ICE arrests 90 more international students enrolled in DHS’s fake university

Detroit, December 4 (RHC)-- In the U.S. city of Detroit, about 90 foreign students of a fake university created by the Homeland Security Department have been arrested in recent months.  The students arrived to the United States with a student visa that was later revoked because it was revealed the University of Farmington in metro Detroit was a fake college. 

Since January, a total of at least 250 students have been arrested by ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, on immigration violations as part of an operation by the federal government that lured international students, mostly from India, to attend Farmington University, which marketed graduate programs in computer studies and technology. 

Many of the students arrested have been deported to India while others are appealing their deportation orders.

Edited by Ed Newman

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Russia says U.S. pullout from Syria looking more like permanent occupation

Moscow, November 7 (RHC)-- The long-anticipated U.S. pullout from Syria appears to have been postponed, with Pentagon sources claiming some 800 troops will stay behind to “guard” Syria’s oil, in a mission even pro-war U.S. politicians are calling “reckless.”

In Moscow, the Russian government slammed the illegal U.S. presence in Syria amid reports of new military bases being built in a northeastern oil-rich province.

U.S. troops will occupy a large area stretching 150 kilometers from Deir ez-Zor to al-Hasakah, the Trump administration announced earlier this week.  A total of about 800 troops will be stationed in the country, with some 600 in the Kurdish-controlled northeast plus the 200 currently garrisoned at al-Tanf in the south, anonymous administration officials told the Associated Press.

The decision appears to cancel out President Donald Trump’s promise made last month to bring home the 1,000 troops stationed in Syria, representing another triumph of the hawks in his administration over the president’s non-interventionist impulses.  Trump has repeatedly bragged “We’re keeping the oil.”

The U.S. is building two new military bases in Deir ez-Zor, according to Turkish media reports, indicating Trump is settling in for the long haul.  One base, near the town of Rmelan in al-Hasakah province, is reportedly situated near some 1,300 oil wells and fills up approximately 4 square kilometers.

Edited by Ed Newman
 
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Why The CIA Doesn't Spy On The UAE

The United Arab Emirates finances the military leader trying to topple a United Nations-recognised government in Libya. It helps lead a coalition of nations imposing an economic blockade of Qatar, despite U.S. calls to resolve the dispute. It hired former staffers of the U.S. National Security Agency as elite hackers to spy in a program that included Americans as surveillance targets, a Reuters investigation found this year.

And yet, in a highly unusual practice, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) does not spy on the UAE's government, three former CIA officials familiar with the matter told Reuters, creating what some critics call a dangerous blind spot in U.S. intelligence.

The CIA's posture isn't new. What's changed is the nature of the tiny but influential OPEC nation's intervention across the Middle East and Africa - fighting wars, running covert operations and using its financial clout to reshape regional politics in ways that often run counter to U.S. interests, according to the sources and foreign policy experts.

The CIA's failure to adapt to the UAE's growing military and political ambitions amounts to a "dereliction of duty," said a fourth former CIA official.

The U.S. intelligence community doesn't completely ignore the UAE. Another branch, the National Security Agency (NSA), conducts electronic surveillance - a lower-risk, lower-reward kind of intelligence-gathering - inside the UAE, two sources with knowledge of NSA operations told Reuters. And the CIA works with UAE intelligence in a "liaison" relationship that involves intelligence sharing on common enemies, such as Iran or al-Qaeda.

But the CIA does not gather "human intelligence" - the most valuable and difficult-to-obtain information - from UAE informants on its autocratic government, the three former CIA officials told Reuters.

The CIA, the NSA and the White House declined to comment on U.S. espionage practices in the UAE. The UAE's foreign ministry and its U.S. embassy did not respond to requests for comment.

The CIA's hands-off practice - which hasn't been previously reported in the media - puts the UAE on an extremely short list of other countries where the agency takes a similar approach, former intelligence officials said. They include the four other members of an intelligence coalition called "The Five Eyes": Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada.

CIA spies gather human intelligence on almost every other nation where the United States has significant interests, including some key allies, according to four former CIA officials.

The closest contrast to the UAE may be Saudi Arabia - another influential U.S. ally in the Middle East that produces oil and buys U.S. weapons. Unlike the UAE, Saudi Arabia is often targeted by the CIA, according to two former CIA officials and a former intelligence officer for a Gulf nation. Saudi intelligence agents have caught several CIA agents trying to recruit Saudi officials as informants, the sources said.

The Saudi intelligence agencies do not complain publicly about CIA spying attempts but privately meet with the agency's station chief in Riyadh to ask that the CIA officers involved be quietly ejected from the country, said the former intelligence official for a Gulf nation.

Robert Baer, a former CIA agent and author, called the lack of human intelligence on the UAE "a failure" when told about it by Reuters. U.S. policymakers, he said, need the best available information on the internal politics and family feuds of Middle Eastern monarchies.

"If you pride yourself on being a world service, it's a failure," he said. "The royal families are crucial."

'ROGUE STATE'

A former official in U.S. President Donald Trump's administration said the lack of UAE intelligence is alarming because the desert monarchy now operates as a "rogue state" in strategic nations such as Libya and Qatar and further afield in Africa.

In Sudan, the UAE spent years and billions of dollars propping up long-serving Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, then abandoned him and supported the military leaders who overthrew him in April. The new government's security forces in June killed dozens of protesters who were pushing for civilian rule and elections. The UAE has also built military bases in Eritrea and the self-declared Republic of Somaliland.

"You turn over any rock in the horn of Africa, and you find the UAE there," the former Trump administration official said.

The UAE has asserted itself as a financial and military power in areas "far from its immediate neighborhood," said Sara Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch.

"Whether Somalia, or Eritrea or Djibouti, or Yemen, the UAE is not asking for permission," she said.

In Yemen, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have led a coalition of nations fighting Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, but the UAE recently started drawing down troops amid international criticism over air strikes that have killed thousands of civilians and a humanitarian crisis that has pushed millions to the brink of famine. The U.S. Congress recently passed resolutions to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but President Trump vetoed the measures.

The UAE government has spent $46.8 million on U.S. lobbyists since 2017, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

One of the three former CIA officials with knowledge of the agency's UAE operations said intelligence on its government is needed for reasons beyond its regional interventions. The UAE is also forging closer ties with Russia - including a wide-ranging strategic partnership signed last year to cooperate on security, trade and oil markets - and with China, where Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the UAE's defector ruler, last month made a three-day visit for a UAE-China economic forum.

Some national security experts, however, continue to see enough alignment between U.S. and UAE interests to explain the continued lack of spying.

"Their enemies are our enemies," said Norman Roule, a retired CIA official, referring to Iran and al-Qaeda. "Abu Dhabi's actions have contributed to the war on terror, particularly against al-Queda in Yemen."

FEAR OF DEMOCRACY, POLITICAL ISLAM

The Abu Dhabi crown prince controls the foreign policy of the UAE, a federation of desert emirates, with a small group of advisors. He installed his U.S-educated brother, Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed, a mixed-martial arts buff who owns a stable of Arabian race horses, as his National Security Advisor. His son, Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed, runs the country's sprawling internal surveillance network.

The UAE's rising interventionism dates to 2011. Mass protests demanding democracy across the region during the so-called Arab Spring sparked rising concern within the UAE palace elite over the preservation of its own power, said Jodi Vittori, a former Air Force Intelligence officer now with the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace.

Like many Gulf royals, UAE leaders viewed the demonstrations as a threat to monarchic rule in the region. They have since fought the rise of political Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood, the international Islamic party that briefly rose to power in Egypt after the 2011 protests that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. The UAE cut off financial support to Egypt when brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi was elected president in 2012, and then resumed sending billions in aid after Egypt's army ousted Mursi a year later.

Vittori, of the Carnegie Foundation, acknowledged some continuing shared goals between the U.S. and UAE governments but said those interests are diverging as the UAE's monarchy focuses on self-preservation.

"When the goal is regime-survival at all costs," she said, "it's not one that's going to align with the U.S."

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Gambian FM to Visit Cuba

Gambia's Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Mamadou Tangara begins an official visit to Cuba this Friday.

The visit of the Africa diplomat begins this Friday he has scheduled a series of meetings with Cuban authorities,among other activities, the Cuban Foreign Ministry website reported.

Cuba has a medical brigade in Gambia for more than two decades. The brigade is curently staffed by more than 100 doctors, medicine teachers and public health personnel.

Bilateral cooperation also covers the agricultural sector.

Cuba and Gambia have diplomatic relations since May 19, 1979. The West African nation has maintained a position against the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the government of the United States against Cuba.

  • Published in Cuba

Tanks In Washington Ahead Of Trump's Fourth Of July Pageant

Washington: Battle tanks were seen on a train in Washington on Tuesday ahead of a July Fourth celebration highlighting U.S. military might that Democrats say President Donald Trump may turn into a re-election campaign rally.

Amid questions about the cost and tone of the event, White House officials said the Republican president will avoid politics and stick to patriotic themes in his speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Thursday.

Reuters photographed M1 Abrams tanks and other armored vehicles atop flat rail cars in Washington on Tuesday morning, a sign of the military firepower that will be featured, differing significantly from past annual celebrations of the 1776 Declaration of Independence.

For decades, U.S. presidents have kept a low profile during the event, which typically draws hundreds of thousands of people to Washington's monument-lined National Mall for a concert and fireworks.

This year, Trump plans to speak at a military "Salute to America" that will feature military bands and flyovers from the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels and Air Force One, the modified Boeing 747 that transports U.S. presidents.

The event could also feature M1 Abrams battle tanks, a B-2 bomber, F-35 and F-22 fighter jets, and the Marine One helicopter that transports the president, the Pentagon said. Air traffic at nearby Ronald Reagan National Airport will be suspended during the flyovers and the fireworks, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The antiwar group Code Pink said it had secured a permit to bring a "Baby Trump" blimp, depicting the president in diapers, to a protest in the Mall during his speech. The permit does not allow the balloon to be filled with helium so it can float.

Democrats in Congress have questioned whether Trump will turn a patriotic celebration into a taxpayer-funded campaign rally.

"That's absolutely ridiculous. This is all about a salute to America. The president is not going to get political," White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Fox Business Network.

On June 18, Trump officially launched his 2020 campaign to seek a second four-year term. More than 20 Democrats are campaigning for their party's nomination to run against Trump.

The administration has not said how much Trump's pumped-up July Fourth celebration will cost. The Pentagon postponed a military parade planned for last November after it estimated it could cost $90 million.

The National Park Service is diverting about $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees primarily intended to improve parks to cover costs associated with the celebration, the Washington Post reported, citing unnamed sources.

The agency did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the report.

"It is unacceptable that the Interior Department is failing to inform Congress about how it plans to spend taxpayer money to fund the president's lavish July Fourth plans, which reportedly include special access to the National Mall for the politically connected," Democratic Senator Tom Udall said in a statement.

A VIP section set up near the Lincoln Memorial will be open to government officials and lawmakers, according to a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity. In previous years, government officials and other VIPs have watched the fireworks from the White House lawn.

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Downing of US drone a ‘clear message’ to Washington — Iran’s IRGC commander

The head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards says the downing of a US drone over its territory was a “clear message” to Washington, proving Tehran will react strongly to any military aggression.

Just hours earlier, Iran claimed to have shot down a US RQ-4 spy drone over Hormozgan Province. This "was a clear message to America,” the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander-in-chief, Hossein Salami, told local media.

He added that any intrusion across the country's borders would be seen as a “red line” and would be met with strong resistance.

Iran is not seeking war with any country, but we are fully prepared to defend Iran.

Tehran said later that the drone had taken off from a US airbase in the region and had its tracking equipment turned off during the flight, contravening aviation laws.

A US Central Command (CENTCOM) statement confirmed that a Navy RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV had been indeed shot down by Iranian surface-to-air missiles on Wednesday night. However, it said Tehran’s claim that the drone had invaded Iran’s airspace was “false” and that it was downed over international waters.

Meanwhile, Salami’s comments were reiterated by Iran’s Foreign Ministry which said that any “violations of Iran’s borders” would be responded to.

We warn of the consequences of such illegal and provocative measures.

It is the latest incident adding to heightening tensions between the US and Iran in recent months. Earlier, Washington blamed Iran for attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

However, these claims somehow contradict a statement by the company operating one of the ill-fated tankers. The ‘Kokuka Courageous’ owner – one of the vessels hit in the assault – said its sailors had seen “flying objects” in the sky before they were attacked.

Also on rt.com US to send 1,000 additional troops to Middle East - Pentagon...

The incident comes amid a heavy build-up of US military might in the Gulf. On June 17, the Pentagon announced it was sending 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East theater. Washington has also used the so-called threat of Iran to justify sending an aircraft carrier strike group, a Patriot air defense battery and nuclear-capable bomber aircraft to the region.

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Trump Imposes 5% Tariff on All Mexican Goods Until It Solves Border Issue

The tariff is set to begin on June 10, unless Mexico somehow solves what Trump has called an emergency at the border.

President Donald Trump, in yet another example of foreign policy by tweet, said Thursday the United States will impose a 5 percent tariff on all goods coming from Mexico starting on June 10 until illegal immigration across the southern border is stopped.

RELATED Mexico Prepares New Retaliation Duties Against United States

"The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied, at which time the Tariffs will be removed," Trump said on Twitter.

In a statement issued by the White House, Trump said the tariff would increase to 10% on July 1, 15% on Aug. 1, 20% on Sept. 1 and to 25% on Oct. 1.

"Mexico’s passive cooperation in allowing this mass incursion constitutes an emergency and extraordinary threat to the national security and economy of the United States," Trump said in the statement.

"Mexico has very strong immigration laws and could easily halt the illegal flow of migrants, including by returning them to their home countries," he said.

This declaration comes as a surprise as the United States, Mexico, and Canada are currently in the midst of ratifying a new NAFTA deal that would update trade rules among the three countries. Dubbed the USMCA deal, to update the 25-year-old NAFTA, it had just been sent to the Mexican Senate where it was expected to be ratified easily. 

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said he foresees no difficulties in getting it passed.

Mexico is one of the largest trading partners for the U.S. and according to the Office of the United State Trade Representative, trade between the two countries was estimated at US$671 billion dollars.

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Young musicians from Cuba and the US participate in “Together in Harmony” project

Havana, May 22 (RHC)-- More than 70 musicians, members of the Cuban American Youth Orchestra (CAYO), are getting ready for their first concert tour of Cuba.

Under the title of “Together in Harmony¨, the presentations planned for next weekend are sponsored by Classical Movements, a cultural exchange project between the Island and the United States with 25 years of experience, and the Institute of Music in the Caribbean nation.

According to Rena Kraut, founder of CAYO, the objective of this non-profit initiative is to provide educational and interpretive opportunities to musicians from both countries through workshops, artistic delegations and cultural exchanges.

 "I think that CAYO has a lot of potential in artistic diplomacy and the presentations in Cuba indicate mutual goodwill and the desire to strengthen the relationship between the two nations, through learning and cultivating the spirit of goodwill," he said. Kraut.

Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares
  • Published in Culture
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