Kremlin Names Trump Employee of the Month | The New Yorker


Capping an extraordinary year for the former television host, the Kremlin has named Donald J. Trump its Employee of the Month for December.

To mark the honor, Trump’s name will be added to a plaque that hangs in the hallway outside the Kremlin’s H.R. office.

According to Kremlin sources, Trump faced tough competition in the Employee of the Month voting, besting both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and ExxonMobil’s C.E.O., Rex Tillerson.

Source: Kremlin Names Trump Employee of the Month – The New Yorker

The Leader’s Weekly Schedule – Week of 1/2/17


MONDAY, JANUARY 2ND
On Monday, no votes are expected in the House.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 3RD
On Tuesday, the 114th Congress will meet at 11:00 a.m. for legislative business and adjourn sine die.

The House will convene for the start of the 115th Congress at 12:00 p.m. There will be a recorded quorum call at 12:00 p.m. following the Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance.

Election of the Speaker of the House

Swearing-in of Members and Delegates

H.Res. ___ – Adopting Rules for the One Hundred Fifteenth Congress (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy)

Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:

1) H.R. ___ – Ensuring VA Employee Accountability Act (Sponsored by Rep. Ryan Costello / Veterans Affairs Committee)

2) H.R. ___ – Biological Implant Tracking and Veteran Safety Act of 2017 (Sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe / Veterans Affairs Committee)

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4TH AND THE BALANCE OF THE WEEK
On Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.

On Thursday, the House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.

Reading of the Constitution of the United States by Members of the House of Representatives (The reading will begin at approximately 10:00 a.m.) (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte / Judiciary Committee)

On Friday, the House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.

At 1:00 p.m., the House will convene for the Joint Session of Congress to count the electoral ballots for the President and Vice-President of the United States. Members are advised that votes are possible during the Joint Session. Additional information regarding votes will be relayed as soon as possible.

Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:

1) H.J. Res ___ – Approving the location of a memorial to commemorate and honor the members of the Armed Forces who served on active duty in support of Operation Desert Storm or Operation Desert Shield (Sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe / Natural Resources Committee)

2) H.R. ___  – Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act (Sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

3) H.R.____ – Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2017 (Sponsored by Rep. John Duncan / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

4) H.R. ___– Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 2017 (Sponsored by Rep. William Clay / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

5) H.R. ___ – GAO Access and Oversight Act of 2017 (Sponsored by Rep. Buddy Carter / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

6) H.R. ____ – Thoroughly Investigating Retaliation Against Whistleblowers Act (Sponsored by Rep. Rod Blum / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

H.R. ___ – Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 (as to be introduced) (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa / Judiciary Committee)

H.R. ___ – Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2017 (as to be introduced) (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins / Judiciary Committee)

Possible Consideration of a Resolution Relating to UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (Israel) 

Source: The Leader’s Weekly Schedule – Week of 1/2/17

Japan and China are ramping up maritime tensions in the South China Sea and East China Sea | Quartz


China’s moves threaten to disrupt Japan’s economy and erode its sense of security. The South China Sea is not the only sea route, but it offers the cheapest, most direct way for energy supplies from the Persian Gulf (and other commodities from elsewhere) to reach northeast Asia.

As a nation with few natural resources, Japan has a clear interest in keeping sea routes open.

With that in mind, Japan is strengthening alliances, spending more on defense, and letting its position be known.

Source: Japan and China are ramping up maritime tensions in the South China Sea and East China Sea — Quartz

Unipolar no more: With Russia and China’s growing aggression, the world is becoming increasingly multipolar | Salon.com


If you want proof, you can start by checking out Moscow’s recent role in reshaping the civil war in Syria and frustrating Washington’s agenda to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

And that’s just one of a number of developments that highlight America’s diminishing power globally in both the military and the diplomatic arenas.

On a peaceable note, consider the way China has successfully launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a rival to the World Bank, not to speak of its implementation of a plan to link numerous countries in Asia and Europe to China in a vast multinational transportation and pipeline network it grandly calls the One Belt and One Road system, or the New Silk Road project.

In such developments, one can see ways in which the previously overwhelming economic power of the United States is gradually being challenged and curtailed internationally.

Source: Unipolar no more: With Russia and China’s growing aggression, the world is becoming increasingly multipolar – Salon.com

Britain’s biggest fear realised – an isolationist US president | The Guardian


It is true that the US constitution builds in checks and balances to prevent the president becoming an absolute monarch. There will be constraints on Trump implementing his election promises in Congress – although Congress remains Republican, it is a very different Republican party to Trum’s.

Paul Ryan and his colleagues will block many of his wilder policy proposals.

It is also true that many of the policies Trump set out in his hundred-day plan are unachievable.

The wall with Mexico is vastly too expensive to build.

He has watered down his threat to deport millions of undocumented migrants to deporting those who are criminals – a much smaller number, yet still hard to do.

Rewriting the North American Free Trade Agreement, and disrupting free trade more generally requires other states to cooperate.

Bombing Islamic State back to the stone age requires lawyers in the US system to authorize attacks they have been unwilling to back so far, and allies to support the US in doing so.

Most of these promises will evaporate like spring snow, and in the process disappoint the expectations of the angry white men who elected him.

This poses a particular problem for Britain, not just because our foreign policy has depended for over 70 years on the Transatlantic relationship, but because we have voted in a referendum to leave Europe and go it alone.

Source: Britain’s biggest fear realised – an isolationist US president | Jonathan Powell | Opinion | The Guardian

The case for free trade, open borders, and the new global economy | Quartz


Donald Trump’s election to the US presidency undermines a vision of the new global economy that was already in crisis.

Those of us who believe in a more connected world must make an urgent and compelling case for it.

In his campaign, Trump vowed to restrict the movement of people and goods into the United States, discarding trade agreements, raising tariffs, curtailing immigration, and constructing walls around the nation’s perimeter.

His vision for a protectionist and nativist America is in line with the United Kingdom’s vote to abandon open borders with Europe and an anti-immigrant backlash throughout much of the world. There’s more of this to come, as national elections in Europe next year will surely bring leaders into office who have built their careers by demonizing free trade and pluralistic society.

Source: The case for free trade, open borders, and the new global economy — Quartz

Jean-Paul Satre and Albert Camus’s existential nihilism can help explain why 2016 felt like the worst ever | Quartz


To understand why this year felt like such a never-ending dirge, we should look to the past and reacquaint ourselves with existential philosophers’ discussion of nihilism and the concept of radical freedom.For Jean-Paul Sartre, the dawn of the 20th century brought with it a deep sense of philosophical angst.

Religion’s failure to solve the world’s problems, the disorienting onslaught of worldwide wars, and huge leaps in science and technology fueled a deeply individualistic philosophy that we now broadly refer to as existentialism. In particular, Sartre and authors such as Albert Camus explored the more refined (and more macabrely apathetic) concept of existential nihilism, which posits that life has no intrinsic meaning or value—or, as Sartre put it, “existence precedes essence.”

Source: Jean-Paul Satre and Albert Camus’s existential nihilism can help explain why 2016 felt like the worst ever — Quartz

What Was the Worst Year in History? | The Atlantic


The Sack of Antwerp in 1576 not only destroyed thousands of lives and a great city, but created economic chaos in Europe. The same year saw the rise of the Holy League in France. Self-righteousness, plots, and spies were everywhere.

Source: What Was the Worst Year in History? – The Atlantic