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Thu, 23 Feb 2017
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Import tax reform draws support and condemnation in business world

© Spencer Platt / Getty Images / AFP
A fully loaded cargo ship heads into New York Harbor.
Top executives from 16 major companies joined together in a letter to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, strongly recommending tax reforms and a controversial border tax to stimulate growth for US companies and taxpayers.

Calling themselves the "American Made Coalition," CEOs from some of the US's largest companies, including Boeing, Dow Chemical, General Electric and Pfizer sent a letter Tuesday to endorse tax reforms that President Donald Trump campaigned on during the 2016 election.

The group calls for lowering the business tax rate, which they claim is the highest in the world. They say these changes would encourage businesses to invest in the US and help protect jobs from "unfair foreign competition."

Proposed tax reforms from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) includes a border adjustment tax, which would impose a 20 percent tax on all imports, while making all exports tax free.


Remembering Ambassador Vitaly Churkin: The face of new Russia & its diplomacy

© imago stock&people / www.globallookpress.com
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin
Working at a United Nations mission in New York differs a lot from any embassy. Especially when it's the mission of a permanent member of the Security Council.

With the war in Iraq, intervention in Libya, and crises in Syria and Ukraine the last ten years when Vitaly Churkin represented Russia at the UN have undoubtedly been the busiest and most strenuous. On all these issues there were serious differences between the major powers, which required multilateral diplomacy. On many occasions there were non-stop, marathon sessions looking to reach a consensus, and find some common ground as a basis for international action.

All of it required an experienced diplomat and a bright personality at the head of our mission, which Vitaly Churkin was. Of course, he acted on instructions from Moscow, but he defended Russia's position with intelligence and eloquence that gained him respect, even if sometimes it wasn't enough to bridge the differences. This is made abundantly clear by the international response to his passing, including from his colleagues in New York.

Comment: Russian FM Lavrov also shared his thoughts on Churkin:
Remembering their decades of friendship and shared diplomatic service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has spoken of how he "walked through life side by side" with the late Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin, who died on Monday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry's official Facebook account shared Lavrov's emotional post dedicated to his "colleague and friend."

Saying that Churkin "passed away in the line of duty, just several hours before his 65th birthday, Moscow time," Lavrov remembered how Churkin had celebrated his 42nd birthday in the early 1990s. It was in Sarajevo, "where snipers did their work on a daily basis," Lavrov wrote.

The two diplomats were appointed as deputy foreign ministers "simultaneously" in the spring of 1992, Lavrov wrote, explaining that he was in charge of work at the UN back then, while Churkin was serving in the Balkans.

Praising the late diplomat's efforts to settle the crisis in the former Yugoslavia, Lavrov shared a poem he wrote for Churkin in 1994.
The important thing for a diplomat, Lavrov added, is "the ability to advocate the interests of one's country, without falling into unrestrained confrontation, looking for possibilities to unite efforts, based on the balance of interests.

"The best way to pay respect to our friend will be to continue working on creating the basis for a calmer, safer, more democratic world," the Russian foreign minister went on to say.
More coverage on Churkin's sudden passing: Update (Feb. 22): The White House released a statement from Trump on Churkin's passing

And UN Ambassador Nikki Haley:

Sec. of State Tillerson spoke with FM Lavrov by phone. The Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement on the call:
"On behalf of the US leadership, the Secretary expressed his deep condolences on the unexpected death of Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN, Amb. Vitaly Churkin, who was well known to many Americans," the statement reads. "An exchange of opinions on relevant international issues and issues concerning the bilateral agenda also took place," the statement concludes.


Trump's new National Security Advisor General McMaster has a history of being a parrot for US global empire

© Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
It was recently announced that US President Donald Trump selected US Army Lieutenant General Herbert Raymond McMaster as his National Security Adviser.

The New York Times in their article, "Trump Chooses H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser," would report:
President Trump appointed Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster as his new national security adviser on Monday, picking a widely respected military strategist known for challenging conventional thinking and helping to turn around the Iraq war in its darkest days.
In reality, what President Trump has done, is select a man who will bring very little of his own thoughts with him to the position. Instead, he will - verbatim - repeat the talking points, reflect the agenda of, and serve the interests driving the collection of corporate-financier funded think tanks that devise - and have devised for decades - US-European foreign policy.

Comment: Also see Alexander Mercouris' take on McMaster, which is quite different from Cartalucci's view:

Trump's nomination of McMaster for National Security Adviser reflects his priorities of downgrading NATO and detente with Russia

Light Saber

Lavrov says Moscow waiting for Washington to provide 'details' on proposed safe zones in Syria

© Bassam Khabieh / Reuters
Eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria February 12, 2017
Moscow is waiting for Washington to lay out the details of how it intends to establish safe zones in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, adding that the proposal must also be agreed upon by the Syrian government.

Lavrov said the issue was raised last week during his conversation with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Bonn, Germany.

"The US side informed us that this concept (safe zones) is currently in development," the top diplomat said, adding that Moscow "will wait for further details" from Washington.

The minister said that Russia is ready to consider the proposal, as well as any others the US may have on cooperation in Syria, expressing hope that Washington is now really interested in working with Moscow to settle the conflict.

"Such initiatives should take into account the real situation on the ground in Syria, where many players are working with their ground forces and in Syrian airspace," he stressed.

Comment: See also:

Snakes in Suits

Fake human rights group Amnesty slams Trump's poisonous rhetoric and rise of populism

© Randall Hill / Reuters
US President Donald Trump has been lambasted in Amnesty International's annual report. The NGO slammed Trump's "poisonous" election campaign and called the US vote one of the seismic political events of the past year.

"Donald Trump's poisonous campaign rhetoric exemplifies a global trend towards angrier and more divisive politics," the annual report on human rights from Amnesty International said.

Comment: The reality is people are angry at our so-called leaders, considering all the horrible things that Western leaders have done to people around the world. All Trump is doing is tapping into that anger and promising to do something different. That is probably poisonous to imperial stooges like Amnesty, but it's welcome for the vast majority of the public.

Amnesty states that Trump's election as president was "the most prominent of many seismic events" on the political stage in 2016.

"His [Trump's] election followed a campaign during which he frequently made deeply divisive statements marked by misogyny and xenophobia, and pledged to roll back established civil liberties and introduce policies which would be profoundly inimical to human rights."


Rogue Democrat staffers under investigation - took $100K from Iraqi 'politician', had access to sensitive intel

© Oliver/ZUMA Press/Splash News/Newscom
Several congressional staffers took $100,000 from an Iraqi politician while they had administrator-level access to the House of Representatives’ computer network.
Rogue congressional staffers took $100,000 from an Iraqi politician while they had administrator-level access to the House of Representatives' computer network, according to court documents examined by The Daily Caller News Foundation's Investigative Group.

The money was a loan from Dr. Ali al-Attar, an Iraqi political figure, and was funneled through a company with "impossible"-to-decipher financial transactions that the congressional information technology staffers controlled.

Imran Awan, ringleader of the group that includes his brothers Abid and Jamal, has provided IT services since 2005 for Florida Democrat Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman. The brothers are from Pakistan.

The trio also worked for dozens of other House Democrats, including members of the intelligence, foreign affairs, and homeland security committees. Those positions likely gave them access to congressional emails and other sensitive documents.

Comment: Mad World News' Rebecca Diserio points out that the Awans were fired shortly after the Navy SEAL Team Six mission in which William "Ryan" Owen was killed in Yemen. She writes:
With these three Muslim brothers having access to the secret documents about the operation and with government officials stating that al-Qaeda knew the SEAL's were coming, well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to connect the dots. The firing of the Awan brothers is linked to the Yemen raid where al-Qaeda knew we were coming, andit tragically ended with Navy SEAL Owens being killed in action.

The House Oversight Committee (pictured) is part of the deepest oversight network with responsibility for the most sensitive and secretive government intelligence, including covert anti-terrorism activity. The Awan brothers had access to everything this committee worked on, including the Yemen operation.

Capt. Joseph R. John, USN (Ret), the Chairman of Combat Veterans for Congress PAC, has written warnings about Obama appointing Muslim Brotherhood spies throughout our government, and at this point, most of them are still in their positions. Captain John wrote, "Members of the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR, and MPAC have sinister goals that are not in support of the US Constitution or The Bill of Rights. They have become a very dangerous 'Fifth Column' in the United States, appointed by Obama to very high and sensitive positions in the US Government agencies."

He went on to write, "For nearly 8 years Obama has been filling the Washington bureaucracy including DHS, the CIA, DOD, the National Security Council, the White House, the State Department, every US Intelligence Agency, and the US Armed Forces with thousands of members of the CAIR, MPAC, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other Muslim Brotherhood front groups."


House Intel Committee member has extensive ties to Muslim Brotherhood

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently appointed Rep. André Carson (D-IN) to a coveted position on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. This panel is charged with oversight of the United States' most sensitive national intelligence capabilities and operations. These include any directed at Islamic supremacists seeking to impose worldwide - through violent and, where necessary, through stealthy forms of jihad - the totalitarian program they call shariah.

Preeminent among the practitioners of this jihadist agenda is the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, according to evidence introduced by the U.S. government into the Holy Land Foundation trial in 2008, the Brotherhood's self-declared mission in America is: "a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands [i.e., those of non-Muslims] and those of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions." (From the 1991 Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America, Government Exhibit 003-0085, 3:04-CR-240-G.)

Comment: The Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Russia. Here's how Russian lawmakers describe them:
Muslim Brotherhood is an organisation, basing its activities on the ideas of its theorists and leaders Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb with an aim of destruction of non-Islamic governments and the establishment of the worldwide Islamic government by the reconstruction of the "Great Islamic Caliphate"; firstly, in regions with majority of Muslim population, including those in Russia and CIS countries. The organisation is illegal in some Middle East countries (Syria, Jordan). The main forms of activities are warlike Islamism propaganda with intolerance to other religions, recruitment in mosques, armed Jihad without territorial boundaries.

Comment: Carson's office employed some very shady "IT workers" who are now the subjects of an investigation:
Rogue Democrat staffers under investigation - took $100K from Iraqi 'politician', had access to sensitive intel

Red Flag

Russophobia in the West reaches psychotic phase

© Sputnik/ Grigoriy Sisoev
Western irrational fear of Russia - Russophobia - is no longer a random prejudice. It has become endemic pathological thinking among Western states.

Divorced from reality this mindset has become psychotic.

Western politicians, military leaders and corporate news media increasingly blame Russia for all manner of perceived transgressions. Whether it is alleged interference in national elections or alleged aggressive military maneuvers, the unremitting demonizing of Russia is astonishing.

It is all the more astounding because the anti-Russia accusations are leveled with such high-handedness and yet with so little evidence to support.

Star of David

Trump-Netanyahu: When one state is better than two

© Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the United States last week, to meet with new President Donald Trump, was overshadowed by other events, not least the resignation of National Security Advisor General Mike Flynn.

That's a pity, as despite the rather negative headlines, Trump's shifting of the US position on the so-called 'Two State Solution' could actually turn out to be good news for those who want to see peace and progress in the Middle East.

"I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like," Trump said at a joint news conference with Netanyahu on February 15.


US commander wants more boots: Troops may be sent to Syria

© Lucas Jackson / Reuters
More US troops may be needed in Syria to speed up the campaign against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), the top commander for the Middle East has stated, specifically referring to the push to liberate Raqqa.

"I am very concerned about maintaining momentum," General Joseph L. Votel, the head of the United States Central Command, told reporters, as quoted by CBS News.

He said local forces being supported by the US "don't have as good mobility, they don't have as much firepower, so we have to be prepared to fill in some of those gaps for them," noting that such support may involve additional fire support capability and "a variety of other things" to help "offset some of the gaps."

"It could be that we take on a larger burden ourselves," he said. "That's an option."