Trump and Sessions

Most of this has already been said in the press and on news commentary shows.  The Attorney General is nominated by the president, serves at the pleasure of the president and may be fired by president at any time.  The Department of Justice must at the same time conduct investigations independently of the president.   AG Jeff Sessions, whether you like him or hate him, has focused on areas which  are of high concern to President Trump- illegal immigrants in the US and drug trafficking.   He is likely will prosecute anyone who  illegally  discloses  information, when investigations yield compelling evidence.

Sessions has been attacked in tweets by Trump, who said he is very disappointed at the AG.   Commentators believe he is trying to have Sessions resign rather than fire him.

The attorney general  must be loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law.  What Sessions won’t do, is make unwarranted accusations and use the Department for partisan purposes.    He was involved in the election campaign of Donald Trump, so it is likely he had close contact with Paul Manafort and others under investigation.   To his credit, he recused himself from the Russian  investigation, so his activities could be investigated without any suggestion of impropriety.   This strengthens the public perception of the integrity of the investigation.

Trump seems obsessed about leaks and the reporting of these leaks in the media.  He wasn’t at all concerned about this when leaks were coming out on a daily basis on Hillary Clinton.  Eric Holder had an active investigation on Julian Assange, who runs Wikileaks.  If he ever steps in the US, hopefully he will be arrested.   Charges against  Edward Snowden have already been filed under the Obama administration.   Should Snowden or Julian Assange ever step foot in the US,  you can be sure that they will be prosecuted under the  full force of the Justice Department..  It makes no difference if this occurs under a Democratic or Republican administration.

But, what Trump has in mind, is the chatter that goes on between White House insiders and the media.  Also, as his popularity is sinking, he has revived the campaign promise to go after violations of the law of Hillary Clinton for disclosure of classified information.   Similar attacks have been launch against FBI Director Comey.  The Department of Justice has access to all the information gathered by the FBI,  and if they feel there is a compelling case, with a reasonable chance of prevailing in their charges,  I am sure Jeff Sessions will not hesitate for one minute to bring charges against Clinton or Comey.   However,  he will not use his office to make frivolous accusations against them.   He will not turn the Department of Justice into a bully pulpit.

I can only surmise that the only reason the Department of Justice had not pressed charges, is because there is insufficient evidence of violation of the law.    I have provided a link below on some myths about what is considered  confidential information.   One  popular myth is  that confidential information should be easily recognized by its subject matter alone and need not be so designated .

Trump was at the Boy Scout Jamboree, and treated it like some kind of campaign rally.   The first two qualities in the Boy Scout oath are Trustworthy and Loyal.   I believe both Jeff Sessions and  FBI Director Comey  through their decades of government service are exemplary  of these qualities.   They are loyal to the people’s representatives who through the ages, created and expanded the Justice Department and the FBI.  No one made the government exempt in administrating their duties as this would undermine our democratic process.  They were not going to allow the integrity be diminished by the political desires of the president of the United States.

Link:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-classified-information/2015/09/18/a164c1a4-5d72-11e5-b38e-06883aacba64_story.html?utm_term=.e610934bea2e

Link on Jeff Sessions:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Sessions

Stay tuned,

Dave

PS:  Trump’s approval rating is 37% according to the latest Gallup poll.

The leaked DOE Report

The Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, issued a memorandum on April 14, 2017 directing  preparation of a study that examines whether recent problems associated with baseload power plants may be putting the nations’s energy security and reliability at risk.

It was to be a 3 month study.   A June 26, 2017 draft was leaked and posted to the internet.  The leaked draft report is provided below. It is long detailed technical analysis.

353980477-DOE-Reliability-and-Baseload-Report-Draft-June-26

Many fear that the report would try to blame the government subsidies for alternative energy sources, including wind and solar,  for the decline in the coal use.  The study clearly points out that fossil fuel and nuclear plants also benefit from government subsidies.

Oil is generally not used as a fuel for power plants.  The main fuels are natural gas, coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, solar and wind power, with the latter 3 considered renewables.

What will be interesting, is whether the Secretary will accept the findings of his Department, or attempt to reformulate the report.  It is due to be released next week, so we will know for sure, if the official study is much different from this draft.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

How much of what Trump says is true?

All politicians lie.
All politicians lie.
All politicians lie.

Ok, I said it 3 times, just so you remember.    Other officials lie too.   The White House Press Secretary, the leaders in Congress,  news commentators, of which there way too many these days, candidates running for office, both Republicans and Democrats – they are all  liars.

So why should I single out Donald Trump?   I really didn’t.  The fact checking sites, factcheck.org and politifact.com find nearly every weak, that he has lied to the American people, on very important issues.

The most recent example is his speech yesterday, on the health care bill to be voted on in the Senate, where he stated:

“Obamacare has broken our health care system. It’s broken. It’s collapsing.”

Politifact responds, “As for the individual insurance market, the part of Obamacare that Trump has said before is in a death spiral, we have rated statements like that False.”

Link:  http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/jul/24/fact-checking-donald-trumps-health-care-speech/

Trump also was caught in a huge lie that his plan about allowing insurers to sell across state lines, would bring insurance premiums by 60 to 70%.  He made up this stuff!

Link: http://www.factcheck.org/2017/07/selling-insurance-across-state-lines/

It is true that both Democrats and Republicans have told huge lies during the health care debate.   House leader Nancy Pelosi stated that hundreds of thousands of people will die under Trump’s health care bill.  Politifact concludes that the relationship between health care policies and mortality rates is really difficult to determine,  and Pelosi (and Bernie Sanders)  distorted the research in this area by saying many people will  die as a result of Trump Care.

Link:  http://www.factcheck.org/2017/07/deaths-health-care-bill/

The Russian investigation has produced all sorts of terrible lies from Trump, including allegations of criminal activity by FBI Director Comey, as follows from factcheck.org.

President Donald Trump made the unfounded accusation that former FBI Director James Comey illegally “leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media.” His claim appears to have been based on a news story that makes no such determination.

Link: http://www.factcheck.org/2017/07/trumps-unfounded-leak-claim/

And likely confirmed by Jay Sekulow, a frequent guest on Fox News and part of Trump’s legal defense team.   Way too much poop for me.

Now, perhaps I digress.  Back to the main question-  How much of what Trump says is true?   Politifact checked 427 statements of “fact” made by Trump, and determined 5% or 20 of these statements were true.  Yikes!  Of the other 95%,  12% were mostly true, and 15% were half true.   This leaves  an astonishing 68% on the side of mostly false, false and pants on fire.

Link: http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/

I always liked Patrick Moynihan’s quote: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

Do Republicans lie more than Democrats?   From a quick sampling of July’s reviews, it seems so, at least as of July 24, 2017:

Link: http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/

The worse of the bunch is not Trump or any other politician within Washington.   It’s  bloggers, specifically websites which broadcast, via email and twitter, a load of fictional stories.   These are lumped into the category of bloggers.

If a news story came from the Organization dedicated to the  Responsible and Truthful Analysis of the New (just for example, don’t Google this name),  and it can’t be collaborated with the mainstream media news, it is probably made up.   The fact checkers will help you filter out the nonsense.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

The New York Times and their sick agenda

In Trump’s world, the new axis of evil, are the Washington Post and the New York Times.   I considered Trump’s tweet on Qatar as a supporter of terrorism  the worse of all tweets.  He has outdone himself again.   On July 22, 2017, Donald Trump tweeted:

The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist,Al-Baghdadi. Their sick agenda over National Security

Trump was reacting to a report on a Fox News program about 25 minutes ago.  They mentioned the New York Times.

Al-Baghdadi is the single most wanted terrorist, as the leader of ISIL.  Nobody is sure if he is alive or dead.   The Russians stated that he may possibly have been killed during the May 16, 2015 raid.  The Defense Department says they have no evidence to show he has been killed  or is  now still alive.  General Mattis has stated they assume he is alive until they have proof he is not.

Trump’s tweet  is a very serious accusation.  If it were true, it makes the NYT complicit in terrorist activities.   Fortunately,  it  is 100% untrue-   there is not a grain of truth to this tweet.  But there was a grain of false information which Fox News spun  into a totally false “news report.”

Fox News-  All the news, all the time, and a pile of stuff made up, to boot.   Breaking news on terrorism,  leaks and the New York Times.  Oh my, what could be better!

Here’s the timetable:

May 16, 2015: US Delta commando  forces raid on the home of Abu Sayyaf in Syria,  chief financial officer for ISIL, killing Abu and capturing his wife, Umm.  She was questioned outside of the country.  The raid provides a treasure trove of information on ISIL and its operation, through seized laptops, cell phones and other materials.

May 17, 2015:  Pentagon discloses details of the raid to the public, and is extensively covered by the Western media, including the New York Times.   The Pentagon reveals they captured Umm and she is being interrogated outside of Syria.

 June 7, 2015:  (3 weeks after the raid) New York Times publishes more extensive details on the raid and the information.

July 21, 2017:  More than 2 years after the raid,  General Tony Thomas, at the Aspen Security Conference was asked if we had ever come close to killing Al-Baghdadi.  He responded yes, there were instances in which we were closing in on Al-Baghdadi.  He goes on to state that the capture and questioning of Umm Sayyaf  yielded very useful information.   He then states that after the information was leaked by a national news organization,  Al-Baghdadi likely took new precautions. He did not identify the New York Times.

July 22, 2017:  Fox News broadcasts a news story of how Al-Baghdadi might have been captured, if the NYT had not leaked information.

_____

The New York Times responded to Fox News, asking for an apology.  They stated, “No senior American official complained publicly about the story until now, more than two years later.”   They also do not dismiss General Thomas statements that  Al-Baghdadi became more cautious after the raid.   The problem is the disclosures came either from Secretary of Defense or the military spokespersons, not leaks.   What was inaccurately stated at a conference during a Q+A session would likely not get much publicity, if  Fox News had spent any time trying to find any collaboration of their story.  They have received the standard “no comment” from the Department of Defense.  No one in the Trump administration, except Trump, has charged the New York Times with disclosing  sensitive military information.

With Trump’s tweet,  this accusation  became worldwide news.  His hostility towards media reporting from CNN,  the Washington Post and the New York Times is very sad.   These institutions  will survive much longer than he will, as people want to hear the story  from reporters on the ground, not Trump’s tweet.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

South Sudan’s Tragic Civil War – Part 1

I’ve discussed Qatar, the world’s richest country if gauged by GDP per capita.   By those same measures, South Sudan is one of the world’s poorest countries.  It is also the world’s newest country, gaining its independence from Sudan in 2011, following a referendum on independence.  South Sudan is totally dependent on oil for it’s income, accounting for  98% of the government revenue.   It has many natural resources and  productive agricultural land.

The creation of South Sudan was likely considered to create some stability in the region.  It hasn’t happened.   Sudan was once home to Osama bin Laden’s training camp, and the US under President Clinton bombed bin Laden’s  camp and the Al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in 1986, believing it was producing VX gas.  There is considerable evidence to the contrary, see link below.

Sudan has a violent history, with two civil wars, the first from 1955 to 1972 and the second from 1983  to 2005.    The  war was a result of  the Sudanese government, a strict Islamic regime and adherents to Sharia rule, extending their control to other populations, many to the south of Sudan.   It is described  an ethno-religious clash as the northern part of Sudan, was primarily Arab speaking and adherent to Islamic rule, while the south (now South Sudan) was more like it’s neighbors, Kenya and Uganda, where 82% of its population are non-Muslim.   It was also a clash between the Dinka and Nuer tribes.

The human toll of the civil war in the Sudan  is staggering.  According to Wikipedia:

Roughly two million people died as a result of war, famine and disease caused by the conflict. Four million people in southern Sudan were displaced at least once (and normally repeatedly) during the war. The civilian death toll is one of the highest of any war since World War II and was marked by a large number of human rights violations. These include slavery and mass killings.

Sudan was one of the countries in President Trump’s travel ban.    Interestingly, South Sudan were there is an active civil war, was not included in the ban.

  • South Sudan Political Situation:

South Sudan gain independence in two steps, first as an autonomous region (2005 to 2011) then as a fully independent country in 2011.  The government main support came from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/movement (SPLA/M).  It was likely that the “two country” solution with a democratic government in the south would end the hostilities.   The SPLA/M was supposedly multi-ethnic party, but the ethnic divisions were very strong and soon surfaced.    John Garang was a Dinka leader and part of SPLA/M who died in a helicopter crash in 2005. He was succeeded by Salva Kirr, now president of South Sudan.   The opposing leader is Riek Machar, representing the Nuer ethnic group.  The civil war between Dinka and Nuer tribes continues to this day.

It is clear that the President Kirr objective is to unite the country by force, and frequently using starvation of civilian population as one of the weapons of war.  Under Kirr, the country is a Kleptocracy,  paid for by the oil revenues.   Wikipedia describes the horrendous violations of human rights as follows:

Campaigns of atrocities against civilians have been attributed to the SPLA.  In the SPLA/M’s attempt to disarm rebellions among the Shilluk and Murle, they burned scores of villages, raped hundreds of women and girls and killed an untold number of civilians.  Civilians alleging torture claim fingernails being torn out, burning plastic bags dripped on children to make their parents hand over weapons and villagers burned alive in their huts if rebels were suspected of spending the night there. In May 2011, the SPLA allegedly set fire to over 7,000 homes in Unity State.

Further in the Wikipedia article, it is stated:

The United Nations rights office has described the situation in the country as “one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world.” It accused the army and allied militias as allowing fighters to rape women as form of payment, as well as raid cattle in an agreement of “do what you can, take what you can.” Amnesty International claimed the army suffocated to death in a shipping container more than 60 people accused of supporting the opposition.

More on the horrific actions by the military against women has been reported by the Boston Globe, as provided in the links at the end of this blog.

This brief blog simply highlights some parts of the  conflict. More information on the ethnic groups involved and the support given by outside countries is provided in the links.   A recent article posted on July 9, 2017 in the Washington Post, by Sophia Dawkins,  provides excellent summary of the most essential details on the current conflict.   Sadly,  based on research as cited in her article, the prospects of reconciliation appear poor as neither Kirr (Dinka)  or Machar (Nuer)  factions appear willing to compromise.

  • Oil Economy:

I particular like the statement in Dawkins article, “South Sudan was born rich” as it clearly defines a petrostate.  However, it is an oil curse rather than a blessing, as the oil revenues go to fuel the civil war, and make any hope of reconciliation less likely.   It did not make the Sudanese people any wealthier.  The oil revenue has gone  to pay the military and various militias, who committed the atrocities against the people of  opposition tribes, such as the Nuer tribe.

The 2005 agreement allowing South Sudan to become an autonomous region.

While famine and disease  persists in much of the country,  the government party leaders bathe in the wealth created by  oil revenues.

The other sectors of the economy, particularly agriculture, are ignored as all investment goes to oil development.  According to Wikipedia:

The economy of South Sudan is one of the world’s weakest and most underdeveloped, with South Sudan having little existing infrastructure and the highest maternal mortality and female illiteracy rates in the world as of 2011.[2]

South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world. Most villages in the country have no electricity or running water, and the country’s overall infrastructure is lacking, with few paved roads. South Sudan exports timber to the international market. Some of the states with the best known teaks and natural trees for timber are Western Equatoria and Central Equatoria.

One of the major natural features of South Sudan is the River Nile whose many tributaries have sources in the country. The region also contains many natural resources such as petroleum, iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver, gold, and hydropower.[3] The country’s economy, as in many other developing countries, is heavily dependent on agriculture. Some of the agricultural produce include cotton, groundnuts (peanuts), sorghum, millet, wheat, gum arabic, sugarcane, cassava (tapioca), mangos, papaya, bananas, sweet potatoes, and sesame.

Part 2 will examine the role of the US and other countries in South Sudan.

Stay tuned

Dave

Links:

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Sudan

Boston Globe: Sexual violence reaches ‘epic proportions’ in South Sudan’s civil war

Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_violence_in_South_Sudan

US Sanctions: http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/07/08/534465639/for-sudan-a-looming-deadline-on-possible-lifting-of-u-s-sanctions

 

 

South Sudan – Part 2: Relations to other countries

  • Climate Change and the US Withdrawal from the Paris Accords

Disease, famine and war have ravaged South Sudan.  Add the effects of climate change, for which the developed countries, including the US, EU, India and China bear responsibility for this.   The government revenues come from oil.  It is estimated that 95% of the population rely on subsistence farming.  Climate change is resulting in deforestation, destroying the timber industry.   The decline in timber resources is also due to illegal exports by other countries.

See links:  http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/war-torn-south-sudan-grave-risk-climate-change-48695857

(video is about Somalia, while the article is on South Sudan)

UN Report: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2017/6/29/Confronting-climate-change-in-South-Sudan.html

According to the ABC news report:

At its climate change conference last month, South Sudan reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris climate agreement and criticized the U.S. withdrawal under President Donald Trump.  “Trump thinks climate change isn’t a reality,” says Lutana, South Sudan’s climate change director. “He should know that his pulling out won’t stop people from continuing to work on it.”

  • US and South Sudan 

The human rights violations by the South Sudanese government, as they terrorize the Nuer ethnic group are staggering and include the torture and  killing of children and women.   South Sudan has also purchased weapons from North Korea according to the UN.  For this reason, the US maintains trade sanctions against South Sudan.

Links: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_violence_in_South_Sudan  (this is pretty horrific)

Also:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Sudan

In January 2017,  in a goodwill gesture,  President Obama partially lifted some trade sanctions.  The partial lifting ended on July 12, 2017,  and was conditioned on South Sudan government showed progress in certain areas, including maintaining regional ceasefires, enhancing counter-terrorism cooperation, and improving humanitarian access.   If there wasn’t significant progress, President Trump would be able to re-instate the sanctions.   However,  the White House simply delayed a decision on sanctions for another 3 months.

The Special Envoy to South Sudan resigned in January 2017, and the Trump administration has yet to nominate a replacement.  Also the Trump adminstration has yet to nominate an Assistant to the Secretary of State for African Affairs.  The Secretary of State stated his intent to cut US foreign assistance programs (USAID) by 40%.

Links:  https://www.voanews.com/a/white-house-stance-on-south-sudan-unclear/3936540.html

The US is providing 199 million dollars in famine relief to South Sudan and neighboring counties.   Given that South Sudan is surrounded by six countries,  I am not sure how much will be spent on South Sudan.

Meanwhile other countries seem more interested in dealing with the government in making oil deals, than helping with the problems of disease and famine.   To export the oil, the oil flows through a pipeline to Port Sudan in the country of Sudan.  Sudan receives a cut of any South Sudanese oil which is exported.  Since Sudan is considered a state sponsor of terrorism, US oil companies are prohibited from participating in the oil development deals of South Sudan.

Links: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_South_Sudan

  • Recent Events

The President of South Sudan has threaten to kill journalists who write stories, that he considers “against the country.”  Thus the press is limited by intimidation and in some cases imprisonment.   Access to certain websites has been shut down.

Links: http://www.dw.com/en/south-sudan-blocks-access-to-independent-websites/a-39786961

I wish I could be more positive about South Sudan.  The crisis in the country should be a great concern to the developed world.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News and Views 1

The range of topics which I cover is incredible.  However,  there are numerous topics which I have not discussed because they have been reviewed thoroughly in the mainstream media.   Or perhaps because it’s too early to judge the final results.  The health care bills are a good example.   I’m waiting for the final result.

Recent blogs have been international events.  I have discussed quite a bit about Libya and Qatar, as I see thee events in these countries are very significant, while perhaps most US populace is unaware of what is going on. South Sudan’s problems need more attention- and I’m working on this topic right now.

I hope to add more on the US under President Trump.   The Russia interference investigation interests me, but too much is being made of too little.  I’ll wait my time on this one.    I have commented on the Mexican wall and immigration policy,  but only as Trump’s campaign policy.  I am working on a more comprehensive discussion.  Similarly,  a blog will be posted on energy policy, and the prospects of fossil fuels going forward.

Gossipy stuff is not my cup of tea.   I don’t care what the First Lady is wearing or what Trump’s children are doing.  Sorry,  if that is what interests you.

There are sites which rave on what they like  and rant on everything they don’t like.  I prefer to do neither.   It will always be news first, views second.

I always invite comments on any blog.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

The next Syria

Today’s headlines should be 2″ tall:   ISIL is gone from Iraq!   The  US efforts have paid off.  The war for Raqqa in Syria is underway.

Questions remain for both Iraq and its allies:  How to rebuild Iraq so militants will never again be able to seize a city?   More importantly, how the leaders in Iraq can build unity within the country, which overcomes cultural and religious differences.

When ISIL is defeated in Syria, the same questions will remain.   The human toll for both the civil war within Syria and the war with ISIL will be tragic.

No one believes that this will be the end of jhadists.    ISIL has shown to other extremists a new way to extend their extremist philosophy.    The mode of operation are:  (1)   Develop an army capable of surprise attacks and control of targeted cities (2) Profit in any way possible from the occupation and (3) Recruit others to join the movement.  In Syria, ISIL was operating oil fields and selling the oil.

Libya has the potential to be as bad as Syria.   The big prize is the oil.  We have already seen the violence in the Philippines due to extremists.  Indonesia and Malaysia are likely next targets.   In Africa, the Boko Haram in Nigeria and the al Shabaab  in Kenya and Somalia, are very much along the lines of ISIL.

Countries in central Africa, such as the Sudan and South Sudan have terrorist organization and a high potential to be the next Syria.   From extremists point of view, an ideal target is where they can obtain local support or minimal resistance,  control large regions of the country and profit from their occupation.   The last thing we need in the world, is a terrorist base located in central Africa.

In the next week, I will be posting information on South Sudan, one of the newest and poorest countries in central Africa.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Freshly brewed morning news on trade

Front page of today’s  New York Times.   “As US Steps back on Trade, Allies Move on,” Peter Goodman, correspondent from London, writes:

In the master plan advanced by President Trump, an unabashedly aggressive United States is supposed to retain its rightful perch as the center of the commercial universe, wielding its economic dominance to dictate the rules to the rest of global trade.

As it turns out, the rest of the planet has its own ideas.

Gee, what a wonderful way to say we don’t all think the same.  And what sounds good, sometimes isn’t!  Two  beautifully written sentences in the morning goes well with coffee and toast.

The rest of the article adds more details on the collaboration between the European Union and Japan on trade. It certainly adds to other stories of the day, such as the Qatar crisis,  where unintended consequences can be completely contrary to the original intent of a strategy.

Madeleine Albright got it right when she said international relationships should be considered more like a game of billiards rather than a game of chess.    The balls in billiards are all clustered together, but when hit, they go in different directions.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Qatar Stalemate

After the deadline ended, there was not  sufficient agreement among the Saudi coalition  to ratchet up the sanctions against Qatar. Food is being supplied by Turkey.   Military conflict appears off the table.   Tough talk comes mainly from the Saudi’s and foreign minister of the UAE.   Thus,  the softer partners in this conflict might be Egypt and Bahrain.    A settlement to restore relations with these countries might be a first step.   There has to be some concession from Qatar.  Germany is trying to be work with Qatar and other countries in finding a diplomatic solution.  I’m certain they do not want Russia to become involved, perhaps any more than they are already.

Stay tuned,

Dave