December 21, 2018

U.S. to remove about 50% of its troops from Afghanistan. “In what appears to be the first major step toward ending America’s involvement in a war fought for nearly two decades, the president has decided to cut the US military presence in Afghanistan in half, The Wall Street Journal reported. There are currently roughly 14,000 American service members in the war-torn country.”

Homeland Security official says some asylum seekers will have to wait outside the U.S. for their applications to be processed. “Asylum seekers from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador must wait outside the United States until their immigration proceedings are concluded, according to a Department of Homeland Security official speaking on background during a conference call with reporters Thursday morning.”   And if they get killed or beaten or jailed while waiting, that’s just tough.

Ohio Elections Commission dismisses minor parties’ debate exclusion complaints. “The complaints also claimed that because the DeWine and Cordray (gubernatorial) campaigns helped organize the televised debates, the events should be considered illegal campaign contributions.”

North Korea refuses to unilaterally disarm itself of nuclear weapons. “It’s clear that the North intends to keep its nukes and turn the diplomatic process into a bilateral arms reduction negotiation with the United States, rather than a process where it unilaterally surrenders its program.”

Leaders of Turkey and Iran agree to cooperate on Syria. “”The fate of Syria should be determined only by the people of Syria. Everyone should respect Syria’s territorial integrity and we (Iran and Turkey) completely agree on this,” Rouhani said.”   Does this ‘respect for Syria’s territorial integrity’ include removing their troops and tanks, and ending their air strikes?

French troops are remaining in Syria. “French Defense Minister Florence Parly in a tweet acknowledged that the Islamic State militant group has been weakened, but added that the battle was not over.”

CNN claims U.S. is ‘among the deadliest countries’ for journalists due to a mass shooting in an Annapolis, Maryland newsroom by an angry article subject and two killed when a tree fell on their car while covering a hurricane. “Ahead of the United States and India  on the list (six journalists killed in each country) are Afghanistan with 15 journalists killed, Syria with 11, Mexico with nine and Yemen with eight.”

Former Nissan Motors CEO Carlos Ghosn rearrested on third set of accusations. “The prolonged detention of a prominent global business leader has drawn attention to the ability of Japanese prosecutors to hold suspects for extended periods without formally charging them.”   Oh, there’s more, but you’ll hear about that from Carlos and his American assistant when they are eventually released on bail, like the daily, 8 hour interrogation sessions without legal counsel.

Trump signs Farm Bill, legalizing hemp farming. “Ultimately, the Farm Bill will end the era of hemp prohibition and would deem that hemp is an agricultural commodity and is removed from the Controlled Substances Act where it is no longer mistaken as a controlled substance, like marijuana.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross accused of failing to sell stock he promised to sell in order to satisfy ethics regulations. “Ross twice submitted disclosure reports to federal ethics officials saying he had divested the stock — once in a transaction report from May 2017 and another time in his annual financial disclosure from August 2018. But in October, Ross filed another transaction report with ethics officials acknowledging he had had not divested the BankUnited stock when he said he did — and continued to own it until October 1, 2018.”

Works published in 1923 will soon enter the public domain, after a long delay thanks to a change in the copyright law. “We have never seen such a mass entry into the public domain in the digital age. The last one—in 1998, when 1922 slipped its copyright bond—predated Google.”

Justice Department lawyer tells federal judge there are secret reasons why they can’t release a list of companies who were eventually allowed to reveal they had received ‘national security letters’ that required them to hand over information on their customers, in total secrecy, without receiving a court order or a warrant. “In court on Thursday, Justice Department lawyer Julia Heiman argued that unmasking companies who were cleared to talk about receiving the letters would reveal sensitive information about law enforcement techniques…. Hieman insisted the government has other compelling reasons to prevent the disclosure, but said she could not share them in public.”

Homeland Security chief testifies before House Judiciary Committee, claims she has no idea how many migrants have died in DHS custody. Rep. David Cicilline: “Madam Secretary, did I understand you correctly to say that as you sit here today, you do not know how many human beings have died while in the custody of the department that you lead?”…. Kirstjen Nielsen: “I will get back to you with the number.”


December 21, 2018

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