“Russia’s Arctic region is strategically important for the Kremlin …. First, it contains major population centers: With 350,000 inhabitants, Arkhangelsk is the largest Arctic town, followed by Murmansk, with 300,000 … Under … Putin, the Russian Arctic has been emphasized as a patriotic and nationalistic theme. Secondly, Russia’s economy relies heavily on its oil and gas industry, and such resources are heavily present in the Arctic, including in the Yamal region, where Russia has recently developed a massive liquified natural gas (LNG) plant and terminal. Russia … is particularly sensitive to security issues around energy infrastructure ….
Thirdly, the Northern Sea Route (NSR) … along Russia’s northern shore, between the Kara Sea and the Bering Strait  is becoming increasingly navigable. … Russia’s Northern Fleet is based in the Kola Peninsula, near Murmansk, and contains two-thirds of Russia’s nuclear submarine fleet … the Arctic … protects Russia’s strategic deterrent and … allows a sizable share of its Navy to reach the northern Atlantic. Russia’s military capabilities in the Arctic have steadily increased over the past ten years. Russia has opened new airfields and refurbished old ones; created a dedicated northern command for the region; and set up two Arctic brigades. It also is planning to substantially increase its icebreaker fleet … already … the largest in the world. Russia’s new military base on Aleksandra Land is touted as the ‘largest building in the entire circumpolar high Arctic.’ …”
“… Putin said on Saturday there had been no discussion with Ukraine about the possible release of the Ukrainian sailors who were seized along with their ships by Russia last month. Putin spoke with reporters on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Buenos Aires. Russia is resisting international calls to release three Ukrainian naval ships that its border patrols fired upon and seized in the strait near Russian-annexed Crimea last weekend. …”
“Germany will not withdraw its political support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia, its foreign minister said … as some lawmakers suggested curtailing the project to punish Moscow for its seizure of Ukrainian ships and their crew. Russia is resisting international calls to release three Ukrainian ships seized last month in the Kerch Strait, which controls access to the Sea of Azov near the Crimea region that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. … Russia’s Gazprom is the sole shareholder in Nord Stream 2, shouldering half of the construction cost. Its Western partners are Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Anglo-Dutch group Royal Dutch Shell, France’s Engie and Austria’s OMV. …”
“Russian energy majors are putting pressure on Western oil buyers to use euros instead of dollars for payments and introducing penalty clauses in contracts as Moscow seeks protection against possible new U.S. sanctions. … Western oil majors and trading houses have clashed with Russia’s third and fourth biggest producers, Gazprom Neft and Surgutneftegaz, over 2019 oil sales contract terms during unusually tough annual renegotiation in recent weeks. … mirror[ing] a similar stand-off between Western buyers and Russia’s top oil producer, Rosneft.
* * * Russia has been under U.S. and EU sanctions since 2014 when it invaded Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. The sanctions have been repeatedly widened to include new companies and sectors, making it tough for Russian oil firms to borrow money abroad, raise new capital or develop Arctic and unconventional deposits. * * * … Russia supplies over 10 percent of global oil ….”
“Russia is challenging the U.S. by hosting the Taliban at a Moscow peace conference in the latest source of friction …. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who pressed Russia to cancel a similar meeting in September, sent four senior members of his nation’s High Peace Council … * * * Russia, which backs Taliban demands for a pullout of American forces, invited regional powers including Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the talks as well as the U.S. Ghani opposed the September meeting in a call to Lavrov, demanding that any peace moves be Afghan-led. * * * … Russia denies arming the Taliban though it says it’s in dialogue with the movement that ruled the country from 1996 to 2001. It fought a decade-long war in Afghanistan during the Soviet era, losing thousands of troops before a humiliating military withdrawal in 1989.”
“… NATO’s largest exercise since the Cold War. … [involves] 50,000 troops …. [m]oving forces from 30 countries to Norway for … Trident Juncture …. [T]en thousand vehicles, 250 aircraft and 65 ships were dispatched …. * * * NATO and the [EU] … [have] agreed to deepen cooperation … including [with] mobility. The EU … spends billions … annually [on] infrastructure … [and] is adding NATO [ strategic transportation] requirements …. NATO … leaders approved … a new command to oversee logistics … and another to ensure Atlantic and Arctic sea lanes remain open …. * * * After Crimea’s seizure, NATO … realized how far their logistics capabilities had atrophied as alliance territory expanded. A dozen ex-communist countries had joined …. Yet NATO planners had ‘zero knowledge’ of their … infrastructure …. NATO launched a survey …. * * * Europe’s next step will be arranging trucks, ships and railcars that can be summoned on short notice …. Buying civilian equipment with military uses doesn’t count toward NATO members’ spending commitments ….”
“Russian investigators … opened a criminal probe into a failed rocket launch that caused a two-man crew to make an emergency landing shortly after blast-off to the [International Space Station] …. U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin were rescued without injuries …. An ‘anomaly’ with the booster led to the voyage … being aborted two minutes in, NASA said. The Russian space industry has suffered a series of problems in recent years, including the loss of a number of satellites and cargo spacecraft. [Roscosmo is headed by] Dmitry Rogozin … appointed by … Putin ….”
“The Russian military says it has conducted a massive test of the nation’s strategic nuclear forces … featur[ing] launches of ballistic missiles by the navy’s nuclear submarines from the Barents Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. … long-range bombers also fired cruise missiles, the ministry said …. It added that Russia’s early warning system successfully spotted and tracked all launches. … test[ing] the chain of command from its main control room down to military units. …”
“… Accused by a number of Western nations and their Middle Eastern allies of war crimes, Assad has managed to largely overcome a 2011 rebel and jihadi uprising with the support of Russia and Iran. * * * The United States, Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were among the countries to fund efforts to overthrow the Syrian leader. The rise of ultraconservative Sunni Muslim organizations such as the Islamic State … and a sweeping Syrian military comeback … have changed the dynamics ….
Defense Secretary James Mattis [said] in August that the U.S. goal was to ‘move the Syria civil war into the Geneva process so the Syrian people can establish a new government … not led by Assad and give them a chance for a future that Assad has denied them, with overt Russian and Iranian support.’ A document submitted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top diplomats … stressed that their countries would not support Syrian reconstruction efforts ‘before the beginning of political process led by the United Nations to achieve a comprehensive, honest and true political transition that cannot be reversed,’ according to Saudi Arabia’s Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. …”
“India and Russia … signed a pact to build six more nuclear reactors at a new site in India following summit talks …. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also agreed to cooperate on India’s plan for a manned space mission. Russian state-owned reactor manufacturer Rosatom said … the two countries want to build six Russian-design nuclear reactors on a new site in India, boost nuclear cooperation in third countries and new nuclear technologies and are considering building nuclear plants together. The firm said Russia would offer to build its third-generation VVER reactor on the new site and would increase the level of participation of Indian companies ….
[T]he pact is not a firm contract … but an agreement to work toward a contract. … India has not chosen the new site yet, which could be controversial …. Last year, the Russian and Indian governments signed an agreement to build reactors 5 and 6 on the site and Putin said at the time that Russia is ready to build a dozen reactors in India over … 20 years. …”
“Syrian Turkey-backed rebel groups began to withdraw heavy weaponry from a demilitarized zone agreed [upon] by Turkey and Russia in northwest Syria on Saturday, rebels said. The Turkey-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) rebel alliance said in a statement the process of withdrawing heavy weapons had begun, but the fighters would remain in their positions …. Under the deal … rebels will be required to withdraw by the middle of this month … and heavy weaponry must be withdrawn by Oct. 10. The NFL … said … rebels would remain … to assist Turkish troops monitoring and patrolling …. The main jihadist group in the Idlib area, Tahrir al-Sham, has yet to say whether it will comply with the agreement.”
Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, on Oct. 6, 2018, was confirmed to a seat as Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court by a Senate vote of 50-48.
One Senator voting “present,” indicating that, while she would have voted “no,” she was pairing her vote, presumably as a courtesy, was pairing her vote with another Senator who was absent for his daughter’s wedding.
There was recurring bedlam from the Senate gallery, with Vice President Mike Pence repeatedly instructing the Sergeant at Arms to restore order.
So Kavanaugh was not actually confirmed by a majority of the Senate itself, but merely a slight majority of those Senators present. Had one vote changed to the negative, Pence could have broken the tie in favor of confirmation. Apparently if all Senators had been present, the Senator attending the wedding, and the Senator pairing her vote with him, would have made the total 51-49, also resulting in confirmation.
The Kavanaugh nomination drew controversy on multiple counts. Some proponents of decriminalized abortion suggested that Kavanaugh might become the deciding vote on the Court to scale back or reverse past decisions blocking prosecutions for abortion, while others suggested the Kavanaugh would actually uphold abortion.
The author of this article repeatedly raised concerns about Kavanaugh’s association with outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Kavanaugh’s ongoing publicly professed admiration for Kennedy.
Kennedy is one of the main architects of judicially spawned abortion in the United States, as well as a major architect of judicially fostered homosexual jurisprudence. Kennedy was the deciding vote and co-author of the Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania v. Casey decision in 1992 that carried forward decriminalized abortion when it essentially upheld but modified Roe v. Wade. Kavanaugh clerked for Kennedy within a year or so of that decision.
Kennedy would later vote, and co-author, Supreme Court jurisprudence promoting the idea of sodomy, homosexuality and homosexual “marriage” as Constitutional rights.
Kavanaugh updated and reaffirmed his association with Kennedy during Kavanaugh’s nomination process by declaring Kennedy to be a champion of liberty, leaving a legacy of liberty. As pointed out by the author, that position defies the notion that the first liberty is the right of the innocent not to be deprived of life, as well as the concept that a government’s legitimacy is grounded up its defense of human life, one of the tenets of other basic principles such as justice and peaceful social order.
Meanwhile, however excruciating or involved the confirmation and investigative process might have become, there appeared to be no definitive resolution of questions raised about past alcohol-related criminal sexual wrongdoing by Kavanaugh, alleged by psychology professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, or other issues raised by Ford or others. One might wonder why, and how, a process that became so intrusive and so involved did not manage to get to the bottom of what actually did, or did not, happen.
In the past, a scholar of evidence raised the point that, regardless of a generalized American concept of “innocent until proven guilty,” in law, itself, there are different standards of proof for different frameworks and different purposes. For example, a criminal proceeding aimed at depriving life or liberty requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, while a civil proceeding considering financial compensation only requires proof by a preponderance of the evidence. Even within a civil proceeding, there are different levels of proof for such steps as summary judgment, dismissal, the awarding of legal fees against a frivolous claim, and so forth.
In the case of a confirmation hearing, the issue is not whether to deprive the nominee of life or liberty, or of extracting money damages. The issue is whether to abstain from providing a position of great power. So, even though the subject matter relates to allegations of criminality and allegations of tortious misconduct, the standard of proof, and the willingness to remain neutral by not moving forward with confirmation, presumably could be different than the standards of proof for a criminal trial or civil proceeding.
“Nearly 200 children who returned to school unvaccinated have been sent home across North Dakota … * * * One of the new required shots for school children is the meningococcal conjugate vaccine for 16- and 17-year-olds entering the 11th and 12th grades … [addressing] a serious bacterial infection that can cause meningitis and ‘possibly lead to death or permanent disability within hours of first symptoms’ …. the disease can also have … non-fatal consequences [such as] ‘… lifelong … neurological damage or loss of limbs. …’
Parents can ask for [moral or religious] exemptions …. Children who have been excluded usually return within three days, according to West Fargo Public Schools. … [T]he immunization rate for measles, mumps and rubella … [has a] national median of 94 percent, reported Inforum.”
In the latest round of U.S. indictments of Russian figures in connection with espionage, hacking, or other covert activities, the U.S. Department of Justice, on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, announced an indictment, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, of Russian GRU military intelligence officers Leksei Sergeyevich Morenets, Evgenii Mikhaylovich Serebriakov, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, Oleg Mikhaylovich Sotnikov and Alexey Valerevich Minin, for conspiracy, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to launder money.
The Russian hacking and other covert activities were alleged to included activities targeting: international efforts against Russia’s state-sponsored program athletic doping; international efforts to enforce international norms regarding chemical weapons; and Westinghouse in western Pennsylvania.
U.S. Charges Russian GRU Officers with International Hacking and Related Influence and Disinformation Operations
Conspirators Included a Russian Intelligence “Close Access” Hacking Team that Traveled Abroad to Compromise Computer Networks Used by Anti-Doping and Sporting Officials and Organizations Investigating Russia’s Use of Chemical Weapons
A grand jury in the Western District of Pennsylvania has indicted seven defendants, all officers in the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a military intelligence agency of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, for computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.
According to the indictment, beginning in or around December 2014 and continuing until at least May 2018, the conspiracy conducted persistent and sophisticated computer intrusions affecting U.S. persons, corporate entities, international organizations, and their respective employees located around the world, based on their strategic interest to the Russian government.
Among the goals of the conspiracy was to publicize stolen information as part of an influence and disinformation campaign designed to undermine, retaliate against, and otherwise delegitimize the efforts of international anti-doping organizations and officials who had publicly exposed a Russian state-sponsored athlete doping program and to damage the reputations of athletes around the world by falsely claiming that such athletes were using banned or performance-enhancing drugs.
The charges were announced at a press conference by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott W. Brady, FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Cyber Division, Eric Welling, and Director General Mark Flynn for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
“State-sponsored hacking and disinformation campaigns pose serious threats to our security and to our open society, but the Department of Justice is defending against them,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “Today we are indicting seven GRU officers for multiple felonies each, including the use of hacking to spread the personal information of hundreds of anti-doping officials and athletes as part of an effort to distract from Russia’s state-sponsored doping program. The defendants in this case allegedly targeted multiple Americans and American entities for hacking, from our national anti-doping agency to the Westinghouse Electric Company near Pittsburgh. We are determined to achieve justice in these cases and we will continue to protect the American people from hackers and disinformation.”
“The investigation leading to the indictments announced t (link is external)oday is the FBI at its best,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The actions of these seven hackers, all working as officials for the Russian government, were criminal, retaliatory, and damaging to innocent victims and the United States’ economy, as well as to world organizations. Their actions extended beyond borders, but so did the FBI’s investigation. We worked closely with our international partners to identify the actors and disrupt their criminal campaign – and today, we are sending this message: The FBI will not permit any government, group, or individual to threaten our people, our country, or our partners. We will work tirelessly to find them, stop them, and bring them to justice.”
“We want the hundreds of victims of these Russian hackers to know that we will do everything we can to hold these criminals accountable for their crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Brady. State actors who target U.S. citizens and companies are no different than any other common criminal: they will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The defendants, all Russian nationals and residents, are Aleksei Sergeyevich Morenets, 41, Evgenii Mikhaylovich, Serebriakov, 37, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, 32, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, 30, and Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, 27, who were each assigned to Military Unit 26165, and Oleg Mikhaylovich Sotnikov, 46, and Alexey Valerevich Minin, 46, who were also GRU officers.
The indictment alleges that defendants Yermakov, Malyshev, Badin, and unidentified conspirators, often using fictitious personas and proxy servers, researched victims, sent spearphishing emails, and compiled, used, and monitored malware command and control servers.
When the conspirators’ remote hacking efforts failed to capture log-in credentials, or if the accounts that were successfully compromised did not have the necessary access privileges for the sought-after information, teams of GRU technical intelligence officers, including Morenets, Serebriakov, Sotnikov, and Minin, traveled to locations around the world where targets were physically located. Using specialized equipment, and with the remote support of conspirators in Russia, including Yermakov, these close access teams hacked computer networks used by victim organizations or their personnel through Wi-Fi connections, including hotel Wi-Fi networks. After a successful hacking operation, the close access team transferred such access to conspirators in Russia for exploitation.
Among other instances, the indictment alleges that following a series of high-profile independent investigations starting in 2015, which publicly exposed Russia’s systematic state-sponsored subversion of the drug testing processes prior to, during, and subsequent to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics (according to one report, known as the “McLaren Report”), the conspirators began targeting systems used by international anti-doping organizations and officials. After compromising those systems, the defendants stole credentials, medical records, and other data, including information regarding therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), which allow athletes to use otherwise prohibited substances.
Using social media accounts and other infrastructure acquired and maintained by GRU Unit 74455 in Russia, the conspiracy thereafter publicly released selected items of stolen information, in many cases in a manner that did not accurately reflect their original form, under the false auspices of a hacktivist group calling itself the “Fancy Bears’ Hack Team.” As part of its influence and disinformation efforts, the Fancy Bears’ Hack Team engaged in a concerted effort to draw media attention to the leaks through a proactive outreach campaign. The conspirators exchanged e-mails and private messages with approximately 186 reporters in an apparent attempt to amplify the exposure and effect of their message.
Each defendant is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, both of which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years. Defendants Morenets, Serebriakov, Yermakov, Malyshev, and Badin are each also charged with two counts of aggravated identity theft, which carries a consecutive sentence of two years in prison. Defendant Yermakov is also charged with five counts of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Defendants Yermakov, Malyshev, and Badin are also charged defendants in federal indictment number CR 18-215 in the District of Columbia, and accused of conspiring to gain unauthorized access into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
According to the indictment:
Context of the Hacking and Related Influence and Disinformation Efforts
In July 2016, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Independent Person Report (the “First McLaren Report”) was released, describing Russia’s systematic state-sponsored subversion of the drug testing process prior to, during, and subsequent to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. This investigation had the support of advocates for clean sports, including the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES, Canada’s anti-doping agency). Eventually, in some instances only after arbitration rulings by the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAS/CAS), approximately 111 Russian athletes were excluded from the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by a number of international athletics federations, including track-and-field’s International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) further imposed a blanket ban of Russian athletes from the 2016 Paralympic Games, which were also held in Rio.
Intrusion Activities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Days after the release of the First McLaren Report and the International Olympic Committee’s and IPC’s subsequent decisions regarding the exclusion of Russian athletes, the conspirators prepared to hack into the networks of WADA, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), and TAS/CAS. The conspirators, including specifically defendants Yermakov and Malyshev, procured spoofed domains (which mimicked legitimate WADA and TAS/CAS domains) and other infrastructure, probed such entities’ networks, and spearphished WADA and USADA employees. Although Yermakov and Malyshev are both alleged to have prepared to send spearphishing e-mails to TAS/CAS, the indictment does not allege that organization was compromised.
Likely as a result of the conspirators’ failure to capture necessary log-in credentials, or because those victim accounts that were successfully compromised did not have the necessary access privileges for the sought-after information, defendants Morenets and Serebriakov, in at least one instance with the remote support of Yermakov, deployed to Rio to conduct hacking operations targeting and maintaining persistent access to Wi-Fi networks used by anti-doping officials. As a result of these efforts, in August 2016, the conspirators captured that IOC official’s credentials and thereafter used them, and another set of credentials belonging to the same official to gain unauthorized access to an account in WADA’s ADAMS database and medical and anti-doping related information contained therein. (The broader ADAMS database was not compromised in the intrusion.)
Also in 2016, a senior USADA anti-doping official traveled to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics and Paralympic games. While there, the USADA official used Wi-Fi at the hotel and other Wi-Fi access points in Rio to remotely access USADA’s computer systems and conduct official business. While the USADA official was in Rio, conspirators successfully compromised the credentials for his or her USADA email account, which included summaries of athlete test results and prescribed medications.
Intrusion Activities in Lausanne, Switzerland
In mid-September 2016, WADA hosted an anti-doping conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. On September 18, 2016, defendants Morenets and Serebriakov traveled to Lausanne with equipment used in close access Wi-Fi compromises. On or about September 19, 2016, Morenets and Serebriakov compromised the Wi-Fi network of a hotel hosting the conference and leveraged that access to compromise the laptop and credentials of a senior CCES official staying at the hotel. Other conspirators thereafter used the stolen credentials to compromise CCES’s networks in Canada, using a tool used to extract hashed passwords, the metadata of which indicated it was compiled by Badin.
Intrusion Targeting Anti-Doping Officials at Sporting Federations
In December 2016 and January 2017, conspirators successfully compromised the networks of IAAF and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (“FIFA”) and targeted computers and accounts used by each organization’s top anti-doping official. Among the data stolen from such officials were keylogs, file directories, anti-doping policies and strategies, lab results, medical reports, contracts with doctors and medical testing labs, information about medical testing procedures, and TUEs.
Related GRU Influence and Disinformation Operations
On September 12, 2016, shortly after the compromise of the IOC official’s ADAMS credentials, but before the compromise of USADA’s and CCES’s networks, conspirators claiming to be the hacktivist group Fancy Bears’ Hack Team used online accounts and other infrastructure procured and managed by Unit 74455, as well as the website fancybears.net, to publicly release TUEs, other medical information, and emails stolen from anti-doping officials at WADA, USADA, CCES, IAAF, FIFA, and approximately 35 other anti-doping agencies or sporting organizations. In some instances, the WADA documents were modified from their original form. Ultimately, the Fancy Bears’ Hack Team released stolen information that included private or medical information of approximately 250 athletes from almost 30 countries.
The conspirators’ release of the stolen information was, in some instances, accompanied by posts and other communications that parroted or supported themes that the Russian government had used in its official narrative regarding the anti-doping agencies’ investigative findings. From 2016 through 2018, the conspirators engaged in a proactive outreach campaign, using Twitter and e-mail to communicate with approximately 186 reporters about the stolen information. After articles were published, conspirators used the Fancy Bears’ Hack Team social media accounts to draw attention to the articles in an attempt to amplify the exposure and effect of their message.
Other Targets of the Conspiracy
The conspiracy is also alleged to have targeted other entities in the Western District of Pennsylvania and abroad that were of interest to the Russian government. For example, as early as November 20, 2014, Yermakov performed reconnaissance of Westinghouse Electric Company’s (WEC) networks and personnel. In the following months, Yermakov and conspirators created a fake WEC domain and sent spearphishing emails to WEC employees’ work and personal email accounts, which were designed to harvest the employees’ log-in credentials.
More recently, in April 2018, Morenets, Serebriakov, Sotnikov, and Minin, all using diplomatic passports, traveled to The Hague in the Netherlands in furtherance of another close access operation targeting the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) computer networks through Wi-Fi connections. All four GRU officers intended to travel thereafter to Spiez, Switzerland, to target the Spiez Swiss Chemical Laboratory, an accredited laboratory of the OPCW which was analyzing military chemical agents, including the chemical agent that the United Kingdom authorities connected to the poisoning of a former GRU officer in that country. However, Morenets, Serebriakov, Sotnikov, and Minin were disrupted during their OPCW hacking operation by the Militaire Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst (MIVD), the Dutch defense intelligence service. As part of this disruption, Morenet’s and Serebriakov’s abandoned the Wi-Fi compromise equipment, which they had placed in the trunk of a rental car parked adjacent to the OPCW property. Data obtained from at least one item of this equipment confirmed its operational use at multiple locations around the world, including connections to the Wi-Fi network of the CCES official’s hotel in Switzerland (the dates the conspirators conducted the Wi-Fi compromise of the senior CCES official’s laptop at the same hotel), and at another hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in December 2017.
In connection with the unsealing of the indictment, and in an effort to limit further exposure of the private lives of victim athletes, the FBI seized the fancybears.net and fancybears.org domains pursuant to court orders issued on October 3, 2018, in the Western District of Pennsylvania.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Moreover, the maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentence of a defendant will be determined by the assigned judge.
The FBI, led by the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Field Offices, conducted the investigation that resulted in charges announced today. The FBI’s investigation was assisted by a parallel, independent Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation. This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance throughout this investigation, as did the MIVD, the Government of the Netherlands, Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General, the U.K.’s National Security and Intelligence Agencies, and many of the FBI’s Legal Attachés and other foreign authorities around the world.
“Russia’s military spy service has been behind a wave of massive cyber attacks … with targets ranging from the international chemical weapons watchdog group to the probe into the downing of a Malaysian Airlines plane over Ukraine, officials said Thursday. … the [UK] National Cyber Security Centre … [indicated] that Russia’s GRU has engaged in ‘indiscriminate and reckless’ cyber attacks … target[ing] ‘political institutions, businesses, media, and sport.’ * * * ‘… demonstrat[ing] their desire to operate without regard to international law or established norms … with a feeling of impunity and without consequences,’ U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said. … [T]he cyber attacks … [are said to] include the 2016 hack of the [DNC] … published … by WikiLeaks, and the leaking of top athletes’ medical records. Also on Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department charged seven Russian military intelligence officers with hacking anti-doping agencies and other organizations either remotely or … ‘on-site’ ….
[The] indictment … said that the GRU targeted … hacking victims … [for] support[ing] a ban on Russian athletes … and … condemn[ing] Russia’s state-sponsored … doping …. Prosecutors said the Russian spies also targeted a Pennsylvania-based nuclear energy company and an international organization … investigating chemical weapons in Syria and the poisoning of a former GRU officer.”
The importance of establishing rule of law in post-conflict states has been recognized as key in delivering stability in fragile states in the short, medium, and long term. This is in the interest of the U.S. Army and its partners not only from a [counterinsurgency] COIN perspective, but also to protect U.S. security interests both at home and abroad. To that aim, assistance is required to ensure that in post-conflict environments, the management and maintenance of security is successfully transferred to civilian organizations such as the police and the justice system more generally. It is only when this successful transition occurs and sustainable rule of law has been established that military commitments can cease. As such, it is essential that the end state to a successful civilian handover form part of a plan for disengagement after an intervention.
However, one key challenge for organizations (such as the police) emerging from conflict is the requisite to transition from a combat function to a more traditional policing function. This is difficult due not only to a lack of the necessary skill sets, but also because of the need for a fundamental change in mindset about the purpose of policing. The U.S. Army can play an important role in facilitating the establishment of effective rule of law institutions and practices in post-conflict states in many ways. Additionally, a lack of appreciation of the importance of civilian institutions and their role in establishing rule of law will lead to an exacerbation of the problem.
Delivering rule of law interventions is a complex task involving multiple stakeholders. Numerous challenges exist, each of which can prevent the establishment of effective and sustainable rule of law institutions. This in turn is likely to lead to a requirement for further military support from the U.S. Army resulting in even longer term deployments in what can become an unending conflict. In order to avoid unintended consequences which will have the impact of undermining rule of law interventions carried out by the U.S. Army and its partners more broadly, the following recommendations should be considered in shaping future U.S. Army interventions relating to establishing rule of law as part of its future COIN and state building missions.
Recommendation 1: Contextual Understanding Develop a broad understanding of the rule of law landscape in the post-conflict state in question, and identify key challenges which may deter the establishment of effective and sustainable rule of law institutions.
Recommendation 2: Unintended Consequences Consider the potential unintended consequences of U.S. Army interventions in training local police forces and other rule of law interventions, and determine how can these be mitigated or avoided.
Recommendation 3: Strategic Objectives Reevaluate objectives to ensure that expectations are realistic in terms of what is to be achieved and the timescale in which to achieve them. Consider the impact of short-term mission objectives in attempting to achieve medium to long-term objectives. Recommendation 4: Sustainability Ensure that rule of law interventions are sustainable after withdrawal of troops and form part of U.S. Army exit strategies. Ensure that these are integrated into post-conflict planning before intervention is considered.
Recommendation 5: COIN versus State Building Address the existing confusion between the combat element of COIN operations and state building missions, and understand how this conflict can undermine both operations.
Recommendation 6: Police Training Determine the role that the U.S. Army should play in facilitating a transition from military to civilian rule of law, and exercise particular attention to challenges relating to corporate culture.
Recommendation 7: Skills Shortages Determine when and how rule of law mechanisms and advisors should be integrated into stability operations and consider how the U.S. Army could better utilize its Reserve Forces to provide capacity and specialist skills to facilitate civilian transition.
Recommendation 8: Corruption and Human Rights Abuses[:] Adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward corruption and human rights abuses and provide remedial education where such practices may have become institutionalized.
Recommendation 9: Management and Oversight: Provide management and oversight of third party contractors through deployment of the U.S. Army Corps of Engi neers to ensure that construction projects relating to rule of law interventions are completed to the required specifications.
Recommendation 10: International Liaison Highlight other partner institutions the U.S. Army could or should be engaging with to ensure a coordinated approach to the establishment of effective rule of law institutions and practices in the host country.”
The views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. Authors of Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) and U.S. Army War College (USAWC) Press publications enjoy full academic freedom, provided they do not disclose classified information, jeopardize operations security, or misrepresent official U.S. policy. Such academic freedom empowers them to offer new and sometimes controversial perspectives in the interest of furthering debate on key issues. This report is cleared for public release; distribution is unlimited. ∗∗∗∗∗ This publication is subject to Title 17, United States Code, Sections 101 and 105. It is in the public domain and may not be copyrighted.”]
Former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was one of the architects of Abortionism as the deciding vote and co-author of the 1992 Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania v. Casey decision that modified Roe v. Wade yet carried forward the decriminalization of abortion.
Yet, within a year, current Donald Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh signed on as a law clerk for Anthony Kennedy. Rather than repudiate that decision and apologize, during his nomination process, Kavanaugh instead has ratified and updated his association with Kennedy by calling Kennedy a champion of liberty, saying Kennedy has left a legacy of liberty.
So Kavanaugh clerked for a pro-abortion Justice who was the deciding vote keeping abortion going, and now promotes the pro-abortion Justice as a “champion of liberty.”
If you are prolife, you need to oppose the Kavanaugh nomination. And, if you do not, it calls into question whether you were ever pro-life to begin with.
Kavanaugh additionally allowed pro-abortion Condolleeza Rice to help introduce him before the Judiciary Committee.
Kavanaugh’s association with powerful, celebrity pro-abortion figures implies a shocking lack of moral conscience and poor judgment.
Abortion is the biggest human rights violation of our time, and he has associated himself with it by his actions and his remarks.
Human life, and the right of the innocent not to be killed, is the most fundamental of liberties, making abortion one of the biggest enemies of liberty. Protection of innocent human life also is one of the foundations of legitimate government, one of the excuses government has for existing in the first place. Yet Kavanaugh has associated himself with enemies of the right to life and persons who thereby have set themselves against the defense of American lives.
Working for a pro-abortion judge, alone, is enough to make Kavanaugh unfit. Yet calling a pro-abortion judge a champion of liberty means that Kavanaugh is a person who stands liberty upside-down and someone whose analytical intellect is either wholly unfit or twisted by self-serving dishonesty.
One can only speculate as to Kavanaugh’s motives, then and now.
Yet one of the biggest problems with abortion today is the risk that something horrific and unthinkable, the deliberate taking of defenseless human life, has become “business as usual” or routine. Kavanaugh’s casual attitude towards saluting Kennedy contributes to a climate of human life being regarded as cheap and expendable.
Kavanaugh’s flippant, oblivious attitude stands in the way of the necessary readjustment of public attitudes about this widespread human rights violation.
As such, Kavanaugh might even be responsible for deaths already. Women in difficult situations, pressured into confused acquiescence with the killing of their child, might back their way into because some segments of society wish to blur over the nature of the situation. Kavanaugh has added to the blur.
Given his origins as a local Washingtonian child of privilege, we have no idea to what extent Kavanaugh is a self-serving social climber who decided to “go along to get along.” We know that, amidst accusations of drunken, underaged, psychopathic, criminal behavior, Kavanaugh, in a sometimes emotionalistic set of responses, blurted out defensive remarks about his high school class rank — as if that piece of data had any relevance whatsoever to the charges.
Now, Kavanaugh did not even go to the best school for boys in the Washington area. That would be Saint Anselm’s Abbey Academy, traditionally one of the top-10 schools in America for SAT scores. Kavanaugh went to a different school that presumably is respectable academically, yet is more of a posh, country-club-like school. Yet if, all these years later, as a would-be grown-up, aKvanaugh still gets excited about his class rank, to the point that he apparently thinks it helps deflect accusations of criminality, just how important was it to him to climb the social ladder, such as with Yale, plumb judicial clerkships and so forth.
Kavanugh is somebody who was made a partner at Kirkland & Ellis less than a decade out of law school, with no law firm experience, based solely on his judicial clerkships, a brief stint with the Solicitor General and his work for Special Prosecutor Ken Starr.
Did Kavanaugh really not care about the mass murder of innocent American babies in the womb, if being oblivious to that horror meant fluffing his resume with a Supreme Court clerkship, instead of rejecting involvement with a human rights violator?
Is his desire to fluff his credentials now so great, that he wants to continue gliding along in the giddy heights of legal profession and Washingtonian elites, by fantasizing that the clerkship was something impressive, with a champion of liberty, rather than a black mark on his record that should bar him from his own judicial appointment?
In any event, his current posture makes him morally and intellectually unfit for judicial office.
If you, yourself, want to be known as prolife, you cannot support him. If you do support him, you are making it “open season” to expose yourself as not being prolife.
And that goes for the big-money anti-abortion groups that have decided to endorse Kavanaugh personally instead of simply addressing the broader issue. With roughly 60 million surgical abortions in the United States and counting, it would be silly to refer to anything like a “pro-lif establishment.” Yet, to the extent that some big-money nonprofits have tainted themselves by endorsing a troubled nominee like Kavanaugh, they also have exposed themselves as not being a good source of insight or leadership, as not being authentically prolife; and as not being an appropriation destination for financial gifts.
Again, if you, yourself, want to be known as prolife, you cannot support Kavanaugh. If you do support him, you are exposing yourself as not being prolife.
“Ukraine will build a military base on the Azov Sea and has sent more forces to the area to counter a worsening Russian threat, Ukraine’s armed forces head [said] … referring to an arm of the Black Sea [where Ukraine and Russia both have coastlines]. Ukraine has been at loggerheads with Russia since the 2014 annexation of Crimea and more than 10,000 people have died in fighting between Ukrainian troops and Moscow-backed separatists. Ukraine and NATO countries accuse Russia of supplying troops and heavy weapons to eastern Ukraine, which Moscow denies. Viktor Muzhenko, Chief of the General Staff, said Russia had moved beyond covert fighting in the Donbass region, home of a Kremlin-backed separatist insurgency, to building up its military presence on Ukraine’s borders and nakedly aggressive actions against ships sailing to Ukrainian ports. * * *
… Muzhenko said [U.S.-supplied] Javelin [anti-tank missiles] ha[ve] been tested … but … not … deployed in battle …. Asked whether Ukraine wanted to buy the U.S. Patriot air defense system, he said various options were being considered.”
“Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday Moscow had started delivering the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria … Russia, along with Iran, has helped Assad recover huge amounts of lost territory in Syria without persuading him to agree to any political reforms. It has also pushed its own talks with Iran and Turkey, known as the Astana process.
… Some diplomats have said [an] Israeli incident [involving Syria shooting down a Russian plane during an incursion by Israeli jets] and a Turkish-Russian deal to suspend an offensive on the last rebel-held stronghold of Idlib could provide a window to push for … U.N. Security Council [UNSC] resolution 2254 [aiming to end the] conflict in Syria. The [UNSC] … has mandated [that] U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura … get a deal on a new constitution, new elections and a reform of Syria’s governance. …”
“In the largest Russian military exercise since the height of the Cold War, Moscow … [in September] deploy[ed] 300,000 troops, 900 tanks and 1,000 aircraft in central and eastern Russia. … [for] ‘Vostok 2018,’ or East Exercise 2018 …. for the first time ever, Chinese military forces … participate[d], with plans to send 3,200 troops and 30 aircraft over the border into eastern Russia. … highlight[ing] two important, seemingly contradictory [aspects of] the relationship between China and Russia. First, the appearance of military cooperation masks deep strategic distrust and suspicion below the surface. … [Yet] strong incentives and a lack of alternatives provide a sturdy foundation for a continued strategic partnership going forward. Vostok 2018 represents the latest in a series of combined Chinese-Russian military exercises stretching back more than a decade. Their militaries have been training together since 2005, and China and Russia have been holding joint naval exercises every year since 2012, including near each other’s respective hotspots. Last year, China sent three naval ships to its first jointly held exercise with Russian forces in the Baltic Sea. In 2016, the two navies carried out a joint exercise in the South China Sea … [after] a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejecting China’s territorial claims in the contested waterway. Warm political statements by top Chinese and Russian leaders have complemented these military actions. …”
Brett Kavanaugh’s association with, and ongoing endorsement of, pro-abortion former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy as a champion of “liberty,” reveals Kavanaugh’s lack of moral compass and judicial and intellectual incompetence. As such, any loyal American and any person with respect for human life should oppose his confirmation to the Supreme Court and call for his removal from the judiciary.
The biggest threat to American lives, for four decades, has been so-called “abortion,” the deliberate taking of human life in a mother’s womb. Sixty million surgical abortions alone since the Roe v. Wade decision blocked prosecutions for abortion make it a bigger killer of Americans than all wars combined. On average, abortion is nearly like having 9/11 occur every single day.
In 1992, abortion was kept decriminalized by Planned Parenthood v. Casey, with Anthony Kennedy serving as the deciding vote and co-author of the main opinion.
Yet, despite Kavanaugh’s supposed affiliation with the Catholic Faith, and despite his supposedly elite education, Kavanaugh was willing to serve as a law clerk for Anthony Kennedy within a year of Kennedy’s human rights violation as a perpetrator of Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
If Kavanaugh had repudiated his past association with Kennedy, and attributed it immaturity, or a lack of awareness of the horrific scope and nature of abortion within less than two decades of Roe v. Wade, there still would be cause to reject his nomination.
Yet, right up until the present, and throughout his nomination process, Kavanaugh has aggravated his wrongdoing, updated his association with Kennedy, and made it even more egregious by referencing Anthony Kennedy as having a legacy of liberty or being a champion of liberty.
That places Kavanaugh in the position of praising and admiring one of the architects of some of the most massive and atrocious human rights violations in human history.
Additionally, the scope of abortion as, literally, a direct threat and attack on the American population, calls for charges of de facto treason, and calls into question Kavanaugh’s patriotism and loyalty to the United States.
These facts alone would require a rejection of his nomination.
Defense of human life is the cornerstone of a national government’s right to exist, its justification for being a government.
Yet to associate an architect of decriminalized abortion with liberty, a cornerstone value of the American Republic, not only reveals Kavanaugh as an anti-American hypocrite, it calls into question his competency to engage in rational thought and honest intellectual analysis, and therefore calls into question his capacity to serve on the bench.
The most fundamental liberty, and first liberty interest mentioned in the nation’s founding Declaration of Independence, is the right to live and not be killed.
Abortion, the deliberate taking of defenseless human life, is the opposite of liberty.
Indeed, it is the defenselessness of the targeted victim that helps defines abortion. If a child in the womb had the capacity to defend herself, there would be no abortion.
Moreover, abortion’s scope is not only an existential threat to America, it is an existential threat to American democracy and the legitimacy of the American government. It is not simply the the case that government justifies its existence on its ability to defend human life, but embraces the taking of human life on a massive scale.
Decriminalized surgical Abortion has killed roughly the same number of persons necessary to get elected to the Presidency. One of the major political parties is in a position where it cannot form a legitimate government, because roughly as many Americans have been killed, in their mothers’ wombs, as the number of votes that party gets in presidential elections. It would be like Hitler murdering 6 million Jews, getting 6 million votes from Nazis, and claiming that he was duly elected by the nation as a whole.
And, in addition to some Republicans being pro-abortion themselves, lukewarm Republicans mouthing anti-abortion positions but tepidly failing to take action to remedy the situation, call into question their own weak leadership and legitimacy.
Yet, on the level of intellect and rational analysis, Kavanaugh’s lauding of the person most responsible for decriminalized abortion as a champion of “liberty” is not simply treasonous.
It is, to put it simply, stupid.
Since getting killed is the opposite of liberty, Kavanaugh lauding an architect of the mass-killing of innocent American lives makes Kavanaugh sound like a manipulative liar and an intellectually stunted buffoon.
Additionally troubling is the context of Kavanaugh as a Washingtonian child of privilege, raising the prospect of him “going along to get along,” putting status and prestige, and resume-filling, ahead of right and wrong and ahead of loyalty to the nation. His continued malfeasance in praising Kennedy raises the prospect of Kavanaugh of putting the desire to be “in with the in-crowd,” whether in Washington or in the troubled would-be “legal” profession ahead of moral and intellectual sanity, and ahead of the duty to protect American lives.
Any loyal American should oppose the Kavanaugh nomination.
Any person wanting to respect human life should oppose the Kavanaugh nomination.
Andy would-be “anti-abortion” group or individual, or would-be “conservative” group or individual that endorses Kavanaugh should be dismissed as contrary to their supposed mission; should be denied donations or honors; and should be rejected as a would-be voice for pro-life or traditional values.
Any legislator promoting the Kavanaugh nomination should be rejected and voted out. If such a person has been posing as pro-life or traditional values or conservative, that might help explain why decriminalized abortion has malingered on for four decades — because someone flying a “false flag” took up space in the body politic that should have gone to someone who actually holds those values.
Of course, another reason that decriminalized abortion has malingered on has been Congress going AWOL, committing dereliction of duty and drawing their salary under false pretenses, by failing to carry out their Constitutional duty to impeach and remove renegade judges — renegade judges and justices committing crimes against the Constitution and associating with the treasonous mass-killings of Americans in their mother’s wombs.
The Constitution provides measures for its own amending. A renegade judge or justice amending the Constitution in violation of that provision — such as by judicial fiat, by a vote of less than ten politically lawyers serving as justices — has committed an illegal act.
A renegade judge doing so, with the foreseeable and known result of the mass-murder of Americans, should be regarded as treasonous.
The Constitution does not have a gap allowing such a thing to happen; the Founding Fathers did not have a lack of foresight to fail to provide for such a contingency. The Constitution provides for the removal of judges, by action of Congress. Failure to carry out that Constitutional duty makes the weak, derelict legislators accessories by omission.
If we see that the same people pushing the Kavanaugh nomination also have failed to carry out their Constitutional duties of office, if we see that they have failed to take steps to remove renegade judges, then their involvement with Kavanaugh provides a useful filter calling for their exposure and removal — a fresh reminder that they need to be rejected as failed leaders and removed from office, and replaced with actual leaders who will do their jobs and be loyal to America.
Of course, an added factor is that President Donald Trump also has praised Anthony Kennedy.
As long as Trump remains in office, it is up to Americans to send the nomination back to Trump, and tell him to “get it right’ this time by rejecting Anthony Kennedy’s anti-American legacy and nominating a proper nominee instead of Kavanaugh.
Meanwhile, Trump has added further disgrace by appointing a pro-abortion Republican, Rudolph Giuliani, to a key White House post.
If there is an effort to “Dump Trump,” these embarrassing missteps should prompt such a movement now, while there is still time before the next Presidential election.
A Republican failure to do so would further expose, as fraudulent “cocktail conservatives,” any Republicans who additionally demonstrate a disrespect for the nation by attempting to push forward the troubled Kavanaugh nomination.
“… With 95 percent of votes counted on Sunday night, Kremlin-backed United Russia incumbent Andrei Tarasenko was trailing his Communist rival by around 5 percent. But on Monday, the local election commission said Tarasenko had won by just over 1 percent, an unlikely turnaround that the Communists said was evidence of rigging. The scandal is awkward for Putin, who met Tarasenko a week ago and told him that ‘everything will be OK.’ The comment was widely seen as a personal endorsement of Tarasenko, whom Putin appointed acting governor last year, at a time when Putin’s own ratings are under pressure from plans to raise the pension age. … A week ago in the Primorsky Region, which includes the Pacific port of Vladivostok, 6,400 km (4,000 miles) east of Moscow, Tarasenko failed to pass the 50-percent threshold for an outright win. …”
“… house-flipping is making a comeback … this time in … Rust Belt cities the last boom passed by. … Today’s house-flippers … buying properties and selling … within 12 months  … are mainly contractors and professional renovators who buy run-down properties in promising neighborhoods and fix them up, boosting the resale value. … those who contributed to the speculative frenzy of the early 2000s would typically take out a mortgage to buy a home, perhaps give it a new coat of paint [and] wait for prices to rise enough …. [O]ld industrial cities such as Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Cleveland … are beginning to attract tech firms, such as Google-parent Alphabet Inc, Uber … and Amazon … boosting demand for … in areas that have … old housing stock … and not much new construction …. Nationally, the average house-flipper earned a 44.3 percent gross return … this year, compared with … 35.3 percent during the boom. …”
“… Putin … in his fourth and perhaps final term as Russia’s president, faced a key political test in regional elections …. though the ruling party, United Russia, won most of the races – which included gubernatorial elections in 22 regions, legislative elections in 16 regions and a mayoral election in Moscow – it faced stiffer competition and more unrest than usual. In a record four regions, the ruling party’s gubernatorial candidates failed to obtain a simple majority … and will stand in runoff elections Sept. 23. Their opponents are candidates from the Communist and Liberal Democratic parties, registered political parties that work within Russia’s political system and don’t pose a strong threat to Putin’s government. Even so, the result is troubling for the ruling party and practically unprecedented …. The main force behind United Russia’s comparatively lackluster performance in the polls is the Kremlin’s plan to increase the retirement age. …”
“The cost of money is rising for Russians well ahead of any potential central bank move to lift interest rates for the first time in almost four years amid concern the U.S. may impose fresh sanctions. State-run Sberbank PJSC, which holds almost half of all Russian savings, is increasing rates for ruble accounts for the first time since 2014. … [and] pay[ing] consumers more to keep dollars on deposit to stanch an outflow …. One of the country’s five largest mortgage lenders, Raiffeisenbank JSC, is charging more for home loans …. From sausages to gasoline, inflation is on the march …. with the central bank’s benchmark on hold at 7.25 percent since a quarter-point cut in March, rates adjusted for inflation remain among Europe’s highest …. “
“Michael Cohen’s accusations have replaced Russian collusion as Washington’s reason-du-jour to impeach Donald Trump …. Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, confirmed last week that Cohen has never been to Prague in the Czech Republic. … the Steele dossier … commissioned by oppo-research firm Fusion GPS, paid for by the Clinton campaign and used by the FBI in its Trump investigation. … claims … Cohen traveled to Prague in August or September of 2016 to discuss with Kremlin officials how to make ‘cash payments’ to hackers of the Clinton campaign. … Cohen has … offered his passport as proof. …”
“[July 21, 2018, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing]… Topics included new reports of Russian interference in American democracy, the current state of sanctions against Russian government officials and companies, and clarifying details into the July 2018 Helsinki meeting between … Trump and … Putin. Several members referenced a recent Microsoft claim alleging a Russian plot targeting conservative think tanks and institutions.
… the second in a [series] of Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on … the Trump administration’s ‘overall posture on Russia.’ ….”
“Russia is working to ensure the removal of Iranian forces to 100 kilometers (62 miles) away from the Golan Heights, but Israel is demanding that long-range weapons that could circumvent such a buffer zone also be withdrawn, a senior Israeli official said … after a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top Russian officials. The official said that Israel prefers to act now rather than wait until Iran has ‘hundreds and thousands of missiles’ in Syria, and that the government will not allow Iran ‘to turn Syria into another Lebanon.’
* * *
[Separately,] Mike Pompeo denounced Iran’s leaders as a ‘mafia’ and promised unspecified backing for Iranians unhappy with their government. …”
“Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday Moscow would respond if Sweden and Finland were drawn into the NATO alliance and that such expansion would undermine global security, the Interfax news agency reported. …”
For the second time in a row, President Donald Trump has nominated to the Supreme Court someone who chose to clerk for pro-abortion Justice Anthony Kennedy not long after Kennedy cast the deciding vote to keep abortion decriminalized, despite abortion being the biggest threat to American lives and one of the most grotesque human rights violations of this era.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which modified yet, nevertheless, reaffirmed Roe v. Wade, was argued April 22, 1992 and decided on June 29, 1992.
Trump’s latest nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, signed on to be a law clerk for Kennedy for the October term of 1993, according to Kavanaugh’s public biography on the D.C. Court of Appeals web site.
By comparison, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is listed as having clerked for Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy in 1993 and 1994. (Gorsuch’s path was a bit more circuitous. He was hired as a kind of retirement benefit for a newly retired Justice White, similar to former presidents being provided a secretary. While on the scene, he benefited from the opportunity for such “clerks” to also be added to the work done for actual, active Justices.)
The willingness to clerk for a pro-abortion jurist, especially so soon after Kennedy cast the deciding vote to keep abortion alive as judicial precedent, would ordinarily call into question the moral compass of a legal professional; his commitment or lack thereof to respect for human life; or his willingness to sacrifice moral principles for the sake of wealth, status and advancement.
Many questions remain — is Kavanaugh himself pro-abortion; does he simply not care that much about the matter; is he willing to “go along to get along” to gain wealth and status. He later became a partner at the prominent Kirkland and Ellis law firm with little or no apparent law practice experience, with his main resume points being the Supreme Court clerkship and several years of assisting Ken Starr’s special prosecutor activities.
Any temptation to seek to minimize the significance of Kavanaugh’s actions because of the passage of time or his comparatively younger age would have to ignore the fact that he already was a grown man a few years out of law school, with other judicial clerkship experience already behind him.
Yet most glaring is his willingness, like Gorsuch, to ratify and make current his moral failing by saluting Anthony Kennedy in his remarks at the White House during the announcement of his own nomination to the Supreme Court.
With that action, his moral apathy and lack of a properly formed moral conscience was not simply part of a career stepping stone in his twenties. It was updated to become part of his reality today.
Given the mind-boggling, and therefore treasonous scope of so-called abortion, apparently nearing 60 million Americans dead in their mother’s wombs from surgical abortions alone since Roe v. Wade, the logical response should be to oppose the Kavanaugh nomination and begin the process of replacing Trump.
Trump still has time to reverse course and find a more appropriate nominee. Yet there is little indication that he would do so, especially considering his insistence of repeating his praise of his own mistaken choice of Gorsuch.
Even though Trump promised to “drain the swamp” and assist a Culture of Life, two times in a row he has nominated a former Washingtonian insider child of privilege who clerked for the same pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice. He has done so in a climate of moral quietism that tries to treat the unthinkable horror of abortion as “business as usual” or settled law.
For thinking Americans who care about American lives, right and wrong and a solid national foundation in rule of law, the best choice is to oppose the Kavanaugh nomination and begin the process of replacing Trump with someone more suitable.
Ireland, on May 25, 2018, votes in a referendum to potentially amend the Irish constitution for potential legislative action relaxing restrictions on abortion.
A “yes” vote would make it easier to allow murder, as long as the victim was not yet born. Prenatal child-killing often is described as so-called “abortion,” to recast what is deliberate killing as a kind of artificial miscarriage. A number of abortions also are essentially death by torture, carried out against helpless victims who can feel pain. There are additional issues raised by the harm abortion causes against the physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being of the mother, as well as female babies being targeted for killing at a higher rate than males.
Ireland needs our prayers, that the Irish people will respect human life and respect God by saying “no” to murder, including saying “no” to abortion. Ultimately those who promote and participate in abortion not only are unbalanced in their thinking and a danger to the potential murder victims. They also imperil their very souls by involving themselves with an evil that could result in their being condemned to hell, and likely would absent some unusual act of Divine Mercy prompted by some factor calling into question the perpetrator’s capacity.
So-called abortion is the most widespread human rights abuse on earth, and is often a leading cause of death for various groups or in some locales.
As murder, abortion grotesquely violates God’s Law, to the point where procurement of abortion brings automatic excommunication in the Catholic Church, and the Code of Canon Law.
Given that fact, it is curiously perverse that Ireland would be targeted for a referendum on abortion, given that Ireland is so predominantly Catholic, roughly 88% according to the U.S. State Department.
Those promoting abortion in Ireland not only are looking to kill more Irish, they are looking to get more Irish excommunicated in the process, and to implicate as much of the country as possible through the referendum. Those voting in favor of abortion are, in the process, making themselves co-conspirators to murder and falling into some spectrum of grave sin, barring themselves from receiving Communion. Any nominal Catholic publicly promoting abortion would be guilty of public scandal, and thereby barred from Communion until they publicly repented. So, all around, it is if those promoting the abortion change are not only interesting in promoting killing. In what is likely a diabolical matter, they are interested in corrupting the soul of a nation, and the souls of individuals, driving a wedge between them and God; driving a wedge between them and the Faith and Sacraments; and seeking to send more people to hell.
“A federal judge said Special Counsel Robert Mueller should not have ‘unfettered power’ in probing ties between … Trump’s campaign and Russia … accus[ing] Mueller of using criminal cases to pressure Trump’s allies to turn against him. At a tense hearing in a federal court in Virginia … U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III sharply questioned whether Mueller exceeded his authority in filing tax and bank fraud charges against Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. … ‘I’ve been saying that for a long time. It’s a witch hunt,’ [Trump] said of Mueller’s probe ….”
“Russia’s Putin won … March’s election[, ostensibly by large margin,] amid complaints from critics. With neighboring Armenia offering an example of the potential threat, Russian authorities weren’t taking any chances …”
“Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny was detained Saturday together with as many as a thousand of his supporters across the country in protests against the start of … Putin’s fourth term …. The demonstrations, marked by uncharacteristic violence in Moscow, were an attempt by critics of … Putin to spark momentum surrounding their movement, which had faded somewhat since March’s presidential election. … [The] presidential inauguration is planned for Monday. …”
The Committee found no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, yet was critical of both major presidential campaigns:
“While the Committee found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government, the investigation did find poor judgment and ill-considered actions by the Trump and Clinton campaigns. …”
An excerpt follows:
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Report on Russian Active Measures
March 22, 2018
* * *
Introduction and Overview
(U) Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election was nothing novel for the Kremlin. The Kremlin aspires to sow chaos and discord and advance its agenda in targeted nations, particularly in Europe and former Soviet republics such as the Baltics and Ukraine. To do this, Russia effectively combines decades of experience in propaganda and psychological warfare techniques with its vast media apparatus, a strata of well-educated and proficient technicians, and a robust intelligence and security corps.
(U} In the United States, Russian cyberattacks related to the 2016 elections starkly highlighted technical vulnerabilities in U.S. digital infrastructure and bureaucratic shortcomings that were exploited by the Kremlin. Russia’s active measures campaign achieved its primary goal of inciting division and discord among Americans. For more than a year, U.S. politics have been consumed by bitter recriminations, charges, and counter-charges about the attacks. The reliability of the democratic vote-the bedrock of the U.S. republic-was widely and repeatedly questioned.
(U) At the time of the 2016 U.S. presidential election cycle, the Committee was already concerned with Russian malfeasance and aggression in levels that had not been seen since the Cold War. In fact, the IAA for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 included multiple provisions to improve the United States’ ability to counter Russian aggression. However, the Kremlin’s malicious activities during the 2016 U.S. presidential election triggered the Committee to announce a specific inquiry into Russia’s campaign (see Appendix B). The bipartisan parameters focused the investigation and this report-this Committee examined:
(1) Russian cyber activity and other active measures that were directed against the United States and its allies;
(2) whether the Russian active measures include links between Russia and individuals associated with presidential campaigns;
(3) the U.S. government response to these Russian active measures and what we need to do to protect ourselves and our allies in the future; and
(4) what possible leaks of classified information took place related to the Intelligence Community’s assessment of these matters.1 The Committee interviewed 73 witnesses, conducted 9 hearings and briefings, reviewed approximately 307,900 documents, and issued 20 subpoenas. This allowed the Committee to find answers crucial for identifying and addressing institutional weaknesses to assist the United States with identifying and
responding to inevitable hostile acts in the future.
(U) While the 2016 U.S. presidential election helped focus American attention on Russian cyber and information operations, the Russian government has conducted active measure campaigns in Europe for years. Believing it is engaged in an information war with the West, Russia’s influence activities employ an array of tactics-usually tailored to the target country’s population and environment-in an effort to accomplish the Kremlin’s goals. These goals generally include influencing an opponent’s leadership and population, advancing a narrative, or inducing a behavior change. The factors that make these campaigns successful also make them hard to counter. However, governments, non-governmental organizations, and media organizations in Europe have begun taking actions to address and mitigate the threat that Russian influence campaigns pose.
(U) The Russian active measures campaign against the United States was multifaceted. It leveraged cyberattacks, covert platforms, social media, third-party intermediaries, and state-run media. Hacked material was disseminated through this myriad network of actors with the objective of undermining the effectiveness of the future administration. This dissemination worked in conjunction with derisive messages posted on social media to undermine confidence in the election and sow fear and division in American society.
(U) The U.S. government’s subsequent response to the Russian active measures campaign during the 2016 election was slow [REDACTED] As that picture evolved, the FBl’s notification to victims and oversight committees was inconsistent in timeliness and quality, which contributed to the victims’ failure to both recognize the threat and defend their systems. State and local governments were slow to grasp the seriousness of the threat and when notified of breaches continued to resist any action that implied federal direction or control. Some states opted not to cooperate with important defensive measures offered by the DHS. While no tabulation systems, or systems that count votes, were impacted, the overall security posture of the U.S. federal, state, and local governments was demonstrated to be inadequate and vulnerable.
(U) The Committee’s investigation also reviewed the opening, in summer 2016, of a FBI enterprise counterintelligence investigation into [REDACTED] Trump campaign associates: [REDACTED] Carter Page [REDACTED] Because of “the sensitivity of the matter,” the FBI did not notify congressional leadership about this investigation during the FBl’s regular counterintelligence briefings.
Three of [REDACTED] original subjects of the FBI investigation have been charged with crimes and the Committee’s review of these cases covers the period prior to the appointment of Special Counsel in May 2017.
(U) While the Committee found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government, the investigation did find poor judgment and ill-considered actions by the Trump and Clinton campaigns. For example, the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between members of the Trump campaign and a Russian lawyer who falsely purported to have damaging information on the Clinton campaign demonstrated poor judgement. The Committee also found the Trump campaign’s periodic praise for and communications with Wikileaks – a hostile foreign organization-to be highly objectionable and inconsistent with U.S. national security interests. The Committee also found that the Clinton campaign and the DNC, using a series of cutouts and intermediaries to obscure their roles, paid for opposition research on Trump obtained from Russian sources, including a litany of claims by high-ranking current and former Russian government officials. Some of this opposition research was used to produce sixteen memos, which comprise what has become known as the Steele dossier.
(U) The effectiveness and relatively low cost of information operations, such as the dissemination of propaganda, make it an attractive tool for foreign adversaries. Unless the cost-benefit equation of such operations changes significantly, the Putin regime and other hostile governments will continue to pursue these attacks against the United States and its allies. Based on the investigation, the Committee recommends several solutions to help safeguard U.S. and allies’ political processes from nefarious actors, such as the Russians. …
“After more than 40 years … investigators looking for the elusive Golden State Killer … got their big break [using] genealogy websites …. Police say [72-year-old former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo] was responsible for at least 12 homicides and 45 rapes … between 1976 and 1986. Investigators us[ing] DNA from one of those crime scenes … compar[ing] it with genetic profiles on online genealogy sites …. found a relative of the suspect …. then looked at online family trees to narrow down the suspect ….”
“… in nearly three decades of American mass school shootings … killers mostly use guns owned by a family member …. The Wall Street Journal reviewed … school shootings with at least three victims dead or injured since 1990 and found 32. Most shooters are white male teenagers. In 25 … cases … shooters were teenagers or younger. In 17 of the 20 of those cases where details were available on where the shooter got the gun, they were sourced at home … a few also [got] … weapons from relatives. About 42% of U.S. adults say they live in households with a gun ….”
The NCAA has created an anti-Catholic and anti-Christian effect by scheduling a national semifinal (Final Four game) on Good Friday in women’s basketball. Doing so violates the solemn nature of the day and subjects Catholics to having to play on a day when they are fasting, and when they are abstaining from meat. At least the game is not at 3 p.m., the hour that Christ laid down His Life on the Cross, yet it is in the evening. #NotreDame should have refused to play.
The movie “Chariots of Fire” featured an Olympic athlete who refused to compete on the Sabbath. Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax refused to pitch in a World Series game on Yom Kippur. Notre Dame should have refused to participate in the tournament if the Final Four was going to be on Good Friday.
Notre Dame Women’s Basketball has made yet another Final Four run, yet probably should have sat out the tournament when the NCAA drew up the bracket to force games on Good Friday and Easter, two of the most sacred dates on the Catholic Liturgical Calendar.
Good Friday, in particular, is a day of solemn observance honoring the Passion and Death of Christ on the Cross, for which an athletic contest intended as a form of entertainment is inconsistent. Additionally, Catholics are required to engage in fasting on Good Friday, to take in less than the ordinary amount of nutrition, as well as a day of abstinence from meat.
It appears that an additional form of abstinence that Notre Dame should have practiced was to abstain from participation in the tournament, unless they wanted to see if they could advance and then simply forfeit the semifinal.
Notre Dame is French for “Our Lady,” referring to the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the day her Son was Crucified, the Blessed Mother was not playing basketball or rooting for an athletic contest. When most of everyone else had run off, the Blessed Mother was there at the foot of the Cross.
The Final Four fiasco is a missed opportunity for the University of Notre Dame. Against the backdrop of a society beset by various evils and temptations and moral failings, these circumstances offered an opportunity for Notre Dame to offer leadership, by refusing to disrespect Good Friday and Easter.
Such an example would have been helpful to the broader human community, and would have helped serve the NCAA with a “wake-up call.”
The NCAA, as coincidence would have it, is based within a few miles of an Irish Catholic church that reputedly was burned down by the anti-Catholic Ku Klux Klan, back in the 1920’s when the KKK essentially took over Indiana and had deep tentacles into Indiana government. That was about the same era that the Notre Dame student body disrupted a Klan rally in South Bend and prepared to march on Klan headquareters before being convinced by the school president and Knute Rockne to head back to campus. And that was in the same era when Notre Dame started winning consensus national championships in football. It also was about the same era that Notre Dame reportedly starting adopting “The Fighting Irish” as their nickname, a term that originally had been hurled by an opposing team’s fans as an anti-Catholic racial slur, that the school would now wear as a badge of honor.
The NCAA is being de facto anti-Catholic by trying to force a Catholic institution to compete on a day when the Catholic Faith requires fasting and abstinence. And the NCAA is being anti-Catholic and, more broadly, anti-Christian, by disrespecting the solemn nature of Good Friday with the deliberate scheduling of the semifinal. The Final, of course, is scheduled for Easter Sunday, the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord, the most important Feast Day on the Catholic calendar.
Today’s increasingly secularized, money-oriented University of “Notre Dame” is far too submissive to the NCAA’s de facto anti-Catholic, anti-Christian step of forcing a Final Four on the sacred day of Good Friday and Easter, the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord. The university should have abstained from participating. And perhaps sports fans should abstain from watching.
“The energy sector in Europe and North America is being targeted by a … wave of cyber attacks that could provide attackers with the means to severely disrupt affected operations. The group behind these attacks is known as Dragonfly. … in operation since at least 2011 … [they have] re-emerged over the past two years from a quiet period following exposure by Symantec and a number of other researchers in 2014. … ‘Dragonfly 2.0’ campaign … appears to have begun in late 2015 [and] shares tactics and tools used in earlier campaigns …. disruptions to Ukraine’s power system in 2015 and 2016 were attributed to a cyber attack …. there have also been media reports of attempted attacks on the electricity grids in some European countries, as well as reports of companies that manage nuclear facilities in the U.S. being compromised by hackers. The Dragonfly group appears to be interested in … learning how energy facilities operate and … gaining access to operational systems themselves … the group now potentially has the ability to sabotage or gain control of these systems should it decide to do so. …”
“The Trump administration … blamed the Russian government for … cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the U.S. power grid … the first time the United States has publicly accused Moscow of hacking into American energy infrastructure. … Russian government hackers sought to penetrate multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation and manufacturing …. a ‘multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors’ had targeted the networks of small commercial facilities ‘where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks.’ * * * … Thursday’s alert provided a link to an analysis by … Symantec last fall that said a group it had dubbed Dragonfly had targeted energy companies in the United States and Europe and in some cases broke into the core systems that control the companies’ operations. …”
House Permanent Select Committee on #Intelligence #Russia Investigation
Following a more than yearlong, bipartisan investigation into Russia active measures targeting the 2016 U.S. #election, the House Intelligence Committee has completed a draft report of 150+ pages, with 600+ citations. The draft report addresses, in detail, each of the questions within the agreed parameters of the investigation, as announced in March 2017. It analyzes:
Russian active measures directed against the 2016 U.S. election and against our European allies;
The U.S. government response to that attack;
Links between Russians and the Trump and Clinton campaigns; and
Purported leaks of classified information. Initial Findings
The draft report contains 40+ initial findings that describe:
A pattern of Russian attacks on America’s European allies;
Russian cyberattacks on U.S. political institutions in 2015-2016 and their use of social media to sow discord;
A lackluster pre-election response to Russian active measures;
Concurrence with the Intelligence Community Assessment’s judgments, except with respect to Putin’s supposed preference for candidate Trump;
We have found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians;
How anti-Trump research made its way from Russian sources to the Clinton campaign; and
Problematic contacts between senior Intelligence Community officials and the media.
The draft report includes 25+ proposed recommendations for Congress and the executive branch to improve:
Election security, including protecting vote tallies;
Support to European allies;
The U.S. government response to cyber-attacks;
Campaign finance transparency; and
Counterintelligence practices related to political campaigns and unauthorized disclosures.
The draft report will be provided to the Committee minority on March 13 for review and comment. After adoption it will be submitted for a declassification review, and a declassified version will be made public. The report’s completion will signify the closure of one chapter in the Committee’s robust oversight of the threat posed by Moscow—which began well before the investigation and will continue thereafter.
Additional follow-on efforts arising from the investigation include oversight of the unmasking of Americans’ names in intelligence reports, FISA abuse, and other matters.
“Reuters reported on March 13, 2018 that Russia has agreed to sign a ‘roadmap’ with Sudan on building nuclear power stations. However, Sudan has poor export controls, no adherence to nuclear power safety or nuclear terrorism conventions, and weak safeguards standards. Its neighbors also maintain poor implementation of these preventions against nuclear material and commodity theft or diversion. Russia should not build nuclear reactors in Sudan. Sudan should instead bolster its infrastructure so that it can at some point in the future underpin a well safeguarded nuclear power program backed by robust, internationally-acceptable strategic export controls.”
“A nerve agent was used to deliberately poison a former Russian double agent and his daughter, Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer said …. Sergei Skripal, once a colonel in Russia’s GRU military intelligence service, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, were found slumped unconscious on a bench … in the southern English city of Salisbury … Both remain critically ill and a police officer who attended the scene is also in a serious condition in hospital. * * * … a U.S. security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the main line of police inquiry was that Russians may have used the substance against Skripal in revenge …. Skripal betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence before his arrest by Russian authorities in 2004. … given refuge in Britain after being exchanged for Russian spies caught in the West as part of a Cold War-style spy swap ….”
“Since 2008, Russia’s military has embarked on an extensive modernization program designed to overcome shortfalls in readiness, competence, sustainability, and deployability. These and changes in logistics and operational capability have raised concerns about the Intelligence Community’s (IC’s) ability to warn of future Russian aggression. Achieving timely warning has proven extremely difficult, for a variety of reasons, in large part because of a lack of insight into Russian leadership intentions.”
“The Trump Administration must decide by October 15 whether to certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement and whether the billions of dollars of sanctions relief granted under that deal advances the vital national interests of the United States. The Administration also will soon unveil the conclusions reached in its Iran policy review. What should the Administration do about the flawed nuclear agreement? More broadly, how should the United States respond to Iran’s hostile and aggressive foreign policy?”
“A new book details how the #Soviet regime buried evidence and even stopped people from fleeing famine-stricken areas [in #Ukraine] in 1932-33. … Far from an unintended result of ill-conceived policies … the roughly 4m deaths from hunger in 1932 and 1933 were part of a deliberate campaign by … #Stalin and the Bolshevik leadership to crush Ukrainian national aspirations, literally starving actual or potential bearers of those aspirations into submission to the Soviet order. … Stalin was waging ‘war on Ukraine’, the Soviet Union’s strategically and economically most valuable republic after Russia. … the means was starvation. Food supply was not mismanaged by Utopian dreamers. It was weaponised. … [The author] is not shy about suggesting parallels between Stalin’s war and Vladimir Putin’s campaign in Ukraine today. …”
“There’s a new attraction for thousands of people enjoying the long holiday weekend on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Shelly Island is a destination you won’t find on a standard map. The giant barrier island suddenly formed in the Atlantic Ocean, almost overnight. …”
“According to Census data, there are 39.6 million American who claim Irish heritage including five million who say they are of Scots-Irish heritage. That number is almost seven times larger than the entire population of Ireland (6.3 million). After German, Irish is the most common ancestry of Americans. … ‘Irish Americans are at least 5 percent of the population in most counties across the U.S., and 10 percent or more in most of New England, New York state, New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and other smaller counties across the country’ … With 12.9 percent of its residents claiming Irish ancestry, New York has the most concentrated Irish American population. At 20.4 percent, Boston has the most concentrated Irish population for a city, while Miami, at 1 percent, has the least. …”
“As Uber continues to work through a huge amount of internal management turmoil, the company is also consolidating and rationalising more of its international business. Today, the company announced that it will be combining its rides-on-demand business and UberEATS, its food ordering and delivery business, in Russia and neighboring markets with Yandex.Taxi, the ridesharing business built up by the Russian search giant over several years and the current leader in the market, in what will be a separate, joint venture valued at $3.72 billion.
The deal — which will cover operations in Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus and Georgia — is expected to close in Q4 of this year and has already been approved by the boards of both companies. It’s a substantial operation. Currently it covers 35 million trips each month across 127 cities, with the bulk of those coming from the Yandex.Taxi part of the JV; Uber was only in 21 cities. …”
Turkey has agreed to pay $2.5 billion to acquire Russia’s most advanced missile defense system, a senior Turkish official said, in a deal that signals a turn away from the NATO military alliance that has anchored Turkey to the West for more than six decades.
The preliminary agreement sees Turkey receiving two S-400 missile batteries from Russia within the next year, and then producing another two inside Turkey, …. A spokesman for Russia’s arms-export company Rosoboronexport OJSC said he couldn’t immediately comment on details of a deal with Turkey. * * * Disagreements between Turkey, which has the second-largest army by personnel numbers in NATO, and the U.S., the bloc’s biggest military, have also impacted business. …
“Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) have always considered ‘the West’ – and the United States in particular – the ultimate enemy. But following President Vladimir Putin’s policy of military involvement in Syria, Russiamay have taken its place as ISIL’s main target. Thousands of ISIL fighters from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere are regrouping in the virtually impregnable mountains of Afghanistan, plotting revenge against the Kremlin. …”
“#Russia carried out the maiden flight of its new MS-21 medium-range passenger plane … its first post-Soviet foray into production of a mainline commercial aircraft which it hopes will rival those of its Western competitors. … manufacturer Irkut Corporation … and … state-controlled parent company United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) … [announced] a 30-minute flight at … 1,000 meters … [and] 300 km an hour. Squeezed by Western #sanctions over its role in the #Ukraine crisis, Russia is trying to rejuvenate domestic industrial production to make the country less dependant on foreign firms. …”
According to AP, there have been 66 deaths in connection with the Indy 500 site since 1909, including 40 drivers, 14 mechanics, nine spectators and a little boy playing in his own yard nearby. Additional deaths, of course, have occurred in other venues. The deaths have continued up to the current era, and have involved some of the most elite drivers, as has also occurred with stock car racing.
At a time when we need to be encouraging respect for human life and the development of a stronger conscience with regard for human life and the dignity of the human person, in the face of assaults upon respect for human life, it probably is a good idea to ban auto racing. Some first steps could include holding organizers financially responsible for any deaths or injuries, on a strict basis, with multiplying financial penalties added, without regard for supposed assumption of risk by spectators or participants.
Sentimentality and would-be tradition, especially in a sleepy setting like Indiana, not necessarily steeped in many other traditions, should not be an obstacle to changes. I myself like hearkening back to some old family connections with the race, which were nice in the themselves, yet that does not balance out with more important considerations and proactive steps to move forward.
I have mixed feelings about the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. My paternal grandfather, God Rest His Soul, built at least one race car that ran in the Indy 500, back in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s. My father had early childhood memories of Eddie Rickenbacker coming to the house, the great World War I flying ace who developed a passion for auto racing and, at one time, owned the Indy 500. The family connection with racing would be interrupted when my grandfather passed on prematurely, in his late thirties, apparently from health-related reasons, when my father was only eight years old. Years later, a brother-in-law became CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and briefly had his company sponsor a car, from a racing team led by a racing legend.
While human life in any era is sacred and precious, there is, perhaps, a temptation to think that the deaths are part of a murky past with less sophisticated technology and lower safety standards, or related to the skill of a driver. The first death at the race was in 1911, in the very first race, when a mechanic was killed.
However, just five years ago, Dan Wheldon distinguished himself as an elite driver by winning the Indy 500 for the second time, only to get killed in a crash the same year at another track.
Interestingly enough, my father, God Rest His Soul, never seemed to take people to the race, in my memory, although he and my mother did take me to qualifications once. (Ironically, the driver we saw on foot, standing near our bleachers, by coincidence was the racing legend who later had his team sponsored by the brother-in-law.)
But before I was born, my father did take some older siblings to the race itself, and there was a huge accident involving a large number of cars. Footage from the accident would actually be used in a feature film about the Indy 500. Real-world footage of the accident and its aftermath was embedded within the dramatized action of the film. As I watched that movie, as a rerun on a television, one of the older siblings came into the room, saw the accident, and said that he recognized it, as an accident that had occurred at the race he was taken to, years earlier, by my father. He remembered the iconic moment when, amidst the chaos, a wheel snapped loose and came rolling out of the chaos, continuing down the track at high-speed by itself, with no car attached.
Years later, my father and mother did attend at least one race when the brother-in-law’s company sponsored a racing team.
But, during that long hiatus, perhaps my father was quietly dissuaded from going to more races, after taking what were then small children to a race, only to witness a massive multi-car accident. More so than witnessing an accident, there also is the danger of spectators getting killed. In the modern era, in one instance, a wheel that broke off in an accident hurtled upwards and into the stands, killing a spectator completely at random, halfway up the stands.
It is unquestionably disrespectful to human life, and therefore un-Godly and un-American, to subject human beings to those dangers for something as trivial as a quasi-sporting event.
Arguments about technological benefits are unpersuasive. Technological innovations can be tested in other ways, in other settings, without the same issues arising in the same way. The competitive profit motive of auto racing and the purse might help instigate innovation, but that does not justify the loss of human life.
Actual testing tracks do not have to be built along the lines of the Indy 500. Indeed, the Indy 500 track, which originally was brick, and has corners reportedly banked for cars going less than 100 mph, is not necessarily suitable for modern test track purposes.
And it is not clear that we even need to use human drivers, in a cockpit, for modern testing of vehicles. It would be possible in today’s era to test vehicles, on remote testing tracks, with no actual driver behind the wheel, or with a driver who pilots the car remotely. The point is not that there should be races run that way. The point is, that if one argument for auto racing is that it could induce technological innovation, the response is that there are other ways to conduct the testing that are safer for humans.
An additional concern is the moral impact on moral conscience, from watering down the conscience by risking, or ending, human life for frivolous reasons.
One of the biggest challenges to human society in the current era, as always, has been to inspire the development of a stronger conscience in favor of respecting human life.
Terrorism; other forms of war; widespread prenatal child-killing (cast by its aficionados as the pseudo-clinical euphemism “abortion”); euthanasia; health care rationing; human trafficking; drug trafficking; permissiveness and sexual degradation; and other threats to human life and human dignity compound their initial impact by also besieging and undermining moral conscience.
We need a push to build a stronger moral conscience, in defense of human life, not efforts to weaken or water down human conscience. We do not need the would-be excitement, sentimentality, false rationalizations, or mere habit-building, associated with something like auto racing, to whittle away at the proper formation of proper conscience.
One argument sometimes raised, to promote quietism in the face of the threats auto racing poses to human life, is a generic, abstract idea of simply pushing the limits of something, of going higher and faster, and so forth.
The problem is, that argument rests on the notion that limits do exist in the first place.
The issue becomes, what limits are appropriate, and what limits can be pushed.
For example, football is now realizing that head-on-head contact is a limit that has to be ratcheted back, with a firm line drawn in the sand, because of the reality of head injuries and their ripple effects.
With some kinds of risks, there is no need to push limits, because the limits are appropriate.
For example, a few individuals have parachuted from an altitude so high, that it felt like they were in outer space. In broad daylight, they rose by balloon to an altitude so immense that the blue sky disappeared, and the black sky and stars came out. The first time that happened, the parachutist got to a point where he temporarily blacked out, and had to rely on the chute opening automatically.
The depths of the ocean are so bone-crushing with their water pressure that no human could survive without a heavy diving structure. Yet it would be foolish to deliberately push the limits of depth for scuba-divers, to the edge of where they could be killed. It would be frivolous to sell tickets to which whether somebody got killed scuba-diving, when they deliberately tried to go too deep.
Or, where limits exist, there might be other ways to push the limits, or to focus on pushing entirely different limits. For example, in football, there are other ways to deliver hits without causing concussions.
One concern should be whether, in some childish, emotionalistic way, anybody would think that the seriousness of deaths and injuries in auto racing somehow translates into seriousness of purpose, or makes the race more “important.” The opposite is true. The seriousness of deaths and injuries in the sport highlight how frivolous the activity is, when compared with the sacredness of human life and the seriousness of the deaths.
Even worse would be if there is a small subset of the population that actually ever got a sick thrill from seeing accidents and the possibility of death. In the Confessions of Saint Augustine, he describes a friend who apparently was addicted to visiting the “arena” as a spectator, which presumably meant gladiator fights or worse. The friend apparently was an otherwise normal person, perhaps even aspiring to being a Christian like Saint Augustine. The friend also knew that visiting the arena was something he should avoid.
Yet he found aspects of it addictive.
With regard to auto racing, one step that could be taken would be to make the organizers legally and financially responsible, under strict liability, for any deaths or injuries to spectators. One could try to argue that there is some assumption of risk by the victims. Yet that is not a risk that anyone should be allowed to assume, because no reasonable person could assume such a risk and still be considered reasonable. That is, no one in his right mind would think that sitting and eating a hot dog while a vehicle goes by at high speed is important enough to justify getting killed.
In the instance of the spectator in the late 1980’s killed randomly by a flying wheel, the widow reportedly sued for $9 million, then reached a confidential settlement.
Given financial responsibility and financial incentives, organizers would be in the best position to adopt better safeguards.
Another issue that might come up is whether some tracks or some circumstances are safer or more dangerous than others. There has been a driving death at the Indy 500 track as recently as the 1990’s, however.
On the other hand, if other tracks and other races are more likely to have deaths now, and if shutting down tracks one-by-one, from this point forward, is the way towards a gradual step-by-step ban, so be it.
For the Indy 500 itself, one added twist is the race’s spot on the calendar on Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day, of course, has a focus on remembering and honoring our departed, including those who perished in military service defending the nation. Indeed, the Indy 500 features taps as part of its ceremonies, as well as an invocation by a religious figure. At a time when we remember the departed, and acknowledge those who made the ultimate sacrifice, the natural reaction should be to have a heightened respect for human life, and a heightened sensitivity to the realities, and loss, associated with death. Sensitivities to these values should be raised, not lowered. To do otherwise would be un-Godly and un-American.
“Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Scott Dixon went airborne after making contact with Jay Howard, sending Dixon’s car into the inside fence and retaining wall in Turn 2 and shredding it in the process at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday. …”
The White House Office of the Press Secretary For Immediate Release May 09, 2017 Statement from the Press Secretary
Today, President Donald J. #Trump informed #FBI Director James #Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office. President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“The FBI is one of our Nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” said President Trump.
A search for a new permanent FBI Director will begin immediately.
“… Trump on Tuesday fired FBI Director James Comey … ending a rocky year-long stretch for the top law enforcement officer who came under fire for his handling of the Clinton email probe — and whose agency has been investigating whether Trump’s campaign had ties to Russia. …
The president told Comey in a brief letter that he could not ‘effectively lead’ the bureau and called for ‘new leadership that restores public trust and confidence’ in law enforcement.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the president’s decision was based on ‘the clear recommendations’ of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. …”
“United Airlines has found itself apologizing yet again, this time for sending a French woman on a 3,000-mile trip in the wrong direction. Lucie Bahetoukilae was recently scheduled to fly from Newark, N.J., to Paris, but instead found herself flying to San Francisco after she was inadvertently allowed to board the wrong plane …. According to Bahetoukilae, who speaks only French and allowed her niece to speak on her behalf, the airline changed the flight’s gate at the last minute, and failed to notify the passengers via email. Furthermore, Bahetoukilae claims the airline did not announce the gate change in French, despite the original flight being bound for Paris. … Bahetoukilae, not knowing any better, gave her ticket to the gate agent, who then scanned it and allowed Bahetoukilae to board. …”
“Last year, a longtime engineer at #Facebook Inc. gathered data that revealed a controversial finding: Code written by #women was rejected much more frequently than code written by their male colleagues, according to people familiar with the matter and screenshots of internal discussions viewed by The Wall Street Journal.
“President Vladimir #Putin is pushing a plan with U.S. President Donald #Trump to create security zones and deploy peacekeepers in #Syria — possibly including #Russian forces — to enforce a faltering cease-fire as he tries to find a resolution to the more than six-year conflict. …”
“German Chancellor Angela #Merkel told President Vladimir #Putin that #EU #sanctions will have to remain on #Russia as the two leaders clashed over #Ukraine, human rights and election meddling at a chilly encounter in the Black Sea city of Sochi.”
“Police detained dozens of people in several Russian cities as demonstrators joined a protest campaign urging Vladimir Putin not to run in the country’s presidential election next year. The April 29 protests came just three days after authorities moved to ban the organization spearheading the demonstrations: Open Russia, which was set up by former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.”
“Several hundred Russians lined up in central Moscow on Saturday under the gaze of riot police to hand over handwritten appeals for President Vladimir Putin to quit, as similar protests took place in other cities. Putin, who has dominated Russian politics for 17 years, has not said whether he will run in presidential elections in March 2018. But the 64-year-old politician, who enjoys high popularity ratings, is widely expected to do so. …”
“More than 100 activists were arrested in St Petersburg on Saturday as hundreds of Russians turned out to protest against President Vladimir Putin’s expected candidacy in elections next year. Demonstrators rallied across several cities under the slogan ‘We’re sick of him.’ The protests were called by the Open Russia movement founded by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky. …”
“Russian authorities have detained dozens of protesters at rallies demanding that President Vladimir Putin should not seek re-election next year. At least 30 people were reported to have been held in St Petersburg and more than 16 in the southern city of Kemerovo. Activists in some other cities were kept away from protests, reports said. President Putin has not confirmed that he will run in March 2018 but he is widely expected to do so. …”
We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do something big. President #Trump has made #tax reform a priority, and we have a #Republican #Congress that wants to get it done. This is something that #Democrats should support too because it’s good for the American people.
The President is going to seize this opportunity by leading the most significant tax reform legislation since 1986 – and one of the biggest tax cuts in American history.
The President has focused on three things since his campaign: job creation, economic growth, and helping low and middle-income families who have been left behind by this economy. He understands that there are a lot of people in this country that feel like they work hard and still can’t get ahead. They are sick of turning their paychecks over to Washington and having no idea how their tax dollars are spent. They are frustrated by a tax code that is so complicated that they can’t even do their own taxes.
That’s why tax reform is such a big priority for this President. He cares about making the economy work better for the American people.
We are going to cut taxes for businesses to make them competitive, and we are going to cut taxes for the American people – especially low and middle-income families.
In 1935, we had a one-page tax form consisting of 34 lines and two pages of instructions. Today, the basic 1040 form has 79 lines and 211 pages of instructions. Instead of a single tax form, the IRS now has 199 tax forms on the individual side of the tax code alone. Taxpayers spend nearly 7 billion hours complying with the tax code each year, and nearly 90% of taxpayers need help filing their taxes.
We are going to cut taxes and simplify the tax code by taking the current 7 tax brackets we have today and reducing them to only three brackets: 10 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent.
We are going to double the standard deduction so that a married couple won’t pay any taxes on the first $24,000 of income they earn. So in essence, we are creating a 0 percent tax rate for the first $24,000 that a couple earns.
The larger standard deduction also leads to simplification because far fewer taxpayers will need to itemize, which means their tax form can go back to that one simple page.
Families in this country will also benefit from tax relief to help them with child and dependent care expenses.
We are going to repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The AMT creates significant complications and burdens by requiring taxpayers to do their taxes twice to see which is higher. That makes no sense; we should have one simple tax code.
Job creation and economic growth is the top priority for this Administration, and nothing drives economic growth like capital investment. Therefore, we are going to return the top tax rate on capital gains and dividends to 20 percent by repealing the harmful 3.8 percent Obamacare tax. That tax has been a direct hit on investment income and small business owners.
We are going to repeal the death tax. The threat of being hit by the death tax leads small business owners and farmers in this country to waste countless hours and resources on complicated estate planning to make sure their children aren’t hit with a huge tax when they die. No one wants their children to have to sell the family business to pay an unfair tax.
We are going to eliminate most of the tax breaks that mainly benefit high-income individuals. Home ownership, charitable giving, and retirement savings will be protected – but other tax benefits will be eliminated.
This is not going to be easy. Doing big things never is. But one thing is for certain: I would not bet against this President. He will get this done for the American people.
Gary Cohn is the chief economic advisor to President Donald J. Trump and Director of the National Economic Council
“Anti-#Kremlin protesters who run the regular risk of being detained by the police … [can utilize a] #smartphone app … to instantly inform others where and when they have been arrested. #Russia faces a presidential election next year … and was last month shaken by large anti-government protests. More are planned. The result of a collaboration between a Russian firm, a human rights group and an opposition movement, the notification system, called #RedButton, automatically transmits the location and emergency contact details of a detained protester. … [to] allow others to act quickly to help free them as it will include details of the police station where the individual is being held. … #Putin remains … the most popular politician in Russia, but opponents argue he keeps a check on dissent through control of the media, especially television, and limiting protest. …”
Created in St. Petersburg by Alexander Litreev, the application’s development received support from the Open Russia foundation, founded by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and OVD-Info, a human rights organization that monitors detentions.
“#Russia has banned three non-governmental groups linked to Mikhail #Khodorkovsky … ahead of planned anti-regime demonstrations as the #Kremlin tries to curb the spread of protest sentiment. The Prosecutor General’s Office … declared the Open Russia Foundation, the Institute of Modern Russia and the Open Russia movement to be ‘undesirable organisations’. Such a status allows authorities to freeze their assets in Russia and exposes anyone working with them to criminal prosecution. …”
“Russia’s top prosecutor has blacklisted a nongovernmental organization set up by former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky — a move that puts the group in legal jeopardy just days before a street protest it has been planning. …”
“For #Russian #oil companies, the historic agreement to boost prices by cutting output in conjunction with [#OPEC] was an easy win. Extending the deal will be less straightforward. Cuts so far this year came alongside the traditional seasonal stagnation in Russian production, meaning the country made relatively few sacrifices in exchange for an increase in crude prices of more than 10 percent. For the powerful Russian oil bosses who plan to discuss the OPEC accord with Energy Minister Alexander Novak this week, a decision by the government to extend the cuts beyond June would stymie plans to boost output, creating many more headaches than the initial agreement. …”
“#Russia flew long-range combat aircraft near American airspace for the fourth consecutive day, the Pentagon said Friday, marking the first such string of incursions since 2014, but prompting little concern from the White House. American and Canadian jet fighters intercepted a pair of Russian “Bear” long-range bombers in international airspace near #Alaska on Thursday, said … a spokesman for North American Aerospace Defense Command, or #Norad. …”
“… For the second consecutive night, #Russia flew two long-range bombers off the coast of #Alaska on Tuesday, this time coming within 36 miles of the mainland while flying north of the #Aleutian Islands …. The two #nuclear-capable Tu-95 bombers were spotted by U.S. military radar at 5 p.m. local time. Unlike a similar incident Monday night, this time the U.S. Air Force did not scramble any fighter jets. Instead, it launched a single E-3 Sentry early warning aircraft, known as AWACS, to make sure there were only the two Russian bombers flying near Alaska, and not other aircraft flying underneath the large bombers. …”
“#Russia has protested the U.S.’ refusal to allow its inspectors to participate in a formal investigation into a chemical weapons attack that struck the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhan in northern Idlib, #Syria, earlier this month.”
“A prominent #Russian journalist known for articles criticizing the country’s government and President Vladimir #Putin has died in St. Petersburg after being beaten up, his lawyer was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying. Nikolai #Andrushchenko, a 73-year-old co-founder of the weekly newspaper Novy Peterburg, was found unconscious with what colleagues described as head trauma on March 9. …”
“… In the wake of the airstrikes on a military base in Syria after a deadly chemical attack on civilians, Russia announced it was suspending cooperation of its communication link with the U.S. that protects pilots flying missions over the war-torn country. ‘I think that is a major mistake on the part of Moscow… they’re actually putting their own forces in greater jeopardy,’ Crocker said. ‘It would be to Moscow’s benefit to have these basic lines of communication. So they will lose more than we will.’ …”
“Recent Russian naval activity in Europe exceeds levels seen during the Cold War, a top U.S. and NATO military officer said, voicing concern that the distributed nature of the deployments could end up ‘splitting and distracting’ the transatlantic alliance. Navy Admiral Michelle Howard, who heads NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command in Naples and commands U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa, said Russia had clearly stepped up its naval actions in recent years although the size of its navy was smaller now ….”
In January, conflict almost erupted in the Balkans after the Kosovar government dispatched special police forces to stop a Serbian train headed into Kosovo’s majority-Serb northern territory, emblazoned with the slogan “Kosovo is Serbia” in 21 languages.
Russia will keep trying to exploit divisions in the western Balkans, traditionally a theater of competition for many world powers.
Russian influence will continue to spread in some of the Balkans’ most turbulent areas, including Serbia, northern Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia.
By stoking tensions in the region, Moscow could engineer a series of crises too challenging for the West to contain.
The Balkan Peninsula has long stood at the edge of empires. The region, with its jumble of ethnicities, religions and political movements, has been a playing field for competing world powers throughout its history. Russia began to vie with the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires for influence over the area in the 19th century. During the Cold War, Yugoslavia became a battleground between the Soviet Union and the West, despite its officially nonaligned status following World War II. While the West tried to woo the country with economic aid, the Soviets played to its ruling Communist Party, and the two sides continued in deadlock through the 1980s. Once the country dissolved in 1991, however, the tides turned. The collapse of the Soviet Union left Moscow in no position to see Yugoslavia’s constituent states through their transition to sovereignty, leaving that task to the European Union. The West has dominated the Balkan states’ economic and security relationships ever since.
Russia still maintained its footholds in the Balkans, though. And today, as the European Union’s divisions deepen and uncertainty prevails within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Moscow has turned its focus to the region once more. The Balkans’ stability has been such a hot topic in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meetings with the Kremlin Security Council this year that the council’s chief even said it was a top priority for Moscow. Incidents of Russia’s meddling in the Balkans have been on the rise, meanwhile, raising questions about whether it will be the next theater in Moscow’s ongoing struggle against Western power and unity. After all, stoking tensions in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia offers the Russian government a convenient means to increase its influence and further distract the West.
Rattling Sabers in Serbia
Since the end of the Cold War, Serbia, unlike many of its Western-leaning neighbors, has stayed in the middle of the Russia-West dynamic. The country has drawn on its cultural and religious bonds to Russia to keep a strong relationship with Moscow while also pursuing membership in the European Union. Over the past two years, however, Russia’s influence in Serbia has grown noticeably. The number of Russian media outlets and nongovernmental organizations in the country has jumped from fewer than a dozen to more than 100 since 2015, according to the Belgrade-based Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies. The Kremlin’s two main news networks, Sputnik and RT (formerly Russia Today), have both begun offering television programming, online news and radio broadcasts in Serbian. In addition, Russian state newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta prints Nedeljnik, a widely read weekly, in Moscow before delivering it to Serbia. The publications make frequent use of anti-Western rhetoric, for instance through references to NATO’s 1999 bombing of Serbia and Moscow’s support for Belgrade during that conflict. And the strategy seems to be working: A poll conducted in February by Serbian weekly Vreme indicated that some 68 percent of Serbs prefer relations with Russia to ties with the European Union.
At the same time, Russia and Serbia have flaunted their military connections in recent months. A Russian plane carrying 40 metric tons of food, clothing and medical supplies from Serbia set off for Syria in October 2016. The following month, the Russian and Belarusian militaries held drills in Serbia to coincide with NATO exercises just across the border in Montenegro. The government in Belgrade, moreover, will receive six Mikoyan Mig-29 fighter jets and dozens of tanks and combat vehicles in the next few weeks as a gift from Moscow, which has also offered to sell it the Buk anti-aircraft missile systems. (The equipment will be a welcome update to the Soviet technology that the Serbian military still relies on.)
Much of this saber rattling is political theater meant to appeal to Serbia’s nationalist voters ahead of the April 2 presidential election. But beneath Belgrade’s politicking runs an undercurrent of tension between the country and its neighboring states — particularly Kosovo, whose independence Serbia does not acknowledge. The two almost fell into conflict in January when Kosovo’s government deployed special police forces to stop a train headed from Belgrade to the state’s northern territory, home to mostly Kosovar Serbs, and emblazoned with the phrase “Kosovo is Serbia” in 21 languages. Responding to the incident, Kosovar President Hashim Thaci accused Serbia of attempting to use the “Crimean model” to take over the northern part of his country. Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, meanwhile, telephoned his Russian counterpart to ask for support, sparking fears that a new war was nigh.
How to Create a Crisis
Now that Kosovo is once again flirting with the idea of transforming its lightly armed security force into a bona fide army, relations between the two states are coming under further strain. The United States and its fellow NATO members have threatened to rescind their support and protection for Kosovo if it follows through with the plan. Even so, Thaci sent a draft law approving a regular army to the legislature during the week of March 20, citing Serbia’s recent military deals with Russia and Belgrade’s influence in northern Kosovo as grounds for the measure. The Kosovar government in Pristina is concerned that between the European Union’s internal divisions and the new administration in Washington, the West won’t have the time or attention to devote to keeping the nine-year-old sovereign state safe. And if tensions continue to mount between Kosovo and Serbia, Russia could use them to engineer a full-blown crisis down the line.
In fact, Moscow is currently facing allegations that it tried to do just that in Montenegro. The country’s government has accused Russian security forces of plotting to assassinate Milo Djukanovic, then the prime minister, just before parliamentary elections in October in an effort to thwart its bid for NATO membership. Russia’s former deputy military attache to Poland, who was ejected from Warsaw in 2014 for espionage, organized the plan, according to Montenegro’s chief special prosecutor. Adding to the intrigue, Djukanovic said Moscow poured money into the country’s parliamentary campaigns in the runup to the elections. Serbia detained and deported a group of Russians accused of planning the coup in the weeks after the vote, and another 21 suspects were arrested in Montenegro. Moscow, for its part, has denied involvement in the plot and accused the country’s government of falsifying events to cast it in a negative light. Regardless, a prospective new election in 2018 could give Russia another opportunity to sow seeds of discord in Montenegro’s fragile government.
A Referendum on Russia’s Influence?
A vote in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Republika Srpska, likewise, could give Moscow a chance to increase its sway there. The republic’s president, Milorad Dodik, has called for a referendum next year on the independence of Republika Srpska, which is home primarily to Orthodox Serbs. (The proposal recalls the independence vote that Crimea held just before Russia annexed it.) Dodik, who first suggested the referendum during his campaign for the presidency in 2014, has made no secret of his ties to the Kremlin. Two weeks before the presidential vote, he traveled to Moscow to meet with Putin, and on election day itself, he liaised with Russian ultranationalist and propagandist Konstantin Malofeev at a posh hotel after casting his ballot. Malofeev is an agent of Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov; together, the two have reportedly organized and funded referendums in Ukraine’s restive Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions. What’s more, he arrived at the election day meeting with a group of Russian Cossacks later seen walking the streets near polling sites.
Dodik managed only a slim victory in the vote, limiting the amount of clout Russia has in Bosnia-Herzegovina through him. Nevertheless, more and more Russian media has been creeping into the country over the Serbian border for the past two years to spread Moscow’s word. Though voters in Republika Srpska are divided over the issue of secession, the Kremlin’s media campaigns will likely ramp up as the possible referendum approaches, perhaps igniting one of the largest political powder kegs in the Balkans today.
The mostly Slavic state of Macedonia is already in the thick of a Russian disinformation campaign. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has accused the European Union and United States of supporting separatist movements among the inherently fragile country’s Albanian minority, which makes up 25 percent of the population. Over the past few weeks, Macedonians have taken to the streets to protest Macedonian Albanians’ demands for their own government. Moscow is stoking the unrest, claiming that the West is supporting calls for the creation of a so-called Greater Albania. According to a Stratfor source, the German and Austrian embassies in the country are trying to counter Russia’s propaganda, as is the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Even so, recent polls show that most Macedonians would sooner turn to Russia for help in the future than to the West because they doubt Western governments’ commitment. (Indeed, Washington is reportedly planning to cut funding for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, creating a vacuum in the Macedonian media for Russia to fill.)
Although the instability in Macedonia pales in comparison with that in Kosovo or Republika Srpska, the situation there offers yet another example of Russia’s activities in the Balkans. Of course, not all states in the region have accepted Moscow’s advances: Croatia, a member of the European Union as well as NATO, has actively worked to keep Russian or pro-Russian media from spreading inside its borders, according to a Stratfor source. A fellow NATO member, Albania, has also attempted to resist Russia’s influence as the Kremlin’s media outlets have expanded their coverage to include Albanian-language services. Still, the campaigns are sure to continue. For Moscow, meddling in the Balkans is a low-cost and high-yield endeavor. The Russian government has no illusions that it will be able to win the Balkan countries over to its side. Instead, it views the region as a hornet’s nest. By stirring it up, Moscow could create a series of crises too deep for the European Union or NATO to contain, thereby giving it another card to play in its negotiations with the West.
“Republican congressional investigators expect a potential ‘smoking gun’ establishing that the #Obama administration spied on the #Trump transition team, and possibly the president-elect himself, will be produced to the House #Intelligence Committee this week …. Classified intelligence showing incidental collection of Trump team communications, purportedly seen by committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and described by him in vague terms … came from multiple sources …. The intelligence corroborated information about surveillance of the Trump team that was known to Nunes, sources said, even before President Trump accused his predecessor of having wiretapped him …. The intelligence is said to leave no doubt the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump, according to sources. The key to that conclusion is the unmasking of selected U.S. persons whose names appeared in the intelligence, … the paper trail leaves no other plausible purpose for the unmasking other than to damage the incoming Trump administration. …”
“… Justice Kennedy was incredibly welcoming and gracious … he taught me so much. I am forever grateful. … These judges brought me up in the law. Truly, I would not be here without them. Today is as much their day as it is mine. …” — Judge Neil Gorsuch, at the White House, Jan. 31, 2017
Neil Gorsuch was willing to clerk for pro-abortion Anthony Kennedy within roughly a year after Kennedy’s aggressive pro-abortion stance manifested itself in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), in which Kennedy was one of multiple coauthors of the Court’s decision. Kennedy apparently was the only active Justice that Gorsuch actually clerked for, part-time while Gorsuch used his status as a token clerk for retired Justice Byron White as a back door into the world of Supreme Court clerkships.
Even just last year, Kennedy abused his power on the Supreme Court to tip the balance in favor of attacking Texas requirements aimed at protecting women’s health, with Kennedy acting in favor of looser access to abortion instead.
Not only has Gorsuch failed to repudiate his past association with Kennedy, he spoke favorably of Kennedy, within the past two months, when accepting Donald Trump’s nomination of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
All of these facts raise serious questions about Gorsuch’s moral compass, judgment, analytical capacity and overall lack of suitability for a judicial position in the United States.
The issue is not simply how to parse some of Gorsuch’s words, in a dry, static, narrowly construed legalistic manner; the issue is what his words, posture and failure to speak, say about his thinking, abilities and character, past and present, against the backdrop of an underperforming, morally questionable legal profession and wholesale slaughter of vulnerable Americans in the womb.
Interestingly enough, the White House does not seem to make it easy to find Gorsuch’s full comments from January in text, even though they are included on the White House video. According to a transcript from the Denver Post, Gorsuch asserted:
“‘I began my legal career working for Byron White, the last Coloradan to serve on the Supreme Court, and the only justice to lead the NFL in rushing. [Laughter] He was one of the smartest and most courageous men I’ve ever known. When Justice White retired, he gave me the chance to work for Justice Kennedy, as well. Justice Kennedy was incredibly welcoming and gracious, and like Justice White, he taught me so much. I am forever grateful. And if you’ve ever met Judge David Sentelle, you’ll know just how lucky I was to land a clerkship with him right out of school. [Waves] Thank you. These judges brought me up in the law. Truly, I would not be here without them. Today is as much their day as it is mine. …'”
The comments seem somewhat manipulative from the beginning, given the seeming implication that Gorsuch was trying to portray himself as having started out as a regular Supreme Court law clerk, only to scramble to continue helping the institution after his employer retired. The facts seem to indicate that he actually started out, from the beginning, working for a retired Justice as a kind of token retirement benefit accorded the retired Justice, and, having inserted himself onto the scene, also took part-time work with Kennedy, as his only work for an active Justice. Left out is whether Gorsuch even attempted to work for a more conservative or moderate Justice, or why it is he ended up with a human rights violator like Kennedy. Additionally concerning is whether, with Trump failing to appoint a non-lawyer to the Supreme Court, he has ended up a lawyer so neck-deep in the artificial world of the legal profession that he “cannot see the forest for the trees.” One is left to wonder whether a status-hungry, resume-filling Gorsuch, lost in the arcane world of lawyers, decided that the pedigree of working for an active Justice was more important than the millions of American lives being snuffed out, and Rule of Law being undermined, by the anti-constitutional human rights violator that he was associating with when he worked for Kennedy.
There reportedly have been roughly 59 million surgical abortions in the United States since the Supreme Court began blocking prosecutions for abortions in 1973.
The Supreme Court’s decisions obstructing abortion prosecutions, seeking to enshrine prenatal child-killing as a would-be “right,” are illegal and an abuse of power.
The Constitution provides an explicit mechanism for amending the Constitution, including to account for shifts in public values. A simple majority vote by an aggressive Supreme Court is not that mechanism.
Kennedy’s actions promoting abortion are an shockingly overt attack on, and violation of, the Constitution.
Under centuries of political theory, the core duty of any government, and any government’s core justification for existing, is the defense of innocent human life.
A democracy, in particular, rests its government’s legitimacy on serving the will and interests of its people, including protecting the rights of minority portions of the population, including safeguarding and respecting the rights of all persons living within the nation. The most fundamental right, recognized since the founding of the republic, is the right to live and not be killed.
Kennedy and his pro-abortion confederates essentially have declared a civil war against an enormous, and most vulnerable, portion of the American population. In the process Kennedy and his pro-abortion confederates have launched an assault on human life, an assault on Rule of Law, an assault on the American Way of Life and Americans themselves, and a relentless drive to arrogate to mere lawyers with political connections a fanciful self-proclaimed status of philosopher king.
Moreover, a key element of pro-abortion Supreme Court judicial ideology is to define, condemn and doom the victims precisely because of their helplessness, saying that it is because a victim is helpless (or lacking so-called independent “viability”) that members of that class of persons may be killed, on a massive scale, without cause, without due process, using methods that are almost unimaginably vicious and painful. There are methods by which abortion is death by torture, ripping apart the bodies of living persons who can feel pain, while they are defenseless in their mothers’ wombs.
There are, of course, other issues of concern surrounding the troubled tenure of Anthony Kennedy. However, so-called abortion is numerically the biggest threat to American lives, and, by that measure, on that basic level, the country’s biggest de facto national security threat.
Given that abortion is killing millions of Americans, Kennedy and his pro-abortion confederates are also essentially guilty of de facto domestic treason, and conspiracy to murder or conspiracy to become accessories to murder. Even if the mechanism for the mass-killing includes intermediate steps by a multitude of others, by comparison, if Kennedy simply issued a decree requiring sticks of dynamite to be made available to terrorists, to suggest that Kennedy would not share responsibility for the resulting deaths would be absurd. The same is true of his efforts to “tee up” millions of abortions.
Kennedy and his pro-abortion confederates should be impeached and removed on that basis. Congress has been remiss in failing to carry its duty in that regard, as a last line of defense placed upon Congress by the Constitution and the many Americans who have laid down their lives over two centuries to defend that Constitution and the American Way of Life, sacrifices for which Kennedy and the weak-willed Congress have demonstrated repeated contempt.
Additionally, abortion is racist and sexist, with a disproportionate impact on racial minorities and females, giving rise to concern over other severe moral and constitutional defects. There also have been charges of abortion being used to cover up evidence of other crimes.
Yet instead of repudiating his association with Kennedy, Gorsuch observes:
“‘… Justice Kennedy was incredibly welcoming and gracious … he taught me so much. I am forever grateful. … These judges brought me up in the law. Truly, I would not be here without them. Today is as much their day as it is mine. …'”
There is a stark backdrop formed by the Kennedy ideology, and the horrific nature and mind-boggling magnitude of the harms Kennedy has helped impose upon America. Against that backdrop, one should call into question Gorsuch’s moral compass, judgment, intelligence, analytical ability and honesty, when observing Gorsuch’s lapse into a lassitude of “go along to get along, let’s celebrate the superficial feel-good status-building bullet-points in my resume,” given the irrational, unlawyer-like evils of Kennedy and Gorsuch’s recent ratification of his association with Kennedy.
To put it simply, to celebrate ties to Kennedy does not just mean Gorsuch is unfit for the bench, and should not have been confirmed for a federal court of appeals. It means Gorsuch lacks leadership, is a weak figure and is not a very good thinker.
The scandal should be regarded as an embarrassment to Donald Trump. Trump embarrassed himself by picking Gorsuch and by himself, Trump, praising Gorsuch’s past without caveats.
Even worse, Trump was supposed to be a highly capable outsider who was going to “play things straight” and “drain the swamp,” including giving a top priority to his duties as Commander-in-Chief to defend American lives.
Yet, instead of picking a non-lawyer who would help correct the low intellectual and moral standards of the legal profession, Trump picked a legal profession insider with an apparent “go along to get along attitude” even in the face of 59 million American dead.
Already Trump, the wealthy businessman who never really built much more than resorts, casinos and TV rating, is watering himself down.
There is the curious fact that the abortion issue had tipped the balance in recent presidential elections, with the prolife, traditional values majority apparently having a reflex to be tepid in the face of the Republican Party’s attempt to water down its nominees’ credentials.
In contrast, George W. Bush, despite not really being thoroughly prolife, managed to put together a prolife agenda with a specific big-picture focus, pulling in the prolife majority. He did so largely by focusing on Supreme Court nominations, banning partial-birth infanticide and banning funding for prenatal killing, building a common ground on all those major points. For example, while a majority of Americans are prolife, a vast super-majority support a ban on partial-birth infanticide.
John McCain and Mitt Romney, already raising questions and causing the traditional values majority to step back and wonder about their political fiber, failed to articulate the same kind of focus (and as a running mate Paul Ryan even allowed himself to articulate a modified pro-abortion view, openly admitting that his ticket supported abortion in some circumstances, an offensive and unbelievably impractical act that undoubtedly weakened the resolve of his potential base to expend greater energy in his behalf).
Trump, however, despite questions about his past views or values credentials, started to regain some focus on the specific practical major themes of the abortion issue and the big-picture steps he would need to take as President. And Trump even drove his opponent to openly expose herself as an extreme radical on abortion and infanticide, out of step with all but a small portion of the electorate.
With Gorsuch, however, Trump begins to lose that focus. He has failed to find the right nominee. That Gorsuch could serve for three decades or more makes the situation even worse.
In the face of the Gorsuch nomination, there is, indeed, a need to avoid lassitude and complacency among the majority of Americans who consider themselves prolife. One of the reasons four decades of mass-killing has rolled on is the willingness of portions of the prolife majority to tolerate weak efforts and compromised, watered down values posing as something more.
Americans who love their country and want to rebuild respect for Rule of Law should oppose Gorsuch, seek the impeachment and removal of Kennedy and his confederates and demand that Trump step up, do a better job and “get it right.”
“#Iranian President Hassan #Rouhani and #Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip #Erdogan agreed Wednesday to improve ties, including in the fight against terrorism, Iran’s state news agency IRNA said, following some angry exchanges between the regional rivals. Tehran and Ankara support opposite sides in the conflict in #Syria. Largely #Shiite Iran backs the government of President Bashar #Assad, while Turkey, which is majority #Sunni, has backed elements of the Syrian opposition. Last month Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu both accused Iran of trying to destabilize Syria and Iraq and of sectarianism, prompting Tehran to summon Ankara’s ambassador. …”
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence addressed a meeting of the National Governors Association at the White House on Monday, Feb. 27. Trump touched upon a variety of subjects, including the federal budget, defense spending, immigration, Obamacare and the relationship between the states and the federal government. The transcript follows below the video.
For Immediate Release February 27, 2017 Remarks by President Trump in Meeting with the National Governors Association
State Dining Room
9:45 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause.) That is pretty good, I’ll tell you. Coming from governors, I can’t really — I can’t even believe it. That’s so impressive. And I very much appreciate you being here. And thank you to Vice President Pence. He has been so wonderful to work with. He’s a real talent, a real guy. And he is central casting, do we agree? Central casting. He’s been great. (Applause.)
Good morning, everybody, and welcome back to the White House. The First Lady and I were very, very happy last night to host you. We saw some real talent, military talent, musicians who were fantastic. And everybody enjoyed it. (Applause.)
I’m very proud to have so many former governors in my Cabinet. Vice President Pence, as you know, big governor from a very great state — I state I like very much — Indiana. Nikki Haley at the U.N. — is Nikki here someplace? I think so — yes. We have Rick Perry — is going before. We’re trying to get people approved, we can’t get them out. But Rick is going to do a fantastic job. Sonny Purdue will be joining the Cabinet very soon. Terry Branstad will be our ambassador to China. And an interesting story on Terry — every time I spoke in Iowa, he’d say, please don’t say anything bad about China. (Laughter.) I said, what do you mean? What do you mean? He said, I like China and we do a lot of business with China. “And really, just don’t” — and I said, “hmm.” So when it came down to picking an ambassador, I called him up, I said, you like China. And I can tell you, China is very, very happy with our choice. So we made everybody happy. (Applause.) Right? These governors — thank you. And thank you, Terry.
These governors have been bold reformers, and their success shows why we need to make states the laboratories of democracy once again. Many of you have shared past frustrations with waiting for permission from the federal government and agencies — and I understand that, and I’ve had many people tell me about it, and it’s been catastrophic for some of your states. You know your citizens and you know they want things done. But they don’t get things done and it’s not your fault. Sometimes it’s your fault, but they understand that. But sometimes it’s not your fault. We’re going to speed it up.
Because that’s not how a partnership is supposed to work. The government should not stand in your way in delivering needed reforms and services — and it won’t. We’re going to move very, very quickly, environmentally, with Scott and so many others that are involved in the process of regulation. We are going to be cutting — we’re going to be doing the right thing. We’re going to be protecting people environmentally and safety-wise, but we’re going to be moving it quickly, very quickly. (Applause.)
And speaking of that, I know many of you — and I’ve spoken to some of you last night about it — have many projects that are — I mean, just literally tied up because of environmental concerns, and it’s been in for years and years and years the project your state wants, great for employment — everybody wants them — and they couldn’t get them out of environmental protection. And we will get them out. Now, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be approved, but they’ll be rejected quickly one way or the other. They’ll be either rejected quickly or they’re going to get approved. I would say most will be approved, but you’re going to know you’re not going to wait nine years or eleven years — some of the horror stories that I’ve heard.
Under my administration, we’re going to have a true partnership of collaboration and cooperation. We will get to the answers and we will get them quickly, and the flexibility you need to implement the reforms that you are going to have in order to make decision-making proper and decision-making fast. So we’re going to do both those things — proper and fast.
One of the most important responsibilities for the federal government is the budget of the United States. My first budget will be submitted to the Congress next month. This budget will be a public safety and national security budget, very much based on those two with plenty of other things, but very strong. And it will include a historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military of the United States of America at a time we most need it. (Applause.)
And you’ll be hearing about that tomorrow night in great detail. This is a landmark event, a message to the world, in these dangerous times, of American strength, security and resolve. We must ensure that our courageous servicemen and women have the tools they need to deter war, and when called upon to fight in our name only do one thing: Win. We have to win. We have to start winning wars again.
I have to say, when I was young, in high school and college, everybody used to say “we haven’t lost a war” — we never lost a war — you remember. Some of you were right there with me, and you remember we never lost a war. America never lost. And now we never win a war. We never win. And we don’t fight to win. We don’t fight to win. So we either got to win, or don’t fight it at all. But where we are — 17 years — almost 17 years of fighting in the Middle East. I saw a chart the other day — as of about a month ago, $6 trillion we’ve spent in the Middle East — $6 trillion. And I want to tell you, that’s just unacceptable. And we’re nowhere. Actually, if you think about it, we’re less than nowhere. The Middle East is far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago. There’s not even a contest. So we’ve spent $6 trillion. We have a hornet’s nest. It’s a mess like you’ve never seen before. We’re nowhere. So we’re going to straighten it out.
This defense spending increase will be offset and paid for by finding greater savings and efficiencies across the federal government. We’re going to do more with less. I got involved in an airplane contract, I got involved in some other contracts, and we cut the hell out of the prices. I mean, we saved a lot of money, tremendous amount of money, beyond anything that the generals that were involved — they said they’d never seen anything like this before.
On one plane, on a small order of one plane, I saved $725 million. And I would say I devoted about, if I added it up, all those calls, probably about an hour. So I think that might be my highest and best use. (Laughter.) Because if we can do that, our budget will be — might be my highest and best. (Applause.)
And there are many other places; it’s all the same. And in one way, that’s a good thing because we have an answer. And David is going to do a fantastic job at the VA. I see David is sitting there, shaking his head. Stand up, David. (Applause.) So we can’t get our people through Cabinet, but he went through — was it 95 to nothing?
SECRETARY SHULKIN: A hundred to zero.
THE PRESIDENT: How the h[***] did you do that? (Laughter.) Boy, oh boy. He must be good. You were the one. One hundred to zero, wow. Chose you — hey, we can do it. But we do — we have still quite a few Cabinet members, and they’re just in limbo waiting and waiting. It’s like obstruction. It’s obstruction. But eventually we’ll get them, and they’ll put their people in, and we’ll get those agencies, et cetera, to work.
We’re going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people. We can do so much more with the money we spend. With $20 trillion in debt — can you imagine that — the government must learn to tighten its belt, something families all across the country have had to learn to do, unfortunately. But they’ve had to learn to do it, and they’ve done it well.
My budget increases spending, and the increase in all spending, for federal law enforcement also. And activities having to do with law enforcement will be substantially increased. And we will fight violent crime. If you look at what’s happening in our cities, you look at what’s happening in Chicago, what’s going on in Chicago — we will fight violent crime, and we will win. And we’ll win that one fairly quickly. Once we give the local police, the local law enforcement the right to go in and fight it, and we back them monetarily and also otherwise, we’re going to win that one. We’re going to win it fairly quickly, I believe.
My budget also puts America first by keeping tax dollars in America to help veterans and first responders. So important. This budget follows through on my promise to focus on keeping Americans safe, keeping out terrorists, keeping out criminals, and putting violent offenders behind bars, or removing them from our country altogether. And I must say that we’ve been treated very well — very, very well — on the job that General Kelly has done at the border. It’s tough, it’s strong.
I was talking last night to Terry McAuliffe, and he said, you have to mention this — because he met with — where is Terry? He’s around here someplace. Terry — he met with General Kelly, and I think I can say you were impressed with General Kelly. And he said, you have to get the point out that they’re removing the bad ones. And that’s where our focus is — it’s the bad ones. We’re getting some very, very bad players out of this country — drug lords, gang members, heads of gangs, killers, murderers — we’re getting them out. That’s what we’re focused on.
The press isn’t covering that, unfortunately, but it’s something that is very important. We’re getting the bad ones out. And that’s always where I said I was going to start. I was going to start with these bad players. And they are bad. They are rough and tough, and we’re getting them the hell out of our country, and we’re bringing them to where they started out. Let their country do what they have to do with them.
So the budget, which is going to be a very big part of tomorrow night’s speech, it’s going to be I think a budget of great rationality. But it’s going to have to do with military, safety, economic development, and things such as that. Great detail tomorrow night.
We’re also going to do whatever we can to restore the authority of the states when that is the appropriate thing to do. We’re going to give you back a lot of the powers that have been taken away from states and great people and great governors. And you can control it better than the federal government because you’re right on top of it. You have something that’s controllable. So I think that’s going to be very important. You see that already taking effect.
We have to let the states compete and to see who has the best solutions. They know the best how to spend their dollars and how to take care of the people within each state. And the states are different, and people are different. So the governors are going to have a lot more decision-making ability than they have right now.
All states will benefit from our economic agenda. We will reduce taxes very, very substantially, and simplify the tax code. We’re also going to make taxes between countries much more fair. We’re one of the only countries in the world that people can sell their product into us and have no tax, no nothing, and they get rich. And yet if you want to do business with them, you’ll have taxes, I’ve seen, as high as 100 percent. So they sell into us, no problem; we sell into them — because we don’t sell them because the tax is so high that they don’t want us to sell into them.
So I know that’s always been a point of contention, but to me it’s just fair. It’s just fair. It’s reciprocal. It’s fair. And so we’re going to be doing a lot of work on that, and that’s becoming a very, very important factor — fairness. Because I believe in free trade. I want so much trade — somebody said, oh, maybe he’s a total nationalist — which I am, in a true sense — but I want trade. I want great trade between countries.
But the word “free” is very deceiving, because it’s good for them, it’s not good for us. I want fair trade. And if we’re going to be taxed, they should be taxed at the same amount, the other countries. And one of two things is going to happen: We’re going to make a lot of money or the other country is going to get rid of its tax. And that’s good, too, because now the product, like Harley-Davidson — I was talking to them — the product will now flow into other countries where right now they can’t do it.
So we’re going to make it easier for states to invest in infrastructure, and I’m going to have a big statement tomorrow night on infrastructure. We spent $6 trillion in the Middle East, and we have potholes all over our highways and our roads. I have a friend who is in the trucking business. He said, my trucks are destroyed going from New York to Los Angeles. They’re destroyed. He said, I’m not going to get the good trucks. He always prided himself on buying the best equipment. He said, the roads are so bad that, by the time we make the journey from New York to Los Angeles or back, he said the equipment is just beat to hell. I said, when has it been like that before? He said, it’s never — he’s been in the business for 40 years — he said it’s never been like that. Forty years — never been like that. So we’re going to take care of that.
Infrastructure — we’re going to start spending on infrastructure big. And it’s not like we have a choice. It’s not like, oh, gee, let’s hold it off. Our highways, our bridges are unsafe. Our tunnels — I mean, we have tunnels in New York where the tiles are on the ceiling, and you see many tiles missing. And you wonder, you know, you’re driving at 40 miles an hour, 50 miles an hour through a tunnel. Take a look at the Lincoln Tunnel and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and you’re driving, and you see all this loose material that’s heavy. And it was made many years ago, so it’s heavy. Today, it’s light. It used to be better. The problem is, you got to hold it up. And I say to myself — every time I drive through, I say, I wonder how many people are hurt or injured when they are driving at 40, 50 miles an hour through a tunnel, and the tile falls off. And there are so many missing tiles and such loose concrete. So we have to fix our infrastructure. It’s not like we have a choice. We have no choice, and we’re going to do it, and it also happens to mean jobs, which is a good thing.
We’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, and get states the flexibility that they need to make the end result really, really good for them. A very complicated issue. We have Tom Price, just got confirmed — sitting here. (Applause.) Stand up, Tom. And I spent a lot of time with Governor Walker and Governor Rick Scott the other day — we were talking about it. They’re really very expert on the subject, and I want to thank them. They spent a lot of time with me. Governor Christie who’s here someplace. Where’s Chris? Governor Christie, thank you. And so we have a lot of talent and a lot of expertise here, I will tell you. And we have come up with a solution that’s really, really, I think, very good.
Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated. And statutorily and for budget purposes, as you know, we have to do healthcare before we do the tax cut. The tax cut is going to be major, it’s going to be simple, and the whole tax plan is wonderful. But I can’t do it until we do healthcare because we have to know what the healthcare is going to cost. And, statutorily, that’s the way it is. So for those people that say, oh, gee, I wish we could do the tax first — it just doesn’t work that way. I would like to do that first. It’s actually — tax cutting has never been that easy, but it’s a tiny, little ant compared to what we’re talking about with Obamacare.
And you have to remember — and I say this to Democrats in the room — of which we have many — Obamacare has failed. If you go to Minnesota, where they had a 66-percent increase, and the governor of Minnesota, who is with us today, said, Obamacare — the Affordable Care Act — is no longer affordable — something to that effect. I think that might be it exactly. But the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable. Obamacare has failed.
I say to the Republicans, if you really want to do politically something good, don’t do anything. Sit back for a period of two years, because ’17 is going to be a disaster — a disaster — for Obamacare if we don’t do something. Let it be a disaster because we can blame that on the Dems that are in our room, and we can blame that on the Democrats and President Obama. Let it implode, and then let it implode in ’18 even worse. Don’t do anything, and they will come begging for us to do something. But that’s not the fair thing to do for the people. It’s not the fair thing.
Politically, I think it would be a great solution, because as soon as we touch it, if we do the most minute thing — just a tiny, little change — what’s going to happen? They’re going to say, it’s the Republicans’ problem. That’s the way it is. But we have to do what’s right because Obamacare is a failed disaster.
And it’s interesting, it’s sort of like, when you see — you see it with politicians, you see it with President Obama — when you know he’s getting out of office and the clock is ticking, and he’s not going to be there, his approval rating goes way up, even though, you know, not that active in the last period of time. The approval rating goes up. That’s not him; that’s like almost everybody. I see it happening with Obamacare. People hate it, but now they see that the end is coming, and they’re saying, oh, maybe we love it. There’s nothing to love. It’s a disaster, folks, okay? So you have to remember that.
And, very importantly, we are going to work to restore local control to our nation’s education system. Betsy is here someplace, and she is going to be, I think, fantastic. (Applause.) I think she’s going to be fantastic. Stand up, Betsy. Betsy feels so strongly, and she has had such support from so many people. You know, you don’t see that too much because you see the anti, you never see the positive. But I can tell you, I’ve had so many calls while she was going through that horrible process. That was a tough, tough, nasty process. And she hung in, she was as strong as you get. But so many people were calling Betsy, saying you will do such a fantastic job once you get it.
It’s like sometimes I’d say, it’s much tougher to get into Harvard than it is to stay there. Does that make sense? It’s tougher to get into the Wharton School of Finance — you can’t get in. But if you get in, it’s fine, you get through, right? I think you’re going to do a fantastic job, and we’re very proud of you. And you took a lot of heat, but you’re going to do great. So she wants to bring decision-making powers back to parents, back to the families and back to the states, where they can really control education.
And just finally, I’m looking forward to working with you on these projects and so much more. We’re going to do these projects and so many more. And I thank you all again for being here. It’s going to be a really productive discussion — so productive that I’m going to ask the press to start leaving because I wouldn’t want them to see any great, productive session. (Laughter.) But they’ll be seeing it and hearing about it.
Again, thank you very much all for being at the White House. We’ll do this many times. I want the opinions of the governors of the states of the United States. So I want to just thank you all for being here, and let’s take some questions, okay? (Applause.) Thank you.
“The United States has called on #Russia to ‘immediately’ observe a cease-fire deal in eastern Ukraine — saying that a combined force from Russia’s military and pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine had been targeting international monitors. In a February 26 statement, the U.S. State Department called on “Russia and the separatist forces it backs to immediately observe the cease-fire, withdraw all heavy weapons, and allow full and unfettered access” to the region for monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). In a February 26 statement, the U.S. State Department called on “Russia and the separatist forces it backs to immediately observe the cease-fire, withdraw all heavy weapons, and allow full and unfettered access” to the region for monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Washington’s call came a day after the OSCE monitoring mission said armed men in separatist-controlled territory to the north of Donetsk had seized one of the unarmed drones that the monitors use to assess cease-fire violations. …”
“Three years on since the #Russian authorities took control of #Crimea, Russian security forces’ actions on the peninsula increasingly recall methods that first gained infamy in the North Caucasus. Crimean Tatars and pro-Ukrainian activists disappear without a trace, people who protest the policies of the new authorities are arrested, Salafi Muslims are persecuted. Just like in the Caucasus, it’s difficult for journalists, rights defenders and lawyers to operate in Crimea — they are all subject to pressure. Torture has come to Crimea, too. In particular, the Russian security services’ favourite method — electric shock. …”
Thousands of #Russians marched in Moscow on Sunday to mark the death of Boris #Nemtsov, an outspoken opposition leader who was gunned down two years ago. The protesters chanted ‘#Putin is a thief!’ and ‘Give Crimea back!’ and carried portraits of Nemtsov, who was one of the best known critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his policies.
… discussing investigations into Russia’s hacking during last year’s presidential election and disputed contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, ‘the FBI has already said this story is BS.’ … “
“#Finland is urging #Europe to increase #NATO contributions and focus more on security as the continent grapples with political turmoil from all sides, including from within.
Once the U.K. has quit the European Union, the 27 nations left behind need to double down on the bloc’s founding principle and give the remaining 444 million citizens what they most crave: security, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said in an interview at his seaside residence in Helsinki on Friday. The 68-year-old is head of state of the nation that shares the EU’s longest border with #Russia, a country with which Finland has regular contact for security and practical reasons.”
“#Republicans are increasingly divided over the issue of whether members of Donald #Trump’s presidential campaign made illegal contact with #Russia and if a special prosecutor should be appointed over Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate such allegations. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told “Fox News Sunday” that he has confidence in Sessions, a Trump campaign supporter and former AlabamPolia senator, and his judgment.”
“Moscow city authorities have given the green light for construction of an exclusive health clinic which, according to technical plans seen by Reuters and medical sources, is designed to treat President Vladimir Putin and senior officials. …”
“Moscow on Monday backed national security adviser Mike Flynn, saying he never improperly discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador. ‘We have already said there have not been any such talks,” insisted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, when asked whether Flynn and envoy Sergey Kislyak talked about rolling back tough sanctions imposed by President Obama, once President Trump had assumed office, TASS reported.”
“Troubled German lender Deutsche Bank is facing more trouble as Russian authorities believe the bank owes Moscow millions in tax revenues. Russia says the lender didn’t pay for profitable currency swaps. …”
“… What is illegal is leaking highly sensitive classified information about signals intelligence from spying on the Russian ambassador. And what also is illegal is the CIA spying, even incidentally, on Americans. This is not a maybe, or an if, or a sorta. It is ILLEGAL. The aforementioned nine officials should be found, prosecuted, and, if found guilty, imprisoned for leaking classified information. That they did so for political reasons is all the more despicable. …”
In one of the most-watched television broadcasts globally, the so-called #SuperBowl, the #NFL apparently has decided to go out of its way to offend mainstream America, believers in God, people of normal taste, and people who can hear pitch accurately, by featuring as its half-time performer the unsavory, untalented, droning Stefani Germanotta. Germanotta, a fallen-away Catholic who dropped out of a religious high school, performs under the stage name of “#LadyGaga,” a title that, according to a biography website, hearkens pack to a former career as a go-go dancer.
The “performance” itself was largely an exercise in mediocrity. In addition to being unsavory and offensive, the individual in question tends to be boring, uninspired and droning in her sound, which tends to sound like a more boring, off-key version of dance club background music from the late 1980’s or early 1990’s. In fact, one has to wonder how many the individual’s fans might be clinically tone deaf.
As laughable as it might seem now, not that many years ago, the NFL said it wanted to be known as family entertainment. After featuring the likes of Madonna Ciccone, Katy Perry and now the unsavory, offensive, fallen-away Catholic Stefani Germanotta as Super Bowl half-time performers, the NFL has secured itself the branding of being unsuitable for families, unsuitable for people of good taste and, basically, unsuitable for normal people.
Stefani Germanotta has associated herself with nudity, the promotion of immorality and a lack of musical talent. Her droning, forgetable, unspiring music tends to sound somewhat off-key and out of tune. Those facts invite speculation that she resorts to shock value as an attention-getter to compensate for the fact that her music is boring and largely featureless. If Germanotta had tried to emerge on the scene in the 1960’s or 1970’s, or perhaps any time prior to the mid-1990’s, she likely would not have a “music” career at all.
The individual also has shown her contempt for religious faith in a number of ways, including by singing love for Judas, as well as mocking prayer in a morbid manner by announcing at one point that she was praying naked.
#Pepsi shares part of the blame for the offensive fiasco, as the would-be sponsor of the debacle.
#Fox also shares blame, for having its announcers toe the party line by speaking favorably of the individual.
While at least one Fox commentator tried to convince viewers that the would-be “show” at halftime was “amazing,” in reality the show ittself was boring as well as offensive, an embarrasment to the NFL, an embarrasment to football, an embarassment to Fox, and to anybody involved.
There also was the claim that mention of the individual on so-called “social media” was some kind of positive indicator, when, in reality, so-called “mentions” including negative mentions.
Quite frankly, one should question whether favorable commentators should be paid attention or hired for future commentary. And NFL personnel responsible for inflicting this fiasco on America should be fired, for bad judgment and undermining the good of the sport, as well as for disrespecting the vast majority of Americans whose values and sense of taste have been attacked and disrespected by the trouble-making, unsavory individual the NFL tried to celebrate as something other than that.
“The chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, Russian chess master Garry #Kasparov, criticized President Donald #Trump Sunday for implying this weekend that the United States isn’t so pure when it comes to condemning #Russia’s human rights record. ‘Comparing the USA to Putin’s Russia is like comparing a surgeon to Jack the Ripper because they both cut people with knives,’ Kasparov tweeted, referencing Russian President Vladimir Putin and the 19th century London serial killer who slashed his victims.”
“… #Trump pledged to work with both #Russia and #Ukraine to restore peace on the border, in a Saturday interview with Fox News. Trump’s comments come amid intense fighting in eastern Ukraine between the military and Russian-backed separatists. Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014, and is under international sanction by the U.S. and European Union. Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Crimea in August to reportedly ‘mull anti-terror measures.’ The uptick in violence may be Putin’s first test of Trump. Trump told Fox News, ‘we will work with Ukraine, Russia and all other parties involved to help them restore peace along the border.'”
The #Trump administration on Thursday altered #sanctions against companies doing business with #Russia’s domestic intelligence agency. The Treasury Department said it will allow American companies to make limited transactions with the #FSB, the successor to the #KGB, if it needs them to get approval to import or distribute technology products in Russia. The exception will also apply to situations in which companies need to comply with rules administered by the FSB. The implications of the move were not immediately clear, but the U.S. has taken similar steps in the past to help businesses avoid unintended consequences on cross-border transactions.
“… An order that directs federal agencies to ease the ‘regulatory burdens’ of ObamaCare. … ‘… on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.’ * * * An order imposing a hiring freeze for some federal government workers …. This excludes the military, as Trump noted at the signing. * * * a notice that the U.S. will begin withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. * * * … the … ‘Mexico City Policy’ … ban on federal funds to international groups that perform abortions or lobby to legalize or promote abortion. …”
Remarks of President Donald J. Trump – As Prepared for Delivery #Inaugural Address Friday, January 20, 2017 Washington, D.C.
As Prepared for Delivery –
Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: thank you.
We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.
Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.
We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.
Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.
Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.
For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.
Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth.
Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed.
The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.
Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s Capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
That all changes – starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.
It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America.
This is your day. This is your celebration.
And this, the United States of America, is your country.
What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.
January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.
The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.
Everyone is listening to you now.
You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.
At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.
Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves.
These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public.
But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.
This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
We are one nation – and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.
The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.
For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry;
Subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military;
We’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own;
And spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.
We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.
One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.
The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.
But that is the past. And now we are looking only to the future.
We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power.
From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.
From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.
Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.
We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.
I will fight for you with every breath in my body – and I will never, ever let you down.
America will start winning again, winning like never before.
We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.
We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.
We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.
We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American.
We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.
We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.
We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against Radical Islamic Terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.
At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.
When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.
The Bible tells us, “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.
When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.
There should be no fear – we are protected, and we will always be protected.
We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.
Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger.
In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.
We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action – constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.
The time for empty talk is over.
Now arrives the hour of action.
Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America.
We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.
We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.
A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.
It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.
And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.
So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words:
You will never be ignored again.
Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams, will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.
Together, We Will Make America Strong Again.
We Will Make America Wealthy Again.
We Will Make America Proud Again.
We Will Make America Safe Again.
And, Yes, Together, We Will Make America Great Again. Thank you, God Bless You, And God Bless America.
“The Donald #Trump transition team has acknowledged that its incoming national security adviser has been in contact with #Russia’s ambassador but denies reports they were plotting over recently imposed #sanctions on Moscow. … a call on Dec. 29, the day President #Obama hit Russia for election-related #hacking … was about ‘logistics’ for a call between … #Putin and #Trump, who on Friday is sworn-in as president. …”
“President-elect Donald #Trump on Friday said he wouldn’t commit to backing the “One China” policy, a stance Beijing sees as non-negotiable. … Trump last month spoke by phone with #Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, breaking longstanding U.S. protocol and leading China to lodge a formal complaint.”
“Thousands of demonstrators are expected to turn out in Washington next week for protests aiming to ‘shut down’ the #inauguration of Donald #Trump as the next U.S. president, organizers said …. Protesters will attempt to close down 12 security checkpoints at the U.S. Capitol, where Trump will take the oath of office on Jan. 20, and along the 2.5-mile (4-km) parade route down Pennsylvania Avenue, according to leaders of a group called DisruptJ20. …”
“During the 2016 presidential election campaign, U.S. trade policy and trade agreements received significant attention, particularly regarding the impact of trade agreements on the U.S. economy and workers. Among the more potentially prominent international trade and finance issues the 115th Congress may consider are …”
“… #Trump and … #Putin spent some time on the telephone Monday, as the pair discussed hopes that the two nations can thaw icy relations …. The #Kremlin confirmed … both Trump and Putin agreed that U.S.-#Russian relations are presently at an ‘unsatisfactory’ level.
Trump’s campaign said Putin had called to offer his congratulations on winning the election and the two began discussing a range of issues. ….
Syria and global terrorism also reportedly were among the topics of discussion.
Russia is preparing to carry out a new round of strikes targeting Syria from a group of warships … in the eastern Mediterranean … two U.S. defense officials [said] …. The Russian armada is centered around a Soviet-era aircraft carrier and includes three destroyers capable of launching cruise [missiles] …. Russian jets were seen taking off with weapons visible under their wings from Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, part of the flotilla located near Syria …. It marked the first time Russia had conducted armed flight operations from the aircraft carrier since leaving port ….
… In a telegram sent to Trump on Wednesday, Putin expressed hope that the incoming U.S. president would prove a constructive partner in pulling U.S.-Russia relations back from the brink. Trump’s election, the telegram read, should ‘lead to constructive dialogue between Moscow and Washington based on equality and respect.’ … at a ceremony at the Kremlin for foreign ambassadors, Putin spoke of Trump’s promises on the campaign trail to restore relations with Russia.
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s agenda has a racist impact, as do your own actions if you vote for her or otherwise support her.
Prenatal child-killing — sometimes re-characterized by the pseudo-clinical-sounding term “abortion” — impacts African Americans to an alarmingly disproportionate degree, and with a magnitude that is mind-boggling.
It is the largest killer of African Americans, and it hits blacks at a rate several times that of whites. Some have called abortion an Anti-Black Genocide, even as the overall American total of roughly 59 million abortions constitutes a broader Anti-American Genocide.
To put it simply, Black Lives don’t matter in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s agenda, given that she supports the continued decriminalization of abortion. She has praised the biggest U.S. abortion “provider,” including when she was Secretary of State and was not even supposed to be involved with the issue domestically. And she has accepted money from the abortion industry. And she has done all of this in a societal context where abortion has a massive racist impact.
Indeed, the foundress of that biggest abortion provider was quoted as saying that a purpose of her organization was to limit the number of Negro babies. That was even before abortion itself was decriminalized.
One source estimates 16 million black women having had abortions since 1973, which would be a somewhat low number, if it only includes African American mothers, and does not include any white mothers abortion children fathered by African American fathers. The 16 million dead African Americans is nearly half the remaining population of African Americans, which stands at 36 million. The same source indicates:
“Minority women constitute only about 13% of the female population (age 15-44) in the United States, but they underwent approximately 36% of the abortions. … black women are more than 5 times as likely as white women to have an abortion
. On average, 1,876 black babies are aborted every day in the United States.
We also have heard about how the radical left, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, have tried to play racial minorities for fools otherwise, trying to grab their votes while leaving them living in substandard conditions with no real help to get out to a better life.
The left-wing candidate shows little regard, if any, for the number of black men going to prison, or the human rights atrocities occurring inside prisons, or the high crime rates in minority-dominated areas. She shows little regard for the number of fatherless households or the high rate of unwed pregnancies and the impact on poverty.
Yet the abortion issue is even more stark, because, like the urban crime rate, it is a matter of life and death.
Despite serving as a figurehead Senator from New York, she does even not seem to care about the fact that, in one or more recent years, more black babies were killed in the womb in New York City than were born alive.
Considering the racist impact, for Black babies, it is like a lynching in the womb.
Add to that the fact that some portion of abortions are done by dismemberment. And add to that the fact that, for some portion, past a certain month of gestation, the babies can feel the pain.
It is as if the Democrats went from being pro-slavery, to pro-segregation, to pro-abortion without missing a beat, with these lynchings in the womb, death by torture to innocent children.
Indeed, the Democrats did not necessarily really start trying to hold themselves as a party for blacks until the 1960’s, perhaps after Democrat-supported segregation already had been pushing African Americans to migrate to urban areas, where they then suffered urban ills. And it was within less than a decade of that point, less than a decade from the 1960’s, that abortion was decriminalized, by leftist judges blocking prosecutions under laws that were already on the books.
The abortions, lynchings inside the womb, ended up impacting blacks on a much bigger scale than the lynchings that had occurred from tree branches.
Yes, Hillary Rodham Clinton is a racist, by her actions.
And considering the nature and mind-boggling magnitude of abortion, and its racist impact … if you vote for her … or argue in favor of her online or at the grocery store … or put up signage or bumper stickers supporting her … or donate money to her … you are a racist, too.
By your actions, and their ultimate impact, you are a racist, too.
Just as voters who are drunk or high on drugs should not vote, voters in a state of sin also should not vote.
The last thing the country needs is to have persons with clouded judgment or clouded motives exercising political power, including exercising the power to vote. Yet that is exactly what we would get, with voters casting ballots while in a state of sin.
Voting in a state of sin would distort judgment and perceptions, make it harder to act for good and make it easier to act for ill.
Sin clouds judgment and reorients priorities in the wrong direction. Habits of sin also make it easier for forces of temptation, including personified evil, to work their way into perceptions, thinking and decisionmaking.
Making matters worse, we have an election where sin has been infused into certain political ideologies. It is as if some candidates for President, for example, would like to be Enabler-in-Chief instead of Commander-in-Chief.
An Enabler-in-Chief would be someone who provides the serious sinner with the false pseudo-comfort of an “easy” way out, being told by the candidate that their evil doings, such as moral depravity, prenatal childkilling, euthanasia or so-called “assisted suicide”, are just fine, that there is no need to deal with the anxiety of confronting their guilty conscience, confessing the truth, repenting, converting and seeking a new life.
Now, some might try to argue that everybody is a sinner, and perhaps try to manipulate the question brush the whole matter aside.
To some extent that is true, although it is possible, for example, for a Catholic voter to go to Confession, receive Absolution, declare and seek a complete rejection of sin, then vote.
Nevertheless, let us revise the imperative to refer to serious sin, or rather grave sin or mortal sin. Those who have killed others, without doing so in legitimate self-defense or the defense of others, should not vote. That includes those who have involved themselves with prenatal child-killing, so-called “abortion.” Exceptions might be made for those who have sincerely repented and converted, which, for Catholics, would mean taking the necessary steps, currently in place, to have their automatic Excommunication lifted.
An added problem such a voter gets into, however, is that, when a candidate is pro-abortion, or otherwise promotes serious sin, it becomes sinful to even engage in the act of voting, in favor of the Candidate Promoting Sin. And doing so also would call into question the sincerity of the sinful voter’s claim to have repented.
For example, consider a voter who is a chronic masturbator, who sometimes has seized opportunities to fornicate, who got themselves involved with a pregnancy as the male or the female, and then got connected with an abortion murdering their child in the womb, either as the mother or as the father. Perhaps the childkiller/ fornicator/ masturbator takes advantage of the current Pope’s Year of Mercy option to clear their status and escape damnation just by going to Confession. And perhaps, with God’s Grace, they even abstain from masturbating and further fornicating. If they then squander their new-found Graces, and cast aside their new life of freedom from evil by voting for a pro-abortion candidate, their repentance would be in doubt, and they would be sinning anew.
Those who have engaged in sexual gratification or activity of any kind, outside of Sacramental Marriage, are in a state of grave sin and should not vote.That includes adultery, fornication, sodomy, solo masturbation, mutual masturbation, the viewing of pornography and perhaps even looking at some other person in a lustful manner.
Christ said clearly that looking at another person with lust is like committing adultery in the heart.
Another problem today is that there are those who are so entrenched in sin that they have built up all sorts of structures sustaining it, such as cohabitating in a sinful “relationship” with shared housing, or using their business life to promote sin, such as belonging to a law firm that boasts about employing persons living in sin.
Those engaging in theft, or dishonesty, or other grave sins also should abstain from voting, although some might argue about how serious or large the theft or dishonesty has to be.
What is particularly bizarre in the current election is the presence of candidates promoting abortion. The only “religions” pushing for the killing of children, in the womb or already born, are ancient demon-worshiping pagan rites and subsets of Satanists. So one confronts a situation of an ideology of child-killing embraced only by demon-worshiping pagans, certain Satanists, and a handful of political parties and their minions. That the political parties doing so try to recast the matter with manipulative false arguments, perhaps seeking to portray the evil as something opposite, is not only not surprising. False arguments and manipulation, and evil trying to pose as “good” is a common modus operandi of evil. In the Gospel we even see that the devil itself tried to misquote Holy Scripture when seeking to tempt Christ in the desert.
We need voters thinking clearly, acting for good; we do not need the country’s future disrupted and diverted by voters in an altered state of bad judgment and corrupt spirituality, perhaps additionally with devils pushing them to think themselves clever if they vote for the devils’ candidate.
Yet, in this narcissistic childish culture, perhaps it would be easier to put it another way.
Voters in a state of sin are not really themselves. It would be analogous to them being drunk or high on drugs, or in some other altered state.
While in a state of sin, they are in conflict with the true them, as well as in conflict with their true hearts. The Law of God, God’s Law of Love that stands in conflict with sin, is engraved on the flesh tablets of the human heart. If we sin, we not only stand in conflict with God; we stand in conflict with our own true hearts.
At the very least, voters in a state of sin have clouded judgment, distracted distorted perceptions, and motivations that are different from the motivations that they would have as their true selves, in union with God, as the good person, the real person God Created them to be.
Voters in a state of sin, particularly a state of grave sin, should not vote.
“In the past three election cycles, PlannedParenthood’s advocacy and political arms, employees, and their families have spent over $38 million to elect or defeat candidates for federal office who decide how much taxpayers subsidize the nation’s largest abortion provider.”
“… Sources tell Fox News’s Bret Baier that the #FBI has uncovered an ‘avalanche of evidence’ in the #Clinton Foundation investigation. … ‘actively and aggressively pursuing this case,’ calling it a ‘very high priority.’ … with newly discovered email evidence and additional documents revealed by WikiLeaks, these sources say that agents will likely try to get #Huma Abedin and others to cooperate in an effort to bring criminal charges against Hillary Clinton. … if Clinton is elected president … but thereafter indicted …. She could resign before or after inauguration …. #Obama could pardon her before he departs …. Clinton, as president, could try to invoke broad constitutional immunity from prosecution, delaying her criminal trial until after she leaves office. Or she could pardon herself. … all of that may not matter much if a Republican House of Representatives moves to impeach her. Neither immunity nor pardons apply to the ultimate constitutional remedy of impeachment. … Americans will again be forced to suffer through another impeachment horror show. But Hillary may not be able to beat the rap the way her husband did back in 1999 when he was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice. ….”
As … Hillary #Clinton and #Hollywood continue to deceitfully prop up #PlannedParenthood … under the guise of women’s ‘health,’ the #abortion mill is … pursuing a legal battle … to kill unborn babies with Down Syndrome. … team[ing] up with the American Civil Liberties Union to try to have an Indiana law signed by Governor Mike Pence, which prohibits abortion for reasons of #race, #sex or genetic defect such as #DownSyndrome, thrown out. … [to be] heard by pro-abortion Obama-appointee Judge Tanya Walton Pratt. In July, Pratt granted the abortion mill’s request and blocked the law from being enforced. … House Bill 1337 also requires aborted or miscarried babies’ bodies to be disposed via humane practices of cremation or burial. …
“… At almost 24 weeks, Cass and his team made an incision in Boemer’s abdomen and pulled almost half of Lynlee’s body out of her mother’s uterus to remove the tumor – which was almost larger than the baby herself. Then came the challenge of putting Lynlee back in and closing the uterus. ….”
Even before Donald Trump’s strong showing besting Hillary Rodham Clinton in their final presidential debate, Investor’s Business Daily already was reporting Trump pulling ahead of Rodham Clinton in the polls, in what has been turning into a four-way race between Republican, Democrat, Libertarian and Green Party.
After more than a week of blistering attacks from Democrats, celebrities and the press, Donald Trump has managed to pull ahead of Hillary Clinton by a 1.3 percentage point margin — 41.3% to 40% — in a four-way matchup, according to the new IBD/TIPP poll released today.
Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson got 7.6% and Green Party candidate Jill Stein got 5.5%. The results are the first in the IBD/TIPP presidential tracking poll. Daily updates start Thursday and will continue until the election.
Not only is Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton pro-abortion, she is among the most extreme pro-abortion politicians imaginable, voting in favor of partial-birth abortion.
A super-majority of Americans oppose partial-birth abortion, including at least some Democratic legislators who otherwise claim to support access to abortion generally. Yet Rodham Clinton voted against banning partial-birth abortion.
Some commentators also accuse Rodham Clinton of otherwise essentially favoring liberalized abortion up to the point of delivery.
Rodham Clinton has financial ties to the nation’s largest abortion provide, and has praised that organization’s founder, even though the founder was known for racist views and connecting population control with racist motivations and eugenics.
The sheer magnitude of abortion in the United States is almost mind-boggling, with abortion killing more Americans in the womb than the totals killed in all U.S. wars. Given that the right to live and not be killed is the most fundamental, foundational of basic human rights, abortion emerges as the most shocking and extensive human rights issue of our time. Hillary Rodham Clinton is so deeply involved, and so deeply entangled, with abortion, she emerges as one of the most infamous human rights violators of our time.
In terms of sheer numbers, abortion is the biggest threat to American lives, and therefore is a bigger national security threat than terrorism or any conventional war. Only a full-scale global nuclear war could surpass abortion as a national security to the United States.
Rodham Clinton’s culpability for abortion, as a practical matter, therefore makes her both one of the world’s most infamous human rights violators, and one of the biggest national security threats posed to the United States.
These realities call into question the patriotism, motives, good faith and basic decency of Rodham Clinton’s supporters and funders. They also raise serious questions about the ethics and integrity of persons claiming to be Christian or Jewish who vote for her or otherwise lend their support.
Also questionable is whether Rodham Clinton should be involved at all with public service, or nonprofit activities, in any capacity at an level.
“… since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized #abortion 43 years ago in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton , more than 58 million unborn children have lost their lives. Each one of those abortions is a tragedy, not just because an innocent child died, but because of the lasting impact the abortion itself had on the mothers of those children. …”
“… Planned Parenthood was founded to curtail the “mongrel” population. Margaret Sanger wanted to discourage poor people of color from breeding, and to this day, whether they admit it or not, the foundation she created carries out her purpose. Abortion kills a disproportionate number of black babies. …”
Stanford University openly declares that they are an abortion provider. Notre Dame, an ostensibly Catholic institution, should not be scheduling Stanford in football or anything else.
The Catholic view on abortion, the deliberate taking of human life, is so severe that Catholic Canon Law provides for automatic excommunication in connection with the procurement of abortion.
Stanford is open and notorious in announcing their involvement with the taking of human life, declaring at http://obgyn.stanford.edu/divisions/family_planning.html that part of their would-be “medical” services include abortion up to 24 weeks and so-called “medication” abortion, as well as various contraceptive practices that God and the Catholic Faith deem gravely sinful:
The Division of Family Planning Services and Research at Stanford University offers comprehensive, compassionate reproductive [sic] care for women …. The Family Planning clinic provides family planning services for women who seek birth control options, management of unintended and abnormal pregnancies, contraception for women with complex medical issues, difficult IUD/Implant insertion and removal, and comprehensive abortion care. The Family Planning division is also committed to research, resident physician and fellow training, and education in the field of family planning.
The Stanford Family Planning Clinic provides:
Contraception – all types: pills, patches, rings, injectables, IUDs (Mirena, Paraguard, Skyla), implants (Nexplanon) Contraception for high risk women – contraception for patients with complex, challenging or chronic medical conditions Emergency Contraception – “Plan B”, Ella
Pregnancy Testing and Options Counseling Medication Abortion Termination of pregnancy up to 24 weeks Permanent Female Methods – Essure, Tubal Occlusion
Medical and surgical management of miscarriage
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) management
Here is a partial screenshot of that page, accessed Oct. 15, 2016, the same day that Notre Dame is hosting Stanford in football at Notre Dame Stadium.
In a Sept. 1, 2016, article, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies addresses the flow of funds from the United States to Iran in connection with the Iranian nuclear deal, and how those funds end up financing Iranian military activities.
… There is no longer any doubt that the money the United States has paid to Iran will go to the Islamic Republic’s armed forces. It remains unclear how the military will spend it – potentially to prop up the Syrian regime, Hezbollah, Shiite militias in Iraq, or Houthi rebels in Yemen, or to buy heavy weaponry from Russia in contravention of the UN arms embargo.
What is clear are the benefits the regime draws from receiving these funds in cash. It would be far easier for Tehran to procure advanced weaponry from Russia and China, for example, if it can pay for it with hard currency rather than through the formal financial system, having to circumvent the UN arms embargo and U.S. financial sanctions. With bags of untraceable hard currency, Iran can more easily support its allies or illicitly procure missile and nuclear parts. Ultimately, the $400 million in cash that the U.S. has delivered to Iran – and the wider $1.7-billion settlement – will help finance Tehran’s overriding objectives: spreading its revolution and further destabilizing the Middle East.
The United States believes two Russian aircraft attacked an aid convoy near Aleppo in a strike that shattered a one-week truce …. Despite the military blame game over Monday’s deadly attack, diplomats struggled to save the U.S.-Russian ceasefire agreement …. The incident, in which 18 trucks from a 31-vehicle convoy were destroyed, looked likely to deal a death blow to diplomatic efforts to halt [the] civil war …. Two Russian Sukhoi SU-24 warplanes were in the skies above the aid convoy at the exact time it was struck …. The Syrian Red Crescent said the head of one of its local offices and ‘around 20 civilians’ had been killed … other death tolls differed. The attack prompted the United Nations to suspend all aid shipments into Syria. …
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is calling on Congress to crack down on accepting refugees after a series of weekend explosions … ‘Congress should act to prevent Americans who have travelled abroad for training from returning here, and to stop the flow of refugees from hotbeds of terrorism in the Middle East that President #Obama is determined to bring to our country,’ Cruz, who has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s terrorism policy, said in a statement on Monday. * * * [Cruz] has pushed legislation for years that would revoke citizenship for anyone fighting with, or providing material support to, ISIS and terrorist groups abroad. He also renewed his push to block … Obama’s plan to increase the number of Syrian refugees accepted into the United States …. Cruz also called for supporting law enforcement and working with the American Muslim community.