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US President Biden, Israel PM Netanyahu trade words over protests



Biden tells Israel to ‘walk away’ from judicial reforms, Netanyahu responds saying Israel rejected ‘pressure from abroad’.

United States President Joe Biden has told Israel it “cannot continue” pushing ahead with deeply controversial judicial reforms — now on hold — that have prompted months of unrest — comments that led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to say he does not make decisions based on pressure from abroad.

Biden’s comments on Tuesday came as Netanyahu was being accused by opponents of riding roughshod over Israeli democracy in an attempt to strengthen his own power, leading to paralysing protests and strikes across Israel.

“Like many strong supporters of Israel I’m very concerned. … They cannot continue down this road, and I’ve sort of made that clear,” Biden told reporters during a visit to the state of North Carolina.


“Hopefully the prime minister [Netanyahu] will act in a way that he will try to work out some genuine compromise, but that remains to be seen,” Biden said, adding he was not considering inviting the Israeli leader to the White House, at least “not in the near term”.

Speaking later in Washington, DC, Biden called on Netanyahu’s administration to drop the controversial judiciary law.

“I hope they walk away from it,” he told reporters.

Netanyahu quickly issued a statement in response to Biden, the Reuters news agency reported.

“Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends,” he said.

Netanyahu said his administration was striving to make reforms “via broad consensus”.

“I have known President Biden for over 40 years, and I appreciate his longstanding commitment to Israel,” Netanyahu said.

He said the Israel-US alliance is unbreakable “and always overcomes the occasional disagreements between us”.

On Monday, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog called on Netanyahu and the ruling coalition to halt its judicial changes plan, “for the sake of the unity of the people of Israel, for the sake of responsibility”.

The appeal on Monday by the head of state, who normally does not get involved in politics, underlines the alarm that the proposals have caused and comes after a dramatic night of protests across Israel on Sunday following the sacking of the country’s defence minister.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities across Israel in a spontaneous outburst of anger after Netanyahu fired his defence minister for challenging his judicial overhaul plan.

Fired Defence Minister Yoav Gallant had been the first senior member of the ruling Likud party to speak out against the reforms, saying the deep divisions were threatening to weaken Israel’s military.


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Bitcoin’s Campaign Debut Portends A Seismic Shift In U.S. Politics – Forbes



During his presidential announcement on Twitter, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis solidified crypto’s status as a mainstream political issue: “The current regime clearly has it out for bitcoin,” said DeSantis. “And if it continues for another four years, they’ll probably end up killing it.”

With that, Satoshi’s vision of a decentralized peer-to-peer currency leapt from the white paper onto the debate stage. The moment marked not just crypto’s campaign debut but a potential sea change in American politics.

To understand the implications of this sea change, it is important to understand why crypto became politicized in the first place—and why it is likely to play an even larger role in politics going forward.


Crypto Enters The Culture War

That crypto is becoming a partisan issue should come as no surprise: Crypto is money. Money is power. And power is politics.

Indeed, the real surprise is not that crypto has become political but that it took it so long to happen.

In bitcoin, Satoshi envisioned a currency that would directly challenge the power of governments and central banks. So naturally, many politicians who favor government action and centralized authority are opposed to it.

That’s why many—but importantly, not all—Democrats have taken positions against crypto in the last few months. Leading the charge is the Biden administration.

Earlier this month, the President levied an attack against “wealthy crypto investors” whom he accused of exploiting tax loopholes supported by “MAGA Republicans.” Meanwhile, his top cop at the Securities and Exchange Commission—Chair Gary Gensler—has threatened leading crypto exchanges and protocols with multiple lawsuits. To show their support for Gensler, Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee issued a memo urging their fellow party members to get behind his most hardline positions. As the memo stated, “the SEC has made clear that nearly all crypto assets are securities. End of story.”

Of course, that’s not the end of the story. Among Democrats, there are significant holdouts who are resisting the party line. This includes Representative Ritchie Torres, the youngest Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee.

Pro-Crypto Democrats

In an interview with Bankless, Torres—who is pro-bitcoin and among the most progressive members of the Democratic Caucus—expressed his belief that crypto can empower workers and creators to liberate themselves from what he sees as the abuses of the legacy financial system.

Torres also pushed back against the idea that Democrats are uniformly against crypto: “My perception is that the divide on crypto is not so much partisan or ideological as it is generational. You will find that younger Democrats like myself and Wiley Nickel, who sits on Financial Services, are much more open to the innovative possibilities of crypto and blockchain.”

It’s also worth noting that Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. strongly supports bitcoin. Kennedy—who has garnered the support of 20 percent of Democratic voters—delivered the keynote address at The Bitcoin Conference in Nashville. There, he described holding bitcoin as an inviolable right and “an exercise in democracy.”

Kennedy has also been a fierce opponent of central bank digital currencies (or CBDCs). In fact, his position on CBDCs is almost indistinguishable from that of Governor DeSantis. Both men have warned that CBDCs pose a considerable threat to privacy and personal freedom. And both men have promised to prevent the Federal Reserve or any other government entity from developing a CBDC as president.

Although members of different parties, Kennedy and DeSantis have a virtual mind-meld when it comes to crypto-related issues. This mind-meld points to an important development in American politics.

The Rise Of Crypto Populism

Take stock of all the above: What issue can bring together a gay Congressman from the Bronx, an environmentalist Democrat from New England, and an anti-woke Republican Governor from Florida?

Bitcoin, apparently.

This uncanny coalition of ideological opposites is evidence that crypto does not split evenly along party lines. Nor is the divide simply generational. Consider that two of the biggest bitcoin boosters in Congress—Representative Tom Emmer and Senator Cynthia Lummis—are 62 and 68 respectively.

So what is going on here? What separates crypto critics from supporters? And what can this tell us about the country’s future?

While many have dismissed bitcoin as an amusing oddity in the current election cycle, it is likely much more than that. As candidates stake their positions on various crypto issues, we could be witnessing the formation of a new fault line in American politics.

The new partisan divide may no longer be Right vs. Left but establishment vs. anti-establishment. Centralization vs. decentralization. State vs. crypto.

After all, it is a pro-democratic impulse—coupled with an inherent distrust of big business and big government—that unites the likes of Torres, Kennedy, and DeSantis on bitcoin, despite their considerable differences on other issues. It’s worth asking then: what might strengthen the bonds of this unlikely fellowship in the future?

It’s not hard to imagine. Simply suppose current societal trends continue. Trust in business and government institutions continues to wane, as does the strength of the dollar.

This would only deepen the divide between those who are for crypto and those who are against it. It would further scramble party lines as politicians who were formerly opposed cohere around a populist agenda. And it would elevate decentralization as a defining political issue of our time.

If the ideological alliance between Torres, Kennedy, and DeSantis tells us anything, it’s that bitcoin makes strange bedfellows. And it’s about to make even more.

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Mechanical podium, playfully dubbed 'explodium,' aims to even B.C.'s political field – Times Colonist



VICTORIA — It was a sizable British Columbia political issue that called for a one-size-fits-all solution, says Premier David Eby, who at six-foot-seven is the province’s tallest leader.

The tall and the short needed evening out as matters of perception and fairness, he said.

Eby towers over most people at news conferences but is juxtaposed with Selina Robinson, minister of post-secondary education and future skills, who at four-foot-11 often needs to stand on boxes to reach the microphone.


The solution: a mechanical podium, which debuted shortly after Eby took office late last year. It can be moved up or down with the flick of a switch to suit the size of the person delivering remarks at a political event.

“You might describe me as an unusually tall person, or disturbingly tall person to some people,” Eby told reporters last week. “My colleague Selina Robinson is a much tinier person and we have a whole range of people in between, so the podium moves up and down to accommodate everybody’s ability to speak.” 

The premier said people have expressed surprise — and thanks — as the podium lifts or lowers to accommodate their height.

One such person was Tracy Redies, chief executive officer at Vancouver’s Science World, who joined Eby for a news conference last month where the province announced $20 million to repair the iconic domed building’s leaky roof. 

“This pulpit’s amazing,” she said. “The science, the technology.”

Eby said the podium, which has gained the nickname “explodium” at the legislature, is a functional success.

“It’s an important innovation in B.C. where we are never short of innovations or remarkable ways to solve problems,” he said with a chuckle. “When we go to events around the community, it does draw attention from speakers who aren’t used to it, especially when it moves unexpectedly. I think everybody enjoys it. It’s fun and it works.”

But, some concerns about the podium have been raised by the Opposition BC United and a communications expert who suggests the structure reinforces old-school political traditions.

BC United finance critic Peter Milobar said the Opposition has questions about the cost of the podium, but the government hasn’t provided answers.

“We all understand the premier is tall, but the fact we need these extra-wide, telescopic-type podiums just seems to be a potentially expensive thing for the taxpayer,” he said.

Milobar said it appears the podium is more of a political prop used to enhance Eby’s image.

“It’s fair to say I’m not an average-sized person, but I’m not too worried about which podium I’m standing behind to make important political announcements,” he said.

While Eby’s podium is not the biggest news story at the legislature, it symbolizes the stereotyped visual culture of politics, said David Black, a political communications expert at Victoria’s Royal Roads University.

“I think the podium, where you want to adjust for a tall person like David Eby or a shorter person like Selina Robinson, is all about just creating this necessary visual conformity so that no one is stepping on the message,” he said.

B.C.’s development of a podium that fits all sizes is a metaphor for a political culture that is resistant to change, Black said.

“When you break the visual code or political style or tamper with conservative visual culture when it comes to politics, you step on the message,” he said. “It becomes, fairly or not, read as a gaffe, sometimes a career-ending gaffe.”

Former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day was widely criticized more than two decades ago for arriving at a B.C. lakeside news conference riding a Jet Ski, Black said.

Former U.S. president Barack Obama faced fierce criticism for wearing a tan-coloured suit, he said.

“He wore a tan-coloured suit and it was the end of American democracy,” Black said.

But federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s backyard neighbourhood video statements are signs of a politician looking to break visual codes, as was former Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s “everyman” appearance, said Black.

“My question is, in some sense, do we need to rethink the language of politics, the visual style of politics, because is it exhausted?” he said. “Is it obsolete? Has it exhausted its reassuring quality?”

Robinson said she’s pleased with the fairness of the podium, especially after years of standing on crates to raise her profile.

“Having a podium that actually fits me is great, and one that fits the premier is great,” she said.

“This is an accessibility piece of furniture and I think it works the way it’s supposed to. It’s recognizing we all come in different shapes and sizes and having furniture that fits us regardless of how tall or small we are is a good thing.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2023.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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Trump, DeSantis battle for Republican nomination turns race into political trench warfare – The Globe and Mail



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Then-U.S. President Donald Trump introduces Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during a homecoming campaign rally at the BB&T Center on November 26, 2019, in Sunrise, Fla.Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It’s bombs away in the American presidential race.

There was no pause for mobilization, no early ceasefire, no “phony war,” in the struggle for the Republican campaign for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination. In only a few days’ time, the battle between former president Donald Trump and Governor Ron DeSantis has developed into total warfare.

For months, the two shadow-boxed with each other – Mr. Trump lobbing talking-point grenades into the DeSantis camp; the Florida chief executive ignoring them, as if the attacks lacked the potential to detonate.


That phase is over now, with – if you permit the expression – a bang.

The pins have been pulled, the two sides are engaged in explosive exchanges, and the political landscape of the Republican Party – as recently as two decades ago resembling nothing so much as the manicured green of the 13th hole at the Augusta National Golf Club, home of the fabled Masters Tournament – has been transformed into a battlefield.

It is well to recall that the Iowa caucuses, the first tests of the campaign, are seven months away.

And yet the campaign rapidly has assumed the character of trench warfare. Mr. Trump’s high command is accusing the DeSantis camp of political plagiarism, stealing the main themes of the 45th president. The DeSantis campaign is arguing that Mr. Trump’s time has passed and that, in any case, he failed to pass into law the principal elements of the new Republican agenda.

And like the fixed battle positions of the First World War, the two sides are settling into a situation where they may be engaged in an endless set of explosive exchanges. In terms of ideology, it resembles a race to the right. In terms of manners, it may be a race to the bottom.

Mr. DeSantis accused Mr. Trump – who, in three presidential campaigns and four years in the White House, has cultivated the Republican right – of abandoning his onetime political profile. “It seems like he’s running to the left, and I have always been somebody that’s just been moored in conservative principles,” he said.

A Trump spokesman, Steven Cheung, referred to Mr. DeSantis’s botched Twitter Space campaign debut, saying, “He can’t run away from his disastrous, embarrassing, and low-energy campaign announcement. Rookie mistakes and unforced errors – that’s who he is.”

And so it went in the first days of this new phase in the campaign.

Never in contemporary American politics has a nomination race devolved into so much bitterness so quickly.

Republican Senator Bob Dole of Kansas barked at Vice-President George H.W. Bush, demanding, “Stop lying about my record,” but that outburst occurred after the 1988 New Hampshire primary, not months before it.

Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a navy veteran of the Vietnam War, once warned that the Democrats should not nominate Bill Clinton in 1992 because the Arkansas governor had manoeuvred to avoid the draft in those years; Mr. Kerrey said the Republicans would “open him up like a soft peanut” – a tough riposte, but it didn’t occur until the last week of February, not, like the Trump-DeSantis fray, in May the year before voters get into the act.

“You can thank social media for this atmosphere,” said David Carney, a veteran Republican strategist not affiliated with either campaign and with deep roots in New Hampshire, site of the first presidential primary. “It’s easy to do, it gets coverage and it fast-forwards a back-and-forth that in other times would take a few weeks to conduct. Candidates today think they will be rewarded for this, but undecided voters are not watching Twitter.”

All this raises two vital questions: Can these two keep up the passion and decibel level of their confrontation for several more months? And will the hostilities between them create an opening for another contender, or maybe two?

If, for example, the bombardment between the two candidates leaves one of them mortally wounded, nature (and the nature of American presidential politics) abhors a vacuum. One of the other candidates – perhaps one of the South Carolinians, former governor Nikki Haley or Senator Tim Scott, or perhaps one of the sitting governors who has not declared a candidacy, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire or Glenn Youngkin of Virginia – might emerge.

And a contest that is marked by bombast and explosions might welcome the entry of former governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, famous for his debilitating attack on Senator Marco Rubio eight years ago, when he accused the Florida lawmaker of being the practitioner of a “memorized 25-second speech” that was “exactly what his advisers gave him.”

Mr. Sununu has a touch of the caustic in him, as he once said of Mr. Trump, “I don’t think he’s so crazy that you could put him in a mental institution. But I think if he were in one, he ain’t getting out.” No one wonders whom former governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas was speaking of when he said the GOP needs “somebody that brings out the best of our country and doesn’t appeal to our worst instincts.”

And in a contest where the charges of plagiarism are being tossed around – charges that forced Joe Biden out of his 1988 presidential race before the first contests of the political season – Mr. Youngkin has the moral high ground. It was his 2021 gubernatorial campaign that pioneered the notion of “parental rights” in public schools that now is part of every candidate’s portfolio.

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