More on Iranian protests

The Iranian government has claimed ‘sedition’ is defeated, while the US openly promotes the protests, with President Trump tweeting “Such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government. You will see great support from the United States at the appropriate time!”

RNZ – Iran protests: General declares ‘sedition’ defeated

The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has declared the defeat of the “sedition” in the country, referring to a wave of anti-government protests.

Maj Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari made the announcement as tens of thousands of people attended pro-government rallies called to counter the unrest.

Gen Jafari said: “Today, we can say that this is the end of the 96 sedition,” referring to the current year – 1396 – in the Persian calendar.

He said “security preparedness and people’s vigilance” had led to the defeat of “enemies” and that the Guards had only intervened in a “limited” way in three provinces.

He added: “There were a maximum of 1,500 people in each place and the number of troublemakers did not exceed 15,000 people nationwide.”

The “enemies” had tried to pose “cultural, economic and security threats against Islamic Iran”, he said.

The general blamed anti-revolutionary agents, pro-monarchists and forces which he said had been “announced by [US-ex Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton to create riot, anarchy, insecurity and intrigue in Iran”.

Clinton still gets blamed for a lot of things in the US, but I’d be surprised if she created the Iranian protests.

And there were also counter protests.

State television broadcast some of the pro-government rallies live.

Some marchers carried Iranian flags and images of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In the city of Qom, marchers chanted “death to American mercenaries”. Chants elsewhere included “the blood in our veins is a gift to our leader” and “the seditionist rioters should be executed”.

It could get messy – if not suppressed, which could also be messy.

I wouldn’t rely on the right sort of support at thee right time from the US – history is littered with rebellions being left in the lurch after prior promises – Trump will do what he thinks is best for him and perhaps for the US.

On Tuesday, US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley branded as “complete nonsense” Iran’s suggestion that external enemies were fomenting the unrest.

She said: “The people of Iran are crying out for freedom. All freedom-loving people must stand with their cause.”

That’s as hard core propaganda as from the Iranian government.

While the US tries to stir things up in Iran:

Trump reaction to New York terror attack

The vehicle terror attack in New York has not surprisingly been used by President Trump to promote tougher immigration restrictions, but he has also tried to blame a Democrat Senator.

NBC: Trump: ‘Terrorist’ Attack, Suspect ‘Deranged,’ ISIS Stay Out of U.S.

Police said the driver of a rental truck deliberately drove onto a bike path on the west side of lower Manhattan hitting bicyclists and others before getting out of the vehicle and being shot by police, law enforcement officials and witnesses said.

At least eight people were killed and 11 injured. Saipov is hospitalized and in police custody.

A law enforcement official told WNBC that a note found in the suspect’s truck claimed that he carried out the attack for ISIS.

This is the first ISIS claimed vehicle attack in the US but not the first vehicle attack.

President Donald Trump called the murderous spree by a rental truck driver in New York City on Tuesday “another attack by a very sick and deranged person,” sent condolences to victims of what the president referred to as a “terrorist attack,” and pledged to step up extreme vetting of those seeking to enter the U.S.

Later, Trump tweeted, “I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”

The problem here is that this attacker was already living in the US – Saipov entered the United States in 2010 on a diversity visa and had become a lawful permanent resident.

Another problem is Trump’s diversion in trying to lay some blame on a Democrat Senator for the attack – Reuters: After New York attack, Trump blasts senior Democratic senator

In Twitter posts, the Republican president linked Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to a visa program under which Trump said the man suspected of Tuesday’s attack, an Uzbek immigrant, entered the United States.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Schumer responded that Trump should stop “politicizing and dividing America” at times of national tragedy.

Trump reprised what has been his stance as a White House candidate and as president – that tougher immigration laws should be a first line of defense against terrorism.

He said the suspect entered the country through the so-called diversity visa program, which was created by Congress in 1990, to provide a path to U.S. residency for citizens from a range of countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.

“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based”.

In another post, Trump cited an analyst who appeared on a Fox News Channel program, writing, “‘Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europes problems’ said Col.Tony Shaffer. We will stop this craziness!”

But:

Schumer helped create the program in 1990 when he was a member of the House of Representatives, but he was also a member of a group of lawmakers who crafted a bipartisan immigration bill in 2013 that would have done away with the program. That bill was passed by the Senate but was killed by the Republican-led House.

Schumer responded:

“Instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, (Trump) should be bringing us together and focusing on the real solution, anti-terrorism funding, which he proposed to cut in his most recent budget.”

Sad to see a terror attack being used in political bickering.

Stopping the diversity lottery and stepping up the Extreme Vetting Program won’t address problems already in the US. The division stoked by President Trump is probably as big a risk as anything.

Assad, Russia claim chemical attack was fabricated

President Assad of Syria claims that the chemical attack that is alleged to have killed more than 80 civilians, received widespread media coverage and international condemnation, and the US used to justify their missile attack on a Syrian Air Force base, was fabricated.

RNZ: Syria chemical attack ‘fabricated’ – Assad

In an exclusive video interview with AFP news agency, he said “there was no order to make any attack”.

Mr Assad told AFP that the Syrian government had given up its chemical arsenal in 2013, adding “even if we have them, we wouldn’t use them”.

Mr Assad accused the West of making up events in Khan Sheikhoun so it had an excuse to carry out missile strikes on the government’s Shayrat airbase, which took place a few days after the alleged attack.

“It’s stage one, the play [they staged] that we saw on social network and TVs, then propaganda and then stage two, the military attack,” he said, questioning the authenticity of the video footage.

He also said Khan Sheikhoun, in Syria’s north-western Idlib province, had no strategic value and was not currently a battle front. “This story is not convincing by any means,” he told AFP.

Mr Assad told AFP that he would only allow an “impartial” investigation, involving “unbiased countries… to make sure that they won’t use it for politicised purposes”.

That is despite international claims that the attack was real.

The US, UK and France reacted angrily on Wednesday after Russia, Syria’s key ally, vetoed a draft resolution at the UN Security Council – the eighth time it has done so over the Syrian conflict.

Western allies have said there is compelling evidence that the Syrian government was behind what happened in Khan Sheikhoun.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday it was “highly likely” the Assad regime was behind the attack.

Turkey, which treated many of the wounded, said it has “concrete evidence” Sarin was used.

Turkey and the UK said tests showed Sarin or a Sarin-like substance was used in Khan Sheikhoun, which would be the first time since 2013 that a prohibited chemical had been used on such a scale.

Now Russia has come in to the debate on Syria’s side.

Bloomberg: Russia Says Evidence Growing Syria Chemical Attack Was Staged

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a chemical-weapons attack in Syria that provoked U.S. missile strikes on the Middle Eastern country may have been orchestrated.

“There’s growing evidence that this was staged,” Lavrov said at a Moscow news conference with his Iranian and Syrian counterparts on Friday. Publications including in the U.S. and the U.K. have highlighted “many inconsistencies” in the version of events in Syria’s Idlib province that was used to justify the American airstrikes, he said.

The U.S. hasn’t shown evidence that Assad was responsible for the April 4 attack in Idlib, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Friday in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where Putin was attending a collective-defense meeting of former Soviet republics.

The U.S. “is confident that the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin, against its own people,” according to a four-page document published by officials in Washington on Tuesday that contained evidence including satellite images, reports from the scene and details of exposure gathered from victims.

Russia says Syrian forces struck a building where terrorists kept the internationally banned chemical. The U.S. says it has images proving the bomb left a crater in a road rather than hitting a building.

Russia, Iran and Syria want an independent investigation and those opposed to the call “don’t have a clear conscience,” Lavrov said. Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Wednesday that demanded the Syrian government cooperate with an inquiry into the suspected sarin-gas attack that killed dozens of people.

All countries will be playing to their domestic audiences to an extent.

‘Among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.’ (Samuel Johnson, The Idler, 1758)

“The first casualty when war comes is truth” – purported to have been said in 1918 by US Senator Hiram Warren Johnson but not recorded.

‘When war is declared, truth is the first casualty’. (Arthur Ponsonby, Falsehood in Wartime, 1928).

China versus US on trade protectionism

Donald Trump has clearly signalled a far more protectionist stance on trade. He is scrapping the Trans Pacific Partnership, and wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In his inauguration speech Trump said:

For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.

We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.

The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.

But that is the past.

From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

I will fight for you with every breath in my body — and I will never, ever let you down.

We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.

He followed that with “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world” which may be a hard deal given his rhetoric on trade.

In contrast Chinese President Xi has recently talked in support of globalisation and against protectionism at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“Protectionism is like locking yourself in a dark room, which would seem to escape wind and rain, but also block out the sunshine. No one is a winner in a trade war.”

NZ Herald: China’s Xi warns against trade war in defense of globalisation

Xi used his speech to support a global economic order that has helped fuel China’s almost four-decade economic boom.

The Chinese president called on the world’s business and political elite to address the problems of globalisation, without turning away from economic trends that have fueled decades of growth.

Leaders should address the excesses of growth, such as growing wealth gaps, while embracing new industries and innovation, he said.

“There is no point in blaming economic globalization for the world’s problems because that is simply not the case, and that will not help to solve the problems.”

“The history of mankind has shown us that problems are not to be feared. What should concern us is the refusal to face up to the problems.”

Globalisation has lifted a huge number of people out of poverty in places like China and India, but it has created problems as Xi acknowledges.

With the US under Trump clamping down on trade agreements this will force China to look for other markets, and gives China an opportunity to become more dominant around the world.

More introspection and trade protection may work for the US,  and the world needs a healthy US economy, but the rest of the world may also learn to get by more with less US trade and influence.

In Communist China now more pro free trade than the US David Farrar says:

What a funny world where we live where the leader of the Communist Party of China is more pro free trade than the leader of the Republican Party of the United States.

Sad!

It is a major turnaround, but i don’t know why one should be sad about it. When one door closes another opens – New Zealand has long experience with trying different trade doors.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

President Trump

20 January 2017 in the United States of America

trumphailtothechief

“What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now.”

“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”

“America will start winning again, winning like never before.”

“I will fight for you with every breath in my body — and I will never, ever let you down.”

“We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.”

“We will shine for everyone to follow.”

“We will unite the civilized world against radical Islam, which we will eradicate from the face of the earth.”

“When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us, “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

“When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.”

“We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.”

“We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.”

“So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words:You will never be ignored again. ”

“Together we will make America strong again, we will make America wealthy again, we will make America proud again, we will make America safe again. And yes, together we will make America great again.”

Full text of President Trump’s speech.

And for balance, here it is at Fox.