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Post"Mission Accomplished" in Syria Strike: Trump (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 04/15/18 5:16 am)
Oh, my goodness. Good Old Trump has tweeted: "Mission accomplished." Does this mean another 15+ years of war in Syria?
JE comments: Bush II's "Mission Accomplished" boast for Iraq brought him 5 years of grief. Is Trump's Dumbest Tweet Ever the result of his hubris or complete tone-deafness? My answer would be "yes."
Trump's "Mission Accomplished" and Financial Shenanigans; from Ric Mauricio
(John Eipper, USA
04/15/18 2:13 PM)
Ric Mauricio writes:
To paraphrase Mark Twain, "The reports of Trump's successes are greatly exaggerated."
In an earlier WAIS posting, I posted his investment underperformance relative to the passive S&P 500 and conservatively leveraged commercial real estate.
Of course, this underperformance is really not surprising, given his "successes."
The Trump Taj Mahal, which opened in 1990, went through 4 bankruptcies, 1991, 2004, 2009, and 2014 before being sold to Carl Icahn, closing in 2016. During the time that Trump owned it, the casino paid a $10 million fine for willful violations of the US Bank Secrecy Act (which targets money laundering) and admitted doing it on purpose. When an investment analyst issued a "sell" on the Taj Mahal stock, Trump was so angry that he had the analyst fired and destroyed his career.
The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Baku, Azerbaijan, was abandoned in 2016 and remains empty. Side note: The project developers Elton and Anar Mammadov are known as the "Corleones of the Caspian." Duffel bags of cash were used to pay contractors. Hmmm. Money laundering, anyone?
The Trump SOHO in New York was foreclosed upon in 2014 and was renamed the Dominick Hotel by CIM Group, a California real estate investor, in December 2017. Trump's partners were Feliz Sater, a Russian who had pled guilty of stock manipulation, and Tamir Sapir, a Russian mobster. Financing for that hotel came from an Icelandic bank with ties to Putin.
The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto, Canada was never owned by Trump but managed by the Trump Organization until June 2017 and the hotel renamed Adelaide Hotel Toronto. Side note: The developer, Alex Shnaider, sold a business to a Russian-controlled bank where Vladimir Putin was chairman of the board. He arranged for the project to be financed by another foreign bank, accused of acting as a conduit for Russian money laundering. Trump's first partner was Leib Waldman, who fled the US after pleading guilty to bankruptcy fraud and embezzlement.
The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, British Columbia is not owned by Trump but managed by the Trump Organization. The FBI is investigating Ivanka Trump, who oversaw the hotel's interior design. Joo Kim Tiah, the hotel developer and son of tycoon Tony Tiah Thee Kian, is also under investigation. Kian pleaded guilty for Malaysian stock manipulation and barred from corporate boardrooms for five years.
The Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower opened in 2011 in Panama City. On March 5, 2018, the majority owner obtained a court order and physically removed Trump Organization personnel from the building. The project's lead broker, Alexandre Nogueira, admitted to money laundering and was arrested for fraud and forgery in other projects. He has fled the country, probably staying at the Trump Tower. All-cash deals for condos, a red flag for money laundering, were commonplace at Trump Panama. Convicted drug-money launderer Colombian David Guzman bought 10 condos. Russian money launderers Andrey Bogdanov and Ivan Kazanikov bought a dozen.
And reports of Trump's failures are greatly exalted. Yes, he is so smart, outsmarting the IRS with a $19 million loss.
As an aside, Mao's corpse in the mausoleum is a waxen figure. The story is that they tried to preserve his body for posterity, but the body continued to decompose, and finally, since they had already created the wax figure, they decided to utilize that instead. No one knows what happened to the real body. When I was in Beijing, my wife asked me if I was going to buy a souvenir with Mao's visage. Knowing his history, I refused to do so. The only thing I have with his visage is a picture of that huge picture of him at the entrance to Tiananmen Square and the few bits of paper currency.
JE comments: My mind is thoroughly boggled, Ric. One thing has emerged from this weekend's missiles and tweets: Trump and Putin are no longer BFFs. Although wouldn't a healthy spike in oil prices be just what Vladimir Vladimirovich needs?
Fooling Some of the People, All of the People...
(John Heelan, UK
04/17/18 5:04 AM)
Congratulations to Ric Mauricio for his superb analysis (15 April) of "SuperTrump."
It seems to me that the President's boasts are acquiring the same reliability as street scene facades on Universal Studios film sets. They look good but have no depth and could be blown away by a sudden squall.
Perhaps Trump should remember the dictum on fooling people attributed to Lincoln but more likely first elucidated by the Frenchman Jacques Abbadie in 1684: "Ont pû tromper quelques hommes, ou les tromper tous dans certains lieux & en certains tems, mais non pas tous les hommes, dans tous les lieux & dans tous les siècles." "One can fool some men, or fool all men in some places and times, but one cannot fool all men in all places and ages.")
JE comments: Proof of the polarized times we live in: Trump has fooled some of the people all of the time, and the rest of the people none of the time.
- Andrei Bogdanov (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 04/19/18 5:06 AM)
I have only one very unimportant question to the impressive post by Ric Mauricio of 15 April:
Is Andrei Bogdanov, whom Ric mentions as a known money launderer, this same Bogdanov?
Thank you, Ric.
JE comments: Ric? The Bogdanov linked above wears several hats, including the Chairman of the Communist Party of Social Justice and Grand Master of the Russian Freemasons.
Freemasonry was always one of Professor Hilton's topics of interest. In the "old days," the Masons were implicated in conspiracy theories of every stripe. There was even a significant American political movement in the 1820s, the Anti-Masonic Party.
- Syria Strike Did Not Go Far Enough (Istvan Simon, USA 04/16/18 3:43 AM)
I am not surprised by Eugenio Battaglia's take on the US joint intervention with France and the UK to destroy Assad's chemical weapons laboratories and storage facilities.
I am a huge opponent of President Trump, as anyone that reads these pages knows. But I support partially his strikes on Assad. My regret is that the President's rhetoric was sharply at odds with the military strikes that were actually ordered.
If I were the president, I would have ordered not only the destruction of these chemical weapons facilities, but I would have destroyed every single airfield of Assad, and his entire air force. The advantages of that approach would have been that Assad's capabilities to murder his own people would have been severely degraded with or without chemical weapons. I would have also destroyed Assad's presidential palace, much like President Reagan, in my opinion correctly, targeted Colonel Gaddafi in Libya after the outrageous terrorist attacks on a civilian airliner over Lockerbie.
On the negative side, the president says that our strikes are for humanitarian reasons. Indeed the attack on children and unarmed civilians with chemical agents is a war crime, and cannot be tolerated. But neither can the destruction of Aleppo which we tolerated without a peep from the then presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Also, it is ridiculous to say that we are protecting civilians from Assad's murderous assaults, and at the same time we close our borders to war refugees. Under this disgraceful president, according to CNN, exactly 11 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the United States in 2018. More than 3,000 were admitted in 2017, and more than 15,000 in 2016. These policies of the Trump administration are disgraceful, inhuman, and at odds with our humanitarian values.
JE comments: Two questions: Is there any way the Allies could have targeted Assad's air force without attacking Russian planes, too? Wouldn't this be an unambiguous declaration of war? The US thought so on December 7th, 1941.
Second, when you bombard a chemical-weapons depot, aren't the health and environmental risks potentially devastating?
Strike on Syria; The Ghastly Olympics of Mass Murder: Mao, Stalin, Hitler
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
04/17/18 4:29 AM)
Lately we have been discussing the topic of who murdered more people. For sure Mao gets the gold medal, the silver to Stalin and the bronze to Hitler for mass murder in the long term.
However, the gold medal for mass murder on a single day, by far, goes to the US, on several occasions. The greatest was the bombing of Tokyo, 9 March 1943, with 100,000 to 200,000 civilians burnt alive. Other attacks on Germany and Japan were nearly as deadly--and of course there was Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (In Italy we had "only" a total of 74,000 civilians killed in the bombings.)
I will give the silver medal to the UK for Operation Gomorrah on Hamburg, 28 July 1943.
Maybe we could give the bronze to the USSR for sinking the hospital ships carrying refugees from East Prussia. The vessel Wilhelm Gustloff on 30 January 1945 had 10,000 civilians drowned (Italy had 5 hospital ships sunk by torpedoes, 3 by aerial bombing and another 5 damaged).
Oh, returning to the missile attack on Syria, if the delegates of the OPCW have just arrived to investigate if there was a chemical weapons attack, by what proof and authority did the US, UK and France bomb Syria?
JE comments: Has anyone heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff museum in Hampton, Virginia? I am not clear if there is a brick-and-mortar place to visit or not, but the website does feature plenty of swastikas:
Unsurprisingly, officials from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have not been allowed full access to the Syrian sites. Doesn't this mean the Russo-Syrian denials will be able to continue indefinitely?
Sinking of "Wilhelm Gustloff": Kraft Durch Freude
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
04/19/18 5:36 AM)
A small additional comment on the vessel Wilhelm Gustloff.
The ship was known in Italy, thanks to a long article in the N° 39 4/II/1942 of La Svastika, the German cultural magazine for Italians. It is not to be confused with the international Signal, which was mostly dedicated to the war. La Svastika introduced and described the "Kraft Durch Freude," modeled on the Italian "Dopolavoro" (Afterwork) program, with a photo of the Wilhelm Gustloff.
The fleet for people's vacations and trips consisted of 10 transoceanic vessels, of which the more luxurious were the Gustloff and the Robert Ley, the first named after the murdered Swiss Nazi leader and the second for the leader of the Kraft Durch Freude.
The sinking of the vessel was a big trophy for the USSR, even if the poor captain of the submarine was somewhat in trouble for a brothel incident. After all the great writer Ilya Ehrenburg said, "If you have not killed at least one German a day you have wasted the day."
JE comments: I knew that Hitler based his Autobahnen on Mussolini's Autostrade, but I was unaware of the Italian provenance of Strength through Joy. Car nuts like myself of course remember Kraft Durch Freude through its automotive legacy, the Volkswagen Beetle.
Tell us more about Dopolavoro, Eugenio.
- Sinking of "Wilhelm Gustloff": Kraft Durch Freude (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 04/19/18 5:36 AM)
- Andrei Bogdanov (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 04/19/18 5:06 AM)
- Fooling Some of the People, All of the People... (John Heelan, UK 04/17/18 5:04 AM)