Patterico's Pontifications


UAE Tanker missing in Strait of Hormuz (UPDATED)

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 8:26 am

[Headline from DRJ]

United Arab Emirates oil tanker vanishes after drifting into Iranian waters:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Tracking data shows an oil tanker based in the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz drifted off into Iranian waters and stopped transmitting its location over two days ago, raising concerns Tuesday about its status amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US.

It isn’t clear what happened to the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Riah late on Saturday night.

However, its last position showed it pointing toward Iran. Oil tankers have previously been targeted as the Persian Gulf region took center stage in a crisis over Iran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

A former Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander recently threatened to seize a British oil tanker in retribution for the British Royal Marines detaining an oil tanker in Gibraltar last Thursdsy. It was suspected of carrying oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

Iran described the seizure as a dangerous game, and Britain said it would release the tanker if Iran provided certain assurances.

UPDATE: Iran Says Missing Tanker Had Problems and Was Towed for Repairs:

The disappearance was first reported by CNN, which said U.S. intelligence increasingly believed the tanker had been forced into Iranian waters by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps but that some Gulf sources suggested the ship simply broke down and was towed by Iran.

Earlier, a United Arab Emirates official said the ship isn’t owned or operated by the U.A.E. and hadn’t sent out a distress call.

While details are unclear, if the Riah was seized, it would seem an unusual target for Iran. The vessel is 30 years old and tiny. Its capacity is 2,000 dead weight tons, according to the MarineTraffic website. That’s only a fraction of the almost 160,000-ton capacity of the British Heritage, the U.K. oil tanker harassed by Iranian ships last week while exiting the Persian Gulf.

Coincidentally, it had to turn off its tracker, too.

UPDATE 7/18/2019: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards impound foreign ship in the Gulf: state TV

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has seized a foreign ship smuggling fuel in the Gulf, state television quoted Iran’s elite force as saying in a statement on Thursday.
Iranian state TV earlier said the seized vessel was the same one Iran towed after it sent a distress call on Sunday, but there was no confirmation of this in the statement issued by the Revolutionary Guards about the impounded vessel.



China threatens Trade Freeze over Taiwan Sales

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 7:10 am

[Headline from DRJ]

China says will freeze out U.S. companies that sell arms to Taiwan:

China’s government and Chinese companies will cut business ties with U.S. firms selling arms to Taiwan, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday, declining to give details of the sanctions in a move likely to worsen already poor ties with Washington.

China claims self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as its own and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under Beijing’s control. China regularly calls Taiwan the most sensitive issue in its relations with the United States.

Last week, the Pentagon said the U.S. State Department had approved the sale of the weapons requested by Taiwan, including 108 General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) M1A2T Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger missiles, which are manufactured by Raytheon (RTN.N).

Should Trump be the only leader allowed to use trade as a weapon?



Terror Attack in Somalia kills 26, including 2 Americans

Filed under: International,Terrorism — DRJ @ 7:24 am

[Headline from DRJ]

BBCKismayo attack: At least 26 dead as gunmen storm Somali hotel:

A suicide bomber rammed a car containing explosives into the Asasey hotel in the port of Kismayo, and gunmen then stormed the building.

Journalist Hodan Naleyah and her husband are thought to be among the dead.

Islamist group al-Shabab has claimed the attack.

The article notes that while terror attacks are common in Mogadishu, “after al-Shabab was driven out of Kismayo in 2012 the port has been relatively peaceful.” The report also notes al-Shabab is affiliated with al-Qaeda.



UK Diplomat Resigns

Filed under: International,Politics — DRJ @ 6:16 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

The GuardianKim Darroch quits as UK ambassador to US ‘after Johnson remarks:

Sir Kim Darroch, the UK ambassador to Washington who has been at the centre of a diplomatic row over leaked cables criticising Donald Trump, has resigned.

The Guardian understands he concluded that his position was untenable after watching Tuesday’s Conservative leadership debate, in which the frontrunner, Boris Johnson, stopped short of backing him.

In a letter to Simon McDonald, the most senior official at the Foreign Office, Darroch said the row, in which Trump called the ambassador “a pompous fool” and “very stupid”, meant he could not continue.

Johnson, the apparent next PM, is getting pressure for not supporting the Ambassador:

Darroch’s decision will put pressure on Johnson, who was criticised by some Conservatives after Tuesday night’s debate for refusing to give Darroch his support, even as his rival, Jeremy Hunt, said he would expect the ambassador to stay in post until his planned retirement.

When pressed on the point, Johnson gave only mild criticism of Trump and said a good relationship with the US was “of fantastic importance”.

Sir Alan Duncan, a Foreign Office minister, said Johnson had thrown Darroch “under the bus to serve his own personal interests ” and accused him of “contemptible negligence”.

Meanwhile, at the Daily Mail:

The Purell president: Germaphobe Trump tells visitors to wash their hands in bathroom near Oval Office and an aide follows him with bottle of hand sanitizer – but staff escape from him by faking a cough.

Diplomacy isn’t just for Ambassadors. Trump’s staff uses it, too.



Leaked UK Documents Tar Trump (UPDATED)

Filed under: International,Politics — DRJ @ 8:38 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

Daily MailBritain’s man in the US says Trump is ‘inept': Leaked secret cables from ambassador say the President is ‘uniquely dysfunctional and his career could end in disgrace’:

Britain’s Ambassador to Washington has described Donald Trump as ‘inept’, ‘insecure’ and ‘incompetent’ in a series of explosive memos to Downing Street.

Sir Kim Darroch, one of Britain’s top diplomats, used secret cables and briefing notes to impugn Trump’s character, warning London that the White House was ‘uniquely dysfunctional’ and that the President’s career could end in ‘disgrace’.

His bombshell comments risk angering the notoriously thin-skinned President and undermining the UK’s ‘special relationship’ with America.

The Guardian has the bottom line:

Sometimes leaks from within the government are striking not just for their content, but also for the motive behind them.

The content of telegrams sent from Washington by Kim Darroch, Britain’s ambassador to the US, and disclosed by the Mail on Sunday, is a case in point. The leak is also striking for what it tell us about the struggle for influence at the top of a Boris Johnson-led Conservative party.


Much will depend on how the president, and the most likely new British prime minister react. The danger is that Trump will tweet something dismissive, but then harbour a deep grudge against Britain’s professional diplomatic service. Some might tell him the Whitehall machine is a nest of snobbish anti-populist opponents of Brexit.

The real challenge though is actually facing the likely next prime minister, Boris Johnson, who prides himself on his proximity to the Trump family, including Jared Kushner, despite their quite different personalities.

One of the first decisions on the in tray for a Johnson premiership will be a replacement for Kim Darroch, who is due to depart at the end of the year anyway.

Politics: It’s not just in America.

UPDATE 7/8/2019 — Maturity is for Losers: Trump: We Will No Longer Deal With The British Ambassador Who Criticized Me In Private Diplomatic Cables.



Cory Booker goes to Juarez

Filed under: Immigration,International — DRJ @ 6:54 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

El Paso Times — Presidential candidate Cory Booker visits Juárez to help escort migrants seeking asylum:

JUÁREZ, Mexico — Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker walked five Cuban and Honduran asylum seekers over an international bridge Wednesday.

The New Jersey senator was joined by attorneys from Las Americas and organizers with the group Families Belong Together, in escorting the five women over the bridge, their faces obscured by manila folders.

Las Americas attorney Linda Rivas said the women were victims of sexual assault and labor trafficking in Juárez and intended to claim fear of returning to the border city. Rivas said Booker “is supporting our clients in his role as a senator, which is a pretty powerful support.”


Undermining a Republican President’s foreign policies is what some Democratic Senators do.



Immigration News: Trump Signs Border Aid Bill; El Salvador on Board?

Filed under: Immigration,International — DRJ @ 8:45 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

Yesterday, Dana posted Political Cartoonist Depicts President Trump Standing Over Two Drowned Migrants. The underlying story involved an El Salvadoran migrant, Óscar Martínez, and his daughter Valeria who sadly drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande.

Father and daughter have been buried in El Salvador and its President said, Óscar Martínez drowning: El Salvador takes blame:

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele has said his country is to blame for the death of a father and daughter who drowned while trying to reach the US.

Mr Bukele told the BBC his government had to fix the issues that forced people to migrate in the first place.

Mr Bukele, who took office a month ago, promised he would work to make El Salvador a safer and better place.

President Trump signed HR 3401 into law yesterday. His Remarks are worth reading. He uses his familiar rambling style but addresses how this involves many players — Congress, the courts, the countries to our South — as well as our economy and the asylum and immigration policies that bring migrants here.


Trump Strategery

Filed under: Economics,International — DRJ @ 8:08 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

The FederalistListen To What Happens When Donald Trump Gets Asked Real Questions By A Media Interviewer (March 2016):

“I am a conservative,” Trump said. “I’m not so conservative when it comes to the pure aspects of trade… I believe in free trade, which is nice and conservative,” he said before repeating his usual talking points about being a tougher negotiator with other countries by threatening to implement costly tariffs on imported goods.

“It’ll never happen,” Trump said of a tariff. “But you have the threat out there.”

“Well you’re a much better negotiator than I am,” Sykes said. “But you just said it’ll never happen, so you’ve basically said your negotiating ploy is a bluff.”

Trump stammered and repeatedly insisted that other countries like China, India, and Mexico are “killing us.”

The HillTrump, Kudlow ‘had it out’ after contradiction on who is hurt by tariffs: report (May 2019):

Trump’s former nominee to join the Federal Reserve Board, Stephen Moore, told the Post that the president is unlikely to back down from his threats for more tariff action against China unless a deal is struck to address U.S. concerns with U.S.-China trade policy.

I don’t see him crying uncle anytime soon,” said Moore. “It’s a high-risk strategy, but it’s not in his personality to back down. This goes back to what he said that first time he came down the escalator at Trump Tower.”

Why back down when it’s not his money at risk?



Boris Johnson on Liberalism

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 7:10 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

Daily Mail‘If we want to uphold liberal values, we must leave by October 31 – and we will': Boris Johnson blasts Putin over his attacks on the West and claim liberalism has become ‘obsolete’:

Boris Johnson lashed out at Russian President Vladimir Putin today over his claim that liberalism is dead.

The would-be PM delivered a furious retort, saying Britain was the best modern example of the ‘triumph of liberal values’.

He also insisted the best way of upholding liberalism was to honour the referendum result from 2016 and leave the EU by Halloween.

In an interview before the G20 summit in Japan, Mr Putin said ‘the liberal idea has become obsolete’, jibing that it now conflicts with the interests of the majority.

Johnson combined a defense of British liberalism with criticism of Putin’s Russia:

The former foreign secretary Mr Johnson praised Britain for successfully marrying democracy and the rule of law – as well as describing the UK as a world leader in technology, culture and financial services.

‘The country that possesses these essential building blocks of liberalism will succeed; the country without them will – eventually – face disaster,’ Mr Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

‘I don’t want to put too fine a point on it, Vladimir, but there are some countries where capitalism is believed to be in the hands of oligarchs and cronies, where journalists are shot, and where ‘liberal values’ are derided… and where real incomes have declined for each of the past five years.’

Mr Johnson told a Conservative leadership hustings in Exeter on Friday that the Russian President was ‘totally wrong’.

I think this is a link to Putin’s “liberalism has outlived its purpose” interview, which was conducted by the Financial Times in the Kremlin and published June 27, 2019.


Protecting the Press/Politician

Filed under: International,Politics — DRJ @ 6:37 am

[Headlines from DRJ]


Stephanie Grisham replaced Sarah Sanders as White House press secretary only recently, but Grisham reportedly has already been injured on the job.

Grisham suffered bruises when a scuffle broke out Sunday between North Korean security guards and members of the media trying to get close to President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as they met at the Demilitarized Zone, the Associated Press reported.

The new press secretary was reportedly pushing back against the guards, trying to help members of the White House press corps position themselves to cover the historic moment between Trump and Kim.

Three years ago:

Aronberg and a deputy prosecutor who oversaw the case, Adrienne Ellis, said key evidence against charging Lewandowski was Fields’ leaving an assigned press area and entering a “protective bubble” maintained by Secret Service agents. She then reached out and “brushed or touched” Trump with her left hand. Trump “recoiled,” and Lewandowski, who was just behind them, pulled her away.

“We’re not charging him because he was reacting to what he perceived as a potential threat,” Ellis said.

The prosecutors said they’d relied on an affidavit submitted by a former FBI agent describing how Secret Service agents often created the “protective bubble” to keep unauthorized people, including the press, from the candidate, and that campaign workers often assisted in clearing a “safe pathway.

Good press or bad press? Depends on whether they help the politician.


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