Believe in America: Trump reboots his presidency with condemnation of hatred, a rousing vision of what country can be by 250th anniversary of independence and a heartbreaking appearance by the widow of SEAL hero whose father snubbed him
- President Trump addressed both houses of Congress in a Joint Session just over a month into his presidency
- New U.S. leader channeled Kennedy to speak of the ‘courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts’
- But bluntly political speech also tells the House and the Senate to take action on his agenda
- He told them to ‘increase funding for our veterans,’ pass ‘historic tax reform’, ‘repeal and replace Obamacare,’ and ‘help ensure new parents have paid family leave’
- Most electrifying moment of address lasting slightly over one hour was when he paid tribute to William ‘Ryan’ Owens, SEAL killed on raid in Yemen last month
- The SEAL’s widow Carryn Owens sat beside Ivanka Trump and cried as the divided Congress united for the longest ovation of the evening
- Trump refused to back down on immigration saying: ‘what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or their loved one?’
- Opening sentences of speech robustly condemned anti-Semitic attacks and allegedly racially motivated Kansas City shooting of two Indian men
- Democratic women wore white in reference to fight for suffrage and made thumbs down gestures to speech
President Donald Trump took his first mission-critical trip down Pennsylvania Avenue on Tuesday to address a Joint Session of Congress, telling his political opponents that ‘the time for small thinking is over, the time for trivial fights is behind us.’
At that very moment, a member of the Democratic Party hissed.
But Trump’s 60-minute speech drew 94 interruptions for applause, including a sustained, tear-jerking ovation for the widow of a Navy SEAL killed in action just eight days after Trump took office.
As Carryn Owens wept and Ivanka Trump comforted her, Trump said her husband Ryan was happy that the lengthy applause ‘broke a record.’
The slain sailor’s father made headlines last week when he said he had refused to speak with the president when his son’s remains were returned to the U.S. in a somber ceremony. He also blasted Trump for green-lighting what he called the ‘stupid mission’ that claimed Ryan’s life.
But the president praised Ryan as ‘a warrior and a hero, battling against terrorism and securing our nation.’
‘Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity’ Trump said. ‘For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom. We will never forget Ryan.’
Trump began Tuesday night with a claim on the role of political peacemaker, saying he wanted to bring Americans who voted for him together with those who didn’t.
‘I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart,’ he said.
ISIS leader ‘admits DEFEAT in Iraq and orders militants to flee or kill themselves in suicide attacks’
- Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is said to have issued a statement called ‘farewell speech’
- Terror mastermind reported to have told fighters to flee, hide of launch attacks
- Comes as Iraqi army units seized back the last major road out of western Mosul
- UK Defence Minister Michael Fallon said he expected to see ISIS expelled from Iraq’s major towns by the end of 2017
The terror mastermind is said to have issued a statement called ‘farewell speech’ which was distributed among ISIS preachers and clerics in parts of Iraq it still controls.
According to local media, he urged supporters to run and hide and told ‘non-Arab fighters’ to either return home or blow themselves up with the promise of ’72 women in heaven’.
Two British medics who joined Islamic State killed in Iraq: BBC
Two British medics who abandoned studies in Sudan to join Islamic State with a group of other students have been killed in fighting in Iraq, the BBC reported on Wednesday.
Ahmed Sami Khider and Hisham Fadlallah died at the weekend, the BBC said, with Khider believed to have been killed in a convoy as it left the city of Mosul, which U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are trying to retake from IS militants.
Britain’s Foreign Office said it was unable to confirm the deaths.
The two men had been part of a group of nine mainly British-Sudanese medical students from Khartoum’s University of Medical Sciences and Technology who had joined IS in 2015. Five other Britons from the institution joined them soon afterwards and at least four had now been killed, the BBC said.
Ex-CIA spy freed in Portugal, avoids extradition over kidnapping
A former CIA officer convicted of involvement in the 2003 kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in Italy was released on Wednesday after winning a last-minute reprieve from extradition.
Sabrina de Sousa, a dual U.S.-Portuguese citizen, was waiting at Lisbon airport to be flown to Italy early on Wednesday when word came she was to be released, after Italy’s president granted her a partial pardon.
“I’m happy with how this worked out here after two years of having this troubling my mind,” a smiling de Sousa told reporters as she left the Judiciary Police headquarters. “But this is not over yet, as I still have the process in Italy, and we have to see how it goes.”
The partial pardon by Italian President Sergio reduced her sentence to three years from four. That means she can apply for alternatives to a prison sentence.
“We will now await the Italian court’s decision on alternative sanctions to prison, which is likely to be community service,” her lawyer, Manuel Magalhaes e Silva, who accompanied de Sousa out of the police building, told Reuters.
PAC-3 missiles deployed on Taiwan’s east coast ‘in response to Chinese military strategy’
The ministry confirmed that (PAC-3) missile systems were moved to the area of Hualien and Taitung to ensure that Taiwan can defend itself in the event of an attack, Taiwan’s national news agency, CNA, reported.
It is the first time Taiwan’s military has acknowledged stationing the missiles in the scantly populated Hualien and Taitung areas, according to Taiwan News. Until now, Patriot PAC-3 missile defense systems were believed to have been located close to the populous cities of Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung, the newspaper said.
The MND said in a report that Taiwan’s military is determined to boost its combat readiness through innovations in military drills and training, deployment of military forces, and enhanced exchanges between various branches of the armed forces, in light of increased military spending by China, CNA reported.
US & South Korea launch large-scale war games amid tensions with North Korea
South Korea’s Defense Ministry and the US military based in the South confirmed the commencement of the joint drills on Wednesday.
The exercise is a field training exercise involving ground, air, and naval forces from both US and South Korea that will run through the end of next month. The two allies are likely to deploy their major strategic assets in the drills to deliver a warning against what they see as North Korean provocations. In March, both countries also plan to separately conduct Key Resolve practice, a computer-simulated command post exercise, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, citing the South Korean Defense Ministry.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-Koo had a phone conversation early on Wednesday, in which Mattis expressed Washington’s commitment to the defense of its ally.
A Palestinian stabbed and lightly wounded a resident of the southern West Bank settlement outpost of Havat Mor inside his home on Wednesday, the army said.
The Israeli man drew his gun and shot the terrorist, who was pronounced dead on the scene by a local doctor, a spokesperson for the Magen David Adom ambulance service said.
The Palestinian man had broken into the West Bank outpost in the Hebron Hills, the army said.
Israeli troops and Magen David Adom ambulances were called to the scene.
The Air Force Wants a Lightweight Fighter to Do What the F-35 Can’t
By Kyle Mizokmi, PopularMechanics.com
The U.S. Air Force will request funding to test a number of airplanes for a new low-cost fighter concept. The goal is to field a fleet of small, lightweight airplanes capable of flying low and slow against enemies without advanced air defenses, providing support to ground forces fighting low-tech opponents such as the Taliban and the Islamic State.
The service is requesting $8 million to fund the tests, which it hopes will identify suitable candidates for OA-X, or Observation, Attack-Experimental aircraft. OA-X aircraft would be small, typically single-seat aircraft capable of flying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions or ground attacks. The plane should be capable of operating from austere environments and airfields. A key requirement is that the aircraft be inexpensive to fly on a per-hour basis.
Putin’s Russia Seen Dominating European Gas for Two Decadesby
Europe has wanted to wean itself from Russian natural gas ever since supplies from its eastern neighbor dropped during freezing weather in 2009. Almost a decade later, the region has never been more dependent.
Gazprom PJSC, Russia’s state-run export monopoly, shipped a record amount of gas to the European Union last year and accounts for about 34 percent of the trading bloc’s use of the fuel. Russia will remain the biggest source of supply through 2035, Royal Dutch Shell Plc said last week, echoing comments by BP Plc in January.
EU lawmakers have had their hearts set on diversifying supplies with liquefied natural gas delivered by tanker from the U.S., where production of the fuel skyrocketed last year. So far, those shipments have failed to materialize amid a lack of firm contracts and higher prices outside Europe. Overall, LNG shipments to the region, led by Qatar, were stagnant last year.
“Russia will for sure remain Europe’s largest gas supplier for at least two more decades,” even if most of the incremental gains in EU imports are met by LNG from somewhere else, said Vladimir Drebentsov, chief economist for Russia and CIS at BP in Moscow.
But the arrangement fell through before Trump took office, with Steele ultimately pulling out, a source told NBC News.
Steele apparently got fed up after feeling the U.S. government was not taking his findings seriously — especially after FBI Director James Comey went public with an ultimately fruitless second probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Meanwhile, Comey never disclosed the investigation into Trump.
Moscow and Ankara continued with talks on delivering the S-400 missile system to Turkey, Russia’s deputy defense minister said on Tuesday.
“The talks are still continuing. The delivery is only possible if an agreement is reached and there is no agreement so far,” Alexander Fomin told reporters in comments reported by Russian news agency TASS.
Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Feb. 22 President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin would handle the issue during a High-Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) meeting expected between March 8 and 9 in Moscow.
Iraq To Be Removed From US Travel Ban List In New Immigration Order: Officials
Why airplane parts from Miami to Syria just got a company in trouble
An international electronics trading company with its U.S. office in downtown Miami sits at the center of a federal indictment alleging violations of the Syrian trade embargo by exporting airplane equipment with both a civilian and military use.
The indictment accuses 11 people, several of whom work for AW-Tronics, and Syrian Arab Airlines of the violations.
AW, managed in Miami by Arash Caby and in Bulgaria by Ali Caby, took care of the sales and delivery of airplane parts and equipment to Syrian Arab Airlines. Meanwhile, the indictment alleges, AW’s compliance officer Marjan Caby, helped keep the deal wheels moving by falsifying government documents about the shipments to the airline.
Iran test-fires smart torpedo in grand finale of massive naval drills
Tuesday marked the last day of the Velayat 95 naval exercises across an area of 2 million sq. km – covering the Strait of Hormuz, Sea of Oman and the northern part of the Indian Ocean.
The grand finale of the drills, which have been underway since early February and entered their final phase Sunday, showcased the successful use of Valfajr torpedo system.
Footage released by the Iranian Navy showed the torpedo being fired from a submarine before hitting and blowing up a target ship in Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.
Russia tries to salvage Syria peace bid as Iran dispute flares
“Things aren’t going as smoothly as we would want” in the Geneva talks, President Vladimir Putin told reporters Tuesday during a visit to Kyrgyzstan.
Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov met the Syrian government delegation head, Bashar Jaafari, in Geneva, where the United Nations is holding the first round of Syria negotiations in almost a year. Russian officials later in the day will meet the main Syrian opposition group, the Western-backed High Negotiations Committee. It’s demanding that Russia press President Bashar Assad and his other chief ally, Iran, to observe a cease-fire and discuss steps for a political transition.
“Iran never wants any solution in Syria, the way they act on the ground shows that they want this war to continue,” the HNC’s chief spokesman, Salem al-Muslet, said in an interview in the Swiss city. “Hopefully, the Russians will understand that there is a partner that does not want any political transition and they will put pressure on the regime to start the negotiations.”
Turkey, Syrian rebels attack U.S.-allied militia : militia official
The Turkish army and allied Syrian rebels attacked villages held by U.S.-allied militias near the city of Manbij in northern Syria on Wednesday, a spokesman for the militias said, an escalation of Turkey’s military campaign in the border area.
There was no immediate comment from Turkey, which is waging its “Euphrates Shield” campaign with Syrian rebels to drive both Islamic State and Kurdish militias away from the frontier.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said this week Manbij was the next target of the campaign following the capture of al-Bab from Islamic State last week.
The new attack focused on a string of villages controlled by the Manbij Military Council, part of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, the spokesman for the Manbij Military Council told Reuters.
“There is a very big attack by the Euphrates Shield and Turkish army on the villages and areas of the Manbij Military Council,” Sharfan Darwish, the spokesman, said. He named eight villages some 27 km (17 miles) west of Manbij. “There are fierce clashes … and heavy artillery bombardment.”
The SDF includes the powerful Kurdish YPG militia, viewed by Turkey as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey.
The editor-in-chief of Turkey’s flagship daily newspaper Hurriyet has been dismissed from his role days after the paper published a news article, titled “Unease at the military headquarters”.
According to Turkish media reports, the headline angered President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish government, leading to the removal of Sedat Ergin, Hurriyet’s veteran editor.
Ergin, a journalist and political commentator, was appointed as the editor-in-chief of Hurriyet in August 2014.Saturday’s news story, filed by Hurriyet’s Ankara bureau chief Hande Firat, was focusing on how the General Staff, the highest military body in the country, evaluated the criticism and speculation directed at the Turkish armed forces following last year’s failed coup attempt.
Russia and UK hold high-level military talks in Moscow
Moscow (AFP) – Senior Russian and British military officials held rare talks in Moscow on Tuesday aimed at avoiding clashes and lowering tensions that have spiked to their highest levels since the Cold War.
Russia’s deputy chief of staff Alexander Zhuravlyov and his British counterpart, vice chief of staff Gordon Messenger, “discussed the state and prospects for re-establishing military cooperation”, the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.
Ties between Russia and Britain have frayed in the wake of Moscow’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine and its military intervention in Syria.
The statement said the talks focused on “possible steps to lower tensions, develop mutual trust and prevent incidents during military activities”.
North Korea accuses South Korea and US of murdering its citizen
Yonhap, the largest news agency in South Korea, reported that the deceased was not acknowledged as the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
In a dispatch from Pyongyang, the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the person murdered was a North Korean named ‘Kim Chol’ who carried a diplomatic passport.
“The cause of his death has not yet been clearly identified, but the US and the South Korean authorities are groundlessly blaming the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) by asserting that he was intoxicated by the highly poisonous VX nerve substance,” the KCNA report said.
The state news agency then accused the US or South Korea of using the nerve agent to kill the North Korean.
“Almost all countries have scrapped chemical weapons under the convention on ban on chemical weapons, but only the US and some other countries still possess the said substance,” said KNCA in its report.