Iran Protests, Sanctuary State and Bannon’s Big Mouth – The Fourth 100 Days (Trump Briefs:  Dec. 30-Jan. 5/Day 345-351) Week 50

By Michael Hernandez


Saturday, December 30  (Day 345):

Thousands of Iranians protest at tomb of King Cyrus

Tens of thousands of Iranians, from various parts of the nation, gathered at the site of the tomb of King Cyrus the Great in Pasargadae Friday morning on the anniversary of his birthday to protest the clerical regime’s policies.

According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), protesters chanted, “Iran is our country, Cyrus is our father” and “clerical rule is synonymous with only tyranny, only war.” The protesters also reportedly chanted, “freedom of thought cannot take place with beards,” a reference to the theocratic leaders currently in power.  Another video purports to show Iranians shouting, “forget about Syria, think about us.”

NCRI reported that, prior to the October 28 protest, members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other Iranian authorities took measures to limit the impact of the demonstrations by spreading rumors that the city had been completely shut down — including canceling tours to the site, sealing off roads to Pasargadae, and even shutting down the Internet there two days prior to the rally. Residents in and near the city were reportedly also told that they were not permitted to have guests during the period marking the occasion of King Cyrus’s birth.

Many Iranians consider King Cyrus the father of international human rights, citing the discovery of the Cyrus Cylinder around 559 B.C. — the first known charter of human rights. In 1971, the Shah of Iran’s twin sister, the late Princess Ashraf Pahlavi, presented the United Nations with a replica of the Cyrus Cylinder, which is kept at the U.N.’s New York headquarters and is promoted as “an ancient declaration of human rights.”

In a written statement regarding the protests, Shahin Gobadi, who works with the Foreign Affairs Committee of the NCRI, said:  “None of these schemes could prevent the gathering from taking place. The long line of vehicles and the large scope of the participants were clear indications of the Iranian people’s hatred towards the regime. This regime is incapable of standing up against the Iranian people’s desire and will to achieve democracy and popular sovereignty.”

Arash Razi, 36, an Iranian activist who is involved with the Constitutional Party of Iran, said, “it’s unbelievable that the regime tried very hard to intimidate and scare everyone, but their efforts did not stop the people.” Razi, who also runs a Persian and English-language newspaper called Mehr-e-Iran out of Los Angeles, said, “this is very good news about Iran and for the people of Iran and the world,” adding his belief that this is the biggest turnout by the Iranian people since the revolution took place 37 years ago. He said, “I think this is even bigger than the riots following the fraudulent reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

Two large flags bearing the lion and sun (shir-o-khorshid) were held up and carried throughout the crowd. This is Iran’s original flag. It is over 2,500 years old. People from Kurdistan, Azarbeijan, Balochistan, and Iranians of Arab descent were also among the protesters.  The son of Iran’s late Shah, Reza Pahlavi, also took the opportunity to express his gratitude to the Iranian people.

Pooya Dayanim, President of the Iranian Jewish Public Affairs Committee (IJPAC), said that the rally was an indication that “the generation that was born after the revolution of 1979 feels as if their parents made a mistake and destroyed their hope and future.” Dayanim added, “They consider themselves a burnt generation, just like the generation in America that has been living in their parents’ garages and basements and are either unemployed or underemployed.”

Dayanim said that Iranian citizens, particularly the youth, have very limited freedoms socially, politically, and economically. He said that “getting in touch with their rich Iranian heritage from the pre-Islamic era is one of the only sources of pride they have. What happened today is a sign of them embracing Iran when it was a strong and powerful and respected State, versus the government that they have now which has turned Iran into a pariah and has destroyed their hopes, dreams, aspirations and future.”

The protestors were heard speaking “Death to the dictator!” and “Death to Rouhani” (President Hassan Rouhani).

The UK Daily Mail reports protesters surrounding an Iranian mullah, a powerful member of the theocratic ruling class, and changing “Mullahs, be ashamed and leave Iran!” in his face.

One of the big protests was held in Mashhad, which is considered one of the holiest sites in Iran and in all of Shia Islam, as it contains the shrine of a revered 9th Century imam.

On Friday afternoon there were reports of protesters filling the streets of Qom, Iran’s spiritual center, and chanting: “We don’t want an Islamic republic!” Another protest chant, “Iran is haphazard without the Shah,” seems calculated to annoy the mullahs and ayatollah.

One brave woman expressed her defiance by standing up without a veil or headscarf.  The protesters have cried: “Not Gaza! Not Lebanon! My life for Iran!” and “Leave Syria, think about us!”

The initial cause of the protests was reportedly public anger over rising prices for food, a generally high inflation rate, and high unemployment. The governor of Mashhad dismissed the protest in his city as an “illegal No to High Prices gathering” at first.

Rouhani campaigned on economic renewal, including the benefits accruing to Iran from its nuclear deal with the Obama administration  Iran’s inflation rate is a little under 10 percent today, compared to about 40 percent when Rouhani took over from his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Despite Rouhani’s promises, the standard of living for average Iranians has declined about 30 percent over the past 10 years. Corruption and mismanagement of vital resources have also been proposed as reasons for the protest, combined with a debt crisis choking the Iranian banking sector.

The protests reached Tehran on Friday as the movement gained support from workers upset by unpaid back wages. The crowd in Tehran was small, estimated at around 50 people. Several arrests were nevertheless reported, perhaps intended as a warning shot against Tehran residents tempted to join in.

Meanwhile, Iranian dissidents are talking about an “uprising” that may be more significant than the “Green Revolution” of 2009, and perhaps more difficult for the government to suppress with violence, especially since some of the demonstrators have indicated a willingness to fight back, or to stand their ground in the face of police and militia action.

The last major unrest followed disputed elections in 2009.

Trump warns Iranian regime

The US condemned the arrest of protesters, telling Tehran that “the world is watching.” “Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption and its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad,” President Donald Trump tweeted late Friday. “Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves,” he wrote.

Some of this week’s protests were directed against financial scandals linked to unauthorized lending institutions which collapsed with the loss of hundreds of thousands of accounts. There has also been anger at welfare cuts and fuel price increases in the latest budget announced earlier this month.

President Obama’s 2009 response to Iranian protests

President Obama failed to take advantage of a rare opportunity to support grassroots opposition to one of the most destabilizing regimes in the world.

The 2009 protests were launched on June 14 of that year, one day after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad purportedly won reelection in a landslide victory amid widespread allegations of voting irregularities and violations. Obama was silent the first day of the anti-regime protests.

One day later, when Iran citizens held the largest anti-regime protest since the country’s 1979 revolution, Obama finally gave a muted response, saying that it was “up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be” and that “we respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran.” Obama followed that up with a statement that he was “deeply troubled by the violence that [he had] been seeing on television,” but he fell short of strongly condemning Iran’s terror-supporting government.

Obama waited eight days to make another comment following an escalation in the protests, some of which resulted in violence against the pro-democracy protesters. “The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments of the last few days,” he said.  Obama made those comments following calls from lawmakers, including future Vice President Mike Pence, then a Republican congressman, for a stronger response.

Obama was later asked about his tepid reaction to the Iran protest movement. He replied, “I think that we don’t know yet how this thing is going to play out. I know everybody here is on a 24-hour news cycle. I’m not.” What Obama left out was that, according to reports, his surrogates had already secretly reached out to Iran, beginning a dialogue that would eventually lead to the U.S.-led international nuclear deal with the Iranian regime.

In August 2014, Michael Ledeen, a former consultant to the National Security Council and U.S. Defense Department, penned a column at PJ Media stating Obama opened a back channel to Iran during the 2008 presidential campaign. Ledeen said the back channel went through retired Ambassador William G. Miller, who also led the 1979 negotiating mission during the Iran hostage crisis. Ladeen wrote that Miller confirmed his back channel involvement to him.

Ledeen wrote:   “The actual strategy is detente first, and then a full alliance with Iran throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It has been on display since before the beginning of the Obama administration. During his first presidential campaign in 2008, Mr. Obama used a secret back channel to Tehran to assure the mullahs that he was a friend of the Islamic Republic, and that they would be very happy with his policies.”

The secret channel was Ambassador William G. Miller, who served in Iran during the shah’s rule, as chief of staff for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and as ambassador to Ukraine.

An August 2016 piece at Bloomberg by columnist and reporter Eli Lake is titled “Why Obama Let Iran’s Green Revolution Fail.” The subtitle of Lake’s piece sums up his analysis: “The president wanted a nuclear deal, not regime change.”

During the 2012 presidential election. Candidate Mitt Romney lobbed the following accusation: “When millions of Iranians took to the streets in June of 2009, when they demanded freedom from a cruel regime that threatens the world, when they cried out, ‘Are you with us, or are you with them?’ — the American president was silent.”

President Trump’s response to Iran Deal: Refusal “to re-certify”

Trump, on the other hand, made opposition to Iran’s fanatical regime a central platform of his successful 2016 presidential bid, repeatedly threatening to rip up the controversial nuclear agreement.

In October, Trump refused to re-certify the Iran deal, a process mandated by a law requiring the U.S. president to certify every 90 days that Iran is keeping its side of the agreement and that the deal continues to be “vital to the national security interests of the United States.” In keeping with that decision, it was reported last week that the U.S. and Israel quietly reached an agreement to work together to counter the Iran threat.


Sunday, December 31 (Day 346):

“Mapping the Swamp” report:  “bloated paychecks and incentives”

A report entitled “Mapping the Swamp” describes a bureaucracy reportedly consisting of bloated paychecks and enormous incentives for government employees.  The report was published by, self-described with a mission to “post ‘Every dime, Online, In Real Time,’ of federal, state, and local government spending to provide transparency for smart government.”

Open The Books is a function of American Transparency, a public charity that refuses government money and “[presents] hard data without policy recommendations,” in order to “enhanced public discourse with delineated facts.”

The cover of the report features quotes from both Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and President Ronald Reagan. It poses three essential questions: “Should the federal government reassess its payroll priorities?” Second, “is it necessary to maintain an expansive and costly bureaucracy?” Finally, “Does a large and widespread federal workforce facilitate good government?”

Inside, the report details the roughly $1 million per minute that taxpayers spend on the $136 billion in pay and benefits to federal workers — over $20.6 billion of which is contained within the Washington, DC “Beltway” alone.

Recent years have reportedly seen a marked increase in large payouts, with 165% more federal employees making more than $200,000 a year, and 406,960 making at least $100,000. These findings prompted Open The Books to dub $100,000 the “minimum wage” for government employees.

The most-paid man in the federal government is reportedly a heart surgeon at the Department of Veterans Affairs who is bringing in $403,849 annually, while the largest bonus was reportedly $141,525 paid out to a human resources manager at Presidio Trust in San Francisco.

The average worker takes 10 holidays off, 13 sick days, and 20 vacations days — and up to two full months of vacation, after three years’ employment. Federal employees are currently expected to receive a pay increase as part of an order signed by the POTUS.­­­­­­­­­­­

Bob Woodward:  Reporting on President Trump shows “tone of ridicule”

Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward said the press has a “self-righteousness and smugness” when reporting on President Donald Trump.  Woodward said, “The tone is a big issue here.”

Woodward continued, “In lots of reporting, particularly on television commentary, there’s kind of a self-righteousness and smugness in people kind of ridiculing the president. When we reported on Nixon, it was obviously a very different era, but we did not adopt a tone of ridicule, the tone was what are the facts.”


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President Trump:  “No more” aid to Pakistan

President Donald Trump lashed out at Pakistan on Twitter just a few minutes past 7:00 a.m. Eastern time on New Year’s Day, expressing frustration at Islamabad’s inadequate efforts against terrorism and implying that U.S. foreign aid will be terminated as a result.  It is not yet clear whether the “no more” exclamation means the complete or partial termination, or temporary suspension, of American aid to Pakistan.

If the complete termination of U.S. foreign aid does indeed become official policy, it would be a far more dramatic step than withholding all or part of America’s $255 million in military assistance to Pakistan, a measure reportedly under consideration by the administration over the past few days after Pakistan refused to allow U.S. interrogators access to a captured terrorist from the hostage-taking Haqqani network.

In August, President Trump said the “next pillar” of his strategy for battling terrorism would involve a “change in our approach to Pakistan.” Trump accused Pakistan of giving “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror. We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” the president said. ”These killers need to know they have nowhere to hide – that no place is beyond the reach of American arms.

The Trump administration withheld $50 million in military aid to Pakistan over the summer because it felt Islamabad was not doing enough to bring down the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. There was some criticism at the time that despite his strong complaints about Pakistan refusing to help fight the Taliban or even actively colluding with it, Trump was dealing more harshly with Egypt over human rights violations by its government.

The Pakistani military rescued a Canadian-American family held hostage for years by the Haqqanis in October. Concerns have been raised that even this rescue might have been the result of a deal between the Pakistanis and the militant network, which has long been suspected of enjoying special favors and protection from elements of the Pakistani security apparatus. The prisoner Pakistan refused to allow the United States to interview was tied to the kidnapping of this Canadian-American family.

On Thursday, Pakistani military spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor warned the United States against taking “unilateral” military action on its soil and denied his country was not doing enough to fight the Taliban and its allies, promising that the results of Pakistan’s counterterrorism operations would be “seen in subsequent years and months.”

After making this declaration, Ghafoor implied Pakistan could actually do more, once its concerns about Afghan refugees are addressed. “If there are any facilitators and abetters inside Pakistan that can only be addressed if the 2.7 million Afghan refugees are sent back to Afghanistan,” he said.

Comey receives criticism after calling for “more ethical leadership”

Former FBI Director James Comey caused a stir on social media by calling for “more ethical leadership” in 2018. “Here’s hoping 2018 brings more ethical leadership, focused on the truth and lasting values,” Comey wrote in an apparent swipe at President Trump, who fired him last year. “Happy New Year, everybody.”

Comey’s tweet had more than 30,000 retweets on Monday morning – and thousands of responses accusing him of lacking self-awareness amid the firestorm surrounding the bureau he once led.

“Here is hoping 2018 the U.S. will have a clean, politically, FBI…that will actually do their jobs,” one user, David Weissman, remarked. The Department of Justice’s Inspector General is conducting a review of the bureau’s investigation — under Comey’s watch — into former Secretary of State’s Hillary Clinton email servers. Over the last year, it was revealed Comey began drafting his July 2016 exoneration statement before key witnesses in the Clinton email investigation had been interviewed. The inspector general review also is looking into whether FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe – whose wife has strong ties to the Democratic Party – should not have been involved in the investigation.

Other top FBI officials, who worked under Comey and were involved in the Russia investigation, have also come under scrutiny for anti-Trump messages. Lawmakers have been alarmed by recently revealed texts from FBI official Peter Strzok, who called Trump an “idiot” and who referenced an “insurance policy” against a Trump presidency. Strzok had been assigned to Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe, but has since been reassigned.

Trump’s attorneys have also pounced on Comey for admitting to orchestrating the leaking of his memos about his interactions with the president to the New York Times in the hopes it would lead to a special counsel investigation.


North Korea Leader:  “U.S. is within the range of our nuclear strike”

“The United States can never fight a war against me and our state,” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un boasted in an annual New Year’s Day speech on national television. “(You) should properly know that the whole territory of the U.S. is within the range of our nuclear strike and a nuclear button is always on the desk of my office, and this is just a reality, not a threat.”

Meanwhile, Retired Admiral Mike Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has warned that Washington and Pyongyang are now closer than ever to a nuclear war. “We’re actually closer in my view to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we’ve ever been. I don’t see the opportunities how to solve this diplomatically at this particular point,” Mullen told ABC News.

Kim also said that North Korea was a peace-loving and responsible nuclear power, and would not use its nuclear weapons unless “hostile aggression forces” encroach on its sovereignty or interests.  “This year, we should focus on mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment,” Kim said. “These weapons will be used only if our security is threatened.”

“North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to show unity of the people, and we wish the Games will be a success,” Kim said. “Officials from the two Koreas may urgently meet to discuss the possibility.”  He said that the path to dialogue was open and that he would consider sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeong­chang, South Korea in February.

The Washington Post reported South Korea has been trying to reassure the rest of the world that the Olympics will be safe despite the nuclear tensions, and President Moon Jae-in has said North Korea’s participation would ensure their safety. He also proposed last month that Seoul and Washington postpone annual joint military drills until after the Olympics, and he generally takes a less-confrontational approach to relations with the North than his predecessor, Park Geun-hye.

John Delury, a professor of international relations at Yonsei University in Seoul, said Kim’s message to Seoul was “more promising” than he had anticipated, addressing in a specific and actionable way South Korea’s desire to make the Games a success.  The idea of improving relations between the two Koreas is one that is frequently spoken about but seldom achieved, and Kim’s warmer words could also be seen as an attempt to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington. “That should give hope to those in the South who are trying to get something going and open a channel at least,” Delury said.

The Washington Post has also reported on North Korea’s rapid advancement of its ICBM program.  North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September and launched its most high-tech intercontinental ballistic missile in November, ignoring international condemnation and steadily tightening sanctions.

[Documents shed light on North Korea’s startling gains in sea-based missile technology]

Korea has declared the latest round of United Nations sanctions imposed last month an “act of war,” and Kim said his country had achieved the historic feat of “completing” its nuclear forces.

[U.N. imposes new sanctions on North Korea over missile tests]

The tensions around North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons program persist due to the repeated nuclear tests and missile launches carried out by Pyongyang in violation of the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. As a response measure, the UNSC has introduced a spate of  sanctions against Pyongyang aimed at hampering the development of the North Korean nuclear weapons program.

North Korea’s nuclear capabilities do not yet match Kim’s boasts, experts say, since it is far from clear it could successfully deliver a nuclear weapon on one of its missiles. Yet there is little doubt its capabilities have advanced significantly in the past year.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said Kim’s claims about his country’s nuclear capability underscored that there was no viable “military solution” to denuclearizing North Korea and that sanctions alone would not persuade Pyongyang to halt or reverse its nuclear buildup.

 “To avoid a nuclear conflict and the full-scale deployment of an operational North Korean strategic deterrent force, U.S. leaders, in concert with South Korea, should redouble efforts to engage North Korea in direct talks and cease any further explicit or implicit threats of military action against the North,” he said in an email.


Tuesday, January 2 (Day 348):

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei increases violence against Iranian protesters

Protesters have been increasingly met with state-sponsored violence in Iran as they take to the streets to voice their opposition to the country’s hard-line Islamic government and its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The bloody demonstrations, the largest to strike Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election, have seen six days of unrest across the country. The number of people killed has now risen to at least 21 after more violence against the extremist government on Monday night.

In response, the head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court has warned that arrested protesters could potentially face death penalty cases when they come to trial, AP reports. Iranian state television aired footage of a ransacked private bank, broken windows, overturned cars and a firetruck on Tuesday that appeared to have been set ablaze.

Iran blocked access to Instagram and the popular messaging app Telegram used by activists to organize in response to the growing spirit of protest, although some have still managed to use it to smuggle images out of the country.

President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged the public’s anger over the Islamic Republic’s flagging economy, though he and others warned that the government wouldn’t hesitate to crack down on those it considers lawbreakers. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, making his first public statement on the violence, claimed “enemies of Iran” had stirred up unrest using “cash, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus to create trouble for the Islamic Republic”.

Despite the threats of physical violence, women in the Islamic republic have used the opportunity to call out for more personal freedom and a relaxation of strict Islamic rule and sharia law:  The exiled People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) issued a press release on the deaths of protesters, reporting that “at least two protesters were killed in the town of Izeh and several wounded as the Revolutionary Guards opened fire.” The statement added, “The Guards also opened fire in the town Tuyserkan, killing one protester and wounding several others.”  The PMOI obtained video which purports to show the death of one of the protesters.

The unrest has remained focused on provincial towns and cities. The semi-official ILNA news agency in Iran reported on Tuesday that 450 people had been arrested over three days in Tehran since Saturday according to Ali Asghar Nasserbakht, a security deputy governor of Tehran.

ACLJ:   Iran protests are “unique moment in history”

The Iran protests present a “unique moment in history,” said American Center Law and Justice Legal Counsel Jay Sekulow.  “This generation of (Iranian) protesters knows about freedom.”  According to Sekulow, “We need to support the demonstrators and the Iranian people…President Trump has exposed the spinelessness of the Obama Administration” particularly as it relates to shutting down Project Cassandra’s investigation of Hezbollah’s drug operations so as not to upset the Iran Deal and in providing $1.5 billion to Iran that was used by the current regime to fund Hezbollah and terrorism in Israel and the Middle East.

The ACLJ national radio broadcast aired a Fox News report in which leaked how government officials were concerned that the current protests in which demonstrators were shouting “Death to the Ayatollah,” “Death to the President,” and “Death to Hezbollah” could “threaten the regime’s security.”

The ACLJ also reported on statements from both Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Los Angeles) and the former Obama Ambassador for Israel that supported the Iranian protestors which they said was now receiving bipartisan support in Congress.

David Brock behind money efforts to entice women to accuse Trump

Democratic activist David Brock has been exposed as one of the key sources of money behind efforts during the 2016 presidential campaign to entice women to accuse Donald Trump of past sexual misconduct.

Brock spent the 1990s attacking the Clintons before undergoing a political conversion, and devoting his efforts — and other people’s money — to a crusade to destroy Republicans and the conservative media.

Brock founded Media Matters for America in 2004. Billed as a “charity” — and exempted from taxes — the group corrects conservative bias in the media. In practice, Media Matters attempts to eliminate conservative perspectives altogether, targeting popular hosts, journalists, and outlets. The organization also routinely promotes left-wing causes: in 2011, for example, Media Matters aligned with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Despite the group’s political agenda, mainstream media outlets routinely rely on Media Matters for talking points. Recently, for example, CNN’s Chris Cuomo admitted on the air that he relied on material from Media Matters in criticizing Breitbart. The zenith of the group’s influence was in the 2008 presidential elections, when mainstream media worked in concert to elect Barack Obama, and to avoid and discourage efforts to probe his views and record.

In advance of the 2012 election, Media Matters drew up a plan, Project 2012, which aimed to destroy opposition media sources, especially Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Breitbart. One part of the plan, “litigation,” proposed to “[b]ring litigation against Fox News and its feeders holding them accountable for illegal and tortious actions.”  The document explained that lawsuits were needed because the federal government was “reluctant to police the media.”

Brock has also entered the political arena through his super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, which he started in 2010, to conduct opposition research against Republicans. The group is backed by left-wing billionaire George Soros, who has been involved in Brock’s other efforts.

Emails released by Wikileaks in 2016 raised questions about whether American Bridge and other pro-Clinton super PACs were coordinating improperly with the campaign.  Since the 2016 elections, Brock has spearheaded efforts by Democratic organizations to impeach the president, as described in a confidential memo obtained by the Washington Free Beacon last January. He has also talked about creating a “Breitbart of the left” in the media.

Baltimore black residents blame soaring murder rate on less police

Black American residents of Baltimore, Maryland, are now blaming a lower police presence for the city’s soaring murder rate despite three years of Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists insisting that police be pulled from their neighborhoods.

Baltimore has now experienced higher murder rates for three years in a row after riots and BLM-sponsored protests began rocking the city after the death of Freddie Gray, a suspect who died in police custody in the spring of 2015, National Public Radio (NPR) reported.

Since the riots, police morale has collapsed, and city officials began planning a lighter police footprint in response to complaints of residents and protest leaders. But now, black leaders are blaming cops for the spiraling murder rate, saying that the police pullback has put them in danger. The Rev. Kinji Scott, a Baltimore activist, is blaming city hall for leaving the neighborhoods unprotected.

“We wanted the police there,” Scott insisted. “We wanted them engaged in the community. We didn’t want them beating the hell out of us, we didn’t want that.” Scott and others are now pressuring the city to bring police back in as a deterrent to the soaring crime rate.

Despite the loud proclamations from BLM activists that the police are the problem, Scott and his fellow activists are now claiming that they never wanted police to go away. In an interview with NPR, Scott claims only the progressive activists wanted cops to be eliminated:  “No. That represented our progressives, our activists, our liberal journalists, our politicians, but it did not represent the overall community. Because we know for a fact that around the time Freddie Gray was killed, we start(ed) to see homicides increase. We had five homicides in that neighborhood while we were protesting.

“What I wanted to see happen was that people would be able to trust the relationship with our police department so that they would feel more comfortable. We’d have conversations with the police about crime in their neighborhood because they would feel safer. So we wanted the police there. We wanted them engaged in the community. We didn’t want them beating the hell out of us, we didn’t want that.”

Scott also blamed the city for not fostering a community atmosphere between police and the neighborhoods.  “The primary thrust nationwide is what President Obama wanted to do: focus on building relationships with police departments and major cities where there had been a history of conflict. That hasn’t happened. We don’t see that. I don’t know a city—Baltimore for certain—we’ve not seen any changes in those relationships. What we have seen is that the police has distanced themselves, and the community has distanced themselves even further. So the divide has really intensified, it hasn’t decreased.

“And of course we want to delineate the whole culture of bad policing that exists—nobody denies that—but as a result of this, we don’t see the level of policing we need in our community to keep the crime down in our cities that we are seeing bleed to death.

Previously, Baltimore protesters were seen carrying signs that read “disarm the police,” or wearing T-shirts promising to kill cops.  Residents created a list of 19 demands issued by protesters in 2015, one of which demanded that police be barred from entering certain buildings or parts of neighborhoods they had designated as “safe” from police.


Wednesday, January 3 (Day 349):

ACLJ supports Trump; proposes five-fold response to Iran protesters 

“While the prior Administration cowered before Iranian Mullahs, deliberately ignored anti-regime protests in 2009, and derailed Project Cassandra designed to block Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy terror organization from selling drugs in the United States, President Trump has courageously reversed the Obama doctrine on Iran,” wrote and posted Harry Hutchison of the American Center for Law and Justice.

“Rather than appease this appalling regime, President Trump has taken a hardline approach in support of freedom, a move that may accelerate regime change, and, one that undermines the world’s leading state sponsor of terror and its terror allies. Regime change will require the implementation of an Iranian constitution that respects human rights, freedom of the press, and the freedom of movement of peoples rather than a focus on exporting terror.”

The ACLJ policy statement on Iran protests states:

“First, we call for a bipartisan effort to support the Iranian people. It is time for a bipartisan consensus to join with the President, who has weighed in to strongly support the Iranian people. This consensus should ignore the so-called elite opinions of former Administration officials who sold out American and Israeli interests in favor of a flawed Iran Nuclear deal.

“Second, consistent with the mounting evidence of Iran’s failure to comply with the Iran Nuclear Deal, the current Administration should once more decertify the Iran Nuclear Deal on January 11, 2018, which is the next 90 day deadline specified under statute. In addition, on January 12, 2018 and January 17, 2018 the temporary waivers of US. Sanctions on Iran are up for renewal. Renewal should not be granted. Moreover, to the extent that a bipartisan consensus emerges in support of the Iranian people, new targeted sanctions, on Iranian leaders rather than the Iranian people, ought to be imposed. This process, taken together, would amount to a canceling of the Iran Nuclear Deal and the placement of additional economic and financial pressure on the Mullahs and their allies.

“Third, we should expect all nations to uphold two sovereign duties: to respect and cherish the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation. This means that the Persian people, after regime change, should be free to create their own form of government, perhaps one that incorporates the best aspirations of Persia’s 1906 Constitution, grounded in the consent of the governed and equality before the law.

“Fourth, consistent with the third principle, a new Persian government must immediately and unconditionally remove its troops and terrorist proxies from Syria, Lebanon and other theaters in the Middle East, immediately cease support of Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations, and stop collaborating with the rogue regime in North Korea and focus on the interests of average working-class Persians rather than the hegemonic interests of corrupt Mullahs who reportedly live in luxury.

“Fifth, consistent with the notion of universal human rights, the new Persian regime must respect the rights of its people to be free from terror imposed by members of government. This includes, or should include, freedom of speech, the free movement of people, freedom of religion, and the right to trial before their peers rather than the Mullahs and an open and free press.”

Highway signs proclaim California an “official sanctuary state”

Highway signs proclaiming California an “OFFICIAL SANCTUARY STATE” appeared in at least three places beneath “Welcome to California” road signs on New Year’s Day.  Two more signs have appeared since, according to the Washington Examiner.

January 1 marked the first day that California’s new sanctuary state bill, SB 54, went into effect, preventing local and state law enforcement from fully cooperating with federal immigration officials.

“Felons, Illegals and MS13 Welcome!” read the second line on the signs, which conclude with the declaration, “Democrats Need The Votes!

Emblazoned on each sign are what appear to be the seal of the State of California and the Democratic Party logo.

The new law going into effect coincides with the week during which the five-time deporteee, seven-time felon illegal alien who killed Kate Steinle is scheduled to be sentenced — not for murder, but for possessing the firearm that killed Steinle. Jose Garcia Zarate, identified previously under one of a number of aliases as Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, told a local ABC News affiliate shortly after he was arrested in July 2015 that he chose San Francisco because of its sanctuary city ordinances.

Bannon describes election campaign meeting as “treasonous”

Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has described the Trump Tower meeting between the president’s son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”

Bannon, speaking to author Michael Wolff, warned that the investigation into alleged collusion with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering and predicted: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV,” according to  “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”

The book reportedly is based on more than 200 interviews with the president, his inner circle and players in and around the administration.  Bannon, who was chief executive of the Trump campaign in its final three months, then White House chief strategist for seven months before returning to Breitbart News, is a central figure.

He is particularly scathing about a June 2016 meeting involving Trump’s son Donald Jr, son-in-law Jared Kushner, then campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York. A trusted intermediary had promised documents that would “incriminate” rival Hillary Clinton.  The meeting was revealed by the New York Times in July last year, prompting Trump Jr. to say no consequential material was produced. “Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic…and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Bannon said according to Wolff.

Wolff is a prominent media critic and columnist who has written for the Guardian and is a biographer of Rupert Murdoch. He previously conducted interviews for the Hollywood Reporter with Trump in June 2016 and Bannon a few months later.  He told the Guardian in November that to research the book, he showed up at the White House with no agenda but wanting to “find out what the insiders were really thinking and feeling”. He enjoyed extraordinary access to Trump and senior officials and advisers, he said, sometimes at critical moments of the fledgling presidency.

Steve Bannon

Thursday, January 4 (Day 350):

White House releases statement about Steve Bannon

President Donald Trump responded personally to his former chief strategist Steve Bannon’s comments about his family members Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr.  The statement was released to reporters by press secretary Sarah Sanders prior to the White House press briefing.

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party.

“Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base—he’s only in it for himself.

“Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.

Mercers’ cut financial ties with Bannon

“I support President Trump and the platform upon which he was elected,” billionaire conservative donor Rebekah Mercer said.  “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements.

Mercer did say she remains committed in her support of Breitbart News where she holds a minority stake and where Bannon serves as chairman.

President Trump sends cease and desist letters to book publisher, Bannon

President Donald Trump is going to war against Michael Wolff’s book, sending a cease and desist letter to his publisher. The letter demands that Wolff apologize to Donald Trump for “defamatory statements” and demanding that they not publish the book.

Trump’s lawyers also sent a cease and desist letter to his former aide Steve Bannon, complaining that he had breached his non-disclosure agreement. The letter read:   “On behalf of our clients, legal notice was issued today to Stephen K. Bannon, that his actions of communicating with author Michael Wolff regarding an upcoming book give rise to numerous legal claims including defamation by libel and slander, and breach of his written confidentiality and non-disparagement agreement with our clients. Legal action is imminent.”

But according to Axios, Wolff spent a lot of time with Trump officials in and out of the West Wing, including with Bannon, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and his deputy Katie Walsh. The book was sanctioned by the White House, although Trump aides are blaming Bannon for enabling Wolff. Wolff has dozens of hours of recorded conversations with Trump officials even though many of them thought they were off the record.


Friday, January 5 (Day 351):

Billy Graham:  Americans “wake up” to the evil of abortion

In a series of posts on social media, Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of famed evangelical leader Billy Graham, has blasted an Ohio abortion campaign led by Preterm, the largest abortion clinic in Ohio that has erected a series of 16 billboards praising abortion in the Greater Cleveland area with messages that say:  “Abortion Is Life-Saving,” “Abortion Is Safer Than Childbirth,” “Abortion Is Sacred,” and “Abortion Is a Blessing.”

Graham decrying the pro-abortion slogans as “lies” and inviting Americans not to lose their sense of right and wrong is calling Americans to “wake up” to the evil of abortion.

Citing the biblical prophet Isaiah, Graham wrote: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,” and saying that the Ohio abortion business is doing just that by pretending that killing an unborn baby is somehow “life-saving” and “sacred.”

“Here’s a billboard for them—‘Abortion is evil, because it’s murder,’” Graham tweeted.  “Pray that America will wake up to the tragedy of children being killed through abortion every day in this nation,” he added.

With its billboard campaign, Preterm says it aims to “shift the public conversation on abortion away from the black-and-white political rhetoric.”  On its website announcing the campaign, Preterm writes that abortion “is a normal and necessary part of people’s lives” as well as being “foundational to a just society where we can live life on our own terms.”

The pro-abortion campaign follows hard on the heels of the passage of a new Ohio law prohibiting the selective killing of babies with Down syndrome through abortion.  In late December, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed the “Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act” into law to protect children with Down syndrome from becoming victims of abortion because of their condition.

“While every unborn child deserves protection from abortion death, House Bill 214 is helpful in protecting those targeted for destruction due to cultural bigotry against babies identified before birth as ‘abnormal’ or ‘imperfect’ due to a Down Syndrome prediction,” Cincinnati Right to Life said in a statement.

Trump Administration announces freezing $1 billion in funds to Pakistan

The Trump Administration has just announced it is freezing upwards of $1 billion in security assistance funds to Pakistan.  From 2002 to 2017, the United States has given Pakistan nearly $34 billion in economic, humanitarian, and security aid. On average, over the last five years, the United States has pledged over $1 billion in security funding. In fiscal year 2017, the U.S. had pledged nearly $1.2 billion in total security funding. $250 million of that U.S. aid was earmarked for purchasing military equipment. The rest was allocated for reimbursing Pakistan for its alleged counter-terrorism operations. As of this week, most of that $1.2 billion is now frozen. Pakistan could be denied close to another $1 billion in 2018.

Trump administration asks Congress for $18 billon for the wall

The Trump administration has asked Congress to set aside $18 billion over the next decade to install or replace more than 700 miles of the barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The proposal by U.S. Customs and Border Protection would extend the barrier’s coverage to 970 miles, nearly half the distance of the southern border. It includes 316 miles of new construction and 407 miles of replacement or secondary fencing, a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the matter told the Associated Press.

Fusion GPS financial records given to Congress

A bank has reportedly handed over a series of financial records from intelligence firm Fusion GPS after the firm pushed to prevent the documents from being given to Congress.

The release of the documents was in response to a subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee as part of its probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and ties to the Trump campaign.  A congressional lawyer said Friday that TD Bank “produced all remaining responsive documents” to the House Intelligence Committee under the terms of a confidential settlement, CNN reported.

The handover of the 70 documents comes after a federal judge on Thursday dismissed the firm’s protests to the documents being turned over to Congress. Fusion GPS has argued that records turned over to Congress are likely to leak, potentially exposing their clients’ identities, violating the firm’s First Amendment rights and damaging their business.  The firm said on Thursday it would appeal the judge’s ruling

Fusion GPS had contracted former British intelligence agent Christopher Steel for research that later became part of a dossier of unverified claims about President Trump‘s ties to Russia. Trump and other Republicans have since slammed the dossier as politically motivated, claims that the intelligence firm has dismissed.

Two Republican senators earlier in the day Friday recommended that the Justice Department criminally investigate the author of the Trump dossier, which contains salacious and unverified claims about President Trump’s ties to Russia. Republicans are concerned the dossier may have been the impetus behind the federal inquiry looking into possible Russian collusion between that country and the Trump campaign.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a senior committee member, told the DOJ they believe Christopher Steele, the former British spy who helped put together the dossier, knowingly lied to federal authorities about his communications with U.S. journalists.


Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He has worked 23 years as a middle school teacher.  Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email: [email protected]

Mr. Hernandez is dedicating himself to advance the 13 spheres –as a “City Upon A Hill”; developing an interactive California citizens news platform as an alternative to mainstream media; while building local school-community partnerships and supporting constitutional awareness and active citizenship.

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One Response to Iran Protests, Sanctuary State and Bannon’s Big Mouth – The Fourth 100 Days (Trump Briefs:  Dec. 30-Jan. 5/Day 345-351) Week 50

  1. Steve January 11, 2018 at 6:43 am

    Sanctuary State? Another nail in California’s coffin. Yet, the ignorant allow their “representatives” in Sacramento to continue with their misdirected ideas that become insane laws.


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