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Tue, 25 Jul 2017
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Take 2

Spare us the theatrics! 'Trump's Fortress America' is rooted in Obama years

© Reuters/Getty Images
The Trump administration has the media and its political opponents (or do I repeat myself?) in a lather as the White House continues to fire executive orders in quick succession, demolishing the old order and enraging both liberals and their newfound neoconservative allies. Amid all the virtue-signaling hysterics, the most significant aspects of what is occurring are being overlooked - and it's my job to point them out.

While the blue-state crowd is protesting President Trump's order banning travel to the US by citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, what gets lost in all the shouting is that the legal and political basis of his order was laid down by President Barack Obama. These people don't care to recall that, in 2013, Obama banned all refugees from Iraq for six months, and his action was hardly noticed: Trump is only proposing a ninety-day pause. What prompted Obama's action, as ABC News reported at the time, was "the discovery in 2009 of two al Qaeda-Iraq terrorists living as refugees in Bowling Green, Kentucky — who later admitted in court that they'd attacked U.S. soldiers in Iraq."

Two years later, Congress passed a law, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, that restricted travel visas for citizens of "states of concern," i.e. Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Iran and "any other country or area of concern." Obama promptly signed it. In early 2016, the Department of Homeland Security unilaterally extended these restrictions to Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. What this meant was that the visa waiver program did not apply to citizens of these countries: travelers had to apply for a visa at US embassies, a highly problematic matter (Syria, for one, has no such facility) and were very unlikely to be successful in their efforts. I don't recall any protests at the time.


Did the United States Create ISIS?

Did the United States and her allies help create the rise of ISIS? Foreign leaders and U.S Generals believe so.



Acting AG instructs DOJ lawyers not to defend Trump travel ban order (UPDATE)

© Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates instructed Justice Department attorneys to not legally defend President Donald Trump's executive order on refugees and immigration.

Yates, an Obama appointee, is expected to be replaced by Trump's pick, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), in the near future. Meanwhile, courts in California, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and Washington state have already been presented with cases challenging the order.

"I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution's solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right," Yates wrote in a letter, according to the New York Times. "At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful."

Trump responded to Yates' move on Twitter, calling it an example of Democrats' obstruction "for purely political reasons."

Comment: UPDATE:

Trump fires acting attorney general for refusal to enforce 'extreme vetting' order

President Donald Trump has fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates, making Dana Boente, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia the new acting attorney general.

Yates was relieved of her post Monday, just hours after news broke that she was instructing Department of Justice lawyers not to defend the executive order.

Yates "betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States," a press release from the Office of the Press Secretary read.

"I am honored to serve President Trump in this role until Senator Sessions is confirmed. I will defend and enforce the laws of our country to ensure that our people and our nation are protected," Boente said as Acting Attorney General in the press release.

Arrow Down

Paul Craig Roberts - The left is self-destructing

© Juan Medina/Reuters
The mindlessness is unbearable. Amnesty International tells us that we must "fight the Muslim ban" because Trump's bigotry is wrecking lives. Anthony Dimaggio at CounterPunch says Trump should be impeached because his Islamophobia is a threat to the Constitution. This is not to single out these two as the mindlessness is everywhere among those whose worldview is defined by Identity Politics.

One might think that Amnesty International should be fighting against the Bush/Cheney/Obama regime wars that have produced the refugees by killing and displacing millions of Muslims. For example, the ongoing war that Obama inflicted on Yemen results in the death of one Yemeni child every 10 minutes, according to UNICEF. Where is Amnesty International?

Clearly America's wars on Muslims wreck far more lives than Trump's ban on immigrants. Why the focus on an immigration ban and not on wars that produce refugees? Is it because Obama is responsible for war and Trump for the ban? Is the liberal/progressive/left projecting Obama's monstrous crimes onto Trump? Is it that we must hate Trump and not Obama?

Immigration is not a right protected by the US Constitution. Where was Dimaggio when in the name of "the war on terror" the Bush/Obama regime destroyed the civil liberties guaranteed by the US Constitution? If Dimaggio is an American citizen, he should try immigrating to the UK, Germany, or France and see how far he gets.

Airplane Paper

Sweden will 'take measures' if port city agrees to Russia's Nord Stream-2 construction

© Sergey Guneev/Sputnik
Pipe manufacturing for Nord Stream.
Sweden's defense ministry has refuted reports that it has softened its stance on the use of Karlshamn as the base for the construction of Russia's Nord Stream-2.

Previously, officials claimed that the pipeline - which would transport natural gas into the EU - was "detrimental to Sweden's political and security interests."

"The government's assessment remains unchanged. We will meet representatives of Karlshamn community tonight to receive information from them. If they decide to rent out the port, we will need to take measures," Marinette Nyh Radebo, press secretary of Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist, said ahead of an official decision set to be announced on Tuesday.

Nyh Radebo said that any approval of the project would be accompanied by a strengthening of the coast guard, armed forces, customs, and tighter surveillance over the strategic Baltic port, which is located 50 km away from the key Karlskrona naval base.

The official was responding to a report disseminated by state-owned Swedish Radio, which claimed that the government had its concerns assuaged, noting there is already a significant volume of Russian maritime traffic at the port.


Turkish military withdrawing troops in Syrian al-Bab within a month

© Reuters/Khalil Ashawi
The ongoing Turkish military operation in the vicinity of the Syrian city of al-Bab may be concluded within a month due to a number of factors.

After returning from his African tour last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned that there's no need "to prolong and expand" the ongoing Turkish military operation in al-Bab.

Ismail Hakki Pekin, former chief of the Turkish General Staff Intelligence Department, told Sputnik Turkiye that this decision was made due to a number of factors: namely, the unwillingness of the Turkish military to clash with the Syrian armed forces advancing on al-Bab from the south, the peace talks in Astana, and US President Trump's call to establish safe zones on Syrian territory.

According to Pekin, the liberation of al-Bab and the subsequent withdrawal of the Turkish armed forces from the area may be accomplished within a month. He pointed out however that Turkey will likely maintain a small military presence in al-Bab region to ensure the safety of civilian personnel that Ankara will send there.

"When the al-Bab operation is brought to a close, some Turkish military units will have to remain there because otherwise all gains made during the offensive may be lost. Meanwhile, Syrian army forces are advancing towards al-Bab from the south, and Turkey obviously wants to avoid clashes with Syria. In theory, this situation may prompt Syria and Turkey to engage in direct talks, though a lot depends on whether these two forces will be able to coordinate their actions in al-Bab. At the very least, the Turkish military definitely does not want a direct conflict Syria," Pekin said.


Poroshenko wants urgent meeting of contact group over conflict escalation

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has tasked his aides with calling for the extraordinary session of the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine to discuss the situation near the town of Avdeevka, presidential administration deputy head Kostiantyn Yeliseyev said Monday.

Earlier in the day, water supply and power were reported to be cut in Avdeevka, located in Donetsk region.

"The president has just now ordered to call for the urgent session of the trilateral contact group in any format, including videoconferencing, to discuss the situation around [the town of] Avdeevka that is becoming critical," Yeliseyev said to the Ukrainian TV broadcaster Channel 5.

Comment: Kiev has escalated the conflict by violating the ceasefire and now wants a meeting with the contact group. Are things not going well?

Ukrainian military violate ceasefire in Lugansk Republic
Units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces over the past 24 hours four times opened fire on the militia's positions in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People's Republic (LPR), the republic's defense authority told LuganskInformCenter on Sunday.

"From Krymskoye they shelled Frunze and Novogrigorovka, using IFV weapons, mortars and small arms," the agency quoted the authority.

Under fire were also Kalinovo and Kalinovka, the source added.


Trumped up claim? 'We cut $600 million from F-35 program'

© Flickr/ Lockheed Martin
"We cut approximately $600 million off the F-35 fighter," US President Donald Trump said Monday at the White House, adding that it "only amounts to 90 planes," referring to the tenth and largest order of the costly jets.

"I think it was a great achievement," Trump said. "But that really means much more than that if you think about the fact that that's 90 planes out of close to 3,000 planes that are being ordered." Trump commended Lockheed Martin and its CEO, Marillyn Hewson, "for being so responsive" in reducing the costs, adding that the US government will save "billions, and billions, and billions, of dollars."

After seven years of cost overruns, "we've really, really got that program in good shape," he said. It marked a 180-degree reversal from a news conference earlier in January in which Trump blasted the F-35 program as "way, way behind schedule and many, many billions of dollars over budget," especially since he has only been President for ten days.

Airplane Paper

Lavrov says 'safe zones' in Syria possible, as long as Damascus agrees

© AP
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meeting in Moscow Jan. 16, 2017.
Russia may support the US initiative to establish so-called 'safe zones' for refugees in Syria, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. The plan would require close cooperation with the UN and approval from Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, he added.

Lavrov said the American proposal to create secure areas for refugees within Syria was put forward in the context of migrant flows to the neighboring countries, the Middle East, as well as Europe, and "at the end of the day, the US."

"If this is about the people who were forced to leave their homes by the conflict, [...] getting their basic needs covered, [...] then I think that the idea to create areas within Syria for those internally displaced could be discussed with the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees and other organizations," he said.

Though promising, the proposal would require negotiations with Damascus to agree on the principles of creating such safe zones on Syrian territory, Lavrov added.

Comment: Many in the alt media seem to have lost the plot on this one. There's nothing inherently wrong with a no-fly/safe zone. The reasons it was such a big deal when Clinton proposed it were the following:
  • for her, a no-fly zone means a zone where no one can fly except American bombers, who then drop bombs (as in Libya)
  • for her, a safe zone meant a place to keep terrorists where they cannot be harmed, who will eventually take power
  • for her, a safe zone would be a declaration of war on Russia, and requires the destruction of the target country's anti-air defense systems (because such a safe zone is to be implemented unilaterally and against the government in question)
That's obviously not what Trump is proposing, as Lavrov pointed out above. The Syrian government would have nothing wrong with a real safe/no-fly zone, as long as they agreed to it and it did what it was supposed to. Also consider this bit of rumor about Tulsi Gabbard's recent trip to Syria, and the messages she is said to have delivered to Assad:
The second message has to do with Trump's willingness to help the Syrian government to control the out-flux of refugees by establishing a "safe zone" for Syrians in areas controlled by either the Syrian Army or the Russian Air Force. I have been informed that Dr. Assad has accepted this kind of benign interference as long as it was coordinated with the Syrian government.

The third message she carried to Dr. Assad was that the U.S. is intent upon wiping out every vestige of ISIS and Alqaeda, and, that it would do so in coordination with Russia and the Syrian government.


Are Dutch investigators incompetent or attempting to protract MH17 probe?

© Michael Kooren/Reuters
Wreckage of MH17
If Dutch investigators couldn't decipher data from Russia, they could have asked for help, says military expert Aleksandr Tazekhulakhov. The problem here is that the Dutch have attempted to keep Russian representatives out of the MH17 probe, he adds.

Dutch investigators reportedly said they can't read the radar images received from Russia in October as part of the investigation into the crash of flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

A spokesman for the Dutch prosecutor's office claimed the format of the data was not up to international standards and further information is needed to understand the images. "The Dutch prosecutor's office requested information they needed for the investigations - and we gave it to them," says Major General Aleksandr Tazekhulakhov, the former deputy head of the Russian Army Air Defense.

"Just let me remind you how it all happened. In July 2014, a few days after the tragedy, Russia sent the Netherlands the necessary video data. Why? Objective monitoring procedures stipulate that radar screens must be recorded on photo and video. But the Dutch prosecutor's office told us back then that that kind of data can be tampered with and requested for information in another format. There is no other internationally acknowledged and officially accepted format. Russia then gave the data taken directly from the radar station computer, and it cannot be falsified, changed or altered in any way," he told RT.

Comment: See also: