~ Featuring ~  
Iran's Belligerence Shows 
Need for Saudi Alliance
Harold Hutchison
Iran's Revolutionary Guard seizes two 
UK-operated tankers in Strait of Hormuz
By Greg Norman } ~ Iran seized two British-operated oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz Friday, marking a fresh escalation of tensions between Tehran and the West... The U.K.-flagged Stena Impero, which has a crew of 23 aboard, “was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters,” Stena Bulk, the shipping company that owns the vessel, said in a statement. "We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran."Iran's Revolutionary Guard forces, in a statement on their website, say the ship was seized for "non-compliance with international maritime laws and regulations" and is being brought to an unnamed Iranian port, according to the Associated Press. Websites  tracking the ship's path showed it turning sharply in the direction of Iran's Qeshm Island, instead of its intended destination of Saudi Arabia. “We are urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf," a U.K. government spokesperson told Fox News. Approximately an hour later, a Liberian-flagged tanker operated by a British company was also seized by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and was seen on maritime tracking services making a turn toward Iran. "I'm extremely concerned by the seizure of two naval vessels by Iranian authorities in the Strait of Hormuz," UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement on Friday adding that the crew on board both ships "comprise of a range of nationalities, but we understand there are no British citizens on board either ship." "Our Ambassador in Tehran is in contact with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to resolve the situation and we are working closely with international partners," Hunt said. "These seizures are unacceptable. It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region." President Trump said Friday that Iran is "nothing but trouble" and that "we heard one, we heard two," tankers were seized...
Trump to nominate Gene Scalia, son of late 
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, 
for secretary of labor
By Gregg Re } ~ President Trump on Thursday night announced he's nominating attorney Gene Scalia, the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia... to replace Alex Acosta as secretary of labor. The surprise move -- which top Republicans privately supported -- was a visible manifestation of the close personal bond Trump has forged with the Scalia family in recent years. The  confirmation process for Justice Neil Gorsuch, who ultimately filled Justice Scalia's seat, sparked the connection. Acosta stepped down as head of the Labor Department last Friday over his past involvement in a cushy 2008 plea deal for financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is now facing federal sex trafficking charges. Acosta's resignation is to become official on Friday, when his deputy, Patrick Pizzella, will take over as acting Labor secretary pending Scalia's confirmation, officials said.Scalia, 55, has been a partner in the Washington office of the international law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He's expected to face headwinds from Democrats in his Senate confirmation hearings, in part because he routinely has represented major corporations in key cases involving workers' rights. Senate Minority Leader Chuck scumbag-Schumer, D-N.Y., condemned Scalia in a statement late Thursday. "President Trump is missing an opportunity to nominate a fighter for workers, like a union member, to be America’s next Labor Secretary," scumbag-Schumer said. "Instead, President Trump has again chosen someone who has proven to put corporate interests over those of worker rights. Workers and union members who believed candidate Trump when he campaigned as pro-worker should feel betrayed.” In 2005, Walmart hired Scalia to defend against whistleblower lawsuits by employees who alleged wrongdoing in the company. Scalia also helped overturn a Maryland law in 2006 that would have required big companies such as Walmart to spend more on employee health care in the state. That law ran afoul of a federal statute aimed at reducing red tape for certain national employers, who otherwise would have had to afford significantly different benefits to employees depending on their state of employment. The Wall Street Journal wrote in 2012 that Scalia "has emerged as one of the industry's go-to guys for challenging financial regulations."...   
House takes wrong turn on 
Cadillac health insurance tax
by Alan D. Viard } ~ I noted last month that the Cadillac health insurance tax, a valuable tool to control health care costs, was again under attack... A bill to repeal the tax before it takes effect in 2022 had drawn more than 300 sponsors in the House. Yesterday evening, the attack on the Cadillac tax advanced to the next stage, as the House  passed the repeal bill on an overwhelming 419-6 vote. The six lawmakers who found the courage to resist the juggernaut were Justin Amash (I-Michigan), Jim Cooper (D-Tennessee), Andy Harris (R-Maryland), Ron Kind (D-Wisconsin), Scott Peters (D-California), and Chip Roy (R-Texas).The repeal bill would worsen the budget imbalance. Because the bill does not include spending cuts or tax increases to offset the revenue loss from repeal, the Joint Tax Committee estimates that it would add $197 billion to deficits over the next decade. The revenue loss would rise sharply in later years. The repeal bill now moves to the Senate. When the House passed a bill last year to delay the Cadillac tax, the Senate did not act on it. However, a Senate bill to repeal the tax has drawn 43 sponsors 22 Democrats and 21 Republicans. As I have previously explained, the Cadillac tax helps correct the unlimited tax break that employer-provided health insurance receives under the income and payroll tax systems. On the positive side, the tax break has encouraged employers to provide health benefits, helping more Americans get insurance. The problem is that, because the tax break is unlimited, it has encouraged some employers to provide high-cost “Cadillac” health plans that cover routine care and feature low deductibles and copayments. Those plans increase the demand for medical services and drive up costs for other patients. When the Affordable Care Act was adopted in 2010, it called for a 40% “Cadillac tax” on high-cost employer health plans to take effect in 2018. The tax was intended to provide a crude offset to the unlimited income and payroll tax break...
PACOM: China Anti-Ship Ballistic 
Missile Tests a Signal to US, World
By Bill Gertz } ~ China recently conducted the first test of a new anti-ship ballistic missile, firing a salvo of six missiles into the South China Sea in a threatening message to the United States... the commander of the Indo-Pacific Command said Thursday. Admiral Philip Davidson, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, also revealed that China earlier conducted a test of a new nuclear ballistic missile that took place after a threatening speech last month by Chinese defense minister Wei Fenghe. Davidson, speaking at a security conference in Aspen, Colorado, bluntly outlined what he termed the "long-term strategic threat" posed by China, which is engaged in a range of pernicious activities in Asia and around the world. The four-star admiral noted that Wei, the Chinese defense minister, spoke at a security conference in Singapore in early June in remarks he described as "quite chilling." "Not only did Wei make it clear that he didn't think Asia and the Western Pacific was any place for America, he said Asia wasn't even for Asians—it was for the Chinese," Davidson said. "Within 24 hours of that they tested a new nuclear ballistic missile, not in nuclear mode necessarily." The admiral was referring to China's test of a new submarine-launched ballistic missile known as the JL-3. Then on July 8, Wei spoke to a forum of defense ministers from Latin America and Pacific island nations in China and admitted that China's global development program known as Belt and Road Initiative was indeed a basis for future military expansion. Chinese officials previously insisted there was no military component to the multitrillion-dollar initiative...   
The 'Slow Death' of Palestinians in Lebanon
by Khaled Abu Toameh
{} ~More than 100,000 Palestinians from the West Bank have permits to work in Israel, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources... In addition, the sources said, thousands of Palestinians enter Israel every day without permits. On July 15, the number of Palestinian workers who entered Israel, according to the Israeli Defense Ministry, was estimated at more than 80,000. Last week, as part of efforts to reach a truce agreement between Israel and Hamas, Israel was reported to have agreed to increase the number of Palestinian merchants and businessmen allowed to go from the Gaza Strip to Israel from 3,500 to 5,000. Reports said that the latest Israeli gesture were the outcome of attempts by Egypt and the United Nations to prevent an all-out military confrontation between Israel and Hamas. While Israel is constantly increasing the number of work permits for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Lebanon, on the contrary, has launched an unprecedented crackdown on illegal foreign workers, including Palestinians, thereby triggering a wave of protests among Palestinians living there. The Lebanese authorities say the crackdown on illegal foreign workers is directed mostly against Syrians who fled to Lebanon after the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011. As part of this campaign against illegal workers, several businesses have been closed and many Palestinian and Syrian workers have been suspended from their jobs. Lebanese Minister of Labor Kamil Abu Sulieman denied allegations that the campaign was organized as a "conspiracy" targeting the 450,000 Palestinians in his country. "The plan to combat illegal labor was prepared several months ago and does not target the Palestinians," Abu Sulieman said. "There is a labor law in Lebanon, and we have decided to implement it. We gave a six-month warning to all the illegal workers and businesses to seek proper permits." The Lebanese minister admitted, however, that as a result of the campaign against illegal workers, some Palestinian businesses have been shut...  
Iran's Belligerence Shows Need 
for Saudi Alliance
Harold Hutchison:   He did launch cyberattacks on Iran, though. The hope was that the close call would deter Iran.

Given recent events, that hope is apparently a false one. It also shows why the United States would be very foolish to turn its back on the Saudis.

As the Patriot Post team has discussed before, the Saudis are no angels. Their human-rights record, despite the modern outlook of crown prince Mohammed bin Sultan and a trend toward improvement by inches, is atrocious.

But let’s take a look at Iran. Its Houthi stooges fired missiles at one of our ships. Their leaders routinely call for the elimination of Israel — a 2019 reboot of the Holocaust. Their human-rights record stinks, too, especially toward women who refuse to wear the hijab.

That’s in addition to placing limpet mines on tankers in international waters, shooting down UAVs over international waters, sponsoring terrorist groups, and providing IED components to insurgents fighting American troops in Iraq. Letting this country go about its plans unimpeded ranks up there in the pantheon of classic blunders, on par with going up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

In all seriousness, this is why a close relationship with Saudi Arabia matters. Israel is rightly America’s closest ally in the Middle East, but Israel cannot do things alone — it is rightly focused primarily on its own survival. If you think Turkey is a better answer… well, look at Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s record and think again. Buying the S-400/SA-21 is the least of the problematic things he has done, and it has its potential upsides as well. The real concern vis-à-vis Erdogan is that a friend of Hamas is not a reliable ally against the major state sponsor of terrorism.

The fact of the matter is that Iran is not likely to be a responsible country any time soon. Erdogan is not going to change his tune any time soon. So, as awful as the situation in Yemen is, as awful as the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi was, America needs to stick by Saudi Arabia, not just to counterbalance Iran, but to encourage its steps toward modernization.

When it comes to protecting America’s vital national and geopolitical interests — not to mention Americans — we often do not get to choose between paragons of virtue and statesmanship who value Liberty. When it comes down to it, securing America is often about the hard choices. Today’s hard choices reflect the hard ones made by John Adams to stand up to France during the XYZ Affair, those made by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, and even those made in World War II.

The hard choices are often difficult ones that come down to determining which of the options is the least bad option. That can be very distasteful, whether it’s using  enhanced interrogation or supporting an ally’s involvement in a civil war with lots of civilian casualties. But those necessary choices today, like those from our history, help keep us free and safe.  ~The Patriot Post  

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Florida Sheriff — “I Will Not Enforce Assault Weapons Ban, Neither Will Most Sheriffs”

Dennis Lemma, who is the Sheriff in Central Florida’s Seminole County, told a group of 2nd Amendment activists recently that he would not enforce an assault weapons ban that could soon become Florida law if the “Ban Assault Weapons Now” amendment passes in the Sunshine State.

According to News965, the ban has the following specifications.

The amendment proposed in the state legislature would ban possession of assault weapons, which are defined as “semiautomatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once, either in fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition feeding device.”

Lemma, an ardent supporter of the 2nd Amendment and a first term sheriff who is running for re-election, said this about whether or not he would enforce such a law.

“It’s not only that I wouldn’t, the majority of sheriffs across the state would not do it,” Lemma said in the video. It’s up to the sheriffs what they are willing to enforce.”

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