USA Demands NATO Members to Increase Military Spending

The United States demanded today that the other member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) increase military expenditures and contributions to the alliance before the end of 2017.

At a press conference, US Vice President Mike Pence indicated that the White House offers until the end of the year for Canada and European allies to make 'real progress' in their investments in defense and the distribution of financial burdens in the group.

The statement came after a meeting here with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who agreed with the positions of the US executive.

According to Pence, the United States wants the allies to 'keep their promise and do more for our common defense,' and asserted that President Donald Trump 'expects real progress by the end of 2017.'

Currently, the northern power government covers more than 70 percent of the cost of NATO, and 'we are committed to our part, but the time has come for the allies to take a step forward,' the representative of the White House said.

Many allies, some of the largest, still fail to meet the target of rising their spending on defense to two percent of Gross Domestic Product in a decade as agreed in 2014 during a NATO summit in Wales, he said.

'Our country has made continuous investments in European security and we see that the European countries are left behind,' he stressed.

According to Pence, Stoltenberg's 'leadership' in NATO places the increase in defense spending as 'first priority', which satisfies his country.

'Europeans cannot ask for more from the United States if they do not commit more,' Stoltenberg said.

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Washington: New Delusions of Donald Trump

Once again the acting president of the United States waded against his media.

A report from EFE read that when he spoke at the Floridian international airport of Orlando.

What did the multimillionaire president tell them?

"Despite all his lies, of his misrepresentations and fake stories, they could not defeat us in the primaries and they could not defeat us in the elections."

We will keep exposing them for what they are, and more importantly, we will keep winning, and winning", he said.

The leader began his speech after publishing on Twitter: "the media with fake news", like The New York Times or the CNN, they are "the enemy of the American People".

I want to speak to you without the filter of fake news, he told his followers the head of the White House.

"Dishonest press can’t simply tell the truth, they have said that we’ve been wrong for two years."

Trump even dared say the media had become mostly part of the problem and they integrate "the corrupt system".

  

He went even further when he recited "Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln, to say that they got the attention of the media "on his lies."

He also promised to make a great effort to prevent them to get away with it.

They have their own agenda he added, and their agenda is not your agenda, he highlighted.

Observers consider that what Trump said in Orlando, Florida, represents his devastating critic against the North American press.

For years, everybody has witnessed, television stations, radio stations and large newspapers and magazines of the United States have distorted the Cuban reality, the truth about Venezuela and other countries of the area.

Taking into account what Trump said it’s worth wondering, do they also include what happened in this regard?

Not likely, Donald Trump's delusions are not fond of immolation.

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Private Prisons to Profit Handsomely Off Trump Immigrant Raids

Prisons are already filled to the brim with immigrant detainees, and critics warns that Trump policies are likely to exacerbate already squalid conditions.

U.S. President Donald Trump has begun to follow through on his promise to crack down on immigration and roll out harsh border securitization, and while undocumented immigrants will face the suffer the gravest repercussions, private prisons, on the other hand, stand to be the biggest beneficiaries.

In just two weeks since Trump signed an executive order calling for the expansion of immigrant detention facilities at or near the border with Mexico, stocks for private prison companies have surged.

While the Obama administration implemented the most heavy-handed measures against immigrants compared to any other president — actions that earned him the monicker “deporter-in-chief” — Trump is expected to substantially ramp-up the mass immigrant detention system Obama put in place.

Prisons are already filled to the brim with immigrant detainees, and critics warn that Trump's anti-immigrant policies and mass apprehensions are likely to exacerbate the squalid conditions.

Carl Takei, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, told the LA Times that there is likely to be “an enormous boondoggle for the private prison industry.”

“The immigration system already lacks rigorous oversight and transparency,” he explained. “And now there’s this perfect storm — a push to rapidly expand the system, a lack of existing oversight and the profit motive driving these companies.”

Private prison companies already provide a much lower cost to keep inmates, compared to federally run Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities. That profit motive is at the expense of decent conditions in these centers.

A prime example is the Willacy County Correctional Center, in Willacy County, Texas. Conditions in the prison were so bad that detainees engaged in a mass uprising, cutting and burning holes in their tents, wielding pipes and brooms and taking control of the prison for nearly two days. After the incident, the Bureau of Prisons shut down the facility in 2015, deeming it “uninhabitable,” and transferred all the inmates to other federal prisons.

“The level of human suffering was just unbelievable,” Kathleen Baldoni, a former Willacy nurse, told a congressional briefing in 2009.

In addition, a 2010 human rights report stated that for every 1,358 inmates, there was only one physician on staff. The next year, a PBS documentary investigated more than a dozen allegations of sexual abuse by Willacy guards.

With Trump and his anti-immigration policies in the White House, heavy-handed immigration enforcement is likely to continue to rely on private prisons with just as squalid conditions. And the private corporations are already salivating over the prospect.

According to the Associated Press, the largest private prison operator in the U.S., CoreCivic — formerly the Corrections Corporation of America — has said it is able to provide the extra detention facilities needed to enforce Trump's executive orders on immigration.

The corporation's stocks had slumped last year when the Obama administration inched toward easing private prison use, but the company's economic outlook bounced back with a 43 percent jump in its stocks the day after Trump's election.

Trump’s executive order requires the detention of all migrants that cross the southern border, including minors and women with children. In 2016, more than 400,000 migrants were apprehended when crossing the border.

John Kelly, Trump's pick for Department of Homeland Security secretary, will lead the crackdown by tripling the number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to have more manpower to deport and detain any migrant who tries to cross, including families, minors and asylum seekers regardless of their rights under U.S. and international laws.

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US Freezes Current Assets of Venezuelan Vice President

The US Government has frozen Tuesday assets of Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami on allegations he''s involved with drug-trafficking, accusation rejected by the Government of Venezuela.

The imputations 'do not find any solid support on reality' and are part of 'an international framework to attack Venezuela,' the Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Ministry underlines in a communique.

The action was ordered by the Office for Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of Treasure, what has been seen as 'an aggression to which Venezuela will respond.'

For his part, Venezuelan Vice President El Aissami regarded this aggression as 'despicable'.

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Trump Signs Executive Orders Giving More Power to Police

Just days earlier, Trump said the crime rate in the U.S. was at its highest in 47 years, a claim contradicted by the FBI.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed three executive orders Thursday that he claims will result in a crackdown on the “threat of rising crime” in the United States and give more power to federal and local police, but legal experts argue that his claims about the crime rate contradict reality.

Shortly after the swearing-in ceremony for the now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been accused of racism in the past, Trump signed the orders by saying they were “designed to restore safety in America.”

One of the directives calls for tackling crimes against police officers, which right-wing groups claim is a growing problem and have used the issue to discredit groups like Black Lives Matter who are fighting and protesting against the continued police killings of Black people.

“I am directing the Department of Justice to reduce crimes and crimes of violence against law enforcement officers,” the president told reporters as he signed the orders. “It’s a shame, what has been happening to our great, our truly great, law enforcement officers. That is going to stop today.”

The executive order seeks to “define new federal crimes, and increase penalties for existing federal crimes, in order to prevent violence” against state and federal police.

Just days earlier Trump repeated a false statement that he issued during his campaign that the crime rate in the U.S. is at its highest in 47 years. Figures from the Federal Bureau of Investigation contradict that claim.

According to the FBI, current data shows that crime is in fact at its lowest rate in decades. In 2015, there were 372.6 cases of violent crime reported per 100,000 people.

In 2008, the year before Barack Obama took office, the violent crime rate was 458.6 cases per 100,000 people. In 1992, there were 758.2 cases per 100,000 people.

"President Trump intends to build task forces to investigate and stop national trends that don't exist," Jeffery Robinson, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

"We have seen historic lows in the country's crime rate and a downward trend in killings against police officers since the 1980s. The president not only doesn't acknowledge these facts about our nation's safety, he persists in ignoring the all-too-real deaths of Black and brown people at the hands of law enforcement."

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Suspension of Trump's 'Muslim Ban' Upheld by Appeals Court

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has announced that it will not block a lower-court ruling that temporarily froze Trump's controversial executive order.

A federal appeals court Thursday refused to reinstate President Donald Trump's ban on people traveling to the United States from seven Muslim-majority nations.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced it will not block a lower-court ruling that temporarily froze Trump's controversial executive order.

"We hold that the government has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its appeal, nor has it shown that failure to enter a stay would cause irreparable injury, and we therefore, deny its emergency motion for a stay," the court said in an official statement.

The order, titled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States," suspended the entry of emigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days. The order also prohibited the entry of refugees for 120 days.

The two U.S. states that filed the suit against Trump's executive order, Washington and Minnesota, argue that the order is unconstitutional and discriminates against Muslims. Trump's administration, however, claims the decree was a "lawful exercise" of his presidential authority.

Shortly after the decision was released, Trump took to Twitter to fire back.

Last week, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of Trump's executive order. The Seattle-based judge questioned the use of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks as the basis for the ban, arguing that no one from the seven listed countries had carried out attacks on U.S. soil. He opposed the order, deeming it unconstitutional, saying it had to be "based in fact, as opposed to fiction."

   Robart also ruled that the states have legal standing to sue, which could help Democratic Party politicians take Trump to court on diverse issues beyond immigration.

Robart's Feb. 3 nationwide block on Trump's order also elicited harsh words from the president: “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!" Earlier that day, a federal judge in Boston refused to extend a temporary restraining order that allowed some immigrants into the United States from countries affected by Trump's executive order.

The "Muslim Ban" issued on Jan. 27 triggered uprisings at U.S. airports across the country. Hundreds of protesters packed into arrival areas to demonstrate against the decree and to show their solidarity with travelers abroad who were turned back from flights into the United States.

The Justice Department, which does not usually comment on ongoing litigation, said it was “considering its options," the Huffington Post reports.

Trump is expected to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Mexico: Trump Wall to Have Ecological Costs

The wall that President Donald Trump ordered to build on the US-Mexico border will have ecological costs, asserted today Gerardo Ceballos from the Institute of Ecology of the Mexico National Autonomous University (UNAM).

The expert recalled that the fence would be extended over more than 3,000 kilometers, through some of the richest biodiversity sites of the continent. Reptiles, mammals, even amphibians will be affected in their mobility, stressed Ceballos in an interview with Televisa.

He stressed that the most affected will be mammals, in particular the jaguar (in danger of extinction), gray wolf, black bear and even bison that move on the border.

To these species climate change will make them more vulnerable with the wall, because they will no longer be able to look for better sites to the south, as they have done for centuries, noted the expert.

We are condemning these species, concluded the researcher, who urged to protect ecosystems and not to divide them.

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Cuban Business Delegation Holds Meetings in Washington

The Cuban business delegation visiting the USA has continued to hold working meetings here, being the latest with executives of the US Chamber of Commerce (USCC), port authorities and Members of Congress.

The Cuban Embassy in Washington reported that the USCC held a roundtable that was presided over by the Vice President of its Americas division, Jodi Hanson Bond. She had visited Havana in mid-January with the Chamber's Chairman, Thomas j. Donohue, who met President Raul Castro and Finance and Prices Minister Lina Pedraza.

The business delegation also met on Tuesday with Kurt Nagle, Chairman of the American Port Authorities Association, a body that represents 140 ports and 240 maritime providers from Canada, USA, Latin America and the Caribbean. Cuban Ambassador, Jose Ramón Cabañas, wrote in the Embassy's Twitter account that the visitors were welcome at the US Congress where they held a meeting with the Cuba Working Group.

Before those meetings, the Cuban business people spent two days in Virginia where they met the state secretaries of Commerce, Todd Haymore, and Agriculture and Silviculture, Basil Gooden.

There, they also held a meeting with the state Port Authority and attended the presentation of the Virginia chapter of the Engage Cuba coalition that works for lifting the economic, trade and financial blockade that persists after more than 50 years.

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