Trump & Russian mafia .. Japan/China & Canada/United States

Dec 11th, 2018 | By | Category: In Brief

Ordinarily as the year ends we post a few lists of our own favourite or at least most-visited articles from the time on its way out. And we will be doing this again before December 31, 2018 (New Year’s Eve), at least once – and possibly twice. (Or more? Who can really say anything in these troubled times, etc?)

Meanwhile, a request to all editors for late 2018 general news items grabbing their attention has resulted in the following two short notes on The Way We Were (some of us at any rate) during the last few weeks of one of the most remarkable years in the more or less recent past :

1. Trump & Russian mafia

This past Sunday evening one Kent B – a “Martial Arts Teacher, Harley Nut 91Q Army Vet” and supporter of  Veterans Against Trump – tweeted : “ I was originally from NY. I’ve known this about tRump for decades. It was always common knowledge that he had Russian mob ties but never got caught. Now he is getting caught, finally justice seem to being served soon.”

Mr. B was pointing to a recent article from Ezra Klein’s impressive VOX website : “Trump’s ties to the Russian mafia go back 3 decades … Journalist Craig Unger talks Russia, Trump, and ‘one of the greatest intelligence operations in history’” – by Sean Illing.

At Helsinki, July 2018.

Mr. Unger claims that the “Russian mafia”Â  – which “is essentially a state actor … part of the KGB … part of the Russian government” – has “been using Trump-branded real estate to launder money for over three decades.” And according to Sean Illing, “the case” Unger “makes for how much potential leverage the Russians had over Trump is pretty damning.”

It is probably worth noting that Craig Unger is the author of the controversial “2004 book, House of Bush, House of Saud, that was also featured in Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11.” And Mr.Unger’s new 2018 book that VOX and Sean Illing are reporting on – House of Trump, House of Putin – finally left Mr. Illing “wondering if any of it really matters. As you said, most of this stuff is hiding in plain sight, and although the special counsel investigation is underway, there’s a subset of the country for whom no amount of evidence is enough to persuade them that something wrong has occurred.”

At the same time, the martial arts teacher and motorcycle enthusiast Kent B, from Twitter as above, may continue to have some kind of point as well.

Melania Trump and Justin Trudeau in Toronto, September 2017.

At the same time again, the anti-Trump conservative military historian Max Boot’s latest piece in the Washington Post is urging that Mr. B is probably wrong about “ justice … being served soon.” The estimable Mr. Boot writes that after the latest words from the Mueller special counsel investigation  : “What we are left with is a president who defrauded the American people to win office – and who is now protected by the immunity that his office confers. He is protected, too, by his dwindling band of followers in Congress who argue that Manafort should be pardoned for his financial crimes (Rep. Matt Gaetz) and that Trump should not be prosecuted for merely breaking campaign finance laws (Sen. Rand Paul) …  All it takes is 34 votes in the Senate and Trump can serve out his term even as his administration is consumed by the biggest political scandal in American history. Our long national nightmare is just beginning.”

2. Japan/China & Canada/United States

All this about Russia and the current American president is just too depressing for the holiday season, when even many where we have our offices who are not Christians (or otherwise attached by personal history to Santa Claus and so forth, like so many if not all of us here) try to enjoy ourselves and spread good cheer among others.

World War 2 (1939—1945) map from New York Times showing Japanese expansion of its Asia Pacific empire, 1895—1940.

So … to end with thoughts from a land that must still have a lot in common with the North Pole where Santa Claus and his reindeer (and Mrs Claus and the Elves etc) spend their time preparing for the one night in the year when they ride through the sky with enough presents for every child in Marshall McLuhan’s global village  under 10 years old.

In fact, the story of Santa Claus is not all that unlike many of the stories President Trump tells about the world as he sees it, and how much it has improved under his remarkable leadership. And a tweet just yesterday around lunchtime by the estimable map enthusiast Simon Kuestenmacher raised some comparative statistics that suggest an only slightly less unrealistic world scenario we editors here have been amused by before, over drinks after work and all that.

More exactly, Mr. Kuestenmacher’s tweet showed a terrific map of Japan and China and their wider region –  back at height of Japan’s former empire, in the early days of what finally became World War II (1939—1945). As the map shows in its darkest shades, for a short while in the 1930s Japan actually took over parts of a then struggling China closest to it. Here, in our office board room over some preliminary seasonal cheer, we calculated that Japan has only 9.1% of China’s population today. And then someone noted that Canada has 11.2% of the US population today. And we unanimously agreed : Season’s Greetings to All, and to all a goodnight.

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