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IS THIS THE END OF THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL?

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President Trump stated Wednesday that he had made a decision concerning the Iran Nuclear Deal. In an unusual twist, however, the President refused to announce what it was.

White House National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, has refused to comment on whether President Trump planned to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal. McMaster told NBC’s Today show:

“I’m not saying anything yet about it, but when the announcement is made, it will fit into a  fundamentally sound and broad strategy aimed at addressing Iran’s destabilizing behaviour and  prioritizing protecting American vital interests.”

Seven Democrat senators have written to President Trump demanding evidence that Iran had violated the agreement by October 6th, the certification deadline. They wrote:

“If you are aware of any information that would suggest that Iran is no longer complying  or that would lead the president to conclude that the continued suspension of sanctions  is no longer in the vital national security interests of the United States, we request  that you provide a written report containing such information.”

Similarly, the Republican Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, has expressed the opinion that the US should remain in the deal, despite opposing it two years ago. The senator stated in an interview Wednesday that he believed the Iranians had been complying with the terms of the deal and that the Trump Administration should be focused on curtailing Iran’s ballistic missile program. Paul told Politico:

“Most of the complaints about Iran don’t have anything to do with the agreement.  They complain about ballistic missiles and other things, but that’s not part of the agreement. I think while the agreement’s not perfect, my main concern has always been compliance. But if they’re complying with it, I think we should stay  in it.”

A decision to leave the Iran Nuclear Deal does have its supporters, however. The French President, Emmanuel Macron, commented that the Iraq Nuclear Deal had been ineffectual in safeguarding against Iran’s growing power. Macron stated:

“We need the 2015 accord. Is this accord enough? It is not, given the growing pressure that Iran is applying in the region.”

Similarly, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has stated that Iran’s support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, its ballistic missile test, and its other non-military action undermined efforts to create stability in the Middle East.  Tillerson stated on Wednesday night:

“Regrettably, since the agreement was confirmed we have seen anything but a more peaceful,  stable region. That’s why we talk about Iran defaulting on these expectations because those  expectations clearly have not been met.”

TERRORIST ATTACK IN LONDON

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Terrorists have detonated a bomb on the eastbound district line train at the Parsons Green Tube in West London.

Eyewitnesses reported hearing loud bangs coming from a bucket, possibly an improvised explosive device, located towards the rear of the train around 8am, British time. One eyewitness told Sky News that they reported seeing a “white builder’s bucket” with a “foiled carrier back” (possibly a Lidl supermarket carrier bag). This bucket has also been described as having “wires hanging from it and a strong smell of chemicals… a chemical smell more than a burning smell.”

One witness told BBC 5:

“I heard a really loud explosion – when I looked back there appeared to be a bag but I don’t know if it’s associated with it. I saw people with minor injuries, burnings to the face, arms, legs,  multiple casualties in that way.  People were helping each other.”

Another witness said:

“There were a lot of people limping and covered in blood. One guy I saw, his face was covered in blood – I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Police and ambulances were on the scene within minutes of the blast. The explosion and subsequent stampede caused injuries to twenty-two people. Fortunately, no one has been killed and none of the injuries have been described as life-threatening or critical.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through their Amaq News Agency on Friday evening. British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has raised the UK’s terror threat level from severe to critical.

British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has raised the UK’s terror threat level from severe to critical. May offered her thoughts to “those injured Parsons Green emergency services who are responding bravely to this terrorist incident.” Scotland Yard, meanwhile, has confirmed that they are treating the incident as a terrorist attack.

Over in the US, the Trump administration stated that President Trump’s:

“Sympathies and prayers for those injured in the terrorist attack today in London.  The president pledged to continue close collaboration with the United Kingdom to stop attacks  worldwide targeting innocent civilians and to combat extremism.”

President Trump stated in a speech at Joint Base Andrew that he expressed:

“America’s deepest sympathy as well as our absolute commitment to eradicating the terrorists from  our planet.”

REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS TO MEET AT THE WHITE HOUSE FOR TAX REFORM

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President Trump and members of his administration are about to embark on a focused and deliberate campaign to win support for the President’s planned reforms to the American taxation system.

Both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are focused on winning the support of select members of the Democrat Party after the disastrous attempt to repeal Obamacare in July.

The White House will host a dinner on Tuesday night to be attended by Democratic Senator from North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat Senator from Indiana, Joe Donnelly, Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, Republican Senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch, Republican Senator from South Dakota, John Thune, and Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey.

In addition, Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Indiana three times over the coming weeks in an attempt to convince Donnelly, who is for reelection in 2018, in an attempt to convince him to support tax reform.

GENERAL DUNFORD SPEECH AT 9/11 ANNIVERSARY

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General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, made the following address at the Pentagon:

“Mr. President, Mrs. Trump, Secretary Mattis, members of the Cabinet, distinguished guests, and most importantly, to the family and friends of the fallen, and to those gathered here who survived the attack on the Pentagon, good morning.

It’s an honour to join you as we pause to reflect [on] all those who lost their lives on September 11,  2001. At this ceremony, we are particularly mindful of the 184 who died here in the halls of the Pentagon and aboard Flight 77.

16 years ago when terrorists attacked the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and as they attempted other attacks in Washington D.C., they did so with a sense of purpose. They were attacking symbols that reflect our way of life and our values. The terrorists believed that these attacks would shake our commitment to those values, and as President Bush said hours after the attacks, the terrorists thought they could frighten us into chaos and retreat – but they were wrong.

Instead of retreat, the tragedy of 9/11 produced in us an unyielding resolve. Instead of hopelessness,  our morning turned into action, and we have strengthened our commitment to the idea that the freedom of many should never be endangered by the hatred of a few.

So this morning, as we recall the events of 911, it’s appropriate for those of us still serving to remember and honour those who died, those who continue suffering from injuries, and those left behind.  But if we truly want to honour those remembered today, each of us will walk away from this ceremony with a renewed sense of commitment to our values and the cause of freedom. Each of us will walk away from this  simple ceremony reminded that the war is not over, and that further sacrifice will be required; and each  of us will walk away with resolve to strengthen our personal commitment to protect our family, friends,  and fellow citizens from another 9/11.”

TRUMP DECLARES WAR ON THE OPIOID CRISIS

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President Trump has declared war on the opioid crisis, authorising his administration to use all emergency and other authorities in their power to counteract the problem. This decision came in response to recommendations from the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and Opioid Crisis.

Commenting at his private golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump referred to the opioid crisis as a “tremendous problem in our country, and we’re going to get it taken care of as well as it can be taken care of, which hopefully will be better than any other country which also has the same problem or similar problems.”

Trump went on to say:

“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially right now it is an emergency. It’s a  national emergency. We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis … We’re going to draw it up and we’re going to make it a national emergency. It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had.”

Trump continued:

“You know, when I was growing up they had the LSD and they had certain generations of drugs. There’s never been anything like what’s happened to this country over the last four or five years. And I have to say this in all fairness, this is a worldwide problem, not just a United States problem. This is happening worldwide. But this is a national emergency and we are drawing documents now to so attest.”

Opioids are derived from the opium poppy, or a synthetic imitation thereof, and includes morphine, heroin, tramadol, oxycodone, methadone, and so forth. According to a CBS report from December 20th, more Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016 than anything else.

 

FBI RAIDS PAUL MANAFORT’S HOME

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On July 26th, the FBI raided Paul Manafort’s home in Alexandra, Virginia. The FBI seized documents and other materials from Manafort’s home in relation to the Russia investigation.

Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign chairman, has appeared cooperative to investigators in public. Even going as far as to voluntarily testify before a Senate Intelligence Committee on July 25th.

However, there are clearly questions that the FBI felt still needed to be answered. According to Politico, Federal Investigators approached Manfort’s son-in-law, Jeffrey Yohai, in an attempt to get inside his head.

Peter Zeidenburg, a former prosecutor for the Justice Department, commented:

“It is a big deal. Prosecutors do not take aggressive steps like this with subjects who the government feels are being open and cooperative. And they also do not do this to ‘send a message.’ They do it because they think there is evidence to be found and that if they do not act aggressively, it could be destroyed.”

The simple fact is that obtaining a search warrant usually requires investigators to have a rational reason to believe that there is evidence of a crime. Nor does the FBI execute warrants on cooperating witnesses, they don’t need to.  What the investigation will prove cannot be known. Nevertheless, the President Trump’s Administration has cause for concern.