Archive for September, 2016

Nigeria Claims Oil Majors Illegally Exported Crude

September 30, 2016

Government says several multinational oil companies failed to properly declare $12.7 billion in crude exports to U.S.

An employee talks on a radio aboard the Agbami floating oil production, storage and offloading vessel operated by Chevron Corp. in the Niger Delta, Nigeria, on Dec. 2, 2015.
An employee talks on a radio aboard the Agbami floating oil production, storage and offloading vessel operated by Chevron Corp. in the Niger Delta, Nigeria, on Dec. 2, 2015. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS

Nigeria’s cash-strapped government is suing some of the world’s biggest oil companies on claims they were involved in illegally exporting $12.7 billion of the country’s crude to the U.S. between 2011 and 2014.

The allegations relate to shipments by companies including Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Italian oil firm Eni SpA. Chevron said the claims lack merit and that its Nigerian unit complies with local law. Shell likewise said it adheres to Nigerian law. Eni said the allegations are groundless.

In documents filed in a Nigerian court in March, the Nigerian government claims those oil companies and others failed to properly declare 57 million barrels of crude they exported to the U.S. between 2011 and 2014.

The government “has suffered huge and enormous financial loss as a result of the defendants’ under-declaration of the value of the crude oil they lifted and exported to the United States of America,” government lawyers wrote in a court filing.

The government is asking for nearly $407 million in lost revenue from Shell and almost $463 million from Chevron, as well as 21% interest a year from the companies until the purported lost revenue is paid.

The suit comes amid a broader campaign by Nigeria to crack down on perceived wrongdoing at companies operating there. Nigerian President Muhummadu Buhari also has pledged to fight corruption in the country, which is struggling through an economic crisis.

Last year, the government fined South African telecom giant MTN Group Ltd. $5.2 billion, alleging that it missed a deadline to deactivate more than five million unregistered SIM cards under regulations meant to combat terrorism. The company eventually agreed to pay a roughly $1.7 billion fine over three years. MTN said its Nigerian unit would “always ensure full compliance with its license terms and conditions as issued by Nigerian Communication Commission,” when it settled with the government in June.

Now, the government says an investigation into declining revenue from oil exports revealed a significant discrepancy between the volumes of oil the companies delivered abroad and the export volumes they declared to the state.

For instance, the government claims shipping records show Shell docked a tanker named Authentic at the Port of Philadelphia in January 2013. On board was nearly 1 million barrels of crude, at the time worth almost $108 million, that the government says the company failed to properly declare.

In total, the government claims Shell under-declared nearly 3.7 million barrels of crude that it delivered to the U.S. between 2011 and 2014, underpaying Nigeria almost $407 million.

The government claims Chevron under-declared 4.2 million barrels of crude shipped to the U.S. worth almost $463 million.

Shell and Chevron said they were aware of the litigation.

“We continue to conduct our business in Nigeria in compliance with all applicable laws,” Shell said in an email.

Chevron said the allegations lack “any merit whatsoever and we will vigorously defend our rights. The operations of Chevron Nigeria Limited that are the subject of this lawsuit, are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations in Nigeria.”

Eni said its Nigerian subsidiary had received a request for a payment of about $160 million last March, but said it “believes the claim has no ground and shall resist in court.”
Nigeria’s federal high court in Lagos on Friday struck down an effort by Chevron to get the case dismissed. Chevron claimed the government case lacked reasonable cause.

“It is premature to dismiss the case at this stage,” Justice Cecilia Olatoregun said in a ruling. The case has been adjourned to Oct. 25.

Nigeria’s parliament has set up a committee to investigate oil exports, claiming more than $3 billion of crude was also illegally exported to China and nearly $840 million to Norway from 2011 to 2014.

“As of today, the country has to its credit over $17 billion of recoverable shortfalls from undeclared crude oil exports to global destinations,” Representative Johnson Agbonayinma told Nigeria’s House of Representatives last week.

Nigeria’s oil minister, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said he wants to bring in external auditors to review the evidence of the case.

“Times are very difficult right now for the oil industry, and this is not the time to rumple the water too much,” Mr. Kachikwu said in an interview outside of Washington, D.C., last week. “But that’s not to say that if people have in fact committed a crime that you will not go after it to try and recover.”

Until recently, Nigeria was Africa’s largest oil producer, but the country has been hit hard by the sharp drop in oil prices and longstanding instability in its oil-rich south that has reduced its output and helped push the economy into recession.

Write to Neanda Salvaterra at and Sarah Kent at


Chinese defence adviser turns up heat on Singapore over South China Sea row — “It’s inevitable for China to strike back at Singapore.” — China Hints at Coercion and Issues Veiled Threats

September 30, 2016

Jin Yinan, from the PLA’s National Defence University, accuses city state of siding with US over maritime dispute

By Minnie Chan
South China Morning Post

Saturday, October 1, 2016, 12:55 a.m.

Beijing should impose sanctions and retaliate against Singapore to make the city state “pay the price for seriously damaging China’s interests”, an influential Chinese defence adviser told state radio.

The remarks by Professor Jin Yinan came amid stern criticism by China over Singapore’s reported insistence on including content that backed the Philippines’ position on an international arbitration ruling on claims to the South China Sea in the final document of the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Venezuela early last month.

But Jin, director of the strategic research institute at the PLA’s National Defence University, turned up the heat further late on Thursday, accusing Singapore of taking an active role in turning the South China Sea dispute into an international issue in recent years. He said Singapore had advised Washington on the matter and stirred up conflicts between the US and China, according to an interview with state-owned China National Radio.

It’s inevitable for China to strike back at Singapore, and not just on the public opinion front

“It’s inevitable for China to strike back at Singapore, and not just on the public opinion front,” Jin was quoted as saying. “Since Singapore has gone thus far, we have got to do something, be it retaliation or sanction. We must express our discontent.”

Jin confirmed to the South China Morning Post he had talked to CNR on Thursday and criticised Singapore, but he refused to detail what measures China might take to punish the country.

Jin has been China’s representative at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security ­forum in Singapore, for the past two years.

In his interview with the broadcaster, he put forward ­several examples that he said showed Singapore was involved in escalating the South China Sea issue to the international level, which had harmed China’s national interests.

He said Singaporean Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong devoted his entire one-hour speech at last year’s Shangri-La Dialogue to the matter.

“What’s the full name of the Shangri-La Dialogue? Is it the Asia Security Summit? There are so many topics about Asian security, including unbalanced development, pollution, environment, climate, terrorism, racial problems … But all the problems were ignored and the focus was just on China’s South China Sea disputes,” Jin was quoted as saying. “Who set up such a main topic?

Jin said the Singaporean government, which jointly organised the forum with British think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies, had played the key role in sending the disputes to the top of the agenda.

The PLA major general also criticised late Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, saying he had given advice to US President Barack Obama, that caused Washington to turn its “pivot to Asia” into “the rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific”.

He said the senior Lee had lost Beijing’s respect. “We understand [Singapore] has to survive among big countries,” Jin said. “But now Singapore is not seeking balance among big countries – it is playing big countries off against each other … this is playing with fire.”

But now Singapore is not seeking balance among big countries – it is playing big countries off against each other … this is playing with fire

The Singaporean embassy in Beijing and the country’s consulate in Hong Kong did not respond to requests for comment before publication time.

In the interview, Jin highlighted the strategic value of Singapore’s Changi Naval Base to the US military, saying it was the reason America called Singapore the US Navy’s “third anchor” in the Asia-Pacific region, after Japan and Australia.

Jin also questioned whether Singapore was remaining neutral between China and the United States. By opening the base, Singapore was helping the US to establish a presence in an area crucial to China’s oil ­imports.

“Singapore claims it is a non-aligned country and its Changi Naval Base is an open port. But why don’t you invite the Chinese navy to berth at it?”

State media have in recent days joined in criticising Singapore’s stance in South China Sea disputes after a war of words between Singapore’s ambassador to China Stanley Loh and Hu Xijing, the editor-in-chief of Global Times, which reported on the NAM summit.

Singapore said the request at the summit was raised by all Asean members.

Germany tells Philippine envoy Duterte Hitler remarks ‘unacceptable’ — But China Will Welcome Duterte In Their Bed

September 30, 2016


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech at the Davao international airport on September 30, 2016. AFP photo

BERLIN, Germany – The German government on Friday told the Philippine ambassador that comments by President Rodrigo Duterte likening his deadly crime war to Hitler’s efforts to exterminate Jews were “unacceptable.”

“Any comparison of the singular atrocities of the Holocaust with anything else is totally unacceptable,” German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told reporters earlier and reiterated in the statement.

The  ministry also said in a statement that it had asked the Philippine envoy “to come to the ministry for a discussion on this issue.”

Germany, Europe’s top economy, has expressed serious concerns about Duterte’s crackdown, which has left more than 3,000 people dead in three months and threatened a breakdown of the rule of law in one of Asia’s most chaotic democracies.

Duterte, 71, won elections in May in a landslide after a campaign dominated by his pledge to eradicate drugs in society by killing tens of thousands of people.

In comments Friday, he drew parallels between his campaign to wipe out the drug problem and Adolf Hitler’s genocidal drive.

“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Duterte told reporters in his home city of Davao.

“At least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have,” he said, then paused. “But you know, my victims, I would like to be (sic) all criminals to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.”

Nazi Germany slaughtered some six million Jews by the end of World War II. — Agence France-Presse

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President  Duterte of The Philippines Seeks New Friends in China and Russia

The Filipino president’s rhetoric reeks of opportunism rather than strategy, but there is risk in the long term.

Rodrigo Duterte has rejected criticism and accused Western governments of hypocrisy


Betteridge’s law of headlines states that any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered no. And so it is with this one, with a strong caveat: at least not now.

Since election in May, Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines’ “gotta make some murder to stop some murder” president, has grabbed up headlines by getting so tough on crime, crime is shot in the streets and by insulting the American president. Now, and most geopolitically significantly, Mr Duterte has threatened to bring his country into alliances with China and Russia.

As much of a boon as this would be to the Chinese and Russians, neither can replace the Americans. At least, not right now.

First, just what does Duterte think he’s doing?

Rodrigo Duterte was elected with a “get tough on crime” platform in a collectivist society that prefers strong, decisive leadership. In such a place, a president can extol a social cleansing through violence, targeting those who threaten the collective. Drug dealers are marginal anywhere, but in an individualistic society, like the US, killing them would horrify most Americans, who would see the violation of individual rights as immoral. In the Philippines, killing drug dealers doesn’t inspire such recoil; Filipinos presume it will never happen to them so long as they play by big society’s rules.

Which is where the Obama-Duterte spat began. President Barack Obama see the extrajudicial killings as immoral and worth condemnation; Duterte and his supporters see them as necessary to preserve the body politic. It goes without saying that if Duterte can get away with killing Filipinos on a large scale, it strengthens and secures him politically. If he has ambitions to repeat the recent past and turn the country’s fledging democracy back to dictatorship, this is a sure path.

So there’s two factors here: doubtless, Duterte believes he’s doing a good thing to a society in desperate need of decisive leadership. It’s also self-serving, empowering him further, feeding his ambitions and what politician is not ambitious?

But the influence of the United States upon the Philippines is vast. Switching sides might be a dream to anti-American rivals, but it will not be quick or easy.

Why is Duterte suddenly courting the Chinese and Russians? In short, to make himself look strong at a time when he’s weak

Duterte is a new president; while he is enjoying a political honeymoon, that won’t last. The only way to carry on his agenda is to appear strong. Standing up to the US is a cheap way to do so.

Leaders like Duterte use selective historical memory to rile up nationalists and identity voters, who become powerful bases of support. As Duterte dredges up old US war crimes from a century ago, he means to rally people who will see him as a movement rather than a politician.

This is the short-term thinking of a would-be strongman. Duterte echoes a lot of authoritarians who have about-faced on former allies for domestic benefit. The list is full of famous names: Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was saved by American power in the ’56 Suez Crisis and then proceeded to bash the US in public; Saddam Hussein, who was armed by the Americans and then invaded Kuwait; and Hugo Chavez, who never forgave the US for a 2002 coup attempt.

But there is a key difference: all three had discernable ideologies that made them competitors to the United States. Duterte does not. All of this reeks of opportunism rather than genuine strategy.

That isn’t to say he won’t develop such an ideology. In a collectivist society that relies upon powerful, decisive leaders, nationalism — the very ideology that relies upon the subsummation of the individual to the nation beneath an all-powerful leader — can gain quick breath.

Why turning on the Americans too fast would be an economic disaster

Best to admit the truth right off the bat: China is the biggest trade partner of the Philippines.

Some $34 billion in total trade in 2014 passes between the two. 24 percent of exports go to China, 17 percent of imports come from the people’s republic.

Yet if we follow Duterte to his logical conclusion, of swapping out the Americans for the Russians and Chinese, that won’t matter, because those two combined cannot replace the US and its allies.

The United States and Japan are numbers three and two, respectively. $17 billion in trade travels between the US and Philippines; Japan has another $18 billion. Combined these two balance the Chinese. Duterte might want to cut links with former conquerors, but to do so will be expensive in the extreme.

Moreover, Russia-Philippine trade is nearly nonexistent. To build an economic bridge to Russia will mean having to craft trade deals that give massive, largely artificial incentives to force a relationship where there is none today. Neither country can really afford to do that. The only deals they can sign could be of symbolism rather than substance.

So Duterte faces a basic economic problem: Should he try to wean his country off the United States, who does he replace it with? Japan, South Korea and Taiwan all want and need American power. Should pushes come to shoves, they would join the US in bringing economic power to bear upon a Philippines gone rogue. Only a slow, determined policy could accomplish that goal, but even with discipline it’s fraught with risks. Should anything slip, he could turn his country into the next Venezuela.

To switch too fast would be a military disaster for the Filipinos

The Filipino armed forces are entirely reliant on the US alliance system. The Filipino navy almost doesn’t exist. That’s a huge handicap for an island nation. The PLA Navy isn’t able to replace the US Navy — the Chinese navy is too small itself. The Russian Pacific fleet is a ghost of its Soviet self. So to ditch the American security alliance for anyone else on Earth would essentially mean giving up any way to protect the Philippines by sea. Forget war; without US naval protection, piracy will run rampant throughout the many islands of the country.

Then there are the 200,000 odd troops the Filipino government has. These forces have never been seriously expected to stave off a Soviet or Chinese invasion; they were always placeholders until the Americans could arrive. Instead, successive Filipino governments used them as political patronage — a gigantic jobs-for-loyalty program. Filipinos themselves are clear on the matter: the military is not where one goes to defend the country but to plunder government coffers.

Corruption compounds a basic challenge: Having been supplied by the US since independence, switching gear will be both slow and expensive. It will mean parting with decades of training and experience for unfamiliar Chinese and Russian equipment. The more complicated the system, the more difficult that will be. Soldiers uninterested in hardship — as corrupt troops tend to be — are not likely to take kindly to being forced to use some other country’s equipment just so their president can score political points against the Americans. They will grumble. The Philippines is not so secure to prevent a coup, but even avoiding that, muttering soldiers will poison the political well against Duterte, making reelection all the more difficult.

This presumes that such a military shakeup doesn’t inspire the many separatist movements of the country to take a stab at independence. There are at least three active militant movements in the Philippines: the Moro Islamist Liberation Front, the Moro National Liberation Front, and, to add an even sweeter treat to the mix, a “province” of the Islamic State. Booting American special forces from Mindanao, where these insurgencies rage, will undercut Manila’s special forces; changing equipment on those troops will make them near useless for a time. Doubtless, the Americans know this, and know that any president who loses territory to a rebellion will not be remembered kindly.

But these are all short term of a fast switch. What if Duterte lasts a second term?

And herein is the danger to the American Pacific alliance system. For both China and Russia to get freer hands against America, they must crack America’s massive alliance networks. That is incredibly dangerous work: to push too hard could spark a world war. They can only hope two things: that the Americans make mistakes and alienate friends and that friends begin to see the Americans as in their way of progress and decide to opt out of their alliances.

Duterte sees the Americans as in his way of power. This is a huge opportunity for Beijing and Moscow to build influence in a country where neither traditionally had any. Neither can really replace the Americans right now, but that doesn’t mean they can’t replace the US eventually. If Duterte wins a second term, and if he can develop a Filipino nationalist movement that is anti-American at its core, that door could open. That is what the Americans must seek to prevent, for if the Philippines goes neutral, or, even worse, falls into China’s orbit, it will alarm all of America’s remaining allies and certainly make it look like the twenty-first century in the Pacific will belong to China.

There are indications that Duterte is neither disciplined nor a visionary enough to survive to a second term. That’s just his track right now: even bad leaders can learn from their mistakes. He goes up against some powerful odds: Filipinos like the US even more than Americans. And they are not big fans of China. But minds can be changed; leaders can more readily lead in collectivist cultures and if his drug war does bring the appearance of stability and order, he may well have the breathing space to advance a nationalist agenda.

China and Russia must wait and hope the US makes the situation worse. Depending on the next president, they might get their wish. As for ordinary Filipinos, their president is making them into a geopolitical football. They will get a great deal of attention. They may not like it.

This article originally appeared at Geopolitics Made Super, September 28, 2016.


Duterte, Philippine President, Raises Doubts About Military Alliance With U.S.

MANILA — Military and diplomatic officials in the Philippines were facing a quandary on Thursday after President Rodrigo Duterte distanced the country further from the United States, its biggest defense ally, by saying he would end joint military exercises like one scheduled for next week and would pursue closer ties to China and Russia.

Speaking to Filipinos in Vietnam late Wednesday, Mr. Duterte said that although he was preserving the 65-year military partnership between Manila and Washington, he was eager to strengthen relations with powers closer to home.


Jim Comey’s Blind Eye — The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth? Only in The Movies — Comey’s Reputation Takes More Hits

September 30, 2016


The FBI director can’t defend immunity for Hillary Clinton’s aides—which says volumes. — FBI deliberately chose to accept some lies…

FBI Director James Comey is sworn in before testifying at a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., Sept. 28.
FBI Director James Comey is sworn in before testifying at a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., Sept. 28. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 29, 2016 7:28 p.m. ET

Two revealing, if largely unnoticed, moments came in the middle of FBI Director Jim Comey’s Wednesday testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. When combined, these moments prove that Mr. Comey gave Hillary Clinton a pass.

Congress hauled Mr. Comey in to account for the explosive revelation that the government granted immunity to Clinton staffers Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson as part of its investigation into whether Mrs. Clinton had mishandled classified information. Rep. Tom Marino (R., Pa.), who was once a Justice Department prosecutor and knows how these investigations roll, provided the first moment. He asked Mr. Comey why Ms. Mills was so courteously offered immunity in return for her laptop—a laptop that Mr. Comey admitted investigators were very keen to obtain. Why not simply impanel a grand jury, get a subpoena, and seize the evidence?

Mr. Comey’s answer was enlightening: “It’s a reasonable question. . . . Any time you are talking about the prospect of subpoenaing a computer from a lawyer—that involves the lawyer’s practice of law—you know you are getting into a big megillah.” Pressed further, he added: “In general, you can often do things faster with informal agreements, especially when you are interacting with lawyers.”

The key words: “The lawyer’s practice of law.” What Mr. Comey was referencing here is attorney-client privilege. Ms. Mills was able to extract an immunity deal, avoid answering questions, and sit in on Mrs. Clinton’s FBI interview because she has positioned herself as Hillary’s personal lawyer. Ms. Mills could therefore claim that any conversations or interactions she had with Mrs. Clinton about the private server were protected by attorney-client privilege.


Only here’s the rub: When Ms. Mills worked at the State Department she was not acting as Mrs. Clinton’s personal lawyer. She was the secretary’s chief of staff. Any interaction with Mrs. Clinton about her server, or any evidence from that time, should have been fair game for the FBI and the Justice Department.

Ms. Mills was allowed to get away with this “attorney-client privilege” nonsense only because she claimed that she did not know about Mrs. Clinton’s server until after they had both left the State Department. Ergo, no questions about the server.

The FBI has deliberately chosen to accept this lie. The notes of its interview with Ms. Mills credulously states: “Mills did not learn Clinton was using a private email server until after Clinton’s tenure” at State. It added: “Mills stated she was not even sure she knew what a server was at the time.”

Which brings us to the hearing’s second revealing moment. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) pointed out that the FBI’s notes from its interview with Clinton IT staffer Bryan Pagliano expose this lie. In late 2009 or early 2010, Mr. Pagliano told investigators, he approached Ms. Mills to relay State Department concerns that the private server might pose a “federal records retention issue.” According to Mr. Pagliano, Ms. Mills told him not to worry about it, because other secretaries of state had used similar setups.

More damning, Mr. Chaffetz held up an email that Ms. Mills sent in 2010 to Justin Cooper, whom the Clintons personally employed to help maintain the server. The email reads: “hrc email coming back—is server okay?” Mr. Cooper responds: “Ur funny. We are on the same server.”

To be clear: When Mrs. Clinton had an email problem, Ms. Mills didn’t call the State Department’s help desk. She didn’t call Yahoo customer service. She called a privately employed Clinton aide and asked specifically about Mrs. Clinton’s “server.” She did this as chief of staff at the State Department. Mr. Chaffetz asked Mr. Comey why the FBI wrote that Ms. Mills was ignorant about the server until later.
Mr. Comey suddenly sounded like a man with something to hide. “I don’t remember exactly, sitting here,” he said, in what can only be called the FBI version of “I don’t recall.” He then mumbled that “Having done many investigations myself, there’s always conflicting recollections of facts, some of which are central, some of which are peripheral. I don’t remember, sitting here, about that one.”

Really? Only a few minutes before he had explained that the Justice Department was forced to issue immunity to Ms. Mills because she had asserted attorney-client privilege. Yet he couldn’t remember all the glaring evidence proving she had no such privilege? Usually, the FBI takes a dim view of witnesses who lie. Had the FBI pursued perjury charges against Ms. Mills—as it would have done against anyone else—it would have had extraordinary leverage to force her to speak about all of her communications regarding the server. It might have even threatened to build a case that Ms. Mills was part of a criminal scheme. Then it could have offered immunity in return for the real goods on Hillary.

But going that route would have required grand juries, subpoenas, warrants and indictments—all things that Mr. Comey clearly wanted to avoid in this politically sensitive investigation. Much easier to turn a blind eye to Ms. Mills’s fiction. And to therefore give Mrs. Clinton a pass.

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Duterte Agitated About Hitler Comparison — “There are three million drug addicts [in the Philippines]. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

September 30, 2016
President Rodrigo Duterte scratches his head as he addresses Philippine Marines in suburban Taguig City east of Manila, Philippines, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. Duterte used an expletive to warn key ally Barack Obama not to lecture him on human rights and, in another impromptu speech, declared a dramatic policy change such as removing US counterterrorism forces out of his country’s volatile south. Impassioned speeches by Duterte about the United States, the European Union and the United Nations have repeatedly led his government to issue clarifications, although he had been on the job less than three months. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at his critics who had been comparing him to Germany’s Adolf Hitler.

The president called out the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU) and the United States (US) anew for criticizing his anti-drugs campaign in the country.

“Kaya kung ikaw nandito bakit hindi ka magmumura? (So if you are here, why wouldn’t you curse?) You’re portrayed or pictured to be some cousin of Hitler and yet do not even bother to find out, to investigate,” Duterte said in his speech after arriving from Vietnam early Friday.

The president noted that Hitler killed three million Jews but said he is also willing to take down three million drug users to solve the drug issue in the Philippines.

“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them” Duterte said.

FACT CHECK: Are there 3 million drug addicts in the Philippines?

“At least if Germany had Hitler the Philippines would have… you know my victims, I would like to be all criminals to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition,” the president added.

Duterte stressed that not a single case was filed against him when the Commission on Human Rights was looking into his alleged links with the Davao Death Squad during his term as mayor.

The international community has been criticizing Duterte’s drug war due to the spate of extrajudicial and vigilante killings of drug suspects.

“Okay lang sa akin, sanay ako sa pulitika. Lahat ng kababuyan dumating na sa aking buhay. Pero itong mga ganito… look kayong US, EU you can call me anything but I was never into or I am never into hypocrisy like you,” Duterte said.

The chief executive argued that both the EU and the US have closed its doors to migrants from the Middle East.

“There are migrants escaping from the Middle East. You allow them to rot and then you’re worried about the deaths of about one thousand, or two thousand, or three thousand,” the president said.

Duterte earlier said that he is willing to face investigation by the UN, the US and the EU over the killings of drug suspects as long as they follow Philippine laws.

READ: Duterte: Probe me but follow Philippine laws


China Backs Philippine President Duterte’s Drug War — Duterte Trip To China May Change Asia For Decades To Come

September 30, 2016
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said that China supports President Rodrigo Duterte’s policies against the illegal drug trade. FMPRC

MANILA, Philippines — Beijing has expressed its support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against the illegal drug trade despite criticisms from the United States, the European Union and some human rights groups.

The chief executive has come under fire for the rising number of extrajudicial and vigilante killings of drug suspects ever since he took office.

“Under the leadership of President Duterte, the new Philippine government enacted policies that prioritize combating drug-related crimes. China understands and supports that,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a press briefing on Thursday.

Geng stressed that the Chinese government has played a positive role in the international anti-drug campaign.

“China understands and supports that. We stand ready to have anti-drug cooperation with the Philippines and formulate a common action plan for it,” Geng said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry official further noted that fighting drug crimes is a shared responsibility among all countries around the world.

“The Chinese government is resolute in cracking down on drug crimes. With clearly-defined policies and notable achievements, China is a staunch force in the international endeavor against drug crimes,” the Chinese official said.

READ: US senators reconsider assistance toPhilippines amid drug war | Philippines to US: Let us chart our own course

An American senator has warned that the United States may reconsider its assistance to the Philippines if the extrajudicial killings and state-sanctioned violence continue.

US Sen. Patrick Leahy said that it may be necessary to look into the conditions on assistance to the Duterte administration to ensure that taxpayer funds are properly spent.

The senator authored the Leahy Law which prohibits the US Department of State and Department of Defense from providing assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that the Philippine government respects the opinion of other nations and stressed that the country remains committed to human rights.

“We respect the opinion of others but we also give ourselves the permission to chart our own course and fulfill our destiny on our own terms,” Abella said.

RELATED: Duterte to visit China on October 20


 (More on This below)




FILE PHOTO – A Philippine flag flutters from BRP Sierra Madre, a dilapidated Philippine Navy ship that has been aground since 1999 and became a Philippine military detachment on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea March 29, 2014. REUTERS/Erik De Castro/File Photo TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
By Manuel Mogato and Benjamin Kang Lim | REUTERS — MANILA/BEIJING

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte travels to China next month on a visit that could redraw alliances in East Asia after his incendiary comments about the United States and active courting of Washington’s chief rivals.

The friendly relationship between the Philippines and the United States has been one of the pillars of Washington’s strategic military rebalance to Asia under President Barack Obama. But the alliance has been under strain since Duterte came to power three months ago and chafed at U.S. criticism of his bloody war on drugs, which has led to the killing of more than 3,100 alleged drug users and dealers by police and vigilantes.

He has insulted Obama and then made it clear the Philippines will pursue a much more independent foreign policy than it has in the past.

That has included the Philippines extending an olive branch to China, despite the two countries being locked for years in a bitter territorial dispute in the South China Sea. Duterte has also spoken of reaching out to Russia.

“Ever since President Duterte took office, China and Philippines have been engaging in friendly interactions, which have yielded a series of positive results,” Zhao Jianhua, the Chinese ambassador to Manila, said at a Chinese National Day reception at the embassy this week.

“The clouds are fading away. The sun is rising over the horizon, and will shine beautifully on the new chapter of bilateral relations,” Zhao said.

Duterte plans to visit Beijing from Oct 19-21, and hold talks with both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

Diplomatic and business sources in Manila have said he will be accompanied by about two dozen businessmen, which could lead to deals being forged that could underpin any improved bilateral ties.

But key to a successful visit will be an understanding of how to approach the dispute over the South China Sea. Beijing has angrily rejected a decision by an international court in July that ruled China’s claims to the waterway were invalid, after a case was brought by the Philippines.

Duterte wants China to abide by the ruling and allow access to the Scarborough Shoal, a traditional fishing ground for Chinese, Filipino and Vietnamese fishermen. But he has not insisted on the ruling being implemented and said he would like to negotiate on the row.

“Duterte giving us face means we have to rethink our policy,” a source with ties to China’s leadership and the military told Reuters. “We have to reciprocate his courtesy.”


Getting Filipino fishermen access to the Scarborough Shoal would be a major win for Duterte and add to his already sky-high domestic popularity. According to a recent survey, he has a record high approval rating of 92 percent even as he faces international opprobrium for the killings.

“When Duterte visits China next month, his agenda will focus on trade, investments and fishery cooperation with China, including access to Scarborough,” a Philippines foreign ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Zha Daojiong, an international relations professor at China’s Peking University, said a deal over renewed Philippines access to Scarborough Shoal could be expected at the visit. But he said it would be a verbal rather than written agreement to avoid formally acknowledging the international court’s ruling, which upheld the historic fishing rights of both states.

“There’s many ways this meeting could be productive…even if there is likely to be some caution on both sides,” Zha said.

Officially, Beijing has yet to confirm Duterte’s visit, but the foreign ministry has said it welcomes a visit by him at an early date.

The Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said in an editorial last week it could lead to a new chapter in ties.

“A new, positive interaction between China and the Philippines, starkly different from the Aquino era, may be unveiled,” it said, referring to the previous Philippines president, Benigno Aquino.

“Duterte shows stark differences from his predecessor in diplomacy and style. He seems to prefer more balanced diplomatic relations with other countries rather than being too reliant on the U.S.”


Duterte has this month struck at the heart of ties with the United States by saying the two countries would not hold any joint naval patrols during his six-year tenure and calling for the withdrawal of U.S. special forces stationed in the restive south of the country. On Friday, he outraged Jewish groups by appearing to compare himself to Adolf Hitler, which could heap more pressure on Washington to publicly turn against him.

Despite the uncertainty, U.S. officials have maintained that all remains well.

“As it has been for decades, our alliance with the Philippines is ironclad,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday, speaking to American sailors aboard the U.S.S. Carl Vinson at its home port in San Diego.

But analysts think damage has already been done.

“Officials in Washington must now be seriously worried about the trajectory of U.S.-Philippine relations,” said Ian Storey, a South China Sea expert at Singapore’s ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.

“Especially military-to-military issues such as joint exercises and U.S. access to Philippine bases, and whether Duterte will try and cut a deal with Beijing over the South China Sea that will allow China to advance its maritime claims.”

But not everyone in China is rushing to embrace Duterte, because of his extreme unpredictability. Last month, despite the new-found bonhomie, the Philippines said at a summit of Asian nations in Laos that it was “gravely concerned” about Chinese boats preparing to build structures at the disputed Scarborough Shoal.

“We have to see what he actually does,” said Luo Liang, a researcher at the Chinese government-backed National Institute for South China Sea Studies in Hainan. “Although the signals from Duterte are good, we still need to wait and see.”

(Additional reporting by Martin Petty in Hanoi, Greg Torode in Hong Kong, Ben Blanchard in Beijing, Marius Zaharia in Singapore and Yeganeh Torbati in San Diego; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by Martin Howell)




Duterte’s pivot to China won’t be easy for Americanized AFP


Regular war games have synchronized the tactics, techniques, and procedures of the two militaries, allowing the Americans to quickly respond in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda while other foreign militaries struggled to assist

By Carmela Fonbuena

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to terminate war games between the Philippines and the US, a move that would significantly push his pivot to China, could hurt the capabilities of the Philippine military that has closely worked with the Americans for decades.

Outside the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) conflict, the two militaries cooperate on disaster response and counter-terrorism.

The Philippines and the US also regularly hold two major exercises annually.

The Balikatan war games involve all services (army, navy, and air force) while the amphibious landing exercises (Phiblex) involve only the marines and sailors. Up to 1,400 American troops will be in the Philippines on Sunday, October 2, for the Phiblex 2017 that Duterte said would be the last of the Philippines-US war games under his term.

On top of this, the US allocated this year at least US$40 million (about P2 billion*) in military assistance to the Philippines, which will also receive more hand-me-down assets such as a 3rd warship and at least one more C130 cargo plane.

But Duterte said the country will buy defense assets from China and Russia instead of the US, which has already donated or sold to the the AFP some of its most capable defense assets such as two warships patrolling the West Philippine Sea, armored personnel carrires for the army, and a research vessel (Click here for list of big ticket items from the US).

Synchronized moves

Years of regular war games have synchronized the tactics, techniques, and procedures to make command posts – generals issuing orders – and the troops of the longtime allies interoperable.

Recent exercises were in fact focused on the maritime conflict, allowing the swift deployment of joint patrols to deter threats of China’s construction in Scarborough Shoal off the coast of the country’s mainland Luzon.

“Perhaps the President may reconsider to allow the holding of non-traditional exercises like humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR), counter-terrorism, and other transnational crimes like drug trafficking under the Security Engagement Board (SEB),” said former Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) executive director and retired Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Eduardo Oban Jr.

Oban said it is important to proceed with these exercises even if war games such as joint patrols and live fire exercises are discontinued. He said training exercises may even include joint efforts against drug trafficking.

The interoperability between the US and the Philippines proved crucial in the aftermath of the November 2013 Super Typhoon Yolanda, when American soldiers were among those who took the first C130 cargo flight to Tacloban City to check the extent of damage and determine forms of assistance.

The US deployed 12,000 troops to the Visayas after Yolanda, pulling out of the area only 4 weeks later.

At the height of rescue and relief operations after Yolanda, Americans immediately knew how to send cargo planes for the transport of people and relief goods, while other foreign militaries struggled to coordinate with the overwhelmed Philippine government where and when their own cargo planes can land. (READ: Soldiers of the world deployed for Haiyan victims)

“When Yolanda happened, the first responders were the AFP and the US forces. Together they established a comand post in strategic locations, where they served as the hub of relief and rehabilitation operations,” Oban recalled.

Developing the same interoperability with a new ally “will take time,” said a retired general concerned with the policy shift but who refused to be identified.

China belatedly sent a hospital ship then, following international criticism over its failure to aid a neighbor.

Anti-terror drive

SIDE BY SIDE. US and Philippine soldiers regularly hold Balikatan and Phiblex war games in the Philippines. File photo by AFP/Jay Directo

The Americans are also assisting the country’s anti-terrorism drive, training elite troops and sharing intelligence and technology, although this was tainted by the bloody Mamasapano incident in January 2015, an operation that involved American intelligence and the participation of elite Philippine cops.

A Senate probe into Mamasapano later showed that one of the 6 American soldiers who tagged along the ground Filipino police commander had tried to order the military around. “One of the Americans ordered [Army Major General] Pangilinan to fire the artillery. However, Pangilinan refused and told him, ‘Do not dictate to me what to do. I am the commander here!'”revealed the complete draft of the Senate report released on March 17, 2015.

Prior to this, in March 2012, the Philippine military used US smart bombs in an attack against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu. Various intelligence reports obtained by Rappler said that the first smart bombs, PGMs or Precision-Guided Munitions kits, arrived in the Philippines on November 1, 2010. Weapons training began the following year, on Jan 24, 2011. (READ: US smart bomb used in Sulu attack)

These forms of involvement reinforce criticism of American presence in the Philippines. (READ: Independent foreign policy: It’s about time)

First left Philippine president

And the critics are led no less than by the commander in chief.

Duterte, a self-declared “first leftist president,” has never hidden his dislike of Americans even before he fumed over the superpower’s criticism of his deadly war on drugs.

When he was mayor of Davao City, Duterte exposed and blocked US plans to use his city as base of its drone operations.

As president, he said he doesn’t want any more joint exercises with US forces. “Hindi natin kaya ang China sabi ko (We are no match to China)— even with the help of America – so we talk…. I am not ready to commit the soldiers of this country just to be massacred,” Duterte said during a recent trip to Vietnam.

The Americans have made informal inquiries to clarify Duterte’s pronouncements, but Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza said no action will be taken until the President gives them clear orders. Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr denied the President ever talked about stopping the exercises, claiming Duterte only meant to end joint patrols.

The pronouncements have also raised questions about the President’s plans regarding a new military-to-military agreement, the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement, that allows Americans to put up facilities and preposition assets inside Philippine military bases and which has been upheld by the Philippine Supreme Court as constitutional.

Yes to China’s preconditions

Jay Batongbacal, who heads the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said Duterte’s pronouncements “signal” that he is “ready to grant China’s pre-conditions for negotiation of a settlement of the West Philippine Sea issues: principally on China’s terms and without the supporting role of the US.” (READ: Sun rises ‘beautifully’ on Philippine ties – China envoy)

Apart from terminating war games, Duterte also seeks to end joint patrols within the country’s exclusive economic zone and limit unliateral patrols to the country’s 12 nautical mile territorial zones.

Former foreigh affairs secretary Albert Del Rosario warned of the economic cost of the foreign policy shift, arguing that the Philipipnes should keep “as many friends as possible.”

It was, ironically, the same criticism hurled by some camps against the Aquino administration, which cut communication lines with China over the West Philippine Sea conflict, negotiated EDCA to rely on the US to defend its maritime territories, and won a historic arbitration case against China.

The Philippine Left, which is talking peace with the government, welcomed the policy shift as a mark of the country’s independent foreign policy.

Kabayan party-list representative Harry Roque, who argued against EDCA before the Supreme Court, said Duterte is “warming up to China because he wants to solve the problem of fishermen in Scarborough.”

“It is important to stress to China, so that we can come to an immediate solution to the problem of our fishermen in the West Philippine Sea, that we have a separation of national interests with the US. I’m in favor of elimination these war games,” said Roque.

Indeed, Duterte’s friendliness is credited for the slowdown in China’s buildup in the West Philippine Sea. But it is believed to be temporary.

“No matter what comes of discussions between China and the Philippines, the long-term objective of control of the South China Sea remains,” said a New York Times report quoting Renmin University international relations professor Shi Yinhong.

Time will tell whose approach is right. –



By Karen Lema and Manuel Mogato | REUTERS — MANILA

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte appeared to liken himself to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler on Friday and said he would “be happy” to exterminate three million drug users and peddlers in the country.

His comments triggered shock and anger among Jewish groups in the United States, which could add to pressure on the U.S. government to take a tougher line with the Philippines leader.

Duterte recently insulted President Barack Obama and in a number of remarks he has undermined the previously close relationship between Manila and Washington.

In a rambling speech on his arrival in Davao City after a visit to Vietnam, Duterte told reporters that he had been “portrayed to be a cousin of Hitler” by critics.

Noting that Hitler had murdered millions of Jews, Duterte said, “There are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them.

“If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have …,” he said, pausing and pointing to himself.

“You know my victims. I would like (them) to be all criminals to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.”

Duterte was voted to power in a May election on the back of a vow to end drugs and corruption in the country of 100 million people. He took office on June 30 and over 3,100 people have been killed since then, mostly alleged drug users and dealers, in police operations and vigilante killings.

His comments were quickly condemned by Jewish groups.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate project, called them “outrageous”.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during a news conference upon his arrival from a state visit in Vietnam at the International Airport in Davao city, Philippines September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Lean Daval Jr

“Duterte owes the victims (of the Holocaust) an apology for his disgusting rhetoric,” Cooper said.

The Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish group based in the United States, said Duterte’s comments were “shocking for their tone-deafness”.

“The comparison of drug users and dealers to Holocaust victims is inappropriate and deeply offensive,” said Todd Gutnick, the group’s director of communications. “It is baffling why any leader would want to model himself after such a monster.”

While the Obama administration has criticized Duterte over the extra-judicial killings, U.S. officials offered no immediate condemnation of his latest comments and instead stuck to a strategy of stressing long-standing ties with Manila.

“We continue to focus on our broad relationship with the Philippines and will work together in the many areas of mutual interest,” a White House official said when asked about Duterte’s Hitler comments.


Two days before the Philippines election, outgoing President Benigno Aquino had warned that Duterte’s rising popularity was akin to that of Hitler in the 1920s and 1930s.

“I hope we learn the lessons of history,” Aquino said in widely reported remarks. “We should remember how Hitler came to power.”

Duterte has been scathing about criticism of his anti-drugs campaign and has insulted the United Nations and the European Union, as well as Obama, at various times in recent weeks.

On Friday, reacting to critical comments on his war on drugs by U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and Benjamin Cardin, Duterte said: “Do not pretend to be the moral conscience of the world. Do not be the policeman because you do not have the eligibility to do that in my country.”

He also reiterated there will be no annual war games between the Philippines and the United States until the end of his six-year term, placing the longstanding alliance under a cloud of doubt. It also may make Washington’s strategy of rebalancing its military focus towards Asia in the face of an increasingly assertive China much more difficult to achieve.

Still, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, speaking before the latest remarks from Duterte, said Washington had an “ironclad” alliance with Manila.

A senior U.S. defense official, also speaking earlier, told reporters that the United States had a long enduring relationship with the Philippines regardless of who was president.

Another U.S. defense official pointed to participation by the USS Germantown in an amphibious exercise with the Phiilippines military on Friday as a sign that military ties remained unaffected by Duterte’s latest comments.

Malcolm Cook, a senior fellow at Singapore’s ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute, said the U.S-Philippines alliance was not necessarily at risk, but Washington could seek to focus on ties elsewhere in the region.

“We are all in some sense becoming, by necessity, desensitized to Duterte’s language,” he said.

“Diplomatically, the U.S. would say they’ll continue to work with him and the alliance is strong. But it’s whether they’ll continue to strengthen that alliance or not.”

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, Yeganeh Torbati in San Diego, Marius Zaharia in Singapore, Jeff Mason in Jerusalem and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Toni Reinhold)

Deutsche Bank Near Agreement With U.S. In $5.4 billion Deal To Settle Charges Over its Sale of Toxic Mortgage Bonds — Down From $14 Billion First Assessed

September 30, 2016

NEW YORK (AFP) – Deutsche Bank is near an agreement with US officials to pay $5.4 billion to settle charges over its sale of toxic mortgage bonds ahead of the financial crisis, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

US Justice Department officials had earlier pressed Deutsche Bank to pay $14 billion to settle the case, an amount the German bank said was unacceptable and which raised concerns over its solvency.



Los Angeles Times Poll: Hillary Down, Trump Ahead

September 30, 2016

The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times “Daybreak” poll tracks about 3,000 eligible voters until election day, asking on a regular basis about their support for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump or other candidates as well as their likelihood of actually casting a ballot.

We update the data each day based on the weighted average of poll responses over the previous week. That means results have less volatility than some other polls, but also means the poll lags somewhat in responding to major events in the campaign. More about the poll and why it differs from others.

We ask voters what the chance is that they will vote for Trump, Clinton or someone else, using a 0-100 scale. The overall level of support for each candidate reflects the weighted average of those responses.

See it all at the Los Angeles Times;

If Donald Trump Wins Ohio, One Buckeye He’ll Have To Thank is Sen. Rob Portman

September 30, 2016

GOP senator’s re-election campaign organization is much more extensive than that of presidential nominee

Polls show Sen. Rob Portman is comfortably ahead of his Democratic challenger in Ohio, former Gov. Ted Strickland, with weeks to go in the Senate election campaign.
Polls show Sen. Rob Portman is comfortably ahead of his Democratic challenger in Ohio, former Gov. Ted Strickland, with weeks to go in the Senate election campaign. PHOTO: FRED SQUILLANTE/THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH


The Wall Street Journal
Updated Sept. 29, 2016 9:41 p.m. ET

TOLEDO, Ohio—If Donald Trump wins Ohio, it may be because of the groundwork laid by Rob Portman, the state’s Republican senator who avoided the stage, the presidential nominee and the spotlight during the Republican Party’s Cleveland convention in July.

Mr. Trump’s campaign only recently started organizing voters here—months after Democratic rival Hillary Clinton—while Mr. Portman has for nearly two years been identifying and courting GOP voters in anticipation of a tough re-election race.

Consequently, Ohio may be a rare case study in reverse political coattails, with big stakes for Mr. Trump. Ohio has backed the presidential winners in the past 13 elections, and no Republican in modern history has won the White House without capturing Ohio.

In typical presidential years, the White House nominee drives party turnout for down-ticket candidates. Here, the Portman campaign, which began recruiting volunteers in high school government classes across the state in March 2015, is the primary point of contact for GOP voters.

“In Ohio, everyone is riding Rob Portman’s coattails,” said Donald Larson, a Republican who is challenging Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur.

It is an advantage that may help Mr. Trump steal a state from the Democratic column; polls show Mrs. Clinton and him in a dead heat. Meanwhile, Mr. Portman is leading his Democratic opponent, former Gov. Ted Strickland, by 13 percentage points, according to the Real Clear Politics average of public surveys.

While an assist from Mr. Portman, who endorsed Mr. Trump but hasn’t appeared with him, could make Ohio more competitive, the GOP nominee’s organizational weaknesses in other swing states such as North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin may present bigger problems.

Mr. Trump’s challenges were evident when he campaigned in Toledo last week. There was no one from the campaign in the lobby of the theater that hosted his rally asking supporters if they were registered to vote, a standard campaign tactic. Instead, John Hill, a frequent Ohio Republican Party volunteer, came on his own with a stack of voter registration forms.

At 7:15 p.m. the night after his rally, the Trump campaign office in downtown Toledo was locked with no one inside. At another local Trump office, in suburban Perrysburg, two women sat by themselves at 8:30 p.m. The women said they weren’t allowed to speak to reporters.

Phone-bank volunteers makes calls seeking support for Hillary Clinton at the Ohio Together Hillary Clinton campaign office in Newark, Ohio, earlier this month.
Phone-bank volunteers makes calls seeking support for Hillary Clinton at the Ohio Together Hillary Clinton campaign office in Newark, Ohio, earlier this month. PHOTO: PAUL VERNON/ASSOCIATED PRESS

That same night, the Clinton campaign’s Toledo office was buzzing with supporters, such as retired autoworker Linda Kulwicki, who was making phone calls to voters until after 10 p.m. A Portman office on Toledo’s west side—one of 11 the senator operates independently of the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee—also stayed open until 10 p.m.

Mr. Trump’s Ohio state director, Bob Paduchik, said Trump volunteers don’t have to be in offices to help the campaign. He said Trump volunteers can make calls from their homes. “I think that we’ve had a much better grass-roots approach here in Ohio that allows us to excite people and energize our volunteers and supporters in ways that Democrats struggle to do so,” he said.
A strong turnout operation can be worth up to 3 percentage points in a close state, said David Plouffe, the architect of President Barack Obama’s national campaigns. “The best way to get someone who is not sure they’re going to come out is to have a human talk to them,” Mr. Plouffe said. “In a close race that can matter.”

The Clinton campaign has more than 300 staffers working from 57 offices in Ohio. The Trump campaign, which wouldn’t reveal its tally of Ohio staff members, has delegated much of the nuts-and-bolts of voter outreach to the RNC, which has 112 staffers in the state in 31 offices it shares with local party officials and the Trump campaign.

“They’re starting to do the things that you would see in a presidential campaign but they are behind where they should be and far behind where Secretary Clinton is,” said John Weaver, the political strategist for Ohio’s GOP Gov. John Kasich. “You need a long runway to be as effective as possible and they don’t have that runway.”

When a Portman volunteer canvassed likely Republican voters one afternoon last week in a well-to-do neighborhood in the Toledo suburb of Maumee, she encountered people who have been in frequent contact with the senator’s campaign but have yet to hear from Mr. Trump’s people.

Chris Uecker, a 36-year-old pilot for Delta Air Lines, said he has voted for Republicans in each presidential election since 2000. He said he’d vote for Mr. Portman but isn’t yet sold on Mr. Trump, with whose campaign he’s had no contact.

The Clinton campaign and the super PAC backing it, Priorities USA Action, have reserved $16.5 million in advertising time between this week and Election Day. Mr. Trump’s campaign has reserved $1.25 million on the Ohio airwaves.

The National Rifle Association bought an additional $2.7 million on Ohio TV to attack Mrs. Clinton. No other pro-Trump super PACs have bought Ohio advertising, according to a person monitoring campaign advertising spending.

Mr. Portman, meanwhile, is courting voters who don’t typically vote for Republicans. Last week his campaign announced it is spending $250,000 in advertising on Spanish-language TV, even though just 3.6% of Ohioans are Hispanic. It is also advertising heavily in local newspapers that cater to Ohio’s black communities.

“We’re very proud of the robust organization we’ve built over the past two years across all of Ohio’s 88 counties,” said Corry Bliss, Mr. Portman’s campaign manager. “With the help of thousands of volunteers and interns, we have contacted over four million targeted voters and our outreach will help all Republicans running in 2016.”

The Trump campaign has a fractious relationship with Mr. Kasich, the state’s popular GOP governor who defeated Mr. Trump in this year’s GOP primary. He has refused to endorse Mr. Trump or vouch for him to suburban voters who remain skeptical of the nominee. Earlier this month, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus suggested Mr. Kasich may be barred from running for the GOP nomination for president again because he has refused to back Mr. Trump.

There also has been tension between the Trump campaign and local RNC officials. One RNC Ohio communications directors quit because he refused to work to elect Mr. Trump and another left because the Trump campaign demanded to vet all of his discussions with reporters. There has been no RNC communications director in place for Ohio since August.

Several attendees interviewed at Mr. Trump’s Toledo rally said they haven’t had much contact with his campaign beyond fundraising solicitations.

Marilyn Caputo, a retired baker from Monclova, said she’s donated to the campaign but didn’t hear about his rally from Trump officials. “I heard about it in the newspaper,” she said.

Write to Reid J. Epstein at


Kasich criticizes Trump without mentioning Trump

By Randy Ludlow
The Columbus Dispatch  •  Wednesday September 28, 2016 7:34 PM

Ohio Gov. John Kasich may have had a flashback to those snowy days in New Hampshire and Michigan this afternoon while talking foreign policy and national security before about 300 people.

The second-term governor and unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate addressed a forum sponsored by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

Kasich never used the name of the GOP presidential candidate he battled in the primaries and refuses to support — Donald Trump — but he made not-so-subtle digs at the top of his party’s ticket.

“If we run down NATO, we’re making a horrible mistake … NATO is critical to us,” Kasich said.

Trump has questioned the effectiveness, and future, of NATO and called out other countries during his debate Monday with Democrat Hillary Clinton for failing to pay their fair share in militarily protecting themselves and member countries.

“Anybody who would wink and nod at Vladimir Putin about the future of Ukraine, you think about that for a second,” Kasich said in an apparent reference to Trump’s kind remarks about the Russian president.

“If NATO gets weak, if we lift sanctions, if we don’t really stand tough about what they have done in Crimea … how many people will be enslaved (in Ukraine) and how many decades we will they live like that?”

Kasich also seemingly criticized both Trump and Clinton on trade. The governor recently joined President Barack Obama at the White House to support the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement opposed by the candidates. “We don’t have a right as a nation to retreat from the world. What are we, crazy?” Kasich asked.

Kasich called for the United States to send a strong international message that it will not tolerate terrorism, saying whether it involves the military or diplomacy, the U.S. must make it known to the “radicals and crazies in this world that we will not tolerate them.”

He called for winning over “those people who sit on the fence, who cannot believe deep inside their souls that slaughtering innocent people in airports or in trains or running them over with a car is not the way civilization is ever going to work and they’re not going anywhere but to the depths of hell for that.”

America must project itself as a force for good in the world, the governor said. “The world needs us to lead and we ourselves can never afford to shrink from that,” he said.

The forum also heard from Robert Gates, a former CIA director and the secretary of defense under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2006 to 2011.

Gates, who has claimed Trump is “beyond repair,” lamented that America has allowed humanitarian and other aid to foreign counties to diminish when they are needed to help build hope and democracy from the ground up.

“We have unilaterally disarmed when it comes to the other tools in the national security tool kit other than hammers,” Gates said. “The only tool left in the kit is the military … and the greater willingness of American presidents to use the military not as a last resort, but as a first option.”

Gates was not asked any political questions, but was questioned about what advice he would give the nation’s new commander-in-chief.

He replied that the next president should surround himself or herself with a good staff, one willing to challenge him or her, and not appoint a cabinet that largely consists of “paying off political debts.”