Category Archives: International news

It ain’t the flu; let’s treat this outbreak with seriousness

(Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Donald J. Trump keeps downplaying the severity of the health crisis that threatens to turn into a global pandemic.

He keeps telling us the flu kills thousands of Americans annually and that the Covid-19 virus has taken only a fraction of that amount.

What’s the problem? he wonders.

Here is the problem as I see it, Mr. President: The strain of coronavirus that is causing near panic in many countries has the potential of being far worse than influenza. It is being transmitted by casual contact, what medical/science experts refer to as “community transmission.”

We need to treat this matter with all due seriousness, not pass it off as some sort of “Democrat hoax,” which Trump has called it. We have to establish clear, concise and coherent lines of communication; the White House cannot tolerate any more contradictions from the president of the medical experts who keep telling us the truth about the threat we face.

I continue to believe Wall Street’s reaction to this crisis is partly a result of the clumsy, stumblebum response we keep hearing from the White House and from the president. Yes, there’s also that oil-price fight being waged by Saudi Arabia and Russia, which has sent the price of petroleum plummeting; it’s good for you and me at the fuel pump, but it’s playing hell with the fossil fuel industry, which — for better or worse — still is a key economic driver in this country.

So, let’s stop with the flu comparisons, shall we? The Covid-19 outbreak has turned into a crisis that needs to be treated as a matter that well could put billions of human beings in dire peril.

Can this peace deal take root … with the Taliban involved?

You may count me as one American who wants like the dickens for the peace deal worked out with the terrorist group Taliban to work.

However, you also may count me as one who is suspicious to the max of any deal involving this treacherous band of cutthroat, extremist fanatics.

The Trump administration has announced a deal with the Taliban that will involve a fairly rapid drawdown of U.S. troops from the battlefield in Afghanistan. Donald Trump vowed to end our nation’s longest war. I want him to succeed in that effort.

The deal is fraught with peril.

It depends on whether the Taliban make good on their end of the deal, which includes a pledge to no longer support international terror efforts and to cease being a haven for terrorist groups … which is what got us involved in this war starting with the attacks on 9/11. We all remember that, yes?

I find it fascinating that when Barack Obama once said he would “talk” to the terror group, he was vilified by those who called him soft on terrorists. Now it’s Donald Trump who did the talking, but … where’s the criticism? Hmm. Go figure.

As the Associated Press reported: Under the agreement, the U.S. would draw down its forces to 8,600 from 13,000 in the next three to four months, with the remaining U.S. forces withdrawing in 14 months. The complete pullout would depend on the Taliban meeting their commitments to prevent terrorism, including specific obligations to renounce al-Qaida and prevent that group or others from using Afghan soil to plot attacks on the U.S. or its allies.

Can we really and truly depend on the Taliban to keep their word?

Let us hope so.

Trump denies Russians are helping him … imagine that!

(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Of course Donald John Trump would deny the Russians are helping him win re-election.

Of course, too, that he would blame the story on Democrats seeking to undermine his effort to win a second presidential term.

Except for this known fact: The president asked another foreign government, Ukraine, to help him win re-election by digging up dirt on a potential political rival. There’s also the denial that Russians delivered in Trump’s presence, which Trump endorsed despite the analysis of the U.S. intelligence network.

Donald Trump’s corrupt tendencies are on full display as this story continues to grow more legs and wings.

Trump fired former acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire because the former DNI had the temerity to brief congressional leaders of both parties about what his office had learned, that Russians are working to attack our electoral system this year, just as they did in 2016. The source of Trump’s anger? That Maguire would tell Democrats while doing his job as the nation’s top intelligence officer.

He now has installed Richard Grenell, a longstanding Trump loyalist, as the latest acting DNI. Grenell has no intelligence experience; he has no background on which to draw even as he fills this post on a temporary basis. He’s a Trump toadie who won’t give an honest and unvarnished assessment of national security threats to the commander in chief.

You want more corruption evidence? How about reports that Trump has instructed the White House personnel office to purge the administration of anyone who has even whispered a negative statement about the president? He wants nothing but yes men and women.

Donald Trump scares the daylights out of me.

You mean the Russians are interfering again? Wow! Who’da thunk it?

It can’t be. The Russians cannot possibly attack our electoral system yet again after what they did in 2016. Can they?

I guess they can! The New York Times is reporting that the Russians are at it once more. Indeed, now we hear that Donald John Trump, the nation’s current president, was so angry over the news that he fired the acting director of national intelligence and installed a loyalist into the job as the latest acting  DNI.

Actually, it is being reported that Trump got mad because the former acting DNI, Joseph Maguire, consented to a congressional briefing. That’s reportedly why he replaced him with U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Grennell, a guy with zero experience at any level of intelligence, let alone at the director of national intelligence level.

Let’s remember that Trump dismissed the 2016 election attack, most infamously in 2018 at the Helsinki press event in which he stood next to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and backed Putin’s denial over the U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia had interfered in the previous presidential election.

Now we hear that the Russians have done it again!

This is scary in the extreme. Trump already is known to have solicited another foreign government, Ukraine, for a political favor. It got him impeached by the House of Representatives.

Here come the Russians once more, working to re-elect the president. They want to ensure that Trump gets a second term as POTUS, a move that is sure to sow as many seeds of anger and mistrust in our electoral system that the 2016 attack managed to accomplish.

Think of it. That’s precisely what the Russians want to do.

Didn’t the president take an oath to protect this nation against its enemies? Didn’t he vow to keep us and our institutions safe from this kind of attack?

What the … whatever?

It was the manner of the firing that rankles us, Mr. POTUS

Hey, I absolutely understand that a president of the United States needs to trust those who are closest to him and that the POTUS has the authority to hire and fire staffers at will.

Thus, when Donald John Trump, the nation’s current president, fied Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council staff after Vindman offered negative impeachment testimony to congressional questioners, I get it.

However, the manner of the dismissal and the spectacle that Trump and his senior White House staff made of it is what gets under my skin.

Lt. Col. Vindman is a war hero. He is a decorated Army officer who has shed blood on the battlefield in defense of his adopted country. He is a Ukraine native who came to this country as a toddler when his parents fled the Soviet Union.

How did the president let him go? By ordering him escorted out of the White House in broad daylight. He was shown the door and told, in effect, to “hit the road.” What’s more, so was Vindman’s twin brother, who had not a single thing to do with the Ukraine matter that got Vindman on the wrong side of the president. Yevgeny Vindman’s only “sin” is to be related to twin bro Alex.

Why couldn’t Trump have shown just a touch of discretion, of class, of empathy for a war hero? He could have issued a private directive, told Vindman to vacate his White House office. Then he could have issued a simple statement declaring that he had relieved Vindman of his duties based on, oh, “differences in policy.” Sure, those who had paid any attention to what Vindman said during the House impeachment hearings would know what he means … but that would be for us to determine.

That isn’t how Donald Trump rolls. He wants to make spectacles of others around him, not to mention of himself.

Mr. POTUS, doesn’t Bibi’s indictment matter?

Hey, wait a second!

Donald John Trump allegedly is so worried about corruption in Ukraine that he decided to ask the Ukrainians to investigate whether a potential political foe here at home, Joe Biden, was stained by ill deeds.

It has gotten the nation’s current president into a heap of trouble. The House of Representatives impeached him for it and the Senate is conducting a trial this very moment.

However, why isn’t our president concerned about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s indictment for — um, let’s see — oh yeah, corruption? The indictment alleges fraud, bribery and breach of trust. That’s a big deal, right?

He and Bibi stood in the White House to announce a draft Middle East peace plan. Netanyahu calls Trump the best friend Israel can possibly have.

The Israeli courts have indicted him, though, on corruption charges that one would think should rankle the world’s No. 1 corruption fighter, Donald Trump.

Wouldn’t they?

Zero, to 34, now to 50 injuries in missile attack

What’s going on at the Pentagon?

The Iranians fired ballistic missiles at our forces in Iraq in response to our killing of Qassem Soulaimani, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Hey, this was a bad dude, a ruthless terrorist chieftain.

The missiles landed on our base. The Pentagon and Donald Trump said immediately there were zero U.S. casualties.

Wait! Then the number rose suddenly to 34 service personnel. The brass said they suffered traumatic brain injury when the missiles blew up.

Now we hear the number has reached 50 military personnel.

Is this how it goes now? The public gets information handed out in dribs and drabs.

We all are grateful that none of the injuries is life-threatening. Most of the personnel who were injured have returned to duty.

This sloppy information release seems all too common in an administration that simply cannot seem to get its story straight the first time.

The men and women who serve us — as well as their families who pray for their safety while they stand in harm’s way — need to know the whole truth all the time.

Russia, Ukraine … which one attacked us in 2016?

Donald John Trump’s defense team today introduced, albeit gently, the notion that Ukraine might have joined its mortal enemy Russia in attacking our 2016 presidential election.

Trump is on trial for his job in the U.S. Senate. The House of Reps’ managers gave it their best shot in their opening argument. Now it’s Trump’s turn.

So what did the legal eagles representing the current president offer? They suggested that Ukraine might have attacked the U.S. election in 2016. But wait!

Russia and Ukraine are at war. Russia re-annexed Crimea, a part of Ukraine. Russia-backed rebels are fighting Ukraine government forces. Thousands of people have been killed.

An alleged Ukrainian attack on our election, of course, is a Russian propaganda talking point, which Republicans in the Senate and House have been parroting. Moreover, U.S. intelligence experts have concluded unanimously that Russia acted alone in attacking our system in 2016, even though Donald Trump keeps denying their findings and disparaging their expertise.

I have to ask: Does it make any semblance of sense for Ukraine and Russia to — and pardon the expression — “collude” to interfere together to influence the outcome of a U.S. presidential election?

My head is spinning.

Where’s the ‘intelligence’ at the briefing?

When a leading Republican supporter of Donald J. Trump comes out of an intelligence briefing and calls it the “worst” one he’s heard in his time as a U.S. senator, then it looks as though the president has some trouble on his hands.

Mike Lee of Utah came out of the briefing today to blast the briefers. He called the event “sophomoric,” and was highly critical of the national security team’s instruction to avoid any debate about what they learned behind closed doors.

Lee didn’t like what he heard. What’s more, he said so out loud.

The briefing came from some Trump administration heavyweights, including CIA Director Gina Haspel and Defense Secretary Mark Esper; a third briefer was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who I should add has emerged as a high-profile disappointment as the nation’s top diplomat.

At issue was the justification for killing Iranian Revolutionary Guard chieftain Qassem Solemaini. The president said Iran was planning an “imminent attack” on U.S. interests and that the air strike in Baghdad was meant as a “defensive” measure. He didn’t provide any evidence of such an “imminent” attack. Senators came out of today’s briefing saying the national security team didn’t provide anything new, either.

Iran responded with the missile attack against two U.S. bases in Iraq. The missiles didn’t inflict any casualties. Iran backed down. Trump said the United States would not pursue any further military action. “All is well,” the president said via Twitter. Well, it isn’t all well.

What is stunning to me was the anger expressed by Sen. Lee, who until now has stood foursquare behind the president. He said the briefers’ admonition was “insulting.”

This is the troubling aspect of the hit against Solemaini. The strike itself needed to happen. What also needed to occur was the development of a cogent after-action strategy by the Trump administration.

It appears that there is nothing of the sort available for public review.

Trump had reason to bask in glory of the moment, but then …

Donald J. Trump had every reason on Earth to soak up the good vibes from the events of the past few hours.

Iran had vowed a deadly response to the killing of Revolutionary Guard chieftain Qassem Solemaini. It then launched a couple dozen ballistic missiles at two air bases in Iraq; they inflicted zero U.S. casualties and minimal damage.

The president had threatened Iran with destruction if it chose to go to war with the United States. It appears to me that Iran heeded the president’s threat, peeling back its response that well might have been meant only for show.

Right there is reason for Donald Trump to declare that his threats worked well for the national interest.

But then came the following.

The president just had to declare, with zero evidence to buttress his contention, that Iran paid for the missiles it launched with cash delivered by the United States as part of the international deal struck to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

There he went, blaming President Barack Obama for consummating a deal that Trump has called one of the worst in human history.

I should note here that international observers have said Iran was complying with the terms of the agreement. Iran has now decided to abandon all the principles laid out in that deal and it now will resume seeking a nuclear weapon.

It’s the president’s incessant, ongoing pre-disposition to attack a policy enacted by his immediate predecessor that I find annoying, distracting and so totally gratuitous.

My goodness! Donald Trump had all the reason in the world to declare a significant diplomatic victory over Iran, a potentially deadly hostile state. Then he stepped all over himself by declaring something that has no evidentiary basis in fact.

I am cautiously hopeful at this moment that we might have averted a serious and deadly conflict against Iran. Let us just count our blessings for the moment.