Australia’s Prime Minister Slowly Realizes Trump Is A Complete Idiot

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘NEW YORK MAGAZINE.COM’)

(Is Donald “FAKE NEWS” Trump The Biggest Idiot On Earth?)(TRS)

11:49 am

Australia’s Prime Minister Slowly Realizes Trump Is a Complete Idiot

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Donald Trump and Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Getty Images

The transcript of Donald Trump’s discussion with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull obtained by the Washington Post reveals many things, but the most significant may be that Trump in his private negotiations is every bit as mentally limited as he appears to be in public.
At issue in the conversation is a deal to settle 1,250 refugees who have been detained by Australia in the United States. I did not pay any attention to the details of this agreement before reading the transcript. By the time I was halfway through it, my brain could not stop screaming at Trump for his failure to understand what Turnbull was telling him.

Australia has a policy of refusing to accept refugees who arrive by boat. The reason, as Turnbull patiently attempts to explain several times, is that it believes giving refuge to people who arrive by boat would encourage smuggling and create unsafe passage with a high risk of deaths at sea. But it had a large number of refugees who had arrived by sea, living in difficult conditions, whom Australia would not resettle (for fear of encouraging more boat trafficking) but whom it did not want to deport, either. The United States government agreed under President Obama to vet 1,250 of these refugees and accept as many of them as it deemed safe.

In the transcript, Trump is unable to absorb any of these facts. He calls the refugees “prisoners,” and repeatedly brings up the Cuban boatlift (in which Castro dumped criminals onto Florida). He is unable to absorb Turnbull’s explanation that they are economic refugees, not from conflict zones, and that the United States has the ability to turn away any of them it deems dangerous.

Donald Trump Is His Own Worst Enemy

President Trump’s efforts to fix his headline-making crises often have the effect of making the situation worse.

Turnbull tries to explain to Trump that refugees have not been detained because they pose a danger to Australian society, but in order to deter ship-based smuggling:

Trump: Why haven’t you let them out? Why have you not let them into your society?

Turnbull: Okay, I will explain why. It is not because they are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers, we had to deprive them of the product. So we said if you try to come to Australia by boat, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Noble [sic] Prize winning genius, we will not let you in. Because the problem with the people —

At this point, Trump fails to understand the policy altogether, and proceeds to congratulate Turnbull for what Trump mistakes to be a draconian policy of total exclusion:

Trump: That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am … Because you do not want to destroy your country. Look at what has happened in Germany. Look at what is happening in these countries.

Trump has completely failed to understand either that the refugees are not considered dangerous, or, again, that they are being held because of a categorical ban on ship-based refugee traffic.

He also fails to understand the number of refugees in the agreement:

Trump: I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week.

Turnbull: With great respect, that is not right – It is not 2,000.

Trump: Well, it is close. I have also heard like 5,000 as well.

Turnbull: The given number in the agreement is 1,250 and it is entirely a matter of your vetting.

Then Trump returns to his belief that they are bad, and failing to understand the concept that they have been detained merely because they arrived by sea and not because they committed a crime:

Trump: I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.

Turnbull: I would not be so sure about that. They are basically —

Trump: Well, maybe you should let them out of prison.

He still thinks they’re criminals.

Later, Trump asks what happens if all the refugees fail his vetting process:

Trump: I hate having to do it, but I am still going to vet them very closely. Suppose I vet them closely and I do not take any?

Turnbull: That is the point I have been trying to make.

After several attempts by Turnbull to explain Australia’s policy, Trump again expresses his total inability to understand what it is:

Trump: Does anybody know who these people are? Who are they? Where do they come from? Are they going to become the Boston bomber in five years? Or two years? Who are these people?

Turnbull: Let me explain. We know exactly who they are. They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.

Trump: Malcom [sic], but they are arrived on a boat?

After Turnbull has told Trump several times that the refugees have been detained because they arrived by boat, and only for that reason, Trump’s question is, “But they are arrived on a boat?”

Soon after, Turnbull again reiterates that Australia’s policy is to detain any refugee who arrives by boat:

Turnbull: The only people that we do not take are people who come by boa. So we would rather take a not very attractive guy that help you out then to take a Noble [sic] Peace Prize winner that comes by boat. That is the point.”

Trump: What is the thing with boats? Why do you discriminate against boats? No, I know, they come from certain regions. I get it.

No, you don’t get it at all! It’s not that they come from certain regions! It’s that they come by boat!

So Turnbull very patiently tries to explain again that the policy has nothing to do with what region the refugees come from:

Turnbull: No, let me explain why. The problem with the boats it that you are basically outsourcing your immigration program to people smugglers and also you get thousands of people drowning at sea.

At this point, Trump gives up asking about the policy and just starts venting about the terribleness of deals in general:

I do not know what he got out of it. We never get anything out of it — START Treaty, the Iran deal. I do not know where they find these people to make these stupid deals. I am going to get killed on this thing.

Shortly afterward, the call ends in brusque fashion, and Turnbull presumably begins drinking heavily.

Kim Jong Un Is Threatening To Strike Guam With His Missiles

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Hong Kong (CNN) US President Donald Trump’s threats of “fire and fury” against North Korea couldn’t come at a worse time for China.

One of North Korea’s closest diplomatic partners, China has long attempted to avoid conflict between Washington and Pyongyang, calling for both sides to make concessions.
In a statement Wednesday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said parties should “avoid remarks and actions that could aggravate conflicts and escalate tensions.”
“China calls on all relevant sides to uphold the broad direction of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue through political means,” the statement said.
Tong Zhao, associate at the Carnegie Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, told CNN the recent tensions come at a time when Beijing is keen to promote stability ahead of the 19th Communist Party National Congress, China’s twice a decade handover of power scheduled for later this year.
“China has other regional crises as well, the border dispute with India, the South China Sea … it’s really bad timing for another real crisis to emerge in North Korea,” Zhao said.
Speaking at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey Tuesday, the US president said North Korea would face might “like the world has never seen” if it continued to make threats.

Gary Samore: Korea de-nuclearization unrealistic

Gary Samore: Korea de-nuclearization unrealistic 06:07
Within hours of Trump’s statement, North Korea issued a statement warning of a possible strike on areas around the US territory of Guam.
Any armed conflict between the two adversaries would be “the worst case scenario” for China, Zhao added, saying there was no indication yet how Chinese President Xi Jinping would react to any hostilities.

Military action on Korean Peninsula?

In recent months, there have been some hints of preparations by China in case the worst should happen and war breaks out in North Korea.
In July, military and government reports showed the country’s northern border region, which includes the 880 mile (1,415 kilometer) North Korean-Chinese border, was being reinforced with extra Chinese troops.
But Zhao said even China is unsure who it would support in the event of any armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
“There are too many uncertain variables — who initiates it? Who bears more responsibility? How will the war affect the economy? Too much uncertainty and I don’t think China can give a simple answer about how it will respond,” he said.
Part of the problem is the strict silence imposed on Chinese media and academics by Beijing, according to Zhao, making it harder to discern what discussions are taking place behind closed doors.
“China has been very secretive about North Korea so it’s hard to tell, hard to find those signs,” he said.
A potential conflict between North Korea and the United States isn’t the only military threat hanging over China’s head.
An ongoing border dispute between China and India has escalated in recent weeks, with one military officer declaring in July China would preserve its “sovereign territory … at any cost.
“It’s possible that military conflict could break out with India,” Zhao said.

China seeks calm before congress

China is determined to present a stable and powerful image in advance of the 19th Party Congress. Held by the country’s ruling Communist Party every five years, it’s when Beijing unveils the new leadership team for the next half decade.
For months President Xi Jinping has been carefully preparing the ground for the meeting, where he is expected to solidify his power over China’s government.

US rips China after N. Korean missile test

US rips China after N. Korean missile test 02:09
Xi likely to use the event to fill the country’s powerful Politburo and Standing Committee with his allies, making the autumn congress effectively a coronation confirming the president as easily the most powerful man in one of the world’s most powerful countries.
But Zhao said an increasingly erratic North Korea is now threatening to overshadow the Communist Party’s big day.
Beijing has maintained a clear and consistent position on North Korea for months, calling on multiple occasions for Pyongyang to halt its nuclear weapons program in exchange for the US and South Korea holding off on military drills.
Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at Sydney’s Lowy Institute, says there has been no indication of a change in policy from Beijing.
“(But) the problem is having essentially bet his credibility on a tweet back in January … it is hard for Trump to restore it without escalating to a military solution. That obviously would be the latest worry in Beijing,” he said.
But Graham added despite the difficult position China found itself in, there was one silver lining to the North Korean cloud.
“The sanctions bill which went through the UN recently didn’t target Chinese entities directly … they’ll actually be relieved they’re not being directly targeted by the US as many have feared,” he said.

FBI Raided Paul Manafort’s Home July 26th, 2017

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Washington (CNN) FBI agents raided a home of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort last month, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.

The agents seized materials in Manafort’s home as part of the ongoing Russia investigation led by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the source said.
“FBI agents executed a search warrant at one of Mr. Manafort’s residences. Mr. Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well,” Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, told CNN. He declined to provide further details.
The so-called no-knock warrant, which was first reported by The Washington Post, was served at Manafort’s home in Washington’s northern Virginia suburbs on July 26, the day after Manafort met with Senate intelligence committee investigators.
The tactic appears unusual for a case that has been under investigation for months and for which Manafort has already turned over hundreds of pages of documents to Senate investigators. The source told CNN the documents seized included financial and tax records and at least some of the information had already been provided to Senate investigators.
Since his appointment in May, Mueller has quietly gathered a team of more than three dozen attorneys, investigators and other staff in a nondescript office in Washington. Officials familiar with the probe describe it as akin to a small US attorney’s office, with FBI agents and prosecutors assigned to separate groups looking into various aspects of the investigation.
These include groups of investigators and lawyers focused separately on Russian collusion and obstruction of justice, as well as the investigations focused on Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a US official briefed on the investigation has told CNN.
So far, Trump’s campaign has turned over approximately 20,000 pages to the Senate judiciary committee, which is investigating Russia’s interference in the election, while Manafort turned over approximately 400 pages and Donald Trump Jr. turned over about 250 pages.
Fusion GPS, the firm that compiled a dossier at the center of the federal Russia probe, has not yet turned over any documents, according to the committee’s spokesperson, though a source told CNN the firm plans to provide the committee with “thousands” of pages of documents Wednesday.
The spokesperson declined to provide details about the specific contents of the documents.

National Conference of State Legislatures Passes Resolution Urging De-Scheduling of Marijuana

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF MPP)

 

MPP Blog


National Conference of State Legislatures Passes Resolution Urging De-Scheduling of Marijuana

Posted: 07 Aug 2017 02:40 PM PDT

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) approved a resolution Monday urging that the Controlled Substances Act should be amended to remove marijuana from scheduling in order to give federally approved banks the ability to work with marijuana businesses. This would also allow states to determine their own marijuana policies without the threat of federal interference. For a resolution to pass, it must be supported by a majority of participating legislators in each of 75% of the states represented at the conference’s general business meeting.

Due to the Schedule I status of marijuana under federal law, federally insured banks risk penalties if they offer financial services to marijuana-related businesses. For that reason, many of these businesses are forced to operate on a cash-only basis, making them a target for criminals. While limited guidance has been issued, which intended to encourage financial institutions to serve marijuana businesses, access to banking remains a problem.

The full resolution can be found here.

MPP’s Karen O’Keefe said the following statement in a press release:

“State legislators and the vast majority of voters agree that marijuana policy should be left to the states,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, which tracks marijuana policy in all 50 states and lobbies in state legislatures throughout the country.

“Legitimate, taxpaying marijuana businesses should not have to face the difficulties of operating on a cash-only basis. Allowing banks to offer them financial services will be good for the industry and benefit public safety,” O’Keefe continues. “Even more so, states should not have to worry about the federal government interfering with their marijuana policy choices.”

The post National Conference of State Legislatures Passes Resolution Urging De-Scheduling of Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.

  

South Dakota Has 90 Days to Collect Enough Signatures for 2018 Ballot

Posted: 07 Aug 2017 10:22 AM PDT

New Approach South Dakota has 90 days to collect the remaining signatures needed to place marijuana initiative measures on the 2018 ballot.

Two petitions are being circulated — one seeks to legalize marijuana for medical uses and the other to legalize certain amounts of marijuana for adult use and to regulate and tax marijuana businesses.

Signatures are tied to the number of votes cast in the state’s most recent gubernatorial election, so each petition needs at least 13,871 signatures by November 2017 to make it on the November 2018 ballot.

To read the petitions and for more information about adding your signature, check out New Approach South Dakota’s website.

The post South Dakota Has 90 Days to Collect Enough Signatures for 2018 Ballot appeared first on MPP Blog.

  

Burning Man and Marijuana Laws

Posted: 07 Aug 2017 10:15 AM PDT

Heading to Burning Man? Here’s what you need to know about Black Rock City’s and Nevada’s marijuana laws.

If you are heading to Burning Man this year, you may be thinking about bringing cannabis to the playa, now that Nevada finally legalized marijuana. Not so fast! Before you head out, there are some important things you need to know:

  • Burning man is held on FEDERAL land, and the Bureau of Land Management will enforce federal law, which unfortunately considers all marijuana possession a criminal offense — even if you have a medial card! BLM may also ticket you for violations of various rules in the “closure order,” though these, thankfully, are civil rather than criminal.
  • “Gifting” marijuana to others is drug trafficking under federal law, even though no money is being exchanged. And if you are caught selling marijuana, or are found in possession of more than 1 oz., you will likely be prosecuted under Nevada law by the local Pershing County Sheriffs, who also patrol Burning Man.
  • Especially important: GATE ROAD is also federal property, and in the past, a lot of the law enforcement activity has occurred while people are driving into the event. Keep in mind that you have fewer rights while driving than you do in your home (or in this case, your tent or RV), and can be stopped for a broken taillight or any other minor infraction by law enforcement, who may ask you for consent to search your vehicle (you have the right to refuse). Any marijuana consumption while on the Gate Road could result in a ticket or charges for DUI or marijuana possession.
  • Before or after Burning Man, when you are not on federal land: Adults ages 21 and older may legally purchase marijuana from retail establishments in Nevada! MPP supported the initiative that made Nevada the fifth of eight states to end prohibition.
  • Public consumption could result in a misdemeanor charge, with a fine of up to $600. And because the casinos’ regulators directed them to follow federal law, you cannot consume in hotel-casinos. MPP and our allies hope to establish safe, legal consumption spaces for tourists, but that won’t happen before Burning Man 2017. But you can consume in private homes, which may include private homes for rent.
  • You should also know that Nevada has very strict laws on driving under the influence of marijuana. There is a “per se” threshold of 2 ng/mL of THC in your blood, meaning that you can be convicted based on a positive test result whether you were impaired or not. If you are a regular marijuana consumer, please note that you can have this amount in your system even if you haven’t consumed in a couple of days.
  • If you do have an encounter with law enforcement, it’s always a good idea to know your rights. In addition, Burning Man would like to know about your experience, and if you get into trouble, you can reach out to the volunteer group Lawyers for Burners for help after you return home.

This legal information is provided as a courtesy and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, which is an interpretation of the applicable law to your specific circumstances, we encourage you to consult an attorney. MPP is offering this information as a public service and is in no way affiliated with the Burning Man Project.

The post Burning Man and Marijuana Laws appeared first on MPP Blog.

  

For Donald Trump, the noose is tightening

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

For Donald Trump, the noose is tightening

At the end of six months in office, Donald Trump doesn’t have a single legislative achievement to crow about. The failure to repeal ‘Obamacare’ is the biggest. Another setback for Trump is Congress’ move to impose new sanctions on Russia. Added to this is the investigation into his and his team’s involvement with Russia during the 2016 election

OPINION Updated: Aug 08, 2017 08:21 IST

US President Donald Trump’s poll ratings are lower than ever – and the lowest of any president at such an early point in an administration. Members of his own Republican Party are distancing themselves from him
US President Donald Trump’s poll ratings are lower than ever – and the lowest of any president at such an early point in an administration. Members of his own Republican Party are distancing themselves from him(AFP)

Even with a new minder trying to bring some order to the White House, United States President Donald Trump remains in a heap of trouble. The recent installation of retired general John Kelly, formerly Trump’s secretary for homeland security, as chief of staff, replacing the hapless Reince Priebus, has reduced some of the internal chaos and induced a bit more discipline in Trump’s behaviour. But all this could change any day, or at any moment.

Kelly has put a stop to aides sauntering into the Oval Office whenever they felt like it –Trump tends to echo the last person he’s spoken with – and has demanded that papers and memos for the president be submitted to him first. For the time being, at least, the president’s tweeting has been reduced in number and nuttiness.

Keen Trump observers expect that he’ll soon begin to chafe under the discipline Kelly has encouraged. Understanding Trump’s enormous ego, Kelly is said to encourage gently rather than instruct. Kelly also has the advantage of Trump’s high regard for generals.

But Trump could well become incensed by news stories praising Kelly for bringing order to the White House. (Counsellor Steve Bannon never fully recovered in the president’s esteem after he was on the cover of Time magazine soon after the inauguration.)

Meanwhile, Trump’s poll ratings are lower than ever – and the lowest of any president at such an early point in an administration. Members of his own Republican Party are distancing themselves from him.

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The recent failure of the Republican-dominated Congress to repeal Barack Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, which made healthcare available for millions of people who previously couldn’t afford it, was a humiliating defeat for Trump. Just enough Republican senators (three, but more were in reserve if needed) voted to reject the last of several efforts to fulfil the party’s vow to replace ‘Obamacare’.

That nickname for the ACA, coined by the Republicans when the law was enacted in early 2010, was intended to be derogatory, and their opposition to the program seemed to be vindicated in that year’s midterm elections, when they swept both houses of congress. But the Republicans didn’t reckon on two things: that as people gained access to health insurance (some 20 million by this year), it became popular – as did Obama, who ended his second term as one of America’s most liked presidents.

Over Obama’s tenure, Republicans came to realise that it was no longer sufficient simply to call for a repeal of ‘Obamacare’, and their rhetoric shifted to the need to “repeal and replace”. They held more than 50 roll-call votes saying that they’d do just that, knowing that it didn’t really matter because Obama would veto any serious repeal. The roll calls were actually fundraisers: Appeals to the unsuspecting Republican base to send money to keep up the fight against the supposedly hated programme.

But when the 2016 election put a Republican in the White House, the party’s congressional leaders had nowhere to hide. The Republicans were now in full control of the government – and they hadn’t a clue about what should replace Obamacare.

At the end of six months in office, Trump doesn’t have a single legislative achievement to crow about (though he has claimed the Senate’s approval of Neil Gorsuch as a new Supreme Court justice as a victory). Significantly, Senate Republican leaders ignored Trump’s demand that they take up repeal and replace of Obamacare again, before they consider any other major issue.

While the healthcare bill was commanding most of the attention on Capitol Hill, another piece of legislation was moving along in the Congress, representing another setback for Trump. Troubled by the president’s apparent soft spot for (or perhaps fear of) Vladimir Putin, overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both chambers passed a bill to impose more sanctions on Russia and – most unusually – to prevent the president from lifting any such penalties. And, because the bill passed with enough votes to override a presidential veto, Trump had little choice but to sign it, which he did in private, without the customary presence of a bill’s sponsors and the press.

Meanwhile, the investigation into Trump and his campaign’s relations with Russia in connection with its meddling in Trump’s favour in the 2016 election has continued out of the public’s sight. That investigation has broadened to include Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and his son Donald Jr.

This spring, Trump let it be known that he wanted the special counsel running that investigation, Robert Mueller, a former FBI director who is highly respected by both parties, to be fired. He’d already fired FBI director James Comey, but by law, he couldn’t fire Mueller himself, so he tried to bully Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had (appropriately) recused himself from the investigation, into resigning. That way, Trump could appoint a replacement who would fire Mueller.

But Sessions, the first Republican senator to endorse Trump, was enjoying rolling back numerous Obama-era protections in areas like civil rights, and refused to resign. Several of Sessions’ former Senate colleagues also demanded that Trump back off. Though Kelly called Sessions to tell him that his job was safe, Republican senators, concerned that Trump might remove him during the August recess, established a procedure that would prevent Trump from appointing an interim attorney-general to fire Mueller, and warned that such a move would provoke a constitutional crisis.

Then, as Congress prepared to leave for the August recess, it was learned that Mueller – who had hired highly regarded prosecutors specialising in international financial transactions, despite Trump’s warnings not to investigate his finances – had impaneled a grand jury in Washington. The noose tightens.

Elizabeth Drew is a journalist and author

The views expressed are personal

Project Syndicate, 2017

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Trump’s Alice-in-Wonderland approach to the Iran deal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

(TRUMP THE FOOL SHOWING HIS IGNORANCE ONCE AGAIN)(TRS)

Trump’s Alice-in-Wonderland approach to the Iran deal

Doyle McManus

Here’s an international crisis you can, unusually, put on your calendar ahead of time: In October, President Trump wants to declare Iran in violation of the 2015 agreement to limit its nuclear program — a decision that would allow the United States to reimpose tough economic sanctions on anyone trading with Tehran.

It’s a bad idea. The nuclear deal isn’t perfect — it doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear research, only limits it for a period of years — but it’s much better than nothing. Before the agreement, Tehran was believed to be less than a year from making nuclear weapons that would have threatened Israel and Saudi Arabia. Thanks to the accord, that doomsday problem has at least been postponed.

That hasn’t stopped Trump from calling the pact “the worst deal ever” and ordering aides to supply him with evidence that will allow him to declare it invalid. The most likely moment for his decision will come in October, the next time he is required to notify Congress whether Iran is in compliance.

“If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal last month. Next time, he added, “I do not expect that they will be compliant.”

The president didn’t offer any substantive reason to declare Iran out of compliance with the deal — because there isn’t one. His own aides told him last month that, while Iran has tested the edges of the agreement, none of its actions was a “material breach,” the legal standard that would allow sanctions to snap back.

When Trump was warned that he couldn’t simply walk away from the deal, “he had a bit of a meltdown,” an official told the New York Times. He chewed out the secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who apparently brought him the bad news. And he ordered his staff to begin work on a new study — one that will supply him with the excuses he needs.

That’s an Alice-in-Wonderland approach to foreign policy: Verdict first, evidence later. And it’s not likely to work.

No matter what the president thinks, the facts will get in the way. U.S. officials say Iran has been carefully upholding its main obligations under the nuclear agreement: reducing its uranium stocks and limiting its enrichment program.

And none of the other six countries that negotiated the deal agree with Trump that the accord should be abrogated.

“The deal … is working, and we believe it represents the best option for the international community,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson wrote last month (and his government is friendlier to Trump than most).

As a result, if Trump declares in October that Iran is in breach, most of the world — including Britain, Germany and France — will blame him for the consequences, not Tehran.

That will create a major obstacle for the next step in Trump’s course, which is to reimpose U.S. economic sanctions on foreign businesses that deal with Iran. (The nuclear deal didn’t affect the embargo between the U.S. and Iran, which remains in effect.)

If the United States is viewed as responsible for breaking the deal, other countries may refuse to go along with Trump’s unilateral sanctions, making them largely toothless.

“Nobody else wants the deal to fail,” said Elizabeth Rosenberg of the Center for New American Security, who worked on sanctions in the Obama administration. “If the U.S. is the only one that walks away, who is going to enforce new sanctions? You could easily see European leaders deciding to defend their own companies instead.”

Last month, the French energy giant Total signed a contract for a $5-billion natural gas project in Iran. If Trump tries to impose sanctions on deals like that, the result won’t be merely a confrontation with Iran; it will be a clash with the EU.

There is an alternative Trump could try. It’s called diplomacy.

He could press for stricter enforcement of the nuclear agreement, beginning with the restrictions Iran has placed on international inspectors’ access to military bases.

He could seek stronger international sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile tests, which aren’t covered by the nuclear deal.

And he could begin negotiations toward a new agreement to maintain the curbs on Iran’s nuclear program after 2026, when the current limits begin to expire.

But the president hasn’t pursued those options, even though they’ve been offered to him by his own aides. Instead, he appears hellbent on fulfilling a bad campaign promise he should now have the wisdom to abandon. (That’s a prayer more than a hope.)

Tearing up the deal won’t bring down Iran’s regime — most of Tehran’s ruling clerics welcome the enmity of the United States — but it will set up a collision between the Trump administration and most of the world, including China, Russia and U.S. allies in Europe.

The most likely losers would be the Western alliance, already battered by Trump’s disdain, and whatever remains of the United States’ tattered claim to international leadership.

And the most likely winner, oddly enough, would be Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the beneficiary of yet another wedge between United States and its NATO allies — this one driven by Trump alone, without Moscow’s help.

[email protected]

Twitter: @DoyleMcManus

China Is Playing The U.S. And The World For Fools Over North Korea And Putin And Iran Are Assisting

 

 

The President of China, Mr. Xi Jinping and his Communist Party leadership are playing the U.S. Government and the rest of the world for ignorant fools concerning North Korea’s little fat boy with the stupid haircut. This week there was a meeting in Manila, the capital of the Philippines of the Asian countries and a huge part of the conversations were about how the governments of China and their Ally North Korea are a huge danger to all of Asia and to the rest of the world. Also this week the U.N. Security Council voted 15-0 to increase sanctions on North Korea because of their missile program. China and Russia voted for the sanctions against North Korea yet I find it very difficult to believe anything that the leadership in China or Russia have to say. It is said that North Korea exports about three billion dollars of products each year, mostly raw materials. These new sanctions is said to chop off about one billion of that three billion cash influx to the North Korean Regime. This income goes to the State, meaning it goes to Kim Jong Un who in turn spends most of that cash on his military and his missile program. The new sanctions did not include the oil that China and Russia sell to North Korea. The U.N. says that almost all of the oil sold to North Korea by China and Russia are on an  ‘IOU’ basis.

 

Now I would like to speak with you about why I say that China is playing the U.S. and the rest of the world for fools. It is no secret that the leaders of China and Russia have no love loss for the Western Nations and especially for the U.S.. Only and idiot (Donald Trump) would believe that these folks are our friends as Mr. Trump has said of Mr. Jinping and he seems to have a love affair with Mr. Putin. For those who pay attention you should notice that the mobile launching vehicles are the property of China. One should also notice that the rockets now being fired by North Korea look exactly like China’s rockets. The free worlds security agencies say they are surprised at the rapid advancement of North Korea’s missile program, it is obvious that they are getting help from another government and it is pretty obvious who that country is. The more the U.S. engages with North Korea the less the world focuses on the atrocities and the aggressiveness of China and Russia. The countries of Asia are worried about the aggressiveness of China as the Summit in Manila laid bare. North Korea was bumped to the number two concern to these Countries. If the world does not reign in the Communist Leadership of China they will soon totally dominate all of Asia, and that does include India and the leaders of India know this. Mr. Putin had better not trust the Chinese governments hunger for land but honestly I do not believe that Mr. Putin is that big of a fool as he knows well the methods that one larger country takes over another country while saying it belonged to them anyway.

 

For those who were paying attention to this sort of thing, North Korea’s #2 Official is currently on a ten-day visit to Tehran Iran. These two Countries have two total different ideologies concerning how they look at the world. Iran’s it based in total religious hatred of everyone whom is not a devout Shiite Islamic, North Korea is all about the hatred inside the brain of their crazy little fat boy with the horrible haircut. China is quickly positioning themselves to be the worlds biggest most powerful military led country in all of Asia and the Pacific theater .  Kim Jong Un has always had the desire to make the whole Korean Peninsula into one Korea with himself as the Ruler. If China, North Korea and to a smaller extent Russia could run the U.S. Military out of that region all of the other smaller countries will fall to China’s domination and many of the Asian Countries realize it. Unfortunately there are some countries leaders in the region who are being bought by China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ project like Cambodia and the Philippines. Sri Lanka is a Nation who excepted the ‘help’ from China to help build up their infrastructure with Chinese loans at high interest rates and now China is demanding repayment before the construction is even finished as the economic benefits have not yet started to flow in. Countries will lose their own right to rule themselves because of this pariah in Beijing. All a person has to do is to pay attention to the realities on the ground, it does not take a genius to figure these things out and the Lord knows the U.S. does not have a genius in the Oval Office.

Paramilitary Attack On Venezuela Military Base

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNN) Venezuela remained a powder keg on Sunday as authorities said they had quelled an anti-government paramilitary attack at a military base and the country’s attorney general defied her ouster by the newly elected National Constituent Assembly.

A man who identified himself as an army officer announced the revolt on social media, an action he called a “legitimate rebellion” aimed at the government of leftist President Nicolás Maduro.
“We are united now, more than ever, with the brave people of Venezuela who do not recognize the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro’s murderous tyranny,” according to a man who said he was Capt. Juan Caguaripano.
The President, speaking on his weekly TV show, “Sundays with Maduro,” made reference to the incident, saying “a week ago, we won with votes and today we had to beat terrorism with bullets.”
“They attack with terrorism and hate. We attack with our work, our love. They destruct, we construct,” he said.
Sunday’s incident came amid daily anxiety in the South American nation, where the economic hardship and bloody political turmoil that had roiled the country for months came to a head last week when the Constituent Assembly was voted into office, taking the place of the opposition-led National Assembly.
Authorities said the early-morning rebellion, which took place at a military base in Valencia, about 150 kilometers (95 miles) west of Caracas, was swiftly contained.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said the attack was carried out by “delinquent civilians wearing military uniforms” in the early morning hours of Sunday, an act he labeled a “terrorist attack of a paramilitary nature.”
A tweet from the Venezuelan Minister of Communications Ernesto Villegas said seven people have been in the “mercenary attack” and an eighth person has been injured.
Social media videos showed a group of men in military uniforms launching a resistance movement they called “Operation David.”
The man speaking in the video who identified himself as Caguaripano was with a dozen others, people he identified as soldiers from the 41st Brigade of Fort Paramacay in the city of Valencia. “I am joined here by officers and troops from this glorious unit who represent the real Venezuelan army, that has fought to forge our liberty,” Caguaripano said in a video on social media.
The move, Caguaripano said in the video, was not a “coup.”
“It is a civic and military action meant to reestablish the constitutional order and, more importantly, to save the country from its total destruction and to keep our young people and families from being murdered,” he said.
But Padrino said Caguaripano was a “first lieutenant who had deserted his post,” and those involved in the attack had been “repelled immediately.”
Privately-owned online news channel Vivo Play broadcast video from outside the Fort Paramacay showing tanks moving inside the base and helicopters surrounding it. There were news images in Valencia of a barricade set by anti-government activists in flames.
The National Constituent Assembly held its first session Saturday. In its first order of business, the assembly unanimously fired Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz.
They barred her from ever seeking public office again in Venezuela, prohibited her from leaving the country and froze her assets.
Her removal from office happened after she said she would open an investigation into fraud allegations surrounding last Sunday’s election.
But Ortega, speaking Sunday at Caracas’ Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, sloughed off the exercise. “I will continue being the attorney general of this country,” she told reporters.
Ortega called the election illegal and scolded the Maduro government.
“I thought they had principles, ethics and values,” she said.
The new assembly has wide-ranging powers and is expected to rewrite the Venezuelan Constitution at Maduro’s behest.
Maduro’s loyal supporters buoyantly cast votes for new members last Sunday. Staunch opposition supporters, who see the vote as a power grab and an erosion of democracy, boycotted the vote and staged demonstrations against the development.
The firing defied the regional Organization of American States, whose human rights commission Saturday warned the Venezuelan government to guarantee Ortega’s safety and allow her to continue as attorney general.
South America’s trade bloc, Mercosur, decided to suspend Venezuela indefinitely from the group until there was a “re-establishment of democratic order.” The Organization of American States applauded that decision. Mercosur’s decision is mostly symbolic and will not impact trade or the free movement of Venezuelans among Mercosur countries.
The US Treasury Department issued sanctions in July against Saab and 12 other Maduro loyalists.
The assembly has proposed a “restructuring” of the attorney general’s office and nominated Tarek William Saab, a Maduro ally and former ombudsman, to be the interim attorney general. He was sworn in late Saturday afternoon to a rousing applause from the Constituent Assembly.

Vietnam Urges Stronger Stand Against China At ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTAN DAILY TIMES)

 

MANILA: Vietnam urged other Southeast Asian nations to take a stronger stand against Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea, as a tense regional security forum began Saturday with North Korea also under fire over its nuclear program.

Ahead of the launch of the annual gathering of foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Vietnam made a bold play against China with a raft of suggested changes to a planned joint communique.

It set the stage for what was expected to be a fiery few days of diplomacy in the Philippine capital, with the top diplomats from China, the United States, Russia and North Korea set to join their ASEAN and other Asia-Pacific counterparts for security talks from Sunday.

The meetings will take place as the United Nations Security Council votes this weekend on a US-drafted resolution to toughen sanctions against North Korea to punish the isolated regime for its missile and nuclear tests. The United States said it would also seek to build unified pressure on the North at the Manila event — known as the ASEAN Regional Forum — and Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Pyongyang would receive a strong message.

But on the South China Sea dispute — one of Asia’s other top powder keg issues — there was far less consensus with Vietnam resisting efforts by the Philippines to placate Beijing, diplomats told AFP.

Vietnam on Friday night sought to insert tough language against China in an ASEAN statement that was scheduled to be released after the Southeast Asian ministers wrapped up their own talks on Saturday.

According to a copy of a draft obtained by AFP, Vietnam lobbied for ASEAN to express serious concern over “construction” in the sea, in reference to China’s ramped up artificial island building in the disputed waters in recent years.

Vietnam also wanted ASEAN to insist in the statement that a planned code of conduct for the sea with China be “legally binding”, which Beijing opposes.

The lobbying occurred when the ASEAN foreign ministers held unscheduled and informal talks late on Friday night.

“The discussions were really hard. Vietnam is on its own to have stronger language on the South China Sea. Cambodia and Philippines are not keen to reflect that,” one diplomat involved in the talks told AFP.

China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, including waters approaching the coasts of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

China has in recent years expanded its presence in the sea by building the artificial islands, which are capable of holding military bases.

Alongside Vietnam, the Philippines used to be the most vocal critic of Beijing’s expansionism.

But, under President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines has sought to downplay the dispute with China in return for billions of dollars in Chinese investments and aid.

China has in recent years also successfully lobbied other ASEAN nations, particularly Cambodia, to support its diplomatic maneuvering in the dispute.

At the ASEAN opening ceremony on Saturday morning, Cayetano confirmed there had been strong debates on Friday.

“You have to excuse my voice as, my colleagues, we kept each other up until almost midnight last night. In the true ASEAN way we were able to passionately argue our national interest,” Cayetano said.

Various diplomats said that Vietnam was likely to lose its battle to insert the strong language against China, with the Philippines as host of the talks wielding greater influence.

ASEAN is set to this weekend endorse a framework for a code of conduct with China, which is meant to pave the way for more concrete action.

 

 

Published in Daily Times, August 6th 2017.

Ari Harow, the man who could bring down the Prime Minister

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Ari Harow, the man who could bring down the prime minister

The US-born Netanyahu confidant and former chief of staff has signed an agreement to testify against his old boss

 August 5, 2017, 4:46 am 3

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flanked by former chief of staff Ari Harow, left, and former parliamentary adviser Perach Lerner, right, as he arrives at a Likud faction meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flanked by former chief of staff Ari Harow, left, and former parliamentary adviser Perach Lerner, right, as he arrives at a Likud faction meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Those who know Ari Harow describe him as a straight arrow. Now some believe he could be the one to bring down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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For years, Harow, 44, has been one of Netanyahu’s closest confidants and a chief cog in his political machine. But despite this, he has remained largely unknown to the Israeli public until now, when it was revealed on Friday that Harow had signed an agreement to turn state’s witness as part of ongoing investigations into alleged corruption by Israel’s premier.

Harow is very “low-key and discreet,” Odelia Karmon, a former Netanyahu adviser, told Channel 2 news on Friday, calling him very modest and saying he was someone who was never involved in the political intrigue that so often dogged Netanyahu’s inner circle. “He is a very straight man.”

Harow fits the mold of the type that Netanyahu has frequently chosen to head or play key roles in his office: young American-Israelis from the national religious camp. While others have sought the limelight — like Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett, or current Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer — Harow stayed largely in the background during several stints in the high-profile position as Netanyahu’s chief of staff.

Ari Harow, former chief of staff of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a Likud meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Ari Harow, former chief of staff of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a Likud meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Harow was born in Los Angeles and moved with his family to Israel in 1985, when he was 12, living in the West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron.

After completing his army service he moved back to the US to study in New York, before returning again to finish a Master’s degree in Political Science at Tel Aviv University.

It was at this time that he first stated working with Netanyahu, volunteering for him in 2002 as an adviser on Diaspora affairs, and more crucially on fundraising.

He then moved back to the US for several years where he headed the American Friends of Likud.

It was during this period that he was first linked to allegations of financial irregularities surrounding Netanyahu and the so-called Bibi Tours scandal in which, as finance minister a decade ago, Netanyahu had private donors and organizations fund most of his trips as well as cover travel expenses for his wife and children, and failed to clear the information with the Knesset.

According to the Haaretz daily, the American Friends of Likud were also paying the salary of Karmon, who was working as Netanyahu’s media adviser.

Odelia Karmon (YouTube screenshot)

Odelia Karmon (YouTube screenshot)

The Bibi Tours issue was first reported by Channel 10 in 2011 and, while a state comptroller’s report found ethical problems, no charges were ever filed.

By 2008, Harow was back in Israel, started working for Netanyahu as the head of his office, and was with him when he returned to power in 2009.

Harow left politics in 2010 to start a political consultancy firm, which works with politicians and political campaigns. He served a second stint as the PM’s bureau chief in 2014, and directed the election campaign that kept Netanyahu in office in the 2015 national elections.

But police began investigating Harow on suspicion that when he came back to work for Netanyahu in 2014, he only fictitiously sold his consulting firm, rather than genuinely doing so, as was required.

On Friday police announced that Harow is expected to receive six months of community service and a NIS 700,000 fine ($193,000) on breach of trust charges in exchange for his testimony against his former boss.

His former colleagues said that Harow was a particular favorite of Netanyahu and very trusted. He is expected to have crucial information in both cases against Netanyahu.

“Ari Harrow, you have to understand, sat on the seam between the political and the personal, between the family of Netanyahu and the national, between the bureau and the home,” Yoaz Hendel, a former communications director for Netanyahu, told Channel 2. “On these seams — all the grey episodes happened.”

Yoaz Hendel (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Yoaz Hendel (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, most notably hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister hobble a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, through Knesset legislation in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

Harow is expected to provide information in both probes, having served as chief of staff during the time of the alleged deal with Mozes and while Netanyahu is said to have received gifts worth thousands of shekels.

The recordings of Netanyahu’s conversations with Mozes were made on Harow’s phone and discovered by police during their investigation into his sale of his consultancy.

On Friday, Hebrew media reported that police would now suggest indicting Netanyahu. A police recommendation does not carry legal weight. It is for state prosecutors to decide whether to press charges.

Netanyahu, who has denied any wrongdoing, dismissed the latest developments, calling them “background noise.”

In a short video posted early Friday evening before the start of Shabbat, Netanyahu said: “I want to tell you, citizens of Israel, I don’t pay attention to the background noises, I continue in my work on behalf of you. Shabbat shalom.”

Harow’s family suggested that his legal problems were all a result of attempts to bring down Netanyahu.

“What really bothers me is that no one is paying attention to the obvious: that this whole exercise against Ari and those around Bibi is to get Bibi,” Harow’s mother told Channel 2, using the prime minister’s nickname.

“What I can tell you is that Ari is one of the most honorable, trustworthy people I know. And I think that he was close to Bibi because Bibi knew he could trust him. That’s what I know,” she said.

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