Trump to deploy heavily armed Border Patrol tactical units in sanctuary cities

Washington, February 17 (RHC)-- In a move that appears destined to escalate tension between the White House and opponents, President Donald Trump is reportedly deploying Customs and Border Protection tactical units across sanctuary cities in the U.S. to assist with arrests of undocumented people—despite warnings from critics and rights advocates.

The New York Times reported on the plan, citing an official who received an e-mail describing the weekend deployment who read the text to reporters over the phone.  CBP spokesman Lawrence Payne confirmed the details.
“These are the bad times,” data researcher Michael Caley tweeted of the report.

According to the Times, agents from the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) will spread across the country to cities like New York, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, New Orleans, and Newark, N.J. to work alongside Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to arrest people allegedly in the country illegally.

As the Times reported: With additional gear such as stun grenades and enhanced Special Forces-type training, including sniper certification, the officers typically conduct high-risk operations targeting individuals who are known to be violent, many of them with extensive criminal records.

The unit’s work often takes place in the most rugged and swelteringly hot areas of the border. It can involve breaking into stash houses maintained by smuggling operations that are known to be filled with drugs and weapons.

“I have read this article multiple times,” National Immigration Forum Ali Noorani said. “It is unbelievable how much this action will undermine public safety.  Unbelievable.”  The potential for violence is high, former CBP commissioner Gil Kerlikowske told the Times, calling the deployment “a significant mistake.”

“If you were a police chief and you were going to make an apprehension for a relatively minor offense, you don’t send the SWAT team,” said Kerlikowske.  “And BORTAC is the SWAT team.  They’re trained for much more hazardous missions than this.”

Trump has long railed against sanctuary cities for resisting his racist immigration policies and providing safe havens for the victims of ICE and CBP.  The president’s deployment of tactical units to the cities is the lastest move by the White House against his political adversaries, tweeted Cecilia Muñoz, vice president of the think tank New America.

“Officers trained in SWAT team tactics, sent to help with run-of-the-mill immigration arrests in major cities far from the border,” said Muñoz.  “Trump is using military-style tactics because he has a political beef with cities whose policies he doesn’t like.”

Progressives reacted with shock and alarm at the intensification of Trump’s already draconian immigration policies provided by the addition of the heavily armed BORTAC units.

“Straight up Nazi shit,” tweeted Indivisible director of democracy policy Meagan Hatcher-Mays. 

Edited by Ed Newman

  • Published in World

Afghanistan: How Many People Must Die For Trump To End The War

More than 2,000 people have died from combat during the U.S. 'reconstruction' of Afghanistan.

While U.S. President Donald Trump claims that the end of the war in Afghanistan is near, without making any real decision to do so, a recent report shows that more than 2,000 people died from combat during the U.S. 'reconstruction' of the Asian nation.

RELATED: US Deceived Public on War in Afghanistan: Documents Reveal

The reconstruction and stabilization missions carried out by the United States on Afghan territory have caused more than 2,200 deaths and more than 2,900 injuries from 17 April 2002 to 31 December 2018, according to a report by the Special General Inspectorate for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (SIGAR).

Also, of the total number of deaths, 1,578 were Afghans, 284 were U.S citizens, another 100 were military personnel from international coalition countries and 124 were third-country nationals.

According to SIGAR, another 1,182 people were kidnaped or are missing, most of whom are also Afghan nationals (1,004 people).

These figures are in addition to casualties in actual fighting with the Taliban and other militant groups, in re-supply missions or attacks on the Afghan government and military forces, and others not related to "reconstruction" activities.

In his triumphalist State of the Union speech on February 4, Trump spoke of ending the longest war in U.S. history and said that the U.S. military has made progress in Afghanistan and peace negotiations with the Taliban militant group are underway. But facts point to another direction.

The U.S. still has approximately 13,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and has not made any decision to return them to the U.S.

The U.S. pretext for starting a war against Afghanistan was to capture and kill the leader of the Islamist group al-Qaeda, responsible for the attack on the Twin Towers in New York, on September 11, 2001, where almost 3,000 people died.

However, although the terrorist Bin Laden was found in Pakistan and killed in the year 2011, U.S. troops and their NATO allies maintained the lost fight against the resurgence of the Taliban.

The U.S. President promised a withdrawal during the 2016 election campaign, only to give in publicly to pressure from the Washington establishment. And this time the empty words are repeated, in a clear attempt to get him re-elected next November.
Trump is the one who dictates the foreign policy of the United States. In one fell swoop, every American soldier now on Afghan soil can return home. How many more flag-wrapped coffins must return from Afghanistan before Trump stops delaying the inevitable?
  • Published in World

Trump Puts More Pressure on Cuba, Targets Cuban Doctors Program

The campaign against the doctors aims to strangle the revenue they bring in, much of which goes into Cuba’s health and social services, according to analysts.

Donald Trump’s administration is targeting the Cuban medical program that has helped some of the most impoverished communities worldwide, in a bid to exert more pressure on Cuba’s economy, according to a report published Tuesday by the Guardian.

RELATED:

Cuban Doctors Arrested, Harassed In Bolivia Return Home Safely

Washington is using a whole host of allegations to thwart the program. It has been accusing Havana of undermining democracy and interfering in the internal affairs of the countries where the doctors operate.

Among other allegations, the U.S. claims that the Cuban government is “exploiting” the medical staff deployed on the missions.

Officials in Cuba, backed by analysts who studied the work of the medical missions, retort that the U.S. is using this claim to enforce further its policy of asphyxiating Cuba’s economy in the hope of bringing down its regime.

The campaign against the doctors, which includes attempts to convince them to defect, is little more than an effort to strangle the amount of foreign revenue that they bring in, much of which put back into Cuba’s health and social services, the Guardian cited critics as saying.

“The [U.S. policy] is targeting the two main sources of external income for Cuba, first tourism and now medical services,” explained Pavel Vidal Alejandro, a Cuban-born academic at the Xavierian University in Colombia.

RELATED:

Bolivians in Poor Communities Suffer Lack of Healthcare

“Medical services represent around 60% of Cuba’s total foreign income. It’s the old policy of applying a high-pressure cooker strategy in the hope it will produce social protests. That didn’t happen in the past and is not happening now.”

U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo is leading the campaign against the Cuban program. He has described the presence of Cuban doctors in countries from Venezuela to Brazil and Ecuador as a “sinister” interference in their affairs and praised countries like Bolivia that have expelled them.

Recent political changes in Latin America exacerbated Washington’s campaign against the Cuban doctors, leading to the withdrawal of the missions from several countries, including Bolivia, Brazil, and Ecuador, where far-right regimes aligned with Trump took over left-wing governments. The departure of Cuban doctors from these countries saw severe consequences for the most vulnerable populations.

USAID, the leading U.S. development agency, has also played an important role, offering to fund organizations to expose negative aspects of the Cuban scheme.

The program is known as “Cuban doctors” was founded more than 50 years ago after Fidel Castro’s revolution. It is currently active in over 60 countries.

It has provided healthcare across the globe, from indigenous Amazon peoples to impoverished areas in Africa to the victims of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.

  • Published in Cuba

Trump Wants US To Be World's Most Powerful Nuclear Force

"We have the super-fast missiles — tremendous number of the super-fast. We call them 'super-fast,' where they’re four, five, six, and even seven times faster than an ordinary missile", Trump noted.

U.S. President Donald Trump stated at a White House Business Session with governors on Monday that he is seeking to make the U.S. the world's most powerful nuclear force. Trump's comments come just a few months after he abandoned the arms control treaties with Russia and China, something that was widely criticized across the world.

RELATED: 109 US Troops Suffer Traumatic Brain Injury After Iran Attack

"Now, at the same time, Russia and China both want to negotiate with us to stop this craziness of spending billions and billions of dollars on nuclear weapons", Trump said. 

However, Trump was not sold, stating that he was intending to "create, by far, the strongest nuclear force anywhere in the world".

The U.S. President boasted that his country's armed forces currently possess "super-fast missiles", a reference to the new supersonic projectiles that have been recently developed. 

"We have the super-fast missiles — tremendous number of the super-fast. We call them 'super-fast,' where they’re four, five, six, and even seven times faster than an ordinary missile", Trump noted.

"We need that because, again, Russia has some. I won't tell you how they got it. They got it, supposedly, from plans from the Obama administration when we weren't doing it. And that’s too bad. That’s not good. But that's how it happened. And China, as you know, is doing it".

The statement by the president comes a year after Washington decided to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia and started testing new missiles operating at previously banned ranges. The US claimed that Moscow had been violating the accord by developing its 9M729 missile, which allegedly breaks the conditions of the treaty.

  • Published in World

Trump says Xi’s ‘sharp’ leadership will defeat coronavirus in U-turn on harsh anti-China rhetoric

Donald Trump says China will defeat the deadly coronavirus, thanks to its great discipline and Xi Jinping’s strong leadership, as the US president’s tone on Beijing softens following the recent signing of a new trade deal.

The two leaders discussed the outbreak of the virus, which has claimed 640 lives in China, during a phone call on Friday.

That provided the perfect grounds for an attack on Beijing, but Trump, who earlier blasted China for currency manipulation, intellectual property theft, and election meddling, was this time reluctant to take advantage of the dire health crisis in order to attack Beijing.

On the contrary the US president’s evaluation of the Chinese state and leader was a lot more positive; it follows the US-China trade war ending in January with the signing of what he called the “biggest deal there is.”

@realDonaldTrump

Just had a long and very good conversation by phone with President Xi of China. He is strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus. He feels they are doing very well, even building hospitals in a matter of only days. Nothing is easy, but...

@realDonaldTrump

....he will be successful, especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone. Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation. We are working closely with China to help!

Xi is “strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the coronavirus,” Trump tweeted in the wake of the phone call. He praised China for “great discipline” and “building hospitals in a matter of only days.”

Nothing is easy, but he [Xi] will be successful, especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone.

The US president also said that Washington was “working closely” with Beijing to help the country counter the disease.

Trump’s latest tweets again underline the discord inside his administration as his top officials maintain their harsh anti-Chinese stance despite the trade deal; one week ago US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo labeled the Chinese Communist Party, which is headed by Xi, “the central threat of our times.”

Also on rt.com Pompeo names ‘the central threat of our times’ and guess what it is… It’s the Chinese Communist Party....

Pompeo’s statement was fully in line with the National Defense Strategy (NDA), which was unveiled by the US Department of Defense two years ago and described China as “predatory,” and a “strategic competitor,” which required “increased and sustained investment” to be kept in check.

China, in turn, consistently blasted Washington for its “Cold War mentality” and “hegemonic logic.” Beijing further accused the US of interfering in its internal affairs by sending ships and warplanes close to its waters in the Pacific, as well as supporting protests in Hong Kong. In late January, it also slammed the travel warning issued by the State Department over the coronavirus outbreak as “truly mean.”

  • Published in World

Maduro: 'the US Does Not Appoint President in Venezuela'

President Nicolas Maduro slammed Trump for saying that he would crush Venezuela and its socialist project.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro Wednesday reminded Donald Trump that the president of Venezuela is chosen by the Venezuelan people and not the United States.

RELATED: Venezuela Commemorates 28th Anniversary of National Dignity Day

“In Venezuela, the president is not appointed by the U.S. president; the People choose him through elections," Maduro said and told Trump "enough of your extremist obsession!."

These statements were a reaction to the threats spilled by Trump during the State of the Union speech on Tuesday when he pretended to ignore the decision of the Bolivarian people and referred to Senator Juan Guaido as if he were interim president of the South American nation.

In his response to the U.S. president's statements, Maduro also rejected his foreign policy based on "crushing" Venezuela and recalled that the Bolivian nation continues to work for its development.​​​​​​​

"Never! Nobody crushes Venezuela. Venezuela walks forward with work, love, and perseverance. Venezuela will continue its path to prosperity and happiness with peace, freedom, and dignity,” he said.

The Bolivarian president also recalled that his country is sovereign and has the right to choose its own development model.

“We have the right to build socialism and we are going to build a new, democratic, humanist, Christian, socialism... No one will take away the right to build our own destiny,” Maduro stressed.​​​​​​​

  • Published in World

Donald Trump awards Rush Limbaugh with Medal of Freedom

Washington, February 5 (RHC)-- U.S. President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom to right-wing radio personality Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday in an unprecedented move during the State of the Union address.  First Lady Melania Trump placed the medal around the neck of Limbaugh, one day after the controversial talk show host revealed he has advanced lung cancer.

Earlier, in comments to reporters before the State of the Union address, Trump noted that Limbaugh has been a staunch ally for years and dined with him at his Palm Beach golf club over the holidays.  Once, during an event in the Rose Garden, Trump praised Rush Limbaugh as someone who "can speak for three hours without a phone call."

Trump wished the conservative radio talk show host a speedy recovery Monday after he told his audience he is beginning treatment, which will require him to miss the show some days.  

Limbaugh has been hosting "The Rush Limbaugh Show" for 31 years.  His broadcasts have been known for their sexist and racist content, openly boasting reactionary positions.

The Medal of Freedom is bestowed to "individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors," according to the White House.

People close to Trump say he personally enjoys granting his friends the nation's highest civilian honor.  He bestowed the award upon seven recipients in 2019, and several more the year prior.

Edited by Ed Newman
  • Published in World

US election: Democrats deeply divided on how to take on Trump

After hearing four Democratic presidential contenders speak in Des Moines, she still cannot decide who to support when Iowa kicks off the 2020 election with its Democratic caucuses on Monday.

As temperatures hovered around -15C in the state capital, she listened as Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar made their case to the Iowa State Education Association, part of their frantic last-minute campaigning in the Midwestern state that decides who emerges with the early momentum.

“I support all of them. I love them so much,” says Ms Rosheim, 70, who is volunteering for Ms Warren but has not committed to supporting her in the caucuses. “I really like her plans, but I also like Amy a lot. And then people tell me, ‘We gotta like Biden because he’s got name recognition and he’ll win’ . . . It’s so hard to decide.”

Ms Rosheim is not alone. Iowans are famous for not making up their minds until the last minute. A Des Moines Register/CNN poll in early January showed that only 40 per cent had picked their first choice.

As the Democrats prepare for a five-month marathon primary process to decide their candidate, the party is more united than ever on the need to beat Donald Trump. After winning the 2018 midterms by a margin of 9 percentage points, and with Mr Trump’s poll rating still historically low for a president starting his re-election campaign, many in the party hope they can harness that anti-Trump feeling to beat him despite the strong state of the economy.

But they are fiercely divided about what sort of Democrat is best-suited to take on the president, whether it is a progressive politician who can motivate the party’s base of minorities, younger voters and women, or whether they should choose a more moderate figure who can appeal to working-class whites and suburban Republicans turned off by the president’s bluster.

Audrey Baatz embodies the high level of uncertainty. Speaking at a Buttigieg rally in Emmetsburg, north-west Iowa, the independent-leaning woman is mulling over the moderates — Mr Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend in Indiana, Mr Biden and Ms Klobuchar, senator from Minnesota. But she thinks any of the leading contenders could emerge as the winner on Monday.

“The people of Iowa are just so undecided, especially in rural areas,” Ms Baatz says. “Any four or five people could win Iowa. It’s that close.”

Heidi Heitkamp, a former North Dakota Democratic senator, says voters are struggling because of the crowded field, which still boasts 11 candidates even after 16 have dropped out.

“You go to a Mayor Pete event and you go, ‘Wow I was blown away’, and then you go to Amy’s event and say, ‘Oh man she makes a lot of sense’. There’s so many people . . . active in Iowa that it makes the choice harder.”

But a majority of Iowans agree on one thing. J Ann Selzer, the Des Moines Register/CNN pollster, says 58 per cent think it is “extremely important” to pick someone who can beat Mr Trump, which Ms Heitkamp says is common. “If you ask any Democratic voter in North Dakota, their main goal would be to defeat Donald Trump.”

Judy Lentz, a Democrat at the Emmetsburg event, says she likes Mr Buttigieg but worries about his electability. “It is going to come around to who we think can beat Mr Trump,” she says. At a separate event nearby in Arnolds Park, Carolyn Brown, who is leaning towards Mr Biden, agrees that the only question is: “Who can beat Trump?”

Strengths Strong name recognition, popular among African Americans, very experienced
Weaknesses Has stumbled in debates, too establishment for some young voters
Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont

Strengths Loyal support among young voters, who consider him authentic and bold
Weaknesses Distrusted by the party elite, too extreme for some Democrats
Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts

Strengths Also strong, popular with young voters and many women who want to see a female president
Weaknesses Lost momentum after heavy criticism of her healthcare plan


Strengths The fresh face in the race, has been able to straddle moderate and progressive camps
Weaknesses Inexperience. Some more conservative Democrats may recoil at his sexuality.

Iowa is notorious for surprises. Jimmy Carter, then a little-known southern governor, came from nowhere to win the state on his way to the presidency in 1976. In 2008, Barack Obama came from far behind to beat Hillary Clinton, a result that showed he could win white voters in a rural state. Howard Dean was the frontrunner in 2004 until John Kerry sprinted ahead in the last week, knocking the former Vermont governor into third place. And four years ago, Mr Sanders stunned Mrs Clinton again by coming tantalisingly close to winning.

“Nobody has any idea,” Mr Dean stresses. “I had no idea what was going to happen when I was there.”

On the question of how each contender would fare against Mr Trump, polls show Mr Biden winning by 4 points, ahead of Mr Sanders, Ms Warren and Michael Bloomberg. Mr Buttigieg is the only top Democrat who would lose. But when it comes to Iowa Democrats, polls show they remain at odds over who should be the standard bearer.

After long being the frontrunner in Iowa and New Hampshire, which holds the first primary a week later, Mr Biden was overtaken in Iowa last summer by Ms Warren. The Massachusetts senator was then eclipsed by Mr Buttigieg, who in turn was passed by Mr Sanders, before Mr Biden returned to the top of the group. Yet in the last week, Mr Sanders has moved ahead, while Ms Klobuchar has entered double-digits for the first time in the 2020 race.

Mr Bloomberg does not register in Iowa because of his decision not to campaign in the state. But he has jumped into fourth place in national polls, propelled by tens of millions of dollars in television ads that he hopes will catapult him into contention when more than a dozen states vote on the delegate-rich Super Tuesday on March 3, when 13 states will vote.

The critical distinction is whether the candidates fall into one of two camps — moderate or progressive.

Mr Biden and Ms Klobuchar say the way to beat Mr Trump is to attack from the middle, appealing to Democrats and independents who backed him in 2016 by staking out moderate positions. But the progressives, Ms Warren and Mr Sanders, urge bold ideas, such as a fully nationalised healthcare system. They argue that a lack of radicalism helped create the conditions for Mr Trump to win since they did too little to help struggling Americans.

Speaking in Des Moines before returning to Washington for Mr Trump’s impeachment trial, Ms Warren took aim at the moderates, saying, “Some folks in our party don’t want to admit” that the US is in a “crisis” over everything from the gap between the rich and poor, the soaring cost of healthcare and high levels of student debt.
A graphic with no description

“If they think that nibbling around the edges of big problems, running some vague campaign is somehow the safe strategy, they’re wrong,” Ms Warren told a packed gymnasium at Weeks Middle School. “If all the best Democrats can offer is business as usual after Donald Trump, Democrats will lose. We win with big ideas.”

While Mr Biden has generally steered clear of attacking his rivals by name, he aired an ad saying it was “no time to take a risk” on other candidates.

Mr Dean says there are plausible arguments on both sides. “Biden is saying I’m better because I can appeal across a broader spectrum. Bernie is saying you can’t win unless you motivate the hell out of people, and Elizabeth is saying the same,” he says. “The number one criteria is who can beat Trump and nobody knows.”

Each candidate has strengths. Mr Biden resonates with white working-class Democrats who backed Mr Trump and African-Americans who remember his time as vice-president to the first black president. Mr Buttigieg, a gay, former mayor and army veteran, is the fresh face, while the folksy Ms Klobuchar touts her results-driven approach in Congress.

Ms Warren and Mr Sanders have strong appeal among younger voters, while the Massachusetts senator is also making a big pitch to women — in a push that helped her win some converts at her Des Moines event. “I came here to Iowa to support Pete Buttigieg, but I came to this town hall and she just spoke to me,” says Hailey McGuire, a high-school student. “She just radiated girl power.”

Yet all the contenders also have significant challenges. With the exception of Mr Biden, most lag far behind with black voters, which raises questions about their ability to connect with a key segment of the Democratic electorate. Mr Biden has struggled at times with fundraising, which could be a problem as expensive TV ads become important in the bigger states. He also fares less well with younger voters than the progressives.

Speaking after a Biden rally at Simpson College, Kathryn Hays, a politics student who plans to support Ms Warren in the caucus, says her generation is gravitating to Mr Sanders and Ms Warren because of their idealism. She says Mr Sanders has been “radical throughout his whole political history”, which her friend Samantha Wuebker explains is “probably why Elizabeth is also doing so well among our generation too”.

Mr Buttigieg is also competing for the same college-educated voters as Ms Warren, but has to overcome concerns about his inexperience. At one event, he also faced a common question about his “really low” support among black voters. “African American voters who know me best support me,” he said.

Ms Warren also needs to boost her support among black voters, while she and Mr Sanders must show that they can win over enough moderate Democrats to beat Mr Trump in November. Illustrating that concern, Robert Brammer, a 70-year-old who was attending a Klobuchar event in Des Moines, says he prefers Mr Sanders’ progressive ideas but will campaign for the Minnesota senator because she is more pragmatic.

As the race moves out of the predominantly white Iowa and New Hampshire into the more diverse states, an important question is who can recreate the “Obama coalition” — a grouping of white voters in the north, black voters in the south, Hispanics, millennials and women — that swept Mr Obama to the White House in 2008.

“What it is going to take to beat Trump is to get out our voters,” says Mr Dean. “Our voters are under 35, female and people of colour. All of those three groups have to be enthralled to a degree with a candidate. The problem is the Democratic candidates all speak to different people, and that is why nobody can decide.”

Kaleb Autman, a 17-year-old high-school student who came to Iowa with Mikva Challenge, a group that helps young people to become engaged in politics, will vote for the first time this year. But he worries that some of the Democrats are too focused on winning over Trump voters and not enough on expanding the party.

“They focus too much on how to get Trump’s people on our wagon . . . rather than focusing on the people who didn’t show up to vote,” he says. “If you want to win this election, you have to go for new voters.”

One of the unusual factors is that three of the top candidates — Mr Sanders, Ms Klobuchar and Ms Warren — have had to stay in Washington for much of the past two weeks because of the impeachment trial, giving an advantage to Mr Biden and Mr Buttigieg. Yet the restraints could help Ms Warren receive a boost over her fellow senators since she has one of the best on-the-ground organisations.

Iowa often has a winnowing effect on the race but the big field — the number of undecided voters, the trial-related restraints on the senators and the fact that the candidate with the most cash, Mr Bloomberg, is ignoring Iowa — means the caucuses may be even more unpredictable than ever.

“The old saying is there are three tickets out of Iowa [for the leading candidates],” says Mr Dean. “Clearly that is not true this year.”

  • Published in World
Subscribe to this RSS feed