George H W Bush

25 May 19
Longmont Times-Call
Here’s a look at how area members of Congress voted over the previous week. Along with this week’s roll call votes, the Senate also passed the Alaska Remote Generator Reliability and Protection Act (S. 163), to prevent catastrophic failure or shutdown of remote diesel power engines due to emission control devices; and the Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act (S. 1370), to treat certain military survivor benefits as earned income for purposes of the kiddie tax. The House also passed: the Global Fragility Act (H.R. 2116), to enhance stabilization of conflict-affected areas and prevent violence and fragility globally; the Refugee Sanitation Facility Safety Act (H.R. 615), to provide women and girls safe access to sanitation facilities in refugee camps; the Global Electoral Exchange Act (H.R. 753), to promote international exchanges on best election practices, cultivate more secure democratic institutions around the world; and the Fostering Intergovernmental Health Transparency in Veteran Suicides Act (H.R. 2340), to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide to Congress notice of any suicide or attempted suicide of a veteran in a Department of Veterans Affairs facility. House votes: Sex discriminaton: The House has passed the Equality Act (H.R. 5), sponsored by Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I. The bill would bar discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in various venues, including public accommodations and facilities, and define public accommodations to include places that provide transport services, goods, or entertainment or recreational facilities. Cicilline said the bill “adds sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes through existing civil rights law, ensuring that the LGBTQ community enjoys the same protections as everyone else.” An opponent, Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., said it “puts women at risk by promoting a federal law that would overrule any restriction on gender identity claims and abolish the protections of biological sex-specific practices and spaces.” The vote, on May 17, was 236 yeas to 173 nays. YEAS: Perlmutter D-CO (7th), Neguse D-CO (2nd) NAYS: Buck R-CO (4th) Report on intercountry adoptions: The House has passed the Intercountry Adoption Information Act (H.R. 1952), sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., to require a State Department report on intercountry adoptions by U.S. families of children in countries that have significantly reduced adoption rates involving immigration to the U.S. Collins said that in light of actions by Russia and other countries to block efforts by American families to adopt children and bring them to the U.S., the report was needed to give families “the most accurate and up-to-date information as they labor to bring their adoptive children into loving homes.” The vote, on May 20, was unanimous with 397 yeas. YEAS: Perlmutter D-CO (7th), Neguse D-CO (2nd), Buck R-CO (4th) Female genital mutilation: The House has passed a resolution (H. Res. 106), sponsored by Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., declaring female genital mutilation to be a human rights violation and calling for the federal government to do more to eliminate mutilation. Frankel called mutilation “a barbaric violation of girls’ and women’s human rights” that causes significant health problems and sometimes death, requiring increased U.S. efforts to eliminate mutilation internationally. The vote, on May 20, was unanimous with 393 yeas. YEAS: Perlmutter D-CO (7th), Neguse D-CO (2nd), Buck R-CO (4th) Settling financial disputes: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, to the Consumers First Act (H.R. 1500), that would require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to reissue a rule designed to limit the ability of financial companies to require their customers to agree to mandatory arbitration of disputes between the company and the customer. Green said the rule would help customers by giving them choices in how to pursue a dispute, including filing a lawsuit. An opponent, Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-N.C., said “consumers fare better under arbitration than under litigation,” and the Bureau’s rule would mostly benefit plaintiffs’ attorneys, while doing little for the plaintiffs. The vote, on May 22, was 235 yeas to 193 nays. YEAS: Perlmutter D-CO (7th), Neguse D-CO (2nd) NAYS: Buck R-CO (4th) Changing financial protection bureau: The House has passed the Consumers First Act (H.R. 1500), sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. The bill would enact a variety of changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, including reinstating both its consumer advisory board and its Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity’s enforcement powers, and establishing an Office of Students and Young Consumers at the Bureau. Waters said the bill was needed to enable the Bureau to “carry out its mission of protecting consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices by financial institutions.” An opponent, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., said it sought to restore the Bureau’s pattern of overreach during the Obama administration, during which time its bureaucrats “worked diligently to eliminate options for Americans, arrogantly believing they were better equipped to make financial decisions than consumers themselves.” The vote, on May 22, was 231 yeas to 191 nays. YEAS: Perlmutter D-CO (7th), Neguse D-CO (2nd) NAYS: Buck R-CO (4th) Retirement savings plans: The House has passed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (H.R. 1994), sponsored by Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Mass. The bill would take various measures to change tax-favored retirement savings accounts, including repealing the maximum age for traditional IRA contributions and ending penalties for withdrawals from retirement plans if a child is born or adopted. Neal said the changes aimed at “helping American workers of all ages prepare for a financially secure retirement” by making it easier to save for the future. The vote, on May 23, was 417 yeas to 3 nays. YEAS: Perlmutter D-CO (7th), Neguse D-CO (2nd), Buck R-CO (4th) Senate votes: Appeals court judge: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Daniel P. Collins to serve as a judge on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Collins has been a private practice lawyer at the Munger, Tolles & Olson law firm in Los Angeles since 2003, and previously was a Justice Department lawyer and federal prosecutor. An opponent, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said: “Mr. Collins’s record on women’s reproductive rights, executive power, civil liberties, and criminal justice matters puts him far outside the judicial mainstream.” The vote, on May 21, was 53 yeas to 46 nays. YEAS: Gardner R-CO NOT VOTING: Bennet D-CO Utah district judge: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Howard C. Nielson, Jr., to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for Utah. Nielson, currently a private practice lawyer in Washington, D.C., and law lecturer at Brigham Young University, was a Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration. An opponent, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., called Nielson a judge “who will strip away women’s reproductive choices and who will strip away and potentially eliminate the rights under Roe v. Wade.” The vote, on May 22, was 51 yeas to 47 nays. YEAS: Gardner R-CO NAYS: Bennet D-CO Missouri district judge: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Stephen R. Clark, Sr., to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the eastern district of Missouri. Clark has been a private practice lawyer in St. Louis since 1991, and founded his own law firm in 2008. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Clark “an accomplished litigator with nearly three decades of experience in practice.” An opponent, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., criticized Clark for opposition to contraception being included in health insurance plans and for declaring Roe v. Wade to be bad law. The vote, on May 22, was 53 yeas to 45 nays. YEAS: Gardner R-CO NAYS: Bennet D-CO District of Columbia judge: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Carl J. Nichols to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for Washington, D.C. Nichols, a Justice Department official in the second half of the George W. Bush administration, has since 2010 been a partner at a Washington, D.C. law firm. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Nichols a talented, well-regarded nominee “committed to applying what the text of our laws and our Constitution actually say.” The vote, on May 22, was 55 yeas to 43 nays. YEAS: Gardner R-CO NAYS: Bennet D-CO North Carolina judge: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Kenneth D. Bell to serve as a judge on the U.S. district court for the eastern district of North Carolina. Bell was an assistant attorney for the district’s U.S. Attorney’s Office for most of the 1983 to 2003 time period, then became a private practice lawyer in Charlotte. An opponent, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said Bell “would deny women the right of reproductive choice.” The vote, on May 22, was 55 yeas to 43 nays. YEAS: Gardner R-CO NAYS: Bennet D-CO Punishing robocallers: The Senate has passed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (S. 151), sponsored by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. The bill would establish financial penalties for making illegal robocalls that use automated messages in attempts to perpetrate frauds upon consumers, and require private and government efforts to prevent robocalls. Thune called the bill “a big step in the right direction. It will make life a lot more difficult for scam artists and help ensure that more scammers face punishment for their crimes.” The vote, on May 23, was 97 yeas to 1 nay. YEAS: Gardner R-CO, Bennet D-CO Budget and disaster recovery: The Senate has passed a motion to waive budgetary discipline as it applies to the Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 2157). The vote, on May 23, was 84 yeas to 9 nays. YEAS: Gardner R-CO, Bennet D-CO Funding disaster recovery efforts: The Senate has passed the Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 2157), sponsored by Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., to provide $17.2 billion of fiscal 2019 supplemental emergency funds for natural disaster recovery efforts by various federal agencies. A supporter, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said the funding “reflects that we are one nation in times of need and that all Americans can count on each other” to provide assistance in response to disasters. The vote, on May 23, was 85 yeas to 8 nays. YEAS: Gardner R-CO, Bennet D-CO
25 May 19
Aletho News

Hanan Ashrawi, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member (UN Photo/Evan Schneider) By Stuart Littlewood | Dissident Voice | May 23, 2019 Grandma Ashrawi is more than a match for Israel’s stooges in the White House and whatever ‘deal of the century’ they have cooked up for the Holy Land. So the Trump administration will […]

24 May 19
Sky Dancing

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers! Every day we become more aware of ways that the rule of law is being threatened in our country by today’s Republican Party and its leaders.  There is so much slipping away from the ordinary people in this country that it’s difficult to keep track of it all. This study by […]

24 May 19
AIM Truth Bits

Mueller as an ex-military officer can stand trial immediately for treason . The articles and material below were referenced in our discussion: Records Obtained in Court-Ordered Discovery Reveal Obama White House Tracking FOIA Request for Clinton Emails . Justice Department Discloses No FISA Court Hearings Held on Carter Page Warrants . Rep. Matt Gaetz on […]

24 May 19
A Booking for Two

Booking under: Keith As we read before, President Lyndon B. Johnson oversaw an avalanche of change in America during the 60s. He signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and his “Great Society” to improve the standard of living in a country that had long been divided by inequality and prejudice. And yet, while he brought […]

24 May 19
MagaOneNews
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A Iranian Revolutionary Guard boat is seen near the U.S. aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush in the Strait of Hormuz as U.S. Navy helicopters hover nearby
FILE PHOTO: A Iranian Revolutionary Guard boat is seen near the U.S. aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush in the Strait of Hormuz as U.S. Navy helicopters hover nearby on March 21, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo/File Photo

May 24, 2019

By Phil Stewart and Michelle Nichols

WASHINGTON/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Three years ago, when Iran’s military captured 10 U.S. sailors after they mistakenly strayed into Iranian waters, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif jumped on the phone in minutes and worked out the sailors’ release in hours.

Could a similar crisis be so quickly resolved today?

“No,” Zarif said in a recent interview with Reuters. “How could it be averted?”

Zarif and the current Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, have never spoken directly, according to Iran’s mission at the United Nations. They instead tend to communicate through name-calling on Twitter or through the media.

“Pompeo makes sure that every time he talks about Iran, he insults me,” Zarif said. “Why should I even answer his phone call?”

The open rancor between the nations’ two top diplomats underscores growing concern that the lack of any established channel for direct negotiation makes a military confrontation more likely in the event of a misunderstanding or a mishap, according to current and former U.S. officials, foreign diplomats, U.S. lawmakers and foreign policy experts.

The Trump administration this month ordered the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group, bombers and Patriot missiles to the Middle East, citing intelligence about possible Iranian preparations to attack U.S. forces or interests.

“The danger of an accidental conflict seems to be increasing over each day,” U.S. Senator Angus King, a political independent from Maine, told Reuters as he called for direct dialogue between the United States and Iran.

A senior European diplomat said it was vital for top U.S. and Iranian officials to be on “speaking terms” to prevent an incident from mushrooming into a crisis.

“I hope that there are some channels still existing so we don’t sleepwalk into a situation that nobody wants,” said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The rhetoric that we have is alarming.”

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus declined to address how the administration would communicate with Iran in a crisis similar to the 2016 incident, but said: “When the time to talk comes, we are confident we will have every means to do so.”

The administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran, she said, aims to force its leaders to the negotiating table.

“If the Iranians are willing to engage on changing their ways to behave like a normal nation,” Ortagus said, “we are willing to talk to them.”

TWITTER DIPLOMACY

In 2016, Kerry and Zarif knew one another well from the complex negotiations to reach a 2015 pact to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Three years later, top-level diplomatic relations have all but disintegrated in the wake of the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the nuclear pact, its tightening of sanctions on Iranian oil, and its recent move to designate part of Iran’s military as a terrorist group.

U.S. military officials cite growing concern about Iran’s development of precise missiles and its support for proxy forces in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and beyond.

In the absence of direct talks, Twitter has become a common forum for U.S. and Iranian officials to trade biting barbs. On Wednesday, an advisor to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani fired off a tweet at Pompeo castigating him for provoking Iran with military deployments.

“You @SecPompeo do not bring warships to our region and call it deterrence. That’s called provocation,” the advisor, Hesameddin Ashena, tweeted in English. “It compels Iran to illustrate its own deterrence, which you call provocation. You see the cycle?”

That followed a Trump tweet on Sunday threatening to “end” Iran if it sought a fight, and a long history of bitter insults traded by Pompeo and Zarif.

Pompeo in February called Zarif and Iran’s president “front men for a corrupt religious mafia” in a tweet. That same month, another official at Pompeo’s State Department tweeted: “How do you know @JZarif is lying? His lips are moving.”

Zarif, in turn, has used the social media platform to condemn Pompeo and White House National Security Adviser John Bolton’s “pure obsession with Iran,” calling it “the behavior of persistently failing psychotic stalkers.”

‘AMERICANS HAVE OPTIONS’

U.S. officials, diplomats and lawmakers said they doubted Zarif would refuse to take a call from Pompeo in a crisis, given the risks for Iran in any conflict with the U.S. military.

In a Tuesday briefing with reporters, Pompeo appeared to dismiss concerns about Washington’s ability to communicate and negotiate with Iran.

“There are plenty of ways that we can have a communication

channel,” Pompeo said.

Diplomats say Oman, Switzerland and Iraq are nations with ties to both countries that could pass messages.

“It’s a little bit like the Israelis – when they need to get messages to people, they can get messages to people,” said a second senior European diplomat.

Representative Michael Waltz – the first U.S. Army Green Beret elected to Congress, said he favored the diplomatic freeze as a way to force Iran into serious negotiations.

    “If you don’t have diplomatic isolation, you’re having one-off talks, that lessens the pressure,” said Waltz, who is also a former Pentagon official.

But indirect message-passing can be too cumbersome in a fast-moving crisis, said Kevin Donegan, a retired vice admiral who oversaw U.S. naval forces in the Middle East as commander of the Fifth Fleet when the U.S. sailors were captured by Iran.

Such dealings through intermediaries “require time and will not allow an opportunity to de-escalate a rapidly unfolding tactical situation,” said Donegan, now a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who added that he was not commenting on current U.S. policy.

Donegan and Waltz both said it would be helpful to have some kind of hotline between the U.S. and Iranian militaries, but Donegan and other experts were skeptical Iran would agree to such an arrangement.

BACK CHANNELS THROUGH OMAN, IRAQ … RUSSIA?

On May 3 – after Washington became alarmed by intelligence indicating that Iran might be preparing for an attack on the United States or its interests – it sent messages to Iran via “a third party,” one U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also told Congress on May 8 that messages had been sent to “to make sure that it was clear to Iran that we recognized the threat and we were postured to respond.”

Waltz said Dunford told lawmakers at a closed-door hearing that he had sent a message to Qassem Soleimani – the influential commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force – warning him that Iran would be held directly accountable if one of its proxy forces attacks Americans.

“The message now was: ‘We’re not going to hold your proxies accountable’” if they attack U.S. citizens or forces in the region, he said. “‘We’re going to hold you, the regime, accountable.’”

Another official said the United States had authorized Iraq “to let the Iranians know that there is no plausible deniability about attacks on Americans in Iraq” after U.S. intelligence flagged preparations for a possible attack by Iran-backed militias in Iraq.

Joseph Votel, the now retired four-star general who oversaw U.S. troops in the Middle East until March, noted earlier this year that the U.S. military might be able to indirectly get a message to Iranian forces through an existing hotline with Russia meant to avoid accidental conflicts in Syria.

“The Iranians can talk to the Russians,” he said. “We have a well-established professional communication channel with the Russians.”

But the prospect of relying on the Russian government to get United States out of a crisis with Iran is hardly reassuring to many current and former officials in the United States.

“That would be a risky choice,” said Wendy Sherman, an under secretary of state in the Obama administration.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Michelle Nichols; Editing by Brian Thevenot)

Source: OANN

24 May 19
Lowmiller Consulting Group Blog

WASHINGTON/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Three years ago, when Iran’s military captured 10 U.S. sailors after they mistakenly strayed into Iranian waters, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif jumped on the phone in minutes and worked out the sailors’ release in hours. FILE PHOTO: A Iranian Revolutionary Guard boat is […]

24 May 19
Lowmiller Consulting Group Blog

WASHINGTON/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Three years ago, when Iran’s military captured 10 U.S. sailors after they mistakenly strayed into Iranian waters, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif jumped on the phone in minutes and worked out the sailors’ release in hours. Could a similar crisis be so quickly resolved […]

23 May 19
Russia News Now

Coverage of the 2016 elections and the ensuing Mueller investigation provided a showcase of American exceptionalism, writes Tom Engelhardt. By Tom EngelhardtTomDispatch.com In this country, reactions to the Mueller report have been all-American beyond belief. Let’s face it, when it comes to election meddling, it’s been me, me, me, 24/7 here. Yes, in some fashion some […]

23 May 19
Radio Free

Coverage of the 2016 elections and the ensuing Mueller investigation provided a showcase of American exceptionalism, writes Tom Engelhardt. By Tom Engelhardt TomDispatch.com In this country, reactions to the Mueller report have been all-American beyond belief. Let’s face it, when it comes to election meddling, it’s been me, me, me, 24/7 here. Yes, in some […]

23 May 19
Radio Free

Coverage of the 2016 elections and the ensuing Mueller investigation provided a showcase of American exceptionalism, writes Tom Engelhardt. By Tom Engelhardt TomDispatch.com In this country, reactions to the Mueller report have been all-American beyond belief. Let’s face it, when it comes to election meddling, it’s been me, me, me, 24/7 here. Yes, in some […]

23 May 19
Lippitt's Policy and Politics Blog

“Conservative” is not the right term to use to describe the Supreme Court Justices who have been the “conservative” majority in many 5 to 4 decisions going back to at least 2000. This applies in particular to the current five “conservative” justices who will be the deciding majority in many future decisions. Chief Justice Roberts […]