Links for 3-16-2018

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  • A U.S. Navy F/A–18 Super Hornet crashed off Key West. The two crew members ejected, but there’s no word on their condition.

  • Donald Trump hired Larry Kudlow as his new chief economic advisor. Kudlow doesn’t like tariffs, just like the guy he’s replacing, Gary Cohn.

  • Susan Glasser writes that the foreign capital Rex Tillerson didn’t understand was Donald Trump’s Washington:

    Defying the laws of political gravity at every turn, Tillerson feuded with fellow Cabinet members, clashed with White House staff, and alienated many of the thousands of career officials at the State Department who initially welcomed him as a voice of establishment calm in an unsettling new administration only to watch as he slashed their budgets and devalued their work. He was barely on speaking terms with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, engaged in a bitter turf war with presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, was disdained by key members of Congress who had once cheered for him, and was almost comically out of the loop on key policy decisions. When senior officials from key allies came to town, they often didn’t even bother to schedule meetings at Tillerson’s marginalized State Department anymore, and several of his own ambassadors were outright insubordinate by the end, realizing that power lay in the White House, not in the secretary’s wood-paneled office on the State Department’s seventh floor.

  • The FBI office that handles employee discipline recommended that Jeff Sessions fire Andrew McCabe before his official retirement kicks in on Sunday. McCabe would lose at least some of his retirement benefits if he’s fired.

  • The U.S. is still conducting air strikes in Yemen — it’s just not publicizing them.

  • Donald Trump is preparing to meet North Korean President Kim Jong Un while the U.S. has limited human and signals intelligence information from North Korea, which puts Trump at a disadvantage.

  • The U.S. is investigating reports that North Korea is operating a large underground military base in Syria:

    “We are aware of reports regarding possible DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] assistance to Syria to rebuild its chemical weapons capabilities,” a State Department official, speaking on background, told the Free Beacon. “We take these allegations very seriously and we are working assiduously to prevent the Assad regime from obtaining material and equipment to support its chemical weapons program.”


    The underground North Korean military base could be hiding more than just chemical weapons, according to regional reports indicating that the sheer size of the base, which is mostly situated within a mountain, raises concerns of nuclear work.

  • The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of Texas’ anti-sanctuary cities law, a reversal of a district court decision. The one provision the appeals court barred relates to civil penalties against local officials who “endorse a policy under which the entity or department prohibits or materially limits the enforcement of immigration laws” — because that might infringe the officials’ First Amendment rights.

  • There’s a new terrorist group called “White Flag” operating in northwestern and central Iraq, “a union of Kurdish terrorists and former ISIS fighters.”

    The military official said intelligence on the group is sketchy but preliminary indications are it poses a threat to the areas of Iraq where it has operated. White Flag, however, does not currently have capabilities for conducting terror attacks outside the country.

    Estimates of numbers for White Flag members vary widely from as few as 100 terrorists to as many as 1,000.

  • British Prime Minister Theresa May expelled 23 Russian diplomats/spies in retaliation for Russia’s alleged poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England.

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