Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held more than two hours of frank conversation Wednesday in the Kremlin amid tensions over a U.S. airstrike against a Syria air base blamed for last week’s deadly chemical attack. The unscheduled talks between Putin and the secretary came as Moscow warned against the U.S. repeating its missile strike on a Syrian air base.

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at left … Russian President Vladimir Putin right

In an interview broadcast Wednesday before the meeting with Tillerson, Putin said relations with the U.S. have worsened in the first few months of Trump’s presidency.

“It can be said that the level of trust at the working level, especially at the military level, has not become better but most likely has degraded,” he told state broadcaster Mir TV.

Putin also charged that the U.S. broke international law by striking the air base without providing evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met

The meeting lasted for almost two hours to see if they could rescue relations between the world’s mightiest military powers. Russia’s alleged meddling in the U.S. presidential election also hovered over the first face-to-face encounter between Putin and a Trump administration Cabinet member.

It was not the first meeting between the two men. Tillerson, as CEO of ExxonMobil, forged a close relationship with the Russian leader over business dealings in the past. In 2013, Putin personally awarded Tillerson the Russian Order of Friendship when the two met to negotiate ExxonMobil’s $50 billion deal for Russian oil and gas rights.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov  and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met and spoke to the press after the Putin-Tillerson meeting

Tillerson and Lavrov spoke to the press after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in an extended display of US-Russian disagreements over the chemical attack that left more than 80 dead; the role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s future; US actions in the Middle East; and Russian involvement in the US election.

Still, the two diplomats hinted that they could find common ground on this issue. Tillerson said that the US wouldn’t dictate how Assad’s departure takes place, saying, "We leave that to the process going forward," and added that it’s important his departure "is done in an orderly way" and that it will "take a pace of its own."

Lavrov, meanwhile, said that Russia is "not staking everything on a personality … we are simply insisting that everybody sits around the table and talks about it."

Lavrov also announced that Putin has agreed to reinstate a military "deconfliction" channel to ensure there are no unintended clashes in the skies above Syria. And Tillerson said that the two sides had agreed to establish a working group that would address smaller frictions and aim to make progress on larger differences.

The news conference came after Lavrov issued a warning to Tillerson Wednesday against any further US strikes on the Syrian regime. Russia is Syria’s most powerful ally.

Russia has rejected the US conclusion that Damascus was responsible for last week’s chemical attack, which killed 89 people and prompted the US to carry out its first strike against the Syrian regime in the six-year conflict, taking out aircraft and infrastructure at a Syrian military air base.

"The facts we have are conclusive" that the attack was planned and carried by Syrian government forces, Tillerson said, adding that the US was "quite confident of that" and describing it as "just the latest in a series of uses of chemical weapons by the Assad regime."

Lavrov countered, "It is perfectly obvious the subject is one we diverge on." He floated an alternate theory that "some of these stockpiles are being controlled by extremists," and added, "Russia is insisting on an objective investigation" and will protest if it does not take place.

Tillerson said he told the Russian leader that current relations between the two countries are at a "low point" … "There is a low level of trust between our two countries" … "The world’s two foremost nuclear owners cannot have this kind of relationship."

Lavrov said that the U.S. and Russia have agreed on the need for a United Nations probe of the Syrian chemical attack … an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the chemical attack and the U.S. response to "try and identify the culprits" … a step that could dial down the rhetoric between the two nations for now.

The two sides expressed their agreement over the need to defeat the Islamic State in the region. Lavrov said defeating the terrorist group is a more important priority than Assad remaining in power. Lavrov also that Putin could restore a military hotline with the U.S. if Washington focuses on fighting the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

Both officials addressed the question of allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. elections. Tillerson said there was no talk of additional sanctions in the wake of U.S. charges over the issue, but noted that it was an issue raised by Congress. "We are mindful of the seriousness of that particular interference in our elections and I am sure that Russia is mindful of it as well." Lavrov, echoing past denials of any Russian hacking or other interference in the electoral process, said Moscow hasn’t seen “a single fact, or even a hint at facts” proving the U.S. allegations of Russian interference.

President Trump launched 59 Tomahawk E Cruise Missiles on Syria causing severe damage to Shayrat air base in Syria, southeast of Homs. Russia also uses this base and has invested heavily in it. U.S. intelligence believes that a deadly gas attack on Syrian civilians was carried out by government aircraft from the Shayrat air base.

Cruise Missiles

Two U.S. destroyers, the USS Ross and USS Porter, launched the Tomahawk cruise missiles south of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and hit their targets at at 3:45 a.m. local time in Syria. Each destroyer carries about 35 Tomahawks. U.S. officials said there were up to 100 Russian military personnel present at the base when the missiles hit. The Russians were warned about an hour before the missiles hit the base, defense officials said.

The Tomahawk “E” or Echo version is the latest model and has two-way satellite communication allowing the missile to be reprogrammed in flight if needed. The missiles can carry 1,000-pound warheads.

The U.S. launched the cruise missiles in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians, the first direct assault on Syria since the beginning of that country’s bloody civil war in 2011.

The U.S. began launching airstrikes in Syria in September 2014 under President Barack Obama as part of its coalition campaign against ISIS, but has only targeted the terrorist group and not Syrian government forces … until today under President Trump.

Russia’s Response: Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the US airstrikes on Syria, describing it as "an act of aggression against a sovereign state" that "dealt a serious blow to Russia-US relations," according to a Kremlin statement. Russia said it believed Syria had destroyed all of its chemical weapons and the US strikes were based on a "trumped-up pretext." The risk of a direct collision between the US and Russia in Syria had "significantly increased" since the US missile strike, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Peskov added that it was "indisputable" that the US airstrike on Syria "was carried out for the benefit of ISIS and other terrorist organizations."

A Russian warship, likely loaded with the newest Russian Cruise Missiles, has entered the eastern Mediterranean. Its destination and target is unclear. 

Captain Rick: I wonder if this is the beginning of World War 3?  I think President Trump made a poor choice, buckling in to FAKE NEWS and the US Intelligence Machine, all of which I think are very corrupt. In the process President Trump is blowing a big chance to gain a friendship with a very intelligent person … President Vladimir Putin of Russia … a person I consider to be one of the most intelligent leaders of our world. As a huge supporter of President Trump, I am saddened by his actions, which cast him into the same war monger group that contains both U.S. Presidents Bush.  I hope that President Trump will recapture his own mind, like he presented during campaign season and stop bowing into FAKE NEWS and question the info he is receiving from the very corrupt U.S. Intelligence Machine.  

Captain Rick: It was shortly after Donald Trump announced his run for president that I knew in my heart he was going to go all the way. I sensed the strong movement among Americans who longed to ‘Make America Great Again’ way back when FAKE NEWS and the GOP were fast asleep, content with the political cancer in DC.

Unlike todays FAKE NEWS journalists who mostly communicate via social media … Captain Rick, a REAL NEWS journalist actually walked the streets and trails to talk face-to-face with real people to find out how they were thinking and feeling. That is why Captain Rick knew that a revolution was brewing in America. That revolution thrust Trump into the White House and shocked FAKE NEWS and the GOP. It is time for the GOP to learn from its mistakes and promote the election of candidates who support the Trump movement towards Making America Great Again.

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This Atridim News Journal blog on WordPress is accompanied by its companion Atridim News Journal blog on Facebook. It was there in early 2016 that Captain Rick began publishing weekly projections of how the large field of presidential candidates ranked. Looking back, Captain Rick called all of the rankings with perfection, while FAKE NEWS got it all so wrong, week after week. Its all on record for the world to review on ANJ on Facebook. A window is provided in the left column that shows ANJ blog posts on Facebook. Helpful info links are presented below.

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Captain Rick: I discovered a great commentary by a fellow WordPress journalist that offers a fresh and intelligent perspective of the growing friendship between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. While Obama’s support for Israel is waning, Israel is looking to Russia for increased security and its ability to act as a peacekeeper with Iran, which Russia has close ties with. Atridim News Journal has long viewed Vladimir Putin as one of the most intelligent leaders of the world. The commentary makes it apparent that Benjamin Netanyahu realizes that intelligence. I hope that the ‘Washington Clowns’ in DC and the news media start getting the real message and stop the ‘Putin Bashing’. I hope to see a future President Donald Trump become friends with Vladimir Putin and stop the Cold War that is rapidly growing between the U.S. and Russia. Ronald Reagan, who helped bring down the Berlin Wall, would love to see the Cold War replaced with peace and friendship between the two superpowers. I am pleased to reblog this excellent journalism by Jonathan Fenton-Harvey.

Jonathan Fenton-Harvey

putin netanyahu

For the third time in less than a year, Benjamin Netanyahu and Vladimir Putin met face to face this week. Quite noteworthy, if one considers that Mr Netanyahu and Barack Obama have only met once in the same period. Nonetheless, both leaders engaged in a high-spirited encounter; the Washington Post even labelled the meeting as a ‘Bromance’. These negotiations were vital not just for Israel’s future, but for the stability of the Middle East.

Pressing issues were discussed between Mr Netanyahu and Mr Putin. Among them were the Israel-Palestine dispute, Israel’s counter-terrorism concerns – especially regarding Hezbollah, and economic ties between Russia and Israel.

No doubt this will bring a sigh of relief to many. After all, fears of a conflict intensified in April, when Israeli and Russian air-forces reportedly almost clashed over the disputed Golan Heights. This threat has evaporated. And with Israel still being a somewhat stranded nation…

View original post 450 more words

Captain Rick : U.S. Labor Report disappoints those looking for a job and paints a stagnant image of the U.S. Economy as it continues its course toward Socialism.

The Labor Department reported the U.S. economy added only 151,000 jobs in January, well below expectations for 190,000 jobs. The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.9% from 5% the month prior, while forecasts called for it to remain unchanged. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate rose to 62.7% from 62.6%, despite expectations for it to hold steady. Its all a sign of America headed toward Socialism.

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This Labor Report sends a cold chill for the U.S. Economy …

The creation of only 151,000 jobs is very weak considering it is only 0.56 % of U.S. population (323 million). That does not even equal the U.S. population growth rate which is about 0.7% … which means that job growth is not only stagnant, but going in reverse. The U.S. still has not recovered millions of jobs lost during the Great Recession.

The unemployment rate of 4.9% is totally bogus … its meaningless. It only represents the minority of job seekers that are still receiving unemployment compensation. The real unemployment rate is more than twice as high. Most job seekers have exhausted their benefits, still looking for work with no income, are working a part-time job to make ends meet or have given up looking for work.

Perhaps the most important statistic in the labor  report is the drop in the Labor Force Participation Rate … to just 62.6%. It means that about 1/3 of eligible U.S. workers are not working. Some retired early and are living off of savings. Some have managed to work the system and are living off of welfare benefits, including many who have managed to acquire ‘Disability’ status and are collecting U.S. Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) and some who are being supported by friends or relatives and some who are homeless. The Labor Force Participation rate has been in steady decline since its peak of 67.3% in 2000. This trend is a vivid indicator of America’s march toward Socialism.

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Captain Rick of Atridim News Journal: Russian President Vladimir Putin is one of the world’s most intelligent leaders, while President Obama ‘speaks down’ of him, as do many U.S. presidential contenders and much of the western world news media.

I am encouraged by an apparent bonding between Putin and Trump. It reminds me of the bond between President Ronald Reagan and Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that helped tear down the Berlin Wall in 1989. I believe we are witnessing the beginning of a bonding of two great minds for the betterment of America and the world.

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Donald Trump has said that he would "get along very well" with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The feeling is apparently mutual. Putin offered high praise for the billionaire businessman-turned-Republican presidential front-runner on Thursday during an annual news conference with reporters. "He is a bright and talented person without any doubt," Putin said, adding that Trump is "an outstanding and talented personality." And in remarks closely mirroring Trump’s assessment of the campaign, Putin called Trump "the absolute leader of the presidential race." Later Thursday, Trump returned the warm words "It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond. I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect."

While most Republican presidential contenders have demonized the Russian president — including calling him a "gangster" and a "thug" — and pushed plans to isolate Russia on the world stage, Trump has instead touted his ability to improve Washington-Moscow relations by working with the iron-fisted Russian leader.

Trump said in October that he and Putin "are very different"; but suggested that the two men could move beyond the frigid relations that have come to define U.S.-Russia relations under President Barack Obama. "I think that I would at the same time get along very well with him. He does not like Obama at all. He doesn’t respect Obama at all. And I’m sure that Obama doesn’t like him very much," Trump said then. "But I think that I would probably get along with him very well. And I don’t think you’d be having the kind of problems that you’re having right now."

Putin referenced Trump’s reported desire "to reach another, deeper level of relations" with Russia in his remarks Thursday. "What else can we do but to welcome it? Certainly, we welcome it," Putin said.

While fellow Republican contenders have been highly skeptical of stepped up Russian military involvement in Syria, Trump has welcomed it. Trump suggested in his September "60 Minutes" appearance that the U.S. should avoid deepening its involvement in Syria, instead allowing Russia to take a leading role in combating the radical Islamist group that has called for attacks on the U.S. "Russia wants to get rid of ISIS. We want to get rid of ISIS. Maybe let Russia do it. Let them get rid of ISIS" Trump said.

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Captain Rick

Captain Rick : By now your MasterCard, Visa and other credit cards have the new EMV microchip. All U.S. merchants need to have the new chip readers installed and operational by October 1, 2015 or they face increased responsibility to cover losses if someone goes shopping with a stolen credit card.

EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the companies that created the standard in the mid-1990s. Its a years-in-the-making liability shift aimed at prodding American merchants into finally adopting a more secure payment technology that is ubiquitous in Europe and Canada but still rare in the United States. Starting next month, retailers that haven’t upgraded their payment systems to read EMV microchips — the small, metallic rectangles that are increasingly prevalent on the front of American charge cards — will bear the financial liability for some fraudulent charges. (Gas stations have an extra two years to make the switch for charges from their fuel pumps.) 
 
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How it works: The credit card is inserted into the bottom of the card reader and remains there until the transaction is finalized (instead of being swiped down its side). The chip on the card generates a unique code that is validated by the issuing bank. This makes the cards harder to copy than the magnetic strip.

The merchant hardware (up to $600 per terminal) and software ($Thousands) required is expensive. Walmart and Target are among the few companies already using the new technology. 27% of U.S. merchants will be ready by the deadline. The old card swipe readers will continue to work for consumers while the balance of merchants switch to using the new technology.

I experienced my first credit card chip transaction about a month ago at Walmart. I swiped my card as usual. The cashier said “you have to insert your card in the chip slot”. I asked “were is that?” The cashier replied “at the bottom”. I inserted my credit card in the slot at the bottom. It did not work because I inserted the wrong end of the card. Once I inserted the end with the chip face up, it worked, but I made the mistake of pulling it back out. The card needs to stay inserted during the entire transaction. Those standing in line, the cashier and I all had a good laugh. It was a learning experience for me. Another transaction a few days later was executed perfectly on the first try. I am a pro now. When it is time to pay, I  ask “is your chip reader is working.” Most say “no not yet. It should be working by October 1.”  In any case, I can conclude that this “old dog is not too old to learn a new trick”. 

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