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TBR News September 26, 2018

Sep 26 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. September 26, 2018 : Washington, D.C. September 26, 2018 : “In these times, as earlier, many of the public thrive on conspiracy theories because it gives them a feeling of being part of something large and thrilling.

I have studied conspiracy stories for years and have come to the conclusion that 99% of them are the result of stupidity and the attempts to cover it up.

“But the birds were seen flying the other way! Isn’t that significant? The New York Times  has an excellent article on these suspicious birds, written by a Famous Scientist (who doesn’t want his name used, of course)”

Bureaucracies are filled with people who couldn’t get a real job and whose government paychecks ought to be gift-wrapped.

Governments are desperate to prevent any kind of a public uproar that might disturb the status quo so they lie, not to cover up plots but to cover theirs, and others, political asses.

And how will they accomplish this? By use of the friendly media and, most important, by having their pet “bloggers” and paid website managers concoct wierd stories about death rays, missing cell phones, secret gas leaks, alQuadea trained gophers intent on industrial sabotage and on and on.

The credulous public, ever frantic for more and increasingly thrilling conspiracies to nurture their small egos, will get their hands on these inventions, water and fertilize them and send them around to others with their own little invented additions.

In the end, the criminal stupidity is effectively masked by the created images and management and government can prepare for the next disinformation campaign.

Those who believe in mysterious conspiracies ought to recognize that they have become unknowing parts of a real conspiracy, the conspiracy of obfuscation, lies and official disinformation.

This applies, equally, to the Katrina disaster, the SEA tsunami, 911, the Kennedy assassination, severe weather events, sea level rising, ship sinkings and on and on.

Pick one of the above and Google it to see that the number of breathless conspiracy sites proliferate like fungus after a good rain.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 32
  • Trump’s Plan to Deny Green Cards to People on Medicaid or Food Stamps Is a Full-Blown Attack on the Immigrant Poor
  • The Path to World War III
  • Trump is risking more than a war of words with Iran
  • OPEC won’t react to Trump’s threats, pushing Brent crude oil prices higher
  • Turkey will continue buying gas from Iran despite US sanctions – Erdoga
  • Iran says Trump should stop interfering in Middle East if he wants cheap oil
  • Donald Trump is unlikely to forgive the laughter of the UN
  • Firm support of Trump’s very far right policies

 

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 32

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

 

  • Oct 16, 2017

“You look at other countries, what they’ve done — and we’re competing with other countries. When China is at 15 per cent.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: China has a business tax rate of 25 per cent. It offers a 15 per cent rate only to certain firms, mostly in the high-tech sector, in about 20 particular cities. Trump is wrong to suggest that 15 per cent is China’s general business rate, the equivalent to the 35 per cent U.S. rate.

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“When I hear that Ireland is going to be reducing their cooperate rates down to 8 per cent from 12…”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: Ireland has no plans to slash its 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate. “I can confirm that President Trump’s claim that we are proposing to reduce our corporation profit tax to 8 per cent is indeed fake news. There is no such plan to do so,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.

“We are getting close to health care. We’ll come up in the early to mid part of next year. We’re going to have a vote; I think we already have the votes.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: Trump did not “have the votes.” Three Republicans had publicly declared their opposition to the latest Republican health plan, and there was no sign any of them were budging. “If there were 50 votes, we’d be voting,” senior Republican senator John Thune told Politico in response to Trump’s claim.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

“I was very honoured to see a man that I’ve had a lot of respect for, James Lee Witt, of the Clinton administration — the head of FEMA. He gave us an A+; I just see — it just came out. And I’ve always had respect for him. He gave us — he’s the FEMA director of the Clinton administration — gave us an A+ for how we responded to the hurricane aftermath — all of the hurricanes. And that includes Puerto Rico.” And: “Well, that’s according to the Clinton administration’s head of FEMA, it’s been outstanding.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: Witt was not talking about Puerto Rico, as he explained in a statement after Trump made this claim. “Shortly after the initial responses to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Florida and Texas, I was asked if I would give the Trump Administration and FEMA an A+ for those responses. I said I would, on both hurricanes. This was prior to hurricane Maria in Puerto Rica and the Virgin Islands. Even today it is yet to be determined whether the ultimate response to that hurricane will get an A, C or F or something else. As time goes by that will become apparent,” he said.

“We’re the highest-taxed country in the world.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

“So, the traditional way — if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls (to the families of fallen soldiers), a lot of them didn’t make calls.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: Obama sometimes made calls to these families, former aides said, and he always sent letters. Challenged on this claim later in the news conference, Trump admitted that he had been speaking without evidence. “President Obama I think probably did sometimes,” he conceded, “and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know. That’s what I was told. All I can do — all I can do is ask my generals.”

“Well, let me just explain what’s different. We have nominations pending right now, and we have 182 approved…So you look at even Bush, you look at Obama, you look at Clinton, and you look at Bush original, you have 389 versus 182 — these are approvals. You look at Clinton, 357 versus 182. You look at President Obama, 364 versus 182. These are nominations approved.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: Trump’s numbers were not hugely inaccurate, but they were not quite accurate either. The Partnership for Public Service and Washington Post keep track of Trump nominations; as FactCheck.org reported, on the day Trump spoke, he had 174 confirmed nominees, not 182. Clinton had 340, not 357. Obama had 359, not 364. It was not exactly clear which Bush Trump was talking about, but neither had 389 — George H.W. Bush had 293 and George W. Bush had 375.

“Because I have companies moving into this country — you saw what happened with the automobile industry last week with five major plants. We have companies pouring back into this country for the first time in anybody’s memory.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: It is not the first time in anybody’s memory that auto companies are investing in U.S. plants: these firms also announced new U.S. plants and other hefty U.S. investments during the Obama era. In 2015, for example, Volvo announced that it would open its first U.S. car plant, in South Carolina. During the Obama era, auto companies also poured money into expansions and improvements of their existing U.S. plants. For example, GM announced in 2013 that it would invest $1.2 billion to upgrade an Indiana truck plant, while Ford announced in 2015 that it would invest $1.3 billion to upgrade a Kentucky truck plant.

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

“They (Democrats) should always be able to win in the Electoral College, but they were unable to do it.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: Trump’s claim about the Electoral College continues to be nonsensical. It is obviously false that Democrats should always be able to win the presidency.

Trump has repeated this claim 17 times

“So there has been absolutely no collusion. It’s been stated that they have no collusion.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: While Trump has certainly stated this, he is wrong to imply it has been stated by any investigator. Earlier in the month, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a Republican, said: “There are concerns that we continue to pursue. Collusion: the committee continues to look into all evidence to see if there was any hint of collusion.”

Trump has repeated this claim 18 times

“Because Obamacare is finished. It’s dead. It’s gone. It’s no longer — you shouldn’t even mention. It’s gone. There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore.”

Source: Remarks at Cabinet meeting

in fact: We allow Trump rhetorical license to call Obamacare “collapsing” and even “exploding,” though experts say neither is true. But it is plainly false to say the law is “dead” or “gone,” or that there is “no such thing as Obamacare anymore.” It very much exists; while its marketplaces have problems, they are still functioning and providing insurance to millions; so is its Medicaid expansion.

Trump has repeated this claim 33 times

“We’re one of the highest-taxed nations in the world right now, costing us millions of jobs and trillions and trillions of dollars.”

Source: Remarks at Cabinet meeting

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

  • Oct 17, 2017

“Any increase in ObamaCare premiums is the fault of the Democrats for giving us a ‘product’ that never had a chance of working.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump is entitled to his general opinion on Obamacare. As a factual matter, however, it is not true that all upcoming Obamacare premium increases are the fault of Democrats. The independent Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation found in September that Trump’s threats to Obamacare subsidies — which he ended a month later — would cause premiums to rise much faster than they would if Trump had simply left Obamacare alone. “In 2018, the agencies project, the average benchmark premium will be roughly 15 per cent higher than it was in 2017, largely because of short-term market uncertainty — in particular, insurers’ uncertainty about whether federal funding for certain subsidies that are currently available will continue to be provided — and an increase in the percentage of the population living in areas with only one insurer in the marketplace,” the agencies wrote. Various other Trump efforts to undermine Obamacare are also causing premiums to rise, according to numerous health policy experts.

“We haven’t lowered them since Ronald Reagan. I mean, it’s been many, many years since taxes went down. And it’s hard to believe.”

Source: Interview with SiriusXM Patriots’ David Webb

in fact: George W. Bush passed major tax cuts.

Trump has repeated this claim 11 times

“Every country is lowering their taxes but us.”

Source: Interview with SiriusXM Patriots’ David Webb

in fact: This is simply nonsense. Most countries are not currently cutting their tax rates.

“Right now we are the highest-taxed nation anywhere in the world. You can even say developed or undeveloped. We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world.”

Source: Interview with SiriusXM Patriots’ David Webb

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

“For the most part, to the best of my knowledge, I think I’ve called every family of somebody that’s died.” And: “I have called I believe everybody but certainly I’ll use the word virtually everybody.” And: “I can tell you my policy is I’ve called every one of them.”

Source: Radio interview with Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade

in fact: Trump had not called even close to all of the soldiers who had died during his tenure. The next day, his press secretary, Sarah Sanders, amended the claim, saying: “The President has made contact with all of the families that have been presented to him through the White House Military Office.” When a reporter noted that families told the Associated Press “they’ve not actually heard from this White House in any capacity,” Sanders simply said, “All of the individuals that the President has been presented with through the proper protocol have been contacted through that process.” Later in the week, as the controversy continued, families of late soldiers told the Atlantic magazine that they had just received their first word of any kind from the White House — a condolence letter sent via rush package delivery.

“We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world.”

Source: Radio interview with Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

“The big problem is we can’t really compete competitively when China’s at 15 per cent and we’re at 35 per cent.”

Source: Radio interview with WIBC’s Tony Katz

in fact: China has a business tax rate of 25 per cent. It offers a 15 per cent rate only to certain firms, mostly in the high-tech sector, in about 20 particular cities. Trump is wrong to suggest that 15 per cent is China’s general business rate, the equivalent to the 35 per cent U.S. rate.

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world.”

Source: Radio interview with WIBC’s Tony Katz

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

“Karen (Handel) is going to do a great job. She ended up winning by five or six points.”

Source: Radio interview with WIBC’s Tony Katz

in fact: Republican Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff by 3.6 points, 51.8 per cent to 48.2 per cent, in the special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. We’d let Trump round to four points, but not five or six.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

“I wish President Obama didn’t get out the way he got out. Because that left a vacuum and ISIS was formed.”

Source: Radio interview with WMAL’s Chris Plante

in fact: ISIS has roots dating back to the late 1990s. It became known as the Islamic State during the Bush administration, more than two years before Obama took office. While Trump can argue that Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq helped ISIS gain strength, it is false to say this is how ISIS “formed.”

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times  

 

“We’ve already hit 3.2 per cent.”

Source: Radio interview with WMAL’s Chris Plante

in fact: Second-quarter GDP growth was revised upward the previous month to 3.1 per cent, not 3.2 per cent.

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

“You look at other countries like Ireland and many other countries, they’re 8 per cent, 10 per cent, 12 per cent.”

Source: Radio interview with WMAL’s Chris Plante

in fact: Ireland’s rate is 12.5 per cent, so Trump is almost correct. But it is not true that “many other countries” have rates as low as 8 per cent. According to the Tax Foundation, only Uzbekistan (7.5 per cent) and Turkmenistan (8 per cent) had rates as low as 8 per cent in 2017. A mere 10 other small countries were at 10 per cent.

“You look at China, they’re at 15 per cent. We’re at 35 per cent.”

Source: Radio interview with WMAL’s Chris Plante

in fact: China has a business tax rate of 25 per cent. It offers a 15 per cent rate only to certain firms, mostly in the high-tech sector, in about 20 particular cities. Trump is wrong to suggest that 15 per cent is China’s general business rate, the equivalent to the 35 per cent U.S. rate.

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world.”

Source: Radio interview with WMAL’s Chris Plante

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

“By the way I can get back in (the Paris climate accord) any time I wanted to on a much better deal.”

Source: Radio interview with Mike Gallagher

in fact: Other major parties to the climate accord, including Germany and Canada, have called it “irreversible and non-negotiable.” Trump could try to force a renegotiation, but the process would be far harder than he claims here.

“That’s (47 per cent is) a very high number. In fact Obama got out at 46, I guess.”

Source: Radio interview with Mike Gallagher

in fact: Obama left office with a 62 per cent approval rating in that same Rasmussen poll.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

“Then I see polls come out. We had one come out today. Rasmussen. Forty-seven. Forty-six or 47. And you know, 47 you can’t lose.”

Source: Radio interview with Mike Gallagher

in fact: That day’s Rasmussen poll had Trump at 41 per cent approval, not 46 per cent or 47 per cent approval.

“We passed a lot of things for economic development.”

Source: Radio interview with Mike Gallagher

in fact: Trump has passed almost no bills to promote economic development, certainly no significant bills. He did sign the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, which “encourages” the National Science Foundation to support women’s initiatives, but that’s about it.

“We have almost a record number (of bills passed). It’s almost a record number. And it may be a record. But I always say almost, ’cause then they’ll check you and they’ll say, ‘You know, in 1824…Donald Trump isn’t telling the truth.'” And: “We have just about a record number of legislative approvals. Nobody knows that.”

Source: Radio interview with Mike Gallagher

in fact: Trump isn’t telling the truth, and you don’t have to go all the way back to 1824 to point that out. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who served from 1933 to 1945, signed 76 bills in his first 100 days, or just over three months — many of them major. As of the day Trump spoke, nine months into his term, the White House listed 58 bills Trump signed, including minor resolutions. (One is titled “Joint Resolution approving the location of a memorial to commemorate and honor the members of the Armed Forces who served on active duty in support of Operation Desert Storm or Operation Desert Shield.”)

Trump has repeated this claim 19 times

“We have way over 50 legislative approvals. Where we went through the Senate, where we went through the House. Nobody talks about it. They say we have none. They actually say we have none.”

Source: Radio interview with Mike Gallagher

in fact: Trump is mischaracterizing the claims of his opponents. They do not claim he has not passed a single bill of any kind. They argue that he has not passed any major bill.

“We’re going to get it. We have the votes (on health-care).”

Source: Radio interview with Mike Gallagher

in fact: Trump did not “have the votes.” Three Republicans had publicly declared their opposition to the latest Republican health plan, and there was no sign any of them were budging. “If there were 50 votes, we’d be voting,” senior Republican senator John Thune told Politico in response to Trump’s claim.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

“If you look at our trade deficits — massive trade deficits with virtually every country.”

Source: Joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

in fact: The U.S. has surpluses with more than half of all countries in merchandise trade, figures from the U.S. International Trade Commission show — and merchandise trade is a measure that doesn’t count the services trade at which the U.S. excels. Major countries with which the U.S. has a surplus in merchandise trade include Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Argentina, and the United Kingdom.

Trump has repeated this claim 21 times

“We feel we have the votes, and as soon as we’re finished with taxes, John — we really feel we have the votes to get block grants into the states, where the states can much better manage this money and much better take care of the people, rather than the federal government…So we feel we have the votes.”

Source: Joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

in fact: Trump did not “have the votes.” Three Republicans had publicly declared their opposition to the latest Republican health plan, and there was no sign any of them were budging. “If there were 50 votes, we’d be voting,” senior Republican senator John Thune told Politico in response to Trump’s claim.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times  

“Obamacare is a disaster. It’s virtually dead. As far as I’m concerned, it really is dead.”

Source: Joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

in fact: We allow Trump rhetorical license to call Obamacare “collapsing” and even “exploding,” though experts say neither is true. But it is plainly false to say the law is “dead” or “virtually dead.” While its marketplaces have problems, they are still functioning and providing insurance to millions; so is its Medicaid expansion.

Trump has repeated this claim 33 times

 

Trump’s Plan to Deny Green Cards to People on Medicaid or Food Stamps Is a Full-Blown Attack on the Immigrant Poor

September 26, 2018

by Natasha Lennard

The Intercept

Over the weekend, the Trump administration announced new and cruel immigration rules. The rules will not produce the visceral horrors of caged children, but threaten to imperil the well-being — indeed, the lives — of thousands of immigrants in this country. The proposal, which does not need congressional approval, will make it harder for legal immigrants to obtain new visas or green cards if they use, or have used, public benefits, including food aid and Medicaid.

As with the draconian “zero-tolerance” policies President Donald Trump imposed on the border, the administration is presenting this latest assault as merely an extension and thorough application of existing legislation. But the proposal is one of the most radical overhauls in immigration standards in decades. It makes clear that, for this administration, immigration policy is a matter of white supremacist social engineering aimed at excluding and decimating poor, predominantly nonwhite immigrants. Even those who have followed every U.S. law — people here with full legal authorization, abiding by all criminal statutes — are now at risk for having used social services to which they are entitled.

The plan functions by dramatically expanding the category of “public charge,” a concept that has been a part of immigration determinations since 1882, when the Immigration Act enshrined the exclusion of “undesirables” as a tenet of U.S. immigration policy. If a person is a “public charge” or deemed likely to be a “public charge” by the immigration authorities, that person can be denied temporary visas and permanent resident status.

This restriction is not new and has always relied on problematic notions of undeserving immigrants draining American resources. That premise itself is belied by heaps of statistics showing that — in almost every way, whether economically, culturally, or socially — immigrants contribute dramatically more to American society than they draw from its resources.

What has changed is the definition of a “public charge.” For decades, the classification has been narrow: Under current law, established since 1999, an immigrant is only a “public charge” if they receive most of their income from state assistance or live long term in an institution funded by the government. Health and food benefit programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) have never before come into consideration.

Under the new rules, crafted by the impossibly villainous White House adviser Stephen Miller, low-income immigrants may be forced to choose between health care and food provisions, on the one hand, and the ability to live and work with authorization in the U.S., on the other. Current legal immigrants seeking change or renewal of immigration status, as well as those applying to move to the U.S. from abroad, will both be assessed for their potential to become “public charges” by these new, harsh standards.

The new system will thus punish individuals for making use of public benefits, even in the past, to which they were and are legally entitled, and never before would have disqualified them from remaining in the country.

“This is Trump’s new evil plan to keep separating families. He’s forcing parents to choose between keeping their children healthy or keeping their family together,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, political director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. “He’s willing to risk a national health crisis and putting our children at risk of diseases and malnutrition just to attack immigrant parents. That’s how evil Trump is.” Latinx families, as well as disabled immigrants, are particularly vulnerable to the new rules.

Morales told The Intercept that even though the proposal has not yet been put into effect, it is already functioning to scare immigrants out of seeking health and food assistance. “Like Laura, one of our leaders from Colorado, who recently got divorced and needed as much help she could get to start a new life with her three children,” Morales said. “She didn’t apply for any of the benefits they are eligible to because she fears it will kill her only option to become a resident, so she has had to struggle even harder to support her kids on low-paying jobs.”

Jackie Vimo, a policy analyst with the National Immigration Law Center, told The Intercept that the proposed rules have already begun working by spreading fear, even before official publication. “I am hearing stories of women returning breast pumps to WIC” — a public assistance program for women and infants — “and disenrolling from Medicaid for cancer treatments because they are worried these things could impact the green card application of a spouse, child, or other family member,” Vimo said in an email. “Early drafts of this proposal were leaked to the press in early 2017, and the rumors about the anticipated rule have spread fear in immigrant communities across the nation.”

The announcement of the new rule on the Department of Homeland Security website stated that it “promotes self-sufficiency and protects American taxpayers,” bartering in historically pernicious tropes about “welfare” and worthiness. Meanwhile, in the published draft of the proposal itself, the DHS admits that that the plan could promote, among other ills, “worse health outcomes, including increased prevalence of obesity and malnutrition, especially for pregnant or breastfeeding women, infants, or children,” “increased rates of housing instability,” and “increased poverty.”

There’s no inconsistency in the government citing these risks and trumpeting their plan nonetheless: Risks to the immigrant poor are a feature, not a bug. The knock-on negative effects to the citizen population — 10.4 million children who are citizens live with at least one immigrant parent — are secondary to an administration driven by white supremacy.

The announced proposal is less extreme than previous drafts, leaked earlier this year, which included even more benefits to count toward disqualifying “public charge” status and would have applied to the use of benefits like Medicaid and food stamps for U.S.-born children of immigrants. Previous drafts also sought to include current green card holders seeking citizenship or green card renewals. (Having myself relied on Medicaid for a short time as a green card holder, I can attest to the fear: These draft proposals induced panicked tears.) And while not everything on Miller’s wish list has made it to the final proposal, what remains will devastate the lives of tens of thousands of immigrants and their families.

DHS said that the proposed rules will be published in the Federal Register in “a few weeks,” at which point they will be open for public comment for 60 days. These comments will allegedly each be considered before the plan is implemented. As with the family separation policy, this proposal is deserving the utmost public opprobrium and resistance.

The history of the “public charge” category is a dark one; it is a malleable designation that has been long been molded to suit shifting iterations of racist immigration policy. As Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, noted in a statement, “It was abused in the past to keep out Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, Irish Catholics, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and unmarried women, among others.” Little wonder the Trump administration is deploying the same tool in its ongoing mission of ethnic cleansing.

 

The Path to World War III

Risky Israeli behavior threatens everyone

September 25, 2018

by Philip Giraldi

The Unz Reiew

The minimal U.S. press coverage accorded to last Monday’s shooting down of a Russian intelligence plane off the coast of Syria is, of course, a reflection both of lack of interest and of Israel’s involvement in the incident. If one had read the New York Times or the Washington Post on the morning after the shoot-down or watched the morning network news it would have been easy to miss the story altogether. The corporate media’s desire to sustain established foreign policy narratives while also protecting Israel at all costs is as much a feature of American television news as are the once every five minutes commercials from big pharma urging the public to take medications for diseases that no one has ever heard of.

Israel is, of course, claiming innocence, that it was the Syrians who shot down the Russian aircraft while the Israeli jets were legitimately targeting a Syrian army facility “from which weapons-manufacturing systems were supposed to be transferred to Iran and Hezbollah.” Seeking to undo some of the damage caused, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express his condolences. He also sent his air force chief to Russia on Thursday to provide a detailed report on what had occurred from the Israeli perspective.

But that story, however it will be spun, is inevitably only part of the tale. The narrative of what occurred is by now well established. The Russian aircraft was returning to base after a mission over the Mediterranean off the Syrian coast monitoring the activities of a French warship and at least one British RAF plane. As a large and relatively slow propeller driven aircraft on a routine intelligence gathering mission, the Ilyushin 20 had no reason to conceal its presence. It was apparently preparing to land at its airbase at Khmeimim in Syria when the incident took place. It may or may not have had its transponder on, which would signal to the Syrian air defenses that it was a “friendly.”

Syrian air defenses were on high alert because Israel had attacked targets near Damascus on the previous day. On that occasion a Boeing 747 on the ground that Israel claimed was transporting weapons was the target. One should note in passing that Israeli claims about what it is targeting in Syria are never independently verifiable.

The Israelis for their part were using four F-16 fighter bombers to stage a surprise night attack on several sites near Latakia, close to the airbase being used by the Russians. They came in from the Mediterranean Sea and clearly were using the Russian plane to mask their approach as the Ilyushin 20 would have presented a much larger radar profile for the air defenses. The radar systems on the F-16s would also have clearly seen the Russian plane.

The Israelis might have been expecting that the Syrians would not fire at all at the incoming planes knowing that one of them at least was being flown by their Russian allies. If that was the expectation, it proved wrong and it was indeed a Syrian S-200 ground to air missile directed by its guidance system to the larger target that brought down the plane and killed its fourteen crew members. The Israelis completed their bombing run and flew back home. There were also reports that the French frigate offshore fired several missiles during the exchange, but they have not been confirmed while the British plane was also reportedly circling out of range though within the general area.

There was also a back story. The Israelis and Russian military had established a hotline, similar to the one that is used with the U.S. command in Syria, precisely intended to avoid incidents like the Ilyushin shoot-down that might escalate into a more major conflict. Israel reportedly used the line but only one minute before the incident took place, leaving no time for the Russian plane to take evasive action.

The Russian Ministry of Defense was irate. It saw the exploitation of the intelligence plane by the Israelis as a deliberate high-risk initiative. It warned “We consider these provocative actions by Israel as hostile. Fifteen Russian military service members have died because of the irresponsible actions of the Israeli military. This is absolutely contrary to the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership. We reserve the right for an adequate response.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin was more conciliatory, saying the incident was a “chain of tragic circumstances.” He contrasted it with the Turkish shoot-down of a Russian warplane in 2015, which was planned and deliberate, noting that Israel had not actually attacked the Ilyushin. Though the Putin comments clearly recognize that his country’s relationship with Israel is delicate to say the least, that does not mean that he will do nothing.

Many Israelis are emigres from Russia and there are close ties between the two countries, but their views on Syria diverge considerably. As much as Putin might like to strike back at Israel in a hard, substantive way, he will likely only upgrade and strengthen the air defenses around Russian troop concentrations and warn that another “surprise” attack will be resisted. Unfortunately, he knows that he is substantially outgunned locally by the U.S., France, Britain and Israel, not to mention Turkey, and a violent response that would escalate the conflict is not in his interest. He has similarly, in cooperation with his Syrian allies, delayed a major attempt to retake terrorist controlled Idlib province, as he works out a formula with Ankara to prevent heavy handed Turkish intervention.

But there is another dimension to the story that the international media has largely chosen to ignore. And that is that Israel is now carrying out almost daily air attacks on Syria, over 200 in the past 18 months, a country with which it is not at war and which has not attacked it or threatened it in any way. It justifies the attacks by claiming that they are directed against Iran or Hezbollah, not at Syria itself. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that any peace settlement in Syria include the complete removal of Iranians, a demand that has also been repeated by the United States, which is also calling for the end to the Bashar al-Assad government and its replacement by something more “democratic.”

Aggressive war directed at a non-threatening country is the ultimate war crime as defined by the Nuremberg Tribunals that followed after the Second World War, yet the United States and its poodles Britain and France have not so much as squeaked when Israel kills civilians and soldiers in its surprise attacks against targets that it alone frequently claims to be linked to the Iranians. Washington would not be in much of a position to cast the first stone anyway, as it is in Syria illegally, bombs targets regularly, to include two major cruise missile strikes, and, on at least one occasion, set a trap that reportedly succeeded in killing a large number of Russian mercenaries fighting on the Syrian government side.

And then there is the other dimension of Israeli interference with its neighbors, the secret wars in which it supports the terrorist groups operating in Syria as well as in Iran. The Netanyahu government has armed the terrorists operating in Syria and even treated them in Israeli hospitals when they get wounded. On one occasion when ISIS accidentally fired into Israeli-held territory on the Golan Heights it subsequently apologized. So, if you ask who is supporting terrorism the answer first and foremost should be Israel, but Israel pays no price for doing so because of the protection afforded by Washington, which, by the way, is also protecting terrorists.

There is, of course, an alternative explanation for the Israeli action. Netanyahu might have considered it all a win-win either way, with the Russian plane masking and enabling the Israeli attack without consequence for Israel or, perversely, producing an incident inviting retaliation from Moscow, which would likely lead to a shooting war with the United States after it inevitably steps in to support Israel’s government. In either case, the chaos in Syria that Israel desires would continue and even worsen but there would also be the potential danger of a possible expansion of the war as a consequence, making it regional or even broader.

It’s the same old story. Israel does risky things like attacking its neighbors because it knows it will pay no price due to Washington’s support. The downing of the Russian plane through Israeli contrivance created a situation that could easily have escalated into a war involving Moscow and Washington. What Israel is really thinking when it seeks to create anarchy all around its borders is anyone’s guess, but it is, to be sure, in no one’s interest to allow the process to continue. It is past time for Donald Trump to fulfill his campaign promise to pull the plug on American engagement in Syria and terminate the seemingly endless cycle of wars in the Middle East.

 

Trump is risking more than a war of words with Iran

The president’s fatal ignorance could result in a conflict much bigger than any convenient crisis manufactured for the midterms

September 26, 2018

by Simon Tisdall

The Guardian

Despite the giggles that greeted Donald Trump at the UN this week, the threats and insults he hurled at Iran are no laughing matter. The US president is pursuing a deliberate, premeditated and high-risk campaign to provoke, intimidate and ultimately overthrow the Tehran regime.

His verbal assaults are matched by damaging US sanctions that hurt ordinary Iranians and will culminate in November with a global embargo on Iran’s crucial oil exports. At that point, Iran’s hardliners, more or less restrained until now by President Hassan Rouhani, may take matters into their own hands. The dire prospect of direct armed confrontation in the Gulf is increasing by the day.

Ever since he repudiated the multilateral deal limiting Iran’s nuclear activities, which was backed by the UK, the EU, China and Russia in 2015, Trump has been gunning for Iran, while at the same time trying to justify his destructive behaviour. He claimed Iran was in breach of its obligations – a claim roundly rebuffed by the IAEA nuclear watchdog. He declared, without evidence, that his pressure tactics were changing regime behaviour in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. Now, frustrated by Iran’s entirely predictable refusal to sue for peace, he is upping the ante, accusing its leaders on Tuesday of sowing “chaos, death and disruption”.

Trump denies, in public, that he is plotting regime change. But others, such as John Bolton, his national security adviser and Iraq war hawk, are more candid. “America’s declared policy should be ending Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution before its 40th anniversary,” Bolton wrote in January. Speaking to Fox News, he said: “Our goal should be regime change in Iran.” Bolton weighed in again after Trump spoke in New York. “Let my message today [to Iran] be clear: we are watching, and we will come after you. If you cross us … there will indeed be hell to pay.”

Trump, a novice in international affairs, has undoubtedly bought into the simplistic anti-Iran narrative peddled by Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s hawkish prime minister, and some US-based supporters of Israel. Netanyahu routinely portrays Iran as an existential threat to his country, and has advocated military action in the past. Trump’s new comrades-in-arms in the Saudi royal family and other Sunni Muslim Gulf monarchies have also won his unthinking support for their age-old, region-wide struggle for influence with Shia Tehran.

But there are other factors in play. Like Netanyahu, Trump may see political advantages in playing up the Iranian “menace”. His UN speech, bragging of his achievements, was aimed more at a domestic than an international audience. Trump certainly had November’s congressional midterm elections in mind, since victory for the Democrats potentially threatens his presidency. The springing of an “October surprise” is an old tradition in US electoral politics. If things are going badly, Trump is not above manufacturing an international crisis next month to rally the country behind his shabby banner. Iran is being set up as target of choice.

Trump’s boundless ego is another negative element influencing events. Naively, he seems to believe Rouhani or even Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, can be brought to the negotiating table under duress – and then convinced to mend their ways by his unsurpassed personal charm, as with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Yet there is no real parallel with Kim who, working from an infinitely weaker position, deftly exploited Trump’s vanity in Singapore last summer. Such thinking betrays, in any case, a fatal ignorance of Iranian history, character and political culture.

Nor will self-interested American exhortations to the Iranian people to rise up against the regime succeed. There is plenty of evidence of corruption and economic discontent across the country. Iran’s eccentric political system is deeply flawed. Its actions in Syria and Yemen are aggressive and wrong. Iranians undoubtedly deserve a more accountable, less repressive government. But they will not mount a second revolution at Washington’s bidding, simply to satisfy Trump’s insincere, half-baked ideas about freedom and democracy.

The dangers inherent in Trump’s crude pressure tactics were dramatically illustrated following last weekend’s terrorist attack on the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Ahvaz, in south-west Iran. There is a long history of separatist agitation among Khuzestan’s Sunni Arab minority. A local group claimed responsibility for the attack. But thanks to current tensions, the incident quickly blew up into an international incident, with Iran, the US, the Saudis and others across the region swapping accusations of blame. If Rouhani had not been on his way to New York, the Revolutionary Guards might have already launched a revenge attack. They are still threatening to do so.

So imagine the danger if, when the US embargoes Iranian oil, the IRGC attempts to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation, as it has threatened to do, or Iran’s allies in Yemen fire missiles at Saudi tankers in the Red Sea, as has happened recently. The US naval base in Bahrain could also be a target. What will the armchair warriors Trump and Bolton do then? Given their reckless posturing to date, they would have little alternative but to respond with force. There is, after all, no direct diplomatic route, no way of talking reasonably. Their idiotic behaviour has seen to that.

On the Iran question, the US has alienated European friends and Russian and Chinese rivals alike, spurning their advice and threatening their trade. Trump is busy burning bridges, not building them. Unless something changes soon, by accident or by design, he will have his war.

 

OPEC won’t react to Trump’s threats, pushing Brent crude oil prices higher

September 24, 2018

by Nicholas Sakelaris

UPI

OPEC, Russia and other countries ignored U.S. calls to increase crude oil production, sparking a Monday rally that saw Brent futures soar past the $80 mark.

Brent futures were trading at $80.48 a barrel at noon Monday, up $2.24. That’s the highest price for Brent since it touched $80 a barrel briefly in May. The last time prices were sustained at that level was 2014.

“This is the oil market’s response to the ‘OPEC+’ group’s refusal to step up its oil production,” analysts at Commerzbank said Monday.

Leaders from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries joined leaders from Russia and other countries in Algiers to talk about keeping the market well supplied. Few details about how much output could be increased or when were released.

It’s a tough balancing act with President Donald Trump calling for OPEC to increase production to push prices down.

Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said the oil market is balanced and that its partners have increased production in response to rising prices.

“Whatever takes place between now and the end of the year in terms of supply changes will be addressed,” al-Falih said. “The market is reasonably steady, and we should just be dynamic and responsive and responsible.”

Bank of America raised its average Brent crude oil price forecast for 2019 from $75 a barrel to $80 a barrel Monday. That accounts for U.S. sanctions on Iran, which could wipe out 1 million barrels a day from the world market. The sanctions go into effect Nov. 5.

Venezuela could be the next country to see increased sanctions.

Iran threatens U.S., Saudi Arabia after attack

Saturday’s terrorist attack on a military parade in Iran could have larger implications on Middle East stability and oil prices, experts say.

“We believe that Saturday’s terrorist attack in Iran could prove to be the weekend’s more consequential event as it will likely exacerbate the already dangerous Middle East antagonisms,” Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, said Sunday.

Four gunmen ambushed a military parade Saturday, killing 29 people and injuring 70. The four attackers were killed. The victims included military personnel and civilians.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blames U.S. allies in the region and promised “deadly and unforgettable revenge.” There’s concern that a larger war could break out.

“We also contend that the risk of a destabilizing clash will only grow as Iran comes to feel the full effects of economic sanctions that are designed to radically alter the behavior of the ruling regime, if not change it,” Croft said.

U.S. officials have said they do not intend to change the Iranian regime.

U.S. crude oil exports are down

U.S. crude oil production set a new record over the summer producing 10.8 million barrels per day. But the American Petroleum Institute points out that during that time, exports fell 1.3 million barrels per day.

The U.S. trade balance between imports and exports widened during that time, with net imports reaching 4.54 million barrels per day in August, up 56 percent from two months prior.

API has been critical of Trump’s trade war because it limits U.S. access to crude oil export markets and hinders the U.S. goal of energy dominance.

“Placing constraints on exports of American-made energy works against America’s energy future,” said API Chief Economist Dean Foreman. “As we produce more energy here at home, the U.S. needs markets for its products in order for our economy to continue to grow.”

 

Turkey will continue buying gas from Iran despite US sanctions – Erdogan

September 26, 2018

RT

Ankara plans to stay committed to its long-term energy-supply deal with Tehran despite Washington’s threats to punish countries that do business with Iran, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

“We need to be realistic… Am I supposed to let people freeze in winter?… Nobody should be offended. How can I heat my people’s homes if we stop purchasing Iran’s natural gas?” Erdogan said in an exclusive interview with Reuters.

He said that there were similar situations with Iranian gas imports during the presidency of Barack Obama. At the moment, Turkey is buying 50 percent of its gas from Russia, with the rest imported from Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Algeria.

The Turkish president explained that, in terms of energy supplies, the country “will act in accordance with internal needs.”

Turkey gets 40 percent of its electricity from natural gas. It is dependent on imports for almost all of its energy needs and Iran is a key supplier of Ankara’s natural gas and oil purchases. According to Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Donmez, the country’s natural gas contract expires in 2026. Under the agreement, Ankara is set to buy 9.5 billion cubic meters of gas from Tehran.

The US has re-imposed sanctions against Iran after unilaterally withdrawing from the international agreement reached in 2015, which curtailed the country’s nuclear program. The new round of sanctions against Iran’s oil industry is expected to come into force on November 4. The White House also threatened secondary sanctions on any countries or companies that conduct transactions with Iran.

So far, the tough measures have reportedly forced Japanese refiners to stop buying Iranian crude. China’s oil imports from Iran reportedly plunged by around 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) in August compared to a month earlier, though Beijing signaled its intent to keep buying. At the same time, India’s imports dropped by 400,000 bpd.

 

Iran says Trump should stop interfering in Middle East if he wants cheap oil

September 26, 2018

Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump should stop interfering in the Middle East if he wants the price of oil to stop rising, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

“Mr Trump is trying to seriously reduce exports of Iran’s oil and also ensure the price of oil does not go up, but these two cannot happen together,” Zanganeh said, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency.

“If he wants the price of oil not to go up and the market not to get destabilized, he should stop unwarranted and disruptive interference in the Middle East and not be an obstacle to the production and export of Iran’s oil.”

Trump, not the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, is behind the recent rise in prices, Zanganeh said.

“Trump blames OPEC for what he has created and caused: the rise of the price of oil and disturbance in the market.”

OPEC members do not have the capacity to increase production, Zanganeh said.

In a speech at the United Nations on Tuesday, Trump reiterated calls on OPEC to pump more oil and stop raising prices. He also accused Iran of sowing chaos and promised further sanctions on the country.

The United States will apply sanctions to halt oil exports from Iran, the third-largest producer in OPEC, starting on Nov. 4. The pending loss of Iranian supply has been a major factor in the recent surge in crude prices.

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Dale Hudson

 

Donald Trump is unlikely to forgive the laughter of the UN

The US president is accustomed to addressing diehard supporters, so the derision of his fellow leaders came as a surprise

September 26, 2017

by Julian Borger at the United Nations

The Guardian

Donald Trump is accustomed to addressing diehard supporters at rallies. His press conferences are rare and tightly controlled. So the open derision of his fellow leaders at the UN general assembly clearly came as a surprise.

He insisted he was “OK” with the mirthful reaction to his claims of historic achievements, but he was clearly not OK. Trump is said never to forgive or forget those who laugh at him, so this second outing at the UN podium is unlikely to end well for his administration’s already ambivalent relations with the global body.

Trump made an entrance – nearly half an hour later than his allotted time – determined to trash everything the UN stands for. The president explicitly rejected “the ideology of globalism” in globalism’s high temple and proposed in its place the “doctrine of patriotism”.

While most leaders have used their time on the UN stage to list the agreements they have made, the protocols agreed and treaties signed, Trump clearly delighted in telling the world how many such pieces of paper he had ripped up.

The lead writer of the speech was reportedly Stephen Miller, now the primary bridge between the White House and the American far right. It showed. The address was a manifesto for nativism.

Any remaining pretense of altruism was stripped away from this vision of US foreign policy, and in its place was a strong tinge of resentment and self-pity.

Trump observed that the US was the world’s biggest aid donor, “but few give anything to us”.

“Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends,” he warned.

Trump read out a list of friends, and it was an unusual assortment, reflecting his personal relationships of the moment, rather than longstanding US alliances.

Kim Jong-un, the world’s most absolute dictator, was awarded the first shoutout, the latest instalment in his reward for the spectacular theatre he helped stage at the two leaders’ June summit in Singapore.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who have also cultivated Trump and his immediate family since before he took office, were also lauded for their contributions to the aid funds for Yemen. Their role in the bombing of Yemeni cities and their human rights records at home went unremarked.

The only European ally to merit praise was Poland, whose president, Andrzej Duda, had this month visited Trump at the White House and showered him with praise, even offering to name a future US military base on Polish soil “Fort Trump”.

The central villain of Trump’s narrative was Iran and its government, which he depicted as the principal architect of the Syrian war. But even in the case of Tehran, the president left open a door to redemption, tweeting in the dawn hours before his UN appearance that he was sure that the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, was in fact “an absolutely lovely man”.

The clear message was that if Rouhani was to follow the path taken by Kim, to meet and pay homage to Trump, Iran could escape the isolation the US administration is now trying to reimpose.

The approach reflected a misunderstanding of the deep differences between North Korea and Iran, a far less monolithic system with genuinely democratic elements where Rouhani is not even the most powerful figure.

However, Trump’s speech was not aimed at coherence. His message was an appeal to the gut. The “doctrine of patriotism” was a misty-eyed paean to national chauvinism. It presented the nation state as the “only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured or peace has ever prospered”. And it was nationalist passion alone that inspired “scientific breakthroughs, and magnificent works of art”.

His fellow leaders may have chuckled, but Trump’s words were intended for another audience: his core supporters who despise the UN and all it represents. They are as determined as their hero to wipe the smiles off the faces of the “globalist” enemy.

 

 

September 16, 2018

by Christian Jürs

The policy of the supporters of the very pro-Trump far right groups is to exacerbate latent racism in the United States to the point where public violence erupts and the political polarization of the public becomes manifest. By encouraging and arming the far right and neo nazi groups, the Scavenius group is laying the groundwork for an acceptable and militant government reaction, the institution of draconian control over the entire population and the rationale for national and official government control, all in the name of law and order. It is planned that the far right and neo nazi groups be taken into the law enforcement structure and used to put down any public demonstrations that the government deems to be a potential threat to their policies.

Who are these groups? Here is a listing of only some of them:

  • ACT for America
  • Alliance Defending Freedom
  • America’s Promise Ministries
  • American Border Patrol/American Patrol
  • American Family Association
  • American Freedom Party
  • American Renaissance
  • Aryan Brotherhood
  • Aryan Brotherhood of Texas
  • Aryan Nations
  • Blood & Honor
  • Brotherhood of Klans
  • Center for Security Policy
  • Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
  • The Creativity Movement
  • The Sovereign Citizen Movement of the US and Canada
  • The Dominonist Movement of America
  • National Alliance
  • National Coalition for Immigration Reform
  • National Socialist Movement
  • National Vanguard
  • Oath Keepers
  • Stormfront
  • The Aryan Terror Brigade.
  • The neo-Confederate League of the South.
  • Traditionalist Worker Party
  • White Revolution
  • The Path to World War III
  • Trump is risking more than a war of words with Iran
  • OPEC won’t react to Trump’s threats, pushing Brent crude oil prices higher
  • Turkey will continue buying gas from Iran despite US sanctions – Erdogan
  • Iran says Trump should stop interfering in Middle East if he wants cheap oil
  • Donald Trump is unlikely to forgive the laughter of the UN
  • Firm support of Trump’s very far right policies

 

 

 

 

 

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 32

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

 

  • Oct 16, 2017

 

“You look at other countries, what they’ve done — and we’re competing with other countries. When China is at 15 per cent.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: China has a business tax rate of 25 per cent. It offers a 15 per cent rate only to certain firms, mostly in the high-tech sector, in about 20 particular cities. Trump is wrong to suggest that 15 per cent is China’s general business rate, the equivalent to the 35 per cent U.S. rate.

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

 

“When I hear that Ireland is going to be reducing their cooperate rates down to 8 per cent from 12…”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: Ireland has no plans to slash its 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate. “I can confirm that President Trump’s claim that we are proposing to reduce our corporation profit tax to 8 per cent is indeed fake news. There is no such plan to do so,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.

 

“We are getting close to health care. We’ll come up in the early to mid part of next year. We’re going to have a vote; I think we already have the votes.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: Trump did not “have the votes.” Three Republicans had publicly declared their opposition to the latest Republican health plan, and there was no sign any of them were budging. “If there were 50 votes, we’d be voting,” senior Republican senator John Thune told Politico in response to Trump’s claim.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

 

“I was very honoured to see a man that I’ve had a lot of respect for, James Lee Witt, of the Clinton administration — the head of FEMA. He gave us an A+; I just see — it just came out. And I’ve always had respect for him. He gave us — he’s the FEMA director of the Clinton administration — gave us an A+ for how we responded to the hurricane aftermath — all of the hurricanes. And that includes Puerto Rico.” And: “Well, that’s according to the Clinton administration’s head of FEMA, it’s been outstanding.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: Witt was not talking about Puerto Rico, as he explained in a statement after Trump made this claim. “Shortly after the initial responses to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Florida and Texas, I was asked if I would give the Trump Administration and FEMA an A+ for those responses. I said I would, on both hurricanes. This was prior to hurricane Maria in Puerto Rica and the Virgin Islands. Even today it is yet to be determined whether the ultimate response to that hurricane will get an A, C or F or something else. As time goes by that will become apparent,” he said.

 

“We’re the highest-taxed country in the world.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

 

“So, the traditional way — if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls (to the families of fallen soldiers), a lot of them didn’t make calls.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: Obama sometimes made calls to these families, former aides said, and he always sent letters. Challenged on this claim later in the news conference, Trump admitted that he had been speaking without evidence. “President Obama I think probably did sometimes,” he conceded, “and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know. That’s what I was told. All I can do — all I can do is ask my generals.”

 

“Well, let me just explain what’s different. We have nominations pending right now, and we have 182 approved…So you look at even Bush, you look at Obama, you look at Clinton, and you look at Bush original, you have 389 versus 182 — these are approvals. You look at Clinton, 357 versus 182. You look at President Obama, 364 versus 182. These are nominations approved.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: Trump’s numbers were not hugely inaccurate, but they were not quite accurate either. The Partnership for Public Service and Washington Post keep track of Trump nominations; as FactCheck.org reported, on the day Trump spoke, he had 174 confirmed nominees, not 182. Clinton had 340, not 357. Obama had 359, not 364. It was not exactly clear which Bush Trump was talking about, but neither had 389 — George H.W. Bush had 293 and George W. Bush had 375.

 

“Because I have companies moving into this country — you saw what happened with the automobile industry last week with five major plants. We have companies pouring back into this country for the first time in anybody’s memory.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: It is not the first time in anybody’s memory that auto companies are investing in U.S. plants: these firms also announced new U.S. plants and other hefty U.S. investments during the Obama era. In 2015, for example, Volvo announced that it would open its first U.S. car plant, in South Carolina. During the Obama era, auto companies also poured money into expansions and improvements of their existing U.S. plants. For example, GM announced in 2013 that it would invest $1.2 billion to upgrade an Indiana truck plant, while Ford announced in 2015 that it would invest $1.3 billion to upgrade a Kentucky truck plant.

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

 

“They (Democrats) should always be able to win in the Electoral College, but they were unable to do it.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: Trump’s claim about the Electoral College continues to be nonsensical. It is obviously false that Democrats should always be able to win the presidency.

Trump has repeated this claim 17 times

 

“So there has been absolutely no collusion. It’s been stated that they have no collusion.”

Source: Press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

in fact: While Trump has certainly stated this, he is wrong to imply it has been stated by any investigator. Earlier in the month, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a Republican, said: “There are concerns that we continue to pursue. Collusion: the committee continues to look into all evidence to see if there was any hint of collusion.”

Trump has repeated this claim 18 times

 

“Because Obamacare is finished. It’s dead. It’s gone. It’s no longer — you shouldn’t even mention. It’s gone. There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore.”

Source: Remarks at Cabinet meeting

in fact: We allow Trump rhetorical license to call Obamacare “collapsing” and even “exploding,” though experts say neither is true. But it is plainly false to say the law is “dead” or “gone,” or that there is “no such thing as Obamacare anymore.” It very much exists; while its marketplaces have problems, they are still functioning and providing insurance to millions; so is its Medicaid expansion.

Trump has repeated this claim 33 times

 

“We’re one of the highest-taxed nations in the world right now, costing us millions of jobs and trillions and trillions of dollars.”

Source: Remarks at Cabinet meeting

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

 

  • Oct 17, 2017

 

“Any increase in ObamaCare premiums is the fault of the Democrats for giving us a ‘product’ that never had a chance of working.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump is entitled to his general opinion on Obamacare. As a factual matter, however, it is not true that all upcoming Obamacare premium increases are the fault of Democrats. The independent Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation found in September that Trump’s threats to Obamacare subsidies — which he ended a month later — would cause premiums to rise much faster than they would if Trump had simply left Obamacare alone. “In 2018, the agencies project, the average benchmark premium will be roughly 15 per cent higher than it was in 2017, largely because of short-term market uncertainty — in particular, insurers’ uncertainty about whether federal funding for certain subsidies that are currently available will continue to be provided — and an increase in the percentage of the population living in areas with only one insurer in the marketplace,” the agencies wrote. Various other Trump efforts to undermine Obamacare are also causing premiums to rise, according to numerous health policy experts.

 

“We haven’t lowered them since Ronald Reagan. I mean, it’s been many, many years since taxes went down. And it’s hard to believe.”

Source: Interview with SiriusXM Patriots’ David Webb

in fact: George W. Bush passed major tax cuts.

Trump has repeated this claim 11 times

 

“Every country is lowering their taxes but us.”

Source: Interview with SiriusXM Patriots’ David Webb

in fact: This is simply nonsense. Most countries are not currently cutting their tax rates.

 

“Right now we are the highest-taxed nation anywhere in the world. You can even say developed or undeveloped. We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world.”

Source: Interview with SiriusXM Patriots’ David Webb

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

 

“For the most part, to the best of my knowledge, I think I’ve called every family of somebody that’s died.” And: “I have called I believe everybody but certainly I’ll use the word virtually everybody.” And: “I can tell you my policy is I’ve called every one of them.”

Source: Radio interview with Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade

in fact: Trump had not called even close to all of the soldiers who had died during his tenure. The next day, his press secretary, Sarah Sanders, amended the claim, saying: “The President has made contact with all of the families that have been presented to him through the White House Military Office.” When a reporter noted that families told the Associated Press “they’ve not actually heard from this White House in any capacity,” Sanders simply said, “All of the individuals that the President has been presented with through the proper protocol have been contacted through that process.” Later in the week, as the controversy continued, families of late soldiers told the Atlantic magazine that they had just received their first word of any kind from the White House — a condolence letter sent via rush package delivery.

 

“We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world.”

Source: Radio interview with Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

 

“The big problem is we can’t really compete competitively when China’s at 15 per cent and we’re at 35 per cent.”

Source: Radio interview with WIBC’s Tony Katz

in fact: China has a business tax rate of 25 per cent. It offers a 15 per cent rate only to certain firms, mostly in the high-tech sector, in about 20 particular cities. Trump is wrong to suggest that 15 per cent is China’s general business rate, the equivalent to the 35 per cent U.S. rate.

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

 

“We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world.”

Source: Radio interview with WIBC’s Tony Katz

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

 

“Karen (Handel) is going to do a great job. She ended up winning by five or six points.”

Source: Radio interview with WIBC’s Tony Katz

in fact: Republican Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff by 3.6 points, 51.8 per cent to 48.2 per cent, in the special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. We’d let Trump round to four points, but not five or six.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

 

“I wish President Obama didn’t get out the way he got out. Because that left a vacuum and ISIS was formed.”

Source: Radio interview with WMAL’s Chris Plante

in fact: ISIS has roots dating back to the late 1990s. It became known as the Islamic State during the Bush administration, more than two years before Obama took office. While Trump can argue that Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq helped ISIS gain strength, it is false to say this is how ISIS “formed.”

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times  

 

“We’ve already hit 3.2 per cent.”

Source: Radio interview with WMAL’s Chris Plante

in fact: Second-quarter GDP growth was revised upward the previous month to 3.1 per cent, not 3.2 per cent.

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

 

“You look at other countries like Ireland and many other countries, they’re 8 per cent, 10 per cent, 12 per cent.”

Source: Radio interview with WMAL’s Chris Plante

in fact: Ireland’s rate is 12.5 per cent, so Trump is almost correct. But it is not true that “many other countries” have rates as low as 8 per cent. According to the Tax Foundation, only Uzbekistan (7.5 per cent) and Turkmenistan (8 per cent) had rates as low as 8 per cent in 2017. A mere 10 other small countries were at 10 per cent.

 

“You look at China, they’re at 15 per cent. We’re at 35 per cent.”

Source: Radio interview with WMAL’s Chris Plante

in fact: China has a business tax rate of 25 per cent. It offers a 15 per cent rate only to certain firms, mostly in the high-tech sector, in about 20 particular cities. Trump is wrong to suggest that 15 per cent is China’s general business rate, the equivalent to the 35 per cent U.S. rate.

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

 

“We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world.”

Source: Radio interview with WMAL’s Chris Plante

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

 

“By the way I can get back in (the Paris climate accord) any time I wanted to on a much better deal.”

Source: Radio interview with Mike Gallagher

in fact: Other major parties to the climate accord, including Germany and Canada, have called it “irreversible and non-negotiable.” Trump could try to force a renegotiation, but the process would be far harder than he claims here.

 

“That’s (47 per cent is) a very high number. In fact Obama got out at 46, I guess.”

Source: Radio interview with Mike Gallagher

in fact: Obama left office with a 62 per cent approval rating in that same Rasmussen poll.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

 

“Then I see polls come out. We had one come out today. Rasmussen. Forty-seven. Forty-six or 47. And you know, 47 you can’t lose.”

Source: Radio interview with Mike Gallagher

in fact: That day’s Rasmussen poll had Trump at 41 per cent approval, not 46 per cent or 47 per cent approval.

 

“We passed a lot of things for economic development.”

Source: Radio interview with Mike Gallagher

in fact: Trump has passed almost no bills to promote economic development, certainly no significant bills. He did sign the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, which “encourages” the National Science Foundation to support women’s initiatives, but that’s about it.

 

“We have almost a record number (of bills passed). It’s almost a record number. And it may be a record. But I always say almost, ’cause then they’ll check you and they’ll say, ‘You know, in 1824…Donald Trump isn’t telling the truth.'” And: “We have just about a record number of legislative approvals. Nobody knows that.”

Source: Radio interview with Mike Gallagher

in fact: Trump isn’t telling the truth, and you don’t have to go all the way back to 1824 to point that out. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who served from 1933 to 1945, signed 76 bills in his first 100 days, or just over three months — many of them major. As of the day Trump spoke, nine months into his term, the White House listed 58 bills Trump signed, including minor resolutions. (One is titled “Joint Resolution approving the location of a memorial to commemorate and honor the members of the Armed Forces who served on active duty in support of Operation Desert Storm or Operation Desert Shield.”)

Trump has repeated this claim 19 times

 

“We have way over 50 legislative approvals. Where we went through the Senate, where we went through the House. Nobody talks about it. They say we have none. They actually say we have none.”

Source: Radio interview with Mike Gallagher

in fact: Trump is mischaracterizing the claims of his opponents. They do not claim he has not passed a single bill of any kind. They argue that he has not passed any major bill.

 

“We’re going to get it. We have the votes (on health-care).”

Source: Radio interview with Mike Gallagher

in fact: Trump did not “have the votes.” Three Republicans had publicly declared their opposition to the latest Republican health plan, and there was no sign any of them were budging. “If there were 50 votes, we’d be voting,” senior Republican senator John Thune told Politico in response to Trump’s claim.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

 

“If you look at our trade deficits — massive trade deficits with virtually every country.”

Source: Joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

in fact: The U.S. has surpluses with more than half of all countries in merchandise trade, figures from the U.S. International Trade Commission show — and merchandise trade is a measure that doesn’t count the services trade at which the U.S. excels. Major countries with which the U.S. has a surplus in merchandise trade include Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Argentina, and the United Kingdom.

Trump has repeated this claim 21 times

 

“We feel we have the votes, and as soon as we’re finished with taxes, John — we really feel we have the votes to get block grants into the states, where the states can much better manage this money and much better take care of the people, rather than the federal government…So we feel we have the votes.”

Source: Joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

in fact: Trump did not “have the votes.” Three Republicans had publicly declared their opposition to the latest Republican health plan, and there was no sign any of them were budging. “If there were 50 votes, we’d be voting,” senior Republican senator John Thune told Politico in response to Trump’s claim.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times  

 

“Obamacare is a disaster. It’s virtually dead. As far as I’m concerned, it really is dead.”

Source: Joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

in fact: We allow Trump rhetorical license to call Obamacare “collapsing” and even “exploding,” though experts say neither is true. But it is plainly false to say the law is “dead” or “virtually dead.” While its marketplaces have problems, they are still functioning and providing insurance to millions; so is its Medicaid expansion.

Trump has repeated this claim 33 times

 

 

Trump’s Plan to Deny Green Cards to People on Medicaid or Food Stamps Is a Full-Blown Attack on the Immigrant Poor

September 26, 2018

by Natasha Lennard

The Intercept

Over the weekend, the Trump administration announced new and cruel immigration rules. The rules will not produce the visceral horrors of caged children, but threaten to imperil the well-being — indeed, the lives — of thousands of immigrants in this country. The proposal, which does not need congressional approval, will make it harder for legal immigrants to obtain new visas or green cards if they use, or have used, public benefits, including food aid and Medicaid.

As with the draconian “zero-tolerance” policies President Donald Trump imposed on the border, the administration is presenting this latest assault as merely an extension and thorough application of existing legislation. But the proposal is one of the most radical overhauls in immigration standards in decades. It makes clear that, for this administration, immigration policy is a matter of white supremacist social engineering aimed at excluding and decimating poor, predominantly nonwhite immigrants. Even those who have followed every U.S. law — people here with full legal authorization, abiding by all criminal statutes — are now at risk for having used social services to which they are entitled.

The plan functions by dramatically expanding the category of “public charge,” a concept that has been a part of immigration determinations since 1882, when the Immigration Act enshrined the exclusion of “undesirables” as a tenet of U.S. immigration policy. If a person is a “public charge” or deemed likely to be a “public charge” by the immigration authorities, that person can be denied temporary visas and permanent resident status.

This restriction is not new and has always relied on problematic notions of undeserving immigrants draining American resources. That premise itself is belied by heaps of statistics showing that — in almost every way, whether economically, culturally, or socially — immigrants contribute dramatically more to American society than they draw from its resources.

What has changed is the definition of a “public charge.” For decades, the classification has been narrow: Under current law, established since 1999, an immigrant is only a “public charge” if they receive most of their income from state assistance or live long term in an institution funded by the government. Health and food benefit programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) have never before come into consideration.

Under the new rules, crafted by the impossibly villainous White House adviser Stephen Miller, low-income immigrants may be forced to choose between health care and food provisions, on the one hand, and the ability to live and work with authorization in the U.S., on the other. Current legal immigrants seeking change or renewal of immigration status, as well as those applying to move to the U.S. from abroad, will both be assessed for their potential to become “public charges” by these new, harsh standards.

The new system will thus punish individuals for making use of public benefits, even in the past, to which they were and are legally entitled, and never before would have disqualified them from remaining in the country.

“This is Trump’s new evil plan to keep separating families. He’s forcing parents to choose between keeping their children healthy or keeping their family together,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, political director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. “He’s willing to risk a national health crisis and putting our children at risk of diseases and malnutrition just to attack immigrant parents. That’s how evil Trump is.” Latinx families, as well as disabled immigrants, are particularly vulnerable to the new rules.

Morales told The Intercept that even though the proposal has not yet been put into effect, it is already functioning to scare immigrants out of seeking health and food assistance. “Like Laura, one of our leaders from Colorado, who recently got divorced and needed as much help she could get to start a new life with her three children,” Morales said. “She didn’t apply for any of the benefits they are eligible to because she fears it will kill her only option to become a resident, so she has had to struggle even harder to support her kids on low-paying jobs.”

Jackie Vimo, a policy analyst with the National Immigration Law Center, told The Intercept that the proposed rules have already begun working by spreading fear, even before official publication. “I am hearing stories of women returning breast pumps to WIC” — a public assistance program for women and infants — “and disenrolling from Medicaid for cancer treatments because they are worried these things could impact the green card application of a spouse, child, or other family member,” Vimo said in an email. “Early drafts of this proposal were leaked to the press in early 2017, and the rumors about the anticipated rule have spread fear in immigrant communities across the nation.”

The announcement of the new rule on the Department of Homeland Security website stated that it “promotes self-sufficiency and protects American taxpayers,” bartering in historically pernicious tropes about “welfare” and worthiness. Meanwhile, in the published draft of the proposal itself, the DHS admits that that the plan could promote, among other ills, “worse health outcomes, including increased prevalence of obesity and malnutrition, especially for pregnant or breastfeeding women, infants, or children,” “increased rates of housing instability,” and “increased poverty.”

There’s no inconsistency in the government citing these risks and trumpeting their plan nonetheless: Risks to the immigrant poor are a feature, not a bug. The knock-on negative effects to the citizen population — 10.4 million children who are citizens live with at least one immigrant parent — are secondary to an administration driven by white supremacy.

The announced proposal is less extreme than previous drafts, leaked earlier this year, which included even more benefits to count toward disqualifying “public charge” status and would have applied to the use of benefits like Medicaid and food stamps for U.S.-born children of immigrants. Previous drafts also sought to include current green card holders seeking citizenship or green card renewals. (Having myself relied on Medicaid for a short time as a green card holder, I can attest to the fear: These draft proposals induced panicked tears.) And while not everything on Miller’s wish list has made it to the final proposal, what remains will devastate the lives of tens of thousands of immigrants and their families.

DHS said that the proposed rules will be published in the Federal Register in “a few weeks,” at which point they will be open for public comment for 60 days. These comments will allegedly each be considered before the plan is implemented. As with the family separation policy, this proposal is deserving the utmost public opprobrium and resistance.

The history of the “public charge” category is a dark one; it is a malleable designation that has been long been molded to suit shifting iterations of racist immigration policy. As Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, noted in a statement, “It was abused in the past to keep out Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, Irish Catholics, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and unmarried women, among others.” Little wonder the Trump administration is deploying the same tool in its ongoing mission of ethnic cleansing.

 

 

The Path to World War III

Risky Israeli behavior threatens everyone

September 25, 2018

by Philip Giraldi

The Unz Reiew

The minimal U.S. press coverage accorded to last Monday’s shooting down of a Russian intelligence plane off the coast of Syria is, of course, a reflection both of lack of interest and of Israel’s involvement in the incident. If one had read the New York Times or the Washington Post on the morning after the shoot-down or watched the morning network news it would have been easy to miss the story altogether. The corporate media’s desire to sustain established foreign policy narratives while also protecting Israel at all costs is as much a feature of American television news as are the once every five minutes commercials from big pharma urging the public to take medications for diseases that no one has ever heard of.

Israel is, of course, claiming innocence, that it was the Syrians who shot down the Russian aircraft while the Israeli jets were legitimately targeting a Syrian army facility “from which weapons-manufacturing systems were supposed to be transferred to Iran and Hezbollah.” Seeking to undo some of the damage caused, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express his condolences. He also sent his air force chief to Russia on Thursday to provide a detailed report on what had occurred from the Israeli perspective.

But that story, however it will be spun, is inevitably only part of the tale. The narrative of what occurred is by now well established. The Russian aircraft was returning to base after a mission over the Mediterranean off the Syrian coast monitoring the activities of a French warship and at least one British RAF plane. As a large and relatively slow propeller driven aircraft on a routine intelligence gathering mission, the Ilyushin 20 had no reason to conceal its presence. It was apparently preparing to land at its airbase at Khmeimim in Syria when the incident took place. It may or may not have had its transponder on, which would signal to the Syrian air defenses that it was a “friendly.”

Syrian air defenses were on high alert because Israel had attacked targets near Damascus on the previous day. On that occasion a Boeing 747 on the ground that Israel claimed was transporting weapons was the target. One should note in passing that Israeli claims about what it is targeting in Syria are never independently verifiable.

The Israelis for their part were using four F-16 fighter bombers to stage a surprise night attack on several sites near Latakia, close to the airbase being used by the Russians. They came in from the Mediterranean Sea and clearly were using the Russian plane to mask their approach as the Ilyushin 20 would have presented a much larger radar profile for the air defenses. The radar systems on the F-16s would also have clearly seen the Russian plane.

The Israelis might have been expecting that the Syrians would not fire at all at the incoming planes knowing that one of them at least was being flown by their Russian allies. If that was the expectation, it proved wrong and it was indeed a Syrian S-200 ground to air missile directed by its guidance system to the larger target that brought down the plane and killed its fourteen crew members. The Israelis completed their bombing run and flew back home. There were also reports that the French frigate offshore fired several missiles during the exchange, but they have not been confirmed while the British plane was also reportedly circling out of range though within the general area.

There was also a back story. The Israelis and Russian military had established a hotline, similar to the one that is used with the U.S. command in Syria, precisely intended to avoid incidents like the Ilyushin shoot-down that might escalate into a more major conflict. Israel reportedly used the line but only one minute before the incident took place, leaving no time for the Russian plane to take evasive action.

The Russian Ministry of Defense was irate. It saw the exploitation of the intelligence plane by the Israelis as a deliberate high-risk initiative. It warned “We consider these provocative actions by Israel as hostile. Fifteen Russian military service members have died because of the irresponsible actions of the Israeli military. This is absolutely contrary to the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership. We reserve the right for an adequate response.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin was more conciliatory, saying the incident was a “chain of tragic circumstances.” He contrasted it with the Turkish shoot-down of a Russian warplane in 2015, which was planned and deliberate, noting that Israel had not actually attacked the Ilyushin. Though the Putin comments clearly recognize that his country’s relationship with Israel is delicate to say the least, that does not mean that he will do nothing.

Many Israelis are emigres from Russia and there are close ties between the two countries, but their views on Syria diverge considerably. As much as Putin might like to strike back at Israel in a hard, substantive way, he will likely only upgrade and strengthen the air defenses around Russian troop concentrations and warn that another “surprise” attack will be resisted. Unfortunately, he knows that he is substantially outgunned locally by the U.S., France, Britain and Israel, not to mention Turkey, and a violent response that would escalate the conflict is not in his interest. He has similarly, in cooperation with his Syrian allies, delayed a major attempt to retake terrorist controlled Idlib province, as he works out a formula with Ankara to prevent heavy handed Turkish intervention.

But there is another dimension to the story that the international media has largely chosen to ignore. And that is that Israel is now carrying out almost daily air attacks on Syria, over 200 in the past 18 months, a country with which it is not at war and which has not attacked it or threatened it in any way. It justifies the attacks by claiming that they are directed against Iran or Hezbollah, not at Syria itself. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that any peace settlement in Syria include the complete removal of Iranians, a demand that has also been repeated by the United States, which is also calling for the end to the Bashar al-Assad government and its replacement by something more “democratic.”

Aggressive war directed at a non-threatening country is the ultimate war crime as defined by the Nuremberg Tribunals that followed after the Second World War, yet the United States and its poodles Britain and France have not so much as squeaked when Israel kills civilians and soldiers in its surprise attacks against targets that it alone frequently claims to be linked to the Iranians. Washington would not be in much of a position to cast the first stone anyway, as it is in Syria illegally, bombs targets regularly, to include two major cruise missile strikes, and, on at least one occasion, set a trap that reportedly succeeded in killing a large number of Russian mercenaries fighting on the Syrian government side.

And then there is the other dimension of Israeli interference with its neighbors, the secret wars in which it supports the terrorist groups operating in Syria as well as in Iran. The Netanyahu government has armed the terrorists operating in Syria and even treated them in Israeli hospitals when they get wounded. On one occasion when ISIS accidentally fired into Israeli-held territory on the Golan Heights it subsequently apologized. So, if you ask who is supporting terrorism the answer first and foremost should be Israel, but Israel pays no price for doing so because of the protection afforded by Washington, which, by the way, is also protecting terrorists.

There is, of course, an alternative explanation for the Israeli action. Netanyahu might have considered it all a win-win either way, with the Russian plane masking and enabling the Israeli attack without consequence for Israel or, perversely, producing an incident inviting retaliation from Moscow, which would likely lead to a shooting war with the United States after it inevitably steps in to support Israel’s government. In either case, the chaos in Syria that Israel desires would continue and even worsen but there would also be the potential danger of a possible expansion of the war as a consequence, making it regional or even broader.

It’s the same old story. Israel does risky things like attacking its neighbors because it knows it will pay no price due to Washington’s support. The downing of the Russian plane through Israeli contrivance created a situation that could easily have escalated into a war involving Moscow and Washington. What Israel is really thinking when it seeks to create anarchy all around its borders is anyone’s guess, but it is, to be sure, in no one’s interest to allow the process to continue. It is past time for Donald Trump to fulfill his campaign promise to pull the plug on American engagement in Syria and terminate the seemingly endless cycle of wars in the Middle East.

 

Trump is risking more than a war of words with Iran

The president’s fatal ignorance could result in a conflict much bigger than any convenient crisis manufactured for the midterms

September 26, 2018

by Simon Tisdall

The Guardian

Despite the giggles that greeted Donald Trump at the UN this week, the threats and insults he hurled at Iran are no laughing matter. The US president is pursuing a deliberate, premeditated and high-risk campaign to provoke, intimidate and ultimately overthrow the Tehran regime.

His verbal assaults are matched by damaging US sanctions that hurt ordinary Iranians and will culminate in November with a global embargo on Iran’s crucial oil exports. At that point, Iran’s hardliners, more or less restrained until now by President Hassan Rouhani, may take matters into their own hands. The dire prospect of direct armed confrontation in the Gulf is increasing by the day.

Ever since he repudiated the multilateral deal limiting Iran’s nuclear activities, which was backed by the UK, the EU, China and Russia in 2015, Trump has been gunning for Iran, while at the same time trying to justify his destructive behaviour. He claimed Iran was in breach of its obligations – a claim roundly rebuffed by the IAEA nuclear watchdog. He declared, without evidence, that his pressure tactics were changing regime behaviour in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. Now, frustrated by Iran’s entirely predictable refusal to sue for peace, he is upping the ante, accusing its leaders on Tuesday of sowing “chaos, death and disruption”.

Trump denies, in public, that he is plotting regime change. But others, such as John Bolton, his national security adviser and Iraq war hawk, are more candid. “America’s declared policy should be ending Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution before its 40th anniversary,” Bolton wrote in January. Speaking to Fox News, he said: “Our goal should be regime change in Iran.” Bolton weighed in again after Trump spoke in New York. “Let my message today [to Iran] be clear: we are watching, and we will come after you. If you cross us … there will indeed be hell to pay.”

Trump, a novice in international affairs, has undoubtedly bought into the simplistic anti-Iran narrative peddled by Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s hawkish prime minister, and some US-based supporters of Israel. Netanyahu routinely portrays Iran as an existential threat to his country, and has advocated military action in the past. Trump’s new comrades-in-arms in the Saudi royal family and other Sunni Muslim Gulf monarchies have also won his unthinking support for their age-old, region-wide struggle for influence with Shia Tehran.

But there are other factors in play. Like Netanyahu, Trump may see political advantages in playing up the Iranian “menace”. His UN speech, bragging of his achievements, was aimed more at a domestic than an international audience. Trump certainly had November’s congressional midterm elections in mind, since victory for the Democrats potentially threatens his presidency. The springing of an “October surprise” is an old tradition in US electoral politics. If things are going badly, Trump is not above manufacturing an international crisis next month to rally the country behind his shabby banner. Iran is being set up as target of choice.

Trump’s boundless ego is another negative element influencing events. Naively, he seems to believe Rouhani or even Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, can be brought to the negotiating table under duress – and then convinced to mend their ways by his unsurpassed personal charm, as with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Yet there is no real parallel with Kim who, working from an infinitely weaker position, deftly exploited Trump’s vanity in Singapore last summer. Such thinking betrays, in any case, a fatal ignorance of Iranian history, character and political culture.

Nor will self-interested American exhortations to the Iranian people to rise up against the regime succeed. There is plenty of evidence of corruption and economic discontent across the country. Iran’s eccentric political system is deeply flawed. Its actions in Syria and Yemen are aggressive and wrong. Iranians undoubtedly deserve a more accountable, less repressive government. But they will not mount a second revolution at Washington’s bidding, simply to satisfy Trump’s insincere, half-baked ideas about freedom and democracy.

The dangers inherent in Trump’s crude pressure tactics were dramatically illustrated following last weekend’s terrorist attack on the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Ahvaz, in south-west Iran. There is a long history of separatist agitation among Khuzestan’s Sunni Arab minority. A local group claimed responsibility for the attack. But thanks to current tensions, the incident quickly blew up into an international incident, with Iran, the US, the Saudis and others across the region swapping accusations of blame. If Rouhani had not been on his way to New York, the Revolutionary Guards might have already launched a revenge attack. They are still threatening to do so.

So imagine the danger if, when the US embargoes Iranian oil, the IRGC attempts to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation, as it has threatened to do, or Iran’s allies in Yemen fire missiles at Saudi tankers in the Red Sea, as has happened recently. The US naval base in Bahrain could also be a target. What will the armchair warriors Trump and Bolton do then? Given their reckless posturing to date, they would have little alternative but to respond with force. There is, after all, no direct diplomatic route, no way of talking reasonably. Their idiotic behaviour has seen to that.

On the Iran question, the US has alienated European friends and Russian and Chinese rivals alike, spurning their advice and threatening their trade. Trump is busy burning bridges, not building them. Unless something changes soon, by accident or by design, he will have his war.

 

OPEC won’t react to Trump’s threats, pushing Brent crude oil prices higher

September 24, 2018

by Nicholas Sakelaris

UPI

OPEC, Russia and other countries ignored U.S. calls to increase crude oil production, sparking a Monday rally that saw Brent futures soar past the $80 mark.

Brent futures were trading at $80.48 a barrel at noon Monday, up $2.24. That’s the highest price for Brent since it touched $80 a barrel briefly in May. The last time prices were sustained at that level was 2014.

“This is the oil market’s response to the ‘OPEC+’ group’s refusal to step up its oil production,” analysts at Commerzbank said Monday.

Leaders from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries joined leaders from Russia and other countries in Algiers to talk about keeping the market well supplied. Few details about how much output could be increased or when were released.

It’s a tough balancing act with President Donald Trump calling for OPEC to increase production to push prices down.

Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said the oil market is balanced and that its partners have increased production in response to rising prices.

“Whatever takes place between now and the end of the year in terms of supply changes will be addressed,” al-Falih said. “The market is reasonably steady, and we should just be dynamic and responsive and responsible.”

Bank of America raised its average Brent crude oil price forecast for 2019 from $75 a barrel to $80 a barrel Monday. That accounts for U.S. sanctions on Iran, which could wipe out 1 million barrels a day from the world market. The sanctions go into effect Nov. 5.

Venezuela could be the next country to see increased sanctions.

Iran threatens U.S., Saudi Arabia after attack

Saturday’s terrorist attack on a military parade in Iran could have larger implications on Middle East stability and oil prices, experts say.

“We believe that Saturday’s terrorist attack in Iran could prove to be the weekend’s more consequential event as it will likely exacerbate the already dangerous Middle East antagonisms,” Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, said Sunday.

Four gunmen ambushed a military parade Saturday, killing 29 people and injuring 70. The four attackers were killed. The victims included military personnel and civilians.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blames U.S. allies in the region and promised “deadly and unforgettable revenge.” There’s concern that a larger war could break out.

“We also contend that the risk of a destabilizing clash will only grow as Iran comes to feel the full effects of economic sanctions that are designed to radically alter the behavior of the ruling regime, if not change it,” Croft said.

U.S. officials have said they do not intend to change the Iranian regime.

U.S. crude oil exports are down

U.S. crude oil production set a new record over the summer producing 10.8 million barrels per day. But the American Petroleum Institute points out that during that time, exports fell 1.3 million barrels per day.

The U.S. trade balance between imports and exports widened during that time, with net imports reaching 4.54 million barrels per day in August, up 56 percent from two months prior.

API has been critical of Trump’s trade war because it limits U.S. access to crude oil export markets and hinders the U.S. goal of energy dominance.

“Placing constraints on exports of American-made energy works against America’s energy future,” said API Chief Economist Dean Foreman. “As we produce more energy here at home, the U.S. needs markets for its products in order for our economy to continue to grow.”

 

Turkey will continue buying gas from Iran despite US sanctions – Erdogan

September 26, 2018

RT

Ankara plans to stay committed to its long-term energy-supply deal with Tehran despite Washington’s threats to punish countries that do business with Iran, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

“We need to be realistic… Am I supposed to let people freeze in winter?… Nobody should be offended. How can I heat my people’s homes if we stop purchasing Iran’s natural gas?” Erdogan said in an exclusive interview with Reuters.

He said that there were similar situations with Iranian gas imports during the presidency of Barack Obama. At the moment, Turkey is buying 50 percent of its gas from Russia, with the rest imported from Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Algeria.

The Turkish president explained that, in terms of energy supplies, the country “will act in accordance with internal needs.”

Turkey gets 40 percent of its electricity from natural gas. It is dependent on imports for almost all of its energy needs and Iran is a key supplier of Ankara’s natural gas and oil purchases. According to Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Donmez, the country’s natural gas contract expires in 2026. Under the agreement, Ankara is set to buy 9.5 billion cubic meters of gas from Tehran.

The US has re-imposed sanctions against Iran after unilaterally withdrawing from the international agreement reached in 2015, which curtailed the country’s nuclear program. The new round of sanctions against Iran’s oil industry is expected to come into force on November 4. The White House also threatened secondary sanctions on any countries or companies that conduct transactions with Iran.

So far, the tough measures have reportedly forced Japanese refiners to stop buying Iranian crude. China’s oil imports from Iran reportedly plunged by around 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) in August compared to a month earlier, though Beijing signaled its intent to keep buying. At the same time, India’s imports dropped by 400,000 bpd.

 

Iran says Trump should stop interfering in Middle East if he wants cheap oil

September 26, 2018

Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump should stop interfering in the Middle East if he wants the price of oil to stop rising, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

“Mr Trump is trying to seriously reduce exports of Iran’s oil and also ensure the price of oil does not go up, but these two cannot happen together,” Zanganeh said, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency.

“If he wants the price of oil not to go up and the market not to get destabilized, he should stop unwarranted and disruptive interference in the Middle East and not be an obstacle to the production and export of Iran’s oil.”

Trump, not the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, is behind the recent rise in prices, Zanganeh said.

“Trump blames OPEC for what he has created and caused: the rise of the price of oil and disturbance in the market.”

OPEC members do not have the capacity to increase production, Zanganeh said.

In a speech at the United Nations on Tuesday, Trump reiterated calls on OPEC to pump more oil and stop raising prices. He also accused Iran of sowing chaos and promised further sanctions on the country.

The United States will apply sanctions to halt oil exports from Iran, the third-largest producer in OPEC, starting on Nov. 4. The pending loss of Iranian supply has been a major factor in the recent surge in crude prices.

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Dale Hudson

 

Donald Trump is unlikely to forgive the laughter of the UN

The US president is accustomed to addressing diehard supporters, so the derision of his fellow leaders came as a surprise

September 26, 2017

by Julian Borger at the United Nations

The Guardian

Donald Trump is accustomed to addressing diehard supporters at rallies. His press conferences are rare and tightly controlled. So the open derision of his fellow leaders at the UN general assembly clearly came as a surprise.

He insisted he was “OK” with the mirthful reaction to his claims of historic achievements, but he was clearly not OK. Trump is said never to forgive or forget those who laugh at him, so this second outing at the UN podium is unlikely to end well for his administration’s already ambivalent relations with the global body.

Trump made an entrance – nearly half an hour later than his allotted time – determined to trash everything the UN stands for. The president explicitly rejected “the ideology of globalism” in globalism’s high temple and proposed in its place the “doctrine of patriotism”.

While most leaders have used their time on the UN stage to list the agreements they have made, the protocols agreed and treaties signed, Trump clearly delighted in telling the world how many such pieces of paper he had ripped up.

The lead writer of the speech was reportedly Stephen Miller, now the primary bridge between the White House and the American far right. It showed. The address was a manifesto for nativism.

Any remaining pretense of altruism was stripped away from this vision of US foreign policy, and in its place was a strong tinge of resentment and self-pity.

Trump observed that the US was the world’s biggest aid donor, “but few give anything to us”.

“Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends,” he warned.

Trump read out a list of friends, and it was an unusual assortment, reflecting his personal relationships of the moment, rather than longstanding US alliances.

Kim Jong-un, the world’s most absolute dictator, was awarded the first shoutout, the latest instalment in his reward for the spectacular theatre he helped stage at the two leaders’ June summit in Singapore.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who have also cultivated Trump and his immediate family since before he took office, were also lauded for their contributions to the aid funds for Yemen. Their role in the bombing of Yemeni cities and their human rights records at home went unremarked.

The only European ally to merit praise was Poland, whose president, Andrzej Duda, had this month visited Trump at the White House and showered him with praise, even offering to name a future US military base on Polish soil “Fort Trump”.

The central villain of Trump’s narrative was Iran and its government, which he depicted as the principal architect of the Syrian war. But even in the case of Tehran, the president left open a door to redemption, tweeting in the dawn hours before his UN appearance that he was sure that the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, was in fact “an absolutely lovely man”.

The clear message was that if Rouhani was to follow the path taken by Kim, to meet and pay homage to Trump, Iran could escape the isolation the US administration is now trying to reimpose.

The approach reflected a misunderstanding of the deep differences between North Korea and Iran, a far less monolithic system with genuinely democratic elements where Rouhani is not even the most powerful figure.

However, Trump’s speech was not aimed at coherence. His message was an appeal to the gut. The “doctrine of patriotism” was a misty-eyed paean to national chauvinism. It presented the nation state as the “only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured or peace has ever prospered”. And it was nationalist passion alone that inspired “scientific breakthroughs, and magnificent works of art”.

His fellow leaders may have chuckled, but Trump’s words were intended for another audience: his core supporters who despise the UN and all it represents. They are as determined as their hero to wipe the smiles off the faces of the “globalist” enemy.

 

Firm support of Trump’s very far right policies

September 16, 2018

by Christian Jürs

The policy of the supporters of the very pro-Trump far right groups is to exacerbate latent racism in the United States to the point where public violence erupts and the political polarization of the public becomes manifest. By encouraging and arming the far right and neo nazi groups, the Scavenius group is laying the groundwork for an acceptable and militant government reaction, the institution of draconian control over the entire population and the rationale for national and official government control, all in the name of law and order. It is planned that the far right and neo nazi groups be taken into the law enforcement structure and used to put down any public demonstrations that the government deems to be a potential threat to their policies.

Who are these groups? Here is a listing of only some of them:

  • ACT for America
  • Alliance Defending Freedom
  • America’s Promise Ministries
  • American Border Patrol/American Patrol
  • American Family Association
  • American Freedom Party
  • American Renaissance
  • Aryan Brotherhood
  • Aryan Brotherhood of Texas
  • Aryan Nations
  • Blood & Honor
  • Brotherhood of Klans
  • Center for Security Policy
  • Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
  • The Creativity Movement
  • The Sovereign Citizen Movement of the US and Canada
  • The Dominonist Movement of America
  • National Alliance
  • National Coalition for Immigration Reform
  • National Socialist Movement
  • National Vanguard
  • Oath Keepers
  • Stormfront
  • The Aryan Terror Brigade.
  • The neo-Confederate League of the South.
  • Traditionalist Worker Party
  • White Revolution

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