Archive for November, 2017

Report: Saudi Arabia is willing to abandon Palestinians to make deal with Israel against Iran

November 30, 2017

By Bethan McKernan

The Independent

Establishing diplomatic relations with Israel to strengthen opposition to Tehran is top of Riyadh’s agenda, former Israeli defence minister claims

Saudi Arabia “doesn’t give a damn” about the Palestinian cause, a former Israeli security advisor has said, as long as it can cement a deal with Israel against Iran.

The Kingdom is willing to accept almost any kind of Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former defence minister Yaacov Nagal said in an interview with The Telegraph.

“They just have to say there is an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, they don’t care, they don’t give a damn about what will be in the agreement,” Mr Nagel said.

Trump: Israelis and Palestinians are ‘reaching for peace’

“They need to say there is an agreement in order to go for next steps.”

In recent months, relations between Riyadh and Tehran have deteriorated – while Saudi Arabia and Israel’s relationship, united by their common foe of Iran, appears to be warming.

Establishing diplomatic relations would please US President Donald Trump, who counts the two countries as among his strongest allies against the perceived threat from Tehran.

Brokering a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is one of the Trump administration’s only clear foreign policy goals to date.

While the US seeks to unite Saudi Arabia and other Arab states with Israel against Iran, many Middle Eastern countries are reluctant to get too close to the Israelis without progress on the Palestinian issue.

Saudi leaders themselves have to date not committed to formally normalising relations with the Jewish state.

Publicly, Riyadh’s position is that Israel must abide by the 1967 Green Line for any such negotiations to take place.


Middle East: Hamas ‘not committed’ to unity deal, says Fatah

November 30, 2017

This file photo taken on July 20, 2017 shows fighters from the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Hamas movement, marching in the streets in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis. (AFP / SAID KHATIB)
RAMALLAH: Fatah’s top negotiator said Wednesday that rival movement Hamas was “not committed” to a landmark Palestinian reconciliation agreement, two days ahead of a key deadline to implement the accord.
“Hamas is not committed to the agreement it signed in Cairo to end the division,” Azzam Al-Ahmad, chief negotiator for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah, told AFP.
“Until this moment, the problems and obstacles from Hamas are still there and are increasing.”
Palestinian Authority employees were prevented from returning to work at a number of ministries in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, a union said, in another sign of tension.
The UN envoy for the Middle East peace process meanwhile held meetings in the Gaza Strip as part of efforts to urge Hamas and Fatah to follow through on their accord.
Hamas is scheduled to hand back control of Gaza, including all ministries, to the Palestinian Authority by Friday, a decade after seizing it in a 2007 near civil war.
The Hamas-run union for public employees said it had instructed its delegates to block former employees from returning to work at the ministries, saying their return came in a “random manner” and aimed at “creating great problems.”
Witnesses said dozens of former employees were prevented from going back to work at the finance, health and education ministries among others.
In a separate development, an Israeli official said his country will refuse Swiss diplomats access to the Gaza Strip until further notice after recent meetings were held with Hamas leaders.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued the order to prevent the diplomats from travelling to the Palestinian enclave from Israeli territory, the official said on condition of anonymity. The order will remain in place “until clarifications occur,” said the official.
On Tuesday, Switzerland’s envoy to the Palestinian Authority, Julien Thoni, met Hamas’s chief in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar.
At least one other recent meeting was also held with Hamas leaders.
Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the US and EU.
Switzerland however has contacts with Hamas in order to maintain dialogue with all parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as part of its peace and Azzam Al-Ahmad, efforts.

Bitcoin could threaten financial stabilty: Fed governor

November 30, 2017


© AFP/File | Bitcoin surged above $11,000 for the first time on November 29, 2017 before diving in value

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Digitial currencies like bitcoin could pose a threat to financial stability as they gain wider use, a chief Federal Reserve banking oversight official said Thursday.The remarks from newly installed Fed Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles came as the cryptocurrency took a vertiginous dive on Thursday after skyrocketing earlier in the week to more than 10 times its value at the start of the year.

Bitcoin is also increasingly being embraced by Wall Street, with plans reportedly afoot at markets including Nasdaq and Chicago’s Mercantile Exchange and Board of Options Exchange to offer trading in the currency’s futures.

Decentralized digital currencies like bitcoin operate as a payments system with no central bank and are exchanged between sellers and buyers using cryptography.

Around 1800 GMT on Thursday, Bitcoin had a total market value of about $163 billion. It was trading at $9,670.85.

In remarks delivered Thursday in Washington, Quarles said that in times of crisis, demand for liquidity among bank depositors often shoots up, putting major financial institutions under strain.

But it is not clear how digital currencies would perform in similar situations.

“The ‘currency’ or asset at the center of some of these systems is not backed by other secure assets, has no intrinsic value, is not the liability of a regulated banking institution, and in leading cases, is not the liability of any institution at all,” he said in prepared remarks.

“While these digital currencies may not pose major concerns at their current levels of use, more serious financial stability issues may result if they achieve wide-scale usage,” said Quarles.

Resulting risks to price could create “a large challenge to the system,” he added, if digital currencies could not be predictably exchanged for the US dollar at a stable exchange rate in “times of adversity.”

Nasdaq President and CEO Adene Friedman tamped down talk of futures trading, telling CNBC that the tech-heavy New York exchange was still considering its next move.

“We actually haven’t announced anything,” she said. “I would just say that we have been having active dialogue with a lot of clients and with partners about what might be possible over time.”

Merkel and Erdogan hold first phone call in months

November 30, 2017



© AFP/File | Ties between Turkey and Germany — key NATO allies with strong historic ties — have nosedived over Ankara’s arrest of German citizens and Berlin’s strong criticism of the Turkish crackdown following last year’s failed coup

ISTANBUL (AFP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday discussed bilateral relations in their first phone conversation since tensions plunged to an all-time low this summer, Turkish media reported.According to state-run news agency Anadolu, Erdogan and Merkel are committed to “giving fresh impetus to bilateral contacts at the highest level”, once a German government has been formed.

The call came a day after a similar call between Erdogan and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Anadolu said.

Ties between the two countries — NATO allies with strong historic ties — have nosedived over Ankara’s arrest of German citizens and Berlin’s strong criticism of the Turkish crackdown following last year’s failed coup, which has seen over 50,000 people arrested.

The Turkish government has however sent several reassuring signals in recent weeks, including the conditional release of two German nationals who had been detained in Turkey.

A week after the German citizens were set free, the countries’ foreign ministers also met in the southern Turkish resort of Antalya for informal talks — the first meeting since the bitter row intensified.

During the call Thursday, Merkel and Erdogan discussed the pact signed last year between Ankara and the European Union, which has reduced the number of migrant and refugee routes to Europe, according to Anadolu.

Ankara has accused the EU of not granting the financial assistance promised under this agreement quickly enough.

Erdogan also briefed the chancellor on a Turkey-Iran-Russia summit on Syria, held last week in the Russian resort of Sochi, according to Anadolu.

Mueller Investigation, Michael Flynn and Alan Dershowitz — Mueller’s look into Russian election meddling has all kinds of twists and turns

November 30, 2017
Image may contain: 1 person, suit
Michael Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner
High praise for Michael Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, from Alan Dershowitz on Fox News, Thursday, November 30, 2017, in the 1:30 PM time block.Dershowitz said Flynn’s lawyer “knows how to play the game” and is among the best players in the Mueller investigations.

Without mentioning Mr. Kelner’s name, Dershowitz said “he’s got a big sign around Flynn’s neck that says ‘testimony for sale .””

Then he quickly added, “Or for rent.”

Dershowitz seemed to say that Flynn’s lawyer was trying to entice the Mueller team to make a deal for Flynn’s testimony. But Dershowitz also said thet Flynn is a known liar and would never be considered a capable and truthful witness by the Mueller team…



Alan Dershowitz: Mike Flynn ‘will say anything’ to get a deal from Robert Mueller

Harvard law school professor Alan Dershowitz speculated Tuesday that former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn “will say anything” to get a deal from special counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation.“It’s not clear that Flynn has anything to offer,” Dershowitz told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham. “He’s trying to save his son. He’s trying to save himself. He’ll say anything. He’ll not only sing, he’ll compose and create evidence if he has to do that in order to get a deal.”

Dershowitz called Flynn’s credibility “worthless” because he’s been accused of perjury for denying to the FBI that he discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Flynn’s lawyers told Trump’s lawyers they will no longer share information about the special counsel’s investigation, signaling that Flynn may be cooperating with Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Trump’s lawyers believe Flynn may try to negotiate a deal because Flynn has indicated he’s worried charges might be brought against his son, Michael G. Flynn, who was chief of staff to his father.


Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal

Trump’s legal team confirmed late last week that Flynn’s attorney Robert Kelner alerted the team that he could no longer engage in privileged discussions about defense strategy in the case — a sign Flynn is preparing to negotiate with prosecutors over a deal that could include his testimony against the president or senior White House officials.

That process would typically include a series of off-the-record discussions in which prosecutors lay out in detail for Flynn and his lawyers the fruits of their investigation into his activities. Prosecutors would also provide Flynn an opportunity to offer what’s called a proffer, detailing what information, if any, he has that could implicate others in wrongdoing.

When reached Monday, Kelner declined to comment on the nature of his morning visit to Mueller’s offices in Washington, D.C.

Sources familiar with the discussions between Flynn’s legal team and Trump’s attorneys told ABC News that while there was never a formal, signed joint defense agreement between Flynn’s defense counsel and other targets of the Mueller probe, the lawyers had engaged in privileged discussions for months.

Jay Sekulow, a member of Trump’s legal team, told ABC News last week that the break was “not entirely unexpected.”

“No one should draw the conclusion that this means anything about Gen. Flynn cooperating against the president,” Sekulow said.

The New York Times broke the news, calling it an indication that Flynn may be cooperating with prosecutors.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, suit

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP via Getty Images
Michael Flynn Jr. is seen behind his father, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, as they arrive at Trump Tower in New York on Nov. 17, 2016.

Sources familiar with the Flynn investigation have told ABC News the retired lieutenant general has felt increased pressure since prosecutors began focusing attention on his son, Michael G. Flynn, who worked as part of the Flynn Intel Group, the consulting firm founded by the elder Flynn, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Michael G. Flynn also traveled with his father to Russia in 2015 for his now famous appearance at a Moscow dinner where he sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Democrats in Congress have told ABC News they forwarded information to the Mueller team alleging that Michael T. Flynn illegally concealed more than a dozen foreign contacts and overseas trips during the process of renewing his security clearances.

“It appears that General Flynn violated federal law by omitting this trip and these foreign contacts from his security clearance renewal application in 2016 and concealing them from security clearance investigators who interviewed him as part of the background check process,” Reps. Elijah Cummings and Eliot L. Engel, both Democrats, wrote in a letter to Flynn’s attorney.

The letter highlights information House investigators collected from executives at three private companies advised by Flynn in 2015 and 2016. The companies were pursuing a joint venture with Russia to bring nuclear power to several Middle Eastern countries and secure the resulting nuclear fuel before Flynn joined then-candidate Trump on the campaign trail.

Flynn is a decorated military officer who served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 until his retirement in 2014. He was out of the spotlight only briefly. He joined the Trump campaign as an adviser in 2016, and Trump later named Flynn as his first national security adviser. He was forced to resign, however, after just 24 days on the job, when it was revealed that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and suit

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
Robert Mueller, special counsel on the Russian investigation, leaves the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., June 21, 2017.

Cummings told ABC News that Flynn’s foreign contacts — which involved high-ranking foreign officials and business executives — were so numerous they could not have been inadvertent omissions or incidental contacts.

“He has, over and over again, omitted information that he should have disclosed,” Cummings said. “It’s not an aberration, and that’s clear.

Flynn’s lawyer has declined to comment on the letter, and when ABC News tracked down Flynn this summer at a beach in Newport, Rhode Island — his hometown — he didn’t say much more.

“I’m just having a great time with the family here,” Flynn said. “I’m doing good, [but] I’m not going to make any comments.”

The alleged omissions could be a serious matter — and not just for Flynn. While Cummings said intentionally omitting foreign contacts when applying for security clearance can carry a five-year prison term, he acknowledged that penalties are rarely so severe. The leverage the alleged transgressions provide, however, could prove useful to prosecutors seeking to use the threat of prosecution to compel Flynn’s assistance in the broader investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Former FBI Director James Comey provided a window into that strategy during his three hours of testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this year.

“There is always a possibility if you have a criminal case against someone and you bring them in, squeeze them, flip them, [that] they give you information about something else,” Comey said.

The alleged omissions are just the latest to make trouble for Flynn. He failed to declare a December 2015 trip to Russia, where he sat next to Putin and for which was paid $33,000. In March 2017, Flynn submitted a late filing with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, revealing that the Flynn Intel Group was paid $530,000 for three months of work on behalf of a Dutch firm owned by a Turkish businessman with close ties to the Turkish government.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and suit

Susan Walsh/AP Photo, FILE
President Donald Trump walks in front of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, left, and after arriving at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Feb. 6, 2017.more +

Flynn’s work for Turkey remains the subject of additional scrutiny. Of interest to federal agents, according to people interviewed by the FBI, is his alleged role in a bizarre, unrealized proposal first reported by The Wall Street Journal to kidnap Turkish dissident cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is living in exile in rural Pennsylvania and is suspected of involvement in a failed coup attempt.

Gulen, who has denied involvement in the coup attempt, has lived legally in the Pocono Mountains since 1999, and the Turkish government has been financing efforts to persuade the U.S. government to return him to Turkey for years.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey confirmed for ABC News he was at a meeting in which Flynn allegedly raised the idea.

“It became clear to me that they were seriously considering a kidnapping operation for Gulen, and I told them then that it was a bad idea, it was illegal,” Woolsey said. “I won’t say that they had firmly decided to do that. But they were seriously considering it.”

Kelner, Flynn’s lawyer, took the rare step of publicly refuting those assertions, saying there was no such discussion and calling them categorically “false.” In mid-July at a press conference, the Turkish ambassador to the U.S. also denied the notion of a kidnapping plot.

“There’s no truth to that,” he said, adding that the Turkish government was following “traditional” procedures to have Gulen extradited “through the legal channels.”

ABC News’ John Santucci contributed to this report.

Sen. John McCain’s Support Bolsters GOP Tax Hopes as Senate Vote Nears

November 30, 2017

Arizona Republican’s endorsement shrinks list of undecided senators to five; McConnell says he’s ‘optimistic’

WASHINGTON—Sen. John McCain said he would support a $1.4 trillion tax cut that Republicans are advancing in the Senate, pushing the plan closer to passage though intense jockeying is still playing out among lawmakers as a critical vote on the Senate floor nears in the hours ahead.

The support of the Arizona Republican, who helped defeat GOP efforts to repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act this year, gives Republicans momentum. Party leaders want to pass the bill this week. They still haven’t locked down all the needed votes, but the list of those still undecided has shrunk to five: Sens. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.), Susan Collins (R., Maine), Steve Daines (R., Mont.) and Ron Johnson (R., Wis.).

“After careful thought and consideration, I have decided to support the Senate tax reform bill,” Mr. McCain said in a statement. “I believe this legislation, though far from perfect, would enhance American competitiveness, boost the economy, and provide long-overdue tax relief for middle class families.”

Republicans need 50 votes, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a possible tie. The party controls 52 seats, compared with 48 for Democrats. No Democrat is expected to vote for the bill, meaning Republicans can afford to lose only two votes.


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“We’re going down the home stretch, headed toward the finish line either later tonight or early tomorrow,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said Thursday. “Everyone is trying to get to yes. I’m optimistic.”

They will soon turn to filing amendments on the Senate floor. Any senator can get a vote on any amendment. Republicans have filed amendments to expand charitable deductions, repeal the estate tax and change the tax rules for marijuana. They are constrained by their decision to limit the amount of tax cuts to $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

The core of the fast-moving GOP tax bill is a permanent corporate tax cut combined with tax reductions for individuals and pass-through businesses such as partnerships that expire after 2025. The bill would also repeal the mandate for individuals to have health insurance and allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Republicans say it will boost economic growth, though official estimates of the growth effects from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation haven’t been released and the Treasury Department hasn’t released a detailed analysis either.

If the bill passes the Senate, Republicans must reach a House-Senate compromise, likely through a conference committee composed of lawmakers from both chambers. The House and Senate would each then have to vote again. An alternative would be for the House to vote up or down on the Senate bill, but House leaders have insisted that they won’t do that.

Republicans are still trying to figure out how they could address Mr. Corker’s concerns about budget deficits. They are attempting to design a “trigger” that would increase taxes automatically if the economy doesn’t pick up and revenue undershoots expectations. Mr. Corker said Wednesday that lawmakers were having “difficulties” crafting a trigger; some Republicans are averse to any proposal that could reverse tax cuts down the road.

A focal point for Republicans on Thursday will be an amendment to make child tax credits more generous.

The current Senate bill doubles an existing tax credit to $2,000 per child, which helps offset the loss of other tax breaks. Sens. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Mike Lee (R., Utah) are proposing expanding the child tax credit to more low-income families. They want to pay for the measure with a 22% corporate tax rate, higher than the 20% rate pushed by President Donald Trump.

Messrs. Rubio and Lee say the party needs to focus more on families and mitigate the cost of raising children. The pro-business wing of the party says the 20% corporate tax rate is crucial to the bill. Groups such as Americans for Tax Reform, led by antitax activist Grover Norquist, were rallying conservatives against the amendment.

“I don’t think it would pass,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R., N.C.), saying he saw no reason to move from a 20% corporate-tax rate.

“I don’t have a problem necessarily with 20%, but 22% would generate just as much growth,” Mr. Rubio said.

Ms. Collins, a Republican who is a crucial swing senator, indicated Thursday morning that her support for the bill would depend on passage of an amendment she has offered to include a deduction for property taxes up to $10,000, as well as an agreement she struck with GOP leaders to separately pass two health-care bills designed to stabilize the individual insurance market.

Those bills are aimed at offsetting the impact of repealing the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, which says that most people must have health-care insurance or pay a penalty. Republicans added the mandate repeal to the tax bill because it reduces federal health-care spending and thus frees up money for deeper tax cuts.

“It would be very difficult for me to support the bill if I do not prevail on those two issues,” Ms. Collins said Thursday morning at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “The reason I’m more optimistic is the extensive discussion I’ve had with Senate leaders.”

Ms. Collins also wants to lower a threshold for deducting the cost of medical expenses to 7.5% of income. The Affordable Care Act set a higher bar, limiting the medical-expense deduction to amounts that exceed 10% of income. The details of her amendment are still taking shape, but at a minimum the changes would apply to senior citizens starting next year.

Ms. Collins said she couldn’t give a firm position on the tax bill until she sees the outcome of the long series of amendment votes that will lead up to the final passage vote.

“I need to wait to see what happens, but I am encouraged by the receptivity to the proposals I’m putting forth,” she said.

Ms. Collins said she supported the amendment from Messrs. Rubio and Lee. With those three votes and support from Democrats, that proposal could pass. But Democrats have been circumspect about their votes on the amendment and whether they would do anything to improve a bill they intend to campaign against as fiscally irresponsible and hurtful to middle- and low-income households.

Ms. Collins said she planned to offer a slightly different amendment that would pay for expanding the tax credit for child and dependent care by changing the tax treatment for carried interest. Carried interest is the profit that some investment managers, such as at hedge funds, typically get. It is taxed at preferential long-term capital-gains rates, now 23.8%, compared with the current top ordinary income rate of 39.6%.

“I talked to the president about that and he had said he had no problem with closing the carried-interest loophole,” Ms. Collins said.

Write to Richard Rubin at, Siobhan Hughes at and Kristina Peterson at
John McCain says he will support the GOP tax bill, giving the plan an enormous boost

john mccain chuck schumerU.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (L) and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) share a moment as they speak to members of the press outside the Senate Chamber June 27, 2013 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

  • Sen. John McCain said Thursday that he would vote for the Republican tax plan.
  • McCain said that the bill is “far from perfect” but that it would help the US economy.
  • McCain’s support was in question due to his opposition to the Bush tax cuts, concerns over the national debt, and votes against the GOP Obamacare repeal bills.

Sen. John McCain announced Thursday that he will support the Senate Republican tax plan, significantly boosting the legislation’s chances as it speeds toward a vote.

“After careful thought and consideration, I have decided to support the Senate tax reform bill,” McCain said in a statement. “I believe this legislation, though far from perfect, would enhance American competitiveness, boost the economy, and provide long overdue tax relief for middle class families.”

Stocks surged amid Thursday’s tax reform developments. The Dow jumped over 350 points, while the Nasdaq jumped more than 60.

McCain’s support was considered a toss-up due to his votes against tax cuts under President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003. The Arizona senator cited concerns over the bill’s potential impact on the national debt during those debates and had expressed similar qualms this time. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Senate bill would add roughly $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years.

McCain was also considered a question mark because of his votes to block the Obamacare repeal bills over the summer. During that debate, McCain gave an impassioned speech in support of regular order in the Senate instead of the rushed process Republican leaders used to bring the healthcare bills to the floor.

McCain said in his statement that hearings the tax bill – the tax Cuts and Jobs Act TCJA) — were enough to please him.

“For months, I have called for a return to regular order, and I am pleased that this important bill was considered through the normal legislative processes, with several hearings and a thorough mark-up in the Senate Finance Committee during which more than 350 amendments were filed and 69 received a vote,” McCain said.

The Senate is currently debating the TCJA and is expected to hold a vote on the bill late Thursday night or Friday. Several other GOP members are holding out support from the bill due to concerns over the deficit and debt, the bill’s treatment of pass-through businesses, or proposed healthcare changes in the bill.

Republicans back Theresa May in Twitter row with Donald Trump — New York Daily News Says Trump Is Mentally Ill

November 30, 2017

Republicans have spoken out in support of Theresa May after Donald Trump made a jibe at the Prime Minister in an ongoing transatlantic row over his sharing of far-right tweets.

The US president lashed out at the British Prime Minister after her office took the unusual step of issuing a strong statement saying Mr Trump was “wrong” to promote the material.

Mr Trump wrote on Twitter: “@Theresa_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!”

Republican Orrin Hatch, the Senate’s longest serving Republican, said: “PM @theresa_may is one of the great world leaders, I have incredible love and respect for her and for the way she leads the United Kingdom, especially in the face of turbulence.”

The Utah senator visited Mrs May at Downing Street last week and shared a picture of his trip with the tweet.

Senior Republican senator John McCain has also chimed in, saying he was “surprised” at the president’s tweets.

“PM @theresa_may is one of the great world leaders, I have incredible love and respect for her and for the way she leads the United Kingdom, especially in the face of turbulence.” -OGH

(Photo: Hatch at 10 Downing Street last Tuesday)

Republican senator Lindsey Graham has said Mr Trump’s tweets were “particularly unhelpful” .

“You don’t want to take a fringe group and elevate their content,” the South Carolina senator said.

“I think it also is not the message we need to be sending right now where we need Muslim allies.

“I can’t tell you how much of a miscalculation this is. This is embracing religious bigotry

“To the prime minister, I understand your concern and a lot of people in America don’t want to go down the road the president is going down.

“The special relationship is not just words. When we got to war the Brits go to war. When you put the British leader in a bad spot you damage the cause.”

Meanwhile the New York Daily News has branded Mr Trump a “madman” over the actions.

In an editorial headlined “Donald Trump is a madman” the newspaper wrote: “After his latest spasm of deranged tweets, only those completely under his spell can deny what growing numbers of Americans have long suspected.

“The President of the United States is profoundly unstable. He is mad. He is, by any honest layman’s definition, mentally unwell and viciously lashing out.”

Earlier today Mrs May issued a sharp rebuke to Mr Trump over his re-tweeting of anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right group Britain First.

Speaking in Jordan the Prime Minister said none of her cabinet ministers would ever repeat messages posted by Britain First, just days after the President did.

Mrs May denounced the group as a “hateful organisation” which “seeks to spread mistrust and division within our communities”.

Read the rest:


‘MADMAN’: NY Daily News Throws Gauntlet in Editorial Attacking Trump as ‘Mentally Unwell’



In the wake of yet another unhinged, conspiracy-mongering, morning tweetstorm from the president, the New York Daily News‘ editorial board published a piece claiming President Donald Trump is suffering from a form of poor mental health-induced “mania.”

While the paper is known to be New York City’s more liberal publication, seriously questioning Trump’s mental capacity and referring to him as a “madman” — in the literal sense of the term — is still striking.

The editorial board wrote the following in their op-ed today:

“After his latest spasm of deranged tweets, only those completely under his spell can deny what growing numbers of Americans have long suspected: The President of the United States is profoundly unstable. He is mad. He is, by any honest layman’s definition, mentally unwell and viciously lashing out… The sheer strangeness of Trump’s behavior leads us to conclude that we are witnessing signs of mania.”

The paper went onto state Trump “is not well” and his fitness for office is only getting worse. “Before our eyes, the President is spinning in a Tasmanian devil’s rage about American news networks,” they wrote.

Other news outlets and commentators have come out to question the president’s mental fitness this week, in light of his increasingly erratic behavior. Maggie Haberman said on CNN today that he seems to be coming “unmoored,” while Chris Cillizza asked if Trump was “losing control.”

Discussion regarding Trump’s mental health has become more prevalent as many question if invoking Section Four of the 25th Amendment could be justified in removing him from office. This part of the Constitution states presidents can be relived of their powers and duties if they are deemed unfit to serve and voted out by their cabinet members.

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New York Daily News

Donald Trump is a madman: The President’s Wednesday Twitter spasm confirms what many Americans have long suspected

After his latest spasm of deranged tweets, only those completely under his spell can deny what growing numbers of Americans have long suspected: The President of the United States is profoundly unstable. He is mad. He is, by any honest layman’s definition, mentally unwell and viciously lashing out.Some might say we are just suffering through the umpteenth canny, calculated presidential eruption designed to distract the nation from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, or perhaps from unpopular legislation working its way through Congress.

Quite possible. But Occam’s razor, and the sheer strangeness of Trump’s behavior, leads us to conclude that we are witnessing signs of mania.

Early Wednesday morning, Donald Trump or whomever was manning his Twitter account retweeted, seemingly at random, three videos of supposed violence against Christians by Muslims.

Trump tweets ‘fake news’ anti-Muslim video from far-right leader

At least one of those was long ago debunked. The words of the tweet spread to Trump’s 43.6 million followers referred to a violent young man pictured in a video as a “Muslim migrant.” The perpetrator appears to have been neither a Muslim nor a migrant.

Trump is broadcasting discredited hate videos even as he now tells multiple people in his inner circle that the real, verified “Access Hollywood” video in which he boasted of grabbing women “by the p—y” — words for which he has already publicly apologized — was falsified.

By engaging in the little Islamophobia-fest, Trump amplified the handiwork of a leader of Britain First, a fringe, far-right political movement that is the rough equivalent of America’s white nationalist alt-right.

Trump wasn’t done. Just before 7 a.m., he urged the nation to “boycott Fake News CNN” — the nation’s most powerful person targeting a media company that happens to be locked in a legal fight with his own Justice Department over a merger.

GOP senators advance Trump’s picks for top environmental posts

Then, upon learning of the firing of NBC’s Matt Lauer for workplace sexual harassment, came the real unraveling.

“When will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!” he tweeted, aiming unhinged ire at the network’s news boss.

This is a day after North Korea fired what was, by all accounts, an ICBM. During a week when Congress is in the throes of delicate negotiations on taxes and the budget.

And before our eyes, the President is spinning in a Tasmanian devil’s rage about American news networks.

Trump speaks with China, vows ‘major sanctions’ on North Korea

There was more.

“When will the Fake News practitioners at NBC be terminating the contract of Phil Griffin?” Trump then tweeted — demanding the firing of a private citizen who happens to run MSNBC, a news channel he hates.

“And will they terminate low ratings Joe Scarborough based on the ‘unsolved mystery’ that took place in Florida years ago? Investigate!”

Stop. Read it again. Google it if you must.

President Trump revives birther claims against Obama

President Donald Trump thanked members of the US military via video teleconference on Thanksgiving day on Nov. 23, 2017, from his residence in Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Soldiers listened in from Afghanistan, Iraq, on the USS Monterey, and in Turkey and Bahrain. The president is spending the Thanksgiving holidays in his Florida private residence until November 26.

It is a terrible shame that we have to address the substance of this base smear, but these are the indignities forced upon all of us in the age of Donald Trump.

Lori Klausutis, 28, was found dead behind a desk. An autopsy was conducted: She had been feeling unwell; she had heart problems that caused her to fall and hit her head. That is what the medical examiner concluded, finding no signs of foul play.

There is no evidence connecting Scarborough, who barely knew Klausutis, to her death. None. Zero. Zip.

Macron mum on Obama meal plans to avoid angering Trump: report

Just like there is no credible evidence connecting Donald Trump to the alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1996, a crime of which he was accused in a since-dropped civil lawsuit that has never held up to scrutiny.

One might think a man falsely accused of such a serious crime, who pledged to “open up” libel laws to make it easier for public figures like him and Scarborough to sue people who spread lies about them, would think twice before hurling such an incendiary false charge at someone else.

To think that is to assume that Donald Trump is well. He is not well.

Germany to cut diplomatic mission in North Korea

November 30, 2017


© AFP | Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, meeting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department, confirms that Berlin is reducing its diplomatic footprint in North Korea

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Germany will reduce its diplomatic mission in Pyongyang and require North Korea to reduce its presence in Berlin, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Thursday after meeting his US counterpart.US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson welcomed Gabriel to the State Department as Washington is turning up the pressure on its allies to do more to isolate Kim Jong-Un’s defiant nuclear-armed regime.

“We have already reduced our embassy staff in North Korea and will do so once more,” Gabriel told reporters afterwards, adding that two diplomats have been withdrawn and one more will follow.

More Germans may leave the embassy, but this will be carried out in consultation with Germany’s European allies, some of whom also have missions in the North.

“We have also told the North Koreans that they will have to reduce their embassy staff,” he said, adding: “We are thus increasing the diplomatic pressure.”

The Tillerson-Gabriel meeting came after President Donald Trump complained that China has failed to persuade Kim to halt his nuclear and ballistic missile program and as Washington calls for a fuel embargo.


Top U.N. human rights official condemns “populists” who spreads “hatred through tweets.”

November 30, 2017

GENEVA, Nov 30 (Reuters) – In a thinly veiled reference to U.S. President Donald Trump, the top U.N. human rights official on Thursday condemned “populists” who spread “hatred through tweets.”

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Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, made the remarks Thursday.

Britain criticized Trump on Wednesday after he retweeted anti-Islam videos originally posted by a leader of a far-right British fringe party who was convicted this month of abusing a Muslim woman.

“There are the populists — political hooligans who through their incitement — which is the equivalent of hurling racist insults, throwing bottles onto the field, attacking the referee and, as we saw yesterday, spreading hatred through tweets — seek to scramble our order, our laws,” Zeid said in a speech in Geneva on Thursday.

A U.N. official, who declined to be identified, said that Zeid’s remarks were “clearly a reference to Trump tweets but also others using social media in this way.”

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Alison Williams)




 (The Wall Street Journal)

Nancy Pelosi calls for Rep. John Conyers’ resignation amid sexual misconduct allegations

November 30, 2017

Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi says Michigan Rep. John Conyers, facing sexual misconduct allegations, should resign from Congress. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan echoed that call. (Nov. 30) AP

WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Thursday for the resignation of Rep. John Conyers, calling the misconduct allegations against him “serious, disappointing, and very credible.”

Pelosi’s comments on Thursday followed additional accusations of sexual harassment against Conyers, D-Mich., the longest serving member of Congress.

“The brave women who came forward are owed justice,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said in response to a reporter’s question during her weekly news conference. “I pray for Congressman Conyers and his family and wish them well. However, Congressman Conyers should resign.”

Pelosi highlighted Conyers’ achievements in Congress, shaping consequential legislation over more than five decades.

“Zero tolerance means consequences for everyone,” she said. “No matter how great the legacy, it’s no license to harass or discriminate. In fact it makes it even more disappointing.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also called for Conyer’s resignation on Thursday.

“Yes, I think he should resign. He should resign immediately,” he said at his weekly news conference.

The congressman returned from Washington, D.C., to Detroit earlier this week, amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

The announcement came shortly after a former staff member of Conyers appeared on the Today Show and accused him of “violating my body” among a number of sexual misconduct claims.
Contributing: Michael Collins, USA TODAY, and Robert Allen and Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press.