Showing posts with label Foreign Policy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Foreign Policy. Show all posts

June 15, 2017

Only Days After Trump Accused Qatar of Funding Terrorism It Sells Them $12B in F-15

Qatar said Wednesday it has signed a $12 billion deal to buy F-15 fighter jets from the United States — just days after President Donald Trump accused the country of being a "high-level" sponsor of terrorism. 
The announcement came after the country's defense minister met with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in Washington.  
News of the sale comes amid a diplomatic crisis. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar last week and accused it of supporting terrorism and regional unrest
Despite these allegations, Qatar is a crucial ally to Washington in the Middle East. It is home to 10,000 American troops and a major American military base that acts as the center of U.S. operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. 
The sale appeared to be another example of the confusing series of mixed messages sent by the Trump administration, in which the White House speaks in an entirely different voice from the military and diplomatic wing of the U.S. government. 
 FROM JUNE 9: Trump: "Nations Have Called on Me to Confront Qatar's Terror Ties." Was Trump lying or He just doesn't know what He was talking about? He also said He convinced Saudi Arabia to Bring sanctions to Qatar but we have one of the largest Naval/Airbases stationed right there. Why would we be bitting against an alli? Ater the Philippines ask the US to leave Qatar took its place and there is no replacement for the strategic role that our bases there serves.
Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have urged a conciliatory approach to the Gulf standoff, but Trump's comments last week broke with this tone. 
The president called Qatar a "funder of terrorism at a very high level," telling a press conference in the White House Rose Garden that the country had to "do more" to combat terror. 
"The time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding" of extremist ideology, he said. "Stop teaching people to kill other people, stop filling their heads with hate." 
Image: Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani and President Donald Trump in Riyadh
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani meets with President Donald Trump in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 21. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters, file
However, Trump also met with Qatar's ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, during his visit to Saudi Arabia last month. 
"We are friends, we've been friends now for a long time, haven't we?" Trump asked at that meeting. "Our relationship is extremely good." 
After signing the deal Wednesday, Qatar emphasized the country's alliance. 
Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah said its purchase of American F-15s "underscores the longstanding commitment of the state of Qatar in jointly working with our friends and allies in the United States." 
Image: U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jet
A U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jet. Bob Strong / Reuters, file
Al-Attiyah said the deal would ensure "closer strategic collaboration in our fight to counter violent extremism and promote peace and stability in our region and beyond." 
The Pentagon told Reuters in an email that the sale will increase security cooperation and military compatibility between the U.S. and Qatar. 
The U.S. military announced a similar $21.1 billion deal in November, in the waning days of the Obama administration, for 72 F-15QA fighter jets for Qatar, the Associated Press reported. However, the AP said it wasn't immediately clear whether the two deals were one and the same

November 26, 2016

Teeth and Throat Rudy Uses Clinton Name as Badge to get S.State Cab.Post

The struggle for the position of the US secretary of state intensified on Friday with forceful lobbying from one candidate and reported calls from the Trump presidential team for the other to apologise publicly for campaign slights in return for the job. 

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and Trump loyalist, has been aggressively pushing his case in the media, boasting of his foreign experience. His apparent main rival for the job, the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who spoke derisively of Donald Trump during the primaries, has been trying to keep a low profile but has found himself baited by leaks from the transition teams.

The secretary of state contest has become the most visceral expression of a battle inside Trump’s circle between those calling on him to reward loyalty during the campaign and deliver on his pledges, and others urging the president-elect to use appointments to build a broader consensus and heal the divide in the Republican party.

The Trump transition has already overturned the normal practice of choosing top cabinet members behind closed doors, turning it into a spectacle with contenders boarding a golden elevator in Trump headquarters in New York in front of the cameras on their way to making their pitch to the president-elect.

However, Giuliani’s open campaign in the press and public interventions by Trump aides have set new precedents in the selection process. Giuliani has fought openly to combat perceptions of inexperience, not having held an official post since leaving office as New York mayor in 2001.

“I probably have travelled in the last 13 years as much as Hillary did in the years she was secretary of state,” Giuliani said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Friday. “My knowledge of foreign policy is as good, or better, than anybody they’re talking to.”

“I’ve been to England eight times, Japan six times, France five times. China three times – once with Bill Clinton, by the way,” he added.

It is the purpose for much of that travel that it has been under the closest scrutiny in the past few days. He earned a living as a public speaker and consultant for a large number of foreign governments, corporations and organisations. Most controversially, he was paid tens of thousands of pounds to speak out forcefully in favour of an Iranian rebel group, the Mujahedin e-Khalq (MEK), which was listed as a terrorist organisation by the state department from 1997 to 2012 and is widely considered to operate like a cult because of its control over the lives of its members.
 Some Trump advisers say Mitt Romney should be out of contention for the job after his comments on Donald Trump during the campaign. Photograph: Press via Rex/Shutterstock
Romney is a more conventional candidate, backed by much of the Republican establishment in Congress, but over the course of the campaign he derided the eventual winner. “Dishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark,” he said in a speech in March. “Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities. The bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics.”

Some Trump advisers argue such remarks put Romney beyond the pale. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, tweeted that she was receiving “a deluge” of comments expressing concern over Romney’s loyalty as a secretary of state. Fox News cited a senior Trump aide as suggesting that Romney make a public apology for his campaign remarks.

March 14, 2016

US foreign Aide Allocation-How much do they Get


Just over half the public think the U.S. gives too much away in foreign aid, and Democrats and Republicans disagree over who should receive aid

In absolute terms the United States has the world's largest development aid budget of over $31 billion in 2013. Relative to the size of America's economy, however, the United States is actually one of the least generous wealthy countries, with an aid budget almost three-quarters smaller than the UK's. Like most wealthy countries the United States aspires to give 0.7% of national income in aid each year, a goal that will come closer as John Kerry seeks to win congressional approval for a $50 billion foreign aid budget.
Research from YouGov indicates, however, that Americans either aren't aware or aren't convinced that, relatively speaking, America's foreign aid contribution is smaller than in many other countries. Most Americans (52%) say that the U.S. gives more in foreign aid than other countries relative to the size of the American economy, while only 11% say that the U.S. gives less. Almost exactly the same percentage (51%) believe that the U.S. gives too much in foreign aid, while only 9% think that the U.S. should give more to developing countries. 
Republicans (68%) are more likely than other to think the U.S. gives to much in aid, but even Democrats (42%) tend to agree that Uncle Sam is too generous internationally. 
Democrats and Republicans do differ quite significantly, however, on what the focus of American foreign aid should be. Half of Democrats (49%) say that foreign aid should be focused on the world’s poorest countries, while most Republicans (59%) believe that American aid should be used to reward countries which support American foreign policy.

August 18, 2015

Trumps Reveals His Foreign Policy advisor (TV) and How He feels about the Ukraine(not Much)

I try not to post much from Trump because what he says is never important. It can be funny, off cuffs, sarcastic, silly and nasty but never important. In foreign policy is something that most citizens should know something about and lots of Americans do. Likewise we expect politicians running for the top office to know more than the basics and if they don’t know it is ok to have an exGeneral or Secretary of Defense to be advising him or her and is ok for them to say so. I was wondering if Trump had someone, after all he could buy someones’ opinion if push came to shoved. Well he finally revealed last week who his advisor is: Television. He says he watches TV and the News. Im sure he watches the news not to learn about the Ukraine and where is Russia going with its build up of weaponry. It turns out he watches the new to see himself talk. 
Again coming back to the Ukraine since this is the first country Russia has clearly and openly annexed since it became Russia and not USSR (Union of Soviet Socialists Republics[haha]). So on sunday he opened up his knowledge and opinion about the Ukraine:

U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, the brash businessman who has upended the field of Republicans vying for their party’s 2016 nomination, has responded with blunt indifference to Ukraine’s possible membership in NATO.

“I wouldn’t care. If [Ukraine] goes in, great. If it doesn’t go in, great,” Trump said in an interview with NBC on August 16.

In the wide-ranging interview, Trump spoke briefly about Ukraine, which has been locked in a 16-month-long war with Russian-backed separatists that erupted after the Kremlin annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014.

NATO’s eastward expansion has long incensed Moscow, as have pronouncements by Ukraine’s pro-Western leaders and NATO officials about Kyiv’s possible membership in the military alliance.

In his interview, Trump also said that Europe should bear the brunt of the responsibility for standing up to Russia in the Ukraine conflict.

“I don’t like what’s happening with Ukraine. But that’s really a problem that affects Europe a lot more than it affects us. And they should be leading some of this charge,” he said.

The United States and the EU have spearheaded international efforts to punish Russia with sanctions over its Crimea land grab and the war in eastern Ukraine, where some 6,400 people have been killed since the violence erupted between Kyiv’s forces and the rebels in April 2014.

Trump accused Germany -- whose chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been a stinging critic of Russia in the conflict -- of “sitting back” and “accepting all the oil and gas that they can get from Russia” while the United States is “leading Ukraine.”

The EU gets about 30 percent of its natural gas from Russia, which increased its gas supplies to Germany by nearly 50 percent in the second quarter of this year, Bloomberg reported on August 14.

“Why are we leading the charge in Ukraine?” Trump said.

Trump, a real-estate developer and reality TV personality who has never run for public office before, is leading polls nationwide amid a Republican field of candidates that includes former and incumbent governors and senators.

He is nonetheless widely seen as a longshot to win the Republican nomination due to his outspoken statements about women and Mexican immigrants, which some believe may render him unelectable.

In an August 14 campaign event, Trump said U.S.-Russian ties have become “pretty well-destroyed” under President Barack Obama and that if elected, he “would have a great relationship with Russia and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.”

Asked whether he would roll back sanctions against Russia, Trump said: “It depends, depends. They have to behave also.”

By RFE/RL and Adam Gonzalez

February 4, 2015

Obama is asked to Bumped off Gay Hating,Vermin Calling Brunei from T-Pacific Talks

 — In December, President Barack Obama ended trade benefits with Gambia after Africa’s smallest country approved a law that called for life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality” and its autocratic ruler referred to gays as “vermin’s.”
It’s a different story in Brunei, a tiny, oil-rich Asian country that imposed a law last year requiring death by stoning for people who engaged in same-sex acts. If Obama gets his way, Brunei will become one of 11 nations to join the United States in signing the  Trans-Pacific Partnership, which if passed would create the largest trade pact in history.
Gay rights groups and their allies want Brunei thrown out of the talks.
“A country that has laws that are anathema to American values doesn’t deserve to be in our trade negotiations,”  California Democratic Rep. John Garamendi said in an interview. “We need to send a clear message.” 
Little Brunei: Population: 406,000.
Language: Malay (official), English (widely spoken).
Religion: Islam.
Government: Absolute monarchy. The head of state is Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the 29th monarch. He’s also the prime minister and heads a team of Cabinet ministers.
Location: On the northwest coast of the island of Borneo, in the heart of Asia.
Source: The Embassy of Brunei Darussalam to the United States of America                                                                         _*_

Read more here:

With more than 100 members of Congress calling for the United States to get tough on Brunei, the issue poses yet another obstacle for Obama and his team as they try to wrap up work in the coming months on the long-stalled trade pact.
Obama’s top trade official,  U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman, confronted the issue last week when he went to Capitol Hill to ask Congress to pass trade-promotion authority that would force an up-or-down vote on the pact, with no amendments or filibusters allowed.
Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin told Froman that it’s appropriate for the executive branch and Congress to mix trade and human rights.
“Let me just remind you that it was U.S. leadership in trade that helped change the apartheid government of South Africa,” Cardin said.
For trade backers, it’s an old debate, and a hard one.
“This is always difficult territory for trade people, none of whom want to be accused of being opposed to human rights,” said Bill Reinsch, president of the  National Foreign Trade Council, a pro-trade group.
He said the best way to get Brunei officials to change their law was to engage with them and integrate the country into the Western trading system, not to isolate them.
“Our experience has been that sticks don’t work very well, while carrots sometimes succeed,” Reinsch said. “Kicking them out of TPP might make us feel better, but it will diminish the trade agreement and also not achieve the objective of changing their anti-gay policy. In other words, it’s lose-lose.”
Congress has a long history of pressing human rights issue in trade debates.
Angered by abuses in China, an unlikely pair of senators – conservative Jesse Helms of North Carolina and liberal Paul Wellstone of Minnesota – teamed up unsuccessfully in 2000 to try to kill President Bill Clinton’s plan to normalize trade ties with China. As part of a Russian trade bill that passed in 2012, Cardin got Congress to attach a provision that required the State Department to maintain a list of human rights abusers in Russia and deny them entry to the United States.
Gay-rights groups cheered Obama’s move against Gambia, announced Dec. 23. While the president made no specific reference to Gambia’s anti-gay policy, administration officials said the action was taken because of a concern over human rights abuses.
Obama acted after the  Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights group, gathered 18,000 signatures on a petition asking him to take action against Gambian President Yahya Jammeh by freezing his assets and not allowing him to enter the U.S.
In a speech last year, Jammeh said: “We will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively.”
Jerame Davis, executive director of Pride at Work – a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender labor organization affiliated with the  AFL-CIO labor union – said Obama had “set a clear precedent” for using trade to advance gay rights in Gambia and should do the same in Brunei.
“Brunei’s law is actually worse because it imposes the death penalty, whereas Gambia ONLY imposes life in prison – as if that’s an ONLY,” he said. “And let’s be clear: Brunei enacted this law while they were in TPP negotiations.”
Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah sparked outrage last year when he announced the law, which took effect in April. It calls for flogging and the severing of limbs for property crimes, and death by stoning for sodomy, adultery, rape and sex outside of marriage. 
It prompted an immediate rebuke from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the office, said stoning constituted torture and was cruel and degrading punishment that was clearly banned under international law.
The issue quickly exploded in California, when stars such as Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres joined protests over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and urged boycotting a Beverly Hills hotel owned by the government of Brunei.
The  Brunei Embassy in Washington, D.C., referred questions to Baldeep Singh Bhullar, an embassy officer who handles issues related to the trade pact. He could not be reached for comment.
When Froman appeared before the Senate Finance Committee last week, he said U.S. negotiators were pressing the issue with Brunei as part of talks on the pact and had been working closely on the matter with State Department officials.
He said he felt good about the progress, adding that the trade talks with Brunei gave the United States an opportunity to “ensure that what they do is consistent with their international human rights obligations.”
Such assurances didn’t go far enough for Davis, who said it was a “little odd” that the Obama administration had acted decisively with Gambia but not with Brunei.
“I’m not sure that a stern talking-to is going to really change their minds,” he said.
Davis said Congress should drop Brunei from the trade agreement if Obama wouldn’t. But he said that would be impossible if Congress first passed trade-promotion authority, which would prohibit any changes before a vote.
Obama met with the Sultan of Brunei at the White House in 2013, calling him “my good friend” and praising him as a key leader in Southeast Asia who’s “widely respected around the world.”
“His Majesty himself has led his country for 40 years now and he’s gone through nine U.S. presidents,” Obama said. “I won’t ask him which one was his favorite, but our interest in having a strong, peaceful, prosperous Asia Pacific region is something that we share.”
With Obama making the Trans-Pacific Partnership one of his top economic priorities, Garamendi said it was hardly surprising that the administration had refused to budge on Brunei.
“The administration is determined to put through the TPP at any cost,” he said.
McClatchy Washington Bureau 

Read more here:

April 8, 2014

Turkey Chem Attacked Syria and The President Was Not Told

Turkish Prime Minister, a thug

Who were the culprits for the chemical weapons attack in Syria on September 2013?

What was really going on in Benghazi when Libyan terrorists killed Ambassador Stevens and others? 

Why is the United States covering up and collaborating with a moral leper, 

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan?
Hersh's latest article is a follow up to Whose Sarin, December 13, 2013, also published by theLondon Review of Books.   In December, Hersh went behind the scenes to debunk the claims by the Obama administration that it had a slam-dunk case against the Syrian government for the August 2013 chemical weapons attack on civilians near Damascus, Syria. Despite the best efforts to keep the story out of the news and the spirited response of neoconservative and Obama trolls, the story was well read in the United States thanks to the Internet.

Subsequent research, using White House information and the United Nations report,demonstrated that the attack could not have come from territory controlled by the Syrian government. This is independent support and verification for Hersh's claim in Whose Sarin?
Hersh takes us further down the path of truth about who was responsible for the chemical weapons attack in Syria
Whose sarin? The government of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan made it happen
Hersh points out that the United States military and intelligence community was concerned about the role of Turkey in supporting the Al Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda militia fighting the Syrian government. Specifically, intelligence officials were concerned about a false-flag brewing within the Turkish intelligence agency, MIT. A Hersh source revealed:
'We knew there were some in the Turkish government,' a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, 'who believed they could get Assad's nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria -- and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.' The Red Line and the Rat Line, Seymour Hersh, LRB, Apr 6
Intelligence sources also knew that: Turkish and Saudi agents were seeking sarin gas precursors; Al Nusra has a chemical weapons potential and program; "there was evidence linking the Syrian opposition to the first gas attack, on 19 March" near Aleppo; and that local Turkish authorities caught Syrian rebels with sarin gas precursors attempting to cross into Syria from Turkey. Hersh, Apr 6
Hersh's sources claim that Denis McDonough, Obama chief of staff, made sure that President Obama was unaware of intelligence implicating Turkey in chemical weapons production and use by Syrian rebels, according to Hersh's sources. Hersh, Apr 6
Ironically, after the Obama administration and the rest of the attack Syria cabal blamed Syria for the chemical weapons attack and as the U.S. readied a devastating attack, British intelligence sent a warning:
[British Intelligence had "obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn't match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army's chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn't hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff." Hersh, Apr 6
Ambassador Christopher Steven and three others were murdered in September 2011 at what was described as a U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. A Senate Intelligence Committee report criticized security measures but failed to tell citizens information absolutely critical to understanding the incident. That information was contained in an annex to the report, viewed by just a few officials. According to Hersh's source:
"'The consulate's only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,' [from Libya to Syrian rebels] the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. 'It had no real political role.'" Hersh, Apr 6
The Benghazi report annex revealed that the Libya to Syrian rebel weapons transfer was part of a more complex ratline that provided weapons to Syrian rebels. A secret agreement between the U.S., UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar was reached in early 2012. Through a series of front companies, the CIA and MI6, British intelligence, transferred weapons once supplied to bring democracy to Libya to Syria. Disgraced General David Petraeus directed the operation.
Al Nusra, heavily backed by Turkey, had close ties to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group; the Al Qaeda aligned jihadists who helped topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi.
Hersh’s investigation uncovers the “ ighly classified" report detailing the function of the so-called consulate, information that is vital to understanding who was behind the attack and their motivation.

A forced alliance with a moral leper, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan

Turkey is ruled by one of the most corrupt, unscrupulous, and morally repellant figures in recent history. Along with key allies and family members, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been caught on published wiretaps engaging in a variety of criminal activities. The list is longand includes bid rigging, direct interference in court cases, firing hundreds of prosecutors and detectives who have uncovered his corruption, and staging a missile attack on his own countryas an excuse to attack Syria.
Erdogan is also participated in the scandalous custom of child brides in Turkey when he went to court in 2003 to allow his son to marry a minor.
The man is a degenerate and a tyrant. He's also a strong supporter of the U.S. - NATO attack on Syria and the head of a major NATO country. The "rat line" that supplies the extremist Syrian rebels could not function without Turkish participation.
As Hersh's sources tell it, the Obama administration is upset with Turkey's affinity for the most extreme elements of the Syrian rebels, those aligned with Al Qaeda. A Hersh source describes a tense White House meeting between Obama and Erdogan. Obama confronted the Turkish intelligence chief and said:
When Erdogan tried to draw [Turkish intel chief] Fidan into the conversation, and Fidan began speaking, Obama cut him off and said:
'We know.' Erdogan tried to bring Fidan in a second time, and Obama again cut him off and said: 'We know.' At that point, an exasperated Erdogan said, 'But your red line has been crossed!' and, the expert told me, 'Donilon said Erdogan "f"ing waved his finger at the president inside the White House".' Obama then pointed at Fidan and said: 'We know what you're doing with the radicals in Syria.' Hersh, Apr 6
According to Hersh's sources, the administration is unable to out the Turkish government for its robust support of Al Qaeda and other extremists in Syria:
'I asked my colleagues if there was any way to stop Erdogan's continued support for the rebels, especially now that it's going so wrong,' the former intelligence official told me. 'The answer was: "We're screwed." We could go public if it was somebody other than Erdogan, but Turkey is a special case. They're a Nato ally. Hersh, Apr 6
Implications and questions raised by Hersh's latest
Seymour Hersh deserves great credit for pursuing his investigation into the scandals of U.S. foreign policy. After reading the two articles on Syria, one must agree that the machinations of the Obama administration are no different from those of the Bush administration.
Some questions and implications come to mind immediately after reading the Hersh article.
Was Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi to assure that surface to air missiles were not transferred to Syria as part of the rat line to rebels?
Hersh doesn't come right out and say this but one can infer that was the case. He points out that the Benghazi consulate was not really a consulate. It was a transfer point for sending weapons from Libyan rebels to Syrian's of the same ilk (i.e., extremist jihadists). Hersh talks about the Obama administration's desire to keep certain weapons from the Syrian rebels. He went into some detail about manpads, devastating weapons used to bring down aircraft, as he wrote about Benghazi.
If Ambassador Steven's was in Benghazi to make sure that manpads were not shipped to Syrian rebels, was the attack on the facility a means of diverting attention to allow the manpads to reach extremist rebels?
We know that local Libyan militias provided consulate security and that their security was sorely wanting. We also know that there was a close relationship between Libyan rebels and the extremist Al Nusra rebels in Syria. Could the Libyan extremists stage an event to help their brothers in arms in Syria?
If the Libyan militia security force staged the attack as a diversion to get man pads to Syrian rebels, could it be that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and others in favor of maximum armaments were behind the attack on the consulate?
Erdogan and the neoconservatives in the U.S., UK, and France have been adamant on supplying the best weapons possible to take down the Al Assad led Syrian government. Erdogan's foreign minister was taped developing a plot to attack his own country with missiles to justify a military incursion into Syria just days ago. Erdogan's government is a documented criminal enterprise. Such a plan would be right up his alley.
Hersh's article is an exemplary piece of investigative journalism. His continued efforts will answer these questions and raise many more. Even if he didn’t write another word on Obama administration foreign policy, his work in the two articles on Syria represent a major contribution and an example that the mainstream media should emulate.

February 28, 2014

US Putting Over 80 Anti Gay Countries on Notice!


The United States is putting nearly 80 countries on notice: If you take away the rights of members of the LGBT community, there are consequences.

In announcing the State Department's annual report on human rights, Secretary of State John Kerry highlighted the persecution of same-sex persons around the world, especially in light of a bill signed by Uganda's president that criminalizes homosexuality.

"These laws contribute to a global trend of growing violence," Kerry said Thursday. "They are a front to every reasonable conscience."

Kerry further called for a world "where professing one's love does not lead to persecution."

Violations against same-sex rights have been a priority for the U.S. in recent years, which particularly came into focus in the run-up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Russian law "effectively criminalizes public expression and assembly for anyone who would advocate LGBT equality," the State Department report says. The report also goes after other nations for criminalizing same-sex sexual activity in African nations such as Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon, and Zambia.

Kerry detailed these violations, along with others seen around world, especially in nations that are superpowers. It's hard for the United States to ignore its strategic relationships with countries such as China and Russia, as both are key players on economic and diplomatic issues. But they are also two of the worst violators of human rights.

China is criticized for its tight control of the Internet and for breaking up protests that criticize government corruption. Russia, for its part, is criticized for going after government opposition, while also violating the rights of religious and ethnic minorities, and the LGBT community.

This report, required by law, is often used by Congress to make its decisions on whether to pass sanctions or provide aid to other nations. Kerry conceded that there's even an "ongoing struggle" here in the United States, listing LGBT rights and equal treatment of women.

"We don't speak with arrogance but concern for the human condition," he said.

What should be concerning for the U.S. is that several nations the Obama administration has expressed faith in continue to violate human rights, including the new nation of South Sudan and an increasingly unstable Egypt, which the State Department notes has used "excessive force" to quell antigovernment protests.

Kerry also mentioned Ukraine; even before it was in the news for cracking down on pro-European Union protests, the Ukrainian government was increasing its pressure on civil society, journalists, and protesters, he said.

Obviously, the report cited the usual suspects, including the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government and the continued oppression by the governments of North Korea, Cuba, and Iran. The State Department calls these violations "deplorable" and does not detail any progress in these places. On Iran, officials say there has been “ ittle meaningful improvement in human rights from the Iranian government" since President Hassan Rouhani took office.

December 14, 2013

Latest on What’s Happening on Policy Between the US and Cuba

Photo: Ania Krupotow
Photo: Ania Krupotow
HAVANA – On Nov. 8, President Barack Obama declared in Miami that it was necessary to “update” US policy toward Cuba.
Heads turned everywhere.
From my point of view, the purpose of Obama’s visit to Miami was exactly as advertised: to collect money and promote the Democratic Party campaign for the mid-term elections next year.
What’s relevant is that the place chosen for that statement was the home of the chairman of the Cuban-American National Foundation, and that the topic selected to attract the Cuban-American electorate was the need to transform US policy toward the island.
How times change! many might say.
Three days later, Secretary of State John Kerry expressed himself with the same language when addressing representatives to the Organization of the American States. In truth, he said nothing new, but the rhetoric itself indicates that the United States no longer finds it viable to maintain a policy that isolates Cuba from the continental concert and at the very least must offer hopes of the change demanded by the Latin American countries.
This, especially, as we look toward the 2015 Summit of the Americas, which many leaders said they wouldn’t attend if Cuba was excluded.
Then another Cuba-related event caught the attention of the media. On Nov. 26, the Cuban Interests Section in Washington announced the need to cancel its consular operations because no American bank — or foreign bank accredited in the US — was willing to handle its current accounts.
The reason given by those institutions is that the restrictions, controls and possible sanctions imposed by the U.S. blockade against Cuba make that activity much too complicated and dangerous.
Evidently, that problem is not in the interest of the US government, not only because it questions the administration’s ability to honor its international commitments in terms of diplomatic representation but also because its consequences can affect travel and contacts with Cuba, which, as we have seen, is the basis of this administration’s work with the Cuban-American electorate.
In an unusual decision, the US State Department on Dec. 3 authorized Cuba’s participation in the Caribbean Baseball Series.
Apparently, this event has nothing to do with the US government, given that American teams don’t participate in it, but the leaders of Major League Baseball worried about violating the blockade if athletes they had hired participated in it, so they ordered the tournament’s organizers to request the license.
Photo: Ania Krupotow
Photo: Ania Krupotow
It is no coincidence that it was the Department of State, not the Treasury, that issued the approval. The topic of a baseball tournament had become an international problem that forced the United States to intervene.
On the same day, it was reported that Alan Gross, a US subcontractor detained in Cuba, had written to President Obama complaining that the US government had abandoned him, even though (he claimed) he was carrying out missions for the US on this and previous occasions.
Sixty-six senators wrote to the President, asking him to do everything possible to achieve Gross’ release and assured Obama that they would support him in the effort. Meanwhile, Kerry said in Brussels that “something” was being done but that he couldn’t give any details.
The Cuban government, for its part, called again on the United States to negotiate a solution for this case, taking into account the humanitarian complaints of the four Cubans held for more than 15 years in US prisons, something the US government has so far refused to do.
The common factor in these news items is the demonstration that US policy toward Cuba has become a trap for the US itself, to the degree that it prevents the government from acting with the flexibility demanded by the political action, at both the international and domestic levels.
Even the Cuban-American far right disclaims the straitjackets it once helped to create. The Republicans would like to blow up the Cuban Adjustment Act, because it has become a factory of opposition to their line. The Cuban-American National Foundation, to a great degree the inventor of the Helms-Burton Act, now sides with the President in his call for a more “creative” policy.
No other US president has been in a better position than Obama to take steps to modify US policy toward Cuba, not so much because the American vision has changed (“the objectives are the same,” the President said in Mas Santos’ home) but because the actual conditions of U.S. politics so demand it.
What’s missing is the will to do what common sense dictates — although someone said that common sense is the least common of all senses.
Jesús Arboleya (Progreso Weekly)

October 28, 2013

German Newspaper Claims Pres. Obama Was Told About Tapping Chancellor in 2010

Obama 'approved tapping Merkel's phone 3 years ago'
Mr Obama was told of the secret monitoring of Mrs Merkel by General Keith Alexander,
 the head of the NSA, in 2010, according to Bild am Sonntag, a German newspaper. 
 Photo: AFP/GETTY  

President Barack Obama was dragged into the trans-Atlantic spying row after it was claimed he personally authorized the monitoring of Angela Merkel’s phone three years ago allegedly. allowed US intelligence to listen to calls from theGerman Chancellor’s mobile phone after he was briefed on the operation by Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency (NSA), in 2010.
The latest claim, reported in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, followed reports in Der Spiegel that the surveillance of Mrs Merkel’s phone began as long ago as 2002, when she was still the opposition leader, three years before being elected Chancellor. That monitoring only ended in the weeks before Mr Obama visited Berlin in June this year, the magazine added.
Citing leaked US intelligence documents, it also reported that America conducted eavesdropping operations on the German government from a listening post at its embassy beside the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, one of more than 80 such centres worldwide.
Mr Obama’s European allies will now ask him to say what he personally knew about the NSA’s global eavesdropping operation and its targeting of world leaders, including those from friendly states. The White House declined to comment on the German media reports. 
Last week, however, Mr Obama assured Mrs Merkel that her phone is not being monitored now – and will not be in future. But the US has pointedly declined to discuss the NSA’s actions in the past.
Its surveillance operations raises questions about whether US officials breached domestic laws. Hans-Peter Friedrich, the German interior minister, said: “If the Americans intercepted cellphones in Germany, they broke German law on German soil”. He noted that wiretapping was a crime in Germany and “those responsible must be held accountable”.
Even before the latest reports, German intelligence chiefs were preparing to travel to Washington this week to demand answers from the NSA about the alleged surveillance of Mrs Merkel.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, received a dose of European fury this weekend when he visited Paris and Rome. The trip was arranged to discuss the Middle East peace process, the Syrian civil war and Iran’s nuclear programme. Instead, he was confronted by outrage over the scale of US surveillance operations.
“The magnitude of the eavesdropping is what shocked us,” said Bernard Kouchner, a former French foreign minister, in a radio interview. “Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop too. Everyone is listening to everyone else. But we don’t have the same means as the United States, which makes us jealous.”
According to the leaked documents in Spiegel, NSA officials acknowledged that any disclosure of the existence of the foreign listening posts would lead to “grave damage” for US relations with other governments.
Such posts exist in 19 European cities, including Paris, Madrid, Rome and Frankfurt, according to the magazine, which has based its reports on documents provided by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor.
Mr Obama did not comment, but Republican supporters of the US intelligence community began a fightback on the political talk-shows.
Mike Rogers, the chairman of the intelligence committee in the House of Representatives, said that America’s allies should be grateful for surveillance operations which targeted terrorist threats. “I would argue by the way, if the French citizens knew exactly what that was about, they would be applauding and popping champagne corks,” he told CNN’s State of the Union.
“It’s a good thing. it keeps the French safe. It keeps the US safe. It keeps our European allies safe.”
Peter King, a fellow Republican congressman, said that Mr Obama should not apologise for NSA operations in Europe. “The president should stop apologising, stop being defensive,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “The reality is the NSA has saved thousands of lives not just in the United States but in France, Germany and throughout Europe. Quite frankly, the NSA has done so much for our country and so much for the president, he’s the commander in chief. He should stand with the NSA.”
John Schindler, a former NSA official, noted that planning for the terrorist attacks on Sept 11, 2001 had taken place in Hamburg.
“If 9/11 had happened to Germany and been planned in NY not Hamburg, I’d expect [German] intel to monitor USA top 2 bottom,” he wrote on Twitter.
A German intelligence official, quoted by Die Welt, said: “The Americans did not want to rely exclusively on us after September 11th. That is understandable.”
Another told the newspaper: “Without information from the Americans, there would have been successful terrorist attacks in Germany in the past years.”

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