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Trump Lies and Fear-Mongers to Justify Americans Paying for His Mexican Border Wall

True to form, president Donald Trump’s populated his speech meant to justify his $5.7 billion Mexican border wall with outright lies admixed with blatant racism and fear-mongering.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – True to form, president Donald Trump’s populated his speech meant to justify his $5.7 billion Mexican border wall with outright lies admixed with blatant racism and fear-mongering.

Trump tried in vain to convince the American people he was telling the truth when he claimed his border wall is needed to stem a fictional “immigration crisis” at the border with Mexico. He again demanded American taxpayers pay for his “beautiful” steel border wall, and offered no concessions to amend the $5.7 billion he demands.

Trump’s nine minute-long rant on prime time TV today was widely criticized for being packed with absolute lies to make the point the wall Trump had long said Mexico will pay for must now be paid for by Americans.

Trump portrayed the Mexico border as an open gate for criminals such as rapists, terrorists and people with dangerous diseases. It was a refrain from the lies he told when he first announced his candidacy for U.S. president in 2015.

In an example of bare-faced racism, Trump said his wall will stop the shedding of “American blood” by illegal immigrants from Mexico and South America. He emphasized that illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexican border is, more than anything else, a threat to the lives of Americans.

He enumerated horrific examples of crimes committed by illegal immigrants, including a “beheading and dismembering. He said he would “never forget the pain” of survivors he’d met — if he’d met with any at all, which is doubtful.

“How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job? For those who refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask to imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken,” said Trump, who has lied or misled more than 6,000 times since assuming the presidency in January 2017.

Trump also repeated his outright lie that 90 percent of the heroin entering the U.S. crosses over from Mexico despite data showing that most of this drug enters through legal points of entry such as airports and seaports away from the Mexican border.

He alleged the “Southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs” and that it was necessary to “stop the criminal gangs, drug smugglers and human traffickers.”

Trump said a “barrier is absolutely critical to national security” despite his own federal government data showing that total illegal crossings in 2017 were lower than in either 2016 or 2014, and far lower than its peak in the year 2000.

In her rebuttal speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the real problem is Trump’s “cruel and counter-productive policies” making the border ever more dangerous for vulnerable migrants, including young families.

She reminded Americans that on the very first day of this Congress, House Democrats passed Senate Republican legislation to reopen government and fund smart, effective border security solutions.

She said Trump rejected these bipartisan bills which would reopen government “over his obsession with forcing American taxpayers to waste billions of dollars on an expensive and ineffective wall — a wall he always promised Mexico would pay for.”

Pelosi pointed out the women and children at the border are not a security threat but “are a humanitarian challenge — a challenge that President Trump’s own cruel and counterproductive policies have only deepened.

She said Trump must stop holding the American people hostage; must stop manufacturing a crisis and must reopen the government.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) assailed Trump for using his speech “to appeal to fear, not facts. Division, not unity.” He also proposed a compromise out of the mess that is Trump’s government shutdown.

“There is an obvious solution: separate the shutdown from the arguments over border security. There is bipartisan legislation — supported by Democrats and Republicans — to reopen government while allowing debate over border security to continue.”

Schumer said both Democrats and Republicans “can reopen the government AND continue to work through disagreements about policy. We can secure our border without an expensive, ineffective wall. And we can welcome legal immigrants and refugees without compromising safety and security.

“The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a thirty-foot wall.”

The speech also offered no hope for a quick end to the partial government shutdown Trump created and took full credit for. The shutdown triggered by the row over funding for the border wall has left 800,000 federal employees either unpaid or working without pay. It is now on its 18th day with no immediate end in sight.

Trump, however, did not declare a national emergency as he threatened to in previous days. Doing so would have given him the power to authorize the wall project without congressional approval, and would have ignited an even deeper political crisis and court challenges from the Democrats.

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U.S. Auto Industry Bosses Want Trump to End Trade War; Re-open Government

Leaders of the U.S. motor vehicle industry are urging the Trump administration and Congress to resolve Trump’s trade war against the world and end the government shutdown.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Leaders of the U.S. motor vehicle industry are urging the Trump administration and Congress to resolve Trump’s trade war against the world and end the government shutdown.

They also declare the political uncertainty being engendered by Trump is hobbling the industry.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV Chief Executive Mike Manley said U.S. metals tariffs imposed by trading partners in response to Trump’s will boost Fiat’s costs by $300 million to $350 million this year. The price hike comes to some $135 to $160 per vehicle.

Manley also said the U.S. government shutdown is preventing certification of one of the company’s new heavy duty pickup truck models. “The earlier it can be resolved, clearly the better,” he said.

Toyota Motor Corporation executive vice president for North American sales, Bob Carter, said the company has had to increase prices three times because of higher tariff costs. This, despite 96 percent of steel used in Toyota U.S. vehicles comes from U.S. steel plants. Carter said retaliatory tariffs boosted their vehicles prices by about $600 on average.

General Motors Company and Ford Motor Company are groaning from the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by Trump.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra promised investors the company will boost 2019 profit despite tariff-related costs and investments in electric vehicles. She restated an earlier decision to close five North American factories and cut nearly 15,000 jobs.

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. said “Certainty is something we really desire because of our product lead times. We don’t have that right now.”

Ford said he has no idea when the various trade and political issues will be resolved.

And then there’s NAFTA or its updated version Trump is trying to foist as a totally new agreement. Industry leader want the U.S. Congress decide quickly on the updated agreement’s fate.

“We just need it resolved,” said Brian Smith, CEO of Hyundai Motor Company in North America. Smith said his company needs clarity so it can adjust its supply chain as necessary. “It’s been going on way too long.”

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U.S. Army Will Test Missiles for Mobile A2/AD Zones in Asia

The U.S. Army is pushing ahead with a plan to establish mobile anti-access/anti denial (A2/AD) zones along the coastlines of allied nations in Asia and will test the first such zone in Okinawa this month.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. Army is pushing ahead with a plan to establish mobile anti-access/anti denial (A2/AD) zones along the coastlines of allied nations in Asia and will test the first such zone in Okinawa this month.

The tests will confirm the capability of its battlefield surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs) to sink warships of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) when it conducts its first-ever missile tests of these weapons in Asia on Okinawa.

The United States Forces Japan (USFJ), which is responsible for all United States Armed Forces units in Japan, has informed the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) of plans to conduct missile tests in the waters around Okinawa later this year as a deterrent against the PLAN, according to Japanese media.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense said this will be the first missile test in or around Okinawa, which is a Japanese Prefecture.

The Army will test two of its battle-proven tactical missiles on Okinawa: the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATacMS) and the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). Originally designed as land-attack missiles, both ATacMS and HIMARS are being developed into anti-ship missiles (ASMs) capable of attacking and sinking PLAN warships.

The new role for these mobile missiles is in keeping with the Army’s new concept of establishing anti-access/anti denial (A2/AD) zones along the coasts of allied nations such as Japan and the Philippines using ATacMS and HIMARS. Both these weapons are long-range missiles with a maximum range of 300 km.

Previous tests beginning 2016 sought to confirm if both SSMs could become effective ASMs. To this end, ATacMS has been upgraded to attack moving targets on land and at sea.

Using ATacMS as an ASM will eliminate the massive cost and long wait times often associated with developing a new weapons system. The newest version of ATacMS — MGM-168 ATacMS-Block IVA — can hurl its 230 kg unitary warhead towards a target 300 km away while flying at Mach 3 (3,700 km/h). This version will be converted into an ASM capable of attacking warships.

Analysts said the Army will have to integrate an existing seeker capable of detecting and tracking moving targets onto the front of the ATacMS. The seeker is effective against warships and mobile land targets such as tanks.

With this capability, what before was an Army surface-to-surface missile system will soon prevent enemy warships such as those from the PLAN from venturing inside the ATacMS kill zone.

The HIMARS mobile launcher will be shipped to Okinawa by cargo aircraft and operated by soldiers from the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division headquartered at Fort Riley, Kansas.

HIMARS can carry either one ATacMS missile or six HIMARS rockets. It gained notoriety by being one of the weapons that slaughtered more than 300 Russian mercenaries on Feb. 7, 2018 near the town of Khasham (or Al Tabiyeh) in the Deir ez-Zor governorate in Syria.

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China’s Annual Trade Surplus with U.S. in 2018 is Largest on Record

Another month and again, another record for China. China’s annual trade surplus with the United States reached the highest level on record in December, marching upwards to $57.06 billion, the largest since December 2015.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Beijing, China (4E) – Another month and again, another record for China. China’s annual trade surplus with the United States reached the highest level on record in December, marching upwards to $57.06 billion, the largest since December 2015.

And here’s another record: for all of 2018, the surplus rose by 17.2% to $323.32 billion, which is the highest level yet. Surprisingly, total bilateral trade rose by 5.7% compared to the levels seen in 2017 despite Trump’s trade war with China that began in July, said China’s General Administration of Customs.

Analysts expected the December surplus to increase to only $51.5 billion after rising to $44.71 billion in November. As in November, front loading of China’s exports to the U.S. explained the hefty number.

On the other hand, China’s monthly trade surplus with the U.S. fell to $29.87 billion compared to $35.54 billion in November. Imports from the United States grew by 0.7% year-on-year, far outpaced by a 11.3% increase in the value of exports to the U.S.

Good news for the U.S.: the value of China’s imports and exports fell by the largest value since 2016 in the 12 months to December.

Analysts said the declines reflect the reversal of a front-loading in orders before higher import tariffs were introduced in China and the U.S. earlier in the year.

Including trade with all countries, China’s trade surplus with the world fell to the lowest level since 2013. The value of Chinese imports and exports was the lowest for the year in December, adding to evidence all is not well in China today.

The value of exports plunged 7.6% year-on-year in U.S. dollar terms, coming in well below the median economist forecast for an increase of 5%. Exports fell by 4.4% in U.S. dollar terms from December 2017, missing forecasts for an increase of 3%.

China’s year-on-year drop in imports and exports was the largest since the second half of 2016. The drop mostly reflects the reversal of front-loading of trade orders before increased trade tariffs were implemented by both the U.S. and China earlier in 2018.

Compared to 2017, China’s trade surplus with the world (including the U.S.) fell to $351.8 billion, the smallest since 2013. The value of imports rose by 15.8% in U.S. dollar-denominated terms, faster than the 9.9% rise in exports.

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