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Hometown: Michigan
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Member since: Tue May 13, 2014, 05:11 PM
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Journal Archives

NATO Mission Creep On Road To Russia Reaches Montenegro (RT)

By Danielle Ryan
Published time: 30 Apr, 2017 10:55
Edited time: 30 Apr, 2017 14:38

This week’s vote by Montenegro’s parliament to ratify the protocol for the tiny Balkan nation’s admittance into the NATO alliance was a cruel irony.

Less than 20 years ago, during the Kosovo War, when the country was still part of Serbia, NATO jets were pounding Montenegro with depleted uranium bombs. Those bombs caused long-term damage to the nation’s health, which doctors today have linked to increases in systemic cancers among the population. Unsurprisingly, there remains some deeply anti-NATO feeling in the country today — and NATO membership is a hugely divisive issue.

Nonetheless, Montenegro’s government decided to forgo a referendum on NATO membership, denying the country’s citizens any say in the matter.

Why Montenegro?

American lawmakers have been enthusiastically anticipating Montenegro’s arrival into the alliance, but it has little to do with the country being of any significant military value — because Montenegro delivers absolutely nothing to NATO in terms of military strength. The country’s 2,000 troops are hardly a big draw, though its location is strategically significant and would give NATO almost full control of the Adriatic Sea, given that Italy, Croatia and Albania are already members).


SpaceX Launches Sensitive Military Mission, Nails Landing

* Landing, refurbishing rockets for reuse key to Musk’s vision
* Launch marks SpaceX’s fifth successful mission this year

by Dana Hull
May 1, 2017, 7:31 AM EDT May 1, 2017, 8:05 AM EDT

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. launched a sensitive mission for the U.S. military and landed the rocket’s booster on land, marking the company’s fifth successful mission of 2017.

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying NROL-76, a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, rumbled aloft about 7:15 a.m. Monday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a livestream of the mission on SpaceX’s website showed. The launch, originally planned for Sunday, was delayed 24 hours due to a sensor issue.

Roughly nine minutes after lifting off, the rocket’s first stage returned to Earth, a feat that SpaceX first accomplished in December 2015. Landing, refurbishing and reusing rockets is key to the company’s vision of making space travel increasingly affordable.

“Launch and landing of the NRO spy satellite was good,” CEO Musk said on Twitter. “Tough call, as high altitude wind shear was at 98.6% of the theoretical load limit.”


They're getting pretty good at this!~

Trump Says Hed Meet With Kim Jong Un Under Right Circumstances

* ‘I would be honored to do it’ under the right circumstances
* North Korea has become Trump’s top foreign policy challenge

by Margaret Talev and Jennifer Jacobs
May 1, 2017, 12:30 PM EDT

President Donald Trump speaks during an interview in the Oval Office on May 1, 2017. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

President Donald Trump said he would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un amid heightened tensions over his country’s nuclear weapons program if the circumstances were right.

“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” Trump said Monday in an interview with Bloomberg News. “If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that.”

North Korea has become the most urgent national security threat and foreign policy issue facing Trump as his first 100 days in office passed. Kim’s regime has continued development of its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile program in defiance of international condemnation and sanctions. Kim has never met with a foreign leader since taking charge after his father’s death in 2011 and hasn’t left his isolated country.

“Most political people would never say that,” Trump said of his willingness to meet with the reclusive Kim, “but I’m telling you under the right circumstances I would meet with him. We have breaking news.”


I'm good with this. Why not?

Mnuchin Says Reaching 3% U.S. Economic Growth May Take Two Years

by Saleha Mohsin
May 1, 2017, 11:38 AM EDT

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said an overhaul of the tax system, regulatory reform and better trade deals will help produce 3 percent U.S. economic growth within two years.

Returning health in the U.S. job market, a 12 percent rise in stock prices since Trump’s election and consumer sentiment at the highest in 16 years are painting an optimistic picture of the economy. Even so, the economy expanded at its slowest pace in three years at 0.7 percent in the first quarter-- underlining the challenges of an administration aiming for 3 percent or higher annual growth.

It’ll probably take two years to reach 3 percent growth “and then we can have a sustained level,” Mnuchin said in a conversation with Fox Business Network editor Maria Bartiromo at the Milken Institute Global Conference on Monday in Los Angeles.

The Trump administration has placed an overhaul of the tax system -- describing it as the biggest reform in history -- at the top of its legislative agenda. A blueprint released last week includes proposals to slash taxes for business and individuals, simplify the system for filers and close loopholes for the rich, relying on faster economic growth to offset the losses from tax cuts. The goal is for a tax-reform package to be signed into law this year.


Thousands Expected To Hit The Streets For May Day Protests

Rick Jervis , USA TODAY Published 4:38 p.m. ET April 30, 2017 | Updated 8 hours ago

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators are expected to take to the streets Monday in massive May Day events across the USA mostly protesting the policies of President Trump.

May Day — also known as International Worker’s Day — has spawned protests around the globe in past years highlighting workers’ rights. But on Monday, the impetus for the U.S. marches span from immigrants' rights to LGBT awareness to police misconduct.

“There’s a real galvanization of all the groups this year,” said Fernanda Durand of CASA in Action, which will lead a march of about 10,000 people for immigrants' rights through downtown Washington. “Our presence in this country is being questioned by Donald Trump. We are tired of being demonized and scapegoated. We’ve had enough.”

Durand’s protest is part of the Rise Up umbrella movement that promises 259 events in more than 200 cities in 41 states focusing on immigrants' rights, she said.

Another widespread effort, dubbed Beyond the Movement, will feature a collection of racial-justice groups and include protests and marches in more than 50 cities, from Portland, Ore., to Miami.


Tensions Rise Between Turkey, US Along Syrian Border

By Associated Press April 29 at 7:26 PM

ISTANBUL — Tensions rose Saturday along the Turkish-Syrian border as both Turkey and the United States moved armored vehicles to the region and Turkey’s leader once again demanded that the United States stop supporting Syrian Kurdish militants there.

The relocation of Turkish troops to the area came a day after U.S. troops were seen patrolling the tense border in Syria. Those patrols followed a Turkish airstrike against bases of Syrian Kurdish militia, the United States’ main ally in combating Islamic State militants in Syria.

More U.S. troops were seen Saturday in armored vehicles in Syria in Kurdish areas. Kurdish officials described U.S. troop movements as a “buffer” between them and Turkey.

But Turkey views Syria’s Kurdish People’s Protection group, known as YPG, as a terrorist organization and an extension of the Kurdish militants who have been waging a three-decade-long insurgency against Turkey.

“The YPG, and you know who’s supporting them, is attacking us with mortars. But we will make those places their grave, there is no stopping,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.


Turkey Just Banned Wikipedia, Labeling It A National Security Threat

If you try to open Wikipedia in Turkey right now, you'll turn up a swirling loading icon, then a message that the server timed out.

Turkey has blocked Wikipedia. If you're inside the country, you can only access the online encyclopedia through a virtual private network connection to a system outside the country.

Turkish officials reportedly asked the online encyclopedia to remove content by writers “supporting terror.”

Wikipedia “has started acting as part of the circles who carry out a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena, rather than being cooperative in fight against terror,” ministry officials said, according to Al Jazeera. It tried to show Turkey “at the same level and in cooperation with terror groups.”


U.S. Economy Bogs Down In First Quarter With Slowest Growth In 3 Years, GDP Shows

Published: Apr 28, 2017 10:26 a.m. ET

The government’s official scorecard for the U.S. economy in the first quarter pointed to the weakest growth in three years, but the slowdown appeared tied to temporary effects that are likely to give way a rebound in the coming months.

Gross domestic product increased at a meager 0.7% annual pace in the first three months of the year, down from 2.1% and 3.5% in the back half of 2016. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.9% increase.

In recent trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.20% and the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.21% fell slightly.

The steep drop-off stemmed from the smallest increase in consumer spending since the end of 2009, largely reflecting fewer sales at car dealers. Consumer outlays rose just 0.3%, a steep drop from the 3.5% gain at the end of 2016.


Israeli Airstrikes Are Turning Syria Into a Proxy War With Iran

Philip Issa and Zeina Karam / AP
Apr 27, 2017

(BEIRUT) — Syria's military said Israel struck a military installation southwest of Damascus International Airport before dawn Thursday, setting off a series of explosions and raising tensions further between the two neighbors.

Apparently seeking to interrupt weapons transfers to the Hezbollah group in Lebanon, Israel has struck inside Syria with increasing frequency in recent weeks, making the war-torn country a proxy theater for Israel's wider war with Iran.

The increasing tempo of attacks risks inflaming a highly combustible situation drawing in Israel, Syria and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, a staunch ally of President Bashar Assad's government with thousands of fighters in Syria. Israel's military said later Thursday that its Patriot Missile Defense system intercepted an incoming projectile from Syria over the Golan Heights.

An Israeli defense official said the Patriot hit a drone, and the military is checking if it was a Russian aircraft that entered the Israeli side by mistake or if it was Syrian. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with protocol.


Trump: 'I Thought It Would Be Easier'

By Dan Berman, CNN
Updated 1:24 AM ET, Fri April 28, 2017

(CNN)President Donald Trump, reflecting on a first 100 days in office that has featured no major legislative wins and low approval ratings, said Thursday he thought the job would be easier.

"I loved my previous life, I loved my previous life. I had so many things going," Trump said in an interview with Reuters. "I actually, this is more work than my previous life. I thought it would be easier."

He later added, "I do miss my old life. This -- I like to work. But this is actually more work."

Trump also said he misses his pre-presidency freedom -- a sentiment often expressed by Oval Office occupants who find themselves in the security bubble of the White House.

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