US House Speaker Pelosi formally announces impeachment inquiry against Trump

In the United States, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump on Tuesday, yielding to mounting pressure from fellow Democrats.

One hundred and seventy-three House Democrats are now calling for an impeachment inquiry following whistleblower allegations President Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate political rival Joe Biden's family.

Pelosi said such actions would imply a “betrayal of his oath of office” and declared, “No one is above the law.”

With the announcement, Trump could probably become the fourth US president to face impeachment proceedings.

In New York, Trump did not deny withholding Congressionally approved aid to Ukraine, arguing that Europe and other nations are not helping that Eastern European country either.

Congress members consider the president should not withhold aid from a country to get dirt on his opponents, because that is unconstitutional.

Meanwhile the president previewed his defense in an all-caps tweet: “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” and he said he will release an un-redacted and unclassified transcript of a July phone call between him and Ukraine's president.

The White House is also planning to release to Congress a whistleblower's complaint that triggered the week-long crisis that has rocked the Trump presidency.

In tne complain, Trump reportedly pressured Ukraine's president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

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Inventing war is an American tradition

Lies to provoke wars with Venezuela and Iran may seem like a Trumpian phenomena but, the practice is as old as America itself.

Early European settlers along with their colonial governments consistently lied and provoked Native American tribes into wars in order to obtain the lands they coveted. These tactics which began over 150 years before the American Revolution continued for another 150 years afterwards as First Nation peoples were consigned to some of the least habitable lands in the lower 48.

The Mexican/American War was precipitated when President James Polk sent an American military detachment into Mexico. When Mexican forces responded with force, Polk falsely claimed that the attack had occurred on American soil. An elderly John Quincy Adams and a young Abraham Lincoln were not fooled by this deception and voiced their disapproval but to no avail.

The sinking of the USS Maine in the Havana Harbor is considered by many to be a false flag event to rationalize America’s imperialistic appetite. With the Spanish empire in decline, the United States annexed Cuba and Puerto Rico. Turning its attention to the Pacific, the U.S. fought an ugly war against indigenous leaders in the Philippines who considered American colonialists no different than the Spanish. Reflecting on his experiences in the Caribbean and the Pacific, Major General Smedley Butler, the most decorated Marine of his era, would say in his book, War is a Racket, and that he was a "gangster for Wall Street.”

The Gulf of Tonkin incident was a lie Lyndon Johnson used to further engage the American people and its military into the Viet Nam war. Lies and deceptions about that war were not confined to the Johnson presidency. Beginning with Eisenhower’s cabinet, the lies continued through Nixon whose hyperbole rationalized the invasion of Cambodia.

With no credible supporting evidence, the Bush administration promoted the lie that Saddam Hussein had helped plan the September 11th attacks on the Twin Towers. The Bush administration next falsely claimed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. The ensuing Middle Eastern wars, the longest in American history, have claimed over 10,000 American lives, a half million civilian deaths, and millions of internal and external refugees. The Iraq war which most American politicians of both stripes nonchalantly refer to as a “mistake”, should be better understood as a gigantic humanitarian tragedy built on an edifice of lies.

Rhetoric from the Trump administration suggests that we can justify the overthrow of President Maduro in order to alleviate the economic hardship of the people of Venezuela. A decade of harsh U.S. economic sanctions, more recently tightened under the Trump administration, exposes the lie that Trump’s desire for regime change emanates from honest concern for the Venezuelan people.

The recent Gulf of Hormuz attack on a Japanese oil tanker has all the earmarks of a false flag incident with Iran having no obvious reason to attack a country to whom it would like to sell its oil. Nevertheless, the Trump administration quickly concluded that Iran was the culprit despite no collaborative evidence. Few Americans are aware that in 1953 the U.S. helped to overthrow Iran’s democratically elected government and replaced it with a harsh dictator which the U.S. supported for decades. Publicly, our government denied any involvement in Iran’s internal affairs.

Perhaps the American people really don’t care if they are lied into another war. Most of our recent wars have been fought without a draft and rather than raise taxes to fight wars our government simply borrows the money and passes the debt onto future generations. Most Americans are only vaguely aware of the countries where we are fighting. In fact, we have over 800 bases in 80 different countries. While accurate figures are classified, supposedly as a matter of national security, it is likely we are spending over a trillion dollars a year on our military which is more than the military spending by the next seven countries combined, most of whom are our allies.

There have always been personal sacrifices for America’s wars but, for the most part, our wars and the lies that promoted them have not been costly to the nation as a whole. Indeed, our past wars have usually resulted in the acquisition of land, wealth, and power. That might be changing.

Our recent incursions into the Middle East may have benefitted America’s military-industrial-legislative complex but our general economy has not prospered and there is no clear military victory in sight. Perhaps it is time for America to re-assess its participation in wars. That reassessment should begin with telling the truth about our past while carefully examining the facts and motives of those who would lead us into another war.

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Trump names Robert O'Brien National Security Advisor

US President Donald Trump announced Wednesday the appointment of Robert C. O'Brien, Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs, as his new National Security Adviser.

Last week, the White House chief dismissed the controversial John Bolton, former occupant of the post since April 2018, who followed Herbert McMaster, successor to the current administration's first such adviser, Michael Flynn.

Bolton, an extreme conservative, dedicated himself to promoting an aggressive foreign policy and his departure from office occurred amidst deep disagreements over how to handle issues related to Iran, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Russia and Afghanistan.

'I am pleased to announce that I will name Robert C. O'Brien, currently serving as the very successful Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department, as our new National Security Advisor,' Trump tweeted.

'I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!,' added the Republican leader, who yesterday mentioned five possible candidates to the post.

Along with O'Brien, the president alluded to Major General Ricky Waddell, chief military adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; and Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, subsecretary of Energy for Nuclear Security.

He also referred to Fred Fleitz, ex-Cabinet Chief under Bolton; and Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, a retired officer who advised Trump during the 2016 campaign and now serves as advisor to Vice President Mike Pence.

Following Bolton's dismissal, the White House announced that Charles Kupperman would serve as acting National Security Adviser.

Kupperman, aged 68, was previously Bolton's deputy adviser, before which he held senior positions at Lockheed Martin and Boeing, and served in the Ronald Reagan administration (1981-1989).

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Protests to greet G7 leaders as they talk Amazon fires, trade

The leaders of the G7 club of rich countries meet in southwest France on Saturday, a gathering clouded by the burning Amazon, diving stock markets and their own stark divisions, giving little grounds for optimism.

US President Donald Trump, who landed in France around midday, faces a mass protest outside the Atlantic resort of Biarritz where the summit is taking place, though 13,000 police have been deployed to keep them far from view.

Thousands began rallying Saturday some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the G7 gathering at the border town of Hendaye for a march over the Bidassoa River toward the Spanish town of Irun.

Red, white and green Basque flags waved above a crowd that included anti-capitalists, environmental activists as well as a few dozen of France's "yellow vest" anti-government protesters, according to AFP journalists at the scene.

"It's important to show that people are mobilised and do not accept the world they're offering us," said Elise Dilet, 47, of the Basque anti-globalisation group, Bizi.

Police said 17 people had been arrested as of Friday night amid clashes with protesters camped out near Hendaye.

The summit was already shaping up to be a difficult encounter with Western relations badly strained by Trump, but images of billowing smoke above the Amazon rainforest have lent it a new, even darker mood.

AFP/File / Nicolas ASFOURI Summit talks will also be dominated by US President Trump's trade war with China

"The Amazon is burning and it's something that concerns everyone," Macron told the Konbini website on Friday.

He has led international pressure on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro over the fires, telling him Paris would block efforts to seal a major trade deal between the EU and Latin America.

He has called for emergency talks at the G7, which runs until Monday, to find "concrete measures" to tackle the crisis.

"We are going to try and mobilise everyone to raise funding for reforestation as quickly as possible," Macron added on Friday.

- Trade threat -

Talks in the beach resort, known for fierce rainstorms that blow in from the Atlantic, will also be dominated by the darkening clouds over the world economy.

Wall Street stocks tanked on Friday after Trump escalated his trade war with China that is seen as responsible for a global slowdown.

AFP / Key facts on the G7 member countries, ahead of a summit in Biarritz, France on August 24-26.

"We don't need China and, frankly, would be far... better off without them," Trump tweeted on Friday, saying US companies were "hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China."

His outburst came after China imposed tariffs on US imports worth $75 billion in response to an earlier round of American measures.

But Trump hit back immediately, raising tariffs still further.

"We see trade tensions as the single most important threat to global growth," a top EU official told reporters ahead of the G7 summit on condition of anonymity.

And as he left for Biarritz, Trump also fired a salvo at France, threatening to slap heavy tariffs on its wine in response to its move to impose a sales tax on tech giants like Facebook, Apple and Google.

"Those are great American companies, and frankly, I don't want France going out and taxing our companies. Very unfair," he told reporters outside the White House.

"And if they do that, we'll be taxing their wine... like they've never seen before."

- Johnson debut -

Though the Amazon fires and trade will dominate the agenda, the G7 meeting will also be the full international debut of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

He will meet Trump for the first time as leader and is expected to discuss the UK's impending exit from the European Union, which the US president has enthusiastically backed.

AFP / Ben STANSALL The summit will also be a debut for Britain's new Prime Minister Boris Johnson

"My message to G7 leaders this week is this: the Britain I lead will be an international, outward-looking, self-confident nation," he said on the eve of the summit.

But though Johnson needs Trump's support for a free-trade deal, he is at odds with him on a range of issues including the Iran nuclear crisis, climate change and global trade.

"Trade tensions are unsettling the global economy," a British official told reporters. "There are differences with the US about how to resolve global trade imbalances."

Trump will find himself under pressure from the Europeans, particularly Macron, to ease off on his policy of "maximum pressure" on Iran over its nuclear programme.

Since pulling out of the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement limiting Tehran's nuclear programme, Trump has slapped crippling sanctions on the Iranian economy.

Macron wants him to put a "pause" on the policy, an aide said recently, which would enable talks to find a new diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told AFP on Friday that Macron's "suggestions" to find a way out of the current impasse were "moving in the right direction."

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Protesters take center stage at Donald Trump’s July 4th event in Washington

Protesters in Washington, DC clashed with supporters of President Donald Trump outside the White House on Thursday, a few moments before the U.S. president got on stage for his “Salute to America.”

The July Fourth celebrations in the U.S. capital wasn't short on controversy for the central role that U.S. military equipment and weapons played and the multi-million dollar cost for taxpayers.  Trump swept away any criticism of the event and said the military was "thrilled" to be part of it.   But many criticized the activity, not only for its price tag but for its praise of militarism; some calling the huge event the praise of fascism in the United States.

Donald Trump hosted the Independence Day show -- called the "Salute to America" -- featuring a speech from the Lincoln Memorial, a display of military tanks and fighter jets roaring over Washington.  Thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in the center of Washington, DC for concerts, fireworks and the address by Trump.

Many op-ed articles in newspapers and media strongly condemned Trump's decision to give a public speech and hold a military parade on the Fourth of July holidays, saying it has divided the country.

Supporters of the U.S. president said he was expressing love for the country and the military. However, Trump's critics accused him of hijacking and politicizing a traditionally non-partisan holiday and using taxpayers’ money to stage it.

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Cuba Welcomes US Pastor for Peace Defying Trump Sanctions

'Our caravans extend solidarity to the Cuban people', say the Pastors for Peace organization that annually visits the blockaded island in protest of U.S. policy.

The Pastors for Peace Caravan is preparing for their annual visit to Cuba Saturday, a visit the government is celebrating this year in particular as it comes amid new travel restrictions by the US government.

Ana Silvia Rodriguez, Cuba’s ambassador at the United Nations says the upcoming ‘Pastors for Peace Caravan’ to the island by United States religious figures sends a clear message of difiance to the current U.S. administration that Cuba and religious protesters won't accept its hostile policies.

Pastors for Peace have been visiting the island since 1992, often delivering medical and other supplies that have been able to enter the island due to the nearly 60-year U.S. blockade. This year, the pastors say: “Our caravans extend solidarity to the Cuban people.” Starting Saturday, participants will visit Havana and the Cienfuegos region where they will “explore how the Cuban people are moving forward in healthcare, organic farming, sustainable tourism, the diversity of religious expression in Cuba, and Cuba’s efforts to tackle legacies of racism, sexism, homophobia, and more.”

Since the religious caravan began nearly 30 years ago, the visit has been an act of ‘civil disobedience’, according to organizers who protest who are against U.S. policy that has long-prohibited its citizens from traveling to the island nation.

Participants in the tour that has now helped thousands of U.S. citizens see first-hand the daily life of Cubans, will, this year, be able to see how increased santions on Cuba by the President Donald Trump administration are affecting average people there.

The new restrictions include a ban on cruise tour ships moving between the U.S. and Cuba, which is affecting the island's travel and tourism that it is economically depends on. The restrictions also include cracking down on ‘educational trips,’ like the pastors caravan.

Minister Rodriguez criticized the administration's newest restrictions, suggesting Trump and his cabinet "are afraid that people from the U.S. will learn the true reality of my country."

  • Published in Cuba

Helms-Burton Law Threatens Peace, Cuban President Warns


Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel has warned the Helms-Burton Act threatens peace, solidarity, peaceful coexistence and friendship.

'It's a law enacted to neo-colonize and enslave,' he further wrote in Twitter about Washington's barring the Peace Boat from docking in Cuban ports, as a result of restrictions recently enforced on US private vessels and planes.

Due to such punitive measures that are hurting the Cuban people, the NGO Peace Boat, with headquarters in Japan, won't be able to touch Cuban land as it was scheduled next June 13 because the vessel is US property.

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The cruise ship was reportedly carrying donations given by the Cuban community living in Japan and by Japanese individuals and organizations for the victims of the killer tornado that violently hit municipalities of Havana on January 27.

The peace-promoting NGO has visited Cuba 19 times as part of its itinerary around the world, carrying a message of peace, love and against nuclear weapons.

The Peace Boat came to the island twice last year, and its members participated at a forum dedicated to Cuban historical leader Fidel Castro and paid homage to the thousands of victims the two US atomic attacks caused in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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London's Mayor Sadiq Khan Compares Trump to 'The Fascists of the 20th Century'

U.S. President Donald Trump is stirring controversy ahead of his state visit to the United Kingdom this week by throwing his political weight behind Brexit and hand picking a successor for Prime Minister Theresa May who announced she will resign in the coming weeks.

In an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper ahead of his state visit to Britain starting Monday, Trump said the next British leader should send arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage to conduct talks with the EU.

Trump said Britain must leave the EU this year.

“They've got to get it done,” he said. “They have got to get the deal closed.”

“If they don’t get what they want, I would walk away. If you don’t get a fair deal, you walk away.”

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, compared the language used by Trump to that of “the fascists of the 20th century.” Khan published an editorial in the Sunday Observer entitled, "It’s un-British to roll out the red carpet for Donald Trump," in which he chastised Trump for what he sees as the president's embrace of white nationalism and urged outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May to publicly condemn the U.S. president.

Trump repeated his backing for those candidates to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May who have said Britain must leave on the due date of Oct. 31 with or without a deal.

Those candidates include former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, whom Trump praised in an interview with the Sun newspaper on Friday, along with former Brexit minister Dominic Raab and interior minister Sajid Javid.

Trump also said it was a mistake for the Conservatives not to involve Farage, the Brexit Party leader, in negotiations with Brussels after his success in European Parliament elections last month.

“I like Nigel a lot. He has a lot to offer - he is a very smart person,” Trump said. “They won’t bring him in but think how well they would do if they did. They just haven't figured that out yet.”

On the Brexit divorce bill, Trump said: “If I were them, I wouldn’t pay 50 billion dollars. That is a tremendous number.”

Trump also said he would have “to know” veteran Socialist Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn before authorising U.S. intelligence to share its most sensitive secrets with a hard-left government.

He warned British ministers they must be careful not to jeopardize intelligence-sharing by letting Chinese firm Huawei Technologies Co Ltd into Britain’s new 5G mobile phone network.

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