This Week in the News

President Trump Signs Revised Executive Order on Travel Ban

Deutsche Welle reported on March 6:

US President Donald Trump issued a revised executive order banning travel to the US from six countries. The latest directive removes Iraq from the list of Muslim-majority countries whose citizens are banned from entering America for 90 days. The ban applies to citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen and exempts those who already have valid visas [or green cards, or possess dual citizenship]… Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters Iraq was taken off the list because its government had imposed new vetting procedures and because of its work with the United States in countering Islamic State militants. Attorney General Jeff Sessions added that… three ‘of these nations are state sponsors of terrorism,’… referring to Iran, Sudan and Syria, adding that others had served as ‘safe havens’ for terror operatives.

“… the new directive had an implementation delay [until March 16] to limit the disruptions that created havoc for some travelers… the Department of Homeland Security will conduct a country-by-country review of the information the six targeted nations provide to the US for visa and immigration decisions. Those countries will then have 50 days to comply with US government requests to update or improve that information.

“The order also suspends the entire US refugee program for 120 days, though refugees already formally scheduled for travel by the State Department will be allowed entry. After the suspension is lifted, the number of refugees allowed into the US will be capped at 50,000 for fiscal year 2017. The new order no longer singles out Syrian refugees for an indefinite ban. Syrian refugees will now be treated like other refugees.”

Legal Challenges Ahead

Bloomberg wrote on March 6:

“The overarching question is whether the revised order… can withstand some of the same legal challenges that doomed the first, including whether it unlawfully discriminates based on religion. Those questions may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, the experts said… While the revised order halts admissions of refugees for 120 days, it no longer bans Syrian refugees indefinitely, nor does it favor Christians…

“Like the order it replaced, the revised directive doesn’t mention Muslims or Islam in singling out citizens of Syria, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia for a 90-day ban. But that didn’t stop judges from blocking Trump’s first order…

“By dropping those with green cards and visas, Trump’s new order… renders moot the legal claims of people with the strongest argument that their Constitutional right to due process of law — the right to a fair hearing before being deprived of property or rights — was being violated. While the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that non-citizens, legal or not, are entitled to due process when in the country, the Constitution doesn’t protect people in other countries with no ties to the U.S.

“The Trump administration is defending the new order, as it did the old one, by pointing to the president’s broad authority to suspend any class of aliens whose entry would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States.’”

Revised Travel Ban Still Illegal

The New York Times wrote on March 6:

“… [the] revised version of that order…  still suffers from a fundamental, and fatal, flaw: It constitutes unlawful religious discrimination… The order is still limited to only Muslim-majority countries: namely, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Residents of those countries — and only those countries — will be severely restricted in their ability to travel into the United States for 90 days. Left off are the predominately Christian countries that the State Department lists as ‘Terrorist Safe Havens’ like Colombia, the Philippines and Venezuela…

“This revised order is a Muslim ban. All the countries he has excluded are more than 90 percent Muslim. Three of them — Iran, Somalia and Yemen — are more than 99 percent Muslim…”

Federal Judge Allows Amended Complaint against new Travel Ban

Newsmax wrote on March 8:

“A federal judge on Wednesday said the state of Hawaii could file an amended complaint against President Donald Trump’s new executive order temporarily banning the entry of refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries… The state is claiming the revised ban… violates the U.S. Constitution. It is the first legal challenge to the revised order…

“Hawaii claims its state universities would be harmed by the order because they would have trouble recruiting students and faculty. It also says the island state’s economy would be hit by a decline in tourism.”

It also contends that it violates the Constitution by preventing families from Hawaii from visiting with their relatives living in those six banned countries. In addition, the states of Washington and New York have announced legal challenges as well.

Jewish Organizations Condemn New Executive Order

The Times of Israel reported on March 6:

“The Anti-Defamation League ‘strongly condemned it,’ calling it ‘still effectively a Muslim ban that will be challenged in the courts’… Several [Jewish] groups said the action was an affront to both Jewish and American values. ‘We will resist all attempts to vilify refugees,’ the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society wrote on Twitter…

“The social justice group Bend the Arc Jewish Action said it would ‘fight for our Muslim brothers and sisters’…the Reform Jewish movement quickly criticized Trump’s second travel ban order as well. Rabbi Jonah Pesner… said the administration ‘has doubled down on its discriminatory and unjust immigration and refugee ban, defying the American traditions of welcome and religious liberty.’…

“The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the immigration order as a ‘Muslim ban’ in all but name, and vowed to keep fighting it in court…”

President Trump Charges President Obama with Illegal Wire-Tapping

The Washington Post wrote von March 4:

“Trump offered no citations nor did he point to any credible news report to back up his accusation [that President Obama had ordered to wire-tap his phone], but he may have been referring to commentary on Breitbart… suggesting that Obama and his administration used ‘police state’ tactics last fall to monitor the Trump team…

“Some current and former intelligence officials cast doubt on Trump’s assertion. ‘It’s highly unlikely there was a wiretap,’ said one former senior intelligence official familiar with surveillance law…: ‘It seems unthinkable. If that were the case by some chance, that means that a federal judge would have found that there was either probable cause that he had committed a crime or was an agent of a foreign power’…”

What’s the Evidence?

The Daily Mail wrote on March 4:

“During the summer last year, the Obama administration filed a request with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to monitor communications involving Trump and several advisers but the request was denied, according to Heat Street former editor, Louise Mensch. Just a day before the 2016 election, Mensch reported that ‘sources with links to the counter-intelligence community’ confirmed that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) had granted a FISA court warrant in October to monitor activities in Trump tower…

“On Wednesday, a New York Times report said [that in] January, American law enforcement and intelligence agencies examined intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of Trump… The FBI led the investigations… Investigators found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing… One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House.”

In an interview with Fox on March 6, Louise Mensch clarified that she never reported that the court warrant in October authorized wire-tapping of Donald Trump; and that she had no evidence whatsoever that President Obama had ordered such a procedure.  

FBI Denies President Trump’s Claims

The New York Times wrote on March 5:

“The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones… but the department has not released any such statement.

“Mr. Comey’s request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump’s truthfulness…

“The White House showed no indication that it would back down from Mr. Trump’s claims. On Sunday, the president demanded a congressional inquiry into whether Mr. Obama had abused the power of federal law enforcement agencies…

“It is not clear why Mr. Comey did not issue a statement himself… the F.B.I. keeps its own records and is in a position to know whether Mr. Trump’s claims are true… no law prevents Mr. Comey from issuing the statement…

“A spokesman for Mr. Obama and his former aides have called the accusation by Mr. Trump completely false, saying that Mr. Obama never ordered any wiretapping of a United States citizen…”

“Trump Could Lose Libel Lawsuit If Obama Chose to Sue”

On March 7, The Chicago Sun-Times published the following article by Geoffrey R. Stone, the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago:

“Although the Supreme Court has given substantial protection under the First Amendment to those who inadvertently make false statements in public debate, the Court in its landmark 1964 decision in New York Times v. Sullivan made perfectly clear that even a public official can sue for libel if another individual makes a false and defamatory statement about him, if the person who made the statement acted either with knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth…

“Now… Trump unambiguously accused former President Barack Obama of criminal conduct. In so doing, Trump committed the quintessential libel. It would be truly fascinating if Obama were now to sue Trump for defamation. If Obama did sue Trump, he could almost certainly ‘win lots of money’ from him. Indeed, there seems no doubt that Trump’s statement was false, defamatory, and at the very least made with reckless disregard for the truth. Such a lawsuit would be amusing and entertaining beyond belief. Of course, this will not happen.”

The Independent added the following on March 9:

“Noah Feldman, a professor at Harvard Law School, said the unsubstantiated claims, if proved false, could be a ‘major scandal’ that ‘could get the current president impeached’. ‘If the alleged action would be impeachable if true, so must be the allegation if false’…”

Obama Furious

The Business Insider wrote on March 8:

“Former President Barack Obama is said to be ‘furious’ about President Donald Trump’s  unproven claim… People close to Obama told The Wall Street Journal in a story published Tuesday night that Obama was ‘livid’ about Trump’s unfounded accusations…”

Repeal and Replace Obamacare?

The Associated Press/Newsmax reported on March 6:

“House Republicans on Monday released their long-awaited plan for unraveling former President Barack Obama’s health care law… launching what could be the year’s defining battle in Congress. GOP success is by no means a slam dunk. In perhaps their riskiest political gamble, the plan is expected to cover fewer than the 20 million people insured under Obama’s overhaul…

“The plan would repeal the statute’s unpopular fines on people who don’t carry health insurance. It would replace income-based premium subsidies in the law with age-based ones that may not provide as much assistance to people with low incomes… The proposal would continue the expansion of Medicaid to additional low-earning Americans until 2020. After that, states adding Medicaid recipients would no longer receive the additional federal funds Obama’s law has provided…

“Popular consumer protections in the Obama law would be retained, such as insurance safeguards for people with pre-existing medical problems [including no cap on permanent illnesses], and parents’ ability to keep young adult children on their insurance until age 26.”

The Los Angeles Times added on March 6:

“The House GOP plan… stepped back from several of the more controversial ideas that had been on the table. For example, the legislation no longer proposes to tax health benefits that Americans get through an employer.”

According to some news reports, even though the proposed plan rejects an individual mandate, it allows for a 30% penalty increase in premiums for all those who have had no insurance for at least two months. Further, the LA Times reported that virtually all California insurance policies would be ineligible for any tax credits, as they include State-mandated provisions for abortion coverage. Under the proposed plan, no tax credits would be given for insured under those insurance policies.

Breitbart reported on March 8:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a top conservative in the U.S. Senate… accused Paul Ryan of [deliberately] misleading President Donald Trump on the process and the level of support in the House for the bill that House GOP leadership—at Ryan’s direction—put forward this week… many Republican offices outside the House Freedom Caucus privately tell Breitbart News that as many as 70 or more House Republicans are opposed to Ryan’s plan…

“Paul is confident that conservative House and Senate Republicans will stick together, defeat this bill, and then work with President Trump to separate repeal and replacement into different bills passed on the same day down the road. The fact that Paul is saying Ryan is misleading Trump is an explosive charge, but is backed by the evidence of widespread mistrust in the House GOP conference over this bill and Ryan’s waning influence as Speaker—dislike of it extends far beyond the House Freedom Caucus, as Breitbart News can confirm.”

Keystone Pipeline Without American Steel

The Wall Street Journal wrote on March 3:

“The Keystone XL oil pipeline won’t use American steel in its construction, despite what President Donald Trump says. The language in the directive Mr. Trump issued in January applies to new pipelines or those under repair, said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday… Mr. Trump said as recently as last week that Keystone and the Dakota Access Pipeline must use U.S. steel ‘or we’re not building one.'”

He most certainly did say this… very clearly and unmistakably.

Hypocrisy in Politics?

The Daily Beast wrote on March 3:

“President Trump tweeted an image of Senator Chuck Schumer standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It depicts the two men seemingly cordially holding coffee and donuts. ‘We should start an immediate investigation into Sen Schumer and his ties to Russia and Putin. A total hypocrite!’ Trump wrote… Like [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions, Schumer has met with Russian officials from time to time. Unlike Sessions, however, there is no evidence of Schumer lying about such conversations…”

The hypocrisy in politics is stunning. To go back a while, Newt Gingrich, at that time Speaker of the House, demanded impeachment of Bill Clinton for lying about his extramarital affair, while Gingrich had an extra-marital affair at the same time. We all recall that President Clinton lied under oath, stating that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman,” and later alleged he did not understand the question and did not know what “sexual relations” meant. It has now became known that Vice President Mike Pence used a personal email account, while serving as Governor, while condemning Hillary Clinton for using a personal email account, while being the Secretary of State. Nancy Pelosi demanded the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for meeting with the Russian ambassador and denying it during his confirmation hearing, while she herself denied meeting with the Russian ambassador, until a photo surfaced showing her and the ambassador, whereupon she “clarified” that she meant to state that she never had a “solo meeting” with him.

May God’s Kingdom come soon.

USA Warns Israel over Annexation Policy

The Times of Israel wrote on March 6:

“Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday that Israel has received a direct message from US President Donald Trump’s administration warning of an ‘immediate crisis’ if the government were to annex the West Bank and apply Israeli sovereignty there… Liberman’s comments… came amid calls from some in the Likud and Jewish Home parties… for full Israeli annexation of the West Bank.

“… coalition lawmakers agreed over the weekend to delay a contentious vote on extending Israeli sovereignty to the Jerusalem-area settlement of Ma’ale Adumim… until March 12. The proposed legislation… has already been postponed several times in recent months…

“While Trump has indicated he could be more tolerant of Israeli settlements than the Obama administration was, Netanyahu on Monday reportedly said the two leaders had yet to cement an agreement regarding his government’s policies in the West Bank…”

Moving US Embassy to Jerusalem?

JTA wrote on March 5:

“A delegation from the U.S. House of Representatives visited Israel for one day, during which they were to visit possible sites in Jerusalem for the American Embassy… The delegation was led by subcommittee chairman Rep. Ron DeSantis [who] told reporters… that U.S. President Donald Trump intends to honor his campaign pledge to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“DeSantis told Breitbart News in an interview on Sunday that he thought the U.S. consulate in the upscale Arnona neighborhood of southern Jerusalem would be a good place to house a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.”

Israel Bars Entry for Supporters of Boycott of Jewish State

The Guardian and AFP wrote on March 6:

“Israel’s parliament has passed into law a bill barring entry into the country to those supporting a boycott of the Jewish state… ‘A visa will not be granted nor a residence permit of any kind to any person who is not an Israeli citizen or permanent resident if he, or the organisation or body in which he is active, has knowingly issued a public call to boycott the state of Israel or pledged to take part in such a boycott,’ the statement [of the parliament] said.”

Iran’s Provocations

Breitbart reported on March 6:

“On Saturday, several fast-attack boats of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) approached a U.S. Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz at high speed in the latest ‘unsafe and unprofessional’ action by Iranian forces. A U.S. official… said the IRGCN boats came within 600 yards of the USNS Invincible, a tracking ship, and stopped. The Invincible was being accompanied by three ships from [the] British Royal Navy and forced the formation to change course. The official said attempts were made to communicate over radio, but there was no response…

“The ‘unsafe’ encounter came just two days after an Iranian navy frigate came within 150 yards of the Invincible in the Gulf of Oman, just south of the Strait of Hormuz. The gulf separates Oman from southeastern Iran. The earlier encounter was deemed ‘unprofessional’ but not unsafe because the frigate maintained a parallel course with the Invincible at the point of closest approach. The Saturday incident was also more worrying as it involved the elite Revolutionary Guard unit.

“According to Fox News, Iran test-fired a pair of ballistic missiles into the Gulf of Oman over the weekend. It was the first time Fateh-110 short-range ballistic missiles have been tested in two years. One of the missiles successfully destroyed a target barge at a range of 155 miles. The other missed its target…

“Sky News recalls that President Donald Trump ‘vowed that Iranian ships which intimidate the U.S. Navy would be “shot out of the water”’ during his presidential campaign.”

The Times of Israel added on March 6:

“US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to discuss the Iranian nuclear deal and the regime’s recent belligerent acts. The two leaders talked ‘at length’ about the ‘dangers emanating from Iran and Iranian aggression in the region and the need to work together to deal with these threats,’ according to a readout from the Prime Minister’s Office.”

North Korea’s Threatening and Provocative Actions

Bloomberg wrote on March 5:

“Japan moved to the highest possible alert level after North Korea fired four ballistic missiles simultaneously into nearby waters… Three of the missiles fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone…

“The launches ‘clearly show that this is a new level of threat’ from North Korea, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told lawmakers in Tokyo… North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities have really improved, and they are becoming more difficult to predict [and] are getting closer to Japan’s waters and territory.’”

The Washington Examiner wrote on March 6:

“… the Pentagon responded with a bold boast: If the missile had targeted the United States, Japan, South Korea or any other ally, the U.S. would have blasted it out of the sky… Yet critics continue to question the capability and reliability of America’s multi-layered missile shield…

“If North Korea were to make good on its threat to develop a missile with the range to strike the U.S. mainland, commanders would rely on the most expensive, and controversial, layer of the missile shield…  The last test of this complex system, which is billed as being able to identify and destroy an incoming warhead in space, was in 2014. It was reported as a successful ‘hit,’ but the three previous tests were misses, raising questions whether in real-world crisis it could be depended on to perform as advertised…

“One way to increase the odds of success if the U.S. faced real incoming North Korean missiles with a possible nuclear warhead would be to fire not one, but a half-dozen interceptors…”

The Washington Post wrote on March 7:

“North Korea was practicing to strike United States military bases in Japan with its latest barrage of missiles, state media in Pyongyang reported Tuesday, and it appeared to be trying to outsmart a new American antimissile battery being deployed to South Korea by firing multiple rockets at once.”

Europe Responds to Erdogan’s Threats and Attacks

Express wrote on March 6:

“President Erdogan has launched a series of attacks on Berlin after officials cancelled rallies aimed at courting an estimated 1.5 million ethnic Turkish voters in Germany before an upcoming referendum. The Turkish leader accused Germany of Nazi-type behaviour after the pro-Erdogan rallies were banned, in a widening European Union backlash that also includes Austria and the Netherlands. President Erdogan told a rally in Istanbul: ‘We will talk about Germany’s actions in the international arena and we will put them to shame in the world’s eyes. If I want to, I will come to Germany. If you don’t let me in or if you don’t let me speak, I will make the whole world rise up!’

“In a separate sickening attack, President Erdogan said: ‘Your actions are no different from what the Nazis used to do… We no longer want to see the Nazi world. We don’t want to see the practices of those fascist regimes.’

“Austria had already banned pro-Erdogan rallies, with their chancellor, Christian Kern, saying there should be an EU-wide ban. ‘A collective EU response to prevent such campaign events would make sense so that individual countries like Germany where appearances are forbidden don’t end up being pressured by Turkey,’ he said… Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte also weighed in on the debate, writing on Facebook: ‘We believe that the Dutch public space is not the place to conduct another country’s political campaign.’…

“German politicians have reacted angrily to the Turk’s comments. Justice minister Heiko Maas labelled his comments as ‘absurd, disgraceful and outlandish’. The ban comes after Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel was arrested in Turkey. President Erdogan called Mr Yucel a ‘German agent’ and has accused Germany of ‘aiding and harbouring terror.’”

Deutsche Welle wrote on March 5:

“With just 10 days until the Netherlands elects its new government, [far-right populist leader Geert] Wilders delivered a statement to reporters in which he slammed plans by Turkish officials to campaign in the European country… He went on to call for a ban on the politicians from entering the country, saying in English, ‘… I would call the whole cabinet of Turkey persona non-grata for a month or two, not allowing them to come here.’

“Wilders… also said the Dutch government was weak for not banning the rally and referred to Erdogan as an ‘Islamo-fascist leader.’… The 53-year-old has vowed that if elected he will pull the Netherlands out of the EU, ban the sale of Korans, close mosques and Islamic schools, shut Dutch borders and ban Muslim migrants.”

Deutsche Welle wrote on March 6:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel [said] on Monday… ‘What makes it really serious – and in my opinion even rather sad – is that Nazi comparisons only ever lead to one thing, namely that the incomprehensible suffering of the victims of National Socialism is cheapened. And that’s why such statements automatically disqualify themselves…’ In an attempt to diffuse tensions, Merkel spoke with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on the phone on Saturday, only for Erdogan to lash out at Berlin hours later.”

Dictator Erdogan is one to talk… This constitutes another example of blatant hypocrisy. The irony is that due to Turkey’s ongoing hatred towards Israel, it will ultimately collaborate with Europe in attacking the Jewish state.

EU Looks for Other Trading Partners Than USA

Bloomberg wrote on March 5:

U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist stance may propel Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American economic powers into market-opening alliances with the European Union, a top EU official said… Trump’s rejection of multilateral commercial deals and border-tax threat are giving impetus to the 28-nation bloc’s push for free-trade or investment pacts with countries including Japan, China, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina…

“After sealing a landmark free-trade agreement with Canada, the EU [called a “trade superpower”] is seeking to make progress on a slew of commercial goals…”

Is a Trade War Coming between Europe and the USA?

Euractiv wrote on March 8:

“America’s new governing party wants to reduce the price of US exports, but are preparing a 20% ‘equalisation tax’ in return that would apply to goods imported into the United States. This would violate WTO [Word Trade Organization] rules. The European Union is threatening to bring an action before the WTO in response. But Trump has repeatedly floated the possibility that the United States might leave the organisation. This would mean that the US would avoid any possible sanctions…”

German Current and Future Presidents Very Worried about President Trump

AFP/The Local wrote on March 3:

“Outgoing President Joachim Gauck criticized US President Donald Trump in an interview on Friday… ‘It worries me a lot that the American President is putting some things into [question] that generations of other Americans have achieved with Europeans,’ said Gauck. The German President further condemned Trump’s fraught relationship with the media as he has referred to many major news outlets as ‘the enemy of the American people’. ‘This damages democracy,’ Gauck said.

“He also said that the ‘many law-abiding US citizens will not forget’ how Trump has rallied against his other perceived opponents…  The German leader further said that while the United States used to be a ‘place people longed for’ and a ‘role model’, it currently is not such things.

“Trump’s administration has come in for criticism from a number of German politicians… Before Trump was elected, Gauck said he was worried about the country electing the ‘unpredictable’ real estate mogul. Gauck’s successor, former Foreign Minister Steinmeier, has been called the ‘anti-Trump’ for his outspoken criticism of the American leader.”

Visa Requirements for Americans Visiting Europe?

Deutsche Welle wrote on March 7:

“The European Parliament’s resolution demanding visas from Americans​​​​​​​ unless the US lifts restrictions on all EU countries sent many prospective tourists scrambling last week.  Reading the headlines, Andrea Schoellkopf of Albuquerque, New Mexico was among those panicking about how this might affect the summer trip to Israel and Europe she’d been carefully choreographing for months as a gift to her son for his high school graduation. That she might face barriers to visiting London, Paris or Brussels had been the last thing on her mind…

“US citizens currently enjoy visa-free travel throughout the EU. However, the March 2 resolution reminded the European Commission that it is now legally obliged to temporarily require visas for US citizens because Washington still requires visas from citizens of EU member Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania. Lawmakers emphasize a two-year waiting period ended April 12, 2016 and now demand the commission act ‘within two months.’

“That the measure is non-binding failed to assuage many in corporate America… The head of the parliamentary committee which prepared the resolution, British lawmaker Claude Moraes, notes that Americans have had the better end of this deal for many years now… Moraes expects the commission to seek a resolution with the US this summer at a keenly-anticipated June summit. If none is forthcoming, he explains, the commission is bound – even overdue – to… impose the visas for one year, unless there are objections from the European Council or the European Parliament. He acknowledges there are serious political and commercial interests at stake but doesn’t think those should be allowed to override the lack of reciprocity…

“Back in New Mexico, Andrea Schoellkopf accepts the demand for reciprocity as reasonable, while hoping there will be a resolution. ‘If our current government is going to impose travel restrictions on residents of other countries, those countries certainly have the right to do the same for Americans,’ she said. “…  it saddens me to think that we may no longer be able to travel as freely in the world as we have enjoyed.’

“Lawyer Andreia Ghimis says… both sides are fairly unpredictable at the moment… ‘for now it’s a wait-and-see game on both sides.’”

Hungary’s Drastic Steps Against Migrants

Deutsche Welle report on March 7:

“Hungarian lawmakers have approved a controversial measure to detain all asylum-seekers in camps along the country’s southern border… The new legislation, which passed by a majority on Tuesday, prevents asylum-seekers from moving around or leaving the country until their claims have been processed. Instead, they are to be detained and transferred to container camps set up on the heavily fortified border with Serbia…

“The law reinstates Hungary’s practice of detaining asylum applicants, which it suspended in 2013 after facing pressure from Brussels, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the European Court of Human Rights.

“[Prime Minister Viktor] Orban has called migrants, many of whom are Muslims, a threat to Europe’s Christian identity and culture. His government has also built razor-wire fences on its borders with Serbia and Croatia…”

Two Speed Europe Coming

Deutsche Welle wrote on March 6:

“The concept of ‘multi-speed Europe’ would see some EU countries grow more united on economic and defense matters, while allowing other states to catch up later, the leaders of four [of the] EU’s biggest economies said at an informal summit on Monday. The meeting was hosted by French President Francois Hollande, who welcomed Germany’s Angela Merkel, Italy’s Paolo Gentiloni, and Spain’s Mariano Rajoy in Versailles… One of the priorities, according to the French president, is [the] creation of a European defense force to cooperate with NATO…

“His comments were echoed by Angela Merkel, the leader of Europe’s largest economy. ‘A multi-speed Europe is necessary; otherwise we are blocked,’ she said. ‘We must have the courage to accept that some countries can move forward a little more quickly than others.’

“The group also urged better protection of EU borders… the EU is expected to weigh its option for the future in the run-up to the Rome conference on March 25. The meeting [will be] marking 60 years since the EU was founded… The idea of varying degrees of unity between EU nations has been endorsed by Spain and Italy, as well as several other rich EU nations. Newer members, particularly Poland and Hungary, signaled their reservations.”

Donald Tusk Re-Elected as European Council President

Deutsche Welle reported on March 9:

“The Polish former prime minister will serve a second term in his new European role. His home country Poland, now governed by fierce opponents of Tusk’s, had sought to block him – Tusk himself acknowledged the ‘paradox.’… [Tusk] said the vote displayed European unity… ‘I will work with all of you without any exceptions because I am truly devoted to a united Europe,’ he said…

“Poland was the only country to vote against Tusk…  [Poland’s] party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski… said any talk of Poland wishing to leave the EU was ‘nonsense.’ Poland’s foreign minister… said that ‘a very dangerous European relationship is being born,’ and that, given Tusk’s appointment, ‘we know now that it is a Union under Berlin’s diktat.’

“… [The] European Council president… is responsible for chairing European Council meetings and representing the EU at international summits, typically along with the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker… Poland has vowed to block the summit’s final statement in protest of Tusk’s re-election. The statement must receive unanimous agreement in order for the results of the summit to take effect.”

A European Union Nuclear Weapons Program?

The New York Times wrote on March 6:

“An idea, once unthinkable, is gaining attention in European policy circles: a European Union nuclear weapons program. Under such a plan, France’s arsenal would be repurposed to protect the rest of Europe and would be put under a common European command, funding plan, defense doctrine, or some combination of the three. It would be enacted only if the Continent could no longer count on American protection.

“Though no new countries would join the nuclear club under this scheme, it would amount to an unprecedented escalation in Europe’s collective military power and a drastic break with American leadership. Analysts say that the talk… demonstrates the growing sense in Europe that drastic steps may be necessary to protect the postwar order in the era of a Trump presidency.

“… discussion of a so-called ‘Eurodeterrent’ has entered the mainstream — particularly in Germany, a country that would be central to any plan but where antinuclear sentiment is widespread…

“Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s former prime minister and now the head of its ruling party, provided the highest-level call for a European Union nuclear program in a February interview with a German newspaper. But the most important support has come from Roderich Kiesewetter, a lawmaker and foreign policy spokesman with Germany’s ruling party, who gave the nuclear option increased credibility by raising it shortly after President Trump’s election…

“The United States bases dozens of nuclear warheads in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands as both a quick-reaction force and a symbol of its guarantee to protect the Continent. Mr. Kiesewetter said his plan would provide a replacement or parallel program. This would require, he said, four ingredients: a French pledge to commit its weapons to a common European defense, German financing to demonstrate the program’s collective nature, a joint command and a plan to place French warheads in other European countries… This would require a doctrine, he said, allowing Europe to introduce nuclear weapons to a non-nuclear conflict. He compared it to the Israeli program, which is believed to allow for a nuclear strike against an overwhelming conventional attack…

“German lawmakers across the political spectrum worry that Mr. Trump could strike a grand bargain with Russia that excludes Europe, a potential first step toward Washington and Moscow dictating Europe’s future. Mr. Kiesewetter believes a European nuclear program would allow Europe to preserve its autonomy…

“Vipin Narang, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who studies regional nuclear powers, was initially skeptical but came to see such a plan as both technically and politically feasible… If Europeans grew more serious about a nuclear program, Mr. Tertrais said, ‘you would not necessarily see it.’ Negotiations would most likely remain secret for fear of giving Mr. Trump an excuse to withdraw — or of triggering a reaction from Russia. Mr. Narang said he was reeling from the seriousness of the discussion, the first since a failed and now-forgotten effort in the 1950s for French-German-Italian nuclear cooperation…”

New EU Headquarters for Military Training

The New York Times wrote on March 6:

“Foreign and defense ministers of European Union members reached a deal on Monday to create a headquarters for military training operations… France and Germany support the proposal and have pressed the European Union to do more to ensure its own defense and counter the threat of terrorism.

“Britain has long opposed anything that resembled a European military command — but it has voted to leave the European Union, and that has altered the dynamic of the debate. With the United States appearing to take a step back in its role in the world, the core pair of France and Germany is pushing the European Union to take greater responsibility for its security…

“‘The European Union always takes a soft approach to hard security, but we also have some hard power that we are strengthening,’ Federica Mogherini, the European Union foreign policy chief, said on Monday. The new office is ‘not the European army — I know there is this label going around — but it’s a more effective way of handling our military work,’ she added… ‘It’s a first step,’ said Didier Reynders, the Belgian foreign minister. As for ‘a European army, maybe later,’ he said.”

The EUObserver wrote on March 6:

“EU states agreed to set up a new HQ for military training missions on Monday… in what some see as the nucleus of a future European army. The HQ, to be called a Military Planning and Conduct Capability facility, will be housed in an EU building… in Brussels which already hosts EU military experts, the EU Military Staff.”

More Turmoil regarding Brexit

BBC News reported on March 7:

“The government has suffered a second Brexit defeat in the House of Lords as peers backed, by 366 votes to 268, calls for a ‘meaningful’ parliamentary vote on the final terms of withdrawal. Ministers said it was disappointing and they would seek to overturn the move when the bill returns to the Commons… The previous defeat was on the issue of guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens.

“…ministers insist the UK would leave the EU anyway irrespective of whether it was approved or not… government minister Lord Bridges said once Article 50 had been triggered, the process of leaving the EU was irrevocable and the amendment was totally unclear on what would happen if the UK and the EU were not able to agree a formal deal on the terms of exit. ‘We will leave with a deal or we will leave without a deal. That is the choice on offer.’…”

The Pope on Celibacy and the Populist Movement

America Magazine (“The Jesuit Review”) wrote on March 8:

“In a wide-ranging interview with the German weekly Die Zeit… Pope Francis briefly discussed the idea of allowing the ordination of married men to the Catholic priesthood. [The pope said:] ‘… voluntary celibacy is not a solution.’

“The church already allows the ordination of married men in Eastern Catholic churches outside their traditional territories and among Anglican and Episcopalian priests who were already married when they reunited with Rome…

“Commenting on the growing appeal of populist movements around the world, the pope noted Germany’s experience during the Weimar Republic and the rise of Adolf Hitler. ‘Populism always needs a Messiah,’ he said, ‘and also a justification: “We preserve the identity of the people!”’”

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