Pakistan Economy & Budget; NIA Pathankot Report; Hillary v Trump

How’s Pakistani economy doing? Is it gaining strength? How are the major economic indicators looking? What are Nawaz Sharif government’s economic priorities? How has it allocated spending in budget 2016-17 presented to National Assembly by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar? Why does Pakistan rely almost entirely on indirect taxation to raise revenue? Why is there such disproportionate burden for revenue placed on the poor and the middle-income Pakistanis? Why is the taxation system in Pakistan so regressive? What needs to be done to broaden the tax net to increase revenue and make the taxation system more fair. What should the provincial governments do? Should they impose at least a modest agriculture income tax and various service taxes to raise revenue?

How did the Indian National Investigation Agency conclude that Pakistan and its agencies had no role in Pathankot incident in India? Why are they now backtracking from this conclusion? What evidence of India-Pakistan border breach do they have to implicate Pakistani nationals in the incident? Or is it just Indian media hype, part of the Indian government propaganda by some elements to unfairly malign Pakistan?

What are Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton's strategies for the general elections in November 2016? Can Trump win by attacking minorities and women? Why the did Trump so personally and viciously attack US Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez? Will Hillary’s strategy of questioning Trump’s temperament to be US president work? Will she use fear of mercurial Trump’s potential actions as president with his finger on the nuclear button to scare off voters from the Republican candidate?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (

Pakistan Economy & Budget; NIA Pathankot Report... by ViewpointFromOverseas

Pakistan Economy & Budget; NIA Pathankot Report; Hillary v Trump from Ikolachi on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan FDI Soaring as CPEC Gets Underway

Pathankot Attack in India

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Talk4Pak Think Tank

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Riaz Haq said…
Top 3 #EmergingMarkets to Place Money on: #Pakistan, #India, Central & Eastern #Europe Now via @barronsonline

INVESTORS SHOULD POKE AROUND for opportunities in these markets in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe rather than in Latin America.

Pakistan: MSCI says it will announce a decision this month on reclassifying Pakistan from a frontier market to emerging market. Its GDP is expected to grow at a 4.7% clip in the 2016 fiscal year, and its leaders are discussing economic progress with the International Monetary Fund as a $6.6 billion loan package expires this year. The Global X MSCI Pakistan ETF (PAK), while up 13% this year, is down about 5% over the past 12 months.

India: The health of the economy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is set to visit the U.S. this coming week, defies anxiety about bad bank loans and doubts about India’s recalibrated GDP calculations. Standard & Poor’s lowered its credit ratings on Indian Overseas Bank and Bank of India last week, but expects the government to continue to infuse state-run banks with capital. The Reserve Bank of India recently eased restrictions on foreign ownership of private lenders, which should help weaker banks. We reiterate our February recommendation, HDFC Bank (HDB), up 6% this year.

Central and Eastern Europe: These economies are likely to see 3% annual growth and outpace Russia, where the economy is set to slowly recover over the next year, according to Capital Economics. The firm expects Romania’s economy to be among the region’s best performers in 2016. Poland may grow at a 3% clip this year, but political turmoil and inflation bear watching. The SPDR S&P Emerging Europe ETF (GUR) is up 13% so far this year, despite a heavy dose of Russian and Turkish assets.

Where is caution appropriate? Argentina. Wells Fargo last week suggested avoiding Argentina’s stocks and bonds as the economy contracts under the weight of needed economic reform. The country devalued its currency, inflation spiked, and agricultural exports are suffering, with customer Brazil in sorry shape. The Global X MSCI Argentina ETF (ARGT) is up 17% in 2016.

Of course, all emerging assets will suffer if investors make a fast exit from developing-country bond markets, which have grown exponentially since previous cycles. But it’s likely the Fed’s trumpets have already heralded that move.
Riaz Haq said…
Growing fear inside #GOP about #Trump reminiscent of loss of #USCongress after #Goldwater's 1964 defeat @CNNPolitics

The GOP's deepest fear: A Barry Goldwater effect that could last far longer than Trump's political aspirations.
Goldwater, the Arizona senator who was the 1964 GOP nominee and a leader of the conservative movement, alienated a generation of African-American voters by opposing the Civil Rights Act -- opening the door for Democrats to lock in their support for decades. Republicans fret that Trump could similarly leave a stain with Latino voters.

"I am concerned about that," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Sunday.
"America is changing. When Ronald Reagan was elected, 84% of the electorate was white," McConnell said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "This November, 70% will be. It's a big mistake for our party to write off Latino Americans. And they're an important part of the country and soon to be the largest minority group in the country."
"I hope he'll change his direction on that," said McConnell, who first made the Goldwater comparison last week in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper.
That hasn't happened yet. In interviews Sunday, Trump wouldn't back away from his assertion that Curiel's parents' birth in Mexico has left the judge angry over Trump's proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and biased in the legal case over Trump University. Trump even went further, saying on CBS' "Face the Nation" that he'd have similar concerns over a Muslim judge, since he has proposed banning all Muslims from entering the United States.
Trump's remarks led to condemnations from the same leading Republicans that in recent weeks have embraced him -- and accepted that the party's fate in November is inextricably linked to his.
"I don't agree with what he had to say," McConnell said.

"This is a man who was born in Indiana," McConnell said of Curiel. "All of us came here from somewhere else. Almost all Americans are either near-term immigrants like my wife, who came here at age 8 not speaking a word of English, or the rest of us whose ancestors were risk-takers who came here and made this country great. That's an important part of what makes America work."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, just a day after announcing his endorsement of Trump, bashed him on a Wisconsin radio station.
"Look, the comment about the judge, just was out of left field for my mind," Ryan said Friday on WISN in Milwaukee. "It's reasoning I don't relate to, I completely disagree with the thinking behind that."
The criticism from McConnell and Ryan was predictable: Both preside over GOP majorities that are threatened thanks to competitive races in Latino-heavy states like Arizona, Nevada and Florida.
More surprising was the condemnation from Gingrich, who has transparently jockeyed for a spot on Trump's ticket.
"I don't know what Trump's reasoning was, and I don't care," Gingrich told The Washington Post. "His description of the judge in terms of his parentage is completely unacceptable."
Gingrich was even sharper on "Fox News Sunday," calling Trump's remarks "inexcusable."
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan farms in crisis as crop prices & farmers' incomes fall. #water #agriculture #economy -

Farmers’ incomes have fallen more than 25 per cent in the financial year to the end of June, according to projections by the country’s central bank. While partly due to a global plunge in commodity prices, critics say the problem has been exacerbated by the failure of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government to step in with support, and that the latest incentives for farmers are inadequate.
Meanwhile, the volume of Pakistan’s cotton crop has crashed by almost 30 per cent, spurring the first contraction in the value of the country’s agricultural output for more than two decades. At least 60 per cent of Pakistan’s 200m people rely directly or indirectly on farm incomes.
“The main issue has been a major drop in prices of crops,” Abida Hussain, a farm owner and former MP, told the Financial Times. “To stabilise agriculture, a way has to be found to deal with that fundamental issue.”
One western economist in Islamabad, who declined to be named, warned that a degraded irrigation network and dysfunctional research community was also hampering Pakistan’s agricultural sector.
“The irrigation system in places is so bad that farmers haven’t received even a drop of water from a canal just a few miles away,” he said. “The management is terrible”.
The focus on farm incomes comes just ahead of the conclusion of an IMF programme this year and despite an economic recovery that has seen gross domestic product growth rise to a forecast 4.7 per cent this year, up from an annual average of about 3 per cent during the five years to 2013.
Helped by a global drop in oil prices and increases in domestic electricity and gas tariffs, Mr Sharif’s government is expected to bring its annual fiscal deficit to about 5 per cent of GDP this financial year, down from 8.8 per cent when the government took charge in 2013. But analysts warned that the budgetary discipline enforced by the IMF may be jettisoned when the loan programme ends in September.
“The government has some of the right numbers for the moment,” said Sakib Sherani, a former adviser to the finance ministry. “But the budget could change after September and the government could adopt populist measures ahead of 2018.”
Riaz Haq said…
Dailytimes | #Pakistan cement industry focusing on captive power generation plants & sell excess - via @Shareaholic

The cement industry of Pakistan is turning towards power generation, which would not only cater to their needs but would also supply electricity to the national grid.

The outlook for the Pakistan cement industry is positive with expansion expected over the next few years. Key reasons include improved sector fundamentals backed by higher demand, cost efficiencies driven by lower international coal prices and captive power generation reducing energy costs, capacity expansions and low to minimal risk of cement price destabilisation. As a result, cement demand is forecast to grow by at least eight percent over the next five years (FY16-21) on the back of an average GDP growth of 4.7 percent.

The Invest and Finance Securities Limited, while reviewing the performance of seven local cement companies, stated that on the flip side, weakening exports (16 percent of total cement dispatches during 9MFY16) and electricity/gas tariff hikes have marginally impacted the industry dynamics. As part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative and an increased focus on infrastructure spending by the Pakistani government, around $44 billion in transport infrastructure and energy-related construction in the next 15 years - cement demand is predicted to be robust.

Pakistan currently has a cement production capacity of about 45Mta (with current capacity utilisation rates at 83 percent), which is expected to rise to around 52.5Mta
by FY19. Lucky Cement is setting up a 2.4Mta plant in Punjab, reflecting an investment of around Rs 21 billion. Acquisition of land and supplier confirmation is expected to conclude by the end of FY16. The expansion would take the company's existing capacity to over 10Mta. It would also bring a further 10MW waste heat recovery (WHR) power plant online by the end of 2016 besides expanding its international footprint in Congo and Iraq.

Meanwhile, DG Khan Cement is currently undertaking expansion in the southern zone with a 2.6Mta cement plant that is expected to come online in FY19. The company would also bring a 30MW coal-fired power plant and pursue further expansion in the south by FY18. Maple Leaf Cement, which has a cement production capacity of 3.4Mta in Iskanderabad District, Mianwali, is expected to bring a 40MW coal-fired power plant online by the end of FY17.

Fauji Cement Company's 3.4Mta plant is situated near Jhang Bahtar village, tehsil Fateh Jang, District Attock. The company started power generation from its 12MW WHR plant back in May 2015 and would reduce the cement producer's reliance on the national grid for its power supplies.

Cherat Cement Company Limited is currently carrying out a 1.3Mta expansion at its 1Mta plant at Lakrai Village, Nowshera. Following commissioning in FY17, the project would take the total nameplate capacity to 2.3Mt. In addition to its existing 6MW WHR plant, the company is undertaking installation of another 6MW WHR plant at its new production site.

Pioneer Cement Limited announced plans to install a 12MW plant at Chenki, Khushab, which would have an installed capacity of 2Mt. The company announced its plan to install a 12MW WHR plant at an estimated cost of Rs 1.5bn. The plant is expected to meet around 38 percent of the company's total electricity requirement resulting in enhancement of the margins.
Riaz Haq said…
#MSCI Emerging Index Adds #Pakistan, Snubs #China A-Shares from Mainland markets #EmergingMarkets … via @barronsonline

Stock indexer MSCI said Tuesday it won’t include mainland-Chinese A shares in its key emerging market index.

MSCI also said that Pakistan would be reclassified as an emerging market, coinciding with MSCI’s May 2017 semiannual review.

The Deutsche X-trackers Harvest CSI 300 China A-Shares exchange-traded fund (ASHR) slipped 2% after hours after rising more than 1% in regular trading Tuesday. The iShares China Large-Cap ETF (FXI), the largest U.S. ETF invested in Chinese equities, was also lower, down 0.5%. The Global X MSCI Pakistan ETF (PAK) was not moving after hours. The A-shares ETF is down 17% this year, while the larger China Large-Cap fund is down more than 6%. Pakistan stocks have rallied on the potential for inclusion, with a 12% rise so far this year.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan meets #tax revenue target of Rs 3 trillion (US$30 billion) for first time in 10 years - The Economic Times

Pakistan collected 3,104 billion rupees ($29.7 billion) in taxes in fiscal year 2015/16, the finance ministry said on Friday, the first time it has met its tax revenue target in a decade.

Last year, the government collected 2,588 billion rupees in taxes but missed its target by 9 percent.

Tax collection has been one of the biggest challenges facing successive governments who have promised to rein in tax evaders but faced fierce resistance to change, including from the ..

Read more at:
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's Liquid Foreign Reserves position: US$21.7 Billion

The total liquid foreign reserves held by the country stood at US$21,765.8 million on June 24, 2016, said weekly forex reserves report issued by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) here on Thursday.

The break-up of the foreign reserves position is as under:-

Foreign reserves held by the SBP:US$ 16,819.6 million, Net foreign reserves held by commercial banks:US$ 4,946.2 million, Total liquid foreign reserves: US$ 21,765.8 million.

During the week ending June 24, 2016, SBP's Liquid FX Reserves increased by US$ 4 million to US$16,820 million, compared to US$16,816 million in the previous week.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's high import tariff prevents #wheat imports. Government's high procurement price prevents exports

Pakistan procured 6 million tonnes of wheat from the recently concluded wheat harvest, significantly lower than the 7.05 million tonnes target that was announced prior to the onset of harvest, but approximately 1 million tonnes higher than a year ago. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) said in a July 1 report. Total procurement is just 24% of the estimated total crop. At this point, Pakistan is effectively cut off from the international wheat market as high procurement prices make exports uncompetitive and a high tariff prevents imports.

Over the past four years, public sector wheat procurement has ranged between 5 million tonnes to 6 million tonnes annually. With around 4 million tonnes in carryover stocks this year’s procurement will boost public stock levels to around 10 million tonnes shortly after the start of the marketing year, similar to the levels reached during the past two years.

The estimate of 2016 wheat production is unchanged at 25.3 million tonnes. About 25% of Pakistani wheat growers produce a marketable surplus that amounts to an estimated 50% of the crop or 12 million tonnes to 13 million tonnes. The government and private sector typically split the surplus with each purchasing about half of the marketed crop, although, as mentioned above, government procurement was just 24% of the crop this year. The balance of the crop remains on farm for local consumption. The government’s role in the procurement of the harvest is generally sufficient to influence market prices, creating an effective price floor in the domestic wheat market.

Pakistan, through the provincial food departments and the federal Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO), procures wheat from farmers at the support price and then releases wheat for sale to flour mills at the government’s fixed issue price. The system aims to protect farmers from price fluctuations and ensure a minimum return to farmers and encourages wheat production. The Pakistani government maintained the wheat support price for the market year 2016-17 crop, at 1,300 rupees per 40 kilograms ($310 per tonne). The government spent approximately $1.8 billion for wheat procurement this year, much of it financed through loans that will be paid back when the wheat is sold to the private sector. Some wheat stocks are used to feed communities that have been displaced from their homes due to conflict and some is sold as flour at reduced rates to consumers via low-priced, government-run utility stores.

As global wheat prices have declined, Pakistan’s high sales price for publicly-held stocks has resulted in limited export buyer interest. In January 2015, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet approved a subsidy of $55 per tonne for Punjab and $45 per tonne for Sindh for Islamabad three months to cover exports of up to 1.2 million tonnes of wheat. The deadline was extended twice until Sept 30, 2015. ...

Afghanistan has been the main wheat export market for Pakistan for many years mainly due to easy accessibility and traditional trade linkages between the two countries. Given the present trend, Pakistan’s market year 2016-17 wheat flour exports to Afghanistan are forecast to be 700,000 tonnes (wheat equivalent).

The domestic wheat market has been insulated from imports by a 40% regulatory duty. With a high tariff and high domestic prices, Pakistan continues to be isolated from the international wheat market. The tariff is well below Pakistan’s bound tariff rate (the maximum tariff rate Pakistan can establish) for wheat of 150%. Consequently, Pakistan is not likely to import any significant quantity of wheat during market year 2016-17.
Riaz Haq said…
Increase in Pakistan’s energy consumption depicts higher economic activities

Pakistan's primary energy consumption increased by 5.9 percent to 78.2 million ton oil equivalent (MTOE) in 2015, compared with 73.2MTOE in 2014 depicting higher economic activities.

According to the statistical data of British Petroleum on energy use around the world, the primary energy consumption in China grew by 1.12 percent from 2014 to 2015 that has resulted in slowdown in China’s economy. India’s primary energy consumption increased by 5.1 percent during the same period which is lower than that of Pakistan. Indian GDP growth, though highest in the world remains much below the peaks it attained at the start of this decade.

The fuels consumed for producing primary energy show that in 2014, Pakistan consumed 22.8MTOE of oil that increased to 25.2MTOE in 2015. Its natural gas use also increased from 37.7MTOE in 2014 to 39.0MTOE in 2015. The consumption of coal remained the same at 4.7MTOE in both years.

According to the report, electricity consumption in Pakistan increased from 96.2 terawatt-h in 2008 110.0 terawatt-h in 2015. The increase was restricted to 99.3 terawatt-h till 2012; showing cumulative increase of 4 percent only, but in the next three years the consumption cumulatively increased by 10.7 percent of which 2.7 percent increase was in 2015 over 2014. Indian electricity consumption in comparison increased more robustly being 833.4 terawatt-h in 2008 that increased to 1,304.8 terawatt-h in 2015.

India produces 45.5MTOE from natural gas, 407.2MTOE from coal that is 100 times more than the primary energy that Pakistan derives from coal. Its hydro electric generation is 8.6MTOE. It derives 15.5MTOE from renewable that is 30 times more than what Pakistan obtains from renewable. The primary energy obtained by China from natural gas is 177.6MTOE, from coal it is a whopping 19,203MTOE. Its hydro electric energy amounts to 254.9MTOE, nuclear 38.6MTOE and renewable 62.7MTOE. The renewable energy extracted by China is equivalent to 60 percent of the total energy produced in Pakistan.

Bangladesh in 2008 consumed only 34.2 terawatt-h electricity that was almost 1/3rd of the power consumption in Pakistan. In 2015 the gap was reduced to 60 percent of the power consumed in Pakistan. Bangladesh is exporting much more than Pakistan despite low power use because it adds high value to its apparel. The power requirement of the garment industry is nominal when compared with spinning, weaving and processing that produce low value-added textiles exported by Pakistan. The electricity consumption in China increased to 5,810 terawatt-h in 2015 compared with 3495 terawatt-h in 2008.

Coal, wind and solar energy are the cheapest source of energy around the world. Wind and solar along with hydro electricity are the cleanest energy fuels. China fulfilled 1,920MTOE of its energy needs from coal, India 388.7MTOE, and Pakistan only 4.7MTOE. Coal use for energy production is confined only to the private sector in Pakistan. Around 3,000MW coal based power plants are expected to be commissioned by 2019 after which share of coal in the energy mix would substantially increase. Wind power consumption in China was 41MTOE in 2015, it was 9.4MTOE in India and only 0.1MTOE in Pakistan. Solar power production in 2015 was 8.9MTOE in China, 1.5MTOE in India and only 0.3MTOE in Pakistan. Pakistan is also on the course to double its hydro electric production to over 16,000MW by the end of 2021.
Riaz Haq said…
From #Modi's Guru Golwalkar to #GOP's #Trump: #India's #Hindu Nationalists Cheer & Pray for #Trump. #Islamophobia

INDIA’S Hindu right is desperately seeking a role in the American elections even if it’s a walk-on appearance in a crowd scene. It asks if its right-wing friends from Israel can tip the balance in a keen American contest, why can’t the Hindu right be at least a cheerleader. After being rapped on the knuckles by Barack Obama a few times — following the cordial talks with Prime Minister Modi in Delhi, for example — the Hindu right wants a less censorious incumbent in the White House. Public prayers and weird voodoo rituals have been invoked to boost the chances of Donald Trump.

The two have much in common. Mr Trump claims to speak for core American values, passing off contrived fear for nationalist fervour. In India, the Hindu right has laid claim to defining — rather, it has been allowed by a somnolent opposition to prescribe — what is nationalist and what isn’t. Someone’s stand on the Kashmiri uprising is the signal for praise or rebuke. They both hate Muslims. And, as Mr Trump’s aversion of Latinos expands his arena of nurtured prejudices the Hindu right targets the tribal communities of the northeast.

Hindtuva goons, raised on political patronage, periodically bludgeon Manipuri and other people from the northeast in Delhi and elsewhere. Mr Trump’s veiled fear of African Americans mutates in India into physical assaults on students and visitors of dark complexion. As with Muslims and Dalits, African residents find it difficult to rent a house in Delhi.

Mr Trump and the Hindu right have a common ancestor too: Adolf Hitler. As such, they are joined at the hip in their biases. About Muslims, Trump says: “They’re not coming to this country if I’m president. And if Obama has brought some to this country they are leaving, they’re going, they’re gone.”

Trump and the Hindu right have a common ancestor: Adolf Hitler. As such, they are joined at the hip in their biases.
As his wife plagiarised from Michelle Obama’s speech, Trump borrowed without attribution from Guru Golwakar’s book We or Our Nationhood Defined. The early pioneer of the Hindu right wrote: “The non-Hindu people of Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and language, must learn and respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but of those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture ... In a word, they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment — not even citizens’ rights.”

There was a notable difference though. Golwalkar’s reference to non-Hindu people included Indian Christians. This should not deter any alliance of two utterly right-wing demagogues. After all, Golwakar’s praise of Germany’s treatment of Jews didn’t deter his followers from bonding with right-wing leaders in Israel.

“To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races — the Jews,” Golwalkar wrote with approval. “Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by. Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening.”
Riaz Haq said…
Berkeley Rep casts a vote with Sinclair Lewis' ‘It Can’t Happen Here’ featuring Trump-like main character Buzz Windrip:

“We’ve got to change our system!” “Smash the crooked labor leaders!” “Make America a proud, rich land again!” They sound like the rants of a certain current Republican nominee. But they’re actually the ravings of Sen. Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, the villainous presidential candidate in Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 novel “It Can’t Happen Here.”
The tale’s uncanny similarities to the current election, with demagogue Windrip pandering to the electorate’s basest instincts, inspired Berkeley Rep to adapt the novel into a new play that opens the company’s season on Friday, Sept. 30.
After their originally scheduled play dropped out, Artistic Director Tony Taccone and Associate Director Lisa Peterson decided to mount a political work in parallel with the election. “It was February,” Taccone recalls in a sunny room at Berkeley Rep’s offices. “Trump was gaining enough traction that you were like, ‘Oh, that’s curious.’ The book started to get referenced in articles about him.”
“I Googled ‘it can’t happen here,’ thinking, is that a thing?” says Peterson, who also directs the production. “Then we read that it had a theatrical history.” They had unwittingly dusted off an 80-year-old exemplar of political performance.

Lewis is better known for the novels “Main Street,” “Elmer Gantry” and “Babbitt,” as well as a 1930 Nobel Prize in Literature and a 1926 Pulitzer Prize that Lewis declined for “Arrowsmith.”
But “It Can’t Happen Here,” a cautionary tale about the rise of fascism through the American democratic process, was a best-seller in an era when Mussolini led Italy and Hitler was consolidating power in Germany. The complacent American populace is represented by protagonist Doremus Jessup, a Vermont newspaperman who realizes too late that it can, indeed, happen here.
Capitalizing on the book’s popularity, the Federal Theatre Project, an endeavor of the Works Progress Administration, commissioned Lewis and screenwriter John C. Moffitt to adapt it for the stage. And in a stroke of ambition not seen before or since, it premiered in 22 theaters, across 18 states, on Oct. 27, 1936.
Each locale interpreted the script in its own way, including a San Francisco version peppered with air-raid sound effects, Yiddish adaptations in New York and Los Angeles, an African American version in Seattle, and a Spanish translation in Tampa, Fla. (Lewis himself did a turn as Jessup in a Massachusetts summer-stock run in 1938.) Along with providing theater professionals with several months of desperately needed work, the productions entertained more than 500,000 people nationwide and doubled as antifascist propaganda.
But, Taccone says, “It was a terrible play. It was super-melodramatic and didn’t really tie to the book.” Many critics savaged it for those same reasons, but John Hobart praised the San Francisco production, presented at the Columbia Theater (now the ACT’s Geary Theater), in his review for The Chronicle. Describing it as a “taut drama” and “probably the most ‘important’ production the Federalites have yet put on,” he also made the wide-eyed observation that Windrip “combines the chief characteristics of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin with some of the less admirable qualities particular to the third-rate American politician.”
Nonetheless, Taccone and Peterson decided to go back to the source. “The novel’s got a very witty voice, and Lewis’ understanding of American politics was fantastic,” he says, and he and screenwriter Bennett S. Cohen wrote a new script with today’s social climate in mind. “The messenger was different back then,” he explains. “The world had not encountered Hitler yet, but now we are so aware. We talked a lot about how this (story) can still be impactful.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Kashmir: Can #Trump solve one of the world’s most intractable conflicts? VP-Elect Pence says YES. via @qzindia

On NBC News’ Meet The Press on Dec. 04, Pence was pressed by journalist Chuck Todd on the incoming Trump administration’s stance on Pakistan. Here’s a transcript of the conversation:
Chuck Todd: So let me jump to Pakistan. The Pakistan prime minister on Thursday, here is the headline in the front page of the international news in Karachi, “Trump says ready to play role in resolution of issues.” So let me ask you, is he offering to mediate border disputes? The pri– I guess Pakistan wanted to imply that, that he was offering to mediate border disputes between Pakistan and India. Is that what he was trying to say?
Mike Pence: Well, clearly there’s been great tension between India and Pakistan in recent days. It’s resulted in violence along the Kashmir region. And I think what the president-elect expressed in conversations with leaders on both countries was a desire for continued US engagement on building the relationship with both of those countries. These are two nuclear powers–
Todd: Right.
Pence: –the president-elect recognises that. And making sure that, that they know that when this administration takes office, that we intend to be fully engaged in the region and fully engaged with both nations to advance peace and security.
Todd: To be a mediator in deciding Kashmir?
Pence: Well, I think, I think, I think in president-elect Donald Trump you’ve got someone who, who is prepared to advance America’s interests here at home, to rebuild this economy, to fight for American jobs. But I think you’re also going to see an energetic leadership in the world, prepared to engage and to look for ways that he can bring those extraordinary deal-making skills to bear on lessening tensions and solving problems in the world.

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