By Huw Jones LONDON (Reuters) - The City of London's policy chief said on Wednesday that Britain's attempt to get on the front foot in global finance after Brexit needs sustained impetus from the government. Britain's financial sector lost most of its access to the European Union, which had been its single biggest export customer, after it completed its departure from the bloc a year ago. While the sector has adapted smoothly to Brexit, the full implications were still working their way through, said Catherine McGuinness, whose five-year term as policy chief for the "Square Mile" financial dis...
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'Paper tiger' Trump itching to announce 2024 run -- but allies fear 'his power is greatly diminished'
Donald Trump intends to run for president again, but allies expect him to face a bevy of Republican challengers -- and advisers are hoping he doesn't throw his MAGA hat in the ring.
The former president has been quizzing advisers and visitors at Mar-A-Lago about his potential GOP challengers for 2024, and advisers have repeatedly pressed him not to announce his campaign before November's midterm election, which Republican strategists fear would rally Democratic voters and boost President Joe Biden's approval rating, reported the Washington Post.
“I think there is a very real and growing sense — albeit in hushed tones, private conversations, and rarely publicly but more publicly now than ever before — of people saying maybe not that he’s a paper tiger, but that his power is greatly diminished,” said one person close to Trump. “Privately, no one around Trump — and when I say no one, I mean no one, other than the handful of people who wouldn’t have any professional existence without him — wants him to run again.”
Trump, however, sees himself as the leader of the Republican Party and the "king of endorsements," despite a number of his preferred candidates losing, and cites unspecified polls to brag he's ahead of any potential rivals.
“I looked at the polls, and I’m ahead by 60 or 70 points,” the former president recently told the Post, boasting that he had "made" many of them.
The former president is fixated on former vice president Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, but Republican strategists believe he will face a crowded GOP field -- although he'll start out as the favorite.
“It isn’t going to be a clear field for him," said one GOP strategist who recently met with Trump. "There’s a lot of people who want to go against him. If he runs, Pompeo, Pence and Chris Christie all will consider running against him. Who knows what DeSantis will do? These guys are out there working, they are hitting every donor they can find, they want to run.”
Ten days after an 18-year-old male, clad in body armor and wielding a semi-automatic weapon, walked into a grocery store in Buffalo and killed 11 people, targeting ten Black patrons, another 18-year-old male, wielding a fully loaded weapon walked into an elementary school in Uvalde Texas and killed 22 people, 19 of them children under the age of 10.
The echoes of the Charleston massacre in 2015 and the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012 are deafening. Yet it just keeps happening.
There was a time when we might have thought that the mass shooting of an elementary school would have been the final straw. Targeting tiny children in their classrooms, randomly gunning them down in front of their friends who had to witness the carnage, the horror endured by the families of the victims would seem to be the sort of thing that would shock the collective conscience. And back in 2012, it did. But just for a little while. There was bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill, law enforcement and right-wing media were in accord, and even the NRA's board understood that this had crossed a line. A teenage boy had obtained a semi-automatic rifle, killed his mother, and gunned down 20 first-graders and six teachers in an elementary school. Something had to be done.
Then Wayne LaPierre, the undisputed leader of the gun rights movement and then the head of the National Rifle Association (NRA), put his foot down. He appeared at a press conference in Washington at which everyone expected him to offer a compromise on the NRA's rigid refusal to contemplate any gun reform measures at all. But he didn't. Instead, he gave a barn burner of a speech in which rather than offering some concessions, he doubled down. He famously proclaimed:
The only way — the only way — to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. What if, when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook elementary school last Friday, he'd been confronted by qualified armed security?
All reforms of the gun laws stalled from that point forward. The right, completely in the clutches of the gun lobby, never engaged in good faith again. Even the horrifying image of grade school kids being sprayed with semi-automatic gunfire didn't move them.
The NRA and LaPierre have since been disgraced in a series of financial scandals but as is so common on the right, their dishonesty and corruption haven't reduced their clout with the GOP. As a matter of fact, they are holding their annual meeting in Texas on Friday:
LaPierre's "good guy with a gun" speech laid down the law that the only acceptable response to mass gun violence was to call for more guns --- arming teachers, armed security in public buildings, arming parishioners in churches etc. And it remains in effect today. They speak of "hardening targets" and recommending open carry laws that allow average "good guys" to be armed and ready at all times to try to stop a committed mass murderer. Yesterday, in the wake of the shooting they all dutifully spouted the party line:
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When asked why people are opposed to this supposed solution, Fox News' Jeanine Pirro said it's because they are "triggered if there is someone with a gun, they are frightened, that is this new narrative. You see a gun, you should be frightened as opposed to appreciating what they are doing for you!" People being afraid of guns. Imagine that.
As it happens, this fatuous "good guy with a gun" nonsense has been fully refuted by the recent mass killings. The murderers in New York and Texas encountered armed police and security guards and were able to thwart them by wearing body armor, one successfully killing the ex-police officer guarding the store in Buffalo, the other injuring several officers with whom he exchanged fire in Uvalde. It took a SWAT team to finally bring Tuesday's shooter down.
One would think that banning body armor for personal use would be a no-brainer but it's widely considered by the gun activists to fall under the 2nd Amendment, so any hope of banning its use is probably also off-limits. Gun proliferation zealots say they need it for when the civil war comes and the snowflake libs come knocking on their door. Breaking a filibuster for any gun-related legislation is impossible and the far-right judiciary probably wouldn't uphold it anyway.
Ever since 2008 when the Supreme Court declared for the first time in District of Columbia v. Heller that the 2nd Amendment provides an individual right to bear arms, Republican-run states have been loosening their gun laws to the point they really don't exist in some places like Texas. The killer apparently went out on his 18th birthday and bought himself two semi-automatic rifles, no muss, no fuss. (The law that had been in place in Texas barring anyone under 21 from owning and possessing firearms was repealed in 2019.) New York doesn't bar 18year olds from buying guns either and for reasons that are unclear, the red flag laws designed to alert authorities to a potential shooter with mental illness didn't work before the Buffalo massacre.
Just this week, a federal three-judge panel ruled that it's unconstitutional to deny 18-year-olds the right to own guns.
"America would not exist without the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army," Judge Ryan Nelson wrote. "Today we reaffirm that our Constitution still protects the right that enabled their sacrifice: the right of young adults to keep and bear arms."
One can't help but think of another 18-year-old mass killer, Kyle Rittenhouse, last seen hobnobbing at Mar-a-Lago with Donald Trump, feted by everyone on the right for his heroic killing of three unarmed protesters.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, the Supreme Court will be handing down a decision backed by the extremist gun rights movement this term that will likely hobble any state that currently has gun restrictions on the books. If the Court goes all the way under a new "text, history and tradition" test, they will declare that public safety is no longer the proper rationale for any gun regulation. You have to wonder if they will take into account whether the American "history and tradition" of young men armed with semi-automatic weapons mowing down masses of innocent people should be considered instead.
President Biden spoke to the nation last night in his capacity of mourner-in-chief. He's always effective at that. And he asked an important question:
"As a nation we have to ask, 'When in God's name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God's name do we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?"
The Democrats are more than willing to stand up to the gun lobby. The question is rightfully asked of Republicans who consistently block all gun safety legislation and are prepared to use the courts to unleash a free-for-all of gun violence in the name of "freedom." If repeated massacres, even of tiny children, automatically evoke calls to put more guns in schools and on the streets I think we know the answer: Never.
I can't think of anything that illustrates Republican nihilism more starkly than that.
Putin is 'out of options' and Russian military realizes it 'picked up a fight with NATO in the wrong place': expert
In an interview with The New Yorker published this Wednesday, Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov discussed Russia's setbacks in its invasion of Ukraine, saying that it's clear that the Russian government "now understands that it’s going to be a long, conventional war, not the small military operation they pretended it would be."
According to Soldatov, Russian President Vladimir Putin is "out of options."
"He’s quite limited. He got himself in a big war, and right now the military is finally quite convinced that they are fighting a really big war, not just some limited conflict," Soldatov said. "So what’s he going to do? He needs to vow to keep going in Ukraine. And he understands that he’s fighting a conventional army, not some group of Nazis."
Soldatov went on to say that the Russian army is "on the losing end, because the Ukrainian Army is a completely mobilized army that actually claims it can call on hundreds of thousands more in reserves." There is also a realization within the Russian military that it "picked up a fight with NATO in the wrong place."
At this point, the most interesting thing about Russia's invasion is that no one really knows what Putin's goals are, Soldatov says.
"The thinking is that, look, we are sustaining heavy casualties and suffering a lot, so the goal of occupying the Donbas cannot be the objective of such a war. We need something a bit more ambitious, and some pro-military channels on Telegram have just conducted polls and asked their subscribers, 'What do you think? When will the objective for this war be achieved?' And only six per cent of people said that it would be achieved with the 'liberation' of the Donbas, while thirty-three per cent said it would be when the whole of Ukraine capitulates unconditionally. People in the military and people close to the military want something much more ambitious than what Putin is saying."
Read the full interview at The New Yorker.