The Pronk Pops Show 1274, June 13, 2019, Story 1: Two Tankers Transitioning The Strait of Hormus  in Gulf of Oman Shelled, Torpedoed and On Fire — Videos — Story 2: Totally Fiscally Irresponsible Democrat and Republican Parties: U.S. Federal Government Spending Totally Out-of-Control Should Exceed $4,000 Billion With $1,000 Billion Deficits For Fiscal Year 2019 and Forever! — National Debt Approaching 100% of Gross Domestic Product By 2020 — Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) — Entitlement, Welfare and Tax Reform Absolutely Must Happen To Avoid Massive Increases in Interest Rates — Videos — Story 3: United States Government To Purchase 478 New Joint Strike Fighter F-35s Lightning II for the Air Force, Navy and Marines and Allied Militaries From and Lockheed Martin for About $34 Billion — Videos — Story 4: What Will Cause The Next Recession In United States — Videos

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Story 1: Two Tankers Transitioning The Strait of Hormus  in Gulf of Oman Shelled, Torpedoed and On Fire — Videos —

Why isn’t the oil market reacting to the oil tanker attacks?

Iran responsible for attack on two tankers: Pompeo

US has video of Iran removing unexploded mine from oil tanker: Report

Iran rejects US accusation of involvement in tanker attacks

U.S. officials: Iran likely behind new tanker attacks

BREAKING – 2 Oil Tankers in Gulf of Oman (straight of Hormuz) on fire

Crew have been rescued after abandoning two oil tankers hit by explosions in the Gulf of Oman

US Navy Heads for Oil Tanker Incident in Gulf of Oman

 

Two Oil Tankers Attacked Near Straight of Hormuz

Tanker Attacks In Gulf of Oman Fuel Security, Oil Supply Fears

 

Oil tanker attacks echo Persian Gulf’s 1980s ‘Tanker War’

 Mysterious attacks on oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz this week show how one of the world’s crucial chokepoints for global energy supplies can be easily targeted, 30 years after the U.S. Navy and Iran were entangled in a similarly shadowy conflict called the “Tanker War.”

While the current tensions are nowhere near the damage done then, it underscores how dangerous the situation is and how explosive it can become.

The so-called “Tanker War” involved American naval ships escorting reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers through the Persian Gulf and the strait after Iranian mines damaged vessels in the region. It culminated in a one-day naval battle between Washington and Tehran, and also saw America accidentally shoot down an Iranian passenger jet, killing 290 people.

U.S. estimates suggest Iran attacked over 160 ships in the late 1980s confrontation.

“We need to remember that some 30% of the world’s crude oil passes through the straits,” said Paolo d’Amico, the chairman of the oil tanker association INTERTANKO. “If the waters are becoming unsafe, the supply to the entire Western world could be at risk.”

So far, six oil tankers have been damaged in suspected limpet mine attacks, explosives that can be magnetically stuck to the side of a ship. The first attack happened May 12 off the coast of the Emirati port city of Fujairah and targeted four tankers. Thursday’s apparent attack damaged two other tankers.

The U.S. has blamed Iran for both incidents, offering a video on Friday it said showed Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces spirit away one mine stuck to a tanker that didn’t explode in Thursday’s assault. For its part, Iran denies being involved and calls the allegations part of America’s “Iranophobic campaign” against it.

Meanwhile, the owner of the tanker Kokuka Courageous said its sailors saw “flying objects” before the attack, suggesting it wasn’t damaged by mines and contradicting the U.S. military.

Confusion pervaded the start of the “Tanker War” as well.

That conflict grew out of the bloody eight-year war between Iraq and Iran in the 1980s, which began when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. The war killed 1 million people. The U.S. supported Saddam by providing intelligence, weaponry and other aid.

Iraq first targeted Iran’s shipping and by 1984 attacked Kharg Island, a crucial oil-tanker-loading terminal for Iran. Its air force also attacked ships in the Persian Gulf. After the Kharg attack, Iran began a concerted campaign to attack shipping in the region.

Iraq ultimately would attack over 280 vessels to Iran’s 168, according to the U.S. Naval Institute.

The Iran’s mining campaign began in earnest in 1987. At night, the Revolutionary Guard would drop mines from vessels disguised as traditional dhows, which ferry cargo around the waters of the Persian Gulf.

As attacks targeted Kuwaiti oil tankers, the U.S. ultimately stepped in to protect them. The Soviet Union also volunteered.

https://www.newsday.com/news/world/oil-tanker-attacks-echo-persian-gulf-s-1980s-tanker-war-1.32361954

 

MISCHIEVOUS PLOT’

Iran accuses the US of LYING about the ‘suspicious’ attack on American-linked oil tanker and denies ordering ‘torpedo’ assault

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the “blatant” attacks on two tankers which burst into flames in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.

 A huge fire rages on board the Front Altair after it was reportedly hit by a torpedo in the Gulf of Oman

A huge fire rages on board the Front Altair after it was reportedly hit by a torpedo in the Gulf of Oman

 The tanker was one of two ships attacked today sparking an evacuation of all crew members

The tanker was one of two ships attacked today sparking an evacuation of all crew members

 The Pentagon released this image which is says shows Iranian involvement in the oil tanker attacks

The Pentagon released this image which is says shows Iranian involvement in the oil tanker attacks

But Iran has hit back at the “unfounded and reckless” claims and accused the US of “warmongering” as part of a “disinformation campaign”.

“The US and its regional allies must stop warmongering and put an end to mischievous plots and false flag operations in the region,” Iran’s mission to the United Nations said.

“Warning, once again, about all of the US coercion, intimidation and malign behaviour, Iran expresses concern over suspicious incidents for the oil tankers that occurred today.”

It came after Pompeo pointed the finger at Iran and the Pentagon released images and footage as “proof” of Iranian involvement.


What we know so far:

  • Two oil tankers were seriously damaged in the suspected torpedo attack
  • The US believes Iran is definitely to blame for the shocking attacks
  • Tehran has accused America of ‘Iranophobia’ and says it is innocent
  • Almost 50 sailors had to be rescued from the stricken tankers in the Gulf
  • Oil prices surged by 3.5 per cent after today’s suspected terror attack
  • Iran’s foreign minister has branded the explosions as “suspicious”
  • The US Navy’s 5th Fleet is now investigating the suspected torpedo attack

Pompeo said the attacks were part of a “campaign” of “escalating tension” by Iran which posed a threat to international peace and security.

Iran blasted his “inflammatory remarks” and said they amounted to “another Iranophobic campaign”.

“Iran categorically rejects the U.S. unfounded claim with regard to 13 June oil tanker incidents and condemns it in the strongest possible terms,” the Iranian mission said in a statement.

The hardline Islamic nation added that the US poses the “most significant threat” to the peace and security of the Persian Gulf region.

“The US economic war and terrorism against the Iranian people as well as the massive military presence in the region have been and continue to be the main sources of insecurity and instability in the wider Persian Gulf region and the most significant threat to its peace and security,” the statement said.

Iran’s foreign minister later dismissed the US accusations as “sabotage diplomacy”.

 The Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous is believed to have been targeted by a magnetic mine

The Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous is believed to have been targeted by a magnetic mine

 An aerial picture showing the huge blaze raging on the oil tanker after the attack this morning

An aerial picture showing the huge blaze raging on the oil tanker after the attack this morningCredit: AP:Associated Press

 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the blatant attacks

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the blatant attacksCredit: Getty Images – Getty

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blames Iran for attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in blast at the Islamic state

Both the Front Altair and the Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous burst into flames and were forced to evacuate in the troubled region on Thursday.

Reports suggested the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous may have been targeted by a magnetic mine causing a series of massive explosions on board.

The Pentagon released a video that it said showed Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from the tanker.

This suggests the Islamic Republic may have sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene.

SMOKING GUN?

The black-and-white footage, as well as still photographs released by the US military’s Central Command, appeared to show the limpet mine on the Kokuka Courageous.

But the owner has since said the tanker crew saw “flying objects” before the attack, suggesting the ship was not damaged by mines, according to AP.

Pompeo said the US will defend its forces and interests in the region but gave no specifics about any plans and he took no questions.

Hours later it was revealed the US Navy is sending the guided missile destroyer USS Mason to the scene of the attacks.

The USS Bainbridge rescued 21 of the 44 stricken sailors involved in the incident near the Strait of Hormuz.

BRITAIN BLASTS ‘DEEPLY UNWISE’ ATTACKS

Britain is working on the basis that Iran is responsible for the attacks and warned Iran that these actions were “deeply unwise”.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “This is deeply worrying and comes at a time of already huge tension.

“I have been in contact with Pompeo and, while we will be making our own assessment soberly and carefully, our starting point is obviously to believe our U.S. allies.

“We are taking this extremely seriously and my message to Iran is that if they have been involved it is a deeply unwise escalation which poses a real danger to the prospects of peace and stability in the region.”

Norwegian shipping firm Frontline, which owns the Altair, has denied Iranian reports that the tanker had sunk.

The ship was built in 2016 and is flagged to the Marshall Islands – a US associated state in the Pacific Ocean.

Chartered by Taiwan’s state oil refiner CPC Corp, the huge vessel set sail from the UAE port of Ruwais on Tuesday and was due to arrive in Kaohsiung on June 30.

Speaking to Reuters, the CEO of CPC’s petrochemical division Wu I-Fang said the tanker was “suspected of being hit by a torpedo.”

He said it was carrying 75,000 tonnes of naphtha, a petrochemical feedstock, which trade sources estimate to be worth more than $30 million.

Gulf of Oman attack- 23 oil tanker crew members filmed safe in Jask after suspected attack

Paolo d’Amico, chairman of the tanker association, Intertanko, said concern was rising for other crews braving the powder keg shipping lanes.

He said: “If the waters are becoming unsafe, the oil supply to the entire Western world could be at risk.”

It comes as tensions in the Persian Gulf between the United States and Iran are threatening to reach boiling point.

A Saudi-led coalition has described the attack as a “major escalation”.

In recent weeks, Washington has sent a number of battleships to the region in response to what it says are Iranian threats against American interests and its allies in the region.

The Kokuka Courageous – which is owned by Japanese firm Kokuka Sangyohad – set sail from Al Jubail in Saudi Arabia on June 10 and was due to reach Singapore by June 22.

Oil prices rose by 3.5 per cent following news of the explosions, according to reports.

Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif branded the explosions as “suspicious” calling them “reported attacks on Japan-related oil tankers.”

He said the incident had happened as Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei was meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a close American ally.

The US Navy’s 5th Fleet said it is aware of a “reported attack” in the area and is investigating.

A statement said: “US naval forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6.12 am local time and a second one at 7.00 am.

“US Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance.”

 The incident reportedly happened in the Gulf of Oman this morning

12
The incident reportedly happened in the Gulf of Oman this morning

Speaking about the attacks, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said: “The President has been briefed on the attack on ships in the Gulf of Oman.

“The US Government is providing assistance and will continue to assess the situation.”

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is run by the British Navy, urged “extreme caution” and said it was investigating the incident.

“We are deeply concerned by reports of explosions and fires on vessels in the Gulf of Oman. We are in contact with local authorities and partners in the region.”

Authorities do not believe that any British nationals were on the two ships.

A UK Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are deeply concerned by reports of explosions and fires on vessels in the Gulf of Oman. We are in contact with local authorities and partners in the region.”

This comes after the US claimed Iran used explosives to blow huge holes in four ships – including two Saudi oil tankers – anchored in the Persian Gulf last month.

The ships reportedly had ruptures measuring up to ten foot across  in their hulls as a result of the May 12 sabotage attacks.

Recent US and Iran tensions

  • May 5: USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force is deployed in Middle East in response to ‘a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings’ by Iran.
  • May 8: Iran vows to enrich its uranium stockpile if world powers fail to negotiate new terms for its nuclear deal. The US responds by imposing sanctions on Iran’s metals industry.
  • May 10: The US says it will move a Patriot missile battery into the Middle East to counter threats from Iran.
  • May 24: President Trump says the US will bolster its military presence in the Middle East with an additional 1,500 troops.
  • May 12: The UAE says four commercial ships off its eastern coast “were subjected to sabotage operations,” just hours after Iranian and Lebanese media outlets air false reports of explosions at a nearby Emirati port.

 Huge plumes of thick black smoke billow from the massive tanker in the Gulf of Oman following a suspected torpedo attack

Huge plumes of thick black smoke billow from the massive tanker in the Gulf of Oman following a suspected torpedo attackCredit: AP:Associated Press

 One of the tankers on fire in the Gulf of Oman following the suspected torpedo attack

One of the tankers on fire in the Gulf of Oman following the suspected torpedo attackCredit: AFP or licensors

 The Front Altair, from the US-linked Marshall Islands, was one of the ships reportedly attacked today near Iran

The Front Altair, from the US-linked Marshall Islands, was one of the ships reportedly attacked today near IranCredit: Shipspotting.com

Two tankers: all you need to know

  • Front Altair was built in 2016 and is flagged to the Marshall Islands
  • It is owned by Norwegian company Frontline and is operated by Dubai-based International Tanker Management
  • The ship was carrying 75,000 tonnes of naphtha, a petrochemical product, worth $30m when it was attacked
  • It was carrying 23 crew members who were all rescued
  • The vessel can carry up to 62,849 tonnes of cargo
  • It weighs a staggering 109,894 tonnes
  • Kokuka Courageous was built in 2010 and is flagged to Panama
  • It is owned by Japanese firm Kokuka Sangyo and is operated by BSM Ship Management
  • The ship was carrying 25,000 tonnes of methanol when it was attacked
  • 21 sailors on board were rescued. One suffered minor injuries

They were targeted near the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates – with one of the tankers due to be loaded with Saudi crude oil bound for the US.

A Washington-based official told the Associated Press that an American military team’s initial assessment indicated Iran or its allies used explosives to blow holes in the ships.

A huge US naval presence has built up in the Gulf over recent weeks amid a fevered standoff between Washington and Tehran.

US intelligence revealed Iran was on the verge of carrying out offensive action to disrupt and attack American and partner interests in the region.

It led to the deployment of US aircraft carriers, Patriot missiles and B52 bombers over recent days.

The general-secretary of the Gulf Cooperation Council described the sabotage as a “serious escalation” in an overnight statement.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman called the incidents near the coast of Fujairah on May 12 “worrisome and dreadful” and asked for an investigation into the matter.

US and Iran – a troubled history

  • Before the 1979 Iranian revolution, Iran was one of America’s biggest allies in the Middle East and was led by the US-backed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.
  • However, since the seismic revolt, Iran has been led by murderous Islamic fundamentalists and tensions with Washington have remained ever since.
  • On November 4, 1979, the Iranian regime took 52 US diplomats hostage in response to President Carter’s administration allowing Iran’s deposed former leader into America.
  • The hostage crisis lasted for 444 days and also included a failed rescue mission which cost the lives of eight US soldiers.
  • In April 1980, the US ended diplomatic relations with Iran – a break which lasted for more than 30 years.
  • In April 1983, Washington blamed the Iranian-funded terror group Hezbollah for carrying out a bombing attack on the American embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.
  • The assault, carried out amid a brutal civil war in Lebanon, killed 17 Americans.
  • In November of that year, two truck bombs in Beruit killed 241 US peace keepers. The US again blamed Hezbollah for the incident.
  • The Clinton White House, in 1995, placed a total embargo on Iran meaning US companies could not trade with the country.
  • And in 2002, George W Bush included the Islamic Republic in his famous “Axis of evil” speech along with North Korea and Iraq.

 The latest explosions in the region come after four ships were attacked with explosives last month in the Persian Gulf

The latest explosions in the region come after four ships were attacked with explosives last month in the Persian GulfCredit: Reuters
 The United States deployed an additional warship to the Gulf
The United States deployed an additional warship to the GulfCredit: AFP

What is the Iran nuclear deal?

The deal is an agreement between the Islamic Republic and a group of world powers aimed at scrapping the Middle Eastern country’s nuclear weapons programme.

It saw Iran agree to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium by 98 per cent.

According to the deal, Iran would receive relief from the US, the European Union and the United Nations Security Council on all nuclear-related economic sanctions.

The agreement was reached on July 14, 2015, and was signed by world powers in Vienna, Austria.

However,  on May 8, 2018, President Trump announced the US would withdraw from the agreement – which he has repeatedly called “insane” and ridiculous”.

America’s withdrawal from the deal mean crippling economic sanctions will once again be placed on Iran – further heightening tensions between the two countries.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9292305/iran-oil-tanker-attack-gulf-of-oman/

 

Tankers ablaze in suspected attacks near Gulf oil chokepoint

A picture obtained by AFP from Iranian News Agency ISNA on June 13, 2019 reportedly shows fire and smoke billowing from the Norwegian-owned Front Altair tanker, one of two vessels hit by suspected attacks in the waters of the Gulf of Oman

A picture obtained by AFP from Iranian News Agency ISNA on June 13, 2019 reportedly shows fire and smoke billowing from the Norwegian-owned Front Altair tanker, one of two vessels hit by suspected attacks in the waters of the Gulf of Oman

Suspected attacks left two tankers ablaze in the waters of the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, sparking fears of a broader conflict and sending world oil prices soaring.

The mysterious incident came amid spiralling tensions between Iran and the US, which pointed the finger at the Islamic republic last month over similar attacks in the strategic sea lane.

The UN Security Council is to hold a closed-door meeting later on Thursday at the request of the United States to discuss the suspected attacks.

The Norwegian Maritime Authority said three explosions were reported on board the Norwegian-owned tanker Front Altair after it was “attacked” along with the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous.

Iran said its navy rescued 44 crew members after the two vessels, which were carrying highly inflammable material, caught fire.

Footage aired on television showed thick, black plumes of smoke and flames billowing from one of the tankers as it lay out to sea.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the timing of the “reported attacks” was “suspicious”, coming as Japan’s prime minister held talks in Iran.

Suspected attacks involving tankers in Gulf

Suspected attacks involving tankers in Gulf

The US Fifth Fleet, based in the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, said its warships had received separate distress calls from each vessel.

The White House said US President Donald Trump was briefed on the suspected attacks and the government was assessing the situation.

UN chief Antonio Guterres condemned the “security incidents” and warned the world cannot afford a major confrontation in the Gulf, while the European Union called for “maximum restraint”.

State media in Iran said the incidents happened one hour apart in the early morning.

The Front Altair, a 111,000-tonne vessel carrying ethanol from Qatar to Taiwan, caught fire first off Bandar-e-Jask in southern Iran, the official IRNA news agency said.

“As the ship caught fire, 23 of the crew jumped into the water and were saved by a passing ship and handed over to the Iranian rescue unit,” it said.

Robert Hvide Macleo, chief executive for the ship’s owner Frontline, wrote in a text message to AFP: “I can confirm that the vessel has NOT sunk” and the crew were “all safe”.

– ‘Security incident’ –

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the "reported attacks" on two tankers in the Gulf were "suspicious" as it happened while the Japanese prime minister was having talks in Tehran

The Kokuka Courageous was headed to Singapore from Saudi Arabia with a cargo of methanol, IRNA said.

Singapore-based BSM Ship Management said it had “launched a full-scale emergency response following a security incident” involving the Kokuka.

“The 21 crew of the vessel abandoned ship after the incident on board which resulted in damage to the ship’s hull starboard side,” it said of the vessel owned by Japanese company Kokuka Sangyo Ltd.

“One crew man from the Kokuka Courageous was slightly injured… and is receiving first aid.”

In Tokyo, Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said: “A tanker carrying Japan-related goods was attacked. There were no injuries among the crew members. They got off the tanker. There were no Japanese members.”

Front Altair was reportedly still burning late Thursday, but the fire aboard the Kokuka Courageous was under control extinguished, said an Iranian official involved in the rescue operation.

The incident came as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was on an unprecedented visit to Iran, seeking to defuse tensions between Tokyo’s ally Washington and the Islamic republic.

– Oil price spike –

World oil prices surged following reports of the suspected attacks, exacerbating tensions in the crude-rich Middle East, analysts said.

“Tension across the Middle East is high — and the attacks on two tankers has further exacerbated the situation, even though there does not appear to have been any damage to the cargos,” said John Hall, chairman of British-based consultancy Alfa Energy.

London’s Brent North Sea oil jumped more than four percent in morning deals before trimming gains.

The strategic Strait of Hormuz

In afternoon trading, Brent for August delivery stood at $61.99 per barrel, up $2.02, or nearly 3.4 percent from Wednesday.

New York’s West Texas Intermediate was up $1.60 or around 3.1 percent at $52.74 per barrel.

The Gulf of Oman lies at the other end of the strategic Strait of Hormuz from the Gulf, part of a vital chokepoint through which at least 15 million barrels of crude oil and hundreds of millions of dollars of non-oil imports pass.

On May 12, four oil tankers — two Saudi, one Norwegian and one Emirati — were damaged in still unexplained attacks off the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.

US national security adviser John Bolton said Iranian naval mines were almost certainly behind those attacks without providing any evidence.

The UAE said initial findings of a five-nation investigation delivered to the UN pointed to the likelihood a state was involved.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia warned this month that “terrorist” attacks in the Gulf could imperil global oil supplies, as he sought to galvanise support against arch-rival Iran.

The kingdom, the world’s top oil exporter, ratcheted up tensions with Iran after the attacks off Fujairah, which were followed by a drone strike on a key Saudi oil pipeline claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Huthi rebels.

“We are in a dangerous moment in the region with this emerging pattern of attacks,” said Elizabeth Dickinson, senior analyst with International Crisis Group.

“Any miscalculation or misunderstanding risks a spiral toward more direct confrontation,” she told AFP.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-7136677/Two-oil-tankers-evacuated-new-incident-Gulf-Oman.html

Iran Has Little to Gain From Oman Tanker Attacks

Julian Lee,
Bloomberg

Two oil tankers have been damaged in a suspected attack in the waters between the United Arab Emirates and Iran as they were leaving the Persian Gulf. This is the second incident in four weeks, and raises the question of who gains what from them.

Fingers will certainly be pointed at Iran as the mastermind behind these events. But the potential benefits to the Persian Gulf nation are outweighed by the risks. And even if Tehran isn’t responsible, it will still suffer the consequences.

The first tanker to report a problem was the Front Altair. It was reported to be carrying 75,000 tons of naphtha, loaded in Abu Dhabi, to Japan, although it was signaling a destination of Kaosiung in Taiwan when it was damaged. The second vessel was the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, which was sailing from Saudi Arabia to Singapore with a cargo of methanol.

A person who’s heard local radio transmissions between ships in the region told Bloomberg that a torpedo attack is suspected to have caused an explosion and fire on the Front Altair. The managers of the Kokuka Courageous said in a statement that “the 21 crew of the vessel abandoned ship after the incident on board which resulted in damage to the ship’s hull starboard side.”

Who gains from these attacks?

The obvious answer is Iran. If Tehran is attacking tankers leaving the Persian Gulf – either directly, or through proxies – it sends a message that transit through the world’s most important choke point for global oil flows is not safe without its consent. If Iran is pushed to the brink economically by sanctions, it will not go quietly. Other nations in the region will bear the cost of disruptions to their own oil exports, while America and its allies will have to cope with higher crude prices and disruptions to supplies.

Not since 2005 have the world’s insurers considered shipping in the Persian Gulf so dangerous for oil tankers. Nevertheless, we are still far from the level of tension that existed during the so-called Tanker War of the 1980s, when 451 vessels (259 of them oil or refined petroleum product tankers) suffered some sort of attack in the region, according to a report from the U.S. Naval Institute. The incidents took place during the Iran-Iraq war, and the culprits were forces from both countries.

Then, the U.S. navy resorted to escorting vessels through the Persian Gulf. That would be an expensive operation to repeat and would tie up a large part of the U.S. and allied fleets in the region. It would also raise the cost of the U.S. drive against Iran, which began with President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018.

Brent crude was up by as much as 4.45% on Thursday, shortly after news of the attacks broke, although it has since lost some of those gains. The nation’s oil exports have been seriously curtailed by U.S. sanctions, and higher prices are its only route to increasing revenues. But the benefits are likely to be relatively small, given the dwindling volumes and steep discounts that the country probably has to offer to shift its oil.

There is another group that will benefit from the incident – the people who want to see the U.S. step up its campaign against Iran and move from an economic war to a military one. There are plenty of those, both in the U.S. and among its allies in the Persian Gulf and wider Middle East regions.

The timing of the attacks also raises questions.

They come as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is visiting Tehran, with the blessing of President Trump. On Wednesday Abe urged Tehran to avoid conflict at all costs and pledged to do his utmost to ease tensions. The tankers damaged on Thursday were carrying cargoes related to Japan,  Hiroshige Seko, minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, said on the ministry’s Twitter feed.

A day earlier, Iran freed a U.S. resident imprisoned on espionage charges.

This would seem very clumsy timing from a country seeing the first tangible signs of any easing of the crippling sanctions imposed by the Americans. But it is absolutely understandable if you’re someone whose ultimate goal is to derail any easing of tensions between the two nations, and to effect regime change in Tehran. Whoever is behind the attacks is no friend of Iran.

–With assistance from Elaine He.

Oil rallies after apparent attack on tankers near Strait of Hormuz, but finish off session high

Oil futures rallied Thursday, as an attack on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz raised fears of a potential disruption to the global flow of oil, but failed to recoup the previous days losses by the close.

“Supply concern flare-ups are not infrequent occurrences in crude markets,” said Ryan Giannotto, director of research at GraniteShares.

“The nature of these events is that the outcomes are quite binary: either a major supply disruption event transpires or it does not,” he said. “This lack of a middle ground in outcomes stokes fear in commodities markets, but the added risk premium tends to abate rapidly.”

West Texas Intermediate crude for July delivery CLN19, -0.33%  rose $1.14, or 2.2%, to end at $52.28 a barrel after tapping an intraday high of $53.45. The gains contrasted with a 4% drop that took the U.S. benchmark down to $51.14 Wednesday, the lowest front-month contract finish since Jan. 14, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-rebound-from-five-month-lows-on-reports-of-gulf-of-oman-tanker-fire-2019-06-13

Story 2: Totally Fiscally Irresponsible Democrat and Republican Parties: U.S. Federal Government Spending Totally Out-of-Control Should Exceed $4,000 Billion With $1,000 Billion Deficits For Fiscal Year 2019 and Forever! — National Debt Approaching 100% of Gross Domestic Product By 2020 — Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) — Entitlement, Welfare and Tax Reform Absolutely Must Happen To Avoid Massive Increases in Interest Rates — Videos —

 

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Federal Spending Tops $3 Trillion Through May for First Time; Deficit Hits $738 Billion

By Terence P. Jeffrey | June 12, 2019 | 2:25 PM EDT

(Getty Images/Win McNamee)

(CNSNews.com) – For the first time in the history of the United States, the federal government has spent more than $3 trillion in the first eight months of the fiscal year, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released today.

The record $3,013,541,000,000 that the federal government spent in October through May of fiscal 2019 was $181,157,920,000 more than the previous record of $2,832,383,080,000 (in constant May 2019 dollars) that the federal government spent in October through May of fiscal 2009.

Total federal tax revenues in the first eight months of fiscal 2019 hit $2,274,902,000,000, which fell $5,612,990,000 short of the record $2,280,514,990,000 (in constant May 2019 dollars) that the Treasury collected in total tax revenues in the first eight months of fiscal 2016.

Even with the second highest tax revenues ever collected in the first eight months of the fiscal year, the federal government still ran a deficit for those eight months of $738,639,000,000.

Table 3 of the Monthly Treasury Statement, which summarizes federal receipts and outlays for the current fiscal year to date, indicated the Department of Health and Human Services cost the most money, accounting for $834,346,000,000 in federal spending in the first eight months of the fiscal year. The Social Security Administration cost the second most, accounting for $730,000,000,000 in federal spending during the period.

The Department of Defense was third, accounting for $439,289,000,000 in federal spending.

The combined $1,564,346,000,000 the federal government spent on HHS and the Social Security Administration during the first eight months of the fiscal year equaled 51.9 percent of the record total of $3,013,541,000,000 in federal spending during the period.

The combined $1,564,346,000,000 spent on HHS and Social Security was 3.56 times as much as the $439,289,000,000 spent on the Defense Department.

Story 3: United States Government To Purchase 478 New Joint Strike Fighter F-35s Lightning II for the Air Force, Navy and Marines and Allied Militaries From and Lockheed Martin for About $34 Billion — Videos

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The Reason Poland Sent an Official Request to Buy The F-35 Fighter Jets from the U.S.

The Reason Poland Sent an Official Request to Buy The F-35 Fighter Jets from the U.S. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced May 28 that his ministry sent a letter of request today to the United States regarding Poland’s plan to acquire 32 F-35A fighter jets. I care about replacing post-Soviet gear in the Polish Air Force with the most modern one, Blaszczak said at a defense conference in Warsaw, as reported by local news site Defence24.pl. The ministry aims to replace the Air Force’s outdated Soviet-designed Sukhoi Su-22 and Mikoyan MiG-29 jets with fifth-generation fighters. The acquisition is to be carried out as part of Poland’s military modernization program under which Warsaw plans to spend some 185 billion zloty ($48 billion) on new weapons and equipment by 2026. Last April, Blaszczak said that the deal to purchase F-35s was not far away from being signed, as the Polish cabinet was holding the talks in parallel to its negotiations with Washington on the permanent deployment of U S troops to Poland. Warsaw has pitched for the United States to build a military base in the country, offering to allocate at least $2 billion toward the project, dubbed Fort Trump.

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Defence analyst Pierre Sprey on the F-35 (2012) – the fifth estate

Published on Dec 27, 2016
Our 2012 interview with Pierre Sprey a defence analyst who spent 20 years working at the Pentagon and helped designed one of the most successful jetfighters ever, the A10 Warthog. He is a confirmed critic of the F-35.

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Pentagon, Lockheed Martin Reach ‘Handshake’ Deal For Hundreds Of F-35s

If the deal goes through, the company will produce a whopping 478 F-35s. That’s the largest procurement in the Pentagon’s history.

The Defense Department and Lockheed Martin have reached a “handshake” agreement on a $34 billion contract to make hundreds of new F-35 fighter jets.

According to a press release from Lockheed Martin, if the deal goes through, the company will produce a whopping 478 F-35s. That’s the largest procurement in the Pentagon’s history.

As a Pentagon spokesperson told The Washington Post, buying the jets in large quantities should allow the Defense Department to lower the average unit cost per plane significantly.

The F-35 program has been repeatedly criticized for its hefty price tag. After all, the estimated lifetime cost of the program is more than $1 trillion.

https://www.newsy.com/stories/dod-lockheed-martin-reach-tentative-deal-for-f-35-jets/

 

Pentagon and Lockheed Martin reach tentative $34 billion deal for hundreds of F-35 fighter jets

One Pentagon official described it as the largest procurement in the history of the Defense Department.


A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft in Berlin. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt (Axel Schmidt/Reuters)

June 11 at 5:22 PM

The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin have reached a tentative agreement to procure 470 new F-35 fighter jets for the Air Force, Navy and Marines and allied militaries, the Defense Department announced Tuesday. A finalized contract award is expected in August, officials said.

If the massive order for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters is finalized, it will be the largest procurement in the history of the Defense Department. Its value is estimated at $34 billion.

The $34 billion agreement “marks the largest procurement in the history of the Department and provides a best value for our warfighter and taxpayer, incentivizes industry to continuously improve their performance and achieves the lowest F-35 unit prices per aircraft to date,” Vice Adm. Mathias Winter, F-35 program executive, said in an email to reporters.

Buying the jets in bulk should allow the Pentagon to decrease the average unit cost of the plane by about 15 percent, a Pentagon spokeswoman said. And it should bring the cost of the most common F-35 variant below $80 million one year ahead of schedule.

Lockheed Martin program general manager Greg Ulmer touted the company’s cost savings in the most recent contract, which he chalked up to “smart acquisition strategies and a relentless focus on cost reduction.”

“Beating our long-stated goal and delivering an F-35A below $80 million … is a testament to our joint government and industry team ― and we look forward to working with the Joint Program Office to finalize the agreement,” Ulmer wrote in an email.

Both Lockheed and the Defense Department are trying to address decades of criticism from congressional hawks and doves alike, who have characterized the F-35 program as too costly.

Almost since its inception, the F-35 has been a lighting rod for criticism around wasteful defense spending. And it has been a financial bedrock for Lockheed, propelling the Bethesda-based manufacturer to a dominant position atop the defense contracting hierarchy.

Proponents argue that the plane’s stealthiness, advanced sensors, targeting capabilities and extended flying range would make it an important asset in a war against a so-called “near-peer” competitor such as Russia or China.

But it is also the single most expensive military program in U.S. history by a wide margin, leading some to worry it will starve the Pentagon of resources it needs for other missions. The late senator John McCain called the F-35 a “poster child for acquisition malpractice” a “scandal” and a “tragedy” at different points during his tenure as Senate Armed Services Committee chairman.

President Trump also took an interest in the plane early in his presidency when he criticized its “tremendous cost and cost overruns,” and asked the Pentagon to consider buying one of Boeing’s F-18 jets instead. In early 2017, the Pentagon awarded Lockheed a contract that shaved roughly $728 million in costs ― an amount roughly equivalent to cost reductions already in place during the Obama administration.

Even Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive who is the acting defense secretary, has criticized the plane.

“The F-35, unequivocally, I can say, has a lot of opportunity for more performance,” Shanahan said in response to questions about whether he is biased toward his former employer.

Teal Group aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia said the contract announced Tuesday draws attention to the sheer size of the program. The agreement means Lockheed Martin will benefit from years of taxpayer-funded military contracts, and will be able to confidently plan for the future.

“With contracts you recognize the sheer enormity of the [F-35] program,” Aboulafia said. “We could still see four or five more of these [multiyear production] contracts.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/06/11/pentagon-lockheed-martin-reach-tentative-billion-deal-hundreds-f-fighter-jets/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ae8a8f28df8e

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US China Trade War Explained -Who Needs Who?

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

The Pronk Pops Show 997, November 7, 2017, Story 1: Communist Chinese Connection To Trade — Nuclear Proliferation — and — Terrorism (TNT) — Peace or War — China Must Destroy North Korea Nuclear Weapons and Missiles or Face The Consequences of Overthrow of Communist Party — U.S.Complete Embargo on All Chinese Trade and Investment — Story 2: President Trump Meets With Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and President Moon Jai-in As U.S. Navy Flexes Air Power — All Options Are On The Table — Video — Story 3: Saudi Arab On The Brink of War With Lebanon Controlled By Iran-backed Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah — Saudi Arab Blames Iran For Yemen Missile Attack — Purge and Roundup of Royal Prince Continues — Videos —

Posted on November 8, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Bombs, Breaking News, Cartoons, College, Communications, Computers, Congress, Constitutional Law, Countries, Cruise Missiles, Culture, Defense Spending, Disasters, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, European History, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Speech, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Hate Speech, Health, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic State, Israel, Japan, Language, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Medicare, MIssiles, Movies, National Interest, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Networking, North Korea, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Obama, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Pistols, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Religion, Resources, Rifles, Rule of Law, Saudi Arabia, Scandals, Science, Second Amendment, Security, Senate, Social Security, South Korea, Spying, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Trucks, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Turkey, U.S. Negotiations with Islamic Republic of Iran, Unemployment, United Kingdom, United States Constitution, United States of America, United States Supreme Court, Videos, Violence, War, Water, Wealth, Weapons, Weather, Welfare Spending, Wisdom, Yemen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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Pronk Pops Show 997, November 8, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 992, October 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 991, October 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 990, October 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 989, October 25, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 987, October 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 986, October 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 985, October 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 984, October 16, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 983, October 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 982, October 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 981, October 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 980, October 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 979, October 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 978, October 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 977, October 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 976, October 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 975, September 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 974, September 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 973, September 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 972, September 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 971, September 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 970, September 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 969, September 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 968, September 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 967, September 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 966, September 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 965, September 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 964, September 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 963, September 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 962, September 12, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 960, September 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 959, September 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 958, September 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 957, September 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 956, August 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 955, August 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 954, August 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 953, August 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 952, August 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 951, August 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 950, August 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 949, August 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 948, August 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 947, August 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 946, August 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 945, August 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 944, August 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 943, August 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 942, August 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 941, August 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 940, August 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 939, August 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 938, August 1, 2017

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Saudi Arabia arrests princes, ministers for corruption

Story 1: Communist Chinese Connection To Trade Nuclear Proliferation and Terrorism (TNT) — Peace or War — Destroy North Korea Nuclear Weapons and Missiles or Face The Consequences of Overthrow of Communist Party — Total Complete Embargo on All Chinese Trade and Investment —

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Donald Trump arrives in Beijing President to tell China ‘get tough on North Korea threat’

Why Trump needs to work with China to stop North Korea from attaining nukes

Trump in Beijing and US-China trade

North Korea Crisis: Trump Threatens to Stop U.S. Trade With China. Could He?

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Understanding the Chinese mindset

China and Democracy

The Future of China and the Chinese Communist Party | China Uncensored

Who Would Win a US-China Trade War? | China Uncensored

Chinese Leaders Fear Military Revolt | China Uncensored

Why China Fears Japan’s Military | China Uncensored

North Korea “Fatal Mistake” WW3 Nuclear Invasion

North Korea War Countdown Initiated ~ Urgent Warning

WHY & HOW CHINA HELPED NORTH KOREA IN DEVELOPING ITS NUCLEAR ARSENAL?

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[youtyube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTSTddC4O2c]

How Powerful Are Modern Nuclear Weapons?

Nuclear Proliferation

‘THE BOMB” NEW PBS Documentary about the history of nuclear weapons!!

Published on Jul 23, 2017
The Bomb is a 2015 American documentary film about the history of nuclear weapons, from theoretical scientific considerations at the very beginning, to their first use on August 6, 1945,to their global political implications in the present-day.The two-hour PBS film was written and directed by Rushmore DeNooyer, who noted the project took a year and a half to complete, since much of the film footage and images was only recently declassified by the United States Department of Defense. According to DeNooyer, “It wouldn’t take very many bombs to really change life on Earth, … The idea that there are thousands of them sitting around is pretty scary. I don’t think people today realize that. They don’t think about it. I don’t think they are scared. But in a way, they should be. Mark Dawidziak, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, summarized the film as follows: “The Bomb moves swiftly to cover Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Cold War, the arms race, the Red Scare, the witch hunt, the Cuban Missile Crisis, test-ban treaties, the “Star Wars” initiative, the anti-nuke movement, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of new nuclear threats. According to historian Richard Rhodes, “The invention [of ‘The Bomb’] was a millennial change in human history: for the first time, we were now capable of our own destruction, as a species…

How Does China’s Government Work?

TED – China’s Political System

Eric X. Li: A tale of two political systems

It’s a standard assumption in the West: As a society progresses, it eventually becomes a capitalist, multi-party democracy. Right? Eric X. Li, a Chinese investor and political scientist, begs to differ. In this provocative, boundary-pushing talk, he asks his audience to consider that there’s more than one way to run a succesful modern nation. TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more. Find closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages at

Xi Jinping: Why are we called Communist Party of China?

China congress: Xi Jinping declares ‘new era’ for China – BBC News

China’s Communist party enshrines Xi Jinping ideology in constitution

Published on Oct 24, 2017
China’s ruling Communist Party has voted to enshrine Xi Jinping’s name and ideology in its constitution, elevating him to the level of founder Mao Zedong. The unanimous vote to incorporate “Xi Jinping Thought” happened at the end of the Communist Party congress, China’s most important political meeting. Mr Xi has steadily increased his grip on power since becoming leader in 2012. This move means that any challenge to Mr Xi will now be seen as a threat to Communist Party rule. More than 2,000 delegates gathered in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People for the final approval process to enshrine “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era” into the Communist Party constitution of China. At the end of the process, delegates were asked if they had any objections, to which they responded with loud cries of “none”, reported journalists at the scene.

How Xi Jinping Went From Feeding Pigs to Ruling China

China Just Sent a Chilling Warning to North Korea About The United States

 

North Korea Is SCREWED After China Issues Brutal Threat Of What Will Happen If They Hit U.S.

 

Published on Aug 15, 2017
China Just Sent a Chilling Warning to North Korea About The United States
The threat of a North Korean nuclear attack is Trump’s biggest test of leadership yet – but another country might actually end up calling the shots. And Trump, to be fair, has been warning us about China for years. But I’m willing to bet that even he didn’t see this coming.
Fact is, aside from being deadly, brutal, and destructive, war is also expensive. And if you can’t afford to do it, you probably shouldn’t start it.
Or join it, for that matter. It’s why China has unofficially leaked a government policy for the world to see – that if North Korea attacks the US, China will remain neutral.
But if the US attacks first, China will join the war. Which means, put bluntly, that the only way World War III doesn’t start is for North Korea to hit us first. Which is unacceptable. About as unacceptable as World War III.China really put Trump in a bind.
Breitbart reports:
The Communist Party organization Global Times [published] an editorial declaring that China would remain neutral if North Korea starts a war but intervene on North Korea’s behalf if the U.S. and South Korea attempt a preemptive strike.
The Chinese government may eventually seek some diplomatic wiggle room by insisting the Global Times is but a newspaper printing an editorial, and the piece is written in the style of newspaper editors lecturing officials about what they “should” do, but China’s state-run media is a mouthpiece for its authoritarian government.If it sounds complicated, it’s really not. The Chinese government is run by the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese Communist Party owns and runs the Global Times. Therefore, whatever the Global Times prints is what the Communist Party wants it to print.
But it’s still a newspaper, of course, which means that, if the world – or, sometimes, the Chinese themselves – really don’t like a policy, the government can pretend that the newspaper just got the story wrong.
It’s an easy way to test a policy before you pass it. Or, in this case, an easy way to tell the world what you’re going to do, without all the trouble of officially telling the world what you’re going to do.
Fact is, China can’t really afford this war – Breitbart lists off several reasons, including tensions with India, Japan, and all the work securing the South China Sea. The Korea thing is just one more brick on an already heavy pile. But their way out of it forces Donald Trump to let the US get hit first.

‘Welcome to China! I love you!’: Beijing schoolchildren thrill Trump with Peking opera performance after private tour of the Forbidden City and tea with China’s Xi and Madame Peng

  • Trump landed Wednesday in China for meetings with President Xi Jinping
  • School children waving American flags greeted him at the airport in Beijing
  • President and first lady took in an extra special performance of Peking opera during a grand tour of the Forbidden City put on for him by Xi
  •  President has touted his close relationship with Xi, calling it ‘outstanding’
  • But he says that won’t stop him from getting tough with China over trade 
  • North Korea is expected to dominate the agenda as it did when pair met in April 
  • Last year when he visited China, Obama was prevented from using his stairs to deplane Air Force One in a major snub
  • Trump didn’t have that problem: Chinese authorities had a rolling staircase tall enough to reach the front door of the plane

President Donald Trump took in an extra special performance of Peking opera on Wednesday evening in Beijing during a grand tour of the Forbidden City put on for him by China‘s Xi Jinping.

Xi had the production staged in the former imperial palace that is now a museum just for Trump’s visit.

‘Welcome to China! I love you!’ a group of children who were part of the performance told the U.S. president when it was finished.

The president and first lady Melania Trump ended their evening with a dinner in another section of the Forbidden City with the Chinese leader and his wife, Madame Peng Liyuan.

'Welcome to China! I love you!' a group of children who were part of a Peking opera performance told the U.S. president this evening in Beijing

Trump took in an extra special performance of Peking opera on Wednesday during a grand tour of the Forbidden City put on by Chinese President Xi Jinping. President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are seen here in the Forbidden City with Xi and his wife Madame Peng Liyuan

The Trumps are at a private dinner now with Xi and his wife, Madame Peng Liyuan

SPECIAL MOMENT: The president and first lady share a fond moment after their arrival in the Forbidden City

President Trump tours the Conservation Scientific Laboratory of the Forbidden City with his wife, Xi and Peng

Trump viewed a clock on a "musical clock with country scene," a "gourd-shaped clock with rotating flowers," and a "clock with lifting tower," according to a placard bearing an English and Chinese-language descriptions of the items

Trump viewed a clock on a “musical clock with country scene,” a “gourd-shaped clock with rotating flowers,” and a “clock with lifting tower,” according to a placard bearing an English and Chinese-language descriptions of the items

After the tour, the presidents and the first ladies of the US and China watched a special performance of Peking opera that was staged for Trump's visit

After the tour, the presidents and the first ladies of the US and China watched a special performance of Peking opera that was staged for Trump’s visit

A military honor guard and flag-waving schoolchildren greeted Trump when he arrived Wednesday afternoon in China, the third country in his 12-day Asia tour.

U.S. ambassador to China Terry Branstad met Trump and his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, after Air Force One stopped on the tarmac in Beijing.

Trump deplaned from Air Force One without incident, avoiding the embarrassment Barack Obama suffered a year ago as he landed in China during the annual Group of 20 summit.

Obama was humiliated when he had to exit from the belly of the aircraft because authorities didn’t approve a staircase tall enough for him to walk out of the front exit of the plane.

Chinese officials rolled a large set of stairs to the aircraft’s door on Wednesday. 

WARM REUNION: Trump and Xi greeted each other like old friends on Wednesday in the Forbidden City

Trump was especially interested in a clock with lifting tour during his tour of an artifacts restoration center in the Forbidden City.  'Unbelievable,' he said

Trump and Xi watch the Peking opera from the Hall of Character Cultivation in the Forbidden City

Trump and Xi watch the Peking opera from the Hall of Character Cultivation in the Forbidden City

The U.S. president was delighted as children in yellow and red costumes danced on stage with peacock feathers

As Trump left the performance, the told inquiring reporters, 'We’re having a great time, thank you'

Trump hopped in his motorcade and sped through Beijing to the Forbidden City, where he had tea with his Chinese counterpart, whom he had entertained at his Florida Mar-a-Lago club in April, and the first lady of sprawling Asian country that is home to 1.4 billion people.

After a warm reunion over tea, Chinese president Xi Jinping led the Trumps to the Conservation Scientific Laboratory of the Forbidden City to participate in an artifact restoration.

Trump was intrigued by a ‘musical clock with country scene’ and a ‘gourd-shaped clock with rotating flowers,’ according to English-language placards.

Viewing a ‘clock with lifting tower, Trump said it was ‘unbelievable.’

Once Trump had moved on to another room, Tillerson entered with the rest of the U.S. delegation, including Branstad. The diplomat was eager to know more about the artifacts, asking many questions as White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, senior adviser Jared Kushner and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster milled about the room.

The two first couples next watched a performance of Peking opera, a distinctively Chinese art form that combines music, mime, dance and acrobatics.

Posing for pictures with the cast when the opera had concluded, Trump told them the extravagant show was ‘beautiful!’

Children waving American flags greet the Trumps as they arrive at the Beijing airport

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived on Air Force One in Beijing, China on Wednesday

Trump left Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea on his way to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to talk about global trade and the North Korean nuclear menace

A U.S> and Chinese honor guard met the Trumps, along with a cadre of schoolchildren waving the flags of both nations

Obama was denied use of an airport staircase when he deplaned Air Force One last September as he arrived in China for the annual Group of 20 summit – a move that was seen globally as a major snub

The Forbidden City, now a major tourist attraction, has its roots in the 15th Century and was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty through 1912.

On the agenda for Trump during his Beijing visit are requests for a hardline approach to economically paralyzing North Korea, and talks aimed at shrinking America’s massive trade deficit with China.

Last year the Chinese sold $347 billion more in goods to the U.S. than America sold into the world’s largest communist nation.

Trump is on a five-country trip through Asia traveling to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines

Trump roared with approval as he waded through a sea of children on the tarmac Wednesday in China

Trump said Monday in Japan that he's fond of Xi Jinping, the newly-elevated communist party chair of China, and the foreign leader likes him too

Trump left South Korea on Wednesday after delivering a speech to the country’s National Assembly. He said in a tweet Wednesday morning that he was looking forward to again seeing Xi, ‘who is just off his great political victory.’

He said Monday inJapan that he’s fond of Xi, the newly-elevated communist party chair of China, and the foreign leader likes him.

But he won’t allow their mutual affection to cloud his judgement, Trump asserted, as he pledged to take ‘very, very strong action’ against China and other countries that have been treating the United States ‘unfairly’ in the trade arena.

‘He represents China. I represent the United States,’ Trump said at a news conference in Tokyo.

On the way to Beijing, a senior White House official told reporters that the president plans to keep up his habit of tweeting while he’s in China, even though Chinese citizens can’t do it.

‘The president will tweet whatever he wants,’ the official said. ‘That’s his way of communicating directly with the American people. Why not?’

‘So long as he can access his Twitter account – because Twitter is banned in China along with Facebook and most of the other social media. I’m sure we’ve got the gear aboard this airplane to make it happen. But it is noteworthy that none of the major western platforms for social media are even allowed to operate in China.’

On Tuesday in Seoul, Trump pressured Xi’s government to totally isolate Kim Jong-un, the 33-year-old despot across the border, during remarks in Seoul.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that he was looking forward to renewing his bond with Xi, whom he welcomed to his Florida Mar-a-Lago private resort in April

Trump tweeted Wednesday that he was looking forward to renewing his bond with Xi, whom he welcomed to his Florida Mar-a-Lago private resort in April

Trump has touted his relationship with Xi Jinping calling it 'outstanding', but says he still intends to get tough with the Chinese leader over trade in Beijing

In this photo taken on October 31, 2017, Chinese paramilitary guards walk in The Forbidden City in Beijing

All responsible nations must cut off North Korea’s cash flow by imposing and enforcing international sanctions on Kim and his government, Trump declared, singling out China and Russia, two permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

‘It’s time to act with urgency and with great determination,’ the U.S. president said in a joint press conference with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in.

Beijing is the third destination on a five-nation hustle across eastern Asia.

As with every other stop on this trip, North Korea is expected to dominate Xi and Trump’s discussions.

But in Beijing, more than anywhere else during the visit, Trump – a former titan of real estate – is also under pressure to address the regional trade practices that he said as a candidate he would fix.

Trump pounded China for alleged currency manipulation in the presidential election last year that unexpectedly put him in power. He’s said as recently as February that the Chinese were ‘grand champions’ at the economic trick.

By artificially devaluing its currency, the yuan, Beijing has been able to been able to lower the price of its exports, ‘stealing’ American jobs, Trump has said.

Trump will tour a famous imperial palace and take in the opera today today with first lady Melania Trump as he brings his high-wire circuit of Asia to Beijing

His assessment was rejected by the International Monetary Fund last year, and Trump’s own administration has shied away from shackling China with the designation.

Since his April summit with Xi, the U.S. president has also backed off his verbal assault.

‘The relationship developed by President Xi and myself I think is outstanding,’ Trump said after less than a day of talks with the Chinese president and his representatives.

‘We look forward to being together many times in the future. And I believe lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away.’

Days later Trump was still gushing about his weekend in Florida with Xi in what amounted to a total about-face of his previous criticisms.

‘Now what am I going to do? Start a trade war with China while in the middle of him working on a bigger problem, frankly, with North Korea?’ he asked rhetorically in an interview with Fox & Friends.

Trump said later that month that it wouldn’t make sense to label Xi’s country a currency manipulator after the Chinese leader offered to assist the U.S. in its efforts to constrain North Korea.

‘Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!’ Trump tweeted.

China’s stepped up efforts to choke off Kim Jong-un’s finances has not kept Trump from complaining about the gross trade deficit between the two countries, nor has it had an immediate effect on the United States’ enforcement of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

Trump told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo late last month that the U.S. loses ‘hundreds of billions a year’ a year to China.

Trump is due in Beijing on Wednesday where he will meet Chinese leader Xi Jingping on his home soil for the first time (the two are pictured at the G20 summit in Germany in July)

‘We lose with almost every country, we have massive deficits,’ the billionaire president insisted. ‘We can’t allow the world to look at us as a whipping post. Not gonna happen, anymore.’

Monday, at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Trump told a reporter who asked how his administration plans to enforce its mandate of a ‘free and open’ Indo-Asia Pacific without riling up China, a major power on the continent, that he would not allow the communist country to take advantage of the U.S.

‘You will be seeing things of countries that have been treating the United States and the United States worker and companies…our country, and our workers very unfairly, you will be seeing that the United States will take very, very strong action,’ Trump said.

The legal work is mostly finished, he revealed. ‘And you’re going to see a very big difference, and it’s going to happen very soon. Because the United States, by many countries, has been treated very, very unfairly when it comes to trade.’

Trump has not shied away from attacking China on Twitter, both before and after his first meeting with Xi at Mar-A-Lago back in April

Trump has not shied away from attacking China on Twitter, both before and after his first meeting with Xi at Mar-A-Lago back in April

The administration believes that China is behind as much as $600 million in IP theft through forced technology transfers.

China’s Commerce Ministry has called the probe ‘irresponsible’ and ‘not objective.’ Beijing would almost certainly bring additional U.S. action before the World Trade Organization.

But Trump could unilaterally impose tariffs on Beijing through Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 if USTR determines that China is engaging in ‘unfair trade practices’ – a powerful weapon if he decides to use it.

Trump has been hesitant to act against Beijing so long as Xi goes along with his plans to suffocate North Korea’s nuclear ambition.

The resident left Seoul on Wednesday after meeting with Moon Jae-in, the newly elected leader of South Korea

Trump visited Japan earlier this week and after stopping in Beijing he is due to visit Vietnam and the Philippines before heading back to the US

At a briefing with reporters on Sunday evening in Tokyo, a senior White House official insisted that the economic and security concerns of the Trump administration are wholly separate issues when it comes to North Korea and trade with countries in the Indo-Pacific.

‘The United States isn’t going to barter away our interests on the trade front in order to make gains doing what the entire world has, more or less, obligated itself to do, and that is to contain and confront the threat from North Korea,’ the official asserted. ‘So I don’t see a comingling of those two issues.’
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5060593/Trump-tours-Forbidden-City-takes-opera-China.html#ixzz4xt5UopYC

 

 

Socialism with Chinese characteristics

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
China
Socialism with Chinese characteristics
Simplified Chinese 中国特色社会主义
Traditional Chinese 中國特色社會主義

Socialism with Chinese characteristics, meaning Marxism–Leninism adapted to Chinese conditions, is the official ideology of the Communist Party of China (CPC), claimed to be based upon scientific socialism. The term means Mao Zedong ThoughtDeng Xiaoping TheoryThree RepresentsScientific Outlook on Development and Xi Jinping Thought; that is, if you want to introduce socialism with Chinese characteristics in practice you have to implement, for instance, Xi Jinping Thought (which is a set of Marxist policies to implement socialism).

Primary stage of socialism

During Mao era

The concept of a primary stage of socialism was conceived before China introduced economic reforms.[1] When discussing the necessity of commodity relations at the First Zhengzhou Conference (2–10 November 1958) Mao Zedong—the Chairman of the CPC’s Central Committee—said that China was in the “initial stage of socialism” [1] Mao never elaborated on the idea; his successors were left to do this.[1]

After Mao’s death

On 5 May 1978, the article “Putting into Effect the Socialist Principle of Distribution According to Work”, elaborated on the idea that China was still at the first stage of reaching pure communism[2] and that it had not become a truly socialist society.[2] It is said[by whom?] that the article was written on the orders of Deng Xiaoping, so as to “criticize and repudiate” the beliefs of the communist left.[3] The term reappeared at the 6th plenum of the 11th Central Committee on 27 June 1981 in the document, “Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of our Party since the Founding of the PRC”.[4] Hu Yaobang, the CPC’s general secretary, used the term in his report to the 12th CPC National Congress on 1 September 1982.[4] It was not until the “Resolution Concerning the Guiding Principle in Building Socialist Spiritual Civilization” at the 6th plenum of the 12th Central Committee that the term was used in the defense of the economic reforms which were being introduced.[4]

At the 13th CPC National Congress, acting CPC General Secretary Zhao Ziyang, on behalf of the 12th Central Committee, delivered the report “Advance Along the Road of Socialism with Chinese characteristics”.[5] He wrote that China was a socialist society, but that socialism in China was in its primary stage;[5] a Chinese peculiarity which was due to the undeveloped state of the country’s productive forces.[5] During this phase of development, Zhao recommended introducing a planned commodity economy on the basis of public ownership.[5] The main failure of the communist right, according to Zhao, was that they failed to acknowledge that China could reach socialism by bypassing capitalism. The main failure of the communist left was that they held the “utopian position” that China could bypass the primary stage of socialism, in which the productive forces are to be modernized.[6]On 25 October 1987, Zhao further expounded on the concept of the primary stage of socialism, and said that the Party line was to follow “One Center, Two Basic Points”; the central focus of the Chinese state was economic development, but that this should occur simultaneously through centralized political control (i.e., the Four Cardinal Principles) and upholding the policy of reform and opening up.[4]

CPC General Secretary Jiang Zemin further elaborated on the concept ten years later; first during a speech to the Central Party School on 29 May 1997 and again in his report to the 15th CPC National Congress on 12 September 1997.[4] According to Jiang, the 3rd plenum of the 11th Central Committee correctly analyzed and formulated a scientifically correct program for the problems facing China and socialism.[4] In Jiang’s words, the primary stage of socialism was an “undeveloped stage”.[4] The fundamental task of socialism is to develop the productive forces, therefore the main aim during the primary stage should be the further development of the national productive forces.[4] The primary contradiction in Chinese society during the primary stage of socialism is “the growing material and cultural needs of the people and the backwardness of production”.[4] This contradiction will remain until China has completed the process of primary stage of socialism, and because of it, economic development should remain the CPC’s main focus during this stage.[4]

Jiang elaborated on three points to develop the primary stage of socialism.[7] The first—to develop a socialist economy with Chinese characteristics—meant developing the economy by emancipating and modernizing the forces of production while developing a market economy.[7] The second—building socialist politics with Chinese characteristics—meant “managing state affairs according to the law”, developing socialist democracy under the CPC and making the “people the masters of the country”.[7] The third point—building socialist culture with Chinese characteristics—meant turning Marxism into the guide to train the people so as to give them “high ideals, moral integrity, a good education, and a strong sense of discipline, and developing a national scientific, and popular socialist culture geared to the needs of modernization, of the world, and of the future.”[7]

When asked how long the primary stage of socialism would last, Zhao replied, “[i]t will be at least 100 years … [before] socialist modernization will have been in the main accomplished.”[8] The state constitution states that “China will be in the primary stage of socialism for a long time to come”.[9] As with Zhao, Jiang believed that it would take at least 100 years to reach a more advanced stage.[4]

Socialist market economy

Deng Xiaoping, the architect of the Chinese economic reforms, did not believe that the market economy was synonymous with capitalism or that planning was synonymous with socialism.[11] During his southern tour, he said, “planning and market forces are not the essential difference between socialism and capitalism. A planned economy is not the definition of socialism, because there is planning under capitalism; the market economy happens under socialism, too. Planning and market forces are both ways of controlling economic activity”.[11]

Ideological justification

In the 1980s it became evident to Chinese economists that the Marxist theory of the law of value—understood as the expression of the labor theory of value—could not serve as the basis of China’s pricing system.[12] They concluded that Marx never intended his theory of law of value to work “as an expression of ‘concretized labor time’ “.[12] Marx’s notion of “prices of production” was meaningless to the Soviet-styled planned economies since price formations were according to Marx established by markets.[13] Soviet planners had used the law of value as a basis to rationalize prices in the planned economy.[14] According to Soviet sources, prices were “planned with an eye to the … basic requirements of the law of value.”[14] However, the primary fault with the Soviet interpretation was that they tried to calibrate prices without a competitive market since, according to Marx, competitive markets allowed for an equilibrium of profit rates which led to an increase in the prices of production.[15] The rejection of the Soviet interpretation of the law of value led to the acceptance of the idea that China was still in the “primary stage of socialism”.[14] The basic argument was that conditions envisaged by Marx for reaching the socialist stage of development did not yet exist in China.[14]

Mao said that the imposition of “progressive relations of production” would revolutionize production.[16] His successor’s rejection of this view has, according to A. James Gregor, thwarted the ideological continuity of Maoism—officially “Mao Zedong Thought“.[16] Classical Marxism had argued that a socialist revolution would only take place in advanced capitalist societies, and its success would signal the transition from a capitalist commodity-based economy to a “product economy” in which goods would be distributed for people’s need and not for profit.[16] If because of a lack of a coherent explanation in the chance of failure this revolution did not occur, the revolutionaries would be forced to take over the responsibilities of the bourgeoisie.[16] Thus Chinese communists are looking for a new Marxist theory of development.[16] Party theorist Luo Rongqu recognized that the founders of Marxism had never “formulated any systematic theory on the development of the non-Western world”, and said that the Communist Party should “establish their own synthesized theoretical framework to study the problem of modern development.”[17] According to A. James Gregor, the implication of this stance “is that Chinese Marxism is currently in a state of profound theoretical discontinuity.”[18]

Private ownership

The concept of private ownership is rooted in classical Marxism.[19] Because China adopted socialism when it was a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country, it is in the primary stage of socialism.[19] Because of this, certain policies and system characteristics—such as commodity production for the market, the existence of a private sector and the reliance of the profit motive in enterprise management—were changed.[19] These changes were allowed as long as they improve productivity and modernize the means of production, and thus further develop socialism.[19] According to this perspective, Mao’s leftist belief that China could advance to full socialism immediately by bypassing capitalism is considered false.[19]

The CPC still considers private ownership to be non-socialist.[20] However, according to party theorists, the existence and growth of private ownership does not necessarily undermine socialism and promote capitalism in China.[20] It is argued that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels—the founders of communism—never proposed the immediate abolishment of private ownership.[20] According to Engel’s book Principles of Communism, the proletariat can only abolish private ownership when the necessary conditions have been met.[20] In the phase before the abolishment of private ownership, Engels proposed progressive taxation, high inheritance taxes and compulsory bond purchases to restrict private property while using the competitive powers of state-owned enterprises to expand the public sector.[20]Marx and Engels proposed similar measures in the Communist Manifesto in regards to advanced countries, but since China was economically undeveloped, party theorists called for flexibility regarding the CPC’s handling of private property.[20] According to party theorist Liu Shuiyuan, the New Economic Policy program initiated by Soviet authorities in the aftermath of the war communism program is a good example of flexibility by socialist authorities.[20]

Party theorist Li Xuai said that private ownership inevitably involves capitalist exploitation.[20] However, Li regards private property and exploitation as necessary in the primary stage of socialism, claiming that capitalism in its primary stage uses remnants of the old society to build itself.[20] Sun Liancheng and Lin Huiyong said that Marx and Engels, in their interpretation of the Communist Manifesto, criticized private ownership when it was owned solely by the bourgeoisie but not individual ownership in which everyone owns the means of production and hence cannot be exploited by others.[21] Individual ownership is consistent with socialism since Marx wrote that post-capitalist society would entail the rebuilding of “associated social individual ownership”.[22]

Criticism

According to writer and researcher Huang Yasheng and many others, the economic theory in China is not socialism with Chinese characteristics but the opposite—capitalism with Chinese characteristics.[23]

See also

References

Citations

  1. Jump up to:a b c Li 1995, p. 400.
  2. Jump up to:a b He 2001, p. 385.
  3. Jump up^ He 2001, pp. 385–386.
  4. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k He 2001, p. 386.
  5. Jump up to:a b c d Li 1995, p. 399.
  6. Jump up^ Schram 1989, p. 204.
  7. Jump up to:a b c d He 2001, p. 387.
  8. Jump up^ Vogel 2011, p. 589.
  9. Jump up^ 2nd session of the 9th National People’s Congress (14 March 2004). “Constitution of the People’s Republic of China”Government of the People’s Republic of China. Retrieved 14 January2013.
  10. Jump up^ Deng, Xiaoping (30 June 1984). “Building a Socialism with a specifically Chinese character”People’s DailyCentral Committee of the Communist Party of China. Retrieved 13 January2013.
  11. Jump up to:a b Staff writer (3 February 2012). “Market fundamentalism’ is unpractical”People’s DailyCentral Committee of the Communist Party of China. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  12. Jump up to:a b Gregor 1999, p. 114.
  13. Jump up^ Gregor 1999, pp. 114–116.
  14. Jump up to:a b c d Gregor 1999, p. 116.
  15. Jump up^ Gregor 1999, pp. 115–116.
  16. Jump up to:a b c d e Gregor 1999, p. 117.
  17. Jump up^ Gregor 1999, pp. 117–118.
  18. Jump up^ Gregor 1999, p. 118.
  19. Jump up to:a b c d e Hsu 1991, p. 11.
  20. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i Hsu 1991, p. 65.
  21. Jump up^ Hsu 1991, pp. 65–66.
  22. Jump up^ Hsu 1991, p. 66.
  23. Jump up^http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/economics/public-economics-and-public-policy/capitalism-chinese-characteristics-entrepreneurship-and-state?format=HB

Sources

Further reading

  • A. James Gregor. Marxism and the Making of China. A Doctrinal History. Palgrave Macmillan. 2014

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

Story 2: President Trump Meets With Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and President Moon Jai-in As U.S. Navy Flexes Air Power — All Options Are On The Table — Let’s Make A Deal North Korea — Video —

Image result for President Donald Trump President Moon Jae-in at the Blue House in Seul, South KoreaImage result for trump meets japanes prime ministerImage result for trump meets japanes prime minister

Trump’s South Korea speech, in 3 minutes

Trump’s speech to South Korea’s parliament (full)

Is Trump softening his stance on North Korea?

Trump urges N Korea to ‘come to the table’

Trump Calls On North Korea To “Make A Deal” – Full News Conference In Seoul

President Trump Receives a Military Briefing on North Korea from Top Generals 11/7/17

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Donald Trump in South Korea, Gives hint of Handling North Korea in Some different way.

President Trump meeting with President Moon Jae In of the Republic of Korea. Nov 7, 2017

President Trump participates in a bilateral meeting with President Moon Jae In of the Republic of Korea

Trump arrives in South Korea amid tensions with North

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump is officially welcomed to Seoul, Republic of Korea.

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrives in South Korea. November 7, 2017.

Is Melania Trump’s coat for South Korea fashion hit or miss?

Warning: China Russia Saudi Arabia & Iran To Use Yuan For Trading Oil Next Step Is WW3

High Alert: For The First Time In 13 Years, U.S. Deploys 7 Aircraft Carriers Simultaneously

For The First Time In 13 Years, U.S. Deploys 7 Aircraft Carriers Simultaneously

The US has simultaneously deployed 7 of the 11 U.S. nuclear aircraft carriers for the first time in over a decade according to the US Naval Institute. The three aircraft carriers with full air wings and strike groups positioned in the Western Pacific are the following: USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76); USS Nimitz (CVN-68); USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). Another four are conducting “short training missions as part of training operations or workups ahead of deployment”. Two out of four are operating in Eastern Pacific – USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) – and the remaining two are operating in the Atlantic, the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78).

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High Alert: 3 US Carrier Strike Groups Enter Asia-Pacific Ahead of Trump Visit

President Trump Joint Press Conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Japan. Tokyo. Nov 6, 2017.

President Trump attends state banquet hosted by Japanese PM. President Trump in Japan.

President Trump Participates in a Working Lunch with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan

Trump and Abe meet at a golf course in Japan

President Trump Plays Golf with Prime Minister Abe in Japan 11/5/17

Trump abruptly talking negotiations, not threats in Korea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Softening his aggressive rhetoric, at least for the moment, President Donald Trump stood on South Korean soil Tuesday and urged North Korea to come to the negotiating table. It’s time, he said, for the North to “make a deal” to rein in its nuclear weapons program.

It was a striking shift in tone for the president, who for months has issued increasingly dire threats to answer any hostile North Korean action with “fire and fury.” On Tuesday, his first day on the Korean Peninsula as president, Trump said he’d seen “a lot of progress” in dealing with Pyongyang, though he stopped short of saying whether he wanted direct diplomatic talks.

“It makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and make a deal that is good for the people of North Korea and for the world,” Trump said at a news conference with South Korean president Moon Jae-in. “I do see certain movement.”

Trump was winding down his visit to Seoul on Wednesday with an address to South Korea’s National Assembly, where he was expected to outline his view of dangers posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The next stop on his five-nation Asian tour: Beijing, where he will press China to constrict the North’s economic lifeblood.

President Donald Trump says he believes he sees a lot of progress on the North Korean issue. Trump also urged North Korea to ‘come to the table and make a deal.’ He spoke during a news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. (Nov. 7)

Ever the showman, Trump teased that he had a surprise in store for Wednesday, saying at a Tuesday evening banquet that he had an “exciting day” planned — “for many reasons that people will find out.” He did not elaborate.

Overall, the president sounded an optimistic note on disagreements with the North, saying confidently, if vaguely: “Ultimately, it’ll all work out.” Whether the shift in rhetoric signaled a change in policy or diplomatic strategy remained uncertain.

Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director in Washington for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said it could simply be Trump projecting “what he most recently heard” from Moon and Japan’s Shinzo Abe.

“I expect he heard from both Prime Minister Abe and President Moon the need to give diplomacy a chance,” Fitzpatrick said. “Of course, it’s not the first time he has talked about engaging with North Korea. The issue has been one of timing. Now is a good time, during a pause in missile testing.”

North Korea has fired off more than a dozen missiles this year but none in nearly two months. But analysts caution against reading too much into the pause.

There’s no public sign of any diplomatic progress between Washington and Pyongyang. U.S. officials say the back channel between the State Department and the North Korean mission at the United Nations in New York remains intact, but contacts have not been substantive other than achieving the release of American college student Otto Warmbier in June. He died days after his repatriation to the U.S.

Still, Trump’s conciliatory comments would be welcome in South Korea, where both the government and the wider population have been unnerved by the president’s threats against the North.

Trump did note the United States’ military options, mentioning that three aircraft carrier groups and a nuclear submarine had been deployed to the region. But he said “we hope to God we never have to use” the arsenal. And he accused North Korea’s Kim Jong Un of “threatening millions and millions of lives, so needlessly.”

Moon, who has been eager to solidify a friendship with Trump, said he hoped the president’s visit would be a turning point in the standoff with North Korea.

The president began his day with a visit to Camp Humphreys, a joint US-Korean military base where he shook hands with American and Korean service members and ate lunch with troops in a large mess hall. The visit was intended to underscore the countries’ ties and South Korea’s commitment to contributing to its own defense.

When he leaves South Korea, Trump flies to Beijing for what the White House sees as the centerpiece of his five-nation Asia trip.

China is North Korea’s largest trade partner, and Trump is expected to press its leaders to curtail their dealings with Pyongyang and to expel North Korean workers from its borders. Trump has praised China for adopting tough United Nations sanctions against North Korea but has urged it to do more.

“I want to just say that President Xi — where we will be tomorrow, China — has been very helpful. We’ll find out how helpful soon,” Trump said. “But he really has been very, very helpful. So China is out trying very hard to solve the problem with North Korea.”

Trump and first lady Melania Trump on Wednesday will meet and have dinner with Xi Jinping and his wife and receive a private tour of The Forbidden City, Beijing’s ancient imperial palace. White House officials point to the leaders’ successful summit in Florida this spring, an event in part defined by Trump telling his Chinese counterpart about the missile strike he had ordered on Syria while the two men enjoyed chocolate cake. But experts in the region suggest that Xi will have the advantage over Trump.

“Trump keeps portraying his relationship with XI as great pals but that’s wildly naive,” said Mike Chinoy, a non-resident senior fellow at the US-China Institute at the University of Southern California. “The Chinese have figured out how to play Trump: flatter him. And there’s nothing the Chinese do better than wow foreign diplomats.”

___

Associated Press writers Matthew Pennington, Ken Thomas and Catherine Lucey contributed from Washington.

___

https://apnews.com/19aece3ccf5c4c9496a777497379e709/In-Seoul,-Trump-calls-for-North-Korea-to-%22make-a-deal%22

EXCLUSIVE: We are ready for anything – don’t mess with our Hornets. Admiral in charge of supercarrier which will sail for North Korea’s doorstep sends message to Kim Jong-Un as Trump touches down in Seoul

  • DailyMailTV joined the Rear Admiral and crew of the USS Carl Vinson as the huge warship left its port in San Diego for a series of exercises ahead of its deployment
  • The Vinson will sail for the Western Pacific to relieve the USS Ronald Reagan and be one of two carrier strike groups in the region amid ongoing tensions with North Korea
  • Rear Admiral John Fuller, Commander of Carrier Strike Group 1, will lead the vessel and its ferocious armament of planes and escort of Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers and a guided missile cruiser
  • Aboard the 95,000 ton vessel are fighter aircraft such as the $70million F/A-18 Super Hornet – capable of reaching Mach 1.8 (1,190mph) with a massive armament of bombs and missiles
  • In a message to Kim Jong-Un Rear Admiral Fuller said: ‘He needs to think very carefully on how he works with us, he needs to understand that we have capabilities that no other country has.’
  • The supercarrier has more than 3,500 crew which swells to 5,300 when the air wing is on board – the warship was used to transport Osama bin Laden’s body for its burial at sea in 2011
  • President Trump embarked on his 12-day trip to Asia, arriving on Sunday in Tokyo, where he met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests

The twin engines of the F/A-18 Super Hornet build into a roar and the $70million supersonic jet is catapulted from the deck of the USS Carl Vinson with an ear-splitting blast.

The aircraft disappears off the bow of the enormous nuclear-powered super carrier in a haze of steam, the bright glow of its engines disappearing into the distance.

This is one of the planes the man in charge of the supercarrier wants Kim Jong-Un to fear – because the Vinson is due to set sail for waters close to North Korea.

President Trump arrives in South Korea Monday night putting him on Kim’s doorstep as tensions mount over the ‘little Rocket Man’s’ escalating nuclear threat.

Now one of the president’s most important commanders tells DailyMailTV that his sailors are ready for anything – and that Kim needs to ‘think carefully’ when Carrier Strike Group One is in his waters.

Rear Admiral John Fuller, Commander of Carrier Strike Group 1, will lead the Vinson, its ferocious armament of planes, and its escort of Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers and a guided missile cruiser.

Don't mess with our Hornets: DailyMailTV witnessed the incredible sight of hundreds of sailors and airmen on board the 1,092ft long, 117,000 sq ft USS Carl Vinson as they put its four aircraft catapults through their paces. Its aircraft include the Hornet and Super Hornets and the EA-18 Growler (pictured) electronic attack aircraft, which jams enemy radar systems 

Don’t mess with our Hornets: DailyMailTV witnessed the incredible sight of hundreds of sailors and airmen on board the 1,092ft long, 117,000 sq ft USS Carl Vinson as they put its four aircraft catapults through their paces. Its aircraft include the Hornet and Super Hornets and the EA-18 Growler (pictured) electronic attack aircraft, which jams enemy radar systems

Aboard the 95,000 ton vessel, the twin engines of the F/A-18C Hornet were heard roaring off as the $70 million aircraft was catapulted off the deck. The strike fighter aircraft, which can reach Mach 1.8 (1,190mph), disappeared off the bow of the super carrier in a haze of steam

Aboard the 95,000 ton vessel, the twin engines of the F/A-18C Hornet were heard roaring off as the $70 million aircraft was catapulted off the deck. The strike fighter aircraft, which can reach Mach 1.8 (1,190mph), disappeared off the bow of the super carrier in a haze of steam

Preparation: Before liftoff, Navy crew work diligently to complete the complex tasks

Mini tractors tow the F/A18s into place and the Top Gun pilots ready the jets for take off

Commander Brian 'Convict' Felloney gets ready for take-off. The decorated pilot has more than 620 carrier landings on his record, and was a Top Gun instructor on a previous deployment

This is how the Vinson deploys: In May the supercarrier was photographed from the air as it and the whole strike group got an escort from two South Korean destroyers, the Sejong the Great and the Yang Manchun. The Carl Vinson's U.S. Navy escorts were the USS Lake Champlain, a Ticonderoga-class cruiser, and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers the USS Michael Murphy and the USS Stethem

This is how the Vinson deploys: In May the supercarrier was photographed from the air as it and the whole strike group got an escort from two South Korean destroyers, the Sejong the Great and the Yang Manchun. The Carl Vinson’s U.S. Navy escorts were the USS Lake Champlain, a Ticonderoga-class cruiser, and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers the USS Michael Murphy and the USS Stethem

In an exclusive interview with DailyMailTV Rear Admiral Fuller says his strike group is ‘ready and in a direct message to Kim says: ‘He knows the capabilities we have.

‘Right now there are three aircraft carriers there, when we go through there – if we go off the coast [of North Korea] depending on our operations – he needs to think very carefully on how he works with us, he needs to understand that we have capabilities that no other country has.’

Standing on the deck of the Vinson, those capabilities are in no doubt.

DailyMailTV joined the Rear Admiral and crew of the Vinson as the huge warship left its port in San Diego for a series of exercises ahead of its deployment.

The ship raised its two 60,000lb anchors and set sail from Naval Air Station North Island, in Coronado.

Capable of reaching more than 30 knots (35mph) the Nimitz-class supercarrier – one of ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the US Fleet – headed out into the Pacific Ocean.

DailyMailTV witnessed the awesome sight of hundreds of sailors and airmen on board the 1,092ft long, 117,000 sq ft warship put its four aircraft catapults through their paces.

Four giant elevators brought aircraft up from the hangar deep below the 4.5 acre flight deck as Super Hornets lined up on deck to be catapulted into the air – just like in a real war.

The USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Theodore Roosevelt are both in the region amid ongoing tensions with North Korea. The Vinson will relieve the USS Ronald Reagan, keeping two carrier strike groups in the Western Pacific.

The ship is the same vessel that was used to transport Osama bin Laden’s body for its burial at sea in 2011.

Last week it was reported that the USS Nimitz had left the Middle East and is also heading to the Pacific to join the US Navy’s 7th Fleet area of operations.

Rear Admiral John Fuller (pictured above in the flag bridge aboard the ship) Commander of Carrier Strike Group 1, will lead the Vinson. He said his strike group is 'ready' and in a direct message to Kim said: 'He knows the capabilities we have'

All hands on deck: One of the most important man on the flight deck is Lieutenant Commander Erick Stroud (pictured) who serves as the Aircraft Handling Officer (ACHO) - also called the handler or mangler and manages the movement and positioning of aircraft

President Trump will visit Asia for the first time when he leaves Washington D.C. on Friday for a 12-day trip which will include China, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Vietnam.

The might of the Vinson is part of his message to the region’s leaders – that America has its allies’ backs, and its enemies should be afraid.

The Rear Admiral said: ‘There happens to be three carriers there that are gonna be working together for a while. This is good timing for us.

‘We’re going to go out to provide presence, stability, we’re going to go work with our partners and allies, we’re going to try to foment rules, laws and norms of theater.’

North Korea has not test-launched a missile in over a month, but has continued its threats on Guam and last week even threatened to detonate a nuclear weapon above ground.

Fuller, 52, the son of a retired Army colonel, said the ‘scheduled short cycle’ deployment is the Vinson’s ‘opportunity’.

‘I just know the Carl Vinson strike group is going to do the training to be ready to do what we’re called to do,’ he said.

Petty Officer 3rd class Joseph Newman, a 42-year-old nine-year veteran of the US Navy from Evansville, Indiana, is in charge of communications on the flight deck

‘We’re gonna go prepare our forces and our team to make sure that whatever missions they call us to do, so this provides perspective, Korea is one possible contingency plan that the aircraft carrier strike group is supposed to support.’

The Rear Admiral said the ‘beauty’ of what a carrier strike group brings is to project ‘awesome’ power at sea.

‘We don’t have to ask permission to go to some other land to operate our forces, we have the opportunity to use the seas to maneuver freely and we have the capability to project power from the sea as required.

‘But it is also a very stabilizing thing for our friends and allies that this capability is there as needed, we have the will power to use it and we have the proficiency to use it well.’

The Rear Admiral insists, however that the Navy’s first line of defense is to ‘promote peace’, adding: ‘My job is to make sure if they decide to use the capabilities an aircraft carrier and a strike group has, that we’re prepared to deliver those.

‘The civilian policy maker will do what they feel is in the best interests.

‘But I owe it to the parents of my sailors to make sure we’re ready.’

On deck getting ready is a complex task. Mini tractors tow the F/A18s into place and the Top Gun pilots ready the jets for take off.

Commanding Officer of the Vinson, Captain Doug ‘V8’ Verissimo gives the order and the jets roar into action.

Jet blast deflector (JBD) operator ABE3 Jasper Evans, who is known as a ‘Green Jersey’ describes the ‘intense’ moment a F/A-18 takes off.

His job is to raise the JBD to protect his shipmates from the searing heat of a jet engine.

‘Whenever the aircraft is getting ready to launch they throttle up and I raise the JBD so that no one behind can get burnt or blown away off the flight deck,’ he explained.

‘It gets really hot up here, really intense. But we’re fully protected, we wear float coats, flight deck pants and jersey, and a helmet and goggles.’

Evans, 27, is in his fourth year with the US Navy. Originally from Lawrenceville, Georgia, he has just one year left to complete his service.

Donald Trump kicked off his 12-day Asian trip in Japan on Sunday. The President met with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests

He has been on two long deployments overseas and is used to the strict routine of life at sea.

‘Everything is routine on a ship, you wake up at a certain time, go eat breakfast and get ready for when they call flight operations and we come upstairs on the flight deck, we suit up and get ready to launch the aircraft.

‘A work day ends at 10 or 11 o’clock and it repeats – very long days.’

The flight deck is awash with dedicated crewmen like Evans wearing different colored jerseys.

Green jerseys operate the JBDs, aircraft handlers wear yellow jerseys, blue jerseys work in the hangar bay and purple jerseys refuel the aircraft, while red jerseys handle aviation ordinance and crash and salvage.

The whole manic scene is watched over by white jerseys.

Interior Communications Electrician Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Newman from Evansville, Indiana is in charge of communications on the flight deck.

Everyday is routine on the ship as Navy crew are expected to wake up early in the morning, eat breakfast, get ready, arrive on the flight deck, suit up, and prepare to launch the aircraft. A typical work day ends at 10pm or 11pm

The flight deck is awash with dedicated crewmen wearing different colored jerseys. Green jerseys (center) operate the jet blast deflectors, and aircraft handlers wear yellow jerseys (right) 

‘I take care of all the maintenance of the cameras, the comms systems and the deck lighting as well as the lights up on the island,’ he explains.

Blue jerseys work in the hangar bay and purple jerseys refuel the aircraft, while red jerseys handle aviation ordinance and crash and salvage. The Hornets, Super Hornets and Growlers are moved up to the flight desk on huge aircraft elevators

Four giant elevators brought aircraft up from the hangar deep below the 4.5 acre flight deck as Super Hornets lined up on deck to be catapulted into the air - just like in a real war

‘I also take care of the ‘meat ball’, [a gray boom that displays lights that pilots use to help during the final seconds of landing].

‘You’ll hear the pilots say they’re on the ball as they come in to land. We also take care of all the sound power headsets that the crew use to communicate, we keep things running.

‘It’s a big job, up here in V2 and air department and we also have ICs downstairs in combat systems.’

Newman is a 42-year-old nine-year veteran of the US Navy and has served on the Vinson for six years.

‘I joined late, I did apartment maintenance before this.’

But perhaps the most important man on the flight deck is Lieutenant Commander Erick Stroud.

Stroud is the Aircraft Handling Officer (ACHO) – also called the handler or mangler and manages the movement and positioning of aircraft.

Stroud, 42, a married father of four from Griffin, Georgia, said the most important part of the preparations is keeping his flight deck clean and free of foreign objects.

‘I don’t want to be associated with damaging a $70million aircraft so we go to the extreme to make sure we’re prepared,’ he said.

The ship operates four squadrons of F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornets, one squadron of EA-18G Growlers, and Seahawk helicopters for transportation and maritime patrols 

Also on board is a squadron of E-2C Hawkeye early warning aircraft - designed to detect jets, ships and other vehicles from long distances 

Also on board is a squadron of E-2C Hawkeye early warning aircraft – designed to detect jets, ships and other vehicles from long distances

There are more than 3,500 crew on the Vinson which swells to 5,300 when the full air wing is on embarked, as it was in this 2011 photograph. The warship – call sign 'Gold Eagle' - can operate for up to 20 years without refueling since it is nuclear-powered

Speaking from his control room – a buzz of phone calls and radio chatter – just off the flight deck, he added: ‘This is the nucleus of aviation and flight operations, I control the entire flight deck as well as movement in the hangar bay and all the people involved, we have about 600 people working in those two areas and we integrate with the squadrons, that’s about 500 people.

‘That’s 1,100 people working together seamlessly to make this all happen.’

DON’T MESS WITH OUR SUPER HORNETS

The twin-engine strike fighter aircraft were first introduced to the US Navy in 1999 to replace the F-14 Tomcat, made famous in the hit movie Top Gun.

The F/A-18 Super Hornet can reach Mach 1.8, which is equivalent to 1,190mph at 40,000 ft.

On the Vinson they operate alongside the older Hornet and the related Growler. 

The Super Hornets’ armament includes: 

One M61A1/A2 Vulcan 20mm cannon

The strike fighter has 11 hard points on its wings and under the main fuselage which can carry a mixture of:

Missiles: Four AIM 9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles

Two AIM 7 Sparrow/ (2) AIM-120 AMRAAM

One Standoff Land Attack Missile

One AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile

One HARM (Anti-Radiation Missile) – designed to destroy enemy radar systems

Maverick air to ground missiles: Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW); Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).

Bombs: Paveway laser guided bomb; JDAMs (joint direct attack munitions); freefall bombs; mines.

As of 2011, 500 Super Hornets have been built on single-seat (F/A-18E) and twin-seat (F/A-18F) variations.

Source: US NAVY 

 Stroud keeps an eye on two large digital status boards showing the movements of aircraft on the flight deck but he also uses an old school ‘Ouija Board’ – a scaled replica of the flight deck on which templates of aircraft are moved around based on messages radioed in from spotters.

The lieutenant commander, a 25-year veteran, has four catapults to launch aircraft at his disposal as well as four arresting cables to recover the aircraft.

He moves the aircraft up from the hangar bay in the guts of the ship on four giant elevators.

When planes make an arrested landing, pilots aim to hit the No 3 cable of four arrested cables numbered 1-4 from aft to forward.

Their performance goes up on a board so it gets competitive.

But crew safety is of utmost importance.

Stroud explains: ‘There’s a red and white foul line, which is said to be drawn in blood, because you have to judge where the aircraft is coming in and everybody has to stand on the opposite side of the line.

‘If an aircraft is coming in and you get one of the tall guys level with the wing on the wrong side of the line, it’ll take his head off and we’ll have a body to clean up.

‘When we get into that level of complacency, where we get into the same routine every day, launching planes and recovering planes, that one second of being inattentive is dangerous.

‘You have to keep your head on a swivel no matter what.’

Everyone on the Vinson seems on point inside the 3,000 room hull underneath the flight deck.

There are several cafeterias, nine gyms, a Starbucks-style coffee shop and ‘luxury’ state rooms for ‘Distinguished Visitors’.

Since it is nuclear-powered, the Vinson – call sign ‘Gold Eagle’ – can operate for up to 20 years without refueling. It also has anti-submarine capabilities.

The seal of the ship is an eagle with extended wings, carrying a banner in its beak.

The Latin phrase ‘Vis Per Mare’ -‘Strength through the Sea’ – is inscribed on the banner.

The ship operates four squadrons of F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornets, one squadron of EA-18G Growlers – which disrupt enemy radar – one squadron of E-2C Hawkeye early warning aircraft, as well as a compliment of C2-A Greyhound transport planes and Seahawk helicopters.

There are more than 3,500 crew on the Vinson, which swells to 5,300 when the air wing is on board, which means working seven days a week with shifts often lasting 12 hours or more. But few complain about living on the floating city.

The massive warship has a 3,000-room hull below the flight deck which includes several cafeterias, nine gyms, a Starbucks-style coffee shop and 'luxury' state rooms for 'Distinguished Visitors'

On a daily average, the Navy spends around $60,000 feeding sailors and on Sunday, they serve a special brunch meal which includes Belgian waffles or some shrimp

On a daily average, the Navy spends around $60,000 feeding sailors and on Sunday, they serve a special brunch meal which includes Belgian waffles or some shrimp

In addition to the gym facilities, sailors also have the opportunity to take Zumba and spin classes, weight-lifting and functional fitness classes and even rowing club

‘On a daily average we spend around $60,000 to feed the crew, which is roughly about 15-20 pallets worth of food.

‘A special day for us is Sunday, we do a brunch we serve things like Belgian waffles, some shrimp, a special chance to give the sailors a chance to refresh for the next week.’

After filling up a lot of the sailors like to keep fit. Dan Larrell is in charge of putting them through their paces in the ship’s nine gyms.

‘I am a fitness director, if you imagine this warship as a large 24 hour fitness, we have 4,500 sailors and we treat them all as our clients,’ he explains.

Larrell says as well as running and maintaining the gyms he puts together the fitness schedule and offers Zumba and spin classes, weight-lifting and functional fitness classes and even rowing club.

‘Any sailor on any watch on any schedule can come to our classes,’ he added.

‘What’s really incredible is that we not only get the younger sailors at our classes but we get the captain of the ship, the XO [executive officer] of the ship and the admiral of the ship, when I train them… it’s the first time in a very long time someone is telling them what to do. It’s my time to make them work a little bit harder.’

Running the Vinson, let alone a whole Carrier Strike Group, is a huge undertaking and one that Fuller doesn’t take lightly.

He says he’s incredibly ‘honored and humbled’ to be in the position he’s in.

‘I never expected that I would have the opportunity to lead such an awesome fighting force and such an awesome group of sailors. It hasn’t even really sunk in, I’m just amazed I get this chance here. I am exceptionally proud of that.’

And the commander says America should be equally proud of the US Navy’s achievements.

He said: ‘The most awesome thing we have is some of the best people in America who volunteered to help protect and promote prosperity for our American citizens and then with those great people we have fantastic equipment and systems that allow us to project power from the sea for sustained periods of time in ways no other country can.’

Soon the Vinson will be in Kim’s waters – and those people and equipment could be tested as never before.

Story 3: Saudi Arab On The Brink of Proxy War With Lebanon Paritally Controlled By Iran-backed Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah — Saudi Arab Blames Iran For Yemen Missile Attack — Purge and Roundup of Royal Prince Continues — Videos —

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A senior Saudi minister has accused Lebanon of declaring war against the kingdom. The minister for Persian Gulf Affairs, Thamer al-Sabhan also accused the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah of committing acts of aggression and attacking the Saudi kingdom without further elaborations. He then urged the Lebanese government to realize the risks of Hezbollah actions. Al-Sabhan made the comments in reaction to criticism Riyadh has been facing over the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. Hariri made the announcement in a statement broadcast on Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV. On Sunday, Hezbollah chief Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah and other Lebanese officials accused Riyadh of forcing Hariri to quit in a bid to create tensions in Lebanon.

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Hariri’s resignation came as a surprise. The fact that he did it from Riyadh, accusing Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world, sent shockwaves through the region. His resignation shatters a delicate deal that put him in a coalition government after a two-year political vacuum. It is not the first time a Lebanese government has collapsed- it happened in 2005, 2011 and 2013. The country’s political structure requires that the President must be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, and the Speaker of Parliament a Shia Muslim. Last year Lebanon’s parliament swore in a new cabinet dominated by Hezbollah and its allies – in a major victory for the Shia, Iran-backed group. Add to that, Hezbolllah’s military wing has been racking up victories in Syria, building up its arsenal, and steadily increasing its influence at home, and that’s upset some, including Saudi Arabia So, what’s next? And will Lebanon again become the battleground for other peoples’ wars?

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From the conflicts in Iraq and Syria to the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the struggle between Sunni and Shi‘a groups for hegemony is tearing apart the region and shows no signs of abating. But for all the religious discourse permeating the conflict, much of its roots are political, not religious. How does sectarianism fit into a larger narrative of the Middle East? How have governments manipulated sectarian differences? And finally, what is the U.S. doing about it? Full episode from the Great Decisions PBS series: http://www.greatdecisionsonpbs.com/ Visit our website for more information: http://www.fpa.org/ Narrated by Academy Award nominated actor David Strathairn and produced by the Foreign Policy Association, each half-hour episode of the Great Decisions documentary series tackles a different challenge facing America today. This episode first aired in January 2015.

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In the name of fighting corruption in Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman announced over the weekend the government would hold trials for 11 princes, stamping out opposition and cementing his rule. Special correspondent Nick Schifrin is joined by Bilal Saab of the Middle East Institute and Aaron David Miller of the Wilson Center to discuss the potential fallout of the crackdown.

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Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the arrest of four government ministers and 11 royal princes hours after he was named the head of a new anti-corruption committee. Billionaire prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who has stakes in major U.S. companies like Apple and Twitter, was among those arrested. Gary Sick, a senior research scholar at Columbia University, joins Hari Sreenivasan.

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Published on Nov 6, 2017
A senior Saudi prince and seven other officials have been killed in a helicopter crash near the country’s border with Yemen, state media report. Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, the deputy governor of Asir province, was returning from an inspection tour when his aircraft came down near Abha late on Sunday, the interior ministry said. It did not give a cause for the crash. But it came hours after a major purge of the kingdom’s political and business leadership. An anti-corruption body led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, ordered the detentions of dozens of people, including 11 princes, four ministers and dozens of ex-ministers. Analysts see the unprecedented move as an attempt to cement the power of the heir to the throne.

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Saudi Arabia says Lebanon declares war, deepening crisis

People walk next to a poster depicting Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who has resigned from his post, along a street in the mainly Sunni Beirut neighbourhood of Tariq al-Jadideh in Beirut, Lebanon November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Lebanon has been thrust to the center of regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran since the Saudi-allied Lebanese politician Saad al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Saturday, blaming Iran and Hezbollah in his resignation speech.

Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan said the Lebanese government would “be dealt with as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia” because of what he described as aggression by Hezbollah.

Faulting the Hariri-led administration for failing to take action against Hezbollah during a year in office, Sabhan said “there are those who will stop (Hezbollah) and make it return to the caves of South Lebanon”, the heartland of the Shi‘ite community.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya TV, he added: “Lebanese must all know these risks and work to fix matters before they reach the point of no return.”

He did not spell out what action Saudi Arabia might take against Lebanon, a country with a weak and heavily indebted state that is still rebuilding from its 1975-90 civil war and where one-in-four people is a Syrian refugee.

There was no immediate comment from the Lebanese government.

Hezbollah is both a military and a political organization that is represented in the Lebanese parliament and in the Hariri-led coalition government formed last year.

Its powerful guerrilla army is widely seen as stronger than the Lebanese army, and has played a major role in the war in neighboring Syria, another theater of Saudi-Iranian rivalry where Hezbollah has fought in support of the government.

Lebanese authorities said on Monday the country’s financial institutions could cope with Hariri’s resignation and the stability of the Lebanese pound was not at risk.

But the cash price of Lebanon’s U.S. dollar-denominated bonds fell, with longer-dated maturities suffering hefty losses as investors took a dim view of the medium- to longer-term outlook for Lebanon.

A poster depicting Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who has resigned from his post, hangs along a street in the mainly Sunni Beirut neighbourhood of Tariq al-Jadideh in Beirut, Lebanon November 6, 2017. The Arabic on the poster reads, “With you forever”. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

HARIRI FREE TO TRAVEL, SAUDI FM SAYS

Hariri cited a plot to assassinate him during his unexpected resignation speech broadcast from Saudi Arabia which caught even his aides off guard. He also slammed Hezbollah and Iran, accusing them of sowing strife in the Arab world.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has said he will not comment on Hariri’s speech, calling it a “Saudi statement” and saying Riyadh had forced Hariri to resign.

The sudden nature of Hariri’s resignation generated speculation in Lebanon that his family’s Saudi construction business had been caught up in an anti-corruption purge and he had been coerced into resigning.

Slideshow (3 Images)

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said it was “nonsense” to suggest Hariri had been coerced into quitting in a CNN interview on Monday. Hariri had quit because Hezbollah had been “calling the shots” in the government, he said. Hariri, a Saudi citizen, was free to leave the country at any time, he said.

Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk, a senior member of Hariri’s political party, said he was under the impression Hariri would return to Beirut within days.

A meeting between Saudi King Salman and Hariri in Riyadh on Monday proved “rumors” wrong, he said – an apparent reference to speculation that Hariri was detained or forced to quit.

Earlier on Monday, President Michel Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, appealed for national unity.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, another political ally of Hezbollah, said in a televised statement after meeting Aoun it was too early to talk about forming a new government.

The crisis could re-aggravate tensions between Sunni and Shi‘ite Muslims and afflict Lebanese government with paralysis once again. All of the sides have called for calm and there has been no sign of unrest since Hariri’s resignation.

The Hariri-led government took office last year in a political deal that made Aoun president. The deal ended years of deadlock, and last month it produced Lebanon’s first budget since 2005.

Hariri flew to Saudi Arabia on Friday after meeting in Beirut the top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, who described the coalition as “a victory” and “great success” afterwards.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-missiles-yemen/saudi-led-forces-close-air-sea-and-land-access-to-yemen-idUSKBN1D60I8

Saudi Arabia Blames Iran for Missile Attack

Yemeni rebels’ missile intercepted near Riyadh was made in Iran, Saudis say; Iran denies involvement

Smoke from an alleged Saudi-led airstrike on the Yemeni capital, San'a, on Sunday.
Smoke from an alleged Saudi-led airstrike on the Yemeni capital, San’a, on Sunday. PHOTO: ARHAB/EPA-EFE/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Yemeni rebels’ missile attack on the Saudi capital on Saturday could be considered an Iranian act of war, Saudi Arabia said, in a statement likely to intensify tensions between the archrivals.

Saudi Arabia intercepted the ballistic missile east of Riyadh’s main airport after it flew more than 500 miles from Yemen. It was fired by Houthi rebels, who are seen by Saudi Arabia as proxies of Iran.

The Saudi-led military coalition that has been at war with the Houthis in Yemen for more than 2½ years “considers this a blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime and could rise to be considered as an act of war against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” according to a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Debris from the missile showed it was made in Iran, the statement said, adding that the coalition “reserves its right to respond to Iran in the appropriate time and manner, in accordance with international law and based on the right of self-defense.”

Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, dismissed the claim.

“We are not basically capable of transferring missiles to Yemen,” he said Sunday, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. Houthi missiles, he said, are homegrown.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghasemi, on Monday called Saudi accusations against Iran “unfair, irresponsible, destructive and provocative,” according to a state television news website. He advised the kingdom to stop its assault on Yemen to pave the way for peace talks.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that Saudi Arabia was bombing Yemen and killing thousands of innocent people and spreading famine.

The kingdom “is engaged in wars of aggression, regional bullying, destabilizing behavior and risky provocations,” he said. “It blames Iran for the consequences.”

Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir tweeted that Iranian intervention in the region was undermining security and repeated that Saudi Arabia had the right to respond.

The Houthis, who in the past have presented missiles as domestically sourced, have fired dozens at Saudi Arabia since the coalition began a campaign to oust them from Yemen’s capital, San’a, in 2015.

The range of some, like the “Volcano H2” the group fired Saturday, has increased markedly in 2017, putting significant Saudi population centers and energy infrastructure within range.

Saudi Arabia, which controls Yemeni airspace and oversees shipping traffic through its ports, said all land, sea and air borders with the country would be closed temporarily to address the missile threat, although humanitarian supplies would still be allowed in.

Tensions between Saudi Arabia, the leading Sunni Muslim power in the region, and Iran, its main Shiite rival, have risen in recent days. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a close Saudi ally, resigned Saturday, blaming Iran for destabilizing the region and saying his life was under threat.

Saudi Arabia has more aggressively confronted Iran under 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who orchestrated Saudi involvement in Yemen.

 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-blames-iran-for-missile-attack-1509955160

Saudi Crackdown Targets Up to $800 Billion in Assets

Authorities detain more prominent businessmen, freeze bank accounts

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, has said tackling corruption is necessary to overhaul Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, has said tackling corruption is necessary to overhaul Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy.PHOTO: SAUDI PRESS AGENCY/REUTERS

The Saudi government is aiming to confiscate cash and other assets worth as much as $800 billion in its broadening crackdown on alleged corruption among the kingdom’s elite, according to people familiar with the matter.

Several prominent businessmen are among those who have been arrested in the days since Saudi authorities launched the crackdown on Saturday, by detaining more than 60 princes, officials and other prominent Saudis, according to those people and others.

The country’s central bank, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, said late Tuesday that it has frozen the bank accounts of “persons of interest” and said the move is “in response to the Attorney General’s request pending the legal cases against them.”

The purge is the most extensive of the kingdom’s elite in recent history. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of King Salman, was named heir to the throne in Juneand has moved to consolidate power. He has said that tackling corruption at the highest level is necessary to overhaul what has long been an oil-dependent economy.

The crackdown could also help replenish state coffers. The government has said that assets accumulated through corruption will become state property, and people familiar with the matter say the government estimates the value of assets it can reclaim at up to 3 trillion Saudi riyal, or $800 billion.

“They reckon that they could get around 2 to 3 trillion riyals from these people. That’s the number they are talking about,” said a person close to the government.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince: Three Things to Know
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has appointed his son, Mohammed bin Salman, as crown prince, replacing his nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef, as first in line to the throne. WSJ’s Niki Blasina explains who he is, and what this means for the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the broader region. Photo: Getty Images. (Originally Published June 21, 2017)

Much of that money is abroad, which will complicate efforts to reclaim it, people familiar with the matter said. But even a portion of that amount could help Saudi Arabia’s finances. A prolonged period of low oil prices forced the government to borrow money on the international bond market and to draw extensively from the country’s foreign reserves, which dropped from $730 billion at their peak in 2014 to $487.6 billion in August, the latest available government data.

Who Has Been Promoted, Who Has Been Detained in Saudi Arabia

Under King Salman, many senior princes have been sidelined from power or detained, according to people familiar with the matter. Here are a few of the important moves.

King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud

The founder of modern Saudi Arabia, who ruled from 1932

to 1953

Detained

Promoted

Other direct descendant

LINE OF SUCCESSION

King Salman bin

Abdulaziz

King 2015-present

He is the sixth brother in a row to assume the throne. He became king in 2015 and in June appointed his own son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as his heir.

Prince Miteb bin Abdullah

Prince al-Waleed

bin Talal

Prince Mohammed bin Nayef

Crown Prince

Mohammed bin Salman

He is one of the world’s richest men. Through his firm Kingdom Holding Co., he has invested in Apple, Twitter, and Citigroup. He was detained on Nov. 4.

Previous head of the elite Saudi Arabian National Guard

Previous crown prince

The 32-year-old prince has ascended to a position of unrivaled power since his father became king, and oversees most key policy areas in the country, from the economy to defense. He is the architect of the ambitious plan to end the kingdom’s dependence on oil. As minister of defense, he launched Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. He became crown prince in June.

Prince Mohammed, a former powerful minister of interior, was removed from the position of crown prince in June and replaced by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a younger cousin. His ouster faced some resistance within the royal family

He is the politically influential son of the previous monarch, King Abdullah. He was fired and detained on Nov. 4.

Prince Abdulaziz bin

Saud bin Nayef

New minister of interior

He was appointed as minister of interior in June. He belongs to the same branch of the royal family as Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the ousted crown prince.

Note: not all descendants represented

Sources: Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia; staff reports.

The arrests were ordered by a newly established anticorruption agency headed by Prince Mohammed.

The crown prince “needs cash to fund the government’s investment plans,” political risk advisory firm Eurasia Group said in a note on Monday. “It was becoming increasingly clear that additional revenue is needed to improve the economy’s performance. The government will also strike deals with businessmen and royals to avoid arrest, but only as part of a greater commitment to the local economy.”

Spokespeople for the Saudi government didn’t respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia’s minister of commerce, Majid al Qasabi, on Tuesday sought to reassure the private sector that the corruption investigation wouldn’t interfere with normal business operations.

The procedures and investigations undertaken by the anticorruption agency won’t affect ongoing business or projects, he said.

Running LowSaudi Arabia is heavily dependent on oilexports, and government revenues havetaken a hit as crude prices have tumbled inrecent years.THE WALL STREET JOURNALSource: Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority
.trillion riyalsOil revenueOther revenue2006’08’10’12’14’160.000.250.500.751.001.251.50

In its statement on Tuesday, the Saudi central bank said that individual accounts had been frozen, not corporate accounts. “It is business as usual for both banks and corporates,” the central bank said.

The central bank sent a list of hundreds of names to lenders, asking them to freeze any accounts linked to them, according to people familiar with the matter.

“These are just the initial stages of either asset freezes or arrests. More people are expected to be impacted as the investigation unfolds,” said a Saudi official.

The government earlier this week vowed that it would arrest more people as part of the corruption investigation, which began around three years ago.

As a precautionary measure, authorities have banned a large number of people from traveling outside the country, among them hundreds of royals and people connected to those arrested, according to people familiar with the matter.

Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a Saudi billionaire and founder of Kingdom Holding Co., spoke at a conference in Chicago in 2013.
Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a Saudi billionaire and founder of Kingdom Holding Co., spoke at a conference in Chicago in 2013. PHOTO: DANIEL ACKER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

The government hasn’t officially named the people who were detained.

They include billionaire Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the most widely known members of the Saudi royal family and a major investor in companies including Apple Inc., Twitter Inc. and Citigroup Inc. He faces allegations of money laundering, bribery and extortion, according to a senior Saudi official. A representative of Prince al-Waleed didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to people familiar with the investigation, those detained over the weekend also include Bakr bin Ladin, the chairman of the construction giant Saudi Binladin Group. A spokesman for Saudi Binladin didn’t respond to request for comment.

Saudi Binladin, the biggest construction firm in the Gulf region, flourished as one of the government’s preferred builders during the boom years in the oil-rich country, winning a high-profile contract to expand the grounds of the Great Mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site. The people familiar with the investigation said Mr. bin Ladin faces allegations of bribery in connection with that project.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-expands-crackdown-on-elite-1510062385

A resignation, detentions and missiles: 24 hours that shook the Middle East

Trump voices ‘great confidence’ in Saudi Arabia amid royal purge

President Trump on Monday gave a vote of confidence to the leadership of Saudi Arabia amid a royal family purge that has rocked the Middle East.

“I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing,” Trump tweeted while traveling in Asia. “Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!”

The president appeared to lend his endorsement to this weekend’s arrests of 11 members of the Saudi royal family, which authorities there described as a crackdown against corruption.

The mass arrests amounted to the most sweeping purge of the Saudi ruling elite in the country’s modern history. Advisers, ministers and businessmen were also taken into custody on orders from a newly formed anti-corruption committee.

Regional observers see the round-up as one of the most dramatic moves yet by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to consolidate power.

The crown prince, 32, has taken over several key government posts over the past two years while pushing aside rivals as he seeks to position himself as the next leader of the oil-rich kingdom.

He also heads the anti-corruption panel.

Among those arrested were Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, a son of the late King Abdullah and head of the National Guard, and the kingdom’s wealthiest investor, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

Mohammad bin Salman has pushed the hidebound kingdom to implement reforms while cozying up to the U.S., a top Saudi ally.

The crown prince, who is a son of King Salman, has also formed a relationship with President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Kushner made an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia last month, where U.S. officials said he intended to discuss Middle East peace.

Saudi Arabia was the site of Trump’s first trip abroad as president, a visit Mohammad bin Salman was said to have helped arrange.

Trump also has ties to bin Talal, who helped bail him out of financial trouble in the 1990s. The investor was part of a group that purchased New York’s Plaza Hotel from Trump as well as the real-estate mogul’s yacht.

No one should ever have to negotiate between getting lifesaving care or accessing their prescriptions.

Their relationship took a turn for the worse in 2015, when bin Talal bashedTrump’s campaign rhetoric and called on him to drop out of the presidential race.

“Dopey Prince @Alwaleed_Talal wants to control our U.S. politicians with daddy’s money,” Trump responded on Twitter. “Can’t do it when I get elected. #Trump2016”

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/359036-trump-voices-great-confidence-in-saudi-arabia-amid-royal-purge

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