Year Two Day 138 Obama Administration June 7, 2010 - History

Year Two Day 138 Obama Administration June 7, 2010 - History


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10:00AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing

Oval Office

10:30AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Economic Daily Briefing

Oval Office

11:00AM THE PRESIDENT meets with Cabinet Members to discuss the administration’s response to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Cabinet Room

1:15PM THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors

Oval Office

2:10PM THE PRESIDENT departs the White House en route Andrews Air Force Base

2:40PM THE PRESIDENT departs Andrews Air Force Base en route Grand Rapids, Michigan

7:00PM THE PRESIDENT delivers the commencement speech at Kalamazoo Central High School

Western Michigan University Arena Remarks

Open Press

9:45PM THE PRESIDENT departs Grand Rapids, Michigan


The Daily Hatch

Milton Friedman – A Conversation On Minimum Wage FREE TO CHOOSE

Office of Barack and Michelle Obama
P.O. Box 91000
Washington, DC 20066

I wrote you over 700 letters while you were President and I mailed them to the White House and also published them on my blog http://www.thedailyhatch.org .I received several letters back from your staff and I wanted to thank you for those letters.

There are several issues raised in your book that I would like to discuss with you such as the minimum wage law, the liberal press, the cause of 2007 financial meltdown, and especially your pro-choice (what I call pro-abortion) view which I strongly object to on both religious and scientific grounds, Two of the most impressive things in your book were your dedication to both the National Prayer Breakfast (which spoke at 8 times and your many visits to the sides of wounded warriors!!

I have been reading your autobiography A PROMISED LAND and I have been enjoying it.

Let me make a few comments on it, and here is the first quote of yours I want to comment on:


I was campaigning to push the country in the opposite direction. I didn’t think America could roll back automation or sever the global supply chain (though I did think we could negotiate stronger labor and environmental provisions in our trade agreements). But I was certain we could adapt our laws and institutions, just as we’d done in the past, to make sure that folks willing to work could get a fair shake. At every stop I made, in every city and small town, my message was the same. I promised to raise taxes on high-income Americans to pay for vital investments in education, research, and infrastructure. I promised to strengthen unions and raise the minimum wage as well as to deliver universal healthcare and make college more affordable.
I wanted people to understand that there was a precedent for bold government action. FDR had saved capitalism from itself, laying the foundation for a post–World War II boom.

The minimum wage has hurt young people as they seek to enter the job market and prove themselves and start heading up the financial ladder of opportunity and by cutting the bottom of the ladder off it is difficult for the most unskilled and disadvantaged to compete!


Treasureliberty.com

And here’s the fourth and final part of this list. As I said before, any pennies you might wish to offer in return for all this, do it at her site.

Last one! I’m still adding links to the previous parts, which are here, here, and here.

151. ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber said that the federal government was deliberately slow in providing a “backstop” for state health-care exchanges this was a calculated effort to force all states to create exchanges, since citizens in states without exchanges got no tax credits but were required to pay for ObamaCare regardless.

152. Obama illegally imposed a health-insurance providers’ fee on states that use managed-care organizations to provide Medicaid services the Actuarial Standards Board (ASB) of the American Academy of Actuaries—a private organization—was authorized to illegally determine the fee levied on each state.

153. The Obama Department of Justice illegally applied the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to pregnancy companies and municipalities that did not make accommodations for pregnancy were sued and allowed to settle out of court.

154. Obama illegally used an executive-branch memorandum to implement the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) after Congress would not pass his immigration reform the memorandum effectively legalized millions of undocumented immigrants.

155. Obama illegally used an executive-branch memorandum to implement the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) after Congress would not pass his immigration reform like DACA, the memorandum violated the Administrative Procedure Act, immigration law, and the Constitution’s Take Care Clause.

156. ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber said on video that the law passed thanks to “the stupidity of the American people” the White House insisted that he did not have an official role crafting ObamaCare, although emails showed that he did.

157. Obama State Department chief of staff and counselor Cheryl Mills was Hillary Clinton’s top aide at the same time that she general counsel for New York University and sat on the board of the NYU in Abu Dhabi Corporation these were criminal conflicts of interest that went entirely unreported and were explained as being “printing errors.”

158. The Obama State Department insisted that Hillary Clinton turned over all of her work-related email, but John Podesta’s emails showed that Clinton had omitted many messages related to Libya.

159. The Election Crimes Branch (ECB) of the Obama Department of Justice met with IRS director of the Exempt Organizations Unit Lois Lerner in 2010, two years before the IRS conceded there was inappropriate targeting the ECB and Lerner discussed how to criminally prosecute tax-exempt entities.

160. As part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the Iranian nuclear deal—the Obama administration worked out a “side deal” not announced to the public this part of the plan allowed Iran to inspect its own nuclear sites.

161. The Obama EPA illegally imposed the Clean Water Rule, claiming jurisdiction over all bodies of water in the US three times, the Supreme Court has ruled that for the EPA to have regulatory authority, there must be a connection between the location regulated and navigable waters, but the EPA dismissed the entire concept of “navigable.”

162. The Obama EPA illegally engaged in “covert propaganda” by creating a social-media campaign on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Thunderclap, and other platforms in support of the Clean Water Rule the EPA hid the fact that the messages originated with the agency.

163. The Obama National Security Agency (NSA) continued intense surveillance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, despite Obama’s promise to stop in the process, the NSA illegally spied on US members of Congress, and the White House illegally obtained the intelligence without making a formal request.

164. The Obama Treasury Department secretly issued a waiver to an Omani ban, allowing it to violate US sanctions against Iran the effort failed because American banks refused to participate despite intense pressure from the Treasury Department.

165. The Obama EPA blamed state and local officials for the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, but the agency had known of the problem for seven months, after a regulations manager in the EPA’s ground water and drinking water branch had warned his bosses of the high levels of lead in the water the EPA claimed that it lacked the authority to do anything about the crisis or even announce it.

166. The Obama administration denied 77 percent of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the highest such rate in American history.

167. The Obama Department of Agriculture (USDA) illegally fined public schools not following Michelle Obama’s lunch rules, which had no force of law.

168. Obama IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified to Congress that the IRS encouraged illegal aliens to use fraudulent Social Security numbers and identify theft to find jobs this was considered a “good” misuse of American citizens’ personal data as opposed to a “bad” misuse.

169. The Obama EPA illegally imposed nationwide cap and trade after Congress rejected it the four-stage process emphatically and openly contradicted the express will of Congress.

170. After the Obama administration’s new rules put the for-profit University of Phoenix out of business, an investment firm run by Obama’s best friend Marty Nesbitt lobbied the Education Department to approve its purchase of the school Nesbitt’s Vistria Group bought the University of Phoenix and immediately changed it from a publicly traded company to a private, meaning that the school is not required to file regular public reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

171. The Obama Department of Justice unconstitutionally sued colleges for posting materials online, saying that it violates the Americans with Disabilities act (ADA) colleges and universities were required to provide text-to-speech functions for all materials so that blind students would not experience discrimination.

172. Obama Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave 194 State Department appointments to people who had donated to the Clinton Foundation.

173. The Obama Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights illegally created a “national blueprint” for tackling sexual harassment on college and university campuses the schools were to ban “unwelcome” speech and create judicial procedures that denied legal representation, encouraged punishment before trial, and convicted defendants based on a “more likely than not” standard.

174. The Obama Veterans Administration spent more than $1.7 billion on a hospital in Denver, Colorado the initial budget was $328 million, but cost overruns of $1.4 billion were the result of massive fraud, payoffs, and a wildly ornate style that led House Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla) to call the project the biggest construction failure in the history of the agency.

175. The Obama Department of Justice granted State Department chief of staff and Hillary aide Cheryl Mills immunity as a result, when the FBI asked her about the destruction of subpoenaed documents, Mills simply got up and walked out of the interview.

176. Obama illegally granted temporary Medicaid coverage to 300,000 ineligible residents of Massachusetts, and the state received the most generous taxpayer-funded premium subsidies in the entire country.

177. The Obama State Department gave priority after the 2010 Haiti earthquake to aid contractors marked “FOB” for “Friends of Bill [Clinton] other aid contractors were labeled “WJC VIPs” for “William Jefferson Clinton VIPs.”

178. The Obama State Department recruited SAE-A, a Korean garment company, to build a factory in Caracol, Haiti, after the 2010 earthquake the Korean firm became a Clinton Foundation donor, its owner invested in a startup company owned by Hillary Clinton’s former chief of staff, the factory has underdelivered on projected jobs, and Haitian workers say they are abused and sexually harassed.

179. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)—created by Elizabeth Warren for Obama—has argued to the Supreme Court that its own structure is unconstitutional because the president can’t remove the director unless he “proves good cause” this provision violates the separation of powers doctrine by interfering with the president’s executive authority.

180. James Baker, the General Counsel of the Obama FBI, secretly worked with Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann of Perkins Cole to prepare the surveillance warrant for Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

181. The Obama EPA and a subcontractor accidentally released 3 million gallons of toxic waste into Cement Creek, polluting waterways in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and the Navajo Nation the EPA did not notify the states of the accident for more than a day, and the EPA employee in charge knew beforehand that a spill was very likely.

182. Thomas Reed, director of the Obama FCC’s Office for Communications Business Opportunities (OCBD) was caught by FCC employee Sharon K. Stewart having sex in his office with Washington Post reporter Lonnae O’Neal Parker.

183. Obama Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates ordered her unnamed principal associate deputy attorney general (PADAG) to call the FBI and ask for the probe of the Clinton Foundation to end the PADAG told the FBI that the Justice Department considered the probe a “dormant case.”

184. The Obama Department of Justice ordered the FBI to not to consider charging Hillary Clinton with gross negligence in her handling of classified information.

185. Obama unconstitutionally made the US a state party to the Paris Agreement drawn up by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) the American president has no constitutional power to unilaterally commit the country to international agreements, even if such agreements are non-binding.

186. The Obama Department of Homeland Security (DHS) tried to clandestinely hack the electoral systems of Indiana, Georgia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Idaho DHS claimed that these were “security scans” done with the states’ full consent and cooperation.

187. The Obama Social Security Administration paid $1 billion in benefits to people who did not have Social Security numbers.

188. Obama Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell illegally funded ObamaCare Section 1402 subsidy payments to insurers by shifting Congressional appropriations from a different ObamaCare section.

189. In order to fund ObamaCare Section 1402 reimbursements to insurers, the Obama Administration illegally appropriated taxpayer dollars from Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) or Fannie Mae and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC) or Freddie Mac.

190. Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed new rules that ease restrictions on intelligence agencies and individuals seeking direct access to raw signals intelligence (SIGINT) collected by the NSA as a result, the number of American citizens “unmasked” rose by over 300 percent.

191. Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch released Iranian citizens who were charged with setting up an illegal procurement network supplying Iran with U.S.-made microelectronics used in surface-to-air and cruise missiles or were sentenced for conspiring to supply Iran with satellite technology and hardware the Justice Department also dropped charges and international arrest warrants against men connected to Hezbollah or charged with conspiring to buy thousands of American assault rifles and import them into Iran.

192. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ruled that the Obama FBI violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as well as the Fourth Amendment by conducting tens of thousands of unauthorized searches related to US citizens.

193. The Obama Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) illegally paid $729 million to doctors as part of the Electronic Health Record Incentive Program.

194. The U.S. Postal Service illegally gave time off for workers to campaign for Hillary Clinton.

195. Former Obama administration intelligence and national security official Cameron Hudson oversaw a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum study on Obama’s Syria policy the study was retracted after it absolved Obama by using a “computational-modeling algorithmic counterfactual analysis” that determined that inaction was the only course of action.

196. Former Obama campaign ad agency GMMB received nearly $60 million in federal contracts, 75 percent of which came from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) created by Senator Elizabeth Warren Bill Clinton’s Corporation for National and Community Service awarded GMMB $13 million in contracts.

197. Obama Secretary of State Hillary Clinton worked with Sergey Lavrov and Dmitri Medvedev to create Skolkovo, Russia’s military-civilian version of Silicon Valley in return, the Russians paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a single speech in Moscow, where he met oligarch Viktor Vekselberg—the man spearheading Skolkovo—and Arkady Dvorkovich, a senior official of Rosatom, the Russian nuclear giant seeking the State Department’s permission to buy Uranium One.

198. The Obama Department of Justice illegally steered Bank of America settlements to leftist activist groups and nonprofits instead of the aggrieved parties this was done by classifying the settlements as donations.

199. The Obama Justice and Treasury Departments crippled Project Cassandra, the DEA investigation into drug trafficking by Hezbollah DEA agents said that Obama did it in order to curry favor with Iran.

200. Obama FBI Director James Comey said that Obama “jeopardized” the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails by absolving her publicly, and Loretta Lynch interfered by telling Comey to align himself semantically with the Clinton election campaign.

201. The Obama Department of Defense and State Department falsified reports on the progress being made in the war in Afghanistan.

202. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ruled that the at least two of the Obama-era Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants used to spy on Trump campaign affiliate Carter Page were not valid and had been unlawfully authorized.

The Trump Department of Justice concluded following the release of a report by the agency’s inspector general that the government did not have probable cause that Carter Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power.


Historical instances [ edit | edit source ]

A law existed in ancient Athens giving relations of an Athenian who had been murdered in a foreign state which had refused punishment or extradition of the murderer, the right to seize the foreigner and bring him before the Athenian courts. ⎚] Accordingly the principle of international abduction as a last resort, in the absence of other remedies, has ancient precedents.

However, the US has used rendition increasingly since the 1980s as a tool in the US-led "war on terror" to deal with foreign defendantsTemplate:Citation needed, ignoring the normal extradition processes in international law. ⎛] Modern methods of rendition include a form where suspects are taken into US custody but delivered to a third-party state, often without ever being on US soil, and without involving the rendering countries termed "extraordinary rendition".Template:Citation needed The CIA was granted permission to use rendition in a presidential directive signed by US President Bill Clinton in 1995. ⎜]

Critics have accused the CIA of rendering suspects to other countries in order to avoid US laws mandating due process and prohibiting torture, even though many of those countries have, like the US, signed or ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture. ⎝] Critics have also called this practice "torture flights". ⎞] Defenders of the practice argue that culturally-informed and native-language interrogations are more successful in gaining information from suspects. ⎟] ⎠]

In a number of cases, suspects to whom the procedure is believed to have been applied later were found to be innocent. ⎡] In the cases of Khalid El-Masri and Maher Arar, the practice of extraordinary rendition appears to have been applied to innocent civilians, and the CIA has reportedly launched an investigation into such cases (which it refers to as "erroneous rendition").

The first well-known rendition case involved the Achille Lauro hijackers in 1985: while in international air space they were forced by United States Navy fighter planes to land at the Naval Air Station Sigonella, an Italian military base in Sicily used by the US navy and NATO, in an attempt to place them within judicial reach of United States government representatives for transport to and trial in the United States. ⎢]

20th century [ edit | edit source ]

In September 1987, during the Reagan administration, the United States executed an extraordinary rendition, codenamed Goldenrod, in a joint FBI-CIA operation. Fawaz Yunis, who was wanted in the U.S. courts for his role in the hijacking of a Jordanian airliner that had American citizens onboard, was lured onto a boat off the coast of Cyprus and taken to international waters, where he was arrested.

"The Reagan administration did not undertake this kidnapping lightly. Then-FBI Director William Webster had opposed an earlier bid to snatch Yunis, arguing that the United States should not adopt the tactics of Israel, which had abducted Adolf Eichmann on a residential street in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1960. In 1984 and 1986, during a wave of terrorist attacks, Congress passed laws making air piracy and attacks on Americans abroad federal crimes. Ronald Reagan added teeth to these laws by signing a secret covert-action directive in 1986 that authorized the CIA to kidnap, anywhere abroad, foreigners wanted for terrorism. A new word entered the dictionary of U.S. foreign relations: rendition." ⎣]

The American Civil Liberties Union alleges that extraordinary rendition was developed during the Clinton administration by CIA officials in the mid-1990s who were trying to track down and dismantle militant Islamic organizations in the Middle East, particularly Al Qaeda. ⎤]

Both the Reagan and Clinton cases involved apprehending known terrorists abroad, by covert means if necessary. The policy later expanded.

In a New Yorker interview with CIA veteran Michael Scheuer, an author of the rendition program under the Clinton administration, writer Jane Mayer noted, "In 1995, American agents proposed the rendition program to Egypt, making clear that it had the resources to track, capture, and transport terrorist suspects globally — including access to a small fleet of aircraft. Egypt embraced the idea. 'What was clever was that some of the senior people in Al Qaeda were Egyptian,' Scheuer said. 'It served American purposes to get these people arrested, and Egyptian purposes to get these people back, where they could be interrogated.' Technically, U.S. law requires the CIA to seek 'assurances' from foreign governments that rendered suspects won’t be tortured. Scheuer told me that this was done, but he was 'not sure' if any documents confirming the arrangement were signed." ⎥] However, Scheuer testified before Congress that no such assurances were received. ⎦] He further acknowledged that treatment of prisoners may not have been "up to U.S. standards." However, he stated,

This is a matter of no concern as the Rendition Program’s goal was to protect America, and the rendered fighters delivered to Middle Eastern governments are now either dead or in places from which they cannot harm America. Mission accomplished, as the saying goes. ⎧]

Thereafter, with the approval of President Clinton and a presidential directive (PDD 39), the CIA instead elected to send suspects to Egypt, where they were turned over to the Egyptian Mukhabarat.

21st century [ edit | edit source ]

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks the United States, in particular the CIA, has been accused of rendering hundreds of people suspected by the government of being terrorists — or of aiding and abetting terrorist organizations — to third-party states such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, and Uzbekistan. Such "ghost detainees" are kept outside judicial oversight, often without ever entering US territory, and may or may not ultimately be devolved to the custody of the United States. ⎥] ⎨]

According to a December 4, 2005 article in the Washington Post by Dana Priest: Template:Cquote

Following mounting scrutiny in Europe, including investigations held by Swiss senator Dick Marty who released a public report in June 2006, the US Senate, in December 2005, was about to approve a measure that would include amendments requiring the director of national intelligence to provide regular, detailed updates about secret detention facilities maintained by the United States overseas, and to account for the treatment and condition of each prisoner. ⎩]


The Pardu's Scroll

The deal that emerged on Wednesday would extend U.S. borrowing authority until February 7, although the Treasury Department would have tools to temporarily extend its borrowing capacity beyond that date if Congress failed to act early next year. It would also fund government agencies until January 15.

The deal includes some income verification procedures for those seeking subsidies under the healthcare law, but Republicans surrendered on their attempts to include other changes, including the elimination of a medical device tax used to help pay for it.

We will seek and publish fine details as details become available.

Since we are not part of the parties involved in this misguided and flatout ignorant example of obstruction, we will now comment a bit.

What the hell did the GOP, their moneyed backers and strategist accomplished via the most historical stupid act from the US government since Bush/Cheney lied their way into Iraq? We should be fair and include LBJ’s lying (Gulf of Tonkin) to charge into Vietnam. And, I will call you one with “as stupid as Bush’s Medicare Part D legislation.”

I am hearing the GOP got nothing from their obstruction.

If that is the case, and we have no reason to believe otherwise, should the nation suspect GOP leadership on matters of state? After all consideration, if you can find a case, I truly hope you avoid visiting this site in the future.

The GOP may have created a new voting bloc: The furloughed and angry voter.

Stand-by for more details as they become public.

News from the House of OZ?

CNN

“The House has fought with everything it has to convince the president of the United States to engage in bipartisan negotiations aimed at addressing our country’s debt and providing fairness for the American people under Obamacare,” Boehner said. “That fight will continue. But blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us.”


Barack H. Obama: 44th President & Commander-In-Chief, 212 Accomplishments (PCTC Blog)


Last year posted with permission a post from the PCTC Blog, The following is a link to the latest update. We have posted the blog here. We highly encourage all due credit go to the developer of the PCTC Blog for the enormous amount of work involved in updating this archive. We have little doubt the archive will become a major historic piece as President Oba,a moves out of the Oval Office and into US History, ( Please Cut The Crap ).


(Community Matters) Super story on our friend and Obama National Finance Committee colleague, Alexa Wesner , in today’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram

(Community Matters) The barista in our hotel’s Starbucks this morning, “Don’t worry he’s going to win. My girlfriend is in Indiana and they worked until 3am last night. It’s all about the ground game, and McCain doesn’t have one.” He was responding to my Obama tshirt.

BOR stories about the Austin McCain office open only a couple of hours yesterday and staffed by only two volunteers. Sean Quinn stories about McCain offices around the country only open between 9 and 5, and even when he arrives, very little activity. After several states, he quit believing the excuses that he’d just missed the volunteers or that they’d all just left for the field.

All this in large part why I’m predicting such a surge during tomorrow’s vote. I expect the Obama surge on election day to be larger than in early voting – election day is when we’ll see the youth vote peak.

The ground game by Sean Quinn:

The busiest McCain office we saw was in Arlington, at the national HQ, but tight security prevented us from getting any pictures. Ironically, that was our first full office, in our 11th battleground state.

Offices in Troy, Ohio were closed on Saturday October 11. With perfect coincidental timing, two elderly women dropped by to volunteer but found the office shut. At Republican state headquarters in Columbus later the same day, one lonely dialer sat in a sea of unoccupied chairs. In Des Moines on September 25, another empty office. In Santa Fe on September 17, one dialer made calls while six chatted amongst themselves about how they didn’t like Obama. In Raleigh this past Saturday, ten days before the election with early voting already open, two women dialed and a male staffer watched the Georgia-LSU game. In Durango, Colorado on September 20, the Republican office was locked and closed. Indiana didn’t have McCain Victory offices when we were there in early October.

When the offices are open, they have reduced hours. We can confidently plan to get evening good-light photographs of a town after we visit the local McCain office, because we know it will be closing by 5 pm, as the office in Wilmington, North Carolina was this past Sunday. The plan is, get to inevitably closed/closing McCain office, get an hour of photos near sunset, then visit the bustling local Obama office.

In Cortez, CO, we had Republican volunteers pose for action-shot photos. The same in Española, New Mexico. Posed. For some time at the outset, we were willing to give Republicans the benefit of the doubt. They convinced us they were really working, and that we had just had unfortunate timing. It wasn’t until the pattern of “just missed it” started to sound like a drumbeat in our ears that we began to grow skeptical. We never “just missed” any of the Obama volunteer work, because it goes on nonstop, every day, in every office, in every corner of America.

We found scattered nuggets of activity. Colorado Springs, Colorado held eight dialers and two front office volunteers. Albemarle County, Virginia had a busy office of 15 volunteers, and we reported that. Last night in Tampa, nine phonebankers were busy dialing at the Republican Party of Florida Hillsborough County HQ when we arrived at 8:00 pm. Seven dialers sat in McCain’s Hickory, North Carolina office this past Saturday afternoon.

Those offices seemed busy to us, naturally, because they were explosively full relative to other offices we’ve stopped in on. But even the Colorado Springs office was dwarfed by the Obama Colorado Springs operation.

These ground campaigns do not bear any relationship to one another. One side has something in the neighborhood of five million volunteers all assigned to very clear and specific pieces of the operation, and the other seems to have something like a thousand volunteers scattered throughout the country. Jon Tester’s 2006 Senate race in Montana had more volunteers — by a mile — than John McCain’s 2006 presidential campaign.



Military career

Clark's military career began July 2, 1962, when he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He later said that Douglas MacArthur's famous "Duty, honor, country" speech was an important influence on his view of the military. The speech was given to the class of 1962 several months before Clark entered West Point, but a recording was played for his class when they first arrived. [15] [25]

Clark sat in the front in many of his classes, a position held by the highest performer in class. Clark participated heavily in debate, was consistently within the top 5% of his class as a whole (earning him a "Distinguished Cadet" patch on his uniform) and graduated as valedictorian of West Point. The valedictorian is first to choose which career field of the Army to serve in, and Clark selected armor. He met Gertrude Kingston, whom he later married, at a USO dance for midshipmen and West Point cadets. [15] [25]

Clark eventually applied for a Rhodes Scholarship and learned in December of his senior year at West Point that he had been accepted. He spent his summer at the United States Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. He worked in the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) program during his Rhodes Scholarship, completing his degree at Magdalen College at the University of Oxford in August 1968. While he was at Oxford, a Jewish cousin of Clark's who lived in England telephoned him and informed him of his Jewish heritage, having received permission from Veneta Clark. Clark spent three months after graduation at Fort Knox, Kentucky, going through Armor Officer Basic Course, then went on to Ranger School at Fort Benning. He was promoted to captain and was assigned as commander of the A Company of the 4th Battalion, 68th Armor, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. [26]

Vietnam

Clark was assigned a position in the 1st Infantry Division and flew to Vietnam on May 21, 1969, during the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He worked as a staff officer, collecting data and helping in operations planning, and was awarded the Bronze Star for his work with the staff. Clark was then given command of A Company, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry of the 1st Infantry Division in January 1970. In February, only one month into his command, he was shot four times by a Viet Cong soldier with an AK-47. The wounded Clark shouted orders to his men, who counterattacked and defeated the Viet Cong force. Clark had injuries to his right shoulder, right hand, right hip, and right leg, and was sent to Valley Forge Army Hospital in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, to recuperate. He was awarded the Silver Star and the Combat Infantryman Badge for his actions during the encounter. [27]

Clark had converted to Catholicism, his wife Gertrude's religion, while in Vietnam. He saw his son, Wesley Clark, Jr., for the first time while at the Valley Forge Hospital. [28] Clark commanded C Company, 6th Battalion, 32nd Armor, 194th Armored Brigade, a company composed of wounded soldiers, [29] at Fort Knox. Clark has said this command is what made him decide to continue his military career past the five-year commitment required by West Point, which would have concluded in 1971. Clark completed his Armor Officer Advanced Course while at Fort Knox, taking additional elective courses and writing an article that won the Armor Association Writing Award. His next posting was to the office of the Army Chief of Staff in Washington, D.C., where he worked in the "Modern Volunteer Army" program from May to July 1971. He then served as an instructor in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point for three years from July 1971 to 1974. [30] [31]

Clark graduated from the Command and General Staff College (CGSC), earning his military Master of Arts degree in military science from the CGSC with a thesis on American policies of gradualism in the Vietnam War. Clark's theory was one of applying force swiftly, which was being advocated by many soldiers at the time, a concept that would eventually become established as U.S. national security policy in the form of the Weinberger Doctrine and its successor, the Powell Doctrine. Clark was promoted to major upon his graduation from the CGSC. [32]

Post-Vietnam

In 1975, Clark was appointed a White House Fellow in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as a special assistant to its director, James Thomas Lynn. He was one of 14 appointed out of 2,307 applicants. [33] Lynn also gave Clark a six-week assignment to assist John Marsh, then a counselor to the President. Clark was approached during his fellowship to help push for a memorial to Vietnam veterans. He worked with the movement that helped lead to the creation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Clark served in two commands with the 1st Armored Division based in Germany from August 1976 to February 1978, first as S-3 of the 3rd Battalion 35th Armor and then as S-3 of the entire 3rd Brigade. [30] Clark's brigade commander while in the former position said Clark was "singularly outstanding, notably superb." Regarding his term as brigade commander, one of his battalion commanders called Clark the "most brilliant and gifted officer [he'd] ever known." [34] He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his work with the division.

The brigade commander had also said that "word of Major Clark's exceptional talent spread", and in one case reached the desk of then Supreme Allied Commander Alexander Haig. Haig personally selected Clark to serve as a special assistant on his staff, a post he held from February 1978 to June 1979. While on staff at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), Clark wrote policy reports and coordinated two multinational military exercises. As a result of his work on Haig's staff, Clark was promoted to lieutenant colonel and was awarded the Legion of Merit. After his European post, he moved on to Fort Carson, Colorado, where he served first as the executive officer of the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division from August 1979 to February 1980, then as the commander of the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor, 4th Infantry Division from February 1980 to July 1982. According to the American journalist David Halberstam, the commander at Fort Carson, then Major General John Hudacheck, had a reputation of disliking West Point graduates and fast-rising officers such as Clark. [35] [36] After two years of not making the list to rise from battalion commander to brigade commander, Clark attended the National War College. After studying there from June 1982 to 1983, Clark graduated and was promoted to full colonel in October 1983. [30] [37]

Following his graduation, Clark worked in Washington, D.C., from July 1983 to 1984 in the offices of the Chief and Deputy Chiefs of Staff of the United States Army, earning a second Legion of Merit for his work. He then served as the Operations Group commander at the Fort Irwin Military Reservation from August 1984 to June 1986. He was awarded another Legion of Merit and a Meritorious Service Medal for his work at Fort Irwin and was given a brigade command at Fort Carson in 1986. He commanded the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division there from April 1986 to March 1988. Veneta Clark, Wesley's mother, fell ill as he began this command and died on Mother's Day in 1986. After Fort Carson, Clark returned to the Command and General Staff College to direct and further develop the Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) there until October 1989. The BCTP was created to teach senior officers war-fighting skills, according to the commanding general at the time. [38] On November 1, 1989, Clark was promoted to brigadier general. [30] [39]

Clark returned to Fort Irwin and commanded the National Training Center (NTC) from October 1989 to 1991. The Gulf War occurred during Clark's command, and many National Guard divisional round-out brigades trained under his command. Multiple generals commanding American forces in Iraq and Kuwait said Clark's training helped bring about results in the field and that he had successfully begun training a new generation of the military that had moved past Vietnam-era strategy. He was awarded another Legion of Merit for his "personal efforts" that were "instrumental in maintaining" the NTC, according to the citation. He served in a planning post after this, as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Concepts, Doctrine, and Developments at Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) at Fort Monroe, Virginia. While there, he helped the commanding general of TRADOC prepare the army for war and develop new post-Cold War strategies. Clark pushed for technological advancement in the army to establish a digital network for military command, which he called the "digitization of the battlefield." [40] He was promoted to Major General in October 1992 at the end of this command. [30] [41]

Fort Hood and the Waco Siege

Clark's divisional command came with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. Clark was in command during three separate deployments of forces from Fort Hood for peacekeeping in Kuwait.

Some critics, such as left-wing CounterPunch and right-wing FrontPageMag.com, have made allegations that Clark was, to some degree, involved in the Waco siege, where David Koresh and 74 Branch Davidian followers were killed during the FBI's final raid on the group's compound. [42] Some also suggest that, given the sensitive nature of the materials lent for the operation, Clark had some knowledge of and perhaps a hand in planning the Waco siege. [43] Others, such as James Ridgeway, dismiss the allegations as having "little evidence to substantiate them." [44]

His Officer Evaluation Report (OER) for his command at Fort Hood called him "one of the Army's best and brightest". [45] Clark was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his work at Fort Hood and was promoted to lieutenant general at the end of his command in 1994. Clark's next assignment was an appointment as the Director, Strategic Plans and Policy (J5), on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), from April 1994 to June 1996. [30] [46]

United States Southern Command

Army regulations set a so-called "ticking clock" upon the promotion to a three-star general, essentially requiring that Clark be promoted to another post within 2 years from his initial promotion or retire. [47] This deadline ended in 1996 and Clark said he was not optimistic about receiving such a promotion because rumors at the time suggested General Dennis Reimer did not want to recommend him for promotion although "no specific reason was given". [48] According to Clark's book, General Robert Scales said that it was likely Clark's reputation of intelligence within the military was responsible for feelings of resentment against him from other generals. Clark was named to the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) post despite these rumors. Congress approved his promotion to full general in June 1996, and General John M. Shalikashvili signed the order. Clark said he was not the original nominee, but the first officer chosen "hadn't been accepted for some reason." [48] [49]

The Balkans

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Clark began planning work for responses to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina upon his appointment in 1994 as the Director, Strategic Plans and Policy (J5) on the JCS staff. While collecting information to outline military options for resolving the conflict, Clark met with Bosnian Serb military leaders including Ratko Mladić, who was later accused of war crimes and genocide. Clark was photographed exchanging hats with Mladić, and the photo drew controversy in the United States. A Washington Post story was published claiming Clark had made the visit despite a warning from the U.S. ambassador. [50] Some Clinton administration members privately said the incident was "like cavorting with Hermann Göring." [51] Clark listed the visit in the itinerary he submitted to the ambassador, but he learned only afterwards that it was not approved. He said there had been no warning and no one had told him to cancel the visit, although two Congressmen called for his dismissal regardless. Clark later said he regretted the exchange, [52] and the issue was ultimately resolved as President Clinton sent a letter defending Clark to the Congress and the controversy subsided. [53] Clark said it was his "first experience in the rough and tumble of high visibility . and a painful few days." [54] Conservative pundit Robert Novak later referred to the hat exchange in a column during Clark's 2004 presidential campaign, citing it as a "problem" with Clark as a candidate. [55]

Clark was sent to Bosnia by Secretary of Defense William Perry to serve as the military advisor to a diplomatic negotiating team headed by assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke. Holbrooke later described Clark's position as "complicated" because it presented him with future possibilities but "might put him into career-endangering conflicts with more senior officers." [56] While the team was driving along a mountain road during the first week, the road gave way, and one of the vehicles fell over a cliff carrying passengers including Holbrooke's deputy, Robert Frasure, a deputy assistant Secretary of Defense, Joseph Kruzel, and Air Force Colonel Nelson Drew. Clark and Holbrooke attempted to crawl down the mountain, but were driven back by sniper fire. Once the fire ceased, Clark rappelled down the mountain to collect the bodies of two dead Americans left by Bosnian forces that had taken the remaining wounded to a nearby hospital. Following funeral services in Washington, D.C., the negotiations continued and the team eventually reached the Dayton Agreement at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and later signed it in Paris on December 14, 1995. [57]

Clark returned to the European theater and the Balkans following his USSOUTHCOM position when he was appointed to U.S. European Command in the summer of 1997 by President Clinton. He was, as with SOUTHCOM, not the original nominee for the position. The Army had already selected another general for the post. Because President Clinton and General Shalikashvili believed Clark was the best man for the post, he eventually received the nomination. Shalikashvili noted he "had a very strong role in [Clark's] last two jobs." [58] Clark noted during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services committee of the 105th Congress that he believed NATO had shifted since the end of the Cold War from protecting Europe from the Soviet Union to working towards more general stability in the region. Clark also addressed issues related to his then-current command of USSOUTHCOM, such as support for the School of the Americas and his belief that the United States must continue aid to some South American nations to effectively fight the War on Drugs. [52] Clark was quickly confirmed by a voice vote the same day as his confirmation hearing, [59] giving him the command of 109,000 American troops, their 150,000 family members, 50,000 civilians aiding the military, and all American military activities in 89 countries and territories of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. [60] The position made Clark the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), which granted him overall command of NATO military forces in Europe.

Kosovo War

The largest event of Clark's tenure as SACEUR was NATO's confrontation with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the Kosovo War. On September 22, 1998, the United Nations Security Council introduced Resolution 1199 calling for an end to hostilities in Kosovo, and Richard Holbrooke again tried to negotiate a peace. This process came to an unsuccessful end, however, following the Račak massacre. Then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright tried to force Yugoslavia into allowing separation of Kosovo with the Rambouillet Agreement, which Yugoslavia refused. Clark was at the Rambouillet talks and tried to convince Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milošević by telling him "there's an activation order. And if they tell me to bomb you, I'm going to bomb you good." Clark later said Milošević launched into an emotional tirade against Albanians and said that they'd been "handled" in the 1940s by ethnic cleansing. [61] [62]

Clark started the bombings codenamed Operation Allied Force on March 24, 1999, on orders to try to enforce U.N. Resolution 1199 following Yugoslavia's refusal of the Rambouillet Agreement. However, critics note that Resolution 1199 was a call for cessation of hostilities and does not authorize any organization to take military action. Secretary of Defense William Cohen felt that Clark had powerful allies at the White House, such as President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who allowed him to circumvent The Pentagon in promoting his strategic ideas. Clark felt, however, that he was not being included enough in discussions with the National Command Authority, leading him to describe himself as "just a NATO officer who also reported to the United States". [63] This command conflict came to a ceremonial head when Clark was not initially invited to a summit in Washington, D.C., to commemorate NATO's 50th anniversary, despite being its supreme military commander. Clark eventually secured an invitation to the summit, but was told by Cohen to say nothing about ground troops, and Clark agreed. [64]

Clark returned to SHAPE following the summit and briefed the press on the continued bombing operations. A reporter from the Los Angeles Times asked a question about the effect of bombings on Serbian forces, and Clark noted that merely counting the number of opposing troops did not show Milošević's true losses because he was bringing in reinforcements. Many American news organizations capitalized on the remark in a way Clark said "distorted the comment" with headlines such as "NATO Chief Admits Bombs Fail to Stem Serb Operations" in The New York Times. Clark later defended his remarks, saying this was a "complete misunderstanding of my statement and of the facts," and President Clinton agreed that Clark's remarks were misconstrued. Regardless, Clark received a call the following evening from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Hugh Shelton, who said he had been told by Secretary Cohen to deliver a piece of guidance verbatim: "Get your fucking face off the TV. No more briefings, period. That's it." [66] [67]

Operation Allied Force experienced another problem when NATO bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade on May 7, 1999. The operation had been organized against numerous Serbian targets, including "Target 493, the Federal Procurement and Supply Directorate Headquarters", although the intended target building was actually 300 meters away from the targeted area. The embassy was located at this mistaken target, and three Chinese journalists were killed. Clark's intelligence officer called Clark taking full responsibility and offering to resign, but Clark declined, saying it was not the officer's fault. Secretary Cohen and CIA Director George Tenet took responsibility the next day. Tenet would later explain in testimony before the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on July 22, 1999, that the targeting system used street addresses, which gave inaccurate positions for air bombings. He also said that the various databases of off-limit targets did not have the up-to-date address for the relatively new embassy location. [68] [69] [70]

The bombing campaign was ended on June 10, 1999, on the order of Secretary General of NATO Javier Solana after Milošević complied with conditions the international community had set and Yugoslav forces began to withdraw from Kosovo. [71] United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 was adopted that same day, placing Kosovo under United Nations administration and authorizing a Kosovo peacekeeping force. [72] NATO claimed to have suffered no combat deaths, [73] making Clark the first U.S. general to win a war without losing any soldiers to combat. NATO did suffer two deaths that were caused by an Apache helicopter crash, which NATO attributed to engine failure. [74] A F-117A was downed near the village of Budjanovici. The bombing was noted for its high degree of accuracy, with estimated 495 civilian deaths and 820 wounded reported to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as a result of the entire campaign. [73] [75] Yugoslavia estimated that number of civilians killed is higher than 2,000 and that more than 5,000 have been wounded. [76] Human Rights Watch estimates the number of civilian deaths due to NATO bombings as somewhere between 488 and 527. [77]

Milošević's term in office in Yugoslavia was coming to an end, and the elections that came on September 24, 2000, were protested due to allegations of fraud and rigged elections. This all came to a head on October 5 in the so-called Bulldozer Revolution. Milošević resigned on October 7. The Democratic Opposition of Serbia won a majority in parliamentary elections that December. Milošević was taken into custody on April 1, 2001, and transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on June 28 to face charges of war crimes and genocide. Clark was called to testify in a closed session of Milošević's trial in December 2003. He testified on issues ranging from the Srebrenica massacre to conversations Clark had had with Milošević over his career. [78] Some anti-war activist groups also label Clark and Bill Clinton (along with several others) as war criminals for NATO's entire bombing campaign, saying the entire operation was in violation of the NATO charter. [79] [80]

Pristina International Airport incident

One of Clark's most debated decisions during his SACEUR command was his attempted operation to attack Russian troops at Pristina International Airport immediately after the end of the Kosovo War in June 1999. A joint NATO–Russia peacekeeping operation was supposed to police Kosovo. Russia wanted their peacekeeping force to operate independent of NATO, but NATO refused. British forces were supposed to occupy Pristina International Airport, but a contingent of Russian troops arrived before they did and took control of the airport. Clark called then-Secretary General of NATO Javier Solana, who told him "you have transfer of authority" in the area. General Clark then issued an order for the NATO troops to attack and "overpower" the armed Russian troops, but Captain James Blount (later a singer known by the stage name James Blunt) leading the British troops questioned this order [81] and was supported in this decision by General Mike Jackson, the British commander of the Kosovo Force. Jackson refused to sanction the attack, reportedly saying "I'm not going to start the Third World War for you". [82] [83] Jackson has said he refused to take action because he did not believe it was worth the risk of a military confrontation with the Russians, instead insisting that troops encircle the airfield. After two days of stand-off and negotiations, NATO agreed to an independent Russian peacekeeping force, and Russia relinquished control of the airport. The refusal was criticized by some senior U.S. military personnel, with General Hugh Shelton calling Jackson's refusal "troubling". During hearings in the United States Senate, Senator John Warner suggested that the refusal might have been illegal, and that if it was legal rules potentially should be changed. [84] British Chief of the Defence Staff Charles Guthrie agreed with Jackson. [85]

Retirement

Clark received another call from General Shelton in July 1999 in which he was told that Secretary Cohen wanted Clark to leave his command in April 2000, less than three years after he assumed the post. Clark was surprised by this, because he believed SACEURs were expected to serve at least three years. [86] Clark was told that this was necessary because General Joseph Ralston was leaving his post as the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and would need another 4-star command within 60 days or he would be forced to retire. Ralston was not going to be appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff due to an extramarital affair in his past, and the SACEUR position was said to be the last potential post for him. [87] Clark said this explanation "didn't wash" he believed the legal issues did not necessarily bar him from a full term. [88] Clinton signed on to Ralston's reassignment, although David Halberstam wrote that the president and Madeleine Albright were angered at Clark's treatment. Clark spent the remainder of his time as SACEUR overseeing peacekeeper forces and, without a new command to take, was forced into retirement from the military on May 2, 2000. [89] [90]

Rumors persisted that Clark was forced out due to his contentious relationship with some in Washington, D.C. however, he has dismissed such rumors, calling it a "routine personnel action". The Department of Defense said it was merely a "general rotation of American senior ranks". [91] However, a NATO ambassador told the International Herald Tribune that Clark's dismissal seemed to be a "political thing from the United States". [92] General Hugh Shelton would say of Clark during his 2004 campaign that "the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. I'll just say Wes won't get my vote." [93] Shelton never elaborated further on what these issues were. [94]


Political positions

A method that some political scientists use for gauging ideology is to compare the annual ratings by the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) with the ratings by the American Conservative Union (ACU). [ 134 ] Based on his years in Congress, Obama has a lifetime average conservative rating of 7.67% from the ACU, [ 135 ] and a lifetime average liberal rating of 90% from the ADA. [ 136 ]

Obama was an early opponent of the Bush administration's policies on Iraq. [ 137 ] On October 2, 2002, the day President George W. Bush and Congress agreed on the joint resolution authorizing the Iraq War, [ 138 ] Obama addressed the first high-profile Chicago anti-Iraq War rally in Federal Plaza, [ 139 ] speaking out against the war. [ 140 ] [ 141 ] On March 16, 2003, the day President Bush issued his 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, [ 142 ] Obama addressed the largest Chicago anti-Iraq War rally to date in Daley Plaza and told the crowd that "it's not too late" to stop the war. [ 143 ]

Obama stated that if elected he would enact budget cuts in the range of tens of billions of dollars, stop investing in "unproven" missile defense systems, not "weaponize" space, "slow development of Future Combat Systems," and work towards eliminating all nuclear weapons. Obama favors ending development of new nuclear weapons, reducing the current U.S. nuclear stockpile, enacting a global ban on production of fissile material, and seeking negotiations with Russia in order to take ICBMs off high alert status. [ 144 ]

In November 2006, Obama called for a "phased redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq" and an opening of diplomatic dialogue with Syria and Iran. [ 145 ] In a March 2007 speech to AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby, he said that the primary way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is through talks and diplomacy, although he did not rule out military action. [ 146 ] Obama has indicated that he would engage in "direct presidential diplomacy" with Iran without preconditions. [ 147 ] [ 148 ] [ 149 ] Detailing his strategy for fighting global terrorism in August 2007, Obama said "it was a terrible mistake to fail to act" against a 2005 meeting of al-Qaeda leaders that U.S. intelligence had confirmed to be taking place in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. He said that as president he would not miss a similar opportunity, even without the support of the Pakistani government. [ 150 ]

In a December 2005, Washington Post opinion column, and at the Save Darfur rally in April 2006, Obama called for more assertive action to oppose genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. [ 151 ] He has divested $180,000 in personal holdings of Sudan-related stock, and has urged divestment from companies doing business in Iran. [ 152 ] In the July–August 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs, Obama called for an outward looking post-Iraq War foreign policy and the renewal of American military, diplomatic, and moral leadership in the world. Saying "we can neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission," he called on Americans to "lead the world, by deed and by example." [ 153 ]

In economic affairs, in April 2005, he defended the New Deal social welfare policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and opposed Republican proposals to establish private accounts for Social Security. [ 154 ] In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Obama spoke out against government indifference to growing economic class divisions, calling on both political parties to take action to restore the social safety net for the poor. [ 155 ] Shortly before announcing his presidential campaign, Obama said he supports universal health care in the United States. [ 156 ] Obama proposes to reward teachers for performance from traditional merit pay systems, assuring unions that changes would be pursued through the collective bargaining process. [ 157 ]

In September 2007, he blamed special interests for distorting the U.S. tax code. [ 159 ] His plan would eliminate taxes for senior citizens with incomes of less than $50,000 a year, repeal income tax cuts for those making over $250,000 as well as the capital gains and dividends tax cut, [ 160 ] close corporate tax loopholes, lift the income cap on Social Security taxes, restrict offshore tax havens, and simplify filing of income tax returns by pre-filling wage and bank information already collected by the IRS. [ 161 ] Announcing his presidential campaign's energy plan in October 2007, Obama proposed a cap and trade auction system to restrict carbon emissions and a ten year program of investments in new energy sources to reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil. [ 162 ] Obama proposed that all pollution credits must be auctioned, with no grandfathering of credits for oil and gas companies, and the spending of the revenue obtained on energy development and economic transition costs. [ 163 ]

Obama has encouraged Democrats to reach out to evangelicals and other religious groups. [ 164 ] In December 2006, he joined Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) at the "Global Summit on AIDS and the Church" organized by church leaders Kay and Rick Warren. [ 165 ] Together with Warren and Brownback, Obama took an HIV test, as he had done in Kenya less than four months earlier. [ 166 ] He encouraged "others in public life to do the same" and not be ashamed of it. [ 167 ] Addressing over 8,000 United Church of Christ members in June 2007, Obama challenged "so-called leaders of the Christian Right" for being "all too eager to exploit what divides us." [ 168 ]


South China Sea Migraines: The Filipino POV

US, Phl agree on 5 base locations under EDCA
By Jose Katigbak, The STAR Washington bureau | 1606 views
March 20, 2016
News Update

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WASHINGTON – The Philippines has agreed to allow the United States to use five military bases where US troops and supplies can be stationed under a security deal agreed amid rising tensions with China’s excessive claims in the South China Sea.

At the 6th US-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Washington yesterday, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Amy Searight said the deal was reached under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

The military facilities identified are the Antonio Bautista air base in the western island of Palawan near the South China Sea, Basa air base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Lumbia airport in Cagayan de Oro and the Mactan-Benito Ebuen air base in Mactan.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg told reporters that movements of personnel and supplies to the base locations would take place “very soon.”

The EDCA grants Washington increased military presence in its former colony through rotation of ships and planes for humanitarian and maritime security operations. It allows US soldiers, warships and planes to temporarily base in Filipino military locations.

The EDCA was signed by both countries in 2014, but implementation was held up until the Supreme Court upheld its legality in January.

US troops were forced to withdraw from their bases in the Philippines in 1992 in a dispute over rent. With the onset of EDCA, the Philippines is shaping up as a major staging base for projecting US naval and air power in the face of China’s maritime expansion in the South China Sea.

In a joint statement released during the bilateral dialogue, the Philippines and US also reaffirmed their commitments to the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951. Searight said that Manila was a “critical US ally” and ties had never been stronger.

Searight also announced that US Defense Secretary Ash Carter would visit the Philippines in April to discuss implementation of the agreement.

Goldberg described the agreement, valid for an initial 10 years, as “a pretty big deal” that would allow for a greater US presence as part of the US rebalance to Asia and enhance the alliance with the Philippines.

He also stressed that it did not allow for permanent US bases that existed for 94 years until 1991, when the Philippine Senate voted to evict them.

“This isn’t a return to that era. These are different reasons and for 21st century issues, including maritime security,” he explained, adding that all US deployments would require Philippine approval.

The Antonio Bautista air base in Palawan is a highly volatile area contested almost wholly by China and partially by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.

The Basa base in Pampanga, on the other hand, is a major Philippine Air Force base about 16 km from the old US Clark Air base.

Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija is the largest military reservation in the Philippines and primarily a training area. Its training facilities include airborne and amphibious training, jungle survival and guerrilla warfare. US forces already use a small part of the reservation to store weaponry and equipment needed for annual Balikatan exercises with the Philippine military.

Part of the Lumbia airport in Cagayan de Oro will be converted into a US storage depot for disaster relief equipment.

The Mactan-Benito Ebuen air base has a 10,000-foot runway, which it shares with the Mactan-Cebu international airport. It was constructed by the US Air Force in the mid-1950s as an emergency landing strip for Strategic Air Command bombers.

In January, the Philippines said it had offered eights bases for US use, including the former US air force base of Clark and the former US Navy base at Subic Bay, as well as two sites on Palawan island near the South China Sea.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said he was not aware of any other additional locations under discussion.

Asked how he thought China might react to the new agreement Kirby said, “I can’t speak for another nation and how they might react to this.”

“But I can tell you that there’s nothing offensive or provocative with respect to any of the military capabilities that are permanently based in the Asia-Pacific region or are going to be rotationally based in the Pacific region. What it signals is our commitment to our alliance with the Philippines,” he added.

‘Lion’s share’ of $50-M budget

Searight also said the Pentagon had told the US Congress of its intention to provide $50 million to help build maritime security in the region and that the Philippines would get “the lion’s share.”

The funds are expected to go towards improving radar and other monitoring capabilities in the South China Sea, where China’s pursuit of territorial claims has raised US concerns and those of rival claimants like the Philippines.

The 6th US-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue was co-chaired by Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel and Assistant Secretary of Defense David Shear for the US and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Evan Garcia and National Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino for the Philippines.

Batino said Manila was pleased with the finalization of the locations.

Russel also expressed belief that the deal would speed US help in response to natural disasters and facilitate modernization of the Philippine armed forces.

He also noted that it came at an important time ahead of a ruling in a case the Philippines has brought against China over its South China Sea claims in the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

On Thursday, the US Navy said it had seen activity around a reef China seized from the Philippines nearly four years ago that could be a precursor to more Chinese land reclamation in the South China Sea.

Admiral John Richardson expressed concern that The Hague ruling, which is expected in late May, could prompt Beijing to declare an exclusion zone in what is one of the world’s busiest trade routes. – With Jaime Laude, Pia Lee-Brago, Reuters

Kilopi505

Agreement on US access to bases hailed
| 442 views
March 21, 2016

The Philippines yesterday hailed a new accord giving the US military access to five of its bases, saying this would strengthen its defensive capabilities and maritime security.

The agreement between the two allies comes as the Philippines and other countries are embroiled in a tense dispute with China over conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Under the agreement, US forces would be able to rotate through five Philippine bases, including those close to the South China Sea.

“The five agreed locations. reaffirms the shared commitment of the Philippines and US to strengthening their alliance in terms of ensuring both countries’ mutual defence and security,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in a statement.

Defense spokesman Peter Galvez said separately the agreement “would greatly enhance our capabilities” in maritime security and disaster relief.

Philippine and US officials meeting in Washington on Friday announced that they had agreed to the rotation of US military personnel under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which went into effect last January.

One of the installations is the Antonio Bautista Air Base in the western Philippine island of Palawan, directly facing the South China Sea.

Another is Basa Air Base north of Manila, home of the Philippines’ main fighter wing, which is also close to disputed waters.

China claims virtually all the South China Sea, despite conflicting partial claims by Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines.

It has been asserting its claim by occupying more reefs and outcrops in these waters, and building artificial islands including airstrips on some of them.

Bautista Air Base is just 300 kilometers (186 miles) east of Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, an outcrop occupied by China in the 1990s despite angry protests by the Philippines.

Basa Air Base is about 330 kilometers from Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, occupied by Chinese vessels after a tense confrontation with Philippine ships in 2012.

The other bases through which US forces can rotate are a major army training camp which also has its own airstrip in the north, and two air bases in the central and southern islands of the Philippines.

Press reports quoted US ambassador Philip Goldberg as saying in Washington that US personnel and equipment would arrive “very soon.”

Philippine officials said they did not know when the US forces would arrive.

The Philippines, a US colony from 1898 to 1946, hosted two of the largest overseas US military bases until 1992 when the Senate voted to terminate their leases amid growing nationalist sentiment.

But since then Manila has been seeking closer ties with Washington as China has become more assertive in the region.

The designation of five bases that would host the US facilities under the EDCA is expected to boost the country’s maritime security and disaster response, the defense department’s Galvez said yesterday.

“We are greatly pleased that the hard work put into by both parties has reached this milestone of an outcome,” Galvez said.

“This would greatly advance our capabilities not only for maritime security, as we train together, but more importantly, our humanitarian assistance and disaster response capacity,” he added.

The government announced the agreement on five bases a few days after the soft launch of this year’s “Balikatan” military drills.

The soft opening, which involved medical missions and building of schools, was held in Panay and Palawan, the province nearest the West Philippine Sea.

– With AP, Alexis Romero

Kilopi505

China flexes muscle in disputed waters
| 502 views
March 22, 2016

Indonesia also mulling arbitration

Beijing is flexing its military muscle in the South China Sea, driving away Filipino fishermen from Panatag Shoal and preventing the Indonesian coast guard from detaining a Chinese vessel caught poaching in Indonesia’s waters.

The development prompted Jakarta to summon the Chinese ambassador and sparked new concerns over China’s growing assertiveness in staking its claims in disputed waters.

Indonesian fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti said his country has for years been pursuing and promoting peace in the South China Sea.

“With the (March 19) incident we feel interrupted and sabotaged in our efforts,” Pudjiastuti said. “We may take it to the international tribunal of the law of the sea.”

Earlier, at least 10 Filipino fishermen reported being harassed and driven away from Panatag or Scarborough Shoal by a Chinese coast guard vessel. The shoal, off Zambales province and well within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone, has effectively been under Chinese control since 2012.

Indonesia protested yesterday what it described as an infringement of its waters by a Chinese coast guard vessel at the weekend, the foreign minister in Jakarta said.

Foreign minister Retno Marsudi met Chinese embassy representatives in Jakarta after the incident involving a Chinese coast guard vessel, a Chinese fishing vessel and an Indonesian patrol ship in the northern Natuna Sea.

China says that it does not dispute Indonesia’s sovereignty over the Natuna Islands.

“At the meeting we conveyed our strong protest (over). the breach by the Chinese coast guard of Indonesia’s sovereign rights,” Marsudi told reporters in a press conference.

China claims vast swaths of the South China Sea, where several Southeast Asian countries also have overlapping claims. Indonesia, however, remains a non-claimant.

The latest development comes amid heightened tensions in the South China Sea over China’s land reclamation and over its claims over vast areas of an important shipping corridor.

Indonesia was attempting to detain the Chinese vessel for illegal fishing when a Chinese coast guard vessel intervened, Pudjiastuti said.

“What we will ask the ambassador is that if they say their nine-dash line does not claim Natuna, then why is there still illegal fishing happening there?” Pudjiastuti said. “Their government should not stand behind illegal and unregulated fishing.”

China’s Foreign Ministry said a Chinese coast guard vessel did not enter Indonesian waters after Indonesia protested what it called an infringement of its waters by a Chinese vessel over the weekend. Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the comments at a daily news briefing.

In a statement sent toReuters, China’s foreign ministry said the trawler was carrying out “normal activities” in “traditional Chinese fishing grounds.”

“On March 19, after the relevant trawler was attacked and harassed by an armed Indonesian ship, a Chinese Coast Guard ship went to assist,” it said.

“The Chinese side immediately demanded the Indonesian side at once release the detained Chinese fishermen and ensure their personal safety,” the ministry added.

China hopes Indonesia can “appropriately handle” the issue, it said.

Indonesia is not a claimant in the disputed South China Sea, but has raised concerns over China’s inclusion of the resource-rich Natuna Islands in its so-called “nine-dash line.”

In Lingayen, Pangasinan, 10 fishermen from Infanta town in Quezon reported being harassed by Chinese coast guard recently in the vicinity of the disputed Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc.

Barangay Cato chairman Charlito Maniago toldThe STARthe fishermen arrived in their homes yesterday.

Maniago said the fishermen told him how they tried to fight off – even with stones – the Chinese, who were driving them away from the shoal. He said the fishermen’s boat was damaged as the Chinese vessel attempted to ram it.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said they were awaiting the official report about intensified Chinese activities at Panatag Shoal.

Almendras made the announcement after Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua called on him yesterday at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“We’re waiting for the official report, validation of that. When and if the Armed Forces does validate it, we will be launching our usual course of action which is to express our opinions according to diplomatic channels,” he added.– Pia Lee Brago, Cesar Ramirez, Reuters

Kilopi505

US-Phl base deal raises questions – China
| 448 views
March 22, 2016

BEIJING -- China said yesterday agreements like the one reached last week by the United States and the Philippines allowing for a US military presence at five Philippine bases raised questions about militarization in the South China Sea.

The United States is keen to boost the military capabilities of East Asian countries and its own regional presence in the face of China’s assertive pursuit of territorial claims in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest trade routes.

The US and its regional allies have expressed concern that China is militarizing the South China Sea with moves to build airfields and other military facilities on the islands it occupies.

Asked about the base deal, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that US-Philippine cooperation should not be targeted at any third party nor harm other nations’ sovereignty or security interests.

“I also want to point out that recently the US military likes to talk about the so-called militarization of the South China Sea,” Hua told a daily news conference.

“Can they then explain, isn’t this kind of continued strengthening of military deployments in the South China Sea and areas surrounding it considered militarization?”

China claims most of the energy-rich waters through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.-- Reuters

Kilopi505

EDITORIAL - A threat in the neighborhood
| 129 views
March 22, 2016

Indonesia is reportedly studying the possibility of seeking international arbitration. This was after a Chinese coastguard vessel prevented Jakarta from impounding over the weekend a fishing boat that was caught in the Natuna Sea – the waters surrounding Indonesia’s Riau province. Indonesia detained the eight Chinese crewmembers.

It was not the first such incident. In 2010 and 2013, Chinese vessels also demanded the release of Chinese fishermen and a trawler apprehended by Indonesia in the Natuna Sea. The incident over the weekend comes on the heels of reports that 11 Filipino fishermen were shooed away from Panatag Shoal off Zambales by the Chinese.

In 2012, the Philippine Navy apprehended eight Chinese fishing vessels around Panatag. One of the vessels was found with a cargo of illegally collected corals, giant clams and live sharks. Chinese maritime surveillance ships, however, prevented the Philippine Navy from arresting the fishermen.

The incident contributed to the decision of the Philippines to ask the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal in The Hague to define the country’s maritime entitlements under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. A decision is expected within the year. Recent reports said Vietnam, Japan and now Indonesia are studying a similar approach to settle its maritime disputes with China.

This is what happens when Beijing’s response to its neighbors’ protests against its expansive maritime territorial claims is met with even more aggressive moves in disputed waters.

Beijing is painting its activities as part of efforts to protect the environment, marine resources and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. But this is belied by numerous incidents in which Chinese maritime vessels, almost always armed, deprive marginalized fishermen of their livelihood, in waters that are a long way from China’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone as defined under UNCLOS. Beijing should not wonder why its avowed peaceful rise rings hollow, especially among several nations in its own backyard.

Coyote16able

US-Phl base deal raises questions – China
| 448 views
March 22, 2016

BEIJING -- China said yesterday agreements like the one reached last week by the United States and the Philippines allowing for a US military presence at five Philippine bases raised questions about militarization in the South China Sea.

The United States is keen to boost the military capabilities of East Asian countries and its own regional presence in the face of China’s assertive pursuit of territorial claims in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest trade routes.

The US and its regional allies have expressed concern that China is militarizing the South China Sea with moves to build airfields and other military facilities on the islands it occupies.

Asked about the base deal, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that US-Philippine cooperation should not be targeted at any third party nor harm other nations’ sovereignty or security interests.

“I also want to point out that recently the US military likes to talk about the so-called militarization of the South China Sea,” Hua told a daily news conference.

“Can they then explain, isn’t this kind of continued strengthening of military deployments in the South China Sea and areas surrounding it considered militarization?”

China claims most of the energy-rich waters through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.-- Reuters

Kilopi505

Fishermen vow to go back to Panatag
| 476 views
March 23, 2016

INFANTA, Pangasinan – Despite being driven away by a Chinese coast guard vessel from the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, Filipino fishermen vowed to continue fishing in the area seized by the Chinese.

“We will go back there to fish because that is ours,” said Romulo Ferrer, a crew of a fishing boatFB/Joenel 3in Barangay Cato here.

He claimed to have witnessed the latest bullying by Chinese coast guard near Panatag Shoal.

Ferrer told journalists that when he and seven others sailed on March 4 near the shoal, crewmembers of another fishing boat told them not to proceed any further as the Chinese were water spraying the fishermen.

They would also come near the Filipino fishing boats to intimidate them and shout at them “Go Filipinos.”

He said he did not personally experience being hosed or threatened with harm by the Chinese, but he heard first hand accounts of harassment, including being beamed on with what appeared to be laser.

One of the boats which figured in the incident was operated by Mundot Etac, Ferrer said.

He said the green colored light caused pain and that he and his group had to switch off their boat’s light to avoid being hit by the beam.

Ferrer said Etac and his crew were from Infanta but their fishing boat docks in Subic.

He said Etac and companions are still near the shoal.

Ferrer said he had experienced being attacked with water cannon but this would not deter them from going back to the shoal.

Meanwhile, Ohio-Class submarineUSS Ohio(SSGN 726) arrived in Subic Bay yesterday.– Cesar Ramirez, Ric Sapnu

Kilopi505

Taiwan invites Phl officials to disputed isles
| 1386 views
March 27, 2016
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TAIPEI – Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou on Wednesday invited Philippine government representatives and members of an international arbitration tribunal to a disputed South China Sea island for a visit.

“I, as Republic of China president, formally invites the Philippine government to send a representative or lawyer to visit Taiping Island,” Ma said, referring to Taiwan by its official name and to the island that Taiwan controls by its Taiwanese name.

Manila has yet to respond to Ma’s invitation as of press time.

The Philippines has challenged the legality of claims by China, that mirror those of Taiwan, to most of the South China Sea, presenting its case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in November. Ma was speaking at a press briefing after international journalists were allowed to visit the island, also known as Itu Aba, for the first time on Wednesday.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague is expected to decide on Manila’s case in the next few weeks. Beijing has refused to participate in the tribunal’s proceedings, citing its indisputable sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea.

As part of its case now being considered by an international court in The Hague, the Philippines has argued that no feature in the Spratlys – including Itu Aba – could be legally considered islands because they lack the ability to sustain human habitation or economic life.

But if Itu Aba is determined to be an island, it is entitled to a 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Such a ruling would complicate territorial disputes across the vital trade route and resource-rich region, where Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei also have claims.

Kilopi505

China destroys 35 tons of bananas from Phl
| 1778 views March 28, 2016

SHENZHEN – Customs at the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen destroyed 34.78 tons of “substandard bananas” imported from the Philippines due to excessive pesticide use, state TV said on Saturday.

The bananas, worth $33,000, were mashed and buried on Friday (March 25), state broadcaster CCTV reported, showing footage of a digger mashing the fruit and moving them into a pit for landfill.

CCTV said the sampling test indicated that the carbendazim contained in these bananas exceeded China’s standard limits for pesticide residue in food.

China would inform the Philippines of the incident and urge the country to take measures to ensure the quality and safety of the exported bananas to China, CCTV said.

China is the Philippines’ fourth-biggest export market after Japan, the United States and Hong Kong. Tensions between the two countries were rising amid the South China Sea dispute.

The Philippines has brought against China over its South China Sea claims in the International Court of Arbitration in the Hague, and a ruling is expected in the next few months.

In March 2012, China stopped a shipment of Philippine bananas, a month before the sea spat on the Scarborough Shoal erupted, after it found pests. Since then it has imposed stringent quarantine rules on other fruit from the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the destruction of the “substandard” bananas will not affect trade relations between the two countries, Malacañang said yesterday.

The quantity is “too small as it is equivalent to only two containers or around 2,700 boxes with a value of around P1.4 million. This quantity is too small in terms of the overall Philippines-China trade relations,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. quoted Trade Secretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. as saying.

Coloma issued the statement in an interview aired over government-run radio station dzRB. He also quoted Cristobal as saying the quantity “is not unusual as far as rejections are concerned in the normal course of business.” – Reuters

Kilopi505

100 China boats seen encroaching in Malaysia
| 594 views
March 29, 2016
News Update

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KUALA LUMPUR – About 100 Chinese-registered boats have been detected encroaching in Malaysian waters near the Luconia Shoals in the South China Sea, a Malaysian minister said.

Shahidan Kassim, a minister in charge of national security, said the government has dispatched the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and the navy to the area to monitor the situation.

Shahidan was quoted by the nationalBernamanews agency on Friday as saying that legal enforcement action would be taken if the Chinese vessels are found to have entered Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that Chinese boats have a right to be in the waters.

“I want to point out that it is the fishing season in the South China Sea now, and according to usual practice, Chinese fishing vessels are fishing normally in the relevant waters at this time each year,” Hong said.

Japan opens radar station

Japan yesterday switched on a radar station in the East China Sea, giving it a permanent intelligence gathering post close to Taiwan and a group of islands disputed by Japan and China, drawing an angry response from Beijing.

The new Self Defense Force base on the island of Yonaguni is at the western extreme of a string of Japanese islands in the East China Sea, 150 kilometers south of the disputed islands known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

China has raised concerns with its neighbors and in the West with its assertive claim to most of the South China Sea where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims. Japan has long been mired in a territorial dispute with China over the East China Sea islands.

“Until yesterday, there was no coastal observation unit west of the main Okinawa island. It was a vacuum we needed to fill,” said Daigo Shiomitsu, a Ground Self Defense Force lieutenant colonel who commands the new base on Yonaguni. “It means we can keep watch on territory surrounding Japan and respond to all situations.”

Taiwan arrests 41 poachers

The Taiwanese coast guard said yesterday it had arrested 41 Chinese fishermen in possession of 15 tons of illicit coral reef and endangered turtles near a disputed atoll in the South China Sea.

Taiwanese authorities detained the fishermen on March 22 after their vessel was discovered operating illegally off the shore of Tongsha island, the coast guard said, in the island’s largest mission targeting rampant poaching in the contested waters.

Officials later recovered the harvested reef from the ship along with three endangered turtles and about 40 kilograms of chemicals used to kill fish.

“The damage they caused to the Tongsha ecological system is hard to estimate,” Allen Chen, a research fellow at Taiwan’s Biodiversity Research Center, toldAFP.

“The Chinese ship would have earned a large fortune if they could have sped away with the huge amount of valuable reef and sold it at home,” he said, adding that Chinese demand for coral has surged in tandem with its continued economic development.

Vaermina

The Taiwanese coast guard said yesterday it had arrested 41 Chinese fishermen in possession of 15 tons of illicit coral reef and endangered turtles near a disputed atoll in the South China Sea.

Taiwanese authorities detained the fishermen on March 22 after their vessel was discovered operating illegally off the shore of Tongsha island, the coast guard said, in the island’s largest mission targeting rampant poaching in the contested waters.

Officials later recovered the harvested reef from the ship along with three endangered turtles and about 40 kilograms of chemicals used to kill fish.

“The damage they caused to the Tongsha ecological system is hard to estimate,” Allen Chen, a research fellow at Taiwan’s Biodiversity Research Center, toldAFP.

“The Chinese ship would have earned a large fortune if they could have sped away with the huge amount of valuable reef and sold it at home,” he said, adding that Chinese demand for coral has surged in tandem with its continued economic development.

Kilopi505

China’s airfields on Spratlys meant for fighter jets – US
By Jaime Laude | 751 views March 30, 2016

A senior US State Department official yesterday disputed China’s claims that the airstrips built on its artificial islands in the South China Sea were meant for flights for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Colin Willet, US deputy assistant secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said what China has been doing in the region was to outstrip all other claimants.

“The runways they’ve built are designed to accommodate strategic bombers, not cargo planes for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” Willet told a group of journalists in a teleconference from the US embassy in Manila.

While it is true that other claimant countries have deployed military personnel and weapons on their outposts, Willet said, these are small compared to what China has been doing for the last two years.

There were also reports China has installed an anti-air defense system over its man-made islands at Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Zamora (Subi) and Panganiban (Mischief) reefs.

The three former obscure maritime outcrops are now home to newly built runways.

Beijing also installed missile batteries over its occupied Woody Island in the Paracel island group located north of the Spratlys.

“Frankly, what’s going on here is far more than simply catching up. What China is doing vastly outstripped what all other claimants have done over the past several decades,” Willet said.

“When countries place weapons on their outposts and transform them into what can only be described as military bases, it sets the stage for others to follow suit and raises the risk of conflict as well as the prospect of a diplomatic solution,” the state department official said.

China maintains its land reclamation activities in the region are not aimed at militarizing the area but for civilian purposes.

“We simply don’t need these type of facilities to protect civilians, or assist distressed fishermen or monitor the weather,” Willet said.

On China’s moves of restricting freedom of navigation and overflight over the disputed region, she said it is also causing a lot of concern, as this is a clear violation of international law.

“While China has pledged to protect freedom of navigation, we still see radio operators challenging foreign ships and planes that are operating in the area, warning them to stay away,” she said.

Willet pointed out that US ships and planes have been sailing and flying over the region for decades to protect freedom of navigation and overflight.

She also pointed out that when the US conducts freedom of navigation, it is not meant at militarizing the region as China had claimed, but for the protection of navigation rights of all seafaring nations in order to ensure that they can all exercise this right, including China. – With Helen Flores, Ric Sapnu, Rainier Allan Ronda

Kilopi505

Obama seeing Xi as sea tensions rise
| 123 views March 30, 2016

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama will be meeting with Asian leaders in Washington this week as fears grow that long-smoldering tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in the South China Sea risk flaring into conflict.

World leaders, including those from China, Japan and South Korea, will be in town for a summit hosted by Obama on nuclear security — the final round in the US president’s drive for international action to stop materials that could be used for an atomic weapon or dirty bomb from getting into terrorist hands.

But other pressing security issues will be up for discussion on the sidelines of the two-day gathering that starts tomorrow.

Obama will meet separately with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a time when frictions between the two world powers over China’s island-building in strategic waters are growing and look set to intensify with an upcoming ruling from an international tribunal on Beijing’s sweeping territorial claims.

China has reclaimed more than 1,200 hectares of land in the past two years near sea lanes crucial for world trade and installed airstrips and other military facilities that US intelligence assesses will enable China to project offensive military power in the region by early next year.

If the Hague-based tribunal rules in the Philippines’ favor, as most experts anticipate, it could undermine China’s insistence that its stance is consistent with international law.

China has refused to participate in the arbitration and says it would ignore the ruling, but a growing number of countries say both parties should be bound by it.

The US president is also meeting with the leaders of Japan and South Korea. Washington is looking for an elusive unity between its core allies in Asia as threats from North Korea reach fever-pitch after Pyongyang was stung with tough sanctions in response to its recent nuclear test and rocket launch.

Xi will want the US to restart negotiations with the authoritarian government of Kim Jong-Un, which has been touting progress in miniaturizing nuclear devices and missile technology that could directly threaten America.

China also called on Vietnam to deepen their defense ties. Although there is no mention of the South China Sea, the Chinese defense ministry said the commander of the South China Sea fleet attended the meeting between the two Communist states. — AP, Reuters

FieryMatter

Fire and Fiery

Teslashark

Kilopi505

My thoughts are like this:

Why can't China control their fishermen? It's like it is the fishermen who are making foreign policy, not the Communist Party.

Kilopi505

Noy mulls submarine force for Phl defense
| 1131 views March 31, 2016
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As the Chinese military continues to tighten its hold on vast areas in disputed waters, the Philippine government is considering building a “submarine force” as a deterrent to Beijing.

President Aquino made the pronouncement yesterday at the Publish Asia 2016 opening ceremonies, even as he stressed that nothing is concrete yet.

He said the realization that the Philippines is a “natural transit point into the Pacific” has led him to “study whether or not we do need a submarine force.”

In recent years, China has been expanding its control over large areas in the West Philippine Sea – by deploying warships and coast guard vessels as well as by building artificial islands, in the process destroying coral reefs and other marine resources.

Last year it was reported the Philippines would buy electric and diesel-run submarines as well as an advanced missile system as part of the modernization of the armed forces.

“I probably should stop talking about what we are doing to enhance (defense capabilities), but the bottom line is, this situation does call upon us to devote a lot more resources than previously,” he told a global gathering of newspaper and news publishing industry players.

“Also, it has necessitated us to have this as one of the priority issues that has to be tackled as far as foreign policy is concerned because it does significantly impact on our own developmental efforts,” the President said when asked about the increasing military cooperation between the Philippines and Japan.

“It does impact currently the lives of our fisherfolk who have been fishing in these waters for eons,” he said, apparently referring to China’s barring Filipino fishermen from waters it now controls.

“It does impact the economies to which these fisherfolk of ours are engaged in. Hence, there is that need to finally resolve this matter or, at least, accelerate the process of resolving this matter to the benefit of all parties concerned,” he said.

He stressed the Philippines could lose its west coast if it allows China’s maritime claims to remain uncontested.

But despite the government’s resolve to contest Beijing’s expansive maritime claims, it entertains “no illusion” about engaging China or any nation in an arms race, much less in waging war.

Aquino emphasized nonetheless the need for an accelerated modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“If you look at representations of the so-called nine-dash line, you will note that, as far as the Philippines is concerned, we practically lose the west coast. we’re left with the east coast,” the President said, noting the islands and facilities being built by China in the disputed areas were also causing too much environmental impact.

“It does matter to us. We are supposed to have a 36,000-kilometer coastline. We are supposed to have an EEZ (exclusive economic zone) of 200 (nautical miles) stretching from those baselines. And suddenly, we are (going to) lose about half if we agree to this position (nine-dash line),” Aquino said.

But despite the challenges, the President said the country’s peaceful efforts have been well received and documented, especially when he raised the issue before members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2012.

Aquino noted it was already the 10th anniversary of the region’s attempt to come up with a code of conduct in the South China Sea. What the ASEAN came up with in 2002 was a non-binding declaration, he said.

“I think all countries. realize that war is a futile exercise… nobody stands to gain and, in fact, the whole world stands to lose if it does amount to war,” the President pointed out.

“The Philippines, for instance, renounces war as an instrument of foreign policy, that is embedded in our Constitution,” he said.

“We have no illusions of ever trying to match or trying to engage anybody in an arms race or in a military buildup,” Aquino said, adding his administration would rather devote its resources to the “butter side” or the needs of the people rather than to weapons.

“Stability has to come about when there is clarity as to each one’s entitlements rather than what one wants to assert out of national interest,” he said, pointing out the Philippines and China were both signatories to UNCLOS.

The President said even those far from the South China Sea must realize the importance of stability to ensure smooth trade and greater chances for prosperity.

“And that it’s no longer a question of whether one possesses more economic might or more military might, but rather what is it that is embodied in the laws that govern all of us that we should be religiously adhering to? So if that situation is wrought then we manage the crisis, we bring down the tensions and we avert any potential for any conflict,” he said.

The President said he is grateful to countries that have expressed support for the Philippine position on the West Philippine Sea issue. – With Jaime Laude, AFP