Washington (AFP) - The US Army announced Friday it was stepping up its military deployment -- both troops and equipment -- in northeastern Syria despite a push to limit its presence there, a move that follows tensions with Russia in the region.US Central Command (Centcom) "has deployed Sentinel radar, increased the frequency of US fighter patrols over US forces, and deployed Bradley Fighting Vehicles to augment US forces" in the area, which is controlled by the US and its Kurdish allies, spokesman Captain Bill Urban said in a statement. The number of armored vehicles sent as reinforcement did ...
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‘Whatever side bet on stupid won big’: Steve Schmidt scorches Marco Rubio for ‘kernels of imbecility’ on Balloongate
The Chinese spy balloon traversing the United States last week with its intelligence-gathering systems disabled by the Pentagon until it was shot down over the ocean a few days later on orders of the Commander-in -Chief brought out the worst in Republicans, especially U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), who serves as the Vice Chair of the Intelligence Committee, says political strategist and Lincoln Project founder Steve Schmidt.
Rubio toured the Sunday shows yesterday, using the balloon to try to paint President Biden as weak over a balloon that multiple reports say posed no threat to the U.S.
Schmidt attacked Rubio’s “silliness and vapidity,” lamenting that, “a serious matter has been taken and twisted into kernels of imbecility by an American politician who routinely lies, dissembles and accuses his opponents of being enemies, while treating adversaries with delusion and disregard.”
“Marco Rubio believes the balloon was a deliberate provocation aimed at showing the world that America is a decaying superpower that will never meet its treaty obligations and defend Taiwan, Japan, Korea or the Philippines. The proof of this is the helplessness of America as the balloon floated overhead. Rubio’s position seems to be rooted in pretending the balloon wasn’t actually shot down — which of course it was,” Schmidt said in his Substack newsletter, pointing to the Florida Senators appearance on ABC News Sunday morning.
Sen. Rubio also went on CNN, claiming that President Biden should have gone in national television to address the American people to talk about the balloon – which posed no threat to the U.S., especially after the Pentagon minimized its surveillance capabilities.
“I don’t understand why he wouldn’t do that, and that is the beginning of dereliction of duty,” Rubio claimed.
Rubio was part of the GOP attack on President Joe Biden over the balloon, which was not the first balloon to spy on the United States – several did during the Trump years, but that administration either kept it quiet or was unaware, The Washington Post reports.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) told CBS, ‘I think this entire episode telegraphed weakness to [President] Xi [Jinping] and the Chinese government,'” The Post noted.
On Saturday U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) unleashed a series of rapid-fire tweets, making remrks like, “Was Biden concerned with upsetting his friends and Hunter’s business partners over in China when assessing the Chinese spy balloon?” and, “Almost 48 hours after public discovery, the Chinese spying balloon has been shot down. It makes you wonder, would Biden’s Department of Defense have shot it down if the American people hadn’t found out?”
Observing Rubio had many topics to choose from on Sunday, Schmidt noted he “could have talked about the staggering Chinese naval arms race that has created a fleet with more warships than the US Navy, though with a fleet far less capable. He could have talked about the vulnerability of a US fleet carrier to a precision hypersonic missile, and questioned whether the age of the carrier might be ending, given its enormous capacity for staggering casualties. He could have talked about the Chinese submarine program, or they’re out of control espionage activities in the United States.”
“Rubio chose to do none of those things. Instead, he chose to fearmonger over a balloon.”
“Maybe the ‘decline’ Rubio is talking about is evidenced by Rubio talking. Maybe the ‘decline’ that the Chinese were watching was America’s political and media ‘decline.’ Maybe they wanted to see the stupidity play out second by second like an MRI scanning a body injected with contrast dye. Maybe they wanted to settle a debate between two factions of American observers and predictors who disagreed on how we would respond. One thing is for sure: whatever side bet on stupid, won big.”
“The silliness and vapidity of Marco Rubio and his colleagues were certainly exposed by the balloon. They absolutely demonstrated a lack of capacity to measure up in a real crisis. They also demanded a response that will give the Chinese a chance to reciprocate the favor. That happened in 2001, in the months before 9/11. Like now, the event was regarded as a distraction, but was it?”
Watch the video above or at this link.
Shocking videos after earthquakes in Syria and Turkey show devastation that left more than 1,600 dead
Thousands of collapsed buildings, widespread destruction, and deep anguish were reported alongside over 2,300 dead and thousands more injured after a pair of earthquakes—an initial 7.8 tremor on the Richter scale in the early morning and another that measured 7.5—devastated Syria and Turkey on Monday.
Amid dozens of aftershocks—and the quakes being also felt in Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories—the full scale of the destruction and the ultimate death toll remains unknown, though early estimates of the dead and wounded were rising by the hour.
According to Turkey's Hurriyet Daily, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described the quakes as the most severe in the nation since 1939.
The first quake occurred just after 4:00 am local time in Kahramanmaras province, north of Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, while the second took place in the southeastern Turkey.www.commondreams.org
One television crew was reporting on the first quake in the city of Malatya, when the second one hit:
According to Al-Jazeera:
Rescuers were digging through the rubble of levelled buildings in the city of Kahramanmaras and neighbouring Gaziantep. Crumbled buildings were also reported in Adiyaman, Malatya and Diyarbakir.
The death toll in government-held areas of Syria climbed to 339, according to Syrian state media, with deaths reported in the cities of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartous.
Around the globe, human rights champions and political leaders offered sympathy to those impacted by the disaster and vowed emergency assistance to both Turkey and Syria.
Agnes Callamard, head of Amnesty International, said her organization was "in deep sorrow" following news of the disaster.
"We extend our deepest condolences to all those who have lost loved ones, and call for the Governments and international community to provide speedy search and relief," Callamard said.
Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees at the United Nations, said, "We at UNHCR stand in solidarity with the people of Türkiye and Syria affected by today's devastating earthquake and are ready to help provide urgent relief to the survivors through our field teams wherever possible."
Melania Trump was present in the White House Situation Room watching a U.S. raid that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to a new book.
The former first lady was seated among high-ranking officials watching the October 2019 raid and then suggested playing up the role of a combat dog named Conan, who cornered al-Baghdadi before the ISIS commander blew himself up with an explosive vest, killing two of his wives and two of his children, according to excerpts from a memoir by former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller published by The Hill.
“You should talk about the dog,” Melania Trump told her husband, according to Miller’s account. “Everyone loves dogs.”
Then-president Donald Trump praised the dog as "wonderful" and "talented," and he honored Conan the following month at a White House ceremony.
Miller said he was surprised to see the first lady sitting with the president, Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
“Her presence was unexpected, to say the least,” Miller wrote. “I wondered how it would play in the press if word got out that the first lady had popped in to watch a major military operation.”