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The Pronk Pops Show 1082, May 23, 2018, Story 1: President Trump Participates on Immigration Roundtable and Threat of MS-13 Gangs (Kill, Rape, Control) — Secure Our Borders and Protect Our Communities — Videos — Story 2: Governor Abbott Roundtable Meeting in Stopping Mass Shootings in Gun Free Zones Such As Texas Santa Fe High School Shootings With 10 Dead and 14 Wounded –Videos — Story 3: President Trump Delivers Keynote Address at Susan B. Anthony List 11th Annual Campaign for Life Gala — Videos

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Pronk Pops Show 1030, February 9, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1028, February 7, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1027, February 2, 2018

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Story 1: President Trump Participates on Immigration Roundtable and Threat of MS-13 Gangs (Kill, Rape, Control) — Videos —

What is MS-13?

President Trump participates in a roundtable on immigration. Bethpage, NY May 23, 2018

Trump administration goes after MS-13 gang

MS-13 Gang documentary / America’s Deadliest Gangs

National Geographic – MS13 [Mara Salvatrucha ] : America’s Deadliest Gang – full Documentary HD

Inside MS-13

Why MS-13 is more dangerous than ISIS

Inside Long Island’s war with MS-13

A firsthand look at how MS-13 terrorizes Suffolk County

ICE Chasing Down MS-13 Gang (Compilation)

Gangs of El Salvador (Full Length)

Gang World : MS13 (Full)

Border Patrol arrests MS 13 Gang Member

 

MS-13 spreads to 22 states, fed by 300,000 illegals, DACA recipients, tied to 207 murders

ms-13
In this April 19, 2017 file photo, the casket of Justin Llivicura is carried from St. Joseph the Worker Church after Llivicura’s funeral in East Patchogue, N.Y. Llivicura, 16, was one of four young men found slain in a suspected MS-13 gang killing in a park in Central Islip, N.Y., on April 12. The gang has been blamed for the deaths of nearly a dozen young people in blue-collar Brentwood and Central Islip since the school year began. (AP Photo/Frank Eltman, File)
Frank Eltman

Since 2012, 207 murders have been tied to the gang called “Mara Salvatrucha,” and there are over 500 cases nationwide of MS-13 members being charged in major crimes, according to the report from the Center for Immigration Studies.


But it can sometimes be hard to deport the illegals involved because about half of the crimes detailed in the report occurred in so-called “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

President Trump has pledged to crack down on the gang and deport those in the United States illegally, and report author Jessica M. Vaughan suggested that it can’t happen soon enough.

Detailing how the gang rebuilt itself under Obama’s open-border immigration policies, she said, “this resurgence represents a very serious threat to public safety in communities where MS-13 has rebuilt itself. The resurgence is directly connected to the illegal arrival and resettlement of more than 300,000 Central American youths and families that has continued unabated for six years, and to a de-prioritization of immigration enforcement in the interior of the country that occurred at the same time.”

The research she supervised at the immigration think tank found that MS-13 concentrations were in areas where so-called “unaccompanied alien children” were put under Obama, including Virginia, California, Maryland and New York. They included those participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals who Democrats in Congress are fighting for.

She cited an example of a Maryland DACA recipient charged with gang activity who urged pals in El Salvador to take advantage of Obama’s policies:

One MS-13 clique leader in Frederick, Md., who had received a DACA work permit and was employed as a custodian at a middle school in Frederick, Md., and who was recently incarcerated for various gang-related crimes, reportedly was told by gang leaders in El Salvador to take advantage of the lenient policies on UACs to bring in new recruits, knowing that they would be allowed to resettle in the area with few questions asked. Several of these unaccompanied minors now have been arrested and incarcerated for various crimes, including a vicious random attack on a sheriff’s deputy in 2015.

Crime, torture and theft are the trademarks of the gang.

“The MS-13 members identified in the cases we found were accused of very serious crimes, including 207 murders. More than 100 were accused of conspiracy/racketeering, and dozens of others were charged with drug trafficking, sex trafficking, attempted murder, sexual assaults, and extortion,” said the report. Vaughan is the center’s policy director.

The report noted the difficulty in seizing and deporting some of those involved because the crimes occurred in many of the 300 sanctuary regions in the nation that don’t cooperate with ICE.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/ms-13-spreads-to-22-states-fed-by-300-000-illegals-daca-recipients-tied-to-207-murders

 

Morrelly Homeland Security Center

Bethpage, New York

2:05 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.  Great to be here.  Oh, do I know this location well.  That beautiful Bethpage State Park.  I spent a lot of hours there.  Great place.  Thank you very much and good afternoon.

We’re here today to discuss the menace of MS-13.  It’s a menace.  A ruthless gang that has violated our borders and transformed once peaceful neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields.  They’re horrible people, by the way.

Thank you very much to Secretary Nielsen; Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — Rod, thank you; Acting ICE Director Tom Homan, who is going to be — I hope you’re going to be with us for a long time.  I’m hearing he’s going to go into a little bit of an easier job, but you won’t be happy.  You won’t be happy.  What a job you’ve done.  Thank you very much, Tom.  And Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan.  Thank you very much.  Thank you, John.

And we also have a couple of folks with us today — Laura Curran, Nassau County Executive.  Wherever Laura may be.  Hi, Laura.

CURRAN:  Hi.

THE PRESIDENT:  How are you, Laura?  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.

I want to thank a very good friend of mine for a long time that this area knows very well, the great Peter King.  Thank you, Peter.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Doing a good job.  And he’s fully got my endorsement, even though I assume he has no opponents.  I don’t know if he has any opponent.  Nobody would be that crazy to run against Peter.  (Laughter.)

Congressman Lee Zeldin.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you, Lee.  Great job you’re doing.  Thank you for all your help.

And Congressman Daniel Donovan, really known as “Dan,” right?  Dan Donovan.  (Applause.)  He’s been a friend.

For their great leadership in combatting MS-13.  Also, Erin King — you know who I’m talking about — Sweeney.  Where’s Erin?  Where are you?  Where are you?  Hello, Erin.  How are you?  A little bit of a relationship.

REPRESENTATIVE KING:  That’s my wife, Rosemary, next to her.

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, Rosemary.  Hi, Rosemary.  See, you say, “That’s my wife.”  I know that’s your wife.  (Laughter.)  Nice to see you.  Thanks, Rosemary.  Thanks for being here.  Thank you very much, Erin.  It’s a great honor to have you.

We’re also grateful to be joined by Commissioner Geri Hart of Suffolk County, and Commissioner Patrick Ryder.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  And they know this threat probably as well as anybody.

We’re especially moved today to be joined by families who have suffered unthinkable heartbreak at the hands of the MS-13 gangs.  I’m truly honored to be joined again by the courageous families who were my guests at the State of the Union.  That was a special evening.  Elizabeth Alvarado, Robert Mickens, Evelyn Rodriguez, and Freddy Cuevas.  Thank you.  Thank you all.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

Their beautiful daughters, Kayla and Nisa, were murdered by MS-13 gang members, many of whom exploited glaring loopholes — and we have the biggest loopholes of any country anywhere in the world.  We have the worst immigration laws of any country anywhere in the world.  But they exploited the loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors.  They look so innocent; they’re not innocent.

We are praying for these families with us today, and we pledge to honor the memory of those you lost with action and resolve — and I’ll just add another word — with great success.  And thank you very much for being here.  Thank you so much.  Really appreciate it.  (Applause.)  And they will not have passed in vain, that I can tell you.

MS-13 lives by the motto, “Kill, Rape, and Control.”  That’s actually their motto.  “Kill, Rape, and Control.”  Last month, MS-13 reportedly called for its members here on Long Island, where I essentially grew up.  You know Jamaica, right?  I always said, “Long Island.”  It’s very close.  To call and to see what happened is just incredible.

But they killed a cop for the sake of making a statement.  They wanted to make a statement, so they killed a cop, a policeman.  Here in Nassau County, MS-13 gang members were charged with killing and hacking up a teenager.  And police officers just told me four other young men were brutally murdered recently by MS-13 in Suffolk — Suffolk County.

In Maryland, MS-13 gang members are accused of stabbing a man 100 times, decapitating him, and ripping out his heart.  Police officers also believe the MS-13 members beat a sex-trafficked 15-year-old girl with a bat 28 times, totally disfiguring a beautiful young woman.

In Texas, two MS-13 gang members were charged after kidnapping, drugging, and raping a 14-year-old girl.  They then murdered her and somebody else.

Crippling loopholes in our laws have enabled MS-13 gang members and other criminals to infiltrate our communities, and Democrats in Congress refuse to close these loopholes, including the disgraceful practice known as catch and release.  That’s — you catch them, you write up a little piece of paper that’s meaningless, and then you release them.  And they go all through the country, and they’re supposed to come back for trials.  They never come back — or very rarely.  It’s the rare person that comes back.

Democrats have to abandon their resistance to border security so that we can support law enforcement and save innocent lives.  And I noticed recently, where Democrats — Nancy Pelosi, as an example — are trying to defend MS-13 gang members.  I called them “animals” the other day, and I was met with rebuke.  They said, “They are people.”  They’re not people.  These are animals, and we have to be very, very tough.  (Applause.)

So I’d now like to turn this over to a man — really, he has been a great friend of mine — a tremendous supporter — and I’ve always been a supporter of his, Peter King.  He does an incredible job, and nobody knows this situation and this horror show, and these laws — how bad they are — worst in the world — better than Peter King.  Peter.

REPRESENTATIVE KING:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Thank you very much.  And let me say what a — (applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

REPRESENTATIVE KING:  Mr. President, what an honor it is to have you back here on Long Island.  As you say, you’re a neighbor.  You were in Suffolk County last year; Nassau County this year.  And you, more than anyone in the country, is highlighting the evil of MS-13.  So I congratulate you.  I thank you for leading this effort.  It’s a — they are horrible, vicious, rotten murderers.  And you are really leading the charge.  And thank you for doing this.  Thank you for assembling all of us here today.  And thank you for mobilizing all the efforts of the federal government behind this.  So thank you very much.

Also, on a somewhat jocular note, let me tell Laura Curran — I want to thank her — I’ll be giving visas to Donovan and Zeldin, to let them into Nassau County.  (Laughter.)  I promise you I’ll get them out of here as soon as I can.  Okay?  (Laughter.)

CURRAN:  They can stay as long as they want.

REPRESENTATIVE KING:  Okay.  This is a very serious issue.  To have these family members here.  I’ve worked with them; I know what they’ve gone through.

And for anyone who wants to minimize the danger of MS-13, just ask Commissioner Hart, Commissioner Ryder.  They know firsthand exactly what this is all about.

Let me also commend ICE for the great job that they do.  Tom is here and he’s done excellent work in Suffolk County and in Nassau County, working with our Nassau and Suffolk Country Police.

So, Mr. President, you have experts here that can talk.  I just want to, again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you’re doing.  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much, Peter.  (Applause.)

I do want to say, and I have to pay great tribute to ICE and Border Patrol.  But ICE came in and they are doing a job.  We are taking them out by the thousands.

Now, if we had laws that were proper, they wouldn’t be coming back to the extent, but they’ve taken them out by the thousands.  And it’s way down, but it’s still far too much.  And it’s unacceptable.

So I thought maybe what we’ll do is we’ll go around the table, say a few words, if you might.  We’ll start right here.  You have done a fantastic job and we appreciate it.

Let’s go.  Why don’t we start?  Thank you, John.

CRONAN:  Thank you, Mr. President.  On the very day that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was sworn in, you signed an executive order with a very clear directive: reduce crime in America.

And it is my honor to support carrying out your mandate by helping to bring MS-13 to justice and by working to dismantle this gang that’s terrorizing our communities.  I know people in this room are very familiar with the horrifying stats, but MS-13 is one of the most violent and formidable threats that our country faces today.

MS-13 leaders may operate out of prisons in El Salvador but the gang is alive and well in our streets.  It is estimated there are 10,000 MS-13 members in the United States; 2,000 are estimated to be right here in Long Island.  And their ranks are continually being refilled with new emissaries from El Salvador.  MS-13 is infiltrating our high schools, our middle schools, even our elementary schools.

The gang’s brutality, as you alluded to, Mr. President, just cannot be captured by words.  You mentioned their motto, “Kill, Rape, Control.”  They live by that motto.  They kill — murdering their victims, murdering them with machetes, chains, knives, bats, firearms.  They rape — gang-raping young girls, selling them for sex.  They control — killing not just rival gang members but also fellow MS-13 members who are suspected of being cooperators with law enforcement or violated gang rules.

For example, in March, an MS-13 member named Elmer Lopez pled guilty to murdering a fellow gang member who was suspected of cooperating with law enforcement.  Lopez and his cohorts brought their victim to a secluded wooded area in Brentwood, maybe about 15 miles from here, where they took turns slashing and stabbing him to death.  Mr. President, the victim’s skeletal remains were discovered more than four months later.

A few months ago, an MS-13 member, Raul Landaverde-Giron, who also is facing federal charges for illegally — allegedly illegally reentering the company [sic] after he was deported.  Landaverde-Giron was convicted of murdering someone who had fled El Salvador, for Maryland, to avoid a kill order from MS-13.  Landaverde-Giron and his fellow thugs lured that victim to the woods, shot him in the head, and stabbed him in the face and neck.  For his role in the murder, Landaverde-Giron received a promotion from MS-13.

Well, Mr. President, thanks to our criminal justice system, he will also be receiving a mandatory life sentence.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Great.

CRONAN:  And to give one other example, Mr. President — last November, Yerwin Hernandez-Ordonez, a Honduran national, who was illegally in the United States, was sentenced for his role of an MS-13 murder in Virginia.  Hernandez-Ordonez oversaw two young MS-13 recruits.  They were tasked with murdering a rival gang member to gain admission into MS-13.

After two failed attempts to shoot the victim, the victim almost managed to flee.  But Hernandez-Ordonez made sure he didn’t get away.  He chased him down, caught him, and brought him back.  The two recruits then shot their victim in the head and were initiated into MS-13 later that same day.

Mr. President, these and the disgraceful examples that you mentioned in your opening remarks are just a small sample of the unspeakable violence of MS-13.  But we are hitting MS-13 hard, with targeted prosecutions across the country, including right here in Long Island.  We are surging federal prosecutors, surging them to the border to prosecute immigration offenses; surging them to U.S. attorneys’ offices around the country to prosecute violent crimes.  We are working with our partners in Central America — work that has resulted in thousands of arrests of MS-13 members.

We want these savages incapacitated before they can try to cross over our borders.  We cannot — and we will not — permit our country to be a playground for MS-13 to pursue its murderous mission.  Dismantling violent gangs is a top priority of this Department of Justice, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and it will remain such as we continue to use all law enforcement tools at our disposal to rid our streets of the scourge of MS-13.

Thank you, Mr. President.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, John.  Great job.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Great job, John.

Tom?

HOMAN:  Mr. President, I want to — first of all, I want to thank you for your leadership on this issue.  I want to thank the Secretary.  I couldn’t ask for two better bosses that take border security and public safety more seriously than you all.

I also want to give a shout-out to law enforcement officers in this room, the ones that carry a badge and gun every day and put their lives on the line for the communities.  We got a President — unprecedented support for law enforcement, and I thank you guys.  As a 33-year veteran of law enforcement, you’re doing a tremendous job.  You got the backs of law enforcement.  You got their six recruits here.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

HOMAN:  Now, I’m much older and blinder than John, so I got to wear my glasses, because there are some important numbers I want to read to back you up on the statements you made coming here, because a lot of times you’re questioned about it.  So I want to read some numbers.

I want to thank Rod and John for partnership.  They are stepping up.  We are prosecuting more MS-13 members and gang members in the history of ICE.  ICE is working hard to ensure the United States does not become a safe haven for these criminals.  HSI — our criminal investigators at HSI have continued to attack the efforts of MS-13 here, domestically and abroad, which I’ll speak to in a minute.

We have doubled our arrests of MS-13 members under your command, President Trump.  In FY17, the first year, HSI and ICE arrested 896 MS-13 leaders, members, and associates.  They totally arrested — they arrested another 4,800 total gang members throughout the United States, to include MS-13.

Since FY16, ICE has removed nearly 11,000 criminal gang members.  Specifically about New York — the target of MS-13 on Long Island is one of the primary goals of ICE because New York is under attack.  With a cooperative focus on sources and intelligence — our on ongoing initiative — we arrested, in the past year, 300 MS-13 criminal arrests here on Long Island, and more than 40 percent of those we have verified are unaccompanied alien children.  So it is a problem.  There is a connection.

MS-13 terrorizes communities and they commit violent crimes, as you said.  I know you’ve been taken a hit on your comments about animals and MS-13, but I think you’re being kind.  Animals kill for survival; MS-13 kills for sport.  They kill to terrorize, and there’s a big difference there.

We want to push our borders South, so we’re attacking MS-13 where the command and control is in El Salvador.  Our attaché offices in Central America are working very closely with the federal police in El Salvador, along with El Salvadorian prosecutors.  We have arrested and taken off the streets in El Salvador hundreds of MS-13 gang members.

We just did a trip down there.  We took local law enforcement and some prosecutors down there to meet with the federal police and the prosecutors who we’ve totally vetted, they are part of our vetted unit, and we trained them.  We went to one of the prisons down there, where 70 percent of the population in that prison is MS-13 gang members.  These are the worst of the worst.  And because of ICE’s work along the Bureau and Department of Justice, our intelligence and our evidence supplied to the officials in El Salvador put most of their people in that prison — which, if you think about it, we prevented many of these people from getting to the United States, and took them out right there in El Salvador.

We’ll continue to do that.  We’ll continue to work along our Salvadorian and Central American partners to play the away game, and stop most of them before they get there.  I can tell you that ICE is not going to stop making this a priority until we totally dismantle this organization.  We won’t rest until that’s happened.

So I want to thank you again for your leadership.  ICE is on the job.  ICE isn’t going away.  New York, despite your Governor’s comments about ICE, ICE has done a lot for this state, and we’ll continue doing a lot for this state.  We’ve taken nearly 5,000 criminal aliens off the street in New York, and we’re not going anywhere.  We’re going to be here and do our job, and try to make this the safest place that the community is going to have.

Thank you very much.  Appreciate it.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Tom.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Tom.  Great job.  Thank you.

Rod.  Thank you.

ROSENSTEIN:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Under your leadership, Attorney General Sessions has made violent crime and illegal immigration a top priority for the Department of Justice, and we’re making tremendous progress.  We’re working in coordination with Homeland Security and with our other federal partners, as well as state and local law enforcement.

The feedback that we’re getting, as Tom mentioned, around the country, is that state and local law enforcement appreciate their partnership.  It’s an unprecedented level of coordination with federal law enforcement around the country, particularly on this challenge of violent crime and MS-13.

John mentioned that some of the recent cases, the horrific cases we’ve handled in the Department of Justice.  I saw this firsthand when I was U.S. Attorney in Maryland in 2005.  We began using federal racketeering statutes to try and dismantle the MS-13 gang, and we had tremendous success for quite a few years.

What we found in recent years is a resurgence of MS-13 in Maryland, in the D.C. area, and it was fueled by illegal immigration and particularly by the challenge of unaccompanied minor children.  And there are several loopholes in federal law that facilitate this.  They create a particular problem for Homeland Security and for us, with regard to unaccompanied children who enter the United States illegally.

The first is that they are not eligible for expedited removal, which means that — you know, most aliens who enter the United States, if they’re caught within 14 days, within about 100 miles of the border, they can be removed in an expedited basis without needing to see an immigration judge.

But under federal law, all unaccompanied alien children, regardless of nationality, they have to go before a judge.  They cannot be subject to expedited removal proceedings.

The second challenge is that almost all unaccompanied children are released from custody, even if they want to go home.  And the reason for that is that there’s an exception for aliens from Mexico and Canada.  They’re permitted to withdraw their applications and return home.

But for other countries, even if those aliens request to go home, we’re not allowed to do it.  We’re required to put them in immigration proceedings.  And in addition to that, Homeland Security is required to turn them over to HHS within 72 hours, as a result of federal law.  It can take months and sometimes years to adjudicate those claims once they get into the federal immigration court system, and they often fail to appear for immigration proceedings.  In fact, approximately 6,000 unaccompanied children each year fail to appear when they’ve been summoned.  They’re released and they don’t show up again.

The third challenge is a consent decree entered by the government in 1997, which continues to burden our efforts to enforce immigration laws.  Under that consent decree, INS, at the time, agreed that illegal alien children would be subject to special rules, special judicial supervision that handicaps DHS’s ability to detain and promptly remove unaccompanied alien children.

And the fourth challenge that we face is that, once released, as you mention, many of them never come back again.  With very few exceptions, once those unaccompanied alien children are released into the community, even if they’re gang members, they will generally remain in the United States.  They frequently abscond and fail to appear for their removal hearings.  Approximately 90 percent of all removal orders each year result from a failure to appear at a hearing.

And according to Homeland Security statistics, less than 4 percent of illegal alien children are ultimately removed from the United States.  So most of them, once they’re released, they’re here to stay.

The consequence of these loopholes, Mr. President, is that, although we’re doing everything we can to combat crime in the United States, we’re letting people in who are creating problems.  We’re letting people in who are gang members.  We’re also letting people in who are vulnerable.  Many of these alien children, who have no parents, no family structure — we’re releasing them into communities where they’re vulnerable to recruitment by MS-13.

And so some of these kids who come in without any gang ties develop gang ties as a result of the pressure that they face from people that they confront in the communities.

So we’re hopeful, Mr. President, that we can get some assistance from the Congress in closing some of these loopholes so that our law enforcement officers won’t have to work so hard, and so we won’t have more victims like Kayla and Nisa.

Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  And I think that’s great, Rod.  And I think it’s happening.  I mean, I’m seeing a willingness, even, to a certain extent, by the Democrats.  They’re starting to come around, but it’s brutal.  It’s brutal.  As you know better than anybody, it’s a tough situation.  We need the laws enhanced very substantially and very quickly.

Thank you, Rod, very much.  Very nice.  (Applause.)

Patrick.

COMMISSIONER RYDER:  Mr. President, first of all, on behalf of all our Nassau County police officers — and I think I can speak for every officer in this room and in this country — we know we have a President that has our back and supports us every single day when we go out and do the mission that we are tasked to do.

We have about 500 identified MS-13 members in Nassau County.  About 250 of them are active.  And we do that through — everything is evidence-based and through intelligence-led policing.

Last year, in 2017, we had six kids that were murdered in Nassau County by MS-13.  Of those six, one was shot in the face, one was shot in the back of the head, four of them were violently butchered by machetes, and buried in shallow graves throughout our county.

Those victims, three of them were 15 years of age.  Two of them were 18.  Out of the six people that committed these murders, nine people were arrested last year.  Seven of the nine that were arrested were undocumented in this country.  So we have a population of 1.3 million people here in Nassau County; 17 percent Hispanic makeup.  I’ve been to these communities.  I’ve spoken to these people.  I’ve addressed them at town hall meetings.  And our pop cops have been there.  They’re good hard-working people in the community.

Ninety percent of the crime is done by ten percent of the population.  MS-13 is making up a good percent of that 10 percent in that community.  We need to go out at an intelligence way to attack it.  We need to go out with evidence-based approaches.

What I would like to see here in Nassau County — we have a great partnership with Homeland, we have a great partnership with ICE.  They’ve done nothing but support us.  Our U.S. Attorney’s Office and our District Attorney’s Office has been great in the prosecutions.

We need to get a little bit better on our intelligence sharing and information, and that starts at the border where that information can flow up into the states that we know who, why, when, how.  And again, that gives us a better way to approach it, so we don’t burn the bridges and the relationships with those communities that we spent so much time building, that we — they want to come to us and support us.

And the youth programs in those communities — whether it’s a police youth academy, a PAL program — they’re the kids that are being influenced and turned into the gangs, as you heard before.  They’re the kids that we need to reach now, not later — now — before some of these gang members push them into it.

Most of the murders that have occurred here in Nassau County were done because somebody wanted to get into the gang, and part of the initiation was to kill and take a body.  And these are innocent kids that we are out there, lured into these wooded areas with alcohol and the potential of sex and drugs.

If our intelligence is better, if our evidence-based approach is better, and our community relations stay strong, we can make a difference and turn the tide on that.

And we’re going to look to you for all that help, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Patrick.  That’s great.  I appreciate it.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Great job.  Really good.  You’ve done a fantastic job.

Robert and Elizabeth, we’re going to save you for a couple of minutes.  We want to hear from a couple of these politicians first.  Right?  (Laughter.)  And then we’re going to get to the real story.  We appreciate it.

Dan, go ahead.

REPRESENTATIVE DONOVAN:  Thank you, Mr. President.  And I’d remind you, we’re public servants; we’re not politicians.  (Laughter.)

But thank you for your leadership here.  This is our second visit.

THE PRESIDENT:  You are.  (Laughter.)

REPRESENTATIVE DONOVAN:  This is our second visit here to Nassau County.  This is the second time that, through your leadership, you came here — because this community is hurting.

Behind you is a sign that says, “Secure our borders, protect our communities.”  That’s one sentence with a comma in it.  If we do one, we achieve the other.  And it’s the one thing that you’ve been trying to do for the 15 months that you’ve led this nation.  We need border security.  We need tougher immigration laws.  We need to help communities like this.

The examples — I was a prosecutor for 20 years, Mr. President.  I was eight years in the Manhattan’s DA’s Office.  I was Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Bureau where we saw vicious gang assaults and murders.  I was 12 years as the Staten Island District Attorney, as you know.  I have never seen the viciousness like you just described in your opening remarks.

We’re here to help.  These brave people — Pat, John, Rod, the folks on the ground — they’re enforcing laws, but we have to make the laws.  And we learn a lot by listening.  That’s why I’m so grateful that you’re holding this roundtable because a lot of what Lee, Pete, and I will do when we go back to D.C. is take the information we learn here and implement them into our laws.

On the way up with you, the Secretary was describing to us how after someone, a criminal, is convicted and they’re illegal — if their home country doesn’t take them back in six months, we have to release them back in the community.  Well, what country would take back these people that our fellow crime fighters have just described?  Nobody would take them back.  We have to change those laws, Mr. President.

Thank you for your leadership.  Thank you for your commitment to protect our nation.  And thank you for your support of our law enforcement officers.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  Thank you very much, Dan.  (Applause.)

And just before — thank you, Dan — just before we get to the Secretary, I have to say that many of these countries we give tremendous amounts of aid to — tens of millions of dollars.  And we’re working on a plan to deduct a lot of the aid, because I happen to believe it’s not so hard.  You know, they’ll let you think that they’re trying to stop this.  They’re not trying to stop it.  I think they encourage people from leaving.  They don’t want the people.  They don’t want the people that we’re getting in that country.

So we’re going to work out something where every time somebody comes in from a certain country, we’re going to deduct a rather large amount of money from what we give them in aid — (applause) — if we give them aid at all, which we may not just give them aid at all.  Because despite all of the reports I hear, I don’t believe they’re helping us one bit.  And maybe that’s the way life is, but they’re not helping us a lot based on the fact that we know where these people are coming from.

So we’re looking at our whole aid structure, and it’s going to be changed very radically.  It’s already started.

All right.  Thank you very much, Dan.  Secretary Nielsen.  (Applause.)

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  Yes, sir.  Thank you.  I might just talk loudly, if that works.

So I just want to thank you, as always, for your leadership on behalf of the largest law enforcement agency in the federal government.  We so appreciate your leadership, your support.

I know Tom, and Tom’s folks do — I always tell them that I will always empower them and support them, but you enable me to do that.  So we thank you always for your leadership.

I want to thank the commissioners.  I want to thank the members of Congress here.  And most importantly, my thoughts and prayers continue to go out the families that are here today.  This obviously should never have happened, and we will leave no stone unturned until we combat it.

I do want to say, horrifyingly, to knit together everything that folks have said before: Seven of the thirteen gang members that murdered these lovely girls were unaccompanied alien children that came into the country.  And the problem with that is, is they come in, they’re recruited, as was described by the Commissioner, but they also come in and they pay a debt.  The smugglers require them to serve in the gangs to pay the debt for the smuggling.

So they’re either forced to join the gangs, or they’re tricked into joining the gangs, or they’re recruited to join the gangs.  So there absolutely is a tie between all the loopholes the Deputy Attorney General described and the resurgence of these gangs in our communities.

The other two loopholes I might have just mentioned; one was just mentioned.  The other one is that we still cannot bar known gang members from coming into our country.  We have to change the law.  We know who they are, we know what they do.  We do not, under the law, have the ability to make them inadmissible on the face of being a gang member.  So we have to change that.

So DHS, as the Director knows, we’re leaving no stone unturned, as I said.  We’re securing our borders.  We’re building your wall.  We’re increasing technology.  You’ve deployed the National Guard.  We have 3,000 apprehensions that are attributed in addition to the fact that the National Guard is there.  We’re enforcing the law.

I also would like to join the Director in thanking everyone here that represents law enforcement for putting your lives on the line every day to help our communities.  (Applause.)  You have tremendous thanks from all of us.

The arrests, under your leadership, are up 42 percent.  So the men and women that you have empowered are out there doing their job every day.  We’re cracking down on fraud.  We have a 315 percent increase in adults who are using children to pose as a family to come into this country illegally.  We cannot have that.  So we’re cracking down on fraud.  We’re cracking down on adults who pretend to be children to come in, because they know that’s a loophole.

And we’re certainly cracking down on the false asylum.  If you want to come here for family reunification, that’s not asylum.  If you’re coming here to seek a job, that’s not asylum.  Those are not legitimate reasons under the law of the United States.  We will not grant you asylum.

We are going after the gangs.  Director Homan talked a lot about that.  We’re protecting children.  We need to protect all the children that do come here.  So we’re increasing background checks to make sure that when we do, through HHS, hand over a child to a sponsor or alleged family member, that they are, in fact, either a family member or somebody who is not a convicted criminal, smuggler, or trafficker.

And finally, we’re pressing Congress, and I will continue to do that.  I had many conversations on the Hill this week.  I have made it my duty.  I appreciate the members being here for that reason.  But we will close these loopholes, and we will take our communities back under President Trump.

So thank you all for being here.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Kirstjen.  Thank you.  Great job.  Thank you.  And thank you for the really great job you’re doing.  I really appreciate it.  Not easy.  Not easy.

Lee?

REPRESENTATIVE ZELDIN:  Mr. President, thank you for coming back, again.  This is your second time in less than a year that you’re on Long Island for this purpose.  And the message that gets sent to the victims of MS-13 is certainly being heard and felt by them.  And the message is being heard and felt by the law enforcement officers here on Long Island, who MS-13 has been threatening.  It sends a strong message not only to Long Islanders who care about our community and our public safety, but it also sends a strong message all throughout our entire country.  It’s really important when you run for office that you’re able to keep your promises.  And the effort that you have been showing to ensure the defeat of MS-13 is incredibly important, and it’s recognized.

I was, last week, in Jerusalem, where we were moving an embassy and a promise was being kept.  I was in the Middle East last Christmas, visiting our troops, where ISIS is almost completely wiped off the map in Iraq and Syria.  It’s so important for us to keep our promises.

The message is being sent not to just Long Islanders, but all throughout the entire country.

You have to, when wanting to eliminate a threat, be willing to identify it.  And what we saw with the reaction to — the California sheriff asked you about MS-13, and you responded immediately to that remark and called them “animals.”  And as our Acting ICE Director said, that was a nice way of putting it.  But if you’re not willing to even identify the threat, you have no chance of eliminating it.  Same thing if you want to get rid of the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic — another promise that you’re keeping.

Locally, we have seen many indictments coming down from a great local U.S. attorney’s office.  There is a U.S. attorney here, Rich Donoghue, who I’m a little biased towards.  He’s a former 82nd Airborne Division Paratrooper.  But we’re seeing indictment after indictment come down here in the Eastern District, and it’s a product of all of the people who are here at this table, who work for them, working at every level of government.  And we’re about to hear from Ms. Hart, our new police commissioner in Suffolk.  Everyone working together to ensure that this is accomplished is critical.

This issue should transcend partisan politics.  And unfortunately, it’s not right now in Congress.  Nancy Pelosi recently took nine hours on the House floor to celebrate the humanity and the behavior that encompasses what has torn apart the hearts of our families who are here.  As far as sending messages, it’s also an important message to send to congressional Democrats.  You have shown a willingness to compromise on this issue, an uncomfortable — you have put your neck way out there.  And you’re — in a way, you end up negotiating against yourself when the congressional Democrats just refuse to work with you.  It’s obstructionism.

There are people who are in Congress who have pledged to oppose and obstruct everything and anything, saying they cannot work with you, because if they work with you, they’ll legitimize your Presidency.  You were elected President of the United States.  They were elected to serve in Congress.  They took an oath.  They need to protect our constituents here, and they need to protect their own.  They need to work with you, because you’re putting your neck out there on the line.  They need to do it, as well, even if they’re taking a tough vote from their constituency.  (Applause.)

As far as policy issues, we stand with you for stronger border security and interior enforcement.  We agree that there is a need to end catch and release, to end this use of visa lottery.  Beyond just the worst offenses that we’ve heard a lot about are all the other offenses that aren’t the high-profile incidents that we hear about in the national media.  It’s the drug trafficking that takes place here on Long Island and elsewhere.  It’s the sex trafficking that takes place on Long Island and everywhere all throughout our entire country.

So all these policy issues are really important.  Securing entryways is important not just to keep out people who shouldn’t be entering our country illegally, but also keeping things out of our country that should not be entering our country illegally.

And as you know well — and I appreciate your leadership on the heroin-opioid abuse epidemic — that is something that has been a huge impact on Long Island as well.

Finally, we discussed it once before, when you — also, and I like to report back to my constituents: This isn’t just something that we’re talking about while you’re able to come here to Long Island, but also meetings that have taken place at the White House and other efforts that are underway.

But there is a need to have a tool given to our Justice Department, in my opinion, to be able to end our Homeland Security, to be able to revoke the naturalization of someone who, it turns out that they were engaged in gang violence before they received their naturalization.

Or if it’s six months later or two years later, they engage in gang violence, they should have their naturalization revoked.  I introduced, after our last meeting, the Protecting Our Communities from Gang Violence Act, H.R. 5065.  I look forward to working with you on all of this, and I just really want to thank all of the fine, distinguished people who are here at this table.

And also, to everyone watching at home who is standing with our President, it’s an important message to send: Whether you vote for a President or not, his success is our success as Americans.  (Applause.)  And as Americans, you should be rooting for this man to be successful as President of the United States.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Lee.  Thank you.

And you bring up a name, U.S. Attorney Donoghue.  Where are you, please?  U.S. Attorney.

REPRESENTATIVE ZELDIN:  He’s out of the country.

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, okay.

REPRESENTATIVE ZELDIN:  Otherwise he would be here.

THE PRESIDENT:  I was just trying to figure out why we didn’t introduce him — only because he’s not here.  But he’s doing a great job.

REPRESENTATIVE ZELDIN:  Yes, he is.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  Thank you very much.

Geri.

COMMISSIONER HART:  Thank you, Mr. President.  And thank you for this opportunity to speak with you today on this important topic.  I represent the hardworking men and women of the Suffolk County Police Department, and I echo my partner Patty (ph) Ryder’s sentiments to thank you for your leadership on this critical issue.

Just two years ago, in 2016, Suffolk County experienced some of the most devastating and tragic events in our county’s history.  On September 13th, 2016, Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas, two beautiful young girls, were killed in a senseless, violent, and outrageous manner.  These high school students were murdered shortly after one of the girls had argued with an MS-13 member in school.

Days later, the skeletal remains of three young men were discovered in Brentwood, all of whom are believed to have been murdered by MS-13.  Over the next few months, the murders continued, and culminated, in April of 2017, with the quadruple homicide in Central Islip.

These killings shook our communities and sparked a commitment among the Suffolk County Police Department to form a gang eradication strategy to protect our residents and get these MS-13 members off our streets.

As a result, the Suffolk County Police Department has worked extensively with all our law enforcement partners to implement a multi-prong strategy: enhanced and targeted police presence; increased collaborative efforts to gather, collect, and share intelligence; relentless targeting and enforcement of known MS-13 gang members for arrest, prosecution, and removal; federal prosecutions of MS-13 gang members and its leadership, under the RICO Statute; a strong emphasis on community relations; and significant investments in gang prevention and intervention strategies, with a particular focus on unaccompanied alien children.

Since September of 2016, the Department’s multifaceted approach has resulted in 355 arrests of 235 MS-13 gang members.  There has not been an MS-13 murder in Suffolk County since April of 2017.  MS-13 sustains itself by constantly recruiting new members, and particularly minors.  MS-13 members recruit children placed in communities in Suffolk County through the UAC program.

Since 2014, 4,965 UACs have been placed in Suffolk County, making it the largest recipient of UACs in the nation.  While the vast majority of these children live law-abiding lives, many of them are susceptible to gang recruitment.  They are young, alone; adjusting to a new country, culture, and language; and are seeking a sense of belonging.

This is compounded by the fact that the sponsors of these children, in some cases, prove not to be suitable guardians.  The current vetting and screening system of sponsors is in dire need of improvement.  It’s vital that, if the federal government places UACs in our community, it’s only after proper screening of sponsors followed by measures to ensure proper guardian compliance.  Your assistance in this oversight would be crucial.

As I mentioned, the Suffolk County Police Department has enhanced and targeted police presence and patrols in affected areas in order to effectively destabilize this gang.  We will continue to utilize this strategy and assign manpower wherever it’s needed.  We will not let up.  The Department is committed to eradicating MS-13 from our community.

We are grateful for the commitment and support of the President and the federal government on this important matter.  Within the last year, the Suffolk County Police Department received a grant of $500,000, through the Project Safe Neighborhoods, and I thank you for that.

However, we could certainly use additional funding to assist in offsetting additional policing efforts and costs moving forward.  I can’t miss out on that opportunity.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re right.

COMMISSIONER HART:  Mr. President, we appreciate this opportunity to speak with you.  We are committed to having this dialogue further, in order to protect and serve all the residents of Suffolk County.  And I thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much, Geri.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  And you’re right, and you should get more.

I think what we’ll do is we’ll close it out with Peter later.  But, Robert, I would love to hear from you.  Would love to hear from Elizabeth.  Maybe you go ahead.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

MICKENS:  I’d like to say thank you, Mr. President, for all the hard work that you’ve been doing since you got into office, with help eradicating this gang, help bringing some type of peace to our home — even though it’s still not going to be the same.

For those who don’t know, who haven’t been through this, we have to go through every day.  It’s an ongoing struggle.  It’s not easy for us, especially me, to wake up, look down the hallway, and not see my daughter laying in her bed or me waking her up for school in the morning.  It’s very difficult.

You know, we missed two birthdays of hers.  This would have been they’re graduating year, this year.  And it’s very sad that all these loopholes for all these past couple of years, decades that have been allowing these criminals to come into our country, into our towns, and into our states and do whatever they want, and they feel they could get away with it.

That’s why, Mr. President, I’m glad that you’re at the forefront of this fight and that you’re taking this very seriously.  This is a fight, in my opinion, that should have been happening a long time ago.  I don’t know why it hasn’t.  But thank you for doing what you’re doing right now.  And I do honor what you’re doing, and I believe that you are going to do your best to eradicate this gang and all other gangs.

You know, it’s one thing for children to have a little argument, a little fist fight — walk away the next day.  But to murder another student, your fellow classmate that you see every day, you’re not — in my opinion, you’re not an ordinary human.

You know, whatever they believe to make them do this, to make them gain recognition inside their gang, then come later on to find out that if they do something wrong they will be eliminated also by their own gang members.

These children are not using they head.  I’m not sure if it’s because they’re alone, they’re scared, they’re being pressured.  It’s a lot.  But these children, they really need to stop hurting each other.  Because if these children are our future, we’re not going to have a future.  We really won’t.

And I really do believe that, with the President’s help, and Nassau and Suffolk County Commissioner, and to the other 49 states, we will win this war against MS-13 and other gangs, because our streets should not have to be bloodshed.  Our streets should be filled with children riding bikes, playing kickball, basketball, baseball, whatever they love to do to make them happy.

Us, as parents, should not have to bury our child.  And it’s just hard.  It really is hard.  You know, there’s people every day who question what the President says, and I try to explain to them the best that I can, but they’re not seeing the bigger picture.  It hit home with him because he’s a fellow Long Islander.

And we can’t have children kill children anymore.  You know, we — it’s going to be a division amongst communities, eventually, if this doesn’t stop.  There’s already a division now between protestors and the ones who are sticking behind our President.

As far as the protestors, they’re not seeing the bigger picture because they’re not living the life that we have to go through every day.  If they were to see how we have to live every day, wake up — sometimes I forget and I feel that she is in her room, and I’m ready to go pick on her or do something that a father and daughter would normally do.  They don’t — they’re not living through that.  They’re not living through the pain where, okay, for a while we could be fine; the next thing you know, something that would spark a memory of our loved one, and it could bring us back to times and places that we try not to remember that’s still going to be in our mind until the — you know, until we rest in peace.

And what they have done to us — we have learned to take a tragedy into something positive.  We’re standing here — we’re sitting here, we’re giving speeches, we give comments, we give our concerns, we try to stay active in the community just to reach out to those who may be afraid to speak up or to say something.

And it’s very important for us people in the community to come together with our local law enforcement to help get rid of these members off our streets, out of our schools.  Put them where they belong: in prison.  (Applause.)

And I would like to say, thank you to everybody up here on the panel for all the hard work and the dedication that you’re putting forward to this.

Obviously, this is a very touching subject because there’s immigration involved, but they have to realize America is based off of immigration.  Everybody who came here as an immigrant wanted the American Dream.  The American Dream is still there.  But if you’re going to come here with acts of violence, you can stay in your own country with that, because we don’t need it here anymore.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Robert.  So beautiful.  Thank you, Robert.  Incredible.  That’s incredible.  Thanks.

And the American Dream is coming back bigger and better than ever.  You know that.

And I have to say, the protestors, they’re not so big anymore.  They’re dwindling.  They’re getting it.  Everyone is getting it.  And what you just said is beautiful, and we appreciate it.  Thank you.  Really nice.

Elizabeth, would you like to say something?  (Applause.)  And thank you, Robert.

ALVARADO:  Every day I wake up, I feel like she’s coming home.  But we have to help our children.  We have to educate them.  We have to, you know, look into the schools and make sure that your kids are okay.

My daughter was only 15 years old, and she act like a 30-year-old.  She already knew what she wanted in her life.  And at 5:23, every day of my life, I feel like she’s going to come through that door.  But I know she’s not.

And for her legacy, I will try to do the best I can to educate parents, children, little kids.  If you need to talk to me, and you’re scared, I’m here.  I will always be here, because my daughter wants me to be here.  And I miss her very much.  There’s not one day that goes by that I don’t think about her.

So I just hope that my message comes out, that we all need to be educated on how MS-13 is.  I appreciate everybody’s love and friendship, and meeting the President.  Who would ever thought that I would do that?  But I met remarkable people in my journey, and I hope they stick by me so that we can put a closure to this.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Elizabeth.  Beautiful.  Thank you, Elizabeth.  We will stick by you, too.  We will stick by you.  Thank you very much.

Freddy, do you want to start?  Evelyn, go ahead.

RODRIGUEZ:  I want to thank you for having us here today to discuss what’s been going on here on the Island and throughout the United States.

PARTICIPANT:  Check the mic.

RODRIGUEZ:  Sorry.  I want to thank everyone for being here.  And, Mr. President, thank you again for listening to us and our needs in eradicating these MS-13 individuals.

My daughter Kayla was a beautiful girl.  She had dreams, and they took that away from her.  That’s not right.  And how these kids were murdered, tortured, is unacceptable.  We should not be tolerating this behavior at all whatsoever.

Law enforcement, thank you so much for your hard work and dedication in keeping our kids safe, our communities, and working together as one and helping out each other with information that you guys receive.  And again, thank you, Donald Trump, for supporting our law enforcement to the fullest capacity that they need.

You said the other day that these individuals are animals.  You’re correct.  They are animals in how they kill, how they get these kids and they torture them.  No child should ever, ever have to suffer.  As parents, we have to endure that pain, that numbness every day of our lives.

My daughter, Nisa supposed to be graduating in a couple of weeks.  We’re supposed to be getting, you know, graduation outfits, having a party.  We’re unable to do that.  No parent should ever have to go through this, at all.  We have families here from the four boys from Central Islip: Jose Peña, Jorge (inaudible), Michael, and Jefferson.  Their families are suffering every day, but they thank you for your hard work in trying to make the situation a little bit better.

THE PRESIDENT:  Please stand.  Please.  Please.  (Applause.)

RODRIGUEZ:  People have to realize that these situations originate in school.  It plays out in school, and it comes out into the streets.  We need to focus on what’s happening in the schools.  We have to put in professional educators in there to help the teachers, the school administration how to handle this.  They say they know how to handle it; they really don’t.

Two years, as you’ve heard before, I was fighting with the school district — two years, for my daughter — and they did nothing.  In fact, they lied in my face.

So we can’t tolerate that behavior either, in the schools.  When there’s a problem, they need to notify.  When there’s a threat, they need to notify law enforcement immediately.  They need to get help.  And if they say they have it under control, they’re basically lying in your faces.  They do not have this under control.

These people, these individuals, they know what they’re doing.  They know how to work.  At one point they were called “organized crime.”  They know how to work it.  We need to stop it.

All originates in school, and it plays out in the streets.  And a lot of these kids are innocent.  They don’t know, they don’t have the guidance.  These kids are coming in unaccompanied.  They don’t know who to turn to.  They’re afraid.  They’re coming from a country that they were afraid with their law enforcement — people they couldn’t trust.

Here, we have to make sure that the resources and the programs are there for them.  And the ones that are coming in here unaccompanied, being sponsored, we need to investigate the sponsors to make sure they’re legit.  And that one phone call that they do for a follow up — has to be more than that.  Home visits — making sure that these kids are going in a straight line, they’re not going off of that straight line.  They need to follow rules.

Whether you’re black, white, Hispanic, green, purple, alien out of this space, there is a consequence.  When you do a crime, there’s a consequence.  You’re not going to get off easy.  And especially, especially when you murder a child.  That is unacceptable.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Freddy?  Please.

CUEVAS:  First and foremost, Mr. President and everybody on this panel — there’s too many names I can say at once — I would like to say, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.  This is the third time that you visit Long Island — second time, excuse me — and I appreciate everything and all the efforts that everybody is doing back in D.C. as well.

And also would like to thank Peter King as well, for giving us this privilege to have all the heads of the departments and states to come here and realize the problem that we’re enduring.

My daughter was a beautiful girl.  She was a person that was — had achievements, had goals.  And those were taken from her.  She’s not here no longer because of the situation that these individuals — like you said, I think that you used the correct word, “animals,” that they are — took her away from us and destroyed her dream.

We appreciate everything that’s being done, and we just need to tackle the issue stronger.  And hopefully we can eliminate them and make sure that it doesn’t happen again to any of the families or anybody else within our world.

Thank you once again everyone.  Appreciate it.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you.

Peter.

REPRESENTATIVE KING:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Again, let me thank you for doing this.  And let me also acknowledge our Town Supervisor Joe Saladino, who is here today and doing a great job.  (Applause.)

And, Mr. President, all I can say is, first of all, thank you for doing this.  It’s beyond description the good you’re doing by this.  I think this is one of the most important and significant events ever on Long Island because it addresses an issue which local people have been facing for a long time.  But for the first time, the federal government at your level — the U.S. Attorney has always been trying, and ICE, and others — but no one from your level has ever, ever given the attention you have.

So I want to thank you very much for what you’re doing.  Thank you for your dedication.  Thank you for always being there.  And they can protest all they want.  We’re with you.  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Peter.  (Applause.)

Well, I just want to — I really want to thank all of the families.  And Robert, Elizabeth — so beautiful.  Thank you very much.  I really appreciate that.  That was incredible.  And Freddy, Evelyn, thank you very much.

CUEVAS:  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Not much you can say other than we are really working hard on this problem.  This is a horrible problem.  We’re bringing them out, and our people are rougher than them.  That’s the only language they understand.  It would be wonderful if we could talk nicely and softly, but the only language they understand is that toughness.  And, Tom, you’ve displayed it; your people have displayed it.  Everybody up here has displayed it.  Everybody.

But the records are being set, but they still keep coming in.  We need immigration laws.  We need strong laws.  And we’re going to get them.  It’s moving.  It’s harder and harder for the Democrats to fight it.  Look, I’d like to say it’s just people doing it.  They happen to be Democrats.  They’re very well unified in this regard, but they’re starting to break up now.  Finally, they’re starting to break up.

And the other day was actually a great day, when they were coming to the defense of MS-13.  They’re coming to the defense, and that was the end of them because nobody, nobody understood it.  Nobody.  When they started rationalizing, and — maybe it was the way they grew up.  And maybe it was, but we’re stuck with a big problem.

Again, you heard the numbers.  You heard what a number of the folks have said.  We’re taking them out by the thousands, by the thousands.  And they’re being thrown out of the country.  They’re being put in jails.

When they’re put in jails, that costs us a fortune for years, and years, and years as a country.  But when we throw them out, they go back on the streets; they don’t go anywhere.  The countries don’t want them.  In some cases, the countries don’t take them.  But now, with us, they take them.  With the previous administration, they’d say, “No, we don’t want them.”  With us, it’s a much different deal.  They take them, but you don’t know what they do with them.  Do they let them out?  Do they put them in jail?  Are they incarcerated?  They’re murderers, in many cases.  Are they incarcerated?

So we’re very tough, but we’re getting a lot tougher.  But we do need law changes.  We need those laws to change.  Because we can be really smart and we can really know what we’re doing — which we do — these are all incredible professionals, every one up here; incredible professionals.  But when the laws are no good, the laws are horrible, there’s not much you can do beyond what we’re doing.

We’re down on immigration crossing the border — more than 40 percent.  We were actually down 77 percent.  Our economy is doing so well, people are coming across the border.  The economy is — it’s one bad thing about having a great economy, frankly.  But the economy is doing so well that people are crossing the border.  In many cases, they’re crossing for reasons of good, but in many cases they’re crossing for reasons of really, really bad.

But these people are incredible people.  And I want to thank you all for being here, too.  I know what you’ve gone through.  I just want to thank you very much for being here.

We are making tremendous strides.  We will continue.  And in a not-too-distant future, I feel totally confident that this product — this problem will be eradicated.  We’re not going to have this problem.  I essentially grew up on Long Island.  And when I hear Hempstead and Mineola and all of the places that I know so well, that you can’t walk outside — this used to be where you’d leave your doors unlocked, you’d leave your windows open, always.  And you have gang members now that are so rough, people are afraid to go outside.

We have these trucks coming in; they used to call them “paddy wagons.”  I don’t know what they call them anymore.  What do they call them, Tom?  But we have the ICE guys coming in, and I’ll tell you something — the ICE guys are a lot rougher than the MS-13 guys.  They’re rougher, they’re tougher, and they’re meaner.  (Applause.)  And they throw them into — I don’t want to mention the name of a town, but a town that I know very well.  They throw these guys into these wagons, these rolling jails.  And you have people applauding.  It’s almost like a war, where you’re getting rid of somebody that’s occupying your nation.

And for me to go through and be in this position, and see towns that I’ve known all my life — I grew up here; I know every one of the towns — and it’s unthinkable that it’s almost like an occupied territory, where your children are afraid to go out, and in many cases, if they go out, bad things happen.

But when you see the scene — and I saw it, Tom; I saw it — of guys being thrown right into these wagons, being taken away, and the crowd is cheering — cheering.  And in one way it’s beautiful, and another way it’s terrible that we’re having to even conceivably do that, especially in a place that you’ve known so well all your life that was safe.

I just want to thank the law enforcement, because what they go through and the restrictions that are put on them are incredible:  They got to be nice; they can’t be too tough.  They have to be gentle.  They can’t touch, they can’t do anything.  And they do an incredible job.  And people understand it.

And to law enforcement — I have to tell you, because I’ve gotten to know the heart of this country maybe better than anybody, and that’s why I’m here.  The people out there love you and respect you.  You may read a lot of stuff.  I will tell you, you are the most respected people there are.  (Applause.)  And on behalf of everybody, I want to thank you very much for what you do.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

END

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-roundtable-discussion-immigration-bethpage-ny/

Story 2: Governor Abbott Roundtable Meeting in Stopping Mass Shootings in Gun Free Zones Such As Texas Santa Fe High School Shootings With 10 Dead and 14 Wounded –Videos

See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

Second day of Santa Fe shooting roundtable covers mental health and gun regulation

Texas official on school shooting: ‘We cannot…say it’s the gun – it’s us as a nation’

Gov. Abbott leads roundtable discussion on school safety

Alerrt active shooter training may have saved lives in Santa Fe

 

Texas Lt. Governor: Need armed teachers, fewer school entrances

Word for Word: Texas Gov. Abbott: “We Need to Do More Than Just Pray” (C-SPAN)

WATCH: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott delivers remarks on Santa Fe school shooting

Police chief discusses school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas

Shooting survivor says shooting was inevitable

Lawyers for Texas shooting suspect speak out

Here are the Texas shooting victims’ stories

New details emerge on how the Texas school shooting was carried out

Pres. Donald Trump remarks on Santa Fe school shooting in speech at the Prison Reform Summit

 

Santa Fe High school shooter studied previous mass shootings and used tactics from them in his own massacre

  • Dimitrios Pagourtzis burst into an art classroom with shotgun, yelling ‘surprise’ 
  • The 17-year-old is in custody and investigators revealed he studied massacres 
  • Among those killed are an art teacher, investigators trying to work out motive
  • Pagourtzis acted alone, spared students he liked so they could tell his story

A teenager who opened fire in a Texas high school killing ten people studied previous mass shootings and used them when carrying out his own massacre, it was reported.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, a 17-year-old Santa Fe High School junior, allegedly burst into an art classroom yelling ‘Surprise!’ while brandishing his father’s shotgun and pistol, before opening fire and gunning down students and teachers.

He was taken into custody Friday morning and two other ‘persons of interest’ have also been interviewed by investigators.

Dimitri Pagourtzis, 17, is being held without bond in Galveston County Jail in Texas

Dimitri Pagourtzis, 17, is being held without bond in Galveston County Jail in Texas

Memorials have sprung up around Santa Fe, Texas for those killed in the high school massacre

Two teachers and eight pupils were killed when Pagourtzis allegedly burst into a classroom and yelled ‘surprise’

A source told ABC News Pagourtzis ‘studied previous mass shootings and used aspects of those [attacks] in his own shooting’.

Investigators have also determined that they don’t expect to charge anyone else besides the alleged shooter, sources said.

Substitute teacher Ann Perkins, 64, art teacher Cynthia Tisdale and students Sabika Sheikh, Chris Stone, Kim Vaughan, Angelique Ramirez, Aaron Kyle McLeod, Christian Garcia and Shana Fisher have been confirmed dead.

Pagourtzis also said he spared the students he liked so he could ‘have his story told,’ according to court documents.

Police are now trying to piece together what motive ‘quiet’ Pagourtzis had for carrying out the shooting, the 22nd school shooting in 2018 alone.

A church service was held at Arcadia First Baptist Church near Santa Fe High School on Sunday to honor the lives lost

Angelique Ramirez

Angelique Ramirez (left) and Kim Vaughan (right) were confirmed dead by friends and family on Friday evening

Pagourtzis (circled) was a member of a traditional Greek dance group with a local church

Pagourtzis (circled) was a member of a traditional Greek dance group with a local church

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Pagourtzis wrote about planning the attack in journals on his computer and in his cellphone that police obtained.

‘Not only did he want to commit the shooting but he wanted to commit suicide after the shooting,’ Abbott said, adding that Pagourtzis told authorities he ‘didn’t have the courage’ to take his own life.

How the Santa Fe High School shooting unfolded

7.32am – Law enforcement responded to reports of an active shooter

8.02am – Dimitrios Pagourtzis surrenders to cops

8.05am – President Donald Trump tweets ‘School shooting in Texas. Early reports not looking good. God bless all!’

8.13am –  Santa Fe Independent School District confirms there was an active shooter and the district has initiated a lockdown

8.30am – Santa Fe High School is evacuated

9am – Assistant Principal confirms the shooter had been arrested

9.15am – Suspected explosive devices are found

10am – Law enforcement confirms eight people are dead

10.45am – Death toll updated to between eight and 10

11.18am –  Santa Fe ISD says explosives were found at the high school

Pagourtzis played on the high school’s junior varsity football team and was a member of a traditional Greek dance group with a local Orthodox church.

Acquaintances described him as quiet and unassuming, an avid video game player who routinely wore a black trench coat and black boots to class.

Friends said he had been bullied, including by coaches who told him he ‘smelled bad’.

The other students detained have not been named.

Police were hunting for explosive devices in two homes after finding pipe bombs scattered around the school in the wake of the shooting.

Pagourtzis used his father’s legally owned shotgun and .38-revolver in the massacre, officials said. It’s not clear whether the father knew his son had taken them.

The suspect’s father Antonios Pagourtzis, 63, runs a ship repair and industrial cleaning firm.

He was born in Greece and ‘liked’ NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesh on Facebook.

As well as killing 10, the shooting spree also injured 10 more, including John Barnes, 49, a retired Houston police officer now working as the Santa Fe resource officer who was first to confront the shooter.

The hero cop was shot in the arm and was hospitalized in critical condition after losing significant amounts of blood.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5752409/Santa-Fe-High-school-shooter-studied-previous-mass-shootings-used-tactics-massacre.html#ixzz5GSXCp5IA

 

Mass shootings in the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Total U.S. deaths by year in mass shootings: 1982 to 2016.[1]

Map of mass shootings in 2015.

There is no fixed definition of a mass shooting,[2] but a common definition is an act of violence — excluding gang killings, domestic violence, or terrorist acts sponsored by an organization — in which a gunman kills at least four victims. Using this definition, one study found that nearly one-third of the world’s public mass shootings between 1966 and 2012 (90 of 292 incidents) occurred in the United States,[3][4] which has more mass shootings than any other country.[5][6][7][8] Using the same definition, Gun Violence Archive records 152 mass shootings in the United States between 1967 and May 2018, averaging eight fatalities per incident when the perpetrator’s death is included.[9]

The overwhelming majority of perpetrators are male and act alone,[10] and they generally either commit suicide or are restrained or killed by law enforcement officers or civilians.[11]

Definition

There is no fixed definition of a mass shooting in the United States.[2] The Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012, signed into law by Congress in January 2013, defines a “mass killing” as one resulting in at least 3 victims, excluding the perpetrator.[12][2][13][14] In 2015, the Congressional Research Service defined a mass shooting as “a multiple homicide incident in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms, within one event, and in one or more locations in close proximity”.[15] A broader definition, as used by the Gun Violence Archive, is that of “4 or more shot or killed, not including the shooter”.[16] This definition, of four people shot regardless of whether or not that results in injury or death, is often used by the press and non-profit organizations.[17][18][19][20][21]

Frequency

Memorial at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign following the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, which resulted in 59 deaths and 851 non-fatal injuries.

Studies indicate that the rate at which public mass shootings occur has tripled since 2011. Between 1982 and 2011, a mass shooting occurred roughly once every 200 days. However, between 2011 and 2014 that rate has accelerated greatly with at least one mass shooting occurring every 64 days in the United States.[22]

In recent years, the number of public mass shootings has increased substantially, although there has been an approximately 50% decrease in firearm homicides in the nation overall since 1993. The decrease in firearm homicides has been attributed to better policing, a better economy and environmental factors such as the removal of lead from gasoline.[23] However, this does not account for an increase in firearm injuries or suicides, nor explain the increase in mass shootings.

Differing sources

A comprehensive report by USA Today tracked all mass killings from 2006 through 2017 in which the perpetrator willfully killed 4 or more people. For mass killings by firearm for instance, it found 271 incidents with a total of 1,358 victims.[24] Mother Jones listed seven mass shootings, defined as indiscriminate rampages in public places resulting in four or more victims killed,[25] in the U.S. for 2015.[26] An analysis by Michael Bloomberg’s gun violence prevention group, Everytown for Gun Safety, identified 110 mass shootings, defined as shootings in which at least four people were murdered with a firearm, between January 2009 and July 2014; at least 57% were related to domestic or family violence.[27][28]

Other media outlets have reported that hundreds of mass shootings take place in the United States in a single calendar year, citing a crowd-funded website known as Shooting Tracker which defines a mass shooting as having four or more people injured or killed.[19] In December 2015, The Washington Post reported that there had been 355 mass shootings in the United States so far that year.[29] In August 2015, The Washington Post reported that the United States was averaging one mass shooting per day.[30] An earlier report had indicated that in 2015 alone, there had been 294 mass shootings that killed or injured 1,464 people.[31] Shooting Tracker and Mass Shooting Tracker, the two sites that the media have been citing, have been criticized for using a broader criteria — counting four victims injured as a mass shooting — thus producing much higher figures.[32][33]

Contributing factors

Several possible factors may work together to create a fertile environment for mass murder in the United States.[34] Most commonly suggested include:

  1. A history of adverse childhood experiences (e.g., abuse of children emotionally, physically, sexually) leading to adult criminality[35]
  2. The desire to seek revenge for a long history of being bullied.[36]
  3. Desire for fame and notoriety.[34][3]
  4. The copycat phenomenon.[3]
  5. Failure of government background checks due to incomplete databases and/or staff shortages.[37][38]
  6. Higher accessibility and ownership of guns.[34][3][39] The US has the highest per-capita gun ownership in the world with 88.8 firearms per 100 people; the second highest is Yemen with 54.8 firearms per 100 people.[34]
  7. The widespread chronic gap between people’s expectations for themselves and their actual achievement,[34] and individualistic culture.[40]
  8. Mental illness[41][42][43] and its treatment (or the lack thereof) with psychiatric drugs[44]. This is controversial. Many of the mass shooters in the U.S. suffered from mental illness, but the estimated number of mental illness cases has not increased as significantly as the number of mass shootings.[3]

Weapons used

Several types of weapons have been used in mass shootings in the United States including rifles, handguns, and shotguns. In contrast to the rest of the world, where the perpetrator typically has only one gun, more than half of US mass shootings are committed with multiple weapons.[3] While pistols are by far the most prevalent weapons in US mass shootings,[45] AR-15 style rifles have been used in a number of the deadliest incidents, and have come to be widely characterized in the mainstream media as the weapon of choice for perpetrators of these crimes.[46][47][48][49][50]

Deadliest mass shootings

The following mass shootings are the deadliest to have occurred in modern U.S. history (1949 to present). Only incidents with ten or more fatalities are included.[51]

dagger Was previously the deadliest mass shooting
Incident Year Deaths Injuries Type of firearm(s) used Ref(s)
1 Las Vegas shooting 2017 59 (inc. the perp.) 851 Semi-automatic rifles [52][53]
2 Orlando nightclub shooting dagger 2016 50 (inc. the perp.) 58 Semi-automatic rifle and pistol [52][53]
3 Virginia Tech shooting dagger 2007 33 (inc. the perp.) 23 Semi-automatic pistols [52]
4 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting 2012 28 (inc. the perp.) 2 Semi-automatic rifle and pistol [52]
5 Sutherland Springs church shooting 2017 27 (inc. the perp.)[nb 1] 20 Semi-automatic rifle [54][53]
6 Luby’s shooting dagger 1991 24 (inc. the perp.) 27 Semi-automatic pistols [52]
7 San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre dagger 1984 23 (inc. the perp.)[nb 2] 19 Multiple types of firearms [52]
8 University of Texas tower shooting dagger 1966 18 (inc. the perp.)[nb 3] 31 Multiple types of firearms [52]
9 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting 2018 17 17 Semi-automatic rifle [55]
10 San Bernardino attack 2015 16 (inc. both perps.) 24 Semi-automatic rifles [52][53]
11 Edmond post office shooting 1986 15 (inc. the perp.) 6 Semi-automatic pistols [52]
Columbine High School massacre 1999 15 (inc. both perps.) 24 Multiple types of firearms [56]
13 Binghamton shootings 2009 14 (inc. the perp.) 4 Semi-automatic pistols [56]
Fort Hood shooting 2009 14 [nb 4] 33 (inc. the perp.) Semi-automatic pistols [56]
15 Camden shootings dagger 1949 13 3 Semi-automatic pistol [56]
Wilkes-Barre shootings 1982 13 1 Semi-automatic rifle [56]
Wah Mee massacre 1983 13 1 Multiple types of firearms [57]
Washington Navy Yard shooting 2013 13 (inc. the perp.) 8 Semi-automatic pistol and shotgun [56]
19 Aurora shooting 2012 12 70 Multiple types of firearms [56][53]
20 Easter Sunday massacre 1975 11 0 Semi-automatic pistols and revolver [58]
Geneva County massacre 2009 11 (inc. the perp.) 6 Multiple types of firearms [56]
22 Palm Sunday massacre 1984 10 0 Handguns [59]
GMAC shootings 1990 10 (inc. the perp.) 6 Semi-automatic rifle [52]
Atlanta shootings 1999 10 (inc. the perp.) 13 Semi-automatic pistols and revolver [52]
Red Lake shootings 2005 10 (inc. the perp.) 5 Semi-automatic pistols and shotgun [56]
Umpqua Community College shooting 2015 10 (inc. the perp.) 8 Semi-automatic pistols and revolver [56]
Santa Fe High School shooting 2018 10 13 Shotgun and revolver [60]

See also

Notes

  1. Jump up^ The fatality total includes an unborn child.
  2. Jump up^ The fatality total includes an unborn child.
  3. Jump up^ The fatality total includes an unborn child.
  4. Jump up^ The fatality total includes an unborn child.

References

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

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott touts immediate plans to stop school shootings, but avoids talk of a special session

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott hosted his first of three roundtable discussions on gun violence at the Capitol Tuesday.

Gov. Greg Abbott (top center, in front of U.S. flag) held the first of three roundtable discussions on school safety in Austin on May 22, 2018, in the aftermath of the Santa Fe high school shooting.  Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

After a closed door meeting Tuesday on school safety and gun violence, Gov. Greg Abbott proposed a series of initiatives to prevent future school shootings, though he largely avoided talk of a special legislative session to immediately pass new laws.

The roundtable discussion was the first of three scheduled this week to discuss school safety and gun violence following a massacre at Santa Fe High School last week.

Abbott, a Republican, listed off numerous ideas and suggestions that came out of the three-hour meeting, but focused on four specific ideas that he said could be implemented before students come back to school next fall.

They included trying to provide a grant to the Texas School Safety Center to train local school districts and law enforcement agencies on collaboration, creating a statewide threat assessment system, expanding a Lubbock program aimed at preventing at-risk students from committing violent acts and creating a list of recommendations for all schools on how they can immediately make their schools safer, like re-evaluating entrances and exits and placing law enforcement inside schools.

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“They’re going to be some of the simplest but most effective strategies that can be employed to make sure that our schools are safer places when our kids walk into those schools next August,” Abbott told the press after the meeting.

Other ideas that Abbott mentioned were increasing the number of school counselors, creating incentives for students to share information about potential threats and evaluating an expansion of a state program that arms teachers. He also spoke of a vague idea of mandating parent training to prevent shootings and spoke at length about creating an app that would allow students, parents and law enforcement to monitor school security cameras.

The governor focused largely on what could be done without legislative approval. When asked if a special session was needed to combat the issue of school shootings, as several politicians have suggested, he brushed it off.

“That’s a process question,” he said. “Right now we’re focused on substance issues. We need solutions first.”

Attendees of Tuesday’s discussion included leaders from the Texas House and Senate and the heads of the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Department of Public Safety. There were also local law enforcement and school officials, including the district attorney who will lead the prosecution against 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the accused shooter in Friday’s killings.

Most of them expressed optimism after the meeting.

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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — who raised some eyebrows when he mentioned shortly after the shooting Friday that a possible solution could be to remodel Texas schools to limit the number of entrances and exits — said the meeting exceeded expectations.

“You could feel a unification of voices around the issues he discussed from various school districts and law enforcement,” he told The Texas Tribune.

State Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican from Houston who leads the State Affairs Committee, and her colleague, Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat and chair of the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee, both echoed Patrick’s optimism after the meeting and were happy with many of the proposals. But Whitmire said they’ll have to be careful to avoid a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

He said that’s especially true when talking about parental involvement; one idea was mandating parental training. It’s important to understand Houston is different than Round Rock, Whitmire said.

“I know a school district in the Houston area that’s got 20,000 students who’ve got undocumented parents,” he said. “So when we try to incorporate parent involvement and hold parents accountable, you’ve got to face reality that some parents are not welcome to the school.”

Wednesday’s discussion will focus on gun regulations, mental health solutions and underlying causes of gun violence, Abbott said just before Tuesday’s meeting. It will include advocates both for and against further gun restrictions, mental health experts and social media experts, he said.

Thursday will be a day for the victims of mass shootings in Texas, including the school shooting in Santa Fe that killed 10 and one at a church in Sutherland Springs last fall that killed 26. The exact list of attendees for Thursday has not yet been released.

Democrats have largely welcomed a discussion on gun violence but criticized the effectiveness of any changes currently proposed by Republican leadership. State Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said Friday that the state should also pass universal background checks and require the reporting of stolen guns.

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And in a news release Tuesday morning, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, said excluding several groups who want stricter gun regulation, including Moms Demand Action and March for Our Lives, will limit the potential for meaningful action. Texas Gun Sense, which advocates for further gun restrictions, is expected to attend Abbott’s discussion Wednesday.

After the meeting Tuesday, Abbott said the results of the roundtable shows that politician’s actions are already more than just talk.

“We came up with very solid solutions, and now it’s just a matter of implementing those solutions,” he said

Read related Tribune coverage:

https://www.texastribune.org/2018/05/22/texas-gov-greg-abbott-discusses-santa-fe-shooting-and-school-safety-be/

 

Story 3: President Trump Delivers Keynote Address at Susan B. Anthony List 11th Annual Campaign for Life Gala — Videos

President Trump delivers address at Campaign for Life Gala

Susan B. Anthony List’s 2018 Mission: Elections for Life

President Trump Delivers Remarks at the Susan B. Anthony List 11th Annual Campaign for Life Gala

 

President Trump Delivers Remarks at the Susan B. Anthony List 11th Annual Campaign for Life Gala

Susan B. Anthony List

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Susan B. Anthony List
SBAList.jpg
Founded February 4, 1993
Re-organized 1997
Founder Rachel MacNair[1][2]
Type 501(c)(4) non-profit
Focus Anti-abortion political advocacy
Location
Area served
United States
Members
c. 365,000
Key people
Marjorie Dannenfelser(President)
Emily Buchanan (Executive Director)
Website http://www.sba-list.org

The Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) is a 501(c)(4) non-profit[3] organization that seeks to reduce and ultimately end abortion in the U.S.[4] by supporting anti-abortion politicians, primarily women,[5] through its SBA List Candidate Fund political action committee.[6][7] In 2011, it reported it had 333,000 members.[8]

Founded in 1993 by sociologist and psychologist Rachel MacNair, the SBA List was a response to the success of the pro-choice group EMILY’s List, which was partly responsible for bringing about the 1992 “Year of the Woman” in which a significant number of women, all pro-choice, were elected to Congress. MacNair wished to help anti-abortion women gain high public office. She recruited Marjorie Dannenfelser and Jane Abraham as the first experienced leaders of SBA List. Dannenfelser is now president of the organization and Abraham is chairwoman of the board. Named for suffragist Susan B. Anthony, SBA List identifies itself with Anthony and several 19th-century women’s rights activists; SBA List argues that Anthony and other early feminists were opposed to abortion. Regarding Anthony’s beliefs, the SBA List has been challenged by scholars and pro-choice activists. Anthony scholar Ann D. Gordon and Anthony biographer Lynn Sherr write that Anthony “spent no time on the politics of abortion”.[9]

Founding

The formation of the SBA List was catalyzed in March 1992 when Rachel MacNair, head of Feminists for Life, watched a 60 Minutes television documentary profiling IBM-heiress Ellen Malcolm and the successful campaign-funding activities of her Democratic pro-choice group EMILY’s List.[10][11] MacNair, a peace activist and anti-abortion Quaker, was motivated to organize the Susan B. Anthony List for the purpose of countering EMILY’s List by providing early campaign funds to anti-abortion women candidates.[1][10] Led by FFL and MacNair, 15 anti-abortion groups formed an umbrella organization, the National Women’s Coalition for Life (NWCL), which adopted a joint anti-abortion statement on April 3, 1992.[12]

Also inspired by EMILY’s List, in 1992, the WISH List was formed to promote pro-choice candidates who were members of the opposing Republican Party.[13] In November 1992 after many of the pro-choice candidates won their races to create what was termed the “Year of the Woman“, MacNair announced the formation of the SBA List, describing its purpose as endorsing and supporting women who held anti-abortion beliefs without regard to party affiliation.[14] MacNair determined to challenge the EMILY’s List and the WISH List notion that the top female politicians were primarily pro-choice.[15][16] She said the SBA List would not support right-wing political candidates. “We want good records on women’s rights – probably not Phyllis Schlafly“.[14] The NWCL sponsored the SBA List with $2,485 to create it as a political action committee (PAC)[17][18][19] on February 4, 1993, listing MacNair as the first secretary; the group operated out of MacNair’s office inside a crisis pregnancy center on East 47th Street in Kansas City, Missouri.[19][20][21] The first SBA List public event was held the same month at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the National Woman’s Party.[22] Organized by founding board member Susan Gibbs, the “kickoff” event raised “more than $9000”.[23]

Susan B. Anthony and early feminist connection

MacNair named the SBA List after the famous suffragistSusan B. Anthony.[24][25] The leaders of the SBA List say that Anthony was “passionately pro-life”.[26][27] According to the SBA list, Susan B. Anthony “called abortion ‘child murder'”[28] This topic has been subject to a modern-day dispute about Anthony’s views on abortion, with scholars and pro-choice activists “concerned that their heroine is being appropriated”.[29] While Anthony deplored abortion, she never worked against it.[9][30] Anthony scholar Ann D. Gordon and Anthony biographer Lynn Sherr say the quotes SBA List cites are misattributed or taken out of context. Gordon said that Anthony “never voiced an opinion about the sanctity of fetal life … and she never voiced an opinion about using the power of the state to require that pregnancies be brought to term”.[29]

History

Early activities and re-organization[edit]

Founding board member Susan Gibbs, later the communications director for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, said, of the early years for the SBA List, “None of us had political experience. None of us had PAC experience. We just had a passion for being pro-life.”[22] Shortly after its founding, experienced political activists Marjorie Dannenfelser and then Jane Abraham were brought on board — Dannenfelser served as executive director, leading the organization from her home in Arlington, Virginia.[31] In 1994, the SBA List was successful in helping 8 of its 15 selected candidates gain office.[22] In 1996, only two challengers who were financially backed were elected, while five SBA-List-supported incumbents retained their positions; a disappointing election for the group.[10][22]

In 1997, the SBA List was re-organized by Dannenfelser and Abraham into its current form as a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization with a connected PAC, the SBA List Candidate Fund.[6] Abraham became president and Dannenfelser held the position of Chairwoman of the Board.[32] The rules for endorsing and financially supporting candidates were tightened: in addition to the politician having to be female, she must have demonstrated a pro-life record (a simple declaration was not enough), and she must be seen as likely to win her race.[10] In 1998, the SBA List began backing male pro-life candidates as well, endorsing three men in a pilot program.[22] One of the three won election to office: Republican Peter Fitzgerald who received $2,910 from the SBA List to assist him in his $12.3 million win over pro-choice Democrat Carol Moseley Braun in a battle for the U.S. Senate seat in Illinois.[33][34][35] Abraham served as president from 1997 until 2006 when Dannenfelser became president.

In 2000 the SBA List contributed $25,995 to pro-life candidates in contrast to the pro-choice candidates who received $608,273 from the WISH List or $20 million from EMILY’s List.[36][37]

Recent history

Contributions from supporters grew by 50% from 2007 to 2009.[38] As of December 2009, the SBA List had outspent one of its pro-choice counterparts, the National Organization for Women, in every election cycle since 1996.[39]

In April 2003, Representative Marilyn Musgrave (left) received an award from SBA List President Jane Abraham.

Former Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave joined the SBA List in March 2009 and works as a project director and spokesperson.[40] Musgrave had previously been given a pro-life award in 2003 by the SBA List. The organization tried to keep abortion coverage out of any health care reform legislation in 2009 and 2010.[41] It had targeted Senator Bob Casey to ensure abortion was not covered in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA),[42][43]and lobbied for the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to H.R. 3962[44] The group criticized Senator Ben Nelson for what it called a “fake compromise” on abortion in the PPACA[45] and condemned the Christmas Eve passage of the Senate bill.[46]

The group had planned to honor Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) at its March gala, but after Stupak’s deal with President Obama, in which Obama would issue an executive order banning federal funding for abortion under the bill,[47]Stupak was stripped of his “Defender of Life Award” three days before the gala because of the SBA List’s doubts, shared by the most prominent pro-life groups, about the effectiveness of the Executive Order.[48][49] Stupak had told Dannenfelser, “They [the Democratic leadership] know I won’t fold. There is no way.”[50] On the day of the vote, Dannenfelser said she promised Stupak that the SBA List was “going to be involved in your defeat”.[50] In a statement, Dannenfelser said, “We were planning to honor Congressman Stupak for his efforts to keep abortion-funding out of health care reform. We will no longer be doing so…Let me be clear: any representative, including Rep. Stupak, who votes for this health care bill can no longer call themselves ‘pro-life.'”[47] No one received the award in his place, and Dannenfelser instead used the occasion to condemn Stupak.[51] The group dropped its plans to help Stupak fend off a primary challenge[51] from Connie Saltonstall, who was running on a pro-choice platform.[52] Stupak later dropped out of the race, announcing his retirement from Congress.[53]

In 2010, the SBA List hosted events featuring prominent pro-life political figures as speakers, including Sarah Palin, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Michele Bachmann.[54][55]

In August 2010, to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, the SBA List held a colloquium at the Yale Club of New York City, billed as “A Conversation on Pro-Life Feminism”.[56][57] The event featured a panel of five scholars in the fields of law, philosophy, history, political science and sociology, who discussed various concepts of feminism and the possibility of broadening the spectrum of pro-life political candidates to include those with more centrist fiscal views.[56][58]

An SBA List project, “Votes Have Consequences”, was headed by former Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave and was aimed at defeating vulnerable candidates in 2010 who did not vote pro-life on key issues, such as health care reform.[59] Under this project, the group endorsed Dan Coats of Indiana for Senate against Rep. Brad Ellsworth, who had voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[60] In January 2011, along with Americans for Tax Reform and The Daily Caller, the organization sponsored a debate between candidates for chair of the Republican National Committee.[61]

Peter Roff writing for U.S. News and World Report credited the SBA List for the passage in the House of an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood of federal dollars for fiscal year 2011.[62] Writing for In These Times, social media activist Sady Doyle wrote that in striving against Planned Parenthood, the SBA List registered its priority as ending abortion rather than helping women prevent unwanted pregnancies.[63]

In March 2011, the SBA List teamed with Live Action for a bus tour through 13 congressional districts either thanking or condemning their representatives for their votes to defund Planned Parenthood of tax dollars in the Pence Amendment. In response, Planned Parenthood launched its own tour to follow the SBA List bus.[64] The SBA List also bought $200,000 in radio and television ads backing six Republicans who voted to defund Planned Parenthood in response to a $200,000 ad buy by Planned Parenthood against the Pence Amendment.[65]

In July 2011, the SBA List held a rally in New Hampshire supporting the New Hampshire Executive Council‘s decision to cut off state funding for Planned Parenthood.[66] Spokeswoman Marilyn Musgrave, a former United States congresswoman, said the Council’s decision “really will save unborn lives”.[66] The SBA List has lobbied for passage of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a federal bill which would ban abortions after 20 weeks.[67] Also in 2011, the SBA List founded the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Named after Charlotte Denman Lozier, the Institute has served as the SBA List’s research and education institute ever since.[68]

Strategies

The SBA List employs many strategies in order to attract the public to its mission. Lawyer and Scholar Tali Leinwand explains that the SBA List encourages Republicans not to endorse personhood amendments, and attempts to link the pro-life movement to less controversial causes like opposition to the Affordable Care Act.[69] These strategies, Leinwand argues, attempt to de-stigmatize the pro-life movement.[69]

Elections

The SBA List Candidate Fund primarily endorses pro-life women, and pro-life men running against pro-choice women.[70]

2006 elections

The 2006 midterm elections were very successful for the SBA list. They won 21 of the 38 contests that they endorsed.[71]

2008 presidential election

Sarah Palin on the campaign trail in 2008

The SBA List gained renewed attention during the 2008 presidential election following Sarah Palin‘s nomination for Vice President. They had endorsed her 2006 run for governor of Alaska.[72] In 2008, the SBA List also started a social networking site and blog called “Team Sarah”, which is “dedicated to advancing the values that Sarah Palin represents in the political process”.[73]

Palin headlined the organization’s 2010 “Celebration of Life” breakfast fundraiser, an event which got extensive media coverage and in which she coined the term “mama grizzly“.[74][75][76][77]

According to Politico, Palin’s criteria for endorsing candidates is whether they have the support of the Tea Party movement and whether they have the support of the SBA List.[78]

2009 elections

In September 2009, in a special election to fill an empty House seat in upstate New York, the group endorsed the pro-life third-party Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman over the pro-choice Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, on the stated basis that Scozzafava was an “abortion radical who does not represent the views of the growing majority of pro-life American women”.[79][80] The SBA List joined forces with the National Organization for Marriage in support of Hoffman, spending over $100,000[81] printing literature, making phone calls, and flooding the district with volunteers from across the country.[82]

2010 elections

For the 2010 elections, the SBA List planned to spend $6 million[83] (including $3 million solely on U.S. Senate races[84]) and endorsed several dozen candidates.[85] The SBA List spent nearly $1.7 million on independent expenditure campaigns for or against 50 candidates.[86]

The SBA List conducted a 23-city bus tour to the Congressional districts of self-described pro-life Democrats in OhioIndiana and Pennsylvania who voted for the health care reform bill and to rally supporters to vote them out.[87][88][89] The bus tour attracted counterprotests at some stops, such as one in Pennsylvania where a group called Catholics United accused the SBA List of lying about health care reform.[90]

The organization launched a “Life Speaking Out” petition to urge the Republican Party to include opposition to abortion in its Pledge to America.[91][92] The petition was sent with over 20,000 signatures on it.[93][94]

The organization especially focused on the California Senate race where Carly Fiorina challenged incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer.[95] The group spent $200,000 in support of Fiorina’s campaign during the Republican primary and expected to spend another $1 million for the general election campaign against Boxer.[96] The SBA List partnered with the National Organization for Marriage to air Spanish language TV commercials attacking Boxer’s positions on abortion and gay marriage.[97] The two groups bought $200,000 worth of airtime for the commercial to air in the markets of Los AngelesFresno, and San Diego.[98] However, Boxer prevailed over Fiorina in the November 2010 election.[99]

Other notable endorsements included Sharron Angle, who unsuccessfully[100] challenged incumbent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada; the SBA List endorsed Angle despite having previously endorsed Angle’s primary opponent, Sue Lowden.[101][102] In September 2010, the SBA List launched a $150,000 campaign on behalf of New Hampshire Senate candidate Kelly Ayotte for the Republican primary.[103] Ayotte won the primary to become the nominee,[104] and later prevailed in the general election.[105] In October 2010, the SBA List endorsed Joe Miller, Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Alaska.[106] The SBA List endorsed Miller after Sen. Lisa Murkowski decided to stage a write-in campaign after losing the Republican primary to Miller, and they launched a $10,000 radio campaign to air ads attacking Murkowski for turning a “deaf ear” to the will of voters who voted her out in the primary.[107] Murkowski defeated Miller, who conceded after two months of court battles over contested ballots.[108] 36 of the SBA List’s 2010 endorsed candidates were elected.[109]

Driehaus political ad litigation

In the 2010 campaign, the organization purchased billboard advertisements in the district of Rep. Steve Driehaus of Ohio that showed a photo of Driehaus and intoned, “Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted FOR taxpayer-funded abortion”[110] The advertisement referred to Driehaus’s vote in favor of the health care overhaul bill.[111][112] The SBA List has taken the position that the legislation in question allows for taxpayer-funded abortion, a claim which was ruled by a judge to be factually incorrect.[113]

In response, Driehaus, who represented Ohio’s heavily pro-life[110] 1st congressional district, filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission (OEC), claiming the advertisements were false and violated Ohio election law.[114] The OEC ruled in Driehaus’ favor in a probable cause hearing on October 14, 2010.[115] In response, the SBA List asked a federal judge to issue an injunction against the OEC on the grounds that the law at issue stifles free speech[114][116] and that its ads were based on the group’s own interpretation of the law.[113] The ACLU of Ohio filed an 18-page amicus brief on the SBA List’s behalf, arguing that the Ohio law in question is “unconstitutionally vague” and has a “chilling” effect on the SBA List’s right to freedom of speech.[117][118] A federal judge rejected the SBA List’s federal lawsuit on abstention grounds and allowed Driehaus’s OEC complaint to move forward.[111][119]

After the OEC complaint was filed, the SBA List began airing a radio ad in Driehaus’s district in which Dannenfelser stated that the group “[would] not be silenced or intimidated” by Driehaus’s legal action.[120] Driehaus persuaded the billboard company to withdraw the SBA List’s advertisement, which was never erected.[112] Driehaus lost the seat to Steve Chabot, the incumbent whom Driehaus had defeated two years earlier, in the November general election. Driehaus sued the SBA List in a second case on December 3, 2010, accusing the organization of defamation that caused him a “loss of livelihood”,[121] arguing the “First Amendment is not and never has been an invitation to concoct falsehoods aimed at depriving a person of his livelihood”.[112] The SBA List countered by stating the organization would “continue to defend the truth and the right to criticize our elected officials”.[112]

The List continued to seek to have the law in question overturned; the ACLU joined in the organization’s fight against the law.[122] On August 1, 2011, judge Timothy Black dismissed the SBA List’s challenge to the Ohio law, holding that the federal court lacked jurisdiction since the billboards were never erected and the OEC never made a final ruling[123] and denied a motion for summary judgment by the List in the defamation case, allowing Driehaus’s defamation claims regarding other SBA List statements to go forward.[124] Black also directed the SBA List to desist from claiming on its website that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) subsidized abortion as the law does not directly mention abortion.[125] SBA List argued that its statements were opinions and were thus protected, but the court rejected this argument given that SBA List itself had claimed that this was a “fact”.[126][127]

On August 19, 2011, the SBA List appealed the decision on the Ohio law to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.[128] In May 2013, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the SBA List could not challenge the law under the First Amendment.[129] On August 9, 2013, the SBA List petitioned the United States Supreme Court to review the law.[130][131] On January 10, 2014, the Supreme Court accepted the case. The Court heard the case on April 22, 2014.[132]

On June 16, 2014, the United States Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in SBA List’s favor, allowing them to proceed in challenging the constitutionality of the law.[133]

On September 11, 2014, Judge Timothy Black of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio struck down the law as unconstitutional.[134] Black said in his ruling, “We do not want the government (i. e., the Ohio Elections Commission) deciding what is political truth — for fear that the government might persecute those who criticize it. Instead, in a democracy, the voters should decide.”[135]

2011 elections

In October 2011, the SBA List announced it would involve itself in the 2011 Virginia state Senate elections, endorsing challengers Bryce Reeves against Edd HouckCaren Merrick against Barbara Favola for an open seat, Patricia Phillips against Mark Herring, and incumbent Sen. Jill Vogel in an effort to give control of the Senate to pro-lifers to stop the state Senate from being a “graveyard for pro-life legislation”.[136] It also announced it was spending $25,000 against Sen. Edd Houck to expose his “extreme record on abortion”.[137]Merrick and Phillips lost, but Vogel won re-election and Reeves defeated Houck by just 222 votes.[138]

2012 presidential election

In June 2011, the SBA List unveiled a pro-life pledge for 2012 Republican presidential candidates in which signers commit to appointing only pro-life judicial nominees and cabinet members, preventing taxpayer funding of abortion, and supporting legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the fetal pain concept.[139] Candidates Rick PerryTim PawlentyMichele BachmannNewt GingrichRick SantorumThaddeus McCotterHerman Cain, and Ron Paul all signed the pledge, but Mitt RomneyJon Huntsman, Jr., and Gary Johnson declined. Romney’s refusal (he said the pledge might have “unintended consequences”) sparked heated criticism from the SBA List, some of the other candidates, and political observers given Romney’s past support for legalized abortion.[139][140][141] Huntsman said he would not sign any pledges from political groups during the campaign[142] and was criticized by the SBA List as well.[142] Cain initially said he agreed with the first three parts, but objected to the wording in the pledge which said he would have to “advance” the fetal pain bill; he said he would sign it but Congress would have to advance it.[143] Cain later signed the pledge in November 2011.[144] Johnson, who is pro-choice, declined.

The SBA List embarked on a Values Voter Bus Tour in Iowa with the Family Research Council and National Organization for Marriage from August 9–12, 2011, ending the day before the critical Iowa Straw Poll.[145] The tour visited 22 cities and was joined by Pawlenty, Bachmann, and Santorum as well as Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Reps. Steve King and Louie Gohmert, among other “state and national leaders”.[145][146]

The SBA supported Rick Santorum in the 2012 Republican Party Presidential Nomination by buying $150,000 of advertising for the candidate in Michigan, and organizing a bus tour for the Santorum and his campaign throughout Michigan.[147] After Mitt Romney became the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, the SBA List declared that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was unqualified for Vice President due to her describing herself as “mildly pro-choice”.[148][149]

In August, SBA released an ad featuring pro-life activist Melissa Ohden who says she survived an abortion in 1977. The ad criticized Barack Obama, claiming that while serving in the Illinois Senate, he voted four times to deny medical care to infants born alive during failed abortion procedures.[150][151] In a 2008 analysis, FactCheck drew a mixed conclusion overall, finding both the SBA List and Obama had made misleading and/or inaccurate comments regarding Obama’s voting record on the topic in question while he served in the United States Senate.[150][152]

2013 Virginia gubernatorial election

The SBA List made the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election a priority for 2013, endorsing Ken Cuccinelli and pledging to spend $1.5 million in the election through its Virginia PAC, Women Speak Out. Cuccinelli was defeated narrowly in the general election by the pro-choice Democrat, Terry McAuliffe.[153][154]

2014 elections

The SBA List is seeking to spend $8 million to $10 million on elections in 2014.[155]

2016 elections

The SBA List spent $18 million in the 2016 elections.[156]

2017 elections

The SBA List endorsed Greg Gianforte in the special election for Montana’s at-large congressional seat in May 2017, and knocked on 31,000 doors to drive voter turnout in the election.[157] SBAL also endorsed Karen Handel in the June 2017 special election for Georgia’s 6th congressional district, spending $90,000 to support Handel.[158]

2018 elections

The SBA List typically endorses Republicans, but in 2018 they endorsed Democrat Dan Lipinski in a primary election against a pro-choice woman named Marie Newman, spending six figures on advertising, direct mail, and a 70-person canvassing team to turn out voters for Lipinski in the primary in March 2018.[159][160] Lipinski is one of the few Democrats left that the group considers an ally, and Dannenfelser called him “a pro-life hero of legendary courage and integrity”.[161][159] According to an SBA List spokeswoman, the group told Lipinski after he voted against the Affordable Care Act due to concerns over taxpayer funding of abortion that they would always be there to fight for him if he ever came under fire,” and said Lipinski “is the model for how we want pro-life Democrats to act in Congress, to choose pro-life principles over party when those two things clash.”[161] Lipinski won the primary by roughly 2,000 votes, and the SBA List, which knocked on 17,000 doors in the district to support Lipinski,[162] was credited with helping to pull him across the finish line.[163][161]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_B._Anthony_List

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1076, May 14, 2018, Story 1: United States Moves and Opens Embassy in City of Truth — Jerusalem, Israel — Death Toll Over 50 In Gaza and Climbing — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Announces Comprehensive Plan To Reduce Drug Prices Through Competition, Incentives, Negotiations, Regulation  and Transparency — Promises Lower Drug Prices — Tough Talk — Follow The Money — Videos — Story 3: Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy Against Trump Using Intelligence Community — CIA, FBI, NSA, and Department of Justice — Failed Attempt To Use Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska To Establish Trump Link With Russians/Putin Through Paul Manafort, Former Trump Campaign Manager — Massive Cover-Up and Political Scandal — Video

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Ivanka Trump is pictured unveiling engraved stonework carrying her father's name on the wall at the embassy today

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See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageUS President Donald Trump made the decision, which tossed aside decades of precedent, in December as he recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital 

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Story 1: United States Moves and Opens Embassy in City of Truth — Jerusalem, Israel — Death Toll Over 50 In Gaza and Climbing — Videos

U.S. Embassy opening: Moving is a step towards peace

US Jerusalem embassy opening fallout

A breakdown of the controversy over the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem

Deadly clashes on Israel border ahead of U.S. Embassy opening

How are Palestinians reacting to the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and violence in Gaza?

U.S. Embassy opens in Jerusalem, while Palestinian protesters are killed

Thank You President Trump’ on Walls of Jerusalem on Eve of Embassy Move

 

“Thank You President Trump.” That was the message projected onto the ancient walls of Jerusalem, together with the American and Israeli flags, on the eve of the formal transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem on Sunday evening.

Inside those walls — most recently rebuilt by the Ottoman sultan Suleiman I in the 16th century — tens of thousands of young Israelis danced and sang at the Western Wall plaza in honor of Yom Yerushalayim (“Jerusalem Day”), the 51st anniversary of the reunification of the city during the Six Day War of 1967.

This year, due to the peculiar nature of the Hebrew calendar — which combines both lunar and solar elements — the Hebrew date of Jerusalem Day fell one day before the Roman date of Israel’s 70th anniversary on May 14.

May 14 is also the 70th anniversary of the date that U.S. President Harry S. Truman recognized Israel, which is the reason the embassy transfer was scheduled for that date. (Israel celebrates its Independence Day according to the Hebrew calendar, which fell in April this year.)

 

The coincidence of Jerusalem Day and the embassy move — plus Israel’s victory early Sunday morning in the Eurovision Song Contest — meant that the city has been in a state of celebration for several days, culminating in the dedication of the embassy move on Monday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. local time (9:00 a.m. EDT and 6:00 a.m. PDT in the U.S.).

 

An official in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Breitbart News at a reception Sunday evening that the mood in his department was “somewhere between ecstatic and euphoric.”

In the modern center of the city, American flags and Israeli flags hung side-by-side, along with signs thanking President Trump and declaring him a “Friend of Zion.”

“Trump is Number One!” shouted one Israeli to Breitbart News reporters on the scene. It was a sentiment widely shared in a country that has seen so much hardship and struggle, and which feels that it finally has a friend in the White House — “the best friend Israel ever had,” as one Israeli put it.

The mood was even reflected in Israeli sports. Beitar Jerusalem, the local soccer team, officially renamed itself Beitar “Trump” Jerusalem in honor of the U.S. President.

Trump supporters also took out a massive wrap-around ad in the Jerusalem Post on Monday morning thanking President Trump for delivering on his promises to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and to end the Iran nuclear deal.

Across Israel, there was the repeated refrain: “He does what he says.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

http://www.breitbart.com/jerusalem/2018/05/13/thank-president-trump-walls-jerusalem-eve-embassy-move/

 

‘Big day in Israel. Congratulations!’ Trump tweets jubilantly at official opening by Jared and Ivanka of U.S. embassy in Jerusalem – as bloody day of violence sees Israeli snipers kill 52 and injure 2,400

  • US moving embassy from Tel Aviv today after Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December  
  • Israeli snipers have killed scores of protesters near the Gaza border with more than two thousand injured
  • Mass protests taking place with Palestinian government accusing Israel of committing a ‘terrible massacre’
  • Comes after al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri called for group’s followers to carry out jihad against the US 
  • Russia says embassy move risks increasing Middle East tension as Turkey says US is now ‘part of the problem’ 
  • The Arab League is planning to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss America’s ‘illegal’ embassy move 
  • US President’s son-in-law and Middle East envoy Jared Kushner said opening showed US could be trusted and that when ‘Trump makes a promise, he keeps it’
  • WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Donald Trump rededicated the United States’ to its alliance with Israel on Monday as the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem officially opened.

Trump in a video address said that the U.S. will ‘always be a great friend of Israel and a partner in the cause of freedom and peace’ while honoring the nation and the city it claims as its capital as a ‘testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people.’

‘We extend a hand in friendship to Israel, the Palestinians and to all of their neighbors,’ Trump said in a video address. ‘May there be peace.’

In a tweet shortly after he said, ‘Big day for Israel. Congratulations!’

Neither Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence were there see the realization of their campaign promise that they would relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Pence is headlining a celebratory event at the Israeli embassy in Washington, instead.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, both White House advisers, were part of a delegation of senior officials that included Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that made the trip.

The U.S. delegation had arrived Sunday evening in Jerusalem to mass protests over the foreign policy shift.

Israeli snipers have killed scores of Palestinians and wounded thousands more as 35,000 protesters rallied against the US Embassy opening in Jerusalem overseen by Donald Trump‘s Middle East envoy Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka.

A 14-year-old was among 52 shot dead along the Gaza border on what is already the deadliest single day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since a 2014 war between the Jewish state and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas.

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Ivanka Trump is pictured unveiling engraved stonework carrying her father's name on the wall at the embassy today

The festivities in Jerusalem were a stark contrast to the bloodshed on the Gaza border

Flashpoint: Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered for protests against the US embassy opening today and dozens were killed amid clashes with Israeli troops. Crowds are seen sprinting away from tear gas during a clash with Israeli security forces east of Jabalia near the Gaza border

Flashpoint: Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered for protests against the US embassy opening today and dozens were killed amid clashes with Israeli troops. Crowds are seen sprinting away from tear gas during a clash with Israeli security forces east of Jabalia near the Gaza border

Israeli leaders and a U.S. delegation including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and President Donald Trump's daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump (pictured) and Jared Kushner, have attended the opening of the embassy, relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a controversial decision

Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka (right) and husband Jared Kushner (left) joined Benjamin Netanyahu for the opening of the embassy this afternoon

Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka (right) and husband Jared Kushner (left) joined Benjamin Netanyahu for the opening of the embassy this afternoon

White House senior advisor Ivanka Trump (right) speaks alongside US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during the opening ceremony

White House senior advisor Ivanka Trump (right) speaks alongside US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during the opening ceremony

A child who has been affected by tear gas is rushed to medics at the border fence with Israel as mass demonstrations continue along the Gaza border todayA child who has been affected by tear gas is rushed to medics at the border fence with Israel as mass demonstrations continue along the Gaza border today
A protester screams in agony as he is picked up by fellow Palestinians during deadly clashes along the Gaza border today. The death toll continued to climb this morning as anger mounted over the US embassy opening in Jerusalem

A protester screams in agony as he is picked up by fellow Palestinians during deadly clashes along the Gaza border today. The death toll continued to climb this morning as anger mounted over the US embassy opening in Jerusalem

Palestinian protesters carry an injured man who was shot by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel today

Palestinian protesters carry an injured man who was shot by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel today

An elderly Palestinian man falls to the ground amid reports he had been shot by Israeli troops during a deadly protest at the Gaza Strip's border

An elderly Palestinian man falls to the ground amid reports he had been shot by Israeli troops during a deadly protest at the Gaza Strip’s border

Huge crowds of protesters hid behind clouds of smoke from burning tyres but at times were forced to run from tear gas fired by Israeli troops

A Palestinian throws a rock in response to Israel's intervention during a protest to mark 70th anniversary of Nakba, also known as Day of the Catastrophe in 1948 and against the decision to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

At least 2,400 more have been injured with hundreds of them by live bullets, according to Gaza officials as the Palestinian government accused Israel of committing a ‘terrible massacre’ and Amnesty International called the bloodshed an ‘abhorrent violation’ of human rights.

Trump President tossed aside decades of precedent when he recognized the city as Israel’s capital in December – a decision that sparked global outcry, Palestinian anger and exuberant praise from Israelis.

Russia said today it feared the embassy opening would increase tension in the Middle East while Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan warned the US it had forfeited its role as a mediator in the region and was now ‘part of the problem rather than the solution’.

As deadly clashes continued, Trump said in a video address aired at the opening that the embassy has been a ‘long time coming’ and that the U.S. had ‘failed to acknowledge the obvious’ for many years. He added that ‘today, we follow through on this recognition’ and that the new embassy was opening ‘many, many years ahead of schedule.’

Trump also said his ‘greatest hope’ is for peace and that he ‘remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement’. His on-in-law Jared Kushner said the opening showed the US could be trusted and that ‘when President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it’.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the international community must bring those responsible to justice, in a post on Twitter.

‘Shocking killing of dozens, injury of hundreds by Israeli live fire in #Gaza must stop now,’ Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein wrote in a message carried on the UN human rights Twitter account.

‘The right to life must be respected. Those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account. The int’l community needs to ensure justice for victims.’

A wounded Palestinian woman is evacuated by men wearing gas masks and high-viz jackets as protests turned violent today

A wounded Palestinian woman is evacuated by men wearing gas masks and high-viz jackets as protests turned violent today

Palestinian protesters carry the wounded during clashes near the border with Israel in the east of Gaza Strip

Palestinian protesters carry the wounded during clashes near the border with Israel in the east of Gaza Strip

Israel's armed forces had warned anyone approaching the fence would be risking their lives. By early this afternoon 37 protesters had been killed and the death toll has now risen further

Israel’s armed forces had warned anyone approaching the fence would be risking their lives. By early this afternoon 37 protesters had been killed and the death toll has now risen further

A medic tries to hold an injured man's mouth open as they take him away from the clashes in a stretcher 

A medic tries to hold an injured man’s mouth open as they take him away from the clashes in a stretcher

A wounded female Palestinian demonstrator is evacuated on a stretcher by emergency workers at Qalandya checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah

A wounded female Palestinian demonstrator is evacuated on a stretcher by emergency workers at Qalandya checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah

A woman appears to be giving protesters medical assistance as she tends to them while they sit on the ground during clashes along the border with Israel

Protesters used a horse and cart as they carried wounded Palestinians away from the conflict this afternoon as it emerged at least 37 had been killed and hundreds more injured

Protesters used a horse and cart as they carried wounded Palestinians away from the conflict this afternoon as it emerged at least 37 had been killed and hundreds more injured

Inside the event, the president’s daughter delivered an official welcome telling attendees after her father’s video address: ‘On behalf of the 45th President on [sic] the United States of America, we welcome you officially and for the first time to the Embassy of the United States here in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. Thank you.’

She joined Mnuchin in unveiling the embassy seal and plaque commemorating her father’s involvement in the occasion.

Her husband, Jared, delivered a rare speech at the embassy opening, as well, in some of his most lengthy public remarks since joining his father-in-law’s administration.

Acknowledging his wife in his remarks, he said, ‘Ivanka, thank you for all the great work you do to help so many people in our country and throughout the world — including me, so I love you.’

‘I am so proud to be here today in Jerusalem, the eternal heart of the Jewish people, and I am especially honored to be here today as a representative of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump,’ he said.

Highlighting Trump’s decision last week to leave the Iran nuclear agreement and the pledge he fulfilled in moving the embassy, Kushner said, ‘While presidents before him have backed down from their pledge to move the American embassy, once in office this president delivered. Because when President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it.’

‘The United States is prepared to support a peace agreement in every way that we can,’ he told the audience. ‘We believe that it is possible for both sides to gain more than they give.’

Kushner said the U.S. ‘recognizes the sensitivity’ around Jerusalem, home to three religions, including Islam.

‘While the challenges to peace are numerous, I have personally seen that the determination of the leaders throughout the region and throughout the world remains steadfast,’ Trump’s chief peace negotiator said.

At the White House, Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah blamed Hamas for the violence in Israel on Monday. He said he did not believe that the violence would undermine the United States’ positioning on a peace agreement.

‘The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas. Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response,’ he asserted.

Shah demanded that Hamas stop its ‘cynical exploitation of the situation’ that has lead to the deaths.

The president’s spokesman said that embassy opening is ‘about following through on what the President promised and believes.

‘I think we’ve for decades you know walked on eggshells, pretending that Jerusalem isn’t the capital of Israel when it obviously is. And this is just a recognition of reality.’

Shah said the ‘peace plan will be brought forward at the appropriate time, and it can be evaluated on its merits.

‘We don’t think it impact the peace plan,’ he said of the deaths in Gaza.

Palestinians carry an injured protestors to safety as one man kneels on the ground holding his head as violence erupted on the Gaza strip today

Palestinians carry an injured protestors to safety as one man kneels on the ground holding his head as violence erupted on the Gaza strip today

A severely injured man is carried. Israel's armed forces had warned anyone approaching the fence would be risking their livesA severely injured man is carried. Israel’s armed forces had warned anyone approaching the fence would be risking their lives
American and Israeli delegations have begun a festive ceremony to mark the opening of the new U.S. Embassy (pictured) in Jerusalem. U.S. Ambassador David Friedman welcomed the crowd. 'Today we open the United States embassy in Jerusalem Israel,' he said to warm applause.

American and Israeli delegations have begun a festive ceremony to mark the opening of the new U.S. Embassy (pictured) in Jerusalem. U.S. Ambassador David Friedman welcomed the crowd. ‘Today we open the United States embassy in Jerusalem Israel,’ he said to warm applause.

Israeli soldiers walk amidst smoke from a fire in a wheat field near the Kibbutz of Nahal Oz, along the border with the Gaza Strip today

A wounded Palestinian women is carried from the border fence with Israel as mass demonstrations continue following the decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

A wounded Palestinian women is carried from the border fence with Israel as mass demonstrations continue following the decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

A group of Palestinian men carry their injured friend to an ambulance by stretcher during clashes with Israeli soldiers

A group of Palestinian men carry their injured friend to an ambulance by stretcher during clashes with Israeli soldiers

‘President Trump, by recognizing history, you have made history,’ he said, in forceful remarks. ‘Today, the embassy of the most powerful nation on earth, our greatest ally, the United States of America, today its embassy opened here.’

Netanyahu firmly declared: ‘We are in Jerusalem, and we are here to stay.’

‘Thank you, President Trump, for having the courage to keep your promises.’

Netanyahu made a reference to the conflict on the Gaza border as he said in his speech that ‘our brave soldiers are protecting the borders of Israel as we speak, we salute them all.’

‘The truth is that Jerusalem has been and always will be the capital of the Jewish people, the capital of the Jewish state,’ he said.

President Trump said earlier on Monday that it would be ‘a great day for Israel’ as the U.S. embassy prepared to open in Jerusalem.

‘The United States remains fully committed to precipitating a lasting peace agreement,’ he said in a video address.

He steered clear of the controversy over the relocation of the embassy, while noting, ‘We continue to support the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites, including at the Temple Mount.’

‘Today also demonstrates American leadership. By moving our embassy to Jerusalem, we have shown the world once again that the United States can be trusted,’ he said.

‘We stand with our friends and our allies, and above all else, we’ve shown that the United States of America will do what’s right,’ he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara were among those attending the opening ceremony today

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara were among those attending the opening ceremony today

Ivanka Trump's husband Jared Kushner was among the speakers as the embassy was officially opened this afternoonIvanka Trump’s husband Jared Kushner was among the speakers as the embassy was officially opened this afternoon

Jared Kushner embraces both his wife, Ivanka

Jared Kushner embraces Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu during the opening ceremony today

Jared Kushner embraces both his wife, Ivanka (left) and Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu (right) during the opening ceremony today

A ceremony to inaugurate the US embassy in Jerusalem has started with Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump (centre), both top aides to President Donald Trump, attending. The event took place as Palestinian officials claimed 37 protesters had been killed in a 'massacre' along the Gaza border

A ceremony to inaugurate the US embassy in Jerusalem has started with Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump (centre), both top aides to President Donald Trump, attending. The event took place as Palestinian officials claimed 37 protesters had been killed in a ‘massacre’ along the Gaza border

As deadly clashes continued this afternoon, Trump said in a video address aired at the opening that the embassy in has been a 'long time coming'. His daughter Ivanka as pictured walking ahead of US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the ceremony today

As deadly clashes continued this afternoon, Trump said in a video address aired at the opening that the embassy in has been a ‘long time coming’. His daughter Ivanka as pictured walking ahead of US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the ceremony today

Ivanka Trump smiles as she poses for photographs next to engraved stonework carrying the name of her father, US President Donald Trump

Ivanka Trump smiles as she poses for photographs next to engraved stonework carrying the name of her father, US President Donald Trump

Ivanka shared two photos of herself and Jared sharing a meal with GOP Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Dean Heller, and Lindsey Graham

Ivanka shared two photos of herself and Jared sharing a meal with GOP Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Dean Heller, and Lindsey Graham

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured) has said Jerusalem will always be the "eternal, undivided" capital of Israe

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured) has said Jerusalem will always be the ‘eternal, undivided’ capital of Israe

The embassy opening coincides with the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel.

Trump in December announced that he would follow through on the pledge to move the embassy that U.S. presidential candidates have repeatedly made and then reneged on.

The Republican president said he would ‘move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem’ in keeping with a decades-old U.S. mandating the relocation.

Presidents have typically signed a waiver every six months to skirt the requirement. Trump signed it his first year in office.

After a process that was expected to take up to four years, the U.S. said it would outfit a consulate in Jerusalem as an embassy while a new one is constructed.

‘We extend a hand in friendship to Israel, the Palestinians and to all of their neighbors’: President Trump celebrates the opening of U.S. embassy in Jerusalem from afar

Donald Trump said it was ‘a great day for Israel’ on Monday as the U.S. embassy was officially declared open in Jerusalem.

‘We extend a hand in friendship to Israel, the Palestinians and to all of their neighbors,’ Trump said in a video address.

It has been a ‘long time coming’, he added.

Trump said that the U.S. had ‘failed to acknowledge the obvious’ for many years, adding that ‘today, we follow through on this recognition.’

Trump added that the new embassy was opening ‘many, many years ahead of schedule.’

The embassy move has enraged the Palestinians. Trump said he remained committed to ‘facilitating a lasting peace agreement.’

Trump said the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem had been a 'long time coming' as he spoke in a pre-recorded video message 

Trump said the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem had been a ‘long time coming’ as he spoke in a pre-recorded video message

Trump stressed a close bond with Israel. He also said he was ‘extending a hand of friendship to Israel, the Palestinians and to all of their neighbors.’

Neither Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence were there to see the realization of their campaign promise that they would relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Pence is headlining a celebratory event at the Israeli embassy in Washington, instead.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, both White House advisers, were part of a delegation of senior officials that included Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that made the trip.

Ivanka Trump, in an official welcome, after her father’s video address, told attendees: ‘On behalf of the 45th President on [sic] the United States of America, we welcome you officially and for the first time to the Embassy of the United States here in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. Thank you.’

Jared Kushner delivered a rare speech at the embassy opening, highlighting Trump's decision last week to leave the Iran nuclear agreement and the pledge he fulfilled in moving the embassy

Jared Kushner delivered a rare speech at the embassy opening, highlighting Trump’s decision last week to leave the Iran nuclear agreement and the pledge he fulfilled in moving the embassy

Acknowledging his wife, Kushner said, 'Ivanka, thank you for all the great work you do to help so many people in our country and throughout the world - including me, so I love you'

Acknowledging his wife, Kushner said, ‘Ivanka, thank you for all the great work you do to help so many people in our country and throughout the world – including me, so I love you’

Kushner delivered a rare speech at the embassy opening, as well, highlighting Trump’s decision last week to leave the Iran nuclear agreement and the pledge he fulfilled in moving the embassy.

‘While presidents before him have backed down from their pledge to move the American embassy, once in office this president delivered. Because when President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it,’ Kushner said.

Acknowledging his wife, Kushner said, ‘Ivanka, thank you for all the great work you do to help so many people in our country and throughout the world – including me, so I love you.’

The U.S. delegation arrived Sunday evening in Jerusalem to mass protests over the U.S. foreign policy shift.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not make the trip, either, but said Sunday in an interview that aired on Fox News that ‘the American people in that region are secure’ and ‘we are comfortable we’ve taken action that reduces that risk.’

Upon the arrival of the U.S. delegation on Sunday, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, both Jewish, received a blessing from Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.

‘Great to join the friends of Zion for an amazing evening commemorating the dedication of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel,’ Ivanka wrote in a tweet after landing.

The embassy opening coincides with the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel.

As the ceremony took place this afternoon, the Israeli army revealed that warplanes had struck a Hamas facility in Gaza during bloody protests.

The military said it carried out five airstrikes after militants exchanged fire on three separate occasions with soldiers.

Brigadier General Ronen Manelis turn out by Monday afternoon was about 40,000. He said the army viewed that number as a ‘failure for Hamas.’

He said the army noticed there were more women at the front of the protest than in past rallies and accused Hamas of paying people to protest.

This morning, the Israeli military said troops shot and killed three Palestinians who were trying to place an explosive device by the border fence in Gaza during mass protests.

The shooting in the southern Gaza town of Rafah came as the army said an Israeli aircraft had bombed a Hamas military post in the northern Gaza Strip after Israeli troops came under fire. No Israeli casualties were reported.

Amnesty International called the violence today an ‘abhorrent violation’ of human rights.

‘We are witnessing an abhorrent violation of international law and human rights in Gaza…. This must end immediately,’ the London-based human rights group said on Twitter.

‘This is a violation of international standards, in some instances committing what appear to be wilful killings constituting war crimes,’ Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director Philip Luther said in a separate statement.

‘As violence continues to spiral out of control, the Israeli authorities must immediately rein in the military to prevent the further loss of life and serious injuries.’

Amnesty made the statement ‘responding to reports that dozens of Palestinians have been killed’ in the protests over the US embassy move.

At one point the Israeli armed forces used drones to drop tear gas canisters in a bid to disperse the crowds of tens of tousands

At one point the Israeli armed forces used drones to drop tear gas canisters in a bid to disperse the crowds of tens of tousands

The drone could be seen releasing gas canisters during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces near the border between Israel and the Gaza strip, east of Jabalia

The drone could be seen releasing gas canisters during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces near the border between Israel and the Gaza strip, east of Jabalia

Palestinians were forced to run for safety as the gas canisters containing tear gas were fired from drones overhead today

Palestinians were forced to run for safety as the gas canisters containing tear gas were fired from drones overhead today

Witnesses said Israeli drones had also dropped incendiary materials earlier in the day, setting ablaze tyres that had been collected for use in a planned Gaza border protest.

Witnesses said Israeli drones had also dropped incendiary materials earlier in the day, setting ablaze tyres that had been collected for use in a planned Gaza border protest.

Drones unleashed canisters full of tear gas in the hope of dispersing the huge crowds today. The clashes have left scores dead

Drones unleashed canisters full of tear gas in the hope of dispersing the huge crowds today. The clashes have left scores dead

The drone tactic was deployed as festivities were taking place for the opening of a new US embassy in Jerusalem today

The drone tactic was deployed as festivities were taking place for the opening of a new US embassy in Jerusalem today

The drone tactic was deployed as festivities were taking place for the opening of a new US embassy in Jerusalem today

According to local reports, Israel employed specialist drone racers to drop tear gas

According to local reports, Israel employed specialist drone racers to drop tear gas

‘The rising toll of deaths and injuries today only serves to highlight the urgent need for an arms embargo,’ Luther added.

‘While some protestors may have engaged in some form of violence, this still does not justify the use of live ammunition.’

The European Union’s foreign policy chief is calling on Israel to respect the ‘principle of proportionality in the use of force’.

Federica Mogherini said that all should act ‘with utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life’ and added that ‘Israel must respect the right to peaceful protest.’

At the same time, she insisted that Hamas must make sure demonstrators in Gaza are peaceful and ‘must not exploit them for other means.’

The dramatic scenes today came after al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri last night called for followers to carry out jihad against America.

In a new message, he said America’s decision was evidence that negotiations and ‘appeasement’ have failed Palestinians as he urged Muslims carry out jihad against the United States.

Trump ‘was clear and explicit, and he revealed the true face of the modern Crusade, where standing down and appeasement does not work with them, but only resistance through the call and jihad,’ Zawahiri said, according to a transcript provided by the SITE monitoring agency.

Violence: This was the scene as a man used a sling to hurl rocks towards Israeli forces along the Gaza border today

Violence: This was the scene as a man used a sling to hurl rocks towards Israeli forces along the Gaza border today

In the line of fire: Israeli soldiers are pictured lying in position looking out over the Gaza border 

In the line of fire: Israeli soldiers are pictured lying in position looking out over the Gaza border

The Israeli army responded by throwing tear gas towards protesters, sending huge crowds scattering this afternoon

The Israeli army responded by throwing tear gas towards protesters, sending huge crowds scattering this afternoon

Taking cover: Palestinians throw themselves to the ground as tear gas is hurled towards them during fierce clashes today

Taking cover: Palestinians throw themselves to the ground as tear gas is hurled towards them during fierce clashes today

The celebrations in Jerusalem were a stark contrast to the bloodshed along the Gaza border where tens of thousands of Palestinians protestedThe celebrations in Jerusalem were a stark contrast to the bloodshed along the Gaza border where tens of thousands of Palestinians protested
A Palestinian woman tries to fly a kite during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza Strip

A Palestinian woman tries to fly a kite during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza Strip

The US moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem today after months of global outcry, Palestinian anger and exuberant praise from Israelis. Israeli snipers killed a Palestinian man as protests got underway this morning. Pictured: A protester running past burning tyres

The US moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem today after months of global outcry, Palestinian anger and exuberant praise from Israelis. Israeli snipers killed a Palestinian man as protests got underway this morning. Pictured: A protester running past burning tyres

US President Donald Trump made the decision, which tossed aside decades of precedent, in December as he recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Palestinians burned tyres this morning ahead of mass protests at the Gaza border today

A Palestinian demonstrator lies on the ground as smoke billows from burning tyres during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City this morning

A Palestinian demonstrator lies on the ground as smoke billows from burning tyres during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City this morning

The announcement and the opening of the embassy sparked new chaos in Jerusalem, which the Israelis and Palestinians both claim as a holy site.

Still, the Trump administration says it is still charging ahead with a plan to bring peace to the region. A U.S. official told the Washington Free Beacon in advance of the embassy opening that the White House intends to unveil the deal that Trump’s son-in-law has taken a lead role in putting together in the coming months.

‘We’ve been working hard and want to give the plan the best chance for success,’ a senior official told the publication. ‘We want to get a lasting deal that is livable for both parties.’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was not on the trip and has been the point person for the Trump’s upcoming summit with North Korea, said the Middle East peace process is ‘is most decidedly not dead,’ in spite of the unrest that boiled over on Sunday.

‘We’re hard at work on it. We hope we can achieve a successful outcome there as well,’ he said.

Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton said the administration believes the embassy move will enhance the peace process because it’s a recognition of reality.

‘I think it will make it easier. It’s a recognition of reality. If you’re not prepared to recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and that’s where the American embassy should be, then you’re operating on a completely different wavelength,’ Bolton said.

Kushner likewise said in his speech on Monday at the embassy: ‘When there is peace in this region, we will look back upon this day and remember that the journey to peace started with a strong America recognizing the truth.’

‘I believe peace is within reach, if we dare to believe that the future can be different from the past, that we are not condemned to relieve history, and that the way things were is not how they must forever be,’ he said. ‘It will not be an easy road, and it will be filled with difficult moments and tough decisions, but if we dream big and we lead with courage, we can change the trajectory for millions from hopeless to boundless.’

Medics were seen carrying Palestinian protesters away from the scene on stretchers as violence escalated this morning 

Medics were seen carrying Palestinian protesters away from the scene on stretchers as violence escalated this morning

Dozens have been injured - some of them seriously - by Israeli gun fire, according to Gaza's Health Ministry after the army warned that anyone attempting to approach the security fence would be risking their lives

Dozens have been injured – some of them seriously – by Israeli gun fire, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry after the army warned that anyone attempting to approach the security fence would be risking their lives

Protests intensified on the 70th anniversary of Israel's founding, as loudspeakers on Gaza mosques urged Palestinians to join a 'Great March of Return'. Black smoke from tyres burned by demonstrators rose into the air at the border

Thousands gathered in five spots along the border in protest at the embassy move, while sporadic clashes also erupted with Israeli soldiers

Thousands gathered in five spots along the border in protest at the embassy move, while sporadic clashes also erupted with Israeli soldiers

Thousands of Gaza residents headed toward the border with Israel on Monday, drawing Israeli fire in a potentially bloody showdown as Israel prepared for the festive inauguration of a new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem

Thousands of Gaza residents headed toward the border with Israel on Monday, drawing Israeli fire in a potentially bloody showdown as Israel prepared for the festive inauguration of a new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem

Protesters set tires on fire, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the air at several spots along the border, while the Israeli military said protesters assaulted the border fence

Protesters set tires on fire, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the air at several spots along the border, while the Israeli military said protesters assaulted the border fence

The protest in Gaza was to be the biggest yet in a weekslong campaign against a decade-old blockade of the territory. The march was also directed at the inauguration of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem

The protest in Gaza was to be the biggest yet in a weekslong campaign against a decade-old blockade of the territory. The march was also directed at the inauguration of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem

The relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv has infuriated the Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as a future capital

The relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv has infuriated the Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as a future capital

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted 'what an amazing day! Thank you @POTUS Trump' ahead of the opening

J Street, a liberal advocacy group pursuing Middle East peace, said the Trump administration had hurt the prospects of a deal with the embassy relocation in a scathing Monday statement called it a ‘victory for the far-right agenda of President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu – but not for the long-term interests of Israelis, Palestinians or the United States.’

‘This move has only undermined the prospects for peace, exacerbated tensions and undercut US standing as an effective mediator,’ J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami said. ‘This isn’t policy – it’s pandering to a narrow political base.’

The largest Jewish lobbying organization in the U.S., AIPAC, which has supported the move, noted that it was approved by Congress 1995 in a sweeping vote. It prodded other countries to follow the United States’ lead.

‘America was the first nation to recognize the independence of the Jewish state, and it is particularly appropriate that our country is once again taking the initiative to strengthen our relationship with Israel and its standing in the world. We urge other nations to follow the Unites States’ lead and also locate their embassies in Israel’s capital,’ it said.

Palestinian men carry an injured protester during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between Israel and the Gaza strip, east of Jabalia

Palestinian men carry an injured protester during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between Israel and the Gaza strip, east of Jabalia

A wounded Palestinian demonstrator is evacuated during a protest against U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip

A wounded Palestinian demonstrator is evacuated during a protest against U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip

Violent clashes erupted along the Gaza Strip's border hours ahead of the controversial opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, leaving several Palestinians dead from Israeli fire and hundreds more wounded

Violent clashes erupted along the Gaza Strip’s border hours ahead of the controversial opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, leaving several Palestinians dead from Israeli fire and hundreds more wounded

Crowds built throughout the day in the Palestinian enclave less than 60 miles away from Jerusalem and sealed off from Israel by a blockade

Israel's military said 'approximately 10,000 violent rioters are currently assembled in a number of locations along the Gaza Strip border and thousands more are gathered by the tents approximately half a kilometre away from the security fence'

Israel’s military said ‘approximately 10,000 violent rioters are currently assembled in a number of locations along the Gaza Strip border and thousands more are gathered by the tents approximately half a kilometre away from the security fence’

Around 1,000 police officers were being positioned around the embassy for the inauguration. Israel's army said it was almost doubling the number of troops surrounding Gaza and in the occupied West Bank

Around 1,000 police officers were being positioned around the embassy for the inauguration. Israel’s army said it was almost doubling the number of troops surrounding Gaza and in the occupied West Bank

A masked protester holds his hand in the air as he stands in front of burning tyres near the  Gaza-Israel border in Khan Yunis

A masked protester holds his hand in the air as he stands in front of burning tyres near the  Gaza-Israel border in Khan Yunis

By midafternoon, at least 18 Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed while over 500 were wounded by Israeli fire, Palestinian health officials said

By midafternoon, at least 18 Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed while over 500 were wounded by Israeli fire, Palestinian health officials said

Anger: Protesters torch tyres and wave Palestinian flags amid violent clashes along the Gaza border this morning

Anger: Protesters torch tyres and wave Palestinian flags amid violent clashes along the Gaza border this morning

The date of the inauguration is deeply symbolic to both Israelis and Palestinians. The US said it chose the day to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel's establishment

The date of the inauguration is deeply symbolic to both Israelis and Palestinians. The US said it chose the day to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment

Security has been tightened around Jerusalem ahead of the embassy opening this afternoon. Pictured: A road leading to the embassy

Security has been tightened around Jerusalem ahead of the embassy opening this afternoon. Pictured: A road leading to the embassy

As tensions mounted today, the Arab League said it will hold emergency talks on Wednesday to discuss Washington’s ‘illegal’ decision.

The meeting will focus on ‘ways of countering the illegal decision by the United States to move the embassy to Jerusalem’, the organisation’s deputy secretary general for Palestinian affairs, Saeed Abu Ali, said.

He told reporters the permanent representatives of members of the Cairo-based Arab League would meet ‘at the request of the state of Palestine’.

Police and the Israeli military had planned major security deployments today.

Around 1,000 police officers were positioned around the embassy and surrounding neighbourhoods for the inauguration, said spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

Israel’s army said it would almost double the number of troops surrounding Gaza and in the occupied West Bank.

Early this morning, witnesses said Israeli drones dropped incendiary materials, setting ablaze tires that had been collected for use in a planned Gaza border protest.

Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said the army had bolstered its front-line forces along the border, but also set up additional 'layers' of security in and around neighbouring communities to defend Israeli civilians in case of a mass breach. He said there had already been several 'significant attempts' to break through the fence

Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said the army had bolstered its front-line forces along the border, but also set up additional ‘layers’ of security in and around neighbouring communities to defend Israeli civilians in case of a mass breach. He said there had already been several ‘significant attempts’ to break through the fence

A Palestinian protester hurls stones at Israeli troops during protests near the Gaza border this morning

A Palestinian protester hurls stones at Israeli troops during protests near the Gaza border this morning

Israelis began celebrating on Sunday, as tens of thousands of marched in Jerusalem, some holding American flags, to mark Jerusalem Day.

The annual event is an Israeli celebration of the ‘reunification’ of the city following the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

Beyond the disputed nature of Jerusalem, the date of the embassy move is also key. May 14 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel.

The following day, Palestinians mark the ‘Nakba’, or catastrophe, commemorating the more than 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes in the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.

Palestinian protests are planned on both days.

Gaza residents streamed to the border area Monday for what is intended to be the largest protest yet against a decade-old blockade of the territory. Israel's military says it will stop a possible border breach at all costs, warning protesters that they are endangering their lives

Gaza residents streamed to the border area Monday for what is intended to be the largest protest yet against a decade-old blockade of the territory. Israel’s military says it will stop a possible border breach at all costs, warning protesters that they are endangering their lives

Israeli troops firing from across a border fence have shot and wounded two Palestinians as a protest near the Gaza border gets underway

Israeli troops firing from across a border fence have shot and wounded two Palestinians as a protest near the Gaza border gets underway

Near Gaza City, hundreds gathered about 150 yards from the fence. A reporter witnessed two people being shot in the legs

Near Gaza City, hundreds gathered about 150 yards from the fence. A reporter witnessed two people being shot in the legs

Israel's army warned Gaza residents they will be risking their lives if they approach the border with leaflets dropped by jets warning its forces will 'act against every attempt to damage the security fence or harm IDF soldiers or Israeli civilians'. A Palestinian is pictured throwing some of the leaflets in the air

Israel’s army warned Gaza residents they will be risking their lives if they approach the border with leaflets dropped by jets warning its forces will ‘act against every attempt to damage the security fence or harm IDF soldiers or Israeli civilians’. A Palestinian is pictured throwing some of the leaflets in the air

WHY THE US MOVED ITS EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM

The United States opened its new embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, a move that has delighted Israel and infuriated Palestinians.

The opening ceremony was timed to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary.

The initiative was driven by President Donald Trump, after he broke last year with decades of US policy by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Trump said his administration has a peace proposal in the works, and recognising Jerusalem as the capital of America’s closest ally had ‘taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table.’

The US opened its new embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, a move that has delighted Israel and infuriated Palestinians. The initiative was driven by Trump, after he broke last year with decades of US policy by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

The US opened its new embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, a move that has delighted Israel and infuriated Palestinians. The initiative was driven by Trump, after he broke last year with decades of US policy by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, celebrated Trump’s decision, but the move upset the Arab world and Western allies.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called it a ‘slap in the face’ and said Washington could no longer be regarded as an honest broker in any peace talks with Israel.

Initially, a small interim embassy will operate from the building in southern Jerusalem that now houses US consular operations, while a secure site is found to move the rest of the embassy operations from Tel Aviv.

WHY DID TRUMP RECOGNIZE JERUSALEM AS ISRAEL’S CAPITAL, AND ANNOUNCE THE EMBASSY WILL BE MOVED THERE?

There has long been pressure from pro-Israel politicians in Washington to move the embassy to Jerusalem, and Trump made it a signature promise of his 2016 election campaign.

The decision was popular with many conservative and evangelical Christians who voted for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, many of whom support political recognition of Israel’s claim to the city.

Trump acted under a 1995 law that requires the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem, but to which other presidents since then – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – consistently signed waivers.

WHY DOES JERUSALEM PLAY SUCH AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT?

Religion, politics and history.

Jerusalem has been fought over for millennia by its inhabitants, and by regional powers and invaders.

It is sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and each religion has sites of great significance there.

Israel’s government regards Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the country, although that is not recognised internationally. Palestinians feel equally strongly, saying that East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The city even has different names. Jews call it Jerusalem, or Yerushalayim, and Arabs call it Al-Quds, which means ‘The Holy’.

But the city´s significance goes further.

At the heart of the Old City is the hill known to Jews across the world as Har ha-Bayit, or Temple Mount, and to Muslims internationally as al-Haram al-Sharif, or The Noble Sanctuary. It was home to the Jewish temples of antiquity but all that remains of them above ground is a restraining wall for the foundations built by Herod the Great. Known as the Western Wall, this is a sacred place of prayer for Jews.

Within yards of the wall, and overlooking it, are two Muslim holy places, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, which was built in the 8th century. Muslims regard the site as the third holiest in Islam, after Mecca and Medina.

The city is also an important pilgrimage site for Christians, who revere it as the place where they believe that Jesus Christ preached, died and was resurrected.

WHAT IS THE CITY’S MODERN HISTORY AND STATUS?

In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the then British-ruled Palestine should be partitioned into an Arab state and a Jewish state. But it recognized that Jerusalem had special status and proposed international rule for the city, along with nearby Bethlehem, as a ‘corpus separatum’ to be administered by the United Nations.

That never happened. When British rule ended in 1948, Jordanian forces occupied the Old City and Arab East Jerusalem. Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it.

In 1980 the Israeli parliament passed a law declaring the ‘complete and united’ city of Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. But the United Nations regards East Jerusalem as occupied, and the city’s status as disputed until resolved by negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

DOES ANY OTHER COUNTRY HAVE AN EMBASSY IN JERUSALEM?

In March Guatemala’s president, Jimmy Morales, said that his country will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 16, two days after the US move.

Netanyahu said in April that ‘at least half a dozen’ countries were now ‘seriously discussing’ following the US lead, but he did not identify them.

In December, 128 countries voted in a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution calling on the United States to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel´s capital. Nine voted against, 35 abstained and 21 did not cast a vote.

WHAT IS LIKELY TO HAPPEN NEXT? HAS JERUSALEM BEEN A FLASHPOINT BEFORE?

Since Trump’s announcement there have been Palestinian protests and wider political tensions.

Arab leaders across the Middle East have warned the move could lead to turmoil and hamper US efforts to restart long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

More than 40 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops in Gaza during a six-week border protest due to culminate on May 15, the day after the US Embassy move and when Palestinians traditionally lament homes and land lost with Israel’s creation.

Although the clashes have not been on the scale of the Palestinian intifadas of 1987-1993 and 2000-2005, violence has erupted before over matters of sovereignty and religion.

In 1969 an Australian Messianic Christian tried to burn down Al-Aqsa Mosque. He failed but caused damage, and prompted fury across the Arab world.

In 2000, the Israeli politician Ariel Sharon, then opposition leader, led a group of Israeli lawmakers onto the Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif complex. A Palestinian protest escalated into the second intifada.

Deadly confrontations also took place in July after Israel installed metal detectors at the complex’s entrance after Arab-Israeli gunmen killed two Israeli policemen there.

Source: Reuters

Team: The White House advisers attended the inauguration along with other Washington delegates, including US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan (third from left in black) and Treasury Mnuchin (center)

Team: The White House advisers attended the inauguration along with other Washington delegates, including US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan (third from left in black) and Treasury Mnuchin (center)

A US delegation in Jerusalem includes Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, both White House aides. She posted a picture of the couple on Twitter with Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara as she thanked the Israeli Prime Minister for his hospitality at a welcome reception

White House advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump reportedly received a blessing from a rabbi who previously compared black people to monkeys

White House advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump reportedly received a blessing from a rabbi who previously compared black people to monkeys

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) spoke at a reception welcoming the US delegation attended by both Ivanka and Jared

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) spoke at a reception welcoming the US delegation attended by both Ivanka and Jared

Ivanka and Jared were seen arriving to a reception for the US delegation. She posted this photo on Instagram

Ivanka and Jared were seen arriving to a reception for the US delegation. She posted this photo on Instagram

Trump ‘feeble minded’ over embassy move, says Iran

Iran has denounced President Donald Trump as ‘feeble-minded’ over Monday’s controversial move of the US embassy to Jerusalem, calling for resistance from the Palestinians and the international community.

‘America has entered a crisis of strategic decision-making that looks at the international arena immaturely and adventurously,’ said parliament speaker Ali Larijani, a key establishment figure, at a conference on the Palestinian situation in Tehran.

‘I believe the current US president is not capable of identifying and judging the long-term consequences of his actions,’ he added.

The United States was due to open its new embassy in Jerusalem — known as Al-Quds in Iran — later on Monday amid widespread Palestinian anger and praise from Israelis.

‘Spur-of-the-moment and uncalculated actions cannot continue in today’s world. Feeblemindness is costly for statesmen and they will eventually have to pay the price,’ Larijani said.

Iran is a key backer of Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas, and opposition to Israel has been a central tenet of its regime since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Larijani called for an ‘immediate reaction’ from Palestinians, Islamic countries and the international community — including boycotts and official complaints to the United Nations.

The US ‘must not think that such actions… can remain without a response,’ he said

There have already been weeks of protests and clashes along the Gaza border, with 54 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire there since March 30.

No Israelis have been wounded and the military has faced criticism over the use of live fire.

Israel says it only opens fire when necessary to stop infiltrations, attacks and damage to the border fence, while accusing Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the blockaded Gaza Strip, of seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence

Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the thorniest issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

In the decades since 1967, international consensus has been that the city’s status must be negotiated between the two sides, but Trump broke with that to global outrage.

He has argued that it helps make peace possible by taking Jerusalem ‘off the table’, but many have pointed out he has not announced any concessions in return from Israel.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said the US was ‘hard at work’ on the peace process, which he declared was ‘most decidedly not dead’.

Trump’s initial decision led to a series of protests in various Middle Eastern and Muslim countries.

Meanwhile, Britain has no plans to move its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and still disagrees with the U.S. decision to do so, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said on Monday.

‘The PM said in December when the announcement was first made that we disagree with the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement.

The British embassy to Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it,’ the spokesman told reporters.

He was speaking on a day when the United States was due to open its embassy in Jerusalem, an event that has led to Palestinian protests.

Israeli gunfire killed two Palestinians and wounded at least 35 other protesters along the Gaza border on Monday, health officials said.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin - part of a Washington delegation - this morning posted a photo of himself on Twitter with a plaque dedicating a square outside the new US embassy in Jerusalem

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin – part of a Washington delegation – this morning posted a photo of himself on Twitter with a plaque dedicating a square outside the new US embassy in Jerusalem

US President Donald Trump made the decision, which tossed aside decades of precedent, in December as he recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital 

US President Donald Trump made the decision, which tossed aside decades of precedent, in December as he recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

The US is not the first embassy to open in Jerusalem – and won’t be the last

When the United States opens its embassy in Jerusalem on Monday it will be the most high-profile diplomatic inauguration in the holy city, but not the first nor the last.

Several countries, mainly African and Latin American, have previously had their ambassadors based in Jerusalem and some are expected to return.

After the 1973 Yom Kippur war, Ivory Coast, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Kenya severed relations with Israel in protest and closed the doors of their embassies in Jerusalem.

They later renewed relations but moved their missions to Tel Aviv.

In 1980 Israel enacted a law declaring Jerusalem, including the mainly Palestinian eastern zone, its ‘complete and united’ capital.

The United Nations Security Council branded the move illegal and adopted a resolution calling on ‘those states that have established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions’.

A Stars and Stripes flower bed outside the new US embassy compound in Jerusalem

A Stars and Stripes flower bed outside the new US embassy compound in Jerusalem

The Netherlands, Haiti and several Latin American countries complied.

Costa Rica and El Salvador returned to Jerusalem in 1984, but left again in 2006.

In the wake of Trump’s announcement on December 6, some at least are heading back – and Israel is hoping for more.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has said his country’s embassy will move to Jerusalem on May 16, and Paraguay’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday it would follow suit.

The Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement that Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes would attend the opening ceremony, which would take place ‘by the end of the month’.

Romania’s government, supported by the speaker of its parliament, has adopted a draft proposal to move its embassy, which would make it the first European Union member to do so.

But Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who has frequently clashed with the government, opposes the move in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, and has called for Prime Minister Viorica Dancila’s resignation.

On a visit to Jerusalem last month, Dancila acknowledged that at this stage she did not have ‘support of all parties as we would wish’ to carry out the embassy move.

Czech President Milos Zeman has said he too would like to see his country’s embassy transferred to Jerusalem.

He did not reveal any firm plan, however, and the government has only announced the reopening of its honorary consulate in Jerusalem and the establishment of a Czech cultural centre in the city.

On the other side of coin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas his country would not move its Tel Aviv embassy to Jerusalem, official Palestinian media reported.

The EU is sticking firmly to the international community’s decades-long position that sovereignty in Jerusalem can only be decided by negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Shortly after the Trump announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Brussels for talks with EU foreign ministers.

‘I believe that all or most of the European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem,’ he told them, earning a chilly response from the bloc’s foreign policy head Federica Mogherini.

‘He can keep his expectations for others, because from the European Union member states’ side this move will not come,’ she said.

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Negotiations, Regulation  and Transparency — Promises Lower Drug Prices — Tough Talk — Follow The Money — Videos

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Number of People Receiving Medicare (2016): *

Total Medicare beneficiaries

• Aged

• Disabled

 56.8 million

• 47.8 million

•   9.0 million

Part A (Hospital Insurance, HI) beneficiaries

• Aged

• Disabled

 56.5 million

• 47.5 million

•   9.0 million

Part B (Supplementary Medical Insurance, SMI) beneficiaries

• Aged

• Disabled

 52.1 million

• 43.9 million

•   8.2 million

Part C (Medicare Advantage) beneficiaries   17.6 million
Part D (Prescription Drug Benefit) beneficiaries  43.2 million

·        Totals may not add due to rounding.

Medicare Eligibility:

  • Individuals ages 65 and over, who are eligible for Social Security payments
  • Individuals under 65 with a disability, who receive Social Security cash payments
  • People of all ages with end-stage renal disease

Average Benefit per Enrollee (2016):

Total: $12,829

  • Part A: $4,968
  • Part B: $5,558
  • Part D: $2,304

Status of Medicare Trust Funds (2016): *

Medicare Trust Funds (billions): HI (Part A) SMI

(Part B) (Part D)

Total
Assets at end of 2015 $193.8 $68.1   $1.3 $263.2
Total income in 2016

Payroll taxes
Interest
Taxation of Benefits
Premiums
General Revenue/Other

$290.8

$253.5
7.7
23.0
3.3
3.3

 $313.2  $106.2

—– —–
2.1   0
— — —–
72.1   13.8
239.0    92.4

$710.2

$253.5
9.8
23.0
89.1
334.7

Total expenditures in 2016

Benefits
Administrative Expenses

$285.4

$280.5 
     4.9

$293.4  $100.0

$289.5 $99.5 
      3.9     0.5

$678.7

$669.5 
     9.2

Net change in assets $ 5.4   $19.8   $6.3 $31.5
Assets at end of 2016 $199.1 $ 88.0    $7.6 $294.7

*Totals may not add due to rounding

Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A (HI) Financing and Tax Rate:

Financing: Primarily financed by payroll taxes

  • Tax rate paid by employee: 1.45%
  • Tax rate paid by employer: 1.45%
  • Total tax rate paid by both employer-employee: 2.90%
  • Total tax rate paid by self-employed: 2.90%
  • Beginning in 2013, workers pay an additional 0.9 percent of their earnings above $200,000 (for those who file an individual return) or $250,000 (for those who file a joint income tax return)

Medicare Part A Benefits (2018):

Hospital Benefits – Initial deductible: $1,340

– Daily co-insurance:

  • $0 (1st ~ 60th day)
  • $335 (61st ~ 90th day)
  • $670 (91st ~ 150th day, lifetime reserve days)
Skilled Nursing Facility Benefits – Deductible: $0

– Daily co-insurance:

  • $0 (1st ~ 20th day)
  • $167.50 (21st ~ 100th day)
  • – No benefits starting the 101st day
Home Health Services Benefits – No deductible

– 20% of Medicare –approved amount for durable medical equipment

Hospice Benefits – Deductible: $0

– Up to $5 co-payment per prescription for outpatient drugs for pain and symptom management

Medicare Part B

Financing:

  • About 25% by monthly premiums;
  • About 75% from general federal revenues

Medicare Part B Benefits (2018):

Coverage: Physician and outpatient care, medical supplies, home health, and preventive services
Standard Monthly premiums: The standard Part B premium is $134.00. However, most people who receive Social Security benefits will pay less ($130 on average) because Part B premiums increased more than the cost-of-living increase for 2018 Social Security benefits. Monthly premiums have been means-tested since 2007.

If Your Yearly Income in 2016 was You Pay
File Individual Tax Return File Joint Tax Return
$85,000 or below $170,00 or below $134.00
$85,001 – $107,000 $170,001 – $214,000 $187.50
$107,001 – $133,500 $214,001 – $267,000 $267.90
$133,501 – $160,000 $267,001 – $320,000 $348.30
above $160,000 Above $320,000 $428.60
Initial deductible: $183.00
Co-pay: 20% of covered expenses
Penalty for late enrollment : 10% of monthly premium for each full 12 months of late enrollment for life (Exception: late enrollment due to cancellation of an employer-sponsored group insurance)

Medicare Part D

Financing:

• About 13% by monthly premiums;

• About 78% from general federal revenues

• About 9% from state payments and interest

Medicare Part D Benefits (2018):

Coverage: Outpatient prescription drugs
Monthly premiums: The national base beneficiary premium for 2018 is $35.02. As of 2011, monthly premiums are mean-tested.

If Your Yearly Income in 2016 was You Pay
File Individual Tax Return File Joint Tax Return
$85,000 or below $170,00 or below Plan Premium
$85,001 – $107,000 $170,001 – $214,000 $13.00+Plan Premium
$107,001 – $160,000 $214,001 – $320,000 $33.60+Plan Premium
$160,001 – $214,000 $320,001 – $428,000 $54.20+Plan Premium
above $214,000 Above $428,000 $74.80+Plan Premium
Annual deductible $405*
Co-insurance: 25% of drug costs between $405 and $3,750*:
Coverage gap: 44% out-of-pocket spending for generic drug costs between $3,750~$5,000*. A 65% discount is available on covered brand-name prescription drugs at the time of purchase.
Extra help: Benefit for people with income less than $18,210 for an individual ($24,690 for a married couple living together) and up to $14,100 in resources ($28,150 for a married couple).
Note: Individual states might apply different criteria for extra help.
Penalty for late enrollment: 1% of the national average premium for each month not enrolled for life (Exception for late enrollment due to having prescription drug coverage that is as good as Medicare’s).

* Varies by individual plans and indexed to the annual percentage increase in Part D expenditures thereafter.

Supplemental Insurance

Medigap:

  • Each state offers up to 10 standard plans.
  • Starting June 1 2010, plans E, H, I, or J are no longer available to buy. People who already have one of these plans are able to continue with it. Also, Plans M and N are new policies introduced in 2010.
  • 23% of all Medicare beneficiaries have a Medigap policy.

Medicare Savings Programs:

Benefit for dual eligibles (those who qualify for Medicare and Medicaid benefits):

·   20% of Medicare beneficiaries received Medicaid in 2017.

Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries
(QMBs)
– Entitled to Medicare Part A

– Asset test

  • Not exceeding $7,560 for an individual;
  • Not exceeding $11,340 for married couples

– Monthly income limit: Most states: $1,032 for an individual or $1,392 for a couple

– Coverage: Medicare Part A & B premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.

Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiaries (SLMBs) – Entitled to Medicare Part A

– Asset test:

  • Not exceeding $7,560 for an individual;
  • Not exceeding $11,340 for married couples

– Monthly income limit: Most states: $1,234 for an individual or $1,666 for a couple

– Coverage: Medicare Part B premiums only

Qualifying Individuals
(QIs)
– Limited number of beneficiaries per year

– Entitled to Medicare Part A

– Asset test:

  • Not exceeding $7,560 for an individual;
  • Not exceeding $11,340 for married couples

– Monthly income limit: Most states: $1,386 for an individual or $1,872 for a couple

– Coverage: Medicare Part B premiums only

Medicaid Only
(Non QMB, SLMB, or QI)
– Entitled to Medicare Part A and/or Part B and are eligible for full Medicaid benefits

– Typically, these individuals need to spend down to qualify for
Medicaid or fall into a Medicaid eligibility poverty group

– Coverage: Full Medicaid benefits, Medicare cost-sharing
liability

Note: Individual states might have less restrictive criteria for dual eligibility.

Medicare Advantage (MA):

  • Eligibility to choose a MA plan: People who are enrolled in both Medicare A and B, pay the Part B monthly premium, do not have end-state renal disease, and live in the service area of the plan.
  • Formerly know as Medicare+Choice or Medicare Health Plans.
  • Benefits are provided by private insurance companies.
  • Premiums, cost sharing, and coverage vary by plan.
  • 18.4 Million enrollees (32% of all Medicare enrollees) in 2016.

http://www.ncpssm.org/our-issues/medicare/medicare-fast-facts/

 

WATCH LIVE: President Trump to discuss lowering drug prices

Trump announces plan to bring drug prices “back down to Earth”

HHS Secretary Alex Azar On President Donald Trump’s Drug Price Plans | CNBC

Trump unveils sweeping plan to lower prescription drug costs

White House press briefing with Sarah Sanders | Friday, 11 May 2018

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Part D Options When You Don’t Take Prescription Drugs

Medicare Part D Stages of Your Journey

Medicaid

HHS Sec. Alex Azar Presents “The Most Comprehensive Attack On Prescription Drug Affordability In History”

Following Friday’s announcement on lowering prescription drug costs, Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar explained the president’s new 50-point plan to lower health costs at the White House press briefing:

(You can watch Sarah Sanders answer questions for Friday here)

“There are over 50 actions that we have in — in the blueprint. And this is, again, not one-and-done, OK? We are learning. We are open. We’re hearing. We want to — we want this to be an active, ongoing process. This doesn’t get solved tomorrow. It’s going to take years of restructuring this system, but these are big. They’re bold steps. This is the most comprehensive attack on prescription drug affordability in history by any president,” Azar explained.

Trump’s plan, called “American Patients First,” seeks to increase competition, improve negotiation and create incentives to lower list prices of prescription drugs. It also includes rebate-sharing in Medicare drug plans, promoting generics and copycat versions of drugs and requiring drug manufacturers to publish list prices for drugs in television advertisements.

AZAR: Thank you, Sarah. Good afternoon, everyone. Well, as the president said earlier, we need a system for prescription drug prices that puts American patients first and one that takes case of America’s patients and doesn’t take advantage of them. What I wanted to do was try to just put a frame together for the actions that you’ll see in the blueprint and what the president and I talked about today to – so you just have a sense where we’re going here.

There are four major problems that we face. The first is high list prices for drugs. The second is government rules that get in the way of plans getting good deals for our senior citizens in our Medicare program. The third if foreign countries free riding off of American innovation. And the fourth is high out of pocket costs, especially for our seniors.

So, as you heard from the president today, this administration has already made a lot of progress in this regard. So, in the first year and a half in office the FDA has approved more generic drugs than ever before in history saving $8.8 billion in the first year. We also changed Medicare’s reimbursement rules to bring down the out of pocket spending for senior citizens saving them $320 million out of pocket on the drugs that they buy each year.

That work and the work that we’re laying out now in the president’s blueprint, it’s focused on four strategies to help fix this very complex problem that we face. First, increase competition. Second, increased and better negotiation. Third, incentives to actually lower list prices. And, fourth, lowering out of pocket costs.

So, first, it’s crucial that we have more competition in the prescription drug markets. That means we need a vital and vibrant generic drug industry and generic drug market. We need to foster and nurture a new competitive biosimilar generic drug market. Those are the generics essentially for those really complex, expensive biologic medicines. AZAR: We need to foster and nurture that. We also have to get after pharma companies who engage in anti-competitive practices and try to block the entry of generics or biosimilar products to market by, for instance, blocking access to their product so they can’t do the studies they need to do in order to get approval of an affordable generic or biosimilar market.

So, we’re going to go after all these kinds of abuses. Second, we’ve got to bring more private sector negotiation and better tools to our Medicare program so we get the best deals.

The Part D drug discount program for senior citizens is now 15 years old. I was there when we created it and helped to launch it. And when we did it, it was the — it was — it still is a great program, but it had the best tools, it was the best at negotiating great deals for our senior citizens.

And really was able to drive type formularies that were very efficient, and that’s what’s helped keep the cost of that Part D drug plan down below forecast and constantly low premiums throughout its time. But, over 15 years as so often happens with government programs, it got frozen in place.

And the private sector kept adapting and learning, especially after the economic crisis in 2007 how to control drug spend even better, OK? Part D stayed more static. We need now to bring the same tools that are available to the private sector to those Part D drug plans so they can negotiate better.

We need to unleash them so they can drive great deals for our seniors. We also have another part of our program, a major part which is called Part B. These are the drugs the physician administers. Mentioned those in the Rose Garden.

Those are — these right now are paid basically on a list price plus a markup. They send us a bill, we write a check. There’s no negotiation involved in that at all and the President has proposed in his budget, and we are reemphasizing we have got to figure out ways to move those drugs, especially the high cost ones into the private Part D drug plan negotiations.

So that we can get a deal and start getting bargains on that for our seniors and for taxpayers, we need to look at other mechanisms. And you’ll see that in the blueprint, some other ones that also help us negotiate better deals there for those plans.

Third, and this is a very complex area. Right now we have to bring incentives to lower list drug prices, OK? Right now, every incentive in the system is to increase and have high list drug prices. Because everybody in the system except the patient and the taxpayer is wetting their beak along the way.

They’re getting a — they’re getting a percent of that list price. List price goes up, list price higher, everybody makes more money along the way, so that it’s just — the math just works that way. We need to try to flip the incentives backwards so that financially it makes less sense to increase prices.

So one of the things we’re going to do, the President — I talked about this in the Rose Garden, is that we are having the FDA look at how we can require, in direct to consumer TV ads, that you have to disclose the list price of your drug.

We believe it’s an important part of fair balance, that if you’re telling a patient, activating a patient to have a discussion with their doctor about a drug, telling them all the good things that drug can do for them, it’s material and relevant to know if it’s a $50,000 or a $100 drug.

Because often that patient is going to have to bear a lot of that cost. In addition, we have in Medicaid and Medicare some key incentives that we can turn around on list prices. As part of Obamacare, one of the deals with the pharma industry was capping the statutory rebates on drugs in the Medicaid program at 100 percent.

We are going to work with Congress to look at overturning that cap on rebates. That again will make the math work so that when you increase your list price, it’s going to cost more money if you’re a pharma executive thinking about raising prices. AZAR: We’re also proposing — we want to think about some really creative ideas of — in our programs of reversing those incentives. So right now in our drug discount program, if you have a drug that fits into one of these protected classes, it’s almost impossible for the drug plan to negotiate and get any kind of discount from you, OK?

Well, that’s a — that — everybody gets that. What if, instead, we say, “You only get to be in that protected class if you haven’t raised your list price in the previous 18 months”? What if we say, “You can be exempt from these specialty tiers, where you — where the patient has to pay a lot out of pocket, but only if you haven’t increased your list price in the previous 18 months”? So a lot of tools like that.

The other big area we have to look at is the entire system of rebates that we have with pharmacy benefit managers. We are calling into question today the entire structure of using rebates as the method of negotiating discounts in the pharmacy channel, because right now, every incentive is for the drug company to have a very high list price, and to negotiate rebates down, often in a very nontransparent way.

What if, instead, we said, “No rebates. Flat price, fixed price in the contracts”; take away this whole, what’s called the gross-to-spread that removes that, and makes people indifferent to what the list price is in — in — in that system, and takes away the incentives, where even the pharmacy benefit manager makes money from higher list prices?

We also have a — a real issue that we’ve got a look at, which is the role of compensation for pharmacy benefit managers. They’re taking it now from both sides. They’re getting compensated by their customers, the insurance companies, but they’re also getting compensated by the drug companies they’re supposed to be negotiating against. They’re getting rebates, and keeping some of the rebates. They’re getting administrative fees.

Should we move to a fiduciary model, where the pharmacy benefit manager works for the insurance company or the individual, and only is compensated by the insurance company or individual; forbid renumeration from the — from the pharmaceutical company, so that it’s all completely on one side there, complete alignment of interest?

And then finally, how do we lower out-of-pocket drug costs? Well, as the president talked about it, we’re going to get rid of — we’re going to get rid of these gag rules, OK? Right now, some pharmacy benefit managers are telling pharmacists, “You’re not allowed to tell the patient that if they paid cash for this generic drug, it would be cheaper for you than if you run it through your insurance.” We think that’s unconscionable, and in part D, we’re going to work to — we’re going to work to block that.

We also think it’s a right, that when you’re sitting there with your doctor, you ought to be able to know what your out-of-pocket is for drug you’re going to be prescribed under your precise drug plan, and you ought to have that information. And you ought to have information on what competing drugs are that your doctor’s not prescribing, and what you would pay out-of-pocket for that. And that ought to be across the part B plan, and the part D plan.

Let me give you an example: You’re in with a doctor. This doctor has an infusion clinic, OK, as part of their office. OK, so they write you a drug that might be an infused drug. You might have a $300 co-pay for that. Well, wouldn’t you like to know that if the doctor instead wrote you a self-injectable drug, you’d have a $20 co-pay? And you could at least have an informed discussion. So we think that kind of informed consumer on out-of-pocket will also help drive real savings in the system.

So these are just some of the measures. There are over 50 actions that we have in — in the blueprint. And this is, again, not one-and-done, OK? We are learning. We are open. We’re hearing. We want to — we want this to be an active, ongoing process. This doesn’t get solved tomorrow. It’s going to take years of restructuring this system, but these are big. They’re bold steps. This is the most comprehensive attack on prescription drug affordability in history by any president. And I’m just grateful President Trump is, you know, standing behind us to — and — and encouraging us to do these kind of bold measures.

So with that said, let me open it up to questions.QUESTION: There’s a tremendous number of moving parts in — in this blueprint, many of which will require legislative action. How much of this works without the rest? Do you have to do it all, or can you do just part of it?

And — and how much can be done through executive action versus legislation?

AZAR: That’s a great question. Most of this, we believe, can be done by executive action. Now, we are more than happy to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis, so many of these solutions ought to be attracting bipartisan support. We all acknowledge this. These are problems we have to deal with.

But we believe most of these actions are steps that we can take using our regulatory authorities, especially with the power in the Medicare program.

They are — few of them are interdependent, and so it’s not as if any one is requiring a preceding act, there. We think we can attack many of these steps.

It is complex, though. It is very — because the system is rocket science. It’s unbelievably complex. And this — it is a very sophisticated approach, hitting at so many of the financial and business levers behind the system.

Instead of throwing just sort of political speak at this as — as it would have been easy to do, it’s a very business mindset focus on how do you actually change the underlying financial levers here to genuinely solve the problems?

That’s what the president wants. He wants it to actually solve the problem and lead to results.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary?

AZAR: Hi.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you. How soon will consumers actually see lower drug prices?

AZAR: Yes, so already they’re seeing lower drug prices from that historic level of generic drug approval last year. That’s almost $9 billion a year from all those generics on the market. The cuts that we made on how we reimburse on Medicare drugs, $320 million a year from that already; As we make more of these — we’re going to — we are — we are certainly moving forward with any of these changes to make sure that they’re going to see it in the pocketbook right away.

You know, let’s — so it — it’ll — it’s going to take time. Some of this will take regulatory action. We’ll have to go through the administrative process.

But I can tell you, as soon as I walked out of the Rose Garden — you know what the first question the president and the chief of staff had was?

QUESTION: (Inaudible)?

AZAR: When’s the execution? I want the execution framework. We’re going to have a meeting next week on the timelines and getting it all done.

So there’s…

QUESTION: Is it a matter of weeks or is it months, that consumers could actually see that benefit?

AZAR: It’s — it’s going to be months for the kind of actions that we need to take, here. Again, this is — this is — it took decades to erect this very complex interwoven system.

We’re talking about entrenched market players, complex financial arrangements that have — would have to be redesigned.

So I don’t want to overpromise that, somehow, you know, on Monday, there’s a radical change. But there’s a deep commitment that this is — this is fundamental, structural change that we’re talking about, to — to our system.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary?

AZAR: Yes?

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much (ph). India is making a lot of jokes (ph). (Inaudible) how India is going to be effected to this (inaudible) today?

Also, at the same time, next month is Yoga International Day announced by the United Nations and the prime minister of India. How yoga can help — maybe you don’t need any drugs if you have yoga?

AZAR: Well, I’ll stick with the first one, which is the generic — which is generic drugs. Generic drugs, competition in our system is absolutely vital. That’s why — deep commitment of the administration to remove any anti-competitive barriers to generic competition.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary?

AZAR: Yes?

QUESTION: You talked about calling into question the entire rebate structure.

AZAR: Yes.

QUESTION: Specifically what steps are you doing to — now, and when might consumers see change on that?

AZAR: Yes. So as part of the blueprint, we’re releasing a request for information that’s the initiation of seeking input. This is — this is the restructure — this is the possible restructuring of a major sector of the economy.

One doesn’t do that lightly. It’s beginning a national dialogue with the public, with — with stakeholders, with Congress on — if we were to do this, if we were to outlaw rebates, say in the Part D Drug Discount Program, and instead require that the products be discounted at a fixed price.

So, for instance, just to explain how this works now, let’s say you have $1,000 drug. You go to the pharmacy benefit manager and say, hey, if you cover my drug, I’ll give you a 30 percent rebate on that after the fact if any of your patients use this. OK, so a $300 rebate on that.

What this would say is instead of that, you would have to negotiate and the contract would say you get reimbursed $700 this year, and then maybe $702 next year, if — for — for some inflation. So, it’s fixed and indifferent than to list price. So this game — what goes on now is frankly, a bit of a game, which is the drug company negotiates this 30 percent rebate and then, the next day, increases price 30 percent.

And it’s — it’s this game of chase that goes on. Instead, fix price, make everything indifferent to this list price and all the fees not be based on — on a percent of this artificial list price, which for so many people is like the rack rate on the back of your hotel room door. You know, almost nobody pays it. But too many people now in the health care system are paying it, and they’re suffering from that.

QUESTION: But, any timeline for this, like how long it’s going to take, or?

AZAR: Well that’s a — so, this is out today and we’re going to seek comment. And we want to learn. And then we’ll — we’re going to — we’re going to move forward on that if it makes sense. And we need to learn how to restructure — restructure things.

I believe that even one pharmacy benefit manager just yesterday talked about this precise issue of restructuring their contracts to get out of this rebate spread conundrum that the world is in. So I believe it’s doable and I think it will have tremendous systemic impact. Yes.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there are a couple of notorious examples in the last couple of years of drug companies buying drugs that have been on the market for years and suddenly raising their prices extraordinarily.

AZAR: Yes.

QUESTION: Is there anything in this blueprint that addresses that…

AZAR: There is, yes.

QUESTION: … For example, the — the EpiPen situation a couple years ago?

AZAR: There is. So, one of the elements on increasing the power of negotiation that we’re doing in this plan is if a sole-source generic drug — which is what these instances that have gotten so much attention in the past several years, this is when you have one generic drug out there.

And if there is any increase in price by a sole-source generic, we are going to allow the drug plan to reopen their drug formulary immediately and take action against that drug, whereas right now they have to wait the — for the end of the year on the new plan cycle. They can immediately go after that drug, come up with alternative drugs or create preferential treatment for other drugs right away, if there’s any increase in price of a sole-sourced generic.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary?

AZAR: Yes.

QUESTION: Yes. So you’re talking about the increases in drug prices, while in areas like Maryland and Virginia insurers are talking about double digit health insurance premium increases. There’s a Maryland regulator that’s said something like the ACA is in the death spiral and echoing past words (ph) of the president. What are you doing to deal with that? Does HHS just accept these premium predictions as reality? What are you doing to reduce those costs?

AZAR: So — so, some of these premium submissions right now, it is the very beginning of a process that happens with state regulators around — around those insurance designs. These price increases were happening under President Obama. They continue because of the structural infirmities in how Obamacare was designed.

This is why the president has been so adamant about producing alternative, affordable options for patients because for so many — the 28 million forgotten men and women in this country have been forced out of the individual market. And they’re sitting there without insurance, even though they were promised they would have accessible, affordable, competitive insurance that they could keep.

You know, 6.7 million Americans paid $3.1 billion in the Obamacare taxes for the privilege of not buying insurance they couldn’t afford and didn’t want. And 80 percent of them make $50,000 or less.

So we’re trying to bring short-term plans as an option for people. We’re trying to bring association health plans out of the Labor Department as options for people. The president is just — We want to keep looking for more options to get people out of some of the traps that the — the Obamacare system has created of these high-cost and uncompetitive plans for people.

Yes?

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I have a question about another issue at HHS — HHS (ph), actually. Justice Department has indicated the department is set to change an Obamacare rule that would bar medical practitioners from denying mental treatment to transgender people, including gender reassignment surgery. Will HHS repeal that rule?

AZAR: I’m not familiar with that — with that particular issue, so I’m going to — I’m — I’m going to talk about drug price. I’m not familiar with that. I’ll look into that when I get back over to the department. Thank you.

Yes?

QUESTION: Thank you. So you talked about Medicare Part B, negotiating better — better prices. That is same thing that the president referred to when he said that other countries’ socialized Medicare — medicine systems are — are ripping us off. Why is that OK for Medicare, but not for other countries?

AZAR: So the difference is — the difference is having entities negotiate in a competitive environment. So what happens in some of these socialist countries? I dealt with them in the past. What they do is they say, “You don’t come into this country unless you pay this low price, and here’s — here’s a low, below-market, noncompetitive price. You either pay it, or you don’t come into this country.” And they don’t really care if the people of their country don’t get access to that drug, and the people aren’t informed, even, that they don’t have access to that medicine in these — in these ration systems.

And so that’s completely different from what we’re doing, where we’re harnessing the power of the private negotiating market to negotiate deals.

So for instance, the way Part D works, the system that we want to try to emulate and use tools from in that Part B, is one drug plan might say, “I’m not going to cover this drug because I didn’t get a good enough deal,” and then another plan might cover that drug because they think they got a good enough deal. But the key is, the senior citizen’s in the driver’s seat. They get to say, “All right, then I’m going to choose. I need that drug. I’m going to buy this plan, and I’ll pay the premium for that plan, because I want insurance there.”

You know, if you’re in a socialized country, it’s one-size-fits-all. You can’t exit, except gone and — getting on an airplane to America, where you can get access to that medicine.

So yes?

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you. When people hear about this plan, read about this plan over the upcoming days, they’re presumably going to learn about yourself as well, and they might say, “Wait a minute. Somebody who was a pharma executive is now going to be the one in charge of lowering drug prices.” How is that going to work? Your pitch to Americans, that they can trust you to oversee this effort would be what?

AZAR: I’d say trust us by our actions, and by the deeds in the blueprint: over 50 action plans that are hard-hitting. It’s the hardest-hitting plan ever proposed by a president across the entire spectrum of every player in this industry to drive down drug prices, and make drugs more affordable. And this is exactly — I know this from having been on the other side, running a drug company, in these — and these issues, which is, I actually looked at, if you could lower drug prices. It didn’t work for any one company. You —

This is how perverse the system is: You put yourself at a disadvantage in the system by having a lower-list-price drug than others, again, because every player in the system makes more money as a percent off of that list price. This is precisely why I’m so excited to be here in government, with the knowledge that I’ve got, and this team has about how we can change the rules of the road, and actually change the system, so that we can reverse those incentives to make that work, make those choices work, bring down drug prices, and make things more affordable.

Trump Promises Lower Drug Prices, but Drops Populist Solutions

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The plan announced by President Trump and Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, on Friday would give private entities more tools to negotiate better deals on behalf of consumers, insurers and employers.CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump vowed on Friday to “bring soaring drug prices back down to earth” by promoting competition among pharmaceutical companies, and he suggested that the government could require drugmakers to disclose prices in their ubiquitous television advertising.

But he dropped the popular and populist proposals of his presidential campaign, opting not to have the federal government directly negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare. And he chose not to allow American consumers to import low-cost medicines from abroad.

He would instead give private entities more tools to negotiate better deals on behalf of consumers, insurers and employers.

Speaking in the sun-splashed Rose Garden of the White House, Mr. Trump said that a “tangled web of special interests” had conspired to keep drug prices high at the expense of American consumers.Everyone involved in the broken system — the drugmakers, insurance companies, distributors, pharmacy benefit managers and many others — contribute to the problem,” Mr. Trump said. “Government has also been part of the problem because previous leaders turned a blind eye to this incredible abuse. But under this administration we are putting American patients first.”

His proposals hardly put a scare into the system he criticized.

Ronny Gal, a securities analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, said the president’s speech was “very, very positive to pharma,” and he added, “We have not seen anything about that speech which should concern investors” in the pharmaceutical industry.

Shares of several major drug and biotech companies rose immediately after the speech, as did the stocks of pharmacy benefit managers, the “middlemen” who Mr. Trump said had gotten “very, very rich.” The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index rose 2.7 percent on Friday. CVS Health, which manages pharmacy benefits for many insurers and employers, finished up 3.2 percent.

Mr. Trump and other Republicans are eager to show an achievement on health care this year to counter arguments by Democrats who say that Americans are losing coverage because of Mr. Trump’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. Soaring pharmaceutical prices are directly hitting consumer wallets, and high-profile cases — like the sudden jump in the price of EpiPens or the jailing of the hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli, who greatly increased the price of a drug under his control — have turned pharmaceuticals into a hot political topic.

Many of Mr. Trump’s ideas can be put into effect through regulations or guidance documents. Some will require legislation.

Republicans in Congress welcomed the president’s attention to high drug prices and promised to review his proposals, which Mr. Trump said would “derail the gravy train for special interests.”

Democrats embraced the opportunity to push health care back to the center of the political debate.

“President Trump offered little more than window dressing to combat the rising cost of drugs — a problem that is pinching the pocketbook of far too many Americans,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said after the speech. “We Democrats have offered a better deal on prescription drugs through true transparency, Medicare Part D negotiation, and a cop on the beat to police and stop exorbitant price hikes.”

After supporting some of those same proposals on the campaign trail, Mr. Trump pivoted to a different approach. He said his administration would provide new powers for Medicare’s private prescription drug plans, known as Part D, to negotiate lower prices but he would not use the purchasing power of the federal government to conduct direct negotiations. He said he would make it easier for pharmacists to inform patients of cheaper alternatives and would speed the approval of over-the-counter drugs “so that patients can get more medicines without prescription.”

Mr. Trump also denounced foreign countries that he said “extort unreasonably low prices from U.S. drugmakers” so that their citizens often pay much less than American consumers for the same drugs.

“America will not be cheated any longer, and especially will not be cheated by foreign countries,” Mr. Trump said. He directed his trade representative to “make fixing this injustice a top priority” in negotiations with every trading partner.

“It’s time to end the global freeloading once and for all,” Mr. Trump said.

It is not clear why higher profits in other countries would be passed on to American consumers in the form of lower prices, and officials in those countries pushed back hard.

“With our price regulations, drug companies are still making profits — just lower profits than in the United States,” said Dr. Mitchell Levine, the chairman of Canada’s Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, which reviews prices to ensure they are not excessive.

The administration floated several ideas that could radically change the marketing of prescription drugs.

Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, said the Food and Drug Administration would explore requiring drug companies to disclose list prices in their television advertisements.

The government, he said, will consider whether to “outlaw rebates” — the discounts and price concessions that are a key link in the drug supply chain. Pharmacy benefit managers are hired by insurers and large employers to negotiate lower drug prices, but they also receive rebate payments from drugmakers, creating a potential conflict of interest, the administration said.

Mr. Trump said he would end “the dishonest double-dealing that allows the middleman to pocket rebates and discounts that should be passed on to consumers and patients.”

Mark Merritt, the president and chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents drug benefit managers, said the real problem was the high prices set by drugmakers.

“Getting rid of rebates and other price concessions would leave patients and payers, including Medicaid and Medicare, at the mercy of drug manufacturers’ pricing strategies,” Mr. Merritt said.

Thomas M. Moriarty, an executive vice president of CVS Health, said his company already offers clients the option to share rebates and discounts with consumers when they fill prescriptions.

Experts said some of the president’s ideas could help lower drug prices.

“It’s framed as a pro-competitive agenda, and touches on a range of government programs that the administration can change through regulation — so that the president can take unilateral action,” said Daniel N. Mendelson, the president of Avalere Health, a research and consulting company. “The trick here for the administration is to do something visible before the midterm elections, so they can take credit for an action that reduces drug prices for consumers.”

Mr. Trump’s “blueprint to lower drug prices” has four main themes: increasing competition in drug markets; giving private plans more tools to negotiate discounts for Medicare beneficiaries; providing new incentives for drug manufacturers to reduce list prices; and cutting consumers’ out-of-pocket costs.

The administration would lower out-of-pocket costs for Medicare patients by requiring prescription drug plans to pass on some of the discounts and rebates they receive from drug manufacturers. Patients could see those savings at the pharmacy counter. At the same time, Medicare officials say, there could be a modest increase in premiums for Medicare drug coverage.

Health policy experts like this idea because it reduces the burden on patients with serious chronic illnesses and spreads the expense of needed medications across the entire insured population.

But Democrats said Mr. Trump’s policy prescriptions fell far short of what was needed, especially next to the populist promises he made during the 2016 campaign.

“I think very expensive champagne will be popping in drug company boardrooms across the country tonight,” said Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, who has been investigating drug prices for the last year. “The president is apparently abandoning his campaign promise to authorize Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies to lower prices.”

Administration officials were somewhat defensive about the president’s plan, saying it was bold and significant even though it was not what Democrats wanted — or what candidate Trump favored.

In a round of television interviews on Friday, Mr. Azar said the president’s plan included “over 50 different initiatives — very sophisticated, the kind of thing you’d expect from a C.E.O. like Donald Trump, getting at the real heart of the business problem.”

Mr. Azar said the president’s plan would “unleash those who negotiate for us with the greater powers of the private sector” to obtain good deals.

In trade negotiations, the White House wants to put pressure on other countries to increase the prices of brand-name drugs, with the expectation that pharmaceutical companies would then lower prices here at home.

America’s trading partners “need to pay more because they’re using socialist price controls, market access controls, to get unfair pricing,” said Mr. Azar, a former top executive at the drugmaker Eli Lilly and Company. “And they’re doing it on the backs of their patients. God help you if you get cancer in some of these countries.”

Other nations, also struggling with high drug prices, scorned Mr. Trump’s advice on this issue.

“Drug manufacturers in the United States set their own prices, and that is not the norm elsewhere in the world,” a spokesman for the 28-member European Union said on Friday. “E.U. member states have government entities that either negotiate drug prices or decide not to cover drugs whose prices they deem excessive. No similar negotiating happens in the U.S.”

Katie Thomas contributed reporting from Chicago, and Peter Baker from Washington.

6 Takeaways From Trump’s Plans to Try to Lower Drug Prices

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Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, and President Trump announced a “blueprint” to try to lower drug prices.CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

President Trump has the power to sink pharmaceutical stocks with a single jab about high drug prices.

But in a much-anticipated speech on the topic on Friday, Mr. Trump largely avoided the issues the industry fears the most, such as allowing Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices, or allowing Americans to import drugs. Investors noticed: Stocks of major drug companies rose after his speech, as did those of pharmacy benefit managers, or the “middlemen” that Mr. Trump said were getting “very, very rich.”

As the health care world parsed the president’s newly released “blueprint” to lower drug prices, the overarching insight seemed to be this: The drug industry’s formidable lobbyists had won some key victories, even if they did not escape entirely unscathed. Many proposals were light on detail and will need action by Congress to become real.

Yet Mr. Trump won some praise for having taken a stab at tackling such a complex and vitally important issue to many Americans.

Here is a rundown of the key proposals unveiled on Friday.

Lower drug prices for older people

On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump embraced allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of the drugs it buys for older people, an issue traditionally supported by Democrats but long opposed by Republicans — and the powerful drug industry.

Friday’s proposal falls far short of that goal. But it does include some ideas for giving the government better leverage in negotiating with drug companies. It calls for exploring whether to allow Medicare drug plans to pay different amounts for the same drug, depending on the illness involved. And it would experiment with “value-based purchasing” in federal programs, essentially a money-back guarantee in which a drugmaker promises to refund money if a medication does not work as expected. Drug companies and insurers are increasingly entering into these kind of arrangements, although the evidence is far from clear that they lower costs.

The administration also reiterated earlier proposals: making generic drugs free for some low-income older people on Medicare and allowing people to keep a portion of the rebates that are normally pocketed by the insurers that manage the Medicare drug program.

Persuade other countries to pay more

One key proposal would involve pressuring other countries to raise their prices for prescription medicines. Drug prices in the United States are the highest in the world; many countries with centralized health care systems have successfully negotiated lower prices from pharmaceutical companies.

Mr. Trump, echoing the longstanding position of the drug industry, has said these companies are “free-riding” off the ingenuity of American corporations, and that high drug prices in the United States are subsidizing innovation that benefits the whole world.

The Trump administration plans to work with several federal agencies to address what it described as this “unfair disparity.”

But it is unclear whether other countries would be willing to raise their prices, or whether doing so would lead drug companies — which are beholden to shareholders hungry for profit — to lower prices in the United States.

Require drug ads to include the price

Prescription drug commercials are ubiquitous. But what if those ads had to disclose the drug’s price? That is something the Trump administration says it wants to explore.

The idea would certainly grab attention, and fear of a consumer backlash could pressure some drugmakers into dropping their prices.

But the notion poses a lot of issues For one: which price? The list price, which is about what a pharmacy would charge if someone paid for the drug in cash? Or the discounted price that insurers and employers pay? Most consumers have health insurance and pay a much smaller out-of-pocket cost, although that can still add up to thousands of dollars a month.

Other questions include whether such a requirement would survive a First Amendment challenge, and whether posting a high sticker price — which few ultimately pay — could dissuade patients seeking out a necessary drug.

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Oleg Deripaska

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Oleg Deripaska
Дерипаска Олег Владимирович.jpg

Deripaska in 2012
Born Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska
2 January 1968 (age 50)
DzerzhinskNizhny Novgorod OblastRussian SFSR
Residence Moscow, Russia
Citizenship Russia
Cyprus[1]
Alma mater Moscow State UniversityPlekhanov Russian Academy of Economics
Occupation Chairman of Supervisory Board of Basic Element Company
Net worth DecreaseUS$3.7 billion (April 2018)[2]
Spouse(s) Polina Yumasheva (m. 2001)
Children 2
Awards
Website Basic Element
Deripaska.com

Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska (Russian: Оле́г Влади́мирович Дерипа́ска; born January 2, 1968)[3] is a Russian oligarch of Jewish descent, aluminium magnate and philanthropist.[1] He is the founder and owner of one of the largest Russian industrial groups Basic Element. He was the president of En+ Group and United Company Rusal, the second largest aluminium company in the world,[4] until 2018.[5]

After graduating from Moscow State University with a degree in physics, Deripaska became a metals broker specialized in trading aluminium before expanding into energy, machinery, financial services and agribusiness. In 2000, Deripaska founded Rusal, the result of a partnership between Sibirsky Aluminium and Roman Abramovich‘s Millhouse Capital.[6] In 2007, Rusal merged with SUAL Group and Glencore International AG to form UC Rusal, with Deripaska as chairman.[7]

He was once Russia’s richest man, worth $28 billion, but nearly lost everything due to mounting debts amid the 2007–08 financial crisis. As of May 2017, his wealth was estimated by Forbes at $5.2 billion.[8] Deripaska is also known for his close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin, as well as his connection to American political consultant Paul Manafort, whom Deripaska employed from at least 2005 to 2009.[9]

Deripaska is also the founder of Volnoe Delo, Russia’s largest charitable foundation, and is reported to have donated more than $250 million to mostly educational causes. He is married to Polina Yumasheva, step-granddaughter of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and daughter of Valentin Yumashev, Yeltsin’s son-in-law and close advisor.

Deripaska was also granted Cypriot citizenship in 2017.[1]

Education and early career

Early life

Deripaska was born in DzerzhinskNizhny Novgorod OblastSoviet Russia and grew up in Ust-LabinskKrasnodar Krai. His parents were from Kuban[10]. He is of Russian-Jewish ancestry.[11]. Deripaska grew up on the family’s small farm, where from the age of 5 or 6, he learned how to live off the land from his grandparents,[12] who primarily raised him after his widowed mother, an engineer, had to leave to find work.[13] Deripaska credits his grandparents for teaching him the discipline of hard work along with farming.[12] Both his grandfathers fought in the Second World War; one was killed in battle and buried in a mass grave in Austria, the other returned to Russia after the war ended.[14]

Deripaska’s first job was at the Ust-Labinsk plant where his mother worked. At age 11, he became an electrician’s apprentice doing maintenance on electrical motors.[14] Deripaska acquired a passion for reading; his favorite authors were Mayne Reid and Jack London.[14]Today, Basic Element’s headquarters contain walls of books, reflecting Deripaska’s lifelong love of reading.[14] His talent for math allowed him to enroll at the physics faculty of Moscow State University in 1985.[12] One year into his studies, he was conscripted into the armed forces and served in the Soviet army’s Strategic Missile Forces[12] in the Trans-Baikal area, Siberia, from 1986–1989.[14]

Education

In 1993, Deripaska graduated with honors in physics from Moscow State University;[15] however, the collapse of the Soviet Union greatly eliminated academic funding and made it impossible for him to continue his studies as a theoretical physicist.[14] There were no stipends or grants for students either. “We had no money. It was an urgent and practical question every day. How do I earn money to buy food and keep studying?” he recalls.[14] In 1996, he earned a master’s degree from the Plekhanov University of Economics.[13]

Early career

At the age of 25, teaming up with fellow physicists, engineers and rocket scientists, Deripaska set up his first metal trading company, VTK. He adopted a systematic, scientific approach to commodity trading. “I represented companies that were buying and selling raw materials”, Deripaska said.[12] Deripaska undertook export arbitrage, buying metal at low Russian prices and selling it abroad at significantly higher international market prices. Deripaska traded primarily through the Baltic state of Estonia as the Russian system of export licenses was in disarray.[12] “I started my business at an unusual moment in history. The country in which I was born raised had disappeared, although the new country was not fully formed. The first one gave me an excellent education; the second one gave me the chance of success”, Deripaska recalled in an interview with Metal Bulletin.[14]

He used nearly all his arbitrage and trading profits to acquire his initial package of shares in the Sayanogorsk Aluminium Smelter in Southern Siberia.[16] Between 1993 and 1994, Deripaska bought vouchers and shares in Sayanogorsk, and accumulated a 20% stake in the factory, becoming the biggest individual shareholder after the Russian State — to the annoyance of the plant’s Communist-era bosses.

In 1994, Deripaska became director general of the plant at the age of 26.[12] In 1997, the smelter became the core asset of Sibirsky (Siberian) Aluminium Group.[17] Deripaska was general manager and the main shareholder of the Sayanogorsk Smelter (1994–97) and held the post of president of Sibirsky Aluminium Investment Industrial Group (1997–2001), which later became the core asset of RUSAL.[18]

Growth with RUSAL

RUSAL went on to become the largest aluminium producer in the world, until the China Hongqiao Group surpassed it in 2015. In 2010, under Deripaska’s leadership, Rusal became the first Russian company to be listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.[14]

Beyond metals, which remain at the core of his diversified industrial holding, Deripaska has acquired stakes in a wide range of companies in various sectors, including energy, manufacturing, commercial vehicles, auto components, financial and insurance services,[19]leasing businesses, construction,[20] aviation, and agriculture. Among his assets are a Siberian power company EuroSibEnergo,[21] that is Russia’s biggest private energy company; Ingosstrakh, one of Russia’s largest insurance companies; GAZ Group, a producer of cars, trucks and buses, agricultural business (Kuban Agro Holding);[22][23] and transport companies, such as a cluster of airports in the Krasnodar region, including Sochi and Krasnodar.[24] All these assets form part of the diversified investment and industrial group Basic Element.[25]

In fact, Basic Element built several Olympic facilities for 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, including the Coastal Olympic Village, Imeretisnkiy sea port, Doubler of Kurortny Avenue in Sochi, renovation of the Sochi International Airport. The total investments account for over $1.4 billion.[26]

Later business career

EN+ Group

The group was formed in 2006, with Oleg Deripaska as President and controlling shareholder.[27] The EN+ Group is a diversified mining, metals and energy groups. It owns a majority stake in UC Rusal (48.13%[28]) and in EuroSibEnergo. EN+ also holds interests in SMR, one of the world’s largest ferromolybdenum producers.

In 2017, it reported adjusted core earnings of $2.3 billion, on revenues totaling $9.8 billion.[29] Due to ongoing recovery in the commodity industry, EN+ Group announced plans to be listed at the London Stock Exchange in the first half of 2017.[30] EN+ could be valued between $10 billion and $12 billion.[30]

Basic Element

Deripaska is the sole owner and Chairman of Supervisory Board of Basic Element, a diversified investment group established in 1997. Basic Element’s assets are concentrated in five sectors: energy, manufacturing, financial services, agriculture, construction and aviation. The major assets include United Company RUSAL[31] the world’s largest aluminium and alumina producer; GAZ Group, an automotive companyIngosstrakh, the country’s oldest insurance company; Bank SOYUZ (Банк «СОЮЗ»);[32] Aviakor aircraft manufacturer; EuroSibEnergo (ЕвроСибЭнерго), an investment and energy supply company;[21] Glavmosstroy (Главмосстрой), a construction company;[33] Kuban Agroholding, an agricultural company;[22] and Basel Aero, an aviation business comprising the four largest airports in the Krasnodar territory (in joint venture with Changi Airports International).[24]

Basic Element owns companies and subsidiaries in Russia, the CIS countries, Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe and Latin America. It employs as many as 250,000 people.[25]

Metals and mining

RUSAL

United Company RUSAL is the world’s second largest aluminium company. It was the largest until it was overtaken by China Hongqiao Group in 2015. UC RUSAL accounts for almost 7% of the world’s primary aluminium output and 7% of the world’s alumina production. UC RUSAL was formed through a series of mergers and acquisitions.

In 2000, Deripaska’s Sibirsky Aluminium and Roman Abramovich‘s Millhouse Capital created a partnership to manage the aluminium and alumina assets they controlled, and founded RUSAL.[34]

In 2003, businesses led by Deripaska increased their stake in those companies under common management to 75% by acquiring half of the interest managed by Millhouse Capital.[35]

In 2004, the consolidation of RUSAL’s ownership by companies related to Deripaska was completed with the acquisition of the remaining 25% equity interest in RUSAL managed by Millhouse Capital.[34]

In order to ensure a stable supply of alumina to its smelters, several mergers and acquisitions were accomplished by RUSAL under Deripaska’s guidance. At the beginning of the 2000s, RUSAL acquired bauxite mines in Guinea, a country with the world’s largest bauxite reserves. Subsequently, RUSAL acquired a stake in an alumina refinery in Australia. After the merger with Glencore, bauxite and alumina assets in Jamaica, Italy and Ireland were added to RUSAL’s portfolio. These transactions converted RUSAL from a company with few supplies of the raw material bauxite into a vertically integrated corporation.[36]

In parallel, Deripaska invested significantly in the operational improvement of smelters inside Russia. He said, “We consolidated the industry, and located bauxites that do not exist in Russia. We established the company that became the leader of industry in less than twelve years. But to become the number one alumimium producer in the world, we had to improve our operations practice. To apply the best practices in the world, we looked at Toyota, which had utilized a precise, deep and well thought-through process for almost thirty years of operations.”[37]

Deripaska himself has been an active supporter Japanese production efficiencies made popular by the “Toyota Way.” RUSAL smelters have adopted the concept of kaizen, which means continuous improvement and involves training workers in standardized production techniques. “It’s important to change both the company’s mind set and reporting lines,” Deripaska said. “Instead of top-down management, you should understand everything is in the hands of your operator and empower that operator to drive efficiencies and improvements directly on the factory floor.”[12]

Under Deripaska’s leadership, RUSAL undertook large-scale modernization projects at a number of its facilities, including the Bratsk, Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk aluminium smelters.[38]

At Deripaska’s behest, in 2007, RUSAL; SUAL Group, one of the world’s top 10 aluminum producers; and Glencore International AG, the Swiss natural resources group, merged their assets to form United Company RUSAL, the world’s largest aluminum and alumina producer.[39]

With the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, UC Rusal was provided with a $4.5 billion loan from Russian state bank VEB to ease the company’s debt burden.[40]

In the middle of the financial crisis, Deripaska returned in 2009 to RUSAL as CEO to lead the company through the debt restructuring process. “I worked 16-hour days. We were in default, although none of the parties involved wanted to call it default.” As part of contingency measures, Deripaska cut costs at RUSAL by 25% in 2009. By December 2009, Deripaska reached a final agreement with over 70 Russian and international lenders to refinance US$17 billion of debt.[12]

In 2017, Rusal issued two Eurobonds to finance its debts. The first one, worth $600 million, was issued in February[41], followed by the second one in April, worth $500 million.[42] Also in February, plans were announced to sell 10 billion yuan worth of seven-year onshore bonds to finance purchases in China. This made Rusal the first foreign company to offer panda bonds on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.[43] The company also agreed on a pre-export finance mechanism with international lenders worth $1.7 billion for debt refinancing.[44]

In 2013, Deripaska was awarded the “Aluminium Industry Ambassador Award” in the Metal Bulletin Awards for Excellence for his “great influence within the global aluminium industry and the wider market”.[45]

As of 2017, Deripaska maintains his position as president of RUSAL, focusing on the strategic development of the company, which employs more than 61,000 people in 20 countries on five continents.[46]

Energy

EuroSibEnergo

Oleg Deripaska owns a 100% stake in EuroSibEnergo, the world’s largest private hydrogeneration company and the largest private power company in Russia.[47] It controls and manages 18 power plants with a combined installed energy capacity of 19.5 GW, including 15 GW provided by hydrogeneration. The company produces approximately 9% of all electricity in Russia and is also the leader in the Siberian energy market, with a market share totaling 41%. Some of EuroSibEnergo’s key clients include the largest aluminum plants in Russia. The company owns large fuel resources, which satisfy over 85% of the coal needs of its thermal power and boiler plants. Its coal reserves amount to 1.26 billion tons, with annual coal production exceeding 12 million tons.[47]

Deripaska’s En+ Group, of which EuroSibEnergo is a subsidiary, is investing in a joint venture with China’s largest hydroelectric power generation company China Yangtze Power Co to build new power plants in Siberia, primarily hydroelectric ones, with a total capacity of up to 10 GWt.[48]

Machinery

Russian Machines

Russian Machines corporation was established in 2005 and unites Oleg Deripaska’s machine building assets. It comprises industrial and engineering assets in the following industries: automotive OEM (GAZ Group), automotive components (RM-Systems), rail industry (RM Rail), aircraft OEM (Aviacor), road construction (RM-Terex) and agricultural machinery (AGCO-RM).[49]

Russian Machines Corporation manages 24 facilities located across 12 regions in Russia.[49]

GAZ Group

In 2000, Deripaska started acquiring machine building assets. His first acquisition was Nizhny Novgorod-based Gorkovsky Automobile Plant (GAZ), which was previously a government-run company. In 2005, GAZ Group was established by combining the businessman’s machine building assets.[50]

The Russian automotive conglomerate, GAZ Group, comprises 18 manufacturing facilities in eight regions of Russia, as well as sales and service organizations. GAZ Group produces light and medium commercial vehicles, heavy trucks, buses, cars, road construction equipment, power units, and automotive components.[49]

Airports

Oleg Deripaska’s airport business is managed by Basel Aero, a company-operator of the SochiKrasnodarGelendzhik, and Anapa airports.[51]

These airports handle more than 7% of the total passenger flow in Russia.[52] Sochi International Airport was the main gateway to Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and successfully serviced the guests and participants of the Games.[51]

In October 2014, Sochi was granted open skies status, meaning that any foreign carrier may pick up and drop off passengers and cargo with no restrictions on aircraft type, frequency, and regardless of interstate agreements.[53]

Financial services

Deripaska personally holds 10% of Ingosstrakh‘s ordinary shares. The company is a leading insurer of complex risks such as insurance for ship owners, ship hull insurance, insurance against aviation and space-related risks, and insurance of transportation companies. Ingosstrakh has 83 branches in Russia and the company’s offices operate in 220 Russian towns and cities.[54]

Agribusiness

Oleg Deripaska fully owns Kuban Agroholding, a massive agribusiness in southern Russia. The company integrates two dairy farms, а 16,000 pig capacity breeding complex, three elevators with non-recurrent grain storage capacity of more than 270,000 tonnes, three-seed plants, a sugar factory and the Sunrise horse breeding farm, specializing in the breeding of English thoroughbred horses. It is one of the top-20 largest agribusinesses and top-5 most efficient land users in Russia.[55]

Kuban Agroholding is one of the few agrocompanies in Russia involved in embryo transfer technology that allows for the reproduction of high-yielding milk cows out of less productive recipients.[56]

The company has gained significant media attention about its corn-seeding program, deploying several dozen corn brands selected by its genetic specialists.[56]

Other business appointments

In 2004, Deripaska was appointed by the President of Russia to represent the country in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council (ABAC). He has been Chairman of ABAC Russia since 2007. Deripaska is the vice president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, chairman of the executive board of the Russian national committee of the International Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Council, an agency of the Russian government.[57]

He has been a permanent participant at World Economic Forum sessions since 2007, when RUSAL became a WEF strategic partner.[58]

In May 2007, Magna International chairman Frank Stronach announced that Deripaska was becoming a strategic partner in Magna.[59]

Deripaska is also a member of the International Council at Harvard University‘s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.[60]

Deripaska personally initiated construction of the Centre for Epidemic and Microbiological Research and Treatment in the Guinean Kindia province. The Centre was designed and constructed by RUSAL specialists with the assistance of Rospotrebnadzor scientists (RUSAL has invested $10 million).[61]

Controversies

Cherney lawsuit

Michael Cherney brought legal action against Deripaska in the Commercial Court of the High Court in London.[62] Cherney sought a declaration that he was the beneficial owner of 20% of RUSAL stock which, he claimed, Deripaska held in trust for him. The claim was denied. On 3 May 2007, Justice Langley ruled that Deripaska had not been properly served, and that the court had no jurisdiction to try the claim as Deripaska did not live in England or Wales.[63]

On 3 July 2008, Justice Christopher Clarke ruled that the case should be tried in England, although “the natural forum for this litigation is Russia”, because, he held, “risks inherent in a trial in Russia…are sufficient to make England the forum in which the case can most suitably be tried in the interest of both parties and the ends of justice”.[64] On 22 July 2008, he granted Deripaska leave to appeal. The Court of Appeal of England and Wales refused the appeal on 31 July 2009.[65]

At a June 2011 case management conference, the judge deferred a decision on whether Cherney would be allowed to give evidence by video link from Israel rather than appear in person. An outstanding arrest warrant issued by Interpol meant that the British would detain him if he travelled to the UK.[66][67] In late July 2011, the High Court ruled to allow Cherney to give evidence at the trial by video link from Israel, and also set trial for April 2012.[68] Deripaska denied that Cherney was owed any stake in RUSAL, and asserted payments made to Cherney had been for unavoidable “protection” at a time when violence was sweeping the region and posed an existential threat to any profitable business in the country. In an interview with The Telegraph, Deripaska said he was one of the few who worked to clean up Russian industry and provided support to law enforcement agencies. However, in this early chaotic period paying protection money to criminal gangs was inescapable, as revealed in court testimony.[69]

In September 2012, Cherney terminated his UK lawsuit against Deripaska.[70]

U.S. investigation

In 2015, Deripaska filed a lawsuit against Morgan Stanley, accusing the bank of using insider information to short sell the businessman’s $1.5 billion investment in shares of Magma in 2008.[71]

In 2007, Deripaska’s Veleron investment vehicle acquired stock in Canadian based Magna International through a $1.2 billion loan from BNP Paribas, with Magna shares serving as collateral.[72] Morgan Stanley was involved in the deal through a swap agreement with BNP Paribas where the US bank assumed the risks of the loan in return for a fixed payment from Paribas.[73]

In September 2008, Magna’s stocks plummeted, hit by the global economic downturn. BNP issued a $93 million margin call to Veleron. Morgan Stanley, in turn, learned that Veleron was unlikely to meet the call and sold the stock short.[74] Deripaska claimed that Morgan Stanley abused its duties and engaged in unlawful insider trading that resulted in significant financial damage to Veleron, estimated at $15 million to $25 million.[73] A New York jury determined in November 2015 that Morgan Stanley had “acquired inside information and traded on it despite a duty to keep it confidential and not trade on it,” finding as well that Morgan Stanley did not have the intent to defraud Veleron. Veleron strongly disagreed with and said it would file an appeal.[74][when?]

In July 2006, whilst Deripaska was involved in a bid to buy the Daimler Chrysler Group, it was reported that the United States canceled his entry visa; the unnamed official declined to give a reason for the revoking of the visa. The Wall Street Journal reported that it could have been because Deripaska has been accused of having links to organized crime in Russia and cited as their sources two unnamed U.S. law enforcement officials.[75] Deripaska had received a multiple-entry visa in 2005; a U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigationspokesman refused to comment. Lobbying on his behalf had been done by former Senate Republican leader and 1996 presidential candidate Bob Dole and his Alston & Bird law partners, Senate records show. Alston & Bird was paid about US$260,000 in 2005 for work on “Department of State visa policies and procedures” tied to Deripaska.[75]

In 2009, Deripaska was again allowed entry and visited the United States twice. The Wall Street Journal reported that according to two unnamed FBI administration officials, Deripaska had met with agents regarding a continuing criminal probe, the details of the probe were not known or reported. During Deripaska’s visits, he met with leading management figures from investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. The Aluminum company that Deripaska heads, United Company RUSAL, was in preparations for an initial public offering. The easing of Deripaska’s visa issues which were an issue for possible investors helped to reassure bankers. The State Department has never said why it revoked his visa and refused to comment on his 2009 visits. The visits were arranged outside of the usual process as the U.S. continues to have concerns about Deripaska’s business associations. Deripaska has repeatedly denied a connection to any organized crime and said business rivals have caused the visa to be revoked by smearing him. When interviewed by the BBC in July 2009, Deripaska said that the authorities in the United States had been attempting to blackmail him by revoking his visa and thus affecting possible investors in a negative way and thereby hoping to push Deripaska into cooperating with them.[76]

Spanish investigation

According to an article in El Mundo, Deripaska and Iskander Makhmudov (head of UGMK) were asked by Spanish police to answer questions in relation to a money-laundering enquiry.[77] The Spanish state prosecutor’s office subsequently confirmed Deripaska’s interrogation.[78]

While Deripaska has been interrogated previously as a witness in Spain and England and by the FBI in cases of money laundering, he has never been charged with any crimes in those probes.[79]

On 25 January 2010, the Financial Times published a story “Rusal: A lingering heat” exploring Deripaska’s business relations with Sergei Popov and Anton Malevsky, alleged heads of Russian organized crime groups.[80] Deripaska has accused Michael Chernoy of using Malevsky and the Izmailovskaya syndicate to extort US$250 million from him as part of a protection racket.[81] However, Deripaska has himself been accused of having similar links to Malevsky, who, with his brother Andrei, owned a 10% stake in Deripaska’s company. Deripaska denies the claims.[82]

In November 2011, Spain’s High Court sent the criminal cases against Deripaska to the Russian General Prosecutor’s office because the root of the cases is Russian.[83]

Political relationships

Vladimir Putin and Deripaska, March 19, 2002

Vladimir Putin

Deripaska is noted for his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Their relationship was visibly strained amidst Deripaska’s financial struggles in 2009, but in a widely broadcast incident on Russian television, Putin visited a stalled cement factory owned by Deripaska and berated its management. He forced Deripaska to sign a contract promising to pay nearly $1 million in unpaid wages.[13][84] Their relationship recovered, however, and Deripaska has been described as “Putin’s favorite industrialist“.[85] Leaked U.S. diplomatic cables from 2006 described Deripaska as “among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis” and “a more-or-less permanent fixture on Putin’s trips abroad”.[86] In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Tye Burt, who knows Deripaska and is the CEO of Kinross Gold said that, “I believe Russia recognizes Oleg’s major role in building a renewed economic base in a broad range of domestic businesses and rejuvenating ailing companies and infrastructure.”[13]

Nathaniel Rothschild and Peter Mandelson

Deripaska is a friend of Nathaniel Rothschild, a major investor in both Glencore and United Company RUSAL. Together Deripaska and Rothschild hosted George Osborne and Peter Mandelson on Deripaska’s yacht in Corfu in the summer of 2008.[87] Osborne was then Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom and a friend of Rothschild from school and university. It was reported that Peter Mandelson have maintained private contacts over several years with Oleg Deripaska[88]

News of the contacts sparked criticism because, as European Union Trade Commissioner, Mandelson had been responsible for decision to cut aluminium tariffs from 6 to 3%, a decision that had benefited Deripaska’s Company RusAl.[89] Mandelson insisted that he had never discussed aluminium tariffs with Deripaska.[90] On 26 October 2008 the Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague claimed the “whole country” wanted “transparency” about Mandelson’s previous meetings with Deripaska. In response, Prime Minister Gordon Brownsaid Mandelson’s dealings with Deripaska had been “found to be above board”.[91] Mandelson said that meeting business figures from “across the range” in emerging economies was part of his brief as EU Trade Commissioner.[92] On 29 October 2008, while Mandelson was on a ministerial visit to Moscow,[93] it was alleged in the British press that Valery Pechenkin, the head of security at Deripaska’s company Basic Element, had organised a swift entry visa for Mandelson when he turned up in Moscow to visit Deripaska in 2005.[94]

Paul Manafort

On 22 March 2017, the Associated Press published a report alleging that Paul ManafortDonald Trump‘s former presidential campaign manager, negotiated a $10 million annual contract with Deripaska to promote Russian interests in politics, business, and media coverage in Europe and the United States, starting in 2005.[95] Both Deripaska and Manafort have confirmed to have worked together in the past,[96] but rejected the contents of the AP story. Manafort argued that his work had been inaccurately presented, and that there was nothing “inappropriate or nefarious” about it.[97]

Responding to the allegations, on March 28, 2017, Deripaska published open letters in the print editions of The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, in which he denied having signed a $10 million contract with Manafort in order to benefit the Putin government.[98] He also stated his willingness to testify before the United States Congress to dispel these allegations,[99] and argued that the accusations fall “into the negative context of current US-Russian relations.”[100] According to Congressional sources cited by The New York Times, lawmakers declined Deripaska’s request, after it emerged that he had asked for immunity. Unnamed officials argued that “immunity agreements create complications for federal criminal investigators”.[101]

On May 15, 2017, Deripaska filed a defamation and libel lawsuit against the Associated Press in a U.S. District Court in D.C., arguing that[102] the outlet’s report falsely claimed that Deripaska had signed a contract with Manafort to advance the goals of the Russian government.[103] However, the lawsuit was dismissed in October 2017 on the grounds that Deripaska had not disputed “any material facts” in the story by the Associate press [104]

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Manafort, via Kiev-based operative Konstantin Kilimnik, offered to provide briefings on political developments to Deripaska, though there is no evidence that the briefings took place.[105][106] Behaviors such as these were seen as an attempt by Manafort to please an oligarch tied to Putin’s government.[107]

Navalny video

In February 2018, Alexei Navalny published a video about a meeting between Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Sergei Eduardovich Prikhodko on a yacht traveling near Norway. According to Navalny, Deripaska probably served as a middle man between the Russian government represented by Prikhodko and Paul Manafort during Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.[104] Prikhodko denied the allegations, accusing Navalny of “mixing the facts” about his “friend” Deripaska, Donald Trump and Paul Manafort, while also voicing his wish to have talk with Navalny as a “man with a man”.[108][109][110]

A day after the video was published the Roskomnadzor added the video to the Federal List of Extremist Materials, thus making accessing the video illegal for all Russian citizens.[111] It also ordered YouTube to remove seven videos and Instagram to take down 14 points that were cited in the investigation; neither YouTube nor Instagram had responded as of February 12, 2018. According to a Roskomnadzor representative who spoke to Vedomosti, a “court injunction of this sort against content hosted on Instagram and YouTube is unprecedented for Russia”. The New York Times noted that this may presage a “more aggressive approach by the Russian government” to control online activities.[112]

The New York Times reported on 5 March 2018, that Anastasia Vashukevich, a Belarusian national currently incarcerated in Bangkok, claims to have over 16 hours of audio recordings she says could shed light on possible Russian interference in American elections. She is offering the recordings to American authorities in exchange for asylum, to avoid extradition to Belarus. Vashukevich claims to be close to Deripaska and asserts the recordings include him discussing the 2016 presidential election with associates Vashukevich did not name. “Deripaska had a plan about elections,” The New York Times quoted Vashukevich as saying. She stated that some of the recorded conversations, which she asserts were made in August 2016, included three individuals who spoke fluent English and whom she believed were Americans. The New York Times reported that her claims might be easily dismissed were it not for the Navalny video.[113]

U.S. sanctions

In April 2018, the United States imposed sanctions on him and 23 other Russian nationals.[114][115] In the statement from the United States Department of the Treasury it was stated that Deripaska “has been accused of threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering”. According to the US treasury statement there are allegations that Deripaska ordered the murder of a businessman, and had links to a Russian organized crime group.[116]

Personal life

In February 2001, Deripaska married Polina Yumasheva, the daughter of Boris Yeltsin‘s top adviser Valentin Yumashev and stepdaughter of Yeltsin’s daughter Tatyana. While Yeltsin was president, Deripaska’s close ties put him in Yeltsin’s inner circle, dubbed “The Family”.[117] The Deripaskas have two children: a son, Pyotr (born 2001), and daughter, Maria (born 2003).[118] Deripaska practices yoga, swimming, horseback riding, and hiking. His favorite pets are dogs. At his home near Moscow, he has seven horses and six dogs.[12]

In March 2018, it was reported that Deripaska had successfully purchased Cypriot citizenship in 2017 under Cyprus’ “golden visa” that generates billions of revenue for the island nation. According to documents seen by The Guardian, Deripaska’s first attempt to become a citizen of a country in the EU was unsuccessful because of an preliminary inquiry into his activities in Belgium. The inquiry was dismissed in 2016.[1]

Philanthropy

Volnoe Delo

In 1998, Deripaska established Volnoe Delo, Russia’s largest[citation needed] private charitable foundation.[119][additional citation(s) needed] The fund supports over 400[citation needed] initiatives across Russia aimed at developing education and science, preserving spiritual and cultural heritage, and improving standards in public health.[120][additional citation(s) needed] It helps children, old people, talented youths, teachers, eminent scientists and other participants of the programs. Since 1998, Oleg Deripaska has invested more than RUB10.6 billion[citation needed] in more than 500 charity programs in 50 regions of Russia.[121][additional citation(s) needed]

Volnoe Delo has supported research activities in the 2,550-year-old city of Phanagoria since 2004. More than $10 million has been allocated to Phanagoria fieldwork over the past[which?] decade. Today, Phanagoria is one of the best-equipped archeological expeditions in Russia and has its own scientific and cultural center, cutting edge equipment and technology for above-ground and underwater excavation as well as a large team of specialists involved in the excavation process.[122]

In 2014, Volnoe Delo foundation launched a programme on students’ early career guidance and professional training—JuniorSkills.[123] The first, pilot, championship on professional skills, JuniorSkills Hi-Tech, was held in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg in 2014, part of the nationwide championship on cross-industry blue-collar professions in high-tech WorldSkills.

Climate change

Deripaska is one of the 16 global business leaders who drafted CEO Climate Policy Recommendations to G8 Leaders, a document outlining the international business community’s proposals to tackle global warming. The proposals were signed by more than 100 of the world’s leading corporations and handed to the Prime Minister of Japan Yasuo Fukuda on 20 June 2008. The G8 leaders discussed the recommendations during the summit in Japan on 7–9 July 2008. The process was coordinated by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.[124]

Deripaska actively advocates cutting the global carbon footprint and calls for the creation of an enforcement mechanism with consequences for countries that do not reduce carbon-intensive emissions, such as those produced by coal-fired powerplants.[125] He also remains a strong advocate of a legally binding climate change deal, but has publicly voiced concern about the potential competitive impact of a Paris climate agreement and also about the absence of binding measures to curb each country’s emissions in the near future.[125] “Everyone is in favour; we just need to have more or less fair regulation. There shouldn’t be any pockets where people can cheat the system. People shouldn’t agree on something that creates another Kyoto protocol that creates nice polished statements”, he told the Financial Times in January 2016.[125]

Other activities

In February 2014, Deripaska financed the construction of makeshift kennels to house stray dogs that had been abandoned by construction workers after completing work on the Sochi Olympic Village. Officials said the number of strays exceeded 2,000 and the animals presented a risk of rabies, so they contracted out their extermination. Many of these dogs were saved and more were re-homed in a global adoption program that Deripaska created.[126]

He sits on the board of trustees of the School of Business Administration, the School of Public Administration, and the School of Economics at Moscow State University as well as the School of Business Administration at St. Petersburg State University. Deripaska is a co-founder of the National Science Support Foundation and the National Medicine Fund. In 1999, he was awarded the Order of Friendship, a state award of the Russian Federation. He was named businessman of the year in 1999, 2006, and 2007 by Vedomosti, a Russian business daily.

He sits on the board of trustees of the Bolshoi Theatre, and has financed ballet performances like Flames of ParisLa Sylphide, and Paquita as well as operas like The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden FevroniyaCarmen, and Wozzeck.[127]

Net worth

In 2008, Forbes estimated his wealth at US$28 billion, making him the then ninth richest man in the world.[128] In 2009, Deripaska’s ranking fell to a ranking of No. 164, with Forbes stating: “[H]e may not withstand collapsing markets and heavy debts”.[129] In 2010, however, his estimated $10.7 billion fortune allowed him to rise to No. 57 of the World’s Billionaires list.[130] According to Forbes magazine, he removed the heads of his two largest companies and personally negotiated with the Russian government, banks, and other creditors to restructure his loan obligations.[131] Deripaska himself in 2007 was reported to have consistently said that the estimate of his wealth was exaggerated, that it did not completely account for the amount of debt he incurred, and that he should be ranked far below the top ten on the list of the Russian billionaires.[132]

Deripaska has owned the Haft mansion near Embassy Row in Washington, D.C., through a company incorporated in Delaware since 2006.[133]

Forbes estimated his fortune at $3.3 billion in 2015[2] and $5.2 billion in 2017.[8]

See also

References

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

 

 

Robert Levinson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Robert Levinson
Robert-Levinson.png

Levinson while in captivity, taken November 2010
Born March 10, 1948 (age 70)
Disappeared March 9, 2007 (aged 58)
Kish Island
Status Missing for 11 years, 2 months and 6 days
Nationality American
Known for Disappearance in Iran

Robert Alan “Bob” Levinson (born March 10, 1948)[1] is an American former Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who disappeared mysteriously in 2007 in Kish IslandIran. He is believed[according to whom?] to be currently[when?] held captive by the government of Iran.[2][3] He disappeared on March 9, 2007, when visiting Iran’s Kish Island while supposedly researching a cigarette smuggling case.

U.S. officials believed Levinson had been arrested by Iranian intelligence officials to be interrogated and used as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Washington. But as every lead fizzled and Iran repeatedly denied any involvement in his disappearance, many in the U.S. government believed Levinson was probably dead.[4] He was last seen alive in photographs from April 2011, wearing a jumpsuit and holding signs apparently asking for help in broken English.[5]

On December 12, 2013, the Associated Press reported that their investigations revealed that Levinson had been working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),[6][7] contradicting the U.S.’s statement that he was not an employee of the government at the time of his capture.[8]

In an interview, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke of cooperation regarding Levinson’s case. “We are willing to help, and all the intelligence services in the region can come together to gather information about him to find his whereabouts.”[9] John Miller of CBS described this statement as a “tacit admission that he’s in their custody and that there have been talks”.[10]

Iranian involvement

On April 4, 2007, a little over three weeks after Levinson was arrested, an article by Iranian state-run PressTV stated that he “has been in the hands of Iranian security forces since the early hours of March 9” and “authorities are well on the way to finishing the procedural arrangements that could see him freed in a matter of days”. The same article explained that it was established that Levinson’s trip to Kish “was purely that of a private businessman looking to make contact with persons who could help him make representations to official Iranian bodies responsible for suppressing trade in pirated products which is a major concern of his company”.[11]

On January 8, 2013, the Associated Press reported that “the consensus now among some U.S. officials involved in the case is that despite years of denials, Iran’s intelligence service was almost certainly behind the 54-second video and five photographs of Levinson that were emailed anonymously to his family. ‘The tradecraft used to send those items was too good, indicating professional spies were behind them’, the officials said… While everything dealing with Iran is murky, their conclusion is based on the U.S. government’s best intelligence analysis.”[12]

Family investigation

Media reported in August 2007 that Christine Levinson, wife of Robert, was planning a trip to Iran with their oldest son, Dan. The Department of State stressed that there was a travel warning to that country and they would be doing so at their own risk.[13] Iran announced on September 23, 2007, that they would be allowed to visit the country.[14]

In December 2007, Christine and Dan traveled to Iran to attempt to learn more about Levinson’s disappearance. They met with Iranian officials in Tehran and traveled to Robert’s hotel on Kish, the Hotel Maryam.[15] Airport officials allowed Christine and Dan to view the flight manifests for all flights leaving Kish during the time Robert was due to leave, but his name did not appear on any of the lists provided. They were also able to view Robert’s signature from the hotel check-out bill on March 9. Iranian officials promised to provide an investigative report to the family, but have yet to do so.[16] In July 2008 and subsequent interviews, Christine and Dan have said they wanted to travel to Iran again soon.[17]

President Ahmadinejad’s statements on Levinson

Pressed by Charlie Rose in an interview for CBS This Morning in September 2012, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “did not deny Iran still has Levinson in its custody, and hinted that there had been talks about a prisoner exchange”. Rose asked, “Is there anything that could happen, a trade or something, that could allow him to come back to the United States?” Ahmadinejad responded:

I remember that last year Iranian and American intelligence groups had a meeting, but I haven’t followed up on it. I thought they’d come to some kind of an agreement.

CBS’ John Miller says that “tacit admission that he’s in their custody and that there have been talks”, in and of itself, “is a big step”.[10]

In a 2008 interview with NBC‘s Brian Williams, Ahmadinejad was questioned regarding Levinson’s case and its status. He responded:

There was a claim made some time ago, some people came over, the gentleman’s family came over. They talked and met with our officials and were given our responses. I see no reason for a person who was given an Iranian visa and — came into Iran, arrived in Iran through official channels, to have problems here. Our security officials and agents have expressed their willingness to assist the FBI, if the FBI has any information about his travels around the world. We have said that we are ready to help, to assist with that matter. There are certain informations that only the FBI at the moment has. I am not an expert in that field, as you might appreciate, so I’m not going to make a judgment here whether that information, as they say, is true and only held by the FBI or other parties for that matter.[18]

U.S. government investigation

President Barack Obama meets with Christine Levinson in the Oval Office on March 6, 2012

In June 2007, President George W. Bush released a statement on Levinson’s case, saying: “I am … disturbed by the Iranian regime’s refusal so far to provide any information on Robert Levinson, despite repeated U.S. requests. I call on Iran’s leaders to tell us what they know about his whereabouts.” [19]

On January 13, 2009, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson revealed during Hillary Clinton‘s confirmation hearing that he believes Robert Levinson is being held in a secret prison in Iran. “The door has been closed at every turn,” Nelson said during Clinton’s confirmation hearing. “We think he is being held by the government of Iran in a secret prison.”[20]

According to The New York Times, Levinson had been meeting with Dawud Salahuddin, (an American convert to Islam wanted for the 1980 murder of an Iranian dissident in the US) “just before he went missing”.[21][22]

On March 8, 2013, the Obama administration released a statement to mark the sixth anniversary of Levinson’s kidnapping. Press Secretary Jay Carney said,

Finding him remains a high priority for the United States, and we will continue to do all that we can to bring him home safely to his friends and family, so they may begin to heal after so many years of extraordinary grief and uncertainty. The Iranian Government previously offered assistance in locating Mr. Levinson and we look forward to receiving this assistance, even as we disagree on other key issues.[23]

Secretary of State John Kerry also met with Levinson’s wife and son “to reiterate that the U.S. government remains committed to locating Mr. Levinson and reuniting him safely with his family”.[24]

Reward

On March 6, 2012, approaching the five-year anniversary of Robert Levinson’s captivity, The Federal Bureau of Investigation offered a $1-million reward for information leading to his safe recovery and return. In addition, a campaign was launched, using billboards, radio messages, flyers, and a telephone hotline to publicize this reward and obtain information of his whereabouts.[25] In conjunction with this announced reward, the Society of Former Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that it was giving the two youngest Levinson children $5,000 each to help with their college costs.[25]

On March 9, 2015, the CIA increased the reward to up to $5 million for information regarding Levinson’s whereabouts.[26]

Proof of life

According to the Associated Press, Levinson’s family received “irrefutable proof” of life late in 2010.[27] On December 9, 2011, the family released the hostage video dated from November 2010. In the video, Robert appears to have lost considerable weight, and repeatedly pleads for help in returning home.[28]

On January 8, 2013, Levinson’s family released photos to the media showing the former agent in an orange jumpsuit with overgrown and unkempt hair. A family spokesman told CNN the photographs were received in April 2011. CNN reported: “Asked why the family is releasing the images now, more than 18 months later, the spokesman said: ‘The family is anxious that not enough is being done. There is frustration with the lack of progress on the case.'”[5]

President Rouhani’s statements on Levinson

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour during his trip to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2013, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke of cooperation regarding Levinson’s case. “We are willing to help, and all the intelligence services in the region can come together to gather information about him to find his whereabouts”, Rouhani told Amanpour, “and we’re willing to cooperate on that”.[9]

In a subsequent interview with Charlie Rose, Rouhani said, “As to where his whereabouts when he disappeared, I personally have no information on those details, but naturally when someone disappears their family is suffering in specific. Everyone must help. It’s natural that everyone must help”.[29]

President Obama’s discussion of case with Rouhani

During the Obama-Rouhani phone call on September 27, 2013, the first communication between the presidents of the two countries in 34 years, President Obama noted his concern about Levinson’s disappearance to Rouhani, and expressed his interest in seeing him reunited with his family.[9]

Recent status

On November 26, 2013, Levinson, if he is still alive, became the longest-held hostage in American history, surpassing Terry A. Anderson. According to his family, he suffers from type 1 diabetesgout, and hypertension.[30] His passport has never shown up in any other country.[31]

United States Senate call for release

In a unanimous decision, on May 11, 2015, the United States Senate voted on a resolution for the release of Robert Levinson, which passed without amendment.[32] This resolution states that it is U.S. policy that: (1) the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran should immediately release Saeed AbediniAmir Hekmati, and Jason Rezaian, and cooperate with the U.S. government to locate and return Robert Levinson; and (2) the U.S. government should undertake every effort using every diplomatic tool at its disposal to secure their release.[33]

See also

References

  1. Jump up^ “- INTERPOL”interpol.int.
  2. Jump up^ Goldman, Adam (December 13, 2013). “National Security”The Washington Post.
  3. Jump up^ Pat Milton (2007-05-10). “Intrigue Surrounds Former FBI Agent Who Disappeared in Iran Two Months Ago”San Diego Union-Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  4. Jump up^ “Missing ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson in hostage video: ‘Help me'”. Associated Press. 2011-12-09.
  5. Jump up to:a b “Family releases photos of captive American”. CNN.com. 2013-01-10. Retrieved 2013-12-12.
  6. Jump up^ Missing American in Iran was working for CIA, Associated Press, December 12, 2013, retrieved December 12, 2013
  7. Jump up^ “American who vanished in Iran was on unsanctioned CIA mission – report”rt.com.
  8. Jump up^ “White House: Robert Levinson not a government employee”BBC News, BBC, December 13, 2013, retrieved December 13,2013
  9. Jump up to:a b c “U.S. official: Obama, Rouhani discussed fate of three Americans – CNN.com”. Edition.cnn.com. September 28, 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-12.
  10. Jump up to:a b “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad drops clue about Robert Levinson, ex-FBI agent who vanished 5 years ago in Iran”. CBS News. 2012-09-25.
  11. Jump up^ “Ex-FBI man in Iran not “missing” at all”. PressTV. 2007-04-04.
  12. Jump up^ “US sees Iran behind hostage photos of ex-FBI agent”. PAP. 2013-01-09.
  13. Jump up^ “U.S. woman plans trip to Iran to search for missing former FBI agent husband”. International Herald Tribune. 2007-08-02.
  14. Jump up^ “Iran: Missing American’s family can visit”CNN. September 23, 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
  15. Jump up^ Fathi, Nazila (December 24, 2007). “In Iran, Search for American Yields Little”New York Times.
  16. Jump up^ Levinson, Daniel (June 22, 2008). “Missing a Father in Iran”The Washington Post. p. B07. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
  17. Jump up^ “Wife of ex-FBI agent to repeat Iran visit in search of her husband”Payvand. July 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
  18. Jump up^ “Transcript: ‘Response … will be a positive one'” (NBC Nightly News). msnbc.com. July 28, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
  19. Jump up^ “No ‘miracle’ for American missing in Iran”CNN. December 22, 2007.
  20. Jump up^ “Senator Says Former FBI Agent Who Vanished in 2007 Is in Secret Iran Prison”Fox News. January 13, 2009.
  21. Jump up^ Mackey, Robert (September 16, 2009). “Just Another American Hit Man, Actor and Journalist Living in Iran”.
  22. Jump up^ “Former FBI agent held in Iran: report”Reuters.
  23. Jump up^ “Statement by the Press Secretary on Robert Levinson”The White House.
  24. Jump up^ “John Kerry meets with family of ex-FBI agent missing in Iran”Reuters.
  25. Jump up to:a b “FBI — $1 Million Reward Offered for Missing Retired Agent”. Fbi.gov. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
  26. Jump up^ “FBI — Eight Year Anniversary of the Disappearance of Robert A. Levinson”FBI.
  27. Jump up^ ADAM GOLDMAN and MATT APUZZO Associated Press (2011-03-03). “Years After Vanishing in Iran, US Man Proven Alive – ABC News”. Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 2011-12-09.
  28. Jump up^ “Robert Levinson, missing ex-FBI agent in hostage video: ‘Help me'”Associated Press. December 9, 2011.
  29. Jump up^ mwolda (Sep 27, 2013). Charlie Rose asks Rouhani about Robert Levinson. YouTube. Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-12-12.
  30. Jump up^ “Son of captured American pleads for father’s release”Fox News.
  31. Jump up^ “Family Asks For Help Locating Man Possibly Missing In Iran”Daily Press. September 30, 2007.
  32. Jump up^ Deb Riechmann (11 May 2015). “Senate Passes Resolution for Release of Americans in Iran”. Archived from the original on May 28, 2015 – via washingtonpost.com.
  33. Jump up^ James, Risch, (20 May 2015). “S.Con.Res.16 – 114th Congress (2015-2016): A concurrent resolution stating the policy of the United States regarding the release of United States citizens in Iran”http://www.congress.gov.

External links

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

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1072, May 7, 2018, Story 1: Devin Nunes, Chairman of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,   Warns Attorney General Sessions of Contempt of Congress if  Doesn’t Comply with Subpoena — Cover-up and Stonewalling At Department of Justice To Protect Who? — Embarrassing and Criminal Activity of FBI and DOJ Employees — President Trump Should Order Declassification and Release of All Documents Under Congressional Subpoena — Clean Up Obama’s Mess at DOJ and FBI — American People Demand It —  Videos — Story 2 : First Lady Melania Trump’s Be Best Initiative — Videos — Story 3: Iran and Obama Lied To American People — President Trump’s Goal: Stop Nuclear Proliferation in Far East and Middle East By Diplomacy, Negotiation or Military Means — Videos

Posted on May 9, 2018. Filed under: Addiction, American History, Applications, Barack H. Obama, Blogroll, Bombs, Breaking News, Bribery, Bribes, Cartoons, Central Intelligence Agency, China, College, Communications, Computers, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Cruise Missiles, Culture, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Education, Egypt, Elections, Empires, Extortion, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Government, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Hardware, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Illegal Immigration, Independence, Insurance, Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal, Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic State, Israel, James Comey, Killing, Language, Law, Life, Lying, Media, Mike Pompeo, National Interest, National Security Agency, Nerve Gas, North Korea, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Obama, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Presidential Appointments, Public Corruption, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Scandals, Security, Senate, Senator Jeff Sessions, Servers, Social Science, South Korea, Spying, Spying on American People, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Policy, Terror, Terrorism, Trump Surveillance/Spying, U.S. Negotiations with Islamic Republic of Iran, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Devin Nunes, Chairman of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,   Warns Attorney General Sessions of Contempt of Congress if  Doesn’t Comply with Subpoena — Cover-up and Stonewalling At Department of Justice To Protect Who? — Embarrassing and Criminal Activity of FBI and DOJ Employees — President Trump Should Order Declassification and Release of All Documents Under Congressional Subpoena — Clean Up Obama’s Mess at DOJ and FBI — American People Demand It —  Videos —

Rep. Nunes discusses DOJ stonewalling

Tucker: Democrats want to impeach Trump, but lie about it

Nunes warns of contempt of Congress if Sessions doesn’t comply with subpoena

Rep. Nunes threatens AG sessions with contempt of Congress

Devin Nunes should hold Sessions in contempt of Congress: Rep. DeSantis

Rep. Dave Brat on GOP vs. DOJ

Robert Mueller on the defensive after a bad week in court?

The Ingraham Angle 5/7/18 | Breaking Fox News | May 7, 2018

Time for Mueller to show his cards: Fmr. Prosecutor Andrew McCarthy

Mueller probe is investigating people looking for crimes: Marc Lotter

Nunes: Documents about Flynn show Comey has been lying

Tucker: What’s at stake in the Rosenstein battle

Freedom Caucus members draft Rosenstein impeachment articles

“You’re Out of Order!” Nunes Is the Only Person Who Cares About FISA Abuse and Must Be Congratulated

Tucker Carlson Tonight 5/7/18 | Breaking Fox News | May 7, 2018

Outrageous Redactions to the Russia Report

Michael Flynn departs a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., December 1, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The FBI and DOJ have been burying the investigators’ questionable judgments and information helpful to Flynn.Cute how this works: Kick off the week with some “the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted” bombast from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, by which he rationalizes that his defiance of subpoenas and slow-walking document production to Congress — which is probing investigative irregularities related to the 2016 campaign — is required by DOJ policy and “the rule of law.” Then end the week with the Friday-night bad-news dump: the grudging removal of DOJ and FBI redactions from a House Intelligence Committee report on Russia’s election meddling.

Now that we can see what they wanted to conceal, it is clear, yet again, that the Justice Department and the FBI cannot be trusted to decide what the public gets to learn about their decision-making.

They tell us that their lack of transparency is necessary for the protection of national security, vital intelligence, and investigative operations. But what we find out is that they were concealing their own questionable judgments and conflicting explanations for their actions; their use of foreign-intelligence and criminal-investigative authorities to investigate Michael Flynn, Trump’s top campaign supporter and former national-security adviser; and their explicitly stated belief that Flynn did not lie in the FBI interview for which Special Counsel Robert Mueller has since prosecuted him on false-statements charges.

It is simply ridiculous for President Trump to continue bloviating about this situation on Twitter and in friendly media interviews, and for congressional Republicans to continue pretending that the problem is Justice Department and FBI leadership — as if Trump were not responsible for his own administration’s actions. The president has not only the authority but the duty to ensure that his subordinates honor lawful disclosure requests from Congress.

What happened with these redactions is inexcusable.

BACKGROUND

A little over a week ago, the House committee chaired by Representative Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) published its lengthy report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The report was actually completed weeks earlier but was withheld while the committee battled to disclose information that the Justice Department and FBI insisted on blacking out. As usual, the DOJ claimed that the declassification and release of the information would damage investigations and national security. No, it wouldn’t, countered Chairmen Nunes and other Republicans who knew what had been redacted.

When the Comey memos were finally disclosed, we learned that there was no investigative or national-security reason to have concealed them.

This has become a depressingly familiar dance. Justice and the Bureau previously insisted that the sky would fall if Congress forced the release of an Intelligence Committee report on government abuse of foreign-intelligence surveillance powers. To the contrary, we learned that the FBI and DOJ had used the unverified Steele dossier to obtain surveillance warrants on at least one person tied to the Trump campaign, in contravention of express guidelines that “only documented and verified information may be used to support FBI applications to the [FISA] court” (see Nunes’s March 1 letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions). In addition, we learned that the FISA court was not told that the dossier was a Clinton campaign opposition-research project, and that its author, Christopher Steele, had been terminated as an informant for lying to the FBI about his contacts with the media.

More recently, the FBI severely restricted access to former FBI director James Comey’s memos of his meetings with President Trump. Finally, three congressional committees protested that there was no legal basis for such restriction. When the memos were finally disclosed, we learned that there was no investigative or national-security reason to have concealed them. They did, however, provide greater insight about such matters as how a briefing of then-president-elect Trump on a salacious sliver of the dossier (but not on its sensational allegations of a traitorous conspiracy with the Kremlin) led to an intelligence-community leak about the briefing and the consequent media publication of the dossier — the backbone of the media-Democratic “collusion with Russia” narrative. (See Mollie Hemingway’s analysis at The Federalist.)

That leads us to last Friday’s disclosure of some — but not nearly all — previously redacted sections of the Intelligence Committee’s Russia Report.

COMEY VS. THE COMMITTEE: DID AGENTS BELIEVE FLYNN LIED?

When the House first issued its report on the Russia investigation, a heavily redacted portion (pp. 53–54) related that Trump’s original national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, had pled guilty to a false-statements charge based on misleading statements to FBI agents about his December 2016 conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The report explained that Flynn had been rebuffed by Kislyak when, based on instructions from the Trump transition team, Flynn asked Russia to refrain from voting in favor of a U.N. resolution condemning Israel. Flynn also discussed with the transition team what, if anything, he should communicate to Kislyak about Trump’s position on the sanctions that President Obama had imposed on Russia over its interference in the 2016 election.

None of this was new information. Indeed, the committee noted that it was drawn from public court filings by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in connection with Flynn’s guilty plea. But there was one intriguing disclosure in the redacted report: Flynn pled guilty “even though the [FBI] agents did not detect any deception during Flynn’s interview.” There was no elaboration on this point — no discussion of why Flynn was interrogated by FBI agents in the first place; no insight on deliberations within the FBI and Justice Department about whether Flynn had deceptive intent; no explanation of how he came to be charged months later by Mueller’s prosecutors even though the trained investigators who observed Flynn’s demeanor during the interview did not believe he’d lied.

This news that Flynn’s interrogators had not sensed deception was not altogether new. It had been reported that then–FBI director James Comey had made this revelation in closed-session testimony before the committee on March 2, 2017. (See my column.) Yet, during media interviews to promote his just-released memoir, Comey — who has rebuked the House Intelligence Committee report as an effort to tear down our law-enforcement institutions — repeatedly expressed bafflement that anyone could possibly have construed his testimony to imply that the agents believed Flynn had not lied. Byron York recounts the interviews at the Washington Examiner. In one, Comey told ABC host and Clinton pal George Stephanopoulos:

I don’t know where that’s coming from. . . . That — unless I’m — I said something that people misunderstood, I don’t remember even intending to say that. So, my recollection is I never said that to anybody.

The now-unredacted passages reveal that top Obama DOJ and FBI officials provided the committee with ‘conflicting testimony’ about why the FBI interviewed Flynn as if he were a criminal suspect.

Well, shortly after the redactions were lifted late on Friday, The Federalist’s Sean Davis got busy on Twitter, posting side-by-side comparisons of the original heavily redacted pages and the new, more transparent version. The disclosures are stunning. I know this will amaze you, but it turns out the redactions had absolutely nothing to do with concerns about the need to protect national security or pending investigations. Instead, the now-unredacted passages:

  • Elaborate on why the FBI did not believe Flynn had lied, including quotations from Comey’s testimony.
  • Reveal that for some period of time during 2016, the FBI conducted a counterintelligence (CI) investigation of Flynn.
  • Note that top Obama Justice Department and FBI officials provided the committee with “conflicting testimony” about why the FBI interviewed Flynn as if he were a criminal suspect.
  • Illustrate that the FBI and Justice Department originally insisted on concealment of facts helpful to Flynn that are already public.

 

COUNTERINTELLIGENCE INVESTIGATION OF FLYNN

The now-unredacted passages relate that, for some period of time during 2016, the FBI was conducting a “CI investigation into General Flynn.” It was Comey’s recollection that he had “authorized the closure” of that investigation “by late December 2016.”

As we have discussed in connection with Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser against whom the Obama Justice Department obtained FISA surveillance warrants, a CI investigation on an American citizen proceeds on the suspicion that the citizen is an agent of a foreign power whose clandestine activities violate federal criminal law. That is, it appears possible (if not likely) that the Justice Department was operating on the theory that Flynn — a decorated combat veteran and co-author of a 2016 book that brands Russia as an implacable enemy of the United States — was an agent of the Kremlin.

At some point, moreover, Justice rationalized the investigation into Flynn, at least in part, by relying on the Logan Act. An almost surely unconstitutional 18th-century statute, the Logan Act purports to prohibit Americans from unauthorized freelancing in foreign-policy. It has never been successfully used to prosecute anyone. (Compare then-director Comey’s July 5, 2016, press conference and subsequent testimony, in which he theorized that charging Hillary Clinton for a rarely prosecuted classified-information offense would violate Justice Department policy against selective prosecution.)

The startling fact that there was a CI investigation of Flynn does not, of course, tell us on what evidence suspicions against him were based. As I’ve previously contended (when it was not known that there was a CI investigation, but it was apparent that Flynn had been seen as a criminal suspect), there are profound reasons to question the legitimacy of Flynn’s treatment.

Notwithstanding Friday night’s unveiling of blacked-out passages, the report still contains redacted paragraphs about Flynn. Two of them (on pp. 52–53) sandwich a passage about a business trip Flynn took to Moscow in late 2015 (seven months before he branded Russia a committed enemy in his book). The trip followed a visit to Kislyak by Flynn and his son at the ambassador’s Washington residence.

Though not mentioned in the unredacted passage, it has been reported that Flynn was paid more than $45,000 by Russia’s state-owned propaganda network, RT, for a speech he gave while in Moscow — an event at which he sat next to President Vladimir Putin. On the current state of disclosure, we do not know how, if at all, this incident played into the decision to investigate Flynn. Neither do we know whether the FBI and Justice Department took any action when former President Bill Clinton received $500,000  from a Kremlin-connected bank for a short speech delivered in 2010 on a trip to Russia, during which he met with Putin — even as his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was among the U.S. officials considering and ultimately green-lighting Russia’s effort to acquire rights to one-fifth of America’s uranium stock.

The suggestion that Flynn’s post-election contacts with Russia were improper, let alone unlawful, is absurd. Flynn was the designated national-security adviser for the incoming administration and a key member of the Trump transition team. To have communications with officials of foreign governments was a legitimate and necessary part of his job.

It is worth noting that Flynn had been fired by Obama from his post as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and is despised by Obama intelligence officials for having become an ardent public adversary against Obama’s national-security policy, most prominently as candidate Trump’s most visible supporter. The interest of Obama’s DOJ and FBI in Flynn appears to have intensified after Trump won the election, when Flynn was presumed to be laying groundwork to reverse Obama’s positions — as Trump promised to do throughout the campaign.

While it is only natural that Obama officials would seethe over Flynn’s ascendancy, the suggestion that his post-election contacts with Russia were improper, let alone unlawful, is absurd. Flynn was the designated national-security adviser for the incoming administration and a key member of the Trump transition team. To have communications with officials of foreign governments was a legitimate and necessary part of his job. Plus, Kislyak was a foreign agent subject to FISA surveillance, so the FBI had recordings of his communications with Flynn and knew that Flynn had done nothing improper. (It has been presumed that Flynn’s communications with Kislyak were intercepted because Kislyak, not Flynn, was the subject of a FISA warrant; now, with confirmation that Flynn was the subject of a counterintelligence investigation, we may need to revisit that presumption.)

Whatever prompted the CI investigation of Flynn, the now-unredacted passages of the report recount that it had come to nothing by the end of 2016. The FBI’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, told the committee that “we really had not substantiated anything particularly significant against General Flynn.” As noted above, Comey stated that he had approved the closure of the investigation in late December. It seems strange that the file was not closed at that time. Comey indicated that it was “kept open due to the public discrepancy surrounding General Flynn’s communications with Kislyak.” But that “discrepancy” did not arise until mid January, as Trump’s inauguration neared.

It was not much of a discrepancy, which no doubt factored into the interviewing agents’ perception that Flynn did not make intentional misstatements. To the Obama Justice Department, the pressing matter was whether Flynn had promised the Russian ambassador that Trump would undo the sanctions and other penalties Obama had imposed on December 29. The recorded phone call between Flynn and Kislyak proved that Flynn had made no such commitment.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, what do you suppose the FBI wanted redacted from the report? If you guessed “the paragraph describing the Flynn-Kislyak phone call,” you have caught on to how this wretched game is played. Here’s the paragraph that was originally blacked out:

In the call between General Flynn and Ambassador Kislyak, General Flynn “requested that Russia not escalate the situation and only respond to the U.S. sanctions in a reciprocal manner.” [Endnote (EN) 90] Russia decided not to reciprocate, which eventually led senior U.S. government officials to try to understand why. [There follows a passage of about two lines followed by EN 91, both redacted.] In a subsequent call with General Flynn, Ambassador Kislyak attributed the action to General Flynn’s request. [EN 92]

I’ve left in the endnotes (report, p. 58) because they confirm that the information in this paragraph comes from a document submitted to the court by Special Counsel Mueller when Flynn pled guilty. (See Statement of the Offense, p. 3, paras. e–g.) It is a public document. To be sure, there is a classified sentence in the middle of the paragraph that may well relate to steps senior U.S. officials took to try to understand Putin’s motive for refraining from retaliating against Obama’s sanctions. But what conceivable good reason can there have been for the FBI and Justice Department to redact from the report information that was already publicly disclosed? Why black out public information showing that Flynn merely did what any Obama official, or any other U.S. official, would have done — namely, suggest that Russia would only make things worse by escalating the dispute?

Is it because this action, simply communicating with the Russian ambassador, is the real reason Flynn was prosecuted?

Yes, yes, I know — technically, Flynn was prosecuted for making false statements about the conversation, not for having the conversation. Obama officials had hoped to nail Flynn on a heinous crime — a corrupt deal to drop the sanctions as a quid pro quo for Putin’s election-meddling that purportedly helped Trump win. Instead, all they could show was a trivial misstep: Flynn’s failure to acknowledge that sanctions were mentioned in his conversation with Kislyak — a mention so innocuous that the FBI couldn’t decide whether Flynn’s failure to describe it was a lie or an innocent failure of recollection.

Is this misstatement really why Flynn was pursued? I don’t think so. Obama officials hounded Flynn because, to this day, they remain vindictive toward political opponents who dared to engage in foreign affairs while Obama was still president. Democrats today are cheering former Secretary of State John Kerry’s rallying of foreign governments against President Trump’s determination to undo Obama’s Iran nuclear deal. They make no mention of possible violations of the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from acting on behalf of the U.S. in foreign-policy matters. Apparently, the Logan Act, which has never been successfully used to prosecute anyone, is alive and well only when it comes to General Flynn.

Testifying before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee in May 2017, former acting attorney general Sally Yates — the same Sally Yates fired by Trump for insubordination over her refusal to execute his so-call travel-ban — explained that it was she who alerted Trump White House Counsel Don McGahn about problems with Flynn. She told him that Flynn’s claim that there had been no discussion of sanctions with Kislyak — an assertion later repeated by Vice President Pence, among other Trump officials, in public statements — was wrong.

Yates stressed, however, that “the first thing we did was to explain to Mr. McGahn that the underlying conduct that General Flynn engaged in was problematic in and of itself.

The underlying conduct. Get it? For Obama officials, the real “crime” was that Flynn was talking to Kislyak in the first place — the Logan Act.

As I’ve previously noted, since this prosecution theory doesn’t pass the laugh test, Obama officials conjured up an alternative “blackmail” theory that is even more ludicrous than the Logan Act bunkum. As Yates told the subcommittee (with a straight face, no less) Russia had “leverage” over Trump’s national-security adviser because the Kremlin knew that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Kislyak and, hence, must have lied to Pence — a lie Putin could threaten to reveal unless Flynn did his bidding.

Your average high-school student would readily grasp how silly this is. First, Flynn and Russia also knew that the U.S. intelligence services had a recording of Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak. Blackmail only works if the compromising information is secret. The very fact that Yates knew what was on the recording illustrates that Russia had no unique knowledge it could hope to exploit against Flynn. In fact, the Kremlin knew that so many American officials were aware of Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak that one of them had leaked it to the Washington Post’s David Ignatiustwo weeks before Yates met with McGahn.

Second, Russia would not have concluded that Flynn necessarily misled Pence just because Pence repeated an inaccuracy. Knowing that misinformation about diplomatic contacts is common, the Kremlin would probably have assumed that the fledgling Trump administration was telling a politically useful lie — the media and Democrats were so agitated about Obama’s sanctions that by merely mentioning them, a Trump official risked cries of “Treason!”

The newly unredacted passages in the House report recount that on January 24, “following a call from Deputy Director McCabe to General Flynn, made at the direction of Director Comey,” two agents were dispatched to speak to Flynn. (Though not identified in the House report, news coverage indicates that one of these agents was Peter Strzok, then chief of the Bureau’s counterespionage section.)

Three days into his job as national-security adviser, Flynn had been meeting with many government national-security agents. Strzok’s visit must have seemed routine. Having no notice that he was to be interrogated as a criminal suspect, Flynn spoke with the agents alone, without a lawyer. But why was he being treated as a suspect? The newly unredacted report elaborates:

The Committee received conflicting testimony from Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Yates, Director Comey, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General [Mary] McCord, and Deputy Director McCabe about whether the primary purpose of the interview was investigating potentially misleading statements to the Vice President, which the Vice President echoed publicly[,] about the content of those calls [EN 94, citing Yates]; a possible violation of the Logan Act [EN 95, citing Yates]; or a desire to obtain more information as part of the counterintelligence investigation into General Flynn. [EN 96, citing McCabe, who did not recall that Comey had authorized closing the counterintelligence investigation a month earlier.]

Ask yourself: Was this passage previously blacked out due to proper concerns about national security, or because the relevant officials couldn’t get their stories straight?

 

DID THE INTERVIEWING AGENTS BELIEVE FLYNN LIED TO THEM?

Interestingly, in her Senate testimony, Yates recalled that McGahn’s commonsense response, upon being told that the FBI had interviewed Flynn on January 24, 2017, was to ask how he did – i.e., did the agents think he lied? Yates primly told the senators that she, of course, had declined to answer that question — as if, having gone this far, she was suddenly concerned about political interference in an ongoing criminal investigation.

We learn from the newly unredacted paragraphs in the House report, however, that Yates had a more strategic reason for declining to answer: Her depiction to McGahn of a cunning, compromised national-security adviser who was a threat to the president would not have been much of a story if she had to admit that the FBI believed Flynn had not lied in his interview.

As earlier described, Comey has expressed bewilderment in recent media appearances over the Intelligence Committee’s assertion, based on his testimony, that interviewing agents did not believe Flynn lied. But now that the previously blacked-out passages have been unredacted, the Committee’s thinking is apparent. The report quotes Comey himself:

[T]he agents . . . discerned no physical indications of deception. They didn’t see any change in posture, in tone, in inflection, in eye contact. They saw nothing that indicated to them that he knew he was lying to them. [EN 97, citing then-Director Comey’s closed-session Committee testimony on March 2, 2017.]

To be fair to Comey, we have only this snippet of his testimony. Perhaps there are other sections that would put this passage in a different light. Perhaps he recalls saying something that has not been disclosed and that is more consistent with a conclusion that Flynn lied. That’s why, in addition to unredacting more of the report, there should be broad disclosure of the underlying testimony and interviews that are now classified.

There is no Department of Justice in the Constitution. It is an executive-branch component created by Congress, funded with taxpayer funds appropriated by Congress, and subject to congressional oversight.

At the moment, though, we know two things for sure: 1) Comey unambiguously stated that, at least initially, the agents did not find that Flynn had lied; and 2) as long as Comey was FBI director, Flynn was never charged with lying.

If anything, McCabe’s December 19, 2017, testimony (currently also under lock and key) was even more favorable to Flynn. The report’s newly unredacted passages quote him:

[The] conundrum that we faced on their return from the interview is that although [the agents] didn’t detect deception in the statements that [Flynn] made in the interview . . . the statements were inconsistent with our understanding of the conversation he had actually had with the [Russian] ambassador.

McCabe added, in another just unredacted passage:

The two people who interviewed [Flynn] didn’t think he was lying, [which] was not [a] great beginning of a false statement case.

 

CONCLUSION

There is no Department of Justice in the Constitution. It is an executive-branch component created by Congress, funded with taxpayer funds appropriated by Congress, and subject to congressional oversight to ensure that its operations are conducted in accordance with their statutory purposes. Because of the sensitivity of their law-enforcement and intelligence missions, the Justice Department and its premier agency, the FBI, are shown great deference when lawmakers make requests — or even demands — for information. Contrary to what Justice Department leadership apparently believes, this deference is not an entitlement. It is result of respect earned over time by an institution that — its proud alumni like to believe — has a tradition of dealing honorably and transparently with peer branches of government.

It is a fact of life that the precious commodity of a good reputation takes much less time to lose than to build.

Republican committees can carp all they like about Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein. The buck stops with the president.

Story 2 : First Lady Melania Trump’s Be Best Initiative — Videos —

First Lady Melania Trump’s Initiative Launch

First Lady Melania Trump’s Initiative Launch

First Lady Melania Trump Unveils ‘Be Best’ Campaign On Child Well-Being | NBC News

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Melania Trump On Her Life, Marriage And 2016 | Morning Joe | MSNBC

Melania Trump: I’m not a ‘yes’ person … I have thick skin

 

Melania Trump debuts ‘Be Best’ campaign for kids’ well-being

WASHINGTON (AP) – Melania Trump gave a splashy launch Monday to her public awareness campaign to help children, calling it “Be Best.” In a rare twist on their White House roles, she commanded the Rose Garden lectern while President Donald Trump watched from the audience.

The first lady said the “Be Best” campaign will focus on childhood well-being, social media use and opioid abuse.

“As a mother and as first lady, it concerns me that in today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and oftentimes turn to forms of destructive or addictive behavior such as bullying, drug addiction or even suicide,” she said.

President Donald Trump kisses first lady Melania Trump following an event where Melania Trump announced her initiatives in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 7, 2018. The first lady gave her multipronged effort to promote the well-being of children a minimalist new motto: "BE BEST." The first lady formally launched her long-awaited initiative after more than a year of reading to children, learning about babies born addicted to drugs and hosting a White House conversation on cyberbullying. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Donald Trump kisses first lady Melania Trump following an event where Melania Trump announced her initiatives in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 7, 2018. The first lady gave her multipronged effort to promote the well-being of children a minimalist new motto: “BE BEST.” The first lady formally launched her long-awaited initiative after more than a year of reading to children, learning about babies born addicted to drugs and hosting a White House conversation on cyberbullying. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

“I feel strongly that as adults, we can and should ‘be best’ at educating our children about the importance of a healthy and balanced life,” she added.

Trump embraced his wife after she finished her speech and kissed her cheeks five times in a rare public display of affection. They held hands as they walked into the Oval Office after Trump signed a proclamation declaring Monday as “Be Best” day.

“America is truly blessed to have a first lady who is so devoted to our country and to our children,” he said before signing the declaration.

The first lady kicked off the event as the White House pushed back against a published report that referenced rumors Mrs. Trump does not live with the president, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denouncing it as “outrageous” and “ridiculous.”

“The first lady lives here at the White House. We see her regularly,” Sanders told reporters. “I think that’s something that belongs in tabloid gossip, not on the front pages of The Washington Post. And I hope that they’ll do better next time.”

The first lady lived full-time in New York during the administration’s opening months so the couple’s son, Barron, now 12, would not have to change schools midyear. She and Barron moved into the White House last June and since then the first lady has gradually been raising her public profile.

Mrs. Trump joined her husband last month to host the prime minister of Japan for a two-day summit at the Trumps’ Florida estate, and the Trumps hosted the president of France at the White House on a three-day state visit, including a lavish state dinner. Mrs. Trump also represented the administration at the April funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush.

Mrs. Trump’s launch of her platform came as her husband faces questions over $130,000 in hush money paid by one of his attorneys to a porn actress who says she had sex with Trump in 2006. Trump has acknowledged reimbursing his lawyer for the payment to Stormy Daniels, but denies her allegations. Separately, a former Playboy model has revived her allegations of a 10-month affair with Trump in 2006. Trump also denies the allegations from Karen McDougal.

Such reports have kept the first lady’s relationship with her husband under intense scrutiny, and Mrs. Trump has, at times, has been noticeably absent from her husband’s side. But both made a point of displaying affection during the Rose Garden event.

A brief video that played before the first lady appeared recapped some of her public appearances with children. Several Cabinet members attended, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, along with Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen. The first lady’s mother, Amalija Knavs, was also in the audience.

During nearly 16 months as first lady, Mrs. Trump has demonstrated her interest in children. She visited young hospital patients in the U.S. and during overseas trips with the president, often reading to them and encouraging them to do their best.

Her interest in the opioid drug crisis has taken her to care centers and hospitals in West Virginia and Ohio to learn about the epidemic’s effect on babies born to mothers addicted to the powerful painkillers. She convened a White House roundtable on the issue last fall.

The first lady invited representatives of major online and social media companies to the White House in March to discuss internet safety, a meeting that came more than a year after she promised to use her White House platform to discourage cyberbullying. Her choice was ridiculed almost immediately, given her husband’s habit of name-calling on Twitter, but Mrs. Trump said at the meeting that she wouldn’t be discouraged from doing what she thinks is right.

Sanders also pushed back Monday against the notion that the president has worsened online bullying.

“When it comes to kids, this is something that has been problematic, and something that we have seen over the last decade,” Sanders said. “And the first lady sees it to be an important issue, and something that she wants to address.”

Written material distributed in support of the initiative includes a booklet adults can use to talk to children about being online. It is similar to one the Federal Trade Commission released during the Obama administration. A spokeswoman for the first lady said the agency asked Mrs. Trump to include the booklet in her materials. The agency also wrote a blog post thanking the first lady for distributing it.

Modern first ladies typically highlight personal causes.

Nancy Reagan encouraged kids to “Just Say No” to drugs, while Barbara Bush and Laura Bush emphasized literacy and education. Michelle Obama launched her “Let’s Move” campaign against childhood obesity about a year after moving to the White House.

___

Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

First lady Melania Trump speaks on her initiatives during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, May 7, 2018, in Washington. The first lady gave her multipronged effort to promote the well-being of children a minimalist new motto: "BE BEST." The first lady formally launched her long-awaited initiative after more than a year of reading to children, learning about babies born addicted to drugs and hosting a White House conversation on cyberbullying. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

First lady Melania Trump speaks on her initiatives during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, May 7, 2018, in Washington. The first lady gave her multipronged effort to promote the well-being of children a minimalist new motto: “BE BEST.” The first lady formally launched her long-awaited initiative after more than a year of reading to children, learning about babies born addicted to drugs and hosting a White House conversation on cyberbullying. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Donald Trump and First lady Melania Trump embrace during Melania's "Be Best" initiative event in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, May 7, 2018, in Washington. Sixteen months into the president's term, Melania Trump unveils plans for her initiatives to improve the well-being of children. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump and First lady Melania Trump embrace during Melania’s “Be Best” initiative event in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, May 7, 2018, in Washington. Sixteen months into the president’s term, Melania Trump unveils plans for her initiatives to improve the well-being of children. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-5700877/Melania-Trump-launches-BE-BEST-awareness-campaign-kids.html#ixzz5EsCZB2RB

 

Looking their best! Melania Trump wears heavy $6,000 LEATHER trench to unveil her ‘Be Best’ campaign in the D.C. heat, while Ivanka looks ladylike in a white bell-sleeve top and shades

  • Melania, 48, launched her ‘Be Best’ initiative in the Rose Garden at the White House on Monday afternoon 
  • The first lady wore a tan Ralph Lauren jacket and a white pencil skirt to take the stage at the event attended by her husband, President Donald Trump 
  • Her stepdaughter Ivanka, 36, donned a white bell-sleeve top and a black belt
  • Ivanka’s husband, senior adviser Jared Kushner, Vice President Mike Pence, and Kellyanne Conway were also in attendance 
  • The goal of her public awareness campaign is to encourage parents and other adults to teach children how to be good citizens 

Although temperatures were in the high 70s, the 48-year-old first lady opted to wear a tan Ralph Lauren trench, pairing the heavy leather jacket with a white pencil skirt and matching Christian Louboutin pumps to unveil her long-awaited initiative focusing on the well-being of children.

Melania wore her highlighted brown hair loose around her shoulders, and she had a bright smile on her face as she addressed the audience at the event attended by her husband, President Donald Trump, and his daughter Ivanka.

Melania Trump launched her 'Be Best' initiative in the Rose Garden at the White House on Monday afternoon

The first lady wore a $5,990 Ralph Lauren trench jacket despite the soaring temperatures in Washington, D.C.

 FLOTUS unveiled her BE BEST platform and for the special occasion, Melania opted for one of her favorite American designers, Mr. Ralph Lauren.

Melania has worn Ralph Lauren on numerous occasions, most recently while on holiday in Florida. She favors the classic shapes and sophisticated palette that the brand always identifies with.

Shop Melania’s exact same leather trench jacket via Saks Fifth Avenue for a hefty $5990.

Should the near $6K price tag put you off, we have you covered with our more budget conscious picks that are just as chic as Melania’s.

Melania's stepdaughter Ivanka Trump attended the event wearing a white bell-sleeve top 

Melania’s stepdaughter Ivanka Trump attended the event wearing a white bell-sleeve top

Ivanka, 36, looked elegant in a white bell-sleeve top, which she cinched at the waist with a black belt.

The first daughter’s long blonde hair was styled in loose waves around her shoulders, and she donned dark sunglasses to shield her eyes from the afternoon sun.

As guests made their way to the Rose Garden, Ivanka mingled with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and the senior adviser appeared to be laughing during their chat.

Ivanka’s husband, senior adviser Jared Kushner, Vice President Mike Pence, and Kellyanne Conway were also in attendance.

After more than a year of reading to children, learning about babies born addicted to drugs, and hosting a White House conversation on cyberbullying, Melania took the stage to launch her ‘Be Best’ campaign on Monday afternoon.

The 38-year-old paired the leather trench with a white skirt and matching pump

Melania's Christian Louboutin pumps feature the brand's trademark red sole and retail for $775
Melania's Christian Louboutin pumps feature the brand's trademark red sole and retail for $775

Melania’s Christian Louboutin pumps feature the brand’s trademark red sole and retail for $775

Melania had a bright smile on her face as she addressed the audience on Monday 

Melania had a bright smile on her face as she addressed the audience on Monday

The first lady wore her highlighted brown hair loose around her shoulders

The first lady wore her highlighted brown hair loose around her shoulders

‘As a mother and as first lady, it concerns me that in today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and often times turn to forms of destructive or addictive behavior such as bullying, drug addiction or even suicide,” she said in prepared remarks.

‘I feel strongly that as adults, we can and should “be best” at educating our children about the importance of a healthy and balanced life.’

The first lady said early on that she would focus on child well-being. The goal of her public awareness campaign is to encourage parents and other adults to teach children how to be good citizens, including being kind, not bullying on social media or anywhere else, staying away from drugs and taking care of themselves.

‘If we truly listen to what our kids have to say, whether it be their concerns or ideas, adults can provide them the support and tools they need to grow up to be happy and productive adults who contribute positively to society and their global communities,’ Melania said.

While the first lady was making the announcement, President Trump looked on from the audience before joining her on stage and giving her a kiss on the cheek.

Ivanka, 36, paired her white top with black pants and a black belt to cinch her waist 

Melania's husband, President Donald Trump, was in the front row when she unveiled her 'Be Best' initiative, which aims to encourage adults to teach children how to be good citizens

Melania’s husband, President Donald Trump, was in the front row when she unveiled her ‘Be Best’ initiative, which aims to encourage adults to teach children how to be good citizens

Trump clapped for his wife when he joined her on stage after her speech 

The president gave Melania a kiss on the cheek while taking the stage 

Melania wore very little jewelry aside from her diamond wedding band 

Melania wore very little jewelry aside from her diamond wedding band

In addition to sharing some words of his own, Trump signed a proclamation for ‘Be Best’ day while participating in the initiative launch.

Melania’s announcement comes as her husband remains under intense legal pressure from a special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The president is also facing questions over $130,000 in hush money paid by one of his attorneys to Stormy Daniels, a porn star who says she had sex with Trump in 2006. Trump denies her accusation.

During nearly 16 months as first lady, Melania demonstrated her interest in children by visiting with young hospital patients in the U.S. and during overseas trips with the president, often reading to them and encouraging them to do their best.

Her interest in the opioid drug crisis, developed during the presidential campaign, has taken her to care centers and hospitals in West Virginia and Ohio to learn about the epidemic’s effect on babies born to mothers addicted to the powerful painkillers. She convened a White House roundtable on the issue last fall.

Melania watched as Trump signed a proclamation for 'Be Best' day while participating in the initiative launch

Melania watched as Trump signed a proclamation for ‘Be Best’ day while participating in the initiative launch

Melania has demonstrated her interest in children over her past 16 months as first lady 

Melania and her husband held hands as they left the Rose Garden together 

Melania and her husband held hands as they left the Rose Garden together

In March, the first lady hosted representatives of the major online and social media companies at the White House to discuss cyberbullying and internet safety.

That meeting came more than a year after she promised to use her White House platform to discourage cyberbullying. Her choice was ridiculed almost immediately, given her husband’s longtime habit of calling people names on Twitter, but Melania said the criticism wouldn’t discourage her from doing what she thinks is right.

She said on Monday that social media is too often used in negative ways and that it is important for children to learn positive online behaviors at a young age.

‘I do believe that children should be both seen and heard, and it is our responsibility as adults to educate and remind them that when they are using their voices — whether verbally or online — they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion,’ she said.

Modern first ladies typically highlight personal causes, from Nancy Reagan’s campaign to get kids to ‘Just Say No’ to drugs to the emphasis the late Barbara Bush and her daughter-in-law Laura Bush placed on literacy and education.

Ivanka donned oversize black sunglasses throughout the event 

Ivanka donned oversize black sunglasses throughout the event

The 36-year-old  mingled with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos while guests were arriving 

Ivanka appeared to be laughing at something that was said during the chat 

When Ivanka lifted her arm, she revealed a red string tied around her wrist. It bears a resemblance to the type of red string Kabbalah practitioners wear to ward off the 'evil eye'

Michelle Obama launched her signature ‘Let’s Move’ campaign against childhood obesity about a year after moving to the White House.

Melania took a little more time to pull her initiative together. She did not live in the White House for the first five months of the administration to avoid having their son, Barron, now 12, change schools during the year. She has a smaller staff than her predecessors and only hired her policy director in January of this year.

The first lady plans said she will travel as part of the initiative.

Melania has achieved a new high in her personal approval rating – even as her husband battles the Stormy Daniels’ allegations and the Russia probe.

The first lady’s public approval rating hit 57 per cent in a new CNN poll, up ten percentage points from mid-January.

The first daughter cinched her waist with a black belt featuring a large buckle 

Ivanka gave Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross a kiss while greeting him at the launch

Ivanka gave Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross a kiss while greeting him at the launch

Ivanka's husband, senior adviser Jared Kushner (left), also attended the event 

The couple stood side-by-side while waiting for Melania to unveil her initiative 

Ivanka wore her long blonde hair in loose waves that flowed past her shoulders 

At the start of the year, the first lady’s approval rating was 47 per cent, with an unfavorable rating of 37 per cent. By contrast, her husband’s approval rating is at 42 percent in the latest fivethirtyeight average.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are living highly public – and mostly separate – lives.

‘They spend very little to no time together,’ a longtime friend of the president told the Washington Post, as Melania prepares to roll out her own White House initiatives to focus on children.

Although the pair are sometimes photographed smiling in public as when they attend joint events or board government aircraft en route to Mar-a-Lago, they spend considerable time apart.

They have separate bedrooms inside the White House, and Trump awakes at early hours to lob tweets at his rivals.

‘They are not that couple that holds hands just because; she is old-world European and it’s not who she is,’ said Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who previously held a volunteer White House. Her firm got paid $1.62 million for consulting and production related to Trump’s inauguration.

Ivanka's bell-sleeve top was perfect for the weather, which reached 76 degrees on Monday 

The first daughter topped off her outfit with large diamond stud earrings in her ears 

The first daughter topped off her outfit with large diamond stud earrings in her ears

Jared donned a navy suit, a light blue shirt, and a gray tie for his day at the White House 

Jared donned a navy suit, a light blue shirt, and a gray tie for his day at the White House

Jared, 37, was photographed speaking with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

Jared, 37, was photographed speaking with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

Melania’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, knocked down a ‘persistent rumor’ that the first lady doesn’t even live in the White House and stays with her parents near son Barron Trump’s school.

 ‘It’s 1,000 percent false. We laugh at it all the time,’ Grisham said. White House social secretary Rickie Niceta Lloyd called it an ‘urban legend.’

The two have carved out largely separate public lives. While the president makes regular appearances with his cabinet, staff aides, and world leaders, the first lady focuses on her own, less-frequent events.

When the couple travels to Florida for weekends, the only image of them together is frequently of them boarding and de-boarding an aircraft.

President Trump sent his wife birthday wishes during an appearance on Fox News last month where he said: ‘Maybe, I didn’t get her so much. I got her a beautiful card, you know I’m very busy to be running out looking for presents.’

She hasn’t spoken about the Stormy Daniels scandal that has rocked his administration.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is representing Trump, said he was ‘trying to help the family’ with a $130,000 payment to silence porn star. Daniels alleges she had a sexual affair with Trump while Melania was pregnant with Barron.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-5701099/Melania-Ivanka-Trump-look-effortlessly-stylish-White-House-launch.html#ixzz5Ewi1WnVN

 

 

Story 3: Iran and Obama Lied To American People — President Trump’s Goal: Stop Nuclear Proliferation in Far East and Middle East By Diplomacy, Negotiation or Military Means — Videos

See the source image

Is the U.S. being pushed into a possible war with Iran?

Emily Landau: “Iran is strongly, strongly motivated to become a nuclear state”

Published on May 6, 2018

Dr. Emily Landau, one of the foremost experts on nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, claims that Iran’s threats to pull out of the deal if Trump tries to renegotiate it are exaggerated – the deal has been great for Iran Read the full story: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-n…

What happens if Trump pulls out of the Iran deal?

Benjamin Netanyahu: ‘Iran lied about nuclear programme’

Netanyahu claims Iran hid nuclear weapons program

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Hope Trump pulls out of Iran nuclear deal: Joe Lieberman

Moniz: U.S. leaving Iran nuclear deal would be ‘tragic’

Obama on Iran Payment: ‘We Do Not Pay Ransom’

Did the Obama admin break law in alleged Iran ‘ransom’?

Investigating the Obama administration’s $400 million payment to Iran

Obama paid Iran $1.7B, two days after $400M cash payment

$1.3 billion interest payment to Iran raises new questions

U.S. paid $1.3 billion more in cash to Iran

U.S. may have sent Iran $33.6B in cash?

See the source imageImage result for branco cartoons obama iran cash paymentsSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

 

Preventing a nuclear meltdown in the Middle East

Preventing a nuclear meltdown in the Middle East
© Getty Images

U.S. geopolitical and nuclear nonproliferation objectives are on a potential collision course as Saudi Arabia seeks to join the Middle East’s growing nuclear power club by soliciting bids for the construction of two reactors. An agreement between the two countries to allow U.S.-supplied nuclear technology to flow to the kingdom must limit nuclear weapons potential and serve geostrategic objectives.

With the nuclear supplier-recipient relationship lasting up to 100 years, it is important that the United States be a principal nuclear partner with Saudi Arabia. It can provide proven technology, strong regulatory capability, and has a long history of strengthening global nuclear governance and opposing proliferation, providing confidence in the Saudis’ nascent program.

But the pathway to achieving the balance between geopolitical and non-proliferation goals is fraught and the decision-making timeline short, presenting a significant challenge to the Trump administration that conducts the negotiations and the Congress that controls final approval.

If the United States insists that the Saudis renounce the possession of nuclear technologies that have dual civil and weapons uses the negotiations may fail, raising geopolitical and security concerns. If it relies on international norms and guidelines instead, they will need to be firmly enforced and strengthened or risk proliferation concerns.

A major worry about Saudi nuclear ambitions is that it will try to match Iran atom-for-atom by possessing uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons materials. While energy diversity is an underlying rationale for the shift from fossil to nuclear generation, a significant impetus is to respond to the nuclear advances by Iran, its regional competitor. Iran’s nuclear program is currently limited under a multilateral agreement because of its weapons implications, but important restrictions will expire in coming years.

The United States has several nuclear cooperation agreements with nations in the Middle East, including Egypt and Morocco, but the most recent one with the United Arab Emirates is significant. This agreement prohibits enrichment and reprocessing and is dubbed the “gold standard.” This restriction exists in only one other agreement, between Taiwan and the United States. But, post-9/11, it has been proposed as a new threshold for future U.S. nuclear collaboration in the Middle East and beyond.

The Saudis have indicated resistance to this restriction, although they have not stated an intention to enrich uranium and have not publicly expressed an interest in plutonium reprocessing.

A consequence of insistence on the “gold standard” is that it could push the Saudis away from American technology and into the embrace of Russia or China, whose reactors likely will come with fewer strings and a cheaper price. This would open the door to greater geopolitical influence by strategic competitors of the United States undermining its political, nonproliferation and security goals. The choice of South Korea to fill the Saudis’ order, as it did for UAE, could partly serve U.S. interests, but would still require a U.S.-Saudi agreement if controlled American componentry is involved.

An alternative to the “gold standard” requires that the United States focus on ensuring the effectiveness of other constraints. This includes enforcing the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) restrictions on the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technology if it may aid a weapons effort and closing loopholes that non-NSG nations could use to skirt the controls. The Saudis can enhance their nonproliferation credentials by accepting the Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. This would allow in-depth verification that its nuclear activities are peaceful.

Bilaterally, the United States maintains consent rights over the use and disposition of the nuclear fuel it provides. An additional step can be copied from the U.S.-South Korea nuclear pact, which faced similar pressures to provide access to weapons capable technologies. It allowed for a multi-year joint examination of a sensitive technology without pre-authorizing its use. A comparable approach would recognize the Saudis’ rights under the Nonproliferation Treaty but eliminate immediate concerns about weapon-grade materials in the kingdom.

Nuclear geopolitical and nonproliferation imperatives cannot be in conflict in the Middle East — both are critically important. There are serious concerns about the dangers posed by the production of weapon-grade materials in the region, including a potential Iran-Saudi nuclear arms race and the temptation for nuclear terrorism. There are equally real dangers that without a central U.S. role in the Saudi program nuclear and global security will suffer.

The balance between these goals can be found, but it will require creativity, compromise and a commitment to limit the inevitable imperfections.

Kenneth N. Luongo is president and founder of the Partnership for Global Security and the Center for a Secure Nuclear Future. He served from 1994-1997 as senior advisor to the Secretary of Energy for Nonproliferation Policy and simultaneously as the Department of Energy’s director of the Office of Arms Control and Nonproliferation.

http://thehill.com/opinion/international/375585-preventing-a-nuclear-meltdown-in-the-middle-east

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1071, Story 1: U-3 Unemployment Rate 3.9% and U-6 Unemployment Rate 7.8% — Labor Participation Rate Falls To 62.8% Far Below 66-67% Rate For Booming Economy — Number of Americans Not In Labor Force Increased By 410,000 and Hits High of 95,745,000! — Real Reason For .2% Drop in U-3 and U-6 Unemployment Rates — Mediocre Job Report — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Address Record 87,000 Plus National Rifle Association Members in Dallas, Texas — Videos

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Image result for cartoons on unemployment rate and labor participation

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Story 1: U-3 Unemployment Rate 3.9% and U-6 Unemployment Rate 7.8% — Labor Participation Rate Falls To 62.8% Far Below 66-67% Rate For Booming Economy — Number of Americans Not In Labor Force Increased By 410,000 and Hits High of 95,745,000! — Real Reason For .2% Drop in U-3 and U-6 Unemployment Rates — Mediocre Job Report — Videos

 

Alternate Unemployment Charts

The seasonally-adjusted SGS Alternate Unemployment Rate reflects current unemployment reporting methodology adjusted for SGS-estimated long-term discouraged workers, who were defined out of official existence in 1994. That estimate is added to the BLS estimate of U-6 unemployment, which includes short-term discouraged workers.

The U-3 unemployment rate is the monthly headline number. The U-6 unemployment rate is the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) broadest unemployment measure, including short-term discouraged and other marginally-attached workers as well as those forced to work part-time because they cannot find full-time employment.

 

Public Commentary on Unemployment

Unemployment Data Series   Last Updated: May 4th, 2018

The ShadowStats Alternate Unemployment Rate for April 2018 is 21.5%.

http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/unemployment-charts

Unemployment Game Show – Are you Officially Unemployed? | Mint Personal Finance Software

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Is Unemployment Undercounted?

Frictional Unemployment

Structural Unemployment

Cyclical Unemployment

What Is the Natural Rate of Unemployment?

Labor Force Participation

Unemployment rate falls to lowest point since 2000

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Unemployment Rate Drops To 3.9% In April | CNBC

April jobs report shows growth, unemployment decline

April Jobs Growth Weaker Than Expected

Labor participation has hit a 38-year low, and that’s a problem

PBS NewsHour

Published on Jul 2, 2015

Transforming America’s Outdated Labor Market

Murray Rothbard on Economic Recessions

The Future of Austrian Economics | Murray N. Rothbard

F A Hayek – Unemployment And The Free Market

 

Civilian Labor Force Level

161,527,000

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

 

Series Id:           LNS11000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Civilian Labor Force Level
Labor force status:  Civilian labor force
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1998 137095 137112 137236 137150 137372 137455 137588 137570 138286 138279 138381 138634
1999 139003 138967 138730 138959 139107 139329 139439 139430 139622 139771 140025 140177
2000 142267(1) 142456 142434 142751 142388 142591 142278 142514 142518 142622 142962 143248
2001 143800 143701 143924 143569 143318 143357 143654 143284 143989 144086 144240 144305
2002 143883 144653 144481 144725 144938 144808 144803 145009 145552 145314 145041 145066
2003 145937(1) 146100 146022 146474 146500 147056 146485 146445 146530 146716 147000 146729
2004 146842(1) 146709 146944 146850 147065 147460 147692 147564 147415 147793 148162 148059
2005 148029(1) 148364 148391 148926 149261 149238 149432 149779 149954 150001 150065 150030
2006 150214(1) 150641 150813 150881 151069 151354 151377 151716 151662 152041 152406 152732
2007 153144(1) 152983 153051 152435 152670 153041 153054 152749 153414 153183 153835 153918
2008 154063(1) 153653 153908 153769 154303 154313 154469 154641 154570 154876 154639 154655
2009 154210(1) 154538 154133 154509 154747 154716 154502 154307 153827 153784 153878 153111
2010 153484(1) 153694 153954 154622 154091 153616 153691 154086 153975 153635 154125 153650
2011 153263(1) 153214 153376 153543 153479 153346 153288 153760 154131 153961 154128 153995
2012 154381(1) 154671 154749 154545 154866 155083 154948 154763 155160 155554 155338 155628
2013 155763(1) 155312 155005 155394 155536 155749 155599 155605 155687 154673 155265 155182
2014 155357(1) 155526 156108 155404 155564 155742 156011 156124 156019 156383 156455 156301
2015 157063(1) 156734 156754 157051 157449 157071 157035 157132 156700 157138 157435 158043
2016 158387(1) 158811 159253 158919 158512 158976 159207 159514 159734 159700 159544 159736
2017 159718(1) 159997 160235 160181 159729 160214 160467 160598 161082 160371 160533 160597
2018 161115(1) 161921 161763 161527
1 : Data affected by changes in population controls.

 

Labor Force Participation Rate

62.8%

 

Series Id:           LNS11300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Labor Force Participation Rate
Labor force status:  Civilian labor force participation rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1998 67.1 67.1 67.1 67.0 67.0 67.0 67.0 67.0 67.2 67.2 67.1 67.2
1999 67.2 67.2 67.0 67.1 67.1 67.1 67.1 67.0 67.0 67.0 67.1 67.1
2000 67.3 67.3 67.3 67.3 67.1 67.1 66.9 66.9 66.9 66.8 66.9 67.0
2001 67.2 67.1 67.2 66.9 66.7 66.7 66.8 66.5 66.8 66.7 66.7 66.7
2002 66.5 66.8 66.6 66.7 66.7 66.6 66.5 66.6 66.7 66.6 66.4 66.3
2003 66.4 66.4 66.3 66.4 66.4 66.5 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 65.9
2004 66.1 66.0 66.0 65.9 66.0 66.1 66.1 66.0 65.8 65.9 66.0 65.9
2005 65.8 65.9 65.9 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.0 66.0
2006 66.0 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.2 66.3 66.4
2007 66.4 66.3 66.2 65.9 66.0 66.0 66.0 65.8 66.0 65.8 66.0 66.0
2008 66.2 66.0 66.1 65.9 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.0 66.0 65.9 65.8
2009 65.7 65.8 65.6 65.7 65.7 65.7 65.5 65.4 65.1 65.0 65.0 64.6
2010 64.8 64.9 64.9 65.2 64.9 64.6 64.6 64.7 64.6 64.4 64.6 64.3
2011 64.2 64.1 64.2 64.2 64.1 64.0 64.0 64.1 64.2 64.1 64.1 64.0
2012 63.7 63.8 63.8 63.7 63.7 63.8 63.7 63.5 63.6 63.8 63.6 63.7
2013 63.7 63.4 63.3 63.4 63.4 63.4 63.3 63.3 63.2 62.8 63.0 62.9
2014 62.9 62.9 63.1 62.8 62.8 62.8 62.9 62.9 62.8 62.9 62.9 62.8
2015 62.9 62.7 62.7 62.8 62.9 62.7 62.6 62.6 62.3 62.5 62.5 62.7
2016 62.8 62.9 63.0 62.8 62.6 62.7 62.8 62.8 62.9 62.8 62.7 62.7
2017 62.9 62.9 63.0 62.9 62.7 62.8 62.9 62.9 63.0 62.7 62.7 62.7
2018 62.7 63.0 62.9 62.8

 

Unemployment Level

6,346,000

 

Series Id:           LNS13000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Level
Labor force status:  Unemployed
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1998 6368 6306 6422 5941 6047 6212 6259 6179 6300 6280 6100 6032
1999 5976 6111 5783 6004 5796 5951 6025 5838 5915 5778 5716 5653
2000 5708 5858 5733 5481 5758 5651 5747 5853 5625 5534 5639 5634
2001 6023 6089 6141 6271 6226 6484 6583 7042 7142 7694 8003 8258
2002 8182 8215 8304 8599 8399 8393 8390 8304 8251 8307 8520 8640
2003 8520 8618 8588 8842 8957 9266 9011 8896 8921 8732 8576 8317
2004 8370 8167 8491 8170 8212 8286 8136 7990 7927 8061 7932 7934
2005 7784 7980 7737 7672 7651 7524 7406 7345 7553 7453 7566 7279
2006 7064 7184 7072 7120 6980 7001 7175 7091 6847 6727 6872 6762
2007 7116 6927 6731 6850 6766 6979 7149 7067 7170 7237 7240 7645
2008 7685 7497 7822 7637 8395 8575 8937 9438 9494 10074 10538 11286
2009 12058 12898 13426 13853 14499 14707 14601 14814 15009 15352 15219 15098
2010 15046 15113 15202 15325 14849 14474 14512 14648 14579 14516 15081 14348
2011 14013 13820 13737 13957 13855 13962 13763 13818 13948 13594 13302 13093
2012 12797 12813 12713 12646 12660 12692 12656 12471 12115 12124 12005 12298
2013 12471 11950 11689 11760 11654 11751 11335 11279 11270 11136 10787 10404
2014 10235 10365 10435 9724 9740 9474 9610 9602 9266 8972 9064 8704
2015 8951 8634 8578 8546 8662 8265 8206 7996 7891 7884 7948 7907
2016 7811 7806 8024 7942 7465 7812 7723 7827 7919 7761 7419 7502
2017 7642 7486 7171 7021 6837 6964 6956 7127 6759 6524 6616 6576
2018 6684 6706 6585 6346

 

95,745,000: Record Number Not in Labor Force as Boomers Retire

By Susan Jones | May 7, 2018 | 11:40 AM EDT
A growing number of retirees is pushing up the number of Americans counted as “not in the labor force.”

(CNSNews.com) – The number of employed Americans has broken eight records since President Trump took office, but on the not-so-sunny side, the number of Americans not in the labor force also keeps increasing, breaking six records since Trump took office in January 2017.

Last month, a record 95,745,000 Americans were counted as “not in the labor force,” meaning they are not employed and are not seeking a job, according to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statics. “This category includes retired persons, students, those taking care of children or other family members, and others who are neither working nor seeking work,” BLS said.

With record numbers of people not in the labor force, the labor force participation rate has remained stubbornly low in recent years.

In April, only 62.8 percent of the non-institutionalized, civilian population over the age of 16 was either working or actively looking for work. This compares with an all-time high of 67.3 percent in the first four months of 2000.

In a March 2018 report, the Congressional Budget Office noted that a lower labor force participation rate is associated with lower gross domestic product and lower tax revenues. It is also associated with larger federal outlays, because people who are not in the labor force are more likely to enroll in federal benefit programs, including Social Security.

This past January, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the labor force participation rate will continue to decline over the next 30 years from the current 62.8 percent to 61.0 percent in 2027 and to 59.2 percent in 2047.

According to that report, “The continued retirement of the baby-boom generation is the most important factor driving down the overall participation rate.” The first Baby Boomers — people born between 1946 and 1964 — turned 65 in 2011.

CBO has identified three factors pushing down the participation rate, and three factors pushing it up in future years, as follows:

On the downside:

— First, younger workers who are replacing Baby Boomers in the labor force tend to participate in the labor force at lower rates.

— Second, the share of people receiving disability insurance benefits is generally projected to continue increasing, and people who receive such benefits are less likely to participate in the labor force.

— Third, the marriage rate is projected to continue declining, especially among men, and unmarried men tend to participate in the labor force at lower rates than married men.

On the upside:

— First, the population is becoming more educated, and workers with more education tend to participate in the labor force at higher rates than do people with less education.

— Second, the racial and ethnic composition of the population is changing in ways that increase participation in the labor force. CBO expects Hispanics to make up an increasing share of the population, which would increase the overall labor force participation rate, and it expects non-Hispanic whites to make up a diminishing share, which would decrease the participation rate — resulting, on net, in an increase.

— Third, increasing longevity is expected to lead people to work longer.

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/95745000-record-number-americans-not-participating-labor-force-boomers

The U.S. Labor Market: 2017 Review and Outlook

 by Jed Kolko

The US labor market forged ahead in 2017. Job growth was strong and steady after accounting for hurricanes and extreme weather. Unemployment kept falling and wage growth picked up a bit. Best of all—the labor market recovery reached many of the least well-off, including those who were hurt most in the recession.

Still, the good news hasn’t touched everyone. The biggest short-term challenge is not growth, but distribution—some sectors of the economy and a few regions of the country lagged. Furthermore, the welcome narrowing of some labor market gaps in 2017 might turn out to be temporary. The labor market also faces longer-term challenges from technological disruption and polarization. In short, behind the successes of 2017, we found plenty to watch, wonder and even worry about in the year ahead.

A look back at 2017: leaps and momentum, with room to grow

The labor market made impressive gains this past year. October 2017 was the 85th consecutive month of job growth. So far in 2017, monthly job growth has averaged 169,000—down modestly from previous years, but more than we’d expect after so many years of recovery and expansion. Job growth is also still far ahead of what’s needed to keep up with low working-age population growth.

The result is more people are working. Two key measures improved notably: The U-6 rate, a broad measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those involuntarily working part time, fell from 9.2% in December 2016 to 7.9% in October 2017. And, over the same period, the share of 25–54 year-olds at work rose to 78.8% from 78.2%. Not only are these measures improving, but they’re improving at the same rate or better than they were a year ago. Even after years of gains, the labor market recovery still has momentum.

What’s more, the labor market probably still has room to grow. Granted, the market looks very tight by some measures. The headline unemployment rate (U-3) is 4.1%, its lowest point since the end of 2000. There are nearly as many job openings as unemployed workers. Employers are laying off fewer workers today than in the early 2000s.

But other measures suggest there’s still slack. Several key measures of the labor market haven’t returned to their 2000 levels, including the broad U-6 unemployment rate, the share of people unemployed for more than six months, and the employment-to-population ratio among people of prime working age. These indicators stand in contrast to the measure that gets the most attention—the narrower headline unemployment rate, which doesn’t count people who are willing and able to work but aren’t looking. Thus, the headline rate probably overstates labor market tightness.

Wage trends also point to some remaining slack. Wage growth has averaged 2.6% year-over-year throughout 2017, similar to 2016 and ahead of the pace from 2010 to 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) monthly jobs report.

Why haven’t wages risen even faster in 2017 as the unemployment rate has dropped? It’s partly a measurement issue. The measure of wage growth in the jobs report probably understates 2017 wage gains. The BLS releases an alternative measure of wages and benefits that accounts for changes in the job mix—and that indicator has accelerated in 2017. Furthermore, this alternative measure has historically tracked the employment-to-population ratio among prime-age workers closely. Today, this measure of wage growth is what we’d expect for the improving, but not gangbusters, prime-age employment-to-population ratio.

Thus, the headline unemployment rate probably overstates labor market tightness, while wage growth in the jobs report probably understates 2017 wage gains. That means, first, there may be more room for employment to expand. And, second, wage growth is neither quite as slow nor as puzzling as it initially appears.

Even better news: labor market gaps narrowed in 2017

By themselves, solid job expansion, falling unemployment and strengthening wage growth would be reason enough to cheer 2017. But there’s more—the greatest gains have gone to the people who needed them most. The least well-off and those hurt most by the recession typically saw larger employment and wage increases than others. Thus, labor market inequalities narrowed in 2017.

Let’s look first at industries. Over the past year, employment increased most in middle-wage industries, such as couriers and messengers, non-store retailers and homebuilding contractors. Middle-wage industries fared worst during the recession, losing more jobs than both higher- and lower-wage industries. Their newfound strength is a welcome rebound.

Strikingly, after losing jobs in 2016, manufacturing grew 1.3% in the past year, nearly the same pace as employment overall. In addition, wages rose most in lower-wage industries, as they have for several years. Wages in lower-wage industries were up 3.6% in September 2017 year-over-year versus 2.6% in middle-wage and 2.5% in higher-wage industries.

These trends translate to better conditions for people with fewer advantages in the labor market—including those with less education. Whatever the measure—unemployment, earnings or risk from automation—people with more education typically fare better in the labor market. But, over the past year, people with a high school degree or less have notched the biggest employment gains, whether measured by the unemployment rate or the employment-to-population ratio. This group has also had proportionally bigger wage gains than people with a bachelor’s or graduate degree.

Inevitably though, not every corner of the labor market is thriving. Job growth has been slower in the Northeast and Midwest than in the South and West. In fact, ten of the 103 largest metros lost jobs in the past year, including several in the Great Lakes region.

We find laggards not only by geography, but also by sector. Three sectors lost jobs in the past year. Employment in the information sector was dragged down by losses in motion pictures, broadcast outlets and telecoms. The retail sector overall lost jobs, particularly brick-and-mortar stores that directly face online competitors. At the same time, non-store retailers and related industries like couriers and warehouses gained.

The places and industries left behind are not our only labor market concerns. We’ve also got our eye on several big questions for next year.

What to watch, wonder and worry about in 2018

Let’s start with the too-much-of-a-good-thing worry. If the labor market tightens further—or if, as some argue, the market is already so tight that it has little room to grow—what challenges will we contend with? That leads to our first big question:

ONE: How will employers respond to a tightening labor market? Falling unemployment and rising wages for people with less education are drawing in job seekers and raising their expectations. On the Indeed site, searches for full-time work have increased, but not for part-time work. But good news for workers brings challenges for employers. Companies may have to raise wages, relax hiring requirements or invest more in on-the-job training, and they might struggle to fill part-time jobs. Tellingly, more job-seekers are searching using terms like “no background check” and “felony-friendly” jobs. And employers looking for technical workers might also face the additional challenge of future restrictions on immigration to the US and the rising interest of US tech workers in Canadian jobs.

Then there are longer-term concerns. We have big questions about why people remain out of work, whether labor market polarization will increase again and how people whose jobs disappear will manage.

TWO: Will fewer workers be sidelined by illness and disability? The share of prime-age adults who aren’t working because of illness or disability has risen from 2% in 1970 to over 5% today, and the percentages are much higher for adults with a high school degree or less. This long-term trend has worsened with the opioid crisis. Some in this category may never work again. But there is a glimmer of good news: Illness and disability is keeping fewer people out of work today than in 2015. The tightening labor market—especially for less-educated adults—may be lifting wages enough to lure some of these adults back to work.

THREE: Will labor market gaps start widening again? The narrowing of employment and wage gaps in 2017 might not last. Although middle-wage jobs grew fastest in the past year, polarization of the labor force could return. The latest BLS projections point to faster job growth in high-wage and low-wage jobs, with slower growth of middle-wage jobs and for people with a high school degree or less.

Plus, geographic gaps are likely to worsen. Job growth today is faster in larger metros than in smaller metros or rural areas. Future job growth will probably continue to lag in rural areas, where slower-growing occupations are concentrated. In contrast, the fastest-growing occupations are clustered in places like the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Washington DC, and other expensive coastal markets. In particular, higher-paying, cutting-edge tech jobs increasingly are concentrated in top tech hubs.

FOUR: How will workers manage painful disruptions? Hard as it may be to believe, there is less disruption and churn in the labor market today than in the early 2000s and much less than in the 1940s and 1950s. In fact, economists worry that there’s too little job-switching, business turnover and mobility, not too much. Still, for people whose jobs are being disrupted by automation or globalization, the pain is real. And it’s not just factory workers and farmers. Most of the jobs in shrinking occupations are now in service positions like secretaries and data-entry work. People in threatened occupations are looking at opportunities in new fields. On Indeed’s site, we see truckers checking out mining and heavy-equipment-operation jobs, while retail workers are clicking on customer service and sales-rep roles.

Those are some of the questions we’ll be looking at next year. Both the best news from 2017 and some of our top concerns for 2018 are about the distribution of labor market gains, not the overall growth rate. The labor market is entering 2018 with strength and momentum, and these longer-term challenges are moving—as they should be—into the foreground.

https://www.hiringlab.org/2017/12/05/2017-us-labor-market-outlook/

 

Employment Situation Summary

Transmission of material in this news release is embargoed until           USDL-18-0683
8:30 a.m. (EDT) Friday, May 4, 2018.

Technical information:
 Household data:     (202) 691-6378  *  cpsinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/cps
 Establishment data: (202) 691-6555  *  cesinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/ces

Media contact:      (202) 691-5902  *  PressOffice@bls.gov


                         THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- APRIL 2018


Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 164,000 in April, and the unemployment
rate edged down to 3.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
Job gains occurred in professional and business services, manufacturing, health care,
and mining.

Household Survey Data

In April, the unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 percent, following 6 months at 4.1
percent. The number of unemployed persons, at 6.3 million, also edged down over the
month. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult women decreased to
3.5 percent in April. The jobless rates for adult men (3.7 percent), teenagers
(12.9 percent), Whites (3.6 percent), Blacks (6.6 percent), Asians (2.8 percent),
and Hispanics (4.8 percent) showed little or no change over the month. (See
tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary
jobs declined by 188,000 in April to 3.0 million. (See table A-11.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little
changed at 1.3 million in April and accounted for 20.0 percent of the unemployed.
Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 340,000. (See
table A-12.)

Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.8 percent, and the employment-
population ratio, at 60.3 percent, changed little in April. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred
to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 5.0 million in
April. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were
working part time because their hours had been reduced or because they were unable
to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.)

In April, 1.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down
by 172,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These
individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and
had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as
unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the
survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 408,000 discouraged workers in April,
little changed from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.)
Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they
believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.0 million persons 
marginally attached to the labor force in April had not searched for work for
reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 164,000 in April, compared with an
average monthly gain of 191,000 over the prior 12 months. In April, job gains
occurred in professional and business services, manufacturing, health care, and
mining. (See table B-1.)

In April, employment in professional and business services increased by 54,000. Over
the past 12 months, the industry has added 518,000 jobs.

Employment in manufacturing increased by 24,000 in April. Most of the gain was in
the durable goods component, with machinery adding 8,000 jobs and employment in
fabricated metal products continuing to trend up (+4,000). Manufacturing employment
has risen by 245,000 over the year, with about three-fourths of the growth in durable
goods industries.

Health care added 24,000 jobs in April and 305,000 jobs over the year. In April,
employment rose in ambulatory health care services (+17,000) and hospitals (+8,000).

In April, employment in mining increased by 8,000, with most of the gain occurring
in support activities for mining (+7,000). Since a recent low in October 2016,
employment in mining has risen by 86,000.

Employment changed little over the month in other major industries, including
construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing,
information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at
34.5 hours in April. In manufacturing, the workweek increased by 0.2 hour to 41.1
hours, while overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.7 hours. The average workweek for
production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by
0.1 hour to 33.8 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In April, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls
rose by 4 cents to $26.84. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by
67 cents, or 2.6 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and
nonsupervisory employees increased by 5 cents to $22.51 in April. (See tables B-3
and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February was revised down from
+326,000 to +324,000, and the change for March was revised up from +103,000 to
+135,000. With these revisions, employment gains in February and March combined were
30,000 more than previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional
reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published
estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.) After revisions, job
gains have averaged 208,000 over the last 3 months.

_____________
The Employment Situation for May is scheduled to be released on Friday, June 1, 2018,
at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).


The PDF version of the news release

News release charts

Supplemental Files Table of Contents

Table of Contents

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

Employment Situation Summary Table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted

HOUSEHOLD DATA
Summary table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted
[Numbers in thousands]
Category Apr.
2017
Feb.
2018
Mar.
2018
Apr.
2018
Change from:
Mar.
2018-
Apr.
2018

Employment status

Civilian noninstitutional population

254,588 256,934 257,097 257,272 175

Civilian labor force

160,181 161,921 161,763 161,527 -236

Participation rate

62.9 63.0 62.9 62.8 -0.1

Employed

153,161 155,215 155,178 155,181 3

Employment-population ratio

60.2 60.4 60.4 60.3 -0.1

Unemployed

7,021 6,706 6,585 6,346 -239

Unemployment rate

4.4 4.1 4.1 3.9 -0.2

Not in labor force

94,407 95,012 95,335 95,745 410

Unemployment rates

Total, 16 years and over

4.4 4.1 4.1 3.9 -0.2

Adult men (20 years and over)

3.9 3.7 3.7 3.7 0.0

Adult women (20 years and over)

4.1 3.8 3.7 3.5 -0.2

Teenagers (16 to 19 years)

14.7 14.4 13.5 12.9 -0.6

White

3.9 3.7 3.6 3.6 0.0

Black or African American

7.9 6.9 6.9 6.6 -0.3

Asian

3.2 2.9 3.1 2.8 -0.3

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

5.2 4.9 5.1 4.8 -0.3

Total, 25 years and over

3.6 3.4 3.4 3.3 -0.1

Less than a high school diploma

6.5 5.7 5.5 5.9 0.4

High school graduates, no college

4.6 4.4 4.3 4.3 0.0

Some college or associate degree

3.7 3.5 3.6 3.5 -0.1

Bachelor’s degree and higher

2.4 2.3 2.2 2.1 -0.1

Reason for unemployment

Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs

3,538 3,279 3,146 2,958 -188

Job le