The Third 100 Days (Trump Briefs: August 12-18/Day 205-211) Week 30

By Michael Hernandez

 

Saturday, August 12 (Day 205):

North Korea ‘on standby’ to launch

North Korea took its turn Saturday in the country’s escalating, back-and-forth with President Trump, with the state-run newspaper saying leader Kim Jung Un’s revolutionary army is “capable of fighting any war the U.S. wants.”

The assertion was made in an editorial that also states the Paektusan army is now “on the standby to launch fire into its mainland, waiting for an order of final attack.”  The editorial also argued that the United States “finds itself in an ever worsening dilemma, being thrown into the grip of extreme security unrest by the DPRK (North Korea). This is tragicomedy of its own making. … If the Trump administration does not want the American empire to meet its tragic doom in its tenure, they had better talk and act properly.”

DPRK stands for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The editorial appears to be in response to a series of comments made by Trump in recent days, most recently Friday that the United States is “locked and loaded.” The president’s recent comments are in response to Kim threatening a missile attack on U.S. territory Guam.

Trump, meanwhile, continues to pursue a diplomatic solution to North Korea’s purported development of a nuclear warhead that could reach the United States and other countries on an intercontinental ballistic missile. The White House says Trump has a phone conversation Friday with Chinese President Xi Jinping in which the leaders reiterated their commitment to the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  The president also saluted Xi for China’s recent United Nations vote to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea, in response the country’s escalating pursuit of nuclear weapons, according to the White House.

As the crisis has unfolded, Trump has alternated praising China for its help and chiding it for not doing more. The White House says Trump also told Xi he looked forward to seeing him in China later this year.

During Trump’s phone conversation Friday with Xi, the Chinese leader also requested that the U.S. and North Korea tone down their recent rhetoric and avoid actions that could worsen tensions between the two nations, Chinese Central Television reported.  “At present, the relevant parties must maintain restraint and avoid words and deeds that would exacerbate the tension on the Korean Peninsula,” Xi was quoted as saying.

Trump has urged China to pressure North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program, which North Korea says is nearing the capability of targeting the United States.  China is the North’s biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can’t compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.

Trump also spoke this weekend with Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo, reassuring him that U.S. military forces stand ready to ensure the safety and security of the U.S. territory, a White House statement said.

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Saturday to do “everything, to the best of my ability,” to protect his nation’s people as tensions escalate over North Korea’s plans to send missiles over Japan toward Guam. On Friday, Japan’s Defense Ministry said it was deploying four surface-to-air Patriot interceptors in western Japan to respond to a possible risk of fragments falling from missiles.

President Donald Trump resumed warnings to Kim Jong-un, saying that the North Korean dictator would “truly regret it” if he issued another overt threat to Guam. “If he utters one threat, in the form of an overt threat … or if he does anything with respect to Guam, or any place else that’s an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast,” Trump said.

President Trump calls Guam Governor

President Donald Trump called Guam Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo to reassure him and his people that the United States is behind them “1,000 percent.” “We are with you 1,000 percent. You are safe. … And I wanted to call you and say hello,” Trump said. “How are you?”

“Mr. President, as the governor of Guam and as an American citizen, I have never felt more safe or confident with you at the helm,” Calvo replied and posted a video of the phone call to his Facebook page, informing the people of Guam that he had just spoken with the president and Chief of Staff General John Kelly about the threat North Korea poses.

He praised Trump for his leadership, lamenting the criticism coming from Washington, DC, bureaucrats and the media.  “With all the criticism going over there, from a guy that’s being targeted, we need a president like you,” he said. “So I’m just so thankful, and I’m glad you’re holding the helm, sir.”

“Don’t worry about a thing,” Trump responded. “They should have had me eight years ago.”  Trump predicted that the governor would become “extremely famous” and that tourism would increase “tenfold” with all of the attention surrounding the territory.  “It looks beautiful. You know I’m watching. It’s such a big story in the news. It just looks like a beautiful place,” he said.

“If you can recall, just going back to 2013, this is about the third, fourth threat made by North Korea specifically to Guam, as well as other facilities or bases in Asia as well as the States – Hawaii and the West Coast,” Calvo pointed out. “We’ve got right now 160,000 American citizens on this island, 50,000 American citizens in the Northern Marianas. On any given day, we’ve got ten to fifteen thousand tourists enjoying our shores,” the governor said

Calvo invited the president to visit the island, and Trump invited him to come to Washington anytime.  “It could happen,” Trump said. “Please say hello to the people of Guam, give them my highest respect and regards, and I will see you.”

Ohio man drives into Charlottesville protesters

An Ohio man is accused of driving a car into a crowd of people protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 others, police said late Saturday.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, was booked into the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail on one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of failing to stop at an accident that resulted in a death.

Saturday’s rally, which featured prominent white supremacists like Richard Spencer and former KKK leader David Duke, rapidly devolved into chaos when apparent white supremacist James Fields drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, ultimately killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19. Two members of the Virginia State Police force were also killed that day after their helicopter crashed outside Charlottesville as they were monitoring the protests.

Fields is currently being held without bail on suspicion of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one hit-and-run count. His next court hearing is scheduled for August 25.

President Donald Trump issued a statement about the riots on Saturday but quickly drew sharp criticism for failing to specifically condemn the white supremacists who had sparked the violence.  He issued a subsequent statement on Monday, in which he denounced the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and “other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

Fallout is continuing over President Trump’s heated press conference over the violence in Charlottesville in which he said,   “I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it. And you don’t have any doubt about it either.”

Republicans and Democrats alike have roundly criticized Trump. CNN reporting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was “upset.”  During his contentious press conference Trump insisted there “very fine people on both sides” at the rally and that the supposed “alt-left” charged “with clubs in their hands.” 

In response, former KKK grand wizard David Duke tweeted his thanks for the “courage to tell the truth.”

 

Sunday, August 13 (Day 206):

Governor Brown seeks sanctuary city ‘balancing act’

California’s “sanctuary state” bill, which would prevent the state from assisting U.S. immigrations and customs enforcement (ICE) agents from enforcing federal immigration law, is facing some surprising criticism from — of all people — the Golden’s State’s Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown.

In spite of the fact that the bill passed in the state Senate last month, Brown told NBC News’ Meet the Press last weekend: “The goal here is to block and not to collaborate with abuse of federal power. It is a balancing act. It does require some sensitivity. And that’s why I take a more nuanced and careful approach to dealing with what is a difficult problem.” He added: “Because you do have people who are not here legally, they’ve committed crimes. They have no business in the United States in the manner in which they’ve come and conducted themselves subsequently.”

“Sanctuary state” bill SB 54, also known as the “California Values Act,” introduced by Senate Leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), has reportedly been amended to create exceptions for serious and violent crimes. However, the San Jose Mercury News notes that the bill’s opponents say the bill still does not cover enough offenses. The Mercury News writes, “They argue that California already places restrictions on such collaboration, and that the new bill would make it even harder for the feds to apprehend suspects before they are released from a county jail.”

Last week, Gov. Brown told Meet the Press that SB 54, did not, in fact, declare California to be a “sanctuary state.”

 

Monday, August 14 (Day 207):

US could wipe out North Korea in 15 minutes

Retired Gen. Tom McInerney on Monday said the United States has the capability to take out every city in North Korea, if Kim Jong Un were to fire artillery into Seoul, South Korea. “If he gets our full nuclear retaliatory capability, within minutes after one round going into Seoul, there will be nothing left,” McInerney told Liz Claman on “Countdown to the Closing Bell.” “If you go to Airborne Alert—we used to call it “Chrome Dome”—with nuclear weapons and then we start building up our other forces, et cetera, he will not last 15 minutes.”

Freedom Caucus:   ‘Let’s simply repeal Obamacare’

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the former chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said that GOP lawmakers should “act like Republicans — let’s simply repeal Obamacare.”

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and other members of the Freedom Caucus filed a discharge petition on Friday to repeal Obamacare.

The discharge petition, if it receives 218 signatures in the House, would force lawmakers to vote on a clean repeal bill of Obamacare. The clean repeal legislation was drafted by Rep. Jordan, which passed the House and the Senate in 2015. The bill, H.R. 1436, would repeal most parts of Obamacare by the end of 2018.

Majority Leader Dick Armey said it best, ‘When we act like us we win, we act like them we lose.’ I’ve spent the last ten days crisscrossing through Ohio and just like other Americans I expect that people are saying, ‘Why don’t you guys act like they did when you campaigned for the job?’  That’s the frustrating part.

 

Tuesday, August 15 (Day 208):

North Korea backs down from threats to Guam

North Korea has backed down from a threat to fire missiles at Guam according to a North Korean state media reported cited by the Wall Street Journal.

“Director Kim Joun-Un had decided against the missile attack, after making preparations to launch it.  He warned that North Korea was still ready to attack Guam if the U.S. continued to make “arrogant provocations” and “unilateral demands.”

President Trump pressured China to engage with North Korea and the Chinese suggested last week that they would not defend North Korea if they attacked the U.S. as long as the U.S. retaliation did not actually try to end the regime itself.

 

Wednesday, August 16 (Day 209):

FBI reopens investigation of Lynch and Clinton Phoenix airport meeting

After being caught hiding the truth from the American people, the FBI has “reopened” and investigation in the meeting between former Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) just received a letter from the FBI bureaucracy stating it has “reopened” the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request into the clandestine meeting between Lynch and former President Clinton while the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI were conducting a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton.

The FBI’s letter – dated one week after the Comey-led FBI stated last October that it had “no” records responsive to ACLJ’s request – now states that “records potentially responsive to the request may exist.”

The documents received . . . from the Department of Justice include several emails from the FBI to DOJ officials concerning the meeting.  One with the subject line “FLAG” was correspondence between FBI officials (Richard Quinn, FBI Media/Investigative Publicity, and Michael Kortan) and DOJ officials concerning “flag[ing] a story . . . about a casual, unscheduled meeting between former president Bill Clinton and the Attorney General.”

The DOJ official instructs the FBI to “let me know if you get any questions about this” and provides “[o]ur talkers [DOJ talking points] on this”. The talking points, however are redacted (not disclosed).  Another email to the FBI contains the subject line “security details coordinate between Loretta Lynch/Bill Clinton?”

On July 1, 2016 – just days before our FOIA request – a DOJ email chain under the subject line, “FBI just called,” indicates that the “FBI . . . is looking for guidance” in responding to media inquiries about news reports that the FBI had prevented the press from taking pictures of the Clinton Lynch meeting. The discussion then went off email to several phone calls (of which we are not able to obtain records). An hour later, Carolyn Pokomy of the Office of the Attorney General stated, “I will let Rybicki know.” Jim Rybicki was the Chief of Staff and Senior Counselor to FBI Director Jim Comey. The information that was to be provided to Rybicki is redacted.

The American Center for Law and Justice has turned over all documents received to the Senate Judiciary Committee which is conducting its own investigation.  The ACLJ has also posted a timeline and the full documents, which show evidence of: Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s secret email alias; Numerous redactions, including main “talking points,” in circumvention of FOIA; Comey-led FBI lies on the existence of requested documents; DOJ-Media collusion; A White House connection; and Revelations that Obama-loyalists are now investigating themselves.

Defector:  Christianity thrives in North Korea

An anonymous defector interviewed by the Telegraph says that Christianity is spreading in North Korea as fewer citizens consider dictator Kim Jong-Un a god.

According to the latest International Religious Freedom Report authored by the U.S. State Department—the Christian population in North Korea has increased dramatically—at least five-fold—from about 37,000 known practicing Christians in 2012 to between 200,000 and 400,000 now.  The State Department which gathered data from the United Nations and Cornerstone Ministries International (CMI), acknowledged the number of Christians in North Korea may be higher.

An estimated 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners, some imprisoned for religious reasons, were believed to be held in the political prison camp system in remote areas with many family members under the policy of guilt by association.

A 2014 report of he United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the Human Rights Situation of North Korea reports that the communist country considers Christianity a serious threat.  “The report concluded Christians faced persecution, violence, and heavy punishment if they practiced their religion outside the state-controlled churches.”

In North Korea, “there was an almost complete denial by the government of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.”

 

Thursday, August 17 (Day 210):

Jihadist terrorists attack Spain:  20 dead after multiple attacks

Spain suffered four incidents believed to be related to terrorism, including two deadly attacks, in little over 24 hours between Wednesday and Thursday, which left 14 victims dead, up to 80 injured and as many as six suspected terrorists dead.

Spanish authorities have identified the attacks as Jihadist terrorism and two suspects have been arrested—one Moroccan and one Spanish citizen from Melilla, the Spanish enclave in Morocco. 

The main attack took place in Barcelona at the city’s tourist hotspot Las Ramblas which is lined with cafes and bars.   A van drove at high speed swerving to target people on foot.  Less than three house later, there was a second incident—this time on the outskirts of Barcelona as a car drove into police officers manning a checkpoint—no officers were killed, the driver was found dead in the car, having suffered fatal knife wounds.

The third attack came as suspected terrorists again drove into police in Cambrils.  A police officer was injured and six others.  Police opened fired on the attackers as they emerged from the car, carrying knives and wearing explosive vests.  All five attackers were killed.

A fourth event took place in Alcanar, a town 120 miles from Barcelona.  A huge explosion destroyed a house.   Dozens of bottles of propane and butane were found at the address.

The police operation following the attacks is still active with at least one attacker named as Moussa Oukabir known to be on the loose.

2017 has seen a terror attack attempted in Europe every seven days

In total, at least 63 people have been killed by mostly Islamic terrorists in 2017 with over 315 injured.  Out of 30 attacks in Europe in 2017, just two were not related to Islam or Muslims.  Attacks and attempted attacks have taken place in Austria, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Norway and Germany.

British security is tracking 23,000 potential terror suspects and Belgium security is tracking 18,000 potential jihadists.   Some 14 terror attacks have occurred in Turkey, a NATO member currently being considered for European Union membership.

Democrat seeks impeachment against Trump for Charlottesville remarks

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) said he is taking the first step towards implementing impeachment articles against President Trump for his remarks on the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Cohen claims that Trump supported white supremacists when the  president condemned the violence “on both sides” following the attack.

“Instead of unequivocally condemning hateful actions by neo-Nazis, white nationalists and Klansmen following a national tragedy, the president said ‘there were very fine people on both sides.’  There are no good Nazis.  There are no good Klansmen,” Cohen said in a statement.

Former pro football coach leads effort to remove confederate monument

Hall of Famer and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy has helped raised funds o have a Confederate monument removed from a downtown Tampa courthouse.

The Hillsborough County commissioners said the statue would be removed if $140,000 in private money could be raised to cover the cost.  After putting up $5,000 of his own money, Dungy challenged the Bucs as well as the Tampa Bay Rays and Lightning to contribute which they did—reaching the project goal.

“Our organizations  have dedicated funds to assist in moving the statue from the public space in front of  the courthouse.  Now more than ever before, we must stand united and committed to diversity and inclusion as we all attempt to heal from the tragedy in Charlottesville.”

Vice President supports President Trump’s response to weekend events

Vice President Mike Pence when asked in part, “Do you agree with the president that there were good people among the white supremacist protesters…” after a considerable pause, Pence responded.  He said, “What happened in Charlottesville was a tragedy and the president has been clear on this tragedy and so have I. I spoke at length about this heartbreaking situation on Sunday night in Colombia and I stand with the president and I stand by those words.”

Pence added: “Our hearts are in Charlottesville” and that his family is praying for Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed when a car plowed into rally protesters.  Pence’s words of support came just hours after Trump’s decision to axe both of his business advisory councils amid resignations from CEOs due to his response to the violence.

Threats force Hollywood Cemetery to remove Confederate memorial

The Hollywood Forever Cemetery will remove a memorial to Confederate veterans buried at the site, due to threats of vandalism and requests from activists (60 calls and emails/day), according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

“Since 1925, the 6-foot monument has stood in the Confederate section of the cemetery, where more than 30 Confederate veterans, along with their families, are buried.”

The memorial is owned by he Long Beach chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy who agreed to take down the memorial when approached by the cemetery director.     

 

Friday, August 18 (Day 211):

Trump pays August Obamacare insurance subsidies

The Trump administration agreed to continue paying Obamacare “cost-sharing-reduction” payments that subsidize insurance companies for covering individuals who earn between 100 to 250 percent of the poverty rate (those earning between $12,060 to 30,150) despite suggesting he would not do so and despite the possibility that the payments will be declared unconstitutional.

Obamacare was supposedly designed so insurance plans would pay 70 percent of the expected healthcare expenses and enrollees would pay 30 percent of the expected costs for services, through cost sharing measures such as deductibles, copayments and coinsurance.  But the Obama administration chose to make cost-sharing-reduction (CSR)  payments directly to insurance companies.

Covered California guarantees health insurers’ profits to save exchange

While the inflation rate is 1.6 percent, Covered California is granting healthcare insurers average premium increases of 12.5 percent.   The national average cost of healthcare for a family of four is now $17,322.  But in California, the average family healthcare premium is $18,045.

The nation’s largest healthcare insurer, United Healthcare has tripled profits since Obamacare passed and it’s stock has risen 522 percent.

Chief Strategist leaves White House ‘to go to war for Trump’

President Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has left the White House just a year after joining the Trump presidential campaign.

“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,” Bannon told Bloomberg Businessweek’s Joshua Green. 

In an interview with the American Prospect published on Wednesday, Bannon said his enemies were “wetting themselves” about his agenda. He specifically criticized White House economic adviser Gary Cohn and “Goldman Sachs lobbying” in the White House.

One White House aide said he departure was a long time coming, and that Bannon actually submitted his resignation in writing two weeks ago.  Conservative leaders wrote to the president last week advising him that Bannon and campaign manager-turned-counselor Kellyanne Conway were too valuable to lose. Supporters of Bannon say that he has delivered for the movement, reportedly convincing President Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords and to visit Israel on his first trip abroad.

Bannon was also probably the only person who could deliver honest advice and criticism to the president, because he did not need the job. He is a self-made man, and not a Washington climber. Thus, it was Bannon that reportedly told Trump that firing former FBI director James Comey would be more trouble than it was worth.

Former White House Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon returned as Executive Chairman of Breitbart News Friday afternoon and chaired the company’s evening editorial meeting.  Ranked the #63 website in America by Amazon-owned ‪Alexa.com, and with the #13 Facebook page in the world, Breitbart News is considered the most influential populist website in the world.

“The populist-nationalist movement got a lot stronger today,” said Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow. “Breitbart gained an executive chairman with his finger on the pulse of the Trump agenda.”  Breitbart News CEO and President Larry Solov agreed.  “Breitbart’s pace of global expansion will only accelerate with Steve back,” said Solov. “The sky’s the limit.”

The Drudge Report hailed Bannon as a “populist hero” who enjoyed an “impressive run” during his tenure as President Trump’s top White House strategist and campaign CEO.

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 West 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.


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