By John Lee.
Shares in Genel Energy have bounced 7 percent from their recent lows this morning following the announcement of the company’s full-year results (below), and bond buy-back offer.
The KRG’s February 2016 commitment to pay contractor export payments and address outstanding receivables led to a significant increase in cash proceeds during 2016
$207 million cash proceeds were received in 2016 (2015: $148 million), with Genel generating $59 million in free cash flow (2015: $179 million outflow)
$67 million in cash proceeds received in 2017 to date, representing full settlement of invoices for 2016 production
2016 net production averaged 53,300 bopd (2015: 84,900), at the lower end of revised guidance
Strong liquidity position at the end of 2016, with unrestricted cash balances of $407 million ($455 million at end-2015)
Signature of amended PSCs and Gas Lifting Agreement in February 2017, with a focus now on concluding negotiations with potential partners
Continued engagement with the KRG over accelerating the recovery of outstanding receivables
Tawke 2017 production expected to average around year to date production levels of 111,000 bopd, in line with the Operator’s guidance
Peshkabir-2 Cretaceous discovery in early 2017 – accelerated appraisal and early production planning
2017 capex guidance for Taq Taq and Tawke reiterated at $50-75 million. KRI gas business and Africa exploration expenditure also reiterated at c.$50 million
Bond buy-back announced today (see separate press release)
Murat Özgül (pictured), Chief Executive of Genel, said:
“While 2016 was a challenging year at Taq Taq, Tawke continues to produce at a stable level, and regular payments for our oil production in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq helped generate free cash flow in the year. The improved financial position of the Kurdistan Regional Government bodes well for a continuation of these payments.
“The signing of definitive agreements in February 2017 allows us to focus on concluding negotiations with potential partners, helping unlock the significant value in our gas assets. We move into 2017 with clear priorities: maximising the value of our oil assets, accelerating the recovery of the receivable, and building on the increased momentum in the development of our gas assets.“
The full results can be read here.
(Source: Genel Energy)
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By John Lee.
Beechcraft Defense has been awarded a not-to-exceed $15,225,799 cost-plus-fixed-fee undefinitized contract action for the Peace Dragon King Air 350 program.
It will provide contractor logistics support, basic life support, program support, and repair and return, cost per flight hour, travel and fuel for the Peace Dragon King Air 350 program for the country of Iraq.
Work will be performed at Baghdad, Iraq, and is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2017.
(Source: US Dept of Defense)
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Genel Energy Holding Company Limited has announced a reverse tender offer (the ‘Buy-Back Offer’) to holders of Genel Energy Finance plc’s (‘the Issuer’) USD 730 million GENEL01 PRO senior unsecured callable bonds with ISIN NO0010710882 (the ‘Bonds’).
All bondholders, subject to legal constraints, are invited to offer Bonds to the Company, being the sole shareholder of Genel Energy Finance plc and guarantor of the Bonds. The Company intends to select one price (‘Maximum Accepted Price’) and buy Bonds offered at and below this Maximum Accepted Price at the price offered by each bondholder (‘Offer Price’).
The Company intends to buy back a minimum of USD 50 million in nominal value of Bonds, and will seek to cancel all Bonds repurchased, including current treasury bonds with nominal value of USD 55.4 million.
The Buy-Back Offer will commence on 30 March 2017 at 09:00 CET and will expire on 6 April 2017 at 16:00 CET. Prior to 09:00 CET on 7 April 2017, the Company will determine the Maximum Accepted Price and consequently the total amount of Bonds to be purchased. The Company may, in its sole discretion, waive, amend, extend, accelerate, terminate or withdraw the Buy-Back Offer at any time.
Information regarding any such amendments will be published under the Issuer’s ticker on www.newsweb.no, the information service of the Oslo Stock Exchange, and www.stamdata.no, the information service of the bond trustee for the Bonds, Nordic Trustee ASA. Cash settlement for the Bonds, including accrued interest, is expected to occur on 11 April 2017.
The Company will only accept offers from a bondholder or beneficial owner of the Bonds (or any person acting as agent, custodian, fiduciary or in another intermediary capacity for a bondholder or beneficial owner) who is not a U.S. person (as such term is defined pursuant to Regulation S under the US Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the ‘Securities Act’)) and who is outside the United States.
The Company has retained DNB Markets as broker to manage the Buy-Back Offer. Eligible bondholders may provide offers for sale of all or a portion of their Bonds through submission of the bondholders offer form (the ‘Bondholders Offer Form’) by e-mail to email@example.com. The terms of the Buy-Back Offer and the Bondholders Offer Form will be published on www.stamdata.no or can be obtained by contacting DNB Markets on +47 2416 9354.
(Source: Genel Energy)
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By Emily Couch.
Clean water, clean start: AMAR water treatment plant revitalises Basra CommunityIraq has long been hampered by a failing water system. The devastating 2007 cholera outbreak underlined the desperate need to improve Iraq’s water and sanitation systems. In 2008, UNICEF reported that less than 50% of the country’s population had access to potable water.
Today, 6.6 million Iraqis are still without access to safe drinking water. The AMAR International Charitable Foundation is pioneering efforts to support communities through the construction of water treatment plants.
Sheikh Quassim lives in Al Khora, a village in the Basra region, with his wife and four children.* For years, he watched on helplessly as they contracted regular illnesses due to the contaminated water they were obliged to drink.* Nasim was not alone.* Many Al Khora residents reported to AMAR that they had to drink contaminated water on a regular basis, exposing them to life-threatening diseases.
AMAR teams heard that most families spent up to 50% of their monthly income on drinking water.* The situation was untenable, with residents planning to move if the situation did not improve.
“My family has always lived in this village”, one woman told AMAR staff, “I don’t want to leave, but I just can’t live here anymore if there’s no water to drink.”
AMAR stepped in to save the endangered community, building a new water system that channelled water from a nearby canal.* As a result, over 7,000 local residents gained access to potable water.
“Before we had the new pipelines, my children’s health was always poor.* I knew it was because of the water but there was nothing I could do”, Sheikh Quassim told AMAR staff, “But now there is clean water for us, they are much happier because they have not been sick in a long time.”
AMAR did more than build a water treatment plant.* Staff worked with regional Directorates of Health and Water to produce accessible water hygiene awareness materials for the community, as well as establishing the Women Environmental Health Volunteers programme.
Volunteers have conducted thousands of visits to Al-Khora families since the beginning of the scheme in 2015, spreading vital awareness about water hygiene and conservation.* At a political level, AMAR implemented the Al Khora Water Hygeine Council in which key stakeholders and local residents can discuss important issues of water hygiene and usage.
(Source: AMAR Foundation)
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U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, conducting 28 strikes consisting of 70 engagements against ISIS targets on Tuesday, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported yesterday.
Officials reported details of yesterday’s strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Strikes in Syria
In Syria, coalition military forces conducted 22 strikes consisting of 32 engagements against ISIS targets:
Near Abu Kamal, a strike destroyed an ISIS oil inlet manifold.
Near Dayr Az Zawr, seven strikes destroyed nine ISIS wellheads, a pump jack and a barge.
Near Raqqah, a strike destroyed an ISIS pump jack.
Near Shadaddi, a strike destroyed an ISIS tactical vehicle.
Near Tabqah, 12 strikes engaged five ISIS tactical units; destroyed seven fighting positions, four oil tanker trucks, two front-end loaders, a mortar system and a vehicle; and damaged a supply route.
Strikes in Iraq
In Iraq, coalition military forces conducted six strikes consisting of 46 engagements against ISIS targets, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
Near Haditha, a strike suppressed an ISIS tactical unit.
Near Mosul, five strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units; destroyed a mortar system, a vehicle, a rocket-propelled grenade system and an artillery system; damaged 17 supply routes and a roadblock; and suppressed three ISIS tactical units.
Part of Operation Inherent Resolve
These strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group’s ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world, task force officials said.
The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft; rocket-propelled artillery; and some ground-based tactical artillery when fired on planned targets, officials noted.
Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike, they added. A strike, as defined by the coalition, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single or cumulative effect. For example, task force officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined, officials said.
The task force does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.
(Source: US Dept of Defense)
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By John Lee.
The*Central Bank of Iraq (CBI)*has reported that 37 banks and 11 remittance companies took part in its currency auction on Thursday.
A total of $159,075,819 sold at a price of 1184 Iraqi Dinars (IQD) per dollar.
(Source: Central Bank of Iraq)
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I was reading on FB's Warka victims page that there is a very strong possibility that the bank will be operating in the month of April, although I will not hold my breath on that as we have had so many let downs in the past, but my confidence is high this time, so hang in and just sit tight.
Holocaust survivor gets standing ovation after confronting ICE director and county sheriffhttps://www.bustle.com/p/holocaust-survivor-tells-ice-director-history-is-not-on-your-side-video-47774
One of the most grim, publicly heartbreaking developments of the still-young Trump era has been a surge in both the frequency and nature of immigration raids, with ICE agents reportedly descending on schools and courthouses to detain people for deportation. And, at a town hall in Sacramento, California, on Tuesday, a deeply powerful scene unfolded: Holocaust survivor Bernard Marks challenged Sheriff Scott Jones and ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan, relating the current anti-immigrant political climate to what he went through as a child in Nazi Germany.
Marks, 87, is a Sacramento educator who survived the horrors of the Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps. His statement to Jones and Homan was staunchly moralistic and condemning, equating the anti-immigrant tenor of modern American conservatism (or more specifically Trumpism) with the climate of "picking on people" that preceded the Holocaust.
When I was a little boy in Poland, for no other reason but for being Jewish, I was hauled off by the Nazis. And for no other reason I was picked up and separated from my family, who was exterminated in Auschwitz. And I am a survivor of Auschwitz, and Dachau. I spent five and a half years in concentration camp, for one reason and one reason only. Because we picked on people.
And you as the sheriff, who we elected as sheriff of this county, we did not elect you the sheriff of Washington, D.C. It’s about time you side with the people here. And when stands up there, and says he doesn’t go after people, he should read today’s Bee. Because in today’s Bee, the Supreme Court Justice of the state of California objected to ICE coming in and taking people away from the courts. Don’t tell me that this is a lie!"It's about time you serve the people here!" - Crowd responds to Auschwitz survivor's testimony with standing ovation. @ABC10 pic.twitter.com/pDrcaZ7x6T
— Frances Wang (@ABC10Frances) March 29, 2017
Marks concluded with a strong, simple statement: "You stand up here, Mr. Jones. Don’t forget. History is not on your side." As he walked away from the microphone, the hall was flooded with cheers and applause. He was entirely correct about the California Supreme Court justice calling on ICE to stop "stalking courthouses." That was Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who addressed her letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security chief John Kelly. It read, in part:
Courthouses should not be used as bait in the necessary enforcement of our country’s immigration laws. Our courts are the main point of contact for millions of the most vulnerable Californians in times of anxiety, stress, and crises in their lives.Bernard Marks, 90, survivor of Auschwitz & Dachau, confronts ICE director Thomas Homan and Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones at public forum. pic.twitter.com/6u4PeoANis
— Gabriel Thompson (@G_Thompson1) March 29, 2017
California ― where the Democrats control both legislative branches and the governor's office― is at the forefront of resistance to the Trump agenda, and that's also true on matters of immigration. Marks' appearance at the town hall, however, provided an emotional punch and viral moment that few can match.
Senate Investigators: ‘We Will Get the Facts on Trump’s Russia Ties’
With the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election collapsing amid partisan rancor, the leaders of the Senate Intelligence panel appeared shoulder-to-shoulder on Wednesday to pledge that their probe will avoid partisan infighting and focus on the evidence, including evaluating reports of ties between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.
“The investigation’s scope will always go where the intelligence leads,” Sen. Richard Burr (R.-N.C.), the panel’s chairman. “It is absolutely crucial that every day we spend trying to separate fact from fiction.”
Just over two months into the Trump administration, Burr and Sen. Mark Warner (D.-Va.), the ranking member, provided the first public update on the progress of their investigation, saying that it is proceeding apace. That stands in stark contrast to the House committee’s investigation, which now appears frozen in its tracks after cancelling planned hearings this week.
On Thursday, the panel will conduct its first public hearings to examine Russian electoral meddling, with a host of independent experts who will describe Russia’s past use of intelligence and disinformation.
The Senate committee has also requested 20 interviews and has so far scheduled five, with the first likely to take place next week. Most of the interview subjects, Burr said, are intelligence community analysts who authored the report concluding that Russia attempted to intervene in the U.S. election and to boost President Donald Trump’s electoral chances. But at this stage of the investigation, Burr said, “we would be crazy to draw conclusions” about whether Trump or his aides conspired with Russian operatives.
Also among those set to be interviewed is Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Burr said, but no date has been set.
The committee has gained access to thousands of pages of intelligence reports and raw data normally reserved for the “Gang of 8” senior congressional leadership, and has assigned seven committee staffers to comb through that material. Committee staffers are “within weeks” of completing the review of that material, Burr said, and have examined a majority of the paperwork piled into binders and stored in secure reading rooms.
Burr, first elected to the House in 1994, described the investigation as one of “the biggest investigations that the Hill has seen in my tenure here.”
But even as Burr and Warner displayed a rare measure of bipartisan unity on an issue that has divided Democrats and Republicans, questions remain whether a Republican-controlled Congress can effectively investigate allegations that Trump associates may have coordinated with Russian intelligence to undermine Hillary Clinton during the election.
Burr campaigned on behalf of Trump and hitched his own hard-fought re-election campaign to the real-estate mogul’s coattails. In doing so, Burr managed to fend off a well-funded effort by Democrats to oust him. On Wednesday, Burr said that while he had voted for Trump, he can “absolutely” be counted on to carry out an impartial investigation.
That’s exactly the question that’s swirling around the House Intelligence Committee’s near-paralyzed investigation. Democrats have accused chairman Devin Nunes (R.-Calif.) of running political interference for the White House, after he claimed that American spies collected information on Trump aides during the campaign. Nunes said he learned that from a source on the White House grounds but has declined to identify who it was, even to the rest of the committee that is conducting the investigation.
Asked Wednesday whether he would ever conceal the identity of a source from Warner, Burr shrugged off the question with a grin: “He usually knows my sources before I do.”
That backslapping display of bonhomie comes as a startling contrast to recent weeks on Capitol Hill, which have featured dueling press conferences between Nunes and Rep. Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on his committee. Schiff and a slew of congressional Democrats have called on Nunes, a Trump ally who served on the incoming president’s intelligence transition team, to recuse himself from the Russia probe.
Burr campaigned for Trump, and, like Nunes, was recruited by the White House to try and knock down unfavorable stories in the press. But he has so far avoided Nunes’s fate by keeping a far lower profile on Capitol Hill. While the House chairman has embraced his role as an attack dog for the White House to fight back against a series of embarrassing revelations about the investigation into Trump’s Russia ties, Burr has remained fairly silent.
On Wednesday, Warner said he remained confident in the North Carolina Republican’s ability to preside over an independent investigation, while other congressional Democrats are watching to see whether Burr delivers on his pledge.
The committee’s investigation of Russian electoral meddling will rely on material provided by U.S. spy agencies, and Burr and Warner said the intelligence community has been mostly cooperative in providing material, though some have been less so than others, Warner underlined. Burr said committee officials continue to negotiate with intelligence agencies for access to documents.
With crucial elections approaching in France and Germany, Burr said his committee’s investigation has important implications for the domestic politics of American allies. European intelligence agencies have accused Moscow of trying to influence the votes with a similar campaign of hacking and disinformation as they apparently deployed in the United States. ess than a month before French voters head to the polls — with Russian favorite Marine le Pen of the far-right National Front near the front of the pack — Burr said it is “safe to say the Russians are actively involved.”
Geez, mike032588, just as I was feeling extra sorry for myself I'm actually now feeling better at your expense...so to speak...
I'm in deep too but not that deep.
I remain hopeful, oddly.
My best to everyone.
Conflicts of InterestMar-a-Lago Is Just the Start of Trump’s Ethical MessAs Democrats fret over the president’s Palm Beach club, the real influence-peddling scandal is taking place out in the open at the White House.
This past weekend, First Lady Melania Trump spent time meandering around Mar-a-Lago, her husband’s private Palm Beach club, in the early-spring Florida sun. Her husband, still reeling from a legislative defeat on Capitol Hill, stayed behind in Washington, instead visiting a local Trump-owned golf club, twice, and dining at a different Trump-owned hotel on Saturday evening. But it is their son Barron’s spring break, and Melania opted to stay south with him, away from the mess in Washington and the crowds outside Trump Tower in New York.
With the First Family in residence, guests at the club reportedly came and went freely, without being subject to any kind of background checks or weapons screenings. According to Politico, all guests had to do was pay up to attend a fund-raising event or join somebody who is already a member. This is a far cry from the kind of scrutiny typically facing White House guests, who turn over their full names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers in order to pass background checks and be put on official visitor logs. When the president is on the premises, security is a bit tighter, with checkpoints, car inspections, and magnetometer screenings set up.
But Mar-a-Lago still does not keep tabs on guests who come and go, which has raised red flags for Democrats concerned about the many national security and ethical issues that arise when Americans have unprecedented access to a sitting president. Last month, the House Oversight Committee asked for more information about security protocols at the club after President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received a mid-dinner briefing, on North Korea test-launching a missile, in full view of guests who snapped photos and posted on social media about the action. On Monday, the Government Accountability Office agreed to review how the president handles classified information while he is in Palm Beach. Last week, New Mexico senator Tom Udall introduced legislation calling for the president to release visitor logs for both Mar-a-Lago, the White House, and the rest of his private properties. The American people “deserved to know who has access to the president, how much it's costing to protect him, and whether the Trump Organization is benefiting from that protection,” Udall said on Monday.
The security concerns are real when it comes to the president’s current routine, as are the potential ethical entanglements that Americans, as of now, have no way of finding out about. But as Democrats spend time worrying about who is rubbing elbows with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, they are missing the more troubling access game Trump is openly playing at the White House.
Since he took office in January, Trump has invited in executives from the energy, financial services, automotive, airlines, manufacturing, and technology industries to probe them for their opinions about policy and his administration’s agenda, according to Politico. The details of these meetings—who came in when and how often—is not known, because the White House has yet to release its visitor logs. (Press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters in a briefing on Monday that the White House is working to figure this out.)
Even without the logs, it is clear that the president is courting opinions from C.E.O.s and using those opinions to guide key White House decisions. As Politico reports, J.P. Morgan’s Jamie Dimon visited the White House for a private meeting with Trump in February. Days later, he stood next to the president as he signed an executive order rolling back financial regulations put in place by President Obama that affect banks like Dimon’s. Two months after Trump met with executives of three automakers in the Oval Office, Trump gave a speech in Detroit directing the Environmental Protection Agency to rethink fuel-economy standards—which happened to be exactly what these executives asked the president to do in his office, according to Politico. In his budget, Trump included a proposal to have a nonprofit, whose board would include airline representatives, take over air-traffic control operations from the Federal Aviation Administration. Airline executives who met with Trump in February had asked the president to consider this at their meeting. The energy-regulations executive order President Trump is set to sign on Tuesday comes after months of meetings with oil-and-coal company executives.
A White House official explained to Politico that Trump's constant meetings with C.E.O.s contributes to his mission of creating jobs and helping the American worker. "The president is committed to supporting American workers, which is why he goes straight to the source to assess what is working and what isn't,” the official said.
But as the president is rubber stamping opinions of executives who have a stake in whatever policies the White House makes, Trump is also sidelining agencies and government officials whose job it is to create these policies. Transportation experts from the E.P.A., for example, were reportedly bypassed when it came to the fuel-standards decision. State Department officials weren’t consulted before the president approved the Keystone pipeline, though energy executives were.
Worry over who is visiting Mar-a-Lago, then, seems quaint. Who is chatting up President Trump for a few minutes when he stops by a charity event on his grounds or on his way to dinner is something the American people deserve to know about, but the conflict, as of yet, is a hypothetical one. Executives and investors taking meetings in the Oval Office to feed the president policies that directly line their pockets is happening now. The executives didn’t even need to fly to Palm Beach to do it.
From Russia with Love
Trump’s Russia Ties Are Becoming a Nightmare
New reports reveal that members of the Trump campaign frequently spoke with Russian intelligence officials during the presidential election.
Less than one month after he was sworn in, Donald Trump’s presidency appears to be mired in a continuing, seemingly unending cloud of scandal. It deepened on Tuesday evening as reports from CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post revealed that United States intelligence and law enforcement officials had intercepted communications between suspected Russian operatives and a number of people associated with both the Trump campaign and the Trump Organization. The timing of the conversations, which took place last summer, broadly coincided with evidence that the Kremlin was looking to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in Trump’s favor. It is not unusual for presidential campaigns to have contact with foreign governments, but the frequency of the communications—which were collected in ongoing, routine surveillance of Russian officials—was notable, given Trump’s bizarre praise of Vladimir Putin, despite heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia.
These latest reports focus on a number of key figures in Trumpworld. Mike Flynn, who resigned in disgrace on Monday after it was discovered that he had unauthorized conversations with Russia during the transition, was among the individuals in regular contact with suspected Kremlin operatives during the campaign. (Before ascending to national security adviser, Flynn was a campaign adviser.) The reports also implicated former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has long-standing ties to Russian politics; veteran Republican operative and Trump-ally Roger Stone; and Carter Page, an investment banker who served as a policy adviser on the campaign. Manafort, who is ensnared in a broader U.S. intelligence probe regarding the Russian government and the Trump campaign, denied that he was in contact with Russian intelligence officials. He characterized the allegations as “boggling” to CNN. “This is absurd,” Manafort told the Times. “I have no idea what this is referring to. I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today.” (Stone and Page have also denied any wrongdoing.)
The revelation that Flynn and a number of other Trump associates were in contact with potential Russian intelligence officials during the campaign comes at a time of intense scrutiny of the Trump White House. Last month, acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed White House Counsel Donald McGahn of the discrepancies between the administration’s public statements about Flynn’s call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Vislyak before Trump's inauguration, and what was revealed in the intercepted communications. The president, Steve Bannon, and Reince Priebus were made aware of the issue, the Post reports. However, Vice President Mike Pence, who told the media that the conversations were personal in nature and not related to the recently imposed sanctions, was kept in the dark. In fact, according to the Times, Pence was unaware that Flynn had discussed the sanctions until news reports surfaced. Marc Lotter, a spokesperson for Pence, told the newspaper, “He did an inquiry based on those accounts.” Another source described the vice president as “ballistic” after he learned that he was misled and kept uninformed. (A spokesperson for Flynn told the Post last week that the then national security adviser “indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”)
The Trump White House's fumbling response merely underscores recent reports about a miasma of incompetence in the West Wing. The Post reports that “denials kept ”—a Trump favorite—“afloat within the White House even as he was being actively evaluated.” Following Flynn’s resignation on Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters, “We’ve been reviewing and evaluating this issue with respect to General Flynn on a daily basis for a few weeks, trying to ascertain the truth.” Spicer added that while the administration reached the conclusion Flynn hadn’t broken any laws, “the evolving and eroding level of trust” as a result of the situation prompted the president to ask for Flynn's resignation. (Flynn could be exposed to a felony charge if it is determined that he lied to the F.B.I. during a January interview about his communications with Vislyak.)
Leon Panetta, former White House chief of staff, secretary of defense, and C.I.A. director said he has, “never been more nervous” about what will happen in Washington. “I don’t know whether this White House is capable of responding in a thoughtful or careful way should a crisis erupt,” Panetta continued in an interview on Tuesday, the Times reports. “You can do hit-and-miss stuff over a period of time. But at some point, I don’t give a damn what your particular sense of change is all about, you cannot afford to have change become chaos.”
As Mike Allen put it, the revelations about Trump’s team have given Capitol Hill Democrats, and Republicans critical of the president, an entire ball of yarn that may take weeks to unravel. On Tuesday, top-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff told his Democratic peers in a closed-door meeting that there would be more to come surrounding Flynn’s Russian contacts, Politico reports. “This is not the end, this is just the beginning,” Representative Joseph Crowley, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, told reporters on Tuesday. “This is larger than Flynn.”
And while Democrats are left largely inert on Capitol Hill, in the minority in both houses of Congress, the latest reports give them leverage over their Republican peers. “We can't force them to do it, you're absolutely right,” Representative Linda Sánchez of California conceded on Tuesday, before adding, “but the people of the United States of America can. They just need to ratchet up the pressure.” And on Wednesday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wrote on Twitter, “Today I will be asking the Senate Intelligence Committee to thoroughly investigate if Russia coordinated with Trump and his campaign.”
From Russia with LoveWhy the Trump-Russia Nightmare Will Only Get WorseA dark cloud of scandal continues to grow over the White House.
As is so often the case with the White House, a small victory on Monday was sidelined by an incredible crisis of the Trump administration’s own creation. A smooth start to the Senate confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch should have been an easy win for Donald Trump; instead, the esteemed judge’s public debut was overshadowed by James Comey’s brutal five-hour testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, during which the F.B.I. director offered a historic rebuke of the sitting president when he confirmed the existence of an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and dismissed Trump’s astounding—and unsubstantiated—allegation that his predecessor had wiretapped Trump Tower. Despite the Trump team’s best efforts to spin the hearing and downplay the revelation, Comey’s testimony came as a historic blow to the two-month old administration, virtually guaranteeing that the White House would remain under suspicion and mired in scandal for well beyond its first 100 days.
Comey’s bombshell testimony, which was amplified by blistering comments from National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers, forced the White House on the defensive. Republicans on the House Intelligence panel did their best to carry water for the embattled administration, grilling Comey and Rogers on the illegality of the leaks that brought details of the ongoing investigation to press. Press secretary Sean Spicer tried in earnest to control the damage by claiming, laughably, that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort—who is among the people under investigation by the F.B.I.—played only a “limited role” in the campaign. He also described Mike Flynn, a top adviser to the Trump campaign who went on to serve as national security adviser before resigning, as a “volunteer.”
Throughout Washington, however, there is the growing sense that the Russian scandal will not be spun away or resolved quietly. “The longer this hangs out there, the bigger the cloud,” Representative Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a former Trump transition adviser, said Monday while questioning Comey. “If you have evidence, especially as it relates to people working in the White House or in the administration, that is information we really should know.”
Like a black hole, the Russia affair is quickly growing in size and scope, consuming political capital and dragging anyone with a connection to the Trump campaign and the Kremlin into the vortex of suspicion. On Monday, months after reports first surfaced that Manafort was designated to receive $12.7 million in undisclosed payments from Ukraine’s pro-Russian party, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, Serhiy Leshchenko, leaked documents allegedly showing steps Manafort had taken to launder the money, The New York Times reports. (Manafort has continued to deny all wrongdoing.)
Democrats are already agitating to subpoena more Trump associates to drag them before the House Intelligence spotlight. “We've heard from the easy witnesses, right? We’ve heard from the director and Admiral Rogers,” Rep. Eric Swalwell, a member of the committee, said Tuesday morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “The harder witnesses are going to be people like Michael Flynn, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, bringing individuals in who were actually witnesses to what was going on.”
Members of the Trump administration are certainly not making things easier on themselves by continuing to ignore or dismiss even the most sober, grounded concerns about Russia. Hours after Spicer tried to disappear both Manafort and Flynn from history, Reuters reported that Rex Tillerson, who has largely stayed off the radar despite his own longstanding ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, plans to skip what would be his first NATO meeting in order to attend a meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jingping that weekend at Mar-a-Lago. Days later, the secretary of state is also scheduled to meet with Putin, fueling speculation that Trump—who has called NATO “obsolete” and sparked concerns for his effusive praise of Putin—intends continue his alignment with Russia—a curious decision given the current political climate. “It feeds this narrative that somehow the Trump administration is playing footsie with Russia,” one former U.S. official told Reuters. “You don’t want to do your early business with the world's great autocrats. You want to start with the great democracies, and NATO is the security instrument of the transatlantic group of great democracies,” he added.
With Trump already battling dismal approval ratings, any appearance that the White House is cozying up to Russia amid the ongoing investigation into Trump’s Kremlin ties will only further damage public perception of his presidency. “The underlying thing is huge (potentially),” Matt Miller, who served in the Justice Department under President Obama said of the situation to Axios. “Even if the underlying thing ends up not being real, investigations can still produce leaks and charges over cover-up.” Already on Monday, there were signs that the F.B.I. investigation is taking on a life of its own. When Comey told the House Intelligence Committee that he “was not going to comment on anybody,” he thrust the entire West Wing under suspicion, one source close to the administration told Mike Allen. “You flush people out by making a comment like that. You let it sit there, then later go get everybody’s email and texts . This is how you get a lot of people having to hire lawyers.”
Russia InvestigationThe Trump-Russia Scandal Is Beginning to SnowballA series of developments has guaranteed that the investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to the Kremlin will accelerate.
The federal investigations into the Russian hacking of the 2016 presidential election are beginning to come to a head. On Wednesday, Adam Schiff, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, asserted that there is “more than circumstantial evidence now” to support the contention that Donald Trump’s campaign may have colluded with the Russian government to derail Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. Hours later, CNN reported that the F.B.I. had evidence that suggests Trump associates “communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”
As part of the ongoing Justice Department investigation, the F.B.I. is reviewing “human intelligence, travel, business, and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings,” according to the CNN report. U.S. officials told the outlet that while the information law enforcement has is largely circumstantial, it has become a focus of the investigation. One law-enforcement official said that “people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready.” Others cautioned that it is premature to draw conclusions in the midst of the ongoing probe. (The White House and Trump associates have continued to deny any wrongdoing.)
The latest developments come at a critical moment for President Trump. For three days, the White House has been on the defensive after F.B.I. director James Comey confirmed the existence of the Justice Department investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin and dismissed Trump’s astonishing—and unsubstantiated—claim that President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump tower. On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had signed a $10 million contract with a Russian oligarch in 2006 to “benefit the Putin government.”
Later that same day, Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, generated additional controversy when he held a press conference to announce that Trump and his staff may have been surveilled through a process known as “incidental collection,” and that they may have been “unmasked,” meaning their identities were disclosed in intelligence reports. “I have seen intelligence reports that clearly show that the president-elect and his team were, I guess, at least monitored,” Nunes told reporters. “It looks to me like it was all legally collected, but it was essentially a lot of information on the president-elect and his transition team and what they were doing.” The White House was quick to jump on Nunes’s comments, which press secretary Sean Spicer read during the daily press briefing on Wednesday. And Trump, who has not backed down on his accusation against Obama, told reporters that he felt “somewhat” vindicated after he spoke with Nunes, who personally briefed the White House. But the reprieve was short-lived.
Schiff was enraged that his Republican counterpart had held a press conference and briefed the president—a potential target of the investigation—before speaking with the House Intelligence Committee. In an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd later in the day, Schiff pushed the Trump-Russia scandal into overdrive by revealing that the investigation was further along than previously reported. “I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now,” he said. When pressed by Todd on whether he had seen “direct evidence of collusion,” the California congressman responded, “I don’t want to go into specifics, but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of investigation, so that is what we ought to do.”
Schiff also tore into Nunes for his decision to brief both Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and the president before informing his fellow committee members of the the information he'd obtained. “The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House, because he cannot do both,” Schiff said during a news conference, Politico reports.
Schiff was not alone in his criticism of Nunes. Democratic Representative Jim Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said his colleague's visit to the White House “raises all sorts of questions” and “it all feels very, very odd.” Eric Swalwell, another panel member, echoed the sentiment. “The House Intelligence Committee is charged with investigating Russia's interference into our election and whether any U.S. persons were involved,” Swalwell wrote in a statement. “The chairman's actions and closeness to a president whose campaign is under federal investigation have gravely damaged the Investigation's credibility.” Meanwhile, Senator John McCain derided both congressmen for their actions and argued that they “lost credibility” and called for a special committee to continue the investigation. “It's a bizarre situation,” the Arizona Republican senator said during an interview with MSNBC. “I think that this back and forth and what the American people have found so far is that no longer does Congress have the credibility to handle this alone.”
By John Lee.
AM General has been awarded a $28,195,632 modification (P00025) to foreign military sales (Iraq) contract W56HZV-15-C-0155 to procure 150 M1151A1B1 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled vehicles for the government of Iraq.
Work will be performed in South Bend, Indiana, with an estimated completion date of May 31, 2017.
(Source: US Dept of Defense)
Post your commentary below.
By John Lee.
Iraqi oil minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi has announced that the last remaining oil fire at the Qayara oil field has been extinguished.
The Islamic State group (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) had sabotaged 34 of the 50 wells at Qayara, setting 18 of them on fire.
The Minister expressed his gratitude to the staff of the North Oil Company (NOC), the supporting oil companies, the civil defense, the security forces, the local administration in the zone and the governorate, the tribes and the civilians. He also confirmed the keenness of the ministry to speed-up the rehabilitation & development of Qayara and preparing the necessary plans for this process.
(Source: Ministry of Oil)
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The death of innocent civilians during war is a terrible tragedy that weighs heavily on everyone, the commander of the coalition effort to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria told Pentagon reporters today.
Speaking from Baghdad via teleconference, Army Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, addressed reports of civilian casualties on March 17 in Mosul, Iraq.
Townsend said the coalition takes all casualty reports “very seriously” and uses a deliberate approach to assess every one and report the results publicly. Air Force Brig. Gen. Matthew C. Isler is leading a credibility assessment now under way on the reported civilian casualties, which could lead to a formal investigation, he added.
“Right now there are a lot of conflicting reports what brought down the building or buildings that caused civilian casualties,” Townsend said. “What we know for sure is we did conduct a strike in that area. What we don’t know for certain is if that strike is responsible for the casualties in question.”
The general noted reports that ISIS might have trapped civilians in a house and rigged it to blow up and that a secondary vehicle-borne homemade bomb might have destroyed the house.
“It could have been a combination of events that caused this tragedy, and that’s why we’re hesitant to say anything definitive until our proper process is completed,” Townsend said.
“I’ll say this: If we did it – and there’s a fair chance that we did – it was an unintentional accident of war, and we will transparently report it to you when we’re ready,” the general said.
Highest Regard For Civilians
The coalition freely and transparently takes on the responsibility to act in accordance with the law of armed conflict in all operations, Townsend told reporters.
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By John Lee.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has said that an estimated 50,000 people have died as a result of violence in Iraq since 2003.
It made the statement in its latest annual Human Development Report (HDR), entitled ‘Human Development for Everyone’, in which it ranks Iraq in 121st place out of 158 countries.
The full report is available here.
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By John Lee.
The*Central Bank of Iraq (CBI)*has reported that 35 banks and 11 remittance companies took part in its currency auction on Wednesday.
A total of $161,036,814 sold at a price of 1184 Iraqi Dinars (IQD) per dollar.
(Source: Central Bank of Iraq)
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Petition to Melania Trump: Move to the White House or pay for your own security at Trump Tower
A petition to force First Lady Melania Trump to move to the White House or to pick up the costs for her security at Trump Tower has surpassed the 130,000 mark.
The first lady intends to stay in New York until the couple's 11-year-old son Barron finishes the school year in June.
"The US taxpayer is paying an exorbitant amount of money to protect the First Lady in Trump Tower, located in New York City," the petition states. "As to help relieve the national debt, this expense yields no positive results for the nation and should be cut from being funded."
If the Change.org petition reaches its goal of 150,000 signatures, it will be delivered to US Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
According to the New York Times, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has estimated it costs between $127,000 (£101,942) and $146,000 a day to provide protection for Melania and Barron Trump when the president is not in town.
That is further estimated to rise to $308,000 (£247,230) a day when the president is in New York—however, The Independent noted that Trump has not returned since his inauguration.
The NYPD revealed the cost to protect Trump and his family between the election and Inauguration Day reached $24m. Comments from petitioners revealed the frustrations many taxpayers have about having to pay for the Trump's security outside of Washington DC.
"This is an exorbitant expense that the United States government can not afford. Donald Trump is trying to cut all kinds of social programmes for those who are less fortunate, & yet he is allowing the government to pay millions of dollars for security for 2 people, just because they don't want to move to the White House," wrote Becky Olson-Kellogg of Minnesota. "If that is their decision, then they should be paying privately for the security — not the American taxpayers!!"
"Every first lady has lived in the white house. We pay enough for Trump's golf trips," added Lyn Siegel Siegel of New Jersey.
Trump's trips to his Palm Springs resort, Mar-a-Lago, have come under increasing scrutiny, particularly from Democratic lawmakers.
On Monday (28 March), the Government Accountability Office announced it would review how classified information is kept secure at the Florida golf course, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, Florida Democrats have claimed that Trump's frequent weekend visits to Mar-a-Lago have become a source of great "financial burden" on the local government. Local lawmakers have urged the president to reduce the number of times he visits or to help pay for the expenses.
Representative Lois Frankel wrote a letter to the president in which he laid out the expenses that Palm Beach County has taken on for his visits.
"While we want the fullest protection for your visits, we hope you would be responsive to the losses of small businesses and residents of Palm Beach County," Frankel wrote.
"If compensation is not assured of being forthcoming, we respectfully ask that you curtail your visits until such time as that matter is resolved favourably to our area."
Frankel said that the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department and Fire Rescue have spent more than $1.7m in overtime costs. The city has also taken on an additional $60,000 (£48,161) overtime expense for law enforcement that handle Trump-related protests. Lantana Airport has
reportedly lost $170,000 (£136,458) over flight restrictions, while other companies at the airport have lost an estimated $720,000 (£577,941).
Folks, this is what happens when YOU sustain the lavish lifestyle of the SUPER RICH, like Donaldof Trumpler.....he crave the high life climate, at YOUR expense....It is your hard earned tax dollars at work...aren't you proud of it?
Common Folks...at some point in time you all have to come to your senses and realize that God gave you something between and above your shoulders called head and that head houses a soft, semi-rigid structure called brain. The brain allows you process daily information that in turns helps you to make educated decisions. And part of those thoughts are that Donaldof and his Croony Family are sucking the life out of ordinary Americans who pay top tax dollars while they pay a BIG ZERO in tax money.....is this fair for you ? .... Is like this....would you like your neighbor next door not to pay any taxes and living good while your bust your rear end working, paying more taxes every year?
Well..that is the Donaldof Trumpler scenario..
Just Think About It.
Now we know why Trump panicked about Russia probe
You know things are looking grim for President Trump when he starts tweeting about Hillary Clinton again. Monday evening he sounded trapped and wounded: “Why isn’t the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech.” Well, perhaps it is because she is not president, did not hold back her tax returns, did not constantly cheer for Vladimir Putin, did not hire a host of pro-Putin flunkies and did not have aides who lied about contact with Russian officials.
Trump’s tweet certainly appears to be an attempt to deflect attention and to shift discussion away from the newest revelation about the Trump Russia scandal. The Post reports:
The Trump administration sought to block former acting attorney general Sally Yates from testifying to Congress in the House investigation of links between Russian officials and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, The Washington Post has learned, a position that is likely to further anger Democrats who have accused Republicans of trying to damage the inquiry.
According to letters The Post reviewed, the Justice Department notified Yates earlier this month that the administration considers a great deal of her possible testimony to be barred from discussion in a congressional hearing because the topics are covered by the presidential communication privilege.
That will strike many as a ham-handed attempt to interfere with the investigation. Moreover, it makes the decision House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) (who remains under fire for his bizarre secret trip to the White House to view alleged information from some unidentified source, which he still has not revealed to other members of the committee) made to cancel an open hearing look once again like water-carrying for the White House.
Rep. Nunes apologizes for handling of Trump surveillance claim
House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) apologized to colleagues, March 23, after facing backlash for going to the White House before consulting them about what he said was fresh intelligence about surveillance of the president. (Reuters)
Nunes’s fondness for the cameras and determination to throw up dust on behalf of the president has already sparked calls from Democrats, including Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), for Nunes to recuse himself. “We’ve reached the point, after the events of this week, where it would be very difficult to maintain the credibility of the investigation if the chairman did not recuse himself from matters involving either the Trump campaign or the Trump transition team of which he was a member,” Schiff said.
Appearing on CBS this morning Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) joined the chorus of voices lambasting Nunes:
NORAH O’DONNELL: Let me ask you about what Chairman Nunes has done. Do you think it was appropriate that he went to go view these so-called intelligence reports on White House grounds?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Well, I think there needs to be a lot of explaining to do. I’ve been around for quite a while and I’ve never heard of any such thing. And– obviously– in a committee like an intelligence committee, you’ve got to have bipartisanship, otherwise the committee loses– credibility.
And so– l– there’s so much out there that needs to be explained by the chairman. And– look– if– this is a very serious issue. It all started with Russian interference– attempt to change the outcome of our election. And so, it’s turning into a centipede like these things have a tendency of doing. And another shoe seems to drop every few days.
NORAH O’DONNELL: And I know that’s why you have called for a select committee, an independent committee, because of the seriousness of these allegations. Should Chairman Nunes reveal his source?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Well, absolutely. I can’t imagine why not. And I also believe that the entire committee should be engaged. The reason why the armed services committee– honestly does, is successful is we work in a bipartisan fashion. Senator Burr and Senator Warner on our intelligence committee are in the Senate, work closely together. They may have differences, but– you’ve got to have a bipartisan approach to an issue such as this if you want to be credible. . . .
There is more engagement– with– with false information. There is– a lot more associated with Russian attempts to affect America. Our election, but there’s also a lot of other Russian activities going on. For example, right now, they’re attempting to affect the outcome in France.
Stopping just short of demanding Nunes recuse himself, McCain’s open criticism of Nunes nevertheless opens the door for more pressure on Nunes from the GOP. Republicans may be reading polling showing Trump’s approval dropping and support for an independent commission rising. (In the latest Quinnipiac poll voters favor an independent inquest by a 66 to 29 percent margin.) Frankly, if Republicans in Congress want to demonstrate independence from a failing president and avoid constant questions about the issue they’d be smart to offload the entire matter to an independent commission or select committee. Nunes has made his own position — and Republicans’ support for him — increasingly difficult to maintain.
UPDATE: As he often does, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) gets off the best line regarding Nunes: “The problem that he’s created is he’s gone off on a lark by himself, sort of an Inspector Clouseau investigation here.” Indeed.
looks like the same information warka posted on their website back in August 2015 ....just a different document
NBC News: Hillary Clinton ‘Covered Up’ Pedophile Ring At State Department
An NBC news report claims that Hillary Clinton, while secretary of state, shut down an investigation into an elite pedophile ring in State Department ranks in order to avoid scandal and protect the careers of high ranking officials and an ambassador.
he NBC investigation was broadcast at a time when they were a real news organization rather than a branch of the Democratic Party’s PR department, and provided internal State Department memos to back up claims of a massive Hillary Clinton elite pedophile ring cover-up.
“Serious allegations concerning the State Department,” the NBC anchor announced, before launching into the disturbing details that mainstream media would be unable to report on in 2017.
“According to internal State Department memos the agency might have called off or intervened into investigations into possibly illegal, inappropriate behavior within it’s ranks allegedly to protect jobs and avoid scandals.
“This concerns a time when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.”
“There is an old saying in Washington that the cover-up is worse than the crime. But in this case both parts of it are disturbing,” Chuck Todd continued.
“Allegations of prostitution and pedophilia, and allegations that those crimes were somehow covered up or not looked into. So the State Department this morning is having to respond to those claims, and those investigations involve misconduct by State Department officials, including an Ambassador and security agents attached to then secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.
Saw this just posted on warkas website. seems to be old news. This is a google translation of the webpage...
/ Circulation raising the
Annex The Central Bank of Iraq circulates to all institutions and government companies to raise the guardianship and allow the bank to exercise all its activities and activities
Anyone know anything?
link to page in arabic - http://www.warka-bank.com/?0d64a1934dcafd4bf6a2baffb6
there is also a broken link to a document http://www.warka-bank.com/newsImgs/news1490727352.jpg