Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Health Care Bill in the Intensive Care Unit.
Doubts Ryan and Trump have the votes to pass the bill in the House, but the arm twisting continues to move Freedom Caucus members to the “yes” side.
If the vote is postponed, you will know Ryan did not convince enough members on the party’s right.
The New York Times has the most accurate headline: Leaders Struggle to Unite House Republicans Behind Health Bill. The words in the article are “uncertain fate.”
◆ Islamist attack near Big Ben and Parliament kills 5, including a police officer, and injures dozens
The extent of the terrorist’s support network and connections are being investigated urgently by British police and intelligence units.
Prime Minister Theresa May was resolute in response, saying Parliament would not postpone its Thursday session.
Comment: Before becoming PM, May was in charge of Britain’s homeland security and was highly regarded in the position. She’s the ideal politician to lead her country through this difficult time.
◆ “House Intelligence chair says Trump campaign officials were ensnared in surveillance operations” (Washington Post)
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday accused U.S. spy agencies of abusing their surveillance powers by gathering and sharing information about President Trump and his transition team, an unproven charge that was quickly embraced by the White House but threatened to derail the committee’s investigation of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), one of Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, said he was alarmed after seeing intelligence reports disseminated after the Nov. 8 election that made references to U.S. citizens affiliated with Trump, and possibly the president-elect himself. –Washington Post
His Democratic counterpart on the committee, Adam Schiff, immediately blasted Nunes for revealing this to Trump and to the public before disclosing it privately to fellow committee members.
Comment: I watched CNN’s take on this. It skimmed over the issue headlined in the Washington Post and, instead, emphasized Adam Schiff’s position that Nunes had destroyed the investigation and that an independent commission was now needed. The cable channel virtually ignored the substance of Nunes’ comments, which implied that some intelligence agencies did collect information on Trump campaign officials and might have shared it within the Obama White House, a serious charge.
CNN panelists kept emphasizing the Russia investigation and suggesting that Trump’s impeachment was a real possibility if collusion was found. The CNN story is here.
◆ “Iran Charges Russia with Selling Out its Air Defense Secrets to Israel” (Popular Mechanics)
An engineer with Tehran’s Ministry of Defense alleged that codes forcing anti-aircraft missiles to treat hostile Israeli fighters as friendly were sold to Tel Aviv, effectively neutralizing Syria and Iran’s S-300 surface-to-air missile systems.
An Iranian official, described by the Jerusalem Post as a senior member of Iran’s Defense Ministry, told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida that Russia had sold “codes” to Israel that identified Israeli aircraft as friendly. The codes were used by Israel to prevent its aircraft from being targeted. Israel has flown dozens of air raids over Syria, and despite advanced air defenses, only the latest raid, flown last Friday, involved an actual missile launch. –Popular Mechanics
Comment: Well, those allies in the Syrian fight seem to have some differences.
Hard to know if the Iranian charges are true, but it is known that the Israelis generally have good relations with Russia and have worked assiduously to make sure Israeli planes do not create problems for Moscow when they fly over Syria to interdict Tehran’s shipments to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah is a client Iran supplies with lethal tools to threaten Israel. Israel, in turn, tries to prevent those ships as they transit Syria, and it wants to do so without creating conflicts with Moscow.
◆ “New research identifies a ‘sea of despair’ among white, working-class Americans” (Washington Post)
Sickness and early death in the white working class could be rooted in poor job prospects for less-educated young people as they first enter the labor market, a situation that compounds over time through family dysfunction, social isolation, addiction, obesity and other pathologies, according to a study published Thursday by two prominent economists [Anne Case and Nobel-prize-winner Angus Deaton] –Washington Post
Comment: This confirms what Charles Murray wrote in his pathbreaking book, Coming Apart. Murray, you will recall, is the scholar whose presence at Middlebury College set off left-wing students, who rioted, prevented him from speaking, and injured Prof. Allison Stanger, who was escorting him.