The Room Where it Happens
Wayne Brady, Miguel Cervantes, Colby Lewis, Wallace Smith
The Room Where it Happens

My master. Full audio for trade…

Chicago - Private Bank Theatre
March 18, 2017 Matinee

Alexander Hamilton ……………… Miguel Cervantes
Eliza Hamilton …………………. Ari Afsar
Aaron Burr …………………….. Wayne Brady
Angelica Schuyler ………………. Karen Olivo
George Washington ………………. Carl Clemons-Hopkins (u/s)
Marquis de Lafayette/
Thomas Jefferson ……………….. Colby Lewis (s/b)

Hercules Mulligan/James Madison ….. Wallace Smith
John Laurens/Philip Hamilton …….. José Ramos
Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds ……. Samantha Marie Ware
King George ……………………. Alexander Gemignani

Philip Schuyler/
James Reynolds/Doctor …………… Jin Ha
Samuel Seabury …………………. José Amor
Charles Lee ……………………. Robert Walters (t/r)
George Eaker …………………… Remmie Bourgeois

Amber Ardolino, Yossi Chaikin (swing), Holly James, Justice Moore,
Samantha Pollino, Candace Quarrels, Antuan Magic Raimone (swing)

Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel
Erik Prince met with a Russian close to the Kremlin in a meeting brokered by the United Arab Emirates.
By https://www.facebook.com/kevin.sieff

Adam Entous, Greg Miller, Kevin Sieff, and Karen DeYoung at Washington Post

The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.

The meeting took place around Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean, officials said. Though the full agenda remains unclear, the UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective that would be likely to require major concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions.

Though Prince had no formal role with the Trump campaign or transition team, he presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump to high-ranking Emiratis involved in setting up his meeting with the Putin confidant, according to the officials, who did not identify the Russian.

Prince was an avid supporter of Trump. After the Republican convention, he contributed $250,000 to Trump’s campaign, the national party and a pro-Trump super PAC led by GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, records show. He has ties to people in Trump’s circle, including Stephen K. Bannon, now serving as the president’s chief strategist and senior counselor. Prince’s sister Betsy DeVos serves as education secretary in the Trump administration. And Prince was seen in the Trump transition offices in New York in December.

U.S. officials said the FBI has been scrutinizing the Seychelles meeting as part of a broader probe of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and alleged contacts between associates of Putin and Trump. The FBI declined to comment.

The Seychelles encounter, which one official said spanned two days, adds to an expanding web of connections between Russia and Americans with ties to Trump — contacts that the White House has been reluctant to acknowledge or explain until they have been exposed by news organizations.

“We are not aware of any meetings, and Erik Prince had no role in the transition,” said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary.

A Prince spokesman said in a statement: “Erik had no role on the transition team. This is a complete fabrication. The meeting had nothing to do with President Trump. Why is the so-called under-resourced intelligence community messing around with surveillance of American citizens when they should be hunting terrorists?”

Prince is best known as the founder of Blackwater, a security firm that became a symbol of U.S. abuses in Iraq after a series of incidents, including one in 2007 in which the company’s guards were accused — and later criminally convicted — of killing civilians in a crowded Iraqi square. Prince sold the firm, which was subsequently re-branded, but has continued building a private paramilitary empire with contracts across the Middle East and Asia. He now heads a Hong Kong-based company known as the Frontier Services Group.

Prince would probably have been seen as too controversial to serve in any official capacity in the Trump transition or administration. But his ties to Trump advisers, experience with clandestine work and relationship with the royal leaders of the Emirates — where he moved in 2010 amid mounting legal problems for his American business — would have positioned him as an ideal go-between.

The Seychelles meeting came after separate private discussions in New York involving high-ranking representatives of Trump with both Moscow and the Emirates.

The White House has acknowledged that Michael T. Flynn, Trump’s original national security adviser, and Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner met with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, in late November or early December in New York.

Flynn and Kushner were joined by Bannon for a separate meeting with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who made an undisclosed visit to New York later in December, according to the U.S., European and Arab officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

In an unusual breach of protocol, the UAE did not notify the Obama administration in advance of the visit, though officials found out because Zayed’s name appeared on a flight manifest.

Officials said Zayed and his brother, the UAE’s national security adviser, coordinated the Seychelles meeting with Russian government officials with the goal of establishing an unofficial back channel between Trump and Putin.

Officials said Zayed wanted to be helpful to both leaders, who had talked about working more closely together, a policy objective long advocated by the crown prince. The UAE, which sees Iran as one of its main enemies, also shared the Trump team’s interest in finding ways to drive a wedge between Moscow and Tehran.

Zayed met twice with Putin in 2016, according to Western officials, and urged the Russian leader to work more closely with the Emirates and Saudi Arabia — an effort to isolate Iran.

At the time of the Seychelles meeting and for weeks afterward, the UAE believed that Prince had the blessing of the new administration to act as its unofficial representative. The Russian participant was a person whom Zayed knew was close to Putin from his interactions with both men, the officials said.

Approach to Iran exposes growing irritation between U.S. and allies

By Karen DeYoung, Washington Post, October 14, 2017

Just before President Trump announced on Friday that he would decertify the Iran nuclear deal, French President Emmanuel Macron called his counterpart in Tehran to offer reassurance, Macron’s office said in a statement. No matter what Trump said, he told Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Europe would continue to back the agreement.

The Europeans were only interested in Iran’s money, Trump scoffed to reporters later that day. Macron, he said, had also called him.

“I said: ‘Look, Emmanuel, they just gave Renault a lot of money,’” Trump related, referring to a recent business deal between Iran and the French carmaker. “’Take their money; enjoy yourselves. But we’ll see what happens.’”

What has already happened is a widening chasm of mutual disdain between the United States and its traditional allies. Trump sees them as self-interested freeloaders who must be reminded of U.S. power. They see him as an erratic force who must be managed as he squanders American leadership.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers were largely split in their reactions to Trump’s announcement that he would terminate the nuclear deal if Congress didn’t come up with a way to rewrite it to his liking. Many Republicans congratulated the president and agreed it was time to get tough against Iran.

Many Democrats criticized Trump for what Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said was “clearly a political decision” made to please his base voters “and not a strategic one.” Reed and others warned that Trump’s insistence on changing the original agreement risked conflict and would be opposed by U.S. negotiating partners who had also signed it–Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

When Trump invited them to join him in holding Iran’s feet to the fire, Russia and China said there was nothing to talk about. The Europeans, in a joint statement, said they were eager to discuss their shared complaints about Iran–its ballistic missile program and support for terrorism–but that there could be no changes in the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini bordered on scornful, saying in a statement Friday that the JCPOA “is not a domestic issue” and “does not belong to any single country” to demand changes. Trump was powerful, she said, but did not have the power to do that.

But several senior officials from the European signatory countries said privately that there was little to be gained, for now, by shouting their opposition. Instead, their plan is to continue trying to convince U.S. lawmakers that there was much to lose if they take the path Trump has set for Congress.

All refused to speak for quotation out of what they said was worry that they would add fuel to an already smoldering fire. But they uniformly expressed concern about what they described as yet another instance of America walking away from an international commitment.

Last spring, as Trump prepared for his first overseas trip in May, White House aides outlined his game plan to assume the mantle of global primacy.

“One thing he has the ability to do is really bring people together and galvanize people around a common set of goals,” a senior adviser said in describing objectives for the 10-day tour that took Trump to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Rome, Brussels and a G-20 meeting in Sicily.

Rather than a liability, Trump’s “unpredictability … is a real asset,” said the adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under White House ground rules. The new president, he said, was “sending one big message, which is America is ready to lead in the world again.”

Yet instead of leading, Trump’s “my way or the highway” approach has been a detour from the multilateral road the United States has traveled since World War II. And as Trump has left behind, or threatened to, the premier international agreements of this century, from the Paris climate accord to global trade alliances and now the Iran nuclear deal, he has not had many willing followers.

Among the exceptions, governments in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined Israel in praising what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Trump’s “courageous” decision on Iran.

Yet even those who have proclaimed him as a leader have sometimes not felt bound by his demands. Early in his administration, Trump gently chastised Israel for its West Bank settlements, saying that they “don’t help the process” and were not “a good thing for peace.” He has remained silent, however, as Netanyahu’s government, including as recently as last week, has approved additional settlements, leading some perplexed Israeli commentators to speculate on whether he made a “secret” deal with Netanyahu.

In May, when the heads of dozens of Muslim-majority countries gathered in Riyadh to listen to him speak about a unified fight against terrorism, Trump claimed credit for a unity agreement on counterterrorism cooperation signed with the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Just days later, the Saudis and Emiratis, joined by fellow GCC member Bahrain and Egypt, broke relations with Qatar, another council member, and closed their air and sea borders to it. While Trump initially supported the action–even as his State and Defense Department secretaries called for it to be reversed–he later changed course.

Appearing last month with the visiting emir of Kuwait, Trump called for the gulf states to patch up their differences and said if the problem wasn’t “quickly” resolved, he would summon regional leaders to the White House and take care of it. Since then, he has said nothing publicly about a presidential intervention.

Trump has claimed massive progress in the U.S. fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq under his leadership. But he was unable to persuade Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government, one of America’s closest military and political allies in the region, to call off an independence referendum late last month that has left Iraq in a turmoil the administration has been powerless to resolve.

Similarly in Turkey, where Trump last month said bilateral ties under his administration were “better than ever,” relations now seem to be at a modern all-time low, with tit-for-tat suspension of visa issuance earlier this month.

Rather than “galvanizing” respect and unity, Trump sometimes appears to engender resentment and division. Although NATO members agreed in 2014 to increase their domestic defense spending, Trump’s exhortations and threats to diminish the U.S. presence in the alliance seemed to spur some countries to speed up that process. But his subsequent chest-beating has left many irritated and bitter.

Even in Asia, where he has worked to build personal relationships with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe–both of whom he will visit on a lengthy trip next month–Trump can befuddle. Early this month, he undercut Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s efforts to keep open channels of communication with North Korea, telling Tillerson via Twitter to stop “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons program. North Korea, he said, had “made fools” of U.S. negotiators in the past.

On Friday, Trump told reporters that “if something can happen where we can negotiate,” with North Korea, “I’m always open to that.”


La Familia Verde

karen washington, urban farmer

The further introduction of U.S. troops to fully re-engage in ground combat in the Middle East is not the way to deal with this challenge.
—  Ben Rhodes, Deputy national security adviser, quoted in an article by  David Nakamura and Karen DeYoung in The Washington Post. France launches fierce assault on ISIS targets in Syria in coordination with U.S. defense officials