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Arab states send Qatar 13 demands to end crisis, official says

Top Reuters News - 2 hours 38 min ago
DUBAI (Reuters) - Four Arab states boycotting Qatar over alleged support for terrorism have sent Doha a list of 13 demands including closing Al Jazeera television and reducing ties to their regional adversary Iran, an official of one of the four countries said.

The Mautes of the Philippines: from monied family to Islamic State

Top Reuters News - 3 hours 40 min ago
MANILA/MARAWI CITY, Philippines (Reuters) - Before they formed one of the most dreaded militant groups in the Philippines and pledged loyalty to Islamic State, the Mautes were a wealthy, political family in the southern region of Mindanao, largely influenced by the matriarch, Farhana.

Senate Republicans unveil Obamacare replacement bill, but fate uncertain

Top Reuters News - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 22:06
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled legislation that would replace Obamacare with a plan that scales back aid to the poor and kills a tax on the wealthy, but the bill's fate was quickly thrown into question as several senators voiced skepticism.

Friend of former South Korea leader jailed for three years: Yonhap

Top Reuters News - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 22:04
SEOUL (Reuters) - The friend of former South Korean leader Park Geun-hye who was at the center of an influence-peddling scandal that rocked the country's business and political elite has been sentenced to three years in jail, the Yonhap news agency reported on Friday.

Is the Left Also to Blame for Political Violence?

RealClearPolitics - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 22:04
T.A. Frank, Vanity Fair
The right is often accused of creating a toxic culture of rage and delusion. But the left has been busy hatching its own problems.

FBI's Utterly Bizarre Briefing on the Baseball Shooting

RealClearPolitics - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 22:04
Mollie Hemingway, Federalist
The FBI gave an utterly bizarre update on its investigation into an attempt to assassinate Republican members of Congress. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) remains in the hospital from the attempt on his life in which two police officers and a congressional staffer were also shot. The hospital upgraded his condition to “fair” and said he faces a long recovery.

There's Actually Good News Buried in Dems' 4 Losses

RealClearPolitics - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 22:04
Norm Ornstein, NY Daily News
Ronald Reagan’s favorite joke was about two young twin boys, one a congenital pessimist, the other a congenital optimist. Trying to cure them both, the father first took the pessimist into a room filled with every imaginable toy and game. The boy burst into tears: “I know you will take them all away from me, or they will break!” He then took the optimist to a room filled with horse manure and a shovel. The boy jumped on the manure and started to shovel away happily. The stunned father asked why. His son said, “There must be a pony in here somewhere!”

Trump nominates Woody Johnson, Jamie McCourt as U.S. ambassadors

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 21:51

President Donald Trump looked to the world of sports ownership to select a pair of ambassadorships Thursday, nominating New York Jets owner Woody Johnson to be America's envoy to the U.K., and former Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Jamie McCourt as ambassador to Belgium. Both have been major Republican donors, and Johnson is a longtime friend of Trump's. Johnson has owned the Jets since 2000, and served more than 30 years as chairman and CEO of private asset-management firm The Johnson Group in New York. McCourt co-owned the Dodgers with her husband, Frank, until a bitter divorce forced the sale of the team in 2011. She also served as the team's CEO, and is a prominent Southern California attorney and investor.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

When a Banyan Tree Hides the Secret to a Korean Enigma

Antiwarblog - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 21:50

About a hundred miles north of Bangalore, India, in the village of Thimmamma Marrimanu grows an eponymous banyan tree. There are all kinds of records for trees: the tallest, the stoutest, the oldest, and so on, but the record for the largest canopy, at an astounding five acres, is held by this banyan. And it also holds the key to the Korean enigma.

North Korea recently released University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who was comatose and substantially brain-dead, and who has now expired. He had the misfortune to become tangled up in an incident while visiting there.

Every so often it also fires off a test missile or more, and President Donald Trump, although dormant on the issue at the moment, can be expected eventually to erupt. The resulting Far East chaos could be catastrophic.

Not too long ago, news agencies including the BBC reported North Korean claims of a plot orchestrated by the CIA to kill Kim Jong-un through bio-chemical attack – a plot foiled apparently by North Korean security. For sometime now the CIA has been severely circumscribed in any assassination endeavors involving foreign leaders, but then there might be ways to bypass the legal restrictions. Whatever the truth, the disturbing fact of unrestrained bellicosity from both sides did have some effect on the May 9, 2017 South Korean election.

The opposition leader Moon Jae-in, who lost the last presidential election to conservative Park Geun-hye, won. Following in the footsteps of his mentor, the late President Roh Moo-hyun, he advocates the ‘sunshine policy’ of openness and closer ties with the North, initiated originally by Roh’s predecessor President Kim Dae-jung – who was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for improving relations with the North.

Mr. Roh’s tenure was less than successful leading to the election of a right-wing, notably religious successor. President Lee Myung-bak wanted nothing to do with the irreligious regime in Pyongyang and quickly reversed direction, ending the then decade old sunshine regime. The North’s subsequent anger and feeling of betrayal had predictable consequences. We now have a nuclear-armed North Korea that believes strongly the South and its protector the U.S. just cannot be trusted.

Talk of reunification then is clearly premature given the present confrontational stance, and Mr. Moon in deference to the US president has cooled off a little. Yet even if he were to coax Kim Jong-un’s cooperation and reinstate the sunshine policy, further progress is hampered by the very different economies. More so, the North’s ruling elite is unlikely to voluntarily relinquish power.

The North is a militarized economy, the South a successful commercial one. Beginning in 1980, South Korea has surged in research. No longer an imitator of mature products, it is now (latest data 2015) among the top three countries granted US patents, behind only the US and Japan, and far surpassing Italy (17,924 vs. 2,645) for example. Its GDP is almost on a par with Canada and ahead of Russia; in 2016 its relatively new Hyundai (4.38% share) and sister Kia (3.69%) branded cars held over four times the market share of long-established Volkswagen (1.84%); and its Samsung cell phones, along with Apple, dominate the market. In comparison, North Korea is a commercial pygmy.

So, is there an answer to the Korean enigma?

In India, the banyan tree is revered and, dating from 1433, Thimmamma Marrimanu especially so. Shielded from the hot sun under its forest-like canopy is a temple. Monkeys, also revered in Hindu mythology, roam freely enjoying the figs – the banyan is a fig tree.

The fig seeds settle in the branches of adjacent trees. A seed sprouts sending down a tendril to the earth below. When it reaches the soil it roots. Dozens of these roots and coiling leaves eventually strangle the host and the tree’s canopy enlarges. Economic tendrils into North Korea can take many forms and need not necessarily strangle the host to continue their presence.

The South has already had the Kaesong Industrial Park six miles across the border in the North. Up to 124 South Korean companies ran factories and businesses there making shoes and clothes primarily. Although diminished by the time it was shut down in 2016, it still employed 55,000 North Koreans. The China model is another example. Training North Korean workers and setting up assembly and eventual manufacture of higher end products will profit both North and South economically; the North in growing a commercial economy and the South in increased profits and more competitive products due to cheaper labor and other costs.

In due course the vast economic canopy will ensure mutual prosperity, and prosperity is addictive. Inevitably it opens the doors to reunification. The sad history of a divided Korea, prey to global forces and fractures beyond anyone’s control will have come to an end.

Arshad M. Khan is a former professor and occasional contributor to the print media and the Internet.

Judge in Michigan blocks deportation of 100 Iraqis

Top Reuters News - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 20:21
(Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the deportation of about 100 Iraqi nationals rounded up in Michigan in recent weeks who argued that they could face persecution or torture in Iraq because they are religious minorities.

Philadelphia 76ers pick Markelle Fultz first in NBA Draft

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 20:02

The Philadelphia 76ers selected Markelle Fultz as the top pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday night. Fultz, a point guard, played one season at Washington before going pro, and was widely expected to be the first player chosen. The 76ers acquired the No. 1 pick earlier this week in a trade with the Boston Celtics, who dropped to the No. 3 pick and picked up a first-round pick next year. The Los Angeles Lakers picked UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball with the second pick, and the Celtics took Duke forward Jayson Tatum third. In the first big trade of the night, the Minnesota Timberwolves acquired All-NBA swingman Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick in the draft. This year's draft is considered to be one of the most talent-rich in years, creating much buzz among fans as teams try to load up with talent to compete with the league's newest superteam, the Golden State Warriors, who have won two of the past three NBA championships.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

Venezuelan troops fire on protesters; one killed

Top Reuters News - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 19:59
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan troops on Thursday fired what appeared to be rubber bullets at protesters as they attacked the perimeter of an airbase, and a demonstrator was killed, bringing the death toll to at least 76 in unrest since April.

Trump to nominate NFL team owner Johnson as U.S. ambassador to Britain

Reuters US Politics - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 19:38
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump will nominate National Football League team owner Woody Johnson as U.S. ambassador to Britain, the White House said on Thursday.

Judge in Michigan blocks deportation of more than 100 Iraqis

Reuters US Politics - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 19:15
(Reuters) - A U.S. district court judge in Michigan has temporarily blocked the deportations of more than 100 Iraqi nationals until a decision is reached over who has jurisdiction over the matter, according to court documents filed on Thursday.

How America Armed Terrorists In Syria

LibertarianInstitute - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 18:37

Another Middle East debacle

Three-term Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a member of both the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, has proposed legislation that would prohibit any U.S. assistance to terrorist organizations in Syria as well as to any organization working directly with them.  Equally important, it would prohibit U.S. military sales and other forms of military cooperation with other countries that provide arms or financing to those terrorists and their collaborators.

Gabbard’s “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” challenges for the first time in Congress a U.S. policy toward the conflict in the Syrian civil war that should have set off alarm bells long ago: in 2012-13 the Obama administration helped its Sunni allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar provide arms to Syrian and non-Syrian armed groups to force President Bashar al-Assad out of power.  And in 2013 the administration began to provide arms to what the CIA judged to be “relatively moderate” anti-Assad groups—meaning they incorporated various degrees of Islamic extremism.

That policy, ostensibly aimed at helping replace the Assad regime with a more democratic alternative, has actually helped build up al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise al Nusra Front into the dominant threat to Assad.

The supporters of this arms-supply policy believe it is necessary as pushback against Iranian influence in Syria. But that argument skirts the real issue raised by the policy’s history.  The Obama administration’s Syria policy effectively sold out the U.S. interest that was supposed to be the touchstone of the “Global War on Terrorism”—the eradication of al Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates. The United States has instead subordinated that U.S. interest in counter-terrorism to the interests of its Sunni allies. In doing so it has helped create a new terrorist threat in the heart of the Middle East.

Read the rest at The American Conservative magazine here.

 

How America Armed Terrorists In Syria was first posted on June 22, 2017 at 5:37 pm.

North Korea tests rocket engine: U.S. officials

Top Reuters News - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 18:20
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea has carried out another test of a rocket engine that the United States believes could be part of its program to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile, a U.S. official told Reuters on Thursday.

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