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Senate confirms 'Mad Dog' Mattis to head Pentagon, John Kelly at Homeland Security

© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
Shortly after President Donald Trump was sworn in, the Senate confirmed retired Marine General James Mattis as the secretary of the Department of Defense. Later, they also confirmed retired General John F. Kelly as secretary of homeland security.

Also known as "Mad Dog" Mattis, the 66-year-old becomes the first top military officer to serve as secretary of defense since President Harry Truman's appointment of Army General George C. Marshall in 1950.

The Senate voted 98-1 on Friday to confirm the nominee, the first official Trump administration Cabinet member. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) abstained from the vote, as he has been nominated as member of Trump's Cabinet.

One of Trump's first official acts as president was signing a waiver Congress approved to allow Mattis to serve in his new role. Typically, defense secretaries must have been out of the military service for at least seven years, as it is a civilian post.

Light Sabers

Trump's Declaration of War


Paul Craig Roberts
President Trump's brief inaugural speech was a declaration of war against the entirety of the American Ruling Establishment. All of it.

Trump made it abundantly clear that Americans' enemies are right here at home: globalists, neoliberal economists, neoconservatives and other unilateralists accustomed to imposing the US on the world and involving us in endless and expensive wars, politicians who serve the Ruling Establishment rather than the American people, indeed, the entire canopy of private interests that have run America into the ground while getting rich in the process.

Windsock

Bloomberg submits to "The Trump Effect", NATO member states pay up or get out

© Trigtent
He's the Boss.
The Trump effect is hitting NATO hard. The "NATO is obsolete" mantra is taking hold, and it has European freeloader states in a complete panic.

Trump shed a huge, bright light on NATO's uselessness. Now the European establishment is trying to figure out a way to define, and redefine, an alliance that has been sitting pretty under the US taxpayer's umbrella of security. No more.Trump wants the states that are not paying their 2% budget fair share to pay up...and people are listening. Even Bloomberg...
Donald Trump is right to say America's NATO allies aren't paying their fair share. But, to the delight of the arms industry, that may be changing.

Trump himself is the change-maker. He reaffirmed his skepticism about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and his readiness to make deals with Russia, in European media interviews published last weekend. Trump isn't famous for his policy consistency, but those positions have held fairly steady — leaving European leaders wondering whether they can still rely on the American security umbrella.
Here are the NATO member states in the chart below, that will have to reckon with the Trump world order, and start ponying up some cash from their state budget, in exchange for US protection.

© Bloomberg

Comment: Is NATO a relic that locks many countries into an old paradigm or does it still have some usefulness? Perhaps President Trump can breathe some life and relevance into it while bringing Russian paranoia back off the edge.


Chess

Trump Administration maps out first 100 days in office - Exit from TTP, renegotiate NAFTA, independence from OPEC cartel

© J. Scott Applewhite / Reuters
President Donald Trump is joined by the Congressional leadership and his family as he formally signs his cabinet nominations into law, in the President's Room of the Senate, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 20, 2017
The White House web page maps out the Trump administration's plans for energy, foreign policy, jobs, military and law enforcement, and trade deals, which will likely shape the direction of his first 100 days in office.

The list of priorities was published at the White House website after Trump was sworn in.

Under the energy plan, the White House said it is committed to elimination policies such as the Climate Action Plan and Waters of the US rule.

"Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years," according the White House.

The Trump administration will support a program of tapping the estimated $50 trillion worth of untapped shale oil and gas reserves, especially on federal lands, and use the revenue to support public infrastructure building.

Comment: Here the list of Trump administration's top issues: The section on trade is particularly interesting, as it confirms Trump's previously stated intentions to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and outlines the possibility of a withdrawal from NAFTA if partners to that agreement refuse a renegotiation.

Here is the what the text on trade reads:
This strategy starts by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and making certain that any new trade deals are in the interests of American workers. President Trump is committed to renegotiating NAFTA. If our partners refuse a renegotiation that gives American workers a fair deal, then the President will give notice of the United States' intent to withdraw from NAFTA.

In addition to rejecting and reworking failed trade deals, the United States will crack down on those nations that violate trade agreements and harm American workers in the process. The President will direct the Commerce Secretary to identify all trade violations and to use every tool at the federal government's disposal to end these abuses.
Also, the minute Trump took office the White House page on climate change was removed. Clearly Trump is ready to put his mark on the presidency.


Cowboy Hat

Foreign oil Trumped? New administration to 'embrace shale oil and gas revolution'

© gazprom.com
The Trump administration is going to "embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans".

The United States will utilize unused energy resources and embrace the shale and gas revolution, according to an America First Energy Plan released by the White House on Friday.

"Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America. The Trump administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans," the plan said.

The United States will maximize the use of its domestic energy resources to end the country's dependence on foreign oil.

"The Trump Administration is committed to energy policies that lower costs for hardworking Americans and maximize the use of American resources, freeing us from dependence on foreign oil," the plan said.

Snakes in Suits

Gladio again: Why didn't Germany stop the Berlin attacker

According to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), German security and intelligence agencies were particularly familiar with the Berlin attacker, Anis Amri, long before he plowed a large truck into a Christmas market, killing 12 and injuring many more.

In an article titled, "All the cracks that Berlin suspect Amri slipped through," a now familiar litany of excuses are peddled before audiences in a bid to explain why the suspect wasn't stopped, weeks, months, even years before he carried out his attack, as soon as it became apparent he was both violent and a danger to society.

DW's article admits:
The suspect first caught authorities' attention in November 2015, when he unwittingly told an informant for the investigative police unit (BKA) in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia that he wanted to "do something in Germany," according to a document obtained by the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. He also claimed that he could get an AK-47 for an attack.

Comment: Also read:


Clipboard

Medvedev flames 'dumb' Obama in open letter posted on Facebook

Years ago the two struck up a famous bromance, but it seems the former Russian president (now prime minister) is still bitter about Obama plunging the knife into his back by taking Medvedev's abstention at the UN on a Libya no-fly zone as a go-ahead to regime change Gaddafi. (Which convinced Putin he must take back the reigns, costing Medvedev the presidency.)

As every other betrayed lover Medvedev took his frustrations to Facebook, flaming Obama's record as president:
The administration of US President Barack Obama has come to a close and the results are decidedly mixed. I would like to give my assessment of Russia-US relations during this period, especially since I was directly involved in many events.

On the one hand, Russia and the United States managed to work together to resolve a number of major international problems. Our countries signed a nuclear weapons reduction treaty, and Russia and the United States played a leading role in resolving the controversy surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme. We achieved the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria. These outcomes are important for the entire world.

On the other hand, US-Russia relations completely fell apart by the end of the second term of the Obama administration.

Everyone is aware that the United States has always tried to "steer" almost all global processes, brazenly interfering in the internal affairs of various countries and waging multiple wars on foreign soil.

Iraq, the Arab Spring, Ukraine, and Syria are just a few examples of such reckless policies in recent years. We can still see their consequences, which range from the complete collapse of the political systems in these countries to wars which claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Windsock

Turkey now claims settlement of Syrian conflict without Assad not realistic

© Getty Images
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek
Ankara "can no longer insist" on finding ways to peace in Syria without Syrian President Bashar Assad being involved, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek announced, calling a scenario without Assad unrealistic.

Speaking in a panel discussion on Syria and Iraq at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Simsek suggested that "facts on the ground have changed dramatically" in Syria. Though previously opposed to the Syrian leader, Ankara has to be "pragmatic, realistic," he added. The deputy prime minister still blamed Assad for "the suffering of the Syrian people," but expressed "high hopes" they might end soon with the Syrian peace talks scheduled for next week.

Aiming to end the nearly six-year war in Syria, the international meeting hosted by Turkey, Russia, and Iran will take place in the Kazakhstan capital, Astana.

On Wednesday, Moscow and Ankara carried out their first joint military operation against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in the Syrian province of Aleppo. In the operation coordinated with the Syrian government, Russian and Turkish planes targeted dozens of terrorist positions. Based on initial results, the joint effort has proved successful, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Comment: These are potential turning points that hopefully achieve long-awaited, positive results for Syria and its people.


Propaganda

Compared to 6 yrs ago, Britain now at 'greater risk of terrorist attack'

© Twitter/Getty
David Anderson QC
The growing number of jihadists returning to the UK from Syria means Britain is now at greater risk of suffering a terrorist attack than it was six years ago, the government's independent reviewer of terror legislation, David Anderson QC, has warned. Anderson says the pervading sense of the country being "over the worst" when he started his role in 2011 was a "false dawn."

Speaking to the Press Association, he said there is now a "wider range" of dangers than there has been before, and despite having the skills to fight terrorism, "we need a bit of luck as well." He said rather than sophisticated plots to bomb transport hubs and shopping centers, jihadists already in the UK are being groomed, often online, to carry out 'lone wolf' attacks using knives, machetes, and vehicles.

"What we see now is not more people being killed in the country - we've been both lucky and skillful in that regard over the last 10 years. "We are seeing far more experienced terrorist fighters from this country in Syria than we ever saw in Afghanistan or east Africa or other theatres of war.

"And we are seeing a realization on the part of the terrorists that they don't need sophisticated explosives plots to take great numbers of lives. People using automatic weapons, heavy goods vehicles, even knives, machetes and securing all the publicity they could possibly want from deploying relatively simple weapons such as that."

About 850 Britons are thought to have gone to fight in Syria with jihadist groups, including Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). More than 100 have been killed, but around half returned home after experiencing battle.

Comment: Did Britain ever think about the chickens coming home to roost when it, as a good little US puppet state, agreed to support ISIS and other "moderates?" The kicker is the UK has become one of the most surveilled countries on the planet, and has been for years. So not only is the UK more dangerous because of the behavior of its psychopathic leaders, but the people are much less free as well.


Handcuffs

Tzipi Livni cancels Brussels trip, war crimes summons scare her off?

© Jews sans frontieres
Former Israeli FM Tzipi Livni
Israel's former foreign minister Tzipi Livni has canceled a visit to Brussels scheduled for next week. The news comes as Belgian prosecutors confirm that Livni was due to be questioned in an ongoing investigation for war crimes.

Livni was expected in Brussels on 23 January for a conference at the European Parliament, but she has pulled out citing illness, according to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir. Livni was apparently not too ill to speak to the New York branch of the Israel lobby group the Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday.

Israeli officials, including Livni, have a history of cancelling foreign visits if they fear arrest.

Thierry Wertz, a Belgian prosecutor, told Le Soir that federal judicial authorities "planned to take advantage of Tzipi Livni's visit to try to move the investigation forward." According to Le Soir, Wertz's comments indicate that prosecutors planned to formally summon Livni for questioning.

Evading justice

Livni is the subject of a complaint by victims filed in Brussels in 2010 for war crimes during "Operation Cast Lead" - Israel's assault on Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians.

Comment: See also: