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TBR News January 6, 2020

Jan 06 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. January 6, 2020:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
‘Trump aches from his head to his toes
His sphincters have gone where who knows
And his love life has ended
By a paunch so distended
That all he can use is his nose
Commentary for January 6:”This time, Trump has gone too far and in Washington, in official circles, the word is that Trump is a lunatic, a dangerous lunatic, and must leave the White House, one way or another. The same thing happened when Kennedy tried to break up the CIA after the Bay of Pigs disaster. Be surprised at nothing, believe me.”

The Table of Contents
Pelosi says House to vote on a resolution to limit Trump’s military actions regarding Iran
• Trump’s lawless thuggery is corrupting justice in America
• Pressure mounts in Iraq to boot out US troops
• Donald Trump’s Iran Policy Comes Down to One Word: Chaos
• US government agency website crashes amid panic over military draft
• The Season of Evil

Pelosi says House to vote on a resolution to limit Trump’s military actions regarding Iran
January 6, 2020
by Mekhla Raina
Reuters
(Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will introduce and vote on a war powers resolution this week to limit U.S. President Donald Trump’s military actions regarding Iran.
“This resolution is similar to the resolution introduced by Senator Tim Kaine in the Senate,” Pelosi said in a statement late on Sunday.
“It reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days.”
Reporting by Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Hogue

Trump’s lawless thuggery is corrupting justice in America
Intimidating whistleblowers, politicizing law enforcement, protecting rogue military officers and criminal sheriffs – the pattern is depressingly clear
January 5, 2020
by Robert Reich
The Guardian
As the Senate moves to an impeachment trial and America slouches into this election year, the rule of law is center stage.
Yet Donald Trump is substituting lawless thuggery for impartial justice.
The biggest immediate news is the president’s killing of Qassem Suleimani. The act brings America to the brink of an illegal war with Iran without any congressional approval, in direct violation of Congress’s war-making authority under the constitution.
But other presidents have disregarded Congress’s war-making power, too. What makes Trump unique is the overall pattern. Almost wherever you look, he has shown utter disdain for law. Consider Trump’s outing of the person who blew the whistle on his phone call to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy – tweeting just after Christmas a link to a Washington Examiner article headlined with the presumed whistleblower’s name, then retweeting a supporter who named the presumed whistleblower.
Even before outing the whistleblower, Trump had whipped his followers into a lather by calling the whistleblower a “spy”, guilty of “treason”.
The outing not only imperils the whistleblower’s safety. It violates the purpose of the Whistleblower Act, which is to protect people who alert authorities that government officials are violating the law.
It’s on this deeper level that Trump’s lawlessness is most corrosive. From now on, anyone aware of illegality on the part of a government official, including a president, will think twice before sounding the alarm.
Trump’s intrusion into the navy’s prosecution of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher on war crimes has the same corrosive effect.
Trump not only stopped the navy from possibly giving Gallagher a less-than-honorable discharge. Trump also upended the military code of justice, designed for the military to handle legal violations in its ranks, including war crimes.
Gallagher’s Navy Seal accusers were themselves whistleblowers who broke the Seal’s code of silence in order to stop a rogue chief. Now they face recrimination from within the ranks. From now on, any soldier who witnesses a superior officer committing possible war crimes will be more reluctant to report them.
Similarly, Trump’s ongoing intrusions into the justice department (DoJ) and the FBI aren’t just efforts to derail investigations of his wrongdoing. They’re attacks on the system of impartial justice itself.
Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, is supposed to be responsible to the American people. Instead he’s become Trump’s advocate. Barr even advised the White House not to turn over the whistleblower complaint to Congress.
After misleading the public on the contents of Robert Mueller’s report, Barr bowed to Trump’s demand that the department look into the origin of the FBI investigation that had led to the Mueller report.
And now, after the DoJ’s own inspector general has found that the FBI had plenty of evidence to start its Russia inquiry – more than 100 contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russian agents during the 2016 campaign – Barr refuses to be bound by the findings, and has appointed a prosecutor to launch yet another inquiry into the origins of the Russia investigation.
The deeper systemic corrosion: from now on, attorneys general won’t be presumed to be administering impartial justice, and the findings of special counsels and inspectors general will have less finality and legitimacy.
Barr is part of Trump’s private goon squad, along with Rudy Giuliani, chief enabler Mick Mulvaney and Trump’s resident white supremacist, Stephen Miller.
Giuliani is using the authority of the presidency to mount a rogue foreign policy designed to keep Trump in power. It’s double lawlessness: Giuliani is bending the law and he’s accountable to no one.
Miller, meanwhile, is waging Trump’s ongoing war against people legally seeking asylum in the United States – featuring family separations, caged children and inhumane detention.
Miller even got Trump to pardon Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who was ordered by a federal judge to stop detaining people solely on suspicion of their immigration status. Arpaio disregarded the order, which is why he was convicted of criminal contempt of court.
From now on, rogue sheriffs will be less constrained.
You see the pattern: whistleblowers intimidated, the justice department politicized, findings of special counsels and inspectors general distorted or ignored, foreign policy made by a private citizen unaccountable to anybody, rogue military officers and rogue sheriffs pardoned.
Each instance is disturbing on its own. Viewed as a whole, Trump’s lawlessness is systematically corrupting justice in the US.
Impartial justice is the keystone of a democracy. Even if the Senate fails to remove Trump for impeachable offenses, American voters must do so next November.

Pressure mounts in Iraq to boot out US troops
The killing of two top Iranian and Iraqi commanders by US forces could aid Iran in strengthening its foothold in Iraq. Experts say it also undermines the monthslong anti-government protest movement in Iraq.
January 5, 2020
by Chase Winter
DW
The US strike killing Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, near Baghdad’s airport on Friday was intended to deal a blow to the heart of Iran’s Middle East policy.
Instead, that brazen action has facilitated conditions for Iran to achieve one of its main regional objectives: removing the US military from its neighbor.
In an emergency session of the Iraqi parliament on Sunday, lawmakers voted in favor of a resolution asking the government to expel US troops from the country. The measure was passed with mostly Shiite factions voting in favor, while Kurdish and most Sunni members of parliament did not attend the session, presumably because they oppose ending the US presence in the country.
“The government commits to revoke its request for assistance from the international coalition fighting ‘Islamic State’ due to the end of military operations in Iraq and the achievement of victory,” the resolution read.
“The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason,” it continued.
Comrades-in-arms
The resolution still needs to be approved by the Cabinet, but interim Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi voiced support as he railed against US violations of Iraqi sovereignty.
“Despite the internal and external difficulties that we might face, it remains best for Iraq on principle and practically,” Abdel-Mahdi told parliament.
About 5,200 US troops are deployed at Iraqi military bases to train and support local security forces to prevent a resurgence of the “Islamic State” (IS). The troops are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government as part of an US-led international coalition against the extremist group.
Iran-backed Iraqi militia and US troops fought alongside each other during Iraq’s 2014-2017 war against IS militants. But the extremist group’s territorial defeat has opened new dynamics between adversaries Washington and Tehran at a time of escalating tensions since US President Donald Trump in 2018 withdrew from an international nuclear deal with Iran.
Tightrope act
Anger in Iraq at the United States has boiled over as Baghdad finds itself dragged into a geopolitical struggle between the Washington and Tehran, two allies with which it has sought to balance relations.
Even before Friday’s strike at Baghdad’s International Airport on the convoy in which Soleimani was traveling, there was growing pressure from Iran’s powerful Shiite militia and political allies for US troops to exit the country.
Those calls became louder after US airstrikes killed 25 militia fighters of the Iranian-backed Kataeb Hezbollah. The strikes came in response to rocket attacks, blamed on the Kataeb Hezbollah, that killed a US defense contractor and wounded several US and Iraqi soldiers at the K1 military base near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
An organized mob of Shiite militiamen responded by storming the US Embassy, after entering the heavily fortified Green Zone as Iraqi security forces initially looked on. They left a day later, saying their message had been received and that the prime minister had provided assurance for a parliamentary vote on the US military presence.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of Kataeb Hezbollah and deputy head of Iraq’s state-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Units, was among those vowing revenge in front of the US Embassy. He was joined by Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, and Hadi al-Amiri, the head of the powerful Badr Organization, who leads a bloc with the second-largest number of seats in parliament.
Muhandis was killed alongside Soleimani and eight others in the US drone strike on Friday.
From the Iraqi viewpoint, “the killing of Muhandis is more consequential than that of Soleimani, since he was one of the highest Iraqi security officials,” Heiko Wimmen, the project director for Iraq, Syria and Lebanon at the International Crisis Group, told DW.
Growing calls
Amiri and influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who heads the largest bloc in parliament, buried their rivalry to unite behind Sunday’s resolution. Both leaders and other militia leaders are threatening to use force to oust US troops from Iraq.
Sadr, a nationalist populist who rails against US and Iranian influence in the country, said Sunday that the action by parliament didn’t go far enough and that the US Embassy should be shuttered.
“Finally, I call specifically on the Iraqi resistance groups and the groups outside Iraq more generally to meet immediately and announce the formation of the International Resistance Legions,” he said, in apparent reference to Iran-backed groups across the region spreading from Syria and Lebanon to Yemen.
As Iran and its Iraqi Shiite allies vow to retaliate against the United States, strategically the easiest and least risky place for a first response is politically in Iraq, experts said.
“A far more effective response than unguided missiles on embassies and bases or tanker attacks would be a political response that forces an American withdrawal from Iraq,” said Fanar Haddad, a senior research fellow at the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore.
“This would achieve a long-held Iranian objective and help consolidate Iran’s control of Iraq. It is very likely that this crisis will serve to strengthen the position of Iran-leaning political actors even if it does not achieve the ultimate objective of forcing an American withdrawal,” he said.
Not so easy
Wimmen said that the United States has invested a lot of money in Iraq and it was unlikely Washington will leave military bases so easily.
“I expect they will dispute the competence of the Iraqi parliament to take such a decision and try to draw this out,” he said.
The push to expel the United States comes as Iraq is in the throes of a political crisis following nearly three months of deadly anti-government protests over corruption, poor services and Iranian influence.
The grassroots protest movement is calling for the wholesale uprooting of the post-2003 political system that serves narrow sectarian elites and their cronies. It already forced Abdel-Mahdi to resign, although he remains head of a caretaker government. The country has since been in political paralysis.
Some anti-government protesters cheered Soleimani’s death on Friday, blaming him and pro-Iran militia of killing more than 450 protesters and wounding at least 20,000 more. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared a video on Twitter describing Iraqis as “dancing in the street for freedom, thankful that General Soleimani is no more.”
Yet in a show of force a day later, hundreds of thousands who were mourning the “martyrdom” of Soleimani and Muhandis shouted “Death to America” in Iraqi streets as the two bodies were moved through Baghdad and the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. Iraq’s top political and Shiite religious leaders joined in honoring Soleimani and Muhandis and condemning the US strikes.
‘Bad news’ for protesters
The strikes have boosted pro-Iran Shiite factions in Iraq seeking to quash threats to their vested interests. Those factions have moved to capitalize on them to undermine the grassroots protest movement.
The assassination of Soleimani and Muhandis “is bad news for the protest movement,” Haddad said.
“The assassinations in effect have created what opponents of the protest movement have been searching for since October: a countercause that can create counterprotests and counterpressure,” he said.
Wimmen agreed: “It’s hard to see how the protest movement can survive the nationalist rallying cry from the Shiite parties.”

Donald Trump’s Iran Policy Comes Down to One Word: Chaos
President Trump’s policy toward Iran continues to bear ill fruit. When he entered the Oval Office, Tehran’s nuclear program was limited by a tight inspections and safeguard system. The Islamic regime faced internal tensions as the young, especially, hoped for greater economic opportunities in the West. With Iran’s nuclear ambitions tamed, the U.S. and allied states could follow up with a challenge to Tehran to moderate its regional behavior in return for additional, appropriate concessions. Now all of that is gone.
January 4, 2020
by Doug Bandow
The National Interest
Imagine a neutral Germany carefully balanced between dueling America and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and celebrated war hero arrived in Berlin, where he was met by the head of a local pro-U.S. militia. Meetings also were planned with German leaders. As his vehicle left the airport Soviet planes struck the chairman’s party, killing him and his host.
As stunned U.S. officials processed the news, Moscow announced that the action was meant for self-defense and to deescalate the situation. America’s president then called a press conference, telling reporters: “I guess that makes it okay. No hard feelings. Let’s have those negotiations on U.S. disarmament that the Soviets proposed.” The lion laid down with the lamb as Americans and Soviets held mass rallies holding hands while singing Kumbaya.
No, that’s not what the president would say. Nor what the American people would do. Nor what would happen. Especially if Donald Trump was president.
Perhaps it is unsurprising that those representing the world’s sole superpower (or hyperpower or unipower) originally acted as if the U.S. is the essential nation that stands taller and sees further, in Madeleine Albright’s infamous words. And which can act unilaterally, imperiously, and recklessly without consequence—deciding, for instance, again in Albright’s words, that killing a half million Iraqi babies is a worthwhile price to achieve American objectives.
What is shocking is how today’s officials ignore years, even decades, of interventionist failure. To believe that Washington can kill a top official of one nation in a strike on a third country without consequence is the triumph of hysterical arrogance over sustained experience. Yet the Trump administration targeted Qassim Suleimani, the notorious head of the Quds Forces of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Also killed was an Iraqi national, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces, an Iran-supported militia, and a number of others. Suleimani’s convoy was hit by missiles as it left the airport.
No one should shed any tears for Suleimani or al-Muhandis (though, ugly truth be told, neither likely killed as many people as the number of people who died as a result of George W. Bush’s foolish decision to invade Iraq). But foreign policy is not an appropriate tool for meting out presumed justice, a convenient way to eliminate bad people. There are a lot of evil, harmful, problematic people in the world. Too many to turn over to American “justice.” Moreover, foreign policy must be concerned with consequences. What will the impact be on Americans and other peoples? Unfortunately, the administration apparently thought there would be none, at least nothing negative.
Instead, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played Pollyanna: “The world is a much safer place today,” he said Friday after the strike: “And I can assure you that Americans in the region are much safer today after the demise of Qassem Soleimani.” Why then did the administration rush another 3000 troops to Kuwait as a precautionary measure, in addition to the 14,000 sent since May?
Moreover, why did the State Department send out a travel alert urging Americans to rush home: “Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, we urge U.S. citizens to depart Iraq immediately. Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound, all consular operations are suspended. U.S. citizens should not approach the Embassy.” Travelers needing help were told to go to the U.S. consulate in Erbil, the capital of autonomous Kurdistan. So much for everyone being safer.
Washington transgressed the usual norms and red lines which govern the occasional violence between adversaries: countries typically don’t target other nations’ leaders. One reason is self-preservation. You don’t want your adversaries to retaliate against you. More open Western societies probably are more vulnerable than authoritarian ones. And, ultimately, there has to be someone to negotiate with when the endgame is reached. Truly decapitating a government can be as problematic for the winner as the loser.
In irregular warfare and counterterrorism the U.S. has been more willing to target leaders, but doing so has had little impact on the level of violence. New leaders arise. In the case of Afghanistan’s Taliban, many replacements were more radical than the men they succeeded. Which made a peaceful settlement less likely. Israel has killed a number of top Hamas and Hezbollah leaders; these organizations are no less threatening today. Assassination is ineffective as general strategy.
Secretary Pompeo naturally contended that the president was defending the U.S. He claimed: “I can’t talk too much about the nature of the threats. But the American people should know that the President’s decision to remove Soleimani from the battlefield saved American lives.” The secretary contended that Soleimani was “actively plotting” to “take big action, as he described it, that would have put hundreds of lives at risk.” The threat was “imminent,” Pompeo claimed, concluding: “The risk of doing nothing was enormous. Intelligence community made that assessment and President Trump acted decisively last night.”
Unfortunately, none of these claims can be taken at face value. The secretary’s litany of previous falsehoods is long and leaves him with little credibility. Moreover, the Iraq war provides myriad examples of how to manufacture and manipulate alleged intelligence, cook the results according to preferred ideological and political recipes, and selectively interpret whatever resulted to yield the desired conclusion.
The Iraqi experience warns Americans that even specific citations of specific plots by specific sources are suspect. True, the corrupt, dishonest Ahmed Chalabi, who did so much to lie Americans into invading Iraq, is dead. However, the Mojahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, a cultish one-time terrorist group has ties to the administration, and the Netanyahu government, desperate to break Israel’s electoral deadlock, is a Trump favorite. Both have strong incentives to use any means possible to convince Washington to eliminate the Islamist regime in Tehran.
In any case, tweeted Reuters editor Gerry Doyle, “the problem with this is that it asks us to believe that killing one person undoes an entire military apparatus, or defuses an operation. that’s only true in the movies. unless Soleimani was planning to personally carry out the attack, this doesn’t physically prevent anything.” The Iranian was no lone wolf or singular mastermind. He ran an organization and had deputies, assistants, and multitude of others involved in any plot. They have the incentive and means to ensure that the show goes on, as it were.
So purposeless, undisciplined, and reckless was the U.S. attack that even Iran’s extremists were surprised. Tweeted Negar Mortazavi, diplomatic correspondent for the Independent: “Hardliner in Tehran tells me killing Soleimani is a disproportionate response to embassy protests and makes no sense. Says: They either wanted to kill an Iraqi militia commander and hit Soleimani by mistake, or they are true morons.”
Alas, it almost certainly was the latter. The administration apparently imagined that it could shock the Islamic republic into quietude. Secretary Pompeo has been on the hustings claiming the administration wanted to deescalate. The president sent out a curious tweet presumably intended to push Tehran toward diplomacy: “Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!” And the administration reportedly has communicated with Tehran, presumably to press the president’s request for talks.
However, if productive diplomacy leading to a peaceful modus vivendi was the objective, Washington aimed its missiles much too high. Soleimani was too important to Tehran, and too popular with the public, making his death impossible to ignore, even by those who may not have been rivals.
For instance, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declared that Soleimani’s death was “bitter” but that “the final victory will make life more bitter for the murderers and criminals.” Defense Minister (and Brig. Gen.) Amir Hatami said the regime would give a “crushing” response.
Even relative moderates had little choice but to threaten Washington. President Hassan Rouhani declared that “The flag of General Soleimani in defense of the country’s territorial integrity and the fight against terrorism and extremism in the region will be raised, and the path of resistance to US excesses will continue. The great nation of Iran will take revenge for this heinous crime.” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who negotiated the JCPOA, or nuclear agreement, with the Obama administration, termed the assassination an “act of international terrorism” and declared that America “bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.”
Grant the inevitable posturing and overstatement. After such proclamations, the regime cannot do nothing. Certainly, its leaders cannot be seen shaking Donald Trump’s hand after signing an agreement filled with additional concessions to a government which not only trashed the previous pact but killed one of Iran’s leading revolutionary figures. Narges Bajoghli of the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, warned that the assassination was highly symbolic, but the sort of symbolism that “has the power to move people to action.”
Then there is the problem of Iraq, currently convulsed by public protests focused on protecting the nation’s sovereignty. Tehran was the primary target of the protests, but Washington’s warmaking on Iraqi territory has shifted the spotlight to America.

US government agency website crashes amid panic over military draft
• Selective Service System said on Twitter its website was receiving high traffic volume ‘due to the spread of misinformation’
• Fonda and Ellsberg protest against escalating conflict with Iran
January 4, 2020
by Martin Pengelly in New York
The Guardian
In the aftermath of the US drone strike that killed the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad, the phrase “World War III” began trending on social media.
More startlingly, a US government agency which registers young men for a potential military draft saw its website crash.
“Due to the spread of misinformation,” the Selective Service System (SSS) tweeted on Friday, “our website is experiencing high traffic volumes at this time … We appreciate your patience.”
It added that it was “conducting business as usual” and emphasised that a return to the draft is not imminent: “In the event that a national emergency necessitates a draft, Congress and the president would need to pass official legislation.”
On Saturday, as Twitter panic subsided, the SSS website was up and running, if slowly.
The US first drafted soldiers during the civil war in the 1860s, prompting deadly, racist riots. A hundred years later, opposition to conscription fuelled protests against the Vietnam war. There has been no draft since 1973.
“I think it’s fair to say that the draft has never been wildly popular,” Jennifer Mittelstadt, a history professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, told the New York Times.
Experts including Mittelstadt, however, have said reinstating the draft might in fact help build a more inclusive society.
Should the US and Iran go to war, America’s fighting will be done by its volunteer military, about 1.3 million strong and dominated in the enlisted ranks by recruits from working-class and minority groups.
Writing for the Guardian in 2014, the long-serving New York Democratic congressman Charles Rangel said: “The same familiar faces have served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. A more inclusive military draft … would compel everyone in the nation to stop and rethink about who we send to wars, how we fight – and why we fight them at all.”
All American men aged 18 to 25 are required by law to register with the SSS. Many do so when applying for a driver’s license or applying for student loans. Those who do not register cannot receive federal financial aid or work for the federal government.
The agency says it has registered 91% of eligible men. Despite playing an increasing role in the US military and filling combat roles, women are not required to register.
A return to the draft may remain unlikely, but the SSS says it is prepared to “rapidly provide personnel in a fair and equitable manner while managing an alternative service program for conscientious objectors”.
According to the agency’s website: “Current plans are frequently tested, evaluated, and revised as necessary.
“If implemented, they will guide the Selective Service System in making a smooth transition from current reduced readiness levels to full conscription within six months.”

116th CONGRESS
1st Session
S. 76
To provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
January 5, 2020
Mr. INHOFE introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services
________________________________________
A BILL
To provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.
(a) SHORT TITLE- This Act may be cited as the `Universal National Service Act of 2003′.
(b) TABLE OF CONTENTS- The table of contents for this Act is as follows:
Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. National service obligation.
Sec. 3. Two-year period of national service.
Sec. 4. Implementation by the President.
Sec. 5. Induction.
Sec. 6. Deferments and postponements.
Sec. 7. Induction exemptions.
Sec. 8. Conscientious objection.
Sec. 9. Discharge following national service.
Sec. 10. Registration of females under the Military Selective Service Act.
Sec. 11. Relation of Act to registration and induction authority of Military Selective Service Act.
Sec. 12. Definitions.
SEC. 2. NATIONAL SERVICE OBLIGATION.
(a) OBLIGATION FOR YOUNG PERSONS- It is the obligation of every citizen of the United States, and every other person residing in the United States, who is between the ages of 18 and 26 to perform a period of national service as prescribed in this Act unless exempted under the provisions of this Act.
(b) FORM OF NATIONAL SERVICE- National service under this Act shall be performed either–
(1) as a member of an active or reserve component of the uniformed services; or
(2) in a civilian capacity that, as determined by the President, promotes the national defense, including national or community service and homeland security.
(c) INDUCTION REQUIREMENTS- The President shall provide for the induction of persons covered by subsection (a) to perform national service under this Act.
(d) SELECTION FOR MILITARY SERVICE- Based upon the needs of the uniformed services, the President shall–
(1) determine the number of persons covered by subsection (a) whose service is to be performed as a member of an active or reserve component of the uniformed services; and
(2) select the individuals among those persons who are to be inducted for military service under this Act.
(e) CIVILIAN SERVICE- Persons covered by subsection (a) who are not selected for military service under subsection (d) shall perform their national service obligation under this Act in a civilian capacity pursuant to subsection (b)(2).
SEC. 3. TWO-YEAR PERIOD OF NATIONAL SERVICE.
(a) GENERAL RULE- Except as otherwise provided in this section, the period of national service performed by a person under this Act shall be two years.
(b) GROUNDS FOR EXTENSION- At the discretion of the President, the period of military service for a member of the uniformed services under this Act may be extended–
(1) with the consent of the member, for the purpose of furnishing hospitalization, medical, or surgical care for injury or illness incurred in line of duty; or
(2) for the purpose of requiring the member to compensate for any time lost to training for any cause.
(c) EARLY TERMINATION- The period of national service for a person under this Act shall be terminated before the end of such period under the following circumstances:
(1) The voluntary enlistment and active service of the person in an active or reserve component of the uniformed services for a period of at least two years, in which case the period of basic military training and education actually served by the person shall be counted toward the term of enlistment.
(2) The admission and service of the person as a cadet or midshipman at the United States Military Academy, the United States Naval Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, the Coast Guard Academy, or the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
(3) The enrollment and service of the person in an officer candidate program, if the person has signed an agreement to accept a Reserve commission in the appropriate service with an obligation to serve on active duty if such a commission is offered upon completion of the program.
(4) Such other grounds as the President may establish.
SEC. 4. IMPLEMENTATION BY THE PRESIDENT.
(a) IN GENERAL- The President shall prescribe such regulations as are necessary to carry out this Act.
(b) MATTER TO BE COVERED BY REGULATIONS- Such regulations shall include specification of the following:
(1) The types of civilian service that may be performed for a person’s national service obligation under this Act.
(2) Standards for satisfactory performance of civilian service and of penalties for failure to perform civilian service satisfactorily.
(3) The manner in which persons shall be selected for induction under this Act, including the manner in which those selected will be notified of such selection.
(4) All other administrative matters in connection with the induction of persons under this Act and the registration, examination, and classification of such persons.
(5) A means to determine questions or claims with respect to inclusion for, or exemption or deferment from induction under this Act, including questions of conscientious objection.
(6) Standards for compensation and benefits for persons performing their national service obligation under this Act through civilian service.
(7) Such other matters as the President determines necessary to carry out this Act.
(c) USE OF PRIOR ACT- To the extent determined appropriate by the President, the President may use for purposes of this Act the procedures provided in the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. App. 451 et seq.), including procedures for registration, selection, and induction.
SEC. 5. INDUCTION.
(a) IN GENERAL- Every person subject to induction for national service under this Act, except those whose training is deferred or postponed in accordance with this Act, shall be called and inducted by the President for such service at the time and place specified by the President.
(b) AGE LIMITS- A person may be inducted under this Act only if the person has attained the age of 18 and has not attained the age of 26.
(c) VOLUNTARY INDUCTION- A person subject to induction under this Act may volunteer for induction at a time other than the time at which the person is otherwise called for induction.
(d) EXAMINATION; CLASSIFICATION- Every person subject to induction under this Act shall, before induction, be physically and mentally examined and shall be classified as to fitness to perform national service. The President may apply different classification standards for fitness for military service and fitness for civilian service.
SEC. 6. DEFERMENTS AND POSTPONEMENTS.
(a) HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS- A person who is pursuing a standard course of study, on a full-time basis, in a secondary school or similar institution of learning shall be entitled to have induction under this Act postponed until the person–
(1) obtains a high school diploma;
(2) ceases to pursue satisfactorily such course of study; or
(3) attains the age of 20.
(b) HARDSHIP AND DISABILITY- Deferments from national service under this Act may be made for–
(1) extreme hardship; or
(2) physical or mental disability.
(c) TRAINING CAPACITY- The President may postpone or suspend the induction of persons for military service under this Act as necessary to limit the number of persons receiving basic military training and education to the maximum number that can be adequately trained.
(d) TERMINATION- No deferment or postponement of induction under this Act shall continue after the cause of such deferment or postponement ceases.
SEC. 7. INDUCTION EXEMPTIONS.
(a) QUALIFICATIONS- No person may be inducted for military service under this Act unless the person is acceptable to the Secretary concerned for training and meets the same health and physical qualifications applicable under section 505 of title 10, United States Code, to persons seeking original enlistment in a regular component of the Armed Forces.
(b) OTHER MILITARY SERVICE- No person shall be liable for induction under this Act who–
(1) is serving, or has served honorably for at least six months, in any component of the uniformed services on active duty; or
(2) is or becomes a cadet or midshipman at the United States Military Academy, the United States Naval Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, the Coast Guard Academy, the United States
Merchant Marine Academy, a midshipman of a Navy accredited State maritime academy, a member of the Senior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or the naval aviation college program, so long as that person satisfactorily continues in and completes two years training therein.
SEC. 8. CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION.
(a) CLAIMS AS CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR- Any person selected under this Act for induction into the uniformed services who claims, because of religious training and belief (as defined in section 6(j) of the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. 456(j))), exemption from combatant training included as part of that military service and whose claim is sustained under such procedures as the President may prescribe, shall, when inducted, participate in military service that does not include any combatant training component.
(b) TRANSFER TO CIVILIAN SERVICE- Any such person whose claim is sustained may, at the discretion of the President, be transferred to a national service program for performance of such person’s national service obligation under this Act.
SEC. 9. DISCHARGE FOLLOWING NATIONAL SERVICE.
(a) DISCHARGE- Upon completion or termination of the obligation to perform national service under this Act, a person shall be discharged from the uniformed services or from civilian service, as the case may be, and shall not be subject to any further service under this Act.
(b) COORDINATION WITH OTHER AUTHORITIES- Nothing in this section shall limit or prohibit the call to active service in the uniformed services of any person who is a member of a regular or reserve component of the uniformed services.
SEC. 10. REGISTRATION OF FEMALES UNDER THE MILITARY SELECTIVE SERVICE ACT.
(a) REGISTRATION REQUIRED- Section 3(a) of the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. 453(a)) is amended–
(1) by striking `male’ both places it appears;
(2) by inserting `or herself’ after `himself’; and
(3) by striking `he’ and inserting `the person’.
(b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Section 16(a) of the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. App. 466(a)) is amended by striking `men’ and inserting `persons’.
SEC. 11. RELATION OF ACT TO REGISTRATION AND INDUCTION AUTHORITY OF MILITARY SELECTIVE SERVICE ACT.
(a) REGISTRATION- Section 4 of the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. App. 454) is amended by inserting after subsection (g) the following new subsection:
`(h) This section does not apply with respect to the induction of persons into the Armed Forces pursuant to the Universal National Service Act of 2003.’.
(b) INDUCTION- Section 17(c) of the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. App. 467(c)) is amended by striking `now or hereafter’ and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting `inducted pursuant to the Universal National Service Act of 2003.’.
SEC. 12. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) The term `military service’ means service performed as a member of an active or reserve component of the uniformed services.
(2) The term `Secretary concerned’ means the Secretary of Defense with respect to the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard, the Secretary of Commerce, with respect to matters concerning the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, with respect to matters concerning the Public Health Service.
(3) The term `United States’, when used in a geographical sense, means the several States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam.
(4) The term `uniformed services’ means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and commissioned corps of the Public Health Service.
END

Department of Defense commentary on projected universal draft
January 4, 2020

……….

SKILLS DRAFT AND NEW COMBAT DRAFT TIMELINE
DoD announces serious critical skills shortages in linguists, computer experts and engineers.
The SKILLS DRAFT procedures, the reg card and the massive database needed to track every young American under 35 and their skills.
TOPICAL AGENDA
The Department of Defense (Personnel & Readiness) And the Selective Service System
With known shortages of military personnel with certain critical skills, and with the need for the nation to be capable of responding to domestic emergencies as part of Homeland Security planning, changes should be made in the Selective Service System’s registration program and primary mission.
Situation:
Currently, and in accordance with the Military Selective Service Act (MSSA) <50 U.S.C., App. 451 et seq.>, the Selective Service System (SSS) collects and maintains Personal information from all U.S. male citizens and resident aliens. Under this process, each man is required to “present himself for and submit to registration” upon reaching age 18.
The methods by which a man can register with Selective Service include the internet, mail-back postcard, checking a box on the other government forms, and through the driver’s license applications process in many states. The collected data is retained in an active computer file until the man reaches the age 26 and is no longer draft eligible. It consists of the man’s name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. Currently, 91 percent of all men, ages 18 through 25, are registered, enabling the SSS to conduct a timely, fair, and equitable draft in the event the Congress and the President decide to reinstate conscription during a crisis.
Defense manpower officials concede there are critical shortages of military personnel with certain special skills, such as medical personnel, linguists, computer network engineers, etc. The costs of attracting and retaining such personnel for military-service could be prohibitive, leading some officials to conclude that while a conventional draft may never be needed, a draft of men and women possessing these critical skills may be warranted in a future crisis, if too few volunteer.
Proposal:
In line with today’s needs, the SSS structure, programs and activities should be re-engineered towards maintaining a national inventory of American men and (for the first time) women, ages 18 through 34, with an added focus on identifying individuals with critical skills.
In addition to the basic identifying information collected in the current program, the expanded and revised program would require all registrants to indicate whether they have been trained in, possess, and professionally practice, one [U]or more skills critical to national security or community health and safety. This could take the form of an initial “self-declaration” as a part of the registration process. Men and women would enter on the SSS registration form a multi-digit number representing their specific critical skill (e.g., similar to military occupational specialty or Armed Forces Specialty Code with Skill Identifier), taken from a lengthy list of skills to be compiled and published by the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. Individuals proficient in more than one critical skill would list the practiced skill in which they have the greatest degree of experience and competency. They would also be required to update reported information as necessary until they reach the age 35. This unique data base would provide the military (and national, state, and municipal government agencies) with immediately available links to vital human resources…in effect, a single, most accurate and complete, national inventory of young Americans with special skills.
While the data base’s “worst-case” use might be to draft such personnel into military or homeland security assignments during a national mobilization, its very practical peacetime use could be to support recruiting and direct marketing campaigns aimed at encouraging skilled personnel to volunteer for community or military service opportunities, and to consider applying for hard-to-fill public sector jobs. Local government agencies could also tap this data base to locate nearby specialists for help with domestic crises and emergency situations.
With the changes described above, SSS programs would be modified to serve the contemporary needs of several customers: Department of Defense Department of Homeland Security (FEMA, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs, INS), Corporation for National Service, Public Health Service, and other federal and state agencies seeking personnel with critical skills for national security or community service assignments. The SSS would thus play a more vital, relevant, and immediate role in shoring up America’s strength and readiness in peace and war.
Explore the feasibility of developing a single-point data base of virtually all young Americans, 18 through 34 years old, immediately identifiable by critical skills possessed and practiced. Data base could be used for a draft in war and for recruiting in peacetime.
1 Would require modification of SSS mission and changes to authorizing law.
2 Cost considerations
Next steps – Statement of Administration Policy needed
A. DoD decides what services it needs and wants from SSS: Three options for consideration:
1 SSS status quo; however, redefine the DoD mission guidance and time lines to make the SSS more relevant to DoD’s needs and the SECDEF’s policy. The current guidance of providing untrained inductees at M+193 runs counter to the SECDEF’s views and is out-of-sync with possible wartime scenarios.
2 Return the SSS to “Deep Standby” status. If a draft of any kind is highly unlikely and undesirable, eliminate peacetime registration and dismiss the 10,000 trained volunteer Board Members. However, should a draft be needed, it would take more than a year to get the system capable of conducting a fair and equitable draft from Deep Standby status.
3 Restructure the SSS and shift its peacetime focus to accommodate DoD’s most likely requirements in a crisis. Plan for conducting a more likely draft of individual with special and critical skills.
a. Minimum requirement: SSS mission guidance and time lines must be redefined promptly by DoD to allow more relevant pre-mobilization planning and funding for the possibility of a critical skills draft at M+90 or sooner. Peacetime registration of men 18 through 25 would continue, but consideration would also be given to identifying men with certain critical skills among these year-of-birth groupings.
A post-mobilization plan would also be devised and computer programming accomplished for a full-blown critical skills draft. The HCPDS program is completed, brought to the forefront of SSS readiness planning, and tested through exercises. Without a reaffirmation of relevance and adjustment of mission, the SSS will be an easy target for reduction or elimination by detractors in the Congress and the Administration.
b. Expanded pre-mobilization requirement. SSS peacetime registration expanded to include women and men, 18 through 34 years old, and collects information on critical skills within these year-of-birth groupings. Requires change of law and additional funding (see Issue Paper dated 11 Feb 2003).
It will be be necessary to market the concept for approval by the Armed Services Committees and Appropriations Committees and draft implementing legislation for congressional consideration. The changes will be implemented after the amended law is signed and funding is identified.

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

Preface
This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccurate.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 49

None of the occupants of the urinal king’s Viking mansion were privy to this relatively good news but with Christmas only three days away, they busied themselves in the celebration of the birth of deficit spending. Chuck and Lars, dressed like Polar explorers, went forth and topped a symmetrical fir tree which they then dragged into the main hall, setting it up in an expensive holder that could be filled with water to keep the tree fresh and moist and, hopefully, not explosively inflammable. When everyone was asleep, Chuck spent three early morning hours decorating the huge tree with plastic icicles and silver braid. He remembered the Christmas trees of his youth that were laden with grotesque ornaments and strings of heavy lights that pulled down the branches and always malfunctioned. On the very top of the tree he put a realistic angel who appeared to either be singing in wide-mouthed seraphic ecstasy or emitting painful cries from being impaled on the sharpened tip.
Gwen was the first to discover the tree when she came out on the landing shortly after nine in the morning. The tall, dark pine reared up almost to the top of the hall and the sunlight streaming through the southern windows caught the glitter of the decorations with a bright fire of light.
She stood at the head of the stairs and involuntarily put her hand against her mouth like a small child suddenly delighted.
There had never been a Christmas in her nomadic and felonious family but she had seen depictions of it on television. It was not as if she had lost something wonderful but simply had never found it.
Lars had personal knowledge of Christmas trees but they were usually stunted things his irascible father had chopped down at the edge of one of his dung-carpeted pastures and Claude’s memories were of a faded, plastic echo in the dining hall of the orphanage. Christmas for him had consisted of lengthy services in the chapel and small bags of elderly hard candy that were passed out to the inmates on Christmas eve by a platoon of grim-faced sisters.
Chuck had known elegant Christmas festivities in his youth and was the only one for whom the season had pleasant, but long past, memories.
Christmas was primarily a time of pleasure and delight for middle-class children and merchants but the suicide rate doubled during the season as adults, lost in the mire of useless and unrewarding routine, remembered with terrible depression, the time-dimmed untrammeled joys of their youth and faintly remembered bright moments now more myth than reality.
On Christmas Eve there was roast goose, something Chucks’ paternal German grandparents always had at an Edwardian formal dinner. There was snow-white linen, sparkling crystal, gleaming silver and shimmering porcelain on the long table and two large candelabra cast a soft glow over the table, the diners and the room itself. The dinner was the first really formal affair in the new house and it passed off surprisingly well. Claude had good manners, Lars watched everyone else before picking up a knife or fork and Gwen, sitting near Chuck, simply watched his hands and followed his lead.
With everyone seated, Chuck, who had poured the first wine, stood up at the head of the table with his glass in hand.
“My friends, if you will do me the courtesy of standing, I will propose a Yuletide toast to the company.”
Everyone stood.
He cleared his throat.
“Lord, behold our family here assembled.We thank Thee for this place in which we dwell; for the love that unites us; for the peace accorded us this day; for the hope with which we expect the morrow; for the health, the work, the food, and the bright skies, that make our lives delightful; and for our friends in all parts of the earth.
Let peace abound in our small company.
Purge out of every heart the lurking grudge. Give us grace and strength to forbear and persevere. Give us the grace to accept and to forgive offenders.
Forgetful ourselves, help us to bear cheerfully the forgetfulness of others.
Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind. Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies.
Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavors. If it may not, give us the strength to encounter that which is to come, that we be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune, and, down to the gates of death, loyal and loving one to another.”
He extended his glass, then drank deeply from it and sat down.
The Christmas dinner had begun on a dignified and literate note.
“Did you make that up?” Claude asked. No. It’s something my grandfather used to say every Christmas. He was a literate man but I think it was written by Robert Louis Stevenson. He always ran it on the front pages of all of his papers at Christmas time. At any rate, I always liked it but I’ve never had the opportunity of using it until now. When I lived alone, there was no point in cooking a huge Christmas meal for myself and one does not get up in middle-class restaurants or especially cheap ones, and make speeches.”

(Continued)

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