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The Pronk Pops Show 983, October 13, 2017, Story 1: Trump To Trash Iranian Nuclear Agreement If Congress Does Not Act — Videos — Story 2: Trump’s Timid Tiny Targeted Tax Temporary Cut –Videos — Story 3: Consumer Sentiment Hits Thirteen Year High — Videos —

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Image result for President Trump DECERTIFIES the Iran Nuclear Deal

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Story 1: Trump Administration Does Not Certify Iran Nuclear  Agreement If Congress Does Not Act — Videos —

John Bolton on Breitbart News Daily (10/16/2017)

Trump addresses strategy on Iran nuclear deal (full speech)

President Trump DECERTIFIES the Iran Nuclear Deal | Full Speech 10/13/17

Trump on North Korean nuclear threat, Iran nuclear deal

Benjamin Netanyahu commends Trump’s decision on Iran

World leaders respond to Trump’s decision on Iran deal

Lou Dobbs Tonight 10/14/17 October 14, 2017|Fox Business Highlights

John Bolton on Iran: US heading in the right direction

Amb. Bolton: We’re down to two options with North Korea

How Powerful Is Iran?

Why Does Iran Hate The U.S.?

Why Does The U.S. Love Israel?

Terrorist Training Camps in Iran operated by IRGC

IRGC- IRANIAN DEADLY REVOLUTIONARY GUARD

Iran’s IRGC warns US against “terrorist” labelling

Is ruthless general Iraq’s hidden hand?

Is this Iranian the most powerful man in Iraq? – Newsnight

What we know about Iran’s Quds Force

IRGC commander: Iran able to target US interests anywhere in world

How Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Financial Empire Funds Terrorism

Iran’s revolutionary guard explained

Iran Defense Min: US, Israel dare not attack, they would have if they could

World War 3: ‘Only two North Korea options – ELIMINATE Kim Jong-un or eliminate weapons’

Sen. Bob Corker: Donald Trump Has ‘Publicly Castrated’ Rex Tillerson | The Last Word | MSNBC

Gingrich: ‘The Alligators Are Really Unhappy’ That Trump Is ‘Draining the Swamp’

Newt Gingrich calls Trump “stunningly effective,” and reporters a “bunch of idiots”

Condoleezza Rice on Tillerson, North Korea, Iran deal

John Bolton on Iran, North Korea, and Pres Trump.

John Bolton: Why Iran nuke deal is “worst appeasement since Hitler” “catastrophic blunder”

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President Trump DECERTIFIES the Iran Nuclear Deal | Full Speech 10/13/17

Donald Trump decertifies Iran nuclear deal

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Iran and the Bomb

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The Iran Nuclear Deal Explained

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Noam Chomsky on North Korea & Iran: Historical record shows U.S. favors violence over diplomacy

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The Iranian Revolutionary Guard

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Trump decertifies Iran nuclear deal, slaps sanctions on IRGC in broadside at ‘radical regime’

President Trump announced Friday he will decertify the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying he believes the “radical regime” has committed multiple violations of the agreement as he kicked a decision over whether to restore sanctions back to Congress.

“I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said during a speech at the White House. “We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakthrough.”

Friday’s announcement does not withdraw the United States from the Iran deal, which the president called “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”

“In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, the agreement will be terminated,” he said. “It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me as president at any time.”

Speaking to reporters ahead of Trump’s speech, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the president will use the Congressional Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act to decertify the agreement, which was negotiated over 18 months by the Obama administration.

Congress could then decide to restore sanctions, do nothing or make changes to the law. Trump is pressing Congress to work to fix the deal’s “flaws.”

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL: WHAT IS IT?

In making his decision, Trump said, “Iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal.” Among other alleged violations, Trump said Iran failed to meet expectations in its operation of advanced centrifuges and intimidated international inspectors into not using their full authority.

The president also slammed sunset provisions in the deal itself, complaining that the U.S. got a “weak inspection” in exchange for a “short-term” delay in Iran’s nuclear progress.

Trump, meanwhile, announced plans to take action against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, authorizing the Treasury Department to impose targeted sanctions against “its officials, agents, and affiliates.”

“Execution of our strategy begins with a long overdue step of imposing tough sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” Trump said. “The revolutionary guard is the Iranian supreme leader’s corrupt personal terror force and militia.”

In his broadside against the Iranian regime, the president said it “remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” accusing it of providing assistance to Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah and other terrorist networks.

The president accused Iran of developing missiles that threaten American troops and allies and imprisoning Americans “on false charges.”

“Given the regime’s murderous past and present, we should not take lightly its sinister vision for the future,” Trump said. “The regimes two favorite chants are ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel.’”

The president did not designate the IRGC a terrorist group, something that had been rumored ahead of the announcement. In the run-up to the decision, Iranian officials threatened consequences if that occurred.

“If the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government in considering the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world,” IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said Sunday, according to Reuters.

The National Resistance Council of Iran, an offshoot organization of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK), praised Trump’s move in support of the de-certification.

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), welcomed the new U.S. policy to “condemn the IRGC’s gross violations of human rights” in Iran.

“The regime’s deadly meddling in the region and concessions made to it in the course of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) have been disastrous, and for which the people of Iran and the region have paid heavily,” Rajavi said in a statement provided to Fox News.

“The IRGC is a prime means of suppression, execution, and torture in Iran, spreading terrorism throughout the world, war mongering and massacre in the region, the drive for acquiring nuclear weapons, and the increase in the proliferation of ballistic missiles,” she said. “If the IRGC had been recognized as a terrorist entity earlier and dealt with accordingly, the current situation in the region in general, and Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Afghanistan in particular, would have been totally different.”

Trump had been facing a Sunday deadline to notify Congress whether Iran is complying with the accord.

Republicans are calling for new legislation that addresses the “flaws” of the agreement.

“Lawmakers need to do now what we couldn’t do two years ago: unite around an Iran strategy that truly stops Iran’s nuclear weapons program and empowers the United States and our allies to combat the full spectrum of Iran’s imperial aggression,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said in a statement.

Democrats accused the president of making matters worse. Former Obama administration official Ben Rhodes, who helped sell the Iran deal, said the president is “provoking” a crisis with his speech.

“Hard to overstate how irresponsible it is for Trump to risk blowing up Iran Deal by demanding rest of world justify his campaign rhetoric,” Rhodes tweeted.

Fox News’ Serafin Gomez, Mike Emanuel and Perry Chiaramonte and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/10/13/trump-to-decertify-iran-nuclear-deal.html

Trump says he has decided to decertify Iran nuclear deal

WASHINGTON, Oct 13 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump struck a blow against the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement on Friday in defiance of other world powers, choosing not to certify that Tehran is complying with the deal.

“Based on the factual record I have put forward, I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said at a White House event as he unveiled a tougher strategy against Tehran.

Trump’s move does not pull the United States out of the agreement, formally known as the JCPOA. (Reporting by James Oliphant; Writing by Tim Ahmann and Makini Brice; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-4978524/Trump-says-decided-decertify-Iran-nuclear-deal.html#ixzz4vS0Hglgq

Bolton: ‘Unfixable’ Iran Deal Must Be Abandoned

Image: Bolton: 'Unfixable' Iran Deal Must Be Abandoned
Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton (Alex Brandon/AP)

By Brian Freeman   |   Monday, 16 Oct 2017 03:27 PM

 Arguments over the Iran deal have been dominated by peripheral issues, and obscured the fact there are no real “fixes” that can be made to turn it into a good agreement, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton wrote in a Monday op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.

Now that President Donald Trump has announced the U.S. will stay in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, while refusing to certify under American law the deal is in the national interest, Congress will have to decide what next step to take, with many offering proposed changes.

Bolton insisted it should be remembered for those who say the agreement must be preserved because Iran is not violating the deal “it is neither dishonorable nor unusual for countries to withdraw from international agreements that contravene their vital interests.”

 Such an example, he said, was President George W. Bush’s notice of withdrawal in 2001 from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, even though it was not clear Russia was violating it. What was important was the agreement was no longer strategically wise for the U.S.

Bolton said the Western powers’ collapse from their original insistence it would not even negotiate unless Iran agreed to suspend all enrichment-related activity was a grave error, because regardless of the treaty’s limits, “Iran benefits from continued enrichment, research and development by expanding the numbers of scientists and technicians it has with firsthand nuclear experience, [which] will be invaluable to the ayatollahs come the day they disdain any longer to conceal their real nuclear strategy.”

 

Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (H.R. 1191Pub.L. 114–17) is a bill that was passed by the US Congress in May 2015, giving Congress the right to review any agreement reached in the P5+1 talks with Iran aiming to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

The bill passed in the Senate by 98 to 1 (only Tom Cotton voted against), and then passed in the House by a vote of 400 to 25 on May 14.[1] President Barack Obama had threatened to veto the bill, but eventually a version was arrived at that had enough support to override any veto and Obama did not try to veto it.

Larry Klayman filed a lawsuit, alleging that the law as an unconstitutional abrogation of the Senate’s Treaty Power. The lawsuit was dismissed for lack of standing.[2]

See also

References

 

Story 2: Trump’s Timid Tiny Targeted Tax Temporary — Postcard Propaganda — No Tax Returns With Fair Tax Less — Videos —

George Stephanopoulos GRILLS Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Trump’s Tax Plan

Mnuchin, contradicting trump, says estate tax repeal will help ‘rich people’ | News Today

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Why would Mnuchin want govt plane for honeymoon MSNBC

Mnuchin defends seeking government plane for honeymoon MSNBC

Wife Of Steven Mnuchin Apologizes For Slamming Critic Of Her Instagram Post | TODAY

Mnuchin Says Parts of Tax Plan Would Be Temporary

Treasury secretary hopeful a bill will be on president’s desk by December

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, speaks during the Institute of International Finance annual membership meeting in Washington, D.C, on Friday.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, speaks during the Institute of International Finance annual membership meeting in Washington, D.C, on Friday. PHOTO: ZACH GIBSON/BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON—Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday that some parts of a Republican plan to overhaul the tax code could be permanent while others would be temporary.

Mr. Mnuchin, speaking at a conference of international bankers, also said he expects Congress can have a bill to the president’s desk by the beginning of December, an aggressive timeline.

“There’s tax cuts that absolutely have to be permanent,” he said when asked whether the administration will be able to make tax cuts permanent. For example, moving to a territorial tax system, which would allow companies to repatriate their future foreign profits without paying U.S. taxes, would be very difficult to unwind, he said.

On the other hand, the current GOP proposal includes a provision that would allow businesses to immediately write off investments for at least five years with little certainty beyond that.

“That’s to incent people to invest money now and it’s a lot cheaper than giving it to them for 10 years,” Mr. Mnuchin said.

That is cheaper for the federal budget in the short run, but would do much less to improve the economy, according to the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation. In an analysis earlier this month, the group estimated that temporary investment writeoffs would lead to less than one-quarter of the economic growth of the full and permanent provision that House Republicans had proposed last year.

GOP May Backpedal on State and Local Taxes
Republicans in Congress are considering tweaking their tax-overhaul plan to preserve some federal deductions for state and local taxes. WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib explains what is next for tax reform. Photo: AP

The size of tax cuts, and the extent to which they are made permanent, will be constrained by Senate rules that limit the ability of Republicans to increase budget deficits. Those rules apply under the fast-track procedure that will let the GOP pass a tax plan without any Democratic votes.

The party faces the challenge of fitting its tax goals—more than $5 trillion of rate cuts over a decade—into a budget plan that will likely allow for $1.5 trillion in bigger deficits over a decade and no additional deficits beyond that 10-year window. Doing so would require eliminating or shrinking some cherished tax breaks and could force the GOP to make some tax breaks temporary, even if they plan on coming back later to extend them.

In 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush, Congress cut individual taxes and set a 2010 sunset date. Most of those cuts were extended permanently in 2013 by large bipartisan majorities and President Barack Obama.

That would be tougher to do this time around, because Republicans want to make business tax cuts permanent up front, to provide companies with certainty for decision-making.

A combination of permanent business tax cuts with temporary individual changes could be hard to sell to lawmakers and to voters. Republicans will likely consider pairing a permanent territorial tax system for businesses with a permanently higher standard deduction or child tax credit for individuals, said Rohit Kumar, a leader of PwC’s Washington National Tax Services.

“You want, at least, to have something of similar quality be made permanent on the individual side,” said Mr. Kumar, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.)

Mr. Mnuchin and other Trump administration officials have maintained the plan will generate enough economic growth to offset the costs of tax cuts, and may even reduce the deficit, a claim some tax analysts have said is very unlikely. Congressional Republicans’ schedule isn’t quite as aggressive as Mr. Mnuchin’s. The Senate is set to adopt its budget as soon as next week. Then, the House and Senate must agree on a budget.

After that, the House Ways and Means Committee plans to release a detailed bill. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) said this week that he hopes the House will vote on a tax bill in November and said he would keep lawmakers in Washington until Christmas, if needed, to work through a final version with the Senate.

Republican Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tim Scott of South Carolina told major donors, including billionaire David Koch, on Friday in New York that the effort to overhaul the tax code is proving slower than expected. The donors are part of a network of political and policy groups steered by the Koch brothers.

“I’m very concerned,” Mr. Perdue said about the ability to complete a tax bill on a timeline that has already slipped from November to December. “We have a ways to go yet, mainly on deductions. And mainly on the individual side.”

Both acknowledged the efforts are concentrated on swaying “three or four” Senate Republicans and then reconciling the Senate and House plans.

“Believing that we’re going to get this done by Thanksgiving is unrealistic,” Mr. Scott said. “By the time we get this issue, we’ll probably be bleeding into middle of December, and we’re going to use the backstop of Christmas, end of the year, to finish the process.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/mnuchin-says-parts-of-tax-plan-would-be-temporary-1507903361

Story 3: Consumer Sentiment Hits Thirteen Year High — Videos —

Consumer sentiment in US surges to 13-year high

Good Question: How Is Consumer Confidence Measured?

What is the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index?

09: INDEX OF CONSUMER SENTIMENT

 

Consumer Sentiment in U.S. Unexpectedly Surges to 13-Year High

U.S. consumer sentiment unexpectedly surged to a 13-year high as Americans’ perceptions of the economy and their own finances rebounded following several major hurricanes, a University of Michigan survey showed Friday.

HIGHLIGHTS OF MICHIGAN SENTIMENT (OCTOBER, PRELIMINARY)

  • Sentiment index rose to 101.1 (est. 95), highest since Jan. 2004, from 95.1 in Sept.
  • Current conditions gauge, which measures Americans’ perceptions of their finances, jumped to 116.4, highest since Nov. 2000, from 111.7
  • Expectations measure increased to 91.3, highest since Jan. 2004, from 84.4

Key Takeaways

The jump in sentiment, which was greater than any analyst had projected, may reflect several trends: falling gasoline prices following a hurricane-related spike; repeated record highs for the stock market; a 16-year low in unemployment; and post-storm recovery efforts driving a rebound in economic growth.

The advance in the main gauge spanned age and income subgroups as well as partisan views, according to the report. Almost six out of every 10 consumers thought the economy had recently improved in early October, the university said.

Not all measures in the survey showed big gains: the share of consumers reporting improved finances held steady at about half, while the proportion expecting gains in their financial situation fell slightly to 40 percent.

Official’s Views

“While the early October surge indicates greater optimism about the future course of the economy, it also reflects an unmistakable sense among consumers that economic prospects are now about as good as could be expected,” Richard Curtin, director of the University of Michigan consumer survey, said in a statement. “Indeed, nothing in the latest survey indicates that consumers anticipate an economic downturn anytime soon — which contrarians may consider a clear warning sign of trouble ahead.”

Other Details

  • 83 percent of respondents saw buying conditions for household durables as favorable, most in more than a decade; positive vehicle-buying attitudes at 75 percent, highest since 2004
  • Consumers saw inflation rate in the next year at 2.3 percent after 2.7 percent the prior month
  • Inflation rate over next five to 10 years seen at 2.4 percent after 2.5 percent in September

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-13/consumer-sentiment-in-u-s-unexpectedly-surges-to-13-year-high

A:There isn’t a difference between consumer confidence and consumer sentiment. Both terms are used to refer to the degree of confidence consumers feel about the overall economy and their personal financial state. Consumer confidence or sentiment dictates the level of spending that consumers will engage in. A high level of consumer confidence means that consumers, generally feel good about their financial condition, especially their ability to obtain and keep jobs. If consumer confidence is relatively high, then consumers are going to increase the amount of money that they spend. On the other hand, if consumer confidence is relatively low, then consumers are going to spend less.

Consumer confidence is measured by two indexes: the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) and the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index (MCSI). The CCI is a survey conducted by a not-for-profit research organization for businesses that distributes information about management and the marketplace. This organization is sometimes known as the Conference Board.The Conference Board usually surveys 5000 households from the country’s nine census region. The survey usually covers five major sections:

  1. Current business conditions
  2. Business conditions for the next six months
  3. Current employment conditions
  4. Employment conditions for the next six months
  5. Total family income for the next six months.

The MCSI is a telephone survey conducted by the University of Michigan. The purpose of the survey is to collect information about consumer expectations regarding the overall economy. The MCSI also covers five sections:

  1. Personal financial situation now and a year ago
  2. Personal financial situation one year from now
  3. Overall financial condition of the business for the next twelve months
  4. Overall financial condition of the business for the next five years
  5. Current attitude toward buying major household items.

For more, read Consumer Confidence: A Killer Statistic.

Read more: What’s the difference between consumer confidence and consumer sentiment? http://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/09/consumer-confidence-sentiment-difference.asp#ixzz4vRn0gPtk
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The Pronk Pops Show 969, September 21, 2017, Story 1: President Trump Signs Executive Order Targeting Institutions and People Doing Business With North Korea — Communist China Trades With and Enabled North Korea Nuclear Weapon and Missile Programs — Waiting For Embargo Banning All Trade and Investment in Communist China — Videos — Story 2: Fed To Start Quantitative Tightening In October 2017 by Selling Some ($10 Billion Per Month or $120 Billion Per Year) of $4,500 Billion Bond Portfolio As U.S. Economy Slows in 2017? — Videos

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 Story 1: President Trump Signs Executive Order Targeting Institutions and People Doing Business With North Korea — Communist China Trades With and Enabled North Korea Nuclear Weapon and Missile Programs — Waiting For Embargo Banning All Trade and Investment in Communist China — Videos —

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BREAKING NEWS: President Donald Trump Announces New Sanctions on North Korea through Executive Order

Trump: China has told its banks to stop doing business with North Korea

North Korea: Trump signs new order to widen sanctions

Trump hints at ending US trade with all North Korea partners | Time To Play Trump Card

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China Pulls Trade From North Korea! Russia RESPONDS BY Increasing Trade by 73%!

John Bolton calls for ‘sweeping’ set of sanctions on China

United Nations funding mechanism needs to be changed: John Bolton

John Bolton: We are at a ‘crisis point’ with North Korea

Trump administration undercuts his message on North Korea

Former CIA Director James Woolsey: North Korea Has Been Able To Hit Power Grid For Years | CNBC

Ralph Peters on North Korea: China will never help us

Peters: People don’t understand how desperate North Korea is

China getting away with ‘trade murder’: Ralph Peters

What Are Economic Sanctions?

Chinese sanctions will help US trade deficit, but could backfire: Andrew Peek

Gordon Chang: China understands the effects of US sanctions

Lou Dobbs : Is China helping North Korea create nuclear missiles? : 5/30/2017

Gordon Chang: NKorea is forcing the United States to act

Trump unplugging Chinese banks will end China’s economy: Gordon Chang

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What Is Life Really Like In North Korea?

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Where Are The World’s Nuclear Weapons Stored?

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Trump signs order aiming to cut off funding for North Korean missile program

  • President Donald Trump signs an executive order to expand his authority to target people and institutions doing business with North Korea.
  • With the action, he aims to reduce funding going to the dictatorship’s nuclear and missile programs.

President Donald Trump speaking as he meets with South Korean president Moon Jae-in during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, September 21, 2017.

Trump unveils order aiming to cut off funding for North Korean missile program  

President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order expanding his authority to target people and institutions that do business with North Korea.

Through the measure, the president aims to cut off the communist dictatorship’s funding and deter its nuclear and missile ambitions amid a string of recent tests and provocations.

“North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development is a grave threat to peace and security in our world and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime,” Trump said before a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. “Our new executive order will cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea’s efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind. The order enhances the Treasury Department’s authorities to target any individual or entity that conducts significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea.”

The isolated nation has tested ballistic missiles and an apparent hydrogen bomb in recent weeks in the face of international economic sanctions and warnings. On Tuesday, Trump told the U.N. General Assembly that the U.S. “will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” if it is forced to defend itself or its allies.

President Donald Trump speaking as he meets with South Korean president Moon Jae-in during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, September 21, 2017.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President Donald Trump speaking as he meets with South Korean president Moon Jae-in during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, September 21, 2017.

Last week, the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed fresh measures to punish the communist dictatorship economically, with the support of China and Russia. Trump has repeatedly pressed China, North Korea’s only major ally, to do more to force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

Trump on Thursday highlighted that China’s central bank has told its banks to strictly implement U.N. sanctions. He thanked President Xi Jinping for what he called a “bold” and “somewhat unexpected” move.

On Tuesday, he also commended Beijing for signing on to two recent sanctions packages enacted by the Security Council. The U.S. sees China’s commitment to sanctions as crucial to forcing Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.

Trump appeared to try to quash speculation that he is targeting China or other North Korean trading partners with the action.

“I want to be clear — the order targets only one country, and that country is North Korea,” he said.

Trump said the order identifies industries including textiles, fishing, information technology and manufacturing, which the Treasury Department can target with “strong sanctions.” The president added that the order includes “measures designed to disrupt” shipping and trade networks to reduce North Korea’s ability to avoid the sanctions.

Earlier, national security advisor H.R. McMaster said Trump would take more action to stop North Korea “short of war.” Trump’s advisors have repeatedly said they prefer to use diplomatic methods to curb North Korea’s aggression.

The president again said that he seeks the “complete denuclearization” of North Korea.

Trump had separate bilateral meetings scheduled with both Moon and Abe on Thursday.

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/21/trump-to-make-north-korea-announcement-mcmaster-says.html

 

Trump announces new economic sanctions targeting North Korea over nuclear program

 September 21 at 12:45 PM

President Trump announced an executive order on Sept. 21 to enforce economic sanctions on North Korea and countries that do business with the “rogue regime” of North Korea. (The Washington Post)

NEW YORK — President Trump announced an executive order Thursday granting the Treasury Department additional authority to enforce economic sanctions on North Korea and target foreign companies and individuals that do business with the rogue nation in Northeast Asia.

Trump said the new powers aim to cut off international trade and financing that dictator Kim Jong Un’s regime uses support its nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs. The president also said that Chinese President Xi Jinping had ordered Chinese banks to cease conducting business with North Korean entities. Trump called the move “very bold” and “somewhat unexpected,” and he praised Xi.

“North Korea’s nuclear program is a grave threat to peace and security in our world, and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime,” Trump said in brief public remarks during a meeting with the leaders of South Korea and Japan to discuss strategy to confront Pyongyang.

He added that the United States continues to seek a “complete denuclearization of North Korea.”

He added that the order will give Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin the “discretion to target any foreign bank knowingly facilitating specific transactions tied to trade with North Korea.”


President Trump meets with South Korean president Moon Jae-in during the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Thursday. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

A White House fact sheet said the executive order imposes a ban on airplanes or ships that have visited North Korea will be banned for 180 days from visiting the United States, a move to crack down on illicit trade.

“This significantly expands Treasury’s authority to target those who enable this regime…wherever they are located,” Mnuchin said.

Trump’s announcement came as he has sought to rally international support for confronting Pyongyang during four days of meetings here at the United Nations General Assembly. In a speech to the world body on Tuesday, Trump threatened to “totally destroy” the North if necessary and referred derisively to Kim as “rocket man.” But the president and his aides have emphasized that they are continuing to do what they can to put economic and diplomatic pressure on the North in order to avoid a military conflict.

“We are witnessing a very dangerous confrontation spiral,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a speech to the United Nations, filling in for President Vladimir Putin, who skipped the forum. “We resolutely condemn the nuclear missile adventures of Pyongyang in violation of Security Council resolutions. But military hysteria is not just an impasse, it’s disaster…There is no alternative to political and diplomatic ways of settling the nuclear situation on the Korean Peninsula.”

China is North Korea’s largest trading partner, but Mnuchin emphasized that “this action is in no way specifically directed at China,” and he said he called Chinese officials ahead of the announcement to give them a heads up.

In recent weeks, the U.N. Security Council has approved two rounds of economic sanctions but also left room for further penalties. For example, the sanctions put limits on the nation’s oil imports but did not impose a full embargo, as the United States has suggested it supports. The Trump administration has signaled it also wants a full ban on the practice of sending North Korean workers abroad for payments that largely go to the government in Pyongyang.

Sitting down with South Korean President Moon Jae-in before the trilateral discussion with Japan, Trump said the nations are “making a lot of progress.”

Moon praised Trump’s speech to the U.N., saying through a translator that “North Korea has continued to make provocations and this is extremely deplorable and this has angered both me and our people, but the U.S. has responded firmly and in a very good way.”

The Security Council had also applied tough new export penalties in August, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that there are signs those restrictions are having an economic effect.

“We have some indications that there are beginning to appear evidence of fuel shortages,” Tillerson said in a briefing for reporters. “And look, we knew that these sanctions were going to take some time to be felt because we knew the North Koreans…had basically stockpiled a lot of inventory early in the year when they saw the new administration coming in, in anticipation of things perhaps changing. So I think what we’re seeing is a combined effect of these inventories are now being exhausted, and the supply coming in has been reduced.”

There is no sign, however, that economic penalties are having any effect on the behavior of the Kim regime and its calculation that nuclear tests and other provocations will ensure its protection or raise the price of any eventual settlement with the United States and other nations.

All U.N. sanctions have to be acceptable to China, North Korea’s protector and chief economic partner. China’s recent willingness to punish its fellow communist state signals strong disapproval of North Korea’s international provocations, but China and fellow U.N. Security Council member Russia have also opposed some of the toughest economic measures that could be applied, such as banking restrictions that would affect Chinese and other financial institutions.

“We continue to call on all responsible nations to enforce and implement sanctions,” Trump said.

Trump said the United States had been working on the North Korea problem for 25 years, but he asserted that previous administrations had “done nothing, which is why we are in the problem we are in today.”

Through executive orders and other measures extending back to the Clinton administration, the United States has been trying to undermine the economic underpinnings of the North Korean nuclear weapons program.

Each new sanction from Washington has been followed by evasive measures by Pyongyang, and then another attempt from Washington to ramp up pressure. Earlier sanctions restricted trade between U.S. companies and businesses involved with the North Korean regime and its weapons efforts. Until recently, however, such sanctions had limited effects because North Korea continued an expansive trade with other countries, mainly China.

In recent years, the United States has sought to expand the economic pressure by working through the international banking system, where the country has particular leverage because so much of international trade is conducted in dollars. The “vast majority of international transactions are denominated in dollars, the world’s reserve currency,” a Congressional report found last year.

Even when the companies are outside the United States, trade conducted in dollars typically must run through U.S. banks, and last year, that provided the Obama administration an opportunity to interrupt such business.

In November 2016, a special measure implemented by the Treasury barred U.S. banks from providing the accounts that handle such transactions for any North Korean bank or any party acting on its behalf. The measure essentially cut off North Korean banks from any trade denominated in U.S. dollars.

North Korea, however, has continued to conduct such trades by using front companies located in third countries, at least some of which are in China.

The new executive order expands the U.S. pressure on the North by allowing the Treasury to single out those front companies, and any banks helping to finance any trade with North Korea, for sanctions. Those sanctions would cut off trade with those companies or forbid them from conducting transactions in dollars.

Anne Gearan in New York,  Abby Phillip in Washington and Peter Whorisky contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/09/21/trump-says-the-u-s-will-impose-new-sanctions-on-north-korea/?utm_term=.f13cecf3e9e7

US-North Korea standoff could spark economic war with China

  • The escalating saber rattling between the U.S. and North Korea has raised the prospects of an economic confrontation between America and China.
  • So far, economic sanctions against Pyongyang have done little to convince North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to curb his ambitions to develop a nuclear missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
  • Now, critics of those measures are calling for stepped-up pressure on China, North Korea’s largest trading partner.

President Donald Trump (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) walk together at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) walk together at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017.

The escalating saber rattling between the U.S. and North Korea has raised the prospects of an economic confrontation between America and China.

At issue are a series of sanctions against Pyongyang designed to convince North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to curb his ambitions to develop a nuclear missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland.

But those measures have had little impact on the increasingly bellicose stand-off, and on Thursday President Donald Trump repeated his complaint that Beijing needs to lean harder on Pyongyang to defuse rising tensions.

“I think they can do a lot more and I think they will do a lot more,” the president told reporters. “We lost hundreds of billions of dollars a year on trade with China. They know how I feel. It’s not going to continue like that.”

On Tuesday, Trump threatened to inflict “fire and fury” on North Korea if it continues to pursue its nuclear weapons program. A recent series of successful North Korean test launches were matched Wednesday by Kim’s threats to launch a missile at the U.S. territory of Guam.

The latest round of sanctions includes fresh restrictions, unanimously approved Saturday by the United Nation Security Council, that target North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. The measures also ban countries from hiring more North Korean laborers, bar new joint ventures with North Korea and ban fresh investment in existing joint ventures.

“We say to China, ‘You have a choice whether you do business with North Korea or you do business with the U.S. but you can’t do both.'”-Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

Economic sanctions so far have proved ineffective largely because North Korea has found ways to get around them with “evasion techniques that are increasing in scale, scope and sophistication,” according to a February U.N. report.

“Designated entities and banks have continued to operate in the sanctioned environment by using agents who are highly experienced and well trained in moving money, people and goods, including arms and related material, across borders,” the U.N. report found.

The widest flow of goods and cash, by far, crosses North Korea’s border with China. As North Korea’s largest trading partner, China accounted for roughly 85 percent of overall volume in 2015, according to data from the United Nations Comtrade database.

Coal and other minerals accounted for more than 40 percent of North Korean exports in 2015, followed by textiles (29 percent), metals (7 percent) and machinery (6 percent). North Korea’s biggest imports included textiles, machinery and raw materials including minerals, metals and plastics.

Though China has taken some steps to curb imports from North Korea, exports rose by nearly 30 percent in the first half of this year, according to Chinese customs data. During the six-month period, overall trade flows across the North Korean-China border rose 10 percent to $2.65 billion.

That’s why critics of the existing North Korean sanctions say the measures don’t go nearly far enough in cutting off the flow of cash and goods to the Pyongyang regime.

Some of those critics are calling for “secondary sanctions,” which would cut off trade and financial flows to any country doing business with North Korea.

“We say to China, ‘You have a choice whether you do business with North Korea or you do business with the U.S., but you can’t do both,'” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D.-Md., told MSNBC on Thursday. “That is what got people’s attention with the Iran sanctions, and that’s what we need to do now.”

Last month, Van Hollen co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Pat Toomey, R.-Pa., that would impose secondary sanctions targeting third parties and countries that do business with North Korean companies and individuals.

Secondary sanctions offer a powerful financial weapon by allowing the U.S. government to bar foreign banks access to the U.S. financial system.

In late June, the White House imposed limited secondary sanctions on two Chinese citizens and a shipping company for helping North Korea develop nuclear weapons and also accused a regional Chinese bank, the Bank of Dandong, of laundering money for Pyongyang, Reuters reported.

Beyond cutting off cash and supplies to the North Korean regime, secondary sanctions squeeze the flow of cash to individuals, putting pressure on Kim’s political allies, according to David Cohen, a senior CIA official in the Obama administration.

“Imposing secondary sanctions would send a strong message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that the financial noose is tightening in a way that could drive a wedge between Kim and the Pyongyang elite critical to his continued hold on power,” Cohen wrote in a recent op-ed piece.

Imposing secondary sanctions that single out major Chinese banks and state enterprises comes with the risk of economic retaliation from Beijing.

To minimize that risk, the White House will need to build a much wider coalition of Asian countries, says Nicholas Burns, former U.S. ambassador to NATO during the George W. Bush administration.

But developing that coalition will be a tough task for an administration that has yet to fill dozens of key diplomatic positions. So far, the White House has filled fewer than half of the State Department positions that require Senate confirmation.

“It really is a time for diplomacy,” Burns told CNBC on Thursday. “But there’s no American ambassador to South Korea, there’s no secretary of State for East Asia. So, you’ve also got to fill out the ranks.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/10/us-north-korea-standoff-could-spark-economic-war-with-china.html

 

How did North Korea get nuclear weapons?

North Korea showed off its arsenal of missiles during this parade to celebrate the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang, North Korea, April 15, 2017.

North Korea showed off its arsenal of missiles during this parade to celebrate the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang, North Korea, April 15, 2017.

AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

North Korea is known for its bluster and outrageous propaganda, but the nuclear threat posed by the country is taken seriously by those in the know.

The “hermit kingdom” is estimated to have between 13 and 30 nuclear weapons, according to the Institute for Science and International Security. It could have up to 50 by the year 2020.

U.S. President Donald Trump has made it clear that he considers North Korea a legitimate threat. In early April, Trump dispatched the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its battle group to waters off the Korean Peninsula, and said “major, major conflict” was quite possible.

WATCH: Trump discusses military option for North Korea

Tensions have since soared over fears that North Korea may be about to conduct its sixth nuclear weapons test. On Friday, the country sent a letter to American lawmakers, saying any sanctions would only cause its nuclear testing program to “gather greater pace, beyond anyone’s imagination.”

But how did a country as isolated and impoverished as North Korea get its hands on nuclear weapons in the first place?

The Korean War

In 1950, a few months into the Korean War, U.S. President Harry Truman said in a press conference that the use of an atomic bomb was under “active consideration.”

Truman’s nuclear threat remained just that, with the Korean War formally ending in an armistice in 1953. But U.S. forces still laid waste to North Korean targets, dropping over 650,000 tons of bombs and napalm, according to The Korean War: A History.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay estimated that the U.S. “killed off 20 per cent of the Korean population.”

WATCH: North Korea propaganda video puts White House in crosshairs, simulates strike on US Capitol

After the war, North Korea tried to convince its wartime ally China to share its nuclear weapons technologies. Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung, grandfather of present-day leader Kim Jong-Un, twice asked Chinese ruler Mao Zedong for help but was refused both times, according to The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History.

Denied an easy path to a nuclear bomb, North Korea set about cobbling together an indigenous nuclear weapons program.

Soviet support

It helped that the country already had basic nuclear infrastructure in place.

As a founding member of the Soviet-led Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, North Korea had for years sent its scientists to the Soviet Union for nuclear energy training, according to a timeline compiled by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).

The Soviets even helped North Korea set up its first nuclear reactor in 1964. The reactor was used to produce radioactive isotopes for medicinal, industrial and research purposes.

READ MORE: Mike Pence urges China, Russia to pressure North Korea to abandon weapons program

But in the years that followed, the country began to explore weapons capabilities, summoning its best scientists home — including from Canada, according to NTI — to work on its fledgling nuclear weapons program.

But while North Korea’s scientists had the technical training, they lacked designs for the highly sophisticated facilities needed to produce nuclear weapons.

Path to a plutonium weapon

 In the ‘70s and ‘80s, North Korea set about acquiring sensitive nuclear technologies from Europe, taking advantage of the lack of adequate nuclear information safeguards at the time.

At one point, North Korean agents went to a conference in Vienna and chatted up some Belgian scientists who had a design for a plutonium separation plant, The Atlantic reported.

“Lo and behold, it wasn’t long before the North Koreans obtained the design information for that installation… and then eventually over a period of 10 to 15 years, they set that technology up, they deployed the plant, they started to experiment with it and use it,” Mark Hibbs, a senior fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told The Atlantic.

READ MORE: North Korea says it’s ready for war if Donald Trump wants

In 2003, CIA director George Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea “probably” has one or two plutonium-based nuclear warheads, according to The Statesman’s Yearbook 2012.

The following year, second-generation Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il invited a delegation of Western nuclear scientists to North Korea to see its plutonium extraction facility. One of them, American scientist Dr. Siegfried Hecker, revealed in a Google Tech Talk lecture that North Korean officials at one point brought out two marmalade jars of plutonium.

“Inside one was a plutonium powder and the other one had plutonium metal,” Hecker said.

He even held one of the jars in his hand, and concluded from its appearance, weight and warmth that it contained radioactive plutonium.

In 2006, two years after Hecker’s visit, North Korean state media announced the country’s first nuclear weapon test.

By then, the country’s scientists had increasingly begun redirecting their efforts away from plutonium-based nuclear weapons to uranium-based ones, according to NTI. This is because the facilities needed to produce weapons-grade uranium can more easily be hidden underground, away from prying satellites and weapons inspectors.

North Korea wanted to cover all its bases.

Pakistani proliferation

The groundwork for North Korea’s uranium nuclear weapons program was laid in the ‘90s, with substantial help from Dr. A.Q. Khan, the pioneer of Pakistan’s atomic bomb program.

Khan orchestrated the clandestine transfer of uranium centrifuges, enrichment machines and technical data to North Korea over a period of several years, according to the book Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks.

According to the book’s author, Mark Fitzpatrick, some of Khan’s deals were likely tied to existing official agreements between the two countries, wherein North Korea provided ballistic missile technologies to Pakistan.

WATCH: Pakistan test fires submarine-based cruise missile

In 2003, the U.S. learned of North Korea’s plans to build a uranium-enrichment facility with Pakistan’s help. The following year, Khan admitted to running a global nuclear proliferation ring, with Iran and Libya among his other clients.

Khan later told German magazine Der Spiegel that he was merely acting on behalf of the Pakistani leadership.

He even released what he claimed was a 1998 letter from Jon Pyong-ho, one of the architects of North Korea’s nuclear program, in which Pyong-ho assures that $3 million has been transferred to Pakistan’s army chief, and asks that Khan dispatch “the agreed documents, components, etc.” via a North Korean emissary.

READ MORE: Pakistan refuses to release doctor who helped US find Osama bin Laden

Khan was later pardoned by Pakistani leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

“By freely selling enrichment equipment and putting the designs on computer disks, Khan significantly lowered the technical barriers to nuclear weapons development,” Fitzpatrick wrote.

And no country benefited more from Khan’s largesse than North Korea.

READ MORE: Pakistan issues nuclear warning to Israel on Twitter after fake news story

In 2010, Dr. Siegfried Hecker was again invited to North Korea, and was this time taken on a tour of a uranium enrichment facility. He described what he saw as “truly mind-boggling” — around 2,000 centrifuges that appeared to contain highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium.

“[The North Koreans] take whatever they can get, and then they build things themselves, and they do it quite well,” Hecker concluded in his Google Tech Talks lecture.

The Nuclear Silk Road

In early 2015, debris from a North Korean satellite launch were analyzed by experts and found to contain components manufactured in the U.K. and routed through Chinese companies, according to a United Nations Panel of Experts report.

The following year, foreign journalists on a tour of a Pyongyang factory spotted a shipment of boxes from Calgary-based chemical producer Dow Canada, the Washington Post reported.

These are but two of several known instances of North Korea evading international sanctions and export controls to procure weapons components.

WATCH: China says it will impose more sanctions on North Korea if missile test conducted: Tillerson


“North Korea is very creative in the way that it goes about sanctions evasion, and the patterns in which it goes about it vary,” Andrea Berger, a senior researcher with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, told Global News.

Berger says North Korea often sends trusted nationals to China to set up front companies, often in collaboration with Chinese citizens. These companies then import equipment from Western manufacturers, who often have no way of knowing that the companies are really fronts controlled by the North Korean regime.

“Let’s say you’re Siemens in Germany and you get a purchase request from ‘Golden Star General Trading Corporation’ in China. You look into that company and it doesn’t have a big web presence  —  because most Chinese small and medium-sized enterprises don’t  — and you assume, after some limited due diligence, that it’s probably fine,” Berger says.

READ MORE: China defends trade practices with North Korea after Chinese-made vehicles seen towing ballistic missiles

Even Chinese banks themselves often get deceived, she adds.

“The bank account might be under, say, ‘Golden Star General Trading Corporation’ or a Chinese director,” Berger says. “The Bank of China might not immediately be the wiser that there’s a North Korean beneficiary behind that account.”

By covering their tracks in this manner, front companies procure sensitive goods before re-exporting them to North Korea, evading Chinese export controls via misleading shipping labels or creative smuggling techniques.

READ MORE: U.S. mulls North Korea sanctions, targeting cash that flows through Chinese banks

The racket doesn’t exclusively involve surreptitious front operations, however.

In 2015, a large Chinese company called Shenyang Machine Tools bought equipment from a European manufacturer under the explicit condition that the items wouldn’t be re-sold to North Korea, according to the Institute for Science and International Security.

Shenyang Machine Tools promptly broke the agreement by embedding the products into its own line of industrial machines, which were then exported to North Korea.

The equipment in question is commonly used to manufacture missile parts and uranium centrifuges.

Financial skullduggery

So how does North Korea pay for the expensive parts that it acquires illegally?

Turns out it doesn’t just use front companies to buy  —  it also uses them to sell its own military products.

Earlier this year, the UN Panel of Experts reported the interception of a shipment of 45 military radios bound for Eritrea. The shipment was sent by a Malaysian-based company called Glocom — which investigators found to be controlled by the North Korean intelligence agency.

Glocom was selling the radios to developing countries at North Korea’s behest — for $8,000 per unit.

READ MORE: U.S. urges UN Security Council to increase economic pressure on North Korea over weapons program

Berger, who is familiar with the Glocom investigation, said the company was “being used to facilitate sales of that technology specifically.”

The combination of such clandestine military deals, the sale of missile technologies and the export of coal and minerals have enabled North Korea to fund its nuclear procurement, the UN report suggested.

The “disco ball” warhead

In March 2016, North Korean state media released photographs of Kim Jong-Un standing in front of what it claimed was a miniaturized nuclear warhead “standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles,” Reuters reported.

The object was silver, shiny and shaped like a giant orb. It was roundly mocked on Twitter for resembling a disco ball.

So you’re saying this new disco ball with old CDs stuck on the side will be more glittery? 

But experts aren’t laughing.

Melissa Hanham, a researcher who analyzes open source data and photos to assess North Korea’s weapons programs, says it’s “plausible” that the object is a working nuclear warhead.

“We can’t see inside it to say, ‘Yes, it is’ or ‘No, it isn’t’ a nuclear warhead,” Hanham told Global News. “But they’ve had five nuclear tests, so it wouldn’t be surprising for them to have that kind of compact warhead by that many tests.

READ MORE: North Korea’s latest missile launch could be 2nd test of new technology, experts say

“I can tell you that we’ve measured it a lot, and it does fit into the payload of many of their missiles.”

Hanham admits it’s bizarre that North Korea would let its Supreme Leader stand so close to the real thing, but points out that “there are other photographs of Kim Jong-Un engaging in really dangerous activities that confuse us as well” — referring to photos of him smoking next to a solid-fuel rocket engine and standing underneath a heavy object dangling from a crane.

A legitimate threat

The purported warhead may have been goofy-looking, but it represented one of many milestones in a ramped-up schedule of North Korean nuclear weapons development over the past year and a half.

“North Korea in 2016 spent a lot of time doing a point-for-point refutation of every major narrative of the things it ‘couldn’t do’ in its nuclear missile program,” Berger says.

“All the developments we’re seeing in the nuclear missile program are deeply serious, and the more we continue to laugh about it, the more North Korea will attempt to demonstrate that it has a credible military program that is making rapid advancement.”

WATCH: Should we be worried about North Korea?

That advancement is the result of over half a century of steadily accumulated scientific know-how and single-minded subterfuge, with North Korea taking advantage of lax regulations and shady foreign partners to hoodwink the international non-proliferation regime.

Berger says China’s “conscious negligence” — in relation to both clamping down on front companies and tightening export controls — has resulted in such a huge flow of illicit goods to North Korea that it would take “an enormous effort” to rein it in at this point.

“The problem we have is enormous policy inertia, and very few good ideas of how to address the situation,” Berger says.

READ MORE: Could North Korea’s nuclear missiles reach Canada?

Hanham agrees. “I think there are probably still opportunities to slow or disrupt their program, but they’ve already crossed a lot of important thresholds that make it unlikely that they will give up their [nuclear] program entirely,” she says.

“North Korea has shown that it’s dedicated to acquiring nuclear weapons, and it’s very hard to stop any country that’s completely dedicated.”

How did North Korea get nuclear weapons?

Story 2: Fed To Start Quantitative Tightening In October 2017 by Selling Some ($10 Billion Per Month or $120 Billion Per Year) of $4,500 Billion Bond Portfolio As U.S. Economy Slows in 2017? — Videos

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Fed will finally wind down historic rescue program

The Federal Reserve is leaving interest rates alone to give the economy room to keep growing.

But the central bank did take historic action on Wednesday: It will begin undoing the extraordinary steps it took to prop up the economy for almost a decade after the financial crisis. The Fed said it would begin shedding some of the $4.5 trillion in investments starting next month.

The announcement marks a milestone in the long recovery from 2008, and reflects confidence by Fed officials that the economy will continue to grow.

Starting in October, the Fed will begin unloading $10 billion of debt from its so-called balance sheet, including $6 billion in Treasury securities and $4 billion in agency debt each month through December.

For years, the central bank piled up purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities, a strategy intended to stimulate the economy by reducing borrowing costs for everyone. At the time, it also reduced its benchmark interest rate to zero, and only began raising it in December 2015, seven year after the crisis.

On Wednesday, the Fed left rates unchanged, hovering between 1% and 1.25%.

Related: The CNNMoney Trump Jobs Tracker

The central bank has raised that rate three times since December as the economy has gradually improved. Raising rates too quickly could risk hobbling the recovery.

Still, the majority of Fed policymakers signaled on Wednesday that they expect to lift rates one more time this year.

Central bankers pointed to signs of strength in the U.S. economy, including a pickup in household spending and growth in business investments, in a statement following the Federal Open Market Committee’s two-day meeting.

“Job gains have remained solid in recent months, and the unemployment rate has stayed low,” the Fed said in a statement.

While Fed officials cautioned that the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria would hold back the U.S. economy in the “near term,” they said the storms would not “materially alter” the country’s economy overall.

“Within a few months, rebuilding activity has typically kicked in, returning economic growth to normal—or maybe even a little higher than normal,” wrote Eric Winograd, AB senior economist in a note. “So, despite the storms, we’re still confident the U.S. economy will keep its momentum, because the foundations are sound.”

Related: Fed Chair Janet Yellen warns – Monitor your credit report!

Some Fed officials have warned against raising interest rates until inflation — which reflects the prices of everything from meat and cheese to houses and cars — meets the goal of 2% that they consider healthy for the economy.

But inflation is still running below that target, even though the job market has picked up and other explanations have fallen away. In a press conference, Fed chair Janet Yellen described it as something of a “mystery.”

In past years, she said the Fed has been able to point to root causes of low inflation: the gap between those employed versus those that aren’t, energy prices and a rising dollar.

“This year’s inflation shortfall is more of a mystery,” Yellen told reporters at the press conference. “I will not say that the committee clearly understands what the causes are.”

Central bankers have been in a bind over when to lift rates again. Inflation has been stubbornly low for years, suggesting the Fed should hold off. But economic growth and low unemployment suggest they should act.

Fed officials cautioned that they do expect inflation to be higher than normal — at least for a little while — following the hurricanes that have devastated Texas, Florida and now Puerto Rico.

“Inflation remains the wild card of Fed policy and the temporary boost to gasoline prices following the hurricanes only clouds the picture further,” said Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst Greg McBride. “Whether the Fed hikes in December will remain an open question until December.”

Along with one more rate hike this year, the Fed also predicted three more possible moves next year.

“It is too soon for the committee to conclude that the recent slowing in inflation was sufficiently permanent to alter the Fed’s plans,” Michael Gapen, a Barclay’s analyst wrote in a research note.

The Fed said it continues to expect inflation to remain at 1.6%, below its target, and the unemployment rate to be 4.3%, based on its updated economic projections.

The central bank did, however, offer a rosier picture of the overall economy, upping its economic growth forecast to 2.4% from 2.2%.

Yellen again declined to address speculation about whether President Trump will nominate her for a second four-year term leading the Fed. Her first term ends in February.

http://money.cnn.com/2017/09/20/investing/federal-reserve-janet-yellen/index.html

Fed prepares to cut $4.5 trillion portfolio: What it means
By Matthew Rocco Published July 12, 2017 The Fed FOXBusiness Opens a New Window.

USA-FED/ The Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen will be on Capitol Hill for two days of congressional testimony starting Wednesday, and investors will be closely watching the proceedings for any clues about the central bank’s plans to shrink its securities portfolio.

The Fed has begun to pave the way toward cutting its balance sheet, which grew from about $1 trillion to $4.5 trillion in five years. The large increase is the result of an aggressive bond-buying stimulus program known as quantitative easing. The program was implemented to keep interest rates low and support a collapsed housing market. Since December 2015, the Fed has gradually raised the benchmark fed funds rate from near zero amid an improved labor market and U.S. economy. But its large portfolio of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities has remained in place.

With officials phasing out its crisis-era monetary policies, the Fed is now discussing a timeline to start winding down its portfolio to about half its current size.

“[The Fed] is in uncharted territory. They’ll be very cautious because they are committed to reducing interest rates and reducing the balance sheet. The first foray will be fairly limited,” said Nariman Behravesh, IHS Markit’s chief economist.

Investors have mostly prepared themselves for the Fed’s next move by anticipating an increase in interest rates. If anything, the Fed tends to “do less than the market expected,” Behravesh added.

“I think the good thing is the Fed is raising rates in an environment that’s not gangbusters, but it’s decent. Rates will go up, no question, but if they go gradually, it won’t do a great amount of damage to the economy,” he said, noting that the fed funds rate remains historically low. “Monetary policy is becoming tighter, but at the end of next year, it still won’t be tight.”

Fed members have already decided on a plan of action. Currently, the Fed purchases new bonds to replace the ones that come due. Once it starts the clock, the central bank will allow bonds to mature and roll off its balance sheet.

At their June policy-setting meeting, members of the Federal Open Market Committee set up a plan to shed as much as $6 billion worth of government bonds and $4 billion in mortgage-backed securities each month as a starting point. The Fed would raise the amount every quarter, eventually hitting a cap of $30 billion in Treasury and $20 billion in mortgage bonds per month.

Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen holds a news conference after the Fed released its monetary policy decisions in Washington, U.S., June 14, 2017. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTS1750PExpand / Contract
Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen holds a news conference after the Fed released its monetary policy decisions in Washington, U.S., June 14. (Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
Demand for bonds will weaken once the Fed stays on the sidelines, thus lowering prices and forcing interest rates to climb. (Bond yields move in the opposite direction as prices.) The magnitude of that rate increase will depend on how gradually the Fed sells off its holdings, Behravesh explained.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield has declined about 0.081 percentage points since the start of the year, hitting 2.36% in recent trading.

As for when the Fed will kick off the process, several officials prefer to “announce a start to the process within a couple of months,” according to minutes of their June meeting Opens a New Window. . Others believed that a decision later in 2017 would give the Fed more time to study inflation, which has fallen short of the central bank’s target, and U.S. economic activity.

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The general consensus is that the Fed will make an announcement in September. In her prepared remarks to Congress Opens a New Window. , Yellen affirmed that the Fed will “likely” implement the program this year, as long as the economy “evolves broadly as anticipated.”
“We do not intend to use the balance sheet as an active tool for monetary policy in normal times,” Yellen said, adding that the Fed is prepared to “resume reinvestments” if it sees a deterioration in the economic outlook.

No matter when the Fed begins to shrink its portfolio, economists expect it to move in the same way it raises interest rates: slowly.

“It’s hard to tell how slowly they are going to go,” Behravesh said, but the Fed is determined to move one step at a time. The impact on the financial and housing markets isn’t fully clear, and the Fed plans to raise the fed funds rate at the same time it dumps assets.

In June, the Fed raised the fed funds rate another quarter of a percentage point to a range of 1% to 1.25%. The next rate hike is expected in December.

http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2017/07/12/fed-prepares-to-cut-4-5-trillion-portfolio-what-it-means.html

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The Pronk Pops Show 939, August 2, 2017, Breaking News — Story 1: President Trump For National Unity Furiously Signs Flawed Russia, Iran, and North Korea Sanctions Bill — Videos — Story 2: Trump Announces New Immigration Policy — Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 939,  August 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 938,  August 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 937,  July 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 936,  July 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 935,  July 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 934,  July 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 934,  July 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 933,  July 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 932,  July 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 931,  July 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 930,  July 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 929,  July 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 928,  July 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 927,  July 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 926,  July 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 925,  July 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 924,  July 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 923,  July 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 922,  July 3, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 921,  June 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 920,  June 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 919,  June 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 918,  June 26, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 917,  June 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 916,  June 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 915,  June 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 914,  June 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 913,  June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 893,  May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889,  May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

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Image result for RAISE ACT immigration

Image result for Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act. charts on numbers 

Breaking News — Story 1: President Trump For National Unity Furiously Signs Flawed Russia, Iran, and North Korea Sanctions Bill — Videos —

President Trump signs Russian sanctions bill Fox News Video

President Trump signs new Russia sanctions, questions whether bill interferes with foreign policy 

BREAKING NEWS 8/2/17 PRESIDENT TRUMP SIGNS NEW RUSSIA SANCTIONS BILL

January 3, 2017: Sen. Tom Cotton joined Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News

Trump Signs Sanctions Bill – Another Deep State Victory

Real Bipartisanship: Republicans And Democrats Unite For New Cold War

Germany growing sick of US sanctions on Russia

Russians See Sanctions Regime as a Blessing in Disguise

Trump signs Russia sanctions bill but blasts Congress

In a pair of statements, the president said parts of the law violate the Constitution.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a bipartisan bill placing new sanctions on Russia — but in a statement, he claimed multiple aspects of the legislation violate the Constitution.

The sanctions, aimed at punishing Russia for its interference in the 2016 election, limit the president’s power to lift the sanctions without congressional approval and were initially resisted by the administration.

In one of two statements released almost simultaneously Wednesday morning by the White House, Trump said he supports the law’s efforts to crack down on the actions of Iran, North Korea and Russia. But the White House protested what it sees as congressional encroachment on the president’s power in foreign affairs.

“In its haste to pass this legislation, the Congress included a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions,” Trump said in one statement. “My Administration particularly expects the Congress to refrain from using this flawed bill to hinder our important work with European allies to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, and from using it to hinder our efforts to address any unintended consequences it may have for American businesses, our friends, or our allies.”

The president’s second statement included a stepped-up defense of his own administration’s foreign policy and input on the legislation. Trump said that “despite its problems,” he had signed the bill “for the sake of national unity.” The statement characterized the governments of Iran and North Korea as “rogue regimes,” a label he did not apply to the Russian government.

Even as he continues to label Russian interference in the election a “hoax,” the statement went further in acknowledging the intrusion than Trump has in the past.

“I also support making clear that America will not tolerate interference in our democratic process, and that we will side with our allies and friends against Russian subversion and destabilization,” the statement said.

Still, Trump was quick to push back on what he views as congressional overreach.

“The bill remains seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate. Congress could not even negotiate a health care bill after seven years of talking,” Trump said, in reference to congressional Republicans’ latest failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected,” the president continued. “As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”

The statements drew mixed reaction on Capitol Hill.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, a leading architect of the sanctions bill, told reporters he was not concerned about Trump’s statement, though he said he had not yet seen it.

“Both countries talk privately in ways that are very different from how they talk publicly,” the Tennessee Republican said of U.S.-Russia relations. “But this was a necessary step that we took, and I’m glad we took it.”

In addition to allowing lawmakers to handcuff Trump on any future changes to Russia sanctions, the legislation converts some existing sanctions from executive orders into law, making them more difficult to roll back, and imposes new sanctions focused on Moscow’s reported cyber-meddling in the November election. The legislation’s Iran and North Korea sanctions were broadly popular in both parties and with the Trump administration.

Although White House officials asserted that some of the preferred changes to the legislation were included before its final passage last week, the administration had long underscored its opposition to provisions that will impede Trump’s ability to warm relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The action by the Congress to put these sanctions in place and the way that they did, neither the president nor I are very happy about that,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters Tuesday. “We were clear that we didn’t think it was going to be helpful to our efforts.”

Still, Tillerson added, “we can’t let it take us off track of trying to restore the relationship” with Russia.

Even as Trump criticized the measure, he added that “I nevertheless expect to honor the bill’s waiting periods to ensure that Congress will have a full opportunity to avail itself of the bill’s review procedures.”

That apparent concession by Trump did not assuage Democratic concerns about his signing statement. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California warned in a statement that Trump’s interpretation of the sanctions bill “raises serious questions about whether his administration intends to follow the law, or whether he will continue to enable and reward Vladimir Putin’s aggression.”

And some Republicans who played a key role in the sanctions package raised their own alarms.

“Look, whether it was President Bush, President Obama, or President Trump, I’ve never been a fan of signing statements,” said Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado. “I think they’re a way for any president to usurp the role of the legislative branch. And that’s why I’ve always been concerned, regardless of who issued them, on any matter.”

The bill enjoyed wide bipartisan support. The House passed the sanctions by a vote of 419-3, and the Senate cleared it 98-2 — making any presidential veto futile and sure to be overridden.

With multiple investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, a veto also would have been politically disastrous.

After weeks of waffling, the White House confirmed over the weekend that Trump would sign the bill.

The White House still sought to characterize the bill as a win, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying in a statement on Friday that Trump “negotiated regarding critical elements of it” and decided to sign it “based on its responsiveness to his negotiations.”

The statement Wednesday also contained a warning — not to Russia, but to Congress.

“The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President,” Trump said. “This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/02/trump-signs-bipartisan-russia-sanctions-bill-241242

 

Furious Trump signs Russian sanctions into law – then issues tirade against ‘unconstitutional’ bill and boasts his billions show why Congress shouldn’t stop him making deals with Putin

  • President Donald Trump signed legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia, North Korea, and Iran
  • The White House did not organize a ceremony of any kind for it
  • Trump said in a statement he signed the bill for the sake of ‘national unity’ 
  • The White House lobbied to water down restrictions in the bill
  • It passed Congress overwhelmingly with veto-proof majorities
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he and the president were not ‘very happy’ about the sanctions bill 

President Donald Trump signed legislation Wednesday that slaps sanctions on Russia and limits his own ability to create waivers – but at the same time issued a furious statement calling it ‘flawed’.

He signed the bill, which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson publicly said he wasn’t happy about, in private.

Then the White House sent out statement by the president revealing the depths of his unhappiness and boasting that his billions showed he was far better at deal-making than Congress.

Trump said despite some changes, ‘the bill remains seriously flawed – particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.’

He called parts of it ‘unconstitutional’ and signaled fresh tensions with Republicans by criticizing their failure to repeal and replace Obamacare.

President Donald Trump has signed legislation that slaps sanctions on Russia and limits his own ability to create waivers

‘Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking. By limiting the Executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together.

‘The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice,’ Trump said in a statement.

‘Yet despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity. It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States. We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary.’

In a message to Congress in response to the bill, Trump singled out provisions his lawyers considers in conflict with Supreme Court case law – and asserts his own latitude to carry out the law as he sees fit.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump wasn't happy with the bill

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump wasn’t happy with the bill

‘My Administration will give careful and respectful consideration to the preferences expressed by the Congress in these various provisions,’ the president said in one point – in language certain to irk lawmakers who consider the law much more than a preference.

‘My administration … expects the Congress to refrain from using this flawed bill to hinder our important work with European allies to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, and from using it to hinder our efforts to address any unintended consequences it may have for American businesses, our friends, or our allies,’ he said.

The president also complained about what he said were ‘clearly unconstitutional provisions’ in the legislation relating to presidential powers to shape foreign policy.

 White House counselor Kellyanne Conway confirmed the signing on Fox News.

The bill passed Congress by overwhelming margins sufficient to override a presidential veto. The White House lobbied to water down restrictions in the bill.

The bill contains language meant to prevent the president from lifting them without approval from Congress – provisions that got drafted amid concerns Trump would lift or limit sanctions amid his frequent praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and desire to improve ties between the two powers.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters he shared misgivings with the president, as they try to improve relations with Russia.

‘Neither the president nor I are very happy about that,’ Tillerson said. ‘We were clear that we didn’t think that was going to be helpful to our efforts, but that’s the decision they made.’

The FBI and congressional intelligence panels are probing Trump campaign connections to Russians during the election.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference after the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, July 8, 2017

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference after the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, July 8, 2017

Then-candidate Donald Trump holds up a signed pledge during a press availability at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York September 3, 2015

Then-candidate Donald Trump holds up a signed pledge during a press availability at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York September 3, 2015

Justice Department lawyers and security officials were reviewing Russia sanctions legislation Tuesday

Justice Department lawyers and security officials were reviewing Russia sanctions legislation Tuesday

Trump during the campaign repeatedly called for better relations with Russia. The U.S. intelligence community concluded that the Russian government backed a campaign to interfere in the presidential election.

Despite communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin capped off by two one-on-one meetings in Europe, Trump has struggled to meet his goal.

Putin said last weekend that Russia would expel more than 700 U.S. diplomats from Russia in retaliation for the sanctions legislation.

I’M WORTH BILLIONS – I CAN MAKE BETTER DEALS THAN CONGRESS

Today, I signed into law the ‘Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,’ which enacts new sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. I favor tough measures to punish and deter bad behavior by the rogue regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang. I also support making clear that America will not tolerate interference in our democratic process, and that we will side with our allies and friends against Russian subversion and destabilization.

That is why, since taking office, I have enacted tough new sanctions on Iran and North Korea, and shored up existing sanctions on Russia.

Since this bill was first introduced, I have expressed my concerns to Congress about the many ways it improperly encroaches on Executive power, disadvantages American companies, and hurts the interests of our European allies.

My Administration has attempted to work with Congress to make this bill better. We have made progress and improved the language to give the Treasury Department greater flexibility in granting routine licenses to American businesses, people, and companies. The improved language also reflects feedback from our European allies – who have been steadfast partners on Russia sanctions – regarding the energy sanctions provided for in the legislation. The new language also ensures our agencies can delay sanctions on the intelligence and defense sectors, because those sanctions could negatively affect American companies and those of our allies.

Still, the bill remains seriously flawed – particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate. Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking. By limiting the Executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together. The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.

Yet despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity. It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States. We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary.

Further, the bill sends a clear message to Iran and North Korea that the American people will not tolerate their dangerous and destabilizing behavior. America will continue to work closely with our friends and allies to check those countries’ malignant activities.

I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.

In his statement about the bill, Trump highlighted a series of concerns about the legislation. Had he vetoed it, Congress could have easily overridden him.

‘Since this bill was first introduced, I have expressed my concerns to Congress about the many ways it improperly encroaches on Executive power, disadvantages American companies, and hurts the interests of our European allies,’ Trump complained.

‘My Administration has attempted to work with Congress to make this bill better. We have made progress and improved the language to give the Treasury Department greater flexibility in granting routine licenses to American businesses, people, and companies. The improved language also reflects feedback from our European allies – who have been steadfast partners on Russia sanctions – regarding the energy sanctions provided for in the legislation. The new language also ensures our agencies can delay sanctions on the intelligence and defense sectors, because those sanctions could negatively affect American companies and those of our allies.’

 Russia hawk Sen. John McCain of Arizona responded in a statement: ‘I welcome President Trump’s decision to sign legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The enactment of this legislation, which enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, sends a strong message to friend and foe alike that the United States will hold nations accountable for aggressive and destabilizing behavior that threatens our national interests and those of our allies and partners.’

McCain also called out Trump’s signing statement. ‘The concerns expressed in the President’s signing statement are hardly surprising, though misplaced. The Framers of our Constitution made the Congress and the President coequal branches of government. This bill has already proven the wisdom of that choice,’ he wrote.

“While the American people surely hope for better relations with Russia, what this legislation truly represents is their insistence that Vladimir Putin and his regime must pay a real price for attacking our democracy, violating human rights, occupying Crimea, and destabilizing Ukraine.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4754014/President-Donald-Trump-signs-Russia-sanctions-bill.html#ixzz4ocylqTKe

 

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia met with President Trump for the first time during the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany, this month. CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

MOSCOW — The last time the Kremlin forced a sweeping reduction of local staff at the American Embassy in Moscow, a young diplomat named Steven Pifer found himself working four days a week on arms control, as usual. But on the fifth day, he navigated the capital in a big truck to move furniture or haul mammoth grocery loads.

The entire staff of the embassy, except the ambassador, was assigned one day each week to grunt work called All Purpose Duty, Mr. Pifer recalled in an interview on Monday, when they shed their dark suits and polished loafers to mow the lawns, fix the plumbing, cook in the cafeteria and even clean the toilets.

That was a last hurrah for the Cold War in 1986, and although the embassy now functions on a far more complex scale, many current and former diplomats expect a similar effort in the wake of President Vladimir V. Putin’s announcement on Sunday that the United States diplomatic mission in Russia must shed 755 employees by Sept. 1.

“The attitude in the embassy was if they think that they will shut us down, we will show them,” said Mr. Pifer, who went on to become an American ambassador to Ukraine and is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “I think the embassy will adapt this time, too.”

Russia demanded that the United States reduce its diplomatic staff to equal the 455 Russian diplomats working in the United States, including at the mission to the United Nations. That means cutting about 60 percent of a work force estimated at 1,200 to 1,300 people, the vast majority of whom are Russians.

Given the continuing deterioration in relations between the two countries, core functions like political and military analysis will be preserved, along with espionage, experts said, while programs that involve cooperation on everything from trade to culture to science are likely to be reduced or eliminated.

Besides the State Department, a dizzying array of American government agencies have employees at the embassy, including the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce as well as NASA and the Library of Congress.

The other area expected to take a heavy hit will be public services, like issuing visas to Russian travelers to the United States, which is likely to slow to a glacial pace.

The Russian staff can be broken down into two broad categories: specialists who help individual departments in the embassy like public relations, and basic service workers employed as security guards, drivers, janitors, electricians and a host of other maintenance functions.

As of 2013, the latest year for which public records are available, there were 1,279 staff members working in the American Embassy in Moscow and in consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok, according to a report by the Inspector General’s Office. Of those, 934 were not Americans, including 652 basic service workers. The numbers are believed to have stayed roughly the same.

Russian staff members working in various departments like the political or economic section often provide the embassy’s institutional memory, because they stay on the job for years while American diplomats rotate every two or three years. (If the Russian employees stay for at least 15 years, they are eligible for special immigration visas to the United States and their salaries are high by Russian standards.)

It is the Russians who tend to notice nuances in domestic news coverage or in Mr. Putin’s speeches, or who direct diplomats toward public events or responsible journalists. The Russian employees provide continuity, an American diplomat who recently left Moscow said, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

Gen. Bruce McClintock, the American Defense attaché from 2014 to 2016 and now a RAND Corporation analyst, said Russian employees were often more effective in organizing meetings with government officials, while experienced translators ensured that the positions of both sides were clear in often complex discussions.

Russia had already chipped away at embassy programs, anyway, he noted. In 2013, it shuttered USAID, for example, and in 2014, in response to the West’s cutting off military cooperation after the Ukraine crisis, it closed the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Although the work continued, it was much harder to coordinate because its 10 employees had departed, said General McClintock.

Russian nationals are not given the security clearances needed to work in the more clandestine branches of the embassy. Indeed, in the chancellery itself, no Russians worked above the fourth floor in the roughly 10-story building, former Russian employees said.

The American Embassy, which held a staff meeting on Monday to confirm the news to its employees, refused to comment on the events, while in Washington the State Department would say only that it was studying the Russian government’s request.

The general hostility toward the United States means Moscow was already considered a hardship post for American diplomats, and the new measures will lower morale further, diplomats said.

Russian employees are confused and do not yet understand how the changes will be carried out, a former Russian employee now working outside the country said, adding with dark humor that Stalin used to say there were no irreplaceable people.

Russian employees who worked for specialized departments feel especially vulnerable because they carry a certain stigma in Russia’s current nationalistic mood. Michael McFaul, a Stanford University professor who was the American ambassador from 2012 to 2014, remembered trying to help find work for 70 Russians who were let go when the Kremlin closed the USAID office.

It was especially hard because “many Russian companies would not consider hiring these ‘tainted’ people,” he said in an email.

In recent years, local employees have come under increasing pressure from the Russian security service, the F.S.B., according to current and former employees. Russians escorting delegations of American musicians around the country were harassed, for example, or some in Moscow returned home from work to find agents sitting in their living rooms, demanding that they inform on their employers, they said.

Mr. Pifer said American diplomats who lived through the 1986 clampdown learned all kinds of things about Soviet life that they would not have otherwise.

One of his colleagues, who had to navigate customs, wrote a slightly tongue-in-cheek diplomatic cable titled “The 29 Steps Needed to Clear a Container of Furniture,” detailing every stamp issued on every piece of paper. The cable was a huge hit back in Washington, he said.

In previous spats with the United States or the West in general, Mr. Putin often chose measures that hurt Russians the most, not least because Russia’s limited economic reach globally means it does not have many options.

Angered over sanctions imposed by Congress under the Magnitsky Act in 2012, he banned Americans from adopting Russian children. When the West imposed economic and military sanctions after the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, he barred a broad array of food imports, forcing up prices and limiting the options for Russian consumers.

This time, hundreds of Russians will lose their jobs and Russian travelers hoping to visit the United States are likely to wait months for visas. Some 50 Russians were employed in the consular section that processes visas, according to the inspector general’s report.

“I don’t think Mr. Putin is terribly worried about this,” Mr. Collins said, noting the presidential election looming in March. “As he is running for election, it is comfortable for him to show that he can stand up to the Americans and to protect Russian interests and that is what he is doing.”

Outside the embassy on Monday, many of those emerging from the visa section suggested the Russian measures could only make a bad situation worse. Anecdotal evidence suggested that on both sides, what used to take weeks had already slowed to months.

Shavkat Butaev, 50, who works for a company that helps Russians get visas, said rejections were way up, too. “It was never like this before. Fifty, 60 people get rejected every day,” he said.

Oleg Smirnov, an 18-year-old student studying in the United States to become a psychiatrist, said that he had hoped President Trump would improve relations and that he was worried about possible fallout on immigration policy.

“These mutual sanctions look like a game played with water guns,” he said

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/31/world/europe/russia-sanctions-embassy.html

Story 2: Trump Announces New Immigration Policy — Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act — Videos

Trump announces new immigration policy

Published on Aug 2, 2017

President Trump announced the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act on Aug. 2, which aims to cut immigration by half from the current level of more than 1 million green cards granted per year.

 

Pres Trump and Sens Cotton and Perdue Introduce “The Raise Act”. Excellent!

August 2, 2017: Sen. Cotton and Sen. Perdue Answer Questions about the RAISE Act at the White House

 

Jim Acosta vs Stephen Miller – Immigration – White House Press Briefing 8/2/17

Senator Tom Cotton, Immigration Reform, and the RAISE Act

Senators David Perdue and Tom Cotton RAISE Act Press Conference

Immigration by the Numbers — Off the Charts

Sen.Barbara Jordan Legal Immigration Recommendations

2015 Barbara Jordan TV ad

How Many Illegal Aliens Are in the US? – Walsh – 1

How Many Illegal Aliens Are in the US? – Walsh – 2

Milton Friedman – Illegal Immigration – PT 1

Milton Friedman – Illegal Immigration – PT 2

Why Free Markets Work: Milton Friedman on Political Economy (1996)

Obama’s Amnesty & How Illegal Immigration Affects Us

The Impact of Immigration on Jobs and Income

 

Trump, GOP senators unveil measure to cut legal immigration

Trump, GOP senators unveil measure to cut legal immigration

President Trump on Wednesday teamed up with two conservative Republican senators to roll out new legislation aimed at dramatically curbing legal immigration to the United States, a key Trump campaign promise.

Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) have been working with White House officials to revise and expand a bill released earlier this year that would halve the number of people who receive legal permanent residence over a decade.

The senators joined Trump at a White House ceremony to announce the measure.

The president told reporters in the Roosevelt Room that the measure “would represent the most significant reform to our immigration system in a half a century.”
They say the legislation would move the United States to a “merit-based” immigration system and away from the current model, which is largely based on family ties.
The measure reflects Trump’s rhetoric during the 2016 campaign, when he argued that the spike in legal immigration over the past several decades has taken job opportunities away from American citizens and threatened national security.
“As a candidate, I campaigned on creating a merit-based immigration system that protects U.S. workers and taxpayers and that’s why we are here today,” he said, adding the measure would “reduce poverty, increase wages and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars.”
Trump met with Cotton and Perdue in March to discuss the legislation, known as the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act.
The bill would mark a dramatic change in U.S. immigration laws, and could open up a nasty internal fight among Republicans.

The legislation would eliminate immigration preferences currently given to extended family members and adult children of U.S. citizens seeking green cards, and it would cap the number of accepted refugees at 50,000 — half of the Obama administration’s target for 2017.

It would also end the State Department’s Diversity visa lottery, which the senators say is “plagued with fraud.” The program had been allotted 50,000 visas for the 2018 fiscal year.

About 1 million immigrants receive green cards per year.

Conservative outside groups immediately praised the legislation and called for the Senate to vote on the bill.

“The RAISE Act helps realize President Trump’s vision of making America great again by making immigration great again as well. It provides a pathway for a modern, smarter immigration system while protecting those Americans struggling to make ends meet,” said Dan Stein, president of Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, added that the Cotton-Perdue bill will “do more than any other action to fulfill” Trump’s campaign pledges on immigration.

The legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate, however, where it’s expected to get pushback from Democrats as well as GOP senators who oppose strict limits on legal immigration and want a broader reform effort that would address the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

If Cotton and Perdue can get GOP leadership to bring the legislation up for a vote, supporters will need to cobble together 60 senators, including at least eight Democrats or independents, to agree to start debate on the legislation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and a handful of Republicans — including GOP Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Dean Heller (Nev.) — have been working on bills this year to allow undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children to, at least temporarily, remain in the country legally.

Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants have been granted temporary reprieves from deportation under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But it does not confer legal status on immigrants.

Cotton and Perdue would need to win over their votes, as well as Sen. John McCain. The Arizona Republican, who is currently undergoing cancer treatment, was critical of their earlier bill.

The White House roll out could give the legislation a boost of momentum, but the earlier version of the Cotton-Perdue bill garnered zero cosponsors.

Critics of the measure say it would devastate families’ effort to reunite with their overseas relatives while providing few economic benefits.

“If this is an acknowledgement that our immigration system is broken, the Trump administration and these senators are right, but this is the wrong way to fix it,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “Cutting legal immigration for the sake of cutting immigration would cause irreparable harm to the American worker and their family.”

“Congress should focus on stopping illegal immigration – not on restricting the legal immigration that grows our economy,” said John Feinblatt, president of the former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg-backed group New American Economy.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/344924-trump-gop-senators-unveil-measure-to-cut-legal-immigration

Sen. Cotton Officially Introduces RAISE Act

PUBLISHED:

Thu, FEB 16th 2017 @ 9:40am EST

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has officially introduced the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, S. 354, in the Senate. The bill would reduce legal immigration by up to 50% by ending future chain migration and the diversity visa lottery.

Roy Beck, President and Founder of NumbersUSA responded saying, “the RAISE Act has a number — S. 354 — and one that we will do all possible to ensure that lives on through history as one of the great achievements of this period of our country.”

The RAISE Act would:

  • End the Visa Lottery
  • Limit annual refugee admissions to 50,000
  • End chain migration
  • Reduce the worldwide level of family-sponsored immigrants from 480,000 to 88,000 by prioritizing nuclear family
  • Add a nonimmigrant visa for parents of adult U.S. citizens (W-Visa)
    • 5-year renewable visa
    • No work authorization or ability to receive public benefits

The RAISE Act would reduce legal immigration to the United States by 50% in an effort to diminish its impact on vulnerable American workers. First, it eliminates the visa lottery and limits refugee admissions to 50,000 per year, removing the ability of the President to unilaterally adjust upward refugee admissions. Further, it eliminates chain migration by limiting family-sponsored immigration to the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

While U.S. citizens maintain the ability to sponsor nuclear family members without numerical limitation, the worldwide level of family-sponsored immigration is reduced from 480,000 to 88,000 to account for the elimination of the extended-family categories. Finally, a new nonimmigrant visa category is created for parents of adult U.S. citizens. Under this new category, sponsored alien parents would receive a renewable 5-year visa, but must be financially independent or supported financially by the adult son or daughter, as the visa does not authorize the alien to work or receive any form of public benefit.

https://www.numbersusa.com/news/sen-cotton-officially-introduces-raise-act

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 938, August 1, 2017: Story 1: Vice-President On The Trump Doctrine In Speech Delivered From Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Will Sign Sanctions Bill For Russia, North Korea, and Islamic Republic of Iran — Videos — Story 3: Washington War Fever with Neocon Republicans and Progressive Democrats United Against Russia — Masking Incompetency — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

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Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

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Vice President Pence Speaks to Troops from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Published on Jul 31, 2017

Vice President Pence Speaks to troops from Estonia, Latvia, USA and Lithuania during Visit to Eastern Europe, the Baltic’s…

How Trump Will Reshape Foreign Policy

Gen. Jack Keane on what the ‘Trump Doctrine’ might be

Experts Agree: Trump Is Planning Limited North Korean Strike Next Month

What Fake News Won’t Admit: Trump Is A Foreign Policy Genius and International Media Superstar

Lionel Nation Live Stream: The World Pivots Towards War and the Fake News MSM Go Full Mooch

Vice President Mike Pence Arrives in Montenegro as Part of Tour of Baltic States

 

The Trump Doctrine is easy to understand — Just look at his background

Foreign policy experts all over Washington seem completely stupefied when it comes to understanding President Trump’s national security goals. And for a long time, I was one of them.

In happy hours all over town where we love to gather, some experts would describe Trump’s approach as “uneducated,”“unsophisticated” or even “unprofessional.”

Rubbish. They just can’t get over the fact that he doesn’t share their often overly polished and overly sophisticated perspectives. I should know, it’s my profession.

The simple fact is this: you don’t need a Ph.D. from Yale or Cambridge to understand Trump’s vision for America’s place in the world—you just need to take the time to study his background.

He doesn’t care about your foreign policy schools of thoughts, deep historical perspective or game-theory workshops. He just wants the best “deals” for America. Period. End of story.

Washington’s foreign policy brain trust would be wise to take heed the words of a 900-year-old Jedi master named Yoda: “Unlearn what you have learned”.

Understanding the Trump Doctrine is child’s play—just don’t overthink it.

Put away your Hans Morgenthau, Kenneth Waltz or just war theory training because President Trump has his own ideas when it comes to global affairs.

Our new president is very different than almost any other we can remember in modern times.

He does not have the professorial pontification skills or deeply intellectual mindset of Barack Obama. Nor does he have the government experience of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald R. Ford, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson or JFK.

Trump is cut from a different cloth—he’s a street fighter and certainly not a slick, ivy league educated foreign policy expert.

The Donald is a rough and tumble, school of hard knocks, New York City businessman. He doesn’t care about your foreign policy schools of thoughts, deep historical perspective or game-theory workshops. He just wants the best “deals” for America. Period. End of story.

All of this is exactly what the American people voted for. Something different—with the old models of thinking being clearly rejected. And we need to make our peace with it.

But that doesn’t mean he isn’t sophisticated or doesn’t have a sense of vision when it comes to international affairs.

In fact, Trump has his own loosely crafted foreign policy playbook, based on his own success and failures as a New York City businessman, entrepreneur and branding genius.

Our new president is taking his business acumen and applying it on a global stage. He has, at least in my opinion, what can be best described as a foreign policy balance sheet in his head. Trump looks at where he thinks America is “winning,” code for where Washington’s interests are moving forward, and losing, where America’s interests are not being served. And he tackles the ‘losses’ on that balance sheet with ruthless efficiency.

And that all makes Trump’s global agenda, one in which he takes on the toughest of problems—problems that have been festering for decades—a very hard task, but one that is worth pursuing.

Taking on China over North Korea will be an immense challenge—creating tensions in a relationship with the two biggest global economies and militaries. Taking on trade deals that many times were not always in America’s best interests might be even harder. Asking our allies to spend more towards our common defense won’t be easy. But who said change ever was?

Making all of this even more difficult is when people misinterpret the president’s own words or cherry pick his ideas to change his message, all in an effort to take him down.

Will Trump abandon NATO, leave South Korea on its own to confront a nuclear North Korea and withdraw to some sort of fortress America? Never.

Again, his past clues you into his thinking. Like any CEO, our president is using his background in business to strike the best terms for the nation in its relationships. And just like any CEO, he is not going to break a signed deal, like alliances with key partners the world over – that’s bad for the business of the nation. But he will try to ask for a little more—just like many of us do in our own lives and business deals. Shocker.

What unnerves people is the patented Trump approach—blunt and straightforward—and almost never politically correct in how he sometimes goes about striking a deal. That will get smoothed out in the months and years to come, just like many other presidents in the past. The stature of the office, the highest in the land, has that impact on the occupant.

But Trump is not going to change his core thinking or personality—that much is clear.

World leaders at the G-20 should already understand by now who our president is and his approach.

Trump is not going to coddle you, make you feel all warm and fuzzy when you do something against America’s national interests—he is not Barack Obama. He’s going to tell you in his own Trumpian way he is not impressed—and press you to change your position. And he might even do it on Twitter. And the media will go crazy over it, only amplifying the power of his message.

In fact, there might be a foreign policy vision that personifies the Trump Doctrine after all: mega-realism on steroids—and it’s what the American people asked for. Trump has stayed true to what he said he would do in foreign affairs, and it’s simple to understand, you just have to see the world through his own training and life experience—not yours.

Let Yoda be your guide.

Harry J. Kazianis (@grecianformula) is director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest, founded by former President Richard M. Nixon.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/07/07/trump-doctrine-is-easy-to-understand-just-look-at-his-background.html

VOICE

There Is No Trump Doctrine, and There Will Never Be One