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06 декабря, 03:34

New York City Mayor Wants Feds To Foot The Bill For Trump Tower Security

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) wants the federal government to reimburse the city for the costs of protecting President-elect Donald Trump’s residence and transition headquarters. He cites the particular challenges of securing a “highly-trafficked, dense urban environment, and one that presents an unprecedented and unique target for potential terrorist activity.” De Blasio requested $35 million to pay for the police stationed at Trump Tower in a Monday letter addressed to President Barack Obama and another to Congress. That sum would cover the period from Election Day to Trump’s inauguration. “Locating a residence within New York City that requires ongoing Presidential-level security presents unprecedented law enforcement concerns. Trump Tower is located in the heart of a prime commercial area in Manhattan,” the mayor wrote. “It is a high-density neighborhood and street traffic easily obstructs pathways to and from the building making it profoundly challenging for the NYPD to establish a secure perimeter.” Mayor de Blasio is sending a letter to Obama formally asking for reimbursement for Trump Tower security pic.twitter.com/g4VHKLzUnp— Noah Hurowitz (@NoahHurowitz) December 5, 2016 Trump Tower has long been Trump’s home base. Since his election last month, he has spent the vast majority of his time there, conducting meetings for Cabinet and staff picks and otherwise using it as a headquarters for his transition team. While Trump and his family receive Secret Service protection, the city’s police also assist in the security effort, particularly in protecting the building from the throngs of onlookers. City officials estimated that security around the building is costing city taxpayers as much as $1 million per day. “While the United States Secret Service provides an unparalleled level of personal security to the President-elect and his family, the NYPD is responsible not only for their safety, but for the security of thousands of Trump Tower residents, employees and visitors, and hundreds of thousands of people who are in Midtown at any given moment,” de Blasio wrote. During a press conference on Monday, de Blasio said he would be requesting meetings with the Obama administration and members of Congress to go over the matter in detail. He said that he had already spoken to Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s pick for Treasury secretary, to request “a real important discussion to be had on how we deal with reimbursement issues going forward.” The city’s costly responsibility will not end on Inauguration Day. Trump’s wife Melania and son Barron are expected to remain in New York until the end of the school year at least, and the president-elect has indicated that he will frequently return to Trump Tower even after moving to the White House. De Blasio ― who vocally opposed Trump’s candidacy, calling him “a blowhard” and “dangerous” ― met with the president-elect at Trump Tower a week after the election. He described the meeting as cordial, but said he told Trump that “sending a message of unity is crucial” and “tried to express to him how much fear there is” regarding some of Trump’s most prominent campaign proposals, including banning Muslim immigration and deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants. “We need to give assurance that the rights of all New Yorkers and all Americans will be respected,” de Blasio said. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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05 декабря, 22:09

Jill Stein Defends Pennsylvania Recount Efforts In Trump Tower Speech

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); NEW YORK ― Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein is pushing back against president-elect Donald Trump’s campaign to shut down her vote recount efforts. In a news conference across the street from Trump Tower, she demanded that the recount in Pennsylvania, to be filed in federal court on Monday, continue unobstructed. “This recount advances our fundamental right to vote,” she told large crowds. “These things are the bedrock of our democracy. It’s the first step toward an electoral system that is just.” “The sad reality is that the voting system in Pennsylvania is a disgrace and a disaster,” Jonathan Abady, lead counsel for Stein’s recount effort, added on Monday. The recount campaign process hit a major snag on Friday when a Pennsylvania common law court judge ordered Stein’s campaign to pay a $1 million bond to kick off the recount. Trump representatives had requested a $10 million bond. @DrJillStein: "Votes in communities of color are discouraged before they even come to the polls & in the counting of votes" #Recount2016 pic.twitter.com/sGDxomh2vs— Willa Frej (@willafrej) December 5, 2016 Stein made it clear that she’s pursuing the recount in the name of voter integrity, not necessarily a change in the result. “Whether it will change the outcome, we don’t know, and it would be unfair to raise expectations that the outcome will change. That is not our intent,” she said. “This is about ensuring that all votes get counted and that voters can trust the system going forward. We are here to assure Donald Trump that he has nothing to be afraid of.”  Stein also addressed the millions of dollars she has managed to raise through donations. Every cent is going towards the recount effort, she said, and she doesn’t believe there will be any leftover funds. Her team says it needs $9.5 million to be able to cover all recount-related fees in three states: Pennsylvania Michigan and Wisconsin.  Trump has repeatedly called the recount campaign a “scam” intended to fill Stein’s “coffers” with money: The Green Party just dropped its recount suit in Pennsylvania and is losing votes in Wisconsin recount. Just a Stein scam to raise money!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2016 He’s also accused her of not spending the majority of the funds on the recount. “We don’t need to hold bake sales on steroids to raise millions and millions of dollars, this is a constitutional right,” Stein said. “We love you, New York loves you,” one woman shouted as Stein approached the microphones. Another woman cried and nodded in agreement during the remarks. A few counter-protesters also made their presence felt, saying that Stein is a “common criminal.” They paraded around with signs saying “Jill Stein is a quack” and “Jill Stein go away.” Bonnie Keyes, a New Yorker and longtime Green Party supporter, said she attended the news conference to support Stein. “I think it’s great, it’s empowering,” she said. Election fraud is like “the rolling coup of America, it just keeps happening.” The recount submissions that Stein’s team filed in Michigan and Wisconsin also had setbacks initially. Trump’s lawyers and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette attempted to halt the initiative in that state, but Stein’s team filed a motion to begin the recount in federal court on Saturday. They were handed a “major victory” on Monday when a federal judge ordered the statewide recount to begin, according to Abady. In Wisconsin, pro-Trump Super PACs filed an order to stop the recount. A federal court struck it down on Friday. “The barrier is so extreme and so radical,” Abady said, “that we have no choice but to seek federal intervention.” -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

05 декабря, 20:30

Jill Stein charges ahead with recount efforts

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is vowing to move ahead with recount efforts in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, despite legal setbacks and growing opposition from Republicans and other Donald Trump allies in each state. "We will not give in to intimidation, to legal maneuvering, and to bureaucratic obstruction," Stein said at a press conference outside of Trump Tower on Monday. Her vow comes as Stein's campaign on Monday morning filed a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania — an attempt to revive the push there after Stein and other Pennsylvania voters dropped a state-based lawsuit to try to force a recount. They gave up on the state-based lawsuit when a judge raised the bond to $1 million, a pricetag which Stein panned as exorbitantly costly. But even as she railed against the roadblocks in Pennsylvania, Stein lauded developments in Michigan, which was set to begin its recount by noon on Monday.In the early hours of Monday morning, a federal judge ordered state officials to move forward with the recount effort, despite a lawsuit filed by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Trump supporter, to try to stop it from going forward."We're celebrating today a judicial decision last night in Michigan by Judge Mark Goldsmith, who affirmed in his decision that this recount advances our fundamental right to vote and election fairness and accuracy and that these things are the bedrock of our democracy," Stein said. Still, Stein's efforts to initiate recounts in the three states, all of which Trump narrowly won in the Nov. 8 presidential election, is being met with strong resistance, particularly from Trump's lawyers and groups aligned with the president-elect. Trump and his transition team have trashed Stein’s push as a frivolous fundraising scheme, as they also attempt to minimize Hillary Clinton's significant lead in the popular vote, which has not yet been finalized.Clinton's popular vote lead is now above 2.5 million votes, but Trump in late November declared himself — without evidence — the winner of the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”Make America Great PAC, a pro-Trump group, filed a federal lawsuit on Friday aiming to block the recount in Wisconsin. That lawsuit came after the Wisconsin Republican Party filed a Federal Election Commission complaint also aiming to block the recount there. Despite the attempts to freeze the effort, the recount is still underway in the state. But Pennsylvania remains the most difficult state of the three to pull off a recount. Trump's lawyers on Thursday introduced a motion to block the effort there, but Stein is hoping the new federal lawsuit and a separate effort to pull off a county-by-county recount in the state will be successful.At the press conference on Monday, Stein said she was aware of the obstacles she's facing. "In Pennsylvania, unfortunately, the court system and the election system is politically entrenched and has been fighting this process at every step," Stein said. "For example the Trump campaign has filed now to call for 27,000 affadavits in 9,000 voting precincts in order to verify the vote, in order to proceed with a recount in any precinct. This is an absolutely ridiculous and obscene form of bureaucratic obstruction. In addition, a million dollar bond was going to be imposed on 100 votes who are calling for a statewide recount. Add to that the court date was being advanced to a time by which it would be impossible to provide the evidence at that court date." Critics argue that Stein is pushing recounts in those three states to flip the election for Clinton, but Stein, as she argued at the press conference Monday, has said that the recounts are meant to satiate any lingering concerns about the 2016 election results and that even Trump should support them. "So we are here to assure Donald Trump that there is nothing to be afraid of if you believe in democracy, if you believe in the credibility of your victory. Put down your arms. End your bureaucratic obstruction," Stein said. "End your intimidation and join we the people of America who are calling for a democracy that serves all of us and elections that we can trust."

05 декабря, 19:43

Reality Check: Trump's Taiwan Call Was a Step Toward Balanced Relations

Dan Blumenthal, Randall Schriver Politics, Asia Higher-level engagement with Taiwan serves U.S. national interests and values. President-elect Donald Trump’s telephone conversation with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan was a good first step toward rebalancing a trilateral China-Taiwan-U.S. relationship that has been increasingly defined by the People’s Republic of China. This trend does not favor U.S. interests in peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait: it will lead to either the successful Chinese coercion of Taiwan and thus forced unification, or to Taiwan lashing out. The “chat heard around the world” is consistent with U.S. cross-Strait policy as defined by three joint communiques with China, the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances that President Ronald Reagan provided to Republic of China president Chiang Ching-kuo. While Trump and Tsai merely engaged in a courtesy call, higher-level engagement with Taiwan serves U.S. national interests and values. Let’s begin with the latter. The democratically elected leader of a longstanding U.S. friend deserves the opportunity to congratulate the president-elect, and much more. Since Tsai’s election in March 2016, Beijing ramped up its campaign of isolating and intimidating the island. Beijing will not engage in talks with her while squeezing Taiwan diplomatically. It has been trying to keep Taiwan out of every international institution that Taiwan has a right to join, from the World Health Organization to International Civil Aviation Organization. And Taiwan has to live with thousands of missiles aimed at it, daily coercive cyber attacks and the constant threat of Chinese uses of naval power menacing Taiwan’s economic lifelines. In this context, a phone call between Tsai and Trump is a very modest step toward providing Taiwan with some measure of dignity, respect and reassurance. The United States has moral obligations to a successful democracy of twenty-three million people that has now experienced three peaceful transitions of power. Indeed, though the Taiwan relationship impinges upon important geopolitical considerations that must be adequately addressed, U.S. Taiwan policy should be embedded in a broader human-rights policy. The United States should do much more to enhance Taiwan’s sense of dignity and help amplify its role as a model of peaceful democratic transition and consolidation. Read full article

05 декабря, 18:22


FASCISM IS ALWAYS DESCENDING ON THE UNITED STATES, BUT ALWAYS LANDS… ANYWHERE ELSE: Two movies China desperately wants to hide. This week, two extraordinary Canadian films — one a chilling documentary, the other a riveting drama based on its findings — were released for sale on iTunes. … The documentary, “Human Harvest,” won the coveted […]

05 декабря, 18:16

A Message to President-Elect Trump

This month, I thought I would be writing about presenting an agenda to President-elect Clinton's transition team, with our suggestions for a plan to end breast cancer. As a staunch supporter of the National Breast Cancer Coalition's (NBCC) mission for so many years, Hillary Clinton would have been our partner in implementing such a plan, with the ultimate goal to save lives. Instead, we are now faced with much uncertainty. We do not know what a Trump Administration will do about our issue. What we have seen thus far from President-elect Trump concerns us. His choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services has spent his career opposing the Affordable Care Act. He has proposed to slash Medicare and Medicaid. What will that mean for women and men with and at risk of breast cancer? We do not know if women will have access to the care they need. We do not know if drugs will be more or less affordable, or if science will continue to be respected and advanced. What we do know is this: regardless of who is in the White House, the Senate or the House, women and men continue to die of breast cancer around the world. This year in the U.S. alone, 246,660 women and 2,600 men will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and we will lose more than 40,000 women (and 450 men) to this disease. Worldwide, more than 522,000 women will die from breast cancer this year, and the WHO estimates that at the present rate of progress, in 2035, 840,000 women will die. Another thing about breast cancer - as with all diseases, it's nonpartisan. While policy makers debate whether the Affordable Care Act should be eliminated or if discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions should be allowed, or significant cuts to Medicaid implemented, any woman with limited income or a history of breast cancer will be fighting an uphill battle to get the care she needs. Regardless, no matter their political party, religion, race or economic status, all women deserve a President who is committed to ending breast cancer. So, I send this message to President-elect Trump: you said "Together we can save American JOBS, American LIVES, and AMERICAN FUTURES!" Well, let's do it. We need to work together to save lives and end breast cancer. We need to work together for a future where women and men do not get breast cancer, or die of it. You said nobody has more respect for women than you do. Respect us enough to embrace the tough work we need to do to end breast cancer. You said that nobody knows the system better than you. Then fix the system so that well funded research will focus on ending breast cancer for men and women forever. All who care about breast cancer must send these messages to Donald Trump: 1) Ensure that every woman and man in the U.S. with and at risk of breast cancer has affordable access to quality health care - regardless of ability to pay. We need policies and laws to assure that no one can withhold coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. 2) Support NBCC's Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® - a plan of action to know how to end breast cancer. We need the Trump Administration's 100% support. 3) Provide significant federal funding for focused, strategic research for rapid progress and policies that support unbiased science. Mr. Trump, you need to be a leader on this issue. 4) Assure that educated and trained advocates who represent this constituency are at the table whenever decisions are made in public policy and in setting research agendas. The incoming Administration needs to understand and embrace this approach. The heart and soul of NBCC is the passion and commitment of many thousands of dedicated advocates across the country, women and men who have no expectation of reward other than the end of breast cancer. The new Administration's vocal and policy support for an innovative approach to ending breast cancer and its recognition of the power of grassroots advocacy can help fuel these ongoing efforts. They will be vital to reaching the Deadline and, ultimately, the end of breast cancer. We need the leaders of this nation to safeguard our investment, and the progress we have made so far. We need our President to step up and guarantee real access to quality health care for all. Mr. Trump, if you share our goal to end breast cancer and our approach to get there, we are ready to work with you. Ending breast cancer would truly be a GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT!! And women's lives depend on it. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

05 декабря, 17:33

Boeing/Lockheed JV Unit Secures $269M Air Force Contract

United Launch Services, a subsidiary of a Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) and The Boeing Co. (BA) JV, United Launch Alliance, has won a modification contract from the U.S. Air Force for launch vehicle production services.

05 декабря, 17:23

Sun Life Financial (SLF) and its Units Rated by A.M. Best

Sun Life Financial Inc. (SLF) and its affiliates recently received rating action from credit rating giant, A.M. Best.

05 декабря, 17:12

Universal Technical Strong on Trump Win & Q4: Time to Buy?

On Dec 5, we issued an updated research report on Universal Technical Institute, Inc. (UTI) ??? a leading provider of technical education training in the U.S.

05 декабря, 17:02

Aflac and its Units Get Rating Affirmation from A.M Best

Aflac Incorporated (AFL) and its affiliates recently received rating action from credit rating giant, A.M. Best.

05 декабря, 13:00

Are Jews White?

Trump's election has reopened questions that have long seemed settled in America—including the acceptability of open discrimination against minority groups.

05 декабря, 12:50

The 'Civilian Control of the Military' Fallacy

Retired officers like James Mattis who are nominated for civilian posts should be judged on their merits—not disqualified on the basis of their past service.

05 декабря, 06:25

Christmas Trees Are Dying From Drought

For 23 years, Curtis Abbott and his family have been growing and selling Christmas trees on their farm in the town of Charlton, Massachusetts. Photos from previous harvests show picture-perfect trees — towering evergreens with sturdy branches dusted with white snow. But this year, Abbott Tree Farm has shared no photographs. Instead, a couple of days before Thanksgiving, the farm posted an unexpected message on Facebook: “Sorry we are closed.” Drought, said Abbott, had forced the farm to shutter its doors this year — only the second time it’s done so in over two decades. “We feel it would be best to keep the farm closed,” he wrote on Nov. 22. Massachusetts has been plagued by drought for months. As of last week, more than 60 percent of the state was suffering severe drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The dry weather has wreaked havoc on the state’s wildlife, water and vegetation.  But it’s not just the Bay State that’s parched. Swathes of the country, including parts of the south and southeast, have been impacted by drought since the summer.  The nation’s farmers have been especially hard hit by the dry spell. Crops have failed, livestock has had to be sold and farmers like Abbott have been struggling to keep the iconic Christmas tree ― typically spruces, pines and firs ― alive. In Alabama, ravaged by the “worst drought in memory,” Christmas tree farms “throughout the state are realizing they have no trees available this year,” farmer Roger Schwerman told The Huffington Post last week. Christmas tree farms in Tennessee are opening later in the season because of drought and in statesfrom Florida to New York, farmers have complained of dead seedlings, stunted growth and Christmas trees that are “stressed” and unusually dry. “This is not normal. This is drought damage. You can see the needles falling off,” Mark Harnett, owner of Mistletoe Christmas Tree Farm in Stow, Mass., told WFXT-TV in November, pointing to one of his yellowing trees. “It’s not very healthy. It’s not doing well.” Fortunately for Christmas tree shoppers, the drought will likely not impact this year’s supply of festive conifers. Even in the driest states, there will likely be enough trees to go around ― though some may be drier and less robust than in previous years. Christmas trees are hardy plants and are usually only sold when they are eight to 10 years old. It’s the younger trees that tend to be the most susceptible to drought. Because of this, however, farmers warn that the future of the Christmas tree is less assured. Many farms across the country reported losing a significant chunk of their seedlings or young trees this year due to drought. This could mean weaker harvests in the years to come, threatening a quintessential part of a billion-dollar industry. “This year’s drought will have a long-lasting effect,” said Schwerman, whose own trees have been left dehydrated by the dry weather. “It might drive many farms out of the tree business.” Schwerman’s Christmas tree farm is the oldest in Alabama, originally established in the 1970s. Schwerman and his family purchased the farm in 2002. In the years since, the farm, located in Laceys Spring, has endured spells of drought but none has been nearly “as severe or widespread” as this year’s, Schwerman said.  The entire state of Alabama is currently suffering drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, with more than 80 percent of the state in extreme or exceptional drought. The dry weather has desiccated parts of Schwerman’s farm. Most of his mature trees have not grown an inch this year, he said, while many of his young plants have “dried up” completely. “Two years ago, with plenty of water and perfect conditions, [the trees] went up eight, nine inches. This year, they did not grow at all. In fact we can see them over there and they are the same height they were last year,” Schwerman told WAAY-TV. Stunted growth of Christmas trees is a phenomenon that’s been reported across many drought-stricken states. In New York, farmer Suzanne Stoke said that some of her trees had lost about four to eight inches in height. “A tree we thought would be seven foot this year may only be six and a half foot this year,” she told WHEC-TV. Young Ones Dying En Masse A Christmas tree is most vulnerable to drought or other weather changes when it’s 1 or 2 years old, said Bert Cregg, a horticulture expert at Michigan State University. “This is because the new transplants are still establishing their roots systems and their roots do not extend very deep into the soil,” he told HuffPost. In Massachusetts, a 100 percent failure rate of Christmas tree seedings has been reported, and other states have seen similarly grim numbers.   Austin Ayers, a lifelong Christmas tree farmer in Johnson City, Tennessee, told WJHL-TV that 75 percent of the seedlings he’d planted this spring had died.  Ayers said he’d “never seen a year this dry.”  In New Hampshire, farmer David Wheeler said the state’s severe drought had wiped out a year’s worth of seedlings. “Everything we planted this year died,” he told WMUR-TV. Future Harvests Uncertain Farmers say they don’t yet know how this year’s drought will threaten future harvests, but they worry that impacts could be felt for years to come.  “Farmers are going to have to take measures in the future because seedlings that were planted this spring, which would grow and be sold, did come in very poorly,” John Lebeaux, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, told the Boston Globe last week.  In North Carolina, 2016’s drought and wildfires could “threaten” next year’s Christmas tree crop, reported WRAL-TV. The state’s Christmas tree industry is valued at $134 million, making it the country’s second-largest producer of the festive trees. But according to Cregg, the outlook may not be so dire. The rains just have to fall ― and keep falling.  “Since Christmas trees are grown on an 8 to 10 year cycle and growers have the ability to adjust their inventories over time, they can re-plant young transplants that were killed this year,” Cregg said in an email. “As long as this year’s severe weather is not repeated in the next couple of years, it’s unlikely to have a major impact on future supplies.” Climate change, however, promises to bring more frequent and intense extreme weather events ― including drought and wildfires ― to the United States in the coming years. “One of the most likely impacts of climate change on tree crops in the near future will be late frosts ― as ironic as that may seem,” said Cregg. “As temperatures begin to warm earlier in the spring, trees will begin to break bud earlier and then are susceptible to damage from freezing weather.” In 2012, for instance, the eastern half of the U.S. experienced the warmest March on record followed by an unusually cold April marked by a series of freezes. Cherry, apple and peach crops were destroyed that spring, said Cregg. “This weather cycle also severely impacted new growth on many Christmas tree species.” Stressed Trees Mean Fire Hazards If you’re going out to buy a real Christmas tree in a state that’s suffering from drought, be aware that the trees may be “stressed,” said Leo Collins, the owner of Bluebird Christmas Tree Farms in Heiskell, Tennessee. “They’re still green, they’re still shaped fine, they look good in the field, but we know they’re stressed,” he told WATE-TV. This means the trees may not remain fresh for as long as previous years and may also be drier than usual.  To check if a tree is dry, pull back its needles, said North Carolina farmer Julian Howell. “If you get a handful, you’ve got a dry tree,” he told WTVD-TV.  Keep your tree well hydrated by keeping enough water in your tree stand. Also ensure that your Christmas lights bear the certification mark of an accredited safety certification organization such as UL, CSA International, or ELT; and keep your tree a good distance away from heat sources, including fireplaces and candles.  The American Red Cross has published a list of holiday fire safety guidelines. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, heat sources cause 1 in every 4 Christmas tree fires.  type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related... + articlesList=5812b8fee4b0990edc303fb7,5822b97fe4b0aac624883f9d,582ab3e4e4b0c4b63b0e5577,58137580e4b0990edc30ac44,582214dfe4b0d9ce6fbf0bcc,57fb3f81e4b068ecb5dfd8b5 -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

04 декабря, 18:30

MEGAN MCARDLE: The Left’s Doomed Effort to Coerce the Right. Over the last few years, as controv…

MEGAN MCARDLE: The Left’s Doomed Effort to Coerce the Right. Over the last few years, as controversies have erupted over the rights of cake bakers and pizza places to refuse to cater gay weddings, the rights of nuns to refuse to provide insurance that covers birth control, the rights of Catholic hospitals to refuse to […]

04 декабря, 15:17

Why Raul Castro Is Happy Fidel Is Gone

Until his older brother died, he couldn’t become the leader he has always wanted to be. I know. I’ve watched them for decades.

04 декабря, 06:11

Donald Trump Talks to Taiwan: What Happens Next?

Walter Lohman Security, Asia Building on Trump’s phone call, the incoming administration should review the range of restrictions on interaction between the two countries with any eye to loosening them. The transition team has announced that President-elect Donald Trump spoke by phone with the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen Friday. Not only is there nothing wrong with this, it could be a sign of good things to come in America’s Taiwan policy. U.S.-Taiwan relations operate under a number of restrictions derived from the three communiques with China that form the basis of America’s one China policy. Some of them are a necessary part of honoring America’s decision in 1979 to formally recognize the People’s Republic of China. Many are not. The restrictions range from the symbolic, yet seemingly arbitrary–like the circumstances under which Taiwan’s Washington representative is permitted to use its historic residence, Twin Oaks, or display its flag–to more critical areas, like interaction between U.S. and Taiwanese military officers. Building on Trump’s phone call, the incoming administration should review the range of restrictions on interaction between the two countries with any eye to loosening them. This is an idea that serious people, albeit good friends of Taiwan, have long given serious thought. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, have introduced legislation to get directly at this red tape, as did the Senate version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. There are other, more pressing issues at stake in U.S.-Taiwan relations. Helping Taiwan get new submarines and fighter jets, for instance, should be a priority. Reiterating the centrality of the Taiwan Relations Act and the “six assurances” that President Reagan gave to Taiwan in 1982 is important. We also need to find ways to expand Taiwan’s membership in international organizations, a perennial concern of Congress. Read full article

03 декабря, 18:55

Weekend Reading: Abraham Lincoln: State of the Union Address (December 3, 1861)

**Abraham Lincoln:** [State of the Union Address](http://www.infoplease.com/t/hist/state-of-the-union/73.html): "Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives... >In the midst of unprecedented political troubles we have cause of great gratitude to God for unusual good health and most abundant harvests. [State of the Union Address]: http://www.infoplease.com/t/hist/state-of-the-union/73.html >You will not be surprised to...

03 декабря, 11:53

Duterte Says Trump Wished His Drug Crackdown 'Success'

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Donald Trump wished his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs would succeed during a telephone call, and he assured the Philippines would maintain ties with America.

03 декабря, 09:58

Duterte says Trump wished his drug crackdown ‘success’

President Rodrigo Duterte said Saturday Donald Trump wished his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs would succeed during a telephone call, and he assured the U.S. president-elect the Philippines would maintain its ties with America — a departure from Duterte’s hostility toward the Obama administration.

03 декабря, 05:00

How a Russian spy outfoxed the British in 19th century Afghanistan

In the first few decades of the 19th century, the Russian and British Empires were increasingly on a collision course. While the former was expanding southwards into Central Asia, the latter already had a strong presence in India, and it was just Afghanistan that would be a buffer state between the two empires.  Fearful of each other, Russia and Britain were each eager to at least have a friendly regime in Afghanistan. This political and diplomatic confrontation between the two empires is referred to as ‘The Tournament of Shadows’ in Russia and ‘The Great Game’ in the West.  The first major move in the diplomatic chess match was made in 1831 by Alexander Burnes, a 26-year old Scottish explorer who travelled on his own from India to Afghanistan and onwards to Bukhara. How Leo Tolstoy supported anti-imperialist movements in Asia His 1835 book ‘Travels into Bukhara’ is a fascinating account of what was then one of the most dangerous and least-explored places on earth. Burnes, who later became a British political agent in Afghanistan, also managed to initiate a dialogue with Afghan Emir Dost Mohammed Khan. The same year that Burnes published his book, a young Russian army officer who was exiled in Orenburg (near the Kazakhstan border) was also preparing to go to Central Asia. Ivan (Jan) Viktorovich Vitkevich, then a 27-year old sergeant, was already fluent in Russian, English, German, French, and Polish, as well as Persian and Pashto. While travelling to Bukhara via Kazakhstan, he met Hussein Ali, an envoy of Dost Mohammed Khan. This would be the beginning of an illustrious yet brief Afghanistan-related career for Vitkevich. Weary of British designs on his country, the Afghan Emir had sent Ali to meet the Russian Tsar. Vitkevich took the Afghan envoy to Orenburg and then to the imperial capital of St. Petersburg. He served as an interpreter and helped the Russian government get valuable insights into the political situation in Afghanistan. Rival spies in Afghanistan Vitkevich was asked in 1837 to go on a secret diplomatic mission to Kabul. The British managed to get wind of the Russian’s mission when Vitkevich accidentally ran into a British political agent in Persian (Iran). This came with suspicions that Russia was encouraging the Persians to attack western Afghanistan. A portrait of Ivan (Jan) Vitkevich dressed in traditional Central Asian attire. Source: wikipedia.org The two great travellers, Vitkevich and Burnes met in Kabul over Christmas dinner in 1837. “The Russian’s arrival terrified the British,” filmmaker and politician Rory Stewart said in a documentary titled ‘Afghanistan: The Great Game.’ “They became, in turn, very suspicious of Russia’s ambitions in this country. And this mutual paranoia led to more and more foreign intelligence operations around Afghanistan, with rival officers like Vitkevich and Burnes sending back countless reports on each others’ activities.” Over the next few months, in addition to sending comprehensive reports on the British activities in Afghanistan, Vitkevich also managed to befriend Dost Mohammed Khan and blended in with ease in the country. Such was his reputation that the British paranoia towards Russia grew to unparalleled levels. “Whenever the British saw a Russian painter turn up in the city, a Russian hunter turn up on the Frontier, they would immediately assume that this was a double game of espionage,” Stewart said in the documentary. “It was these fears and suspicions of empires that were to turn Afghanistan into a battleground.” Return to Russia It was clear by the end of Vitkevich’s time in Kabul that he managed to win over the Emir’s trust. Historical accounts state that Dost Mohammed Khan was able to extract assurances of Russian support if the British did invade Afghanistan.  Such assurances never came to fruition when the First Anglo-Afghan War took place in 1839, although the British gains in the conflict were short-lived and came at a great human cost. 5 examples of the Soviet love affair with Castro’s Cuba British protests about Vitkevich role in Afghanistan led to St. Petersburg withdrawing the officer.  He reached the Russian capital in May 1839 and was largely satisfied with the success of his mission in Afghanistan. However, a week after his return to St. Petersburg, he was found shot dead in his hotel room. A pistol and burned papers were found by his side. His death was ruled a suicide but many historians believe he was assassinated. “Nothing about Ivan Viktorovich Vitkevich’s notably Dostoyevskian death made much sense, and almost from the moment the body was discovered, the mysterious end of Russia’s first agent of The Great Game became the subject of speculation,” historian William Dalrymple wrote in his book ‘The Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan.’  The British suspected the Russian government of killing Vitkevich, despite the fact that he outmaneuvered Burnes in Afghanistan. Russian historians have placed the blame on the British. “For many Russian observers, however, the mysterious death couple with the disappearance of Vitkevich’s Afghan papers bore all the hallmarks of British foul play,” Dalrymple wrote. “After all, Vitkevich’s papers contained details of the British intelligence and news-writing networks in Central Asia that he had successfully penetrated.” Burnes was murdered by a mob in Kabul in 1841.  Vitkevich’s life was the inspiration for several Russian books such as Yulian Semyonov’s ‘The Diplomatic Agent’ and Mikhail Gus’s ‘Duel at Kabul.’ He is also the prototype of the leading character in the Soviet film ‘Service to the Homeland,’ which was produced in 1981. However, unlike Alexander Burnes, whose legacy is celebrated in Britain, Ivan Vitkevich is largely forgotten in 21st century Russia.  Read more: Badaber uprising: When Russian POWs took on the Pakistani army and the CIA