Building on Syria War Gains, Hezbollah Scores Political Win in Lebanon


{} ~ Hezbollah’s bigger role in Lebanon’s new unity government points to a growing appetite to shape state affairs and builds on unprecedented military clout… the group is wielding after helping turn the tide in Syria’s war. Hezbollah’s expanding power in Lebanon reflects a deepening of Iranian influence in an arc of territory from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus that its foes Saudi Arabia and Israel have struggled to counter. Deemed a terrorist organization by the United States, Iran-backed Hezbollah has assumed control of three ministries in the government led by the Western-backed Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the largest number of portfolios it has ever held. The new government was formed on Thursday, ending nine months of wrangling. The most significant portfolio under Hezbollah control is the Health Ministry, the first time Hezbollah has controlled a ministry with a big budget, though the Shi’ite doctor it picked for the job is not a party member. More broadly, Hezbollah and its political allies from across Lebanon’s sectarian spectrum have emerged with more than half of cabinet’s 30 seats, reflecting a May parliamentary election which the group declared a victory. Salem Zahran, an analyst with links to Hezbollah leaders, said the government would go down in its history as the “first big shift and the first step along a long road” towards more influence in government…


Embezzlement, Theft Charges Against Labor Kingpin May Cripple Dems’ 2020 Machine

by Tim Pearce

{} ~ Pennsylvania Democrats are worried about the short-term future of their political machine after authorities charged a Philadelphia labor leader… with numerous counts of embezzlement, bribery and theft, Politico reports. John Dougherty, the business manager of Philadelphia’s branch of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and six other labor officials were indicted on 116 charges related to lavish misuse of union funds and buying influence with corrupt politicians, Philadelphia’s The Inquirer and CBS Philly report. The 159-page indictment was released by the federal court in Pennsylvania Friday. It details more than two years of FBI and IRS operations and raids launched against IBEW Local 98 offices, union officials and their homes. Dougherty used union funds as his “personal bank account and as a means to obtain employment for himself, his family, and his friends,” the indictment says, according to The Inquirer…


Shove It, House Democrats: Another Trump-Russia Story Blows Up


{} ~ Yet another story of supposed collusion between President Trump and the Russian government has turned out to be a big fat nothingburger, according to Townhall… The majority of Americans have at least heard of the story of the infamous Trump Tower meeting which took place in June 2016. Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer, were each in attendance of this meeting. Since becoming public, certain Americans have speculated that this particular gathering at Trump Tower was nefarious and occurred under the pretenses of Veselnitskaya having damning intel on scumbag/liar-Hillary Clinton. This narrative quickly fell apart, however. Veselnitskaya elected to discuss a piece of legislation which penalized the abusers of human rights and subsequently prohibited them from entering the United States. It turns out that the Russian government was not too pleased about the bill; they reacted by disallowing American citizens from adopting Russian children and banning certain U.S. officials from entering Russia. Another part of the conspiratorial narrative surrounding the meeting was that Donald Trump Jr. called his father, President Trump, in order to alert him of the convening at Trump Tower. However, following the Senate Intelligence Committee’s obtainment of Trump Jr.’s cell phone records, it turns out that the eldest first son actually never called the president before or after the meeting. Once again, yet another conspiracy theory involving President Trump has turned out to be incorrect. While Democrats are undoubtedly disappointed with this latest development, it’s highly unlikely that it will dissuade them from continuing to work against the president…


Evidence Mounts Against Climate Prediction That Inspired ‘Day After Tomorrow’ Disaster Flick

by Michael Bastasch

{} ~ New evidence casts further doubt on model-based predictions that global warming could halt the Gulf Stream currents as part of an alarming scenario… that inspired the 2004 disaster film, “The Day After Tomorrow.” For years, scientists warned global warming could halt the Atlantic’s “conveyor belt” and foment extreme weather and raise sea levels from North America to Europe. That prediction is based on climate models that, the new study found, may be analyzing the wrong thing. “Some of these models are producing five times the amount of Labrador Sea water they should be producing, based on observations,” lead author Susan Lozier, a professor at Duke University, told The Washington Post Friday. Lozier’s study found that climate models overestimate the role of the Labrador Sea west of Greenland in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). The study found the Nordic Sea east of Greenland played a dominant role in the AMOC…


Apocalyptic Debt Crisis In America: 63 Of America’s Largest 75 Cities Are COMPLETELY BROKE

by Mac Slavo

{} ~ The debt crisis in the United States of America has reached apocalyptic proportions. A new and horrifying report out details the reason why 63 of America’s largest cities are completely broke: debt and overspending… According to a recent analysis of the 75 most populous cities in the United States, 63 of them can’t pay their bills and the total amount of unfunded debt among them is nearly $330 billion. Most of the debt is due to unfunded retiree benefits such as pension and health care costs. That means those depending on that money, likely won’t see a dime of it. “This year, pension debt accounts for $189.1 billion, and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) – mainly retiree health care liabilities – totaled $139.2 billion,” the third annual “Financial State of the Cities” report produced by the Chicago-based research organization, Truth in Accounting (TIA), states. TIA is a nonprofit, politically unaffiliated organization composed of business, community, and academic leaders interested in improving government financial reporting. “Many state and local governments are not in good shape, despite the economic and financial market recovery since 2009,” Bill Bergman, director of research at TIA, told The top five cities in the worst financial shape are New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Honolulu, and San Francisco. These cities, in addition to Dallas, Oakland, and Portland, all received “F” grades. In New York City, for example, only $4.7 billion has been set aside to fund $100.6 billion of promised retiree health care benefits. In Philadelphia, every taxpayer would have to pay $27,900 to cover the city’s debt. In San Francisco, it would cost $22,600 per taxpayer…



Trump Can Call Democrats’ Bluff on Border Security — and Regain His Leverage

by Marc A. Thiessen

Having lost the government shutdown standoff, President Trump has also lost his leverage. But there is one way he can get it back.

Democrats are standing firm in opposition to a border wall, but they have also been at pains to argue that they are not weak on border security. House Speaker Nancy Pulosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles scumbag-Schumer, D-N.Y., say Democrats support “smart, effective border security solutions — just not the president’s wasteful and ineffective wall.”

Trump should call their bluff. He should go back to the experts at the Department of Homeland Security and ask them: If Democrats refuse to give you the addition physical barriers you have said are essential to secure the border, what other funding would you need to make up for it? How many extra border agents would you need in the absence of a wall? How many more canine units? How much more for improved coordination with state and local law enforcement in our border communities? How many more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents for interior enforcement? How much for underground sensors, radar, unmanned drones and fixed towers with infrared cameras? How much more advanced detection technology at our ports of entry? How many more portable scanners to detect smuggled narcotics, weapons and other dangerous materials? How much for construction of new ports of entry? How many more immigration judges? How much for employment eligibility verification? How much more in humanitarian assistance and medical support for those detained at the border? How many more detention beds and temporary housing units for migrant families? How much more for DNA testing to establish family relationships? How much to set up a new system that will allow Central American minors to apply for asylum in their home countries?

The total, he should tell the border professionals, can be far more than $5.7 billion. Just tell me what you need — the sky’s the limit.

Then, the president should then use his State of the Union address to demand that congressional Democrats fund every single penny. He should announce that if Democrats won’t pay for a wall, this is what border agents and homeland security professionals say they need immediately to secure the border without one. Unfortunately, it is more expensive to secure the border with people and technology than it is with steel slats.

Trump should make clear these demands are nonnegotiable. He will not make any concessions for them. No protections for “dreamers” or extension of the Temporary Protected Status program. Those things are still on the table, but only in exchange for a physical barrier.

If Democrats refuse, Trump will have regained the moral high ground. He can tell the American people: First, the border professionals told us they needed an additional 230 miles of physical barriers, and Democrats refused. Now, they have told us what they need to secure the border without those physical barriers — and Democrats still refuse. The Democrats are not against a wall; they are against border security, period.

But Democrats will not refuse, because they have no grounds to do so. They have repeatedly claimed over the past few weeks to support such measures. Well, now it is time to start funding them.

Such a massive border security request would divide the Democratic caucus. While Democratic leaders claim they want to secure the border, their rank-and-file members do not. Those members want to abolish ICE, not give it more resources. If Trump wants to pit the likes of Rep. commie-Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and her neo-socialist followers against Pulosi, this will do it.

If Democrats agree, then Trump can legitimately claim to have done more than any president in history to secure the southern border. He will have essentially built a virtual wall. And he can do all this without giving up on a physical barrier. Trump can make clear that he will make wall funding a condition of every policy initiative that Democrats put forward in the coming two years. He can declare that he is more than willing to cut a bipartisan deal to reform our broken immigration system — as long as that deal includes a wall.

Right now, Democrats have a winning hand when it comes to a border wall. But when it comes to border security, Trump essentially has carte blanche. Democrats have little choice but to give him pretty much anything he wants to secure the border short of a physical barrier. If he recognizes this reality and uses it to his advantage, he can still win. ~The Patriot Post


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