U.K. to Trigger Brexit March 29, Starting Two Years of Talks(Source Bloomberg)Prime Minister Theresa May will file divorce papers to leave the European Union on March 29, launching two years of complex negotiations that will pit the U.K.’s desire for a trade deal against the bloc’s view that Britain must not benefit from Brexit. At stake in the looming talks is whether Britain — the world’s sixth biggest economy — can regain powers over immigration and lawmaking without derailing trade with its largest market or threatening London’s status as the region’s leading financial center. England’s 310-year-old union with HYPERLINK “https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-20/a-toxic-legacy-hangs-over-scotland-s-brexit-war” \o “A Toxic Legacy Hangs Over Scotland’s Brexit War With Theresa May” \t “_blank” Scotland is also in jeopardy, while the border separating Northern Ireland — a U.K. province — from the Republic of Ireland could become a hard one. “I want to ensure we get the best possible deal for the United Kingdom,” May said during a visit to Swansea, Wales. The premier said her goals included getting “a good free-trade deal” with the EU and an agreement to collaborate on security after Brexit. “We are going to be out there, negotiating hard, delivering on what the British people voted for,” she said.
EU Finance Chiefs Distance Themselves From Trump, G-20 on Trade (Source Bloomberg) European Union finance chiefs expressed fear that some governments are trending toward protectionism as they distanced themselves from President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy stance and the Group of 20 nation’s watered-down declaration on free trade. “The G-20 was unfortunately a disappointing meeting because the promise we have given each other in the past is now being taken away by the new U.S. administration,” Danish Finance Minister Kristian Jensen told reporters on Tuesday on the way into talks in Brussels. “I’m quite concerned that we need to fight harder for Europe to keep up free trade.” After two days of meetings in the German town of Baden-Baden, finance chiefs and central bankers from the G-20 set aside a pledge to avoid protectionism.
Republicans Admit Defeat On Health Care Bill: ‘Obamacare Is The Law Of The Land’ (npr.org) House Republicans scrapped a vote on their health care replacement plan on Friday after defections from both the right and center that made it clear the bill would not pass. “Obamacare is the law of the land. It is going to remain the law of the land,” House Speaker Paul Ryan admitted shortly after he pulled the bill. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future. I don’t know how long it’s going to take us to replace this law.”Ryan may have admitted defeat, but President Trump chalked it up to a “learning experience.” Trump also tried to spin the setback as an opportunity for a potential “bipartisan” bill in the future. “Both parties can get together … and have a better bill,” he said, adding, “Having bipartisan would be a big, big improvement.” But Trump and Ryan both said health care is being put on the shelf for the time being. They’re moving on to tax reform.
Chinese military warns US bomber flying over East China Sea (Source International Business Times)
Beijing issued a warning to a US Air Force bomber when it was flying above the East China Sea on Wednesday (22 March), US officials told multiple media outlets. The bomber was thought to be on a routine mission in international airspace when it was warned by the Chinese forces. The US pilots were told by the Chinese military that they were illegally operating in the airspace when the military aircraft was flying near South Korea. However, the pilots did not deviate from the actual path despite the warning, it was reported. It is still unclear whether it was the US’s Air Force’s same B-1B Lancer bomber, which carried out the sortie above the Korean peninsula as part of the ongoing training exercises with South Korea. China had earlier unilaterally claimed the Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea above a hotly contested region, which is claimed by both Japan and South Korea. Beijing’s previous move had sparked sharp responses from both the countries when the step was announced. Though China demands prior notification from aircraft flying in the ADIZ, US and other powers do not recognise the requirement and consider the airspace international. “Pacific Air Forces … did not recognise the Chinese Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) when it was announced in November of 2013, and does not recognise it today. The ADIZ has not changed our operations,” US Pacific Air Forces spokesperson Major Phil Ventura was quoted as saying.
Paul Manafort’s plan to ‘greatly benefit Putin government (Source usatoday.com) President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests. Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse. Manafort pitched the plans to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP. Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work. “We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote in the 2005 memo to Deripaska. The effort, Manafort wrote, “will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.” Manafort’s plans were laid out in documents obtained by the AP that included strategy memoranda and records showing international wire transfers for millions of dollars. How much work Manafort performed under the contract was unclear.
The disclosure comes as Trump campaign advisers are the subject of an FBI probe and two congressional investigations. Investigators are reviewing whether the Trump campaign and its associates coordinated with Moscow to meddle in the 2016 campaign. Manafort has dismissed the investigations as politically motivated and misguided, and said he never worked for Russian interests. The documents obtained by AP show Manafort’s ties to Russia were closer than previously revealed.
CHINA COULD ATTACK U.S. PACIFIC BASES IN ‘MINUTES’ (Source newsweek.com)
A military expert asserted that a ballistic strike on the U.S.’ Pacific facilities could be conducted by Beijing within minutes. China’s missile testing facilities have already been equipped with mock U.S. and Japanese targets. In his latest report on the blog, ” HYPERLINK “https://warontherocks.com/2017/02/has-china-been-practicing-preemptive-missile-strikes-against-u-s-bases/” \t “_blank” War on the Rocks,” former Navy Cmdr. Thomas Shugart presented an in-depth view of China’s military infrastructure in the Gobi Desert. The analysis offered side-by-side comparisons of Chinese military bases and U.S. facilities in Japan, showing striking similarities and revealing just how quickly Beijing could strike U.S. and Japanese assets if a conflict broke out. The region is already plagued with heightened tensions between nations. “The time available between the first detection of a missile launch by U.S. space-based missile warning sensors to its impact would probably be on the order of 10 to 15 minutes,” Shugart wrote in his report. “In that short amount of time, U.S. early warning centers would have to detect the launched strike, assess it, and warn U.S. forces overseas.” The result would likely be devastating: Shugart wrote that a defense would necessitate a lightning-quick assessment and mass mobilization of the U.S.’ entire fleet to avoid major damage, an unlikely feat in such a short amount of time. Shugart, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, recommended the U.S. military and its Japanese ally take preventative training measures to avoid such an outcome.
Though the U.S. and China have shown no indications of heading toward a military conflict, Beijing may be prepared for such a surprise launch. Simple Google Earth surveillance showed blast-battered Chinese missile ranges that closely resembled U.S. installations in Japan such as the U.S. naval base at Yokosuka, home to the 7th fleet, and the Misawa Air Base, where the U.S. Air Force 35th Fighter Wing was stationed. China has reportedly set up dummy vessels resembling the U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyers equipped with the high-tech Aegis missile defense system, to participate in joint war games.
U.S. Formally Apologizes to U.K. Over Trump’s Spying Claims (Source thedailybeast.com) According to a report in The Telegraph, U.S. officials have formally apologized to the U.K. for claiming that British intelligence agencies spied on President Trump during the election campaign at the behest of President Obama. The British newspaper reports that British intelligence sources say the apology came directly from White House press secretary Sean Spicer and Gen. H.R. McMaster, the U.S. national security adviser. A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said the U.S. had assured its closest ally that the claims would not be repeated. In a highly unusual public statement, the United Kingdom’s intelligence agency had earlier denied Trump’s allegations that it helped to spy on the then-candidate during the 2016 in cooperation with former President Obama. The statement from the Government Communications Headquarters described the claims, which were reiterated Thursday by Spicer, as “utterly ridiculous” and urged the public to dismiss them: “They… should be ignored.” The British agency rarely if ever comments on specific allegations or cases, and it is especially rare that Friday’s comments came in the form of such blunt language. Spicer said during his daily press briefing: “Judge Andrew Napolitano made the following statement, quote, ‘Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command [to spy on Trump]. He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA … he used GCHQ.’” Napolitano at the time implied that such a choice would have been to keep “American fingerprints” off the spy operation.
The first solar eclipse to cross America in 99 years is coming. To some, it’s an act of God. (Source myrtlebeachonline.com)
On Monday, Aug. 21, in the middle of the day, the sky will go dark. The temperature will suddenly get several degrees colder. Birds will stop chirping and retreat to their nests. And tens of millions of people, crammed into a 60-mile-wide path that crosses from Oregon to South Carolina, will stand in America looking up at the sky.
It’s easy to understand why many people will view this as an act of God. The total solar eclipse that will cross America this summer – an event that last happened 99 years ago – will be an important moment for scientific observers and a massive nationwide spectator event. Columbia has been identified as one of the prime viewing spots, with one of the longest periods of totality.
The eclipse will also, for many people of faith, be evidence of God’s majesty – and even, to a few, a harbinger of the coming end of the world.
“I don’t think it’s an accident that God put us human beings here on Earth where we can actually see total solar eclipses. I think God wants us to make these discoveries,” said Hugh Ross, who is both an astronomer and a minister. “I would argue that God on purpose made the universe beautiful, and one of the beauties is a solar eclipse.”
Ross will be leading a trip to watch the eclipse for about 80 people interested in finding spirituality in science. They’ll travel down a dirt road into a field in eastern Oregon, where they will wait for the sun to be blotted out. Across the country, other church groups will do the same.
A solar eclipse isn’t all that rare. The moon is always rotating around the Earth, while the Earth rotates around the sun. Usually the moon appears slightly higher or lower than the sunlight hits the Earth. But twice a year, it’s right smack in front of it, and the moon blocks out the sun during the daytime, and that’s at least a partial solar eclipse.
When a total eclipse occurs, the shadow falls on just a tiny part of the Earth, about 60 to 100 miles wide, and then moves about a thousand miles over the course of a few hours. Because so much of the Earth is water, this almost always happens over an ocean.
The last total solar eclipse visible from the continental United States was in 1979, and it was only over a corner of the Pacific Northwest.
Something like this summer’s event, where so many people on land can see a total solar eclipse, is exceptionally rare.
Impending Danger: Today’s “Super-Fuzed”, Super-Powerful US Thermonuclear Weapons Directed against Russia. “How is This Going to End?” (Source globalresearch.ca)
America has enough of these weapons to destroy Russia’s silo-based ICBMs and have many remaining for other missions, including Russia’s non-hardened mobile nuclear capability – devastating, if launched, with potentially catastrophic consequences far beyond Russia. America vastly enhanced the killing power of its nuclear arsenal, with greater first-strike capability than Russia, leaving it dangerously vulnerable. “We cannot foresee a situation in which a competent and properly informed US president would order a surprise first strike against Russia or China,” the authors explained.
But our conclusion makes the increased sea-based offensive and defensive capabilities we have described seem all the more bizarre as a strategy for reducing the chances of nuclear war with either Russia or China.
Putin’s remarks to journalists last June at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum indicate how he weighs the danger of America’s threat to Russia, saying: No matter what we said to our American partners (to curb the arms race), they refused to cooperate with us. They rejected our offers, and continue to do their own thing.
… They rejected everything we had to offer…The Iranian threat does not exist, but missile defense systems are continuing to be positioned… That means we were right when we said that they are lying to us. Their reasons were not genuine, in reference to the ‘Iranian nuclear threat.’(People in Western nations) do not feel a sense of the impending danger. This is what worries me.
A missile defense system is one element of the whole system of offensive military potential. It works as part of a whole that includes offensive missile launchers. One complex blocks, the other launches high precision weapons. The third blocks a potential nuclear strike, and the fourth sends out its own nuclear weapon in response.
This is all designed to be part of one system. I don’t know how this is all going to end. What I do know is that we will need to defend ourselves.
Marco Rubio: Snoop Dogg Should Be ‘Very Careful’ With Trump Mock-Assassination Video (Source msn.com)
Marco Rubio isn’t clowning around — he thinks HYPERLINK “http://www.thewrap.com/tag/snoop_dogg/” \t “_blank” Snoop Dogg might have crossed a line with his new video “Lavender,” in which the Doggfather pretends to assassinate a clown-faced Donald Trump stand-in with a toy gun. The Republican senator and self-avowed hip-hop fan — one dubbed “Little Marco” by Trump — took the rapper to task on Monday. “Snoop shouldn’t have done that … You know, we’ve had presidents assassinated before in this country, so anything like that is really something that you should be very careful about,” Rubio told TMZ. The senator continued, “I think people can disagree … [but] you’ve got to be very careful about that kind of thing, because the wrong person sees that and gets the wrong idea, you can have a real problem. So I’m not sure what Snoop was thinking, he should think about that a little bit.” In the video, directors Jesse Wellens and James DeFina depict an America where everyone’s a clown, including president “Ronald Klump.” After Klump holds a press conference to announce the deportation of all dogs, Snoop chains up the Clown-in-Chief and shoots him with a toy gun. In an interview with Billboard, Wellens explained the concept behind the video: “When I originally wrote the idea of the video, the video of [Philando Castile] getting shot came out online and it was causing riots. We just kind of wanted to bring the clowns out, because it’s clownery — it’s ridiculous what’s happening.” “As America, it just doesn’t seem like we’re very respected right now,” he added.