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[In The News] Four Police Officers Injured In Active Shooter Incident In Illinois

By Tim Pearce -

At least four police officers and multiple civilians are injured after a shooter stormed a manufacturing company in Aurora, Illinois, Friday, The Aurora Daily Herald reports. At least one civilian might be dead. Multiple outlets are reporting a heavy police presence in the area with multiple ambulances. ATF and FBI agents ...

Four Police Officers Injured In Active Shooter Incident In Illinois is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:2/15/2019 4:43:04 PM
[Markets] FOIA Docs Reveal Obama FBI Covered Up "Chart" Of Potential Hillary Clinton Crimes

The top brass of the Obama FBI went to great lengths to justify their decision not to recommend charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information, according to Judicial Watch, which obtained evidence that the agency created a 'chart' of Clinton's offenses. 

The newly obtained emails came in response to a court ordered Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that the DOJ had previously ignored. 

Via Judicial Watch (emphasis ours): 

  • Three days after then-FBI Director James Comey’s press conference announcing that he would not recommend a prosecution of Mrs. Clinton, a July 8, 2016 email chain shows that, the Special Counsel to the FBI’s executive assistant director in charge of the National Security Branch, whose name is redacted, wrote to Strzok and others that he was producing a “chart of the statutory violations considered during the investigation [of Clinton’s server], and the reasons for the recommendation not to prosecute…”

[Redacted] writes: I am still working on an additional page for these TPs that consist of a chart of the statutory violations considered during the investigation, and the reasons for the recommendation not to prosecute, hopefully in non-lawyer friendly terms …

Strzok forwards to Page, Jonathan Moffa and others: I have redlined some points. Broadly, I have some concerns about asking some our [sic] senior field folks to get into the business of briefing this case, particularly when we have the D’s [Comey’s] statement as a kind of stand alone document. In my opinion, there’s too much nuance, detail, and potential for missteps. But I get they may likely be asked for comment.

[Redacted] writes to Strzok, Page and others: The DD [Andrew McCabe] will need to approve these before they are pushed out to anyone. At the end of last week, he wasn’t inclined to send them to anyone. But, it’s great to have them on the shelf in case they’re needed.

[Redacted] writes to Strzok and Page: I’m really not sure why they continued working on these [talking points]. In the morning, I’ll make sure Andy [McCabe] tells Mike [Kortan] to keep these in his pocket. I guess Andy just didn’t ever have a moment to turn these off with Mike like he said he would.

Page replies: Yes, agree that this is not a good idea.

Neither these talking points nor the chart of potential violations committed by Clinton and her associates have been released.

  • On May 15, 2016, James Rybicki, former chief of staff to Comey, sends FBI General Counsel James Baker; Bill Priestap, former assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division; McCabe; Page; and others an email with the subject line “Request from the Director.”

Rybicki writes: By NLT [no later than] next Monday, the Director would like to see a list of all cases charged in the last 20 years where the gravamen of the charge was mishandling classified information.

It should be in chart form with: (1) case name, (2) a short summary for content (3) charges brought, and (4) charge of conviction.

If need be, we can get it from NSD [National Security Division] and let them know that the Director asked for this personally.

Please let me know who can take the lead on this.

Thanks!

Jim

Page forwards to Strzok: FYSA [For your situational awareness]

Strzok replies to Page: I’ll take the lead, of course – sounds like an espionage section question… Or do you think OGC [Office of the General Counsel] should?

And the more reason for us to get feedback to Rybicki, as we all identified this as an issue/question over a week ago.

Page replies: I was going to reply to Jim [Rybicki] and tell him I can talked [sic] to you about this already. Do you want me to?

***

Recall that the FBI agents involved made extensive edits to former FBI Diretor James Comey's statement exonerating Hillary Clinton - changing the language to effectively downgrade the crime of mishandling classified information so that they could recommend no charges. 

According to a December, 2017 letter from Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) to FBI Director Christopher Wray, fired FBI agent Peter Strzok changed the language regarding Clinton's conduct from the criminal charge of "gross negligence" to "extremely careless."

"Gross negligence" is a legal term of art in criminal law often associated with recklessness. According to Black's Law Dictionary, gross negligence is “A severe degree of negligence taken as reckless disregard," and "Blatant indifference to one's legal duty, other's safety, or their rights.” "Extremely careless," on the other hand, is not a legal term of art.

According to an Attorney briefed on the matter, "extremely careless" is in fact a defense to "gross negligence": "What my client did was 'careless', maybe even 'extremely careless,' but it was not 'gross negligence' your honor." The FBI would have no option but to recommend prosecution if the phrase "gross negligence" had been left in.

18 U.S. Code § 793 "Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information" specifically uses the phrase "gross negligence." Had Comey used the phrase, he would have essentially declared that Hillary had broken the law. 

And now, thanks to the Judicial Watch FOIA, we know that the FBI also went to great lengths to justify letting Clinton off the hook with a "chart" of her offenses. 

Published:2/15/2019 4:43:03 PM
[Markets] As Russia Collusion Narrative Collapses, The 'Resistance' Reaches New Depths Of Delusion

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Worms Turning

And so now along comes Andy McCabe, former Number Two at the FBI, publicizing his new book, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, on this Sunday’s CBS 60-Minutes show, confirming what I said on this blog two years ago - that the Deep State would try to run over the Golden Golem of Greatness with the 25th Amendment.

The specter of Mr. Trump entrained by the nuclear “football” - the briefcase with launch codes for World War Three - gave US Intel communitarians such a case of the heebie-jeebies that they first sought desperately to impede his election by unlawful means and, failing in that, concocted a fog of Russian collusion conspiracy to cover up all that and much more nastiness emanating from the Hillary Clinton orbit.

It’s been the opinion here at CFN that Mr. McCabe and a long list of DOJ / FBI / and Intel employees would eventually be summoned to grand juries on charges ranging from lying to their Internal Affairs colleagues all the way to sedition. Those worms now seem to be turning. Both house and senate committees investigating the Russia narrative declared that they turned up no evidence for it.

And late this week, William Barr was confirmed as a new Attorney General, meaning the extreme case of bureaucratic constipation in that department may be resolving in a shitstorm of counter-revelations and prosecutions in what amounted to an attempted coup d’etat. A lot of the evidence for that is already public and overwhelming. It includes:

  • Using FBI counter-intelligence assets improperly and illegally.

  • Using fabricated “opposition research” provided by Mrs. Clinton to obtain warrants to spy on her election opponent, and failing to verify it as evidence (according to strict “Woods” procedures) submitted to FISA court judges.

  • Recruiting Britain’s MI6 to spy on US citizens as a work-around from US laws prohibiting US Intel from spying on Americans.

  • Setting up the notorious Trump Tower meeting to entrap Donald Trump Jr., using a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, in the employ of Fusion GPS, Mrs. Clintons oppo research contractor.

  • Orchestrating leaks of secret FBI proceedings to the news media to feed a Russia collusion hysteria.

  • Malicious prosecutions by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and egregious political conflicts-of-interest among Mr. Mueller’s team of prosecutors.

  • Coverup of the Uranium One scheme facilitated by Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

  • A scheme to surreptitiously and illegally record conversations with Mr. Trump once he became president.

  • Conspiring to bury multiple inquires into illegal conduct of Mrs. Clinton, her employees and associates by failing to obtain evidence and allowing it to be destroyed.

  • Misconduct in office by former CIA chief John Brennan, former National Security Director James Clapper, former AG Loretta Lynch, and members of President Obama’s White House inner circle.

These matters and a lot more have deserved official attention that was bypassed during the peculiar DOJ regime of former AG Jeff Sessions - and now some light may be about to shine on them. The Trump “resistance” already seems demoralized by the collapse of the Russia collusion story, which had been the centerpiece of their impeachment hopes. Several reconstituted house committees under the new Democratic Party chairs, have pledged to keep mining that vein of fool’s gold to keep the hysteria alive long enough for the 2020 elections.

But what will happen in the meantime as their enablers are dragged into courts of law to answer for their roguery?

My guess is that it will drive the “resistance” to new depths of delusion and, eventually, derision, as its narrative cloak gets shredded in public testimony and their audacious mendacity is revealed. The heat from these future events may be so intense and disruptive that it will interfere with the 2020 election.

Published:2/15/2019 3:47:06 PM
[Politics] NEW: Andrew McCabe quickly backpedaling on 25th amendment comments! Andrew McCabe is now backpedaling on his comments to CBS News about 25th amendment discussions over impeaching the president. The Daily Beast has the story: A spokesman for former FBI Deputy Director . . . Published:2/15/2019 12:42:04 PM
[Politics] NEW: Andrew McCabe quickly backpedaling on 25th amendment comments! Andrew McCabe is now backpedaling on his comments to CBS News about 25th amendment discussions over impeaching the president. The Daily Beast has the story: A spokesman for former FBI Deputy Director . . . Published:2/15/2019 12:42:04 PM
[Politics] Meadows: McCabe Not Credible but Must Testify Again Former acting FBI DIrector Andrew McCabe isn't a credible witness, but lawmakers need to hear more testimony from him, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said Friday. Published:2/15/2019 10:40:59 AM
[Politics] Dershowitz: McCabe's Reported 25th Amendment Talks Would Be 'Coup D'état' If former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe is telling the truth with his claims that officials in the Department of Justice discussed using the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office, that could be considered be an attempted "coup d'état," Harvard Law... Published:2/15/2019 6:11:12 AM
[Entertainment and Lifestyle] Hollywood Singer Ryan Adams Under Investigation for Sexting Minors

By Andrew Aleksi-Lankinen -

Recently reports have come out saying that singer and songwriter Ryan Adams was under investigation by the FBI for sexting a teenage fan and minor. According to the New York Times, Adams was sexting a fan for 2 years from when she was 14 to 16. FBI agents in New York ...

Hollywood Singer Ryan Adams Under Investigation for Sexting Minors is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:2/14/2019 11:40:01 PM
[Politics] McCabe: Sessions Thought FBI Better When 'Irishmen' Hired 'Drunks' Who Could Be Trusted A new book by former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe portrays former Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a bumbling administrator who regularly embraced racial stereotypes, according to a Washington Post review.The Post's national security reporter Greg Miller, who reviewed "The... Published:2/14/2019 10:39:05 PM
[Trump Administration] Trump Calls Out ‘Puppet’ Andrew McCabe After News That McCabe Ordered Obstruction Of Justice Probe

By Evie Fordham -

President Donald Trump called former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe “a puppet for Leakin’ James Comey” after news came out Wednesday that McCabe began the obstruction of justice probe involving the Trump and ties to Russia. “Disgraced FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe pretends to be a ‘poor little Angel’ when in ...

Trump Calls Out ‘Puppet’ Andrew McCabe After News That McCabe Ordered Obstruction Of Justice Probe is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:2/14/2019 9:38:13 PM
[The Blog] Confirmed: FBI offered State a quid pro quo to keep Hillary e-mail classification quiet

"To be great is to be misunderstood."

The post Confirmed: FBI offered State a quid pro quo to keep Hillary e-mail classification quiet appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:2/12/2019 4:56:48 PM
[Media] They COVERED for her?! Newly released internal FBI emails show Hillary’s ‘Weiner problem’ ain’t going away anytime soon

Now, why oh why would the FBI have scrambled to ‘respond’ to Hillary’s lawyer amid the Anthony Weiner laptop review? Hrm. FBI scrambled to respond to Hillary Clinton lawyer amid Weiner laptop review, newly released emails show… https://t.co/KBdyhwL6qQ — James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) February 12, 2019 From Fox News: Newly released internal FBI emails showed the […]

The post They COVERED for her?! Newly released internal FBI emails show Hillary’s ‘Weiner problem’ ain’t going away anytime soon appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/12/2019 8:53:16 AM
[Markets] Solomon: Evidence Mounts Of Democrats' Collusion With Russia

After Congressional investigations in both the House and Senate have failed to produce evidence that Donald Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 US election from Hillary Clinton, The Hill's John Solomon points out the deafening silence over clear links between the Kremlin and the woman who would have been President had Donald Trump lost

Aside from the fact that the Clinton-funded Steele Dossier heavily relied on a Russian source. And the fact that John Podesta (who would have likely become Secretary of State) sat on the board of an energy company with a Kremlin official and a Russian oligarch - tangible evidence of Russian collusion exists, Solomon digs deeper into the upside-down to reveal Russian ties that would see Donald Trump jailed for treason by the left's standards. 

Congressional investigators have painstakingly pieced together evidence that shows the Clinton research project had extensive contact with Russians.

...

Steele’s main source of uncorroborated allegations against Trump came from an ex-Russian intelligence officer. “Much of the collection about the Trump campaign ties to Russia comes from a former Russian intelligence officer (? not entirely clear) who lives in the U.S.,” Ohr scribbled. -The Hill

In today's episode of the Twilight Zone, Solomon spotlights Hillary Clinton's close relationship with Russian leaders which raised concerns over a wholesale technology transfer to the Kremlin, right around the time of the Uranium One deal and Bill Clinton's now-infamous trip to Russia (where he hung out at Putin's house) and picked up a $500,000 check for one speech

As secretary of State, Hillary Clinton worked with Russian leaders, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-President Dmitri Medvedev, to create U.S. technology partnerships with Moscow’s version of Silicon Valley, a sprawling high-tech campus known as Skolkovo.

Clinton’s handprint was everywhere on the 2009-2010 project, the tip of a diplomatic spear to reboot U.S.-Russian relations after years of hostility prompted by Vladimir Putin’s military action against the former Soviet republic and now U.S. ally Georgia.

A donor to the Clinton FoundationRussian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, led the Russian side of the effort, and several American donors to the Clinton charity got involved. Clinton’s State Department facilitated U.S. companies working with the Russian project, and she personally invited Medvedev to visit Silicon Valley.

 

The collaboration occurred at the exact same time Bill Clinton made his now infamous trip to Russia to pick up a jaw-dropping $500,000 check for a single speech. -The Hill

The Clinton State Department ignored a 2013 warning from the US military's leading European intelligence think tank over the Skolkovo project - which suggested that it could be a front for economic and military espionage

"Skolkovo is an ambitious enterprise, aiming to promote technology transfer generally, by inbound direct investment, and occasionally, through selected acquisitions. As such, Skolkovo is arguably an overt alternative to clandestine industrial espionage — with the additional distinction that it can achieve such a transfer on a much larger scale and more efficiently," reads a 2013 EUCOM intelligence bulletin

"Implicit in Russia’s development of Skolkovo is a critical question — a question that Russia may be asking itself — why bother spying on foreign companies and government laboratories if they will voluntarily hand over all the expertise Russia seeks?"

The FBI followed EUCOM's warning the following year with letters outlining the dangers of US tech companies falling prey to Russian espionage through the Skolkovo project. A Boston FBI agent in particular wrote an "extraordinary op-ed to publicize the alarm," writes Solomon. 

The Skolkovo project "may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research development facilities and dual-use technologies with military and commercial application," wrote Assistant Special Agent Lucia Ziobro in the Boston Business Journal.

The FBI also sounded the alarm about the Uranium One deal - after an informant named William D. Campbell infiltrated the Russian state-owned energy giant Rosatom and gathered evidence of a racketeering scheme which included bribery, kickbacks and extortion. 

Campbell also obtained written evidence that Putin wanted to buy Uranium One as part of a strategy to obtain monopolistic domination of the global uranium markets, including leverage over the U.S.

Campbell also warned that a major in-kind donor to the Clinton Global Initiative was simultaneously working for Rosatom while the decision for U.S. approval was pending before Hillary Clinton’s department. Ultimately, her department and the Obama administration approved the transaction.

The evidence shows the Clintons financially benefited from Russia — personally and inside their charity — at the same time they were involved in U.S. government actions that rewarded Moscow and increased U.S. security risks. -The Hill

Beyond the Steele Dossier

While it is now publicly known (and below the investigatory double-standards of the DOJ to pursue) that the Steele dossier was a clear case of Russian collusion against then-candidate Donald Trump, there lies a lesser-known link between the Steele Dossier and a Belarus-born Russian businessman, Sergei Milian

What's more, "Steele and Simpson had Russian-tied business connections, too, while they formulated the dossier," writes Solomon. 

Steele worked for the lawyers for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and tried to leverage those connections to help the FBI get evidence from the Russian aluminum magnate against Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The effort resulted in FBI agents visiting Deripaska in fall 2016. Deripaska told the agents that no collusion existed.

Likewise, Simpson worked in 2016 for the Russian company Prevezon — which was trying to escape U.S. government penalties — and one of its Russian lawyers, Natalia Veselnitskaya. In sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Simpson admitted he dined with Veselnitskaya both the night before and the night after her infamous meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in June 2016. -The Hill

And yet, nobody bats an eye.

Published:2/11/2019 5:20:02 PM
[US Headlines] Acting US Attorney General A Dead Ringer For Jeremy â??Worldâ??s Hottest Felonâ?? Meeks Washington DC - (Reuterus): President Trumpâ??s acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has a red-hot doppelganger according to a flagship FBI facial recognition data dump harvested at The Spoof. Eminent Justice Department honcho Matthew Whitak... Published:2/11/2019 9:18:51 AM
[Markets] Florida Man Charged In $100 Million Fraud, Triggered Largest Ever Bank Collapse In Puerto Rico 

A pharmaceutical executive whose lavish Miami lifestyle included fancy automobiles, private jets, yachts, and luxury homes, was found guilty of  federal fraud charges in connection with a $100 million scheme more than a decade ago that triggered the 2010 collapse of Westernbank, one of Puerto Rico's most prominent banks at the time, reported the US Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs.

Jack Kachkar, 55, was convicted earlier this month of eight counts of wire fraud affecting a significant financial institution following a 21-day trial before U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham in Miami. Kachkar is expected to serve decades behind bars; the sentencing will be held on April 30.

“Jack Kachkar’s fraud caused substantial harm to the 1,500 employees of Westernbank and the people of Puerto Rico,” said U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office remains committed to the prosecution of those individuals and corporations that use Miami and other South Florida communities as their base to operate multinational fraud schemes."

“Today’s verdict holds the defendant accountable for orchestrating fraudulent schemes that resulted in more than $100 million in losses to insured institutions and the FDIC as receiver,” said Inspector General Lerner. “The FDIC Office of Inspector General remains committed to investigate cases of deception and swindles that undermine the integrity of financial institutions, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who commit such offenses.”

“IRS Criminal Investigation will always pursue investigations like this where Mr. Kachkar, for his own personal benefit, orchestrated such a large scheme at the expense of one of Puerto Rico’s largest banks and its 1,500 employees,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Palma.  “This investigation shows that the appearance of success can be a mask for a tangled financial web of lies, and we are proud to be part of the prosecution team that is bringing Mr. Kachkar to justice.”

“HSI San Juan will continue working with our local, state and federal partners to investigate and prosecute these types of cases as well as those involving violations to the more than 400 federal statutes that we investigate, “ said HSI Special Agent in Charge Arvelo.  “This man was responsible for one of the largest fraud schemes ever recorded in the banking business in Puerto Rico and he will pay the consequences.”

“This defendant’s greed was powerful enough to destroy a bank, taking with it the jobs of approximately 1,500 hard working citizens of Puerto Rico,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Leff.  “The FBI thanks the US Attorney’s Office for sending an equally strong message that most fraud schemes will eventually lead to a prison cell.”

According to the trial evidence, from 2005 to 2007, Kachkar was the CEO of-of Inyx Inc., a publicly traded specialty pharmaceutical products and technologies company. The fraud began in early 2005, Kachkar entered into a series of loan agreements with Westernbank in exchange for collateral in assets of Inyx and its subsidiaries. Under the loan agreements, the bank advanced money based on Inyx’s customer invoices from “actual and bona fide” sales to Inyx customer.

However, the evidence showed that Kachkar organized a scheme to defraud Westernbank by creating dozens of fake customer invoices worth tens of millions of dollars.

During the course of the scheme, Kachkar falsified and deceived Westernbank loan officers about imminent repayments from its international lenders to continue the scheme of pumping more credit into Inyx.

Kachkar distorted additional collateral to Westernbank executives, including numerous mines in Mexico and Canada worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  The evidence showed that the additional collateral was worth a fraction of that presented by Kachkar.

Westernbank lent about $142 million, primarily based on false and fraudulent customer invoices to Kachkar over the two years. The evidence showed he diverted tens of millions of dollars for his benefit, including "a private jet, luxury homes in Key Biscayne and Brickell, Miami, luxury cars, luxury hotel stays, and extravagant jewelry and clothing expenditures," said the DOJ.

At the end of the scheme, in the summer of 2007, Westernbank declared a default on the Inyx loans, ultimately suffered losses of more than $100 million. Shortly after, the losses triggered a series of catastrophic events leading to Westernbank’s collapse.

Published:2/9/2019 8:08:33 PM
[News] Here’s New Footage Of Raid On Roger Stone’s Home

Surveillance footage from Roger Stone‘s home captured the pre-dawn FBI raid. “Almost exactly one hour later, trucks with heavily-armed men arrived in front of Roger Stone’s house. Immediately CNN’s cameraman jumps out of the car, camera on shoulder and captures the footage,” he added. “The feds assemble on Stone’s driveway, they’re wearing ballistic armor and ...

The post Here’s New Footage Of Raid On Roger Stone’s Home appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/9/2019 7:10:51 PM
[News] Here’s New Footage Of Raid On Roger Stone’s Home

Surveillance footage from Roger Stone‘s home captured the pre-dawn FBI raid. “Almost exactly one hour later, trucks with heavily-armed men arrived in front of Roger Stone’s house. Immediately CNN’s cameraman jumps out of the car, camera on shoulder and captures the footage,” he added. “The feds assemble on Stone’s driveway, they’re wearing ballistic armor and ...

The post Here’s New Footage Of Raid On Roger Stone’s Home appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/9/2019 7:10:50 PM
[FBI] Mysteries of the Mueller probe, cont’d (Scott Johnson) Team Mueller dispatched a heavily armed battalion of FBI agents to conduct a predawn raid late lost month in Fort Lauderdale on the home of Roger Stone. Stone was arrested and taken into custody. Stone captured the proceedings on home video. CNN also was on hand to televise the action live as part of its continuing hatefest. John posted video of CNN’s coverage here. I wrote about the raid here Published:2/9/2019 7:35:34 AM
[Markets] Rich Saudi Students Vanishing Across US After Kingdom Makes Bail On Rape, Manslaughter Charges

Wealthy Saudi Arabian students living in the United States have been vanishing while facing criminal charges, including rape, manslaughter and other felonies, reports Oregon Live, which has conducted an investigation into the disappearances. 

The Oregonian/OregonLive uncovered five examples in Oregon and began searching other states in late January. We’ve found similar cases in Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

We also found two cases in Nova Scotia: Saudi students in two separate incidents skipped bail and disappeared after being accused of sexual assault. -Oregon Live

The Oregon cases involved Saudi nationals who never appeared to face trial, or disappeared before completing a jail sentence; "two accused rapists, a pair of suspected hit-and-run drivers and one man accused of having a trove of child pornography on his computer," reads the report. 

Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah appears during his arraignment in Portland on Aug. 22, 2016. His lawyer Ginger Mooney, pictured, has represented a number of Saudi students facing criminal charges in Oregon.

Each of the suspects in Oregon were young men studying at public colleges or universities, and each had assistance from the Saudi Kingdom at the time of their arrest

In at least four of those cases, the Saudi government paid the defendant’s bail and legal fees. Three surrendered their passports. Some have been tracked back to Saudi Arabia. -Oregon Live

Interactive map created by David Cansler

The disappearances have caught the attention of Oregon Democratic congressmen Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, who have introduced a pair of bills which aim to target foreign consulates that help their citizens escape criminal prosecution in the US. 

Oregon Live/The Oregonian has compiled a list of suspects who have escaped justice: 

Via OregonLive

Mohammed Zuraibi Al-Zoabi  
Nova Scotia, Canada

Disappeared: December 2018

Mohammed Zuraibi Al-Zoabi was a student at Cape Breton University when he faced numerous charges of sexual assault, assault and forcible confinement of a woman, with the alleged incidents occurring between 2015 and 2017, according to The Chronicle Herald newspaper in Halifax. According to the Star Halifax newspaper, Al-Zoabi last year received $37,500 of his bail from the Saudi Embassy in Ottowa. In early December, a Canadian sheriff tried to find Al-Zoabi, then 28, the newspaper reported, but he was nowhere to be found. His attorney, David Ianetti, told authorities the Saudi man had “fled the country some time ago,” according to court documents. Police had previously seized his passport. 

Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah
Multnomah County, Oregon
Disappeared: June 2017


Portland police arrested Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, then 20, in the fatal hit-and-run of Fallon Smart, 15, in August 2016. He faced charges of first-degree manslaughter and felony-hit-and run. After his arrest, the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles retained private defense attorneys Ginger Mooney and David McDonald to work on Noorah’s case and paid his bail, set at $1 million, according to court records and prosecutors. He turned over his passport to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a condition of his release. He was placed under house arrest, required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet on his ankle and allowed to take classes at Portland Community College. Two weeks before his June 2017 trial, Noorah disappeared. Officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Marshals Service now believe he left his Southeast Portland neighborhood in a black SUV, cut his ankle monitor and later used an illicit passport and private plane — likely provided by the Saudi government — to flee the country. In July 2018, more than 13 months after he first disappeared, the Saudis contacted Homeland Security to inform the agency that Noorah was back home.

Sami Suliman Almezaini
Gallatin County, Montana

Disappeared: July 2017

Sami Suliman Almezaini is accused of raping his roommate after the pair returned home from a downtown Bozeman music festival in July 2017, court documents show. After the woman reported the assault, detectives tried to interview him. He agreed to meet them at the police station but did not show up. A Montana State classmate told police he was trying to flee the country with the help of two friends. Detectives believe all three flew from Seattle to Ciudad Juarez Mexico, then Saudi Arabia. Almezaini was formally charged with sexual intercourse without consent in March 2018, when a judge signed a warrant for his arrest. Almezaini had lived in Bozeman for 2 ½ years, according to a Facebook page bearing his name.  

Saud Alabdullatif
Spokane County, Washington
Disappeared: May 2016

Cheney police allege Saud Alabdullatif, an Eastern Washington University student, held a woman against her will and forced her to perform oral sex on him in May 2016. He was jailed on charges of forcible second-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment, court records show. Authorities set his bail at $100,000. Two days after an initial court appearance, Alabdullatif, then 21, posted a $12,000 bond through Ace’s Bail Bonds in Spokane to secure his release from jail, according to court and jail records. He left that same day, boarded a plane in Seattle and eventually returned to Saudi Arabia, Cheney Police Capt. Rick Begthol told The Oregonian/OregonLive. Spokane County authorities issued a warrant for Alabdullatif’s arrest on May 31, 2016, and filed to have his bail forfeited, court records show. 

Suliman Ali Algwaiz
Multnomah County, Oregon

Disappeared: October 2016

Suliman Ali Algwaiz entered no-contest pleas to third-degree assault, driving under the influence of intoxicants, and other charges in August 2016. Authorities said the Portland State University accounting major was drunk earlier that year when he struck and critically injured a homeless man while driving the wrong way on a downtown street. Police said he kept driving. His college-age sister, also studying in Portland, deposited $31,260 into his inmate account so he could bail himself out, jail records show. He privately retained Ginger Mooney as his attorney. Algwaiz, then 21, was sentenced to 90 days in jail, which he was allowed to serve on weekends. He never completed his sentence. Records show he recovered his passport from the Portland Police Bureau’s property and evidence division Sept. 20 and last contacted Multnomah County authorities a few weeks later.

Faisal Altaleb
Gallatin County, Montana
Disappeared
November 2016

A Gallatin County judge issued an arrest warrant for Faisal Altaleb in January 2017 after a Bozeman police investigation into allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman he met at a bar. Her friends identified him two weeks later in downtown Bozeman and reported him to police, according to court documents. Altaleb told investigators who interviewed him nine days later that he had moved to Bozeman that semester from Portland to enroll in Montana State University. He denied the assault and said the last time he had sex was in Portland, where he said he lived for 1 ½ years. He is believed to have fled to Saudi Arabia soon after the interview, according to prosecutors. A Facebook account registered to his name was active as recently as early February. His precise whereabouts are unkown.  

Abdulaziz Hamad Al Duways
Polk County, Oregon
Disappeared: January 2015


In December 2014, Abdulaziz Hamad Al Duways, a Western Oregon University student, was arrested in Monmouth and accused of raping a classmate after giving her marijuana and shots of liquor. The judge ordered the student to turn over his passport to Ginger Mooney, the private defense lawyer hired to represent him, according to court records and the Polk County District Attorney’s Office. A few days later, an official with the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles posted his $500,000 bail. Al Duways, then 25, disappeared. “We had concerns about him returning to Saudi Arabia,” Jayme Kimberly, Polk County chief deputy district attorney, recently told The Oregonian/OregonLive. 

Waleed Ali Alharthi 
Benton County, Oregon
Disappeared: March 2015


Waleed Ali Alharthi was a student at Oregon State University when sheriff’s deputies say they found his laptop computer filled with child pornography, according to court records and the university. He faced 10 counts of first-degree encouraging child sex abuse. An official with the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles posted Alharthi’s bail, which was $500,000, records show. Alharthi, then 25, was required to turn over his passport to a trial court administrator, according to court documents. He did not show up to a court appearance on April 2, 2015. His lawyer, Ginger Mooney, told the court she feared her client might be dead. Investigators learned from Transportation Security Administration officials that Alharthi had boarded a plane in Mexico City bound for Paris a week earlier. It is unknown when or how Alharthi arrived in Mexico from the U.S. 

Monsour Alshammari
Utah County, Utah
Disappeared and Captured : April 2015


Monsour Alshammari, a university exchange student sponsored by the Saudi Arabian government, was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in his Orem apartment after the pair went on a date in February 2015. He was charged with first-degree rape and obstruction of justice, according to court documents. The Saudi Consulate posted his $100,000 bail in cash and retained prominent Utah defense attorney Ron Yengich, records show. Authorities in Utah notified the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that Alshammari, then 27, was a flight risk. The Oregonian/OregonLive could not determine whether he was required to turn over his passport as a condition of his release. In April, Alshammari was detained while trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border and was later extradited back to Utah, court records show. He eventually pleaded guilty to first-degree rape and was sentenced to a year in prison. Alshammari never served his term. Instead, he was deported to Saudi Arabia, according to court records.

Abdullah Almakrami
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Disappeared: April 2014

According to Wisconsin court records, Abdullah Almakrami, 28, was charged with sexually assaulting a woman he didn’t know after inviting her into his apartment. The alleged assault took place in March 2014. He was accused of false imprisonment and two counts of second-degree sexual assault. He was ordered to surrender his passport and was placed on pretrial supervision, according to the records, which also show that a criminal defense lawyer named Michael Steinle of Elm Grove, Wisconsin, posted $10,000 bail. The documents show Steinle was privately retained; Steinle did not respond immediately to an email sent Feb. 6. Almakrami failed to make a court appearance the following month and was charged with felony bail jumping. Days earlier, Almakrami also failed to show up at an expulsion hearing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, records show. He told school staff he couldn’t attend because he was out of the country. The court then seized the bail money. A Milwaukee Fox News affiliate reported that Almakrami had fled to his native Saudi Arabia, where later that year he posted updates about the weather and food on social media.

Hani Alshammary
Erie County, Pennsylvania
Disappeared: April 2014


Erie County authorities say Hani Alshammary, 33, assaulted a woman at a party at his home. Alshammary was a student at Gannon University, where he studied political science, according to a local news report. Court records show he was accused of attempted rape, forcible compulsion, unlawful restraint, harassment and disorderly conduct. His bail originally was set at $100,000 but a judge later reduced it to $50,000, records show. A fellow student posted the amount and the suspect flew out of Detroit two days later, according to a local press account. Authorities at the time said they didn't know his destination, the account said. Alshammary subsequently failed to show up at a preliminary hearing and his arraignment. He is considered a fugitive from justice by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Fahad Al Ghuwainem
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 
Disappeared: December 2014


Fahad Al Ghuwainem, 28, was one of two men accused of raping a man who one of them met at an Oklahoma City bar in October 2014, according to a local press report. Both suspects, studying in the U.S. on scholarships from the Saudi Arabian government, posted bail. The bail was paid for by a local criminal defense firm called the Jefferson Law Firm, according to court records. One of the men, Naif Albaquami, 30, was convicted of first-degree rape, court records show. Al Ghuwainem failed to appear in court that December, prompting a judge to issue a warrant for his arrest. In March 2015, the $25,000 bond was forfeited to the state. His whereabouts are unknown. 

Abdulrahman Ali Al-Plaies was accused of causing a fiery car crash (pictured) that killed a 79-year-old woman in the center of Xenia, a small Ohio town, in 1988.

Unidentified man
Missoula County, Montana
Disappeared: February 2012


An unnamed University of Montana student from Saudi Arabia was accused of assaulting two women on a single day in February 2012. The campus newspaper, The Montana Kaimin, reported that one woman said the man forced her to drink something that incapacitated her, then raped her. The second woman said she escaped the man after he kissed her without consent. The women separately reported what happened to campus police. A university official contacted the man twice about the allegations, according to The Missoulian. He vanished within days, according to the paper. University leaders drew criticism for failing to tell local police about the allegations, which could have led to his arrest.

Ali Hussain Alhamoud
Lincoln County, Oregon
Disappeared: April 2012


A Toledo Police Department investigation claims Ali Hussain Alhamoud, who was studying at Oregon State University, sexually assaulted a young woman on Valentine’s Day 2012. Federal court records show the Saudi government bailed out Alhamoud, then 18, from the Lincoln County Jail after he was indicted on multiple sex crime charges, including first-degree rape. His bail had been set at $650,000. He boarded a plane in Portland the same day and returned to Saudi Arabia, the FBI said in a criminal complaint. The Oregonian/OregonLive could not determine whether Alhamoud had surrendered his passport as a condition of his release from jail. 

Taher Ali Al-Saba  
Nova Scotia, Canada
Disappeared: January 2007


Taher Ali Al-Saba was a 19-year-old Saudi national studying English in Halifax when he was charged with sexually assaulting two children in June 2006. Al-Saba disappeared as he was set to go to trial on charges that he sexually assaulted a boy and a girl, both under 14, according to The Chronicle Herald newspaper in Halifax. He was released from jail after his family wired $10,000 from the U.S. to Canada, the newspaper reported in 2007. Al-Saba was ordered to stay in Canada and surrender his passport. According to a Canadian prosecutor at the time, Al-Saba appeared to travel to Ottawa and then left the country. "We confirmed he left the country through the Saudi Arabian Embassy," prosecutor Catherine Cogswell told The Chronicle Herald. "They refused to co–operate with us in terms of telling us how that happened.”

Siraj Marakeey
Snohomish County, Washington

Disappeared: July 1991

Snohomish County prosecutors issued a warrant to arrest Siraj Marakeey on an allegation of first-degree rape in June 1991. During 1989, Marakeey was a 24-year-old foreign exchange student from Saudi Arabia, living with a family in Lynnwood, according to court papers. He was accused of sexually assaulting a girl who was about 10 years old at the time. He allegedly entered her bedroom, fondled her and tried to have sex with her, according to a probable cause affidavit. By July 1990, Marakeey was believed to have been attending college in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, according to the affidavit. “Defendant has evidently left the state of Washington,’’ then-Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Lisa D. Paul wrote in the affidavit. An arrest warrant was sought on June 17, 1991, and signed the next day, with bail set at $10,000.  The warrant remains active and seeks Marakeey’s extradition from anywhere in the U.S. There’s no record that Marakeey, now 54, has ever been arrested in the case, according to Rebecca Orr, a spokeswoman for the Snohomish County District Attorney’s Office. 

Abdulrahman Ali Al-Plaies
Greene County, Ohio
Disappeared: November 1988


Abdulrahman Ali Al-Plaies, 27, was accused of causing a fiery car crash that killed a 79-year-old woman in the center of Xenia, a small Ohio town, in June 1988. Officials with the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., demanded police release Al-Plaies from jail, claiming the Central State University student was mentally ill and the accident not his fault, records show. The embassy later retained Steven Hurley as his private attorney. Authorities did not seize Al-Plaies’ passport and were told it had been misplaced or lost, according to a letter from the prosecutor’s office. Days before his November trial, a judge inexplicably cut his bail by half, to $25,000, and the Saudi Embassy put up the cash. The young man walked out of jail the same day with a Saudi military officer. He got into a car and was never seen in this country again. “I can only describe this case as justice delayed, if not denied, by a foreign government,” Stephen Wolaver, the attorney assigned to prosecute Al-Plaies, recently told The Oregonian/OregonLive. 

Oregonian/OregonLive reporters Maxine Bernstein, Noelle Crombie, Brad Schmidt, Andrew Theen, Molly Young and Fedor Zarkhin contributed to this report. 

-- Shane Dixon Kavanaugh; 503-294-7632; skavanaugh@oregonian.com

***

In 2015, three women claimed that Saudi prince Majed bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud sexually assaulted them and held them captive during "three days of sex-and drug-fueled partyingat a Beverly Hills mansion. After he was bailed out for $300,000, the 28-year-old prince reportedly fled to the Wahhabi kingdom on his private jet.

Los Angeles authorities subsequently dropped the charges, citing lack of evidence. 

Published:2/8/2019 8:03:26 PM
[Markets] Greenwald Slams Bezos' Invasion Of Privacy Hypocrisy As Amazon Builds Sprawling Surveillance State For Everyone Else

Authored by Glenn Greenwald via The Intercept,

The National Enquirer engaged in behavior so lowly and unscrupulous that it created a seemingly impossible storyline: the world’s richest billionaire and a notorious labor abuser, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, as a sympathetic victim.

On Thursday, Bezos published emails in which the Enquirer’s parent company explicitly threatened to publish intimate photographs of Bezos and his mistress, which were apparently exchanged between the two through their iPhones, unless Bezos agreed to a series of demands involving silence about the company’s conduct.

In a perfect world, none of the sexually salacious material the Enquirer was threatening to release would be incriminating or embarrassing to Bezos: it involves consensual sex between adults that is the business of nobody other than those involved and their spouses. But that’s not the world in which we live: few news events generate moralizing interest like sex scandals, especially among the media.

The prospect of naked selfies of Bezos would obviously generate intense media coverage and all sorts of adolescent giggling and sanctimonious judgments. The Enquirer’s reports of Bezos’ adulterous affair seemed to have already played at least a significant role, if not the primary one, in the recent announcement of Bezos’ divorce from his wife of 25 years.

Beyond the prurient interest in sex scandals, this case entails genuinely newsworthy questions because of its political context. The National Enquirer was so actively devoted to Donald Trump’s election that the chairman of its parent company admitted to helping make hush payments to kill stories of Trump’s affairs, and received immunity for his cooperation in the criminal case of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, while Bezos, as the owner of the steadfastly anti-Trump Washington Post, is viewed by Trump as a political enemy.

All of this raises serious questions, which thus far are limited to pure speculation, about how the National Enquirer obtained the intimate photos exchanged between Bezos and his mistress. Despite a lack of evidence, MSNBC is already doing what it exists to do – implying with no evidence that Trump is to blame (in this case, by abusing the powers of the NSA or FBI to spy on Bezos). But, under the circumstances, those are legitimate questions to be probing (though responsible news agencies would wait for evidence before airing innuendo of that sort).

If the surveillance powers of the NSA, FBI or other agencies were used to obtain incriminating information about Bezos due to their view of him as a political enemy – and, again, there is no evidence this has happened – it certainly would not be the first time. Those agencies have a long and shameful history of doing exactly that, which is why the Democratic adoration for those agencies, and the recent bipartisan further empowerment of them, was so disturbing.

Indeed, one of the stories we were able to report using the Snowden documents, one that received less attention that it should have, is an active NSA program to collect the online sex activities, including browsing records of porn site and sex chats, of people regarded by the U.S. Government as radical or radicalizing in order to use their online sex habits to destroy their reputations. This is what and who the NSA, CIA and FBI are and long have been.

IF BEZOS WERE the political victim of surveillance state abuses, it would be scandalous and dangerous. It would also be deeply ironic.

 

That’s because Amazon, the company that has made Bezos the planet’s richest human being, is a critical partner for the U.S. Government in building an ever-more invasive, militarized and sprawling surveillance state. Indeed, one of the largest components of Amazon’s business, and thus one of the most important sources of Bezos’ vast wealth and power, is working with the Pentagon and the NSA to empower the U.S. Government with more potent and more sophisticated weapons, including surveillance weapons.

In December, 2017, Amazon boasted that it had perfected new face-recognition software for crowds, which it called Rekognition. It explained that the product is intended, in large part, for use by governments and police forces around the world. The ACLU quickly warned that the product is “dangerous” and that Amazon “is actively helping governments deploy it.”

“Powered by artificial intelligence,” wrote the ACLU, “Rekognition can identify, track, and analyze people in real time and recognize up to 100 people in a single image. It can quickly scan information it collects against databases featuring tens of millions of faces.” The group warned: “Amazon’s Rekognition raises profound civil liberties and civil rights concerns.” In a separate advisory, the ACLU said of this face-recognition software that Amazon’s “marketing materials read like a user manual for the type of authoritarian surveillance you can currently see in China.”

BuzzFeed obtained documents showing details of Amazon’s work in implementing the technology with the Orlando Police Department, ones that “reveal the accelerated pace at which law enforcement is embracing facial recognition tools with limited training and little to no oversight from regulators or the public.” Citing Amazon’s work to implement the software with police departments, the ACLU explained:

With Rekognition, a government can now build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone. If police body cameras, for example, were outfitted with facial recognition, devices intended for officer transparency and accountability would further transform into surveillance machines aimed at the public. With this technology, police would be able to determine who attends protests. ICE could seek to continuously monitor immigrants as they embark on new lives. Cities might routinely track their own residents, whether they have reason to suspect criminal activity or not. As with other surveillance technologies, these systems are certain to be disproportionately aimed at minority communities.

Numerous lawmakers, including Congress’ leading privacy advocates, wrote a letter in July, 2018, expressing grave concerns about how this software and similar mass-face-recognition programs would be used by government and law enforcement agencies. They posed a series of questions based on their concern that “this technology comes with inherent risks, including the compromising of Americans’ right to privacy, as well as racial and gender bias.”

In a separate article about Amazon’s privacy threats, the ACLU explained that the group “and other civil rights groups have repeatedly warned that face surveillance poses an unprecedented threat to civil liberties and civil rights that must be stopped before it becomes widespread.”

Amazon’s extensive relationship with the NSA, FBI, Pentagon and other surveillance agencies in the west is multi-faceted, highly lucrative and rapidly growing. Last March, the Intercept reported on a new app that Amazon developers and British police forces have jointly developed to use on the public in police work, just “the latest example of third parties aidingautomating, and in some cases, replacing, the functions of law enforcement agencies — and raises privacy questions about Amazon’s role as an intermediary.”

Beyond allowing police departments to “store citizens’ crime reports on Amazon’s servers, rather than those operated by the police,” the Amazon products “will allow users to report crimes directly to their smart speakers,” an innovation David Murakami Wood, a scholar of surveillance, warned “serves as a startling reminder of the growing reach that technology companies have into our daily lives, intimate habits, and vulnerable moments — with and without our permission.”

Then there are the serious privacy dangers posed by Amazon’s “Ring” camera products, revealed in the Intercept last month by Sam Biddle. As he reported, Amazon’s Ring, intended to be a home security system, has “a history of lax, sloppy oversight when it comes to deciding who has access to some of the most precious, intimate data belonging to any person: a live, high-definition feed from around — and perhaps inside — their house.”

Among other transgressions, “Ring provided its Ukraine-based research and development team virtually unfettered access to a folder on Amazon’s S3 cloud storage service that contained every video created by every Ring camera around the world.” Biddle added: “This would amount to an enormous list of highly sensitive files that could be easily browsed and viewed. Downloading and sharing these customer video files would have required little more than a click.”About the Ring surveillance in particular, the ACLU explained:

Imagine if a neighborhood was set up with these doorbell cameras. Simply walking up to a friend’s house could result in your face, your fingerprint, or your voice being flagged as “suspicious” and delivered to a government database without your knowledge or consent. With Amazon selling the devices, operating the servers, and pushing the technology on law enforcement, the company is building all the pieces of a surveillance network, reaching from the government all the way to our front doors.

Bezos’ relationship with the military and intelligence wings of the U.S. Government is hard to overstate. Just last October, his company, Blue Origin, won a $500 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to help develop military rockets and spy satellites. Bezos personally thanked them in a tweet, proclaiming how “proud” he is “to serve the national security space community.”

Then there’s the patent Amazon obtained last October, as reported by the Intercept, “that would allow its virtual assistant Alexa to decipher a user’s physical characteristics and emotional state based on their voice.” In particular, it would enable anyone using the product to determine a person’s accent and likely place of origin: “The algorithm would also consider a customer’s physical location — based on their IP address, primary shipping address, and browser settings — to help determine their accent.”

All of this is taking place as Amazon vies for, and is the favorite to win, one of the largest Pentagon contracts yet: a $10 billion agreement to provide exclusive cloud services to the world’s largest military. CNN reported just last week that the company is now enmeshed in scandal over that effort, specifically a formal investigation into “whether Amazon improperly hired a former Defense Department worker who was involved with a $10 billion government contract for which the tech company is competing.”

Bezos’ relationship with the military and spying agencies of the U.S. Government, and law enforcement agencies around the world, predates his purchase of the Washington Post and has become a central prong of Amazon’s business growth. Back in 2014, Amazon secured a massive contract with the CIA when the spy agency agreed to pay it $600 million for computing cloud software. As the Atlantic noted at the time, Amazon’s software “will begin servicing all 17 agencies that make up the intelligence community.”

Given how vital the military and spy agencies now are to Amazon’s business, it’s unsurprising that the amount Amazon pays to lobbyists to serve its interests in Washington has exploded: quadrupling since 2013 from $3 million to almost $15 million last year, according to Open Secrets.

JEFF BEZOS IS AS ENTITLED as anyone else to his personal privacy. The threats from the National Enquirer are grotesque. If Bezos’ preemptive self-publishing of his private sex material reduces the unwarranted shame and stigma around adult consensual sexual activities, that will be a societal good.

But Bezos, given how much he works and profits to destroy the privacy of everyone else (to say nothing of the labor abuses of his company), is about the least sympathetic victim imaginable of privacy invasion. In the past, hard-core surveillance cheereladers in Congress such as Dianne Feinstein, Pete Hoekstra, and Jane Harmon became overnight, indignant privacy advocates when they learned that the surveillance state apparatus they long cheered had been turned against them.

Perhaps being a victim of privacy invasion will help Jeff Bezos realize the evils of what his company is enabling. Only time will tell. As of now, one of the world’s greatest privacy invaders just had his privacy invaded. As the ACLU put it: “Amazon is building the tools for authoritarian surveillance that advocates, activists, community leaders, politicians, and experts have repeatedly warned against.”

*  *  *

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Published:2/8/2019 5:34:47 PM
[Markets] "GIANT AND ILLEGAL HOAX": Trump Reams 2018 Schiff - Simpson Meeting In Aspen

President Trump lashed out over Twitter Friday, first slamming Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) after The Hill's John Solomon reported that House Intelligence Committee chairman had a "Forrest Gump-like encounter" with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson at last July's prestigious Aspen Security Conference. 

Fusion GPS produced the "hoax" Trump-Russia dossier commissioned by the Clinton Campaign, which relied on Kremlin sources for a series of salacious and largely unproven claims. The dossier was a foundational document used by the Obama administration to surveil the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. 

Solomon writes that photos from the Aspen security conference show Schiff and Simpson meeting, which both men insisted was only a brief encounter. 

When confronted with the Aspen conference photos of Schiff, in sport coat and open-neck dress shirt, and Simpson, wearing casual attire, representatives for both men tried to minimize their discussion, insisting nothing substantive about the Russia case was discussed. -The Hill

Shockingly, Simpson was an important witness in front of the House Intelligence Committee at the time - of which Schiff was the ranking Democrat. Simpson had "given sworn testimony about alleged, but still unproven, collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign," Solomon writes. 

What's more, Schiff had heard testimony from former DOJ #4 Bruce Ohr which suggested that Simpson may have lied to lawmakers

Specifically, Simpson claimed he had not begun meeting with Ohr until after Thanksgiving 2016, well after the FBI had begun investigating Trump-Russia collusion and after the presidential election in which Simpson's client, Clinton, lost to Trump.

But Ohr provided compelling evidence, including calendar notations, testimony and handwritten notes, showing that Simpson met with him in August 2016, well before the election and during a time when Steele was helping the FBI start an investigation into Trump. -The Hill

Fusion GPS tried to downplay the Aspen encounter, telling Solomon in a statement: "In the summer of 2018, Mr. Simpson attended a media-sponsored social event where he exchanged small talk with Rep. Schiff and many other people who were in attendance. The conversation between the two was brief and did not cover anything substantive. There has been no subsequent contact between Mr. Simpson and Rep. Schiff."

Schiff's comment was less specific. "The chairman did not have any pre-planned meeting with Glenn Simpson, and any conversation with him at the Aspen conference would have been brief and social in nature," said Schiff spokesman Patrick Boland. 

We're sure they discussed yoga and weddings. 

Or as Solomon writes: "Translation: This was just a Forrest Gump-like moment in which the Democrats’ chief defender of the dossier and the man whose firm produced it met serendipitously."

Trump then slammed the Russia investigation as a "GIANT AND ILLEGAL HOAX, developed long before the election itself, but used as an excuse by the Democrats as to why Crooked Hillary Clinton lost the Election!" 

Trump also noted that the mainstream media has "refused to cover the fact that the head of the VERY important Senate Intelligence Committee, after two years of intensive study and access to Intelligence that only they could get, just stated that they have found NO COLLUSION between “Trump” & Russia.""

On Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) announced that his committee's Russia investigation has yet to find evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election, and will soon release a report on the Obama administration's response to Russian interference in the last US election, reports Politico

In an interview with CBS published Thursday, Burr (R-N.C.) gave glimpses into the dynamics and scope of his committee's probe, which was launched shortly before Trump's 2017 inauguration and has now stretched into its third year. Burr told CBS that the committee staff has interviewed more than 200 witnesses from multiple countries and reviewed over 300,000 pages.

"Based on the evidence to date," Burr said, the committee could not definitively say there was collusion between Trump and the Russians.

"If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don't have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia," Burr told CBS. -Politico

Burr suggested that some of the questions raised during the course of the investigation could occupy the committee "for the next decade," and some portions of the final report would be so classified that they are never made available to the public. 

Their findings on the Obama administration's response to Russian interference could come within a "matter of weeks."  

Published:2/8/2019 8:28:40 AM
[Markets] The Absurdity Of Trump's Claim That Americans Are Free From Government Coercion

Authored by James Bovard via The Mises Institute,

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Trump received rapturous applause from Republicans for his declaration:

“America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free.”

But this uplifting sentiment cannot survive even a brief glance at the federal statute book or the heavy-handed enforcement tactics by federal, state, and local bureaucracies across the nation.

In reality, the threat of government punishment permeates Americans’ daily lives more than ever before:

The number of federal crimes has increased from 3 in 1789 to more than 4000 today. Congress has criminalized “transporting alligator grass across a state line; unauthorized use of the slogan 'Give a hoot, don't pollute'; and pretending to be a 4-H club member with intent to defraud," as the Buffalo Criminal Law Review noted.

Law enforcement agencies arrested over 10 million people in 2017 - roughly three percent of the population. Trump momentarily noticed the existence of government coercion last month when he complained about the FBI using “29 people” and “armored vehicles” for the arrest of Roger Stone. But SWAT teams conduct up to 80,000 raids a year, according to the ACLU, mostly for drug arrests or search warrants. Many innocent people have been killed in such raids.

Trump on Tuesday highlighted the case of Alice Johnson, unjustly sentenced to life in prison for a nonviolent drug offense. Trump’s commutation of her sentence is no consolation to the targets of 1.6 million drug arrests in 2017 - and it is not like those individuals showed up voluntarily at police stations asking to be “cuffed-and-stuffed.” More people are arrested for marijuana offenses than for all violent crimes combined, according to FBI statistics.

No coercion? Tell that to the scores of thousands of victims of asset forfeiture laws, which entitle law enforcement to confiscate people’s cash, cars, and other property based on the flimsiest accusation. Federal law-enforcement agencies seized more property via asset forfeiture provisions in 2014 year than all the burglars stole from homeowners and businesses nationwide.

Since 1970, the number of people confined in American prisons has increased by over 500 percent. Almost 10 percent of all American males will end up in prison at some point in their lives, according to an a 1997 Justice Department report. More than 10 percent of black males aged 20 to 34 were behind bars as of 2006, according to the Journal of American History.

Citizens and businesses pay more than $3 trillion in federal taxes each year thanks largely to the array of threats and penalties for non-compliance. Each week, scores of thousands of Americans have their bank accounts seized by the IRS, or have IRS liens put on their houses or land, or endure a tax audit, or receive notice of penalties and demands for additional taxes. The number of different penalties the IRS imposes on taxpayers has increased more than tenfold since 1954.

No one has a good estimate of the number of Americans who fall victim to arbitrary and capricious regulations by federal agencies. When the Supreme Court heard the case of the Agriculture Department’s dictates prohibiting raisin farmers from selling much of their harvest in 2014, Justice Elena Kagan suggested that the regime was “the world’s most outdated law.” But there are many other senseless provisions that the media and the courts simply ignore.

Trump perpetuates one of Washington’s fondest myths - that the federal government is not coercive unless the president or some agency boss formally announces their plans to brutally punish some group without cause. This is notion is avidly supported and propagated by many of the nation’s pundits and political scientists as a way to keep people paying and obeying.

Trump followed his “no coercion here” assertion with the following line: “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a Socialist country.” Democrats responded with a stony if not irritable silence. Perhaps the greatest irony in Washington is that the people who distrust Trump the most are seeking to vastly increase government power.

Democratic socialists have offered no evidence that new federal takeovers of the economy would not produce the same disasters as followed federal domineering of agriculture or the mortgage industry. Instead, new economic prohibitions would create a profusion of victims akin to Eric Garner, who was strangled in 2014 by a New York City policeman after being apprehended selling individual cigarettes without a license.

President Andrew Johnson rightly observed in an 1868 message to Congress, “It may be safely assumed as an axiom... that the greatest wrongs inflicted upon a people are caused by unjust and arbitrary legislation.” But the federal statute book and Code of Federal Regulations are Towers of Babble that contain vast numbers of punitive provisions that unjustly ruin or blight other Americans’ lives. Trust the Washington establishment to continue pretending that “there is nothing to see here” in the continuing automatic-pilot coercion of the nation.

Published:2/7/2019 4:27:01 PM
[] Cuck Senator Richard Burr: The Senate Intelligence Committee Has Not Found Anything Suggesting any Collusion by Trump with Russia And this guy has always been kind of pushing for this investigation and also, noticeably, not taking any interest whatsoever in the revelations of crimes committed by FBI and DOJ officials. Yet he says there's nothing to this Fusion Fantasia.... Published:2/7/2019 2:23:26 PM
[Markets] Senate Investigating Mueller FBI's Prosecution Of "Orgy Island Billionaire" Jeffrey Epstein  

Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced New York financier who served 13 months in prison for soliciting an underaged girl for prostitution, has served his time, and despite all of the negative press surrounding his "Lolita Express" and the many celebrities and politicians - including former President Bill Clinton and disgraced actor Kevin Spacey - who have reportedly traveled to his "orgy island", he will likely live out his life as a free man (unless new offenses are committed).

But thanks to a series published by the Miami Herald last year that delved into how prosecutors worked with powerful defense attorneys to ensure Epstein received such a lenient sentence. The expose shed a light on the role played by Alex Acosta, who went on to become Trump's Secretary of Labour, in handing down the light sentence. Acosta was the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida at the time Epstein's sentence was handed down.

Now, thanks to those stories, the DOJ has reportedly opened an investigation into the conduct of DOJ attorneys in the case, and whether they committed "professional misconduct" in their working relationship with Epstein's attorneys.

Epstein

The probe was opened in response to a request lodged by Sen. Ben Sasse, a a Nebraska Republican and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who raised questions about the case after reading the Herald's stories about how Acosta and other DOJ attorneys worked with defense attorneys to cut a lenient plea deal for Epstein back in 2008, per the Herald.

At the time, the FBI was run by Robert Mueller.

Though the reasons for the lenient deal could be rooted in the natural advantages of the wealthy, one Twitter user who did a deep dive into a cache of redacted FBI Vault documents released last year raised the possibility that Epstein could have been an informant for the FBI, providing information on executives from failed investment bank Bear Stearns in exchange for the lenient sentence (though there's nothing in his guilty plea that suggested he provided information).

To be sure, records show that Epstein passed a polygraph test showing that he didn't know any of the girls he solicited were under the age of 18 at the time. Also, the case has taken on renewed importance since opposition research shops tried to link President Trump to Epstein during the campaign.

While that hasn't been conclusively proven, it could have been part of a separate agreement that has yet to be disclosed.

Published:2/6/2019 5:48:51 PM
[Markets] Adam Schiff Showboats, Republicans Call His Bluff On Russia Probe

Authored by Sara Carter,

Republicans with the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Tuesday submitted a motion to immediately publish dozens of witness transcripts in the Russia Trump investigation that were turned over for declassification review, stating it is “part of the process of publishing them for the American people to see.” Though the transcripts are unclassified, the Committee had sent them to the Intelligence Community for a review as a precautionary measure.

Let’s do it. Make the witness transcripts public and let the cards fall where they may. The committee already voted to make the documents public on a similar motion in September, 2018, when it was then led by House Republicans.

The Republican motion was in response to now Democratic Chairman Adam Schiff’s proposal to turn over all the witness interviews to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office for review. Those witness interviews, however, are already available to Mueller.

Remember, the transcripts were given to the Executive Branch for declassification review months ago. Mueller had access to Roger Stone’s transcript. When Mueller decided to press charges against Stone, the only stipulation for the Special Counsel was that they had to ask for another official copy of the transcript from the committee. The committee obliged and sent the second copy of the transcript to the Justice Department.

Showboating Schiff 

So why is Schiff making this such a big issue? He’s showboating.

He is being disingenuous when he tells media outlets that he wants to turn over the transcripts to Mueller because, as I’ve stated, he has access already.

There’s a reason for this approach.

Schiff is insinuating that the people connected to Trump, who were interviewed by the committee lied.

It’s a way of keeping the Russia Trump collusion narrative alive and well.

In his never-ending media appearances, Schiff declares that Mueller needs these transcripts to investigate possible perjury charges.

In January, Schiff told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he wanted to send them to Mueller to investigate if any witnesses had lied to Congress.

Schiff told Tapper:

“I think Bob Mueller, by virtue of the fact that he has been able to conduct this investigation using tools that we didn’t have in our committee, meaning compulsion, is in a better position to determine, OK, who was telling the truth, who wasn’t, and who could I make a case against in terms of perjury?”

He has even named some witnesses publicly, for example, he questioned whether Donald Trump Jr. had perjured himself during testimony. Schiff called out Trump Jr. in an interview in January with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s ‘This Week.’  The Democratic chairman hinted that Trump Jr. may have lied to Congress about who he called on a blocked number around the time of the infamous Trump Tower meeting. He suggested that it may have been his father President Trump and that Mueller should investigate. Further, he had made the same insinuation in the past, but days after his appearance on “This Week,” it was proven false when a story by The New York Times revealed Trump Jr. was calling two close family friends.

The Witnesses 

Making matters more interesting, Republicans today also put forward a motion to subpoena around a dozen witnesses. Those people, including officials involved in the FBI’s Russia investigation as well as people likely to be familiar with the compilation of the Steele dossier. Of course, those people may not say what the Democrats want to hear so the Democrats rejected the motion.

It’s actually a brilliant idea – we need more interviews. I think the Republicans should pounce on this opportunity to question these witnesses. Hopefully, they will ask some poignant questions we still don’t have answers to.

Who provided former British spy Christopher Steele with the salacious and unverified information in the dossier? That’s one question I’d like clarity on.

“Since the Democrats previously sought testimony from these individuals, such as James Baker and Sergei Millian, we assume they still want to speak to them,” said Jack Langer, spokesman for committee Republican Rep. Devin Nunes.

“It’s even possible some witnesses can help explain the ‘more than circumstantial evidence’ of Trump-Russia collusion that the Democrats claimed to have found two years ago but, inexplicably, never revealed to Committee Republicans or anyone else.”

James Baker is the former FBI General Counsel who was close friends with former FBI Director James Comey. Baker is now the subject of a leak investigation. He reportedly accepted documents from Perkins Coie, the law firm used by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign to pay for the unverified dossier.

What about Sergei Millian?

And it would also be interesting to hear from Sergei Millian, who is widely reported to be an unwitting source of information contained in the dossier, which was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

These witnesses would surely have some interesting information to share if they were under questioned by the committee. I’m not sure it’s information that would benefit Schiff’s claim that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. But I’m certain it would shed light on what really happened with the dossier and the internal machinations of the FBI’s probe into the campaign.

Read the press release below from the House Intelligence Committee:

Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued the following statement today on sending the transcripts of interviews from the committee’s Russia investigation to the Special Counsel’s office.

  • Republicans are happy the Democrats are joining us in reiterating what the Republican-led committee already voted to do in September 2018—make all the transcripts available to the executive branch, including the Special Counsel’s office, as part of the process of publishing them for the American people to see.

  • In light of the unacceptable delay in the Director of National Intelligence’s declassification review, we hope the Democrats will now join us in further increasing transparency by voting to immediately publish all the unclassified transcripts that we previously sent to the executive branch.

  • Additionally, we call on our Democratic colleagues to grant our request to subpoena numerous witnesses whose testimony the Democrats had previously sought in connection with the committee’s Russia investigation.

Published:2/6/2019 4:18:53 PM
[The Blog] At least one DNA testing company has been working with the FBI. Is that wrong?

Kind of creepy, but probably legal?

The post At least one DNA testing company has been working with the FBI. Is that wrong? appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:2/6/2019 3:48:27 PM
[Markets] Huawei Tried To Steal His Technology, But He Was Working For The FBI All Along

Adam Khan believed he had invented nearly indestructible glass that was going to revolutionize the technology industry. His "diamond glass" looked like ordinary glass, but was 6 times stronger than the industry standard. His plan, according to a new Bloomberg article? License the technology to phone manufacturers and turn a pretty penny for his company, Akhan Semiconductor, Inc.

As part of his research, he sent a specimen of his glass to a San Diego lab that was owned by Huawei Technologies to have it evaluated for potential licensing - but the sample he received back after testing was badly damaged, leading him to believe it may have been tampered with.

Khan said he was optimistic at first: “We were very optimistic. Having one of the top three smartphone manufacturers back you, at least on paper, is very attractive.”

But he then found himself paranoid about knockoffs - and became even more paranoid when Huawei began to "behave suspiciously" after getting his sample. They missed a deadline to return his sample and when they did return it, it was broken in several pieces and three shards of glass were missing altogether. 

He said: “My heart sank. I thought, ‘Great, this multibillion-dollar company is coming after our technology. What are we going to do now?’”

Khan was likely further surprised when he was approached by the FBI to help with an ongoing investigation into Huawei. The FBI wanted Khan and Akhan’s chief operations officer, Carl Shurboff, to conduct an undercover meeting with Huawei in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show. Shurboff was outfitted with surveillance devices and recorded the conversation, while a reporter from Bloomberg watched from a safe distance. 

During the conversation, Khan and his COO "succeeded in getting Huawei representatives to admit, on tape, to breaking the contract with Akhan and, evidently, to violating U.S. export-control laws."

Subsequent to that, when an FBI gemology expert was able to examine the glass Khan had received back, they determined the Huawei had blasted it with a 100 kW laser, which is "powerful enough to be used as a weapon".

The investigation Khan is involved in is separate from recent indictments against the company. It is hardly the last as it seems that every day, more Huawei stones continue to turn over.

“Today should serve as a warning that we will not tolerate businesses that violate our laws, obstruct justice, or jeopardize national and economic well-being,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a January 28 press release about indictments regarding technology allegedly stolen by Huawei from T-Mobile. On that same day, the FBI raided the San Diego lab where Khan had sent his glass. 

Display glass is considered to be a significant competitive advantage in the world of smart phones. Khan had been working on diamond glass going back to his college days when he began learning about nanodiamonds at the age of 19. According to Bloomberg:

After graduation, he ran experiments at the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility and teamed up with researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, eventually developing and patenting a way to deposit a thin coating of tiny diamonds on materials such as glass. He also licensed diamond-related patents for Akhan from the Argonne lab in 2014. By the following year, Khan was confident enough to start promoting his new technology. 

If the FBI's new investigation into Huawei continues to provide substantial evidence, it will bolster the Trump administration's case to block the Chinese company from selling equipment for 5G use in the US. Some countries, like Australia, have already banned Huawei equipment for fear of not being able to protect IP that's in the interest of national security. 

Khan's final take? All companies of all sizes should be watching out for Huawei as closely as possible: “I think they’re identifying technologies that are key to their road map and going after them no matter what the size or scale or status of the business. I wouldn’t say they’re discriminating.”

To read Bloomberg's full long-form writeup with more details on the story, click here

Published:2/5/2019 10:14:44 PM
[Politics] Comey: 'Zero Chance' Hillary Clinton Will Be Prosecuted in Email Case Former FBI Director James Comey says there is no chance Hillary Clinton will be prosecuted in the case involving her emails.Comey made his remarks Monday, while speaking at a town hall event in Sarasota, Florida, reports Fox 13."There is zero chance, zero chance, on the... Published:2/5/2019 6:40:58 AM
[633881b5-653a-57e9-956c-647b8e7d14fc] Judge Andrew Napolitano: Roger Stone's arrest and our government's Gestapo-like behavior President Trump’s long-time advisor Roger Stone was infamously arrested by 29 FBI agents and U.S. Marshals last month in a pre-dawn raid on his Florida home which was aired live on national cable television by CNN. Published:2/4/2019 3:07:17 PM
[Markets] Appeals Court: Police Don't Need A Reason To Place Americans On 'Suspicious Person' List

Via MassPrivateI.com,

Day by day, year by year our justice system proves the Constitution has essentially become worthless...

Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled that police do not need a reason to place a person on the Suspicious Person List.

The ruling explains how President George W. Bush created fusion centers whose primary mission was to identify “suspicious Americans.”

In October 2007, President George W. Bush issued a National Strategy for Information Sharing concerning terrorism-related information. The Strategy created fusion centers that would ensure Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) were disseminated to and evaluated by appropriate government authorities, and identify requirements to support a unified process for reporting, tracking, and accessing SARs. The nationwide effort to standardize this information sharing was called the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative.

According to the ruling, Americans can be considered suspicious for doing things like taking pictures of public art, buying a computer, practicing their religion, etc.

Private guards prevented Prigoff, a professional photographer, from taking photographs of a work of public art near Boston, an incident that resulted in the creation of multiple SARs. The FBI then visited Prigoff’s home and questioned a neighbor about him.

Being put on an SAR list is similar to the FDA’s drug manufacturing list

The Ninth Circuit claimed that being placed on an SAR list is similar to determining whether a pharmacy is manufacturing drugs!

The Functional Standard is similar to the Food & Drug Administration’s policy guide at issue in Professionals and Patients for Customized Care. The FDA promulgated a policy utilizing nine factors to help the agency determine whether to initiate an enforcement action against a pharmacy engaged in drug manufacturing.

“The Fifth Circuit noted that although the nine factors assisted the FDA in identifying pharmacies engaged in the manufacture of  drugs, the ultimate  decision whether to bring an enforcement action remained with the agency. Likewise, the Functional Standard aids agencies in determining whether an individual is engaged in suspicious activity, but the final decision to disseminate an SAR rests in the analyst’s discretion.

Credit: Government Accountability Office

What does that mean to the average American?

It means that you, your family, friends or neighbors could be labeled a “suspicious person” based on the whims of local police and a DHS officer.

No one know really knows what factors law enforcement uses in determining if a person should be put on an SAR list. But we do know that the Ninth Circuit ruled that law enforcement does not need to have “reasonable suspicion” to put Americans on a Suspicious Person List.

“Tips and leads required only ‘mere suspicion,’ a lower standard than the reasonable suspicion required for criminal intelligence data,” U.S. Circuit Judge Milan Smith said.

“We will . . . uphold a decision of less than ideal clarity if the agency’s path may reasonably be discerned.” Motor Vehicle, 463 U.S. at 43. From the outset, the ISE has consistently pronounced that an ISE-SAR need not meet the reasonable suspicion standard in order to expand the base of information gathered.

Welcome to America, a nation of paranoid police ready to brand you and your family suspicious for any reason.

Published:2/3/2019 10:33:44 PM
[Markets] Mocking Mueller's Collusion-Free Collusion Indictment Of Roger Stone

Authored by Andrew McCarthy via National Review,

There was no crime until the investigations started...

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of Roger Stone may be the most peculiar document to emerge from the Trump–Russia “collusion” saga. It is an instant classic in the Mueller genre: lots of heavy breathing, then sputtering anti-climax.

After a 20-page narrative about Russian cyber-ops, WikiLeaks’ role as a witting anti-American accomplice, and Trump supporters enthralled by thousands of hacked Democratic emails and visions of the Clinton campaign’s implosion, Stone, a comically inept hanger-on, ends up charged with seven process crimes. No espionage, no conspiracy, no commission of any crime until the investigations started.

This is not to say that obstruction of congressional investigations is trifling. Nor is it to say the accused has a good chance of beating the case. Some of Stone’s alleged lies were mind-bogglingly stupid. Why deny written communications with people you’ve texted a zillion times? Why deny conversations with interlocutors (such as Trump-campaign CEO Steve Bannon) who have no reason to risk a perjury charge to protect you? And don’t even get me started on the witness-tampering count, which, if I were Mueller, I’d have hesitated to include for fear of suggesting an insanity defense. (Do it for Nixon? Pull a “Frank Pentangeli”?)

That said, the case is overcharged. The tampering count carries a 20-year penalty. Adding an obstruction or false-statements count (five years each) would have given Stone (who is 66 years old) prison exposure of up to 25 years. The most central “colluder” in the Mueller firmament to be bagged so far, George Papadopoulos, was sentenced to a grand total of two weeks’ imprisonment. Surely a quarter-century of “potential” incarceration would have sufficed to give prosecutors the “this is serious stuff” headline they crave while allowing for the more representative sentence Stone will eventually receive — who knows, maybe three weeks? But true to form, Mueller instead included six of these five-year counts — so the press can report that Stone faces up to 50 years in the slammer.

This inflated portrait of Stone as a major criminal was further bloated by the scene of his arrest: a well-armed battalion of FBI agents sent to apprehend him as the media, conveniently on hand at 6 a.m., took it all in. But Stone is just a cameo. The big picture is the overarching Trump–Russia investigation. It’s still being inflated, too.

Prosecutors ordinarily do not write an elaborate narrative about crimes they cannot prove. Here, though, Mueller uses Stone as the pretext to spell out the Big Collusion Scheme: Candidate Donald Trump instructs Stone to coordinate with WikiLeaks on the dissemination of Clinton dirt stolen by Russia; Stone directs his associate, Jerome Corsi, to have Corsi’s man in London, Ted Malloch, make contact with WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange, who is holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Malloch must have succeeded, because next thing you know, Corsi is reporting back to Stone: Our friends the Russian hackers have given WikiLeaks all this damaging information on Hillary, including the Podesta emails; it will all be rolled out in October, right before the election.

It’s a sensational story. Only . . . it’s just a story.

Mueller doesn’t even pretend he can prove it. No shame in that: During a long investigation, prosecutors always develop a theory of the case. Often, the hypothesis doesn’t pan out. No problem. You narrow your indictment down to what you can prove and call it a day. In Stone’s case, that would dictate omitting the ambitious collusion narrative and stripping down to a two-page obstruction-of-Congress indictment. Instead, Mueller gives us the fever dream: Stone as a key cog in the collusion wheel. Where reality intrudes, the prosecutors float suggestions they cannot prove or leave out key details that blow up the narrative.

The special counsel could have contented himself with easy-to-prove false-statements charges against Stone: lying about whether his WikiLeaks communications were documented in writing; lying about whether he asked his friend Randy Credico to pass a request for specific Hillary Clinton information to Assange; lying about whether he ever told the Trump campaign about his WikiLeaks conversations with Credico.

But no, Mueller strains to accuse Stone of falsely denying that he had a second WikiLeaks “intermediary” — whom the indictment indicates was Jerome Corsi, Stone’s Infowars associate. Depending on how charitable you want to be, this claim is either risibly weak, flatly wrong, or dependent on a distortion of the word “intermediary.” To repeat, the “intermediary” thread adds nothing to the case against Stone. It is a pretext for weaving the collusion narrative without having to prove it.

To amplify the indictment a bit with reporting by the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross, Credico — a left-wing comedian and radio host — got access to Assange through a radical lawyer, Margaret Ratner Kunstler, who has done work for WikiLeaks. That apparently did not happen until shortly before August 25, 2016, when Assange appeared as a guest on Credico’s radio show. According to the indictment, Credico first texted Stone about Assange’s imminent appearance on August 19.

Prosecutors, however, suggest that Stone had a line into Assange and WikiLeaks starting at least two months earlier. “By in or around June and July 2016,” goes the slippery allegation, Stone was telling Trump officials he had information that WikiLeaks possessed damaging Hillary Clinton documents. In Mueller’s telling, this makes Stone seem like a potentially valuable WikiLeaks insider when, on July 22, WikiLeaks began publishing thousands of DNC emails. Immediately, a “senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional releases and what other damaging information [WikiLeaks] had regarding the Clinton campaign.”

If not from Credico, from whom, pray tell, did Stone learn what WikiLeaks was up to? Who is the other intermediary?

In truth, he didn’t need one. He had two sources of information about WikiLeaks — neither of them Corsi, neither of them sensibly thought of as an “intermediary.” These sources go unmentioned in the indictment. Worse, while the prosecutors finger Corsi as Stone’s hidden “intermediary,” their evidence does not support this claim — and they know it, so they fudge it.

Let’s start with the two sources Mueller omits.

Turns out it is not just Stone who was alerted long before the Democratic convention that WikiLeaks might have damaging information on Clinton. Everyone on the planet who cared to be informed about such things knew. On June 12, 2016, in an interview that was widely reported, Assange said that WikiLeaks planned to expose documents relating to Hillary Clinton that could affect the 2016 election. Was Stone, the self-styled dark-politics devotee, pressing sources for an entrée into WikiLeaks? Sure he was. But that doesn’t mean he had one. And he didn’t need one in order to direct the Trump campaign’s attention to WikiLeaks; Assange was calling the world’s attention to himself.

The second omitted source? It was James Rosen, then a top reporter at Fox News — though Rosen seems to have had no idea he was playing that role. To understand what happened, we need to consider the July 25 Stone–Corsi email that the indictment treats like a smoking gun — but consider it in the context of an earlier July 25 email that the indictment fails to include.

As noted above, on July 22, someone very high up in the Trump campaign — perhaps the candidate himself, though we are not told — ordered a top campaign official to reach out to Stone. Just three days later, Stone sent Corsi an email with the subject line “Get to [Assange].” Stone exhorted Corsi to try to reach the WikiLeaks leader “at Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending emails . . . they deal with the [Clinton] Foundation allegedly” (emphasis added).

So why did Stone believe WikiLeaks had Clinton Foundation documents? Well, Stone is acquainted with Charles Ortel, an investor who dabbles in investigative journalism and has focused intently on the Clinton Foundation. Ortel has occasional correspondence with James Rosen. In an email exchange on July 25, Rosen told Ortel, “Am told WikiLeaks will be doing a massive dump of HRC emails related to the CF [i.e., the Clinton Foundation] in September.” Ortel proceeded to forward this email to Stone. Only after seeing Rosen’s email did Stone contact Corsi to say that Assange “allegedly” had Clinton Foundation emails that Corsi should try to acquire.

Obviously, Stone did not need a WikiLeaks intermediary to give him a heads-up about a possible Clinton Foundation dump. He happened upon that information indirectly from a member of the press (Rosen), through an acquaintance (Ortel). And he did not need Corsi as an intermediary — Stone is the one who alerted Corsi, not the other way around.

The indictment says that, shortly after receiving Stone’s July 25 email imploring him to make contact with Assange, Corsi forwarded it to a “supporter of the Trump campaign” in the United Kingdom — reported by Chuck Ross to be Ted Malloch, a London-based American who used to be a business professor at Oxford and has ties to British populists. Subsequently, on Sunday July 31, Stone emailed Corsi to “call me MON,” stressing that Corsi’s associate should “see [Assange].”

Well, did that happen? Did Corsi’s man Malloch make contact with WikiLeaks?

If you read nothing but Mueller’s indictment, you assume he must have. After all, the next thing we are told about is Corsi’s email report to Stone on Tuesday, August 2. Corsi (then vacationing in Italy) wrote: “Word is friend in embassy [i.e., Assange] plans 2 more dumps, one shortly after I’m back [which was to be in mid August]. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging.” Corsi added:

Time to let more than [Podesta] to be exposed as in bed w enemy if they are not ready to drop HRC [Clinton]. That appears to be game hackers are now about. Would not hurt to start suggesting HRC old, memory bad, has stroke — neither he nor she well. I expect that much of next dump focus, setting stage for foundation debacle.

The implication is clear: Malloch must have reached Assange, gotten the critical information, and passed it along to Corsi so it could be communicated to Stone and the Trump campaign. Corsi is the intermediary! Coordination! Collusion!

But Mueller is hiding the ball again. The indictment makes no mention of the facts that Malloch denies knowing anything about WikiLeaks, that Corsi denies having any sources with inside knowledge about WikiLeaks, and that prosecutors appear to accept these denials.

So how did Corsi get the “2 more dumps” of information (or gossip) that he dished to Stone? He made it up — or, more benignly, he claims to have figured it out on his own. Reportedly, Mueller’s prosecutors were as frustrated as they were incredulous over Corsi’s unlikely claim. But they don’t have a better explanation. In the negotiations over a plea offer (on a charge of lying to investigators), which Corsi has resisted, Mueller’s prosecutors drafted an agreed-upon “Statement of the Offense.” In it, Corsi was to admit that “his representations to [Stone], beginning in August 2016, that he had a way of obtaining confidential information from [WikiLeaks] were false.”

Corsi is another strange character in this drama. He is a notorious bomb-thrower, and his memory is spotty. But one can understand why the special counsel seems to accept his story about not having a WikiLeaks source: His information was spectacularly wrong. He surmised that Assange would release information that Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, had serious medical problems; this would be a prelude to devastating disclosures about the Clinton Foundation. Corsi’s fever dream never came true, either.

But how can Corsi have been Stone’s intermediary to WikiLeaks if he had no way of obtaining confidential information from WikiLeaks?

Stone, meantime, points out that neither he nor Corsi made reference to Podesta’s emails. He denies any awareness that Assange had them, and plausibly contends that the reference to Podesta in his conversation with Corsi (and in his later tweet on August 21 that “the Podesta’s [sic] in the barrel” was coming) related to a lobbying company started by John Podesta and his brother Tony. That company had done work for the same Kremlin-backed Ukrainian political party served by Paul Manafort — Trump’s campaign manager, and Stone’s former business partner. It was at the very time when Stone and Corsi were discussing WikiLeaks and Podesta that a July 31 New York Times exposé appeared, outlining Manafort’s lobbying entanglements with these Ukrainians. Tellingly, Mueller does not contend that Stone’s denial of foreknowledge about WikiLeaks’ Podesta dump is false.

Again, understand: It is not just that Mueller can’t prove Corsi was Stone’s intermediary. Mueller has no need to try to prove it. He has an overwhelming obstruction and witness-tampering case against Stone without it. The indictment’s “intermediary” plot line is just a device for prosecutors to spin the Trump–Russia–WikiLeaks collusion yarn. They are careful not to plead it in a conspiracy count; just an “introductory” narrative — no formal charge, no burden to prove it, and no need to reveal stubborn facts that undermine it. Since it is superfluous to the process charges against Stone, he may not even challenge it. Maybe he will plead guilty, and the narrative will stand as the government’s unrebutted version of events.

And this is just the indictment of a bit player. Makes you look forward to the special counsel’s final report, no?

Published:2/3/2019 5:02:32 PM
[Markets] NBC News Exposed 'Reporting' Pure Propaganda On Gabbard's Russia Links From Disinfo-Democrat

Collusion, right under your nose...

In December, a Democratic operative who hatched a Russian "false flag" scheme against Republican Roy Moore in last year's Alabama special election promoted his own propaganda on the dubious "Hamilton 68" website - which purports to track Russian "bot" activity, yet refuses to disclose how they do it. 

In January, an online disinformation campaign conducted by a former Obama administration official leading up to the 2018 midterm elections was bankrolled by left-wing tech billionaire Reid Hoffman, according to the Daily Caller's Peter Hasson. Hoffman, who co-founded LinkedIn, admitted in December to funding American Engagement Technologies (AET) - which is currently embroiled in a "false flag" scandal stemming from the 2017 Alabama special election. Now, AET and its founder Mickey Dickerson have come under fire for meddling in the 2018 midterm elections. 

And now, as the Democratic establishment faces an onslaught of potential presidential candidates that are not toeing-the-line of radicalism, The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald exposes  the pure propaganda that the liberal media will resort to, in order to please their Democratic, deep state overlords and keep to "The Plan."

NBC News published a predictably viral story Friday, claiming that “experts who track websites and social media linked to Russia have seen stirrings of a possible campaign of support for Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard.”

But the whole story was a sham: the only “experts” cited by NBC in support of its key claim was the firm, New Knowledge, that just got caught by the New York Times fabricating Russian troll accounts on behalf of the Democratic Party in the Alabama Senate race to manufacture false accusations that the Kremlin was interfering in that election.

To justify its claim that Tulsi Gabbard is the Kremlin’s candidate, NBC stated:

“analysts at New Knowledge, the company the Senate Intelligence Committee used to track Russian activities in the 2016 election, told NBC News they’ve spotted ‘chatter’ related to Gabbard in anonymous online message boards, including those known for fomenting right-wing troll campaigns.”

What NBC – amazingly – concealed is a fact that reveals its article to be a journalistic fraud: that same firm, New Knowledge, was caught just six weeks ago engaging in a massive scam to create fictitious Russian troll accounts on Facebook and Twitter in order to claim that the Kremlin was working to defeat Democratic Senate nominee Doug Jones in Alabama. The New York Times, when exposing the scam, quoted a New Knowledge report that boasted of its fabrications: “We orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation that planted the idea that the [Roy] Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet.'”

At the same time that New Research’s CEO, Jonathan Morgan, was fabricating Russian troll accounts and using them to create a fraudulent appearance that Putin was trying to defeat the Democratic Senate candidate, he was exploiting his social media “expertise” to claim that Russians were interfering in the Alabama Senate election. In other words, Morgan used his own fake Russian accounts to lie to the public and deceive the national media into believing that Kremlin-linked accounts were trying to defeat the Democratic Senate candidate when, in fact, the accounts he was citing were ones he himself had fabricated and controlled.

Even worse, Morgan’s firm is behind one of the recent Senate reports on Russian social media election interference as well as the creation of “Hamilton 68,” the pseudo-data-driven dashboard constantly used by U.S. media outlets to claim that its enemies are supported by the Kremlin (that tool has so been abused that even some of its designers urged the media to stop exaggerating its meaning). During the Alabama race, Morgan – in a tweet he deleted once his fraud was exposed – cited the #Hamilton68 data that he himself manipulated with his fake Russian accounts to claim that Russia was interfering in the Alabama Senate race:

In response to this scam being revealed, Facebook closed the accounts of five Americans who were responsible for this fraud, including Morgan himself, the “prominent social media researcher” who is the CEO of New Knowledge. He also touts himself as a “State Dept. advisor, computational propaganda researcher for DARPA, Brookings Institution.”

Beyond Morgan’s Facebook suspension, the billionaire funder and LinkedIn founder who provided the money for the New Knowledge project, Reid Hoffman, apologized and claimed he had no knowledge of the fraud. The victorious Democratic Senate candidate who won the Alabama Senate race and who repeatedly cited New Knowledge’s fake Russian accounts during the election to claim he was being attacked by Russian bots, Doug Jones, insisted he had no knowledge of the scheme and has now called for a federal investigation into New Knowledge.

This is the group of “experts” on which NBC News principally relied to spread its inflammatory, sensationalistic, McCarthyite storyline that Gabbard’s candidacy is supported by the Kremlin.

While NBC cited a slew of former FBI and other security state agents to speculate about why the Kremlin would like Gabbard, its claim that “experts” have detected the “stirrings” of such support came from this discredited, disgraced firm, one that just proved it specializes in issuing fictitious accusations against enemies of the Democratic Party that they are linked to Russia. Just marvel at how heavily NBC News relies on the disgraced New Knowledge to smear Gabbard as a favorite of Moscow:

Experts who track inauthentic social media accounts, however, have already found some extolling Gabbard’s positions since she declared.

Within a few days of Gabbard announcing her presidential bid, DisInfo 2018, part of the cybersecurity firm New Knowledge, found that three of the top 15 URLs shared by the 800 social media accounts affiliated with known and suspected Russian propaganda operations directed at U.S. citizens were about Gabbard.

Analysts at New Knowledge, the company the Senate Intelligence Committee used to track Russian activities in the 2016 election, told NBC News they’ve spotted “chatter” related to Gabbard in anonymous online message boards, including those known for fomenting right-wing troll campaigns. The chatter discussed Gabbard’s usefulness.

“A few of our analysts saw some chatter on 8chan saying she was a good ‘divider’ candidate to amplify,” said New Knowledge’s director of research Renee DiResta, director of research at New Knowledge.

What’s particularly unethical about the NBC report is that it tries to bolster the credentials of this group by touting it as “the company the Senate Intelligence Committee used to track Russian activities in the 2016 election,” while concealing from its audience the fraud that this firm’s CEO just got caught perpetrating on the public on behalf of the Democratic Party.

The only other so-called “expert” cited by NBC in support of its claim that Russian accounts are supporting Gabbard is someone named “Josh Russell,” who NBC identified as “Josh Russel.” Russell, or Russel, is touted by NBC as “a researcher and ‘troll hunter’ known for identifying fake accounts.” In reality, “Russel” is someone CNN last year touted as an “Indiana dad” and “amateur troll hunter” with a full-time job unrelated to Russia (he works as programmer at a college) and whose “hobby” is tracing online Russian accounts.

So beyond the firm that just got caught in a major fraudulent scam fabricating Russian support to help the Democratic Party, that’s NBC’s only other vaunted expert for its claim that the Kremlin is promoting Gabbard: someone CNN just last year called an “amateur” who traces Russian accounts as a “hobby.” And even there, NBC could only cite Russel (sic) as saying that “he recently spotted a few clusters of suspicious accounts that retweeted the same exact text about Gabbard, mostly neutral or slightly positive headlines.”

NBC also purported to rely on its own highly sophisticated analysis by counting the number of times Gabbard was mentioned by RT, Sputnik and Russia Insider, and then noting what it seems to regard as the highly incriminating fact that “Gabbard was mentioned on the three sites about twice as often as two of the best known Democratic possibilities for 2020, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, each with 10 stories.”

But in contrast to Gabbard, who announced her intent to run for President almost a month ago, neither Biden nor Sanders has done so. Perhaps that fact, rather than – as one of the NBC reporters adolescently gushed: “The Kremlin already has a crush on Tulsi Gabbard” – is what explains the greater amount of coverage?

In any event, NBC News, to smear Gabbard as a Kremlin favorite, relied on a group that it heralded as “experts” without telling its audience about the major fraud which this firm just got caught perpetrating in order – on behalf of the Democratic Party – to fabricate claims of Kremlin interference in the Alabama Senate race.

That’s because the playbook used by the axis of the Democratic Party, NBC/MSNBC, neocons and the intelligence community has been, is and will continue to be a very simple one: to smear any adversary of the establishment wing of the Democratic Party – whether on the left or the right – as a stooge or asset of the Kremlin (a key target will undoubtedly be, indeed already is, Bernie Sanders).

To accomplish this McCarthyite goal, this Democratic Party coalition of neocons, intelligence operatives and NBC stars will deceive, smear and even engage in outright journalistic deception, as NBC (once again) just proved with this report.

*  *  *
So which is it Democrats? Saul Alinsky or Cloward-Piven?

Published:2/3/2019 4:01:34 PM
[Markets] Paul Craig Roberts Exposes "The Lawless Government"

Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

I remember when a suspect was regarded as innocent until proven guilty in a fair trial. Today prosecutors convict their victims in the media in order to make an unbiased jury impossible and thereby coerce a plea bargain that saves the prosecutor from having to prove his case. In the United States, law is no longer a shield of the people. Law is a weapon in the hands of prosecutors. (See Roberts & Stratton, The Tyranny of Good Intentions.)

Formerly, if a prosecutor staged an arrest for publicity purposes, as Mueller did by placing a CNN presstitute on the scene and sending a couple of dozen heavily armed men in a pre-dawn raid to arrest a well known political consultant for allegedly “lying to Congress” when the appropriate procedure is for Mueller to inform Stone’s lawyer to present his client for indictment, the judge would throw out the case on the grounds that the prosecutor’s unethical action had biased the juror pool and made a fair trial impossible. The judge might also have thrown out the case on the grounds of selective prosecution. James Clapper while serving as Director of National Intelligence lied to Congress under oath and suffered no consequences, and Hillary Clinton has clearly broken the law and lied about it.

Today judges permit unethical behavior by prosecutors that deprives defendants of a fair trial, because judges don’t want the bother of trials any more than prosecutors do. Consequently, according to official statistics 97% of federal criminal cases are settled by a defendent pleaing guilty to a charge negotiated by his attorney and a prosecutor. As the charge is a negotiated or made-up one, most people in prison are there for confessing to crimes that never occurred.

Prosecutors, now that they are no longer bound by constraints of legal integrity, often fabricate a case against a person in order to force the person to give false testimony against the prosecutor’s real target. This is what Mueller’s cases against Cohen, Manafort, and Roger Stone are. Trump is the target, not Cohen, Manafort, and Stone. In addition, prosecutors string out the investigation so long that they force the target to use up his net worth fighting off an indictment. Then when the indictment arrives, there is no money left for lawyers, which adds to the pressure to “cooperate.” If Trump were a fighting man, he would pardon Cohen, Manafort, and Stone, reimburse them out of the Justice (sic) Department’s budget for their legal expenses, and have Mueller arrested for sedition and plotting to overthrow the duly elected President of the United States. This would be hypocritical as Trump himself is plotting to overthrow the duly elected president of Venezuela.

Mueller is not an agent of law. He is the agent of the military/security complex and the Democratic Party who intend to do away with Trump, because Trump positioned himself between them and their agendas.

The preposterous charge against Trump is that he, in league with Russian President Vladimir Putin somehow through computer hacking and backdoor deals stole the presidential election from Hillary Clinton. This is the fabrication known as “Russiagate.” The creation of this fabrication involves far more crimes than those of which Trump, Cohen, Manafort, and Stone are accused. “Russiagate” rests on a fake “dossier” paid for by the Democrats and perhaps the FBI that was used to mislead the FISA court in order to obtain permission to spy on the Trump team. This is a felony for which the officials responsible are not being charged. The spying failed to turn up any real evidence, and neither has Muller’s “investigation.” The charges against Cohen, Manafort, and Stone are unrelated to the election and are likely false and used as threats for the purpose of eliciting false testimony against Trump in exchange for dropping the charges.

Mueller’s tactics in his effort to frame the President of the United States are more despicable than the tactics to which the Gestapo stooped. Even worse, they are the tactics commonly in use today by US attorneys, and this evil has spread into state and local prosecutions. That prosecutors routinely behave in a way that once would have caused them to be dismissed from office shows the collapse of law and prosecutorial integrity in the United States.

The American and British media are as accommodating in the frameups as the German media was with the Nazi government. The Guardian, once an honest voice for the British working class, is now a propaganda sheet for British intelligence just as the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR are for the CIA and FBI. The US media has never been very good, but until the Clinton regime during which 90 percent of the media was concentrated in six corporate hands, there was more than one explanation.

Since Donald Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, the media has been allied with the military/security complex and the Democratic Party in an effort to deep-six Trump. As I expected would be the case, Trump had no idea how to staff a government that would have supported him against the Establishment. He has been blocked on every front from normalizing relations with Russia to establishing control over US borders to withdrawal from Syria. The latest line from the military/security complex and the presstitutes is that the US cannot withdraw its troops illegally occupying a rump section of Syria, because ISIS is resurgent in Syria and Iraq and will renew the war if US troops are withdrawn.

This is nonsense. As General Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said on television, it was a willful decision of the Obama regime to send ISIS to overthrow Assad once Russia and the UK Parliament blocked a US invasion. It is Russia and Syria who fought and defeated Washington’s proxy army known as ISIS. Washington is blocking Trump’s order to withdraw US troops, because Israel wants the US to renew the attack on Syria and to carry it into Iran. Israel and its American vassals must think that Russia is going to stand down and permit the destabilization of the Islamic world to proceed into the Russian Federation.

Once upon a time the media and the foreign policy community would have publicly examined these issues. Now the media reads out the script handed to them.

As for Roger Stone, the media’s instructions are to convict Stone in the public’s mind as a facilitator of the Trump/Putin theft of the US presidential election. The actual facts do not matter, and the facts will never emerge from the media or from Mueller’s “investigation.”

Published:2/2/2019 9:26:15 PM
[Markets] One Of The Biggest At-Home DNA Testing Companies Is Secretly Sharing Data With The FBI

Just one week ago, we warned that the government — helped by Congress (which adopted legislation allowing police to collect and test DNA immediately following arrests), President Trump (who signed the Rapid DNA Act into law), the courts (which have ruled that police can routinely take DNA samples from people who are arrested but not yet convicted of a crime), and local police agencies (which are chomping at the bit to acquire this new crime-fighting gadget) — was embarking on a diabolical campaign to create a nation of suspects predicated on a massive national DNA database.

As it turns out we were right, but we forgot one key spoke of the government's campaign to collect genetic information from as many individuals as possible: "innocent", commercial companies, who not only collect DNA from willing clients, but are also paid for it.

FamilyTreeDNA, one of the pioneers of the growing market for "at home", consumer genetic testing, confirmed a report from BuzzFeed that it has quietly granted the Federal Bureau of Investigation access to its vast trove of nearly 2 million genetic profiles.

While concerns about unrestricted access to genetic information gathered by testing companies had swelled since April, when police used a genealogy website to ensnare a suspect in the decades-old case of the Golden State Killer, that site, GEDmatch, was open-source, meaning police were able to upload crime-scene DNA data to the site without permission. However, the latest arrangement marks the first time a commercial testing company has voluntarily given law enforcement access to user data.

Worse, it did so secretly, without obtaining prior permission from its users.

The move is of significant concern to much more than just privacy-minded FamilyTreeDNA customers. As Bloomberg notes, one person sharing genetic information also exposes those to whom they are closely related. That’s how police caught the alleged Golden State Killer. And here is a stunning statistics - according to a 2018 study, only 2% of the population needs to have done a DNA test for virtually everyone’s genetic information to be represented in that data.

Thanks to its millions of customers, FamilyTreeDNA’s "cooperation" with the FBI more than doubles the amount of genetic data law enforcement already had access to through GEDmatch. According to BuzzFeed, and as confirmed by the company, on a case-by-case basis the company has agreed to test DNA samples for the FBI and upload profiles to its database, allowing law enforcement to see familial matches to crime-scene samples.

There is one caveat: FamilyTreeDNA said law enforcement may not freely browse genetic data but rather has access only to the same information any user might. Which of course, is ridiculous when the FBI has the same access as every single user.

Needless to say, the genealogy community has expressed dismay.

Last summer, FamilyTree DNA was among a list of consumer genetic testing companies that agreed to a suite of voluntary privacy guidelines, but as of Friday morning, it had been crossed off the list after it was revealed that the company had been lying all along.

“The deal between FamilyTreeDNA and the FBI is deeply flawed,” said John Verdi, vice president of policy at the Future of Privacy Forum, which maintains the list. “It’s out of line with industry best practices, it’s out of line with what leaders in the space do and it’s out of line with consumer expectations.”

Some in the field have begun arguing that a universal, government-controlled database may be better for privacy than allowing law enforcement to gain access to consumer information: after all what's the difference if the companies will simply hand over all the information secretly. At least this was the public will know that Uncle Sam - and who knows who else - will have access to one's genetic code.

FamilyTreeDNA said its lab has received “less than 10 samples” from the FBI. It also said it has worked with state and city police agencies in addition to the FBI to resolve cold cases.

“The genealogy community, their privacy and confidentiality has always been our top priority,” the company said - supposedly with a straight face - in an email response to questions submitted by Bloomberg.

And why would it tell the truth: just like search engines and social networks, where the user is the product, and all the information about the user is carefully collected, isolated and stored, then sold to the highest bidder, or quietly handed over to the government, consumer DNA testing has become a giant business: Ancestry.com and 23andMe Inc. alone have sold more than 15 million DNA kits. Concerns about an industry commitment to privacy could hamper the industry’s rapid growth.

To be sure, there are some fringe benefits - like authorities actually doing what they said they would do - since the arrest of the suspected Golden State Killer, more than a dozen other suspects have been apprehended using GEDmatch. By doubling the amount of data law enforcement have access to, those numbers are likely to rise. But at what cost?

“The real risk is not exposure of info but that an innocent person could be swept up in a criminal investigation because his or her cousin has taken a DNA test,’’ said Debbie Kennett, a British genealogist and author. “On the other hand, the more people in the databases and the closer the matches, the less chance there is that people will make mistakes.’’

And, of course, if every person's DNA is in one giant genetic database, there would be no mistakes. Now if only the risk of abuse of this information was also nil, then everything would be great. Alas, as Snowden revealed when he exposed the flagrant abuses at the NSA years ago, this will never be the case especially when the "objective and impartial" FBI is involved.

Last June we asked "Millions Trust Ancestry.com With Their Genetic Code: What Could Go Wrong?" Now we know.

Published:2/1/2019 5:19:01 PM
[World] [John K. Ross] Short Circuit: A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions

Inoperable fuzes, sweetened sugar beverages, and sexed cow semen.

Please enjoy the latest edition of Short Circuit, a weekly feature from the Institute for Justice.

Friends, the Short Circuit team has just released Episode 3 of Bound By Oath, our podcast on the 14th Amendment. Please do give it a listen. On this episode: the Supreme Court reduces the Privileges or Immunities Clause, the clause meant to do much of the heavy lifting protecting civil rights, to a practical nullity. For shame! Professors Randy Barnett and Chris Green to do the explicating. And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes a surprise appearance, time traveling back to 1873. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts or click here.

  • Brentwood, N.H. man purchases four military M67 fragmentation grenades with inoperable fuzes from undercover FBI agents. District court: To be a grenade, a device must contain not only explosive material but also a means of detonating that explosive material. Inoperable fuzes mean the man didn't buy grenades. First Circuit: Reversed. The grenades were explosive; they just needed new fuzes. Congress can't have meant for agents only to use fully functioning "weapons of war" in their sting operations.
  • Nineteen-year-old (or perhaps he's 20) impregnates 14-year-old in 2009, is sentenced to 16 years of probation. He seeks parental visitation rights; she tries to stop that from happening. Suit 1: State court won't stop it. Suit 2: Federal court won't stop it. Suit 3: State court won't stop it; he's been ordered to pay child support, and Massachusetts family courts were (at that time, anyway) authorized to adjudicate the parental rights of a parent convicted of statutory rape. Plus, the kid should be getting financial support from both parents. Suit 4: Federal district court won't stop it. First Circuit: Subject to exceptions that don't apply here, losing parties in state court don't get to re-litigate in federal trial courts.
  • Hoke County, N.C. officer knocks on door of home, threatens to break it down unless it's opened. It's opened. A voluntary knock-and-talk or a coercive, warrantless entry? Fourth Circuit: Other than threatening to knock down the door, the officer and federal agents were casual and nonhostile. No need to suppress the evidence.
  • A man is shot dead at a Wilson County, N.C. convenience store in 1976. Three alibis place Charles Ray Finch at a poker game when the shooting occurred, but a witness places Finch at the shooting and picks him out of a lineup. Finch is convicted. Fourth Circuit: We've now learned that the witness had cognitive and short-term-memory problems, that the lineup was unduly suggestive, that another witness was coerced, and that a host of forensic conclusions were wrong, so Finch's habeas claim—ordinarily time-barred—can go forward.
  • Two people crawl through a Goldsboro, N.C. McDonald's drive-thru window, demand money at gun point, throw cash drawers at employees, hit the manager with the gun, and make off with $1k. One perpetrator pleads guilty to robbery and the additional, distinct crime of using a firearm in connection with a crime of violence. Fourth Circuit (en banc, splitting 8–7): Alas, the statutory definition of "crime of violence" is unconstitutionally vague, given the Supreme Court's treatment of materially identical laws. Dissent: Courts should look to the underlying facts of the crime, rather than just the statutory language in a hypothetical case, to determine whether a crime is one of violence. Pistol whipping during a robbery clearly is. (Circuit-split watch: The Fourth joins the Fifth, Tenth, and D.C. Circuits but departs from the Eleventh Circuit in this holding. Moreover: SCOTUS will hear the Fifth Circuit case.)
  • Galveston, Tex. police get warrant to search drug suspect's house, seize any "ledgers" they might find. They seize a cell phone. Is a cell phone a ledger? Close enough, says the Fifth Circuit, so no need to suppress evidence from the phone (which helped convict him of pimping minors).
  • Texas inmate threatens guard, has his stuff taken away, gets put in solitary. Or maybe—as inmate alleges—guard was lying, retaliating against inmate. Inmate brings a hodgepodge of claims (to get out of solitary, over loss of his stuff, and more). Fifth Circuit: Almost none of which can go forward. But if the guard really took away the inmate's Bible (and books by mega-pastors like Joel Osteen), there needed to be a valid reason. The inmate's First Amendment claim should not have been dismissed.
  • "Sexed cow semen" is bull semen containing only X- or Y-chromosome-bearing sperm. It allows dairy farmers using artificial insemination to ensure they breed only female—and thus milk-bearing—cows. It's valuable stuff, and, until recently, the U.S. market was controlled by a monopolist whose technology worked by identifying sperm cells, electrically charging them, and then sorting them with magnets. But when an upstart hired one of the monopolist's ex-employees, she shared the monopolist's trade secrets. The upstart then began using a different, potentially faster method: individually vaporizing the unwanted sperm cells with a laser millions of times per second. The ensuing antitrust/patent infringement/breach of contract suit, culminating in a two-week trial, gave wins and losses to both sides. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit affirmed some of the monopolist's wins but also—in a complicated discussion of patent law featuring set theory, subscripted variables, and LSAT-esque diagrams—gave the upstart a second chance at invalidating the seminal patent claims.
  • Federal law prohibits any "unlawful user" of marijuana from possessing a firearm. "Unlawful user" is unconstitutionally vague, says criminal defendant who admits to smoking daily for the past decade. Perhaps in some hypothetical scenarios, says Seventh Circuit, but your conduct "undoubtedly falls within the obvious core" of the statute. As a consolation prize, however, the court "commend[s] everyone involved in the briefing and arguing of this case" (along with the district-court judges) for a job well done.
  • San Francisco requires that advertisements for "sugar-sweetened beverages" contain a warning, taking up 20 percent of the advertising space, that sugary drinks contribute to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. Unconstitutional compelled speech? The en banc Ninth Circuit unanimously agrees that it is, though they disagree vociferously as to why.
  • Pizza chain's website and app are incompatible with screen reading software, so blind man can't order online. A violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act? District court: No, the Act doesn't mention the internet, and the feds have failed to provide formal guidance on how it applies—despite promising to do so. Ninth Circuit: Reversed. The feds have said that websites must comply; there's no need for the gov't to produce a blueprint detailing how to do it.
  • Douglas County, Colo. officer tases man who has a rifle muzzle in his mouth and his thumb on the trigger. The gun goes off; the man dies. Can the man's parents sue the officer? No, they filed suit 27 days too late, says the Tenth Circuit; the deadline started running on the date they asked the coroner to reconsider her report, not when the amended report was released (over a year later).
  • There are a number of federal crimes—from fraud to robbery—that apply only to banks that are FDIC insured at the time of the crime. Inexplicably, and despite repeated warnings from federal courts, prosecutors routinely fail to produce direct evidence that a bank was FDIC insured at the time of the crime—the testimony of a single witness would do—and instead rely on circumstantial evidence that it was insured at some point before or after. Is enough finally enough? Eleventh Circuit (over a dissent): Although prosecutors are "cruisin' for a bruisin'," we won't bruise them today.
  • After seven years' imprisonment for rape, man is released after tests confirm that his DNA was not on the victim. Chatham County, Ga. DA declines to re-prosecute. Trial court dismisses indictment. And state lawmaker introduces bill to compensate the man $1.6 million for the wrongful conviction. But wait! The DA opposes the bill and (allegedly) falsely states that the man remains under indictment. Bill fails; man sues. Eleventh Circuit: The DA's defamation absolutely amounted to unconstitutional retaliation. But even so, qualified immunity. Concurrence: "My only comfort with this result is knowing that if another official in this circuit henceforth engages in conduct similar to [the DA's], he or she will not be entitled to hide behind the doctrine of qualified immunity."
  • And in en banc news, the Eleventh Circuit will reconsider its holding that an Alabama law enacting a statewide minimum wage of $7.25 that preempts a Birmingham minimum wage of $10.10 might violate equal protection. The now-vacated opinion declared: "Today, racism is no longer pledged from the portico of the capitol or exclaimed from the floor of the constitutional convention; it hides, abashed, cloaked beneath ostensibly neutral laws and legitimate bases, steering government power toward no less invidious ends."

Officials in Yorktown, Indiana want to bulldoze a small neighborhood with many long-time, elderly residents and replace it with: a tech firm, other businesses, and new residences. To bypass the state's eminent domain law, which bars seizing property for private projects, officials have strategically placed some public amenities in the plan. Sneaky! Sharon and Jerry Puckett's home, for instance, is scheduled to be replaced by "courtyard/games" and part of a new restaurant. The kicker: The town already owns enough property to build the development just 500 feet away. IJ has helped gather over 105,000 signatures on a petition opposing the plan, and in January residents presented the Town Council with the petition. But the project is still rolling along, so please do sign the petition if you're of a mind.

Published:2/1/2019 3:48:37 PM
[World] Matt Gaetz Rips Robert Mueller for Roger Stone Arrest Raid

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz blasted the FBI raid on the home of his fellow Floridian Roger Stone. 

Published:2/1/2019 11:20:04 AM
[Corruption] Obama’s FBI Ignored Lead That CHINA Had CLINTON EMAILS

An Epoch Times report confirmed a story first revealed by the Daily Caller and Fox News that the FBI ignored data that China had Hillary Clinton's emails

The post Obama’s FBI Ignored Lead That CHINA Had CLINTON EMAILS appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/1/2019 11:20:03 AM
[Corruption] Obama’s FBI Ignored Lead That CHINA Had CLINTON EMAILS

An Epoch Times report confirmed a story first revealed by the Daily Caller and Fox News that the FBI ignored data that China had Hillary Clinton's emails

The post Obama’s FBI Ignored Lead That CHINA Had CLINTON EMAILS appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/1/2019 11:20:03 AM
[Markets] New Evidence Destroys Adam Schiff's Trump Tower Conspiracy Theory

New evidence obtained by Senate investigators reveal that Donald Trump Jr. did not speak with his father from a blocked telephone number days ahead of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, as first reported by CNNcontradicting Democratic conspiracy theories.

Records provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee show the calls were between Trump Jr. and two of his business associates, the sources said, and appear to contradict Democrats' long-held suspicions that the blocked number was from then-candidate Donald Trump. -CNN

Democrats led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) have pointed to the blocked-number calls as evidence that President Trump himself had knowledge that his son, son-in-law Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with a Russian attorney who said she had dirt on Hillary Clinton. 

According to Schiff, "We wanted to get the phone records to determine, was Donald Trump talking to his son about this meeting," he told CNN last November. "It's an obvious investigative step, but one the Republicans were unwilling to take because they were afraid of where the evidence might lead."

California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) also pointed to the blocked calls in a Democratic report last year detailing the Senate Judiciary Committee's investigation of the Trump Tower meeting. "We also do not know who they told about this meeting, including whether they ever discussed it with Mr. Trump," wrote Feinstein - who noted that Trump Jr. placed three calls to the blocked numbers.

Schiff's report, however, states that the first call on June 6 was incoming, while CNN reports that the records provided to Congress do not indicate whether the blocked calls were incoming or outgoing. 

Democrats have long suggested that Trump Jr. lied to Congress and that President Trump has lied about whether he knew about the Trump Tower meeting before it happened. Trump claims he learned about it when the press began covering it in 2017, over a year after it took place. 

The Russian attorney at the Trump Tower meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya, met with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson hours before she met with Trump Jr. Also in attendance was Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin.

Hillary Clinton's campaign paid Fusion GPS to produce the "Steele dossier" used by the FBI to justify spying on the Trump campaign - and later leaked to the public to smear the President. Both Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin were working with Fusion GPS, however they claim the Trump Tower meeting was unrelated to their work with the opposition research firm.

Also working with Fusion GPS was Nellie Ohr, the wife of the former #4 official at the DOJ, Bruce Ohr. 

The Daily Caller's Chuck Ross notes the irony in CNN breaking the news regarding the blocked calls, given their sloppy and embarrassing reporting surrounding the matter: 

Ironically given CNN’s role in breaking the new story, the network has been behind other reporting about Trump Jr. and his Trump Tower conversations that have turned out to be false.

CNN reported in July 2018 former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was involved in a conversation in which Trump Jr. told his father that the meeting with Russians was going to take place. But on Aug. 22, 2018, Cohen adviser Lanny Davis acknowledged he was a source for the CNN article and that he was mistaken. He said Cohen did not know whether Trump Jr. told Trump about the meeting.

CNN also retracted a story Dec. 8, 2017, that falsely claimed Trump Jr. had received an email Sept. 4, 2016, that included a link to a WikiLeaks emails that had yet to be made public. It turned out the email was actually dated Sept. 14, 2016, a day after WikiLeaks had posted the emails. A person who Trump Jr. did not know sent him the email with a link to information that had already been made public. -Daily Caller

Published:2/1/2019 10:21:54 AM
[News] Graham Demands FBI Briefing On Roger Stone Raid

Senate Judiciary Chairman Graham sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday demanding the FBI brief the Committee on the pre-dawn raid of Roger Stone. In the letter, Chairman Lindsey Graham said he is “concerned about the manner in which the arrest was effectuated, especially the number of agents involved, the tactics employed” and if the FBI ...

The post Graham Demands FBI Briefing On Roger Stone Raid appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/31/2019 7:10:51 AM
[News] Graham Demands FBI Briefing On Roger Stone Raid

Senate Judiciary Chairman Graham sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday demanding the FBI brief the Committee on the pre-dawn raid of Roger Stone. In the letter, Chairman Lindsey Graham said he is “concerned about the manner in which the arrest was effectuated, especially the number of agents involved, the tactics employed” and if the FBI ...

The post Graham Demands FBI Briefing On Roger Stone Raid appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/31/2019 7:10:51 AM
[FBI] Mysteries of the Mueller probe, cont’d (Scott Johnson) Like Tucker Carlson, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham is unclear why the FBI sent a heavily armed battalion to arrest Roger Stone at his home in Fort Lauderdale. The AP reports that Senator Graham “wants a briefing from the FBI on the tactics it used last week” when it took Stone into custody. Senator Graham asked for the briefing in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray (copy below Published:1/31/2019 6:42:35 AM
[Politics] Mueller's Danse Macabre At Arrest of Stone Last week's arrest of Roger Stone at the behest of Special Counsel Robert Mueller incites me to recall Joseph Welch's famous question of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy at the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954: "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you no decency?" Sending 29 FBI agents in bullet-proof protective gear and brandishing submachine guns at 6 a.m. to the house where Mr. Stone who is 66 and does not own a firearm lives with his wife, two dogs, and three cats, to... Published:1/31/2019 4:14:43 AM
[Markets] Jackboots In The Morning: No One Is Spared From This American Nightmare

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

This is jackboots in the morning. This is an American nightmare that they would arrest somebody like this.”—Judge Andrew Napolitano

The American Police State does not discriminate.

Whatever dangerous practices you allow the government to carry out now—whether it’s in the name of national security or protecting America’s borders or making America great again—rest assured, these same practices can and will be used against you when the government decides to set its sights on you.

We’ve been having this same debate about the perils of government overreach for the past 50-plus years, and still we don’t seem to learn, or if we learn, we learn too late.

For too long now, the American people have allowed their personal prejudices and politics to cloud their judgment and render them incapable of seeing that the treatment being doled out by the government’s lethal enforcers has remained consistent, no matter the threat.

All of the excessive, abusive tactics employed by the government today—warrantless surveillance, stop and frisk searches, SWAT team raids, roadside strip searches, asset forfeiture schemes, private prisons, indefinite detention, militarized police, etc.—will eventually be meted out on the general populace.

At that point, when you find yourself in the government’s crosshairs, it will not matter whether your skin is black or yellow or brown or white; it will not matter whether you’re an immigrant or a citizen; it will not matter whether you’re rich or poor; it will not matter whether you’re Republican or Democrat; and it certainly won’t matter who you voted for in the last presidential election.

At that point—at the point you find yourself subjected to dehumanizing, demoralizing, thuggish behavior by government bureaucrats who are hyped up on the power of their badges and empowered to detain, search, interrogate, threaten and generally harass anyone they see fit—remember you were warned.

Take Roger Stone, one of President Trump’s longtime supporters, for example.

This is a guy accused of witness tampering, obstruction of justice and lying to Congress.

As far as we know, this guy is not the kingpin of a violent mob or drug-laundering scheme. He’s been charged with a political crime. So what does the FBI do? They send 29 heavily armed agents in 17 vehicles to carry out a SWAT-style raid on Stone’s Florida home just before dawn on Jan. 25, 2019.

As the Boston Herald reports:

“After his arraignment on witness tampering, obstruction and lying to Congress, a rattled Stone was quoted as saying 29 agents ‘pounded on the door,’ pointed automatic weapons at him and ‘terrorized’ his wife and dogs. Stone was taken away in handcuffs, the sixth associate of President Trump to be indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. All the charges have been related to either lying or tax evasion, with no evidence of so-called ‘collusion’ with Russia emerging to date.”

Overkill? Sure.

Yet another example of government overreach and brutality? Definitely.

But here’s the thing: while Tucker Carlson and Chris Christie and other Trump apologists appear shocked that law enforcement personnel would stage a military assault against “an unarmed 66-year-old man who has been charged with a nonviolent crime,” this is nothing new.

Indeed, this is blowback, one more vivid example of how the government’s short-sighted use of immoral, illegal and unconstitutional tactics become dangerous weapons turned against the American people.

To be clear, this Stone raid is far from the first time a SWAT team has been employed in non-violent scenarios.

Nationwide, SWAT teams routinely invade homes, break down doors, kill family pets (they always shoot the dogs first), damage furnishings, terrorize families, and wound or kill those unlucky enough to be present during a raid.

Payton, a 7-year-old black Labrador retriever, and 4-year-old Chase, also a black Lab, were shot and killed after a SWAT team mistakenly raided the mayor’s home while searching for drugs. Police shot Payton four times. Chase was shot twice, once from behind as he ran away. “My government blew through my doors and killed my dogs. They thought we were drug dealers, and we were treated as such. I don't think they really ever considered that we weren’t,” recalls Mayor Cheye Calvo, who described being handcuffed and interrogated for hours—wearing only underwear and socks—surrounded by the dogs’ carcasses and pools of the dogs’ blood.

SWAT teams have been employed to address an astonishingly trivial array of so-called criminal activity or mere community nuisances: angry dogs, domestic disputesimproper paperwork filed by an orchid farmer, and misdemeanor marijuana possession, to give a brief sampling. In some instances, SWAT teams are even employed, in full armament, to perform routine patrols.

If these raids are becoming increasingly common and widespread, you can chalk it up to the “make-work” philosophy, in which you assign at-times unnecessary jobs to individuals to keep them busy or employed. In this case, however, the make-work principle is being used to justify the use of sophisticated military equipment and, in the process, qualify for federal funding.

SWAT teams originated as specialized units dedicated to defusing extremely sensitive, dangerous situations. They were never meant to be used for routine police work such as serving a warrant.

Frequently justified as vital tools necessary to combat terrorism and deal with rare but extremely dangerous criminal situations, such as those involving hostages, SWAT teams—which first appeared on the scene in California in the 1960s—have now become intrinsic parts of federal and local law enforcement operations, thanks in large part to substantial federal assistance and the Pentagon’s 1033 military surplus recycling program, which allows the transfer of military equipment, weapons and training to local police for free or at sharp discounts.

Mind you, this is the same program that President Trump breathed new life into back in 2017.

As the role of paramilitary forces has expanded to include involvement in nondescript police work targeting nonviolent suspects, the mere presence of SWAT units has actually injected a level of danger and violence into police-citizen interactions that was not present as long as these interactions were handled by traditional civilian officers. 

There are few communities without a SWAT team today.

In 1980, there were roughly 3,000 SWAT team-style raids in the US.

Incredibly, that number has since grown to more than 80,000 SWAT team raids per year.

Where this becomes a problem of life and death for Americans is when these militarized SWAT teams are assigned to carry out routine law enforcement tasks.

No longer reserved exclusively for deadly situations, SWAT teams are now increasingly being deployed for relatively routine police matters such as serving a search warrant, with some SWAT teams being sent out as much as five times a day.

In the state of Maryland alone, 92 percent of 8200 SWAT missions were used to execute search or arrest warrants.

Police in both Baltimore and Dallas have used SWAT teams to bust up poker games.

A Connecticut SWAT team swarmed a bar suspected of serving alcohol to underage individuals.

In Arizona, a SWAT team was used to break up an alleged cockfighting ring.

An Atlanta SWAT team raided a music studio, allegedly out of a concern that it might have been involved in illegal music piracy.

A Minnesota SWAT team raided the wrong house in the middle of the night, handcuffed the three young children, held the mother on the floor at gunpoint, shot the family dog, and then “forced the handcuffed children to sit next to the carcass of their dead pet and bloody pet for more than an hour” while they searched the home.

A California SWAT team drove an armored Lenco Bearcat into Roger Serrato’s yard, surrounded his home with paramilitary troops wearing face masks, threw a fire-starting flashbang grenade into the house in order, then when Serrato appeared at a window, unarmed and wearing only his shorts, held him at bay with rifles. Serrato died of asphyxiation from being trapped in the flame-filled house. Incredibly, the father of four had done nothing wrong. The SWAT team had misidentified him as someone involved in a shooting.

And then there was the police officer who tripped and “accidentally” shot and killed Eurie Stamps, an unarmed grandfather of 12, who had been forced to lie facedown on the floor of his home at gunpoint while a SWAT team attempted to execute a search warrant against his stepson.

Equally outrageous was the four-hour SWAT team raid on a California high school, where students were locked down in classrooms, forced to urinate in overturned desks and generally terrorized by heavily armed, masked gunmen searching for possible weapons that were never found.

These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg.

What we are witnessing is an inversion of the police-civilian relationship.

Rather than compelling police officers to remain within constitutional bounds as servants of the people, ordinary Americans are being placed at the mercy of militarized police units.

This is what happens when paramilitary forces are used to conduct ordinary policing operations, such as executing warrants on nonviolent defendants.

Unfortunately, general incompetence, collateral damage (fatalities, property damage, etc.) and botched raids tend to go hand in hand with an overuse of paramilitary forces.

In some cases, officers misread the address on the warrant.

In others, they simply barge into the wrong house or even the wrong building.

In another subset of cases (such as the Department of Education raid on Anthony Wright’s home), police conduct a search of a building where the suspect no longer resides.

If you’re wondering why the Education Department needs a SWAT team, you’re not alone.

Among those federal agencies laying claim to their own law enforcement divisions are the State Department, Department of Education, Department of Energy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service, to name just a few. In fact, it says something about our reliance on the military that federal agencies having nothing whatsoever to do with national defense now see the need for their own paramilitary units.

SWAT teams have even on occasion conducted multiple, sequential raids on wrong addresses or executed search warrants despite the fact that the suspect is already in police custody. Police have also raided homes on the basis of mistaking the presence or scent of legal substances for drugs. Incredibly, these substances have included tomatoes, sunflowers, fish, elderberry bushes, kenaf plants, hibiscus, and ragweed.

As you can see, all too often, botched SWAT team raids have resulted in one tragedy after another for the residents with little consequences for law enforcement.

Unfortunately, judges tend to afford extreme levels of deference to police officers who have mistakenly killed innocent civilians but do not afford similar leniency to civilians who have injured police officers in acts of self-defense.

Even homeowners who mistake officers for robbers can be sentenced for assault or murder if they take defensive actions resulting in harm to police.

And as journalist Radley Balko shows in his in-depth study of police militarization, the shock-and-awe tactics utilized by many SWAT teams only increases the likelihood that someone will get hurt.

Drug warrants, for instance, are typically served by paramilitary units late at night or shortly before dawn. Unfortunately, to the unsuspecting homeowner—especially in cases involving mistaken identities or wrong addresses—a raid can appear to be nothing less than a violent home invasion, with armed intruders crashing through their door. The natural reaction would be to engage in self-defense. Yet such a defensive reaction on the part of a homeowner, particularly a gun owner, will spur officers to employ lethal force.

That’s exactly what happened to Jose Guerena, the young ex-Marine who was killed after a SWAT team kicked open the door of his Arizona home during a drug raid and opened fire. According to news reports, Guerena, 26 years old and the father of two young children, grabbed a gun in response to the forced invasion but never fired. In fact, the safety was still on his gun when he was killed. Police officers were not as restrained. The young Iraqi war veteran was allegedly fired upon 71 times. Guerena had no prior criminal record, and the police found nothing illegal in his home.

Aiyana Jones is dead because of a SWAT raid gone awry. The 7-year-old was killed after a Detroit SWAT team—searching for a suspect—launched a flash-bang grenade into her family’s apartment, broke through the door and opened fire, hitting the little girl who was asleep on the living room couch. The cops weren’t even in the right apartment.

Exhibiting a similar lack of basic concern for public safety, a Georgia SWAT team launched a flash-bang grenade into the house in which Baby Bou Bou, his three sisters and his parents were staying. The grenade landed in the 2-year-old’s crib, burning a hole in his chest and leaving him with scarring that a lifetime of surgeries will not be able to easily undo.

Alberto Sepulveda, 11, died from one “accidental” shotgun round to the back after a SWAT team raided his parents’ home.

The problems inherent in these situations are further compounded by the fact that SWAT teams are granted “no-knock” warrants at high rates such that the warrants themselves are rendered practically meaningless.

This sorry state of affairs is made even worse by U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have essentially done away with the need for a “no-knock” warrant altogether, giving the police authority to disregard the protections afforded American citizens by the Fourth Amendment.

In the process, Americans are rendered altogether helpless and terror-stricken as a result of these confrontations with the police.

Indeed, “terrorizing” is a mild term to describe the effect on those who survive such vigilante tactics. “It was terrible. It was the most frightening experience of my life. I thought it was a terrorist attack,” said 84-year-old Leona Goldberg, a victim of such a raid. 

Yet this type of “terrorizing” activity is characteristic of the culture that we have created.

If ever there were a time to de-militarize and de-weaponize local police forces, it’s now.

While we are now grappling with a power-hungry police state at the federal level, the militarization of domestic American law enforcement is largely the result of the militarization of local police forces, which are increasingly militaristic in their uniforms, weaponry, language, training, and tactics and have come to rely on SWAT teams in matters that once could have been satisfactorily performed by traditional civilian officers.

Yet American police forces were never supposed to be a branch of the military, nor were they meant to be private security forces for the reigning political faction.

Instead, they were intended to be an aggregation of countless local police units, composed of citizens like you and me that exist for a sole purpose: to serve and protect the citizens of each and every American community.

As a result of the increasing militarization of the police in recent years, however, the police now not only look like the military—with their foreboding uniforms and phalanx of lethal weapons—but they function like them, as well.

Thus, no more do we have a civilian force of peace officers entrusted with serving and protecting the American people.  Instead, today’s militarized law enforcement officials have shifted their allegiance from the citizenry to the state, acting preemptively to ward off any possible challenges to the government’s power, unrestrained by the boundaries of the Fourth Amendment.

As journalist Herman Schwartz observed, “The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official.”

Heavily armed police officers, the end product of the government—federal, local and state—and law enforcement agencies having merged, have become a “standing” or permanent army, composed of full-time professional soldiers who do not disband.

Yet these permanent armies are exactly what those who drafted the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights feared as tools used by despotic governments to wage war against its citizens.

This phenomenon we are experiencing with the police is what philosopher Abraham Kaplan referred to as the law of the instrument, which essentially says that to a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

In the scenario that has been playing out in recent years, we the citizenry have become the nails to be hammered by the government’s henchmen, a.k.a. its guns for hire, a.k.a. its standing army, a.k.a. the nation’s law enforcement agencies.

The problem, as one reporter rightly concluded, is “not that life has gotten that much more dangerous, it’s that authorities have chosen to respond to even innocent situations as if they were in a warzone.”

A study by a political scientist at Princeton University concludes that militarizing police and SWAT teams “provide no detectable benefits in terms of officer safety or violent crime reduction.”

The study, the first systematic analysis on the use and consequences of militarized force, reveals that “police militarization neither reduces rates of violent crime nor changes the number of officers assaulted or killed.”

In other words, warrior cops aren’t making us or themselves any safer.

Indeed, as I document in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, it is increasingly evident that militarized police armed with weapons of war who are empowered to carry out pre-dawn raids on our homes, shoot our pets, and terrorize our families have not made America any safer or freer.

The sticking point is not whether Americans must see eye-to-eye on the pressing issues of the day, but whether we can agree that no one should be treated in such a fashion by their own government.

Published:1/30/2019 10:49:33 PM
[In The News] Lindsey Graham Wants FBI Briefing On Roger Stone Raid

By Chuck Ross -

Lindsey Graham slams democrats for unethical behavior -4

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham is requesting an FBI briefing about the circumstances of a pre-dawn raid of Trump confidant Roger Stone’s home in Florida last Friday. “I am concerned about the manner in which the arrest was effectuated, especially the number of agents involved, the tactics employed, the ...

Lindsey Graham Wants FBI Briefing On Roger Stone Raid is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:1/30/2019 9:38:52 PM
[Markets] Belarus Prostitute Admits She Fabricated Trump-Russia Evidence Claim

A prostitute from Belarus who claimed to be the "missing link" that can provide secret evidence of a Trump-Russia connection now says that she fabricated her story in order to attract media attention, in an attempt to save her life while she was detained in Thailand.

27-year-old Anastasia Vashukevich, best known by the self-described "seductress" and "sex coach" Nasta Rybka, claimed to have recordings of Russian billionaire (and former FBI asset) Oleg Deripaska that would reveal a connection between Trump and Russia. 

"I am the only witness and the missing link in the connection between Russia and the U.S. elections - the long chain of Oleg Deripaska, Prikhodko, Manafort, and Trump," said Vashukevich in an Instagram broadcast last February while riding in the back of a thai police vehicle after her $600/head five-day sex training seminar was raided by authorities

After spending nearly a year in Thai prison freezing her kidneys off, Vashukevich was arrested by Russian police in mid-January after arriving in Moscow for a connecting flight to Minsk, Belarus. The Kremlin let her go her last week after she promised not to release further audio or video recordings of Deripaska. 

In an exclusive interview with CNN on Tuesday, Vashukevich said she was instructed by Russian security services not to talk about Deripaska, an ex-business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

"I had some talk when I was in Russian jail," she said. "And they explained to me very clear(ly) what should I do, what should I say and what I shouldn't say."

    Asked who explained that to her, Vashukevich said "Russian agents," adding, "They said to me, 'Don't touch Oleg Deripaska anymore.'" -CNN

    Now that she's free, perhaps in an effort to remain breathing, Vashukevih now says she fabricated the story about a Trump-Russia connection. 

    She told CNN from a Thai detention center last year that she witnessed meetings between Deripaska and at least three unnamed Americans. Now back in Moscow, she says the claims she made to the media were an attempt to get media attention to save her life. -CNN

    "I think it saved my life, how can I regret it? If journalists had not come at that time and that story had not come to the newspapers, maybe I would die [be dead by] now," she told CNN. Russian authorities have suggested that Vashukevich has forced women into prostitution, which could land her in jail for up to three years. 

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    A post shared by ????? ????? (@nastya_rybka.ru) on

    Vashukevich made headlines in January 2018 after Russian opposition leader Alexi Navalny broadcast footage from her Instagram account from an August 2016 yacht trip with Russian deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko and Deripaska. Navalny alleged that Deripaska had bribed Prikhodko, who is one of Russia's most influential senior officials.

    In a 25-minute Youtube video (Russian with subtitles), Navalny shows footage of Deripaska with Russian deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko on his yacht in Norway in August 2016. Based on that footage, he alleges that information about the Trump campaign must have passed between the two. -Quartz

    Navalny also asserted - with no proof - that Prikhodko and Deripaska may have been conduits between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign in 2016; a link which has proven elusive despite more than 18 months of counterintelligence operations, including surveillance of members of the Trump team. 

    It is suspected that Deripaska, thought to be a "backchannel" top Putin, brought Manafort's briefings with him. After a report by the Washington Post asserted Manafort's offer to provide the documents, Deripaska told CNN it was "fake news," while his spokesman told AP in an email "These scandalous and mendacious assumptions are driven by sensationalism and we totally refute these outrageous false allegations in the strongest possible way."

    Manafort allegedly offered Deripaska the private briefings on Jul. 7, 2016. The yacht trip allegedly took place over three days from Aug. 6. Less than two weeks later, Manafort resigned from the campaign under heavy scrutiny of his ties to pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs. Manafort has since been charged by special counsel Robert Mueller with twelve crimes, including a conspiracy against the United States. -Quartz

    Of note, after slapping Deripaska and three of his companies with harsh sanctions over 2016 Russian election meddling, the Trump administration said on Sunday lifted sanctions on two of the companies after Deripaska agreed to partially divest from them. 

    Under the agreement to lift sanctions, Deripaska has agreed to cut his direct and indirect share ownership below 50% in each company in a move designed to sever his control over the companies,  overhauling the boards of En+ and Rusal, and “committing to full transparency with Treasury by undertaking extensive, ongoing auditing, certification, and reporting requirements,” the department said in December when announcing its plans to remove the sanction. He will hold voting rights over just 35% of the company’s shares.

    "This action ensures that the majority of directors on the En+ and Rusal boards will be independent directors, including US and European persons, who have no business, professional, or family ties to Deripaska or any other specially designated individuals, and that independent US persons vote a significant bloc of the shares of En+,” the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said in a statement.

    Published:1/30/2019 8:38:56 PM
    [Politics] Lindsey Graham ORDERS FBI to answer TOUGH questions about arrest of Roger Stone!! Lindsey Graham went back to woke Lindsey status today by firing off a letter to FBI Director Wray about what happened with Roger Stone’s arrest. He also posted the letter here: I . . . Published:1/30/2019 7:37:53 PM
    [Politics] Lindsey Graham ORDERS FBI to answer TOUGH questions about arrest of Roger Stone!! Lindsey Graham went back to woke Lindsey status today by firing off a letter to FBI Director Wray about what happened with Roger Stone’s arrest. He also posted the letter here: I . . . Published:1/30/2019 7:37:53 PM
    [Politics] Chris Christie to Newsmax TV: FBI's Dramatic Stone Arrest Wasn't Necessary Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would not have ordered the FBI to conduct such a high-profile arrest of political consultant Roger Stone last week, he told Newsmax TV. Published:1/30/2019 7:09:30 PM
    [] I Didn't See This One Coming My sources in Chicago PD are telling me this is looking more and more like a hoax. https://t.co/JMr4Ki3UtC— Rafer Weigel (@RaferWeigel) January 30, 2019 To be clear. I am not accusing #JessieSmollett of lying. I?m saying #ChicagoPD and Chicago FBI... Published:1/30/2019 4:37:04 PM
    [Markets] FBI Arrests 2nd Chinese National For Stealing Trade Secrets From Apple

    Nothing puts a damper on trade talks like another indictment accusing a Chinese national of doing the exact thing (corporate espionage and stealing US trade secrets) that senior Trump Administration officials have been warning would be a deal-breaking for future negotiations.

    Days after the US filed a sweeping indictment against Huawei that included charges its engineers stole trade secrets from T-Mobile (allegations that were also the subject of a civil suit) and mere hours after the beginning of high level trade talks in Washington, NBC Bay Area reported that the FBI has arrested another Chinese national working for Apple's secretive self-driving car project - code-named "Project Titan" - for stealing trade secrets. That's the second such arrest in six months (readers can find our report on the earlier arrest, which happened in July, here).

    Apple

    Apple reportedly started investigating the employee, an engineer named Jizhong Chen, when his fellow employees observed him taking photos of their work space. He was later found to be in possession of thousands of files containing proprietary trade secret like diagrams and manuals and schematics. The investigation escalated when Apple learned that Chen had applied for a job at a Chinese autonomous vehicle company. He was arrested the day before he was set to leave for China.

    Apple began investigating Jizhong Chen when another employee reported seeing the engineer taking photographs in a sensitive work space, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed this week.

    Chen, according to the complaint, allowed Apple Global Security employees to search his personal computer, where they found thousands of files containing Apple’s intellectual property, including manuals, schematics, and diagrams. Security personnel also found on the computer about a hundred photographs taken inside an Apple building.

    Apple learned Chen recently applied for a job at a China-based autonomous vehicle company that is a direct competitor of Apple’s project, according to the complaint. A photo found on Chen’s computer, which Apple provided to the FBI, showed an assembly drawing of an Apple-designed wiring harness for an autonomous vehicle.

    Chen was arrested just one day before he was scheduled to fly to China, according to the complaint.

    Apple issued only a brief comment on the arrest, and the FBI declined to comment.

    "Apple takes confidentiality and the protection of our IP very seriously," the company said in a statement Tuesday.

    "We are working with authorities on this matter and are referring all questions to the FBI."

    The FBI declined to comment on the story.

    The report comes shortly after Apple laid off 200 employees from the project.

    While arrests like this one are, sadly, nothing new, one can't help but wonder if China's brazen theft of US trade secrets from Apple is also a "separate issue" from the trade talks - even though ceasing theft of IP is one of the Trump Administration's non-negotiable demands for any trade pact?

    Published:1/30/2019 12:37:08 PM
    [Political Cartoons] Public Enemy #1 – A.F. Branco Cartoon

    By A.F. Branco -

    The way Mueller had the FBI show up at Roger Stones home to arrest him was more like what you would see at a major drug bust. CNN was tipped off for full visual effect. Political Cartoon by A.F. Branco ©2019. See more Branco toons HERE Get his latest book, ...

    Public Enemy #1 – A.F. Branco Cartoon is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

    Published:1/30/2019 10:35:39 AM
    [FBI] Mysteries of the Mueller probe, cont’d (Scott Johnson) In his January 28 monologue on the arrest of Roger Stone at his home in Fort Lauderdale by a heavily armed battalion of the FBI, Tucker Carlson queried why the FBI did what it did (video below). FOX News has posted the text of the monologue under the heading “Roger Stone raid shows that CNN is no longer covering Robert Mueller. They’re working with him.” It’s a good question. A Published:1/30/2019 9:35:20 AM
    [FBI] Clapper at large (Scott Johnson) Like former Obama administration CIA Director John Brennan, former Obama administration Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied notoriously to Congress, yet he remains at large. He is not under indictment. The FBI has not sent a heavily armed battalion to raid his home and take him into custody in front of his friends at CNN. Clapper could certainly have been included in Rep. Devin Nunes’s list of those who Published:1/30/2019 8:06:55 AM
    [FBI] Mysteries of the Mueller probe (Scott Johnson) Certain impenetrable mysteries envelop the Mueller probe, including its charter. The media’s lack of curiosity about these mysteries is unsurprising, but it is inexcusably stupid. Andrew McCarthy’s Hill column on the indictment of Roger Stone last week takes up the mysteries of FISA warrant: In all four of the warrants the Justice Department and FBI sought to monitor Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, the purportedly “verified” applications outlined Russia’s hacking Published:1/30/2019 7:34:31 AM
    [Markets] $1 Billion China-Financed LA Skyscraper Complex Mysteriously Halts Construction

    One of the biggest real estate development projects in downtown Los Angeles has suddenly stopped, potentially as a result of the project's Chinese financing drying up - or an FBI investigation. The LA Times reports that Oceanwide Plaza, a $1 billion condominium/hotel/retail complex across the street from the Staples Center that is expected to be a key part of a revamped Figueroa Street, has stopped construction this month. 

    The property is being built by Oceanwide Holdings, a Beijing based publicly traded conglomerate that reported revenue of $2.37 billion in 2017. In a statement on Thursday, the company said that the delayis due to a re-capitalization of the project and that work should resume next month.

    Obviously, the fact that this is a Chinese-financed project has raised concerns that the construction halt more likely has something to do with Chinese government policies restricting the flow of money out of the country. These capital constraints that were put in place in 2016 sent shockwaves through numerous parts the real estate market in the United States and Canada, as Chinese citizens have looked for a way to get their money out of the country.

    At the same time, the FBI is also conducting a corruption probe at LA City Hall that is looking at possible kickbacks involving foreign real estate developers. According to the LA Times, "Federal agents have inquired about Oceanwide and other downtown development projects with foreign investors as they seek evidence of possible crimes including bribery, extortion, money laundering and kickbacks that could involve L.A. city officials and development executives."

    The company responded that "Oceanwide has no comment regarding any investigation-related matters. In an effort to prioritize construction activity, and while we restructure capital for the project, interior construction at Oceanwide Plaza is temporarily on hold.”

    The development was already underway and was expected to be finished this year. The three towers were set to house more than 500 luxury condos and are supposed to be 55 stories high. As they stand now, partially completed, they are now sitting open, exposed to the elements.

    The general manager of the city Department of Building and Safety, Frank Bush said: “They said they were stopping work on the project at this time, and had no further explanation. It doesn’t have anything to do with any corrections we’ve given them or anything like that. It wasn’t at our direction."

    Published:1/29/2019 11:02:21 PM
    [Markets] Progressives Helped Pave The Way For These "Russian Asset" Bernie Smears

    Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

    The other day I published an article saying we can expect to see more and more smear campaigns painting progressives as Kremlin agents and useful idiots of Putin as the 2020 election draws closer.

    Since the publication of that piece two things have happened: a report that Bernie Sanders is about to announce his 2020 presidential candidacy, and a sharp spike in centrist Democrats smearing him as a Kremlin agent.

    Take a gander at the following tweets for some examples:

    Here's where we can start: Why doesn't Bernie ever vote against Russia? Let's explore Tad Devine's connection with Manafort. Who helped Bernie hack into Hillary's data before the Iowa caucuses? Why did Bernie spend his honeymoon in Russia? https://t.co/y853IizKzq

    ?—?@ClistonBrown

    I’m flagging this spike not just because it’s an obnoxious trend we can expect to see used to as a murder weapon against any attempt to shift America’s corrupt political system even a single inch to the left, but also to point out the fact that American progressives have helped create this dynamic.

    Russiagate is pure narrative. Russia’s alleged interference in America’s elections and Trump’s alleged collusion with that interference have been treated with the same kind of intense, blanket news coverage and hawkish patriotic punditry that we saw in the wake of the September 11 attacks, except unlike 9/11 there are no dead bodies, no fallen buildings, nor indeed any actual, tangible sign that anything real happened at all. It’s an entire media class shrieking endlessly about a story that has no hard center that people can look at and see for themselves. It’s a crisis that is made entirely out of a narrative about a crisis.

    Since it has no basis in facts or reality, the only way to keep alive a crisis that is made of pure narrative is to keep feeding it with more narrative. Anyone who has helped do that is partly responsible for the frenzied, hysterical environment we now see before us in which a Bernie Sanders campaign which hasn’t even begun yet is already being undermined by completely baseless allegations of Kremlin collusion.

    Much of this frantic Russia hysteria has been created by the center, and also increasingly by Trump’s branch of the right wing as it strives to prove itself “tougher on Russia” than anyone else. But a lot of it has come from a leftish direction as well. Not so much from the proper leftists, the Marxists and the Greens (though their fervent opposition to right-wing governments does sometimes set them at odds with Russia in a way that can see them advancing similar narratives to the centrists), but from the more mainstream progressives who back Bernie Sanders but supported Hillary Clinton in the general election.

    The most high-profile of these progressives, ironically, is Sanders himself. Sanders has been shamelessly endorsing the establishment Russia narrative and feeding into the fact-free collusion conspiracy theory for two years now, using his large social media platforms and in his appearances on the mainstream media as well. His many, many promotions of Russiagate have been instrumental in seeding the idea on the left, which is partly why I now routinely have Sanders supporters arguing with me on social media in favor of the CIA/CNN Russia narrative.

    This doesn’t mean that Sanders “deserves” the Russia smears that are now being heaped upon him or whatever, but it does mean that he helped build an environment in which mainstream media reporters like Virginia Heffernancan publicly level deranged, hysterical accusations of Kremlin servitude at him without it getting tossed out of the office as a crackpot conspiracy theorist.

    Progressives helped create this environment, and this needs to be acknowledged and corrected by the American political left, because it will only be used against them.

    Another prominent voice which has been instrumental in marketing Russia hysteria to progressives and creating this toxic McCarthyite environment has been Cenk Uygur and his popular outlet The Young Turks. TYT has over four million subscribers on YouTube alone and exerts a tremendous amount of influence over the thinking of Americans who identify as progressive. The outlet isn’t all bad, and Uygur himself sometimes puts forward some very useful insights on the reality of oligarchy in America and mass media corruption, but they’ve also been aggressively foisting the establishment Russia narrative onto the political left for a long time, not just promulgating belief in it but harshly criticizing leftists who don’t.

    In May of 2017, for example, TYT aired a segment titled “Yes, The Russia Scandal Is Actually A Scandal” in which Uygur excoriated people on the left for refusing to subscribe to the CIA/CNN version of events without seeing hard evidence for them first. Not afraid to name names, he called out vocal Russiagate skeptic Michael Tracey, who was at the time a TYT reporter, mocking Tracey with his hands over his eyes yelling “I don’t see it! I don’t see it!” Tracey has since left TYT.

    There are many appalling examples of Cenk’s deranged facilitation of the longstanding agendas of the US intelligence community to subvert and isolate Russia, like when he and his TYT panel attacked Trump for holding an insufficiently aggressive nuclear posture toward Russia, suggesting that it was because the president is “in the pocket of another country.” Or the time he leveled an astonishingly sleazy McCarthyite insinuation at another Russiagate skeptic, Aaron Maté?, suggesting that his refusal to accept opaque US government assertions on faith may have been due to some fealty to the Kremlin.

    Uygur has been consistently wrong about Russiagate, predicting in March of 2017 that Trump would be out of office within six months as a result of the imaginary scandal, and recently posting an embarrassing fit of joy about the “bombshell” BuzzFeed report on the Robert Mueller investigation titled “Trump’s Done. Here is the Evidence.”, which was refuted hours later by Mueller himself.

    These are the minds who have helped bog down America’s progressive movement with stupid, self-defeating hawkish and McCarthyite narratives which suck all the oxygen out of the room for the advancement of progressive issues, and which are now being used with increasing frequency to attack not Trump and the right, but Bernie Sanders and the left. The consequences of their idiotic behavior will go increasingly mainstream in the long, long lead-up to the 2020 election, and it will do incalculable damage to progressive agendas, unless it is thoroughly excised from the movement and flushed down the toilet where it belongs.

    *  *  *

    Thanks for reading! My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish.

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    Published:1/29/2019 10:03:35 PM
    [Markets] Las Vegas Shooter Sought "Infamy" By Inflicting "Maximum Damage" According To FBI

    The deadliest shooting in US history was committed by a lone high-stakes gambler seeking to inflict "the maximum amount of damage" so that he could obtain "some form of infamy," according to Aaron Rouse, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Las Vegas office. 

    The agency's conclusion that 64-year-old Stephen Paddock acted alone and had no motive is unlikely to convince skeptics, who have postulated theories ranging from a gun deal gone south, to Islamic Terrorists, to a false flag staged by the government as part of a gun control agenda. 

    At odds with the FBI's "lone gunman" theory is a report of a woman wandering throughout the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Festival warning people they were about to die, around 45 minutes before Paddock opened fire on the crowd - killing 58 and injuring nearly 900. 

    There were also two cryptic emails Paddock sent to himself which have puzzled investigators and fueled the "gun deal gone wrong" theory. In an email sent from Paddock's Microsoft Live email account, "centralpark1@live.com" to "centralpark4804@gmail.com," Paddock wrote "try and ar before u buy. we have huge selection. located in the las vegas area." His "centralpark4804" account wrote back "we have a wide variety of optics and ammunition to try." Paddock emailed back "for a thrill try out bumpfire ar's with a 100 round magazine."

    According to a warrant, "Investigators believe these communications may have been related to the eventual attack that occurred at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas." 

    Still - aside from "infamy," Rouse says Paddock's motive remains a mystery despite months of study by agents and behavioral specialists. 

    Paddock, 64, was a retired postal service worker, accountant and real estate investor who owned rental properties and homes in Reno and in a retirement community more than an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, held a private pilot’s license and liked to gamble tens of thousands of dollars at a time playing high-stakes video poker.

    His bank robber father was once on the FBI Most Wanted list. His younger brother, Eric Paddock, called him the “king of microaggression” — narcissistic, detail-oriented and maybe bored enough with life to plan an attack that would make him famous.

    His ex-wife told investigators that he grew up with a single mom in a financially unstable home and he felt a need to be self-reliant. -AP

    Paddock was characterized by police as a loner with zero political or religious affiliations, and who began stockpiling weapons in the year leading up to the attack. He reportedly spent over $1.5 million in the two years before the shooting, and distanced himself from his girlfriend Marilou Danley (who he wired $150,000 to two weeks before the shooting). Following the shooting, Danley returned to the US and told authorities that Paddock told her he was sick and had a "chemical imbalance" according to his doctors. 

    Marilou Danley

    The night of the shooting, over 1,000 rounds were fired over an 11-minute period into the crowd of 22,000 country music fans. Some of the rifles were fitted with now-outlawed "bump stock" devices and high capacity magazines, while others had bipods and scopes. According to authorities, all of the guns had been legally purchased. Police found 23 rifles stren around Paddock's suite. 

    Las Vegas police closed their investigation last August, and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo declared the police work ended after hundreds of interviews and thousands of hours of investigative work. Lombardo vowed to never again speak Paddock’s name in public.

    A separate report made public in August involving the Federal Emergency Management Agency found that communications were snarled during and after the shooting. It said police, fire and medical responders were overwhelmed by 911 calls, false reports of other shootings at Las Vegas casinos, and the number of victims. -AP

    Paddock left no suicide note - just a paper with bullet-drop calculations according to reports

    Upon searching Paddock's Mesquite, NV home, police recovered approximately 18 firearms, ammonia nitrate, several pounds of the explosive tannerite, several rounds of ammunition, and "electronic devices" - while a "large quantity of ammunition and multiple firearms" were recovered from Paddock's Reno residence. 

    Paddock also reportedly attempted to buy a large quantity of tracer ammunition in the month prior to the attack, however the dealer he approached did not have any in stock. 

    While breaching Paddock's room at approximately 10:55 pm, an officer accidentally fired one round from his sidearm, reportedly not hitting anyone. Paddock, meanwhile, was found laying awkwardly over a rifle with what investigators reported to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

    Of note, investigators say there were 200 shots fired into the hallway through the door of Paddock's hotel room:

    Lastly, some have noted that Paddock's death certificate - made public in February, indicates his date of death as October 2the day after the shooting. 

    As the Baltimore Post Examiner noted last year: 

    • Why was Paddock’s autopsy conducted six days after the massacre and not sooner?
    • Why didn’t Clark County Coroner, John Fudenberg release Paddock’s autopsy report immediately when ordered by the judge to do so on January 30?
    • Why did it take so long to send Paddock’s brain to Stanford University Medical Center since the autopsy was performed on October 6 and SUMC state they did not receive it until November 27?
    • How can the coroner’s office make a monumental mistake and list the date of Paddock’s death as for Monday, Oct. 2, 2017 at 12 o’clock noon (1200 hours)?
    • Paddock is the worst mass shooter in American history and once again an official report from the authorities involved in the investigation indicates false information.
    • Did anybody even proofread the autopsy report at the coroner’s office before it was released or was it thrown together in haste because the coroner believed it would never be made public?

    And just like that, the largest mass shooting in US history remains unsolved.  

    Published:1/29/2019 1:29:39 PM
    [US News] ‘Disturbing as hell’: FBI can’t determine motive of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, closes investigation

    The FBI has reportedly closed its investigation of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock after not being able to determine his motive: FBI concludes its investigation into the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history without determining a motive. After nearly 16 months, the agency says it can't determine why gunman Stephen Paddock killed 58 people in […]

    The post ‘Disturbing as hell’: FBI can’t determine motive of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, closes investigation appeared first on twitchy.com.

    Published:1/29/2019 1:00:23 PM
    [Markets] Beijing Slams "Politically Motivated" Huawei Indictment

    Since the US successfully convinced Canada to arrest Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the telecoms giant's founder, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other US officials have insisted that the Huawei issue is "separate" from trade talks with China. But it's becoming increasingly clear that that's not really the case, and that the Chinese certainly don't agree.

    On Monday, the US filed a series of indictments against Huawei and Meng on allegations ranging from technology theft, to obstruction of justice to bank fraud, the latest step in the US's push to drive the telecoms giant and 5G leader out of Western markets - a campaign that has already yielded some success, given that New Zealand and Australia have already banned Huawei equipment and European countries including Germany and the Netherlands are considering similar steps.

    Huawei

    But in its response to the charges, which likely foreshadow an outright ban from US markets for Huawei and fellow Chinese telecoms giant ZTE, a spokesman in Beijing denied the charges against Huawei and blamed them on political motivations, the BBC reported. The denial from Beijing is ironic, considering that Huawei has countered accusations levied by the US that it cooperates with Chinese by insisting that it is independent from the state.

    At a briefing in Beijing, government spokesperson Geng Shuang said there were "political motivations" behind US attempts to "smear and suppress certain Chinese companies."

    "We urge them to treat Chinese enterprises in a fair and just way."

    The spokesman added that allegations of technology theft had already been settled back in 2014 during a civil case brought by T-Mobile, which had accused Huawei engineers of stealing 'Tappy', a robot designed by the company to mimicked the movements of human fingers to test phones.

    All told, the US laid out 23 charges against the company. During a press conference, FBI Director Wray said Huawei posed a dual threat against the US - both economic and national security-related.

    In a statement from the company, Huawei said it was "disappointed to learn of the charges brought against the company today," and added that it didn't commit "any of the asserted violations" and that it "is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng."

    Here's the full statement, courtesy of Bloomberg:

    "Huawei is disappointed to learn of the charges brought against the company today. After Ms. Meng’s arrest, the Company sought an opportunity to discuss the Eastern District of New York investigation with the Justice Department, but the request was rejected without explanation. The allegations in the Western District of Washington trade secret indictment were already the subject of a civil suit that was settled by the parties after a Seattle jury found neither damages nor willful and malicious conduct on the trade secret claim. The Company denies that it or its subsidiary or affiliate have committed any of the asserted violations of U.S. law set forth in each of the indictments, is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng, and believes the U.S. courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion."

    Hu Xijin, the editor of the English-language Communist Party mouthpiece the Global Times insinuated that the US's crackdown on Huawei has been motivated by the inability of US companies' to compete with Huawei's 5G network technology...

    ...Prompting hedge fund investors and noted China bear Kyle Bass to chortle about GT's portrayal of China as a victim.

    The charges against Huawei follow a series of indictments brought by the DOJ against alleged hackers and others accused of aiding Chinese intelligence services. Meanwhile, the US is expected to formally lodge an extradition request for Meng by the end of the month.

    Meanwhile, Huawei’s CFO “should not be a hostage” in Sino-U.S. relations, her lawyer said on Tuesday, after the United States announced criminal charges against herself and the Chinese firm just days before crunch trade talks with Beijing.

    Meng's lawyer Reid Weingarten, partner at Steptoe & Johnson, pointed to “complex” Sino-U.S. relations. "Our client, Sabrina Meng, should not be a pawn or a hostage in this relationship. Ms. Meng is an ethical and honorable businesswoman who has never spent a second of her life plotting to violate any U.S. law, including the Iranian sanctions."

    Though IP theft is one of the main allegations against Huawei, and also represents one of the biggest sticking points in the ongoing trade spat with Beijing, we imagine that this won't in any way impact the "very, very important" trade talks taking place in Washington this week.

    Published:1/29/2019 6:58:11 AM
    [CIA] Brennan brays again (Scott Johnson) Obama administration CIA Director John Brennan lied notoriously and repeatedly to Congress, yet he remains at large. He is not under indictment. The FBI has not sent an armed battalion to raid his home and take him into custody in front of his friends at CNN. Is there any dispute about Brennan’s lies? I don’t think so. Looking around for a summary of Brennan’s lies, I find Victor Davis Hanson’s Published:1/29/2019 6:58:10 AM
    [In The News] Federal Court Refused To Unseal Documents Justifying FBI Raid On Reported Clinton Foundation Whistleblower

    By Richard Pollock -

    A federal court is keeping documents justifying an FBI raid on a reportedly recognized whistleblower secret. Attorneys and whistleblower advocates say the court should disclose whether prosecutors told the judge that Dennis Cain was a whistleblower. Cain reportedly gave documents pertaining to the Clinton Foundation and Uranium One to a presidentially appointed watchdog ...

    Federal Court Refused To Unseal Documents Justifying FBI Raid On Reported Clinton Foundation Whistleblower is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

    Published:1/28/2019 4:14:13 AM
    [Markets] The End Of Russia's "Democratic Illusions" About America

    Authored by Stephen Cohen via The Nation,

    How Russiagate has impacted a vital struggle in Russia...

    For decades, Russia’s self-described “liberals” and “democrats” have touted the American political system as one their country should emulate. They have had abundant encouragement in this aspiration over the years from legions of American crusaders, who in the 1990s launched a large-scale, deeply intrusive, and ill-destined campaign to transform post-Communist Russia into a replica of American “democratic capitalism.” (See my bookFailed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia.) Some Russian liberals even favored NATO’s eastward expansion when it began in the late 1990s on the grounds that it would bring democratic values closer to Russia and protect their own political fortunes at home.

    Their many opponents on Russia’s political spectrum, self-described “patriotic nationalists,” have insisted that the country must look instead to its own historical traditions for its future development and, still more, that American democracy was not a system to be so uncritically emulated. Not infrequently, they characterize Russia’s democrats as “fifth columnists” whose primary loyalties are to the West, not their own country. Understandably, it is a highly fraught political debate and both sides have supporters in high places, from the Kremlin and other government offices to military and security agencies, as well as devout media outlets.

    In this regard, Russiagate allegations in the United States, which have grown from vague suspicions of Russian “meddling” in the 2016 presidential election to flat assertions that Putin’s Kremlin put Donald Trump in the White House, have seriously undermined Russian democrats and bolstered the arguments of their “patriotic” opponents. Americans, who may have been misled by their own media into thinking that Russia today is a heavily censored “autocracy” in which all information is controlled by the Kremlin, may be surprised to learn that many Russians, especially among the educated classes but not only, are well-informed about the Russiagate story and follow it with great interest. They get reasonably reliable information from Russian news broadcasts and TV talk shows; from direct cable and satellite access to Western broadcasts, including CNN; from translation sites that daily render scores of Western print news reports and commentaries into Russian (inosmi.ru being the most voluminous); and from the largely uncensored Internet.

    How many Russians believe that the Kremlin actually put Trump in the White House is less clear. Widespread skepticism is often expressed sardonically:

    If Putin can put his man in the White House, why can’t he put a mayor in my town who will have the garbage picked up?

    Others, who believe the allegation, often take some pleasure, or schadenfreude, from it, having grown resentful of US “meddling” in Russian political life for so many years. (In recent history, the remembered example is the Clinton administration’s very substantial efforts on behalf of President Boris Yeltsin’s reelection in 1996.)

    But what should interest us is how Russiagate allegations have tarnished America’s democratic reputation in Russia and thereby undermined the pro-American arguments of Russia’s liberal democrats, who were never a very potent political or electoral force and whose fortunes have already declined in recent years. Consider the following:

    • Russian democrats argue that their country’s elections are manipulated and unfair, including, but not only, those that put and kept Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.Patriotic nationalists” now reply that Russiagate rests on the allegation, widely reported and believed in the United States, that an American presidential election was successfully manipulated on behalf of the desired candidate and that the entire US electoral system may be vulnerable to manipulation.

    • Russian democrats protest that oligarchic and other money has corrupted Russian politics. Their opponents argue that special counsel Robert Mueller’s convictions and other indictments - in the cases of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, for example -prove that American political life is no less corrupt financially.

    • Going back to Soviet times and continuing today, a major complaint of Russian democrats has been the shadowy, malevolent role played by intelligence agencies, particularly the KGB and its successor organization. Patriotic nationalists point to disclosures that their US institutional counterparts, the CIA and FBI, played a secretive and major role in the origins of Russiagate allegations against Trump as a presidential candidate and since his inauguration.

    • Russian democratic dissidents have long protested, and been stifled by, varying degrees of official censorship. Their Russian opponents argue that campaigns now underway in the United States against “Russian disinformation” in the media are a form of American censorship.

    • Many Russians distrust their media, particularly “mainstream” state media. Their opponents retort that American mainstream media is no better, having undertaken a kind of “war” against President Trump and along the way having had to retract dozens of widely circulated stories. In this connection, we may wonder what Russian skeptics made of an astonishingly revealing statement by the media critic of The New York Times - an authoritative newspaper in Russia as well - on January 21 that the “ultimate prize” for leading American journalists is having “helped bring down a president.” By now, Americans may not be shocked by such a repudiation by the Times of its own professed mission and standards, but for Russian journalists, who have long looked to the paper as a model, the reaction was likely profound disillusionment.

    • Putin’s Russian democratic critics often protest his “imperial” foreign policies, so imagine how they interpreted this imperial statement by Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen on January 15: “Nations, like children, crave predictability. They need to know the rules. The United States is like a parent. Other countries look to it for guidance and to enforce the rules. Trump has utterly failed in that regard.” Any Russian with a medium-range memory is unlikely to miss this echo of the Soviet Union’s attitude toward the “children” it ruled. And yet, a columnist for The Washington Post - also an authoritative newspaper in Russia - emphasizes Trump’s failure to “enforce the [imperial] rules” as a Russiagate indictment.

    • Perhaps most Russians who are informed about Russiagate believe that all the various allegations against Trump are actually motivated by US elite opposition to his campaign promise to “cooperate with Russia.This means, as Russia’s “patriotic nationalists” have always argued, that Washington will never accept Russia as an equal great power in world affairs, no matter who rules Russia or how (whether Communist or anti-Communist, as is Putin). To this, Russia’s liberal democrats have yet to find a compelling answer.

    One Russian, however, who personifies biographically both that system’s recent democratic experiences and its nationalist traditions, has had a mostly unambiguous reaction to Russiagate. Despite US mainstream-media claims that Russian President Putin is “happy” with the “destabilization and chaos” caused by Russiagate in the United States, such consequences are incompatible with what has been Putin’s historical mission since coming to power almost 20 years ago: to rebuild Russia socially and economically after its post-Soviet collapse in the 1990s, and to achieve this through modernizing partnerships with democratic nations - from Europe to the United States - in a stable international environment. For this reason, Putin himself is unlikely to have plotted Russiagate or to have taken any real satisfaction from its woeful consequences.

    Which leaves us with an as-yet-unanswerable question. Eventually, Trump and Putin will leave office. But the consequences of Russiagate, both in America and in Russia, will not depart with them. What will be the subsequent, longer-term consequences for both countries and for relations between them? From today’s perspective, nothing good.

    Published:1/26/2019 10:13:21 PM
    [World] Alan Dershowitz: Roger Stone Arrest Was a Show to Get to Donald Trump

    Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said Saturday that there was "no reason" for former Trump adviser Roger Stone's dramatic arrest by the FBI.

    Published:1/26/2019 1:41:30 PM
    [News] Sarah Sanders: When Will The FBI Surround The Homes Of Hillary Clinton, James Comey, James Clapper?

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders had some questions of her own during her guest appearance on CNN this morning. “We’ll let the courts make the decision,” she said. “A bigger question is: If this is the standard, will the same standard apply to people like Hillary Clinton, James Comey and [James] Clapper?” Sarah’s question went completely over the ...

    The post Sarah Sanders: When Will The FBI Surround The Homes Of Hillary Clinton, James Comey, James Clapper? appeared first on Godfather Politics.

    Published:1/25/2019 6:09:17 PM
    [News] Sarah Sanders: When Will The FBI Surround The Homes Of Hillary Clinton, James Comey, James Clapper?

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders had some questions of her own during her guest appearance on CNN this morning. “We’ll let the courts make the decision,” she said. “A bigger question is: If this is the standard, will the same standard apply to people like Hillary Clinton, James Comey and [James] Clapper?” Sarah’s question went completely over the ...

    The post Sarah Sanders: When Will The FBI Surround The Homes Of Hillary Clinton, James Comey, James Clapper? appeared first on Godfather Politics.

    Published:1/25/2019 6:09:17 PM
    [US News] ‘Quote of the day’! Juanita Broaddrick guesses what the FBI would find if they ‘showed up at the Clintons at 4 a.m.’

    MIC DROP.

    The post ‘Quote of the day’! Juanita Broaddrick guesses what the FBI would find if they ‘showed up at the Clintons at 4 a.m.’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

    Published:1/25/2019 2:35:15 PM
    [Crime] Mueller Indicts Trump Associate Roger Stone — But NO Mention of Russia At All

    Trump associate Roger Stone was arrested by the FBI in a dawn raid and indicted on charges in connection with Mueller's witch hunt "Russia" investigation.

    The post Mueller Indicts Trump Associate Roger Stone — But NO Mention of Russia At All appeared first on Godfather Politics.

    Published:1/25/2019 1:05:03 PM
    [Crime] Mueller Indicts Trump Associate Roger Stone — But NO Mention of Russia At All

    Trump associate Roger Stone was arrested by the FBI in a dawn raid and indicted on charges in connection with Mueller's witch hunt "Russia" investigation.

    The post Mueller Indicts Trump Associate Roger Stone — But NO Mention of Russia At All appeared first on Godfather Politics.

    Published:1/25/2019 1:05:03 PM
    [Media] The MIC has been DROPPED! Sarah Sanders asks THE question on all our minds (except Lefties) after FBI raid on Roger Stone

    As Twitchy readers know, the FBI arrested Roger Stone early this morning while CNN cameras just happened to magically BE THERE  to film it all. And as they carted the guy who looks a little bit like the Penguin from the Batman comics away, most of us were wondering one thing … And Sarah Sanders […]

    The post The MIC has been DROPPED! Sarah Sanders asks THE question on all our minds (except Lefties) after FBI raid on Roger Stone appeared first on twitchy.com.

    Published:1/25/2019 12:35:10 PM
    [The Blog] How did CNN get tipped off to the FBI raid at Roger Stone’s house?

    Eyewitness.

    The post How did CNN get tipped off to the FBI raid at Roger Stone’s house? appeared first on Hot Air.

    Published:1/25/2019 11:05:12 AM
    [Markets] Video: Longtime Trump ally Roger Stone arrested in predawn FBI raid Video: Longtime Trump ally Roger Stone arrested in predawn FBI raid Published:1/25/2019 9:34:04 AM
    [Markets] Was CNN Tipped Off By FBI Ahead Of Stone Arrest?

    The pre-dawn arrest of former Trump adviser Roger Stone in connection with the Mueller investigation has many scratching their heads over how it went down. Not only did the FBI surprise Stone at 6am Friday morning with a knock on his door - as opposed to simply notifying his attorney and letting Stone turn himself in, but CNN was there to film the entire thing going down. 

    This begs the question; did the FBI tip off CNN ahead of Stone's dramatic takedown?

    Former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren certainly thought so on first take, tweeting: "CNN cameras were at the raid of Roger Stone…so FBI obviously tipped off CNN…even if you don’t like Stone, it is curious why Mueller’s office tipped off CNN instead of trying to quietly arrest Stone;quiet arrests are more likely to be safe to the FBI and the person arrested." 

    Others shared her sentiment: 

    CNN claims that they staked out Stone's house based on "unusual grand jury activity in Washington yesterday" along with other information.  

    Van Susteren, upon further reflection, acknowledged that there were others would could have tipped off CNN, including Stone himself. 

    Meanwhile, many are questioning the decision to conduct a "heavy raid" on Stone for lying to Congress, while others connected to the Trump campaign such as Paul Manafort have been allowed to simply turn themselves in. 

    Published:1/25/2019 8:34:51 AM
    [The Blog] So the FBI staged quite the show in arresting Roger Stone

    Funny how that worked out

    The post So the FBI staged quite the show in arresting Roger Stone appeared first on Hot Air.

    Published:1/25/2019 7:33:42 AM
    [Robert Mueller] Inside the Mueller probe (Scott Johnson) This morning brings news that Roger Stone has been charged in a seven-count indictment handed up by the grand jury in the Mueller probe: one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements and one count of witness tampering. Stone was arrested by the FBI in Fort Lauderdale this morning. The New York Times has just posted Mark Mazzetti’s story here (accessible here via Outline). I Published:1/25/2019 7:03:38 AM
    [US News] Roger Stone’s last Instagram post before his arrest by the FBI was a message in support of Donald Trump

    Roger Stone’s last Instagram post, which is time-stamped shortly before his arrest this morning in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, was a message in support of President Donald Trump: “Proud of my President @realdonaldtrump #maga” According to reports, the arrest this morning conducted by armed FBI agents “just after 6 am”: Breaking: The FBI has arrested Roger […]

    The post Roger Stone’s last Instagram post before his arrest by the FBI was a message in support of Donald Trump appeared first on twitchy.com.

    Published:1/25/2019 6:33:08 AM
    [Markets] Stocks Rally After Shrugging Off Trade Concerns, Dismal German Data

    It's a sea of green across global markets, which resumed their rally overnight with European stock and US equity futures following Asian peers higher, shrugging off softer numbers from tech giant Intel and weaker German IFO data, buoyed by strong earnings and optimism from some positive trade-related comments by U.S. officials ahead of next week’s meeting, while tech shares rallied. Gold and oil climbed, while the dollar hit session lows following news Trump advisor Roger Stone was arrested for witness tampering.

    European markets opened higher, led by automakers and tech stocks which rose 1.5% and 1%, respectively. Europe's STOXX 600 index hit its highest since Dec. 4, up 0.8% on the day.  Trade optimism received a fresh boost of optimism after Bloomberg reported that a Chinese delegation including deputy ministers will arrive in Washington on Monday to prepare for high-level trade talks led by Vice Premier Liu He.

    The euro gained even as German business sentiment measured by the IFO Survey fell for the 5th month in a row to 99.1 its weakest level in almost three years, while the expectations component tumbled to the lowest level since 2012; confirming a recession in Europe's biggest economy is closer than most expect; core European sovereign bonds stabilized after rallying for most of the week.

    On Thursday, the euro fell to its lowest in six weeks following Thursday’s European Central Bank meeting in which Mario Draghi painted an increasingly downbeat picture of the European economy.

    Europe's gains came as stocks rose overnight in Asia and the United States on the back of strong earnings from U.S. tech firms. The MSCI All-Country World Index was up 0.3% on the day, but the gauge was set to break a four-week winning streak as weak economic data and cautious soundings from central banks pulled the index half a percent down on the week. Chipmaker and software stocks led the way in Asia, shrugging off weaker 2019 forecasts from Intel, which fell in pre-market trading.

    Global stocks are poised for their first weekly drop of 2019, with investors questioning the validity of the post-Christmas rally as the earnings season rolls on. Traders are grasping at straws for hints at progress on trade ahead of discussions next week in Washington, while also assessing the economic impact of the 35-day government shutdown that’s hampering the normal flow of official data: “I’m reasonably positive,” Axel Merk, chief investment officer at Merk Investments LLC in San Francisco, told Bloomberg TV. “I don’t think we have an imminent recession which is usually one of the key ingredients to a real bear market, but it’s prudent to diversify.”

    Markets reversed losses from earlier in the week even though according to the latest Reuters polls of hundreds of economists from around the world, a synchronized global economic slowdown is underway and any escalation in the U.S.-China trade war would trigger a sharper downturn, and despite a downgrade of US stocks to Neutral by Citi.

    Offsetting the economic gloom, in a note to clients, UBS Global Wealth Management’s CIO Mark Haefele said that rhetoric on U.S.-China trade has become more positive, and that Beijing has taken steps to stimulate its economy.

    “While economic and earnings growth is slowing, we believe it is unlikely that growth will drop far below trend,” he said. “At the same time, there are reasons to be cautious about policymakers’ ability to follow through on their rhetoric.”

    Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will visit the United States on Jan. 30 and 31 for the next round of trade negotiations with Washington. The two sides are “miles and miles” from resolving trade issues but there is a fair chance they will get a deal, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Thursday.

    In US political news, President Trump said he wants a prorated down payment on the wall in any short-term government funding bill and that if Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer can reach an agreement on government funding, he would support it. However, US House Speaker Pelosi said the idea of including a down payment on wall is a non-starter and Democrats were said to not support any kind of border wall funds which was made clear to McConnell, while Pelosi was later reported to postpone a press conference concerning counter offer to President Trump.

    In central bank news, ECB dove Benoit Coeure said he sees a lot of political uncertainty and that economic slowdown is a surprise to the ECB, adds jury still out on how persistent slowdown will be and that rate guidance may have to be adjusted at some point. While, ECB’s Villeroy (Dovish) stated they remain committed to keeping interest rates low and ECB will probably downgrade the GDP forecast in March. Finally ECB’s Vasiliauskas (Hawkish) stated that there is no reason to change ECB guidance at the moment.

    In currencies, the dollar fell 0.2%, hitting session lows shortly after news that Trump advisor Roger Stone had been arrested by the FBI. The euro rebounded 0.36% at $1.1345, recovering from a six-week low hit in the wake of ECB President Mario Draghi’s downbeat comments on Thursday. The ECB’s post-meeting statement for the first time since April 2017 alluded to "downside risks" to growth.

    The British pound was also higher, rising 0.2 percent to $1.3076 after brushing a two-month high of $1.3140, lifted after The Sun reported on Thursday that Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party has privately decided to back May’s Brexit deal next week if it includes a clear time limit to the Irish backstop.

    10-year U.S. Treasurys yields were slightly higher at 2.729% after dropping to a one-week low as pessimism over global growth supported safe-haven government debt.

    In commodities, Brent (-0.1%) and WTI (+0.2%) prices are mixed and off of session highs, just under USD 62/bbl and USD 54/bbl respectively; in spite of yesterday’s unexpected EIA crude inventory build of 7.97mln vs. Exp. -0.042mln draw. Elsewhere, Russia was China’s largest crude oil supplier for December and 2018; with Russia being the largest crude supplier to China for the third year in a row. Gold (+0.3%) is marginally higher on the weakness in dollar, in spite of the positive risk sentiment reducing safe haven demand for the yellow metal. Copper prices are benefiting from market sentiment, whilst palladium has lost over 8% since reaching a high of just under USD 1400/oz last week.

    Today's publication of durable goods orders and new home sales is postponed by government shutdown. AbbVie and Colgate-Palmolive are reporting earnings.

    Market Snapshot

    • S&P 500 futures up 0.6% to 2,650.75
    • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.7% to 358.16
    • MXAP up 1% to 154.44
    • MXAPJ up 1.2% to 503.03
    • Nikkei up 1% to 20,773.56
    • Topix up 0.9% to 1,566.10
    • Hang Seng Index up 1.7% to 27,569.19
    • Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 2,601.72
    • Sensex down 0.6% to 35,985.79
    • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.7% to 5,905.61
    • Kospi up 1.5% to 2,177.73
    • German 10Y yield rose 0.8 bps to 0.188%
    • Euro up 0.2% to $1.1330
    • Italian 10Y yield fell 9.1 bps to 2.303%
    • Spanish 10Y yield fell 2.0 bps to 1.22%
    • Brent futures little changed at $61.13/bbl
    • Gold spot up 0.2% to $1,283.61
    • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.2% to 96.43

    Top Overnight News

    • A Chinese delegation including deputy ministers will arrive in Washington on Monday to prepare for high-level trade talks led by Vice Premier Liu He, according to people briefed on the matter
    • Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. and China are eager to end their trade war, but the outcome will hinge on whether Beijing will deepen economic reforms and further open up its markets. “We’re miles and miles from getting a resolution,” he said in an interview on CNBC on Thursday
    • U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond warned that leaving the European Union without a deal would betray voters who were promised a “more prosperous future” if they chose Brexit. EU ties itself in knots on Irish border amid Brexit tension
    • Senators began a new effort to end the 34-day partial government shutdown after blocking two rival spending bills. The White House signaled President Donald Trump was open to a plan to reopen agencies for three weeks, but at a price
    • The Greek parliament’s historic vote on the agreement with the Republic of Macedonia over the latter’s name, was pushed to Friday, with not enough time for all listed lawmakers to speak Thursday
    • Oil rose for a third day as a deepening crisis in Venezuela that threatens to complicate OPEC’s task of balancing world oil supplies outweighed a surprise jump in U.S. crude inventories
    • Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said threats of jail for bankers are just a bluff and the real weapon to improve behavior is hitting pay packets
    • U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond suggested he could quit the government in protest if the U.K. plunges out of the European Union with no-deal in nine weeks’ time
    • Benoit Coeure and Francois Villeroy de Galhau -- two of the top contenders to become the next ECB president -- said they don’t know if the institution will be able to raise interest rates this year

    A jubilant tone was observed across the Asia-Pac majors heading into the weekend, which followed the mostly positive performance of their global peers amid firmer US PMI data and a dovish tone from the ECB. ASX 200 (+0.7%) and Nikkei 225 (+1.0%) were buoyed by broad gains across the sectors and with Japanese exporters supported by favourable currency flows, although not all was rosy as healthcare lagged in Australia and steep losses in AMP Capital. Elsewhere, Hang Seng (+1.6%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.4%) advanced as the 2nd phase of the PBoC’s RRR cut took effect and with outperformance seen in tech names including Tencent after regulators approved 2 of the Co.’s mobile phone games. However, gains in the mainland were initially capped after the PBoC‘s continued inaction resulted to a net weekly drain of CNY 770bln, in which it cited high liquidity levels due to the RRR cut. Finally, 10yr JGBs remained close to this week’s best levels after the prior day’s extended gains and with the BoJ also present in the market for government bonds with 5yr-10yr maturities, although prices have slightly eased with demand for bonds subdued by the risk appetite.

    Top Asian News

    • Goldman, Morgan Stanley Are Said to Ask to Cancel Jardine Trades
    • Sinopec Says It Lost $688m on ‘Misjudged’ Oil Prices
    • It’s Happy Friday Mode for Asia Traders as Stock Rally Lives On
    • Yuan- Free FX Strategies for Betting on China. Or Against It

    Major European indices are in the green [Euro Stoxx 50 +1.1%], the FTSE 100 (+0.4%) is the underperforming index given the impact of yesterday’s dovish ECB, alongside overnight sterling strength following reports that the DUP may agree to PM may’s deal if the Irish backstop has a time limit. The index is also weighed on by poor performance in Vodafone (-2.2%) who missed on their Q3 service revenue. Sectors are in the green, with underperformance in telecom names given the aforementioned earnings from Vodafone. Other notable movers include Telia (-3.3%) who are at the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after the Co. missed on Q4 revenue and adjusted EBITDA. Similarly, Givaudan (-3.3%) are near the bottom of the Stoxx 600 following a miss on Q4 revenue and adjusted EBITA.

    Top European News

    • ECB Presidential Contenders Wary on Chance of 2019 Rate Hike
    • German Business Confidence Deteriorates Amid Heightened Risks
    • Maersk Ready to Move Ahead With Drilling Unit IPO, CEO Says
    • EU Ties Itself in Knots on Irish Border Amid Brexit Tension
    • Russia Central Bank to Boost FX Buying as Ruble Steadies

    In FX, the Dollar and overall index retraced some of yesterday’s trade and ECB-induced gains in which DXY reached highs just shy of 96.700. The index fell back below its 50 DMA at 96.549 and through the 96.500 level to currently hover nearer the bottom of a 96.300-530 range, with a 96.680 Fib also keeping the upside capped. Meanwhile, the US government shutdown is set to notch its 35th day after the US Senate blocked two competing proposals (although this was expected) and as a result today’s US building permits, durable goods and new home sales data will be postponed.

    • EUR – Staging a recovery from post-ECB lows, when EUR/USD briefly lost the 1.1300 handle. Back above the level now, the single currency was largely unreactive to unsurprising narratives from ECB’s Coeure and Villeroy, while the release of an overall downbeat German ifo survey and downgrades in the ECB SPF also did little to wobble the Euro. EUR/USD now close to the top of a 1.1300-50 range ahead of a Fib level at 1.1351. In terms of option expiries, the pair sees EUR 1.96bln scattered around 1.1300-25, EUR 1.5bln between 1.1350-60 and EUR 2.8bln between 1.1375-1.1400.
    • CAD – Rising oil prices and an easing buck sent USD/CAD back below its 50 DMA at 1.3350 to an intraday low of 1.3311 ahead of the psychological 1.3300 level with reported bids around the figure. A marginal pullback in energy sent USD/CAD back up to around the middle of a 1.3311-3361 band ahead of the Canadian budget balance release later today.
    • GBP –Tumultuous day for the Pound after a Sun article provided Cable with the fuel to sky rocket past the 1.3100 handle to a high just shy of 1.3140, well above the December low of 1.2477. The article reported that PM’s coalition party, the DUP, are willing to back her Brexit deal if the Premier can get an expiry date to the backstop, though is widely expected to be rejected by the EC. Nonetheless, the idea of unity in the government aided the Pound to set fresh yearly highs vs. the buck. However, Cable has pared back most of the overnight gains, albeit holding just above its 200 DMA (1.3055-60) and closer to the bottom of 1.3057-3139 parameters.
    • JPY – Choppy session thus far, but overall back on a decline amid the broad upturn in risk appetite around the market after USD/JPY rose above its 30 DMA at 109.79 to reach intraday highs of 109.91 (vs. low of 109.52) ahead of USD 1.2bln of option expiries at the 110.00 strike for the NY cut.

    In commodities, Brent (-0.1%) and WTI (+0.2%) prices are mixed and off of session highs, just under USD 62/bbl and USD 54/bbl respectively; in spite of yesterday’s unexpected EIA crude inventory build of 7.97mln vs. Exp. -0.042mln draw. Elsewhere, Russia was China’s largest crude oil supplier for December and 2018; with Russia being the largest crude supplier to China for the third year in a row. Looking ahead we have the Baker Hughes rig count, where last week total rigs decreased by 25 to 1050. Gold (+0.3%) is marginally higher on the weakness in dollar, in spite of the positive risk sentiment reducing safe haven demand for the yellow metal. Copper prices are benefiting from market sentiment, whilst palladium has lost over 8% since reaching a high of just under USD 1400/oz last week.

    US Event Calendar

    • 8:30am: Durable goods orders data postponed by govt shutdown
    • 10am: New home sales data postponed by govt shutdown

    DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

    As I finish this off I’m on the earliest train out of Davos and back to Zurich before travelling home. We had a DB drinks reception for our clients last night and one said to me that in 11 years of coming here the best advice would be to trade in the opposite direction to the main theme of the conference over the next 12 months. If you believe that then you should trade if favour of a return to globalisation trends in 2019 as the conference was generally concerned about its immediate path. Our CEO overheard this and said that on the main panel he was on, the head of the WTO was the contrarian. He said that 2019 will end up being around the lowest tariff year on record and an improvement on 2018. Clearly this relies on China and US either sorting out their differences or at least announcing a truce. However, it’s a reminder that although global trade has come off the peak, tariffs are still historically low outside of the main dispute. Personally, I think globalisation is in reverse but whether it’s a soft landing or not depends on policy. All to play for.

    Back to the real (financial) world and yesterday lived up to the billing of being a busy day in markets with much weaker-than-expected European PMIs initially setting the tone. Draghi and the ECB then played for time - given March is where they get their latest staff forecasts - but acknowledged that risks were now to the downside. Elsewhere, Wilbur Ross downplayed expectations that a US-China trade deal is any closer, US jobless claims hit the lowest since around the time man first walked on the moon, and it was also a day where the government shutdown looked likely to continue for some time yet, even if there have been overnight attempts to find a deal to temporarily open government. So plenty to discuss.

    However, by the end of play the main US equity indices hadn’t moved much as the S&P 500 eked out a +0.14% gain while the DOW dropped -0.09%. More positively, tech stocks rallied with the NASDAQ up +0.68%. The Philadelphia Semiconductor index advanced +5.73% on the back of strong earnings from Texas Instruments, Lam Research, and Xilinx. The STOXX 600 pared gains of as much as +0.49%, heading into negative territory after the ECB before closing +0.22%. Rates fell across the continent, as 10y Bunds and OATs finished -4.4bps and -5.0bps lower. BTPs outperformed, with yields down -9.3bps, to 2.66% and to the lowest level since last July. Treasuries rallied as well, with 10-year yields ending -2.5bps lower while the dollar rallied +0.45%.

    The euro experienced sharp moves amid the data and ECB meeting. First, the single currency weakened around -0.44% following the soft PMI data (details below). It then held its level around 1.1340 as the ECB policy statement kept policy unchanged, which maintained forward guidance (“interest rates to remain at their present levels at least through the summer”) and said reinvestments will continue for an extended time beyond the first rate hike.

    The euro then took another leg lower to 1.1307 after Draghi said the risks to the outlook have “moved to the downside.” However, this shift was ultimately viewed as somewhat incremental and the euro retraced all its moves to return to flat on the session as the press conference continued. Draghi confirmed that the Council decision was unanimous on changing the outlook but that the Council “didn’t discuss policy implications”. There was apparently “unanimity” among the council supporting the view that the “likelihood of recession is low”, but DB’s Mark Wall thinks the Governing Council is divided on the outlook, between one camp who expect uncertainties (Brexit, trade, etc.) to be resolved positively and another who is more worried about European domestic demand. The tension between these two views will probably not be resolved until the ECB publishes new staff forecast at its March meeting. Mark’s full thoughts are available here.

    On other policy questions, there was also no decision made on TLTRO, although it was mentioned by several officials and clearly talked about, while the positive side effects were talked up by Draghi later on. That perhaps leaves the option open for March but didn’t provide any insight beyond that. The issue of negative rates and their impact on banks was also posed to Draghi, however, it was mostly a repeat of the line he used in December. Draghi specifically said that “we have to see how the continuation of negative rates will affect this balance” in response to a question on if the ECB would have to do something about it. Again a non-committal answer.

    As highlighted earlier, in the midst of Draghi speaking, headlines also hit the wires from across the pond and specifically comments from US Trade Secretary Ross. He said that the US and China were “miles and miles” away from a resolution, which caused a kneejerk reaction in markets but then followed by saying that there is a “fair chance” that the two countries would arrive at a trade deal. He also added that it was “unlikely” that next week’s meetings between the two sides would result in a final solution. Crystal clear then. Later on, Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow said that President Trump was optimistic about talks with China, so no shortage of noise on the trade front.

    President Trump himself tweeted later in the session about the ongoing government shutdown, saying “We will not Cave!” and escalating the tension. The senate voted on two bills to reopen government, but neither received enough support to pass. Overnight, the debate has seemingly moved on as to whether government could reopen for three weeks if Mr Trump received a down payment for the wall. Pelosi has already poured cold water on the idea but it perhaps shows that negotiations aren’t completely breaking down. In the background, the Washington Post reported that White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has asked all executive departments and agencies for lists of their highest-impact programs which could be negatively affected if the shutdown continues into March or April. Probably always good to prepare for the worst, but such a long shutdown, if realised, would have serious implications for the US economy.

    In Asia this morning, technology stocks are leading markets higher, with the Nikkei (+1.06%), Hang Seng (+1,34%), Shanghai Comp (+0.57%) and Kospi (+1.49%) all moving upwards. Other significant news overnight has come from the UK, where sterling rose 0.5% against the dollar to its highest level in over two months, after the Sun reported that the DUP would be prepared to back Prime Minister May’s Brexit deal if there were a time limit to the Irish backstop. The news comes ahead of Tuesday’s debate in the House of Commons, where Parliament will have the opportunity to vote on a variety of amendments put forward by MPs to May’s Brexit plan.

    Back to the details of the PMIs, which actually ended up requiring a bit of digging through such was the disparity between sectors and countries. However, the bottom line is that momentum is certainly weaker. The composite reading for the Euro Area for instance came in at 50.7 compared to expectations for 51.4. That’s also down 0.4pts from the soft December reading and is the lowest now since July 2013. The data is also consistent with GDP growth of just +0.1% qoq, which paints downside risks to the consensus forecast for 2019 growth of around 1.3% (DB 1.2%). In terms of sectors, manufacturing slumped more, by 0.9pts to 50.5 (vs. 51.4 expected) while the services reading fell 0.4pts to 50.8 (vs. 51.5 expected). As you can see though both were much softer than expected.

    What was interesting was the split between Germany and France. In France the services reading tumbled further by 1.5pts to 47.5 (vs. 50.5 expected) and to the lowest in nearly 5 years. The manufacturing reading bounced back in contrast to 51.2 (vs. 50.0 expected) from 49.7, however, the extent of the drop in the services reading left the composite at 47.9 versus 48.7 in December. So rather worryingly there was little sign of a rebound after recent protests. In Germany the pain was reserved for the manufacturing sector, which tumbled to 49.9 from 51.5. That’s the first sub-50 reading since November 2014. The services reading did, however, rise 1.4pts to 53.1, which left the composite at 52.1 and up 0.5pts from December. Our economists also highlight that the implied non-core PMI numbers aren’t pretty with the implied non-core composite down 1pt equally, shared by the manufacturing and services sectors. Manufacturing PMIs for Italy and Spain will print next Friday alongside the final readings across the globe.

    The associated statement with the PMIs highlighted “ongoing auto sector weakness, Brexit worries, trade wars and the protests in France” as reasons dampening growth in both sectors but also that the survey responses “indicate that a deeper malaise has set in at the start of the year” and that “companies are concerned about a wider economic slowdown gathering momentum, with rising political and economic uncertainty increasingly affecting risk appetite and demand”. With the manufacturing reading for the Euro Area and Germany now down in 12 of the last 13 months, a quick refresh of our equity versus PMI regression analysis shows that the STOXX and DAX are still around 14% and 17% ‘cheap’ respectively and that implied PMIs are actually more like 46.0 for the Euro Area and 43.7 for Germany based on equity markets. France looks 16% ‘cheap’ by the same measure. So despite the decline in PMIs, equity markets have oversold by this basic measure in Europe. However, for there to be a sustainable rebound, the PMIs need to find a base. Something they have struggled to do for over a year now.

    In the US, initial jobless claims fell to 199k, the lowest level since 1969, as the US labour market continues to strengthen. Continuing claims fell from 1,737k to 1,713k, near the cyclical and multi-decade lows. The US PMIs, while not as significant as the European vintages, showed some improvement with the manufacturing index up to 54.9 from 53.8. The services reading fell 0.2pts to 54.2, while the composite print ticked up to 54.5 from 54.4. The Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing index rose to 5 from 3, though the anecdotal details suggested some concerns over both tariffs and the government shutdown. Altogether, the PMIs and KC Fed index did not move the needle for our expectations of next Friday’s ISM manufacturing report.

    Finally, the day ahead will feature the January IFO survey in Germany this morning along with the January CBI reported sales survey in the UK. The US session is meant to feature the December durable and capital goods orders data, as well as the January new home sales print, however, the government shutdown will delay that once more. The earnings calendar features AbbVie and Colgate-Palmolive, as well as Ericsson in Europe.

    Published:1/25/2019 6:33:08 AM
    [Markets] Big Tech Merging With Big Brother Is A Big Problem

    Authored by David Samuels, Excerpted from Wired.com,

    A FRIEND OF mine, who runs a large television production company in the car-mad city of Los Angeles, recently noticed that his intern, an aspiring filmmaker from the People’s Republic of China, was walking to work.

    WHEN HE OFFERED to arrange a swifter mode of transportation, she declined. When he asked why, she explained that she “needed the steps” on her Fitbit to sign in to her social media accounts. If she fell below the right number of steps, it would lower her health and fitness rating, which is part of her social rating, which is monitored by the government. A low social rating could prevent her from working or traveling abroad.

    China’s social rating system, which was announced by the ruling Communist Party in 2014, will soon be a fact of life for many more Chinese.

    By 2020, if the Party’s plan holds, every footstep, keystroke, like, dislike, social media contact, and posting tracked by the state will affect one’s social rating.

    Personal “creditworthiness” or “trustworthiness” points will be used to reward and punish individuals and companies by granting or denying them access to public services like health care, travel, and employment, according to a plan released last year by the municipal government of Beijing. High-scoring individuals will find themselves in a “green channel,” where they can more easily access social opportunities, while those who take actions that are disapproved of by the state will be “unable to move a step.”

    Big Brother is an emerging reality in China. Yet in the West, at least, the threat of government surveillance systems being integrated with the existing corporate surveillance capacities of big-data companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon into one gigantic all-seeing eye appears to trouble very few people—even as countries like Venezuela have been quick to copy the Chinese model.

    Still, it can’t happen here, right? We are iPhone owners and Amazon Prime members, not vassals of a one-party state. We are canny consumers who know that Facebook is tracking our interactions and Google is selling us stuff.

    Yet it seems to me there is little reason to imagine that the people who run large technology companies have any vested interest in allowing pre-digital folkways to interfere with their 21st-century engineering and business models, any more than 19th-century robber barons showed any particular regard for laws or people that got in the way of their railroads and steel trusts.

    Nor is there much reason to imagine that the technologists who run our giant consumer-data monopolies have any better idea of the future they're building than the rest of us do.

    Facebook, Google, and other big-data monopolists already hoover up behavioral markers and cues on a scale and with a frequency that few of us understand. They then analyze, package, and sell that data to their partners.

    A glimpse into the inner workings of the global trade in personal data was provided in early December in a 250-page report released by a British parliamentary committee that included hundreds of emails between high-level Facebook executives. Among other things, it showed how the company engineered sneaky ways to obtain continually updated SMS and call data from Android phones. In response, Facebook claimed that users must "opt-in" for the company to gain access to their texts and calls.

    The machines and systems that the techno-monopolists have built are changing us faster than they or we understand. The scale of this change is so vast and systemic that we simple humans can’t do the math—perhaps in part because of the way that incessant smartphone use has affected our ability to pay attention to anything longer than 140 or 280 characters.

    As the idea of a “right to privacy,” for example, starts to seem hopelessly old-fashioned and impractical in the face of ever-more-invasive data systems—whose eyes and ears, i.e., our smartphones, follow us everywhere—so has our belief that other individual rights, like freedom of speech, are somehow sacred.

    Being wired together with billions of other humans in vast networks mediated by thinking machines is not an experience that humans have enjoyed before. The best guides we have to this emerging reality may be failed 20th-century totalitarian experiments and science fiction. More on that a little later.

    The speed at which individual-rights-and-privacy-based social arrangements collapse is likely to depend on how fast Big Tech and the American national security apparatus consummate a relationship that has been growing ever closer for the past decade. While US surveillance agencies do not have regular real-time access to the gigantic amounts of data collected by the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon—as far as we know, anyway—there is both anecdotal and hard evidence to suggest that the once-distant planets of consumer Big Tech and American surveillance agencies are fast merging into a single corporate-bureaucratic life-world, whose potential for tracking, sorting, gas-lighting, manipulating, and censoring citizens may result in a softer version of China’s Big Brother.

    These troubling trends are accelerating in part because Big Tech is increasingly beholden to Washington, which has little incentive to kill the golden goose that is filling its tax and political coffers. One of the leading corporate spenders on lobbying services in Washington, DC, in 2017 was Google’s parent company, Alphabet, which, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, spent more than $18 million. Lobbying Congress and government helps tech companies like Google win large government contracts. Perhaps more importantly, it serves as a shield against attempts to regulate their wildly lucrative businesses.

    If anything, measuring the flood of tech dollars pouring into Washington, DC, law firms, lobbying outfits, and think tanks radically understates Big Tech’s influence inside the Beltway. By buying The Washington Post, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos took direct control of Washington’s hometown newspaper. In locating one of Amazon’s two new headquarters in nearby Northern Virginia, Bezos made the company a major employer in the area—with 25,000 jobs to offer.

    Who will get those jobs? Last year, Amazon Web Services announced the opening of the new AWS Secret Region, the result of a 10-year, $600 million contract the company won from the CIA in 2014. This made Amazon the sole provider of cloud services across “the full range of data classifications, including Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret,” according to an Amazon corporate press release.

    Once the CIA’s Amazon-administered self-contained servers were up and running, the NSA was quick to follow suit, announcing its own integrated big-data project. Last year the agency moved most of its data into a new classified computing environment known as the Intelligence Community GovCloud, an integrated “big data fusion environment,” as the news site NextGov described it, that allows government analysts to “connect the dots” across all available data sources, whether classified or not.

    The creation of IC GovCloud should send a chill up the spine of anyone who understands how powerful these systems can be and how inherently resistant they are to traditional forms of oversight, whose own track record can be charitably described as poor.

    Amazon’s IC GovCloud was quickly countered by Microsoft’s secure version of its Azure Government cloud service, tailored for the use of 17 US intelligence agencies. Amazon and Microsoft are both expected to be major bidders for the Pentagon’s secure cloud system, the Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative—JEDI—a winner-take-all contract that will likely be worth at least $10 billion.

    With so many pots of gold waiting at the end of the Washington, DC, rainbow, it seems like a small matter for tech companies to turn over our personal data—which legally speaking, is actually their data—to the spy agencies that guarantee their profits. This is the threat that is now emerging in plain sight. It is something we should reckon with now, before it’s too late.

    IN FACT, BIG tech and the surveillance agencies are already partners...

    ...

    THE FLIP SIDE of that paranoid vision of an evolving American surveillance state is the dream that the new systems of analyzing and distributing information may be forces for good, not evil. What if Google helped the CIA develop a system that helped filter out fake news, say, or a new Facebook algorithm helped the FBI identify potential school shooters before they massacred their classmates? If human beings are rational calculating engines, won’t filtering the information we receive lead to better decisions and make us better people?

    Such fond hopes have a long history. Progressive techno-optimism goes back to the origins of the computer itself, in the correspondence between Charles Babbage, the 19th-century English inventor who imagined the “difference engine”—the first theoretical model for modern computers—and Ada Lovelace, the brilliant futurist and daughter of the English Romantic poet Lord Byron.

    “The Analytical Engine,” Lovelace wrote, in one of her notes on Babbage’s work, “might act upon other things besides number, where objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine. Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.”

    This is a pretty good description of the principles of digitizing sound; it also eerily prefigures and predicts the extent to which so much of our personal information, even stuff we perceive of as having distinct natural properties, could be converted to zeros and ones.

    The Victorian techno-optimists who first envisioned the digital landscape we now inhabit imagined that thinking machines would be a force for harmony, rather than evil, capable of creating beautiful music and finding expressions for “fundamental relations” of any kind according to a strictly mathematical calculus.

    The idea that social engineering could help produce a more efficient and equitable society was echoed by early 20th-century American progressives. Unlike 19th- and early 20th-century European socialists, who championed the organic strength of local communities, early 20th-century American progressives like Herbert Croly and John Dewey put their faith in the rise of a new class of educated scientist-priests who would re-engineer society from the top down according to a strict utilitarian calculus.

    The lineage of these progressives—who are not identical with the “progressive” faction of today’s Democratic Party—runs from Woodrow Wilson to champions of New Deal bureaucracy like Franklin D. Roosevelt’s secretary of the interior, Harold Ickes. The 2008 election of Barack Obama, a well-credentialed technocrat who identified very strongly with the character of Spock from Star Trek, gave the old-time scientistic-progressive religion new currency on the left and ushered in a cozy relationship between the Democratic Party and billionaire techno-monopolists who had formerly fashioned themselves as government-skeptical libertarians.

    “Amazon does great things for huge amounts of people,” Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer told Kara Swisher of Recode in a recent interview, in which he also made approving pronouncements about Facebook and Google. “I go to my small tech companies and say, ‘How does Google treat you in New York?’ A lot of them say, ‘Much more fairly than we would have thought.’”

    Big Tech companies and executives are happy to return the favor by donating to their progressive friends, including Schumer.

    But the cozy relationship between mainstream Democrats and Silicon Valley hit a large-sized bump in November 2016, when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton—in part through his mastery of social media platforms like Twitter. Blaming the election result on Russian bots or secret deals with Putin betrayed a shock that what the left had regarded as their cultural property had been turned against them by a right-wing populist whose authoritarian leanings inspired fear and loathing among both the technocratic elite and the Democratic party base.

    Yet in the right hands, progressives continued to muse, information monopolies might be powerful tools for re-wiring societies malformed by racism, sexism, and transphobia. Thinking machines can be taught to filter out bad information and socially negative thoughts. Good algorithms, as opposed to whatever Google and Facebook are currently using, could censor neo-Nazis, purveyors of hate speech, Russian bots, and transphobes while discouraging voters from electing more Trumps.

    The crowdsourced wisdom of platforms like Twitter, powered by circles of mutually credentialing blue-checked “experts,” might mobilize a collective will to justice, which could then be enforced on retrograde institutions and individuals. The result might be a better social order, or as data scientist Emily Gorcenski put it, “revolution.”

    The dream of centralized control over monopolistic information providers can be put to more prosaic political uses, too—or so politicians confronted by a fractured and tumultuous digital media landscape must hope. In advance of next year’s elections for the European Parliament, which will take place in May, French President Emmanuel Macron signed a deal with Facebook in which officials of his government will meet regularly with Facebook executives to police “hate speech.”

    The program, which will continue through the May elections, apparently did little to discourage fuel riots by the "gilets jaunes," which have set Paris and other French cities ablaze, even as a claim that a change in Facebook's local news algorithm was responsible for the rioting was quickly picked up by French media figures close to Macron.

    At root, the utopian vision of AI-powered information monopolies programmed to advance the cause of social justice makes sense only when you imagine that humans and machines “think” in similar ways. Whether machines can “think,” or—to put it another way, whether people think like machines—is a question that has been hotly debated for the past five centuries. Those debates gave birth to modern liberal societies, whose foundational assumptions and guarantees are now being challenged by the rise of digital culture.

    ...

    THE ORIGIN OF the utilitarian social calculus and its foundational account of thinking as a form of computation is social contract theory. Not coincidentally, these accounts evolved during the last time western societies were massively impacted by a revolution in communications technology, namely the introduction of the printing press, which brought both the text of the Bible and the writings of small circles of Italian and German humanists to all of Europe. The spread of printing technologies was accompanied by the proliferation of the simple hand mirror, which allowed even ordinary individuals to gaze at a “true reflection” of their own faces, in much the same way that we use iPhones to take selfies.

    Nearly every area of human imagination and endeavor—from science to literature to painting and sculpture to architecture—was radically transformed by the double-meteor-like impact of the printing press and the hand mirror, which together helped give rise to scientific discoveries, great works of art, and new political ideas that continue to shape the way we think, live, and work.

    The printing press fractured the monopoly on worldly and spiritual knowledge long held by the Roman Catholic Church, bringing the discoveries of Erasmus and the polemics of Martin Luther to a broad audience and fueling the Protestant Reformation, which held that ordinary believers—individuals, who could read their own Bibles and see their own faces in their own mirrors—might have unmediated contact with God. What was once the province of the few became available to the many, and the old social order that had governed the lives of Europe for the better part of a millennium was largely demolished.

    In England, the broad diffusion of printing presses and mirrors led to the bloody and ultimately failed anti-monarchical revolution led by Oliver Cromwell. The Thirty Years’ War, fought between Catholic and Protestant believers and hired armies in Central and Eastern Europe, remains the single most destructive conflict, on a per capita basis, in European history, including the First and Second World Wars.

    The information revolution spurred by the advent of digital technologies may turn out to be even more powerful than the Gutenberg revolution; it is also likely to be bloody. Our inability to wrap our minds around a sweeping revolution in the way that information is gathered, analyzed, used, and controlled should scare us. It is in this context that both right- and left-leaning factions of the American elite appear to accept the merger of the US military and intelligence complex with Big Tech as a good thing, even as centralized control over information creates new vulnerabilities for rivals to exploit.

    The attempt to subject the American information space to some form of top-down, public-private control was in turn made possible—and perhaps, in the minds of many on both the right and the left, necessary—by the collapse of the 20th-century American institutional press. Only two decades ago, the social and political power of the institutional press was still so great that it was often called “the Fourth Estate”—a meaningful check on the power of government. The term is rarely used anymore, because the monopoly over the printed and spoken word that gave the press its power is now gone.

    Why? Because in an age in which every smartphone user has a printing press in their pocket, there is little premium in owning an actual, physical printing press. As a result, the value of “legacy” print brands has plummeted. Where the printed word was once a rare commodity, relative to the sum total of all the words that were written in manuscript form by someone, today nearly all the words that are being written anywhere are available somewhere online. What’s rare, and therefore worth money, are not printed words but fractions of our attention.

    The American media market today is dominated by Google and Facebook, large platforms that together control the attention of readers and therefore the lion’s share of online advertising. That’s why Facebook, probably the world’s premier publisher of fake news, was recently worth $426 billion, and Newsweek changed hands in 2010 for $1, and why many once-familiar magazine titles no longer exist in print at all.

    The operative, functional difference between today’s media and the American media of two decades ago is not the difference between old-school New York Times reporters and new-media bloggers who churn out opinionated “takes” from their desks. It is the difference between all of those media people, old and new, and programmers and executives at companies like Google and Facebook. A set of key social functions—communicating ideas and information—has been transferred from one set of companies, operating under one set of laws and values, to another, much more powerful set of companies, which operate under different laws and understand themselves in a different way.

    According to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, information service providers are protected from expensive libel lawsuits and other forms of risk that publishers face. Those protections allowed Google and Facebook to build their businesses at the expense of “old media” publishers, which in turn now find it increasingly difficult to pay for original reporting and writing.

    The media once actively promoted and amplified stories that a plurality or majority of Americans could regard as “true.” That has now been replaced by the creation and amplification of extremes. The overwhelming ugliness of our public discourse is not accidental; it is a feature of the game, which is structured and run for the profit of billionaire monopolists, and which encourages addictive use.

    The result has been the creation of a socially toxic vacuum at the heart of American democracy, from which information monopolists like Google and Facebook have sucked out all the profit, leaving their users ripe for top-down surveillance, manipulation, and control.

    TODAY, THE PRINTING press and the mirror have combined in the iPhone and other personal devices, which are networked together. Ten years from now, thanks to AI, those networks, and the entities that control them—government agencies, private corporations, or a union of both—may take on a life of their own.

    Perhaps the best way to foresee how this future may play out is to look back at how some of our most far-sighted science fiction writers have wrestled with the future that is now in front of us.

    ...

    Yet even classic 20th-century dystopias like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World or George Orwell’s 1984 tell us little about the dangers posed to free societies by the fusion of big data, social networks, consumer surveillance, and AI.

    Perhaps we are reading the wrong books.

    Instead of going back to Orwell for a sense of what a coming dystopia might look like, we might be better off reading We, which was written nearly a century ago by the Russian novelist Yevgeny Zamyatin. We is the diary of state mathematician D-503, whose experience of the highly disruptive emotion of love for I-330, a woman whose combination of black eyes, white skin, and black hair strike him as beautiful. This perception, which is also a feeling, draws him into a conspiracy against the centralized surveillance state.

    The Only State, where We takes places, is ruled by a highly advanced mathematics of happiness, administered by a combination of programmers and machines. While love has been eliminated from the Only State as inherently discriminatory and unjust, sex has not. According to the Lex Sexualis, the government sex code, “Each number has a right towards every other number as a sex object.” Citizens, or numbers, are issued ration books of pink sex tickets. Once both numbers sign the ticket, they are permitted to spend a “sex hour” together and lower the shades in their glass apartments.

    Zamyatin was prescient in imagining the operation and also the underlying moral and intellectual foundations of an advanced modern surveillance state run by engineers. And if 1984 explored the opposition between happiness and freedom, Zamyatin introduced a third term into the equation, which he believed to be more revolutionary and also more inherently human: beauty. The subjective human perception of beauty, Zamyatin argued, along lines that Liebniz and Searle might approve of, is innately human, and therefore not ultimately reconcilable with the logic of machines or with any utilitarian calculus of justice.

    ...

    Against a centralized surveillance state that imposes a motionless and false order and an illusory happiness in the name of a utilitarian calculus of “justice,” Basile concludes, Zamyatin envisages a different utopia: “In fact, only within the ‘here and now’ of beauty may the equation of happiness be considered fully verified.” Human beings will never stop seeking beauty, Zamyatin insists, because they are human. They will reject and destroy any attempt to reorder their desires according to the logic of machines.

    A national or global surveillance network that uses beneficent algorithms to reshape human thoughts and actions in ways that elites believe to be just or beneficial to all mankind is hardly the road to a new Eden. It’s the road to a prison camp. The question now—as in previous such moments—is how long it will take before we admit that the riddle of human existence is not the answer to an equation. It is something that we must each make for ourselves, continually, out of our own materials, in moments whose permanence is only a dream.

    Read the full, ominous report here...

    Published:1/24/2019 10:31:19 PM
    [1527778b-deff-5a1a-9caf-3885816e01ac] Gregg Jarrett: Testimony in Russia probe shows FBI and Justice Department misconduct in effort to hurt Trump Newly revealed testimony shows FBI and Justice Department officials committed serious abuses of power leading to the baseless investigatopion of President Trump. Published:1/24/2019 7:05:37 PM
    [Markets] Uncle Sam Wants Your DNA: The FBI's Diabolical Plan To Create A Nation Of Suspects

    Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

    “As more and more data flows from your body and brain to the smart machines via the biometric sensors, it will become easy for corporations and government agencies to know you, manipulate you, and make decisions on your behalf. Even more importantly, they could decipher the deep mechanisms of all bodies and brains, and thereby gain the power to engineer life. If we want to prevent a small elite from monopolising such godlike powers, and if we want to prevent humankind from splitting into biological castes, the key question is: who owns the data? Does the data about my DNA, my brain and my life belong to me, to the government, to a corporation, or to the human collective?”?Professor Yuval Noah Harari

    Uncle Sam wants you.

    Correction: Uncle Sam wants your DNA.

    Actually, if the government gets its hands on your DNA, they as good as have you in their clutches.

    Get ready, folks, because the government— helped along by Congress (which adopted legislation allowing police to collect and test DNA immediately following arrests), President Trump (who signed the Rapid DNA Act into law), the courts (which have ruled that police can routinely take DNA samples from people who are arrested but not yet convicted of a crime), and local police agencies (which are chomping at the bit to acquire this new crime-fighting gadget)—is embarking on a diabolical campaign to create a nation of suspects predicated on a massive national DNA database.

    As the New York Times reports:

    “The science-fiction future, in which police can swiftly identify robbers and murderers from discarded soda cans and cigarette butts, has arrived. In 2017, President Trump signed into law the Rapid DNA Act, which, starting this year, will enable approved police booking stations in several states to connect their Rapid DNA machines to Codis, the national DNA database. Genetic fingerprinting is set to become as routine as the old-fashioned kind.

    Referred to as “magic boxes,” these Rapid DNA machines - portable, about the size of a desktop printer, highly unregulated, far from fool-proof, and so fast that they can produce DNA profiles in less than two hours - allow police to go on fishing expeditions for any hint of possible misconduct using DNA samples.

    Journalist Heather Murphy explains:

    “As police agencies build out their local DNA databases, they are collecting DNA not only from people who have been charged with major crimes but also, increasingly, from people who are merely deemed suspicious, permanently linking their genetic identities to criminal databases.”

    Suspect Society, meet the American police state.

    Every dystopian sci-fi film we’ve ever seen is suddenly converging into this present moment in a dangerous trifecta between science, technology and a government that wants to be all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful.

    By tapping into your phone lines and cell phone communications, the government knows what you say.

    By uploading all of your emails, opening your mail, and reading your Facebook posts and text messages, the government knows what you write.

    By monitoring your movements with the use of license plate readers, surveillance cameras and other tracking devices, the government knows where you go.

    By churning through all of the detritus of your life—what you read, where you go, what you say—the government can predict what you will do.

    By mapping the synapses in your brain, scientists—and in turn, the government—will soon know what you remember.

    And by accessing your DNA, the government will soon know everything else about you that they don’t already know: your family chart, your ancestry, what you look like, your health history, your inclination to follow orders or chart your own course, etc.

    Of course, none of these technologies are foolproof.

    Nor are they immune from tampering, hacking or user bias.

    Nevertheless, they have become a convenient tool in the hands of government agents to render null and void the Constitution’s requirements of privacy and its prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures.

    Consequently, no longer are we “innocent until proven guilty” in the face of DNA evidence that places us at the scene of a crimebehavior sensing technology that interprets our body temperature and facial tics as suspicious, and government surveillance devices that cross-check our biometricslicense plates and DNA against a growing database of unsolved crimes and potential criminals.

    The government’s questionable acquisition and use of DNA to identify individuals and “solve” crimes has come under particular scrutiny in recent years.

    Until recently, the government was required to at least observe some basic restrictions on when, where and how it could access someone’s DNA. That has all been turned on its head by various U.S. Supreme Court rulings that pave the way for suspicionless searches and herald the loss of privacy on a cellular level.

    Certainly, it was difficult enough trying to protect our privacy in the wake of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling in Maryland v. King that likened DNA collection to photographing and fingerprinting suspects when they are booked, thereby allowing the government to take DNA samples from people merely “arrested” in connection with “serious” crimes.

    Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in Maryland v. King is worth reading not only for the history lesson on the Fourth Amendment but for its clear-sighted rebuke of the police state’s tendency to justify every encroachment on our freedoms as necessary for security.

    As Scalia noted:

    “Solving unsolved crimes is a noble objective, but it occupies a lower place in the American pantheon of noble objectives than the protection of our people from suspicionless law-enforcement searches… Make no mistake about it: As an entirely predictable consequence of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national DNA database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason. Today’s judgment will, to be sure, have the beneficial effect of solving more crimes; then again, so would the taking of DNA samples from anyone who flies on an airplane (surely the Transportation Security Administration needs to know the “identity” of the flying public), applies for a driver’s license, or attends a public school. Perhaps the construction of such a genetic panopticon is wise. But I doubt that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection.”

    The Court’s decision to let stand the Maryland Court of Appeals’ ruling in Raynor v. Maryland, which essentially determined that individuals do not have a right to privacy when it comes to their DNA, made Americans even more vulnerable to the government accessing, analyzing and storing their DNA without their knowledge or permission.

    Although Glenn Raynor, a suspected rapist, willingly agreed to be questioned by police, he refused to provide them with a DNA sample.

    No problem. Police simply swabbed the chair in which Raynor had been sitting and took what he refused to voluntarily provide.

    Raynor’s DNA was a match, and the suspect became a convict.

    As the dissenting opinion in Raynor for the Maryland Court of Appeals rightly warned, “a person desiring to keep her DNA profile private, must conduct her public affairs in a hermetically sealed hazmat suit.... The Majority’s holding means that a person can no longer vote, participate in a jury, or obtain a driver's license, without opening up his genetic material for state collection and codification.”

    Yet in refusing to hear the case, the U.S. Supreme Court gave its tacit approval for government agents to collect shed DNA, likening it to a person’s fingerprints or the color of their hair, eyes or skin.

    Whereas fingerprint technology created a watershed moment for police in their ability to “crack” a case, DNA technology is now being hailed by law enforcement agencies as the magic bullet in crime solving.

    It’s what police like to refer to a “modern fingerprint.”

    However, unlike a fingerprint, a DNA print reveals everything about “who we are, where we come from, and who we will be.”

    With such a powerful tool at their disposal, it was inevitable that the government’s collection of DNA would become a slippery slope toward government intrusion.

    All 50 states now maintain their own DNA databases, although the protocols for collection differ from state to state. Increasingly, many of the data from local databanks are being uploaded to CODIS (Combined DNA Index System), the FBI’s massive DNA database, which has become a de facto way to identify and track the American people from birth to death.

    Even hospitals have gotten in on the game by taking and storing newborn babies’ DNA, often without their parents’ knowledge or consent. It’s part of the government’s mandatory genetic screening of newborns. However, in many states, the DNA is stored indefinitely.

    What this means for those being born today is inclusion in a government database that contains intimate information about who they are, their ancestry, and what awaits them in the future, including their inclinations to be followers, leaders or troublemakers.

    For the rest of us, it’s just a matter of time before the government gets hold of our DNA, either through mandatory programs carried out in connection with law enforcement and corporate America, by warrantlessly accessing our familial DNA shared with geneological services such as Ancestry and 23andMe, or through the collection of our “shed” or “touch” DNA.

    All of those fascinating, geneological ancestral searches that allow you to trace your family tree can also be used against you and those you love. As law professor Elizabeth Joh explains, “When you upload your DNA, you’re potentially becoming a genetic informant on the rest of your family.”

    While much of the public debate, legislative efforts and legal challenges in recent years have focused on the protocols surrounding when police can legally collect a suspect’s DNA (with or without a search warrant and whether upon arrest or conviction), the question of how to handle “shed” or “touch” DNA has largely slipped through without much debate or opposition.

    Yet as scientist Leslie A. Pray notes:

    We all shed DNA, leaving traces of our identity practically everywhere we go. Forensic scientists use DNA left behind on cigarette butts, phones, handles, keyboards, cups, and numerous other objects, not to mention the genetic content found in drops of bodily fluid, like blood and semen. In fact, the garbage you leave for curbside pickup is a potential gold mine of this sort of material. All of this shed or so-called abandoned DNA is free for the taking by local police investigators hoping to crack unsolvable cases. Or, if the future scenario depicted at the beginning of this article is any indication, shed DNA is also free for inclusion in a secret universal DNA databank.

    What this means is that if you have the misfortune to leave your DNA traces anywhere a crime has been committed, you’ve already got a file somewhere in some state or federal database—albeit it may be a file without a name.

    As Forensic magazine reports, “As officers have become more aware of touch DNA’s potential, they are using it more and more. Unfortunately, some [police] have not been selective enough when they process crime scenes. Instead, they have processed anything and everything at the scene, submitting 150 or more samples for analysis.”

    Even old samples taken from crime scenes and “cold” cases are being unearthed and mined for their DNA profiles.

    Today, helped along by robotics and automation, DNA processing, analysis and reporting takes far less time and can bring forth all manner of information, right down to a person’s eye color and relatives. Incredibly, one company specializes in creating “mug shots” for police based on DNA samples from unknown “suspects” which are then compared to individuals with similar genetic profiles.

    If you haven’t yet connected the dots, let me point the way.

    Having already used surveillance technology to render the entire American populace potential suspects, DNA technology in the hands of government will complete our transition to a suspect society in which we are all merely waiting to be matched up with a crime.

    No longer can we consider ourselves innocent until proven guilty.

    Now we are all suspects in a DNA lineup until circumstances and science say otherwise.

    Of course, there will be those who point to DNA’s positive uses in criminal justice, such as in those instances where it is used to absolve someone on death row of a crime he didn’t commit, and there is no denying its beneficial purposes at times.

    However, as is the case with body camera footage and every other so-called technology that is hailed as a “check” on government abuses, in order for the average person—especially one convicted of a crime—to request and get access to DNA testing, they first have to embark on a costly, uphill legal battle through red tape and, even then, they are opposed at every turn by a government bureaucracy run by prosecutors, legislatures and law enforcement.

    What this amounts to is a scenario in which we have little to no defense of against charges of wrongdoing, especially when “convicted” by technology, and even less protection against the government sweeping up our DNA in much the same way it sweeps up our phone calls, emails and text messages.

    Yet if there are no limits to government officials being able to access your DNA and all that it says about you, then where do you draw the line?

    As technology makes it ever easier for the government to tap into our thoughts, our memories, our dreams, suddenly the landscape becomes that much more dystopian.

    With the entire governmental system shifting into a pre-crime mode aimed at detecting and pursuing those who “might” commit a crime before they have an inkling, let alone an opportunity, to do so, it’s not so far-fetched to imagine a scenario in which government agents (FBI, local police, etc.) target potential criminals based on their genetic disposition to be a “troublemaker” or their relationship to past dissenters.

    Equally disconcerting: if scientists can, using DNA, track salmon across hundreds of square miles of streams and rivers, how easy will it be for government agents to not only know everywhere we’ve been and how long we were at each place but collect our easily shed DNA and add it to the government’s already burgeoning database?

    As always there will be those voices—well-meaning, certainly—insisting that if you want to save the next girl from being raped, abducted or killed, then we need to give the government all the tools necessary to catch these criminals before they can commit their heinous crimes.

    If you care for someone, you’re particularly vulnerable to this line of reasoning. Of course we don’t want our wives butchered, our girlfriends raped, our daughters abducted and subjected to all manner of atrocities.

    But what about those cases in which the technology proved to be wrong, either through human error or tampering? It happens more often than we are told.

    For example, David Butler spent eight months in prison for a murder he didn’t commit after his DNA was allegedly found on the murder victim and surveillance camera footage placed him in the general area the murder took place. Conveniently, Butler’s DNA was on file after he had voluntarily submitted it during an investigation years earlier into a robbery at his mother’s home. The case seemed cut and dried to everyone but Butler who proclaimed his innocence. Except that the DNA evidence and surveillance footage was wrong: Butler was innocent.

    Moreover, despite the insistence by government agents that DNA is infallible, New York Times reporter Andrew Pollack makes a clear and convincing case that DNA evidence can, in fact, be fabricated. Israeli scientists “fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva,” stated Pollack. “They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person.”

    The danger, warns scientist Dan Frumkin, is that crime scenes can be engineered with fabricated DNA.

    Now if you happen to be the kind of person who trusts the government implicitly and refuses to believe it would ever do anything illegal or immoral, then the prospect of government officials—police, especially—using fake DNA samples to influence the outcome of a case might seem outlandish.

    Yet as history shows - and as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People - the probability of our government acting in a way that is not only illegal but immoral becomes less a question of “if” and more a question of “when.”

    Published:1/23/2019 11:27:34 PM
    [Markets] The Wall Street Journal: FBI agents say government shutdown is hindering investigations The partial government shutdown is hindering federal law-enforcement operations, the organization representing thousands of FBI special agents said, limiting investigators’ ability to pay confidential informants and witnesses at criminal trials and curbing the bureau’s ability to hire translators, paralegals and other support personnel.
    Published:1/22/2019 5:19:00 PM
    [Markets] FBI Agents Complain That Shutdown Is Hampering Sex Trafficking, Gang Investigations

    Is the government shutdown also Vladimir Putin's fault? Following a report released Tuesday by the FBI, we imagine it's only a matter of time before Rachel Maddow and the rest of the left-leaning cable news commentariat come to that conclusion.

    In a 72-page-report and press conference, the FBI on Tuesday attacked President Trump for allowing the shutdown (now in its 32nd day) to continue and listed all the ways that break in funding for the DOJ (where the FBI is housed) has impacted its ongoing investigations (though it's worth noting that, according to media reports, the Mueller probe has continued without much of an interruption). Among the functions that have been interrupted: The US attorneys office can't issue grand jury subpoenas, ongoing investigations have been interrupted, agents are struggling to work without pay, and efforts to thwart sex trafficking and anti-gang operations (including investigations into MS-13) have been delayed.

    The FBI shared a summary of these gripes in a twitter thread published by the FBI Agents Association. Though agents are still working cases, some agents are struggling to feed their families. All of this culminated with Agents Association President Tom O'Connor calling on lawmakers to pass legislation funding the FBI.

    Some of the anecdotes included in the report offered more details about how the shutdown has affected investigations.

    "I have been working a long-term MS-13 investigation for over three years," one FBI employee wrote in the report. "We have indicted 23 MS-13 gang members for racketeering, murder in aid of racketeering, extortion, money laundering and weapons offenses. ... Since the shutdown, I have not had a Spanish speaker in the division. We have several Spanish speaking informants. We are only able to communicate using a three-way call with a linguist in another division."

    Several agents claimed that, because the FBI currently cannot pay confidential informants, efforts to curb narcotics trafficking have fallen by the wayside because the bureau is "unable to do undercover" or confidential human source operations that require purchases of guns or drugs from dealers on the street.

    In other words, Trump is using the shutdown to exact his revenge on the FBI...and he doesn't care whether it hampers investigations into gangs and drug traffickers.

    Read the full report here.

    Published:1/22/2019 5:19:00 PM
    [World] Andrew Napolitano: Easy Ability By FBI to Get FISA Warrants Has Corrupted Them

    Judge Andrew Napolitano slammed the means by which the FBI can obtain warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), after it was reported that a former top lawyer for the bureau was personally involved in the warrant application to surveil Carter Page.

    Published:1/22/2019 7:18:16 AM
    [Markets] Anti-Trump Frenzy Threatens To End Superpower Diplomacy

    Authored by Stephen Cohen via The Nation,

    Baseless Russiagate allegations continue to risk war with Russia...

    The New Year has brought a torrent of ever-more-frenzied allegations that President Donald Trump has long had a conspiratorial relationship - why mince words and call it “collusion”? - with Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin.

    Why the frenzy now? Perhaps because Russiagate promoters in high places are concerned that special counsel Robert Mueller will not produce the hoped-for “bombshell” to end Trump’s presidency. Certainly, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt seems worried, demanding, “The president must go,” his drop line exhorting, “What are we waiting for?” (In some countries, articles like his, and there are very many, would be read as calling for a coup.) Perhaps to incite Democrats who have now taken control of House investigative committees. Perhaps simply because Russiagate has become a political-media cult that no facts, or any lack of evidence, can dissuade or diminish.

    And there is no new credible evidence, preposterous claims notwithstanding. One of The New York Times’ own recent “bombshells,”published on January 12, reported, for example, that in spring 2017, FBI officials “began investigating whether [President Trump] had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.” None of the three reporters bothered to point out that those “agents and officials” almost certainly included ones later reprimanded and retired by the FBI itself for their political biases. (As usual, the Times buried its self-protective disclaimer deep in the story: “No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials.”)

    Whatever the explanation, the heightened frenzy is unmistakable, leading the “news” almost daily in the synergistic print and cable media outlets that have zealously promoted Russiagate for more than two years, in particular the Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, and their kindred outlets. They have plenty of eager enablers, including the once-distinguished Strobe Talbott, President Bill Clinton’s top adviser on Russia and until recently president of the Brookings Institution. According to Talbott, “We already know that the Kremlin helped put Trump into the White House and played him for a sucker…. Trump has been colluding with a hostile Russia throughout his presidency.” In fact, we do not “know” any of this. These remain merely widely disseminated suspicions and allegations.

    In this cult-like commentary, the “threat” of “a hostile Russia” must be inflated along with charges against Trump. (In truth, Russia represents no threat to the United States that Washington itself did not provoke since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991.) For its own threat inflation, the Timesfeatured not an expert with any plausible credentials but Lisa Page, the former FBI lawyer with no known Russia expertise, and who was one of those reprimanded by the agency for anti-Trump political bias. Nonetheless, the Times quotes Page at length:

    “In the Russian Federation and in President Putin himself you have an individual whose aim is to disrupt the Western alliance and whose aim is to make Western democracy more fractious in order to weaken our ability…to spread our democratic ideals.”

    Perhaps we should have guessed that the democracy-promotion genes of J. Edgar Hoover were still alive and breeding in the FBI, though for the Times, in its exploitation of the hapless and legally endangered Page, it seems not to matter.

    Which brings us, or rather Russiagate zealots, to the heightened “threat” represented by “Putin’s Russia.” If true, we would expect the US president to negotiate with the Kremlin leader, including at summit meetings, as every president since Dwight Eisenhower has done. But, we are told, we cannot trust Trump to do so, because, according to The Washington Post, he has repeatedly met with Putin alone, with only translators present, and concealed the records of their private talks, sure signs of “treasonous” behavior, as the Russiagate media first insisted following the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki in July 2018.

    It’s hard to know whether this is historical ignorance or Russiagate malice, though it is probably both. In any event, the truth is very different. In preparing US-Russian (Soviet and post-Soviet) summits since the 1950s, aides on both sides have arranged “private time” for their bosses for two essential reasons: so they can develop sufficient personal rapport to sustain any policy partnership they decide on; and so they can alert one another to constraints on their policy powers at home, to foes of such détente policies often centered in their respective intelligence agencies.

    (The KGB ran operations against Nikita Khrushchev’s détente policies with Eisenhower, and, as is well established, US intelligence agencies have run operations against Trump’s proclaimed goal of “cooperation with Russia.”)

    That is, in the modern history of US-Russian summits, we are told by a former American ambassador who knows, the “secrecy of presidential private meetings…has been the rule, not the exception.” He continues, “There’s nothing unusual about withholding information from the bureaucracy about the president’s private meetings with foreign leaders…. Sometimes they would dictate a memo afterward, sometimes not.” Indeed, President Richard Nixon, distrustful of the US “bureaucracy,” sometimes met privately with Kremlin leader Leonid Brezhnev while only Brezhnev’s translator was present.

    Nor should we forget the national-security benefits that have come from private meetings between US and Kremlin leaders. In October 1986, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met alone with their translators and an American official who took notes—the two leaders, despite their disagreements, agreed in principle that nuclear weapons should be abolished. The result, in 1987, was the first and still only treaty abolishing an entire category of such weapons, the exceedingly dangerous intermediate-range ones. (This is the historic treaty Trump has said he may abrogate.)

    And yet, congressional zealots are now threatening to subpoena the American translator who was present during Trump’s meetings with Putin. If this recklessness prevails, it will be the end of the nuclear-superpower summit diplomacy that has helped to keep America and the world safe from catastrophic war for nearly 70 years—and as a new, more perilous nuclear arms race between the two countries is unfolding. It will amply confirm a thesis set out in my book War with Russia?that anti-Trump Russiagate allegations have become the gravest threat to our security.

    Published:1/22/2019 4:15:32 AM
    [Markets] Death Of Russiagate? Mueller Team Tied To Mifsud's Network

    Via Disobedient Media,

    In April last year, Disobedient Media broke coverage of the British involvement in the Trump-Russia collusion narrative, asking why All Russiagate Roads Lead To London, via the quasi-scholar Joseph Mifsud and others.

    The issue was also raised by WikiLeaks's Julian Assange, just days before the Ecuadorian government silenced him last March. Assange's Twitter thread cited research by Chris Blackburn, who spoke with Disobedient Media on multiple occasions covering Joseph Mifsud's ties to British intelligence figures and organizations, as well as his links to Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign, the FBI, CIA and the private cyber-security firm Crowdstrike.

    We return, now, to this issue and specifically the research of Chris Blackburn, to place the final nail in the coffin of the Trump-Russia collusion charade. Blackburn's insights are incredible not only because they return us to the earliest reporting on the role of British intelligence figures in manufacturing the Trump-Russia collusion narrative, but because they also implicate members of Mueller's investigation. What we are left with is an indication of collusion between factions of the US and UK intelligence community in fabricating evidence of Trump-Russia collusion: a scandal that would have rocked the legacy press to its core, if Western establishment-backed media had a spine.

    In Disobedient Media's previous coverage of Blackburn's work, he described his experience in intelligence:

    “I’ve been involved in numerous investigations that involve counter-intelligence techniques in the past. I used to work for the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism, one of the biggest tort actions in American history. I helped build a profile of Osama bin Laden’s financial and political network, which was slightly different to the one that had been built by the CIA’s Alec Station, a dedicated task force which was focused on Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Alec Station designed its profile to hunt Osama bin Laden and disrupt his network. I thought it was flawed. It had failed to take into account Osama’s historical links to Pakistan’s main political parties or that he was the figurehead for a couple of organizations, not just Al-Qaeda.”

    “I also ran a few conferences for US intelligence leaders during the Bush administration. After the 9/11 Commission published its report into the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon it created a public outreach program. The US National Intelligence Conference and Exposition (Intelcon) was one of the avenues it used. I was responsible for creating the ‘View from Abroad’ track. We had guidance from former Senator Slade Gorton and Jamie Gorelick, who both sat on the 9/11 Commission. We got leaders such as Sir John Chilcot and Baroness Pauline Neville Jones to come and help share their experiences on how the US would be able to heal the rifts after 9/11.”

    “The US intelligence community was suffering from severe turf wars and firewalls, which were hampering counter-terrorism efforts. They were concentrating on undermining each other rather than tackling terrorism. I had mainly concentrated on the Middle East, but in 2003 I switched my focus to terrorism in South Asia.”

    Counter Terrorism, Not Counter Intelligence, Sparked Probe

    In an article published by The Telegraph last November, the paper acknowledged the following:

    "It forces the spotlight on whether the UK played a role in the FBI's investigation launched before the 2016 presidential election into Trump campaign ties to the Kremlin... Mr. Trump’s allies and former advisers are raising questions about the UK’s role in the start of the probe, given many of the key figures and meetings were located in Britain... One former top White House adviser to Mr. Trump made similar insinuations, telling this newspaper: “You know the Brits are up to their neck." The source added on the Page wiretap application: “I think that stuff is going to implicate MI5 and MI6 in a bunch of activities they don't want to be implicated in, along with FBI, counter-terrorism and the CIA." [Emphasis Added]

    The article cites George Papadopoulos, who asked why the "British intelligence apparatus was weaponized against Trump and his advisers." Papadopoulos has also addressed the issue at length via Twitter. In response to the Telegraph's coverage of the issue, Chris Blackburn wrote via Twitter:

    "The Telegraph story on Trump Russia acknowledges that activities involving counter-terrorism are at the heart of the scandal...not counter-intelligence. If the [London Centre for International Law Practice] was British state, not private, some Commonwealth countries are going to be seriously pissed off."

    Blackburn spoke with Disobedient Media, saying:

    "If you factor in the dreadful reporting to discredit Joseph Mifsud and leaks, it is pretty clear something rather strange happened to George Papadopoulos during the campaign while he was shuttling around Europe and the Middle East. He was working with people who have intelligence links at the London Centre of International Law Practice. A recent article in The Telegraph also alludes to MI5, MI6, and CIA using counter-terrorism assets which would tie into the London Centre of International Law Practice (LCILP), and its sister organizations, doing counter-terrorism work for the Australian, UK and US governments. They quote anonymous officials who believe that their intelligence agencies used counter-terrorism personnel to kick start the investigation/scandal." [Emphasis Added]

    Blackburn discussed this differentiation with Disobedient Media:

    "Counter-terrorism is obviously involved in more kinetic, violent political actions-concerning mass casualty events, bombings, assassinations, poisonings, and hacking. But, the lines are blurring between them. Counter-intelligence cases have been known to stretch for decades- often relying on nothing more than paranoia and suspicion to fuel investigations. Counter-terrorism is also a broader discipline as it involves tactical elements like hostage rescue, crime scene investigations, and explosive specialists. Counter-Terrorism is a collaborative effort with counter-terrorism officers working closely with local and regional police forces and civic organizations. There is also a wider academic field around countering violent, and radical ideology which promotes terrorism and insurgencies. Cybersecurity has become the third major discipline in intelligence. The London Center of International Law Practice, the mysterious intelligence company that employed both Papadopoulos and Mifsud, had also been working in that area."

    Continuing, Blackburn pinpointed the significance of defining counter-terrorism as the starting point of the investigation, saying: "It shows that there is a high probability that intelligence was deliberately abused to make Papadopoulos' activities look like they were something else. As counter-terrorism and counterintelligence are close in tactics and methods, it would seem that they were used because they share the same skill sets - covert evidence gathering and deception. It's basically sleight of hand. A piece of theatre would be more precise. However, we don't know if the FBI knew it was real or make-believe. It's more likely that the CIA played the FBI with the help of close allies who were suspicious and frightened of a Trump presidency."

    Mueller's Team And Joseph Mifsud

    Zainab Ahmad, a member of Mueller's legal team, is the former Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of New York. As pointed out by Blackburn, Ahmad attended a Global Center on Cooperative Security event in 2017. In recent days, Blackburn wrote via Twitter:

    "Zainab Ahmad is a major player in the Russiagate scandal at the DOJ. Does she work for SC Mueller? She was at a GCCS event in May 2017. Arvinder Sambei, a co-director of the [London Centre of International Law Practice], worked with Joseph Mifsud, [George Papadopoulos] and [Simona Mangiante]. She's a GCCS consultant."

    Blackburn told this author:

    "Zainab Ahmad was one of the first DOJ prosecutors to have seen the Steele dossier. In May 2017, she attended a counter-terrorism conference in New York with the Global Center on Cooperative Security (GCCS), an organization which Joseph Mifsud, the alleged Russian spy, had been working within London and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia."

    Zainab Ahmad (AHMAD). Image via the Combatting Terrorism Center, West Point

    "Richard Barrett, the Former Chief of Counter-Terrorism at MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence department traveled with Mifsud to Saudi Arabia to give a talk on terrorism in 2017. Ex-CIA officers, US Defense, and US Treasury officials were also there. The London Centre of International Law Practice's relationship to the Global Center had been established in 2014. The Global Center on Cooperative Security made Martin Polaine and Arvinder Sambei consultants, they then became directors at the London Centre of International Law Practice."

    "The Global Center on Cooperative Security's first major UK conference was at Joseph Mifsud's London Academy of Diplomacy (LAD). Mifsud then followed Arvinder Sambei and Nagi Idris over to the London Centre of International Law Practice. Sources have told me that Mifsud was moonlighting as a specialist on counter-terrorism and Islamism while working at LAD which explains why he went to work in counter-terrorism after LAD folded."

    "I don't think it's a coincidence that Global Center on Cooperative Security is connected to various elements that popped up in the Papadopoulos case. The fact that a prosecutor on Mueller's team was at Global Center before Mueller was appointed as special counsel is also troubling."

    Days ago, The Hill reported on Congressional testimony by Bruce Ohr, revealing that when served as a DOJ official, he warned FBI and DOJ figures that the Steele dossier was problematic and linked to the Clintons. Critically, The Hill writes:

    "Those he briefed included Andrew Weissmann, then the head of DOJ’s fraud section; Bruce Swartz, longtime head of DOJ’s international operations, and Zainab Ahmad, an accomplished terrorism prosecutor who, at the time, was assigned to work with Lynch as a senior counselor. Ahmad and Weissmann would go on to work for Mueller, the special prosecutor overseeing the Russia probe." [Emphasis Added]

    This point is essential, as it not only describes Ahmad's role in Mueller's team but places her at a crucial pre-investigation meeting.

    Last year, Blackburn noted the connection between Mifsud and Arvinder Sambei, writing: "LCILP director and FBI counsel, works with Mike Smith at the Global Center. They ran joint counter-terrorism conferences and training with Mifsud's London Academy. Sambei then brought Mifsud over to the [London Centre of International Law Practice]. [Global Center works with Aussies, UK and US State too."

    Sambei has been described elsewhere as a "Former practising barrister, Senior Crown Prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service of England & Wales, and Legal Adviser at the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ), Ministry of Defence." [British spelling has been retained]

    Arvinder Sambei. Image via the Public International Law Advisory Group

    That Sambei has been so thoroughly linked to organizations where Mifsud was a central figure is yet another cause of suspicion regarding allegations that Joseph Mifsud was a shadowy, unknown Russian agent until the summer of 2016. She is also a direct link between Robert Mueller and Mifsud.

    Blackburn wrote via Twitter: "Arvinder Sambei helped to organize LCILP's counter-terrorism and corruption events. She used her contacts in the US to bring in Middle Eastern government officials that were seen to be vulnerable to graft. Lisa Osofsky, former FBI Deputy General Counsel, was working with her." Below, Arvinder is pictured at a London Centre of International Law Practice (LCILP) event.

    Arvinder Sambei, pictured at an LCILP event. Image via Chris Blackburn, Twitter

    As Chris Blackburn told this author:

    "Mifsud and Papadopoulos's co-director Arvinder Sambei was also the former FBI British counsel working 9/11 cases for Robert Mueller. She also runs a consultancy which deals with Special Investigative Measure (SIMs) which is just a posh description for covert espionage and evidence gathering. She has worked for major intelligence and national law agencies in the past. She wore two hats as a director of London Centre and a consultant for the Global Center on Cooperative Security (GCCS), a counter-terrorism think tank which is sponsored by the Australia, Canada, UK and US governments. Alexander Downer's former Chief of Staff while at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade now works for the Global Center. Mifsud was also due to meet with Australian private intelligence figures in Adelaide in March 2016. So. Australia is certainly a major focus for the investigation." [Emphasis Added]

    Below, former FBI Deputy General Counsel Lisa Osofsky is pictured at a London Centre for International Law Practice event. Osofsky also served as the Money Laundering Reporting Officer with Goldman Sachs International. Since 2018, she has served as the Director of the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

    Lisa Osofsky, pictured at an LCILP event. Image via Chris Blackburn, Twitter

    An Embarrassment For John Brennan?

    Disobedient Media previously reported that Robert Hannigan, then head of British spy agency GCHQ, flew to Washington DC to share ‘director-to-director’ level intelligence with then-CIA Chief John Brennan in the summer of 2016. This writer noted that "The Guardian reported Hannigan's announcement that he would step down from his leadership position with the agency just three days after the inauguration of President Trump, on 23 January 2017. Jane Mayer, in her profile of Christopher Steele published in the New Yorker, also noted that Hannigan had flown to Washington D.C. to personally brief the then-CIA Director John Brennan on alleged communications between the Trump campaign and Moscow. What is so curious about this briefing “deemed so sensitive it was handled at director-level” is why Hannigan was talking director-to-director to the CIA and not Mike Rogers at the NSA, GCHQ’s Five Eyes intelligence-sharing partner."

    Blackburn told Disobedient Media:

    "Former Congressman Trey Gowdy, who has seen most of the information gathered by Congress from the intelligence community concerning the Russia investigation, said that if President Trump were to declassify files and present the truth to the American public, it would "embarrass John Brennan." I think that is pretty concrete for me, but it's not definitive. I know the polarization and spin in Washington has become perverse, but that statement is pretty specific for me. If Brennan is involved, it is most probably through Papadopoulos who sparked off the 'official' investigation at the FBI. He also made sure the Steele dossier was spread through the US government."

    Blackburn added: "Chris Steele was also working on FIFA projects, and a source has told me that he was working to investigate the Russian and Qatari World Cup bids. The London Centre of International Law Practice has been working with Majed Garoub, the former Saudi legal representative of FIFA, the world governing body for soccer. He's also been working against the Qatari bid. Steele likes to get paid twice for his investigations."

    "Mifsud has also been associated with Prince Turki the former Saudi intelligence chief, Mifsud and the London Academy of Diplomacy used to train Saudi diplomats and intelligence figures while Turki was the Saudi Ambassador to London. Turki is a close friend of Bill Clinton and John Brennan. Nawaf Obaid was also courting Mifsud and tried to get him a cushy job working with CNN's Freedom Project at Link Campus in Rome. He also knows John Brennan. Intelligence agencies like to give out professional gifts like this plum academic position for completing missions. In the US, it is widely known that intelligence agencies gift the children of assets to get them into prestigious Ivy League schools."

    At minimum, we can surmise that Mifsud was not a Russian agent, but was an asset of Western intelligence agencies. We are left with the impression that the Mifsud saga served as a ploy, whether he participated knowingly or not. It seems reasonable to conclude that the gambit was initially developed with participation of John Brennan and UK intelligence. Following this, Mueller inherited and developed the Mifsud narrative thread into the collusion soap opera we know today.

    Ultimately, we are faced with the reality that British and US interests worked together to fabricate a collusion scandal to subvert a US Presidency, and in doing so, intentionally raised tensions between the West and a nuclear-armed power.

    Published:1/21/2019 10:43:59 PM
    [Markets] Shocking Admission By FBI Veteran Shows Why The FBI Shouldn't Exist

    Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

    On the 18th of November, 1964, the FBI’s appallingly corrupt boss J. Edgar Hoover denounced Martin Luther King Jr. as “the most notorious liar in the country.” A few days later, a Hoover deputy named William Sullivan wrote King a letter posing as a disillusioned follower and using powerful, manipulative language to urge the civil rights leader to commit suicide before evidence of his extramarital affair became public. Enclosed was an FBI recording containing evidence of the affair.

    Whenever America celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day we should remind ourselves that it is a known, undisputed fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation engineered a psyop to manipulate one of the world’s greatest minds into committing suicide. It is also worth reviewing the compelling argument for the case that the FBI was behind King’s assassination as well.

    Hoover, who headed the FBI for decades, obsessively despised King on a deeply personal level. He kept files on the civil rights leader in which he’d scribble hateful comments on memos he received about King, apparently for no purpose other than his own gratification and catharsis. On a memo about King receiving the St. Francis peace medal from the Catholic Church, he wrote “This is disgusting.” On the news of King’s meeting with the pope, he scribbled, “I am amazed that the Pope gave an audience to such a degenerate.”

    FBI headquarters still wears the name of this childish pig, a brazen admission by the Bureau that it remains very much the same institution which tried to end Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, the same institution which assassinatedBlack Panthers leader Fred Hampton, the same institution which for years ran the unconstitutional COINTELPRO campaign to infiltrate and sabotage dissident political groups, and which has continued to infiltrate dissident political groups, including Black civil rights groups, to this very day.

    We received yet another reminder of the FBI’s true face the other day in an interview with its former Deputy Assistant Director Terry Turchie on Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight. In a passing tangent largely unrelated to the rest of the interview, Turchie made the following shocking statement in relation to the ongoing Russiagate saga:

    “And I think we can expect more of this, because quite honestly the electorate in some places is putting more and more progressives and self-described socialists in positions. And ironically, years ago, when I first got into the FBI, one of the missions of the FBI in its counterintelligence efforts was to try and keep these people out of government. Why? Because we would end up with massive dysfunction and massive disinformation and massive misinformation, and it seems to me that’s where we’re at today.”

    Wow.

    According to his LinkedIn profile, Turchie joined the FBI in July of 1972. COINTELPRO, the program in which leftist groups were actively infiltrated and undermined, officially ended in 1971, and Hoover had died in May of 1972. This was after “Hoover’s FBI” stopped being Hoover’s FBI, yet a “counterintelligence effort” was still very much alive and thriving to undermine the will of the electorate and prevent them from electing leftists to office.

    This one admission, by itself, is in my opinion more than enough to justify the FBI’s total dissolution. Leaving aside any of their other malfeasance that I mentioned earlier, leaving aside the rest of their other documented malfeasance that I haven’t mentioned, this one admission by Turchie shows clearly that America’s secret police should cease to exist.

    Think about it. How can anyone justify the FBI’s continued existence after such an admission? There is an extremely powerful branch of the US government which is known to have been actively undermining the democratic will of the electorate through covert means. Even if you very trustingly subscribe to the belief that the FBI no longer engages in any such practices to any extent (and that would be extremely naive), how can you justify keeping it in power knowing that it did? Where precisely in the FBI’s history is a clear, clean, unequivocal break from what it was doing then declared, documented and evidenced? For what reason was it not razed to the ground decades ago and any of its actual necessary functions transferred elsewhere?

    Imagine if the Ku Klux Klan had successfully cleaned up its image in the ’90s or something. Now you’re seeing members of the KKK interviewed on CNN and MSNBC as respectable members of society, holding powerful political positions, treated like heroes, all under the same banner it held when it was lynching people of color a few decades prior. Would that not seem weird? Would you not say something like “Wait, why are we keeping that organization around? At best they’re probably just putting a nicer face on their previous toxic agendas, especially since any good intentions existing within it could simply be taken somewhere with a less horrific history.”

    The only reason the FBI is being treated any differently is because it’s got such good PR, namely the entire political/media class.

    Journalist Mark Ames documents a short-lived push by the Carter administration to “transform the FBI from an extralegal secret police agency to something legal and defined.” This feeble proposition to give the Bureau an actual charter to clearly define what it is, what it does, and where the confines of its operations are was the closest America ever came to putting any kind of limitations on the powers of its secret police force, and by the time Reagan rolled around it was long forgotten.

    And now you’ve got this same evil institution essentially criminalizing the act of the executive branch pursuing good relations with a nuclear superpower, launching a secret counterintelligence investigation into whether a sitting president is a national security threat for his Russia policy. This cannot be leading anywhere good.

    The FBI has too much power and far too unforgivable a history to be permitted to control the reigns of the nation with the most powerful military force in the history of civilization. Get rid of it and move in a healthy direction.

    *  *  *

    The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet new merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

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    Published:1/21/2019 3:15:32 PM
    [Markets] We Need A Martin Luther King Day Of Truth

    Authored by Edward Curtin via OffGuardian.com,

    As Martin Luther King’s birthday is celebrated with a national holiday, his death day disappears down the memory hole. Across the country – in response to the King Holiday and Service Act passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in 1994 – people will be encouraged to make the day one of service. Such service does not include King’s commitment to protest a decadent system of racial and economic injustice or non-violently resist the U.S. warfare state that he called “the greatest purveyor of violence on earth.”

    Government sponsored service is cultural neo-liberalism at its finest, the promotion of individualism at the expense of a mass movement for radical institutional change.

    “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous,” warned Dr. King, “than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

    How true those words. For the government that honors Dr. King with a national holiday killed him. This is the suppressed truth behind the highly promoted day of service. It is what you are not supposed to know. It is what Thomas Merton, as quoted by James W. Douglass, called The Unspeakable:

    It is the void that contradicts everything that is spoken even before the words are said; the void that gets into the language of public and officials declarations at the very moment when they are pronounced, and makes them ring dead with the hollowness of the abyss. It is the void out of which Eichmann drew the punctilious exactitude of his service.”

    The word service is a loaded word; it has become a smiley face and vogue word over the past 35 years. Its use for MLK Day is clear: individuals are encouraged to volunteer for activities such as tutoring children, painting senior centers, or delivering meals to the elderly, activities that are good in themselves but far less good when used to conceal an American prophet’s radical message. After all, Martin Luther King’s work was not volunteering at the local food pantry with Oprah Winfrey cheering him on.

    THE ASSASSINATION

    King was not murdered because he had spent his heroic life promoting individual volunteerism. To understand his life and death – to celebrate the man – “it is essential to realize although he is popularly depicted and perceived as a civil rights leader, he was much more than that. A non-violent revolutionary, he personified the most powerful force for a long overdue social, political, and economic reconstruction of the nation.” Those are the words of William Pepper, the King family lawyer, from his comprehensive and definitive study of the King assassination, The Plot to Kill King, a book that should be read by anyone concerned with truth and justice.

    Revolutionaries are, of course, anathema to the power elites who, with all their might, resist such rebels’ efforts to transform society. If they can’t buy them off, they knock them off. Fifty one years after King’s assassination, the causes he fought for – civil rights, the end to U.S. wars of aggression, and economic justice for all – remain not only unfulfilled, but have worsened in so many respects. And King’s message has been enervated by the sly trick of giving him a national holiday and then urging Americans to make it “a day of service.” The vast majority of those who innocently participate in these activities have no idea who killed King, or why. If they did, they might pause in their tracks, and combine their “service” activities with a teach-in on the truth of his assassination.

    Because MLK repeatedly called the United States the “greatest purveyor of violence on earth,” he was universally condemned by the mass media and government that later – once he was long and safely dead and no longer a threat – praised him to the heavens. This has continued to the present day of historical amnesia.

    Educating people about the fact that U.S. government forces conspired to kill Dr. King, and why, and why it matters today, is the greatest service we can render to his memory.

    William Pepper’s decades-long investigation not only refutes the flimsy case against the alleged assassin James Earl Ray, but definitively proves that King was killed by a government conspiracy led by J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI, Army Intelligence, and the Memphis Police, assisted by southern Mafia figures.

    THE TRIAL

    This shocking truth is accentuated when one is reminded (or told for the first time) that in 1999 a Memphis jury, after a thirty day civil trial with over seventy witnesses, found the U.S. government guilty in the killing of MLK. The King family had brought the suit and Pepper represented them. They were grateful that the truth was confirmed, but saddened by the way the findings were buried by the media in cahoots with the government.

    Pepper not only demolishes the government’s self-serving case with a plethora of evidence, but shows how the mainstream media, academia, and government flacks have spent years covering up the truth of MLK’s murder through lies and disinformation. Another way they have accomplished this is by convincing a gullible public that “service” is a substitute for truth.

    But service without truth is a disservice to the life, legacy, and radical witness of this great American hero. It is propaganda aimed at convincing decent people that they are serving the essence of MLK’s message while they are obeying their masters, the very government that murdered him.

    It is time to rebel against the mind manipulation served by the MLK Day of Service. Let us offer service, but let us also learn and speak the truth.

    “He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery,” King told us, “Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth.”

    Published:1/21/2019 1:42:03 PM
    [aded984a-c34b-5ba0-a9c8-5347f921a8c5] Bruce Ohr testimony shows something's really rotten at the Justice Department John Solomon reported  in The Hill last week that then-senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr cautioned FBI and DOJ officials in July and August 2016 that former British Intelligence operative Christopher Steele’s Russia dossier was connected to the Clinton campaign and likely biased.  Published:1/21/2019 12:43:25 PM
    [Politics] House GOP Seek to Continue Probe into FBI House Republicans plan to press ahead with probes into the FBI and DOJ, even though they lack the power to do anything about it now that they are in the minority after the midterm elections, Politico reported on Monday. Published:1/21/2019 12:11:25 PM
    [Markets] A Call To Reinvestigate American Assassinations

    Via ConsortiumNews.com,

    On the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a group of over 60 prominent American citizens is calling upon Congress to reopen the investigations into the assassinations of President John F. KennedyMalcolm XMartin Luther King Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

    Signers of the joint statement include Isaac Newton Farris Jr., nephew of Reverend King and past president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Reverend James M. Lawson Jr., a close collaborator of Reverend King; and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, children of the late senator. The declaration is also signed by numerous historians, journalists, lawyers and other experts on the four major assassinations. 

    Other signatories include G. Robert Blakey, the chief counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which determined in 1979 that President Kennedy was the victim of a probable conspiracy; Dr. Robert McClelland, one of the surgeons at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas who tried to save President Kennedy’s life and saw clear evidence he had been struck by bullets from the front and the rear; Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower who served as a national security advisor to the Kennedy White House; Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and a leading global authority on human rights; Hollywood artists Alec BaldwinMartin SheenRob Reiner and Oliver Stone; political satirist Mort Sahl; and musician David Crosby.

    JFK: November 22, 1963.

    The joint statement calls for Congress to establish firm oversight on the release of all government documents related to the Kennedy presidency and assassination, as mandated by the JFK Records Collection Act of 1992. This public transparency law has been routinely defied by the CIA and other federal agencies. The Trump White House has allowed the CIA to continue its defiance of the law, even though the JFK Records Act called for the full release of relevant documents in 2017.

    The group statement also calls for a public inquest into “the four major  assassinations of the 1960s that together had a disastrous impact on the course of American history.” This tribunal – which would hear testimony from living witnesses, legal experts, investigative journalists, historians and family members of the victims – would be modeled on the Truth and Reconciliation hearings held in South Africa after the fall of apartheid. This American Truth and Reconciliation process is intended to encourage Congress or the Justice Department to reopen investigations into all four organized acts of political violence.

    Signers of the joint statement, who call themselves the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, are also seeking to reopen the Robert F. Kennedy assassination case, stating that Sirhan Sirhan’s conviction was based on “a mockery of a trial.” The forensic evidence alone, observes the statement, demonstrates that Sirhan did not fire the fatal shot that killed Senator Kennedy – a conclusion reached by, among others, Dr. Thomas Noguchi, the Los Angeles County Coroner who performed the official autopsy on RFK.

    The joint statement — which was co-written by Adam Walinsky, a speechwriter and top aide of Senator Kennedy — declares that these

    Four major political murders traumatized American life in the 1960s and cast a shadow over the country for decades thereafter. John F. KennedyMalcolm XMartin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were each in his own unique way attempting to turn the United States away from war toward disarmament and peace, away from domestic violence and division toward civil amity and justice. Their killings were together a savage, concerted assault on American democracy and the tragic consequences of these assassinations still haunt our nation.”

    The Truth and Reconciliation Committee views its joint statement as the opening of a long campaign aimed at shining a light on dark national secrets. As the public transparency campaign proceeds, citizens across the country will be encouraged to add their names to the petition. The national effort seeks to confront the forces behind America’s democratic decline, a reign of secretive power that long precedes the recent rise of authoritarianism. “The organized killing of JFK, Malcolm, Martin, and RFK was a mortal attack on our democracy,” said historian James W. Douglass, author of JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (2010).

    “We’ve been walking in the valley of the dead ever since. Our campaign is all about recovering the truth embodied in the movement they led. Yes, the transforming, reconciling power of truth will indeed set us free.”

    The Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s Calls for Action:

    MLK Jr.: April 4, 1968 (Wikimedia Commons)

    *  We call upon Congress to establish continuing oversight on the release of government documents related to the presidency and assassination of President John F. Kennedy, to ensure public transparency as mandated by the JFK Records Collection Act of 1992. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform should hold hearings on the Trump administration’s failure to enforce the JFK Records Act.

    *  We call for a major public inquest on the four major assassinations of the 1960s that together had a disastrous impact on the course of American history: the murders of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. This public tribunal, shining a light on this dark chapter of our history, will be modeled on the Truth and Reconciliation process in post-apartheid South Africa. The inquest — which will hear testimony from living witnesses, legal experts, investigative journalists, historians and family members of the victims — is intended to show the need for Congress or the Justice Department to reopen investigations into all four assassinations.

    * On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we call for a full investigation of Reverend King’s assassination. The conviction of James Earl Ray for the crime has steadily lost credibility over the years, with a 1999 civil trial brought by Reverend King’s family placing blame on government agencies and organized crime elements. Following the verdict, Coretta Scott King, the slain leader’s widow, stated: “There is abundant evidence of a major, high-level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband.” The jury in the Memphis trial determined that various federal, state and local agencies “were deeply involved in the assassination … Mr. Ray was set up to take the blame.” Reverend King’s assassination was the culmination of years of mounting surveillance and harassment directed at the human rights leader by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and other agencies.

    *  We call for a full investigation of the Robert F. Kennedy assassination case, the prosecution of which was a mockery of a trial that has been demolished by numerous eyewitnesses, investigators and experts — including former Los Angeles County Coroner Dr. Thomas Noguchi, who performed the official autopsy on Senator Kennedy. The forensic evidence alone establishes that the shots fired by Sirhan Sirhan from in front of Senator Kennedy did not kill him; the fatal shot that struck RFK in the head was fired at point–blank range from the rear. Consequently, the case should be reopened for a new comprehensive investigation while there are still living witnesses — as there are in all four assassination cases.

    A Joint Statement on the Kennedy, King and Malcolm X Assassinations and Ongoing Cover-ups:

    1. As the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1979, President John F. Kennedy was probably killed as the result of a conspiracy.

    2. In the four decades since this Congressional finding, a massive amount of evidence compiled by journalists, historians and independent researchers confirms this conclusion. This growing body of evidence strongly indicates that the conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy was organized at high levels of the U.S. power structure, and was implemented by top elements of the U.S. national security apparatus using, among others, figures in the criminal underworld to help carry out the crime and cover-up.

    RFK: June 5, 1968.

    3. This stunning conclusion was also reached by the president’s own brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who himself was assassinated in 1968 while running for president – after telling close aides that he intended to reopen the investigation into his brother’s murder if he won the election.

    4. President Kennedy’s administration was badly fractured over his efforts to end the Cold War, including his back-channel peace feelers to the Soviet Union and Cuba and his plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Vietnam after the 1964 presidential election.

    5. President Kennedy has long been portrayed as a Cold War hawk, but this grossly inaccurate view has been strongly challenged over the years by revisionist historians and researchers, who have demonstrated that Kennedy was frequently at odds with his own generals and espionage officials. This revisionist interpretation of the Kennedy presidency is now widely embraced, even by mainstream Kennedy biographers.

    6. The official investigation into the JFK assassination immediately fell under the control of U.S. security agencies, ensuring a cover-up. The Warren Commission was dominated by former CIA director Allen Dulles and other officials with strong ties to the CIA and FBI.

    7. The corporate media, with its own myriad connections to the national security establishment, aided the cover-up with its rush to embrace the Warren Report and to scorn any journalists or researchers who raised questions about the official story.

    8. Despite the massive cover-up of the JFK assassination, polls have consistently shown that a majority of the American people believes Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy — leading to the deep erosion of confidence in the U.S. government and media.

    Malcolm X: February 21, 1965.

    9. The CIA continues to obstruct evidence about the JFK assassination, routinely blocking legitimate Freedom of Information requests and defying the JFK Records Collection Act of 1992, preventing the release of thousands of government documents as required by the law.

    10. The JFK assassination was just one of four major political murders that traumatized American life in the 1960s and have cast a shadow over the country for decades thereafter. John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were each in his own unique way attempting to turn the United States away from war toward disarmament and peace, away from domestic violence and division toward civil amity and justice. Their killings were together a savage, concerted assault on American democracy and the tragic consequences of these assassinations still haunt our nation.

    Published by Spartacus Educational.

    Published:1/21/2019 9:11:15 AM
    [Markets] The News About Fake News Is Fake

    Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

    In the last few days I was looking around for stories that could illustrate what fake news actually is, and I had a nice collection, but then last night Robert Mueller of all people clarified what exactly fake news is better than I could have. At first the BuzzFeed crew that was caught staring straight into the headlights has a feeble response (what exactly was untrue in our article?), but was silenced by the WaPo of all publications: Mueller’s team said every bit of the article was false.

    And still I wonder if people now understand better what fake news is. Which I think has a lot to do whit the fact that the term was monopolized by a section of US media as meaning things that had to do with Trump, more or less exclusively. That way, when Trump accused these same media of publishing fake news, they knew their loyal readers wouldn’t believe him.

    But in reality they’ve been at it ever since Trump entered US politics, and they dug in ever deeper into their anti-Donald trenches, first for political reasons, later for profit (nothing sells like Trump in America today). And in the process, especially since they published umpteen pieces a day on the topic, they had to use unproven and biased allegations and innuendo. There was never enough real news to go around to feed the monster they created. That’s how we got Russiagate.

    Still, of course, like me, you want to know how fake news is recognized, how ‘experts’ tell it apart from real news. Well, despair no more. An actual professor researched it, and was quoted by the New York Times last week, which doesn’t publish fake news, it says. I got to say, personally, I found this highly enlightening.

    Older People Shared Fake News on Facebook More Than Others in 2016 Race

    The authors were careful in defining “fake news,” a term that has been weaponized by many, including President Trump, to dismiss real news they dislike. “Reasonable people disagree about where to draw the line and we were very conscious of those issues,” Professor Guess said.

    As a result, they assembled a limited list of sites that reliably published fake content, based on various sources, including reporting from BuzzFeed News. As best the researchers could tell, the list did not include any websites associated with Russian disinformation efforts, according to Professor Guess. The Facebook and survey data came from a group of about 3,500 people whom the authors tracked during the 2016 election in order to better understand the role social media played in political discourse.

    They found that Republicans and those who identified as “very conservative” tended to share the most news from questionable sources. But that tendency may have less to do with ideology and more to do with what those articles said: Users tend to share stories they agree with and the fake news sites were disproportionately pro-Trump, the authors said.

    So the researchers distinguish fake news from real news, but they don’t tell us -or the NYT doesn’t- what methods they use to tell the two apart. They do tell us that what Trump calls fake news is merely real news he dislikes. It’s funny how people say that so easily, and never think they themselves might do just that.

    “..a limited list of sites that reliably published fake content..” sounds intriguing, but not convincing. That this list partly comes from BuzzFeed is hilarious in view of Mueller’s indictment of BuzzFeed’s article about Trump instructing Michael Cohen to lie. Other than that, the article doesn’t really say much. But luckily Quentin Fottrell, personal finance editor at MarketWatch, elaborates (free advice: Quentin, stick to your trade!)

    His article caught my eye because whereas the NYTimes piece talked about older people sharing more fake news, Quentin adds that it’s about Republican older people. And that I find hard to believe. At least without proof; I wouldn’t want to jump to such conclusions based on fake news. Let’s see how far I can get:

    Why Republican Baby Boomers Are More Likely To Share #Fakenews On Facebook

    So why are Republican baby boomers more likely to share fake news on Facebook? One theory: As they didn’t grow up with technology, they may be more susceptible to being fooled.

    That one sentence says a lot about this entire ‘study’. It even sounds fake to me. Because while I can see the “less exposed to tech” issue to an extent, I see no reason why Republican baby boomers would be fooled more easily by technology than their Democrat peers.

    [..] Andrew Guess, an associate professor at Princeton University, and his colleagues disseminated an online survey to 3,500 people in three waves throughout the 2016 campaign. Of the respondents, 1,331 in the initial wave agreed to share their Facebook profile data, which allowed researchers to analyze the age and political affiliations of those people who were more likely to spread fake news.

    The results showed that 90% of these users actually did not share misleading or fake articles and only 8.5% shared one or more fake news articles. A plurality, 18%, of the Facebook users who shared the fake stories were both self-identified Republicans and over the age of 65, the authors concluded, and these individuals shared nearly seven times as many fake news articles as respondents in the youngest age group, ranging in age from 18 to 29.

    I had to look at this a few times. Here’s what I think it says:

    • They ‘studied’ 3,500 people in 3 waves, of which the initial one was larger than 1,331 people, since that is the segment of the first wave who shared their Facebook data (we assume not all did).

    • 90% of these 1,331, or 1,198 people, shared nothing at all (no fake news).

    • 8.5% of the 1,331, or 114 people, did share fake news stories. 18% of those 114 (so 18% of 8.5%), or 20 people, were self-identified Republicans over the age of 65.

    • Therefore 20 people out of 3,500, or 0.57%, were older Republicans who shared fake news (as it was defined by the survey). There are probably even more people in that target group suffering from dementia than the 0.57% who shared fake news. So what are we looking at here?

    • You could argue that it’s really 20 people out of 1,331, but that’s still only 1.5%. Meaningless.

    • These 20 people shared 7 times as many fake news pieces as young people. That may be true, but they also shared more than 99.43% of people their own age. Does this still mean anything at all to you?

    Quentin delights us with some more data;

    Another possible explanation: Older Americans may have felt particularly passionate and entrenched in their political views and, therefore, ideological. For instance, the most ideological members of Congress shared news stories on their Facebook pages more than twice as often as moderate legislators between Jan. 2, 2015, and July 20, 2017, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center study, which examined all official Facebook posts created by and for members of Congress in this period.

    If you ask me, it’s peculiar to make statements about politics that heap ordinary Americans together with politicians, but at least that paragraph doesn’t say Republicans are more likely than others to [fill in your preference]. But then we’re off to the races again:

    [..] What’s more, baby boomers are more likely to be conservative and ideological, according to data crunched by Pew. “In both 2015 and 2016, about one in 10 baby boomers identified as conservative Republicans— the highest percentages dating back to 2000,” researchers Shiva Maniam and Samantha Smith wrote for Pew. “In both years, conservative Republicans made up the largest single partisan and ideological group among boomers.”

    Wait. The logic here is that baby boomers are more likely to be conservative and ideological because 1 in 10 baby boomers say they’re conservative Republicans. But that means 9 out of 10 does not. This doesn’t even make a single sliver of sense. Yo, Quentin (and professor Guess), we need some help here.

    To be fair, older Republicans share more news in general, and fake news gets caught up in the mix. Members of Congress with very conservative or very liberal voting records both shared news links in about 14% of all their posts, but members with more moderate ideology scores shared links to news stories in just 6% of their posts, Pew found.

    That starts out with older Republicans in general and then seamlessly veers into members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, with either very conservative or very liberal voting records. Not fully self-contradictory, but darn close.

    There may also be a political explanation: A trickle-down effect from the president’s own remarks about the liberal media. Older Republicans could feel more emboldened by Trump’s comments and, as a result, assume stories that support their causes are accurate.

    That’s the first time I explicitly read Quentin saying that fake news is linked to Trump. But other than that, there is no sign that older Democrats don’t feel ’emboldened’ by DNC or Hillary or Pelosi comments just as much as Republicans do by Trump. Quentin and professor Guess only pretend to make a point, but there’s nothing there.

    The president has doubled down of late on the view that the mainstream media’s negative coverage of his administration is rooted in bias. “The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and often times false attacks and stories,” Trump said last year.

    “Confirmation bias” helps outlandish theories and reports gain traction on social media. And that, psychologists say, is where fake news comes in.

    Since there is nothing that indicates one political side is more prone to confirmation bias than the other, fake news will necessarily also occur on both sides. Why you would have psychologists define fake news I don’t know. Oh, and I think that Trump comment makes a lot of sense.

    With so much noise on social media, how can people distinguish between rumor and reality? Psychologists say people develop defense mechanisms to cope with an uncertain world early in life, but this also draws people to information that seems to confirm their own beliefs and world views and to ignore reports or opinions that contradict their perceptions.

    “At its core is the need for the brain to receive confirming information that harmonizes with an individual’s existing views and beliefs,” said Mark Whitmore, an assistant professor of management and information systems in Kent State University’s business school. “In fact, one could say the brain is hard-wired to accept, reject, miss-remember or distort information based on whether it is viewed as accepting of or threatening to existing beliefs.”

    Older Americans may be less likely to question authority

    However, many people effectively rationalize the irrational in order to avoid going against values and ideas they were taught by their parents. “Children’s learning about make-believe and mastery becomes the basis for more complex forms of self-deception and illusion into adulthood,” Eve Whitmore said. When people are faced with absurd and conflicting messages, her husband added, “It becomes easier to cling to a simple fiction than a complicated reality.”

    [..] Ultimately, however, it may come down to our trust in the internet, rather than institutions or belief systems. “People who have grown up with the internet have experienced things that are not necessarily truthful. They have had experiences on social media or they have witnessed friends dealing with false information, which has made them more skeptical about what they read versus the baby boomers who did not grow up with the internet and have, therefore, limited experience.”

    Remember, the article’s headline is “Why Republican Baby Boomers Are More Likely To Share #Fakenews On Facebook”. And then it does absolutely nothing to make that point, but instead goes a very long way to proving that ALL baby boomers do that. Either one of which, first of all, you don’t prove by talking 20 people out of a sample of 3,500, but moreover, secondly, your entire article -strongly- appears to deny.

    And do we know what fake news is now, are we any closer to that? Not that I can see. And there’s no way I can say it all in one go, so I’ll get back to this topic. But not before thanking Robert Mueller for defining fake news in his own way. It must have cost him, and the FBI and DOJ, some genuine heartache, but in the end he couldn’t let the entire avalanche of media and Democrats run with such an overtly fake piece of ‘news’. There were calls for Congressional investigations based on it, for crying out loud.

    Speaking of which, crying out loud might be what you expect BuzzFeed to do now, but don’t count on it: they got a ton of free publicity, and that’s all the entire fake news cycle has been based on from the start. And if it didn’t kill the New York Times or CNN, why would it kill BuzzFeed? It’s a growth industry. And credibility is overrated.

    Published:1/20/2019 4:36:35 PM
    [Markets] A Satirical Dream: Trump's 2019 State Of The Union Address

    Authored by Doug “Uncola” Lynn via TheBurningPlatform.com,

    Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and my fellow Americans:

    It’s been another year since your president has stood before you to, once again, deliver yet another State of the Union address.

    Tonight, however, will not be the standard fare.  Instead of half-truths and false optimism, I am going to set aside all that in order to say what I believe is true.

    Dear citizens, we now stand a crossroads and we must choose.  We must choose if we are to move forward and deal with the real problems facing our nation, or to progress as a country of corruption; whether to return to our roots as an honorable republic – a nation of laws,  or to continue our decline into lawlessness and the abyss.

    Slightly more than two years ago, I was elected by patriotic Americans to make our nation great again. Through the votes of those Americans, we defeated a corrupt globalist puppet who has served at the whim of a global banking elite set on world domination.

    Former President Dwight Eisenhower warned  of an ever growing military industrial complex and John F. Kennedy identified secret societies operating as asystem which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations” and in ways that were “repugnant in a free and open society”.

    There is a quote often attributed to one of our nation’s founders and earliest presidents, Thomas Jefferson, which states:

    Banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, banks and corporations will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.

    And another quote most commonly attributed to a founding father of international finance, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, who said:

    Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws

    Now, whether or not these exact quotes were, in fact, said by these men, they still reflect certain truths throughout history.

    In our own nation, what began over one century ago, with the establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913, through the dishonest weights and measures of Fractional Reserve Banking, has decimated the purchasing power of our currency, and through exponentially-grown debt has, indeed, enslaved our nation’s children on the land of our ancestors.

    Moreover, by means of banker subsidized wars around the world and a sinister agenda of global conquest through what is known as the Hegelian Dialectic, sovereign nation states are now held hostage by a small but powerful cabal in control of the Bank of International Settlements.

    These banking elites are beholden only to themselves as they seek to establish what they have called a New World Order.

    Since the assassination of John F. Kennedy and followed by the Nixon Shockthat removed America’s currency from the gold standard, thus began the decline of our nation’s manufacturing base, as military engagements were openly, and covertly, executed around the globe.

    Furthermore, over the past four decades, our educational system was subverted in order to dumb down our citizenry, and governmental welfare programs were expanded until now, today, the majority of American citizens have been lulled into a contented slumber via phony prosperity, faux money, fake news and an arbitrarily immoral code of political correctness.

    Through the financial acquisition and consolidation of the nation’s media outlets and entertainment venues, and via the steady barrage of consistent and hypnotic electronic programming, the globalists have hypnotized a majority of American voters to abandon their vigilance to our founding principles; and our borders.

    Affirmation of rights derived from natural law, honesty, morality, self-reliance, equality of opportunity, fiscal responsibility, and limited government has now, through the degrading indoctrination of Cultural Marxism, been subordinated to counterfeit concerns over bathroom rights, skin color, and genitalia.

    Before the globalists can destroy America, they must first eradicate our identity.  And, this, my fellow Americans, goes to the very heart of our current gridlock in our nation’s capital which has resulted in our longest government shutdown in history.

    Can a nation exist without borders?  The answer to that question is, of course, “no”; because borders are necessary to geographically separate ideologically disparate countries of separate peoples and from each respective nation’s code of laws, economic system, and currency.

    But you see, this is not in the best interest of the global financial elite who desire one world order.  If one looks to history they will see how slavery is rooted in economics, and this, dear citizens, is what they, who would be our rulers, desire.

    Whether delivered by crony capitalism, communism, collectivism, leftism, socialism, or by any other name, it’s always the same:  An elite few who deceive the useful idiots within any population with promises of utopia and equality; yet always resulting in a short-lived wicked paradise for those select few and, invariably, delivered by means of poverty, death, and despair.

    I stand before you tonight, not as a politician, but as your president; a former international businessman envisioning a multilateral world of sovereign nations cooperating through fair trade and mutual respect for law and order. I seek to reestablish American liberty, her traditions of innovation and excellence; a beautiful city, shining.

    But, my political opponents – those who favor globalism, seek only power and control through centralization, regulations, and unjust laws designed to stifle individual achievement, autonomy, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    Today, my fellow Americans, the wall on our southern border is a line in the sand between those who stand with me and those who desire global hegemony.  For, you see, out of the chaos of a world in turmoil, the international elite seek to establish order.

    One world under them. A world without borders.

    Senator Chuck Schumer has recently stated that a wall won’t work while lamenting my proposed $5.7 billion of taxpayer funds.  He also called me a liar because I have said Mexico will pay for the wall.  So I ask you, my fellow Americans, do you believe Chuck actually cares about your money?

    If he did, he would realize that Mexico will pay for the wall by keeping their citizens in their own country instead of on America’s welfare rolls.

    Besides, if Senator Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats, and their globalist handlers, truly believed a great big, glorious wall on our southern border wouldn’t work, they’d allow me to build it.  Then, if it was ineffective, they could use the failure against me in 2020. But that’s not happening.  Do you know why? It’s because they all know a wall will work in assuring America’s sovereignty.  That’s why.

    The Bible’s First book of Kings, in chapter three, tells of two prostitutes who recently birthed children. When one woman’s baby died, she stole the other mother’s child.  When the matter was taken up with King Solomon, he instructed the women to cut the sole surviving baby in half. Of course, the child’s real mother spoke up first to prevent that madness.  In so doing, Solomon knew it was the real mother who spoke first and who had the child’s best interests at heart.

    This story speaks to motives and to honor.

    I seek to protect America’s borders in order to secure the future of America’s children.  Yet, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, other Democrats, and their globalist handlers, are willing to sacrifice the United States, and her progeny, for the sake of playing politics and power games.

    And what do I mean when I say these politicians are serving their globalist “handlers”?  Well, follow the money; and where the money is, there is power.

    In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, and the passing of the Patriot Act, the Global Technocrats have ceaselessly constructed an online framework of gatedoors and checkpoints ranging from facial recognition software, social media censorship, and a dystopian panopticon of total surveillance.

    Even as whistleblowers like Edward Snowden revealed the violations of American’s Fourth Amendment rights as, over the same period of time, law enforcement agencies were militarized all across this land.

    Just as technological breakthroughs in computing and the proliferation of “smart” communication and entertainment devices gave rise to government spying, it was not a very large leap of understanding to see how easy it would be too blackmail and control not only citizens, but government administrators, politicians, officials, and even judges around the globe:

    Is it any wonder why border laws are not enforced throughout the wealthy “democratic” nations of the world?  Or why U.S. politicians pass legislation against the will of those who voted for them?  Or why Chief Justice John Roberts passed the unconstitutional Obamacare mandate by calling it a tax?

    Dear citizens, I now fully understand Senator Chuck Schumer’s warning to me in his MSNBC interview on January 3rd, 2017 when he said:

    Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday to get back at you.

    Today’s modern manifestation of George Orwell’s INGSOC party, led by loyal uniparty U.S. Democrats and Neocon Republicans, have sought to control private lives, consolidate power, and restrict personal freedoms by weaponizing healthcare, welfare, FISA Courts, illegal immigration, anti-gun initiatives, and they’ve even made Vladimir Putin into a modern day incarnation of Orwell’s imaginary and infamous scapegoat, Emmanuel Goldstein.

    Today, the same people who have accused me of being homophobic, zenophobic, and islamophobic – have embraced a fraudulent special counsel investigation by which they now see imaginary Russians hiding in the shadows of every corner.

    From the time I announced my candidacy for President of the United States, I was ridiculed by the political establishment, Hollywood, and the Corporate Mainstream Media.  When it appeared that I could win, the U.S. Intelligence Agencies, under President Obama, spied on my campaign and set up members of my team for a grand scheme of entrapment arranged by former CIA Director, and perjurist, John Brennan; even as corrupt high-ranking officials in the FBI, like James Comey, arranged for Hillary Clinton’s crimes to be swept under the political rug.

    This phony Russian election hacking narrative then, in turn, provided cover for the Elite Powerbrokers to censor the free internet, allowed Barrack Obama to sign into law a “Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act”, let former National Security Advisor Susan Rice feloniously unmaskofficials in my administration, and forced my newly –appointed National  Security Advisor, Mike Flynn, to resign; even as my new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, was intimidated into recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

    Sessions’ recusal, of course, led to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint his former FBI co-conspirator, Robert Mueller, to investigate me.

    Over the last two years of my administration, the Russia investigation has dominated the headlines of media corporations owned by international financial elite, and comprising ninety percent of all news media outlets throughout our nation.

    We now know today the phony Russian dossier was fake opposition research paid for by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign.

    Still, two years later, the investigation continues.  And consider what has occurred over the last two years:  Every time news stories broke regarding what has become known as Spygate, Crossfire Hurricane, FISA Abuse, Fusion GPS, or the phony Russian Dossier – Mueller and Rosenstein would, in response, indict innocent Russians who would never see the inside of a courtroom, arrest my private attorney, or indict someone else affiliated with me like Carter Page, Paul Manafort, General Flynn, and others.

    On February 16, 2018 Mueller and Rosenstein charged thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian groups for meddling in U.S. elections. In that press conference, Rosenstein said the indictment contained NO allegations of collusion by members of my campaign or my administration.  Rosenstein also assured the nation there was NO “determination that elections were influenced as a result of Russian activities”.

    But, two days later, when conservative radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, on February 18, 2018, and conflated the Russian Investigation with President Obama’sspying on my campaign, what happened next?

    Two days after that, special counsel Mueller charged the son-in-law of a Russian oligarch who was an acquaintance of someone who once did business with someone who once chaired my campaign for a few months.

    Innuendo, accusations, headlines and sound bites. Move, countermove. Punch and counter punch.

    On April 3rd, 2018 reports of an August 2017 memo surfaced in the media showing illegal collusion between Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  The violation of special counsel law was in Rosenstein’s intentionally vague court filing with no specifics of facts to be investigated.  In essence, the memo revealed Rosenstein gave Mueller a blank check to investigate me illegally, and endlessly.  At the time, there were those in the media calling for both Rosenstein and Mueller to terminate the investigation.

    So what happened next?

    Less than a week later, in a manner unprecedented in all of American history, the FBI raided the office and residence a sitting president’s personal attorney.

    On June 7th, 2018 a top senate intelligence staffer was charged in a leak case where a New York Times reporter’s records were seized.  The very next day, in another vain attempt to add marginal credibility to his floundering quest, Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a fresh witness tampering indictment against my former campaign chair Paul Manafort and Russian citizen Konstantin Kilimnik.

    Innuendo, accusations, headlines and sound bites. Move, countermove. Punch and counter punch.

    That same month, after the release of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on Hillary Clinton’s e-mail investigation, five FBI officials were revealed to have colluded against me but none of their illicit actions were said to have been politically motivated. This, even though one of the agents exclaimed “viva le resistance”  after my election win. That agent was later hired by special counsel Robert Mueller.

    On the same day the Inspector General’s report was released, New York’s attorney general sued the Donald J. Trump Foundation, myself, and others, in order to dissolve the foundation for “persistent illegal conduct” over more than a decade.

    Innuendo, accusations, headlines and sound bites. Move, countermove. Punch and counter punch.

    Also the very next day after the FBI’s “den of thieves” were revealed in the IG Report, my former Campaign Chair, Paul Manafort, had his house arrest revoked and was sentenced to prison  for alleged witness tampering.

    Innuendo, accusations, headlines and sound bites. Move, countermove. Punch and counter punch.

    And on it goes; even after it was revealed that U.S. Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, abused the power of his office by threatening to subpoena the calls and texts of Congress in order to obstruct the Legislative Branch’s constitutionally mandated oversight of the DOJ and FBI.

    In July of 2018, in an effort to divert publicity away from the Capitol Hill testimony of disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok, and to subvert my efforts toward peace with Russia, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the Mueller Investigation’s single indictment of Twelve Russian intelligence officers for alleged election hacking in 2016.

    Innuendo, accusations, headlines and sound bites. Move, countermove. Punch and counter punch.

    Even though by August of 2018, it had become clear Obama’s former CIA Director John Brennan was the mastermind behind Spygate and many more media outlets were reporting it was Hillary Clinton and U.S. intelligence officials who colluded with Russians and others to entrap me.

    Even though a former FBI agent who “is ashamed of what the FBI has become” found it “absolutely preposterous”  that Deputy Director Rod Rosenstein was still in his position knowing that he signed off on the final FISA application to spy on me; especially in light of my then Attorney General having to recuse himself from the case.

    So I ask you tonight, my fellow Americans: 

    Why is Hillary Clinton’s payment to Fusion GPS not under investigation by Mueller and Rosenstein?

    Why has the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice downplayed, and even covered-up, Mrs. Clinton’s illegal use of private servers when she was President Obama’s Secretary of State, and the obstruction of justice involved with her illegally deleted e-mails?

    Why hasn’t former President Obama, former Secretary State Hillary Clinton, former FBI director Robert Mueller and former attorney general Eric Holder been called into account yet regarding the Uranium One scandal Why?  Especially when it involved the sale of a large percentage of America’s uranium deposits to Russia, the same country for which these same criminals have accused me of collusion.

    It is because they believe themselves to be above the law.

    These same criminals who created ISIS to destabilize the middle-east and create a mass migration crisis designed to destabilize the western nations of the northern hemisphere.  All of these criminals are puppets on strings pulled by those now creating anarchy so as to sift the nations into a New World Order.

    The elite bankers have sown seeds of economic chaos, including the subprime mortgage crisis a decade ago, only to be bailed out; which, in effect, transferred their debts onto the backs of the American taxpayers.  Debts, I might add, which were incurred as result of these same banker’s malicious malfeasance and greed.

    My dear citizens, it is also these same bankers who plan to become the founding fathers of the new and improved centralized and cashless world system.

    This is why we’ve seen eight Federal Reserve interest rate hikes since my election in 2016.

    The International Financial elite WANT the American economy to collapse.  In fact, they NEED it to collapse, because out of chaos comes order.

    This also explains why the globalists are now lusting after the guns of law-abiding American citizens.

    My fellow Americans, the globalists cannot allow you to defend yourselves against the tyranny of the state. It’s because this would inhibit their plans of establishing their New World Technocracy.

    In his 1991 book, “Behold a Pale Horse”, former United States Naval Intelligence Briefing Team member William Cooper warned of a secret initiative by our Central Intelligence Agency.  In this sinister plan, described by Cooper near three decades ago, a project called “Orion” was revealed whereby drugs and hypnosis were to be used on mental patients coerced into shooting children in schools. The plan was to inflame the antigun lobby and cause middle class Americans to beg their government “protectors” into obliterating the 2nd Amendment.

    – Cooper, Milton William. (1991). “Behold a Pale Horse”, Light Technology Publications, page 225

    And, look what’s happened since that time.  So many school shootings; and always occurring in similar ways.

    First, there is some sort of an active drill, either scheduled or ongoing, and then shots are fired.

    Within hours, the murderer is reported to be extremely troubled, if not insane, under psychiatric care and on psychotropic drugs, as several people claim they all “saw it coming”, or, in some instances, saying they are completely surprised that the person they knew could massacre so many.

    Next, prophetic postings placed prior on social media by the shooter are revealed. Of course, these are never discovered until it’s too late.  Most commonly, an AR-type or similar semi-automatic will have been used with the necessary large-capacity magazines.  This is because both semi-automatics and large-capacity magazines are highly coveted targets in the sites of the politicians and globalists hiding behind their own armed security on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations.

    And finally, we all know what happens next: The political establishment types like Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and others, all circle like methamphetamine -addled chickens clucking about “doing something” so “it never happens again”.

    My fellow Americans, don’t be fooled. This has happened according to plan and right on schedule.

    In the aftermath of the Sandyhook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama issued 23 executive actions and proposed 19 legislative actions.  After the Virginia Tech shooting new rules were passed that allowed the Social Security Administration to provide information to the gun background check system of people with “mental disabilities”. After Vegas and Parkland, it was bump-stocks.

    Do you see a pattern?

    But even more sinister is how the captive media will use these types of crisis events to change the national conversation away from the Democratic Party embarrassments that perform poorly in focus group polling and in the media.

    For example, immediately prior to the midterm elections last fall, Brett Kavanuagh’s Supreme Court nomination process revealed the Democrats as lying rats and fools. That was when the captive media quickly switched channels to show the slow-motion Latin American invasion.  But when that backfired as well, what happened next?  An anti-semitic white nationalist shot up a synagogue in Pittsburgh and a Republican, with “Make America Great Again” stickers on his white van, was arrested for mailing explosive devices to my most prominent political opponents.

    REALLY, people?  REALLY?

    Well, my point is that many Americans today are very gullible.  And predictable too. Or at least the loony liberals who swallow ersatz pretense more vigorously than starving vegans ingurgitating Tofurky on Thanksgiving.

    So what happened next?  Of course, the Democrats won the House and here we are now with the longest government shutdown in American history.

    Certainly, these insane loons would have had much more difficulty winning if not for the never-ending propaganda spewed forth by the captive media, the bias of Google searches, and the censorship of social media platforms.

    But you see, my dear Americans, it’s no different than the way the Russian election-hacking lies have been propagandized over the real collusion of Spygate, Crossfire Hurricane, and FISA abuse.  The captive crony capitalist corporations ceaselessly shill their divisive deception around the world twice while the truth ties its shoes and gets slandered as fake news.

    But in spite of all that, I am still here representing those who voted for me; and, even, those who didn’t vote for me.

    This is why on Saturday, January 19, 2019 I announced my BRIDGE Act which included two offers to the Democrats in exchange for the $5.7 billion in funds for a border wall. First, I proposed an extension of DACA protections for Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, and, secondly, I offered to extend the legal status of Temporary Protected Status holders.

    Dear citizens, as you know, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said this was not a good faith effort on my part.

    So, in turn, I ask you, my fellow Americans:  What are they offering? What have they brought to the negotiation table in good faith?

    Nothing. Only more of the same.

    As I stand before you now, in this majestic chamber, speaking on your behalf, addressing your concerns, your hopes, and your dreams – know that your nation is at a crossroads.

    Since becoming your president, we’ve rapidly and radically changed the federal judiciary including two, soon to be three, new Supreme Court justices.  We’ve passed tax reform, repealed the individual mandate, and made progress in deregulation in spite of congressional gridlock.  We’ve cut government waste, defeated ISIS, and withdrew from the horrible and unfair Paris Climate Accord.

    Over the last year alone, in 2018, we’ve replaced NAFTA with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Deal, ended Obama’s terrible Iran Nuclear agreement, confronted China, increased minority jobs, raised middle class wages, and achieved record oil production.

    I have gone forward with a courageous vision and an honorable mission:  To make America great again for all Americans.

    With the help of those in the United States Senate, we’ve appointed judges who’ll interpret the Constitution as it was written, and we’ve added more circuit court judges than anyone believed possible.

    I’ve defended our Second Amendment and have acted to protect religious liberties.

    I’ve made real efforts toward immigration reform – towards ending chain migration and the visa lottery.  And, now, I’m standing strong against the globalist powerbrokers who seek to deny patriotic Americans their wall; a more-than-symbolic line in the sand against southern invaders seeking to make the Democratic Party, and also Islam, great again.

    Yes, ranchers have found Islamic prayer rugs on our southern border. This means while TSA agents are fondling your children at airport security gates, men with backpacks are entering this country unchecked, at the invitation of Democratic Party leaders like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.

    We need a wall on our southern border and, yes, it is a matter of national security.

    So, my fellow Americans, I stand here, on your behalf, against those escaping their own shithole countries, in order to turn America into a shithole country like the ones they just left behind.

    I stand against a Mainstream Media spewing enough shameless propaganda to cause George Orwell to blush in his grave.

    I stand against Democrats and Neocon Republicans, alike, who daily lick the boots of their elite globalist masters while governing against the will of liberty-loving Americans.

    I stand against those who are coming for your guns.

    I stand against those who would kill your children, as well as other children around the world, in order to consign America to the ash heap of history; and for no other reasons than to satisfy their insatiable greed and lust for power.

    I stand for the peace and harmony of the world’s sovereign nations.

    Winning will not be easy. On the contrary, it will be hard.  Very hard.

    To be sure, it will soon become even more difficult because it’s always darkest before the dawn.

    Let the sunlight shine into the dark.  Right now, in this very moment, I am authorizing the release to the general public, all FBI and DoJ documentation having to do with the Russian investigation.

    Let all of those on earth see how the bankers nearly stole the world.

    My Fellow Americans:  It’s not over.  We’re just getting started.

    Be assured the globalists will crash America’s economy prior to the next presidential election in 2020.  They will blame my trade policies and tax reforms.  But it will be the result of Fed tightening.  It’s always the Fed.  It’s always the bankers.

    America will never be defined by the greed of international financiers, corporate oligarchs, servile politicians, or a slavish media.

    You know who you are. Stay proud. Stay in the fight.

    We will not lose.

    By God almighty, we will not fail.

    Thank you, and God bless America.

    Published:1/20/2019 2:06:32 PM
    [Markets] Liberals Love FBI For Anti-Trump Crusade, Yet Agency Actively Avoided Hiring "Progressives" For Years

    While the left in America has largely thrown their support behind the FBI over its years-long investigation of Donald Trump, one former official admitted to Fox News' Tucker Carlson that the agency actively worked to keep "progressives" out of the organization

    While discussing congressional investigations into Donald Trump's alleged Russian ties, former Deputy Assistant Director of Counterterrorism, Terry Turchie, disclosed that part of his "mission" at the FBI was to keep "progressives" and "socialists" out of the agency. 

    "The electorate in some places is putting more and progressives and self-described socialists in positions," said Turchie. "And, ironically, years ago – when I first got into the FBI – one of the missions of the FBI in its counterintelligence efforts was to try to keep these people out of government."

    Why? 

    "Because we would end up with massive disfunction, and massive disinformation and massive misinformation. And it seems to me that's where we're at today"

    "Neoliberal centrist Democrats have portrayed the FBI as the Resistance™?, while its former leaders are openly boasting of how they waged counterintelligence campaigns against the left," noted journalist Ben Norton. 

    Others suggested that the FBI's mission, "for decades" has been using covert operations against domestic political groups since its inception using COINTELPRO.

    In this case, according to Turchie, the FBI itself has been "infiltrated" by progressives. 

    Published:1/20/2019 11:35:14 AM
    [Crime] FISA Warrant Bombshell: Bruce Ohr Warned DOJ and FBI That Steele Dossier was Unverified and Paid for by Clinton

    Fox News as well as others have confirmed through transcripts of Bruce Ohr’s closed-door testimony before the House Oversight and Judiciary Committee.

    The post FISA Warrant Bombshell: Bruce Ohr Warned DOJ and FBI That Steele Dossier was Unverified and Paid for by Clinton appeared first on Godfather Politics.

    Published:1/19/2019 4:31:50 PM
    [Crime] FISA Warrant Bombshell: Bruce Ohr Warned DOJ and FBI That Steele Dossier was Unverified and Paid for by Clinton

    Fox News as well as others have confirmed through transcripts of Bruce Ohr’s closed-door testimony before the House Oversight and Judiciary Committee.

    The post FISA Warrant Bombshell: Bruce Ohr Warned DOJ and FBI That Steele Dossier was Unverified and Paid for by Clinton appeared first on Godfather Politics.

    Published:1/19/2019 4:31:50 PM
    [Markets] Decentralization Is The Solution To The Government Shutdown Problem

    Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

    The partial shutdown with the federal government has helped, perhaps more than any other recent political event, to illustrate some of the biggest problems that come with centralizing an ever-larger number of government activities within a single, centralized institution.

    Were the US government more decentralized, we'd not now be facing a nationwide systemic failure that has continues to cripple the private sector in many ways.

    Held Hostage by a Shuttered Regulatory State

    The federalization of resources and regulatory power over the past century has created a situation in which numerous industries depend on licensing and regulatory approval from federal regulators to function. And yet, thanks to the shutdown, these industries can do little when facing a federal government that imposes mandates, but won't provide the agency "services" necessary to allow agencies to function under those mandates.

    For example, As The Washington Post has reported , those areas where the federal government has a large regulatory footprint — such as Alaska — are at the mercy of politicians thousands of miles away.

    Most (61 percent) of Alaska is government land managed by five different federal agenciesaccording to the congressional Research Service. The state’s main industries, including fishing, tourism and oil and gas, all depend on the day-to-day actions of federal workers and regulators.

    The fisheries have so far avoided major disruption, despite a few close calls. Most boats are still getting by on licenses and inspections which occurred before the shutdown.

    But time is running out. Major commercial boats are required to carry onboard observers to monitor their catch. But when they return from a trip, those observers must be debriefed by the National Marine Fisheries Service — and it’s not holding debriefings during the shutdown.

    Alaska is an extreme example, but other states that also have sizable federal ownership of land (which includes most western US states) are also affected. Nationwide, states with coastal states that depend on the smooth-functioning of federal regulation of fisheries and natural resources affected as well.

    And it doesn't end with natural resources. With the Tax and Trade Bureau shut down , breweries can't ship beer. That leaves an entire industry up in the air, and small craft brewers are affected the most. As the shutdown continues, more of these workers can expect their paychecks to eventually dry up due to a lack of revenue.

    Meanwhile, the FTC, the SEC, and the FCC are all partially shut down .

    Some anti-government activists might look at this and say, "great, we don't need those agencies anyway!" But here's the problem: although those agencies' staff members may be staying home, that doesn't mean the private sector is no longer subject to the mandates and regulations those agencies oversee. Private companies still must obtain all the usual licenses and regulatory approvals from federal agencies. It's jsut that federal agencies are no longer available to make approvals or answer questions.

    That's hardly something to celebrate.

    In short, all the usual federal roadblocks exist to stymie the private sector. Except now, there are even fewer ways to get around those roadblocks. What's even worse is that this problem is nationwide.

    Were these regulatory powers and agencies decentralized out of the hands of the federal government, of course, we wouldn't be looking at a nationwide problem. Were a single state to experience a "shutdown" — something that is extremely rare at the state level, by the way — we wouldn't now be facing a nationwide problem in which whole industries are facing crippling regulatory bottlenecks. Problems would be limited to single states. And those states that were prone to shutdowns or other regulatory bottlenecks would see an exodus of industry and capital.

    Nor would we be facing a situation in which 800,000 federal employees — nationwide — are currently unpaid. This is a problem that has been made much larger in scope by the centralization of government power.

    The Federal Government Has Too Many Issues on Its Plate

    Another reason to decentralize is to end a situation in which government shutdowns are more likely due to the broad scope and complexity of the federal budget and federal responsibilities.

    In the United States, the federal government's prerogatives have expanded over the past century to include everything from old-age pensions, to highways, to health care regulation, to farming subsidies, and much more. This has all been added on top of the more traditional federal prerogatives of foreign policy. It's only natural then that the likelihood of shutdowns would increase as the number of areas for political conflict increases.

    After all, the current shutdown does not come out of only a dispute over of a border wall. It is a larger issue that stems from the fact that the Democrats want to use the wall's potential funding for a myriad of other uses. And, the larger the federal government has grown, the possible targets for government spending has grown ever larger.

    Moreover, even the issue of building border walls was not always a federal issue. Prior to the late nineteenth century, state governments were the governments that dealt with the issue of limiting migrants in-flows. Although some conservatives now create ornate legal arguments in attempts to prove immigration — a separate issue from naturalization — has always been a job of the federal government, the actual historical experience makes it clear the federalization of immigration policy is itself a later innovation.

    So, we're now left with a federal government where the president and the legislature can argue endlessly over every little thing under the sun. If it's the federal government's job to control and fund everything from cancer research to national parks, then it's only matter of time until we endure a political impasse over one of the countless issues being discussed.

    Nor is it just the scope of issues. The sheer size and scope of the United States is itself problematic. The US is so large, and culturally and demographically diverse, that significant disagreements over how federal prerogatives ought to be used are inevitable. A less fragile and more responsive system grows out of a decentralized political system that allows for diversity in policies that affect travel, education, poverty relief, and more. If education policy, for instance, is decided at the state level, then we can be sure we'll never see a federal shutdown over funding of schools. It simply becomes a non-issue at the federal level.

    The Solution Lies in Decentralization

    The solution lies in removing from the federal government its authority over such a wide range of issues, and to allow diversity and localism in government. This naturally includes welfare programspublic landsairport securitylaw enforcementmilitary land forcesimmigration, and the regulatory state.

    As it is, American governmental institutions — being so dependent on federal funding and regulatory oversight — are now fragile, bloated, unresponsive, and prone to political bottlenecks. We now see this at work. 

    The problems we now encounter with the shutdown ought to placed squarely at the feet of those who have called endless for ever greater levels of federal control over state and local communities, while centralizing both financial and regulatory power under within a single institution. Not everything needs to turn into a nationwide systemic problem when the federal government encounters a political impasse. We ought to take steps now to limit the damage the feds can do.

    Published:1/19/2019 4:31:50 PM
    [Markets] "You Want To See A Stock Market Crash, Impeach Trump!" Warns President After Media Attacks

    President Trump on Saturday hit back at critics after several "hit pieces" over the last week generated repeated calls by Democrats for his impeachment - the latest being a Thursday night BuzzFeed report that Trump instructed his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie about a Trump Tower Moscow project. The BuzzFeed report was debunked as a fabrication the next day by special counsel Robert Mueller's office, but not before giddy Democrats ran wild with calls for Trump's ouster. 

    "The Economy is one of the best in our history, with unemployment at a 50 year low, and the Stock Market ready to again break a record (set by us many times) - & all you heard yesterday, based on a phony story, was Impeachment. You want to see a Stock Market Crash, Impeach Trump!" the President Tweeted Saturday morning. 

    The latest flood of anti-Trump news began on January 11 with a New York Times report that the FBI supercharged their investigation into whether Trump had wittingly or unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence after he fired FBI Director James Comey (at the recommendation of Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein). According to the report, agents and senior F.B.I. officials "had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign" but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude.

    One day after the NYT report, the Washington Post reported that Trump had "gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired." 

    Of course, buried in paragraph nine the Post admits: "No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials."

    Continuing the anti-Trump train was a Thursday report in the Wall Street Journal that President Trump instructed Michael Cohen to rig CNBC and Drudge polls in his favor. Cohen reportedly agreed to pay a small IT firm $50,000 to conduct the rigging, only to pay them in a bag of cash containing between $12,000 and $13,000 and a boxing glove that Cohen said had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter. 

    Cohen has disputed the account - but not the relationship with the IT firm - RedFinch or its CEO John Gauger, saying "All monies paid to Mr. Gauger were by check."

    Hilariously, in May 2016 Cohen also asked Gauger to create a Twitter account - @WomenForCohen, which was run by a female friend of Gauger and described Cohen as a "sex symbol," praising his looks and character, while promoting his appearances and statements boosting Trump's candidacy. 

    And while Gauger says he never received the rest of the $50,000 he was owed, Cohen still requested - and received - a $50,000 reimbursement from Donald Trump and his company for the work done by RedFinch, according to the Journal, citing a government document and a person familiar with the matter. The reimbursement - based on a handwritten note by Cohen, was paid largely out of Trump's personal account. 

    Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said that Cohen's full reimbursement for the $50,000 while paying RedFinch less shows the former Trump lawyer to be a thief. "If one thing has been established, it’s that Michael Cohen is completely untrustworthy," said Cohen. 

    And last but not least, of course, is the now-discredited BuzzFeed report alleging that Trump instructed Cohen to lie about Trump Tower Moscow.

    It's interesting how quickly the news cycle turned against Trump after he threatened to flex his presidential powers and declare a national emergency to fund his wall - right on the heels of a Syria pullout announcement which has been wildly unpopular with establishment war hawks.

    Published:1/19/2019 11:29:07 AM
    [Markets] "Everybody Knew" WSJ Exposes Bruce Ohr's Shocking Admission To The FBI

    The Wall Street Journal continues to counter  the  liberal mainstream media's Trump Derangement Syndrome, dropping uncomfortable truth-bombs and refusing to back off its intense pressure to get to the truth and hold those responsible, accountable (in a forum that is hard for the establishment to shrug off as 'Alt-Right' or 'Nazi' or be 'punished' by search- and social-media-giants).

    And once again Kimberley Strassel  - who by now has become the focus of social media attacks for her truth-seeking reporting - does it again. Confirming what we detailed yesterday - that The Justice Department was fully aware that the notorious Steele Dossier was connected to Hillary Clinton and might be biased, a crucial detail which was omitted just weeks later from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant used to spy on the Trump campaign - Strassel makes the aggressive and correct statement that the Justice Department official’s testimony raises new doubts about the bureau’s honesty.

    Via The Wall Street Journal,

    Everybody knew.

    Everybody of consequence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department understood fully in the middle of 2016 - as the FBI embarked on its counterintelligence probe of Donald Trump - that it was doing so based on disinformation provided by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

    That’s the big revelation from the transcript of the testimony Justice Department official Bruce Ohr gave Congress in August. The transcripts haven’t been released, but parts were confirmed for me by congressional sources.

    Mr. Ohr testified that he sat down with dossier author Christopher Steele on July 30, 2016, and received salacious information the opposition researcher had compiled on Mr. Trump. Mr. Ohr immediately took that to the FBI’s then-Deputy Director Andy McCabe and lawyer Lisa Page. In August he took it to Peter Strzok, the bureau’s lead investigator. In the same month, Mr. Ohr believes, he briefed senior personnel in the Justice Department’s criminal division: Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce Swartz, lawyer Zainab Ahmad and fraud unit head Andrew Weissman. The last two now work for special counsel Robert Mueller.

    More important, Mr. Ohr told this team the information came from the Clinton camp and warned that it was likely biased, certainly unproven.

    “When I provided [the Steele information] to the FBI, I tried to be clear that this is source information,” he testified.

    “I don’t know how reliable it is. You’re going to have to check it out and be aware. These guys were hired by somebody relating to—who’s related to the Clinton campaign, and be aware.”

    He said he told them that Mr. Steele was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected,” and that his own wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS, which compiled the dossier. He confirmed sounding all these warnings before the FBI filed its October application for a surveillance warrant against Carter Page. We broke some of this in August, though the transcript provides new detail.

    The FBI and Justice Department have gone to extraordinary lengths to muddy these details, with cover from Democrats and friendly journalists.

    A January 2017 memo from Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, flatly (and incorrectly) insisted “the FBI’s closely-held investigative team only received Steele’s reporting in mid-September.”

    A May 2018 New York Times report repeated that claim, saying Mr. Steele’s reports didn’t reach the “Crossfire Hurricane team,” which ran the counterintelligence investigation, until “mid-September.”

    This line was essential for upholding the claim that the dossier played no role in the unprecedented July 31, 2016, decision to investigate a presidential campaign. Former officials have insisted they rushed to take this dramatic step on the basis of a conversation involving a low-level campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, which took place in May, before the dossier officially came into the picture. And maybe that is the case. Yet now Mr. Ohr has testified that top personnel had dossier details around the time they opened the probe.

    The Ohr testimony is also further evidence that the FBI misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in its Page warrant application. We already knew the bureau failed to inform the court it knew the dossier had come from a rival campaign. But the FISA application additionally claimed the FBI was “unaware of any derogatory information pertaining” to Mr. Steele, that he was “reliable,” that his “reporting” in this case was “credible,” and that the FBI only “speculates” that Mr. Steele’s bosses “likely” wanted to “discredit” Mr. Trump.

    Speculates? Likely? Mr. Ohr makes clear FBI and Justice officials knew from the earliest days that Mr. Steele was working for the Clinton campaign, which had an obvious desire to discredit Mr. Trump. And Mr. Ohr specifically told investigators that they had every reason to worry Mr. Steele’s work product was tainted.

    Strassel concludes succinctly - and ominously for anyone who still believes that 'we, the people' have any freedom left, that the testimony has three other implications.

    First, it further demonstrates the accuracy of the House Intelligence Committee Republicans’ memo of 2018 - which noted Mr. Ohr’s role and pointed out that the FBI had not been honest about its knowledge of the dossier and failed to inform the court of Mrs. Ohr’s employment at Fusion GPS.

    Second, the testimony also destroys any remaining credibility of the Democratic response, in which Mr. Schiff and his colleagues claimed Mr. Ohr hadn’t met with the FBI or told them anything about his wife or about Mr. Steele’s bias until after the election.

    And third, the testimony raises new concerns about Mr. Mueller’s team. Critics have noted Mr. Weissman’s donations to Mrs. Clinton and his unseemly support of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates’s obstruction of Trump orders. It now turns out that senior Mueller players were central to the dossier scandal. The conflicts of interest boggle the mind.

    And Strassel concludes unequivocally, the Ohr testimony is evidence the FBI itself knows how seriously it erred. The FBI has been hiding and twisting facts from the start.

    Published:1/18/2019 7:57:31 PM
    [] Bruce Ohr Testified That He Repeatedly Told Senior DOJ and FBI Officials That the Dossier Was Suspect and Paid for By Hillary Clinton, But the DOJ and FBI Hid That From the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Anyway Trust your political commissars masquerading as law enforcement and intelligence officials. Virtually everyone at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department involved in the FBI's counterintelligence probe of candidate Donald Trump knew from the beginning that the investigation, dubbed... Published:1/18/2019 6:01:30 PM
    [World] [John K. Ross] Short Circuit: A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions

    Desperate circumstances, deceptive edits, and the rule of orderliness.

    Please enjoy the latest edition of Short Circuit, a weekly feature from the Institute for Justice.

    New on the Short Circuit podcast: No Fly List games and a pair of sovereign immunity cases. Click here for iTunes.

    • The D.C. Circuit continues to rule on a bevy of motions to pause proceedings while federal agencies lack funding thanks to the government shutdown. In one, the court will indeed hear arguments next week regarding whether the USDA violated open records law when, a few weeks after the most recent presidential inauguration, it pulled from its website a trove of documents concerning its inspection and licensing of animal research facilities. And in another, the parties must still brief whether Portland, Ore.'s use of airport revenue to pay the city's sewer, stormwater, and water bill (even though some of the costs are not incurred on the airport's behalf and do not directly benefit the airport) violates federal law. (A dissent is frustrated by the circuit's failure to settle on a principled way to decide the stay motions and believes this case should indeed be stayed.)
    • Man makes false statement on mortgage application, application for hunting license. But that was in the '90s; his troubles with the law are well behind him. Now he runs a successful business, and the bank he once attempted to deceive issues him credit. Nevertheless, as a convicted felon, he is banned by federal law from owning a firearm. A Second Amendment violation? The D.C. Circuit says no.
    • Banning people from using the internet is tantamount to exiling them from society, says the Second Circuit. So if the district court is going to impose that (as well as a ban on viewing legal porn) as a condition of supervised release, the court needs to explain how such a drastic measure is necessary to meet the goals of sentencing. Which it wasn't in the case at hand, even for a sex offender.
    • In August, the Third Circuit released a 142-page opinion that partially upheld the conviction of a Philadelphia politician (a former U.S. congressman) on corruption charges. (The decision also vacated some counts while reversing acquittals on others.) This week, the court released an amended opinion that comes in at 165 pages. The Short Circuit staff regrets it has no idea what's changed. (CA3blog notes the typeface is now larger.)
    • Many local governments use the FBI's background check system to carry out certain of their obligations under state law (like processing applications for firearm licenses). Yikes! Though federal law requires it, the Department of Defense consistently fails to provide data to the system. NYC, Philadelphia, and San Francisco: DOD, you must comply. Fourth Circuit: Alas, while the cities may use the system, they may not use the courts to compel the gov't to make that system more useful.
    • Pro-life activists pose as reps from fetal tissue company, surreptitiously record videos at Planned Parenthood. Texas officials: The videos revealed "numerous violations of generally accepted standards of medical practice," so no more Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood. District court: Can't do that. Fifth Circuit (including a picture of what seems to be fetal tissue): The district court needs to take a second look with more deference to Texas officials' findings. (Moreover, contra the district court, the videos were not deceptively edited. See footnote six.)
    • Allegation: Attorney suffered workplace harassment, retaliation, and discrimination at the hands of the Dallas, Tex. city attorney's office. Texas state courts kicked her case out for being untimely; normally this means that her federal case cannot continue, but a 38-year-old Fifth Circuit decision says that it can. What gives? Fifth Circuit: The rule of orderliness does not oblige us to esteem an old, "legally anomalous" case over decades of contrary precedent. "[D]isregarding on-point precedent in favor of an aberrational decision flouting that precedent is the antithesis of orderliness."
    • Law school grad does not take repeated bar rejections well, begins "a history of personally attacking decisionmakers whose decisions he does not like." That includes calling their employers, sending letters to their clients and friends, and picketing their offices. Sixth Circuit: And thus the Western District of Michigan didn't have to let the guy practice there. It's not what he was saying—it's how he said it.
    • Man is held for 58 days in Grant County, Ky. jail on a warrant for failure to pay child support. But call up Maury—he is not the father! So can he sue the officer who was holding him? Sixth Circuit: He cannot. The officer wasn't indifferent to the possibility of having the wrong guy.
    • Short-term rental hosts in Chicago must register with the city, acquire a business license, and comply with a host of other requirements and restrictions (including geographic eligibility; caps on the number of rentable units in a building; and health, safety, and reporting requirements). A nonprofit and individuals interested in renting (from or to others) sues, alleging the ordinance violates the First Amendment and 14th Amendment. Seventh Circuit: Dunno, but you'll have to go back to the district court to sort out whether the plaintiffs even have standing to bring this suit. We have grave doubts.
    • Allegation: Indianapolis detective arrests man for bludgeoning man's own octogenarian mother to death. But the detective's warrant application contains misstatements, omissions, and perhaps outright lies. (For instance, it states the son placed a call from his mother's house one hour before he says he found her. But he didn't; the call had been routed through a cell tower one time zone away.) Charges are dropped. The man sues the detective. Detective: Ah, but I get qualified immunity since the lies were not clearly material. Seventh Circuit: Absolutely not. To trial the case must go.
    • Wisconsin jury convicts man of threatening two state judges. Due to clerical error, man gets jurors' names and addresses. Yikes! After serving his time, man sends the jurors unsettling letters asking for their support in getting him a pardon. Double yikes. Another jury convicts him of multiple counts of stalking. And we will not disturb those convictions, says the Seventh Circuit, rejecting a battery of First, Sixth, and 14th Amendment arguments.
    • Allegation: City of Helena-West Helena, Ark. woman pays fines, but instead of documenting the payment, the Phillips County District Court clerk's office issues an arrest warrant against her for unpaid fines. She is arrested and her car towed before the mistake is discovered. She sues the city, alleging an unconstitutional policy of not documenting fine payments. District court: Aha! But the clerk is a state official, not a city official, so you shouldn't have sued the city. Eighth Circuit: Double aha! The law making Arkansas district courts part of state government wasn't fully implemented in Phillips County until 2017—after the alleged constitutional violations. So maybe the clerk was a city official after all. The case can proceed.
    • Allegation: Pretrial detainee was denied bed, slept on floor for his three-and-a-half-day stay at Los Angeles County jail facility. Can he sue the now-former sheriff? Nope, says the Ninth Circuit: exigent circumstances. Hundreds of inmates at facilities across the county were rioting at the time; jail staff had their hands full.
    • Pascua Yaqui, Ariz. cop pulls over car for speeding. Driver provides identification but front-seat passenger refuses demands for ID. And that refusal was not a constitutional basis for prolonging the traffic stop, says Ninth Circuit, so the six bullets later found in the passenger's pockets (giving rise to a felon-in-possession charge) should have been suppressed.
    • Fire breaks out at Tucson, Ariz. hotel in 1972, killing 29 people. A 16-year-old who was nearby is convicted "on the basis of little more than that proximity and trial evidence that 'black boys' like to set fires." Much later, evidence emerges suggesting that the fire was not caused by arson. (Prosecutors also allegedly withheld evidence of the same.) After 42 years of imprisonment, prosecutors offer him immediate release if he pleads guilty to the original charges. He accepts. Can he sue about the original prosecution? Ninth Circuit: No, he just pleaded guilty. Dissent: "Far from being the product of a new, constitutionally conducted second trial, [the man's] second conviction was the product of his desperate circumstances. In his 60's, he faced acceptance of the plea offer or waiting years for a habeas petition to work its way through the courts."

    On Wednesday, the Supreme Court held a spirited oral argument for Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association v. Blair, a case that offers the court the rare opportunity to scrutinize the 21st Amendment. In what could set a major precedent for how states can regulate wine and liquor, many of the justices sharply critiqued state laws that do little more than protect in-state businesses from outside competitors in the alcohol industry. Click here to read more.

    Published:1/18/2019 4:24:04 PM
    [Corruption] Bruce Ohr Warned DOJ & FBI Of Dossier Bias BEFORE Its Use For FISA Warrant

    Bruce Ohr warned before investigation took off, giving more credence to the president's claim the russiagate investigation is nothing but a witch-hunt.

    The post Bruce Ohr Warned DOJ & FBI Of Dossier Bias BEFORE Its Use For FISA Warrant appeared first on Godfather Politics.

    Published:1/18/2019 11:23:00 AM
    [Corruption] Bruce Ohr Warned DOJ & FBI Of Dossier Bias BEFORE Its Use For FISA Warrant

    Bruce Ohr warned before investigation took off, giving more credence to the president's claim the russiagate investigation is nothing but a witch-hunt.

    The post Bruce Ohr Warned DOJ & FBI Of Dossier Bias BEFORE Its Use For FISA Warrant appeared first on Godfather Politics.

    Published:1/18/2019 11:23:00 AM
    [Markets] Trump "Personally Instructed" Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About Moscow Project: BuzzFeed

    President Trump instructed his former longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to congress about negotiations to construct a Moscow Trump Tower, according to BuzzFeed, citing two federal law enforcement officials who leaked the information.

    Trump also supported a plan hatched by Cohen to visit Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign in order to personally meet Vladimir Putin to see if it would help get the project off the ground. "Make it happen," Trump allegedly told Cohen. 

    And even as Trump told the public he had no business deals with Russia, the sources said Trump and his children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project. -BuzzFeed

    According to BuzzFeed, Cohen told special counsel Robert Mueller that after the election, "Trump personally instructed him to lie" - by claiming that the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations had ended months before they actually had. The special counsel's office also allegedly learned about Trump's insructions to lie "through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents," which Cohen reportedly confirmed. 

    This revelation is not the first evidence to suggest the president may have attempted to obstruct the FBI and special counsel investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

    But Cohen's testimony marks a significant new frontier: It is the first known example of Trump explicitly telling a subordinate to lie directly about his own dealings with Russia. -BuzzFeed

     Trump repeatedly denied having any business interests in Russia while on the campaign trail - while simultaneously pushing for the Moscow project which he hoped could bring the Trump Organization profits in excess of $300 million. According to BuzzFeed, citing "two law enforcement sources," Trump had at least 10 face-to-face meetings with Cohen about the deal during the election. 

    Last year, BuzzFeed reported that Cohen associate (and FBI asset) Felix Sater continued to spearhead the Trump Tower Moscow idea through June 2016 - communicating with "Russian bankers, developers, and officials connected to the Kremlin." 

    Meanwhile, lawyers close to the Trump administration helped Cohen craft his Congressional testimony, including his draft statement to the Senate panel according to the report. This did not include former White House counsel DOn McGhan, who told BuzzFeed through an attorney: "Don McGahn had no involvement with or knowledge of Michael Cohen’s testimony. Nor was he aware of anyone in the White House Counsel’s Office who did."

    Following Cohen's guilty plea, the special counsel's office filed a memo in court vouching for his "credible" and "useful" information during seven interviews - adding that Cohen had provided details about his contacts with "persons connected to the White House" in 2017 and 2018. 

    According to BuzzFeed's law enforcement sources, Cohen confirmed that Trump directed him to lie to Congress, and that he had provided details of his conversations regarding Trump Tower Moscow with Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump - all three of whom have distanced themselves from the issue, claiming they had little knowledge of the negotiations. 

    Ivanka, however, was set to manage a spa at the tower and personally recommended an architect, according to the report. She also instructed Cohen to discuss the project with a Russian athlete who offered "synergy on a government level" in order to get the project moving. Cohen reportedly rebuffed Ivanka's suggestion to meet with the athlete, angering Ivanka according to emails reviewed by BuzzFeed

    But a picture of their deep involvement is now emerging, as FBI agents and prosecutors pore over witness interviews and internal documents from Cohen and other Trump Organization officials and executives.

    Trump was even made aware that Cohen was speaking to Russian government officials about the deal. The lawyer at one point spoke to a Kremlin aide as he sought support for the tower.

    Trump also encouraged Cohen to plan a trip to Russia during the campaign, where the candidate could meet face-to-face with Putin. -BuzzFeed

    Felix Sater, meanwhile, - a real estate developer, convicted felon and longtime asset for US intelligence agencies, tried to arrange a trip for Cohen to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum where he was to meet with top Russian government officials and bankers. In order to advance the deal, Cohen told Sater that Trump himself would also go to Russia after the Republican National Convention in July 2016. 

    Of course, buried towards the end of the story BuzzFeed notes "The trip to St. Petersburg never took place and the plans to build Trump Tower Moscow never came tor fruition."

    That said, "the negotiations occupy an important place in Mueler's investigation, as agents try to learn whether it is connected to the Kremlin's interferene campaign and whom Trump associates were in contact with to close the deal." 

    Trump, in his defense of the project, stated last November "There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?"

    Meanwhile, big questions remain over how involved Trump's children were in the project. 

    A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump's attorney wrote that she was only "minimally involved" in the project. "Ms. Trump did not know about this proposal until after a non-binding letter of intent had been signed, never talked to anyone outside the Organization about the proposal, never visited the prospective project site and, even internally, was only minimally involved," wrote Peter Mirijanian.

    Donald Trump Jr., meanwhile, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 7, 2017, that he was only “peripherally aware” of the plan to build a tower in Moscow. “Most of my knowledge has been gained since as it relates to hearing about it over the last few weeks.”

    The two law enforcement sources disputed this characterization and said that he and Cohen had multiple, detailed conversations on this subject during the campaign. -BuzzFeed

    Cohen is set to testify publicly before the Democrat controlled House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on February 7. 

    Published:1/17/2019 10:20:19 PM
    [White House Watch] Trump Attacks ‘Groveling’ Schumer For Comey Hypocrisy

    By Evie Fordham -

    President Donald Trump attacked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for flip-flopping on ex-FBI Director James Comey in a tweet Thursday. “So funny to watch Schumer groveling,” Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday. “He called for the firing of bad cop James Comey many times – UNTIL I FIRED HIM!” So funny ...

    Trump Attacks ‘Groveling’ Schumer For Comey Hypocrisy is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

    Published:1/17/2019 3:56:00 PM
    [Markets] Belarus Hooker Arrested In Moscow After Thailand Detention; Claims To Be Trump-Russia "Missing Link"

    A prostitute from Belarus and three associates were arrested at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on Thursday after being deported by Thailand following nearly a year in a Thai prison, according to Reuters. The four have been transferred to a police station, Interfax cited the Interior Ministry as reporting. 

    Anastasia Vashukevich

    27-year-old Anastasia Vashukevich - known better by the alias Nasta Rybka - was arrested in Thailand after a raid on her $600/head "sex training" seminar after claiming to be the "missing link" who can provide recorded evidence of a connection between President Trump and Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska - who the Trump administration slapped with harsh sanctions over Russian interference in the 2016 US election, along with three of his companies. 

    Deripaska agreed to partially divest from his companies, bringing his ownership below 50% in an agreement with the Treasury department which would see sanctions lifted on those entities - while remaining in place on Deripaska himself. The move has been met with sharp opposition in Congress, as 136 Republicans joined House Democrats to oppose the plan. 

    Oleg Deripaska

    Deripaska, who had business dealings with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, was rumored to be Donald Trump's "back channel" to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian oligarch hit back in September - admitting to "collusion" when he served as an FBI asset during the Obama administration. He has denied that Vashukevich was his mistress and accused her of fabricating the claims. 

    Throughout her detention in Thailand, Vashukevich somehow posted to her instagram account about her ordeal. In one post, she is said to have fallen ill, has no bed to sleep on, and has "frostbitten kidneys."

    Now they are kept in worse conditions. Concrete floor. No beds available. Food is only what they bring. The doctor did not call for Nastya. She frostbitten her kidneys. The condition is very poor. According to our eyewitnesses, someone from the Russian consulate worked on the Thai police. -Instagram (translated)

    Vashukevich claimed over Instagram that Moscow "will simply kill us if Thailand gives us to Russia.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    I appeal to all media, journalists who work using my materials to spread all the information and investigate this strange situation which shed the light on some topic that led to a worldwide political scandal.Russia has already reached  the Thai kingdom where police volunteers are afraid of this affair and afraide to be involved with it. And Thai immigration is dancing to the tune of Russia and in fact will simply kill us if Thailand gives us to Russia. We have no more money - we spent everything  on bail. If there is anybody who can help - please write to those contacts that we indicated.  ______________________________________________ ? ???????? ??? ???, ???????????, ??????? ???????? ????????? ??? ????????? ??????? ?? ?? ???? ???? ??????? ???? ??????? ?????? ? ???????? ????????????? ???????? ?????????????? ??? ?????????? ? ???????????? ??? ???????? ????. ?????? ?????? ??? ? ??????? ??????????? ? ??????? ????????? ? ??????? ?????? ????? ???? ? ??????????? ? ???. ? ??????? ?????????? ???? ?? ?????? ? ?????? ? ?? ???? ?????? ????? ??? ???? ?????? ??????. ????? ? ??? ?????? ??? - ?? ??? ????????? ?? ?????. ???? ???? ??, ??? ????? ?????? - ?????? ?????????? ?? ??? ?????????, ??????? ?? ?????????

    A post shared by ????? ????? (@nastya_rybka.ru) on

     

    “I am the only witness and the missing link in the connection between Russia and the U.S. elections - the long chain of Oleg Deripaska, Prikhodko, Manafort, and Trump," Vashukevich said in a live Instagram broadcast on last year, apparently filmed while being driven through the Thai resort city of Pattaya in an open-air police van. “In exchange for help from U.S. intelligence services and a guarantee of my safety, I am prepared to provide the necessary information to America or to Europe or to the country which can buy me out of Thai prison.” 

    In March, CNN flew to Bankgkok to interview Vashukevich - with the network's Ivan Watson reporting: "

    She described herself as a seductress. This woman claims to have evidence of Russian meddling in the U.S. election. The question, is this a desperate ploy to get out of jail, or as her friend claims, is this young woman truly in danger because she knows too much?"

    "For days several Russian friends have been held at this jail in the capital of Thailand where visitors are not allowed to bring cameras," Watson reports.

    "I came out of this detention center. It was loud and hot and chaotic and talking through the bars she says she witnessed meetings between the Russian billionaire and three Americans who she refused to name. He claims they discussed plans to effect the U.S. elections but she wouldn't give any further information because she fears she could be deported back to Russia."

    And now the "seductress" is sitting in a Moscow jail cell. 

    Published:1/17/2019 3:56:00 PM
    [In The News] Bruce Ohr Testimony Undercuts Adam Schiff’s Defense Of FBI |

    By Chuck Ross -

    Justice Department official Bruce Ohr’s testimony about his meetings with FBI officials regarding dossier author Christopher Steele severely undercuts claims made last year by California Rep. Adam Schiff and his fellow Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee. Ohr told lawmakers on Aug. 28 that he briefed top FBI officials Andrew ...

    Bruce Ohr Testimony Undercuts Adam Schiff’s Defense Of FBI | is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

    Published:1/17/2019 3:19:26 PM
    [Politics] REVEALED: Bruce Ohr actually WARNED the FBI that Steele’s dossier was connected to Hillary Clinton and might be BIASED It was reported last night in The Hill that at a mid-2016 briefing Bruce Ohr actually warned both the FBI and DOJ officials that Christopher Steele’s Russian dossier was the work of . . . Published:1/17/2019 10:17:53 AM
    [Politics] REVEALED: Bruce Ohr actually WARNED the FBI that Steele’s dossier was connected to Hillary Clinton and might be BIASED It was reported last night in The Hill that at a mid-2016 briefing Bruce Ohr actually warned both the FBI and DOJ officials that Christopher Steele’s Russian dossier was the work of . . . Published:1/17/2019 10:17:53 AM
    [] The Morning Report - 1/17/19 Good morning kids. Thursday and before we get to the continuing meshugas of the border wall and government shutdown theatrics, the FBI announced the arrest of a man who had evidently been plotting a terrorist attack using explosives on... Published:1/17/2019 7:27:34 AM
    [Markets] Top 10 Reasons Not To Love NATO

    Authored by David Swanson,

    The New York Times loves NATO, but should you?

    Judging by comments in social media and the real world, millions of people in the United States have gone from having little or no opinion on NATO, or from opposing NATO as the world’s biggest military force responsible for disastrous wars in places like Afghanistan (for Democrats) or Libya (for Republicans), to believing NATO to be a tremendous force for good in the world.

    I believe this notion to be propped up by a series of misconceptions that stand in dire need of correction.

    1. NATO is not a war-legalizing body, quite the opposite. NATO, like the United Nations, is an international institution that has something or other to do with war, but transferring the UN’s claimed authority to legalize a war to NATO has no support whatsoever in reality. The crime of attacking another nation maintains an absolutely unaltered legal status whether or not NATO is involved. Yet NATO is used within the U.S. and by other NATO members as cover to wage wars under the pretense that they are somehow more legal or acceptable. This misconception is not the only way in which NATO works against the rule of law. Placing a primarily-U.S. war under the banner of NATO also helps to prevent Congressional oversight of that war. Placing nuclear weapons in “non-nuclear” nations, in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty, is also excused with the claim that the nations are NATO members (so what?). And NATO, of course, assigns nations the responsibility to go to war if other nations go to war — a responsibility that requires them to be prepared for war, with all the damage such preparation does.

    2. NATO is not a defensive institution. According to the New York Times, NATO has “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” This is an article of faith, based on the unsubstantiated belief that Soviet and Russian aggression toward NATO members has existed for 70 years and that NATO has deterred it rather than provoked it. In violation of a promise made, NATO has expanded eastward, right up to the border of Russia, and installed missiles there. Russia has not done the reverse. The Soviet Union has, of course, ended. NATO has waged aggressive wars far from the North Atlantic, bombing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. NATO has added a partnership with Colombia, abandoning all pretense of its purpose being in the North Atlantic. No NATO member has been attacked or credibly threatened with attack, apart from small-scale non-state blowback from NATO’s wars of aggression.

    3. Trump is not trying to destroy NATO. Donald Trump, as a candidate and as U.S. President, has wondered aloud and even promised all kinds of things and, in many cases, the exact opposite as well. When it comes to actions, Trump has not taken any actions to limit or end or withdraw from NATO. He has demanded that NATO members buy more weapons, which is of course a horrible idea. Even in the realm of rhetoric, when European officials have discussed creating a European military, independent of the United States, Trump has replied by demanding that they instead support NATO.

    4. If Trump were trying to destroy NATO, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Trump has claimed to want to destroy lots of things, good and bad. Should I support NAFTA or corporate media or the Cold War or the F35 or anything at all, simply because some negative comment about it escapes Trump’s mouth? Should I cheer for every abuse ever committed by the CIA or the FBI because they investigate Trump? Should I long for hostility between nuclear-armed governments because Democrats claim Trump is a Russian agent? When Trump defies Russia to expand NATO, or to withdraw from a disarmament treaty or from an agreement with Iran, or to ship weapons to Ukraine, or to try to block Russian energy deals in Europe, or to oppose Russian initiatives on banning cyber-war or weapons in space, should I cheer for such consistent defiance of Trump’s Russian master, and do so simply because Russia is, so implausibly, his so-inept master? Or should I form my own opinion of things, including of NATO?

    5. Trump is not working for, and was not elected by, Russia.According to the New York Times, “Russia’s meddling in American elections and its efforts to prevent former satellite states from joining the alliance have aimed to weaken what it views as an enemy next door, the American officials said.” But are anonymous “American officials” really needed to acquire Russia’s openly expressed opinion that NATO is a threatening military alliance that has moved weapons and troops to states on Russia’s border? And has anyone produced the slightest documentation of the Russian government’s aims in an activity it has never admitted to, namely “meddling in American elections,” — an activity the United States has of course openly admitted to in regard to Russian elections? We have yet to see any evidence that Russia stole or otherwise acquired any of the Democratic Party emails that documented that party’s rigging of its primary elections in favor of Clinton over Sanders, or even any claim that the tiny amount of weird Facebook ads purchased by Russians could possibly have influenced the outcome of anything. Supposedly Trump is even serving Russia by demanding that Turkey not attack Kurds. But is using non-military means to discourage Turkish war-making necessarily the worst thing? Would it be if your favorite party or politician did it? If Trump encouraged a Turkish war, would that also be a bad thing because Trump did it, or would it be a bad thing for substantive reasons?

    6. If Trump were elected by and working for Russia, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Imagine if Boris Yeltsin were indebted to the United States and ended the Soviet Union. Would that tell us whether ending the Soviet Union was a good thing, or whether the Soviet Union was obsolete for serious reasons? If Trump were a Russian pawn and began reversing all of his policies on Russia to match that status, including restoring his support for the INF Treaty and engaging in major disarmament negotiations, and we ended up with a world of dramatically reduced military spending and nuclear armaments, with the possibility of all dying in a nuclear apocalypse significantly lowered, would that too simply be a bad thing because Trump?

    7. Russia is not a military threat to the world. That Russia would cheer NATO’s demise tells us nothing about whether we should cheer too. Numerous individuals and entities who indisputably helped to put Trump in the White House would dramatically oppose and others support NATO’s demise. We can’t go by their opinions either, since they don’t all agree. We really are obliged to think for ourselves. Russia is a heavily armed militarized nation that commits the crime of war not infrequently. Russia is a top weapons supplier to the world. All of that should be denounced for what it is, not because of who Russia is or who Trump is. But Russia spends a tiny fraction of what the United States does on militarism. Russia has been reducing its military spending each year, while the United States has been increasing its military spending. U.S. annual increases have sometimes exceeded Russia’s entire military budget. The United States has bombed nine nations in the past year, Russia one. The United States has troops in 175 nations, Russia in 3. Gallup and Pew find populations around the world viewing the United States, not Russia, as the top threat to peace in the world. Russia has asked to join NATO and the EU and been rejected, NATO members placing more value on Russia as an enemy. Anonymous U.S. military officials describe the current cold war as driven by weapons profits. Those profits are massive, and NATO now accounts for about three-quarters of military spending and weapons dealing on the globe.

    8. Crimea has not been seized. According to the New York Times, “American national security officials believe that Russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the United States and Europe after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Its goal was to upend NATO, which Moscow views as a threat.” Again we have an anonymous claim as to a goal of a government in committing an action that never occurred. We can be fairly certain such things are simply made up. The vote by the people of Crimea to re-join Russia is commonly called the Seizure of Crimea. This infamous seizure is hard to grasp. It involved a grand total of zero casualties. The vote itself has never been re-done. In fact, to my knowledge, not a single believer in the Seizure of Crimea has ever advocated for re-doing the vote. Coincidentally, polling has repeatedly found the people of Crimea to be happy with their vote. I’ve not seen any written or oral statement from Russia threatening war or violence in Crimea. If the threat was implicit, there remains the problem of being unable to find Crimeans who say they felt threatened. (Although I have seen reports of discrimination against Tartars during the past 4 years.) If the vote was influenced by the implicit threat, there remains the problem that polls consistently get the same result. Of course, a U.S.-backed coup had just occurred in Kiev, meaning that Crimea — just like a Honduran immigrant — was voting to secede from a coup government, by no means an action consistently frowned upon by the United States.

    9. NATO is not an engaged alternative to isolationism. The notion that supporting NATO is a way to cooperate with the world ignores superior non-deadly ways to cooperate with the world. A nonviolent, cooperative, treaty-joining, law-enforcing alternative to the imperialism-or-isolationism trap is no more difficult to think of or to act on than treating drug addiction or crime or poverty as reason to help people rather than to punish them. The opposite of bombing people is not ignoring them. The opposite of bombing people is embracing them. By the standards of the U.S. communications corporations Switzerland must be the most isolationist land because it doesn’t join in bombing anyone. The fact that it supports the rule of law and global cooperation, and hosts gatherings of nations seeking to work together is simply not relevant.

    10. April 4 belongs to Martin Luther King, Jr., not militarism. War is a leading contributor to the growing global refugee and climate crises, the basis for the militarization of the police, a top cause of the erosion of civil liberties, and a catalyst for racism and bigotry. A growing coalition is calling for the abolition of NATO, the promotion of peace, the redirection of resources to human and environmental needs, and the demilitarization of our cultures. Instead of celebrating NATO’s 70thanniversary, we’re celebrating peace on April 4, in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech against war on April 4, 1967, as well as his assassination on April 4, 1968.

    Published:1/17/2019 1:17:00 AM
    [6b89e63d-f8f8-53f3-ba33-e57e0631ed68] Judge Andrew Napolitano: Can the FBI really investigate President Trump? Can the FBI investigate the president? In a word: Yes. Here is the back story. Published:1/16/2019 11:21:14 PM
    [Markets] Dossier Shocker: Top DOJ Official Sounded Alarm, Warned Of Clinton Connection And Possible Bias

    The Justice Department was fully aware that the notorious Steele Dossier was connected to Hillary Clinton and might be biased - a crucial detail which was omitted just weeks later from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant used to spy on the Trump campaign, reports John Solomon of The Hill

    Bruce Ohr

    According to Solomon's sources - which have proven impeccable, the former #4 Department of Justice (DOJ) official, Bruce Ohr - who had extensive contact with Steele, briefed "both senior FBI and DOJ officials in summer 2016 about Christopher Steele's Russia dossier, explicitly cautioning that the British intelligence operative's work was opposition research connected to Hillary Clinton's campaign and might be biased.

    Ohr’s activities, chronicled in handwritten notes and congressional testimony I gleaned from sources, provide the most damning evidence to date that FBI and DOJ officials may have misled federal judges in October 2016 in their zeal to obtain the warrant targeting Trump adviser Carter Page just weeks before Election Day. -The Hill

    Ohr's activities also contradict a key argument made by House Democrats in their attempts to downplay the significance of the Steele Dossier; that the FBI claimed it was "unaware of any derogatory information" about Steele, and that the former MI6 operative was "never advised ... as to the motivation behind the research." The FBI further "speculates" that those who hired Steele were "likely looking for information to discredit" Trump's campaing. 

    There was no "speculation" going on by the FBI. Thanks to Ohr's warning, they absolutely knew about Steele's bias against Trump while working for a Clinton-funded project to gather harmful opposition research on him. 

    Ohr had firsthand knowledge about the motive and the client: He had just met with Steele on July 30, 2016, and Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS, the same firm employing Steele.

    “I certainly told the FBI that Fusion GPS was working with, doing opposition research on Donald Trump,” Ohr told congressional investigators, adding that he warned the FBI that Steele expressed bias during their conversations.

    I provided information to the FBI when I thought Christopher Steele was, as I said, desperate that Trump not be elected,” he added. “So, yes, of course I provided that to the FBI.” -The Hill

    When lawmakers pressed Ohr as to why he would volunteer that information to the FBI, he answered "In case there might be any kind of bias or anything like that," adding later "So when I provided it to the FBI, I tried to be clear that this is source information, I don’t know how reliable it is. You’re going to have to check it out and be aware."

    Ohr also says he told the FBI that his wife and Steele were working for Fusion GPS - the same firm hired by the Clinton campaign through intermediary law firm Perkins Coie, and that they were conduction Trump-Russia research at the behest of Clinton's camp.

    Glenn Simpson (left), Christopher Steele, Bruce and Nellie Ohr

    "These guys were hired by somebody relating to, who’s related to the Clinton campaign and be aware," Ohr told lawmakers, explaining how he warned the bureau. 

    Perkins Coie eventually admitted to paying Fusion GPS, disguising the payments as legal bills when it was in fact opposition research

    When Ohr was asked if he knew of any connection between the Steele Dossier and the DNC, he said he thought the project was really connected to the Clinton campaign, saying: "I didn’t know they were employed by the DNC but I certainly said yes that they were working for, you know, they were somehow working, associated with the Clinton campaign." 

    "I also told the FBI that my wife worked for Fusion GPS or was a contractor for GPS, Fusion GPS," he added. 

    Ohr divulged his first contact with the FBI was on July 31, 2016, when he reached out to then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and FBI attorney Lisa Page. He then was referred to the agents working Russia counterintelligence, including Peter Strzok, the now-fired agent who played a central role in starting the Trump collusion probe.

    But Ohr’s contacts about the Steele dossier weren’t limited to the FBI. He said in August 2016 — nearly two months before the FISA warrant was issued — that he was asked to conduct a briefing for senior Justice officials.

    Those he briefed included Andrew Weissmann, then the head of DOJ’s fraud section; Bruce Swartz, longtime head of DOJ’s international operations, and Zainab Ahmad, an accomplished terrorism prosecutor who, at the time, was assigned to work with Lynch as a senior counselor.

    Ahmad and Weissmann would go on to work for Mueller, the special prosecutor overseeing the Russia probe. -The Hill

    In early 2018, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee sought to downplay Ohr's connections to Steele during their investigation - insisiting Ohr only notified the FBI about Steele after Steele was fired by the FBI in November 2016 for improper contacts with the media. 

    The memo from House Democrats - led by Rep. Adam Schiff's (D-CA), says that Ohr's contact with the FBI only began "weeks after the election and more than a month after the Court approved the initial FISA application."

    Ohr's testimony refutes Schiff's memo, making clear he was in contact with FBI and DOJ officials long before the FISA warrant or the 2016 US election

    Not only that, "Ohr explicitly told the FBI that Steele was desperate to defeat the man he was investigating and was biased," according to Solomon, and the FBI didn't have to guess as to Steele's motives.

    Published:1/16/2019 10:14:12 PM
    [2019 News] Georgia man plotted attacks on White House, other DC sites, FBI says Georgia man plotted attacks on White House, other DC sites, FBI says.  Here’s a wakeup call for you boobs in Congress who don’t want a wall and want to import all the Muslims they can. We hope you heed it. Citing an affidavit, Taheb allegedly intended “to attack the White House, and other targets of opportunity […] Published:1/16/2019 10:01:36 PM
    [Markets] "I Don't Do Evidence" - Brennan, Comey, & Hoover-ing Trump

    Authored by Ray McGovern via ConsortiumNews.com,

    Was former FBI Director James Comey pulling a Hoover on Trump to keep him in line?

    For those interested in evidence — or the lack of it— regarding collusion between Russia and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, we can thank the usual Russia-gate promoters at The New York Times and CNN for inadvertently filling in some gaps in recent days.

    Stooping to a new low, Friday’s Times headline screamed: “F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia.” The second paragraph noted that FBI agents “sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.”

    Trump had been calling for better relations with Russia during his presidential campaign. As journalist Michael Tracy tweeted on Sunday, the Times report made it “not a stretch to say: the FBI criminally investigating Trump on the basis of the ‘national security threat’ he allegedly poses, with the ‘threat’ being his perceived policy preferences re: Russia, could constitute literal criminalization of deviation from foreign policy consensus.”

    On Monday night CNN talking heads, like former House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers, were expressing wistful hope that the FBI had more tangible evidence than Trump’s public statements to justify such an investigation. Meanwhile, they would withhold judgment regarding the Bureau’s highly unusual step.

    Evidence?

    NYT readers had to get down to paragraph 9 to read: “No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials.” Four paragraphs later, the Times’ writers noted that, “A vigorous debate has taken shape among former law enforcement officials … over whether FBI investigators overreacted.”

    Brennan: “I don’t do evidence.” (White House photo)

    That was what Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy was wondering when he grilled former CIA director John Brennan on May 23, 2017 on what evidence he had provided to the FBI to catalyze its investigation of Trump-Russia collusion.

    Brennan replied: “I don’t do evidence.”

    The best Brennan could do was repeat the substance of a clearly well-rehearsed statement: “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign … that required further investigation by the Bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”

    That was it.

    CNN joined the piling on Monday, quoting former FBI General Counsel James Baker in closed-door Congressional testimony to the effect that FBI officials were weighing “whether Trump was acting at the behest of [the Russians] and somehow following directions, somehow executing their will.” The problem is CNN also noted that Lisa Page, counsel to then FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe, testified that there had been “indecision in the Bureau as to whether there was sufficient predication to open [the investigation].’ “Predication” is another word for evidence.

    Within hours of Comey’s firing on May 9, 2017, Page’s boyfriend and a top FBI counterintelligence official, Peter Strzok texted her: “We need to open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy [McCabe] is acting [director].” After all, if Trump were bold enough, he could have appointed a new FBI director and who knew what might happen then. When Page appeared before Congress, she was reportedly asked what McCabe meant. She confirmed that his text was related to the Russia investigation into potential collusion.

    Comey v. Trump Goes Back to Jan. 6, 2017

    The Times and CNN, however unintentionally, have shed light on what ensued after Trump finally fired Comey. Apparently, it finally dawned on Trump that, on Jan. 6, 2017, Comey had treated him to thetime-honored initiation-rite-for-presidents-elect — with rubrics designed by former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

    It seems then-FBI Director James Comey rendered a good impersonation of Hoover that day when he briefed President-elect Trump on the scurrilous “Steele dossier” that the FBI had assembled on Trump. Excerpts from an interview Trump gave to the Times(below) after the firing throw light on what Trump says was at least part of his motivation to dump Comey.

    To dramatize the sensitivity of the dossier, Comey asked then-National Intelligence Director James Clapper and the heads of the CIA and NSA to depart the room at the Trump Tower, leaving Comey alone with the President-elect. The Gang of Four had already briefed Trump on the evidence-impoverished “Intelligence Community Assessment.” That “assessment” alleged that Putin himself ordered his minions to help Trump win. The dossier had been leaked to the media, which withheld it butBuzzfeed published it on Jan. 10.?

    ‘This Russia Thing’

    Evidently, it took Trump four months to fully realize he was being played, and that he couldn’t expect the “loyalty” he is said to have asked of Comey. So Trump fired Comey on May 9. Two days later hetold NBC’s Lester Holt:

    “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’”

    Comey: Pulled a Hoover on Trump? (Carciature by DonkeyHotey)

    The mainstream media and other Russia-gater aficionados immediately seized on “this Russian thing” as proof that Trump was trying to obstruct the investigation of alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. However, in the Holt interview Trump appeared to be reflecting on Comey’s J. Edgar Hoover-style, one-on-one gambit alone in the room with Trump.

    Would Comey really do a thing like that? Was the former FBI director protesting too much in his June 2017 testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee when he insisted he’d tried to make it clear to Trump that briefing him on the unverified but scurrilous information in the dossier wasn’t intended to be threatening. It tool a few months but it seems Trump figured out what he thought Comey was up to.

    Trump to NYT: ‘Leverage’ (aka Blackmail)

    In a long Oval Office interview with the Times on July 19, 2017, Trump said he thought Comey was trying to hold the dossier over his head.

    “…Look what they did to me with Russia, and it was totally phony stuff. … the dossier … Now, that was totally made-up stuff,” Trump said. “I went there [to Moscow] for one day for the Miss Universe contest, I turned around, I went back. It was so disgraceful. It was so disgraceful.

    “When he [James B. Comey] brought it [the dossier] to me, I said this is really made-up junk. I didn’t think about anything. I just thought about, man, this is such a phony deal. … I said, this is — honestly, it was so wrong, and they didn’t know I was just there for a very short period of time. It was so wrong, and I was with groups of people. It was so wrong that I really didn’t, I didn’t think about motive. I didn’t know what to think other than, this is really phony stuff.”

    The dossier, paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign and compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, relates a tale of Trump allegedly cavorting with prostitutes, who supposedly urinated on each other before the same bed the Obamas had slept in at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton hotel. [On February 6, 2018, The Washington Post reported that that part of the dossier was written Cody Shearer, a long-time Clinton operative and passed it along to Steele. Shearer ignored a request for comment from Consortium News. [Shearer had been a Consortium advisory board member who was asked to resign and left the board.]

    Trump told the Times: “I think [Comey] shared it so that I would — because the other three people [Clapper, Brennan, and Rogers] left, and he showed it to me. … So anyway, in my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there. … As leverage.

    “Yeah, I think so. In retrospect. In retrospect. You know, when he wrote me the letter, he said, ‘You have every right to fire me,’ blah blah blah. Right? He said, ‘You have every right to fire me.’ I said, that’s a very strange — you know, over the years, I’ve hired a lot of people, I’ve fired a lot of people. Nobody has ever written me a letter back that you have every right to fire me.”

    McGovern lays out more details during a 12-minute interview on Jan. 10 with Tyrel Ventura of “Watching the Hawks.”

    Published:1/16/2019 6:48:09 PM
    [Politics] BREAKING! 21-year-old ARRESTED for TERROR ATTACK on White House planned for tomorrow!! The FBI says they arrested a 21-year-old who was planning a terror attack on the White House, among other targets. And they have a name for the alleged creep: “Hasher Jallal Taheb” . . . Published:1/16/2019 6:20:13 PM
    [Markets] Georgia Man Arrested In Terror Plot To Attack White House With Anti-Tank Rocket

    Federal authorities on Wednesday announced the arrest of a Georgia man in a terror plot involving using an anti-tank rocket in an attack against federal buildings, including the White House, according to the Springfield News-Sun

    21-year-old Hasher Jallal Taheb of Cumming, Georgia was arrested in Gwinnett County, after which he appeared briefly in a downtown Atlanta courtroom in a case brought by the FBI. 

    "Taheb broadened his prospective targets in the Washington, D.C. area and indicated he wished to attack the Washington Monument, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and a specific synagogue," the complaint reads. 

    According to prosecutors, Taheb - who is believed to have been acting alone, reportedly spoke of traveling to territory controlled by the Islamic State.

    Accoring to AJC.com Taheb allegedly put his vehicle up for sale, at which point an FBI informant reached out to show interest - meeting with him days later. 

    The criminal complaint, which accuses him of plotting to destroy a government building, said a community member contacted law enforcement in March 2018 to say that Taheb had become radicalized. -AJC

    U.S. Attorney Byung Jin Pak said that Taheb is charged with "intent to destroy by fire or explosive a building owned, possessed or leased by the United States or any department or agency thereof, or any institution or organization receiving federal financial assistance," among other charges. 

    "His alleged intent was to attack the white house and other targets of opportunity in the Washington DC area by using explosive devices including an improvised explosive device, and an anti-tank rocket," said Pak.

    The case was initiated "after receiving a tip from the community." 

    Published:1/16/2019 5:42:43 PM
    [Politics] BREAKING! 21-year-old ARRESTED for TERROR ATTACK on White House planned for tomorrow!! The FBI says they arrested a 21-year-old who was planning a terror attack on the White House, among other targets. And they have a name for the alleged creep: “Hasher Jallal Taheb” . . . Published:1/16/2019 5:42:42 PM
    [Markets] Stockman Slams "Deep State Handmaid" NYTimes Over Trump Smear: "Are You F**king Kidding Me?"

    Authored by David Stockman via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

    The Donald has been on a red hot twitter rampage, and he's completely justified. Actually, we didn't think the Russian Collusion Hoax could get any stupider until we saw the New York Times' Friday evening bushwhack.

    The trio of authors, apparently self-tortured victims of the Trump Derangement Syndrome, actually had the gall to print a story in the once and former Gray Lady of journalistic rectitude which was nothing more than an ugly smear on the sitting President of the United States - one that would have done Joe McCarthy proud:

    In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as FBI director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

    The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.

    It doesn't get lower than that. The only thing that they didn't mention was presidential Treason, but it's hard to say that "working in behalf of Russia against American interests" would constitute anything less.

    So exactly what did the trio of wet behind the ears nincompoops at the New York Times—Adam Goldman, Michael Schmidt and Nicholas Fandos—dig up from the diarrhetic bowels of the FBI that warranted the above characterization?

    Why, it is apparently the following, which is surely a red hot smoking gun. That is, one that condemns the FBI, not Trump; and shows that the NYT, which once courageously published the Pentagon Papers and had earned the above sobriquet for its journalistic stateliness, sense of responsibility and possession of high virtue, has degenerated into a War Party shill—not to say the journalistic equivalent of a comfort woman: Mr. Trump had caught the attention of FBI counterintelligence agents when...

    ...he called on Russia during a campaign news conference in July 2016 to hack into the emails of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump had refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail, praising President Vladimir V. Putin. And investigators had watched with alarm as the Republican Party softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia.

    Well, for crying out loud!

    Any journalist worth his salt would know that Trump's July 2016 shout-out to the Russians was a campaign joke. At best, it was merely an attempt to cleverly state in one more way the running GOP theme about Hillary's missing 30,000 emails. How many times before that had Sean Hannity delivered his riff about Hillary's alleged hammer-smashing of 13 devices and acid-washing with BleachBit of the missing emails?

    More importantly, how in the world of constitutional government, free speech, and contested elections does Trump's refusal to criticize a foreign leader that we we're not at war with constitute something worthy of a counter-intelligence investigation by the FBI?

    Indeed, in the case of the Ukraine resolution at the GOP convention, the issue was about making the GOP's prior pro-Ukraine platform even more hawkish, which Trump thought was a bad idea on policy grounds.

    Besides, the Democratic platform ended up more dovish than the GOP's final wording. And, no, the FBI didn't think to investigate the Dems for being squishy soft on support for the crypto-Nazi's who took control of Ukraine during an illegal, US funded/supported coup on the street of Kiev in 2014.

    What we are saying is that the trio pictured  here—one of whom graduated from Harvard in 2015 and the other two not much older—don't seem to even know that foreign policy is a debatable issue. Or that the American people actually voted into office a candidate who took the other side of Imperial Washington's unwarranted demonization of Putin and made no bones about his desire for a rapprochement with Russia.

    Actually, as to pursuing rapprochement, so did: 

    • JFK, after the near catastrophe of the Cuban Missile Crisis; 

    • Lyndon Johnson, after the Seven Days War during his meeting with Kosygin at Glassboro NJ; 

    • Richard Nixon, with the ABM Treaty, detente and his visit with Brezhnev in Moscow; 

    • Jimmy Carter, when he signed the SALT-II agreement; 

    • Ronald Reagan, when he went to Moscow to virtually end the Cold War; and 

    • Bill Clinton, when he sent a multi-billion IMF aid package to Yeltsin to help him get re-elected in 1996. 

    The fact is, all of the above presidential policy initiatives were heatedly debated in Washington during a period when the US and Soviet Union each had roughly 9,000 nuclear warheads pointed at the other. But that did not lead to FBI counter-intelligence investigations of politicians—to say nothing of sitting Presidents—who took the "wrong" side of these thoroughly democratic debates.

    And that includes the outright "peace" candidacies of Gene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy in 1968 and George McGovern in 1972. Indeed, shortly thereafter it was the Church Committee in the US Senate that aggressively investigated the CIA and FBI, not the incipient Deep State which investigated the elected politicians of that era.

    Stated differently, Senator Lloyd Bentsen would have to said to the trio pictured below, "I knew Neil Sheehan, David Halberstam and Seymour Hersh—and you are no Sheehan/Halberstam/Hersh!"

    In that regard, your editor did not know the latter three personally back in the day. But those of us on the anti-war barricades during the Vietnam era read them assiduously; and we did not mistake their honest journalistic coverage of that calamitous foreign policy episode for Robert McNamara's lie-filled talking points and genocidal "body counts".

    Indeed, back in those days mainstream journalists tended to be the nemesis of the Deep State (yes, it has existed ever since WWII), not it's handmaid.

    For instance, in the 1980s Congressman Ed Boland's amendment stopped the effort of neocons in the Reagan Administration to undermine the duly elected "Sandinista" government of Nicaragua. But back then, the press went after the meddlers and interventionists in the national security bureaucracy, not Congressman Boland and the Congressional majority which voted to shackle the Deep State.

    In fact, several of the Reagan meddlers went to prison—not to sinecures at CNN or NBC.

    Moreover, the alleged "communist" threat in those days was on America's doorstep in central America, not thousands of miles away on Russia's doorstep, as in the case of the Ukraine and Crimea.

    Have the three knuckleheads ever read a history book?

    Do they not know, for instance, that there are virtually no Ukrainians in Crimea (the population is mainly Russian, Tartar etc.); that the latter was a integral province of Mother Russia for 171 years after it was purchased from the Ottomans by Catherine the Great in 1783; and that Crimea only was added as a territorial appendage to the Socialist Republic of the Ukraine in 1954 by the order of the Soviet Presidium as a door prize to the comrades in Kiev who had supported their favorite son, Nikita Khrushchev, in the bloody battle for Stalin's succession?

    Has it not occurred to them that when the scourge and historical anomaly of the Soviet Empire finally slithered off the pages of history that untangling the utterly artificial borders that had enslaved 350 million people might be a tad messy, and that the rump-state of Russia had a valid security interest in the manner in which it unfolded?

    Likewise, did they perchance ever read the strident warnings of the father of Soviet containment and NATO, Professor George Kennan, about the foolishness of extending NATO to the very borders of Russia; and especially after Bush the Elder and his Secretary of State, James Baker, had promised Gorbachev in 1989 that in return for his acquiescence to unification of Germany that NATO would not be extended by "a single inch" to the east?

    In fact, have they ever bothered to contemplate why NATO even exists any longer; or the anomaly of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization sending troops to the Hindu Kush to make war upon the Taliban tribesman who had actually defeated the Soviet Empire—and 27 years after the Soviet Union was no more?

    That is to say, in the whole ragged to-and-fro of post-Soviet eastern Europe and Washington's arrogant claim to sole superpower status, is it really so hard to see that there are two sides to the debate; and that dissent from Washington's hegemonic claim to say what can and can't happen in Kiev, the Donbas and Crimea is actually the more rational course, and certainly not tantamount to treason?

    Or consider what happened to Ronald Reagan's misbegotten infatuation with the Star Wars will-o-wisp of a nuclear shield. The latter had the military-industrial complex drooling over the implied trillions (in today's $) of funding, and the Deep State giddy
    with the thought that the putative Star Wars shield would unleash it from the bonds of MAD (mutual assured destruction) and thereby open the path t0 US global hegemony.

    Needless to say, the intrepid mainstream journalists of the 1980's still had the Sheehan/Halberstam/Hersh investigative spirit and courage about them. It did not take too many years for their exposes to make Star Wars the laughingstock it actually was, and for their rebukes to the Deep State narrative to embolden the bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill to essentially shut it down.

    At the end of the day, there is no other way to say it. The Goldman/Schmidt/Fandos types of the present era are not journalists at all; they are lazy, intellectually corrupted, mendacious stenographers of Imperial Washington's oppressive group think.

    After all, only a decade or two ago any journalist who typed the words "....whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence" would have suffered tremors and palpitations for the very phrasing of it.

    Don't these kids know them thar words is McCarthyite code for unmasking commie traitors?

    Here's the thing. Until the groupthink of the Imperial City congealed into what amounts to worship of the Warfare State after 9/11, any self-respecting journalist who discovered that the FBI had opened a counter-intelligence investigation of a sitting president for the preposterous reasons outlined in the NYT story would have been all over this insidious affront to constitutional government like a screaming banshee.

    That is, under what imaginable constitutional scheme does a second tier law enforcement agency have the prerogative to investigate the duly elected President because he fired the FBI director for good cause; rejected the prevailing anti-Russia foreign policy for solid reasons of national interest; and knew that the Russian collusion meme was Democrat sour grapes for loosing the election and said so publicly, loudly and frequently, as is his prerogative?

    In the old days, journalists often had the integrity and summoned the courage to speak truth to power. By contrast, the trio of sanctimonious brats pictured above were too lazy, stupid or mendacious to even connect the dots.

    That is, this ballyhooed counter-intelligence investigation was launched the very next day after Comey was fired by two of the most compromised people in the entire Obama Administration posse of anti-Trump election meddlers--if not criminals—led by former CIA director John Brennan.

    We are referring to the acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, later fired for leaking to the media and lying about it and his legal council, Lisa Page. After the release of literally tons of anti-Trump SMS messages with her lover-boy, the FBI agent Peter Strzok, over the past 12 months what kind of self-respecting journalists would not see the red flags flying in every direction?

    By now any one who knows how to Google, also knows or should know that Strzok and Page sent text messages that suggest they were discussing opening up a counterintelligence investigation against Trump even before Comey’s firing. And when it happened, their exchanges left no doubt:

    “And we need to open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy is acting,” Strzok wrote to Page on the day of Comey’s ouster.

    So there you have it. McCabe, Strzok and Page are Deep Staters if the term has any meaning at all. Yet here is why Lisa Page thought Trump was such a threat to national security that she and her colleagues were justified in unilaterally suspending the constitution and prosecuting the elected President of the people because they disagreed with his foreign policy positions.

    Indeed, by her own closed door testimony to the House committee (now leaked) it is obvious that Lisa Page is a light-weight numbskull when it comes to thinking about national security. For it turns out, she doesn't even claim that Russia is a military threat to America or that Putin has aggressive intents for territorial conquest.

    No, it seems his sin is that he doesn't embrace Washington's self-conferred role as the Indispensable Nation and may even be in mind of thwarting Washington's noble effort to spread "our democratic ideals" and bring the blessings of Coca-Cola, long pants and the ballot box to the otherwise benighted peoples of the planet.

    You only need a decent regard for the mayhem that the Washington War party has brought to the world—from the jungles of the Mekong Valley, to the Hindu Kush, to Mesopotamia, the Levant, North Africa and Latin America, too—to say are you f*cking kidding?

    'In the Russian Federation and in President Putin himself, you have an individual whose aim is to disrupt the Western alliance and whose aim is to make Western democracy more fractious in order to weaken our ability, America’s ability and the West’s ability to spread our democratic ideals,' Lisa Page, a former bureau lawyer, told House investigators in private testimony reviewed by The Times..... 'That’s the goal, to make us less of a moral authority to spread democratic values,' she added. Parts of her testimony were first reported in the Epoch Times.

    Many involved in the case viewed Russia as the chief threat to American democratic values.

    'With respect to Western ideals and who it is and what it is we stand for as Americans, Russia poses the most dangerous threat to that way of life,' Ms. Page told investigators for a joint House Judiciary and Oversight Committee investigation into Moscow’s election interference.

    As to the last bolded line, we will not bother to wonder how a pint-sized economy of $1.5 trillion compared to America's $20 trillion and all of NATO's $36 trillion, with a military budget of $61 billion compared to NATO $1.05 trillion, is going to do what Khrushchev failed to do—bury us!

    So we fully appreciate why the Donald is on the rampage...

    'Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!' the president tweeted.

    'Funny thing about James Comey,' he continued. 'Everybody wanted him fired, Republican and Democrat alike. After the rigged & botched Crooked Hillary investigation, where she was interviewed on July 4th Weekend, not recorded or sworn in, and where she said she didn’t know anything (a lie).'

    'the FBI was in complete turmoil (see N.Y. Post) because of Comey’s poor leadership and the way he handled the Clinton mess (not to mention his usurpation of powers from the Justice Department). My firing of James Comey was a great day for America.'

    "He was a Crooked Cop,” Saturday’s tweetstorm concluded, “who is being totally protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats – leaking machines who have NO interest in going after the Real Collusion (and much more) by Crooked Hillary Clinton, her Campaign, and the Democratic National Committee. Just Watch!” 

    ..., and in this instance, couldn't more wholeheartedly agree.

    Published:1/16/2019 10:09:48 AM
    [Markets] Federal Judge Orders Rhodes, Rice, & Other Obama Officials To Respond Over Clinton Benghazi/Email Scandal

    In what Judicial Watch describes as a "major victory for accountability," a federal judge ruled Tuesday that former national security adviser Susan Rice and former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes must answer written questions about the State Department's response to the deadly 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, as part of an ongoing legal battle over whether Hillary Clinton sought to deliberately evade public record laws by using a private email server while secretary of state.

    As Fox News' Samuel Chamberlain reports, the judge's order amounts to approval of a discovery plan he ordered last month. In that ruling, Lamberth wrote that Clinton's use of a private email account was "one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency" and said the response of the State and Justice Departments "smacks of outrageous misconduct."

    Judicial Watch announced last night that United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that discovery can begin in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers, and Clinton aides will now be deposed under oath. Senior officials - including Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap - will now have to answer Judicial Watch’s written questions under oath. The court rejected the DOJ and State Department’s objections to Judicial Watch’s court-ordered discovery plan. (The court, in ordering a discovery plan last month, ruledthat the Clinton email system was “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”)

    Judicial Watch’s discovery will seek answers to:

    • Whether Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a non-government email system;

    • whether the State Department’s efforts to settle this case beginning in late 2014 amounted to bad faith; and

    • whether the State Department adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.

    Discovery is scheduled to be completed within 120 days. The court will hold a post-discovery hearing to determine if Judicial Watch may also depose additional witnesses, including Clinton and her former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills.

    Judge Lamberth ordered written responses under oath to Judicial Watch’s questions from Obama administration senior officials Rice, Rhodes and Sullivan, and former FBI official Priestap. Rice and Rhodes will answer interrogatories under oath on the Benghazi scandal. Rejecting the State and Justice Department objections to discovery on the infamous Benghazi talking points, Judge Lamberth reiterated:

    Yet Rice’s talking points and State’s understanding of the attack play an unavoidably central role in this case: information about the points’ development and content, as well as their discussion and dissemination before and after Rice’s appearances could reveal unsearched, relevant records; State’s role in the points’ content and development could shed light on Clinton’s motives for shielding her emails from FOIA requesters or on State’s reluctance to search her emails.

    Judicial Watch also may serve interrogatories on Monica Hanley, a former staff member in the State Department’s Office of the Secretary, and on Lauren Jiloty, Clinton’s former special assistant.

    According to Lamberth’s order, regarding whether Clinton’s private email use while Secretary of State was an intentional attempt to evade FOIA, Judicial Watch may depose:

    Eric Boswell, the former Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security.… Boswell’s March 2009 memo to Mills … discusses security risks Clinton’s Blackberry use posed more generally. And Boswell personally discussed the memo with Clinton. So, he plainly has relevant information about that conversation and about his general knowledge of Clinton’s email use. Judicial Watch may depose Boswell.

    Justin Cooper. the Clinton Foundation employee who created the clintonemail.com server. In its proposal, Judicial Watch noted Cooper’s prior congressional testimony “appears to contradict portions of the testimony provided by Huma Abedin in the case before Judge Sullivan.” … Cooper repeatedly told Congress that Abedin helped set-up the Clintons’ private server, e.g., Examining Preservation of State Department Federal Records: [before a Congressional hearing] Abedin testified under oath she did not know about the server until six years later.… Judicial Watch may depose Cooper.

    Clarence Finney, the former deputy director of State’s Executive Secretariat staff…. [T]his case’s questions hinge on what specific State employees knew and when they knew it. As the principal advisor and records management expert responsible for controlling Clinton’s official correspondence and records, Finney’s knowledge is particularly relevant. And especially given the concerns about government misconduct that prompted this discovery, Judicial Watch’s ability to take his direct testimony and ask follow-up questions is critical.

    Additionally, Judicial Watch states that it seeks to go beyond cursory, second-hand testimony and directly ask Finney what he knew about Clinton’s email use. This includes asking about emails suggesting he knew about her private email use in 2014, and emails he received concerning a December 2012 FOIA request from Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington (CREW) regarding senior officials’ personal email use-topics State’s 30(b)(6) deposition in Judge Sullivan’s case never addressed. Judicial Watch may depose Finney.

    4. Heather Samuelson. the former State Department senior advisor who helped facilitate State’s receipt of Hillary Clinton’s emails.… [T]his case turns on what specific government employees knew and when they knew it. Judicial Watch must be able to take their direct testimony and ask them follow-up questions. Judicial Watch may depose Samuelson.

    5. Jacob Sullivan. Secretary Clinton’s former senior advisor and deputy Chief of Staff. The government does not oppose Sullivan’s deposition.

    Regarding whether the State Department’s settlement attempts that began in late 2014 amounted to “bad faith,” Judicial Watch was granted depositions from the State Department under Rule 30(b)(6); Finney; John Hackett, the former deputy director of State’s Office of Information Programs & Services; Gene Smilansky, an attorney-advisor within State’s Office of the Legal Advisor; Samuelson; and others.

    Judicial Watch was also granted interrogatories on whether the State Department adequately searched for responsive records, as well as several document requests.

    “In a major victory for accountability, Judge Lamberth today authorized Judicial Watch to take discovery on whether the Clinton email system evaded FOIA and whether the Benghazi scandal was one reason for keeping Mrs. Clinton’s email secret,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

    “Today, Judicial Watch issued document requests and other discovery to the State Department about the Clinton email scandal. Next up, we will begin questioning key witnesses under oath.

    The court-ordered discovery is the latest development in Judicial Watch’s July 2014 FOIA lawsuit filed after the U.S. Department of State failed to respond to a May 13, 2014 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)). Judicial Watch seeks:

    • Copies of any updates and/or talking points given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency concerning, regarding, or related to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

    • Any and all records or communications concerning, regarding, or relating to talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency.

    The Judicial Watch discovery plan was in response to a December 6, 2018, ruling by Judge Lamberth.

    Incredibly, Justice Department attorneys admit in a filing opposing Judicial Watch’s limited discovery that “Counsel for State contacted the counsel of some third parties that Plaintiff originally included in its draft discovery proposal to obtain their client’s position on being deposed.” This collusion occurred despite criticism from the Court that the DOJ engaged in “chicanery” to cover up misconduct and that career employees in the State and Justice Departments may have “colluded to scuttle public scrutiny of Clinton, skirt FOIA, and hoodwink this Court.”

    Judicial Watch countered that “[t]he government’s proposal, which is really nothing more than an opposition to [Judicial Watch’s] plan, demonstrates that it continues to reject any impropriety on its part and that it seeks to block any meaningful inquiry into its ‘outrageous misconduct.’”

    As a reminder, this Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit led directly to the disclosure of the Clinton email system in 2015.

    Published:1/16/2019 8:09:12 AM
    [Markets] Enemy Of The People?

    Via The Zman blog,

    There has never been a time when normal people did not know the media was biased and biased in a predictable direction. For every non-liberal in the media, there were at least ten liberals. The ratio was probably higher, but then, as now, some lefties liked to pretend they were independents or some third option.

    The media used to invest a lot of time denying they had a bias and an agenda, but the only people who believed them were on the Left, which had the odd effect of confirming they had a bias and an agenda.

    The thing is though, the media seemed like it was biased in a predictable way.

    In the 1980’s, for example, the newspapers featured stories about the so-called homeless crisis on a weekly basis. That’s when we went from calling them bums to pretending their only problem was a lack of shelter. Once Clinton assumed power, the homeless stories disappeared. It was a running joke for a long time, because it was so obvious, but also because it was so predictable. Everyone got the joke, except Lefty.

    As many have observed, the mask began to drop during the Clinton years when so many media members quit their jobs and went to work in the administration. It’s hard to maintain the illusion of independence when there is a revolving door between the media and left-wing political operations. That’s when CNN became known as the Clinton News Network, because they were so hilariously in the tank for them. Some tried to maintain the ruse, but any pretense of objectivity ended in the 1990’s.

    Again, there was still a sense that it was just bias and that it was predictable and therefore you could adjust for it. Today, that does not appear to be the case. The mainstream media has become advocates, but not necessarily advocates for the Progressive base of the Democratic coalition. They seem to be serving the agendas, financed by private parties operating off-stage. For example, sites like the Huffington Post and Daily Beast are about moral enforcement than news and current events.

    The recent harassment of Alex McNabb by Antifa member Christopher Mathias is a great example of the phenomenon. The Huffington Post provides him with a cover identity as a reporter, but in reality someone else is paying his way. His job is as a witch hunter, looking for anyone in violation of the blasphemy laws. This is a strange new phenomenon that does not have a corollary in the past. Even Woodward and Bernstein were legitimate reporters, even if Woodward had deep connections to the intelligence community.

    There’s an argument that this sort of religious advocacy is the natural result of the narrative journalism that evolved in the 1960’s and 1970’s. If you are going to report stories, the point is to inform. If you are going to spin tales, then the first goal is to entertain and there is nothing quite as a gripping as a morality tale. These doxxing stories are just campfire stories for the hard thumping loons of the far Left. The point of them is to tell the reader that they must be vigilant as heretics are everywhere.

    That’s probably true, but what about stories like this one, where it is clear the New York Times now has a whole department involved in explicit political advocacy. That is a highly organized effort to alter public policy. More important, it is a long term project, going back to the Obama years. The New York Times posted a database of gun owners, with an accompanying map, in a campaign to terrorize gun owners. This goes well beyond bias and even past the morality tales spun by the Huffington Post.

    It does not stop there. This story about the death of Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi takes advocacy to another level. As an aside, the story is written by Lee Smith, who was fired from The Weekly Standard by Bill Kristol. His crime was having uncovered Kristol’s involvement in the fake dossier the FBI was using to subvert Trump. The story of Khashoggi’s life and death reads like a Hollywood spy thriller, but it was not a CIA caper. It was an operation apparently run by the the Washington Post.

    We’ve come a long way from simple bias. The same media that can’t stop talking about Russian efforts to trick voters into voting the wrong way, was running a covert operation to trick the government into supporting Iran over Saudi Arabia. Unlike the Russians, the Washington Post actually killed someone or at least got someone killed. Unlike the Trump team, the Washington Post was actually working with a foreign country that is often viewed as hostile to American interests.

    Trump started calling the media the “enemy of the American people” but he seems to have dropped it for some reason. Maybe the media threatened him. Given what we are seeing, how long before Washington Post reporters are planting car bombs and spiking drinks with polonium? Whether or not they see Americans as the enemy is hard to know, but they certainly don’t see themselves as on the same team as Americans. While they may not be the enemies of the people, they are a short bus ride to that position.

    Published:1/15/2019 8:06:48 PM
    [Markets] Lawmakers Seek Updates As FBI's Former Top Lawyer Undergoes Active Criminal Investigation

    House Republicans revealed that the FBI's former top lawyer, James Baker, has been under active federal investigation for leaking information to the media. 

    A Monday letter from GOP Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows to Connecticut US attorney John Durham asks for an update on the leak probe. The investigation was revealed to Jordan and Meadows during Congressional investigations, when Baker's attorney, Daniel Levin, refused to let him answer lawmakers' questions. 

    "I’m sorry, I’m going to cut – not let him answer these questions right now," Levin interjected when Jordan asked about Baker's interactions with reporters. 

    "You may or may not know, he’s been the subject of a leak investigation which is still – a criminal leak investigation that’s still active at the Justice Department," Levin continued. 

    Meadows cut in, asking "You’re saying he’s under criminal investigation? That’s why you’re not letting him answer?" to which Levin replied "Yes." 

    While the subject of the media leaks is unknown, a confidential source told the Daily Caller's Chuck Ross that the leak investigation is a nothingburger. 

    "I’m 100 percent confident they did not find any wrongdoing," said the source, adding that the investigation discussed during the hearing "is not a new or reopened investigation" separate of the one reported in December 2017 by the Washington Post

    Levin’s exchange with Republicans followed after Baker discussed interactions he had with Mother Jones reporter David Corn, who met with dossier author Christopher Steele prior to the 2016 election.

    It is unclear what alleged leak Baker was under investigated for. A spokesman for Durham declined comment.

    Jordan then asked Baker whether reporters Franklin Foer and Michael Isikoff ever reached out to him. Both of the journalists reported stories about the Russia investigation. Isikoff, who co-authored a book with Corn, also met with Steele prior to the 2016 election.

    Levin blocked the line of inquiry about reporter contacts, saying: “I’m not going to have him answer any questions as asking about any interactions with the press.” -Daily Caller

    In July of 2017, Circa reported that Baker was under investigation for a leak of classified information pertaining to technology Yahoo Inc. possessed to collect upstream data. 

    Published:1/15/2019 7:35:23 PM
    [World] Tucker Carlson & Andrew McCarthy Discuss Fallout From FBI's Secret Trump-Russia Probe

    Andrew McCarthy said the FBI launching an investigation into whether President Trump was working on behalf of Russia was merely the formalization of a probe that had already been going on for more than a year.

    Published:1/15/2019 1:35:09 PM
    [Markets] Barr Says No "Witch Hunt" Against Trump; Shocked By FBI Agents' Texts About Trump

    President Trump's nominee for Attorney General, Bill Barr, told lawmakers during his confirmation hearings on Tuesday that he was "shocked" after reading anti-Trump text messages between former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and that he had never heard of the FBI launching a counterintelligence investigation on a President based on a political decision, as was reported last Friday by the New York Times

    When asked about the Special Counsel investigation headed up by his "best friend" Robert Mueller, Barr said "I don't believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt," and that "On my watch, Bob will be allowed to finish his work."  

    Last week Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) met with Barr, and said that the AG nominee has a "high opinion" of Mueller, and that Barr told him that he and Mueller worked together when Barr was Bush's attorney general between 1991 and 1993 when Mueller oversaw the DOJ's criminal division. Graham added that the two men were "best friends" who have known each other for 20 years, and that their wives have attended Bible study together. 

    Mueller also attended the weddings of two of Barr's daughters.

    Developing...

    Published:1/15/2019 10:03:07 AM
    [Politics] Giuliani Rips Reported FBI Probe of Trump Rudy Giuliani blasted a reported FBI investigation into whether President Donald Trump had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests. Published:1/15/2019 9:36:29 AM
    [Politics] Trump Slams 'So-Called Leaders of the FBI President Donald Trump sent out a tweet on Tuesday morning lashing out at the leadership of the FBI. Published:1/15/2019 8:32:38 AM
    [Donald Trump] Are you sure Alger done it this way? (Scott Johnson) The Sunday morning gabfests are turning into asylums a la Marat/Sade, without the pathos or human interest. This past Sunday they meditated deeply on President Trump’s non-denial denial that he was acting as a foreign agent for Russia. He had been posed the question on Saturday by Jeanine Pirro on Saturday evening, following up on the New York Times story disclosing that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation on Published:1/15/2019 6:02:11 AM
    [Politics] AG Nominee Sent Memo on Mueller Probe to Trump's Lawyers President Donald Trump's pick for attorney general sent White House lawyers a memo arguing that the president could not have obstructed justice by firing ex-FBI Director James Comey, describing a critical prong of the special counsel's Russia investigation as "fatally... Published:1/14/2019 9:33:14 PM
    [Markets] A History Lesson From Glenn Greenwald On The Dangers Of FBI-Manufactured Russophobia

    Last week the New York Times reported that after President Trump fired FBI director James Comey, the FBI decided to launch an investigation into whether President Trump's "own actions constituted a possible threat to national security," and "whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests." 

    Unsurprisingly, buried in paragraph nine is an admission that "no evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials." 

    As Glenn Greenwald notes in his latest piece in The Intercept, the FBI dangerously overstepped its authority by treating the President as a national security threat - and it's not the first time they've punished thought crimes that run counter to the establishment's worldview. What's worse, people are supporting the actions of an agency gone rogue - judging the actions of a duly elected US president. 

    The lack of any evidence of guilt has never dampened the excitement over Trump/Russia innuendo, and it certainly did not do so here. Beyond being construed as some sort of vindication for the most deranged version of Manchurian Candidate fantasies – because, after all, the FBI would never investigate anyone unless they were guilty – the FBI’s investigation of the President as a national security threat was also treated as some sort of unprecedented event in U.S. history. “This is, without exception, the worst scandal in the history of the United States,” pronounced NBC News’ resident ex-CIA operative, who – along with a large staple of former security state agents employed by that network – is now paid to “analyze” and shape the news.

    The FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Trump is far from the first time that the FBI has monitored, surveilled and investigated U.S. elected officials who the agency had decided haroberd suspect loyalties and were harming national security. The FBI specialized in such conduct for decades under J. Edgar Hoover, who ran the agency for 48 years and whose name the agency’s Washington headquarters continues to feature in its name. -The Intercept

    Greenwald points to the notable case of J. Edgar Hoover's lengthy counterintelligence investigation of progressive Henry Wallace during his time in Franklin Roosevelt's administration, and then as FDR's Vice President. Wallace's talk of peace with Russia following WWII caused the FBI to suspect that he was undermining "US interests" for the benefit of Moscow - and as a result, he was placed under extensive surveillance and investigation that remained unknown until 1983. 

    "the bureau opened Wallace’s mail, tapped his supporters’ telephones and used informers and agents to trail him in search of ”possible Communist or pro-Soviet ties,"" reads a 1983 New York Times article. 

    Nelson Rockefeller, left, chats with Senor Dr. Don Adrian Recinos, center, minister from Guatemala to the United States and Vice President Henry Wallace, right, at the National Press Club dinner party for Latin-American diplomats and leaders in Washington, D.C., April 19, 1941. AP

    The fact that Wallace was critical of Russian leader Josef Stalin was of no interest to his detractors at the FBI. His dovish dissent from prevailing US foreign policy orthodoxy in regards to Russia "made him a suspect in the eyes of the FBI as a possible "national security threat," a witting or unwitting Kremlin stooge or even as a traitor," Greenwald writes. 

    On that note - the New York Times' piece on Friday notes that the FBI "also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence." 

    Veteran journalist Carl Bernstein said on Sunday expanded on this peek into the changing narrative regarding the Trump-Russia investigation. Perhaps because no evidence of collusion exists - Bernstein suggested to CNN's "Reliable Sources" that Trump "has done what appears to be Putin’s goals," adding "He has helped Putin destabilize the United States and interfere in the election, no matter whether it was purposeful or not."

    In other words - Trump may be a Putin puppet without even knowing it, is the new narrative. 

    Back to Greenwald - who notes that the 1940s investigation of Henry Wallace has already been compared to Donald Trump by people who accuse him of being a Kremlin stooge, "often for the same reasons." 

    In October, 2016, Vox published an accusatory article about Henry Wallace by Will Moreland of the Brookings Institution designed to compare him to Trump when it came to potentially treasonous servitude toward Russia.

    Moreland claimed that Wallace “shares Trump’s fate of being too blinded by his self-messianic vision to realize he too had become a Kremlin pawn.” To justify this accusation, Moreland – citing Wallace’s 1946 pro-peace speech – explicitly compared Trump’s desire for better relations with Moscow to Wallace’s similar desire and used it to claim that both Wallace and Trump were Kremlin stooges and assets, whether “witting” or otherwise. -The Intercept

    Greenwald points out that the FBI "still refuses to release all of its investigative files on Wallace." 

    The FBI also chased after long-time liberal Senator and 1972 Democratic presidential hopeful George McGovern due to suspected Kremlin sympathies - and his criticism of the FBI

    Why this is dangerous to democracy

    An FBI that investigates domestic political figures whose loyalties are "suspicious" - and whose politics they consider a "national security threat" is both ominous and tyrannical, according to Greenwald. 

    It’s the FBI’s job to investigate possible crimes under the law or infiltration by foreign powers, not ideological sins. If a politician adopts policy views that are “threatening” to U.S. national security or which is unduly accommodating to America’s adversaries or “enemies,” that’s not a crime and the FBI thus has no business using its vast investigative powers against a politician who does that.

    That’s why it’s so easy to see that Hoover’s investigative scrutiny of Henry Wallace, and George McGovern, and an endless array of domestic dissenters, was so anti-democratic and dangerous. If a politician adopts “threatening” policy views or is too subservient toward or accommodating of a foreign adversary, it’s the job of the American voting public or Congress in its political oversight and lawmaking role to take action, not the FBI’s job to criminalize policy differences through investigations. -The Intercept

    The FBI's investigation of Trump is similarly "anti-democratic and dangerous" - and it should be plain to anyone "even if you're someone who hates Trump's overtures toward Russia or even believes that they are the by-product of excessive subservience to the Kremlin," Greenwald writes. 

    With the following caveat: "Obviously, if there is reason to suspect that actual crimes have been committed – such as, say, Trump officials collaborating with Russia to hack into email inboxes or otherwise engaging in illegal deals with foreign powers – then it’s not just permissible but vital that the FBI investigate such allegations."

    And Greenwald is careful to point out that he has been a "vigorous defender from the start of having a full-scale investigation into those allegations with the evidence publicly disclosed: so that we can know what happened rather than relying on self-serving, evidence-free, anonymous leak snippets laundered through MSNBC and the Washington Post."

    Read the rest of Greenwald's article here

    Published:1/14/2019 8:01:40 PM
    [] FBI's Pretext for Opening an Investigation Into Trump? The Theory (Quite Possibly Championed by James Comey) That Putin Called Trump to Tell Him "Fire That Son-of-a-Bitch Patriot and Righteous Beacon James Comey!!!" Unbelievable. The top echelons of the FBI, which themselves were threatened with the kompromat that they had engaged previously in illegal operations against a presidential candidate, decided that they had to investigated a Putin-Trump connection on the theory that James... Published:1/14/2019 6:00:40 PM
    [World] [Stewart Baker] Why the FBI's counterintelligence probe of President Trump should be investigated

    If no President is above the law, does that mean no President is above the FBI?

    Readers of this blog may be interested in my Lawfare post about the news that the FBI made President Trump the subject of a counterintelligence investigation after he fired their boss. My take:

    The political and bureaucratic motives mixed into this incident are reminiscent of the motives mixed into the decision to launch an investigation of Russia and the Trump campaign, the decision to rely on Christopher Steele's research despite his partisan funding, and the decision to interrogate national security adviser Michael Flynn in the slipperiest of fashions. There are reasons why all of these things might have seemed necessary to honest, committed cops just doing their job. But they also offer a roadmap for how to abuse counterintelligence authority to serve partisan ends—a roadmap that more or less begins where the civil liberties protections of the 1970s end.

    My concern is that we're not taking that risk seriously because so many former officials and commentators believe that President Trump deserves all this and more. Some of them still hope that the election of 2016 can be undone, or at least discredited. This leads to a perseverating focus on leaks and scraps from the investigation and a determined lack of concern about the investigation's sometimes tawdry origins. (Yes, I'm talking to you, #BabyCannon!)

    If we're going to prevent future scandals, we need to look at both. We need to know the answers to a lot of questions that are not being seriously addressed today: To what extent was politics involved in the decision to open the Trump-Russia investigation; to what extent did politics drive its direction; to what extent was politics involved in the Obama administration's transition intelligence leaks; and, finally, to what extent was politics involved in adding the president to the counterintelligence probe?

    The only independent review of any of these questions seems to be the investigation launched by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz. He's examining the FISA application for Carter Page. That's a good start, but it's only a start. It's a commonplace insight that President Trump's norm-defying conduct has triggered norm-defying payback by others. I'm sure we're going to learn about the first, but we can't ignore the second.

    It's time to expand the Horowitz inquiry, or something like it, into all of these events.

    Published:1/14/2019 5:29:50 PM
    [Markets] Welcome To The 'Wile E Coyote' Phase Of American History

    Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

    Hunting For Golem

    As another president once remarked in a different context - LBJ speaking to a hanger full of gruntsin Vietnam - “go on out there, boys, and nail that coonskin to the wall!” That was around the time the war was looking like a lost cause, with 1000 soldiers a month coming home in a box and even the Rotarians of Keokuk, Iowa, starting to doubt the official story of what exactly we thought we were doing over there. It was also, arguably, around the time America stopped being, ahem, “great” and commenced the long, nauseating slide into idiocracy and collapse.

    The news media has taken LBJ’s place in today’s Wile E. Coyote phase of our history, cheerleading the congressional hunt for the glittering golden scalp of You-Know-Who in the White House.

    They got all revved up on Friday in a New York Times front-page salvo with the headline: F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia. The purpose of this blast was to establish the high and grave seriousness of Robert Mueller’s Russia Collusion investigation, because otherwise the yarn has completely shed its credibility. Note: it was around paragraph nine in the story that the team of three Times reporters inserted the sentence that said, “No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials.” The idea, you see, was to simply drag the teetering narrative back onstage to titillate the paper’s Creative Classnik readership who desperately want to nail that Golden Golem of Greatness to the wall, scalp, paunch, tiny hands, and all.

    The CBS 60 Minutes Show took its turn last night with a puff piece on Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), incoming chairman of the House oversight Committee, which, CBS interlocutor Steve Kroft delighted in pointing out, “can investigate any [old] thing.” And so, Rep. Cummings will be the ringmaster of this new “Greatest Show on Earth,” aimed at climaxing in an orgasmic impeachment operation. Mr. Kroft could hardly contain his glee onscreen.

    The facts say something a bit different about the actual reality-based Russia Collusion case, namely, that it’s been a two-year smokescreen to cover the collective ass of a rogue leadership in the Department of Justice and its step-child, the FBI, who deliberately and repeatedly broke the law in dishonestly pursuing a way to annul the 2016 election result. It also reflects darkly on the Obama White House and its participation in all this huggermugger. Wads of information around this matter also came out in the past week — which you can be sure the news media would not touch — including congressional testimony from last July with former FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, revealing that the traffic controller for the so-called Steele Dossier was one John Carlin, Assistant Attorney General at the time, and formerly then-FBI Director Robert Mueller’s chief-of-staff. Ms. Page herself characterized Mr. Carlin as “a political appointee.” Was he Mr. Mueller’s clean-up man?

    What was there to clean up? For one thing, that the Steele Dossier was never properly verified when it was used as a predicate to commence spying operations against Mr. Trump and people who had worked for him in the campaign and afterwards. In fact, it was revealed last week that a file exists proving that the FBI didn’t follow verification procedures before the Dossier was submitted to the FISA courts for warrants to surveil the Trumpistas. Mr. Carlin’s role was also to coordinate the Hillary email investigation with then-AG Loretta Lynch and Barack Obama’s White House. He resigned shortly after then-NSA Director Michael S. Rogers was alerted that the FBI was abusing the NSA data-base to spy on Trump (as reported by Jeff Carlson at Themarketswork.com.)

    The purpose of the Russia Collusion narrative was to buy time for Mr. Mueller to come up with an obstruction of justice case on Mr. Trump, which was becoming increasingly difficult to do, and still apparently hasn’t been accomplished. Meanwhile, the actual malfeasance evidence against Mr. Mueller, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, and a long cast of characters mounts steadily and raises the question of when the spotlight will be turned on them, and who will throw the switch.

    Published:1/14/2019 3:32:08 PM
    [World] Ken Starr Slams FBI Investigation on Donald Trump: Another Sad Dimension of Bureaus Chapter

    Ken Starr said Monday that he was "absolutely stunned" to read that the FBI reportedly probed whether President Trump was working on behalf of Russia following the firing of James Comey.

    Published:1/14/2019 1:59:19 PM
    [896db78e-7d76-56a0-ba46-9069eff8311a] The brazen plot against Trump by the Obama FBI and DOJ continues, enabled by a complicit media The brazen plot against President Trump by the Obama FBI and DOJ continues, enabled by a complicit media. The odor of corruption has long been noxious. But the Democrats and media hold their collective noses. Published:1/14/2019 12:34:12 PM
    [World] Judge Napolitano: 'Historic Abuses' of FISA Law Used by FBI to Interfere With Trump Presidency

    Judge Napolitano said he believes "rogue elements" in the FBI abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in order to interfere with Donald Trump's presidency.

    Published:1/14/2019 11:27:32 AM
    [Politics] Conway: Reports Show Trump Right on 'Rogue Agents' Kellyanne Conway says a weekend report concerning the FBI's investigation into whether President Donald Trump was working with Russia instead confirms that the "deep state" had been working against him. Published:1/14/2019 9:27:22 AM
    [Politics] CNN: Transcripts Show FBI Debated If Trump Was Backing Russia Senior FBI officials, just after President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, discussed several possibilities concerning the president and Russia, including whether he was acting in ways to benefit Russia. Published:1/14/2019 7:00:10 AM
    [US Headlines] Trump Confesses: "I Took Orders from Moscow" The White House. Exclusive to The Spoof. After vigorously denying, in numerous tweets, the New York Times claim that the FBI investigated President Donald Trump as a possible Russian agent who acted on behalf of Russian oligarchs, the president today... Published:1/14/2019 3:05:33 AM
    [Politics] Pompeo dismisses ‘silly’ report that FBI probed Trump over Putin ties Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed as “silly” a news report that the FBI investigated President Trump to determine if he was a national security threat because of his relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. “The idea that’s contained in The New York Times story that President Trump was a threat to American national security... Published:1/13/2019 9:25:23 PM
    [Markets] Why The Manafort Revelation Is Not A Smoking Gun

    Authored by Aaron Maté via The Nation,

    Proponents of the Trump-Russia collusion theory wildly overstate their case, again...

    Partisans of the theory that Donald Trump conspired with the Kremlin to win the 2016 election believe that they have found their smoking gun. On Tuesday, defense attorneys inadvertently revealed that special counsel Robert Mueller has claimed that former Trump-campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied to prosecutors about sharing polling data with a Russian associate. Now we’re being told that the revelation “is the closest thing we have seen to collusion,” (former FBI agent Clint Watts), “makes the no-collusion scenario even more remote,” (New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait), and, “effectively end[s] the debate about whether there was ‘collusion.’” (Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall). But like prior developments in the Mueller probe that sparked similar declarations, the latest information about Manafort is hardly proof of collusion.

    According to an accidentally unredacted passage, Mueller believes that Manafort “lied about sharing polling data…related to the 2016 presidential campaign,” with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national who worked as Manafort’s fixer and translator in Ukraine. Manafort’s employment of Kilimnik has fueled speculation because Mueller has stated that Kilimnik has “ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016.”

    Yet Mueller’s only references that Kilmnik has Kremlin “ties” came in two court filings in 2017 and 2018, and it’s not clear what Mueller meant in either case. In April 2018, Manafort’s attorneys told a Virginia judge that they have made “multiple discovery requests” seeking any contacts between Manafort and “Russian intelligence officials,” but that the special counsel informed them that “there are no materials responsive to [those] requests.”

    Kilimnik insists that he has “no relation to the Russian or any other intelligence service.” According to a lengthy profile in The Atlantic, “insinuations” that Kilimnik has worked for Russian intelligence during his years in Ukraine “were never backed by more than a smattering of circumstantial evidence.” All of this has been lost on US media outlets, who routinely portray Kilimnik as a “Russian operative” or an “alleged Russian spy.”

    That same creative license that makes Kilimnik part of the Russian-intelligence apparatus is now being applied to the claim that Manafort shared polling data with Kilimnik. The New York Times initially reportedthat Manafort instructed Kilimnik in the spring of 2016 to forward the polling data to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian tycoon to whom Manafort owed a reported $20 million. The Times also reported that “[m]ost of the data was public,” but that didn’t stop pundits from letting their imaginations run wild.

    “Deripaska is close to Putin, and he has zero use for campaign data about a US election, other than to use it for the then on-going Russian campaign to elect Donald Trump,” wrote TPM’s Josh Marshall. “There is only on reason I can think of: to help direct the covert social-media propaganda campaign that Russian intelligence was running on Trump’s behalf,” declared The Washington Post’s Max Boot.

    The fervent speculation suffered a setback when it was revealed that the polling data was not intended to be passed to Deripaska or any other wealthy Russian. The New York Times corrected its story to inform us that Manafort actually wanted the polling data sent to two Ukrainian tycoons, Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov. That correction came long after viral tweets and articles from liberal outlets amplified the Times’ initial false claim about Deripaska. Most egregiously, New York magazine’s Chait doubled down on the initial error by incorrectly claiming that the Timeswas now reporting that Manafort’s intended recipient was “different Russian oligarchs.” For his part, Akhmetov says he “never requested nor received any polling data or any other information about the 2016 US elections” from Manafort or Kilimnik.

    That two Ukrainian tycoons were confused with a Russian one reflects a broader error that has transmuted Manafort’s business dealings in Ukraine into grounds for a Trump-Russia conspiracy. Because Manafort worked for Ukraine’s Russia-aligned Party of Regions, it is widely presumed that he was doing the Kremlin’s bidding. But internal documents and court testimony underscore that Manafort tried to push his client, then–Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, to enter the European Union and turn away from Russia. As Manafort’s former partner and current special-counsel witness Rick Gates testified in August, Manafort crafted “the strategy for helping Ukraine enter the European Union,” in the lead-up to the 2013-2014 Euromaidan crisis. The aims, Manafort explained in several memos, were to “[encourage] EU integration with Ukraine” so that the latter does not “fall to Russia,” and “reinforce the key geopolitical messaging of how ‘Europe and the U.S. should not risk losing Ukraine to Russia.’” As his strategy got underway, Manafort stressed to colleagues—including Kilimnik—the importance of promoting the “constant actions taken by the Govt of Ukraine to comply with Western demands” and “the changes made to comply with the EU Association Agreement,” the very agreement that Russia opposed.

    Rather than imagining it as part of some grand Trump-Russia conspiracy, there’s a more plausible explanation for why Manafort wanted public polling data to be forwarded to Ukrainian oligarchs. Manafort was heavily in debt when he joined Trump’s team. Being able to show former Ukrainian clients “that he was managing a winning candidate,” the Times noted, “would help [Manafort] collect money he claimed to be owed for his work on behalf of the Ukrainian parties.”

    All of this highlights another inconvenient fact about Mueller’s case against Manafort: It is not about Russia, but about tax, bank, and lobbying violations stemming from his time in Ukraine. The Virginia judge who presided over Manafort’s first trial said the charges against him “manifestly don’t have anything to do with the [2016] campaign or with Russian collusion.” The collusion probe, the DC judge in Manafort’s second trial concurred, was “wholly irrelevant” to these charges.

    The same could be argued about the entirety of Mueller’s indictments to date. Not a single Trump official has been accused of colluding with the Russian government or even of committing any crimes during the 2016 campaign. As The New York Times recently noted, “no public evidence has emerged showing that [Trump’s] campaign conspired with Russia.” The latest error-ridden hoopla generated by an inadvertent disclosure from Manafort’s attorneys does nothing to change that picture. If anything, it underscores that after two years there is still no strong case for Trump-Russia collusion—and that only shoddy evidentiary standards have misled its proponents into believing otherwise.

    Published:1/13/2019 8:24:08 PM
    [6e80ee38-dfb3-5673-8d26-a2fa6d517791] Mark Penn: FBI Trump-Russia investigation shows deep state was worse than we thought I guess no one in the FBI ever watched “The Apprentice.” Published:1/13/2019 2:54:24 PM
    [Politics] Ted Cruz: Senate Would Consider 'Any Allegations' Trump Is Russian Agent The Senate Judiciary Committee would "consider any allegations that come forward" about President Donald Trump reportedly working as an agent for Russia after the firing of ex-FBI Director James Comey, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Sunday.In an interview with NBC News' "Meet... Published:1/13/2019 12:56:02 PM
    [Politics] Jonathan Turley: FBI's 'Cognitive Bias' May Have Triggered Trump Russia Probe The entire Russia collusion vs. FBI corruption battle of narratives has proven to be a rush to judgment through "cognitive bias," legal expert Jonathan Turley wrote in an opinion piece for The Hill.And it all started with the FBI's use of the Democratic-funded dossier... Published:1/13/2019 11:25:15 AM
    [Politics] Lindsey Graham: Leaker on FBI Probe of President Had 'Agenda' The leaker of an explosive New York Times story had "an agenda" in disclosing an alleged FBI probe of of President Donald Trump after he fired ex-bureau director James Comey, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Sunday. Published:1/13/2019 9:53:42 AM
    [Markets] Trump "Couldn't Care Less" If Putin Conversation Becomes Public; Slams "Most Insulting Article" By NYT

    President Trump brushed off a report by the Washington Post stating that he "has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details" of his discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin - telling Fox News host Jeanine Pirro in a phone interview that he would be willing to release the details of a private conversation in Helsinki last summer. 

    "I would. I don't care," Trump told Pirro, adding: "I’m not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn't care less."

    "I mean, it’s so ridiculous, these people making up," Trump said of the WaPo report. 

    The president referred to his roughly two-hour dialogue with Putin in Helsinki — at which only the leaders and their translators were present — as “a great conversation” that included discussions about “securing Israel and lots of other things.”

    “I had a conversation like every president does,” Trump said Saturday. “You sit with the president of various countries. I do it with all countries.” -Politico 

    In July an attempt by House Democrats to subpoena Trump's Helsinki interpreter was quashed by Republicans. 

    "The Washington Post is almost as bad, or probably as bad, as the New York Times," Trump said.

    When Pirro asked Trump about a Friday night New York Times report that the FBI had opened an inquiry into whether he was working for Putin, Pirro asked Trump "Are you now or have you ever worked for Russia, Mr. President?" 

    "I think it's the most insulting thing I've ever been asked," Trump responded. "I think it's the most insulting article I've ever had written."

    Trump went on an epic tweetstorm Saturday following the Times article, defending his 2017 firing of former FBI Director James Comey, and tweeting that he has been "FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other President. At the same time, & as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. I fully expect that someday we will have good relations with Russia again!"

    Trump slammed the recent reports as "all nonsense."  

    Published:1/13/2019 9:53:42 AM
    [Markets] Trump: "I Haven't Left The White House Since The Shutdown Began"

    With the partial federal government shutdown entering its twenty-second day on Saturday - breaking a record set by a shutdown in late 1995 to become the longest in US history - President Trump called in to Judge Jeanine Pirro's show on Saturday night and revived his threat to declare a national emergency if Democrats don't accede to his demands to fund at least part of his proposed border wall.

    The shutdown began last month after Dems refused to support including $5.7 billion as part of a funding package for a handful of government agencies. They then reportedly rejected several compromise offers floated by the White House as Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced the wall as "immoral" and insisted that Dems wouldn't vote to support a single dollar of funding for one of Trump's core campaign promises.

    Since then, Trump has wavered on whether he should call a national emergency to order the Army Corps. of Engineers to build the wall. According to one widely reported plan under consideration, Trump could tap funding allocated for disaster-relief efforts to build an even larger segment of the wall than what he had asked Congress. Though on Friday, Trump said "I would rather not" declare a national emergency, saying he'd rather see Congress act on an issue that the president has framed as a "humanitarian crisis."

    Instead of departing for Mar-a-Lago for the holidays, Trump opted to spend the last weeks of December in the White House waiting for Democrats to come to the table and cut a table (a period that was distinguished by a stream of furious presidential tweets). During his interview with Pirro, Trump affirmed what anybody who has been paying attention to his twitter feed likely suspected: He has not left the White House since the shutdown began. 

    "I’ve been here virtually every night," Trump said.

    He then insisted that he has "the absolute right" to call a national emergency if the Democrats don't "return from their vacation and act" (a reference to a trip to Puerto Rico taken by 30 Democrats where they're meeting with lobbyists and seeing an exclusive production of "Hamilton".

    "I have the absolute right to call a national emergency," Trump reiterated, adding "I’d rather see the Democrats come back from their vacation and act." (The president may have been referring to reports that some 30 Democrats were in Puerto Rico this weekend, meeting with lobbyists and attending a special performance of the Broadway play "Hamilton.")

    But the president said he wanted to give Democrats the chance to "act responsibly".

    "I want to give them the chance to see if they can act responsibly...It’s a humanitarian crisis and its national security."

    With the shutdown on the cusp of entering its fourth week, some 800,000 federal workers on Friday received blank pay stubs, ratcheting up the political pressure on the administration to do something to end the shutdown, amounting to "bad politics" for the Dems (though opinion polling shows a majority of voters blame Trump for the shutdown after he said during a contentious meeting with Pelosi and Schumer that he would happily take responsibility for it).

    "They think its politics, I think its bad politics. This country wants to have protection at the border," Trump told Fox News.

    Trump also took a few minutes to respond to a pair of reports published in the New York Times and Washington Post alleging that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence operation into whether Trump was a Russian asset, and that Trump had concealed transcripts of his conversations with President Putin from other members of his administration (likely for fear that his comments would be leaked without context).

    A furious Trump blasted the NYT article as "the most insulting thing" ever written about him (admittedly a pretty high bar).

    "I think it’s the most insulting thing I have ever been asked," Trump said. "I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written and if you read the article you see that they found absolutely nothing."

    Trump said he would happily disclose details from his conversations with Putin, adding that "there was absolutely no conclusion."

    "I would. I don’t care," Trump told Pirro, about disclosing details of those talks. "I had a conversation like every president does. You sit with the president of various countries. I do it with all countries."

    "Here’s the bottom line," the president said. "There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. There was no anything. … It’s a witch hunt."

    Of course, any interview with Trump so close to the 2020 Iowa caucuses wouldn't be complete without a few stray jabs at the incipient Democratic competition. Asked by the crop of challengers so far, Trump said he's "not worried."

    And while VP Joe Biden appears to be leading the field, Trump described him as "weak".

    "I’m not worried. So far I love the competition. I love what I see," he said.

    [...]

    "He’s weak," Trump said of Biden.

    Watch the interview below:

    Published:1/13/2019 8:50:01 AM
    [341757db-8b3d-51f1-bbb0-a041310c0ad2] Andrew McCarthy: FBI Russia investigation was always about Trump On Friday night, the New York Times published what was clearly intended to be a blockbuster report that, following the firing of FBI director James Comey on May 9, 2017, the bureau formally opened an investigation of President Trump. Published:1/13/2019 8:20:10 AM
    [World] Terry Turchie Reacts to Rep. Eliot Engel's Plans to Form Committee to Investigate Trump

    Former FBI official Terry Turchie reacted Sunday on "Fox & Friends" to a top Democrat's plans to shut down a terrorism subcommittee in order to create one focused on investigating President Trump.

    Published:1/13/2019 7:55:55 AM
    [Politics] Trump Calls Report on FBI Probe of Him 'Most Insulting' President Donald Trump on Saturday called "most insulting" a published report that federal law enforcement officials were so concerned about his behavior in the days after he fired James Comey from the FBI that they opened an investigation into whether he had been working... Published:1/13/2019 7:24:09 AM
    [Donald Trump] Trump Fondly Recalls Firing Lyin’ James Comey “Total Sleaze”

    President Trump fondly recalled the day he fired former FBI Director James Comey after the news broke in the New York Times that the FBI reacted that day by opening an investigation of the president. Trump on Twitter that “Lyin’” James Comey was a “total sleaze” and a “crooked cop” who lead the FBI into “complete turmoil. Everybody ...

    The post Trump Fondly Recalls Firing Lyin’ James Comey “Total Sleaze” appeared first on Godfather Politics.

    Published:1/12/2019 8:20:43 PM
    [Donald Trump] Trump Fondly Recalls Firing Lyin’ James Comey “Total Sleaze”

    President Trump fondly recalled the day he fired former FBI Director James Comey after the news broke in the New York Times that the FBI reacted that day by opening an investigation of the president. Trump on Twitter that “Lyin’” James Comey was a “total sleaze” and a “crooked cop” who lead the FBI into “complete turmoil. Everybody ...

    The post Trump Fondly Recalls Firing Lyin’ James Comey “Total Sleaze” appeared first on Godfather Politics.

    Published:1/12/2019 8:20:43 PM
    [Markets] The War On Populism

    Authored by CJ Hopkins via The Unz Review,

    Remember when the War on Terror ended and the War on Populism began? That’s OK, no one else does.

    It happened in the Summer of 2016, also known as “the Summer of Fear.” The War on Terror was going splendidly. There had been a series of “terrorist attacks,” in Orlando, Nice, Würzberg, Munich, Reutlingen, Ansbach, and Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, each of them perpetrated by suddenly “self-radicalized” “lone wolf terrorists” (or “non-terrorist terrorists“) who had absolutely no connection to any type of organized terrorist groups prior to suddenly “self- radicalizing” themselves by consuming “terrorist content” on the Internet. It seemed we were entering a new and even more terrifying phase of the Global War on Terror, a phase in which anyone could be a “terrorist” and “terrorism” could mean almost anything.

    This broadening of the already virtually meaningless definition of “terrorism” was transpiring just in time for Obama to hand off the reins to Hillary Clinton, who everyone knew was going to be the next president, and who was going to have to bomb the crap out of Syria in response to the non-terrorist terrorist threat. The War on Terror (or, rather, “the series of persistent targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America,” as Obama rebranded it) was going to continue, probably forever. The Brexit referendum had just taken place, but no one had really digested that yet … and then Trump won the nomination.

    Like that scene in Orwell’s 1984 where the Party switches official enemies right in the middle of the Hate Week rally, the War on Terror was officially canceled and replaced by the War on Populism. Or … all right, it wasn’t quite that abrupt. But seriously, go back and scan the news. Note how the “Islamic terrorist threat” we had been conditioned to live in fear of on a daily basis since 2001 seemed to just vanish into thin air. Suddenly, the “existential threat” we were facing was “neo-nationalism,” “illiberalism,” or the pejorative designator du jour, “populism.”

    Here we are, two and a half years later, and “democracy” is under constant attack by a host of malevolent “populist” forces …. Russo-fascist Black vote suppressorsdebaucherous eau de Novichok assassinsBernie Sandersthe yellow-vested Frenchemboldened non-exploding mail bomb bombersJeremy Corbyn’s Nazi Death Cult, and brain-devouring Russian-Cubano crickets.

    The President of the United States is apparently both a Russian intelligence operative and literally the resurrection of Hitler. NBC and MSNBC have been officially merged with the CIA. The Guardian has dispensed with any pretense of journalism and is just making stories up out of whole cloth. Anyone who has ever visited Russia, or met with a Russian, or read a Russian novel, is on an “Enemies of Democracy” watch list (as is anyone refusing to vacation in Israel, which the Senate is now in the process of making mandatory for all U.S. citizens). Meanwhile, the “terrorists” are nowhere to be found, except for the terrorists we’ve been usingto attempt to overthrow the government of Bashar al Assad, the sadistic nerve-gassing Monster of Syria, who illegally invaded and conquered his own country in defiance of the “international community.”

    All this madness has something to do with “populism,” although it isn’t clear what. The leading theory is that the Russians are behind it. They’ve got some sort of hypno-technology (not to be confused with those brain-eating crickets) capable of manipulating the minds of … well, Black people, mostly, but not just Black people. Obviously, they are also controlling the French, who they have transformed into “racist, hate-filled liars” who are “attacking elected representatives, journalists, Jews, foreigners, and homosexuals,” according to French President Emmanuel Macron, the anointed “Golden Boy of Europe.” More terrifying still, Putin is now able to project words out of Trump’s mouth in real-time, literally using Trump’s head as a puppet, or like one of those Mission Impossible masks. (Rachel Maddow conclusively proved this by spending a couple of hours on Google comparing the words coming out of Trump’s mouth to words that had come out of Russian mouths, but had never come out of American mouths, which they turned out to be the exact same words, or pretty close to the exact same words!) Apparently, Putin’s master plan for Total Populist World Domination and Establishment of the Thousand Year Duginist Reich was to provoke the global capitalist ruling classes, the corporate media, and their credulous disciples into devolving into stark raving lunatics, or blithering idiots, or a combination of both.

    But, seriously, all that actually happened back in the Summer of 2016 was the global capitalist ruling classes recognized that they had a problem. The problem that they recognized they had (and continue to have, and are now acutely aware of) is that no one is enjoying global capitalism … except the global capitalist ruling classes. The whole smiley-happy, supranational, neo-feudal corporate empire concept is not going over very well with the masses, or at least not with the unwashed masses. People started voting for right-wing parties, and Brexit, and other “populist” measures (not because they had suddenly transformed into Nazis, but because the Right was acknowledging and exploiting their anger with the advance of global neoliberalism, while liberals and the Identity Politics Left were slow jamming the TPP with Obama and babbling about transgender bathrooms, and such).

    The global capitalist ruling classes needed to put a stop to that (i.e, the “populist” revolt, not the bathroom debate). So they suspended the Global War on Terror and launched the War on Populism. It was originally only meant to last until Hillary Clinton’s coronation, or the second Brexit referendum, then switch back to the War on Terror, but … well, weird things happen, and here we are.

    We’ll get back to the War on Terror, eventually … as the War on Populism is essentially just a temporary rebranding of it. In the end, it’s all the same counter-insurgency. When a system is globally hegemonic, as our current model of capitalism is, every war is a counter-insurgency (i.e., a campaign waged against an internal enemy), as there are no external enemies to fight. The “character” of the internal enemies might change (e.g., “Islamic terrorism,” “extremism,” “fascism,” “populism,” “Trumpism,” “Corbynism,” et cetera) but they are all insurgencies against the hegemonic system … which, in our case, is global capitalism, not the United States of America.

    The way I see it, the global capitalist ruling classes now have less than two years to put down this current “populist” insurgency. First and foremost, they need to get rid of Trump, who despite his bombastic nativist rhetoric is clearly no “hero of the common people,” nor any real threat to global capitalism, but who has become an anti-establishment symbol, like a walking, talking “fuck you” to both the American and global neoliberal elites. Then, they need to get a handle on Europe, which isn’t going to be particularly easy. What happens next in France will be telling, as will whatever becomes of Brexit … which I continue to believe will never actually happen, except perhaps in some purely nominal sense.

    And then there’s the battle for hearts and minds, which they’ve been furiously waging for the last two years, and which is only going to intensify. If you think things are batshit crazy now (which, clearly, they are), strap yourself in. What is coming is going to make COINTELPRO look like the work of some amateur meme-freak. The neoliberal corporate media, psy-ops like Integrity Initiative, Internet-censoring apps like NewsGuard, ShareBlue and other David Brock outfits, and a legion of mass hysteria generators will be relentlessly barraging our brains with absurdity, disinformation, and just outright lies (as will their counterparts on the Right, of course, in case you thought that they were any alternative). It’s going to get extremely zany.

    The good news is, by the time it’s all over and Trump has been dealt with, and normality restored, and the working classes put back in their places, we probably won’t remember that any of this happened. We’ll finally be able to sort out those bathrooms, and get back to paying the interest on our debts, and to living in more or less constant fear of an imminent devastating terrorist attack … and won’t that be an enormous relief?

    Published:1/12/2019 7:48:31 PM
    [Donald Trump] Tweeting Into the Void? (John Hinderaker) Both Paul and Scott have commented on the New York Times leak-story to the effect that after President Trump fired James Comey, the FBI opened an investigation into whether Trump was a Russian agent. You can’t make this stuff up! Today the president himself got into the act, denouncing the Times and the miscreants at the FBI: Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former Published:1/12/2019 7:21:54 PM
    [World] [Eugene Volokh] Illegal Aliens, Guns, and Strict Liability

    Federal law bans felons, illegal aliens, and others from knowingly possessing guns (or ammunition); does the government also have to show that the defendant knew he was a felon, illegal alien, or within some other prohibited category?

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court has just agreed to consider the question (which then-Judge Gorsuch had answered "yes" in an earlier opinion).

    Title 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) basically provides that, "It shall be unlawful for any person" who has a felony conviction, who is an illegal alien, or who belongs to some other categories, "to possess" or "receive" "any firearm or ammunition." Title 18 U.S.C. § 924(a) provides that such people shall be punished if they "knowingly violate[]" § 922(g).

    The "knowingly" requirement is often relevant when the question is whether someone knowingly possessed a gun. (Say the gun was in a bag they were carrying, and they claimed they were just carrying it for a friend and didn't know what was in it.) But what about the situations—admittedly rare ones—where the defendant claims he doesn't know that he has a disqualifying conviction, or that his right to remain in the country has lapsed, and he has turned from a formerly lawful visitor to an illegal alien?

    That's the question facing the Court in Rehaif v. U.S. Rehaif is a citizen of the United Arab Emirates, who was let into the country on a student visa to study mechanical engineering; he apparently failed out, which meant his visa expired as a result. But Rehaif stayed in the country, and went to a shooting range, where he rented a gun and bought ammunition. Six days later, an employee at the hotel at which Rehaif was staying called the police to say Rehaif was acting suspiciously; when an FBI agent came to speak to Rehaif, he learned about Rehaif's trip to the shooting range (at which he possessed a gun) and his continued possession of ammunition. Rehaif was prosecuted for both, on the theory that he was an illegal alien.

    There is some evidence that Rehaif knew he was no longer legally present: The university had e-mailed him to say that, and the agent claims that Rehaif had admitted as much. But Rehaif's lawyer says he wanted to argue that Rehaif hadn't read the e-mail, and that the agent was lying about the admission (the conversation had not been recorded). It's therefore important whether Rehaif's knowledge of his status is legally relevant, and that's what the Court is set to decide.

    Here, by the way, is what Justice Gorsuch said about the matter in U.S. v. Games-Perez, when he was stilled a Tenth Circuit judge; that case involved a man who claimed he didn't know he was a felon, which raises the same legal question:

    Mr. Games-Perez was prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2) for "knowingly violat[ing]" § 922(g), a statute that in turn prohibits (1) a convicted felon (2) from possessing a firearm (3) in interstate commerce. But to win a conviction under our governing panel precedent in United States v. Capps (10th Cir. 1996), the government had to prove only that Mr. Games-Perez knew he possessed a firearm, not that he also knew he was a convicted felon....

    [I]t is difficult to see how someone might "knowingly violate[]" § 922(g) without knowing he satisfies all the substantive elements that make his conduct criminal—especially the first substantive element Congress expressly identified. For the reader interested in more on all this, my concurring panel opinion offers it.

    For current purposes, just stating Capps's holding makes the problem clear enough: its interpretation—reading Congress's mens rea requirement [i.e., a requirement of a culpable mental state -EV] as leapfrogging over the first statutorily specified element and touching down only at the second listed element—defies grammatical gravity and linguistic logic. Ordinarily, after all, when a criminal statute introduces the elements of a crime with the word "knowingly," that mens rea requirement must be applied "to all the subsequently listed [substantive] elements of the crime."

    This court's failure to hold the government to its congressionally specified burden of proof means Mr. Games-Perez might very well be wrongfully imprisoned. After all, a state court judge repeatedly (if mistakenly) represented to him that the state court deferred judgment on which his current conviction hinges did not constitute a felony conviction. Given these repeated misstatements from the court itself, Mr. Games-Perez surely has a triable claim he didn't know his state court deferred judgment amounted to a felony conviction. Yet, because of our precedent in Capps, the government never had to face a trial on this question; it never had to prove its case that Mr. Games-Perez knew of his felon status. It was allowed instead to imprison him without the question even being asked.

    There can be fewer graver injustices in a society governed by the rule of law than imprisoning a man without requiring proof of his guilt under the written laws of the land. Yet that is what Capps permits, excusing the government from proving an essential element of the crime Congress recognized. When the case was before the panel, I was bound by Capps and forced by my duty to precedent to countenance its injustice. Now, though, the case is before the en banc court. Here, Capps does not control my vote or require the perpetuation of this wrong, and here I believe it should be overruled….

    The government seeks to defend Capps entirely on the basis of a legislative history exegesis found in the Fourth Circuit's divided decision in United States v. Langley (4th Cir. 1995) (en banc). According to the government, Langley shows that, although 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)'s predecessor statutes did not contain an explicit mens rea, courts interpreting them required the government to prove that the defendant knew the object he possessed was a firearm—but not that the defendant knew of his felon status. From this, the government surmises, when Congress added the word "knowingly" to § 924(a), it must have meant only to adopt this judicial gloss and no more.

    The problem with all this is that hidden intentions never trump expressed ones. Whatever weight courts may give to judicial interpretations of predecessor statutes when the current statute is ambiguous, those prior interpretations of now defunct statutes carry no weight when the language of the current statute is clear.

    When the current statute's language is clear, it must be enforced just as Congress wrote it. And whatever the legislative history may or may not suggest about Congress's collective "intent" (putting aside the difficulties of trying to say anything definitive about the intent of 535 legislators and the executive, and putting aside as well the Langley dissent's powerful rejoinders about Congress's putative intent in this case), the law before us that survived the gauntlet of bicameralism and presentment couldn't be plainer.

    By their express terms, §§ 922(g) and 924(a)(2) do not authorize the government to imprison Mr. Games-Perez and people like him unless and until the government can show they knew of their felon status at the time of the alleged offense. The government did not attempt to prove as much here. And that is all we need to know. Congress could have written the law differently than it did, and it is always free to rewrite the law when it wishes. But in our legal order it is the role of the courts to apply the law as it is written, not some different law Congress might have written in the past or might write in the future.

    Besides, even if the government could somehow manage to squeeze an ambiguity out of the plain statutory text before us, it faces another intractable problem. The Supreme Court has long recognized a "presumption" grounded in our common law tradition that a mens rea requirement attaches to "each of the statutory elements that criminalize otherwise innocent conduct."

    Together §§ 922(g) and 924(a)(2) operate to criminalize the possession of any kind of gun. But gun possession is often lawful and sometimes even protected as a matter of constitutional right. The only statutory element separating innocent (even constitutionally protected) gun possession from criminal conduct in §§ 922(g) and 924(a) is a prior felony conviction. So the presumption that the government must prove mens rea here applies with full force. See Staples v. United States (1994); D.C. v. Heller (2008). Yet, for its part the government never explains how a much disputed legislative record can overcome this longstanding interpretive presumption….

    One more twist: § 922(g), besides banning gun possesion by illegal aliens, also bans gun possession by legal aliens who came under a nonimmigrant visa (such as Rehaif's student visa), though with a few exceptions (for certain foreign officials, for visitors "admitted to the United States for lawful hunting or sporting purposes," and for visitors "in possession of a hunting license or permit"). I suspect that, even if Rehaif didn't know that he was illegally present, he must have known that he was here on a student visa. (Even if his mens rea is relevant, it doesn't matter whether he knew that gun possession by people on such visas is forbidden; the only question is whether he knew his visa status.) So I think that if he had been prosecuted under the nonimmigrant alien ban (922(g)(5)(B)) he would have been convicted even with a mens rea requirement. But the government charged him under the illegal alien ban (922(g)(5)(A)), so that's all that matters for purposes of the case that is now before the Court.

    Published:1/12/2019 6:48:03 PM
    [Markets] Furloughed Federal Employees Are Still Paid More Than You

    Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

    Whether its CNBC, or The New York Times, or NPR, the mainstream media is clearly committed to using the current partial government shutdown to portray federal workers as beleaguered victims of the American political system.

    But, in all cases I've encountered, these reports neglect to mention that on average, civilian federal workers make 17 percent more than similar workers in the private sector, according to a 2017-2018 report by the Congressional Budget Office. That's total compensation, so we're including both wages and benefits.

    Considering that a year is 52 weeks long, an average federal worker would need to be completely without any income for nearly 9 weeks in order to just be reduced to equal standing with a similar private-sector worker. (17 percent of 52 weeks is 8.84 weeks.)

    Source: Congressional Budget Office.

    As of this writing, the current shutdown has only lasted three weeks, which means all those furloughed workers profiled in national news stories are likely still coming out ahead of their private-sector colleagues. Moreover, given that both Trump and Congress have committed to pay furloughed workers back pay, it's a safe bet that federal workers will continue to enjoy a healthy advantage over private-sector workers when it comes to compensation.

    Health benefits for most federal workers will also continue without interruption through the shutdown, as noted by NPR.

    The Federal-Pay Advantage Is Larger for Lower-Income Employees

    The disparity between private-sector work and federal jobs is largest at the lower end of the education scale.

    According to the CBO's report:

    Federal civilian workers with no more than a high school education earned 34 percent more, on average, than similar workers in the private sector.

    That's just wages. They get far more in terms of benefits like healthcare and vacation time:

    Average benefits were 93 percent higher for federal employees with no more than a high school education than for their private-sector counterparts.

    The benefits for workers with a bachelors degree are 52 percent higher for federal workers than for their private-sector counterparts. Wages for federal workers in this group, however, are only five percent higher.

    Only when we look at federal workers with PhDs and other advanced degrees, do we find some federal workers who actually make less than similar workers in the private sector. Wages among highly-educated federal employees were 24 percent less than in the private sector, according to the report. Benefits remained "about the same."

    So, most federal employees — especially the ones with less education — have a long way to go before facing the economic realities that private-sector employees — i.e., the net taxpayers — face on a daily basis.

    Crowding Out Private Employment

    Not content with manufacturing sympathy for federal workers, however, news organizations have also pointed to a decline in spending by federal employees as damaging to the economy.

    A typical passage is one like this one from a CNBC article:

    If the government shutdown lasts another two weeks, the total cost to the U.S. economy would exceed the price of building the proposed border wall.

    Without federal spending, we're told, GDP will suffer:

    We estimated that this shutdown could shave approximately $1.2 billion off real GDP in the quarter for each week that part of the government is closed.

    That might sound like a big number (to some people unfamiliar with federal finances), but it's helpful to keep in mind that federal workers make up only 1.5 percent of the federal workforce. And not all of those are furloughed.

    Moreover, since furloughed workers can eventually expect back pay, any bust in GDP right now will be followed by a boom in spending once the back pay is received.

    The real cost to the private sector is in the form of industries that are paralyzed as a result of understaffed federal regulatory agencies. (As mentioned in this article about craft beer.) When the private sector isn't allowed to function without regular certification and inspection from federal agents, that means shutdowns prevent the private sector from functioning. This, of course, isn't an argument for more government spending. It's an argument against a vast federal regulatory apparatus that can't be counted on to perform the bare minimum of tasks it has promised to perform.

    All of this is just a good reminder that these jobs should never have been federal jobs in the first place.  After all, many of these positions are already by definition "non-essential," and from the national parks to the airports to the FBI, the federal workers are doing jobs that could easily be taken over by state and local authorities, or by the private sector.

    Were that the case, no nationwide, system-wide shutdown all of countless nationwide agencies would be of any noticeable impact. The system would become less fragile, more flexible, more diverse, and less costly.

    Also, many of the workers who now rely on federal paychecks would already be working in the private sector had the federal government not crowded these jobs out of the marketplace to begin with. Every time the federal government inserts itself as a monopolist regulator or service provider, federal agencies suck resources (in terms of both capital and human resources) out of the private sector. That means fewer new hires in the private sector, and it means lower wages for the employees left in the private sector who must foot the bills for federal agencies and employees. It also means higher prices for the private sector as government agencies bid up prices on everything from steel to petroleum.

    Ultimately, all of the problems we're being told about as a result of the government shutdown are problems caused by a federal government itself, which has inserted itself into every nearly every corner of daily life nationwide.

    Published:1/12/2019 3:46:47 PM
    [The Blog] NYT: FBI investigated Trump after he fired Comey, feared he might be working for Russia

    Suspicion.

    The post NYT: FBI investigated Trump after he fired Comey, feared he might be working for Russia appeared first on Hot Air.

    Published:1/12/2019 3:16:39 PM
    [6c8a68e4-3b1a-5798-86de-92046deb78d7] Newt Gingrich: Reported FBI probe of Trump was led by anti-Trump fanatics who betrayed Constitution Reported FBI investigation of whether Trump was working on behalf of Russians was run by anti-Trump fanatics. There's no evidence Trump betrayed US. Published:1/12/2019 2:49:25 PM
    [Markets] A Bang Or A Whimper: If Trump Is Overthrown What Comes Next?

    Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

    It’s a new year and the American cold civil war has shifted to its next phase with the Petrograd Soviet (formerly the Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens), a/k/a Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Democrat-controlled House of Representatives ensconced at one end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Pelosi leads the revolutionary “second pivot and rival center of authority to the embattled Provisional Government headed by President Donald Trump, headquartered 16 blocks to the northwest.

    As of this writing Trump is fighting for his political life. If he loses the Mexican standoff over the government shutdown and his border wall, he’s essentially finished. At this juncture, it looks as though he is prepared to declare a state of emergency and use Pentagon or FEMA funds to order the emplacement of a barrier as a military construction project. This is something for which he has the clearest black-and-white statutory authority under 10 US Code § 2802.

    Nonetheless, if he goes that route, any such effort will be gummed up in the courts, just like his use of his plenary authority under 18 US Code 1182(f) to exclude “any aliens or … any class of aliens” whose entry into the US would in his judgment “be detrimental to the interests of the United States” – the germ of his campaign’s promised “Muslim ban” – was wimped down into supposedly “extreme vetting” of aliens from a handful of countries without much indication of what the “vetting” is supposed to filter. It’s likely such litigation would delay the wall or prevent its being built at all.

    As of now, Trump states his preference to let the Democrats stew. After all, those immediately inconvenienced, such as federal workers and beneficiaries of some federal programs, are primarily Democrat constituencies. Let’s see how many more hysterical bleeding hearts like Cher pressure Pelosi to throw in the towel: “NANCY YOU ARE A HERO LET HIM HAVE HIS FKNG MONEY?.”

    In any case, as even Senator Lindsay Graham recognizes, if Trump loses this battle – one he should have fought a year and a half ago – “it’s probably the end of his presidency.” If Trump wins, or more properly he avoids losing, he only lives to fight another day.

    And, fight he must, despite his defenders’ truthful and entirely irrelevant bleating that there was no Russian “collusion.” Notwithstanding Democrats’ tap-dancing during the 2018 campaign on whether or not they would seek to impeach Trump, right out of the box articles of impeachment were filed within days of the House’s changing hands. Trump’s disgraced lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen will testify before the House Government Oversight Committee in February. While the weight of opinion suggests that Grand Inquisitor Robert Mueller will wrap up his auto-da-fé in a few months if not weeks, that would seem to be throwing away a powerful synergy with a House that is just beginning to gear up for multiple investigations into every aspect of Trump’s private and professional life, as well as his kids’. Add to that New York State Attorney General Letitia James on the warpath against Trump and “anyone” associated with him. Given Trump’s years in the sharp-elbowed world of high-end New York real estate and numerous business enterprises, as well as the Trump Foundation, there’s no limit to the number of regulatory, tax, and other violations the putsch plotters will construe as federal and state crimes, the latter of which can’t be pardoned by the President.

    In short, it’s now a question not if Trump will be impeached but when and on what accusations. Adding fuel to the Democrats’ determination to bring him down before he’s up for reelection is the fear that if Trump survives until then he might well win, something no other Republican is likely to be able to do given the GOP’s tin ear to working class concerns, especially in the Rust Belt states that were Trump’s margin of victory. If Trump is successfully removed before 2020, whomever the Democrats nominate will beat Mike Pence or any other Republican nominee in a romp. After that, especially if Trump’s wall hasn’t gotten built, a sufficient number of imported new voters, many of them illegal, will ensure a permanent Democratic lock hold on power.

    When Trump is impeached there may not be enough GOP votes in the Senate to remove him – as things stand now. But never underestimate Republicans’ propensity to cut and run when the going gets tough. It is suggested that any Republican who votes against Trump would seal his own political fate. Don’t be so sure. Those not up for reelection until 2022 and 2024 (like Utah’s newly elected Senator Mitt Romney, who didn’t even wait to be sworn in to volunteer for the role of Brutus) will feel insulated. Besides, when the crunch comes establishment Republicans fear a harsh word from the Washington Post and New York Times editorial pages more than they do their own voters.

    This is not to say that after impeachment Trump will be removed, just that it is well within the realm of possibility. But if it does happen, then what?

    One anti-Trumper (who prides himself on “poking Trump’s meth-addled, under-educated fans with a pointy stick.” No elite contempt for the Deplorables there!) ponders whether there would be –

    ‘…a civil war if Trump is driven from office?—?e.g., conviction after impeachment, resignation, 25th Amendment -that depends on what happens after, and there is no denying there is a chance of it, but it is highly unlikely. Many?—?possibly a great many?—?would believe they were wronged by this outcome, but how many would take up arms, and start shooting? Very few, if any at all. Trump would leave, Pence would become President, and Pence would be given credit for calming and healing the nation.

    ‘There would be no civil war.

    But what happens after? Suppose Trump is put on trial for criminal charges, and then convicted? Or suppose he is pardoned or let off the hook, and then begins a sore-loser populist campaign all over the country, complaining that the Presidency was “stolen” by the “deep state” and that Hillary and “fake news” are responsible? That is when we should reopen the question of civil war.’

    Of course if Trump is forced out, it would be precisely a stolen election – in effect, a regime change operation of the sort the same US-UK Deep State has staged in so many other countries – abetted by the lying, fake news (no need for sarcasm quotes) worthy of the former USSR and the Democratic establishment, with the collusion of a substantial element of the GOP.

    But the improbable suggestion of Trump’s leading a post-White House rebellion one raises a valid point: if Trump were removed, either politically or physically, what – or who – would be the Deplorables’ rallying point? What or who would constitute the second pivot in what would then aspire to leadership in a new revolutionary situation?

    The answer is not obvious. Those threatening various degrees of violent or even “gruesome” responses if the ongoing, anti-constitutional soft coup were to succeed never seem to address the question of what, exactly, the revolt would intend to achieve. Reinstate Trump, assuming that’s even possible? If not him, who – Ivanka? Where and how would pathologically law-abiding middle class Americans, many of them older and in questionable health, vent their rage? March on Washington – and do what when they got there? Torch the local post office?

    Sure, devotees of the Second Amendment own more private weapons, so Trump supporters are better armed. But that may change as the violent Left gears up its own paramilitary capabilities secure in the knowledge that authorities turn a blind eye to their violence while regarding even non-violent civic nationalism as subversive.

    Unlike the circumstance when the Constitution was adopted and private firearms were as good or better than military ones, there is no comparison today in delivery of devastating, deadly force. Trump himself seems to anticipate that the military would come out on his side:

    ‘“These people, like the Antifa — they better hope that the opposition to Antifa decides not to mobilize,” Trump said recently. “Because if you look, the other side, it’s the military. It’s the police. It’s a lot of very strong, a lot of very tough people. Tougher than them. And smarter than them … Potentially much more violent. And Antifa’s going to be in big trouble.” [...]

    ‘Some on far-right social media sites are all excited about what they’re calling “Civil War 2.0.” As documented by Dave Neiwert, there are various “Proud Boys” and “Patriots” living a fantasy version of Hank Williams Jr.’s “Country Boys Can Survive” almost entirely online.

    ‘“If they succeed in impeaching President Trump, then we will back President Trump,” one Georgia militiaman told reporters. “With a use of force if need be.”’

    Well, maybe. In a conflict that would look nothing like America’s organized and relatively polite War Between the States (1861-1865) and more like the brutal communal conflicts in Yugoslavia (1991-1995), Spain (1936-1939), or Russia (1917-1922) estimates vary widely on how the military would divide. The same can be said for police forces, some of them heavily militarized.

    Or perhaps the historic American nation, whose last-chance champion Trump was elected to be, would give up without a fight and submit to a tyranny that would, eventually, result in some even more fundamental societal collapse.

    Americans like to imagine ourselves as rough-hewn, freedom-loving, don't-tread-on-me rebels. But after decades of corruption and conditioning by politicians, judges, bureaucrats, educators, entertainers, media, advertising, pharmaceuticals, processed foods, etc., today’s Americans may well be among the most docile people on earth.

    Maybe that’s how America ends: not with a bang but a whimper. Let’s hope we don’t have occasion to find out.

    Published:1/12/2019 2:17:42 PM
    [Politics] Trump Lashes Out at FBI After NY Times Report on Russian Probe Donald Trump lashed out on Saturday following a New York Times report that the FBI had opened a probe in 2017 to determine if the president had been working, knowingly or unknowingly, on behalf of Russia.In a series of early-morning tweets Trump said that the agency had... Published:1/12/2019 10:45:30 AM
    [In The News] FBI Lawyer: ‘Not Typically Appropriate’ For Hillary’s Aides To Attend Her FBI Interview

    By Chuck Ross -

    Hillary Clinton shrug

    Lisa Page, a former top attorney at the FBI, told Congress last year she believed it was neither appropriate nor necessary for two of Hillary Clinton’s aides to accompany the former secretary of state in an interview she gave as part of the email investigation. “I would agree with you ...

    FBI Lawyer: ‘Not Typically Appropriate’ For Hillary’s Aides To Attend Her FBI Interview is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

    Published:1/12/2019 10:45:29 AM
    [Markets] Trump Goes On Epic Tweetstorm After NYT Reveals FBI "Witch Hunt" Escalation Following Comey Firing

    President Trump on Saturday lashed out after a Friday evening report in the New York Times that US law enforcement officials "became so concerned by the president's behavior" in the days after Trump fired James Comey as FBI director, that "they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.

    Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude. 

    ...

    the president’s activities before and after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said.

    ...

    ...some former law enforcement officials outside the investigation have questioned whether agents overstepped in opening it.

    -NYT

    The Washington Examiner's Byron York sums it up: 

    Responding to the "bombshell" NYT report - which curiously resurrects the "Russian collusion" narrative right as Trump is set to test his Presidential authority over the border wall, the president lashed out over Twitter

    Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!"

    Funny thing about James Comey. Everybody wanted him fired, Republican and Democrat alike. After the rigged & botched Crooked Hillary investigation, where she was interviewed on July 4th Weekend, not recorded or sworn in, and where she said she didn’t know anything (a lie), the FBI was in complete turmoil (see N.Y. Post) because of Comey’s poor leadership and the way he handled the Clinton mess (not to mention his usurpation of powers from the Justice Department). My firing of James Comey was a great day for America. He was a Crooked Cop who is being totally protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats - leaking machines who have NO interest in going after the Real Collusion (and much more) by Crooked Hillary Clinton, her Campaign, and the Democratic National Committee. Just Watch! 

    I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other President. At the same time, & as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. I fully expect that someday we will have good relations with Russia again!

    Lyin’ James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter S and his lover, agent Lisa Page, & more, all disgraced and/or fired and caught in the act. These are just some of the losers that tried to do a number on your President. Part of the Witch Hunt. Remember the “insurance policy?” This is it! -Donald Trump

    As Byron York asks, is the New York Times story about Trump, or about FBI malfeasance? 

    Published:1/12/2019 9:45:22 AM
    [World] Sean Spicer Blasts New York Times Report on Donald Trump FBI Investigation

    Sean Spicer blasted a new report Saturday of a secret FBI investigation into whether President Trump was working on behalf of Russia shortly after he fired former director James Comey.

    Published:1/12/2019 9:14:37 AM
    [Politics] NYT BOMBSHELL: FBI was ALREADY investigating Trump before Mueller!! Liberals and other Trump-haters were chanting “impeachment!!” on Friday night when a New York Times dropped a bombshell report that the FBI was *already* investigating Trump on collusion even BEFORE Mueller came . . . Published:1/12/2019 8:44:39 AM
    [Politics] NYT BOMBSHELL: FBI was ALREADY investigating Trump before Mueller!! Liberals and other Trump-haters were chanting “impeachment!!” on Friday night when a New York Times dropped a bombshell report that the FBI was *already* investigating Trump on collusion even BEFORE Mueller came . . . Published:1/12/2019 8:44:39 AM
    [Dodd-Frank] More Mueller madness (Scott Johnson) The hits keep on coming from the New York Times and their deep state adjunct within the government. Today’s page-one story comes courtesy of Adam Goldman, Michael Schmidt, and Nicholas Fandos under the headline “F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia” (accessible here on Outline). Last night Paul Mirengoff treated the Times story with care and penetration in the nearby post “Report: FBI opened Published:1/12/2019 5:44:23 AM
    [Media] ‘J. Edgar Hoover-style’: Byron York questions if the NYT article ‘is about Trump, or about FBI malfeasance?’

    Here’s the Washington Examiner’s Byron York on that explosive NYT story published tonight reporting that the FBI began a counterintelligence investigation of President Trump after he fired James Comey as FBI director: President Trump’s actions so alarmed the FBI after James Comey’s firing that it began investigating if he was working on behalf of Russia https://t.co/3w00Xx7Bhu […]

    The post ‘J. Edgar Hoover-style’: Byron York questions if the NYT article ‘is about Trump, or about FBI malfeasance?’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

    Published:1/11/2019 10:11:48 PM
    [Deep State] Report: FBI opened inquiry into whether Trump was working for the Russians (Paul Mirengoff) The New York Times reports that “in the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.” The Times cites “former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.” They say the FBI investigation ended when Robert Mueller was appointed. If Published:1/11/2019 10:11:48 PM
    [Markets] As Democratic Elites Reunite With Neocons, The Party's Voters Are Becoming Far More Militaristic And Pro-War Than Republicans

    Via Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S December 18 announcement that he intends to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria produced some isolated support in the anti-war wings of both parties, but largely provoked bipartisan outrage among in Washington’s reflexively pro-war establishment.

    Both GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the country’s most reliable war supporters, and Hillary Clinton, who repeatedly criticized former President Barack Obama for insufficient hawkishness, condemned Trump’s decision in very similar terms, invoking standard war on terror jargon.

    But while official Washington united in opposition, new polling data from Morning Consult/Politico shows that a large plurality of Americans support Trump’s Syria withdrawal announcement: 49 percent support to 33 percent opposition.

    That’s not surprising given that Americans by a similarly large plurality agree with the proposition that “the U.S. has been engaged in too many military conflicts in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan for too long and should prioritize getting Americans out of harm’s way” far more than they agree with the pro-war view that “the U.S. needs to keep troops in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to help support our allies fight terrorism and maintain our foreign policy interests in the region.”

    But what is remarkable about the new polling data on Syria is that the vast bulk of support for keeping troops there comes from Democratic Party voters, while Republicans and independents overwhelming favor their removal. The numbers are stark: Of people who voted for Clinton in 2016, only 26 percent support withdrawing troops from Syria, while 59 percent oppose it. Trump voters overwhelmingly support withdraw by 76 percent to 14 percent.

    A similar gap is seen among those who voted Democrat in the 2018 midterm elections (28 percent support withdrawal while 54 percent oppose it), as opposed to the widespread support for withdrawal among 2018 GOP voters: 74 percent to 18 percent.

    Identical trends can be seen on the question of Trump’s announced intention to withdraw half of the U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan, where Democrats are far more supportive of keeping troops there than Republicans and independents.

    This case is even more stark since Obama ran in 2008 on a pledge to end the war in Afghanistan and bring all troops home. Throughout the Obama years, polling data consistently showed that huge majorities of Democrats favored a withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan:

    With Trump rather than Obama now advocating troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, all of this has changed. The new polling data shows far more support for troop withdrawal among Republicans and independents, while Democrats are now split or even opposed. Among 2016 Trump voters, there is massive support for withdrawal: 81 percent to 11 percent; Clinton voters, however, oppose the removal of troops from Afghanistan by a margin of 37 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed.

    This latest poll is far from aberrational. As the Huffington Post’s Ariel Edwards-Levy documented early this week, separate polling shows a similar reversal by Democrats on questions of war and militarism in the Trump era.

    While Democrats were more or less evenly divided early last year on whether the U.S. should continue to intervene in Syria, all that changed once Trump announced his intention to withdraw, which provoked a huge surge in Democratic support for remaining. “Those who voted for Democrat Clinton now said by a 42-point margin that the U.S. had a responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria involving ISIS,” Edwards-Levy wrote, “while Trump voters said by a 16-point margin that the nation had no such responsibility.” (Similar trends can be seen among GOP voters, whose support for intervention in Syria has steadily declined as Trump has moved away from his posture of the last two years — escalating bombings in both Syria and Iraq and killing far more civilians, as he repeatedly vowed to do during the campaign — to his return to his other campaign pledge to remove troops from the region.)

    This is, of course, not the first time that Democratic voters have wildly shifted their “beliefs” based on the party affiliation of the person occupying the Oval Office. The party’s base spent the Bush-Cheney years denouncing war on terror policies, such as assassinations, drones, and Guantánamo as moral atrocities and war crimes, only to suddenly support those policies once they became hallmarks of the Obama presidency.

    But what’s happening here is far more insidious. A core ethos of the anti-Trump #Resistance has become militarism, jingoism, and neoconservatism. Trump is frequently attacked by Democrats using longstanding Cold War scripts wielded for decades against them by the far right: Trump is insufficiently belligerent with U.S. enemies; he’s willing to allow the Bad Countries to take over by bringing home U.S. soldiers; his efforts to establish less hostile relations with adversary countries is indicative of weakness or even treason.

    At the same time, Democratic policy elites in Washington are once again formally aligning with neoconservatives, even to the point of creating joint foreign policy advocacy groups (a reunion that predated Trump). The leading Democratic Party think tank, the Center for American Progress, donated $200,000 to the neoconservative American Enterprise Instituteand has multilevel alliances with warmongering institutions. By far the most influential liberal media outlet, MSNBC, is stuffed full of former Bush-Cheney officials, security state operatives, and agents, while even the liberal stars are notably hawkish (a decade ago, long before she went as far down the pro-war and Cold Warrior rabbit hole that she now occupies, Rachel Maddow heralded herself as a “national security liberal” who was “all about counterterrorism”).

    All of this has resulted in a new generation of Democrats, politically engaged for the first time as a result of fears over Trump, being inculcated with values of militarism and imperialism, trained to view once-discredited, war-loving neocons such as Bill Kristol, Max Boot, and David Frum, and former CIA and FBI leaders as noble experts and trusted voices of conscience. It’s inevitable that all of these trends would produce a party that is increasingly pro-war and militaristic, and polling data now leaves little doubt that this transformation — which will endure long after Trump is gone — is well under way.

    Published:1/11/2019 9:42:15 PM
    [Media] Sarah Sanders FIRES BACK at the NYT over article on CI investigation of President Trump

    Well, there goes the weekend news cycle: EXCLUSIVE: Trump’s actions so alarmed FBI after Comey firing that it began investigating if he was working for Russia @adamgoldmanNYT @npfandos https://t.co/uP52f8m2qf — Michael S. Schmidt (@nytmike) January 12, 2019 The opener: F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia WASHINGTON — In […]

    The post Sarah Sanders FIRES BACK at the NYT over article on CI investigation of President Trump appeared first on twitchy.com.

    Published:1/11/2019 9:12:45 PM
    [World] [John K. Ross] Short Circuit: A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions

    Sovereign immunity, absolute immunity, qualified immunity, and the agora of the digital age.

    Please enjoy the latest edition of Short Circuit, a weekly feature from the Institute for Justice.

    Ohio's licensing boards may soon be in for an existential crisis. A sweeping reform signed last week by Gov. John Kasich will require all state boards to prove a "public need for [their] continued existence," lest they expire. And to stem the growth of licensing red tape (which already covers almost a fifth of the state's workforce), a commission will rigorously review any proposed occupational regulations to ensure they're necessary and the "least restrictive" option to protect the public. IJ's Nick Sibilla has more at Forbes.com.

    • Unnamed corporation owned by an unnamed foreign gov't declines to comply with a federal grand jury subpoena (in what is believed to be the Mueller investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election). District court: So pay a $50k daily fine. Corporation: Can't make us; we're immune under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. D.C. Circuit: Assuming without deciding that the Act applies to criminal cases, you still gotta comply or fork over the money. (SCOTUS: The corporation's application for a stay is denied.)
    • Last March, the FAA ordered an airplane maintenance company to cease its operations. The D.C. Circuit was set to consider the matter today. But wait! The gov't is shut down, and the Antideficiency Act generally prohibits gov't employees from working without an appropriation. FAA: Please postpone until we get funded. D.C. Circuit: No dice. Concurrence: Common practice is to continue with oral argument during shutdowns, so we'll do that. Dissent: Charles Dickens addressed this approach ("'Whatever is is right'; an aphorism that would be as final as it is lazy, did it not include the troublesome consequence, that nothing that ever was, was wrong."). The law is clear; we should postpone until there's an appropriation.
    • Allegation: Identity thief is captured on video buying gift cards ($28k total) at Home Depots in three Monroe County, N.Y. towns. Police arrest a different man who'd made small purchases at Home Depots in two of the towns around the same time. Prosecutors arraign the man in only one of the towns; a bail bondsman refuses to bond the man out lest he immediately be rearrested on the charges in the other towns. He ultimately spends 28 days in jail (and misses sitting for the bar exam). He's acquitted of all charges. Second Circuit: He can't sue the prosecutors for failing to arraign him in the other towns. (His false arrest and other claims against police are still proceeding below.)
    • Dignifying millennials and trolls alike, the Fourth Circuit sees Facebook as the agora of the digital age. Which means a Loudoun County, Va. supervisor violated the First Amendment when she banned a critic (alleging school board corruption) from her public Facebook page. The page's interactive aspects constituted a public forum.
    • Allegation: Inmate at Roanoke, Va. prison trips. Officers who were escorting him (handcuffed and in leg irons) pull his hair and slam his head into the concrete. Prison admin: No need to check the video. The officers say that's not what happened. District court: The inmate filed suit too late. Case dismissed. Fourth Circuit: Not so. The statute of limitations started running when the inmate exhausted the prison's internal review process. If it had started running at the time of the alleged beating (as the district court found), prison officials would have had a perverse incentive to stall their internal reviews.
    • Federal employee with bulging discs, other medical conditions requests several workplace accommodations, all of which are granted except request not to inform his supervisor of his work schedule. He sues. Failure to accommodate? Hostile work environment? Discrimination? Retaliation? The suit should not have been dismissed, says the Fourth Circuit. It was not in fact filed too early.
    • North Charleston, S.C. officer shoots unarmed motorist, who was fleeing on foot, in the back, killing him. Footage of the shooting goes viral. The officer, admitting he acted willfully and unreasonably, pleads guilty to depriving the deceased of his civil rights. Fourth Circuit: And that amounts to second-degree murder. Twenty-year sentence affirmed.
    • Allegation: In 2009, Mexican citizen illegally in U.S. tells authorities that her ex, the father of two of her children and a drug cartel member, has threatened to kill her. She weeps; CBP agents coerce her into signing a form requesting voluntary return to Mexico. She's driven back to Mexico, where her ex murders her days later. Fifth Circuit: Can't sue over that.
    • Man contacts FBI, alleges that Washington Parish, La. district attorney is engaged in shady tax dealings with a pastor. Yikes! The man is arrested for failure to pay child support and denied bail because of "DA Hold." He spends 100 days in jail. He sues the (now-former, now-convicted) DA and the pastor, alleging false imprisonment, First Amendment retaliation, and due process violations. Fifth Circuit: And those claims should have been allowed to proceed, not least because the "mysterious and unheard-of 'DA Hold'" is not a thing.
    • Flint, Mich. officials (with state officials' approval) switch city's municipal water source in 2014 to save money, unleash public health disaster. Plaintiffs: And violated our right to bodily integrity. Officials: We get sovereign immunity, which doesn't normally apply to cities, but our day-to-day operations had been taken over by the state, thus transforming the city into an arm of the state. Sixth Circuit: Nope. But some defendants get qualified immunity. Partial dissent: No court has ever recognized a Fourteenth Amendment right to bodily integrity. Everyone should get qualified immunity.
    • In other police shooting news, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the conviction of a Chicago police officer who shot 16 times at a car full of teenagers. This one was caught on video, too. (Thankfully, no one died.)
    • Peoria, Ill. police arrest a 14-year-old for a double murder. He's tried as an adult and convicted, spends 30 years in prison. He's paroled; the governor commutes the rest of his sentence (leaving the conviction intact) and later pardons him (sweeping the conviction from the books). He sues the city and several officers, alleging that, among other unsavory things, they fabricated evidence, destroyed evidence, and coerced a false confession during 31 hours of interrogation over two days. District court: Too late. The suit should've been brought within two years of the commutation. Seventh Circuit: No, the clock started when he was pardoned. The suit may proceed. (See his page on the National Registry of Exonerations for more.)
    • Allegation: Ferguson, Mo. officials arrest people who are unable to pay fines for minor offenses and keep them in crowded, unsanitary jail indefinitely—until friends or family scrape together the cash. Ferguson officials: We get sovereign immunity, which usually only applies to state officials, but the injuries alleged (except for the jail conditions) are attributable to the local court, which is an arm of the state. Eighth Circuit: The suit can proceed.
    • Unlawful alien, caught possessing a firearm, is charged with violating a federal law that categorically bars unlawful aliens from possessing firearms. Defense: That law violates the Second Amendment. Ninth Circuit: We're not sure whether the Second Amendment applies to unlawful aliens in the first place, but even if it does, this law passes muster. It's sufficiently tailored to the government's crime-control interests since unlawful aliens are subject to removal, are often hard to trace, and "have already shown they are unable or unwilling to conform their conduct to the laws of this country."
    • Social services removes two boys from Pierce County, Wash. home they share with their father and grandfather after authorities discover grandfather's trove of child porn. The boys are moved to their maternal grandparents' home and permitted to visit their father, who is the lead suspect in the disappearance of the boys' mother, under the supervision of a social worker. On their final visit, the boys run ahead of the social worker to greet their father; he locks the social worker out, murders the boys, sets the house on fire, and kills himself. Ninth Circuit: Could be the dep't of social services was negligent.
    • Woman uses false ID to purchase firearm for her ex, who's on the run from police in connection with a Phoenix, Ariz. double homicide. She's convicted, sentenced to 30 months in prison. Ninth Circuit (over a dissent): New trial. She should have been allowed to present expert testimony on Battered Woman Syndrome.
    • If "the overriding mission" of your religion is "the achievement of White racial immortality"—well, the Tenth Circuit might decide it's not a religion at all. And that's the end of those free-exercise claims. Turns out courts aren't sympathetic when you challenge the conditions of the maximum security prison sentence you got for trying to murder a federal judge.
    • Greene County, Ga. patrolman pulls over a car for a turn signal that is blinking too rapidly. He then asks about unrelated matters (e.g., "You don't have any dead bodies in your car?"). The driver consents to a search of the car, which yields a firearm (which the motorist, a convicted felon, cannot possess). Eleventh Circuit: The initial stop was reasonable, but per a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision, prolonging the stop by asking unrelated questions was not. Nevertheless, the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies because the driver was pulled over in 2013. No need to suppress the evidence.
    • New Jersey law authorizes local gov'ts to adopt redevelopment plans, condemn property that is "necessary" for redevelopment. Glassboro, N.J. officials seek to condemn a parcel, but instead of detailing how the land is necessary to its redevelopment project, the borough says only that it wants to stockpile the parcel for possible future redevelopment. Not so fast, says the New Jersey Appellate Division. "Such a 'take first, decide later' approach is contrary to both the text of the statute and its public accountability objectives." (IJ participated in oral argument and as amicus curiae.
    • Vermont state trooper pulls over motorist for partially obscured registration sticker on his license plate, which is not actually an infraction. The trooper detects faint smell of burnt marijuana, but a pat-down yields no contraband, and the trooper determines the motorist is unimpaired. The motorist declines permission for a search of his vehicle, so it is towed to an impound lot while search warrant is secured. The search yields no contraband, but the motorist must pay $150 to retrieve the vehicle. (The search does turn up a small pipe with marijuana residue, but that's not criminal in Vermont these days.) Vermont trial court: Tough luck, motorist; the statutes are inapplicable to this situation, so you have no judicial remedy. Vermont Supreme Court: The Vermont Constitution provides an avenue for the motorist to obtain damages from the state, and sovereign immunity doesn't block that. Remand to determine whether the trooper's activities violated the motorist's constitutional rights.

    Friends, the Cato Institute would like to publish a book written by a businessman who believes he was falsely accused of malfeasance by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Faced with the threat of cripplingly expensive litigation (even if he won), the businessman settled. Now he wants to share the story of how the SEC used its enormous power to extract the settlement. But one condition of the settlement is that he must never publicly dispute the allegations against him. This week, Cato, represented by IJ, launched a First Amendment challenge to the agency's policy of imposing such gag orders, a policy that serves no legitimate public purpose but does shield the agency from public scrutiny of its enforcement actions. Click here to read more.

    Published:1/11/2019 3:40:13 PM
    [Markets] Covert British Military-Smear Machine Moving Into US

    Authored by Max Blumenthal and Mark Ames via ConsortiumNews.com,

    After mobilizing a disinformation campaign across Europe, documents show that the Integrity Initiative is now infiltrating the US...

    A bombshell domestic spy scandal has been unfolding in Britain, after hacked internal communications exposed a covert U.K. state military-intelligence psychological warfare operation targeting its own citizens and political figures in allied NATO countries under the cover of fighting “Russian disinformation.” 

    The leaked documents revealed a secret network of spies, prominent journalists and think-tanks colluding under the umbrella of a group called “Integrity Initiative” to shape domestic opinion—and to smear political opponents of the right-wing Tory government, including the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbin.

    Until now, this Integrity Initiative domestic spy scandal has been ignored in the American media, perhaps because it has mostly involved British names. But it is clear that the influence operation has already been activated in the U.S.. Hacked documents reveal that the Integrity Initiative is cultivating powerful allies inside the State Department, top D.C. think tanks, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, where it has gained access to Katharine Gorka and her husband, the fascist-linked cable news pundit Sebastian Gorka

    The Integrity Initiative has spelled out plans to expand its network across the U.S., meddling in American politics and recruiting “a new generation of Russia watchers” behind the false guise of a non-partisan charity. Moreover, the group has hired one of the most notorious American “perception management” specialists, John Rendon, to train its clusters of pundits and cultivate relationships with the media. 

    Back in the U.K., Member of Parliament Chris Williamson has clamored for an investigation into the Integrity Initiative’s abuse of public money.

    In a recent editorial, Williamson drew a direct parallel between the group’s collaboration with journalists and surreptitious payments the CIA made to reporters during the Cold War.

    “These tactics resemble those deployed by the CIA in Operation Mockingbird that was launched at the height of the cold war in the early 1950s. Its aims included using the mainstream news media as a propaganda tool,” Williamson wrote.

    “They manipulated the news agenda by recruiting leading journalists to write stories with the express purpose of influencing public opinion in a particular way,” the Labour parliamentarian continued. “Now it seems the British Establishment have dusted off the CIA’s old playbook and is intent on giving it another outing on this side of the Atlantic.”

    Unmasking a Smear Machine

    The existence of the Integrity Initiative was virtually unknown until this November, when the email servers of a previously obscure British think tank called the Institute for Statecraft were hacked, prompting allegations of Russian intrusion. When the group’s internal documents appeared at a website hosted by Anonymous Europe, the public learned of a covert propaganda network seed-funded to the tune of over $2 million dollars by the Tory-controlled U.K. Foreign Office, and run largely by military-intelligence officers.

    Through a series of cash inducements, off-the-record briefings and all-day conferences, the Integrity Initiative has sought to organize journalists across the West into an international echo chamber hyping up the supposed threat of Russian disinformation—and to defame politicians and journalists critical of this new Cold War campaign. 

    bid for funding submitted by the Integrity Initiative in 2017 to the British Ministry of Defense promised to deliver a “tougher stance on Russia” by arranging for “more information published in the media on the threat of Russian active measures.”

    The Integrity Initiative has also worked through its fronts in the media to smear political figures perceived as a threat to its militaristic agenda. Its targets have included a Spanish Department of Homeland Security appointee, Pedro Banos, whose nomination was scuttled thanks to a media blitz it secretly orchestrated; Jeremy Corbyn, whom the outfit and its media cutouts painted as a useful idiot of Russia; and a Scottish member of parliament, Neil Findlay, whom one of its closest media allies accused of adopting “Kremlin messaging” for daring to protest the official visit of the far-right Ukrainian politician Andriy Parubiy — the founder of two neo-Nazi parties and author of a white nationalist memoir, “View From The Right.”

    These smear campaigns and many more surreptitiously orchestrated by the Integrity Initiative offer a disturbing preview of the reactionary politics it plans to inject into an already toxic American political environment. 

    Aggressive Expansion

    A newly released Integrity Initiative document reveals that the outfit plans an aggressive expansion across the U.S. 

    The Integrity Initiative claims to have already established a “simple office” in Washington, D.C., though it does not say where. It also boasts of partnerships with top D.C. think tanks like the Atlantic Council, the Center for European Policy Analysis, Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) and its close relationships with U.S. officials. 

    A major hub of Integrity Initiative influence is the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, a de facto U.S. government propaganda operation that was established by President Barack Obama to battle online ISIS recruitment, but which was rapidly repurposed to counter Russian disinformation following the election of Trump.

    The Integrity Initiative has also recruited one of the most infamous American PR men to organize its clusters of journalists and political figures. 

    He is John Rendon, best known as “The Man Who Sold The War”— several wars, in fact, but most notoriously the Iraq invasion. Rendon was the self-described “information warrior” who planted fake news in major U.S.-U.K. media about non-existent WMD threats. With deep ties to the CIA and other military-intelligence agencies, his PR firm was paid $100 million to organize and sell Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress. In 2002, The New York Times exposed a Pentagon program using Rendon to plant “disinformation” — including “false stories” and “the blackest of black PR” — in media outlets around the world, in order to shape public opinion and sell the Iraq invasion. 

    John Rendon (left) with Maj. Gen. Michael Snodgrass, US Africa Command Chief of Staff (US Africom Public Affairs)

    Journalist James Bamford outlined a catalogue of disinformation feats Rendon performed for the Pentagon, such as identifying “the biases of specific journalists and potentially obtain an understanding of their allegiances, including the possibility of specific relationships and sponsorships.” Bamford also found proposals and programs Rendon was involved in that aimed to “‘coerce’ foreign journalists and plant false information overseas… [and] find ways to ‘punish’ those who convey the ‘wrong message.’”

    These tactics seem particularly relevant to his work with the Integrity Initiative, especially considering the internal documents that reveal further Rendon-style plans to produce reports and studies to be “fed anonymously into local media.” (Among the outlets listed as friendly hosts in Integrity Initiative internal memos are Buzzfeed and El Pais, the center-left Spanish daily.)

    Keeping up With the Gorkas

    Sebastian Gorka, in Vitezi Rend garb, with his wife, Katharine, on Election Night.

    Internal documents also refer to interactions between Integrity Initiative Director Chris Donnelly and top Trump officials such as Katharine Gorka, a vehemently anti-Muslim Department of Homeland Security official, as well as her husband, Sebastian, who earned right-wing fame during his brief tenure in Trump’s White House. 

    The latter Gorka is an open supporter of the Hungarian Vitezi Rend, a proto-fascist order that collaborated with Nazi Germany during its occupation of Hungary. Following Trump’s election victory in 2016, Gorka appeared for televised interviews in a black Vitezi Rend uniform. 

    Gorka was among the first figures listed on an itinerary for Donnelly to Washington this Sept. 18 to 22. The itinerary indicates that the two had breakfast before Donnelly delivered a presentation on “Mapping Russian Influence Activities” at the federally funded military research center, CNA.

    According to the itinerary, Donnelly was granted access to Pentagon officials such as Mara Karlin,an up-and-coming neoconservative cadre, and John McCain Institute Executive Director Kurt Volker, another neoconservative operative who also serves as the U.S. special representative for Ukraine. Numerous meetings with staffers inside the State Department’s Office of Global Engagement were also detailed. 

    Foreign Agent in State?

    Of all the State Department officials named in Integrity Initiative documents, the one who appeared most frequently was Todd Leventhal. Leventhal has been a staffer at the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, boasting of “20 years of countering disinformation, misinformation, conspiracy theories, and urban legends.” In an April 2018 Integrity Initiative memo, he is listed as a current team member:

    Funded to the tune of $160 million this year to beat back Russian disinformation with “counter-propaganda,” the State Department’s Global Engagement Center has refused to deny targeting American citizens with information warfare of its own. “My old job at the State Department was as chief propagandist,” confessed former Global Engagement Center Director Richard Stengel. “I’m not against propaganda. Every country does it and they have to do it to their own population and I don’t necessarily think it’s that awful.”

    Like so many of the media and political figures involved in the Integrity Initiative’s international network, the Global Engagement Center’s Leventhal has a penchant for deploying smear tactics against prominent voices that defy the foreign policy consensus. Leventhal appeared in an outtake of a recent NBC documentary on Russian disinformation smugly explaining how he would take down a 15-year-old book critical of American imperialism in the developing world. Rather than challenge the book’s substance and allegations, Leventhal boasted how he would marshal his resources to wage an ad hominem smear campaign to destroy the author’s reputation. His strategic vision was clear: when confronting a critic, ignore the message and destroy the messenger.

    Integrity Initiative documents reveal that Leventhal has been paid $76,608 dollars (60,000 British pounds) for a 50 percent contract. 

    While those same documents claim he has retired from the State Department, Leventhal’s own Linkedin page lists him as a current “Senior Disinformation Advisor” to the State Department. If that were true, it would mean that the State Department was employing a de facto foreign agent.

    As a cut-out of the British Foreign Office and Defense Ministry, the Integrity Initiative’s work with current and former U.S. officials and members of the media raises certain legal questions. For one, there is no indication that the group has registered under the Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Act, as most foreign agents of influence are required to do.

    Grants from Neocon Foundation

    An Integrity Initiative memo states that the right-wing Smith Richardson Foundation has also committed to ponying up funding for its U.S. network as soon as the group receives 501 c-3 non-profit status. The foundation has already provided it with about $56,000 for covert propaganda activities across Europe.

    The Smith Richardson Foundation has old ties to the U.S. intelligence community and controversial cold war influence operations. According to reporter Russ Bellant, the foundation was secretly bankrolling radical right-wing “indoctrination campaigns for the American public on Cold War and foreign policy issues”— programs that got the attention of Senator William Fulbright, who warned then-President John F. Kennedy of their dangers. At one of these indoctrination seminars, a Smith Richardson Foundation director “told attendees that ‘it is within the capacity of the people in this room to literally turn the State of Georgia into a civil war college,’ in order to overcome their opponents.”

    Smith Richardson has funded a who’s who of the neoconservative movement, from hyper-militaristic think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute to the Institute for the Study of War. “To say the [Smith Richardson] foundation was involved at every level in the lobbying for and crafting of the so-called global war on terror after 9/11 would be an understatement,” wrote journalist Kelley Vlahos.

    Besides Smith Richardson, the Integrity Initiative has stated its intention to apply for grants from the State Department “to expand the Integrity Initiative activities both within and outside of the USA.” This is yet another indicator that the U.S. government is paying for propaganda targeting its own citizens. 

    ‘Main Event’ in Seattle

    An Integrity Initiative internal document argues that because “DC is well served by existing US institutions, such as those with which the Institute [for Statecraft] already collaborates,” the organization should “concentrate on extending the work of the Integrity Initiative into major cities and key State capitals [sic] across the USA.”

    This Dec. 10, the Integrity Initiative organized what it called its “main event” in the U.S. It was a conference on disinformation held in Seattle, under the auspices of a data firm called Adventium Labs. Together with the Technical Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota, the Integrity Initiative listed Adventium Labs as one of its “first partners outside DC.”

    Adventium is a Minneapolis-based research and development firm that has reaped contracts from the U.S. military, including a recent $5.4 million cyber-security grant from the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. 

    Inside a modest-sized hotel conference room, the Adventium/Integrity event began with a speech by the Integrity Initiative’s Simon Bracey-Lane. Two years prior, Bracey-Lane appeared on the American political scene as a field worker for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential primary run, earning media write-ups as the “Brit for Bernie.” Now, the young operator was back in the U.S. as the advance man for a military-intelligence cut-out that specialized in smearing left-wing political figures like Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader widely regarded as the British version of Sanders.

    Bracey-Lane opened his address by explaining that Integrity Initiative director Chris Donnelly had been unable to appear at the event, possibly because he was bogged down in the scandal back home. He proceeded to read remarks prepared by Donnelly that offered a window into the frighteningly militaristic mindset the Integrity Initiative aims to impose on the public through their media and political allies.

    According to Donnelly’s comments, the West was no longer in a “peace time, rules based environment.” From the halls of government to corporate boardrooms to even the U.K.’s National Health System, “the conclusion is that we have to look for people who suit a wartime environment rather than peacetime.”

    During a Q&A, Bracey-Lane remarked that “we have to change the definition of war to encompass everything that war now encompasses,” referring vaguely to various forms of “hybrid warfare.” 

    “There is a great deal to be done in communicating that to young people,” he continued. “When we mean being at war we don’t mean sending our boys off to fight. It’s right here in our homes.”

    The emphasis on restructuring society along martial lines mirrored the disturbing thinking also on display in notes of a private meeting between Donnelly and Gen. Richard Barrons in 2016. During that chat, the two officers decided that the British military should be removed from democratic supervision and be able to operate as “an independent body outside politics.”

    While Bracey-Lane’s presentation perfectly captured the military mindset of the Integrity Initiative, the speakers that followed him offered a diverse array of perspectives on the concept of disinformation, some more nuanced than others. But one talk stood out from the rest — not because of its quality, but because of its complete lack thereof.

    Alexander Reid Ross (left) and Emmi Bevensee at the Integrity Initiative’s “main event” in Seattle.

    Theorist of ‘Red-Brown’ Networks

    The presentation was delivered by Alexander Reid Ross, a half-baked political researcher who peddles computer-generated spiderweb relationship charts to prove the existence of a vast hidden network of “red-brown” (or fascist-communist) alliances and “syncretic media” conspiracies controlled by puppeteers in Moscow. 

    Ross is a lecturer on geography at Portland State University with no scholarly or journalistic credentials on Russia. But with a book, “Against the Fascist Creep,” distributed by the well-known anarchist publishing house, AK Press, the middling academic has tried to make his name as a maverick analyst. 

    Before the Integrity Initiative was exposed as a military-intelligence front operation, Ross was among a small coterie of pundits and self-styled disinformation experts that followed the group’s Twitter account. The Integrity Initiative even retweeted his smear of War Nerd podcast co-host John Dolan.

    In a series of articles for the Southern Poverty Law Center last year, Ross attempted to bring his warmed-over Cold War theories to the broader public. He wound up trashing everyone from the co-author of this piece, Max Blumenthal, to Nation magazine publisher Katrina Vanden Heuvel to Harvard University professor of international relations Stephen Walt as hidden shadow-fascists secretly controlled by the Kremlin. 

    The articles ultimately generated an embarrassing scandal and a series of public retractions by the editor-in-chief of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Richard Cohen. And then, like some Dr. Frankenstein for discredited and buried journalism careers, the British Ministry of Defense-backed Integrity Initiative moved in to reanimate Ross as a sought-after public intellectual. 

    Before the Integrity Initiative-organized crowd, Ross offered a rambling recitation of his theory of a syncretic fascist alliance puppeteered by Russians: “The alt right takes from both this ‘red-brown,’ it’s called, or like left-right syncretic highly international national of nationalisms, and from the United States’ own paleoconservative movement, and it’s sort of percolated down through college organizing, um, and anti-interventionism meets anti-imperialism. Right?”

    In a strange twist, Ross appeared on stage at the Integrity Initiative’s Seattle event alongside Emmi Bevensee, a contributor to the left-libertarian Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) think tank, whose tagline, “a left market anarchist think-tank” expresses its core aim of uniting far-left anarchists with free-market right-libertarians. 

    Bevensee, a PhD candidate at the University of Arizona and self-described “Borderlands anarcho into tech and crypto,” concluded her presentation by asserting a linkage between the alternative news site, Zero Hedge, and the “physical militarized presence in the borderlands” of anti-immigrant vigilantes.

     Like Bevensee, Ross has written for C4SS in the past. 

    The irony of contributors to an anarchist group called the “Center for a Stateless Society” auditioning before The State – the most jackbooted element of it, in fact – for more opportunities to attack anti-war politicians and journalists, can hardly be overstated.

    But closer examination of the history of C4SS veers from irony into something much darker and more unsettling.

    White Nationalist Associates

    C4SS was co-founded in 2006 by a confessed child rapist and libertarian activist, Brad Spangler, who set the group up to promote “Market anarchism” to “replace Marxism on the left.”

    When Spangler’s child rape confessions emerged in 2015, the Center for Stateless Society founder was finally drummed out by his colleagues. 

    There’s more: Spangler’s understudy and deputy in the C4SS, Kevin Carson — currently listed as the group’s “Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory” — turned out to be a longtime friend and defender of white nationalist Keith Preston. Preston’s name is prominently plastered on the back of Kevin Carson’s book, hailing the C4SS man as “the Proudhon of our time” — a loaded compliment, given the unhinged anti-Semitism of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the influential 19thCentury French anarchist.

    Carson only disowned Preston in 2009, shortly before Preston helped white nationalist leader Richard Spencer launch his alt-right webzine, Alternative Right.

    The C4SS group currently participates in the annual Koch-backed International Students For Liberty conference in Washington, D.C., LibertyCon, a who’s who of libertarian think-tank hacks and Republican Party semi-celebrities like Steve Forbes, FCC chairman Ajit Pai, and Alan Dershowitz.

    In 2013, C4SS’s Kevin Carson tweeted out his dream fantasy that four Jewish leftists—Mark Ames, co-author of this article; Yasha Levine; Corey Robin, and Mark Potok — would die in a plane crash while struggling over a single parachute. Potok was an executive editor at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which last year retracted every one of the crank articles that Alexander Reid Ross published with them and formally apologized for having run them.

    For some reason, the super-sleuth Ross conveniently failed to investigate the libertarian group, C4SS, that he has chosen to partner with and publish in. That ability to shamelessly smear and denounce leftists over the most crudely manufactured links to the far-right—while cozying up to groups as sleazy as C4SS and authoritarian as the Integrity Initiative —is the sort of adaptive trait that MI6 spies and the Rendon Group would find useful in a covert domestic influence operation.

    Ross did not respond to our request for comment on his involvement with the Integrity Initiative and C4SS.

    Disinformation for Democracy

    As it spans out across the U.S., the Integrity Initiative has stated its desire to “build a younger generation of Russia watchers.” Toward this goal, it is supplementing its coterie of elite journalists, think tank hacks, spooks and State Department info-warriors with certifiable cranks like Ross. 

    Less than 24 hours after Ross’s appearance at the Integrity Initiative event in Seattle, he sent a menacing email to the co-author of this article, Ames, announcing his intention to recycle an old and discredited smear against him and publish it in The Daily Beast — a publication that appears to enjoy a special relationship with Integrity Initiative personnel. 

    Despite the threat of investigation in the U.K., the Integrity Initiative’s “network of networks” appears to be escalating its covert, government-funded influence operation, trashing the political left and assailing anyone that gets in its way; all in the name of fighting foreign disinformation. 

    “We have to win this one,” Integrity Initiative founder Col. Chris Donnelly said“because if we don’t, democracy will be undermined.”

    Published:1/11/2019 1:16:48 AM
    [Markets] The Secret Logistics Of America's Global Deep State

    Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

    Why is America’s Baghdad Embassy the world’s largest embassy — and the largest by far?

    "It's as if the US Embassy is there not only to protect American interests, but to manage the entire world from the heart of the capital, Baghdad.”

    — Iraqi Sheikh Qassim Al Ta’ee, as quoted on 27 December 2011 in Al Iraq News and translated by Ibrahim Zaidan from the original Arabic by Nicholas Dagher 

    Zaidan’s article went on to say:

    The world's largest embassy is situated in the Green Zone and fortified by three walls, another barrier of concrete slabs, followed by barbed wire fences and a wall of sandbags. It covers an area of 104 acres, six times larger than UN headquarters in New York and ten times larger than the new embassy Washington is building in Beijing – which is just 10 acres.

    [Editor's' Note: The ten-acre US Embassy in Beijing is the second largest overseas construction project in the history of the Department of State — and the 104-acre US Embassy in Iraq is the largest.]

    So, America's largest diplomatic mission is surrounded by high concrete walls, is painted in black, brown and grey and is completely isolated from its environment... The United States announced several months ago that between diplomats and employees, its embassy would include 16,000 people after the pullout of US forces.

    On January 1st, Will Sillitoe headlined at the Helsinki Times, "What does the US embassy in Baghdad export to Finland and dozens of other countries?” and he reported that:

    More than a million kilograms of cargo were shipped from Baghdad to different parts of the world, reveals US embassies procurement documents.

    Mysterious cargo shipments from the US Embassy in Baghdad to other American embassies and consulates around the world have been revealed on a Wikileaks' database. Procurement orders of US embassies are public documents, but Wikileaks put them in a searchable database making it easier to analyse.

    The database displaying worldwide US embassy orders of goods and services reveals Baghdad as a postal and shipping centre for tonnes of freight.

    Though military freight might be expected between the US and Iraq, records show that embassies across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and Africa are all receiving deliveries from Baghdad too.

    According to Wikileaks' database, orders to ship more than 540 tonnes of cargo to the US were made in May 2018. The same document shows other main delivery destinations included 120 tonnes of freight to Europe, and 24 tonnes to South Africa, South America and Central Africa respectively...

    On December 29th, Sillitoe had headlined "Guarded warehouse near airport and mysterious cargos from Baghdad; what is the US embassy in Helsinki up to?” and he opened:

    Why does the US Embassy in Helsinki need a big warehouse near Malmi Airport and what are the contents of thousands of kilograms of cargo sent to Helsinki from Baghdad?

    A dilapidated warehouse in Malmi is being used by the US Embassy for unknown operations after a Wikileaks release revealed its location.

    The anonymous looking building on Takoraudantie is notable only for the new 427 meter perimeter fence that according to the Wikileaks' database was ordered by the US Embassy in April 2018.

    Situated across the street from the main entrance of Malmi Airport, the warehouse with its 3 meter high security fence appears an unlikely location for official embassy business. Neighbouring companies include a car yard and a tyre warehouse.

    Helsinki Times visited the perimeters this weekend. Security personnel, young Finns in uniforms with American flags on their arms, appeared nervous and suspicious when asked to comment on the warehouse. ...

    Sillitoe closed that article by saying: “The searchable Wikileaks database and info about Finland related activities can be found HERE.”

    That link leads to a “US Embassy Shopping List” of 24 separate documents, one of which is "RFP 191Z1018R0002 Mission Iraq Shipping Transportation Services”, dated “5/17/18."

    Item 2 there is “Packing of unaccompanied air baggage (UAB) – Throughout Iraq – US Embassy Baghdad, Baghdad International Zone, US Consulate General in Basrah, US Consulate General in Erbil, US Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center, US Erbil Diplomatic Support Center (Note: under the specified unit of measure the US Government contemplates ‘per kilogram’ of gross weight in kilograms)”

    The “Quantity Estimated” is “100,000” and the “Unit of Measure” is “kilogram.”

    Item 7 is “Storage Services – Monthly Storage of containers – Throughout Iraq – US Embassy Baghdad, Baghdad International Zone, US Consulate General in Basrah, US Consulate General in Erbil, US Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center, US Erbil Diplomatic Support Center.”

    The “Quantity Estimated” is “100” and the “Unit of Measure” is “40’ Container.”

    Item “Section B.5 Sub-CLIN:84E” is “From Republic of Iraq to Western European Countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City, Nicosia)”

    The “Quantity Estimated” is “5,000” and the “Unit of Measure” is “kilogram.”

    Item “Section B.5 Sub -CLIN:84 F” is “From Republic of Iraq to Eastern European Countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Kosovo)”

    The “Quantity Estimated” is “5,000” and the “Unit of Measure” is “kilogram.”

    By far the biggest categories for shipments are to the eastern US states: “From Republic of Iraq to the Unites [sp.] States Eastern Time-Zone – the following States: VT, ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NJ, DE, MD, DC, NY, PA, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, WV, MI, OH, IN, KY, GA” 

    There are 11 such categories:

    "Section B.5 Sub-CLIN:85A”

    "Section B.5 Sub-CLIN:86A”

    "Section B.6 Sub-CLIN:84A”

    "Section B.6 Sub-CLIN:85A"

    "Section B.6 Sub-CLIN:86A”

    "Section B.7 Sub-CLIN:84A”

    "Section B.7 Sub-CLIN:85A”

    "Section B.7 Sub-CLIN:86A”

    "Section B.8 Sub-CLIN:84A”

    "Section B.8 Sub-CLIN:85A”

    "Section B.8 Sub-CLIN:86A”

    Each one of those eleven will receive 30,000 kilograms, under the contract.

    In each of the eleven, the products will be going “From Republic of Iraq to the Unites [sp.] States Eastern Time-Zone – the following States: VT, ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NJ, DE, MD, DC, NY, PA, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, WV, MI, OH, IN, KY, GA”

    That’s a total of 330,000 kilograms. That’s 727,525 pounds, or 364 tons, which are going from the world’s largest Embassy, America’s in Baghdad, to America’s eastern states.

    In addition, around another 1,091,287 pounds are going from the Baghdad Embassy to other locations throughout the world.

    The RFP, or Request For Proposal, informs its recipient that “The Contractor shall provide the services for the base period of the contract,” but “base period” isn’t defined in the RFP. However, the contract does specify that there shall be “a firm fixed unit price for any contract line item number in the Base Year,” and therefore the obligations under any contract will continue for at least one year, but possibly longer (if renewed). Furthermore, the “Type of Solicitation” here is not “Sealed Bid (IFB),” but instead “Negotiated (RFP),” which means that the US Government officials who are “Soliciting” these offers will choose whom to request to present an offer; and, if two or more recipients are being approached and make an offer, then the US official will select the winner that he or she prefers, and won’t be required to accept the lowest-priced one, but can instead take some sort of kickback, as long as there is no evidence of having done that. It can easily be arranged. Furthermore, private arrangements bond the two parties, even if the arrangement is just a one-time deal, because neither party will want the private arrangement to be made public, and if ever it does become public, then both parties will be revealed as guilty; it’ll hurt both parties. Moreover, since any contract may be renewed, the offeror of the contract, which is the Embassy employee, holds the power to affect that — the length of term, and everything that’s associated with it, will be controlled by the Embassy’s side, and not by the contractor’s side. And no matter how brief a contract-term might be, and no matter how many non-Americans might be signing any particular type of contract during any given period of years, none of the private parties will have any motive to make public any kickback. Consequently, there is every motive to keep these arrangements private; and the Embassy employee will always be the more powerful one in any private arrangement that is made with any contractor. 

    Prior RFPs are also online, for example this one from 16 November 2014. The annual amounts seem to be fairly stable.

    On 10 October 2007, while the US Embassy in Iraq was still building, the Congressional Research Service issued to Congress their report, “US Embassy in Iraq”, and it said:

    The US Ambassador to Iraq (currently Ambassador Ryan Crocker) has full authority for the American presence in Iraq with two exceptions: 1 — military and security matters which are under the authority of General Patraeus, the US Commander of the Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I), and 2 — staff working for international organizations.

    In areas where diplomacy, military, and/or security activities overlap, the Ambassador and the US Commander cooperate to provide co-equal authority regarding what is best for America and its interests in Iraq.

    By “Patraeus” it meant David Petraeus. He was the person who designed the torture-system that was applied by his assistant James Steele and used in Iraq to extract from prisoners everything they knew about Saddam Hussein’s assistance to the 9/11 event. Petraeus subsequently became a regular participant in the annual meetings of the private and secretive Bilderberg group of representatives of the US and allied nations’ billionaires that constitute The West’s Deep State. Prior to that, Petraeus and Steele had organized and instituted in El Salvador that Government’s death-squads, to eradicate opponents of US control over that country.

    The most corrupt parts of the US Government are usually in the military, because the entire Defense Department isn’t audited. It is instead financially an enormous dark hole, even to US Senators and Representatives, and even to the US President. Only members of the US Deep State might have an approximate idea of how much money is getting ‘lost’ in it. After all, the Deep State isn’t, at all, answerable to the public. Since it operates in secret, it can’t be. The consequences of the Deep State, however, can become public, and may contradict what is shown in publicly available documents and public statements, which have been circulated, to the public, by the press. In any nation where a Deep State rules, such contradictions, between public assertions and the actual outcomes, are so commonplace as hardly to be even news at all, if and when they appear, at all.

    On 2 July 2017, the great investigative reporter Dilyana Gaytandzhieva headlined "350 Flights Carry Weapons Diplomatic for Terrorists”, and provided documentation of the US CIA’s intricate global network, which secretly “sends $1 billion worth of weapons” through many countries to jihadists in Syria to take down Syria’s Government. Iraq was mentioned 6 times in the original publication of her article, and is mentioned 9 times in the 29 April 2018 updated version. That secret US supply of weapons to jihadist groups to overthrow Bashar al-Assad and his secular, non-sectarian, Baathist Party, is a secret operation, just like the US State Department’s Baghdad Embassy’s operations are, and that Embassy could even be this particular operation’s headquarters. 

    The 200-page, December 2017, study, “Weapons of the Islamic State: A three-year investigation”, by Conflict Armament Research Ltd., states in its Conclusion:

    IS forces, like most non-state armed groups, acquire significant quantities of weapons and ammunition on the battlefield… Evidence presented in this report, however, confirms that many of the group’s weapons — and notably its ammunition — are newly manufactured, having been delivered to the region since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. These weapons originate in transfers made by external parties, including Saudi Arabia and the United States, to disparate Syrian opposition forces arrayed against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

    Here are just a few of the details that this passage in the summary was based upon and summarizing:

    On pages 36-9, it says:

    CAR has documented and traced numerous weapon systems in service with IS forces. Many derive from shipments made to the US government, or to entities operating under US government contracts. The United States has acknowledged its support to Syrian opposition forces, orchestrated primarily through resupply from the territories of Jordan and Turkey.26 All of the shipments originated in EU Member States; in most cases, US retransfers (exports made after purchase by the United States) contravened clauses in end-user certificates (EUCs) issued by the United States to EU supplier governments. The United States signed these certificates prior to transfer, stated that it was the sole end user of the materiel, and committed not to retransfer the materiel without the supplier government’s prior consent. It did not notify the supplier states concerned before [violating that, and] retransferring the materiel. …

    On 21 December 2016, Jaysh al-Nasr, a Syrian armed opposition faction active in the Hama Governorate of Syria, published a set of photographs of its fighters.29 In one of these, Jaysh al-Nasr fighters are operating a 9M111MB-1 ATGW30 bearing an identical lot number and a serial number (365) close in sequence to the one CAR documented (286) in Iraq, suggesting both were part of the same supply chain. …

    In May 2015, Syrian YPG forces recovered a PG-7T 40 mm rocket from IS forces near Al Hasakah, Syria, where CAR documented it on 20 May 2015. The Government of Bulgaria confirmed that it exported the item to the US Department of the Army through the US company Kiesler Police Supply. The application for the export licence was accompanied by the original EUC issued by the US Department of the Army (with a non-re-export clause) as well as a delivery verification certificate. The item was exported on 23 June 2014.32 … CAR has yet to receive a reply to a trace request sent to the United States regarding these rockets.

    Page 54 says:

    Like the United States, Saudi Arabia has provided support to various factions in the Syrian conflict, including through the supply of weapons. Working with the Bulgarian authorities, CAR has traced numerous items deployed by IS forces to initial exports from Bulgaria to Saudi Arabia. These transfers were uniformly subject to non-retransfer clauses concluded between Saudi Arabia and the Government of Bulgaria prior to export. In this respect, onward retransfers by Saudi Arabia of these weapons contravene its commitments to the Government of Bulgaria not to re-export the materiel in question without Bulgaria’s prior consent.

    Just like in the case of the Baghdad Embassy’s agreements with contractors, the powerful party in any contract will be the party whose side is paying (the buyer), and not the party whose side is supplying the service or goods (the seller). Money always rules.

    The CAR report, which was issued just months after Dilyana Gaytandzhieva’s report, was entirely consistent with, and largely overlapped, hers. The US and Saudi Governments were not only using Al Qaeda as their main proxy in southwestern Syria to lead the jihadist groups to overthrow Syria’s non-sectarian Government, but were also using ISIS in northeastern Syria as their main proxy forces there to overthrow Syria’s Government. After Russia’s entry into the war on 30 September 2015 on the side of Syria’s Government, America’s assistance to Al Qaeda in Syria (Al Nusra) continued in order to help replace that Government by one which would be controlled by the Sauds. And America’s assistance to ISIS was almost totally replaced then by its assistance to ethnocentric Syrian Kurds in the northeast as the Syrian Democratic Forces, which were fighting against both the Government and ISIS. Russia, of course, was against both Al Qaeda-led jihadists and against ISIS jihadists. (Turkey was against ethnocentric Kurds, because those people want to take a chunk out of four nations: Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The CIA edited and written Wikipedia’s article on Kurdistan conveniently doesn’t even make note of that key fact.) So: America was using a complex combination in order to take over Syria for the Sauds ultimately to control. But Russia’s entry into Syria’s air-war on 30 September 2015 has overcome that U.S-led and Saudi financed combination against Syria.

    Would any secret facility, anywhere in the world, be better situated to manage that operation, on America’s side, than America’s Baghdad Embassy?

    So, the question then arises: who benefits from this enormous Embassy, and from the Deep State of which it is a part? The American public certainly do not.

    Generally speaking, the people who get paid to promote endless wars, such as sellers of the constantly receding (propagandistic) “light at the end of the tunnel”, support continuing if not intensifying such wars. Typical is the neoconservative (in foreign affairs) and neoliberal (in domestic affairs) David Bradley, who controls and is the Chairman of Atlantic Media, which publishes the neocon-neolib The Atlantic, and many other public-affairs magazines and websites. His “Defense One” site posted, on 22 March 2018, from its Executive Editor, "The War in Iraq Isn’t Done. Commanders Explain Why and What’s Next”, and closed with “‘We need to be very careful about rushing to the exit, and secure this win,’ said the senior US military official. ‘This is a significant win.’” The “senior US military official” wasn’t identified, other than to say that he “spoke only on background.” But, of course, George W. Bush had already told the world all about this “win,” back in 2003. Salespeople just continue their pitches; it’s what they are paid to do, and so they never stop.

    The annual military costs alone, for the US to keep being, as its propaganda euphemistically puts the matter, “policeman for the world” (such as, in the Syrian case, by means of those proxy boots-on-the-ground warriors, the jihadists, and the ethnocentrists among Syria’s Kurds) are actually sufficient, even on their own, to cause America’s soaring federal debt - and that’s not a benefit, but an extreme harm, to the public. Future generations of Americans will be paying the tab for this. And the costs for being “policeman for the world” are enormous. Even just militarily, they’re over a trillion dollars each and every year.

    Though current US Defense Department budgets are around $700 billion annually, the United States is actually spending closer to $1.2 trillion annually on the military when all of the nation’s military spending (such as for military retirements, which are paid by the Treasury Department not by the Defense Department) are factored in. The only people who benefit from being “policeman for the world” are the billionaires of the US and (though to only a lesser extent) of its allied countries. And, of course, they pay their lobbyists and propagandists. It’s really being policeman for those billionaires, who own and control all of the international corporations that are headquartered in this alliance. The US public isn’t paying the tab by any cash-and-carry basis; instead, future generations of Americans will be paying the tab, for today’s US-and-allied billionaires. Those billionaires today are the chief beneficiaries. It’s all being done for them and their retinues. That’s why America’s Founders didn’t want there to be any “standing army” at all. They didn’t want there to be any permanent-war government. They wanted military only for national defense — not for any billionaires’ protection or ‘insurance policy’, or what might actually be publicly paid and armed thugs in service abroad as if they were the nation’s armed forces — when, in fact, they are the armed forces for only those billionaires and their servants. America’s Founders wanted no military at all that serves the aristocracy. They wanted no aristocracy, at all. They wanted no “standing army” whatsoever. They wanted only a military that protects the public, when a real military danger, from abroad, to the domestic public, exists. Of course, that’s possible only in a democracy, but the US is no democracy now, even if it might have been in the past.

    On 11 December 2017, Montana State University headlined “MSU SCHOLARS FIND $21 TRILLION IN UNAUTHORIZED GOVERNMENT SPENDING; DEFENSE DEPARTMENT TO CONDUCT FIRST-EVER AUDIT”, but the Pentagon’s promised audit has failed to materialize. A major accounting firm was hired for the task but soon quit, saying that the Defense Department’s books were too incomplete to proceed further. Three days before that article was published, a colleague of that MSU team headlined at Forbes”Has Our Government Spent $21 Trillion Of Our Money Without Telling Us?” and said that the answer was yes. All of this ‘lost’ money was spent merely by the Department of Defense. Just managing the more-than-a-thousand US military bases worldwide requires a lot of money. Any actual war-fighting adds to that US military-base cost — the war-fighting costs are extra. Those military bases etc. are the “standing army.” Protection of our billionaires’ investments abroad, and of their access to raw materials in underdeveloped countries (such as to manufacture cellphones), is an enormously expensive operation. Basically, the American public are hugely subsidizing America’s billionaires. But only future generations of Americans will be paying that debt — plus, of course, the accumulated interest on it. 

    The Department of Defense isn’t the only federal Department that has ever been unauditable. On 18 June 2013, Luke Johnson and Ryan Grim at Huffington Post bannered “GAO Cannot Audit Federal Government, Cites Department Of Defense Problems” and opened: “The Government Accountability Office said Thursday that it could not complete an audit of the federal government, pointing to serious problems with the Department of Defense. Along with the Pentagon, the GAO cited the Department of Homeland Security as having problems so significant that it was impossible for investigators to audit it. The DHS got a qualified audit for fiscal year 2012, and is seeking an unqualified audit for 2013.” However, on 17 November 2014, the Washington Post headlined “Homeland Security earns clean audit two years running”, and Jerry Markon reported that, “For the second straight year, the Department of Homeland Security has achieved a much sought-after clean audit of its financial statements by an independent auditor.” Furthermore: “for nearly all of its first decade of existence, DHS was unable to achieve a clean audit because it had been created by combining 22 federal agencies and components into one massive department. That led to inherent challenges.” That wasn’t the situation at the Defense Department, which was far different. On 8 December 2017, NPR headlined “Pentagon Announces First-Ever Audit Of The Department Of Defense”, and opened: “‘The Defense Department is starting the first agency-wide financial audit in its history,’ the Pentagon's news service say