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Wed, 23rd August 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “bill clinton” Tag

Pyongyang missile footage is a dagger to Xi’s throat

Once touted as a “friendship cemented in blood,” the relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have deteriorated to new lows — perhaps to a point from which they cannot be salvaged.

The roots of mistrust stem back to the execution of Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, in 2013, and the rift has intensified as the relationship was intertwined with the power struggles on the Chinese side.

 “Our new ballistic missile can strike anywhere in China.” The words of a North Korean top official spoken at a recent internal gathering have traveled across the border and reached the ears of Chinese side.

While the world frets over North Korea’s threat to target the waters around the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, home to the Andersen Air Force Base, the fact that the whole of China now falls in Pyongyang’s crosshairs is a consequential piece of the puzzle.

Unexpected footage

On May 21, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un witnessed the launch of a Pukguksong-2 solid-fuel, medium-range ballistic missile from Pukchang in the country’s South Pyongan Province.

The newly developed missile was equipped with a small camera to capture in-flight footage. With great fanfare, the state-run Korean Central Television released an extended video of the flight the following day.

Bizarrely, while the missile was heading east towards the Sea of Japan, the footage focused on the west, back towards Chinese territory for an unusually long time, according to military experts.

“You can clearly see the Liaodong Peninsula, where Dalian and Lushun are located, ” one expert on Korea explained. “Towards the west of the peninsula is the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea is to the south. The footage would have also shown the capital Beijing if not for thick clouds.” Despite the clouds, the message was clear.

“Kim Jong Un is threatening Xi Jinping,” the same source said. “The intercontinental ballistic missiles Hwasong-12 and 14 are designed to target the U.S., but the medium-range Pukguksong-2 is meant for ranges that include Beijing.” Kim has apparently ordered mass production of the Pukguksongs.

 From a technological perspective, North Korea launching a precise, targeted strike on a mainland U.S. target remains extremely difficult. Targeting Beijing or Shanghai accurately is not.

A separate source said that Kim Jong Un considers possessing a nuclear weapon would enable North Korea to avoid becoming a semi-colony of China. Despite sanctions, North Korea depends heavily on China for oil and many other goods. The country’s markets are awash with Chinese-made products.

“With nuclear weapons and various ballistic missiles, North Korea can speak to China on an equal footing, even if it cannot compete economically,” the source explained.

Ultimately, by establishing diplomatic relations with the U.S., Pyongyang could be free from its dependence on China.

A photo published in the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Workers’ Party of Korea, on July 29, shows Kim Jong Un celebrating the launch of a Hwasong-14 missile. © KCNA/Kyodo

Financial Times: “America Is Now A Dangerous Nation”

The Financial Times reminds readers of something that has occurred numerous times throughout history when leaders lose the support of their people… “The president may exploit an overseas conflict to distract from problems at home…”

Authored by Gideon Rachman via FT.com,

The claim that America is a “threat to world peace” has been a staple of Russian and Iranian propaganda for many years. For believers in the western alliance, it is painful to acknowledge that there is now some truth to this idea. Under Donald Trump, America looks like a dangerous nation. Over the past week, Mr Trump has indulged in nuclear brinkmanship in North Korea, issued vague threats of military action in Venezuela and flirted with white supremacists at home. He is offering the very opposite of the steady, predictable and calm leadership that American allies seek from Washington.

 Mr Trump’s swiftly notorious threats that North Korea risks “fire and fury” from a “locked and loaded” America were particularly irresponsible. Even if the threat is a bluff, it puts American credibility on the line and risks triggering escalation from the Kim Jong Un regime, which is threatening to fire missiles near the US territory of Guam. Even more alarming, the Trump administration is openly flirting with the idea of a pre-emptive strike on North Korea — arguing that a nuclear-armed Mr Kim cannot be deterred. But if America could rely on deterrence to contain the nuclear threat from Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China — it can certainly do the same with Mr Kim’s North Korea. All previous presidents have rejected the idea of pre-emptive attacks on nuclear-armed states — for obvious reasons.

“There Are No Good Klansmen” – Democratic Lawmaker Unveils Plan To Impeach Trump

We’re surprised it’s taken this long. As the national outpouring of disgust following President Donald Trump’s response to last weekend’s attack in Charlottesville, Va. continues, at least one Democratic lawmaker is calling for Trump to be removed from office.

Claiming that Trump has failed to provide “moral leadership,” Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen told the Hill that he plans to introduce articles of impeachment against the president in defiance of the Democratic leadership, who worry that unsuccessful attempts to remove the president will make party look weak.

Donald Trump abandons plans for council on infrastructure

Donald Trump has decided to abandon plans for a third business council.

The White House on Thursday announced that it would not go ahead with a planned Infrastructure Council that would have advised the president on how best to deliver the $1tn he promised to invest in roads, bridges and other vital public works projects during last year’s campaign.

“The President has announced the end of the Manufacturing Council and the Strategy & Policy Forum. In addition, the President’s Advisory Council on Infrastructure, which was still being formed, will not move forward,” a White House spokesperson said on Thursday. The disbanding of the council was first reported by Bloomberg.

Dunford: “Military Options” For North Korea Ready If Sanctions Fail

After President Donald Trump warned on Friday that the US military is “locked and loaded” and presumably prepared for an all-out nuclear showdown with North Korea, administration officials engaged in that most artful of Trump-era maneuvers: softening the president’s rhetoric without appearing to undercut him.

Now that financial markets are taking the threat of nuclear war between the US and North Korea seriously – or were until this morning – the administration is trying to walk a fine line between reassuring investors that nuclear war isn’t imminent, while stressing that all military options remain on the table. Echoing comments made by CIA Director Mike Pompeo on the Sunday talk shows, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford emphasized during a meeting with South Korea’s president that the US will only resort to military options once all “diplomatic and economic sanctions” have been exhausted, according to Reuters.

 “U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford said on Monday U.S. military options being prepared against North Korea would be for when diplomatic and economic sanctions failed, South Korea’s president’s office said on Monday.

Dunford made the comments to South Korean President Moon Jae-in in a 50-minute meeting to discuss recent issues including North Korean provocation, office spokesman Park Su-hyun told a media briefing.”


Gen Dunford met President Moon during his tour of the region

Debt Ceiling Deal Doubts Rise – USA Default Risk Hasn’t Done This Since Lehman

The US Treasury Bill market remains notably inverted around the uncertain timing of the US debt limit debacle.

As Bloomberg reports, while Treasury bills maturing in October continue underperforming against November and December securities, the market has a murky view on the drop-dead date for the U.S. debt ceiling.

 At the start of last week, concerns shifted to early October after the Treasury said in its 3Q refunding statement that it expects to be able to fund the govt through the end of September.

Focus then shifted back toward mid-October after the head of the House Freedom Caucus said he is ready to accept a debt ceiling increase without other conditions

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Putin, Trump Will Meet at G-20 Summit

Cars pass by a billboard showing US President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin placed by pro-Serbian movement in the town of Danilovgrad on November 16, 2016US President Donald Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany in July, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster told reporters on Thursday.

“While in Hamburg the President will meet with many world leaders including…President Putin of Russia,” McMaster stated.

It would be an incredible thing to be a fly on the wall during the meeting. Mainstream media outlets have blasted Trump for “colluding” with Russia during the 2016 election campaign. A producer at CNN, one of the biggest media outlets to continuously press Trump-Putin links, recently confessed the narrative was probably “bullsh*t.” 

Van Jones, former adviser to the Obama White House turned CNN analyst, added, “this Russia thing is just a big nothing burger.”

The discussion will not have any particular agenda, McMaster said. “It’s really going to be whatever the president wants to talk about.” 

Tensions between Moscow and Washington have not gotten off to the greatest start in 2017, but Trump will seek a “more constructive” dynamic between the foreign powers, according to the White House. 

Trump speaks on relationship with India

US President Trump met with Prime Minister of India Modi

Comments from Trump now hitting:
  • India has a true friend on the White House
  • Relationship with India has never been stronger, never been better
  • He and Modi are world leaders in social media
  • looks forward to creating a trade relationship with India that is reciprocal
  • Its important that barriers to US trade with India be removed

North Korean Hackers Emerge As “Culprits” Behind Global Malware Cyberattack

Remember when North Korea “hackers” breached several firewall layers at Sony, exposing gigabytes of confidential data, only for it to eventually emerge that it was all the work of a disgruntled Sony employee?

Apparently not, because the same plot line is being re-run all over again.

Two of the world’s largest anti-virus companies said they are “looking into clues” that suggest a North Korea-linked group may be behind last week’s cyberattack. According to Reuters, Symantec and Kaspersky are investigating whether hackers from the Lazarus Group were responsible for infecting an estimated 300,000 machines in 150 countries. The two companies have said that “some code in an earlier version of the WannaCry ransomware had also appeared in programs used by the Lazarus Group, which researchers from many companies said is run by North Korea.”

While we reserve judgment at the amusing possibility that North Korea could have brought a substantial portion of the world’s computer infrastructure to a halt until there is some actual evidence, it is worth noting that said inquiries emerged shortly after the White House said that paying ransom money to unlock files encrypted by the global cyberattack does not work. It was not clear how North Korean hackers planned to convert bitcoin into any practical currency in a nation whose major banks have been barred from SWIFT.

In any case, speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon, Homeland security adviser Tom Bossett told reporters he is not aware of a case where transferring $300 in Bitcoin – the amount demanded from victims of last week’s attack – has “led to any data recovery”. The Trump administration estimated that less than $70,000 has been paid to the criminals behind the ransomware so far.

During the White House briefing, Bossert also said no federal systems in the US had been affected by the malicious software, known as WannaCry. He told reporters that he had spoken with his British counterparts, who said they now had a “feeling of control” after the attack struck 47 NHS organisations.

Obama To Receive $400,000 Speaking Fee At Cantor Fitzgerald Conference

Shortly after Barack Obama delivered his first (free) speech today since leaving the White House in Chicago before an invitation-only crowd of college students, community organizers and other fans, Fox News’ Charlie Gasparino reports that in what may be his first paid speaking arrangement, Obama will be paid $400,000 to speak at Cantor Fitzgerald’s healthcare conference this September, setting the benchmark for how much an hour of the former president’s time will cost going forward.

Obama, who spent years bashing big banks (even if, like Trump, ultimately achieved nothing to halt Wall Street’s dominance) will deliver the keynote address at the organization’s lunch in what will be one of his first paid speeches.

“What sources are telling FOX Business Network is that former President Obama, now less than 100 days out of office, has agreed to a speaking engagement during Cantor Fitzgerald’s healthcare conference in September,” FBN’s Gasparino said. “We understand that he is going to be the keynote speaker for the lunch, and he’s going to receive a fee of $400,000. We should point out that that’s in line with what Hilary Clinton got… we should point out that Cantor will neither confirm or deny.”