Nel's New Day

October 17, 2019

DDT: Kurds Need to be ‘Cleaned Out’

Eleven days after Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) blew up the Middle East by pulling 50 U.S. service members helping Kurds in northern Syria, he declares victory by allowing Turkey to take over northern Syria and drive the Kurds, U.S. allies, from their land (green area). In the “agreement,” the U.S. will help Turkey fight “terrorists” (the term that Turkey uses for all Kurds) and protect the “safe zone” (the Kurdish land).

Because of DDT’s telephone call with Turkey, hundreds of ISIS supporters, including many leaders, have escaped from camps where the Kurds were keeping them, and U.S. troops were attacked by Turkey, supposedly a NATO ally of the U.S.

The end result for the United States is that ISIS now has a place to rebuild its forces, the world knows that the U.S. is unreliable, and DDT supported another autocrat. The U.S. even bombed its own base in an attempt to avoid embarrassment about its disorganized pullout. Europeans also further separate themselves from the United States. 

Tonight, DDT stayed indifferent to the plight of a former U.S. ally by saying that the area earlier occupied by Kurds has been “cleaned out,” a term for genocide. About the conflict that he generated, DDT said, “Sometimes you have to let them fight. It’s like two kids in a lot, you got to let them fight and then you pull them apart.” In this case, the “fight” displaced over 100,000 Kurds, causing them to lose their homes and killing many of them, while permitting Turkey to annex part of Syria. 

Turkey got everything it wanted, and DDT gave Vladimir Putin another favor. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said Trump’s decision to abandon Kurdish allies in Syria “will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history.” Brett McGurk, former civilian head of the administration’s U.S.-led counter-IS campaign, wrote that the deal was a gift to the Turks “with no ability to meaningfully influence facts on the ground” and “non-implementable.”

VP Mike Pence and State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo brokered the deal that gave away Syrian land to Turkey. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was far more clear about the strategy, saying that the only reason for the 120-hour hiatus was to allow Kurds to flee their homes. The U.S. has no way to monitor the agreement, and ISIS will have the land to build their forces.

Every day since DDT’s call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been a disaster as he moved between surprise and disaster. His October 6 proclamation showed that he knew Turkey would attack the Kurds. Twelve hours later he threatened Turkey and then said that any conflict was not his problem. Three days later he wrote Erogan a letter that looks like a joke from beginning: 

“Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people ….”

To his conclusion: “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!” 

After nine days, he doubled tariffs on steel, increasing the percentage to the same as last May which had caused imports to sharply fall by 76 percent. He also lied about putting tariffs on the $100 billion in trade: reality is closer to $24 billion. DDT imposed sanctions on Turkey’s defense and energy ministries, as well as some high-profile Turkish officials. With these ineffectual measures, a bipartisan congressional coalition considered targeting Erdogan’s U.S. assets and suspending U.S. military support. For months, senators worked on bipartisan sanctions required by law to punish Turkey’s purchase of an advanced Russian antimissile system.

ISIS has reason to thank DDT: U.S. air surveillance turned from them to U.S. troops in an attempt to protect them from attacks by Turkey. Earlier this week, DDT tweeted:

“After defeating 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, I largely moved our troops out of Syria. Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land. I said to my Generals, why should we be fighting for Syria….”

As usual, DDT lied. The caliphate is not defeated, and DDT didn’t single-handedly win any victories.

Iran also benefits from DDT’s laissez faire toward the crisis. Monday, he tweeted indifference about the conflict because we are 7,000 miles away!” Russia moved into the vacuum that DDT left in northern Syria into a military outpost that the U.S. abandoned, and Vladimir Putman may be replacing DDT in Saudi Arabia, as indicated by Putin’s meeting with King Salman. China, alienated by DDT’s trade war, has reached out to Russia, and India is being folded into their partnership. Russia and China have joined in military exercises for joint power, and they work together in energy and aerospace. India’s external affairs minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, has said for two years that his country needs a relationship of “stability,” which doesn’t represent the United States. Together China, Russia, and India comprise over 36 percent of the world’s population; the United States has under 5 percent.

DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has also taken a part in Turkey in Erdogan’s desired attempted extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, hoping to send Gulen back to his death in Turkey. Living in exile for the past 20 years in Pennsylvania, Gulen is blamed for plotting the 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan but denied any involvement in the plot. White House aides worried that Giuliani is working on behalf of the Turkish government. DDT frequently questioned officials about why Gulen shouldn’t be turned over to “my friend” Erdogan although officials explained that the extradition was illegal and would politically damage DDT. Giuliani’s aggressive work at Gulen’s extradition began after Michael Flynn, in prison for lying about his paid work for Turkey, lobbied DDT for the same purpose. Giuliani was also behind the attempt to stop prosecution of a Turkish Iranian man for money laundering which could violate lobbying laws.  

Advisers had told DDT that not doing anything about the Kurdish issue is costly, the lack of U.S. presence in the region strengthens Iran, and he will be politically damaged by the deteriorating situation. Another problem with Turkey is that the U.S. has stored as many as 50 nuclear weapons in the country at Incirlik, public knowledge because DDT frequently discloses sensitive information. On Wednesday, he appeared to confirm information about the weapons’ location which the U.S. attempts to hide. DDT claimed the weapons were safe because “we have a great air base there—a very powerful air base.” According to Vipin Narang, a nuclear proliferation expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Incirlik is Turkey’s air base.”

DDT has caused deaths in the United States with his endorsement of violence. Now he tacitly grants Turkey the right to kill Kurds. In the humanitarian disaster of the Turkish invasion, at least 100,000 Kurds have been displaced. Last weekend, Turkish-backed military executed Kurds, including a women human-rights activist. In 2018, when DDT was resistant to U.S. troops in Syria, the Pentagon and State Department persuaded Kurds not to plan for a U.S. departure. Without this betrayal, Kurds could have eased out of the relationship and moved on to a partnership with Syria and Russia. Instead, they were forced into a crisis.

Once again, DDT demonstrated his indifference to human life when he said yesterday that the Kurds would be fine because they “know how to fight.” He added, “There’s a lot of sand they can play with.” In a meeting with congressional leaders, he called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) a “third-grade politician” and referred to former Defense Secretary James Mattis the “world’s most overrated general” after the House bipartisan resolution criticizing DDT’s pulling troops out of northern Syria. The vote was 354 to 60 with three Republicans and independent Rep. Justin Amash (MI) voting present. Although the GOP leadership were among the 129 Republican supporting the resolution, opposition came from the leaders of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, the co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus Tom Reed (R-NY), and VP Mike Pence’s brother Greg Pence (R-IN).  

In his delusion, DDT claimed that he himself “captured” the Islamic State after accusing Mattis not being “tough enough.” He falsely declared that U.S. soldiers “are totally safe” although they were “bracketed” by artillery fire by Turkey, supposedly a NATO ally, and may need to be airlifted away from Turkish attacks. DDT pulled out military forces with no contingency plan, no idea of how to rescue the troops under attack.

DDT briefly broke up his beautiful friendship sometime sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who said that DDT “will have American blood on his hands if he abandons Kurds because ISIS will come back, and if any American is killed anywhere because a resurgent ISIS, it will fall on the Trump administration like it did Obama.” Like other tiffs between DDT and Graham, the senator will likely back off: he thinks he needs DDT to get reelected next year. 

The goal of Republicans now is to convince their base, including the evangelicals, that killing the Kurds is a good idea.

 

March 26, 2019

Nuclear Buildup – World Extermination

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 11:19 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Most people in the U.S. today don’t remember the drills in public schools in which young people were told to practice hiding under their desks in case of a nuclear attack. That practice may return—along with all those “active shooting” exercises that physically injure teachers—with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the Oval Office. The Pentagon wants to spend $1.7 trillion to rebuild every piece of its nuclear arsenal, including some that were banned by the Russia-U.S. Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty until DDT dumped the agreement. Sort of like getting rid of agreements to help curb climate change, keep Iran from nuclearization, eliminate relationships with previous allies in NATO, etc. The Pentagon goal is also add far more terrifying ones after National “security” adviser John Bolton orchestrated the withdrawal from the INF and tries to scuttle the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia, up for renewal in 2021. Peace to hawkish Republicans and military leaders is comprised of gigantic stores of doomsday bombs and missiles that follow DDT’s philosophy of threats and intimidation.

Over a year ago, the Pentagon released its first official strategic policy since the April 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). The role of nuclear weapons has transferred from reduction of nuclear weapons’ role to expansion and new “low-yield” munitions, intended to use against conventional forces. The new NPR claims that Russia and China have improved their nuclear powers although Russia reduced the number of its deployed nuclear warheads and China has made little upgrades to its relatively small stockpile. During the last decade, the Pentagon has spent $22 billion to upgrades.

The Pentagon’s plans “strategic” nuclear weapons aimed at other nuclear-armed countries in addition to the gravity bombs stored in Europe for air delivery against ground forces and installations. The goal is to obliterate countries if the Pentagon wishes. The result would be nuclear winter in which a cloud covers the sun for years or decades, finishing off human civilization. Robert Lamb’s description:

“Suddenly, the sky blazes with the radiance of a thousand suns. Millions of lives burn to ash and shadow. Finally, as nuclear firestorms incinerate cities and fo­rests, torrents of smoke ascend into the atmosphere to entomb the planet in billowing, black clouds of ash. The result is noontime darkness, plummeting temperatures. and the eventual death of life on planet Earth.”

The U.S. military follows the triad system: ground-based ICBMs, submarine-borne SLBMs, and long range bombers. If one fails, the others could still fight an enemy. Because submarines are the most effective, nuclear strategists have argued for eliminating one or two of the triad, but the Pentagon plans to keep the triad on the basis of faith, not practicality.

The New Start treaty blocked the U.S. strategic arsenal to the same level as Russia—a maximum of 700 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and nuclear-armed long-range bombers. The U.S. has 400 silo-based Minuteman III ICBMs, each carrying one warhead; 280 multiple-warhead Trident II D5 SLBMs carried aboard 12 Ohio-class submarines, each capable of firing 20 missiles; and 20 B-2 stealth bombers, each capable of carrying 16 gravity bombs, plus up to 46 B-52H bombers, each capable of delivering 20 nuclear-armed, air-launched cruise missiles.

In addition to replacing the entire arsenal, the Pentagon plans to get a large number of low-yield weapons—large enough to destroy Hoboken (NY) but not all of New York City—to oppose enemy combat formations, command centers, and other battlefield components. These are needed, according to the Pentagon, to keep DDT from starting with nuclear war. Russia would never swallow such garbage thinking, but the Pentagon thinks that these “smaller” weapons are more coercive.  Plans for these weapons include use against a cyberattack on U.S. command-and-control facilities and preemptive attacks on Russian and Chinese military assets. A March 13 announcement indicates flight-testing two such weapons in August if DDT has completed the withdrawal from INF.

The $1.7 trillion cost for these plans—designing, producing, deploying, and maintaining for 30 years—that doesn’t include overruns is over double the total military budget for one year. The U.S. already has more accurate and flexible weapons that the proposed ones, weapons more useful in early use for a crisis situation. The Pentagon plan is a dangerous shift in the nation’s nuclear strategy with a focus on nuclear weapons for threats and war. About nuclear weapons, DDT said, “Why are we making them [if we don’t use them]?” Humanitarian costs are far over these trillions of dollars, causing the UN to adopt a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017 which bans the production, possession, deployment, and use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear-armed countries including the United States have not signed the Ban Treaty.

For decades, the Pentagon has had no audit to assess its spending, and the Iraq War has added the Overseas Contingency Operations account (OCO), a slush fund with tens of billions of dollars because it has no cap. The government uses this budget line to pay for projects not funded through the regular process. DDT may put $174 billion into this war budget for 2020, approximately the same as the peak for both Afghanistan and Iraq wars although current troop commitments are ten percent of the 200,000 members deployed to the two countries at the height of the conflict. The military knows that the Pentagon is the sacred cow—or the third rail—that no one dare touch, but it wastes at least $25 billion a year on excess overhead and another $24 billion with the use of 600,000 private contracts on jobs that could be done by civilian government personnel and not at all. Replacement of the overpriced, underperforming F-35 combat aircraft which may never be combat-ready could save another $2.4 billion in one year before billions of savings later. These savings are on top of cutting back the nuclear overkill to save hundreds of billions of dollars.

Ernest Moniz, President Obama’s former energy secretary and now CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), stated that “the risk of a nuclear weapon being used is now higher than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.” Of special concern is the corrosion of the Russia-U.S. arms agreement, ready to collapse with Bolton’s opposition to the New START treaty. In case of a cyberattack on command and control systems leading to a false attack warning, a president would have minutes to decide a response with limited information. The all-or-nothing denuclearization position toward North Korea, the U.S. has “miniscule” chances of success. The delivery of weapons doesn’t require missiles; a ship could bring them into a harbor. The number of nations with nuclear weapons could grow. About East Asia, Munoz said, “If some of [North Korea’s] neighbors lose confidence in our military backing for them, then there is a risk there as well.”

The past half century has seen a number of close calls in destroying the world. The most famous might be the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, but others were caused by the U.S. interpreting a moonrise in Greenland as a huge Soviet missile launch, a power outage, a solar flare, and computer errors.  Twelve years ago, six unprotected AGM-129 ACM cruise missiles, each loaded with a W80-1 variable yield nuclear warhead, were mistakenly moved from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana where they sat for nine hours until an observant supervisor notice the nuclear warheads.

In the 1950s, Daniel Ellsberg, known for revealing the Pentagon Papers in 1971, worked for the RAND corporation, a think tank providing research and analysis to the U.S. Armed Forces. While there, he had access to material about the U.S. nuclear policy, information along with later work for the Department of Defense and the White House that he finally revealed in his 2017 book, The Doomsday Machine. Despite the belief that only the president can authorize setting off nuclear weapons, he learned that President Eisenhower delegated this responsibility to senior regional commanders who passed it down the system to middle ranking officers. Codes were set at 000000, meaning anyone at higher levels of the Strategic Air Command could launch the arsenal. U.S. military chiefs talked about losses of 275 to 325 million along with the nuclear winter destroying most of the life on the planet. That’s how near the world is to extermination.

Schools of education might consider dusting off all those classes for prospective teachers in helping students hide under their desks.

 

March 1, 2019

DDT: Week 110 – Really Bad Week

Following Wednesday’s day-long open testimony before the House Oversight Committee by Michael Cohen, one-time fixer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), about how DDT runs his business, the grand summit in Vietnam with North Korea ended with a splat when a luncheon signing ceremony was canceled after the table was set. DDT’s tone about Kim Jong-Un was much cooler than his earlier declaration about the love affair with Kim Jong-Un. The U.S. had already stopped the need for a full accounting of North Korea nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. U.S. intelligence agencies continually maintain that North Korea does not intend to fully denuclearize.

As he earlier said about Vladimir Putin, DDT said, “I will take him at his word,” this time about Kim’s professed ignorance regarding U.S. citizen, Otto Warmbier, who was tortured in North Korea and was returned with severe brain damage. Warmbier died soon after his release. DDT failed to follow through with his promise to press Kim about human rights abuses: North Korea uses torture and “disappears” people accused of political crimes to prison camps where they cannot communicate the outside world. Before going to the summit, DDT asked Russia for advice on how to deal with North Korea, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was present in Hanoi during the summit. DDT also said he takes Kim “at his word” when he says he won’t be doing any testing of weapons. Kim one of several world dictators who DDT supports, sometimes believing them over U.S. intelligence: Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Journalists suffered from DDT’s ire, first forced to move their filing center from the hotel where they stayed because Kim wanted them out. DDT banned four reporters from covering an event—Associated Press, Bloomberg, LA Times, and Reuters—because questions were asked about Cohen’s testimony, showing a dictator that DDT has weakened the constitutional freedom of the press.

Before DDT went to North Korea, he said that he’s in “no rush” to denuclearize North Korea. His aides, including national security adviser John Bolton, predicted the summit would fail, and  Bruce Klingner, analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation, sees “no tangible progress” toward denuclearization since DDT’s meeting with Kim in Singapore. Klingner pointed out that periods of testing moratoriums were longer in previous administrations, and U.S. intelligence notes that North Korea is still building missiles. MIT nuclear expert Vipin Narang said, “We are nowhere. Which is probably exactly where the North Koreans want us to be.”

No longer is DDT falsely claiming that the U.S. has no nuclear threat from North Korea, as he did after the first meeting with Kim. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may have stopped this claim because he had to lie to CNN’s Jake Tapper about the first time that DDT made this outrageous statement. DDT kept asking Pompeo to explain details of the summit at the press conference before he left Hanoi.

Although DDT complained that the Cohen testimony took attention away from his North Korea summit, he should have been grateful because of his failure in Hanoi. He bragged that Michael Cohen had said “no collusion,” but Cohen reported that DDT knew about the Trump Tower meeting to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, Roger Stone got the Democratic emails from Julian Assange, and nothing went on at the Trump Organization—and probably the campaign—without DDT’s approval.

DDT’s most recent failure comes the disclosure of memos from two White House officials refuting his claim that he had nothing to do with the highest-level security clearance given to his son-in-law Jared Kushner in spite of intelligence officials’ warning against it. Former chief-of-staff John Kelly wrote a memo about how he was “ordered” to give a clearance to Kushner, and former White House counsel Don McGahn wrote a memo about security concerns regarding Kushner that had been raised by the CIA and a recommendation that he not be granted the clearance. Both of those men are gone, but Kushner is still harvesting the highest-level classified information for his personal financial benefit. Kushner also advised the Saudi Crown Prince how to avoid the blame for his murdering U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and amid this week’s controversy, Kushner had a friendly meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince. This fiasco is not just another of DDT’s peccadilloes; it’s a national security disaster.

The stock market is still sagging despite DDT’s claim about improved trade relationships with China. He supposedly backed off from more tariffs on Chinese goods but provided no details and has no signed official agreements. South Dakota’s GOP governor, Kristi Noem, said DDT’s trade wars have “devastated” her state. She warned that the agriculture disaster can touch “every main street business, everybody that has another entity out there that relies on a successful ag industry.” Over 60 percent of voters in the state hoped for a better future with DDT when they voted for him.

DDT is also backing down on steel tariffs, excusing 370 U.S. companies from paying them on imports of up to 4.1 million tons from China, Japan, and other countries. The almost 14,000 exemptions, 59 percent of them for firms with a foreign corporate parent, cover eight percent of the total from China and almost 30 percent from Japan.

In a backlash against DDT’s wall declaration, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Udall (D-NM) co-sponsored a resolution to terminate the national emergency because it is “an end run around Congress’s power to appropriate.” Collins quoted Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in the Federalist Papers about the power of the purse being reserved for the legislature as “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people.” She said that Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) support the joint resolution.

More than a month after the longest government shutdown in US history ended, a significant number of Transportation Security Administration employees still have not received all of their back-pay.

A former staffer on DDT’s presidential campaign filed a lawsuit against him for sexual misconduct outside a rally in Tampa. His behavior followed his claim to a pattern in 2005: “Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” She is the first woman to accuse him of sexual misconduct after he announced his run for president.

White supremacist hate groups have increased by 50 percent to 148 in the two years since DDT was inaugurated. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the “Proud Boys,” in its category of “general hate” and supported by Republicans, as “the most relentless campaign of rightwing street violence in recent memory” in its attendance at frequently violent street rallies. The organization has 44 chapters in 31 states, and its chairman, Enrique Tarrio, was seen in a place of pride at DDT’s Miami rally last month. Tarrio also visited Roger Stone after his arrest by the FBI, and the Proud Boys have a video of Stone’s initiated into their group. The SPLC report also names DDT and his Twitter account for pushing “noxious anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views.”

As DDT prepares to hand over nuclear power to Saudi Arabia, leave nuclear power in North Korea, and invade Venezuela, he desperately wants a Nobel Peace Prize because President Obama got one. He bragged about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominating him for the award, avoiding the fact that Abe was asked to do so, probably by Jared Kushner. Abe has not yet verified that he sent a nomination to the Nobel committee. Last year, two “nominations,” both forgeries, came from the same person. Abe has not verified that he sent a nomination to the Nobel committee.

Another Manhattan condo association voted to take the Trump name off the building, the fifth in one neighborhood. In the 11 properties keeping the Trump name, the square footage brings less than in non-DDT-named places.

Release of 2018 ratings for world leadership shows that the U.S. went up only one percent after dropping from 48 to 30 percent between 2017 and 2018. Disapproval is still up 12 points since DDT’s inauguration.

Public opinion is heading in the opposite direction from GOP leadership: Russia is considered the chief enemy of the U.S., and 73 percent of people look at Russia unfavorably—both highs in Gallup polls. In a poll about affirmative action, 65 percent want programs for women, up from 60 percent, and in another high 61 percent want affirmative action for minorities. White people are behind the increase in voting for the need for minorities. DDT is rapidly losing his popularity with Republicans and independents.

February 20, 2019

First Amendment Contorted by Love for Saudi Arabia, Clarence Thomas

Remember Jeff Bezos? For a week, the media focused on his “junk,” his battle with the National Enquirer, and his search for the person who ripped off his photos and documents such as texts and emails. Turns out that the guilty person is Bezos’ girlfriend’s gay brother. Then Bezos generated more media buzz when he pulled the Amazon headquarters from New York City, much to the disgust of some and delight of others.

The Bezos scandal highlighted the tie between the Enquirer and the Saudi government through Bezos’ letter to AMI, the owner of the tabloid. In its mandate that Bezos state he had “no knowledge” that the Enquirer’s coverage of his affair was “politically motivated or influenced by political forces,” people guessed that the issue was Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). David Pecker, AMI’s owner and DDT’s close associate, had an immunity deal with the DOJ for their criminal suppression of stories about DDT during his campaign, paying people for stories and then not printing them. Karen McDougal’s alleged affair with DDT was one of these articles that were killed before the election.

But Pecker may wanted the Washington Post, owned by Bezos, to stop printing negative news about Saudi Arabia. Pecker used his ties with DDT to cultivate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) for business opportunities, including borrowing money to buy major publications such as Sports Illustrated, Time Magazine, Fortune, and Money.  magazine. AMI’s 97-page glossy propaganda about Saudi Arabia and featuring MBS on the cover sold at Walmarts across the nation as part of Pecker’s pandering.

Jamal Khashoggi, U.S. resident and journalist, worked for the WaPo, and his writings were highly critical of MBS. Before the Saudis tortured and dismembered Khashoggi, MBS had said that he would use a “bullet” on Khashoggi if he got the chance, according to WaPo reporting. On the same day the Wall Street Journal wrote that MBS was actively enlisting U.S. media outlets to remake his image in the West and met with Vice Media co-founder Shane Smith on a yacht to discuss “an international media empire to combat the kingdom’s rivals and remake its image in the West.”

“For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve,” Bezos wrote. Former longtime Enquirer editor Jerry George said that Pecker was using Bezo’ damaging photos and documents as bargaining chips. As the story unraveled, Pecker failed because Bezos refused to give into blackmail. George cited AMI’s pro-Saudi propaganda as “suspicious” because the company was “cash poor” and “suddenly” got an “influx of cash.” He suggested that “there’s another shoe to drop,” referring to Robert Mueller’s investigation into “the Saudis’ role in all of this.” A restriction of AMI’s immunity included the company staying out of politics, and WaPo revealed that the company may not have lived up to its promises.

Last year, AMI contacted the DOJ to see if the company should register as a foreign agent but said that it didn’t get any Saudi funding for their Saudi propaganda. The DOJ said probably not, but AMI wrote that a Saudi adviser submitted content for its publication and then made changes to the final version after receiving an early draft. AMI’s extortion of Bezos has brought its relation to the Saudis has brought the issue back into visibility.

DDT, who denied his own intelligence showing that MBS was responsible for Khashoggi, now faces an investigation by House Democrats about DDT’s illegal push to sell nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia over objections by national security officials and attorneys, a plan that may have directly benefited his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Despite warnings of “potential conflicts of interest, national security risks and legal hurdles” in 2017, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and other DDT employees push for the sales. DDT plans to bypass Congress with an illegal technology transfer that can spread nuclear weapons throughout the Middle East.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pled guilty of lying to the FBI, was an early advocate for these sales after DDT’s inauguration and recommended that Barrack, who raised $107 million for DDT’s corrupt inaugural committee, be a special representative to carry out his nuclear plan. Appearing to be from DDT, a memo told federal agencies to do Barrack’s bidding.

The House reports Flynn’s working with retired military officers to circumvent U.S. law. After he resigned, the National Security Council continued with its plan in opposition to advice from its own ethics counsel. The next adviser, H.R. McMaster, said that the illegal work must stop, but McMaster left almost two months ago. Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation has examined the possibility of Middle Eastern monarchies financially influencing DDT’s political activities, starting with his presidential campaign. Congress has not look at claims about the nuclear sales until this year because of GOP control.

In more First Amendment issues, the Covington Catholic High School (KY) teenager who appeared to harass Nathan Phillips, a Native American elder and veteran, is suing WaPo for $250 million. The defamation lawsuit alleges that the newspaper “engaged in a modern-day form of McCarthyism” and “wrongfully targeted and bullied” the “innocent child” Nick Sandmann. According to his lawyers, Sandmann is suffering from “the pain and destruction its attacks would cause to his life.”

The lawsuit reads like a political polemic:

“[The Post wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump (“the President”) by impugning individuals perceived to be supporters of the President…. [The Post’s coverage was] in furtherance of its political agenda … carried out by using its vast financial resources to enter the bully pulpit by publishing a series of false and defamatory print and online articles which effectively provided a worldwide megaphone to Phillips and other anti-Trump individuals and entities to smear a young boy who was in its view an acceptable casualty in their war against the President.”

Earlier this month, the Sandmann lawyers sent letters warning litigation to over 50 media organizations, celebrities, and politicians. As the wealthiest man in the world, WaPo owner Jeff Bezos has the most money and is considered DDT’s biggest media enemy, and the $250 million is the same amount that Bezos paid for the Post in 2013. Nick’s parents, Ted and Julie Sandmanns, say they want to “teach the Post a lesson it will never forget.” They argue that Nick is not a public figure, lowering the bar for winning their lawsuit.

While Nick was described as a “child,” the lawsuit calls Nathan Phillips “a phony war hero” who “targeted and bullied” Sandmann. Phillips said that Sandmann and his peers from Covington surrounded him after he tried to stop possible violence between them and a few Hebrew Israelites. About Sandmann’s comment on the Today show, Phillips used the terms “insincerity, lack of responsibility”—“coached and written up for him.” About the encounter, Phillips said that he was trying to get out of an ugly situation. “That guy in the hat [Sandmann] stood in my way, and we were at an impasse.” Phillips added, “Then I went to go pray about it …. I forgive him.”

The Sandmanns may find support in their war on freedom of the press from Supreme Court Clarence Thomas. He hopes to attack the media through his proposal to reconsider the 1964 case New York Times v. Sullivan which determined that public figures must have greater proof to claim libel. Thomas’ “roadmap” to  helping DDT’s change in libel laws permitting him to sue news organizations came after Thomas and his far-right activist wife Ginni Thomas had dinner with DDT and his wife Melania Trump. Trump’s pledge to change libel laws so he can sue news organizations for their reporting.

Last Tuesday, Thomas expressed concern about the high court’s refusal to hear an appeal from Katherine McKee, who claimed Bill Cosby’s lawyer leaked a letter that distorted her background and damaged her reputation after she claimed that Cosby raped her. Lower courts cited the Times v. Sullivan precedent in dismissing her case with the justification that disclosing her accusation required her to meet a higher libel standard of malice that applies to public figures. The decision to not take the case was unanimous, but Thomas wrote a sole opinion that the 1964 case was wrongly decided.

Since 1964, public officials can sue for libel only if the person responsible for the statement knows that the statement is false or if the person recklessly disregarded its falsehood. Subsequent Supreme Court cases have added all public figures to public officials to protect journalists and media organizations from intimidation by wealthy and/or powerful public figures wishing to exploit minor errors in reporting. That Supreme Court decision protect the media reporting on Thomas sexual harassment by Anita Hill. Thomas, who claims to be an originalist, following only the word of the U.S. Constitution and not its meaning, said, “We should carefully examine the original meaning [of the First Amendment.]” An early interpretation of this right, as shown by the first Sedition Act in 1798, was that the government could punish any published story, and the Sedition Act still exists. If the Supreme Court supports Thomas, the First Amendment could disappear.

November 2, 2018

DDT: Week 93 – Midterm Election Tensions Leading to War

“Are you both prepared for federal prison?” A reporter asked Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, two men who tried to smear special investigator Robert Mueller (left) with a fake sexual assault accusation, in a press conference. Details of that story swirl around the internet between rabid racist remarks from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) about a shrinking migrant caravan thousands of miles away from the southern U.S. border.

Wohl, a 20-year-old DDT supporter, began the fake story on Gateway Pundit with his claim that the victim would be at his press conference. She failed to appear, and Wohl had no evidence. Earlier, women had reported to the media that they had been offered tens of thousands of dollars to lie about a non-existent assault. Investigation into Wohl and his lie revealed that his alleged intelligence firm was composed of himself, fake LinkedIn profiles, and his mother’s telephone number. The alleged assault supposedly occurred in New York City on the same day that Mueller served on jury during in Washington, D.C.

In 2017, the Arizona Corporation Commission filed a cease-and-desist order against Wohl for violating securities law misrepresenting how much money would be at risk in an investment and his company’s size in 2015 and 2016. He has failed to make the $1,371.61 monthly payments for his fine. Bloomberg reported that DDT praised Wohl’s support for him. [The hand on DDT’s shoulder in the photo belongs to another man not in the photo’s frame.]

Burkman, a registered Washington lobbyist and conspiracy theorist who raised money for Rick Gates, was identified by a woman offered money to lie about Mueller as the man behind the scam. Gates pled guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI. Conservatives are so terrified of possible discoveries from special investigator Robert Mueller about the Russian scandal that they are resorting to fraudulent smear campaigns as shown by this 11-minute segment from The Rachel Maddow ShowHuffPo also trailed the sordid events surrounding Wohl’s and Burkman’s fraud.

Gateway Pundit, the far-right fake news website founded and run by a gay man, Jim Hoft, has backed off on the accusations about Mueller that he published, stating that they were taking down the “information” and looking into the allegations against Wohl. An Esquire article asked what Mueller has on Burkman, known for trying to bring down Bill Clinton, if he’s willing to hire Wohl for such a risky attempt to bring down Mueller.

DDT has been very quiet about the Wohl-Burkman fiasco, but he’s talked a great deal about the “invasion” coming across Mexico from Central America. He plans to send 15,000 active military members to the U.S. southern border—the same number as deployed to Afghanistan—but no one knows what they will do, short of declaring war on Mexico. According to the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the military cannot enforce U.S. domestic laws, including immigration law, unless Congress authorizes this action—and Congress is on vacation. On the other hand, anyone on U.S. soil can ask for asylum. Immigrants coming across a port of entry break no law; others commit only a federal misdemeanor but can still pursue an asylum claim.

In the past 20 days, the caravan of refugees has traveled about 620 miles; the walking trip to Tijuana, over 2,000 more miles, would require over two months. Before DDT deployed the troops, he was told that “only a small percentage” of migrants could reach the U.S. Even if it keeps 3,000 asylum-seekers, DDT will be assigning at least three military members to each traveler. As more red meat for his followers, DDT declared rocks equivalent to AR-15s, saying that the military should fire back if anyone throws stones at them.

Foreign countries are using DDT’s violence-laced rhetoric to shoot people on the immigrant caravan as a justification for its murders to suppress free speech, for example the Nigerian Army’s killing 45 peaceful protesters. DDT has also exonerated Israel for its killing of dozens of protesters and wounding over 1,000 others, even if they were running away or praying. And he fails to criticize Saudi Arabia for their murder of a WaPo reporter, Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident.

Khashoggi was strangled almost immediately after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, and his body was then dismembered and destroyed, according to the first official explanation from Turkey. Department of State Secretary Mike Pompeo said something vague about sanctions but added:

“[DDT] has made very clear not only do we have important commercial relationships, but important strategic relationships, national security relationships with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and we intend to make sure that those relationships remain intact.”

DDT panders to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his desire for an Israel-Saudi Arabia coalition to defeat Iran and destroy Palestinians. Also on the table is Jared Kushner’s to create a Palestinian-Israeli “peace” through threats against Palestine.

Reports that Kushner gave the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) classified information from DDT’s daily briefings have been rampant for over six months. A source said that MBS bragged he had Kushner “in his pocket.” Before Kushner lost his top-security clearance, he was particularly interested in Middle East information and may have given MBS a hit list of enemies. DDT’s sole goal in the Middle East is to destroy Iran, and he will support murderers to accomplish his desired end.

DDT has a new fascist friend leader with the election of Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil. Called the “Trump of Latin America,” Bolsonaro ran on the same fears as DDT—crime, bad economy, etc. Hats might as well read “Make Brazil Great Again.” Retired generals will also play a large part in designing his policies as will evangelical Christians. He also pledged freedom for the people, probably correct for a small percentage of his constituency. Bolsonaro’s proposals, similar to those of DDT, include chemical castration for rapists, police impunity to kill more criminals, greater gun ownership, reduction of environmental controls, hydroelectric dams on the Amazon River, deforestation and mining on indigenous reserves, emphasis on the “traditional family,” education about Bolsonaro’s perception of economic successes and institutions during the past dictatorship, and a permissive attitude toward attacks on LGBTQ people. Bolsonaro describes refugees as “the scum of the earth” and says he would be “incapable of loving a homosexual son,” is “in favor of a dictatorship,” and “in favor of torture.”

In his promise to remove left-wing “criminals” from Brazil, Bolsonaro praised its dictatorship from 1964-1985 and allowed his followers to physically attack reporters and threaten to rape them. Ana Campagnola, a member for the state legislature in Santa Catarina, is campaigning to allow students to denounce “indoctrinator teachers” who criticize Bolsonaro’s victory. She sent her 70,000 Facebook followers a WhatsApp number for students to report “party-political or ideological expressions that humiliate or offend your freedom of faith and conscience.”

In other DDT-esque statements, Bolsonaro promised to pay down debt, trim the deficit, and reduce government. DDT’s identical promises failed: The U.S. showed DDT’s same promises to be false: the deficit for the current year will be about double that of President Obama’s last year because of tax cuts for big business and the wealthy, the deficit will soar over $2 trillion within a decade, and DDT’s government is riddled with corruption.

After 11 people were slaughtered a week ago in a Pennsylvania synagogue, faith leaders and the Pittsburgh mayor urged DDT to not disrupt the funerals, but daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner enabled him in his decision to go where he was not welcome. Following the visit, DDT again made himself the victim by complaining about the media and minimized the protest of 4,000 people as “small.”

DDT, the U.S. quitter-in-chief who dumped many of President Obama’s achievements from fits of pique, turned to attacking Ronald Reagan’s 1987 legendary end to the Cold War by pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia. DDT doesn’t mind Russia interfering with U.S. elections—because Putin favors Republicans—but he follow’s National Security advisor John Bolton’s war-mongering. Even sometimes crazy and supposedly libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) opposes both the plan and Bolton. Russia denies actions that violate the agreement: DDT won’t believe that claim although he accepts Putin’s assertion that Russia doesn’t meddle with voting in U.S. In Russia this week, Bolton told the media that he thought Russia did not have “any real effect” on the vote in the presidential election.

During a visit from National Security advisor John Bolton in Russia, Vladimir Putin not only ridiculed the U.S. national seal but also said that said that U.S. global dominance is ending as DDT accelerates the problem with a string of mistakes “typical of an empire.” The usual hawkish Bolton blandly smiled at Putin during his visit and organized a visit between Putin and DDT in Paris on November 11, the U.S. holiday to honor veterans.

After announcing his plan to withdraw from the treaty, DDT said he plans to build up the massive nuclear arsenal in the United States, an action leading to another arms war.Both China and India are jockeying to take over U.S. world power. A war could make DDT think that he can suspend elections in 2020.

 

 

October 7, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-seven – Raking Up Big Numbers

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) can now take credit for the deadliest massacre in modern U.S. history—59 59 dead and at least 527 people in Las Vegas this week. These are the “secret” White House talking points in an effort to stop any talk about common sense gun laws, as indicated in a leak: pray and monitor; wait for any “political debate” until facts are known; protect the people through the Second Amendment; can’t stop a “mad man” with “new laws” because “they will curtail the freedoms of law-abiding citizens; don’t need guns for terrorist attacks; allow people to protect themselves with concealed carry; and don’t “rush toward compromising our freedoms before we have all the facts.” In other words, legislative business as usual—tax cuts!

Another leak this week that hit the comedy routines was DDT’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling DDT a “moron” in a Pentagon meeting last July. Tillerson was forced  to call DDT “smart” in a press conference, but he didn’t deny that he used that term for DDT. The comment was made after DDT’s appearance at the Boy Scouts Jamboree; Tillerson was its leader from 2010 to 2012.

Tillerson has also been frustrated because DDT’s publicly undermines him, for example, the dispute when Middle Eastern countries blockaded Qatar, sanctions on Venezuela, aid to Israel, and, most recently, DDT’s tweet that Tillerson should not negotiate with North Korea. The day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reached out to North Korea for talks, DDT tweeted that he was “wasting his time” and “we’ll do what has to be done!”  Just 37 percent trust Trump to responsibly handle the North Korea standoff.

In opposition to Tillerson, DDT indicated that he will back out of the Iranian agreement, leaving them free to develop nuclear weapons. The Nobel Committee cited this as one reason to award its Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons for its efforts in advancing negotiations leading to the first treaty to prohibit nuclear arms. The world’s nine nuclear-armed powers and their allies—including the United States—boycotted the negotiations, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis threatened Sweden with retribution if the country supported the treaty. Fifty-three UN member states signed the treaty, and three of them have formally ratified it since the process started on September 20.

Tillerson has formed a “pact” with Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of Treasury that all three will resign if DDT fires one of them.

DDT did get to Puerto Rico almost two weeks after Maria was the second hurricane to hit the island, stayed in populated areas, and left an hour early. [Right: DDT shows a different kind of “compassion” to hurricane victims.]

While there, DDT:

  • Refused to mention or communicate with the mayor of San Juan;
  • Complained about the cost of the two hurricanes’ damage while saying how happy he is to spend “hundreds of millions” on the F-35, a plane has never flown a mission and “you can’t see” (according to DDT);
  • Said that Puerto Rico was not a “real catastrophe like Katrina;
  • Ignored the devastation on the island;
  • Threw rolls of paper towels into a crowd of survivors in a church, perhaps appearing to “distribute” supplies;
  • Praised the place for its beautiful weather;
  • Told hurricane victims to “have a good time”;
  • Said he was doing an “A+” job.

DDT has not yet submitted a request for aid to Puerto Rico. As he bragged about the wonderful response to the disaster, over half the people have no clean drinking water, and 95 percent of them have no electricity. DDT handed out flashlights but said that the people didn’t need them. Only one of the island’s 69 hospitals is fully operational, 59 of the 69 hospitals are operating on generators. Local officials talked about the lack of assistance. The mayor in a city of 54,000 said that they had received 10,000 meals, and one woman in the city said she had seen no supplies except for a case of water after 11 days. DDT waited ten days to waive the requirement that food stamps be used only in grocery stores despite the inability of these facilities to process the stamps.

After he returned from Puerto Rico, DDT said that he might wipe out the territory’s $72 billion debt, mostly held in huge hedge funds, but his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said, “We’re absolutely not going to bail them out.” As the U.S. seems incapable of helping Puerto Rico, Germany is donating 15 microgrids around the island for power emergency centers that combine solar panels and batteries.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley voted no for a resolution calling on countries to not use the death penalty for discrimination in cases of consensual adultery and same-gender relations. Twenty-seven countries supported the resolution while the U.S. was one of 13 countries, primarily those in the Middle East and Asia, that opposed it. Seven countries abstained. Former UN Ambassador Susan Rice tweeted about the vote, “Not even Russia and Iran stooped as low as we did.” The U.S. does use the death penalty as discrimination against minorities, women, and poor people.

The congressional conclusion that Russian attempted to hack into U.S. voting machines and influenced U.S. voters through social media has been followed by DDT’s request that the Senate Intelligence Committee investigate the U.S. press. DDT’s constant attacks on the media as “fake news” has a benefit for the media. The 48 percent of people who have confidence in the press is up nine percent since last November whereas the same 48 percent having a measure of faith in DDT is down three percent.

Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, is also being investigated for his reassignment of Joel Clement after Clement showed how climate change affects Alaska’ Native communities. An earlier probe came from his threats to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in an attempt to get her vote for the health care bill.

Ivanka and Donald Trump, Jr. are in the hot seat with their emails, including publicity about how they barely evaded indictment on felony fraud charges in 2012 regarding their failed project, Trump SoHo, but donations to a campaign saved them. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. made prosecutors drop the case after DDT’s attorney Marc Kasowitz gave $25,000 to the DA’s reelection campaign with another $50,000 from DDT and other donors later on.

The use of official emails on Ivanka’s and Don Jr.’s personal accounts may have compromised national security:

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have shared official White House materials on the Kushner family’s private domain, in a third private account recently discovered. The emails to the third account were largely sent from White House accounts but occasionally came from other private accounts, one of these people said. Kushner set up ijkfamily.com when he joined DDT’s administration.

Apps on Kushner’s and Ivanka’s private email automatically deleted communications for official matters, an illegal action that other of DDT’s White House officials have also taken.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter to White House counsel last week requesting more information about the White House staff use of private email addresses for official business, including disappearing message apps.

Both Kushner and Ivanka moved their email accounts to Trump Organization after the letter stating that the records not be destroyed, modified, or transferred. Cummings pointed out that their action also violates their pledge to not be a part of Trump Organization.

https://www.mediaite.com/online/rachel-maddow-reports-that-secret-service-is-banning-mobile-devices-from-west-wing/  More problems arose after it was discovered that the cell phone of John Kelly, former National Security Advisor and current chief of staff, was compromised with the establishment of new guidelines. Personal mobile devices—including tablets, cell phones, and smart watches—are to be prohibited from the West Wing. The question is whether DDT’s cell phone is part of this ban.

ACLU immediately filed a lawsuit against the government after AG Jeff Sessions announced that businesses and organizations can use religious belief or “moral conviction” to avoid providing free birth control on its insurance plans. A majority of people, even Republicans, disagree with DDT. The same excuse can also be used to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

The ACLU is also suing to lift unreasonable FDA restrictions on Mifeprex, a safe and effective method of ending an early pregnancy up to 10 weeks, from pharmacies.

DDT may also be able to take credit for the worst hurricane destruction of any president. The fourth major storm to hit the U.S. in less than nine months has killed 30 people in Central America and has now hit the Louisiana coast. Nate, the fourth major storm to strike the United States in less than two months, killed at least 30 people in Central America before entering the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and bearing down on the US South. Over 40 percent of the Gulf’s staffed oil- and gas-producing platforms were evacuated. The storm, now a Category One, still has winds of about 100 mph and possible storm surges of 10 feet but should weaken on land. It may be the worst hurricane in Mississippi since Katrina in 2005.

November 11, 2016

Russia Looks Forward to Annexing U.S.

putin-trump

Vladimir Putin is crowing, and people in the UK have collectively sighed in relief that they aren’t the only stupid country in the world after the U.S. followed the Brexit vote by electing Donald Trump. I’d like to think that U.S. becoming part of Russia is far-fetched, David Frum, speechwriter for George W. Bush, tweeted, “We may be living through the most successful Russian intelligence operation since the Rosenbergs stole the A-bomb.” Trump’s longing for Vladimir Putin’s affection and his financial support for his “business” ventures will surely lead to a very close relationship with the United States—perhaps even a subservience on the part of the U.S.

On Monday, Russia announced that it is suspending the agreement to dispose of surplus weapons-grade plutonium. Tuesday’s election of Trump will all but guarantee that Russia will keep its plutonium to make approximately 17,000 nuclear weapons. Putin wants more than his nuclear weapons. With Trump he can reduce the American military presence in NATO countries near Russia’s border, cancel all sanctions against Russia, and make the U.S. compensate Moscow for losses resulting from those sanctions. His plans will also include completing his takeover of Ukraine after moving into the Crimea.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) said that President Obama had “convinced Putin he can get away with anything.” The question for Royce is his response regarding his own president allowing Russia to “get away with anything.” The GOP has never been known for loving Russia.

Pro-Kremlin ideologue Sergei Markov effused, “This is a great day for American democracy.” He also said that Russia “may have helped” WikiLeaks in its constant dribble of negative-appearing emails surrounding Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. Markov said that Trump’s control will help provide a Russian-U.S. agreement on Syria, reversing the U.S. position opposing Russia’s policy.

Putin-elected lawmakers at the Russian State Duma thunderously applauded when someone burst into the meeting and announced that Trump had been elected U.S. president.

Throughout the Trump campaign, both the candidate and his campaign officials vigorously denied having any communication with the Russian government. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, however, told the state-run Interfax news agency that “there were contacts” with the Trump team. “Quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives.” Russian ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russian embassy staff met with members of Trump’s campaign and added that Clinton’s campaign refused requests for meetings.

The Trump campaign started pushing the GOP toward a friendship with Russia when it demanded that the party’s platform remove a plank to arm arming Ukraine against Russian-backed militants (and covert Russian troops) and soften language on Russia’s aggressive actions in Eastern Europe. In his campaigns after that change last summer, Trump denied any Russian election-meddling, war crimes, and invasion of a European country.

While Trump was developing his campaign, his advisor was Paul Manafort, an adviser for 14 years to Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Putin president of Ukraine who fled to Russia during the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution. The corrupt Yanukovych had explicit ties to the Kremlin going back to 2005 when his Party of Regions signed an agreement with Russia’s ruling party that called for closer ties between the two. A central part of Party of Regions was to remove Ukrainian regions from central-government oversight, and Yanukovych moved forward in his career with the help of Paul Manafort. Since that time, documents show that Manafort was paid $12.7 million to work on behalf of a foreign political party to influence U.S. policy, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

One of Trump’s current team, Michael T. Flynn, also has a very close relationship to Russia’s English-language propaganda outlet, RT (formerly Russia Today), that hid Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine and its role in shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Several other Trump foreign-policy advisors, including Carter Page and Richard Burt, have close ties to Russian banking and investments.

U.S. security experts have described Trump as a “useful idiot,” supporting Russia through ignorance, shared interest, or sympathy without intention of becoming a pawn. Trump has a desperate need to be admired by the elite, and he doesn’t get this worship in the U.S. Therefore he goes to Russia and will have to do what they want in order to keep that affection. Russia wants to dump NATO, Trump’s advisor Newt Gingrich agrees with Russia, and Trump will probably follow along with the idea.

The month before the election on November 8, the FBI started investigating Trump’s Russian connection, but they kept it quiet so that the agency didn’t affect the election—in opposition to their position in talking about emails on Anthony Wiener’s laptop just nine days before the election. Eight hours before the polls opened, it was reported that the FBI had a FISA warrant for Trump’s alleged criminal activities through his illegal connections to the Russian government and other Russian entities. Of particular interest is Trump’s private server, which computer scientists discovered is having secret direct communication with the largest bank in Russia.

As Trump faces a civil lawsuit of fraud concerning Trump University and the possibility of a warrant in an FBI investigation, he is receiving top national intelligence as the president elect. The GOP House will disregarding any Trump illegal actions while they surely reinstate a committee to further grill Clinton over emails proved to be not dangerous to national security.

Even if Trump were to be forced to resign, impeached, or put in prison, the country is left with Mike Pence—a possibly worse alternative to Trump. The Republicans have two years to disillusion the 59 million people who voted for the GOP ticket. Back to cleaning my closets until 2018.

May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016 – More Soldiers May Die

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 7:24 PM
Tags: , ,

Today is a federal holiday called Memorial Day. When I was a child, it was called Decoration Day, the term first used for it after the U.S. Civil War. I remember trailing after my mother in Nebraska cemeteries as she put home-grown flowers, saved for weeks in the refrigerator, over graves of relatives. It was always a very somber day. Since that time, the date of Memorial Day has been moved from May 30 to the last Monday in May to create a “convenient” three-day weekend. Newspapers burgeon with colorful flyers for sales, and people invite friends to picnics. Almost gone, however, is any memory of the purpose for this commemoration.

The purpose of Memorial Day is to honor military personnel who died in the service of their country, especially in battle or from wounds sustained in battle. It differs from Veterans Day, November 11, dedicated to all veterans in the military.

At least 1.2 million people from the United States have died fighting in wars during the past 241 years.* The total below list only U.S. military members and do not include the terrible toll of military members from other countries and the “collateral damage,” the term used for deaths, injuries, or other damage inflicted on an unintended (probably innocent) target.

  • American Revolution (1775-1783): Battle Deaths – 4,435
  • War of 1812 (1812-1815): Battle Deaths – 2,260
  • Indian Wars (approx. 1817-1898): Battle Deaths Estimate – 1,000
  • Mexican War (1846-1848): Battle Deaths – 1,733; Other Deaths in Theater – 11,550
  • Civil War (1861-1865): Union Battle Deaths – 140,414; Other Deaths in Theater – 224,097 and Confederate Battle Deaths – 74,524; Other Deaths in Theater – 59,297
  • Spanish-American War (1898-1902): Battle Deaths – 385; Other Deaths in Service, Non-Theater – 2,061
  • Philippine-American War (1899 to 1902): Total Death – Over 4,200
  • World War I (1917-1918): Battle Deaths – 53,402; Other Deaths in Service, Non-Theater – 63,114
  • World War II (1941 –1945): Battle Deaths – 291,557; Other Deaths in Service, Non-Theater – 113,842
  • Korean War (1950-1953): Battle Deaths – 33,739; Other Deaths in Theater – 2,835; Other Deaths in Service, Non-Theater – 17,672
  • Vietnam War (1964-1975): Battle Deaths – 47,434; Other Deaths in Theater – 10,786; Other Deaths in Service, Non-Theater – 32,000
  • Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991): Battle Deaths – 148; Other Deaths in Theater – 235; Other Deaths in Service, Non-Theater – 1,565
  • Middle East Wars including Iraq and Afghanistan (2001-present): Total U.S. soldiers – 6,888

[A complete list of U.S. involvement and cause of wars/conflicts, including the Banana Wars of the early 20th century.]

On this Memorial Day, the GOP presidential candidate shows himself ready to declare more wars that will kill more people from the U.S. As the nation continues to suffer from George W. Bush’s preemptive wars at the turn of the 21st century, Donald Trump, Bush on steroids, plans more disasters for the U.S. The president has almost total control of U.S. foreign policy, and Trump has these plans if he becomes president:

  • Send U.S. oil companies to rebuild the Middle East infrastructure and take Syrian and Iraqi oil for the U.S. (“They’ll rebuild that sucker, brand new, and then I’ll take the oil.”)
  • Target and kill families of suspected ISIS fighters.
  • Expand the law to permit torture.
  • Send more military forces to the South China sea to show China “that we mean business.”
  • Make North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “disappear” (assassination?).
  • Abandon U.S. treaty commitments.
  • Withdraw all troops from foreign bases if the allies won’t pay 100 percent of the cost for the bases, at the risk of South Korea and Japan acquiring their own nuclear weapons. (The U.S. “may very well be better off.”)
  • Encourage more countries to have nuclear weapons by stopping nuclear proliferation.
  • Use nuclear weapons against ISIS.
  • Become more “unpredictable” in U.S. national security policy, perhaps causing an arms race with China and North Korea, nuclear proliferation by other states in East Asia, and regional instability.

Another Trump promise is to wage all-out war against any action to prevent climate change. Last Friday, he told an audience that there is no drought in California. His “energy and climate” position is to kill the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, all domestic climate-related regulations, and the Paris climate agreement. His actions would cause temperatures to soar, increasing poverty and hunger from food and water shortages. The instability would result in pandemic disease and exacerbate violent conflicts around the world. Human-caused climate change already triggered Syria’s civil war, “the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II,” according to a report from the European Commission.

If Donald Trump were elected president, he would be the “person with the finger on the button.”

finger on the button

In 2011, 19 men, 15 of them from Saudi Arabia, brought down two World Trade Centers in New York; George W. Bush’s ensuing wars caused physical and mental injuries to hundreds of thousands of military members. Deaths in the Middle East from these wars could be as high as four million.  A conservative estimate reports that the war cost $2 trillion by 2013, not counting expenses for veterans. At the same time, global terror spread from Afghanistan throughout the Middle East, Africa, and the Far East.

Now the GOP presidential presumptive candidate wants to back out of any diplomacy throughout the world while he intends to “bomb the shit out of ISIS.” As much of a problem that Donald Trump presents, even more frightening is the number of people who agree with Trump that the U.S. needs to allow the vast increase of nuclear weapons around the world. If Trump is elected president by these people, millions more people will die.

On May 29, 2017, the United States will again commemorate the people who died at war with shopping and retail sales—if the United States still exists in a year.

*The 1.2 million people who died in 241 years is fewer than those who have died from guns in the United States since 1968, but the federal government does not commemorate these deaths.

September 1, 2015

Don’t Follow Netanyahu into War

Thirty-three senators now support the President of the United States in agreeing to the Iran deal to keep the country from putting together nuclear weapons. To avoid an override of the proposed “resolution of disapproval” to stop the P5+1 agreement among seven countries of the world, President Obama needs one more senator to support the deal. Despite the tens of millions of dollars from anti-Iran deal groups advertising its dangers, a survey shows a majority of people in the U.S.—52 percent—want approval for the agreement. Nearly 7 in 10 Democrats support the deal that lifts some international sanctions against Iran in exchange for the country restricting its nuclear program for at least a decade. Six of 10 independents support the deal while almost 7 in 10 Republicans oppose the agreement.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called a “jackass” in a public meeting last weekend, has invited another GOP presidential candidate, Donald Trump, to join him in opposing the Iran deal at a rally on Capitol Hill. Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, considered too conservative by the ultra-conservative Fox network, will be at the September 9 event. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is continuing his possibly treasonous behavior by meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday and stating, “I will stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel.” He tweeted a photo of himself and the Israeli prime minister, writing: “Great meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem to discuss our opposition to the #IranDeal.”

cotton

Last year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) worked against U.S. foreign policy during the migrant-children crisis. Other GOP lawmakers have also promised their allegiance to Israel. Five years ago, then-Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) promised Netanyahu that the new GOP majority in the house would “serve as a check” on the Obama administration. In 2006, Cantor is the same member of Congress who accused then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) of violating the Logan Act, “which makes it a felony for any American ‘without authority of the United States’ to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States.” Cantor’s accusation came after Pelosi’s meeting with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad which she coordinated with Bush administration officials and where she included State Department personnel. Dick Cheney, the past vice-president who plans to attack President Obama at the September 9 rally, said of Pelosi, “The president is the one who conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.”

Nine years ago, Al Gore criticized George W. Bush’s government “abuses” against Arabs after the 9/11 attacks when he spoke at a conference in Saudi Arabia. The conservative media attacked him, one claiming that Gore had committed “supreme disloyalty to his country.” Even worse to these writers was that his speech was “in front of an audience that does not vote in American elections” and “subversive … because of its location and its intended audience.” In 2007, John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, insisted, “I would simply hope that people would understand that, under the Constitution, the president conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.”

Now Republicans not only meet with foreign leaders to undermine the U.S. policy but also brag about doing it. Instead of being criminal, Cotton’s seditious behavior seems to be almost routine.

Netanyahu, the man who leads U.S. GOP congressional members, began his rise in 1996 after his opponent’s assassination. Fired up by the Oslo Accords, a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, Israeli settlers elected Netanyahu to avoid diplomacy and stop a Palestinian state. War mongering Richard Perle, advisor to Netanyahu’s campaign, headed the committee to write the strategy calling for a stop to diplomacy with Palestine and control the neighborhood by undermining, subdividing, or destroying Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Thanks to George W. Bush, only one of these three countries can still block Israel’s destruction of Palestinians. Since Barack Obama’s first election as president, Netanyahu has fought him with political assaults, international incidents, speeches to the U.S. Congress and the UN, and stories about the president’s lack of support for Israel.

The prime minister, who depicts Iran as a military aggressor, was close to attacking Iran three separate occasions between 2010 and 2012, the last of the three in an attempt to defeat President Obama for a second term. Fortunately, even far-right cabinet ministers or the military chief of staff blocked him.

Iran has not attacked another country in a conventional war in modern history. In contrast, Israel has a history of aggression in just a half century including preemptive wars in 1956, 1967, 1982, 2009 and 2014. The 1982 Israeli attack on Lebanon led to an 18-year occupation of ten percent of Lebanon. Lebanese Shiites formed Hezbollah to resist Israeli oppression, but Iran’s support is considered by the U.S. and Israel as “support for terrorism.” U.S. and Israeli support for the Israeli illegal invasion and occupation is considered standard operating procedure.

Israel has several hundred nuclear warheads, whereas Iran has none, but Iran has been sanctioned for its civilian nuclear enrichment program for generating electricity. No one knows how many nuclear weapons are located in Israel because it refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Netanyahu has consistently refused to broker peace with the Palestinians and forced out officials, such as Meir Dagan, head of the Israeli spying agency Mossad; the chief of staff; and the head of domestic intelligence. Netanyahu spread fear throughout the world by grossly exaggerating Iran’s threat, according to Dagan.

Netanyahu badly needs a GOP president because a Democratic one might not veto UN sanctions against Israel for failing to follow international law. Israel has violated many UN Security Council resolutions through its treatment of the stateless Palestinians, the status of Jerusalem, etc. Iran’s economy has been badly damaged by UNSC sanctions while Israel has not received any punishment thus far because the U.S. has vetoed sanctions against Israel, regardless of the cases’ merits. If the U.S. administration no longer exercises its veto, Israel could be forced into making peace.

Israel is also afraid of the UN recognizing Palestine, which has already been granted non-member observer state status by the General Assembly. Palestine has signed the treaties and instruments necessary to joining the International Criminal Court and gaining standing to sue Israel over its creeping annexation of Palestinian territory beyond the generally recognized 1949 armistice lines. The Rome Statute of 2002 under which the International Criminal Court operates, forbids colonization of other people’s territory. Israel could lose if Palestine sues.

The vast majority of Israel’s defense and security establishment support the Iran agreement, but Netanyahu has put them under a gag order. In a recent article for The Daily Jewish Forward, J.J. Goldberg wrote, “As unanimous as the politicians are in backing the prime minister, the generals and spymasters are nearly as unanimous in questioning him. Generals publicly backing Netanyahu can be counted on—well–one finger.” The U.S. media has avoided providing information that is well-known in the Israeli press and in a U.S. Jewish paper.

Republicans are so eager to spread propaganda against the Iran deal that Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) is terrifying second and third graders in Gilbert (AZ). He was supposed to talk to them about how bills became laws, but he moved into his opposition to the Iran agreement. According to parent Scott Campbell, Salmon explained the situation in Iran and then asked the children such questions as “Do you know what a nuclear weapon is? Do you know that there are schools that train children your age to be suicide bombers?” Campbell’s daughter told her father that she didn’t know what suicide is and that she is very afraid. Salmon’s office said the congressman’s remarks weren’t any more shocking than the local news.

Israel wants the United States to attack Iran, the Republicans want to destroy the Democrats, and the people of the U.S. are the ones left to suffer the economic and human losses that result from Israel’s determination to dominate the world. People who oppose Israeli positions are accused of being anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism is NOT criticizing Israelis for what they do, such as defying more UN resolutions than Iraq, spying on P5+1 negotiations and then leaking the information, committing war crimes, rejecting politicians for their loyalty to a foreign power, and trying to get the United States to go to war just to benefit Israel.

May 13, 2015

GOP Chips Away at Infrastructure

At least seven people were killed and over 200 people were injured last night when Amtrak Regional 188 derailed in Philadelphia on its way to New York City. Today the GOP members of the House Appropriations Committee voted to reduce the Amtrak budget to $252 million, a 15-percent reduction from last year, despite the increase in Amtrak riders. Democrats on the panel lost the battle to boost Amtrak funding by $1 billion, to $2.4 billion.

ridershipWhile Congress demands that Amtrak make a profit, highways and airports receive 45 times the subsidies for Amtrak. The GOP consistently reduces Amtrak subsidies to achieve privatization of the Northeast Corridor, which guts the company’s primary revenue and kills Amtrak. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) pointed out that every other country in the world subsidizes its trains:

“It just points out again how terrible our nation’s infrastructure is…. If you went to Asia, Europe, and saw the high-speed trains, they’re all on a dedicated line. They’re all straight as an arrow. It’s just embarrassing what we do with our infrastructure.”

Former Obama administration Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, an Illinois Republican, said, “America is in a crisis when it comes to infrastructure.”

The wreck has shut down Amtrak’s route between Boston and Washington, its busiest and most profitable, for an indefinite time. Every year for a decade, the route has broken ridership records. The workforce on these trains contribute $50 billion each year to the U.S. GDP. Yet, starved of funds to keep up with the increased demand, the Northeast Corridor has a backlog of repairs requiring $4.3 billion in 2019 while it expects $872 million because of dwindling federal funding. In this area Amtrak suffers with unrepaired bridges and tunnels dating over a century, “functionally obsolete” rail interlockings, and trains relying on 1930s-era components.

NE ridership

The last time Congress managed to pass an Amtrak bill was in 2008 when a derailed commuter train killed 25 people and the GOP helped to fast-track the bill to George W. Bush. The GOP in this Congress argued that there was no reason to take the accident into consideration. Much has been said about the speed of the train and how money could not have stopped this possible reason for the wreck. Little has been said about how an advanced safety technology can prevent high-speed derailments. The “positive train control” (PTC) automatically slows or even halts trains that are moving too fast or heading into a danger zone. Under current law, the rail industry must adopt the technology by the end of this year. With the PTC, Amtrak 188 could not have reached the speed of 106 mph while approached the curve with a 50 mph speed limit. The current deadline for PTC installation is the end of 2015, but lawmakers are calling for long extensions. Last March, the Senate Commerce voted to extend the deadline to 2020.

Passenger trains are not the only ones that are causing property destruction and the loss of human lives. Across the country, trains hauling oil, nicknamed “bomb trains,” derail, blow up into huge fires, and pollute the environment. Just weeks ago, the Department of Transportation released new rules designed to protect the country from exploding trains. Guidelines include sturdier new tank cars and retrofitted older cars that carry crude oil and ethanol, a better braking standard, and improved protocols on routing, speed, and information for local government agencies.

A radical shift in the new standards is that they actually rescind a requirement that the DOT issued last year in which railroads were to notify states about bomb trains’ volume and frequency. The new rules require only providing states with contact information for officials with access to this information. Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden stated, “Instead of providing first responders more details about oil shipments, railroads will simply be required to give our firefighters a phone number.” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) commented that the new rule is the equivalent of saying “let the oil trains roll.”

Although the new bomb train rules might be well intentioned, a train using the new, so-called safer, tank cars exploded in North Dakota the week after the announcement of the guidelines. That explosion followed four others in the first three months of 2015 that spilled crude oil into drinking water supplies and blasted fireballs in the sky. Companies can also continue to use the older tank cars forever if trains have fewer than 35 or fewer than 20 in a row. The new mandated electronically controlled pneumatic brakes are good news, but trains don’t have to use them until 2021.

The new speed guidelines would also not have prevented these train explosions. Mile-long bomb trains carrying three million gallons of explosive crude can continue to travel at more than twice the rated “puncture velocity” of even the new tank cars–50 mph except for “high threat” urban areas when they should drop their speed to 40 mph. Three of the first four explosive accidents in 2015 occurred at speeds below 35 mph, and the fourth was at 43 mph, only three miles over the new speed limit.

While oil companies are responsible for the trains themselves, other companies are responsible for the railroads. Before 2009, fewer than 10,000 tank cars of oil were transported by rail each year in the United States. In 2012, that number increased to 230,000 cars and escalated to 430,000in 2013.  CSX is a major company that owns 21,000 of railway in eastern U.S. Because fines are cheaper than maintenance, CSX fails to repair tracks and bridges. The 2014 derailment of 20 oil tankers, three of them going into the James River, cost CSX under $400,000.

train missileWhile bomb trains killing people, burning towns, and polluting the environment is horrible, the country has bigger problems. Of the 7,500+ nuclear weapons stored in the United States, many of them are located in North Dakota. A 15-minute segment on The Rachel Maddow Show describes the deadly connection between missiles and the bomb trains. This website provides a map for bomb trains in the United States and shows the huge number of miles in North Dakota.

One-third of the 150 loaded, primed and ready to fire missiles are in the Bakken oil field, that ships out millions of gallons of highly volatile crude oil on bomb trains. One of these missile bases is the site of a 2007 incident when six nuclear-tipped AGM-29 Advanced Cruise missiles were accidentally loaded on a B-52 headed for Barksdale AFB, the main staging base for B-52s flown to the Middle East. They were missing for 36 hours.

This is Infrastructure Week, and the GOP ignores the problems of not moving forward on the country’s infrastructure. Beyond the train disasters, the lack of funding for infrastructure is horrific. From the Harvard Business Review:

“Goods are delayed at clogged ports. Delayed or cancelled flights cost the U.S. economy an estimated $30-40 billion per year – not to mention ill will of disgruntled passengers. The average American wastes 38 hours a year stuck in traffic. This amounts to 5.5 billion hours in lost U.S. productivity annually, 2.9 gallons of wasted fuel, and a public health cost of pollution of about $15 billion per year, according to Harvard School of Public Health researchers. The average family of four spends as much as 19% of its household budget on transportation. But inequality also kicks in: the poor can’t afford cars, yet are concentrated in places without access to public transportation. To top it all, federal funding for highways, with a portion for mass transit, is about to run out.”

infrastructure costs

Happy Infrastructure Week!

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