Tag Archives: crisis

Blaming shelters and street sleeping, Donald Trump blasts California for homeless crisis

Blaming shelters and street sleeping, Donald Trump blasts California for homeless crisisDonald Trump hands out a conservative prescription to remedy homelessness, blaming shelters and calling for cities to ban sleeping on streets.



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The Attack on Saudi Arabia Is the Crisis Iran Was Waiting For

The Attack on Saudi Arabia Is the Crisis Iran Was Waiting ForA  sophisticated drone and cruise-missile attack on Saudi Arabia’s largest oil-processing facility on Saturday has sent shock waves through the world’s oil markets and leaves the U.S. and allies at a crossroads about how to deal with a growing threat from Iran and its supporters. This is the crisis Iran has been waiting for, with pro-regime media tweeting about the “unprecedented attack” and parroting the threats of Yemen’s Houthi rebels against Saudi oil infrastructure.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said Iran was behind the attack, and U.S. officials have released satellite images and spoken to media about details of the sophisticated assault. The attack showcases Iran’s precision weapons guidance. This is a threat that has been increasing for years. The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act apprised Congress of Iran’s ballistic-missile program and drones. Israel also warned about similar threats in early September, asserting that Iran was transferring precision missile guidance to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran has been boasting about its drone, cruise-missile, and precision munitions since a large drill it undertook in March.However, Tehran has also been stymied in how to employ its arsenal, weighing the responses it wants to give in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran deal, in May 2018. For a year Iran used its good-cop, bad-cop routine, threatening to walk away from provisions of the deal if European and other countries didn’t work to get around Washington’s sanctions. But in May Tehran changed tactics. As sanctions took a bite, Tehran intimated that if Iran couldn’t export oil, neither would others. Washington has accused Iran of being behind the sabotage of six ships in May and June as well as the downing of a U.S. drone in June. Rockets also fell near U.S. bases in Iraq. Iran has also worked through its Houthi rebel allies in Yemen to supply know-how behind drone and air-defense technology. Pompeo says Iran is behind at least 100 attacks originating in Yemen.All this was window dressing for the more massive long-range attack that was to come this week. Two previous long-range attacks had targeted oil facilities west of Riyadh and near the border with the United Arab Emirates. In the latter attack, Iran’s Press TV claimed ten Yemeni drones had been responsible. The early hours of September 14 showed fires and explosions at Abqaiq. Satellite images revealed damage to almost 20 buildings, including liquified-natural-gas storage tanks. The damage wasn’t chaotic, as it would have been if someone tossed explosives and hoped they would hit their mark. Rather it was precise; one image shows four storage tanks hit in the same location.This level of precision is important. As salient was the ability of a force purported to include dozens of drones and cruise missiles to evade air-defense systems in eastern Saudi Arabia near Bahrain. This should be an area, not far from the U.S. naval base in Bahrain and the Al-Udeid base in Qatar, as well as U.S. bases in the UAE and Kuwait, that would be well defended. Whether the attack originated directly from Iran or from Iran-backed Houthis, either scenario shows how extremely proficient Iran and its allies have become with drones and missiles. This is an indigenous weapons program that outpaces Iran’s nearest neighbors, with the exception of Israel. It is a threat that requires U.S. air defense and radar to help confront. The larger question for the Trump administration is not just about defending allies, but also about whether it wants to try to deter Iran. Despite warnings since May that Iranian actions would meet with retaliation, Washington has been reticent to retaliate militarily, preferring a campaign of “maximum pressure.” It is hard to ignore the Iranian regime’s pronouncements on September 10 that the departure of National Security Advisor John Bolton showed that the U.S. had failed in its pressure campaign. It is also hard to believe that the sophisticated Abqaiq attack was planned in only four days.Tehran would have known that an unprecedented attack on key Saudi Arabian oil facilities by so many drones would raise eyebrows about claims that the poor and isolated Houthi rebels were behind it. The attack sends a clear message: This can get worse; end the sanctions and don’t risk the world’s oil supply. Iran thinks that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies won’t risk a conflict, and the Iranians think they called the Trump administration’s bluff in June. September 14 was a gamble but also a clear message felt across the Middle East. The era of Iran’s sophisticated precision-guided drone and cruise-missile attacks is here.



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'Nobody can stop it': Saudi oil attack signals an escalating crisis

'Nobody can stop it': Saudi oil attack signals an escalating crisisTrump is letting Riyadh decide about whether to retaliate against Iran – and if that happens, Iranians would likely raise the stakesThis satellite overview shows damage to oil and gas infrastructure from drone attacks at Haradh Gas Plant on 14 September 2019 in Saudi Arabia. Photograph: HO/AFP/Getty ImagesThe attack on Saudi oil facilities is the latest, most violent, example of an escalating series of gambits rival powers in the Gulf aimed at achieving their objectives by all measures short of all-out war.But the chances of avoiding such a devastating conflict diminish each time the stakes are raised.Iran has denied responsibility for the attack on an oil field and refining facility, while the US, Saudi Arabia and their allies have hesitated over the geographical origin of the air strikes. The size and sophistication of the operation however points to a state actor, and it fits a pattern in recent months of increasingly bold Iranian moves intended to raise the costs of the US campaign of maximum pressure and the Saudi war in Yemen.Until now, Iranian harassment of oil tankers traveling through the strait of Hormuz and the downing of a US surveillance drone have appeared calibrated to stop short of triggering a military response. If Iran is indeed behind Saturday’s strikes, it marks a significant step towards more reckless action by Tehran, possibly emboldened by the departure of Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, and the desperation of Iran’s economic plight.“What is clear is that the strategy of bombing Yemenis and starving Iranians into submission is more likely to backfire than bring the desired results,” said Ali Vaez, an Iran expert at the International Crisis Group. “Iran has less to lose and is less risk-averse.”Trump’s tweet about being “locked and loaded” echoed his claim the US was “cocked and loaded” to response to the downing of a US drone in June. But having agreed to launch retaliatory missile strikes then, Trump changed his mind, saying the risk of casualties made it a disproportional response.Now without Bolton at his side making the case for war, Trump appears even more cautious, trapped between not wanting to appear weak and anxious to avoid going to war in the midst of a reelection campaign. His solution to the dilemma on this occasion has been to pass the buck to Riyadh.According to Kirsten Fontenrose, former director for the Persian Gulf in the the national security council, Trump is betting Riyadh will not want to be seen declaring war.“The president knows that at the end of August when [deputy Saudi defence minister] Prince Khalid bin Salman was visiting Washington he told senior leaders at State, DoD [defence department] and the CIA that while they support economic squeezing the Iranian regime they do not support going to war. So the president knows that,” said Fontenrose, who resigned from the White House last November and is now at the Atlantic Council.“So he’s probably looking at Saudi to say no no no – let’s handle this another way. Really going towards and nobody’s interests.”Ellen Wald, a Gulf energy expert and author of a book about the Aramco oil company, Saudi, Inc, said Trump’s comments have exacerbated Riyadh’s dilemma.“It really does put a lot of pressure on the Saudi monarchy to initiate a response, potentially a military response, and that’s probably really not something that Saudi Arabia is equipped to handle. The Saudi military is is not prepared to fight a protracted war with Iran in any way,” Wald said.Meanwhile, fighting a war on behalf of Saudi regime has seldom been so unattractive in the US, following the murder of Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, and Trump’s own tweeted reminder on Monday, that the US less dependent than ever on oil flows in the Gulf.However, while it may be in nobody’s interests to go to war, the political costs for not responding currently fall most heavily on the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman – and his response is unpredictable.“We’re not dealing with common sense here. We are dealing with the fact that the Saudi’s have to retaliate one way or the other one form or the other,” said Jean-Francois Seznec, a Gulf expert who teaches at Georgetown University. “Otherwise the position even of the crown prince would be seen as weak in the country and at this point doesn’t have many friends even in his own country at the higher level.”One option for Riyadh and Washington is a retaliation against a proportionate Iranian target, accompanied by much signalling that it is a limited response. However, Tehran may not see it that way.“If they retaliate, the Iranians would have to retaliate even more. And we are just in an inertia of war,” Seznec said. “We really are in that situation right now and what’s so scary is that people all agree that this is not good for anybody. But there is nobody who can stop it.”



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Crisis at the boar-der: panic as Canadian feral hogs approach the US

Crisis at the boar-der: panic as Canadian feral hogs approach the USThey are exceptionally large, often aggressive, can be difficult to track down and breed copiouslyAccording to USDA officials, sightings of feral hogs along the US-Canadian border have increased in recent years. Photograph: Rebecca Santana/APAmerica is facing a crisis at the border. It’s just not the one you might have heard about. According to officials with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), sightings of feral hogs along the northern US-Canadian border have increased in recent years, and the prospect of the invasive species has wildlife experts worried.The roving swine have reportedly set their itinerary for Montana, according to the Daily Inter Lake.“Multiple people say that if we were to design an invasive species that would do the most widespread damage, feral swine aren’t too far off from being the perfect specimen,” Dale Nolte of the USDA’s National Feral Swine Program told the Daily Inter Lake. “It would be a disaster.”The feral hogs can present all manner of complications for environments: they don’t belong, are exceptionally large, are often aggressive, can be difficult to track down and breed copiously. There is also the potential they may carry diseases such as African swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease.Ryan Brook, a researcher at the University of Saskatchewan, told the Daily Inter Lake that the hogs are also capable of covering significant distances. “There is a general denial that wild pigs are a critical issue,” he said.> Legit question for rural Americans – How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?> > — William McNabb (@WillieMcNabb) August 4, 2019As many on social media have been quick to point out, the prospect of a feral hog invasion harkens back to a short-lived but widely spread meme about the animals from August in which a man said assault weapons were necessary in rural areas throughout the country in order to stem the invasion. “How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?” he asked on Twitter.> OH MY GOD HE WAS RIGHT t.co/sjTbHWHsNo> > — National Security Counselors (@NatlSecCnslrs) September 12, 2019> He tried to warn us…https://t.co/jC37O0SyLm> > — incorrigible mozart stan (@TrevorWoggon) September 11, 2019More than 6 million feral swine can be found in 32 states in the US, according to the USDA, which estimates the annual damage they cause at over $ 1.5b.



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A Swedish scientist suggested the climate crisis could lead people to consider eating human flesh. It's not the first time a scientist has suggested the idea.

A Swedish scientist suggested the climate crisis could lead people to consider eating human flesh. It's not the first time a scientist has suggested the idea.As our food supply faces more stress, behavioral scientist Magnus Söderlund said, humans might consider eating corpses.



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Gorsuch, Trump’s High Court Pick, Says U.S. in ‘Civility Crisis’

Gorsuch, Trump’s High Court Pick, Says U.S. in ‘Civility Crisis’(Bloomberg) — The U.S. is facing a “civility crisis,” Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch says in his first book since being appointed by President Donald Trump to fill a vacancy that was the focus of an intensely partisan fight.The book, “A Republic, If You Can Keep It,” lays out Gorsuch’s vision of the court’s proper role, arguing that judges should interpret the Constitution according to its original meaning. Conservatives have used that approach to argue for overturning Obamacare, slashing abortion rights and bolstering gun rights.Gorsuch also touches on the atmospherics surrounding his 2017 nomination. The book describes how, the day before the announcement, Gorsuch and his wife caught their flight to Washington with the help of a neighbor who drove them down a bumpy farm track so they wouldn’t be seen by reporters staking out the family house in Colorado.“That drive threw me face first into the topsy-turvy world of modern-day Supreme Court confirmation battles,” Gorsuch writes in the 323-page book, officially released Tuesday. He was confirmed on a 54-45 vote, with only three Democrats voting in favor.The nomination occurred because Senate Republicans held the seat open for more than a year after the February 2016 death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to let the Senate consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for the seat.Trump’s RoleThe book makes only passing references to Trump and doesn’t address the president’s own role in the decline of the nation’s civic discourse. But Gorsuch points to surveys indicating that incivility is broadly deterring Americans from engaging in public service.“Without civility, the bonds of friendship in our communities dissolve, tolerance dissipates, and the pressure to impose order and uniformity through public and private coercion mounts,” Gorsuch, 52, writes.Much of the book, co-authored by two of the justice’s former law clerks, is a compilation of Gorsuch’s speeches and court opinions. But it also contains original sections that provide new insights into his judicial philosophy and personality.Gorsuch is a staunch advocate for approaches toward judging that have become conservative staples: originalism in constitutional cases and textualism when interpreting statutes. He says those approaches help ensure judges don’t “allow their policy preferences to determine their legal rulings.”‘Proper Spheres’He says the president and Congress are similarly guilty of overstepping their bounds and violating the separation of powers laid out in the Constitution.“The framers firmly believed that the rule of law depends on keeping all three governmental powers in their proper spheres,” Gorsuch writes.But Gorsuch also advocates for things that don’t fall so easily into an ideological bucket. He laments the increasing cost and complexity of the U.S. legal system.“Our civil justice system is too expensive for most to afford; our criminal code is too long for most to comprehend; and our legal education system is too monolithic to allow lawyers to serve clients as affordably and well as we might,” he writes.The book’s title recalls Benjamin Franklin’s reported reply as he left the Constitutional Convention in 1787 when he was asked what sort of government the nation’s founders were creating.To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Laurie Asséo, Anna EdgertonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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CIA predicted the Iran crisis that spiraled out of Trump pulling the US from the 2015 nuclear deal

CIA predicted the Iran crisis that spiraled out of Trump pulling the US from the 2015 nuclear dealA year before Trump withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal, the CIA circulated a classified document offering a "simple" and prescient conclusion.



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Brexit crisis grows as opposition rejects snap election call

Brexit crisis grows as opposition rejects snap election callBritain’s bedeviling Brexit dilemma intensified Friday, as opposition parties refused to support Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for an election until he secures a delay to Britain’s exit from the European Union — something he vows he’ll never do. Johnson insists Britain must leave the EU in 55 days, and says an election is the only way to break the deadlock that has seen lawmakers repeatedly reject the divorce deal on offer, but also block attempts to leave the EU without one. After discussions Friday, lawmakers from several opposition parties said they would not back an election unless the government asked the EU to postpone Brexit, removing the risk the U.K. could crash out without a deal.



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Indiana attorney general exposes the real reason behind California's homeless crisis

Indiana attorney general exposes the real reason behind California's homeless crisisIndiana Attorney General Curtis Hill says California's Proposition 47 has had unintended consequences.



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Explainer: Why are the Amazon fires sparking a crisis for Brazil – and the world?

Explainer: Why are the Amazon fires sparking a crisis for Brazil - and the world?A record number of fires ravaging the Amazon has drawn international outrage because of the rainforest’s importance to the global environment and prompted Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to dispatch the military to assist in firefighting. WHY DOES THE AMAZON MATTER? The Amazon – 60% of which is in Brazil – is the world’s largest tropical rainforest.



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