World safety requires more disarmament initiatives, not more nukes, says German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, accusing the new US Nuclear Posture Review of endangering Europe.
“The decision by the US government in favor of new tactical nuclear weapons shows that the spiral of a new nuclear arms race is already under way,” Gabriel said in a statement, noting that “like the Cold War times, we in Europe are in particular danger.”
The newly-released US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) refers to Russia’s nuclear modernization as one of the reasons to renovate and upgrade the US nuclear arsenals making them more mobile by developing new, low-yield nuclear weapons.
Gabriel also put part of the blame for the deterioration of international security on Moscow, mentioning its 2014 reunification with Crimea and a “dramatic loss of confidence” in Russia as a result. The instability in the countries along Europe’s southern borders is another challenge to the global order, which “is increasingly being called into question,” Gabriel said.
But building more nukes is not the answer, he added. Instead, they send the “wrong signal” and trigger a new upward spiral in the arms race.
“Instead of new weapon systems, we need new disarmament initiatives,” Gabriel said, noting that all existing arms control agreements should be “upheld unconditionally” in a concerted effort to create a world free of nuclear weapons.
While not having nuclear weapons of its own, Germany stores about 20 American B61-4 nuclear bombs which it keeps at the Luftwaffe’s Büchel Air Base in Rhineland-Palatinate, western Germany. The base hosts German Tornado aircraft that can carry the US bombs under a nuclear sharing deal. Starting from 2021, the aging bombs will be gradually replaced by a new variant of the B61, the B-12, which is expected to go into full-scale production in 2020. The new bombs are considered to be more accurate and are set to be stored at the same base which has been housing US nuclear weapons since 2007, despite vocal protests from the German opposition.
Germany’s criticism comes after the US nuclear doctrine was denounced by Russia, China and Iran, all named in the document as potential nuclear threats to the US.
On Sunday the Chinese Foreign Ministry branded the report that accuses it of a major nuclear-build up “presumptuous speculation” calling on Washington to drop its “Cold-War mentality.” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote in a tweet that it violates international non-proliferation treaties and brings the world “closer to annihilation.”
Decrying the US nuclear ambitions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that “Americans are shamelessly threatening Russia with a new nuclear weapon.”
Commenting on the document, Moscow said that the accusations against Russia in the review “have nothing to do with reality,” dismissing Washington’s “aggressive Russia” notion as a straw man, and a pretext for pumping more money into its military industry.
A Russian Su-25 warplane was likely shot down by a heat-seeking missile, senior official Vladimir Shamanov said. As Syrian forces try to reach the crash site, Moscow has launched a probe into the origins of the fatal weapon.
The existing evidence clearly indicates that the Russian Su-25 plane, shot down over Syria on Saturday, was hit by a heat-seeking missile, the head of the Russian lower house Defense Committee and former chief of airborne troops said. The exact type of man-portable air-defense (MANPAD) system used, however, could be only determined upon examining the remains of the plane, which crashed in a militant-controlled area.
“It’s impossible to determine which MANPAD it was until the crash site is secured – an old ‘Strela’, a newer ‘Igla’, or an American ‘Stinger’,” Shamanov told reporters on Monday. “It’s only clear, looking at the trajectory of the plane’s fall, that its right engine was burning. It means that a heat-seeking missile hit the engine.”
The Syrian military has been trying to reach the crash site, according to Shamanov.
“Syrian special forces are trying to get there for the third day straight. Regular Syrian troops are also conducting their operation in the area,” the official said. Russia, meanwhile, has launched its own investigation into the incident.
The Su-25 was downed over a territory in Syria’s Idlib governorate, controlled by the terrorist group Tahrir al-Sham, previously known as Al-Nusra Front, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry. The pilot, Major Roman Filipov, managed to eject safely, but landed in the terrorist-controlled territory. The pilot engaged in a gun battle with the militants and detonated a grenade when surrounded.
In the Trump speech last night, there were no fewer than twelve such ‘gallery scenes’ to break up the mesmerizing stop-rise-clap-sit down nonsense.
Presidents’ State of the Union speeches used to report on accomplishments of the past year and proposals for new programs and policy changes for the next. Just as the country we once knew, those days are long gone.
In the 21st century, the format is mostly theatrical: The president offers a short sentence about how wonderful America is, cuts his sentence short, and waits for applause. The Congress rises and claps longer than the spoken sentence that brought them to their feet. This goes on every 15 seconds. Sometimes less. Up and down, up and down. Turn off the volume, and it’s similar to canned laughter in a TV situation comedy—with the visual effect of bouncing butts replacing the canned laughter. Except it’s all more tragic than it is comedic.
A stranger viewing for the first time must conclude that something anatomically must be wrong with their backsides. Up-down, up-down. But when the incessant pattern of ‘short phrase, rise and clap too long, sit down’ threatens to become too repetitive, a new theatrical effect is introduced. Now it’s the president introducing staged character actors in the gallery above the floor, each introduction providing an appeal to the tv audience’s emotions. In the Trump speech last night, there were no fewer than twelve such ‘gallery scenes’ to break up the mesmerizing stop-rise-clap-sit down nonsense.
First, there was ‘Ashley, the helicopter lady,’ then ‘Dolberg the firefighter,’ Congressman Scalise, whose only claim to fame was he got himself shot (definitely not on the level of the other ‘heroes’), followed. And how about the 12-year-old ‘Preston the flag boy,’ with whom Trump said he had a great conversation before the speech. (I’m sure it was of comparable intellect).
But clever by far was the next gallery event, the four parents whose kids were killed by MS13 gang members in Long Island, NY. All four were black, apparently to blunt the racist appeal by Trump injected into the scene, suggesting that all immigrants were gang members who came here as a result of ‘chained migration’ family policy. I guess MS13 gangsters never killed whites.
Not surprisingly, the next gallery scene was the ICE agent, a guy named Martinez who heroically smashed the MS13 gangsters. Of course, he too was Hispanic.
Both theatrical scenes dealing with ‘immigrant gangsters arriving by chained migration’ provided Trump a nice segway into describing his ‘4 pillars’ immigration bill, the only policy proposal he actually spelled out in his nearly hour and a half speech.
For a pathway to citizenship that would take 12 years for ‘Dreamer’ kids, Trump would have his $30 billion-plus border wall, a new immigration policy based on ‘merit’ (welcome Norwegians), as well as an end to family ‘chained migration policy’ (which somehow would also protect the nuclear family, according to Trump). The message: white folks’ nuclear families good; immigrant folks’ (especially Latino) extended families bad, was the suggested logic.
What it all added up to? If Democrats agreed to his pillars 2-4 right now, maybe there would be citizenship for Dreamers sometime by 2030! What a deal. But who knows, maybe the Democrats will take it, given that they retreated from their prior ‘line in the sand’ of pass DACA and dreamers or they’ll shut down the government.
The next theater event was no less interesting than the immigration scenes in the Trump play that was the presidential State of the Union address last night. In typical Trumpian worship of the police and military, Trump (the draft dodger) introduced an Albuquerque policeman in the gallery who had talked a pregnant woman on drugs from committing suicide. Seems the woman was desperate about bringing a kid into the world she’d be unable to afford to raise. The solution by the policeman was to offer to adopt her baby if she didn’t kill herself. It worked. The kid and mother were saved, and the policeman adopted the child. The policeman’s wife accompanied him in the gallery—with an infant in her arms of course. Not sure whose it was but no matter. Now that was double theater, a scene within a scene. Shakespeare would have been proud.
That impressive bit of theater, perhaps the high point of all the ‘gallery effects’ of the evening, was the intro to Trump’s solution to the Opioid crisis in America, where 60,000 a year now die from overdoses. In his speech, Trump’s solution to the opioid crisis was ‘let’s get tougher on drug dealers’. He failed to mention, of course, that the drug dealers in question most responsible for launching the opioid crisis were the prescription drug companies themselves who pushed their products like Fentanyl and Percoset on doctors a decade ago, telling them the drugs weren’t addictive.
As for the even larger prescription drug problem in American—i.e., the runaway cost of drugs that are killing unknown thousands of Americans who can’t afford them because of price gouging—Trump merely said “prices will come down substantially…just watch!” That solution echoed his press conference of several weeks ago when he publicly addressed the opioid crisis…but offered no solution specifics how. Watching Trump solve the opioid crisis will be slower than watching grass grow…in winter!
Trump’s speech was not all theater. Much of it was factual—except the facts were mostly misrepresentations and outright lies.
Like unemployment is at a record low. But not when part time, temp, contract and gig work is added to full time. More than 13 million are still officially jobless. The rate is still close to 10%. And that doesn’t count the 5-10 million workers who have dropped out of the labor force altogether since 2008, leading to record lows in labor force participate rates and employment to population ratios. That rate and ratio hasn’t changed under Trump.
Another lie was that wages are finally starting to rise. Whose wages? If you want to count average wages and salaries of the 30 million managers, supervisors, and self-employed, maybe so. But according to US Labor department data, real average hourly earnings for all non-farm workers in the US in 2017 rose by a whopping 4 cents!
Trump cited again his Treasury Secretary, Mnuchin’s, ridiculous figure that the average family income household would realize $4,000 a year in tax cuts. But no economist I know believes that absurd claim.
Perhaps the biggest facts manipulation occurred with Trump’s references to his recent tax cuts. He cited a list of so-called middle class tax cuts, leaving out wealthy individual tax cuts measures. Typical was his claim of doubling the standard deduction, worth $800 billion in tax cuts for the working poor below $24k a year in income. But he failed to mention the additional $2.1 trillion hikes on the middle class. (Or the $2 trillion in corresponding cuts for wealthiest households.) Independent studies show the middle class may get some tax cuts initially, but those end by the seventh year, and then rise rapidly thereafter by year ten. In contrast, the corporate, business, and wealthy household cuts keep going—beyond the tenth year.
What Trump conveniently left out in his speech regarding taxes also qualifies as lie by omission. He noted the corporate tax rate was reduced from 35% to 21% and the non-corporate business income deductions were increased by 20%. That was $1.5 trillion and $310 billion, respectively.
Or that the Obamacare mandate repeal saved businesses another $300 billion. And multinational corporations would reap the lion’s share of $1 trillion in tax cuts, at minimum. And all that still doesn’t account for accelerated depreciation under the Act. Or abolition of the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax. Or continuation of the infamous corporate loopholes, like carried interest, corporate offshore ‘inversions’, or gimmicks that corporate tax lawyers joke about—like the ‘dutch sandwich’ and ‘double Irish’.
Then there were the Trump jokes. I don’t mean anything actually funny. Nonsense statements like “beautiful clean coal” (the oxymoron statement of the year). Or that US companies offshore are “roaring coming back to where the action is”. And car companies are bringing jobs back (while laying off in thousands). “Americans (white) are dreamers too”. Or the phony infrastructure program that’s coming, where companies will be subsidized by the federal government in ‘public-private partnership’ deals. And his unexplained reference to ‘prison reform’ (really?). Perfunctory references to trade, job training, another non-starter.
Hidden between the lines were other serious references, however. Like his ominous threat to “remove government employees” who ‘fail the American people’ or ‘undermine American trust’, which sounded like a warning from Trump to the bureaucracy not to cross him or else. Or his slap at National Football League players for not saluting the flag. Or plans to expand Guantanamo and the US nuclear arsenal. Or reaffirmation of the definition of ‘enemy combatants’ (which may include US citizens). Trump re-established the fact of his threat to civil liberties.
On the foreign policy front it was mostly threats as well, new and old: To withhold UN funding. Renewed support for new sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela. But North Korea was left for last. Here the return to theater was among the most dramatic. The last ‘gallery scene’ involved a legless defector from North Korea, Seong Ho, brought all the way from So. Korea just for the speech. This was theater with props; applause was sustained as Mr. Ho raised and shook his crutches above his head after Trump’s introduction.
Trump then rode the emotional wave to conclusion with his closing theme that the American people themselves are what’s great about America. Too bad he doesn’t mean all Americans.
So far as Trump speeches go, it was a ‘safe speech’, a teleprompter speech. But typically Trump. Lots of false facts. Emphasis on dividing the country. Long on Theater and emotional appeals to ‘enemies within and without’. And short on policy specifics. But after all, apart from tax cuts and deregulation for corporations and the rich, and a failed Obamacare repeal, not much was achieved in 2017 for him to talk about. And so far as new ideas for 2018 are concerned, there’s ‘no there there’ as well.
Los Angeles, Jan 24 (Prensa Latina) After the announcement in Hollywood of the candidates or nominees in the different categories of actors and movie pictures, the US Recording Academy (formerly the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences or NARAS) mentioned the names of the aspirants to win the Oscar Awards in the musical aspects.
Among the aspirants, one of the names is the one of US female rhythm and blues (R&B), soul and hip-hop performer Mary J. Blige, for the Oscar for Best Original Song, nominated here Tuesday with the song called 'Mighty River', for the film called 'Mudbound'.
Mary J. Blige is accompanied in the competition for the Oscar by US songwriter Sufjan Stevens, with a song called 'Call Me by Your Name' for the movie soundtarck for the film with the same name, and rap singer Common, singing together with Diane Warren with a song called 'Stand Up for Something' composed for the film 'Marshall'.
In the same category as Best Original Song, Kristen Anderson López and Robert López were nominated for their song 'Remember Me', for the animated film 'Coco'; as well as Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who aspire to the win with 'This Is Me', from the feature film 'The Greatest Showman'.
In the category of Best Soundtrack, there is the guitarist of the group Radiohead, Jonny Greenwood, for his orchestrated work for the film 'The Invisible Thread'.
Greeenwood competes against very famous international musicians in this category, such as Hans Zimmer, Alexandre Desplat, John Williams and Carter Burwell.
The 90th edition of the Oscars will be at March 4, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
The potential collapse of the nuclear deal with Iran could set a dangerous precedent and will have serious consequences for the tense standoff on the Korean peninsula, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned.
Tensions between North Korea and the international community have steadily been rising over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program. An already volatile situation has been further inflamed by hostile rhetoric and military provocations from both North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.
The case with Iran, whose own nuclear program is likewise viewed with suspicion by the US, has been soothed, so far, by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – agreed to in 2015 by Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, the so-called P5+1.
"It is evident that the failure of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, especially through the fault of one of the participants in the P5+1 group, will become an alarming signal for the whole architecture of international security, including prospects for the settlement of the nuclear problem of the Korean peninsula," Lavrov said before a meeting of the UN Security Council. Russia's Foreign Minister underlined that scrapping JCPOA will undermine any deal made with Pyongyang.
Last week, Trump announced that he would waive the economic sanctions on Iran, lifted under the JCPOA agreement, which sees Tehran scale back its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions. He warned America’s European allies, however, that Washington could still pull out of the agreement if its terms were not met. Trump previously referred to JCPOA as the “worst deal ever.”
At the UN, Lavrov reiterated the importance of seeking a peaceful solution to the Korean crisis. He again put forward the “double-freeze” strategy proposed by Russia and China, in which the US and its allies cease major military exercises in the region in exchange for Pyongyang suspending its nuclear and ballistic missile program. "We reaffirm the relevance of the road map proposed by Russia and China in the interests of an exclusively peaceful settlement of this problem," he said.
Washington has consistently rejected the plan. It did so again at a joint summit with Canada this week, proposing more sanctions on Pyongyang instead. In an interview with Reuters Wednesday, Trump said military action is still very much an option.
"Hotel California" is the title track from the 1976 Eagles album of the same name, and won the 1977 Grammy award for record of the year.
There can evidently be only one Hotel California: music legends the Eagles have settled a lawsuit to stop a Mexico hotel from using the name "Hotel California," arguably the rock band's most famous song, after the hotel's owners withdrew their application to trademark the name in the United States.
A joint dismissal of the band's lawsuit against Hotel California Baja LLC, which runs the Todos Santos hotel in Baja California Sur, was filed on Wednesday with the US District Court in Los Angeles, Reuters reports.
"This case has been settled by mutual agreement of the parties," Thomas Jirgal, a lawyer for the Eagles, said in an interview on Thursday.
The dismissal came on the same day the US Patent and Trademark Office accepted Hotel California Baja's request to permanently abandon its trademark application.
Neither the hotel nor its lawyer immediately responded to requests for comment.
"Hotel California" is the title track from the 1976 Eagles album of the same name, and won the 1977 Grammy award for record of the year.
It is known for a long guitar outro by Don Felder and Joe Walsh, and abstract lyrics that lead singer Don Henley told CBS News in 2016 depict "the dark underbelly of the American dream."
Hotel California Baja was accused of wrongly encouraging guests to believe the Eagles authorized using the song's name, such as by playing the band's songs throughout its property.
The Eagles said this was done in part to spur sales of T-shirts, posters, refrigerator magnets and other merchandise for guests to take home after they check out and leave.
In court papers, Hotel California Baja denied it was trying to mislead guests, and said they were unlikely to be confused.
Located about 1,609km south of San Diego and 77km north of Cabo San Lucas, the hotel had been called Hotel California when it opened in 1950.
It underwent some name changes, but the original name was revived after John and Debbie Stewart, a Canadian couple, bought the property in 2001.
In order to increasingly aggravate the situation of the current US government, the case of the explosive resignation of its ambassador to Panama broke out now.
According to Miami’s journalist Franco Ordoñez, John Feeley’s resignation, “sent shock waves through the State Department, where this diplomat was seen as a rising star and even as a possible undersecretary”.
He added that “more than a dozen of state officials said it made them question their own commitment with an administration, which they feel is undermining the work of that department and the influence of the U.S. in the world”.
A US official who works at the State Department quoted by Ordoñez, stated that “After what happened recently, people wonder who they can be effective in an environment that this".
Others consider in Washington that Feeley, was also one of the main specialists in Latin America, served as a mentor for many of the diplomats who are specializing at present.
The State Department confirmed he would leave his post next March 9th. Pretext? Personal reasons.
The information coming from Miami and amplified in Washington added that “John Feeley, resigned because he was not willing to work under Trump’s presidency”.
On the other hand, the American Association of Foreign Services, professional organization of the diplomatic corps of the United States announced the resignation happens when 60 percent of the senior professional diplomats have left and new applications have fallen by half.
Journalist Ordoñez adds that, according to his colleagues, Feeley reflected in his resignation letter “the collapse of morale of a diplomatic corps that has lost confidence in the Trump administration’s focus on diplomacy”.
Observers reiterate that John Feeley sent his controversial letter last December, but his acquaintances say that the essential thing of his retirement were Trump’s recent "slaps" to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations.
Benjamin Gedan, former director of the National Security Council for Latin America during the Obama administration, said that “he was the most respected expert in Latin American affairs in the Foreign Service and that without a doubt, he was heading to high-ranking positions”.
Mark Feierstein, head director of the White House National Security Council for the Western Hemisphere Affairs under President Barack Obama, said “Trump has given the ambassadors many reasons to resign last year”, that was just one. There were many more. And there will be more”.
In addition to Feeley, last November state official Elizabeth Shackelford, who worked in Nairobi for the mission of the United States in Somalia, resigned too, after criticizing the head of state for abandoning human rights policies and for his “lack of respect” to the diplomatic service.
So, the image of the current government of the United States increasingly darkens.
Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff
Prominent figures in the U.S. and abroad have condemned Trumps remarks calling countries like Haiti and El Salvador "shitholes."
Haitian and U.S. activists as well as U.S. lawmakers, including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, joined many in the U.S. and abroad in slamming President Donald Trump's latest immigration comments calling it "morally inadequate," and "racist". Earlier on Thursday during a meeting with Senate and House members, U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly asked "Why do we want all these people from shithole countries coming here?"
The insulting comments generated an immediate backlash from journalists, political figures, and activists all over the globe.
in an an interview with CNN shortly after Trump's comments, Senator Sanders spoke of part of his personal story to highlight how Trump's comments affect not only immigrants but also first generation U.S. citizens. "I am a first generation American, and my dad came from what I guess Trump would call a shithole, that was a very rural and a very poor area from Poland," Sanders said and further expressed his admiration for immigrants coming to the U.S. at a young age. "I cannot believe the courage that that took."
@WajahatAli So we don't forget, in addition to calling Africa, Haiti and El Salvador "shithole countries," Trump also said all Haitians have AIDS, Nigerians live in huts, Mexicans are rapists and criminals and Muslims should be banned because, of course, "Islam hates us." Economic. Anxiety.
Prominent Haitian left-wing activist Rene Civil blasted the U.S. president for his comments calling him “a cancer on the world” and demanding that he apologizes to both Haiti and the African continent. "Haiti is not a 'shithole.' It's a great country. It's the mother of liberty,” Civil said in an interview with Reuters Thursday night as he kissed the Haitian flag.
He also demanded Trump “apologize before the entire African continent as well as before Haiti, the country whose blood has been used by ancestors who have served with their minds and bodies to liberate the United States itself from slavery."
United States scholar Steven Salaita criticized Trump's remarks calling them "racist" and blasting Trump for likening "Blackness to shit." The countries targeted by Trump were overwhelmingly Black countries like Haiti, of which he said: they "have sent 15,000 people, they all have AIDS."
@stevesalaita Trump calling Haiti and African countries "shitholes" is racist, period. He implies that poverty arises from innate cultural and intellectual deficiencies rather than from centuries of US/European enslavement, colonization, and genocide. He also likens blackness to shit.
The American Civil Liberties Union also slammed Trump's comment a "racist", while National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, lamented: "As our nation fights to move forward, our President falls deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of racism and xenophobia."
Meanwhile Latino journalist Julio Ricardo Varela responded to Trump by reminding him of the U.S.'s role in regional crisis and instability. "Last time I checked, the USA has an amazing ability to create shitholes," Varela claimed in relation to Washington's role in Central America. El Salvador was another country targeted by Trump's remarks.
@julito77 Last time I checked, the USA has an amazing ability to create “shitholes.” Made in the USA. Central America is literally a region that the US started directly controlling well over a century ago. How no one is talking about this in depth right now doesn’t surprise me.
White House CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins argued that Trump's "shithole" comment "will resonate with his base." And this is probably true. President Trump ran on a racist platform, and during his campaign he didn't shy away from calling Mexican immigrants "rapists and criminals." Furthermore, after white supremacist violence in Charlottesville resulted in one dead woman, Trump refused to condemn white nationalism and described some of the neo-Nazi protesters as "very good people".
@KarenAttiah I hope every media outlet that is going to produce outraged pieces about Trump’s “shithole" comments takes a long and hard look at its coverage of black and brown countries.
Even lawmakers from Trump’s own party blasted his comments. Republican U.S. Representative Mia Love, a daughter of Haitian immigrants, said the comments were "unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation's values" and called on Trump to apologize to the American people and to the countries he denigrated.