TBR News June 21, 2017

Jun 21 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., June 21, 2017: “Although it is being kept very quiet in official Washington, it has become known that the once-vast Saudi oilfield are being drained of their contents. The degree and extents of this is known, via the agents of the CIA now in that country but the White House has strictly forbidden any public mention of it. If the Saudis run out of oil, the United States will dump them as an ally and the Saudi plans to construct a powerful Sunni Moslem empire in the Middle East with vanish with the oil. It is known for a certainty that the Saudis set up IS to facilitate a Sunni takeover of Shi’te countries, especially the hated and feared Iran and also, that American CIA and Special Forces groups have been arming and training IS groups, just at they trained AlQueda units to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. And on that subject, the only reason the United States has extensive military forces in that country is to protect the very profitable opium fields. If one looks at maps on Google showing the areas of the poppy fields and then looks at another map showing US troop concentrations in that country, the two are identical.”


Table of Contents

  • Our Rush to War In Syria
  • Islamist Terror Triggers Fears of Far Right Adopting Jihadi Methods
  • Theresa May Wants To Fight Islamophobia in the U.K.? You Must Be Joking.
  • Are US and Russia inching toward confrontation in Syria?
  • The U.S. Government Has Become the Ultimate Extension of Donald Trump’s For-Profit Brand
  • Queen’s Speech: Donald Trump’s UK state visit in fresh doubt
  • Zionist Organizations in the United States
  • Scorching summer temperatures bring worst heat to south-west US in years

Our Rush to War In Syria

It’s a disaster in the making

June 21, 2017

by Justin Raimondo


The downing of a Syrian fighter jet by the United States – and, more recently, of an Iranian drone – augurs a confrontation that could take us down the road to World War III. The US media is echoing the Pentagon’s explanation, which is that the Syrian jet bombed (or was threatening to bomb) units of the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) around the town of Tanf. The Syrians say they were attacking forces aligned with ISIS, which both the US and the Syrian government are supposedly fighting.

The reality is that there is no such entity as the “Syrian Democratic Forces.” There are only loosely aligned groups, factions and splinters of factions, which proliferate seemingly on a daily basis in a mosaic of ethno-religious-ideological conflicts that reflect the chaos that has enveloped that country. The failure of the US to unite these various factions into the so-called Free Syrian Army – large units of which kept defecting to the various radical Islamist groups, including ISIS and al-Qaeda – led to an explosion of smaller groups centered around local, tribal, ethnic, and religious affiliations. The SDF is an attempt to solder these groups together in a military force capable of fighting and defeating the “Caliphate” established by ISIS – an effort that is far less successful than it seems.

The main military component of the SDF is the People’s Protection Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel/YPG), consisting of about 45,000 fighters, including the all-female unit. The YPG is the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, a far-leftist formation which adheres to the “democratic confederalist” vision of Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) founder Abdullah Ocalan, who in turn credits anarcho-communist theoretician Murray Bookchin as his inspiration. The YPG is the official army of “Rojava,” a non-contiguous union of Kurdish-controlled territories that is supposedly secular, egalitarian, and socialist. However, the alleged ideals of this ostensibly leftist configuration haven’t always translated into practice: the YPG regularly enforces conscription on areas under its control, seizing property and persecuting Assyrian and Armenian Christians, and engaging in ethnic cleansing of Arab villages. The YPG is viewed by Arabs as a separatist movement, while the Arabs oppose any effort to divide Syria along ethnic lines. As a result, there is considerable hostility between the Arab fighters, organizing in tribal and regional outfits, and the Kurds, despite American efforts to unify these groups into a grand anti-ISIS coalition.

Another source of internecine conflict is the YPG’s relationship with the Syrian government and its allies: while Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad has persecuted the Kurds in the past, he has also supported them at various times against their Turkish enemies, and Syrian government forces have voluntarily withdrawn from YPG-controlled areas in order to concentrate their fire on the Islamist fundamentalists who were threatening Damascus.

Operating under the rubric of the SDF are several Islamist groups formerly affiliated with ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other jihadist outfits. Jabhat Thuwar al-Raqqa (Front of Raqqa Revolutionaries) is one of the founding groups of the SDF: they were formerly allied with Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda, but supposedly split away when Nusra moved closer to ISIS. However, the ideology, aims, and tactics of the group have not changed: its “split” with al-Nusra was over tactical and control issues. The “Raqqa Revolutionaries” are still fighting to establish an Islamic state in Syria under Sharia law, with their main goal being the destruction of the Syrian government in Damascus: they have simply changed their strategy, which is now to ally with the American-sponsored coalition.

The US air strikes in southern Syria, near the town of Tanf, which hit a Syrian fighter jet, were in defense of three American-backed groups: Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra, a jihadist group trained by the US and the Jordanians, the “Ahmad Abdo Martyrs,” another jihadist group with murky origins and financing, and the “Lions of the East Army,” formerly a part of the “Authenticity and Development Front,” a Saudi-funded alliance of groups that included the Nour al-Din al-Zenki grouplet responsible for the beheading of a young Palestinian boy. They have also fought alongside al-Nusra: see here for their links to al-Qaeda as well as Turkey.

The Syrian government rightly considers these groups in the same category as al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, and ISIS, and seeks to eliminate them wherever they exist. Thus we see that the conflicting claims coming out of Damascus and Washington – with the former saying they are attacking “terrorists,” while the latter insists it will defend its “allies” – are not really in conflict, because the US is indeed actively supporting terrorists in Syria.

In short, these groups – which the US military is defending against the Syrian army – are the “radical Islamic terrorists” that President Trump continually rails against. So why are we aiding and protecting them?

Looking at the ultimate defeat of ISIS as a foregone conclusion, all the regional powers with proxy forces in Syria are seeking to dominate the country once the Caliphate is consigned to history’s dustbin. The Syrian government, along with their Russian and Iranian allies, look to the restoration of control by Damascus over the entire territory of Syria. The Saudis look to their jihadist outfits to establish an Islamic state after Assad is deposed. The Qataris are backing their own jihadists, notably al-Nusra, and the Turks have their proxies among the Islamist groups in the northern part of the country, as well as the Turkmen militias, which they hope will block the Kurds from establishing a Kurdish state on the Syrian-Turkish border.

Stuck in the midst of this four-sided civil war is the United States, with no real policy, and with its military strategy ceded to commanders on the ground – who are pursuing the same course set by the previous administration, i.e. canoodling with radical Islamists bent on regime change in Damascus. In alliance with the Saudis, the British, the Israelis, and the Jordanians, Washington is seemingly still determined to oust Assad and establish a Sunni regime in Damascus.

The real goal of this strategy – which seems entirely contradictory to Trump’s campaign pledges to stay out of Syria, and cut off aid to Islamist rebel groups – is a looming confrontation with Iran. Trump has always been vehemently anti-Iranian, and his recent trip to Saudi Arabia reinforced his headlong rush into a collision course with Tehran. There is currently a debate going on within the administration over how far to take this: for the moment, the radical anti-Iranian faction seems to have lost out. Yet the ultimate outcome of the fight remains to be seen – because with Donald J. Trump in the drivers’ seat, you never know what will happen next.

The Russians, for their part, have declared that any and all planes flying over Syrian territory will be considered “targets” – and this underscores the seriousness of the threat we are now facing. We are a single incident away from a major conflagration that could drag in all the powers now feasting on the carcass of Syria.

And it’s all because of an American President who was elected on a pledge to stay out of Syria, stop funding radical Islamist terrorists in the region, and who often asked “Wouldn’t it be nice if we got along with Russia?”

Trump has entered the upside-down realm of Bizarro World: he’s inverted most of his foreign policy positions. Instead of détente with Russia, we are pursuing a policy of confrontation. Instead of putting America first, we are putting Saudi Arabia first. Rather than concentrate on pulling this country out of the economic doldrums, the Trump administration is rushing headlong into yet another major war in the Middle East.

While the complete reversal of Trump’s foreign policy stances as expressed on the campaign trail seems inexplicable on the surface, it is perfectly in accord with what I call the theory of libertarian realism: the view that there is no real line of demarcation between foreign and domestic policy, and that all foreign policy is the result of domestic political pressures and the desire of the group in power to retain and expand that power.

Trump is now harried by the phony “Russia-gate” scandal, which depicts him as a pawn of the Kremlin: therefore he is acting in a way that would discredit that charge, maintaining and even expanding sanctions on Russia while confronting Moscow and its allies in Syria. How could he possibly be “Putin’s puppet,” as Hillary Clinton put it, if he’s defying Russian threats to shoot down our planes?

Another factor to consider is the influence of the Israel lobby. Israel has been giving covert support to the Syrian rebels, and their spokesmen have openly preferred the Islamist rebels (including ISIS) to Assad, Israel’s historic enemy. Engaged in an increasingly open alliance with Riyadh, Tel Aviv benefits if Syria is turned into a version of Lebanon – hopelessly divided along ethno-religious lines. Both Hezbollah and Iran are siding with Assad – and if the Israelis can maneuver the US into fighting them, well then all the better.

Here is yet another crisis that has been caused and ratcheted up by our alleged “allies,” who have succeeded in getting the US to front for their interests. As for American interests, they don’t come into the equation. So much for “America first.”

Islamist Terror Triggers Fears of Far Right Adopting Jihadi Methods

June 21, 2017


Although right-wing extremism is a relatively marginal phenomenon, it nevertheless elicits substantial attention in the Western media. According to Norwegian researchers, right-wing extremists are taking cue from jihadists and adopting their methods.

Recently there was a vehicular attack in London, where a van rammed into a group of Muslims in the northern part of the city, injuring ten people. Norwegian researcher Jacob Ravndal from the Center for Extremism Research at the University of Oslo pointed out that car attacks have become a new method even for right-wing extremists, which he deemed “unsurprising.”

“Far-right extremists appear to be inspired by jihadi methods,” Jacob Ravndal told the Norwegian daily Aftenposten.

Previously, a spate of terrorist attacks (with cars being used as deadly weapons) has swept across Europe. Ravndal pointed out a largely unnoticed vehicular attack in Malmö, Sweden.

“Only a week ago, a neo-Nazi attempted to drive a car into an immigrant demonstration in Malmö, but failed when he collided with a tree. It is striking that a new vehicular attack targeting Muslims happened only shortly thereafter,” Ravndal said.

The 22-year-old Swedish man plowed his swastika-sporting Volvo into an Iraqi demonstration against Sweden’s stricter asylum rules outside the Migration Board’s office in Malmö, which was classed as a hate crime, Swedish national broadcaster SVT reported.

The recent Finsbury Park incident in London came in the wake of several major Islamist attacks, which were in England and were carried out during Ramadan, a traditional month of daytime religious fasting among heroes. This led many to express concern that the number of right-wing terrorists is going to pick up as a response to jihadist attacks.

Jacob Ravndal pointed out that right-wing violence has trended downward over the past 20-30 years, without a single attack with fatal outcome happening in 2014. Nevertheless, despite the insignificantly low numbers, Ravndal ventured that right-wing retaliation was not unexpected,” given the amount of Islamist terror committed.”

Generally speaking, though, right-wing terrorism and violence remain a marginal phenomenon.

“Full-blown terrorist attacks by organized groups are rare. They are mostly committed by lesser groups such as the NSU in Germany or lonely attackers, where psychiatry comes in the picture,” Ravndal said.

After having gone through 500 cases of right-wing violence in Europe, Ravndal pointed out immigrants, leftists, Muslims, government officials and homosexuals as the most likely targets. So far, knives have been seen as the weapon of chioice. Remarkably, the July 22 attack in Norway by Anders Breivik (now known as Fjotolf Hansen) was by far the most complex right-wing attack involving firearms and explosives.

According to the recent terrorism report by Europol, a total of 142 terrorist attacks happened across Europe in 2016. While jihadist attacks accounted for the vast majority of deaths, the report also highlighted the fact that attacks by violent leftist activists have been on the rise since 2014, peaking at 27 in 2016. The same year, only a single right-wing terrorist attack was carried out, when a mosque in Enschede, the Netherlands was attacked with Molotov cocktails.

Theresa May Wants To Fight Islamophobia in the U.K.? You Must Be Joking.

June 20 2017

by Mehdi Hasan

The Intercept

“There has been far too much tolerance of extremism,” declaimed Theresa May, standing outside Downing Street on Monday morning, “… and that means extremism of any kind, including Islamophobia.”

The British prime minister was speaking in the aftermath of a brutal terror attack near a London mosque in which a man drove a van into a group of Muslim worshippers. The alleged attacker, according to eyewitnesses, shouted: “I want to kill all Muslims.”

May’s statement was welcomed by a slew of liberals as well as by leading British Muslims, as was her announcement of an official review of security measures at U.K. mosques.

But I have four words to describe the prime minister’s response: too little, too late.

Why did it require a horrific terrorist attack, resulting in the death of an unarmed Muslim man on the streets of London in the midst of Ramadan, to prompt May to decry anti-Muslim hatred as a form of “extremism”? Why did innocent blood have to be spilled in order for the prime minister to utter aloud the word “Islamophobia” for the first time?

And where were her earlier admonitions about the threat posed to the U.K.’s Muslims by far-right extremists? May served as Home Secretary for six years, across two parliaments, in charge of both the police and the security services, yet during that period she made only the odd, passing reference to the “hundreds” of anti-Muslim attacks in the U.K. each year while obsessing over the threat from “Islamist extremism.” Why did she not take seriously the claim made by one of her own Home Office officials to the BBC in 2014 that the government’s emphasis on the “global jihadist agenda” risked ignoring the growing domestic terror threat from the far-right? That particular anonymous official even issued this stark warning: “I wouldn’t want to get to the point where something happens and we look back and think actually, we should have addressed that as well.”

Why in 2014 did she join fellow Conservative ministers in hyperbolically claiming that Muslim extremists were trying to take over schools in Birmingham as part of a so-called “Trojan Horse plot,” when a lengthy investigation by a committee of MPs later concluded that “one incident apart, no evidence of extremism or radicalisation was found… Neither was there any evidence of a sustained plot”?

Why, as home secretary, did she refuse to fully engage, or even formally meet, with the Cross-Government Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group? Academics Chris Allen and Matthew Goodwin, both leading experts on Islamophobia, quit the working group in disgust at the lack of support from the Conservative government and from ministers such as May. The group, wrote Allen in 2014, “had no bite, no influence, no impact.” Goodwin went further in 2015: “During a generally unpleasant four years, the basic message appeared to be that the government was simply not that interested in anti-Muslim hatred.”

Why did May not offer support to fellow Conservative minister Sayeeda Warsi, when the latter gave a speech in January 2011 addressing the challenge of anti-Muslim hatred in the U.K. and pointing out that Islamophobia had become socially acceptable in the U.K. and “passed the dinner table test”? The then Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron “distanced” himself from the speech while the right-wing press launched vitriolic attacks on Warsi for daring to broach the issue.

In her recent book “The Enemy Within: A Tale of Muslim Britain”, Warsi — who, in 2010, became the first Muslim woman to be appointed to the U.K. cabinet — notes how “six years on from my first keynote speech on Islamophobia, the only one to date by a national politician, government policy-making on Islamophobia has made little progress.” According to the former Conservative minister, “there has been little funding for work combating Islamophobia, little political interest in the issue, little enthusiasm to treating it as seriously as anti-Semitism or racism” while “political discourse on Muslims is inflammatory.”

I asked Warsi for her reaction to May’s apparent volte-face on tackling Islamophobia. “I welcome this change of positioning from the government,” she told me, “but it’s tragic that it’s taken a terrorist attack for that to happen.” Warsi added that she had been “warning about the threat of far-right extremism and rising Islamophobia for the past decade and it was always frustrating that so many of my [Conservative] colleagues failed to either engage with, or even acknowledge, the issue.”

Warsi is being polite. Plenty of leading Conservatives have not just ignored Islamophobia but become keen and active purveyors of it. In recent months, while May has been very vocal about allegations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats, she has been shamefully silent on the brazen Islamophobia within her own party.

Why did he she hire Australian political strategist Lynton Crosby — who once urged Conservatives to focus on their core vote rather than “fucking Muslims” — to run her general election campaign this year? Why, for that matter, did she appoint Boris Johnson — who once said “Islam is the problem” and called Islamophobia a “natural reaction” to reading the Quran — as her foreign secretary last year?

Why did the prime minister allow former Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith to stand for parliament again as a Conservative candidate this year, despite him having run a nakedly Islamophobic campaign against his Labour rival Sadiq Khan last year? Senior London Conservative politician Andrew Boff denounced Goldsmith’s Muslim-baiting rhetoric as “outrageous” and said it had done “real damage” to community relations. Goldsmith’s own sister Jemima — the mother of two Muslim boys — suggested his mayoral campaign had lacked “integrity”.

Why did May also allow the re-selection of Conservative MPs who have compared the burqa to a “paper bag with… two holes for the eyes,” suggested covering the hair is “an excuse for sexual violence against women” and called on mosques in the U.K. fly the British flag to prove that they are truly integrated? Did none of that bother her?

Meanwhile, the Conservatives, under May’s leadership, selected only three Muslims to stand for parliament this year in safe seats and, in the words of the veteran conservative commentator Peter Oborne, have “long given up on policies that appeal to Muslims.” The Conservative Party, concluded Oborne, “is slowly turning into a Muslim-free zone.”

Muslim. Free. Zone. And yet we are now expected to believe that this same Conservative Party will stand up for British Muslims under attack? That Theresa May will lead the fight against rising Islamophobia? Are you having a laugh? The prime minister’s remarks on Monday morning were not only too little, too late. They were the very definition of hypocrisy.

Are US and Russia inching toward confrontation in Syria?

The downing of a Syrian military plane by a US fighter jet is the latest – and perhaps most serious – sign of a stepped-up US military role in the war. That could put the United States on a collision course with Russia.

June 20, 2017

by Michael Knigge


When a US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Russian-made Syrian SU-22 warplane after it reportedly attacked US-supported fighters near the embattled city of Raqqa, it did not take long for Moscow to respond to what it viewed as an “aggression” against Syrian government forces, which the Kremlin backs.

Russian officials not only suspended the so-called deconfliction channel with the United States that was set up to avoid potential military incidents between the two countries, but also said the military would shoot down any foreign aircraft west of the Euphrates River, which they consider the Kremlin’s area of operations.

Yezid Sayigh, a senior fellow with the Carnegie Middle East Center, said the key question about the latest incident was why Syria’s government would even deploy a fighter jet over Raqqa, which it has not done for years.

“My assessment is that the Assad regime is testing and probing the US ‘red lines’ there and in the badia – i.e., the southeast desert areas – and the US is simply asserting that red line, no more,” Sayigh wrote in an email.

‘Risks of escalation’

The incident put a spotlight on the intensifying proxy war in Syria between forces backed by Russia and those supported by the United States, a conflict that has the potential to increasingly pit the two countries directly against each other in the battle over the future of Syria.

Prior to shooting down the warplane, US forces had struck pro-government soldiers three times in recent weeks to counter what officials said were attacks on US-backed troops in the country.

The US has recently ramped up military support for allied groups in Syria in an effort drive the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) out of the city of Raqqa, considered to be the group’s last stronghold in the country.

“The risks of escalation and of direct confrontation and more direct conflict between the United States and Russia have increased, and some might even say there are fait accompli since the number of incidents has increased,” saidJonathan Stevenson, a former National Security Council director for political-military affairs, Middle East and North Africa, in the Obama White House.

“It’s a very dangerous situation,” said Iwan Morgan, professor of US studies at University College London. “The chances of confrontation have risen significantly.”

Though there is an increased risk for direct confrontation, both Stevenson and Morgan said neither the United States nor Russia had any interest in letting the situation further escalate.

US officials likely want to avoid seeing things spiral to a point that ultimately could require a bigger ground troop deployment in Syria than intended, said Stevenson, who is currently a senior fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

No interest in confrontation

Russia should also be wary of any further escalation, Stevenson said, as that could push its military into a situation in which its forces are overstretched in such a way that they would not be able match the capabilities of the United States – “essentially having a bluff called.”

Morgan pointed out that, although neither the United States nor Russia has an interest in confrontation, “of course you could say that about many conflicts in history which then reach a certain point and then boil over.”

He added that he was also worried about a possible confrontation between the United States and Iran, which has been the Syrian government’s other key backer.

Further hostilities

In May, in an incident that received comparatively little attention, US fighter jets struck Shiite forces that had ventured too close to US troops along Syria’s border with Iraq.

The scholars agreed that, though a broader US strategy – one that goes beyond the current counterterrorism operation against IS – is difficult to discern, regime change, at least for the moment, is not on Washington’s agenda.

But, Stevenson said, further hostilities between Russia and the United States – whether intentional or accidental – should not come as a surprise, especially if the use of the deconfliction channel becomes more sporadic and the US incrementally increases its operations in support of opposition forces.

Destabilizing the Middle East (Yet More)

The Saudi Regime Is Playing Donald Trump With Potentially Disastrous Consequences

June 21, 2017

by William D. Hartung

Tom Dispatch

At this point, it’s no great surprise when Donald Trump walks away from past statements in service to some impulse of the moment. Nowhere, however, has such a shift been more extreme or its potential consequences more dangerous than in his sudden love affair with the Saudi royal family. It could in the end destabilize the Middle East in ways not seen in our lifetimes (which, given the growing chaos in the region, is no small thing to say).

Trump’s newfound ardor for the Saudi regime is a far cry from his past positions, including his campaign season assertion that the Saudis were behind the 9/11 attacks and complaints, as recently as this April, that the United States was losing a “tremendous amount of money” defending the kingdom.  That was yet another example of the sort of bad deal that President Trump was going to set right as part of his “America First” foreign policy.

Given this background, it came as a surprise to pundits, politicians, and foreign policy experts alike when the president chose Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, as the very first stop on his very first overseas trip. This was clearly meant to underscore the importance his administration was suddenly placing on the need to bolster the long-standing U.S.-Saudi alliance.

Mindful of Trump’s vanity, the Saudi government rolled out the red carpet for our narcissist-in-chief, lining the streets for miles with alternating U.S. and Saudi flags, huge images of which were projected onto the Ritz Carlton hotel where Trump was staying. (Before his arrival, in a sign of the psychological astuteness of his Saudi hosts, the hotel projected a five-story-high image of Trump himself onto its façade, pairing it with a similarly huge and flattering photo of the country’s ruler, King Salman.)  His hosts also put up billboards with pictures of Trump and Salman over the slogan “together we prevail.”  What exactly the two countries were to prevail against was left open to interpretation.  It is, however, unlikely that the Saudis were thinking about Trump’s much-denounced enemy, ISIS — given that Saudi planes, deep into a war in neighboring Yemen, have rarely joined Washington’s air war against that outfit.  More likely, what they had in mind was their country’s bitter regional rival Iran.

The agenda planned for Trump’s stay included an anti-terrorism summit attended by 50 leaders from Arab and Muslim nations, a concert by country singer Toby Keith, and an exhibition game by the Harlem Globetrotters. Then there were the strange touches like President Trump, King Salman, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi laying hands on a futuristically glowing orb — images of which then circled the planet — in a ceremony inaugurating a new Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology, and Trump’s awkward participation in an all-male sword dance.

Unsurprisingly enough, the president was pleased with the spectacle staged in his honor, saying of the anti-terrorism summit in one of his many signature flights of hyperbole, “There has never been anything like it before, and perhaps there never will be again.”

Here, however, is a statement that shouldn’t qualify as hyperbole: never have such preparations for a presidential visit paid such quick dividends.  On arriving home, Trump jumped at the chance to embrace a fierce Saudi attempt to blockade and isolate its tiny neighbor Qatar, the policies of whose emir have long irritated them.  The Saudis claimed to be focused on that country’s alleged role in financing terrorist groups in the region (a category they themselves fit into remarkably well).  More likely, however, the royal family wanted to bring Qatar to heel after it failed to jump enthusiastically onto the Saudi-led anti-Iranian bandwagon.

Trump, who clearly knew nothing about the subject, accepted the Saudi move with alacrity and at face value. In his normal fashion, he even tried to take credit for it, tweeting, “During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology.  Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!”  And according to Trump, the historic impact of his travels hardly stopped there.  As he also tweeted: “So good to see Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries paying off… Perhaps it will be the beginning of the end of the horror of terrorism.”

Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution hit the nail on the head when he commented that “the Saudis played Donald Trump like a fiddle.  He unwittingly encouraged their worst instincts toward their neighbors.” The New York Times captured one likely impact of the Saudi move against Qatar when it reported, “Analysts said Mr. Trump’s public support for Saudi Arabia… sent a chill through other Gulf States, including Oman and Kuwait, for fear that any country that defies the Saudis or the United Arab Emirates could face ostracism as Qatar has.”

And Then Came Trump…

And what precisely are the Saudis’ instincts toward their neighbors?  The leaders in Riyadh, led by King Salman’s 31-year-old son, Saudi Defense Minister and deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, are taking the gloves off in an increasingly aggressive bid for regional dominance aimed at isolating Iran.  The defense minister and potential future leader of the kingdom, whose policies have been described as reckless and impulsive, underscored the new, harsher line on Iran in an interview with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV in which he said, “We will not wait until the battle is in Saudi Arabia, but we will work so the battle is there in Iran.”

The opening salvo in Saudi Arabia’s anti-Iran campaign came in March 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition, including smaller Gulf petro-states (Qatar among them) and Egypt, intervened militarily in a chaotic situation in Yemen in an effort to reinstall Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi as the president of that country.  They clearly expected a quick victory over their ill-armed enemies and yet, more than two years later, in a war that has grown ever harsher, they have in fact achieved little.  Hadi, a pro-Saudi leader, had served as that country’s interim president under an agreement that, in the wake of the Arab Spring in 2012, ousted longstanding Yemeni autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh.  In January 2015, Hadi himself was deposed by an alliance of Houthi rebels and remnants of forces loyal to former president Saleh.

The Saudis — now joined by Trump and his foreign policy team — have characterized the conflict as a war to blunt Iranian influence and the Houthi rebels have been cast as the vassals of Tehran.  In reality, they have longstanding political and economic grievances that predate the current conflict and they would undoubtedly be fighting at this moment with or without support from Iran.  As Middle Eastern expert Thomas Juneau recently noted in the Washington Post, “Tehran’s support for the Houthis is limited, and its influence in Yemen is marginal. It is simply inaccurate to claim that the Houthis are Iranian proxies.”

The Saudi-Emirati intervention in Yemen has had disastrous results.  Thousands of civilians have been killed in an indiscriminate bombing campaign that has targeted hospitals, marketplaces, civilian neighborhoods, and even a funeral, in actions that Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) has said “look like war crimes.”  The Saudi bombing campaign has, in addition, been enabled by Washington, which has supplied the kingdom with bombs, including cluster munitions, and aircraft, while providing aerial refueling services to Saudi planes to ensure longer missions and the ability to hit more targets.  It has also shared intelligence on targeting in Yemen.

The destruction of that country’s port facilities and the imposition of a naval blockade have had an even more devastating effect, radically reducing the ability of aid groups to get food, medicine, and other essential supplies into a country now suffering from a major outbreak of cholera and on the brink of a massive famine. This situation will only be made worse if the coalition tries to retake the port of Hodeidah, the entry point for most of the humanitarian aid still getting into Yemen. Not only has the U.S.-backed Saudi war sparked a humanitarian crisis, but it has inadvertently strengthened al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has increased its influence in Yemen while the Saudi- and Houthi-led coalitions are busy fighting each other.

Trump’s all-in support for the Saudis in its war doesn’t, in fact, come out of the blue. Despite some internal divisions over the wisdom of doing so, the Obama administration also supported the Saudi war effort in a major way. This was part of an attempt to reassure the royals that the United States was still on their side and would not tilt towards Iran in the wake of an agreement to cap and reverse that country’s nuclear program.

It was only after concerted pressure from Congress and a coalition of peace, human rights, and humanitarian aid groups that the Obama administration finally took a concrete, if limited, step to express opposition to the Saudi targeting of civilians in Yemen.  In a December 2016 decision, it suspended a sale of laser-guided bombs and other precision-guided munitions to their military.  The move outraged the Saudis, but proved at best a halfway measure as the refueling of Saudi aircraft continued, and none of rest of the record $115 billion in U.S. weaponry offered to that country during the Obama years was affected.

And then came Trump.  His administration has doubled down on the Saudi war in Yemen by lifting the suspension of the bomb deal, despite the objections of a Senate coalition led by Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Al Franken (D-MN) that recently mustered an unprecedented 47 votes against Trump’s offer of precision-guided bombs to Riyadh.  Defense Secretary James Mattis has advocated yet more vigorous support for the Saudi-led intervention, including additional planning assistance and yet more intelligence sharing — but not, for the moment, the introduction of U.S. troops.  Although the Trump foreign policy team has refused to endorse a proposal by the United Arab Emirates, one of the Saudi coalition members, to attack the port at Hodeidah, it’s not clear if that will hold.

A Parade for an American President?

In addition to Trump’s kind words on Twitter, the clearest sign of his administration’s uncritical support for the Saudi regime has been the offer of an astounding $110 billion worth of arms to the kingdom, a sum almost equal to the record levels reached during all eight years of the Obama administration. (This may, of course, have been part of the point, showing that President Trump could make a bigger, better deal than that slacker Obama, while supporting what he described as “jobs, jobs, jobs” in the United States.)

Like all things Trumpian, however, that $110 billion figure proved to be an exaggeration.  Tens of billions of dollars’ worth of arms included in the package had already been promised under Obama, and tens of billions more represent promises that, experts suspect, are unlikely to be kept.  But that still leaves a huge package, one that, according to the Pentagon, will include more than 100,000 bombs of the sort that can be used in the Yemen war, should the Saudis choose to do so.  All that being said, the most important aspect of the deal may be political — Trump’s way of telling “my friend King Salman,” as he now calls him, that the United States is firmly in his camp.  And this is, in fact, the most troubling development of all.

It’s bad enough that the Obama administration allowed itself to be dragged into an ill-conceived, counterproductive, and regionally destabilizing war in Yemen. Trump’s uncritical support of Saudi foreign policy could have even more dangerous consequences. The Saudis are more intent than Trump’s own advisers (distinctly a crew of Iranophobes) on ratcheting up tensions with Iran.  It’s no small thing, for instance, that Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who has asserted that Iran is “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East,” and who advocated U.S. military attacks on that country during his tenure as head of the U.S. Central Command, looks sober-minded compared to the Saudi royals.

If there is even a glimmer of hope in the situation, it might lie in the efforts of both Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to walk back the president’s full-throated support for a Saudi confrontation with Qatar. Tillerson, for instance, has attempted to pursue an effort to mediate the Saudi-Qatari dispute and has called for a “calm and thoughtful dialogue.” Similarly, on the same day as Trump tweeted in support of the Saudis, the Pentagon issued a statement praising Qatar’s “enduring commitment to regional security.”  This is hardly surprising given the roughly 10,000 troops the U.S. has at al-Udeid air base in Doha, its capital, and the key role that base plays in Washington’s war on terror in the region.  It is the largest American base in the Middle East and the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command, as well as a primary staging area for the U.S. war on ISIS. The administration’s confusion regarding how to deal with Qatar was further underscored when Mattis and Qatari Defense Minister Khalid Al-Attiyah signed a $12 billion deal for up to 36 Boeing F-15 combat aircraft, barely a week after President Trump had implied that Qatar was the world capital of terrorist financing.

In a further possible counter to Trump’s aggressive stance, Secretary of Defense Mattis has suggested that perhaps it’s time to pursue a diplomatic settlement of the war in Yemen.  In April, he told reporters that, “in regards to the Saudi and Emirati campaign in Yemen, our goal, ladies and gentleman, is for that crisis down there, that ongoing fight, [to] be put in front of a U.N.-brokered negotiating team and try to resolve this politically as soon as possible.” Mattis went on to decry the number of civilians being killed, stating that the war there “has simply got to be brought to an end.”

It remains to be seen whether Tillerson’s and Mattis’s conciliatory words are hints of a possible foot on the brake in the Trump administration when it comes to building momentum for what could, in the end, be a U.S. military strike against Iran, egged on by Donald Trump’s good friends in Saudi Arabia.  As Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group has noted, if the U.S. ends up going to war against Iran, it would “make the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts look like a walk in the park.”

In fact, in a period when the turmoil has only risen in much of the rest of the Greater Middle East, the Saudi Arabian peninsula remained relatively stable, at least until the Saudi-led coalition drastically escalated the civil war in Yemen.  The new, more aggressive course being pursued against the royal family in Qatar and in relation to Iran could, however, make matters much worse, and fast.  Given the situation in the region today, including the spread of terror movements and failing states, the thought that Saudi Arabia itself might be destabilized (and Iran with it) should be daunting indeed, though not perhaps for Donald Trump.

So far, through a combination of internal repression and generous social benefits to its citizens — a form of political bribery designed to buy loyalty — the Saudi royal family has managed to avoid the fate of other regional autocrats driven from power.  But with low oil prices and a costly war in Yemen, the regime is being forced to reduce the social spending that has helped cement its hold on power. It’s possible that further military adventures, coupled with a backlash against its repressive policies, could break what analysts Sarah Chayes and Alex de Waal have described as the current regime’s “brittle hold on power.” In other words, what a time for the Trump administration to offer its all-in support for the plans of an aggressive yet fragile regime whose reckless policies could even spark a regional war.

Maybe it’s time for opponents of a stepped-up U.S. military role in the Middle East to throw Donald Trump a big, glitzy parade aimed at boosting his ego and dampening his enthusiasm for the Saudi royal family.  It might not change his policies, but at least it would get his attention.

The U.S. Government Has Become the Ultimate Extension of Donald Trump’s For-Profit Brand

June 12 2017

by Naomi Klein

The Intercept

In a lawsuit filed today, the attorneys general of the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia claim that by accepting millions of dollars and countless more perks from foreign governments, President Trump is at the center of an “unprecedented constitutional violation.” Whether it’s $270,000 in payments from a lobbying firm working for the Saudi government or praise from the Ambassador of Georgia (also a paying customer), Trump’s hotels and properties continue to rake it in from governments across the globe, from Turkey to Kuwait to India to Afghanistan to Qatar.

The attorneys general claim that “President Trump’s personal fortune is at stake,” whenever he makes a policy decision, whether it be about taxes, climate change, or foreign relations — a troubling notion, to say the least. According to the lawsuit, Trump’s continued entanglement in his business violates the constitutional emolument clause that, in theory, prevents the president from taking payments from foreign governments. The lawsuit is damning, saying, “never before has a President acted with such disregard for this constitutional prescription.”

Trump, of course, still profits directly from his business dealings, since he has not divested from his business holdings in any way.

I’ve spent the last five months researching the Trump family’s global brand-based empire and the various ways that the president has turned the U.S. government into the ultimate extension of his for-profit brand, so far without any repercussion. So it’s good to see the law starting to catch up. But the lawsuit touches on a fraction of the ways in which Trump is actively profiting from the presidency. As I write in the introduction to “No Is Not Enough,” we are seeing this unprecedented level of self-dealing because Trump’s business model is itself relatively new, and certainly a first for a sitting president:

Trump was never the head of a traditional company but has, rather, long been the figurehead of an empire built around his personal brand — one that has, along with his daughter Ivanka’s brand, already benefited from its merger with the U.S. presidency in countless ways (membership rates at Mar-a-Lago have doubled; Ivanka’s product sales, we are told, are through the roof). The Trump family’s business model is part of a broader shift in corporate structure that has taken place within many brand-based multinationals, one with transformative impacts on culture and the job market.

What this model tells us is that the very idea that there could be – or should be – any distinction between the Trump brand and the Trump presidency is a concept the current occupant of the White House cannot begin to comprehend. The presidency is the crowning extension of the Trump brand.

We are in entirely uncharted territory, because let’s face it: human megabrands are a relatively new phenomenon. There’s no rulebook that foresaw any of this. People keep asking — is he going to divest? Is he going to sell his businesses? Is Ivanka going to? But it’s not at all clear what these questions even mean, because their primary businesses are their names. You can’t disentangle Trump the man from Trump the brand; those two entities merged long ago.

There’s a whole web of ways the Trumps can make money off their names and their official and unofficial roles in the White House. Patronage at Trump hotels and resorts by foreign governments and corporations is probably the least of it. Here’s an extract from another relevant chapter

The conflicts tipped into self-parody on April 6, 2017, when, the Associated Press reported, “Ivanka Trump’s company won provisional approval from the Chinese government for three new trademarks, giving it monopoly rights to sell Ivanka brand jewelry, bags and spa services in the world’s second-largest economy.”

But that’s not the only thing that happened that day. “That night, the first daughter and her husband, Jared Kushner, sat next to the president of China and his wife for a steak and Dover sole dinner at Mar-a-Lago.” A political summit whose details had been arranged by none other than Jared Kushner. This goes well beyond nepotism; it’s the U.S. government as a for-profit family business.

And a new twist since the book went to press. In China, three labor activists were detained by the government in May while investigating conditions at factories that make shoes for Ivanka Trump’s brand. This news came not long after the U.S.-based China Labor Watch alleged that some workers in factories that produced for Ivanka’s brand were paid what amounted to less than a dollar an hour, while being forced to work 12.5-hour days, six days a week. Despite mounting international condemnation, the activists have yet to be released. Could it be that the Chinese government decided to provide the ultimate service to the Trump family of brands: silencing whistleblowers who were exposing ugly corporate truths?

A New York Times reporter wrote earlier this month that, upon visiting Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, she was given a (now-discontinued) brochure dangling the possibility of a treat from Trump himself: “If he is on-site for your big day, he will likely stop in.” Despite protestations to the contrary, the idea that Trump-the-man is still deeply involved in Trump-the-business is very much a part of the whole offer of Trump-branded hotels and clubs. And nowhere more so than at Mar-a-Lago:

Mar-a-Lago has already increased its membership fees, to $200,000 from $100,000. And why not? Now, for your fee, you might find yourself witnessing a high-stakes conversation about national security over dinner. You might get to hobnob with a visiting head of state. You might even get to witness Trump announcing that he has just launched an air assault on a foreign country.

And, of course, you might even get to meet the president himself, and have the chance to quietly influence him. (No public records are kept of who comes and goes from the club, so who knows?) For decades, Trump has been selling the allure of proximity to wealth and power — it is the meaning of his brand. But now he’s able to offer, to his paying customers, the real deal.

Anything that increases Donald Trump’s visibility, and the perception of him as all-powerful, actively increases the value of the Trump brand, and therefore increases how much clients will pay to be associated with it — to slap it on their new condo development, say, or, on a smaller scale, to play on his golf courses or buy one of his ties.

Meanwhile, the Trump Organization has worked relentlessly to expand its global reach. And why not? The brand is more visible now than ever before, and customers are willing to pay. As the lawsuit states, Trump’s “high office gives the Trump brand greater prominence and exposure.” And this is the heart of what we need to understand about how dangerous it is to have a president who is in the business of selling not any one particular product but his name:

Given that what the Trump sons — Eric and Donald Jr. — are selling is ephemeral (a name), a buyer could pay $6 million for it or could pay $60 million. Who’s to judge what constitutes a fair market-value price? More worryingly, who’s to say what services are being purchased when a private company pays millions to lease the Trump brand? Do they really think it’s that valuable to their condo tower, or do they think that by throwing in an extra $5 million, they might be looked on more favorably in other dealings that require a friendly relationship with the White House? It’s very difficult to see how any of this can be untangled. A brand is worth whatever buyers are willing to pay for it. That’s always been the appeal of building a business on this model — that something as ephemeral as a name could be vested with such real-world monetary value.

What’s extraordinary about Donald Trump’s presidency is that now we are all inside the Trump branded world, whether we want to be or not. We have all become extras in his for-profit reality TV show, which has expanded to swallow the most powerful government in the world.

The Trumps aren’t going to stop coming up with new ways to cash in on the presidency anytime soon. Since I finished writing “No Is Not Enough,” they’ve announced yet another creative new way to turn the White House into a for-profit family business, which I wrote about last week.

Enter American Idea, “a new midscale brand” hotel chain whose first properties will be in Mississippi, a red state where Trump won 18 percentage points more of the popular vote than Hillary Clinton. This is not just an attempt at crashing the Comfort Inn niche by wrapping it in stars and stripes. It’s also the most vivid window yet into the myriad ways the Trump family is transforming the presidency into a for-profit family business, annihilating the line between government and their web of brands.

It turns out that while the Trump kids were on the campaign trail last year, they weren’t just stumping for their father — they were conducting market research on ways to profit from Trump voters. The sons would return to Trump Tower and report on the quaint and old-timey tastes enjoyed in “real America,” as Eric Trump described it on “Good Morning America.”

As Donald Jr. put it, he realized “there’s something here, there’s a market here that we’ve been missing our entire lives by focusing only on the high end.” And there were more perks to tagging along on the campaign trail. They also met people who donated to the Trump campaign, and some of those very people are now the first partners for this new venture.

So let’s unpack that a bit. In Trump’s world, voters are future customers, campaign donors are future investors, and election results are a rich vein of consumer data.

The new lawsuit, though welcome, is only the first step of understanding the merger of the Trump Organization and the White House – with its almost infinite possibilities for corruption and influence peddling.

Queen’s Speech: Donald Trump’s UK state visit in fresh doubt

June 21, 2017

BBC News

Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK is in fresh doubt after there was no mention of it in the Queen’s Speech.

The US president accepted the Queen’s invitation for him to travel to Britain when Prime Minister Theresa May visited Washington in January.

But there have been reports that Mr Trump has changed his mind and does not want to come to the UK while there is potential for protests against him.

The Queen did not mention it because no date has been set, Number 10 said.

Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech saw the monarch announce the government’s legislative programme for the next two years at the State Opening of Parliament.

The monarch always also uses the speech to set out her official plans for the year.

She said she looked forward to welcoming King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain for their state visit in July, and hosting the Commonwealth summit in April next year.

But there was no word about Mr Trump’s state visit. October had been suggested as a possible date.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “An invitation has been extended and accepted.

“The visit wasn’t mentioned in the Queen’s Speech because a date hasn’t been fixed yet.”


by James Landale, diplomatic correspondent

There is a very good reason for that date not being set. That is because there are concerns within the White House that if Donald Trump came to the UK, there would be some substantial protests.

There is also a concern within the British government that it would not help US-UK relations if the US president was embarrassed.

It is very unlikely he will be coming this year.

This government has only so much bandwidth, that trying to work out precisely when they are going to have a visit from the US president, particularly if he is having cold feet, is something I imagine they will say to put on the back burner for a bit.

When the invitation was first made by Theresa May on behalf of the Queen, there was a lot of concern that she had jumped the gun and gone too fast on this – to give a new US president the offer of a full state visit was a little premature.

Normally that kind of offer does not come until well into the presidency. It quite often happens in a president’s second term – if re-elected – and not all US presidents get full state visits.

So the fact that it is going to be delayed will not come as a huge disappointment to many people who thought it was a little bit too much, too early.

Zionist Organizations in the United States

June 21, 2017

by Harry von Johnston, PhD



Amcha is supported with funds from the Claims Conference.

AMCHA-CJC, The Coalition for Jewish Concerns


AMCHA – The Coalition for Jewish Concerns is an independent grassroots organization dedicated to raising a voice of conscience on behalf of endangered Jews around the world. This global effort includes countering anti-Semitism, advocating for Israel , preserving Holocaust memory, and other pro-Jewish activism.



American Enterprise Institute (AEI)


American Friends of Likud





http://www.ajcongress.org/site/PageServ … name=about


American Sephardi Federation

American Zionist Movement

Americans for Peace Now


Anti-Defamation League (ADL)


Association of Holocaust Organizations (AHO)


Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA)




Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA)


B’nai B’rith International


Bnai Zion Foundation


Bnei Akiva of the United States and Canada


CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America)


Center for Security Policy


Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel (CSPS)


Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)


Chabad on Campus Foundation


Claims Conference (Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany)


Committee on the Present Danger (CPD)


Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations


Emunah of America

Friends of Israel Defense Forces

Ethics and Public Policy Center


Generations of the Shoah International (GSI)


Habonim Dror


Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America


Hashomer Hatzair


Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society


Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life


Holocaust/Genocide Project


Holocaust Teacher Resource Center

Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR)


Institute for Research: Middle Easter Policy


International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews


International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)


International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT)


International Relations and Security Network


Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs (JCPA)


Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies


Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI)


Jewish Community Centers Association


Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Frontpage- Don’t Change

Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)


Jewish Labor Committee


Jewish National Fund


Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA)


Jewish Reconstructionist Federation


Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)


Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS)


Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (JWV)


Jewish Women International (JWI)


Jews in the Woods (JITW or JitW) also referred to as Fruity Jews or Fruity Jews in the Woods





Magshimey Herut


Manhattan Institute


MERCAZ USA, Zionist Organization of the Conservative Movement


Middle East Forum


Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)


Moishe House Boston: Kavod Jewish Social Justice House


Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies




National Center for Jewish Film


National Council of Jewish Women


National Council of Young Israel


NCSJ, Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia


North American Federation of Temple Youth


One Jerusalem


Rabbinical Assembly (RA)


Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)


Religious Zionists of America (RZA or Mizrahi)

Homepage 3

Set America Free

A new coalition of neo-con, Jewish, and green groups to reduce U.S. reliance on oil imports


Shalem Center


Shalom Center


Simon Wiesenthal Center

http://www.wiesenthal.com/site/pp.asp?c … H&b=242023

State of Israel Bonds/Development Corporation for Israel


Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research



Tehilla: The Union for Religious Aliyah


Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)


Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union or OU)


United Jewish Communities (UJC)


The UJC was formed from the 1999 merger of United Jewish Appeal (UJA), Council of Jewish Federations (CJF), and United Israel Appeal (UIA).

United Jewish Peoples’ Order


United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ)


USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education


Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP)


Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO)


Women’s League for Conservative Judaism (WLCJ)


Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ)


Workmen’s Circle (Arbeter Ring)


World Council of Jewish Communal Service (WCJCS)


World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust (WFJCSH)


World ORT


World Union of Jewish Students


World Zionist Executive, US

World Zionist Organization

http://www.jewishagency.org/JewishAgenc … Sites/WZO/



Yad Vashem: The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority


Yavneh Olami


Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)


Scorching summer temperatures bring worst heat to south-west US in years

As the first day of summer rolls in, states such as Arizona face temperatures of up to 120F that are causing trouble for transport, the power grid and workers

June 20, 2017


The first day of summer brought some of the worst heat the south-west US has seen in years, forcing flights to be canceled, straining the power grid and making life miserable for workers toiling in temperatures that reached 120F or higher in some desert cities.

Arizona, Nevada and California saw dramatic temperatures Tuesday as researchers say deadly heat waves like this one were going to grow more frequent.

Meteorologists in Phoenix said Tuesday evening the temperature topped out at 119F, which has only been matched or surpassed four other times.

The forecast called for a high of 120F – (nearly 49C) – in Phoenix, which the city hasn’t seen in more than two decades. Death Valley, California, reached 125F and Palm Springs hit 121F, still a degree lower than the same day last year.

At a downtown Phoenix construction site, men in hard hats and yellow vests labored and sweat in the morning heat and downed water to stay hydrated. The project superintendent, Tommy Russell, says his company has held weekly safety meetings to prepare for the heat, and he will send all his workers home if it hits 120 degrees.

“We anticipate the weather, so we keep everyone hydrated, we keep everyone watered down,” Russell said.

Las Vegas also was baking. Out-of-town visitors tried to stay inside air-conditioned casinos as much as possible, and some tourists lugged packs of bottled water around the Strip. Others went to a bar where the temperature is set at 23F (-5C), and glasses, walls and seats are sculpted from ice.

Tonya and Lavonda Williams traveled to Sin City from Orlando, Florida, to get out of town and see the Backstreet Boys in concert. Walking on the Las Vegas Strip in 112F was too much to handle, even for people accustomed to high temperatures.

“This is like the oven door is open,” Lavonda Williams said as the sisters walked from a pedestrian bridge into The Palazzo casino-resort.

“It’s too hot to even drink alcohol,” Tonya Williams added.

Juan Guadalupe, a landscaper, scaled a spindly palm tree more than 50ft tall in Phoenix, using a chain saw to hack the branches. He planned to drink at least two gallons of water and quit his day at 2pm – before the really ugly temperatures arrive.

He didn’t mind being tethered to a tall tree while operating a chainsaw because he occasionally catches a cool breeze.

With the cooling and hydration stations in full swing across the region, hundreds flocked Grace Lutheran Church in Phoenix for water, meals, snacks and refuge.

“We have homeless people come from a long way to sit here,” said longtime volunteer Moses Elder. “There are other spots where you can go get cold water and sit down and cool off, but there are few places you can lay down and get something to eat.”

The church houses about 180 people every day during the summer and typically goes through about 25 cases of water and 50 pounds of ice a day, Elder said.

Phoenix has hit 120 only three times in recorded history – the last time 22 years ago. The record high was 122 degrees on 26 June 1990.

The city reached 118 on Monday, which the National Weather Service says is rare. In fact, temperatures at that mark or higher have only been recorded 15 times since record-keeping started in 1896.

The weather comes as new research found that nearly one in three people now experience 20 days a year when the heat reaches deadly levels. The study of almost 2,000 deadly heat waves worldwide since 1980 was published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

In the south-west US, the heat has already caused several problems.

In addition to grounding more than 40 flights of smaller planes, airlines have been taking other measures on larger jets to reduce their weight. An American Airlines spokesman, Ross Feinstein, said the carrier began limiting sales on some flights to prevent the planes from exceeding maximum weight for safe takeoff in the hot conditions.

The main burn center in Phoenix has issued a warning to people to be careful around car interiors and pavement and with their pets.

People showed up at a PetSmart store in Tempe on Tuesday to receive free booties to put on their pets’ paws so they don’t burn on concrete and pavement.

Shelby Barnes, 48, picked up three sets of the booties for her dogs. She says she will yell at people who walk their dogs without them in the afternoon heat.

“If you can’t put your foot on the sidewalk, neither can they,” she said.




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