Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Czer, Jun 30, 2017.
Intel: How McConnell is forcing Democrats to side with Trump on Syria
January 31, 2019
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., managed to rebuke both President Donald Trump and Democrats with one vote today. The Senate voted 68-23 to advance nonbinding legislation warning against a “precipitous withdrawal” from Syria and Afghanistan. Trump announced in December that the United States would pull out of Syria, causing considerable confusion throughout the Pentagon and among US allies.
Why it matters: McConnell effectively forced Democrats to choose between implicitly siding with Trump and angering elements of their anti-war base.
“American national security interests require continued commitment to our missions there,” McConnell said on the floor today. “But I guess some Senate Democrats didn’t want to vote on these important subjects. Perhaps it could have put some of my colleagues with aims beyond the Senate at odds with parts of the far left.”
Indeed, virtually every senator rumored to be considering a run for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination voted against the legislation, including Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also voted no, as did a handful of Republicans, including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and John Kennedy of Louisiana.
“The American people do not want endless war,” said Sanders, echoing arguments made by Warren earlier in January. “It is the job of Congress to responsibly end these military interventions and bring our troops home, not to come up with more reasons to continue them.”
Trump has similarly referred to US military activity in the region as “never ending war” on multiple occasions
Still, Sanders argued that the manner of Trump’s pullout was “reckless” and the Vermont senator called for a “troop withdrawal plan that is coordinated with our allies, that continues to provide humanitarian aid and that supports political settlements in these countries.”
Israel boycotts: McConnell is using the same bill to highlight divisions among Democrats on Israel. Today’s vote was on whether to add an amendment to a broader Middle East legislative package that includes a bill clamping down on the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Although the bill has significant bipartisan support, most of the potential 2020 candidates — with the exception of Klobuchar — oppose the anti-BDS provision on free speech grounds.
What’s next? Today’s vote was only procedural and the Senate must hold yet another vote to attach the amendment to the broader bill — the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act. Then it must hold on a final vote on the entire bill. In the meantime, Republicans will eagerly use the Senate’s slow procedural processes to point out Democratic divisions on Syria and Israel.
Know more: Congressional Correspondent Bryant Harris first addressed Democratic support for a Syria withdrawal after Warren endorsed the troop drawdown earlier this month. And keep up to date on all the latest BDS controversy with Al-Monitor’s running coverage.
US intelligence agents were reportedly warned not to tell Trump findings that contradict his public comments
Some intelligence officers have been warned not to give President Donald Trump assessments that contradict his public comments, according to a new report from TIME.
Multiple intelligence officers told TIME that Trump often has trouble paying attention to, or wholly disregards assessments from agents. The officers said they frequently try to hold Trump's attention by using visual aids and repeating his name and title often, and they said Trump grows angry when he's told information that contradicts his views.
Trump's disregard for US intelligence gathered across several key agencies is also reflected in his public contradictions and angry hits out at agents who deliver security assessments that do not agree with his past rhetoric.
Most recently, Trump lashed out at the media after a key intelligence assessment that undermined most of his administration's rhetoric about global threats to the US.
At a recent security summit, top US intelligence officials outlined what possible threats for the US and its allies, describing the dangers posed by the Islamic State, North Korea, and Iran as well as the resurgent great-power threats out of China and Russia.
Last week, an upcoming report from the Pentagon reportedly said ISIS fighters in Syria could regain control of a sizeable region in six to 12 months squarely contradicted Trump's expressed reasons behind his decision for a rapid troop withdrawal from Syria.
Trump lashed out at the US intelligence community on Twitter, questioning their abilities and attempting to discredit the annual threat assessment.
"The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!" Trump tweeted, adding: "Be careful of Iran. Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!"
Amazon's Jeff Bezos Accuses National Enquirer Publisher of Blackmail
February 7, 2019
Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos accused the National Enquirer and its publisher David Pecker of extortion and blackmail, stepping up a war of words between the world’s richest man and a confidant of U.S. President Donald Trump.
The magazine, owned by American Media Inc., published an expose on Bezos’s relationship with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, and Bezos has hired investigators to find out if the story was politically motivated. He owns the Washington Post, which has written critical stories about Trump, who counts Pecker as a close ally.
In a surprising move on Thursday, Bezos said the National Enquirer threatened to publish more details and revealing photos if the executive didn’t stop the probe. His statement online included vivid descriptions of the images.
"Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten," Bezos wrote in a post on Medium. "Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there’s a much more important matter involved here. If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?"
Bezos also suggested that the Washington Post’s coverage of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi may have motivated the National Enquirer’s investigation. "For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve," the billionaire wrote.
A spokesman for AMI didn’t respond to a request for comment. The magazine investigated Bezos because his wealth and position made him a newsworthy subject, and its reporting isn’t influenced by politics, according to copies of emails allegedly from AMI lawyer Jon Fine that Bezos included in his post on Thursday.
In one of those emails, Fine proposed Bezos release a mutually agreed upon statement to a news outlet saying that he had no basis for suggesting AMI’s coverage was politically motivated. In exchange, the media group would refrain from publishing other texts and photos featuring Bezos, according to the email released by the Amazon CEO.
"This looks like textbook extortion," said Zachary Elsea, a litigator with Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP in Santa Monica, California. The law defines extortion as, among other things, obtaining something of value through fear, and AMI’s very explicit threat to publish the embarrassing pictures unless Bezos complies, fits that description, according to Elsea.
Fine, a former executive at Amazon, didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. The White House also didn’t respond to a request for comment.
This is the latest clash between Bezos and the president. Trump has repeatedly vilified Amazon’s CEO, threatening his company with tax increases, antitrust prosecution and higher shipping fees, while attacking the Washington Post as a “scam.” In 2015, Bezos offered to blast Trump into space, but has mostly avoided mentioning Trump publicly -- until Thursday.
Bezos last month posted a statement on Twitter, signed by him and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, announcing their plans to divorce. Hours later, the first Enquirer story on his relationship with Sanchez posted online. The next day, Trump wished Bezos good luck on Twitter and predicted the proceedings would be "a beauty."
On Thursday, Bezos noted that Pecker is cooperating with federal prosecutors who are investigating "catch-and-kill" payments the Enquirer made ahead of the 2016 presidential election to at least one woman who alleged she had an affair with Trump. The Enquirer secured the rights to the material, assuring the allegations wouldn’t be shared with other media, then never published the story.
Bezos is Amazon’s largest shareholder, with a stake of about 16 percent. An Amazon spokesman has said the CEO and founder remains "focused and engaged in all aspects of Amazon." Bezos and company spokespeople haven’t addressed whether he will accelerate his periodic sales of Amazon shares. An Amazon spokesman declined to comment on Thursday.
The correspondence between Bezos and AMI included legal jousting over the newsworthiness of graphic photos Bezos sent to Sanchez. Bezos argued the images are his and sharing them would violate copyright laws. A representative for AMI responded in one of the emails: "With millions of Americans having a vested interest in the success of Amazon, of which your client remains founder, chairman, CEO, and president, an exploration of Mr. Bezos’ judgment as reflected by his texts and photos is indeed newsworthy and in the public interest."
That argument was questioned by Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, who has followed Amazon for years.
"I don’t care about Jeff Bezos’s personal life and I don’t care if Trumplandia is out to make him look bad," Pachter said. "None of that influences whether people want to shop on Amazon."
American Media is backed by Anthony Melchiorre and his hedge fund, Chatham Asset Management. Years before Trump ascended to the White House, Melchiorre threw a financial lifeline to Pecker’s company and ended up with about an 80 percent stake.
Billionaire hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman also has put money into the publisher. He said last year that Chatham executives introduced him to the investment.
House panel pledges to work with acting AG on hearing-related concerns
FEBRUARY 7, 2019
Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker leaves with CIA Director Gina Haspel after U.S. President Donald Trump delivered his second State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol on Capitol Hill in Washington,
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee said on Thursday the panel was ready to work with acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to address concerns he might have about answering certain questions at a planned Friday hearing, but he stopped short of withdrawing the threat of an eventual subpoena.
“If you appear before the committee tomorrow morning and if you are prepared to respond to questions from our members, then I assure you that there will be no need for the committee to issue a subpoena on or before February 8,” Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler wrote in a letter to Whitaker.
“To the extent that you believe you are unable to fully respond to any specific question, we are prepared to handle your concerns on a case-by-case basis, both during and after tomorrow’s hearing,” Nadler said.
In Foundations of Geopolitics, Dugin calls for the United States and Atlanticism to lose their influence in Eurasia and for Russia to rebuild its influence through annexations and alliances.
The book declares that "the battle for the world rule of Russians" has not ended and Russia remains "the staging area of a new anti-bourgeois, anti-American revolution". The Eurasian Empire will be constructed "on the fundamental principle of the common enemy: the rejection of Atlanticism, strategic control of the USA, and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us."
Military operations play relatively little role. The textbook believes in a sophisticated program of subversion, destabilization, and disinformation spearheaded by the Russian special services. The operations should be assisted by a tough, hard-headed utilization of Russia's gas, oil, and natural resources to bully and pressure other countries.
The book states that "the maximum task [of the future] is the 'Finlandization' of all of Europe".
Germany should be offered the de facto political dominance over most Protestant and Catholic states located within Central and Eastern Europe. Kaliningrad oblast could be given back to Germany. The book uses the term "Moscow–Berlin axis".
France should be encouraged to form a "Franco–German bloc" with Germany. Both countries have a "firm anti-Atlanticist tradition".
The United Kingdom should be cut off from Europe.
Finland should be absorbed into Russia. Southern Finland will be combined with the Republic of Karelia and northern Finland will be "donated to Murmansk Oblast".
Estonia should be given to Germany's sphere of influence.
Latvia and Lithuania should be given a "special status" in the Eurasian-Russian sphere.
Poland should be granted a "special status" in the Eurasian sphere.
Romania, Macedonia, "Serbian Bosnia" and Greece – "Orthodox collectivist East" – will unite with "Moscow the Third Rome" and reject the "rational-individualistic West".
Ukraine should be annexed by Russia because "Ukraine as a state has no geopolitical meaning, no particular cultural import or universal significance, no geographic uniqueness, no ethnic exclusiveness, its certain territorial ambitions represents an enormous danger for all of Eurasia and, without resolving the Ukrainian problem, it is in general senseless to speak about continental politics". Ukraine should not be allowed to remain independent, unless it is cordon sanitaire, which would be inadmissible.
In the Middle East and Central Asia:
The book stresses the "continental Russian–Islamic alliance" which lies "at the foundation of anti-Atlanticist strategy". The alliance is based on the "traditional character of Russian and Islamic civilization".
Iran is a key ally. The book uses the term "Moscow–Tehran axis".
Armenia has a special role: It will serve as a "strategic base," and it is necessary to create "the [subsidiary] axis Moscow-Erevan-Teheran". Armenians "are an Aryan people ... [like] the Iranians and the Kurds".
Azerbaijan could be "split up" or given to Iran.
Georgia should be dismembered. Abkhazia and "United Ossetia" (which includes Georgia's South Ossetia) will be incorporated into Russia. Georgia's independent policies are unacceptable.
Russia needs to create "geopolitical shocks" within Turkey. These can be achieved by employing Kurds, Armenians and other minorities.
The book regards the Caucasus as a Russian territory, including "the eastern and northern shores of the Caspian (the territories of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan)" and Central Asia (mentioning Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan).
China, which represents a danger to Russia, "must, to the maximum degree possible, be dismantled". Dugin suggests that Russia start by taking Tibet–Xinjiang–Mongolia–Manchuria as a security belt. Russia should offer China help "in a southern direction – Indochina (except Vietnam), the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia" as geopolitical compensation.
Russia should manipulate Japanese politics by offering the Kuril Islands to Japan and provoking anti-Americanism.
Mongolia should be absorbed into Eurasia-Russia.
The book emphasizes that Russia must spread Anti-Americanism everywhere: "the main 'scapegoat' will be precisely the U.S."
In the United States:
Russia should use its special services within the borders of the United States to fuel instability and separatism, for instance, provoke "Afro-American racists". Russia should "introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics".
The Eurasian Project could be expanded to South and Central America.
Separate names with a comma.