Europe/Americas update: July 10 2017

EUROPE

CYPRUS

With reunification talks having collapsed, the Greek Cypriot government is moving forward with plans to begin offshore drilling amid the eastern Mediterranean’s recently discovered oil and gas fields. This is not going over well in Turkey, whose government, in its dual role as protector of Turkish Cypriots and country that would like to exploit those same offshore resources for itself, is warning the Greek Cypriots and any companies they might contract with not to do anything that might piss Ankara off. The exploitation of potential energy reserves was supposed to be one of the things prompting Greek and Turkish Cypriots to put their differences aside and reunify the island, but clearly it wasn’t enough of an impetus.

LITHUANIA

The US has deployed Patriot missiles in Lithuania in advance of NATO wargames this week. This marks the first time these missile defense units have been deployed in the Baltics, and though it’s only temporary it does set a precedent.

UKRAINE

Kiev is looking to gain NATO membership by 2020, according to President Petro Poroshenko. The Russian government has already said that a move to bring Ukraine into NATO would be bad for European stability (this is a very “nice place you got here” kind of statement), but frankly if this actually happens the Russian government will have nobody to blame for it but itself. The Ukrainian people were majority opposed to joining NATO prior to Euromaidan, the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, and most particularly Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Now support for joining NATO is around 70 percent, though admittedly that probably doesn’t include people in separatist, pro-Russia eastern Ukraine.

UNITED KINGDOM

In this terrible world, it’s wonderful to know that, every once in a while, justice can get done:

UK government arms sales to Saudi Arabia are lawful, the High Court has ruled, after seeing secret evidence.

The court rejected campaigners’ claims ministers were acting illegally by not suspending weapon sales to the kingdom, which is fighting a war in Yemen.

The fucking hippies want you to believe that, because maybe a few British-made weapons have been used to “bomb funerals,” or “destroy schools,” or “blow-up hospitals,” or “drop cluster bombs on civilian population centers,” or “murder a bunch of innocent people shopping in a market just for shits and giggles,” that somehow the sale of those weapons has violated human rights laws. These people, of course, are probably communists or perhaps ISIS or likely both. Today a British court said: enough, enough of your bullying, you all-powerful activists leave poor Saudi Arabia and its British enablers alone to slaughter Yemeni civilians in peace, damn you. And like all court decisions that are obviously steeped in justice, this one was made largely using classified information and without any explanation for the public. Bravo, Britain, you bloody legends.

AMERICAS

PERU

The Peruvian government has recalled its ambassador to Ecuador over one of Donald Trump’s favorite issues–wall-building:

Peru said construction of the concrete wall, part of an urban revival project, violates a peace treaty signed by both countries because it comes too close to a canal in populated areas along the Zarumilla River, which forms part of the border for the two countries.

Ecuador said it lamented Peru’s decision to recall its ambassador and said Peru had not responded to its request last week to discuss the dispute in a high-level meeting.

“Ecuador believes that dialogue is the valid mechanism to overcome any divergence between sister countries, and therefore reiterates its willingness and openness to address these issues immediately,” the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

Ecuador says the wall is necessary to control flooding in its border towns along the canal, but Peru is angry because reducing the flood risk to Ecuadorean border towns probably means increasing the risk to Peruvian border towns. I mean, that water has to go somewhere, right?

COLOMBIA

The United Nations Security Council on Monday approved a new mission to Colombia with the goal of reincorporating–or, really, incorporating–former FARC rebels into Colombian society. This mission would replace the previous one, which monitored FARC’s disarmament process. The goal is to transition FARC from an armed rebel movement to a peaceful political one, but in the meantime there are concerns about security and stability as the former rebels begin interacting with their fellow Colombians on an everyday basis.

UNITED STATES

Part III of the New York Times investigation into Donald Trump Jr. and his meeting (along with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort) with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign dropped this evening, and it may be the biggest bombshell yet in the Trump-Russia collusion investigation:

Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.

Mr. Goldstone’s message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information. It does not elaborate on the wider effort by Moscow to help the Trump campaign. There is no evidence to suggest that the promised damaging information was related to Russian government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails.

In just the past couple of days, Fredo’s Don Jr.’s explanation about this meeting has gone from “it was about adoption or whatever” to “it was about getting dirt on Hillary Clinton but I didn’t actually get any,” which is suspicious enough, but the missing piece was whether or not he knew the dirt in question would have been coming from the Russian government. Thankfully, Donny apparently surrounds himself with people who are just as stupid as he is, stupid enough to put what appears to be exculpatory evidence in a fucking email (cue howls of righteous and justified indignation from a lot of Hillary “But Her Emails” Clinton supporters).

Junior has probably already admitted to criminal activity, because it’s illegal for campaigns to solicit contributions from foreign nationals and he’s more or less copped to that. The fact that the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, didn’t actually provide him with any Clinton dirt is not a defense if he’s admitting he met her with the intention of obtaining that dirt. Now there’s evidence that DJ knew, or at least anticipated, that the meeting would involve information coming from the Kremlin. That’s collusion.

These stories have all focused on Donny J even through Manafort and Kushner both attended this same meeting. Admittedly it seems Trump set the meeting up or was the point of contact for the people setting it up, but Kushner in particular could be in trouble here as well because he apparently forgot to mention this meeting on his security clearance forms before going to work in the White House. The big unanswered question is whether Donald Trump knew about this meeting and its details. On the one hand you’d think he’d have to have known simply because his son and son in-law were there. On the other hand, this is Donald Trump, and from day to day it’s hard to know if he realizes what year it is. So who knows.

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Author: DWD

writer, blogger, lover, fighter

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