Closing Thought–03Jan20

A new year, a new decade and a new trade agreement and this time it does not involve the US…..this agreement is between Japan, China and South Korea……a bloc that could challenge the US….on the trade front.

The trade ministers of China, Japan and South Korea agreed to work towards a regional trade pact and a trilateral free-trade deal on Sunday.

The agreement was reached despite the recent bitter quarrel between Tokyo and Seoul and the uncertainty caused by China’s ongoing trade negotiations with the United States, as well as the threat of North Korea resuming nuclear tests.

The ministers did not announce any concrete results after Sunday’s talks in Beijing, but they voiced their willingness to continue discussions on the
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
– which also includes the Asean group of countries, Australia, India and New Zealand – as well as the three-way free-trade deal.
Will this trade bloc go unnoticed by Trump or will he use the power of sanctions (his preferred technique to punish other countries) to retaliate?
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2020–Another One Bites The Dust #11

A brand new year and a brand new Dem candidate taking it on the lame…..Julian Castro…..

The Democratic field just dropped by one in the new year: Julian Castro is out. The former HUD secretary and the only Latino candidate in the race called it quits Thursday morning, reports CNBC. “It’s with profound gratitude to all of our supporters that I suspend my campaign for president today,” Castro tweeted. “I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished together. I’m going to keep fighting for an America where everyone counts—I hope you’ll join me in that fight.” A goodbye video accompanies the tweet.

Castro, 45, had struggled in the polls and with fundraising, but the New York Times notes that he nonetheless served as a “policy pacesetter on immigration and fighting poverty” in the campaign. His departure shrinks the race to 14 Democratic candidates, but his time on the national stage may not be over. The Times sees him as a potential VP pick for the eventual party nominee, especially anyone looking to court Latino voters.

One less candidate for us mere mortals to choose from… far it is the “Moderates”/”Centrists”/”Corporatist candidates that we are losing……the true Progressives are still in there plugging away….and my candidate is still hanging in there….14 Dem candidates remain and the primaries begin in about one month…..

Let IST send Castro off with our traditional exit…..

Things should start tightening up now in the Dem field……

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Biden Proves He Will Say Anything For A Vote

I have been saying that this country does not need another Clintonian candidate for the nomination. The media has decided that the best thing for the country is a spineless corporatist (Read….centrist)…this time it is Biden…..and to a lesser extent Mayor Pete.

But Biden will show his cowardice by saying that he might choose a GOPer as VP……

Joe Biden says he’s open to sharing the Democratic ticket with a Republican if he’s nominated, but there’s one problem: He can’t think of a suitable one. A woman at an event in New Hampshire on Monday told Biden that her 21-year-old son was wondering if he would consider a Republican running mate, CNN reports. “The answer is I would, but I can’t think of one now,” Biden said. “You know there’s some really decent Republicans that are out there still, but here’s the problem right now … they’ve got to step up.”

Biden has said he would prefer a running mate “of color and/or a different gender” and hasn’t ruled out former rival Kamala Harris or current rival Elizabeth Warren. “Whoever I would pick for vice president, and there’s a lot of qualified women, there’s a lot of qualified African-Americans. There really truly are,” he said Monday. “There’s a plethora of really qualified people.” There hasn’t been a president and vice president from different parties since the Civil War, although John McCain wanted Democrat-turned-independent Joe Lieberman as his running mate in 2008, reports Reuters. Under pressure from his fellow Republicans, he chose Sarah Palin instead.

THis does nothing to help his case to be the Dem candidate to take on Trump…..he sounds like the babbling fool the president is….and do we really want another mindless toad as president?

Typical BS from a centrist……there is NOTHING courageous about Joe Biden.

Not to worry there is Mayor Pete waiting in the wings for Biden to stumble……yet another “corporate candidate”….but I do not trust this person and I am not alone…..

Hill.TV host Saagar Enjeti dismissed South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg‘s debate performance, saying the White House hopeful shouldn’t be taken seriously as a top-tier candidate in the crowded 2020 Democratic field.

“Pete Buttigieg last night asked us all to take him very seriously, and unfortunately, it was revealed that he is a fundamentally unserious candidate,” Enjeti said Friday.

“Not only from his polling with African Americans but with his dated calls for change, while not actually changing anything,” he added, pointing to Buttigieg’s campaign fundraising tactics as a prime example.

Buttigieg was a top target on Thursday’s debate stage, facing criticism over his experience and fundraising practices.

Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had the most significant clash of the night after the Massachusetts senator made a passing remark about candidates who take big-dollar donations.

“I can’t help but feel that might have been directed at me,” Buttigieg said, before defending his fundraising practices and noting that Warren also took money from large donors before launching her presidential bid.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also ripped Buttigieg over his fundraising strategy, comparing him to fellow contender, former Vice President Joe Biden.

“My good friend Joe, and he is a good friend, he’s received contributions from 44 billionaires. Pete on the other hand, is trailing, Pete,” Sanders said from the debate stage. “You only got 39 billionaires contributing.”

The attacks come amid a renewed focus on Buttigieg, who has ascended the early state primary polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire.


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Big News In The Middle East

Breaking news has the tale of the US killing a top Iranian general in an airstrike in Iraq…..

Iran vowed “harsh retaliation” after its top general was killed by an American drone strike in Iraq Thursday night. The Pentagon confirmed that it had taken “decisive action” against Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who was killed as he left Baghdad airport in a convoy with leaders of Iran-backed militias, the Washington Post reports. Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement. “This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.” Officials said the strike was carried out by order of President Trump, who tweeted an image of an American flag.

At least four other people are believed to have been killed in the strike, including Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandi. Soleimani, 62, was responsible for Iran’s interventions across the Middle East and was “hailed as a heroic national figure,” reports the BBC. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the general the ” international face of resistance” and called for three days of public mourning, the AP reports. An Iranian government spokesman said the country’s top security body will meet to discuss a response to the ” criminal act of attack.”

Sorry but this is not the best way to start a new year.

With that said…just how will Iran react to the death of their general?

Six months ago, WhoWhatWhy presented a cast of characters that could trigger a war between the US and Iran. Now that Quds Force General Qasem Soleimani has been assassinated in an American drone strike in Baghdad, that list is shorter … but the possibility of another armed conflict in the Middle East is much higher.

For Americans, the Fourth of July is a day filled with fun, family barbeques, poolside parties, fireworks, and overt displays of patriotism. For Iranians, however, it is a solemn day, a day of mourning, and a day of remembrance.

How Will Iran Respond After US Kills Top General?

The spin has begun…..why attack now?  Who will benefit the most?

Question with few answers…..

My thought is that this will do nothing to weaken the “Guard”….if anything it will strengthen their resolve…..and that could be just the trigger a war needs.

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Iraq For 2020

2020 will see a new strategy for Iraq?

Hahahaha….sorry I could not write that before a good laugh.

Well the embassy in Iraq was attacked and that was 40 years after another embassy attack….

Trump’s “massive pressure” campaign on Iran is blowing up Iraq in its wake…..

President Trump’s go-to policy on Iran, the “maximum pressure” campaign, has been based on blaming Iran for every single thing that goes wrong in the region, and threatening to make them pay, as Trump put it today, “a very BIG PRICE!

The threats hadn’t accomplished anything, despite confidence from the administration that they eventually will. Instead, they seem to have brought US ties with neighboring Iraq to the verge of collapse, with the US attacking Iraqi militia Ketaib Hezbollah, presenting them as “Iranian,” and then threatening more attacks.

Sunday attacks on bases inside Iraq led to protests at the US Embassy in Baghdad. The embassy was stormed, and the US responded by blaming Iran some more, and threatening to make them pay. Because that’s the sum total of the maximum pressure campaign.

But that campaign against Iran is bringing US ties with Iraq to the brink of outright collapse, with influential Iraqi politicians at the protests and warnings that US attacks and sovereignty violations are forcing Iraq to revise the relationship.

It is also exposing the US position in the Middle East as hollow and surprisingly unable to adapt to even minor issues. There are troops in Syria trying to steal oil, troops in Turkey facing the risk of expulsion, and Iraq’s parliament is probably going to be addressing kicking the 5,000 US troops out of there before long at this rate.

All the US has to show for it is the hostility to Iran that they’ve always had, and threats to escalate that into another disastrous war. Everything else in the region is tenuous, and as shown in Iraq can be mucked up by a long weekend of bad policy decisions.


But not to worry the US has a plan…the same plan it always has…more troops….

The US went into this past week with about 5,000 ground troops in Iraq, and with Pentagon officials suggesting that deployment is more or less permanent. It was meant to be one of those lazy, open-ended overseas deployments, nominally to bring stability.

Then on Friday an Iraqi base got hit with rockets, and on Sunday, US warplanes started attacking bases in Iraq and Syria belonging to a militia that is part of the Iraqi government. After multiple Iraq Wars since 2003, the US presence is looking complicated again.

Tuesday saw protests against the US Embassy, with the US rushing Marines and Apache helicopters to the site to try to defend the embassy. That’s just the first step.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says another 750 paratroopers will be deployed to Kuwait immediately. Another 4,000 paratroopers are being told to prepare for deployment in the days ahead.

Despite President Trump saying he intends to hold Iran fully accountable for everything that happens, he’s also saying he expects Iraq to protect the US Embassy.

On top of that, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is speaking with Iraq’s PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who actually resigned weeks ago in the wake of an Iranian consulate getting burned to the ground. At the time, the US was encouraging the protesters. Now, Abdul-Mahdi is facing the US Embassy in peril, and the US accusing Iran of being behind it.


So far in the Middle East I do not see anything different from years past……and then Trump’s policy changes…

On the outskirts of the Baghdad International Airport, a US drone attacked a delegation including the top figure at Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), killing him as well as several others, including Iran’s Quds Forces commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The White House confirmed President Trump ordered the attack, and emphasized that they considered Soleimani a “terrorist.”

Details are continuing to emerge on the attack and killings, but indications are that Gen. Soleimani is dead, as is Iraq’s PMU media chief Mohammed Reda al-Jabri, along with his guards. Iraqi state media also reported Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the head of the PMU, to have been killed in the attack. Five PMU and two “guests” were reported killed. Soleimani is assumed to be a guest, and Lebanese Hezbollah figure Muhammad al-Kawtharani is also reported to have been slain.

The PMU has already issued a statement on social media reporting on the deaths, and blaming them on a “cowardly US attack.” Another PMU spokesman blamed the US and Israel jointly.

This is certainly an act of war not just Iran, but also against Iraq, which is almost certain to be livid over a US attack against its largest civilian airport and assassination of two top figures of its PMU paramilitary force.

The Pentagon has issued a statement confirming the attack, trying to present it as purely defensive in nature, and claiming Soleimani was planning to kill US diplomats. The attack comes just hours after Defense Secretary Mark Esper threatened to attack Iran, and amid repeated warnings for Americans to get out of Iraq, especially the Baghdad area


Is this going to be that tipping point?

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