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British general says there’s no evidence of ‘increased threat’ from Iran — undermining Trump-Bolton war narrative

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A British general threw a wrench into the Trump administration’s narrative that Iran is plotting attacks on American troops in the Middle East by telling reporters gathered at the Pentagon Tuesday that “there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces” in the region.

“We monitor them along with a whole range of others because that’s the environment we’re in,” said Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, speaking via video from Baghdad. “If the threat level seems to go up then we’ll raise our force protection measures accordingly.”

Apparently eager to squash the general’s remarks, the U.S. Central Command issued a statement just hours later disputing Ghika’s comments and repeating national security adviser John Bolton’s unsubstantiated claim that American intelligence has “identified credible threats” from “Iranian-backed forces” in Iraq and Syria.

The public dispute came as anti-war voices and foreign policy analysts warned that the United States, led by Bolton, may be attempting to manufacture a false pretext to justify launching a war with Iran.

As Common Dreams reported on Tuesday, U.S. officials are—without any concrete evidence—attempting to blame Iran for attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz over the weekend.

The effort to pin the tanker attacks on Iran came just over a week after Bolton used the planned deployment of an American aircraft carrier and bomber task force to the Persian Gulf to threaten Iran with military action and warn—again, without evidence—of “escalatory indications” from Iran.

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According to the New York Times—which reported Monday that President Donald Trump has reviewed a Bolton-crafted plan to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East to threaten Iran—Trump administration officials are having a difficult time convincing America’s European allies to join them on their march to war.

As the Times reported Tuesday:

Intelligence and military officials in Europe as well as in the United States said that over the past year, most aggressive moves have originated not in Tehran, but in Washington—where John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, has prodded President Trump into backing Iran into a corner.

One American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential internal planning, said the new intelligence of an increased Iranian threat was “small stuff” and did not merit the military planning being driven by Mr. Bolton. The official also said the ultimate goal of the yearlong economic sanctions campaign by the Trump administration was to draw Iran into an armed conflict with the United States.

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The anonymous American official’s assessment aligns with that of foreign policy observers, who have urgently warned in recent days that the Trump administration is escalating tensions with Iran in an effort to provoke an attack and spark an all-out war.

“John Bolton is methodically setting the stage for war with Iran—forcing Iran into a corner and then readying war plans for when Iran takes the bait,” Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, said in a statement on Monday.

Iran has thus far acted with restraint in the face of U.S. belligerence, urging diplomacy and attempting to restart negotiations with Europe over the terms of the Iran nuclear accord.

With tensions between the two nations reaching dangerous levels, U.S. Democratic presidential candidates have joined progressive anti-war groups in vowing to oppose the Trump administration’s efforts to start a military conflict with Iran.

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In a speech streamed online Tuesday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said “a war with Iran would be an absolute disaster.”

“The United States Congress must do everything it can,” said Sanders, “to prevent the Trump administration’s attempts to put us on the brink of a catastrophic and unconstitutional war with Iran that could lead to even more deaths than the Iraq War.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) echoed Sanders in a tweet Tuesday night, announcing her decision to co-sponsor a bill aimed at stopping a war with Iran.

“We cannot let the Trump admin drag us into yet another war in the Middle East,” Warren wrote. “This is exactly why the president doesn’t have the constitutional authority to declare war. That’s Congress’s job—and that’s why I’m supporting this legislation to prevent a war with Iran.”

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Progressive reformer claims victory in fiercely-contested Queens DA race

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Progressive reformer Tiffany Cabán has declared victory in her campaign versus Melinda Katz in the Queens District Attorney race.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Cabán held a lead of 1,090 votes, The New York Times reports.

Cabán was backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Katz was backed by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), who chairs the Queens Democratic Party, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)

https://twitter.com/CabanForQueens/status/1143721257353076737

https://twitter.com/CabanForQueens/status/1143721448168710151

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2020 Election

New 2020 poll shows Trump trailing all Democrats — some by double-digits

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President Donald Trump trails all of his Democratic rivals in hypothetical matchups of the 2020 presidential race, according to the result of a new poll released Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on Salon.

The survey, conducted by Emerson Polling, found that the president lags behind former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., by 10 points nationally — 45 percent to 55 percent. He also trails Sen. Elizabeth Warren by six points — 47 percent to 53 percent —and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg by four points — 48 percent to 52 percent.

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Beto O’Rourke’s ‘war tax’ policy proposal is straight out of ‘Starship Troopers’

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Amid an overcrowded Democratic presidential candidate field, it's hard to distinguish yourself from the pack if you don't slot easily into the scale that runs from "pro-corporate centrist" to "left-populist." If you're former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke —  who falls somewhere in the middle, politically, and somewhere towards the top, looks-wise — you pull a militaristic policy proposal out of your hat that recalls some of the most campy pseudo-fascist sci-fi ever written.

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Trump endorses killing journalists, like Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Online ad networks are now targeting sites that cover acts of violence against dissidents, LGBTQ people and people of color.

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