News of the Force: Monday, February 5, 2018 - Page 1

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                                              NEWS OF THE FORCE: Monday, February 5, 2018 - Page 1


U.S. Government to borrow $1 trillion
     The U.S. Government plans to borrow nearly $1 trillion this fiscal year, an 84 percent increase in spending when compared to the previous fiscal year, an analysis by The Chicago Tribune has found.
     According to documents released Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury expects to borrow $955 billion this fiscal year, the report states. That’s the highest amount of borrowing in six years, and nearly double the $519 billion borrowed by the federal government in 2017.
     The Treasury said the increase was due to the “fiscal outlook,” the report states. But the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said it’s due to lower tax receipts expected to follow the new tax law. The increase in spending could also complicate Congress’ discussions on spending for infrastructure, the military, disaster relief and other programs, the report noted.
     "We’re addicted to debt," Marc Goldwein, a senior policy director at Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget told The Chicago Tribune.
     Ernie Tedeschi, a former senior adviser to the U.S. Treasury and now the head of fiscal analysis at Evercore ISI, added that this marks the biggest borrowing jump (as a share of GDP) in a non-recession time since Ronald Reagan was president. Regan spiked borrowing due to a military buildup, something Trump is also planning, the report stated.
     The Chicago Tribune noted that during the State of the Union address, President Donald Trump did not mention spending or budget deficits.
     Investors recently expressed concerns about additional borrowing and the possibility of higher inflation. That caused interest rates on U.S. Government bonds to hit the highest level since 2014. And it was responsible, in part, for "the worst weekly sell-off in the stock market in two years," according to the report.
     "Some of my Wall Street clients are starting to talk recession in 2019 because of these issues. Fiscal policy is just out of control," said Peter Davis, a former tax economist in Congress, told The Chicago Tribune.

North Korea sends propaganda fliers to Seoul
    
Propaganda leaflets from North Korea marking the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics have been found in mountains in the South Korean capital of Seoul, a North Korea specialist news website reported today.
    
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) rejected a request today to invite 15 Russians to the Pyeongchang Winter Games just days after the athletes' doping bans were overturned by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration.
      Fred Warmbier, the father of Otto Warmbier, an American student who was jailed in North Korea and who died last year after returning to the United States, will attend the Olympics Opening Ceremonies as a guest of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Pence stopped by the northwestern U.S. state of Alaska today before continuing his journey to South Korea, where he will attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games on Feb. 9th.
      And the head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency is accusing North Korea of using its Berlin embassy to secretly shop for parts for its nuclear missile program.

China strongly opposes U.S.' Nuclear Posture Review
     China firmly opposes the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) published by the United States Department of Defense, a spokesman from China's National Defense Ministry said yesterday.
     The U.S. should drop its "cold war mentality" and take action to reduce its nuclear arsenal, China's defense ministry said yesterday after the Pentagon described China and Russia as potential threats.

Half of Iranians said 'no' to pillar of the revolution
    
The office of Iran's president yesterday charged into the middle of one of the most contentious debates over the character of the Islamic Republic, suddenly releasing a three-year-old report showing that nearly half of Iranians wanted an end to womens' compulsory wearing of veils.

Bahrain deports 8 people after revoking their citizenship
    
Bahrain has deported eight people to war-torn Iraq after revoking their citizenship and making them stateless, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said yesterday.

Nuclear arms treaty goes into effect today
    
A treaty committing the United States and Russia to keep their long-range nuclear arsenals at the lowest levels since early in the Cold War went into full effect today.

South Africa's DNC meets with president
    
Top officials from South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) met with President Jacob Zuma late yesterday amid growing pressure for the 75-year old leader to step down as head of state. Zuma has defied his party and refused to step down, according to media reports.

President of Cyprus wins reelection in run-off
    
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades defeated left-wing challenger Stavros Malas in a run-off election yesterday to secure a second five-year term, final results showed.

Paris attack suspect leaves French prison to stand trial in Brussels
    
The last surviving suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, left prison in France to stand trial in Brussels today over a shootout that led to his capture, a source close to the investigation said. He is the mute survivor of the 10-man Islamic State cell that terrorized Paris in November 2015, refusing all pleas to shed light on the attack that left 130 dead or another one in Brussels just four days after his arrest.

Russia steps up air raids in Syria
By Lisa Levine, News of the Force Tel Aviv
     Russian jets intensified their raids on rebel-held towns and cities in Syria's northern Idlib Province last night, a day after rebels shot down a Russian warplane and killed its pilot.
     A Syrian government campaign to wrest one of the last autonomous pockets in the country from rebels is raising tensions among foreign powers positioned on different sides of the six-year conflict.
     At least 20 people were killed in a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria late last night, Arab news outlets reported today. Syrian human rights organizations told The Associated Press just before midnight yesterday that the rebel-held town of Saraqeb (Saraqib) in Syria's Idlib Province was attacked.
     Israel began warning thousands of African migrants yesterday that they must leave by the end of March, officials said, under a plan that could see them jailed if they refuse. Immigration authorities have begun issuing deportation orders to asylum seekers from war-torn Eritrea and Sudan.
     Israel's National Security Council is weighing various options for preserving Jerusalem's shrinking Jewish majority as experts warn that an ongoing flood of Arab migration into the city from the Palestinian Authority will completely reshape the demographic balance in the holy city.
     Israeli authorities yesterday tore down two E.U.-funded classrooms that were part of a school for Bedouins in the occupied West Bank because they said they were built illegally.
     The Israel Air Force has carried out more than 100 attacks on the Egyptian Sinai over past two years, a new report reveals.
     And coalition government partners are pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to move forward on legislation banning the use of mosques' loudspeakers.


     Couzin Gym's Thought for the Day: If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.


At least two dead in South Carolina Amtrak accident
    
A Miami, Fla.-bound Amtrak train appeared to be on the wrong track when it collided with a freight train in South Carolina early yesterday morning, killing two people and injuring 116, authorities said.

Americans have boycotted Super Bowl to stand with the U.S. military and law enforcement
     The Philadelphia Eagles won against the New England Patriots yesterday in Super Bowl 52. Most Americans tuned into the big game, which is the most watched television event each year. But hundreds of thousands of others, even millions, weren't watching in protest.
     People boycotted the big game because of many players’ ongoing national anthem protest, which began last season by former San Fransisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
     According to a Fox News report, VFWs, American Legions, sports bars and other sports-watching venues nationwide will not be airing the Super Bowl "out of respect for veterans and law enforcement." One veterans’ club in New York posted a sign outside its building that read: "Closed Super Bowl Sunday in honor of our country, our flag, our veterans." Meanwhile, a New Jersey sports bar that began an NFL blackout in November vowed to continue the boycott yesterday. Woody’s Roadside Tavern, in Farmington, closed their doors at 4 p.m. yesterday, losing out on lots of potential business, all in an effort to stand in solidarity with the military and law enforcement. A Knights of Columbus chapter in Longview, Texas, also canceled its Super Bowl watching party "for the reasons that they were disgusted with protests with the national anthem and the flag during the season's football games. The Knights of Columbus are a men’s charitable and religious organization. You watch football on television to get away from politics you see on the networks. And I’ll be darn if they don’t throw it right back in your face in a football game. I quit watching," the group’s leader told KLTV-TV.
     In recent days, a petition circulated online that garnered 200,000 signatures. The signers of that petition said they were boycotting the big game because of the national anthem protests.
     A poll found last week that the number of Americans who planned to watch the Super Bowl dropped 14 percent compared to last year.

U.S. Coast Guard
    
Two men have died after falling into the ice on Michigan's Saginaw Bay. The fatal incident comes roughly one week after two other men were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard on Jan. 27th from Saginaw Bay around one-quarter of a mile north of the "hot ponds" and one nautical mile east of Consumers Energy's Karn Generating Plant in Bay County's Hampton Township.
     U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Michael Batchelder administered the oath of office to incoming Division Commander Tom Stokes and new Vice Division Commander Joe Lewis for 2018 as Auxiliary leaders for the Chesapeake Bay Eastern Shore Division of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
     In Upper Michigan, USCGC Mobile Bay is to host a veterans' support group for a ship ride. Mobile Bay will limit its activity to the defined ice breaking track and make every effort to minimize the cutter's wake and subsequent impact on the surrounding fields of ice.
     The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary recommends using the cold months to inspect your boat's safety equipment to make sure that it ready to go come spring.
     U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 85, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., will conduct a one-day Safe Boating class at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 10th.
     The U.S. Coast Guard has rescued a recently-engaged couple after they lost their boat in the Florida Keys.
     Rescue units were dispatched today and rescued four people from their grounded sailboat off the coast of Guam. Lt. (j.g.) Iia Miller, an enforcement officer and spokeswoman for U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam, confirmed the Coast Guard launched the U.S. Navy's Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 and other units to the scene. Guam Fire and Rescue units were also on scene.
     Richard Smith, an Atlanta resident who lives on his 35-foot cabin cruiser called the Dandy J one week every month at the Twin Dolphin Marina, attended Saturday’s Bradenton (Fla.) Area River Regatta specifically because he is a Formula 2 racing boat fan. "I’m a motorhead, so I really enjoy the hydroplane races," Smith said yesterday as he walked his golden retreiver, Samantha, not far from the Green Bridge under which Formula 2 racing was part of a packed lineup of regatta events that offered something for everyone, including music, fireworks, a U.S. Coast Guard demonstration and rides. "After the first races, I walked over to the pits and talked to some of the drivers, mechanics and learned about their engines. Some of them are called "pickleforks," Smith added of the 10 Formula 2 boats that competed. "That’s the type of boat they are. They have big Mercury racing engines on them. All the engines put out the same horsepower, so who wins the race is up to the driver because the boats are all basically equal." The sight of these boats all competing was thrilling to Smith, who raced boats when he was growing up in New Jersey.
     The Coast Guard suspended its search yesterday for a Dungeness crab fisherman who fell overboard from his 47-foot commercial fishing vessel eight miles west of the South Spit in Humboldt Bay, Calif.
     The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking the public's help in locating the owner of a green kayak floating adrift about a half-mile north of the mouth of the Wailua River on Kauai, Hawaii. A mariner reported finding the unmanned two-person kayak at about 10:25 a.m., Hawaii time, today, the Coast Guard said.
     The second of three new Coast Guard cutters to be stationed in Hawaii arrived today, strengthening the capabilities for search and rescue operations around Hawaii. USCGC Joseph Gerczak sailed into Honolulu Harbor after completing a 42-day voyage from Key West, Fla.
     USCG officials in Charleston, S.C., say they received a called around 7 p.m. on Saturday about a disabled boat taking on water. A Coast Guard helicopter was dispatched from Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, Ga., and crews from both stations worked to rescue the boaters, who were flown to Savannah for treatment.
     And The Greater Fairfield Amateur Radio Association is offering an amateur radio technician class at Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 77's building (Building 5) at 595 Turney Road, in Fairfield, Texas. Classes will run for nine weeks from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Feb. 7th through April 18th. The class costs $50.

Clintons used the FBI against their enemies for years
     It has all the elements of a polarizing scandal, with none other than Hillary Clinton at center stage - plus highly sensitive confidential documents, unexplained actions involving the FBI, and allegations that federal investigators were weaponized for partisan political purposes.
     No, this is not the infamous Christopher Steele dossier containing multiple allegations about Donald Trump’s relationships with shadowy Russian business tycoons and spies. Nor is it about the Steele dossier’s deceitful use by rogue FBI executives to put campaign operatives for the 2016 Republican presidential nominee under official surveillance. That Hillary Clinton/FBI scandal began just last year. The Hillary Clinton/FBI scandal described in the lead paragraph above began in 1993, only months after she and husband Bill began what turned out to be an eight-year residency in the White House. You see, Bill and Hillary Clinton’s use of the FBI for political gain is nothing new.
     Here’s how The Weekly Standard summarized the Clintons’ 1993 "Filegate" scandal when it became the focus of a special counsel investigation in 1996: "The good news is that Whitewater special counsel Kenneth Starr is now looking into the circumstances under which the Clinton White House improperly secured and reviewed highly confidential back- ground information from the FBI on more than 400 Reagan- and Bush-administration employees. A full accounting of this atrocious invasion of privacy may eventually become public. But the bad news is that, in the meantime, the whole story is being set up to disappear. A separate FBI analysis of the 'Filegate' caper has now been released. It is highly critical of the entire enterprise - which seems to have victimized 71 more individuals than had previously been identified."
     But the FBI inquiry does not address the question of White House conduct. Were Clinton’s aides on a dirt-digging expedition? Those aides continue to maintain, in the president’s words, that "it was just an innocent bureaucratic snafu" - computer glitches and procedural carelessness, with no malign intent and no disclosure of personal information. In short: no harm, no foul. That’s long been the Clinton pattern - laws bent, broken or ignored, political opponents smeared, self-righteous protests of innocence when exposed, trusting supporters used and abused, and endless obfuscations, often punctuated by artless evasions, such as Hillary’s bemused response when asked by a reporter if she wiped her server clean: “What, like with a cloth or something?”
     With the release Friday of the four-page "Nunes memo" - a summary of classified information obtained by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and composed by staffers for the panel’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) - one paragraph in particular stands out: "The dossier - compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign - formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and the research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia." The dossier, described to Congress by then-FBI Director James Comey as "salacious and unverified," was the foundational element in the specious narrative peddled by and through the mainstream media since the day after the 2016 election to explain Donald Trump’s astounding defeat of Hillary Clinton. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Trump got his Russian buddies to help him beat Hillary. And even though an internal FBI unit described the dossier as "minimally corroborated," the bureau still used it to obtain and maintain a warrant for turning the massive surveillance power of the federal government against private citizens working for - who else? - Trump.
    Would that surveillance have happened without the dossier? Not according to then-deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, who, according to the Nunes memo, told Congress in December 2017 during closed testimony "that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISA without the Steele dossier information." As Comey might say, "That’s it?" 
     So there we have it yet again: Bill and Hillary Clinton manipulating the administrative, investigative and intelligence powers of the Washington Establishment to benefit themselves and discredit their opponents. Reasonable people wonder if this time the Clintons will, at long last, be held to account.

Major Pentagon agency can't account for $800 million, but may still get a budget increase
    
An audit of the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has revealed that it spent more than $800 million on projects, but it has no idea what that money actually paid for.
     An audit conducted by Ernst & Young found that the agency’s accounting procedures are so flawed that there is no reliable way to track how it uses its $40 billion annual budget. In fact, Ernst & Young implied that the lack of documentation means there could be even more funds the DLA lost track of.
     "We cannot determine the effect of the lack of sufficient appropriate audit evidence on the DLA’s financial statements as a whole," the audit report read.

Homeland insecurity
     The U.S. Department off Homeland Security's Super Bowl security documents were left on a commercial airliner. Before you get off the plane, always check the seat-back pocket for your headphones, any magazines you might want, and those super-sensitive Homeland Security documents outlining how to protect Super Bowl attendees from an anthrax attack. One government scientist apparently didn't.
     Two days after the conclusion of the DHS' Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand outlined the DOJ's continued efforts to combat human trafficking.
     And an ICE and HSI operation has seized around $15.69 million worth of counterfeit sports and entertainment related merchandise, resulting in 65 arrests and 24 convictions. Operation Team Player is a year round effort, from the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, to crack down on the illegal importation of counterfeit sports and entertainment-related goods. This year’s Operation Team Player started at the end of last year’s SuperBowl and it has seen a 16 per cent increase in arrests. Agents targeted retail outlets, street vendors and flea markets to identify and seize contraband items, including fake jerseys, hats and cellphone accessories. Throughout the year, the IPR, which closely coordinates with 23 agencies, has worked with major sporting leagues to identify contraband. ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan, said: "Intellectual property theft is a serious crime, and black-market organizations descend on the Super Bowl and other major sporting events to sell counterfeit goods and substandard merchandise to unsuspecting consumers. ICE agents are committed to investigating the trafficking of counterfeit goods that wreak havoc on local economies, threaten the health and safety of the American public and fund criminal organizations engaged in other illegal activities." David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Global Innovation Policy Center, warned that fans need to be especially vigilant about what they are buying around the time of major sporting events such as the SuperBowl. He said: "Counterfeiters sell substandard products, jeopardize consumers’ personal and financial information, and undermine American jobs and innovation. Fans deserve the real deal: Only purchase known brands from known sellers that bear the official holographic marks of authenticity."

U.S. Army
     A former U.S. Army base in South Korea is gaining a new chapter. Camp Page was one of the first airfields to be built for U.S. forces during the 1950-53 Korean War, and was named in honor of U.S. Army Lt. Col. John U.D. Page, who disrupted a Chinese assault in the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir.
     U.S. Army Secretary Mark Esper with his wife, Lia Esper, have traveled to the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security in the Yavoriv district of the Lviv region, where he familiarized himself with the details of organizing the process of training Ukrainian soldiers under foreign and Ukrainian instructors.
     The U.S. Army, which only two years ago lifted its ban on women serving in infantry and armor jobs, has just opened up three more posts for female service members to fill - including in the elite 101st Airborne Division, dubbed within the military as the "Screaming Eagles."
     Miguel Perez, Jr., has discovered that two tours of duty in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army and an accompanying case of PTSD are no shield from U.S. immigration laws. Because of a 2010 drug conviction, Perez, 39, sits in an ICE detention center in Kenosha, Wis., awaiting possible deportation.
     U.S. forces have begun a drawdown in Iraq after the nation's declaration of the defeat of ISIS there.
     U.S. Army Signal soldiers assigned to the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 2nd Theater Signal Brigade, are testing new tactics, techniques and procedures for providing communications and network support to the multinational exercise Allied Spirit VIII at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany.
     Retired police officer Therron J. (TJ) Phipps has announced that he's running in North Carolina for Guilford County sheriff. Phipps, a Democrat, is a retired commanding officer with the Greensboro Police Department, and was a commanding officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.
     A Benton City, Wash., man's alleged attempt to join the U.S. Army landed him in the Franklin County Corrections Center. According to the Pasco Police, Kerry Brooks, 24, broke into the Washington Army National Guard armory near downtown Pasco and got inside a military Humvee. Police say he managed to start the vehicle and stole it.
     The 678th Air Defense Artillery Brigade of the South Carolina Army National Guard is being deployed to Europe.
     And one Wichita, Kansas, high school used a homecoming pep rally to give a teacher a surprise sendoff before he deploys for a year with the Kansas Army National Guard. Woodworking teacher David Young was surprised to be honored.

UFO news
    
Cheryl Costa keeps a close eye on what people see up in New York's skies. And the writer from Central New York will share stories and statistics at her program "UFOs" at 7 p.m., ET, on Thursday, Feb. 8th, in the Liverpool Public Library’s Carman Community Room.
     Costa is well known in Central New York as the author of the popular Syracuse New Times blog New York Skies, in which she chronicles what’s going on in the world of unidentified flying objects. She’s also gained a national reputation after publishing the book "UFO Sightings Desk Reference, United States of America 2001-2015." That book, full of statistics about sightings around the country, earned a feature story about Costa in The New York Times.
     At the LPL, Costa will include lively accounts of her work, talk about the history of sightings in New York and delve into national, state and Onondaga County statistics. The event is free.


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