Trump doubles down on his promise to ‘save’ Social Security a day after suggesting he was open to cuts in the program

President Trump sought to defend his Social Security record in a Thursday afternoon tweet, accusing Democrats of wanting to “destroy” it and pledging he would “save” it — only a day after he suggested he was open to overhauling it alongside Medicare. 

Trump said: “Democrats are going to destroy your Social Security. I have totally left it alone, as promised, and will save it!”

The comments came only a day after he suggested in a CNBC interview that he was open to overhauling both social safety-net programs, saying it was “the easiest of all things” and it would happen at the “right” moment after the election. 

White House spokesperson Judd Deere defended the administration’s record on entitlements in an email to Business Insider on Wednesday, saying, “With no benefit cuts, President Trump is keeping his commitment to the most vulnerable Americans especially those who depend on Medicare and Social Security.”

Deere added: “His budgets have proposed more savings to mandatory programs than any President in history, including lowering drug costs, eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse, and getting people off welfare and back to work.”

Trump faced significant criticism from Democrats after his remarks on the entitlement programs aired on CNBC. Both Social Security and Medicare are highly popular with voters.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a leading presidential candidate, said in a Wednesday tweet that Trump “lied” about his 2016 campaign pledge to guard both programs from cuts.

And Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another frontrunner, also pounced, saying she would “fight” to expand Social Security instead.

[Business Insider]

Trump Just Called Climate Scientists ‘Foolish Fortune Tellers’

Despite a growing mountain of evidence that shows the world is careening towards a climate catastrophe, symbolized this month by the devastating bushfires in Australia, President Donald Trump thinks that “this is not a time of pessimism, this is a time for optimism.”

In his remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday morning, Trump spent the vast majority of his speech reeling off a laundry list of economic indicators that showed just how strong the U.S. economy is. But he finished his address by attacking climate change activists and scientists who have been raising the alarm about the plight of the planet.

“Fear and doubt is not a good thought process,” Trump said. “Because this is a time for tremendous hope and joy and optimism in action. But to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom, and their predictions of the apocalypse.”

Trump once again repeated the lie that the U.S. has “the cleanest air in the world” when, in fact, his administration has made the air quality in the U.S. worse. According to the Environmental Performance Index, a metric from environmental scientists at Yale and Columbia, the U.S. ranks 10th when it comes to clean air quality.

Trump also said that today’s climate scientists are simply repeating errors of the past when “foolish fortune tellers…predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the 70s, and an end of oil in the 1990s.”

Climate change is a hot topic at Davos this year, and an hour before Trump took the stage, Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish activist who the U.S. president has criticized for her outspoken opinions and “anger management issues,” told the world’s elite that they have done “basically nothing” to avert a climate catastrophe.

“Pretty much nothing has been done since the global emissions of CO2 has not reduced,” Thunberg said. “If you see it from that aspect, what has concretely been done, if you see it from a bigger perspective, basically nothing, it will require much more than this, this is just the very beginning.”

Trump labeled activists like Thunberg “alarmists” who are simply seeking “absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives.”

“We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy, wreck our country, or eradicate our liberty,” Trump added.

Thunberg said the world needed to pay attention to the findings of the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which shows that in order to have the best chance at keeping the rise in global temperatures to under 1.5 degrees, countries must limit carbon emissions to a collective 420 gigatons.

She added that people often assume that “future generations will somehow suck hundreds of billions of tonnes of CO2 out of the atmosphere, even though such technology doesn’t exist yet.”

One of those people appears to be Trump, who made a cryptic reference to some unknown scientific breakthrough that would solve the current crisis.

“We’re continuing to work on things that you’ll be hearing about in the near future,” Trump said. “You’ll be hearing about it but we have found the answers to things people said, would not be possible certainly not in a very short period of time.”

[Vice]

Trump promotes violence in support of white supremacist rally in Virginia

President Donald Trump slammed Virginia Democrats over several gun violence prevention measures they’re looking to pass in the state, as a white supremacist group gears up to protest at an annual gun rights rally outside the state capitol. 

“Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia,” the president tweeted on Friday evening. “That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!” 

Trump’s tweet came shortly after law enforcement arrested three suspected white supremacists in Maryland and Delaware who had allegedly talked about opening fire at Monday’s pro-gun rally.

The suspects belong to a violent white-supremacist group called “the Base,” whose aim is “to accelerate the downfall of the US government, incite a race war and establish a white ethno-state,” according to an affidavit filed in Georgia court, as The Wall Street Journal reported.

Several other members of the Base were arrested throughout the country this week on different charges. 

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, announced Wednesday that the state would temporarily ban firearms in Capitol Square prior to Monday’s rally, citing the arrests and threat of a shooting. 

Gun rights groups appealed Northam’s decision, but a federal appeals court judge upheld the temporary gun ban on Thursday, writing that “the Second Amendment right to bear arms is not unlimited.” 

“This is the right decision,” Northam said in a Thursday statement about the ruling. “These threats are real — as evidenced by reports of neo-Nazis arrested this morning after discussing plans to head to Richmond with firearms.”

Virginia Democrats, who control both the state house and senate, are working on passing several gun regulations, including background checks on gun sales, a law that would allow authorities to confiscate a gun from someone they believe is a danger to themselves, a ban on firearms in government buildings. 

Tens of thousands of pro-gun protesters are expected to gather outside the state capitol building in the annual Lobby Day protest.

[Business Insider]

Trump Boasts of Stock Market In Wild Tweet: ‘HOW ARE YOUR 409K’S DOING?’

President Donald Trump touched on a series of topics in his Thursday morning Twitter statements, and in the most recent one, he declared that the stock market is soaring and everyone’s “409K’S” are doing great.

“STOCK MARKET AT ALL-TIME HIGH!” Trump tweeted in all-caps. “HOW ARE YOUR 409K’S DOING? 70%, 80%, 90% up? Only 50% up! What are you doing wrong?”

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1215285845336502272?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Here’s a picture of the tweet before it got deleted:

Long story short, there’s no such thing as a 409k. 401k, sure. Not 409.

[Mediaite]

Trump takes credit for decline in cancer deaths. The American Cancer Society says he’s wrong

President Donald Trump insinuated in a tweet on Thursday that his administration played a role in the US cancer death rate hitting a record low in 2017. The American Cancer Society says that’s not true.

Trump’s tweet appeared to be referring to the findings of an American Cancer Society report released on Wednesday, which said the rate of people dying from cancer in the United States declined in 2017 for the 26th year in a row. Trump took office in January 2017. The report, published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, said that the cancer death rate had fallen “continuously” from 1991 through 2017.

The report also found that from 2016 to 2017, the United States saw its largest-ever single-year drop in overall cancer deaths, a 2.2% decline spurred in part by a sharp fall in lung cancer deaths.Trump’s tweet on Thursday said, “U.S. Cancer Death Rate Lowest In Recorded History! A lot of good news coming out of this Administration.”

[CNN]

‘All is well!’ Trump tweets after Iran targets and injures U.S. forces in missile attack in Iraq

Despite early reports that no Americans were harmed, 11 U.S. service members did sustain injuries in a ballistic missile attack this month that required transport for follow-up care, officials with U.S. Central Command have confirmed.

On Jan. 8, Iran struck Iraqi bases at Al Asad and Erbil, where U.S. and Iraqi troops trained together. The attack was in retaliation for a U.S. airstrike days before that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. While U.S. officials have not yet released a full accounting of damage sustained on the bases, it was described by President Donald Trump the following day as “minimal.”

“I’m pleased to inform you: The American people should be extremely grateful and happy no Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime,” Trump said in a Jan. 9 address to the nation. “We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.”

On Thursday, however, DefenseOne first reported that 11 troops were actually hurt in the blast, requiring medical evacuation to locations in Germany and Kuwait.

In a statement released late Thursday night, CENTCOM spokesman Navy Capt. Bill Urban confirmed the reporting.

“While no U.S. service members were killed in the Jan. 8 Iranian attack on Al Asad Air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed,” he said. “As a standard procedure, all personnel in the vicinity of a blast are screened for traumatic brain injury, and if deemed appropriate are transported to a higher level of care.”

Eight individuals were transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, he said, and three were moved to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait for follow-on screening in what Urban described as an “abundance of caution.”

“When deemed fit for duty, the service members are expected to return to Iraq following screening,” he said. “The health and welfare of our personnel is a top priority and we will not discuss any individual’s medical status.”

In a Thursday briefing, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman credited military early warning systems with detecting incoming missiles and allowing troops to reach shelter as the strikes began.

Follow-up reporting, though, has made clear that missiles did come frighteningly close to where troops sheltered and operated. One Army drone operator told the New York Times “it was like a scene from an action movie;” photographs from the publication show the wreckage of a hangar and other structures destroyed by the blasts.

[Military]

Trump’s evidence that Suleimani posed an imminent threat was ‘razor thin’: US officials

On Saturday, New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi laid out on Twitter the basic points of evidence cited by the Trump administration that Iranian military leader Qassim Suleimani posed an imminent threat to Americans in the region — and how they do not really hold water:

https://twitter.com/rcallimachi/status/1213421769777909761


https://twitter.com/rcallimachi/status/1213423621349224448

https://twitter.com/rcallimachi/status/1213424489679196161

https://twitter.com/rcallimachi/status/1213427304413777923

https://twitter.com/rcallimachi/status/1213430242079125505

[Raw Story]


Trump tells evangelical rally he will put prayer in schools

 U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said his Democratic opponents would tear down crosses and pledged to bring prayer to public schools at a re-election rally to shore up evangelical support.

Trump spoke on the outskirts of Miami at the King Jesus International Ministry, a “prosperity gospel” church that teaches that the faithful will be rewarded with health and wealth on earth. 

“We are defending religion itself, it’s under siege,” Trump said. “A society without religion cannot prosper.”

More than 80% of white evangelicals voted for Trump in the 2016 election. But a crack in evangelical support opened up last month when the magazine Christianity Today wrote a blistering editorial on Trump’s “grossly immoral character.” 

Attendees, some of them wearing Trump’s signature red campaign hats, nearly filled the room, which the church says holds 7,000. Some raised their hands in a sign of praise and swayed while music played loudly over the speakers before the president entered the room. 

Pastors gathered around Trump on the stage for an opening prayer, while much of the audience remained standing with their hands aloft. 

In his speech, Trump mocked Democratic challenger Pete Buttigieg, the Indiana mayor, for having what he said was an unpronounceable last name, and told attendees Democrats were waging war against religion. 

“These angry radicals want to impose absolute conformity by censuring speech, tearing down crosses and symbols of faith and banning religious believers from public life.” 

He got a big reaction from the crowd when he promised to bring religion into U.S. schools. A clause in the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from promoting one religion over the other, which means public schools don’t promote prayer or religious symbols. 

“Very soon I’ll be taking action to safeguard students and teachers’ First Amendment rights to pray in our schools,” Trump said. “They want to take that right along with many other ones.”

According to a 2019 survey here by the Pew Research Center, 43% of U.S. adults, or some 110 million people, identify with Protestantism; 59% of those, or 64 million are born-again or evangelical Christians. 

Christian support for Trump remained relatively constant from his inauguration until March of 2019, Pew Research shows. Some Christians believe that support has frayed since. 

Friday’s rally “is Trump’s desperate response to the realization that he is losing his primary voting bloc — faith voters,” said Doug Pagitt, the executive director of Vote Common Good, a progressive Christian group, on Friday.


[Reuters]

Mike Pence shares 9/11 conspiracy theory about Qassem Soleimani in attempt to justify killing

Mike Pence has promoted an unsubstantiated theory linking the 9/11 terrorist attacks to Iran in his defence of the Trump administration’s assassination of Qassem Soleimani.

Donald Trump‘s vice president posted a Twitter thread on Saturday in which he described Iran’s top military commander as “an evil man responsible for killing thousands of Americans”.

In the thread, Mr Pence claimed Soleimani had “assisted in the clandestine travel to Afghanistan of 10 of the 12 terrorists who carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States”.

However, his accusation is undermined by the conclusions of the official government report on the attacks.

The 9/11 commission report found “no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack”.

The report added: “At the time of their travel through Iran, the al-Qaeda operatives themselves were probably not aware of the specific details of their future operation.”

Soleimani’s killing is a major escalation in US-Iran tensions and has sparked fears of a direct war between the two countries.

The White House has said the assassination was a “decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad”.

In response to the vice president, foreign policy experts were quick to point out there were 19 terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks, not 12, and the majority of them came from US allies Saudi Arabia.

Katie Waldman, Mr Pence’s press secretary, later clarified that the vice president was referring to 12 of the 19 hijackers who “transited through Afghanistan”.

“For those asking: 12 of the 19 transited through Afghanistan. Ten of those 12 were assisted by Soleimani,” Ms Waldman wrote, without providing any further evidence for the commander’s involvement.

The 9/11 report does acknowledge at least eight of the hijackers “transited Iran on their way to or from Afghanistan”, but this is thought to be because they were “taking advantage of the Iranian practice of not stamping Saudi passports”.

Although Soleimani was a senior figure in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps at the time of the attacks, he is not named in the 9/11 commission report.

It is also unclear why the commander, a leading military figure in a majority Shia Muslim country, would have assisted al-Qaeda, a militant Sunni Islamist group with links to Saudi Arabia.

In a 2018 study by the think tank New America, al-Qaeda is said to view Iran as a “hostile entity” and found “no evidence of cooperation between al-Qaeda and Iran on planning or carrying out terrorist attacks” in the documents studied.

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said in 2019 he had no doubt “there is a connection between the Islamic Republic of Iran and al-Qaeda.”

[The Independent]

Reality

See pages 240-241.

Pompeo Tweet About Iraqis ‘Dancing in the Street’ Dismissed as Deeply Misleading, ‘Propaganda in Wartime’

Hours after the United States killed Iran’s top military commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike Thursday evening, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that the people of Iraq were celebrating Soleimani’s demise by publicly “dancing” in the streets.

“Iraqis — Iraqis — dancing in the street for freedom; thankful that General Soleimani is no more,” Pompeo tweeted, along with a 22-second video purporting to show the aforementioned celebration in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square. Soleimani, who had American blood on his hands, was the commander Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Forcewhich the Trump administration designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization in April.

The tweet received a great deal of attention on the social media platform, garnering more than 175,000 likes and nearly 60,000 re-tweets, including the State Department’s Farsi Twitter account.

President Donald Trump even sent the post out to his 68.7 million followers.

But witnesses to the celebration depicted in Pompeo’s video told the New York Times that while the clip is authentic, his characterization of what happened was, at best, extremely hyperbolic and very misleading:

Witnesses in Iraq said that only a handful of men carrying Iraqi flags had run — not danced — along a road while the voice of a man speaking near the camera was heard praising the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani of Iran in a targeted United States airstrike on Friday at Baghdad International Airport.

The man whose voice is heard in the video exclaims that General Suleimani’s death has avenged the deaths of Iraqis protesting Iran’s presence in their country.

The witnesses said the men carrying the flags were celebrating General Soleimani’s death but that the group was very small — about 30 to 40 people in a crowd of thousands — that no one else joined in and that the minor demonstration was over in less than two minutes.

Conservative media outlets such as Fox News and The Blaze, however, echoed Pompeo’s narrative.

Syracuse University assistant professor of communications Jennifer Grygiel said that government officials can easily spread “propaganda in wartime” due to social media and the breakdown of traditional news media “gatekeeping.”

“When we think about government communication, it’s public diplomacy in peacetime, propaganda in wartime,” Grygiel told the Times. “Official sources can propagate a narrative they seek without context.”

Iran is already using Pompeo’s tweet to promote a narrative of its own on social media. Javad Zarif, the Iranian Foreign Minister, responded to Pompeo’s tweet on Saturday, calling the Secretary of State an “arrogant clown – masquerading as a diplomat.”

[Law and Crime]

1 2 3 83