We’re Cracking Apart From The Inside, With Missiles Aimed At Our Back

We’re Cracking Apart From The Inside, With Missiles Aimed At Our Back

 

I’m sorry, but I don’t exactly like the Title either. Here in our Country we are acting like it is back in the 20’s or something ignorant like that. We have our HollyWood and our Politics, the never-ending battle between the Dems and the GOP and we pick Our Country apart. We have several outside State Players and other well-funded hate groups who are actually in the Chess Possession to make this play. Folks, I hope they do not push the ‘ignite’ button. This would be the end of the world as we all know it all because of a couple of dozen people from around whom have some Power in this world who hate us and hate everything’ the West’ stands for. Attacking us from the inside while we bicker among ourselves is a sure Cancer to our Cells.

 

Our current Government has weakened Us with our long-standing Allies and gotten off to a bad start with several other ‘not so friendly States.’ There is always the issue of other ‘unfriendliness’ such as Hezbollah, Hamas and many others. I pray for our Children, and Theirs. Hate, it is such a disgusting thing when we direct it at each other. Our System has many errors within it but it could be very much better. We need to address these things quickly before there is no tomorrow in which to be concerned about.

 

 

 

Turkey: Pointless for France to Remain in Syria to Protect YPG

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

 

Turkey: Pointless for France to Remain in Syria to Protect YPG

Wednesday, 26 December, 2018 – 10:45
French President Emmanuel Macron. (AFP)
London – Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkey warned France that it is pointless to maintain its military presence in Syria to protect the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

“If France is staying to contribute to Syria’s future, great, but if they are doing this to protect the (militia), this will bring no benefit to anyone,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters according to state news agency Anadolu.

Cavusoglu hit out at France’s “support” of the YPG, which he said was “no secret”, pointing to a meeting French President Emmanuel Macron had held on Friday with the Syrian Democratic Council, the political wing of the US-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF).

The YPG serves as the military backbone of the SDF.

Turkey views the YPG as terrorist organization affiliated to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara, the US and the European Union.

France is part of the international anti-terrorism coalition led by the US in Syria and Iraq. It dispatched military pilots and artillery soldiers to carry out bombings. Several sources also reported the deployment of French special forces in Syrian territory, but Paris has not confirmed this information.

Last week, US President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of 2,000 US ground forces that had been in Syria to provide training to the YPG under the SDF.

The shock move put allies on the backfoot, with Macron on Sunday saying: “An ally must be reliable”.

On Sunday, Macron avoided commenting on the demands made by two representatives of the “Syrian Democratic Council” after Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria.

He summed up by the situation by announcing Paris “regrets” the US decision, given that the mission to terminate ISIS was not over yet, adding that the SDF should not be abandoned and allies should not be “left in the middle of the road.”

France confirmed it will remain in the alliance despite the US withdrawal.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Ankara will intervene in the coming months against ISIS and the YPG.

US official says top Hezbollah brass hit in alleged Israeli strikes in Syria

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

US official says top Hezbollah brass hit in alleged Israeli strikes in Syria

Defense Department source tells Newsweek commanders were targeted after boarding a plane bound for Iran; advanced weaponry also destroyed

A screenshot from video on social media purporting to show airstrikes near Damascus on December 25, 2018. (Screen capture: Twitter)

A screenshot from video on social media purporting to show airstrikes near Damascus on December 25, 2018. (Screen capture: Twitter)

An alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria Tuesday night hit several senior Hezbollah officials as they boarded a plane bound for Iran, Newsweek reported Wednesday morning, citing a Defense Department source.

The unnamed source told the magazine he had received the information from top Israeli military brass.

He said strategic Iranian munitions were also targeted, including advanced GPS components for weaponry.

Syrian state media said the strikes, beginning at about 10 p.m., were carried out from Lebanon and that a number of targets were intercepted. It said its own air defenses had opened fire on “enemy targets,” shooting them down.

Syrian TV quoted a military source saying weapons warehouses were hit, and three Syrian soldiers wounded.

A screenshot from video purporting to show a Syrian surface-to-air missile being fired near Damascus on December 25, 2018. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Syrian media said Wednesday morning that Israel hit a base used by Hezbollah in Al-Dimas, a weapons depot at a base belonging to the Syrian army’s 4th division in Sabura and the military’s 10th Division command in Qatana.

Additionally, Syrian air defenses in Attal and the 68th Brigade and 137th Battalion in Khan-al-Sheikh were also reportedly attacked, Hadashot reported.

Israel said it had deployed air defenses against a missile fired from Syria as Damascus attempted to repel the alleged airstrikes.

The Israel Defense Forces said there was no damage or injuries from the surface-to-air missile fired from Syria at Israel.

“An IDF aerial defense system activated in response to an anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria,” the army said in a statement.

It did not say where or even if the missile was successfully intercepted.

Pictures shared on social media showed an air defense missile being fired near Hadera, a city some 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the Syrian border where residents had earlier reported hearing a loud explosion.

Embedded video

Observer IL – 🅾️🅱️🔺@Obs_IL

Dashcam footage from Road 6 of the launch of an AD missile earlier near following this evening airstrikes in . @Intel_sky @IsraelD_Heb @edrormba @BabakTaghvaee @Dannymakkisyria @IntelCrab @IdeologyWars @TheWarOfNow @intellipus

23 people are talking about this

Syrian eyewitnesses and video on social media showed what appeared to be intense fire on targets near the capital.

Embedded video

Zaid Benjamin@zaidbenjamin

Syrian News Agency says the “Aggression on ” continues “from the Lebanese airspace” and air defenses are responding.

20 people are talking about this

“It’s an Israeli raid,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

“Missiles fired from Israeli planes targeted… arms depots southwest and south of Damascus that belong to Hezbollah or Iranian forces,” Abdel Rahman said.

Lebanon’s National News Agency reported that Israel Air Force planes were operating over southern Lebanon.

Qalaat Al Mudiq@QalaatAlMudiq

: explosions heard over province. Air defenses fired missiles moments ago.

View image on Twitter

Qalaat Al Mudiq@QalaatAlMudiq

. Air defenses in action tonight over W. province. pic.twitter.com/xrYqMYX1E1

Embedded video

57 people are talking about this

News reports made a connection between the strike and the earlier arrival of an Iranian cargo jet in Damascus. The 747, belonging to Iran’s Fars Air Qeshm, had landed in Syria just after 7 p.m.

The civilian company has been accused on multiple occasions of smuggling Iranian arms to Hezbollah, and media speculated that its cargo had been the target of the strikes.

It was not clear whether the jet was the one which Hezbollah officials had allegedly boarded.

Israel in recent years has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against targets linked to Iran, which alongside its proxies and Russia is fighting on behalf of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Israel has accused Iran of seeking to establish a military presence in Syria that could threaten Israeli security and attempting to transfer advanced weaponry to the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

The number of airstrikes in Syria attributed to Israel has dropped noticeably in recent months, after a Russian military plane was downed by Syrian air defenses during an Israeli attack on Latakia, killing all 15 servicemen aboard.

Russia blamed the Israeli military for that incident — a charge rejected by Jerusalem — and has supplied Syria with the advanced S-300 air defense system.

The S-300 systems were delivered to Syria last month, but they are not yet believed to be in use, as the Syrian air defense teams still need to be trained to operate them.

Israeli defense officials have met with Russian counterparts a number of times in recent weeks in an effort to re-establish a deconfliction mechanism that will allow Israel to recommence its air campaign.

Russia reportedly wants significant warning period ahead of any Israeli airstrike, something Israeli officials have been said to refuse.

READ MORE:

Damn… I Sure Hope I’m Wrong

Damn… I Sure Hope I’m Wrong

 

Folks this is simply the thoughts of an old man, roll with it where you will, or not. Time, age, it does give one advantage to the times people see fads come and go. I know that I am not the brightest bulb in the package but I do enjoy history and memories what one sees and understands often come from that. This article to you tonight is strictly a ‘what if’ letter and damn, I sure hope I’m wrong.

 

What If, what if President Trump is considered to be at the weakest point of his Presidency right now? What if right now even our Allies have no trust at all in Mr. Trump’s Leadership or even worse, if they consider the U.S. to now be a likely enemy? Now our real Enemies challenge U.S. authority all over the globe, Russia has been pushing the “West” for a fight over Crimea and now over the mainland of Ukraine, Mr. Putin has installed several hundred tanks facing Ukraine along their Border. Russian Naval Ships have fired on boarded and taken control of Ukraine Naval Ships.

 

If Mr. Putin and President Xi Jinping decided on a date over this Christmas Holiday to coordinate an attack on two fronts, first with Russia doing an all out attack on Ukraine and second, China doing an all out assault on Taiwan. Then of course this day would happen to be the time Hamas does an all out assault on Israel from the south and also the day Hezbollah does the same into northern Israel. My question is how would the U.S. Government and Military handle these situations, or could they in any real way enter into a WW3 situation, and win? There would also be the reality of every Three-Bit Dictator attacking whomever they choose all around the world. If the U.S. had great leaders would they take this kind of a chance? The reality is, we don’t have a mentally competent Leader in the Oval Office. So, what would happen if all of this occurred? You know folks, there is one thing that the world seems to forget about. Folks wake up, all of our ‘ways of life’ can change is just a fraction of a second with one bright flash up in the skies.

 

As I said, this was just a ‘what if’ theory and all I can honestly say is, I sure hope I’m Wrong!

U.S. official says Washington reviewing North Korea travel ban

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO NEWS)

 

Jones/AFP/Getty Images

FOREIGN POLICY

U.S. official says Washington reviewing North Korea travel ban

SEOUL, South Korea — The Trump administration’s special envoy for North Korea said Wednesday that Washington is reviewing easing its travel restrictions to North Korea to facilitate humanitarian shipments as part of efforts to resolve an impasse in nuclear diplomacy.

Stephen Biegun made the comments upon arrival in South Korea for talks on the nuclear negotiations, which have seen little headway since a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June, when they issued a vague vow for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing how or when it would occur.

Biegun said his discussions with South Korean officials will be about how to work together to engage with North Korea “in a manner that will help us move forward and move beyond the 70 years of hostility.”

Toward that end, Biegun said he was directed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to review America’s policy on humanitarian assistance provided to North Korea.

“I understand that many humanitarian aid organizations, operating in the DPRK, are concerned that strict enforcement of international sanctions has occasionally impeded the delivery of legitimate humanitarian assistance to the Korean people,” Biegun said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

He said he’ll sit down with American aid groups early in the new year to discuss how the U.S. government can “better ensure the delivery of appropriate assistance, particularly, through the course of the coming winter.”

“We will also review American citizen travel to DPRK for purposes of facilitating the delivery of aid and ensuring that monitoring in line with international standards can occur,” Biegun said. “I want to be clear — the United States and the United Nations will continue to closely review requests for exemptions and licenses for the delivery of assistance to the DPRK.”

North Korea didn’t immediately respond to Biegun’s comments. Talks between Washington and Pyongyang have been stalled for months, with the two sides at an impasse over next steps following Trump’s meeting with Kim in Singapore and several trips to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The United States wants North Korea to provide a detailed account of nuclear and missile facilities that would be inspected and dismantled under a potential deal, while the North is insisting that sanctions be lifted first. In the meantime, several reports from private analysts have accused North Korea of continuing nuclear and missile development, citing details from commercial satellite imagery.

Biegun said the United States came to have “greater confidence about the safety and security of Americans traveling to the DPRK” after North Korea in November released an American held for an alleged illegal entrance to the country. “The government of the DPRK handled the review of the American citizen’s expulsion expeditiously and with great discretion and sensitivity through diplomatic channels,” he said.

The United States banned its citizens from traveling to North Korea following the death of American college student Otto Warmbier, who died days after he was released in a coma from North Korea last year following 17 months in captivity.

Warmbier’s death came amid heightened animosity on the Korean Peninsula, with Trump and Kim exchanging crude insults and war threats over North Korea’s series of nuclear and missile tests.

Tensions have gradually eased since early this year, when Kim abruptly reached out to the United States and South Korea with an offer to negotiate away his advancing nuclear arsenal.

Since its entrance to the talks, North Korea has unilaterally dismantled its nuclear testing site and parts of its rocket engine test facility and taken some conciliatory gestures, including the repatriation of three other American detainees ahead of the June summit.

Putin Raising Likelihood of War, Ukrainian Navy Chief Says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT)

Does Putin Want WW3?

Analysts predict an ‘imminent’ surge in conflict between Russia and Ukraine in and around the Black Sea.By Paul D. Shinkman, Senior National Security WriterDec. 12, 2018, at 10:23 a.m.More

Ukrainian Admiral: Putin Raising Likelihood of WarMore

Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a narrow-format meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council at Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St Petersburg.

Russian President Vladimir Putin may be planning to escalate the conflict in Ukraine, onlookers say.ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/POOL/TASS

RUSSIA APPEARS POISED to escalate hostilities in Ukraine, according to a new analysis – signs of an uptick in the broader war that the country’s top naval officer says is directed exclusively by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“It is extremely centralized power in Russia. Everything is in the hands of Mr. Putin,” Ukrainian Vice Adm. Ihor Voronchenko tells U.S. News.[ 

SEE: The Week in Cartoons for Dec. 10-14 ]

Twenty-four Ukrainian sailors and seamen on Wednesday remained in Russian custody following a November encounter between the two countries’ navies and security forces in the Black Sea. Russian ships have also blocked access to the Black and Azov seas, limiting Ukraine’s ability to use critical commercial ports and raising the specter of war following four years of simmering conflict.

“I can say with 100 percent probability, all command and control in this operation was run from Moscow. Not Rostov, not Crimea. Everything was given instructions by Mr. Putin,” Voronchenko says.

Russia’s latest activity has followed a monthslong, intense propaganda campaign seeking to spread disinformation about Western activity in Ukraine – home to a U.S.-led military training mission in place since Russia began supporting separatist rebels in the country’s east in 2014. Moscow appears prepared to escalate the conflict.

RELATED CONTENTU.S. Moves to Defy Russia in Black Sea

During a meeting last week, NATO members did not agree on a unified response to Russia’s latest activities, though the U.S. has begun preparations potentially to sail a naval vessel into the Black Sea in defiance of what it considers Russian aggression. American aircraft have also stepped up surveillance flights, including at least one through Ukrainian airspace as an affront to Moscow and show of support for Kiev.

“Russia will likely escalate militarily against Ukraine imminently,” Catherine Harris and Mason Clark, members of the Institute for the Study of War’s research team, wrote in a Tuesday analysis.

“Russia likely perceives the lack of a unified NATO response to Moscow’s aggression in the Sea of Azov as an opportunity to escalate against Ukraine and elsewhere in the future,” they wrote. “None of the responses are likely sufficient to deter Putin, whereas the disagreement itself will likely embolden him.”

Russia has moved ground units nearer its border with Ukraine in recent days, according to the ISW report, and deployed new ships to the Black Sea under the auspices of preparing for training exercises. It has also reportedly begun a propaganda campaign designed to alarm the populations in Ukraine about a Western attack.[ 

READ: U.S. Issues Nuclear Ultimatum to Russia ]

Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s supreme allied commander and head of U.S. armed forces in Europe, was scheduled to meet with his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, in Azerbaijan on Wednesday “to promote military predictability and transparency.”

Voronchenko says Putin appears frustrated and surprised because the Russian leader does not understand why Western countries have responded so intensely to these particular events.

“Now he is extremely nervous, and he’s like a rat in the [corner] of a dark room. He doesn’t know what to do,” the admiral says.

Voronchenko says he has been in email contact with at least one of the detained sailors, who said this week that his morale remains high, though he’s tired of listening to the Russian music his captors offer.

One of the captives was reportedly supposed to begin training to command one of two retired U.S. Coast Guard cutters that Ukraine received in September to add to its modest fleet of naval vessels. Bohdan Nebylytsia was a cadet at the Ukrainian naval academy in Sevastopol, Crimea, when the strategic peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014 – a move Western countries say was illegal. He was among those who refused to side with the Russian occupiers, a spokeswoman at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., says, adding that he sang the Ukrainian national anthem at the Russian flag-raising ceremony.

Voronchenko met with defense officials at the Pentagon on Thursday and was scheduled to meet Navy Chief of Staff Adm. John Richardson on Friday to discuss a new naval strategy Kiev released earlier this year and to plan for countering the threat posed by Russia.

“The U.S. government continues to work closely with our allies and partners in Europe and around the world to support Ukraine in its pursuit of a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the ongoing Russian aggression, including Russia’s recent unprovoked attack on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon says. “DoD leaders will reiterate the U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters, as well as the right of its vessels to traverse international waters.”

The new strategy focuses on modernizing the Ukrainian navy and coastal defenses and coordinating with NATO for exercises in and around the Black Sea.

“These steps and others, I think, demonstrate the seriousness of our commitment, and we are currently considering additional ways the United States might assist Ukraine to further develop its maritime capacity,” U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch said at a security conference in Kiev on Nov. 29.Updated on Dec. 13, 2018: This story has been updated with additional details about meetings between U.S. and Ukrainian officials.

Paul D. Shinkman, Senior National Security Writer

Paul D. Shinkman is a national security reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow h…  READ MORE

Tags: RussiaUkraineworld newsforeign policyVladimir PutinNATO

US consulate in Mexico attacked hours before Mike Pence, Ivanka Trump’s visit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

US consulate in Mexico attacked hours before Mike Pence, Ivanka Trump’s visit

The attack occurred just before Pence and President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka flew into Mexico City on Saturday morning at the head of a high-level US delegation attending the inauguration of Mexico’s new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

WORLD Updated: Dec 02, 2018 08:34 IST

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Guadalaraja (Mexico)
US consulate,Mexico,Guadalaraja
The US consulate in Mexico’s second city, Guadalajara, was attacked with explosives.(AP)

The US consulate in Mexico’s second city, Guadalajara, was attacked with explosives hours before a visit to the country by Vice President Mike Pence and first daughter Ivanka Trump, authorities said Saturday.

The explosion late Friday night damaged a wall but caused no injuries, they said.

“The investigation has been handed over to federal authorities, who will give information on developments in due time,” the prosecutor’s office for the western state of Jalisco, where Guadalajara is located, said on Twitter.

The attack occurred just before Pence and President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka flew into Mexico City on Saturday morning at the head of a high-level US delegation attending the inauguration of Mexico’s new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Prosecution sources said a person threw an explosive device at the building and ran away. The suspect was caught on film by security cameras but evaded authorities, despite the heavy security presence at the building.

Grenade fragments were found at the scene, according to investigation sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The blast left a 40-centimeter hole in an exterior wall.

In a video posted online in recent days, purportedly by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, the powerful drug trafficking organization had threatened to attack the consulate.

The cartel, one of the largest and most violent in Mexico, is a top target for US anti-drug operations.

First Published: Dec 02, 2018 07:14 IST

French Polynesia: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

French Polynesia

Introduction The French annexed various Polynesian island groups during the 19th century. In September 1995, France stirred up widespread protests by resuming nuclear testing on the Mururoa atoll after a three-year moratorium. The tests were suspended in January 1996. In recent years, French Polynesia’s autonomy has been considerably expanded.
History The French Polynesian island groups do not share a common history before the establishment of the French protectorate in 1889. The first French Polynesian islands to be settled by Polynesians were the Marquesas Islands in AD 300 and the Society Islands in AD 800. The Polynesians were organized in petty chieftainships. [2]

European discovery began in 1521 when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan sighted Pukapuka in the Tuamotu Archipelago. Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen discovered Bora Bora in the Society Islands in 1722, and the British explorer Samuel Wallis visited Tahiti in 1767. The French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville visited Tahiti in 1768, while the British explorer James Cook visited in 1769. Christian missions began with Spanish priests who stayed in Tahiti for a year from 1774; Protestants from the London Missionary Society settled permanently in Polynesia in 1797. [2][3]

King Pomare II of Tahiti was forced to flee to Moorea in 1803; he and his subjects were converted to Protestantism in 1812. French Catholic missionaries arrived on Tahiti in 1834; their expulsion in 1836 caused France to send a gunboat in 1838. In 1842, Tahiti and Tahuata were declared a French protectorate, to allow Catholic missionaries to work undisturbed. The capital of Papeete was founded in 1843. In 1880, France annexed Tahiti, changing the status from that of a protectorate to that of a colony. [4]

In the 1880s, France claimed the Tuamotu Archipelago, which formerly belonged to the Palmer dynasty, without formally annexing it. Having declared a protectorate over Tahuatu in 1842, the French regarded the entire Marquesas Islands as French. In 1885, France appointed a governor and established a general council, thus giving it the proper administration for a colony. The islands of Rimatara and Rurutu unsuccessfully lobbied for British protection in 1888, so in 1889 they were annexed by France. Postage stamps were first issued in the colony in 1892. The first official name for the colony was Etablissements De L’Oceanie (Settlements in Oceania); in 1903 the general council was changed to an advisory council and the colony’s name was changed to Etablissements Francaises De L’Oceanie (French Settlements in Oceania).[5]

In 1940 the administration of French Polynesia recognised the Free French Forces and many Polynesians served in World War II. Unknown at the time to French and Polynesians, the Konoe Cabinet in Imperial Japan on September 16, 1940 included French Polynesia among the many territories which were to become Japanese possessions in the post-war world [6] – though in the course of the war in the Pacific the Japanese were not able to launch an actual invasion of the French islands.

In 1946, Polynesians were granted French citizenship and the islands’ status was changed to an overseas territory; the islands’ name was changed in 1957 to Polynésie Française (French Polynesia). In 1962, France’s early nuclear testing ground of Algeria became independent and the Mururoa Atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago was selected as the new testing site; tests were conducted underground after 1974.[7]In 1977, French Polynesia was granted partial internal autonomy; in 1984, the autonomy was extended. French Polynesia became a full overseas collectivity of France in 2004. [3][8]

In September 1995, France stirred up widespread protests by resuming nuclear testing at Fangataufa atoll after a three-year moratorium. The last test was on January 27, 1996. On January 29, 1996, France announced it would accede to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and no longer test nuclear weapons.

Geography Location: Oceania, archipelagoes in the South Pacific Ocean about one-half of the way from South America to Australia
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 S, 140 00 W
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 4,167 sq km (118 islands and atolls)
land: 3,660 sq km
water: 507 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly less than one-third the size of Connecticut
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 2,525 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical, but moderate
Terrain: mixture of rugged high islands and low islands with reefs
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Orohena 2,241 m
Natural resources: timber, fish, cobalt, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 0.75%
permanent crops: 5.5%
other: 93.75% (2005)
Irrigated land: 10 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards: occasional cyclonic storms in January
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: includes five archipelagoes (4 volcanic, 1 coral); Makatea in French Polynesia is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean – the others are Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati and Nauru
People Population: 278,963 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 25.4% (male 36,223/female 34,677)
15-64 years: 68.2% (male 98,784/female 91,585)
65 years and over: 6.3% (male 8,933/female 8,761) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 28.3 years
male: 28.6 years
female: 28 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.461% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 16.41 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 4.61 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.81 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.045 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.079 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.02 male(s)/female
total population: 1.066 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 7.84 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.01 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.62 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.31 years
male: 73.88 years
female: 78.86 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.98 children born/woman (2007 est.)

Ethnic groups: Polynesian 78%, Chinese 12%, local French 6%, metropolitan French 4%
Religions: Protestant 54%, Roman Catholic 30%, other 10%, no religion 6%
Languages: French 61.1% (official), Polynesian 31.4% (official), Asian languages 1.2%, other 0.3%, unspecified 6% (2002 census)
Literacy: definition: age 14 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 98%
female: 98% (1977 est.)

Government Country name: conventional long form: Overseas Lands of French Polynesia
conventional short form: French Polynesia
local long form: Pays d’outre-mer de la Polynesie Francaise
local short form: Polynesie Francaise
former: French Colony of Oceania
Dependency status: overseas lands of France; overseas territory of France from 1946-2004
Government type: NA
Capital: name: Papeete
geographic coordinates: 17 32 S, 149 34 W
time difference: UTC-10 (5 hours behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: none (overseas lands of France); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are five archipelagic divisions named Archipel des Marquises, Archipel des Tuamotu, Archipel des Tubuai, Iles du Vent, Iles Sous-le-Vent
Independence: none (overseas lands of France)
National holiday: Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Constitution: 4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system: the laws of France, where applicable, apply
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Nicolas SARKOZY (since 16 May 2007), represented by High Commissioner of the Republic Anne BOQUET (since September 2005)
head of government: President of French Polynesia Oscar TEMARU (since 13 September 2007); note – President TEMARU resigned on 27 January 2008; President of the Territorial Assembly Antony GEROS (since 9 May 2004)
cabinet: Council of Ministers; president submits a list of members of the Territorial Assembly for approval by them to serve as ministers
elections: French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; high commissioner appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; president of the territorial government and the president of the Territorial Assembly are elected by the members of the assembly for five-year terms (no term limits)
Legislative branch: unicameral Territorial Assembly or Assemblee Territoriale (57 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 27 January 2008 (first round) and 10 February 2008 (second round) (next to be held NA 2013)
election results: percent of vote by party – Our Home alliance 45.2%, Union for Democracy alliance 37.2%, Popular Rally (Tahoeraa Huiraatira) 17.2% other 0.5%; seats by party – Our Home alliance 27, Union for Democracy alliance 20, Popular Rally 10
note: one seat was elected to the French Senate on 27 September 1998 (next to be held in September 2007); results – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – NA; two seats were elected to the French National Assembly on 9 June-16 June 2002 (next to be held in 2007); results – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – UMP/RPR 1, UMP 1
Judicial branch: Court of Appeal or Cour d’Appel; Court of the First Instance or Tribunal de Premiere Instance; Court of Administrative Law or Tribunal Administratif
Political parties and leaders: Alliance for a New Democracy or ADN [Nicole BOUTEAU and Philip SCHYLE](includes the parties The New Star and This Country is Yours); Independent Front for the Liberation of Polynesia (Tavini Huiraatira) [Oscar TEMARU]; New Fatherland Party (Ai’a Api) [Emile VERNAUDON]; Our Home alliance; People’s Rally for the Republic of Polynesia or RPR (Tahoeraa Huiraatira) [Gaston FLOSSE]; Union for Democracy alliance or UPD [Oscar TEMARU]
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: FZ, ITUC, PIF (associate member), SPC, UPU, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas lands of France)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (overseas lands of France)
Flag description: two narrow red horizontal bands encase a wide white band; centered on the white band is a disk with a blue and white wave pattern on the lower half and a gold and white ray pattern on the upper half; a stylized red, blue, and white ship rides on the wave pattern; the French flag is used for official occasions
Government – note: under certain acts of France, French Polynesia has acquired autonomy in all areas except those relating to police and justice, monetary policy, tertiary education, immigration, and defense and foreign affairs; the duties of its president are fashioned after those of the French prime minister
Demographics Total population at the August 2007 census was 259,596 inhabitants.[1] At the 2007 census, 68.6% of the population of French Polynesia lived on the island of Tahiti alone.[1] The urban area of Papeete, the capital city, has 131,695 inhabitants (2007 census).

At the November 2002 census, 87.2% of people were born in French Polynesia, 9.5% were born in metropolitan France, 1.4% were born in overseas France outside of French Polynesia, and 1.9% were born in foreign countries.[13] At the 1988 census, the last census which asked questions regarding ethnicity, 66.5% of people were ethnically unmixed Polynesians, 7.1 % were Polynesians with light European or East Asian mixing, 11.9% were Europeans, 9.3% were people of mixed European and Polynesian descent, the so-called Demis (literally meaning “Half”), and 4.7% were East Asians (mainly Chinese).[14] The Europeans, the Demis and the East Asians are essentially concentrated on the island of Tahiti, particularly in the urban area of Papeete, where their share of the population is thus much more important than in French Polynesia overall.[14] Race mixing has been going on for more than a century already in French Polynesia, resulting in a rather mixed society. For example Gaston Flosse, the current leader of French Polynesia, is a Demi (European father from Lorraine and Polynesian mother).[15] His main opponent Gaston Tong Sang is a member of the East Asian (in his case Chinese) community.[16] Oscar Temaru, the pro-independence leader, is ethnically Polynesian (father from Tahiti, mother from the Cook Islands),[17] but he has admitted to also have Chinese ancestry.[18]

Despite a long tradition of race mixing, racial tensions have been growing in recent years, with politicians using a xenophobic discourse and fanning the flame of racial tensions.[19][18] The pro-independence politicians have long pointed the finger at the European community (Oscar Temaru, pro-independence leader and former president of French Polynesia, was for example found guilty of “racial discrimination” by the criminal court of Papeete in 2007 for having referred to the Europeans living in French Polynesia as “trash”, “waste”).[20] More recently, the Chinese community which controls many businesses in French Polynesia has been targeted in verbal attacks by the newly allied Gaston Flosse and Oscar Temaru in their political fight against Gaston Tong Sang, whose Chinese origins they emphasize in contrast with their Polynesian origins, despite the fact that they both have mixed origins (European and Polynesian for Flosse; Polynesian and Chinese for Temaru).

Kabul suicide bomber kills dozens at gathering of clerics

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Kabul suicide bomber kills dozens at gathering of clerics

An injured person is taken to hospital in KabulImage copyright EPA
Image caption This is one of the deadliest attacks in Kabul in recent months

A suicide bomb attack on a gathering of religious scholars in the Afghan capital, Kabul, has killed at least 43 people, officials say.

At least 83 more were injured as the clerics met at the Uranus hall to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

It is one of the deadliest attacks in Kabul in recent months.

No-one has admitted responsibility for the blast, but the Islamic State group has said it was behind most of the recent deadliest attacks.

Continuing attacks by the Taliban have also stepped up pressure on security forces.

Basir Mujahid, a spokesman for Kabul police, said: “Hundreds of Islamic scholars and their followers had gathered to recite verses from the holy Koran to observe the Eid Milad-un-Nabi festival at the private banquet hall.”

A manager at the hall said the suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of the gathering.

1TV News quoted the health ministry as saying that 24 of the wounded are severely injured.

Map

The Islamic State group said it was behind two attacks in Kabul in August that killed dozens of people.

Dozens were also killed across the country as voters cast ballots in the nation’s parliamentary elections in October.

However, there have been recent moves to try to end decades of war.

This month, Taliban militants for the first time attended an international meeting, hosted by Russia, to discuss the matter.

The Taliban’s power and reach have surged since foreign combat troops left Afghanistan in 2014.

But the Islamic State in Afghanistan group, sometimes known as Islamic State Khorasan, also remains highly active.

Civilian deaths and injuries have have hit record highs. Casualty figures for the conflict, which began in 2001, are the highest since the UN started keeping records in 2009.

Chart showing total civilian casualties in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2017 with steady rise until 2016 and slight decrease in 2017

Trump Shows His Ignorance And Stupidity In Fox News Interview About North Korea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

Trump made some very scary statements about North Korea in his Fox News interview

It looks like he actually considered war at one point.

President Donald Trump answers questions during his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12, 2018, in Singapore.
 Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Donald Trump just basically admitted that the US was very close to going to war with North Korea last year, and that he doesn’t believe clear intelligence showing Pyongyang is improving its missile program.

He made those comments publicly during his Sunday interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace — but you likely didn’t hear about it.

Much of the coverage of the interview has centered on Trump’s disparaging comments about a former top Navy SEAL; his defense of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite mounting evidence that the royal knew about journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder; and his decision to not attend a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington Cemetery because he was “extremely busy.”

All of this overshadowed Trump’s North Korea remarks toward the end of the discussion, but they shouldn’t be missed. His statements show how seriously the president considered Pyongyang a threat last year, but also how incredulous he is of pictures — actual pictures — showing the country’s weapons program is getting better.

Trump also left the door open, however slightly, to considering a fight with Pyongyang again despite his repeated expressions of deep skepticism toward war.

Let’s take each comment in turn.

It seems like war with North Korea was seriously on the table

When Wallace asked Trump about the biggest decision he’s had to make as president, he referred to his discussion on North Korea because “we were very close.”

After mentioning his North Korea chat with former President Barack Obama during the transition, the president said, “I think we had a real decision as to which way to go on North Korea. And certainly, at least so far, I’m very happy with the way we went. I have a very good relationship with Kim.”

President Donald Trump sits next to former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster — who advocated for military options to strike North Korea — on July 18, 2017.
President Donald Trump sits next to former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster — who advocated for military options to strike North Korea — on July 18, 2017.
 Alex Wong/Getty Images

Trump didn’t say the word “war” in that part, but he didn’t have to. When he says “we were very close,” it’s fairly clear he’s referencing attacking the country to punish it over improving its nuclear arsenal, and he’s made references to how close the US and North Korea came to blows before.

That was seriously considered: Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster advocated for military options within the White House, including a limited attack to deter Pyongyang from building more nuclear bombs. But instead, the Trump administration chose another way — the current diplomatic push between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — in part because Kim wants to reduce US-imposed economic pressure on his country.

It’s good news that both Washington and Pyongyang are currently talking instead of making imminent war plans, as a US-North Korea war could turn into a nuclear conflict that leaves millions of people dead.

But while it’s comforting to know war is off the table for now, it’s not comforting to know that Trump had to think hard about that option. And should diplomacy with North Korea not go as planned, it’s possible Trump will be faced with the same choice.

And here’s the bad news: Diplomacy with North Korea isn’t going well.

Trump doesn’t believe North Korea is improving its weapons programs. It is.

Since Trump’s historic June summit with Kim in Singapore, the two have worked to lower tensions. Kim, essentially, wants the US to stop militarily supporting South Korea and threatening the North, while Trump wants Kim to dismantle his nuclear arsenal.

The problem is, North Korea is only improving its weapons capabilities, not tearing them down. For example, a report last week from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, included satellite images showing North Korea had enhanced its ability to launch missiles from a base near South Korea’s border and capital. That comes after credible reports detailing how Pyongyang is continuing to make nuclear weapons, too.

People watch a television broadcast, reporting North Korea’s test-launch of its new missile, at the Seoul Railway Station on November 29, 2017 in South Korea.
People watch a television broadcast, reporting North Korea’s test-launch of its new missile, at the Seoul Railway Station on November 29, 2017, in South Korea.
 Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Wallace brought up the issue during the interview on Sunday, noting “there’s talk that [North Koreans are] putting up new sites.” Trump quickly deflected.

“Maybe they are. Maybe they’re not. I don’t believe that. I don’t. And, you know, could. And which is — if it — if that’s the way it goes, that’s the way it goes. You know, I go with the way we have to go,” the president said.

So Trump doesn’t currently agree with the available intelligence that North Korea is gaining strength while it engages in talks with the US. And while it’s unclear how he feels about secret intelligence he’s privy to, it’s possible he’d come to the same conclusion.

It’s “the policy of denuclearization by denial and delusion,” Vipin Narang, a nuclear expert at MIT, told me. “Hear no evil, see no evil.”

There is, however, some logic behind Trump’s decision to make that statement.

If he admits North Korea deceived him, it would make him look weak in the midst of negotiations and he would have to start curtailing the diplomatic initiative. If that were the case, it’s chilling to think about what Trump — who has expressed deep reservations about war before — means when he says, “I go with the way we have to go.”