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Journal Archives

Pentagon Again Suspends Large-Scale Military Exercises With South Korea

By Helene Cooper
March 1, 2019

WASHINGTON — The United States and South Korea will suspend two large-scale joint military exercises this spring, two American officials said Friday, as part of President Trump’s efforts to maintain the truce he has struck with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea.

A limited version of the training drills, however, are still expected to go forward, officials said. The United States and South Korea have long held large-scale exercises in the spring, known as Key Resolve and Foal Eagle — the latter of which usually includes thousands of ground, naval, air and special operations troops from both nations.

The decision to scale back the military exercises follows nuclear talks this week between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim that ended without an agreement on how — or whether — to shut down North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. As the Trump administration continues to seek a resolution, a Defense Department official said, the high-profile missile exercises that Pyongyang views as provocative will be toned down.

The official said the decision to formally suspend the large-scale drills was expected to be announced by the United States and South Korea in the next few days. It was first reported by NBC News.

It is the latest in a series of planned military exercises that Washington and Seoul have canceled in the past year in order to avoid roiling Pyongyang. Mr. Trump has also said that the war drills cost too much.


Poster Linking Ilhan Omar To 9/11 Attack Causes Fight To Break Out At WV Statehouse...

Controversy erupts over anti-Muslim display in W.Va. Capitol; Sgt. at Arms resigns; doorkeeper hurt

By Amber Sipe, WSAZ News Staff | Posted: Fri 2:53 PM, Mar 01, 2019 | Updated: Sat 12:41 AM, Mar 02, 2019

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- UPDATE 3/1/19 @ 10:30 p.m.

The reverberations of an anti-Muslim poster on display at the West Virginia Capitol rotunda continue, with the House Sergeant at Arms resigning and talk of possible discipline against a lawmaker who allegedly injured a doorkeeper Friday.

West Virginia Public Radio reported Democratic Del. Mike Pushkin, who is Jewish, stood to condemn the poster at the beginning of the floor session, comparing it to the propaganda that might have been seen prior to or in the early days of Nazi rule.

“Maybe it's a little bit personal for me because, you know, I'm also a member of a religious minority who you know in the early ’30s in Germany, you might see a similar poster about a different religion — and that's one of the many reasons why that bothers me,” Pushkin said.

Pushkin also tweeted out a photo of the poster, writing: “This poster is in your Capitol on a booth sponsored by ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them.’”

Sgt. at Arms Anne Lieberman resigned Friday afternoon after delegates accused her of using an anti-Muslim slur. "The sergeant of arms of this body had the nerve to say to us 'all Muslims are terrorists' that's beyond shameful and that's beyond freedom of speech," Del. Michael Angelucci, D-Marion, said.

The anti-Muslim display was outside the House of Delegates chamber as part of a “Republicans Take the Rotunda” event.

A lawmaker told us Friday evening that the House Rules Committee will meet at 8 a.m. Saturday to decide if Del. Mike Caputo, D-Marion, will face repercussions for allegedly injuring a doorkeeper during an angry outburst regarding the poster. Caputo is the minority whip in the House.

Caputo admitted to kicking the door because he wanted to get into the chamber and he said he was being blocked. "We have created an anger that I have never witnessed in 23 years in this body and it sickens me. It absolutely sickens me. So yeah, I kicked the door open I'll own it," Caputo said. The doorkeeper was taken to the hospital for evaluation.


House Panel Demands White House Turn Over Jared Kushner Clearance Records

Requests for documents and witnesses were made by a Democratic-led committee looking into alleged security clearance abuses involving President Donald Trump’s son-in-law.

David Morgan

WASHINGTON, March 1 (Reuters) - A Democratic-led congressional panel on Friday demanded that the White House comply with requests for documents and witnesses for a probe into alleged security clearance abuses involving President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and others.

After weeks of White House stonewalling, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, in a letter to the White House, said “I am now writing a final time to request your voluntary cooperation.” Cummings panel has subpoena power.

Cummings highlighted in his letter a New York Times story that said Trump ordered his former chief of staff John Kelly to provide Kushner with clearance over objections from Kelly and Donald McGahn, then White House counsel.

The Times said Kelly and McGahn both wrote memos about the incident and that McGahn outlined concerns raised about Kushner by career security officials, including CIA officers.

“If true, these new reports raise grave questions about what derogatory information career officials obtained about Mr.Kushner to recommend denying him access to our nation’s most sensitive secrets,” Cummings wrote to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone in the March 1 letter, which appeared to set the stage for his committee to subpoena the material.


Trump Asks China To 'Immediately' Remove Agricultural Tariffs

March 01, 2019 - 06:59 PM EST


President Trump said Friday he has asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to "immediately" lift all tariffs on U.S. agricultural products as Washington and Beijing work to bring an end to months-long negotiations over a trade deal.

“I have asked China to immediately remove all Tariffs on our agricultural products (including beef, pork, etc.) based on the fact that we are moving along nicely with Trade discussions and I did not increase their second traunch of Tariffs to 25% on March 1st. This is very important for our great farmers - and me!” Trump tweeted.

Trump followed up his comments on Monday by proclaiming that he and Xi are “very, very close” to reaching a final settlement. The two sides had also decided in December to impose a 90-day détente on slapping on new levies as negotiations got underway.

Prior to the truce, Beijing and Washington had put tit-for-tat tariffs on each other, with China targeting manufacturing and agricultural exports from key areas in the midwest to ramp up pressure on the White House.


Venezuelan PDVSA Moves HQ To Moscow To 'Safeguard Oil Assets Against Seizure'

Published time: 1 Mar, 2019 15:43
Edited time: 1 Mar, 2019 16:44

Venezuela’s state-run energy giant PDVSA will relocate its European office to the Russian capital because of high risks of potential confiscation of oil revenues amid US sanctions against the country’s energy sector.

“Venezuela is worried about further sanctions and asset seizures of PDVSA,” Mehmet Ogutcu, chair of the Bosphorus Energy Club, told RT. “Hence the decision to relocate its European headquarters to Russia so that the assets could not be risked.”

According to the expert, the Venezuelan government is struggling to find new buyers for heavy crude, which had been previously sold to US refineries. The US purchased around 500,000 barrels oil per day from Venezuela before Washington introduced economic penalties against PDVSA, freezing $7 billion of the company’s assets.

Russian energy corporations might easily purchase Venezuelan crude, aiming to further re-sell the shipments.

“Russia has already extended loans to Venezuela and has been receiving crude oil to compensate the debt repayment,” Ogutcu said.

At the same time, Moscow and Caracas could establish barter cooperation with Russia providing humanitarian goods to Venezuela in exchange for crude, according to Anton Pokatovich, chief analyst at investment bank BKS Premier.

“Russia could develop the same mechanism the European Union is trying to currently deploy not to halt trading with Iranian crude sector,” the analyst told RT.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section


No Military Intervention In Venezuela, Just Appropriate Actions - Abrams

Published time: 1 Mar, 2019 19:15

US envoy to Venezuela and regime change enthusiast Elliott Abrams offered no specifics on the US’s further plans to oust President Nicolas Maduro, but warned that “dictatorships come to an end.”

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Abrams – the regime change engineer behind Iran/Contra – dismissed warnings from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that the US might intervene militarily in crisis-stricken Venezuela.

“I don’t think he actually believes we’re attempting to do that,” Abrams said. Abrams did state the oft-repeated line that “all options are on the table,” but that the US would stick to economic, diplomatic, and other “appropriate actions” for the meantime.

“Dictatorships come to an end,” Abrams shrugged when asked about "loosing momentum" and comparisons between Libya and Venezuela.“Some last for a very long time, others a much shorter time. This one in Venezuela will also come to an end. We hope that it comes to an end quickly and peacefully.”

With military intervention shelved for the meantime, Abrams gave self-declared interim president Juan Guaido a pep talk. Guaido, he said “has become much more of an international figure in the last week,” meeting with various Latin American leaders and with US Vice President Mike Pence.


Here's a {{{chuckle}}}

"Abrams gave self-declared interim president Juan Guaido a pep talk. Guaido, he said “has become much more of an international figure in the last week,” meeting with various Latin American leaders and with US Vice President Mike Pence."

Yep, just like Trump's meeting with lil Kim this week, eh?

White House Is Weighing " Temporary Protected Status" For Venezuelans


MARCH 01, 2019 05:14 PM


The White House is considering special protected immigration status to Venezuelans, a move that would prevent undocumented immigrants from the embattled South American country from being deported.

According to five people familiar with the discussions, the White House has been having high-level discussions about the possibility of granting , or TPS, to Venezuelans in the United States, which would give qualified recipients the chance to legally remain in the country and get work permits.

Elliot Abrams, the Trump administration’s special envoy to Venezuela, has been one of the officials championing the cause at the White House. The idea also has received the support Vice President Mike Pence who earlier this week met in Colombia with Juan Guaidó, the internationally-recognized interim president of Venezuela.

Venezuelan-American activists, immigrant advocates and South Florida lawmakers have been lobbying the Trump administration to protect undocumented Venezuelan immigrants. But hard-line immigration activists also have taken notice of the discussions and have started to fight back - arguing TPS is not the proper way to address the crisis.


Since it is the US sanctions causing most of the upheaval there, let the caravans begin...

Hundreds Of Syrian Refugees Return From Lebanon

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-01 05:18:03|Editor: Yamei

DAMASCUS, Feb.28 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of Syrian refugees returned from Lebanon to Syria on Thursday, state news agency SANA reported.

A total of 22 buses transported the Syrian refugees into Syria and delivered them to their hometowns in the countryside of Homs Province in central Syria, as well as the countryside of the provinces of Aleppo, Hama, Deir al-Zour and Damascus.

According to SANA, dozens of batches of Syrian refugees have returned to Syria from Lebanon over the past few months after their areas were cleared of rebels.

More than 1 million Syrian refugees are registered with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Lebanon, while the Lebanese government estimated the true number of Syrians in the country at 1.5 million.

To facilitate the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland, Russia drafted a strategy and presented it to the Lebanese authorities.


One can only imagine what a clusterfuvk Syria would be today had not Russia/Iran intervened to stop the judeo-christian "regime change"...

What If They Started a War and No One Showed Up?

Philip Giraldi • February 21, 2019 •

The humiliation of United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Warsaw last week was a good thing. The ancient Greeks, exercising their demonstrated ability to synthesize defining characteristics, had a word for it: hubris. Hubris is when one develops an extreme and unreasonable feeling of confidence in a certain course of action that inevitably leads to one’s downfall when that conceit proves to be based on false principles.

Pompeo was in Warsaw for a “summit” arranged by the US State Department in partnership with the Polish government to discuss with representatives of sixty nations what to do about the fractious situation in the Middle East. In advance, he promised that the meeting would “deliver really good outcomes.” The gathering was initially conceived as a “war against Iran” precursor, intended to pull together a coalition against the Persians, but when it became clear that many of the potential participants would balk at such a designation, it assumed a broader agenda concerning “Peace and Security in the Middle East.”

Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria were not, not surprisingly, invited as some of them were the expected targets of whatever remedial action the conference might recommend. Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu was, of course, present, tweeting in advance of the gathering that it would be all about “war against Iran.” He also characteristically delivered a warning that Iran was planning a “second holocaust” for his country.

Many countries, including regional power Turkey, and global powers Russia and China refused to participate at all. The European Union, the French and the Germans all sent career diplomats to the meeting rather than their Foreign Ministers while Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt only agreed to attend at the last minute after he was granted his wish to head a discussion session on Yemen.

The meeting was overshadowed by the context in which it took place, something that Pompeo was apparently too tone deaf to appreciate. The Europeans, to include close allies Britain, France and Germany have all been openly opposed to the White House’s completely irrational decision last year to exit from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which placed limits verified by intrusive inspections on Iran’s nuclear program. America’s closest allies made clear that they object to being told how and with whom they are permitted to do business, and they were finally doing something about it. Even US intelligence confirms that Iran has been fully compliant with the nuclear agreement, but the dunces in the White House are too blinded by hubris to change course.


Do Members of Congress Take Too Many Private Trips to Israel With AIPAC?

41% now want their representatives to visit Palestinians

by Grant Smith Posted on March 01, 2019

One of every three members of Congress boarding a jetliner on a privately-funded all-expense paid trip overseas has Israel as their final destination. Only one out of a hundred ever visits Palestinian territories as a final destination.

Analysis of Gift Travel Filings made to the US House of Representatives Office of the Clerk over the past half-decade reveals Israel is far and away their top foreign destination. House of Representatives members made nearly 1,400 trips to Israel, while total subsidized visits to foreign countries other than Israel were 2,500.

The vast majority of Israel trips are funded by the American Israel Education Foundation which raises tax-exempt contributions from pro-Israel donors and Jewish federations. They typically last eight days and cost $10,000. AEIF is a corporation created in 1988 by the domestically-registered lobbying group AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In 2009 66% of AEIF’s board was comprised of AIPAC directors. Since AIEF is merely a lobbying funding conduit with no employees, whenever members of Congress travel to Israel, they are accompanied instead by staffers from AIPAC. In 2017 AIEF reported raising $60 million in revenue and expending $57 million. Another sole-purpose entity set up by AIPAC in 1984 is the Washington Institute for Near East Policy which works to portray policies favored by the Israeli government as being in the American interest.

AIPAC differs from many other groups funding private trips because of its foundational foreign ties. AIPAC lobbying began in earnest in the 1950s by a former employee of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Isaiah Kenen – who received ongoing payments from Israel to set up public relations and lobbying in the US. Kenen was paid by the Israeli government to receive congressional delegations in Israel after major aid packages were passed into law. Late in 1962, the umbrella organization in which AIPAC served as the lobby division was ordered by the Justice Department to register as an Israeli foreign agent. Six weeks later AIPAC incorporated and filed for tax-exempt status as a religious charity. These historic facts never appear in mainstream reports about AIPAC.

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