The U.S. Military Being In Syria Is An Illegal Act Of War

 

This commentary today is simply my belief’s on the issue of the U.S. still having troops, combat or otherwise within the borders of the sovereign State of Syria. When our mission there was to destroy the illegal Caliphate of ISIS we had a defined reason and mission for being inside the borders of Syria. Since ISIS is now just another run of the mill terror group without a ‘State’ foothold our ‘mission’ there is done. The reason I say that we have no right to be there is because the legitimate government of Syria under its President Mr. Assad has said several times that we are not welcome there and that he wants us out of their country, now.

 

Just because we don’t like the Leader of a country this is not a legal reason for our government leaders to conduct military operations in that country. The last I heard the U.S. is conducting military operations in about 30 countries, why isn’t this enough for the military hawks in our government? As long as the government of these 30 or so countries have asked us in, asked us for help against honest to goodness terrorists, then we have a right to be there, if we so choose to help them. But, in a case like Syria where the government does not want us there and has said that they will attack any of our troops that are on their soil, we have no legal right to be there!

 

What could possibly be the reasoning behind our government keeping troops in Syria? Is our military and our government trying to start a direct war with Syria? Yet a bigger question would be, is our government trying to start not just a direct war with Syria but a proxy war with Iran and with Russia? If this is the case folks there is no doubt that we will end up being in a direct shooting war with Syria, Iran and Russia, is this really what we the people of the U.S.want? I really don’t think so. About the only member of President Trumps Cabinet that I have been backing so far is our Secretary of State Rex Tillerson but about two days ago he made the statement that we (the U.S.) need to be in Syria ‘long term’. I am not such a fan of his now folks.

 

Here in the United States if a country, any country, came inside our borders and started shooting and bombing any of our citizens we would declare War on that country. This would be the case even if our direct neighbors like Canada or Mexico attacked any group of our people whether they be Hispanic, Indian, Oriental, Black or White, we would actively repel them, neighbors or not. Why does our government feel that they have any right to be in Syria without the blessings of the Syrian government? Folks, we don’t have any right to be there, none! I do not like the Leadership of Syria nor the Supreme Leader of Iran nor his flunkies but they are a reality that we have no legal right to depose. It is a shame that we have the relations that we now have with President Putin and Russia and it appears that as long as President Putin is in charge there we will not be able to have the friendship between our Nations that I wish we had. No matter what you or I like or think, by the laws of our Country it is illegal for us to have any troops inside the borders of Syria. Without a Congress approved declaration of War it is also illegal for the U.S. Military to fire any missiles into the sovereign Nation of Syria. We need to get out right now before we blow this up into a World War.

Leading Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic shot dead outside office

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Leading Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic shot dead outside office

Oliver Ivanovic is pictured casting his ballot during local elections in 2013.

(CNN)A prominent Kosovo Serb politician, Oliver Ivanovic, was shot dead outside his party offices Tuesday morning, halting talks between Kosovar and Serb delegates that had been set to resume that day.

Ivanovic was shot at least five times outside his office in the Serb-run Kosovar city of Mitrovica, doctors told Serbian State TV RTS.
Emergency services were notified of the attack at 8.17 a.m (2.17 a.m. ET). Ivanovic was transferred to hospital and resuscitated for 45 minutes before doctors confirmed him dead at 9.15 a.m (3.15 a.m. ET).
Mitrovica
Map data ©2018 GeoBasis-DE/BKG (©2009), Google
Ivanovic, the 64-year-old head of the Kosovo Serb Freedom, Democracy, Justice party was due to attend EU-mediated talks between delegates from Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels. The talks are aimed at normalizing relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia 10 years after the bloody conflict between Serb forces and Kosovar-Albanian rebels. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as an independent country.
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However after Ivanovic’s death, the Belgrade delegation left Brussels to return to Serbia, the Serbian government said in a statement.
Regional Chief of Police for Northern Kosovo, Zeljko Bojic, said in a statement that at 9:15 a.m. a burned out Opel Astra vehicle was found, with special units conducting an investigation of the site.

Serb President: ‘An act of terror’

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic described the murder as “an act of terror” and vowed to find those responsible.
“Serbia will take all necessary measures, and I promised the same to Oliver Ivanovic’s wife, and we will find the killer or killers,” Vucic said in a statement following an emergency meeting of the National Security Council.
Vucic said that Serbia had made a request to EU and UN missions in Kosovo to participate in the investigation.

Major test for Kosovo’s rule of law

The Head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Mission in Kosovo, Jan Braathu, said the murder was “profoundly distressing” and a “major test for the rule of law in Kosovo.”
“He (Ivanovic) was among the most prominent Kosovo Serb representatives for almost two decades,” Braathu said. “He demonstrated relentless engagement for the benefit of his community and has been a valued interlocutor in Kosovo.”
“I have had the privilege of knowing him personally over the years and have always admired his intellect, composure, and commitment. To see that a politician can be murdered in cold blood in 2018 in Kosovo is a devastating thought.”
Ivanovic was facing a retrial for alleged war crimes against ethnic Albanians during the Kosovo war.
This story has been updated to clarify the details around Ivanovic’s death.

President Trump Is Correct About Putting America First

TRUMP PUTTING AMERICA FIRST IS THE ONLY CORRECT THING TO DO

 

As anyone who reads the Blog surely knows by now, I am not at all a fan of Donald Trump. It is difficult for me to think of a civil word in the concept of describing this person. Those who follow this Blog also know that I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton so I hope that you understand this article today is not about being a Democrat or a Republican as I am neither. So far though I do believe that the Republican Party is bringing much harm to themselves by standing behind this President. I do believe that if the Republicans have not gotten the guts to stand with the Democrats and to impeach Trump from Office before the November 2018 Mid-term Elections they are going to get slaughtered in those Elections. On a side note, I also feel that the Christians who are standing with this President are doing a great dishonor to Christ and His Holy Name as there is nothing holy about Mr. Trump. It is right and correct to pray for our Leaders but it is sinful to back sinful policies in the name of Christianity.

 

Now to the main headline of today’s commentary. Ever since Mr. Trump in his Campaign started using the slogan ‘America First’ he has drawn a lot of fire and anger from ‘the left, Democrats and liberals’. To me this anger is total stupidity! I do totally believe that Mr. Trump is a total racists but I do not at all consider this ‘slogan’ to be racist in any way. If Mr. Trump was saying something along the lines of ‘Whites First’ then yes, that would be totally racist. Yet any Leader or want to be Leader of any country who doesn’t create policies to put his own Nation first has no business being a Leader of that Nation. Think about it for a moment, if Mr. Trump’s slogan was ‘China First, or Russia First’, do you think that the American people would have elected him?

 

If Chancellor Merkel of Germany vocally or via policies said her goal is to put the EU before Germany should be voted out of Office? If Prime Minister May of England did the same thing, should she be the Prime Minister? How about President Jinping of China, if he was pushing a policy of Japan first, would he still be the President of China? How about Mr. Putin of Russia, if he was saying ‘America First’, would he still be the President of Russia? What I am saying is, of course Mr. Trump should put the interest of America first, if he didn’t, wouldn’t he then be a traitor to his own Country? What I am saying is, just because you or I believe this person (I have a hard time calling him a man) to be ignorant self-centered scum of the Earth, it does not mean that everything he says is wrong nor from his racist Soul.

US ambassador resigns, saying he can no longer work with Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

US ambassador resigns, saying he can no longer work with Trump

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Feeley was a career diplomat who was sworn in as ambassador in January 2016
  • Deputy Chief of Mission Roxanne Cabral will step in until a new ambassador is nominated

Washington (CNN)The US ambassador to Panama has resigned over differences with the Trump administration.

A State Department spokesperson told CNN that Ambassador John Feeley “has informed the White House, the Department of State and the Government of Panama of his decision to retire for personal reasons, as of March 9 of this year.”
According to an excerpt of his resignation letter that was read to CNN, Feeley’s decision was clearly prompted by differences with the Trump administration but was made well before Thursday’s reporting about President Donald Trump’s “shithole” comments.
“As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the President and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies. My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come,” Feeley wrote.
The letter goes on to say that he leaves the embassy “in good hands” and the US relationship with Panama is “strong.”
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Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steven Goldstein told CNN that Feeley had submitted his resignation letter to the White House in late December.
“Everyone has a line that they don’t want to cross and we respect that,” Goldstein said. “We are sorry to see him go.”
Feeley was a career diplomat who was sworn in as ambassador in January 2016.
The spokesperson said Deputy Chief of Mission Roxanne Cabral will step in until a new ambassador is confirmed.
Panama will join the dozens of countries that do not currently have Senate-confirmed US ambassadors in place, including key US allies like South Korea, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
While senior acting officials hold the reins in these important jobs, they are not permanent appointees and are limited in how long they can hold the roles.
Federal law allows these temporary officeholders to stay in the open jobs for, at most, 300 days. But 320 days have elapsed since the start of the Trump administration and acting officials in the State Department are starting to hit that limit, making presidential nominations more important than ever.

Angolans Left Snickering After Post-Launch Glitch in Country’s First Satellite

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Angolans Left Snickering After Post-Launch Glitch in Country’s First Satellite

The launch of Angosat-1 was broadcast live by Televisão Pública de Angola. Image: screengrab, Clubk Clubk/YouTube.

On 25 December, Angola’s first satellite went into orbit, and the launch was celebrated with a large screen broadcasting it live at Marginal de Luanda, one of the city’s main avenues, accompanied by fireworks.

Named Anglosat-1, the satellite is Russian-made, the fruit of a Russian-Angolan partnership started in 2009, and is intended to bring high-speed internet and radio and television transmission to various countries in Africa and parts of Europe.

However, hours after its launch from Kazakhstan the satellite lost communications with its Earth platform and remained silent for several hours.

Angolans treated the launch and the glitch with humor, but also took the opportunity to question the narratives of the world’s media and the wisdom of spending money on a satellite when human development remains so poor in the country.

Social media was full of comic reactions when news of the satellite’s temporary malfunction broke:

Os fazedores de memes estão cada vez mais rápidos e de humor apurado. “O satélite levou chip da Movicel por isso perdeu rede”; “Encontrou-se o satélite algures no Kwanza-Sul, destruiu as viaturas do soba e do administrador”😆

Meme makers are getting quicker and sharper in wit. “The satellite used a Movicel chip, that’s why it lost connection” [Movicel is a cellphone operator in Angola]; “The satellite was found somewhere in Kwanza-Sul [province in Angola], it destroyed the vehicles of the soba [community-leader] and the administrator”

Ontem os Angolanos lançaram fogo de artifício para comemorar o lançamento do primeiro satélite angolano.
Hoje a agência espacial russa perdeu contacto com o satélite.

Yesterday the Angolans launched fireworks to commemorate the launch of the first Angolan satellite.
Today the Russian space agency lost contact with the satellite.

“Moscovo perde sinal do satélite angolano” já não há porno pra ninguém 😂😂😂

“Moscow lost the signal of the Angolan satellite” now there is no porn for anybody

Must be without a system…
After all, the satellite is Angolan

Some, though, criticized so much attention being given to the fault in the satellite – which finally re-established contact two days later, according to the Russian maker RSC Energia.

Tanta midia internacional subitamente interessada apenas no fracasso do satélite angolano… hate e vontade de não ver um país africano sobressair é assim tão grande ?

So much international media suddenly interested only in the Angolan satellite’s failure… the hate and will to not see an African country stand out is so great?

Angola has become the seventh African country, alongside Algeria, South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, and Tunisia, to have a communications satellite in orbit.

The Angolan government reports that it has invested 320 million US dollars in the project, which it forecasts that it will recover in two years. According to Minister of State Carvalho da Rocha, the telecommunications operators of Angola spend, together, between 15 and 20 million US dollars each month in renting space on other satellites for the region.

Furthermore, the minister said that 40% of the satellite’s capacity has already been sold, to be used by national telecommunications operators, while the rest should be hired by other operators in Africa and parts of Europe. Angosat-1 should stay in orbit for 15 years.

Imagens exclusivas do Angosat.
Satélite angolano será lançado no próximo mês. Técnicos estão a dar os últimos retoques para a conclusão do angosat.

Exclusive images of Angosat.
The Angolan satellite will be launched next month. Technicians are giving the finishing touches to Angosat’s preparation.

However, some raised concerns, such as activist Pedrowski Teca:

I ask:
1 – What is the Russian flag doing on our satellite?
2 – Why is the Russian flag most prominent and Angola’s in second place?
3 – Why is the writing on the satellite in a foreign language (seemingly Russian)?

For Raúl Danda, the satellite is not his priority as an Angolan citizen:

[…] If it is a reason of pride, because it is not just any country that sends its own satellite into space, this episode reminds me of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations; a lot of show for nothing or almost nothing. Many of the stadiums that cost millions and millions of dollars (a “cost” cost and a stolen cost) remain there with grass growing for the goats to graze. At that time, the government of President Eduardo dos Santos (now “ex”) intended only to show that “we can too”! This time that repeats itself. Launching a satellite is a good thing, even really good. But it is first necessary to achieve other things. Buying a BMW while, at home, the children have no bread, is, more than absurd, irrational. Launching a satellite into space while on the ground there is no medicine, food, quality education, healthcare worthy of that name, basic sanitation … and other really basic things, seems to me a terrible irrationality…

Another Angolan activist questioned why the government had brought religious practitioners to attend the launch ceremony:

Aqueles “Lideres Religiosos” que foram levados à Moskovo- Rússia, no âmbito do lançamento do tal satelite que já anda desaparecido foram mesmo fazer o que ?
Este governo parece que ainda não deixou o habito de gastar dinheiro desnecessáriamente, ou estes custiaram a sua viajem?

Those “religious leaders” who were brought to Moscow-Russia, for the launch of the satellite which has already gone missing, were there to do what? It seems that this government has not stopped its habit of spending money unnecessarily, or did they pay for their own travel?

(Poem) O Say Can You See—(George W Bush and the Saudi King)

O SAY CAN YOU SEE

 

O say can you see the demons in white

Weather in an office of Oval or Mecca’s moonlight

O how they smile and they grin

While at the ranch they walk holding hands

Their black gold is only a means to their ends

To God or to man they are no humans friends

When your goal is power and wealth

Their prayers, God turns his face, an abomination to Him

They are only for others consumption

As they try so hard to conceal the Demon’s within

O say can you see your Master awaits

At the lake filled with fire their eternity awaits

While it is still day and your fate is not yet set

These leaders remain in my prayers though they don’t care

Hoping for all , this fate, is one we are all able to escape

Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch to retire, clearing way for Mitt Romney

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch to retire, clearing way for Mitt Romney

(CNN)Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch announced Tuesday that he won’t seek re-election this year, clearing the way for Mitt Romney to return to the national stage by running for his seat.

He said in a social media message, “after much prayer and discussion with family and friends I’ve decided to retire at the end of this term.”
Hatch, the Senate’s longest serving Republican, has wrestled with the decision for months, emboldened by the entreaties of President Donald Trump to seek an eighth term.
During an event last month at the Utah Capitol where Trump celebrated the administration’s decision to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, Trump called Hatch “a true fighter” and said he hoped the Republican would continue to serve “in the Senate for a very long time to come.”
The 83-year-old Hatch set off retirement rumors early last year when he said in an interview that he hoped to see Romney one day take his place. But he reversed course and repeatedly insisted to reporters that he “intended” to seek re-election. Last month, Hatch reveled in the spotlight as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee while shepherding a massive tax bill through the Senate — attention, friends and colleagues said, that made him lean toward running again.
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“I’ve always been a fighter. I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington,” Hatch said in a video statement. “But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves.”
If Hatch had opted to stay in the Senate, he could have faced a formidable challenge from a crop of ambitious Utah Republicans. Boyd Matheson, the former chief of staff to Sen. Mike Lee, seriously considered a bid last fall — going so far as to meet with former Trump strategists Steve Bannon and David Bossie.
But as it became clear that Romney would likely run if Hatch bowed out, Matheson withdrew from contention — an acknowledgment that the 2012 Republican presidential nominee is wildly popular in Utah and would have little trouble securing the seat.
Romney did not have an immediate public reaction to Hatch’s announcement.

Criticism at home

While Hatch is revered for his long service to Utahns and easily won re-election last cycle after spending $10 million, voters are clearly restive. Three-quarters of Utahans said it was time for someone else to serve in the Senate, according to a poll late last year by the Hinckley Institute at the University of Utah.
In December, The Salt Lake Tribune published a scathing editorial calling on Hatch to step down — as the paper named him as “The Tribune’s Utahn of the Year,” noting that he has never wielded more clout.
The editorial criticized Hatch for “his utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power.” The editorial board noted that Hatch promised that 2012 would be his last race: “Clearly it was a lie.”
“It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career,” the editorial board wrote. “If he doesn’t, the voters should end it for him.”
The newspaper pointed out that Hatch, who has referred to himself as “a tough old bird,” has faced questions about his age and his health — acknowledging that his decision on whether to run again would likely hinge on his own health and the health of his wife.
“He has been a senator from Utah longer than three-fifths of the state’s population has been alive,” the editorial board wrote.

There’s more to Trump’s ‘fair’ prediction on Mueller probe than meets the eye

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

There’s more to Trump’s ‘fair’ prediction on Mueller probe than meets the eye

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Trump raises questions on how he’ll act if Mueller doesn’t end his probe soon
  • “I hope that he’s going to be fair,” Trump told The New York Times

(CNN)President Donald Trump’s latest interview with The New York Times is a many layered exercise of political positioning, calculated ambiguity and veiled menace.

On the face of it, the President appears to undercut a holiday season campaign by Hill Republicans and the pro-Trump media to discredit Robert Mueller’s probe by saying he believes the special counsel will be “fair” to him.
Yet Trump raises implicit questions about how he will act if Mueller does not soon end his investigation and clear him. Other comments in the interview are already prompting new concerns about the President’s perception of his own powers of jurisdiction over the Mueller inquiry and the Justice Department itself.
Trump also used the session to direct a stinging new critique toward Jeff Sessions, revealing the President’s still boiling fury with the attorney general, which will provoke new speculation about how long the former Alabama senator will survive in his job.
The interview, conducted Thursday during Trump’s stay at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, offers a fascinating glimpse into the President’s mind and mood as the Russia investigation hangs over his administration despite a strong end-of-year streak that saw the passage of the most sweeping tax reform law in 30 years.
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He stayed true to his recent strategy of not criticizing Mueller personally, though many of his supporters among Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the pro-Trump media are waging an escalating campaign against the special counsel and arguing that his subordinates are biased against Trump.
“I hope that he’s going to be fair. I think that he’s going to be fair. … There’s been no collusion. But I think he’s going to be fair,” Trump said.
The President’s comments could be seen as an above-the-board attempt to ensure that Mueller’s capacity to finish his investigation is not compromised. Or perhaps his motivation is to set up a good guy/bad guy scenario as his allies continue to attack the special counsel.

Defining ‘fair’

Lead Chalian new CNN Russia poll live_00011812

  
New CNN poll on Russia 
It’s impossible to know what the President is really thinking, since his remarks are characteristically ambiguous and open to so many interpretations. They allow his supporters and adversaries to take specific messages, while allowing him plausible deniability that he is trying to lean on Mueller or Justice authorities.
One example of this is when Trump defines what fairness means in his mind: a swift conclusion by Mueller that there was no cooperation between his campaign and Russia in last year’s election. The implications of a verdict that does not measure up to his expectations remain unspecified but ominous possibilities are left hanging in the air.
“Everybody knows the answer already. There was no collusion. None whatsoever,” Trump said, before returning over and over again to the “no collusion” line throughout the interview.
While there has been no proof offered of collusion so far either by Mueller or multiple congressional investigations into the matter, no probe into the affair has yet concluded that collusion did not exist. And Trump’s comment that all Democrats say there is no collusion — while not being true — also appears to be an attempt to prejudge the outcome of the various inquiries.
Mueller is not investigating the collusion issue alone. His moves so far — for instance, the plea deal with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and interviews with White House staff — suggest he is also probing whether the President obstructed justice.
In the interview, Trump maintains that the prevailing shadow of the Russia investigation is detrimental to the best interests of the United States at large. His gambit follows reports by CNN that his lawyers have told him they believe the Mueller probe will be wrapped up soon and that he will be exonerated, despite the lack of outside signs that the special counsel is anywhere near that point.
“The only thing that bothers me about timing, I think it’s a very bad thing for the country. Because it makes the country look bad. It makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position,” Trump said.
“So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.”
Taken at face value, those comments can be read as evidence of altruistic concern by a head of state for the damage a divisive affair is wreaking on US political and judicial institutions, and they will be perceived that way by Trump supporters.
“We have one investigation, let alone three right right now currently going on to address issues related to the last election,” Republican Rep. Rodney Davis said on CNN’s “New Day” on Friday.
“I think the President is clear in his distaste for the disarray that any investigation causes. And I think he’s right to say that.”
Yet to critics concerned about an authoritarian streak that Trump has displayed throughout his 11 months in power, and his propensity to attack institutions like the FBI and the Justice Department, his motive in equating his personal, political interests with those of the nation may appear more sinister.
Some Republicans don’t agree with the President, saying the nation’s interests are better served by pursuing the Russia probes to their rightful end and that the investigations show the robustness of American civic institutions.
“I believe the Russia investigation, you know, speaks to our transparency in many ways,” Republican Rep. Charlie Dent told “New Day.” “The Russians meddled in our elections, and not only here but throughout the world, and it’s important this be investigated by Congress and Director Mueller.”
“We have to let him do his work and let’s see what he finds before we jump to conclusions,” Dent said.

Justice Department powers

Analyst: No job safe in Trump administration

  
Analyst: No job safe in Trump administration
Trump’s interview also contains a remarkable assertion of presidential power over the Justice Department that will do little to quell concerns among the President’s critics who fear he may eventually move to dismiss Mueller as the investigation gets ever closer to the Oval Office.
Asked whether the investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s private email server should be reopened, Trump makes a case that such a move could be within his purview.
“What I’ve done is, I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter,” Trump told the Times.
While the President can remove top Justice Department officials and the head of the FBI, presidents have traditionally sought to avoid perceptions they are influencing or politicizing the act of implementing the law.
The word “absolute” in this context is a loaded one. And should Trump order the department to end an investigation into his own conduct, he could open himself to accusations that he is obstructing justice.
The hint that Trump retains the right to use the department to investigate his enemies will raise fresh worries that he could test constitutional norms in the future.
Former US Attorney Michael Moore said Trump’s comments made him sound like a king or an emperor.
“He has absolutely no idea what his constitutional role or responsibilities or limitations are,” Moore told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on Friday.
“The Justice Department is not his tool. It maintains independence for a very specific reason. It is not a tool of the administration either to persecute your political enemies or to somehow be a cheerleader for political accomplishments,” Moore said.
Trump’s interview also aimed another body blow at Sessions, who the President has repeatedly criticized for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, given Sessions’ previous role as a member of the President’s campaign team.
Trump was asked if former Attorney General Eric Holder was more loyal to his President, Barack Obama, than Sessions is to him.
“I don’t want to get into loyalty,” Trump said, while also taking a characteristic swipe at the previous administration.
“I will say this: Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him,” Trump said.
“When you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the President. And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest,” he said.

Mitch McConnell’s tax plan slammed tiny Berea College; nevertheless, he persisted

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LEXINGTON KENTUCKY CURRIER JOURNAL)

 

Mitch McConnell’s tax plan slammed tiny Berea College; nevertheless, he persisted | Joseph Gerth

https://uw-media.courier-journal.com/video/embed/108794256?sitelabel=reimagine&platform=desktop&continuousplay=true&placement=uw-smallarticleattophtml5&pagetype=story

In a White House press conference, President Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and other republican leaders celebrated the passage of a new tax plan. USA TODAY

Mitch McConnell is a stickler for rules.

Heck, he’s even a stickler for rules that don’t exist. Like the one about not considering Supreme Court appointments in an election year.

That’s why it seems so, well, so hypocritical of him to write a letter to Courier Journal whining that we shouldn’t blame him for his tax reform bill that will cost Kentucky’s tiny Berea College as much as $1 million dollars a year in additional taxes.

See, McConnell proposed his tax reform bill that was designed to get at some of the money that is being stashed away at liberal universities like Yale and Harvard.

When he learned that the bill would also ensnare Berea, which educates poor mountain students for free, he tried to exempt the college located in Madison County, leaving all other private colleges with large endowments to pay the freight.

Trouble is, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that his effort to carve out Berea violated the rules.

So, surely, McConnell stopped the process and vowed to get it right. Right?

Nope.

More columns from Joseph Gerth

Braidy Industries wants your money but not your scrutiny
Old, poor and black? The city of Prospect doesn’t want you
The Bevin administration is trying to operate in secret – again

To paraphrase ol’ Addison Mitchell McConnell: He had appeared to violate the rule, He was warned. He was given an explanation. Nevertheless, he persisted.

Yep, he steamed right ahead, despite the fact that he knew his tax bill would mean that Berea will have to cut the number of scholarships it gives to poor students and cut the number of poor students educated, just so McConnell and his millionaire and billionaire buddies get a big tax break.

Oh, you’ll get one too.

It will be smaller. Much smaller.

And there will be tax breaks available to the extremely wealthy that aren’t available to you. And the federal deficit will rise, requiring Congress to slash programs that mean a heck of a lot more to you and your families than to the extremely wealthy.

But hey.

No biggie. Right?

Instead of deciding that the Senate would stop the process, rewrite the bill, fix it, do it right, vote on it early next year, McConnell forged ahead.

Part of that was to give President Donald Trump a victory in his first year as president but part of it was likely to get around the problem of a smaller GOP majority in the Senate when Democrat Doug Jones, of Alabama, is sworn in to replace Republican Luther Strange.

And McConnell is nothing if not consistent when it comes to making sure important legislation is acted upon quickly before there is a midterm change in Senate makeup.

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You remember back in 2010, when he demanded that the Senate deal with Obamacare legislation before Republican Scott Brown was seated to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, don’t you?

Nope?

Oh, yeah. That didn’t happen.

Sorry about that.

OK, so let’s get this straight.

Tax bill hurts Kentucky College. McConnell’s attempted fix violates Senate procedures. He pushes it through anyway because, well, politics.

Now, what to do?

Blame Democrats.

That’s right. And in this case, a Democratic Socialist. Bernie Sanders.

Sure, he’s got a Republican majority in the Senate. Sure, he’s the most powerful man in the Senate. Sure, he’s got a Republican as vice president who would break a tie in the Senate in the case that he lost a couple of votes.

Sure, he used a parliamentary move called “reconciliation” that allowed him to pass  legislation without threat of a filibuster – something that he screamed long and loud about when Democrats used it to pass the Affordable Care Act.

Sure, he voted for it, as did Rep. Andy Barr, the Republican from Lexington who has Berea College in the district. Sure, not a single Democrat in the Senate voted for his tax bill.

But it’s the Democrats’ fault that McConnell’s tax bill is poised to cost Berea College a million dollars a year and force it to cut services to bright kids from the mountains who otherwise won’t have a chance to attend college?

The fact is that McConnell is to blame. He had appeared to violate the rule. He was warned. He was given an explanation. Nevertheless, he persisted.

Joseph Gerth’s column runs on most Sundays and at various times throughout the week. He can be reached at 502-582-4702 or by email at [email protected] Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/josephg.

Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny barred from entering presidential race

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny barred from entering presidential race

Story highlights

  •  Navalny will appeal the decision to bar him from the presidential race
  • Navalny has called for a boycott of the March 2018 election

Moscow (CNN)Russian officials barred activist Alexey Navalny from entering the country’s presidential race a day after he held nomination gatherings to kick off his run, according to state-run media outlet RIA-Novosti.

Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) rejected Navalny’s registration the day after he submitted it, citing a previous embezzlement conviction, RIA-Novosti reported.
“Firstly, a citizen who has been sentenced to imprisonment for committing a grave or especially grave crime and who has an outstanding conviction for the said crime, has no right to be elected president of the Russian federation,” said CEC member Boris Ebzeev.
The decision was not a surprise. Navalny’s candidacy was unlikely because Russian law prevents convicted criminals from running for public office, though Navalny and his supporters have said his conviction was politically motivated to block his presidential bid.
Navalny will appeal the commission’s decision, his campaign press secretary Ruslan Shaveddinov told CNN late Monday.
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Navalny would be running against incumbent President Vladimir Putin, who announced his intention to seek re-election — his fourth presidential bid — as an independent candidate at his annual press conference earlier this month.
At the time, he said his aim was for Russia to have a “competitive” and “balanced” political system, but it wasn’t his responsibility to create political opponents.
“I want this,” Putin said, “and I will strive for a balanced political system and that is impossible without competition in the political field.”
Putin has been either the Prime Minister or President of Russia since 1999.
In response to a question about why Russia lacked effective opposition leaders, Putin said most of the current opposition figures were more focused on “making noise” instead of a genuine agenda that could benefit the country.
Navalny called for a boycott of the March 2018 election in response to the CEC’s decision.
“We are announcing a voters’ strike,” Navalny said. “The procedure in which we are invited to participate is not an election. It involves only Putin and those candidates whom he personally chose, who do not pose a slightest threat to him.”
The opposition activist is widely popular among young people and has tapped into anger over a sluggish economy and endemic corruption. Navalny first rose to prominence during 2011’s large-scale anti-government protests.

Expert: Putin will ‘almost without a doubt’ win election

Jill Dougherty, a Russia expert and former CNN Moscow bureau chief, said Navalny still has a role to play in the presidential race, though it probably won’t be as a candidate.
“I think he will be a factor,” she said, “but he will not be an organized participant in any electoral process. He will be kept on the outside and he is definitely opposition, so he’s used to being kept on the outside.”
But Navalny’s support among young Russians could also play a factor in the election.
“A lot of the people who support him are very young, like 19 or 20 years old — sometimes even younger,” Dougherty said, and they have been exposed to the rest of the world and the way the rest of the world lives, and they are dissatisfied.
“Their dissatisfaction, although not very focused at this point, is a factor the Kremlin is worried about,” she said. “The Kremlin is very focused on the youth and making sure that young people support Putin.”

Meet the Russian socialite running for president

Meet the Russian socialite running for president 10:29
Dougherty also pointed to Ksenia Sobchak — a Russian socialite and reality TV star who has said she wants to challenge Putin — as someone who could offer a liberal alternative to Putin if Navalny can’t run. But Navalny’s supporters wouldn’t necessarily support her, she said.
“Putin will almost without a doubt win the election,” Dougherty said, “because he is supported by the majority of Russians and because the system is organized … to favor his candidacy.”
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