“WASHINGTON — President Trump has fired the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, the White House said on Tuesday.
Mr. Comey is leading an investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,” Mr. Trump said in a letter dated Tuesday to Mr. Comey.
“It is essential that we find new leadership for the F.B.I. that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission,” Mr. Trump wrote.”
“President Trump abruptly fired embattled FBI Director James Comey late Tuesday afternoon for mishandling the feds’ probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, a top Justice Department official said.
“The FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice,’’ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote in a memo explaining Comey’s dismissal. “I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.’’
Trump also issued a statement, saying the FBI needed fresh leadership.
“The FBI is one of our nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” Trump said in a statement.
Trump acted based on the recommendations of both Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who also slammed Comey in a memo released by the White House.
“I have concluded that a fresh start is needed at the leadership of the FBI,’’ Sessions wrote. “I must recommend that you remove Director James B. Comey, Jr. and identify an experienced and qualified individual to lead the great men and women of the FBI.’’
The president also sent a letter breaking the news to Comey, who headed the agency as it was investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and administration to Russia, a probe that remains ongoing.
“I received the attached letters from the attorney general and deputy attorney general recommending your dismissal as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office effective immediately,” Trump wrote.”
China Threatens To Bomb North Korea’s Nuclear Facilities If It Crosses Beijing’s “Bottom Line”
“With everyone putting down new and/or revised “red lines”, be it on Syria or North Korea, it was now China’s turn to reveal its “red” or rather “bottom line”, and in a harshly worded editorial titled “The United States Must Not Choose a Wrong Direction to Break the DPRK Nuclear Deadlock on Wednesday” Beijing warned it would attack North Korea’s facilities producing nuclear bombs, effectively engaging in an act of war, if North Korea crosses China’s “bottom line.”
The editorial in the military-focused Global Times tabloid, owned and operated by the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper, said that North Korea’s nuclear activities must not jeopardize northeastern China, and that if the North impacts China with its illicit nuclear tests through either “nuclear leakage or pollution”, then China will respond with force.
“China has a bottom line that it will protect at all costs, that is, the security and stability of northeast China… If the bottom line is touched, China will employ all means available including the military means to strike back. By that time, it is not an issue of discussion whether China acquiesces in the US’ blows, but the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will launch attacks to DPRK nuclear facilities on its own.”
This, as the editorial puts it, is the “bottom line” for China; should it be crossed China will employ all means available including the military means to strike back,” warned the editorial.
It is worth noting is that shortly after publication, the article seems to have been retracted without explanation, the URL now returning a “404” error. However not before the original article was cached on a webpage owned by China Military, courtesy of google.
In the editorial, the author also declared that the “People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will launch attacks to DPRK nuclear facilities on its own. A strike to nuclear facilities of the DPRK is the best military means in the opinion of the outside world.” The northeastern Chinese provinces of Liaoning and Jilin share borders with North Korea. These two provinces and Heilongjiang are part of the Shenyang Military Region, one of seven military regions of the People’s Liberation Army.
The editorial also explained the advantages to the world of a Chinese attack on North Korea’s nuclear facilities.
It noted China and the world know the locations of North Korea’s nuclear facilities. Once the PLA attacks these nuclear sites, North Korea will permanently suspend its nuclear weapons programs. North Korea “has limited resources of nuclear materials and is strictly blockaded in the outside world, erasing the possibility for DPRK to get the materials again.”
China also noted that “nuclear weapons is DPRK’s trump card for its defiance of China and the United States. Once this card is lost, it will become obedient immediately.”
The author then speculated rhetorically that if North Korea’s “nuclear facilities are destroyed, they will not even fight back, but probably block the news to fool its domestic people. The DPRK will freak out if its nuclear facilities are destroyed.” And yes, a Chinese author said “freak out.”
The report also said that “the DPRK must not fall into the turmoil to send a large number of refugees, it is not allowed to have a government that is hostile against China on the other side of the Yalu River, and the US military must not push forward its forces to the Yalu River.” It notes that “this sentence is meant for the United States, because the premise of it is that the US military has launched attacks to the DPRK.”
US deploys THAAD missile defence, special operatives that took out Osama bin Laden to North Korea
“The crack US Navy Seal team that took out Osama bin Laden is reportedly in training in South Korea, conducting “field training operations”, amid rising tension with North Korea.
South Korean media claims the famed Seal Team 6 — which killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011 — is part of the Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercise being carried out from March 7 to April 30 in South Korea.
While US military would not confirm the reports, it said “ground, air, naval and special operations” are taking part in “several joint and combined field training operations” which involve up to 17,000 troops.
The special operations teams are thought to also include the Army Rangers, Delta Force and Green Berets. The training commenced one day after US deployed its state of the art THAAD missile defence system to the region.
South Korea’s JoongAng Daily has claimed the teams would take part in a drill to simulate the removal of Kim Jong-un — a move denied by Former US Navy Commander Gary Ross.
Asked about the Navy team’s participation in March, Commander Ross said: “There are variety of Special Operations Forces (SOF) participating in Foal Eagle, as they do in most regional exercises.”
“Foal Eagle is a regularly-scheduled, annual exercise that is the culmination of many months of planning and it is not being conducted in response to the current situation on peninsula,” he said.
KEY LINE OF DEFENCE
The training began the day after the US deployed their mobile THAAD missile defence system to South Korea that is becoming increasingly important as tensions mount with Pyongyang.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) is a “hit to kill” system that provides capability to intercept and defend population centres around the world. Makers Lockheed Martin claim it has a 100 per cent success rate and describe it as “one of the most advanced missile defence systems in the world.”
‘Ban Cars to Stop Terror’ Says Sweden’s Best-Selling Newspaper After Stockholm Attack
“Cars and other vehicles “have turned into deadly weapons”, and should be banished from cities to stop attacks like the one in Stockholm from happening in future, according to Aftonbladet editorialist Eva Franchell.
Crackdowns on immigration or extremist ideology are not the way forward when it comes to terror prevention, according to the veteran journalist, writing after Friday’s terror attack in Stockholm left four people dead.
Instead, it is cars — which she calls “effective murder machines” — that Franchell says “must simply be removed from city centres and places where people gather, if people are to be protected in future”.
Vehicles are “easy to steal, and so nothing has been able to stop their advance”, writes Ms. Franchell.
“It just isn’t reasonable that a big truck can be driven right into one of Stockholm’s busiest streets on a Friday afternoon right before Easter.”
Noting how it is a popular destination for tourists, Franchell says the city centre must be a “safe environment” for visitors to enjoy. She described it as “remarkable” that it is possible to drive around the Swedish capital’s medieval old town.
Outlining her vision for a car-free Stockholm, she argues: “Most problems with regards to mobility and public transport can be solved, and deliveries to shops and restaurants could take place at times when people aren’t out on the streets.”
“Vehicles have been allowed to dominate our cities for decades and it’s the people who need space. It’s vital now that cars be regulated,” the piece concludes.
The idea of reducing the number of cars in Swedish cities was backed last month by Sweden’s environment minister, who argued that driving is a gender equality issue as well as a matter of shrinking the nation’s carbon emissions.
“Cars are driven largely by men so by giving a lot of space to cars; we’re giving a lot of space to men — at the expense of women,” Karolina Skog explained.”
US unleashes dozens of missiles on Syria in response to chemical attack
| NY Post
“The US fired a more than 50 cruise missiles at Syrian air fields Thursday night in response to the Assad regime’s devastating gas attacks against civilians earlier this week.
President Donald Trump authorized the strikes on two airfields in the Western part of the country that had apparently been used to launch the deadly gas attacks.
Speaking from his resort in Florida, Trump said the attack was in the nation’s “vital national security interest” and that the US must “prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.
Trump added that there is “no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons.”
About 60 tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from a number of warships stationed in the Mediterranean Sea.
Trump had been critical of the idea of taking military action in the region, but reportedly changed his mind this week when confronted with the graphic evidence of Syrian children who were victims of the deadly attack by an apparent nerve agent.”
Military.com|7 Apr 2017|by Richard Sisk and Oriana Pawlyk
“On President Donald Trump’s order, U.S. warships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on Thursday launched salvos of Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base in response to the deadly chemical attack on civilians in northwestern part of the country, the Pentagon said.
Some 59 missiles were launched from the Navy‘s Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Porter (DDG-78) and USS Ross (DDG-71), a defense official said in a background briefing with reporters Thursday night at the Pentagon.
“Dozens of cruise missiles were launched,” the official said.
A subsequent email from the Pentagon said the strike occurred around 4:40 a.m. April 7 (local time) at the Shayrat airfield in central Syria and targeted supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars.
The attack marked the first U.S. military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been supported by Russia.
“Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children … No child of God should ever suffer such horror,” Trump said in a statement. “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
Trump, who was meeting Thursday with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the U.S. president’s estate in Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, gave the order after a briefing earlier in the day with Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.
Earlier, Trump had indicated that he was leaning towards a military response to the suspected nerve agent attack on Tuesday in northwestern Idlib province that killed at least 70, according to human rights and aid groups.
The Force Management Levels, or limits, on U.S. military personnel set by the Obama administration currently stand at 503 for Syria and 5,262 Iraq. However, those numbers do not include troops on so-called “temporary assignment.”
Currently in Syria, a small contingent of Army Rangers and Stryker combat vehicles is in the northeastern town of Manbij temporarily to discourage any attempt to take the town by a combined Syrian and Russian force on the outskirts.
In addition, about 200 Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, also on temporary assignment, are near the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa to set up an firing base for M777 howitzers.
In Iraq, about 200 troops from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division recently were sent to northeastern Iraq to support the train, advise and assist mission of U.S. troops with the Iraqi Security Forces battling to retake Mosul.
U.S. troops on the ground in Syria have ready access to chemical weapons protective suits but were not wearing them as a precaution following the suspected Syrian air force nerve gas attack, a U.S. military spokesman said Thursday.
“All forces have access to chemical gear” in Syria and in Iraq, Army Col. Joseph Scrocca said in fielding questions on the impact for U.S. troops of Trump’s statements suggesting that the U.S. might take action. “None of our forces currently are wearing them.”
Donald Trump launches US air strikes against Assad regime in Syria with 59 Tomahawk missiles as military intervention begins
| Telegraph UK
“Retired General John Allen, the US envoy to the anti-Isil coalition under Barack Obama, has told Ruth Sherlock that the missile attack is intended to punish but not defeat Assad – and that this will not damage America’s relationship with Russia.
Gen Allen said that this is a relatively small target. “The damage to Assad is psychological more than physical,” he said.
“It will be stunning to Assad” that America has acted in this way, and “he will now have to think carefully every time” time he wants to launch attacks on his civilian population, Gen Allen said.”
– Jim Acosta’s question was about the 1st amendment. Here is the text of the first amendment:
Freedoms, Petitions, Assembly
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
– Question: How is criticism by any U.S. citizen of the press, prohibiting the free exercise thereof? / CJ