Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (96 sites): realDonaldTrump on Twitter: ….As well as we are doing from the day after the great Election, when the Market shot right up, it could have been even better – massive additional wealth would have been created, & used very well. Our most difficult problem is not our competitors, it is the Federal Reserve!

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….As well as we are doing from the day after the great Election, when the Market shot right up, it could have been even better – massive additional wealth would have been created, & used very well. Our most difficult problem is not our competitors, it is the Federal Reserve!


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realDonaldTrump
on Saturday, July 6th, 2019 3:24am

13378 likes, 3217 retweets

realDonaldTrump on Twitter

Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (96 sites)


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Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (96 sites): realDonaldTrump on Twitter: Strong jobs report, low inflation, and other countries around the world doing anything possible to take advantage of the United States, knowing that our Federal Reserve doesn’t have a clue! They raised rates too soon, too often, & tightened, while others did just the opposite….

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Strong jobs report, low inflation, and other countries around the world doing anything possible to take advantage of the United States, knowing that our Federal Reserve doesn’t have a clue! They raised rates too soon, too often, & tightened, while others did just the opposite….


Posted by

realDonaldTrump
on Saturday, July 6th, 2019 3:24am

16098 likes, 3720 retweets

realDonaldTrump on Twitter

Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (96 sites)


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Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): The FBI News Review: “house judiciary committee” – Google News: Dems train fire on administration’s handling of migrants – The Spokesman-Review

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July 05, 2019
“house judiciary committee” – Google News: Dems train fire on administration’s handling of migrants – The Spokesman-Review
“house judiciary committee” – Google News: New report claims to have uncovered conflicts of interest inside Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation – Yahoo News
“mueller” – Google News: New report claims to have uncovered conflicts of interest inside Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation – Yahoo News
“fbi surveillance” – Google News: 442nd Vet Don Seki Tells ‘Ike’s Soldiers’ What Patriotism Really Looks Like – The Rafu Shimpo
Crime and Criminology from Michael_Novakhov (10 sites): “political crimes” – Google News: Attorney weighs ethics behind California lawmakers taking campaign contributions from PG&E – ABC10.com KXTV

“house judiciary committee” – Google News: Dems train fire on administration’s handling of migrants – The Spokesman-Review

FBI from Michael_Novakhov (28 sites)
WASHINGTON – Democrats pivoted Wednesday from a divisive fight over a border bill to what they label the government’s “willful neglect” and “callous” treatment of thousands of detained migrants, even as President Donald Trump defended Border Patrol agents and said many people being held “are living far better now than where they came from.”
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“house judiciary committee” – Google News: New report claims to have uncovered conflicts of interest inside Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation – Yahoo News

FBI from Michael_Novakhov (28 sites)
New report claims to have uncovered conflicts of interest inside Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation Yahoo NewsThe Real Clear Politics report claims Mueller’s team relied on a ‘private contractor for the Democratic National Committee’; reaction from Florida Congressman …
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“mueller” – Google News: New report claims to have uncovered conflicts of interest inside Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation – Yahoo News

FBI from Michael_Novakhov (28 sites)
New report claims to have uncovered conflicts of interest inside Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation Yahoo NewsThe Real Clear Politics report claims Mueller’s team relied on a ‘private contractor for the Democratic National Committee’; reaction from Florida Congressman …
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“fbi surveillance” – Google News: 442nd Vet Don Seki Tells ‘Ike’s Soldiers’ What Patriotism Really Looks Like – The Rafu Shimpo

FBI from Michael_Novakhov (28 sites)
Above and below: World War II veteran Don Seki and his wife and former “Rosie,” Sumi Seki, share their stories with Ike’s Soldiers. ABILENE, Kan. — “We were under surveillance. FBI, CIC … so I ran all over the place — away from the counterintelligence officers,” recounted Don Seki, as he and his wife Sumi sat with Ike’s Soldiers one afternoon.
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Crime and Criminology from Michael_Novakhov (10 sites): “political crimes” – Google News: Attorney weighs ethics behind California lawmakers taking campaign contributions from PG&E – ABC10.com KXTV

FBI from Michael_Novakhov (28 sites)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — 80 percent of all sitting California lawmakers took money from the utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric, an ABC10 investigation found. The campaign contributions came after the company was convicted of and on probation for multiple felonies for its involvement in deadly San Bruno Fires in 2010.
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Eurasia Review: Geopolitics And The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank – Analysis

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By Jose Miguel Alonso-Trabanco

In June 2015, the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment
Bank (AIIB) was agreed to by representatives of 50 countries in Beijing,
China. The Bank started operating in January 2016 and its first four
loans – totaling USD 509 million – were approved for Bangladesh,
Indonesia, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. Moreover, a location in Beijing was
chosen as the headquarters of this new multilateral banking
organization.

The AIIB started with an initial capital of USD 100 billion. In order
to keep things in perspective, the sum is roughly equivalent to
Ecuador’s GDP.  So far, it has approved projects related to hydropower,
energy, motorways, tourism, dams, pipelines, and ports, amongst others.

This venture has captured considerable interest. For instance, some
economists foresee the AIIB becoming a formidable competitor of the
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, entities established
within the framework of the Bretton Woods system during the aftermath of
World War Two, and whose governance has been historically controlled by
Atlanticist powers ever since. In fact, this reality still persists in
the early 21st century. However, that is hardly surprising if one
considers that – more often than not – intergovernmental institutions
reflect the interests of their creators.

On the other hand, the impressive list of full members includes a
diverse myriad of states from Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, the
Asia Pacific region, the former Soviet Union and even from the
Americas. This list includes great powers, offshore financial centers
and, interestingly, NATO members and other US allies. Hence, the AIIB
represents the most ambitious formal multilateral initiative sponsored
by China. Its membership is even wider than that of the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization (SCO), an institution conceived to encourage a
closer strategic, military, and economic collaboration amongst China,
Russia, and four Central Asian republics.

Even though the AIIB is of course an economic and financial
institution, its reach and nature must also be analyzed from a
perspective of grand strategy. Actually, it can be argued that – well
beyond the technical realm of business and mercantile concerns – the
AIIB responds to China’s goal of developing finance as a tool to advance
its interests on the global geopolitical chessboard. According to this
multidimensional interpretation, the AIIB pursues five parallel
objectives:

Undermining American Plans to Establish a Political and Commercial «Cordon Sanitaire» around China

The mammoth territorial and demographic proportions of the Asian
juggernaut, as well as the size of its economy – a 2017 GDP of more than
12 trillion dollars, which makes it the world’s second largest – in
combination with its rising techno-industrial and military power means
that China represents a formidable candidate to become the center of
gravity in the Asia-Pacific region and perhaps beyond.

Accordingly, the US intelligence community is fully aware that, if
China continues its uninterrupted economic ascent, it could evolve into a
colossal power whose magnetic influence becomes its own new
agglutinating pole. Therefore, the containment of China is a natural
geopolitical imperative for US foreign policy and, consequently, it is
reasonable to forecast that the United States intends to use both
military and commercial measures to place a cordon sanitaire able to
constrain it.

In the military realm, Washington intends to encircle China, either
indirectly through US allies in the Asia-Pacific region – Australia,
South Korea, Japan and New Zealand – and directly through the nearby
presence of US military facilities, hardware, and personnel in locations
like Afghanistan, South Korea, the Philippines, Guam, Singapore, Diego
Garcia, etc. Likewise, there is the implicit threat of using US naval
expeditionary warfare capabilities to interrupt the seaborne flow of
Chinese exports, as well as to disrupt Chinese imports of raw materials
which are shipped across oceanic waterways.

Concerning the mercantile “battlefield,” even though the plan was
ultimately abandoned by the Trump administration, the Americans had
pursued the creation of a multilateral trade bloc – the Trans-Pacific
Partnership – that would have served to keep in check the People’s
Republic of China’s international commercial reach.  Otherwise, it was
hard to understand, from a purely economic perspective, the exclusion of
the planet’s second-largest economy from a framework nominally designed
to fuel trade in the Pacific Basin.

Thus, one way or another, Beijing needs to resort to pro-active
conventional – military – and unconventional – trade, finance, energy –
measures, in order to halt the progress of both US containment schemes,
because they represent an evident threat to its national interests. Even
though one of these plans was eventually discarded by the U.S., the
increasingly confrontational stance Washington has assumed toward China
in the field of trade makes it unwise to overlook the pertinence of
possible countermeasures.

So, the plan to employ its financial strengths to pre-emptively
override the abovementioned constrictions, through the creation of
regional bank spearheaded by China itself, represents a feasible
asymmetric choice, which is both clever and convenient, especially if it
generates enough substantial incentives to seduce even Washington’s
traditional allies.

Seen from China’s angle, the AIIB represents a gateway to a closer
business relationship with an attractive market, one which entails
deeper strategic implications. Of course, many states calculated that
the prospects of promising investment flows were attractive enough
regardless of what Washington had to say about it. In other words, the
cost-benefit analysis revealed a favorable balance.

Projecting Chinese National Power in the Realm of Finance

China is the world’s second-largest economy in terms of nominal GDP.
Its’ GDP – more than 12 trillion dollars – is only behind that of the
US. Interestingly, the Chinese economy is superior to the sum of Japan
plus Germany, the world’s third- and fourth-largest economies
respectively. Furthermore, Beijing’s foreign currency reserves have
reached the stratospheric sum of 3.217 trillion dollars. China occupies
the first position in this ranking, whereas Japan is a distant second
place with 1.267 trillion dollars.

Nevertheless, China’s economic and financial power is still not
reflected in the main corresponding intergovernmental frameworks.
China’s influence within the International Monetary Fund (IMF) does not
proportionally correlate to the specific weight of its economy and,
apparently, reforms to readjust such asymmetry have been, in the
best-case scenario, notoriously slow, even though some recent steps have
been favorably received in Beijing, such as the inclusion of the yuan
in the basket of currencies used by the IMF.

Additionally, China does not ignore the strategic implications of the
fact that the multilateral institutions emanated from the Bretton Woods
system are the result of a consensus generated among the main members
of the transatlantic alliance, in the context of the allied victory in
World War Two and the subsequent US leadership of the Western bloc
during the Cold War, as exerted in the military, geopolitical, economic,
and financial fields. Hence, from the Chinese viewpoint, it is not
far-fetched to assume that the aforementioned organizations still
privilege the interests of their original creators.

After all, the World Bank has always been presided over by Americans,
whereas the International Monetary Fund has invariably been headed by
Europeans. The geography speaks even more eloquently: both the WB and
the IMF are headquartered in Washington D.C.

On the other hand, there is a precedent that has to be taken into
consideration for this analysis: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a former IMF
Managing Director who, during his tenure, had promoted a more active
role for China within the activities of the institution, was removed
from office in 2011 under unclear circumstances. This case could not
have gone unnoticed for Beijing’s strategic circles.

As a result, it is reasonable for the People’s Republic of China to
place itself as the cornerstone of a multilateral bank, headquartered in
the Chinese capital, in order to assume a more assertive leadership in
the financial realm. Last but not least, prestige also plays a role in
international political economy. Hence, the AIIB represents a visible
sign of China’s rising economic and financial might; i.e., it denotes
its wealth and prosperity. In this context, it is important to keep in
mind Deng Xiaoping’s most famous remarks: “it is glorious to be rich.”

Funding the Reconstruction of the Silk Road in order to Deepen Trade Links amongst Eurasia’s Main Economies

Eurasian mercantile connectedness is not a new phenomenon: Since the
time of the Roman Empire until approximately the 15th century; the so
called “Silk Road” was a commercial corridor which used to link Western
Europe to the Pacific Rim, through the exchange of many products. Back
then, trade undertaken by intrepid merchants fueled financial
innovations which facilitated economic activity. This linkage also
stimulated the circulation of religions, cultural ideas, and
technological advances from the Iberian Peninsula to the South China
Sea.

Officially, the AIIB’s raison d’être is: “… [to] focus on development
of infrastructure and other productive sectors in Asia, including
energy and power, transportation and telecommunications, rural
infrastructure and agricultural development, water supply and
sanitation, environmental protection, urban development and logistics,
etc…”

In this context, the development of trade logistical infrastructure
(especially terrestrial) can be regarded as a catalyst to foster
integration between China and the main economies of regions such as
Western Europe, the post-Soviet space, and the Middle East, in order to
diminish the dependence of Chinese exporters on the US consumer market,
through diversification of trade partnerships. It must be noted that the
US absorbs around 19% of Chinese exports.

Moreover, from a strategic viewpoint, the Chinese project to rekindle
the legendary Silk Road serves Beijing’s national interests by reducing
the direct exposure of its trade flows to American sea power.

Seeking a deeper pan-Eurasian mercantile interconnection would enable the convergence of geopolitics,
economic, financial, and energy interests across the Eurasian landmass.
The materialization of these plans would necessarily require the
collaboration of the Russian Federation, based on its crucial geographic
position at the heartland that connects Europe with Asia, and also on
Moscow’s role as a growing diplomatic ally, energy supplier, provider of
military hardware, and trade partner of China.

Indeed, there is ample evidence of Beijing’s mercantile penetration into Eurasia’s strategic regions:

The commercial railroad which links Madrid, the Spanish capital, with
the Chinese town of Yiwu is already operational since December 2015. In
fact, it is an enlargement of the Yu´XinÓu railroad, which connects the
Chinese city of Chongqing with the German city of Duisburg, both of
which are important industrial centers.

The Chinese are building a massive industrial park in Belarus (the
“Great Stone” project), which will also harbor commercial logistics
infrastructure, a financial center, business platforms, research and
development facilities, as well as residential units.

In July 2015, China and Israel signed an agreement intended to
increase, by a margin of 500 million dollars, the line of credit to fund
Israeli exports to the Chinese market. Beijing and Jerusalem are also
currently negotiating a free trade agreement. The fact that Chinese
companies will manage Israeli ports – namely Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat –
is also noteworthy.

Beijing and Moscow have reached a consensus about the supply of
Russian natural gas to China through two pipelines, called “Altai” and
the “Power of Siberia.”

In light of the above, it is accurate to hold that the AIIB could
bankroll profitable business projects that ultimately respond to
Beijing’s geopolitical interests. Thus, the synergy between the AIIB and
the New Silk Road project has been described as an ambitious plan that
represents the Chinese equivalent of the Marshall Plan.

Fragmenting the US Global Alliance System

Beijing is using the bait of economic incentives in order to fragment
the US global system of alliances. After all, the handsome profits
associated with investment in infrastructure projects in an increasingly
dynamic region in terms of economic growth are tempting to say the
least.

It is important to note that the United Kingdom was the first
European country to have joined the AIIB as a prospective founding
member, followed by Germany, France and Italy – all of them NATO members
– which revealed the scant importance those governments attached to the
need of crafting a common transatlantic position previously negotiated
with Washington, in order to define a unified course of action towards
this Chinese project, knowing that the rise of Chinese power in Asia and
elsewhere is a major concern for US interests.

Therefore, as was to be expected, the United States unsuccessfully
attempted to prevent its allies from joining the AIIB, questioning its
governance and invoking an alleged concern about environmental and human rights matters.

Seen from a geopolitical perspective, it is feasible to envisage the
AIIB as a tool designed by China not only to increase its influence
through support for economic growth, but also as part of a plan
orchestrated to encourage both allies and rivals of US power to maneuver
into a “strategic rebalancing,” to simultaneously move away from
Washington and into Beijing’s embracing arms.

Even though the list of traditional US allies who have decided to
join the AIIB is telling, the case of Great Britain is especially
remarkable, because of the common denominators in terms of cultural
heritage, language, history as well as the close military, intelligence,
and geopolitical collaboration between the two most prominent members
of the Anglosphere. Moreover, it is also outstanding because the City,
located in downtown London, is one of the world’s largest and most
prestigious financial nerve centers. In some respects – like currency
trade – it is even more important than Wall Street.

The aforementioned reflects that joining the bank entails deep
strategic ramifications that go well beyond the fields of trade,
business, and finance, and, of course, it is likely that was precisely
the intent of the AIIB’s Chinese architects from the very beginning:
they wanted to redraw a balance of power more favorable for Beijing’s
geopolitical interests.

Setting up a Platform whose Contribution will be Instrumental in Challenging the US Dollar’s Monetary Hegemony

According to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial
Telecommunication, by February 2019, the Chinese yuan had become, based
on value of domestic and international payments, the fifth most widely
used currency for global transactions (reaching a proportion of 2.15% of
the total), behind the dollar, the euro, the pound sterling and the
Japanese yen. This would indicate that it has already surpassed
traditionally strong currencies like the Canadian and Australian
dollars.

Indeed, available evidence supports the progressive expansion of the
Chinese currency’s financial Lebensraum. In this context, the following
developments must be taken into account:

The emission of bonds by the UK Royal Treasury denominated in yuan, which started being traded back in October 2014.

The signing, in January 2015, of an agreement between the Central
Banks of China and Switzerland, for the establishment of a financial
platform in Zurich to carry out financial operations denominated in
renminbi.

From January 2015 onwards, Gazprom
Neft, the Russian Federation’s third-largest oil producer, has priced
in yuan its oil sales contacts with China, which are being supplied
through the Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean oil pipeline.

In December 2015, the IMF’s Executive Board decided to include the
Chinese currency in the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket, whose value
since 1999 had been based on the US dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen,
and the British pound. This decision was officially explained as a
result of the renminbi’s status as a “freely usable” currency, in other
words, one whose importance is considerable for both international trade
and global finance.

The launch, in April 2016, of a benchmark for the exchange of gold,
which is denominated exclusively in yuan and operated by the Shanghai
Gold Exchange. Participants include mining, banking, and jewelry
companies.

Although these are telling signs of the growing internationalization
of the Chinese yuan, its evolutionary trajectory still has a long way to
go in order to reach a dominant position amongst the main reserve
currencies. One of those crucial steps will be its full convertibility.
In other words, it still lacks a critical mass to challenge the US
dollar, but its international competitiveness and attractiveness are
becoming stronger.

Actually, the largest Chinese investment bank, China International
Capital Corp. (CICC) had forecasted the renminbi’s convertibility by the
end of 2015. However, faced with recent significant financial turmoil,
the ruling Chinese Communist Party is reportedly planning to achieve the
full convertibility of the yuan by 2020.

Moreover, the IMF now regards the yuan as a reserve currency. Its
corresponding proportion –1.79% of the world’s composition of official
allocated foreign exchange reserves – is still modest, but it’s likely
to grow over the long-term.

Therefore, the increasing projection of the Chinese renminbi must be
analyzed in terms of high strategy, especially considering that the use
of financial tools as weapons of war as well as their destructive
potential and the degree of secrecy with which financial warfare can be
carried out, have been seriously studied by the Chinese military since,
at least, 1999 as a form of “semi-warfare”, “quasi-warfare” or
“sub-warfare”, i.e. an atypical conduit for offensive power projection
that intends to strike enemy countries and defeat them by unleashing
incapacitating havoc rather than through classical direct kinetic
attacks.

Consequently, even though the Chinese yuan still does not look like a
direct challenger of the US dollar, Beijing knows its huge foreign
currency reserves enables it to threaten the dollar’s current hegemonic
position.

Furthermore, it is important to highlight the prospective rise of a
geo-financial alliance between Beijing and Moscow, which could seek the
establishment of a financial order parallel to the US dollar’s monetary
hegemony, in order to counter the power wielded by the US through its
control of the global financial order.

In fact, the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, pointed out that
“designing financing tools that are complementary to the current
international financial system, China has no intention of knocking over
the chessboard, but rather is trying to help shape a more diverse world
playing board [… So, in principle,] China welcomes cooperation from
every corner of the world to achieve shared prosperity based on common
interest, but will go ahead anyway when it believes it is in the right.”

Indeed, it is imperative to bear in mind the importance of the yuan
in order to assess the AIIB’s future evolution, considering that the
Chinese have been seemingly promoting a role for the renminbi in the
loans to be granted by the AIIB. According to some media reports,
Chinese think tanks believe one of the goals should be to challenge the
greenback’s dominant position in global finance.

Lessons Learned

The case of the AIIB reveals that great powers are increasingly
resorting to the realm of finance, not just to enhance their economic
wealth, but also as part of an ambitious quest to find vectors that can
help them advance their national geopolitical interests and to
simultaneously undermine those of their rivals.

Therefore, it is clear that strategic maneuvers that combine
geopolitical and financial elements –including of course the
instrumental employment of multilateral banking institutions– are here
to stay as tools for power projection in an unconventional and
increasingly complex operational theatre in which incompatible interests
clash.

Accordingly, the international financial system is doomed to become
an increasingly confrontational arena in terms of high strategy, so an
intensification of moves and countermoves is more than reasonably
foreseeable in this peculiar chessboard. Needless to say, this goes well
beyond the traditional parameters of economic competition.

In this context, the instrumental control of institutional frameworks that play a prominent role in international financial governance will be an increasingly critical factor whose strategic importance might reshape the global balance of power in the 21st century. Perhaps not surprisingly, high finance and geopolitical grand strategy are converging more than ever before.

This article was published by Geopolitical Monitor.com

Eurasia Review


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Eurasia Review: The Poor State Of Lebanon – OpEd

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Over the past few decades a rapacious predator has been consuming the political, military and administrative organs of the once proud state of Lebanon, until only the outer shell of an independent sovereign country now remains. At one time it seemed that Hezbollah, a body deemed a terrorist organization by large parts of the world, had created a “state within a state” inside Lebanon. Many now believe that the Lebanese state and Hezbollah are in effect indistinguishable.

In theory Lebanon should be a template for a future peaceful Middle East. It is the only Middle East country which, by its very constitution, shares power equally between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims and Christians. Theory, however, has had to bow to practical reality. Lebanon has been highly unstable for much of its existence, and its unique constitution has tended to exacerbate, rather than eliminate, sectarian conflict

Around 1980 Iran’s first Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomenei, still basking in the glory of his 1979 Islamic Revolution, decided to strengthen his grip on Shia Islam by consolidating a number of Lebanon’s militant Shi’ite Muslim groups. He formed and funded a body calling itself Hezbollah, or “the Party of God”.

Hezbollah declared that its purpose, in line with Khomeini’s, was to oppose Western influences in general and Israel’s existence in particular. Soon Hezbollah was acting as Iran’s proxy in perpetrating a campaign of terror against their two perceived enemies. A wave of kidnappings, bombings, and assassinations were carried out across the world.

It is no surprise, therefore, that Hezbollah in its entirety has been designated a terrorist body by the Arab League, as well as by a batch of other nations including Canada, the Netherlands, the USA, all the Gulf states that form the Gulf Cooperation Council and, of course, Israel. They were joined in March 2019 by the UK, which finally proscribed the whole of the Hezbollah organization, rather than only its supposed “military wing”.

A few days later a British foreign office minister, Alistair Burt, visited Beirut and met Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, a known supporter of Hezbollah. During the course of conversation, Aoun declared that Hezbollah’s allegiances in the region did not affect internal Lebanese politics. The president was, in effect, giving his stamp of approval to the terrorist body controlled by a foreign state. Iran, that has sucked much of the independence out of his country.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri. on the other hand, could never be reconciled to the increasingly dominant position that Hezbollah has been assuming within the Lebanese body politic. Regardless of his political objections, his personal reasons are overwhelming.

On February 14, 2005, Hariri’s father Rafik, one-time prime minister and a powerful opponent of Syrian and Hezbollah’s increasing influence in Lebanon, was assassinated. The subsequent judicial proceedings, still ongoing after 14 years, have pretty well established that the murder was ordered by Bashar al Assad, Syria’s president, and carried out by Hezbollah operatives.

How complete is Hezbollah’s takeover of the state of Lebanon?

The country went to the polls in May 2018. The elections saw the Hezbollah-led political alliance win just over half of the parliamentary seats. A major factor in Hezbollah’s popularity is the vast network of social services, funded by Iran, that it runs, providing healthcare, education, finance, welfare, and communications. Initially set up to augment the pitifully poor services provided by the state, it has virtually taken over the state’s function in many areas.

The government that was eventually formed some nine months after the poll reflected the dominant position attained by Hezbollah and its allies. The organization was allocated three ministries including, for the first time, the Ministry of Health which controls one of the country’s largest budgets. In addition the Finance Ministry went to a Hezbollah ally.

As regards the military, there are two fully equipped fighting bodies in Lebanon – the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Hezbollah. The LAF may seem on paper the larger organization, with 72,000 personnel as against a Hezbollah maximum of 55,000, but it is a far less cohesive and unified force. Hezbollah has been equipped by Iran with a large rocket arsenal, thousands of anti-tank, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, as well as tanks and other military vehicles stationed in Syria. The LAF has been well funded by the US over the years, and has air and naval capacity, but the unpalatable fact is that it is no longer the independent instrument of the state. Hezbollah has infiltrated the LAF, and there is evidence of cooperation between them

It is particularly concerning that the LAF has compromised its role as the nation’s defence force by collaborating with the Hezbollah military. As a result, in any future conflict Israel would be unable to restrict its military action to Hezbollah. Indeed in May 2018 Israel’s then education minister, Naftali Bennett, said that “the State of Israel will not differentiate between the sovereign state of Lebanon and Hezbollah, and will view Lebanon as responsible for any action from within its territory.”

The distinguished commentator on Middle East affairs, Jonathan Spyer, recently analyzed the extent to which Hezbollah, acting as a proxy for Iran, has swallowed up the Lebanese state. The shell of the state has been left intact, he pointed out, both to serve as a protective camouflage and to carry out those aspects of administration in which Hezbollah and Iran have no interest. As a result, he concludes, it is impossible today in key areas of Lebanese life to determine exactly where the official state begins and Hezbollah’s shadow state ends. Lebanon is indeed in a sorry state.

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Eurasia Review: CPEC: Awakening The Giant – OpEd

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All it need is a drop to make the barren fields fertile. One such corroboration is China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which despite all the odds is becoming a reality. Since its dawn, it was unnecessarily criticized for its nature and inculpated to have shady dealings yet it stood firm in its certitude.

Roll back to the days when Pakistan was not only safe for investments but was also accused to be a safe-heaven for harvesting and fostering of violent activities. From the economy to the social strata, all was desolated and no less than a barren piece of land, which was lacking any productive capacities.

However, fast forward to April 2014, when China kept its promises and proved Pakistan China friendship to be all weathered. When no one was willing to even support Pakistan’s stance, China came up with the investment. Since then, these investments commonly known by the umbrella term CPEC, are proving to be that much needed drop which is fertilizing the obscured potential in Pakistan. Today, none can defy the fact that although Chinese will bag massive benefits from CPEC but it has a lot to provide Pakistan with as well.

CPEC is unveiling itself as to be a blessing in disguise. Just as the slow but persistence can lead to triumph, the gradual progress has brought a lot of eyes to Pakistan and it is becoming the pivot of attention in the region. Since the very beginning of the CPEC, it has procured a great deal of investment for Pakistan whether it is the Saudis or the Comrades in Russia; everyone seems to be intrigued by the thriving development on the lands of Pakistan.

The world has always been acknowledging the geo-strategic importance of Pakistan, but with CPEC, it is being highlighted even more. CPEC is a comprehensive and substantive cooperation between China and Pakistan, which has the potential to unfold flairs of development in Pakistan.

Drop of CPEC aided the social and economic segment of Pakistan bear fruits in the form of various projects. These fruits upon their ripening will bring holistic benefits for Pakistan. In other words, these perks will not be restricted to specific part or province of Pakistan but the whole country including each segment of society will be benefited from it.

One of the key aspects of CPEC is connectivity and integration. It is not only inter-connective but also intra-connective which reflects that it will connect provinces with each other but cities within these provinces are also linked to each other. From the gateway tot Arabian Sea, the road network climbs up to the peaks of Karakorum. CPEC not only covers 2700km route but its aura shadows all. Moreover, CPEC’s development in western part of Pakistan including Gwadar port will create favorable environment for doing business, which ultimately will attract the investors from across the globe to the much deprived province, Balochistan.

From railway network to road infrastructure CPEC covers all the basic contours required to uplift the socio-economic fabric of Pakistan.

Systematic development and organized structure makes it a progressive project. Locations for the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZ’s) is chosen in a certain fashion that will benefit not only each province but also parts like Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. In these SEZs, industries will be established to further contribute to the economics of Pakistan.

Pakistan has fought a decade long skirmish with terrorism which most of the time has forced Pakistan to direct its state potential to security, thus neglecting the other sectors of society. Pakistan’s economy was getting ravaged by this fact. When Pakistan’s potential and productivity was wizened by the security concerns; China stood with Pakistan and supplied what was required. China trusted Pakistan when no one else was willing to even bat an eye on Pakistan.

For both countries, CPEC has a lot to give. China will get easy and secure access to the market for its products whereas giant within Pakistan has just awakened. Nonetheless, it still needs true and upright conviction and intellect form Pakistani side to fully maneuver CPEC in its favor and ascend from the ashes. Also if Pakistan extract the maximum benefit out of CPEC it will become center of global economic attention.

*The writer is a Research Associate at the Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR).

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Eurasia Review: Crisis At The US Border – Analysis

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US border policies, prolonged detention of migrants, attempts to criminalize documentation of human rights violations, draw international condemnation.

By Susan Froetschel*

Donald Trump and his supporters view illegal migration as a leading
economic and security threat for the United States. The administration
has taken a tough – others say cruel – approach on illegal entries at the Southwest border with the hope of deterring migration.

The number of entries spiked in 2019, with US Customs and Border
Protection apprehending about 600,000 immigrants – more than half are
families – from January to May. Apprehensions for the year are more than
double those for previous years since 2014, and the government places
hundreds of men, women and children each month in temporary holding
facilities, described as “concentration camps” by US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The facilities are under increasing scrutiny. Congressional
representatives who have toured the facilities describe the conditions
as horrific with overcrowding and parents frantic over health issues and
the whereabouts of their children. The detainees at some facilities
report limited meals and no access to clothing, showers, toiletry
supplies and activities. Guards have rejected community volunteers
who tried to deliver supplies, prompting introduction of legislation in
Texas requiring detention centers to accept donations. The incoming
president of the American Academy of Pediatrics toured two facilities.
“When they opened the door, the first thing that … hit us was a
smell,” said Sara Goza. “It was the smell of sweat, urine and feces.”

Trump administration officials dismiss the complaints, but the Office
of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security issued a management alert
in May, with photographs, about facilities for migrants who crossed
into the US southwest border region of the Rio Grande Valley. The
inspections of five holding facilities and two ports of entry were
unannounced.

One senior manager called the overcrowding a “ticking time bomb,” and
the alert describes “urgent issues that require immediate attention and
action”:

● People are kept in chain-link pens, with concrete floors, no bedding, and little room to walk or lay down.

● US agencies, including Health and Human Services, are operating at
overcapacity. Overcrowding leads to an escalation of security concerns.
At one facility, adults were held in standing-room-only cells for a
week.

● Customs and Border Protection is prepared for short-term
detentions, 72 hours, allowing processing and transfer to better
equipped agencies. Short-term detentions can stretch into weeks.

● Escape attempts are reported.

● Standards require showers within 72 hours for those in CBP custody, but some detainees go a month without showers.

● Upon seeing inspectors and visitors, the detainees “banged on the
cell windows, shouted, pressed notes to the window with their time in
custody….”

● Security concerns have emerged. “We are concerned that overcrowding
and prolonged detention represent an immediate risk to the health and
safety of DHS agents and officers, and to those detained.”

● Conditions for children separated from parents are dire: “While all facilities had infant formula, diapers, baby wipes, and juice and snacks children, we observed that two facilities [of five] had not provided children access to hot meals – as is required by the TEDS standards – until the week we arrived. Additionally, while the Border Patrol tried to provide the least restrictive setting available for children (e.g., by leaving holding room doors open), the limited space for medical isolation resulted in some UACs and families being held in closed cells.”

The Department of Homeland Security responded, describing the
southern border as “an acute and worsening crisis.” The Office of
Inspector General urged more resources and faster transfers to more
permanent facilities. Officials also pointed out that border agents had
rescued more than 3400 people since October 2018.

But government administrators may not want more resources to aid
migrants. Jim Crumpacker in a DHS response, noted: “without
Congressional action to address legal and judicial loopholes, families
and [unaccompanied alien children] will continue to be incentivized by
the smuggling organizations to make the dangerous journey and be
encouraged by the likelihood that families will not be detained during
their immigration proceedings.”

Amnesty International also released a report describing
“an unlawful and politically motivated campaign of intimidation,
threats, harassment, and criminal investigations” targeting any who try
to defend the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers – including
activists, lawyers, journalists, and volunteers. The goal, notes Amnesty
International, is to end the documentation of systematic human-rights
violations committed against migrants and asylum seekers.

US officials, by urging consequences
for migrants, have encouraged systemic human rights violations,
suggests Amnesty International, and inspired activists to document the
abuses: “by discriminatorily targeting human rights defenders – most of
them US citizens – based solely on their political or other opinions,
speech and activities, the Trump administration has violated
international law, the US Constitution, US laws, and corresponding DHS
policies that acknowledge those legally binding civil liberties
protections,” notes the Amnesty International report. “Under
international law, the US government plainly violated the human rights
defenders’ freedom of expression; right to privacy; equality under the
law; and freedom from discrimination, including on the basis of
political or other opinion. In doing so, authorities may also have
indirectly violated the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers, by
undermining their access to asylum procedures and life-saving
humanitarian aid. Under international law, it is also unlawful for US
authorities to criminalize humanitarian aid.”

According to the Amnesty report, the legal justification by the Department of Homeland Security for targeting human rights defenders: “encouraging” or “inducing” smuggling and illegal border crossings by asylum seekers.

Manufactured crisis? Tough policies have not reduced the number of border crossings and apprehensions (Source: US Customs and Border Protection
Manufactured crisis? Tough policies have not reduced the number of border crossings and apprehensions (Source: US Customs and Border Protection

Migrants
are fleeing poverty and violence in El Salvador, Honduras and
Guatemala. The combined population for the three countries is about 35
million, representing a little more than 10 percent of the US
population. The GDP per capita is about $4500 for El Salvador and
Guatemala, and less than $2500 for Honduras. Canada and the United
States issue travel advisories on the countries. Violent crime and
murder are common, along with drug trafficking, transnational organized
crime and street gangs, while police lack resources to investigate or
prosecute crimes. “As a result, criminals linked to organized crime
operate with a high degree of impunity,” notes the Canadian government.
The World Bank reports homicide rates are among the highest in the world, challenging commerce and investment, and civil society groups point to under-counts in official tallies.

Fertility rates
fell with the World Bank reporting 2.1 children per woman in El
Salvador, 2.4 in Honduras, and 2.9 for Guatemala – all in 2017. Honduras
and Guatemala are among the countries with the highest population density
in the world. Unemployment hovers at 7 percent for El Salvador and
Honduras and 2.8 percent for Guatemala. The poverty rate, largely tied
to corruption, according to the Borgen Project, is about 60 percent for Guatemala and Honduras and about 40 percent for El Salvador.  

In November, the United Nations
expressed concern soon after US agents used teargas to disperse
migrants at the Mexico border. Nine experts sent letters to the
governments of Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the United States,
reminding each that migrants are vulnerable, facing shortages of basic
supplies such as food, water and shelter. “Rather than fueling tensions
with hate speech and threats, Governments should work together to tackle inequality,
poverty, social exclusion, violence, insecurity, environmental
degradation and persecution as the main drivers of migration in Central
America,” nine experts wrote, emphasizing that reliance on military
force will not solve the problems. “Experience shows that when armed
forces are used to perform tasks that they are not trained to do, this
usually leads to serious violations of human rights.”

The conditions are inhumane for the migrants as well as government
personnel and contract staff working at such centers. The best course
for the United States is to ensure sufficient aid for Central American
countries linked to incentives to end corruption, oversight over
agencies responsible for migrants, transparency for border operations,
and acceptance of volunteer specialists who provide services to this
vulnerable population. Otherwise, so much chaos, neglect and
mistreatment is a recipe for bitterness, resentment, violence and
perhaps even terrorism.

Read the report from the Office of Inspector General of the US Department of Homeland Security.

*Susan Froetschel is editor of YaleGlobal Online.

Eurasia Review


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Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): The FBI News Review: D.C. Council member Jack Evans increasingly isolated as FBI probe advances – Washington Post

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D.C. Council member Jack Evans increasingly isolated as FBI probe advances – Washington Post
NEW DETAILS: ‘Top secret’ documents found at NASIC contractor’s home – Dayton Daily News
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Paul Schwartzman Reporter specializing in political profiles and narratives about life, death and everything in between July 5 at 5:08 PM The political isolation of Jack Evans, the District’s longest-serving elected official, has never been more complete.
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Doug Offermann, Abilene Published 4:00 p.m. CT July 5, 2019 CLOSE In advance, I would like to say (the public) should look forward to a lot of op-ed pieces over Robert Mueller’s testimony next week.
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DOJ wrapping up investigation; reaction and analysis from Rep. John Ratcliffe and former congressman Trey Gowdy. Key witnesses sought for questioning by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E.
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July 05, 2019

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Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (96 sites): realDonaldTrump on Twitter: Happy Birthday to our great United States @SecretService! twitter.com/secretservice/…

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A mix of surveillance footage, online search histories, and statements recorded by the FBI with the help of Christensen’s former girlfriend, Terra Bullis, led to his arrest. In the recordings, Christensen described in detail how he killed Zhang and her “valiant” attempts to fight back, and claimed no one would ever be able to find her body.
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Sentencing begins Monday for 29-year-old Brendt Christensen, whom an Illinois jury found guilty of the 2017 kidnapping and murder of visiting Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang, 26. It took the jury under two hours last week to convict Christensen on three charges: kidnapping resulting in a death and two counts of making false statements to the FBI, CBS Chicago reported.
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A new United Nations investigation underscores the brutal nature of Nicolas Maduro’s government in Venezuela. As reported in the July 4 edition of the New York Times, UN investigators found that Venezuelan Special Action Forces “have carried out thousands of extrajudicial killings in the past 18 months and then manipulated crime scenes to make it look as if the victims had been resisting arrest.” In essence, government security units acted as death squads to eliminate regime opponents.
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Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (96 sites): NPR News Now: NPR News: 07-05-2019 3PM ET

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Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (96 sites): 1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): “trump anxiety” – Google News: Column: Are Democrats blowing their 2020 chance? – Chicago Tribune

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Column: Are Democrats blowing their 2020 chance?  Chicago Tribune

Republicans shouldn’t count on Democrats’ veering so far left they will turn off voters.

“trump anxiety” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)

Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (96 sites)


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Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (96 sites): 1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): “Trump anxiety” – Google News: Column: Are Democrats blowing their 2020 chance? – Chicago Tribune

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Column: Are Democrats blowing their 2020 chance?  Chicago Tribune

Republicans shouldn’t count on Democrats’ veering so far left they will turn off voters.

“Trump anxiety” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)

Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (96 sites)


Spread the Knowledge
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