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The Pronk Pops Show 879, April 24, 2017, Story 1: The Elites vs. The People Not Nationalism vs. Internationalism — Decline and Fall Of The Socialist Welfare State — Videos — Story 2: President Trump’s Transparent Executive Orders — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 864: March 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 863: March 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 861: March 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 859: March 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 858: March 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 857: March 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 848: February 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 847: February 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 846: February 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 845: February 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 844: February 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 843: February 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 842: February 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 841: February 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 840: February 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 839: February 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 838: February 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 837: February 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 836: February 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 835: February 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 834: February 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 833: February 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 832: February 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 831: February 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 830: February 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 829: February 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 828: January 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 827: January 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 826: January 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 825: January 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 824: January 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 823: January 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 822: January 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 821: January 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 820: January 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 819: January 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 818: January 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 817: January 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 816: January 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 815: January 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 814: January 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 813: January 9, 2017

 

Image result for cartoons branco french elections round 1 April 23, 2017

 Image result for the political elitesImage result for cartoons trump executive orders

 

 

 

 

Story 1: The Elites vs. The People  Not Nationalism vs. Internationalism — Videos —

Image result for the ruling class angelo codevilla

Image result for the ruling class angelo codevilla

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

1. America’s Ruling Class

2. Has Homeland Security Been a Failure?

3. What’s Wrong with the CIA?

[youtube-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NC3eM4ZAYL4]

4. Are We Winning the “War on Terror”?

Who Are America’s Elites? – Ben Shapiro

Clinton’s ‘deplorable’ attack

Clinton ‘Basket of Deplorables’ Remark Draws Fire

Peter O’Toole – The Ruling Class

The Ruling Class (1972)

George Carlin – It’s a Big Club and You Ain’t In It! The American Dream

Image result for chart of parties in france 2017

Image result for chart of parties in france 2017

Official first round result

With 107 of 107 departements counted | At 17:58 CEST
Macron 24.01%
Le Pen 21.3%
Fillon 20.01%
Mélenchon 19.58%
Hamon 6.36%
Dupont-Aignan 4.7%
Lassalle 1.21%
Poutou 1.09%
Asselineau 0.92%
Arthaud 0.64%
Cheminade 0.18%

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.

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.

https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2017/04/french-election-results-first-round/523965/

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 

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

Emmanuel Macron

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'

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

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

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

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, 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'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 

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

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

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

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 (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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4437156/Leading-candidates-cast-votes-French-election.html#ixzz4fEBy4Ooi

 

Is Macron the EU’s last best hope?

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.

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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?

Does Macron really represent the future of France, or is he perhaps one of the last men of yesterday?
 http://www.wnd.com/2017/04/is-macron-the-eus-last-best-hope/#e9TbxGcObXt9Bpu5.99

 

Story 2:  President Trump’s Transparent Executive Orders — Videos — 

Image result for list of trump executive ordersImage result for list of trump executive ordersImage result for list of trump executive ordersImage result for cartoons trump executive ordersImage result for list of trump executive orders

What Are Executive Orders?

President Trump Signs Financial Services Executive Orders

How Trump’s executive order begins to reform the H-1B visa program

Trump’s executive order to help the American worker

President Trump Signs Executive Orders Regarding Trade

What do all of President Trump’s executive orders mean?

[youtube-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ov2-KwmkMNQ]

The impact of President Trump’s executive actions

WATCH: President Trump Signs Executive EPA Orders (FNN)

Executive order (United States)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Executive order” redirects here. For other uses, see Executive order (disambiguation). Not to be confused with Presidential proclamation or Presidential memorandum.

Executive orders are orders issued by United States Presidents and directed towards officers and agencies of the Federal government of the United States. Executive orders have the full force of law, based on the authority derived from statute or the Constitution itself. The ability to make such orders is also based on express or implied Acts of Congress that delegate to the President some degree of discretionary power (delegated legislation).[1]

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.[2] 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.[3][4]

The U.S. Supreme Court has held[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

The Office of the Federal Register is responsible for assigning the executive order a sequential number after receipt of the signed original from the White House and printing the text of the executive order in the daily Federal Register and Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations.[8]

Other types of orders issued by “the Executive” are generally classified simply as administrative orders rather than executive orders.[9] These are typically the following:

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.[10]Some types of Presidential directives are the following:

History and use

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.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14] 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”.[9] 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.[14]

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.

Franklin Roosevelt

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.[15]

By Executive Order 6581, the president created the Export-Import Bank of the United States. On March 7, 1934, he created the National Industrial Recovery Act (Executive Order 6632). On June 29, the president issued Executive Order 6763 “under the authority vested in me by the Constitution”, thereby creating the National Labor Relations Board.

In 1934, while Charles Evans Hughes was Chief Justice of the United States (in the time period known as the Hughes Court), the Court found that the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) was unconstitutional. The president then issued Executive Order 7073 “by virtue of the authority vested in me under the said Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935“, reestablishing the National Emergency Council to administer the functions of the NIRA in carrying out the provisions of the Emergency Relief Appropriations Act. On June 15, he issued Executive Order 7075, which terminated NIRA and replaced it with the Office of Administration of the National Recovery Administration.[16]

In the years that followed, President Roosevelt replaced the outgoing judges with those more in line with his views, ultimately appointing Hugo Black, Stanley Reed, Felix Frankfurter, William O. Douglas, Frank Murphy, Robert H. Jackson and James F. Byrnes to the Court. Historically, only George Washington had equal or greater influence over Supreme Court appointments, choosing all of its original members. Justices Frankfurter, Douglas, Black, and Jackson dramatically checked presidential power by invalidating the executive order at issue in The Steel Seizure Case (i.e., Executive Order 10340). In that case Roosevelt’s successor, President Truman, had ordered private steel production facilities seized in support of the Korean War effort, but the Court held the executive order was not within the power granted to the President by the Constitution.

Table of Presidents using Executive Orders

President Number
issued [15]
Starting with
E.O. number [15]
George Washington 8 n/a
John Adams 1 n/a
Thomas Jefferson 4 n/a
James Madison 1 n/a
James Monroe 1 n/a
John Quincy Adams 3 n/a
Andrew Jackson 12 n/a
Martin van Buren 10 n/a
William Henry Harrison 0 n/a
John Tyler 17 n/a
James K. Polk 18 n/a
Zachary Taylor 5 n/a
Millard Fillmore 12 n/a
Franklin Pierce 35 n/a
James Buchanan 16 n/a
Abraham Lincoln 48
Andrew Johnson 79
Ulysses S. Grant 217
Rutherford B. Hayes 92
James Garfield 6
Chester Arthur 96
Grover Cleveland (first term) 113
Benjamin Harrison 143
Grover Cleveland (second term) 140
William McKinley 185
Theodore Roosevelt 1,081
William Howard Taft 724
Woodrow Wilson 1,803
Warren G. Harding 522
Calvin Coolidge 1,203
Herbert Hoover 968 5075
Franklin D. Roosevelt (~3.05 terms) 3,522 6071
Harry S. Truman 907 9538
Dwight D. Eisenhower 484 10432
John F. Kennedy 214 10914
Lyndon B. Johnson 325 11128
Richard Nixon 346 11452
Gerald R. Ford 169 11798
Jimmy Carter 320 11967
Ronald Reagan 381 12287
George H. W. Bush 166 12668
Bill Clinton[17] 308 12834
George W. Bush[17] 291 13198
Barack Obama[17] 276 13489
Donald Trump (as of April 21, 2017) [18] 25 13765

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_order_(United_States)

Trump has already signed 66 executive actions — here’s what each one does

donald trumpPresident Donald Trump signs the executive order halting immigrants from some Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s first months in office have been filled with a flurry of action, and he’s just getting started.

The 45th president has signed 66 executive actions so far, with far-reaching effects on Americans’ lives.

There are technically three types of executive actions, which each have different authority and effects, with executive orders holding the most prestige:

  • 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’

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

At a tools manufacturer in Wisconsin, Trump signed an order directing federal agencies to review and propose changes to the popular, but controversial H-1B visa program meant to attract skilled foreign labor.

Critics say it’s used by companies to hire cheap, foreign workers in place of Americans, while proponents — including many in the tech industry — say it provides much-needed skilled workers to sectors where companies have struggled to hire Americans.

Trump’s “Buy American, hire American” order also directs federal agencies to maximize the American products they purchase, particularly calling out “steel, iron, aluminum, and cement.”

Read the full text of the order here »

Presidential proclamation, April 14: National Park Week

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.

The president also donated his first quarter salary to the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program. Critics were quick to point out that Trump’s $78,333.32 donation could hardly make up for the nearly $2 billion his federal budget proposes cutting from the Interior Department this year.

 

Presidential memorandum, April 12: Delegating terrorist report request

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.

Read the full text of the memo here »

Presidential memorandum, April 11: Signing letter on including Montenegro in NATO

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.

The president has called on members of NATO to pay their fair share, saying the US carries too much financial responsibility for the military stronghold. The addition of Montenegro is likely to irk Russia, however, as it means one more country looks to West instead of staying under the influence of the Kremlin.

Read the full text of the memo indicating Trump’s approval of the Senate’s vote here »

Presidential memorandum, April 8: Notifying Congress of the US Syria strike

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

This memo formally informed Congress of Trump’s order to launch a salvo of 59 cruise missiles on Shayrat airfield and nearby military infrastructure controlled by Syrian President Bashar Assad on Friday, in response to a chemical attack that killed at least 80 people in the northwestern part of the country on Tuesday.

Some lawmakers slammed Trump for not getting congressional or UN approval before ordering the strike, as the president’s legal authority for doing so is unclear.

“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.”

Read the full text of the memo here »

5 presidential proclamations, April 3-7: Honoring and drawing awareness

5 presidential proclamations, April 3-7: Honoring and drawing awareness

John Glenn was the first US man to orbit the Earth as part of Project Mercury.NASA

Trump proclaimed various days and weeks in April were in honor of five different causes:

  1. April 2-8, 2017: National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
  2. Honoring the Memory of John Glenn
  3. April 7, 2017: Education and Sharing Day
  4. April 14, 2017: Pan American Day; April 9-15, 2017: Pan American Week
  5. April 9, 2017: National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day

Read the full text of each proclamation in the links above.

 

Presidential memorandum, April 3: Principles for reforming the draft

Presidential memorandum, April 3: Principles for reforming the draft

The president’s son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner talks with Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. during his visit to Iraq with the US military on April 4.Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr

The United States has had a volunteer-based military for over four decades, but nearly all American males still have to register for the draft when they turn 18.

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.”

Read the full text of the memo here »

2 Executive Orders, March 31: Lowering the trade deficit and collecting import duties

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.”

Read the full text of the deficit order here »

And the full text of the antidumping order here »

Executive Orders, March 31 and February 9: Changing the DOJ order of succession

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.

Read the full text of the first order here »

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 the second order here »

6 presidential proclamations, March 31: Sexual assault awareness and others

6 presidential proclamations, March 31: Sexual assault awareness and others

Jessica Drake (R) was one of several women who accused Donald Trump of past sexual misconduct during the 2016 election.Reuters/Kevork Djansezian

Trump proclaimed April 2, 2017 World Autism Awareness Day, and that the month of April 2017 was in honor of five different causes:

  1. Cancer Control Month
  2. National Child Abuse Prevention Month
  3. National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
  4. National Financial Capability Month
  5. National Donate Life Month

Many criticized Trump’s National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, in particular, because multiple woman came forward during the campaign and accused Trump of sexual misconduct in the past. He also bragged on a 2005 tape that surfaced in October 2016that he could “grab” women “by the p—y” because “when you’re a star they let you do it.”

A very Ironic Trump Declares “National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month” http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/03/donald-trump-april-national-sexual-assault-awareness-month  via @MotherJones

Photo published for Trump Declares "National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month"

Trump Declares “National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month”

The president has been accused of assaulting more than 15 women.

motherjones.com

Trump’s defense of O’Reilly underscores how farcical his proclamation of National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month is.

Read the full text of each proclamation in the links above.

Executive Order, March 29: Combating the opioid crisis

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.

But many experts said the president’s action is “underwhelming.”

“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.

Read the full text of the order here »

Executive Order, March 28: Dismantling Obama’s climate change protections

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.”

It also rescinds four of Obama’s executive actions, two of his reports, and tells the Environmental Protection Agency to review his landmark Clean Power Plan that would have capped power plant emissions. Since many of Obama’s actions were complex, however, it may take Trump a while to reverse them.

Democrats, environmentalists, and protesters demonstrating outside the White House after Trump signed the order decried the action, declaring it would lead to runaway climate change, while many Republican congressmen applauded the action for promoting energy independence.

Read the full text of the order here »

Executive Order, March 27: Revoking Obama’s fair pay and safe workplaces orders

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.

Read the full text of the order here »

Presidential memorandum, March 27: Establishing the White House Office of American Innovation

Presidential memorandum, March 27: Establishing the White House Office of American Innovation

President Trump departs the White House in Washington with son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.Thomson Reuters

Trump established the White House Office of American Innovation, choosing his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to lead it. The office will aim to overhaul government functions with ideas from industry.

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.

Read the full text of the memo here »

Presidential proclamation, March 24: Greek Independence Day

Presidential proclamation, March 24: Greek Independence Day

President Donald Trump speaks to guests during a Greek Independence Day celebration in the East Room of the White House, on March 24, 2017 in Washington, DC.Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Trump declared March 25, 2017, as Greek Independence Day.

“American patriots built our Republic on the ancient Greeks’ groundbreaking idea that the people should decide their political fates,” the president wrote in the proclamation.

Read the full text here »

2 presidential memoranda, March 23: Declaring an emergency in South Sudan

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.

United Nations officials have called the famine in South Sudan, Nigeria, and Somalia the “world’s largest humanitarian crisis in 70 years.”

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.

Read the full text of the memos here and here »

Presidential memorandum, March 20: Delegating to Tillerson

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.”

Read the full text of the memo here »

Presidential proclamation, March 17: National Poison Prevention Week

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.

Read the full text of the proclamation here »

Presidential memorandum, March 16: A letter to the House of Representatives outlining Trump’s proposed budget

Presidential memorandum, March 16: A letter to the House of Representatives outlining Trump's proposed budget

Winners and losers in Trump’s first budget.Mike Nudelman/Business Insider

Trump sent his first budget to the House of Representatives, requesting an additional $30 billion for the Department of Defense to fight ISIS and $3 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to protect the US border.

To offset the massive defense money, Trump proposes slashing funding for several key federal agencies, dropping budgets for the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency by almost a third.

Several noteworthy Republican lawmakers signaled they didn’t approve of Trump’s first budget, and Democrats across the board decried the deep spending cuts.

Read the full text of the memorandum here »

Executive Order, March 13: Reorganizing the executive branch

Executive Order, March 13: Reorganizing the executive branch

President Donald Trump’s Cabinet gathers in the Oval Office on March 13, 2017.Donald Trump/Twitter

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.

Read the full text of the order here »

Presidential proclamation, March 6: National Consumer Protection Week

Presidential proclamation, March 6: National Consumer Protection Week

Pool/Getty Images

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.”

Read the full text of the proclamation here »

Executive Order, March 6: A new travel ban

Executive Order, March 6: A new travel ban

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.”

Read the full text of the order here »

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

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.

Read the full text of the memorandum here »

3 Presidential proclamations, March 1: National months for women, the American Red Cross, and Irish-Americans

3 Presidential proclamations, March 1: National months for women, the American Red Cross, and Irish-Americans

Donald Trump signs bills to promote women in STEM.Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The president proclaimed March 2017 Women’s History Month, American Red Cross Month, and Irish-American Heritage Month.

Read the full text of the women’s history proclamation here »

And the Red Cross proclamation here »

And the Irish-American proclamation here »

Executive Order, February 28: Promoting Historically Black Colleges and Universities

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.”

Read the full text of the order here »

Executive Order, February 28: Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ rule

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.

Read the full text of the order here »

Executive Order, February 24: Enforcing regulatory reform

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.”

Read the full text of the order here »

Executive Order, February 9: Combating criminal organizations

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.

Read the full text of the order here »

Executive Order, February 9: Reducing crime

Executive Order, February 9: Reducing crime

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.

Trump has come under fire recently for claiming the national murder rate was at an all-time high, when it has in fact dropped to one of the lowest rates ever, with 2015 merely experiencing a slight uptick from the previous year.

Read the full text of the order here »

Executive Order, February 9: Protecting law enforcement

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.

The action is likely in response to multiple high-profile police killings over the past year, including a sniper attack that killed five Dallas police officers in July.

Read the full text of the order here »

Executive Order, February 3: Reviewing Wall Street regulations

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.

Read the full text of the order here »

Presidential Memorandum, February 3: Reviewing the fiduciary duty rule

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.

Democratic lawmakers and 38-million-member retiree nonprofit AARP came out against the action. Read more about Wall Street’s response to the memorandum here »

Read the full text of the memorandum here »

Presidential proclamation, February 2: American Heart Month

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.

Read the full text of the proclamation here »

Executive Order, January 30: For every new regulation proposed, repeal two existing ones

Executive Order, January 30: For every new regulation proposed, repeal two existing ones

President Donald Trump.Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

The order states that for every one regulation the executive branch proposes, two must be identified to repeal. It also caps the spending on new regulations for 2017 at $0.

Some environmental groups expressed concern that the order could undo regulations put in place to protect natural resources.

Read the full text here »

Executive Order, January 28: Drain the swamp

Executive Order, January 28: Drain the swamp

Trump’s Cabinet nominees.Skye Gould/Business Insider

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.

But it also loosened some ethics restrictions that Obama put in place, decreasing the number of years executive branch employees had to wait since they had last been lobbyists from two years to one.

Read the full text here »

Presidential Memorandum, January 28: Reorganizing the National and Homeland Security Councils

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.

Read the full text here »

Presidential Memorandum, January 28: Defeating ISIS

Presidential Memorandum, January 28: Defeating ISIS

Donald Trump at a rally with James Mattis, his pick for defense secretary.AP

Making a point to use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” (something Trump criticized Obama for on the campaign trail), Trump directed his administration “to develop a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS,” drafted within 30 days.

Read the full text here »

Executive Order, January 27: Immigration ban

Executive Order, January 27: Immigration ban

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.”

Tens of thousands of people protested the action in cities and airports across the US, company executives came out against the order, and top Republicans split with their president to criticize Trump’s approach.

Read the full text here »

UPDATE: Since the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down this order on February 9, Trump issued a new order intended to replace this one on March 6.

Presidential Memorandum, January 27: ‘Rebuilding’ the military

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.

Read the full text here »

Presidential proclamation, January 26: National School Choice Week

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.

Read the full text here »

Executive Order, January 25: Build the wall

Executive Order, January 25: Build the wall

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.

Read the full text here »

Executive Order, January 25: Cutting funding for sanctuary cities

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.

Read the full text here »

Executive Order, January 24: Expediting environmental review for infrastructure projects

Executive Order, January 24: Expediting environmental review for infrastructure projects

Then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a campaign rally.Mark Lyons/Getty Images

The order allows governors or heads of federal agencies to request an infrastructure project be considered “high-priority” so it can be fast-tracked for environmental review.

Trump signed the order as a package infrastructure deal, along with three memoranda on oil pipelines.

Read the full text here »

3 Presidential Memoranda, January 24: Approving pipelines

3 Presidential Memoranda, January 24: Approving pipelines

President Donald Trump looks up while signing an executive action to advance construction of the Keystone XL pipeline at the White House in Washington January 24, 2017.Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Trump signed three separate memoranda set to expand oil pipelines in the United States, a move immediately decried by Native American tribes, Democrats, and activists.

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.

Read the full text of all three memoranda here »

Presidential Memorandum, January 24: Reduce regulations for US manufacturing

Presidential Memorandum, January 24: Reduce regulations for US manufacturing

President-elect Donald Trump talks with workers during a visit to the Carrier factory on Dec. 1, 2016, in Indianapolis, Ind.AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Trump directed his Secretary of Commerce to review how federal regulations affect US manufacturers, with the goal of figuring out how to reduce them as much as possible.

Read the full text here »

Presidential Memorandum, January 23: Reinstating the ‘Mexico City policy’

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.

Read the full text here »

Presidential Memorandum, January 23: Hiring Freeze

Presidential Memorandum, January 23: Hiring Freeze

Andy Kiersz/Business Insider

Trump froze all hiring in the executive branch excluding the military, directing no vacancies be filled, in an effort to cut government spending and bloat.

Union leaders called the action “harmful and counterproductive,” saying it would “disrupt government programs and services that benefit everyone.”

Read the full text here »

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

Presidential Memorandum, January 23: Out of the TPP

A protester holds signs against the TPP during a rally in Lima, Peru.Esteban Felix/AP Photo

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.”

Read the full text here »

Executive Order, January 20: Declaring Trump’s intention to repeal the Affordable Care Act

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.

Read the full text here »

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

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.

http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-executive-orders-memorandum-proclamations-presidential-action-guide-2017-1/#presidential-memorandum-january-20-reinces-regulatory-freeze-50

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The Pronk Pops Show 874, April 16, 2017, Story 1: Turkey Votes To Change From Parliamentary to Presidential System of Government — Erdogan Expands Powers and Control — Moving Toward Dictatorship! — Videos — 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

Posted on April 17, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Bombs, Breaking News, Communications, Constitutional Law, Countries, Cruise Missiles, Culture, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Economics, Education, Egypt, Empires, Energy, European History, Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, France, Germany, Government, Government Spending, Great Britain, History, Human, Iraq, Islam, Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic State, Law, Libya, Life, Media, Middle East, MIssiles, National Interest, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Networking, News, Obama, Oil, Oil, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Religion, Resources, Rifles, Rule of Law, Russia, Scandals, Syria, Technology, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weather, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

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Story 1: Turkey Votes To Change From Parliamentary to Presidential System of Government —  Videos —

Image result for turkey referendum 2017 result 51.4%Image result for cartoons erdogan

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 

Image result for cartoons islamic state trump bomb the shit Image result for coalition to defeat isis list of 68 countries
Image result for coalition to defeat isis list of 68 countries
Image result for map of raqqaImage result for March 2017 map of syria kurds and islamic state controlledImage result for map of raqqa cityImage result for map of syria islamic state control 2017

Image result for 2017 map of syria kurds and islamic state controlled

Image result for map showing where there are kurds

Image result for map showing where there are kurds

Image result for map showing religous sect by area in syria, iraq, iran, turkey

Image result for map showing religous sect by area in syria, iraq, iran, turkey

Image result for coalition to defeat isis list of 68 countries

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

U.S.-led Coalition Accidentally Bomb Syrian Allies, Killing 18 | True News

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.
U.S. Army trainers watch as an Iraqi recruit fires at a military base in Iraq. PHOTO: JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES

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.

The new approach was on display this week in Afghanistan, where Gen. John Nicholson, head of the U.S.-led coalition there, decided to use one of the military’s biggest nonnuclear bombs—a Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB—to hit a remote Islamic State underground network of tunnels and caves.

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.

Write to Dion Nissenbaum at dion.nissenbaum@wsj.com and Maria Abi-Habib at maria.habib@wsj.com

Appeared in the Apr. 15, 2017, print edition as ‘Military Takes Lead on ISIS.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-gives-generals-free-rein-on-isis-fight-1492218994

Raqqa campaign (2016–present)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Raqqa offensive (2016–present))
Raqqa campaign (2016–present)
Part of the Syrian Civil War,
the Syrian Kurdish–Islamist conflict (2013–present), and
the American-led intervention in Syria
Northern Raqqa Offensive (November 2016).svgBattle of Raqqa2.svg
Top: Map showing the SDF advances; Bottom: A map of the situation in Raqqa itself
Date 6 November 2016 – present
(5 months, 1 week and 4 days)
Location Raqqa Governorate, Deir ez-Zor Governorate, Syria
35.9500°N 39.0167°ECoordinates: 35.9500°N 39.0167°E
Status Ongoing

  • The SDF captures more than 236 villages, hamlets and strategic hills, two water and power stations,[10][11] Al-Tabqa Airbase,[12][13]and reportedly Tabqa Dam[14][15][16]
  • The SDF, after latest advances, are now at a distance of 5 km from the ISIL capital city of Ar-Raqqah[17]
  • The SDF and allies cut off all main roads out of Raqqa (minus Baath Dam)[18]
Territorial
changes
The SDF capture more than 7,400 square kilometres (2,900 sq mi) of territory from ISIL during the first, second and third phases of the campaign[19][20]
Belligerents
Syrian Democratic Forces
Self Defence Forces (HXP)[1]
Leftist/Anarchist volunteers[a]
CJTF–OIR

 Iraqi Kurdistan[8]


 Russia[9] Islamic State of Iraq and the LevantCommanders and leadersRojda Felat[21]
(leading YPJ commander)[22][23]
Kino Gabriel[24]
(MFS commander)
Syrian opposition Fayad Ghanim[25]
(Raqqa Hawks Brigade commander)
Abu Issa
(Jabhat Thuwar al-Raqqa chief commander)
Syrian oppositionMuhedi Jayila[26]
(Elite Forces commander)
Bandar al-Humaydi[24]
(Al-Sanadid Forces military chief commander)
Siyamend Welat[27]
(HXP chief commander)
United States Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend
(CJTF–OIR chief commander)

For other anti-ISIL commanders, see order of battleIslamic State of Iraq and the LevantAbu Bakr al-Baghdadi(WIA)[28][29]
(Leader of ISIL)
Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti[30]
(leading ISIL commander for Raqqa defenses, c. 11–26 December)[31]
Abu Saraqeb al-Maghribi[32]
(Head of security in Al-Thawrah)
Abu Jandal al-Masri[32]
(Chief of Information in Raqqa)
Abu Muhammad al-Jazrawi[32]
(Chief of Al-Hisba secret police)
Mahmoud al-Isawi[33]
(ISIL proganganda chief)
Abd al-Basit al-Iraqi [34]
(ISIL commander of Middle Eastexternal networks)
Zainuri Kamaruddin[35]
(Katibah Nusantara commander)
Abu Luqman[36]
(ISIL governor of Raqqa)

For other ISIL commanders, see order of battleUnits involvedSee anti-ISIL forces order of battleSee ISIL order of battleStrength

30,000–40,000 SDF fighters[37][38][39](70% Arab acc. to the SDF)[40]

500 HXP soldiers[1]
United States 900 American special forces,[51][52][53] 1 artillery battery[54]


Russia Several Tupolev Tu-95 bombers[9]

10,000–20,000+ fighters[55][56][57][58][59](estimate by Western SDF volunteers & some experts)

Unknown number of UAVs (drones)[64]

Casualties and losses

235+ killed[65][66][67][c]

1 killed[71]
United States 1 killed[72]


232+ killed, 30+ wounded, 15 armored vehicles lost (ISIL claim)[73][74][31]

2,098+ killed and 20 captured (SDF and US claim)[75]95 civilians killed[76][77]
14,000+ displaced[78][79][80]

The Raqqa campaign[81] (codenamed Operation Wrath of Euphrates), is an ongoing military operation launched by the Syrian Democratic Forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Raqqa Governorate, with the goal of isolating and eventually capturing the Islamic State’s capital city, Raqqa. Another one of the main goals is to capture the Tabqa Dam, the nearby city of Al-Thawrah,[82] and the Baath Dam further downstream.[83] The offensive has also been dubbed the Battle to End All Battles in the War on ISIL.[84]

The offensive is concurrent with the Battle of al-Bab in the Aleppo governorate, the Battle of Mosul in Iraq, the Battle of Sirte (2016) in Libya, the Palmyra offensive (2017), and a reignition of fighting in Deir ez-Zor’s siege.

Background

In late October 2016, the United States Secretary of DefenseAsh Carter called for an offensive on Raqqa to take place concurrent with the Battle of Mosul in Iraq. He stated that the US was cooperating with its allies in order to launch an “isolation operation” around Raqqa. On 26 October, the President of TurkeyRecep Tayyip Erdoğan called the President of the United StatesBarack Obama and stated that he did not want the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to participate in the planned operation, and instead planned to involve the Turkish Armed Forces. The United Kingdom‘s Secretary of State for DefenceMichael Fallon rejected the idea of non-Arab forces taking part in the offensive and demanded a purely Arab force.[85]

On the same day, the commander of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend stressed that the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces was the only armed group capable of capturing Raqqa in the near future. Fewer US-led coalition troops were to be involved than in the Battle of Mosul.[86] On 3 November, the commander of the Seljuk Brigade and SDF spokesman Col. Talal Silo rejected the participation of Turkey in the operation.[87]

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[88] fled to Raqqa, boosting the ISIL forces that were already present in their de facto capital city.[89]

Announcement

The SDF officially announced the start of the operation on 6 November in the village of Ayn Issa.[90] 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.[91] The SDF general command called for the international coalition against ISIL to support the operation.[92] 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”.[93]

The offensive

Phase One: Isolating Raqqa from its northern hinterland[edit]

Tal Saman, ISIL headquarters in the northern Raqqa countryside, after being captured by the SDF.

On 6 November, the SDF captured six small villages,[37] including the villages of Wahid, Umm Safa, Wasita, Haran, al-Adriyah and Jurah south and southeast of Ayn Issa.[94] The Islamic State detonated four car bombs on the first day of the offensive.[95]

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.[96] 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.[97] 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.[98]

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.[24]The SDF had also begun to besiege Tal Saman, the largest village and ISIL headquarters north of Raqqa,[99] 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.[100] On the next day, the SDF advanced into Tal Saman, resulting in a fierce battle with its ISIL defenders.[101] At the same time, the SDF also captured 10 more villages and farms.[102][103] By 19 November, the SDF had fully captured Tal Saman and had driven ISIL completely from the surrounding countryside.[104][105] With this, the first phase of the offensive was considered completed.[106]On 20 November 2016, 200 fighters completed training, joined the SDF, and were sent to participate in the offensive.[107]

Stalemate and preparation for the second phase

A United States Air Force airstrike on an ISIL position to the north of Raqqa

The second phase of the offensive aimed to enforce a full blockade of the city of Raqqa.[106] On 21 November, the SDF captured two more villages,[108] while ISIL launched a counter-attack near Tal Saman.[109] Over the next days, the SDF attempted to further advance, such as at al-Qalita,[110] but was unable to break through ISIL’s defense line south of Tal Saman.[111] 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.[112]

On 25 November, ISIL received reinforcements from Iraq, among them explosive experts and defected Iraqi Army personnel.[113] 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.[114][115] 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.[116][117] Iraqi military however later stated in April 2017 that he might still be alive.[118]

On 27 November, the SDF announced the offensive’s second phase was due to start,[119] though this was then delayed. At least five SDF fighters were killed in renewed clashes north of Raqqa on 29 November.[120] Meanwhile, ISIL suffered from the defection of two senior commanders, who fled from Raqqa to join Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Idlib.[121] 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.[116][122] 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.[123] 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.[124]

Phase Two: Isolating Raqqa from its western countryside

Initial advances[edit]

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.[125][126] The United States announced that it would send 200 more troops to assist the SDF.[51] The next day, the SDF captured seven more villages from ISIL.[127][128] On 12 December, the SDF captured four villages as well as many hamlets south of Tishrin Dam.[129][130][128] The SDF captured five villages during the next two days.[131][132][133] On 15 December, the SDF captured three villages, taking the total number of villages captured by them in the second phase to 20.[134]

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.[135][136][137][138][139] On 19 December, ISIL launched a counter-attack to regain four villages in the northwestern countryside,[140] but the attack was repelled after a few hours.[141] The following night, ISIL forces retreated largely unopposed from the besieged 54 villages, leaving them to be captured by the SDF.[142][143] The SDF declared that they had captured 97 villages overall during the second phase, and had begun to advance against Qal’at Ja’bar.[144]

Battle of Jabar

Killed ISIL fighters near Mahmudli.

On 21 December, the SDF seized five villages near Qal’at Ja’bar, including Jabar,[143] which served as the main weaponry storage and supply centre for ISIL in the northwestern countryside.[145] The coalition then began to move toward Suwaydiya Saghirah and Suwaydiya Kabir, the last villages before Tabqa Dam.[143][146][147] Even though an ISIL counter-attack managed to retake Jabar village soon after,[148] the SDF attacked again on 23 December, and once again took control of it, while also capturing another village.[149][150] This prompted ISIL to launch yet another counter-attack later that day, which was accompanied by several suicide car bombs.[151][152][153] 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,[154][155][156] though some ISIL holdouts persisted in Jabar.[145]

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,[157][158] and by 26 December, the SDF had finally fully secured the main Jabar village, with the last ISIL defenders being expelled after heavy fighting.[145] An ISIL counterattack on the village later that day failed,[31][159] 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.[31][30] 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.[160]

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.[161] 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.[162] 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.[163] 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.[164][165] 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.[166]

Also on January 1, the SDF resumed its offensive on the northern front, reportedly advancing 6 km south of Tell Saman against ISIL positions.[11][167] The SDF reportedly captured nine more villages in this area, within the next three days.[168][169][170][171][172] 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.[173] Another two villages and hamlets were captured by the SDF on 5 January.[174]

SDF fighters examine Qal’at Ja’bar. ISIL had built tunnels and weapons depots into the medieval castle.[175]

The SDF captured Qal’at Ja’bar (Ja’bar Castle) from ISIL on 6 January.[176][177] The same day, ISIL was reported to have moved its 150 prisoners from Tabqa city due to the offensive.[178] The SDF later captured eight villages and five hamlets at the Ayn Issa front.[179] On 7 January, the SDF captured five villages including the strategic Suwaydiya Gharbi[180][181] and Suwaydiya Saghirah, reaching the outskirts of Tabqa Dam.[182] ISIL reportedly recaptured Suwaydiya Saghirah by the next day after a counterattack, while a local leader of the group was killed in clashes.[183] Meanwhile, ISIL was reported to have withdrawn 150 of its fighters towards Raqqa city.[184]

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.[185] 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.[185]

On 9 January, the SDF captured another village, along with three hamlets.[186]

On 10 January, ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack at the Jabar frontline and reportedly recaptured several sites;[187] with pro-Free Syrian Army sources claiming Qal’at Ja’bar and the village of Jabar were among these.[188] ISIL consequently released photos of dead SDF fighters, while claiming that over 70 of them had been killed in the counter-attack.[189] However, the SDF was reported to still be in control of Jabar village and Qalat Jabar a few days later.[190][191]

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.[192] 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,[193] besieging a large pocket of about 45 villages and 20 hamlets.[194] All of them were captured by the next day, resulting in the alliance gaining about 460 square kilometres (180 sq mi) of land.[195] Another village was captured by the SDF on 13 January.[196][197] On 15 January, the SDF progressed to Suwaydiya Kabir village,[198] while ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack against Mahmudli and a nearby village, resulting in clashes within these settlements.[199] The attack was repelled after several hours of fighting.[200] The SDF captured three villages during the day,[201] while Suwaydiya Saghirah was also reported to be under its control again.[202] On 17 January 2017, 28 Arab tribes from Raqqa announced their support for the offensive and encouraged locals to join the SDF.[203][204]

The SDF attacked Suwaydiya Kabir on the next day, leading to heavy clashes in the village.[205] Meanwhile, it was announced that about 2,500 local fighters had joined the offensive since it began.[206] On 19 January, ISIL launched a counter-attack against Suwaydiya Saghirah, supported by mortars and heavy machine guns, killing or wounding several YPG fighters.[207][208] Despite this, the SDF made further progress on the next day, capturing a village and advancing against many other ISIL-held villages.[209] 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.[210][211]

Tabqa Dam raid and further SDF advances in the north

The Tabqa Dam in 2014.

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.[212]

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,[213] and caused the water level of the Euphrates to rise to its highest level in 20 years, leading to record flooding downstream.[84] Coinciding with this, pro-SDF sources reported that US special forces and SDF units had launched a raid against Al-Thawrah across the river.[214] 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.[84]

Over the next three days, ISIL repeatedly launched fierce counter-attacks against SDF positions in the western and northern countryside.[215][216][217] ISIL managed to retake ground in the area around the dam,[218] but the attack was later repelled.[219]

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”.[220] 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.[45]

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,[221] which the coalition had already unsuccessfully attacked in November.[114] ISIL maintenance crews managed to fix the pipelines during 3 February, restoring Raqqa’s water supply.[222][223] On 3 February, 251 Arab fighters in Hasaka completed their training and joined the SDF.[224]

Phase Three: Isolating Raqqa from its eastern countryside

Pressing south[edit]

YPG and YPJ fighters in combat.

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.[225] 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.[226][227] On the next day, the Kurdish-led forces captured another two villages along with a hamlet and two farms, and besieged Bir Said,[228][229] while especially intense airstrikes hit several ISIL targets in Al-Thawrah.[230] Bir Said, along with another village, was eventually captured by the SDF on 6 February.[231][232][233] In addition to these villages, the SDF also captured another five villages on two fronts.[234] The SDF made further progress, capturing three more villages on 7 February.[235] 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.[84] 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.[236]

As these advances continued, ISIL responded by launching several unsuccessful counter-attacks against Suwaydiya Kabir and other strategic territories captured by the SDF.[237][238] 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.[239][240][241][242][243] The SDF captured Mizella the next day.[40][244] 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;[245][246] the next day, the SDF attempted to cross the Balikh River northeast of Raqqa, leading to heavy fighting with local ISIL defenders.[247] On 12 February, a large-scale counter-attack by ISIL reportedly succeeded in retaking Suwaydiya Kabir and four other nearby villages.[248][249] However, pro-YPG sources denied these reports.[250] 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.[251] Clashes continued over the next few days.[252] On 16 February, 165 more SDF fighters completed training and joined the offensive.[253]

Capturing the eastern countryside

A destroyed bridge over the Euphrates in Deir ez-Zor Governorate. As result of the CJTF–OIR bombing campaign, as well as ISIL detonations, most bridges across the river were destroyed.

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.[254] 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,[255] while the Russian Air Force conducted airstrikes on ISIL forces in Raqqa city for the second time since its entry into the war.[9] 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.[256][257] On 18 February, the SDF stormed a prison a few kilometres northeast of Raqqa, freeing some of the inmates.[258] They later captured three villages in Deir ez-Zor’s northern countryside.[259] On the next day, the SDF captured five villages to the east of Raqqa.[260] 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.[261][262][263][264][265][266]

On 21 February, the SDF captured two villages on the Makman front and another one near Raqqa.[267][268][269] ISIL later again assaulted Suwaydiya Kabir, attacking it from three fronts, leading to heavy fighting around it.[270] 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.[271][272][273] The SDF stated that it had entered Deir ez-Zor Governorate for the first time in the offensive.[274] On the next day, they captured six villages and sixteen hamlets.[275]

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.[276][277] They captured the strategic Abu Khashab village later that day.[278] On 25 February, they captured another three villages on the fourth front.[279][280]

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.[280] 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.[281] On 28 February, it was reported that the US-led coalition had completely destroyed the Tabqa Airbase in an airstrike.[282]

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.[283]

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.[284][285][286] The area captured by SDF forces on that day was about 19 square kilometers, and about 32 ISIL militants were killed in the clashes.[287] 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,[288][18] and reached the Euphrates River.[289] The SDF captured six villages, the Al-Kubar Military Base (a former nuclear facility), and the Zalabiye Bridge, during the day.[290][291] On 8 March, the SDF took control of the strategic West Menxer hill in the eastern countryside,[292] 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.[54] 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.[293]

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.[294][295][296] 244 Arab fighters from the Raqqa countryside also joined the SDF during the day, for the protection of the people in the region.[297] On the next day, SDF forces advancing from the Abu Khashab front captured three villages, including two near Kubar.[298][299][299][300] On 12 March, the SDF captured Khas Ujayl village, to the southeast of Raqqa, on the Abu Khashab front,[301][302] while ISIL continued to launch repeated counterattacks in the area, in an attempt to check the SDF advances.[303] Meanwhile, 230 ISIL fighters entered Raqqa to reinforce the city.[303][304]

On 14 March, the SDF captured the Khass Hibal village, as well as the Al-Kulayb grain silos, along the Raqqa-Deir Ezzor highway.[305][306] 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).[307] The SDF captured the Hamad Asaf silos and the[308] Al Kulayb village the next day. Hamad Assaf was also reportedly captured.[309][310] 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.[311] Meanwhile, clashes continued to take place around Khas Ujayl.[312][313]

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.[314][315] On the next day, SDF captured al-Karama, along with Jarqa village as well as a train station and water pumping station nearby.[316][317][318][319][320] On 21 March, it was reported again that the SDF had captured Hamad Assaf in the eastern countryside from the Abu Khashab front.[321][322] Another village was captured on 22 March from the Abu Khashab front.[323][322] 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.[324] 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.[325][326][327][328]On 24 March, the SDF took control of two more villages in the eastern countryside of Raqqa.[329][330][331]

Battle for al-Tabqa countryside and other advances

SDF fighters near Tabqa Dam on 27 March.

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.[332][333][334][335] SDF and US forces also landed on the Jazirat al-‘Ayd Island (or Peninsula) to the west of Tabqa Dam, capturing it as well.[336] 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.[337] 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.[338]

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.[339][340] Airstrikes by the coalition on Tabqa city were reported to have killed about 25 civilians.[341] 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.[342][343][8] 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.[342][344][345] 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.[346] 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.[347] ISIL’s Amaq News Agency later denied later that the SDF had captured the dam.[348]

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.[349] 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.[350] On the same day, it was also reported that the SDF had captured 8 villages to the southwest of Al-Thawrah.[351] On 25 March, pro-Kurdish news agency Kurdistan24 reported that the SDF had announced the capture of the Tabqa Dam.[352] On the same day, the SDF advanced on Al-Tabqa Airbase, setting off clashes in the vicinity.[353]Amaq meanwhile claimed SDF had withdrawn from the dam.[354]

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.[355][356]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.[357][358]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.[359] 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.[360] 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.[361] They later announced that they had completely captured the Al-Tabqa Airbase, following a 24-hour battle.[12][362][13]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.[362][363]

SDF forces target ISIL positions near Tabqa Dam.

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.[14][364] A day later however SDF announced they were temporarily pausing their offensive for the dam.[365][15][16] 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.[366] SDF also captured 2 villages to the west of Raqqa on the same day.[367][368][369] It resumed the offensive against ISIL at the Tabqa Dam on 28 March.[370] 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.[371]

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.[372][373][374] On 31 March, SDF forces attacked the town of Al-Safsafah, to the east of Al-Thawrah, in an attempt to besiege the city.[375][376] 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.[377][378] The SDF announced during the day that over 220 new recruits had joined the offensive.[379] Meanwhile, leaflets were dropped on the city calling on ISIL to surrender.[380] Clashes continued in the countryside of Tabqa on next day as both sides attempted to advance.[381]

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.[382] 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.[383][384] SOHR, however, stated that they were still trying to besiege the city.[385] SDF fighters continued battling for Safsafah and Ibad, on the next day, to fully encircle Tabqa.[386][387] 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.[388] 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.[389][390] The village was captured by the next day, resulting in SDF completely encircling Tabqa city.[391][392]

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.[393][394] ISIL also launched unsuccessful counterattacks on Safsafah,[395] while also attacking Al-Tabqa Airbase.[396] The SDF captured another village near Tabqa on the next day.[397][398]

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.[399][400] 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.[401]

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.[402] 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.[403] 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.[404][403] A plan to attack Raqqa city itself was also scheduled to for April 2017, but it was postponed due to the Battle of Tabqa.[405] SDF was reported to have captured a village in the northern countryside of Raqqa on the same day.[406]

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.[407] 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.[408][409][410] They also cleared the Mushayrifah village near Tabqa, killing 27 ISIL fighters.[411][412]

On 17 April, the SDF captured 3 villages in the northern countryside of Raqqa along with four hamlets.[413][414][415]

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.”[416]

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.[417] 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.[124] 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.[418] On the same day, the Raqqa Civil Council announced that it had taken over the administration of the eastern countryside.[419]

Gallery

Notes

  1. Jump up^ Most Leftist Western volunteers fight as part of the YPG,[2] though some have also formed an independent unit, the Antifascist International Tabur,[3] or joined the International Freedom Battalion. The latter is a larger unit, mostly composed of Kurdish and Turkish communists.[4]
  2. Jump up^ 1,500 volunteers from villages captured by the SDF during phase one;[49] 1,000 volunteers from villages captured during phase two,[19] 750 volunteers from villages captured during phase three,[27] 200 more joined in April[50]
  3. 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.[68] ARA News, on the other side, reported that only 5 Western volunteers had been killed.[69]

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raqqa_campaign_(2016%E2%80%93present)

Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Meeting

March 24, 2017

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.

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.”

http://editorials.voa.gov/a/global-coalition-to-defeat-isis-meeting/3781086.html

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 

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.

A major part of the proposal would be to increase the number of US Special Operations trainers and advisers, which currently number around 500. Pictured: An Iraqi Army officer watches as a rocket launched towards Islamic State militants during a battle in Mosul, Iraq

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

The proposal does not call for putting Americans on the front lines but does call for greater American decision-making powers. Pictured: A displaced Iraqi family in Hamam Ali town, southern Mosul

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

Plan comes as major battle to liberate Raqqa looms after victories on the battlefields of Mosul and Palmyra. Questions remain as to who exactly will lead the operation to kick ISIS out of its de facto capital. Pictured: Iraqi soldiers

Iraqi soldiers fire a rocket toward Islamic State militants on the outskirt of the Makhmour south of Mosul, Iraq

Syrian government forces, Turkish troops and their Syrian militia allies, and US-backed Kurdish forces all have their eye on Raqqa. Pictured: Smoke billows as Iraqi forces hold a position on a street in Mosul on March 1

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.

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. Pictured: Parts of the ancient city of Palmyra being blown up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4278252/The-race-Raqqa-Major-battle-liberate-ISIS-city.html#ixzz4eXuAmt6k

President Trump arriving at the White House on Sunday. CreditAl Drago/The New York Times

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 negotiate a power-sharing accord with moderate Sunni Muslims that would also ease Assad out of power. One way to do that would be for NATO to create a no-fly safe zone around Idlib Province, where many of the anti-Assad rebels have gathered and where Assad recently dropped his poison gas on civilians. But Congress and the U.S. public are clearly wary of that.

So what else could we do? We could dramatically increase our military aid to anti-Assad rebels, giving them sufficient anti-tank and antiaircraft missiles to threaten Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian helicopters and fighter jets and make them bleed, maybe enough to want to open negotiations. Fine with me.

What else? We could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad. After all, they’re the ones overextended in Syria, not us. Make them fight a two-front war — the moderate rebels on one side and ISIS on the other. If we defeat territorial ISIS in Syria now, we will only reduce the pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah and enable them to devote all their resources to crushing the last moderate rebels in Idlib, not sharing power with them.

I don’t get it. President Trump is offering to defeat ISIS in Syria for free — and then pivot to strengthening the moderate anti-Assad rebels. Why? When was the last time Trump did anything for free? When was the last real estate deal Trump did where he volunteered to clean up a toxic waste dump — for free — before he negotiated with the owner on the price of the golf course next door?

This is a time for Trump to be Trump — utterly cynical and unpredictable. ISIS right now is the biggest threat to Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and pro-Shiite Iranian militias — because ISIS is a Sunni terrorist group that plays as dirty as Iran and Russia.

Trump should want to defeat ISIS in Iraq. But in Syria? Not for free, not now. In Syria, Trump should let ISIS be Assad’s, Iran’s, Hezbollah’s and Russia’s headache — the same way we encouraged the mujahedeen fighters to bleed Russia in Afghanistan.

Yes, in the long run we want to crush ISIS everywhere, but the only way to crush ISIS and keep it crushed on the ground is if we have moderate Sunnis in Syria and Iraq able and willing to replace it. And those will only emerge if there are real power-sharing deals in Syria and Iraq — and that will only happen if Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah feel pressured to share power.

And while I am at it, where is Trump’s Twitter feed when we need it? He should be tweeting every day this message: “Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have become the protectors of a Syrian regime that uses poison gas on babies! Babies! Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Assad — poison gas enablers. Sad.”

Do not let them off the hook! We need to make them own what they’ve become — enablers of a Syria that uses poison gas on children. Believe it or not, they won’t like being labeled that way. Trump needs to use his global Twitter feed strategically. Barack Obama never played this card. Trump needs to slam it down every day. It creates leverage.

Syria is not a knitting circle. Everyone there plays dirty, deviously and without mercy. Where’s that Trump when we need him?

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/12/opinion/why-is-trump-fighting-isis-in-syria.html?_r=0

Kurdistan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Kurdistan (disambiguation).
Kurdistan
Flag of Kurdistan.svg
Flag
Kurdish-inhabited area by CIA (1992) box inset removed.jpg
Kurdish-inhabited areas
Language Kurdish
Location Upper Mesopotamia, and the Zagros Mountains, including parts of Eastern Anatolia Region (Armenian Highlands) and southeastern Anatolia, northern Syria, northern Iraq, and the northwestern Iranian Plateau.[1]
Countries Iraq Republic of Iraq
 Islamic Republic of Iran
 Republic of Turkey
 Syrian Arab Republic
Population 28 million (2014 estimate)[2]
Internet TLD .krd

Kurdistan (/ˌkɜːrdɪˈstæn/ or /ˌkɜːrdɪˈstɑːn/) (Kurdish: [ˌkurdɪˈstan]; “Homeland of the Kurds” or “Land of the Kurds”;[3] also formerly spelled Curdistan;[4][5] ancient name: Corduene[6][7]) or Greater Kurdistan, is a roughly defined geo-cultural region wherein the Kurdish people form a prominent majority population,[8] and Kurdish culture, languages, and national identity have historically been based.[9] Kurdistan roughly encompasses the northwestern Zagros and the eastern Taurus mountain ranges.[10]

Contemporary use of the term refers to four parts of Kurdistan, which include southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Syria (Rojava or Western Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), and northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan).[11][12] Some Kurdish nationalist organizations seek to create an independent nation state consisting of some or all of these areas with a Kurdish majority, while others campaign for greater autonomy within the existing national boundaries.[13][14]

Iraqi Kurdistan first gained autonomous status in a 1970 agreement with the Iraqi government, and its status was re-confirmed as an autonomous entity within the federal Iraqi republic in 2005.[15] There is a province by the name Kurdistan in Iran; it is not self-ruled. Kurds fighting in the Syrian Civil War were able to take control of large sections of northern Syria as government forces, loyal to Bashar al-Assad, withdrew to fight elsewhere. Having established their own government, they called for autonomy in a federal Syria after the war.[16]

History

Main article: History of the Kurds

Ancient history

Various groups, among them the Guti, Hurrians, Mannai (Mannaeans), and Armenians, lived in this region in antiquity.[17] The original Mannaean homeland was situated east and south of the Lake Urmia, roughly centered around modern-day Mahabad.[18] The region came under Persian rule during the reign of Cyrus the Great and Darius I.

The Kingdom of Corduene, which emerged from the declining Seleucid Empire, was located to the south and south-east of Lake Van between Persia and Mesopotamia and ruled northern Mesopotamia and southeastern Anatolia from 189 BC to AD 384 as vassals of the vying Parthian and Roman Empire. At its zenith, the Roman Empire ruled large Kurdish-inhabited areas, particularly the western and northern Kurdish areas in the Middle East. Corduene became a vassal state of the Roman Republic in 66 BC and remained allied with the Romans until AD 384. After 66 BC, it passed another 5 times between Rome and Persia. Corduene was situated to the east of Tigranocerta, that is, to the east and south of present-day Diyarbakır in south-eastern Turkey.

Ancient Kurdistan as Kard-uchi, during Alexander the Great‘s Empire, 4th century BC

Some historians have correlated a connection between Corduene with the modern names of Kurds and Kurdistan;[7][19][20] T. A. Sinclair dismissed this identification as false,[21] while a common association is asserted in the Columbia Encyclopedia.[22]

Some of the ancient districts of Kurdistan and their corresponding modern names:[23]

  1. Corduene or Gordyene (Siirt, Bitlis and Şırnak)
  2. Sophene (Diyarbakır)
  3. Zabdicene or Bezabde (Gozarto d’Qardu or Jazirat Ibn or Cizre)
  4. Basenia (Bayazid)
  5. Moxoene (Muş)
  6. Nephercerta (Miyafarkin)
  7. Artemita (Van)

19th-century map showing the location of the Kingdom of Corduene in 60 B.C

One of the earliest records of the phrase land of the Kurds is found in an Assyrian Christian document of late antiquity, describing the stories of Assyrian saints of the Middle East, such as Abdisho. When the Sasanian Marzban asked Mar Abdisho about his place of origin, he replied that according to his parents, they were originally from Hazza, a village in Assyria. However they were later driven out of Hazza by pagans, and settled in Tamanon, which according to Abdisho was in the land of the Kurds. Tamanon lies just north of the modern Iraq-Turkey border, while Hazza is 12 km southwest of modern Erbil. In another passage in the same document, the region of the Khabur River is also identified as land of the Kurds.[24] According to Al-Muqaddasi and Yaqut al-Hamawi, Tamanon was located on the south-western or southern slopes of Mount Judi and south of Cizre.[25]

Post-classical history

Map of Jibal (mountains of northeastern Mesopotamia), highlighting “Summer and winter resorts of the Kurds”, the Kurdish lands. Redrawn from Ibn Hawqal, 977 CE.

In the tenth and eleventh centuries, several Kurdish principalities emerged in the region: in the north the Shaddadids (951–1174) (in east Transcaucasia between the Kur and Araxes rivers) and the Rawadids (955–1221) (centered on Tabriz and which controlled all of Azarbaijan), in the east the Hasanwayhids (959–1015) (in Zagros between Shahrizor and Khuzistan) and the Annazids (990–1116) (centered in Hulwan) and in the west the Marwanids (990–1096) to the south of Diyarbakır and north of Jazira.[26][27]

Map by Mahmud al-Kashgari (1074), showing Arḍ al-Akrād Arabic for land of Kurds located between Arḍ al-Šām (Syria), and Arḍ al-ʿIrāqayn (Iraq Arabi and Iraq Ajami).

Kurdistan in the Middle Ages was a collection of semi-independent and independent states called emirates. It was nominally under indirect political or religious influence of Khalifs or Shahs. A comprehensive history of these states and their relationship with their neighbors is given in the text of Sharafnama, written by Prince Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi in 1597.[28][29] The emirates included Baban, Soran, Badinan and Garmiyan in the south; Bakran, Bohtan (or Botan) and Badlis in the north, and Mukriyan and Ardalan in the east.

The earliest medieval attestation of the toponym Kurdistan is found in a 12th-century Armenian historical text by Matteos Urhayeci. He described a battle near Amid and Siverek in 1062 as to have taken place in Kurdistan.[30][31] The second record occurs in the prayer from the colophon of an Armenian manuscript of the Gospels, written in 1200.[32][33]

A later use of the term Kurdistan is found in Empire of Trebizond documents in 1336[34] and in Nuzhat-al-Qulub, written by Hamdollah Mostowfi in 1340.[35]

Modern history

1803 Cedid Atlas showing Kurdistan in blue

Kurdish independent kingdoms and autonomous principalities circa 1835

According to Sharafkhan Bitlisi in his Sharafnama, the boundaries of the Kurdish land begin at the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and stretch on an even line to the end of Malatya and Marash.[36] Evliya Çelebi, who traveled in Kurdistan between 1640 and 1655, mentioned different districts of Kurdistan including Erzurum, Van, Hakkari, Cizre, Imaddiya, Mosul, Shahrizor, Harir, Ardalan, Baghdad, Derne, Derteng, until Basra.[37]

In the 16th century, after prolonged wars, Kurdish-inhabited areas were split between the Safavid and Ottoman empires. A major division of Kurdistan occurred in the aftermath of the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514, and was formalized in the 1639 Treaty of Zuhab.[38] From then until the aftermath of World War I, Kurdish areas (including most of Mesopotamia, eastern Anatolia, and traditionally Kurdish northeastern Syria) were generally under Ottoman rule, apart from the century-long, intermittent Iranian occupation in the early modern to modern period, and the later reconquest and vast expansion by the Iranian military leader Nader Shah in the first half of the 18th century. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Allies contrived to split Kurdistan (as detailed in the ultimately unratified Treaty of Sèvres) among several countries, including Kurdistan, Armenia and others. However, the reconquest of these areas by the forces of Kemal Atatürk (and other pressing issues) caused the Allies to accept the renegotiated Treaty of Lausanne and the borders of the modern Republic of Turkey, leaving the Kurds without a self-ruled region. Other Kurdish areas were assigned to the new British and French mandated states of Iraq and Syria.

Kurdistan (shaded area) as suggested by the Treaty of Sèvres

At the San Francisco Peace Conference of 1945, the Kurdish delegation proposed consideration of territory claimed by the Kurds, which encompassed an area extending from the Mediterranean shores near Adana to the shores of the Persian Gulf near Bushehr, and included the Lur inhabited areas of southern Zagros.[39][40]

At the end of the First Gulf War, the Allies established a safe haven in northern Iraq. Amid the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from three northern provinces, Iraqi Kurdistan emerged in 1992 as an autonomous entity inside Iraq with its own local government and parliament.

A 2010 US report, written before the instability in Syria and Iraq that exists as of 2014, attested that “Kurdistan may exist by 2030”.[41] The weakening of the Iraqi state following the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has also presented an opportunity for independence for Iraqi Kurdistan,[42] augmented by Turkey’s move towards acceptance of such a state although it opposes moves toward Kurdish autonomy in Turkey and Syria.[43]

Turkey

The incorporation into Turkey of the Kurdish-inhabited regions of eastern Anatolia was opposed by many Kurds, and has resulted in a long-running separatist conflict in which thousands of lives have been lost. The region saw several major Kurdish rebellions, including the Koçgiri rebellion of 1920 under the Ottomans, then successive insurrection under the Turkish state – including the 1924 Sheikh Said rebellion, the Republic of Ararat in 1927, and the 1937 Dersim rebellion. All were forcefully put down by the authorities. The region was declared a closed military area from which foreigners were banned between 1925 and 1965.[44][45][46]

In an attempt to deny their existence, the Turkish government categorized Kurds as “Mountain Turks” until 1991.[47][48][49] The words “Kurds”, “Kurdistan”, or “Kurdish” were officially banned by the Turkish government.[50] Following the military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was officially prohibited in public and private life.[51] Many people who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested and imprisoned.[52] Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, political parties that represented Kurdish interests were banned.[50]

In 1983, the Kurdish provinces were placed under martial law in response to the activities of the militant separatist organization, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).[53][54] A guerrilla war took place through the 1980s and 1990s in which much of the countryside was evacuated, thousands of Kurdish-populated villages were destroyed, and numerous extrajudicial summary executions were carried out by both sides.[55] Many villages were reportedly set on fire or destroyed.[56][57] Food embargoes were placed on Kurdish populated villages and towns.[58][59] More than 20,000 Kurds were killed in the violence and hundreds of thousands more were forced to leave their homes.[60]

Turkey has historically feared that a Kurdish state in Northern Iraq would encourage and support Kurdish separatists in the adjacent Turkish provinces, and have therefore historically strongly opposed Kurdish independence in Iraq. However, following the chaos in Iraq after the US invasion, Turkey has increasingly worked with the de facto autonomous Kurds in Iraq.[61]

Syrian Civil War

Military situation on March 10, 2017:

  Controlled by Syrian Kurds
  Controlled by Iraqi Kurds
  Controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIL, ISIS, IS)

The successful 2014 Northern Iraq offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, with the resultant weakening of the ability of the Iraqi state to project power, also presented a “golden opportunity” for the Kurds to increase their independence and possibly declare an independent Kurdish state.[42] The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, who took more than 80 Turkish persons captive in Mosul during their offensive, is an enemy of Turkey, making Kurdistan useful for Turkey as a buffer state. On 28 June 2014 Hüseyin Çelik, a spokesman for the ruling AK party, made comments to the Financial Times indicating Turkey’s readiness to accept an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq.[43] Various sources have reported that Al-Nusra has issued a fatwā calling for Kurdish women and children in Syria to be killed,[62] and the fighting in Syria has led tens of thousands of refugees to flee to Iraq’s Kurdistan region.[63][64][65] As of 2015, Turkey is actively supporting the Al-Nusra.[66]

People

Main article: Kurds

The Kurds are a people of Indo-European origin. They speak an Iranian language known as Kurdish, and comprise the majority of the population of the region – however, included therein are Arab, Armenian, Assyrian/Aramean/Syriac,[67] Azerbaijani, Jewish, Ossetian, Persian, and Turkish communities. Most inhabitants are Muslim, but adherents to other religions are present as well – including Yarsanism, which is an ethnically Kurdish religion, Yazidis, Alevis, Christians,[68] and in the past, Jews most of whom immigrated to Israel.[69]

Geography

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, Kurdistan covers about 190,000 km², and its chief towns are Diyarbakır (Amed), Bitlis (Bedlîs) and Van (Wan) in Turkey, Erbil (Hewlêr) and Slemani in Iraq, and Kermanshah (Kirmanşan), Sanandaj (Sine), Ilam and Mahabad (Mehabad) in Iran.[70] According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Kurdistan covers around 190,000 km² in Turkey, 125,000 km² in Iran, 65,000 km² in Iraq, and 12,000 km² in Syria, with a total area of approximately 392,000 km².[71]

Historic map from 1721, showing borders of Curdistan provinces in Persia.

Iraqi Kurdistan is divided into six governorates, three of which (and parts of others) are under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Iranian Kurdistan encompasses Kurdistan Province and the greater parts of West Azerbaijan, Kermanshah, and Īlām provinces. Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdish: Rojavayê Kurdistanê) is located primarily in northern Syria, and covers the province of Al Hasakah and northern Raqqa Governorate, northern Aleppo Governorate and also Jabal al-Akrad (Mountain of the Kurds) region. The major cities in this region are Qamishli (Kurdish: Qamişlo) and Al Hasakah (Kurdish: Hasakah).

Turkish Kurdistan encompasses a large area of Eastern Anatolia Region and southeastern Anatolia of Turkey and it is home to an estimated 15 to 20 million Kurds.[72]

Subdivisions (Upper and Lower Kurdistan)

In A Dictionary of Scripture Geography (published 1846), John Miles describes Upper and Lower Kurdistan as following:

Modern Curdistan is of much greater extent than the ancient Assyria, and is composed of two parts the Upper and Lower. In the former is the province of Ardelan, the ancient Arropachatis, now nominally a part of Irak Ajami, and belonging to the north west division called Al Jobal. It contains five others namely, Betlis, the ancient Carduchia, lying to the south and south west of the lake Van. East and south east of Betlis is the principality of Julamerick, south west of it is the principality of Amadia. the fourth is Jeezera ul Omar, a city on an island in the Tigris, and corresponding to the ancient Bezabde. the fifth and largest is Kara Djiolan, with a capital of the same name. The pashalics of Kirkook and Solimania also comprise part of Upper Curdistan. Lower Curdistan comprises all the level tract to the east of the Tigris, and the minor ranges immediately bounding the plains and reaching thence to the foot of the great range, which may justly be denominated the Alps of western Asia.[73]

A typical Kurdish village in Hawraman, Kurdistan

The northern, northwestern and northeastern parts of Kurdistan are referred to as upper Kurdistan, and includes the areas from west of Amed to lake Urmia.

The lowlands of southern Kurdistan are called lower Kurdistan. The main cities in this area are Kirkuk and Arbil.

Climate

Much of the region is typified by an extreme continental climate – hot in the summer, bitterly cold in the winter. Despite this, much of the region is fertile and has historically exported grain and livestock. Precipitation varies between 200 and 400 mm a year in the plains, and between 700 and 3,000 mm a year on the high plateau between mountain chains.[71] The climate is dominated by mountains in the zone along the border with Iran and Turkey, with dry summers and cold, snowy winters or wet springs, while to the south, it progressively transitions towards semi-arid and desert zones. The northern mountainous regions along the border with Iran and Turkey receive heavy snowfall.

Forests

Kurdistan is one of the most mountainous regions in the world with a cold climate receiving annual precipitation adequate to sustain temperate forests and shrubs. Mountain chains harbor pastures and forested valleys, totaling approximately 16 million hectares (160,000 km²), including firs and countryside is mostly oaks, conifers, platanus, willow, poplar and olive.[71] Also the Mediterranean region known as west Kurdistan has olive trees. Kurdistan’s climatic conditions are due to the northern mountainous topography producing the steppe and forest vegetation in the area. The region north of the mountainous region on the border with Iran and Turkey features meadow grasses and such wild trees as poplar, willow and oak, hawthorn, Cherry plum, rose hips, mountain apple, pear, mountain ash, and olive. The desert in the south, by contrast, has such species as palm trees and date palm.

Mountains

Canyon in Rawanduz in northern Iraqi Kurdistan

Mountains are important geographical and symbolic features of Kurdish life, as evidenced by the saying “Kurds have no friends but the mountains.”[74] Mountains are regarded as sacred by the Kurds.[75] Included in the region are Mount Judi and Ararat (both prominent in Kurdish folklore), Zagros, Qandil, Shingal, Mount Abdulaziz, Kurd Mountains, Jabal al-Akrad, Shaho, Gabar, Hamrin, and Nisir.

Rivers

Zê river in Zebari region, Iraqi Kurdistan.

The plateaus and mountains of Kurdistan, which are characterized by heavy rain and snow fall, act as a water reservoir for the Near and Middle East, forming the source of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as well as other numerous smaller rivers, such as the Little Khabur, Khabur, Tharthar, Ceyhan, Araxes, Kura, Sefidrud, Karkha, and Hezil. Among rivers of historical importance to Kurds are the Murat (Arasān) and Buhtān rivers in Turkey; the Peshkhābur, the Little Zab, the Great Zab, and the Diyala in Iraq; and the Jaghatu (Zarrinarud), the Tātā’u (Siminarud), the Zohāb (Zahāb), and the Gāmāsiyāb in Iran.

These rivers, which flow from heights of three to four thousand meters above sea level, are significant both as water sources and for the production of energy. Iraq and Syria dammed many of these rivers and their tributaries, and Turkey has an extensive dam system under construction as part of the GAP (Southeast Anatolia Project); though incomplete, the GAP already supplies a significant proportion of Turkey’s electrical energy needs. Due to the extraordinary archaeological richness of the region, almost any dam impacts historic sites.[76]

Lakes

The city of Piranshahr, center of Mokrian district, northwestern Iran

Kurdistan extends to Lake Urmia in Iran on the east. The region includes Lake Van, the largest body of water in Turkey; the only lake in the Middle East with a larger surface is Lake Urmia – though not nearly as deep as Lake Van, which has a much larger volume. Urmia, Van, as well as Zarivar Lake west of Marivan, and Lake Dukan near the city of Sulaymaniyah, are frequented by tourists.[76]

The city of Batman, eastern Turkey

Petroleum and mineral resources

KRG-controlled parts of Iraqi Kurdistan are estimated to contain around 45 billion barrels (7.2×109 m3) of oil, making it the sixth largest reserve in the world. Extraction of these reserves began in 2007.

Al-Hasakah province, also known as Jazira region, has geopolitical importance of oil and is suitable for agricultural lands.

In November 2011, Exxon challenged the Iraqi central government’s authority with the signing of oil and gas contracts for exploration rights to six parcels of land in Kurdistan, including one contract in the disputed territories, just east of the Kirkuk mega-field.[77] This act caused Baghdad to threaten to revoke Exxon’s contract in its southern fields, most notably the West-Qurna Phase 1 project.[78] Exxon responded by announcing its intention to leave the West-Qurna project.[79]

As of July 2007, the Kurdish government solicited foreign companies to invest in 40 new oil sites, with the hope of increasing regional oil production over the following 5 years by a factor of five, to about 1 million barrels per day (160,000 m3/d).[80] Gas and associated gas reserves are in excess of 2,800 km3 (100×1012 cu ft). Notable companies active in Kurdistan include Exxon, Total, Chevron, Talisman Energy, Genel Energy, Hunt Oil, Gulf Keystone Petroleum, and Marathon Oil.[81]

Other mineral resources that exist in significant quantities in the region include coal, copper, gold, iron, limestone (which is used to produce cement), marble, and zinc. The world’s largest deposit of rock sulfur is located just southwest of Erbil (Hewlêr).[82]

In July 2012, Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government signed an agreement by which Turkey will supply the KRG with refined petroleum products in exchange for crude oil. Crude deliveries are expected to occur on a regular basis.[83]

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurdistan

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By Valerie Volcovici and Jeff Mason | WASHINGTON

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday to undo a slew of Obama-era climate change regulations that his administration says is hobbling oil drillers and coal miners, a move environmental groups have vowed to take to court.

The decree’s main target is former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan that required states to slash carbon emissions from power plants – a critical element in helping the United States meet its commitments to a global climate change accord reached by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015.

The so-called “Energy Independence” order also reverses a ban on coal leasing on federal lands, undoes rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas production, and reduces the weight of climate change and carbon emissions in policy and infrastructure permitting decisions.

“I am taking historic steps to lift restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump said at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters, speaking on a stage lined with coal miners.

The wide-ranging order is the boldest yet in Trump’s broader push to cut environmental regulation to revive the drilling and mining industries, a promise he made repeatedly during the presidential campaign. But energy analysts and executives have questioned whether the moves will have a big effect on their industries, and environmentalists have called them reckless.

“I cannot tell you how many jobs the executive order is going to create but I can tell you that it provides confidence in this administration’s commitment to the coal industry,” Kentucky Coal Association president Tyler White told Reuters.

Trump signed the order with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Vice President Mike Pence by his side.

U.S. presidents have aimed to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil since the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, which triggered soaring prices. But the United States still imports about 7.9 million barrels of crude oil a day, almost enough meet total oil demand in Japan and India combined.

U.S. President Donald Trump holds up an executive order on ‘energy independence,’ eliminating Obama-era climate change regulations, during a signing ceremony at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington, U.S., March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

While Trump’s administration has said reducing environmental regulation will create jobs, some green groups have countered that rules supporting clean energy have done the same.

The number of jobs in the U.S. wind power industry rose 32 percent last year while solar power jobs rose by 25 percent, according to a Department of Energy study.

‘ASSAULT ON AMERICAN VALUES’

Environmental groups hurled scorn on Trump’s order, arguing it is dangerous and goes against the broader global trend toward cleaner energy technologies.

“These actions are an assault on American values and they endanger the health, safety and prosperity of every American,” said billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, the head of activist group NextGen Climate.

Green group Earthjustice was one of many organizations that said it will fight the order both in and out of court. “This order ignores the law and scientific reality,” said its president, Trip Van Noppen.

An overwhelming majority of scientists believe that human use of oil and coal for energy is a main driver of climate change, causing a damaging rise in sea levels, droughts, and more frequent violent storms.

But Trump and several members of his administration have doubts about climate change, and Trump promised during his campaign to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, arguing it would hurt U.S. business.

Since being elected Trump has been mum on the Paris deal and the executive order does not address it.

Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change who helped broker the Paris accord, lamented Trump’s order.

“Trying to make fossil fuels remain competitive in the face of a booming clean renewable power sector, with the clean air and plentiful jobs it continues to generate, is going against the flow of economics,” she said.

The order will direct the EPA to start a formal “review” process to undo the Clean Power Plan, which was introduced by Obama in 2014 but was never implemented in part because of legal challenges brought by Republican-controlled states.

The Clean Power Plan required states to collectively cut carbon emissions from power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Some 85 percent of U.S. states are on track to meet the targets despite the fact the rule has not been implemented, according to Bill Becker, director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, a group of state and local air pollution control agencies.

Trump’s order also lifts the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management’s temporary ban on coal leasing on federal property put in place by Obama in 2016 as part of a review to study the program’s impact on climate change and ensure royalty revenues were fair to taxpayers.

It also asks federal agencies to discount the cost of carbon in policy decisions and the weight of climate change considerations in infrastructure permitting, and reverses rules limiting methane leakage from oil and gas facilities.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-energy-idUSKBN16Z1L6

 Story 2: Repeal and Replacement Bill Will Back Shortly — Videos

Shep Smith goes off on Trump’s incompetent health care strategy on Monday– March 27, 2017.

WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders and the White House, under extreme pressure from conservative activists, have restarted negotiations on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, with House leaders declaring that Democrats were celebrating the law’s survival prematurely.

Just days after President Trump said he was moving on to other issues, senior White House officials are now saying they have hope that they can still score the kind of big legislative victory that has so far eluded Mr. Trump. Vice President Mike Pence was dispatched to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for lunchtime talks.

“We’re not going to retrench into our corners or put up dividing lines,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said after a meeting of House Republicans that was dominated by a discussion of how to restart the health negotiations. “There’s too much at stake to get bogged down in all of that.”

The House Republican whip, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, said of Democrats, “Their celebration is premature. We are closer to repealing Obamacare than we ever have been before.”

It is not clear what political dynamics might have changed since Friday, when a coalition of hard-line conservatives and more moderate Republicans torpedoed legislation to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. The replacement bill would still leave 24 million more Americans without insurance after a decade, a major worry for moderate Republicans. It would also leave in place regulations on the health insurance industry that conservatives find anathema.

Mr. Ryan declined to say what might be in the next version of the Republicans’ repeal bill, nor would he sketch any schedule for action. But he said Congress needed to act because insurers were developing the premiums and benefit packages for health plans they would offer in 2018, with review by federal and state officials beginning soon.

The new talks, which have been going on quietly this week, involve Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, and members of the two Republican factions that helped sink the bill last week, the hard-right Freedom Caucus and the more centrist Tuesday Group.

Any deal would require overcoming significant differences about how to rework a law that covers about one-fifth of the American economy, differences that were so sharp they led Mr. Trump and Mr. Ryan to pull the bill from consideration just as the House was scheduled to vote on Friday.

Still, Republican members of Congress said they hoped that revisiting the issue would lead this time to a solution and a vote in the House.

“I think everyone wants to get to yes and support President Trump,” said Representative Dave Brat, Republican of Virginia and a Freedom Caucus member. “There is a package in there that is a win-win.”

Representative Raúl Labrador of Idaho, another Freedom Caucus member, said he hoped the discussions would yield a compromise that brings the party together after a divisive debate that revealed deep fissures. “I think we will have a better, stronger product that will unify the conference,” Mr. Labrador said.

Mr. Trump has sent mixed signals in recent days, at times blaming the Freedom Caucus, outside groups and even, it appeared, Mr. Ryan. On Monday, for instance, he said in a late-night Twitter post that the Freedom Caucus was able to “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory” over the health care repeal. “After so many bad years they were ready for a win!”

But then he suggested that he could also cut a deal with Democrats, a move that would almost certainly make more conservative members of the House balk. “Don’t worry,” he tweeted later Monday night, “we are in very good shape!”

Mr. Ryan said House Republicans were determined to use the next version of the repeal bill, like the first version, as a vehicle to cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood clinics.

Asked if he saw any signs that members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus might be willing to compromise, he said: “I don’t want us to become a factionalized majority. I want us to become a unified majority, and that means we’re going to sit down and talk things out until we get there, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

“We saw good overtures from those members from different parts of our conference to get there because we all share these goals, and we’re just going to have to figure out how to get it done,” Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Scalise said that “we’re going to keep working” because “this issue isn’t going away,” and he added: “Obamacare continues to fail the American people. You’re going to continue to see double-digit increases in premiums because Obamacare doesn’t work.”

Democrats took formal steps to get involved in what they called improving the Affordable Care Act. Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, sent a letter to House Democrats calling for suggestions in ways to make the health law work better. “We can then discuss these suggestions in our caucus and be prepared at the earliest possible time to go forward,” she said.

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The Pronk Pops Show 850, March 2, 2017, Part 2 — Story 1: President Trump’s Awesome Address To Congress — Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Deficit — $500-$600 Billion! — More Debt — FairTax Now! Videos

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Story 1: President Trump’s Awesome Address To Congress —  Videos

Image result for President Trump addresses congressImage result for The Widow Of William “Ryan” Owens During His Speech To Congress.Image result for The Widow Of William “Ryan” Owens During His Speech To Congress.Image result for The Widow Of William “Ryan” Owens During His Speech To Congress.Image result for The Widow Of William “Ryan” Owens During His Speech To Congress.Image result for The Widow Of William “Ryan” Owens During His Speech To Congress.Image result for The Widow Of William “Ryan” Owens During His Speech To Congress.Image result for trump's Speech To Congress.Image result for trump's Speech To Congress.
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President Donald Trump Speech to Joint Session Of Congress 2/28/2017

FULL SPEECH: President Donald Trump Speech to Joint Session Of Congress 2/28/2017 Trump Live Speech

This is an address before a joint session of the United States Congress similar to a State of the Union address that may be given on February 28, 2017 by Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States. It will be delivered before the 115th United States Congress in the Chamber of the United States House of Representatives. It will be President Trump’s first speech addressed to Congress

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Read the Full Text of Donald Trump’s Speech to Congress

PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP’S ADDRESS TO A JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS

Remarks as prepared for delivery TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and Citizens of America: Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our Nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that still remains. Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.

Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice –- in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present.

That torch is now in our hands. And we will use it to light up the world. I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.

A new chapter of American Greatness is now beginning.

A new national pride is sweeping across our Nation.

And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.

What we are witnessing today is the Renewal of the American Spirit.

Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.

All the nations of the world — friend or foe — will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free.

In 9 years, the United States will celebrate the 250th anniversary of our founding — 250 years since the day we declared our Independence.

It will be one of the great milestones in the history of the world.

But what will America look like as we reach our 250th year? What kind of country will we leave for our children?

I will not allow the mistakes of recent decades past to define the course of our future.

For too long, we’ve watched our middle class shrink as we’ve exported our jobs and wealth to foreign countries.

We’ve financed and built one global project after another, but ignored the fates of our children in the inner cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit — and so many other places throughout our land.

We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross — and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate.

And we’ve spent trillions of dollars overseas, while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled.

Then, in 2016, the earth shifted beneath our feet. The rebellion started as a quiet protest, spoken by families of all colors and creeds -– families who just wanted a fair shot for their children, and a fair hearing for their concerns.

But then the quiet voices became a loud chorus — as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country.

Finally, the chorus became an earthquake – and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand, that America must put its own citizens first … because only then, can we truly MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

Dying industries will come roaring back to life. Heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need.

Our military will be given the resources its brave warriors so richly deserve.

Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our beautiful land.

Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and ultimately, stop.

And our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety, and opportunity.

Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people.

It’s been a little over a month since my inauguration, and I want to take this moment to update the Nation on the progress I’ve made in keeping those promises.

Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart, and many others, have announced that they will invest billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs.

The stock market has gained almost three trillion dollars in value since the election on November 8th, a record. We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of the fantastic new F-35 jet fighter, and will be saving billions more dollars on contracts all across our Government. We have placed a hiring freeze on non-military and non-essential Federal workers.

We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a 5 year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials –- and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government.

We have undertaken a historic effort to massively reduce job‑crushing regulations, creating a deregulation task force inside of every Government agency; imposing a new rule which mandates that for every 1 new regulation, 2 old regulations must be eliminated; and stopping a regulation that threatens the future and livelihoods of our great coal miners.

We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs — and I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.

We have withdrawn the United States from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership.

With the help of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we have formed a Council with our neighbors in Canada to help ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the networks, markets and capital they need to start a business and live out their financial dreams.

To protect our citizens, I have directed the Department of Justice to form a Task Force on Reducing Violent Crime.

I have further ordered the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, along with the Department of State and the Director of National Intelligence, to coordinate an aggressive strategy to dismantle the criminal cartels that have spread across our Nation.

We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth — and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted.

At the same time, my Administration has answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security. By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone. We want all Americans to succeed –- but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos. We must restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders.

For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border. It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime.

As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak tonight and as I have promised.

To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this question: what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?

Our obligation is to serve, protect, and defend the citizens of the United States. We are also taking strong measures to protect our Nation from Radical Islamic Terrorism.

According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country. We have seen the attacks at home -– from Boston to San Bernardino to the Pentagon and yes, even the World Trade Center.

We have seen the attacks in France, in Belgium, in Germany and all over the world.

It is not compassionate, but reckless, to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur. Those given the high honor of admission to the United States should support this country and love its people and its values.

We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America — we cannot allow our Nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.

That is why my Administration has been working on improved vetting procedures, and we will shortly take new steps to keep our Nation safe — and to keep out those who would do us harm.

As promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS — a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, women, and children of all faiths and beliefs. We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.

I have also imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program, and reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel.

Finally, I have kept my promise to appoint a Justice to the United States Supreme Court — from my list of 20 judges — who will defend our Constitution. I am honored to have Maureen Scalia with us in the gallery tonight. Her late, great husband, Antonin Scalia, will forever be a symbol of American justice. To fill his seat, we have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill, and deep devotion to the law. He was confirmed unanimously to the Court of Appeals, and I am asking the Senate to swiftly approve his nomination.

Tonight, as I outline the next steps we must take as a country, we must honestly acknowledge the circumstances we inherited.

Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.

Over 43 million people are now living in poverty, and over 43 million Americans are on food stamps.

More than 1 in 5 people in their prime working years are not working.

We have the worst financial recovery in 65 years.

In the last 8 years, the past Administration has put on more new debt than nearly all other Presidents combined.

We’ve lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was approved, and we’ve lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Our trade deficit in goods with the world last year was nearly $800 billion dollars.

And overseas, we have inherited a series of tragic foreign policy disasters.

Solving these, and so many other pressing problems, will require us to work past the differences of party. It will require us to tap into the American spirit that has overcome every challenge throughout our long and storied history.

But to accomplish our goals at home and abroad, we must restart the engine of the American economy — making it easier for companies to do business in the United States, and much harder for companies to leave.

Right now, American companies are taxed at one of the highest rates anywhere in the world.

My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone. At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.

We must create a level playing field for American companies and workers.

Currently, when we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes — but when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them almost nothing.

I just met with officials and workers from a great American company, Harley-Davidson. In fact, they proudly displayed five of their magnificent motorcycles, made in the USA, on the front lawn of the White House.

At our meeting, I asked them, how are you doing, how is business? They said that it’s good. I asked them further how they are doing with other countries, mainly international sales. They told me — without even complaining because they have been mistreated for so long that they have become used to it — that it is very hard to do business with other countries because they tax our goods at such a high rate. They said that in one case another country taxed their motorcycles at 100 percent.

They weren’t even asking for change. But I am.

I believe strongly in free trade but it also has to be FAIR TRADE.

The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that the “abandonment of the protective policy by the American Government [will] produce want and ruin among our people.”

Lincoln was right — and it is time we heeded his words. I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers, be taken advantage of anymore.

I am going to bring back millions of jobs. Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration. The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers.

Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others –- have a merit-based immigration system. It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially. Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon. According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.

Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, will have many benefits: it will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families –- including immigrant families –- enter the middle class. I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws. If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades.

Another Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, initiated the last truly great national infrastructure program –- the building of the interstate highway system. The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding.

America has spent approximately six trillion dollars in the Middle East, all this while our infrastructure at home is crumbling. With this six trillion dollars we could have rebuilt our country –- twice. And maybe even three times if we had people who had the ability to negotiate.

To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital –- creating millions of new jobs.

This effort will be guided by two core principles: Buy American, and Hire American.

Tonight, I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better Healthcare.

Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America. The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we will do.

Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits. As an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone. Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky just said Obamacare is failing in his State — it is unsustainable and collapsing.

One third of counties have only one insurer on the exchanges –- leaving many Americans with no choice at all.

Remember when you were told that you could keep your doctor, and keep your plan?

We now know that all of those promises have been broken.

Obamacare is collapsing –- and we must act decisively to protect all Americans. Action is not a choice –- it is a necessity.

So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in the Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.

Here are the principles that should guide the Congress as we move to create a better healthcare system for all Americans:

First, we should ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage, and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the healthcare exchanges.

Secondly, we should help Americans purchase their own coverage, through the use of tax credits and expanded Health Savings Accounts –- but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by the Government.

Thirdly, we should give our great State Governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out.

Fourthly, we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance – and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs and bring them down immediately.

Finally, the time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across State lines –- creating a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring cost way down and provide far better care.

Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing, and hope.

Our citizens deserve this, and so much more –- so why not join forces to finally get it done? On this and so many other things, Democrats and Republicans should get together and unite for the good of our country, and for the good of the American people.

My administration wants to work with members in both parties to make childcare accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents have paid family leave, to invest in women’s health, and to promote clean air and clear water, and to rebuild our military and our infrastructure.

True love for our people requires us to find common ground, to advance the common good, and to cooperate on behalf of every American child who deserves a brighter future.

An incredible young woman is with us this evening who should serve as an inspiration to us all.

Today is Rare Disease day, and joining us in the gallery is a Rare Disease Survivor, Megan Crowley. Megan was diagnosed with Pompe Disease, a rare and serious illness, when she was 15 months old. She was not expected to live past 5.

On receiving this news, Megan’s dad, John, fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious child. He founded a company to look for a cure, and helped develop the drug that saved Megan’s life. Today she is 20 years old — and a sophomore at Notre Dame.

Megan’s story is about the unbounded power of a father’s love for a daughter.

But our slow and burdensome approval process at the Food and Drug Administration keeps too many advances, like the one that saved Megan’s life, from reaching those in need.

If we slash the restraints, not just at the FDA but across our Government, then we will be blessed with far more miracles like Megan.

In fact, our children will grow up in a Nation of miracles.

But to achieve this future, we must enrich the mind –- and the souls –- of every American child.

Education is the civil rights issue of our time.

I am calling upon Members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children. These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.

Joining us tonight in the gallery is a remarkable woman, Denisha Merriweather. As a young girl, Denisha struggled in school and failed third grade twice. But then she was able to enroll in a private center for learning, with the help of a tax credit scholarship program. Today, she is the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college. Later this year she will get her masters degree in social work.

We want all children to be able to break the cycle of poverty just like Denisha.

But to break the cycle of poverty, we must also break the cycle of violence.

The murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century.

In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone –- and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher.

This is not acceptable in our society.

Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job.

But to create this future, we must work with –- not against -– the men and women of law enforcement.

We must build bridges of cooperation and trust –- not drive the wedge of disunity and division.

Police and sheriffs are members of our community. They are friends and neighbors, they are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – and they leave behind loved ones every day who worry whether or not they’ll come home safe and sound.

We must support the incredible men and women of law enforcement.

And we must support the victims of crime.

I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American Victims. The office is called VOICE –- Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement. We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.

Joining us in the audience tonight are four very brave Americans whose government failed them.

Their names are Jamiel Shaw, Susan Oliver, Jenna Oliver, and Jessica Davis.

Jamiel’s 17-year-old son was viciously murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member, who had just been released from prison. Jamiel Shaw Jr. was an incredible young man, with unlimited potential who was getting ready to go to college where he would have excelled as a great quarterback. But he never got the chance. His father, who is in the audience tonight, has become a good friend of mine.

Also with us are Susan Oliver and Jessica Davis. Their husbands –- Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver and Detective Michael Davis –- were slain in the line of duty in California. They were pillars of their community. These brave men were viciously gunned down by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record and two prior deportations.

Sitting with Susan is her daughter, Jenna. Jenna: I want you to know that your father was a hero, and that tonight you have the love of an entire country supporting you and praying for you.

To Jamiel, Jenna, Susan and Jessica: I want you to know –- we will never stop fighting for justice. Your loved ones will never be forgotten, we will always honor their memory.

Finally, to keep America Safe we must provide the men and women of the United States military with the tools they need to prevent war and –- if they must –- to fight and to win.

I am sending the Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the Defense sequester, and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.

My budget will also increase funding for our veterans.

Our veterans have delivered for this Nation –- and now we must deliver for them.

The challenges we face as a Nation are great. But our people are even greater.

And none are greater or braver than those who fight for America in uniform.

We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens. Ryan died as he lived: a warrior, and a hero –- battling against terrorism and securing our Nation.

I just spoke to General Mattis, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, “Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.” Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity. For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom –- we will never forget him.

To those allies who wonder what kind of friend America will be, look no further than the heroes who wear our uniform.

Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world. It is American leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies across the globe.

We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two World Wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War that defeated communism.

But our partners must meet their financial obligations.

And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that.

We expect our partners, whether in NATO, in the Middle East, or the Pacific –- to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and pay their fair share of the cost.

We will respect historic institutions, but we will also respect the sovereign rights of nations.

Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people –- and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America. But we know that America is better off, when there is less conflict — not more.

We must learn from the mistakes of the past –- we have seen the war and destruction that have raged across our world.

The only long-term solution for these humanitarian disasters is to create the conditions where displaced persons can safely return home and begin the long process of rebuilding.

America is willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align. We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict.

We want peace, wherever peace can be found. America is friends today with former enemies. Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these World Wars. This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world.

Hopefully, the 250th year for America will see a world that is more peaceful, more just and more free.

On our 100th anniversary, in 1876, citizens from across our Nation came to Philadelphia to celebrate America’s centennial. At that celebration, the country’s builders and artists and inventors showed off their creations.

Alexander Graham Bell displayed his telephone for the first time.

Remington unveiled the first typewriter. An early attempt was made at electric light.

Thomas Edison showed an automatic telegraph and an electric pen.

Imagine the wonders our country could know in America’s 250th year.

Think of the marvels we can achieve if we simply set free the dreams of our people.

Cures to illnesses that have always plagued us are not too much to hope.

American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream.

Millions lifted from welfare to work is not too much to expect.

And streets where mothers are safe from fear — schools where children learn in peace — and jobs where Americans prosper and grow — are not too much to ask.

When we have all of this, we will have made America greater than ever before. For all Americans.

This is our vision. This is our mission.

But we can only get there together.

We are one people, with one destiny.

We all bleed the same blood.

We all salute the same flag.

And we are all made by the same God.

And when we fulfill this vision; when we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began.

The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us.

We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.

The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls.

And the confidence to turn those hopes and dreams to action.

From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears –-

inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past –-

and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts.

I am asking all citizens to embrace this Renewal of the American Spirit. I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country. And I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment and —

Believe in yourselves.

Believe in your future.

And believe, once more, in America.

Thank you, God bless you, and God Bless these United States.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/02/read-full-text-donald-trumps-speech-congress

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The Pronk Pops Show 839, February 15, 2017, Story 1: Time To Stop Leaking by Government Employees By Setting A Example That Nobody Is Above The Law — Appoint A Special Prosecutor For The Many National Security and Public Corruption Crimes of Hillary Clinton and Staff — Trump Supporters Waiting For President Trump To Keep His Promise — Videos — Story 2: Eli Lake on The Political Assassination of NSA Mike Flynn and FBI Questioned Former National Security Advisory Mike Flynn — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Likes Whatever Israel and Palestine Want Regarding a Two State Solution

Posted on February 15, 2017. Filed under: American History, Benghazi, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Budgetary Policy, Coal, Coal, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Disasters, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Empires, Energy, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Fourth Amendment, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Spending, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, Homicide, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Impeachment, Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic State, Israel, Labor Economics, Language, Law, Life, Lying, Media, Monetary Policy, National Security Agency, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, News, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Obama, Oil, Oil, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Presidential Appointments, Prime Minister, Progressives, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Resources, Rule of Law, Scandals, Security, Senate, Senator Jeff Sessions, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 839: February 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 838: February 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 837: February 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 836: February 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 835: February 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 834: February 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 833: February 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 832: February 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 831: February 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 830: February 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 829: February 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 828: January 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 827: January 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 826: January 27, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 825: January 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 824: January 25, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 823: January 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 822: January 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 821: January 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 820: January 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 819: January 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 818: January 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 817: January 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 816: January 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 815: January 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 814: January 10,  2017

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Pronk Pops Show 812: December 12, 2016

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Pronk Pops Show 810: December 8, 2016

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Pronk Pops Show 805: December 1, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 804: November 30, 2016

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Pronk Pops Show 802: November 28, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 801: November 22, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 800: November 21, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 799: November 18, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 798: November 17, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 797: November 16, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 796: November 15, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 795: November 14, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 794: November 10, 2016

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Pronk Pops Show 791: November 7, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 790: November 4, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 789: November 3, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 788: November 2, 2016

 

Story 1: Time To Stop Leaking by Government Employees By Setting An Example That Nobody Is Above The Law — Appoint A Special Prosecutor For The Many National Security and Public Corruption Crimes of Hillary Clinton and Other Government Employees — Videos —

Trump vows to get special prosecutor to investigate Clinton

Donald Trump “You have a Point” to Crowd Chanting Hillary Clinton “Lock Her Up” (8-13-16)

Trump Decides He Won’t Pursue Criminal E-mail Investigation Case Against Clinton

Clinton’s Pay to Play State Department Not a Partisan Issue – It is a Criminal One

Donald Trump: Hillary Clinton has a lot to hide (CNN interview with Anderson Cooper)

Anonymous – Bill & Hillary Clinton: The Untold Story “Clinton Cash” Full Documentary

Anonymous – Hillary Clinton: The Hillary Files Full Documentary

 

Story 2:  Eli Lake on The Political Assassination of NSA Mike Flynn and FBI Questioned Former National Security Advisory Mike Flynn — Videos —

Trump Blasts Leaks, ‘Unfair’ Treatment of Flynn 

Was Michael Flynn Politically Assassinated?

Columnist: Flynn’s ouster will embolden Trump’s opponents

Hannity: The DC swamp is rising to take down Trump | Breaking News Today

The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn

FEB 14, 2017 10:09 AM EST

By Eli Lake

If we are to believe the Trump White House, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn just resigned because he lied about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the vice president. As White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway told NBC’s “Today Show” on Tuesday: “Misleading the vice president really was the key here.”

That sounds about as credible as when the president told CIA employees that the media had invented the story about his enmity toward the spy agency, not even two weeks after he had taken to Twitter to compare the CIA to Nazis. It’s about as credible as President Donald Trump’s insistence that it didn’t rain during his inauguration. Or that millions of people had voted illegally in the election he just won.

The point here is that for a White House that has such a casual and opportunistic relationship with the truth, it’s strange that Flynn’s “lie” to Pence would get him fired. It doesn’t add up.

It’s not even clear that Flynn lied. He says in his resignation letter that he did not deliberately leave out elements of his conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak when he recounted them to Vice President Mike Pence. The New York Times and Washington Post reported that the transcript of the phone call reviewed over the weekend by the White House could be read different ways. One White House official with knowledge of the conversations told me that the Russian ambassador raised the sanctions to Flynn and that Flynn responded that the Trump team would be taking office in a few weeks and would review Russia policy and sanctions. That’s neither illegal nor improper.

What’s more, the Washington Post reported Monday night that last month Sally Yates, then the acting attorney general, had informed the White House that Flynn discussed sanctions with Kislyak and that he could be susceptible to blackmail because he misled Pence about it. If it was the lie to Pence that sunk Flynn, why was he not fired at the end of January?

A better explanation here is that Flynn was just thrown under the bus. His tenure as national security adviser, the briefest in U.S. history, was rocky from the start. When Flynn was attacked in the media for his ties to Russia, he was not allowed by the White House to defend himself. Over the weekend, he was instructed not to speak to the press when he was in the fight for his political life. His staff was not even allowed to review the transcripts of his call to the Russian ambassador.

There is another component to this story as well — as Trump himself just tweeted. It’s very rare that reporters are ever told about government-monitored communications of U.S. citizens, let alone senior U.S. officials. The last story like this to hit Washington was in 2009 when Jeff Stein, then of CQ, reported on intercepted phone calls between a senior Aipac lobbyist and Jane Harman, who at the time was a Democratic member of Congress.

Normally intercepts of U.S. officials and citizens are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do.

In the past it was considered scandalous for senior U.S. officials to even request the identities of U.S. officials incidentally monitored by the government (normally they are redacted from intelligence reports). John Bolton’s nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was derailed in 2006 after the NSA confirmed he had made 10 such requests when he was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control in George W. Bush’s first term. The fact that the intercepts of Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak appear to have been widely distributed inside the government is a red flag.

Representative Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told me Monday that he saw the leaks about Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak as part of a pattern. “There does appear to be a well orchestrated effort to attack Flynn and others in the administration,” he said. “From the leaking of phone calls between the president and foreign leaders to what appears to be high-level FISA Court information, to the leaking of American citizens being denied security clearances, it looks like a pattern.”

Nunes said he was going to bring this up with the FBI, and ask the agency to investigate the leak and find out whether Flynn himself is a target of a law enforcement investigation. The Washington Post reported last month that Flynn was not the target of an FBI probe.

The background here is important. Three people once affiliated with Trump’s presidential campaign — Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone — are being investigated by the FBI and the intelligence community for their contacts with the Russian government. This is part of a wider inquiry into Russia’s role in hacking and distributing emails of leading Democrats before the election.

Flynn himself traveled in 2015 to Russia to attend a conference put on by the country’s propaganda network, RT. He has acknowledged he was paid through his speaker’s bureau for his appearance. That doesn’t look good, but it’s also not illegal in and of itself. All of this is to say there are many unanswered questions about Trump’s and his administration’s ties to Russia.

But that’s all these allegations are at this point: unanswered questions. It’s possible that Flynn has more ties to Russia that he had kept from the public and his colleagues. It’s also possible that a group of national security bureaucrats and former Obama officials are selectively leaking highly sensitive law enforcement information to undermine the elected government.

Flynn was a fat target for the national security state. He has cultivated a reputation as a reformer and a fierce critic of the intelligence community leaders he once served with when he was the director the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama. Flynn was working to reform the intelligence-industrial complex, something that threatened the bureaucratic prerogatives of his rivals.

He was also a fat target for Democrats. Remember Flynn’s breakout national moment last summer was when he joined the crowd at the Republican National Convention from the dais calling for Hillary Clinton to be jailed.

In normal times, the idea that U.S. officials entrusted with our most sensitive secrets would selectively disclose them to undermine the White House would alarm those worried about creeping authoritarianism. Imagine if intercepts of a call between Obama’s incoming national security adviser and Iran’s foreign minister leaked to the press before the nuclear negotiations began? The howls of indignation would be deafening.

In the end, it was Trump’s decision to cut Flynn loose. In doing this he caved in to his political and bureaucratic opposition. Nunes told me Monday night that this will not end well. “First it’s Flynn, next it will be Kellyanne Conway, then it will be Steve Bannon, then it will be Reince Priebus,” he said. Put another way, Flynn is only the appetizer. Trump is the entree.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-02-14/the-political-assassination-of-michael-flynn

Former Obama Officials, Loyalists Waged Secret Campaign to Oust Flynn

Sources: Former Obama officials, loyalists planted series of stories to discredit Flynn, bolster Iran deal

Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn / AP

BY: Adam Kredo
February 14, 2017 3:26 pm

The abrupt resignation Monday evening of White House national security adviser Michael Flynn is the culmination of a secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump’s national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who described to the Washington Free Beacon a behind-the-scenes effort by these officials to plant a series of damaging stories about Flynn in the national media.

The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn’s credibility, multiple sources revealed.

The operation primarily focused on discrediting Flynn, an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, in order to handicap the Trump administration’s efforts to disclose secret details of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been long hidden by the Obama administration.

Insiders familiar with the anti-Flynn campaign told the Free Beacon that these Obama loyalists plotted in the months before Trump’s inauguration to establish a set of roadblocks before Trump’s national security team, which includes several prominent opponents of diplomacy with Iran. The Free Beacon first reported on this effort in January.

Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon requested anonymity in order to speak freely about the situation and avoid interfering with the White House’s official narrative about Flynn, which centers on his failure to adequately inform the president about a series of phone calls with Russian officials.

Flynn took credit for his missteps regarding these phone calls in a brief statement released late Monday evening. Trump administration officials subsequently stated that Flynn’s efforts to mislead the president and vice president about his contacts with Russia could not be tolerated.

However, multiple sources closely involved in the situation pointed to a larger, more secretive campaign aimed at discrediting Flynn and undermining the Trump White House.

“It’s undeniable that the campaign to discredit Flynn was well underway before Inauguration Day, with a very troublesome and politicized series of leaks designed to undermine him,” said one veteran national security adviser with close ties to the White House team. “This pattern reminds me of the lead up to the Iran deal, and probably features the same cast of characters.”

The Free Beacon first reported in January that, until its final days in office, the Obama administration hosted several pro-Iran voices who were critical in helping to mislead the American public about the terms of the nuclear agreement. This included a former Iranian government official and the head of the National Iranian American Council, or NIAC, which has been accused of serving as Iran’s mouthpiece in Washington, D.C.

Since then, top members of the Obama administration’s national security team have launched a communications infrastructure after they left the White House, and have told reporters they are using that infrastructure to undermine Trump’s foreign policy.

“It’s actually Ben Rhodes, NIAC, and the Iranian mullahs who are celebrating today,” said one veteran foreign policy insider who is close to Flynn and the White House. “They know that the number one target is Iran … [and] they all knew their little sacred agreement with Iran was going to go off the books. So they got rid of Flynn before any of the [secret] agreements even surfaced.”

Flynn had been preparing to publicize many of the details about the nuclear deal that had been intentionally hidden by the Obama administration as part of its effort to garner support for the deal, these sources said.

Flynn is now “gone before anybody can see what happened” with these secret agreements, said the second insider close to Flynn and the White House.

Sources in and out of the White House are concerned that the campaign against Flynn will be extended to other prominent figures in the Trump administration.

One senior White House official told the Free Beacon that leaks targeting the former official were “not the result of a series of random events.”

“The drumbeat of leaks of sensitive material related to General Flynn has been building since he was named to his position,” said the official, who is a member of the White House’s National Security Council. “Last night was not the result of a series of random events. The president has lost a valuable adviser and we need to make sure this sort of thing does not happen again.”

Other sources expressed concern that public trust in the intelligence community would be eroded by the actions of employees with anti-Trump agendas.

“The larger issue that should trouble the American people is the far-reaching power of unknown, unelected apparatchiks in the Intelligence Community deciding for themselves both who serves in government and what is an acceptable policy they will allow the elected representatives of the people to pursue,” said the national security adviser quoted above.

“Put aside the issue of Flynn himself; that nameless, faceless bureaucrats were able to take out a president’s national security adviser based on a campaign of innuendo without evidence should worry every American,” the source explained.

Eli Lake, a Bloomberg View columnist and veteran national security reporter well sourced in the White House, told the Free Beacon that Flynn earned a reputation in the Obama administration as one of its top detractors.

“Michael Flynn was one of the Obama administration’s fiercest critics after he was forced out of the Defense Intelligence Agency,” said Lake, who described “the political assassination of Michael Flynn” in his column published early Tuesday.

“[Flynn] was a withering critic of Obama’s biggest foreign policy initiative, the Iran deal,” Lake said. “He also publicly accused the administration of keeping classified documents found in the Osama bin Laden raid that showed Iran’s close relationship with al Qaeda. He was a thorn in their side.”

Lake noted in his column that he does not buy fully the White House’s official spin on Flynn’s resignation.

“For a White House that has such a casual and opportunistic relationship with the truth, it’s strange that Flynn’s ‘lie’ to Pence would get him fired,” Lake wrote. “It doesn’t add up.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated in his daily briefing that “the evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation and a series of other questionable incidents is what led the president to ask General Flynn for his resignation.”

A third source who serves as a congressional adviser and was involved in the 2015 fight over the Iran deal told the Free Beacon that the Obama administration feared that Flynn would expose the secret agreements with Iran.

“The Obama administration knew that Flynn was going to release the secret documents around the Iran deal, which would blow up their myth that it was a good deal that rolled back Iran,” the source said. “So in December the Obama NSC started going to work with their favorite reporters, selectively leaking damaging and incomplete information about Flynn.”

“After Trump was inaugurated some of those people stayed in and some began working from the outside, and they cooperated to keep undermining Trump,” the source said, detailing a series of leaks from within the White House in the past weeks targeting Flynn. “Last night’s resignation was their first major win, but unless the Trump people get serious about cleaning house, it won’t be the last.”

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/former-obama-officials-loyalists-waged-campaign-oust-flynn/

Michael T. Flynn stepped down as national security adviser amid a scandal surrounding his contacts with Russia before President Trump took office.

 

WASHINGTON — Just days into his new position as President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn found himself in a meeting that any White House official would dread. Face to face with F.B.I. agents, he was grilled about a phone call he had had with Russia’s ambassador.

What exactly Mr. Flynn said has not been disclosed, but current and former government officials said on Tuesday that investigators had come away believing that he was not entirely forthcoming. Soon after, the acting attorney general decided to notify the White House, setting in motion a chain of events that cost Mr. Flynn his job and thrust Mr. Trump’s fledgling administration into a fresh crisis.

Mr. Flynn’s rise and fall followed familiar patterns in Washington, where ambitious figures secure positions of great authority only to lose them in a blizzard of contradictions, recriminations and scandal. But rarely has an official at such a high level risen and fallen in such a dizzyingly short time, in this case just 24 days after Mr. Flynn arrived in the West Wing to take his corner office.

Given his short stay at the top, Mr. Flynn’s case might be quickly forgotten as an isolated episode if it did not raise other questions, particularly about what the president knew and when. Even more broadly, it underscores lingering uncertainty about the relationship between the Trump administration and Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia, a subject of great interest given American intelligence reports of Moscow’s intervention in last year’s elections in the United States.

C

As leaders of both parties said on Tuesday that they expected the Senate to investigate and probably even summon Mr. Flynn to testify, more details emerged about a drama that played out largely in secret inside a White House riven by competing power centers. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, revealed that Mr. Trump had known about concerns that Mr. Flynn lied for more than two weeks before demanding his resignation on Monday night. But Vice President Mike Pence was kept in the dark and did not learn that Mr. Flynn had misled him about his Russia contacts until reading news accounts late last week.

Photo

Michael T. Flynn, right, stepped down as national security adviser on Monday night after President Trump demanded his resignation. He held the job for 24 days. CreditKevin Hagen for The New York Times

Mr. Spicer described a deliberative process in which a new president took his time deciding what to do with Mr. Flynn, a retired three-star general who played a major role in his campaign. The issue, Mr. Spicer said, was not about legality but credibility.

“The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation and a series of other questionable instances is what led the president to ask for General Flynn’s resignation,” he said.

But other aides privately said that Mr. Trump, while annoyed at Mr. Flynn, might not have pushed him out had the situation not attracted such attention from the news media. Instead, according to three people close to Mr. Trump, the president made the decision to cast aside Mr. Flynn in a flash, the catalyst being a news alert of a coming article about the matter.

“Yeah, it’s time,” Mr. Trump told one of his advisers.

Until around that point, Mr. Flynn seemed to think he was going to keep his job. He told The Daily Caller, a conservative news site, on Monday that he had not violated the law. “If I did, believe me, the F.B.I. would be down my throat, my clearances would be pulled,” he said. “There were no lines crossed.”

But by that evening, he was writing a resignation letter, admitting no deception, only that he had “inadvertently” passed along “incomplete information.”

The issue traced back to a call last December between Mr. Flynn, then on tap to become Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States. President Barack Obama was imposing new sanctions on Russia and expelling 35 diplomats after the election meddling.

The day after the sanctions were announced, Mr. Putin said Russia would not retaliate in kind, as has been the custom in the long, tortured history of Russian-American relations, instead waiting for a new administration that he assumed would be friendlier.

Inside the Obama administration, officials were stunned. Mr. Trump publicly welcomed the decision. “Great move on delay (by V. Putin),” he wrote on Twitter. “I always knew he was very smart!”

Around the same time, Obama advisers heard separately from the F.B.I. about Mr. Flynn’s conversation with Mr. Kislyak, whose calls were routinely monitored by American intelligence agencies that track Russian diplomats. The Obama advisers grew suspicious that perhaps there had been a secret deal between the incoming team and Moscow, which could violate the rarely enforced, two-century-old Logan Act barring private citizens from negotiating with foreign powers in disputes with the United States.

The Obama officials asked the F.B.I. if a quid pro quo had been discussed on the call, and the answer came back no, according to one of the officials, who like others asked not to be named discussing delicate communications. The topic of sanctions came up, they were told, but there was no deal.

 

The events that led to Michael T. Flynn’s abrupt resignation as national security adviser stretch back to before President Trump’s inauguration.

On Jan. 12, David Ignatius, a columnist for The Washington Post, reported that Mr. Flynn had called Mr. Kislyak, setting off news media interest in what was said. Mr. Spicer, then the spokesman for Mr. Trump’s transition team, went to Mr. Flynn, who he said told him that sanctions had not come up during the call. Briefing reporters the next day, Mr. Spicer repeated the misinformation, saying that the conversation had “never touched on the sanctions.”

Mr. Flynn told the same thing to Mr. Pence and Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff, who were scheduled to go on the Sunday talk shows and expected that they would be asked about the matter, according to the two men. On Jan. 15, Mr. Pence went on “Face the Nation” on CBS and on “Fox News Sunday” and repeated that sanctions had not been discussed, while Mr. Priebus said much the same on “Meet the Press” on NBC.

The topic came up again after Mr. Trump and his team moved into the White House. At his first full briefing on Jan. 23, Mr. Spicer said that Mr. Flynn’s conversation had touched on only four subjects, none of them sanctions. That caught the attention of the F.B.I. and the Justice Department.

Sally Q. Yates, an Obama appointee held over as acting attorney general until Mr. Trump’s choice was confirmed, concluded that the disparity between what was said on the call and what Mr. Flynn had evidently told the vice president and others about it might make the new national security adviser vulnerable to blackmail. When foreign governments hold information that could prove embarrassing, it is considered a potential leverage point.

Soon after the Jan. 23 briefing, James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, sent agents to interview Mr. Flynn. If he told the agents what he said publicly for more than a week after that interview — that his conversations with the ambassador had been innocuous and did not involve sanctions — then he could face legal trouble. If the authorities concluded that he knowingly lied to the F.B.I., it could expose him to a felony charge.

Document: Michael Flynn’s Resignation Letter

It was not clear whether Mr. Flynn had a lawyer for his interview or whether anyone at the White House knew the interview was happening. But they knew afterward because Ms. Yates, with the support of Mr. Comey, reached out to Donald F. McGahn II, the new White House counsel, on Jan. 26 to give him what Mr. Spicer called a “heads up” about the discrepancy.

Mr. Trump was told “immediately,” Mr. Spicer said, and directed Mr. McGahn to look into the matter. After an “extensive review” that lasted several days, Mr. McGahn concluded that nothing in the conversation had violated federal law, Mr. Spicer said.

But the president then set out to determine whether he could still trust Mr. Flynn. Mr. Spicer said Mr. Flynn stuck to his original account, making matters worse.

“We got to a point not based on a legal issue, but based on a trust issue, with the level of trust between the president and General Flynn had eroded to the point where he felt he had to make a change,” Mr. Spicer said. “The president was very concerned that General Flynn had misled the vice president and others.”

Asked if Mr. Trump had instructed Mr. Flynn to talk about sanctions with Mr. Kislyak, Mr. Spicer said, “No, absolutely not.” Asked if Mr. Trump knew that the issue had come up before the Justice Department told the White House, Mr. Spicer said, “No, he was not aware.”

Vice President Mike Pence, left, learned that Mr. Flynn had misled him about a call to the Russian ambassador after reading news media reports last week. CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Mr. Spicer emphasized that there was “nothing wrong” with Mr. Flynn’s talking with representatives of other countries to prepare for the new president taking office, and that, in fact, Mr. Trump wanted him to.

By that point, Mr. Trump’s relationship with Mr. Flynn had grown more awkward. One person close to the president, who asked to remain anonymous to describe private discussions, said Mr. Trump had been “uncomfortable” with Mr. Flynn for weeks. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, had expressed concern about Mr. Flynn’s appointment even before the inauguration, according to another person briefed on the discussions.

Mr. Trump’s views were coming around to the same point. “What he knew was that Flynn was too much about Flynn, versus Mattis,” the person close to the president said. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was seen as deferential to the chain of command. “He loves Mattis because Mattis is respectful and self-confident.”

Another key figure with growing concerns about Mr. Flynn was Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist whom Mr. Flynn perceived as a rival for control over national security. Mr. Trump began asking Mr. Mattis about two weeks ago for suggestions of possible replacements for Mr. Flynn. The defense secretary recommended retired Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward. Mr. Bannon reached out to Mr. Harward last week, two senior officials said.

The situation escalated late Thursday when word reached the White House that The Washington Post was reporting that the transcript of Mr. Flynn’s call showed that he had discussed sanctions, contrary to his assurances to Mr. Pence and others.

White House officials confronted Mr. Flynn, who only then said that it was possible they had come up, but that he did not remember. “His story remained the same until that night,” Mr. Spicer said. “That’s when his response changed.”

That was also when Mr. Pence first learned that the Justice Department had proof that Mr. Flynn had not told the truth and had warned the White House two weeks earlier, according to Marc Lotter, his spokesman. “He did an inquiry based on those media accounts,” Mr. Lotter added, without elaborating.

Another person who speaks frequently with him said Mr. Pence went “ballistic,” or at least what qualifies as ballistic for the coolheaded vice president.

Mr. Pence, Mr. Priebus and Mr. Bannon urged Mr. Trump to fire the national security adviser, according to officials, but the president could not bring himself to do it, in part for fear of losing face. When a reporter on Air Force One heading to Florida on Friday asked him about The Post’s report, Mr. Trump said he had not read it. “I don’t know about that,” he said. “I haven’t seen it.”

As late as Monday, he was sticking by Mr. Flynn. He sent his counselor, Kellyanne Conway, to tell a television interviewer that he had “full confidence” in Mr. Flynn. And Mr. Flynn phoned a reporter for The Daily Caller on Monday to say the president had “expressed confidence” in him and urged him to “go out and talk more.”

In that interview, posted on Tuesday, Mr. Flynn said he had discussed the Russian diplomats’ expulsion with Mr. Kislyak. “It wasn’t about sanctions,” he said. “It was about the 35 guys who were thrown out.” Mr. Flynn added: “It was basically, ‘Look, I know this happened. We’ll review everything.’ I never said anything such as, ‘We’re going to review sanctions,’ or anything like that.”

Either way, it was too late. When the matter came to overshadow the president’s glitch-free meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and word arrived of another Post article on Ms. Yates’s warning to the White House, Mr. Trump ordered an end to the situation. “He made a determination late in the day,” Mr. Spicer said, “and he executed on it.”

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 833, February 7, 2017, Story 1: Appeaser Obama’s Legacy of A Bad Iranian Nuclear Deal: Islamic Republic of Iran Puts Trump On Notice — Nuclear Agreement Allows Iran To Build Ballistic Missiles With A 2,000 Mile Range To Enable Iran To Strike Israel — Time Trump Triggers Terrorist Terminations — First: Islamic State — Second: Islamic Republic of Iran — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Will Prevail In The Vigorous Vetting and Pause In Granting Visas From Travelers From Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen — Videos

Posted on February 7, 2017. Filed under: Blogroll, Bombs, Breaking News, Coal, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Cruise Missiles, Drones, Education, Egypt, Empires, Energy, Environment, Foreign Policy, Freedom of Speech, Government Spending, House of Representatives, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic State, Israel, Libya, MIssiles, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Nuclear, Oil, Pistols, Rifles, Russia, Senate, Solar, Somalia, Syria, Turkey, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Wisdom, Yemen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Appeaser Obama’s Legacy of A Bad Iranian Nuclear Deal: Islamic Republic of Iran Puts Trump On Notice — Nuclear Agreement Allows Iran To Build Ballistic Missiles With A 2,000 Mile Range To Enable Iran To Strike Israel — Time Trump Triggers Terrorist Terminations — First: Islamic State — Second: Islamic Republic of Iran — Videos — 

The Iran Nuclear Deal

Iran and the Bomb

Russia rejects Trump’s claim that Iran is top terrorist state

Iran Defends Test of Ballistic Missile

Trump blasts Iran over ballistic missile test

Is War With Iran Inevitable?

Donald Trump warns of the Muslim Problem

Trump on Iran: ‘They will know I am not playing games’

Donald Trump about fighting ISIS | Islamic State Terrorism | Trump Presidential Announcement

Trump’s First Military Action Obliterated 30 Innocent Civilians

Iran Vows More Missile Tests Despite ‘Notice’ | MSNBC

Iran ‘On Notice’: Will Trump Pull The Trigger?

Eric Shawn reports: The Iran deal meets Mr. Trump

Is War with Iran in the Cards with the Trump Foreign Policy Team?

IRAN WARNS UNITED STATES DONT MAKE A PROBLEM OVER MISSILE! BREAKING NEWS 01 02 2017 BREAKING NEWS

Iran Test-Fire Of Medium-Range Missile Ends In Failure

Trump Slams Iran Nuclear Deal: ‘It’s an Embarrassment to Our Country’

Islamic Republic vs Islamic State: What’s The Difference?

USA vs SYRIA & IRAN & RUSSIA Military Power Comparison 2017 (Middle East War) HD

IRAN vs ISRAEL | Military Power Comparison 2016 HD

IRAN Army | IRAN Military Power 2016

Saudi Arabia VS Iran | Military Power Comparison | 2016

Saudi Arabia Military Power 2016-2017 | Saudi Arabian Army

Can Saudi Arabia fight two wars at once? BBC News

Saudi Air Force ON THE WAY to help their “Moderate” Friends

The differences and similarities between Sunni and Shia Isalm

A Short History of Islam: From Muhammad to ISIS

What ISIS Wants

Why Do People Become Islamic Extremists?

Radical Islam: The Most Dangerous Ideology

Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

World War 3 Could Start This Month 350,000 Soldiers In Saudi Arabia Stand Ready To Invade Syria

 

Published on Feb 16, 2016

WW3 Syria, Middle East, Turkey, Russia, World War 3 northern thunder
350,000 soldiers, 20,000 tanks, 2,450 warplanes and 460 military helicopters are massing in northern Saudi Arabia for a military exercise that is being called “Northern Thunder”.

Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno: Future of the U.S. Army

General Raymond Odierno Retiring {U.S. Army} 8-14-15

General Raymond T. Odierno Millitary Confession About Obama

OBAMA IS PISSED! Top Army Chief Of Staff General Drops Bombshell About Him As He Resigns

OBAMA JUST MADE A DRASTIC MOVE THAT LEFT AMERICA COMPLETELY DEFENSELESS

10 Countries Most Likely To Start WW3

Top 10 Countries That Would Not Survive WW3

10 Safest Countries If WW3 Breaks Out

10 Safest Spots During World War 3

Obama Recalls All Aircraft Carriers back to US, None At Sea Anywhere

Published on Jan 2, 2017

Barack Obama has recalled all 10 U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers from the Middle East, leaving the United States wide open to a potential attack.
Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/12/30/…
News Stories about Carriers: http://yournewswire.com/obama-recalls…
https://www.superstation95.com/index….
Nwo Report: http://www.nworeport.me

No US carrier at sea leaves gap in Middle East

NOW PLAYINGUS Navy warship returns to ISIS fight

For the next week, not only will there be no U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in the Middle East, but there will be no American aircraft carriers deployed at sea anywhere else in the world, despite a host of worldwide threats facing the United States.

VIDEO: WHAT THE AIR FORCE NEEDS TO KEEP UP WITH GLOBAL DEMAND

The carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and her strike group returned to Norfolk, Va., Friday following a seven-month deployment. The Ike launched hundreds of airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria from both the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf.

Two destroyers in the Ike’s strike group also saw combat. The USS Nitze and USS Mason were attacked in the Red Sea when Iranian backed Houthi forces in Yemen launched cruise misisles, which were intercepted by the Mason. A retaliatory strike by the Nitze destroyed the radar installations in Yemen in October.

IRAN CONDUCTS ‘WAR-GAME’ EXERCISES, THREATENS TO SHOOT DOWN TRESPASSING AIRCRAFT

The Eisenhower’s replacement carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush, was delayed by more than six months in the shipyards and will not be able to replace the Ike until early next year, according to Navy officials.

While there is no U.S. aircraft carrier in the Middle East right now, there is a large deck U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship with thousands of Marines on board as well as helicopters and some jets to respond to a crisis, according to officials.

In the meantime, the Navy tells Fox News the U.S. military has other jets available to make up for the aircraft carrier gap in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. The Navy can also “surge” a carrier now in port to deploy if necessary. But the absence of a deployed U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, long seen as a symbol of American power projection, is noteworthy. It is believed to be the first time since World War II that at least one U.S. aircraft carrier has not been deployed.

“We are not going to discuss the timing of operational movements of carrier strike groups into and out of the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility,” said Capt. Terry Shannon, a U.S. Naval Forces Central Command spokesman, in a statement to Fox News. Centcom is tasked with control over all U.S. forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

It’s not the first time there was a carrier gap in the Middle East. Last fall, the U.S. Navy relied on a French aircraft carrier to fill the void when the USS Theodore Roosevelt returned home. At the time it was the first gap in carrier coverage in the Middle East since 2007.

Other factors contribute to the U.S. Navy not having an aircraft carrier deployed anywhere in the world right now. From 2011 to 2013, the Navy maintained two carriers in the Persian Gulf on the orders of Centcom’s then-commander, Gen. James Mattis, who is now President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for defense secretary.

The congressionally mandated budget cuts known as sequestration have also been felt on the waterfront since 2011. After billions of dollars were cut from the Navy’s budget, ships such as the George H.W. Bush were forced to prolong their time in the shipyards, which had a ripple effect down the line. If the Bush had left the shipyard on time, she would have relieved the Ike in the Gulf or the Mediterranean, officials tell Fox News.

Fox News recently flew out to the USS George H.W. Bush 40 miles off the coast of North Carolina to see the crew’s final tuneup.

With jets landing every 60 seconds, the flight deck crew worked on getting the time between “traps” (landings) down to 40 seconds.

Aboard the ship, 18- to 22-year-old men and women work 14 hour days on the flight deck, with little rest — all this before deploying and potentially dropping live rounds on ISIS.

“This is the military equivalent of spring training, because once we complete this at the end of December, then we’ll be going forward and it’ll be real forces that we’ll be going flying with and against,” said Rear Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, commander, Carrier Strike 2, interviewed on his perch above the four-acre flight deck known as “Vulture’s Row.”

In addition to fighting ISIS, the ship’s commanding officer says his crew will be ready to deal with a resurgent Russia or China if necessary.

“While we don’t have any emergent or pending conflicts with them, certainly, it is fair to say that we have divergent interests in many cases. and so we need to be prepared to understand how we will react to that if necessary,” said Capt. Will Pennington.

There is recent history with this ship.

On Aug. 8, 2014, a pair of F-18s from the Bush launched the first airstrikes against ISIS in northern Iraq.

Now, two and a half years later, the ship is headed back to the fight against the Islamic State terror group.

“That doesn’t mean that three months or six months from now, that will be the priority for our country. So we have to be ready to execute anywhere, anytime, any mission,” said Capt. James McCall, commander of Air Wing 8, in charge of all of the aircraft on board.

Fox News’ Stephen Scarola contributed to this report.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/12/30/no-us-carrier-at-sea-leaves-gap-in-middle-east.html

Hey, Team Trump: Tell America what’s in the Iran deal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Jan. 30, 2017, Iran tested a new ballistic missile, seemingly the long-range Khorramshahr. In response, the White House announced sanctions against 25 Iranian individuals and companies. It’s a small reaction to an extraordinary provocation that rips away the curtain obscuring America’s foreign-policy decisions, past and present.

The past first. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) congratulated the White House on the sanctions, which was a little hypocritical since he was one of the people who caused the problem in the first place.

In negotiating the secret Iran deal, President Barack Obama took the position that it wasn’t a treaty and therefore didn’t require Senate ratification under the Constitution. Had it been a treaty, Obama would’ve needed two-thirds of the upper chamber’s votes — which he wouldn’t have gotten.

Instead, Corker flipped the procedure around with a motion to condemn the treaty, which would’ve required a two-thirds vote to override a presidential veto. That wasn’t going to happen, so Obama got his treaty.

But what was in the treaty? Ah, that was the great thing. No one knew. And now the Iranians are telling us that Obama secretly promised them they could build ballistic missiles capable of a 2,000-mile flight.

Why that number? Because the Iranians insisted they wanted to be able to strike every part of Israel, and the European members of the six-party Iran talks — Germany, France and Britain — didn’t mind so long as Iran couldn’t build longer-range missiles that could reach them. No skin off their noses if Israel were destroyed.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. The administration thought the Iranian missile launched last month was a medium-range Shahab missile (postmarked Israel-only). It seems to have taken that from a speech by Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan last September.

The problem is, that’s not what Dehghan said, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute. The Iranians have been phasing out the Shahab missile, and what he was referring to were long-range missiles such as the Khorramshahr, which he said would be operational by March 2017, along with similar long-range surface-to-surface missiles.

The new missiles have a range of 2,500 to 5,000 miles and could easily reach all of Europe. Add a range of another 500 miles and that includes Boston. At the same time that we gave Iran the green light for its nuclear program, we gave it the means to attack us.

Lest any doubt remain, we watered down a UN Security Council resolution that might have gotten in the way.

Resolution 1929 banned Iran from conducting any activity concerning missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, but this was amended by Security Council Resolution 2231 which substituted: “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

In other words, we gave the Iranians the wiggle room to say that, even if their missiles are capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, that doesn’t matter because they weren’t designed with that in mind.

So who would be the recipient of the Iranians missiles? Israel, obviously. And also the United Kingdom and America. MEMRI reports that Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps theoretician Hassan Abbasi has announced that Iran has “a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization and for the uprooting of the Americans and the English.”

We told the Iranians we don’t care all that much about the ­Israelis, just leave us out of it. Except that it didn’t quite work out that way for Obama and Corker, as it didn’t work out for Neville Chamberlain when he called Czechoslovakia a “far-away country.” The Iran deal was supposed to bring peace to the region, but instead it handed Trump the equivalent of the Cuban missile crisis.

US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn called the Iranian missile test a violation of the Security Council resolution. That’s an acknowledgment that the` new administration intends to be bound by Security Council resolutions, which is interesting in itself. But Flynn also needs to go public with the details of the Iran deal, including all the secret side agreements.

If we agreed to give Iran the means to attack Israel with a medium-range missile, we need to fess up. And if Iran has violated the agreement by testing longer-range missiles, our announced sanctions are a sadly inadequate response.

The Iran mess underscores the need for a revolution in American strategic thinking, one that recognizes the importance of an effort to recast our relationship with Russia and to rethink the purpose of the NATO alliance.

F.H. Buckley teaches at Scalia Law School. His most recent book is “The Way Back: Restoring the Promise of America.”

http://nypost.com/2017/02/06/hey-team-trump-tell-america-whats-in-the-iran-deal/

 

Story 2: President Trump Will Prevail In The Vigorous Vetting and Pause In Granting Visas From Travelers From Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen — Videos

 

Judge Napolitano’s take on the travel ban legal battle

Is the president within his bounds with the travel ban?

How both sides see the legal challenge on Trump’s travel ban

Why I Left the Left

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The Pronk Pops Show 829, February 1, 2017, Story 1: President Trump Honors U.S. Navy SEAL Killed in a Weekend Raid in al Qaeda Camp near al Bayda in south central Yemen — Videos — Story 2: Trump Administration Condemns Iran for Provacative Guided Ballistic Missile Launch and Violates United Nations Resolution — Officially Putting Iran on Notice’ — Videos — Story 3: Yemen Houthis Rebels Attack Saudi Missile Frigate — Killing Two Crewmen — Videos

Posted on February 1, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Bombs, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, China, Coal, Coal, College, Communications, Computers, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Cruise Missiles, Culture, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, European History, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Spending, Great Britain, History, Homicide, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal, Iraq, Islam, Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic State, Israel, Israel, Language, Law, Legal Immigration, Libya, Life, Lying, Media, Medicare, Middle East, MIssiles, National Security Agency, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, News, North Korea, Nuclear, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Obama,