of business should break all ties with the West, including communicating with their relatives. A long history of grievances spills out; Soloviev says the conflict between Russia and the West started in the 13th century: “They believe we are barbarians and they are civilized, so they have a right to point out to us how we should live and behave.”Trump Followed Russian Media’s Lead on SCOTUS PredictionThe show, which is broadcast nightly on state channel 1, heats up quickly. This week, Sergei Kurginyan, a pro-Kremlin political expert close to the secret services, accused the West of tearing Russia apart by creating a fifth column in the Far East, where thousands of Russians have been marching in anti-Putin rallies for two months. Putin’s nemesis Alexei Navalny was out East bolstering the opposition rallies when he was poisoned with a deadly nerve agent.Kurginyan has been consistently criticizing the Russian elite for pursuing naïve dreams about becoming part of European society: “Our elites have grown together with Europe through family connections, children, grandchildren. But in the current situation they will have to tear these connections apart. That will be terribly painful but you will have to do that,” he said.A popular newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda announced in plain language on Friday that: “The world is under a threat of the Third World War over the Russian COVID-19 vaccine.” The paper claimed the European Union and the U.S. were furious about Russia selling millions of doses of its vaccines to Brazil and Africa.The Russian nationalist publication Tsargrad also carried an overheated headline on Friday, claiming an invented military victory: “NATO Exercises Failed: Russian Ships Scared Americans and Ukrainians Away.”What has caused this latest storm of anti-Western propaganda?This week, the U.S. imposed new commercial restrictions on Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the oligarch known as “Putin’s chef.” The companies operated by Prigozhin, one of Putin’s most trusted lieutenants, are linked to the Wagner mercenary army and troll farms responsible for U.S. election interference. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also suggested this week that the order to poison Navalny came from senior Russian officials, the pressure grows on Putin to explain the poisoning or face yet more sanctions. Both the European Union and Britain are also preparing sanctions against Putin’s partner in Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, after a violent crackdown on the opposition and a fraudulent election. The age-old theme of a “conflict of civilizations” between East and West has been resurfacing on state media outlets. This undercurrent is at the core of the West’s issues with Russia, the propaganda outlets insist.If the West continues to punish Vladimir Putin’s allies with economic sanctions and block Russian movement around the world, they say, Moscow will come up with a new strategy building on alliances with other Western antagonists. “We have not sent forces to Ukraine, to Kyiv only for the sake of our relations with Europe. By the new strategy we would deploy the forces and surely our allies in Turkey and China would respect us for such a strong decision,” prominent Kremlin-aligned political analyst Sergey Markov tells The Daily Beast.Russian Media Is Rooting for Civil War in America: ‘The Worse, the Better’The propaganda outlets portray Putin and his allies withdrawing from the world, as if in a besieged castle, to isolate and defend themselves.Russia’s ability to respond in kind with sanctions is limited. A few weeks ago, the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov imposed sanctions against Pompeo after the U.S. State Department sanctioned members of his family. But this was widely seen as little more than a joke since Pompeo has no property or bank accounts in Chechnya. Still, the story made the Russian-speaking news. Olga Skobeyeva, a host of one of the more popular political talk shows, 60 Minutes, praised Kadyrov’s “cool” sanctions.Germany and France are demanding that the Kremlin investigate last month’s poisoning of Navalny with the Soviet-era chemical weapon Novichok. But the last two decades of Russian history show how strongly Putin resists any demand imposed by the West. Instead, they are ramping up the propaganda. “They say, ‘Oh, you once again want to tear us apart, here is our answer to you.’ And Putin comes out with a speech about the most powerful hypersonic weapon,” a commentator on independent Rain TV, Pavel Lobkov, told The Daily Beast.Last weekend, on Russia’s Day of the Gunsmith—an obscure holiday which is usually ignored—Putin went on television to discuss Russia’s latest nuclear weapons. They can reach anywhere in the world, he said. The Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles can wipe out a territory the size of Texas or France, viewers were told. Putin blamed the U.S. for the withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic-Missile treaty back in 2002. “We had to create these weapons in response to the U.S. deploying a strategic missile defense system, which in the future would be able to actually neutralize, nullify our entire nuclear potential,” Putin said.On Friday, Putin asked the White House for a truce on the “information war,” which is laughable since Western intelligence agencies say the Kremlin has already been targeting the 2020 presidential election. Nonetheless, Markov explains that Moscow is expecting incoming rhetorical fire during the height of the American election season: “Russian intelligence has informed Vladimir Putin earlier this year of rough attacks on him personally coming up,” he said. “That might happen during the U.S. elections, the conflict might enter a hot phase, so it is time to buy canned food.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

China’s State Media: We Should Carve Up Facebook Just Like TikTok

26.09.2020 0:04


HONG KONG—As Trump and China hawks lock horns with Beijing on TikTok, trade, and Huawei, the Chinese Communist Party and its leader Xi Jinping are threatening to target U.S. companies with similar nationalistic bans—and signalling to Chinese firms at home that they expect total loyalty.Private Chinese companies that have managed to establish a foothold on U.S. shores increasingly rely on the CCP’s backing, particularly when the Oval Office decides to place them within its crosshairs. Some do this by choice, others because they have no other option when they head overseas. In any case, in Xi’s view, they are one clan, one tribe, and they need to stick together, with the party at their core.Speaking to entrepreneurs in 2018, Xi indicated that the public and private sectors in China are, in his view, one and the same. He said, “The public economy and non-public economy ought to be complementary, not opposing or offsetting. This is written in the constitution, in party articles. It cannot change.” To top it off, Xi told the execs who sat before him (and others who would read the transcript later) that “we’re all a family.”The caveat is that the patriarch of this family demands subservience and respect, and his word-bearers are eager to remind everyone else of their station.Trump’s TikTok and WeChat Ban Could Backfire Inside ChinaLast week, Ye Qing, the vice chairperson of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce—a nominally non-governmental chamber of commerce that in reality is linked to the CCP’s United Front Work Department, which is charged with exerting influence in elite and wealthy circles at home and abroad—gave a speech to map out how CCP committees must be embedded within private companies and become part of decision-making processes.If private enterprises benefit so much from “the system,” Ye opined, then it is only expected that these entities safeguard the system and the party that shapes it.This idea goes beyond speeches given at exclusive gatherings. Business leaders in China are expected to participate in pomp and practice. Just last year, the C-suite executives of 45 top Chinese tech companies were corralled by the country’s internet watchdog to visit sites that are politically and historically significant for the CCP, as part of a “study tour” and “celebration” of Mao Zedong’s deeds. A local newspaper reported that the tech execs “relived the red memory” to “inherit the revolutionary spirit.”It is no secret that professional success in China is at times dependent on joining the Chinese Communist Party, and many people who fill its ranks do not subscribe to the party’s ideological or nationalistic bent. But having one’s name on the party’s rosters muddles the relationship between state and private enterprise in a market socialist economy, a condition that party leadership has exploited more than ever in recent years as Chinese companies attempt to become globally recognized names.The latest example is TikTok, a video app that was developed by ByteDance, a Beijing-based tech conglomerate that was already the subject of an investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, before Trump issued an executive order in early August to ban transactions related to the app, suggesting that it posed a “national emergency with respect to the information and communications technology and service supply chain.”On Sunday, the nationalistic state media outlet Global Times said the Chinese government would likely approve what it called a “reasonable” deal for TikTok. But that changed the following day, when it said the arrangement that involves TikTok, Oracle, and Walmart was “unfair” and that Washington was applying “hooligan logic” to wrest control of a Chinese-owned business that has found success in the U.S.Hu Xijin, the chief editor of Global Times, argued that if TikTok needed a “trusted” partner from the U.S. to operate in the country, then the same should apply to American businesses that want to make money in China. He wrote in a tweet on Monday, “The US restructuring of TikTok’s stake and actual control could be used as a model and promoted globally. Overseas operation of companies such as Google, Facebook shall all undergo such restructure and be under actual control of local companies for security concerns.”Hu’s outlet also said that “Chinese companies cannot be turned into lambs that are slaughtered by America, one by one.”On Wednesday, another state media outlet, China Daily, took a slightly softer tone and wrote that what the Trump administration has done to TikTok was “dirty,” “underhanded,” “extortion,” and “almost the same as a gangster forcing an unreasonable and unfair business deal on a legitimate company.” At the moment, Beijing’s earlier optimism has been completely replaced by a sense of indignity, and the party’s news workers, as they are called, are pouring ink and pixels into expressing just that.This is not the first time the Chinese government has voiced its displeasure about how Chinese companies are treated by Trump. After the U.S. applied sanctions on Huawei, state media has regularly published articles to voice unabashed support for the company, echoing foreign ministry spokespersons’ criticisms of the “U.S. suppression” inflicted upon the telecommunications hardware provider. While the Chinese government and Huawei both vehemently deny any links with each other, the two are consistently mentioned in the same breath.In response to U.S. sanctions on Huawei, China’s commerce ministry is drafting a list of American companies that may be the targets of sanctions, sales and investment restrictions, or other forms of punishment. The ministry said the blacklist is “strictly limited to a very small number of illegal foreign entities.” For now, Chinese officials have not decided whether they will act before the November presidential election in the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported.After this all shakes out, the CCP will have even deeper involvement in China’s private industries, particularly those that need to lean on Beijing’s power to negotiate business environments abroad. And in the U.S., concerns about national security or data privacy will likely remain unaddressed. Hastily cobbled together, any new structure for TikTok’s global operations is a foil for the erratic, self-contradicting patterns of decisions that come out of the Oval Office, where Trump attempts to look tough on China, but in so doing swings a gilded wrecking ball through the United States’ governmental processes, like sober examinations of data security and information influence concerns.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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