Staying the Enforcement of Travel Ban Not the Final Word

On February 9, published the following article:

“Today’s 9th Circuit decision is a bit less of a big deal than it will play in the press tomorrow… This case is about two big questions, only one of which the panel’s per curiam today even mentions. The first question is how broad the president’s authority is to limit admissions from the relevant seven countries—and to what extent that authority is limited by constitutional law—under a statute that gives him the sweeping power to do this:

“(f) Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President

“‘Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.’

“Remarkably, in the entire opinion, the panel did not bother even to cite this statute, which forms the principal statutory basis for the executive order (see Sections 3(c), 5(c), and 5(d) of the order). That’s a pretty big omission over 29 pages, including several pages devoted to determining the government’s likelihood of success on the merits of the case.

“The other question, one the panel does discuss, is the extent to which the repeated and overt invocations of the most invidious motivations on the part of the President himself, his campaign, his adviser, and his Twitter feed will render an otherwise valid exercise of this power invalid…

“The Ninth Circuit is correct to leave the TRO in place, in my view, for the simple reason that there is no cause to plunge the country into turmoil again while the courts address the merits of these matters over the next few weeks…  it’s worth emphasizing that the grounds on which this order was fought are not the grounds on which the merits fight will happen…”

It is legally not compelling to rely on the above-quoted statute (Section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), “Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President”), giving the President the right to suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens or impose restrictions he may deem appropriate. The reason is that if it is argued that this statute gives the President the right to circumvent, ignore or violate constitutionally guaranteed rights of individuals, then it would be unconstitutional on its face. A statute can also be viewed as unconstitutional if it is applied in an unconstitutional way. This was one of the issues the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had to focus on, and since the Court concluded that there is a great likelihood that the President’s Executive Order, as applied under the statute, would for example violate due process, it did not even have to discuss the statute as such.

Also, as the New York Times pointed out in an article, dated January 28, in its analysis of the Executive Order, the Order may violate 8 U.S. Code § 1152 that bars discrimination “in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence.” Jennifer Chacon, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, said that a challenge to the executive order based on the later law’s equal-protection principles was the most promising line of attack. In an opinion article in The New York Times, David J. Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a libertarian group, said Mr. Trump had at least violated the spirit of the later law. ‘Even if courts do find wiggle room here, discretion can be taken too far,’ Mr. Bier wrote. ‘If Mr. Trump can legally ban an entire region of the world, he would render Congress’s vision of unbiased legal immigration a dead letter.’”

However, Newsmax stated on February 8:

“President Donald Trump will lose the appeal on the nationwide ban on his travel executive order — but he will prevail before the Supreme Court, famed civil-rights attorney Alan Dershowitz told Newsmax TV on Wednesday. ‘I do not believe that this order constitutes a violation of the establishment clause of the Constitution,’ the Harvard Law School professor emeritus told ‘Newsmax Prime’ host J.D. Hayworth. ‘The fact that they picked seven Muslim states, those are the states that have high levels of terrorism… So, I think that the Trump administration will ultimately win on that issue, at least as it relates to people who have never been in the United States,’ Dershowitz concluded.”

That will remain to be seen and is far from certain, nor is Dershowitz’ opinion legally compelling. In any event, Dershowitz by-steps one of the most important issues, when singling out persons “who have never been in the United States.” The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals spent much of its opinion on people, however, who HAVE been in the USA LEGALLY, or who were in the process of entering the USA with LEGAL visas.

Report: Countries in the Travel Ban DID Produce Terrorists

Newsmax reported on February 11:

“Since the 9/11 attacks, 72 people coming from the seven Middle Eastern countries named in President Donald Trump’s executive order on travel and refugees have been convicted on terrorism charges according to a new report released Saturday. According to the nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies, the report stands ‘in stark contrast to the assertions by the Ninth Circuit judges who have blocked the president’s order on the basis that there is no evidence showing a risk to the United States in allowing aliens from these seven terror-associated countries to come in.’

“At least 17 of those who have been convicted claimed to be refugees, while three came into the United States as students. Twenty-five more eventually became American citizens, the report shows. Jessica Vaughan, the center’s director of policy studies, said she based the report on information from a report in 2016 from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest…

“Out of the 72 from Trump’s targeted states, the persons arrested on terrorism charges lived in at least 16 different states, with the most living in New York, which had 10; Minnesota and California had eight each; and Michigan, six. Minnesota, along with Washington, were the states that sued to block the travel ban order, and the report revealed at least two of those convicted were from Washington.”

Trump Announces Replacement Ban by Next Week

Newsmax wrote on February 16:

“President Donald Trump’s administration said in court documents on Thursday it wants an end to the legal fight over its ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations and will issue a replacement ban as it strives to protect the nation.

“Details of the new proposal were not provided in the filing or at a wide-ranging news conference by Trump. But lawyers for the administration said in the filing that a ban that focuses solely on foreigners who have never entered the U.S. — instead of green card holders already in the U.S. or who have traveled abroad and want to return — would pose no legal difficulties.”

Melania Trump’s Immigration Lawyer: “Travel Ban Is Wrong; Melania Is Like Esther”

The Times of Israel wrote on February 10:

“So far Attorney Michael Wildes has escaped President Donald Trump’s wrath.  An immigration lawyer, Wildes is speaking out against Trump’s January 27 executive order that banned immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim majority nations. While Wildes is certainly not the only one to oppose the president’s order, he isn’t just any immigration lawyer: He represents First Lady Melania Trump in immigration matters.  ‘She was very respectful and understood my position. She is not only First Lady; she is a lady of the first order. I think America is going to come to appreciate her,’ said the 52-year-old lawyer in a telephone interview with The Times of Israel. ‘I liken her to Queen Esther; she has the ear of the president. She is an immigrant herself,’ said Wildes.

“Even so, Wildes, who is conservative Democrat, said he couldn’t remain silent in good [conscience]. ‘I feel the president is a patriot but I just wish the [language of the] order was more restrictive, that it had excluded green card holders, those with permanent residency,’ Wildes said…

“A managing partner at Wildes and Weinberg Law Office in New York City, Wildes focuses solely on immigration. The firm, founded by his father Leon Wildes, represents Trump Models, President Trump’s NY modeling agency and secures visas for models in the Miss Universe pageants. The first also helps students, business people, and physicians navigate US immigration laws.

“When Wildes heard about the order he said he ‘was concerned… I had one client, an Iranian doctor who treats children, who was doing cancer surgery in Italy. He couldn’t get back…’  Wildes’ Sudanese brain surgeon client said he wasn’t able to make it to the airport to greet his parents, who are permanent residents. He was nervous and asked Wildes to send lawyers to JFK. Wildes, in addition to being the mayor of Englewood, New Jersey for two terms, has served as a federal prosecutor. He made a few phone calls to former colleagues, a letter was drafted and the parents ‘were given every courtesy,’ he said, and entered the US without incident.

“For Wildes, representing immigrants goes to the core of who he is, as an American and as a Jew. On one side his grandparents came from Poland and Russia, on the other from Liechtenstein. Wildes was raised in a Modern Orthodox household… Until the First Lady, the firm’s most famous client was John Lennon. Wilde’s father represented him in 1970 when Richard Nixon wanted to deport the Beatle for his political activism. Today the song ‘Imagine’ plays when callers are put on hold at Wildes and Weinberg.

“Trump approached Wildes last September when questions surfaced regarding Melania Trump’s immigration to the US. She released a letter, signed by Wildes that unequivocally denied allegations she worked illegally in the US before acquiring the right work visa. However, two months after that letter was published, the Associated Press reported that in the nearly two months before Trump received her work visas, the First Lady was paid for 10 modeling assignments.

“Wildes continues to represent Trump on immigration matters as well as in a $150 million libel lawsuit against the Daily Mail. He also represents her parents Viktor and Amalija Knaus, who live in Trump Tower. Wildes wouldn’t clarify their immigration status, saying only ‘they are here.’

“As for the executive order, Wildes agrees the nation must be protected. Yet, the current list of seven nations appears arbitrary and ill conceived, he said. It neither includes Indonesia or Saudi Arabia, the origins of 16 of the 19 hijackers in the 2001 World Trade Center attacks. Trump and the majority of GOP members of Congress argue the executive order will keep terrorists from flooding the country.

“However, it must be noted the US knows precisely who gets resettled here, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The less than one percent of refugees chosen for permanent resettlement in a new country are already required to go through an arduous vetting process, according to Chris Boain, spokesperson for the UNHCR. It takes between 18 and 24 months to go through the US process, which includes background checks by government multiple agencies. Individuals don’t reach that point until after UNHCR or another international agency does an initial vetting that lasts several weeks to several months, according to the UNHCR. Additionally, the majority of these refugees, including Syrian refugees, must submit biometric data, including retinal scans and fingerprints. This information is collected from virtually all Syrians four-years-old and above. Only then will the UN refer the refugee to a county for resettlement, according to the UNHCR.

“However, Wildes said there are countries where the vetting procedures need to be tightened. ‘In a nutshell there are countries where law enforcement is not as it should be and biometric data can be purchased and dummied up,’ Wildes said. Even so, Wildes said he finds the order wrong.

“He isn’t alone. On Tuesday several refugee organizations joined the fight. HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees, initiated a legal challenge against the order. ‘As an organization that has long partnered with the US government, litigation is unprecedented for HIAS, but we feel we have no other choice,’ said HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield. ‘We cannot remain silent as Muslim refugees are turned away just for being Muslim, just as we could not stand idly by when the US turned away Jewish refugees fleeing Germany during the 1930s and 40s. Our history and our values, as Jews and as Americans, require us to fight this illegal and immoral new policy with every tool at our disposal — including litigation,’ said Hetfield.”

Let us hope that Melania Trump is indeed like Esther and has the ear of her husband.

Mexico Warns Its Citizens Living in the USA against Trump’s Immigration Policies

CNN wrote on February 10:

“Mexico warned its citizens living in the United States on Friday to ‘take precautions’ and remain in contact with consular officials a day after the deportation of an undocumented mother following a routine visit with US immigration authorities… ‘The case… illustrates a new reality for the Mexican community living in the United States, facing the most severe implementation of immigration control measures,’ Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday.

“Mexican consulates ‘have intensified their work of protecting fellow nationals, foreseeing more severe immigration measures to be implemented by the authorities of this country, and possible violations to constitutional precepts during such operations and problems with due process,’ the statement said.

“On Wednesday, Garcia de Rayos made her eighth visit to the immigration office since her 2008 arrest and conviction for using a fake Social Security number. After each previous meeting, the married mother of two was released and went back to her family, but this week she was detained and deported within 24 hours to her native Mexico. Her attorney said the deportation was a direct result of President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration. US immigration officials said there was nothing special about her case — she committed a crime and her deportation order was enforced…”

The New York Times wrote on February 10:

“By no standard of common sense or decency should Guadalupe García de Rayos have been a priority for deportation. Ms. Rayos, a 35-year-old mother of two, was arrested on Wednesday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Phoenix. On Thursday she was deported to Mexico, a country she left 21 years ago. Her devastated family, including her American-born children, remains in the United States.

“President Trump persists in the absurd claim that America will be safe and great again only after an assault on ‘bad dudes’ and ‘criminal aliens,’ whom he has promised to arrest and remove by the millions. But Ms. Rayos fits no such definition and was no threat, though she had been living in the United States illegally since she was 14. She had been known to the authorities since she was caught in a workplace raid in Phoenix in 2008. In the years since, she would check in regularly with immigration officials, who chose not to deport her, having more important things to do.

“Mr. Trump ran for office promising to eliminate such discretion and replace it with heedless and pointless enforcement. His campaign amplified the nativist passions of his supporters and hard-line advisers, including the man who is now his right hand in the Justice Department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“What was always most alarming about Mr. Trump’s posturing on immigration wasn’t the wall, which will never be built in the way he describes it. It is instead the prospect of ramped-up enforcement that promises to increase misery on both sides of the border… the brutal idiocy of it all.

“Mr. Trump, or the ideologues who speak into his ear and guide his pen, came up with executive orders the first week of his presidency that vastly expanded the universe of potential deportation targets to include anyone found guilty of any offense, no matter how old or minor, and people accused of crimes but not convicted…

“Mr. Trump’s federal force… threatens to return America to a disgraceful era of workplace raids, indiscriminate sweeps and mass arrests. This will fix nothing…”

USA Today wrote on February 8:

“Garcia de Rayos came to the U.S. in 1996, when she was 14. In 2008, she was swept up in one of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s work-site raids targeting the Golfland Entertainment Centers, which operated several water and mini-golf parks. Sheriff’s deputies seized hundreds of employment records and later arrested Garcia de Rayos at her house in Mesa. She pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal impersonation, a Class 6 felony, the lowest level.

“As a result of the charge, Garcia de Rayos was then turned over to ICE, Ybarra-Maldonado said. She spent six months in ICE custody at the Eloy Detention Center, he said. In 2013, an immigration judge found Garcia de Rayos had no legal stance to remain in the U.S. and issued a voluntary departure instructing her to leave the country, Ybarra-Maldonado said. After Garcia de Rayos appealed the voluntary departure, ICE gave her an order of supervision instructing her to check in yearly, and then every six months, Ybarra-Maldonado said.

“Garcia de Rayos was scheduled for her six month check-in Wednesday but instead of being told to come back in six months, she was taken into custody, he said. Ybarra-Maldonado immediately filed documents asking ICE to stay her deportation, on the grounds that she has lived in the U.S. since she was 14, has two children who are U.S. citizens, and she is fighting to have her felony conviction thrown out on the grounds that Arpaio’s work-site raids were unconstitutional.”

Bild Online strongly condemned this action. The mass tabloid pointed out that the lady was married in Arizona, and her husband and their two American children (14 and 16), who had never been in Mexico, were waiting outside the immigration building when it became clear to them that their wife and mother would not return to them. Her attorney stated that her deportation has nothing to do with national security, but that it was just for the purpose of destroying families. The attorney stated that this is a prime example of a failed immigration policy, which will lead to more illegality, as illegal immigrants will from now on no longer report to the immigration offices, but they will rather try to find shelter in churches and other safe places.

This is indeed just one example of an immigration policy which has gone awfully wrong, if judged based on godly standards.

Report: Trump’s Wall Extremely Costly and Time-Consuming

Reuters reported on February 9:

“President Donald Trump’s ‘wall’ along the U.S.-Mexico border would be a series of fences and walls that would cost as much as $21.6 billion, and take more than three years to construct, based on a U.S. Department of Homeland Security internal report seen by Reuters on Thursday…

“The plan lays out what it would take to seal the border in three phases of construction of fences and walls covering just over 1,250 miles (2,000 km) by the end of 2020… The report said the first phase would be the smallest, targeting sections covering 26 miles (42 km) near San Diego, California; El Paso, Texas; and in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. The report assumes DHS would get funding from Congress by April or May, giving the department sufficient time to secure contractors and begin construction by September. Trump has said Congress should fund the wall upfront, but that Mexico will reimburse U.S. taxpayers. Mexico has said it will not pay…

“Bernstein Research, an investment research group that tracks material costs, has said that uncertainties around the project could drive its cost up to as much as $25 billion.

“The second phase of construction proposed in the report would cover 151 miles (242 km) of border in and around the Rio Grande Valley; Laredo, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; El Paso, Texas and Big Bend, Texas. The third phase would cover an unspecified 1,080 miles (1,728 km), essentially sealing off the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

“… A source familiar with the plans said DHS may have to go to court to seek eminent domain in order to acquire some of the private land needed to cover the final and most ambitious phase.

“The first phase, estimated to cost only $360 million, could be a relatively easy way for Trump to satisfy supporters eager to see him make good on his campaign promises to limit illegal migration. But the rest of the construction will be markedly more expensive, covering a much larger stretch of land, much of it privately owned or inaccessible by road. In addition to seeking eminent domain and environmental waivers, the U.S. government would also have to meet the requirements of the International Boundary and Water Commission, a U.S.-Mexico pact over shared waters. The report estimated that agreement alone could bring the cost from $11 million per mile to $15 million per mile in one area.”

US Weapons Deal with Saudi Arabia

 Mic Network Inc wrote on February 10:

“As President Donald Trump spent this week bitterly defending his temporarily blocked de facto Muslim ban, his administration is reportedly preparing a big arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia was notably excluded from Trump’s controversial immigration ban, which barred U.S. entry to nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees.

“… the majority of people killed in domestic terrorist attacks were killed by Saudis… The White House has been tightlipped about the alleged arms deal, but unnamed government officials involved directly in the reported deal told the Washington Times Tuesday that a major sale of arms to Saudi Arabia was imminent.

“Saudi Arabia is reportedly set to buy a $300 million precision-guided missile technology package from the United States — a deal confirmed by anonymous Congressional sources.

“The U.S. has a long history of making billion dollar arms deals with Saudi Arabia, and America’s key ally, the United Kingdom, continues to sell arms to the oil-rich Arab nation, a decision currently under judicial review…

“Saudi terrorists have been responsible for the vast majority of people who have died in terrorist attacks committed on U.S. soil. Between 1975 and 2015, there have been 40 successful terrorists on U.S. soil, according to the think tank Cato Institute. Nineteen of those were responsible for executing 9/11, 15 of whom were from Saudi Arabia. With 2,983 deaths from 9/11, the 15 Saudi nationals killed an average of 2,355 people. However, the remaining 25 terrorists over the 40 year period were collectively responsible for an average of 669 deaths… Supporting and encouraging Saudi Arabia’s military might has major implications for the world and regional stability — that means it unavoidably has implications for national security too.”

Only 29 Percent of Americans Think Trump Is Respected by Foreign Leaders

Vox wrote on February 10:

“… a new Gallup poll shows that by a stunning 29-67 margin, Americans think foreign leaders don’t have much respect for Trump. That’s dramatically worse than Americans’ assessment of the state of American leadership under either Barack Obama or George W. Bush.”

War Between the US Intelligence Community and President Trump?

The Observer (a British paper, which has been linked by the German magazine, Der Stern) wrote on February 12:

 “… the still-forming Trump administration is already doing serious harm to America’s longstanding global intelligence partnerships. In particular, fears that the White House is too friendly to Moscow are causing close allies to curtail some of their espionage relationships with Washington—a development with grave implications for international security, particularly in the all-important realm of counterterrorism.

“Now those concerns are causing problems much closer to home—in fact, inside the Beltway itself. Our Intelligence Community is so worried by the unprecedented problems of the Trump administration—not only do senior officials possess troubling ties to the Kremlin, there are nagging questions about basic competence regarding Team Trump—that it is beginning to withhold intelligence from a White House which our spies do not trust. That the IC has ample grounds for concern is demonstrated by almost daily revelations of major problems inside the White House, a mere three weeks after the inauguration. The president has repeatedly gone out of his way to antagonize our spies, mocking them and demeaning their work, and Trump’s personal national security guru can’t seem to keep his story straight on vital issues.

“That’s Mike Flynn, the retired Army three-star general who now heads the National Security Council. Widely disliked in Washington for his brash personality and preference for conspiracy-theorizing over intelligence facts, Flynn was fired as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency for managerial incompetence and poor judgment—flaws he has brought to the far more powerful and political NSC.

“Flynn’s problems with the truth have been laid bare by the growing scandal about his dealings with Moscow. Strange ties to the Kremlin, including Vladimir Putin himself, have dogged Flynn since he left DIA, and concerns about his judgment have risen considerably since it was revealed that after the November 8 election, Flynn repeatedly called the Russian embassy in Washington to discuss the transition. The White House has denied that anything substantive came up in conversations between Flynn and Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador.

“That was a lie, as confirmed by an extensively sourced bombshell report in The Washington Post, which makes clear that Flynn grossly misrepresented his numerous conversations with Kislyak—which turn out to have happened before the election too, part of a regular dialogue with the Russian embassy. To call such an arrangement highly unusual in American politics would be very charitable.

“In particular, Flynn and Kislyak discussed the possible lifting of the sanctions President Obama placed on Russia and its intelligence services late last year in retaliation for the Kremlin’s meddling in our 2016 election. In public, Flynn repeatedly denied that any talk of sanctions occurred during his conversations with Russia’s ambassador. Worse, he apparently lied in private too, including to Vice President Mike Pence, who when this scandal broke last month publicly denied that Flynn conducted any sanctions talk with Kislyak. Pence and his staff are reported to be very upset with the national security adviser, who played the vice president for a fool.

“It’s debatable whether Flynn broke any laws by conducting unofficial diplomacy with Moscow, then lying about it, and he has now adopted the customary Beltway dodge about the affair, ditching his previous denials in favor of professing he has ‘no recollection of discussing sanctions,’ adding that he ‘couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.’ That’s not good enough anymore, since the IC knows exactly what Flynn and Kislyak discussed…

“A new report by CNN indicates that important parts of the infamous spy dossier that professed to shed light on President Trump’s shady Moscow ties have been corroborated by communications intercepts… This is bad news for the White House, which has already lashed out in angry panic, with Press Secretary Sean Spicer stating, ‘We continue to be disgusted by CNN’s fake news reporting.’ That is hardly a denial, of course, and I can confirm from my friends still serving in the IC that the… dossier… is damning for the administration. Our spies have had enough of these shady Russian connections—and they are starting to push back…

“A senior National Security Agency official explained that NSA was systematically holding back some of the ‘good stuff’ from the White House, in an unprecedented move. For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president’s eyes only, containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however, NSA has ceased doing this… NSA doesn’t appear to be the only agency withholding intelligence from the administration out of security fears…

“None of this has happened in Washington before. A White House with unsettling links to Moscow wasn’t something anybody in the Pentagon or the Intelligence Community even considered a possibility until a few months ago… This is a risky situation, particularly since President Trump is prone to creating crises foreign and domestic with his incautious tweets. In the event of a serious international crisis of the sort which eventually befalls almost every administration, the White House will need the best intelligence possible to prevent war, possibly even nuclear war. It may not get the information it needs in that hour of crisis, and for that it has nobody to blame but itself.”

Michael Flynn Resigns

The Daily Mail wrote on February 15:

“President Donald Trump said Wednesday that his recently resigned National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was torpedoed by Democratic partisans who ‘illegally leaked’ intelligence material in order to harm him. Appearing in a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said ‘the fake media’ had fomented a scandal that wouldn’t exist but for angry Democrats who were acting out in the wake of an embarrassing loss in November’s presidential election. ‘General Flynn is a wonderful man,’ Trump said. ‘I think he’s been treated very, very unfairly by the media – as I call it, the fake media, in many cases.’ ‘From intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked,’ Trump complained. ‘It’s a criminal action – a criminal act. And it’s been going on for a long time, before me, but now it’s really going on.’ …

“The president’s comments came after a morning tweet-storm attacking his own intelligence agencies by saying malicious leakers had touched off a tempest by suggesting he and his aides had improper contact with the Russian government during his presidential campaign. ‘The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by “intelligence” like candy. Very un-American!’ he tweeted. The president faces accusations that he was needlessly sympathetic to Moscow, along with renewed suspicions that his foreign policy was informed by threats of blackmail from Vladimir Putin’s government.’

In addition, the President faces accusations that he knew about Flynn’s conduct and left his Vice-President in the dark, who embarrassed myself by repeating Flynn’s denial on public television.  

The Times of Israel wrote on February 15:

“Questions about the Trump administration’s ties to Russia are hardly going to disappear with the firing of national security adviser Michael Flynn. Investigations are underway, and more are likely by the new administration and on Capitol Hill. US agencies, including the FBI, have been probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. And three congressional committees are conducting their own investigations that include looking at contacts between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign and administration.

“This isn’t the first time Trump has distanced himself from an adviser in light of a relationships with Moscow. In late August, Paul Manafort resigned as Trump’s campaign chairman after disclosures by The Associated Press about his firm’s covert lobbying on behalf of the former pro-Russian ruling political party in Ukraine. Trump’s own ties to Russia have been questioned in light of his friendly posture toward the long-time US adversary and reluctance to criticize President Vladimir Putin…

“On Tuesday, Republican leaders focused on the idea that Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his contacts with the Russian ambassador… The Justice Department had warned the White House late last month that Flynn could be at risk for blackmail because of contradictions between his public depictions of the calls with the Russian ambassador and what intelligence officials knew about the conversations… Flynn did not concede any wrongdoing in his resignation letter, saying merely that he ‘inadvertently briefed the vice president elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador.’

“… Republican Lindsey Graham, who is leading a Senate judiciary subcommittee investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, echoed… concerns about whether Flynn was acting alone and without direction in his contacts… ‘I think most Americans have a right to know whether or not this was a General Flynn rogue maneuver, or was he basically speaking for somebody else in the White House,’ Graham told CNN Tuesday.”

USA Does No Longer Insist on Two-State Solution

The Guardian wrote on February 15:

“In a single sentence, and without detailed elaboration, Donald Trump has casually discarded decades of US diplomacy – pursued by both Democratic and Republican administrations – on the Middle East peace process. Standing alongside the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the White House, the US president declared himself unconcerned whether negotiations should be aimed at the two-state solution, which has long been guaranteed by Washington. Instead, Trump indicated that it would be left to Israelis and Palestinians to sort out the ‘ultimate deal’ he had once promised he would make. ‘I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like,’ Trump said…”

The Europeans are strongly committed to a two-state solution. A one-state solution would be totally unacceptable to them.

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 15:

“Germany has reaffirmed its support of a two-state solution in the Middle East after reports the US was open to alternatives… The head of a German parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, Norbert Röttgen, was quoted by ‘Die Welt’ newspaper as saying ‘the two-state solution is the only way Israel can remain a democratic and a Jewish state at the same time.’ Niels Annen, foreign policy spokesperson for the Social Democrats in parliament, told the same paper that if the alleged shift in the US stance on Israel was indeed true, ‘it would torpedo the efforts of the United Nations and cause a break in German-American Middle East policy.’…

“Shimon Stein, a former Israeli ambassador to Germany, told the Bayerischer Rundfunk public broadcaster that abandoning the two-state solution was ‘unrealistic’ and ‘a lot of blood would be shed’ before both sides finally end up returning to the two-state solution. A spokesperson for the EU’s foreign policy official, Federica Mogherini, also reaffirmed the EU’s support for the two-state solution. The two-state solution is seen by many as the only way to achieve lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East. However, Israel’s policy of expanding settlements under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put it at odds with the international community – including the United States – making a two-state solution a difficult prospect for the time being.”

One-State Solution Absurd and Dangerous

The Times of Israel wrote on February 16:

“In a barrage of editorials, the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times described Trump’s statements as ‘nonsensical’ and the idea of a one state solution as ‘absurd,’ and said that by withdrawing from decades-old US policy the president was instead increasing the chances of violent conflict…

“‘He offered no details on any peace initiative, and the vagueness of his remarks suggests he has no inkling of how to move forward. His willingness, however, to lend credence to those who would deny a separate state to the Palestinians will certainly make peace harder to achieve,’ the editorial board [of the New York Times] wrote…

“The Washington Post described Trump’s shift in policy as ‘a dangerous retreat’ that made the chances for peace even less likely ‘and increased the chances that one of the few relatively peaceful corners of the region will return to conflict.’… Trump… is being ‘naïve’ and is setting himself up for ‘diplomatic failure,’ the paper wrote.

“… The LA Times said that Trump had ‘demolished’ the two-state solution and described the idea of Israelis and Palestinians agreeing to a one-state outcome ‘absurd.’ ‘A single state that would be agreeable to both sides isn’t the “ultimate deal” of Trump’s imaginings; it’s the ultimate fantasy,’ the newspaper said.

“Netanyahu… indicated a willingness to consider the US president’s call to rein in settlement construction. Later, however, Netanyahu’s office issued a statement saying he did no such thing.”

The Coming Collapse of the USA and the Resurgent Powers of Other Nations

The Bookings Institution wrote on February 10:

“… the declining will and capacity of the United States and its allies to maintain the present world order… will reach the moment at which the existing order collapses and the world descends into a phase of brutal anarchy, as it has three times in the past two centuries. The cost of that descent, in lives and treasure, in lost freedoms and lost hope, will be staggering…

“History shows that world orders do collapse, however, and when they do it is often unexpected, rapid, and violent. The late 18th century was the high point of the Enlightenment in Europe, before the continent fell suddenly into the abyss of the Napoleonic Wars. In the first decade of the 20th century, the world’s smartest minds predicted an end to great-power conflict… The most devastating war in history came four years later. The apparent calm of the postwar 1920s became the crisis-ridden 1930s and then another world war.

“Where exactly we are in this classic scenario today… is, as always, impossible to know. Are we three years away from a global crisis, or 15? That we are somewhere on that path, however, is unmistakable. And while it is too soon to know what effect Donald Trump’s presidency will have on these trends, early signs suggest that the new administration is more likely to hasten us toward crisis than slow or reverse these trends… For the moment, he seems not to have thought much about the future ramifications of his rhetoric and his actions…

“Now, the question is whether the United States is willing to continue upholding the order that it created and which depends entirely on American power or whether Americans are prepared to take the risk — if they even understand the risk — of letting the order collapse into chaos and conflict. That willingness has been in doubt for some time, well before the election of Trump and even before the election of Barack Obama. Increasingly in the quarter century after the end of the Cold War, Americans have been wondering why they bear such an unusual and outsized responsibility for preserving global order when their own interests are not always clearly served — and when the United States seems to be making all the sacrifices while others benefit…

“Germany, the aggrieved victim of Versailles, did not satisfy itself by bringing the Germans of the Sudetenland back into the fold. They demanded much more, and they could not persuade the democratic powers to give them what they wanted without resorting to war…

“… unsettled, disordered conditions produced the fertile ground for the two destructive world wars of the first half of the 20th century. The collapse of the British-dominated world order on the oceans, the disruption of the uneasy balance of power on the European continent as a powerful unified Germany took shape, and the rise of Japanese power in East Asia all contributed to a highly competitive international environment in which dissatisfied great powers took the opportunity to pursue their ambitions in the absence of any power or group of powers to unite in checking them. The result was an unprecedented global calamity and death on an epic scale.

“It has been the great accomplishment of the U.S.-led world order in the 70 years since the end of World War II that this kind of competition has been held in check and great power conflicts have been avoided. It will be more than a shame if Americans were to destroy what they created — and not because it was no longer possible to sustain but simply because they chose to stop trying.”

Hard To Believe–USA Used Psychics to Try to Locate American Hostages

The Miami Herald wrote on February 10:

“The dozens of American diplomats taken hostage by revolutionary students who seized the U.S. embassy in Iran in 1979 may have had some secret company during their 15-month captivity: U.S. intelligence agencies had a squad of military-trained psychics using ESP to watch them, according to declassified documents in a newly available CIA database. In an operation code-named Grill Flame, half a dozen psychics working inside a dimly lit room in an ancient building in Fort Meade, Maryland, on more than 200 occasions tried to peer through the ether to see where the hostages were being held, how closely they were guarded and the state of their health.

“Officially, the psychics worked for U.S. Army intelligence. But the documents in the CIA database make it clear their efforts were monitored — and supported — by a wide array of government intelligence agencies as well as top commanders at the Pentagon. They were even consulted before the super-secret U.S. military raid that attempted to free the hostages in April 1980, which ended in disaster when a plane and a helicopter collided at a desert staging area…

“Edwin May, a physicist who oversaw parapsychology research for government intelligence agencies for 20 years [said]: ‘The psychics were able to tell, in some cases, where the hostages were moved to. They were able to see the degree of their health…. If you can sit in Fort Meade and describe the health of hostages who are going to be released, so that the right doctors can be on hand, that’s very helpful.’

“Others are more skeptical, to put it mildly. ‘The intelligence agencies might as well get a crystal ball out and stare into space and hope they see something,’ said James Randi, a former professional magician who turned his career into debunking ESP and psychics. ‘It’s a huge waste of time and money…’

“Operation Grill Flame was just one part of a broader U.S. intelligence project involving psychics and ESP that continued for 20 years. It… carried out 26,000 telepathic forays by 227 psychics before the government shut it down in 1995… in the fall of 1979… six [psychics] were put to work looking for a missing U.S. Navy plane. On Sept. 4, 1979, the psychics were able to pinpoint the location of the missing plane to within 15 miles.

“Other details of the search for the plane are blacked out in CIA documents, but Jimmy Carter, who was president at the time, may have been alluding to it in an interview he gave 12 years ago. ‘We had a plane go down in the Central African Republic — a twin-engine plane, small plane. And we couldn’t find it,’ even with satellite photography, Carter said. ‘So the director of the CIA came and told me that he had contacted a woman in California that claimed to have supernatural capabilities. And she went in a trance, and she wrote down latitudes and longitudes, and we sent our satellite over that latitude and longitude, and there was the plane.’…”

We know that Satan and his demons are ruling this world, but sometimes, we may be astonished of their methods in doing so, and how receptive even our governments might be to their influence.

America Unprepared Militarily to Defend Itself at Home and Abroad

The Daily Signal wrote on February 10:

“This week on Capitol Hill, several top U.S. military leaders from across the armed services presented a sobering case to Congress: U.S. military readiness is the lowest it has been in decades, leaving it unprepared to defend America’s interests at home and abroad…

“According to multiple reports just this week, about two-thirds of the Navy’s fighter/attack aircraft and more than half of the Marine Corps’ total aircraft fleet are unable to even get off the ground. These problems are merely the tip of the iceberg. The American people can expect to hear more accounts like these in the coming months as we learn more about the declining state of U.S. military readiness…”

“Britain’s Entire Fleet of Attack Submarines Are ‘Out of Action’”

The Telegraph wrote on February 10:

“The Ministry of Defence have denied that the Royal Navy’s fleet of attack submarines are all currently out of action. Britain’s seven ‘hunter-killer’ vessels were reported to be ‘non-operational’ as they undergo repairs and maintenance. However, an MOD source told the Telegraph the reports were ‘categorically not true.’ Theresa May was said to have been kept in the dark by Defence chiefs, the Sun reported. A Whitehall source told the newspaper: ‘No one is being honest about the scandal.’

“It was reported that five of the fleet, including one of the new type, are having refits or maintenance after breaking down. Sources said the three new Astute class subs, which cost £1.2billion each, are beset by technical problems… It comes after Britain’s ability to defend itself against a major military attack was called into question after an investigation found Navy warships are so loud they can be heard 100 miles away by Russian submarines.

“A Royal Navy spokesman said: ‘We don’t comment on specific submarine operations. Britain has a world-class fleet, the Royal Navy continues to meet all of its operational tasking, deploying globally on operations and protecting our national interests as Britain steps up around the world.’’

If you want to believe that…

German Army Leading NATO Army in Europe?

The EUObserver wrote on February 10:

“German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen [stated that the] longer term strategy would turn the Bundeswehr into the leading Nato army in Europe, with small countries integrating their military forces into the German command structures, reports German daily FAZ.”

Will Germany Fill the Military Void?

The Local wrote on February 15:

“After less than a month of life with the Trump administration, it is still far from clear how Washington now sees NATO and the defence of Europe. On Tuesday US Defence Secretary James Mattis described NATO as “the most successful military alliance in history” on his way to a meeting of defence ministers in Brussels. But his boss in the White House has repeatedly called the alliance’s continued utility into question and has called on other member states to do more,,,

“As the largest economy in Europe, and the powerbroker in the EU, Germany is the obvious NATO partner to step into the breach, should the US draw back.In late January and early February, hundreds of German soldiers landed in Lithuania to head up a deployment of a 1,200-strong battalion that will include forces from several NATO members.

“Germany’s Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who was at the base to welcome the troops, said that ‘it sends a clear and important message to all: NATO stands strong and united.’ It was one of several headlines over recent months that suggest Berlin is taking its military commitments more seriously. In May 2016, the Defence Ministry announced that it was adding thousands of new soldiers to its ranks and increasing its spending by billions. It was the second year in a row that an increase in defence spending was announced, after continual cuts since the end of the Cold War. ‘It is clear to Germany that we need to contribute more to the NATO alliance,’ a spokesman for the Defence Ministry told The Local on Tuesday. But he also stressed the contribution the Bundeswehr (German military) is already making to European security.

“As well as the troop commitment in Lithuania, Germany is a key contributor to the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) – a highly mobile force of 5,000 soldiers set up to deter a Russian assault on smaller NATO members. The German airforce has also been involved in policing air space over the Baltic region, while contributing ‘significantly’ to Multinational Corps Northeast (a military cooperation with Poland and Denmark), the spokesman added.”

Disgrace: German Weapons End Up in the Hands of “Child Soldiers”

The Local wrote on February 10:

“A new report by the German Alliance for Child Soldiers and other non-profits found that there are currently around 250,000 child soldiers in at least 20 conflict-ridden countries who are forced to spy, fight, carry supplies and even be sex slaves. And often German arms end up in these child soldiers’ hands. ‘The study proves that Germany delivers small weapons of the deadliest kind to many conflict regions – also those where child soldiers are deployed, for example in the Middle East, India, Pakistan or the Philippines,’ said Ralf Willinger, children’s rights expert and spokesman for the child soldiers alliance, in a statement. ‘Germany is thus jointly responsible for the escalation of armed conflicts and the suffering of children in these countries.’

“Germany exported €47 million-worth of small arms in 2016 – €15 million more than the year before, the study notes – an increase of nearly 50 percent. More than a third of these exports end up going to countries outside of the EU or NATO. German law forbids the export of weapons to conflict-torn countries, but the report says weapons still manage to cross borders illegally. On top of that, German weapons may be licensed to be produced in other countries, but where they go afterwards becomes unclear…

“[The report] also calls for Germany to lift its own military recruitment age to 18. Germany allows 17-year-olds to join the Bundeswehr with parental permission, though they are limited to using weapons during training, and are not sent on international missions…”

EU Warns Trump Not to Interfere

The Times of Israel wrote on February 10:

“EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini warned Donald Trump’s administration Friday not to ‘interfere’ in European politics, in an apparent reference to the US president’s praise of Brexit. ‘We do not interfere in US politics… And Europeans expect that America does not interfere in European politics,’ said Mogherini…

“Trump’s election dismayed many European leaders, who see him as dangerously naive about the threat posed by Russia and fear his victory will inspire Europe’s own far-right populist parties. ‘Europeans feel and believe that their interest[s] are better protected and promoted through our union,’ Mogherini said. ‘The European Union is here to stay.’”

A European Nuclear Superpower—Yes or No?

The Telegraph wrote on February 9:

“The German government has been forced to deny it is interested in acquiring nuclear weapons amid calls for it to lead a European ‘nuclear superpower’… The highly unusual statement comes amid growing calls for the European Union to invest in its own nuclear deterrent… Spiegel magazine has questioned whether it is time for Germany to acquire its own nuclear weapons. And the Financial Times has called for Germany to ‘think the unthinkable’ on the issue…

“Roderich Kiesewetter, an MP and former army colonel who is foreign policy spokesman for Mrs Merkel’s party, has called for Germany to take a leading role in setting up a European nuclear deterrent… he wants Germany to pay for the UK and France, Europe’s two existing nuclear powers, to increase their arsenals in order to provide a ‘nuclear shield’ for the continent… ‘Europe must start planning for its own security in case the Americans sharply raise the cost of defending the continent, or decide to leave completely,’ he said.

“Others believe the UK is not a viable partner in the light of Brexit, and have called for any such plan to focus on France. ‘If the US is no longer prepared to do its part of the nuclear deterrence, Germany and France will have to fill this vacuum,’ Gustav Gressel of the European Council on Foreign Relations said.”

Canada Supports Strong EU

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 15:

“Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed the European Union as a bastion of international partnership on Thursday. In a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Trudeau made it clear that Canada sought to distance itself from the protectionism promoted by US President Donald Trump and post-Brexit vote Britain. ‘You are a vital player in addressing the challenges that we collectively face as an international community,’ he told lawmakers. ‘Indeed, the whole world benefits from a strong EU.’

“The prime minister then called on the EU and Canada to take center stage in the global economy: ‘We know that, in these times, we must choose to lead the international economy, not simply be subject to its whims… Canada knows that an effective European voice on the global stage isn’t just preferable, it’s essential,’ he added, calling the bloc a ‘truly remarkable achievement and unprecedented model for peaceful cooperation.’

“Trudeau’s talk came just one day after the European Union backed a controversial free-trade deal with Canada, commonly known as CETA. Not only does the move show a stark contrast to the policies of President Trump, who withdrew from the proposed trans-Pacific free trade deal TTP, it illustrates Canada’s drive to pivot away from complete reliance on trade with its neighbor to the south… The Canadian leader gave his speech fresh from a trip to Washington, where he and President Trump attempted to bridge their many differences, even as Trump threatens to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).”

France Prevents Possible Terror Attack

The Associated Press wrote on February 10:

“Anti-terrorism forces arrested four people Friday in southern France, including a 16-year-old girl, and uncovered a makeshift laboratory with the explosive TATP and other ingredients for fabricating a bomb. France’s top security official said the raid thwarted an ‘imminent attack.’ A police official said the teen had pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group in a recent video.

“The prosecutor’s office said around 70 grams (2.5 ounces) of TATP were seized in the Montpellier-area home of a 20-year-old man, along with a liter each of acetone, oxygenated water and sulfuric acid. TATP, which can be made from readily available materials, was used in the deadly November 2015 attacks in Paris and the March 2016 attack in Brussels carried out by Islamic State extremists.

“Two other men were arrested, a 33-year-old and a 26-year-old… The police official… said one of the suspects was believed to be planning a suicide attack but that the investigation had not yet uncovered a specific target. He said one person in the group had tried to reach Syria in 2015 and was known to intelligence services. The group — notably the girl — attracted new attention with their social media postings, he said…

“France is still under a state of emergency after several deadly attacks in 2015 and 2016.”

Most Europeans for a Muslim Travel Ban

Deutsche Welle reported on February 9:

“A new survey by London think tank Chatham House reveals that the majority of Europeans oppose Muslim immigration, Germans included. There is no country polled in which support for Muslim immigration surpasses opposition…

“The survey was carried out in Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Great Britain, Hungary and Poland. Some countries, like France, Belgium and Great Britain, have relatively large Muslim minorities, while others, like Poland or Hungary, have practically none. This difference is not reflected in the opinion of Muslim immigrants… It is also clear that in all of these countries, the right-wing populist parties are strong and in some cases, make up the government. The most pro-Muslim immigrant country was Spain, where 41 percent of the population opposed the survey statement…”

Germany’s New President

 AFP wrote on February 12:

“Billed as Germany’s ‘anti-Trump,’ center-left former foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected Sunday as the new ceremonial head of state. The 61-year-old, who regularly polls as Germany’s most popular politician, will represent the EU’s top economy abroad and act as a kind of moral arbiter for the nation…

“Steinmeier is one of Germany’s best-known politicians, having twice served as top diplomat under Merkel for a total of seven years. Though the trained lawyer is usually measured in his speech, in the thick of last year’s US election campaign Steinmeier labeled Donald Trump a ‘hate preacher.’… “

Martin Schulz the German Donald Trump?

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 10:

“Germany’s finance minister [Wolfgang Schäuble] compared the rival SPD’s candidate for chancellor, Martin Schulz, to US President Trump… Schäuble, who is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), called Social Democrat (SPD) Martin Schulz ‘Trump, almost word-for-word’ in an interview with ‘Der Spiegel.’ He also accused the former president of the European Parliament of trying to ride a similar wave of populism that put the real estate mogul in the White House…

“‘If Schulz allows his supporters to use the slogan “Make Europe Great Again,” then he is Trump almost word-for-word,’ said Schäuble, referencing the use of the slogan and the hashtag #MEGA by a small group of Schulz supporters on the website Reddit. Schäuble continued, ‘in a time when populism is seducing people the world over, politicians should not speak like Mr. Schulz. If he wants to fight populism, as he claims, he should take note of these facts.’

“Schulz has himself expressed his distaste for the US president’s bombastic rhetoric, calling Trump ‘dangerous to democracy’ and accusing him of ‘playing with the security of the Western world.’”

North Korea’s Missile Test

Newsmax reported on February 13:

“North Korea’s missile that it claims it tested over the weekend is designed to launch from a submarine… Officials said the KN-11-mod-2 missile was launched in the northwest region of North Korea Saturday evening and traveled around 300 miles into the Sea of Japan. The missile test this weekend happened around the same time as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s appearance in the U.S. with President Donald Trump.

“The missile traveled farther than any other missile that North Korea has launched… The launch was a ‘clear grave threat to our national security,’ Capt. Jeff Davis said, according to Fox News. Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s 33-year-old dictator, witnessed the launch in person, officials said…”

China Expels Christian Missionaries

Reuters reported on February 10:

“China has expelled 32 South Korean Christian missionaries… amid diplomatic tension between the two countries over the planned deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in the South. The 32 were based in China’s northeastern Yanji region near the border with North Korea, many of whom had worked there more than a decade…  they were expelled in January… four people, including a Korean missionary and a Korean-American pastor, were apprehended by Chinese police in a Yanji hotel on Feb. 9…

“China’s Communist Party says it protects freedom of religion, but keeps a tight rein on religious activities and allows only officially recognized religious institutions.”

More Nonsense from End-of-the-World Conspirators

The Daily Mail wrote on February 11:

“The world could be set to end in October this year, when a giant mysterious planet collides with our own – according to a conspiracy theorist. David Meade, author of the book ‘Planet X – The 2017 Arrival’, believes a star, which he calls ‘a binary twin of our sun’, is coming ‘at us towards the south pole’. He says the star will bring with it ‘seven orbiting bodies’, including Nibiru, a large, blue planet that he also refers to as Planet X hurtling towards our planet.

“Nibiru, sometimes referred to as Planet X, is a hypothesised planet on the edge of our solar system. Nibiru is a different planet to the Planet Nine, which is also sometimes referred to as Planet X, that was proposed by astronomers in Caltech in January last year.

“Conspiracy theorists believe the gravitational influence of the ‘rogue planet’ Nibiru disrupted the orbits of other planets hundreds of years ago… David Meade believes the planet is set to hit into our planet in October this year, after being driven here by the gravitational pull from a ‘binary star’ twinned with the sun – of which there is no evidence.

“He says the star is difficult to spot because of the angle it is approaching Earth… The scientific community does not agree Nibiru exists. ‘Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an internet hoax,’ Nasa has said previously… Nibiru was widely predicted to hit our planet in December 2015, and before that in September. It was also predicted to smash into our planet to coincide with the Mayan apocalypse that did not occur in 2012. Even before that it was predicted Nibiru it would destroy the world in 2003.”

How gullible can people be to believe such nonsense? Even the admission is telling that the “star” is difficult to spot.

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