Story 1: French Confirm Killing of Police Officer By Radical Islamic Terrorist Killer, Karim Cheurfi, Connected To Islamic State, — Videos —
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Revealed: ISIS terrorist who shot dead cop in Paris attack was arrested TWO MONTHS ago for threatening to kill police and served 15 years for trying to murder two officers
Policeman Xavier Jugele, 37, was killed last night after being ‘targeted’ on the Champs Elysees in central Paris
The attacker was eventually shot dead after French police officers rushed to the scene in the heart of the city
The gunman’s Audi contained a pump action shotgun, knives and ID of known ‘extremist’ Karim Cheurfi
Two other police officers were ‘seriously injured’ and a ‘female foreign tourist’ was wounded in the incident
A note declaring allegiance to ISIS was discovered on the Champs Elysees and is being investigated by police
By Abe Hawken and Amie Gordon and Anthony Joseph and Sam Tonkin In London and Nick Fagge and Peter Allen In Paris for MailOnline
PUBLISHED: 13:42 EDT, 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:21 EDT, 21 April 2017
French security services are today facing troubling questions as to how they failed to prevent an ISIS gunman from slaughtering one policeman and wounding two other officers in Paris when he was arrested as recently as February.
Karim Cheurfi, 39, had served 15 years of a 20-year jail sentence for attempting to kill two officers in 2001, before his release last year.
In February, the terrorist tried to obtain weapons and made threats to kill police officers, but was let go in early March due to lack of evidence.
On Thursday night, the fanatic was killed by police after he got out of his Audi and opened fire at police who had stopped at a red light on Champs Elysees. His car was packed with more weapons, including a pump action shotgun and knives. A copy of the Koran was also found in the vehicle.
Traffic officer Xavier Jugele, 37, died instantly with a shot to the head, while the other two were hurt before Cheurfi himself was gunned down by nearby armed police. A ricocheting bullet fired by the terrorist also wounded a female foreign tourist passing by.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack and nicknamed the attacker ‘Abu Yousuf al-Belgiki’, which translates to ‘the Belgian’ in Arabic – a name which was listed in uncovered documents from the terror group last year.
A note declaring allegiance to ISIS was discovered on the Champs Elysees and is being investigated by police. Its presence and the speed at which ISIS claimed responsibility may suggest the attack was directed by the jihadist group rather than carried out by a lone supporter.
Pictured (left and right) is the suspected ISIS gunman, who has been identified locally as 39-year-old Karim Cheurfi
The alleged ISIS gunman, identified as 39-year-old Karim Cheurfi – who was jailed for 20 years for trying to kill officers in 2001 – parked his Audi and opened fire after police stopped at a red light on the world famous avenue. Pictured is his arrest warrant from last month, when he was detained for trying to obtain weapons ‘to kill police’
Traffic officer Xavier Jugele (pictured), 37, died instantly with a shot to the head, while the other two were hurt before Cheurfi himself was gunned down by nearby armed police
Pictured is armed police crowded two other officers, believed to have been shot in the attack, on Champs Elysees on Thursday night
French police leave the home of ISIS gunman Karim Cheurfi in the suburb of Chelles, in Paris, following last night’s attack
A woman places a flower near the spot on the Champs Elysees where the shooting occurred last night in the French capital
A body is removed from the scene after a traffic officer was killed by an ISIS gunman in central Paris last night
French police officers and forensic teams searched a vehicle which was close to the scene on the Champs Elysees in Paris
A police lorry seized the Audi which the attacker was driving, before he got out and shot at traffic officers last night
A still image from video footage shows police forensic investigators inspect the car used by the attacker in Paris last night
In the latest developments after the attack:
French police have this morning arrested three family members of ISIS gunman Karim Cheurfi
Police are hunting a second suspect, who was brought to their attention by Belgian authorities
A man whose image appeared on social media as ‘second suspect’ handed himself to police in Antwerp claiming he was not linked to the plot. Detectives have said this man had nothing to do with the attack
Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen called for all French terror suspects to be expelled
France’s government has reviewed its already extensive election security measures and says it is ‘fully mobilised’ and nothing will stop Sunday’s presidential vote
US President Donald Trump believes the attack will have a ‘big effect’ on the outcome of the election
British Prime Minister Theresa May has sent condolences to the French president following the latest attack but the pair have not spoken directly since last night
Iran’s foreign secretary Bahram Ghasemi said France was feeling a blowback for its support of rebels in Syria
French officials revealed that Cheurfi was detained in Meaux, 24 miles east of Paris, on February 23 this year, after it emerged he was trying to buy weapons ‘to kill police’.
On Friday night, but prosecutors tonight denied that he was on a security watch list and added the terrorist showed no signs of radicalisation before the attack.
He reportedly used the alias ‘Abu Yousuf the Belgian’ and reportedly made threats to murder officers using the social media app Telegram, an instant messaging service.
Despite having a long list of police-hating convictions, he was able to obtain a Kalashnikov, a pump action shotgun and several knives ahead of last night’s attack.
He had been jailed for 20 years in 2005 for trying to kill two policemen. He opened fire five times with a .38 revolver following a car chase in 2001, leaving the officers and a third victim wounded. All three survived the attack in Roissy-en-Brie, in the Seine-et-Marne department of northern France.
An armed police officer hoists his weapon as they storm the streets of Paris after the latest terror attack to hit the city
Armed police outside a shop in central Paris after an ISIS gunman killed a traffic officer and injured three other people
Armed police officers on the streets of Paris after a gunman killed a traffic cop and seriously injured two others last night
Armed police officers stood guard after they rushed to the scene in the centre of the capital following the incident which left frightened witnesses sprinting for their lives
A team of forensic detectives examine the Audi, which the gunman was driving. ID of Karim Cheurfi was found in the vehicle
Cheurfi, who was born in France, was a recluse who blamed police for ruining his life, a friend of the family revealed today.
OFFICER SHOT DEAD GUARDED BATACLAN AT ITS REOPENING
By Sam Tonkin for MailOnline
The policeman killed by an ISIS gunman on the Champs-Elysees was today named as Xavier Jugelé, a 37-year-old Paris officer who defiantly said ‘no to terrorists’ at the reopening of the Bataclan theatre last November.
He was shot in the head when the terrorist – identified today as French national Karim Cheurfi, 39 – launched his attack on three police officers at around 9pm last night.
Jugelé, who was a proud defender of gay rights, was named as the victim who died by French newspaper Le Parisien.
It has since emerged that Jugelé (pictured left and right) was on duty at the reopening of the Bataclan theatre on November last year – a year on from the Paris attacks which left 130 dead
It has since emerged that Jugelé was on duty at the reopening of the Bataclan theatre on November last year – a year on from the Paris attacks which left 130 dead.
As British singer Sting marked the occasion with a performance at the concert hall, Jugelé defiantly told PEOPLE.com that he was there ‘to say no to terrorists’.
The policeman added: ‘I’m happy to be here. Glad the Bataclan is reopening. It’s symbolic.
‘We’re here tonight as witnesses. Here to defend our civic values. This concert’s to celebrate life. To say no to terrorists.
‘It doesn’t feel strange, it feels important,’ he added. ‘Symbolic.’
He did not attend formal mosque prayer services and became fascinated by jihadist propaganda via the internet, a confident of his mother claimed.
‘Karim did not pray, he drank alcohol and watched jihadist propaganda,’ neighbour Hakim, 50, told MailOnline.
‘He was not a good Muslim, he was a lost soul. He had no friends, no girlfriend, he never went out. He stayed at home all day watching stuff on the internet.’
Another neighbour added: ‘Karim didn’t go to the mosque. He just stayed at home. You never saw him.’
Hakim continued: ‘Karim blamed the police for ruining his life. He fired (a pistol) at police during a burglary and got sentenced to 15 years prison.
‘He was only 20 at the time. He hated the police, he said they had ruined his life. He was ‘anti-cop’. He would swear at officers in the street, call them bastards. He didn’t care.’
Hakim, whose family is close to Cheurfi’s mother, said the gunman had only recently returned to the quiet residential street after spending years behind bars.
Cheurfi lived separately from his mother in a purpose-built apartment in the front of the property.
Hakim added: ‘He lived in the studio in the garden. The mother lived in the big house.’
Cheurfi’s Algerian-born mother had divorced his father and had married a Frenchman with who she had second son. She later divorced her second son.
Another neighbour said: ‘His parents split up but they stayed living at the same property.
‘The father Salat lived in the apartment in the front of the garden and the mother lived in the house at the back of the property.
‘The mother married again, to a Frenchman, and they had a son together but the father stayed living at the property.
‘So it was a bit complicated but that’s life. Karim got on well with his half brother who is called Stephane.
‘But he went to live in the apartment with his father when he got of prison.’
Another neighbor added: ‘The mother is not here. She is in Algeria. She goes there every few months to visit relatives. She’s not been well.’
Officers have been searching the home of Karim in east Paris and arrested three of his family members.
A French government spokesman said the ISIS gunman began firing against police using ‘a weapon of war’.
The fatal incident unfolded as presidential candidates, including National Front party leader Marine Le Pen, debated on a TV show nearby before Sunday’s election.
Paris police search the suspected Champs-Elysee attacker’s house
A French police officer has been shot dead on the Champs Elysees in Paris (pictured) – just days before the French presidential election
People held their hands up as they walked towards officers close to the scene where a policeman was fatally shot in Paris
Police closed off the popular avenue (pictured) after a policeman was killed during a shooting incident in the French capital
Pictured is the scene of a restaurant in Paris when the gunman opened fire on the streets outside. Diners are seen cowering on the ground in fear
An armed policeman speaks to diners in a nearby Parisien restuarant, who cowered to the floor in fear of the ISIS gunman
The gunman has been identified by police but they will not officially reveal his name until investigators determine whether he had accomplices, according to the Paris prosecutor.
Prosecutor Francois Molins said: ‘The identity of the attacker is known and has been checked. I will not give it because investigations with raids are ongoing.
‘The investigators want to be sure whether he had or did not have accomplices.’
The Interior Ministry spokesman said the officers were deliberately targeted and the police union added that the policeman was killed while sat in a car at a red light.
US President Donald Trump said: ‘It looks like another terrorist attack. What can you say? It never ends.’
The attack which took place on the Champs Elysees (pictured) comes just three days before the first round of balloting in France’s tense presidential election
A French police officer stood guard on the Champs Elysees in central Paris following the fatal shooting, which has been described as ‘terrorist related’
Police officers secured the area after a gunman got of an Audi vehicle and targeted officers by firing an automatic gun towards them
A man and a woman put their hands in the air as armed officers stood just yards away from them following the incident in the city
Officers searched the home of the suspected gunman on Thursday evening after they travelled to his home in the east part of the capital
People were seen running away from the area after Thursday night’s attack, which has been described as being ‘terrorist related’
Police officers searched the home of the suspected gunman in east Paris following the attack in the capital on Thursday
The Audi which is believed to belong to the attacker was taken away from the scene on the back of a lorry as police rushed to the popular avenue
Forensic experts and police officers were seen examining evidence from a van on the Champs Elysees in central Paris
‘I heard six gunshots’: Eyewitness tells how Paris attack unfolded
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack and dramatic video footage showed the immediate aftermath of the incident which left one policeman dead.
Pierre-Henry Brandet, spokesman for the French Interior Ministry, confirmed that both injured officers in hospital were now ‘out of danger’ and ‘stable’, while the female tourist was far less badly hurt.
Mr Brandet did not name any of the victims, but praised the officers for ‘helping to avoid a bloodbath’ by ‘neutralising’ the attacker as quickly as possible.
French President Francois Hollande said the attack was ‘terrorist related’ and scheduled an emergency meeting following the shootings on Thursday evening.
Mr Hollande said a national tribute will be paid to the policeman and added that a ‘passerby was hit’ before the ‘assailant was neutralised’.
Conservative contender Francois Fillon, who has campaigned against ‘Islamic totalitarianism,’ said on France 2 television that he was canceling his planned campaign stops Friday.
Far-right candidate Le Pen, who campaigns against immigration and Islamic fundamentalism, took to Twitter to offer her sympathy for law enforcement officers ‘once again targeted.’
She canceled a minor campaign stop, but scheduled another.
Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron offered his thoughts to the family of the dead officer.
Socialist Benoit Hamon tweeted his ‘full support’ to police against terrorism.
Le Pen and Francois Fillon announced that they have both cancelled their campaigning on Friday.
Paris gunman’s neighbour speaks out as police raid suspect’s home
French presidential election candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon (pictured) took part in the TV show just days before the election
French presidential candidates, including National Front party leader Marine Le Pen (pictured), took part in a key debate
Mr Brandet said ‘all lines of investigation were being pursued’, while intelligence sources said the dead assailant was a known radical on a so-called S-file, for ‘State-security’.
This means he would have been under surveillance, because he was a known risk to the country.
An eyewitness, called Chelloug, said: ‘It was a terrorist. He came out with a Kalashnikov and started shooting, but he could’ve shot us on the pavement and killed more people with a spray of shots.
‘But he targeted the policemen and fortunately there were the policemen who killed him.’
Another witness said: ‘I saw someone shoot at the police officers. They returned fire, they killed him, he fell on the floor. And then the emergency services came.
‘It took place by Zara and there was a CRS (Republican Security Companies) van parked up and the man shot the police officers. He took out a weapon and shot them.
‘I think the police officer was killed on the spot and his colleagues fired back and killed the individual.’
The attack comes just three days before the first round of balloting in France’s tense presidential election.
A witness, identified only as Ines, told BFM that she heard a shooting, saw a man’s body on the ground and the area was quickly evacuated by police.
It comes just two days after police arrested two men in southern Marseille with weapons and explosives who were suspected of preparing an attack to disrupt the first-round of the presidential election on Sunday.
France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of alert since a string of terror attacks that began in 2015, which have killed over 230 people.
Thousands of troops and armed police have been deployed to guard tourist hotspots such as the Champs Elysees or other potential targets like government buildings and religious sites.
Hollande says they are convinced the attack is of terrorist nature
Police officers quickly secured the area – which is popular with tourists and Parisians – after the attack and the road was on lockdown by 9pm
Police search the car reportedly used in Paris attack
Police officers took positions near the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris after the gunman – who was known to the security services – launched the attack
An armed soldier spoke to a man a told him to leave the area following the fatal shooting close to the Arc de Triomphe (pictured)
French soldiers secure the Champs Elysees Avenue after a police officer was killed when a gunman opened fire in Paris
French police officers searched the area after some of their colleagues were shot in the heart of Paris on Thursday evening
French President Francois Hollande (pictured) said the attack was ‘terrorist related’ and scheduled an emergency meeting following the shootings
‘Stay back, stay back!’ Police warn after shooting in Paris
LE PEN ACCUSED OF ‘EXPLOITING’ ATTACK FOR VOTES
By Thomas Burrows for MailOnline
French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has accused far-right candidate Marine Le Pen of ‘exploiting’ the Champs-Elysees terror attack to win votes ahead of Sunday’s presidential election.
In the wake of the shooting Le Pen called for foreign terror suspects to be expelled immediately and claimed France needed a ‘presidency which acts and protects us.’
Responding to that, Cazeneuve, a Socialist, said Le Pen’s National Front (FN) ‘after each attack, seeks to exploit it and use it for purely political means.’
Experts believe the shooting last night could boost Le Pen’s chances of getting elected just days before France goes to the polls.
Le Pen today called for foreign terror suspects to be kicked out the country despite the fact the ISIS gunman was French
Voters could flock to far-right candidate Marine Le Pen following the latest terror attack
In last night’s attack a police officer was killed and two more were injured after a gunman opened fire close to the Champs-Elysees.
Le Pen today called for foreign terror suspects to be kicked out the country despite the fact the ISIS gunman was French. The 39-year-old had used the war name ‘Abu Yousuf the Belgian’.
Officials confirmed the homegrown fanatic was a French national despite his nickname.
A manhunt is underway for the second suspect who travelled by train to France from Belgium.
The Champs-Elysees terror attack could boost far-right candidate Marine Le Pen’s chances of getting elected, experts believe
The shooting took place just four days before the French election and experts believe it could bolster Le Pen’s chances of being elected.
Le Pen has made immigration and security the core part of her campaign. She has pledged to tighten French borders controls and build more jails, and claimed authorities were not doing enough to protect citizens from terror attacks.
More than half of police officers in France had already said they were voting for Le Pen because of her strong anti-terror stance, according to an IFOP poll.
Experts believe it could increase her chances of winning Sunday’s election.
Fredrik Erixon, director at the European Centre for International Political Economy, told CNBC: ‘[It could lead to] a greater performance of Marine Le Pen than otherwise would have been the case.
‘It’s difficult to see how this attack will not play into the hands of political forces that want this campaign to be focused only on issues around migration and terrorism.’
Vishnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank, added: ‘The Paris gunman attack may well swing support in her favor; and this may not be picked up by the polls in a timely manner.’
Mobile phone footage appears to show officer looking over ‘body’
Armed police officers were quick on the scene and closed the world famous avenue following the incident which shocked the city
The world famous was shut at around 9pm and it is believed police are still searching for a second suspect in relation to the attack
Police officers blocked the access of a street near the Champs Elysees in Paris after the fatal shooting on Thursday, April 20
Officers were wearing vests and helmets as they patrolled the area close to where the fatal shooting took. A 39-year-old man is believed to be responsible for the shooting
The world famous street was put on lockdown by 9pm and officers guarded the area in central Paris (pictured, the Eiffel Tower in the background)
A policeman attended the scene and was armed with a gun following the incident. Police have reportedly issued a warrant for a second attacker
Up until now, polls showed voters more concerned about unemployment and their spending power than terrorism or security, though analysts warned this would change in the event of further bloodshed.
For weeks, centrist former banker Le Pen has been out in front but opinion polls now show there is a chance that any of the four leading candidates could reach the second-round runoff on May 7.
Scandal-plagued conservative Fillon and far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon have closed the gap substantially in the last two weeks.
A COUNTRY UNDER SIEGE: TIMELINE OF FRANCE TERROR
By Rory Tingle for MailOnline
March, 18, 2017 – Convicted criminal with links to radical Islam shouted ‘I am here to die for Allah, there will be deaths’ seconds before he was shot dead during an attack at Orly airport. The 39-year-old, named locally as career criminal Ziyed Ben Belgacem, was killed after wrestling a soldier’s gun from her and fleeing into a McDonald’s. He sent a text message to his brother and father stating ‘I shot the police’, shortly before he was killed.
February 3, 2017 – A man is shot five times outside the Louvre museum in the heart of Paris after attempting to storm the historic art gallery.
July 14, 2016 – Amid Bastille Day celebrations in the Riviera city of Nice, a large truck is driven into a festive crowd. Some 86 people from a wide variety of countries are killed. The driver is shot dead. Islamic State extremists claim responsibility for the attack. The state of emergency in France is extended and extra protection, including robust barriers to prevent similar attacks, is put in place at major sites in France.
June 13, 2016 – Two French police officers are murdered in their home in front of their 3-year-old son. Islamic State claims responsibility for the slaying, which was carried out by a jihadist with a prior terrorist conviction. He is killed by police on the scene.
Nov. 13, 2015 – Islamic State militants kill 130 people in France’s worst atrocity since World War II. A series of suicide bomb and shooting attacks are launched on crowded sites in central Paris, as well as the northern suburb of Saint-Denis. Most of those killed are in a crowded theater where hostages are taken. Islamic State extremists claim responsibility and say it was in retaliation for French participation in airstrikes on the militant group’s positions in Syria and Iraq. It leads to the declaration of a state of emergency in France. Police powers are expanded.
Jan. 7, 2015 – Two brothers kill 11 people inside the Paris building where the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is headquartered in what Islamic State extremists claim is retaliation for the publication of cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad. More are killed subsequently in attacks on a kosher market in eastern Paris and on police. There are 17 victims in all, including two police officers. The attackers are killed.
The UK Foreign Office said: ‘The British Embassy is in contact with local authorities and urgently seeking further information following reports of a shooting incident on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
‘You should remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local security authorities and/or your tour operator.
‘If you’re in the area and it is safe to do so, contact your friends and family to tell them you are safe.’
were photographed standing on top of a vehicle on the Champs Elysees following an incident which left one officer dead
French police officers reacted after the shooting which left one officer dead and two more seriously injured in Paris
French soldiers were armed with guns (pictured) and stood guard at the Arc de Triomphe near the Champs Elysees in Paris
Heavily armed officers had flooded the area following the gunshots which were heard in a busy part of the French capital
Reports have suggested that two police officers have been killed on the Champs Elysees in central Paris (pictured) this evening
It was originally believed the other officer was seriously wounded while the attacker was killed on the world famous avenue (pictured)
The incident last night comes as France remains in a state of emergency following the Paris attacks in 2015 and the Bastille Day killings in Nice in 2016.
The shooting comes just hours after one of the busiest roads in Paris was closed off by police as officers dealt with a ‘suspicious package’.
Reports suggested that items were discovered by officers as Rue de Rivoli remained shut. Stunned witnesses described seeing a large police presence on the two-mile-long road.
Rue de Rivoli is a busy commercial street just north of the River Seine which is home to some of the most fashionable shops in the world.
CHAMPS-ELYSEES: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AVENUE IN THE WORLD
By Thomas Burrows for MailOnline
The Champs-Elysees – the scene of Thursday night’s terror attack – is the beating historic heart of Paris.
It has been described as the ‘most beautiful avenue’ in the world and is visited by millions of tourists every year.
Tens of thousands of people daily throng the tree-lined 1.2 mile avenue that is home to luxury stores and chain stores, cafes, cinemas and high-end offices.
A tourist draw as famed as the Eiffel Tower just across the River Seine, the avenue, stretching from the Arc de Triomphe down to Concorde Square, was first laid out in 1670.
Over the decades people have gathered there to mark momentous moments in French history.
During the French Revolution in 1789 an angry mob set off from the avenue to march on Versailles, Louis XVI’s opulent retreat.
It was also the site chosen by General Charles de Gaulle to celebrate the August 25, 1944, liberation of Paris from the Germans during World War Two.
More recently, hundreds of thousands congregated along the avenue to celebrate France’s 1998 World Cup victory (sealed with a 3-0 win over Brazil) on home soil.
The Champs Elysees is famously the finish line for the world’s toughest cycling race, the Tour de France.
Thursday was not the first time violence has been visited on the avenue.
In 1986, it witnessed two attacks – the first, on February 3, seeing one death and eight injured at the Claridge shopping arcade.
A second attack on March 20 at the Point Show arcade killed two and injured 29. Both attacks were linked to Middle East terrorism.
On Bastille Day in 2002, president Jacques Chirac survived an assassination attempt by a right-wing extremist who fired off one shot from a rifle hidden in a guitar case before bystanders wrestled him to the ground.
Story 2: Will Marine Le Pen Win In The First Round of French Presidential Election? First Round –Yes — — Making France Great Again — Second Round –Marine Le Pen May Be First Woman President or Emmanuel Marcon The Youngest President — Videos
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“Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election,” he said.
US presidents typically avoid weighing in on specific candidates running in overseas election. But Mr Trump suggested his opinion was no different from an average observer, saying: “Everybody is making predictions on who is going to win. I’m no different than you.”
Xavier Jugelé, 37, a policeman who had been deployed in the 2015 Bataclan attack, was killed in the shooting.
Ms Le Pen, the far-Right candidate, blasted the mainstream “naive” Left and Right for failing to get tough on Islamism, calling for France to instantly reinstate border checks and expel foreigners who are on the watch lists of intelligence services.
François Fillon, the mainstream conservative candidate, pledged an “iron fist” in the fight against “Islamist totalitarianism” – his priority if elected. “We are at war, it’s either us or them,” said the conservative, whose campaign has been weighed down by allegations he gave his British wife a “fake job”.
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Macron, the independent centrist, whom critics dismiss as a soft touch, hit back at claims shutting borders and filling French prisons would solve the problem, saying: “There’s no such thing as zero risk. Anyone who pretends (otherwise) is both irresponsible and deceitful.”
Sticking to his campaign agenda, far-Left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon told everyone to keep a “cool head” as he took part in a giant picnic.
A last-minute Odoxa poll taken after the attack suggested that Mr Macron was still on course to come first in Sunday’s first round, with Ms Le Pen just behind and through to the May 7 runoff.
However, Mr Fillon and Mr Mélenchon were still snapping at their heels.
The government on Friday announced elite units would join 50,000 police and troops to guard polling booths on Sunday in France’s first presidential election to be held in a state of emergency.
Matthieu Croissandeau, editor of Nouvel Obs magazine, said the French are now thicker-skinned after two years of bloodshed. “The French are unfortunately getting used to terror attacks on home soil and I don’t think this latest one created the shock and awe that might have made a significant difference,” he said.
Ms Le Pen has struggled to get the campaign to focus on her party’s pet issues of security, Islam and immigration. By contrast, she has been thrown on the defensive over her position to pull out of the eurozone.
After the attack, she called on the “notoriously feeble” socialist, President François Hollande, to instantly reinstate border checks and expel foreigners who are on the watch lists of intelligence services. She said: “We cannot afford to lose this war. But for the past 10 years, Left-wing and Right-wing governments have done everything they can for us to lose it.
“We need a presidency which acts and protects us,” she said from her Paris campaign headquarters. Elected French president, I would immediately, and with no hesitation, carry out the battle plan against Islamist terrorism and against judicial laxity.”
Marine Le Pen reacts to the terror attack in Paris
But Ms Le Pen was not the only one to issue stern pledges. Mr Fillon, who also talks tough on security, said the fight against “Islamist totalitarianism” should be the next president’s priority.
“It will require an unyielding determination and a cool head,” the former prime minister said. “We are at war, there is no alternative, it’s us or them.”
Mr Fillon, though knocked off his initial course towards victory by incessant allegations involving “fake job” payments to his British wife, promised to govern with “an iron fist”.
But the moderate Mr Macron, whom other candidates have portrayed as too inexperienced, took a different tack, warning against any attempts to use the shooting for political gain. “I think we must once and for all have a spirit of responsibility at this extreme time and not give in to panic and not allow it to be exploited, which some might try to do,” he told French radio.
Ms Le Pen’s solutions, he said, were woefully simplistic and “would not protect France”. And he added that to promise a “zero risk” scenario “is both irresponsible and deceitful”.
He also took a swipe at Mr Fillon, saying that intelligence had been depleted on his watch as the prime minister in Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency.
Meanwhile, Bernard Cazeneuve, the Socialist prime minister, accused Le Pen of “shamelessly seeking to exploit fear and emotion”.
Footage shows moments after suspected terrorist is shot in Paris
Opinion polls have for months forecast that Le Pen would make it through to the run-off, but then lose in the final vote. Given the margin of error, none of the leading four candidates is a sure bet to reach the final. All hope to woo the third of French voters still undecided.
Previous terror attacks ahead of elections – such as the November 2015 attacks in Paris before regional ballots – did not effect those ballots.
Analyst Who Predicted Trump’s Ascendancy Bets on Le Pen Win
by Sid Verma
April 21, 2017, 3:41 AM CDT April 21, 2017, 5:42 AM CDT
Undecided voters bad news for Macron, says GaveKal’s founder
Recommends overweight sterling, large-caps; bond shorts
How Will Markets React to Elections in France?
Don’t bank on a relief rally in the euro area anytime soon.
Markets are underpricing the prospect of Marine Le Pen emerging victorious in the French election as a sea of undecided voters throws into sharp relief pronounced apathy for center-leftist Emmanuel Macron — the front-runner by a whisker — and the backlash against the European Union project.
That’s the conclusion drawn by Charles Gave, founder of Hong-Kong based asset-allocation consultancy GaveKal Research, who predicted the triumph of Donald Trump in the U.S. election, and is now betting on a win for the anti-euro National Front candidate.
“Le Pen’s momentum is a slow-moving reaction against the men of Davos — as we have seen with Brexit and Trump — but markets don’t want to believe it,” he said by phone before the first round of the French poll on April 23.
Given the prospect of a Le Pen victory, Gave, who has been researching tactical asset allocation for more than 40 years, is advising clients to adopt long positioning in the pound as the U.K. would benefit from haven bids, and shorts on inflation-linked German bonds amid the risk of deflation in the euro area.
The French economist also recommends bets on the likely outperformance of publicly-listed European multinationals, given their outsize share of income in foreign currencies. In effect, for investors obliged to invest liquidity in euros, Gave says a basket of high-quality stocks is a safer bet than euro-denominated government bonds.
“The market is talking about the nightmare scenario but it’s not pricing it in” said Mark Tinker, head of AXA Framlington Asia. Tinker’s a GaveKal client, and admirer of Gave’s tail-risk warnings over the past year. “After Sunday, we will have more information to make a considered risk-return wager to trade and hedge, but high-quality European companies and German bonds look like an attractive bet,” Tinker said.
Markets are pining for a scenario that would preserve the status quo: Macron, an independent candidate, defeating Le Pen in the second round on May 7. Thursday saw something of a French relief rally, with strong demand at a government debt auction, while France’s benchmark CAC 40 Index rose 1.5 percent aspolls showed Macron pulling marginally ahead of Le Pen.
The euro held steady on Friday and French bonds gained after a police officer was shot in Paris, which may influence the outcome of the first-round vote, according to some analysts. The CAC 40 dropped for the first time in three days, declining 0.5 percent.
The stars, however, appear to be aligning for the National Front candidate, said Gave. The fact two candidates for the runoff are likely to be determined by voters who have yet to make up their minds — as many as 40 percent — is a bad omen for the centrist contender, he said.
At least half of the far-left and half of the center-right won’t vote for Macron in the second round if he is pitted against Le Pen, believing he is“tainted” by his association with Francois Hollande’s government, and would rather abstain, Gave said.
Supporters of Francois Fillon, a center-right candidate whose momentum has been curtailed by graft charges, and a sizable chunk of Macron’s followers would probably rally to Le Pen’s cause if she were to face leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the final round, according to Gave. He sees only Fillon with a chance to defeat Le Pen in the run-off.
If she emerges victorious, the euro would tank as markets would price in the prospect of its dissolution, rather than focus on Le Pen’s legislative hurdles to exit the single-currency bloc. French and Italian bonds will be “unquotable” given vanishing bids, and the European banking system would be beset by seismic turmoil, he said.
Le Pen waves at the audience after speaking at a rally in Paris on April 17. Christophe Petit Tesson / EPA
COGOLIN, France — Muslims preoccupy Jennifer Troin.
“I’m worried about my nieces having to wear the veil,” said the soft-spoken 29-year-old.
This fear has helped propel the young mother to the far-right of the political spectrum ahead of key presidential elections Sunday — and into the arms of the hard-line National Front party.
Troin sells children’s clothes at a store in Cogolin, a town of 11,000 a few miles from the jet-set resorts of the French Riviera. In 2014, Cogolin became one of a handful of communities nationwide to elect mayors from the National Front, which is also known by the acronym FN.
Jennifer Troin, 29, is a sales assistant in a children’s clothes store in Cogolin, France on April 13, 2017.Saphora Smith / for NBC News
Troin told NBC News that it wasn’t just the FN’s stance on Islam and immigration that attracted her, but also the party’s populist take on the economy.
But most of all, it was the party’s charismatic leader, Marine Le Pen, who captured Troin’s loyalty.
“She fights for women’s rights against Islam,” she said. “I vote because of Marine.”
Troin is part of a quiet army of female National Front supporters, who could well tip the balance of the election and give the presidency to the hard-right.
An FN victory would rewrite the continent’s political playbook, given the party’s pledge to take France out of the European Union. Were it to win, it would not have been an easy ride for a movement that peaked in 2002 when founder Jean Mari Le Pen — Marine Le Pen’s father — reached the second and final round of the presidential election.
French voters flocked to the polls in the runoff to ensure Le Pen did not win, instead electing former President Jacques Chirac with a resounding 78 percent of the vote. Most pollsters expect a similar outcome in May’s second-round vote, predicting moderate voters to rally once again to shut out the FN.
But few doubt that the party’s anti-immigrant and anti-establishment platform is resonating.
The Front’s anti-Islamic message is especially potent in France, whose 4.7 million Muslims make up around 7.5 percent of the population. Islamist militant attacks have killed more than 230 people over two years and plunged the country into a long-term state of emergency.
Marine Le Pen: Mass Immigration Is a Tragedy for France 1:00
This anxiety deepened on the eve of the election after a gunman ambushed three Parisian police officers on the Champs-Elysees late Thursday, killing one and wounding two others. ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting and French President Francois Hollande said it was likely a terrorist attack.
Meanwhile, the FN’s influence has spread from its heartlands along the Mediterranean coast and in the rust-belt north, into rural “forgotten” France.
‘Marine is different’
Polling institute Elabe recently predicted that 22 percent of women would vote for the National Front in the first round Sunday — almost 5 percent more than in 2012.
With just days to go, polls show the race is tightening. Centrist Emmanuel Macron is edging his way ahead on 24 percent and Le Pen is a fraction behind on 22.5 percent, according to Bloomberg polling.
Just below them, hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon has enjoyed a late surge and scandal-hit conservative Francois Fillon has hung in there despite a slew of allegations that he paid thousands of euros to his British-born wife for assistance she allegedly did not provide. A third of voters remain undecided.
The FN’s ability to motivate French women could be decisive. Traditionally, it has struggled to attract female voters amid accusations of sexism, racism and anti-Semitism.
In its early years under Jean-Marie Le Pen, the party advocated a traditional image of women, opposed abortion rights and developed a reputation for a macho, strongman culture.
This bias showed. The FN was far less successful at attracting women than men. During Jean-Marie Le Pen’ time in charge, around 12 percent of French women supported the party compared with 17 percent of men, according toSciences Po Cevipof, a political institute based in Paris.
Marine Le Pen changed this.
Since taking over in 2011, she has softened the party’s image, steering the FN away from some of its overtly anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric in an effort to broaden its electoral base. In 2015, she expelled her father after he repeated his view that the Holocaust was a “detail of history.”
In the run up to the this year’s election, Le Pen dropped her last name from campaign handouts, referring to herself simply as Marine.
More recently, she specifically targeted the female vote. She has published special pamphlets and a campaign video that describes her as a woman and a mother and shows her flicking through family photo albums. She has also changed the party’s logo from a flame to a blue rose.
For Troin, the children’s clothes seller in Cogolin, her interest in the National Front has grown with Marine Le Pen’s rise. While immigration, job security and her fear of Islam remained underlying motivators, she was also attracted to the party’s re-brand.
For her, the former leader “was too outspoken, too offensive. He was a Hitler-like figure,” Troin said. “But Marine is different.”
In the last presidential election in 2012 — the first with Marine Le Pen as leader — the party’s gender gap closed to 1.5 percentage points. It’s what Cevipof professor and FN expert Nonna Mayer called the “Marine Le Pen effect.”
The party has long advocated clamping down on immigration and securing borders, and throughout her campaign Le Pen has consistently made the country’s Muslims a target.
“In France we respect women, we don’t beat them, we don’t ask them to hide themselves behind a veil as if they were impure. We drink wine when we want, we can criticize religion and speak freely,” she said during a rally Monday night, comments clearly aimed at Muslims.
During the rally, Le Pen pledged to suspend all visas from non-European migrants hoping to join their families in France — often code for immigrants from mainly Muslim North Africa and the Middle East.
After Thursday night’s attack in Paris, she again singled out what she sees as the threat posed by Islam.
“It is a war in which there can be no retreat because all our population and all our territory are exposed,” she said.
And for all her rebranding, Marine Le Pen can also fall back into the older, harsher style of messaging.
Cathy, a 50-year-old dental assistant who was shopping for groceries in Cogolin, said she was all set to vote FN but was taken aback by Le Pen’s recent comments that the French were not to blame for the anti-Jewish policies of the government during the Nazi occupation in World War II.
Referring to the “Vel d’Hiv” roundup of Jews by French police in July 1942, in which nearly 13,000 were detained and deported to concentration camps, Le Pen told French radio earlier this month she thought France was “not responsible.”
Cathy, who didn’t want to be identified by her second name, said Le Pen’s remarks had made her pause.
“Perhaps she has the same ideas as her father but they’re just hidden behind good PR skills,” she said. “So I’m still thinking.”
Others needed no time to reflect.
“The FN is xenophobic, racist and anti-feminist,” said retired teacher Mireille Escarrat. “For me it feels like the 1930s. We’re going backwards.”
‘I don’t talk politics here’
Many of the National Front supporters interviewed by NBC News were reluctant to admit it, and others were concerned about being named.
“I don’t talk politics here,” a local woman said, having led the way into a backroom of her business in the town. The 60-year-old asked not to be named or for her business to be described because she felt that admitting her loyalty to the FN would damage her reputation.
“I wouldn’t mind if it weren’t for my business,” she added, out of earshot of her customers. “But this is somewhere everyone can come whether you vote communist or for the right.”
Even in this town — where 53 percent of the population voted FN in 2014 — voting Le Pen still carries a social stigma. There’s no telling just how many closet female FN voters there may be.
The party’s marriage of socialist economic policy and right-wing identity politics is working in the town, which sits in the FN’s traditional southern heartland. With the decline of traditional industries and unemployment at 18 percent, locals worry Cogolin is being reduced to a seasonal economy dependent on rich resort communities.
Newly-converted women at the FN’s regional headquarters in neighboring Sainte-Maxime said Sunday’s election would be the first time they voted for the Front in a presidential race.
“We didn’t vote for Jean-Marie Le Pen because he scared us,” said Monique Guckert, 67, a retired shop assistant. “His ideas were too fascist, too racist. It was too much.”
Even the FN mayor of Cogolin, Marc Etienne Lansade, admitted his mother would never have voted for Jean-Marie Le Pen.
“He drove her crazy,” he said. “Women understand Marine Le Pen, she’s divorced, she has three children, she works — she’s a modern woman,” he added, sitting in his second-floor office in the town hall.
Still, not all women appreciate Le Pen’s message. On Monday, a topless protester carrying flowers charged the candidate during a rally northern Paris.
Le Pen does not try to make out that she is a feminist. Of her 144 manifesto pledges, only one addresses women’s issues. In it, she promises to defend women’s rights by fighting against Islam, implementing a plan for equal pay and combating social and job insecurity.
“She’s a fake feminist,” said Camille Froidevaux-Metterie, a political scientist and expert on women in politics at the University of Reims.
Asked if a Le Pen win would be a victory for women, she said that though symbolically “it would not be nothing.” She said it would mean France is ready for a female president but would have elected one on a non-feminist agenda.
Centrist Emmanuel Macron’s lead in France’s presidential election has narrowed though he is still on course to win, two polls casting light on voter intentions following a televised debate between candidates showed.
Macron would win 25 percent of the April 23 first round vote while far right leader Marine Le Pen was seen getting 24 percent, according to a Harris Interactive poll for France Televisions published on Thursday.
Both of their scores were down a percentage point from the last time the poll was conducted on March 23, though they would still comfortably make it into the May 7 runoff.
There Macron was seen winning the presidency 62 percent to Le Pen’s 38 percent, a margin that was down from 65 percent to 35 percent two weeks ago.
The poll was partly taken after Tuesday’s four-hour debate, the second during the campaign, but the first to include all 11 candidates and which saw Le Pen put on the defensive from all sides.
With a second solid performance thanks to his sharp wit, hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon marked further poll gains, nearly catching up with erstwhile favorite Francois Fillon, a conservative former prime minister.
Melenchon’s score climbed to 17 percent in the first round from 13.5 percent two weeks ago while Fillon, whose campaign has struggled as he faced nepotism allegations, saw his score hold steady at 18 percent.
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.Reuters
The results in the Harris poll closely mirrored those in an Elabe poll for BFM TV published late on Wednesday and conducted in full after the debate.
That showed Macron’s first round vote at 23.5 percent, his lowest score in a month and down from 25.5 percent the last time the poll was conducted on March 28-29. Le Pen was also seen at 23.5 percent, down from 24 percent.
Elabe forecast Macron to win the runoff with 62 percent to 38 percent for Le Pen.
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The Trump Effect
JANUARY 2017BY: JOHN HILTON
The Trump Effect
Feeling relieved? You’re not alone in the financial services industry as 2017 dawns with pro-business Republicans controlling Congress and the White House.
That doesn’t mean agents and advisors can relax and ignore what is going on in Washington. President-elect Donald Trump and lawmakers have an agenda that will affect the insurance world in many ways.
How? Let’s look at what is at stake:
Taxes: House Speaker Paul Ryan is determined to push tax reform and he may have his best opportunity. The result would be a significant tax reduction for investors. But can he and Trump come to an agreement?
Fiduciary Rule: Trump has not commented on the Department of Labor rule specifically, but his surrogates have said he is opposed. The path to killing the rule is a little more complicated, but a delay is likely.
Regulation: Other significant regulations promoted by the Obama administration — from the Dodd-Frank Act to DOL overtime rules — are certain to be gutted or killed. In 2012, Trump wrote that “government regulations cost us annually $1.75 trillion. They constitute a stealth tax that is larger than the amount the IRS collects every year.”
ACA: The president-elect said repeatedly on the campaign trail that he would eliminate Obama’s signature health care program. But the practical implications of doing so are not insignificant. What can Republicans realistically accomplish?
Editor’s note: After assessing the issues and variables affecting them, the InsuranceNewsNet editorial team came up with odds that successful reform will result.
THE TIME FOR TAX REFORM?
This is Ryan’s hope, the one issue he has longed to see to completion. With a like-party president and a Senate majority, tax reform should be a slam dunk. Yet, it isn’t.
Comprehensive tax reform is “still a tough, tough nut,” said Michael Lewan, longtime Democratic strategist. “Think about it: We haven’t had significant tax reform since the early days of the Bush administration. Speaker Ryan and Donald Trump are going to have to fashion a coalition of Democrats to get any type of meaningful tax reform done.”
Then there is the personality clash between Trump and Ryan, who refused for months to explicitly endorse the president-elect. Will those hard feelings be left in the past once the curtain comes down on inauguration festivities?
For sure, there is ample promise for harmony between the Speaker and the White House since the two leaders share similar tax-cut plans.
Both would slash the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 33 percent. Both would reduce taxes on corporations, in largely similar ways.
Ryan’s entire tax philosophy represents a move away from simply slashing the top income tax rate. Instead, the GOP is focusing on targeted tax cuts and exclusions to benefit high earners with investment income.
The Ryan plan drastically slashes taxes on both corporate income and income from capital gains, dividends and interest. Likewise, it cuts the corporate income tax to 20 percent, and allows taxpayers to exclude 50 percent of their net capital gains, dividends and interest income.
Some of those changes will make many in the insurance industry happy, but they might also be disappointed by the Ryan/Trump treatment of the estate tax. Trump supports full repeal and Ryan voted for the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015.
The estate tax has an 80 percent probability of being repealed by Trump and the Republican Congress, said Ken Kies, managing director of The Federal Policy Group, a Beltway lobbying firm.
“Our best opportunity to stop this is to convince the Republican leadership that having Trump sign on to an estate tax repeal — something that would benefit his family — would be a disaster from a public relations standpoint,” he said.
Kies predicted that Trump’s top priority would be what he called “one big budget deal” that would encompass repeal of the Affordable Care Act, an infrastructure program and tax reform. “And we think that will be done by the August recess,” he said.
The incoming treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, promised 3 to 4 percent growth. The Trump plan to encourage repatriation of the estimated $1 trillion that large U.S. corporations hold in foreign subsidiaries will help offset the loss of revenue, Mnuchin said.
Trump has proposed a special 10 percent rate on overseas funds the companies shift back to the U.S.
Odds of a Tax reform bill: 60%
IS THE FIDUCIARY RULE TOAST?
Trump did not mention the DOL fiduciary rule during the campaign, but Anthony Scaramucci, his top Wall Street advisor, assured the industry that the president-elect will work to defeat it. This is one issue where Trump and Ryan will find agreement.
The Speaker is the top lawmaker to speak out against the DOL rule, which was published in April 2016 and is scheduled to begin taking effect on April 10.
Since the rule is already on the books, however, getting rid of it will not be easy. The simplest thing Trump can do is delay the rule while the administration develops a long-term strategy for it.
“What are Trump’s priorities going to be?” said Scott Kallenbach, research director for LIMRA’s strategic research. “He’s got a lot up in the air right now. You’re seeing stories that he’s going to focus on Dodd-Frank and Obamacare, tax reform, immigration reform, the Iranian nuclear deal. So I think it’s a matter of where does the DOL fit in this list?”
Permanent repeal of the rule, which holds anyone working with retirement funds to a “best interest” standard, can happen three ways:
» Lawsuits. As of early December, opponents were 0-2 via the lawsuit route, with federal judges in the District of Columbia and Kansas rejecting plaintiffs’ requests for a preliminary injunction.
That is not as bad as it sounds. After all, opponents need only to win one case out of the four to cripple the rule, whereas the government needs to win every case.
A third lawsuit filed in Northern District of Texas court appears to be the strongest opposition case. The district, as well as its appeals circuit court, is known for being tough on government agencies. Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn heard the case Nov. 17 in Dallas. A group of plaintiffs are led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
» Legislation. The House Financial Services Committee has legislation ready to go, gutting both the fiduciary rule and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.
The Financial CHOICE Act would block the DOL from implementing its fiduciary rule by incorporating it into the Retail Investor Protection Act, which passed the House last year.
Introduced by Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., the RIPA requires the Securities and Exchange Commission to move first on fiduciary rulemaking before the DOL can act.
The bill eliminates several Dodd-Frank provisions, including federal “bailouts” and the Volcker Rule, which restricts trading activities at banks.
Under CHOICE — which stands for Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs — the Financial Stability Oversight Council would no longer be able to designate risky non-banks and others as “systemically important financial institutions.”
The FSOC was created by Dodd-Frank to review the systemic risk to the capital markets presented by large, global financial institutions. MetLife has fought the designation, which was considered one of the reasons the company shed its advisor unit.
The FSOC’s authority to break up a large financial institution if the Federal Reserve finds that the firm “poses a grave threat to the financial stability of the United States” would also disappear if the bill is passed.
The bill would also require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to be subject to bipartisan oversight and congressional appropriations.
The legislation route will be messy, particularly if Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., opt to filibuster and rally public opinion against the measure. Republicans may not want to spend valuable political capital on such an effort. And that leaves:
» Regulation. Perhaps the most effective route to terminate the fiduciary rule would be for Trump’s new labor secretary to suspend the rule while the agency crafts a new one.
That would mean following the exhaustive process of public notice, supporting studies, public hearings and publication. But it would get rid of the rule without having to rely on getting a set number of votes.
The incoming secretary of labor could direct the agency not to spend any resources to enforce the fiduciary rule. However, that would have no impact on the most severe aspect of the rule: the litigation exposure. Now that the rule is published, if it takes effect on April 10, advisors will be vulnerable to private lawsuits.
Odds of fiduciary rule reform or removal: 75%
INDUSTRY IN FLUX
Trump and the Republicans may have dominated on Election Day, and the DOL rule may well be doomed.
But Main Street advisors such as Taylor Sledge say they need to keep planning for a fiduciary world.
For Sledge, founder of Sledge & Co. in Madison, Miss., that means getting additional licenses and spending more time on compliance issues. The 29-year-old Sledge offers a full array of financial planning services and said his small firm needs to be prepared for whatever regulations come from Washington.
“We take what we are dealing with and we try to use it as positively as possible, but it is not something that I am choosing to view as a hurdle,” he said. “It is a challenge that I will choose to view as an opportunity.”
Even if the DOL rule eventually disappears, the Securities and Exchange Commission is working on its version of a fiduciary standard as well. While the SEC is mired in political squabbling and has two vacant seats, many in the industry feel the agency should take the lead in developing a fiduciary rule.
SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White has said its fiduciary version is not close to completion. White announced she will resign and forgo the final two years of her term. That means Trump can fill three vacancies and short-circuit any regulation the SEC has in the works.
Still, uncertainty remains, said Howard Schneider, founder and president of the consulting firm Practical Perspectives, Boxford, Mass.
“As we’ve seen with so many things, there’s a lack of clarity with what that policy is going to be as there’s been no stand taken on the DOL fiduciary rule issues yet,” he said weeks after the election.
“Advisors proceed with plans to implement the rule and what changes that means to their home offices and advisor offices, but at the same time the rule might never be implemented, or implemented in a very different way than people anticipated.”
Eszylfie Taylor, president of Taylor Insurance and Financial Services, Pasadena, Calif., has a foot in both worlds as a commission- and fee-based financial advisor.
The DOL rule might be more impactful, but is not much different from many other regulations that constantly change. The advisor world is best focused on making the best of whatever happens, he said.
“Everyone will need insurance, everyone needs estate planning, everyone needs advice,” Taylor said. “No matter what the DOL says, everyone has to plan for retirement. So at the end of the day there’s always a need for the work that we do and there will always be a way to work within the rule to help our clients.”
Should the rule be abolished, “the annuities and commission-based products agents will be pretty ecstatic, I would think,” he said.
But it’s hard to predict anything in the financial services world, he added. Those who predicted a market crash upon Trump’s election were stunned when the opposite happened, Taylor noted.
WILL THE OVERTIME RULE BE FIRED?
Employers gained a bit of clarity in late November when a Texas judge granted a preliminary injunction freezing the Department of Labor overtime rule.
Judge Amos Mazzant of the Eastern District of Texas granted a preliminary injunction to 21 state plaintiffs, led by Nevada. The rule affects an estimated 4.2 million workers who were to be newly eligible for time-and-a-half wages for each hour they worked beyond 40 each week.
The rule would roughly double the $23,660 threshold at which executive, administrative and professional employees are exempt from overtime. The DOL estimates the new rule would affect more than 4 million workers, and 19 percent of all insurance industry workers.
Mazzant ruled that the plaintiffs proved both the likelihood of winning a court case, and irreparable financial harm — two key standards often difficult to achieve to gain an injunction.
The Labor Department could seek an expedited appeal to get the law free of the courts during President Barack Obama’s final weeks. Or the agency could drop the appeal after Republican President-elect Donald Trump takes office Jan. 20.
The DOL has strong grounds for an appeal, said lawyer Erin M. Sweeney of Miller & Chevalier in Washington, D.C., but it might not matter.
“Even with an expedited appeal, it will be the Trump administration that will have the final word,” she added via email.
In August, Trump cited the overtime rule as an example of the type of burdensome business regulations he would seek to roll back as president.
Employment lawyer Don Phin said the insurance industry isn’t the focus of the law. But that doesn’t mean the industry wouldn’t be affected in a significant way. Agencies would need to know the new rules on who is considered exempt because they are considered “administrative,” for example.
Reached after the decision, Phin said it wasn’t “totally surprising” given the opposition and the court venue. He also agreed the overtime rule looks to be dead.
“At the minimum they know they can drag things out to next term and give the Trump administration an opportunity to change the regs,” he said.
Odds of an Overtime Rule Appeal: 90%
PULLING THE PLUG ON THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT?
The centerpiece of the campaign, and the issue that analysts agree drove much of voter anger, was the Affordable Care Act. Trump vowed to repeal the legislation, and that puts him in complete agreement with GOP leadership in Congress.
As of early December, GOP leaders were touting a plan to repeal the ACA without a replacement. That could give Trump an easy campaign promise to fulfill as early as his first day in office.
But what would the eventual replacement legislation look like?
The president-elect named House Republican Rep. Tom Price of Georgia as his secretary of Health and Human Services. Price helped craft a House GOP plan on health care that was unveiled over the summer, relying on individual tax credits to allow people to buy coverage from private insurers.
The proposal fell far short of a full-scale replacement, leaving key questions unanswered including the size of the tax credits, the overall price tag of the plan, and how many people would be covered.
Since the election, Trump has endorsed keeping certain popular parts of Obamacare, including a provision barring insurers from excluding people with pre-existing conditions from coverage, and another allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health plans. Ryan endorsed keeping those parts of the law.
But Democrats insist there’s no way to keep the popular parts of the law without the elements people don’t like, including requirements for individuals to carry coverage or face tax penalties.
Insurers have said they can only extend coverage to people with pre-existing conditions by having large groups of customers, including healthy people who don’t cost as much to insure. Carriers would likely raise rates on the riskiest customers, assuming they would be allowed to adjust rates.
Losing the requirement that individuals buy health insurance and a potential loss of subsidies could throw the market into turmoil, according to Marcy Buckner, National Association of Health Underwriters vice president of government affairs.
NAHU is working with Trump’s transition team and favors an approach that would keep consumer costs down while ensuring the marketplace is stable.
“The worst outcome in this would be that subsidies would be repealed,” Buckner said. “This would lead to everybody but the sickest Americans leaving the marketplace and put the marketplace into a death spiral.”
Any changes to the ACA will be modest and will be implemented over a period of time, said Susan Combs, founder and head of Combs & Co., an insurance brokerage firm based in New York City.
“Remember that the GOP needs a supermajority and all 52 GOP and 8 Dems would have to vote on it, and I don’t think they can get it,” she said.
As far as agents are concerned, “we were needed before the ACA, during the transition to the ACA and, yes, we’ll be needed during any changes that will come to the ACA,” Combs added.
The different provisions of the ACA have many tentacles, which makes repealing or changing them a challenge, said Ronnell Nolan, president and CEO of Health Agents for America.
Any changes made to the ACA need to address consumer affordability, Nolan said.
“Until affordability is addressed, consumers can’t afford the coverage and we have nothing to sell them,” she said.
Agent commissions also must be addressed as part of health care reform, Nolan said.
“Commissions could be mandated as they are with Medicare Advantage. Or we could have some kind of a fair compensation act. The biggest issue is going back to affordability — insurance companies saying if they’re not making a profit, they aren’t paying a commission.”
Health care reform needs to start with bringing the right people to the table, Nolan said.
“In passing the original ACA, they didn’t bring the doctors or the insurance companies or the agents to the table,” she said. “I think they will do that differently this time.”
A change to the unlimited maximum benefits is one under-the-radar ACA reform that can give insurance companies relief, said Ryan Siemers, principal with Aegis Risk, a health care consulting firm in Alexandria, Va.
The ACA prohibits setting lifetime limits on benefits in any health plan or insurance policy.
Before the ACA, individual medical expenses would hit the $1 million benefit cap that the employer had in the plan and the claimant would go to Medicaid or become a ward of the state, Siemers explained.
Hospitals and pharmaceutical companies have benefited from the removal of caps, he added, making it difficult to amend that aspect of the ACA.
“There are some deep-pocketed interests in the health care world that would work to stop any move to alter unlimited lifetime benefits,” Siemers said.
From 1992 to 1997, Mulvaney practiced law with the firm James, McElroy & Diehl. Mulvaney joined his family’s homebuilding and real estate business. He participated in the Owners and Presidents Management Program at Harvard Business School. He was a minority shareholder and owner-operator in Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina, a privately held regional restaurant chain.
In 2008 an unexpected retirement created a vacancy in the South Carolina Senate and he campaigned for and won that office in what was widely regarded to be the hardest fought legislative race in South Carolina that year.
While in the State Senate, Mulvaney served on the Judiciary, Labor/Commerce/Industry, Medical Affairs, Agriculture/Natural Resources, and Corrections Committees. The Palmetto Family Council identified him as the Freshman Legislator of the Year in 2006 for his work on the South Carolina ultrasound bill.
In 2010 he was named Legislator of the Year for his work in support of the State’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS). He has received one of the few A+ ratings in the entire legislature from the South Carolina Club for Growth.
Mulvaney, a GOP Young Gun, ran against Democratic incumbent John Spratt for South Carolina’s 5th congressional district. The race was highlighted by Mitt Romney‘s Free and Strong America PAC’s “Take Congress Back: 10 in ’10” initiative as one of the top 10 House challenger races. Mulvaney’s involvement in the now defunct Edenmoor real estate development in Lancaster County, South Carolina became a campaign issue, with Mulvaney’s opponents alleging that he misled the Lancaster County council and taxpayers to provide $30 million in public funding for the real estate development and that once the public funds had been approved, Mulvaney sold his interest in the development to a third party at a $7 million profit. Mulvaney denied the allegations and said that the project’s failure was due to Democratic economic policies. He defeated Spratt, who had held the seat since 1983, with 55% of the vote.
According to the New York Times, Mulvaney took “a hard line on spending during President Obama’s term, vowing not to raise the nation’s debt limit and embracing the term ‘Shutdown Caucus’ because of his willingness to shut the government down instead.” In 2015, Mulvaney voted against a government-funding resolution, which would have prevented a government shutdown, in part because it included funding for Planned Parenthood. Explaining his vote, Mulvaney said, “This is not about women’s health. It’s about trafficking in pieces of dead children.”
Mulvaney supported the Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015, which would have “[created] a commission tasked with eliminating and revising outdated and redundant federal regulations.” According to Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS, legislation of this kind can be “a smokescreen used to block policy measures protecting public health and the environment.”
Fiscal year 2014 budget
On December 10, 2013, Republican Representative Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray announced that they had negotiated the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, a proposed two-year budget deal.The budget deal would cap the federal government’s spending for Fiscal Year 2014 at $1.012 trillion and for Fiscal Year 2015 at $1.014.
The proposed deal would eliminate some of the spending cuts required by the sequester by $45 billion of the cuts scheduled to happen in January and $18 billion of the cuts scheduled to happen in 2015. This does not decrease federal spending; instead, by reducing the amount of spending cuts the government was going to be forced to make by the sequester, it actually increases government spending by $45 billion and $18 billion over what would have been spent had the sequester remained in place. Some Republicans wanted Speaker Boehner to pursue a temporary measure that would cover the rest of Fiscal Year 2014 at the level set by the sequester – $967 billion, rather than pass this budget deal, which would have $45 billion in additional spending.
The deal is supposed to make up for this increase in spending by raising airline fees and changing the pension contribution requirements of new federal workers. According to The Hill, Mulvaney is “spearheading opposition to the new budget bill”. He did not blame Ryan for the budget deal, instead saying that the problem was too few conservatives had been elected to Congress to pass a budget with a greater focus on debt reduction. Mulvaney said that he expected the budget deal to pass because “it was designed to get the support of defense hawks and appropriators and Democrats”, not conservatives.
On April 9, 2014, Mulvaney offered a proposal based on the Obama proposal as a substitute amendment in order to force a vote on the President’s budget request. The President’s proposal failed in a vote of 2–413, although Democrats were urged by their leadership to vote against this “political stunt.”
Mulvaney speaking at a campaign event for Senator Rand Paul in Spartanburg, South Carolina in September 2015.
In his statement to the Senate Budget Committee, Mulvaney admitted that he had failed to pay $15,000 in payroll taxes from 2000-04 for a nanny he had hired to care for his triplets. Mulvaney said he did not pay the taxes because he viewed the woman as a babysitter rather than as a household employee. After filling out a questionnaire from the Trump transition team, he realized the lapse and began the process of paying back taxes and fees. Senate Democrats noted that Republicans had previously insisted that past Democratic nominees’ failure to pay taxes for their household employees was disqualifying, including former Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle in 2009.
On February 16, 2017, the Senate confirmed Mulvaney, 51–49. Every Democratic Senator as well as John McCain voted against his nomination. McCain cited Mulvaney’s prior votes to cut the military budget as the reason for his vote 
In March 2017, Mulvaney stated that he believed that “the Obama administration was manipulating the numbers, in terms of the number of people in the workforce, to make the unemployment rate — that percentage rate — look smaller than it actually was,” and that “[w]hat you should really look at is the number of jobs created.” Some outlets have reported that there is no evidence that jobs numbers under the Obama administration were manipulated.FiveThirtyEight‘s Ben Casselman noted that “manipulating the jobs figures… would mean not just messing with one number but rather interfering with an entire ecosystem of statistics.”
In March 2017, Mulvaney stated that the Congressional Budget Office was not capable of assessing the American Health Care Act (the GOP’s replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act), stating that “[i]f the CBO was right about Obamacare to begin with, there’d be 8 million more people on Obamacare today than there actually are.” Others have disagreed with Mulvaney’s statement, including FactCheck.Org, which stated that “[t]he CBO actually nailed the overall impact of the law on the uninsured pretty closely.”
Whilst promoting the Trump administration’s budget proposal in March 2017, Mulvaney stated that, as to taxpayers, the government was “not gonna ask you for your hard-earned money, anymore… unless we can guarantee to you that that money is actually being used in a proper function.” For instance, Mulvaney justified cuts to block grants that go towards spending on Meals on Wheels because it was “just not showing any results.” Others disagree with Mulvaney’s statement, citing research that has “found home-delivered meal programs to significantly improve diet quality, increase nutrient intakes, and reduce food insecurity and nutritional risk among participants. Other beneficial outcomes include increased socialization opportunities, improvement in dietary adherence, and higher quality of life.”
Russia ‘moves troops, helicopters and armoured vehicles’ to its border with North Korea
‘New weapons’ displayed during military parade in North Korea to celebrate Kim Il SungA symphony orchestra played as one of Kim’s missiles hurtled into the US and revealed a smouldering Stars and Stripes flag.
Military figures watched on gleefully as uniformed troops from the Korean State Merited Chorus belted out a series of tuneless numbers.
And in a verse unlikely to make its way onto Broadway any time soon, one warbled: “Our proud Hwasong rocket blasts off” and “it flies as quickly as a flash of lightning to challenge imperialism”.
Others played trumpets as the 90s-style film saw a ballistic missile roar into America.
Accompanying it are the words: “If US imperialists move an inch toward us, we will immediately hit them with nukes.”
The bizarre video was played at the 105th birthday celebration of Kim’s late grandfather Kim Il-Sung at the weekend.
His regime had earlier that day put on a huge military procession to show off the country’s ballistic missile arsenal.
North Korea propaganda video shows US aircraft carrier being blown up
Story 2: Obama’s Iran Nuclear Agreement Legacy Heading Towards The Wastebasket? No. Certification Granted and Sanctions Suspended — All Talk–No Action — Bad Appeasement Deal Stands — Videos —
The Iran Nuclear Deal
How the Iran nuclear deal works, explained in 3 minutes
Iran and the Bomb
Published on May 12, 2014
Many countries have nuclear weapons, and many more want them. Only one, though, has its neighbors and the world terrified. That country is Iran. Why is everyone so concerned? Because the Islamic theocracy has repeatedly threatened to destroy Israel, sponsors global terrorism, and would leverage the deterrence effect of a nuclear weapon to advance their anti-Western and anti-American interests. Bret Stephens, foreign affairs columnist for the Wall Street Journal explains the one thing you really need to know in order to understand why we can’t let Iran get the bomb–they may actually use it.
The Iran Nuclear Deal Explained
The Iran Nuclear Deal Explained
Donald Trump on Iran Nuclear Agreement (C-SPAN)
Trump on Iran: ‘They will know I am not playing games’
Donald Trump on nuke deal: They are laughing at us in Iran
Sec. Rex Tillerson Warns ‘Unchecked’ Iran Could Follow Path Of North Korea | NBC Nightly News
Trump administration certifies Iran compliant with nuclear deal – donald trump news
Tillerson announces NSC will review the Iran nuclear deal
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Iran could be the next North Korea
Tillerson Threatens Iran: ‘The Great Destabilizer’?
Trump Shies Away From Striking Down Obama Era Iran Deal: Why It Doesn’t Matter
What’s In The Iran Nuclear Deal?
Implementation of the JCPOA: Is It Working?
Tillerson Toughens Tone on Iran After U.S. Confirms Nuclear Deal Compliance
By GARDINER HARRIS APRIL 19, 2017
President Trump at the White House on Wednesday. During the 2016 campaign, he denounced the nuclear agreement with Iran as “the worst deal ever.”CreditAl Drago/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson described a landmark Iran nuclear deal as a failure on Wednesday, only hours after the State Department said Tehran was complying with its terms. But the top United States diplomat stopped short of threatening to jettison the 2015 agreement that was brokered by world powers, or saying whether the Trump administration would punish Iran with new sanctions.
The whiplash left Republicans on Capitol Hill, who had universally excoriated the agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program and voted against its implementation, uncertain of how to respond. Its architects, however, said they were cautiously optimistic that the deal would stay in place.
The nuclear deal “fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran,” Mr. Tillerson said. “It only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state.”
He said that Iran continued to threaten the United States and the rest of the world, and he announced that the Trump administration was reviewing ways to counter challenges posed by Tehran.
It was an attempt to clarify a State Department certification, issued shortly before a midnight deadline on Tuesday, that said Iran was complying with the nuclear agreement that also eased crippling international sanctions against the Islamic republic’s economy. During the 2016 campaign, President Trump denounced the agreement as “the worst deal ever,” and Vice President Pence promised to rip it up.
In a hastily called news conference at the State Department on Wednesday, Mr. Tillerson likened Iran to North Korea, whose nuclear weaponry and burgeoning missile technology is what the administration now believes is the gravest risk to world peace and security. Mr. Pence visited Seoul, South Korea, this week to declare that the United States was united with its allies to stem North Korea’s threat.
The Iran deal “represents the same failed approach to the past that brought us to the current imminent threat that we face from North Korea,” Mr. Tillerson told reporters. “The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran. The evidence is clear: Iran’s provocative actions threaten the United States, the region and the world.”
Once the National Security Council completes a review of the nuclear deal, Mr. Tillerson said, “we will meet the challenges Iran poses with clarity and conviction.”
Hours earlier, late on Tuesday night, Mr. Tillerson sent a terse letter to Speaker Paul D. Ryan pledging to evaluate whether earlier suspension of sanctions against Iran, as required under the terms of the nuclear agreement, “is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”
A man of few words, Mr. Tillerson has sometimes found that his cryptic remarks create more confusion than clarity among allies, friends and even adversaries. Earlier on Wednesday, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, offered little additional information about the Iran certification. He refused to say whether the Trump administration would add the Iran deal to a series of other stunning foreign policy reversals it has made by deciding to retain it instead of ripping it up or renegotiating the agreement as promised.
“I think part of the review, the interagency process, is to determine where Iran is in compliance with the deal and to make recommendations to the president on the path forward,” Mr. Spicer said.
The enigmatic remarks left top Republicans on Capitol Hill nonplused. Senator Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican who led congressional opposition to the Iran deal, said in a statement that the administration’s “certification is shaky, and it doesn’t mean that the intentions behind Iran’s nuclear program are benign.”
Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the Trump administration appeared to be preparing a tougher line against Iran.
“Secretary Tillerson made clear that regardless of Iran’s technical compliance with the nuclear deal, the administration is under no illusion about the continued threat from Tehran and is prepared to work closely with Congress to push back,” Mr. Corker said in a statement on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s certification extends sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for continued constraints on its nuclear program. American sanctions, as approved by Congress, were suspended instead of revoked; they can be reimposed with the stroke of a presidential pen.
The Trump administration has given itself 90 days to complete its review, but it will need to make a series of decisions in coming weeks about whether to continue its support of the deal, which was also brokered with Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. Those governments, along with representatives of the United States and Iran, will meet next week in Vienna to review the pact’s progress.
Mr. Trump faces a mid-May deadline, as imposed by Congress, to decide whether to continue the suspension of sanctions.
Backing away from the agreement would spur enormous consternation across Europe and in Moscow.
In their first congratulatory phone calls to Mr. Trump after his electoral victory, both President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany emphasized the need to keep the Iran deal in place. And after her first meeting with Mr. Tillerson in February, Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign minister, said the Trump administration pledged “to stick to the full strict implementation of the agreement in all its parts.”
Analysts and former government officials said it was unlikely the Trump administration would renounce the Iran agreement.
“I’m glad this deal has held up to this point, and I hope it continues to hold up,” said Wendy Sherman, a former under secretary of state who was deeply involved in negotiating terms of the deal during the Obama administration.
Robert Einhorn, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who was involved in Iran policy under President Barack Obama, said it was “pretty much a foregone conclusion” that Mr. Trump would keep the nuclear agreement in place.
Still, the administration has sought since its first days in office to ratchet up pressure on Iran. In January, before he resigned, Michael T. Flynn, then the national security adviser, walked into the White House briefing room and declared that the administration was “officially putting Iran on notice” after it launched a ballistic missile.
The Trump administration has returned the United States to closer ties with its traditional Arab friends in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Part of those ties means supporting those nations, which are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, in their intense rivalry with Iran, a Shiite power.
By contrast, by the end of his second term, Mr. Obama had begun to view those sectarian tensions with a jaundiced eye, believing the United States should not intervene in a millennium-old religious struggle.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Tillerson attended a United States-Saudi Arabia chief executive summit meeting where he declared that he was “pleased to be here today to reaffirm the very strong partnership that exists between the United States and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a group that sought to defeat the Iran deal, said the administration may still walk away from the agreement or renegotiate it. He contended that the administration “should not be bound by arms control agreements that are deeply flawed.”
And even Ms. Sherman shied away from predicting it will remain in place. “I’m taking this one day at a time,” she said.
Formal negotiations toward the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program began with the adoption of the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in November 2013. For the next twenty months, Iran and the P5+1 countries engaged in negotiations, and in April 2015 agreed on an Iran nuclear deal framework for the final agreement and in July 2015, Iran and the P5+1 agreed on the plan.
Under the agreement, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years. For the next 15 years, Iran will only enrich uranium up to 3.67%. Iran also agreed not to build any new heavy-water facilities for the same period of time. Uranium-enrichment activities will be limited to a single facility using first-generation centrifuges for 10 years. Other facilities will be converted to avoid proliferation risks. To monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities. The agreement provides that in return for verifiably abiding by its commitments, Iran will receive relief from U.S., European Union, and United Nations Security Council nuclear-related economic sanctions.
In 1979, the Iranian Revolution took place, and Iran’s nuclear program, which had developed some baseline capacity, fell to disarray as “much of Iran’s nuclear talent fled the country in the wake of the Revolution.” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was initially opposed to nuclear technology; and Iran engaged in a costly war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988.
Starting in the later 1980s, Iran restarted its nuclear program, with assistance from Pakistan (which entered into a bilateral agreement with Iran in 1992), China (which did the same in 1990), and Russia (which did the same in 1992 and 1995), and from the A.Q. Khan network. Iran “began pursuing an indigenous nuclear fuel cycle capability by developing a uranium mining infrastructure and experimenting with uranium conversion and enrichment.” According to the nonpartisan Nuclear Threat Initiative, “U.S. intelligence agencies have long suspected Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover for clandestine weapons development.” Iran, in contrast, “has always insisted that its nuclear work is peaceful”.
In August 2002, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, an Iranian dissident group, publicly revealed the existence of two undeclared nuclear facilities, the Arak heavy-water production facility and the Natanz enrichment facility. In February 2003, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami acknowledged the existence of the facilities and asserted that Iran had undertaken “small-scale enrichment experiments” to produce low-enriched uranium for nuclear power plants. In late February, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors visited Natanz. In May 2003, Iran allowed IAEA inspectors to visit the Kalaye Electric Company, but refused to allow them to take samples, and an IAEA report the following month concluded that Iran had failed to meet its obligations under the previous agreement.
In June 2003, Iran—faced with the prospect of being referred to the UN Security Council—entered into diplomatic negotiations with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (the EU 3). The United States refused to be involved in these negotiations. In October 2003, the Tehran Declaration was reached between Iran and the EU 3; under this declaration Iran agreed to cooperate fully with the IAEA, sign the Additional Protocol, and temporarily suspend all uranium enrichment. In September and October 2003, the IAEA conducted several facility inspections. This was followed by the Paris Agreement in November 2004, in which Iran agreed to temporarily suspend enrichment and conversion activities, “including the manufacture, installation, testing, and operation of centrifuges, and committed to working with the EU-3 to find a mutually beneficial long-term diplomatic solution”.
In August 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hard-liner, was elected president of Iran. He accused Iranian negotiators who had negotiated the Paris Accords of treason. Over the next two months, the EU 3 agreement fell apart as talks over the EU 3’s proposed Long Term Agreement broke down; the Iranian government “felt that the proposal was heavy on demands, light on incentives, did not incorporate Iran’s proposals, and violated the Paris Agreement”. Iran notified the IAEA that it would resume uranium conversion at Esfahan.
In February 2006, Iran ended its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol and resumed enrichment at Natanz, prompting the IAEA Board of Governors to refer Iran to the UN Security Council. After the vote, Iran announced it would resume enrichment of uranium. In April 2006, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had nuclear technology, but stated that it was purely for power generation and not for producing weapons. In June 2006, the EU 3 joined China, Russia, and the United States, to form the P5+1. The following month, July 2006, the UN Security Council passed its first resolution demanding Iran stop uranium enrichment and processing.Altogether, from 2006 to 2010, the UN Security Council subsequently adopted six resolutions concerning Iran’s nuclear program: 1696 (July 2006), 1737 (December 2006), 1747 (March 2007), 1803 (March 2008), 1835 (September 2008), and 1929 (June 2010). The legal authority for the IAEA Board of Governors referral and the Security Council resolutions was derived from the IAEA Statute and the United Nations Charter. The resolutions demanded that Iran cease enrichment activities and imposed sanctions on Iran, including bans on the transfer of nuclear and missile technology to the country and freezes on the assets of certain Iranian individuals and entities, in order to pressure the country. However, in Resolution 1803 and elsewhere the Security Council also acknowledged Iran’s rights under Article IV of the NPT, which provides for “the inalienable right … to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes”.[b]
In July 2006, Iran opened the Arak heavy water production plant, which led to one of the Security Council resolutions. In September 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama, revealed the existence of an underground enrichment facility in Fordow, near Qom saying, “Iran’s decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA represents a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime.” Israel threatened to take military action against Iran.
In a February 2007 interview with the Financial Times, IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei said that military action against Iran “would be catastrophic, counterproductive” and called for negotiations between the international community and Iran over the Iranian nuclear program. ElBaradei specifically proposed a “double, simultaneous suspension, a time out” as “a confidence-building measure”, under which the international sanctions would be suspended and Iran would suspend enrichment. ElBaradei also said, “if I look at it from a weapons perspective there are much more important issues to me than the suspension of [enrichment],” naming his top priorities as preventing Iran from “go[ing] to industrial capacity until the issues are settled”; building confidence, with “full inspection” involving Iranian adoption of the Additional Protocol; and “at all costs” preventing Iran from “moving out of the [treaty-based non-proliferation] system”.
A November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate assessed that Iran “halted its nuclear weapons program” in 2003; that estimate and subsequent U.S. Intelligence Community statements also assessed that the Iranian government at the time had was “keeping open the ‘option’ to develop nuclear weapons” in the future. A July 2015 Congressional Research Service report said, “statements from the U.S. intelligence community indicate that Iran has the technological and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons at some point, but the U.S. government assesses that Tehran has not mastered all of the necessary technologies for building a nuclear weapon.”
In March 2013, the United States began a series of secret bilateral talks with Iranian officials in Oman, led by William Joseph Burns and Jake Sullivan on the American side and Ali Asghar Khaji on the Iranian side. In June 2013, Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran. Rouhani has been described as “more moderate, pragmatic and willing to negotiate than Ahmadinejad”. However, in a 2006 nuclear negotiation with European powers, Rouhani said that Iran had used the negotiations to dupe the Europeans, saying that during the negotiations, Iran managed to master the conversion of uranium yellowcake at Isfahan. The conversion of yellowcake is an important step in the nuclear fuel process. In August 2013, three days after his inauguration, Rouhani called for a resumption of serious negotiations with the P5+1 on the Iranian nuclear program. In September 2013, Obama and Rouhani had a telephone conversation, the first high-level contact between U.S. and Iranian leaders since 1979, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had a meeting with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, signaling that the two countries had an opening to cooperation.
After several rounds of negotiations, on 24 November 2013, the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, was signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in Geneva, Switzerland. It consisted of a short-term freeze of portions of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for decreased economic sanctions on Iran, as the countries work towards a long-term agreement. The IAEA began “more intrusive and frequent inspections” under this interim agreement. The agreement was formally activated on 20 January 2014. On that day, the IAEA issued a report stating that Iran was adhering to the terms of the interim agreement, including stopping enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, beginning the dilution process (to reduce half of the stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium to 3.5 percent), and halting work on the Arak heavy-water reactor.
The agreement between the P5+1+EU and Iran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is the culmination of 20 months of “arduous” negotiations.
The agreement followed the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), an interim agreement between the P5+1 powers and Iran that was agreed to on 24 November 2013 at Geneva. The Geneva agreement was an interim deal, in which Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from some sanctions. This went into effect on 20 January 2014. The parties agreed to extend their talks with a first extension deadline on 24 November 2014 and a second extension deadline set to 1 July 2015.
An Iran nuclear deal framework was reached on 2 April 2015. Under this framework Iran agreed tentatively to accept restrictions on its nuclear program, all of which would last for at least a decade and some longer, and to submit to an increased intensity of international inspections under a framework deal. These details were to be negotiated by the end of June 2015. The negotiations toward a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action were extended several times until the final agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was finally reached on 14 July 2015. The JCPOA is based on the framework agreement from three months earlier.
Subsequently the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 continued. In April 2014, a framework deal was reached at Lausanne. Intense marathon negotiations then continued, with the last session in Vienna at the Palais Coburg lasting for seventeen days. At several points, negotiations appeared to be at risk of breaking down, but negotiators managed to come to agreement. As the negotiators neared a deal, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry directly asked Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to confirm that he was “authorized to actually make a deal, not just by the [Iranian] president, but by the supreme leader?” Zarif gave assurances that he was.
Ultimately, on 14 July 2015, all parties agreed to a landmark comprehensive nuclear agreement. At the time of the announcement, shortly before 11:00 GMT, the agreement was released to the public.
The final agreement’s complexity shows the impact of a public letter written by a bipartisan group of 19 U.S. diplomats, experts, and others in June 2015, written when negotiations were still going on. That letter outlined concerns about the several provisions in the then-unfinished agreement and called for a number of improvements to strengthen the prospective agreement and win their support for it. After the final agreement was reached, one of the signatories, Robert J. Einhorn, a former U.S. Department of State official now at the Brookings Institution, said of the agreement: “Analysts will be pleasantly surprised. The more things are agreed to, the less opportunity there is for implementation difficulties later on.”
The final agreement is based upon (and buttresses) “the rules-based nonproliferation regime created by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and including especially the IAEA safeguards system.”
Souvenir signatures of lead negotiators on the cover page of the JCPOA document. The Persian handwriting on top left side is a homage by Javad Zarif to his counterparts’ efforts in the negotiations: “[I am] Sincere to Mr. Abbas [Araghchi] and Mr. Majid [Takht-Ravanchi].”
Iran’s current stockpile of low-enriched uranium will be reduced by 98 percent, from 10,000 kg to 300 kg. This reduction will be maintained for fifteen years. For the same fifteen-year period, Iran will be limited to enriching uranium to 3.67%, a percentage sufficient for civilian nuclear power and research, but not for building a nuclear weapon.However, the number of centrifuges is sufficient for a nuclear weapon, but not for nuclear power. This is a “major decline” in Iran’s previous nuclear activity; prior to watering down its stockpile pursuant to the Joint Plan of Action interim agreement, Iran had enriched uranium to near 20% (medium-enriched uranium). These enriched uranium in excess of 300 kg of up to 3.67% will be down blended to natural uranium level or be sold in return for natural uranium, and the uranium enriched to between 5% and 20% will be fabricated into fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor or sold or diluted to an enrichment level of 3.67%. The implementation of the commercial contracts will be facilitated by P5+1. After fifteen years, all physical limits on enrichment will be removed, including limits on the type and number of centrifuges, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium, and where Iran may have enrichment facilities. According to Belfer, at this point Iran could “expand its nuclear program to create more practical overt and covert nuclear weapons options”.
For ten years, Iran will place over two-thirds of its centrifuges in storage, from its current stockpile of 19,000 centrifuges (of which 10,000 were operational) to no more than 6,104 operational centrifuges, with only 5,060 allowed to enrich uranium, with the enrichment capacity being limited to the Natanz plant. The centrifuges there must be IR-1 centrifuges, the first-generation centrifuge type which is Iran’s oldest and least efficient; Iran will give up its advanced IR-2M centrifuges in this period. The non-operating centrifuges will be stored in Natanz and monitored by IAEA, but may be used to replace failed centrifuges. Iran will not build any new uranium-enrichment facilities for fifteen years.
Iran may continue research and development work on enrichment, but that work will take place only at the Natanz facility and include certain limitations for the first eight years. This is intended to keep the country to a breakout time of one year.
Iran, with cooperation from the “Working Group” (the P5+1 and possibly other countries), will modernise and rebuild the Arak heavy water research reactor based on an agreed design to support its peaceful nuclear research and production needs and purposes, but in such a way to minimise the production of plutonium and not to produce weapons-grade plutonium. The power of the redesigned reactor will not exceed 20 MWth. The P5+1 parties will support and facilitate the timely and safe construction of the Arak complex. All spent fuel will be sent out of the country. All excess heavy water which is beyond Iran’s needs for the redesigned reactor will be made available for export to the international market based on international prices. In exchange, Iran received 130 tons of uranium in 2015 and in late 2016 was approved to receive 130 tons in 2017. For 15 years, Iran will not engage in, or research on, spent fuel reprocessing. Iran will also not build any additional heavy-water reactors or accumulate heavy water for fifteen years.
Iran’s Fordow facility will stop enriching uranium and researching uranium enrichment for at least fifteen years; the facility will be converted into a nuclear physics and technology center. For 15 years, Fordow will maintain no more than 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges in six cascades in one wing of Fordow. “Two of those six cascades will spin without uranium and will be transitioned, including through appropriate infrastructure modification,” for stable radioisotope production for medical, agricultural, industrial, and scientific use. “The other four cascades with all associated infrastructure will remain idle.” Iran will not be permitted to have any fissile material in Fordow.
Iran will implement an Additional Protocol agreement which will continue in perpetuity for as long as Iran remains a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The signing of the Additional Protocol represents a continuation of the monitoring and verification provisions “long after the comprehensive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran is implemented”.
A comprehensive inspections regime will be implemented in order to monitor and confirm that Iran is complying with its obligations and is not diverting any fissile material.[c]
The IAEA will have multilayered oversight “over Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, from uranium mills to its procurement of nuclear-related technologies“. For declared nuclear sites such as Fordow and Natanz, the IAEA will have “round-the-clock access” to nuclear facilities and will be entitled to maintain continuous monitoring (including via surveillance equipment) at such sites. The agreement authorizes the IAEA to make use of sophisticated monitoring technology, such as fiber-optic seals on equipment that can electronically send information to the IAEA; infrared satellite imagery to detect covert sites, “environmental sensors that can detect minute signs of nuclear particles”; tamper-resistant, radiation-resistant cameras. Other tools include computerized accounting programs to gather information and detect anomalies, and big data sets on Iranian imports, to monitor dual-use items.
The number of IAEA inspectors assigned to Iran will triple, from 50 to 150 inspectors.
If IAEA inspectors have concerns that Iran is developing nuclear capabilities at any non-declared sites, they may request access “to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with” the agreement, informing Iran of the basis for their concerns. The inspectors would only come from countries with which Iran has diplomatic relations. Iran may admit the inspectors to such site or propose alternatives to inspection that might satisfy the IAEA’s concerns. If such an agreement cannot be reached, a process running to a maximum of 24 days is triggered. Under this process, Iran and the IAEA have 14 days to resolve disagreements among themselves. If they fail to, the Joint Commission (including all eight parties) would have one week in which to consider the intelligence which initiated the IAEA request. A majority of the Commission (at least five of the eight members) could then inform Iran of the action that it would be required to take within three more days. The majority rule provision “means the United States and its European allies—Britain, France, Germany and the EU—could insist on access or any other steps and that Iran, Russia or China could not veto them”. If Iran did not comply with the decision within three days, sanctions would be automatically reimposed under the snapback provision (see below).
As a result of the above, the “breakout time”—the time in which it would be possible for Iran to make enough material for a single nuclear weapon—will increase from two to three months to one year, according to U.S. officials and U.S. intelligence.[d] An August 2015 report published by a group of experts at Harvard University‘s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs concurs in these estimates, writing that under the JCPOA, “over the next decade would be extended to roughly a year, from the current estimated breakout time of 2 to 3 months”. The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation also accepts these estimates. By contrast, Alan J. Kuperman, coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas at Austin, disputed the one-year assessment, arguing that under the agreement, Iran’s breakout time “would be only about three months, not much longer than it is today”.
The longer breakout time would be in place for at least ten years; after that point, the breakout time would gradually decrease. By the fifteenth year, U.S. officials state that the breakout time would return to the pre-JCPOA status quo of a few months. The Belfer Center report states: “Some contributors to this report believe that breakout time by year 15 could be comparable to what it is today—a few months—while others believe it could be reduced to a few weeks.”
Reuters reported that exemptions were granted to Iran prior to January 16, 2016. The reported purpose of the exemptions was so that sanctions relief and other benefits could start by that date, instead of Iran being in violation. The exemptions included: (a) Iran able to exceed the 300 Kg of 3.5% LEU limit in the agreement; (b) Iran able to exceed the zero Kg of 20% LEU limit in the agreement; (c) Iran to keep operating 19 “hot cells” that exceed the size limit in the agreement; (d) Iran to maintain control of 50 tonnes of heavy water that exceed the 130 tonne limit in the agreement by storing the excess at an Iran-controlled facility in Oman. In December 2016, the IAEA published decisions of the Joint Commission that spell out these clarifications of the JCPOA.
Eight years into the agreement, EU sanctions against a number of Iranian companies, individuals and institutions (such as the Revolutionary Guards) will be lifted.
The United States will “cease” application of its nuclear-related secondary sanctions by presidential action or executive waiver.Secondary sanctions are those that sanction other countries for doing business with Iran. Primary U.S. sanctions, which prohibit U.S. firms from conducting commercial transactions with few exceptions, are not altered by the JCPOA.
This step is not tied to any specific date, but is expected to occur “roughly in the first half of 2016”.
However, all U.S. sanctions against Iran related to alleged human rights abuses, missiles, and support for terrorism are not affected by the agreement and will remain in place. U.S. sanctions are viewed as more stringent, since many have extraterritorial effect (i.e., they apply worldwide). EU sanctions, by contrast, apply only in Europe.
No new UN or EU nuclear-related sanctions or restrictive measures will be imposed.
If Iran violates the agreement, any of the P5+1 can invoke a “snap back” provision, under which the sanctions “snap back” into place (i.e., are reimplemented).
Specifically, the JCPOA establishes the following dispute resolution process: if a party to the JCPOA has reason to believe that another party is not upholding its commitments under the agreement, then the complaining party may refer its complaint to the Joint Commission, a body created under the JCPOA to monitor implementation. If a complaint made by a non-Iran party is not resolved to the satisfaction of the complaining party within thirty-five days of referral, then that party could treat the unresolved issue as grounds to cease performing its commitments under the JCPOA, notify the United Nations Security Council that it believes the issue constitutes significant non-performance, or both. The Security Council would then have thirty days to adopt a resolution to continue the lifting of sanctions. If such a resolution is not adopted within those thirty days, then the sanctions of all of the pre-JCPOA nuclear-related UN Security Council resolutions would automatically be re-imposed. Iran has stated that in such a case, it would cease performing its nuclear obligations under the deal. The effect of this rule is that any permanent member of the Security Council (United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia and France) can veto any ongoing sanctions relief, but no member can veto the re-imposition of sanctions.
Snapback sanctions “would not apply with retroactive effect to contracts signed between any party and Iran or Iranian individuals and entities prior to the date of application, provided that the activities contemplated under and execution of such contracts are consistent with this JCPOA and the previous and current UN Security Council resolutions”.
Ankit Panda of The Diplomat states that this will make impossible any scenario where Iran is non-compliant with the JCPOA yet escapes re-imposition of sanctions. Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (which opposes the agreement) argues, however, that because the JCPOA provides that Iran could treat reinstatement of sanctions (in part or entirely) as grounds for leaving the agreement, the United States would be reluctant to impose a “snapback” for smaller violations: “The only thing you’ll take to the Security Council are massive Iranian violations, because you’re certainly not going to risk the Iranians walking away from the deal and engaging in nuclear escalation over smaller violations.”
Pictured here, Iranian foreign affairs minister and U.S. secretary of state shaking hands at the end of negotiations on 14 July 2015, Vienna. They shook hands on 26 September 2013 in the United Nations Headquarters for the first time.
Story 3: Radical Islamic Terrorist Attack In Paris, France Target Police One Officer Killed and One Wounded and One Shooter Killed and One Escaped — Videos —
One Officer Killed, One Wounded In Paris Shooting | NBC News
Trump Says Paris Shooting Looks Like Terror Attack
BREAKING Paris ISLAMIC Terrorist with Machine Gun kills police officer 2nd hurt April 20 2017 News
BREAKING!!! TERROR ATTACK IN PARIS!!!
Paris shooting ‘looks like another terrorist attack’ Trump says: ‘It just never ends’
The U.S. president addressed the assault on two police officers at a news conference Thursday afternoon in the White House’s East Room
French police say the incident involving at least two gunman was probably a ‘terrorist act’
‘We have to be strong, and we have to be vigilant, and I’ve been saying it for a long time,’ Trump said
By Francesca Chambers, White House Correspondent For Dailymail.com
PUBLISHED: 16:23 EDT, 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:26 EDT, 20 April 2017
President Donald Trump says a shooting in Paris today ‘looks like another terrorist attack.’
The U.S. president addressed the assault on two police officers at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
‘It just never ends,’ he said of the terror threat from the White House’s East Room.
French police say the incident involving at least two gunman was probably a ‘terrorist act.’
President Donald Trump says a shooting in Paris today ‘looks like another terrorist attack.’
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said just before the news conference began that Trump had been briefed on the shooting that happened while he was meeting with the Italian prime minister.
‘Condolences from our country to the people for France again. It’s happening it seems,’ Trump said from the podium. ‘I just saw it as I was walking in, so it’s a terrible thing and it’s a very, very terrible thing that’s going on in the world today.’
Trump did not comment on the assault at the top of his remarks but said after he was asked for a reaction, ‘It looks like another terrorist attack, and what can you say? It just never ends.
‘We have to be strong, and we have to be vigilant, and I’ve been saying it for a long time,’ Trump told Fox News’ John Roberts.
France is in the process of holding a national election. The first round of voting begins on April 23.
A gunman wielding an AK-47 killed one police officer and wounded another today on the Champs-Elysees. The assailant was killed in the showdown with police, Paris police have said. Another suspect is believed to have been involved, as well.
Police just two days ago arrested two men in southern Marseille with weapons and explosives who were suspected of preparing an attack to disrupt the first-round of the presidential election on Sunday.
France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of alert since a string of terror attacks that began in 2015 and have killed over 230 people.
Thousands of troops and armed police have been deployed to guard tourist hotspots such as the Champs Elysees or other potential targets like government buildings and religious sites.
‘Stay back, stay back!’ Police warn after shooting in Paris
Police closed off the popular avenue (pictured) after a policeman was killed during a shooting incident in the French capital
A French police officer was tonight shot dead on the Champs Elysees in Paris (pictured) – just as presidential candidates took part in a TV debate nearby
Up until now, polls showed voters more concerned about unemployment and their spending power than terrorism or security, though analysts warned this would change in the event of further bloodshed.
For weeks, centrist Emanuel Macron and National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen have been out in front.
Scandal-plagued conservative Francois Fillon and far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon have closed the gap substantially in the last two weeks.
Opinion polls now show there is a chance that any of the four leading candidates could reach the second-round run-off on May 7 if none of them reach a majority in this weekend’s election.
Footage potentially show s the moments after the Paris shootingPolice say the suspect was from an eastern Paris in suburb, despite ISIS naming him as a Belgian national on their Amaq news agency.
He is thought to have been known to security services for “extremist links”.
The shooter’s house in an eastern Paris suburb and other addresses are being searched by officers, a source told Reuters.
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Cops have said they are hunting a second suspect who may or may not be involved in the incident.
Local police advised people to avoid the area after shots were fired at around 9pm local time.
Witnesses said the attacker pulled up beside a stationery police car and fired through the window.
“He parked just behind the van and he got out with a Kalashnikov and I heard six gunshots,” a witness named Chelloug said.
“I thought they were firecrackers, because we all looked around the road and there was no one.
“In fact, he was hidden behind the van and shooting at the police.
Eyewitness of the Paris shooting says he heard six gun shots between police and the gunman
Two French police officers killed by gunman in Paris ‘terror’ attack”I think he hit a policeman. As soon as the policeman opened the door of the van, he fell, I think.
“As soon as we saw that, we all ran back inside (a building). We hid and I went up to the first floor and we saw them (the policeman) shoot him (the perpetrator).”
He added: ” I was afraid. I have a two year-old girl and I thought I was going to die… He shot straight at the police officer.”
President Francois Hollande said officials are “convinced” the incident is a terror attack.
Paris Prosecutor’s anti-terror office has opened an inquiry.
Eyewitness of the Paris shooting says he heard six gun shots between police and the gunman
ISIS claims it was behind Paris police shootingYvan Assioma of the police union Alliance said: “The exact circumstances are still unclear but I can confirm the tragic death of one of our colleagues. Our thoughts are very much with the family.
“One or several attackers have been shot dead by the police. Some officers were hit but the bullets were stopped by their bulletproof vests, but two were hit.
“Nothing is being ruled out for the time being, terrorism or a criminal act.”
Champs-Elysees in Paris evacuated after two police officers shot dead
French police closes traffic on Champs Elysees after shootingA Government spokesperson said: “An automatic weapon was used against police, a weapon of war.
“The shooting started shortly after 9pm, when a car stopped alongside a stationary police car.
“A man immediately got out and opened fire on the police car, fatally wounding a police officer. He also wounded a second one, it would seem very seriously.”
The shooting happened near the Métro station Franklin D Roosevelt and the Marks and Spencer store on the Champs-Elysées.
It is one of the most famous streets in the world and a busy tourist hub.
Armed police and emergency services have been spotted at the scene.
Armed officers tak e position behind a kiosk on the Champs ElyséesFrance’s President Francois Hollande has scheduled an emergency meeting following the shootings.
French Presidential candidates Marine Le Pen and Francois Fill0n have cancelled their trips tomorrow.
The shooting comes just just days ahead of France’s presidential election.
On Tuesday, days after police arrested two men in southern Marseille with weapons and explosives who were suspected of preparing an attack to disrupt the first-round of the presidential election on Sunday.
Policeman shot dead and ‘two seriously injured’ on Champs-Élysé, Paris
Police officers evacuate people off the Champs Elysees after ‘terror attack’France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of alert since a string of terror attacks that began in 2015, which have killed over 230 people.
The UK Foreign Office said: “The British Embassy is in contact with local authorities and urgently seeking further information following reports of a shooting incident on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
“You should remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local security authorities and/or your tour operator.
“If you’re in the area and it is safe to do so, contact your friends and family to tell them you are safe.”
Story 4: Republicans Return Repeal Replace Obamacare — Compromise Should Pass House by April 28, 2017 Videos —
House Republicans Close To Obamacare Repeal
Published on Apr 20, 2017
House Freedom Caucus and moderate Republicans are edging closer to a deal on repealing Obamacare. The agreement, brokered by House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Tuesday Group co-chairman Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), would allow states to eliminate Obamacare’s community rating system, a rule that prohibits health insurers from pricing health care plans based on age, gender, or health status. States that repeal Obamacare’s community rating rules would have to join a federal high-risk pool or establish a local high-risk pool to obtain the waiver.
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The developing plan from House Republicans to push forward their overhaul of the US healthcare system has one big problem: timing.
A new amendment leaked Wednesday night appears to be a compromise between the leaders of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and moderate Tuesday Group that could produce some movement on the bill in that timeframe.
But Congress faces another looming deadline by April 28: funding the federal government. If no new funding bill is passed by next Friday, parts of the federal government will shut down.
Washington is not known for multitasking, and it could be difficult to get a funding bill passed as the White House and lawmakers push to add policy proposals to the funding bill. Given the political ramifications of the issue, the shutdown fight could consume the calendar.
According to Politico, the White House and Congress are considering passage of a one-week extension on funding in order to hash out a more considered funding bill and possibly give the House time to take up the AHCA, which became colloquially known as “Trumpcare.”
Barring such an extension, however, it would be highly unlikely that the American Health Care Act moves forward before Trump’s 100th day in the Oval Office.
The full text of the proposed amendment, obtained by Politico’s Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, states that the waiver would be granted by the federal government if the state can prove that it has an alternative to “reduce premium costs, increase the number of persons with healthcare coverage, or advance another benefit to the public interest in the state.”
Essential health benefits require insurers to cover a baseline of health procedures such as prenatal care and emergency room visits. Community rating means that insurers must charge people living in the same area the same price for insurance regardless of things such as age, gender, or preexisting conditions.
“The gist of this is that federal protections for pre-existing conditions and required benefits remain…unless a state doesn’t want them to,” tweeted Larry Levitt, senior vice president at health policy think thank The Kaiser Family Foundation on Thursday.
However, this means that the Trump administration, most likely Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, would have final say on whether or not a waiver is granted.
While the deal was reportedly reached by conservative House Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Mark Meadows and moderate Tuesday Group chair Rep. Tom MacArthur, it also bears similarities to a previous deal that drew the ire of moderates for going too far in pulling back protections.
Additionally, it does not address the concerns of moderates such as the defunding of Medicaid expansion or the estimates that the Affordable Health Care Act could leave up to 24 million fewer people without health coverage over the next 10 years.
The Washington Post’s Robert Costa reported after the amendment’s outline was leaked that the GOP leadership is planning to release the exact language for the amendment later on Thursday and are targeting Wednesday for a vote on the revised bill, but that could change.
The amendment comes the day after reports that the White House was pushing for a deal to be completed by the end of next week in order to show progress during Trump’s first 100 days as president. Additionally, House Speaker Paul Ryan said in London on Wednesday that the GOP was putting the “finishing touches” on an Obamacare deal.
Passing the AHCA, even with the proposed changes, would be difficult in the short-term as Congress must also pass a bill to fund the federal government before parts of it shut down on April 28.
Mnuchin: Most significant tax code change since Reagan 9 Hours Ago | 01:19
The Trump administration is close to bringing forward “major tax reform,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday, days after he tempered expectations for how quickly it will pass.
Mnuchin, who this week backed off of his earlier goal of passing tax reform by August, said the White House will unveil a plan “very soon.” However, the Trump administration previously missed several of its deadlines for releasing its tax plan.
In terms of timing, he said he hoped passing a tax overhaul will not “take till the end of the year.”
Mnuchin spoke at the Institute of International Finance Washington Policy Summit, where White House chief economic advisor Gary Cohn was set to appear later Thursday.
In a Financial Times interview published Monday, Mnuchin said getting a bill to President Donald Trump‘s desk before August is “highly aggressive to not realistic at this point.” He said in February that he wanted to see “very significant” tax reform passed by Congress’ August recess.
The business community has hoped Republicans can move quickly on overhauling the American tax system, a prospect that partly fueled stock market gains in the months following Trump’s election. However, political realities have tempered expectations for changes to the tax system.
Republicans attempted to pass legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act before moving to a tax reform bill. That effort failed late last month, and Mnuchin said the setback contributed to his assessment that passing a tax overhaul by August could be difficult.
Trump put the pressure back on Tuesday after Mnuchin and Cohn appeared to walk back expectations for how quickly tax reform will happen. He called out Mnuchin by name during a speech at Snap-on headquarters in Wisconsin.
“So we’re in very good shape on tax reform. We have the concept of the plan. We’re going to be announcing it very soon,” Trump said at that time. “But health care, we have to get the health care taken care of, and as soon as health care takes care of we are going to march very quickly. You’re going to watch. We’re going to surprise you. Right, Steve Mnuchin? Right?”
Even though the president sounded optimistic Tuesday, the Trump administration has set deadlines for tax policy before that have not come to pass. In late February, Trump said the tax plan was “very well finalized,” only a day after press secretary Sean Spicer said it would be released “in the next couple weeks.
Republicans have refocused on resurrecting the effort to repeal the ACA, better known as Obamacare, as they get set to return from a recess next week. House GOP leaders are trying to balance the concerns of the both the party’s conservative and moderate wings as they try to follow through on a major campaign pledge.
Mnuchin said Thursday that “whether health care gets done or health care doesn’t get done, we’re going to get tax reform done.”
The Bonner group/A Super PAC and fundraiser for Hillary & DNC. The Campaign against Bill OReily is orchestrated by MM & BG. #Smearproof
Glenn Beck ✔ @glennbeck The Bonner group/A Super PAC and fundraiser for Hillary & DNC. The Campaign against Bill OReily is orchestrated by MM & BG. #Smearproof 5:58 AM – 19 Apr 2017 321 321 Retweets 232 232 likes
Bill O’Reilly Gets a $25M Copy of the Home Game Sayonara and “Hit the Road” Without Even a Goodbye
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Sources: Fox News Has Decided Bill O’Reilly Has to Go
By Gabriel Sherman
The Murdochs have decided Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year run at Fox News will come to an end. According to sources briefed on the discussions, network executives are preparing to announce O’Reilly’s departure before he returns from an Italian vacation on April 24. Now the big questions are how the exit will look and who will replace him.
Wednesday morning, according to sources, executives are holding emergency meetings to discuss how they can sever the relationship with the country’s highest-rated cable-news host without causing collateral damage to the network. The board of Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, is scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss the matter.
Sources briefed on the discussions say O’Reilly’s exit negotiations are moving quickly. Right now, a key issue on the table is whether he would be allowed to say good-bye to his audience, perhaps the most loyal in all of cable (O’Reilly’s ratings have ticked up during the sexual-harassment allegations). Fox executives are leaning against allowing him to have a sign-off, sources say. The other main issue on the table is money. O’Reilly recently signed a new multiyear contract worth more than $20 million per year. When Roger Ailes left Fox News last summer, the Murdochs paid out $40 million, the remainder of his contract.
According to sources, Fox News wants the transition to be seamless. Executives are currently debating possible replacement hosts. Names that have been discussed include Eric Bolling, Dana Perino, and Tucker Carlson, who would move from his successful 9 p.m. slot and create a need for a new host at that time. One source said Sean Hannity is happy at 10 p.m. and would not want to move.
The Murdochs’ decision to dump O’Reilly shocked many Fox News staffers I’ve spoken to in recent days. Late last week, the feeling inside the company was that Rupert Murdoch would prevail over his son James, who lobbied to jettison the embattled host. It’s still unclear exactly how the tide turned. According to one source, Lachlan Murdoch’s wife helped convince her husband that O’Reilly needed to go, which moved Lachlan into James’s corner. The source added that senior executives at other divisions within the Murdoch empire have complained that if O’Reilly’s allegations had happened to anyone else at their companies, that person would be gone already.
Spokespersons for 21st Century Fox and Fox News did not respond to requests for comment, nor did O’Reilly’s agent, Carole Cooper.
By EMILY STEEL and MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT APRIL 19, 2017
Bill O’Reilly has been the top-rated host in cable news, serving up defiant commentary with a message that celebrated patriotism and expressed scorn for political correctness.CreditAndrew Hetherington/Redux Pictures
Bill O’Reilly has been forced out of his position as a prime-time host on Fox News, the company said on Wednesday, after the disclosure of multiple settlements involving sexual harassment allegations against him. His ouster brings an abrupt and embarrassing end to his two-decade reign as one of the most popular and influential commentators in television.
“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” 21st Century Fox, Fox News’s parent company, said in a statement.
Mr. O’Reilly’s departure comes two and a half weeks after an investigation by The New York Times revealed how Fox News and 21st Century Fox had repeatedly stood by Mr. O’Reilly even as sexual harassment allegations piled up against him. The Times found that the company and Mr. O’Reilly reached settlements with five women who had complained about sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior by him. The agreements totaled about $13 million.
Since then, more than 50 advertisers had abandoned his show, and women’s rights groups called for his ouster. Inside the company, women expressed outrage and questioned whether top executives were serious about maintaining a culture based on “trust and respect,” as they had promised last summer when another sexual harassment scandal forced the ouster of Fox News’s chairman, Roger Ailes.
That put pressure on 21st Century Fox and the Murdoch family that controlled it. After the dismissal of Mr. Ailes, the company struck two settlements involving sexual harassment complaints against Mr. O’Reilly and also extended his contract, even as it was aware of the complaints about his behavior.
Last week, the Murdochs enlisted the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to conduct an investigation into Mr. O’Reilly’s behavior after one woman, who had detailed her allegations against Mr. O’Reilly to The Times, called the company’s hotline to report her complaints. Another complaint was reported on Tuesday, according to the lawyer who represents the woman making the allegations.
Mr. O’Reilly has denied the allegations against him.
Mr. O’Reilly, 67, has been an anchor at Fox News since he started at the network in 1996. He was the top-rated host in cable news, serving up defiant commentary every weekday at 8 p.m., with a message that celebrated patriotism and expressed scorn for political correctness. His departure is a significant blow to Fox News’s prime-time lineup, which in January lost another star, Megyn Kelly, from a lineup that dominated the prime-time cable news ratings.
Media Matters President Angelo Carusone: “Even If Bill O’Reilly Stays, His Show Will Never Be As Profitable”
Carusone: Fox News Said It Themselves … ‘If You Have A Television Show And You Have Advertiser Problems, You No Longer Have A Television Show That Is Viable.”
Video ››› April 5, 2017 6:30 PM EDT ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
From the April 5 edition of Cheddar News:
KRISTEN SCHOLER (CO-HOST): We know that you’ve been following the developments in these sexual harassment claims against Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, and as of right now ABC reporting 22 advertisers pulling out of advertising at least temporarily on his show. How is this going to force Fox News to respond long term? We’ve heard the response short-term which is it’s working with these advertisers, but big picture what do you think this means?
ANGELO CARUSONE: One thing that at the top that I point out is, when we think about the number of advertisers that have dropped, that 22 number is the ones that have given public statements. From just observing the program and his advertisers the last couple of weeks, and then what his advertising looked like last night, and just from my own experience of running and being involved in similar kinds of advertiser efforts, like against Glenn Beck, I suspect that many more advertisers have actually adjusted their ad buys but just haven’t given public statements yet. Because many of the advertisers that had been advertising on the program every single night for the past few weeks did not appear last night after this controversy blew up, and I don’t think they’ll be there tonight.
JON STEINBERG (CO-HOST): Angelo, at what point — because they’re sticking by this guy, because he brings in money. And they basically don’t care; they don’t care how bad it is or what he’s done, he makes them so much money that they’re going to stick with him. At what point is it enough advertisers that the math — the problem is, this looks bad for them, and it could be even worse for them, they could have gotten ahead of this and been like, “this guy’s toxic, we’re done,” right? Instead they paid his settlements, stuck by him, now they’re going to lose money and now they’re going to have to pull the ripcord on him, at which point it looks like they’re just doing it for the money.
CARUSONE: And I think that’s the exact right question, which is at what point does it actually start to affect them? What happens during these kinds of flare-ups is that there’s an assumption on the public’s part that if O’Reilly was to leave the program in a couple of days, that everything was pointless and worth it and Fox News is totally fine and Bill O’Reilly is totally fine. That’s actually just not true, and during the Glenn Beck period, after he lost a wave of advertisers, his advertiser rates never recovered. He limped along for over a year. His advertiser rates were a quarter of what other Fox News programs were even though he had a million viewers than many other Fox News programs, comparable ones, during similar time slots. He was beating the programs around him by a million viewers but his advertiser rates for the same advertisers, and for the same commercials, were sometimes a fifth of what they were on just a program an hour later or an hour earlier. That’s because they fell precipitously after he lost a lot of advertisers. The market addressed that issue; once you started to see there’s a problem buying ads on that show, media buyers weren’t going to pay the same rates anymore, and they never did. So that’s the first thing that I would point out, that no matter what, even if Bill O’Reilly stays, his program will never be as profitable as it was three days ago. That is just a bottom-line fact.
On The O’Reilly Factor and on his former talk-radio program, Bill O’Reilly has focused on news and commentary related to politics and culture. O’Reilly has long said that he does not identify with any political ideology, writing in his book The O’Reilly Factor that the reader “might be wondering if whether I’m conservative, liberal, libertarian, or exactly what…. See, I don’t want to fit any of those labels, because I believe that the truth doesn’t have labels. When I see corruption, I try to expose it. When I see exploitation, I try to fight it. That’s my political position.” On December 6, 2000, the Daily News in New York reported, however, that he had been registered with the Republican Party in the state of New York since 1994. When questioned about this, he said that he was not aware of it and says he registered as an independent after the interview. During a broadcast of The Radio Factor, O’Reilly said that there was no option to register as an independent voter; however, there was in fact a box marked “I do not wish to enroll in party.” Despite being registered as an Independent, many view him as a conservative figure. A Pew Research February 2009 poll found that 66% of his television viewers identify themselves as conservative, 24% moderate, and 3% liberal. A November 2008 poll by Zogby International found that O’Reilly was the second most trusted news personality after Rush Limbaugh.
I’m not a political guy in the sense that I embrace an ideology. To this day I’m an independent thinker, an independent voter, I’m a registered independent… there are certain fundamental things that this country was founded upon that I respect and don’t want changed. That separates me from the secularists who want a complete overhaul of how the country is run.
According to the Newsmax publication, O’Reilly has repeatedly claimed that Clinton had the Internal Revenue Service audit him. O’Reilly says that he was audited three times since his program debuted in 1996.
In 2002, O’Reilly had criticized Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton, stating that she would run for president in 2008. In an interview with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, he said, “I just feel that Hillary is a socialist, and I’m paying enough tax. Hillary wants to take my money [and] your money… and give it to strangers. There’s something about that that offends me.” He said that she had voted for every single spending bill that year. In the same interview, he accused her of running as a political carpetbagger, and said that she intends to abolish the Electoral College in favor of the popular vote, claiming that it would be done only to give her an advantage in the presidential race.
During the lead up to the 2004 presidential election, O’Reilly said that the Democratic Party has been taken over by the “far-left” in a conversation with former Democratic Congressman Brad Carson. Shortly following the election, O’Reilly ridiculed a message in which Democratic challenger John Kerry thanked his supporters for their support as well as opposing “the attacks from big news organizations such as Fox, Sinclair Broadcasting, and conservative talk radio.” O’Reilly shot back, calling Kerry a “sissy” six times. Kerry himself stated publicly in a 2006 interview that he always felt he’d have a “fair shot” at conveying his views on The O’Reilly Factor and regrets not doing an interview prior to the election.
Although O’Reilly has never officially endorsed any candidate, he did advise his audience not to support Democratic South Dakota senator Tom Daschle in his Senate re-election bid on his radio program, saying that, “[W]ith all due respect to the senator, we don’t have any respect for him at all. And we hope he loses in South Dakota. And I — really, I stay out of all these races, but you guys listening in South Dakota, vote for the other guy.” Daschle would lose the 2004 Senate election in South Dakota to John Thune.
2008 presidential election
In the 2008 Democratic primary, O’Reilly urged his viewers not to vote for a candidate, this time John Edwards, and called Edwards a “phony” regarding his public statements on poverty. O’Reilly has, on many occasions, admitted to “having no respect for him”, and called him “arrogant” for keeping his campaign staffer Amanda Marcotte on after making remarks O’Reilly called offensive to Christians.
O’Reilly has also criticized Republicans. When speaking to Ed Schulz in 2007, O’Reilly said that then-presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani had “terrible character judgement” with Bernard Kerik and felt that “disqualified him from being president.”
“Culture War” and domestic politics
O’Reilly has taken to using the abbreviation “S-P”, for “SecularProgressive“, as a shorthand way of referring to a political category of people who want “drastic change” in the country. O’Reilly classifies the group as “far left”, and almost always refers to the group in a negative manner. However, he says that he is not equating the negative qualities he sees in “SPs” with a “liberal” political ideology, saying the SP camp is far more “libertine” with social values:
Liberal thought, however, can be a good thing. Progressive programs to help the poor, fight injustice and give working people a fair shake are all positive. But libertine actions damage a just society because actions have consequences. Kids who drink and take drugs are likely to hurt themselves and others. But obviously, the SPs do not make judgments like that.
O’Reilly initially supported the invasion of Iraq. Speaking on ABC’s Good Morning America on March 18, 2003, O’Reilly promised that “If the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it’s clean [of weapons of mass destruction]…I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush administration again.” In another appearance on the same program on February 10, 2004, O’Reilly responded to repeated requests for him to honor his pledge: “My analysis was wrong and I’m sorry. I was wrong. I’m not pleased about it at all.” With regard to never again trusting the current U.S. government, he said, “I am much more skeptical of the Bush administration now than I was at that time.”
O’Reilly has questioned the U.S. invasion of Iraq in hindsight, in particular the performance of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. However, he maintains that the United States “did a good thing by trying to liberate a country”. O’Reilly says the war effort should continue as long as progress is being made. He has also said that some anti-war activists are actively rooting for the United States to lose:
Again, I don’t know. With all America has sacrificed in Iraq, though, it seems reasonable to let the end game play out. If things are getting better, don’t derail the train.
But the anti-war crew is now fully invested in defeat. So the struggle at home is becoming even more vicious. Iraq is a shooting war. America’s a political war. Both are driven by hatred.
O’Reilly called the Iraqi people a “prehistoric group”, citing a poll showing that only two percent of them viewed the U.S. Forces as liberators and 55 percent preferred that they leave. “We cannot intervene in the Muslim world ever again”, he said. “What we can do is bomb the living daylights out of them (…) no more ground troops, no more hearts and minds, ain’t going to work.”
You can’t win. No one could. No nation could unless the Iraqi people turn on all the terrorists. And they’re not. They’re not, Tony.
O’Reilly went on to say that the country was corrupt and compared the situation to the American support of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War:
It’s like South Vietnam. It’s the same thing. There were a lot of South Vietnamese helping us. A lot fought and died on our side but there wasn’t enough of them to prevent the communists which were more united.
The cost has been great. We all know that. In suffering and cash. And the Iraqi government is still a mess. But General Petraeus, backed by a brave and professional U.S. military, has restored much order, largely defeated the Iraqi Al Qaeda thugs, and at least given the good people of that country a chance to prosper. General David Petraeus is “The Factor” person of the year by a wide margin.
O’Reilly has endorsed an aggressive War on Terror policy. He supports coercive measures to extract information from detainees at Guantanamo Bay, which he visited on two occasions. He has said that, in comparison to procedures used under the regimes of dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot, the U.S.’s tactics are not torture and are beneficial even when involving physical techniques, claiming that “Torture is taking my fingers off, disfiguring me, taking my eye out — not keeping me in a cold room and uncomfortable with blaring rock music.” O’Reilly cites waterboarding as a successful coercive measure that should not be classified as torture, citing that Abu Zubaydah and Khaled Sheikh Mohammed have both given up valuable information after being subjected to the technique:
In my opinion, it is immoral to allow terrorists to kill people when you can stop them. If you capture someone who knows the inner workings of a terror outfit, you make life very uncomfortable for that person within boundaries set by Congress.
But let’s stop the nonsense here. America’s not a bad country because it waterboarded Zubaydah. The Bush administration has done its job. We haven’t been attacked since 9/11.
The liberal press, politicians, the ACLU can’t stop any wrongdoing. They’re all lost in a fog of misguided indignation, crazy with hatred for Bush, but we the people must take a stand here. This isn’t a game. This is life and death. And if you don’t believe it, I know scores of people right here in New York City that will tell you about their dead loved ones.
Waterboarding should be a last resort, but it must be an option.
O’Reilly has said that both political parties in the United States are “playing games” with regards to the war on terrorism:
…both the right and the left are playing games to some extent. Certainly, Al Qaeda remains dangerous, but the only way to hit them is to invade Pakistan. Do the Democrats want to do that?
On the other hand, it would be a tragedy if after all the blood and treasure Americans have sacrificed, Al Qaeda has not been badly damaged.
America should be united in fighting these savages, but we’re not. Ideology has poisoned a reasoned, disciplined approach to defeating the jihadists. America’s great strength, diversity of thought, can also be a weakness. And Al Qaeda knows it.
The old saying goes, “United we stand, divided we fall.” Well, we’re divided.
O’Reilly has accused billionaire businessman, investor and political activist George Soros of trying to influence the 2008 election by donating to causes and organizations that O’Reilly calls the “radical left”, such as moveon.org, which regularly criticizes conservative politicians. O’Reilly said of Soros “If Mike Myers didn’t invent Dr. Evil, some would give Soros that moniker.” O’Reilly also accused Media Matters for America of receiving funds from Soros; although Media Matters denies having any funding directly or indirectly from Soros, he and the group’s founder, David Brock, have raised money together to fund political advertisements challenging John McCain in the 2008 election for what politico.com called “attack ads”. O’Reilly responded to the politico report by labeling Soros, Brock and Paul Begala an “American axis of evil” and saying
This, ladies and gentlemen, is ultra dangerous. Most Americans have no idea who Soros or Brock are. They will only know what they see on TV, smear stuff against McCain. And the pipeline extends directly to NBC News, which will publicize every piece of slime Brock can create. Only one word describes this: despicable.
O’Reilly alleged that PBS personality Bill Moyers oversaw $500,000 worth of money transferred from the Shoeman Center Foundation (a group Soros donated to) to Media Matters.
you know, you’ve got to admire Soros for coming up with this organization. I mean, you know, he’s made billions by doing this in business, by being in Curaçao and Bermuda and France, where he was convicted of a felony. And he knows how to do this. He knows how to move the money around and use it to gain influence. And now he’s set his sights on changing the basic fabric of this country.
O’Reilly alleged hypocrisy on the part of the ACLU for stating that New York City‘s random searches of bags in the public transportation as a breach of personal rights, but requiring people entering their New York headquarters to consent to a bag search.
O’Reilly asserted that the ACLU is now a political organization rather than an advocacy group, taking positions and cases based on politics rather than free speech.
He has come down hard on the organization for its actions on behalf of the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) which is currently under suspicion of involvement with the rape and murder of a young boy:
Now many of these people subscribe to a philosophy of relativism. That is a theory which says there’s no absolute right or wrong. All moral values are relative. What’s wrong for you is not wrong for your neighbor if he or she doesn’t think his or her actions are wrong. That’s what the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) is all about. Those loons believe it’s OK to rape kids because they want to.
The ACLU defends NAMBLA’s freedom of speech surrounding their publications and has said that the legal blame in the murder should go to who committed it.
The ACLU has said that they sometimes have to defend “unpopular” speech or speech that they don’t agree with, including the Ku Klux Klan‘s, saying their only “client” is the Bill of Rights. O’Reilly alleges the ACLU “cherry picks” its cases to promote a left wing agenda while not supporting causes of free speech that conservatives support in his criticism of the ACLU defending live sex shows in Oregon.
O’Reilly decried the group’s criticism of The Minutemen, claiming the latter were only engaging in a form of protest, a right the ACLU defends. O’Reilly alleges that the organization is protesting the Minutemen because they are going against the ACLU’s agenda.
O’Reilly criticized the ACLU for suing San Diego County for renting property to the Boy Scouts of America in Balboa Park. The ACLU brought up a law claiming that the Boy Scouts discriminated against gays and atheists. O’Reilly criticized the San Diego City Council for voting 6-2 to vote the Scouts out before a ruling on the lawsuit was made.
It would be impossible for the Boy Scouts (search) or any children’s organization to admit avowed homosexuals because of the potential liability. Say the Scouts put openly gay and straight kids together and some sexual activity occurred. Well, parents could sue for millions, same way parents could sue if the Scouts put boys and girls together and underaged sex occurred. As far as the atheist issue is concerned, the Scouts say no specific belief in God is necessary, only an acknowledgement of a higher power. And that power could be nature. Come on. The whole discrimination thing is bogus.
Part of the Boy Scout Oath begins, “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country” and the final point of the Scout Law reads, “A Scout is reverent,” with the Boy Scouts’ of America official explanation being that “a Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.” However, the bylaws of the organization specifically state that Scouts must “respect the religious beliefs of others” and “in no case where a unit is connected with a church or other distinctively religious organization shall members of other denominations or faith be required, because of their membership in the unit, to take part in or observe a religious ceremony distinctly unique to that organization or church.”
O’Reilly argues this is a liberal definition of what God may be, allowing diversity for anyone believing in a higher power to join.
Now the ACLU is free to come to your town and sue the heck out of it. And believe me, that organization will. The ACLU doesn’t care about the law or the Constitution or what the people want. It’s a fascist organization that uses lawyers instead of Panzers. It’ll find a way to inflict financial damage on any concern that opposes its secular agenda and its growing in power.
He later went on to criticize the Boy Scout leadership for not standing up to the ACLU.
On October 16, 2006 at Mount Pleasant High School in Michigan, a student stood up publicly in the cafeteria and called the principal of the school “a skank and a tramp.” In addition to this, the student called the school administrators Nazis and questioned the sexuality of the vice-principal. The school suspended the boy for 10 days, an action that brought a lawsuit by the ACLU. O’Reilly criticized the ACLU for defending the remarks as satire when he saw it as hate speech.
O’Reilly strongly condemns doctors who provide legal abortion services. Since 2005, he has repeatedly referred to physician and abortion doctor George Tiller as “Tiller the baby killer” on his Fox News prime time show, claiming that there must be “a special place in hell” for him. In May 2009, Tiller was murdered by anti-abortion gunman Scott Roeder.
O’Reilly has said that there is a lack of leadership among the traditionalists and this has emboldened the secular-progressive cause. He consistently says that using religion to justify public policy is wrong:
Right now, religious people are the ones speaking out for traditional values. But America does not forge public policy based on religion. Thus as soon as God enters the debate, the secularists win.
O’Reilly supports some forms of gun control, such as gun registration.
O’Reilly opposed the nationalizedhealth care plan that filmmaker Michael Moore argues for in his film Sicko, saying it would create huge backlogs. He also said, however, that he thinks the government should perform more oversight functions on health care:
…[G]overnment-run health care would be a disaster, featuring long waits for treatment and an enormous rise in taxation. But there should be government oversight on private insurance companies and strict guidelines about abusing customers. There can be compromise and effective government control of medical care abuse in the USA. It is possible. But if Michael Moore’s plan ever gets traction, pray hard you never get sick.
O’Reilly’s stance on LGBT issues has been evolving.
On October 27, 2004, he was quoted saying: “I’ve been saying that all along, that if you open the door for gay marriage, then you have to have the polygamists and the triads and the commune people and everybody else, right?”
O’Reilly supports civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, but has said that nobody has the “right” to marry; he says that marriage, like driving a car, is a privilege, not a right. He has said that if the government felt marriage was a right, then it would not stop polygamists and incestuous couples from marrying. O’Reilly further explained his position in his book Culture Warrior:
To this culture warrior, gay marriage is not a vital issue. I don’t believe the republic will collapse if Larry marries Brendan. However, it is clear that most Americans want heterosexual marriage to maintain its special place in American society. And as long as gays are not penalized in the civil arena, I think the folks should make the call at the ballot box. Traditional marriage is widely seen as a social stabilizer, and I believe that is true.
On March 26, 2013, O’Reilly stated “I support civil unions, I always have. The gay marriage thing, I don’t feel that strongly about it one way or the other. I think the states should do it.” O’Reilly then said, “The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals … ‘We’re Americans, we just want to be treated like everybody else.’ That’s a compelling argument, and to deny that you’ve got to have a very strong argument on the other side. And the other side hasn’t been able to do anything but thump the Bible.
O’Reilly discussed a story surrounding around a teenage lesbian couple being elected as the “cutest couple” in their school yearbook. He stated that he believed that this couple was elected by the students to “tweak the adults” and to “cause trouble”. He explains further here:
High school kids, they experiment. They experiment all over the place, they have a chip on their shoulder. They do things just to get a reaction, just to rebel. Parents might say “We don’t want to normalize homosexuality in a public way in an academic setting among minors. We don’t think that reflects how we feel about it”.
O’Reilly is known to favor adoption by a same-sex couple since 2002.
O’Reilly is opposed to the School Success and Opportunity Act (Assembly Bill 1266), which extends gender identity and expression discrimination protection to transgender and gender-nonconforming K-12 students in public schools. O’Reilly described the law as “madness” and “anarchy” on Fox News Channel.
Just before the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law banning homosexuals from serving in the military, he appeared on the Tonight Show and called the law “nonsense” and said he didn’t understand why the President, in his role as commander in chief of the armed forces, simply didn’t sign an executive order rescinding it.
US legal system
He regularly criticizes jurists in controversial cases as “activist judges.” He uses the issue of gay marriage as an example. “The folks decide that by voting and, in the case of gay marriage, the folks have decided. And that decision should be respected.”
He has suggested convicted rapists, mass murderers, terrorists, and other people who commit crimes against humanity be sent to a gulag style prison in Alaska with strict rules and minimal privileges. He has said this would serve as a replacement for the death penalty, to which he is opposed.
O’Reilly has been very critical of the U.S. film industry for producing films featuring violence and human suffering, such as the Saw series. He has compared this to the brutal displays of death in the Colosseums of ancient Rome. O’Reilly has said that films like these are marketed to children and can have consequences on their personal development. He commented on Kill Bill: Volume 1:
It’s the most violent movie ever made, featuring brutal dismemberments and a scalping close-up. And you should see the raves this movie is getting from the pinhead critics. And who’s lining up to see it? Children, that’s who.
O’Reilly severely chastized billionaire Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, for his support of Brian De Palma‘s film Redacted that portrayed the rape of an Iraqi girl by American soldiers. O’Reilly claimed that the film would be used as a recruiting tool by terrorists.
Every educator that I’ve talked to, and I’ve talked to hundreds, say that the kind of gangsta rap that Ludacris traffics in has debased the culture, made it more difficult for them to teach children and indeed, led children into anti-social behavior.
In 2007, O’Reilly had a dispute with Nas after the rapper was hired to play a concert at Virginia Tech one year after the school had experienced the Virginia Tech massacre. “Having a rapper who trades in violence perform at Virginia Tech insults the victims, the university and the entire commonwealth,” declared Bill O’Reilly.Nas subsequently called Bill O’Reilly a racist, and accused O’Reilly of going to extremes for publicity. He repeated this stance again in July 2008, when a dispute between Nas and O’Reilly led to Nas taking a petition to Fox News, and appearing on both Fox News, and the The Colbert Report. Also in 2008, Nas challenged Bill O’Reilly to a public debate, to which O’Reilly did not accept.
In May 2015, O’Reilly blamed the decline of American religion particularly the declining numbers of American Christians on hip hop music citing the genre as “pernicious entertainment” and an adducing factor for contributing to the decline. O’Reilly remarked that people of faith are being marginalized by a secular media and pernicious entertainment and rap industry often glorifies depraved behavior causing the minds of people who consume the music as the least likely to reject religion.” American rapper Killer Mike subsequently criticized him for his remarks calling O’Reilly “full of s**t than an outhouse” and then mocked him while he was a guest Real Time with Bill Maher.
Several rappers and hip hop producers have appeared on The O’Reilly Factor. Rapper Cam’ron and hip hop entrepreneur Damon Dash appeared on the program to defend their supposed corruption of young people, to which Damon Dash responded:
So, if you know there is negative in something, try to find the positive as opposed to always talking about the negative. That’s the thing I don’t understand, why we’re criticized so hard within hip-hop. No one talks about the jobs we create, no one talks about the things we do within our community, and no one talks about the businesses we’ve done, how we’ve opened the doors and shown people that it’s cool to be smart, it’s cool to be a CEO, and it’s cool to not take advantage but to reap the benefits of all your labor and to do it fairly.
Bill O’Reilly has also interviewed Marilyn Manson on the topic of being a “dangerous” influence on U.S. youth. O’Reilly asked Manson if he thought his work encouraged kids to have sex, homosexuality, use drugs and profanity. He also asked Manson whether his songs encouraged suicide or not. Marilyn Manson answered that in his view the songs were about getting through those feelings, and that ultimately people make their own decisions.
O’Reilly believes the American news media is corrupt and often criticizes it for not reporting topics that hurt the liberal agenda. He has often stated that he is the only one in the media holding people accountable on both sides. In June 2007, Adweek Magazine sponsored a survey that asked participants who they trusted more as a source of political information between ABC News and O’Reilly. According to the poll, 36 percent believe that O’Reilly is a better source than ABC News, while 26 percent believe the opposite. According to the survey, 23 percent of Democrats believed that O’Reilly was a better source while 55 percent of Republicans believed the same.
O’Reilly has criticized the media for not highlighting Rosie O’Donnell‘s controversial remarks saying the United States attacked itself on September 11th while they highlighted Ann Coulter‘s remarks about calling Senator John Edwards a “fag.” O’Reilly said in response to the situation:
Doing the math, Ms. O’Donnell says something 100 times more offensive than Ms. Coulter, in my opinion, yet there’s no coverage about it. But there’s no left wing media bias in this country. Oh no!
O’Reilly has criticized journalists who donate to political parties after a report stated that nine out of 10 journalists donated to Democrats or liberal causes; he has said this has resulted in news media tilting to the left.
O’Reilly says that news coverage about positive improvements for American and Iraqi objectives in Iraq have been largely ignored. He conjectured that the ignoring of the positive news took place to help a Democrat win a presidential election.
O’Reilly has asked his viewers and listeners to not patronize the following media outfits, saying those organizations “have regularly helped distribute defamatory, false or non-newsworthy information supplied by far-left websites”:
In an interview with commentator Bill Maher, former CBS News anchor Dan Rather accused Fox News Channel of receiving “talking points” from the Republican controlledWhite House. O’Reilly criticized Rather heavily, responding that Rather did not offer any evidence to support the claim. O’Reilly cited his defense of Rather during the Memogate incident:
As you may remember, I defended Rather in the Bush National Guard debacle. I said Rather did not intentionally put on a bogus story. He just didn’t check it out, he was too anxious for the story to be true.
Now many of you criticized me for that defense, but I’m a fact-based guy. And there’s no evidence Dan Rather fabricated anything. It was sloppy reporting that did him in.
But now the fabrication word is in play again. If Dan Rather has evidence of White House dictums coming to FOX News employees, he needs to display that evidence. We are awaiting his appearance. We’ll let you know when it is.
O’Reilly has gone after PBS personality Bill Moyers. O’Reilly criticized Moyers for having no balance in his presentations, citing a criticism by PBS’ own ombudsman. He also called Moyers dishonest for making disparaging remarks about O’Reilly to Rolling Stone and then later denying he made the remarks when confronted by one of O’Reilly’s producers.
CNN journalists were prominent among those critical of O’Reilly when he stated that he “couldn’t get over the fact” that a largely African-American crowd at a Harlem restaurant behaved no differently than patrons of a white restaurant and garnered media coverage O’Reilly objected to CNN’s portrayal of his commentary, stating that CNN had been irresponsible in mischaracterizing his remark as racist, when in fact, he said, he was actually speaking against racism.
O’Reilly scolded MSNBC and CNN for not providing coverage of the ceremony that awarded Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy the Medal of Honor during their primetime shows. O’Reilly said that “[O]n their prime-time broadcast last night, CNN and MSNBC just said no to Lieutenant Michael Murphy and his proud family,” that the networks “despise the Bush administration and believe anything positive like American heroes in war zones, detract from their negative assessment of the administration” and that they should not claim to support the troops and ignore their heroism. MSNBC and CNN had covered the events during their daytime programs.
NBC News and MSNBC
O’Reilly has criticized NBC News and their affiliated cable service MSNBC several times for their coverage of the war in Iraq, claiming that it is biased toward the war’s opponents. He later called NBC News the most “anti-military news operation in the country,” when he cited an example of NBC correspondent William Arkin that called American troops “mercenaries.”
He also criticized the network of trying to downplay the War on Terror in the wake of American casualties in Iraq.
Robert Greenwald, who had directed the controversial documentary Outfoxed that criticized O’Reilly and the Fox News Channel, put together an event of homeless veterans criticizing O’Reilly for calling John Edwards dishonest when Edwards asserted that there were about 200,000 homeless veterans. O’Reilly denied Edwards claim, stating “They may be out there, but there are not many of them out there, OK. So if you know where there is a veteran sleeping under a bridge, you call me immediately, and we will make sure that man does not do it.” After government statistics supported Edwards, O’Reilly then said that there was no linkage between the economy and homeless veterans and claims that Veterans Affairs has up to 150,000 beds ready for them every night. O’Reilly felt Greenwald’s event was a “contrived” situation after O’Reilly’s producers had interviewed some of the homeless veterans whom were protesting and found out that some did not actually hear O’Reilly’s comments. O’Reilly blasted NBC’s Steve Capus and the New York Daily News for covering the event and claimed that Capus did not know about the nature of the event.
O’Reilly called NBC hypocritical for putting supporters of legalizing prostitution in the wake of Democratic Governor of New YorkEliot Spitzer resigning his post after allegedly engaging in the act in an effort and felt they would not be as defensive if a Republican had gotten in trouble.
Although he praised the late Meet the Press host Tim Russert in the past, O’Reilly criticized Russert for what he saw as a misinterpretation of what were seen as potentially racially insensitive comments by former President Bill Clinton. In his comments, Russert challenged Senator Hillary Clinton about her husband’s remarks regarding Senator Barack Obama, when Mr. Clinton referred to Obama’s position on Iraq as a “fairy tale.” O’Reilly said that Russert “should have known better” and realized the former President’s comments were regarding Obama’s Iraq policy and not his entire candidacy.
Tape doctoring incidents
O’Reilly would join in the criticism of others when NBC News was found to have doctored tapes on multiple occasions. The first was about accused killer George Zimmerman that portrayed Zimmerman as having a racial motivation. He also criticized veteran news correspondent Andrea Mitchell for her reporting of a doctored tape of Mitt Romney to portray him as out of touch. After the Sandy Hook Shooting, O’Reilly and others criticized MSNBC’s Martin Bashir of dishonesty when Bashir only played a part of the entire tape that portrayed the father of a victim being heckled when the entire tape showed the audience only saying something after he made it clear he was looking for an answer. O’Reilly criticized MSNBC host Rachel Maddow showed a tape of Senator John McCain portraying him as insensitive to the plight of a person who lost a family member to gun violence. Although Maddow did readily admit the tape may have been doctored, O’Reilly criticized her nonetheless for airing it knowing that it could have been edited.
O’Reilly has accused the print press of purposely misquoting him and using their hard news pages to further their editorial points of view. He has said that print media is too liberal and attacks opposing viewpoints.
In 2003, O’Reilly criticized the Los Angeles Times for endorsing then-governor Gray Davis, who was running against Arnold Schwarzenegger and a whole field of different candidates, including Republicans, Democrats and Independents, in a recall election. He said that he “has never seen a newspaper try to destroy someone as aggressively as the Times is doing.” He also criticized The New York Times on the same issue for referring to Schwarzenegger solely as a bodybuilder. He made the claim that Californians have canceled their subscriptions due to the “extreme left-wing bias” of the newspaper.
O’Reilly frequently criticizes The New York Times, accusing them of omitting information that would be damaging to left-wing organizations and causes.
On March 15, 2007, The New York Times ran an editorial titled “Immigration Misery” that had claimed a “screaming baby girl has been forcibly weaned from breast milk and taken dehydrated to an emergency room so that the nation’s borders will be secure.” Upon further investigation, the only two babies admitted to the hospital in the area of Bedford, Massachusetts (where the raid took place) were due to dehydration because of pneumonia and not as a result of being “forcibly weaned.” O’Reilly alleged that the information in the editorial was falsified and claimed The Times wanted to promote illegal immigration in order to make the illegal immigrants into legal US citizens and register them as Democrats.
On June 2, 2007, Homeland Security stopped a plot by four terror suspects thought to be linked to Al Qaeda. Authorities have alleged that the suspects were trying to blow up an oil pipeline in the Howard Beach section of New York City that carries jet fuel to JFK Airport. O’Reilly went on his program and told his listeners that he expected The Times to report it as a featured story on its Sunday edition for June 3, but found that the story was on page 37. A story that occupied the front page talked about brick laying in India. O’Reilly accused the newspaper of burying the story not to highlight a successful foiled terror plot because it contradicts the paper’s editorial point of view. O’Reilly claims that as polls show most Americans feel Republicans would do a better job of handling a terrorist threat than Democrats, The Times intentionally gave the news less exposure in hopes of influencing their readers’ focus away from issues that Democrats tend to poll weaker than Republicans in. O’Reilly has also said that the paper would highlight any terrorist attack if one was to occur so they may criticize the Bush Administration:
So The Times wins both ways. The paper diminishes the War on Terror by putting it on page 37, but if something bad ever happened, it can attack President Bush.
O’Reilly has accused the paper of being deceptive about television ratings for The O’Reilly Factor against that of MSNBC during the same time slot, citing that the paper felt that MSNBC was “competitive” with his program when O’Reilly’s ratings were significantly higher.
O’Reilly has questioned the paper’s interpretation of violence statistics among veterans of the military. His contention is that the paper is out to disparage the military as being overly violent after returning home from deployment in the War on Terror.
O’Reilly criticized the paper for running an article alleging Senator John McCain had an “inappropriate relationship” during the lobbyist controversy story the paper had. O’Reilly raised the question about why the paper had endorsed McCain on January 25, 2008 for the Republican nomination if they had information that alleged an inappropriate relationship.
In May 2009, O’Reilly severely criticized the paper as “corrupt” for dropping a story about a possible violation of campaign laws by ACORN and the Obama campaign. O’Reilly claimed that sworn testimony before Congress by a former ACORN employee, Anita Moncrief corroborated the story. O’Reilly stated:
Strong evidence suggests the paper killed a story linking ACORN to some Obama people. Instead they ran a general piece stating ACORN has a left-wing bias, knowing that story would be largely ignored while the Obama connection would not be.
In response, the New York Times ombudsman, Clark Hoyt stated it “was a normal and reasonable editorial decision” not to run the article. He said the Times had run four other stories on ACORN. The story in question had remained unpublished because Anita Moncrief had not provided independently verifiable proof. In addition, The Times ombudsman stated that Moncrief had not given sworn testimony to Congress as claimed by O’Reilly, and that she had credibility problems, having been fired from Acorn for employee theft.
O’Reilly has accused a few liberal political websites of “distorting the truth” and “engaging in hatred”:
There are no rules. These people will do and say pretty much anything to harm people with whom they disagree politically. The trend started back in the Clinton–Lewinsky days, and now thousands of bloggers are operating, throwing dirt all over the place. Now they’re not all bad. Some of these bloggers are good, accurate watchdogs. But there are plenty of awful ones.
In summer of 2007, O’Reilly said that the entire field of 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidates (aside from Senator Joseph Biden) went to the Yearly Kos convention that was sponsored by the Daily Kos. He has said that sites like the Kos are taking control of the Democratic Party through intimidation:
As we have been reporting, a group of far-left bloggers has succeeded in frightening most of the Democratic presidential candidates and moving the party significantly to the left, at least in the primary season. The lead intimidators are MoveOn, Media Matters and the vicious Daily Kos. These people savagely attack those with whom they disagree. And the politicians don’t want to become smear targets. So most of the Democratic candidates have agreed to speak at the Kos convention this coming weekend, something that is beyond shameful.
O’Reilly has compared the Huffington Post to the Nazis and the KKK. He also called MoveOn.org the “new Klan.” In response, Arianna Huffington wrote that O’Reilly had confused bloggers with anonymous commentors and suggested he enroll in “How to Use the Internet 101.” Huffington alleged that offensive comments are taken down from her site when confronted by one of O’Reilly’s producers. She also noted that offensive comments are posted by users of O’Reilly’s own site, billoreilly.com. O’Reilly alleged that Huffington had no standards of conduct and did not remove comments about wishing Nancy Reagan had died after she fell that were written on her site. “She says it is down, but it is not. She does not tell the truth.” O’Reilly later alleged that Huffington implied Pope Benedict XVI was a Nazi. O’Reilly referred to a satirical article written by comedian Chris Kelly, which mocked O’Reilly on Huffington’s website.
O’Reilly generally supports the notion of a clean environment, although he has said that he is not entirely certain that fossil fuels are the cause of global warming. Nonetheless, he has expressed support for a long-term strategy to curb fossil fuel use. He has said he would not support the Kyoto Treaty for economic reasons, but supports the use of fewer polluting agents, more conservation, and “tons more innovation” such as tax credits for alternative fuels. He has said that renewable energy is a waste of time because “God controls the climate” and that “nobody can control the climate except God, so give a little extra at mass”.
O’Reilly is a frequent critic of government welfare and poverty programs. He is also critical of the estate tax. However, he does not differentiate between the marginal tax rate (46 percent) and the effective tax rate (roughly nine percent ).
O’Reilly has said French unemployment and subsequent riots are the “common effects of socialist thinking”. He claims the French unemployment rate is high because of entitlements sanctioned by the French government, and that these entitlements make employers hesitant to hire young employees for fear that they will be required to give benefits to underperforming workers.
O’Reilly has been critical of companies doing business with countries that are hostile to the United States. O’Reilly criticized General Electric for doing business with Iran. O’Reilly cited how NBC News‘ correspondent John Hockenberry did a report on Dateline highlighting GE’s business relationship with the Bin Laden family and was criticized by the company, who owns NBC, for the Dateline report.
Free markets, profits, and the oil companies
O’Reilly questions the free market by suggesting that the oil companies need an excuse to raise prices thereby overlooking the fact that in a free market, oil companies have the right to increase prices so as to increase profits or for any other reason. Rather than praise oil companies for their record profits, O’Reilly has been critical of oil companies, claiming their record profits are evidence that they have price-gouged Americans with artificially high gas prices. and has said he is personally boycotting products by Exxon-Mobil. It therefore appears that O’Reilly does not recognize profit maximization as a virtue. He has often taken an opposing point of view to conservatives such as fellow Fox News analyst and commentator, Neil Cavuto. During one discussion on The O’Reilly Factor, Cavuto accused O’Reilly of “push[ing] populist nonsense.” He said blocking Brazilian ethanol imports was “awful” and has criticized both the Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration for not doing enough to stem the cost of oil from “foreign predators”.
In a May 8, 2006 article published at the Jewish World Review, O’Reilly said, “There is no question that illegal workers deliver more profit to business than American workers do. A Harvard study says that the employment of illegal foreign workers has driven down wages among American high school dropouts, the lowest labor pool rung, by 7 percent.”
Bill O’Reilly on his show The O’Reilly Factor has expressed the view that “if everybody followed the teachings of Jesus Christ, […] we’d have peace on earth, […] everybody would love one another, and we’d almost be an idyllic civilization.”
O’Reilly claims that the United States is not doing enough to make itself independent of foreign oil, stating that “There’s no way the ethanol industry could be dominated by five mega-companies. I mean corn and sugar cannot be carteled. The oil racket is simple: We control the marketplace, and you have to buy from us. … If Brazil can develop an ethanol industry that makes it completely independent of foreign oil, then the USA can.”
Story 2: Totalitarians of Lying Lunatic Left Attempt to Suppress Speech of Conservatives, Libertarians, and Classical Liberals — Nothing New — Go On Offense And Attack The Collectivist Totalitarians — Battle For Berkeley — Berkeley Protesters Take the Pepsi Challenge — Why the Right Won — Chief of Police Orders Berkeley Police To Stand Down — Videos
Does Free Speech Offend You?
Ben Shapiro on Free Speech, College Campuses, and The Regressive Left
Ben Shapiro – Practical Tactics For Fighting The Left
UC Berkley Must Be Disciplined For Furthering Leftist Violence Against Conservatives
Amid Mounting Controversy, Media Matters Says It’s Time for Bill OReilly to Go | Cheddar
HIDDEN CAM: Media Matters Brags About Sabotaging Roger Stone
Published on Oct 28, 2016
Project Veritas Action has released the sixth video in a multi-part series that is sending shockwaves through the DNC and the Clinton campaign. In a new video released by Project Veritas Action, a PVA journalist exposes how his pay for play with Robert Creamer landed him a meeting with Bradley Beychock, the President of Media Matters For America, an organization that has been attacking James O’Keefe for years.
During the meeting, Beychock gave the PVA journalist a tour of their offices. He also proudly boasted about the Media Matters assault on conservative writer and political consultant Roger Stone.
Battle of Berkeley: Why the Right Won
Published on Apr 17, 2017
Berkeley erupted into political violence on April 15th, 2017, with leftwing radicals attacking the Freedom Rally hosted by Trump supporters. The Antifa thugs were roundly defeated by the Freedom Rally attendees, but where did this violence start? I discuss the events that lead up to this day and uncover the progression of leftwing violence that’s destroying a city that once celebrated free speech.
Lauren Southern And The Madness Behind The Battle Of Berkeley
THE BEAUTIFUL LAUREN SOUTHERN; ProudBoys and Some Ugly Antifa
The Battle of Berkeley in 81 seconds
Berkeley Protesters Take the Pepsi Challenge
Battle of Berkeley 3 FULL DAY[ANTIFA Vs FREE SPEECH PROTESTERS]Patriots Day Rally Ft. Based Stickman
Trump Supporters chase Antifa down the street at FREE SPEECH Rally in Berkeley
Battle of Berkeley 3 as Antifa circled the park
2017 The Battle for Berkeley LARP!
Patriot’s Day Riot in the Streets
UC Berkeley Cancels Coulter Appearance Over Security Concerns
Conservative Commentator Ann Coulter To Speak At UC Berkeley
Ben Shapiro interviews Ann Coulter; Adios America; 7/13/2015; C-Span
UC Berkeley Presses Campus Republicans To Cancel Another Conservative Speaker
WARNING:TRUMP SUPPORTERS ATTACKED AT BERKELEY BY ANTI TRUMP PROTESTERS
Free Speech Battle For Berkeley, California! | Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux
Lauren Southern Coverage of Antifa vs Trump Supporters Battle
Berkeley April 15,Based stick man Antifa smashing
ANTIFA VS America Compilation
Antifa Reddit Admits They Lost Berkeley Battle with Trump Supporters
Berkeley April 15,BAMN leader Yvette Felarca assaults patriots
Berkeley Leftists Riot Against Milo (Mini Documentary: Arrest Yvette Felarca Part 2)
Handicap Senior Citizen U.S Military Vet Stands Up & Cucks Antifa
Is It Wrong To Bash Antifa Leftist Scum?
Berkeley Police Refuse To Stop the Riots – When Told People are Being Beaten, Officer Says “…and?”
Steyn: Media annoyed someone has outfaked their fake news
BILL O’REILLY EXPOSES GEORGE SOROS
EXPOSED : George Soros Owned Media Matters Sabotages Pro Trump Media
George Soros Lost Interview Compilation – Left Wing Oligarch
George Soros exposed!
George Soros Warns The World About Fox News And How Dangerous IT Really Is
George Soros, Puppet Master
Mark Levin: Media Matters is “A Criminal Enterprise”!
Andrew Breitbart — Media War
Thomas Sowell — Dismantling America
TAKE IT TO THE LIMITS: Milton Friedman on Libertarianism
Andrew Breitbart Predicted and Warned us about George Soro’s Media Matters Controlling our Media
One World Government & Collectivism – G. Edward Griffin
The Quigley Formula – G. Edward Griffin lecture
The Mainstream Media Are Enemies of Freedom, Agents of Tyranny and Must Be Overthrown
Super rich are in a conspiracy to rule the world – G. Edward Griffin – 2007
Antifa and Conservatives Throw Down At ‘Battle Of Berkeley’…
TEAM CROWDERMONDAY APRIL 17 2017
In the course of history, there have been many great battles. Thermopylae. Gettysburg. Tupac and Biggie. The forces of good and douchebag have long utilized beating the crap out of each other to resolve their grievances. Well, last weekend, yet another battle was had. Conservative and leftist blood alike was shed at what shall henceforth be referred to as the Battle of Berkeley…
For the third time this year, Trump supporters and Antifa clashed on the streets of Berkeley, California. The two forces met Saturday during the pro-Trump Patriot Day rally.
Berkeley Police have arrested at least 15 people this morning and afternoon, after antifascists met Trump supporters at a pro-Trump rally. Police attempted to maintain order with poles and fence mesh, but the barriers did not stop the two sides from violently engaging.
Trump supporters had organized a Patriot Day rally, starring Lauren Southern, a former reporter for conservative Canadian outlet The Rebel Media and Kyle Chapman, a man who achieved internet stardom as “Based Stickman” after assaulting a member of Antifa with a stick at the March 4 scuffle in Berkeley, among others.
Berkeley police have confiscated banned items such as knives, flagpoles, and sticks used as weapons.
Story 1: Turkey Votes To Change From Parliamentary to Presidential System of Government — Videos —
Where’s Turkey headed after its referendum? – Inside Story
Turkey Referendum: Erdogan’s new grip on power
Dispute over Turkey’s referendum results continues
Is Turkey Becoming a Dictatorship?: Erdogan Claims Victory in Vote to Give President Sweeping Powers
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The Truth about Turkeys failed Coup (CIA designed Civil War)
Lionel on the Alex Jones Show: Syria False Flags, North Korea Lies, French Elections & Media Lies
The Idiot’s Guide to Turkey, Erdogan and the Phony Coup
Turkish Referendum Erdogan Wins ! | The Millennial Revolt
Published on Apr 16, 2017
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory in a referendum granting him sweeping new powers, hailing the result as an “historic decision”. The leader called on the international community to respect the result and discouraged his critics from “belittling” the outcome, saying they “shouldn’t try, it will be in vain”. The state-run Anadolu news agency claimed that 51 per cent per cent of voters had sided with the “Yes” campaign, ushering in the most radical change to the country’s political system in modern time.
But the main opposition the Republican People’s Party (CHP) said they would demand a recount of up to 40 per cent of the vote, saying that “illegal acts” occurred during the vote and that there were up to 2.5m “problematic ballots”. The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) also claimed they had information that voter fraud was implicated in up to four per cent of the ballots. Both parties said they would appeal the results. CLICK LINKS FOR SOURCES
Story 2: Coalition Against Islamic State in Syria — What is Next: Wrath of Euphrates: The Battle for Raqqa: Isolate and Assault — Take No Prisoners — Videos
US eyes assault on ISIS stronghold
CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh talks to Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend near Mosul, Iraq, where coalition forces hope to make a push toward Raqqa, ISIS’ center of control in Syria.
U.S.-Led Coalition Has ‘Made Adjustments’ In Syria To Account For ‘Tensions’
Wrath of Euphrates Op: US troops spotted near Raqqa frontline (EXCLUSIVE)
400 US troops deployed outside ISIS capital Raqqa
Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS
Raqqa Battle Phase 3 outcome
Beginning of a new phase to free Raqqa
Battle for Raqqa. First phase of Wrath of Euphrates Initiative ends successfully.
Published on Nov 12, 2016
12 Nov 2016 Syria. Raqqa.
SDF, YPG, YPJ and International Brigade fighters had began to advance from Siluk and Eyn İsa southwards from two directions on November 5.
The Siluk branch has cleared an area of 30 kms and the Ayn İsa branch has cleared an area of 15 kms from ISIS gangs. Yesterday, the two branches united along the Beliz creek.
After the liberation of Xınıse and the unification of the two branches of fighters, the first phase of the initiative ended successfully.
Civilians flee Raqqa as Syrian forces advance
More U.S. Troops heading to Raqqa, Syria to fight ISIS
18 Allied Fighters Killed In US Led Syria Strike
100s killed following US-led airstrike in Syria
Assad: No one invited US to Manbij, all foreign troops in Syria without permission are ‘invaders’
U.S. military says misdirected airstrike in northern Syria killed 18 allied fighters
Syria: Kurdish fighters make gains against IS behind enemy lines
Ross Kemp The Fight Against Isis
Turkey and Russia join forces against Islamic State
US Joins Ground Forces with Kurds, Syrian, & Russian Fighters Against ISIS in Syria
Targeting the High Value Terrorists
On The Road To Raqqa – Heavy Clashes Between Kurdish Forces And ISIS During The Battle Of Raqqa
US soldiers help Iraqi troops secure Mosul
Satellite Imagery: The Cutting of Mosul’s Bridges
Satellite Imagery: The Islamic State’s Mosul Defenses
Satellite Images: The Islamic State’s Scorched Earth Tactics
Why Did the Iraq War Start? The Untold Story – Seymour Hersh – Reasons, Justification (2005)
The Breathtaking Incoherence of American Foreign Policy as to North Korea and Syria
‘Defeating ISIS No.1 US goal’: Tillerson at coalition summit coinciding with London attack
Trump Gives Generals More Freedom on ISIS Fight
Pentagon brass take lead on decisions that were made by White House under Obama; ‘I authorize my military,’ Trump says
U.S. Army trainers watch as an Iraqi recruit fires at a military base in Iraq. PHOTO: JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES
Dion Nissenbaum in Washington and
Maria Abi-Habib in Beirut
Updated April 14, 2017 10:29 p.m. ET
U.S. military commanders are stepping up their fight against Islamist extremism as President Donald Trump’s administration urges them to make more battlefield decisions on their own.
As the White House works on a broad strategy, America’s top military commanders are implementing the vision articulated by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis: Decimate Islamic State’s Middle East strongholds and ensure that the militants don’t establish new beachheads in places such as Afghanistan.
“There’s nothing formal, but it is beginning to take shape,” a senior U.S. defense official said Friday. “There is a sense among these commanders that they are able to do a bit more—and so they are.”
While military commanders complained about White House micromanagement under former President Barack Obama, they are now being told they have more freedom to make decisions without consulting Mr. Trump. Military commanders around the world are being encouraged to stretch the limits of their existing authorities when needed, but to think seriously about the consequences of their decisions.
The more muscular military approach is expanding as the Trump administration debates a comprehensive new strategy to defeat Islamic State. Mr. Mattis has sketched out such a global plan, but the administration has yet to agree on it. While the political debate continues, the military is being encouraged to take more aggressive steps against Islamic extremists around the world.
The firmer military stance has fueled growing concerns among State Department officials working on Middle East policy that the Trump administration is giving short shrift to the diplomatic tools the Obama administration favored. Removing the carrot from the traditional carrot-and-stick approach, some State Department officials warn, could hamper the pursuit of long-term strategies needed to prevent volatile conflicts from reigniting once the shooting stops.
Gen. Nicholson said Friday it was too early to say how many militants had been killed in the previous day’s bombing. The Afghan Defense Ministry retracted an earlier statement that the strike had killed 36 militants, saying it was unable to provide precise figures yet.
A military official for the coalition who viewed footage of the bombing said it was difficult to make out details of its effects beyond a “mushroom cloud” of smoke rising into the sky. He added that a second MOAB was available for use in the country, but no decision had been made on whether it should be deployed.
Islamic State’s Amaq news agency posted a statement on Friday saying none of its fighters were killed or wounded in the strike, which took place in Nangarhar province, along the country’s mountainous border with Pakistan.
Gen. Nicholson indicated that he—not the White House—decided to drop the bomb. “The ammunition we used last night is designed to destroy caves and tunnels. This was the right weapon against the right target,” he told reporters Friday. “I am fortunate that my chain of command allows me the latitude to make assessments on the ground.”
A senior administration official said Mr. Trump didn’t know about the weapon’s use until it had been dropped.
Mr. Mattis “is telling them, ‘It’s not the same as it was, you don’t have to ask us before you drop a MOAB,’” the senior defense official said. “Technically there’s no piece of paper that says you have to ask the president to drop a MOAB. But last year this time, the way [things were] meant, ‘I’m going to drop a MOAB, better let the White House know.’”
Indeed, on Thursday Mr. Trump himself emphasized the free rein he gives the Pentagon. “I authorize my military,” Mr. Trump said. “We have given them total authorization.”
On Friday, the U.S. military said it has sent dozens of soldiers to Somalia, where Mr. Trump recently gave the head of the U.S. Africa Command more leeway to carry out counterterrorism operations against al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate in the area.
The more aggressive military approach comes as the long slog against Islamic State is bearing fruit. The group is on the back foot in its Iraqi stronghold, Mosul, and is facing a hard battle to defend its de facto Syrian capital, Raqqa.
The U.S. has sent more forces into Iraq and Syria, stepped up support for Saudi Arabia’s fight against Houthi militants in Yemen, and dispatched an aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula amid growing evidence that North Korea is preparing for a new nuclear test.
Loren DeJonge Schulman, who served as senior adviser to Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, said a more assertive military campaign is destined to fail unless it is part of a broader strategy against Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.
“It’s crazy that the Trump administration thinks that ‘taking the gloves off’ is either a winning strategy against ISIL or a useful narrative for the White House or the military,” said Ms. Schulman, now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
Derek Chollet, a former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in the Obama administration, said giving the Pentagon more freedom is one of the most significant things Mr. Trump has done.
“It’s not clear to me that he’s making any tough decisions,” said Mr. Chollet, now executive vice president at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “All that he’s essentially done is ceded decision authority down to protect himself from making tough calls.”
The flip side of the Trump administration’s emphasis on a more-free-wheeling military approach to Islamic State is an apparent reduction of the use of soft-power tools—economic development, diplomacy and democracy-building—favored by the Obama White House.
Some State Department officials describe being cut out from the White House’s counterterrorism strategy in the Mideast, with efforts to nurture democratic governments and push for more secular education systems carrying less weight in the White House’s evolving approach.
“State is being systematically sidelined,” said a State Department official who has worked on counterterrorism issues in Washington and abroad.
The official said the White House strategy of prioritizing military might over diplomacy makes it hard to persuade Mideast allies to relax their grip on power. Many of Washington’s closest Arab allies are autocratic regimes guilty of human-rights abuses that critics say fuel terrorism.
“The problem there is that in many of the places where you need carrots, those carrots are often seen as threats to local governments,” the official said, referring to democracy and society-building programs the State Department funds across the Mideast.
Egypt offers a prime example of the Trump administration’s leanings. When Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, a military strongman, visited the White House earlier this month, Mr. Trump gave him a warm welcome. Mr. Obama had refused to meet him because of his regime’s alleged human-rights abuses.
U.S. officials in the Mideast say a counterterror approach that focuses solely on military might without programs to fight the causes that feed extremism could backfire, leading groups like Islamic State to go underground and wait for future opportunities to re-emerge. They are particularly concerned about Raqqa, where a U.S.-led military coalition is closing in around the city but post-liberation stabilization plans aren’t finalized as State Department officials wait for White House guidance.
—Jessica Donati and Habib Khan Totakhil in Kabul and Carol E. Lee in Washington contributed to this article.
After the start of the Battle of Mosul (2016–17) in Iraq, many of the 20,000 ISIL fighters estimated to be living in the city fled to Raqqa, boosting the ISIL forces that were already present in their de facto capital city.
The SDF officially announced the start of the operation on 6 November in the village of Ayn Issa. The intention was to proceed in two phases, first seizing areas around Raqqa and isolating the city, advancing from three fronts, then taking control of the city itself. The SDF general command called for the international coalition against ISIL to support the operation. In response, Ash Carter welcomed the announcement and emphasized the importance of capturing Raqqa and defeating ISIL, while cautioning that “there is hard work ahead”.
Phase One: Isolating Raqqa from its northern hinterland
Tal Saman, ISIL headquarters in the northern Raqqa countryside, after being captured by the SDF.
On 6 November, the SDF captured six small villages, including the villages of Wahid, Umm Safa, Wasita, Haran, al-Adriyah and Jurah south and southeast of Ayn Issa. The Islamic State detonated four car bombs on the first day of the offensive.
On 8 November, the SDF reported that they had taken control of 11 villages near Ain Issa. The SDF also claimed that ISIL used several car bombs against their forces. By 11 November, the SDF had captured over a dozen villages and the strategically significant town of Al-Hisbah, which had served as a local headquarters and command center for ISIL. On the next day, the SDF continued to advance against ISIL in the area around Tal Saman and Khnez, bringing the number of captured farms and villages to 26.
As of 14 November, the SDF reported the completion of the initial phase of the operations, stating that 500 km2has been captured: 34 villages, 31 hamlets and seven strategic hills, along with 167 Islamic State casualties.The SDF had also begun to besiege Tal Saman, the largest village and ISIL headquarters north of Raqqa, while ISIL launched a counter-attack near Salok in the eastern countryside of Raqqa Governorate in order to force the SDF to split its forces and open a new front. On the next day, the SDF advanced into Tal Saman, resulting in a fierce battle with its ISIL defenders. At the same time, the SDF also captured 10 more villages and farms. By 19 November, the SDF had fully captured Tal Saman and had driven ISIL completely from the surrounding countryside. With this, the first phase of the offensive was considered completed.On 20 November 2016, 200 fighters completed training, joined the SDF, and were sent to participate in the offensive.
The second phase of the offensive aimed to enforce a full blockade of the city of Raqqa. On 21 November, the SDF captured two more villages, while ISIL launched a counter-attack near Tal Saman. Over the next days, the SDF attempted to further advance, such as at al-Qalita, but was unable to break through ISIL’s defense line south of Tal Saman. On 24 November, a US serviceman died from wounds he suffered after stepping on an improvised explosive device near the town of Ayn Issa, to the north of Raqqa.
On 25 November, ISIL received reinforcements from Iraq, among them explosive experts and defected Iraqi Army personnel. On the next day, ISIL launched a counter-attack, retaking parts of Qaltah village and a nearby water pump station, while the SDF managed to advance in the village’s vicinity. Boubaker Al-Hakim, an ISIL commander who was linked to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, was reported to have been killed in an American airstrike in Raqqa on 26 November. Iraqi military however later stated in April 2017 that he might still be alive.
On 27 November, the SDF announced the offensive’s second phase was due to start, though this was then delayed. At least five SDF fighters were killed in renewed clashes north of Raqqa on 29 November. Meanwhile, ISIL suffered from the defection of two senior commanders, who fled from Raqqa to join Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Idlib. On 4 December, a coalition drone strike in Raqqa killed two ISIL leaders who had helped facilitate the November 2015 Paris attacks and another who was involved in a foiled suicide attack in Belgium in 2015. Three days later, co-Chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Salih Muslim said that the first phase to surround Raqqa was almost over, while a new Arab brigade consisting of more than 1,000 men and women from the al-Raqqa area had joined the SDF as part of the second phase which was slated to be launched on 10 December. More than 1,500 Arab fighters who were trained and equipped by the anti-ISIL coalition joined the SDF for the second phase on its launch day.
Phase Two: Isolating Raqqa from its western countryside
SDF fighters advance northwest of Raqqa after the start of the offensive’s second phase.
The SDF launched the second phase on 10 December, with the aim of capturing the northwestern and western countrysides of al-Raqqa and ultimately reaching and securing the Tabqa Dam. The same day, it was announced that Arab SDF groups, consisting of the Elite Forces, Jabhat Thuwar al-Raqqa and the newly formed Deir Ezzor Military Council would be taking part. During the first day, the SDF began to advance south of the Tishrin Dam and captured al-Kiradi village. The United States announced that it would send 200 more troops to assist the SDF. The next day, the SDF captured seven more villages from ISIL. On 12 December, the SDF captured four villages as well as many hamlets south of Tishrin Dam. The SDF captured five villages during the next two days. On 15 December, the SDF captured three villages, taking the total number of villages captured by them in the second phase to 20.
Over the next four days, the SDF captured 20 more villages, while finally reaching Lake Assad‘s shore, thereby cutting off and besieging 54 ISIL-held villages to the west. In response to these territorial losses, ISIL began to carry out more suicide attacks against both the SDF as well as civilian targets within SDF-controlled areas in an attempt to hinder the offensive. On 19 December, ISIL launched a counter-attack to regain four villages in the northwestern countryside, but the attack was repelled after a few hours. The following night, ISIL forces retreated largely unopposed from the besieged 54 villages, leaving them to be captured by the SDF. The SDF declared that they had captured 97 villages overall during the second phase, and had begun to advance against Qal’at Ja’bar.
On 21 December, the SDF seized five villages near Qal’at Ja’bar, including Jabar, which served as the main weaponry storage and supply centre for ISIL in the northwestern countryside. The coalition then began to move toward Suwaydiya Saghirah and Suwaydiya Kabir, the last villages before Tabqa Dam. Even though an ISIL counter-attack managed to retake Jabar village soon after, the SDF attacked again on 23 December, and once again took control of it, while also capturing another village. This prompted ISIL to launch yet another counter-attack later that day, which was accompanied by several suicide car bombs. As a result, heavy clashes took place between them and SDF fighters in several villages along the frontline that lasted until the early morning of 24 December. The ISIL forces were eventually forced to withdraw after the SDF first shelled and then stormed their positions, whereupon the latter took control of most of Jabar as well as two more villages, though some ISIL holdouts persisted in Jabar.
ISIL was pushed out of the neighboring, strategic village of Eastern Jabar on the next day, bringing SDF within 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) of Tabqa Dam, and by 26 December, the SDF had finally fully secured the main Jabar village, with the last ISIL defenders being expelled after heavy fighting. An ISIL counterattack on the village later that day failed, with a US airstrike killing Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti as he commanded the assault. Al-Kuwaiti, also known as Abdulmuhsin al-Zaghelan al-Tarish, was a high-ranking ISIL commander leading the defense of the whole Raqqa region against the SDF. Meanwhile, the Amaq News Agency declared that Iman Na’im Tandil (nom de guerre: Abu ‘Umar Al-Hindi), one of the few Indian ISIL fighters active in Syria, had also been killed during the fighting near Jabar. The Islamic State’s official media wing later also officially paid tribute to Iman.
Battle for Jabar’s surroundings
A YPGBMP, loaded on a truck, being transported to the frontline near Mahmudli on 4 January.
On 27 December, ISIL launched an attack on the village of Secol in the northern countryside, reportedly breaching the local SDF defences. On the next day, the SDF reportedly captured Hadaj village after two days of heavy fighting, while another ISIL counter-attack against Jabar was repelled. Mahmud al-Isawi, a senior ISIL facilitator who was a manager of instructions and finances for the group’s leaders as well as a provider of propaganda and intelligence support, was killed on 31 December in a US-led coalition airstrike on Raqqa. After three days of heavy fighting, the SDF captured all or most of Mahmudli, the largest town of the Al-Jarniyah Subdistrict, on 1 January 2017. ISIL counterattacked later in an attempt to regain the town. The SDF leadership said that in the clashes since the launch of the second phase they had captured 110 villages, killed 277 ISIL fighters, and captured 13.
Also on January 1, the SDF resumed its offensive on the northern front, reportedly advancing 6 km south of Tell Saman against ISIL positions. The SDF reportedly captured nine more villages in this area, within the next three days. Meanwhile, with the SDF edging closer to Raqqa, ISIL further restricted Internet access and increased surveillance over Internet users in Raqqa. There were harsh punishments for accessing anti-ISIL websites, with a new special unit within the ISIL’s security office searching for offenders. Several online activists in Raqqa were captured and tortured or executed. Another two villages and hamlets were captured by the SDF on 5 January.
SDF fighters examine Qal’at Ja’bar. ISIL had built tunnels and weapons depots into the medieval castle.
The SDF captured Qal’at Ja’bar (Ja’bar Castle) from ISIL on 6 January. The same day, ISIL was reported to have moved its 150 prisoners from Tabqa city due to the offensive. The SDF later captured eight villages and five hamlets at the Ayn Issa front. On 7 January, the SDF captured five villages including the strategic Suwaydiya Gharbi and Suwaydiya Saghirah, reaching the outskirts of Tabqa Dam. ISIL reportedly recaptured Suwaydiya Saghirah by the next day after a counterattack, while a local leader of the group was killed in clashes. Meanwhile, ISIL was reported to have withdrawn 150 of its fighters towards Raqqa city.
On 8 January 2017, US special forces raided the village of Al-Kubar, between Ar-Raqqah and Deir ez-Zor, killing at least 25 ISIL militants in the two-hour operation. It was believed that the goal of the US may have been to rescue hostages from an ISIL secret prison in the village. After the raid, ISIL forces cut off access to the village.
On 9 January, the SDF captured another village, along with three hamlets.
On 10 January, ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack at the Jabar frontline and reportedly recaptured several sites; with pro-Free Syrian Army sources claiming Qal’at Ja’bar and the village of Jabar were among these. ISIL consequently released photos of dead SDF fighters, while claiming that over 70 of them had been killed in the counter-attack. However, the SDF was reported to still be in control of Jabar village and Qalat Jabar a few days later.
An ISIL attack on Jib Shair village, trying to resist SDF advances from the north, was repelled on the next day, after which the SDF advanced and captured six hamlets around it. The SDF later announced that their forces advancing from the Ayn Issa front and on the Qadiriya front linked up in Kurmanju village after capturing several villages over the past few days, besieging a large pocket of about 45 villages and 20 hamlets. All of them were captured by the next day, resulting in the alliance gaining about 460 square kilometres (180 sq mi) of land. Another village was captured by the SDF on 13 January. On 15 January, the SDF progressed to Suwaydiya Kabir village, while ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack against Mahmudli and a nearby village, resulting in clashes within these settlements. The attack was repelled after several hours of fighting. The SDF captured three villages during the day, while Suwaydiya Saghirah was also reported to be under its control again. On 17 January 2017, 28 Arab tribes from Raqqa announced their support for the offensive and encouraged locals to join the SDF.
The SDF attacked Suwaydiya Kabir on the next day, leading to heavy clashes in the village. Meanwhile, it was announced that about 2,500 local fighters had joined the offensive since it began. On 19 January, ISIL launched a counter-attack against Suwaydiya Saghirah, supported by mortars and heavy machine guns, killing or wounding several YPG fighters. Despite this, the SDF made further progress on the next day, capturing a village and advancing against many other ISIL-held villages. The SDF again attacked Suwaydiya Kabir on 20 January, reaching the outskirts of the village, and captured it on 22 January after heavy clashes, with the support of U.S. special forces.
Tabqa Dam raid and further SDF advances in the north
In late January 2017, it was reported that a number of ISIL militants were hiding inside the structure of the Tabqa Dam, including senior militant leaders who used to be “very important prisoners” wanted by the US and several other countries, in order to deter a possible US-led coalition strike on them.
On 23 January, the SDF began to advance on the Tabqa Dam, spurring ISIL to open its turbines to raise the Euphrates River’s water levels. This was seen as an attempt to hinder the progress of the Kurdish-led forces and a scare tactic, and caused the water level of the Euphrates to rise to its highest level in 20 years, leading to record flooding downstream. Coinciding with this, pro-SDF sources reported that US special forces and SDF units had launched a raid against Al-Thawrah across the river. By 24 January, SDF forces had managed to capture parts of the town, and SDF forces on the dam began working towards the Tabqa Dam’s control rooms, at the southern part of the dam, in an attempt to stop the massive outflow of water released by ISIL. However, the entrance to the dam’s control rooms was too well defended, and with the continued threat of disastrous flooding downstream, SDF and the US forces withdrew from both the Tabqa Dam and the town of Al-Thawrah, after which ISIL closed the dam’s turbines again.
Over the next three days, ISIL repeatedly launched fierce counter-attacks against SDF positions in the western and northern countryside. ISIL managed to retake ground in the area around the dam, but the attack was later repelled.
Preparation for the third phase
An SDF IAG Guardian armoured personnel carrier in February 2017, one of several APCs that were supplied by the United States to the SDF.
On 31 January 2017, the SDF received a number of armoured personnel carriers supplied by the US. The SDF spokesman stated that preparations for a new phase of the operation were continuing and the operation would begin in “a few days”. Meanwhile, the leader of the SDF-aligned Syria’s Tomorrow Movement and its paramilitary wing, Ahmad Jarba, announced that 3,000 Arab fighters under his command were training with US special forces to be deployed in the battle for Raqqa against ISIL.
On the night of 2–3 February, intense CJTF–OIR airstrikes targeted several bridges in or near Raqqa city, destroying them as well as the local water pipelines, leaving the city without drinking water. Meanwhile, the SDF advanced against the village of Qaltah in the northern countryside, which the coalition had already unsuccessfully attacked in November. ISIL maintenance crews managed to fix the pipelines during 3 February, restoring Raqqa’s water supply. On 3 February, 251 Arab fighters in Hasaka completed their training and joined the SDF.
Phase Three: Isolating Raqqa from its eastern countryside
On 4 February, the SDF announced the offensive’s third phase, aiming at capturing Raqqa’s eastern countryside, and to separate Raqqa city from ISIL forces in Deir ez-Zor, though operations in the west and north would continue simultaneously. The SDF captured a village and three hamlets to the northeast of Raqqa later that day, with clashes being reported at al-Qaltah and Bir Said, while 750 Arabs completed training and joined the SDF. On the next day, the Kurdish-led forces captured another two villages along with a hamlet and two farms, and besieged Bir Said, while especially intense airstrikes hit several ISIL targets in Al-Thawrah. Bir Said, along with another village, was eventually captured by the SDF on 6 February. In addition to these villages, the SDF also captured another five villages on two fronts. The SDF made further progress, capturing three more villages on 7 February. In early February 2017, US-led coalition airstrikes destroyed much of the Deir ez-Zor-Raqqa highway, reducing it to a single-file gravel road in some spots, with the SDF patrolling other areas with minefields, in order to prevent ISIL from reinforcing Raqqa city. By this point, almost all of the five bridges leading to Raqqa had been destroyed either by the US-led coalition or by ISIL, with the only exceptions being the Tabqa Dam and the Baath Dam, both west of Raqqa city.
As these advances continued, ISIL responded by launching several unsuccessful counter-attacks against Suwaydiya Kabir and other strategic territories captured by the SDF. On 8 and 9 February, the SDF advanced at the northern and northeastern frontline, capturing several villages and besieging Mizella, a major strategic ISIL stronghold in the northern countryside. The advance put them within 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) of Raqqa. The SDF captured Mizella the next day. The two fronts of the alliance converged on 11 February as it also captured two villages and wheat silos to the north of Raqqa during the day; the next day, the SDF attempted to cross the Balikh River northeast of Raqqa, leading to heavy fighting with local ISIL defenders. On 12 February, a large-scale counter-attack by ISIL reportedly succeeded in retaking Suwaydiya Kabir and four other nearby villages. However, pro-YPG sources denied these reports. Another counterattack was carried out by ISIL to the northeast of Raqqa where the SDF had advanced to, leading to heavy clashes between both sides. Clashes continued over the next few days. On 16 February, 165 more SDF fighters completed training and joined the offensive.
On 17 February 2017, the SDF announced the launch of the second stage of the third phase, aimed at capturing the eastern countryside of Raqqa near Deir ez-Zor, with the Deir Ezzor Military Council leading the operation. On the same day the SDF captured two villages from ISIL to the north of Deir ez-Zor and came within 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) of the northeast of Raqqa, while the Russian Air Force conducted airstrikes on ISIL forces in Raqqa city for the second time since its entry into the war. The next day, the SDF captured another village to the southwest of the Makman front (north of Deir ez-Zor) as well as another near Raqqa. On 18 February, the SDF stormed a prison a few kilometres northeast of Raqqa, freeing some of the inmates. They later captured three villages in Deir ez-Zor’s northern countryside. On the next day, the SDF captured five villages to the east of Raqqa. On 20 February, they captured four villages on the Makmen front, including the strategic village of Sebah al-Xêr as well as a base station of Syriatel, thus cutting off the road between Makman and Raqqa and besieging three ISIL-held villages. Furthermore, the SDF took control of a significant bridge over the Balikh River on the western front.
On 21 February, the SDF captured two villages on the Makman front and another one near Raqqa. ISIL later again assaulted Suwaydiya Kabir, attacking it from three fronts, leading to heavy fighting around it. The SDF continued advancing in the eastern countryside of Raqqa on 22 February, capturing three villages, and merging the two fronts at Makman and Bir Hebe. A YPJ commander declared that the SDF had cut the road to Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. The SDF stated that it had entered Deir ez-Zor Governorate for the first time in the offensive. On the next day, they captured six villages and sixteen hamlets.
Opening of a new front
On 24 February, the SDF captured four villages in the Makman front and another three in a fourth front to the northeast of Deir ez-Zor. They captured the strategic Abu Khashab village later that day. On 25 February, they captured another three villages on the fourth front.
On 26 February, a US airstrike near Tabqa Dam destroyed a former government facility which was being used as a headquarters by ISIL. The airstrike’s vicinity to the dam’s structure led to fears that the dam could potentially be destabilized or destroyed during the fighting. Later that day, it was reported that the SDF had captured the village of Al-Kubar, on the northern bank of the Euphrates in the Deir ez-Zor countryside, further tightening the siege on Raqqa. On 28 February, it was reported that the US-led coalition had completely destroyed the Tabqa Airbase in an airstrike.
On 27 February, the plan that the Pentagon submitted to US President Trump to significantly speed up the fight against ISIL included a significant increase in US participation in the Raqqa campaign, with the possibility of the US increasing its ground presence on the Raqqa front to 4,000–5,000 troops.
Advance to the Raqqa-Deir Ezzor highway
YPG/SDF fighters on the bank of the Euphrates east of Raqqa.
The offensive resumed on 5 March, with the SDF capturing at least seven villages and 15 hamlets to the northeast of the Euphrates River, east of Raqqa. The offensive had previously been paused due to bad weather, according to the SDF. The area captured by SDF forces on that day was about 19 square kilometers, and about 32 ISIL militants were killed in the clashes. After further advances on 6 March, the SDF cut the highway between Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, which was the last road out of the city, and reached the Euphrates River. The SDF captured six villages, the Al-Kubar Military Base (a former nuclear facility), and the Zalabiye Bridge, during the day. On 8 March, the SDF took control of the strategic West Menxer hill in the eastern countryside, while elements of the US 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit were deployed to northern Syria, bringing with them an artillery battery of M777 howitzers to support the attack on Raqqa. Meanwhile, about 150 ISIL militants from Hama and Deir-ez Zor managed to reinforce Raqqa, by crossing the Euphrates, despite the partial siege that had been imposed by the SDF on the city.
On 9 March, SDF captured the strategic East Menxer hill and captured three villages on two different fronts. Two villages, including Kubar, were captured on the front to the far east of Raqqa, and one near Raqqa. 244 Arab fighters from the Raqqa countryside also joined the SDF during the day, for the protection of the people in the region. On the next day, SDF forces advancing from the Abu Khashab front captured three villages, including two near Kubar. On 12 March, the SDF captured Khas Ujayl village, to the southeast of Raqqa, on the Abu Khashab front, while ISIL continued to launch repeated counterattacks in the area, in an attempt to check the SDF advances. Meanwhile, 230 ISIL fighters entered Raqqa to reinforce the city.
On 14 March, the SDF captured the Khass Hibal village, as well as the Al-Kulayb grain silos, along the Raqqa-Deir Ezzor highway. An SDF spokeswoman stated that Raqqa had been isolated. The advance of the SDF put them in control of the land region used by ISIL to connect to their territories in the east, stretching from al-Kubar to the northern bank of the Euphrates and measuring 30 kilometres (19 mi). The SDF captured the Hamad Asaf silos and the Al Kulayb village the next day. Hamad Assaf was also reportedly captured. On 17 March, a YPG commander stated that the SDF planned to storm Raqqa city in April 2017, and that the YPG would be participating in the attack, despite the fierce opposition from the Turkish government. However, Pentagon Spokesman Jeff Davis denied that any decision regarding when and how an assault on Raqqa city will be carried out. Meanwhile, clashes continued to take place around Khas Ujayl.
The town of al-Karama, after the SDF had captured it from ISIL.
Heavy clashes took place in the town of al-Karama, to the east of Raqqa, on 19 March. On the next day, SDF captured al-Karama, along with Jarqa village as well as a train station and water pumping station nearby. On 21 March, it was reported again that the SDF had captured Hamad Assaf in the eastern countryside from the Abu Khashab front. Another village was captured on 22 March from the Abu Khashab front. Meanwhile, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RIBSS) stated that coalition airstrikes hit a school being used as a shelter for displaced people in a village to the west of Raqqa on 20 March. SOHR stated that 33 civilians were killed in the airstrikes while RIBSS stated that it was unknown what happened to 50 families who were there. The SDF continued advancing in the eastern Raqqa countryside on 23 March, capturing two more villages on the Abu Khashab front, allowing them to capture a small ISIL pocket.On 24 March, the SDF took control of two more villages in the eastern countryside of Raqqa.
Battle for al-Tabqa countryside and other advances
On 22 March, the SDF began an assault to capture the Tabqa Dam, al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, and its airbase. Five hundred SDF fighters and five hundred US Special Forces from CJTF–OIR were airlifted by helicopters of the United States military, across the Euphrates River and Lake Assad, and were dropped on the Shurfa Peninsula to the west of Al-Thawrah. The attack was supported by artillery support from United States Marines, as well as air support. SDF and US forces also landed on the Jazirat al-‘Ayd Island (or Peninsula) to the west of Tabqa Dam, capturing it as well. Four villages southwest of Tabqa were captured in the attack, including Abu Hurayrah, al-Mushayirafah, al-Krain, and al-Jameen. The SDF advanced towards the town of Al-Thawrah, where fliers were dropped, asking residents to stay indoors and avoid clashing against ISIL for now. These fliers were also dropped on Raqqa city. An anti-ISIL coalition spokesman announced that the advance had cut off the highway linking the Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, and Raqqa Governorates. He added that around 75-80% of the attacking force consisted of Arab fighters, with the rest being Kurds. The SDF stated that the advance was also meant to block any advance on Raqqa by the Syrian Arab Army from the west.
On the same day, SDF and US forces stormed the Tabqa Dam, triggering “intense” clashes with ISIL forces. US officials stated that it may take several weeks to capture Tabqa Dam, Al-Thawrah city, and the surrounding countryside from ISIL. Airstrikes by the coalition on Tabqa city were reported to have killed about 25 civilians. On 23 March, some early reports circulated that the SDF had captured Tabqa Dam from ISIL, after clashing with ISIL forces for a few hours. However, these reports were unconfirmed by other sources, with neither the SDF or CENTCOM confirming the capture of Tabqa Dam, and Rudaw reported that the SDF was still preparing to capture it. SDF spokesman Talal Silo stated during the day that they were still advancing on the dam and the city and expected to attack the dam soon. Later on the same day, it was reported that ISIL was redeploying a large number of fighters from the Deir ez-Zor Province to Al-Thawrah and Raqqa city, in order to reinforce those fronts. ISIL’s Amaq News Agency later denied later that the SDF had captured the dam.
Refugees from al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, who have fled from the fighting between the SDF and ISIL.
On 24 March, SDF spokeswoman Jihan Sheikh Ahmed announced that they had reached the Tabqa Dam, and were fighting ISIL at its entrance. The assault on the dam was spearheaded by SDF fighters who were backed by United States Special Operation Forces. According to early reports, the SDF and its allies had taken its outer perimeter, with the battle ongoing for its middle. On the same day, it was also reported that the SDF had captured 8 villages to the southwest of Al-Thawrah. On 25 March, pro-Kurdish news agency Kurdistan24 reported that the SDF had announced the capture of the Tabqa Dam. On the same day, the SDF advanced on Al-Tabqa Airbase, setting off clashes in the vicinity.Amaq meanwhile claimed SDF had withdrawn from the dam.
On 26 March, the SDF captured 2 villages to the east of Al-Thawrah. It was also reported that ISIL was shelling the surroundings of Tabqa Dam with heavy weaponry.On the same day, ISIL claimed that Tabqa Dam was on the verge of collapse and that all the floodgates were closed. The dam was reported to have become inoperable, which ISIL claimed was due to Coalition bombing and artillery strikes, though the SOHR stated that the actual reasons were unknown, adding that ISIL still held its main building and turbines.SDF however denied that it had been hit, while RIBSS (Raqqa is Silently Being Slaughtered) stated that ISIL was informing fleeing civilians that the dam was safe. Additionally, the US-led Coalition stated that the Tabqa Dam was structurally sound, and that the dam had not been targeted by any airstrikes. They also stated that the SDF controlled an emergency spillway at the northern part of the dam, which could be used in the event of an emergency. On the same day, SDF spokesman Talal Silo announced that SDF had stormed the Tabqa military airport, and had taken sixty to seventy percent of it. They later announced that they had completely captured the Al-Tabqa Airbase, following a 24-hour battle.ISIL forces stationed at Al-Tabqa Airbase were reported to have withdrawn northward, to Al-Thawrah city. Additionally, SDF forces captured 2 villages near the airbase during the advance.
Late on 26 March, it was reported that the SDF had taken full control of Tabqa Dam, and that repairs on the dam by Coalition engineers had begun. A day later however SDF announced they were temporarily pausing their offensive for the dam. Later in the day, a spokeswoman of the SDF announced that engineers who had been permitted to check the dam and its operations did not find it was damaged or malfunctioning. SDF also captured 2 villages to the west of Raqqa on the same day. It resumed the offensive against ISIL at the Tabqa Dam on 28 March. Syrian engineers worked on the dam during a pause in the fighting to open spillways and ease the pressure on the dam. Its southern reaches were reported to be under ISIL control. ISIL claimed that the maintenance team was killed in airstrikes by the anti-ISIL coalition while the SOHR stated that it had learned that the engineer administering the dam had been killed in airstrikes along with a technician. It also stated that the group had sent 900 fighters from Raqqa to fight against the SDF advance.
On 29 March, the SDF cut the road between Al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city and Raqqa. The SDF stated that ISIL had shelled the Tabqa Dam during the day, causing repair work to be temporarily paused. On 31 March, SDF forces attacked the town of Al-Safsafah, to the east of Al-Thawrah, in an attempt to besiege the city. On the same day, the Ajeel tribe of al-Raqqa announced its support for the SDF’s Raqqa campaign and sent 150 fighters. On 1 April 2017, 200 Arab youths completed training and joined the SDF, also for the Raqqa campaign. The SDF announced during the day that over 220 new recruits had joined the offensive. Meanwhile, leaflets were dropped on the city calling on ISIL to surrender. Clashes continued in the countryside of Tabqa on next day as both sides attempted to advance.
The SDF and some activists stated on 2 April that it had repelled a major ISIL counterattack to the northeast of Tabqa city, near the Tabqa Dam and near the Tabqa airbase. They also continued to advance in villages to the east of Tabqa city. On the same day, it was reported that SDF had completely besieged Al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, with Kurdish activists stating that 2 SDF units linked up to the east of the city. SOHR, however, stated that they were still trying to besiege the city. SDF fighters continued battling for Safsafah and Ibad, on the next day, to fully encircle Tabqa. On 3 April, it was reported that ISIL was possibly in the process of moving its capital from Raqqa city to Mayadin, in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate. This followed months of gradual relocation of resources and senior ISIL leaders from Raqqa to Mayadin. SDF entered and besieged Safsafah on 5 April, thus also besieging Tabqa city while claiming that it had also taken control of a major part of Safsafah. The village was captured by the next day, resulting in SDF completely encircling Tabqa city.
The SDF captured Ibad village, to the east of Safsafah, on 9 April, further expanding their control in eastern countryside of Tabqa, while more than 25 ISIL fighters were killed in the clashes. ISIL also launched unsuccessful counterattacks on Safsafah, while also attacking Al-Tabqa Airbase. The SDF captured another village near Tabqa on the next day.
On 11 April, the US-led Coalition reported that the SDF had captured 60% of Tabqa Dam, and that they were “very close” to liberating the dam. On 13 April, the United States military stated that CJTF-OIR had bombed a SDF fighting position near Tabqa as it was misidentified as belonging to ISIL. It added that the airstrikes resulted in deaths of 18 SDF fighters.
Phase Four: Offensive directly north of and around Raqqa city; Assault on Tabqa city
On 13 April, the SDF announced the launch of the fourth phase of the campaign. The new phase will involve capturing the entire area directly north of Raqqa city, including the Jalab valley, as well as completing the siege of Raqqa city. The advancements may involve capturing the southern countryside of Raqqa as well, since the SDF stated that they plan to fully isolate the city before launching an attack on it. A plan to attack Raqqa city itself was also scheduled to for April 2017, but it was postponed due to the Battle of Tabqa. SDF was reported to have captured a village in the northern countryside of Raqqa on the same day.
SOHR stated early on 15 April that the SDF had advanced to the edge of Tabqa, and was within hundreds of meters of the city. Later, SDF captured the village of Ayad al-Saghir village near Tabqa and stormed the city itself, capturing the Alexandria suburb and bringing about 15% of the city under their control. They also cleared the Mushayrifah village near Tabqa, killing 27 ISIL fighters.
On 17 April, the SDF captured 3 villages in the northern countryside of Raqqa along with four hamlets.
Civil administration of captured territory
Samer Kharkhi, one of the Raqqa Civil Council’s leading members.
On 14 November, the SDF’s civilian sister institution, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), started working on the establishment of a civilian administration to run the city of Raqqa after the expulsion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. SDC co-chair Îlham Ehmed said “such an administration could provide a good example for democratic change in Raqqa, especially that the city has been for years a de facto capital for the ISIS terrorist group. This accomplishment would be a major change in the overall situation in Syria, and would help the country move towards stability, democratic change. Raqqa will be an example for the whole country.”
On 8 December, Col. John Dorrian, the Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman, stated that “a governance structure representative of the local population” similar to that in Manbij is planned for Raqqa. On 10 December, Cihan ShekhEhmed, the spokesman of the SDF-led operation, said that Raqqa would be run by a local elected civilian council after it was liberated. On 27 March 2017, Salih Muslim Muhammad, co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), said that as soon as the SDF had captured the city, “the people of Raqqa are the ones who [will] take the decision on everything”. If they wanted to do so, Muslim said, they could choose to join the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria. On the same day, the Raqqa Civil Council announced that it had taken over the administration of the eastern countryside.
A YPJ sniper during the offensive on 13 November 2016
A boat carrying SDF fighters cross Lake Assad on 9 April 2017
Toyota Hilux and other vehicles of the YPG and YPJ near Tabqa, 9 April 2017
Jump up^Most Leftist Western volunteers fight as part of the YPG, though some have also formed an independent unit, the Antifascist International Tabur, or joined the International Freedom Battalion. The latter is a larger unit, mostly composed of Kurdish and Turkish communists.
Jump up^1,500 volunteers from villages captured by the SDF during phase one; 1,000 volunteers from villages captured during phase two, 750 volunteers from villages captured during phase three, 200 more joined in April
Jump up^According to SOHR, 8 SDF casualties were Western volunteers; among these were 4 Americans (one of which fought for the MFS), 1 British, 1 Canadian, and 1 German.ARA News, on the other side, reported that only 5 Western volunteers had been killed.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with a delegate during the afternoon ministerial plenary for the Global Coalition working to Defeat ISIS at the State Department in Washington, March 22, 2017.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presided over a meeting of the 68-member Global Coalition to defeat ISIS and emphasized that the Coalition is unified, remains committed to the military defeat of ISIS, and noted the significant progress that has been made.
On March 22, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presided over a meeting of the 68-member Global Coalition to defeat ISIS and emphasized that the Coalition is unified, remains committed to the military defeat of ISIS, and noted the significant progress that has been made.
On the battlefield, 23 coalition partners have over 9,000 troops in Iraq and Syria in support of the effort to defeat ISIS. The Coalition has made significant progress in denying ISIS safe haven and building the military capacity of those directly engaged in fighting ISIS.
Coalition operations have liberated 62 percent of the terrain ISIS once controlled in Iraq and 30 percent in Syria, including key cities in both countries. The number of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria is down by more than half since its peak in 2014.
Coalition aircraft have conducted more than 19,000 strikes on ISIS targets, removing tens of thousands of ISIS fighters from the battlefield and killing over 180 senior to mid-level ISIS leaders, including nearly all of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputies, his so-called ministers of war, information, finance, oil and gas, and his chief of external operations.
The Coalition has supported its Iraqi partners to achieve significant progress in the fight to retake Mosul. Iraqi Security Forces officially liberated eastern Mosul on January 24, 2017, and now are making significant territorial gains in the western portion of the city.
To date, Coalition efforts have trained nearly 90,000 Iraqi Security Force members, including Iraqi Army soldiers, Counterterrorism Services soldiers, Kurdish Peshmerga, federal police and border security soldiers, and tribal volunteers.
With the support of the Coalition, Syrian partners have liberated over 14,000 square kilometers of terrain in Syria, including more than 7,400 square kilometers of territory since isolation operations around Raqqa began on November 5.
Coalition forces are now pressuring ISIS in Raqqa, its external operations headquarters, from where ISIS is plotting against Coalition member interests around the globe.
“Hard-fought victories in Iraq and Syria have swung the momentum in our coalition’s favor,” said Secretary Tillerson, “but we must increase the intensity of our efforts to solidify our gains in the next phase of the counter-ISIS fight. Degradation of ISIS is not the end goal, we must defeat ISIS.”
The race for Raqqa: Major battle to liberate the ISIS stronghold looms after victory nears in Mosul and Palmyra… but who will lead the offensive?
Syrian soldiers, Turkish troops and US-backed Kurdish troops eyeing up Raqqa
Islamic State terrorists were driven out of Mosul and Palmyra in another victory
With liberation of the two cities drawing nearer, Raqqa will become top priority
The fall of the terror group’s de facto capital would be seen as ISIS’ biggest loss
By Gareth Davies For Mailonline
PUBLISHED: 06:48 EDT, 3 March 2017 | UPDATED: 07:05 EDT, 3 March 2017
A major battle to liberate the Islamic State group’s stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria is looming after victories on the battlefields of Mosul and Palmyra.
The Pentagon has drawn up a secret plan which is likely to lean on local allies with stepped-up American support, but questions still remain as to who exactly will lead the operation to kick ISIS out of its de facto capital.
Syrian government forces, Turkish troops and their Syrian militia allies, and US-backed Kurdish forces all have their eye on Raqqa.
Each vehemently rejects letting the others capture the city and would likely react in anger should the United States support the others, and it is not clear that any has the resources to take the city on its own.
The fall of Raqqa, the Islamic State group’s de facto capital and largest remaining stronghold, would be the biggest defeat for the militants in Syria since they captured the northern city on the banks of the Euphrates River in January 2014.
An Iraqi Army officer (right) uses his mobile phone to film a rocket launched towards Islamic State militants during a battle with Islamic State militants in Mosul,Iraq
Iraqi family displaced due to fighting between the Iraqi army and ISIS, waiting at a temporary shelter to be sent to a refugee camp in Hamam Ali town, southern Mosul
Iraqi soldiers fire a rocket toward Islamic State militants on the outskirt of the Makhmour south of Mosul, Iraq
Smoke billows as Iraqi forces hold a position on a street in Mosul on March 1, 2017, during an offensive by security forces to retake the western parts of the city from Islamic State
Since October, US-backed coalition forces have been advancing on Mosul in an attempt to re-capture it from the terror group’s control.
Civilians have been evacuated and ISIS have been driven out of the city one village and area at a time.
This morning, an Iraqi military commander says forces have taken control of another neighborhood in western Mosul.
Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, spokesman of the Joint Military Operations Command said despite bad weather, Iraqi special operations forces have completely retaken the Wadi Hajjar area from militants.
However, commanders on the ground say that clearing operations are still continuing.
Wadi Hajjar lies just northwest of the city’s international airport.
Iraqi forces, including special operations forces and federal police units, launched an attack on the western part of Mosul nearly two weeks ago to dislodge the extremists.
Since the offensive began, more than 28,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN.
Across the border in Syria, army units were clearing land mines and explosives left behind by ISIS in the historic town of Palmyra on Friday, a day after government troops and allied militiamen recaptured it from the extremists.
The military expects the process to be long and difficult due to the large number of mines planted by the terror group.
Syrian troops fully recaptured Palmyra on Thursday after a push that saw the militants’ defenses crumble and ISIS fighters flee in the face of artillery fire and intense Russia-backed airstrikes.
The Tetrapylon and Roman Amphitheatre in the ancient city of Palmyra is blown up in conflict
Fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State, now called the Islamic State group, marching in Raqqa, Syria, where attention will now turn
Now, all eyes turn to Raqqa.
Faysal Itani, an analyst at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, said: ‘Raqqa is more of an abstract goal: everyone wants it in principle, but no one is willing to commit the resources and bear the risks necessary.’
Turkey rules out a US compromise in Syria
Turkey is ruling out compromise with the United States over the involvement of Kurdish militia fighters in an assault in Syria, an obstacle for Washington’s plan to deploy its strongest allies on the ground in a decisive showdown with Islamic State.
Donald Trump has made defeating ISIS one of the key goals of his presidency, and his new administration received a draft Pentagon plan on Monday to accelerate the campaign.
Raqqa in Syria, one of Islamic State’s two de facto capitals along with Mosul in Iraq, is expected to be the scene of the final battle to crush the jihadists’ self-proclaimed Caliphate sometime this year, after a US-backed Iraqi government assault on Mosul already under way since October.
But putting together a united ground force to take Raqqa has so far proven a confounding task in Syria, where the United States, Turkey, Russia, Iran and Arab states have all backed local forces in a multi-sided civil war since 2011. All the foreign powers oppose Islamic State, but their Syrian proxies have mainly fought against one another.
Turkey, with the second largest army in NATO, is adamant that Washington should switch support for the planned Raqqa offensive from the Kurdish YPG militia to Syrian rebels Turkey has trained and led against Islamic State for the past year.
President Donald Trump has vowed to ‘obliterate’ the group.
‘We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet,’ he told Congress on Tuesday.
The top US commander in the campaign against IS, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, has said he believes Raqqa and Mosul will be taken within six months.
So far, the offensive on Mosul has been underway four months, with only half the city captured from the militants in ferocious street-to-street urban combat.
And that is using a relatively intensively trained and united military, backed by heavy U.S. firepower and commandos on the ground – a contrast to the comparatively undisciplined and fragmented forces the US has to choose from as allies in Syria.
Raqqa is a smaller city than Mosul, but the militants are believed to have dug in with powerful fortifications there.
In Syria, US-backed predominantly Kurdish fighters known as the Syria Democratic Forces, or SDF, remain Trump’s best bet.
Aided by US-led coalition airstrikes and some 500 US special forces troops deployed in an advisory role, the force has been marching toward Raqqa since November.
Closing in on the city from different directions, it is now stationed some eight kilometers (five miles) north of the city.
The US military recently provided a small number of armored vehicles to the US-backed force to give better protection from small arms fire and roadside bombs as they get closer to Raqqa.
Further aid to the rag-tag group, however, raises sensitive questions over how to deal with Turkey, a NATO ally with much at stake in Syria.
Turkey considers the main Kurdish militia in Syria – known as the YPG, and an affiliate of the US-backed SDF – a terrorist organization, and has vowed to work with Syrian opposition fighters known as the Free Syrian Army to liberate Raqqa.
In a dramatic reversal of years of the Obama administration’s calls for the ouster of President Bashar Assad, Trump has hinted he might be willing to work with Assad’s army and Russia, whose year-and-a-half military intervention has propped up Assad’s government.
Assad’s forces are preoccupied with other battles, however, and would likely need significant US military involvement to take on Raqqa.
On Wednesday, the Syrian military recaptured the central town of Palmyra, a city located in the desert south of Raqqa that has gone back and forth between control of the military and the extremists several times.
The government forces have also clashed with the Turkish-backed Syrian fighters, who block their path to Raqqa.
Iraqi security forces inspect a recently discovered tunnel that had been used by Islamic State militants as a training camp, in western Mosul, Iraq on Wednesday, March 1. 2017
Syrians are sharply divided over who should enter Raqqa.
Many opposition supporters consider the SDF, which maintains a tacit non-aggression pact with Assad’s forces, to be a hostile group.
There are also fears of tensions if Raqqa, home to a nearly 200,000 mainly Arab population, is taken by the SDF, a coalition of Kurdish, Arab and Christian fighters.
‘Let us be frank that any force that will liberate Raqqa, other than the Free Syrian Army, is going to be a new occupation force with different flags and banners,’ said Mohammed Khodor of Sound and Picture Organization, which tracks atrocities by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was even more blunt, warning that if the SDF enters Raqqa, it will hurt relations between Ankara and Washington.
Since the Mosul offensive began, more than 28,000 people like these have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN
‘We have said that a terror organization cannot be used against another terror organization,’ the Turkish leader told the state-run Anadolu news agency.
The Kurds reject that notion and insist that only forces fighting under the SDF banner will liberate Raqqa.
‘Turkey is an occupation force and has no legitimate right to enter Raqqa,’ said SDF spokeswoman Cihan Sheikh Ehmed.
In a text message exchange from northern Syria, she said the SDF has the experience in fighting IS to finish the operation.
Battlefield victories by the SDF against the Islamic State group have brought growing Western support.
Asked if adding more US troops or better arming Syria’s Kurds were options, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he will ‘accommodate any request’ from his field commanders.
In Mosul, the US-led coalition is playing a greater role than ever before in the fight against IS and coalition forces have moved closer to front-line fighting.
U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian says the increased support is an effort to ‘accelerate the campaign’ against the Islamic State group, noting that launching simultaneous operations in both Mosul and Raqqa ‘puts further strain on the enemy’s command and control.’
‘It is a complicating factor when you don’t have a partner government to work with,’ conceded Dorrian, adding that whoever the coalition partners with in the fight for Raqqa is ‘a subject of ongoing discussions.’
Wladimir van Wilgenburg, a Middle East analyst at the Jamestown Foundation who closely follows Kurdish affairs, says the US-led coalition wants to have a quick end to IS in Raqqa, from which external operations against the West are planned.
That means it would prefer to work with the Kurdish-led SDF forces ‘since they are able to mobilize manpower unlike the Turks,’ he said.
An ISIS flag flies in the city of Palmyra – but not for long as victory nears in the city
Allied forces stand on the rubble of the Tetrapylon and Roman Amphitheatre in Palmyra
An Iraqi soldier inspects a recently-discovered train tunnel, adorned with an Islamic State group flag
In any case, the battle for Raqqa is sure to be a long and deadly one. It took the SDF nearly 10 weeks to capture the northern Syrian town of Manbij from IS last year.
It took Turkish forces and allied groups more than three months to retake the town of al-Bab, a costly battle that killed dozens of Turkish soldiers and many civilians.
Raqqa is much larger than either Manbij or al-Bab.
Some Syrian opposition activists say the extremists dug a trench around it to make it difficult for attackers to storm it.
‘It would be difficult for any troops,’ said Itani of the Atlantic Council.
‘Witness the slow and ugly progress in Mosul as well. Raqqa would be tough,’ he said.
The Trump foreign policy team has been all over the map on what to do next in Syria — topple the regime, intensify aid to rebels, respond to any new attacks on innocent civilians. But when pressed, there is one idea everyone on the team seems to agree on: “The defeat of ISIS,” as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson put it.
Well, let me add to their confusion by asking just one question: Why?
Why should our goal right now be to defeat the Islamic State in Syria? Of course, ISIS is detestable and needs to be eradicated. But is it really in our interest to be focusing solely on defeating ISIS in Syria right now?
Let’s go through the logic: There are actually two ISIS manifestations.
One is “virtual ISIS.” It is satanic, cruel and amorphous; it disseminates its ideology through the internet. It has adherents across Europe and the Muslim world. In my opinion, that ISIS is the primary threat to us, because it has found ways to deftly pump out Sunni jihadist ideology that inspires and gives permission to those Muslims on the fringes of society who feel humiliated — from London to Paris to Cairo — to recover their dignity via headline-grabbing murders of innocents.
The other incarnation is “territorial ISIS.” It still controls pockets in western Iraq and larger sectors of Syria. Its goal is to defeat Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria — plus its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies — and to defeat the pro-Iranian Shiite regime in Iraq, replacing both with a caliphate.
Challenge No. 1: Not only will virtual ISIS, which has nodes all over the world, not go away even if territorial ISIS is defeated, I believe virtual ISIS will become yet more virulent to disguise the fact that it has lost the territorial caliphate to its archenemies: Shiite Iran, Hezbollah, pro-Shiite militias in Iraq, the pro-Shiite Assad regime in Damascus and Russia, not to mention America.
Challenge No. 2: America’s goal in Syria is to create enough pressure on Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah so they will negotiate a power-sharing accord with moderate Sunni Muslims that would also ease Assad out of power. One way to do that would be for NATO to create a no-fly safe zone around Idlib Province, where many of the anti-Assad rebels have gathered and where Assad recently dropped his poison gas on civilians. But Congress and the U.S. public are clearly wary of that.
So what else could we do? We could dramatically increase our military aid to anti-Assad rebels, giving them sufficient anti-tank and antiaircraft missiles to threaten Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian helicopters and fighter jets and make them bleed, maybe enough to want to open negotiations. Fine with me.
What else? We could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad. After all, they’re the ones overextended in Syria, not us. Make them fight a two-front war — the moderate rebels on one side and ISIS on the other. If we defeat territorial ISIS in Syria now, we will only reduce the pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah and enable them to devote all their resources to crushing the last moderate rebels in Idlib, not sharing power with them.
I don’t get it. President Trump is offering to defeat ISIS in Syria for free — and then pivot to strengthening the moderate anti-Assad rebels. Why? When was the last time Trump did anything for free? When was the last real estate deal Trump did where he volunteered to clean up a toxic waste dump — for free — before he negotiated with the owner on the price of the golf course next door?
This is a time for Trump to be Trump — utterly cynical and unpredictable. ISIS right now is the biggest threat to Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and pro-Shiite Iranian militias — because ISIS is a Sunni terrorist group that plays as dirty as Iran and Russia.
Trump should want to defeat ISIS in Iraq. But in Syria? Not for free, not now. In Syria, Trump should let ISIS be Assad’s, Iran’s, Hezbollah’s and Russia’s headache — the same way we encouraged the mujahedeen fighters to bleed Russia in Afghanistan.
Yes, in the long run we want to crush ISIS everywhere, but the only way to crush ISIS and keep it crushed on the ground is if we have moderate Sunnis in Syria and Iraq able and willing to replace it. And those will only emerge if there are real power-sharing deals in Syria and Iraq — and that will only happen if Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah feel pressured to share power.
And while I am at it, where is Trump’s Twitter feed when we need it? He should be tweeting every day this message: “Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have become the protectors of a Syrian regime that uses poison gas on babies! Babies! Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Assad — poison gas enablers. Sad.”
Do not let them off the hook! We need to make them own what they’ve become — enablers of a Syria that uses poison gas on children. Believe it or not, they won’t like being labeled that way. Trump needs to use his global Twitter feed strategically. Barack Obama never played this card. Trump needs to slam it down every day. It creates leverage.
Syria is not a knitting circle. Everyone there plays dirty, deviously and without mercy. Where’s that Trump when we need him?
Iraqi Kurdistan first gained autonomous status in a 1970 agreement with the Iraqi government, and its status was re-confirmed as an autonomous entity within the federal Iraqi republic in 2005. There is a province by the name Kurdistan in Iran; it is not self-ruled. Kurds fighting in the Syrian Civil War were able to take control of large sections of northern Syria as government forces, loyal to Bashar al-Assad, withdrew to fight elsewhere. Having established their own government, they called for autonomy in a federal Syria after the war.