Links for 3-5-2018

  • John Kerry has been working with Iran’s ambassador to the U.N. and others to rescue the Iranian nuclear deal:

    With the Iran deal facing its gravest threat since it was signed in 2015, Kerry has been on an aggressive yet stealthy mission to preserve it, using his deep lists of contacts gleaned during his time as the top US diplomat to try to apply pressure on the Trump administration from the outside. President Trump, who has consistently criticized the pact and campaigned in 2016 on scuttling it, faces a May 12 deadline to decide whether to continue abiding by its terms.

    Kerry also met last month with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and he’s been on the phone with top European Union official Federica Mogherini, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal the private meetings. Kerry has also met with French President Emmanuel Macron in both Paris and New York, conversing over the details of sanctions and regional nuclear threats in both French and English.

    This is about as blatant a violation of the Logan Act as you’ll find, but Dan McLaughlin argues Congress should repeal the Logan Act.

  • The Guardian reports that the Trump administration hired an Israeli private intelligence company to investigate two Obama administration officials, Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, whose work was instrumental on the Iran nuclear deal. The Guardian treats this an unacceptable, but of course was OK for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to hire a former MI6 agent (Christopher Steele) to investigate Donald Trump and his campaign, relying on Russian sources for information.

  • Andrew McCarthy argues that Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller need to publicly state whether there’s a criminal case against Donald Trump and the nature of that case:

    In every other independent-prosecutor investigation in modern history — Watergate, Iran-Contra, Whitewater/Lewinsky — the president and the public have known exactly what was alleged. The prosecutor was able to investigate with all the secrecy the law allows, but under circumstances in which we all understood what was being investigated and why the president was suspected of wrongdoing.

    After two years, we are entitled to nothing less. The president should direct Rosenstein to outline, publicly and in detail, the good-faith basis for a criminal investigation arising out of Russia’s interference in the election — if there is one. If he can’t, Mueller’s criminal investigation should be terminated; if he can, Mueller should be compelled to explain (unless Rosenstein’s disclosure makes it clear) why he needs to interview President Trump in order to complete his work.

    If Rosenstein and Mueller are reluctant to do that, it can only be because they’ve decided that not only their investigation but also their desire for secrecy take precedence over every other consideration, including the president’s capacity to govern domestically and conduct foreign policy in a dangerous world. But secrecy is not the nation’s top priority. It’s long past time to lay the cards on the table.

  • Two of James Comey’s allies within the FBI, James Baker and Lisa Page, quit their jobs yesterday. Baker is joining the Brookings Institution.

  • The Trump administration plans to end Temporary Protected Status for 86,000 Hondurans who happened to be in the U.S. when Hurricane Mitch hit their home country in 1999. Mark Krikorian writes that Congress needs to reform this program so presidents stop abusing it.

  • Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a fetal heartbeat bill into law, which means Iowa is now the state with the tightest restrictions on abortion. Of course implementation of the law will be blocked while it’s challenged in courts for years.

  • A magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit Hawaii’s big island after Kilauea erupted and sent lava flowing through a housing subdivision.

  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and more 1,000 other protesters were arrested ahead of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration.

Links for 1-31-2018

Links for 1-30-2018

Links for 1-13-2018

Links for 8-16-2017

Links for 7-14-2017

  • The latest version of the Senate’s health insurance bill contains hand-outs for states intended to persuade the senators from those states to vote for the bill. Here’s an example intended to buy off Lisa Murkowski:

    Section 106 of the bill includes new language—page 13, lines 4 through 13, and page 18, line 12 through page 19, line 4—dedicating one percent of the new Stability Fund dollars to “each state where the cost of insurance premiums are at least 75 percent higher than the national average.” As a Bloomberg story noted, this provision currently applies only to Alaska, and could result in $1.32 billion in Stability Fund dollars automatically being directed to Alaska.

  • A federal district court judge in Hawaii again took it upon himself (again) to re-write parts of Donald Trump’s “travel ban” executive order.

  • American and Somali special forces troops killed several al Shabaab fighters during a raid in southern Somalia.

  • Three gunmen killed two Israeli police officers on Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The gunmen, who were Arab citizens of Israel, were killed by other police officers.

  • An Egyptian man stabbed two German tourists to death and wounded four others at Red Sea resorts. Three gunmen on a motorcycle killed five Egyptian policemen at a security checkpoint south of Cairo.

  • A high ranking member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Seyed Mohsen Dehnavi, was caught trying to enter the U.S. while posing as a cancer researcher. Dehnavi was deported back to Iran.

    “Here are the facts: Mr. Dehnavi is a high-ranking member of IRGC’s Basij, has been involved in the IRGC’s military research programs, has played a key role in oppressing dissidents, and Iran’s Supreme Leader has given him his own keffiyeh as a gift,” Saeed Ghasseminejad, a prominent Iranian dissident and regional expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told the Free Beacon.

    Other media outlets have independently identified Dehnavi as a top Basij member who was involved in efforts to suppress dissident and reformist voices in Iran.

  • New reporting from Raqqa indicates the Muslim Brotherhood’s affiliate in Tunisia actively recruited young men to fight for ISIS in Syria.

  • Young male Afghan refugees in Europe are in the habit of sexually assaulting women:

    But there was one development that had not been expected, and was not tolerable: the large and growing incidence of sexual assaults committed by refugees against local women. These were not of the cultural-misunderstanding-date-rape sort, but were vicious, no-preamble attacks on random girls and women, often committed by gangs or packs of young men. At first, the incidents were downplayed or hushed up—no one wanted to provide the right wing with fodder for nationalist agitation, and the hope was that these were isolated instances caused by a small problem group of outliers. As the incidents increased, and because many of them took place in public or because the public became involved either in stopping the attack or in aiding the victim afterwards, and because the courts began issuing sentences as the cases came to trial, the matter could no longer be swept under the carpet of political correctness. And with the official acknowledgment and public reporting, a weird and puzzling footnote emerged. Most of the assaults were being committed by refugees of one particular nationality: by Afghans.

  • 38 North, a think tank that monitors North Korea, believes that thermal images of North Korea’s main nuclear site suggest the country has reprocessed more plutonium than previously thought.

  • Hong Kong’s High Court stripped four opposition lawmakers of their seats in the legislature because they refused to (correctly) take an oath when they were sworn in.

  • Jeff M. Smith wrote a good summary of the border dispute between China and India at the point where China, India, and Bhutan meet:

    First, the de-facto border, the Line of Actual Control (LAC), is a magnet for standoffs between Chinese and Indian border patrols. Unlike the turbulent Line of Control with Pakistan in Kashmir, however, an elaborate series of bilateral mechanisms has kept the LAC free of any fatal exchanges for decades. Only once since 1962 has a standoff turned bloody. That’s the good news. But there is also bad news: That fatal exchange, the Nathu La incident of 1967, unfolded near the site of the current crisis.

    Second, the peace that has prevailed at the border masks a disconcertingly ambiguous tactical situation along select portions of the LAC. Not only is the roughly 3,500-kilometer border unsettled and un-demarcated, there are roughly a dozen stretches along the frontier where the two countries cannot even agree on the location of the LAC. These are the source of hundreds of relatively innocent “transgressions” by Chinese border patrols annually. (China doesn’t publicly track Indian transgressions). On occasion, these devolve into more serious “intrusions,” as witnessed in 2013 and 2014 when the People’s Liberation Army spent several weeks camped across the LAC in the Western Sector.

Links for 7-13-2017