Story 1: District Court Judge in 9th Circuit Commits Judicial Fraud Makes Up A Violation of Law — Trump Executive Order Requires Existing Federal Laws Passed By Congress Be Enforced — Videos —
Sanctuary Cities, Fed Money, and 9th Circuit Judge Block!
CA Fed Judge: Pres Trump Can’t Punish Sanctuary Cities By Withholding Funds – Tucker Carlson
Judge Blocks Attempts To Withhold Funding For Sanctuary Cities
9th Circuit Court “Going Bananas”
A federal judge suspends Trump’s unenforced ban on funding for sanctuary cities. A showboating federal judge in San Francisco has issued an injunction against President Trump’s executive order cutting off federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities. The ruling distorts the E.O. beyond recognition, accusing the president of usurping legislative authority despite the order’s express adherence to “existing law.” Moreover, undeterred by the inconvenience that the order has not been enforced, the activist court — better to say, the fantasist court — dreams up harms that might befall San Francisco and Santa Clara, the sanctuary jurisdictions behind the suit, if it were enforced. The court thus flouts the standing doctrine, which limits judicial authority to actual controversies involving concrete, non-speculative harms.
Although he vents for 49 pages, Judge William H. Orrick III gives away the game early, on page 4. There, the Obama appointee explains that his ruling is about . . . nothing. That is, Orrick acknowledges that he is adopting the construction of the E.O. urged by the Trump Justice Department, which maintains that the order does nothing more than call for the enforcement of
That is, Orrick acknowledges that he is adopting the construction of the E.O. urged by the Trump Justice Department, which maintains that the order does nothing more than call for the enforcement of already existing law. Although that construction is completely consistent with the E.O. as written, Judge Orrick implausibly describes it as “implausible.”
Since Orrick ultimately agrees with the Trump Justice Department, and since no enforcement action has been taken based on the E.O., why not just dismiss the case? Why the judicial theatrics?
There appear to be two reasons.
The first is Orrick’s patent desire to embarrass the White House, which rolled out the E.O. with great fanfare. The court wants it understood that Trump is a pretender: For all the hullaballoo, the E.O. effectively did nothing. Indeed, Orrick rationalizes his repeated misreadings of what the order actually says by feigning disbelief that what it says could possibly be what it means. Were that the case, he suggests, there would have been no reason to issue the order in the first place.
Thus, taking a page from the activist left-wing judges who invalidated Trump’s “travel ban” orders, Orrick harps on stump speeches by Trump and other administration officials. One wonders how well Barack “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” Obama would have fared under the judiciary’s new Trump Doctrine: The extravagant political rhetoric by which the incumbent president customarily sells his policies relieves a court of the obligation to grapple with the inevitably more modest legal text of the directives that follow.
Of course, the peer branches of government are supposed to presume each other’s good faith in the absence of a patent violation of the law. But let’s put aside the unseemliness of Orrick’s barely concealed contempt for a moment, because he is also wrong. The proper purpose of an executive order is to direct the operations of the executive branch within the proper bounds of the law. There is, therefore, nothing untoward about an E.O. that directs the president’s subordinates to take enforcement action within the confines of congressional statutes.
In fact, it is welcome.
It is the president’s burden to set federal law-enforcement priorities. After years of Obama’s lax enforcement of immigration law and apathy regarding sanctuary jurisdictions, an E.O. openly manifesting an intent to execute the laws vigorously can have a salutary effect. And indeed, indications are that the cumulative effect of Trump’s more zealous approach to enforcement, of which the sanctuary-city E.O. is just one component, has been a significant reduction in the number of aliens seeking to enter the U.S. illegally.
In any event, eight years of Obama’s phone and pen have made it easy to forget that the president is not supposed to make law, and thus that we should celebrate, not condemn, an E.O. that does not break new legal ground. Orrick, by contrast, proceeds from the flawed premise that if a president is issuing an E.O., it simply must be his purpose to usurp congressional authority. Then he censures Trump for a purported usurpation that is nothing more than a figment of his own very active imagination.
Orrick’s second reason for issuing his Ruling About Nothing is to rationalize what is essentially an advisory opinion. It holds — I know you’ll be shocked to hear this — that if Trump ever did try to cut off funds from sanctuary cities, it would be an epic violation of the Constitution. Given that courts are supposed to refrain from issuing advisory opinions, the Constitution is actually more aggrieved by Orrick than by Trump. * * *
In a nutshell, the court claims that the E.O. is presidential legislation, an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers. Orrick insists that the E.O. directs the attorney general and the secretary of homeland security to cut off any federal funds that would otherwise go to states and municipalities if they “willfully refuse to comply” with a federal law (Section 1373 of Title 8) that calls for state and local cooperation in enforcing immigration law.
According to Judge Orrick, Trump’s E.O. is heedless of whether Congress has approved any terminations of state funding from federal programs it has enacted. In one of the opinion’s most disingenuous passages, Orrick asserts that the E.O. “directs the Attorney General and the [Homeland Security] Secretary to ensure that ‘sanctuary jurisdictions’ are ‘not eligible to receive’ federal grants.” (Emphasis in original.)
But this is just not true; Orrick has omitted key context from the relevant passage, which actually states that “the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants.” (Emphasis added.) In plain English, the president has expressly restricted his subordinates to the limits that Congress has enacted. Under Trump’s order, there can be no suspension or denial of funding from a federal program unless congressional statutes authorize it. The president is not engaged in an Obama-
Of course, the peer branches of government are supposed to presume each other’s good faith in the absence of a patent violation of the law. But let’s put aside the unseemliness of Orrick’s barely concealed contempt for a moment, because he is also wrong. The proper purpose of an executive order is to direct the operations of the executive branch within the proper bounds of the law. There is, therefore, nothing untoward about an E.O. that directs the president’s subordinates to take enforcement action within the confines of congressional statutes. In fact, it is welcome.
It is the president’s burden to set federal law-enforcement priorities. After years of Obama’s lax enforcement of immigration law and apathy regarding sanctuary jurisdictions, an E.O. openly manifesting an intent to execute the laws vigorously can have a salutary effect. And indeed, indications are that the cumulative effect of Trump’s more zealous approach to enforcement, of which the sanctuary-city E.O. is just one component, has been a significant reduction in the number of aliens seeking to enter the U.S. illegally. In any event, eight years of Obama’s phone and pen have made it easy to forget that the president is not supposed to make law, and thus that we should celebrate, not condemn, an E.O. that does not break new legal ground. Orrick, by contrast, proceeds from the flawed premise that if a president is issuing an E.O., it simply must be his purpose to usurp congressional authority. Then he censures Trump for a purported usurpation that is nothing more than a figment of his own very active imagination.
Orrick’s second reason for issuing his Ruling About Nothing is to rationalize what is essentially an advisory opinion. It holds — I know you’ll be shocked to hear this — that if Trump ever did try to cut off funds from sanctuary cities, it would be an epic violation of the Constitution. Given that courts are supposed to refrain from issuing advisory opinions, the Constitution is actually more aggrieved by Orrick than by Trump. * * *
In a nutshell, the court claims that the E.O. is presidential legislation, an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers. Orrick insists that the E.O. directs the attorney general and the secretary of homeland security to cut off any federal funds that would otherwise go to states and municipalities if they “willfully refuse to comply” with a federal law (Section 1373 of Title 8) that calls for state and local cooperation in enforcing immigration law. According to Judge Orrick, Trump’s E.O. is heedless of whether Congress has approved any terminations of state funding from federal programs it has enacted. In one of the opinion’s most disingenuous passages, Orrick asserts that the E.O. “directs the Attorney General and the [Homeland Security] Secretary to ensure that ‘sanctuary jurisdictions’ are ‘not eligible to receive’ federal grants.” (Emphasis in original.)
But this is just not true; Orrick has omitted key context from the relevant passage, which actually states that “the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants.” (Emphasis added.)
In plain English, the president has expressly restricted his subordinates to the limits that Congress has enacted. Under Trump’s order, there can be no suspension or denial of funding from a federal program unless congressional statutes authorize it. The president is not engaged in an Obama-esque rewrite of federal law; he explicitly ordered his subordinates to follow federal law.
It is not enough to say Orrick mulishly ignores the clear text of the executive order. Again and again, Justice Department lawyers emphasized to the court that Trump’s order explicitly reaffirmed existing law. Orrick refused to listen because, well, what fun would that be? If the president is simply directing that the law be followed, there is no basis for a progressive judge to accuse him of violating the law.
Were he to concede that, how would Orrick then win this month’s Social Justice Warrior in a Robe Award for Telling Donald Trump What For? Orrick can’t confine himself to merely inventing a violation, either, because there is no basis for a lawsuit unless a violation results in real damages. So, the judge also has to fabricate some harm. This takes some doing since, in addition to merely directing that the law be enforced, the Trump administration has not actually taken any action against any sanctuary jurisdiction to this point.
No problem: Orrick theorizes that because San Francisco and Santa Clara receive lots of government funding, Trump’s order afflicts them with “pre-enforcement” anxiety. They quake in fear that their safety-net and services budgets will be slashed. Sanctuary cities? Maybe we should call them snowflake cities. As noted above, there is a transparent agenda behind Orrick’s sleight of hand. The judge is keen to warn the president that, if ever his administration were to deny funds to sanctuary cities, it would violate the Constitution. It is in connection with this advisory opinion that the judge makes the only point worthy of consideration — albeit not in the case before him. Here, it is useful to recall the Supreme Court’s first Obamacare ruling.
Sanctuary cities? Maybe we should call them snowflake cities.
As noted above, there is a transparent agenda behind Orrick’s sleight of hand. The judge is keen to warn the president that, if ever his administration were to deny funds to sanctuary cities, it would violate the Constitution. It is in connection with this advisory opinion that the judge makes the only point worthy of consideration — albeit not in the case before him. Here, it is useful to recall the Supreme Court’s first Obamacare ruling.
Sanctuary cities? Maybe we should call them snowflake cities. As noted above, there is a transparent agenda behind Orrick’s sleight of hand. The judge is keen to warn the president that, if ever his administration were to deny funds to sanctuary cities, it would violate the Constitution. It is in connection with this advisory opinion that the judge makes the only point worthy of consideration — albeit not in the case before him. Here, it is useful to recall the Supreme Court’s first Obamacare ruling.
As noted above, there is a transparent agenda behind Orrick’s sleight of hand. The judge is keen to warn the president that, if ever his administration were to deny funds to sanctuary cities, it would violate the Constitution. It is in connection with this advisory opinion that the judge makes the only point worthy of consideration — albeit not in the case before him. Here, it is useful to recall the Supreme Court’s first Obamacare ruling.
While conservatives inveighed against Chief Justice Roberts’s upholding of the individual mandate, the decision had a silver lining: The majority invalidated Obamacare’s Medicaid mandate, which required the states, as a condition of qualifying for federal Medicaid funding, to enforce the federal government’s generous new Medicaid qualifications. In our system, the states are sovereign — the federal government may not dictate to them in areas of traditional state regulation, nor may it conscript them to enforce federal law. The Supremes therefore explained that state agreements to accept federal funding in return for adopting federal standards (e.g., to accept highway funding in exchange for adopting the federally prescribed 55-mph speed limit) are like contracts. The state must agree to the federal government’s terms. Once such an agreement is reached, the feds may not unilaterally make material changes in the terms, nor may they use their superior bargaining position to extort a state into acceding to onerous new terms in order to get the federal money on which it has come to depend. Whether a particular case involves such an extortion, as opposed to a permissible nudge, depends on the facts. If the feds are too heavy-handed, they run the risk of violating the Tenth Amendment’s federalist division of powers.
Who knew federal judges in ur-statist San Francisco had become such federalists? Orrick contends that if Trump were to cut off funds from sanctuary cities for failure to assist federal immigration-enforcement officials, it would offend the Tenth Amendment. This is highly unlikely. First, let’s remember — though Orrick studiously forgets — that Trump’s order endorses only such stripping of funds as Congress has already approved. Thus, sanctuary jurisdictions would be ill-suited to claim that they’d been sandbagged.
Second, the money likely to be at issue would surely be nothing close to Medicaid funding. Finally, Trump would not be unilaterally rewriting an existing federal–state contract; he’d be calling for the states to follow federal laws that (a) were on the books when the states started taking federal money and (b) pertain to immigration, a legal realm in which the courts have held the federal government is supreme and the states subordinate. Still, all that said, whether any Trump-administration effort to cut off funding would run afoul of the Tenth Amendment would depend on such considerations as how much funding was actually cut; whether Congress had authorized the cut in designing the funding program; whether the funding was tightly related or unrelated to immigration enforcement; and how big a burden it would be for states to comply with federal demands. Those matters will be impossible to evaluate unless and until the administration actually directs a slashing of funds to a sanctuary jurisdiction. If that happens, there will almost certainly be no legal infirmity as long as Trump’s E.O. means what it says — namely, that any funding cuts must be consistent with existing federal law. But it hasn’t happened. And as long as it hasn’t happened, there is no basis for a court to involve itself, much less issue an anticipatory ruling. Such niceties matter only if you’re practicing law, though. Judge Orrick is practicing politics.
Thus, taking a page from the activist left-wing judges who invalidated Trump’s “travel ban” orders, Orrick harps on stump speeches by Trump and other administration officials. One wonders how well Barack “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” Obama would have fared under the judiciary’s new Trump Doctrine: The extravagant political rhetoric by which the incumbent president customarily sells his policies relieves a court of the obligation to grapple with the inevitably more modest legal text of the directives that follow.
Here, it is useful to recall the Supreme Court’s first Obamacare ruling. While conservatives inveighed against Chief Justice Roberts’s upholding of the individual mandate, the decision had a silver lining: The majority invalidated Obamacare’s Medicaid mandate, which required the states, as a condition of qualifying for federal Medicaid funding, to enforce the federal government’s generous new Medicaid qualifications.
In our system, the states are sovereign — the federal government may not dictate to them in areas of traditional state regulation, nor may it conscript them to enforce federal law. The Supremes therefore explained that state agreements to accept federal funding in return for adopting federal standards (e.g., to accept highway funding in exchange for adopting the federally prescribed 55-mph speed limit) are like contracts. The state must agree to the federal government’s terms. Once such an agreement is reached, the feds may not unilaterally make material changes in the terms, nor may they use their superior bargaining position to extort a state into acceding to onerous new terms in order to get the federal money on which it has come to depend. Whether a particular case involves such an extortion, as opposed to a permissible nudge, depends on the facts. If the feds are too heavy-handed, they run the risk of violating the Tenth Amendment’s federalist division of powers.
Who knew federal judges in ur-statist San Francisco had become such federalists?
Orrick contends that if Trump were to cut off funds from sanctuary cities for failure to assist federal immigration-enforcement officials, it would offend the Tenth Amendment. This is highly unlikely. First, let’s remember — though Orrick studiously forgets — that Trump’s order endorses only such stripping of funds as Congress has already approved. Thus, sanctuary jurisdictions would be ill-suited to claim that they’d been sandbagged. Second, the money likely to be at issue would surely be nothing close to Medicaid funding. Finally, Trump would not be unilaterally rewriting an existing federal–state contract; he’d be calling for the states to follow federal laws that (a) were on the books when the states started taking federal money and (b) pertain to immigration, a legal realm in which the courts have held the federal government is supreme and the states subordinate.
Still, all that said, whether any Trump-administration effort to cut off funding would run afoul of the Tenth Amendment would depend on such considerations as how much funding was actually cut; whether Congress had authorized the cut in designing the funding program; whether the funding was tightly related or unrelated to immigration enforcement; and how big a burden it would be for states to comply with federal demands. Those matters will be impossible to evaluate unless and until the administration actually directs a slashing of funds to a sanctuary jurisdiction.
If that happens, there will almost certainly be no legal infirmity as long as Trump’s E.O. means what it says — namely, that any funding cuts must be consistent with existing federal law. But it hasn’t happened. And as long as it hasn’t happened, there is no basis for a court to involve itself, much less issue an anticipatory ruling.
Such niceties matter only if you’re practicing law, though. Judge Orrick is practicing politics.
96.6 per cent of apprehensions by the Border Patrol in 2010 occurred at the southwest border. The number of Border Patrol apprehensions declined 61% from 1,189,000 in 2005 to 723,840 in 2008 to 463,000 in 2010. The decrease in apprehensions may be due to a number of factors including changes in U.S. economic conditions and border enforcement efforts. Border apprehensions in 2010 were at their lowest level since 1972. In March 2017 there were 17,000 apprehensions, which was the fifth month in a row of decline. In December 2016 apprehensions were at 58,478.
The 1,954-mile (3,145 km) border between the United States and Mexico traverses a variety of terrains, including urban areas and deserts. The barrier is located on both urban and uninhabited sections of the border, areas where the most concentrated numbers of illegal crossings and drug trafficking have been observed in the past. These urban areas include San Diego, California and El Paso, Texas. As of August 29, 2008, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had built 190 miles (310 km) of pedestrian border fence and 154.3 miles (248.3 km) of vehicle border fence, for a total of 344.3 miles (554.1 km) of fence. The completed fence is mainly in New Mexico, Arizona, and California, with construction underway in Texas.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that it had more than 580 miles (930 km) of fence in place by the second week of January 2009. Work is still under way on fence segments in Texas and on the Border Infrastructure System in California.
The border fence is not one continuous structure and is actually a grouping of short physical walls that stop and start, secured in between with “virtual fence” which includes a system of sensors and cameras monitored by Border Patrol Agents.
The government of Mexico and ministers of several Latin American countries condemned the plans. Rick Perry, governor of Texas, also expressed his opposition saying that instead of closing the border it should be opened more and through technology support legal and safe migration. The barrier expansion was also opposed by a unanimous vote of the Laredo, Texas City Council. Laredo’s Mayor, Raul G. Salinas, was concerned about defending his town’s people by saying that the Bill which included miles of border wall would devastate Laredo. He stated “These are people that are sustaining our economy by forty percent, and I am gonna [sic] close the door on them and put [up] a wall? You don’t do that. It’s like a slap in the face.” He hoped that Congress would revise the Bill to better reflect the realities of life on the border. There are no plans to build border fence in Laredo at this time.However, there is a large Border Patrol presence in Laredo.
On September 29, 2006, by a vote of 80–19 the U.S. Senate confirmed H.R. 6061 authorizing, and partially funding the “possible” construction of 700 miles (1,125 km) of physical fence/barriers along the border. The very broad support implied that many assurances were been made by the Administration—to the Democrats, Mexico, and the pro “Comprehensive immigration reform” minority within the GOP—that Homeland Security would proceed very cautiously. Secretary of Homeland SecurityMichael Chertoff, announced that an eight-month test of the virtual fence he favored would precede any construction of a physical barrier.
On October 26, 2006, President George W. Bush signed H.R. 6061 which was voted upon and passed by the 109th Congress of the United States. The signing of the bill came right after a CNN poll showed that most Americans “prefer the idea of more Border Patrol agents to a 700-mile (1,125-kilometer) fence.” The Department of Homeland Security has a down payment of $1.2 billion marked for border security, but not specifically for the border fence.
As of January 2010, the fence project had been completed from San Diego, California to Yuma, Arizona.[dubious– discuss] From there it continued into Texas and consisted of a fence that was 21 feet (6.4 m) tall and 6 feet (1.8 m) deep in the ground, cemented in a 3-foot (0.91 m)-wide trench with 5000 psi (345 bar; 352 kg/cm²) concrete. There were no fatalities during construction, but there were 4 serious injuries with multiple aggressive acts against building crews. There was one reported shooting with no injury to a crew member in Mexicali region. All fence sections are south of the All-American Canal, and have access roads giving border guards the ability to reach any point easily, including the dunes area where a border agent was killed 3 years before and is now sealed off.
The Republican Party’s 2012 platform stated that “The double-layered fencing on the border that was enacted by Congress in 2006, but never completed, must finally be built.” The Secure Fence Act’s costs were estimated at $6 billion, more than the Customs and Border Protection’s entire annual discretionary budget of $5.6 billion. The Washington Office on Latin America noted on its Border Fact Check site in about the year 2013 that the cost of complying with the Secure Fence Act’s mandate was the reason it had not been completely fulfilled.
Secretary Chertoff exercised his waiver authority on April 1, 2008. In June 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of a lower court ruling upholding the waiver authority in a case filed by the Sierra Club. In September 2008 a federal district court judge in El Paso dismissed a similar lawsuit brought by El Paso County, Texas.
By January 2009, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security had spent $40 million on environmental analysis and mitigation measures aimed at blunting any possible adverse impact that the fence might have on the environment. On January 16, 2009, DHS announced it was pledging an additional $50 million for that purpose, and signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of the Interior for utilization of the additional funding.
On March 16, 2010, the Department of Homeland Security announced that there would be a halt to expand the “virtual fence” beyond two pilot projects in Arizona.
Contractor Boeing Corporation had numerous delays and cost overruns. Boeing had initially used police dispatching software that was unable to process all of the information coming from the border. The $50 million of remaining funding would be used for mobile surveillance devices, sensors, and radios to patrol and protect the border. At the time, the Department of Homeland Security had spent $3.4 billion on border fences and had built 640 miles (1,030 km) of fences and barriers as part of the Secure Border Initiative.
In response to a perceived lack of will on the part of the federal government to build a secure border fence, and a lack of state funds, Arizona officials plan to launch a website allowing donors to help fund a state border fence.
Piecemeal fencing has also been established. In 2005, under its president, Ramón H. Dovalina, Laredo Community College, located on the border, obtained a 10-foot fence built by the United States Marine Corps. The structure was not designed as a border barrier per se but was intended to divert smugglers and illegal immigrants to places where the authorities can halt entrance into the United States.
In March 2017, President Donald Trump submitted a budget amendment for fiscal year (FY) 2017 that included an extra $3 billion for border security and immigration enforcement. Trump’s FY 2018 Budget Blueprint increases discretionary funds for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by $2.8 billion (to $44.1 billion). DHS would be the agency in charge of building the border wall.
According to Homeland Preparedness News, “Former members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection downplayed the idea that a wall alone would be enough to strengthen the U.S. southern border in a Senate hearing on [April 4, 2017], framing it as part of a broader strategy.”
One vocal critic of the wall is U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). She said during the hearing that while Americans want a secure border, she has “not met anyone that says the most effective way is to build a wall across the entirety of our southern border. The only one who keeps talking about that is President Trump.”
The barrier has been criticized for being easy to get around. Some methods include digging under it (sometimes using complex tunnel systems), climbing the fence (using wire cutters to remove barbed-wire) or locating and digging holes in vulnerable sections of the wall. Many Latin-Americans have also traveled by boat through the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Coast.
Tribal lands of three indigenous nations would be divided by the proposed border fence.
On January 27, 2008, a U.S. Native American human rights delegation, which included Margo Tamez (Lipan Apache-Jumano Apache) and Teresa Leal (Opata-Mayo) reported the removal of the official International Boundary obelisks of 1848 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the Las Mariposas, Sonora-Arizona sector of the Mexico–U.S. border. The obelisks were moved southward approximately 20 meters, onto the property of private landowners in Sonora, as part of the larger project of installing the 18-foot (5.5 m) steel barrier wall.
The proposed route for the border fence would divide the campus of the University of Texas at Brownsville into two parts, according to Antonio N. Zavaleta, a vice president of the university. There have been campus protests against the wall by students who feel it will harm their school. In August 2008, UT-Brownsville reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the university to construct a portion of the fence across and adjacent to its property. The final agreement, which was filed in federal court on Aug 5 and formally signed by the Texas Southmost College Board of Trustees later that day, ended all court proceedings between UTB/TSC and DHS. On August 20, 2008, the university sent out a request for bids for the construction of a 10-foot (3.0 m) high barrier that incorporates technology security for its segment of the border fence project. The southern perimeter of the UTB/TSC campus will be part of a laboratory for testing new security technology and infrastructure combinations. The border fence segment on the UTB campus was substantially completed by December 2008.
In the spring of 2007 more than 25 landowners, including a corporation and a school district, from Hidalgo and Starr County in Texas refused border fence surveys, which would determine what land was eligible for building on, as an act of protest.
In July 2008, Hidalgo County and Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the construction of a project that combines the border fence with a levee to control flooding along the Rio Grande. Construction of two of the Hidalgo County fence segments are under way; five more segments are scheduled to be built during the fall of 2008; the Hidalgo County section of the border fence will constitute 22 miles (35 km) of combined fence and levee.
Mexico-United States barrier at the pedestrian border crossing in Tijuana
In 2006, the Mexican government vigorously condemned the Secure Fence act of 2006. Mexico has also urged the U.S. to alter its plans for expanded fences along their shared border, saying that it would damage the environment and harm wildlife.
In June 2007, it was announced that a section of the barrier had been mistakenly built from 1 to 6 feet (2 meters) inside Mexican territory. This will necessitate the section being moved at an estimated cost of over $3 million (U.S.).
In 2012, then presidential candidate of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto was campaigning in Tijuana at the Playas de Monumental, less than 600 yards (550 m) from the U.S.–Mexico border adjacent to Border Field State Park. In one of his speeches he criticized the U.S. government for building the barriers, and asked for them to be removed. Ultimately, he mocked Ronald Reagan’s “Tear down this wall!” speech from Berlin in 1987.
The Wall at the border of Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego. The crosses represent migrants who died in the crossing attempt. Some identified, some not. Surveillance tower in the background.
Between 1994 and 2007, there were around 5,000 Migrant deaths along the Mexico–United States border, according to a document created by the Human Rights National Commission of Mexico, also signed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Between 43 and 61 people died trying to cross the Sonoran Desert from October 2003 to May 2004; three times that of the same period the previous year. In October 2004 the Border Patrol announced that 325 people had died crossing the entire border during the previous 12 months. Between 1998 and 2004, 1,954 persons are officially reported to have died along the US-Mexico border. Since 2004, the bodies of 1,086 migrants have been recovered in the southern Arizona desert.
U.S. Border Patrol Tucson Sector reported on October 15, 2008 that its agents were able to save 443 undocumented immigrants from certain death after being abandoned by their smugglers, during FY 2008, while reducing the number of deaths by 17% from 202 in FY 2007 to 167 in FY 2008. Without the efforts of these agents, hundreds more could have died in the deserts of Arizona. According to the same sector, border enhancements like the wall have allowed the Tucson Sector agents to reduce the number of apprehensions at the borders by 16% compared with fiscal year 2007.
“Wildlife-friendly” border wall in Brownsville, Texas, which would allow wildlife to cross the border. A young man climbs wall using horizontal beams for foot support.
In April 2008, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to waive more than 30 environmental and cultural laws to speed construction of the barrier. Despite claims from then Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff that the department would minimize the construction’s impact on the environment, critics in Arizona and Texas asserted the fence endangered species and fragile ecosystems along the Rio Grande. Environmentalists expressed concern about butterfly migration corridors and the future of species of local wildcats, the ocelot, the jaguarundi, and the jaguar.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducted environmental reviews of each pedestrian and vehicle fence segment covered by the waiver, and published the results of this analysis in Environmental Stewardship Plans (ESPs). Although not required by the waiver, CBP has conducted the same level of environmental analysis (in the ESPs) that would have been performed before the waiver (in the “normal” NEPA process) to evaluate potential impacts to sensitive resources in the areas where fence is being constructed.
ESPs completed by CBP contain extremely limited surveys of local wildlife. For example, the ESP for border fence built in the Del Rio Sector included a single survey for wildlife completed in November 2007, and only “3 invertebrates, 1 reptile species, 2 amphibian species, 1 mammal species, and 21 bird species were recorded.” The ESPs then dismiss the potential for most adverse effects on wildlife, based on sweeping generalizations and without any quantitative analysis of the risks posed by border barriers. Approximately 461 acres (187 ha) of vegetation will be cleared along the impact corridor. From the Rio Grande Valley ESP: “The impact corridor avoids known locations of individuals of Walker’s manioc and Zapata bladderpod, but approaches several known locations of Texas ayenia. For this reason, impacts on federally listed plants are anticipated to be short-term, moderate, and adverse.” This excerpt is typical of the ESPs in that the risk to endangered plants is deemed short-term without any quantitative population analysis.
By August 2008, more than 90 percent of the southern border in Arizona and New Mexico had been surveyed. In addition, 80 percent of the California/Mexico border has been surveyed.
Story 3: Trump’s Latest Tax Proposal — Good But Not Great — Missed Opportunity To Transition From An Income Tax Based System To A Broad Based Consumption Tax — FairTax or Fair Tax Less — Forget The Republican Establishment Border Adjustment Tax — Videos
Trump announces tax plan coming Wednesday
Trump Tax Plan Cuts Top Rate to 35 PercentBreaking Tonight ,
President Trump Latest News Today 4/26/17 , White House news , trump tax plan
The Lead with Jake Tapper April 26, 2017 – White House Reveals Plan for ‘Biggest Tax Cut in History’
Story 1: Bluff, Bombast, Bust, Bang, Boom–World War III With North Korea and Communist China? — Videos–
North Korea looking for a fight with US?
North Korea Threatens to Sink U.S. Aircraft Carrier
News Wrap: Trump calls North Korea situation ‘unacceptable’ – North Korea Fan
U.S BOMBERS ON HIGH ALERT After North Korea Threatens to Sink Approaching US Carrier
China warns North Korea could ‘cross the point of no return’ with sixth nuke test
North Korea reveals WHERE nuclear war with ‘fanatic’ US will break out
RARE! Entire US Senate to Go to White House for North Korea Briefing
U.S. aircraft carrier nears South Korea
Aircraft Carrier USS Carl Vinson CVN 70, Submarine USS Michigan, Target North Korea
Story 2: Operation Gotham Shield 2017 — Simulation of Nuclear and EMP Attack Over New York City — Videos
April 24-26 2017 — Operation Gotham Shield 2017
4/24/17 Why Operation Gotham Shield Needs Your Attention – Alex Jones Infowars
Why Operation Gotham Shield Needs Your Attention
Operation Gotham Shield | NYC & NJ on April 24th – 26th
What is an EMP? The 60 second answer
What’s an electromagnetic pulse attack?
Prepping For An EMP
JEANINE PIRRO: “Lights Out: The Danger to US Power Grid” – The EMP Threat
Are You Prepared For An EMP Attack?
Washington D.C. To Hold Massive “Coordinated Terror Attack” Drill This Wednesday
by Tyler Durden
Apr 25, 2017 5:17 AM
April 26th is shaping up to be a busy day.
As we reported on Friday, that’s when Operation Gotham Shield, an exercise involving FEMA, Homeland Security and a myriad of law enforcement and military agencies and which simulates a nuclear bomb blast over Manhattan, is set to conclude.
Then, as we learned earlier, April 26 is also when the entire Senate will be briefed by Donald Trump and his four top defense and military officials on the situation in North Korea at the White House, an event which Reuters dubbed as “unusual.”
April 26 is also when the USS Carl Vinson is expected to finally arrive off the coast of the Korean Penninsula.
Now, in a statement from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the regional association reports that “law enforcement officials and other first responders will participate in a full-scale exercise on April 26 designed to prepare for the possibility of a complex coordinated terror attack in the National Capital Region.”
The statement adds that emergency managers who work together at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) planned the exercise to help protect residents by preparing for an attack involving multiple target locations and teams of perpetrators.
The exercise will be conducted across a widespread geographical area. According to the release, the regional exercise will be staged at six sites in the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia, and will involve hundreds of police, fire, and emergency medical service personnel and volunteer actors.
The locations include neighborhoods in the northeast and southeast quadrants of the District of Columbia, Prince George’s County, and Arlington and Fairfax Counties. Residents in those neighborhoods will be notified ahead of time to expect the exercise.
According to Scott Boggs, Managing Director of Homeland Security and Public Safety at COG, “Law enforcement officials practice and exercise their skills on their own regularly because that’s the best way to ensure we are always ready to respond quickly and professionally. On April 26, we’ll go one step further and stage a very realistic emergency event involving multiple sites and actors posing as the casualties. However, there is no reason for residents to be alarmed because the exercise will occur in a controlled environment.”
The is scheduled to take place near or at George Mason University, and last from 8;30am until 4:30pm.
The statement also advises that the only media availability will be in a one hour block before the exercise, from 7:30am – 8:30am on April 26.
Operation Gotham Shield: Is there a connection between massive power outages and the nuclear EMP drill?
Posted onApril 22, 2017byState of the Nation
Are Today’s Massive Power Outages Really Secretly Part of the Operation Gotham Shield Nuclear EMP Drill?
When Russia holds a massive civil defense drill for nuclear war, the government informs its people and even includes them.When the US government does it however, they do it in secret, even using natural disasters as cover, meanwhile keeping the civilian population in the dark and telling them as little as possible.
The fact that there are massive power outages today of all days in San Francisco, LA and specifically New York City — causes reportedly still unknown at this time — seems like anything but a coincidence with everything else going on right now including a massive NYC-area 10 kiloton nuclear blast and EMP drill called Operation Gotham Shield.
The first massive power outage today occurred in New York City just before 6 am after the power inexplicably went down at the 7th avenue and 53rd street subway station, causing a chain reaction through the rest of NYC’s subway system. MTA did not get the generators back up and running until around 11:30. Delays are still rampant.
A few hours later, outages began being reported around Los Angeles, including at the LA airport.
This one is reportedly the worst. Some 90,000 people are still without power all around downtown San Francisco as of 1 pm this afternoon. Businesses are shuttered, transportation systems are shut down, whole skyscrapers are dark. People are calling the whole scene “surreal”. Again, the cause of the outage still has not been explained.
Operation Gotham Shield
All of this is coinciding with the Operation Gotham Shield drill being held in the NYC area; depending on who you ask, it’s even going on right now, but again, we civilians (read: peons) are being mostly kept in the dark about the huge drill. One set of dates says the drill started on April 18th and will run through May 5th. Another set of dates say the actual nuke/EMP simulation part of the drill won’t happen until April 24th–26th.
[Gotham Shield] is a tabletop, joint agency exercise involving FEMA, Homeland Security and a myriad of law enforcement and military agencies. WMD, chemical and biological units will all be on hand as a response is tested for a “simulated” nuclear detonation over the United States’ foremost urban center, in the iconic and densely populated island of Manhattan and nearby shores of New Jersey.
On April 18th thru May 5th, 2017, state, local, and federal organizations alike are planning for Operation Gotham Shield 2017 — a major nuclear detonation drill in the New York-New Jersey area, along with the U.S.-Canadian border. During this exercise, 4 nuclear devices, 2 of which are rendered “safe” during the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Vital Archer Exercise, and one successful 10kt detonation in the NYC/NJ area, along with one smaller detonation on the U.S./Canadian border are to take place.
Among the organizations involved are:
– U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
– U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)
– U.S. Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO)
– U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
– U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
– U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM)
– State of New Jersey Office of Emergency Management
– State of New York Office of Emergency Management
– City of New York Office of Emergency Management
And many more…
So the chances that we’re suddenly having totally random “unexplained” massive power outages in major cities, starting specifically in the one where this massive nuclear war/EMP drill is currently going down and it is all simply a coincidence seem poor at best.
The potential for a more explosive false flag to spin out of control, by hijacking and ‘converting’ the simulated actions, is all too real.
This is closely related to the mechanism that many researchers believe was at work on the day of 9/11, nesting a false flag attack inside of a series of large-scale training operations which invoked emergency powers and simulated attacks in locations that were actually hit.
President Trump reportedly backed off his demand that Congress include a down payment for a wall spanning the entire U.S.-Mexico border in a crucial spending bill that must pass by Friday night to keep the government funded.
Republican lawmakers have urged the president to focus on border security in general instead of the wall, which Democrats have called a poison pill that would cause them to reject the bill and shut down the government.
Trump told a group of conservative reporters he invited to the White House on Monday that he was open to getting funding for the wall in September when Congress debates the 2018 budget, the Associated Press reported. This is a sharp reversal from his position over the weekend and early Monday, when he doubled down on his demand for the wall. Trump tweeted repeatedly that the wall is necessary to stop the flow of drugs into the United States.
“If the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be!” Trump exclaimed Monday, adding: “#BuildTheWall.”
On Tuesday morning, the president claimed he had not changed his position on the wall as the “fake media” was claiming, but he didn’t specify whether he still believed he would get the funds in this week’s spending bill, which increasingly looks like a political impossibility.
The president may have realized that with Democrats ready to shut down the government over the wall and many lawmakers in his own party skeptical of it, there was little chance of reaching a deal on his signature campaign promise before the Friday night deadline. Some critics noted that Trump had long promised that Mexico — and not the U.S. — would pay for the wall’s construction.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., praised Trump in a statement for taking the wall “off the table.” He had earlier called the demand a “monkey wrench” the president had thrown into sensitive negotiations between the parties over a series of spending bills to keep the government funded for the next five months.
But it’s possible the president will find a way to declare victory even if his call for a wall goes unanswered by Congress. Several Republican senators urged the president to think of the “big, beautiful wall” he promised on the campaign trail as symbolic of border security in general. That way, the president could declare any increase in border spending in the spending bill a victory, right as his presidency passes the symbolic 100-day mark on Friday.
“Border walls and fences are part of an overall plan, but there will never be a 2,200-mile wall built. Period,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters Monday evening. “I think [the wall] has become symbolic for better border security. So it’s a code word for better border security.”
Graham said the president would still be in “good shape” if he gets funding for border security in the spending bill that’s not specifically for a wall.
Congress readies for border wall fight neither party seems to want
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., also pushed for interpreting “border wall” as border security in general. “I know it’s being generally referred to as a border wall, but I think it’s the efforts to make sure that Border Patrol can have adequate funding for the people, technology and infrastructure they think they need to secure [the border],” Tillis said. “I think we can be less prescriptive about exactly what the structure looks like and more focused on the fact that we need to secure the border.”
Both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Schumer have signaled openness to funding border security in the spending bill as long as it doesn’t go to construction of a wall or the “deportation force” Trump mentioned during the campaign. The Democrats could theoretically agree to funds for more surveillance technology on the border, or to hire and train more border patrol agents. But it’s harder to imagine them supporting an increase in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, since they enforce immigration laws internally in the United States and not at the borders.
Meanwhile, one of the president’s staunchest defenders in Congress defended the delay of the president’s campaign promise, urging Americans to be patient.
“He said we would build a wall and Mexico would pay for it, … but he never said when,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said Monday night on Fox Business. “Some things just take time and don’t occur real quick. I think that’s the way with the wall.”
Story 1: The Elites vs. The People Not Nationalism vs. Internationalism — Videos —
French election explained: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen go head to head
Nigel Farage on French election: Don’t write off Le Pen
[Video] Rush Limbaugh: French Election Mirrors U.S. 2016 Vote
As anti-establishment candidates advance, France’s political establishment unites against Le Pen
French election: What would Emmanuel Macron’s presidency mean for Britain? – BBC Newsnight
Published on Apr 24, 2017
Centrist Emmanuel Macron will face far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of the French presidential election.To learn more about the presidential candidate, Evan Davis has met up with Benjamin Griveaux, Mr Macron’s campaign spokesman.
PODCAST: The French Election Results and Their Impact
Why the French Election Is Critical and What We Learn from Emmanuel Macron’s Movement Versus Party
Angelo Codevilla – Does America Have a Ruling Class?
The Revolution of America’s Regime
456. The Iron Fist of the Ruling Class | Angelo Codevilla
George Carlin – It’s a Big Club and You Ain’t In It! The American Dream
Official first round result
With 107 of 107 departements counted | At 17:58 CEST
Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron Advance
For the first time in modern French history, neither candidate is from a major party.
Emmanuel Macron casts his ballot in the first round of French presidential election at a polling station in Le Touquet, France on April 23, 2017.Eric Feferberg / ReutersYASMEEN SERHANAPR 23, 2017
Macron and Le Pen’s strong showings Sunday, which saw an approximately 77 percent voter turnout (slightly lower than the 79 percent who voted in the first round in 2012), signaled a rebuke of the political establishment that has dominated French politics for decades. Macron launched his centrist party in August 2016 after he quit his role in President François Hollande’s Socialist government, and despite the party’s youth it boasts a quarter of a million members. Meanwhile, Le Pen’s FN secured the most votes it has ever received in its nearly half-century history, surpassing the 18-percent first-round finish it saw in 2012. Even Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the far-left candidate who ran under a movement called La France Insoumise, or “Unsubmissive France,” had his strongest performance to date. Though his last-minute surge in the polls wasn’t enough to propel him to the second round, he still managed to claim 19.5 percent of the vote, far surpassing the 11 percent he won during his first presidential bid in 2012.Republican candidate François Fillon also earned 19.5 percent of the vote, tying Mélenchon for third place. The center-right candidate and former prime minister enjoyed a comfortable lead early on in his campaign, but support wavered in January after his candidacy was embroiled by allegations he misused public funds to pay his wife, Penelope, and two of their children for parliamentary work they are alleged not to have performed. Fillon denied any wrongdoing, although the launch of a formal investigation into both him and his wife prompted several of his Republican allies to quit his campaign.Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon, who came in last of the main contenders with 6.2 percent of the vote, also suffered from fissures within his own party. Despite clinching a decisive victory during the January primary, Hamon failed to command the support of Socialist party leaders, many of whom, including former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, endorsed Macron instead. This, paired with the deeply unpopular presidency of Hollande and the competition of similarly far-left Mélenchon, made the ruling party’s poor showing all but certain. The results prompted the losing candidates to urge their supporters to back Macron. Hamon said there was a distinction between a political adversary and an “enemy of the Republic,” referring to Le Pen. Fillon warned that Le Pen would lead France to “ruin.”
The advancement of two non-traditional candidates will certainly have an impact on their ability to govern once they make it to the Élysée Palace. In the month following the presidential contest, French voters will return to the polls to elect members of the National Assembly, France’s lower but more powerful house of parliament. This election is particularly important because whoever becomes prime minister almost always comes from the party that controls the chamber and, at present, neither Le Pen’s FN (which claims two of the National Assembly’s 577 seats) or Macron’s En Marche (which claims none) are expected to command a majority. This makes cohabitation, in which the president must share power with the prime minister of a different party, almost certain. Though this power-sharing arrangement is not unprecedented in French political history, as Politico’s Pierre Briançon notes, it has never been a favorable one.
It reduces the head of state to a figurehead, akin to northern European monarchs or ceremonial presidents such as those of Germany or Italy. In those times, the prime minister holds most of the executive powers, save for those governing foreign policy and defense, which the constitution puts specifically in the president’s domain. …It has happened three times in postwar history — first from 1986 to 1988, when Socialist President François Mitterrand had to live with Jacques Chirac as prime minister. From 1993 to 1995, Mitterrand had to deal with another conservative premier, Édouard Balladur. And finally, from 1997 to 2002, President Chirac had to contend with Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
Macron and Le Pen now have two weeks ahead of the runoff to court the voters who backed their former competitors, as well as the estimated one-third of French voters who are still undecided. From the recent terrorist attack in Paris to the country’s 10 percent unemployment rate, issues such as security and the economy will likely remain at the forefront of the contest.
Outsiders Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen sweep to victory as France kicks out old guard: Europhile newcomer narrowly wins first vote to take on far-Right’s Madame Frexit for the presidency
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen and independent centrist Emmanuel Macron have made it to the second round
36.7million voted, a turnout of 78.2 per cent; Macron won 23.9 per cent of the vote, Le Pen 21.4
Republican candidate Francois Fillon conceded after initial results showed he achieved 19.5 per cent of vote
Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon refused to concede until final results of first-round vote announced
France’s Prime Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, has called on voters to support Macron instead of Le Pen
This is the first time in 60 years none of France’s mainstream parties have entered the second round
Riots broke out in Nantes and Paris’ Place de la Bastille – the birthplace of the French Revolution
By Emily Kent Smith In Paris For The Daily Mail and Isobel Frodsham and Nick Fagge In Paris and Gareth Davies and Peter Allen In Paris for MailOnline
PUBLISHED: 06:50 EDT, 23 April 2017 | UPDATED: 02:43 EDT, 24 April 2017
French voters turned their backs on the political establishment last night in round one of the presidential election.
Emmanuel Macron – an independent centrist – won first place ahead of National Front leader Marine Le Pen.
The result will have major implications for Britain and its departure from the EU.
Miss Le Pen wants to completely renegotiate France’s relationship with Brussels while Mr Macron wants closer links.
Scroll down for video
Marine Le Pen (left) and Emmanuel Macron (right) celebrated the initial results of the polls, which said they both made it to the second round of the election
Le Pen went to greet her supporters after the initial results and said: ”This is a historic result. The French must take the step for this historic opportunity. This is the first step to drive the French [people] into the Elysee Palace’
Supporters of Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, were seen waving their flags emblazoned with ‘Marine Presidente’ at her election headquarters in Henin-Beaumont, after the inital results were announced
Supporters of French centrist candidate Macron were also seen cheering in delight at the results and waving the French flag
Many people were seen hugging after initial results showed Macron winning 23.9 percent of the vote, beating France’s two main parties
According to France’s Interior Ministry, 46 million people voted in the first stage of the elections which knocked the traditional Right and Left parties out of the running for the first time in 60 years.
With 97 per cent of the vote counted, Macron achieved 23.9 per cent, followed by Le Pen on 21.4. A total of 36.7million voted, a turnout of 78.2 per cent.
But it is thought that Le Pen’s chances of winning the second round are limited as supporters for Republican candidate Francois Fillon, who conceded but has gained 19.9 per cent of the votes, will support Macron.
However, far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who gained 19.6 per cent, refused to concede until the final results of first-round vote were announced.
Macron took to the stage in Paris earlier, with his wife Brigitte, and urged national unity against Le Pen.
To chants of ‘Macron president!’ and ‘We’re going to win,’ Macron began his speech by paying tribute to his opponents, and praised his supporters for his lightning rise.
He said: ‘We have turned a page in French political history,’ and added he wants to gather ‘the largest possible’ support before May 7.
Macron acknowledged widespread anger at traditional parties and promised ‘new transformations’ in French politics.
At a rally last night, Le Pen told her supporters she is offering ‘the great alternative’ in the presidential race.
Crowds celebrate as Macron & Le Pen expected go through to next round
She added: ‘It is time to liberate the French people from the arrogant [political] elite.’ Le Pen was later given a bunch of flowers
Le Pen addresses supporters as she goes through to second round
She said: ‘This is a historic result. The French must take the step for this historic opportunity. This is the first step to drive the French [people] into the Elysee Palace.
‘It is time to liberate the French people from the arrogant [political] elite.’
Former favourite Fillon conceded and voiced his support for Macron after initial projections showed he and Melanchon got 19.5 per cent of the vote.
Shortly afterwards, France’s Prime Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, also called on voters to support Macron.
The outcome capped an extraordinary few months for a deeply divided France, which saw a campaign full of twists and turns and widespread anger at traditional parties.
It signals a stinging defeat for the Fillon and Socialist Benoit Hamon, meaning neither of France’s mainstream parties will be in the second round for the first time in 60 years.
Macron, a 39-year-old who had never before stood for election and only started his independent centrist movement 12 months ago, will be the overwhelming favourite to win the second round on May 7.
He served as an economy minister under President Francois Hollande, ran without the backing of an established party, forming his own called ‘En Marche!’.
His wife Brigitte is 25 years his senior and taught him at school.
Macron, a 39-year-old who had never before stood for election and only started his independent centrist movement, En Marche!, 12 months ago
Macron thanks supporters for campaign that changed French politics
He said he wants to gather ‘the largest possible’ support before the May 7 runoff. He praised his supporters for a campaign that ‘changed the course of our country’
Macron acknowledged widespread anger at traditional parties and promised ‘new transformations’ in French politics
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated Macron on Sunday and wished the centrist well for the May 7 French presidential runoff against Le Pen.
‘Juncker congratulated Macron on his result in the first round and wished him all the best for the next round,’ Margaritis Schinas said on Twitter.
Underlining broad support for Macron among leaders of the European Union institutions in Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini from the Italian centre-left added her congratulations to those of Juncker, a centre-right former prime minister of Luxembourg.
‘To see the flags of France and the EU hailing Emmanuel Macron’s result shows hope and the future of our generation,’ tweeted Mogherini, 43, after the 39-year-old Macron’s first-round victory speech to supporters was broadcast on television.
Last night he was congratulated by former Labour MP David Miliband and by former chancellor George Osborne.
Mr Miliband said: ‘Tremendous achievement by Emmanuel Macron. Bulwark against evil forces and tribune for modernization in France and Europe.’
Mr Osborne said: ‘Congratulations to my friend Emmanuel Macron. Proof you can win from the centre. At last the chance for the leadership that France needs.’
Fillon urges supporters to vote for Macron as he concedes
Despite his defeat, supporters for the election candidate far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon still cheered for him outside his election headquarters
Anti-fascist activists clashed with riot police in Paris’ Place de la Bastille – the birthplace of the French Revolution
Demonstrators in Nantes chanted anti-Le Pen slogans as they showed their opposition to the National Front leader
The euro has jumped 2 per cent on Sunday night, to more than 85p ($1.09), after projections showed Macron and Le Pen would go head to head.
Macron has vowed to reinforce France’s commitment to the EU and euro.
Stock markets will next open in Asia before Europe starts trading on Monday morning.
But despite stock markets around the world improving significantly, investors fretted beforehand that another unforseen election outcome could upend the market. In addition, the presidential race was plagued by controversy.
Republican candidate Fillon, 63, is accused of embezzling state money by paying his British wife Penelope, 61, as his assistant – despite her allegedly carrying out no work.
Le Pen faces a fraud inquiry, with her chief of staff accused of misusing EU funds while Melenchon, 65, had vowed to pull his country out of Europe and get rid of the euro.
Earlier this evening, Le Pen had security authorities on high alert, with rioting expected across the country in protest due to her election success.
More than 50,000 police and gendarmes were deployed to the 66,000 polling stations for Sunday’s election, which comes after Thursday’s deadly attack on the Champs-Elysees in which a police officer and a gunman were slain.
However, initial election results triggered riots across the country, initially sparked in Paris’ Place du la Bastille, the birthplace of the French Revolution, tonight against the Le Pen’s National Front.
The crowds of young people, some from anarchist and anti-fascist groups, gathered in eastern Paris as results were coming in from Sunday’s first-round vote.
Police fired tear gas to disperse an increasingly rowdy crowd. Riot police surrounded the area.
Protesters have greeted several of Le Pen’s campaign events, angry at her anti-immigration policies and her party, which she has sought to detoxify after a past tainted by racism and anti-Semitism.
There were angry scenes in Nantes in western France, where anti-fascists took to the streets to protest
Ballot boxes in Le Port, on the French overseas island of La Reunion were seen locked after the polls closed earlier this evening
Two officials were seen tipping out the votes ready to count them ahead of the results, which are expected to be announced within the hour
Le Pen has vowed to offer French voters a referendum to leave the EU and wants to leave the euro, known as Frexit.
Her father, the convicted racist and anti-Semite Jean-Marie Le Pen, won through to the second round of the 2002 presidential election but was then crushed by the conservative Jacques Chirac.
However she faces a similar prospect of defeat when she goes up against Macron in the second round of the next week.
He is widely expected to win the contest against Le Pen.
In France the election took place with the nation on high alert, with the vote taking place just three days after a police officer was gunned down by a Jihadi on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
In Besancon, eastern France a stolen car was abandoned outside a polling station with the engine running.
A policeman secures the entrance of a polling station as people arrive to vote in the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Henin-Beaumont, France, April 23, 2017
Policemen stand near a polling station during the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Paris, France
Femen activists with masks, including one wearing a mask of Marine Le Pen, top left, are detained as they demonstrate in Henin-Beaumont, northern France, where far-right leader and presidential candidate Le Pen voted during the first round of the French presidential election
Police found a hunting rifle inside the vehicle which had been disguised with stolen number plates.
In Rouen, Normandy, a gunman shot and wounded another man but the incident was classified as ‘non-terror related’.
Two other polling station, in Saint Omer, northern France, were evacuated because of a suspicious vehicle with Dutch number plates.
Ballots were cast in the wake of took place after a series of devastating terror attacks across France, but despite that armed police and soldiers are outlawed from protecting 67,000 French polling stations.
There had been a serious concern that groups including Islamic State would target the election.
However the 50,000 policemen and gendarmes that were only standby along with 7,000 soldiers were not required as the day went on.
The presidential poll is the first to be held during a state of emergency, put in place since the Paris attacks of November 2015.
A Femen activists wearing the mask of Marine le Pen is detained as they demonstrate in Henin Beaumont, northern France
TOPLESS demonstrators protests outside French polling station
Voters are choosing between 11 candidates in the most unpredictable contest in decades, and the poll conducted by RTBF suggests just that.
Topless demonstrators from the Femen activist group caused a commotion as they staged a stunt against Le Pen outside a polling station where the far-right presidential candidate was heading to vote.
Around six activists were detained Sunday morning after jumping out of an SUV limo wearing masks of Le Pen and United States President Donald Trump.
Police and security forces quickly forced them into police vans, confiscating their signs.
Le Pen voted at the station shortly after without further disruption.
After nine hours of voting, turnout was 69.4 percent, one of the highest levels in 40 years.
While down slightly on the same point in the 2012 election, an extra hour of voting in smaller towns was expected to take turnout to around 78 to 81 percent.
A Femen activist wearing the mask of U.S President Donald Trump is taken away from the scene near a scrum of photographers
People line up before casting their vote for the first-round presidential election at a polling station in Paris, Sunday, April 23, 2017
Outgoing French president Francois Hollande casts his ballot at a polling station in Tulle (left) as Marine Le Pen emerges from a booth (right)
Outgoing French president Francois Hollande picks up ballot papers before casting his vote at a polling station in Tulle, central France, on April 23, 2017, during the first round of the Presidential election
Former French President and former Head of Les Republicains right wing Party Nicolas Sarkozy (centre) and his wife, the singer Carla Bruni Sarkozy (left) vote in the first round of the 2017 French Presidential Election at the Jean de la Fontaine High School in the 16th arrondissement on April 23, 2017 in Paris, France
Former French President and former Head of Les Republicains right wing Party Nicolas Sarkozy sweeps the curtain aside as he leaves a voting booth
Marine Le Pen was today poised for a historic breakthrough in France’s nail-biting presidential race
Her campaign has been dominated by anti-Islam and anti-immigration rhetoric and critics said she has used the violence to stoke further hostility.
Defiant voters proclaimed the Paris terrorist attack would not alter their political loyalties in the French presidential elections today, although many feared a surge in support for the National Front.
As citizens flocked to polling stations across the country Parisians told how they would ‘vote with their hearts’ to reject extremist ideas, in the first round of voting to decide the new leader of France.
Mother-of-one Marie-Noelle Liesse told MailOnline she voted for independent centrist Emmanuel Macron to stop Marine Le Pen.
She said: ‘I voted with my heart to stop the extremists, the National Front, from getting into power.
‘The terrorist attack on the Champs Elysee has not affected the way I voted, but I fear it may have influenced some people.
‘I voted for Macron. I believe he is the right candidate to lead France.’
Mrs Liesse, 45, a communications executive, brought her five-year-old son Amant, to the polling station in the central Marais district of Paris.
Marine Le Pen casts her vote in the French presidential elections
French presidential election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) party, Marine Le Pen casts her ballot in the first round of the French presidential elections in Henin-Beaumont, Northern France, shortly after the commotion
Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron waves supporters after casting his vote in the first round of the French presidential election, in le Touquet, northern France, Sunday April 23, 2017
People line up before casting their vote for the first-round presidential election at a polling station in Paris, Sunday, April 23, 2017
Young professional couple Max Nivoix and Mariam Guedra voted for independent centrist Emmanuel Macron for said they feared the terrorist attack would galvanise support for Marine Le Pen’s National Front.
Mr Nivoix, 28, an industrial products buyer, told MailOnline: ‘I have voted for Macron. I think he is the best candidate to lead France.
‘The terrorist attack last week has not influenced the way I voted. But I fear that people outside of Paris will turn to Le Pen because of it.’
French nationals in the UK casting their votes
Among the 60,000 polling stations to open their doors was the French Consulate in South Kensington, where the bulk of the UK’s French nationals are expected to cast their votes.
According to figures from 2014, there are 400,000 French people living in London, which prompted Boris Johnson to call it France’s sixth biggest city.
At the end of 2013, the Foreign Ministry recorded 1.6million French expats living in the UK, according to The Independent.
Outside of the capital, there are polling stations in Ashford, Brighton, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
His partner Ms Guedra, 28, an engineer, added: ‘I voted for Emmanuel Macron too. He has the best policies for young people and for the time we live in now.
‘But we are both educated and from the city. I know that old people and people in the countryside are more in favour of Le Pen.’
Flight attendant Baptiste Laurent said he voted for communist-backed firebrand Jean-Luc Melonchon he feared National Front candidate Marine Le Pen could come top in the poll.
Mr Laurent, 39, told MailOnline: ‘I voted for Melonchon because I voted for what I believe in – a more equal society.
‘But I fear that Le Pen could be the biggest winner today.’
Mr Laurent came to the polling station with his 14-month-old daughter Romy.
A primary school teacher also backed communist-backed firebrand Jean-Luc Melonchon but feared a surge of support for Le Pen’s National Front.
Alexandre, 42, told MailOnline: ‘I voted for Melonchon because I support his programme and his socialist policies.
‘But Le Pen will do well in the polls today. She has a strong base of support. And after the terrorist attack she will get more votes. I think she will get through to the second round of voting.’
The second round of voting between the two front runners of today’s poll will take place on Sunday 7 May.
She is locked in a duel with centrist front-runner Emmanuel Macron, 39, a staunch defender of the single market who has told Theresa May he favours a ‘hard Brexit’.
If, as expected, Le Pen and Macron are successful in the first round of voting today, they will face each other in the run-off on May 7.
People line up to vote at a polling station in the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Vaulx-en-Velin, France, April 23, 2017
Brigitte Trogneux casts her ballot next to her husband, French presidential election candidate for the En Marche movement Emmanuel Macron during the first round of the Presidential election at a polling station in Le Touquet
But analysts say the battle for the Élysée Palace is by no means a two-horse race.
Le Pen has moved from 22 per cent to 23 per cent in the latest opinion poll while her three rivals have all lost half a percentage point of support.
Macron dropped back to 24.5 per cent, while republican candidate François Fillon and leftist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon were back on 19 per cent.
The far-Right leader is confident her chances of winning the election’s first round have been strengthened by last week’s terrorist murder of a police officer on the Champs-Élysées
Experts said a Le Pen victory in the first round could mean cheaper holidays for Brits heading to Europe.
Kathleen Brooks, of City Index Direct, said: ‘I think if Le Pen wins today by a wide enough margin, then the euro will fall significantly, possibly to the lowest levels we’ve seen this year. And a weak euro will initially be great for us as everything will be much cheaper in Europe.’
Le Pen’s father, the convicted racist Jean-Marie Le Pen, caused shockwaves around the world in 2002 when he came second in the first round. He then went on to lose to Jacques Chirac by a landslide of more than 80 per cent.
But Marine Le Pen is convinced she can go one better by positioning herself as the candidate who is toughest on terror.
She had pledged to ‘immediately reinstate border checks’, to expel foreigners and to ban all immigration, whether illegal or not. Supporters include Donald Trump who said the Paris attack would ‘have a big effect on the presidential election’ because the French people ‘will not take much more of this’.
But Prime Minister Cazeneuve accused Le Pen of ‘shamelessly seeking to exploit fear and emotion for exclusively political ends’. Mr Cazeneuve pointed out that Karim Cheurfi, the 39-year-old responsible for the murder of traffic officer Xavier Jugelé, 37, was a born and bred Frenchman.
Le Pen has called for negotiation with Brussels on a new EU, followed by a referendum; extremist mosques closed and priority to French nationals in social housing; and retirement age fixed at 60.
Macron forged a reputation with his ‘Macron Law’, a controversial reform bill that allowed shops to open more often on Sundays. On security, he has said France is paying for the intelligence jobs cuts made when Fillon was PM between 2007 and 2012.
For the French establishment, Sunday’s presidential election came close to a near-death experience. As the Duke of Wellington said of Waterloo, it was a “damn near-run thing.”
Neither candidate of the two major parties that have ruled France since Charles De Gaulle even made it into the runoff, an astonishing repudiation of France’s national elite.
Marine Le Pen of the National Front ran second with 21.5 percent of the vote. Emmanuel Macron of the new party En Marche! won 23.8 percent.
Macron is a heavy favorite on May 7. The Republicans’ Francois Fillon, who got 20 percent, and the Socialists’ Benoit Hamon, who got less than 7 percent, both have urged their supporters to save France by backing Macron.
Ominously for U.S. ties, 61 percent of French voters chose Le Pen, Fillon or radical Socialist Jean-Luc Melenchon. All favor looser ties to America and repairing relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Le Pen has a mountain to climb to win, but she is clearly the favorite of the president of Russia, and perhaps of the president of the United States. Last week, Donald Trump volunteered:
“She’s the strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France. … Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election.”
As an indicator of historic trends in France, Le Pen seems likely to win twice the 18 percent her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, won in 2002, when he lost in the runoff to Jacques Chirac.
The campaign between now and May 7, however, could make the Trump-Clinton race look like an altarpiece of democratic decorum.
Not only are the differences between the candidates stark, Le Pen has every incentive to attack to solidify her base and lay down a predicate for the future failure of a Macron government.
And Macron is vulnerable. He won because he is fresh, young, 39, and appealed to French youth as the anti-Le Pen. A personification of Robert Redford in “The Candidate.”
But he has no established party behind him to take over the government, and he is an ex-Rothschild banker in a populist environment where bankers are as welcome as hedge-fund managers at a Bernie Sanders rally.
He is a pro-EU, open-borders transnationalist who welcomes new immigrants and suggests that acts of Islamist terrorism may be the price France must pay for a multi-ethnic and multicultural society.
Macron was for a year economic minister to President Francois Hollande who has presided over a 10 percent unemployment rate and a growth rate that is among the most anemic in the entire European Union.
He is offering corporate tax cuts and a reduction in the size of a government that consumes 56 percent of GDP, and presents himself as the “president of patriots to face the threat of nationalists.”
His campaign is as much “us vs. them” as Le Pen’s.
And elite enthusiasm for Macron seems less rooted in any anticipation of future greatness than in the desperate hope he can save the French establishment from the dreaded prospect of Marine.
But if Macron is the present, who owns the future?
Across Europe, as in France, center-left and center-right parties that have been on the scene since World War II appear to be emptying out like dying churches. The enthusiasm and energy seem to be in the new parties of left and right, of secessionism and nationalism.
The problem for those who believe the populist movements of Europe have passed their apogee, with losses in Holland, Austria and, soon, France, that the fever has broken, is that the causes of the discontent that spawned these parties are growing stronger.
What are those causes?
A growing desire by peoples everywhere to reclaim their national sovereignty and identity, and remain who they are. And the threats to ethnic and national identity are not receding, but growing.
The tide of refugees from the Middle East and Africa has not abated. Weekly, we read of hundreds drowning in sunken boats that tried to reach Europe. Thousands make it. But the assimilation of Third World peoples in Europe is not proceeding. It seems to have halted.
Second-generation Muslims who have lived all their lives in Europe are turning up among the suicide bombers and terrorists.
Fifteen years ago, al-Qaida seemed confined to Afghanistan. Now it is all over the Middle East, as is ISIS, and calls for Islamists in Europe to murder Europeans inundate social media.
As the numbers of native-born Europeans begin to fall, with their anemic fertility rates, will the aging Europeans become more magnanimous toward destitute newcomers who do not speak the national language or assimilate into the national culture, but consume its benefits?
If a referendum were held across Europe today, asking whether the mass migrations from the former colonies of Africa and the Middle East have on balance made Europe a happier and better place to live in in recent decades, what would that secret ballot reveal?
Like both legislative statutes and regulations promulgated by government agencies, executive orders are subject to judicial review and may be overturned if the orders lack support by statute or the Constitution. Major policy initiatives require approval by the legislative branch, but executive orders have significant influence over the internal affairs of government, deciding how and to what degree legislation will be enforced, dealing with emergencies, waging wars, and in general fine-tuning policy choices in the implementation of broad statutes.
Basis in the United States Constitution
The United States Constitution does have a provision that explicitly permits the use of executive orders. The term executive power in Article II, Section 1, Clause 1 of the Constitution is not entirely clear. The term is mentioned as direction to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed” and is part of Article II, Section 3, Clause 5. The consequence of failing to comply possibly being removal from office.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that all executive orders from the President of the United States must be supported by the Constitution, whether from a clause granting specific power, or by Congress delegating such to the executive branch. Specifically, such orders must be rooted in Article II of the US Constitution or enacted by the congress in statutes. Attempts to block such orders have been successful at times when such orders exceeded the authority of the president or could be better handled through legislation.
Presidential directives are considered a form of executive order issued by the President of the United States with the advice and consent of a major agency or department found within the executive branch of government.Some types of Presidential directives are the following:
With the exception of William Henry Harrison, all presidents beginning with George Washington in 1789 have issued orders that in general terms can be described as executive orders. Initially they took no set form. Consequently, such orders varied as to form and substance.
The first executive order was issued by George Washington on June 8, 1789, addressed to the heads of the federal departments, instructing them “to impress me with a full, precise, and distinct general idea of the affairs of the United States” in their fields.
The most famous executive order was by President Abraham Lincoln when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Political scientist Brian R. Dirck states:
The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order, itself a rather unusual thing in those days. Executive orders are simply presidential directives issued to agents of the executive department by its boss.
Until the early 1900s, executive orders went mostly unannounced and undocumented, seen only by the agencies to which they were directed. This changed when the Department of State instituted a numbering scheme in 1907, starting retroactively with United States Executive Order 1 issued on October 20, 1862, by President Abraham Lincoln. The documents that later came to be known as “executive orders” apparently gained their name from this order issued by Lincoln, which was captioned “Executive Order Establishing a Provisional Court in Louisiana”. This court functioned during the military occupation of Louisiana during the American Civil War, and Lincoln also used Executive Order 1 to appoint Charles A. Peabody as judge, and to designate the salaries of the court’s officers.
President Truman’s Executive Order 10340 in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 US 579 (1952) placed all steel mills in the country under federal control. This was found invalid because it attempted to make law, rather than clarify or act to further a law put forth by the Congress or the Constitution. Presidents since this decision have generally been careful to cite which specific laws they are acting under when issuing new executive orders. Likewise, when presidents believe their authority for issuing an executive order stems from within the powers outlined in the Constitution, the order will simply proclaim “under the authority vested in me by the Constitution” instead.
Wars have been fought upon executive order, including the 1999 Kosovo War during Bill Clinton‘s second term in office. However, all such wars have had authorizing resolutions from Congress. The extent to which the president may exercise military power independently of Congress and the scope of the War Powers Resolution remain unresolved constitutional issues, although all presidents since its passage have complied with the terms of the resolution while maintaining that they are not constitutionally required to do so.
President Truman issued 907 executive orders, with 1,081 orders by Theodore Roosevelt, 1,203 orders by Calvin Coolidge, and 1,803 orders by Woodrow Wilson. Franklin D. Roosevelt has the distinction of making a record 3,522 executive orders.
Prior to 1932, uncontested executive orders had determined such issues as national mourning on the death of a president, and the lowering of flags to half-staff. President Franklin Roosevelt issued the first of his 3,522 executive orders on March 6, 1933, declaring a bank holiday, forbidding banks to release gold coin or bullion. Executive Order 6102 forbade the hoarding of gold coin, bullion and gold certificates. A further executive order required all newly mined domestic gold be delivered to the Treasury.
Executive orders are assigned numbers and published in the federal register, similar to laws passed by Congress, and typically direct members of the executive branch to follow a new policy or directive. Trump has issued 24 orders.
Presidential memoranda do not have to be published or numbered (though they can be), and usually delegate tasks that Congress has already assigned the president to members of the executive branch. Trump has issued 22 memoranda.
Finally, while some proclamations — like President Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation — have carried enormous weight, most are ceremonial observances of federal holidays or awareness months. Trump has issued 20 proclamations.
Scholars have typically used the number of executive orders per term to measure how much presidents have exercised their power. George Washington only signed eight his entire time in office, according to the American Presidency Project, while FDR penned over 3,700.
In his two terms, President Barack Obama issued 277 executive orders, a total number on par with his modern predecessors, but the lowest per year average in 120 years. Trump, so far, has signed 24 executive orders in 89 days.
Here’s a quick guide to the executive actions Trump has made so far, what they do, and how Americans have reacted to them:
Executive Order, April 18: ‘Buy American, Hire American’
President Donald Trump speaks at Snap-On Tools in Kenosha, Wisconsin on April 18, 2017.Associated Press/Kiichiro Sato
Presidential proclamation, April 14: National Park Week
White House press secretary Sean Spicer gave Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke the first quarter check of Trump’s salary to the National Park Service as Tyrone Brandyburg, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Superindendant, looked on during the daily press briefing at the White House on April 3, 2017.Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Trump designated April 15-23, 2017 as National Park Week, during which all 417 sites (59 official “parks”) across the country are free to enter, a move many past presidents have made as well.
Presidential memorandum, April 12: Delegating terrorist report request
FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 10, 2017, before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian Intelligence Activities.AP Photo/Cliff Owen
The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act directs the president to review “known instances since 2011 in which a person has traveled or attempted to travel to a conflict zone in Iraq or Syria from the United States to join or provide material support or resources to a terrorist organization,” and submit a report to Congress.
Trump delegated this responsibility to FBI Director James Comey.
Presidential memorandum, April 11: Signing letter on including Montenegro in NATO
Montenegro’s PM Djukanovic attends a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.Thomson Reuters
At the end of March, the US Senate voted to include Montenegro’s in NATO, 97 to 2. While Trump called the alliance “obsolete” as recently as January, he said he no longer feels that way, and didn’t veto the small southern European country’s inclusion.
Presidential memorandum, April 8: Notifying Congress of the US Syria strike
In this image from video provided by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launches a tomahawk land attack missile in the Mediterranean Sea, Friday, April 7, 2017.Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via AP
“I acted in the vital national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive,” Trump said in the memo. “I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution.”
In the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress called on the president to outline his principles for reforming the draft. So in his order, Trump told Congress that the US military should recruit a diverse pool of citizens, and offer them training opportunities that will benefit the armed forces as well as their future employment, in order to “prepare to mitigate an unpredictable global security and national emergency environment.”
2 Executive Orders, March 31: Lowering the trade deficit and collecting import duties
Vice President Mike Pence tries to stop President Donald Trump as he leaves before signing executive orders regarding trade in the Oval Office on March 31, 2017.AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Ahead of Trump’s first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he signed two orders focused on an issue he decried during the campaign: the US trade deficit.
The first order directs the executive branch to produce a country-by-country, product-by-product report on trade deficits in 90 days, in order to figure out how to reduce the $500 billion trade deficit the US had in 2016.
Business Insider’s Pedro Nicolaci da Costa wrote that the order’s plan for a “90-day ‘investigation’ into why the US had trade deficits with specific countries, [was] a quixotic exercise most economists say shows a deep lack of understanding of the workings of international trade.”
The second order seeks to strengthen the US response to its trade laws preventing counterfeit or illegal imports, citing “$2.3 billion in antidumping and countervailing duties” that the government hasn’t collected.
“On a typical day, CBP screens more than 74,000 truck, rail, and sea cargo containers at 328 U.S. ports of entry — with imported goods worth approximately $6.3 billion,” a Department of Homeland Security press release on the order wrote. “In Fiscal Year 2016, CBP seized more than 31,500 of counterfeit shipments and collected more $40 billion in duties, taxes, and fees, making CBP the U.S. government’s second largest source of revenue.”
Executive Orders, March 31 and February 9: Changing the DOJ order of succession
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks after being sworn-in in the Oval Office of the White House on February 9, 2017.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
On February 9, Trump signed an order establishing a line of succession to lead the US Department of Justice if the attorney general, deputy attorney general, or associate attorney general die, resign, or are otherwise unable to carry on their duties. In order, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and then the US Attorney for the Western District of Missouri will be next in line.
The action reverses an order Obama signed days before leaving office. After Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce his first travel ban, he appointed Dana Boente, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general in her place. This order elevates his position in the order of succession.
On March 31, Trump signed another order reversing this order. The new order of succession after the AG, deputy AG, and associate AG are as follows: US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, US Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, and then the US Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.
Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the DOJ probe into Trump’s associates contacts with Russian operatives, the order of succession will determine who will oversee that investigation. Trump will have to fill the North Carolina post soon, the Palmer Report points out, possibly allowing the president to influence who leads the Russia investigation.
Read the full text of each proclamation in the links above.
Executive Order, March 29: Combating the opioid crisis
President Donald Trump shakes hands with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a panel discussion on an opioid and drug abuse in the Roosevelt Room of the White House March 29, 2017 in Washington, DC.Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images
This order established the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The commission, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, is supposed to report to the president strategies to address the epidemic, which is now killing 30,000 Americans a year.
“These people don’t need another damn commission,” an anonymous former Obama administration official who worked on the issue told Politico. “We know what we need to do. … It’s not rocket science.” Business Insider’s Erin Brodwin outlined some strategies that scientists think will work.
Executive Order, March 28: Dismantling Obama’s climate change protections
President Donald Trump, accompanied by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, third from left, and Vice President Mike Pence, right, signs an Energy Independence Executive Order, Tuesday, March 28, 2017, at EPA headquarters in Washington with coal and oil executives.AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to bring back coal mining jobs and dismantle Obama’s environmental policy, declaring climate change a “hoax.” While coal jobs are unlikely to come back in droves, this executive order makes good on the second promise, directing federal agencies to rescind any existing regulations that “unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources.”
Executive Order, March 27: Revoking Obama’s fair pay and safe workplaces orders
President Barack Obama meets with then-President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on November 10, 2016.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
In 2014, Obama signed an executive order requiring federal government contracts over $500,000 had to go to companies that hadn’t violated labor laws. He signed two more orders making minor clarifications to that original order later that year and in 2016.
Trump’s new order revoking those three orders, and directed federal agencies to review any procedural changes they made because of the orders. When companies bid for federal contracts, they’ll no longer have to disclose if they’ve violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker
Protection Act, or the National Labor Relations Act.
Business titans Gary Cohn (National Economic Council director), Dina Powell (senior counselor to the president for economic initiatives and deputy national security adviser), Chris Liddell (assistant to the president for strategic initiatives), and Reed Cordish (assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives) will also be on the team.
2 presidential memoranda, March 23: Declaring an emergency in South Sudan
The same day he signed these memoranda, Trump honked the horn of an 18-wheeler truck while meeting with truckers and CEOs on the South Lawn of the White House, Thursday, March 23, 2017.AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Trump signed two memoranda declaring a national emergency in South Sudan, and notifying Congress that he did so, extending the emergency Obama declared in 2014. One million people there are on the brink of dying from a lack of food.
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has said that the president’s proposed budget would “spend less money on people overseas and more money on people back home” and “absolutely” cut programs like those that would aid those starving in South Sudan.
Presidential memorandum, March 20: Delegating to Tillerson
President Donald Trump smiles at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after he was sworn in in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017.Associated Perss/Carolyn Kaster
Trump delegated presidential powers in the National Defense Authorization Act to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The law doles out funding “for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths.”
Presidential proclamation, March 17: National Poison Prevention Week
President Donald Trump departs the White House with his grandchildren Arabella and Joseph on March 3, 2017.Win McNamee/Getty Images
Trump proclaimed March 19 through March 25, 2017 National Poison Prevention Week in order to encourage Americans to safeguard their homes and protect children from ingesting common household items that may poison them.
With the written aim of improving the efficiency of the federal government, Trump signed an order to shake up the executive branch, and “eliminate or reorganize unnecessary or redundant federal agencies” identified in a 180-day review.
It directs Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to review agency head’s proposed plans to reorganize or shrink their departments, and submit a plan to Trump by September 2017 outlining how to streamline the government.
Historians expressed skepticism that Trump would be able to effectively shrink the government, since many past presidents have tried and failed to do so. Critics argued that Trump could use the order to dismantle federal agencies that he or his Cabinet members don’t like.
Presidential proclamation, March 6: National Consumer Protection Week
March 5 through March 11, 2017 was National Consumer Protection Week, Trump proclaimed, which “reminds us of the importance of empowering consumers by helping them to more capably identify and report cyber scams, monitor their online privacy and security, and make well-informed decisions.”
President Donald Trump signs a new temporary travel ban in the Oval Office on March 6, 2017.Sean Spicer/Twitter
Trump’s second go at his controversial travel order bans people from Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, and Libya from entering the US for 90 days, and bars all refugees from coming into the country for 120 days, starting March 16.
Existing visa holders will not be subjected to the ban, and religious minorities will no longer get preferential treatment — two details critics took particular issue with in the first ban. The new order removed Iraq from the list of countries, and changed excluding just Syrian refugees to preventing all refugees from entering the US.
Democrats denounced the new order, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer saying the “watered-down ban is still a ban,” and Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez saying “Trump’s obsession with religious discrimination is disgusting, un-American, and outright dangerous.”
UPDATE 3/15: US District Judge Derrick Watson put an emergency halt on the revised travelban the day before it would have taken effect, after several states and refugee groups sued in court. Trump vowed to appeal the decision and take the order all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Presidential Memorandum, March 6: Guidance for agencies to implement the new travel ban
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly make statements on Trump’s new travel ban on March 6, 2017.AP Photo/Susan Walsh
This memo instructs the State Department, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security how to implement Trump’s new travel ban.
It directs the three department heads to enhance the vetting of visa applicants and other immigrants trying to enter the US as they see fit, to release how many visa applicants there were by country, and to submit a report in 180 days detailing the long-term costs of the United States Refugee Admissions Program.
Executive Order, February 28: Promoting Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, takes a photo of leaders from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Trump in the Oval Office.Getty Images
This order established the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which will aim to increase private funding of these schools, encourage more students to attend them, and identify ways the executive branch can help these institutions succeed.
Students at some HBCU protested the meeting their leaders attended to witness Trump signing the order, expressing their disapproval of the president in general, and questioning whether the action was “truly a seat at the table” or merely “a photo op.”
Executive Order, February 28: Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ rule
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt holds up an EPA cap during his first address to the agency.AP Photo/Susan Walsh
The order directed federal agencies to revise the Clean Water Rule, a major regulation Obama issued in 2015 to clarify what areas are federally protected under the Clean Water Act.
Trump’s EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt called the rule “the greatest blow to private property rights the modern era has seen,” in 2015, and led a multi-state lawsuit against it while he was Oklahoma’s attorney general.
David J. Cooper, an ecologist at Colorado State University, cautioned that repealing the rule wouldn’t settle the confusion about what the federal government can protect under the Clean Water Act, or where.
Executive Order, February 24: Enforcing regulatory reform
President Donald Trump meets with union leaders at the White House.Getty Images
This order creates Regulator Reform Officers within each federal agency who will comb through existing regulations and recommend which ones the administration should repeal. It directs the officers to focus on eliminating regulations that prevent job creation, are outdated, unnecessary, or cost too much.
The act doubles down on Trump’s plan to cut government regulations he says are hampering businesses, but opponents insist are necessary to protect people and the environment. Leaders of 137 nonprofit groups sent a letter to the White House on February 28 telling the president that “Americans did not vote to be exposed to more health, safety, environmental and financial dangers.”
Executive Order, February 9: Combating criminal organizations
Recaptured drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is escorted by soldiers at the hangar belonging to the office of the Attorney General in Mexico City, Mexico on January 8, 2016.Reuters/Amanda Macias/Business Insider
The order is intended to “thwart” criminal organizations, including “criminal gangs, cartels, racketeering organizations, and other groups engaged in illicit activities.”
The action directs law enforcement to apprehend and prosecute citizens, and deport non-citizens involved in criminal activities including “the illegal smuggling and trafficking of humans, drugs or other substances, wildlife, and weapons,” “corruption, cybercrime, fraud, financial crimes, and intellectual-property theft,” and money laundering
The Secretary of State, Attorney General, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Director of National Intelligence will co-chair a Threat Mitigation Working Group that will identify ways that local, state, federal, and international law enforcement can work together in order to eradicate organized crime.
It also instructs the co-chairs to present the president with a report within 120 days outlining the penetration of criminal organizations into the United States, and recommendations for how to eradicate them.
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with county sheriffs in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017.AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Following up on his promise to restore “law and order” in America, Trump signed an executive order intended to reduce violent crime in the US, and “comprehensively address illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and violent crime.”
The action directs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to assemble a task force in order to identify new strategies and laws to reduce crime, and to evaluate how well crime data is being collected and leveraged across the country.
Executive Order, February 9: Protecting law enforcement
Police break up skirmishes between demonstrators and supporters of then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that broke out after it was announced the rally on March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois would be postponed.Scott Olson/Getty Images
The order seeks to create new laws that will protect law enforcement, and increase the penalties for crimes committed against them.
It also directs the attorney general to review existing federal grant funding programs to law enforcement agencies, and recommend changes to the programs if they don’t adequately protect law enforcement.
Executive Order, February 3: Reviewing Wall Street regulations
President Donald Trump signs an executive order rolling back regulations from the 2010 Dodd-Frank law on Wall Street reform on Feb. 3, 2017 in the Oval Office.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Trump signed two actions on Friday that could end up rewriting regulations in the financial industry that Obama and Congress put in place after the 2008 financial crisis.
The executive order sets “Core Principles” of financial regulation declaring that Trump’s administration seeks to empower Americans to make their own financial decisions, prevent taxpayer-funded bailouts, and reduce regulations on Wall Street so US companies can compete globally.
It also directs the Secretary of Treasury to review existing regulations on the financial system, determine whether the Core Principles are being met, and report back to the President in 120 days.
Experts worry that loosening regulations could roll back the Obama administration’s landmark consumer protection reform bill, Dodd-Frank, aimed at reducing risk in the financial system. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the progressive darling from Massachusetts, led the charge decrying the actions.
Presidential Memorandum, February 3: Reviewing the fiduciary duty rule
President Donald Trump signs an executive action in the White House.AP
The memorandum directs the Labor Secretary to review the “fiduciary rule,” another Obama-era law intended to protect Americans’ retirement money from conflicted advice from financial advisers that has long drawn rebuke from Wall Streeters and was scheduled to go into effect in April.
If the secretary finds the rule conflicts with the administration’s Core Principles, adversely affects the retirement industry, or causes increased litigation, then he should recommend revising or repealing the rule.
Presidential proclamation, February 2: American Heart Month
President Donald Trump and his wife Melania stand for the singing of the National Anthem during his inauguration ceremony at the Capitol on January 20, 2017.REUTERS/Carlos Barria
This ceremonial proclamation invited Americans to wear red on Friday, February 3, 2017 for National Wear Red Day, and followed Congress’ request in 1963 for presidents to annually declare February American Heart Month. The goal is to remember those who have died from heart disease and to improve its prevention, detection, and treatment.
The order requires appointees to every executive agency to sign an ethics pledge saying they will never lobby a foreign government and that they won’t do any other lobbying for five years after they leave government.
Presidential Memorandum, January 28: Reorganizing the National and Homeland Security Councils
Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon.AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
Trump removed the nation’s top military and intelligence advisers as regular attendees of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee, the interagency forum that deals with policy issues affecting national security.
The executive measure established Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, as a regular attendee, and disinvited the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence to attend only when necessary.
Top Republican lawmakers and national security experts roundly criticized the move, expressing their skepticism that Bannon should be present and alarm that the Joint Chiefs of Staff sometimes wouldn’t be.
Protesters assemble at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 after earlier in the day two Iraqi refugees were detained while trying to enter the country.Associated Press/Craig Ruttle
In Trump’s most controversial executive action yet, he temporarily barred people from majority-Muslim Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days, and Syrians from entering until he decides otherwise.
Federal judges in several states declared the order unconstitutional, releasing hundreds of people who were stuck at US airports in limbo. The White House continues to defend the action, insisting it was “not about religion” but about “protecting our own citizens and border.”
Presidential Memorandum, January 27: ‘Rebuilding’ the military
Marine General James Mattis.US Marine Corps
This action directed Secretary of Defense James Mattis to conduct a readiness review of the US military and Ballistic Missile Defense System, and submit his recommendations to “rebuild” the armed forces.
Presidential proclamation, January 26: National School Choice Week
Thousands rally in support of charter schools outside the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.AP Images
Trump proclaimed January 22 through January 28, 2017 as National School Choice Week.
The ceremonial move aimed to encourage people to demand school-voucher programs and charter schools, of which Trump’s Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos is a vocal supporter. Meanwhile, opponents argue that the programs weaken public schools and fund private schools at taxpayers’ expense.
Supporters of then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump chant, “Build that wall,” before a town hall meeting in Rothschild, Wis. on April 2, 2016.Associated Press/Charles Rex Arbogast
Trump outlined his intentions to build a wall along the US border with Mexico, one of his main campaign promises.
The order also directs the immediate detainment and deportation of illegal immigrants, and requires state and federal agencies tally up how much foreign aid they are sending to Mexico within 30 days, and tells the US Customs and Border Protection to hire 5,000 additional border patrol agents.
While Trump has claimed Mexico will pay for the wall, his administration has since softened this pledge, indicating US taxpayers may have to foot the bill, at least at first.
Executive Order, January 25: Cutting funding for sanctuary cities
Lordes Reboyoso, right, yells at a rally outside of City Hall in San Francisco, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017.Associated Press/Jeff Chiu
Trump called “sanctuary cities” to comply with federal immigration law or have their federal funding pulled.
The order has prompted a mixture of resistance and support from local lawmakers and police departments in the sanctuary cities, which typically refuse to honor federal requests to detain people on suspicion of violating immigration law even if they were arrested on unrelated charges. The city of San Francisco is already suing Trump, claiming the order is unconstitutional.
The first two direct agencies to immediately review and approve construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL Pipeline, and the third requires all pipeline materials be built in the US.
While pipeline proponents argue that they transport oil and gas more safely than trains or trucks can, environmentalists say pipelines threaten the contamination of drinking water.
Presidential Memorandum, January 23: Reinstating the ‘Mexico City policy’
Hundreds of thousands of protesters march down Pennsylvania avenue during the Women’s March on Washington January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC to protest newly inaugurated President Donald Trump.Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Image
The move reinstated a global gag rule that bans American non-governmental organizations working abroad from discussing abortion.
Democratic and Republican presidents have taken turns reinstating it and getting rid of it since Ronald Reagan created the gag order in 1984. The rule, while widely expected, dismayed women’s rights and reproductive health advocates, but encouraged antiabortion activists.
UPDATE 4/12: The hiring freeze is lifted, but budget director Mick Mulvaney says many jobs will stay unfilled because the Trump administration wants to reduce the federal workforce. The AP reported that the federal government added 2,000 workers in February and January, despite the freeze.
Presidential Memorandum, January 23: Out of the TPP
This action signaled Trump’s intent to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that would lower tariffs for 12 countries around the Pacific Rim, including Japan and Mexico but excluding China.
Results were mixed. Sen. Bernie Sanders said he was “glad the Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead and gone,” while Republican Sen. John McCain said withdrawing was a “serious mistake.”
Executive Order, January 20: Declaring Trump’s intention to repeal the Affordable Care Act
Then President-elect Donald Trump meets with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin on Capitol Hill November 10, 2016.Reuters
One of Trump’s top campaign promises was to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.
His first official act in office was declaring his intention to do so. Congressional Republicans have been working to do just that since their term started January 3, though there was dissent among Republicans over whether or not to complete the repeal process before a replacement plan is finalized and strident Democratic resistance to any repeal of the ACA.
UPDATE 3/28: House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the bill to repeal and replace the ACA, officially called the American Health Care Act, on March 24 after Republicans didn’t have enough votes to pass it. But some members of the GOP are still working on a way to dismantle Obamacare.
Presidential Memorandum, January 20: Reince’s regulatory freeze
President-elect Donald Trump and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on election night.Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus signed this action, directing agency heads not to send new regulations to the Office of the Federal Register until the administration has leaders in place to approve them.
Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel signed a similar memorandum when he took office in 2009, but as Bloomberg notes, Priebus changed the language from a suggestion to a directive.
The action is partly carried out to make sure the new administration wants to implement any pending regulations the old one was considering. Environmentalists worried if this could mean Trump is about to undo many of Obama’s energy regulations.
Story 1: French Confirm Killing of Police Officer By Radical Islamic Terrorist Killer, Karim Cheurfi, Connected To Islamic State, — Videos —
ISIS Reportedly Claims Responsibility For Paris Attack That Left 1 Officer Dead | TODAY
Is Marine Le Pen the Donald Trump of France?
Paris shooting: Gunman was ‘focus of anti-terror’ probe – BBC News
Police search home of shooting suspect in Paris suburb
Raw: Memorial For Officer Killed In Paris Shooting
Geert Wilders message for Europe
Revealed: ISIS terrorist who shot dead cop in Paris attack was arrested TWO MONTHS ago for threatening to kill police and served 15 years for trying to murder two officers
Policeman Xavier Jugele, 37, was killed last night after being ‘targeted’ on the Champs Elysees in central Paris
The attacker was eventually shot dead after French police officers rushed to the scene in the heart of the city
The gunman’s Audi contained a pump action shotgun, knives and ID of known ‘extremist’ Karim Cheurfi
Two other police officers were ‘seriously injured’ and a ‘female foreign tourist’ was wounded in the incident
A note declaring allegiance to ISIS was discovered on the Champs Elysees and is being investigated by police
By Abe Hawken and Amie Gordon and Anthony Joseph and Sam Tonkin In London and Nick Fagge and Peter Allen In Paris for MailOnline
PUBLISHED: 13:42 EDT, 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:21 EDT, 21 April 2017
French security services are today facing troubling questions as to how they failed to prevent an ISIS gunman from slaughtering one policeman and wounding two other officers in Paris when he was arrested as recently as February.
Karim Cheurfi, 39, had served 15 years of a 20-year jail sentence for attempting to kill two officers in 2001, before his release last year.
In February, the terrorist tried to obtain weapons and made threats to kill police officers, but was let go in early March due to lack of evidence.
On Thursday night, the fanatic was killed by police after he got out of his Audi and opened fire at police who had stopped at a red light on Champs Elysees. His car was packed with more weapons, including a pump action shotgun and knives. A copy of the Koran was also found in the vehicle.
Traffic officer Xavier Jugele, 37, died instantly with a shot to the head, while the other two were hurt before Cheurfi himself was gunned down by nearby armed police. A ricocheting bullet fired by the terrorist also wounded a female foreign tourist passing by.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack and nicknamed the attacker ‘Abu Yousuf al-Belgiki’, which translates to ‘the Belgian’ in Arabic – a name which was listed in uncovered documents from the terror group last year.
A note declaring allegiance to ISIS was discovered on the Champs Elysees and is being investigated by police. Its presence and the speed at which ISIS claimed responsibility may suggest the attack was directed by the jihadist group rather than carried out by a lone supporter.
Pictured (left and right) is the suspected ISIS gunman, who has been identified locally as 39-year-old Karim Cheurfi
The alleged ISIS gunman, identified as 39-year-old Karim Cheurfi – who was jailed for 20 years for trying to kill officers in 2001 – parked his Audi and opened fire after police stopped at a red light on the world famous avenue. Pictured is his arrest warrant from last month, when he was detained for trying to obtain weapons ‘to kill police’
Traffic officer Xavier Jugele (pictured), 37, died instantly with a shot to the head, while the other two were hurt before Cheurfi himself was gunned down by nearby armed police
Pictured is armed police crowded two other officers, believed to have been shot in the attack, on Champs Elysees on Thursday night
French police leave the home of ISIS gunman Karim Cheurfi in the suburb of Chelles, in Paris, following last night’s attack
A woman places a flower near the spot on the Champs Elysees where the shooting occurred last night in the French capital
A body is removed from the scene after a traffic officer was killed by an ISIS gunman in central Paris last night
French police officers and forensic teams searched a vehicle which was close to the scene on the Champs Elysees in Paris
A police lorry seized the Audi which the attacker was driving, before he got out and shot at traffic officers last night
A still image from video footage shows police forensic investigators inspect the car used by the attacker in Paris last night
In the latest developments after the attack:
French police have this morning arrested three family members of ISIS gunman Karim Cheurfi
Police are hunting a second suspect, who was brought to their attention by Belgian authorities
A man whose image appeared on social media as ‘second suspect’ handed himself to police in Antwerp claiming he was not linked to the plot. Detectives have said this man had nothing to do with the attack
Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen called for all French terror suspects to be expelled
France’s government has reviewed its already extensive election security measures and says it is ‘fully mobilised’ and nothing will stop Sunday’s presidential vote
US President Donald Trump believes the attack will have a ‘big effect’ on the outcome of the election
British Prime Minister Theresa May has sent condolences to the French president following the latest attack but the pair have not spoken directly since last night
Iran’s foreign secretary Bahram Ghasemi said France was feeling a blowback for its support of rebels in Syria
French officials revealed that Cheurfi was detained in Meaux, 24 miles east of Paris, on February 23 this year, after it emerged he was trying to buy weapons ‘to kill police’.
On Friday night, but prosecutors tonight denied that he was on a security watch list and added the terrorist showed no signs of radicalisation before the attack.
He reportedly used the alias ‘Abu Yousuf the Belgian’ and reportedly made threats to murder officers using the social media app Telegram, an instant messaging service.
Despite having a long list of police-hating convictions, he was able to obtain a Kalashnikov, a pump action shotgun and several knives ahead of last night’s attack.
He had been jailed for 20 years in 2005 for trying to kill two policemen. He opened fire five times with a .38 revolver following a car chase in 2001, leaving the officers and a third victim wounded. All three survived the attack in Roissy-en-Brie, in the Seine-et-Marne department of northern France.
An armed police officer hoists his weapon as they storm the streets of Paris after the latest terror attack to hit the city
Armed police outside a shop in central Paris after an ISIS gunman killed a traffic officer and injured three other people
Armed police officers on the streets of Paris after a gunman killed a traffic cop and seriously injured two others last night
Armed police officers stood guard after they rushed to the scene in the centre of the capital following the incident which left frightened witnesses sprinting for their lives
A team of forensic detectives examine the Audi, which the gunman was driving. ID of Karim Cheurfi was found in the vehicle
Cheurfi, who was born in France, was a recluse who blamed police for ruining his life, a friend of the family revealed today.
OFFICER SHOT DEAD GUARDED BATACLAN AT ITS REOPENING
By Sam Tonkin for MailOnline
The policeman killed by an ISIS gunman on the Champs-Elysees was today named as Xavier Jugelé, a 37-year-old Paris officer who defiantly said ‘no to terrorists’ at the reopening of the Bataclan theatre last November.
He was shot in the head when the terrorist – identified today as French national Karim Cheurfi, 39 – launched his attack on three police officers at around 9pm last night.
Jugelé, who was a proud defender of gay rights, was named as the victim who died by French newspaper Le Parisien.
It has since emerged that Jugelé (pictured left and right) was on duty at the reopening of the Bataclan theatre on November last year – a year on from the Paris attacks which left 130 dead
It has since emerged that Jugelé was on duty at the reopening of the Bataclan theatre on November last year – a year on from the Paris attacks which left 130 dead.
As British singer Sting marked the occasion with a performance at the concert hall, Jugelé defiantly told PEOPLE.com that he was there ‘to say no to terrorists’.
The policeman added: ‘I’m happy to be here. Glad the Bataclan is reopening. It’s symbolic.
‘We’re here tonight as witnesses. Here to defend our civic values. This concert’s to celebrate life. To say no to terrorists.
‘It doesn’t feel strange, it feels important,’ he added. ‘Symbolic.’
He did not attend formal mosque prayer services and became fascinated by jihadist propaganda via the internet, a confident of his mother claimed.
‘Karim did not pray, he drank alcohol and watched jihadist propaganda,’ neighbour Hakim, 50, told MailOnline.
‘He was not a good Muslim, he was a lost soul. He had no friends, no girlfriend, he never went out. He stayed at home all day watching stuff on the internet.’
Another neighbour added: ‘Karim didn’t go to the mosque. He just stayed at home. You never saw him.’
Hakim continued: ‘Karim blamed the police for ruining his life. He fired (a pistol) at police during a burglary and got sentenced to 15 years prison.
‘He was only 20 at the time. He hated the police, he said they had ruined his life. He was ‘anti-cop’. He would swear at officers in the street, call them bastards. He didn’t care.’
Hakim, whose family is close to Cheurfi’s mother, said the gunman had only recently returned to the quiet residential street after spending years behind bars.
Cheurfi lived separately from his mother in a purpose-built apartment in the front of the property.
Hakim added: ‘He lived in the studio in the garden. The mother lived in the big house.’
Cheurfi’s Algerian-born mother had divorced his father and had married a Frenchman with who she had second son. She later divorced her second son.
Another neighbour said: ‘His parents split up but they stayed living at the same property.
‘The father Salat lived in the apartment in the front of the garden and the mother lived in the house at the back of the property.
‘The mother married again, to a Frenchman, and they had a son together but the father stayed living at the property.
‘So it was a bit complicated but that’s life. Karim got on well with his half brother who is called Stephane.
‘But he went to live in the apartment with his father when he got of prison.’
Another neighbor added: ‘The mother is not here. She is in Algeria. She goes there every few months to visit relatives. She’s not been well.’
Officers have been searching the home of Karim in east Paris and arrested three of his family members.
A French government spokesman said the ISIS gunman began firing against police using ‘a weapon of war’.
The fatal incident unfolded as presidential candidates, including National Front party leader Marine Le Pen, debated on a TV show nearby before Sunday’s election.
Paris police search the suspected Champs-Elysee attacker’s house
A French police officer has been shot dead on the Champs Elysees in Paris (pictured) – just days before the French presidential election
People held their hands up as they walked towards officers close to the scene where a policeman was fatally shot in Paris
Police closed off the popular avenue (pictured) after a policeman was killed during a shooting incident in the French capital
Pictured is the scene of a restaurant in Paris when the gunman opened fire on the streets outside. Diners are seen cowering on the ground in fear
An armed policeman speaks to diners in a nearby Parisien restuarant, who cowered to the floor in fear of the ISIS gunman
The gunman has been identified by police but they will not officially reveal his name until investigators determine whether he had accomplices, according to the Paris prosecutor.
Prosecutor Francois Molins said: ‘The identity of the attacker is known and has been checked. I will not give it because investigations with raids are ongoing.
‘The investigators want to be sure whether he had or did not have accomplices.’
The Interior Ministry spokesman said the officers were deliberately targeted and the police union added that the policeman was killed while sat in a car at a red light.
US President Donald Trump said: ‘It looks like another terrorist attack. What can you say? It never ends.’
The attack which took place on the Champs Elysees (pictured) comes just three days before the first round of balloting in France’s tense presidential election
A French police officer stood guard on the Champs Elysees in central Paris following the fatal shooting, which has been described as ‘terrorist related’
Police officers secured the area after a gunman got of an Audi vehicle and targeted officers by firing an automatic gun towards them
A man and a woman put their hands in the air as armed officers stood just yards away from them following the incident in the city
Officers searched the home of the suspected gunman on Thursday evening after they travelled to his home in the east part of the capital
People were seen running away from the area after Thursday night’s attack, which has been described as being ‘terrorist related’
Police officers searched the home of the suspected gunman in east Paris following the attack in the capital on Thursday
The Audi which is believed to belong to the attacker was taken away from the scene on the back of a lorry as police rushed to the popular avenue
Forensic experts and police officers were seen examining evidence from a van on the Champs Elysees in central Paris
‘I heard six gunshots’: Eyewitness tells how Paris attack unfolded
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack and dramatic video footage showed the immediate aftermath of the incident which left one policeman dead.
Pierre-Henry Brandet, spokesman for the French Interior Ministry, confirmed that both injured officers in hospital were now ‘out of danger’ and ‘stable’, while the female tourist was far less badly hurt.
Mr Brandet did not name any of the victims, but praised the officers for ‘helping to avoid a bloodbath’ by ‘neutralising’ the attacker as quickly as possible.
French President Francois Hollande said the attack was ‘terrorist related’ and scheduled an emergency meeting following the shootings on Thursday evening.
Mr Hollande said a national tribute will be paid to the policeman and added that a ‘passerby was hit’ before the ‘assailant was neutralised’.
Conservative contender Francois Fillon, who has campaigned against ‘Islamic totalitarianism,’ said on France 2 television that he was canceling his planned campaign stops Friday.
Far-right candidate Le Pen, who campaigns against immigration and Islamic fundamentalism, took to Twitter to offer her sympathy for law enforcement officers ‘once again targeted.’
She canceled a minor campaign stop, but scheduled another.
Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron offered his thoughts to the family of the dead officer.
Socialist Benoit Hamon tweeted his ‘full support’ to police against terrorism.
Le Pen and Francois Fillon announced that they have both cancelled their campaigning on Friday.
Paris gunman’s neighbour speaks out as police raid suspect’s home
French presidential election candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon (pictured) took part in the TV show just days before the election
French presidential candidates, including National Front party leader Marine Le Pen (pictured), took part in a key debate
Mr Brandet said ‘all lines of investigation were being pursued’, while intelligence sources said the dead assailant was a known radical on a so-called S-file, for ‘State-security’.
This means he would have been under surveillance, because he was a known risk to the country.
An eyewitness, called Chelloug, said: ‘It was a terrorist. He came out with a Kalashnikov and started shooting, but he could’ve shot us on the pavement and killed more people with a spray of shots.
‘But he targeted the policemen and fortunately there were the policemen who killed him.’
Another witness said: ‘I saw someone shoot at the police officers. They returned fire, they killed him, he fell on the floor. And then the emergency services came.
‘It took place by Zara and there was a CRS (Republican Security Companies) van parked up and the man shot the police officers. He took out a weapon and shot them.
‘I think the police officer was killed on the spot and his colleagues fired back and killed the individual.’
The attack comes just three days before the first round of balloting in France’s tense presidential election.
A witness, identified only as Ines, told BFM that she heard a shooting, saw a man’s body on the ground and the area was quickly evacuated by police.
It comes just two days after police arrested two men in southern Marseille with weapons and explosives who were suspected of preparing an attack to disrupt the first-round of the presidential election on Sunday.
France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of alert since a string of terror attacks that began in 2015, which have killed over 230 people.
Thousands of troops and armed police have been deployed to guard tourist hotspots such as the Champs Elysees or other potential targets like government buildings and religious sites.
Hollande says they are convinced the attack is of terrorist nature
Police officers quickly secured the area – which is popular with tourists and Parisians – after the attack and the road was on lockdown by 9pm
Police search the car reportedly used in Paris attack
Police officers took positions near the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris after the gunman – who was known to the security services – launched the attack
An armed soldier spoke to a man a told him to leave the area following the fatal shooting close to the Arc de Triomphe (pictured)
French soldiers secure the Champs Elysees Avenue after a police officer was killed when a gunman opened fire in Paris
French police officers searched the area after some of their colleagues were shot in the heart of Paris on Thursday evening
French President Francois Hollande (pictured) said the attack was ‘terrorist related’ and scheduled an emergency meeting following the shootings
‘Stay back, stay back!’ Police warn after shooting in Paris
LE PEN ACCUSED OF ‘EXPLOITING’ ATTACK FOR VOTES
By Thomas Burrows for MailOnline
French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has accused far-right candidate Marine Le Pen of ‘exploiting’ the Champs-Elysees terror attack to win votes ahead of Sunday’s presidential election.
In the wake of the shooting Le Pen called for foreign terror suspects to be expelled immediately and claimed France needed a ‘presidency which acts and protects us.’
Responding to that, Cazeneuve, a Socialist, said Le Pen’s National Front (FN) ‘after each attack, seeks to exploit it and use it for purely political means.’
Experts believe the shooting last night could boost Le Pen’s chances of getting elected just days before France goes to the polls.
Le Pen today called for foreign terror suspects to be kicked out the country despite the fact the ISIS gunman was French
Voters could flock to far-right candidate Marine Le Pen following the latest terror attack
In last night’s attack a police officer was killed and two more were injured after a gunman opened fire close to the Champs-Elysees.
Le Pen today called for foreign terror suspects to be kicked out the country despite the fact the ISIS gunman was French. The 39-year-old had used the war name ‘Abu Yousuf the Belgian’.
Officials confirmed the homegrown fanatic was a French national despite his nickname.
A manhunt is underway for the second suspect who travelled by train to France from Belgium.
The Champs-Elysees terror attack could boost far-right candidate Marine Le Pen’s chances of getting elected, experts believe
The shooting took place just four days before the French election and experts believe it could bolster Le Pen’s chances of being elected.
Le Pen has made immigration and security the core part of her campaign. She has pledged to tighten French borders controls and build more jails, and claimed authorities were not doing enough to protect citizens from terror attacks.
More than half of police officers in France had already said they were voting for Le Pen because of her strong anti-terror stance, according to an IFOP poll.
Experts believe it could increase her chances of winning Sunday’s election.
Fredrik Erixon, director at the European Centre for International Political Economy, told CNBC: ‘[It could lead to] a greater performance of Marine Le Pen than otherwise would have been the case.
‘It’s difficult to see how this attack will not play into the hands of political forces that want this campaign to be focused only on issues around migration and terrorism.’
Vishnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank, added: ‘The Paris gunman attack may well swing support in her favor; and this may not be picked up by the polls in a timely manner.’
Mobile phone footage appears to show officer looking over ‘body’
Armed police officers were quick on the scene and closed the world famous avenue following the incident which shocked the city
The world famous was shut at around 9pm and it is believed police are still searching for a second suspect in relation to the attack
Police officers blocked the access of a street near the Champs Elysees in Paris after the fatal shooting on Thursday, April 20
Officers were wearing vests and helmets as they patrolled the area close to where the fatal shooting took. A 39-year-old man is believed to be responsible for the shooting
The world famous street was put on lockdown by 9pm and officers guarded the area in central Paris (pictured, the Eiffel Tower in the background)
A policeman attended the scene and was armed with a gun following the incident. Police have reportedly issued a warrant for a second attacker
Up until now, polls showed voters more concerned about unemployment and their spending power than terrorism or security, though analysts warned this would change in the event of further bloodshed.
For weeks, centrist former banker Le Pen has been out in front but opinion polls now show there is a chance that any of the four leading candidates could reach the second-round runoff on May 7.
Scandal-plagued conservative Fillon and far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon have closed the gap substantially in the last two weeks.
A COUNTRY UNDER SIEGE: TIMELINE OF FRANCE TERROR
By Rory Tingle for MailOnline
March, 18, 2017 – Convicted criminal with links to radical Islam shouted ‘I am here to die for Allah, there will be deaths’ seconds before he was shot dead during an attack at Orly airport. The 39-year-old, named locally as career criminal Ziyed Ben Belgacem, was killed after wrestling a soldier’s gun from her and fleeing into a McDonald’s. He sent a text message to his brother and father stating ‘I shot the police’, shortly before he was killed.
February 3, 2017 – A man is shot five times outside the Louvre museum in the heart of Paris after attempting to storm the historic art gallery.
July 14, 2016 – Amid Bastille Day celebrations in the Riviera city of Nice, a large truck is driven into a festive crowd. Some 86 people from a wide variety of countries are killed. The driver is shot dead. Islamic State extremists claim responsibility for the attack. The state of emergency in France is extended and extra protection, including robust barriers to prevent similar attacks, is put in place at major sites in France.
June 13, 2016 – Two French police officers are murdered in their home in front of their 3-year-old son. Islamic State claims responsibility for the slaying, which was carried out by a jihadist with a prior terrorist conviction. He is killed by police on the scene.
Nov. 13, 2015 – Islamic State militants kill 130 people in France’s worst atrocity since World War II. A series of suicide bomb and shooting attacks are launched on crowded sites in central Paris, as well as the northern suburb of Saint-Denis. Most of those killed are in a crowded theater where hostages are taken. Islamic State extremists claim responsibility and say it was in retaliation for French participation in airstrikes on the militant group’s positions in Syria and Iraq. It leads to the declaration of a state of emergency in France. Police powers are expanded.
Jan. 7, 2015 – Two brothers kill 11 people inside the Paris building where the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is headquartered in what Islamic State extremists claim is retaliation for the publication of cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad. More are killed subsequently in attacks on a kosher market in eastern Paris and on police. There are 17 victims in all, including two police officers. The attackers are killed.
The UK Foreign Office said: ‘The British Embassy is in contact with local authorities and urgently seeking further information following reports of a shooting incident on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
‘You should remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local security authorities and/or your tour operator.
‘If you’re in the area and it is safe to do so, contact your friends and family to tell them you are safe.’
were photographed standing on top of a vehicle on the Champs Elysees following an incident which left one officer dead
French police officers reacted after the shooting which left one officer dead and two more seriously injured in Paris
French soldiers were armed with guns (pictured) and stood guard at the Arc de Triomphe near the Champs Elysees in Paris
Heavily armed officers had flooded the area following the gunshots which were heard in a busy part of the French capital
Reports have suggested that two police officers have been killed on the Champs Elysees in central Paris (pictured) this evening
It was originally believed the other officer was seriously wounded while the attacker was killed on the world famous avenue (pictured)
The incident last night comes as France remains in a state of emergency following the Paris attacks in 2015 and the Bastille Day killings in Nice in 2016.
The shooting comes just hours after one of the busiest roads in Paris was closed off by police as officers dealt with a ‘suspicious package’.
Reports suggested that items were discovered by officers as Rue de Rivoli remained shut. Stunned witnesses described seeing a large police presence on the two-mile-long road.
Rue de Rivoli is a busy commercial street just north of the River Seine which is home to some of the most fashionable shops in the world.
CHAMPS-ELYSEES: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AVENUE IN THE WORLD
By Thomas Burrows for MailOnline
The Champs-Elysees – the scene of Thursday night’s terror attack – is the beating historic heart of Paris.
It has been described as the ‘most beautiful avenue’ in the world and is visited by millions of tourists every year.
Tens of thousands of people daily throng the tree-lined 1.2 mile avenue that is home to luxury stores and chain stores, cafes, cinemas and high-end offices.
A tourist draw as famed as the Eiffel Tower just across the River Seine, the avenue, stretching from the Arc de Triomphe down to Concorde Square, was first laid out in 1670.
Over the decades people have gathered there to mark momentous moments in French history.
During the French Revolution in 1789 an angry mob set off from the avenue to march on Versailles, Louis XVI’s opulent retreat.
It was also the site chosen by General Charles de Gaulle to celebrate the August 25, 1944, liberation of Paris from the Germans during World War Two.
More recently, hundreds of thousands congregated along the avenue to celebrate France’s 1998 World Cup victory (sealed with a 3-0 win over Brazil) on home soil.
The Champs Elysees is famously the finish line for the world’s toughest cycling race, the Tour de France.
Thursday was not the first time violence has been visited on the avenue.
In 1986, it witnessed two attacks – the first, on February 3, seeing one death and eight injured at the Claridge shopping arcade.
A second attack on March 20 at the Point Show arcade killed two and injured 29. Both attacks were linked to Middle East terrorism.
On Bastille Day in 2002, president Jacques Chirac survived an assassination attempt by a right-wing extremist who fired off one shot from a rifle hidden in a guitar case before bystanders wrestled him to the ground.
Story 2: Will Marine Le Pen Win In The First Round of French Presidential Election? First Round –Yes — — Making France Great Again — Second Round –Marine Le Pen May Be First Woman President or Emmanuel Marcon The Youngest President — Videos
“Marine Le Pen will be the next French President” – Christopher Dickey
Dear French People | French Presidential Election 2017
Who will be France’s next leader? | DW English
France’s Presidential Election: What You Need to Know
French election 2017: Who’s who – BBC News
France’s presidential election: A populist front
French Presidential Election 2017 Explained
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and Europe’s far-right movement
Le Pen vs Macron
RT – Why Marine Le Pen is The Only Way to Save Europe #Frexit #EndEU
Le Pen destroys Merkel
Marine Le Pen will not put up with any nonsense from BBC reporter
Marine Le Pen gets poll boost after Paris attack as Donald Trump says her chances of victory have improved
“Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election,” he said.
US presidents typically avoid weighing in on specific candidates running in overseas election. But Mr Trump suggested his opinion was no different from an average observer, saying: “Everybody is making predictions on who is going to win. I’m no different than you.”
Xavier Jugelé, 37, a policeman who had been deployed in the 2015 Bataclan attack, was killed in the shooting.
Ms Le Pen, the far-Right candidate, blasted the mainstream “naive” Left and Right for failing to get tough on Islamism, calling for France to instantly reinstate border checks and expel foreigners who are on the watch lists of intelligence services.
François Fillon, the mainstream conservative candidate, pledged an “iron fist” in the fight against “Islamist totalitarianism” – his priority if elected. “We are at war, it’s either us or them,” said the conservative, whose campaign has been weighed down by allegations he gave his British wife a “fake job”.
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Macron, the independent centrist, whom critics dismiss as a soft touch, hit back at claims shutting borders and filling French prisons would solve the problem, saying: “There’s no such thing as zero risk. Anyone who pretends (otherwise) is both irresponsible and deceitful.”
Sticking to his campaign agenda, far-Left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon told everyone to keep a “cool head” as he took part in a giant picnic.
A last-minute Odoxa poll taken after the attack suggested that Mr Macron was still on course to come first in Sunday’s first round, with Ms Le Pen just behind and through to the May 7 runoff.
However, Mr Fillon and Mr Mélenchon were still snapping at their heels.
The government on Friday announced elite units would join 50,000 police and troops to guard polling booths on Sunday in France’s first presidential election to be held in a state of emergency.
Matthieu Croissandeau, editor of Nouvel Obs magazine, said the French are now thicker-skinned after two years of bloodshed. “The French are unfortunately getting used to terror attacks on home soil and I don’t think this latest one created the shock and awe that might have made a significant difference,” he said.
Ms Le Pen has struggled to get the campaign to focus on her party’s pet issues of security, Islam and immigration. By contrast, she has been thrown on the defensive over her position to pull out of the eurozone.
After the attack, she called on the “notoriously feeble” socialist, President François Hollande, to instantly reinstate border checks and expel foreigners who are on the watch lists of intelligence services. She said: “We cannot afford to lose this war. But for the past 10 years, Left-wing and Right-wing governments have done everything they can for us to lose it.
“We need a presidency which acts and protects us,” she said from her Paris campaign headquarters. Elected French president, I would immediately, and with no hesitation, carry out the battle plan against Islamist terrorism and against judicial laxity.”
Marine Le Pen reacts to the terror attack in Paris
But Ms Le Pen was not the only one to issue stern pledges. Mr Fillon, who also talks tough on security, said the fight against “Islamist totalitarianism” should be the next president’s priority.
“It will require an unyielding determination and a cool head,” the former prime minister said. “We are at war, there is no alternative, it’s us or them.”
Mr Fillon, though knocked off his initial course towards victory by incessant allegations involving “fake job” payments to his British wife, promised to govern with “an iron fist”.
But the moderate Mr Macron, whom other candidates have portrayed as too inexperienced, took a different tack, warning against any attempts to use the shooting for political gain. “I think we must once and for all have a spirit of responsibility at this extreme time and not give in to panic and not allow it to be exploited, which some might try to do,” he told French radio.
Ms Le Pen’s solutions, he said, were woefully simplistic and “would not protect France”. And he added that to promise a “zero risk” scenario “is both irresponsible and deceitful”.
He also took a swipe at Mr Fillon, saying that intelligence had been depleted on his watch as the prime minister in Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency.
Meanwhile, Bernard Cazeneuve, the Socialist prime minister, accused Le Pen of “shamelessly seeking to exploit fear and emotion”.
Footage shows moments after suspected terrorist is shot in Paris
Opinion polls have for months forecast that Le Pen would make it through to the run-off, but then lose in the final vote. Given the margin of error, none of the leading four candidates is a sure bet to reach the final. All hope to woo the third of French voters still undecided.
Previous terror attacks ahead of elections – such as the November 2015 attacks in Paris before regional ballots – did not effect those ballots.
Analyst Who Predicted Trump’s Ascendancy Bets on Le Pen Win
by Sid Verma
April 21, 2017, 3:41 AM CDT April 21, 2017, 5:42 AM CDT
Undecided voters bad news for Macron, says GaveKal’s founder
Recommends overweight sterling, large-caps; bond shorts
How Will Markets React to Elections in France?
Don’t bank on a relief rally in the euro area anytime soon.
Markets are underpricing the prospect of Marine Le Pen emerging victorious in the French election as a sea of undecided voters throws into sharp relief pronounced apathy for center-leftist Emmanuel Macron — the front-runner by a whisker — and the backlash against the European Union project.
That’s the conclusion drawn by Charles Gave, founder of Hong-Kong based asset-allocation consultancy GaveKal Research, who predicted the triumph of Donald Trump in the U.S. election, and is now betting on a win for the anti-euro National Front candidate.
“Le Pen’s momentum is a slow-moving reaction against the men of Davos — as we have seen with Brexit and Trump — but markets don’t want to believe it,” he said by phone before the first round of the French poll on April 23.
Given the prospect of a Le Pen victory, Gave, who has been researching tactical asset allocation for more than 40 years, is advising clients to adopt long positioning in the pound as the U.K. would benefit from haven bids, and shorts on inflation-linked German bonds amid the risk of deflation in the euro area.
The French economist also recommends bets on the likely outperformance of publicly-listed European multinationals, given their outsize share of income in foreign currencies. In effect, for investors obliged to invest liquidity in euros, Gave says a basket of high-quality stocks is a safer bet than euro-denominated government bonds.
“The market is talking about the nightmare scenario but it’s not pricing it in” said Mark Tinker, head of AXA Framlington Asia. Tinker’s a GaveKal client, and admirer of Gave’s tail-risk warnings over the past year. “After Sunday, we will have more information to make a considered risk-return wager to trade and hedge, but high-quality European companies and German bonds look like an attractive bet,” Tinker said.
Markets are pining for a scenario that would preserve the status quo: Macron, an independent candidate, defeating Le Pen in the second round on May 7. Thursday saw something of a French relief rally, with strong demand at a government debt auction, while France’s benchmark CAC 40 Index rose 1.5 percent aspolls showed Macron pulling marginally ahead of Le Pen.
The euro held steady on Friday and French bonds gained after a police officer was shot in Paris, which may influence the outcome of the first-round vote, according to some analysts. The CAC 40 dropped for the first time in three days, declining 0.5 percent.
The stars, however, appear to be aligning for the National Front candidate, said Gave. The fact two candidates for the runoff are likely to be determined by voters who have yet to make up their minds — as many as 40 percent — is a bad omen for the centrist contender, he said.
At least half of the far-left and half of the center-right won’t vote for Macron in the second round if he is pitted against Le Pen, believing he is“tainted” by his association with Francois Hollande’s government, and would rather abstain, Gave said.
Supporters of Francois Fillon, a center-right candidate whose momentum has been curtailed by graft charges, and a sizable chunk of Macron’s followers would probably rally to Le Pen’s cause if she were to face leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the final round, according to Gave. He sees only Fillon with a chance to defeat Le Pen in the run-off.
If she emerges victorious, the euro would tank as markets would price in the prospect of its dissolution, rather than focus on Le Pen’s legislative hurdles to exit the single-currency bloc. French and Italian bonds will be “unquotable” given vanishing bids, and the European banking system would be beset by seismic turmoil, he said.
Le Pen waves at the audience after speaking at a rally in Paris on April 17. Christophe Petit Tesson / EPA
COGOLIN, France — Muslims preoccupy Jennifer Troin.
“I’m worried about my nieces having to wear the veil,” said the soft-spoken 29-year-old.
This fear has helped propel the young mother to the far-right of the political spectrum ahead of key presidential elections Sunday — and into the arms of the hard-line National Front party.
Troin sells children’s clothes at a store in Cogolin, a town of 11,000 a few miles from the jet-set resorts of the French Riviera. In 2014, Cogolin became one of a handful of communities nationwide to elect mayors from the National Front, which is also known by the acronym FN.
Jennifer Troin, 29, is a sales assistant in a children’s clothes store in Cogolin, France on April 13, 2017.Saphora Smith / for NBC News
Troin told NBC News that it wasn’t just the FN’s stance on Islam and immigration that attracted her, but also the party’s populist take on the economy.
But most of all, it was the party’s charismatic leader, Marine Le Pen, who captured Troin’s loyalty.
“She fights for women’s rights against Islam,” she said. “I vote because of Marine.”
Troin is part of a quiet army of female National Front supporters, who could well tip the balance of the election and give the presidency to the hard-right.
An FN victory would rewrite the continent’s political playbook, given the party’s pledge to take France out of the European Union. Were it to win, it would not have been an easy ride for a movement that peaked in 2002 when founder Jean Mari Le Pen — Marine Le Pen’s father — reached the second and final round of the presidential election.
French voters flocked to the polls in the runoff to ensure Le Pen did not win, instead electing former President Jacques Chirac with a resounding 78 percent of the vote. Most pollsters expect a similar outcome in May’s second-round vote, predicting moderate voters to rally once again to shut out the FN.
But few doubt that the party’s anti-immigrant and anti-establishment platform is resonating.
The Front’s anti-Islamic message is especially potent in France, whose 4.7 million Muslims make up around 7.5 percent of the population. Islamist militant attacks have killed more than 230 people over two years and plunged the country into a long-term state of emergency.
Marine Le Pen: Mass Immigration Is a Tragedy for France 1:00
This anxiety deepened on the eve of the election after a gunman ambushed three Parisian police officers on the Champs-Elysees late Thursday, killing one and wounding two others. ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting and French President Francois Hollande said it was likely a terrorist attack.
Meanwhile, the FN’s influence has spread from its heartlands along the Mediterranean coast and in the rust-belt north, into rural “forgotten” France.
‘Marine is different’
Polling institute Elabe recently predicted that 22 percent of women would vote for the National Front in the first round Sunday — almost 5 percent more than in 2012.
With just days to go, polls show the race is tightening. Centrist Emmanuel Macron is edging his way ahead on 24 percent and Le Pen is a fraction behind on 22.5 percent, according to Bloomberg polling.
Just below them, hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon has enjoyed a late surge and scandal-hit conservative Francois Fillon has hung in there despite a slew of allegations that he paid thousands of euros to his British-born wife for assistance she allegedly did not provide. A third of voters remain undecided.
The FN’s ability to motivate French women could be decisive. Traditionally, it has struggled to attract female voters amid accusations of sexism, racism and anti-Semitism.
In its early years under Jean-Marie Le Pen, the party advocated a traditional image of women, opposed abortion rights and developed a reputation for a macho, strongman culture.
This bias showed. The FN was far less successful at attracting women than men. During Jean-Marie Le Pen’ time in charge, around 12 percent of French women supported the party compared with 17 percent of men, according toSciences Po Cevipof, a political institute based in Paris.
Marine Le Pen changed this.
Since taking over in 2011, she has softened the party’s image, steering the FN away from some of its overtly anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric in an effort to broaden its electoral base. In 2015, she expelled her father after he repeated his view that the Holocaust was a “detail of history.”
In the run up to the this year’s election, Le Pen dropped her last name from campaign handouts, referring to herself simply as Marine.
More recently, she specifically targeted the female vote. She has published special pamphlets and a campaign video that describes her as a woman and a mother and shows her flicking through family photo albums. She has also changed the party’s logo from a flame to a blue rose.
For Troin, the children’s clothes seller in Cogolin, her interest in the National Front has grown with Marine Le Pen’s rise. While immigration, job security and her fear of Islam remained underlying motivators, she was also attracted to the party’s re-brand.
For her, the former leader “was too outspoken, too offensive. He was a Hitler-like figure,” Troin said. “But Marine is different.”
In the last presidential election in 2012 — the first with Marine Le Pen as leader — the party’s gender gap closed to 1.5 percentage points. It’s what Cevipof professor and FN expert Nonna Mayer called the “Marine Le Pen effect.”
The party has long advocated clamping down on immigration and securing borders, and throughout her campaign Le Pen has consistently made the country’s Muslims a target.
“In France we respect women, we don’t beat them, we don’t ask them to hide themselves behind a veil as if they were impure. We drink wine when we want, we can criticize religion and speak freely,” she said during a rally Monday night, comments clearly aimed at Muslims.
During the rally, Le Pen pledged to suspend all visas from non-European migrants hoping to join their families in France — often code for immigrants from mainly Muslim North Africa and the Middle East.
After Thursday night’s attack in Paris, she again singled out what she sees as the threat posed by Islam.
“It is a war in which there can be no retreat because all our population and all our territory are exposed,” she said.
And for all her rebranding, Marine Le Pen can also fall back into the older, harsher style of messaging.
Cathy, a 50-year-old dental assistant who was shopping for groceries in Cogolin, said she was all set to vote FN but was taken aback by Le Pen’s recent comments that the French were not to blame for the anti-Jewish policies of the government during the Nazi occupation in World War II.
Referring to the “Vel d’Hiv” roundup of Jews by French police in July 1942, in which nearly 13,000 were detained and deported to concentration camps, Le Pen told French radio earlier this month she thought France was “not responsible.”
Cathy, who didn’t want to be identified by her second name, said Le Pen’s remarks had made her pause.
“Perhaps she has the same ideas as her father but they’re just hidden behind good PR skills,” she said. “So I’m still thinking.”
Others needed no time to reflect.
“The FN is xenophobic, racist and anti-feminist,” said retired teacher Mireille Escarrat. “For me it feels like the 1930s. We’re going backwards.”
‘I don’t talk politics here’
Many of the National Front supporters interviewed by NBC News were reluctant to admit it, and others were concerned about being named.
“I don’t talk politics here,” a local woman said, having led the way into a backroom of her business in the town. The 60-year-old asked not to be named or for her business to be described because she felt that admitting her loyalty to the FN would damage her reputation.
“I wouldn’t mind if it weren’t for my business,” she added, out of earshot of her customers. “But this is somewhere everyone can come whether you vote communist or for the right.”
Even in this town — where 53 percent of the population voted FN in 2014 — voting Le Pen still carries a social stigma. There’s no telling just how many closet female FN voters there may be.
The party’s marriage of socialist economic policy and right-wing identity politics is working in the town, which sits in the FN’s traditional southern heartland. With the decline of traditional industries and unemployment at 18 percent, locals worry Cogolin is being reduced to a seasonal economy dependent on rich resort communities.
Newly-converted women at the FN’s regional headquarters in neighboring Sainte-Maxime said Sunday’s election would be the first time they voted for the Front in a presidential race.
“We didn’t vote for Jean-Marie Le Pen because he scared us,” said Monique Guckert, 67, a retired shop assistant. “His ideas were too fascist, too racist. It was too much.”
Even the FN mayor of Cogolin, Marc Etienne Lansade, admitted his mother would never have voted for Jean-Marie Le Pen.
“He drove her crazy,” he said. “Women understand Marine Le Pen, she’s divorced, she has three children, she works — she’s a modern woman,” he added, sitting in his second-floor office in the town hall.
Still, not all women appreciate Le Pen’s message. On Monday, a topless protester carrying flowers charged the candidate during a rally northern Paris.
Le Pen does not try to make out that she is a feminist. Of her 144 manifesto pledges, only one addresses women’s issues. In it, she promises to defend women’s rights by fighting against Islam, implementing a plan for equal pay and combating social and job insecurity.
“She’s a fake feminist,” said Camille Froidevaux-Metterie, a political scientist and expert on women in politics at the University of Reims.
Asked if a Le Pen win would be a victory for women, she said that though symbolically “it would not be nothing.” She said it would mean France is ready for a female president but would have elected one on a non-feminist agenda.
Centrist Emmanuel Macron’s lead in France’s presidential election has narrowed though he is still on course to win, two polls casting light on voter intentions following a televised debate between candidates showed.
Macron would win 25 percent of the April 23 first round vote while far right leader Marine Le Pen was seen getting 24 percent, according to a Harris Interactive poll for France Televisions published on Thursday.
Both of their scores were down a percentage point from the last time the poll was conducted on March 23, though they would still comfortably make it into the May 7 runoff.
There Macron was seen winning the presidency 62 percent to Le Pen’s 38 percent, a margin that was down from 65 percent to 35 percent two weeks ago.
The poll was partly taken after Tuesday’s four-hour debate, the second during the campaign, but the first to include all 11 candidates and which saw Le Pen put on the defensive from all sides.
With a second solid performance thanks to his sharp wit, hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon marked further poll gains, nearly catching up with erstwhile favorite Francois Fillon, a conservative former prime minister.
Melenchon’s score climbed to 17 percent in the first round from 13.5 percent two weeks ago while Fillon, whose campaign has struggled as he faced nepotism allegations, saw his score hold steady at 18 percent.
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.Reuters
The results in the Harris poll closely mirrored those in an Elabe poll for BFM TV published late on Wednesday and conducted in full after the debate.
That showed Macron’s first round vote at 23.5 percent, his lowest score in a month and down from 25.5 percent the last time the poll was conducted on March 28-29. Le Pen was also seen at 23.5 percent, down from 24 percent.
Elabe forecast Macron to win the runoff with 62 percent to 38 percent for Le Pen.
Story 3: Trump Administration Rolls Out New Tax Reform Plan and House Votes On Repeal and Replace Compromise Bill — By Day 100 — American People Want The FairTax And Full Repeal of Obamacare and Republican Establishment Wants Partial Repeal of Obamacare and Border Adjustment Tax — Stupid Party? — Video
OMB Director Mulvaney on Tax Plan, Trump’s Priorities
Trump In First 100 Days is DESPERATE For a WIN, “Government SHUTDOWN Is Not A Win”
President Trump :Tax Reform Plan Coming Very Soon – Cavuto
FairTax: Fire Up Our Economic Engine (Official HD)
Freedom from the IRS! – FairTax Explained in Detail
Pence on the Fair Tax
Is America’s Tax System Fair?
What’s Killing the American Dream?
The Trump Effect
JANUARY 2017BY: JOHN HILTON
The Trump Effect
Feeling relieved? You’re not alone in the financial services industry as 2017 dawns with pro-business Republicans controlling Congress and the White House.
That doesn’t mean agents and advisors can relax and ignore what is going on in Washington. President-elect Donald Trump and lawmakers have an agenda that will affect the insurance world in many ways.
How? Let’s look at what is at stake:
Taxes: House Speaker Paul Ryan is determined to push tax reform and he may have his best opportunity. The result would be a significant tax reduction for investors. But can he and Trump come to an agreement?
Fiduciary Rule: Trump has not commented on the Department of Labor rule specifically, but his surrogates have said he is opposed. The path to killing the rule is a little more complicated, but a delay is likely.
Regulation: Other significant regulations promoted by the Obama administration — from the Dodd-Frank Act to DOL overtime rules — are certain to be gutted or killed. In 2012, Trump wrote that “government regulations cost us annually $1.75 trillion. They constitute a stealth tax that is larger than the amount the IRS collects every year.”
ACA: The president-elect said repeatedly on the campaign trail that he would eliminate Obama’s signature health care program. But the practical implications of doing so are not insignificant. What can Republicans realistically accomplish?
Editor’s note: After assessing the issues and variables affecting them, the InsuranceNewsNet editorial team came up with odds that successful reform will result.
THE TIME FOR TAX REFORM?
This is Ryan’s hope, the one issue he has longed to see to completion. With a like-party president and a Senate majority, tax reform should be a slam dunk. Yet, it isn’t.
Comprehensive tax reform is “still a tough, tough nut,” said Michael Lewan, longtime Democratic strategist. “Think about it: We haven’t had significant tax reform since the early days of the Bush administration. Speaker Ryan and Donald Trump are going to have to fashion a coalition of Democrats to get any type of meaningful tax reform done.”
Then there is the personality clash between Trump and Ryan, who refused for months to explicitly endorse the president-elect. Will those hard feelings be left in the past once the curtain comes down on inauguration festivities?
For sure, there is ample promise for harmony between the Speaker and the White House since the two leaders share similar tax-cut plans.
Both would slash the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 33 percent. Both would reduce taxes on corporations, in largely similar ways.
Ryan’s entire tax philosophy represents a move away from simply slashing the top income tax rate. Instead, the GOP is focusing on targeted tax cuts and exclusions to benefit high earners with investment income.
The Ryan plan drastically slashes taxes on both corporate income and income from capital gains, dividends and interest. Likewise, it cuts the corporate income tax to 20 percent, and allows taxpayers to exclude 50 percent of their net capital gains, dividends and interest income.
Some of those changes will make many in the insurance industry happy, but they might also be disappointed by the Ryan/Trump treatment of the estate tax. Trump supports full repeal and Ryan voted for the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015.
The estate tax has an 80 percent probability of being repealed by Trump and the Republican Congress, said Ken Kies, managing director of The Federal Policy Group, a Beltway lobbying firm.
“Our best opportunity to stop this is to convince the Republican leadership that having Trump sign on to an estate tax repeal — something that would benefit his family — would be a disaster from a public relations standpoint,” he said.
Kies predicted that Trump’s top priority would be what he called “one big budget deal” that would encompass repeal of the Affordable Care Act, an infrastructure program and tax reform. “And we think that will be done by the August recess,” he said.
The incoming treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, promised 3 to 4 percent growth. The Trump plan to encourage repatriation of the estimated $1 trillion that large U.S. corporations hold in foreign subsidiaries will help offset the loss of revenue, Mnuchin said.
Trump has proposed a special 10 percent rate on overseas funds the companies shift back to the U.S.
Odds of a Tax reform bill: 60%
IS THE FIDUCIARY RULE TOAST?
Trump did not mention the DOL fiduciary rule during the campaign, but Anthony Scaramucci, his top Wall Street advisor, assured the industry that the president-elect will work to defeat it. This is one issue where Trump and Ryan will find agreement.
The Speaker is the top lawmaker to speak out against the DOL rule, which was published in April 2016 and is scheduled to begin taking effect on April 10.
Since the rule is already on the books, however, getting rid of it will not be easy. The simplest thing Trump can do is delay the rule while the administration develops a long-term strategy for it.
“What are Trump’s priorities going to be?” said Scott Kallenbach, research director for LIMRA’s strategic research. “He’s got a lot up in the air right now. You’re seeing stories that he’s going to focus on Dodd-Frank and Obamacare, tax reform, immigration reform, the Iranian nuclear deal. So I think it’s a matter of where does the DOL fit in this list?”
Permanent repeal of the rule, which holds anyone working with retirement funds to a “best interest” standard, can happen three ways:
» Lawsuits. As of early December, opponents were 0-2 via the lawsuit route, with federal judges in the District of Columbia and Kansas rejecting plaintiffs’ requests for a preliminary injunction.
That is not as bad as it sounds. After all, opponents need only to win one case out of the four to cripple the rule, whereas the government needs to win every case.
A third lawsuit filed in Northern District of Texas court appears to be the strongest opposition case. The district, as well as its appeals circuit court, is known for being tough on government agencies. Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn heard the case Nov. 17 in Dallas. A group of plaintiffs are led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
» Legislation. The House Financial Services Committee has legislation ready to go, gutting both the fiduciary rule and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.
The Financial CHOICE Act would block the DOL from implementing its fiduciary rule by incorporating it into the Retail Investor Protection Act, which passed the House last year.
Introduced by Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., the RIPA requires the Securities and Exchange Commission to move first on fiduciary rulemaking before the DOL can act.
The bill eliminates several Dodd-Frank provisions, including federal “bailouts” and the Volcker Rule, which restricts trading activities at banks.
Under CHOICE — which stands for Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs — the Financial Stability Oversight Council would no longer be able to designate risky non-banks and others as “systemically important financial institutions.”
The FSOC was created by Dodd-Frank to review the systemic risk to the capital markets presented by large, global financial institutions. MetLife has fought the designation, which was considered one of the reasons the company shed its advisor unit.
The FSOC’s authority to break up a large financial institution if the Federal Reserve finds that the firm “poses a grave threat to the financial stability of the United States” would also disappear if the bill is passed.
The bill would also require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to be subject to bipartisan oversight and congressional appropriations.
The legislation route will be messy, particularly if Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., opt to filibuster and rally public opinion against the measure. Republicans may not want to spend valuable political capital on such an effort. And that leaves:
» Regulation. Perhaps the most effective route to terminate the fiduciary rule would be for Trump’s new labor secretary to suspend the rule while the agency crafts a new one.
That would mean following the exhaustive process of public notice, supporting studies, public hearings and publication. But it would get rid of the rule without having to rely on getting a set number of votes.
The incoming secretary of labor could direct the agency not to spend any resources to enforce the fiduciary rule. However, that would have no impact on the most severe aspect of the rule: the litigation exposure. Now that the rule is published, if it takes effect on April 10, advisors will be vulnerable to private lawsuits.
Odds of fiduciary rule reform or removal: 75%
INDUSTRY IN FLUX
Trump and the Republicans may have dominated on Election Day, and the DOL rule may well be doomed.
But Main Street advisors such as Taylor Sledge say they need to keep planning for a fiduciary world.
For Sledge, founder of Sledge & Co. in Madison, Miss., that means getting additional licenses and spending more time on compliance issues. The 29-year-old Sledge offers a full array of financial planning services and said his small firm needs to be prepared for whatever regulations come from Washington.
“We take what we are dealing with and we try to use it as positively as possible, but it is not something that I am choosing to view as a hurdle,” he said. “It is a challenge that I will choose to view as an opportunity.”
Even if the DOL rule eventually disappears, the Securities and Exchange Commission is working on its version of a fiduciary standard as well. While the SEC is mired in political squabbling and has two vacant seats, many in the industry feel the agency should take the lead in developing a fiduciary rule.
SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White has said its fiduciary version is not close to completion. White announced she will resign and forgo the final two years of her term. That means Trump can fill three vacancies and short-circuit any regulation the SEC has in the works.
Still, uncertainty remains, said Howard Schneider, founder and president of the consulting firm Practical Perspectives, Boxford, Mass.
“As we’ve seen with so many things, there’s a lack of clarity with what that policy is going to be as there’s been no stand taken on the DOL fiduciary rule issues yet,” he said weeks after the election.
“Advisors proceed with plans to implement the rule and what changes that means to their home offices and advisor offices, but at the same time the rule might never be implemented, or implemented in a very different way than people anticipated.”
Eszylfie Taylor, president of Taylor Insurance and Financial Services, Pasadena, Calif., has a foot in both worlds as a commission- and fee-based financial advisor.
The DOL rule might be more impactful, but is not much different from many other regulations that constantly change. The advisor world is best focused on making the best of whatever happens, he said.
“Everyone will need insurance, everyone needs estate planning, everyone needs advice,” Taylor said. “No matter what the DOL says, everyone has to plan for retirement. So at the end of the day there’s always a need for the work that we do and there will always be a way to work within the rule to help our clients.”
Should the rule be abolished, “the annuities and commission-based products agents will be pretty ecstatic, I would think,” he said.
But it’s hard to predict anything in the financial services world, he added. Those who predicted a market crash upon Trump’s election were stunned when the opposite happened, Taylor noted.
WILL THE OVERTIME RULE BE FIRED?
Employers gained a bit of clarity in late November when a Texas judge granted a preliminary injunction freezing the Department of Labor overtime rule.
Judge Amos Mazzant of the Eastern District of Texas granted a preliminary injunction to 21 state plaintiffs, led by Nevada. The rule affects an estimated 4.2 million workers who were to be newly eligible for time-and-a-half wages for each hour they worked beyond 40 each week.
The rule would roughly double the $23,660 threshold at which executive, administrative and professional employees are exempt from overtime. The DOL estimates the new rule would affect more than 4 million workers, and 19 percent of all insurance industry workers.
Mazzant ruled that the plaintiffs proved both the likelihood of winning a court case, and irreparable financial harm — two key standards often difficult to achieve to gain an injunction.
The Labor Department could seek an expedited appeal to get the law free of the courts during President Barack Obama’s final weeks. Or the agency could drop the appeal after Republican President-elect Donald Trump takes office Jan. 20.
The DOL has strong grounds for an appeal, said lawyer Erin M. Sweeney of Miller & Chevalier in Washington, D.C., but it might not matter.
“Even with an expedited appeal, it will be the Trump administration that will have the final word,” she added via email.
In August, Trump cited the overtime rule as an example of the type of burdensome business regulations he would seek to roll back as president.
Employment lawyer Don Phin said the insurance industry isn’t the focus of the law. But that doesn’t mean the industry wouldn’t be affected in a significant way. Agencies would need to know the new rules on who is considered exempt because they are considered “administrative,” for example.
Reached after the decision, Phin said it wasn’t “totally surprising” given the opposition and the court venue. He also agreed the overtime rule looks to be dead.
“At the minimum they know they can drag things out to next term and give the Trump administration an opportunity to change the regs,” he said.
Odds of an Overtime Rule Appeal: 90%
PULLING THE PLUG ON THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT?
The centerpiece of the campaign, and the issue that analysts agree drove much of voter anger, was the Affordable Care Act. Trump vowed to repeal the legislation, and that puts him in complete agreement with GOP leadership in Congress.
As of early December, GOP leaders were touting a plan to repeal the ACA without a replacement. That could give Trump an easy campaign promise to fulfill as early as his first day in office.
But what would the eventual replacement legislation look like?
The president-elect named House Republican Rep. Tom Price of Georgia as his secretary of Health and Human Services. Price helped craft a House GOP plan on health care that was unveiled over the summer, relying on individual tax credits to allow people to buy coverage from private insurers.
The proposal fell far short of a full-scale replacement, leaving key questions unanswered including the size of the tax credits, the overall price tag of the plan, and how many people would be covered.
Since the election, Trump has endorsed keeping certain popular parts of Obamacare, including a provision barring insurers from excluding people with pre-existing conditions from coverage, and another allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health plans. Ryan endorsed keeping those parts of the law.
But Democrats insist there’s no way to keep the popular parts of the law without the elements people don’t like, including requirements for individuals to carry coverage or face tax penalties.
Insurers have said they can only extend coverage to people with pre-existing conditions by having large groups of customers, including healthy people who don’t cost as much to insure. Carriers would likely raise rates on the riskiest customers, assuming they would be allowed to adjust rates.
Losing the requirement that individuals buy health insurance and a potential loss of subsidies could throw the market into turmoil, according to Marcy Buckner, National Association of Health Underwriters vice president of government affairs.
NAHU is working with Trump’s transition team and favors an approach that would keep consumer costs down while ensuring the marketplace is stable.
“The worst outcome in this would be that subsidies would be repealed,” Buckner said. “This would lead to everybody but the sickest Americans leaving the marketplace and put the marketplace into a death spiral.”
Any changes to the ACA will be modest and will be implemented over a period of time, said Susan Combs, founder and head of Combs & Co., an insurance brokerage firm based in New York City.
“Remember that the GOP needs a supermajority and all 52 GOP and 8 Dems would have to vote on it, and I don’t think they can get it,” she said.
As far as agents are concerned, “we were needed before the ACA, during the transition to the ACA and, yes, we’ll be needed during any changes that will come to the ACA,” Combs added.
The different provisions of the ACA have many tentacles, which makes repealing or changing them a challenge, said Ronnell Nolan, president and CEO of Health Agents for America.
Any changes made to the ACA need to address consumer affordability, Nolan said.
“Until affordability is addressed, consumers can’t afford the coverage and we have nothing to sell them,” she said.
Agent commissions also must be addressed as part of health care reform, Nolan said.
“Commissions could be mandated as they are with Medicare Advantage. Or we could have some kind of a fair compensation act. The biggest issue is going back to affordability — insurance companies saying if they’re not making a profit, they aren’t paying a commission.”
Health care reform needs to start with bringing the right people to the table, Nolan said.
“In passing the original ACA, they didn’t bring the doctors or the insurance companies or the agents to the table,” she said. “I think they will do that differently this time.”
A change to the unlimited maximum benefits is one under-the-radar ACA reform that can give insurance companies relief, said Ryan Siemers, principal with Aegis Risk, a health care consulting firm in Alexandria, Va.
The ACA prohibits setting lifetime limits on benefits in any health plan or insurance policy.
Before the ACA, individual medical expenses would hit the $1 million benefit cap that the employer had in the plan and the claimant would go to Medicaid or become a ward of the state, Siemers explained.
Hospitals and pharmaceutical companies have benefited from the removal of caps, he added, making it difficult to amend that aspect of the ACA.
“There are some deep-pocketed interests in the health care world that would work to stop any move to alter unlimited lifetime benefits,” Siemers said.
From 1992 to 1997, Mulvaney practiced law with the firm James, McElroy & Diehl. Mulvaney joined his family’s homebuilding and real estate business. He participated in the Owners and Presidents Management Program at Harvard Business School. He was a minority shareholder and owner-operator in Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina, a privately held regional restaurant chain.
In 2008 an unexpected retirement created a vacancy in the South Carolina Senate and he campaigned for and won that office in what was widely regarded to be the hardest fought legislative race in South Carolina that year.
While in the State Senate, Mulvaney served on the Judiciary, Labor/Commerce/Industry, Medical Affairs, Agriculture/Natural Resources, and Corrections Committees. The Palmetto Family Council identified him as the Freshman Legislator of the Year in 2006 for his work on the South Carolina ultrasound bill.
In 2010 he was named Legislator of the Year for his work in support of the State’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS). He has received one of the few A+ ratings in the entire legislature from the South Carolina Club for Growth.
Mulvaney, a GOP Young Gun, ran against Democratic incumbent John Spratt for South Carolina’s 5th congressional district. The race was highlighted by Mitt Romney‘s Free and Strong America PAC’s “Take Congress Back: 10 in ’10” initiative as one of the top 10 House challenger races. Mulvaney’s involvement in the now defunct Edenmoor real estate development in Lancaster County, South Carolina became a campaign issue, with Mulvaney’s opponents alleging that he misled the Lancaster County council and taxpayers to provide $30 million in public funding for the real estate development and that once the public funds had been approved, Mulvaney sold his interest in the development to a third party at a $7 million profit. Mulvaney denied the allegations and said that the project’s failure was due to Democratic economic policies. He defeated Spratt, who had held the seat since 1983, with 55% of the vote.
According to the New York Times, Mulvaney took “a hard line on spending during President Obama’s term, vowing not to raise the nation’s debt limit and embracing the term ‘Shutdown Caucus’ because of his willingness to shut the government down instead.” In 2015, Mulvaney voted against a government-funding resolution, which would have prevented a government shutdown, in part because it included funding for Planned Parenthood. Explaining his vote, Mulvaney said, “This is not about women’s health. It’s about trafficking in pieces of dead children.”
Mulvaney supported the Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015, which would have “[created] a commission tasked with eliminating and revising outdated and redundant federal regulations.” According to Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS, legislation of this kind can be “a smokescreen used to block policy measures protecting public health and the environment.”
Fiscal year 2014 budget
On December 10, 2013, Republican Representative Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray announced that they had negotiated the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, a proposed two-year budget deal.The budget deal would cap the federal government’s spending for Fiscal Year 2014 at $1.012 trillion and for Fiscal Year 2015 at $1.014.
The proposed deal would eliminate some of the spending cuts required by the sequester by $45 billion of the cuts scheduled to happen in January and $18 billion of the cuts scheduled to happen in 2015. This does not decrease federal spending; instead, by reducing the amount of spending cuts the government was going to be forced to make by the sequester, it actually increases government spending by $45 billion and $18 billion over what would have been spent had the sequester remained in place. Some Republicans wanted Speaker Boehner to pursue a temporary measure that would cover the rest of Fiscal Year 2014 at the level set by the sequester – $967 billion, rather than pass this budget deal, which would have $45 billion in additional spending.
The deal is supposed to make up for this increase in spending by raising airline fees and changing the pension contribution requirements of new federal workers. According to The Hill, Mulvaney is “spearheading opposition to the new budget bill”. He did not blame Ryan for the budget deal, instead saying that the problem was too few conservatives had been elected to Congress to pass a budget with a greater focus on debt reduction. Mulvaney said that he expected the budget deal to pass because “it was designed to get the support of defense hawks and appropriators and Democrats”, not conservatives.
On April 9, 2014, Mulvaney offered a proposal based on the Obama proposal as a substitute amendment in order to force a vote on the President’s budget request. The President’s proposal failed in a vote of 2–413, although Democrats were urged by their leadership to vote against this “political stunt.”
Mulvaney speaking at a campaign event for Senator Rand Paul in Spartanburg, South Carolina in September 2015.
In his statement to the Senate Budget Committee, Mulvaney admitted that he had failed to pay $15,000 in payroll taxes from 2000-04 for a nanny he had hired to care for his triplets. Mulvaney said he did not pay the taxes because he viewed the woman as a babysitter rather than as a household employee. After filling out a questionnaire from the Trump transition team, he realized the lapse and began the process of paying back taxes and fees. Senate Democrats noted that Republicans had previously insisted that past Democratic nominees’ failure to pay taxes for their household employees was disqualifying, including former Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle in 2009.
On February 16, 2017, the Senate confirmed Mulvaney, 51–49. Every Democratic Senator as well as John McCain voted against his nomination. McCain cited Mulvaney’s prior votes to cut the military budget as the reason for his vote 
In March 2017, Mulvaney stated that he believed that “the Obama administration was manipulating the numbers, in terms of the number of people in the workforce, to make the unemployment rate — that percentage rate — look smaller than it actually was,” and that “[w]hat you should really look at is the number of jobs created.” Some outlets have reported that there is no evidence that jobs numbers under the Obama administration were manipulated.FiveThirtyEight‘s Ben Casselman noted that “manipulating the jobs figures… would mean not just messing with one number but rather interfering with an entire ecosystem of statistics.”
In March 2017, Mulvaney stated that the Congressional Budget Office was not capable of assessing the American Health Care Act (the GOP’s replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act), stating that “[i]f the CBO was right about Obamacare to begin with, there’d be 8 million more people on Obamacare today than there actually are.” Others have disagreed with Mulvaney’s statement, including FactCheck.Org, which stated that “[t]he CBO actually nailed the overall impact of the law on the uninsured pretty closely.”
Whilst promoting the Trump administration’s budget proposal in March 2017, Mulvaney stated that, as to taxpayers, the government was “not gonna ask you for your hard-earned money, anymore… unless we can guarantee to you that that money is actually being used in a proper function.” For instance, Mulvaney justified cuts to block grants that go towards spending on Meals on Wheels because it was “just not showing any results.” Others disagree with Mulvaney’s statement, citing research that has “found home-delivered meal programs to significantly improve diet quality, increase nutrient intakes, and reduce food insecurity and nutritional risk among participants. Other beneficial outcomes include increased socialization opportunities, improvement in dietary adherence, and higher quality of life.”
Story 1: Turkey Votes To Change From Parliamentary to Presidential System of Government — Videos —
Where’s Turkey headed after its referendum? – Inside Story
Turkey Referendum: Erdogan’s new grip on power
Dispute over Turkey’s referendum results continues
Is Turkey Becoming a Dictatorship?: Erdogan Claims Victory in Vote to Give President Sweeping Powers
Turkey’s Choice: Nation deciding on changing political system
The Truth about Turkeys failed Coup (CIA designed Civil War)
Lionel on the Alex Jones Show: Syria False Flags, North Korea Lies, French Elections & Media Lies
The Idiot’s Guide to Turkey, Erdogan and the Phony Coup
Turkish Referendum Erdogan Wins ! | The Millennial Revolt
Published on Apr 16, 2017
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory in a referendum granting him sweeping new powers, hailing the result as an “historic decision”. The leader called on the international community to respect the result and discouraged his critics from “belittling” the outcome, saying they “shouldn’t try, it will be in vain”. The state-run Anadolu news agency claimed that 51 per cent per cent of voters had sided with the “Yes” campaign, ushering in the most radical change to the country’s political system in modern time.
But the main opposition the Republican People’s Party (CHP) said they would demand a recount of up to 40 per cent of the vote, saying that “illegal acts” occurred during the vote and that there were up to 2.5m “problematic ballots”. The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) also claimed they had information that voter fraud was implicated in up to four per cent of the ballots. Both parties said they would appeal the results. CLICK LINKS FOR SOURCES
Story 2: Coalition Against Islamic State in Syria — What is Next: Wrath of Euphrates: The Battle for Raqqa: Isolate and Assault — Take No Prisoners — Videos
US eyes assault on ISIS stronghold
CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh talks to Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend near Mosul, Iraq, where coalition forces hope to make a push toward Raqqa, ISIS’ center of control in Syria.
U.S.-Led Coalition Has ‘Made Adjustments’ In Syria To Account For ‘Tensions’
Wrath of Euphrates Op: US troops spotted near Raqqa frontline (EXCLUSIVE)
400 US troops deployed outside ISIS capital Raqqa
Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS
Raqqa Battle Phase 3 outcome
Beginning of a new phase to free Raqqa
Battle for Raqqa. First phase of Wrath of Euphrates Initiative ends successfully.
Published on Nov 12, 2016
12 Nov 2016 Syria. Raqqa.
SDF, YPG, YPJ and International Brigade fighters had began to advance from Siluk and Eyn İsa southwards from two directions on November 5.
The Siluk branch has cleared an area of 30 kms and the Ayn İsa branch has cleared an area of 15 kms from ISIS gangs. Yesterday, the two branches united along the Beliz creek.
After the liberation of Xınıse and the unification of the two branches of fighters, the first phase of the initiative ended successfully.
Civilians flee Raqqa as Syrian forces advance
More U.S. Troops heading to Raqqa, Syria to fight ISIS
18 Allied Fighters Killed In US Led Syria Strike
100s killed following US-led airstrike in Syria
Assad: No one invited US to Manbij, all foreign troops in Syria without permission are ‘invaders’
U.S. military says misdirected airstrike in northern Syria killed 18 allied fighters
Syria: Kurdish fighters make gains against IS behind enemy lines
Ross Kemp The Fight Against Isis
Turkey and Russia join forces against Islamic State
US Joins Ground Forces with Kurds, Syrian, & Russian Fighters Against ISIS in Syria
Targeting the High Value Terrorists
On The Road To Raqqa – Heavy Clashes Between Kurdish Forces And ISIS During The Battle Of Raqqa
US soldiers help Iraqi troops secure Mosul
Satellite Imagery: The Cutting of Mosul’s Bridges
Satellite Imagery: The Islamic State’s Mosul Defenses
Satellite Images: The Islamic State’s Scorched Earth Tactics
Why Did the Iraq War Start? The Untold Story – Seymour Hersh – Reasons, Justification (2005)
The Breathtaking Incoherence of American Foreign Policy as to North Korea and Syria
‘Defeating ISIS No.1 US goal’: Tillerson at coalition summit coinciding with London attack
Trump Gives Generals More Freedom on ISIS Fight
Pentagon brass take lead on decisions that were made by White House under Obama; ‘I authorize my military,’ Trump says
U.S. Army trainers watch as an Iraqi recruit fires at a military base in Iraq. PHOTO: JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES
Dion Nissenbaum in Washington and
Maria Abi-Habib in Beirut
Updated April 14, 2017 10:29 p.m. ET
U.S. military commanders are stepping up their fight against Islamist extremism as President Donald Trump’s administration urges them to make more battlefield decisions on their own.
As the White House works on a broad strategy, America’s top military commanders are implementing the vision articulated by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis: Decimate Islamic State’s Middle East strongholds and ensure that the militants don’t establish new beachheads in places such as Afghanistan.
“There’s nothing formal, but it is beginning to take shape,” a senior U.S. defense official said Friday. “There is a sense among these commanders that they are able to do a bit more—and so they are.”
While military commanders complained about White House micromanagement under former President Barack Obama, they are now being told they have more freedom to make decisions without consulting Mr. Trump. Military commanders around the world are being encouraged to stretch the limits of their existing authorities when needed, but to think seriously about the consequences of their decisions.
The more muscular military approach is expanding as the Trump administration debates a comprehensive new strategy to defeat Islamic State. Mr. Mattis has sketched out such a global plan, but the administration has yet to agree on it. While the political debate continues, the military is being encouraged to take more aggressive steps against Islamic extremists around the world.
The firmer military stance has fueled growing concerns among State Department officials working on Middle East policy that the Trump administration is giving short shrift to the diplomatic tools the Obama administration favored. Removing the carrot from the traditional carrot-and-stick approach, some State Department officials warn, could hamper the pursuit of long-term strategies needed to prevent volatile conflicts from reigniting once the shooting stops.
Gen. Nicholson said Friday it was too early to say how many militants had been killed in the previous day’s bombing. The Afghan Defense Ministry retracted an earlier statement that the strike had killed 36 militants, saying it was unable to provide precise figures yet.
A military official for the coalition who viewed footage of the bombing said it was difficult to make out details of its effects beyond a “mushroom cloud” of smoke rising into the sky. He added that a second MOAB was available for use in the country, but no decision had been made on whether it should be deployed.
Islamic State’s Amaq news agency posted a statement on Friday saying none of its fighters were killed or wounded in the strike, which took place in Nangarhar province, along the country’s mountainous border with Pakistan.
Gen. Nicholson indicated that he—not the White House—decided to drop the bomb. “The ammunition we used last night is designed to destroy caves and tunnels. This was the right weapon against the right target,” he told reporters Friday. “I am fortunate that my chain of command allows me the latitude to make assessments on the ground.”
A senior administration official said Mr. Trump didn’t know about the weapon’s use until it had been dropped.
Mr. Mattis “is telling them, ‘It’s not the same as it was, you don’t have to ask us before you drop a MOAB,’” the senior defense official said. “Technically there’s no piece of paper that says you have to ask the president to drop a MOAB. But last year this time, the way [things were] meant, ‘I’m going to drop a MOAB, better let the White House know.’”
Indeed, on Thursday Mr. Trump himself emphasized the free rein he gives the Pentagon. “I authorize my military,” Mr. Trump said. “We have given them total authorization.”
On Friday, the U.S. military said it has sent dozens of soldiers to Somalia, where Mr. Trump recently gave the head of the U.S. Africa Command more leeway to carry out counterterrorism operations against al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate in the area.
The more aggressive military approach comes as the long slog against Islamic State is bearing fruit. The group is on the back foot in its Iraqi stronghold, Mosul, and is facing a hard battle to defend its de facto Syrian capital, Raqqa.
The U.S. has sent more forces into Iraq and Syria, stepped up support for Saudi Arabia’s fight against Houthi militants in Yemen, and dispatched an aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula amid growing evidence that North Korea is preparing for a new nuclear test.
Loren DeJonge Schulman, who served as senior adviser to Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, said a more assertive military campaign is destined to fail unless it is part of a broader strategy against Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.
“It’s crazy that the Trump administration thinks that ‘taking the gloves off’ is either a winning strategy against ISIL or a useful narrative for the White House or the military,” said Ms. Schulman, now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
Derek Chollet, a former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in the Obama administration, said giving the Pentagon more freedom is one of the most significant things Mr. Trump has done.
“It’s not clear to me that he’s making any tough decisions,” said Mr. Chollet, now executive vice president at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “All that he’s essentially done is ceded decision authority down to protect himself from making tough calls.”
The flip side of the Trump administration’s emphasis on a more-free-wheeling military approach to Islamic State is an apparent reduction of the use of soft-power tools—economic development, diplomacy and democracy-building—favored by the Obama White House.
Some State Department officials describe being cut out from the White House’s counterterrorism strategy in the Mideast, with efforts to nurture democratic governments and push for more secular education systems carrying less weight in the White House’s evolving approach.
“State is being systematically sidelined,” said a State Department official who has worked on counterterrorism issues in Washington and abroad.
The official said the White House strategy of prioritizing military might over diplomacy makes it hard to persuade Mideast allies to relax their grip on power. Many of Washington’s closest Arab allies are autocratic regimes guilty of human-rights abuses that critics say fuel terrorism.
“The problem there is that in many of the places where you need carrots, those carrots are often seen as threats to local governments,” the official said, referring to democracy and society-building programs the State Department funds across the Mideast.
Egypt offers a prime example of the Trump administration’s leanings. When Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, a military strongman, visited the White House earlier this month, Mr. Trump gave him a warm welcome. Mr. Obama had refused to meet him because of his regime’s alleged human-rights abuses.
U.S. officials in the Mideast say a counterterror approach that focuses solely on military might without programs to fight the causes that feed extremism could backfire, leading groups like Islamic State to go underground and wait for future opportunities to re-emerge. They are particularly concerned about Raqqa, where a U.S.-led military coalition is closing in around the city but post-liberation stabilization plans aren’t finalized as State Department officials wait for White House guidance.
—Jessica Donati and Habib Khan Totakhil in Kabul and Carol E. Lee in Washington contributed to this article.
After the start of the Battle of Mosul (2016–17) in Iraq, many of the 20,000 ISIL fighters estimated to be living in the city fled to Raqqa, boosting the ISIL forces that were already present in their de facto capital city.
The SDF officially announced the start of the operation on 6 November in the village of Ayn Issa. The intention was to proceed in two phases, first seizing areas around Raqqa and isolating the city, advancing from three fronts, then taking control of the city itself. The SDF general command called for the international coalition against ISIL to support the operation. In response, Ash Carter welcomed the announcement and emphasized the importance of capturing Raqqa and defeating ISIL, while cautioning that “there is hard work ahead”.
Phase One: Isolating Raqqa from its northern hinterland
Tal Saman, ISIL headquarters in the northern Raqqa countryside, after being captured by the SDF.
On 6 November, the SDF captured six small villages, including the villages of Wahid, Umm Safa, Wasita, Haran, al-Adriyah and Jurah south and southeast of Ayn Issa. The Islamic State detonated four car bombs on the first day of the offensive.
On 8 November, the SDF reported that they had taken control of 11 villages near Ain Issa. The SDF also claimed that ISIL used several car bombs against their forces. By 11 November, the SDF had captured over a dozen villages and the strategically significant town of Al-Hisbah, which had served as a local headquarters and command center for ISIL. On the next day, the SDF continued to advance against ISIL in the area around Tal Saman and Khnez, bringing the number of captured farms and villages to 26.
As of 14 November, the SDF reported the completion of the initial phase of the operations, stating that 500 km2has been captured: 34 villages, 31 hamlets and seven strategic hills, along with 167 Islamic State casualties.The SDF had also begun to besiege Tal Saman, the largest village and ISIL headquarters north of Raqqa, while ISIL launched a counter-attack near Salok in the eastern countryside of Raqqa Governorate in order to force the SDF to split its forces and open a new front. On the next day, the SDF advanced into Tal Saman, resulting in a fierce battle with its ISIL defenders. At the same time, the SDF also captured 10 more villages and farms. By 19 November, the SDF had fully captured Tal Saman and had driven ISIL completely from the surrounding countryside. With this, the first phase of the offensive was considered completed.On 20 November 2016, 200 fighters completed training, joined the SDF, and were sent to participate in the offensive.
The second phase of the offensive aimed to enforce a full blockade of the city of Raqqa. On 21 November, the SDF captured two more villages, while ISIL launched a counter-attack near Tal Saman. Over the next days, the SDF attempted to further advance, such as at al-Qalita, but was unable to break through ISIL’s defense line south of Tal Saman. On 24 November, a US serviceman died from wounds he suffered after stepping on an improvised explosive device near the town of Ayn Issa, to the north of Raqqa.
On 25 November, ISIL received reinforcements from Iraq, among them explosive experts and defected Iraqi Army personnel. On the next day, ISIL launched a counter-attack, retaking parts of Qaltah village and a nearby water pump station, while the SDF managed to advance in the village’s vicinity. Boubaker Al-Hakim, an ISIL commander who was linked to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, was reported to have been killed in an American airstrike in Raqqa on 26 November. Iraqi military however later stated in April 2017 that he might still be alive.
On 27 November, the SDF announced the offensive’s second phase was due to start, though this was then delayed. At least five SDF fighters were killed in renewed clashes north of Raqqa on 29 November. Meanwhile, ISIL suffered from the defection of two senior commanders, who fled from Raqqa to join Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Idlib. On 4 December, a coalition drone strike in Raqqa killed two ISIL leaders who had helped facilitate the November 2015 Paris attacks and another who was involved in a foiled suicide attack in Belgium in 2015. Three days later, co-Chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Salih Muslim said that the first phase to surround Raqqa was almost over, while a new Arab brigade consisting of more than 1,000 men and women from the al-Raqqa area had joined the SDF as part of the second phase which was slated to be launched on 10 December. More than 1,500 Arab fighters who were trained and equipped by the anti-ISIL coalition joined the SDF for the second phase on its launch day.
Phase Two: Isolating Raqqa from its western countryside
SDF fighters advance northwest of Raqqa after the start of the offensive’s second phase.
The SDF launched the second phase on 10 December, with the aim of capturing the northwestern and western countrysides of al-Raqqa and ultimately reaching and securing the Tabqa Dam. The same day, it was announced that Arab SDF groups, consisting of the Elite Forces, Jabhat Thuwar al-Raqqa and the newly formed Deir Ezzor Military Council would be taking part. During the first day, the SDF began to advance south of the Tishrin Dam and captured al-Kiradi village. The United States announced that it would send 200 more troops to assist the SDF. The next day, the SDF captured seven more villages from ISIL. On 12 December, the SDF captured four villages as well as many hamlets south of Tishrin Dam. The SDF captured five villages during the next two days. On 15 December, the SDF captured three villages, taking the total number of villages captured by them in the second phase to 20.
Over the next four days, the SDF captured 20 more villages, while finally reaching Lake Assad‘s shore, thereby cutting off and besieging 54 ISIL-held villages to the west. In response to these territorial losses, ISIL began to carry out more suicide attacks against both the SDF as well as civilian targets within SDF-controlled areas in an attempt to hinder the offensive. On 19 December, ISIL launched a counter-attack to regain four villages in the northwestern countryside, but the attack was repelled after a few hours. The following night, ISIL forces retreated largely unopposed from the besieged 54 villages, leaving them to be captured by the SDF. The SDF declared that they had captured 97 villages overall during the second phase, and had begun to advance against Qal’at Ja’bar.
On 21 December, the SDF seized five villages near Qal’at Ja’bar, including Jabar, which served as the main weaponry storage and supply centre for ISIL in the northwestern countryside. The coalition then began to move toward Suwaydiya Saghirah and Suwaydiya Kabir, the last villages before Tabqa Dam. Even though an ISIL counter-attack managed to retake Jabar village soon after, the SDF attacked again on 23 December, and once again took control of it, while also capturing another village. This prompted ISIL to launch yet another counter-attack later that day, which was accompanied by several suicide car bombs. As a result, heavy clashes took place between them and SDF fighters in several villages along the frontline that lasted until the early morning of 24 December. The ISIL forces were eventually forced to withdraw after the SDF first shelled and then stormed their positions, whereupon the latter took control of most of Jabar as well as two more villages, though some ISIL holdouts persisted in Jabar.
ISIL was pushed out of the neighboring, strategic village of Eastern Jabar on the next day, bringing SDF within 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) of Tabqa Dam, and by 26 December, the SDF had finally fully secured the main Jabar village, with the last ISIL defenders being expelled after heavy fighting. An ISIL counterattack on the village later that day failed, with a US airstrike killing Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti as he commanded the assault. Al-Kuwaiti, also known as Abdulmuhsin al-Zaghelan al-Tarish, was a high-ranking ISIL commander leading the defense of the whole Raqqa region against the SDF. Meanwhile, the Amaq News Agency declared that Iman Na’im Tandil (nom de guerre: Abu ‘Umar Al-Hindi), one of the few Indian ISIL fighters active in Syria, had also been killed during the fighting near Jabar. The Islamic State’s official media wing later also officially paid tribute to Iman.
Battle for Jabar’s surroundings
A YPGBMP, loaded on a truck, being transported to the frontline near Mahmudli on 4 January.
On 27 December, ISIL launched an attack on the village of Secol in the northern countryside, reportedly breaching the local SDF defences. On the next day, the SDF reportedly captured Hadaj village after two days of heavy fighting, while another ISIL counter-attack against Jabar was repelled. Mahmud al-Isawi, a senior ISIL facilitator who was a manager of instructions and finances for the group’s leaders as well as a provider of propaganda and intelligence support, was killed on 31 December in a US-led coalition airstrike on Raqqa. After three days of heavy fighting, the SDF captured all or most of Mahmudli, the largest town of the Al-Jarniyah Subdistrict, on 1 January 2017. ISIL counterattacked later in an attempt to regain the town. The SDF leadership said that in the clashes since the launch of the second phase they had captured 110 villages, killed 277 ISIL fighters, and captured 13.
Also on January 1, the SDF resumed its offensive on the northern front, reportedly advancing 6 km south of Tell Saman against ISIL positions. The SDF reportedly captured nine more villages in this area, within the next three days. Meanwhile, with the SDF edging closer to Raqqa, ISIL further restricted Internet access and increased surveillance over Internet users in Raqqa. There were harsh punishments for accessing anti-ISIL websites, with a new special unit within the ISIL’s security office searching for offenders. Several online activists in Raqqa were captured and tortured or executed. Another two villages and hamlets were captured by the SDF on 5 January.
SDF fighters examine Qal’at Ja’bar. ISIL had built tunnels and weapons depots into the medieval castle.
The SDF captured Qal’at Ja’bar (Ja’bar Castle) from ISIL on 6 January. The same day, ISIL was reported to have moved its 150 prisoners from Tabqa city due to the offensive. The SDF later captured eight villages and five hamlets at the Ayn Issa front. On 7 January, the SDF captured five villages including the strategic Suwaydiya Gharbi and Suwaydiya Saghirah, reaching the outskirts of Tabqa Dam. ISIL reportedly recaptured Suwaydiya Saghirah by the next day after a counterattack, while a local leader of the group was killed in clashes. Meanwhile, ISIL was reported to have withdrawn 150 of its fighters towards Raqqa city.
On 8 January 2017, US special forces raided the village of Al-Kubar, between Ar-Raqqah and Deir ez-Zor, killing at least 25 ISIL militants in the two-hour operation. It was believed that the goal of the US may have been to rescue hostages from an ISIL secret prison in the village. After the raid, ISIL forces cut off access to the village.
On 9 January, the SDF captured another village, along with three hamlets.
On 10 January, ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack at the Jabar frontline and reportedly recaptured several sites; with pro-Free Syrian Army sources claiming Qal’at Ja’bar and the village of Jabar were among these. ISIL consequently released photos of dead SDF fighters, while claiming that over 70 of them had been killed in the counter-attack. However, the SDF was reported to still be in control of Jabar village and Qalat Jabar a few days later.
An ISIL attack on Jib Shair village, trying to resist SDF advances from the north, was repelled on the next day, after which the SDF advanced and captured six hamlets around it. The SDF later announced that their forces advancing from the Ayn Issa front and on the Qadiriya front linked up in Kurmanju village after capturing several villages over the past few days, besieging a large pocket of about 45 villages and 20 hamlets. All of them were captured by the next day, resulting in the alliance gaining about 460 square kilometres (180 sq mi) of land. Another village was captured by the SDF on 13 January. On 15 January, the SDF progressed to Suwaydiya Kabir village, while ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack against Mahmudli and a nearby village, resulting in clashes within these settlements. The attack was repelled after several hours of fighting. The SDF captured three villages during the day, while Suwaydiya Saghirah was also reported to be under its control again. On 17 January 2017, 28 Arab tribes from Raqqa announced their support for the offensive and encouraged locals to join the SDF.
The SDF attacked Suwaydiya Kabir on the next day, leading to heavy clashes in the village. Meanwhile, it was announced that about 2,500 local fighters had joined the offensive since it began. On 19 January, ISIL launched a counter-attack against Suwaydiya Saghirah, supported by mortars and heavy machine guns, killing or wounding several YPG fighters. Despite this, the SDF made further progress on the next day, capturing a village and advancing against many other ISIL-held villages. The SDF again attacked Suwaydiya Kabir on 20 January, reaching the outskirts of the village, and captured it on 22 January after heavy clashes, with the support of U.S. special forces.
Tabqa Dam raid and further SDF advances in the north
In late January 2017, it was reported that a number of ISIL militants were hiding inside the structure of the Tabqa Dam, including senior militant leaders who used to be “very important prisoners” wanted by the US and several other countries, in order to deter a possible US-led coalition strike on them.
On 23 January, the SDF began to advance on the Tabqa Dam, spurring ISIL to open its turbines to raise the Euphrates River’s water levels. This was seen as an attempt to hinder the progress of the Kurdish-led forces and a scare tactic, and caused the water level of the Euphrates to rise to its highest level in 20 years, leading to record flooding downstream. Coinciding with this, pro-SDF sources reported that US special forces and SDF units had launched a raid against Al-Thawrah across the river. By 24 January, SDF forces had managed to capture parts of the town, and SDF forces on the dam began working towards the Tabqa Dam’s control rooms, at the southern part of the dam, in an attempt to stop the massive outflow of water released by ISIL. However, the entrance to the dam’s control rooms was too well defended, and with the continued threat of disastrous flooding downstream, SDF and the US forces withdrew from both the Tabqa Dam and the town of Al-Thawrah, after which ISIL closed the dam’s turbines again.
Over the next three days, ISIL repeatedly launched fierce counter-attacks against SDF positions in the western and northern countryside. ISIL managed to retake ground in the area around the dam, but the attack was later repelled.
Preparation for the third phase
An SDF IAG Guardian armoured personnel carrier in February 2017, one of several APCs that were supplied by the United States to the SDF.
On 31 January 2017, the SDF received a number of armoured personnel carriers supplied by the US. The SDF spokesman stated that preparations for a new phase of the operation were continuing and the operation would begin in “a few days”. Meanwhile, the leader of the SDF-aligned Syria’s Tomorrow Movement and its paramilitary wing, Ahmad Jarba, announced that 3,000 Arab fighters under his command were training with US special forces to be deployed in the battle for Raqqa against ISIL.
On the night of 2–3 February, intense CJTF–OIR airstrikes targeted several bridges in or near Raqqa city, destroying them as well as the local water pipelines, leaving the city without drinking water. Meanwhile, the SDF advanced against the village of Qaltah in the northern countryside, which the coalition had already unsuccessfully attacked in November. ISIL maintenance crews managed to fix the pipelines during 3 February, restoring Raqqa’s water supply. On 3 February, 251 Arab fighters in Hasaka completed their training and joined the SDF.
Phase Three: Isolating Raqqa from its eastern countryside
On 4 February, the SDF announced the offensive’s third phase, aiming at capturing Raqqa’s eastern countryside, and to separate Raqqa city from ISIL forces in Deir ez-Zor, though operations in the west and north would continue simultaneously. The SDF captured a village and three hamlets to the northeast of Raqqa later that day, with clashes being reported at al-Qaltah and Bir Said, while 750 Arabs completed training and joined the SDF. On the next day, the Kurdish-led forces captured another two villages along with a hamlet and two farms, and besieged Bir Said, while especially intense airstrikes hit several ISIL targets in Al-Thawrah. Bir Said, along with another village, was eventually captured by the SDF on 6 February. In addition to these villages, the SDF also captured another five villages on two fronts. The SDF made further progress, capturing three more villages on 7 February. In early February 2017, US-led coalition airstrikes destroyed much of the Deir ez-Zor-Raqqa highway, reducing it to a single-file gravel road in some spots, with the SDF patrolling other areas with minefields, in order to prevent ISIL from reinforcing Raqqa city. By this point, almost all of the five bridges leading to Raqqa had been destroyed either by the US-led coalition or by ISIL, with the only exceptions being the Tabqa Dam and the Baath Dam, both west of Raqqa city.
As these advances continued, ISIL responded by launching several unsuccessful counter-attacks against Suwaydiya Kabir and other strategic territories captured by the SDF. On 8 and 9 February, the SDF advanced at the northern and northeastern frontline, capturing several villages and besieging Mizella, a major strategic ISIL stronghold in the northern countryside. The advance put them within 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) of Raqqa. The SDF captured Mizella the next day. The two fronts of the alliance converged on 11 February as it also captured two villages and wheat silos to the north of Raqqa during the day; the next day, the SDF attempted to cross the Balikh River northeast of Raqqa, leading to heavy fighting with local ISIL defenders. On 12 February, a large-scale counter-attack by ISIL reportedly succeeded in retaking Suwaydiya Kabir and four other nearby villages. However, pro-YPG sources denied these reports. Another counterattack was carried out by ISIL to the northeast of Raqqa where the SDF had advanced to, leading to heavy clashes between both sides. Clashes continued over the next few days. On 16 February, 165 more SDF fighters completed training and joined the offensive.
On 17 February 2017, the SDF announced the launch of the second stage of the third phase, aimed at capturing the eastern countryside of Raqqa near Deir ez-Zor, with the Deir Ezzor Military Council leading the operation. On the same day the SDF captured two villages from ISIL to the north of Deir ez-Zor and came within 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) of the northeast of Raqqa, while the Russian Air Force conducted airstrikes on ISIL forces in Raqqa city for the second time since its entry into the war. The next day, the SDF captured another village to the southwest of the Makman front (north of Deir ez-Zor) as well as another near Raqqa. On 18 February, the SDF stormed a prison a few kilometres northeast of Raqqa, freeing some of the inmates. They later captured three villages in Deir ez-Zor’s northern countryside. On the next day, the SDF captured five villages to the east of Raqqa. On 20 February, they captured four villages on the Makmen front, including the strategic village of Sebah al-Xêr as well as a base station of Syriatel, thus cutting off the road between Makman and Raqqa and besieging three ISIL-held villages. Furthermore, the SDF took control of a significant bridge over the Balikh River on the western front.
On 21 February, the SDF captured two villages on the Makman front and another one near Raqqa. ISIL later again assaulted Suwaydiya Kabir, attacking it from three fronts, leading to heavy fighting around it. The SDF continued advancing in the eastern countryside of Raqqa on 22 February, capturing three villages, and merging the two fronts at Makman and Bir Hebe. A YPJ commander declared that the SDF had cut the road to Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. The SDF stated that it had entered Deir ez-Zor Governorate for the first time in the offensive. On the next day, they captured six villages and sixteen hamlets.
Opening of a new front
On 24 February, the SDF captured four villages in the Makman front and another three in a fourth front to the northeast of Deir ez-Zor. They captured the strategic Abu Khashab village later that day. On 25 February, they captured another three villages on the fourth front.
On 26 February, a US airstrike near Tabqa Dam destroyed a former government facility which was being used as a headquarters by ISIL. The airstrike’s vicinity to the dam’s structure led to fears that the dam could potentially be destabilized or destroyed during the fighting. Later that day, it was reported that the SDF had captured the village of Al-Kubar, on the northern bank of the Euphrates in the Deir ez-Zor countryside, further tightening the siege on Raqqa. On 28 February, it was reported that the US-led coalition had completely destroyed the Tabqa Airbase in an airstrike.
On 27 February, the plan that the Pentagon submitted to US President Trump to significantly speed up the fight against ISIL included a significant increase in US participation in the Raqqa campaign, with the possibility of the US increasing its ground presence on the Raqqa front to 4,000–5,000 troops.
Advance to the Raqqa-Deir Ezzor highway
YPG/SDF fighters on the bank of the Euphrates east of Raqqa.
The offensive resumed on 5 March, with the SDF capturing at least seven villages and 15 hamlets to the northeast of the Euphrates River, east of Raqqa. The offensive had previously been paused due to bad weather, according to the SDF. The area captured by SDF forces on that day was about 19 square kilometers, and about 32 ISIL militants were killed in the clashes. After further advances on 6 March, the SDF cut the highway between Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, which was the last road out of the city, and reached the Euphrates River. The SDF captured six villages, the Al-Kubar Military Base (a former nuclear facility), and the Zalabiye Bridge, during the day. On 8 March, the SDF took control of the strategic West Menxer hill in the eastern countryside, while elements of the US 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit were deployed to northern Syria, bringing with them an artillery battery of M777 howitzers to support the attack on Raqqa. Meanwhile, about 150 ISIL militants from Hama and Deir-ez Zor managed to reinforce Raqqa, by crossing the Euphrates, despite the partial siege that had been imposed by the SDF on the city.
On 9 March, SDF captured the strategic East Menxer hill and captured three villages on two different fronts. Two villages, including Kubar, were captured on the front to the far east of Raqqa, and one near Raqqa. 244 Arab fighters from the Raqqa countryside also joined the SDF during the day, for the protection of the people in the region. On the next day, SDF forces advancing from the Abu Khashab front captured three villages, including two near Kubar. On 12 March, the SDF captured Khas Ujayl village, to the southeast of Raqqa, on the Abu Khashab front, while ISIL continued to launch repeated counterattacks in the area, in an attempt to check the SDF advances. Meanwhile, 230 ISIL fighters entered Raqqa to reinforce the city.
On 14 March, the SDF captured the Khass Hibal village, as well as the Al-Kulayb grain silos, along the Raqqa-Deir Ezzor highway. An SDF spokeswoman stated that Raqqa had been isolated. The advance of the SDF put them in control of the land region used by ISIL to connect to their territories in the east, stretching from al-Kubar to the northern bank of the Euphrates and measuring 30 kilometres (19 mi). The SDF captured the Hamad Asaf silos and the Al Kulayb village the next day. Hamad Assaf was also reportedly captured. On 17 March, a YPG commander stated that the SDF planned to storm Raqqa city in April 2017, and that the YPG would be participating in the attack, despite the fierce opposition from the Turkish government. However, Pentagon Spokesman Jeff Davis denied that any decision regarding when and how an assault on Raqqa city will be carried out. Meanwhile, clashes continued to take place around Khas Ujayl.
The town of al-Karama, after the SDF had captured it from ISIL.
Heavy clashes took place in the town of al-Karama, to the east of Raqqa, on 19 March. On the next day, SDF captured al-Karama, along with Jarqa village as well as a train station and water pumping station nearby. On 21 March, it was reported again that the SDF had captured Hamad Assaf in the eastern countryside from the Abu Khashab front. Another village was captured on 22 March from the Abu Khashab front. Meanwhile, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RIBSS) stated that coalition airstrikes hit a school being used as a shelter for displaced people in a village to the west of Raqqa on 20 March. SOHR stated that 33 civilians were killed in the airstrikes while RIBSS stated that it was unknown what happened to 50 families who were there. The SDF continued advancing in the eastern Raqqa countryside on 23 March, capturing two more villages on the Abu Khashab front, allowing them to capture a small ISIL pocket.On 24 March, the SDF took control of two more villages in the eastern countryside of Raqqa.
Battle for al-Tabqa countryside and other advances
On 22 March, the SDF began an assault to capture the Tabqa Dam, al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, and its airbase. Five hundred SDF fighters and five hundred US Special Forces from CJTF–OIR were airlifted by helicopters of the United States military, across the Euphrates River and Lake Assad, and were dropped on the Shurfa Peninsula to the west of Al-Thawrah. The attack was supported by artillery support from United States Marines, as well as air support. SDF and US forces also landed on the Jazirat al-‘Ayd Island (or Peninsula) to the west of Tabqa Dam, capturing it as well. Four villages southwest of Tabqa were captured in the attack, including Abu Hurayrah, al-Mushayirafah, al-Krain, and al-Jameen. The SDF advanced towards the town of Al-Thawrah, where fliers were dropped, asking residents to stay indoors and avoid clashing against ISIL for now. These fliers were also dropped on Raqqa city. An anti-ISIL coalition spokesman announced that the advance had cut off the highway linking the Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, and Raqqa Governorates. He added that around 75-80% of the attacking force consisted of Arab fighters, with the rest being Kurds. The SDF stated that the advance was also meant to block any advance on Raqqa by the Syrian Arab Army from the west.
On the same day, SDF and US forces stormed the Tabqa Dam, triggering “intense” clashes with ISIL forces. US officials stated that it may take several weeks to capture Tabqa Dam, Al-Thawrah city, and the surrounding countryside from ISIL. Airstrikes by the coalition on Tabqa city were reported to have killed about 25 civilians. On 23 March, some early reports circulated that the SDF had captured Tabqa Dam from ISIL, after clashing with ISIL forces for a few hours. However, these reports were unconfirmed by other sources, with neither the SDF or CENTCOM confirming the capture of Tabqa Dam, and Rudaw reported that the SDF was still preparing to capture it. SDF spokesman Talal Silo stated during the day that they were still advancing on the dam and the city and expected to attack the dam soon. Later on the same day, it was reported that ISIL was redeploying a large number of fighters from the Deir ez-Zor Province to Al-Thawrah and Raqqa city, in order to reinforce those fronts. ISIL’s Amaq News Agency later denied later that the SDF had captured the dam.
Refugees from al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, who have fled from the fighting between the SDF and ISIL.
On 24 March, SDF spokeswoman Jihan Sheikh Ahmed announced that they had reached the Tabqa Dam, and were fighting ISIL at its entrance. The assault on the dam was spearheaded by SDF fighters who were backed by United States Special Operation Forces. According to early reports, the SDF and its allies had taken its outer perimeter, with the battle ongoing for its middle. On the same day, it was also reported that the SDF had captured 8 villages to the southwest of Al-Thawrah. On 25 March, pro-Kurdish news agency Kurdistan24 reported that the SDF had announced the capture of the Tabqa Dam. On the same day, the SDF advanced on Al-Tabqa Airbase, setting off clashes in the vicinity.Amaq meanwhile claimed SDF had withdrawn from the dam.
On 26 March, the SDF captured 2 villages to the east of Al-Thawrah. It was also reported that ISIL was shelling the surroundings of Tabqa Dam with heavy weaponry.On the same day, ISIL claimed that Tabqa Dam was on the verge of collapse and that all the floodgates were closed. The dam was reported to have become inoperable, which ISIL claimed was due to Coalition bombing and artillery strikes, though the SOHR stated that the actual reasons were unknown, adding that ISIL still held its main building and turbines.SDF however denied that it had been hit, while RIBSS (Raqqa is Silently Being Slaughtered) stated that ISIL was informing fleeing civilians that the dam was safe. Additionally, the US-led Coalition stated that the Tabqa Dam was structurally sound, and that the dam had not been targeted by any airstrikes. They also stated that the SDF controlled an emergency spillway at the northern part of the dam, which could be used in the event of an emergency. On the same day, SDF spokesman Talal Silo announced that SDF had stormed the Tabqa military airport, and had taken sixty to seventy percent of it. They later announced that they had completely captured the Al-Tabqa Airbase, following a 24-hour battle.ISIL forces stationed at Al-Tabqa Airbase were reported to have withdrawn northward, to Al-Thawrah city. Additionally, SDF forces captured 2 villages near the airbase during the advance.
Late on 26 March, it was reported that the SDF had taken full control of Tabqa Dam, and that repairs on the dam by Coalition engineers had begun. A day later however SDF announced they were temporarily pausing their offensive for the dam. Later in the day, a spokeswoman of the SDF announced that engineers who had been permitted to check the dam and its operations did not find it was damaged or malfunctioning. SDF also captured 2 villages to the west of Raqqa on the same day. It resumed the offensive against ISIL at the Tabqa Dam on 28 March. Syrian engineers worked on the dam during a pause in the fighting to open spillways and ease the pressure on the dam. Its southern reaches were reported to be under ISIL control. ISIL claimed that the maintenance team was killed in airstrikes by the anti-ISIL coalition while the SOHR stated that it had learned that the engineer administering the dam had been killed in airstrikes along with a technician. It also stated that the group had sent 900 fighters from Raqqa to fight against the SDF advance.
On 29 March, the SDF cut the road between Al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city and Raqqa. The SDF stated that ISIL had shelled the Tabqa Dam during the day, causing repair work to be temporarily paused. On 31 March, SDF forces attacked the town of Al-Safsafah, to the east of Al-Thawrah, in an attempt to besiege the city. On the same day, the Ajeel tribe of al-Raqqa announced its support for the SDF’s Raqqa campaign and sent 150 fighters. On 1 April 2017, 200 Arab youths completed training and joined the SDF, also for the Raqqa campaign. The SDF announced during the day that over 220 new recruits had joined the offensive. Meanwhile, leaflets were dropped on the city calling on ISIL to surrender. Clashes continued in the countryside of Tabqa on next day as both sides attempted to advance.
The SDF and some activists stated on 2 April that it had repelled a major ISIL counterattack to the northeast of Tabqa city, near the Tabqa Dam and near the Tabqa airbase. They also continued to advance in villages to the east of Tabqa city. On the same day, it was reported that SDF had completely besieged Al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, with Kurdish activists stating that 2 SDF units linked up to the east of the city. SOHR, however, stated that they were still trying to besiege the city. SDF fighters continued battling for Safsafah and Ibad, on the next day, to fully encircle Tabqa. On 3 April, it was reported that ISIL was possibly in the process of moving its capital from Raqqa city to Mayadin, in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate. This followed months of gradual relocation of resources and senior ISIL leaders from Raqqa to Mayadin. SDF entered and besieged Safsafah on 5 April, thus also besieging Tabqa city while claiming that it had also taken control of a major part of Safsafah. The village was captured by the next day, resulting in SDF completely encircling Tabqa city.
The SDF captured Ibad village, to the east of Safsafah, on 9 April, further expanding their control in eastern countryside of Tabqa, while more than 25 ISIL fighters were killed in the clashes. ISIL also launched unsuccessful counterattacks on Safsafah, while also attacking Al-Tabqa Airbase. The SDF captured another village near Tabqa on the next day.
On 11 April, the US-led Coalition reported that the SDF had captured 60% of Tabqa Dam, and that they were “very close” to liberating the dam. On 13 April, the United States military stated that CJTF-OIR had bombed a SDF fighting position near Tabqa as it was misidentified as belonging to ISIL. It added that the airstrikes resulted in deaths of 18 SDF fighters.
Phase Four: Offensive directly north of and around Raqqa city; Assault on Tabqa city
On 13 April, the SDF announced the launch of the fourth phase of the campaign. The new phase will involve capturing the entire area directly north of Raqqa city, including the Jalab valley, as well as completing the siege of Raqqa city. The advancements may involve capturing the southern countryside of Raqqa as well, since the SDF stated that they plan to fully isolate the city before launching an attack on it. A plan to attack Raqqa city itself was also scheduled to for April 2017, but it was postponed due to the Battle of Tabqa. SDF was reported to have captured a village in the northern countryside of Raqqa on the same day.
SOHR stated early on 15 April that the SDF had advanced to the edge of Tabqa, and was within hundreds of meters of the city. Later, SDF captured the village of Ayad al-Saghir village near Tabqa and stormed the city itself, capturing the Alexandria suburb and bringing about 15% of the city under their control. They also cleared the Mushayrifah village near Tabqa, killing 27 ISIL fighters.
On 17 April, the SDF captured 3 villages in the northern countryside of Raqqa along with four hamlets.
Civil administration of captured territory
Samer Kharkhi, one of the Raqqa Civil Council’s leading members.
On 14 November, the SDF’s civilian sister institution, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), started working on the establishment of a civilian administration to run the city of Raqqa after the expulsion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. SDC co-chair Îlham Ehmed said “such an administration could provide a good example for democratic change in Raqqa, especially that the city has been for years a de facto capital for the ISIS terrorist group. This accomplishment would be a major change in the overall situation in Syria, and would help the country move towards stability, democratic change. Raqqa will be an example for the whole country.”
On 8 December, Col. John Dorrian, the Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman, stated that “a governance structure representative of the local population” similar to that in Manbij is planned for Raqqa. On 10 December, Cihan ShekhEhmed, the spokesman of the SDF-led operation, said that Raqqa would be run by a local elected civilian council after it was liberated. On 27 March 2017, Salih Muslim Muhammad, co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), said that as soon as the SDF had captured the city, “the people of Raqqa are the ones who [will] take the decision on everything”. If they wanted to do so, Muslim said, they could choose to join the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria. On the same day, the Raqqa Civil Council announced that it had taken over the administration of the eastern countryside.
A YPJ sniper during the offensive on 13 November 2016
A boat carrying SDF fighters cross Lake Assad on 9 April 2017
Toyota Hilux and other vehicles of the YPG and YPJ near Tabqa, 9 April 2017
Jump up^Most Leftist Western volunteers fight as part of the YPG, though some have also formed an independent unit, the Antifascist International Tabur, or joined the International Freedom Battalion. The latter is a larger unit, mostly composed of Kurdish and Turkish communists.
Jump up^1,500 volunteers from villages captured by the SDF during phase one; 1,000 volunteers from villages captured during phase two, 750 volunteers from villages captured during phase three, 200 more joined in April
Jump up^According to SOHR, 8 SDF casualties were Western volunteers; among these were 4 Americans (one of which fought for the MFS), 1 British, 1 Canadian, and 1 German.ARA News, on the other side, reported that only 5 Western volunteers had been killed.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with a delegate during the afternoon ministerial plenary for the Global Coalition working to Defeat ISIS at the State Department in Washington, March 22, 2017.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presided over a meeting of the 68-member Global Coalition to defeat ISIS and emphasized that the Coalition is unified, remains committed to the military defeat of ISIS, and noted the significant progress that has been made.
On March 22, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presided over a meeting of the 68-member Global Coalition to defeat ISIS and emphasized that the Coalition is unified, remains committed to the military defeat of ISIS, and noted the significant progress that has been made.
On the battlefield, 23 coalition partners have over 9,000 troops in Iraq and Syria in support of the effort to defeat ISIS. The Coalition has made significant progress in denying ISIS safe haven and building the military capacity of those directly engaged in fighting ISIS.
Coalition operations have liberated 62 percent of the terrain ISIS once controlled in Iraq and 30 percent in Syria, including key cities in both countries. The number of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria is down by more than half since its peak in 2014.
Coalition aircraft have conducted more than 19,000 strikes on ISIS targets, removing tens of thousands of ISIS fighters from the battlefield and killing over 180 senior to mid-level ISIS leaders, including nearly all of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputies, his so-called ministers of war, information, finance, oil and gas, and his chief of external operations.
The Coalition has supported its Iraqi partners to achieve significant progress in the fight to retake Mosul. Iraqi Security Forces officially liberated eastern Mosul on January 24, 2017, and now are making significant territorial gains in the western portion of the city.
To date, Coalition efforts have trained nearly 90,000 Iraqi Security Force members, including Iraqi Army soldiers, Counterterrorism Services soldiers, Kurdish Peshmerga, federal police and border security soldiers, and tribal volunteers.
With the support of the Coalition, Syrian partners have liberated over 14,000 square kilometers of terrain in Syria, including more than 7,400 square kilometers of territory since isolation operations around Raqqa began on November 5.
Coalition forces are now pressuring ISIS in Raqqa, its external operations headquarters, from where ISIS is plotting against Coalition member interests around the globe.
“Hard-fought victories in Iraq and Syria have swung the momentum in our coalition’s favor,” said Secretary Tillerson, “but we must increase the intensity of our efforts to solidify our gains in the next phase of the counter-ISIS fight. Degradation of ISIS is not the end goal, we must defeat ISIS.”
The race for Raqqa: Major battle to liberate the ISIS stronghold looms after victory nears in Mosul and Palmyra… but who will lead the offensive?
Syrian soldiers, Turkish troops and US-backed Kurdish troops eyeing up Raqqa
Islamic State terrorists were driven out of Mosul and Palmyra in another victory
With liberation of the two cities drawing nearer, Raqqa will become top priority
The fall of the terror group’s de facto capital would be seen as ISIS’ biggest loss
By Gareth Davies For Mailonline
PUBLISHED: 06:48 EDT, 3 March 2017 | UPDATED: 07:05 EDT, 3 March 2017
A major battle to liberate the Islamic State group’s stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria is looming after victories on the battlefields of Mosul and Palmyra.
The Pentagon has drawn up a secret plan which is likely to lean on local allies with stepped-up American support, but questions still remain as to who exactly will lead the operation to kick ISIS out of its de facto capital.
Syrian government forces, Turkish troops and their Syrian militia allies, and US-backed Kurdish forces all have their eye on Raqqa.
Each vehemently rejects letting the others capture the city and would likely react in anger should the United States support the others, and it is not clear that any has the resources to take the city on its own.
The fall of Raqqa, the Islamic State group’s de facto capital and largest remaining stronghold, would be the biggest defeat for the militants in Syria since they captured the northern city on the banks of the Euphrates River in January 2014.
An Iraqi Army officer (right) uses his mobile phone to film a rocket launched towards Islamic State militants during a battle with Islamic State militants in Mosul,Iraq
Iraqi family displaced due to fighting between the Iraqi army and ISIS, waiting at a temporary shelter to be sent to a refugee camp in Hamam Ali town, southern Mosul
Iraqi soldiers fire a rocket toward Islamic State militants on the outskirt of the Makhmour south of Mosul, Iraq
Smoke billows as Iraqi forces hold a position on a street in Mosul on March 1, 2017, during an offensive by security forces to retake the western parts of the city from Islamic State
Since October, US-backed coalition forces have been advancing on Mosul in an attempt to re-capture it from the terror group’s control.
Civilians have been evacuated and ISIS have been driven out of the city one village and area at a time.
This morning, an Iraqi military commander says forces have taken control of another neighborhood in western Mosul.
Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, spokesman of the Joint Military Operations Command said despite bad weather, Iraqi special operations forces have completely retaken the Wadi Hajjar area from militants.
However, commanders on the ground say that clearing operations are still continuing.
Wadi Hajjar lies just northwest of the city’s international airport.
Iraqi forces, including special operations forces and federal police units, launched an attack on the western part of Mosul nearly two weeks ago to dislodge the extremists.
Since the offensive began, more than 28,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN.
Across the border in Syria, army units were clearing land mines and explosives left behind by ISIS in the historic town of Palmyra on Friday, a day after government troops and allied militiamen recaptured it from the extremists.
The military expects the process to be long and difficult due to the large number of mines planted by the terror group.
Syrian troops fully recaptured Palmyra on Thursday after a push that saw the militants’ defenses crumble and ISIS fighters flee in the face of artillery fire and intense Russia-backed airstrikes.
The Tetrapylon and Roman Amphitheatre in the ancient city of Palmyra is blown up in conflict
Fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State, now called the Islamic State group, marching in Raqqa, Syria, where attention will now turn
Now, all eyes turn to Raqqa.
Faysal Itani, an analyst at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, said: ‘Raqqa is more of an abstract goal: everyone wants it in principle, but no one is willing to commit the resources and bear the risks necessary.’
Turkey rules out a US compromise in Syria
Turkey is ruling out compromise with the United States over the involvement of Kurdish militia fighters in an assault in Syria, an obstacle for Washington’s plan to deploy its strongest allies on the ground in a decisive showdown with Islamic State.
Donald Trump has made defeating ISIS one of the key goals of his presidency, and his new administration received a draft Pentagon plan on Monday to accelerate the campaign.
Raqqa in Syria, one of Islamic State’s two de facto capitals along with Mosul in Iraq, is expected to be the scene of the final battle to crush the jihadists’ self-proclaimed Caliphate sometime this year, after a US-backed Iraqi government assault on Mosul already under way since October.
But putting together a united ground force to take Raqqa has so far proven a confounding task in Syria, where the United States, Turkey, Russia, Iran and Arab states have all backed local forces in a multi-sided civil war since 2011. All the foreign powers oppose Islamic State, but their Syrian proxies have mainly fought against one another.
Turkey, with the second largest army in NATO, is adamant that Washington should switch support for the planned Raqqa offensive from the Kurdish YPG militia to Syrian rebels Turkey has trained and led against Islamic State for the past year.
President Donald Trump has vowed to ‘obliterate’ the group.
‘We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet,’ he told Congress on Tuesday.
The top US commander in the campaign against IS, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, has said he believes Raqqa and Mosul will be taken within six months.
So far, the offensive on Mosul has been underway four months, with only half the city captured from the militants in ferocious street-to-street urban combat.
And that is using a relatively intensively trained and united military, backed by heavy U.S. firepower and commandos on the ground – a contrast to the comparatively undisciplined and fragmented forces the US has to choose from as allies in Syria.
Raqqa is a smaller city than Mosul, but the militants are believed to have dug in with powerful fortifications there.
In Syria, US-backed predominantly Kurdish fighters known as the Syria Democratic Forces, or SDF, remain Trump’s best bet.
Aided by US-led coalition airstrikes and some 500 US special forces troops deployed in an advisory role, the force has been marching toward Raqqa since November.
Closing in on the city from different directions, it is now stationed some eight kilometers (five miles) north of the city.
The US military recently provided a small number of armored vehicles to the US-backed force to give better protection from small arms fire and roadside bombs as they get closer to Raqqa.
Further aid to the rag-tag group, however, raises sensitive questions over how to deal with Turkey, a NATO ally with much at stake in Syria.
Turkey considers the main Kurdish militia in Syria – known as the YPG, and an affiliate of the US-backed SDF – a terrorist organization, and has vowed to work with Syrian opposition fighters known as the Free Syrian Army to liberate Raqqa.
In a dramatic reversal of years of the Obama administration’s calls for the ouster of President Bashar Assad, Trump has hinted he might be willing to work with Assad’s army and Russia, whose year-and-a-half military intervention has propped up Assad’s government.
Assad’s forces are preoccupied with other battles, however, and would likely need significant US military involvement to take on Raqqa.
On Wednesday, the Syrian military recaptured the central town of Palmyra, a city located in the desert south of Raqqa that has gone back and forth between control of the military and the extremists several times.
The government forces have also clashed with the Turkish-backed Syrian fighters, who block their path to Raqqa.
Iraqi security forces inspect a recently discovered tunnel that had been used by Islamic State militants as a training camp, in western Mosul, Iraq on Wednesday, March 1. 2017
Syrians are sharply divided over who should enter Raqqa.
Many opposition supporters consider the SDF, which maintains a tacit non-aggression pact with Assad’s forces, to be a hostile group.
There are also fears of tensions if Raqqa, home to a nearly 200,000 mainly Arab population, is taken by the SDF, a coalition of Kurdish, Arab and Christian fighters.
‘Let us be frank that any force that will liberate Raqqa, other than the Free Syrian Army, is going to be a new occupation force with different flags and banners,’ said Mohammed Khodor of Sound and Picture Organization, which tracks atrocities by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was even more blunt, warning that if the SDF enters Raqqa, it will hurt relations between Ankara and Washington.
Since the Mosul offensive began, more than 28,000 people like these have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN
‘We have said that a terror organization cannot be used against another terror organization,’ the Turkish leader told the state-run Anadolu news agency.
The Kurds reject that notion and insist that only forces fighting under the SDF banner will liberate Raqqa.
‘Turkey is an occupation force and has no legitimate right to enter Raqqa,’ said SDF spokeswoman Cihan Sheikh Ehmed.
In a text message exchange from northern Syria, she said the SDF has the experience in fighting IS to finish the operation.
Battlefield victories by the SDF against the Islamic State group have brought growing Western support.
Asked if adding more US troops or better arming Syria’s Kurds were options, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he will ‘accommodate any request’ from his field commanders.
In Mosul, the US-led coalition is playing a greater role than ever before in the fight against IS and coalition forces have moved closer to front-line fighting.
U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian says the increased support is an effort to ‘accelerate the campaign’ against the Islamic State group, noting that launching simultaneous operations in both Mosul and Raqqa ‘puts further strain on the enemy’s command and control.’
‘It is a complicating factor when you don’t have a partner government to work with,’ conceded Dorrian, adding that whoever the coalition partners with in the fight for Raqqa is ‘a subject of ongoing discussions.’
Wladimir van Wilgenburg, a Middle East analyst at the Jamestown Foundation who closely follows Kurdish affairs, says the US-led coalition wants to have a quick end to IS in Raqqa, from which external operations against the West are planned.
That means it would prefer to work with the Kurdish-led SDF forces ‘since they are able to mobilize manpower unlike the Turks,’ he said.
An ISIS flag flies in the city of Palmyra – but not for long as victory nears in the city
Allied forces stand on the rubble of the Tetrapylon and Roman Amphitheatre in Palmyra
An Iraqi soldier inspects a recently-discovered train tunnel, adorned with an Islamic State group flag
In any case, the battle for Raqqa is sure to be a long and deadly one. It took the SDF nearly 10 weeks to capture the northern Syrian town of Manbij from IS last year.
It took Turkish forces and allied groups more than three months to retake the town of al-Bab, a costly battle that killed dozens of Turkish soldiers and many civilians.
Raqqa is much larger than either Manbij or al-Bab.
Some Syrian opposition activists say the extremists dug a trench around it to make it difficult for attackers to storm it.
‘It would be difficult for any troops,’ said Itani of the Atlantic Council.
‘Witness the slow and ugly progress in Mosul as well. Raqqa would be tough,’ he said.
The Trump foreign policy team has been all over the map on what to do next in Syria — topple the regime, intensify aid to rebels, respond to any new attacks on innocent civilians. But when pressed, there is one idea everyone on the team seems to agree on: “The defeat of ISIS,” as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson put it.
Well, let me add to their confusion by asking just one question: Why?
Why should our goal right now be to defeat the Islamic State in Syria? Of course, ISIS is detestable and needs to be eradicated. But is it really in our interest to be focusing solely on defeating ISIS in Syria right now?
Let’s go through the logic: There are actually two ISIS manifestations.
One is “virtual ISIS.” It is satanic, cruel and amorphous; it disseminates its ideology through the internet. It has adherents across Europe and the Muslim world. In my opinion, that ISIS is the primary threat to us, because it has found ways to deftly pump out Sunni jihadist ideology that inspires and gives permission to those Muslims on the fringes of society who feel humiliated — from London to Paris to Cairo — to recover their dignity via headline-grabbing murders of innocents.
The other incarnation is “territorial ISIS.” It still controls pockets in western Iraq and larger sectors of Syria. Its goal is to defeat Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria — plus its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies — and to defeat the pro-Iranian Shiite regime in Iraq, replacing both with a caliphate.
Challenge No. 1: Not only will virtual ISIS, which has nodes all over the world, not go away even if territorial ISIS is defeated, I believe virtual ISIS will become yet more virulent to disguise the fact that it has lost the territorial caliphate to its archenemies: Shiite Iran, Hezbollah, pro-Shiite militias in Iraq, the pro-Shiite Assad regime in Damascus and Russia, not to mention America.
Challenge No. 2: America’s goal in Syria is to create enough pressure on Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah so they will nego