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Chinese Spy Ship Enters Japan’s Territorial Waters for Second Time Since End of WWII 

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In an aggressive move, a Chinese naval reconnaissance vessel enters waters near Kuchinoerabu Island off Kagoshima Prefecture.

 reports: A Chinese navy reconnaissance vessel entered Japanese territorial waters near Kuchinoerabu Island off Kagoshima Prefecture early Wednesday morning — the first time since 2004 that a Chinese military ship has done so.

Wednesday’s incursion comes just under a week after a Chinese naval frigate entered the contiguous zone just outside Japan’s territorial waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

According to the Defense Ministry, a Maritime Self Defense Force P-3C patrol aircraft spotted the Chinese spy ship sailing into Japanese waters west of Kuchinoerabu at around 3:30 a.m.

The ministry said it warned the Chinese ship to exit the territorial waters — generally defined under international law as within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of a nation’s land border — prompting it to leave the waters south of Yakushima Island, sailing southeast, at around 5 a.m.

Wednesday’s incursion was the second time since the end of World War II that a Chinese military ship entered Japanese waters. The last time was in 2004, when a Chinese submarine was detected in the territorial waters near Ishigaki Island in Okinawa Prefecture. In response, Yoshinori Ono, the Defense Agency’s director general at the time, ordered the MSDF to boost its maritime security measures.

Such an order was not issued this time as the Chinese ship left before the Defense Ministry could determine if the passage involved any malicious intent, the ministry said.

U.S. Navy leadership and senior officers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Navy) meet for lunch aboard the Chinese destroyer Harbin (DDG 112) marking the conclusion of a U.S.-China counter piracy exercise between Harbin and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87). Mason is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary M. Keen/Released)

International law allows all ships, regardless of their country of registration, to pass through another country’s territorial waters so long as they do not endanger the peace and security of the coastal state.

While Beijing’s intentions remain unclear, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said that the Chinese ship entered the waters after following two Indian ships participating in the trilateral Malabar drills. Japan, the U.S. and India have been conducting those exercises in the waters east of Okinawa, near the Senkakus, since last Friday.

[Read the full story here, at The Japan Times]

The Chinese ship also shadowed the U.S. aircraft carrier John C. Stennis, which was participating in the joint exercise, Reuters reported, citing a Japanese official.

The intrusion by the Chinese navy comes just six days after a Chinese Navy frigate entered the contiguous waters near the Japanese-administered Senkakus, which are also claimed by China and Taiwan, where they are known as the Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.

While the Senkakus are uninhabited, Kuchinoerabu Island has a population of 123 as of the end of last month. It is a popular tourist destination and a part of Yakushima National Park. Read the rest of this entry »

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Byron York: On Russia Hacks, it’s Jump-to-Conclusions vs. Wait-and-See

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The intelligence community’s response: Fuhgeddaboudit.

Byron York writes: President-elect Trump stirred yet more controversy Saturday night when, as he entered his New Year’s Eve party at Mar-a-Lago, he said he is not convinced the intelligence community is sure about allegations Russian hackers sought to influence the election.

“I just want them to be sure, because it’s a pretty serious charge,” Trump told reporters, “and I want them to be sure.”

The next morning, Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, scoffed at Trump’s statement. “This is the overwhelming judgment of the intelligence community and, frankly, all of the members of the intelligence committees in Congress, Democrats and Republicans,” Schiff said on ABC Sunday. “None of us have any question about this. The only one who does apparently is Donald Trump.”

That is not the case. There are, in fact, members of the intelligence committees who do have questions about this. Yes, many Republicans believe Russian hackers tried to mess with the U.S. presidential campaign in some way, mostly because they believe Russian hackers are always trying to mess with U.S. systems and institutions. But when it comes to solid information on precisely what was done, and on evidence of motives, many Hill Republicans are mostly in the dark — because the intelligence community has kept them there.

[Read the full story here, at Washington Examiner]

Subscribe today to get intelligence and analysis on defense and national security issues in your Inbox each weekday morning from veteran journalists Jamie McIntyre and Jacqueline Klimas.

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Remember that before Christmas the intelligence community refused to brief the House Intelligence Committee, telling lawmakers they can wait until intel officials finish the investigation ordered by President Obama. In response, House committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes argued that the Director of National Intelligence was “obligated to comply” with a House request, and that the committee was “deeply concerned” by the DNI’s “intransigence.”

The intelligence community’s response: Fuhgeddaboudit.

So the wait to learn more goes on. Meanwhile, a number of Democrats are arguing that the evidence is so overwhelming that Congress must establish a special investigating committee, even though there will already be multiple investigations of the Russia matter in the standing committees of Congress. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Watch Joe Biden And Colin Powell Do A Tire-Melting Drag Race In Their Corvettes


Noted burnout aficionado Vice President Joe Biden blew up the internet with his 1967 Corvette a few weeks ago. Things are about to get even better: watch him race former Secretary of State Colin Powell, behind the wheel of a 2015 Corvette. Get ready to watch some burning rubber.

The video from CNBC previews an upcoming episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, where presumably we’ll find out who won this epic drag race—and the bragging rights.

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A Corvette drag race should be initiation for any new American politician, if you ask me. Read the rest of this entry »


INSIDE JOB: John Kerry’s State Department Sent MILLIONS To Daughter’s Group

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The Department of State funded a Peace Corps program created by Dr. Vanessa Kerry and officials from both agencies, records show. The Peace Corps then awarded the money without competition to a nonprofit Kerry created for the program.

Ethan Barton reports: More than $9 million of Department of State money has been funneled through the Peace Corps to a nonprofit foundation started and run by Secretary of State John Kerry’s daughter, documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation show.

The Department of State funded a Peace Corps program created by Dr. Vanessa Kerry and officials from both agencies, records show. The Peace Corps then awarded the money without competition to a nonprofit Kerry created for the program.

Initially, the Peace Corps awarded Kerry’s group — now called Seed Global Health — with a three-year contract worth $2 million of State Department money on Sept. 10, 2012, documents show. Her father was then the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which oversees both the Department of State and the Peace Corps. Read the rest of this entry »


THE PANTSUIT REPORT: Invasive Clinton Probe to Get More Uncomfortably Invasive

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Classified emails discovered on the server Clinton maintained at her New York home contained material more sensitive than previously known.

WASHINGTON – Anita Kumar, Marisa Taylor, and Greg Gordon report: As pressure builds on Hillary Clinton to explain her official use of personal email while serving as secretary of state, she faced new complications Tuesday. It was PANTSUIT-REPORTdisclosed her top aides are being drawn into a burgeoning federal inquiry and that two emails on her private account have been classified as “Top Secret.”

The inspector general for the Intelligence Community notified senior members of Congress that two of four classified emails discovered on the server Clinton maintained at her New York home contained material deemed to be in one of the highest security classifications – more sensitive than previously known.

“We will follow the facts wherever they lead, to include former aides and associates, as appropriate.”

— Douglas Welty, a spokesman for the State Department’s inspector general

The notice came as the State Department inspector general’s office acknowledged that it is reviewing the use of “personal communications hardware and software” by Clinton’s former top aides after requests from Congress.

“Both the State Department and Intelligence Community inspectors general should be looking into the staff use of the Clinton private server for official State Department business. This means giving both inspectors general access and custody of all emails that haven’t already been deleted.”

“We will follow the facts wherever they lead, to include former aides and associates, as appropriate,” said Douglas Welty, a spokesman for the State Department’s inspector general.

“From what is publicly known, it appears that the investigation thus far has focused so much on the former secretary of state, that it’s gotten lost that high-level staff apparently also used this server too.”

— Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee

Despite the acknowledgment, the State Department inspector general’s office has left numerous unanswered questions, including exactly who and what is being investigated. The office initially declined to comment and referred questions to the Intelligence Community inspector general’s office, which said it is not currently involved in any inquiry into aides and is being denied full access to aides’ emails by the State Department. Clinton, herself, is not a target.

[Read the full text here, at McClatchy DC]

The expanding inquiry threatens to further erode Clinton’s standing as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. Since her reliance on private email was revealed in March, polls in crucial swing states show that increasing numbers of voters say Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, in part, because of her use of private emails.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wants Clinton and her aides to “come clean and cough up” information about their personal email use. Read the rest of this entry »


What Was Indicted Doctor Hoping to Buy With $100k Donation to Harry Reid’s Super PAC?

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Michael Patrick Leahy reports: In its indictment of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida opthalmologist, the Department of Justice cites Melgen’s $600,000 donation to Senator Harry Reid’s (D-NV) Senate Majority PAC in 2012. That money, the feds charge, was earmarked for the successful re-election of Menendez, and was part of “hundreds of thousands of dollars and contributions to entities that benefitted MENENDEZ’s 2012 Senate campaign, in exchange for specific requested exercises of MENENDEZ’s official authority.”

“Having worked for the Justice Department for many years, I was taken aback, upon carefully reviewing the indictment, at the lengths to which prosecutors went to downplay or omit salient details of Sen. Reid’s participation in a corruption scheme for which they’ve charged Sen. Menendez.” 

— Former chief assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Andy McCarthy

The indictment makes no mention of the additional $100,000 Melgen contributed to the Senate Majority PAC a mere two weeks before Reid arranged an August 2, 2012 meeting among himself, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and Menendez.

[Read the full text here, at Breitbart]

At that meeting, Menendez advocated directly to Secretary Sebelius on behalf of Melgen’s appeal of an HHS finding that he owed $8.9 million for overbilling Medicare in 2007 and 2008. That advocacy, the indictment charges, was the influence Melgen received from Menendez in return for his $600,000 contribution to Reid’s Senate Majority PAC.

That charge leads to an obvious question.

If Melgen’s $600,000 contribution to Senate Majority PAC was an illegal quid-pro-quo between Melgen and Menendez, does it not stand to reason that Melgen’s $100,000 contribution to the same Senate Majority PAC was an illegal quid-pro-quo between Melgen and Reid in which the influence Melgen received was Reid’s arrangement of and participation in the August 2, 2012 meeting attended by Reid, Sebelius, and Menendez?

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“I don’t understand, for example, how you go to the trouble of itemizing trivial gifts like Melgen’s buying Menendez a $360 steakhouse dinner but leave out Melgen’s giving $100,000 to a Reid-controlled super PAC just a few days before Reid — not Menendez — arranged a meeting with the HHS secretary to intervene in Melgen’s $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute.”

— Former chief assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Andy McCarthy

Menendez benefited from the $600,000 that was earmarked to his campaign because it helped him sail to a 19-point re-election victory in deep-blue New Jersey. Reid benefited from the $100,000 that was not earmarked because he was able to allocate it as he wished to assist more vulnerable Democrat candidates in 2012. Those efforts were successful, and Reid emerged from the general elections with his position of Senate Majority Leader still intact.

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“The facts and circumstances outlined in the Menendez indictment clearly implicate the current Democratic Senate Minority Leader in the scheme to sell influence for huge campaign contributions.”

Two former federal prosecutors tell Breitbart News that the Department of Justice, which indicted Menendez on Wednesday for his role “in the scheme to sell influence for huge campaign contributions,” has chosen “to downplay or omit salient details of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) participation in [that] corruption scheme.”

“It is obvious that the Justice Department chose to calibrate its charges so as to skip Reid. The timing and size of the contributions to Reid’s PAC coupled with his personal attendance at a meeting with Secretary Sebelius along with Menendez on behalf of the Doctor demonstrate facts sufficient to warrant further investigation.”

— Former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova

“The facts and circumstances outlined in the Menendez indictment clearly implicate the current Democratic Senate Minority Leader in the scheme to sell influence for huge campaign contributions,” former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova tells Breitbart News.

“It is obvious that the Justice Department chose to calibrate its charges so as to skip Reid. The timing and size of the contributions to Reid’s PAC coupled with his personal attendance at a meeting with Secretary Sebelius along with Menendez on behalf of the Doctor demonstrate facts sufficient to warrant further investigation,” di Genova adds.

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“The fundraiser referenced in the indictment as ‘Fundraiser 2′ and Dr. Melgen are personal friends, and we were not aware of the full extent of their communication until the indictment came out [Wednesday] night. While we are confident that this was an isolated incident, the fundraiser in question is no longer with Senate Majority PAC.”

— Stephanie Potter, executive director of Senate Majority PAC

“Having worked for the Justice Department for many years, I was taken aback, upon carefully reviewing the indictment, at the lengths to which prosecutors went to downplay or omit salient details of Sen. Reid’s participation in a corruption scheme for which they’ve charged Sen. Menendez,” former chief assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Andy McCarthy tells Breitbart News.

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“I don’t understand, for example, how you go to the trouble of itemizing trivial gifts like Melgen’s buying Menendez a $360 steakhouse dinner but leave out Melgen’s giving $100,000 to a Reid-controlled super PAC just a few days before Reid — not Menendez — arranged a meeting with the HHS secretary to intervene in Melgen’s $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute,” McCarthy says.

A spokesperson for Senate Majority PAC attempted to distance the organization from the illegal activity described in the indictment. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Tautology: If You’re Islamic and Extreme, You’re an Islamic Extremist!

Corker on ISIS Semantics

Fresh off a week-long tour of the Middle East that included stops in Iraq, Kuwait, and Turkey, Senator Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) appeared on Meet the Press today to talk about the U.S. response to ISIS. Right off the bat, host Chuck Todd asked Corker about the ongoing debate over whether to de-emphasize ISIS’s Islamic roots in official American pronouncements on the group.

“Do you think it matters whether we call ISIS ‘radical Islam,’ or just ‘radical extremists’,” Todd asked. Corker didn’t mince words in his response.

“They are Islamic, there’s no question. They are extreme in what they’re doing. And they’re a threat to our country,” he said.

As airtight as Corker’s logic is, it seems unlikely to end the tiresome semantic debate over ISIS, which was a topic of a discussion on all 5 Sunday shows this week…(read more)

The Corner


George F. Will: Thanks, or Something

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A look at some of the more entertaining recent headlines to come out of Obama’s America 

george-f-will-114x80Before the tryptophan in the turkey induces somnolence, give thanks for living in such an entertaining country. This year, for example, we learned that California’s Legislature includes 93 people who seem never to have had sex. They enacted the “affirmative consent” law, directing college administrators to tell students that sexual consent cannot be silence but must be “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” and “ongoing throughout a sexual activity.” Claremont Turkeys Raised On California FarmMcKenna College requires “all” — not “both,” which would discriminate against groups — participants in a sexual engagement to understand that withdrawal of consent can be any behavior conveying “that an individual is hesitant, confused, uncertain.”

A severely moral California high school principal prohibited the football booster club from raising money by selling donated Chick-fil-A meals because this company opposed same-sex marriage. The school superintendent approved the ban because “we value inclusivity and diversity.” Up to a point. At a Washington state community college, invitations to a “happy hour” celebrating diversity and combating racism said white people were not invited.

George F. Will writes a twice-weekly column on politics and domestic and foreign affairs. He began his column with The Post in 1974, and he received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1977. He is also a contributor to FOX News’ daytime and primetime programming. View Archive

At Broward College near Miami, a conservative who was asking students if they agreed that “big government sucks” was told by a campus security guard that she must take her question to the campus “free-speech area.” She got off lightly: The federal government has distributed to local police, including those of some colleges and school districts, more than 600 surplus MRAP (mine-resistant ambush-protected) armored vehicles designed for Iraq and Afghanistan.

obama-smirk-headThe federal government, which has Tomahawk cruise missiles and Apache and Lakota helicopters, used the code name “Geronimo” in the attack that killed Osama bin Laden but objected to the name of the Washington Redskins. The Department of Homeland Security, unsleepingly vigilant, raided a Kansas City, Mo., shop to stop sales of panties emblazoned with unauthorized Royals logos. A U.S. Forest Service article on safe marshmallow toasting did not neglect to nag us: It suggested fruit rather than chocolate in s’mores. The droll Orange County Register wondered, “Why not replace the marshmallow with a Brussels sprout?” The federal government’s food police began cracking down on schools’ fundraising bake sales: Step away from those brownies and put your hands on a fruit cup. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Senator Cruz vs. Bob Menendez

I would suggest that’s exactly the reason we need this committee…”

Matthew Boyle provides a good summary here.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is making the best argument of all for a joint select committee to investigate the Benghazi scandal, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) says: He admits he has no clue what President Barack Obama was doing during the terrorist attack.

“…If the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, two years later, cannot answer that question, it makes abundantly clear that the response of the administration, and sadly the response of Senate Democrats, has been partisan stonewalling, rather than trying to get to the truth.”

— Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Cruz duked it out with Menendez on the Senate floor on Monday over Cruz’s latest push for a joint select committee to investigate the scandal, prompting Menendez’s admission. Cruz has been arguing for a joint select committee—which would be bipartisan and encompass members of both the House and the Senate—for months…(read more) Breitbart.com

UPDATE: Panetta, Morell Back Benghazi Select Committee

Leon Panetta, who served as defense secretary at the time of the attacks, and former CIA director Mike Morell announced their support at an event for Panetta’s institute. Per Politico:

“A lot of people have looked at this, but the polls show that the American people still have questions. I want to make sure that all of those questions are cleared up. There are still some questions about the role of the agency. And there are still questions about my own personal role and I want to clear that up,” Morell said during a panel discussion at the Panetta Institute in Monterey, Calif. “It might be surprising for you to hear me say this, but I am a supporter of the creation of this committee because I want all the facts to come together in one place and be presented as one — by one entity as one thing, so the American people can see all of this.”

“I am hopeful that at least getting the facts on the table will be helpful…” (read more)

Andrew Johnson, NRO

 


Israel Once Again Disappointed by Kerry’s Pathological Incompetence

Secretary of State John Kerry and the Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, at the State Department on Wednesday. Credit Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Secretary of State John Kerry and the Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, at the State Department on Wednesday. Credit Drew Angerer/Getty Images

For the NYTimesIsabel Kershner writes:  In an unusually pointed rebuke of an ally, Israel said on Wednesday that it was “deeply disappointed” by Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks a day earlier that appeared to lay primary blame on Israel for the crisis in the American-brokered Middle East peace talks.

The Israeli-Palestinian dispute that has brought the talks to the brink of collapse appeared to be developing into an open quarrel between Israel and the United States, even as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were said to be planning a third meeting here this week with American mediators to try to resolve the crisis.

“Poof, that was sort of the moment. We find ourselves where we are.”

— Secretary of State John Kerry’s infamous “poof speech”

In a sign that the sides were still far from reconciled, Israel on Wednesday directed its government ministers and senior ministry officials to refrain from meeting with their Palestinian counterparts, a move that officials said could delay bilateral projects.

The ban on contacts does not apply to the negotiators, and Israeli officials signaled that coordination between the two sides on security issues would continue. But it was intended to send a message that there would be no business as usual. Read the rest of this entry »