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[VIDEO]  Krauthammer: Chinese & Korean Nuclear Missiles Affect Trump’s Moves in Asia

“The worrisome thing here is the outside partner. This is not just a three sided game, North Korea, South Korea, and the U.S. — it’s the Chinese reaction. The Chinese are watching the United States after eight years of withdrawal, accommodation, and essentially no response to Chinese expansion — they’re seeing the United States now asserting itself. The U.S.S. Carl Vinson an aircraft carrier is now in the South China Sea. Trump has just sent B-52’s into South Korea as a way to threaten the North Koreans, and everyone knows what they carry, they carry nuclear weapons. But the worst thing from the Chinese point of view is the THAAD: This is the antimissile system. The Chinese react to that the way the Russians did to the anti-missile system we wanted to put in Eastern Europe. They get very upset because it can be applied against them. Yes, our reason for doing it is to defend the South Koreans against the North. But the overall effect is to put up a missile shield that could degrade and weaken the Chinese arsenal. They know that. They are very worried about that. And they’re getting semi-hysterical. Global Times which is a government-friendly publication just this week said that the government of China will no longer rule out a first nuclear strike. That’s a big deal. That’s not an official statement, but it tells you how much the Chinese are upset, which is why we are now rushing to install the THAAD by the end of April before the election so at least it’s a fait accompli — but this is a tinderbox.”

Source: National Review

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Qué Lástima! Countdown Begins a Year Out from Raúl Castro’s Retirement 

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Mimi Whitfield and Nora Gámez Torres report: A year from now — on Feb. 24 — something is expected to occur in Cuba that hasn’t happened in more than 40 years: a non-Castro will occupy the presidency.

The coming year will be one of definitions in Cuba. But right now there is only uncertainty — not only about how the transition will proceed but also about the future of Cuba’s relationship with the United States with President Donald Trump at the helm.

In 2013, Raúl Castro told Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power, the parliament, that he planned to retire from the presidency of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers on Feb. 24, 2018. His heir apparent became Miguel Díaz-Canel, a party stalwart who at the time was promoted to first vice president of both councils.

File photo of then Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro attending manoeuvres during the 19th anniversary of his and his fellow revolutionaries arrival on the yacht Granma, in Havana

When Castro retires as president, the Cuban Constitution also calls for him to relinquish his post of commander in chief of Cuba’s armed forces. A Cuba without a khaki-clad Castro commanding the Revolutionary Armed Forces is something many younger Cubans have never experienced.

Díaz-Canel’s ascension next Feb. 24 — a date that has long had resonance in Cuba history — is not assured, but most observers believe that a new National Assembly that will be seated then will rubber stamp him as Cuba’s next president and he will replace the 85-year-old Castro.

Even with a successor, Castro is still expected to retain consider clout. He has said nothing about stepping down as chief of Cuba’s powerful Communist Party and Cuba’s military leaders are solid Raúlistas. Read the rest of this entry »


Badiucao: One Love, One China

From China Digital Times: In recent cartoons for CDT,  puts a Valentine twist on President Trump’s emerging relationship with President Xi Jinping, which took a step forward in a recent phone call:

Valentines, by Badiucao:

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A second drawing focuses on Trump’s effort to patch up relations with Beijing by acknowledging the “one China” policy, which declares that Taiwan is part of China. Trump had earlier stated that he was “not committed” to the longstanding policy.

One China, by Badiucao

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Since his inauguration in January, President Trump’s policy toward China has been elusive and unpredictable. He ignited a firestorm of controversy soon after taking office by accepting a phone call from President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan and later saying that he may choose not to adhere to the “one China” policy, which has defined the U.S.-China-Taiwan trilateral relationship for decades. These actions seemed to indicate that he would live up to campaign rhetoric to take a tougher line on China than his predecessors. Yet after two weeks of silence between the two leaders, Trump switched tacks by promising to uphold the one China status quo in a phone call with President Xi Jinping. From Simon Denyer and Philip Rucker of the Washington Post:

In a statement issued late Thursday, the White House said the two men had held a lengthy and “extremely cordial” conversation.

“The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our one-China policy,” the White House statement said.

In return, Xi said he “appreciated his U.S. counterpart, , for stressing that the U.S. government adheres to the one-China policy,” which he called the “political basis” of relations between the two nations, state news agency Xinhua reported. [Source]

The call has been taken by many as a sign of acquiescence by Trump to Xi, as he acknowledged that his mention of the “one China” policy was at Xi’s request. From Jane Perlez of The New York Times:

But in doing so, he handed China a victory and sullied his reputation with its leader, Xi Jinping, as a tough negotiator who ought to be feared, analysts said. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Trump Looks to Strengthen U.S. Trade Ties with Japan

Boston Herald Columnist, Adriana Cohen, former Bush senior campaign advisor, Mark Serrano, and Club for Growth president, David McIntosh on President Trump’s trade policies and his desire to put America first.

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Note: the above image is from Japanese social media. Original source unknown. But very typical of popular ‘kawaii’ image editing apps. See more of our Japan coverage here.

 

 


Japan, U.S. Affirm Senkakus Defense Under Article 5 

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WASHINGTON — Yujiro Okabe reports: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday afternoon (early Saturday JST) before they held a press conference together.

Regarding the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, Abe said during the press conference, “We have affirmed that they are within the scope of Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty,” which obliges U.S. forces to defend Japan.

Trump stressed, “We are committed to the security of Japan.”

Abe also revealed that they have agreed to start holding a dialogue headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and Vice President Mike Pence, aiming to expand trade and investment between the two countries. Read the rest of this entry »


Trump Backs “One China” Policy in Call with China’s Xi

By Ben Blanchard and Steve Holland | BEIJING/WASHINGTON Fri Feb 10, 2017

President Donald Trump agreed to honor the longstanding “One China” policy during a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, taking steps to improve ties after angering Beijing by talking to the leader of Taiwan. Trump further unnerved Beijing []

Source: Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements


[VIDEO] Ben Sasse: No Moral Equivalency Between the U.S. and Putin’s Regime 

Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) is having none of President Trump’s false moral equivalence. On ABC’s This Week Sunday, Sasse expressed his distaste at the comparison of the United States and Vladimir Putin’s regime.

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“Let’s be clear: Has the U.S. ever made any mistakes? Of course. Is the U.S. at all like Putin’s regime? Not at all. The U.S. affirms freedom of speech; Putin is no friend of freedom of speech. Putin is an enemy of freedom of religion, the U.S. celebrates freedom of religion. Putin is an enemy of free press; the U.S. celebrates free press. Putin is an enemy of political dissent; the U.S. celebrates political dissent and the right for people to argue free from violence about places where ideas are in conflict. There is no moral equivalency between the United States of America, the greatest freedom-loving nation in the history of the world, and the murderous thugs that are in Putin’s defense of his cronyism. There’s no moral equivalency there.”

David French writes:

…Trump said, “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?” I’d like to focus on the follow-up, when O’Reilly gave him an opportunity to amend his statement:

O’REILLY: I don’t know of any government leaders that are killers.

TRUMP: Well — take a look at what we’ve done, too. We made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been against the war in Iraq from the beginning.

O’REILLY: Yes, mistakes are different than –

TRUMP: We made a lot of mistakes, OK, but a lot of people were killed. So, a lot of killers around, believe me.

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In response, I’m reminded of a quote from our founder, William F. Buckley, Jr.:

[T]o say that the CIA and the KGB engage in similar practices is the equivalent of saying that the man who pushes an old lady into the path of a hurtling bus is not to be distinguished from the man who pushes an old lady out of the path of a hurtling bus: on the grounds that, after all, in both cases someone is pushing old ladies around. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Eric Shawn Reports: More Threats from Iran

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Shinzo Abe, James Mattis Reaffirm U.S. Commitment on Senkakus

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Visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis clearly said during talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday afternoon that the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture are within the scope of Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which obliges the United States to defend Japan, according to a senior government official who attended the meeting.

At the opening of the meeting, Abe said he hopes and is certain the two countries “can demonstrate in our country and abroad that the Japan-U.S. alliance is unshakable.” In response, Mattis said that he intended to make clear during the meeting that Article 5 of the security treaty will be important five years or 10 years from now, just as it was a year ago or five years ago.

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Mattis arrived in Tokyo on the day to hold talks with the prime minister, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada and other members of Abe’s Cabinet to exchange views on the security environment in East Asia and to address mutual security concerns. The new U.S. defense chief’s visit to Japan marks the first by a U.S. Cabinet member under the administration of President Donald Trump. The ministerial meeting with Inada is scheduled for Saturday, after which they will hold a joint press conference.

During these talks, the two sides are also expected to confirm that the United States will firmly uphold the “nuclear umbrella” (see below) over Japan in its defense.

During his presidential election campaign last year, Trump was ambiguous about defending the Senkakus and also suggested that if Japan doesn’t contribute its due share to shouldering the burden of stationing U.S. forces in Japan, it would be acceptable for Japan to possess its own nuclear weapons to confront North Korea’s nuclear threat. These remarks caused apprehension on the Japanese side.

Read the rest of this entry »


Shinzo Abe to Propose Plan for Creating 700,000 U.S. Jobs

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to propose during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump on Feb. 10 a bilateral economic cooperation plan, including the creation of a $450 billion (¥51 trillion) market through railways and other infrastructure investments in the United States to generate 700,000 jobs, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Trump has recently been stepping up criticism against the Japanese car market and the depreciation of the yen. Given the circumstances, Abe plans to emphasize during the upcoming talks that the bilateral cooperation will be of great advantage to the U.S. economy.

A draft for the Japan-U.S. economic cooperation plan sets forth bilateral cooperation in five fields as the “Japan-U.S. growth and employment initiative.” The five fields are: development of the world’s most advanced infrastructure in the United States; drawing on demand for infrastructure around the world; research and development of robots and artificial intelligence; collaboration in new areas such as cyber and space; and cooperation in employment and defense.

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The envisioned infrastructure development in the United States includes high-speed railway projects in the northeastern part of the country, and in Texas and California, to which Japan would provide technical cooperation and extend low-interest loans. Japan would also help replace as many as 3,000 train cars currently in use on railways and subways with new models over the next 10 years.

Japan would further cooperate in highly efficient gas-fired power generation and the latest compact nuclear power generation systems.

In the research and development field, the draft calls for cooperation between Japan, which has the edge in robot technology, and the United States, which leads the world in AI technology.

Japan and the United States will jointly develop robots to be used for inspecting aging infrastructure, decommissioning nuclear power plants, and carrying out medical diagnosis and surgery.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer Analyzes the US-Iran Tensions Under Trump 

WARMER-IRAN

 


Japan Readies Facts for Defense Talks

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The government is rushing to compile details of its financial burden to host U.S. forces in Japan in preparation for a meeting of the defense chiefs of the two countries on Saturday, as well as for a separate meeting of the leaders scheduled for Feb. 10.

The U.S. side has intimated that it has no intention of demanding an increase in Japan’s share of the costs of stationing U.S. forces during the defense chiefs’ talks. However, the unpredictability of the U.S. administration under President Donald Trump is spurring the Japanese government to maintain a vigilant stance.

Defense Minister Tomomi Inada spoke at a press conference on Tuesday about her upcoming meeting with new U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis. Although she declined to reveal whether the costs of hosting U.S. forces are on the agenda, Inada did say, “I intend to convey Japan’s position firmly and I hope the meeting will allow us to exchange opinions candidly.”

Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Davis had said the aim of Mattis’ visit to Japan was to strengthen ties and not to submit a list of demands. This has led some to believe that the state of Japan’s financial burden with regard to U.S. bases will not come up at the ministerial meeting.

Trump, however, did refer to increasing Japan’s burden during the U.S. presidential campaign. “We’re preparing to be ready to explain that Japan already has a heavy load, in case there is a demand,” a source inside the Defense Ministry said.

Costs of stationing U.S. forces in Japan include land prices and other costs relevant to providing facilities and sites. These are paid for by the Japanese side in keeping with the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, while all other costs, in principle, are covered by the United States.

However, since fiscal 1978, the Japanese side has been expanding the range of its expenses based on demands from the United States. Currently, personnel costs for base employees as well as lighting, heating and water costs are also funded by the Japanese side. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Muslim Activist Explains Why She Supports Extreme Vetting 

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[VIDEO] Bill de Blasio Has Trouble Differing Trump’s Immigration Policy With Obama’s 

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How Liberals Killed the Freedom of Movement

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By suppressing debate about Islam, nationalism and terror, the left set the stage for today’s backlash, says Sohrab Ahmari in The Wall Street Journal.

Sohrab Ahmari writes: Donald Trump’s double-layer fence along America’s southern border, and his plan to suspend all immigration from terror-producing countries, are dramatic and consequential pieces of public policy. But they’re also palliative symbols. The message they send to the president’s supporters is: “Your days of anxiety are behind you. We will be a coherent nation once more.”

Politicians across the West are beginning to tell their voters the same thing in what is shaping up to be the widest rollback of the freedom of movement in decades.

It’s not just right-wing nationalists like Marine Le Pen in France or Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. Centrists get it, too. Some, like Angela Merkel, are still-reluctant restrictionists. Others, like Theresa May, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and French presidential aspirant François Fillon, are more forthright. All have wised up to the popular demand for drastically lower immigration rates.

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The paradox here is that freedom of movement is unraveling now because liberals won central debates—about Islamism, social cohesion and nationalism. Rather than give ground on any of these fronts, they accused opponents of being phobic and reactionary. Now liberals are reaping the rewards of those underhanded victories.

Liberals “won” the debate about the link between Islamist ideology and terrorism.

For eight years under President Obama, the U.S. government eschewed even the term “Islamism.” The preferred nomenclature created the ludicrous effect that U.S. service members were sent to war against people passionate about “violent extremism.” But voters could read and hear about jihadists offering up their actions to Allah before opening automatic fire on shoppers and blasphemous cartoonists. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] General Jim Mattis Brings Insight and Clarity to the Nature of War 

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Mattis retired from the Marine Corps as a full general in 2013, where he served as the eleventh commander of the United States Central Command. He also served as the commander for NATO supreme allied transformation, and as commander of the United States Joint Forces Command. Mattis is now an Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow fellow at the Hoover Institution.

 


Japanese Aren’t So Sure About Donald Trump, But They Love Ivanka 

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Japan is warily welcoming Donald Trump as the US president, wondering what his administration will mean for their security alliance and already seeing what it means for their trade relationship.

But there are no such mixed feelings about Trump’s eldest daughter: Ivanka Trump is widely revered as the perfect woman here.

“This is the woman I like now. Ivanka Trump. I love it that she’s not only beautiful but also clever and has a graceful air. I think women should be kind and gentle.”

— Sachiko W. on a portrait that Trump had posted on Instagram

Among some Japanese women, Ivanka Trump is seen as an aspirational figure who has combined motherhood and career while managing to look perfectly put-together all the time (although her glamorous Instagram photos never show the retinues of nannies and assistants and hairdressers that answer the question of “how does she do it all?”).

Japan remains a highly patriarchal society, where men spend long hours at the office and women are often expected to give up their jobs after getting married or having babies.

“She is a good example that a woman can do an outstanding job and handle a misogynist father like Trump, without pushing too much of a feminist agenda or confronting men too much.”

— Shinzato, 32, a freelance writer and mother of a 6-year-old daughter.

But Trump offers an example of how to be strong but not scary, said Yuriko Shinzato, 32, a freelance writer and mother of a 6-year-old daughter.

“She is a good example that a woman can do an outstanding job and handle a misogynist father like Trump, without pushing too much of a feminist agenda or confronting men too much,” Shinzato, who blogs about Ivanka Trump’s fashion and lifestyle, told the Japan Times.

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“That is something that Japanese women want but have a hard time doing in a still male-dominated society.”

As a result, the Trump daughter has quite a following here. The Japanese internet was abuzz after the election at a tabloid report that Trump might be the next American ambassador to Japan, and she won Japanese fans when she posted a video of her daughter, Arabella Rose, performing the song “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” by the Japanese comedian known as Pikotaro.

Japanese women gush about her on social media.

“This is the woman I like now. Ivanka Trump. I love it that she’s not only beautiful but also clever and has a graceful air. I think women should be kind and gentle,” wrote Sachiko W. on a portrait that Trump had posted on Instagram.

“Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka-san, who made it into the administration transfer team. She waved at me when I called out to her at the Trump Tower.”

— Mari Maeda, on Twitter

On Twitter, news announcer Mari Maeda posted a photo of Trump in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York.

“Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka-san, who made it into the administration transfer team. She waved at me when I called out to her at the Trump Tower,” Maeda wrote.

“What a figure she has even after having three children. So frank and cute! Her jewelry brand is popular but some fans say they want her to become the president because of her intelligence and beauty.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Greg Gutfeld: Make the Border Wall a Monument to Friendship 

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OH YES HE DID: Obama’s Last-Minute $221 Million Palestine Payout Frozen by Trump

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Source says State Department has notified Ramallah the funds will not be immediately available, while it examines the transfer.

Avi Issacharoff and AP report: The Trump administration has informed the Palestinian Authority that it is freezing the transfer of $221 million which was quietly authorized by the Obama administration in its final hours on January 20, a senior Palestinian source has told The Times of Israel.

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“Kerry formally notified Congress that State would release the extra $221 million money Friday morning, just hours before President Donald Trump took the oath of office.”

US officials conveyed to PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Tuesday that the funds were not expected to be handed over in the immediate future, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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“I am deeply disappointed that President Obama defied congressional oversight and released $221 million to the Palestinian territories.”

On Tuesday, the State Department said it was reviewing the last-minute decision by former secretary of state John Kerry to send the funds to the Palestinians despite objections to the transfer by congressional Republicans.

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 “I worked to make sure that no American taxpayer dollars would fund the Palestinian Authority unless very strict conditions were met. While none of these funds will go to the Palestinian Authority because of those conditions, they will go to programs in the Palestinian territories that were still under review by Congress. The Obama Administration’s decision to release these funds was inappropriate.”

–Kay Granger, House Appropriations Committee member, in a statement on Tuesday

The department said it would look at the payment and might make adjustments to ensure it comports with the Trump administration’s priorities. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] China Rebukes White House Over South China Sea

In this Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 photo, a crew member of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy monitors on the deck of the China's aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sailing on the East China Sea for sea trials. The Liaoning departed for its first-ever sea trials in the South China Sea, a mission likely to draw scrutiny amid Beijing's drive to assert its claims to those waters and their island groups. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

 


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Obama Palestinian Aid Supports Gaza’s Anti-Semitic Propaganda

“I think that was a final slap at Israel by Obama on the way out the door. It doesn’t compare with abandoning Israel at the United Nations on the vote at the Security Council a week before. But nonetheless, this is, a lot of this is money that goes through agencies of the U N which support really awful stuff being done, particularly in Gaza — the propaganda, the Jew-hatred that is taught — but nonetheless it is unnecessary it is gratuitous. It is not going to be reversed, the money amount is too small relatively speaking.”

bibi-obama Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] THE MISERY-POURING SHALL BEGIN: North Korea Threatens to ‘Pour Further Misery’ on U.S.

Kim Jong-un has conducted a series of purges of officials since coming to power

 


[VIDEO] Stirewalt, Hemingway, Krauthammer Talk Trump’s Media Attacks 

Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer told Fox News’ Bret Baier Saturday night that President Donald Trump’s remarks to the CIA, including a statement where he suggested keeping the oil after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, could be considered a “war crime.”

Appearing on “Special Report,” Krauthammer — along with Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist and Fox News’ Digital Editor Chris Stirewalt — took part in a panel discussion on Trump’s remarks to CIA officials and employees Saturday afternoon as one of his first stops as president following his inauguration Friday.

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Hemingway asserted that Trump was successful in sending the message that he supports the “rank and file in the intelligence agencies.” Krauthammer expressed concern that Trump’s off-handed remark about keeping oil after the 2003 invasion were troubling because the president has enormous power to affect world events with just his words.

From Foreign Policy:

At one point, Trump regurgitated parts of his stump speech about how the United States “should have kept the oil” after invading Iraq. “Maybe we’ll have another chance,” he added. Aside from being physically impossible to sequester billions of barrels of underground oil, that would constitute a breach of international law. U.S. troops are currently embedded with forces of the country that Trump suggested again invading. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Media Warns of ‘Dramatic Changes’ and ‘Fires Being Lit’ as President Takes Office

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‘Beijing should make some worst-case scenario planning, even though the development may not be as bad as we have expected.’

Will Worley reports: China has reacted nervously to Donald Trump’s inauguration, with one state-controlled media outlet warning of “dramatic changes” and “fires” being lit by the new US administration.

International relations experts in China suggested the time had come for Beijing to make preparations for a sharp deterioration in relations with Washington.

Mr Trump frequently hit out at China during his campaigning, branding the Beijing government “currency manipulators” and implicitly threatening a trade war.

His inauguration speech did not directly reference the country, but he spoke about foreign industries being “enriched” at the expense of American jobs.

Trump calls critics ‘enemies’ at inauguration ball as he vows to keep his Twitter account running

Speaking about the inauguration of Mr Trump, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Sino-American ties “have had their ups and downs, but they have continued to move forward”.

She maintained they would “push forward from this new starting point to make greater progress”.

However, other state-sanctioned voices were more damning.

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“Frictions between the US and its allies, and trade tensions between the US and China seem inevitable within the four years ahead,” said an editorial by the Global Times, a pro-government tabloid newspaper with a reputation for populist rhetoric.

Adding that “dramatic changes” were on the way, the newspaper continued: “The Trump administration will be igniting many ‘fires’ on its front door and around the world. Let’s wait and see when it will be China’s turn.”

Chinese experts on their country’s relations with the US appeared equally bleak about the future.

“A trade war between China and the US seems inevitable,” Pang Zhongying, of Renmin University, told the South China Morning Post.

“Beijing should make some worst-case scenario planning, even though the development may not be as bad as we have expected.”

International relations professor Yu Xiang said Mr Trump’s speech was “aggressive” as he urged the Chinese government “not to underestimate the challenges and difficulties we will be facing in Sino-US relations”. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Trump Laid Waste to the Vision of JFK and Ronald Reagan

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Charles Krauthammer argued that Donald Trump’s inaugural address made no distinction between friend and foe, opposed the idea of America sustaining the free world, and ultimately reverses the international vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.


Churchill Bust Returns to Oval Office

bustchurchill-bust-newsWinston-Churchilltrump-pen-phone Read the rest of this entry »


Sacre Bleu! Le Monde

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Obama Administration Ending Policy Allowing Cubans to Stay Without Visas

WASHINGTON— Carol E. Lee and Felicia Schwartz report: The White House plans to announce that President Barack Obama is undoing a longstanding policy that allows Cuban émigrés who reach U.S. soil without visas to stay in the country and apply for a green card after one year, administration officials said.

The special exception for Cuban immigrants — known as the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy — has been in place since the 1990s. It allows Cubans who make it to U.S. soil to stay, while those caught in transit are sent back.

Those who are permitted to remain also may be eligible to receive benefits the U.S. grants to refugees fleeing persecution, including cash assistance and health care coverage.

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The policy, essentially encouraging Cubans to flee their country, has long been part of the economic, immigration, and foreign policy tool kit used by Washington, and has been opposed by Havana, which considers it a drain on its resources. No other immigrants are provided similar allowances.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Mr. Obama’s decision to reverse the policy one week before he leaves office marks one of his final moves to solidify his effort begun in 2014 to restore U.S. relations with Cuba. Putting Cubans on equal footing with immigrants from other countries would be a sign of more normalized relations. But it is also a step the Cuban government has wanted the White House to take.

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The wet-foot, dry-foot policy grew out of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, which gives the U.S. Attorney General discretion to treat Cuban immigrants differently than those from other countries. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the number of Cubans trying to leave the country skyrocketed, resulting in often dangerous flotilla escapes. In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton spearheaded a policy change that provided that anyone caught at sea would be sent back to Cuba. Read the rest of this entry »


What Donald Trump Should Have Tweeted

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It would have A. driven his opponents, haters, and enemies crazy. What did he mean? Is that all? What will Meryl Streep say now?  Better still, it would have neutralized the controversy, tempered the division, honored her contribution to entertainment, confirmed that both of them are winners, while demonstrating non-newsworthy, off-the-rack, standard-issue presidential courtesy.

Win-win.

 


Winston Churchill Bust Set for Oval Office Return by Incoming President Donald Trump

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Donald Trump has made no secret of the fact that he intends to rip up Barack Obama’s legacy when he takes office – ending the Trans-Pacific Partnership, redrawing Obamacare and loading up Guantanamo with “some bad dudes”.

However, one expected action is likely to be less controversial, certainly in Britain: that of restoring the bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval Office.

Mr Trump, who has frequently professed his admiration for Britain’s wartime leader, was asked earlier this week whether he was considering returning the bust, sculpted by Jacob Epstein, to the White House.

“I am, indeed, I am,” he said, during an interview at the New York Times, at which he was sitting in front of a picture of Churchill.

Mr Obama replaced the Churchill bust with one of Martin Luther King in the Oval Office in 2009, soon after he took over the presidency, causing outrage on both sides of the Atlantic.

Boris Johnson controversially wrote earlier this year, while he was Mayor of London, that Mr Obama’s decision to send the bust back to the British embassy in Washington had been a “snub to Britain”.

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Mr Johnson, who is now Foreign Secretary, suggested it might have been linked to Mr Obama’s “ancestral dislike of the British Empire”.

However, Mr Obama later explained that he had a second sculpture of Churchill, who had an American mother and was the only person ever granted an honourary US passport, in his private quarters.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] State Department Grilled on Why Obama Admin Abstained From Anti-Israel UN Resolution Vote 

Fourteen members of the U.N. Security Council raise their hands in affirmation of a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements. The U.S., which had veto power, abstained from the vote, thereby allowing it to pass. Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Zuma Press

 


Intelligence Leaders Confirm Russian Influence Op to Undermine Election

 writes: Russian intelligence agencies sought to influence the 2016 presidential election through coordinated cyber and propaganda activities, three U.S. intelligence leaders told a Senate hearing Thursday.

“This was a multifaceted campaign, so the hacking was only one part of it. It also entailed classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news.”

—  James Clapper, to the Senate Armed Services Committee

Additionally, Senate testimony revealed that the National Security Agency, the government’s key cyber intelligence and technical spying service, confirmed the Russian intelligence service’s covert cyber and propaganda effort to influence the election campaign.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper previewed a forthcoming government report, to be released as early as Monday, on the Russian intelligence operations that included intrusions into Democratic National Committee computers and the email account of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta.

The Russians then orchestrated the release of hacked internal information through three propaganda conduits in a coordinated campaign.

“Our assessment now is even more resolute than it was with that statement on the 7th of October. I don’t think we’ve ever encountered a more aggressive or direct effort to interfere in our election.”

“This was a multifaceted campaign, so the hacking was only one part of it,” Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It also entailed classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news.”

The forthcoming report will describe the full range of Russian intelligence activities during the campaign, Clapper said.

Clapper confirmed the details of the Oct. 7 statement issued jointly by his office and the Department of Homeland Security accusing Russia of interfering with the 2016 election. That statement identified three entities, the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, another site called DCLeaks.com, and a hacker code-named Guccifer 2.0, as the outlets for the hacked information.

General Keith Alexander (L), director of the National Security Agency (NSA) testifies at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington October 29, 2013. Top U.S. intelligence officials appeared at a congressional hearing on Tuesday amid a public uproar that has expanded from anger over the National Security Agency collecting the phone and email records of Americans to spying on European allies. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper watches on at right. REUTERS/Jason Reed

“There’s actually more than one motive, so that’ll be described in the report.”

“Our assessment now is even more resolute than it was with that statement on the 7th of October,” Clapper said. “I don’t think we’ve ever encountered a more aggressive or direct effort to interfere in our election.”

Asked if the earlier assessments about Moscow’s disinformation program had changed, Clapper stated: “No. In fact, if anything, what we’ve since learned just reinforces that statement the 7th of October.”

NSA Director Mike Rogers told the hearing that the report was “done essentially” by the CIA, FBI, and NSA.

The inclusion of NSA in the report is the first time NSA’s role in assessing the Russian cyber attacks was mentioned.

NSA’s capability to monitor foreign cyber intelligence operations is highly advanced. Documents disclosed by renegade NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the agency in the past has broken into foreign intelligence service networks and stolen information those services were gathering from spies—without being detected. Read the rest of this entry »


Helen Raleigh: 2017 May Be The Year China’s Chickens Come Home To Roost 

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While Americans embrace their reinstated confidence in both economics and international affairs, China seems to be going the opposite direction.

Deng probably hoped future Chinese leaders would be humble and restrained, keep a low profile, and instead of broadcasting China’s ambitions or showing off China’s economic or military muscles, quietly focus on overcoming China’s weaknesses, such as economic development. In international affairs, Deng probably would have liked to see China avoid acting like an aggressor. Instead, he would have preferred China conshun either causing any international conflict or serving as a leader of any faction within an international conflict.

[Check out Helen Raleigh’s book “Confucius Never Said” at Amazon.com]

When Deng passed away in 1997, China was still in its first decade of economic reform and its per-capita gross domestic product was less than $800, so the kind of restrained policy approach he advocated made perfect sense. No one knows how long Deng intended for this policy guidance to last. But Deng’s successors, from Hu Yaobang to Hu Jingtao (they aren’t related), pretty much followed Deng’s policy guidelines until President Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012.

No More Humility and Restraint

It seems President Xi has abandoned Deng’s strategic policy guidelines. On the domestic front, he focused on ensuring his power by purging many political rivals through the anti-graft movement. In October, he was declared the “core” leader of the Chinese Communist Party, a title last used by Chairman Mao.

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[Read the full story here, at The Federalist]

He coined the term “China dream” to counter “American dream.” While “American dream” is about any hard-working individual living to his or her full capacity in a free society, “China dream” means Chinese people can only live a better life by subjecting themselves to the Communist Party’s absolute rule. Under President Xi, the 51hkz5w3lkl-_sl250_Chinese government has ruthlessly cracked down on dissidents, including Chinese nationals and foreigners, and China has become a much less friendly place to foreign investors and companies.

[Check out Helen Raleigh’s other book “The Broken Welcome Mat: America’s un-American immigration policy, and how we should fix it” at Amazon.com]

On the foreign policy front, China doesn’t lay low any longer. President Xi has been very vocal about China’s ambitions. He seems to believe that China’s rise to replace the United States as the next superpower is unstoppable and the time is now.

He sees at least two trends in his favor. First, there’s a consensus within the Chinese leadership and public opinion that the 2008 economic crisis has produced long-lasting devastating effects to the West: most countries in Europe are still struggling economically while the United States has experienced a very timid recovery. Since China emerged from the 2008 economic crisis relatively unscathed, many people, including Xi, believed that free market economics have reached their end and it’s time to adopt the Chinese-style authoritarian mercantile economic model. Thus, China should replace the United States to set a new economic order.

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Second, based on a misguided belief that the world is a better place when the United States gives up its power and authority in a global system established since World War II, President Obama has been ready and willing to acquiesce America’s leadership in international affairs in the last eight years. President Xi quickly sized up president Obama as a weak leader, and sought to expand China’s influence and challenge America wherever opportunities rise. Read the rest of this entry »