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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

The YPG serves as the military backbone of the SDF.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kremlin: U.S. Must ‘Babysit’ Poroshenko After Funding Ukrainian Revolution

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLYGRAPH.INFO)

 

Kremlin: U.S. Must ‘Babysit’ Poroshenko After Funding Ukrainian Revolution


Ukraine - the first day after "victory" at the Maidan in Kyiv, 23Feb2014
Ukraine – the first day after “victory” at the Maidan in Kyiv, 23Feb2014
Dmitry Peskov

Dmitry Peskov

Russian presidential spokesman

“Too much money was invested into Ukraine, too much money was poured into the coup in Ukraine, and justifying this coup also requires too much money.”

FALSE

Claim that U.S. funded “coup” in Ukraine long-since disproven

On Thursday December 20, Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told theTASS news agency that the upcoming presidential election in Ukraine, set for March 31, 2019, is further straining bilateral relations with Russia.

“[Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko has to win electoral support by all means, because the approval of him is low compared to the rivals who have overtaken him in the electoral rating. And this is exactly what he is doing, and this is clearly visible to us all,” Peskov said.

Peskov said that despite Poroshenko’s “relatively weak electoral positions,” the United States was stuck “babysitting” him on account of the sunk cost fallacy.

“Too much money was invested into Ukraine, too much money was poured into the coup in Ukraine, and justifying this coup also requires too much money,” Peskov said.

Kremlin officials and the state media in Russia label the popular pro-EU uprising in Ukraine a “coup” when in reality the movement was civilian in nature and involved no military support.

Claiming Washington is waiting for its investment in Ukraine to “yield dividends,” Peskov said the U.S. “did not quite succeed” and now needs to do its best “to save the situation.”

“Washington has to support Poroshenko and turn a blind eye to the real situation, which is exactly what it is doing now,” he said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine flared following a November 25 incident, in which three Ukrainian ships attempting to transit through the Kerch Strait in the Sea of Azov were fired on and then captured by Russian vessels.

Tweets by the Russian foreign ministry accounts
Tweets by the Russian foreign ministry accounts

The following day, martial law was introduced in Ukraine for 30 days in the 10 regions that would be on the front lines of a military conflict with Russia.

Russian media and officials have argued that Poroshenko provoked the incident in the Sea of Azov as a pretext to introduce martial law and buoy his electoral prospects.

No media source currently available

0:001:230:43

During his annual year-end press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Poroshenko had sent Ukrainian servicemen to die in the Sea of Azov to provoke Russia and boost his approval ratings.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has gone so far as to claim that Kyiv is planning a chemical weapons attack in Ukraine’s war-torn east.

Peskov’s claim that the U.S. funded the “coup” in Ukraine is false.

While not stated explicitly, his comment is likely based on a claim promulgated by Russian state media that the U.S. invested $5 billion in the Ukrainian uprising.

Politifact reported the claim stems from a December 2013 speech by then Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, a non-governmental agency promoting democracy in Ukraine.

In that speech, Nuland said that the United States had invested over $5 billion since Ukraine’s independence in 1991 to help the country “build democratic skills and institutions” so it can “achieve its European aspirations.”

As Brian Bohm noted in the Moscow Times in May 2014: “U.S. law prohibits the funding of opposition leaders and movements, and there have been no violations of this law in Ukraine.”

Since the annexation of Crimea and Russian-backed war erupted in Ukraine in 2014, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with more than $1 billion in security assistance.

In July, the Pentagon told CNN it had released $200 million in security assistance to Ukraine.

In March, the U.S. State Department formally approved the sale of 210 Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and 37 launchers for an estimated cost of $47 million. That was the first time lethal military aid to Kyiv has been approved.

Citing the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS), the Council on Foreign Relations said the U.S. had spent $49 billion on foreign aid in 2016, around 1.2 percent of the federal budget. That included security and military assistance.

USAID, which put total U.S. obligations at $50 billion that year, said $513 million, or roughly 1% of the total, had gone to Ukraine.

The idea that U.S. support for Ukraine is based strictly on a need to “recoup an investment” and not on broader security issues in the region does not appear to be supported by the data.

As for Peskov’s argument that the U.S. funded the 2014 revolution in Ukraine, Polygraph.info finds that claim to be false.

Damn… I Sure Hope I’m Wrong

Damn… I Sure Hope I’m Wrong

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

China Vows ‘Severe Consequences’ If Huawei Official Is Not Released

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)

 

China Vows ‘Severe Consequences’ If Huawei Official Is Not Released

Meng Wanzhou is being held in Canada at U.S. request to be extradited, face allegations she violated sanctions on dealing with Iran

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested on an extradition warrant, appears at her bail hearing in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Friday.
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested on an extradition warrant, appears at her bail hearing in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Friday. PHOTO: STRINGER/REUTERS

BEIJING—China issued an ultimatum to Canada, demanding the immediate release of Huawei Technologies Co.’s finance chief or face unspecified “severe consequences.”

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, John McCallum, on Saturday to deliver the warning, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The statement doesn’t mention the name of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, though it refers to a Huawei “principal” taken into custody at U.S. request while changing planes in Vancouver, as was Ms. Meng. The statement accuses Canada of “severely violating the legal, legitimate rights of a Chinese citizen” and demands the person’s release.

“Otherwise there will be severe consequences, and Canada must bear the full responsibility,” said the statement, which was posted online late Saturday.

A spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland declined to comment on Saturday, and instead referred to remarks Ms. Freeland made to reporters on Friday.

On Friday, Ms. Freeland said in a conference call there was no political interference in the decision to detain Ms. Meng, and the detention was handled at the “officials’ level.” She said Canada’s relationship with China is something the country values, and Mr. McCallum “has been very clear that this was a matter handled as part of our rule-of-law process.”

The warning marks an escalation in rhetoric by the Chinese government over the case of Ms. Meng, who is in the midst of hearings in Canada for extradition to the U.S. to face allegations she violated sanctions on dealing with Iran.

The Canadian judge in Ms. Meng’s hearing on Friday, Justice William Ehrcke of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, didn’t rule on her bail, and scheduled the court to reconvene on Monday morning.

Aside from being CFO and deputy chairwoman, Ms. Meng is the daughter of Huawei’s founder. The status has made her situation seem more bitter to many Chinese. Social-media sites have been flooded with criticism that the U.S. is trying to pull down an iconic Chinese company and strike a blow in the countries’ trade fight.

In court filings for  Ms. Meng’s bail hearing in Vancouver on Friday, U.S. authorities alleged that she misled banks about Huawei’s ties to a subsidiary that did business in Iran. Those banks cleared hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions that potentially violated international sanctions, according to the filings.

The case risks complicating U.S.-China trade negotiations, with the two sides having agreed to refrain from imposing new tariffs to try to seek a compromise within the next three months.

Paul Vieira contributed to this article.

Write to Eva Dou at [email protected]

India’s Defense Minister to chart course for India-US tri-service military exercise

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

 

Nirmala Sitharaman to chart course for India-US tri-service military exercise

During her visit, Sitharaman will also be charting out the course for the first ever India-US tri-service military exercise in Bay of Bengal in May-June, 2019.

INDIA Updated: Dec 03, 2018 07:23 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Nirmala Sitharaman,US Indo-Pacific Command,Hawaii
Nirmala Sitharaman will be visiting the US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii to review military-to-military relations and chart out the course for the first ever India-US tri-service military exercise in Bay of Bengal in May-June, 2019. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

Days after the apex Japan-India-America (JAI) trilateral meeting on Indo-Pacific on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be visiting the US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii to review military-to-military relations and chart the course for the first ever India-US tri-service military exercise off in Bay of Bengal in May-June, 2019. Defence minister Sitharaman left for Washington on Saturday night.

According to Indian and US diplomats familiar with the agenda of her visit, Sitharaman will be meeting her US counterpart James Mattis on December 3 to follow-up on the trilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Donald Trump and Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe and prepare grounds for sharing of information in the Indo-Pacific theatre through the secure COMCASA network. India recently signed a deal allowing it to become part of this network. With Japan, the US, Australia, and India all flying the P-8I anti-submarine surveillance aircraft, the Indo-Pacific theatre has become transparent for the QUAD grouping (of which these four countries are part) also as military information can now be exchanged through the secure network. This new network will be put to test during the tri-service amphibious exercise off the Indian seaboard next summer with all elements of Indo-Pacific command participating with their respective Indian military elements.

Senior government officials told Hindustan Times that Sitharaman will be interacting with key defence officials, thinkers and strategists on the west coast where she will be meeting a select group at Stanford university with former US National Security Advisor H R McMaster being the host. US Defence Secretary Mattis is also part of this network. She will also be visiting the highly rated Defence Innovation Unit (DIUx) in California in a bid to link Indian defence startups with this unit which aims to explore synergies between innovative US private sector firms and the Pentagon on latest technologies.

This will be largely funded by venture capital with Indian government providing the seed money. The main idea behind visiting DIUx is to understand the potential of constant technological upgrades achieved through research by private sector.

Sitharaman will be hosted by Admiral Phillip S Davidson, the top commander of all US armed forces in Indo-Pacific at Hawaii on December 6. The Minister’s visit to Hawaii is to recognize the American

effort to redefine and expand the strategic region in consultation with India. Simply put, the new definition gives India bigger play in the military affairs of the region with Japan and Australia being the other ends of the strategic grouping. The minister will also review the military to military exercises planned in future and discuss the strategic environment in the region with China in the focus.

During her meeting with Secretary Mattis at Pentagon, Sitharaman will also be exploring the acquisition of high-end military technologies for India such as the Predator-B hunter killer drone and reviewing the joint working groups on aircraft carriers and aircraft engines.

First Published: Dec 03, 2018 07:20 IST

In Yemen, Lavish Meals for Few, Starvation for Many

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

In Yemen, Lavish Meals for Few, Starvation for Many and a Dilemma for Reporters

A woman in the poor mountain village of Al Juberia, Yemen.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image
A woman in the poor mountain village of Al Juberia, Yemen. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

SANA, Yemen — At a restaurant in the Yemeni capital, Sana, a waiter brought bowls of slow-cooked lamb served with mounds of rice. For dessert there was kunafa, the classic Arab dish of golden brown pastry filled with cheese.

An hour later I was back at work, in a hushed hospital ward filled with malnourished children with skeletal faces, hanging between life and death for want of money and a good meal.

If that juxtaposition strikes you as jarring, even distasteful, it felt that way to me, too.

Crisis zones are often places of stark contrast, but in Yemen the gulf is particularly uncomfortable. The problem isn’t a lack of food; it’s that few people can afford to buy what food is available.

Years of blockades, bombs and soaring inflation have crushed the economy. A crushed state means there is no safety net.

As a result, beggars congregate outside supermarkets filled with goods; markets are filled with produce in towns where the hungry eat boiled leaves; and restaurants selling rich food are a few hundred yards from hunger wards filled with desperation, pain and death.

For a reporter, that brings a dilemma. Journalists travel with bundles of hard currency, usually dollars, to pay for hotels, transport and translation. A small fraction of that cash might go a long way for a starving family. Should I pause, put down my notebook and offer to help?

It’s a question some readers asked after we published a recent article on Yemen’s looming famine.

Many were touched by a powerful photograph by Tyler Hicks of Amal Hussain, an emaciated 7-year-old girl whose haunting stare brought the war’s human cost into shocking focus.

And many were devastated to learn that, soon after we left, Amal’s mother brought her back to the shabby refugee camp they call home, where she died a few days later.

Amal Hussain, who died at age 7 from malnutrition soon after this photograph was taken.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image
Amal Hussain, who died at age 7 from malnutrition soon after this photograph was taken.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Some, in their anguish, turned the focus back on us.

Why didn’t we do something to save Amal’s life, they wanted to know. Did we just take the photo, conduct the interview and move on? Couldn’t we have somehow ensured that her family would get help?

“You can take the picture AND provide assistance,” one woman said on Twitter. “One doesn’t rule out the other.”

The questions resonated. Reporters are trained to bear witness; aid workers and doctors have the job of helping people.

Donating money, or other forms of assistance, can be fraught with ethical, moral and practical complications. Is it fair to single out one person or family for help? What if they embellish their story for the next foreigner who comes along, thinking they could get more money?

Plus, we have a job to do.

Doctors show us around, and sometimes we end up acting like them — examining stick-like limbs and flaccid skin with clinical detachment; tabulating figures about weight and age; listening as families recount their tragedies with amazing calm. The prospect of death is discussed. We nod sagely, make a note, move on.

But while we may try to mimic a stone, we are not stones, and every day in Yemen someone told me something that made a lump rise in my throat.

COMMENT OF THE MOMENT

Sandra commented November 30

Sandra
Times Pick

Let’s cut to the chase and get the U.N. and it’s agencies in there. Just do it. The USA should be spear heading the effort. War between armies is one thing. War on starving people is quite another….no grey area! NONE!

SEE MORE

Usually it was a mundane detail, like the lack of a few dollars to take a dying child to the hospital. Yemen, you realize, is a country where people are dying for lack of a taxi fare.

An injured Yemeni fighter with the Saudi-led Arab coalition that is battling Iran-allied Houthis for control of Yemen at a field hospital in Durayhimi.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image

An injured Yemeni fighter with the Saudi-led Arab coalition that is battling Iran-allied Houthis for control of Yemen at a field hospital in Durayhimi.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Yemenis have to navigate such terrain, too.

While some are dying, others are getting on with living. One night we returned to our hotel in Hajjah, a town ringed by rocky ridges in a province that has been pummeled by Saudi airstrikes. Lying in bed, I was startled by a loud bang then a burst of light that filled the sky — not a bomb, but fireworks.

Since the start of the war, the rate of marriage in Yemen has gone up. And so, in this town where malnourished infants were perishing at the city hospital, others were dancing and celebrating through the night.

But the surge in weddings, it turned out, was a survival mechanism.

Across the social spectrum, Yemenis are sliding down the poverty ladder. Where once a mother bought a sack of rice to feed her family, now she can afford only a small bag. The hand of a daughter in marriage brings a bride price, and so weddings can be a source of income for stretched families.

Disturbingly, many of the brides are children. According to Unicef, two-thirds of Yemeni girls are married before the age of 18, up from 50 percent before the war.

As we crossed Yemen — from the battle-scarred port of Hudaydah to the Houthi-held mountains — on a bumpy 900-mile journey, we saw scenes of heartbreaking suffering that unfolded against a backdrop of spectacular mountains, and customs that stubbornly endure despite everything.

Every day, town centers bustled with men buying khat, the narcotic leaf beloved by Yemenis. The khat bazaars are a social event. Men, some with guns over their shoulders, gather to trade news, meet friends and prepare for the afternoon chew.

Women in black cloaks flitted between them; in one place, a loud argument erupted into fisticuffs. Even as starvation bites, some are reluctant to cut back on their habit.

In one health clinic, Ibrahim Junaid, a worried father standing over his ailing 5-month-old son, was chewing a lump of khat that left a green stain on his teeth and lips.

Mr. Junaid was 60; his wife, 25, stood silently by his side. The nurses wrapped the boy in a gold foil blanket to keep him warm.

Ibrahim Ali Mohammed Junaid, 60, and his wife Zahra Ali Ahmed, 25, taking their son, Ahmed Ibrahim al Junaid, 5 months old, to a clinic to treat his malnutrition.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image

Ibrahim Ali Mohammed Junaid, 60, and his wife Zahra Ali Ahmed, 25, taking their son, Ahmed Ibrahim al Junaid, 5 months old, to a clinic to treat his malnutrition.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Mr. Junaid regretted that his son hadn’t enough to eat, adding that he had a lot of mouths to feed; he had married twice, and fathered 13 children.

The value of practices like chewing khat may be hard to understand in such turbulent times. But for men like Mr. Junaid, it is an integral part of their day. And it is a mark of the resilience of an ancient society, one of the oldest civilizations of the Middle East.

“People say Yemen is in a state of chaos, but it’s not,” said Thierry Durand, an aid worker who has worked in Yemen since the 1980s, and now runs a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Mocha. “There is still structure.”

“You can’t put it in three lines in your paper or describe it in three minutes on TV,” he continued. “This country is structured by family, tribe, traditions — and despite everything, those structures are still there, and they are strong.”

Still, Yemeni society is being ravaged by war. Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition, aided by American bombs, have killed thousands of civilians, and displaced many more. But for most Yemenis, war strikes their lives in quieter, more insidious ways.

Bombs blow up bridges or factories, killing jobs, causing the currency to crumble and prices to soar, and forcing families to abstain from meat, then vegetables. Soon, they are dependent on international food aid or, in the worst cases, resort to meals of boiled leaves.

A bridge in Bani Hassan was damaged by a Saudi airstrike.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image

A bridge in Bani Hassan was damaged by a Saudi airstrike.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Small but vital things, like a cab fare, become unattainable.

As we drove away from the small hospital in Aslam, where Amal Hussain was being treated, we passed a young couple hitching a ride on the side of the road. They were holding a small infant. We stopped and offered them a ride.

They squeezed into the passenger seat — the father, Khalil Hadi, enveloped by the black cloak of his wife, Hanna, who held their fragile 9-month-old son, Wejdan, who had just been released from the malnutrition ward.

Theirs was a typical story. Their home near the Saudi border had been bombed, so they rented a room in a house near Aslam. Mr. Hadi tried to earn money driving a motorbike taxi, and by foraging for wood to sell at the market.

But it wasn’t enough, and when he tried to go home, the Houthi soldiers told him the area was a military zone. Their diet was reduced to bread, tea and halas, the vine that grew locally. His wife was four months pregnant with their second child.

Mr. Hadi wasn’t looking for pity; many people were in similar trouble, he said. “I’d do anything to make some money,” he said. “The situation is so hard.”

At a junction in the road, the couple stepped out, offered thanks and began to walk away. Fumbling in my pocket, I called them back.

I pulled out a wad of Yemeni notes — about $15 worth — and pressed it into his hand. It seemed so futile, in the greater scheme of things. What could it buy them? A few days respite, if even that?

Mr. Hadi accepted the money with a gracious smile. As we drove off I saw the couple amble down a dusty road, toward their shelter, their ailing son held tight.

Khalil Hadi and his pregnant wife, Itanna Hassan Massani, carrying their 9-month-old son, Wejdan, from a clinic in Aslam.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image

Khalil Hadi and his pregnant wife, Itanna Hassan Massani, carrying their 9-month-old son, Wejdan, from a clinic in Aslam.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Follow Declan Walsh on Twitter:@declanwalsh

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Contrast in Crushed State Presents Journalists With Ethical Dilemma. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
READ 118 COMMENTS

The 11th State to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Is …

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘MOTLEY FOOL’ WEB SITE)

 

The 11th State to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Is …

This state could see $850 million in annual cannabis sales by 2022 if recreational weed is legalized.

Dec 2, 2018 at 11:41AM
This has been a big year for the North American cannabis industry. Without question, the highlight was the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada on Oct. 17. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had spoken for years about legalization and was finally able to see his vision realized with the passage of the Cannabis Act. A few years from now, when capacity-expansion projects are complete, the Canadian legal weed industry could be generating upward of $5 billion in added annual sales.

It’s also been a banner year for the U.S. market. During midterm elections in November, voters in two new states approved medical marijuana initiatives, bringing the number of states to have legalized pot in some capacity to 32. Residents of Michigan also voted to green-light adult-use cannabis, becoming the 10th state to do so.

Now cannabis enthusiasts and investors have turned their attention to which state(s) could be next to legalize. Thankfully, not much guesswork may be needed.

A judge's gavel next to a pile of dried cannabis buds.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

The Garden State has its eyes set on legalizing adult-use pot

On Monday, Nov. 26, two panels in New Jersey voted overwhelmingly to approve three new cannabis bills — one of which aims to legalize adult-use marijuana.

These panels, from the state’s Senate and Assembly, voted 7 to 4, with two abstentions in the Senate, and 7 to 3, with one abstention in the Assembly, in favor of the bill that would legalize recreational marijuana within the state. The additional two bills that also passed cover an expansion of the state’s existing medical cannabis program and the creation of a system that would speed up criminal expungements of low-level cannabis offenses. Now all three bills move on for an official vote from the full Senate and Assembly. Assuming passage, a recreational marijuana bill could find its way to Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D-N.J.) desk within a few weeks.

What might recreational legalization look like in the Garden State? As with other legalized states, it would allow adults aged 21 and up to purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis. There would be an attached tax rate of 12%, which would be considerably lower than the aggregate tax rates that some folks might pay in Washington state or California of up to 37% and 45%, respectively. For what it’s worth, Gov. Murphy has suggested that a 12% tax rate is too low. Instead, Murphy has called for an excise tax of 25% on legal weed sales for what could be an $850 million industry within the state by 2022.

A bearded man holding up a lit cannabis joint with his fingertips.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Beyond the basics, the broad-based legalization bill also includes a section on the expedited expungement of low-level marijuana offenses. Though a separate bill is being worked on that would tackle this faster and more efficiently, the mere existence of this clause is worth noting. It’s also worth pointing out that North Dakota voters turned down a recreational legalization initiative in the recent midterms that had an expungement clause, suggesting that it’s no given to attract support.

Finally, the bill would allow for marijuana delivery services within the state, as well as give permission for dispensaries to create “consumption areas.” Essentially, New Jersey would permit pot shops within dispensaries where consumers could enjoy their product outside of their homes.

Needless to say, it’s an ambitious bill with a lot more going on than a simple cut-and-dried legalization of recreational pot.

An indoor commercial cannabis growing facility.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Marijuana stocks and investors are paying close attention

Though Gov. Murphy has taken exception to the proposed tax rate, he’s been very clear in the past about his support for legalizing recreational marijuana as both a revenue driver within the state and a means to reduce cannabis enforcement costs. This, presumably, gives New Jersey a very good chance of becoming the 11th state to legalize recreational pot. Should this happen, a number of pot stocks could be all smiles, and none more so than Curaleaf Holdings(NASDAQOTH:LDVTF).

Curaleaf, which IPO’d in late October with more than a $4 billion valuation, making it the largest IPO in marijuana history, currently has 28 dispensaries, 12 cultivation facilities, and nine processing sites throughout select legalized U.S. states. As a reminder, since the federal government has stood firm on its Schedule I classification for cannabis (i.e., wholly illegal), interstate transport of marijuana isn’t permissible. Therefore, the only way to vertically control supply and costs as a U.S. dispensary is to also grow and process cannabis within a state, which is what Curaleaf is doing.

As noted by analyst Robert Fagan of GMP Securities, courtesy of Investor’s Business Daily, the broad-based legalization bill would allow existing dispensaries in the state (which includes Curaleaf’s) to immediately begin recreational sales, assuming approval, without the need to apply for any new licensing.

Furthermore, Curaleaf is working on a 435,000-square-foot greenhouse facility in New Jersey. The first phase of that production should come online next year, allowing it to become a key producer and retailer within the Garden State.

A marijuana processor holding a freshly trimmed bud in their gloved left hand.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

By a similar token, the also-newly public Acreage Holdings (NASDAQOTH:ACRZF) would likely benefit from a New Jersey legalization. Back in March, the vertically integrated Acreage made the decision to enter the New Jersey market by partnering with the Compassionate Care Foundation (CCF) in the state. CCF is one of only six licensed alternative treatment center operators in New Jersey, with Acreage providing the financial resources to help meet patient demand. Presumably, with Acreage having assets up and down the cannabis supply chain, it could broaden its horizons if the New Jersey legalization bill passes.

Last, and per the norm, don’t sleep on KushCo Holdings (NASDAQOTH:KSHB). Pretty much anytime a new country or state legalizes in some capacity, KushCo is there chomping at the bit to get its piece of the packaging-and-branding-solutions pie. As a provider of tamper- and child-resistant packaging, KushCo ensures that medical and recreational growers remain compliant with local, state, and federal laws. Also, because packaging requirements tend to be so strict, KushCo takes on the task of helping growers and their products stand out. It’s an indispensable behind-the-scenes pot stock that could benefit if the Garden State goes green.

Sean Williams has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends KushCo Holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

GM to slash 14,700 jobs in North America

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘JOURNAL TIMES’)

 

GM to slash 14,700 jobs in North America

  •  0

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors will lay off 14,700 factory and white-collar workers in North America and put five plants up for possible closure as it restructures to cut costs and focus more on autonomous and electric vehicles.

The reduction includes 8,100 white-collar workers, some of whom will take buyouts and others who will be laid off. Most of the affected factories build cars that won’t be sold in the U.S. after next year. They could close or they could get different vehicles to build. They will be part of contract talks with the United Auto Workers union next year.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Plants without products include assembly plants in Detroit; Lordstown, Ohio; and Oshawa, Ontario. Also affected are transmission factories in Warren, Michigan, as well as Baltimore.

About 6,000 factory workers could lose jobs in the U.S. and Canada, although some could transfer to truck plants.

China, Saudi Arabia And The Trump Problem: Yes, The U.S. Is A Saudi Bitch, Sort Of

China, Saudi Arabia And The Trump Problem: Yes, The U.S. Is A Saudi Bitch, Sort Of

 

If you think that I like the truth behind that title then you have been drinking too much Corn Liquor. This is a true statement whether we like it or not, and personally I do not. Now I will explain myself to you before you shoot your computer. I am going to spit out some realities to you, then you decide for yourself if we (the U.S.) are indeed a ‘Saudi Bitch’, or not. Personally when I think of the word bitch I tend to think of a female dog or of a very hateful woman, but there are other meanings. I googled the term ‘being someone’s bitch’ to see what it had to say and here is what I found, I think it fits the definition of todays letter to you quite well. “Someone who gets treated with little respect and has to follow every order (of their master). Humiliating position of servitude.”

 

You may think, well how does this fit the current situation with President Trump, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and their leaders, now I will explain why it does. You may also be wondering about how does China fit into this equation, I will explain this outlier to you in just a moment. First, no country on Earth is self-sufficient as far as their own safety is concerned unless their energy supply is self-contained and all of us know that we are not, nowhere near it. Our Nation could have and should have been self supplying decades ago but because of our politicians and corporate greed we are at the mercy of those we get our energy supplies from, the biggest of these importers to us is Saudi Arabia. The U.S. Government has for many decades aligned ourselves with Saudi Arabia and with other Sunni led Nations like Egypt while Russia has been aligning themselves with Shia Nations like Syria, Iraqi and Iran. As most everyone knows, these two sects of Islam hate each other and they have been fighting a Civil War between them in the Middle-East now for about 1,400 years. Back in the early 1970’s Saudi Arabia agreed to put their oil market on the currency of the American Dollar. Being the Saudi’s had the most known oil in the world the other oil producers of OPEC followed suit. We, the American Government, agreed to supply and train the Saudi military and to protect the Saudi Royal Family in return.

 

Back in the early 1970’s the economies of Nations like China were a small fraction of what they are today so at that time they were not really in the market for massive oil imports, but now they are.  Right now China gets a huge amount of their oil imports from Russia but that could easily change if the Saudis decided to drastically curb or even stop all of their imports to the U.S.. China could easily take up the vacuum if the Saudis cut us off. Think about it, all of the Middle-East being dominated by Russia and China with the U.S. totally shut out of the region. Also is the reality that if the U.S. Government angers the Saudi Royal family enough the Royal family could decide to quit accepting the U.S. Dollar and change the oil market to the Chinese Yuan which as of today is trading at one Dollar equals seven Yuan. What would our economy do if that flipped and it took seven Dollars to equal one Yuan? What would happen if OPEC shut off all oil imports to the U.S.? Back in 2008 our economy suffered about a 2% decline and it threw us into the deepest depression since the 1930’s, if the Saudis decided to change allegiance toward us it would make the 1930’s look like party time. Our economy would totally tank and not just from the loss of jobs in the ‘military industries’. Just the sheer size of China calling in their loans to us would bankrupt our country, today we owe China more than 10 trillion dollars of which we have no way to repay.

 

Folks, our culture here in the U.S. is not the culture of most other Nations and it definitely is not the same as the cultures of the Middle-East or of Asia. I know that the U.S. was founded on Christian morals and ethics even though our Founding Fathers did have a very warped concept of what that was. We here in the U.S. have a Constitution that all of our people and our Leaders are supposed to run our Country by, thanks to our Founding Fathers. Our Constitution may be based on Christian ideals but our Nation, by the Constitution, is not to be a ‘Church’ run Government. What I am trying to get at is that we cannot demand that other Nations obey our laws, our Constitution, or our morals. Donald Trump is a businessman, he has no clue about Christianity, ethics or our Constitution but he does recognise the power and authority of a Dictator and what a Dictator can do to business. President Trump does recognise what the Saudi Royal Crown Prince ‘MBS’ can put to bear on the U.S. businesses including his own. Simply put, the reason President Trump is now and in the future is going to kiss the ass of the Saudi Royal Family is business and business to him and to most people for that matter is more important than our morals. So, what are we as a people, as a nation, going to do? If we insist on our ethics and on our version of morals be followed by all Nations whom we do business with, then our Nation’s economy top to bottom, is going to hit rock bottom, or we can be the bitch of people like the Saudi Crown Prince. We as a Nation can not have it both ways, President Trump has chosen, it was easy for him as he doesn’t have any morals to fall back on. Our Nation’s Leaders have kissed the ass of big business for so long I have no doubt what our spineless Politicians will do now concerning the Saudi Crown Prince. So, have our Politicians over the past 45 plus years turned us into a Saudi Bitch, you decide!

 

 

Congressional Freshman Class Photos Show How Different The House Will Look

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘BUSTLE NEWS’)

 

These 2019 Congressional Freshman Class Photos Show How Different The House Is Going To Look

Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

A week after the midterm elections, newly elected lawmakers took their 2019 congressional freshman class photo in front of the U.S. Capitol. In addition to the fact that the incoming representatives all look very happy, images from the photo shoot also illustrate just how much more diverse this Congress will be from previous ones.

Although there are still some races that have yet to be called, Democrats are on track to win 38 seats in the House of Representatives, giving them control of the chamber for the first time since 2010, while losing at least one seat in the Senate. Democrats’ projected gain in the House is their biggest since 2006, according to FiveThirtyEight, when they won 32 seats.

The midterms were historic for several reasons. For one, turnout was higher than in any midterm election in more than 100 years: According to a preliminary analysis by the United States Election Project, 49.2 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in 2018. The previous high was 1966, when 48.7 percent of eligible Americans voted, and midterm elections generally average around 40 percent turnout.

In addition, the midterms produced what will be the most diverse Congress in American history, with a record number of women and people of color winning their elections.

Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The new Congress will feature more female legislators than ever before, according to NPR. At least 121 women will be serving in the House or Senate once the new Congress is sworn in, meaning that 23 percent of federal lawmakers will be women.

Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In addition, Congress will continue to get more racially diverse, with more legislators of color in the 116th Congress than at any other point in U.S. history. According to The Conversation, 26.7 of the new Congress will be non-white; as a share of the legislature, there will be more Black and Latinx lawmakers in Washington than ever before, while the number of Asian-Americans in Congress will hold steady.

Several individual candidates set records in the midterms as well. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib will be the first Muslim women to serve in Congress; additionally, Omar is the first Somali-American and Tlaib the first Palestinian-American woman to win seats. Meanwhile, Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland became the first Native American women elected to Congress.

Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Finally, the midterms will result in a much younger Congress than the one that currently serves: Thanks to successful millennial candidates such as Abby Finkenauer, Xochitl Torres Small, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — the youngest woman ever elected to Congress — the age of the average federal lawmaker will drop by 10 years once the new Congress is sworn in.

Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The changes in Congress’s diversity are due almost entirely to Democratic candidates. While the majority of newly elected Democrats are women, all but one of the newly elected Republicans are men, according to the Washington Post. In fact, House Republicans will have seven fewer women in their ranks in 2019 than they do now, according to PBS, and three fewer people of color. Elections analyst Dave Wasserman reports that the percentage of House Republicans who are white men is set to rise from 86 percent to 90 percent once the new members are sworn in.

Himanaya

A blog based on sports and my views on pressing issues

online Qurran Taecher

online Teaching

Take It Upon Yourself

Healthy Living: Mind, Body, Spirit, and Soul

An Englishwoman in Algeria

Thoughts and memories of a young English woman who fell in love and went to live in Algeria

The Travelling Foodie

Exploring the world one bite at a time

Being Wholly Vibrant

BE-ing your most joyful, naturally healthy, whole, balanced, and vibrant YOU!

Frasecillas

Pequeñas dosis a base de concentrado de palabra. Frases, poesía, microcuentos y otros escritos.

Ambo Vet Life

Life as an Ambulatory Equine Veterinarian

%d bloggers like this: