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After dispute with Russia, Ukraine imposes martial law

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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine on Monday imposed martial law in parts of the country to fight what its president called “growing aggression” from Moscow after a weekend naval confrontation off the disputed Crimean Peninsula in which Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels amid renewed tensions between the neighbors.

Western leaders and diplomats urged both sides to de-escalate the conflict, and the U.S. blamed Russia for what it called “unlawful conduct” over Sunday’s incident in the Black Sea.

Russia and Ukraine blamed each other in the dispute that further ratcheted up tensions ever since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 and threw its weight behind separatists in eastern Ukraine with clandestine support, including troops and weapons.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked lawmakers in Kiev to institute martial law, something the country did not do even during the worst of the fighting in the east that killed about 10,000 people.

After a five-hour debate, parliament overwhelmingly approved his proposal, voting to impose martial law for 30 days in only 10 of Ukraine’s 27 regions — those bordering Russia, Belarus and Moldova’s pro-Moscow breakaway republic of Trans-Dniester. The locations chosen were ones that Poroshenko identified as potentially in the front line of any Russian attack. The capital of Kiev is not under martial law.

Ukraine’s navy said six Ukrainian seamen were wounded when Russian coast guard vessels opened fire on three Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait and then seized them late Sunday. The two nations blame each other. Video shown on Russian TV shows two ships colliding. (Nov. 26)

Poroshenko said it was necessary because of intelligence about “a highly serious threat of a ground operation against Ukraine.” He did not elaborate.

“Martial law doesn’t mean declaring a war,” he said. “It is introduced with the sole purpose of boosting Ukraine’s defense in the light of a growing aggression from Russia.”

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry already announced earlier in the day that its troops were on full combat alert in the country.

The approved measures included a partial mobilization and strengthening of air defenses. It also contained vaguely worded steps such as “strengthening” anti-terrorism measures and “information security” that could curtail certain rights and freedoms.

But Poroshenko also pledged to respect the rights of Ukrainian citizens.

His critics reacted to his call for martial law with suspicion, wondering why Sunday’s incident merited such a response. Poroshenko’s approval ratings have been plunging, and there were concerns that he would postpone a presidential election scheduled for March.

Just before the parliament met to vote, Poroshenko sought to allay those fears by releasing a statement revising his original martial law proposal from 60 days to just 30 days, in order to “do away with the pretexts for political speculation.”

Oksana Syroid, a deputy speaker of parliament, noted that martial law was not introduced in 2014 or 2015 despite large-scale fighting in the east. A state of emergency “would present a wonderful chance to manipulate the presidential elections,” she said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Poroshenko assured him that martial law would not have a negative impact on the election.

Despite Poroshenko’s vow to respect individual rights, opposition lawmaker and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko warned before the vote that his proposal would lead to the possible illegal searches, invasion of privacy and curtailing of free speech.

“This means they will be breaking into the houses of Ukrainians and not those of the aggressor nation,” noted Tymoshenko, who is leading in various opinion polls. “They will be prying into personal mail, family affairs … In fact, everything that is written here is a destruction of the lives of Ukrainians.”

Poroshenko’s call also outraged far-right groups in Ukraine that have advocated severing diplomatic ties with Russia. Hundreds of protesters from the National Corps party waved flares in the snowy streets of Kiev outside parliament and accused the president of using martial law to his own ends.

But Poroshenko insisted it was necessary because what happened in the Kerch Strait between Crimea and the Russian mainland “was no accident,” adding that “this was not the culmination of it yet.”

Russian coast guard ships fired on the Ukrainian navy vessels near the strait, which separates the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov, injuring six Ukrainian seamen and eventually seizing the vessels and their crews. It was the first open military confrontation between the two neighbors since the annexation of Crimea.

Ukraine said its vessels were heading to the Sea of Azov in line with international maritime rules, while Russia charged that they had failed to obtain permission to pass through the narrow strait that is spanned by a 19-kilometer (11.8-mile) bridge that Russia completed this year.

While a 2003 treaty designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters, Russia has sought to assert greater control over the passage since the annexation.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin tweeted that the dispute was not an accident and that Russia had engaged in “deliberately planned hostilities,” while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blamed Kiev for what he described as a “provocation,” adding that “Ukraine had undoubtedly hoped to get additional benefits from the situation, expecting the U.S. and Europe to blindly take the provocateurs’ side.”

Klimkin told reporters in Kiev that the government is in talks with the Red Cross to make sure the captive seamen are treated as prisoners of war. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not say whether the Kremlin considers them prisoners of war.

At a U.N. Security Council meeting, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged Russia to “immediately cease its unlawful conduct” in the Black Sea.

Anne Gueguen, the French deputy permanent representative at the U.N., urged the release of the sailors and the vessels.

But Russia called Ukraine’s actions “dangerous.” Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s first deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told the Security Council the incident was another example of Ukrainian leaders trying to provoke Russia for political purposes.

The European Union and NATO called for restraint from both sides. NATO said Stoltenberg expressed the U.S.-led military alliance’s “full support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, including its full navigational rights in its territorial waters under international law.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke by telephone with Poroshenko to express her concerns and emphasize the need for de-escalation and dialogue, her office said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman, James Slack, said the incident was “further evidence of Russia’s destabilizing behavior in the region and its ongoing violation of Ukrainian territorial integrity.”

___

Vasilyeva reported from Moscow. Associated Press writers Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Yuras Karmanau in Minsk, Belarus, and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.

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Foreign Affairs

The United Nations only opposes terrorism if it’s not directed towards Israel

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The United Nations only opposes terrorism if its not directed towards Israel

The hypocrisy and lunacy of the United Nations was made crystal clear today. Despite receiving a majority of votes on a resolution to condemn Hamas for their terrorist and military attacks on Israel, the 2/3 threshold was not met. The resolution will not be adopted.

By doing this, the U.N. has officially accepted terrorism as an acceptable means of dealing with the nation of Israel. Most nations do not agree, but as a governing body they have made their choice. More importantly, we are now aware of which nations support Hamas despite their heinous acts against the Jewish state.

The U.S. Mission to the U.N. laid down the stakes just prior to the vote.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley gave a speech that resonated with enough nations to bring about the simple majority. This is an accomplishment even if the resolution ultimately failed.

My Take

This is a good thing for Israel. One can argue it’s even better than had the resolution passed. United Nations resolutions are about as worthless as a press release. But seeing the United Nations being unwilling as a group to condemn the undisputed terrorist and military activities perpetrated by Hamas against Israel helps take away the governing body’s waning credibility.

We know who is more fair than others towards Israel. The European Union, for example, has been outspoken in their condemnation of many of Israel’s actions. But they voted as a unified block to condemn Hamas. This is a sign of hope that alerts Israel and the United States that the anti-Israel bias at the U.N. isn’t absolute. Some are willing to be at least a little more fair than usual.

Hamas is a terrorist organization. Its nature, stated goals, and actions have proven this beyond a shadow of a doubt. The fact the U.N. will not condemn them after condemning everything Israel does is a clear indicator the organization is corrupt.

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Military

Israel demands international action on Hezbollah tunnels

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Israel demands international action on Hezbollah tunnels

The IDF launched “Operation Northern Shield,” only to discover and eliminate attack tunnels constructed by Hezbollah from Lebanon to Israel.

 The Israeli government demanded international action on Hezbollah on Tuesday for building tunnels to infiltrate and launch attacks against Israel.

“These cross-border terror tunnels were built by Hezbollah with direct support and funding from Iran. They were built with one purpose in mind—to attack and murder innocent Israeli men, women and children,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. “This is a grave violation of Israel’s sovereignty and a gross violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution #1701. It is an unacceptable act of wanton aggression.”

The IDF launched “Operation Northern Shield” on Tuesday to discover and eliminate attack tunnels constructed by Hezbollah from Lebanon to Israel.

“I have a message for the people of Lebanon: Hezbollah is putting your lives in danger,” said Netanyahu. “They are sacrificing your well-being to serve the aggressive purposes of Iran. Israel holds the Lebanese government accountable for all terror activity emanating from Lebanon against Israel.

Like any other nation, Israel maintains the right to defend itself. We will continue to do all that is necessary to defend ourselves against Iran’s efforts to use Lebanon, Syria and Gaza as forward terror bases to attack Israel.”

Netanyahu added that he mentioned the imposition of new sanctions against Hezbollah during his meeting on Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon demanded the world body condemn Hezbollah “in the strongest terms possible” and hold the Lebanese government “responsible for the dangerous destabilization of the region.”

“The Lebanese government must abide by its international commitments and fully implement the above mentioned Security Council resolutions,” he wrote.

“The construction of these tunnels, built by Hezbollah and funded by Iran, alongside the ongoing efforts to transfer arms, convert inaccurate projectiles into precision-guided missiles and manufacture precision-guided missiles in Lebanon, are a flagrant violation of Israel’s sovereignty and mark yet another stage of Hezbollah’s ongoing efforts to expand its military build-up and further destabilize the already volatile region,” he added.

The United States also condemned the tunnels.

“The U.S. strongly supports Israel’s efforts to defend its sovereignty, and we call on [Hezbollah] to stop its tunneling into Israel and to refrain from escalation and violence,” said U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton. “More broadly, we call on Iran and all of its agents to stop their regional aggression and provocation, which pose an unacceptable threat to Israeli and regional security.”

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Economy

Medicare-for-All would cost more than every penny we’ve spent on defense in the country’s history

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Medicare-for-All would cost more than every penny weve spent on defense in the countrys history

Math is hard for many Americans. It isn’t just the sad state of our public school system that keeps the people down. It’s politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who push lies and pipe dreams that keep many Americans thinking the government has unlimited money and there’s no real difference between millions, billions, and trillions.

There’s a big difference, of course, but leftists will never let the number of zeroes get in the way of promoting their ideological goals. As I posted earlier, even left-leaning news outlets like the Washington Post are calling out Ocasio-Cortez for her false statements about Medicare-for-All.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez earns 4 Pinocchios over bungled defense budget interpretation

http://noqreport.com/2018/12/04/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-earns-4-pinocchios-bungled-defense-budget-interpretation/Ocasio-Cortez must have realized when she Tweeted the article that there’s no way “66% of Medicare for All could have been funded already by the Pentagon.” She was certainly playing down to her base in hopes they’d ignore reality and embrace her false notions just because she said it. The Tweet was either a bald-faced lie or she’s an absolute moron. Or both.

Washington Post, which normally supports socialist initiatives recommended by their Democratic puppetmasters, had to call this particular claim out. They gave the claim “4 Pinocchios,” a designation they save for some of the most egregious lies in politics.

It isn’t just about being completely wrong on the Pentagon’s accounting errors. This goes deeper. While fact-checking her claims, PolitiFact decided to do some math of their own. They gathered defense spending data as far back as they could – 1940 – and tallied the totals. Those who understand the difference between millions, billions, and trillions probably won’t be surprised to learn the total spent in that time is under $18 trillion, well short of the $21 trillion Ocasio-Cortez claimed she could have used to pay 2/3 of Medicare-for-All.

The also stipulated that since defense spending was much lower in the past, it’s very likely the total spent since the nation’s inception still couldn’t hit Ocasio-Cortez’ number.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrong on scale of Pentagon accounting errors

https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2018/dec/03/alexandria-ocasio-cortez/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-wrong-scale-pentagon-acco/One tip-off is the amount of Ocasio-Cortez’s “accounting errors” is far bigger than the actual Pentagon spending from 1998 to 2015, which was $8.5 trillion. In fact, it’s also far bigger than the amount the government has spent on national security since 1940 and, in all likelihood, in the nation’s history.

Here’s a chart we assembled showing national-security spending by the federal government from 1940 to today. Ocasio-Cortez’s $21 trillion estimate exceeds the entirety of national-security spending since 1940, which checks in around $17.8 trillion. And while full data back to 1776 doesn’t exist, prorating backwards for another 164 years would almost certainly not add enough to make the total $21 trillion.

Medicare-for-All is projected to cost $32 trillion over its first 10 years alone.

Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and all their mathematically challenged supporters need to hear this information now. If you could somehow take back every dollar spent on defense from the time the nation was formed until today, it still wouldn’t be enough to pay for Medicare-for-All. This isn’t a right-wing conspiracy. This is left-leaning Politifact crunching the numbers.

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