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Thu, 23rd February 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “barack obama” Tag

Russia: “The New American Leaders Are Repeating Obama’s Mistakes”

The Trump-Putin honeymoon continues to chill… that is if Trump’s top foreign policy advisors speak for the president, which remains very much unclear.

As discussed yesterday, in the clearest sign yet that when it comes to diplomacy with Russia, there are two clear axes developing within the Trump administration: a Pence/Mattis/Haley foreign policy and a Trump/Bannon/Miller foreign policy, Vice President Mike Pence told the crowd at the Munich Security Conference that he would “hold Russia accountable” even as he vowed “unwavering support” for NATO. This prompted the following interesting scene moments later, as recounted by Bloomberg.

 Shortly after Vice President Mike Pence pledged to “hold Russia to account” while looking for common ground in a speech to European allies, a hawkish Russian legislator reached out to shake his hand as he passed through a crowded hotel corridor.

“Mr. Vice President, I am from Moscow and we hope we will reach those arrangements you were talking about,” said Alexei Pushkov, a member of the defense committee in the upper chamber of the Russian parliament. He enthusiastically told reporters afterward that he saw the Vice President’s smile as a good sign.

Trump lashes out at federal judge’s order to block travel ban

U.S. President Donald Trump criticized on Saturday the action of a federal judge in Seattle blocking Trump’s executive order banning anyone from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States, calling it “ridiculous” and vowing to overturn it.

Trump said on Twitter, “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned.”

 The bench order to lift the travel restriction was issued Friday. It suspends the executive order that Trump signed, banning travelers from the seven countries from entering the United States for 90 days, and refugees for 120 days, triggering a wave of protests across the United States.

Nearly 60,000 people had their U.S. visas cancelled due to the travel ban, the State Department said Friday.

The people will continue to be affected while the U.S. government reviews its screening process for admitting travelers from Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and Libya and refugees from any country, the department said.

Obama Makes First Statement Since Leaving White House, Supports Protests Against Trump Policy

It took Obama ten days since he departed the White House one final time to break his promise that he would “stay on the sidelines” regarding Trump’s policies…

… and in his first public statement, the former president the charge that the Trump administration had based his immigration executive order on a policy adopted by his own administration, and endorsed the protests that have been taking place across the country in response to the new restrictions.

Kevin Lewis, Obama’s spokesman, said rejected Trump’s insistence that the decision to temporarily halt refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries and stop all Syrian refugee resettlement in America is similar to a 2011 decision by Obama. “With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”

As a reminder, over the past 24 hours, Trump has compared his actions to Obama’s 2011 moves to restrict entries from Iraq after two Iraqis were arrested in Kentucky on terrorism charges.

Former Obama administration officials have denied that there was ever a halt to the awarding of visas to Iraqis, though the processing of these applications slowed after they were subject to more intense scrutiny.

Obama’s decision to step back into the public light comes just 10 days after he left office. He joins the chorus of Democrats and mostly tech CEOs criticizing Trump for his decision to temporarily halt refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries and stop all Syrian refugee resettlement in America.

First Big Shock For Wall Street: Republicans Warn No Trump Tax Reform Until Spring 2018

When it comes to Wall Street, Trump can launch martial law, suspend habeas corpus and/or use the Constitution for kindling and the market could care less as stocks will still go up. However, threaten some of Trump’s core economic stimulus projects like infrastructure spending (i.e., more public debt to fund corporate bottom lines) or tax reform (even more public debt flowing through to EPS), and suddenly stocks will pay very close attention.

It now appears that this particular “worst case” for stocks may be playing out. As we cautioned in our previous post looking at the impact of Trump tax reform on corporate earnings, the biggest risk for the controversial president is that “at this rate Trump may spend much of his first year dealing with immigration reform and Obamacare.”

However, as Paul Ryan warned last week during the Republicans’ outing in Philadelphia, Trump’s “#1 priority”, repealing and replacing Obamacare may not take place for several months. To wit: 

House Speaker Paul Ryan told House and Senate Republicans that lawmakers likely won’t repeal and replace Obamacare until March or April. Speaking in the first major session of GOP lawmakers’ joint retreat in the City of Brotherly Love, Ryan said Wednesday that the health care law wouldn’t be repealed and subsequently replaced until spring.

“What we heard today was Obamacare is front and center,” Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., told reporters, referring to the first session of the retreat, which outlined President Donald Trump’s first 200 days in office, or the “200 Day Plan.”  “Repeal and replace,” Collins added. “The word was by the springtime.”

“This Is Not A Muslim Ban” – President Explins Policy Is Continuation Of Obama’s 2011 Iraqi Refugee Ban

Update: The White House has just released a statement confirming this is similar to President Obama’s plan…

President Donald J. Trump Statement Regarding Recent Executive Order Concerning Extreme Vetting

“America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave. We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say.

My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.

The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror.

To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days. I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria. My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering.”

As we detailed earlier, a president who chooses to ban immigrant refugees from majority-Muslim nations on the basis of national security and fears over terrorism is – according to the mainstream media and 1000s of Americans at various protests today – a vicious, soul-less, fascist, Islamophobic racist, and as bad as hitler (we are paraphrasing).

Trump To Sign Executive Order Restricting Immigration From Seven Muslim Countries

Having taken on the Keystone pipeline and America’s struggling manufacturing sector in a flurry of executive actions on Tuesday, moments ago Reuters reported, citing several congressional aides and immigration experts briefed on the matter, that on Wednesday Donald Trump will sign several executive orders restricting immigration. The president is expected to sign the orders at the Washington headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security, whose responsibilities include immigration and border security.

Trump’s orders are said to involve restricting access to the United States for refugees and some visa holders from seven mostly Muslim nations including Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Additionally, Trump’s restrictions on refugees are likely to include a multi-month ban on admissions from all countries until the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security can increase the intensity of the vetting process.

During his presidential campaign, Trump initially proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States to protect Americans from jihadist attacks. Many Trump supporters decried Democratic President Barack Obama’s decision to increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States over fears that those fleeing the country’s civil war would carry out attacks. However, since then both Trump and his nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, have said they would focus the restrictions on countries whose emigres could pose a threat rather than placing a ban on people who follow a specific religion.

As Reuters adds, to block entry from the designated countries, Trump is likely to instruct the U.S. State Department to stop issuing visas to people from those nations, according to sources familiar with the visa process. He could also instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to stop any current visa holders from those countries from entering the United States. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that the State and Homeland Security departments would work on the vetting process once Trump’s nominee to head the State Department, Rex Tillerson, is installed.

Volkswagen confirms $4.3bn US settlement over diesel emissions

Volkswagen AG confirmed on Tuesday it has negotiated a $4.3 billion draft settlement with U.S. regulators to resolve its diesel emissions troubles and plans to plead guilty to criminal misconduct.

The guilty plea is part of the civil and criminal deal as the automaker looks to restore its tarnished global brand. Volkswagen said with the addition of the fine, its diesel costs will exceed the nearly 18.2 billion euros ($19.2 billion) it has set aside to handle the problem. VW also said it will face oversight by an independent monitor over the next three years.

 Reuters reported earlier the company’s supervisory board is set to meet on Wednesday to approve a civil and criminal settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over the automaker’s diesel emissions. VW said the supervisory board and the management board would meet Tuesday or possibly Wednesday to approve the deal.

VW is expected to plead guilty as part of the settlement as early as Wednesday, a source familiar with matter said. The plea deal will need the approval of a U.S. judge.

Evercore ISI said in a research note it believes the “settlement is intended to draw a line under all remaining U.S. related legal risk. This is good news.”

VW had raced to get a deal done before President Barack Obama leaves office on Jan. 20. A change in administration could have delayed a final settlement for months if not longer.

IAEA Chief Says Iran Remains Committed to Nuclear Deal

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, right, welcomes the International Atomic Energy Agency's director-general, Yukiya Amano, as they pose for photos at the start of their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, July 2, 2015The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran has shown commitment to its end of the nuclear deal struck last year while visiting Tehran December 18.

Iran has complained about the US extending a sanctions package for another decade. The US says these sanctions are unrelated to the deal; Iran disagrees.

“We are satisfied with the implementation of the [nuclear agreement] and hope that this process will continue,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told the press in the Iranian capital, Reuters reports, citing the IRNA news agency.

“Iran has been committed to its engagement so far and this is important,” he said. Amano was in Tehran to meet head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi. After the White House said earlier this week that the sanctions bill would become law even without President Barack Obama’s signature, Iran requested a meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) commission to discuss the situation and ordered its scientists to start developing nuclear systems to power ships.  Salehi presented the maritime nuclear propulsion project to Amano and said the country would provide more details on it in three months, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). The initial outline did include what is so far the most controversial issue of the project: the level of uranium-enrichment powering the ships will require.

China will give back seized drone, criticises U.S. “hyping up” the issue

China’s Defence Ministry said on Saturday it had been in talks with the United States about returning an underwater drone taken by a Chinese naval vessel in the South China Sea, but the U.S. was not helping by “hyping up” the issue.

The drone was taken on Thursday, the first seizure of its kind in recent memory, about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay off the Philippines, just as the USNS Bowditch was about to retrieve the unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), U.S. officials said.

The Defence Ministry said a Chinese naval vessel discovered a piece of “unidentified equipment” and checked it to prevent any navigational safety issues, before discovering it was a U.S. drone.

“China decided to return it to the U.S. side in an appropriate manner, and China and the U.S. have all along been in communication about it,” the ministry said on its website.

“During this process, the U.S. side’s unilateral and open hyping up is inappropriate, and is not beneficial to the smooth resolution of this issue. We express regret at this,” it added.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump weighed in to the row on Saturday, tweeting: “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act.”

Without directly saying whether the drone was operating in waters China considers its own, the ministry said U.S. ships and aircraft have for a long period been carrying out surveillance and surveys in “the presence” of Chinese waters.

“China is resolutely opposed to this, and demands the U.S. stops this kind of activity,” it said.

China will remain on alert for these sorts of activities and take necessary steps to deal with them, the ministry said without elaborating.

Earlier, the Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, cited an unidentified Chinese source as saying they believed the issue would be resolved smoothly.

The United States says the drone was operating lawfully.

Iran Warns Of “World War, The Destruction Of Israel”, If Trump Tears Up Nuclear Pact

Ten days ago, we reported that as a result of Obama’s vow to extend the Iran Sanctions Act for another 10 years, Iran threatened to retaliate, saying it violated last year’s deal with six major powers that curbed its nuclear program.

While US officials said the ISA’s renewal would not infringe on Obama’s landmark nuclear agreement (which may or may not be voided by Trump), and under which Iran agreed to limit its sensitive atomic activity in return for the lifting of international financial sanctions that harmed its oil-based economy, senior Iranian officials took odds with that view. Iran’s nuclear energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, who played a central role in reaching the nuclear deal, described the extension as a “clear violation” if implemented.

“We are closely monitoring developments,” state TV quoted Salehi as saying. “If they implement the ISA, Iran will take action accordingly.” Iran’s most powerful authority, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned in November that an extension of U.S. sanction would be viewed in Tehran as a violation of the nuclear accord.

To be sure, that was merely jawboning by Iran, which has far less leverage and far more to lose if it antagonizes Washington and provokes the US into reimposing sanctions upon the Gulf nation, amounting to the tune of over 1 million barrels per day in foregone oil exports that would be taken offline, should the US impose similar sanctions as those which took the country’s crude export production largely offline in the 2013-2015 timeframe.

It is also the lesser of Iran’s worries: a far bigger concern is whether Trump will tear up Obama’s landmark nuclear agreement.