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North Korea’s Ultimatum to America

 writes: The nuclear confrontation between the US and North Korea entered a critical phase Sunday with North Korea’s conduct of an underground test of a thermonuclear bomb.

If the previous round of this confrontation earlier this summer revolved around Pyongyang’s threat to attack the US territory of Guam, Sunday’s test, together with North Korea’s recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the continental US, was a direct threat to US cities.

In other words, the current confrontation isn’t about US superpower status in Asia, and the credibility of US deterrence or the capabilities of US military forces in the Pacific. The confrontation is now about the US’s ability to protect the lives of its citizens.

The distinction tells us a number of important things. All of them are alarming.

First, because this is about the lives of Americans, rather than allied populations like Japan and South Korea, the US cannot be diffident in its response to North Korea’s provocation. While attenuated during the Obama administration, the US’s position has always been that US military forces alone are responsible for guaranteeing the collective security of the American people.

Pyongyang is now directly threatening that security with hydrogen bombs. So if the Trump administration punts North Korea’s direct threat to attack US population centers with nuclear weapons to the UN Security Council, it will communicate profound weakness to its allies and adversaries alike.

Obviously, this limits the options that the Trump administration has. But it also clarifies the challenge it faces.

The second implication of North Korea’s test of their plutonium-based bomb is that the US’s security guarantees, which form the basis of its global power and its alliance system are on the verge of becoming completely discredited. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Ayaan Hirsi Ali on ‘Uncommon Knowledge’: Islam, The West & Dawa

Ayaan Hirsi Ali joins me to discuss her new book, The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Contain It and her views on the challenges facing Western civilization in regards to political Islam. She argues that Islam needs to be separated into two different parts, one part of religion and the other part, political philosophy. She concedes that many aspects of the religious part of Islam are peaceful but argues that the political side is much more concerning due to its focus on Dawa, which means “to plead or to call non-Muslims to Islam.” This call to convert people to Islam is what she argues was a driving force behind the spread of Islam throughout history.

Earlier this year Ayaan Hirsi Ali was called before Congress to testify on her book. She discusses her testimony and that although she was invited by a Democrat senator to speak “about the ideology of radical Islam,” the Democrats present didn’t ask her a single question because they were likely uncomfortable with what she had to say about Islam. She argues … (read more)

Source: National Review

More about Ayaan here.

 


Former Obama Aide Ben Rhodes Now a Person of Interest in House Intelligence Committee Unmasking Investigation

Sara A. Carter reports: Former Obama White House National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes is now an emerging as a person of interest in the House Intelligence Committee’s unmasking investigation, according to a letter sent Tuesday by the committee to the National Security Agency (NSA). This adds Rhodes to the growing list of top Obama government officials who may have improperly unmasked Americans in communications intercepted overseas by the NSA, Circa has confirmed.

The House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-CA, sent the letter to the National Security Agency requesting the number of unmaskings made by Rhodes from Jan. 1, 2016 to Jan. 20, 2017, according to congressional sources who spoke with Circa. Rhodes, who worked closely with former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and was a former deputy national security adviser for strategic communications for President Obama, became a focus of the committee during its review of classified information to assess whether laws were broken regarding NSA intercepted communications of President Trump, members of his administration and other Americans before and after the election, according to congressional officials. The committee is requesting that the NSA deliver the information on Rhodes by August, 21.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP FILE - In this Feb. 16, 2016 file photo Deputy National Security Adviser For Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP –  In this Feb. 16, 2016 file photo Deputy National Security Adviser For Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Rice and former CIA Director John Brennan have all been named in the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the unmasking of Americans. A letter sent last week from Nunes to Dan Coats, the director of National Intelligence, suggested that top Obama aides made hundreds of unmasking requests during the 2016 presidential elections. The story, which was first reported by The Hill last week, stated that the requests were made without specific justifications as to why the unmasking was necessary. Rice and Brennan have confirmed they sought the unredacted names of Americans in NSA-sourced intelligence reports but insisted their requests were routine parts of their work and had no nefarious intentions. Power also has legal authority to unmask officials, though the practice has not reportedly been common for someone in her position. Rhodes also had legal authority to unmask Americans in NSA-source intelligence reports. But intelligence and congressional sources question the extent of the unmasking.

[Read the full story here, at circa.com]

Nunes told Coats in a letter last week that the committee has “found evidence that current and former government officials had easy access to U.S. person information and that it is possible that they used this information to achieve partisan political purposes, including the selective, anonymous leaking of such information.”

Multiple federal law enforcement and intelligence officials told Circa, that requesting an unmasking for intelligence and analytical purposes is something that is done only when the information is absolutely necessary to analyze a specific threat or for other national security purposes. An intelligence source, with direct knowledge of the type of requests made by the Obama aides, said “it’s like hell and high water to fill out and gain approval for these types of unmaskings. It’s something analysts take seriously and could entail filling out 80 pages of paperwork to prove there is a need to unmask. If top officials were unmasking without oversight it’s something everyone should be concerned about and it puts our intelligence community in a very bad place.” Read the rest of this entry »


OH HELL YEAH: U.S. Urges All Nationals In North Korea To ‘Depart Immediately’, Bans Tourists From Visiting

YA THINK? The U.S. is to ban its citizens from travelling to North Korea.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that the ban would be published next week in the Federal Register, to come into effect 30 days later.

US officials linked the move to the death of jailed American student Otto Warmbier.

Once the ban is in effect, US citizens will need special validation to travel to or within North Korea.

Mr Warmbier travelled to North Korea with Young Pioneer Tours. He was arrested in 2016 for trying to steal a propaganda sign and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was returned to the US in a coma in June and died a week later.

How did the news come to light?

Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours, who both operate in North Korea, revealed on Friday that they had been told of the upcoming ban by the Swedish embassy, which acts for the US as Washington has no diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

Rowan Beard, of Young Pioneer Tours, told the BBC the embassy was urging all US nationals to depart immediately.

He said the embassy was trying to check on the number of US tourists left in the country.

What form will the ban take?

Ms Nauert’s statement said: “Due to mounting concerns over the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement, the Secretary has authorised a Geographical Travel Restriction on all US nationals’ use of a passport to travelling through, or to North Korea.

“Once in effect, US passports will be invalid for travel to, through, and in North Korea, and individuals will be required to obtain a passport with a special validation in order to travel to or within North Korea.

“We intend to publish a notice in the Federal Register next week.

“The restriction will be implemented 30 days after publication.”

Rowan Beard said that the 30-day grace period would “give leeway for any [Americans] currently in the country as tourists or on humanitarian work”.

How have the travel agencies reacted?

Simon Cockerell of Koryo Tours told the BBC the agency would still conduct tours and take Americans until the ban came into effect.

“If their country allows them to go, we will take them,” he said.

Mr Cockerell added: “It’s unfortunate for the industry but also for North Koreans who want to know what Americans are really like.”

After the death of Mr Warmbier, the China-based Young Pioneer Tours announced it would no longer take visitors from the US to the country. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Otto Warmbier: How Did North Korea Holiday End in Jail, and a Coma?

Everyone in frame is smiling and laughing in the North Korean cold. Otto Warmbier, like the other tourists, launches a snowball, captured in slow motion on what appears to be a camera phone.

It’s the kind of innocent fun you expect to be captured on a tour group holiday. Otto turns to his right, mouth wide open, laughing.

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Otto’s father Fred wore his son’s jacket as he spoke to journalists

“This is the Otto I know and love. This is my brother,” wrote Austin Warmbier, who released the video, which was shot during a three-night North Korea tour at the end of 2015.

Two months later, Otto would again appear on video, but in very different circumstances.

Head bowed and clutching a prepared “confession”, the 21-year-old student walked out in front of North Korean TV cameras to speak, explaining why he had been arrested at the end of that tour, when everyone else had been allowed to leave.

Danny Gratton Otto (centre, with others on the trip) was

Danny Gratton Otto (centre, with others on the trip) was “bright, intelligent and likeable”, according to Danny Gratton, who met him on the North Korea trip

Looming over him were the oversized portraits of North Korea’s former supreme leaders, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.

He wore a cream-coloured jacket and tie. Before speaking, he got up an offered a low bow.

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Danny was the last person to see Otto (far right), witnessing the moment he was marched away

Otto thanked the North Korean government for the “opportunity to apologise for my crime, to beg for forgiveness and to beg for any assistance to save my life”.

He said he tried to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel as a “trophy” for a US church with the “connivance of the US administration” in order to “harm the work ethic and motivation of the Korean people”.

Weeks after the group pictures were taken, Otto

Weeks after the group pictures were taken, Otto “confessed” in front of North Korean media. AFP

Later, he would break down in tears: “I have made the single worst decision of my life, but I am only human.”

Otto is now back in the US after 15 months of captivity in North Korea. But he is in a coma, cannot understand language and has severe brain damage.

Otto - pictured in ear muffs - was in

Otto – pictured in ear muffs – was in “the wrong place at the wrong time”, says Danny

In the year-and-a-half since he threw that snowball, the life of a young man full of promise has been permanently altered.

Much remains unknown about how Otto’s health deteriorated. Doctors at Cincinnati Medical Center say they have seen no sign he was physically abused but they and his family also don’t buy North Korea’s story that he contracted botulism and fell into a coma after taking a sleeping pill.

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But how did a brilliant student from an Ohio suburb with hopes of becoming an investment banker end up imprisoned in a pariah state? And why was he released in a coma?

The Warmbiers hail from a small suburb called Wyoming in Cincinnati, Ohio, where father Fred owns a small company.

Otto attended the best high school in the state, and was prom and homecoming king. Read the rest of this entry »


Trump Continues to Collect Trademarks in China

President Donald Trump is growing his brand in China.

David Francis reports: According to a report from the Associated Press, the Chinese government has approved nine Trump trademarks it had earlier rejected, in whole or in part. The latest development is likely to add to the growing controversy over Trump’s potential conflicts of interest, and especially charges that he could be in violation of the emolument clause of the U.S. Constitution, which is supposed to prevent a sitting president from gaining a financial benefit from foreign nations.

 

There are now three lawsuits alleging the president is violating the Constitution by refusing to put his assets into a blind trust; Trump has put his son in charge of managing his many business dealings. Trump’s new Washington hotel is a particular sore spot, since many visiting delegations stay there. One was filed by nearly 200 Congressional Democrats Wednesday; a joint one was filed by the attorney generals of Washington, D.C. and Maryland; and a similar suit was filed by the watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

[Read the full story here, at Foreign Policy]

Benefitting from foreign governments, whether through hotel bills or the granting of trademarks, lie at the center of all these cases. In the case of the China trademarks, records don’t show why these requests were initially rejected or why they were reconsidered. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Comey: Obama Administration Asked to Cover up Hillary Investigation

James Comey is delivering his first sworn testimony after being fired by the Trump administration. And several major findings have already been discussed in the first hour. One surprising moment was when Comey said that it wasn’t just the Trump administration that may have asked him to cover up an FBI investigation. It was actually Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s attorney general, who asked him to lie about the probe into Hillary Clinton’s email scandals. According to him, Lynch asked him to not call it an investigation at all — instead, she wanted him to call it a “matter.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Trump: ‘I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris’


[VIDEO] North Korea: Pyongyang’s Putdowns Target Obama, Clinton, Kerry 

In another life, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s propaganda chief could have had a heck of a career as an insult comic.

The latest screed from Pyongyang’s unnamed prince of prose (or princes — it’s unclear how many write these gems) was delivered Monday in response to Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., asserting Kim Jong Un was a “whack job.”

Like previous statements, it bucked all norms for engaging in international repartee:

“It is a serious provocation that Gardner, like a psychopath, dare to bear the evil that dares our highest dignity,” the statement said, according to a translation. “It is America’s misfortune that a man mixed in with human dirt like Gardner, who has lost basic judgment and body hair, could only spell misfortune for the United States.”

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

The real-world reference point behind some of the putdowns, most of which are disseminated by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, is unclear. Gardner, for instance, has a full head of hair.

But KCNA has been dealing out hits against U.S. and international politicians for years, perfecting a style that’s veered from jaw-dropping to shockingly racist.

Among the worst insults directed at former President Barack Obama, North Korea in 2014 branded him a “juvenile delinquent,” “clown” and a “dirty fellow.” Obama, the KCNA statement said, was somebody who “does not even have the basic appearances of a human being.” Read the rest of this entry »


CIA Plane Lands at Wellington Airport Ahead of Five Eyes Meeting 

Chloe Winters reports: Secret agents from one of the most powerful spy agencies in the world may have just touched down in the capital.

What looks to be just another private jet parked at Wellington Airport may in fact be carrying a plane-load of spies who are said to be in the country for a secret meeting in Queenstown.

The tail number – five small, black digits on the back of the plane – reveals the private jet belongs to none other than the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency, also known as the CIA.

SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

The aircraft’s arrival ties in with a top-secret meeting of the Five Eyes nations in Queenstown.

The plane, with the registration number 10030, was spotted at Wellington Airport on Saturday morning, NewsHub reports. Read the rest of this entry »


Protesters Torch Free Speech At Berkeley In Latest Example of Mob Rule On America’s College Campuses

JONATHAN TURLEY

milo_yiannopoulos_journalist_broadcaster_and_entrepreneur-1441_8961808556_croppedSeal_of_University_of_California,_Berkeley.svgWe recently discussed the courageous stand of the University of Chicago in favor of free speech (a position followed by schools like Purdue). Free speech is being rapidly diminished on our campuses as an ever-widening scope of speech has been declared hate speech or part of the ill-defined “microaggression.” Now Berkeley has shown the world exactly what this intolerance looks like as protesters attacked people, burned property, and rioted to stop other people from hearing the views of a conservative speaker. As on so many campuses, they succeeded. The speech by Milo Yiannopoulos was cancelled. A triumph of anti-speech protesters. Berkeley now must face a defining moment. The only appropriate response for the school is to immediately reschedule the speaker and stand in defiance of those who want to deny the right to speak (and to hear and associate) to others. Moreover, it is liberals who should be on…

View original post 519 more words


[VIDEO] Perino & Krauthammer: North Korea Nuclear Threat Concern Remains High

 


[VIDEO] Pence Went To The DMZ Just To Stare Down North Korean Soldiers 

Vice President Mike Pence broke from his schedule Monday morning and took an unannounced trip to the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

Though other top ranking U.S. officials have visited the DMZ in the past, Pence actually ventured outside and stared down North Korean troops.

Mike Pence (CNN)

Mike Pence (CNN)

“Yeah, you better keep walking.”

In addition to his visit to the DMZ, Pence sent North Korea a warning statement Monday morning … (read more)

Source: The Daily Caller


Syria Strikes Signal an End of ‘Leading From Behind’

Hugh Dugan writes: With his surprise, 180-degree decision to avenge innocents in Syria, President Donald Trump entered the particle accelerator that is foreign affairs.

The barrage of urgencies—inhumanity, chemical weapons, Syrian civil war, North Korean missiles, Russian warships, truck bombings, ISIS—has streamed his focus into a statesmanship that impresses even his detractors.  This reminds us of Trump’s speech to Congress in February where he grew visibly into his presidential shoes.

Taking decisive action in Syria indeed was in the U.S. national interest, not only an understandable human response to a human atrocity. How is it in the national interest? Chemical weapons cannot be tolerated a bit. No excuse exists. Any shadow of their acceptability would quickly become a black cloud over a world cowed into suspicion and fear. Our national interest depends upon a world open to itself and to the future. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] President El-Sisi On Russia’s Involvement with Libya and Syria


Did the Obama Administration’s Abuse of Foreign-Intelligence Collection Start Before Trump?

Hveic4cF.jpeg

One clue: The Russia story is a replay of how the former White House smeared pro-Israel activists in the lead-up to the Iran Deal.

Lee Smith writes: The accusation that the Obama administration used information gleaned from classified foreign surveillance to smear and blackmail its political opponents at home has gained new traction in recent days, after reports that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice may have been rifling through classified transcripts for over a year that could have included information about Donald Trump and his associates. While using resources that are supposed to keep Americans safe from terrorism for other purposes may be a dereliction of duty, it is no more of a crime than spending all day on Twitter instead of doing your job. The crime here would be if she leaked the names of U.S. citizens to reporters. In the end, the seriousness of the accusation against Rice and other former administration officials who will be caught up in the “unmasking” scandal will rise or fall based on whether or not Donald Trump was actively engaged in a conspiracy to turn over the keys of the White House to the Kremlin. For true believers in the Trump-Kremlin conspiracy theories, the Obama “spying and lying” scandal isn’t a scandal at all; just public officials taking prudent steps to guard against an imminent threat to the republic.

But what if Donald Trump wasn’t the first or only target of an Obama White House campaign of spying and illegal leaks directed at domestic political opponents?

In a December 29, 2015 article, The Wall Street Journal described how the Obama administration had conducted surveillance on Israeli officials to understand how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, like Ambassador Ron Dermer, intended to fight the Iran Deal. The Journal reported that the targeting “also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”

Despite this reporting, it seemed inconceivable at the time that—given myriad legal, ethical, political, and historical concerns, as well as strict National Security Agency protocols that protect the identity of American names caught in intercepts—the Obama White House would have actually spied on American citizens. In a December 31, 2016, Tablet article on the controversy, “Why the White House Wanted Congress to Think It Was Being Spied on By the NSA,” I argued that the Obama administration had merely used the appearance of spying on American lawmakers to corner opponents of the Iran Deal. Spying on U.S. citizens would be a clear abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance system. It would be a felony offense to leak the names of U.S. citizens to the press.

[Read the full story here, at Tablet Magazine]

Increasingly, I believe that my conclusion in that piece was wrong. I believe the spying was real and that it was done not in an effort to keep the country safe from threats—but in order to help the White House fight their domestic political opponents.

“At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism—activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.”

This is what systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection for domestic political purposes looks like: Intelligence collected on Americans, lawmakers, and figures in the pro-Israel community was fed back to the Obama White House as part of its political operations. The administration got the drop on its opponents by using classified information, which it then used to draw up its own game plan to block and freeze those on the other side. And—with the help of certain journalists whose stories (and thus careers) depend on high-level access—terrorize them.

Once you understand how this may have worked, it becomes easier to comprehend why and how we keep being fed daily treats of Trump’s nefarious Russia ties. The issue this time isn’t Israel, but Russia, yet the basic contours may very well be the same.

***

Two inquiries now underway on Capitol Hill, conducted by the Senate intelligence committee and the House intelligence committee, may discover the extent to which Obama administration officials unmasked the identities of Trump team members caught in foreign-intelligence intercepts. What we know so far is that Obama administration officials unmasked the identity of one Trump team member, Michael Flynn, and leaked his name to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REWIND: Charles Krauthammer Defends Reagan’s Foreign Policy, 1986

Charles Krauthammer with his comrades at the New Republic when he was a romantic young idealist. Seated to his left is the still unreformed Michael Kinsley

 


[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


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

cuba-parliament

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

one-china-1-756x1024

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.

trump-abe-snow-jp

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.

trump-oreilly-interview

“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 

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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 »