Archives 11th August 2017

‘A Large 6.6 magnitude earthquake has rocked the Luzon island in the Philippines, with the tremor being felt in the capital Manila.

The official residence of the President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang Palace, has been evacuated after the tremor.

The earthquake stuck at 6.28am BST (1.28pm local time) and was centred near the Lubang islands, 74 miles west of Batangas, 93 miles south west of Manila.

The quake struck about 99 miles below the surface, making it a relatively deep earthquake.

Along with the presidential palace, the Foreign Affairs department, the Supreme Court, the university and the Red Cross building were also evacuated.

Aftershocks are expected.’

Read more: Huge 6.6 magnitude earthquake rocks Philippines – president’s palace evacuated

‘China will intervene if America attacks North Korea first, according to a state-owner paper, and will only stay neutral if Kim Jong-un attacks the US first.

An editorial in the Global Times, warned that ‘China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral.

‘If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.’

The warning comes amid escalating tensions between the US and North Korea.

Pyongyang has warned it plans to launch a nuclear strike on Guam after President Trump announced that any more threats against the US would be met with ‘fire and fury’.

Pentagon chief James Mattis issued his own warning among the increasingly aggressive rhetoric, telling Kim Jong-un that he risks destroying his regime and his people if he attacks.’

Read more: China will NOT intervene if Kim Jong-un attacks America, but will step in to prevent a strike aimed at North Korea if Trump moves first, Chinese state media warns

‘Britain, America’s top European ally, could formally refuse Donald Trump’s call for help in waging war against North Korea, so long as Kim Jong-un does not strike Hawaii or the US mainland.

Britain’s membership of NATO does not automatically oblige it to participate in a conflict between Trump’s America and Kim’s North Korea, even if the latter attacks US military bases in the Pacific.

Although Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty states that an attack on one NATO member is an act of aggression against the entire military alliance, the application of this provision is limited only to attacks on member states’ territories in North America, Europe and the Atlantic.

Consequently, if Kim’s warheads strike US military bases in the Pacific, the US could ask for Britain’s assistance, but cannot formally compel the UK and other NATO allies to join the military efforts against North Korea.’

Read more: Could Britain avoid being dragged into a North Korean war?

‘The American military is ready with a plan to strike North Korean missile sites in a preemptive attack if Donald Trump decides to do so.

The plan involves flying a B-1B heavy bomber from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam accompanied by satellites, drones, higher jets, and aerial refuelling warplanes. Training for the mission has been ongoing, and there have been 11 practice runs for a similar mission since May when the training was accelerated.

“Of the military options … [President Trump] could consider, this would be one of the two or three that would at least have the possibility of not escalating the situation,” retired Admiral James Stavridis, the former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told NBC.’

Read more: US military plans B-1 Bomber strike on North Korea missile sites

‘Senator John McCain has blasted President Donald Trump over a lack of strategy in America’s 17-year war in Afghanistan, and filed his own plan for the Senate to vote on. It involves more troops, more bombing and an enduring US presence in the country.

“Now, nearly seven months into President Trump’s administration, we’ve had no strategy at all as conditions on the ground have steadily worsened,” McCain, who is the chairman of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, said in a statement Thursday. “The thousands of Americans putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan deserve better from their commander-in-chief.”

“We must face facts: We are losing in Afghanistan and time is of the essence if we intend to turn the tide,” he said.

McCain has filed his plan to win the war as a proposed amendment to the annual defense bill. The strategy calls for beefing up the number of US troops in Afghanistan, “significantly” increasing the use of US air power there, as well as getting rid of current withdrawal timelines placed on the military, according to a released copy of the legislation.’

Read more: McCain slams Trump over Afghanistan, unveils his strategy to win war

‘US President Donald Trump on Thursday declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency and said his administration was drafting papers to make it official.

“The opioid crisis is an emergency and I’m saying officially right now it is an emergency,” Trump told reporters in New Jersey. “We’re going to draw it up and we’re going to make it a national emergency. It is a serious problem, the likes of which we have never had.”

Trump spoke about a week after a White House commission on the opioid crisis led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recommended the president declare it a national emergency.

The declaration could help unlock more support and resources to address the drug overdose epidemic, such as additional funding and expanded access to various forms of treatment, and it gives the government more flexibility in waiving rules and restrictions to expedite action.’

Read more: Donald Trump declares national emergency on opioid abuse


The CIA & the Drug Trade

‘A controversial memo penned by a former National Security Council staffer has been released. The document states, among other accusations, that the “deep state” is trying to undermine President Donald Trump.

A copy of the “POTUS & Political Warfare” memorandum, dated May 2017, was published by Foreign Policy on Thursday.

Rich Higgins, who served as the director of strategic planning for the NSC, was the author of the seven-page memorandum. He resigned from the NSC in July after National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster discovered he was behind the memo.

Although it does not mention McMaster’s name specifically, the NSC chief is purportedly one of the people described in the memo as trying to restrain Trump, an unnamed source with first hand knowledge of the memo and events, said, according to Foreign Policy.

“The administration has been maneuvered into a constant back-pedal by relentless political warfare attacks structured to force him to assume a reactive posture that assures inadequate responses,” the memo stated.

“Having become the dominant cultural meme, some benefit from it while others are captured by it; including ‘deep state’ actors, globalists, bankers, Islamists, and establishment Republicans,” the document reads.’

Read more: ‘Deep state’ memo that rattled McMaster’s National Security Council finally released

‘When Qatar’s Al Jazeera satellite channel has both the Saudis and the Israelis demanding its closure, it must be doing something right. To bring Saudi head-choppers and Israeli occupiers into alliance is, after all, something of an achievement.

But don’t get too romantic about this. When the wealthiest Saudis fall ill, they have been known to fly into Tel Aviv on their private jets for treatment in Israel’s finest hospitals. And when Saudi and Israeli fighter-bombers take to the air, you can be sure they’re going to bomb Shiites – in Yemen or Syria respectively – rather than Sunnis.

And when King Salman – or rather Saudi Arabia’s whizz-kid Crown Prince Mohammad – points the finger at Iran as the greatest threat to Gulf security, you can be sure that Bibi Netanyahu will be doing exactly and precisely the same thing, replacing “Gulf security”, of course, with “Israeli security”. But it’s an odd business when the Saudis set the pace of media suppression only to be supported by that beacon of freedom, democracy, human rights and liberty known in song and legend as Israel, or the State of Israel or, as Bibi and his cabinet chums would have it, the Jewish State of Israel.’

Read more: If you’re wondering why Saudi Arabia and Israel have united against Al-Jazeera, here’s the answer

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