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Here Are 8 Things To Watch During Trump’s State Of The Union

What to expect from the State of the Union…

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Via Zerohedge


C-o-m-i-t-y.

That, according to senior White House advisor Kellyanne Conway, will be the overarching theme of President Trump’s State of the Union, which is expected to begin at 9 pm ET  on Tuesday. Last year’s speech was distinguished by Trump’s calls for cooperation between the two parties during an 80-minute marathon that was the longest speech since the Clinton administration. Of course, Trump’s heartfelt speech did little to change the atmosphere of bitter partisan acrimony that has only intensified in Washington over the past year.

But after a divisive year that featured partisan battles over the confirmation of SCOTUS Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s zero-tolerance border policies and – most recently – the government shutdown, according to Conway, Trump is once again planning to strike a conciliatory tone to try and silence critics who joke that his speech would be more aptly referred to as “the State of Disunion”.

“This president is going to call for an end to the politics of resistance, retribution and call for more comity,” Conway said, spelling out the last word.

Many of President Trump’s recent decisions have been controversial among both Republicans (the trade war, his decision to pull troops from Syria and Afghanistan) and Democrats (immigration, the wall, the shutdown). And as the president seeks to rally support as the 2020 campaign season gets underway, previews of the speech published by the Hillthe New York Times and NBC News suggest that Trump will spend the bulk of his time touting his victories and selling his policies to the public, while calling for Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on issues like passing a sweeping infrastructure bill. The “optimistic” tone will go a long way toward setting out Trump’s goals for the coming year.

With that in mind, here’s a roundup of what to expect from Tuesday’s speech:

Making the case for an immigration ‘crisis’ (the New York Times):

Immigration policy dominated the president’s agenda during his second year in office, and most likely will again during the third. Mr. Trump has consistently tried to make the case that there is a “crisis” – of crime, drugs and human trafficking – at the border with Mexico, an emergency that can be dealt with only by building a border wall.

The president is also likely to call for a legislative solution to address the so-called Dreamers, younger immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children and have no criminal record. This is one area of possible cooperation with Democrats, but there are significant disagreements about details.

Mr. Trump is not expected to veer from his demands for billions of dollars in funding for border security, including some kind of barrier. Congressional negotiators from both parties are trying to hammer out a deal on border security, but Democrats have been adamant that they will not agree to money for Mr. Trump’s wall, and the president has been pessimistic about the chances of Capitol Hill coming up with an agreement that meets his approval.

Still, he is not expected to use the address on Tuesday to declare a national emergency, which potentially would enable him to construct additional barriers along the border using presidential authority.

Will Trump declare a national emergency to build the wall? (courtesy of the Hill):

Trump is coming to Congress during crunch time for budget talks, with a Feb. 15 deadline to avert another shutdown.

In the lead-up to the address, Trump has slammed bipartisan negotiations as a “waste of time” and chastised Democrats for opposing his demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding.

The president and his aides have instead hinted he may use Tuesday’s speech to lay the groundwork for declaring a national emergency that would allow him to sidestep Congress and build new portions of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump told reporters last week when asked about the declaration to “listen closely” to the upcoming speech. But a senior administration official who previewed Trump’s remarks on Friday would only say that immigration will be “the top priority” of the address.

A declaration would likely spark a political backlash by riling Democrats and even some Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has reportedly warned Trump privately that such a move could divide his own party. There’s also the near certainty of legal challenges to declaring an emergency.

The senior administration official said Trump, “in a spirit of trying to reach across the aisle to advance the interest of all Americans, is going to try to provide a bipartisan way forward” on the immigration stalemate.

Bringing homes the troops (courtesy of NBC News):

Trump has been fighting the Washington foreign policy establishment over his plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Syria.

Most Republicans and many Democrats in the Senate have voted against a “precipitous withdrawal” from either country, but the Democratic presidential candidates found themselves siding with Trump – even if they disapproved of his methods and perceived motives – on the basic premise of winding down the U.S. presence on both fronts.

Tuesday’s speech is an opportunity for him to make his case to Congress directly and to the viewing public at home.

“We’ve been there for 19 years, almost, we are fighting very well,” he said of the Afghanistan war in an interview with CBS that aired over the weekend. “We’re fighting harder than ever before. And I think that they will – I think they’re tired and, I think everybody’s tired. We got to get out of these endless wars and bring our folks back home.”

An end to AIDS? (courtesy of Politico):

President Donald Trump plans to use Tuesday night’s State of the Union address to promise an end to the HIV epidemic in America, four individuals with knowledge of the planned remarks told POLITICO. Under Trump’s 10-year strategy, health officials would target the U.S. communities with the most HIV infections and work to reduce transmissions by 2030. The strategy has been championed by top health officials, including HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield.

Drug pricing (courtesy of Fortune):

Trump is likely to tout his administration’s long-awaited proposal to end a complex system of drug rebates that’s been blamed for helping keep prices high. The measure, announced on Thursday, could hand the president a potential win on drug pricing if passed.

Besides directly targeting middlemen like pharmacy benefit managers, the policy is a “clear negative” for makers of expensive drugs that use rebates to fend off competition from cheaper alternatives, said Veda Partners analyst Spencer Perlman. Sell-side analysts at Wall Street firms had mixed reactions as health-care supply chain stocks fell on Friday.

Abortion appeal (courtesy of New York Times):

White House officials said the president is also likely to talk about abortion and the “fundamental importance and respect for human life.” Mr. Trump’s evangelical supporters, who fervently oppose abortion, have been the bulwark of his political base.

He might also talk about China’s program of forced abortion and sterilization, and perhaps even efforts in the United States to ease some abortion restrictions, such as a contentious amendment regarding late-term abortions being considered by the legislature in Virginia.

Infrastructure (courtesy of NYT):

The president, as he did last year, will almost certainly make an appeal for an infrastructure program, and is likely to emphasize its effect in rural America, the home of his political base.

Programs to repair roads and bridges have strong bipartisan appeal, but so far, Republicans and Democrats have not found a middle ground.

North Korea (courtesy of the Hill):

Another major announcement Trump has teased is a second nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump told CBS News on Sunday that the meeting “is set” and that he would reveal the details “probably” during the speech “or shortly before.”

“There’s also a very good chance that we will make a deal,” Trump said of the planned summit with Kim, which is expected to take place this month.

The president could use part of his address to try to win over skeptical lawmakers, who heard from Trump’s own intelligence chiefs last week that North Korea is unlikely to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

One highlight of every SOTU is the guest list, as president’s typically incorporate the stories of every day Americans into their elucidation of their policy goals. This year, Trump’s guests will include an 11-year-old boy named Joshua Trump, who has reportedly been bullied because of his last name, Grace Eline, a child who was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was 9; Judah Samet, a survivor of the Holocaust who lived through the shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh; Ashley Evans, a recovering opioid addict; Elvin Hernandez, a special agent at the Department of Homeland Security who focuses on human trafficking; and Debra Bissell, Heather Armstrong and Madison Armstrong, family members of a Nevada couple who authorities say were killed by an undocumented immigrant, the Washington Post reported.

Given that this will be Trump’s first SOTU with Nancy Pelosi standing behind him while Trump speaks from the House rostrum – and with a handful of lawmakers hoping to unseat Trump in 2020 sitting in the crowd – particular attention will be paid to the Democratic response. The official rebuttal will be delivered by Stacey Abrams while Bernie Sanders will once again deliver a rebuttal of his own.

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Shaun Ramewe
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Shaun Ramewe

Expect lies, lies and more lies – again and again.

Olivia Kroth
Guest

Nothing good comes from the USA for the rest of the world, no matter who is their president. Maybe Trump is the lesser evil? There are far worse people who could grab the presidency in 2020 …. The USA is a pest, and it will remain so forever.

Olivia Kroth
Guest

“Here are 8 things to watch …”?
I am not watching anything because I am totally disgusted with the USA. The less one hears, sees or reads about them, the better.

Maybe the DURAN could bring more analysis and news about RUSSIA?

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BARR: No collusion by any Americans

Trump never used his powers to interfere with Mueller, and thus had no “corrupt intent” in the matter.

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Attorney General Barr found no one in the Trump campaign colluded with “Russia” to meddle in the 2016 US election.

A devastating blow to Democrats and their mainstream media stenographers.

Trump reacted immediately…

Via RT…

With the full report on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into claims President Donald Trump colluded with Russia about to be released, Attorney General William Barr is giving a press conference about its findings.

Barr maintains the allegation that the Russian government made efforts to interfere in the election through the Internet Research Agency, an alleged Kremlin-control “troll farm”, as well as “hacking efforts” by the Russian intelligence agency GRU.

The bottom line, Barr says, is that Mueller has found Russia tried to interfere in the election, but “no American” helped it.

Barr explained the White House’s interaction with the Mueller report, whether Trump used executive privilege to block any of its contents from release, as well as on how the Justice Department chose which bits of the 400-page paper to redact.

On the matter of obstruction of justice, Barr said he and his deputy Rod Rosenstein have reviewed Mueller’s evidence and “legal theories”, and found that there is no evidence to show Trump tried to disrupt the investigation.

He said Trump never used his powers to interfere with Mueller, and thus had no “corrupt intent” in the matter.

Most of the redactions in the report were made to protect ongoing investigations and personal information of “peripheral third parties”.

Barr said that no-one outside the Justice Department took part in the redacting process or saw the unredacted version, except for the intelligence community, which was given access to parts of it to protect sources.

Trump did not ask to make any changes to Mueller’s report, Barr said.

Trump’s personal counsel was given access to the redacted report before its release.

A number of Trump-affiliated people, as well as Russian nationals, have been indicted, charged or put on trial by Mueller over the course of the past two years, but none for election-related conspiracy. Still, Democrats in Congress as well as numerous establishment media personalities have been insisting that Barr, a Trump pick for AG office, is somehow “spinning” its findings in order to protect and exonerate Trump, and are calling to see the full report as soon as possible.

They have equally condemned Barr’s decision to hold a news conference before the report is release, claiming he is trying to shape the public perception in Trump’s favor.

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Moscow’s Strategy: To Win Everywhere, Every Time

The main feature of Moscow’s approach is to find areas of common interest with its interlocutor and to favor the creation of trade or knowledge exchange.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Important events have occurred in the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks that underline how the overall political reconfiguration of the region is in full swing. The Shia axis continues its diplomatic relations and, following Rouhani’s meeting in Baghdad, it was the turn of Adil Abdul-Mahdi to be received in Tehran by the highest government and religious authorities. Among the many statements released, two in particular reveal the high level of cooperation between the two countries, as well as demonstrating how the Shia axis is in full bloom, carrying significant prospects for the region. Abdul-Mahdi also reiterated that Iraq will not allow itself to be used as a platform from which to attack Iran: “Iraqi soil will not be allowed to be used by foreign troops to launch any attacks against Iran. The plan is to export electricity and gas for other countries in the region.”

Considering that these two countries were mortal enemies during Saddam Hussein’s time, their rapprochement is quite a (geo)political miracle, owing much of its success to Russia’s involvement in the region. The 4+1 coalition (Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria plus Hezbollah) and the anti-terrorism center in Baghdad came about as a result of Russia’s desire to coordinate all the allied parties in a single front. Russia’s military support of Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah (together with China’s economic support) has allowed Iran to begin to transform the region such that the Shia axis can effectively counteract the destabilizing chaos unleashed by the trio of the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

One of the gaps to be filled in the Shia axis lies in Lebanon, which has long experienced an internal conflict between the many religious and political currents in the country. The decision by Washington to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel pushed the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, to make an important symbolic visit to Moscow to meet with President Putin.

Once again, the destabilizing efforts of the Saudis, Israelis and Americans are having the unintended effect of strengthening the Shia axis. It seems that this trio fails to understood how such acts as murdering Khashoggi, using civilian planes to hide behind in order to conduct bombing runs in Syria, recognizing the occupied territories like the Golan Heights – how these produce the opposite effects to the ones desired.

The supply of S-300 systems to Syria after the downing of the Russian reconnaissance plane took place as a result of Tel Aviv failing to think ahead and anticipate how Russia may respond.

What is surprising in Moscow’s actions is the versatility of its diplomacy, from the deployment of the S-300s in Syria, or the bombers in Iran, to the prompt meetings with Netanyahu in Moscow and Mohammad bin Salman at the G20. The ability of the Russian Federation to mediate and be present in almost every conflict on the globe restores to the country the international stature that is indispensable in counterbalancing the belligerence of the United States.

The main feature of Moscow’s approach is to find areas of common interest with its interlocutor and to favor the creation of trade or knowledge exchange. Another military and economic example can be found in a third axis; not the Shia or Saudi-Israeli-US one but the Turkish-Qatari one. In Syria, Erdogan started from positions that were exactly opposite to those of Putin and Assad. But with decisive military action and skilled diplomacy, the creation of the Astana format between Iran, Turkey and Russia made Turkey and Qatar publicly take the defense of Islamist takfiris and criminals in Idlib. Qatar for its part has a two-way connection with Turkey, but it is also in open conflict with the Saudi-Israeli axis, with the prospect of abandoning OPEC within a few weeks. This situation has allowed Moscow to open a series of negotiations with Doha on the topic of LNG, with these two players controlling most of the LNG on the planet. It is evident that also the Turkish-Qatari axis is strongly conditioned by Moscow and by the potential military agreements between Turkey and Russia (sale of S-400) and economic and energy agreements between Moscow and Doha.

America’s actions in the region risks combining the Qatari-Turkish front with the Shia axis, again thanks to Moscow’s skilful diplomatic work. The recent sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, together with the withdrawal from the JCPOA (the Iranian nuclear agreement), has created concern and bewilderment in the region and among Washington’s allies. The act of recognizing the occupied Golan Heights as belonging to Israel has brought together the Arab world as few events have done in recent times. Added to this, Trump’s open complaints about OPEC’s high pricing of oil has forced Riyadh to start wondering out aloud whether to start selling oil in a currency other than the dollar. This rumination was quickly denied, but it had already been aired. Such a decision would have grave implications for the petrodollar and most of the financial and economic power of the United States.

If the Shia axis, with Russian protection, is strengthened throughout the Middle East, the Saudi-Israel-American triad loses momentum and falls apart, as seen in Libya, with Haftar now one step closer in unifying the country thanks to the support of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France and Russia, with Fayez al-Sarraj now abandoned by the Italians and Americans awaiting his final defeat.

While the globe continues its multipolar transformation, the delicate balancing role played by Russia in the Middle East and North Africa is emphasized. The Venezuelan foreign minister’s recent visit to Syria shows how the front opposed to US imperialist bullying is not confined to the Middle East, with countries in direct or indirect conflict with Washington gathering together under the same protective Sino-Russian umbrella.

Trump’s “America First” policy, coupled with the conviction of American exceptionalism, is driving international relations towards two poles rather than multipolar ones, pushing China, Russia and all other countries opposed to the US to unite in order to collectively resist US diktats.

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Nigel Farage stuns political elite, as Brexit Party and UKIP surge in polls (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 144.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party’s stunning rise in the latest UK polls, which show Tory support splintering and collapsing to new lows. Theresa May’s Brexit debacle has all but destroyed the Conservative party, which is now seeing voters turn to UKIP and The Brexit Party.

Corbyn’s Labour Party is not finding much favor from UK voters either, as anger over how Britain’s two main parties conspired to sell out the country to EU globalists, is now being voiced in various polling data ahead of EU Parliament elections.

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Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk:


The Guardian reports Tories Hit by New Defections and Slump in Opinion Polls as Party Divide Widens.

The bitter fallout from Brexit is threatening to break the Tory party apart, as a Europhile former cabinet minister Stephen Dorrell on Sunday announces he is defecting to the independent MPs’ group Change UK, and a new opinion poll shows Conservative support plummeting to a five-year low as anti-EU parties surge.

The latest defections come as a new Opinium poll for the Observer shows a dramatic fall in Tory support in the past two weeks and a surge for anti-EU parties. The Conservatives have fallen by six percentage points to 29% compared to a fortnight ago. It is their worst position since December 2014. Labour is up one point on 36% while Ukip is up two points on 11%.

Even more alarmingly for the Tories, their prospects for the European elections appear dire. Only 17% of those certain to vote said they would choose the Conservatives in the European poll, while 29% would back Labour, and 25% either Ukip (13%) or Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party (12%).

YouGov Poll

A more recent YouGov Poll looks even worse for the Tories

In the YouGov poll, UKIP and BREX total 29%.

Polls Volatile

Eurointellingence has these thoughts on the polls.

We have noted before that classic opinion polls at a time like this are next to useless. But we found an interesting constituency-level poll, by Electoral Calculus, showing for the first time that Labour would get enough constituency MPs to form a minority government with the support of the SNP. This is a shift from previous such exercises, which predicted a continuation of the status quo with the Tories still in command.

This latest poll, too, is subject to our observation of massively intruding volatility. It says that some of the Tory’s most prominent MPs would be at risk, including Amber Rudd and Iain Duncan-Smith. And we agree with the bottom-line analysis of John Curtice, the pollster, who said the abrupt fall in support for Tories is due entirely to their failure to have delivered Brexit on time.

The Tories are facing two electoral tests in May – local elections on May 2 and European elections on May 23. Early polls are show Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party shooting up, taking votes away from the Tories. If European elections were held, we would expect the Brexit party to come ahead of the Tories. Labour is rock-solid in the polls, but Labour unity is at risk as the pro-referendum supporters want Jeremy Corbyn to put the second referendum on the party’s manifesto.

Tory Labour Talks

The Tory/Labour talks on a compromise have stalled, but are set to continue next week with three working groups: on security, on environmental protection, and on workers’ rights. A separate meeting is scheduled between Philip Hammond and John McDonnell, the chancellor and shadow chancellor. The big outstanding issue is the customs union. Theresa May has not yet moved on this one. We noted David Liddington, the effective deputy prime minister, saying that the minimum outcome of the talks would be an agreed and binding decision-making procedure to flush out all options but one in a series of parliamentary votes.

May’s task is to get at least half of her party on board for a compromise. What makes a deal attractive to the Tories is that May would resign soon afterwards, giving enough time for the Tory conference in October to select a successor before possible elections in early 2020.

This relative alignment of interests is why we would not rule out a deal – either on an agreed joint future relationship, or at least on a method to deliver an outcome.

Customs Union

A customs union, depending on how it is structured, would likely be worse than remaining. The UK would have to abide by all the EU rules and regulations without having any say.

Effectively, it will not be delivering Brexit.

Perhaps May’s deal has a resurrection.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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