John Kelly reportedly used to mute the line: urge Trump not to discuss sensitive topics

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

John Kelly reportedly used to mute the line during calls with world leaders to urge Trump not to discuss sensitive topics

Trump on Phone
President Donald Trump is seen through a window speaking on the phone with King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, in the Oval Office of the White House, January 29, 2017 in Washington, DC.
 Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  • President Donald Trump is facing new scrutiny over his calls with world leaders after a whistleblower flagged a July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, in which Trump urged him to investigate a political rival.
  • The whistleblower alleged that a number of presidential transcripts have been locked away in a codeword-level system “solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information.”
  • White House advisers such as former chief of staff John Kelly even sought to prevent Trump from divulging sensitive information to world leaders, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
  • Kelly reportedly used to mute the line and urge Trump to stop discussing sensitive information.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The former White House chief of staff, John Kelly, used to mute the line during President Donald Trump’s calls with world leaders to tell him not to continue discussing sensitive information, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, citing a person with knowledge of the matter.

The news comes amid political turmoil over a recent call in which Trump urged the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump’s main political rivals.

The July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky was the subject of an explosive whistleblower complaint and has spurred an impeachment inquiry from House Democrats.

Read moreThe White House reportedly tried to conceal transcripts of Trump’s calls with other world leaders, including Russia’s Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad bin Salman

The controversy has cast new scrutiny over Trump’s previous communications with other world leaders. The whistleblower indicated in his complaint that a number of presidential transcripts have been locked away in a codeword-level system “solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information.”

The Journal reported Saturday that White House advisers such as Kelly sought to prevent Trump from divulging sensitive information to world leaders on such calls, and other government officials sought to keep a tight lid on records of those conversations.

john kelly
John Kelly.
 Alex Wong/Getty Images

Their efforts began after a number of controversies at the onset of Trump’s presidency, including an infamous call with then-Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in which Trump lambasted a “rotten” refugee deal the Obama administration brokered with the Australian government.

Trump also took heat for another contentious phone call with then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, reportedly telling him, “We are going to build the wall and you all are going to pay for it, like it or not.”

Read moreTrump’s actions with Ukraine were ‘profoundly stupid’ and beyond anything any president has ever done, historians and veteran diplomats say

After the Australia and Mexico calls, the National Security Council “severely cut back” on the number of people to whom those call records were sent, The Journal reported, citing people knowledgeable of the situation.

Instead, the call records were sent only to people directly involved in the issues discussed in the call, according to The Journal’s sources.

Supreme Court clears way for Trump admin to use Defense funds for border wall

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Supreme Court clears way for Trump admin to use Defense funds for border wall construction

(CNN)The Supreme Court on Friday cleared the way for the Trump administration to use $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense to construct parts of a wall along the southwestern border that the government argues is necessary to protect national security.

The decision allows the Defense Department money to be spent now while a court battle plays out over whether the government had the authority to divert funds that were not appropriated for the wall. The Supreme Court voted 5-4, along ideological lines, to allow the funds to be used while the court appeals proceed.
In a brief order, the court said that it was ruling in favor of the Trump administration before the litigation has played out because the government had made a “sufficient showing” that the challengers did not have the legal right to bring the case.
Three members of the liberal wing of the court — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — wrote they would have blocked the funds for now. The fourth member, Justice Stephen Breyer, wrote separately to say that he would have allowed the government to use the funds to finalize the terms for contractors but block the funds from being used for the actual construction.
The Supreme Court’s order is a significant win for Trump, who is likely to use the construction of a wall as a major talking point on the campaign trail. The President celebrated the decision in a tweet Friday evening.
“The United States Supreme Court overturns lower court injunction, allows Southern Border Wall to proceed,” the President tweeted. “Big WIN for Border Security and the Rule of Law!”
The decision overrules a lower court decision that had blocked the transfer of funds while appeals played out. A panel of judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to allow the use of the funds earlier in the month, holding that the challengers were likely to prevail in their case because the use of the funds “violates the constitutional requirement that the Executive Branch not spend money absent an appropriation from Congress.”
The order comes after Trump ended a 35-day government shutdown in February when Congress gave him $1.4 billion in wall funding, far less than he had sought. He subsequently declared a national emergency to get money from other government accounts to construct sections of the wall.
The $2.5 billion had been shifted from various programs including personnel and recruiting, Minuteman III and air launch cruise missiles, E-3 aircraft upgrades and the Afghan security forces training fund. The Pentagon said it was able to move that money due to uncovered cost savings as part of a process known as “reprogramming.” The money was moved into a Defense Department counter-drug account that is authorized to spend money on the construction of border barriers.
Many lawmakers slammed the decision to move the money away from those national security priorities, threatening to strip the Pentagon of its ability to move money around, something the Defense Department has acknowledged would be detrimental.
Lawyers for the government had asked the Supreme Court to step in on an emergency basis and unblock the use of the funds while legal challenges proceed in the lower courts.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco noted in court papers that the projects needed to start because the funds at issue “will no longer remain available for obligation after the fiscal year ends on September 30, 2019.” He said that the funds are necessary to permit the construction of more than 100 miles of fencing in areas the government has identified as “drug-smuggling corridors” where it has seized “thousands of pounds of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine” in recent years.
“Respondents’ interests in hiking, birdwatching, and fishing in designated drug-smuggling corridors do not outweigh the harm to the public from halting the government’s efforts to construct barriers to stanch the flow of illegal narcotics across the southern border,” Francisco argued in the papers, regarding the challenge from environmental groups.
It is a loss for critics, including the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition that argued the administration had illegally transferred the funds after Congress denied requests for more money to construct the wall. The groups argued the wall — in areas in Arizona, California and New Mexico — would harm the environment.
The ACLU, representing the groups, argued in court papers against a stay of the lower court ruling fearful of the wall’s impact on border communities.
“Issuance of a stay that would permit Defendants to immediately spend this money is not consistent with Congress’s power over the purse or with the tacit assessment by Congress that the spending would not be in the public interest,”ACLU lawyers told the court.
The ACLU slammed the decision after it was released Friday evening.
“This is not over. We will be asking the federal appeals court to expedite the ongoing appeals proceeding to halt the irreversible and imminent damage from Trump’s border wall. Border communities, the environment, and our Constitution’s separation of powers will be permanently harmed should Trump get away with pillaging military funds for a xenophobic border wall Congress denied,” said Dror Ladin, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.

Donald Trump: What I am Most Thankful On Thanksgiving is: Myself

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

Donald Trump said he was most thankful for himself on Thanksgiving as he spent the holiday weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

The president was on a phone call with members of the media and the military early Thursday morning when one reporter asked him what he was “most thankful for” this year.

“For having a great family and for having made a tremendous difference in this country,” Trump responded. “I made a tremendous difference in the country. This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you won’t believe it.”

The president continued, adding, “And I mean, you see it, but so much stronger that people can’t even believe it. When I see foreign leaders, they say we cannot believe the difference in strength between the United States now and the United States two years ago. Made a lot of progress.”

His response contrasted sharply with that of his Oval Office predecessor, Barack Obama, who said on Wednesday that he was thankful for the future “generation of leaders.”

“I am grateful for the next generation of leaders—the young people who are tolerant, creative, idealistic and doing the work to create the world as it should be. Who understand that hope requires action. From the Obama family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving,” Obama posted on Twitter.

Obama’s comment came after he made a surprise appearance at a Chicago food bank, where he volunteered ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

trump/thanksgiving/phone/call/militaryPresident Donald Trump speaks to military members via teleconference from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 22. Trump told reporters on the call that he was most thankful for the “tremendous job” he’s doing for the country.MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

On the phone call Thursday morning, Trump also addressed American service members who were spending Thanksgiving at the southern border awaiting the arrival of the migrant caravan. The president has ordered nearly 6,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to prepare for the caravan of asylum-seekers, which Trump claimed, with no evidence, was filled with dangerous gang members, drug dealers and terrorists.

During the holiday call, Trump took the opportunity to slam the federal courts for ruling against his decisions on immigration. He directly referred to the judge who had issued a temporary restraining order blocking the White House from barring immigrants who crossed the border illegally from seeking asylum.

“It’s a terrible thing when judges take over your protective services, when they tell you how to protect your border. It’s a disgrace,” Trump said. He also gave the military permission to use lethal force along the border.

In a video message posted on Twitter, Trump gave tribute to the military members overseas, police officers, first responders and firefighters, saying: “These are brave people, these are great people, these are special people.”

Trump administration could be holding 30,000 border kids by August

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Trump administration could be holding 30,000 border kids by August, officials say

The Trump administration could be holding 30,000 illegal immigrant children by the end of August as a result of its push to enforce federal immigration laws, which has led to the separation of children from their parents and guardians as those adults are prosecuted.

A senior administration official who asked not to be identified said the Department of Health and Human Services has been taking in about 250 children per day in recent weeks. HHS is the agency that is taking in children when they are separated from their families.

An HHS official added that the agency expects to be taking about 250 kids each day at least for the next two months. If that estimate holds, HHS could be caring for 18,500 more children by the end of August.

The HHS official said as of Friday, HHS was already holding 11,500 children, which means the total could hit 30,000 by August.

The practice of separating children from illegal immigrant adults has become highly controversial in the last few weeks, and is something Democrats have highlighted as a practice that needs to stop.

The Trump administration has defended the policy by saying illegal immigrants need to know that if they try entering the U.S., they will be prosecuted, which could lead to separation from their children. Officials have said U.S. citizens face the same risk when they commit crimes.

But administration officials have also said they support a change to the federal law that requires prosecution and family separation, and have blamed Democrats for current law.

Illegal immigration along the southwestern U.S. border has spiked in the last few months, even though administration officials have said they expect Trump’s zero-tolerance policy to eventually dissuade more from coming. A Justice Department spokesman told the Washington Examiner last week the zero-tolerance policy is not expected to lead to a decline in the number of illegal immigrants attempting to make the trek to the U.S. from primarily Central American countries until early fall.

Under current practice, HHS takes care of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children as well as now those under the age of 18 who must be cared for while the adults they were apprehended with are prosecuted for illegal entry. This spring, Sessions directed federal prosecutors stationed at the border to bring charges against all migrants that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers took into custody.

However, family units that arrive at ports of entry and request asylum will not be prosecuted because they have not attempted to enter the country illegally, several DHS officials confirmed to the Washington Examiner. They will also be kept together as they go through the asylum process. These groups are detained in DHS facilities while minors are directed to HHS.

In an attempt to secure housing for the coming flood of children, HHS selected the Tornillo Land Port of Entry near El Paso, Texas, last week as the first back-up site to temporarily house around 360 minors.

The Trump administration is also advancing a plan to tentatively house unaccompanied minors in tent cities located on three Texas military bases due to increasing border apprehensions and a shortage of beds for the underage immigrants.

“[Health and Human Services] is running out of space because of the implications of the zero tolerance policy, but also because we continue to see this uptick in numbers,” an official confirmed to the Washington Examiner last week.

HHS officials are looking at Fort Bliss near El Paso, Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, and Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, the official confirmed.

Why Is The American Government Committing Treason Against Every American

Why Is The American Government Committing Treason Against Every American

 

There are going to be some folks who will be mad at me for insinuating such a thing about our government, some will call me unpatriotic for saying such a thing. Well, honestly, I think that the vast majority of the American People aren’t quite as naive as we were 50 years ago, or even say, one year ago.  I know that I am not the wisest human being to ever walk this planet but I have spent most of my 60 plus years trying to pay attention to reality. We all know by now that there are good and bad people in every profession. There are some professions that we all believe or joke about as being dirty whether it be so or not, like door to door magazine salesmen, used car dealers, bankers, insurance salesmen, NSA personnel, politicians, and oil executives. I have tried to always be completely truthful in everything I write on this site, always to the best of my knowledge and ability, and that is what I am going to do in this article.

Treason, yes treason, that is what I said. The first duty of any government is to keep its people safe. If they forsake this most basic vow, they are guilty of treason against their own people and this is what has been going on now for a very long time. Nothing this bad can last forever without horrible consequences and at any moment all of our lives can be changed in a flash. Back in 1980 I worked at a major U.S. oil company headquarters in Houston Texas in the executive protection field, I learned there just how easily major politicians can be bought and paid for with absolutely no regard for the welfare of the country by either the politician or the company. These actions I witnessed and heard sickened me to my core so I quit and moved many states away from that job.  Some of the things I heard there would make you mad, sick, or just laugh at some of the pure stupidity and out of touch with reality they could be there in their ivory towers.

For many years I have traveled all over the United States many, many, times. I am going to tell you some of the things I have seen and that I know are absolute truth. When you travel through west Texas and you go through the Midland, Odessa area on interstate 20 you are going through the Permian Basin. This is where the best crude oil in the world is at, it is the oil that the rest of the world’s oil is judged by, this is the land that the Bush family worked, lived, and prospered in. If you look out in the fields on each side of the highway especially if you travel at night you will occasionally see vertical lights out in the fields, these are oil drilling rigs digging for the black gold. Does it make any sense to still be drilling? Most folks would say yes, I think. But now, if you travel west Texas, Oklahoma, California, Wyoming, or North or South Dakota you will see something that might surprise you, at least at a minimum, even in west Texas, half or more of all the pump jacks are turned off and the new holes that get dug are then capped.

Now, do you ask why? Good question, now I am going to start telling you why I think that you and I and everyone in our country are having our safety sold out, it’s all about money and greed folks. I have some friends in these High Plains areas who work in these fields and have been told the same thing goes on up there, wells get dug, then capped. You probably know of this oil pipeline that Canada and some U.S. companies want to lay pipe for from Canada down to the Gulf Coast but the government won’t approve it because environmental organizations don’t want it running through sensitive land areas in places like Nebraska. Here is a thought, I know for a fact that there are oil refineries in states like Wyoming and Montana, why does the oil pipeline have any need to go all the way to the Gulf Coast, is it so the oil companies can export it? We have been told for decades now that we don’t have the oil storage or refining capabilities that are needed. Why not? Create more jobs in these western states, build a lot more storage areas and the needed amount of oil refineries there to handle the new oil we are finding on our own land and if Canada want’s to run this joint pipeline adventure into the States there is plenty of unused government land to build these facilities on. These things should have been done many years ago for the reason of National Security, your security, my security, and the security of all of our families have been at stake for years, but we were then and now still being sold out.

Back as far as the early seventies our people learned that we are not and island unto our selves, that events outside of our borders can badly harm us. With the OPEC oil embargo OPEC countries cut way back on what they would sell us because we dared to back Israel. What has our government done to correct this national security issue? What is our current government doing now to correct this major safety issue? President Obama wouldn’t approve the Canadian pipeline, and he all but killed the cola industry and the nuclear industry is being phased out, plus there are many, many oil fields that the government wouldn’t give drilling permits for. But now, President Trump seems willing to give drilling permits just about anywhere except off the east coast of Florida where he has personal business interests. Yet still, where are the new refineries and storage units for all the oil we are producing and the gas we are producing on our own shores, where are they? I know that oil and gas and coal are not the only forms or energy we use in our country, but they are a huge part of it at this time. The U.S. Department of Energy say’s that in 2012 we imported 40% of the oil we consume at this time, 40% folks. In this country we have seen when we have a 2% down tick in the economy it throws us into a deep recession, at best. Folks, what would happen in this country if say even 30% of that 40% were shut off from us, that would be 12% loss. What would that do to our economy, to everyone’s lives, our jobs, our ability to get to them, also what would the cost of a gallon of gas be then?

If we the people are not the first concern for every one in our government why not? Now I am going to spout a few figures to you that come from the Independent Statistics and Analyst Department of the U.S. Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, from one of their web sites. We (oil companies) are exporting these following items, 1) Crude Oil 2) Crude Oil Products 3) Finished Motor Gasoline 4) Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel 5) Distillate Fuel Oil 6) Residual Fuel Oil 7) Propane/Polypropylene 8) here it just said “oil-oils”.  People, why is our government allowing the sale of any of this outside of our own borders? Their own stats say that we are importing 7.4 M.M.B.D. of crude oil while at the same time we are exporting 1.M.M.B.D., people, why is this being allowed. In the “Interest of National Security” these things could be stopped and corrected, why aren’t they? Money, greed?Treason?

There are many real things that could have been done already to cut down on our imports while they were building the refineries and storage facilities that are needed. Any secure nation is not secure unless it is 100% self-sufficient in its energy requirements with large energy stock piles in case of any type of attack on that country. Folks, we are nowhere near being in a safe zone. Another part of this issue is the fact that we are importing energy from countries that hate us and who are supporting militant groups so that they can attack and kill us all. How ignorant is it that you give the people who want nothing more than to kill you the weapons and the bullets to do it with? That’s what we are doing and have been doing for decades now, why is our government past and present trying to get us all killed? Is the answer the same as what I witnessed while working for that major oil company in Houston, is it all about power and greed and to hell with the people, it does seem that way to me.

One other quick issue I want to touch on before I close, again the government could have used the “for national security, or at least, for the good of the country” slogan to force these issues, and they do have the power to do exactly that in time of emergencies . Question is, why wait until you have the emergency before you make any plans or take the needed steps to survive the emergency? One of the things the government could have/should be enforcing is much more stringent MPG requirements for at least the past forty years yet President Trump just this past week canceled the higher MPG requirements. Think how much less fuel imports would be if all new cars sold in America were required to get 40 MPG in town and out, no exceptions, and all Pickups and SUV’s were required to get a minimum of 30 MPG in town and out. Why is it not a forced issue that every new vehicle made or sold in America has to be a Hybrid? These things can be done and should have been forced on the car makers decades ago. Would there have to be changes in the design and size of the units, of course. But think about it, if these laws were in effect now and our units were getting these MPG’s now how much of a savings would all of us have at the pump? Think of all the other places that money could be spent to improve our life styles and at the same time stimulate our economy. I will close now with this one very major issue. Our import export deficit is now over a trillion dollars a year and a huge portion is from imported energy. This policy is stupid and dangerous to every one of us. Our governments policies not only give our enemies the weapons they use to kills us with but in so doing, this export deficit is killing the value of our currency making the things we can buy much more expensive because the dollar is so down graded, and this hurts every one of us. So again, why the heck is our government putting every ones lively hood and lives at such risk? Is it as simple as money and greed, because they couldn’t possibly just be this stupid could they, well, maybe President Trump could, but no, in this case it is all about greed.

As I said earlier in this article, there are good and bad people in every occupation, even politics. When I lived in northern Illinois back about 40 years ago I had a real good Congressman in a man named John Anderson and I was blessed to have had an excellent Congressman when I lived in eastern Tennessee named M.D. Phil Roe. I have had contacts with Congressman Roe a few times and I beg you, if you have a good Congressman or Senator, state of federal, please try to communicate these concerns to them before we either end up with a totally crippled country, or before we’re all dead.

 

Why Is The American Government Committing Treason Against Every American

First Published December 14th, 2013

 

There are going to be some folks who will be mad at me for insinuating such a thing about our government, some will call me unpatriotic for saying such a thing. Well, honestly, I think that the vast majority of the American people aren’t quite as naive as we were 50 years ago, or even say, one year ago.  I know that I am not the wisest human being to ever walk this planet but I have spent most of my 60 years trying to pay attention to reality. We all know by now that there are good and bad people in every profession. There are some professions that we all believe or joke about as being dirty whether it be so or not, like door to door magazine salesmen, used car dealers, bankers, insurance salesmen, NSA personnel, politicians, and oil executives. I have tried to always be completely truthful in everything I write on this site, always to the best of my knowledge and ability, and that is what I am going to do in this article.

Treason, yes treason, that is what I said. The first duty of any government is to keep its people safe. If they forsake this most basic vow, they are guilty of treason against their own people and this is what has been going on now for a very long time. Nothing this bad can last forever without horrible consequences and at any moment all of our lives can be changed in a flash. Back in 1980 I worked at a major U.S. oil company headquarters in Houston Texas in the executive protection field, I learned there just how easily major politicians can be bought and paid for with absolutely no regard for the welfare of the country by either the politician or the company officials. These actions I witnessed and heard sickened me to my core so I quit and moved many states away from that job.  Some of the things I heard there would make you mad, sick, or just laugh at some of the pure stupidity and how out of touch with reality they could be there in their ivory towers.

For many years I have traveled all over the United States many, many, times. I am going to tell you some of the things I have seen and that I know are absolute truth. When you travel through west Texas and you go through the Midland, Odessa area on interstate 20 you are going through the Permian Basin. This is where the best crude oil in the world is at, it is the oil that the rest of the world’s oil is judged by, this is the land that the Bush family worked, lived, and prospered in. If you look out in the fields on each side of the highway especially if you travel at night you will occasionally see vertical lights out in the fields, these are oil drilling rigs digging for the black gold. Does it make any sense to still be drilling? Most folks would say yes, I think. But now, if you travel west Texas, Oklahoma, California, Wyoming, or North or South Dakota you will see something that might surprise you, at least at a minimum, even in west Texas, half or more of all the pump jacks are turned off and the new holes that get dug are then capped.

Now, do you ask why? Good question, now I am going to start telling you why I think that you and I and everyone in our country are having our safety sold out, it’s all about money and greed folks. I have some friends in these High Plains areas who work in these fields and have been told the same thing goes on up there, wells get dug, then capped. You probably know of this oil pipeline that Canada and some U.S. companies want to lay pipe for from Canada down to the Gulf Coast but the government won’t approve it because environmental organizations don’t want it running through sensitive land areas in places like Nebraska. Here is a thought, I know for a fact that there are oil refineries in states like Wyoming and Montana, why does the oil pipeline have any need to go all the way to the Gulf Coast, is it so the oil companies can export it? We have been told for decades now that we don’t have the oil storage or refining capabilities that are needed. Why not? Create more jobs in these western states, build a lot more storage areas and the needed amount of oil refineries there to handle the new oil we are finding on our own land and if Canada want’s to run this joint pipeline adventure into the States there is plenty of unused government land to build these facilities on. These things should have been done many years ago for the reason of National Security, your security, my security, and the security of all of our families have been at stake for years, but we were then and now still being sold out.

Back as far as the early seventies our people learned that we are not and island unto our selves, that events outside of our borders can badly harm us. With the OPEC oil embargo OPEC countries cut way back on what they would sell us because we dared to back Israel. What has our government done to correct this national security issue? What is our current government doing now to correct this major safety issue? President Obama won’t approve the Canadian pipeline, and he has all but killed the coal industry and the nuclear industry is being phased out, plus there are many, many oil fields that the government won’t give drilling permits for. Where are the new refineries and storage units for all the oil we are producing and the gas we are producing on our own shores, where are they? I know that oil and gas and coal are not the only forms or energy we use in our country, but they are a huge part of it at this time. The U.S. Department of Energy say’s that in 2012 we imported 40% of the oil we consume at this time, 40% folks. In this country we have seen when we have a 2% down tick in the economy it throws us into a deep recession, at best. Folks, what would happen in this country if say even 30% of that 40% were shut off from us, that would be 12% loss. What would that do to our economy, to everyone’s lives, our jobs, our ability to get to them, also what would the cost of a gallon of gas be then?

If we the people are not the first concern for every one in our government, why not? Now I am going to spout a few figures to you that come from the Independent Statistics and Analyst Department of the U.S. Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, from one of their web sites. We (oil companies) are exporting these following items, 1) Crude Oil 2) Crude Oil Products 3) Finished Motor Gasoline 4) Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel 5) Distillate Fuel Oil 6) Residual Fuel Oil 7) Propane/Polypropylene 8) here it just said “oil-oils”.  People, why is our government allowing the sale of any of this outside of our own borders? Their own stats say that we are importing 7.4 M.M.B.D. of crude oil while at the same time we are exporting 1.M.M.B.D., people, why is this being allowed. In the “Interest of National Security” these things could be stopped and corrected, why aren’t they? Money, greed, treason?

There are many real things that could have been done already to cut down on our imports while they were building the refineries and storage facilities that are needed. Any secure nation is not secure unless it is 100% self-sufficient in its energy requirements with large energy stock piles in case of any type of attack on that country. Folks, we are nowhere near being in a safe zone. Another part of this issue is the fact that we are importing energy from countries that hate us and who are supporting militant groups so that they can attack and kill us all. How ignorant is it that you give the people who want nothing more than to kill you the weapons and the bullets to do it with? That’s what we are doing and have been doing  for decades now, why is our government past and present trying to get us all killed? Is the answer the same as what I witnessed while working for that major oil company in Houston? Is it all about power, and greed and to hell with the people? Folks, it does seem that way to me.

One other quick issue I want to touch on before I close, again the government could have used the “for national security, or at least, for the good of the country” slogan to force these issues, and they do have the power to do exactly that in time of emergencies . Question is, why wait until you have the emergency before you make any plans or take the needed steps to survive the emergency? One of the things the government could have/should be enforcing is much more stringent MPG requirements for at least the past forty years. They have done some work toward it but not nearly enough. Think how much less fuel imports would be if all new cars sold in America were required to get 40 MPG in town and out, no exceptions, and all Pickups and SUV’s were required to get a minimum of 30 MPG in town and out. Why is it not a forced issue that every new vehicle made or sold in America has to be a Hybrid? These things can be done and should have been forced on the car makers decades ago. Would there have to be changes in the design and size of the units, of course. But think about it, if these laws were in effect now and our units were getting these MPG’s now how much of a savings would all of us have at the pump? Think of all the other places that money could be spent to improve our life styles and at the same time stimulate our economy. I will close now with this one very major issue. Our import export deficit is now over a trillion dollars a year and a huge portion is from imported energy. This policy is stupid and dangerous to every one of us. Our governments policies not only give our enemies the weapons they use to kills us with but in so doing, this export deficit is killing the value of our currency making the things we can buy much more expensive because the dollar is so down graded, and this hurts every one of us. So again, why the heck is our government putting every ones livelihood and lives at such risk? Is it as simple as power and greed?  Doesn’t it have to be something like that because or political and industrial complex leaders couldn’t possibly be this stupid could they?

As I said earlier in this article, there are good and bad people in every occupation, even politics. When I lived in northern Illinois back 40 odd years ago I had a real good Congressman, a man named John Anderson and I am blessed to have had an excellent Congressman in east Tennessee, a man named M.D. Phil Roe. I have had contacts with Congressman Roe a few times and I beg you, if you have a good Congressman or Senator, state or federal, please try to communicate these concerns to them before we either end up with a totally crippled country, or were all dead.

 

China’s security obsession is now a point of national pride

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC.NET)

 

China’s security obsession is now a point of national pride

Updated 

China is the world’s ultimate security state.

Beijing police proudly boast there is no corner of public space that surveillance cameras cannot see.

Every subway entrance involves bag scans and metal detectors.

Armed military police stand guard at major public spaces.

Various levels of lower down security guards are ever present, right down to the elderly civilian volunteers who keep watch on the street when big political events take place.

Away from the capital of this authoritarian superpower things are more relaxed, but the political culture prioritising stability permeates deep.

Recently I was in the city of Dandong — bordering North Korea — where an airport video showed off SWAT patrol officers marching around empty streets.

Then a cartoon showed how they would respond to Islamist terrorists bringing fire and fury to Dandong — an unlikely scenario to contemplate in a city more well known for being China’s gateway to North Korea.

Over in far western Xinjiang the prospect of Islamist terror is far more realistic, and in recent months authorities have mobilised thousands of military police in several public displays of force.

The underlying rationale for all this security is to ensure the Communist Party’s control of China remains unchallenged — meaning some political activists and crusading lawyers have felt the full force of China’s security apparatus just as much as terror suspects.

The total annual domestic security budget hasn’t been published since 2013, when overseas media noted how it outstripped the rapidly growing funding for China’s military.

China’s massive internet censorship operation is also deeply linked to the overall concept of safeguarding stability.

Safer than other countries?

The normalisation of such a huge security presence is helping create a growing belief here that China is far safer than countries abroad.

Well-publicised cases of Chinese students and young nationals being kidnapped or murdered in the United States, Australia and elsewhere along with news coverage of mass shootings and violent protests in the West appear to affirm the idea that China’s security state is superior.

When similar incidents happen domestically, such as a violent face-off between a group of Muslims and police in the northern city of Tangshan in August, censors scrub any mention of it.

Events that could dominate the news agenda for days in a country like Australia can be neutralised and snuffed out before most people have a chance to hear about them.

“Chinese society is stable and orderly, people happily live and work in peace,” President Xi Jinping recently told an Interpol conference in Beijing.

“More and more people believe China is one of the world’s safest countries.

“This is China’s contribution to the world for security and stability.”

This emphasis on stability and security is only likely to increase in the weeks ahead as Mr Xi presides over a major Communist Party meeting confirming his leadership for another five years.

“The idea of stability is central to the Chinese Communist Party”, said Dr Michael Clarke, a specialist in China’s domestic security policies at the Australian National University.

“It also plays into this wider narrative of China returning to its place of great power status and its ability to be a leader in international affairs.

“So I think there’s a real link between stability and Xi’s concept of the China Dream.”

Topics: world-politicsdefence-and-national-securitycommunity-and-societychinaasia

First posted 

Taiwan Is Suffering From A Massive Brain Drain And The Main Beneficiary Is China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM AND ANDY TAI’S WEBSITE)

 

Taiwan Is Suffering From a Massive Brain Drain and the Main Beneficiary is China

Aug 20, 2017

Money talks. At least it did for Eddie Chen and, presumably, for many of the 420,000 of his Taiwanese compatriots who opted to earn a higher salary by working in mainland China.

Chen, 26, moved from the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, to Beijing in 2014, first to study a Masters on a full scholarship, and then to work in PR for a major international company.

He earns double what he would in his native Taiwan, where starting salaries for graduates have barely risen since the late 1990s. “China has a bigger market and there is more globalization here,” he explains. “Taiwan does not offer many opportunities for young people.”

Official government statistics reveal that by 2015 over 720,000 out of Taiwan’s roughly 10-million strong workforce, 72.5% of them with an undergraduate degree or higher, had moved overseas for better job opportunities.

Unsurprisingly, neighboring China, with its common language, has absorbed the majority.

But it is also actively luring Taiwan’s best talent, contributing to an acute brain drain that not only threatens the Taiwanese economy, but has prompted fears that Beijing, which claims the island as its own territory, is using its economic clout to try to buy political influence.

A recent flow of mainland initiatives to recruit Taiwanese students and entrepreneurs has jangled nerves in the self-ruled democracy that China is expanding efforts to win the loyalty of the younger generation with financial sweeteners, taking advantage of Taiwan’s sluggish economy.

China has targeted Taiwan’s educated elite for years, but a recent uptick in job and education incentives suggests a shift in tactics since cross-strait relations soured over Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s refusal to accept Beijing’s policy that the island of 24 million is part of ‘One China’.

Read more: See Photos From Taiwan’s Famous Rainbow Village

Its attempts to punish Taiwan through international isolation, blocking it from United Nations meetings and poaching from its small remaining pool of diplomatic allies, appears only to have fortified Taiwanese resolve to forge their own identity.

The young in particular identify more acutely with Taiwan as their home country and China as a giant neighboring state. But the long term impact of offering millennials a higher standard of living is hard to predict.

China has made no secret of its belief that financial benefits can, over time, dilute, and eventually displace national identity and advance its unification agenda.

Reports emerged in April that Beijing would appeal to business grass-roots through the All China Federation of Taiwanese Compatriots, led by Wang Yifu, a former advisor to President Xi Jinping on Taiwan.

The plan to offer attractive study and work opportunities was followed this summer by invitations to Taiwanese local leaders and youth groups to mainland camps and cultural activities.

Last month, China’s education ministry announced it would halve the quota of Chinese students in Taiwan while relaxing entrance rules for Taiwanese at mainland universities, fueling suspicion of attempted social engineering.

Taiwan ChinaA tourism-related business worker holds a slogan reading “No Job, No Life.” during a march in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, Sept. 13, 2016.  Chiang Ying-ying—AP

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which oversees cross-strait relations, urged China to “cherish and maintain” educational exchanges, warning against “interference or restrictions.”

It reminded Taiwanese students of “major differences” between the two countries’ education systems.

But politics is the last thing on Ling Kuang-hsuan’s mind as the postgraduate student, 22, excitedly prepares to start a two year Masters course in human resources at Peking university this September.

She believes Peking’s top reputation will improve her job prospects and, like Eddie Chen, she sees her future in China.

“I hope I can stay in China and find a job…Most of my friends also hope that they can work there after they graduate,” Ling adds. “There are many international companies that don’t have a franchise in Taiwan but they do have one in China.”

Her chances are good. China’s major cities offer a thriving scene of multinational companies and lucrative incentives for start-ups.

Read more: Taiwan’s Vice President Talks to TIME About the Global Health Risks Arising From the Island’s Isolation

In 2015, Chinese e-commerce magnate, Jack Ma, announced a $330 million fund for Taiwanese entrepreneurs.

Just last month, the Taipei-based China Times reported an award of almost $400,000 for a business start-up contest for Taiwanese youth in Shanghai.

Chen admits that China’s vibrant business climate lured him back after his studies when he struggled to start a PR company in Taiwan.

“It was easy to start, but not to survive,” he says. “In Taiwan they play more a short term game. They want their investment back soon.”

The Chinese, however, treated him like a “star”, offering an office and financial incentives. “The Chinese government want people to start-up. They want this trend,” he says.

Chen sold his stake in his company to advance his career in a large international firm.

In China, ambitious Taiwanese professionals also find they can progress quicker than they would at home. “Our company is willing to give younger people more of a chance,” says Chen.

China may feel like a foreign country where “we still understand that we are different culturally and politically”, but for now it is Chen’s home. “Taiwan is much more a place for retirement,” he adds.

The roots of Taiwan’s talent deficit lie in its slow export-reliant economy and the failure to make tough reforms to attract foreign investment and to shift from previously successful labor-intensive industries towards high technology and services.

Meanwhile, neighboring China enjoys high growth. In July it reported an annual pace of 6.9% while Taiwan hovers at around 2%.

Job seekers look at job information at an employment fair in Taipei, TaiwanJob seekers look at job information at an employment fair in Taipei, Taiwan on May 28, 2016.  Tyrone Siu—REUTERS 

To add to Taiwan’s woes, graduate salaries have stagnated. In 1999, a university graduate could expect an average monthly salary of around $900. By 2016, this had risen to just $925.

“If China is growing at 6 percent a year and Taiwan is growing at 2 percent a year, which is going to be the most attractive place to go to stake out your career?” asks Michael Zielenziger, Asia expert and a managing editor at Oxford Economics, a U.K.-based economics and research consultancy.

“It’s very difficult for a young, bright Taiwanese student to ignore the bright lights, big city appeal of either China or the States. It’s a challenge to the government to make the country more attractive, to keep people at home and bring them back,” he says.

In 2012, Oxford Economics produced a survey that made the dire prediction that by 2021, Taiwan would have the biggest talent deficit in the world.

“Taiwan comes in poorly for a number of obvious factors. The population is not increasing…It’s getting older,” says Zielenziger.

Read more: ‘If We Patented General Tso’s Chicken, We’d Be Extremely Rich’: Remembering Peng Chang-kuei

Caught in a vicious cycle, low wages have left young people less inclined to start a family, contributing to declining birthrates.

Youth are resentful that Taiwan’s generous state pension system leaves, for example, retired high school teachers on a monthly stipend of around $2,250, while they struggle to make ends meet.

The resulting exodus leaves less workers to support the swelling ranks of the old, pushing the pensions system towards the brink of bankruptcy.

Gordon Sun, director of the forecasting center at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, says the nature of the brain drain is exacerbating Taiwan’s economic troubles.

“They are high level managers, engineers, they are rich, their income is high,” he says.

“Most of their spending or consumption is in China. So in Taiwan our consumption cannot grow,” he argues. “We need them to come back and live here and spend here.”

Shanghai records best month for air quality in five yearsTourists visiting the promenade on the Shanghai Bund take pictures of the Lujiazui Financial District skyline in Pudong, Shanghai, China, on Sept. 26 2016.  Wang Gang—Imaginechina 

But the notion of China presenting itself as the land of opportunity in exchange for Taiwanese loyalty is misguided, believes Taipei-based analyst Michael Cole, a senior fellow at Nottingham University’s China Policy Institute.

Firstly, China has no clear strategy to win over Taiwan. “Right now, they don’t know what to do,” he argues.

“They’ve long been infatuated with notions of economic determinism. They tried that with Tibet and they tried that with Hong Kong to an extent,” Cole says.

“They still don’t seem to realize the pragmatism with which people are dealing with China, in which they recognize the opportunities for their career or for investment, but very rarely does that translate into a shift in self-identification or support for unification.”

Lo Chih-cheng, a legislator with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), agrees that young people will see through attempts to politically manipulate them.

“They want to show especially to young people, that China is their future, and Taiwan has nowhere to go to but to turn to China. That’s their strategy: Taiwan has to depend on China for economic development,” he says.

“I don’t know whether it works or not but I don’t think it will change their identity,” Lo adds. “There is a huge difference between the way of life in Taiwan and China that will reinforce their views about themselves being Taiwanese not Chinese.”

Others are more concerned that the long term impact of offering financial security to an entire generation, could slowly erode resistance to China’s political ambitions.

Unlike Hong Kong, freedom of speech and democracy is not directly under threat for now in Taiwan, giving the young fewer reasons to push back. Taiwanese identity is strong, but willingness to advocate independence less so.

Rex, 36, a Taiwanese banker, moved to Guangzhou, southern China, two years ago as he did not want to lose his job in Taiwan in middle age. “I don’t see a future for my work in Taiwan,” he says.

Read more: Many Young Taiwanese Want to Go to the Olympics With a New Flag and Anthem

He now prefers the dynamism of China compared to the more regulatory business culture at home.

Politics plays little role in Rex’s personal life, but he believes that “Taiwan and the Chinese are going to merge some day in the future, 50 or 100 years from now” for more practical reasons.

“China is just too big and in Taiwan you cannot live without China being involved in your business,” he explains.

For many who opted to stay home, the steady drip of China’s economic influence over those who left has become a touchy subject.

Earlier this year, a Taiwanese man, Jeremy, 25, who works in Shanghai was denounced online as a “communist bandit” after he urged young people to leave and seek a better life overseas.

“I have friends in Taiwan who work inconceivably hard every day. They’re up at 5am and don’t finish up with work until 9 or 10pm at night. And what for? They have no future and no hopes,” he said in a video that went viral.

A tourist from Shanghai, China goes through a health checkup organised by the hospital to promote medical tourism in TaipeiA tourist from Shanghai, China goes through a health checkup organized by a hospital to promote medical tourism in Taipei June 28, 2011.  Pichi Chuang—REUTERS 

Dr Yang Tzu-ting, a research fellow at the Institute of Economics at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica, believes that a large Taiwanese labor force in China could “threaten our national security” and encourage some to become advocates for unification.

The best way for the Taiwanese government to counter this is to create better jobs and to boost the services industry, he argues.

An example would be to remove stifling annual quotas on medical training to create a health tourism sector, he says. Another would be to make universities more competitive to prevent academics escaping centralized, and low, wages.

Ross Feingold, a Taipei-based lawyer and public policy analyst, agrees that the Taiwanese government is not doing enough to stem the brain drain.

“One way to look at it is if China succeeds in getting young people to remain there during election time and not return home to vote for the DPP, that that would also work to China’s advantage,” he says.

“I think it’s just a transactional relationship where people want to have jobs that pay better and offer opportunities for promotion. Whether it builds personal affinity remains to be seen.”

This Is The Week President Trump Meets President Putin Face To Face In Germany At G-20 Summit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC NEWS)

Russian President Vladimir Putin will demand the return of two diplomatic compounds seized by the United States when he meets in Germany this week with President Trump for the first time, the Kremlin said, as a senior Russian official warned that Moscow’s patience on the issue was running out.

Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov said his government showed “unusual flexibility” by not retaliating in December when then-President Obama confiscated the two compounds, in New York state and Maryland, and expelled 35 Russian diplomats as punishment for Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Ushakov urged Washington to “free Russia from the need to take retaliatory moves,” according to The Associated Press.

The White House has reportedly been mulling returning the compounds in an effort to improve relations with Moscow, and in recent days Russian officials have warned that retaliatory measures have been drawn up if the compounds are not returned. They were nominally used by the Russian Embassy as recreational facilities, but U.S. intelligence has long argued they were bases for espionage.

In a separate statement released today, the Kremlin said Putin would raise the issue with Trump when the two meet in Hamburg, Germany, where the G-20 summit is being held Saturday. The statement said that the Kremlin expected Putin would convey the need to find the “most rapid resolution” on the issue, which it described as an “irritant” in Russian-U.S. relations.

The two leaders’ first meeting is highly anticipated, coming as investigations continue into possible collusion between members of Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian officials and as relations between Moscow and Washington are being described as at their worst since the Cold War.

There has been intense speculation for months over when the two presidents might come face to face. Since confirming the meeting

last week, the White House has been light on details about what they will discuss.

“There’s no specific agenda. It’s really going to be whatever the president wants to talk about,” Trump’s national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster told reporters last week.

McMaster said administration officials had been tasked with drawing up options to confront Russia over “destabilizing behavior,” including cyber threats and political subversion, as well as looking for ways to cooperate on issues such as Syria and North Korea.

Today the Kremlin was more specific, issuing a broad list of areas where it said it believed it could cooperate with the United States. The top issues listed for discussion were Russia’s dissatisfaction with U.S. sanctions, its desire to cooperate on international terrorism, the Syria crisis and improving efforts around nuclear arms control.

Most of the issues resembled those the Kremlin frequently raised with the Obama administration, and the statement emphasized Moscow’s desire for a return to normal relations.

There is “significant potential for coordinating efforts,” the Kremlin statement said. “Our countries can do much together in resolving regional crises,” including Ukraine, Libya and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The statement also said Russia was eager to restore business links with the United States.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday told the news agency Interfax he hoped the meeting would lend clarity to the relationship and warned that not seeking to normalize relations would be a “huge mistake.”

In reality, however, it’s unclear that, beyond the return of the diplomatic compounds, there is much Putin and Trump will be able to ask of each other. In many areas, U.S. and Russian interests have little overlap, and that has not appeared to change under Trump.

On Syria the two have clashed, and last month a U.S. fighter shot down a war plane belonging to Russia’s ally President Bashar al-Assad. The White House has said sanctions will not be lifted on Russia until it withdraws from Crimea, and in the Senate both parties are drawing up more sanctions to punish Russia for its alleged election meddling.

“I don’t think we should expect any kind of breakthrough,” said Maria Lipman, a veteran political analyst in Moscow. “I don’t think we should expect any significant results from this meeting. Not even the beginning of solutions to the major issues.”

During the presidential campaign and after the election, some Russian officials and state media expressed optimism that Trump would mean better relations with the United States. But such hopes have so far largely not materialized.

Lipman said she believes there is a growing realization in the Kremlin of Trump’s severely restricted ability to alter U.S. policy toward Moscow, given the intensity of the scandal around the Russia investigations.

Iraqi V.P. Ayad Allawi Says That The U.S. Is “Absent” From Being In A Leadership Role In Middle-East

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

The United States has no clear plan for dealing with the various crises it faces in the Middle East, according to one of the top US allies in the fight against ISIS.

The Iraqi Vice President, Ayad Allawi, said the US was “absent” from its traditional role in maintaining global stability.
“There is a vacuum in the overall leadership in the world,” Allawi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, in an interview airing Friday. “The Americans need to … get back to their role as an international power, an important international power.”
“To me, there is no international strategy — no strategy for the alliances that are fighting and have helped us in this part of the fight.”
Iraqi forces, supported by the US, are in pitched battleto retake the last blocks from ISIS control in Western Mosul, the extremist group’s last major stronghold in Iraq.
Allawi said that the despite the imminent military victory, the US lacked a broader strategy for fighting extremism, saying it was “absent” and lacked “clear-cut policies.”
Speaking in Washington on Wednesday, US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster insisted that US strategy in the region was working well. “We are being successful with our partners in Syria. We are being successful with our Iraqi partners,” he said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done.”
But Allawi said the US had abandoned its leadership role.

Iraqi troops closing in on ISIS in Mosul

Iraqi troops closing in on ISIS in Mosul
“There is no clear-cut policies where to go and what to do,” Allawi said. “Even for Iraq, it’s still premature. I think they are still deliberating on a kind of a strategy for Iraq. Nothing yet has materialized.”
A wide spectrum of international forces — including the US, the Kurds, Iran,and the governments of Syria and Iraq, — have succeeded in fighting ISIS back from the stunning territorial victories it gained in 2014.
Mosul is now almost back in Iraqi government hands; across the border, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of mainly Kurdish and Arab fighters, launched the final phase of their battle to recapture Raqqa earlier this month.
But Iraq has intelligence that ISIS is attempting to “forge an alliance” with Al Qaeda, the Islamist group from which it was spawned in 2013, Allawi warned.
Discussions are taking place in both Iraq and Syria, he said — mediated by former al Qaeda members who never joined ISIS. “It is the unification of the evil forces,” he said.
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