TBR News February 25, 2017

Feb 25 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. February 25, 2017: “President Trump makes statements of intent and if they are too extreme, he always makes reasonable modifications. He is obvious flexible, something the controlled media does not wish to discuss. Because of a constant drumfire of negativity against him in the media, Trump holds conferences and disinvites his most outrageous detractors. This, of course, drives them into a fury and they pour out their anger in columns that sound as if they came from the back wards of mental institutions, places where inmates are only allowed to write with crayons. And some of the media insist that Hillary got a three million vote lead over Trump. Like other accusations, this figure was made up in some boardroom and has no connection with reality. If the country is fortunate, Hillary’s next run will be to the Canadian border.”

Table of Contents

  • ‘US held hostage for too long, Trump right to bar MSM from White House gaggle’
  • Fox News Interview With Fake Expert on Sweden Further Baffles Swedes
  • Hitler phone a fake: German phone expert
  • US govt agency to award contracts for construction of US-Mexico wall by mid-April
  • Iraqi forces push deeper into western Mosul as civilians flee
  • The Increasingly Unhinged Russia Rhetoric Comes From a Long-Standing U.S. Playbook
  • In First, Trump Says He ‘Likes’ Two-state Solution for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
  • Canadians fear rising xenophobia, hate crimes in wake of mosque attack
  • Trump cuts US debt by $12bn in his first month in office, accuses media of ‘not reporting’ it
  • Trump asks NASA to explore putting crew on rocket’s debut
  • US to Supply Mercenary “Contractors” with Deadly Laser Weapons: “Zap…You’re Blind Buddy.”
  • The United States of Permanent War
  • In sweeping move, Trump puts regulation monitors in U.S. agencies

‘US held hostage for too long, Trump right to bar MSM from White House gaggle’

February 25, 2017


Many Americans are secretly loving the Trump administration’s media offensive, because for the longest time these organizations, they believe, have held a monopoly with their haughty attitude that they know better, says political commentator Lionel.

In the latest clash between the Trump administration and the media, several Western news outlets were barred from Friday’s off-camera Q&A session with White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

Outlets denied entry to the “gaggle” included the New York Times, Politico, CNN, the Guardian, BuzzFeed, among others. However, Trump-friendly conservative publications, such as Breitbart News, the One America News Network, and the Washington Times, were granted admission, as well as TV networks ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox News.

RT: We’re hearing two different versions here. The media say they were barred, but the White House says it didn’t block anyone. And that it was a different type of briefing – off camera, and held at the press secretary’s office. Who do you think is telling the truth?

Lionel: Nobody cares! Nobody cares! The mainstream media – the “lamestream” media, the alt-left, anti-Trump, fake news media, the media who has a lower respectability rating, below lawyers and used cars salesmen – everybody is secretly loving this, because for the longest time the American public has been held hostage by these people, who’ve had a monopoly with this haughty, hubristic attitude that they know better. Let everyone around the world know this. You have no idea: the 24/7 incessant drumbeat of everything that is anti-Trump. Look, I am not standing up for the man. I didn’t vote for the man, I am not here to push his agenda, I am telling you the facts. Everything about Trump: his family, his daughter, his sons, his hands, his color of skin, his wife, her perfume lines, her shoes, everything… “He is crazy, his hair, he walks around in a bathrobe…” There is not one story, not one story that any news editor said: “Oh, I am sorry, but this is too cheap. This is too low a blow. No, we can’t print this.” Nonsense! It has reached critical mass. There are many people, myself included, who love this, because we, the American people, have been held hostage…

CNN, for example, is 24/7. Not that they don’t like the president’s policies, they hate him. They revile him; they loathe him. And it’s not even tempered; it’s not hidden; it’s not camouflaged. It is so personal… I mean this is across the board. Do you know that it’s so bad that it’s even seeped down into interpersonal relationships? There are those who don’t talk to me because they think – God forbid – I am a Trump supporter. There are people on Facebook. This country is going crazy. There are families that haven’t spoken; there are divorces.

RT: Last week Trump branded several media outlets as “enemies of the American people.” Is that kind of language dangerous?

L: No. Somebody may say: “Do you think amputation is a bit extreme? Yes, but sometimes it is necessary.” Do you know how they are still pushing the “Russia stole the election” story? Do you know how long we have been doing this now? Do you know I am still waiting for somebody to tell me how Russia fixed the election, how Russia can tamper with the election? Nobody has explained it. It is like a myth, like Yeti, or the Sasquatch, or Loch Ness Monster. It’s this myth, this meme, this trope.


Fox News Interview With Fake Expert on Sweden Further Baffles Swedes

February 25 2017

by Robert Mackey

The Intercept

A man interviewed by Bill O’Reilly of Fox News this week, who was identified in an on-screen caption as a “Swedish Defense and National Security Advisor,” turns out to be entirely unknown in his native country, with no connections to either the nation’s defense or security services.

As the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported on Friday, Nils Bildt, who echoed President Donald Trump’s debunked claim that immigrants from Muslim majority nations had driven a rise in violent crime in Sweden, has no known expertise in national security, and has not lived in his homeland since 1994. Officials at the Swedish Defense Ministry and Foreign Office told the newspaper they have never heard of this “unknown Bildt.”

His only claim to fame appears to be the fact that his father, Sven Tolling, is “well know in Swedish equestrian circles,” according to Dagens Nyheter. How he came to be presented by Fox News as an expert in a segment broadcast on Thursday night remains a mystery — as does why he changed his name from Tolling to Bildt after he emigrated to the United States.

Nevertheless, when Bildt was asked by O’Reilly to respond to comments from Anne-Sofie Näslund, a U.S. correspondent for the newspaper Expressen who disputed the Fox News host’s claim that a recent rise in violent crime in Sweden was caused by an “influx” of refugees from Muslim nations, he confidently dismissed her fact-driven argument.

Bildt, whose adopted last name is the same as that of Sweden’s former prime minister, Carl Bildt, a relentless critic of Donald Trump, told Dagens Nyheter by email that he is “an independent analyst based in the USA.”

It was a Fox News producer, Nils Bildt said, who made the decision to give him the official-sounding title of Swedish Defense and National Security Advisor. “I had no personal control over what title they chose,” Bildt wrote.

Näslund, who had been forced to listen to Bildt dismiss her fact-based argument out of hand, pointed out on Twitter that the Swedish immigrant to the United States who claimed that immigrants to Sweden are violent, was reportedly arrested in Virginia for committing a violent crime in 2014.

In his remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, Trump reiterated his claim that immigration from Muslim-majority countries had compromised security in Sweden, even though the Fox News segment that he cited as evidence earlier in the week was widely debunked as inaccurate in the Swedish media.

Hitler phone a fake: German phone expert

A phone sold as one used by Hitler and billed as “arguably the most destructive ‘weapon’ of all time” has been called a con by a German expert. The authenticity of the phone’s lineage has sparked online debate.

September 25, 2017


The unnamed bidder who last week bought was what was said to have been Adolf Hitler’s phone for $243,000 (230,000 euros) may have been sold a fake, German media reported on Saturday.

“This is clearly a fake,” the Head of Collections at the Frankfurt Museum for Communication told the respected daily “Frankfurter Allgemeine.”

“The actual telephone was manufactured by Siemens & Halske, but the handset comes from an English telephone. It was never produced this way,” Frank Gnegel said. “It must have been assembled later in England”.

Gnegel presides over one of the most important collections of telephonic history in Europe.

The fact the phone and the Hitler emblem were painted red aroused further suspicions.

“Siemens would have built a proper example from dyed plastic, instead of unprofessionally painting over a black telephone,” Gnegel told the paper.

“Everything to do with Hitler was produced in a high-quality fashion; why should an engraving be simply be painted over? In addition, it is totally implausible that Hitler had a telephone with a rotary dial because he was always hand-connected in the telephone exchange.”

Phone enthusiasts skeptical

In response to incredulity about the device’s authenticity, the US auction house that sold the phone posted photos from inside the phone, but that just aroused further suspicion among online phone enthusiasts.

Dutch telephone restorer and blogger Arwin Schaddeleeraised several questions about its authenticity.

“The claim that this was a custom-made telephone by Siemens is contradicted by several clues on the telephone itself. Firstly it is marked W38. That is a designation used by the German post office. This indicates the telephone was originally supplied to them,” Schaddelee wrote.

“So if it was supplied to anyone else, it was not by Siemens but by the post office. If it was a custom telephone made by Siemens & Halske it would not, by definition, conform to the W38 specifications.

“Somebody found an interesting incomplete damaged phone, repaired it, painted it and cooked up a nice story to go with it,” he concluded.

An American phone enthusiast and head of the small non-profit The Telephone Museum, was similarly skeptical, pointing out several problems with the phone.

US govt agency to award contracts for construction of US-Mexico wall by mid-April

February 25, 2017


US Customs and Border Protection said it is planning to award contracts for President Donald Trump’s controversial wall along the US-Mexico border by mid-April. The two countries share a 3,200-kilometer border.

“The Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intends on issuing a solicitation in electronic format on or about March 6, 2017 for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico,” said a statement on the FedBizOpps.gov website for federal contractors.

СBP, the largest law enforcement agency in the Department of Homeland Security, is “charged with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the US while facilitating lawful international travel and trade,” according to the agency’s website.

“The procurement” will be conducted in two phases. The first will require vendors to “submit a concept paper of their prototype(s)” by March 10, 2017, “which will result in the evaluation and down select of offerors by March 20, 2017.” In the second phase, the department will select “phase 1 offerors to submit proposals in response to the full RFP by March 24, 2017, which will include the price,” the statement continued.

“Multiple awards are contemplated by mid-April for this effort. An option for additional miles may be included in each contract award,” it added, noting that the site of the project is yet “to be determined.”

On Friday, Donald Trump confirmed that Washington will build the wall.

“In fact, it’s going to start soon, way ahead of schedule…” he stated.

During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly stated that he would build a wall along the US-Mexico border to control immigration, even boasting that Mexico would be forced to pay for the entire project.

Following his inauguration, Trump signed an executive order on January 25 authorizing construction of the wall, saying afterwards that Mexico will pay for the costs of the construction “one way or another.”

Shortly afterwards, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto refuted the assertion and canceled a meeting with Trump that was to begin the following day in Washington, DC. In apparent retaliation, Trump quickly floated the idea of imposing a 20 percent tax on imported Mexican goods to pay for the structure.

Earlier in February, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said that the controversial wall will be finished within two years.

There will be a multi-layered approach to building the wall – with a physical wall and part of the wall “you can see through because it will rely on sensors and technology,” Kelly said.

An internal US Department of Homeland Security report seen by Reuters estimates that it will cost $21.6 billion and take more than three years to build the wall. During his presidential campaign Trump, however, spoke of $12-billion figure.

Trump’s plans have been met by activist protests, such as one in February when a ‘human wall’ consisting of over 800 students was formed along the border between Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas to denounce Trump’s alleged anti-Mexican rhetoric.

Iraqi forces push deeper into western Mosul as civilians flee

February 25, 2017

by Isabel Coles


MOSUL, Iraq-Iraqi forces pushed deeper into western Mosul on Saturday, advancing in several populated southern districts after punching through the defenses of Islamic State’s last major urban stronghold in Iraq a day earlier.

About 1,000 civilians walked across the frontlines, the largest movement since the new offensive launched last week to deal the ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim group a decisive blow.

In the capital Baghdad, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir met Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in the first such visit in more than a decade between Sunni Muslim-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite-led Iraq.

The new push in Mosul comes after government forces finished clearing Islamic State from the east of the city last month, confining the insurgents to the western sector across the Tigris river.

Commanders expect the battle there to be more difficult, in part because tanks and armored vehicles cannot pass through the narrow alleyways that crisscross ancient districts.

But Iraqi forces have so far made quick advances on multiple fronts, capturing the northern city’s airport on Thursday, which they plan to use as a support zone, and breaching a three-meter high berm and trench set up by Islamic State.

The advancing forces are less than three kilometers (two miles) from the mosque where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate spanning Iraq and Syria in 2014, sparking an international military campaign to defeat the group.

Losing Mosul would likely deal a hammer blow to the militants’ dream of statehood, but they still control territory in Syria and patches of northern and western Iraq from where they could fight a guerrilla-style insurgency in Iraq, and plot attacks on the West.

Federal police and an elite Interior Ministry unit known as Rapid Response have recaptured Hawi al-Josaq along the river and begun clearing the Tayyaran district north of the airport, said Brigadier General Hisham Abdul Kadhim.

Islamic State resisted with snipers and roadside bombs, he said. A Reuters correspondent saw two militants’ corpses outside a mosque in Josaq.


Counter-terrorism forces also pushed on two fronts toward Wadi Hajr and Mamoun districts, said Lieutenant General Abdelwahab al-Saadi, a senior commander.

“Clearing operations are ongoing and our forces have entered those areas,” he told Reuters on a hill overlooking the battle. Saadi said a suicide car bomb had been destroyed before reaching its target. The militants also launched mortars.

A Mamoun resident reached by phone said militant fighters had flooded the area in recent days while moving their families to relative safety in other districts.

Islamic State broadcast messages via mosque loudspeakers in some areas encouraging locals to resist the “infidels’ attack” while elsewhere they threatened to kill anyone who refused to retreat deeper into the city, according to several residents.

A woman forced to leave Wadi Hajr district said the militants had climbed to her roof and knocked holes in the walls in order to move undetected.

Several thousand militants, including many who traveled from Western countries to join up, are believed to be holed up in the city with practically nowhere to go, which could lead to a fierce standoff amid a population of 750,000.

Ziyad, a 16-year-old living in Hawi al-Josaq, told a Reuters correspondent he had seen foreign IS militants withdraw as Iraqi forces advanced, leaving only local fighters behind.

“They were really scared,” he said. “They were calling to each other and saying, ‘Let’s go’.”

Abu Laith, 49, said he overheard disagreements between local and foreign fighters.”(The locals) said, ‘Tomorrow you will withdraw and we will be under the hammer’. (The foreigners) said, ‘That’s your problem. We are not in charge, the order is from the caliph’.”

Iraq’s counter-terrorism service put a statement online last week offering leniency to local fighters who killed foreigners, though the legal framework for such a deal was unclear.

A police spokesman said a Russian member of Islamic State had been captured on Wednesday near Mosul airport.

The Iraqi campaign involves a 100,000-strong force of Iraqi troops, Shi’ite militias and Sunni tribal fighters backed by a U.S.-led coalition that provides vital air support as well as on-the-ground guidance and training.

Western advisors are increasingly present close to the frontline, helping coordinate air strikes and advising Iraqi forces as the battle unfolds.

Kurdish journalist Shifa Gardi was killed by a roadside bomb on Saturday while covering the battle.


About a thousand civilians, mostly women and children, walked out of southwestern parts of Mosul on Saturday and climbed into military trucks taking them to camps further south.

The United Nations says up to 400,000 people may have to leave their homes during the new offensive as food and fuel runs out in western Mosul. Aid groups warned on Friday that the most dangerous phase of the offensive was about to begin.

Some of the people fleeing Mamoun said they were originally from Hammam al-Alil, south of Mosul, but were forced to move as Islamic State retreated north into the city four months ago.

“They began shelling us arbitrarily, so we hid in the bathrooms. When the security forces came, they yelled to us so we fled to them,” said civilian Mahmoud Nawwaf.

The government is encouraging residents to stay in their homes whenever possible, as they did in eastern Mosul where fewer people fled than expected.

A Reuters correspondent near the airport saw nine families living in a house where residents with full beards served trays of tea to security forces. Some said Islamic State had forced them to move from Samarra, 250 km (160 miles) south of Mosul.

Abu Naba, 37, said he was surprised how quickly the militants had been driven out.

“We could hear their voices outside and 15 minutes later they were gone,” he said.

A woman with a baby wrapped in a blanket on her lap said she had given birth in the house 22 days ago because it was too dangerous to reach a hospital.

(Additional reporting by Reuters TV south of Mosul; writing by Stephen Kalin; editing by David Clarke and Ros Russell)


The Increasingly Unhinged Russia Rhetoric Comes From a Long-Standing U.S. Playbook

February 23 2017

by Glenn Greenwald

The Intercept

For aspiring journalists, historians, or politically engaged citizens, there are few more productive uses of one’s time than randomly reading through the newsletters of I.F. Stone, the intrepid and independent journalist of the Cold War era who became, in my view, the nation’s first “blogger” even though he died before the advent of the internet. Frustrated by big media’s oppressive corporatized environment and its pro-government propaganda model, and then ultimately blacklisted from mainstream media outlets for his objections to anti-Russia narratives, Stone created his own bi-monthly newsletter, sustained exclusively by subscriptions, and spent 18 years relentlessly debunking propaganda spewing from the U.S. government and its media partners.

What makes Stone’s body of work so valuable is not its illumination of history but rather its illumination of the present. What’s most striking about his newsletters is how little changes when it comes to U.S. government propaganda and militarism, and the role the U.S. media plays in sustaining it all. Indeed, reading through his reporting, one gets the impression that U.S. politics just endlessly replays the same debates, conflicts, and tactics.

Much of Stone’s writings, particularly throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s, focused on the techniques for keeping Americans in a high state of fear over the Kremlin. One passage, from August 1954, particularly resonates; Stone explained why it’s impossible to stop McCarthyism at home when — for purposes of sustaining U.S. war and militarism — Kremlin leaders are constantly being depicted as gravely threatening and even omnipotent. Other than the change in Moscow’s ideology — a change many of today’s most toxic McCarthyites explicitly deny — Stone’s observations could be written with equal accuracy today.

If Communists are some supernatural breed of men, led by diabolic master minds in that distant Kremlin, engaged in a Satanic conspiracy to take over the world and enslave all mankind — and this is the thesis endlessly propounded by American liberals and conservatives alike, echoed night and day by every radio station and in every newspaper — the thesis no American dare any longer challenge without himself becoming suspect — then how to fight McCarthy?

If the public mind is to be conditioned for war, if it is being taught to take for granted the destruction of millions of human beings, few of them tainted with this dreadful ideological virus, all of them indeed presumably pleading for us to liberate them, how can we argue that it matters if a few possibly innocent men lose jobs or reputations because of McCarthy?

Two vital points stand out here: 1) the key to sustaining fears over foreign adversaries is depicting them as all-powerful and ubiquitous; and 2) once that image takes root, few will be willing to question the propaganda for fear of being accused of siding with the Foreign Evil: “the thesis no American dare any longer challenge without himself becoming suspect.”

This tactic — depicting adversaries as omnipotent super-villains — was key to the war on terror. Radical Muslims were not just violent threats; they were uniquely menacing, like Bond-film bad guys.

When photos emerged showing how the U.S. government was transporting terror suspect Jose Padilla to his trial by placing blackened goggles and earphones over his face, one U.S. commentator justified it by explaining it was necessary to prevent him from “blinking in code” to his terrorist comrades to activate plots. When asked why terror suspects were bound and gagged for long intercontinental flights to Guantánamo, a U.S. military official said that these were “people who would chew through a hydraulic cable to bring a C-17 down.” They possessed powers of dark magic and were lurking everywhere, even when you couldn’t see them. That’s the reason to fear them so much that one submits to any claim and any policy in the name of crushing them.

Few foreign villains have been vested with omnipotence and ubiquity like Vladimir Putin has been — at least ever since Democrats discovered (what they mistakenly believed was) his political utility as a bogeyman. There are very few negative developments in the world that do not end up at some point being pinned to the Russian leader, and very few critics of the Democratic Party who are not, at some point, cast as Putin loyalists or Kremlin spies:

Putin — like al Qaeda terrorists and Soviet Communists before him — is everywhere. Russia is lurking behind all evils, most importantly — of course — Hillary Clinton’s defeat. And whoever questions any of that is revealing themselves to be a traitor, likely on Putin’s payroll.

As The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel put it on Tuesday in the Washington Post: “In the targeting of Trump, too many liberals have joined in fanning a neo-McCarthyite furor, working to discredit those who seek to deescalate U.S.-Russian tensions, and dismissing anyone expressing doubts about the charges of hacking or collusion as a Putin apologist. … What we don’t need is a replay of Cold War hysteria that cuts off debate, slanders skeptics and undermines any effort to explore areas of agreement with Russia in our own national interest.” That precisely echoes what Stone observed 62 years ago: Claims of Russian infiltration and ubiquity are “the thesis no American dare any longer challenge without himself becoming suspect” (Stone was not just cast as a Kremlin loyalist during his life but smeared as a Stalinist agent after he died).

I’ve written extensively about all this throughout the last year, as Russia Fever reached (what I hope is) its apex — or, more accurately, its nadir. I won’t repeat that all here.

But I do want to draw attention to an outstanding article in today’s Guardian by the Russian-born American journalist Keith Gessen, in which he clinically examines — and demolishes — all of the hysterical, ignorant, fearmongering, manipulative claims now predominant in U.S. discourse about Russia, Putin, and the Kremlin.

The article begins: “Vladimir Putin, you may have noticed, is everywhere.” As a result, he points out, “Putinology” — which he defines as “the production of commentary and analysis about Putin and his motivations, based on necessarily partial, incomplete and sometimes entirely false information” — is now in great prominence even though it “has existed as a distinct intellectual industry for over a decade.” In sum, he writes: “At no time in history have more people with less knowledge, and greater outrage, opined on the subject of Russia’s president.”

It’s hardly unique for American media and political commentators to speak of foreign adversaries with a mix of ignorance and paranoia. But the role Putin serves above all else, he says, is to cast America’s problems not as its own doing but rather the fault of foreigners, and more importantly, to relieve the Democratic Party of the need to examine its own fundamental flaws and errors:

According to a recent report, Hillary Clinton and her campaign still blame the Russians — and, by extension, Barack Obama, who did not make a big issue of the hacks before November — for her electoral debacle. In this instance, thinking about Putin helps not to think about everything else that went wrong, and what needs to be done to fix it.

But while petty self-exoneration may be the prime motive, the far greater danger is how much this obsession distracts from, and distorts, the pervasive corruption of America’s ruling class. As Gessen writes:

If Donald Trump is impeached and imprisoned for conspiring with a foreign power to undermine American democracy, I will celebrate as much as the next American. And yet in the long run, the Russia card is not just bad politics, it is intellectual and moral bankruptcy. It is an attempt to blame the deep and abiding problems of our country on a foreign power. As some commentators have pointed out, it is a page from the playbook of none other than Putin himself.

As Adam Johnson detailed in the Los Angeles Times last week, the constant effort to attribute Trump to foreign dynamics is devoted to avoiding the reality that U.S. policy and culture is what gave rise to him. Nothing achieves that goal better than continually attributing Trump — and every other negative outcome — to the secret work of Kremlin leaders.

The game that establishment Democrats and their allies are playing is not just tawdry but dangerous. The U.S. political, media, military, and intelligence classes are still full of people seeking confrontation with Russia; included among them are military officials whom Trump has appointed to key positions.

As Stone observed in the 1950s, aggression toward and fearmongering over the Kremlin on the one hand, and smearing domestic critics of that approach as disloyal on the other, are inextricably linked. When one takes root, it’s very difficult to stop the other. And you can only propagate demonization rhetoric about a foreign adversary for so long before triggering, wittingly or otherwise, very dangerous confrontations between the two.


In First, Trump Says He ‘Likes’ Two-state Solution for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Trump voices preference for two-state solution in Reuters interview, but adds: I ultimately like what the both parties like.

February 24, 2017


U.S. President Donald Trump for the first time as president expressed support for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Thursday, though he stopped short of a full-throated endorsement.

“No, I like the two-state solution,” Trump told Reuters when asked whether he had backed away from the concept during his joint White House appearance with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “But I ultimately like what the both parties like.”

“People have been talking about it for so many years now. It so far hasn’t worked,” he added. But he then repeated his revised position, saying: “I like this two-state solution, but I am satisfied with whatever both parties agree with.”

Trump has so far distanced his administration from the U.S.’s long-standing policy in favor of the two-state solution. During his first press conference with Netanyahu in Washington earlier this month, Trump declined to endorse the two-state solution, and didn’t rule out a one-state solution.

“So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said. “I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But honestly, if Bibi [Prime Minister Netanyahu] and if the Palestinians – if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”

In Israel, some right-wing politicians and pundits openly celebrated Trump’s words, and presented them as official death certificate of the two-state solution. Over the ocean in the U.S., the New York Times took Trump’s openness to a one-state solution as the main take-away from the press conference.

Others, however, saw this statement as simply stating that the terms of the peace deal will have to be negotiated by both parties, and the United States will not impose terms on the parties. It should be noted that the first American president to formally endorse a two-state solution was George W. Bush, who did it only in the year 2001. Bush, and Obama after him, defined that solution as a vital American interest. While some senior members of the Trump administration – such as Secretary of Defense James Mattis – agree with that characterization, Trump seems to think differently. For him, the vital interest is a peace agreement, preferably one that involves not just Israel and the Palestinians, but also other Arab states.

A day after Trump’s remarks at the joint press conference with Netanyahu, the U.S.’s envoy to the United Nations said the Trump administration still supports a two-state solution.

Speaking to a UN Security Council session on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Haley said: “We support the two-state solution, but we are thinking out-of-the-box as well.”


Canadians fear rising xenophobia, hate crimes in wake of mosque attack

Canada has seen a spike in suspected hate crimes since a fatal attack on a mosque in Quebec City. Experts now say rising xenophobia and divisive, political rhetoric is cause for concern

February 25, 2017

by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours


Toronto-For Muslim worshipers at the downtown Toronto mosque, the initial response was shock, as protesters rallied outside Masjid Toronto last Friday (February 17), carrying signs that read, “No to Islam,” and “Muslims are Terrorists.”

The incident struck at the heart of Canada’s most racially diverse city, and shook a community that is still reeling after a deadly attack on a mosque in Quebec City less than a month ago.

“You go into your place of worship, and you come out, having that sense of rejuvenation and having that spiritual element in your mind, and you’re greeted by this,” said Memona Hossain, national director of community engagement for the Muslim Association of Canada, which operates the mosque.

“It was definitely [a] shock,” Hossain told DW.

But the wider Toronto community quickly mobilized to hold a counter demonstration, and messages of support still line the mosque’s outer walls (photo, above). “Diversity is our strength,” reads one sign. “Love + Support for our Muslim brothers and sisters,” reads another.

“The anti-protest group that showed up was very reassuring for the community,” Hossain said. “I think that really helped calm and settle the waters.”

Islamophobia on the rise

But the rally is one of several recent incidents that have left Canadians concerned about a seeming rise of xenophobia across the country, and increasingly hostile rhetoric from a small but vocal segment of the population and political class.

Caroline de Kloet, a media relations officer for the Toronto Police Service, told DW that while various incidents “that appear to be motivated by hate” have come to the police’s attention in recent weeks, there does not appear to be a noticeable increase.

Police are investigating the rally, as well as another recent incident in which anti-Semitic notes were left on the doors of Jewish residents of a Toronto condo building.

“When these incidents are reported to police, they are investigated by divisional officers working in partnership with members of our Hate Crime Unit,” de Kloet said in an email, adding that community members should report incidents when they happen.

Recent events have been especially troubling as Muslim Canadians continue to grapple with the aftermath of anattack on the Islamic Cultural Center in Quebec City that killed six Muslim worshipers and injured more than a dozen others on January 29.

That attack was widely condemned as an act of terrorism, and thousands of Canadians joined vigils and rallies in support of the victims and their families, and the wider Muslim community.

But while hate crimes were down in Canada between 2012 and 2014, the most recent period for which the data is available, hate crimes targeting Muslims more than doubled in that same period, according to Statistics Canada.

Last year, a pig’s head was left outside the Quebec City mosque where last month’s attack took place, and a mosque in Peterborough, Ontario, was firebombed just after the 2015 federal election.

Muslim women have also been cursed, spat on and assaulted in various incidents across the country.

In recent weeks, two mosques in Montreal have had their windows smashed in, and at least two dozen suspected hate crimes were reported, according to city police.

“With the last federal election, with the arrival of Syrian refugees, there has been a growth of xenophobic, anti-immigrant sentiment, and that’s been intersecting with anti-Muslim sentiment,” said Amira Elghawaby, spokesperson for the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), an advocacy group that tracks hate incidents.

Canada has resettled more than 40,000 Syrian refugees since November 2015.

But a new Angus Reid Institute survey found that 41 percent of Canadians thought the government had taken in too many refugees and should close the door.

One in four people surveyed also said Canada should have adopted the same policy as US President Donald Trump, and enacted a temporary ban on Syrian refugees.

Backlash over motion to condemn racism

According to Elghawaby, it is crucial that Canadian leaders come forward to reinforce “that Canadian Muslims are part of the Canadian fabric … and that we are going to confront hatred together, whatever community is being targeted.”

But a recent parliamentary motion that seeks to condemn Islamophobia in Canada has seemingly done the opposite, rattling right-wing and anti-Islam activists, and conservative politicians and media columnists alike.

Motion 103 calls on the federal government to “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear” and condemn all forms of systemic racism and religious-based discrimination, including Islamophobia.

The non-binding motion also instructs Ottawa to establish a committee to investigate systemic racism and track hate crimes.

Right-wing groups say it is an attack on freedom of speech, and some have even gone so far as to say it signals the first step towards establishing sharia, Islamic law, in Canada.

Proponents have rejected those allegations as baseless, and the motion has the backing of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, as well as the left-leaning New Democratic Party.

But that hasn’t quelled the debate – or rising tensions.

Iqra Khalid, the parliament member who sponsored the motion, has reported being inundated with messages of hate and threats this month. And four leading politicians, all vying for the Conservative Party leadership, spoke at an event in Toronto organized by the Rebel, Canada’s version of far-right website Breitbart, to denounce it.

“I think it’s very disappointing that once again we’re seeing Canadian Muslims being used as a wedge issue, as a way to score political points,” Elghawaby said.

‘New chapter’ for Canada

Canadian politicians have used incendiary rhetoric before.

Canada’s former prime minister, Stephen Harper, made banning women from wearing a niqab, a full face veil, during citizenship ceremonies a pillar of his 2015 election campaign, even though very few women in Canada actually wear a niqab. His party also suggested creating a tip line to call in “barbaric cultural practices,” a move that was criticized as an attempt to intimidate Muslim immigrants and other newcomers.

But this is “a new chapter” for Canada, according to Barbara Perry, an expert on right-wing extremist movements and hate crimes at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

Perry said that far-right movements in Canada appear to be emboldened by global trends, and by Trump’s rhetoric and policies south of the border, and she has noted more activity by right-wing groups online since the Quebec City mosque was attacked.

“Maybe that’s one of the problems, that we continue to say, ‘That can’t happen here. That can’t happen here,’ and sort of bury our heads in the sand,” Perry said.

“The impact was muted when it was a European thing: It wasn’t part of a North American trajectory or pattern, and now it very much is … It’s much harder I think to ignore.”

Trump cuts US debt by $12bn in his first month in office, accuses media of ‘not reporting’ it

February 25, 2017


The US President Donald Trump has tweeted that he managed to decrease the US total public debt by US$ 12 billion during his first month in office while the former President Barack Obama increased it by US$200 billion over the same period.

Trump has also accused the media of turning the blind eye to this fact.

“The media has not reported that the National Debt in my first month went down by $12 billion vs a $200 billion increase in Obama first mo,” he said in his Twitter post.

He then added that he has “great optimism for future of the US business and jobs” and promised “big tax and regulation cuts.”

The figures presented by Trump coincide with the data issued by the US Treasury Department, according to which, on January 20th, the day of Trump’s inauguration, the overall US debt stood at $19,947 billion. On February 21st, a month later, the total US debt load amounted to $19,935 billion.

Moreover, between February 22 and February 23, the US debt fell by further $ 22 billion from $ 19,935 billion to $ 19,913 billion.

The US public debt really grew by more than US$ 200 billion from US$ 10,626 billion to US$ 10,838 billion in Obama’s first month in office, according to the US Treasury data.

According to the website USdebtclock.org, which tracks how much the US debt grows in real time, the debt had grown by $ 9 trillion or by 86 percent from $ 10.7 trillion to $ 19.6 trillion during Obama’s two terms in office, hitting a record high.

The largest budget item is Medicare/Medicaid which has seen over $1.1 trillion added to US debt. Social Security accounted for $900 billion, while $585 billion was spent on defense and war.

However, the New York Times reported in 2009 that Obama banned four accounting gimmicks that President George W. Bush used to make deficit projections look smaller. This decision led to a situation, in which the spending seemed to grow to a larger degree previously.

Trump’s statements come just a day after the Council on Foreign Relations predicted that “Trump’s policies would be likely to significantly widen the budget deficit.”

In November 2016, after the US elections, the Tax Policy Center (TPC) also said that the federal debt would rise by $7.2 trillion n ten years and by $20.9 trillion by 2036.

Trump vowed to reduce the US debt and to eliminate deficit spending during his presidential campaign. On Wednesday, he once again addressed this issue and pledged to make Washington stop wasting taxpayers’ money.

The finances of our country are a mess, but we’re going to clean them up,” the president said, adding that “we won’t let your money be wasted anymore.”

“We must do a lot more with less,” he said.

Trump asks NASA to explore putting crew on rocket’s debut

February 24, 2017

by Irene Klotz


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. The Trump administration has directed NASA to study whether it is feasible to fly astronauts on the debut flight of the agency’s heavy-lift rocket, a mission currently planned to be unmanned and targeted to launch in late 2018, officials said on Friday.

The study marks President Donald Trump’s first step in shaping a vision for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Under former President Barack Obama, the U.S. space agency was working on the heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket and Orion deep-space capsule with the aim of sending astronauts to rendezvous with an asteroid in the mid-2020s, followed by a human expedition to Mars in the 2030s.

The request for the study from the new Republican president’s administration tweaks that plan by exploring whether to add a crew to an earlier test flight and perhaps setting the stage for a human return to the moon.

NASA officials said they do not feel compelled to fly the test mission with crew aboard, Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s head of human space flight, told reporters on a conference call.

“There’s not pressure to go do this,” Gerstenmaier said. “I find it encouraging that we were asked to go do this feasibility study.”

The study is expected to take about a month. Engineers are assessing hardware changes, schedule delays, additional costs and increased risks of flying a two-member crew on the first flight of the Space Launch System rocket, which is about four times bigger and more powerful than any current U.S. booster.

A NASA safety oversight panel on Thursday cautioned that the agency should have compelling reasons for adding crew to justify the extra cost, risk to human life and schedule delays.

“If the benefits warrant assumption of additional risk, we expect NASA to clearly and openly articulate their decision-processing rationale,” Patricia Sanders, head of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, said at a meeting at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

If approved, the astronauts would fly aboard an Orion capsule, under development by Lockheed Martin Corp, and swing around the moon during an eight- to nine-day mission, similar to what the Apollo 8 crew accomplished in 1968.

Gerstenmaier said adding crew to the mission would not be worthwhile if it forced the flight to be delayed more than about a year.

The rocket’s second flight, which is to include crew, is targeted for August 2021. The study will explore what would be gained technically by having a crew aboard sooner.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Leslie Adler and Bill Rigby)

US to Supply Mercenary “Contractors” with Deadly Laser Weapons: “Zap…You’re Blind Buddy.”

April 8, 2004

by Brendon Shallat


Sources inside the Pentagon have confirmed that LDS or Laser Dazzle Sight weapons, now under manufacture in New Hampshire and Florida, have been shipped to Iraq for exclusive use by the mercenary units of Blackwater, Inc. a South Carolina-based private militia now under contract to the American government.

These weapons are designed solely to permanently blind opponents by destroying their optic nerves. First developed by the British in 1990 by the British Ministry of Defense, Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE) in conjunction with the Admiralty Research Establishment, these weapons were initially installed on ships of the Royal Navy.

They are called ‘Low energy laser weapons with an anti-eye capability,’

The United States military worked on a similar program in 1982 identified in military reports as a “battlefield antisensor close-combat laser assault weapon” called C-CLAW. This was a combination of two lasers which could operate together at three different wavelengths. )ne of the lasers was a 1-kilowatt pulsed CO2 device using a high pulse repetition frequency and a wavelength of 10,600 nanometers. The other was a Nd:YAG laser that could be used either at 1,060 nanometers or frequency doubled at 530 nanometers.

This program was officially cancelled in 1983 because of the high costs and excessive weight of the weapon. Information on this project had leaked to the media and the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army officially dropped the project as a result of public objections.

This project was restarted under the title STINGRAY which is an optical and electro-optical LEL weapon designed to blind the enemy forces facing it and was designed for mounting on the Bradley MW Infantry Fighting Vehicle but also was intended for mounting on attack helicopters.

The STINGRAY program is sponsored by the U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command (CECOM) and is contracted by Martin Marietta Electronics Systems in Orlando, Florida.

An evaluation by the Department of Defense in 2003 states that “when the power level is increased and beam is narrowed to concentrate its energy on an enemy soldier it can do tremendous damage, and has the potential to damage, permanently, the eyes of enemy soldiers, both temporarily and permanently. It is estimated that many, if not all, of the targets can be injured in such a way that will render them legally blind for the rest of their lives.”

The U.S. Army also has another STINGRAY-related LEL designed for attack helicopters called the CAMEO BLUEJAY. This is a lighter version of STINGRAY and is designed to be mounted on an Apache attack helicopter.

Another U.S. Army laser weapon is called DAZER and is a frequency-agile LEL portable anti-eye laser weapon that uses an alexandrite laser designed as “a man-portable laser device for use by infantry to provide a soft kill against personnel.” This system is under the control of U.S. Army’s Missile Command (MICOM) and is built by the Allied Corporation’s Military Laser Products Division of Westlake, California.

Because of public knowledge, albeit highly restricted in scope, of these laser-blinding weapons, serious questions of violations of international law have arisen and the Clinton Administration officially banned their use. The weapons continued to be built and the present Administration has permitted their release for use against what are now termed “massive and dangerous armed mobs of Islamic fanatics” in occupied Iraq.

Because of potential international objections to the use of these weapons and probable legal objections, it has been determined, according to Pentagon sources, that these weapons would be issued, or “loaned pending return” to U.S. Army custody and control, to the mercenary units of the Blackwater Company now performing both guard duty for top American officials in Iraq as well as “off-the-books” search and destroy missions directed against Iraqi civilian personnel.

The phrase ‘plausible deniability’ is now being used by Pentagon sources concerning the use by mercenary units of these weapons. Members of these units who might be identified as participating in these “off-the-books” actions can be officially distanced and returned to the United States and not identified.


The United States of Permanent War

February 25, 2017

by Edward Hunt,


As the foreign policy establishment continues to grapple with the consequences of Trump’s election, U.S. officials can still agree on one thing. The United States is a nation that is waging a permanent war.

In December 2016, President Obama reflected on the development in a speech that he delivered to US soldiers at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. “By the time I took office, the United States had been at war for seven years,” Obama said. By continuing that war, “I will become the first president of the United States to serve two full terms during a time of war.”

Notably, Obama did not issue his remarks to criticize the United States. He only made his point to note that Congress had never provided him with authority to perpetuate the wars of the Bush administration. “Right now, we are waging war under authorities provided by Congress over 15 years ago – 15 years ago,” Obama said. Consequently, he wanted Congress to craft new legislation that made it appear as if it had not permitted the United States to remain at war forever. “Democracies should not operate in a state of permanently authorized war,” Obama said.

The Bush Plan

Regardless of what Obama really felt about the matter, the Bush administration had always intended for the United States to wage a permanent war. In the days after 9/11, President Bush provided the guiding vision when he announced in a speech to the nation that the United States would be fighting an indefinite global war on terror. “Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes,” Bush explained. “Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen.”

The following year, Director of Policy Planning Richard Haass provided additional confirmation of the administration’s intentions. “There can be no exit strategy in the war against terrorism,” Haass declared. “It is a war that will persist.” In other words, Haass announced that the United States would remain at war against terrorism forever. “There is unlikely to be an Antietam, a decisive battle in this war,” Haass stated. “An exit strategy, therefore, will do us no good. What we need is an endurance strategy.”

As US officials developed their endurance strategy, they also settled on a few guiding principles. For starters, US officials determined that they would have to maintain some kind of permanent presence in Afghanistan. “We’re not leaving Afghanistan prematurely,” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates remarked during the early years of the Obama administration. “In fact, we’re not ever leaving at all.”

More recently, a number of officials in the Obama administration articulated a similar principle for the Middle East. In October 2016, for example, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper noted that the United States would remain in the region well into the future. Even if the Islamic State is defeated, “it is probably not going to go away, and it’ll morph into something else or other similar extremist groups will be spawned,” Clapper said. “And I believe we’re going to be in the business of suppressing these extremist movements for a long time to come.”

This past December, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter made a similar point, arguing that coalition forces “must be ready for anything” and “must remain engaged militarily even after the inevitable expulsion of ISIL from Mosul and Raqqa.”

In essence, US officials agree that the war against terrorism must remain permanent.

The Trump Turn

Officials in the Trump administration, who are now taking over the endurance strategy, have also remained determined to keep the nation at war. Although Trump promised during his campaign that “war and aggression will not be my first instinct,” both he and his cabinet members have displayed a clear preference for war.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who is perhaps most well known for once commenting that it was “a hell of a hoot” and “a hell of a lot of fun” to shoot enemy forces in Afghanistan, argued during his confirmation hearing that the United States should take advantage of its “power of intimidation.” In fact, Mattis pledged to increase the lethality of US military forces. “Our armed forces in this world must remain the best led, the best equipped, and the most lethal in the world,” Mattis insisted.

Furthermore, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has positioned himself as an even stronger advocate of war. For example, Tillerson insisted during his confirmation hearing that the Obama administration should have helped Ukrainian military forces fight Russia after Putin had seized Crimea in early 2014. “My opinion is there should have been a show of force, a military response, in defensive posture,” Tillerson said. In addition, Tillerson insisted that the Trump administration will not permit China to continue building islands in the South China Sea. “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that first, the island-building stops, and second, your access to those islands also not going to be allowed,” Tillerson said.

Altogether, Tillerson argued that the United States must display a greater willingness to go to war. In the years ahead, the United States will follow “the old tenet of Teddy Roosevelt, walk softly and carry a big stick,” he promised.

Finally, Trump has displayed an even stronger preference for war. In his many public statements, Trump has essentially branded himself as the new face of the permanent war against terrorism. “Radical Islamic terrorism” is something that “we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth,” Trump promised during his inaugural address.

In short, officials in Washington are committed to perpetual war. Although they regularly promise to end war and support peace, they have spent the past 16 years transforming the United States into a nation that is permanently at war.

In fact, “the fighting is wonderful,” Trump has said.


In sweeping move, Trump puts regulation monitors in U.S. agencies

February 24, 2017

by David Shepardson and Steve Holland


WASHINGTON-President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday to place “regulatory reform” task forces and officers within federal agencies in what may be the most far reaching effort to pare back U.S. red tape in recent decades.

The sweeping order directs every federal agency to establish a task force to ensure each has a team to research all regulations and take aim at those deemed burdensome to the U.S. economy and designate regulatory reform officers within 60 days and must report on the progress within 90 days.

“Excessive regulation is killing jobs, driving companies out of our country like never before,” Trump said before signing the order. “Every regulation should have to pass a simple test; does it make life better or safer for American workers or consumers?”

The effort is part of a Republican push to undo many of the actions of former President Barack Obama, who left office last month after two four-year terms.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan created a presidential task force on regulatory relief but that effort did not establish task forces at the cabinet level. Other presidents including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, carried out attempts to reduce or streamline government regulations.

Trump’s order requires agencies to “measure and report progress in achieving the president’s directives.” Each task force will make recommendations on which regulations to repeal or simplify, Trump said.

The order says agencies should seek to repeal regulations that “inhibit job creation,” are “ineffective,” impose costs that exceed benefits or “create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with regulatory initiatives and policies.”

Trump on Friday said the United States does not need “75 percent of the repetitive, horrible regulations that hurt companies, hurt jobs.”

The Republican has vowed a sweeping cut in U.S. regulations and previously ordered agencies to repeal two rules for every new one adopted.

Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon told a gathering of conservatives on Thursday that deregulation, which he called “the deconstruction of the administrative state,” was a top priority for the administration.

Scott Slesinger, legislative director at the Natural Resources Defense Council environmental group, said “this order is a directive to kill the safeguards Americans depend on for clean air, drinkable water and safe food.”


The Trump administration says executive orders from the previous government cost hundreds of billions of dollars. The Obama administration said the benefits of those regulations to the public far outweighed the costs.

The White House said the Obama administration finalized more than 3,000 regulations. Many of those were required by Congress.

Robert Verchick, president of the Center for Progressive Reform, a think tank, criticized Trump’s new order as “clearly aimed at embedding his overtly political, anti-protections agenda at federal agencies that are supposed to be using science and expertise to safeguard us all.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior vice president Neil Bradley praised the Trump administration for “tackling the regulatory state head on…. We look forward to working with the federal agencies to help identify rules that harm the economy and threaten jobs.”

The order Trump signed in January sets an annual cap on the cost of new regulations but does not apply to most financial reform rules introduced by the Obama administration.

The Trump administration also ordered a freeze on regulations pending review and has stopped some regulations from taking effect.

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Steve Holland; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Alistair Bell)


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