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About Pitcher

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  1. John 8:32. For those that want to know what the truth is and what this verse means, Google the phrase “the truth will set you free”
  2. WASHINGTON — President Trump has all the legal authority he needs to keep U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq indefinitely, the Pentagon and State Department said in a pair of letters released on Thursday. The letters also warned that the United States reserves the right to take military action to defend its anti-ISIS allies in Syria, potentially setting the stage for new clashes with regime forces and their Russian partners. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., to whom the letters were addressed, sharply criticized the administration’s reasoning and said in a statement that Trump risks “acting like a king by unilaterally starting a war.” Borrowing arguments first advanced by the Obama administration, the Pentagon and State Department argued that the undeclared war on ISIS — and the presence of some 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria and 5,200 more in Iraq — is legal under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and the 2002 AUMF that set the stage for the invasion of Iraq. In late January, the Trump administration signaled that it would not seek a new vote to authorize the mission in Syria. Like Obama, Trump contends that, because of its origins as an al-Qaida offshoot, the so-called Islamic State is covered by the 2001 legislation. The 2002 AUMF gave the president the power to use force to confront “the continuing threat posed by Iraq.” “Now the Trump administration is going even further, claiming that the 2001 AUMF also allows the U.S. military to strike pro-Assad forces in areas devoid of ISIS to protect our Syrian partners who seek Assad’s overthrow,” Kaine said Thursday. “It is clear the Trump administration is crossing a constitutional line.” While the U.S.-led coalition has routed ISIS and shattered its claims to a caliphate, the Pentagon said in its letter that the terrorist group has morphed into a dangerous “insurgency” and that U.S. forces need to remain in both countries to ensure its “permanent defeat.” “Just as when we previously removed U.S. forces prematurely, the group will look to exploit any abatement in pressure to regenerate capabilities and reestablish local control of territory,” David Trachtenberg, the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, wrote to Kaine. View photos Tim Kaine; Donald Trump. (Yahoo News photo illustration; photos: Susan Walsh/AP, Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images) More “The United States does not seek to fight the Government of Syria or Iran or Iranian-supported groups in Iraq or Syria,” Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Mary Waters said in her letter to Kaine. “However, the United States will not hesitate to use necessary and proportionate force to defend U.S., Coalition, or partner forces engaged in operations to defeat ISIS and degrade al-Qa’ida.” The United States struck forces loyal to Syrian strongman Bashar Assad several times in 2017, notably striking an airfield in April in what Washington described as a response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons against civilians. More recently, a U.S. counterattack reportedly killed Syrian forces but also Russian mercenaries. Kaine, who has tried for years to get his colleagues to debate and vote on authorizing the war against ISIS, warned in January that the U.S. mission in Syria was evolving and risked putting American forces on a collision course with regime troops and their Russian backers. Kaine outlined his concerns a day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson laid out plans for an open-ended presence in Syria. In remarks at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Tillerson said U.S. forces would stay in the war-racked nation to ensure ISIS does not reemerge, but also to set the stage for Assad’s removal from power through political means and to contain Iranian influence. Iran has stepped up what America considers its destabilizing activities, including support for Assad and extremist groups, since the death of its archenemy Saddam Hussein and in the aftermath of the 2015 nuclear deal that Tehran signed with great powers including the United States. The Trump administration has vowed to confront the Islamic Republic more forcefully.
  3. It was just reported that Trump has talked to the NRA about putting an age limit on certain weapons. The WH expects the NRA to support common sense measures to curb the shootings. Trump also wants some teachers who are trained to be able to arm and defend students against idiots like last week.
  4. The Rodeo is big time in Houston. Attendance is over 3 million over 15 days, which is more than Pro Football draws in 4 seasons. This young man is getting ready!!! Click the Link for a funny
  5. The Rodeo is big time in Houston. Attendance is over 3 million over 15 days, which is more than Pro Football draws in 4 seasons. This young man is getting ready!!!

    They don’t have anything on Trump. The entire investigation is a sham. Trump should order an investigation on the Democrats and how they tried to rig the elections.

    Time to lock her up and put her money man in jail too!!
  8. New Stage in War in Syria

    The war in Syria that began seven years ago is now on the brink of a new stage, as reflected in recent weeks by incidents on the various fronts. Inevitably, the complex fabric of interests among the many elements involved has resulted in conflicts and has renewed the sense of "all versus all." During the events between Israel, Syria, and Iran on February 10, 2018, Russia worked to stop the escalation from becoming a violent round of fighting. The United States seemed at once present but absent; its voice was not heard during the events, although in retrospect it backed Israel's use of force. However, it will be difficult to stabilize the situation in Syria on all fronts without deep and genuine coordination between the United States and Russia. For its part, Israel should continue its strategic dialogue with Russia. At the same time, it must promote a joint strategy with the United States to halt Iranian influence, including blocking the eastern border between Syria and Iraq, in an effort to stop the establishment of the Iranian corridor to Syria. Another goal is to deter Tehran from continuing its consolidation in Syria by increasing its fears that this will lead to clashes between Iran and American forces. The war in Syria that began seven years ago is now on the brink of a new stage, as reflected in recent weeks by incidents on the various fronts: "the day of battle" between Israel, Syria, and Iran (the penetration of the Iranian drone that was shot down in Israeli territory, followed by the attack by the Israeli Air Force in Syrian territory, and the shooting down of an Israeli F-16 warplane by the Syrian air defense system); the American attack in the Deir ez-Zor region that led to the deaths of over a hundred fighters linked to the Assad regime, including combat soldiers from a Russian mercenary unit; and Turkey's Operation Olive Branch in the Kurdish region of Afrin, which is intended to limit Kurdish influence in northern Syria. Against the background of these developments, the conduct of the war and the balance of forces to date should be reviewed in order to understand the implications of recent events. From its earliest stages, the war in Syria became a local, regional, and global playing field. The weakness of the Assad regime and the large numbers of elements involved in the war provided fertile ground for foreign interests to further their agendas, in Syria in particular and in the Middle East in general. Iran and Hezbollah were the first to stand alongside the Assad regime in 2011 to help him survive first through Hezbollah and later through the Quds Forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Shiite militias, recruited in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. At various stages they joined in the fighting alongside the Assad regime against the different rebel organizations, which in turn received support from Sunni Arab states. It soon became clear that the Sunni rebels had difficulty uniting around a common cause, and they split into dozens of sub-groups that were unable to form a critical mass against the Assad regime. These factions even fought with each other for local hegemony. The Islamic State (formerly ISIS) was the dominant element in the radical Sunni camp, and its expansion and consolidation in Iraq and Syria in 2014 was what led the United States (which had hitherto refrained from intervening) to take military action in the framework of an international coalition, and to attack Islamic State and al-Qaeda elements. In late 2015, when the survival of the Assad regime was at serious risk, Russia began its military intervention and formed a pro-Assad coalition with Iran and its proxies. Within a year, this action had clearly swung the balance in favor of Assad and severely weakened the rebel forces. The conquest of Aleppo in December 2016 was the decisive event that marked the change in the balance of forces. The United States strategy of "Islamic State First" pushed other conflicts aside. In November 2017, the Islamic State was defeated following the conquest of its two centers of power, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. Assad remained in power, controlling the large population centers, although not all of Syria. At the same time, Russia worked vigorously to launch a process of political settlement in Syria, taking account of the balance of powers in the area – and including the formation of "de-escalation zones" in enclaves that were not controlled by forces supporting Assad. It emerged that the main obstacle to a political settlement was the arbitrary and resolute nature of the conditions that had sparked the civil war in the first place and the enmities that perpetuated it, including the involvement of outside actors. While the pro-Assad coalition tried to project the image of victory and the return of power to Assad, before moving to the next stage of political settlement under the auspices of Russia and Iran, violent incidents erupted throughout Syria. In the current situation, all parties with an interest in Syria, and particularly the external forces, are trying to maintain their assets and achieve more influence. These conflicting interests have renewed the sense of "all versus all" and a new stage in the Syrian civil war. Before the Russian intervention, the United States provided financial and military support to "moderate" rebel groups, based on the presumption – which proved mistaken – that they would fight the Islamic State and be a secular, moderate alternative to the Assad regime. However, it emerged that among the range of rebel groups supported by the CIA, the Kurdish forces were the most committed and effective fighting force, and the cooperation with them was the best. Turkey, fearing the establishment of a broader Kurdish autonomy in northern Syria, which could affect the aspirations of Kurds in Turkey itself, took a stance against the Kurds and even supported the other rebel groups, including Salafi jihadist groups. The aim was to weaken the Kurdish fighters and damage the links between the Kurdish underground in Turkey (PKK) and the leading Kurdish group in Syria (YPG). Inevitably, this complex fabric of interests resulted in conflicts. For example, the United States is supporting the Kurdish force in northeast Syria in order to clean up enclaves of Islamic State remnants and to prevent their recovery and renewed control of the territory, and also to block the Iranian land corridor to the Mediterranean. On the other hand, Turkey – a member of NATO and officially an ally of the United States – opposes any American move that strengthens the Kurds. Behind the scenes, Russia is stoking the fire, giving Turkey the green light to military action designed to take control of the Afrin region in north Syria, now under Kurdish control, while disregarding the Assad regime, which sees this as an attack on its sovereignty. In this way Russia is challenging Washington, which must choose between support for the Kurds and its relations with Turkey. At the same time, the US is trying to prevent the pro-Assad forces, and particularly the Iranian proxies, from taking over the territory north and east of the Euphrates River, which is under Kurdish control. For this reason, last week, the Americans were called on to assist the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), who were attacked by pro-Assad forces around Deir ez-Zor. Perhaps most of all Russia represents the political-military juggling acts in Syria, maneuvering between pounding rebel targets from the air and promoting diplomatic and political moves to achieve a political settlement; and balancing between needing the Iranian proxies for ground fighting, and limiting Iran's future influence in Syria. All this is underway as Moscow forges double and triple alliances in the Syrian morass. Regarding Israel, on the one hand Moscow maintains a strategic dialogue with Israel and gives it room to operate in Syrian air space, which also serves Russian interests of limiting Iranian influence in Syria. At the same time, however, Russia turns a blind eye to the Iranian drones sent to penetrate Israeli airspace from the T-4 airfield deep in Syria, where there is a Russian military presence, which increases friction between Israel and Iran. Moreover, Russia provides close advice to the Syrian air defense system, which proved able bring down an Israeli aircraft operating in Syrian airspace, thus limiting Israel's operational freedom to maneuver. This situation, where the interests of the various actors clash, ensures continued friction and hostilities. Assad is expected to continue working to extend his hold in the country, and in this framework the pro-Assad coalition is currently involved in a large scale military effort to take control of the suburbs of Damascus. Turkey will try to prevent the rise of an autonomous Kurdish region in its borders and establish a security zone under its control along its border with Syria; the Kurds will fight to defend the territory they gained through fierce fighting and heavy losses. For its part, Iran wants to reap the fruits of its investments in Syria and the Assad regime, and be the most important influence in Syria, which it sees as a protectorate. This means the establishment of Iranian weapon assembly infrastructures and the presence of local militias under Iranian influence. Israel is vehemently opposed to this and is working to prevent a permanent Iran and Hezbollah military presence along its northern border. The United States wants to prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State in the power vacuum created in the areas that were formerly under its control. For that reason, the Pentagon believes that that they have no choice but to continue their military intervention and widen their control of the border between Syria and Iraq, and even set up a border guard force based on its local partners. Russia wants to preserve the existing regime and its growing influence in Syria, and thereby improve its standing in the Middle East and the international arena. During the escalation between Israel, Syria, and Iran on February 10, 2018, following the events surrounding the Iranian drone incident and the downed Israeli plane, Russia worked to stop the incidents from becoming a violent round of fighting. The United States seemed at once present but absent; its voice was not heard during the events, although in retrospect it backed Israel's use of force. However, it will be difficult to stabilize the situation in Syria on all fronts without deep and genuine coordination between the United States and Russia. Therefore, Washington would do well to make it clear to Moscow that Iran set a trap for Russia by sending the drone into Israel from an airfield used by Russia, deep in Syria, and possibly also by launching the counter-attack against the military headquarters shared by the SDF and the American forces around Deir ez-Zor. In both incidents Iran crossed a red line and endangered Russian forces in Syria. Implications for Israel It is recommended that Israel continue its strategic dialogue with Russia, at least for damage control. At the same time, it must promote a joint strategy with the United States to halt Iranian influence, including blocking the eastern border between Syria and Iraq, in an effort to stop the establishment of the Iranian corridor to Syria. Another goal is to deter Tehran from continuing its consolidation in Syria by increasing its fears that this will lead to clashes between Iran and American forces. After taking control of the Damascus suburbs, it appears that the next objective for the pro-Assad coalition will be southern Syria, starting with the opposition enclave in Dara'a. Therefore, there is a need for threefold operational cooperation between Jordan, Israel, and the United States, including a plan for re-arming and training rebel forces in southern Syria (particularly the Free Syrian Army), which the United States stopped supporting in spite of Jordanian reservations. This support must be renewed so that the rebels can serve as a wedge against the further spread of forces operated by Iran in the Dara'a-Quneitra space. At the same time, Israel can utilize its contacts with Russia and the United States to increase their cooperation and work toward a political settlement in Syria, in return for protecting the interests of Jordan and Israel, both United States allies.
  9. In my best Sylvester Stallone voice, “Go for it”. ERBIL — Head of Iraqi Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, a paramilitary group operating under the umbrella of Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi, has once again threatened to attack the US military personnel present in Iraq. “We reiterate that we are sparing no efforts to clean the entire Iraq’s territory from Americans and terrorist sleeper cells,” said Akram al-Kaabi in a statement on Wednesday. He accused the United States of directing the terror groups in Iraq as part of its policies. The Hashd al-Shaabi previously several times threatened to conduct military assaults against the US troops in Iraq if they refuse to leave the country after the complete defeat of the Islamic State (IS).
  10. Stock Market

    For all you Stock Market Traders. Volatility in play!! Big reversal in the market in the last hour. We may be looking to retest the lows from 2 weeks ago, the 200 MA on S&P
  12. What can you buy for 500.00 a month? An inexpensive car, 500 a month a new TV several real nice dinners out 120 Starbucks Caffe Latte 26 car washes at 18.95 per was 1 month of child care 10 My Pillows 568 Snickers Candy Bars at .88 per etc etc etc. Feel free to add to the list. Terrible idea imo. Just what America needs, people buying 568 Snickers candy bars every month. That’s over 125 per week!! Yikes!!!!
  13. The offer came at the donor conference for the “post-ISIL reconstruction” of Iraq which just ended in Kuwait. There, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson talked about Iraqi corruption and insecurity, which he claimed had to be tackled for rebuilding investments to be feasible. He said nothing about donations or reparations for the immeasurable damage the US and its allies inflicted on Iraq since the first Persian Gulf War in 1991, let alone since their illegal invasion in 2003. The US “aid” offered by Tillerson is a financial package from the US Export-Import Bank in the amount of $3 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and insurance funds to American firms investing in Iraq. This amounts to far less than the totality of Iraq’s needs as estimated at this moment. Worse still, there are many strings attached and this shouldn’t surprise anyone: - After Saddam’s fall in 2003, the US apparently promised some $20 billion in reconstruction money in the form of credit against Iraq’s future oil revenues. This never materialized despite further pledges. Far from it, the illegal US occupation of the country and drone war paved the way for emergence of the terrorist group of ISIL with even more devastating consequences for Iraqi people. Sadly, there is no reason to assume this time it will be any different. - The US government is not the only hypocrite in this matter. The overwhelming majority of the reconstruction pledges concerns credit and investments by NATO allies as well. The only exception seems to be the nearly half a billion in donations from the European Union. This is insulting, because the US-NATO coalition had no trouble spending untold billions on the destruction of Iraq and murdering its people, but cannot afford to help the surviving families rebuild their country. - There will also be far less contributions from Iraq’s Arab neighbours – if anything - and if there’s any, there will be many strings attached. Such as Iraq cutting ties with Iran which helped dislodge the terrorist group of ISIL from the country. Just like Europe, these not so caring neighbours enthusiastically joined the unholy US coalition in 2003 to bomb Iraq, gain more importance in NATO, later train and fund the proxy militants of ISIL in field conditions, and benefit from America’s “Shock and Awe” doctrine and regime change. In the prevailing environment, it should be kept in mind that Western-Arab donations and initial reconstruction efforts are indeed insufficient and unacceptable. The regime changers should be held to account for turning Iraq into ruins and they should pay for it. They cannot expect others such as Iran, Russia and China to step in and fill the gap. These nations are not beneficiaries of the US and its endless wars. They never funded and armed terrorist groups, and they never invaded Iraq to exploit its destruction and partition for their regional, sectarian, and political purposes. The reality is that the United States and its NATO-Arab allies are responsible for turning Iraq into a failed state. The staggering devastation of the country requires international response, otherwise it will remain a breeding ground for new brands of terrorist groups and extremist outfits. The US-led military operations and indiscriminate airstrikes destroyed many cities and towns, including tens of thousands of houses, hospitals, bridges, and dams, as well as public buildings and schools. The country was already neglected by the US-led coalition after 2003, and now it is witnessing difficult circumstances after the defeat of ISIL. It is time for the United Nations to call on the US government and its NATO-Arab allies to cooperate with the international community to help reconstruct post-ISIL Iraq and not to undervalue their previous and ongoing destruction and devastation. The nation requires large sums of money, and it shouldn’t be abandoned, as reconstruction is an essential and positive step for the return of its displaced people and refugees. To that end, Iraq needs about $100 billion to insure the reconstruction of areas destroyed by the US-led coalition and later recaptured from ISIL, including Mosul, Tikrit, and Ramadi. Baghdad will not be able to afford the reconstruction of these cities without international efforts and aid. Even the United Nations agrees. The word body acknowledges the significant challenges facing Iraq in the future, including massive destruction and widespread contamination of improvised explosive devices left behind Washington and company. This is a confirmation of the international community's support for Iraq in overcoming its US-instigated crisis. In this respect, the United States and its NATO-Arab partners - the main perpetrators behind the crisis - need to get on board as well. Under International Law, they are required to show their desire in practice to help reconstruct Iraq by providing financial aid, without determining the method of spending such aid, and insuring there are no regional or political strings attached. They are no way allowed to make decisions for a sovereign state.
  14. Baghdad ( Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed to lift an air embargo imposed on Kurdistan Region if its authorities yield to the federal government’s conditions. Speaking during his weekly press briefing, Abadi said that “at all world countries, border crossings are in the hands of the federal government”, adding that “the (Iraqi) federal government will lift the international embargo on Kurdistan Region’s airports in case all of its demands are fulfilled”. Last Thursday, Kurdish officials confirmed reports that the Iraqi government had decided to partially lift an embargo imposed on the autonomous region’s airports. Head of Kurdistan’s pilgrimage directorate, Qassem Rasoul, said the authority received an approval fromAbadi to run pilgrims flights from and to Sulaimaniyah and Erbil airports. The Baghdad-based Iraqi government had imposed an embargo on flights on both airports following a vote for independence the autonomous region’s government ran in September, which Baghdad deemed illegal. Recent reports have pointed to imminent talks between both governments to resolve pending disputes over the administration of the region’s airports as well as other contentious subjects. As part of talks to end the crisis, Baghdad has asked to hand over management of the airports to its central aviation authorities, as well as revoking the results of the controversial referendum.

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