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[Politics] WATCH: Mark Levin REACTS to the Mueller hearing Mark Levin responded to the Mueller hearing tonight on Hannity and lit into Schiff for his blatant hypocrisy on all things Russia, ignoring the Obama administration yet going after Trump like he’s . . . Published:7/24/2019 10:38:27 PM
[Politics] WATCH: Mark Levin REACTS to the Mueller hearing Mark Levin responded to the Mueller hearing tonight on Hannity and lit into Schiff for his blatant hypocrisy on all things Russia, ignoring the Obama administration yet going after Trump like he’s . . . Published:7/24/2019 9:59:18 PM
[US News] Chuck Schumer forgets to give Barack Obama a shout-out while railing against Russia’s election meddling [video]

"Who was POTUS in 2016"?

The post Chuck Schumer forgets to give Barack Obama a shout-out while railing against Russia’s election meddling [video] appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:7/24/2019 7:28:45 PM
[Markets] Russia Pledges More Military & Economic Support To Cuba Against "External Threats"

While on a tour of Latin America, and ahead of a BRICS ministerial meeting set for Rio de Janeiro, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Cuba Wednesday, where he pledged continued economic and military support against Cuba's "external threats". Talks with Cuban officials also focused heavily on the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, given both countries are staunch allies of President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

"Our policy towards Cuba is that we shall support Cuba’s people not only politically, not only morally, not only by means of developing military technical cooperation but also through encouraging trade and economic projects to help that country’s economy become more resistant to all kinds of external threats," he said.

FM Lavrov with Cuban diplomat and politician  Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla. Image source: Russian MFA/Foreign Brief

Lavrov met with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, a month after a Russian warship stopped in Cuba — a mere one hundred miles off the American coast — to build up joint military relations between the two countries. It was at the end of June that the Kalibr missile-armed frigate Admiral Gorshkov entered the port of Havana. 

During that prior exercise Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov grabbed headlines when he slammed US build-up of its weapons systems in Europe by invoking comparisons to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis

“We could find ourselves in a situation where we have a rocket crisis close not just to the crisis of the 1980s but close to the Caribbean crisis,” Ryabkov had stated at the time while using the standard Russian term for the Cuban missile crisis.

In the days prior to the Wednesday Russian state visit to Cuba, Ryabkov had also called on the international community to free itself from a purely US-controlled international financial system and US dollar dominance. 

"We must protect ourselves from political abuses made with the help of the US dollar and the American banking system," he said Sunday addressing a ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Venezuela, according to TASS. "We must turn our dependence in this sphere into independence," he added.

"Let us be multipolar in the spheres of finance and currency," he said.

The senior diplomat was specifically addressing US-led sanctions and the tightening economic noose, including a near total oil export blockade, on the Maduro government in Caracas. He also no doubt had in mind the decades long embargo on Cuba which reaches back far into the Cold War.

In April the White House actually increased sanctions on Cuba, including further limiting travel of US citizens to the island and a new cap on remittances "at $1,000 per person every three months" (compared to unlimited remittances allowed for under the Obama administration), among other measures to squeeze the Cuban economy, already severely hurting due to the oil embargo on nearby Venezuela, on which Havana is substantially dependent to meet energy needs.

The Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov weeks ago docked in the port of Havana. Image source: Reuters

The Russian officials' comments also come after early this year the Maduro regime was stymied in its bid to pull $1.2 billion worth of gold out of the Bank of England, according to a January Bloomberg report. The Bank of England’s (BoE) decision to deny Maduro officials’ withdrawal request was a the height of US coup efforts targeting Maduro.

Specifically top US officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, had lobbied their UK counterparts to help cut off the regime from its overseas assets, as we reported at the time. Washington has further lobbied other international institutions, and especially its Latin American allies, to seize Venezuelan assets and essentially hold them for control of Juan Guaido's opposition government in exile. 

Deputy FM Ryabkov in his Sunday comments held up the Venezuela situation as an example of "barefaced misappropriation of assets kept at Western banks."

He described further:

"This is just one of the examples of a wider policy of deliberate instigation of crises to change government, to replace legitimately elected politician with American stooges."

Despite western capitals virtue-signaling their "rules-based order" approach, Ryabkov said instead, "We think that it is not a rule-based world order, it is rather a foisted and imposed world order."

Meanwhile, the establishment of the 'SWIFT-alternative' Instex - now online as of three weeks ago - constitutes the biggest threat the dollar as a reserve currency to date, especially if Russia follows through on its prior signalling that it could take the bold step of joining.

Published:7/24/2019 2:26:32 PM
[Markets] Iran Claims IAEA Chief Behind Nuclear Deal "Eliminated" By Israeli Intelligence

Iran state media has made bombshell sensational claims of a conspiracy assassination of the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), whose death was reported early this week, prompting a firm denial from the powerful UN nuclear watchdog body. 

On Wednesday semi-official Tasnim news agency claimed Israeli intelligence "eliminated" Yukiya Amano, who was the Director General of the IAEA and oversaw the singing of the landmark 2015 P5+1 nuclear deal (JCPOA). Iranian sources allege the covert assassination was carried out on the powerful staunch supporter of the JCPOA in order to gain leverage to force Tehran into dealing with the Trump White House's “pressure-talks” scheme, as Tasnim put it. 

IAEA's Yukiya Amano previously Iran's President Rohani in Tehran.

The 72-year old Amano, who was also a career Japanese diplomat, was considered a huge influence in seeing the Iranian nuclear deal through and ensuring its continued survival over and against recent Trump administration pressure. Trump had famously called the 2015 agreement brokered by the Obama administration "the worst deal ever negotiated" before ordering the unilateral US pullout. 

The UN nuclear watchdog chief died on July 18, with the family only disclosing his passing on late Sunday, but no details as to the cause of death were given; however, a UN statement said he was due to step down next March due to an unspecified illness. Meanwhile Iran provided zero evidence for its wild accusation, nor did the report suggest exactly how the alleged Israeli intelligence plot was carried out. 

The Iranian allegation made waves inside Israel and at the IAEA Wednesday, as the Times of Israel reports

The Tehran-based outlet, which defines its mission as “defending the Islamic Revolution against negative media propaganda campaign [sic],” cited unnamed “informed sources” who insisted that Amano, a Japanese diplomat who was extensively involved in negotiations over Iran’s controversial nuclear program, had been “eliminated” after refusing to buckle to “heavy pressure” from Jerusalem and Washington.

This prompted a firm denial from the IAEA, which told The Times of Israel: [We] categorically deny these false reports. Director General Yukiya Amano passed away on 18 July as a result of his illness.”

Yukiya Amano, IAEA's director-general, via EPA/Al Jazeera

The Tasnim report alleged further: “There is evidence that the Trump administration and the Israeli regime were constantly pressuring the Japanese diplomat to accuse Iran of violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.” The semi-official state outlet said Amano refused “to open a false case against Iran on the nuclear issue,” according to Tasnim's sources.

The Times of Israel report indicated his likely cause of death as follows: "Two European diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had cancer."

Also on Wednesday Iran again rejected the prospect of new negotiations with the White House "under any circumstances," according to an interview with Supreme Leader Ayotallah Ali Khamenei’s Military Adviser Hossein Dehghan, cited in Al Jazeera.

Published:7/24/2019 12:55:18 PM
[Politics] MSNBC Analyst: Mueller ‘Sucked The Life Out Of The Report’

MSNBC contributor and former Obama administration official Jeremy Bash said Robert Mueller's appearance before the House Judiciary Committee "sucked the life out of the report" and "set back" efforts to impeach President Donald Trump.

The post MSNBC Analyst: Mueller ‘Sucked The Life Out Of The Report’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/24/2019 12:55:18 PM
[Government Regulation] Another Great Obama-Undoing: Plug the Obama-Era Holes In Our Patent Protections

The following article, Another Great Obama-Undoing: Plug the Obama-Era Holes In Our Patent Protections, was first published on Godfather Politics.

One important policy area that has not received the serious Obama undoing required is Intellectual Property (IP) or patent policies.

Continue reading: Another Great Obama-Undoing: Plug the Obama-Era Holes In Our Patent Protections ...

Published:7/24/2019 10:24:42 AM
[Markets] The Epstein Case Is A Rare Opportunity To Focus "On The Depraved Nature Of America's Elite"

Authored by Michael Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Perhaps, at long last, a serial rapist and pedophile may be brought to justice, more than a dozen years after he was first charged with crimes that have brutalized countless girls and women. But what won’t change is this: the cesspool of elites, many of them in New York, who allowed Jeffrey Epstein to flourish with impunity.

For decades, important, influential, “serious” people attended Epstein’s dinner parties, rode his private jet, and furthered the fiction that he was some kind of genius hedge-fund billionaire. How do we explain why they looked the other way, or flattered Epstein, even as they must have noticed he was often in the company of a young harem? Easy: They got something in exchange from him, whether it was a free ride on that airborne “Lolita Express,” some other form of monetary largesse, entrée into the extravagant celebrity soirées he hosted at his townhouse, or, possibly and harrowingly, a pound or two of female flesh.

– From the New York Magazine article: Who Was Jeffrey Epstein Calling? 

An honest assessment of the current state of American politics and society in general leaves little room for optimism regarding the public’s ability to accurately diagnose, much less tackle, our fundamental issues at a root level. A primary reason for this state of affairs boils down to the ease with which the American public is divided against itself and conquered.

Though there are certain issues pretty much everyone can agree on, we simply aren’t focusing our collective energy on them or creating the mass movements necessary to address them. Things such as systemic bipartisan corruption, the institutionalization of a two-tier justice system in which the wealthy and powerful are above the law, a broken economy that requires both parents to work and still barely make ends meet, and a military-industrial complex consumed with profits and imperial aggression not national defense. These are just a few of the many issues that should easily unite us against an entrenched power structure, but it is not happening. At least not yet.

We currently find ourselves at a unique inflection point in American history. Though I agree with Charles Hugh Smith’s assessment that “Our Ruling Elites Have No Idea How Much We Want to See Them All in Prison Jumpsuits,” we have yet to reach the point where the general public is prepared to do something about it. I think there are several reasons for this, but the primary obstacle relates to how easily the citizenry is divided and conquered. The mass media, largely owned and controlled by billionaires and their corporations, is highly incentivized to keep the public divided against itself on trivial issues, or at best, on real problems that are merely symptoms of bipartisan elitist plunder.

The key thing, from a plutocrat’s point of view, is to make sure the public never takes a step back and sees the root of society’s problems. It isn’t Trump or Obama, and it isn’t the Republican or Democratic parties either. These individuals and political gangs are just useful vehicles for elitist plunder. They help herd the rabble into comfortable little tribal boxes that results in made for tv squabbling, while the true forces of power carry on with the business of societal pillaging behind the scenes.

You’re encouraged to attach your identity to team Republican or team Democrat, but never unite as one voice against a bipartisan crew of depraved, corrupt and unaccountable power players molding society from the top. While the average person living paycheck to paycheck fashions themselves part of some biblical fight of good vs. evil by supporting team red or blue, the manipulative and powerful at the top remain beyond such plebeian theater (though they certainly encourage it). These folks know only one team — team green. And their team keeps winning, by the way.

When scanning the news most days, I see a constant amplification of wedge issues by mass media, blue-check pundits and even many in the so-called alternative media. I see people increasingly being encouraged to demonize and dehumanize their fellow citizens. Anyone who voted for Trump is automatically a Nazi, likewise, anyone who supports Sanders is an anti-American communist. The reality is neither of these things is even remotely true, so why are people so quick to say them?

Why is most of the anger in this country being directed at fellow powerless Americans versus upward at the power structure which nurtured and continues to defend the current depraved status quo? I don’t see any upside to actively encouraging one side of the political discussion to dehumanize the other side, and I suggest we consciously cease engaging in such behavior. Absolutely nothing good can come from it. 

Which is partly why I’ve been so consumed by the Jeffrey Epstein case. For once, it allows us to focus our energy on the depraved nature of the so-called American “elite,” rather than pick fights with each other. How many random Trump or Sanders supporters do you know who systematically molest children and then pass them off to their wealthy and powerful friends for purposes of blackmail?

The Epstein case shines a gigantic spotlight on just how twisted and sociopathic the highest echelons of U.S. society have become. This is exactly what happens when you fail to put wealthy and powerful super predators behind bars. They get more brazen, they get more demented and, ultimately, they destroy the very fabric that holds society together. We are in fact ruled by monsters.

Unfortunately, by being short-sighted, by fighting amongst ourselves, and by taking the easy route of punching down versus punching up, we allow such cretins to continue to rape and pillage what remains of our civilization.

If we can truly get to the bottom of exactly what Epstein was up to, I suspect it has the potential to focus the general public (beyond a few seconds) on the true nature of what’s really going on and what makes the world tick. Revelations of such a nature could provide the proverbial tipping point that’s so desperately needed, but this is also why the odds of us actually getting the whole story is quite low. There’s simply too much at stake for those calling the shots.

*  *  *

Side note: I’ve been consistently updating my Epstein twitter thread as I learn new information. I suggest checking back in from time to time.

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Published:7/24/2019 9:30:38 AM
[Markets] Facebook To Pay Record $5 Billion Fine In FTC Settlement

As extensively leaked in advance, on Wednesday morning Facebook agreed to pay a record $5 billion fine to resolve a long-running federal investigation that has damaged the company’s standing with consumers and clouded its future, and agreed to better police its data-privacy practices,

Under the settlement, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be required to certify that the company is in compliance with new privacy strictures, and could be subject to civil and criminal penalties for false certifications.

"The $5 billion penalty against Facebook is the largest ever imposed on any company for violating consumers’ privacy and almost 20 times greater than the largest privacy or data security penalty ever imposed worldwide,” the Federal Trade Commission said in a news release. “It is one of the largest penalties ever assessed by the U.S. government for any violation."

To many the penalty, which is a fraction of what Facebook makes in one year, was merely a token wristslap, and will do nothing to change the company's entrenched culture, which in recent months has seen Facebook proactive seek out to censor free speech on its website, especially when it comes from conservative voices.

To be sure, as the WSJ notes, the extent of the fine was blunted by stinging dissents from the two Democrats on the five-member commission, who said the financial penalty was insufficient and the settlement does little to change Facebook’s basic incentives to gather and leverage users’ data.

“The settlement imposes no meaningful changes to the company’s structure or financial incentives, which led to these violations,” commissioner Rohit Chopra said in a statement. “Nor does it include any restrictions on the company’s mass surveillance or advertising tactics.”

“Rather than accepting this settlement, I believe we should have initiated litigation against Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg,” said commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter.

That, however, was not meant to happen as few in Congress and elsewhere dare to challenge what has become the world's most powerful media company.

The Republican board majority led by Chairman Joe Simons said that suing Zuckerberg for past violations wouldn’t serve the public interest.

“Mr. Zuckerberg will be held accountable for certifying quarterly—under threat of civil and criminal penalties—that the company’s privacy program is in compliance with the order,” the FTC’s majority wrote. “The relief we have achieved today solves concrete problems, rather than venting frustration with individuals.”

In a separate matter, the SEC was set to announce a settlement with Facebook— including a fine of more than $100 million — over claims it insufficiently warned investors that developers and other third parties may have obtained users’ data without their permission or in violation of Facebook policies, according to a person familiar with the matter. Facebook neither admitted nor denied the SEC's claims.

The settlement with the FTC requires creation of a new committee of Facebook’s board to monitor the company’s privacy practices. Legal experts said they couldn’t recall prior FTC privacy settlements imposing such a requirement. “If the committee had appropriate authority and was answerable to the FTC, it could have a significant impact,” David Vladeck, a former head of the agency’s consumer protection bureau during the Obama administration, said on Monday before the agreement’s announcement.

The order also requires Facebook to report to the FTC incidents where data of 500 or more users has been compromised, along with the company’s efforts to address the problems, and to deliver the documentation within 30 days.

Published:7/24/2019 7:55:52 AM
[Markets] MH17 Evidence-Tampering Exposed: Cover-Ups, Hiding Records, Witness Misreporting, & FBI Seizures

Authored by John Helmer,

A new documentary from Max van der Werff, the leading independent investigator of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 disaster, has revealed breakthrough evidence of tampering and forging of prosecution materials;  suppression of Ukrainian Air Force radar tapes;  and lying by the Dutch, Ukrainian, US and Australian governments. An attempt by agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to take possession of the black boxes of the downed aircraft is also revealed by a Malaysian National Security Council official for the first time.

The sources of the breakthrough are Malaysian - Prime Minister of Malaysia Mohamad Mahathir; Colonel Mohamad Sakri, the officer in charge of the MH17 investigation for the Prime Minister’s Department and Malaysia’s National Security Council following the crash on July 17, 2014; and a forensic analysis by Malaysia’s OG IT Forensic Services of Ukrainian Secret Service (SBU) telephone tapes which Dutch prosecutors have announced as genuine.

The 298 casualties of MH17 included 192 Dutch; 44 Malaysians; 27 Australians; 15 Indonesians.  The nationality counts vary because the airline manifest does not identify dual nationals of Australia, the UK, and the US. 

The new film throws the full weight of the Malaysian Government, one of the five members of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), against the published findings and the recent indictment of Russian suspects reported by the Dutch officials in charge of the JIT; in addition to Malaysia and The Netherlands, the members of the JIT are Australia, Ukraine and Belgium. Malaysia’s exclusion from the JIT at the outset, and Belgium’s inclusion (4 Belgian nationals were listed on the MH17 passenger manifest), have never been explained. 

The film reveals the Malaysian Government’s evidence for judging the JIT’s witness testimony, photographs, video clips, and telephone tapes to have been manipulated by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), and to be inadmissible in a criminal prosecution in a Malaysian or other national or international court.

For the first time also, the Malaysian Government reveals how it got in the way of attempts the US was organizing during the first week after the crash to launch a NATO military attack on eastern Ukraine. The cover story for that was to rescue the plane, passenger bodies, and evidence of what had caused the crash. In fact, the operation was aimed at defeating the separatist  movements in the Donbass, and to move against Russian-held Crimea.

The new film reveals that a secret Malaysian military operation took custody of the MH17 black boxes on July 22, preventing the US and Ukraine from seizing them.  The Malaysian operation, revealed in the film by the Malaysian Army colonel who led it, eliminated the evidence for the camouflage story, reinforcing the German Government’s opposition to the armed attack, and forcing the Dutch to call off the invasion on July 27.  

The 28-minute documentary by Max van der Werff and Yana Yerlashova has just been released. Yerlashova was the film director and co-producer with van der Werff and Ahmed Rifazal. Vitaly Biryaukov directed the photography. Watch it in full here

The full interview with Prime Minister Mahathir was released in advance; it can be viewed and read here

Mahathir reveals why the US, Dutch and Australian governments attempted to exclude Malaysia from membership of the JIT in the first months of the investigation. During that period, US, Dutch, Australian and NATO officials initiated a plan for 9,000 troops to enter eastern Ukraine, ostensibly to secure the crash scene, the aircraft and passenger remains, and in response to the alleged Russian role in the destruction of MH17 on July 17; for details of that scheme, read this.  

Although German opposition to military intervention forced its cancellation, the Australians sent a 200-man special forces unit to The Netherlands and then Kiev. The European Union and the US followed with economic sanctions against Russia on July 29.

Malaysian resistance to the US attempts to blame Moscow for the aircraft shoot-down was made clear in the first hours after the incident to then-President Barack Obama by Malaysia’s Prime Minister at the time, Najib Razak. That story can be followed here and here

In an unusual decision to speak in the new documentary, Najib’s successor Prime Minister Mahathir announced:

They never allowed us to be involved from the very beginning.  This is unfair and unusual. So we can see they are not really looking at the causes of the crash and who was responsible. But already they have decided it must be Russia. So we cannot accept that kind of attitude. We are interested in the rule of law, in justice for everyone irrespective of who is involved. We have to know who actually fired the missile, and only then can we accept the report as the complete truth.”

On July 18, in the first Malaysian Government press conference after the shoot-down, Najib (right) announced agreements he had already reached by telephone with Obama and Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian President.

‘Obama and I agreed that the investigation will not be hidden and the international teams have to be given access to the crash scene.’ [Najib] said the Ukrainian president ?has pledged that there would be a full, thorough and independent investigation and Malaysian officials would be invited to take part. ‘He also confirmed that his government will negotiate with rebels in the east of the country in order to establish a humanitarian corridor to the crash site,’ said Najib. He also said that no one should remove any debris or the black box from the scene. The Government of Malaysia is dispatching a special flight to Kiev, carrying a Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team, as well as a medical team. But we must – and we will – find out precisely what happened to this flight. No stone can be left unturned.”

The new film reveals in an interview with Colonel Mohamad Sakri, the head of the Malaysian team, what happened next.  Sakri’s evidence, filmed in his office at Putrajaya, is the first to be reported by the press outside Malaysia in five years. A year ago, Sakri gave a partial account of his mission to a Malaysian newspaper

Source: https://www.youtube.com/

“I talked to my prime minister [Najib],” Colonel Sakri says. “He directed me to go to the crash site immediately.” At the time Sakri was a senior security official at the Disaster Management Division of the Prime Minister’s Department. Sakri says that after arriving in Kiev, Poroshenko’s officials blocked the Malaysians. “We were not allowed to go there…so I took a small team to leave Kiev going to Donetsk secretly.” There Sakri toured the crash site, and met with officials of the Donetsk separatist administration headed by Alexander Borodai

With eleven men, including two medical specialists, a signalman, and Malaysian Army commandos, Sakri had raced to the site ahead of an armed convoy of Australian, Dutch and Ukrainian government men. The latter were blocked by Donetsk separatist units. The Australian state press agency ABC reported   their military convoy, prodded from Kiev by the appearance of Australian and Dutch foreign ministers Julie Bishop and Frans Timmermans, had been forced to abandon their mission. That was after Colonel Sakri had taken custody of the MH17 black boxes in a handover ceremony filmed at Borodai’s office in Donetsk on July 22.

US sources told the Wall Street Journal  at the time “the [Sakri] mission’s success delivered a political victory for Mr. Najib’s government… it also handed a gift to the rebels in the form of an accord, signed by the top Malaysian official present in Donetsk, calling the crash site ‘the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic.’…That recognition could antagonize Kiev and Washington, which have striven not to give any credibility to the rebels, whose main leaders are Russian citizens with few ties to the area. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a briefing Monday that the negotiation ‘in no way legitimizes’ separatists.”

The Australian state radio then reported the Ukrainian government as claiming the black box evidence showed “the reason for the destruction and crash of the plane was massive explosive decompression arising from multiple shrapnel perforations from a rocket explosion.” This was a fabrication – the evidence of the black boxes, the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, first reported six weeks later in September by the Dutch Safety Board, showed nothing of the kind; read what their evidence revealed

Foreign Minister Bishop,  in Kiev on July 24, claimed she was negotiating with the Ukrainians for the Australian team in the country to carry arms. “I don’t envisage that we will ever resort to [arms],” she told her state news agency, “but it is a contingency planning, and you would be reckless not to include it in this kind of agreement. But I stress our mission is unarmed because it is [a] humanitarian mission.”

In Kiev on July 24, 2014, left to right: Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop; Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin. Source: https://www.alamy.com/ The NATO intervention plan was still under discussion, but the black boxes were already under Malaysian control.

By the time she spoke to her state radio, Bishop was concealing that the plan for armed intervention, including 3,000 Australian troops, had been called off.  She was also concealing that the black boxes were already in Colonel Sakri’s possession.  

The document signed by Sakri for the handover of the black boxes is visible in the new documentary. Sakri signed himself and added the stamp of the National Security Council of Malaysia.


Col. Sakri says on film the Donetsk leaders expressed surprise at the delay of the Malaysians in arriving at the crash site to recover the black boxes. “Why are you so late”, [Borodai] said…I think [that was] very funny.”

Source:  https://www.youtube.com/Min. 05:47.

Sakri goes on to say he was asked by the OSCE’s special monitoring mission for Ukraine to hand over the black boxes; he refused. He was then met by agents of the FBI (Min 6:56). “They approached me to show them the black box. I said no.” He also reports that in Kiev the Ukrainian Government tried “forcing me to leave the black boxes with them. We said no. We cannot. We cannot allow.”


The handover ceremony in Donetsk, July 22, 2014: on far left, the two black boxes from MH17; in the centre, shaking hands, Alexander Borodai and Mohamad Sakri.

Permission for Colonel Sakri to speak to the press has been authorized by his superiors at the prime ministry in Putrajaya, and his disclosures agreed with them in advance.  

Subsequent releases from the Kiev government to substantiate the allegation of Russian involvement in the shoot-down have included telephone tape recordings. These were presented last month by the JIT as their evidence for indictment of four Russians; for details, read this.

Van der Werff and Yerlashova contracted with OG IT Forensic Services,  a Malaysian firm specializing in forensic analysis of audio, video and digital materials for court proceedings, to examine the telephone tapes.  The Kuala Lumpur firm has been endorsed by the Malaysian Bar.  The full 143-page technical report can be read here

The findings reported by Akash Rosen and illustrated on camera are that the telephone recordings have been cut, edited and fabricated. The source of the tapes, according to the JIT press conference on June 19 by Dutch police officer Paulissen, head of the National Criminal Investigation Service of The Netherlands, was the Ukrainian SBU. Similar findings of tape fabrication and evidence tampering are reported on camera in the van der Werff film by a German analyst, Norman Ritter.


Left: Dutch police chief Paulissen grins as he acknowledged during the June 19, 2019, press conference of JIT that the telephone tape evidence on which the charges against the four accused Russians came from the Ukrainian SBU.   Minute 16:02 Right: Norman Ritter presented his analysis to interviewer Billy Sixt to show the telephone tape evidence has been forged in nine separate “manipulations”.  One of the four accused by the JIT last month, Sergei Dubinsky, testifies from Min. 17 of the documentary. He says his men recovered the black boxes from the crash site and delivered them to Borodai at 2300 hours on July 17; the destruction of the aircraft occurred at 1320. Dubinsky testifies that he had no orders for and took no part in the shoot-down. As for the telephone tape-recording evidence against him, Dubinsky says the calls were made days before July 17, and edited by the SBU. “I dare them to publish the uncut conversations, and then you will get a real picture of what was discussed.” (Min. 17:59).  

Van der Werff and Yerlashova filmed at the crash site in eastern Ukraine. Several local witnesses were interviewed, including a man named Alexander from Torez town, and Valentina Kovalenko, a woman from the farming village of Red October. The man said the missile equipment alleged by the JIT to have been transported from across the Russian border on July 17 was in Torez at least one, possibly two days before the shoot-down on July 17; he did not confirm details the JIT has identified as a Buk system.

Kovalenko, first portrayed in a BBC documentary three years ago (starting at Min.26:50) as a “unique” eye-witness to the missile launch, clarifies more precisely than the BBC reported where the missile she saw had been fired from.


BBC documentary, “The Conspiracy Files. Who Shot Down MH17” -- Min. 27:00. The BBC broadcast its claims over three episodes in April-May 2016. For a published summary, read this

This was not the location identified in press statements by JIT. Van der Werff explains: “we specifically asked [Kovalenko] to point exactly in the direction the missile came from. I then asked twice if maybe it was from the direction of the JIT launch site. She did not see a launch nor a plume from there. Notice the JIT ‘launch site’ is less than two kilometres from her house and garden. The BBC omitted this crucial part of her testimony.”

According to Kovalenko in the new documentary, at the firing location she has now identified precisely, “at that moment the Ukrainian Army were there.”

Kovalenko also remembers that on the days preceding the July 17 missile firing she witnessed,  there had been Ukrainian military aircraft operating in the sky above her village. She says they used evasion techniques including flying in the shadow of civilian aircraft she also saw at the same time.

On July 17, three other villagers told van der Werff they had seen a Ukrainian military jet in the vicinity and at the time of the MH17 crash.

Concluding the documentary, van der Werff and Yerlashova present an earlier interview filmed in Donetsk by independent Dutch journalist Stefan Beck, whom JIT officials had tried to warn off visiting the area. Beck interviewed Yevgeny Volkov, who was an air controller for the Ukrainian Air Force in July 2014. Volkov was asked to comment on Ukrainian Government statements, endorsed by the Dutch Safety Board report into the crash and in subsequent reports by the JIT, that there were no radar records of the airspace at the time of the shoot-down because Ukrainian military radars were not operational.

Volkov explained that on July 17 there were three radar units at Chuguev on “full alert” because “fighter jets were taking off from there;” Chuguev is 200 kilometres northwest of the crash site.  He disputed that the repairs to one unit meant none of the three was operating. Ukrainian radar records of the location and time of the MH17 attack were made and kept, Volkov said. “There [they] have it. In Ukraine they have it.”

Last month, at the JIT press conference in The Netherlands on June 19, the Malaysian representative present,  Mohammed Hanafiah Bin Al Zakaria,  one of three Solicitors-General of the Malaysian Attorney General’s ministry,  refused to endorse for the Malaysian Governnment the JIT evidence or its charges against Russia. “Malaysia would like to reiterate our commitment to the JIT seeking justice for the victims,” Zakaria said.  “The objective of the JIT is to complete the investigations and gathering of evidence of all witnesses for the purpose of prosecuting the wrongdoers and Malaysia stands by the rule of law and the due process.” [Question: do you support the conclusions?] “Part of the conclusions [inaudible] – do not change our positions.”

Published:7/23/2019 10:22:07 PM
[Markets] Pennsylvania School Warns "Your Child May Be Taken From Your Home" Over Unpaid Lunch Debt

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

A school in Pennsylvania is warning parents that their children can be taken from their homes and placed in foster care if the child has unpaid school lunch debt.  In a letter sent out to about 1,000 parents from the Wyoming Valley West School District, the warning stated that dependency hearings could occur if parents won’t pay their kids’ lunch bills.

The letter’s ominous warning that failure to pay for their children’s school lunches could lead to dependency hearings and the removal of their children from their home came as the school district has multiple unpaid lunch bills. The bills reportedly range from $75 to $450 and total over $20,000, reported RT.

Obvious fallout continues over the school district’s threats.

Luzerne County child welfare authorities said the alarming threat was false and harmed those most vulnerable – such as those unable to make good on those bills.

Responding to the outrage, the school district said the stern letter was simply a desperate attempt at collecting fees they are owed. Wyoming Valley West’s lawyer, Charles Coslett, said he did not consider the letters threatening and told WYOU-TV that it’s “shameful some parents don’t want to contribute towards feeding their own kids.

Regardless of the reason the letter was sent out, parents were terrified – especially those without the money to immediately pay off their bills.  School officials have now said that they will send out a less severe follow-up letter to parents next week. But this letter tells us all we need to know about those who are “educating” our children with our tax dollars: Comply, or we will make you comply.

This is not the first time parents have been threatened either.

Back in 2013, parents were threatened with armed raids unless they complied with the demands of the school for children to undergo forced medical exams.

The US government seems more and more convinced that THEY own YOUR kids. Just this week, a Tennessee dad was arrested for picking up his young children after school instead of allowing them to cross into traffic as the school’s policy demanded. Some schools won’t allow lunches to be sent from home, and if they are, the school insists on supplementing those lunches at extortionist rates in order to control the situation regardless of parental wishes. This doesn’t even take into account the dumbed-down Common Core curriculum, the absurd attempts to be politically correct, and the zero-tolerance insanity that causes kids to be charged with felonies for having loaded fishing tackle boxes in their vehicles or cutlery in their lunch boxes.

The Daily Sheeple

If you’ve ever wondered why the homeschooling rates are so high, you should no longer have to. Parents are being threatened into compliance with government-run schools and most have become sick of it. Unfortunately, most families live paycheck to paycheck and homeschooling children has become a massive financial hardship for too many in the land of the “free.”

The book IndocriNation by Colin Gunn andJoaquin Fernandez (is about why a growing number of parents choose not to send their children to public school. The [American] classroom anti-Christian ideologies from humanism, marxism, utopianism, educational psychology, and more confronting students in public schools today

Look behind the comfortable myths of an educational system actively at work to alter your child’s moral values, worldview, and religious beliefs. Learn the history and philosophy of public school education – and discover it is based on neither Christian nor American values.

Published:7/23/2019 9:23:06 PM
[Markets] These Questions For Mueller Show Why Russiagate Was Never The Answer

Authored by Aaron Maté via TheNation.com,

The former special counsel still has a lot he can clarify...

“For two years, Democrats have waited on Robert Mueller to deliver a death blow to the Trump presidency,” The New York Times observed on July 20.

“On Wednesday, in back-to-back hearings with the former special counsel, that wish could face its final make-or-break moment.”

The very fact that Democrats had to subpoena Mueller in order to create this final moment should in fact be the final reminder of what a mistake it was for Democrats to have waited on him. If Mueller had incriminating information yet to share, or had been stymied from doing his work, or if Attorney General William Barr had somehow misrepresented his findings, then it stands to reason that Mueller would be welcoming the opportunity to appear before Congress, not resisting it. The reality is that Mueller’s investigation did not indict a single person for collusion with Russia, or even for anything related to the 2016 election. Mueller’s report found no evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy, and even undermined the case for it.

That said, there are unresolved matters that Mueller’s testimony could help clarify. Mueller claimed to have established that the Russian government conducted “a sweeping and systematic” interference campaign in order to elect Trump, yet the contents of his report don’t support that allegation. The Mueller report repeatedly excludes countervailing information in order to suggest, misleadingly, that the Trump campaign had suspect “links” and “ties” to people connected with Russia. And Mueller and other intelligence officials involved in the Russia probe made questionable investigative decisions that are worthy of scrutiny. To address these issues, here are some questions that Mueller could be asked.

I should note that missing from my list is anything related to obstruction. This topic will surely dominate Democrats’ line of questioning, but I view it as secondary and more appropriate for a law school seminar. The core issue of the Mueller investigation is alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s potential coordination with it. The obstruction issue only began to dominate after it was clear that Mueller had found no such conspiracy. Although the report does show examples of Trump’s stated intent to impede the Mueller investigation, the probe itself was unhindered.

There is also the fact that Mueller himself declined to make a call on obstruction, and even presented arguments that could be used to refute it. The obstruction section of the report notes that Trump was not “involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.” Although not dispositive, Mueller says that “the absence of that evidence affects the analysis of the President’s intent and requires consideration of other possible motives for his conduct.” In a joint statement with Barr, Mueller also made clear that “he was not saying that, but for the [Office of Legal Counsel] opinion, he would have found the President obstructed justice.” Accordingly, I see no reason why Congressional Democrats are so confident that Mueller found otherwise.

1. Why did you suggest that juvenile clickbait from a Russian troll farm was part of a “sweeping and systematic” Russian government interference effort?

The Mueller report begins by declaring that “[t]he Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” A few paragraphs later, Mueller tells us that Russian interference occurred “principally through two operations.” The first of these operations was “a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton,” carried out by a Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA).

The inference here is that the IRA was a part of the Russian government’s “sweeping and systematic” interference campaign. Yet Mueller’s team has been forced to admit in court that this was a false insinuation. Earlier this month, a federal judge rebuked Mueller and the Justice Department for having “improperly suggested a link” between IRA and the Kremlin. U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich noted that Mueller’s February 2018 indictment of the IRA “does not link the [IRA] to the Russian government” and alleges “only private conduct by private actors.” Jonathan Kravis, a senior prosecutor on the Mueller team, acknowledged that this is the case. “[T]he report itself does not state anywhere that the Russian government was behind the Internet Research Agency activity,” Kravis told the court.

Kravis is correct. The Mueller report did not state that the Kremlin was behind the social media campaign; it only disingenuously suggested it. Mueller also goes to great lengths to paint it as a sophisticated operation that “had the ability to reach millions of U.S. persons.” Yet, as we already know, most of the Russian social media content was juvenile clickbait that had nothing to do with the election (only 7 percent of IRA’s Facebook posts mentioned either Trump or Clinton). There is also no evidence that the political content reached a mass audience, and to the extent it reached anyone, most of it occurred after the election.

2. Are you still convinced that the GRU stole Democratic Party emails and transferred them to Wikileaks?

Between the initial July 2018 indictment of 12 GRU officers for the DNC email theft and Mueller’s March 2019 report, some wiggle room appears. As I wrote this month for RealClearInvestigations, Mueller’s report uses qualified, vague language to describe the alleged GRU theft of Democratic Party emails, offers an implausible timeline for when Wikileaks may havereceived the emails from the GRU, and acknowledges that Mueller has not actually established how WikiLeaks acquired the stolen information.

3. Why didn’t you interview Julian Assange?

The uncertainty in Mueller’s account of how WikiLeaks received the stolen emails could possibly have been cleared up had Mueller attempted to interview Julian Assange. The WikiLeaks founder insists that the Russian government was not his source, and has repeatedly offered to speak to US investigators. Given that Assange received and published the stolen emails at the heart of Mueller’s investigation, his absence from Mueller’s voluminous witness sheet is a glaring omission.

4. Why did you imply that key figures were Russian agents, and leave out countervailing information, including their (more) extensive Western ties?

In the report, Mueller goes to great lengths to insinuate—without directly asserting—that two key figures in the Trump-Russia affair, Konstanin Kilimnik and Joseph Mifsud, acted as Kremlin agents or intermediaries. In the process, he omits or minimizes extensive evidence that casts doubt on their supposed Russia connections or makes clear their far more extensive Western ties. Mueller ignores the fact that the State Department described Kilimnik as a “sensitive source” who was regularly supplying inside information on Ukrainian politics. And Mueller emphasizes that Mifsud “had connections to Russia” and “maintained various Russian contacts,” but doesn’t ever mention that he has deep connections in Western intelligence and diplomatic circles.

Stephan Roh, a Swiss lawyer who has previously represented Mifsud, has maintained that Mifsud “is not a Russian spy but a Western intelligence co-operator.” Whatever the case, it is puzzling that Mueller emphasized Mifsud’s “connections to Russia” but ignored his connections to governments in the West. It’s also baffling that none of this was clarified when the FBI interviewed Mifsud in February 2017—which raises a whole new question for Mueller.

5. Why did you indict several Trump officials for perjury, but not Joseph Mifsud?

Adding to the puzzle surrounding Mifsud is Mueller’s revelation that Mifsud made false statements to FBI investigators when they interviewed him in February 2017. (Mifsud was in Washington, DC, for a conference sponsored by the State Department, yet one more Western “connection” that has gone overlooked). If Mifsud really was a Russian agent, then it was always a mystery why he was not arrested then, nor indicted since. And given that Mueller indicted others for lying to the FBI—foremost George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn—it is unclear why Mifsud was not.

6. Why did you omit the fact that Rob Goldstone’s offer to Donald Jr.—”official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia” as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump”—was “publicist puff” (in other words, a lie)?

Mueller devotes a 13-page section to the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, where Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with Russian nationals after Trump Jr. was promised “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia.” Mueller says that “the meeting showed that the Campaign anticipated receiving information from Russia that could assist candidate Trump’s electoral prospects,” but acknowledges that the Russians present “did not provide such information.”

What Mueller conspicuously does not acknowledge is that the information “that the Campaign anticipated receiving from Russia” was in fact fictional, and not from Russia. The offer came from British music publicist Rob Goldstone, who was tasked with securing the meeting at the request of his Russian pop star client, Emin Agalarov. In an act of what he called “publicist puff,” Goldstone said he about “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” that would later be widely described as “the smoking gun” for collusion.

Goldstone told me this week that he was disappointed that Mueller chose to omit that critical part of his testimony. “I told them that I had used my PR, puffed-up flourish in order to get Don Jr.’s attention,” Goldstone said. Mueller’s decision to exclude that, Goldstone added, is a “shame… It would have been opportunity to have closure on that.”

7. Did the Trump campaign receive any Russian government offers of assistance from anyone actually acting on behalf of the Russian government?

The Mueller report obscures the absence of contacts between Trump and Russian government intermediaries with ambiguous, suggestive assertions that the investigation “identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign,” or “identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign.”

But the cases of Konstantin Kilimnik, Joseph Mifsud, and Rob Goldstone underscore a rather inconvenient fact for proponents of the theory that the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government: There are zero documented cases of Trump officials interacting with actual Kremlin intermediaries making actual offers of assistance. The only Kremlin officials or representatives shown to interact with the Trump camp in any significant way before the election are the Russian ambassador having routine encounters and a Kremlin assistant who declined Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s request for assistance on the failed Trump Tower Moscow project.

8. Were US intelligence officials compromised by Russophobia?

Key US officials behind the Russia investigation have made no secret of their animus towards Russia. “I do always hate the Russians,” Lisa Page, a senior FBI lawyer on the Russia probe, testified to Congress in July 2018. “It is my opinion that 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.” As he opened the FBI’s probe of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russians in July 2016, FBI agent Peter Strzok texted Page: “fuck the cheating motherfucking Russians… Bastards. I hate them… I think they’re probably the worst. Fucking conniving cheating savages.” Speaking to NBC News in May 2017, the former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper explained why US officials saw interactions between the Trump camp and Russian nationals as a cause for alarm: “The Russians,” Clapper said, “almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique. So we were concerned.” In a May interview with Lawfare, former FBI General Counsel Jim Baker, who helped oversee the Russia probe, explained the origins of the investigation as follows: “It was about Russia, period, full stop… When the [George] Papadopoulos information comes across our radar screen, it’s coming across in the sense that we were always looking at Russia… we’ve been thinking about Russia as a threat actor for decades and decades.”

The fixation with Russia was so great that, as The New York Times revealed in January, on top of the FBI’s initial probe in the summer of 2016, the bureau opened a second probe in May of 2017 over whether or not Trump himself was “working on behalf of Russia against American interests.” TheNew York Times story makes no allusion to any evidence underlying the FBI’s concern. Instead, we learn that FBI was “disquieted” by a “constellation of events,” all public:

Mr. Trump had caught the attention of F.B.I. 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.

This account is remarkable not just because it shows that the FBI opened up an extraordinary investigation of the president of the United States as agent of Russia based on their interpretation of public events. It also shows that their interpretation of those public events involved several errors—Trump’s July 2016 comment was a joke, and the story about the GOP platform change was overblown (and later undermined in practice when Trump sold the weapons to Ukraine, a move President Obama had opposed).

The fact that so many key officials carry such xenophobic animus toward Russia - to the point where they felt compelled to act on erroneous interpretations of public events - raised legitimate questions about whether their personal biases influenced their professional decisions.

The same could be asked about the influential media and political voices who, despite the absent evidence and sheer absurdity of their conspiracy theory, elevated Russiagate as the dominant political issue of the Trump presidency. Whatever questions they may have left for Mueller, the now former special counsel and savior figure has made clear that he is not the answer.

Published:7/23/2019 8:51:10 PM
[US News] Joe Biden claims that ‘a lot of people were left behind’ by the Obama administration

Joe Biden sure is critical of the Obama administration.

The post Joe Biden claims that ‘a lot of people were left behind’ by the Obama administration appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:7/23/2019 4:52:42 PM
[Entertainment] NowThis site makes business of tweaking Fox News The website NowThis has attracted attention with a series of videos that contrasts Fox News’ treatment of President Donald Trump with his predecessor, Barack Obama Published:7/23/2019 4:52:42 PM
[Issues] Green Activists with Ties to China Advised Obama State Department

The Natural Resources Defense Council held close ties to the Obama administration, providing advice on joining the Paris Agreement while simultaneously maintaining ties to China, according to attorneys and policy analysts who have reviewed email records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The post Green Activists with Ties to China Advised Obama State Department appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/23/2019 4:17:03 AM
[Deep State] Report: Comey lied to, spyed on, Trump (Paul Mirengoff) Real Clear Investigations reports that Inspector General Michael Horowitz will say in his upcoming report that, although James Comey told President Trump he was not a target in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Comey had actually been spying on Trump to see if the president was colluding with Russia. If an Obama-appointed Justice Department official so concludes after a lengthy investigation, it will be devastating for Published:7/22/2019 6:50:21 PM
[a61127ff-889c-5880-805a-671115a126f9] Vogue editor Anna Wintour sidesteps question about Melania Trump's style, discusses Michelle Obama instead When interviewer Anne McElvoy asked Anna Wintour her thoughts about Melania Trump's recent fashion choices, the Vogue editor-in-chief answered the question by praising former first lady, Michelle Obama. Published:7/22/2019 4:44:13 PM
[Markets] Comey Under DOJ Investigation For Misleading Trump While Targeting Him In FBI Probe

Former FBI Director James Comey has been under investigation for misleading President Trump - telling him in private that he wasn't the target of an ongoing FBI probe, while refusing to admit to this in public.

According to RealClearInvestigations' Paul Sperry, "Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz will file a report in September which contains evidence that Comey was misleading the president" while conducting an active investigation against him. 

Even as he repeatedly assured Trump that he was not a target, the former director was secretly trying to build a conspiracy case against the president, while at times acting as an investigative agent. -RCI

According to two US officials familiar with Horowitz's upcoming report on FBI misconduct, Comey was essentially "running a covert operation" against Trump - which began with a private "defensive briefing" shortly after the inauguration. RCI's sources say that Horowitz has pored over text messages between the FBI's former top-brass and other communications suggesting that Comey was in fact conducting a "counterintelligence assessment" of the president during their January 2017 meeting in New York. 

What's more, Comey had an FBI agent in the White House who reported the activities of Trump and his aides, according to 'other officials familiar with the matter.' 

The agent, Anthony Ferrante, who specialized in cyber crime, left the White House around the same time Comey was fired and soon joined a security consulting firm, where he contracted with BuzzFeed to lead the news site's efforts to verify the Steele dossier, in connection with a defamation lawsuit. -RCI

According to the report, Horowitz and his team have examined over 1 million documents and conducted over 100 interviews - including sit-downs with Comey and other current and former FBI and DOJ employees. "The period covering Comey’s activities is believed to run from early January 2017 to early May 2017, when Comey was fired and his deputy Andrew McCabe, as the acting FBI director, formally opened full counterintelligence and obstruction investigations of the president." 

McCabe’s deputy, Lisa Page, appeared to dissemble last year when asked in closed-door testimony before the House Judiciary Committee if Comey and other FBI brass discussed opening an obstruction case against Trump prior to his firing in May 2017. Initially, she flatly denied it, swearing: “Obstruction of justice was not a topic of conversation during the time frame you have described.” But then, after conferring with her FBI-assigned lawyer, she announced: “I need to take back my prior statement.” Page later conceded that there could have been at least “discussions about potential criminal activity” involving the president. -RCI

Comey coordination

Sperry notes that Comey wasn't working in isolation on the Trump effort. In particular, Horowitz has looked at the January 6, 2017 briefing on the infamous 'Steele Dossier' - a meeting which was used by BuzzFeed, CNN and others to legitimize reporting on the dossier's salacious and unsubstantiated claims

Comey’s meeting with Trump took place one day after the FBI director met in the Oval Office with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to discuss how to brief Trump — a meeting attended by National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who would soon go to work for CNN. -RCI

While Comey claims in his book, "A Higher Loyalty" that he didn't have "a counterintelligence case file open on [Trump]," former federal prosecutor and National Review columnist Andrew McCarthy notes that just because Trump's name wasn't on a formal file or surveillance warrant doesn't mean that he wasn't under investigation. 

"They were hoping to surveil him incidentally, and they were trying to make a case on him," said McCarthy. "The real reason Comey did not want to repeat publicly the assurances he made to Trump privately is that these assurances were misleading. The FBI strung Trump along, telling him he was not a suspect while structuring the investigation in accordance with the reality that Trump was the main subject."

What's more, the FBI couldn't treat Trump as a suspect - formally, as they didn't have the legal grounds to do so according to former FBI counterintelligence lawyer Mark Wauck. "They had no probable cause against Trump himself for ‘collusion’ or espionage," he said, adding "They were scrambling to come up with anything to hang a hat on, but had found nothing."

What remains unclear is why Comey would take such extraordinary steps against a sitting president. The Mueller report concluded there was no basis for the Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy theories. Comey himself was an early skeptic of the Steele dossier -- the opposition research memos paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign that were the road map of collusion theories – which he dismissed as “salacious and unverified.” -RCI

According to House Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), Comey and the rest of the FBI's top team (including Peter Strzok and Lisa Page) were attempting to "stop" Trump's presidency for political reasons. 

"You have the culmination of the ultimate spying, where you have the FBI director spying on the president, taking notes [and] illegally leaking those notes of classified information" to the MSM, said Nunes in a recent interview. 

Read the rest of Sperry's report here

Published:7/22/2019 9:43:07 AM
[Markets] The Missing Three-Letter Word In The Iran Crisis

Authored by Michael Klare via TomDispatch.com,

It’s always the oil. While President Donald Trump was hobnobbing with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G-20 summit in Japan, brushing off a recent UN report about the prince’s role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Asia and the Middle East, pleading with foreign leaders to support “Sentinel.” The aim of that administration plan: to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. Both Trump and Pompeo insisted that their efforts were driven by concern over Iranian misbehavior in the region and the need to ensure the safety of maritime commerce. Neither, however, mentioned one inconvenient three-letter word - O-I-L - that lay behind their Iranian maneuvering (as it has impelled every other American incursion in the Middle East since World War II).

Now, it’s true that the United States no longer relies on imported petroleum for a large share of its energy needs. Thanks to the fracking revolution, the country now gets the bulk of its oil — approximately 75 percent - from domestic sources. (In 2008, that share had been closer to 35 percent.)  Key allies in NATO and rivals like China, however, continue to depend on Middle Eastern oil for a significant proportion of their energy needs. As it happens, the world economy - of which the U.S. is the leading beneficiary (despite Trump’s self-destructive trade wars) - relies on an uninterrupted flow of oil from the Persian Gulf to keep energy prices low. By continuing to serve as the principal overseer of that flow, Washington enjoys striking geopolitical advantages that its foreign policy elites would no more abandon than they would their country’s nuclear supremacy.

Pompeo arriving in Abu Dhabi, June 24, 2019. (State Department/ Ron Przysucha)

This logic was spelled out clearly by President Barack Obama in a September 2013 address to the UN General Assembly in which he declared that “the United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests” in the Middle East. He then pointed out that, while the U.S. was steadily reducing its reliance on imported oil, “the world still depends on the region’s energy supply and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy.” Accordingly, he concluded, “We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world.”

To some Americans, that dictum — and its continued embrace by Trump and Pompeo — may seem anachronistic. True, Washington fought wars in the Middle East when the American economy was still deeply vulnerable to any disruption in the flow of imported oil. In 1990, this was the key reason President George H.W. Bush gave for his decision to evict Iraqi troops from Kuwait after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of that land. “Our country now imports nearly half the oil it consumes and could face a major threat to its economic independence,” he told a nationwide TV audience. But talk of oil soon disappeared from his comments about what became Washington’s first (but hardly last) Gulf War after his statement provoked widespread public outrage. (“No Blood for Oil” became a widely used protest sign then.) His son, the second President Bush, never even mentioned that three-letter word when announcing his 2003 invasion of Iraq. Yet, as Obama’s UN speech made clear, oil remained, and still remains, at the center of U.S. foreign policy. A quick review of global energy trends helps explain why this has continued to be so.

The World’s Undiminished Reliance on Petroleum

Despite all that’s been said about climate change and oil’s role in causing it — and about the enormous progress being made in bringing solar and wind power online — we remain trapped in a remarkably oil-dependent world. To grasp this reality, all you have to do is read the most recent edition of oil giant BP’s “Statistical Review of World Energy,” published this June. In 2018, according to that report, oil still accounted for by far the largest share of world energy consumption, as it has every year for decades. All told, 33.6 percent of world energy consumption last year was made up of oil, 27.2 percent of coal (itself a global disgrace), 23.9 percent of natural gas, 6.8 percent of hydro-electricity, 4.4 percent of nuclear power, and a mere 4 percent of renewables.

Most energy analysts believe that the global reliance on petroleum as a share of world energy use will decline in the coming decades, as more governments impose restrictions on carbon emissions and as consumers, especially in the developed world, switch from oil-powered to electric vehicles. But such declines are unlikely to prevail in every region of the globe and total oil consumption may not even decline. According to projections from the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its “New Policies Scenario” (which assumes significant but not drastic government efforts to curb carbon emissions globally), Asia, Africa, and the Middle East are likely to experience a substantially increased demand for petroleum in the years to come, which, grimly enough, means global oil consumption will continue to rise.

Concluding that the increased demand for oil in Asia, in particular, will outweigh reduced demand elsewhere, the IEA calculated in its 2017 “World Energy Outlook” that oil will remain the world’s dominant source of energy in 2040, accounting for an estimated 27.5 percent of total global energy consumption. That will indeed be a smaller share than in 2018, but because global energy consumption as a whole is expected to grow substantially during those decades, net oil production could still rise — from an estimated 100 million barrels a day in 2018 to about 105 million barrels in 2040.

Of course, no one, including the IEA’s experts, can be sure how future extreme manifestations of global warming like the severe heat waves recently tormenting Europe and South Asia could change such projections. It’s possible that growing public outrage could lead to far tougher restrictions on carbon emissions between now and 2040. Unexpected developments in the field of alternative energy production could also play a role in changing those projections. In other words, oil’s continuing dominance could still be curbed in ways that are now unpredictable.

In the meantime, from a geopolitical perspective, a profound shift is taking place in the worldwide demand for petroleum. In 2000, according to the IEA, older industrialized nations — most of them members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) — accounted for about two-thirds of global oil consumption; only about a third went to countries in the developing world. By 2040, the IEA’s experts believe that ratio will be reversed, with the OECD consuming about one-third of the world’s oil and non-OECD nations the rest. More dramatic yet is the growing centrality of the Asia-Pacific region to the global flow of petroleum. In 2000, that region accounted for only 28 — of world consumption; in 2040, its share is expected to stand at 44 —, thanks to the growth of China, India, and other Asian countries, whose newly affluent consumers are already buying cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other oil-powered products.

Where will Asia get its oil? Among energy experts, there is little doubt on this matter. Lacking significant reserves of their own, the major Asian consumers will turn to the one place with sufficient capacity to satisfy their rising needs: the Persian Gulf. According to BP, in 2018, Japan already obtained 87 percent of its oil imports from the Middle East, India 64 percent, and China 44 percent. Most analysts assume these percentages will only grow in the years to come, as production in other areas declines.

This will, in turn, lend even greater strategic importance to the Persian Gulf region, which now possesses more than 60 percent of the world’s untapped petroleum reserves, and to the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow passageway through which approximately one-third of the world’s seaborne oil passes daily. Bordered by Iran, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, the Strait is perhaps the most significant — and contested — geostrategic location on the planet today.

One of hundreds of Kuwaiti oil fires set by retreating Iraqi forces in 1991. (Jonas Jordan, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers via Wikimedia Commons)

Controlling the Spigot

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the same year that militant Shiite fundamentalists overthrew the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran, U.S. policymakers concluded that America’s access to Gulf oil supplies was at risk and a U.S. military presence was needed to guarantee such access. As President Jimmy Carter would say in his State of the Union Address on Jan. 23, 1980:

The region which is now threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan is of great strategic importance: It contains more than two thirds of the world’s exportable oil… The Soviet effort to dominate Afghanistan has brought Soviet military forces to within 300 miles of the Indian Ocean and close to the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway through which most of the world’s oil must flow… Let our position be absolutely clear: an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

To lend muscle to what would soon be dubbed the “Carter Doctrine,” the president created a new U.S. military organization, the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF), and obtained basing facilities for it in the Gulf region. Ronald Reagan, who succeeded Carter as president in 1981, made the RDJTF into a full-scale “geographic combatant command,” dubbed Central Command, or CENTCOM, which continues to be tasked with ensuring American access to the Gulf today (as well as overseeing the country’s never-ending wars in the Greater Middle East). Reagan was the first president to activate the Carter Doctrine in 1987 when he ordered Navy warships to escort Kuwaiti tankers, “reflagged” with the stars and stripes, as they traveled through the Strait of Hormuz. From time to time, such vessels had been coming under fire from Iranian gunboats, part of an ongoing “Tanker War,” itself part of the Iran-Iraq War of those years. The Iranian attacks on those tankers were meant to punish Sunni Arab countries for backing Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein in that conflict.  The American response, dubbed Operation Earnest Will, offered an early model of what Pompeo is seeking to establish today with his Sentinel program.

Operation Earnest Will was followed two years later by a massive implementation of the Carter Doctrine in Bush’s 1990 decision to push Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. Although he spoke of the need to protect U.S. access to Persian Gulf oil fields, it was evident that ensuring a safe flow of oil imports wasn’t the only motive for such military involvement. Equally important then (and far more so now): the geopolitical advantage controlling the world’s major oil spigot gave Washington.

When ordering U.S. forces into combat in the Gulf, American presidents have always insisted that they were acting in the interests of the entire West. In advocating for the “reflagging” mission of 1987, for instance, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger argued (as he would later recall in his memoir “Fighting for Peace”), “The main thing was for us to protect the right of innocent, nonbelligerent and extremely important commerce to move freely in international open waters — and, by our offering protection, to avoid conceding the mission to the Soviets.” Though rarely so openly acknowledged, the same principle has undergirded Washington’s strategy in the region ever since: the United States alone must be the ultimate guarantor of unimpeded oil commerce in the Persian Gulf.

Look closely and you can find this principle lurking in every fundamental statement of U.S. policy related to that region and among the Washington elite more generally. My own personal favorite, when it comes to pithiness, is a sentence in a report on the geopolitics of energy issued in 2000 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank well-populated with former government officials (several of whom contributed to the report): “As the world’s only superpower, [the United States] must accept its special responsibilities for preserving access to [the] worldwide energy supply.” You can’t get much more explicit than that.

Of course, along with this “special responsibility” comes a geopolitical advantage: by providing this service, the United States cements its status as the world’s sole superpower and places every other oil-importing nation — and the world at large — in a condition of dependence on its continued performance of this vital function.

Originally, the key dependents in this strategic equation were Europe and Japan, which, in return for assured access to Middle Eastern oil, were expected to subordinate themselves to Washington. Remember, for example, how they helped pay for Bush the elder’s Iraq War (dubbed Operation Desert Storm). Today, however, many of those countries, deeply concerned with the effects of climate change, are seeking to lessen oil’s role in their national fuel mixes. As a result, in 2019, the countries potentially most at the mercy of Washington when it comes to access to Gulf oil are economically fast-expanding China and India, whose oil needs are only likely to grow. That, in turn, will further enhance the geopolitical advantage Washington enjoyed as long as it remains the principal guardian of the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. How it may seek to exploit this advantage remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that all parties involved, including the Chinese, are well aware of this asymmetric equation, which could give the phrase “trade war” a far deeper and more ominous meaning.

The Iranian Challenge and the Specter of War

From Washington’s perspective, the principal challenger to America’s privileged status in the Gulf is Iran. By reason of geography, that country possesses a potentially commanding position along the northern Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, as the Reagan administration learned in 1987-1988 when it threatened American oil dominance there. About this reality President Reagan couldn’t have been clearer. “Mark this point well: the use of the sea lanes of the Persian Gulf will not be dictated by the Iranians,” he declared in 1987 — and Washington’s approach to the situation has never changed.

Guided-missile destroyer USS Porter transits Strait of Hormuz, May 2012. (U.S. Navy/Alex R. Forster)

In more recent times, in response to U.S. and Israeli threats to bomb their nuclear facilities or, as the Trump administration has done, impose economic sanctions on their country, the Iranians have threatened on numerous occasions to block the Strait of Hormuz to oil traffic, squeeze global energy supplies, and precipitate an international crisis. In 2011, for example, Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi warned that, should the West impose sanctions on Iranian oil, “not even one drop of oil can flow through the Strait of Hormuz.” In response, U.S. officials have vowed ever since to let no such thing happen, just as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta did in response to Rahimi at that time. “We have made very clear,” he said, “that the United States will not tolerate blocking of the Strait of Hormuz.” That, he added, was a “red line for us.”

It remains so today. Hence, the present ongoing crisis in the Gulf, with fierce U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil sales and threatening Iranian gestures toward the regional oil flow in response. “We will make the enemy understand that either everyone can use the Strait of Hormuz or no one,” said Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, in July 2018. And attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz on June 13th could conceivably have been an expression of just that policy, if —as claimed by the U.S. — they were indeed carried out by members of the Revolutionary Guards. Any future attacks are only likely to spur U.S. military action against Iran in accordance with the Carter Doctrine. As Pentagon spokesperson Bill Urban put it in response to Jafari’s statement, “We stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows.”

As things stand today, any Iranian move in the Strait of Hormuz that can be portrayed as a threat to the “free flow of commerce” (that is, the oil trade) represents the most likely trigger for direct U.S. military action. Yes, Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and its support for radical Shiite movements throughout the Middle East will be cited as evidence of its leadership’s malevolence, but its true threat will be to American dominance of the oil lanes, a danger Washington will treat as the offense of all offenses to be overcome at any cost.

If the United States goes to war with Iran, you are unlikely to hear the word “oil” uttered by top Trump administration officials, but make no mistake: that three-letter word lies at the root of the present crisis, not to speak of the world’s long-term fate.

Published:7/21/2019 10:41:41 PM
[Markets] Putin Comes Clean On 2016 'Meddling': "Perfectly Clear Ukrainian Oligarchs Gave Money To Trump's Opponents"

Authored by Robert Wenzel via TargetLiberty.com,

Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down on June 19, 2019, in the Kremlin, for an on the record interview with Oliver Stone. The Russian government has released a transcript of the interview.

Below is Putin's discussion with Stone about the 2016 presidential election.

Oliver Stone: Yes. So recently, you know Russia has been obviously accused and accused over and over again of interference in the 2016 election. As far as I know there is no proof, it has not turned up. But now in the US there has been an investigation going on about Ukraine’s interference in the election. It seems that it was a very confusing situation, and Poroshenko seems to have been very strongly pro-Clinton, anti-Trump.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, this is no secret.

Oliver Stone: Do you think there was interference?

Vladimir Putin: I do not think that this could be interpreted as interference by Ukraine. But it is perfectly obvious that Ukrainian oligarchs gave money to Trump’s opponents. I do not know whether they did this by themselves or with the knowledge of the authorities.

Oliver Stone: Where they giving information to the Clinton campaign?

Vladimir Putin: I do not know. I am being honest. I will not speak about what I do not know. I have enough problems of my own. They assumed Mrs Clinton would win and did everything to show loyalty to the future US administration. That is nothing special. They wanted the future President to have a good opinion of them. This is why they allowed themselves to make unflattering statements about Trump and supported the Democrats in every possible way. This is no secret at all. They acted almost in public.

Oliver Stone: You do not want to go any further on that because you do not have any information?

Vladimir Putin: You know, this would be inappropriate on my part. If I said something more specific, I would have to put some documents, some papers on the table.

Oliver Stone: You understand that it has huge implications because Mr Trump would be very grateful?

Vladimir Putin: I did not interfere then, I do not want to interfere now, and I am not going to interfere in the future.

Oliver Stone: But that is a noble motive. Unfortunately, the world has degenerated in these two years, with all this backbiting and accusations, dirty fighting. Anyway…

Vladimir Putin: There are no rules at all. It is no holds barred.

Oliver Stone: Well, you have rules. You say no interference.

Vladimir Putin: I have principles.

Oliver Stone: Ok. But you seem to have rules based on those principles.

Vladimir Putin: Well, yes.

Oliver Stone: Ok. Well, you are fighting with one hand tied behind your back.

Vladimir Putin: Why? You mean, because of these principles?

Oliver Stone: Yes. If you knew something about the election, it would tilt the balance in a very weird way.

Vladimir Putin: I think this is simply unrealistic. I have said so many times.

Oliver Stone: What is unrealistic?

Vladimir Putin: To change anything. If you want to return to US elections again – look, it is a huge country, a huge nation with its own problems, with its own views on what is good and what is bad, and with an understanding that in the past few years, say ten years, nothing has changed for the better for the middle class despite the enormous growth of prosperity for the ruling class and the wealthy. This is a fact that Trump’s election team understood. He understood this himself and made the most of it.

No matter what our bloggers – or whoever’s job it is to comment on the internet – might say about the situation in the US, this could not have played a decisive role. It is sheer nonsense. But our sympathies were with him because he said he wanted to restore normal relations with Russia. What is bad about that? Of course, we can only welcome this position.

Oliver Stone: Apparently, it excited the Clinton people a lot. The Clinton campaign accumulated the “Steele dossier.” They paid for it. It came from strange sources, the whole “Steele dossier” issue. Some of it comes from Ukraine. They also went out of their way, it seems to me, with the CIA, with Mr Brennan, John Brennan, and with Clapper, James Clapper, and Comey of the FBI. They all seem to have gotten involved, all intelligence agencies, in an anti-Trump way.

Vladimir Putin: They had levers inside the government, but there is nothing like that here. They applied administrative pressure. It always gives an advantage in countries such as the USA, some countries of Western Europe, about 2 percent on average, at a minimum.

Oliver Stone: Two percent? What are you talking about?

Vladimir Putin: Yes. According to experts, those with administrative pressure they can apply always have a 2 percent edge. You can look at it differently. Some experts believe that in different countries, it can vary, but in countries such as the United States, some European countries, the advantage is 2 percent. This is what experts say, they can be wrong.

Oliver Stone: I do not know. I heard of the one percent, but it seems to get more like 12 percent.

Vladimir Putin: That is possible, depending on how it is used.

Oliver Stone: Well, you are not disagreeing. You are saying that it was quite possible that there was an attempt to prevent Donald Trump from coming into office with a soft, I will call it a soft coup d’état?

Vladimir Putin: In the USA?

Oliver Stone: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: It is still going on.

Oliver Stone: A coup d’état is planned by people who have power inside.

Vladimir Putin: No, I do not mean that. I mean lack of respect for the will of the voters. I think it was unprecedented in the history of the United States.

Oliver Stone: What was unprecedented?

Vladimir Putin: It was the first time the losing side does not want to admit defeat and does not respect the will of the voters.

*  *  *

[RW  note: Putin is the most level headed guy around. Here he is on the inconsistent moves of Trump]:

Oliver Stone: Ok, but beyond Poroshenko, the United States has a shadow here. The United States knows what he is doing, and supported it.

Vladimir Putin: Absolutely.

Oliver Stone: It is the creation of a strategy of tension that worries me enormously. I have seen this happen in so many places now. I think I read on Monday, the Russian bombers, the Russian SU-57 escorted, what was it, the B-52 bomber, a nuclear bomber, US bomber, close to the Russian borders.

Vladimir Putin: The Su-57 aircraft are just entering service. This is a fifth-generation jet fighter. It was the Su-27 that was mentioned.

Oliver Stone: Do you think that is normal?

Vladimir Putin: Actually, it is sad, probably, but this is common practice. US aircraft did not enter our airspace, and our aircraft did not conduct any high-risk maneuvers. But generally speaking, this is not great. Just look where the Baltic or Black seas are located, and where the USA is. It was not us who approached US borders, but US aircraft that approached ours. Such practices had better stop.

Oliver Stone: In this continuing strategy of tension, there was a report in The New York Times last week that the Obama Administration, before they left office, put in what they call a cyber warfare device. It was inserted in Russian infrastructure in January 2017.

Vladimir Putin: This is being discussed almost openly. It was said Russia would be punished for interfering in the election campaign. We do not see anything extraordinary or unexpected here. This should be followed closely. That is the first thing. The second is I believe that we only need to negotiate how we are to live in this high-tech world and develop uniform rules and means of monitoring each other’s actions. We have repeatedly proposed holding talks on this subject to come to some binding agreement.

Oliver Stone: Continuing that theme of strategy of tension, how is Russia affected by the US-Iranian confrontation?

Vladimir Putin: This worries us because this is happening near our borders. This may destabilize the situation around Iran, affect some countries with which we have very close relations, causing additional refugee flows on a large scale plus substantially damage the world economy as well as the global energy sector. All this is extremely disturbing. Therefore we would welcome any improvement when it comes to relations between the US and Iran. A simple escalation of tension will not be advantageous for anyone. It seems to me that this is also the case with the US. One might think that there are only benefits here, but there will be setbacks as well. The positive and negative factors have to be calculated.

Oliver Stone: Yeah. Scary.

Vladimir Putin: No, this is not scary.

Oliver Stone: You sound very depressed, much more depressed than last time.

Vladimir Putin: Last time the situation concerning Iran was not like this. Last time nobody said anything about getting into our energy and other networks. Last time the developments were more positive.

Oliver Stone: The situation is worse now?

Vladimir Putin: Take North Korea, they have also rolled back a bit. Trade wars are unfolding. 

Oliver Stone: Venezuela.

Vladimir Putin: Venezuela as well. In other words, regrettably, the situation has not improved, so there is nothing special to be happy about. On the other hand, we feel confident. We have no problems.

Oliver Stone: Well, you are an optimist, and always have been?

Vladimir Putin: Exactly.

Oliver Stone: You are a peacemaker.

Vladimir Putin: Absolutely spot on.

Oliver Stone: So obviously, you have to get together with the Americans, and the Chinese, and the Iranians. I know.

Vladimir Putin: Just do not put the blame on us. Lately no matter what is happening, we always get the blame.

Oliver Stone: Well, the irony is that Mr Trump came to office promising that he was not going to interfere in other countries. He made this overall strategy, he was against the wars that we have started, and ever since he has been in office, it has got worse. Why, one wonders? Is he in charge, or are other people pushing these agendas?

Vladimir Putin: I think he is against this now, too. But life is complicated and diverse. To make the right decision it is necessary to fight for what you believe in.

Published:7/21/2019 8:10:50 PM
[Markets] Trump's Next Trade War Target: Vietnam

Authored by David Hutt via The Asia Times,

Southeast Asian nation has dramatically whipsawed between US-China trade war winner to potential next big tariffed loser

The popular consensus is that Vietnam has been one of the world’s biggest US-China trade war winners, as global supply chains shift production away from tariff-hit China and towards the low-cost Southeast Asian nation.

That upshot, one that may have added as much as 8% to Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP) according to one bank’s research, has apparently already run its full course as US President Donald Trump slaps new punitive tariffs on Hanoi’s exports.

In May, Vietnam was added to the US Treasury Department’s list of possible currency manipulators, a designation that could result in punitive measures if proved. That threat presaged this month’s imposition of a whopping new 400% US duty on Vietnamese steel imports that originate from South Korea and Taiwan.

The US could next slap punitive tariffs on certain Vietnamese imports based on allegations Hanoi is allowing Chinese-made products to be rebranded as Vietnamese goods before export to the US to circumvent tariffs on China, a process officials refer to as “transshipment.”

Some economists predict that, for instance, if the US moves to impose a 25% tariff on Vietnam’s exports, as it has done with China for reasons of national security, the move would cause Hanoi’s exports to fall by a quarter and shave off more than 1% from GDP.

That could be in the offing, analysts reckon, in light of Trump’s scathing comment last month that Hanoi was “almost the single worst abuser of everybody” in regard to trade and that “Vietnam takes advantage of us even worse than China.”

That critique was aimed at Vietnam’s high and rising trade surplus with the US, which hit a record US$40 billion last year, up slightly from 2017 and in spite of a concerted Vietnamese effort to buy more from the US.

In the first five months of this year, Vietnam’s trade surplus with the US hit $21.6 billion, double the amount compared with the same period in 2018.

Beyond the rhetoric, America’s new tariffs on Vietnam represent a drastic course shift, one that has caught Vietnamese officials off guard amid what was a strong bilateral warming trend under the Trump administration.

In February, when Hanoi staged a second historic round of US-North Korea peace talks, Trump lavished praise on his Vietnamese hosts.

“You’ve made tremendous progress and it’s a great thing for the world to see,” he told Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc while referring to the one-time battlefield adversaries as “friends.”

Soon after Trump took office in January 2016, Vietnam was one of the first targets of his complaints that certain nations maintained big, unequal trade surpluses with the US.

Those complaints were mollified somewhat after Phuc visited Trump at the White House later that year with a multi-billion dollar purchase order for several Boeing-made commercial aircraft.

Communist Party sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, say they are perplexed by Trump’s volte face. For the last two years, Trump has acted as though Vietnam and the US were “best friends”, one Vietnamese official told Asia Times.

The officials say it is unclear whether the Trump administration is genuine about its threat of possible future sanctions on Vietnamese imports, or whether it is a dramatic negotiating tactic to extract more concessions.

Sources say that Vietnam has made the kind of trade-related commitments that they think Washington supports, and that Trump’s latest comments could merely aim to accelerate their implementation.

For instance, a planned law to create three new special economic zones, which sparked rare nationwide protests last year as many thought they would allow Chinese firms to purchase large swathes of Vietnamese land, has now been indefinitely postponed.

Meanwhile, National Assembly delegates recently called on Communist Party functionaries to curb Chinese investment in Vietnam, with lawmakers arguing that Hanoi should be more particular about which foreign-invested projects it accepts.

Vietnamese authorities have also stiffened a crackdown on Chinese products being re-routed through Vietnam on their way to the US, a circumvention of tariffs that has greatly peeved the Trump administration.

To some extent, Vietnam has mitigated the costs of possible US sanctions by signing trade deals with other partners. Earlier this year, it formally became part of the reformed Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multilateral trade pact which Trump took the US out of in one of his first acts as president.

Moreover, on June 30, Vietnam finally signed a free-trade agreement with the European Union after several years of protracted negotiations.

The deal, which will remove import duties from 99% of Vietnam’s exports within seven years, up from 71% when the deal was signed, could boost Vietnam’s exports to the EU by 20% in 2020, according to official estimates.

Last year, the EU purchased $42.5 billion worth of Vietnam’s exports.

Still, the US is Vietnam’s most important trading partner, a fact that is not likely to change any time soon. Last year, the US imported $49 billion worth of Vietnamese goods, while exporting just $9.6 billion to Vietnam.

In the first five months of this year, US imports of Vietnamese goods have jumped to $25.8 billion, compared to $18.9 billion over the same period last year, evidence that Vietnam is benefitting immensely from the trade war.

In June, Japanese investment bank Nomura estimated that Vietnam had gained the equivalent of 7.9% of its GDP from trade diversion and supply chain shifts caused by the US-China spat. (The second largest beneficiary was Taiwan, which has gained about 2.1% of its GDP, the research shows.)

Some analysts believe Washington’s reaction to Vietnam’s trade practices is perfectly normal, particularly in light of allowing Chinese companies to use it as a base to disguise their exports to the US.

Vietnam, now one of the world’s 50 largest economies, is simply being asked to abide by the same rules the US expects from other trading partners – the same rationale that led to the US-China trade spat.

“Every fast-industrializing Asian nation has been at first indulged by the US and other major Western trading partners and then, as its market power became formidable, pressed to play by the rules of international trade,” wrote David Brown, an expert on Vietnam, in World Politics Review this month.

“Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan all cleared that hurdle years ago, none without considerable turmoil. Vietnam is still on probation, and must find the self-discipline to prioritize its larger interests,” the ex-US diplomat added.

Geopolitics, however, are confusing matters. Hanoi has enjoyed US preferential treatment for years because of its strategic importance to American interests, including vis-à-vis China in the South China Sea.

When former US president Barack Obama launched his “pivot to Asia” policy earlier this decade, Vietnam was considered an important new ally because it was one of the few claimants that strongly opposed Chinese expansionism in the maritime area.

Overlooking Vietnam’s many faults – namely it’s abysmal human rights record – has been the price Western nations paid to secure cordial relations with a government that agrees on the need to contain China’s regional rise.

Vietnam has willingly flaunted this position to extract concessions from the West while often playing the US and China off one another to maximize diplomatic benefits from both.

Trump’s recent moves have certainly and unexpectedly put Hanoi on the back foot. Sources say its bureaucracy is working overtime to reform its system on export permits, while also mulling new ways of to reduce its trade surplus.

It is no secret that the US wants Vietnam to purchase more American-made military equipment, and move away from its traditional arms supplier, Russia.

Buying a big-ticket cache of new US military hardware would certainly be looked upon kindly in Washington, a move that would help to narrow Hanoi’s trade surplus while further cementing US-Vietnam defense ties.

Published:7/21/2019 7:09:13 PM
[Markets] The 2nd Cyprus Partition: American Promises vs Turkish Arms vs Russian Money & Missiles

Authored by John Helmer via JohnHelmer.net,

This week a group of US senators has proposed to leave Turkey in control of the northern part of Cyprus, and force the Greek Cypriots to choose between the US and Russia for the economic and political future of the south of the island.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee agreed by a large bipartisan majority on June 25 to put into law a new Eastern Mediterranean strategy. If the bill is enacted, Cyprus will be required to decide that in exchange for American protection from Turkish military threats, including Russian-made S-400 missiles to be based in southwestern Turkey,  the Cyprus  Government must not allow Russian naval vessels to dock at Cypriot ports,  and should block all Russian money and investments on the island.  At the same time, Greece has been told the US military intends to expand its occupation of Crete around the Souda Bay base; at Larissa Air Force Base, midway between Athens and Thessaloniki; and at other Greek locations.

The proposed new law is the most comprehensive plan for American military occupation of Cyprus and Greece since the Greek civil war of the 1950s.  The US plan also establishes State Department censorship of the Greek-language media in Cyprus and Greece, and threatens US sanctions against the Orthodox Church bishops of the two countries.

Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, initiated the new policy as an amendment to Senate Bill No. 1102, “to promote security and energy partnerships in the Eastern Mediterranean, and for other purposes.” Menendez chaired the Foreign Relations Committee until the Republicans won control of the Senate last November. He has made a long record of legislating sanctions against Russia, while he himself has been under FBI investigation for corruption.    Read the Menendez indictment here and the dismissal of the case a year ago,  after a federal court jury could not agree on a verdict. 

The text of S-1102, which now goes to the full Senate for a vote, can be read here.  The new policy, as Menendez has agreed with the Republican majority of the Committee, can be read in full here

In the preamble, Russia is identified as a “malign influence” in the Mediterranean:


Source: https://www.foreign.senate.gov/

US policy in the region should be aimed, the Bill declares, at backing the development of the Cyprus offshore gas deposits, as well as future regional pipelines and liquefaction plants, in order to compete against Russian gas supplies to southern Europe:


Source: https://www.foreign.senate.gov/

Without naming Turkey, which is currently threatening Cypriot gas exploration at sea with drilling vessels of its own,   the Bill claims that  Cypriot seabed exploration “must be safeguarded against threats posed by terrorist and extremist groups, including Hezbollah and any other actor in the region.”

The Bill promises to supply US weapons to Cyprus, ending the arms embargo introduced by Henry Kissinger after he backed the Turkish invasion of the island in mid-1974.    But there is no parallel US promise in the Menendez bill to halt US arms from being deployed by the Turkish military command in northern Cyprus. Nor does the new US policy alter US acceptance of Turkey’s occupation of  northern Cyprus.   

There are two explicit pre-conditions for the supply of US arms to Cyprus; one is aimed at Russian investment in Cyprus – referred to in S-1102 as money-laundering — and the other at Russian Navy port calls in Cyprus.


Source: https://www.foreign.senate.gov/

The Senate is also promising US scholarships to “future leaders” of Cyprus,  plus $1.5 million in US training for Cypriot military officers over the next three years.

With a requirement for a report by the State Department on “Russian Federation malign influence in the  Republic of Cyprus, Greece, and Israel”, the Senate bill launches an attack on the Cypriot and Greek media and the Orthodox Church in both countries. The Greek-language media are to be targeted if the   State Department report judges them to “promote pro-Kremlin views”.


Source: https://www.foreign.senate.gov/

Ranking churchmen in Cyprus and Greece are threatened with investigation and sanctions to deter them from siding with the Russian Orthodox Church against the breakaway Ukrainian church in the autocephaly controversy; for details of that, click to read.

During the Obama Administration, the US strategy for combating Russia’s relationships with Cyprus was to create a NATO base in the occupied Turkish zone, and to pressure the Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiades into accepting the Turkish partition as a NATO protectorate of the island. This was the plan of then Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland (right); for that plan and its outcome,  read the archive.  

Nuland’s ambassador to the Ukraine at the time, Geoffrey Pyatt,  is now US Ambassador to Greece. “Pyatt’s scheming in Athens,” comments a veteran Greek political observer, “may turn out to be longer lasting than his scheming in Kiev.  Whether his new success will be as destructive as the old one remains to be seen.” 

GREEK AND CYPRIOT BRANCH OF THE ANTI-RUSSIA LOBBY IN WASHINGTON


Left: Endy Zemenides, Executive Director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC). Right: Tasos Zambas, Chairman of the Justice for Cyprus Committee for the Federation of Cypriot-American Associations.  

The new Senate plan is to isolate Russia and Turkey simultaneously, pushing them closer together and pressuring the Cypriots and Greeks to position themselves against both.

The Greek-American lobby in Washington has declared its support for the Menendez bill to make “the region more stable and prosperous and… advance both American interests and values.”    The Federation of Cyprus-American Associations has added:

“the East Med Act is a huge leap forward in U.S. relations with both Greece and Cyprus.  It places Greece in the centre of a new American strategy for the Eastern Mediterranean, and it stops the treatment of Cyprus as merely a problem but positions it as a solution.  The Greek-American community thanks Senator Menendez for his decades of unparalleled leadership on these issues and to Senator Rubio for championing this new Eastern Mediterranean strategy.” 

Published:7/21/2019 8:36:58 AM
[Immigration] Who’s the Racist? (John Hinderaker) Campus Reform made this video, in which an interviewer reads a quote about deporting illegal immigrants to college students and asks what they think about it. You can imagine. It turns out, though, that the quote is from President Obama in 2014. The students aren’t as embarrassed as they should be: Among other things, the video is a sad reminder of how uninformed most young people are these days. Published:7/20/2019 6:34:54 PM
[The Blog] Michelle Obama, Hillary slam Trump on “send her back” comment

"It's our America."

The post Michelle Obama, Hillary slam Trump on “send her back” comment appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:7/20/2019 5:02:16 PM
[Markets] It's Un-American To Be Anti-Free Speech: Protect The Right To Criticize The Government

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

"Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverence to those who represent us? The constitutional theory is that we the people are the sovereigns, the state and federal officials only our agents. We who have the final word can speak softly or angrily. We can seek to challenge and annoy, as we need not stay docile and quiet.” - Justice William O. Douglas

Unjust. Brutal. Criminal. Corrupt. Inept. Greedy. Power-hungry. Racist. Immoral. Murderous. Evil. Dishonest. Crooked. Excessive. Deceitful. Untrustworthy. Unreliable. Tyrannical.

These are all words that have at some time or other been used to describe the U.S. government.

These are all words that I have used at some time or other to describe the U.S. government. That I may feel morally compelled to call out the government for its wrongdoing does not make me any less of an American.

If I didn’t love this country, it would be easy to remain silent. However, it is because I love my country, because I believe fervently that if we lose freedom here, there will be no place to escape to, I will not remain silent.

Nor should you.

Nor should any other man, woman or child—no matter who they are, where they come from, what they look like, or what they believe.

This is the beauty of the dream-made-reality that is America. As Chelsea Manning recognized,We’re citizens, not subjects. We have the right to criticize government without fear.

Indeed, the First Amendment does more than give us a right to criticize our country: it makes it a civic duty. Certainly, if there is one freedom among the many spelled out in the Bill of Rights that is especially patriotic, it is the right to criticize the government.

The right to speak out against government wrongdoing is the quintessential freedom.

Unfortunately, those who run the government don’t take kindly to individuals who speak truth to power. In fact, the government has become increasingly intolerant of speech that challenges its power, reveals its corruption, exposes its lies, and encourages the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices.

This is nothing new, nor is it unique to any particular presidential administration.

President Trump, who delights in exercising his right to speak (and tweet) freely about anything and everything that raises his ire, has shown himself to be far less tolerant of those with whom he disagrees, especially when they exercise their right to criticize the government.

In his first few years in office, Trump has declared the media to be “the enemy of the people,” suggested that protesting should be illegal, and that NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem "shouldn’t be in the country." More recently, Trump lashed out at four Democratic members of Congress—all women of color— who have been particularly critical of his policies, suggesting that they “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Fanning the flames of controversy, White House advisor Kellyanne Conway suggested that anyone who criticizes the country, disrespects the flag, and doesn’t support the Trump Administration’s policies should also leave the country.

The uproar over Trump’s “America—love it or leave it” remarks have largely focused on its racist overtones, but that misses the point: it’s un-American to be anti-free speech.

It’s unfortunate that Trump and his minions are so clueless about the Constitution. Then again, Trump is not alone in his presidential disregard for the rights of the citizenry, especially as it pertains to the right of the people to criticize those in power.

President Obama signed into law anti-protest legislation that makes it easier for the government to criminalize protest activities (10 years in prison for protesting anywhere in the vicinity of a Secret Service agent). The Obama Administration also waged a war on whistleblowers, which The Washington Postdescribed as “the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration,” and “spied on reporters by monitoring their phone records.”

Part of the Patriot Act signed into law by President George W. Bush made it a crime for an American citizen to engage in peaceful, lawful activity on behalf of any group designated by the government as a terrorist organization. Under this provision, even filing an amicus brief on behalf of an organization the government has labeled as terrorist would constitute breaking the law.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the FBI to censor all news and control communications in and out of the country in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt also signed into law the Smith Act, which made it a crime to advocate by way of speech for the overthrow of the U.S. government by force or violence.

President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Espionage and Sedition Acts, which made it illegal to criticize the government’s war efforts.

President Abraham Lincoln seized telegraph lines, censored mail and newspaper dispatches, and shut down members of the press who criticized his administration.

In 1798, during the presidency of John Adams, Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which made it a crime to “write, print, utter or publish … any false, scandalous, and malicious” statements against the government, Congress or president of the United States.

Clearly, the government has been undermining our free speech rights for quite a while now, but Trump’s antagonism towards free speech is much more overt.

For example, at a recent White House Social Media Summit, Trump defined free speech as follows: “To me free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad. To me that’s very dangerous speech, and you become angry at it. But that’s not free speech.”

Except Trump is about as wrong as one can be on this issue.

Good, bad or ugly, it’s all free speech unless as defined by the government it falls into one of the following categories: obscenity, fighting words, defamation (including libel and slander), child pornography, perjury, blackmail, incitement to imminent lawless action, true threats, and solicitations to commit crimes.

This idea of “dangerous” speech, on the other hand, is peculiarly authoritarian in nature. What it amounts to is speech that the government fears could challenge its chokehold on power.

The kinds of speech the government considers dangerous enough to red flag and subject to censorship, surveillance, investigation, prosecution and outright elimination include: hate speech, bullying speech, intolerant speech, conspiratorial speech, treasonous speech, threatening speech, incendiary speech, inflammatory speech, radical speech, anti-government speech, right-wing speech, left-wing speech, extremist speech, politically incorrect speech, etc.

Conduct your own experiment into the government’s tolerance of speech that challenges its authority, and see for yourself.

Stand on a street corner—or in a courtroom, at a city council meeting or on a university campus—and recite some of the rhetoric used by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, John Adams and Thomas Paine without referencing them as the authors.

For that matter, just try reciting the Declaration of Independence, which rejects tyranny, establishes Americans as sovereign beings, recognizes God (not the government) as the Supreme power, portrays the government as evil, and provides a detailed laundry list of abuses that are as relevant today as they were 240-plus years ago.

My guess is that you won’t last long before you get thrown out, shut up, threatened with arrest or at the very least accused of being a radical, a troublemaker, a sovereign citizen, a conspiratorialist or an extremist.

Try suggesting, as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin did, that Americans should not only take up arms but be prepared to shed blood in order to protect their liberties, and you might find yourself placed on a terrorist watch list and vulnerable to being rounded up by government agents.

“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms,” declared Jefferson. He also concluded that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Observed Franklin: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!”

Better yet, try suggesting as Thomas Paine, Marquis De Lafayette, John Adams and Patrick Henry did that Americans should, if necessary, defend themselves against the government if it violates their rights, and you will be labeled a domestic extremist.

“It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government,” insisted Paine. “When the government violates the people’s rights,” Lafayette warned, “insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensable of duties.” Adams cautioned, “A settled plan to deprive the people of all the benefits, blessings and ends of the contract, to subvert the fundamentals of the constitution, to deprive them of all share in making and executing laws, will justify a revolution.” And who could forget Patrick Henry with his ultimatum: “Give me liberty or give me death!”

Then again, perhaps you don’t need to test the limits of free speech for yourself.

One such test is playing out before our very eyes on the national stage led by none other than the American Police State’s self-appointed Censor-in-Chief, who seems to believe that only individuals who agree with the government are entitled to the protections of the First Amendment.

To the contrary, James Madison, the father of the Constitution, was very clear about the fact that the First Amendment was established to protect the minority against the majority.

I’ll take that one step further: the First Amendment was intended to protect the citizenry from the government’s tendency to censor, silence and control what people say and think.

Having lost our tolerance for free speech in its most provocative, irritating and offensive forms, the American people have become easy prey for a police state where only government speech is allowed. You see, the powers-that-be understand that if the government can control speech, it controls thought and, in turn, it can control the minds of the citizenry.

This is how freedom rises or falls.

As Hermann Goering, one of Hitler’s top military leaders, remarked during the Nuremberg trials:

It is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

It is working the same in this country, as well.

Americans of all stripes would do well to remember that those who question the motives of government provide a necessary counterpoint to those who would blindly follow where politicians choose to lead.

We don’t have to agree with every criticism of the government, but we must defend the rights of allindividuals to speak freely without fear of punishment or threat of banishment.

Never forget: what the architects of the police state want are submissive, compliant, cooperative, obedient, meek citizens who don’t talk back, don’t challenge government authority, don’t speak out against government misconduct, and don’t step out of line.

What the First Amendment protects—and a healthy constitutional republic requires—are citizens who routinely exercise their right to speak truth to power.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, tolerance for dissent is vital if we are to survive as a free nation.

While there are all kinds of labels being put on so-called “unacceptable” speech today, the real message being conveyed by those in power is that Americans don’t have a right to express themselves if what they are saying is unpopular, controversial or at odds with what the government determines to be acceptable.

By suppressing free speech, the government is contributing to a growing underclass of Americans who are being told that they can’t take part in American public life unless they “fit in.”

Mind you, it won’t be long before anyone who believes in holding the government accountable to respecting our rights and abiding by the rule of law is labeled an “extremist,” is relegated to an underclass that doesn’t fit in, must be watched all the time, and is rounded up when the government deems it necessary.

It doesn’t matter how much money you make, what politics you subscribe to, or what God you worship: we are all potential suspects, terrorists and lawbreakers in the eyes of the government.

In other words, if and when this nation falls to tyranny, we will all suffer the same fate: we will fall together.

The stamping boot of tyranny is but one crashing foot away.

Published:7/19/2019 11:37:35 PM
[Markets] Escobar: Western Intellectuals Freak Over "Frankenstein" China

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

China seen as a rich Communist monster buying support from poor and corrupt states worldwide...

Western economists and intellectuals obsessed with demonization of China are never shy of shortcuts glaringly exposing their ignorance.

The latest outburst posits that “we” – as in Western intellectuals – “are the modern version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” who electro-shocked a dead body (China) into a resurrected “murderous monster.”

So, welcome to the Sino-Frankenstein school of international relations. What next? A black and white remake with Xi Jinping playing the monster? Anyway, “we” – as in mankind’s best hope – should “avoid carrying on in the role of Frankenstein.”

The author is an economics professor emeritus at Harvard. He cannot even identify who’s to blame for Frankenstein – the West or the Chinese. That says much about Harvard’s academic standards.

Now, compare this with what was being discussed at a trade war symposium at Renmin University in Beijing this past Saturday.

Chinese intellectuals were trying to frame the current geopolitical dislocation provoked by the Trump administration’s trade war – without naming it for what it is: a Frankenstein gambit.

Li Xiangyang, director of the National Institute of International Strategy, a think tank linked to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, stressed that an “economic decoupling” of the US from China is “completely possible,” considering that “the ultimate [US] target is to contain China’s rise... This is a life-or-death game” for the United States.

Decoupling

Assuming the decoupling would take place, that could be easily perceived as “strategic blackmail” imposed by the Trump administration. Yet what the Trump administration wants is not exactly what the US establishment wants – as shown by an open letter to Trump signed by scores of academics, foreign policy experts and business leaders who are worried that “decoupling” China from the global economy – as if Washington could actually pull off such an impossibility – would generate massive blowback.

What may actually happen in terms of a US-China “decoupling” is what Beijing is already, actively working on: extending trade partnerships with the EU and across the Global South.

And that will lead, according to Li, to the Chinese leadership offering deeper and wider market access to its partners. This will soon be the case with the EU, as discussed in Brussels in the spring.

Sun Jie, a researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that deepening partnerships with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will be essential in case a decoupling is in the cards.

For his part Liu Qing, an economics professor at Renmin University, stressed the need for top international relations management, dealing with everyone from Europe to the Global South, to prevent their companies from replacing Chinese companies in selected global supply chains.

And Wang Xiaosong, an economics professor at Renmin University, emphasized that a concerted Chinese strategic approach in dealing with Washington is absolutely paramount.

All about Belt and Road

A few optimists among Western intellectuals would rather characterize what is going on as a vibrant debate between proponents of “restraint” and “offshore balancing” and proponents of “liberal hegemony”. In fact, it’s actually a firefight.

Among the Western intellectuals singled out by the puzzled Frankenstein guy, it is virtually impossible to find another voice of reason to match Martin Jacques, now a senior fellow at Cambridge University. When China Rules the World, his hefty tome published 10 years ago, still leaps out of an editorial wasteland of almost uniformly dull publications by so-called Western “experts” on China.

Jacques has understood that now it’s all about the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative:

“BRI has the potential to offer another kind of world, another set of values, another set of imperatives, another way of organizing, another set of institutions, another set of relationships.”

Belt and Road, adds Jacques, “offers an alternative to the existing international order. The present international order was designed by and still essentially privileges the rich world, which represents only 15% of the world’s population. BRI, on the other hand, is addressing at least two-thirds of the world’s population. This is extraordinarily important for this moment in history.”

In fact, we are already entering a Belt and Road 2.0 scenario – defined by Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi as a “high-quality” shift from “big freehand” to “fine brushwork.”

At the Belt and Road Forum this past spring in Beijing, 131 nations were represented, engaged in linked projects. Belt and Road is partnering with 29 international organizations from the World Bank to APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Apart from the fact that Belt and Road is now configured as a vast, unique, Eurasia-wide infrastructure and trade development project extending all the way to Africa and Latin America, Beijing is now emphasizing that it’s also a portmanteau brand encompassing bilateral trade relations, South-South cooperation and UN-endorsed sustainable development goals.

China’s trade with Belt and Road-linked nations reached $617.5 billion in the first half of 2019 – up 9.7% year-on-year and outpacing the growth rate of China’s total trade.

Chinese scholar Wang Jisi was right from the start when he singled out Belt and Road as a “strategic necessity” to counter Barack Obama’s now-defunct “pivot to Asia”.

So now it’s time for Western intellectuals to engage in a freak-out: as it stands, Belt and Road is the new Frankenstein.

Published:7/19/2019 10:29:22 PM
[Markets] Rep. Jim Jordan Reminds Dems Who Really Built 'Cages' At The Border

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) tore into Democrats during a Thursday House Oversight Committee hearing, reminding the selective-outrage brigade that "Not One Single So-Called Cage Has Been Constructed By The Trump Administration... not one." 

"During the presidency of Barack Obama, we didn't see outrage from the Democrats then. We didn't see prominent Democrat members of Congress condemning the "concentration camps" torture then. Again, President Trump has not built a single "cage." 

The cages you see in the news and on Twitter were constructed by President Obama's administration.

Watch below (via BlazeTV)

 

Published:7/19/2019 3:00:15 PM
[National Security] Obama’s Pro-Iran Echo Chamber Finds New Ally in Rand Paul

With the Iranian economy teetering on the brink of collapse, senior Iranian officials and their allies in the former administration's self-described pro-Iran echo chamber have been scrambling to drive a wedge between President Donald Trump and his national security team.

The post Obama’s Pro-Iran Echo Chamber Finds New Ally in Rand Paul appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/19/2019 1:56:05 PM
[Politics] John Delaney Rips Joe Biden's 'Old Playbook' Campaign Joe Biden is "just running an old playbook" that relies on his years as former President Barack Obama's No. 2, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney said. Published:7/19/2019 1:01:34 PM
[Energy] EPA Administrator Explains What’s Changed at the Agency Since the Obama Years

For Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, it’s important to make sure states—not the federal government—are making the calls on environmental issues when possible. He... Read More

The post EPA Administrator Explains What’s Changed at the Agency Since the Obama Years appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:7/19/2019 2:22:37 AM
[Markets] Attacks On "White, Male" Moon Landing Prove No US Achievement Is Beyond Liberals' Virtue-Signaling Rage

Authored by Igor Ogorodnev,

Attempts to diminish the triumph of Apollo 11 and to reassign credit don’t just taint the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, but presage the technological decline of the US if it persists with identity politics...

With the Founding Fathers now rarely mentioned in the media without side notes about their slave ownership, and the Betsy Ross flag is offensive to Colin Kaepernick and Nike, there is nothing new about liberal attempts to strike at the very heart of American identity.

But – leaving aside the conspiracy theorists – the moment Neil Armstrong stepped on the surface of the Moon on July 20, 1969 was objectively such a universal milestone that to qualify it seems a fight against human endeavor itself.

Heroes retconned

It would seem like the more logical route, for those who resent that this was a feat of white un-woke America, would be to try and diminish their role in favour of supposedly unsung heroes.

Hidden Figures, the Oscar-winning film from 2016 was the perfect archetype of this revisionist history, exaggerating and fictionalizing the role of a cadre of politically suitable black women, who did an entirely replaceable job and were no more important than thousands of others involved.

This way everyone would get to celebrate their own role models, even though in time such worthy changes of focus can end up with grotesque urban myths, like Crick and Watson stealing the Nobel Prize from (the actually dead) Rosalind Franklin.

Celebrating white men in the age of Trump

But while this unifying narrative, where people of different races and varying attainments are placed alongside each other in anniversary pieces, a more sour, radicalized note has begun to surface, compared to celebrations even five years ago, in the prelapsarian era of Barack Obama.

It is not yet dominant, but persistent enough to be more than a coincidence.

“The culture that put men on the moon was intense, fun, family-unfriendly, and mostly white and male,” tweeted the Washington Post, over a behind-the-scenes look at the life of those involved in the program.

“In archival Apollo 11 photos and footage, it’s a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ exercise to spot a woman or person of color, it continued in the article itself.

"We chose to go to the moon. Or at least, some did: watching [documentary film] Apollo 11, it is impossible not to observe that nearly every face you see is white and male," left-wing magazine New Statesman wrote in a recent piece.

A recent Guardian review of the documentary Armstrong features the writer talking about “good ol’ boys from NASA – elderly white men every one of them, who you suspect are still pining for the days of American life when men were men and women waited by the phone in headscarves,” though no evidence is given for the assertion.

Why wasn’t von Braun a black woman?

This is not just bigoted, but astonishing in its unfairness.

Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins could not have helped being white at birth.

George Mueller and Max Faget were not proverbial “mediocre white men” – their deeds are tangible.

No one at NASA could have helped living in 1960s America, or made its social structures, workplace roles, and demographics fit in with 2019 journalists’ conceptions. For God’s sake, many were Germans who had served the Nazi Party with varying degrees of reluctance during World War II, before being whisked away through Operation Paperclip – how do they fit into 21st century privilege hierarchies? Could Wernher von Braun have been an African-American woman from Louisiana?

Wernher von Braun with John F. Kennedy ©  Getty Images/Bettmann / Contributor

Or would it have been better to stay on Earth until US society advanced enough to send the right people into space? Or perhaps let the Soviets get there first, since for all their class-based ideology they didn’t want to handicap themselves in the space race.

America weighs itself down

And handicap becomes the key word.

Rewriting history is a crucial weapon in the long-term culture war for the left, disappointed so often at the ballot box. But the implications of this go far beyond the past.

At the very edge of technological and scientific progress is a meritocracy – you can’t make someone a genius by appointing them. And for all the social changes, the key innovators at NASA and, more importantly, Silicon Valley, remain men, and predominantly white (though more often Asian). Whether it is more due to their superior opportunities, education or creativity, Elon Musk or Larry Page look just like the fathers of the space program.

Yet to avoid ever producing a picture like the sea of white shirts and black ties and pale arms at Launch Operations Center fifty years ago, there are demands for rectification, for diversity, essentially for positive discrimination.

Neil Armstrong leads his crew to the launchpad. ©  NASA

But picking people for posts on the basis of historic justice, skin color and chromosome combinations is a recipe for uncompetitive organizations, where the most talented never succeed, or merely drag along the quota-fillers.

And America’s rivals are not standing still – not just Russia now, but China, India and others. They would have no better chance to overtake the US in whatever is this century’s version of the space race, than if that nation decided to spit on its own achievements, and replace them with dogma.

Published:7/17/2019 11:17:28 PM
[Markets] Mike Flynn Judge Hauls Former Lawyers Back Into Court; Accused Of Withholding Case Files

A DC federal judge has ordered Michael Flynn's former attorneys to appear in court next month after Flynn's current legal counsel claims they haven't been given the entire case file by the team at Covington & Burling. 

Judge Emmet Sullivan, and Obama appointee, scheduled a status conference for August 27 at 11 a.m., and has invited a Senior Legal Ethics Counsel to weigh in on the conversation. 

"In light of the representations made by defense counsel regarding the delay in receiving the client files, the Court hereby gives notice to the parties of the Court's intent to invite Senior Legal Ethics Counsel for the District of Columbia Bar to attend the status conference and explain on the record the applicable District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct," wrote Sullivan. 

In a filing on Thursday, Flynn’s new attorneys Jesse Binnall, Sidney Powell and William Hodes wrote that they “do not yet have the entire file” from Flynn’s former lawyers and said they had been advised “it will be several weeks before all the information can be transferred.”

Flynn’s attorneys also reiterated that they already have a “massive” amount of files to review — spanning four hard drives that exceed 253 gigabytes of documents — and noted they had identified “crucial and troubling issues that should concern any court” without going into detail. -The Hill

Flynn's former attorneys have responded, saying they will have the rest of the case files delivered by July 26, per Politico

Meanwhile, Flynn's former attorney testified on Tuesday against Flynn's former business partner, 67-year-old Bijan Rafiekian, an Iranian-American who has been charged with illegally acting as an unregistered agen of a foreign government. 

Bijan Rafiekian

Prosecutors called ex-Flynn attorney Robert Kelner as a witness Tuesday at the trial of Bijan Rafiekian, 67, an Iranian-American businessman who was Flynn’s key counterpart in a lobbying and consulting firm the retired Army general opened after leaving government, Flynn Intel Group.

During about two-and-a-half hours on the witness stand in federal court in Alexandria, Va., Kelner appeared to do some damage to Rafiekian by telling jurors that the Flynn associate never shared key information about links between the lobbying work and Turkish government officials.

Kelner also said Rafiekian, better known as Kian, seemed upset by the lawyers’ recommendation in early 2017 that the firm make a retroactive filing about the work Flynn’s firm did to try to build support for the extradition from the U.S. of a dissident Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen. -Politico

"My recollection is that he was not happy about it. In part, he was not happy about the suggestion that FIG’s work primarily benefited the Government of Turkey," said Kelner. 

Attorney Robert Barnes raises the question: "Why was Covington firm ever representing Flynn given it knew it might be a material witness in a case related to Flynn? Did the government knowingly profit from this conflict?" 

Published:7/17/2019 12:18:10 PM
[Crime] Thanks to Obama, Hezbollah is Still Smuggling Cocaine & Terrorists Across Our Southern Border

The following article, Thanks to Obama, Hezbollah is Still Smuggling Cocaine & Terrorists Across Our Southern Border, was first published on Godfather Politics.

By Dean Garrison Through June CBP had seized a reported 39,995 pounds of cocaine from smugglers trying to get it across our Southern Border. Protecting our Southern Border is about way more than keeping out “harmless” illegal aliens from poor countries. Are you aware that Hezbollah smuggles, not just terrorists but also, cocaine across our ...

Continue reading: Thanks to Obama, Hezbollah is Still Smuggling Cocaine & Terrorists Across Our Southern Border ...

Published:7/17/2019 9:16:50 AM
[2f7c1615-7af5-59e8-a522-cbf58db8d2bf] Victor Davis Hanson: The 'Squad' aims to guillotine the Democratic old guard The Democratic Party bears little resemblance to the themes Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton embraced in the 2008 primaries. Published:7/17/2019 7:48:22 AM
[4ba8a5ae-4d27-5d4d-a7a4-190cecc9e3d6] Jason Chaffetz: Dems demand Trump advisers testify before Congress, but excused Obama advisers The Trump administration has been the very model of transparency compared to what I dealt with during eight years of Obama. Published:7/17/2019 4:12:52 AM
[Politics] The ‘Squad’ aims to guillotine the Democratic old guard The Democratic Party bears little resemblance to the themes Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton embraced in the 2008 primaries. The parameters of marriage — “between a man and woman,” in Obama’s words — has now transmogrified beyond gay civil unions to legal gay marriage to transgendered fixations. Obama once protested that he was no king... Published:7/16/2019 7:10:22 PM
[Markets] "If You Provoke The Entire World, Something Very Terrible May Happen"

Authored by Andre Vltchek via Off-Guardian.org,

The United States believes that it is so invincible, exceptional and so frightening that no one would ever dare to protest, let alone defend its people against constant humiliation, economic embargos and military threats.

It used to be like this for quite some time. In the past, the West used to bully the world before and after each well-planned assault. Also, well-crafted propaganda used to be applied.

It was declared that things are done ‘legally’ and rationally. There were certain stages to colonialist and imperialist attacks: “define your goals”, “identify your victim”, “plan”, “brainwash your own citizens and people all over the world”, and then, only then, “bomb some unfortunate country back to the stone ages”.

Now, things are slightly different.

“The leader of the free world” wakes up in the middle of the night, and he tweets. What comes from his computer, tablet or phone, (or whatever he uses), is spontaneous, unpolished and incredibly dangerous. Similar in substance to what made him wake up in the middle of the night, in a first place.

He does not seem to plan; he shoots off from the hip. Today, as I am writing this essay, he has declared that he has “five strategies for Venezuela”. Go figure. Bravo!

Earlier, as he was about to land outside London, he embarked on insulting the Mayor of the British capital, calling him names. A bit like we used to do to each other, when we were five years old, in the neighborhood playground.

He has been regularly offending Mexico, and of course Iran, China and Russia.

He basically tells the leader of the most populous nation on earth – China – to “be there”, at the G20 Summit, or else.

Whenever he and his lieutenants are in the mood, they get busy antagonizing everyone: Cuba and Nicaragua, DPRK and Venezuela, Bolivia and Syria.

Of course, the main “culprits” are always the ‘biggest bad boys’, Russia and China.

Anyone, at any time, could easily land on the proverbial hit list of President Trump, and hawks of his United States of A. It could be India (which, during ‘good submissive times’ is called by the West the “biggest democracy”, or perhaps Turkey (militarily the second mightiest NATO country). The world had been converted into an entity which appears to be run by a bloodthirsty and unpredictable dictatorship. The world is an entity where everyone is terrified of being purged, imprisoned, starved to death, or directly attacked, even liquidated.

It was always like this, at least in the modern history of the planet. Colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism: they have many different faces but one common root. A root that has been often hidden deep under the surface.

But this time it is all in the open, raw and brutally honest.

*  *  *

Both George W. Bush and Donald Trump have one thing in common: they are honest.

Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama were both ‘suave’ presidents. They were loved in Europe, as they knew how to speak politely, how to dine elegantly, and how to commit mass murder in a ‘rational, righteous way’; ‘old-fashioned, European-style’.

The brutal, vulgar ways of W. Bush and Donald Trump have been consistently shocking all those individuals who are pleased when things are done ‘stylishly’ and ‘politically correctly’; be it a coup or the starvation to death of millions through embargos. Or be it invasions or ‘smart’ bombing (practically, ‘smart’ meaning very far from the inquisitive eyes).

But it is not only the ‘offended sensibilities’ of predominantly European population, that matter.

The danger is that someone might take Donald Trump seriously, and respond accordingly.

In the past, verbal insults similar to those unleashed now by the US President, could easily have led to a war, or at least to the breaking up of diplomatic relationships.

And now?

In case Westerners have not realized it, yet – people all over the world are indignant. I talk to Libyans, Afghans, Iraqis, Venezuelans, Cubans, Iranians: they hate what comes from Washington; hate it with passion. They know that what is being done to them is terrorism, thuggery. But for now, they do not know how to defend themselves. Not yet, but they are thinking.

The entire world now resembles a brutal ghetto, or a slum, where a heavily armed gang controls the streets, and in fact every corner and alley.

At least in the past, subjugated people were able to hide behind decorative words and ideological pirouettes. They were able to ‘save their face’. They were sodomized in the name of ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’. Now, a horrible reality is flying directly into all directions: “You will do as you are told!” “It is us who will decide.” “Obey, because we said so”. Entire proud nations are being reduced into states of slaves or even worse – lap dogs.

*  *  *

As everyone is well aware, even lackeys and slaves often hold grudges. And abused dogs can bite.

Throughout history, slaves rebelled. True heroes came from rebellious and enslaved nations.

This, what we have now on our planet, is not good, not a healthy situation.

The more countries that are being intimidated, the higher the chances are that somewhere, soon, things will let go; collapse.

Only terrible fear, so far, assures that if a Syrian or a Libyan or an Afghan city is leveled to the ground, there is no real retaliation: urban areas in the USA stay intact.

Only incredible patience of the Russian or Chinese leaders guarantees that, so far, even as their economies are being battered by ridiculous sanctions, the two powerful nations do not retaliate and ruin the US financial system (which is only a paper tiger).

Trump dares. He tortures and humiliates more than half of the world, then looks straight ahead and laughs: “So what are you going to do now?”

So far, the world is doing nothing.

Even the proud and mighty Iran is not ‘crossing the line’. As millions of its people are suffering because of insane sanctions, the Iranian navy is not yet engaging the US battleships that are sailing very near its shores.

Even as more and more US bases are being built right next to both Russia and China’s borders, so far there are no substantial military bases being erected by Moscow or Beijing in places such as Nicaragua, Cuba or Venezuela.

*  *  *

All this may change, soon.

And the so much dreaded (by Washington) “domino effect” may actually take place.

Non-Western leaders have also their ‘bad days’ and terrible nights. They also wake up in the middle of the night, and think, want to communicate and to act.

Imagine an Iranian leader, waking up at 2AM, and suddenly feeling overwhelmed by wrath, because Iranian men, women and children are suffering, for no reason, as a result of the perverse sadism being regurgitated by the West. What if he Tweets an insult, too? What if he just orders, on a spur of the moment, to have all those obsolete US aircraft carriers and destroyers that are floating in the vicinity, be sunk? Iran can do it: everyone knows that it can! Technically, militarily, it is easy: those ships are just sitting ducks.

Then what? Will Washington nuke Iran?

Someone may say: The West is killing millions every year, anyway. Better to fight it, in order to stop it, once and for all. Others may join. And then, then what? Will Trump give orders to kill tens of millions, just to maintain control over the world?

What if the US navy vessels bump into a Russian or a Chinese ship, as they almost did in the South China Sea, recently? What if a Russian or Chinese ship sinks, dozens of sailors die. And there is a retaliation? Then what?

What if Syria has enough and begins shooting down Israeli military jets that are bombing it, and attacking North American and European ‘special forces’ that are still located, illegally, on its territory?

The US is engaged all over the world. France and the UK, too. And if you talk to the people in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, you very soon realize what the real feelings towards Washington are!

If you provoke the entire world, something very terrible may happen!

Now, there is an entire coalition of powerful nations, ready to defend themselves, and also defend each other. Militarily, economically, and ideologically.

The world is not a slave of the West, or the United States. It is not a latrine.

This is the new world. Considering the horrors that were spread by the West, for many long years and centuries, Asia, Africa, “Latin America”, the Middle East and Oceania, are unbelievably patient and forgiving. But the USA and Europe should not take this tolerance for granted. They should not provoke its former and present victims.

Now, we (the people from the previously ruined part of the world) are beginning to speak up: about what is being done to us – to China and Russia, to South America and Africa, and the Middle East. With awareness comes courage. With courage comes pride.

Do not misinterpret our kindness. It is not a weakness. Not anymore. Think twice before you speak (or Tweet). Think a thousand times, before you act!

Published:7/16/2019 7:10:22 PM
[Uncategorized] No, the Trump Administration Did Not Delay the Harriet Tubman $20 Bill Redesign Obama officials said the plan was always to release the new bill in 2030. Published:7/16/2019 2:08:21 PM
[Politics] WATCH: Trump DEFENDS Erdogan purchase of Russian missile defense system, blames Obama! Well this is interesting. Today Trump defended Erdogan’s purchase of the non-NATO Russian S-400 missile defense system, blaming Obama for puttting them in that situation: Watch: Trump blamed Obama for refusing to . . . Published:7/16/2019 1:38:07 PM
[Politics] WATCH: Trump DEFENDS Erdogan purchase of Russian missile defense system, blames Obama! Well this is interesting. Today Trump defended Erdogan’s purchase of the non-NATO Russian S-400 missile defense system, blaming Obama for puttting them in that situation: Watch: Trump blamed Obama for refusing to . . . Published:7/16/2019 1:16:33 PM
[The Blog] WaPo: A desperate nation cries out for… Barack Obama?

Help us, Obamawan. You're our only hope.

The post WaPo: A desperate nation cries out for… Barack Obama? appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:7/16/2019 11:39:16 AM
[Markets] US Grants Visa To Iran FM But "Sharply Curtails" His Movements Near UN Building

An opening that could cool tensions, or just a brief pause in the continued build-up to a near-future war?

On Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech he's ready to hold talks with the United States if it lifts sanctions and returns to its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal. “We have always believed in talks... if they lift sanctions, end the imposed economic pressure and return to the deal, we are ready to hold talks with America today, right now and anywhere,” Rouhani said.

However, in an interview following the overture, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed it as “the same offer that he offered to John F. Kerry and Barack Obama.” Pompeo concluded, “President Trump will obviously make the final decision. But this is a path that the previous administration had gone down and it led to the (Iran nuclear deal) which this administration, President Trump and I both believe was a disaster.”

Pompeo also said during the Sunday night interview that the US has granted a visa to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif — who just earlier this month was reportedly the focus of potential US sanctions alongside top IRGC commanders and officials — but that his movements would be greatly limited and "sharply curtailed"

File image: Iranian FM Zarif at the UN. 

"U.S. diplomats don’t roam around Tehran, so we don’t see any reason for Iranian diplomats to roam freely around New York City, either," Pompeo said.

“It’s absolutely appropriate that we provide Foreign Minister Zarif and his delegation with all the rights that they are due under the U.N. headquarters agreement, and nothing more than that,” he said further.

According to The Washington Post:

Pompeo said in a telephone interview that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his delegation will be permitted to travel between U.N. headquarters and the Iranian mission six blocks away, and to the residence of Iran’s U.N. ambassador nearby. The group arrived in New York on Sunday morning.

The "restricted" travel and movement regimen comes after President Trump said last week that sanctions on Iran would soon increase "substantially". 

UN headquarters building in New York. Image source: CBS

This despite European signatories to the 2015 JCPOA France, Britain and Germany urging an immediate resumption of dialogue, citing fears the nuclear pact is on the brink of falling apart. 

“We believe that the time has come to act responsibly and to look for ways to stop the escalation of tension and resume dialogue,” the heads of state of the three countries said in a joint statement.

Published:7/16/2019 11:06:39 AM
[Politics] Voters Question Trump’s Allegiance to Constitution

President Trump, like President Obama before him, has relied heavily on executive actions to get around a gridlocked Congress, and voters fall along predictable party lines when asked whether Trump’s actions would pass constitutional muster.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey shows that 50% of Likely U.S. Voters believe Trump has been less faithful to the U.S. Constitution than most other presidents. Thirty-one percent (31%) say he’s been more faithful to the foundational document. Sixteen percent (16%) rate Trump’s allegiance to the Constitution as about the same as other presidents. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 11 and 14, 2019 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.

Published:7/16/2019 9:41:01 AM
[Opinion Column] MEDIA BLACKOUT! Trump Cuts Aid to African Slave Nation that Obama Supported

The following article, MEDIA BLACKOUT! Trump Cuts Aid to African Slave Nation that Obama Supported, was first published on Godfather Politics.

As the media establishment smears Trump as a “racist,” it is telling that the president has done what the black ex-president Barack Obama never did.

Continue reading: MEDIA BLACKOUT! Trump Cuts Aid to African Slave Nation that Obama Supported ...

Published:7/16/2019 9:06:25 AM
[Markets] Mainstream Media Hide Skripal's Connections To Russiagate-Trump Case

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

First of all, everyone should read this:  “The 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing US Media Failures on the Trump-Russia Story”. It is important background for understanding what follows, because the following helps to explain what is displayed in that brilliant prior article.

News has slowly been getting out that the British Government’s account of the poisoning of the Skripals is a fabrication which had been done in order to escalate hostilities against Russia, and that when information from Democratic Party and Clinton campaign computers subsequently became either leaked or hacked to Wikileaks, the Democratic National Committee hired, in order to investigate that, British contractors who were also involved in the Skripal fraud, and Skripal himself might have been a crucial part of the Russiagate-Trump operation. Russiagate — the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian Government — resulted from this DNC-UK team. There was collusion, but it was between the US Government (then under Obama) and the UK Government (under Cameron and then May), directed against Trump, and not actually between candidate Trump and the Russian Government, directed against Clinton. The present report summarizes the gradual making-public of this actual history.

Developing that case about the real collusion has been and is a remarkably slow process, because the evidence in the real case requires extensive expertise in order to understand and interpret correctly the relationships between the people who were involved in it. So: the following summary encapsulates those relationships; and, at all points, it will link directly to the reports by the courageous investigative journalists who have participated in making public parts of what is, effectively, a key component of the history of the US Obama Administration’s collusion with the UK Government in order to cripple — and having the aim to overthrow — Trump’s US Government, in the event that Trump would win the 2016 US Presidential contest, as he did. (Perhaps the main reason for this manufactured case against Trump was that Trump had publicly criticised NATO, and that doing this, by any US Presidential candidate who has a real chance of winning his or her Party’s nomination, is prohibited by the Deep State — the rulers of both Parties, and of both US and UK.)

Throughout this peeling-off (thus far) of the layers of this onion that’s behind both the Skripal fraud and the Russiagate fraud, the case became progressively stronger that the US and UK Governments were actually colluding together, in order to prevent any possibility that the Cold War would end on the US-and-allied side, as it had decades earlier ended only on Russia’s side in 1991. All of this has been done so to keep in place the myththat when Russia ended the Cold War on its side in 1991, the US and its allies likewise ended it on their side, instead of secretly proceeded forward on their side of the Cold War (as they have done), their ultimate aim being to gradually isolate and then take control of Russia’s Government, and thereby emerge with incontestable control over the entire planet, the first and only globally all-encompassing empire, a dictatorial government of the entire world — any imperialistic regime’s dream — an unchallengeable rule over everyone. Both the Skripal set-up and the Russiagate-Trump scam (and the cover-ups of both) were parts of that broader international operation.

*  *  *

PEELING THE ONION

Layer 1:

On 8 May 2018, David Allan Miller of the University of Bath in England headlined at Spinwatch, “Revealed: rebranded D-Notice committee issued two notices over Skripal affair”, and he posted, and then commented upon, a leaked email that the UK’s Defence and Security Media Advisory (DSMA) office had distributed to all of UK’s major news-media, which started:

From: DSMA Secretary <secretary@dsma.uk>

Date: 7 March 2018

Subject: URGENT FOR ALL EDITORS – DEFENCE AND SECURITY MEDIA ADVISORY (DSMA) NOTICE

To: DSMA Secretary <secretary@dsma.uk>

Private and Confidential: Not for Publication, Broadcast or for use on Social Media

TO ALL EDITORS

The issue surrounding the identity of a former MI6 informer, Sergei Skripal …

You can see the full notice here. It instructs all of the major news-media to hide “the identifies [identities] of intelligence agency personnel associated with Sergei Skripal.” This, of course, would include the name of his MI6 handler, Skripal’s MI6 boss.

David Miller then went on to summarize the evidence:

On the evening of 6 March [2018] a Russian opposition news outlet Meduza, styling itself ‘Russia’s free press in exile’, published a long piece on Skripal in English. [Dr. Miller didn’t link to it, but it is dated “March 6, 2018” and opens “On March 4, a 66-year-old former colonel in Russia’s Military Intelligence Directorate was hospitalized in critical condition in Salisbury, England,” and that Meduza article can be seen here.] Citing a variety of online sources including in Russian, some from over a decade old, identifying Pablo Miller as the MI6 agent inside the Estonian embassy who had recruited Sergei Skripal. By the next afternoon, the notice [on 7 March] was issued to the mainstream media. The Telegraph was the first mainstream outlet to discuss – in discreet and decorous terminology – the connection between Skripal and a ‘security consultant’ who is ‘understood to have known him for some time’ and ‘is also based in Salisbury’. … The Telegraph reported that the ‘consultant’ worked at the same company (Orbis Business Intelligence) that compiled the controversial dossier on Donald Trump and Russia – paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Convention. The consultant was, as we now know, Pablo Miller, who had ‘known’ Skripal in the specific sense that he was his MI6 handler. Some, such as Guardian journalist Luke Harding, have suggested that Miller never worked for Orbis, but this seems to be false. …

The notice helps to encourage the climate of anti-Russian hysteria implying that investigative reporting on this matter that might discuss British intelligence is in effect Russian propaganda. This is a nice illustration of David Leigh’s phrase from nearly 40 years ago: ‘the obverse of the secrecy coin is always propaganda’.

It is a standing rebuke to the notion that journalism should question power, that 15 senior media people should agree to sit on this censorship committee. As well as the BBC, ITV, ITN and Murdoch’s Sky News, representing broadcasters, there are a variety of representatives from the broadsheet and tabloid press, regional and Scottish newspapers and magazines and publishing – including two News UK and Harper Collins, (both owned by Murdoch) as well as Trinity Mirror, the Daily Mail and the Guardian. On the government side of the committee are the chair from the MoD and four intelligence connected representatives from the MoD (Dominic Wilson, Director General Security Policy), Foreign Office (Lewis Neal, Director for National Security), Home Office (Graeme Biggar, unspecified post in the OSCT) and Cabinet Office (Paddy McGuinness, Deputy National Security Adviser for Security, Intelligence, and Resilience).

The DSMA [Defence and Security Media Advisory] committee likes to cultivate the impression that it is a rather uninteresting committee that is, as a former vice chair of the committee (a journalist) put it, ‘is emphatically not censorship… but voluntary, responsible media restraint’. Then working at Sky News, that vice chair, Simon Bucks, is now CEO at the Services Sound and Vision Corporation, the broadcasting service which says it is ‘championing the Armed Forces’. Bucks also wrote [in the Guardianthat the DSMA committee is ‘the most mythologised and misunderstood institution in British media. … ‘Slapping a D-notice’ on something the establishment wanted suppressed has been the stuff of thrillers, spy stories and conspiracy theories for more than a century.”

This is a typical deception used regularly by defenders of the British system of censorship.

Layer 2:

This comes from Ludwig De Braeckeleer: “Salisbury Incident — UK Media silenced by D-Notices Over Skripal Affair” Posted on May 10, 2018 [two days after David Miller’s article, and adding context to it]

Quick Analysis

In the aftermath of the Skripal incident, the UK government moved quickly to ‘protect’ the identity of Sergei Skripal as well as the identity of his former MI6 handler Pablo Miller who happens to live near Salisbury.

On March 7, the first D-Notice was issued, but their names had already been revealed.

At the same time, a few journalists planted false information regarding Pablo Miller and Orbis, the private Intel company that became famous because of the infamous dossier Chris Steele compiled on Trump’s Russiagate.

On March 8, Gordon Corera tweeted that his sources were certain that no link exists between Skripal and Orbis or Chris Steele.

On the same day, Luke Harding suggested that Miller never worked for Orbis, which is obviously untrue. Pablo Miller had listed his employment by Orbis Business Intelligence on his LinkedIn profile.

So, this much is certain. The UK government has quickly moved to black out the identity of Pablo Miller and his connections to both Sergei Skripal and Orbis.

In 2017, a D-Notice was already issued against British journalists revealing the identity of the Trump’s Dossier author (Chris Steele).

Multiple British outlets ignored this advice and revealed his name anyway, including BBC News, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.

The use of a D-Notice is not a rare event. But it is not used very frequently either.

I believe that a couple of such notices have been issued annually on average in the UK over the last ten years. And we KNOW that at least three of these notices were issued in connection with the Skripal and Orbis Affair(s?). Stay tuned!

REFERENCES

Revealed: rebranded D-Notice committee issued two notices over Skripal affair — SpinWatch

The DSMA notices can be found here:

DSMA notice 7 March 2018

DSMA notice 14 March 2018

Layer 3

On 19 March 2018, the anonymous “Moon of Alabama” blogger headlined “No Patients Have Experienced Symptoms Of Nerve Agent Poisoning In Salisbury” and was perhaps the first person to put it all together:

Is this third person the MI6 agent Pablo Miller who in 1995 recruited Skripal as British double agent. Miller who was also involved in handling the MI6 assets Boris Berezovski and Alexander Litvinenko. Pablo Miller who lives close to Sergej Skripal in Salisbury and is considered to be his friend? The same Pablo Miller who worked with former MI6 agent Christopher Steele’s Orbis Business Intelligence which created the ‘dirty dossier’ about Donald Trump? How deep were the Skripals involved in making up the fake stories in the anti-Trump dossier for which the Clinton campaign paid more than $168,000. Did the Skripals threaten to talk about the issue? Is that why the incident [the poisoning] happened?

Layer 4

On 5 July 2019, Aaron Maté issued his enormous study, “CrowdStrikeOut: Mueller’s Own Report Undercuts Its Core Russia-Meddling Claims”, which points out that:

There is also reason to question CrowdStrike’s impartiality. Its co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, the preeminent Washington think tank [NATO’s PR agency, actually] that aggressively promotes a hawkish posture towards Russia. CrowdStrike executive Shawn Henry, who led the forensics team that ultimately blamed Russia for the DNC breach, previously served as assistant director at the FBI under Mueller.

And CrowdStrike was hired to perform the analysis of the DNC servers by Perkins Coie – the law firm that also was responsible for contracting Fusion GPS, the Washington, D.C.-based opposition research firm that produced the now discredited Steele dossier alleging salacious misconduct by Trump in Russia and his susceptibility to blackmail.

Layer 5

On 31 August 2017, Scott Ritter issued his “DUMBSTRUCK: a HomeFront Intelligence Report on how America was conned about the DNC hack”, which described how

the DNC prohibited the US Government from having access to the evidence, and instead went directly to the major ‘news’-media in order to (mis)inform the public what had happened:

At first the DNC tried to get the FBI to make the attribution call, figuring that it would garner more attention coming from the US government. But when the FBI wanted full access to the DNC server so that it could conduct a full forensic investigation, the DNC balked. Instead, after meeting with Alperovitch and Henry, the DNC and CrowdStrike devised a strategy to take the case to the public themselves. Alperovitch prepared a formal technical report that singled out the Russians for attribution. When it was ready, the DNC invited in a reporter from the Washington Post named Ellen Nakashima, who was given exclusive access to senior DNC and CrowdStrike personnel for an above-the-fold, front-page article. … The Post article, published on the morning of June 14, 2016, went viral, with nearly every major media outlet.

Layer 6

On 11 June 2019, Matt Kennard posted a long string of tweets: https://twitter.com/DCKennard/status/1138493594728304640

Matt Kennard [abbreviated here]

@DCKennard

Guardian’s deputy editor @paul__johnson joined state censorship D-Notice committee (run by MOD) after Snowden revelations in sop to British spooks. In board minutes, they thank him for being “instrumental in re-establishing links” between UK mil/intel and Guardian. Explains a lot

10:09 AM – 11 Jun 2019

Matt Kennard

@DCKennard

Who was @carolecadwalla’s “highly placed contact with links to US intelligence” who fed her clear disinformation? (Mueller report makes clear Podesta/DNC leaks transmitted digitally). Since Snowden, intel agencies have used Guardian/Obs to launder their disinformation operations.

Matt Kennard

@DCKennard

Guardian dep ed @paul__johnson joins D-Notice comm for 1st meeting at MOD in 2014. Air Vice-Marshal Vallance reports relationship w/ Guardian has “continued to strengthen”. Alongside Air Commodore Adams and Brigadier Dodds he’s now in “regular dialogues” w/ “Guardian journalists”

12 Jun 2019 

CONCLUSION

So: not only was it “Pablo Miller as the MI6 agent inside the Estonian embassy who had recruited Sergei Skripal,” but “In the aftermath of the Skripal incident, the UK government moved quickly to ‘protect’ the identity of Sergei Skripal as well as the identity of his former MI6 handler Pablo Miller who happens to live near Salisbury.” MI6 was covering its tracks. And, “At the same time, a few journalists planted false information regarding Pablo Miller and Orbis, the private Intel company that became famous because of the infamous dossier Chris Steele compiled on Trump’s Russiagate.” And, “Pablo Miller had listed his employment by Orbis Business Intelligence.” And, “Orbis Business Intelligence … compiled the controversial [MI6 Christopher Steeledossier on Donald Trump and Russia – paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Convention [Democratic National Committee]. The consultant was, as we now know, Pablo Miller, who had ‘known’ Skripal in the specific sense that he was his MI6 handler.” And, “CrowdStrike was hired to perform the analysis of the DNC servers by Perkins Coie – the law firm that also was responsible for contracting Fusion GPS, the Washington, D.C.-based opposition research firm that produced the now discredited Steele dossier alleging salacious misconduct by Trump in Russia and his susceptibility to blackmail.” And, “At first the DNC tried to get the FBI to make the attribution call, figuring that it would garner more attention coming from the US government. But when the FBI wanted full access to the DNC server so that it could conduct a full forensic investigation, the DNC balked. Instead, after meeting with Alperovitch and Henry, the DNC and CrowdStrike devised a strategy to take the case to the public themselves.” And, “Since Snowden, intel agencies have used Guardian/Obs to launder their disinformation operations.”

Masterful. The Obama-Clinton DNC and MI6, and their hired private contractors, worked together to frame Russia for both the Skripal poisonings and the Trump victory.

And yet, key questions remain unanswered: “How deep were the Skripals involved in making up the fake stories in the anti-Trump dossier for which the Clinton campaign paid more than $168,000. Did the Skripals threaten to talk about the issue? Is that why the incident [their poisoning] happened?” There is the possibility that the Skripals’ poisoning was an inside job, by a contractor, for the UK and/or US Governments.

Not to mention other questions: Why are the Skripals still prohibited from speaking to the press and from answering questions in a court? After all, Boris Johnson, who is likely soon to be UK’s Prime Minister, lied, and repeatedly, in order to allege that UK’s Porton Down intelligence lab had identified Russia as the source of the poison: “Asked how the British government could be so sure Russia was behind the attack, Johnson deferred to ‘the people from Porton Down,’ who he said were ‘absolutely categorical.’” And here’s how corrupt he is.

But the historical background of this entire matter — both Skripal and Trump-Russiagate — is obvious: MI6 is Britain’s equivalent to America’s CIA. That was Obama’s CIA. This was entirely a MI6-CIA disinformation campaign, which was an extension from Obama’s (and the UK Government’s) participation in US President G.H.W. Bush’s decision, on 24 February 1990, to continue the Cold War until Russia becomes swept up in, controlled by the USAnd Britain’s Guardian served the Deep State as the core conduit for disinformation to the public on this particular operation (Russiagate-Trump — Obama’s operation to make irreversible Obama’s public restoration (most obvious in Ukraine) of the Russia-is-America’s-top-enemy meme), for and on behalf of the Deep State, so as to continue G.H.W. Bush’s Cold War, inside the US — never to reverse it, until ‘victory’ is achieved.

The “special relationship” between the US and UK (CIA and MI6) is obviously to assist each other in deceiving the other’s public. (Not only did MI6 participate in deceiving UK’s public to fear and despise Putin, but it was crucial in deceiving the US public that Trump was Putin’s stooge.)

On 21 March 2016, the Washington Post had headlined “Trump questions need for NATO, outlines noninterventionist foreign policy” and reported:

“I do think it’s a different world today, and I don’t think we should be nation-building anymore,” Trump said. “I think it’s proven not to work, and we have a different country than we did then. We have $19 trillion in debt. We’re sitting, probably, on a bubble. And it’s a bubble that if it breaks, it’s going to be very nasty. I just think we have to rebuild our country.”

He added: “I watched as we built schools in Iraq and they’re blown up. We build another one, we get blown up. We rebuild it three times and yet we can’t build a school in Brooklyn. We have no money for education because we can’t build in our own country. At what point do you say, ‘Hey, we have to take care of ourselves?’ So, I know the outer world exists and I’ll be very cognizant of that. But at the same time, our country is disintegrating, large sections of it, especially the inner cities.”

Five days later, the New York Times bannered “Transcript: Donald Trump Expounds on His Foreign Policy Views”and reported his saying, “NATO is obsolete” because it “was set up to talk about the Soviet Union. Now of course the Soviet Union doesn’t exist now.” How would the controlling owners of corporations such as Lockheed Martin — and extractive international US corporations such as ExxonMobil — feel about that? NATO has produced a significant portion of Lockheed’s sales, and of Exxon’s access to other nations’ natural resources. That sort of thing — enforcement and extension of empire — is NATO’s real purpose. And it didn’t end when the USSR’s communism, and Warsaw Pact, did in 1991.

The Skripal poisonings had occurred earlier that same month, March 2016. And the DNC went to the very same UK operators that UK did in order to frame Russia for Skripal’s poisoning — but now to place that Russian frame around Trump’s face. All of this was part of the US empire’s decision, which had been made on 24 February 1990, to conquer Russia.

In the timeline of events leading up to the DNC’s hiring of its investigators, we also have this, in 2016,

29 April: The DNC discovers the penetration of its servers by unknown hackers. An emergency meeting is calledbetween Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (DNC Chief Executive), Amy Dacey (DNC Technology Director), Andrew Brown, and Michael Sussmann, a lawyer for Perkins Coie. Sussmann is a former federal prosecutor for the DOJ whose expertise is computer crime. …

4 May: Five days after first discovering the server penetration at the DNC, Michael Sussmann – of Perkins Coie – finally calls CrowdStrike to arrange for analysis of the problem.

In other words: Sussman wanted to privatize the ‘investigation’ instead of to hand to the FBI control over it, which would have given the FBI subpoena-power to require the DNC to provide to the FBI access to their computers — the actual evidence which was in their posession on their end of the case. Even the Special Counsel, Robwrt Miller, had no access to that crucial evidence.

Furthermore, Aaron Maté’s painstakingly thorough analysis of the entire Mueller Report, on July 5th, showed “CrowdStrikeOut: Mueller’s Own Report Undercuts Its Core Russia-Meddling Claims”; and, so, even regarding the allegations that Mueller makes against Russia (not merely regarding whether Trump was colluding with Russia), Mueller’s Report was trash — extremely unreliable and untrustworthy. Mueller has a long history as being a Deep State agent.

And through all of this has been the US and UK Governments’ imprisoning-without-trial Julian Assange — for many years including the part that was spent at the Ecuadorean Embassy — and never even negotiating with Assange for him to answer questions under oath such as “Did that information come to you physically via a thumb-drive or instead purely by electronic transmission?” “Did Craig Murray bring it to You?” They’d rather kill Assange or keep him incommunicado in prison for life, than to do that. Why? And Trump, himself, is part of this, no less than Obama was. Obviously, both Presidents serve the same Deep State (even though they serve different billionaires in it).

This, at least, is a credible scenario. There is no evidence for the PR’d one, regarding either Skripal or Russiagate-Trump. There are accusations, but no case, for those.

*  *  *

NOTE: In the current hyper-partisan American political climate, when a vast majority of the supporters of each of the two Parties hates the opposite Party so much as to be closed-minded - blinded to the reality of their ownParty’s evilness, and to its incessant lying and cover-ups - I should make clear that there is nothing in this article that is, at all, supportive toward either Party. My personal view is that, ever since at least 1981, only Deep State controlled people have lived in the US White House and controlled Congress. As a group, they have perpetrated incalculable harm (such as this) to the entire world. Their only masters have been America’s billionaires. America certainly is a dictatorship, no democracy — it represents only its hundreds of billionaires and their millions of agents, no public at all. The two Parties represent the two factions into which America’s aristocracy have divided themselves. Neither represents the public. Each represents only a faction of America’s billionaires. A democracy cannot consist merely of contending factions of the aristocracy. That’s not a democracy. It’s like almost all other dictatorships throughout history. But the vast majority of Americans refuse even to consider this scientifically proven fact, that America is a dictatorship, not a democracy. For example: recently, a Democratic Party propaganda site, the Daily Beast, headlined “Mueller Missed the Crime: Trump’s Campaign Coordinated With Russia”, and the law-professor who wrote it ignored the much deeper criticisms that Maté’s article leveled against the Mueller Report. A prominent Democratic Party propaganda site continues, even now, “The Moscow Project” about “Trump’s collusion with Russia.” Closed-minded people are simply closed-minded — and that’s the vast majority. They’re open only to ‘information’ that confirms their prejudices. This widespread closed-mindedness is the Deep State’s biggest protector. The manufacture of consent is based upon it. Being open-minded doesn’t mean being gullible — a fool, manipulable. Being closed-minded does. Most people aren’t even aware of that basic epistemological-psychological fact. It’s the reason why both among Democrats and among Republicans, the vast majority still trust their Party, even after all of the blatant and consistent lying of the US Government at least since 9/11. Any Government with a track-record like this, warrants zero trust, and gets that from any intelligent citizen.

Published:7/16/2019 1:04:18 AM
[Media] Resistance backfire in progress! WaPo columnist’s call for Obama to ‘speak up’ about Trump gets slammed by Touré, Oliver Willis & others

Plus it could also get awkward for Obama because cameras existed before January of 2017.

The post Resistance backfire in progress! WaPo columnist’s call for Obama to ‘speak up’ about Trump gets slammed by Touré, Oliver Willis & others appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:7/15/2019 11:13:06 PM
[Markets] A Sultan Shines In The Court Of The Dragon King

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Saker blog,

The graphic image of Turkey pivoting away from NATO towards the Russia-China strategic partnership was provided, in more ways than one, by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing right after the G20 in Osaka.

BEIJING, CHINA – JULY 02: President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) walk past the honor guards during an official welcoming ceremony at Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on July 02, 2019. Volkan Furuncu / Anadolu Agency

Turkey is a key hub in the emerging New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative. Erdogan is a master at selling Turkey as the ultimate East-West crossroads. He has also expressed much interest in joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by Russia-China, whose annual summit took place in Bishkek a few days before Osaka.

In parallel, against hell and high water – from threats of sanctions by the US Congress to NATO warnings – Erdogan never budged from Ankara’s decision to buy Russian S-400 defense missile systems, a $2.5-billion contract according to Rostec’s Sergei Chemezov.

The S-400s start to be shipped to Turkey as early as this week. According to Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar, their deployment should start by October. Much to Washington’s ire, Turkey is the first NATO member state to buy S-400s.

Xi, as he welcomed Erdogan in Beijing, stressed the message he crafted together with Putin in their previous meetings in St Petersburg, Bishkek and Osaka: China and Turkey should “uphold a multilateral world order with the United Nations at its core, a system based on international law.”

Erdogan, for his part, turned up the charm – from publishing an op-ed in the Global Times extolling a common vision of the future to laying it out in some detail. His target is to consolidate Chinese investment in multiple areas in Turkey, directly or indirectly related to Belt and Road.

Addressing the extremely sensitive Uighur dossier head on, Erdogan deftly executed a pirouette. He eschewed accusations from his own Foreign Ministry that “torture and political brainwashing” were practiced in Uighur detention camps and would rather comment that Uighurs “live happily” in China. “It is a fact that the peoples of China’s Xinjiang region live happily in China’s development and prosperity. Turkey does not permit any person to incite disharmony in the Turkey-China relationship.”

This is even more startling considering that Erdogan himself, in the past decade, had accused Beijing of genocide. And in a famous 2015 case, hundreds of Uighurs about to be deported from Thailand back to China ended up, after much fanfare, being resettled in Turkey.

New geopolitical caravan

Erdogan seems to have finally realized that the New Silk Roads are the 2.0 digital version of the Ancient Silk Roads whose caravans linked the Middle Kingdom, via trade, to multiple lands of Islam – from Indonesia to Turkey and from Iran to Pakistan.

Before the 16th century, the main line of communication across Eurasia was not maritime, but the chain of steppes and deserts from Sahara to Mongolia, as Arnold Toynbee wonderfully observed. Walking the line we would find merchants, missionaries, travelers, scholars, all the way to Turko-Mongols from Central Asia migrating to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. They all formed the stuff of interconnection and cultural exchange between Europe and Asia – way beyond geographical discontinuity.

Arguably Erdogan is now able to read the new tea leaves. The Russia-China strategic partnership – directly involved in linking Belt and Road with the Eurasia Economic Union and also the International North-South Transportation Corridor – considers Turkey and Iran as absolutely indispensable key hubs for the ongoing, multi-layered Eurasia integration process.

A new Turkey-Iran-Qatar geopolitical and economic axis is slowly but surely evolving in Southwest Asia, ever more linked to Russia-China. The thrust is Eurasia integration, visible for instance via a frenzy of railroad building designed to link the New Silk Roads, and the Russia-Iran transportation corridor, to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea and, eastwards, the Iran-Pakistan corridor to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, one of Belt and Road’s highlights.

This is all being supported by interlocking transportation cooperation agreements involving Turkey-Iran-Qatar and Iran-Iraq-Syria.

The end result not only consolidates Iran as a key Belt and Road connectivity hub and China’s strategic partner, but also by contiguity Turkey – the bridge to Europe.

As Xinjiang is the key hub in Western China connecting to multiple Belt and Road corridors, Erdogan had to find a middle ground – in the process minimizing, to a great extent, waves of disinformation and Western-peddled Sinophobia. Applying Xi Jinping thought, one would say Erdogan opted for privileging cultural understanding and people-to-people exchanges over an ideological battle.

The flags of China and Turkey flutter in Beijing during Erdogan’s visit to China on July 2. Photo: Wang Xin/ ImagineChina / AFP

Ready to mediate

In conjunction with his success at the court of the Dragon King, Erdogan now feels emboldened enough to offer his services as mediator between Tehran and the Trump administration – picking up on a suggestion he made to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G20.

Erdogan would not have made that offer if it had not been discussed previously with Russia and China – which, crucially, are member signatories of the Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA).

It’s easy to see how Russia and China should consider Turkey the perfect mediator: a neighbor of Iran, the proverbial bridge between East and West, and a NATO member. Turkey is certainly much more representative than the EU-3 (France, UK, Germany).

Trump seems to want – or at least gives the impression of imposing – a JCPOA 2.0, without an Obama signature. The Russia-China partnership could easily call his bluff, after clearing it with Tehran, by offering a new negotiating table including Turkey. Even if the ineffective – in every sense – EU-3 remained, there would be real counterbalance in the form of Russia, China and Turkey.

Out of all these important moves in the geopolitical chessboard, one motivation stands out among top players: Eurasian integration cannot significantly progress without challenging the Trumpian sanction obsession.

Published:7/15/2019 11:13:06 PM
[In The News] Obama Officials: Trump Hasn’t Delayed Tubman $20 Bill

By Kyle Hooten -

President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have not delayed roll-out of the Harriet Tubman $20 bill, say Obama-era officials. Multiple government officials appointed by President Barack Obama, including the current and former director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), have confirmed that Trump has not delayed ...

Obama Officials: Trump Hasn’t Delayed Tubman $20 Bill 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:7/15/2019 5:32:31 PM
[Politics] Biden: If You Like Your Health Care Plan, You Can Keep It

Former Vice President Joe Biden repeated one of his old boss's most infamous pledges on Monday, saying under his proposal, "if you like your health care plan ... you can keep it."

The post Biden: If You Like Your Health Care Plan, You Can Keep It appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/15/2019 5:05:18 PM
[Markets] US Grants Visa To Iran FM But Movements Near UN Building "Sharply Curtailed"

An opening that could cool tensions? Or just a brief pause in the continued build-up to a near-future war? On Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech he's ready to hold talks with the United States if it lifts sanctions and returns to its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal. “We have always believed in talks... if they lift sanctions, end the imposed economic pressure and return to the deal, we are ready to hold talks with America today, right now and anywhere,” Rouhani said.

However, in an interview following the overture, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed it as “the same offer that he offered to John F. Kerry and Barack Obama.” Pompeo concluded, “President Trump will obviously make the final decision. But this is a path that the previous administration had gone down and it led to the (Iran nuclear deal) which this administration, President Trump and I both believe was a disaster.”

Pompeo also said during the Sunday night interview that the US has granted a visa to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif — who just earlier this month was reportedly the focus of potential US sanctions alongside top IRGC commanders and officials — but that his movements would be greatly limited and "sharply curtailed"

File image: Iranian FM Zarif at the UN. 

“U.S. diplomats don’t roam around Tehran, so we don’t see any reason for Iranian diplomats to roam freely around New York City, either,” Pompeo said.

“It’s absolutely appropriate that we provide Foreign Minister Zarif and his delegation with all the rights that they are due under the U.N. headquarters agreement, and nothing more than that,” he said further.

According to The Washington Post:

Pompeo said in a telephone interview that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his delegation will be permitted to travel between U.N. headquarters and the Iranian mission six blocks away, and to the residence of Iran’s U.N. ambassador nearby. The group arrived in New York on Sunday morning.

The "restricted" travel and movement regimen comes after President Trump said last week that sanctions on Iran would soon increase "substantially". 

UN headquarters building in New York. Image source: CBS

This despite European signatories to the 2015 JCPOA France, Britain and Germany urging an immediate resumption of dialogue, citing fears the nuclear pact is on the brink of falling apart. 

“We believe that the time has come to act responsibly and to look for ways to stop the escalation of tension and resume dialogue,” the heads of state of the three countries said in a joint statement.

Published:7/15/2019 5:05:18 PM
[Politics] Former Obama Officials Admit Trump Admin Didn’t Delay Tubman $20 Bill

Despite numerous liberal politicians and pundits excoriating the Trump administration for delaying the Harriet Tubman $20 bill, former Obama administration officials recently revealed there was no actual delay.

The post Former Obama Officials Admit Trump Admin Didn’t Delay Tubman $20 Bill appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/15/2019 2:02:42 PM
[Media] Wait, so it wasn’t RACISM?! Get OUTTA here! Another Lefty narrative FALLS APART after Obama admin comes clean

Trump is SOOOOOO racist he’s trying to get in the way of putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. That monster! Look, even Charlotte Clymer was calling the orange man out back in May. Make no mistake: the decision to cancel the unveiling of Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill is purely to pander to […]

The post Wait, so it wasn’t RACISM?! Get OUTTA here! Another Lefty narrative FALLS APART after Obama admin comes clean appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:7/15/2019 1:34:53 PM
[Media] Media Caught Lying that Trump Administration Stalling New Harriet Tubman $20 Bill

The following article, Media Caught Lying that Trump Administration Stalling New Harriet Tubman $20 Bill, was first published on Godfather Politics.

One of the left media’s recent attacks on President Donald Trump is that he is a racist for stalling the changeover of the $20 bill from a photo of President Andrew Jackson to a photo of famed former slave Harriet Tubman. But now, even an Obama operative is calling that attack fake news. Just last ...

Continue reading: Media Caught Lying that Trump Administration Stalling New Harriet Tubman $20 Bill ...

Published:7/15/2019 11:34:24 AM
[Uncategorized] Obama-Era DHS Officials Implore Democrats to Pull Back from Border Decriminalization Positions Even Obama-era Democratic officials are calling out the left's position on border decriminalization for what it is: open borders. Published:7/15/2019 10:05:20 AM
[Markets] Turkey's Erdogan Vows To "Significantly" Cut Rates As Trump Set To Roll Out Sanctions Over S-400 Purchase

Lately not a week passes without some dismal news involving Turkey hitting the tape, and yet the lira continues to levitate, blissfully ignorant of the storm clouds headed for Ankara, levitating on hopes the Fed will cut rates and sprinkle golden showers on emerging markets. However, in light of the two latest developments, the Mrs Watanabe sellers of USDTRY may finally pay attention.

On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - who last weekend fired the head of the central bank for not cutting rates fast enough, and who has now become the de facto head of the CBRT - promised "significantly lower interest rates by the end of the year", Bloomberg reported.

“We aim to reduce inflation to one digit by the end of this year,” Erdogan told journalists in Istanbul, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. “As we achieve this, we will achieve our year-end interest rate target as well." Of course, should interest rates drop to one digit, the USDTRY will promptly collapse to two, as the rate differential between the lira and the dollar collapses, removing the main incentive to go long the lira at a time when the Turkish economy remains in crisis.

Having founded the economic school of Erdoganomics, according to which inflation can be achieved only by lowering rates, the Turkish president and his US counterpart have quickly become kindered spirits when it comes to monetary policy. And just as Trump heaps pressure and insults on Fed Chair Powell, Erdogan has frequently accused the central bank of keeping borrowing costs too high. Last month, he complained that while the Fed was moving toward a rate cut, Turkey’s policy rate of 24% “is unacceptable.”

Then, the last trace of any pretense that Turkey under Erdogan will forever be a banana republic came on July 6, when Erdogan unexpectedly dismissed the former central bank head, Murat Cetinkaya and made it clear that he expects his replacement as central bank governor to follow the government’s line on monetary policy. Cetinkaya had held rates steady for more than nine months.

Meanwhile, even as Trump and Erdo may be BFFs when it comes to firing head of central banks, the US president and his advisors have reportedly settled on a sanctions package to punish Turkey for receiving parts of a Russian S-400 missile defense system and plans to announce it in the coming days, Bloomberg wrote in a separate report.

News of the imminent sanctions was somewhat unexpectedly considering that when Trump and Erdogan met at the G-20 summit in Japan in June, the U.S. president suggested possible leniency on sanctions. He sought to blame the Obama administration for Turkey’s decision to buy the Russian equipment, saying the impasse is “not really Erdogan’s fault.”

According to Bloomberg, the administration "chose one of three sets of actions devised to inflict varying degrees of pain under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, the people said, without identifying which set had been chosen. The plan needs Trump’s approval."

Russian Il-76, carrying the first batch of equipment of S-400 missile defense system, arrives at Murted Air Base in Ankara, Turkey on July 12, 2019.

Trump is said to unveil the sanctions late next week, and - in an unexpected act of courtesy to Ankara - intends to wait until after Monday’s anniversary of a 2016 coup attempt against Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to avoid fueling further speculation that the U.S. was responsible for the uprising. And while we don't know the details of the prepared sanctions, we know the following:

The plan was developed after days of discussions between officials at the State and Defense departments and the National Security Council. It awaits a sign-off by Trump and his top advisers, the people said, requesting anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. A State Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

While not nearly as bad as that with other non-Saudi middle-eastern nations, the relationship between the U.S. and Turkey has deteriorated over the course of the civil war in Syria, where U.S. backing for Kurdish militants frustrated Turkey, which considers the group an extension of the separatists it’s fighting at home. Erdogan has also criticized the US for not extraditing Gulen, whom he accuses of masterminding the fake attempted "coup" the served as the launchpad for Erdogan's transformation to an "executive president" last year, read quasi dictator.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday that Washington’s position that Turkey can’t have both the F-35 and the Russian missile system “has not changed.” Esper spoke with Defense Minister Hulusi Akar in the afternoon, and the Turkish government said in a statement that a U.S. delegation would visit next week to keep discussing the issue.

Published:7/14/2019 10:27:43 PM
[Markets] Huawei Planning "Extensive" US Layoffs

Huawei Technologies Co. is expected to slash hundreds of jobs at a US-based R&D subsidiary, according to the Wall Street Journal

The 'extensive' layoffs will affect workers at Futurewei Technologies, which employes around 850 people at labs across the country, including California, Texas and Washington State. 

The exact number of layoffs couldn't be determined, but one of the people said they were expected to be in the hundreds. Some of Huawei’s Chinese employees in the U.S. were being given the option of returning home and staying with the company, another person said. -Wall Street Journal

Following the May 16 decision by the Commerce Department to place Huawei on its so-called 'entity list,' which blocks companies from supplying US-sourced technology to Huawei without a license, Futurewei employees have faced difficulties communicating with their China-based colleagues. The company employs over 180,000 people worldwide. 

Huawei has been virtually unable to buy critical US components and software for its telecommunications products - including smartphones and cellular base stations which are sold worldwide. Last year alone the company bought $11 billion worth of US tech. It is the largest maker of telecommunications equipment in the world, and the #2 vendor of smartphones - ahead of Apple but behind Samsung.

Analysts say the entity listing poses the most serious threat to Huawei given its reliance on American chips and other technology. Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said last month that the measure would cost Huawei $30 billion in lost revenue this year and next. And the company’s international smartphone sales fell 40% in the month after the blacklisting was announced, though the decline has since moderated. Huawei had more than $100 billion in revenue last year, according to its annual report. -Wall Street Journal

Under the Commerce Department's entity listing, "any unlicensed transfer of any technology of any sort by anyone from the U.S. to Huawei is prohibited" according to Obama-era Commerce Department official Kevin Wolf. 

Meanwhile, Huawei is also battling a pair of US indictments on charges related to the theft of Intellectual Property (IP) as well as violations of US sanctions on Iran. 

That said, while US officials have been lobbying global allies to similarly blacklist Huawei, it appears that the Trump administration may relax some of the restrictions in order to move trade negotiations forward with Beijing. 

A reprieve for Huawei appeared to be in sight after President Trump said at the Group of 20 summit at Osaka, Japan, last month that he would allow some tech exports to the company to resume. Beijing sees an easing of restrictions on Huawei as a precondition for any trade deal with Washington.

On Tuesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. would begin granting export licenses to Huawei suppliers whose sales to the Chinese company don’t put national security at risk. Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been urging U.S. suppliers to apply for licenses. -Wall Street Journal

The United States claims that Huawei and its widely used technologies could easily be used by the Chinese government for espionage. The company has pushed back on the claim, insisting that it is an independent company with no government ties. 

Last week, journalist and Asia expert Isaac Stone Fish wrote in Washington Post Op-Ed hat more than one Huawei executive have direct ties to the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Huawei writes on its website. “Ren joined the People’s Liberation Army Engineering Corps in 1974 and retired nine years later in 1983.” It omits Huawei’s many other links to the PLA, such as how the company built the PLA’s first nationwide communications network in the late 1990s.

...

Consider chief legal officer Song Liuping, who has emerged as the defender of Huawei’s innocence in both the U.S. legal system ... a search in Chinese-language media reveals that Song received his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD from the People’s Liberation Army National University of Defense Science and Technology.

...

Song is not the only top official with undisclosed ties to the PLA. Huawei’s website lists the company’s chairman, Liang Hua, as having received his doctorate from the school now known as the Wuhan University of Technology. Liang received his bachelor’s and master’s from the Chinese military research institute the Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU)according to an article on that university’s website. That website also shows that Yu Chengdong, the chief executive of one of Huawei’s three business units, Huawei Consumer BG, received his bachelor’s from NPU...

...

imagine the outcry if Google’s Eric Schmidt had received his bachelor’s from West Point but hid that in his bio, or if Google declined to admit that it had ever worked with the Pentagon? -WaPo

Huawei has also fended off claims that the Chinese government has a financial interest in the company. In April, a report from Fullbright University Vietnam and George Washington Law School titled "Who Owns Huawei" suggests "Regardless of who, in a practical sense, owns and controls Huawei, it is clear that the employees do not."

In response, Huawei held a press conference in which Chief Secretary of the Board of Directors, Jiang Xisheng, said "Most of what the US government says is not true," adding "Regarding this point, we have responded many times. Though it is not under my charge, one thing is for sure – there is no government capital in Huawei." 

Published:7/14/2019 5:58:47 PM
[American Action Forum] Real Estate Developers’ Plea to Trump: Don’t Roll Out New EB-5 Regulation The Obama administration left behind a regulatory reform to something called the EB-5 investor visa program that will end up sabotaging foreign investment in U.S. big city infrastructure projects. Published:7/14/2019 9:56:14 AM
[Markets] ICE Raids Begin In New York As Feds Ramp Up Random Roundups

At least two immigration raids were conducted in New York neighborhoods on Saturday, just one day after President Trump said Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would begin a nationwide roundup of people living illegally in the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal

Federal ICE agents canvased homes in the Harlem section of Manhattan as well a Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood according to the Journal's source - who added that despite being turned away by many for lack of a warrant, the agency plans to return to Sunset Park tomorrow. 

A spokeswoman for ICE in New York said that the agency won’t offer specific details related to enforcement operations. “As always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” the spokeswoman said.

The attempted raids in New York come as Democratic city officials and community activists across the U.S. have been mobilizing for the planned roundup. -Wall Street Journal

This marks the second time plans for ICE raids have been leaked - the first of which has been blamed on Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and resulted in the cancellation of the planned raids. 

"They’re going to take people out and they’re going to bring them back to their countries" said Trump on Friday, adding that the raids would focus on criminals - and that agents would "take criminals out, put them in prison, or put in them in prison in the countries they came from."

The White House did not confirm the raids, but noted that there are more than one million people living in America illegally and in violation of court-ordered deportations

"It is time for these people to go home," said one administration official, who added that the roundups aren't new - and in fact occurred during the Obama administration. 

ICE officials announced Friday that they had concluded a weeklong operation in San Diego County that yielded arrests of 20 people. Most were sought on deportation orders and criminal convictions, but seven were picked up on immigration violations—the kind of “collateral” deportations that one administration official said would be included in the operation Sunday.

The raids are set to begin in 10 cities—many which have designated themselves as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants—Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York and San Francisco, said officials of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, a Texas-based nonprofit. Protests were held in many of the cities Friday and Saturday. -Wall Street Journal

Pro-illegal-immigrant groups have vowed to protect undocumented residents who they say fled violent countries and face possible harm if they are returned. 

"This craven action may motivate his political base, but it does nothing to make us safer and only leaves migrants at further risk of abuse, disease, and death," said Vanita Gupta, chief executive officer of the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights coalition. 

Meanwhile, officials in various cities have been actively trying to help illegal immigrants avoid the feds. "In New York, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance encouraged undocumented New Yorkers to use free legal resources being made available throughout the weekend by the city. Mayor London Breed and other San Francisco officials offered help, including through a hotline to report raids," writes the Journal

Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot increased the city's legal defense fund allocation for immigrants. 

Published:7/14/2019 8:54:23 AM
[Markets] Warring Libyan Factions Build Armies Of Foreign Agents In Washington

Authored by Reid Champlin via OpenSecrets.org

The Libyan civil war rages well into its eighth year as warlord Khalifa Haftar lays siege to Tripoli, the nation’s capital and seat of the United Nations-backed government. 

Haftar’s attack has escalated the violence that has plagued the country since the downfall of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 Arab Spring. Haftar’s Libyan National Army, which controls over two-thirds of the nation’s territory, stands accused of dozens of war crimes, including a deadly airstrike on a Tripoli migrant detention center, as many nations around the world shift allegiancestoward the warlord and away from the U.N.-backed government.

Almost 5,000 miles away in Washington, the battle rages on a different front: Both the Libyan government and the rebels have inked multi-million dollar deals with prominent D.C. lobbyists as they aim to win the backing of American policymakers.

Rebel leader Khalifa Haftar attending the Conference for Libya in Palermo, Italy. Image source: Tullio Puglia/Getty Images

Left scrambling after Haftar’s attack, Mercury Public Affairs and Prime Policy Group added at least 17 foreign agents to foreign influence operations for the Libyan government since early May. The hires include former Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.), a longtime stalwart on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and vice chairman of Prime Policy Group, and Edward Cox, former senior policy advisor to retired Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). 

The government agreed to pay Mercury $2 million annually in retaining their services. Prime Policy Group, on the other hand, says it made a verbal agreement to work on a pro-bono basis.

“A unified, democratic Libya is in the best interest of Libyans and furthers the security goals of the United States,” the organization said in a press release.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army has contracted five foreign agents and operatives at Linden Government Solutions, a Texas firm headed by former Bush administration official Stephen Payne. The arrangement, first reported by the AP, will officially include meetings with U.S. officials, “international coalition building and general public relations.”

Payne has an extensive history with the troubled North African nation. He visited in 2011 with former Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Penn.) before the fall of Gaddafi, helping to negotiate the release of three imprisoned journalists. At the same time, he was bankrolling Weldon’s visit in hopes the former congressman could convince Gaddafi to step down. Payne has close ties to three of Gaddafi’s sons.

The one-year deal with Linden is worth about $2 million. While not explicitly mentioned in the contract, both parties may have an interest in Libyan’s abundant oil, as Payne and legal counsel Brian Ettinger have deep ties in international energy markets and Haftar recently gained control of El Sharara, Libya’s largest oil field.

The Obama administration fervently backed the Government of National Accord, saying America’s partnership with the government “is in America’s national security interest in our fight against ISIL.” While the U.S. and other major powers have nominally pledged support for Tripoli’s Government of National Accord for years, Haftar’s military success has made many reconsider where their allegiances lie

The Trump administration appears to be divided on which side to support, with the president reportedly praising the warlord for his victories against Islamist groups and encouraging the Libyan National Army’s march on Tripoli in an April phone call. National Security Advisor John Bolton also encouraged Haftar’s attack, according to diplomatic sources.

The White House’s support for Haftar clashes with the State Department’s official position, which is still in favor of the Libyan government. On April 7, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Haftar’s attack and urged both sides to pursue a diplomatic solution.

“We have made clear that we oppose the military offensive by Khalifa Haftar’s forces and urge the immediate halt to these military operations against the Libyan capital,” Pompeo said in a statement at the time.  

But in mid-April, the U.S. refused to support a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a nationwide ceasefire, joining Russia, a Haftar ally, in defeating the resolution. The U.S. did not provide a reason for the refusal.

Trump’s sudden favor for Haftar was reportedly the result of intense pressure from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al SisiSaudi Arabia and Egypt, alongside the United Arab Emirates and Russia, are backing Haftar and the Libyan National Army.

France has also covertly supported Haftar, with news breaking Wednesday that anti-tank missiles recovered at a Libyan National Army base belong to French special forces working in the region. The nation has significant oil investments in Libya that are now under the control of Haftar.

Haftar has been a power player in Libya since 1969, when, as a young army officer, he took part in Gaddafi’s coup against the Libyan monarchy.  He was named one of Gaddafi’s top military advisers shortly thereafter.

Haftar turned against Gaddafi after the dictator disavowed his sanctioned military excursion into neighboring Chad. He joined the CIA-backed opposition group National Front for the Salvation of Libya before fleeing the country following a failed coup attempt in 1996.

Haftar spent the next 20 years living in northern Virginia, with some suspecting that his proximity to the CIA, which organized numerous assassination attempts against Gaddafi, indicated an ongoing relationship. He continues to hold American citizenship.

Haftar returned to Libya in 2014 and quietly formed an army to oppose the Islamist militias scattered throughout the war-torn nation, gaining the support of the newly-formed Libyan House of Representatives. 

In 2015, he became commander of the Libyan National Army, which later split into two factions: one in support of the House of Representatives government based in the eastern city of Tobruk and the other, the Libyan Army, in support of the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord.

Haftar’s forces played a major role in weakening ISIL and other extremists, retaking the major cities of Benghazi in 2017 and Derna in 2018. Now, Haftar’s forces are aiming at sweeping the Government of National Accord out of power for good by taking Tripoli.

More than 1,000 people have died since Haftar launched the Tripoli offensive in April. The U.N. Security Council has reiterated its calls for a diplomatic solution amidst the escalating violence.

Published:7/14/2019 7:29:54 AM
[Markets] EU At The Crossroads: Integration Or Disintegration

Submitted and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

While the European Union is theoretically the world’s biggest economy using the world’s second most popular currency in international transactions, it remains to be seen whether in the future it will evolve into a genuine component of a multi-polar international system or become a satellite in someone else’s—most likely US—orbit. There still remain many obstacles toward achieving a certain “critical mass” of power and unity. While individual EU member states, most notably Germany and France, are capable of independent action in the international system, individually they are too weak to influence the actions of the United States or China or even Russia. In the past, individual European powers relied on overseas colonial empires to achieve great power status. In the 21st century, European greatness can only be achieved through eliminating not just economic but also political barriers on the continent. At present, European leaders are presented with both incentives and obstacles to such integration, though one may readily discern a number of potential future paths toward future integration.

United Europe or Fourth Reich?

The greatest obstacle toward further European integration is the dominant position of Germany within the Union, and it remains to be seen whether a unified German state is compatible with a united Europe. The most recent two attempts to establish a pan-European empire were done by the dominant European actors at the time, namely France in the early 19th century and Germany in the early 20th, and failed because the imposition of rules beneficial to the hegemon provoked resistance—though going to war with Russia in both cases proved to be the fatal mistake.

Today, Germany once again dominates the continent, though it does so using a velvet glove of the Eurozone and the European Central Bank rather than the iron fist of the Wehrmacht. While the German media are full of self-serving praise of their country’s economic prowess, it is unlikely in the extreme German economy would be enjoying export successes had its key trading partners, namely other European countries, not been prevented from engaging in self-defensive economic measures such as devaluations by the existence of the single currency. Consequently there is a strong anti-German sentiment within the EU which provides much of the fuel to the Euroskeptics. After all, many of the unpopular EU policies, starting with fiscal austerity, are backed by Germany whose economy benefits from a strong, low-inflation Euro.

Moreover, the current crop of German leaders, starting with Angela Merkel herself, view themselves as Germans first and Europeans second. Angela Merkel  is an “alumna” of the German Democratic Republic where she never experienced European integration, and where revanchist nationalist sentiments re-emerged after reunification. Her political success had a lot to do with her desire to quietly promote “Germany First” policies under the guise of European integration. But what is good for a German is lethal to a European. If European integration is to have a future, it will have to start with an attitude change in Berlin. Fortunately, there are a number of factors encouraging Germany’s leaders to do so.

The US Factor

Aside from the contradictions inherent in the EU’s economic and political structures, the greatest threat to the European Union emanates from the least anticipated direction: the United States of America. At no point did European leaders, with possible exception of Charles de Gaulle, consider the European project as a challenge to the US power. Rather, they viewed United States as a benevolent hegemon without whose good offices European integration or, for that matter, postwar reconstruction, would not be possible. They also never considered the possibility the United States might change its own attitude toward Europe, which it viewed as a comfortable political backwater permanently in America’s shadow, a quaint theme park of cheeses, chocolates, wines, and luxury automobiles, but not a challenger or even a rival to the US.

When the era of post-Cold War globalization began, United States still behaved in a benign and condescending manner toward potential rivals. It was still the Ronald Reagan’s self-confident “Morning in America” superpower. The 1970s stagflation and Jimmy Carter’s sense of “malaise” were a distant memory, it has just seen off the USSR as a political and military rival and Japan as an economic one, so what could possibly go wrong? Who could ever question America’s military, economic, and scientific supremacy? Russia was in the throes of severe crisis which was sure, according to most US pundits’ predictions, to render it a US satellite, China was only beginning its economic transformation, and the EU was still in America’s shadow.

It may have remained this way indefinitely had America’s political economy remained inherently viable and sustainable. Four decades of neoliberal reforms, alas, greatly sapped the strength of America’s middle class whose buying power was the backbone of the US economy as well as that of many economies around the world. But as US consumers’ purchasing power has waned, successive US administrations try to preserve the illusion of prosperity by expanding consumer credit and promoting policies leading to massive asset “bubbles” of a magnitude not seen since 1929 in the hopes of creating a “wealth effect” to keep Americans spending. After two financial crashes and faced with the prospect of a third, inflated during the Obama Administration, the Trump Administration decided Americans’ prosperity would be preserved by destroying economic competitors. Russia, a major exporter of natural gas and oil, was the first to be targeted in order to reduce its share of the global market by the Obama Administration. Economic warfare against China followed a few years later, and the next targets on the list are America’s “allies” running major trade surpluses with the United States such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the countries of the EU.

The Mental Barrier

Europe has to decide for itself whether it is mentally prepared for a confrontation with the United States. So far there are nearly no indications it has the ability. Irrespective of US tariffs (de-facto sanctions) on European steel and aluminum, the ban on dealings with Iran following the peremptory US withdrawal from the JCPOA to which the EU was a party, the looming sanctions against North Stream 2, the demands to spend more on US weapons and desist from developing an independent European security and foreign policy identity, the pressure to ban Huawei, and the likely tariffs on car imports from Europe, EU officials are still treating it as a big misunderstanding. Or, at most, as a product of Trump’s generally erratic personality, forgetting these policies are being both initiated and implemented by an army of bureaucrats left over from the Obama Administration. Few things testify to the level of self-delusion than Angela Merkel, whose personal cell phone was listened to by the NSA and whose North Stream 2 pipeline to Russia is facing the threat of US sanctions against German entities engaged in its construction and maintenance, and Turkey, which is facing similar US pressure, drop its plans to procure the S-400 air defense system from Russia.

On the other hand, the increasingly harsh US treatment of its allies is helping Europe overcome that mental barrier. Even Merkel was forced to conclude that the United States could no longer be trusted and that Europe would have to forge its own path. Much depends on what the post-Trump US foreign and trade policies will look like, but there are few indicators Washington is willing to end to the new cold war against China and Russia. After all, the original Cold War created the huge US national security bureaucracy and defense industry which form an irresistible pro-conflict lobby. But if the US persists on that path, the heavy-handed treatment of the EU will persist as well, since the US will need to bend Europe to its will in order to improve its chances in the conflict against the great powers of the East.

Eurasia Calling

While the attraction of Atlanticist orientation is fading, the attraction of a Eurasian one is increasing thanks to the growth of China and Russia and their more restrained foreign policies. Most European countries, particularly Germany and even France, have resisted US pressure to blacklist China’s Huawei. While Emmanuel Macron dismissed US national security threat claims by labeling Huawei a commercial entity that can be regulated using normal industrial standards, his statements should be taken in context of European experts sounding alarm at the “digital colonization” of Europe by US high tech firms. That vulnerability can be offset by cultivating alternatives in the event the US-EU conflict escalates.

By the same token, Germany has been steadfast in its insistence on the construction of North Stream 2 and has managed to obtain France’s support for the venture. Europe’s independence of the United States is taking the form of expanding ties with countries the US views as adversaries. Moreover, it does not hurt that both Russia and China prefer to see the EU as an independent actor, capable of developing its own foreign policy and defending own interests. While the United States has been promoting  the idea of the “Russian threat”, in practice very few politicians in Western Europe seem to believe such a threat exists, and the absence of that threat also facilitates Europe’s distancing itself from the US.

Fewer, but better, Europeans?

At the same time, the importance of the “Russian threat” cannot be dismissed. The North Stream 2, in particular, became a litmus test on pro-Eurasian vs. pro-Atlanticist attitudes, with the Atlanticists holding sway in countries like Sweden, Poland, Baltic States. But even here it is not clear whether the Swedish or Polish politicians believe Russia is planning to invade or whether they are cynically using the “Russian treat” card to obtain US support against Germany in their intra-EU power struggles. Worse, the political fault line demonstrated by the North Stream 2 debate is only one of many running through the EU which cannot achieve greater unity unless it deals with them in one of two ways: forcing peripheral EU countries to toe the line, or, more plausibly, by the “core” EU countries turning inward and developing new institutions without the participation of the more recalcitrant members.

One of the quotes attributed to Joseph Stalin, in the context of the 1930s-era purges of the Communist Party was that, in the future, there would be “fewer, but better, Communists.” Whether or not this quote is apocryphal, it describes the dilemma the European Union is facing. The expansion of the common market was beneficial to the core countries of the EU since it gave them privileged access to the “emerging markets” of Eastern Europe. On the debit side, the presence of less competitive eastern and southern European economies within the EU (and, in the case of Greece and Spain, even within the Eurozone) has spawned problems preventing the EU from continuing its integration. Open borders between poor and rich countries meant flows of economic migrants from the former to the latter. The presence of economic migrants has made itself felt in European politics on several occasions, fanning anti-EU sentiments. Thus the so-called “EU Constitution” failed after it was rejected by French voters following a publicity campaign about the dangers of “Polish plumbers”, and likewise the Brexit movement has drawn support from those segments of the UK’s population who find themselves competing for jobs with Eastern Europe’s economic migrants. At the elite level, the evolution of the EU into a patchwork quilt of countries representing a far wider range of economic development has meant bifurcation of the EU into “permanent donors” and “permanent recipients” of EU funding. The prospect of ad infinitum subsidizing states which do little more than send economic migrants as a sign of thanks no longer sits well with Western European polities. While the Euroskeptic parties still remain in the minority, their improved showing in recent elections meant that even the mainstream parties are embracing parts of their agendas such as curbs on migration and reductions in the so-called solidarity spending that was intended to blunt the effects of globalization and Eurointegration on the less well developed economies. Brexit would deliver a further blow to these adjustment funds, since Great Britain has been one of the major “donors” to the EU’s common budget.

How the drying up of the EU’s largesse to the less prosperous states will affect EU’s integrity remains to be seen, but it is bound to test pro-Europe sentiments. Since their accession to the EU, the rival political parties in the “EU funding sponge” countries have sought to outdo one another in describing themselves as the more effective magnets for EU funds. Reducing access to these funds will damage their political standing. Consequently, there is a revival of interest in reparations claims against Germany in countries like Greece and Poland for damage wrought by the German occupation during World War 2. This suggests a certain level of desperation as well as of conditionality of Eastern Europe’s commitment to the EU.

Two-Speed Europe

One should expect an effort to solidify the EU “core” even if it means loosening the ties connecting the poorer EU states to the “core”. US experience may serve as a guide, since it represents a relatively successful effort at economic and political integration. The success of the US approach is due to its integration went “deep” before it went “wide”. The US Constitution was ratified only by the 13 original states. The adoption of the US Constitution meant that individual states ceded their sovereignty to the federal government through the Commerce and Supremacy clauses. When territories applied to join the Union, they had to adapt themselves to the demands of the US Constitution wholesale. By contrast, the European Union went “wide” in seeking to attract as many members as possible, then made feeble attempts to go “deep”. So far these attempts have been unsuccessful and there is no reason to expect they will succeed in the future.

In its  current form, the European Union is not even as well integrated as the US was under the unworkable Articles of Confederation, yet it has accepted a far larger number of states that are considerably more heterogeneous in terms of their population size, economic development level, and not to mention the sheer linguistic and cultural diversity, while allowing each member-state to partake of only as much of the Union as they see fit at the moment. It’s as if individual US states had the ability to decide whether the Commerce or Full Faith and Credit clause should apply to them, or even whether or not to use the US dollar as their sole legal tender.

Continued European integration would demand an agreement on how to transfer national sovereignty to some as yet undefined and untested set of European political institutions that would not only guarantee individual rights but, more importantly from the point of view of national elites, preserve the relative influence of individual EU member states even after they gave up their sovereignty. Even if the Euroskeptics were not such a powerful presence in EU’s politics, it would still be an insurmountable task for even the most visionary and driven group of political leaders. Such a leap is only possible if the number of EU states making it is small, and their level of mutual integration is already high.

The post-2008 Eurozone crisis does appear to have communicated the unsustainability of the current EU integration approach, hence the recent appearance of “two-speeds Europe” concept which actually originated as a warning against the threat of EU bifurcation into well integrated “core “ and a less integrated “periphery”. In practical terms it would mean “core” countries definitely including Germany and France and possibly Benelux, would abandon the current policy of throwing money at the less well developed EU member states and instead focus on forging “a more perfect Union” consisting of this far more homogeneous and smaller set of countries occupying territories that, over a thousand years ago, formed what used to be known the Carolingian Empire. Like the US territories in the 19th century, EU states outside of the core would have to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” to earn membership in the core, which would require them to wholesale adopt the core’s political institutions.

The Clarifying Event

At the moment, of course, neither EU’s collapse or further integration in full or truncated form appear likely. As it has done for the past several decades, the European project continues to muddle through by adopting policies just good enough to cope with whatever crisis has just appeared. But what if the next economic crisis approaches the pain levels inflicted by the Great Depression of the 1930s? An event of this magnitude could not be effectively dealt with using half-measures the European Union is so fond of. It would pose the Union with a stark choice of integration, even in truncated form, or collapse into constituent states and becoming an arena for struggle among the real major powers of the day. Certainly there are enough politicians in Germany and France, and even in smaller European countries, who remember a time their countries or at any rate the continent as a whole ruled the world. If that choice ever has to be made by Europe’s leaders, one should not automatically assume the seemingly decaying Old World would not rediscover its “will to power” yet again.

Published:7/14/2019 6:26:13 AM
[US News] HEY DEMS! Watch this clip of Jeh Johnson and tell us why President Obama’s DHS chief is WRONG on immigration

Here’s Obama-era DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson throwing ice-cold water on Dems who are freaking out about this weekend’s ICE raids to arrest illegal immigrants with valid deportation orders: Obama DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has repeatedly broken with the Democratic party line on enforcing immigration law. 'We simply have to enforce the law, particularly if someone […]

The post HEY DEMS! Watch this clip of Jeh Johnson and tell us why President Obama’s DHS chief is WRONG on immigration appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:7/13/2019 7:28:22 AM
[Politics] OOPS! PA’s Second Lady, who used to be illegal, accidentally destroys liberal narrative on ICE raids! So this is bizarre. Did ya’ll know that Pennsylvania’s Second Lady, the wife of the Lieutenant Governer, used to be an illegal alien?! And she got DACA amnesty from Obama?!? You DID? . . . Published:7/12/2019 7:47:16 PM
[Markets] Banning Firearm Sound Suppressors Will Have No Effect On Homicide Rates

Authored by José Niño  via The Mises Institute,

In the aftermath of the Virginia Beach shooting, the usual gun control debate has come back into the national conversation.

The shooting, which witnessed a disgruntled public employee, DeWayne Craddock, kill 12 people at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center was odd in certain respects. Apart from taking place in another gun-free zone, the shooter acquired his firearms legally and also used a handgun with a suppressor.

The use of a suppressor in this shooting made the media go wild. Certain Democratic officials like New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez immediately called for a ban on these accessories. Even President Donald Trump said, “I don’t like them at all,” when asked about what to do about suppressors.

Indeed, the media have gone on a massive misinformation campaign labeling suppressors as “silencers,” but these devices do not completely silence guns whatsoever. These ill-informed opinions are more likely to come from what journalists have seen in Call of Duty videogames or Hollywood movies. In an article for the Washington Post, gun violence researcher John Lott highlights what the sound suppressing capacities of suppressors actually entail:

The .45 caliber handgun used in the Virginia Beach attack creates sounds that measure at 158 decibels. The average suppressor reduces the sound by around 30 decibels. But 128 decibels is still very high — virtually the same as peak crowd noise in a stadium. If you use a suppressor in conjunction with earmuffs, you can get the sound down to about 100 decibels, which is about as loud as an average motorcycle.

Furthermore, these accessories can’t be acquired by law-abiding individuals with ease. For starters, suppressors are already heavily regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934. To acquire this accessory, the government imposes a $200 fee. As of early 2017, approximately 1.3 million Americans were already registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) as suppressor owners.

From a crime frequency standpoint, crimes that involved firearms equipped with suppressors are statistically insignificant in the country. Lott’s research in the previous article also debunks this:

These legal owners have been extremely law abiding. In the 10 years from 2008 through 2017, the BATF only recommended an average of 44 suppressor-related prosecutions per year. This means that roughly .003 percent of “silencers” are used in crimes each year.

Calls for tightened regulation of suppressors or even bans will do nothing to stop acts of gun violence. Not only that, the forgotten men in a potential suppressor ban scenario are the gun owners with hearing problems. Suppressors aren’t designed for Bond villains who want to pick off people in the shadows. They help certain segments of the gun community with acute hearing problems. Although suppressors don’t completely silence firearms, they do an adequate job in reducing shooters’ noise exposure. The Center for Disease Control details this in a report:

The only potentially effective noise control method to reduce students’ or instructors’ noise exposure from gunfire is through the use of noise suppressors that can be attached to the end of the gun barrel.

In their zeal “to do something” our enlightened political class often enacts regulations that hurt the most disadvantaged in society. A suppressor ban would be no exception to this trend.

The Very Real Threat of Over-Bureaucratization

Both the media and its pro-gun opponents mostly focus on gun laws and conventional methods to carrying out gun policy. But what’s often ignored is the massive bureaucratic monstrosity in the background that micromanages all gun affairs in America.

This bureaucratic “Deep State,” if you will, poses a major threat to gun rights in America. For a start, the usual suspect of the ATF and the way it creates arbitrary policies to crack down on gun owners give us an unsettling image of bureaucratic tyranny.

Under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s stewardship of the Justice Department, ATF continued the Obama administration’s vigorous gun control enforcement program. Knowing how things work in DC, simply selling a gun without the right government seal of approval could land an individual in prison. Despite Trump's marketing himself as the most “pro-gun” president in American history, the Justice Department banned bump stocks under his watch. The manner in which this ban was carried out — bureaucratic fiat — is rather troubling.

Let’s look back: When was the last time a bureaucrat was ever unseated at the ballot box? Bad legislation can at least be tied to politicians who are susceptible to the wrath of voters come election season. The same cannot be said about bureaucracy. This harkens back to Ludwig von Mises’s astute observation that “the worst law is better than bureaucratic tyranny.”

A Bi-Partisan Consensus

Thomas Massie is one of the few elected officials in Washington DC who actually understands the problems that government-mandated gun-free zones present. As a result, he has filed the Safe Students Act which repeals the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act (GFSZA) — the legislative source of today's “gun-free zone.”

Given Democratic control of the US House, this bill will likely not receive a hearing, let alone pass out of this chamber of Congress. However, it’s naïve to assume this bill would pass by default under Republican control of all branches of government. Massie introduced similar bills on prior occasions in 2017 and 2018, when there were solid Republican majorities and it still was not able to pass.

Despite, a lot of generic Republican talking points about how Joe Biden (which he deserves some blame for) sponsored the 1990 Gun-Free School Zones Act, it was still a Republican president, George H.W. Bush, who ultimately signed the 1990 Gun-Free School Zones Act into law. In sum, both parties have had their hands in the gun control cookie jar.

Some people suggest that the courts, not Congress, will save us from decades of constitutional violations. This is particularly relevant on the issue of suppressors when looking at a recent case that could have been heard by the Supreme Court.

In 2017, two individuals — Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler — were sentenced for violating federal law. Cox waspunished for the manufacture and sale of a suppressor without paying the mandatory federal license and tax, whereas Kettler was punished for the possession of this accessory. The attorney general, Derek Schmidt, refused to take action against the federal agents, despite Kansas’s nullification law on the books. Cox and Kettler were left with no choice but to go through the courts to plead their case.

They argued the federal government’s action violated their rights as protected by the Bill of Rights, and that they should have been protected by Kansas’s law. Their case ended up going to the Supreme Court, but was ultimately dismissed.

It’s no stretch to say that all branches of the federal government have been tepid at best when dealing with the rollback of unconstitutional policies.

Published:7/12/2019 7:47:15 PM
[Markets] The Death Of Privacy: Government Fearmongers To Read Your Mail

Authored by Phillip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

It is discouraging to note just how the United States has been taking on the attributes of a police state since 9/11. Stories of police raids on people’s homes gone wrong are frequently in the news. In one recent incident, a heavily armed SWAT team was sent to a St. Louis county home. The armed officers entered the building without knocking, shot the family dog and forced the family members to kneel on the floor where they were able to watch their pet struggle and then die. The policemen then informed the family that they were there over failure to pay the gas bill. Animal rights groups report that the shooting of pets by police has become routine in many jurisdictions because the officers claim that they feel threatened.

Indeed, any encounter with any police at any level has now become dangerous. Once upon a time it was possible to argue with an officer over the justification for a traffic ticket, but that is no longer the case. You have to sit with your hands clearly visible on the steering wheel while answering “Yes sir!” to anything the cop says. There have been numerous incidents where the uncooperative driver is ordered to get out of the car and winds up being tasered or shot.

Courts consistently side with police officers and with the government when individual rights are violated while the Constitution of the United States itself has even been publicly described by the president as “archaic” and “a bad thing for the country.” The National Security Agency (NSA) routinely and illegally collects emails and phone calls made by citizens who have done nothing wrong and the government even denies to Americans the right to travel to countries that it disapproves of, most recently Cuba.

And traveling itself has become an unpleasant experience even before one sits down in the 17 inches of seat-space offered by major airlines, with the gropers of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) acting as judge, jury and executioner for travelers who have become confused by the constantly changing rules about what they can do and carry with them. The TSA is now routinely “examining” the phones and laptops of travelers and even downloading the information on them, all without a warrant or probable cause. And the TSA even has a “little list” that identifies travelers who are uncooperative and flags them for special harassment.

Congress is considering bills that will make criticism of Israel a crime, establishing a precedent that will end freedom of speech, and the impending prosecution and imprisonment of Julian Assange for espionage will be the death of a truly free press. Americans are no longer guaranteed a trial by jury and can be held indefinitely by military tribunals without charges. Under George W. Bush torture and rendition were institutionalized while Barack Obama initiated the practice of executing US citizens overseas by drone if they were deemed to be a “threat.” There was no legal process involved and “kill” lists were updated every Tuesday morning. And perhaps the greatest crimes of all, both Obama and George W. Bush did not hesitate to bomb foreigners, bring about regime change, and start wars illegally in Asia and Africa.

The latest assault on civil liberties relates to what used to be referred to as privacy. Indeed, the United States government does not recognize that citizens have a right to privacy. Officials in the national security and intelligence agencies have reportedly become concerned that some new encryption systems being used for email traffic and telephones have impeded government monitoring of what information is being exchanged. As is often the case, “terrorism” is the principal reason being cited for the need to read and listen to the communications of ordinary citizens, but it should be observed in passing that more people in the US are killed annually by falling furniture than by acts of terror. It should also be noted that the federal, state and local governments as well as private companies spend well in excess of a trillion dollars every year to fight the terrorism threat, most of which is completely unnecessary or even counter-productive.

At the end of June senior Trump Administration officials connected to the National Security Council met to discuss what to do about the increasing use of the effective encryption systems by both the public and by some internet service providers, including Apple, Google and Facebook. Particular concern was expressed regarding systems that cannot be broken by NSA at all even if maximum resources using the Agency’s computers are committed to the task. It is a condition referred to by the government agencies as “going dark.”

Under discussion was a proposal to go to Congress and to ask for a law either forbidding so-called end-to-end encryption or mandating a technological fix enabling the government to circumvent it. End-to-end encryption, which scrambles a message so that it is only readable by the sender and recipient, was developed originally as a security feature for iPhones in the wake of the whistleblower Edward Snowden’s exposure of the extent to which NSA was surveilling US citizens. End-to-end makes most communications impossible to hack. From the law enforcement point of view, the alternative to a new law banning or requiring circumvention of the feature would be a major and sustained effort to enable government agencies to break the encryption, something that may not even be possible.

In the past, government snooping was enabled by some of the communications providers themselves, with companies like AT&T engineering in so-called “backdoor” access to their servers and distribution centers, where messages could be read directly and phone calls recorded. But the end-to-end encryption negates that option by sending a message out on the ethernet that is unreadable.

Phone security was last in the news in the wake of the 2015 San Bernardino, California, terrorist attack that killed 14, where the Department of Justice took Apple to court to access a locked iPhone belonging to one of the gunmen. Apple refused to create software to open the phone but the FBI was able to find a technician who could do so and the case was dropped, resulting in no definitive legal precedent on the government’s ability to force a private company to comply with its demands.

There is apparently little desire in Congress to take up the encryption issue, though the National Security Council, headed by John Bolton, clearly would like to empower government law enforcement and intelligence agencies by banning unbreakable encryption completely. It is, however, possibly something that can be achieved through an Executive Order from the president. If it comes about that way, FBI, CIA and NSA will be pleased and will have easy access to all one’s emails and phone calls. But the price to be paid is that once the security standards are lowered anyone else with minimal technical resources will be able to do the same, be they hackers or criminals. As usual, a disconnected and tone-deaf government’s perceived need “to keep you safe” will result in a loss of fundamental liberty that, once it is gone, will never be recovered.

Published:7/12/2019 7:16:27 PM
[Politics] OOPS! PA’s Second Lady, who used to be illegal, accidentally destroys liberal narrative on ICE arrests So this is bizarre. Did ya’ll know that Pennsylvania’s Second Lady, the wife of the Lieutenant Governer, used to be an illegal alien?! And she got DACA amnesty from Obama?!? You DID? . . . Published:7/12/2019 7:16:27 PM
[Markets] Nemesis Rising!

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Where are Clintons, these dog days of summer? The Hamptons? Salty, sunny Martha’s Vineyard? Under a rock somewhere in the Chappaqua woods? Fate is turning in more than one uncomfortable way for the once-charmed couple of Boomerdom.

There is, of course, the freshly re-issued Jeffrey Epstein underage sex scandal, come ‘round again with a vengeance this time because there are fewer Clinton partisans left in the Department of Justice where the matter has festered for decades like a fistula slowly seeping its rot through the body politic. The vengeance emanates from the Clinton’s nemesis, the uppity Golden Golem of Greatness who dared to “steal” Hillary’s place in the Oval Office (and history). To put it plainly, Mr. Trump had enough of the two-year-plus persecution he endured from the Clinton-inspired Mueller investigation into the Clinton-propagated Russia Collusion flim-flam. And having patiently survived this audacious, seditious effrontery, is now out to squash the Clintons like a pair of palmetto bugs.

At this fraught hour of a frightful age, one turns to a metaphysical contemplation of these two Clintons, Hill-and-Bill, and just what it is that they represented in our national life these many years. Mainly, what I wonder is just how much power and influence they exerted behind-the-scenes in Washington since their exit from the White House in 2001. For example, starting with the most recent shenanigans, the curious composition of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel team, spiked with obvious Clinton insiders such as Andrew Weissmann, present at HRC’s aborted victory party on election night 2016, Jeannie Rhee, a lawyer for the Clinton Foundation, and several other former Obama-era DOJ staffers. How did that happen? How did Mr. Mueller get away with that?

One obvious answer: the media titans ignored it. This leads the casual observer to ask; how did it work that revered pillars of The News, like The New York TimesThe Washington Post, NBC, CBS, and so many others became captives of the Clinton narrative? What is the reality there? Probably not so much that the Clinton’s actually control persons and agencies, but that they are figurehead monarchs of the bureaucratic monster called the Deep State; and that this Deep State has been doing everything possible to preserve its increasingly corrupt perquisites against the call to dismantle them — a.k.a. “draining the Swamp.”

Can there be any shred of doubt left in this land that if anyone “colluded” with Russians to interfere in the 2016 election it was the Clinton Campaign’s Fusion GPS disinformation unit, which assembled The Narrative, with the assistance of CIA Director John Brennan, and peddled it to the willfully credulous FBI led by James Comey and the news media. We won’t rehash any more of this excruciatingly complex criminal project, except to note that it is now unraveling with equally painful blowback to the people responsible, including Hillary Rodham Clinton who may be liable for a heap of felony charges in the matter.

All of that nasty business may redound to the various intrigues emanating from HRC’s years as Secretary of State, namely the fantastic hoovering up of hundreds of millions of dollars by the Clinton Foundation from foreign parties doing business with the State Department, including the Russian Federation. How did all that indecency slip through the cracks? Once again, the media ignored it because it would not advance their interests in gender and identity politics to investigate the avatar of the party promoting those crusades. And because the Obama Justice Department under Loretta Lynch deliberately looked the other way for similar reasons.

And now there is the Epstein matter, which threatens not only former president Bill Clinton, but a cosmos of political, financial, and entertainment “stars” in countless ugly incidents that involve a kind of personal corruption that has no political context but says an awful lot about the obliteration of moral and ethical boundaries by the people who ended up running things in this fretful moment of US history. President Clinton has already kicked off this debacle by lying to the media about the number of rides he took on Mr. Epstein’s notorious airplane.

I voted for Bill Clinton twice. When they came up from the backwater of Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1992, they seemed like the fresh, bright antidote to twelve years of fusty Reaganism with the GHW Bush moldy cherry-on-top. Governor Bill, so glib and charming. Tall and catnip to the ladies, too! And almost immediately he was in deep shit over that part of his act, but he wiggled through it all with the aid of his perky, stalwart wife and partner, who defended him sedulously on nationwide TV. (America had never even heard about her misadventures on the Watergate Committee, where, age 27, she gained a reputation for being less than honest.) And that was followed by the first instance of Hillary moneygrubbing when she turned a few thousand bucks into a six-figure bonanza almost overnight in a wired commodities trade.

After all that bother they mostly minded their manners in the White House until Bill got all sexed up by Miss Lewinsky, and they managed to slip through that fiasco without penalty. It was really in the years following — after they left the White House copping some historic GI furnishings, and got caught doing it — that they put together their fabulous empire of grift known as the Clinton Foundation, with its do-good cover act called the Clinton Global Initiative. Curiously now, we learn that Bill was pretending to be on various world-saving missions during many of those trips he took on the Epstein Travel Service plane. We’ll see how that pans out going forward.

When all is said and done, the official business of going forward with these various scandals and their unwindings may prove to be the most nauseating and destabilizing period in our nation’s history. Nemesis is rising.

Published:7/12/2019 2:43:23 PM
[Politics] The Biden Plan for Appeasement Vice President Biden's promise to resume the Obama administration's appeasement of the theocratic dictators of Iran is a shocking marker. It is the headline news in the foreign policy platform Mr. Biden just outlined a speech at New York University. It comes from the politician said to be the most centrist figure in the Democratic scrum. So it will reinforce President Trump's credibility in the coming campaign. Published:7/12/2019 2:43:22 PM
[Law] Barr Is Right: The Trump-Russia Conspiracy Is ‘Bogus’

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Attorney General William Barr reiterated his intention to find out why the Obama administration launched an... Read More

The post Barr Is Right: The Trump-Russia Conspiracy Is ‘Bogus’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:7/12/2019 1:12:36 PM
[US News] WOW: When even former Obama officials tell Dem candidates to CHILL on decriminalizing border crossing you KNOW it’s bad

Gosh, ya’ think? Thanks a lot, Captain Obvious. Former Obama Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warned that decriminalization would attract hundreds of thousands of new migrants to the southern border https://t.co/08ztRtog7L — The Hill (@thehill) July 12, 2019 From The Hill: Top former Obama administration officials are warning Democratic presidential candidates to back off from […]

The post WOW: When even former Obama officials tell Dem candidates to CHILL on decriminalizing border crossing you KNOW it’s bad appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:7/12/2019 10:12:44 AM
[Media] Mitch McConnell Responds to Story That His Ancestors Owned Slaves – Guess I’m Just Like Obama

The following article, Mitch McConnell Responds to Story That His Ancestors Owned Slaves – Guess I’m Just Like Obama, was first published on Godfather Politics.

-By Rusty Weiss Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell turned the tables on a media-driven scandal about his ancestors owning slaves, saying it makes him just like Obama. Earlier this week, NBC News ran a story about McConnell’s great-great-grandfathers owning 14 slaves, opening up a Pandora’s box they’ll eventually regret. “The two great-great-grandfathers, James McConnell and ...

Continue reading: Mitch McConnell Responds to Story That His Ancestors Owned Slaves – Guess I’m Just Like Obama ...

Published:7/12/2019 9:14:15 AM
[Markets] Washington Weighing 'Snapback' Of UN Sanctions On Iran

Washington is about to squander whatever goodwill it gleaned from the series of mysterious tanker attacks that it blamed on Iran by leveraging its veto power at the UN Security Council to impose special 'snapback' sanctions on Tehran.

In the latest sign that the Trump Administration is planning to redouble its pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic in response to Tehran's uranium enrichment, Bloomberg reports that senior US officials are debating whether to impose the 'snapback' sanctions - which would further elevate tensions between Washington and Tehran - in response to Iran's breach of thresholds for the size of its uranium stockpile and the level of enrichment.

Tehra

Though the US formally withdrew from the treaty last year, officials believe Washington could still invoke the mechanism, which would ultimately trigger a return to UN Security Council sanctions beyond those the US is already imposing unilaterally.

A return to the sanctions straightjacket that first drove Tehran to the negotiating table would destroy whatever is left of the European signatories' effort to salvage the deal. It would also seriously piss off the other signatories, particularly since the US has already quit the deal, and therefore shouldn't have a say.

But ultimately, even Obama era officials agree that there's "an argument to be maid" for triggering the snapback sanctions.

"Do I think there’s an argument to be made for snapping back? Sure," said Richard Nephew, who was the lead sanctions expert for the Obama administration team that negotiated the 2015 accord. "Do I think the rest of the council agrees? No. It’s not clear people would stay in their chairs during discussions if we invoked this."

Nephew, now a senior research scholar at Columbia University, said the snapback was designed to give the U.S. unilateral privileges to restore sanctions through the Security Council. At the time, the provision was a major part of Secretary of State John Kerry’s pitch for Congress to acquiesce to the deal. It’s also something that an “America First” president like Trump would like.

Here's how the US would pull it off: the whole process would take two months, and it may require the help of France or the UK, both of whom are trying to save the deal, but still might acquiesce as they worry that Tehran has failed to restrain itself.

Under the snapback clause, any of the signatories to the Iran accord can cite Iran for violating the accord in a complaint to a dispute resolution committee. The matter eventually could be brought before the Security Council, which could vote on a resolution to keep the previous sanctions from going back into force. But the U.S. could get its way by exercising its veto on the council.

It’s no easy fix: The process could take two months or longer. And in today’s circumstances, other participants in the deal would be likely to argue that the U.S. is no longer allowed to invoke the mechanism.

To get around a dispute over whether the U.S. has standing to initiate the snapback mechanism, American officials are leaning on France and the U.K. to consider exercising it. The Europeans are signaling they’re not at that point yet, but they are using the American threats to put pressure on Iran to restrain itself, according to Western diplomats at the UN.

Many of the signatories are still angry with the US for leaving and trashing the deal, and have criticized for aggravating tensions in the region.

A meeting in Vienna on Wednesday foreshadowed just how explosive any efforts for a snapback would be. The U.S. sought a special meeting of nuclear inspectors to increase pressure against Iran. Instead, the Americans drew pushback from Russia, China and Europe, all of whom blame the Trump administration for the crisis.

France, Germany and the U.K. issued a joint statement on the eve of the meeting saying that while they were concerned by Iran’s violations, it’s the job of the remaining participants in the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to address disputes.

"The EU deeply regrets the U.S. withdrawal and calls on all countries to refrain from taking any actions that impede the implementation of the JCPOA commitments," it said.

To be sure, US sanctions have done considerable damage to the Iranian economy, and it's unclear whether the UN sanctions would add a significant amount of pressure. But the fact that this is being seriously considered shows that the Iran hawks are working to regain control of the agenda, despite President Trump's insistence that he doesn't "want a war" with Iran.

Published:7/12/2019 6:11:15 AM
[Markets] The Obama Ukrainian Nightmare Seems To Be Ending, At Last

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Finally, the process of ending the war in Ukraine seems to be starting in earnest. But to understand how the war can now realistically end, the basic history of how it began needs first to be acknowledged, and this history is something that will be very difficult for U.S-and-allied media to report, because it violates what their ‘news’-reports, ever since the time of the war’s start, had said was happening. So, what will be reported here (like the truth was, when it was news) will far likelier be simply ignored, than ever reported in the US and its allied countries. That’s why this news-report and analysis is being submitted to all mainstream news-media in those countries, which until now have unanimously reported, and accepted as being true, the authorized lies, which everyone in the US and allied countries has read, as if those lies were instead the history.

For one thing: This war did not start with the 16 March 2014 breakaway of Crimea from Ukraine, as Western ‘news’-media have always been claiming; but, instead, it started by what had sparked the overwhelming desire of the vast majority of Crimeans to want to break away from Ukraine. This urge had to do with the three-week-earlier February 2014 bloody coup d’etat in Ukraine, illegally overthrowing Ukraine’s democratically elected President, Viktor Yanukovych, for whom 75% of Crimeans had voted. The vast majority of Crimeans refused to accept Obama’s selected replacement-leaders and their new and US-imposed far-rightwing regime, which made clear, as soon as they took over, what they were intending to do to Crimeans.

The key period in the Ukrainian uprising against the coup, during which the residents in Ukraine’s far east — where the voting percentages for Yanukovych had ranged from 80% to over 90% — blocked Ukraine’s tanks and took over the government’s buildings, was the week of 2 through 9 May 2014, and that’s when the farthest eastern region, Donbass, which had voted over 90% for Yanukovych, were so resistant to the imposed fascist regime, that they actually broke away from Ukraine, despite all the efforts by the US-imposed fascist regime to conquer them — Ukraine’s bombing them for months and intentionally driving them out into Russia. The new regime did this so as to regain the land but without the people on it. Obama’s agents — the appointees to the new regime, which were selected by Obama’s US agents — didn’t want those voters to remain in Ukraine’s electorate, because the residents there would vote against the US-imposed regime’s candidates, who then would lose power. Obama wanted the land, but not the people who lived on it, and that’s what this war was and is all about — seizing the land, from the people who live there.

The US and allied media presented the overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 as having been a democratic revolution, but it was actually a US coup d’etat that was hidden behind anti-corruption demonstrations, which had started to be organized on 1 March 2013, inside the US Embassy in Kyiv; and the US regime hired, for this coup, snipers from several countries, such as Georgia and Lithuania, some of which snipers have since admitted publicly that they had been hired by agents for the United States, to perpetrate this coup. Once inside Ukraine, Georgia’s snipers were introduced, at 9:40 in the Part One video, to “an American military guy, who will be your instructor. This American’s name was Brian Christopher Boyenger. … We were always in touch with this person, Bryan.” The Lithuanian snipers were mentioned at 1:40 in the Part Two video, because those snipers happened to have been assigned to be shooting down, into the crowd, from the same room inside the hotel. Obama’s State Department (under Hillary Clinton at the time) had started, by no later than 2011, to plan this operation. Then, after the coup, and after Crimea broke away on 16 March 2014, rebellions farther east started, in other regions that had likewise voted overwhelmingly for Yanukovych. And this is how the war started, which now finally (after the election of Trump in America, and then of Zelensky in Ukraine) seems likely to end fairly soon. (Neither of those two leaders has a personal commitment to continuing this invasion by Ukraine. From now on, Ukraine’s leaders will need to satisfy the EU far more than the US)

On 17 September 2014, was hidden in Western ‘news’-media — and so I was the first to report and headlined the historic news that — “Russia’s Leader Putin Rejects Ukrainian Separatists’ Aim to Become Part of Russia”. This historically important news was notreported in The West (though my news-report was sent to virtually all media) because America’s President had all along been claiming that Putin was trying to grab ‘more’ territory in Ukraine (Donbass); so, Putin’s rejection of Donbass’s request to be accepted into Russia (as Crimea had been) was too blatant a disproof of The West’s lies to be reported in The West. Eleven days later, on 28 September 2014, Britain’s Telegraphheadlined “Putin and Obama exchange barbs on Ukraine; Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama accuse each other of fomenting Ukraine crisis that has plunged Russia’s relations with the West to lowest point since Cold War.” This report said nothing at all about Putin’s refusal to take that land which The West was continuing to imply he was trying to grab. Their supposed cause de guerre was gone, but it lives on, even now, in the Western myths about the war’s start (i.e., that it started on 16 March 2014 instead of 20 February 2014, and that it started because ‘Russia was invading Ukraine’ to grab land there’, and not because of Obama’s coup in Ukraine — which coup The West continues to hide).

So, with that background about The West’s lies (versus the reality), here is the reason why Ukraine now seems finally inclined to accept the Donbassers back into Ukraine as full citizens, with equal rights as all others (and no longer as their being ‘terrorists’).

The West is finally tapped-out on spending for Ukraine’s ongoing invasion of Donbass. If Ukraine fails to stop this war soon, then Ukraine’s Government will have less and less realistic hope of ever being able to join the EU. Putin knows this. Furthermore, Ukraine’s regime had worn out the patience even of the residents in the anti-Russian parts of Ukraine, and so Volodymyr Zelensky, a candidate who was no part of that regime and had had no responsibility for its actions, won the 21 April 2019 Presidential election with an astounding 73% of the votes — by far the biggest win in Ukraine’s history.

On 4 July 2019, the Kyiv Post bannered “Putin calls on Zelensky to talk with Russian-backed militants in Donbas”.

The next day, on July 5th, Deutsche Welle, German radio and television, headlined “Ukraine ready for peace, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy tells DW”, and sub-headed “With conflict simmering in the east, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is hoping to secure a political solution to end a separatist insurgency. He told DW that he has the support of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.” This news-report opened: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday welcomed the withdrawal of Ukrainian and separatist forces from front line positions in Stanitsa Luhanska in eastern Ukraine, marking a new step towards ending the conflict. In the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, Zelenskiy told DW that his government is committed to finding a political solution to the conflict.” An accompanying DW news-story was “Why Putin wants to make ‘new Russians’ out of Ukrainians”, and it reported that, “Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the state-controlled broadcaster [like DW is itself, and BBC, and NPR, and PBS, they all are state-controlled, instead of directly controlled by the billionaires] RT, posted on Facebook that if nothing is done, the population would change so much that by 2040 Russia will be a ‘Muslim country.’ She added that people from the Donbass regions, as well as other migrants, could help maintain the ‘fragile status quo of the dominance of Russian Orthodox Christianity.’” Putin had been able to defeat the Saudi effort to spread its Wahhabist-extremist form of Islam into Russia only by using extreme measures to stop its spread. Whereas Russian Orthodox Christianity is compatible with democracy, the Sauds’ fundamentalist-Sunni faith simply is not. Russia needs more citizens who won’t be vulnerable to the Sauds’ pro-jihadist effort. Russia’s Government is strongly anti-jihadist. By contrast, the US, under Obama, was using Al Qaeda to train the jihadist groups that, led by the United StatesThe West armed to overthrow the secular Government of Syria. The EU is now, at long last, separating itself from the US regime’s control.

Zelensky needs to rely now far more on pleasing the EU than on pleasing America. Do you remember when Obama’s agent running Ukraine famously said “Fuck the EU” (or “F—k the EU”)? That was because most European leaders weren’t as nazi as Obama was. They didn’t even know about Obama’s coup in Ukraine until it was already over.

Published:7/12/2019 1:10:22 AM
[Markets] The United States Of Fascism Hysteria

Authored (Satirically) by CJ Hopkins via The Unz Review,

So it’s been an exciting few weeks for Antifa and the rest of the neoliberal Resistance. OK, they haven’t yet managed to overthrow the Putin-Nazi occupation government (hereinafter “POG”), but they’ve definitely got “the Fash” on the run. “Fascism” hysteria is spreading like wildfire. Liberal Twitter mobs are out for blood. At this point, it’s only a matter of time until the sleeping giant of normality awakens and purges America of the fascist filth that have Putin-Nazified this once great nation.

Antifa has been at the vanguard of the fight, smashing the Fash on both East and West Coasts. In Portland, where a gang of neo-fascist anti-masturbationists known as the “Proud Boys” had assembled for a self-promotional street fight they were billing as the “Battle of Portland 2,” Antifa militants positively identified and preventatively beat the living snot out of a journalist named Andy Ngo. To prevent him from snitching to the fascist cops (who are allegedly working hand in hand with POG), they self-defensively robbed him, sprayed him with silly string, and pelted him with vegan milkshakes.

Now, before you get all up in arms about Antifa assaulting and robbing journalists, you need to know a couple of things.

First, according to Antifa spokespersons, and those bloodthirsty liberal Twitter mobs, Andy Ngo is a “fascist adjacent,” and possibly even a card carrying fascist. Antifa representative Alexander Reid Ross claims that Ngo is personally responsible for putting people’s names on a Nazi “kill-list” (or at least that Ngo’s writing has been published by Quillette, which published an article by someone else that some fascists read and copied people’s names from), so, basically, he deserves to die.

Also, assaulting and robbing Ngo was technically “preemptive self-defense (you know, the same as when we invaded Iraq to defend ourselves from those WMDs). Despite their helmets and body armor, and the fact that Ngo is a doughy little gay guy, his presence among them on a public street was making Antifa feel “unsafe.” So, they had no choice but to beat him senseless, steal his camera, and vegan milkshake him. As Antifa expert Mark Bray explains, when you’re Antifa, “fighting back is always self-defense, even if [you] strike the first blow.” (This logic only applies to anti-fascists, of course, like Antifa and the U.S. military, and not to, you know, gangs of thugs, or the perpetrators of wars of aggression.)

Antifa’s self-defensive mugging of a journalist apparently scared the crap out of POG, because one week later, back in Washington, D.C., President Hitler called in the tanks, and the Luftwaffe, and announced that he was going to stage a reenactment of a Nuremberg Rally right in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The liberal intelligentsia went apeshit. This was really it this time! Putin had given Trump the green-light to declare martial law and pronounce himself Führer. The long-awaited Putin-Nazi Apocalypse was finally about to begin!

Unfortunately, Trump’s Fourth of July Jamboree turned out to be a rather tame affair. He even almost made it through his speech without making an ass of himself. This was extremely disappointing for liberals, who were hoping he would go full-Hitler, paint “death’s heads” on the turrets of the Bradleys and a Swastika on the tail of Air Force One, and order ICE to start rounding up the Jews.

The weekend wasn’t a total let-down, however. The Proud Boys (who are clearly gluttons for punishment), staged another self-promotional event, this one billed as “Defend Free Speech.” A few hundred people turned up to listen to speeches by a handful of alt-right clowns desperately trying to reignite their careers. They were outnumbered 2 to 1 by Antifa, Black Lives Matter, assorted drag queens, and an indigenous, two-spirited transperson of color, who reportedly “performed a spoken word” on the meaning of the term “latinx.”

The D.C. police (who are even more fascist than the Portland police who stood by and watched as Antifa beat up and robbed a journalist) fascistically prevented Antifa militants from storming into the Alt-right rally and beating the snot out of everyone in sight. So, the anti-fascists had no choice but to preemptively attack a newspaper dispenser, which was presumably making them feel “unsafe,” or disseminating POG propaganda, or something. One of them tried to burn a flag, but he couldn’t figure out how to operate his matches. Assorted other hilarious acts of revolutionary direct action followed. Apparently, Antifa’s strategy was to smash the Fash by amusing them to death.

Meanwhile, militant Resistance actions against the POG “concentration camps” continue. New York City, San Francisco, and other liberal metropolitan areas have almost completely emptied out as liberals flock to the southern border to liberate the surviving prisoners. Conditions in the camps are now beyond inhuman. According to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, migrants are being forced to drink out of toilets, and otherwise subjected to “systematic cruelty,” (so you can understand why liberals are physically putting their bodies on the line to bring an end to this horrifying sadism, and not just sitting around on the Internet shrieking about “concentration camps” as they travel to their summer holiday rentals on Martha’s Vineyard, or the Hamptons, or wherever).

No, these Putin-Nazi “concentration camps” are nothing at all like the “detention facilities” the Obama administration operated, even though they look exactly the same. Sure, thousands of migrant children were separated from their parents, in cages, and there were tens of thousands of incidents of rape, sexual abuse, beatings, and so on, but, otherwise, these Obama “detention facilities” were more like great big 2-star hotels, or like student dorms at a state university, so there was no need for liberals to get all worked up and start comparing them to places like Dachau and Buchenwald.

Plus, here’s a picture of dead people! Look at this picture! These people are dead! So just shut up about Obama already! Enough with history, and critical thinking, and the practical aspects of immigration policy! It’s time to abolish all national borders, issue everyone a U.S. passport, and transcend the whole concept of national sovereignty … or at least to provide the capitalist ruling classes with an endless supply of cheap, undocumented, extremely compliant unskilled labor. Those Bel Air lawns aren’t going to mow themselves!

Jesus, I can’t believe I just wrote that. Concentration camps and dead people are nothing to joke about. It’s OK, however, to cynically use them to whip people up into a paroxysm of manufactured mass fascism hysteria.

Not that the neoliberal ruling classes and the corporate media would ever do that.

No, they would never repeatedly attempt to evoke our hatred of the actual Nazis (and their actual concentration camps … which people were dragged out of their homes, loaded onto trains, and shipped away to, and which you could not voluntarily depart) in order to short circuit our critical thinking, or otherwise emotionally manipulate us into supporting their War on Populism.

No, the Putin-Nazi occupation government is not just manufactured mass hysteria concocted by the neoliberal ruling classes. Donald Trump is really a Nazi. There’s a portrait of Hitler in the Oval Office. Putin really controls America. Putin, and his cabal of Russian Nazis. They’re everywhere. They own the banks. They control the media. They control elections. They are the “International Invisible Government.” (Is any of this sounding vaguely familiar?) They are devising the Final Solution to the Immigrant Problem right this minute. They are doing this at Mar-a-Lago, where Trump has had a big “Black Sun” etched into the marble floor.

So, if you’re serious about your anti-fascism, now’s the time to load up on silly string, ski goggles, masks, hard knuckle gloves, and whatever you make those milkshakes with. POG might be on the run at the moment, but there’s an election season coming up, so we need to be prepared for anything. The important thing is to remain hysterical, and to be ready to respond to whatever emotional stimuli the ruling classes wave in our faces. The fate of democracy hangs in the balance.

Oh, and watch out for those fascist newspaper dispensers!

Published:7/11/2019 11:43:15 PM
[Politics] Consumer Spending Update: A Giant Leap in Consumer Confidence

The Rasmussen Reports Economic Index jumped to 144.5 in July, up over nine points from last month and just shy of its all-time high in February 2018.

Enthusiasm about the economy started to grow immediately following Donald Trump's election as president in November 2016 and spiked to 145.9 in February 2018. By comparison, in President Obama’s final years in office, this index reached a high of 121.5 in January 2015 and was at 108.1 his last month in the White House.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.  

The survey of 1,500 American Adults was conducted on July 1-2, 2019 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:7/11/2019 3:37:06 PM
[Markets] House Democrats Can't Stop Tweeting And Deleting Obama-Era 'Children In Cages' Pics

House Democrats can't seem to stop tweeting pictures of children sleeping in 'cages' during the Obama presidency. 

The Democratic-led House Oversight Committee on Wednesday tweeted a #resistance screed in anticipation of a hearing that afternoon on "Kids in Cages: Inhuman Treatment at the Border." 

The Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) immediately called out the Democrats for using a photo from 2014, when Obama and Joe Biden were in the White House.

DELETE! DELETE!

The daft Democrats quickly deleted the tweet, replacing it with another photo from Obama-era child detentionsThe second tweet was quickly deleted according to RT, and replaced with a picture of -- nothing. 

In short, 'It's ok when we do it.'  

 

Published:7/11/2019 1:07:24 PM
[celebrity homes] Michelle Obama’s $22.9 Million Hollywood Hills Rental Has a Shark Aquarium and Wellness Center Barack and Michelle Obama might be scouting out a permanent home in Los Angeles. Published:7/11/2019 11:58:22 AM
[Markets] Trump Trolls 'Fake News', Democratic Rivals In Epic Twitter Rant

Ahead of what looks to be a busy day for President Trump - in addition to his social media summit, Mnuchin has a meeting scheduled with Nancy Pelosi and the White House has just called a press conference about the latest court decisions on the citizenship question - the president indulged in a scattered twitter rant about the fake news media, some of his would-be Democratic challengers, and his amazing economy.

After the mainstream press criticized Trump's social media summit  for purportedly bringing 'fringe' voices to the White House for another grievance session, Trump apparently felt compelled to hit back. He warned that the subject of the summit will be the "tremendously dishonest, biased" mainstream press.

Trump

He also insisted that the "Fake News" is "not as important, or as powerful, as Social Media" (though he insisted he would still be president if Twitter never existed).

And when Trump leaves office in six years, taking the Trump traffic bump with him, many media companies will go bankrupt - a claim that Trump has made before (he even included a very timely Mad Magazine reference just days after Mad ended its longrunning print mag).

Trump notoriously didn't invite Facebook, Twitter or Alphabet to the summit, meaning social media companies won't be well represented. Instead, he invited a group of Internet personalities. After the media rant, Trump quickly pivoted to attacking some of his rivals, joking that he couldn't imagine 'Sleepy Joe' or 'Pocahontas' as president, while offering a little trolling by referring to himself as "so great looking and smart, a true Stable Genius!"

Trump then pivoted to a tweet about the pledge of allegiance being under siege.

Then moved on to last week's jobs number and the economy more broadly.

Then back to the Fake News media...

And finally ending with a video tribute from...Jon Voight?

If these tweets are any indication, Thursday could be an insane day.

Published:7/11/2019 7:13:22 AM
[Markets] Two Years Later, Trump Has Failed To Reverse America's Decline

Authored by Dilip Hiro via TomDispatch.com,

President Donald Trump was partly voted into office by Americans who felt that the self-proclaimed greatest power on Earth was actually in decline - and they weren’t wrong. Trump is capable of tweeting many things, but none of those tweets will stop that process of decline, nor will a trade war with a rising China or fierce oil sanctions on Iran.

You could feel this recently, even in the case of the increasingly pressured Iranians. There, with a single pinprick, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei effectively punctured Trump’s MAGA balloon and reminded many that, however powerful the U.S. still was, people in other countries were beginning to look at America differently at the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century.

Trump wearing MAGA cap in 2016. (Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0,via Wikimedia Commons)

Following a meeting in Tehran with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who brought a message from Trump urging the start of U.S.-Iranian negotiations, Khamenei tweeted, “We have no doubt in [Abe’s] goodwill and seriousness; but regarding what you mentioned from [the] U.S. president, I don’t consider Trump as a person deserving to exchange messages with, and I have no answer for him, nor will I respond to him in the future.” He then added: “We believe that our problems will not be solved by negotiating with the U.S., and no free nation would ever accept negotiations under pressure.”

A flustered Trump was reduced to briefly tweeting: “I personally feel that it is too soon to even think about making a deal. They are not ready, and neither are we!”

And soon after, the president halted at the last minute, in a distinctly humiliating retreat, U.S. air strikes on Iranian missile sites that would undoubtedly have created yet more insoluble problems for Washington across the Greater Middle East.

Keep in mind that, globally, before the ayatollah’s put-down, the Trump administration had already had two abject foreign policy failures: the collapse of the president’s Hanoi summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (followed by that regime’s provocative firing of several missiles over the Sea of Japan) and a bungled attempt to overthrow the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

America’s Global Standing at a Record Low

What’s great or small can be defined in absolute or relative terms. America’s “greatness” (or“exceptional” or “indispensable” nature) — much lauded in Washington before the Trump era — should certainly be judged against the economic progress made by China in those same years and against Russia’s advances in the latest high-tech weaponry. Another way of assessing the nature of that “greatness” and what to make of it would be through polls of how foreigners view the United States.

Take, for instance, a survey released by the Pew Research Group in February 2019. Forty-five percent of respondents in 26 nations with large populations felt that American power and influence posed “a major threat to our country,” while 36 percent offered the same response on Russia, and 35 percent on China. To put that in perspective, in 2013, during the presidency of Barack Obama, only 25 percent of global respondents held such a negative view of the U.S., while reactions to China remained essentially the same. Or just consider the most powerful country in Europe, Germany. Between 2013 and 2018, Germans who considered American power and influence a greater threat than that of China or Russia leapt from 19 percent to 49 percent. (Figures for France were similar.)

China’s Xi with Russia’s Putin after talks in June 2019. (The Kremlin)

As for Trump, only 27 percent of global respondents had confidence in him to do the right thing in world affairs, while 70 feared he would not. In Mexico, you undoubtedly won’t be surprised to learn, confidence in his leadership was at a derisory 6 percent. In 17 of the surveyed countries, people who lacked confidence in him were also significantly more likely to consider the U.S. the world’s top threat, a phenomenon most pronounced among traditional Washington allies like Canada, Great Britain, and Australia.

China’s Expanding Global Footprint

While 39 percent of Pew respondents in that poll still rated the U.S. as the globe’s leading economic power, 34 percent opted for China. Meanwhile, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched in 2013 to link the infrastructure and trade of much of Southeast Asia, Eurasia, and the Horn of Africa to China (at an estimated cost of $4 trillion) and to be funded by diverse sources, is going from strength to strength.

One way to measure this: the number of dignitaries attending the biennial BRI Forum in Beijing. The first of those gatherings in May 2017 attracted 28 heads of state and representatives from 100 countries. The most recent, in late April, had 37 heads of state and representatives from nearly 150 countries and international organizations, including International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Leaders of nine out of 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations attended, as did four of the five Central Asian republics. Strikingly, a third of the leaders participating came from Europe. According to Peter Frankopan, author of “The New Silk Roads,” more than 80 countries are now involved in some aspect of the BRI project. That translates into more than 63 percent of the world’s population and 29 percent of its global economic output.

Still, Chinese President Xi Jinping is intent on expanding the BRI’s global footprint further, a signal of China’s dream of future greatness. During a February two-day state visit to Beijing by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Xi suggested that, when it came to Riyadh’s overly ambitious economic plan, “our two countries should speed up the signing of an implementation plan on connecting the Belt and Road Initiative with the Saudi Vision 2030.”

Flattered by this proposal, the crown prince defended China’s use of “re-education” camps for Uighur Muslims in its western province of Xinjiang, claiming it was Beijing’s “right” to carry out antiterrorism work to safeguard national security. Under the guise of combating extremism, the Chinese authorities have placed an estimated one million Uighur Muslims in such camps to undergo re-education designed to supplant their Islamic legacy with a Chinese version of socialism. Uighur groups had appealed to Prince bin Salman to take up their cause. No such luck: one more sign of the rise of China in the 21st century.

China Enters High-Tech Race with America

In 2013, Germany launched an Industry 4.0 Plan meant to fuse cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing, and cognitive computing with the aim of increasing manufacturing productivity by up to 50 percent, while curtailing resources required by half. Two years later, emulating this project, Beijing published its own 10-year Made in China 2025 plan to update the country’s manufacturing base by rapidly developing 10 high-tech industries, including electric cars and other new-energy vehicles, next-generation information technology and telecommunications, as well as advanced robotics and artificial intelligence, aerospace engineering, high-end rail infrastructure, and high-tech maritime engineering.

As with BRI, the government and media then publicized and promoted Made in China 2025 vigorously. This alarmed Washington and America’s high-tech corporations. Over the years, American companies had complained about China’s theft of U.S. intellectual property, the counterfeiting of famous brands, and the stealing of trade secrets, not to speak of the pressuring of American firms in joint ventures with local companies to share technology as a price for gaining access to China’s vast market. Their grievances became more vocal when Donald Trump entered the White House determined to cut Washington’s annual trade deficit of $380 billion with Beijing.

As president, Trump ordered his new trade representative, the Sinophobe Robert Lighthizer, to look into the matter. The resulting seven-month investigation pegged the loss U.S. companies experienced because of China’s unfair trade practices at $50 billion a year. That was why, in March 2018, Trump instructed Lighthizer to levy tariffs on at least $50 billion worth of Chinese imports.

Lighthizer, second from left with earpiece, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump at session on the global economy at G-20 Summit, June 28, 2019, in Osaka, Japan. (White House/ Shealah Craighead)

That signaled the start of a Sino-American trade war which has only gained steam since. In this context, Chinese officials started downplaying the significance of Made in China 2025, describing it as nothing more than an inspirational plan. This March, China’s National People’s Congress even passed a foreign direct-investment law meant to address some of the grievances of U.S. companies. Its implementation mechanism was, however, weak. Trump promptly claimed that China had backtracked on its commitments to incorporate into Chinese law significant changes the two countries had negotiated and put into a draft agreement to end the trade war. He then slapped further tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports.

The major bone of contention for the Trump administration is a Chinese law specifying that, in a joint venture between a foreign corporation and a Chinese company, the former must pass on technological know-how to its Chinese partner. That’s seen as theft by Washington. According to Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Yukon Huang, author of “Cracking the China Conundrum: Why Conventional Economic Wisdom Is Wrong,” however, it’s fully in accord with globally accepted guidelines. Such diffusion of technological know-how has played a significant role in driving growth globally, as the IMF’s 2018 World Economic Outlook report made clear. It’s worth noting as well that China now accounts for almost one-third of global annual economic growth.

The size of China’s market is so vast and the rise in its per capita gross domestic product — from $312 in 1980 to $9,769 in 2018 — is so steep that major U.S. corporations generally accepted its long-established joint-venture law and that should surprise no one. Last year, for instance, General Motors sold 3,645,044 vehicles in China and fewer than 3 million in the U.S. Little wonder then that, late last year, following GM plant closures across North America, part of a wide-ranging restructuring plan, the company’s management paid no heed to a threat from Trump to strip GM of any government subsidies. What angered the president, as he tweeted, caught the reality of the moment: nothing was “being closed in Mexico and China.”

What Trump simply can’t accept is this: after nearly two decades of supply-chain restructuring and global economic integration, China has become thekey industrial supplier for the United States and Europe. His attempt to make America great again by restoring the economic status quo of before 2001 — the year China was admitted to the World Trade Organization — is doomed to fail.

In reality, trade war or peace, China is now beginning to overtake the U.S. in science and technology.study by Qingnan Xie of Nanjing University of Science and Technology and Richard Freeman of Harvard University noted that, between 2000 and 2016, China’s global share of publications in the physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics quadrupled and, in the process, exceeded that of the U.S. for the first time.

In the field of high technology, for example, China is now well ahead of the United States in mobile payment transactions. In the first 10 months of 2017, those totaled $12.8 trillion, the result of vast numbers of consumers discarding credit cards in favor of cashless systems. In stark contrast, according to eMarketer, America’s mobile payment transactions in 2017 amounted to $49.3 billion. Last year, 583 million Chinese used mobile payment systems, with nearly 68 percent of China’s Internet users turning to a mobile wallet for their offline payments.

Russia’s Advanced Weaponry

In a similar fashion, in his untiring pitch for America’s “beautiful” weaponry, Trump has failed to grasp the impressive progress Russia has made in that field.

While presenting videos and animated glimpses of new intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear-powered cruise missiles, and underwater drones in a March 2018 television address, Russian President Vladimir Putin traced the development of his own country’s new weapons to Washington’s decision to pull out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty with the Soviet Union. In December 2001, encouraged by John Bolton, then under secretary of state for arms control and international security, President George W. Bush had indeed withdrawn from the 1972 ABM treaty on the spurious grounds that the 9/11 attacks had changed the nature of defense for America. His Russian counterpart of the time, the very same Vladimir Putin, described the withdrawal from that cornerstone of world security as a grievous mistake. The head of Russia’s armed forces, General Anatoly Kvashnin, warned then that the pullout would alter the nature of the international strategic balance, freeing up countries to restart arms buildups, both conventional and nuclear.

As it happened, he couldn’t have been more on the mark. The U.S. is now engaged in a 30-year, trillion-dollar-plus remake and update of its nuclear arsenal, while the Russians (whose present inventory of 6,500 nuclear weapons slightly exceeds America’s) have gone down a similar route. In that televised address of his on the eve of the 2018 Russian presidential election, Putin’s list of new nuclear weapons was headed by the Sarmat, a 30-ton intercontinental ballistic missile, reputedly far harder for an enemy to intercept in its most vulnerable phase just after launching. It also carries a larger number of nuclear warheads than its predecessor.

Putin meets in 2014 with young researchers at Russian Federal Nuclear Centre – All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics, a key facility in Russia’s nuclear military complex. (President of Russia)

Another new weapon on his list was a nuclear-powered intercontinental underwater drone, Status-6, a submarine-launched autonomous vehicle with a range of 6,800 miles, capable of carrying a 100-megaton nuclear warhead. And then there was his country’s new nuclear-powered cruise missile with a “practically unlimited” range. In addition, because of its stealth capabilities, it will be hard to detect in flight and its high maneuverability will, theoretically at least, enable it to bypass an enemy’s defenses. Successfully tested in 2018, it does not yet have a name. Unsurprisingly, Putin won the presidency with 77 percent of the vote, a 13 percent rise from the previous poll, on record voter turnout of 67.7 percent.

In conventional weaponry, Russia’s S-400 missile system remains unrivalled. According to the Washington-based Arms Control Association, “The S-400 system is an advanced, mobile, surface-to-air defense system of radars and missiles of different ranges, capable of destroying a variety of targets such as attack aircraft, bombs, and tactical ballistic missiles. Each battery normally consists of eight launchers, 112 missiles, and command and support vehicles.” The S-400 missile has a range of 400 kilometers (250 miles), and its integrated system is believed to be capable of shooting down up to 80 targets simultaneously.

Consider it a sign of the times, but in defiance of pressure from the Trump administration not to buy Russian weaponry, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, the only Muslim member of NATO, ordered the purchase of batteries of those very S-400 missiles. Turkish soldiers are currently being trained on that weapons systems in Russia. The first battery is expected to arrive in Turkey next month.

Trump talks with Turkey’s Erdogan at G-20 Summit, June 28, 2019, in Osaka, Japan. (White House/ Shealah Craighead)

Similarly, in April 2015, Russia signed a contract to supply S-400 missiles to China. The first delivery of the system took place in January 2018 and China test fired it in August.

Expanding Beijing-Moscow Alliance

Consider that as another step in Russian-Chinese military coordination meant to challenge Washington’s claim to be the planet’s sole superpower. Similarly, last September, 3,500 Chinese troops participated in Russia’s largest-ever military exercises involving 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 military vehicles, 80 ships, and 1,000 aircraft, helicopters, and drones. Codenamed Vostok-2018, it took place across a vast region that included the Bering Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, and the Sea of Japan. Little wonder that NATO officials described Vostok-2018 as a demonstration of a growing Russian focus on future large-scale conflict: “It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time — a more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence.” Putin attended the exercises after hosting an economic forum in Vladivostok where Chinese President Xi was his guest. “We have trustworthy ties in political, security and defense spheres,” he declared, while Xi praised the two countries’ friendship, which, he claimed, was “getting stronger all the time.”

Map of Northern Sea Route along the coast of Russia. (Mohonu at English Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons)

Thanks to climate change, Russia and China are now also working in tandem in the fast-melting Arctic. Last year Russia, which controls more than half the Arctic coastline, sent its first ship through the Northern Sea Route without an icebreaker in winter. Putin hailed that moment as a “big event in the opening up of the Arctic.”

Beijing’s Arctic policy, first laid out in January 2018, described China as a “near-Arctic” state and visualized the future shipping routes there as part of a potential new “Polar Silk Road” that would both be useful for resource exploitation and for enhancing Chinese security. Shipping goods to and from Europe by such a passage would shorten the distance to China by 30 percent compared to present sea routes through the Malacca Straits and the Suez Canal, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars per voyage.

Icebreaker Yamal, August 2013. (International Maritime Organization via Flickr)

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Arctic holds petroleum reserves equal to 412 billion barrels of oil, or about 22 percent  of the world’s undiscovered hydrocarbons. It also has deposits of rare earth metals. China’s second Arctic vessel, Xuelong 2 (Snow Dragon 2), is scheduled to make its maiden voyage later this year. Russia needs Chinese investment to extract the natural resources under its permafrost. In fact, China is already the biggest foreign investor in Russia’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in the region — and the first LNG shipment was dispatched to China’s eastern province last summer via the Northern Sea Route. Its giant oil corporation is now beginning to drill for gas in Russian waters alongside the Russian company Gazprom.

Washington is rattled. In April, in its latest annual report to Congress on China’s military power, the Pentagon for the first time included a section on the Arctic, warning of the risks of a growing Chinese presence in the region, including that country’s possible deployment of nuclear submarines there in the future. In May, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used a meeting of foreign ministers in Rovaniemi, Finland, to assail China for its “aggressive behavior” in the Arctic.

In an earlier speech, Pompeo noted that, from 2012 to 2017, China invested nearly $90 billion in the Arctic region. “We’re concerned about Russia’s claim over the international waters of the Northern Sea Route, including its newly announced plans to connect it with China’s Maritime Silk Road,” he said. He then pointed out that, along that route, “Moscow already illegally demands other nations request permission to pass, requires Russian maritime pilots to be aboard foreign ships, and threatens to use military force to sink any that fail to comply with their demands.”

Leaders of the Arctic Council meet in Rovaniemi, Finland, May 6, 2019. (State Department/Ron Przysucha)

American Downturn Continues

Altogether, the tightening military and economic ties between Russia and China have put America on the defensive, contrary to Trump’s MAGA promise to American voters in the 2016 campaign. It’s true that, despite fraying diplomatic and economic ties between Washington and Moscow, Trump’s personal relations with Putin remain cordial. (The two periodically exchange friendly phone calls.) But among Russians more generally, a favorable view of the U.S. fell from 41 percent in 2017 to 26 percent in 2018, according to a Pew Research survey.

There’s nothing new about great powers, even the one that proclaimed itself the greatest in history, declining after having risen high. In our acrimonious times, that’s a reality well worth noting. While launching his bid for reelection recently, Trump proposed a bombastic new slogan: “Keep America Great” (or KAG), as if he had indeed raised America’s stature while in office. He would have been far more on target, however, had he suggested the slogan “Depress America More” (or DAM) to reflect the reality of an unpopular president who faces rising great power rivals abroad.

Published:7/10/2019 10:33:27 PM
[Markets] Joe Biden: Protector Of The Deep State

Authored by Jeremy Kuzmarov via Counterpunch.org,

Kamala Harris surged in the polls after attacking frontrunner Joe Biden during the first Democratic Party debate for opposing federal busing programs in the 1970s that were designed to desegregate public schools. Bernie Sanders in the debate also criticized Biden’s support for the Iraq War. Left overlooked, however, were some other skeleton’s in “lunch bucket” Joe’s closet, including his history of advancing the interests of the “deep state.”

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Biden sat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which was established upon recommendation of the 1975/1976 Pike committee to provide “vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Biden himself admitted that the Senate Intelligence Committee failed at this latter task, telling The New York Times in 1982 that its performance was “barely adequate. There is a lack of prudent and consistent oversight…. and a willingness to accept blanket findings and to give indefinite approval for conducting operations.”

With the Vietnam anti-war movement going strong, the slick young Biden had supported a 1974 bill that called for banning all covert operations. Sensing which way the political winds were blowing, Biden, however, told the Senate Committee in 1976 that he had “no illusions about Soviet intentions and capabilities in the world” and expressed agreement with neoconservative Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) that “isolationism was a dangerous and naïve foundation upon which to rest our foreign policy or the intelligence community which must serve that policy.”

By the 1980s, Biden was supporting increases in intelligence and counterintelligence funding after Jimmy Carter had tried to cut the CIA’s staff by a third. In 1980, he voted to approve as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) William Casey, a staunch anticommunist who ramped up covert arms supplies to the Afghan mujahidin, Nicaraguan Contras and Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA forces in Angola. While opposing the Contras use of terrorism and the FBIs illegal surveillance of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), Biden supported Reagan’s War on Terrorism, whose double-standards were significant, and was a staunch proponent of the War on Drugs, even though he reviewed DEA reports on the illicit drug trade which would have pointed to the corruption of CIA allies.

In 1978, Biden helped to write the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which permitted electronic surveillance by the President to acquire foreign intelligence information for a period of up to one year without a court order and sanctioned secret court proceedings.

A year earlier, Biden had been part of a joint investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research, chaired by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), on unethical government drug testing programs during the early Cold War.

One of the witnesses was Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, the CIAs “Dr. Death” who had spearheaded the Operation MK-ULTRA in which Lysergic Acid Diamelythide (LSD) was given to unwitting human guinea pigs as part of an effort to develop novel interrogation methods.

Gottlieb was asked about Dr. Frank Olson, a CIA biochemist at the army biological warfare center at Ft. Detrick Maryland and member of the CIAs Special Operations Division (SOD), who was thought to be a victim of MK-ULTRA. In November 1953, Olson was allegedly given LSD at a CIA retreat, and after a bad reaction, jumped to his death from the 13th floor of the Statler Hotel in New York City.

Forensics investigation, however, later determined that the cause of Olson’s death was blunt force trauma to the head. According to researcher Hank Albarelli Jr., two CIA hatchet men snuck into his hotel room through a side door and threw Olson out of the window while framing his death as a drug-induced suicide.

At the 1977 hearing, Dr. Robert Lashbrook, Olson’s hotel roommate and SOD colleague, committed perjury. Neither Biden nor his colleagues, however, challenged him in any way. The same was true of Dr. Gottlieb who perjured himself after being granted legal immunity in exchange for his testimony. Senator Edward Kennedy, the “liberal lion” concluded that his hearings “closed the book on this sorry chapter [the Olson affair]” which was framed as a “tragic accident.” The book was anything but closed though, and it was not an accident, but likely state sponsored murder of a man who threatened to blow the whistle on state secrets.

Biden should be judged as part of a generation of lawmakers who failed to reign in the “deep state.” Joe’s conversion from an opponent to a protector of the CIA in the 1970s set the groundwork for his Vice Presidency – and would do so for his presidency.

In the 2009 debate over the “surge” in Afghanistan, Biden characteristically wanted a small troop increase and more air strikes and drone attacks – the approach favored by the CIA. Biden also supported the CIA’s operations in Libya, Ukraine, Honduras, Venezuela and Syria, and backed the expansion of the private military industry under Obama, which is heavily dominated by the CIA.

In the next debate, Joe’s sparring partners should call him out for his dubious record on foreign policy and vow to work to curtail the power of the Executive Branch and “deep state.”

This would mark them as the real people’s choice.

Published:7/10/2019 10:05:13 PM
[Markets] US Probing Deutsche Bank's Dealings With Malaysia's 1MDB After Goldman Throws It Under The Bus

When it rains inside the halls of Deutsche Bank, the flood is biblical.

Just when it seemed that the biggest (if not for long) German bank, already reeling from the biggest mass layoffs since Lehman, couldn't possibly bear any more bad news, along comes the US government with yet another potentially criminal investigation, this time over Deutsche Bank's involvement with the sprawling, multibillion-dollar Malaysian development fraud scandal that toppled a prime minister, crippled Goldman Sachs stock and stretched from Hollywood to Wall Street.

According to the WSJ, the DOJ is investigating whether the German bank violated foreign corruption or anti-money-laundering laws in its work for the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. fund, or 1MDB, which included helping the fund raise $1.2 billion in 2014 as concerns about the fund’s management and financials had begun to circulate.

So how did Deutsche Bank get thrown into yet another scandal? It turns out that DB was snitched out by former Goldman banker, Tim Leissner, the man who was ground zero in the original 1MDB scandal, and who ended up costing Goldman billions in dollar in market cap as its stock tumbled last year as its role in the biggest Malaysian corruption scandal got exposed, and according to some, cost Lloyd Blankfein his job. As it turns out, Leissner is now cooperating with authorities, and among his "good Samaritan" duties decided to throw the one bank that has more dirt on it than Goldman: Deutsche Bank. As we have reported extensively in the past, prosecutors have been investigating similar issues at Goldman, where Leissner, a former managing director, pleaded guilty last year and admitted to earlier helping siphon off billions of dollars from the fund.

For those who are unfamiliar, a quick rundown of events: 1MDB, a sovereign wealth fund, turned into a major global scandal after billions of dollars were drained from it between 2009 and 2014, leading to multiple government investigations and the downfall of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak who was especially close with former US president, Barak Obama.

The DOJ has said the stolen money totals at least $4.5 billion and that it was used to pay bribes to government officials, pad a slush fund controlled by the former prime minister and purchase hundreds of millions of dollars in luxury goods including jewelry, artwork and real estate.

So yes, one should have probably expected Deutsche Bank to be involved.

But what does Goldman, and Leissner, get in exchange? Apparently a settelment. From the WSJ:

Meanwhile, the Justice Department is set to begin negotiations with Goldman soon to try to resolve allegations through a possible criminal settlement, a senior official said. “We do anticipate getting into active discussions with Goldman, at this point, in the near future,” Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski, who runs the agency’s criminal division, said in an interview. He declined to comment on any other aspect of the 1MDB investigation.

As the Journal further notes, prosecutors are focused, in particular, on the role of one of Leissner’s former colleagues, Tan Boon-Kee, who worked with Mr. Leissner on 1MDB-related business. She then left Goldman to become Asia Pacific head of banking for financial-institutions clients at Deutsche Bank, "where she was involved with further 1MDB dealings."

Ms. Tan left Deutsche Bank last year, after the bank discovered communications between her and Jho Low, the Malaysian financier described by the Justice Department as the central player in the 1MDB scandal, according to a person familiar with her exit. Neither she nor the bank have commented publicly about the reason for her departure.

“Deutsche Bank has cooperated fully with all regulatory and law-enforcement agencies that have made inquiries relating to 1MDB,” a spokesman for the bank said. He cited Justice Department documents saying 1MDB made “material misrepresentations and omissions to Deutsche Bank officials” in connection with 1MDB’s transactions with the bank. “This is consistent with the bank’s own findings in this matter,” he added.

What is notable is that whereas Goldman Sachs received the most for its involvement in the 1MDB scandal and for helping the Malaysian fund raise $6.5 billion of bonds and the role of Leissner as a key co-conspirator in the scheme to steal money, the German bank had so far managed to avoid the spotlight.

But, as we now learn, Deutsche Bank, too, played a large role in a variety of transactions related to 1MDB. In fact, DB's role may even be greater than that of Goldman: in the most recent version of the Justice Department’s civil asset-forfeiture complaint, in which it details the 1MDB scheme at length, Deutsche Bank is mentioned 167 times. Goldman Sachs is mentioned 56 times.

The complaint says Deutsche Bank was involved with 1MDB from its earliest days in 2009 as the bank facilitating financial transfers related to 1MDB’s first big deal, a joint venture with a little-known Swiss company called PetroSaudi. The Justice Department alleges that a group of conspirators led by Mr. Low, the Malaysian financier, stole some $1 billion from the $1.8 billion contribution by 1MDB, but it doesn’t describe any failing of Deutsche Bank in the complaint. PetroSaudi has denied any wrongdoing.

Deutsche Bank also arranged emergency loans for 1MDB in 2014 totaling $1.2 billion. The Justice Department said that money was also mostly stolen by Mr. Low and his co-conspirators. The bank called in the loan early, however, when it realized 1MDB’s collateral was impossible to verify, and 1MDB got an Abu Dhabi sovereign-wealth fund it often worked with to extend a $1 billion loan to replace Deutsche Bank, according to the complaint and Malaysian investigative documents.

The bottom line is that whereas Deutsche Bank probably did not engage in outright criminal fraud, its anti-money laundering process and "Know Your Client" protocols will be closely scrutinized, even if the banker(s) who were in charge of these activities are likely long gone.

But wait, there's more!

Because roughly at the same time as DB's potential role in the 1MDB scandal was exposed by the WSJ, both the NYT and Bloomberg reported that the German bank had extended relations with yet another, even more scandalous figure: Jeffrey Epstein.

According to NYT, Epstein "appears to have been doing business and trading currencies through Deutsche Bank until just a few months ago."  But as the possibility of federal charges loomed, the bank ended its client relationship with Epstein. It is not clear what the value of those accounts were at the time they were closed.

Bloomberg confirms, reporting that "Deutsche Bank severed business ties with Jeffrey Epstein earlier this year, just as federal authorities were preparing to charge the financier with operating a sex-trafficking ring of underage girls out of his opulent homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach."

The German bank, itself a subject of unrelated government investigations, closed Epstein’s accounts over several months, according to a person familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters.

It’s unclear how much money was involved or how long Epstein was a customer of Deutsche Bank, which maintained the accounts long after he was convicted of sex crimes more than a decade ago.

The fact that DB has a connection not only with president Trump, for which it has become the subject of numerous subpoenas, but also with the scandalous, if mysterious, Epstein, assures that even more attention will befall on Deutsche Bank. And speaking of Epstein's mystery, Bloomberg reports that his Financial Trust Co. "had a $121 million investment in hedge fund firm DB Zwirn & Co., which shut down in 2008. Financial Trust also was also a major investor in Bear Stearns’s High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund, whose collapse helped ignite the global financial crisis."

But back to Deutsche Bank, which after its biggest corporate restructuring announcement in decades, one which will see roughly one in five of its employees be terminated, it now appears that the Frankfurt-based bank will be in the spotlight for even more unpleasant reasons, likely assuring that thousands more of DB workers are summarily and quietly let go in the coming months, as the barrage of non-stop bad news makes one wonder: maybe it's time for the bank to just turn off the lights...

Published:7/10/2019 8:33:14 PM
[Politics] Gallego (D): Obama Deportation Policy Created Crisis at the Border

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D., N.M.) criticized the Obama administration's deportation policies during a Wednesday morning appearance on MSNBC, saying the administration's policies were "too harsh" and "created the environment" at the southern border.

The post Gallego (D): Obama Deportation Policy Created Crisis at the Border appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/10/2019 12:30:35 PM
[Politics] WOOPS! House Oversight committee mistakenly uses Obama photo to attack Trump! Well this is hilarious. The House Oversight Committee tweeted out a photo yesterday from the Obama years in order to attack Trump for his border policies: The House Republicans on the committee . . . Published:7/10/2019 10:30:11 AM
[Politics] Many Still Know Someone Out of Work, Someone Who’s Given Up

Perhaps surprisingly, with unemployment rates at historic lows, more Americans say they know people who can’t find jobs, although the number is still well below findings during the Obama years. Democrats are the most pessimistic about the job market in the near future.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 47% of American Adults say they know someone who is out of work and looking for a job. That’s up from a low of 41% last October, but this finding ran from the high 60s to the low 80s during Barack Obama’s presidency. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on July 7-8, 2019 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.

Published:7/10/2019 9:38:38 AM
[Markets] Frustrated Judges Slam "Complicated" Obamacare Mess

When John McCain stymied a Republican-controlled Congress from gutting Obamacare back in the summer of 2017, he infuriated President Trump and sent pundit tongues wagging about how Republicans might never manage to kill the law.

Two years later, the Trump Administration is backing 19 Republican-controlled states, including Texas, in a lawsuit that they hope will eventually prompt the Supreme Court to invalidate the entire law - something it declined to do back in 2012, when Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court's liberals to preserve the law.

Medical

But first, the complicated legal mess must wind its way through the appeals courts, where a panel of judges is apparently having a hard time untangling the Trump administration's position, which is constantly in flux. As Bloomberg reports...

While the red states and the Trump administration are technically adversaries in this challenge, their lawyers sat at the same table during the hearing and told the judges they both think Obamacare is unlawful. However, Hawkins took pains to highlight inconsistencies that have developed in the Trump administration’s position, which left Flentje, the Justice Department lawyer, occasionally struggling to explain himself.

When the challenge was in the lower court, the Justice Department said it didn’t need a specific judicial order halting the ACA because the federal government would treat the judge’s decision as a nationwide injunction. Later, the Trump administration shifted gears and said it will keep enforcing Obamacare until a court orders it to stop. And last week, the administration shifted positions again to insist that lower-judge’s order only blocks Obamacare in states that sued to overturn it.

At a hearing this week before a panel of appeals-court judges, a DoJ lawyer effectively begged the court to resolve the issue, much like the Supreme Court did when it legalized gay marriage nation-wide.

Several times, Flentje seemed to almost beg the judges to resolve the impasse between the White House and Congress, as the Supreme Court did when Obama refused to defend the federal law denying recognition to same-sex marriages.

"The courts then said this was a reasonable way to let the judicial branch have the final say," Flentje sai. "The Supreme Court discussed this conundrum and said it’s a reasonable way, especially when we have a complicated statute that covers a lot of ground."

A gang of attorneys appeared before the panel during the hearing, including a lawyer representing the White House, a lawyer representing Congress, and a hodge podge of attorneys representing the red states (who are challenging the law) and the blue states (who are defending it).

But the judges at times sounded confused about the administration's position to invalidate the law in states that are challenging the federal legislation, but let it stand in the blue states that want it.

"Why does Congress want the judiciary to be a taxidermist for every big-game legislative accomplishment it achieves?" the rookie on the panel, Kurt Engelhardt, an appointee of President Donald Trump, asked the lawyer representing the U.S. House of Representatives during a lively hearing in New Orleans.

Another judge didn’t understand how the federal government thinks it can administer a law it believes is completely unconstitutional in just parts of the country.

"You want to strike it down, only in certain states, in its entirety?" U.S. Circuit Judge Jennifer Elrod, appointed by President George W. Bush, asked a lawyer for the Justice Department.

"A lot of this stuff has to be sorted out, and it’s complicated," replied the attorney, August Flentje, as he shifted uncomfortably. "We haven’t gone down that road yet."

Whatever happens, most expect the Supreme Court to have the final say. And with President Trump's appointment of two very conservative judges (Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch), it's likely that the court might be more predisposed to issue a bold ruling that invalidates the law in its entirety, potentially ending health coverage for 20 million people just as the 2020 campaign is heating up.

Published:7/10/2019 5:19:25 AM
[Markets] Weaponizing The Dollar Has Accelerated The Demise Of The US Empire

Authored by Patrick Lawrence via ConsortiumNews.com,

The Trump administration’s incessant sanctions wars are curbing the dollar’s global hegemony and speeding the demise of U.S. empire...

The signs are mounting steadily now. As the Trump administration weaponizes the dollarin defense of American hegemony, it is prompting many other nations to find alternatives to the U.S. currency as the default medium of exchange. The long-term implications of this swiftly advancing trend, evident among allies as well as those Washington considers adversaries, cannot be overstated: At stake is the longevity of America’s global preeminence.

The just-concluded Group of 20 session in Osaka, Japan, was a dramatic demonstration of how quickly “de-dollarization” efforts are coalescing. And the pattern could not be clearer: The Trump administration’s incessant use of unilateral economic and financial sanctions against perceived enemies, which is almost certainly without precedent, is high among the reasons these efforts now gather momentum at a pace few in the financial markets or in official circles anticipated.

Trump and U.S. team meet with Xi Jinping and Chinese delegation, June 29, 2019, at G-20 in Osaka. (White House/Shealah Craighead)

The impulse to international trade and financial transactions has been evident for some time. Russia has actively encouraged its trading partners to avoid the dollar in favor of local currencies since Washington imposed sanctions against Russia following the U.S.–cultivated coup in Ukraine five years ago. Russia is now recruiting other nations to participate in its alternative to the U.S.–controlled SWIFT bank-messaging system. China has set up a parallel mechanism, the Cross­–Border Interbank Payments System.    

China launched an oil-futures market denominated in yuan little more than a year ago. Its annual turnover is already the equivalent of $2.5 trillion. The Shanghai Futures Exchange, where oil futures are traded, recently announced plans to offer forward contracts in rubber, nonferrous metals, and other commodities — all to be transacted in yuan.

The G–20 gathering marked an important step for these de-dollarization efforts. France, Germany, and Britain announced on the opening day that a trading system developed over the past year to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran — and any entity transacting with it — is now operational. The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, or Instex, replaces the Special Purpose Vehicle Europeans devised a year ago. All three sponsors, along with Russia, China, and the U.S., are signatories of the 2015 accord governing Iran’s nuclear programs, which the U.S. repudiated last year.

Salvaging the Nuclear Deal

Instex is intended to salvage the multi-sided agreement without U.S. participation.  And Iranian media reported that the Islamic Republic put in place a corresponding system, the Special Trade and Finance Instrument, last spring. It is not clear how effective Instex will prove in practice or whether it will be enough to persuade Tehran to remain within the bounds of the nuclear accord. The initial signs are mixed: Iran said Sunday that it will begin enriching uranium beyond the pact’s limits; in making the announcement, a foreign ministry official also indicated that Tehran wants to save the agreement.

Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building, Washington, D.C. (Ron Dicker, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

However well Instex performs, its geopolitical significance is evident. It effectively institutionalizes a rift in the trans–Atlantic alliance that has widened steadily since the Obama administration force-marched the Europeans into the sanctions against Russia after the Ukraine crisis broke open. Instex is also the most important attempt to date to challenge the dollar’s hegemony as the world’s trading and reserve currency.

The Osaka G–20 meeting had other surprises. In a major speech before the opening session began, Vladimir Putin urged other members of the BRICS nations —Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — to increase the proportion of its trade conducted in currencies other than the dollar. Given the Russian president spoke at a leading international forum, this was his most pointed challenge to dollar hegemony to date.

And it starts to look like a concerted effort. Izvestia, the Russian daily, reported simultaneously that the Russian Finance Ministry and the People’s Bank of China, China’s central bank, had just signed an agreement to increase ruble-denominated and yuan-denominated trade to as much as half of bilateral transactions. No timetable for this shift was reported.

BRICS nations together account for not quite a quarter of global economic output. Last spring theytested a payment system intended to allow users to meet financial obligations in local currencies — an undertaking Putin plainly had in mind when he spoke in Osaka.

Profligate Use of Sanctions

The Trump administration’s profligate use of sanctionsthey are currently in place against roughly 20 nations, most prominently Iran, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Koreadid not inspire the current de-dollarization phenomenon. Trump’s Washington merely forced it forward. It also weakens trust in the dollar every time it freezes the assets of designated adversaries such as Venezuela, or companies and individuals residing in “enemy” nations such as Russia and Iran.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Trump during G-20 in Osaka, June 28, 2019. (White House/ Shealah Craighead)

It is remarkable that this administration so far fails to recognize that it is doing at least as much damage to the dollar’s credibility as any nation planning to circumvent its use. Washington never learns, it seems. Even before the Europeans unveiled Instex in Osaka, the Treasury Department had alreadythreatened to sanction the system’s sponsors and anyone who uses it. 

The speed with which other nations now seek alternatives to the dollar is also a remarkable feature of the de-dollarization phenomenon. Competition among reserve currencies has long been a recurring topic in financial markets. But until now the end of dollar hegemony has commonly been considered a far-off development unlikely to occur in the lifetime of anyone now living. This is no longer likely to be so.

It is important, however, not to read too much into Instex and other recent developments. The dollar is not balanced on any precipice of imminent decline. It still accounts for roughly two-thirds of global foreign exchange reserves, according to the International Monetary Fund. A far higher proportion of international transactions are still conducted in the U.S. currency. It remains likely that a serious challenge to dollar hegemony is still a matter of a decade or more in the future.

But this challenge is now coming. This is how the news from Osaka, Instex, the recent Sino­–Russian agreement, and the efforts of the BRICS are best understood; as the first steps in the mounting of this challenge. Washington’s defense against it will be fierce, harming the lives of many.

The dollar is the cornerstone of American power. The use of this power, at its most brazen and crude — the sword out of the sheath — is evident now in the sanctions wars. The U.S. can bring any nation it wants to its knees. It can freeze the assets of any entity that is invested in the U.S., has deposits in the U.S., or buys U.S. Treasury paper. Being the world’s sine qua non reserve currency puts the U.S. at the center of global commerce and induces dependence in reverse; everyone needs access to the dollar.

The currency’s decline, when it begins in earnest, will be a good measure of the American empire’s passing into the past.

Published:7/9/2019 11:16:53 PM
[Markets] Bidens Earned More Than $15 Million In The Past Two Years

While the topic of Joe Biden's financial assets is hardly as controversial as that of Donald Trump, on Tuesday it was revealed that the Democratic presidential front-runner and his wife Jill earned more than $15 million during the past two years - when they left the White House, - with the bulk of their income coming from payments for the memoirs they’ve each written since the former vice president left office in January 2017. The couple’s total income in 2017 was $11 million and nearly $4.6 million in 2018, according to filed tax returns.

Biden's campaign said that the vast majority of that income ($10,048,739 in 2017 and $3,236,764 in 2018) was derived from payments for the writing of two books: Joe's “Promise Me, Dad” and Jill's “Where the Light Enters,” as well as paid speaking engagements. Biden’s first book, an account of his son Beau’s death from cancer, topped bestseller lists in 2017.

Additionally, Joe Biden’s income in both years included about $400,000 from the University of Pennsylvania for his role as Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor, while Jill Biden took in a far lower $90,000 each year for her professorship at Northern Virginia Community College.

Biden’s financial disclosure also lists 47 speaking appearances; 30 were for his 2017 book “Promise Me, Dad.“

The couple's earnings from the books and speaking engagements were paid through so-called S-Corporations, which the campaign described as “a common method for taxpayers who have outside sources of income to consolidate their earnings and expenses.” The campaign also said Joe and Jill Biden employed staff and engaged contractors to support their work through their S-Corporations, known as “CelticCapri” and “Giacoppa”, according to Fox News.

Biden, who was never one of the wealthier members of Congress during his decades as a senator, has seen his fortunes turn considerably since the end of Obama administration. During a four-decade political career, Biden brought home little more than his government salary.

Yet despite the turn in his fortune and his generous income in the past two years, the couple's assets are materially smaller, and excluding retirement plans, the Bidens hold between $500,000 and $1.2 million in cash and have S-corpoprations with between $1 million and $5 million, and $500,000 and $1 million.

The leading Democrat in the 2020 presidential race, who has now made public the last 21 years of tax returns, has moved into a $5 million mansion outside Washington since he left the White House.

“Middle-Class Joe” more recently has resided in a 12,000-square-foot home in McLean, Va., that came complete with “five bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, marble fireplaces, a gym and a sauna,” The Washington Post reported last month. The home was rented from multi-millionaire Mark Ein.

 

 

Published:7/9/2019 5:14:18 PM
[The Blog] McConnell on his family’s past: Like Obama, my family owned slaves, and like Obama, I oppose reparations

Likenesses.

The post McConnell on his family’s past: Like Obama, my family owned slaves, and like Obama, I oppose reparations appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:7/9/2019 4:45:27 PM
[Uncategorized] McConnell: I Share Obama’s Position on Reparations

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said Tuesday he and former President Barack Obama had the same position on reparations: Both descendants of slaveholders, they also both opposed the notion of reparations.

The post McConnell: I Share Obama’s Position on Reparations appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/9/2019 2:13:42 PM
[Obama] Michelle Obama Calls America Racist for Dismissing Presidency Because ‘Black Man Did It’

The following article, Michelle Obama Calls America Racist for Dismissing Presidency Because ‘Black Man Did It’, was first published on Godfather Politics.

Former first lady Michelle Obama called the United States racist for supposedly dismissing how hard the presidency is because a black man once did it.

Continue reading: Michelle Obama Calls America Racist for Dismissing Presidency Because ‘Black Man Did It’ ...

Published:7/9/2019 1:12:49 PM
[Uncategorized] NBC News Finds Slave Owners in McConnell’s Family History. Will They do the Same to Other Politicians? Obama's family owned slaves and he came out against reparations. Where's the report on him? Published:7/9/2019 12:23:29 PM
[Iran] Liberal Claim That Iran Complied W/JCPOA Before Trump Withdrew Is A LIE

The following article, Liberal Claim That Iran Complied W/JCPOA Before Trump Withdrew Is A LIE, was first published on Godfather Politics.

There's no way to know if Iran is complying with the JCPOA because those "anywhere, anytime" inspections Obama and Kerry promised are as real as unicorns.

Continue reading: Liberal Claim That Iran Complied W/JCPOA Before Trump Withdrew Is A LIE ...

Published:7/9/2019 10:15:33 AM
[Markets] The Strange Case Of Chrystia Freeland And The Failure Of The "Super Elite"

Authored by Matthew Ehret via OrientalReview.org,

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has become a bit of a living parody of everything wrong with the detached technocratic neo-liberal order which has driven the world through 50 years of post-industrial decay. Now, two years into the Trump presidency, and five years into the growth of a new system shaped by the Russia-China alliance, the world has become a very different place from the one which Freeland and her controllers wish it to be.

Chrystia Freeland

Having been set up as a counterpart to the steely Hillary Clinton who was supposed to win the 2016 election, Freeland and her ilk have demonstrated their outdated thinking in everything they have set out to achieve since the 2014 coup in Ukraine. Certainly before that, everything seemed to be going smoothly enough for End of History disciples promoting a script that was supposed to culminate in a long-sought for “New World Order”.

The Script up until Now

Things were going especially well since the collapse of the Soviet system in the early 1990s. The collapse ushered in a unipolar world order with the European Union and NAFTA, followed soon thereafter by the World Trade Organization and the 1999 destruction of Glass-Steagall. The trans-Atlantic at last was converted into a cage of “post-sovereign nations” that no longer had actual control of their own powers of credit generation. Under NATO, even national militaries were subject to technocratic control. This cage was perfect for the governing elite “scientifically managing” from above while the little people bickered over their diminishing employment and standards of living from below.

Even though the former Soviet bloc nations were in tatters by 1992, their sovereign powers could only be undone by applying the liberalization process which took 30 years in the west in a short space of only a decade. This was done under the direction of such monetarist “reformers” such as Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar under Yeltsin. Similar privatization and liberalization reforms were applied viciously to Ukraine and other Warsaw pact countries during the same period. Those pirates that became the “nouveau riche” of the west were joined by such contemporary modern oligarchs such as Oleg Deripaska, Boris Berezovksy, Mikhail Fridman, Roman Abramovich in Russia, alongside Petro Poroshenko, Rinat Akhmetov, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Viktor Pinchuk of Ukraine (to name a few). Not to forget their spiritual roots, many of these oligarchs soon purchased houses in the swank upmarket sections of London which has come to be known as “Moscow on Thames.”

By the end of the 1990s a new phase of this de-nationalization was unleashed with the unveiling of the Blair doctrine explicitly calling for a “post-Westphalia” world order which unleashed a wave of hellish regime change wars in the Arab World beginning with 9-11, and with a long term intention to target Libya, Syria, Iran, and Lebanon while expanding NATO’s hegemony against the potential re-emergence of Russia and China.

The Economic Meltdown Was Always the Intention

Let’s be clear: the whole point of the post-1971 world was directed with the intention of destroying the moral-political and economic foundations for western society. The belief in scientific progress and industrial growth was the cause of all true progress from the 15th century Golden Renaissance to the assassinations of the 1960s. The intended consequences of this post-1971 (zero growth) policy were:

1) The destruction of the productive forces of labor vis a vis outsourcing to “cheap labour markets” driven by shareholder profit.

2) The consolidation of wealth into an ever smaller array of private multi-billionaire owners under a logic of Darwinian survival of the fittest.

3) The creation of a vast speculative bubble supported by ever greater rates of unpayable debt and totally detached from the physically productive forces of reality.

Just like 1929, after years of speculation known as the roaring twenties, the “plug could be pulled” on the bubble in order to impose a bit of shock therapy onto a sleeping population who would beg for fascism as a solution if only it would put bread on their tables. Though this plan failed 80 years ago due to the American rejection of fascism under President Roosevelt, the belief that the formula could succeed in the 21st century was adhered to most closely as long as America was brought firmly under control of the City of London and their Wall Street lackies.

Although the fascist “solution” to their manufactured crisis was put down during WWII, this new attempt was premised upon the policy that a new system of Global Government managed by draconian regulation would be imposed under a “Green New Deal” framework whereby the instruments of banking regulation, state directed capital and centralized government (not evils unto themselves), would be directed only to green, low energy flux density forms of energy which inherently lower the population of the earth. This is very different from the protectionism, bank regulation, state credit and central authority exerted by America during the 1930s New Deal (or Eurasian New Silk Road policy today). The difference is that one system empowers sovereign nations, and increases the productive powers of labor and energy flux density of humanity while increasing quality of life, the other “Green” agenda has the opposite effect whereby monetary incentives are tied to decreasing the “carbon footprint” of the earth. The image of a drug addict getting paid heroine as an incentive to bleed himself to death is useful here.

With the slow collapse of first world economies after the assassination of nationalist leaders in the 1960s, the plan for depopulation and global government seemed to be unfolding without serious opposition.

The Role of Chrystia Freeland

Freeland’s bizarre role in this whole affair was to do what every good Rhodes Scholar is conditioned to do upon their completion of their indoctrination at Oxford: facilitate the tough transition of the “pre-collapse” world economy into a new operating system that was meant to be the “green post-collapse” world economy. It wasn’t going to be easy to tell a new “pirate class” of billionaires that they would have to accept losing much of their wealth (less population equals less money), and operate under a strict new global operating system of regulation necessary to contract the society. The Rhodes Scholarship program begun in 1902 to advance a re-organized British Empire and had worked alongside the Fabian Society for over a century producing more than 7000 scholars who have permeated across all fields of society (media, education, government, military and corporate).

In his 1877 will, Cecil Rhodes said this group should be “a society which should have its members in every part of the British Empire working with one object and one idea we should have its members placed at our universities and our schools and should watch the English youth passing through their hands just one perhaps in every thousand would have the mind and feelings for such an object, he should be tried in every way, he should be tested whether he is endurant, possessed of eloquence, disregardful of the petty details of life, and if found to be such, then elected and bound by oath to serve for the rest of his life in his Country. He should then be supported if without means by the Society and sent to that part of the Empire where it was felt he was needed.”

After leaving Oxford in 1993, Chrystia Freeland learned the ropes of “perception management” by working for the London Economist, Washington Post, Financial times and Globe and Mail and Reuters. After serving a stint as editor-at-large of Reuters, the time had come for her to play the role of Valery Jarrett to the “Barack Obama” of Canada then being prepped for Prime Ministership of Justin Trudeau.

She was perfect.

As an asset of the global propaganda system, Freeland had made high level contacts with those Ukrainian, Russian, and Western oligarchs mentioned above including Viktor Pinchuk and Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Larry Summers, George Soros and Al Gore, were just a few players in the west whom she considered her “close friends” and whom she was happy to bring into Canada during the period of re-organization of the Liberal Party (2011-2014) as it prepared to take power under the banner of the Canada 2020 think tank. What made Freeland even more special was that she was bred from a zealous family of Ukrainian nationalists under the patriarchy of her Nazi grandfather Michael Chomiak. This network was brought to Canada after WWII by Anglo-American intelligence and cultivated as a force with ties to pro-Nazi Ukrainian counterparts ever since.

Freeland’s admission into politics was managed by another Rhodes Scholar named Bob Rae who served as interim controller of the Liberal Party during several of the Harper years and was a major player in Canada 2020. Rae, who had been the NDP Premier of Ontario from 1990-1995 was happy to abdicate his seat to Freeland ensuring her entry into Trudeau’s inner circle and thus becoming his official handler.

Freeland Promotes the New Global Elite

Freeland has made it clear that she understands well that there is a fundamental difference in cultural identities of the “new rich” relative to the older oligarchic families which she serves. In the 2011 Rise of the New Global Elite, she describes it as follows:

“To grasp the difference between today’s plutocrats and the hereditary elite, who “grow rich in their sleep” one need merely glance at the events that now fill high-end social calendars.”

Freeland then breaks down the categories of “new plutocrats” into two subcategories: the good, technocratic friendly plutocrats who are ideologically compatible with the New World Order of depopulation, such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, George Soros, et al and the “bad” plutocrats who tend not to conform to the British Empire’s program of global governance and depopulation under the green agenda. In Freeland’s world “good oligarchs” are those who adhere to this agenda, while “bad oligarchs” are those who do not. Trump is a terrible Plutocrat, and – Viktor Yanukovych was a good plutocrat until he decided to not sacrifice Ukraine on the altar of the collapsing European Union and chose to throw Ukraine’s destiny into the Eurasian Economic Union in October 2013.

In the same paper, Freeland wrote:

“if the plutocrats’ opposition to increases in their taxes and tighter regulation of their economic activities is understandable, it is also a mistake. The real threat facing the super-elite, at home and abroad, isn’t modestly higher taxes, but rather the possibility that inchoate public rage could cohere into a more concrete populist agenda– that, for instance, middle-class Americans could conclude that the world economy isn’t working for them and decide that protectionism… is preferable to incremental measures.” Quoting billionaire Mohamed El-Erian, the CEO of Pimco she wrote: “one of the big surprises of 2010 is that the protectionist dog didn’t bark.”

Freeland ended her article with this message:

“The lesson of history is that, in the long run, super-elites have two ways to survive: by suppressing dissent or by sharing their wealth… Let us hope the plutocrats aren’t already too isolated to recognize this”.

But what does Freeland really think of the technocratic management under a plutocratic governance of society? In Plutocrats vs. Populists (Nov. 2013), Freeland lets her pro-plutocratic worldview out of the bag when she gushes:

“At its best, this form of plutocratic political power offers the tantalizing possibility of policy practiced at the highest professional level with none of the messiness and deal making and venality of traditional politics… a technocratic, data-based, objective search for solutions to our problems”

Since a technocratic managerial class committed to a common ideology must be solidified for this system to work, Freeland goes on to make the case to recruit young people to the imperial civil service:

“Smart, publicly minded technocrats go to work for plutocrats whose values they share. The technocrats get to focus full time on the policy issues they love, without the tedium of building, rallying– and serving– a permanent mass membership. They can be pretty well paid to boot.”

The End of a Delusion?

Now that Russia and China’s new operating system shaped by the Belt and Road Initiative has created a force of opposition to this British-run Deep State design, nothing which those would-be gods of Olympus have attempted to achieve has succeeded. Syria stands strong and the Arab nations are increasingly joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Venezuela has failed to fall the way so many regimes have done before 2014 and NAFTA has been seriously challenged by a nationalistic president in the USA who has also totally rejected the Malthusian agenda with the killing of COP21 and the Green New Deal. Trudeau’s usefulness has withered away quicker than you can say “SNC Lavalin” and now the decision appears to be seriously humored whether Freeland will take the reins of Canada after Trudeau is eliminated in order to “preserve the dying British Empire” and the dream of Cecil Rhodes. While the universe may be organized by a principle of reason, no one can say the same applies to the mind of an oligarchic.

Published:7/8/2019 11:12:49 PM
[Markets] From Russia-Gate To Deep-State-Gate: "All Hell May Break Loose"

Authored by Ray McGovern via ConsortiumNews.com,

The Deep State almost always wins. But if AG Barr leans hard on Trump to unfetter investigators, all hell may break lose, because the evidence against those who took serious liberties with the law is staring them all in the face...

 

As Congress arrives back into town and the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees prepare to question ex-Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller on July 17, partisan lines are being drawn even more sharply, as Russias-gate blossoms into Deep-State-gate. In Sunday, a top Republican legislator, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) took the gloves off in an unusually acerbic public attack on former leaders of the FBI and CIA.

King told a radio audience: “There is no doubt to me there was severe, serious abuses that were carried out in the FBI and, I believe, top levels of the CIA against the President of the United States or, at that time, presidential candidate Donald Trump,” according to The Hill.

King, a senior congressman specializing in national security, twice chaired the House Homeland Security Committee and currently heads its Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. He also served for several years on the House Intelligence Committee.

He asserted:

“There was no legal basis at all for them to begin this investigation of his campaign – and the way they carried it forward, and the way information was leaked. … All of this is going to come out. It’s going to show the bias. It’s going to show the baselessness of the investigation … and I would say the same thing if this were done to Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders …It’s just wrong.”

The Long Island Republican added a well aimed swipe at what passes for the media today: “The media went along with this – actually, keeping this farcical, ridiculous thought going that the President of the United States… was somehow involved in a conspiracy with Russia against his own country.”

King: Lashes out.

According to King, the Justice Department’s review, ordered by Attorney General William Barr, would prove that former officials acted improperly. He was alluding to the investigation led by John Durham, U.S. Attorney in Connecticut. Sounds nice. But waiting for Durham to complete his investigation at a typically lawyerly pace would, I fear, be much like the experience of waiting for Mueller to finish his; that is, like waiting for Godot. What about now?

So Where is the IG Report on FISA?

That’s the big one. If Horowitz is able to speak freely about what he has learned, his report could lead to indictments of former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Attorneys General Sally Yates and Rod Rosenstein, and Dana Boente — Boente being the only signer of the relevant FISA applications still in office. (No, he has not been demoted to file clerk in the FBI library; at last report, he is FBI General Counsel!).

The DOJ inspector General’s investigation, launched in March 2018, has centered on whether the FBI and DOJ filing of four FISA applications and renewals beginning in October 2016 to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page amounted to abuse of the FISA process. (Fortunately for the IG, Obama’s top intelligence and law enforcement officials were so sure that Hillary Clinton would win that they did not do much to hide their tracks.)

The Washington Examiner reported last Tuesday, “The Justice Department inspector general’s investigation of potential abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is complete, a Republican congressman said, though a report on its findings might not be released for a month.”  The report continued:

“House Judiciary Committee member John Ratcliffe (R, Texas) said Monday he’d met with DOJ watchdog Michael Horowitz last week about his FISA abuse report. In a media interview, Ratcliffe said they’d discussed the timing, but not the content of his report and Horowitz ‘related that his team’s investigative work is complete and they’re now in the process of drafting that report. Ratcliffe said he was doubtful that Horowitz’s report would be made available to the public or the Congress anytime soon. ‘He [Horowitz] did relay that as much as 20% of his report is going to include classified information, so that draft report will have to undergo a classification review at the FBI and at the Department of Justice,’ Ratcliffe said. ‘So, while I’m hopeful that we members of Congress might see it before the August recess, I’m not too certain about that.’”

Horowitz: Still waiting for his report.

Earlier, Horowitz had predicted that his report would be ready in May or June but there may, in fact, be good reason for some delay. Fox News reported Friday that “key witnesses sought for questioning by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz early in his investigation into alleged government surveillance abuse have come forward at the 11th hour.” According to Fox’s sources, at least one witness outside the Justice Department and FBI has started cooperating — a breakthrough that came after Durham was assigned to lead a separate investigation into the origins of the FBI’s 2016 Russia case that led to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

“Classification,” however, has been one of the Deep State’s favorite tactics to stymie investigations — especially when the material in question yields serious embarrassment or reveals crimes. And the stakes this time are huge.

Judging by past precedent, Deep State intelligence and law enforcement officials will do all they can to use the “but-it’s-classified” excuse to avoid putting themselves and their former colleagues in legal jeopardy. (Though this would violate Obama’s executive order 13526, prohibiting classification of embarrassing or criminal information).

It is far from clear that DOJ IG Horowitz and Attorney General Barr will prevail in the end, even though President Trump has given Barr nominal authority to declassify as necessary. Why are the the stakes so extraordinarily high?

What Did Obama Know, and When Did He Know It?

Recall that in a Sept. 2, 2016 text message to the FBI’s then-deputy chief of counterintelligence Peter Strzok, his girlfriend and then-top legal adviser to Deputy FBI Director McCabe, Lisa Page, wrote that she was preparing talking points because the president “wants to know everything we’re doing.”[Emphasis added.] It does not seem likely that the Director of National Intelligence, DOJ, FBI, and CIA all kept President Obama in the dark about their FISA and other machinations — although it is possible they did so out of a desire to provide him with “plausible denial.”

It seems more likely that Obama’s closest intelligence confidant, Brennan, told him about the shenanigans with FISA, that Obama gave him approval (perhaps just tacit approval), and that Brennan used that to harness top intelligence and law enforcement officials behind the effort to defeat Trump and, later, to emasculate and, if possible, remove him.

Moreover, one should not rule out seeing in the coming months an “Obama-made-us-do-it” defense — whether grounded in fact or not — by Brennan and perhaps the rest of the gang. Brennan may even have a piece of paper recording the President’s “approval” for this or that — or could readily have his former subordinates prepare one that appears authentic.

Reining in Devin Nunes

That the Deep State retains formidable power can be seen in the repeated Lucy-holding-then-withdrawing-the-football-for-Charlie Brown treatment experienced by House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member, Devin Nunes (R-CA). On April 5, 2019, in the apparent belief he had a green light to go on the offensive, Nunes wrote that committee Republicans “will soon be submitting criminal referrals on numerous individuals involved … in the abuse of intelligence for political purposes. These people must be held to account to prevent similar abuses from occurring in the future.”

Nunes: Still waiting for his referrals. (Flickr)

On April 7, Nunes was even more specific, telling Fox News that he was preparing to send eight criminal referrals to the Department of Justice “this week,” concerning alleged misconduct during the Trump-Russia investigation, including leaks of “highly classified material” and conspiracies to lie to Congress and the FISA court. It seemed to be no-holds-barred for Nunes, who had begun to talk publicly about prison time for those who might be brought to trial.

Except for Fox, the corporate media ignored Nunes’s explosive comments. The media seemed smugly convinced that Nunes’s talk of “referrals” could be safely ignored — even though a new sheriff, Barr, had come to town. And sure enough, now, three months later, where are the criminal referrals?

There is ample evidence that President Trump is afraid to run afoul of the Deep State functionaries he inherited. And the Deep State almost always wins. But if Attorney General Barr leans hard on the president to unfetter Nunes, IG Horowitz, Durham and like-minded investigators, all hell may break lose, because the evidence against those who took serious liberties with the law is staring them all in the face.

Published:7/8/2019 9:09:26 PM
[Russia investigation] Who’s Flipped? (John Hinderaker) At the Daily Wire, Ryan Saavedra postulates a breakthrough in DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s investigation into alleged FISA abuse against the Trump campaign. Saavedra reports that “at least one witness has started to cooperate in the investigation.” Fox News also reports that an Obama administration official has flipped. Saavedra suggests that the official most likely to be cooperating with Horowitz’s investigation (which in turn, as I understand it, is Published:7/8/2019 8:07:35 PM
[The Blog] “Forever First Lady” Michelle Obama blasts Trump inauguration at Essence Festival

The crowd was not reflective of a diverse country.

The post “Forever First Lady” Michelle Obama blasts Trump inauguration at Essence Festival appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:7/8/2019 7:40:13 PM
[Markets] Barr Weighs In On 2020 Citizenship Question, Recuses Self From Epstein Case

Attorney General William Barr said on Monday that the Trump administration can legally add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, which had been excluded for the first time in US history by President Obama. 

Barr told the Associated Press that he has been in regular contact with President Trump over the matter. 

"I agree with him that the Supreme Court decision was wrong," said Barr - referring to the USSC's June Decision to block the citizenship question, adding that there is "an opportunity potentially to cure the lack of clarity that was the problem and we might as well take a shot at doing that." 

According to the report, President Trump is likely to issue a presidential memorandum to the Commerce Department over the next several days ordering it to include the citizenship question.

Last week the Justice Department appeared to cave to legal pressure to keep the question off the census, only for President Trump to reverse course the next day - tweeting that the efforts to print the question would move forward. 

"The tweet this morning was the first I had heard of the president's position on this issue, just like the plaintiffs and Your Honor. I do not have a deeper understanding of what that means at this juncture other than what the president has tweeted," DOJ attorney Joshua Gardner told a federal judge during a Wednesday teleconference, adding "But obviously, as you can imagine, I am doing my absolute best to figure out what's going on." 

The DOJ on Sunday also announced that it would be replacing its entire legal team dealing with the citizenship issue - replacing them with other government attorneys. 

Barr recuses from Epstein

On Monday, Barr told reporters that he had recused himself from the case involving billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who was arrested over the weekend on charges of sex-trafficking minors, according to the Washington Times

Barr says that he used to work for one of the law firms representing Epstein "long ago," though he did not name the firm. 

Published:7/8/2019 6:07:26 PM
[Markets] Majority Of Americans Want Citizenship Question Included On 2020 Census

If President Trump follows through on his threats to issue an executive order to try and force the 'citizenship question' on to the 2020 census, a majority of Americans would have his back.

The latest Economist-YouGov poll found that 53% of Americans feel the census should include a question asking respondents whether or not they are citizens. Only 32% said they would oppose including such a question. Another 14% said they weren't sure how to answer.

YouGov

This was how the question from the Economist-YouGov poll was worded: "Do you think the federal government should, or should not, ask people whether they are American citizens as part of the 2020 census?"

The Supreme Court rejected including the question - or at least the way the Trump Administration would have worded it - on the 2020 census, but left the door open to another version, which Trump is reportedly considering, as the president revealed in a tweet last week.

Legal expert and George Washington University Law professor John Banzhaf told the Washington Examiner that what Trump is suggesting in the tweet above could absolutely be accomplished.

"There are several rationales - including one based upon the Constitution itself - which could well still persuade the courts to permit a citizenship question on the census, especially if the explanation were included in the executive order now being considered, rather than in some new declaration by the Secretary of Commerce," he said.

Much of the mainstream media coverage surrounding the 'citizenship question' has implied that President Trump is the first American President to ask that it be included in the census.

That's simply not accurate. The fact is, Trump is only trying to follow what until recently had been an established norm. President Obama was the first president to exclude the question on citizenship, naturalization and nativity in almost 200 years. The Trump Administration is merely undoing Obama's 8-year effort to distort the status quo.

ACS

 

Published:7/8/2019 5:39:24 PM
[Markets] Ilargi: Why Trump Will Win In 2020, And Easily

Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

July 7 2019, just another tequila Sunday. There are elections here in Greece, and the right wing will take over. Bad idea, because it will bring out the left wing resistance that have remained subdued while Syriza reneged on all their promises, but they were left wing, and how does left protesting left work exactly? They didn’t know. Better lay low. No more.

From now on in, it’s women and children first. And there are so many pent up grievances. Youth unemployment is still at 40%. While ever more Greeks are evicted from their homes through Airbnb alone. This ain’t gonna go well. That strong economy the right promises will be there exclusively for their own richer supporters, at the ever-increasing cost of the poor.

The US women’s soccer team just became World Champions again. That’s the last time in a very long time. Because traditional soccer countries now also have women’s teams. There’s a very peculiar division at the bottom of this. In Europe and South America and Africa, soccer is a men’s game.

In the US, baseball, hockey, basketball and American football have spent millions making sure soccer was turned into, and perceived as, a girly sport. Just so the best male athletes would not turn there. So the US, colleges, universities, have this decades-long tradition of women’s soccer. But they have no such tradition for men, while almost the entire rest of the world does.

That’s why the US women’s soccer team will never win again, and it’s also why the men’s team never will. No culture, no tradition, even as they easily could have them. This was very obvious to me in my Montreal days. In summer, in just about every city park, there were community and family gatherings of South- and Central Americans, and they were all playing soccer.

Still, Canada stinks at the game on an international level. Why? Because the hockey people don’t want the competition for male athletes. They cut it down wherever they can. All they would have to do is take the most promising 100 10-year old kids just playing in the parks in one city, and get them into a program. Within 10 years they’d have a national team that’s an international contender. Kids from Peru, Chili, Brazil, 100 different countries, and throw in the European kids that are there anyway. But no.

Still, I was going to talk about Trump again. Just to piss off the people some more who -stupidly- accuse me of supporting Trump.

Though it is sort of the same thing: Greek PM Tsipras is set to lose (no results yet as I write this) because he never did what he promised. US soccer is set to lose because other domestic sports don’t want it to be successful. People are -mostly- blind.

First I saw this UK ambassador to Washington, one Sir Kim Darroch, has sent “secret” cables (memos) to his government about how Trump’s administration is supposedly “inept, insecure and incompetent”, as well as “uniquely dysfunctional” and “divided”. “We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction-riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.”

“Differences between the US and the UK on climate change, media freedoms and the death penalty might come to the fore as the countries seek to improve trading relations after Brexit, the memos said.” Oh, fcuking yeah, the UK is such a shining light on climate change and press freedom, right?! Who’s holding a certain journalist, one Julian Assange, in a maximum security prison again?

“Mr Trump’s publicly stated reason for calling off an airstrike against Tehran with 10 minutes to go – that it would cause 150 casualties – “doesn’t stand up”, Sir Kim said. Instead, he suggested the president was “never fully on board”. When I read that line, I thought Sir Kim was not-even-so secretly in favor of attacking Iran. Was that just me?

Oh, and earlier today I was wondering if they ever hand out these Sir and Dame titles to people who are poor or even destitute but who work 25 hours a day for the people around them, to make sure they can alleviate the suffering in their communities as much as they can. Or does that mummified “Queen” of theirs only bestow that “honor” on the upper classes? No, I do not care, I think I know the answer. Inglan is a bitch.

And if I’ve ever seen a dysfunctional, “inept, insecure and incompetent” government, it’s the one that these secret memos were sent to. From Cameron to May to soon Boris Johnson, let get real.

Then also today there were all these news reports about Jeffrey Epstein on how he’s finally being charged with abusing dozens of underage on his planes and his estates. This has been going on for decades (who was in charge during those years). What is the media focus? Trump, of course. But Epstein was thrown out of Mar-A-Lago I think 12 years ago for hitting on an underage girl. Does that mean we know for sure Trump was never involved? Nope.

But we do know that Bill Clinton flew 26 times in a few years on Epstein’s ‘Lolita Express’ bringing helpss girls so faraway places. So maybe he should be the main focus here, not Trump. Then again, it’s too late in the game now, isn’t it? US -and UK- media have bet all their money on the anti-Trump game. They have lost everything so far, and then they double down, everything on red style.

I’m thinking: guys, you lost, time to find a new game plan. But they don’t have the flexibility nor the intelligence required. Aaron Maté wrote another scathing -must read- essay on theMueller Report , putting its credibiltiy at the same level as the Steele dossier, but one half of America doesn’t even want to see that. It only wants to see more damning reports, damn evidence, about their favorite orange piñata.

And no, talking about that does not make me a Trump supporter. Let’s say I’m looking at that like it were a game of soccer, and I point out to you that the other team has absolutely nothing while they’re already 10-0 down (that’s a very big score in soccer).

But a third thing i saw today really made me think Trump can’t lose in 2020. The Guardian of all places had a review of a book entitled American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War by Politico writer Tim Alberta, in which Trump effusively praises Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among other things by comparing her to Evita Peron.

“Trump says he first saw Ocasio-Cortez during her primary against Crowley, while watching TV with political advisers. “I see a young woman,” he says, “ranting and raving like a lunatic on a street corner, and I said: ‘That’s interesting, go back.’” Alberta then says Trump “became enamored” and “starstruck” by Ocasio-Cortez. “I called her Eva Perón,” Trump says. “I said, ‘That’s Eva Perón. That’s Evita.”

[..] Trump does row back on his praise, telling Alberta: “She’s got talent. Now, that’s the good news. The bad news: she doesn’t know anything. She’s got a good sense, an ‘it’ factor, which is pretty good, but she knows nothing. But with time, she has real potential.”

I still remain convinced that the one dimensional Trump haters, the same people who would accuse me of supporting him, don’t understand how or why that means he will win easily in 2020. Well, that, and they have nobody to put up against him. Joe Biden is not just a joke, he’s an old and stale joke. Kamala Harris is an attempt to cross Obama with Hillary. Bernie Sanders is a wonderful man, but he should be the campaign manager for a younger prospect, but who isn’t there.

And Tulsi Gabbard is being actively suppressed by the DNC, like Bernie Sanders four years ago. All the rest of the field are mere bystanders. It’s the exact same feeling of the GOP ‘contestants’ standing against Trump in 2016. They’re there to fill up space, and to create the illusion there’s an actual conversation or dialogue or contest happening.

Personally, I think it would be great if the Democrats have a valid candidate next year, at the level of Trump or better.

The Donald should have stayed in real estate. But instead he’s the President, and now everybody has to deal with that. And you don’t do that by continuing to blame him for everything that happens under the sun. That ‘tactic’ has failed for three years.

Those past 3 years of media bias against him, plus the Mueller report debacle, should have made this clear.

But what we see today is that neither the Democrats nor the press that supports them have anything to fight Trump with. While he compliments their main future asset for her talent, and for her likeness to a world-famous tragic actress-turned-politician and Broadway darling.

That’s why he’ll win.

Published:7/8/2019 4:36:48 PM
[World] Michelle Obama jokes she's 'surprised' daughters have friends after White House childhood The former first lady said the omnipresence of Secret Service agents made making friends, getting a first kiss and sleepovers difficult.
      
Published:7/8/2019 4:08:33 PM
[Markets] Lawsuit Seeks Hunter Biden State Department Records Amid Allegations Of Nepotism

A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit was filed on behalf of investigative journalist John Solomon, who seeks State Department records of communications with Hunter Biden, Devon Archer, and entities they are linked to - including Burisma Holdings, Rosemont Seneca Partners and/or Blue Star Strategies. 

According to investigations by journalist Peter Schweizer and others, the Bidens may have engaged in rampant nepotism, with Joe Biden accused of abusing his position as Vice President to help Hunter and his partners make millions of dollars in both Ukraine and China

In a recent article in the New Yorker, Hunter opened up about being a crackhead and accepting a 'bribe' from a Chinese energy tycoon in the form of a 2.8 carat diamond worth thousands of dollars, which he says wasn't a bribe. 

The filing was made by the Southeastern Legal Foundation on behalf of Solomon, after the State Department failed to respond to a May 6, 2019 letter by the investigative journalist. 

As Mr. Solomon has reported, U.S. banking records show that Hunter Biden’s American-based firm Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts (more than $166k/month) from the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Hunter Biden. All of this occurred during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relationship with Russia.

Two years after leaving office, Joe Biden couldn’t resist the temptation to brag to an audience of foreign policy specialists about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor. His threat was so severe that Ukraine would have lost $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees sending Ukraine toward insolvency. So the question is – why? Why did Joe Biden demand the immediate firing of Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin? And what did the State Department know about Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine and Ukraine’s investigations into those business dealings? -SLF

"[T]he now-completed Russia collusion investigation showed us, every American deserves the right to be presumed innocent until evidence is made public or a conviction is secured, especially when some matters of a case involve foreigners. The same presumption should be afforded to Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, Devon Archer and Burisma in the Ukraine case," said Solomon. 

"Nonetheless, some hard questions should be answered by Biden as he prepares, potentially, to run for president in 2020: Was it appropriate for your son and his firm to cash in on Ukraine while you served as point man for Ukraine policy? What work was performed for the money Hunter Biden’s firm received? Did you know about the Burisma probe? And when it was publicly announced that your son worked for Burisma, should you have recused yourself from leveraging a U.S. policy to pressure the prosecutor who very publicly pursued Burisma?" 

The FOIA requests seek to answer the above questions. "Mr. Solomon's questions, stemming from years-long investigative journalism, are powerful and legitimate inquiries into what the American public has a right to know about how and why Vice President Biden and the Obama administration conducted foreign policy in the last week of its tenure," according to SLF executive director, Todd Young. 

"The well-documented series of events involving Ukraine begs for public disclosure."

Published:7/8/2019 3:36:24 PM
[US News] Someone come get their granny, she’s scaring the KIDS! Maxine Waters’ latest charge to impeach Trump is her most insane YET

Maxine Waters has been screeching to impeach Trump for months (years) now, so we suppose we shouldn’t be surprised about what she thinks is impeachment-worthy but well … this is nutty, even for her. Remember Trump’s criticism of Obama golfing? The cost of Trump’s golfing is now $108M. Big spender Trump, disregarding the national debt […]

The post Someone come get their granny, she’s scaring the KIDS! Maxine Waters’ latest charge to impeach Trump is her most insane YET appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:7/8/2019 2:37:43 PM
[Politics] CNN Host Mocks Biden’s Constant Invocation of Obama

Biden has repeatedly invoked Obama's name, sometimes referring to him casually as "Barack" and "my buddy," as he seeks the 2020 presidential nomination. CNN ran a montage of recent examples, leading Inside Politics host John King to wonder if Biden was laying it on too thick.

The post CNN Host Mocks Biden’s Constant Invocation of Obama appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/8/2019 1:06:24 PM
[Politics] Michelle Obama claimed Obama admin had NO SCANDALS and CBS News host just agreed like a bobblehead… Michelle Obama ripped into Trump’s 2017 inauguration crowd saying that it didn’t ‘reflect’ what the country truly looks like, and also claimed that Obama had zero scandals during his 8 years as . . . Published:7/8/2019 10:35:58 AM
[Politics] Michelle Obama claimed Obama admin had NO SCANDALS and CBS News host just agreed like a bobblehead… Michelle Obama ripped into Trump’s 2017 inauguration crowd saying that it didn’t ‘reflect’ what the country truly looks like, and also claimed that Obama had zero scandals during his 8 years as . . . Published:7/8/2019 10:35:58 AM
[Politics] Obama DHS Secretary tries to walk 2020 Democrats BACK from “extreme” immigration positions… Former Obama DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson feels so strongly that 2020 Democrats are too “extreme” on immigration that he’s written a column in the Washington Post trying to walk them back from . . . Published:7/8/2019 9:36:06 AM
[Politics] Obama DHS Secretary tries to walk 2020 Democrats BACK from “extreme” immigration positions… Former Obama DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson feels so strongly that 2020 Democrats are too “extreme” on immigration that he’s written a column in the Washington Post trying to walk them back from . . . Published:7/8/2019 9:36:06 AM
[Politics] CBS Host: Obama Presidency Had ‘No Scandal’

CBS host Gayle King agreed with former First Lady Michelle Obama's assessment this weekend that her husband's administration had "no scandal."

The post CBS Host: Obama Presidency Had ‘No Scandal’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/8/2019 9:36:05 AM
[U.S. POLITICS] Trump’s Citizenship Question Isn’t Controversial. Obama Deleting It Should’ve Been.

Barack Obama was the first U.S. President to not include a question on nationality in the decennial census.

The post Trump’s Citizenship Question Isn’t Controversial. Obama Deleting It Should’ve Been. appeared first on Human Events.

Published:7/7/2019 1:28:48 PM
[Markets] Corporate America's Virtue-Signaling Is Opportunist, Dangerous, And Undermines The Spirit Of Capitalism

Authored by Robert Bridge via RT.com,

Once upon a time, the raison d'être of US companies was to simply make a buck. Those days are long gone. Today, corporations are in the business of radicalizing the country by taking sides in cultural standoffs.

Just in time for the Fourth of July festivities, which this year celebrates the 243rd anniversary of America’s independence, Nike decided to ignite a political firestorm the size of a Chinese fireworks factory, thereby further dividing the nation.

The Fortune 500 tennis shoe maker, with $30 billion in annual global sales, announced it would cancel the release of its ‘Air Max 1’ trainers after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick told the company “he and others” found the Betsy Ross-era flag that adorned the sneaker “offensive.” Why? Because the symbol was stitched at a time when slavery was still part of the fledgling nation’s experience. And since a handful of right-wing ‘white supremacist’ groups have reportedly been seen waving this flag (as well as former President Barack Obama, incidentally), which celebrates the original 13 US colonies and their successful fight against the British crown, suddenly it is deemed toxic and unworthy of the mighty Nike.

According to this warped logic, anything that came to fruition when slavery was still a thing – up to and including the Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776 – is eligible for eradication in history’s great dumpster fire.

So who is Colin Kaepernick, and why should Nike kneel to his demands? It might be better to say what Kaepernick is not. He is not a historian, he is not a marketing executive, and he is not even a professional football player. Today, Kaepernick could best be described as an activist and an agitator. In 2017, after a year of refusing to stand during the US national anthem in protest against police brutality, he opted out of his NFL contract, eventually settling with the league in a confidential agreement rumored to be worth many millions of dollars.

Incidentally, the ex-athlete starred in a 2018 Nike ad where he was featured before a huge American flag as the narrator said, “Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything.” Does “sacrificing everything” include the very country of your birth, as well as the very flag it represents? Is that really the sort of controversial message a US corporation, built on the solid foundation of American freedom and ingenuity, should be endorsing?

In any case, the bigger question here has little to do with Colin Kaepernick. The real question is: why do so many US corporations feel the need to take sides in the nation’s ongoing culture wars, triggered by political correctness and ‘social justice’ theory gone stark-raving mad? After all, this is not the first time America has passed through the fires of an existential challenge without the need for corporate sponsorship. In the 1960s and 70s, the country nearly tore itself apart during the anti-Vietnam War and Civil Rights battles, when violence on the streets between protesters and police was a daily occurrence. These social volcanoes brought to the surface a number of great orators and leaders, like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, individuals who did not cheapen their messages and work by appearing on TV with a Coca Cola, for example, or Nike footwear.

Without subscribing to any absurd Illuminati conspiracy theories, it would seem that the largest US corporations have an agenda that goes far beyond the simple capitalistic ambition of turning a profit. Much like the Silicon Valley titans of tech, many Fortune 500 companies simply cannot resist expressing their political views, especially in these turbulent ‘Times of Trump’ when so many otherwise intelligent people have lost their minds. After all, what could be the purpose of a corporation endorsing a fiercely contestable message that alienates at least 50 percent of the American population, not to mention their consumer base? 

The Gillette Company provides perhaps the best example of a corporation abandoning its primary mission – in this case, selling razor blades and shaving cream – to endear itself to the social warrior lunatic fringe.

Despite a massive public outcry (1.4 million thumbs down and counting) following Gillette’s puke-inducing lecture ad on ‘toxic masculinity’ which showed American men abandoning their backyard barbecues en masse to (finally) teach their malevolent male offspring that bullying is bad, they waded back into the deep end of the public swimming pool, this time to make a pitch for transgender lifestyles. Without venturing into the politics of the idea, which essentially says that men and women can become the opposite sex regardless of their biological sex at birth, it is enough to wonder exactly what the company hopes to gain by appealing to an infinitesimal segment of the population that risks – once again – alienating millions of dedicated consumers who just want a close shave.  

Even ice cream companies now feel the need to flash their political identities while diving headlong into the cultural bloodbath. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, for example, last year unveiled their ‘Pecan Resist’ brand, handcrafted to appeal to those Americans who are “fighting President Trump’s regressive agenda.” Yum! And just like that, the subsidiary of the globe-straddling Unilever Corporation alienated millions of US Republicans who just want to enjoy a good bowl of ice cream, much like their Democratic counterparts. Again, the question must be asked: what kind of corporate strategy actively aims to lose half of its consumer base? Or have these corporations morphed into such vast money-making empires that they can afford to not give a good damn?

In these dizzying days of political correctness a company can get embroiled in a cultural imbroglio without even trying. In 2012, for example, Jack Phillips, the proud owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood Colorado, refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple over his religious convictions. The couple sued and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court. Phillips was eventually found within his rights to refuse the request on the basis of the freedom of expression. That is a far cry, however, from a Fortune 500 company that actively dumps its ‘personal beliefs’ on the political landscape.

For better or for worse, corporations today have come to dominate nearly every aspect of our waking hours, to the point that it is nearly impossible to imagine performing the simplest tasks without them. Now it seems these monstrosities have become confident enough in their economic and political power that they can lecture consumers on modern issues now dividing the nation. That approach seems to have very little in common with the spirit of capitalism, itself a complicated and controversial project, without the need for gratuitous virtue signaling that exasperates so many people.

Considering everything that is at stake, it would seem far more expedient for corporations to stick to the capitalist credo of making a profit and distance themselves from the cultural battles now raging across the land. Nothing less than the very survival of American democracy, which provides the groundwork for free markets and capitalism, is at stake.

Published:7/5/2019 8:49:55 PM
[The Blog] Biden: Russia wouldn’t have meddled in any elections on my watch or Obama’s

What?

The post Biden: Russia wouldn’t have meddled in any elections on my watch or Obama’s appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:7/5/2019 5:54:28 PM
[] Obama's DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson: The Democrats' Immigration Rhetoric Is Essentially a Declaration of Open Borders Which Would Cause Mass Illegal Immigration to Explode Well, yes. But they see this as a good thing. And they're not bringing in all those illegals to have them not vote in elections. An Obama-era Department of Homeland Security chief is warning Democratic presidential candidates to cool their... Published:7/5/2019 5:54:28 PM
[Markets] Senior Moment? Biden Proclaims Russian Meddling 'Wouldn't Have Happened On He And Barack's Watch' 

Former Vice President Joe Biden proclaimed that Russia didn't meddle in the 2016 US election, apparently forgetting the narrative. 

Speaking with CNN's Chris Cuomo, the 2020 presidential contender insisted that the Kremlin's evil designs to influence geopolitical outcomes wouldn't happen under his watch, and didn't happen when he and President Obama were in the White House.

"Look at what’s happening with Putin," said Biden. "While Putin is trying to undo our elections, he is undoing elections in Europe. Look what’s happened in Hungary. Look what’s happened in Poland. Look what’s happened in Moldova. You think that would happen on my watch or Barack’s watch? You can’t answer that, but I promise you it wouldn’t have, and it didn’t.

Whoops!

(h/t Daily Caller)

Biden's comments are particularly intriguing, as many - including President Trump - have questioned why the Obama administration didn't do anything about Russian interference prior to the 2016 election. 

In May, Trump brought it up again, tweeting "Why didn’t President Obama do something about Russia in September (before November Election) when told by the FBI?"

Good question... perhaps someone can ask Biden at the next debate?  

Published:7/5/2019 12:45:59 PM
[Markets] This Isn't About Sneakers, But People Who Want "No USA At All"

Authored by Nebojsa Malic,

In just a few short years, the woke crusade against “hate” in the US has gone from demanding the removal of Confederate flags and monuments to targeting George Washington, the national anthem and now even the American flag.

Seen in isolation, the decision by Nike to scrap their sneaker design featuring the original flag of the 13 colonies that declared independence from the British crown in 1776 – reportedly at the urging of ex-football player turned social justice commissar Colin Kaepernick – seems like a tempest in a teapot. Seen from another perspective, though, it’s an alarming example of a trend that threatens to unravel the few remaining threads that keep America together.

Kaepernick’s reported reasoning was that the flag is associated with slavery – which indeed existed in the thirteen colonies at the time of their revolt against King George III, and later in what became the United States of America. By that logic, however, any American flag is inappropriate, because even though slavery was abolished in 1865, discriminatory laws persisted until 1964 – over a decade after Hawaii’s statehood brought the number of stars on the flag to 50.

Tell that to the 54th Massachusetts, an all-Black regiment that fought in the Civil War and was memorialized in the movie ‘Glory’. For that matter, tell it to Barack Obama, who flew the original flag at his second inauguration, just six years ago!

Of course, everything is fine when Obama does it, from flying the Betsy Ross flag to running detention centers for illegal immigrants. They were magically transformed into a “symbol of hate” and “concentration camps” as soon as the Bad Orange Man – otherwise known as President Donald Trump – took over, however. 

Cue the liberal “explainer” site Vox, which ignored Kaepernick’s reported reasoning about the flag to argue that the real problem was its use “as a symbol of white supremacy” since 2008, as a “racist” reaction to Obama’s election. 

According to Vox, Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross had nothing to do with that flag anyway, the whole story was apocryphal and made up. Sure, and George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree, but he’s still revered as the Founding Father of America, right?

Of course not. Earlier this week, the San Francisco, California school board decided to remove a ‘racist’ mural of Washington that showed slaves in chains and dead bodies of Native Americans. Ironically, the mural itself was a social justice statement of its time – it was painted in 1936 by George Arnautoff, a Communist artist who studied under Diego Rivera, and wanted to depict Washington without any of the patriotic romanticism. Today, however, being woke means going all Taliban on art from the past.

The US national anthem has not been safe from scrutiny, either. Back in 2017, the statue of Francis Scott Key – who wrote the lyrics to the “Star-spangled Banner” – was defaced in Baltimore, after the liberal publication Salon denounced the anthem and Key himself as racist. 

Incidentally, Kaepernick became famous – and a “moral authority,” according to Vox – when he began to kneel during the anthem at football games, saying he was protesting police violence against African-Americans. 

Would “God Bless America” be safe? Not a chance. In April, sports teams rushed to banish any mention of Kate Smith –  for whom Irving Berlin wrote the song and who performed it for years at sporting events – because several songs she recorded in the 1930s “contain offensive lyrics.” Smith’s statue outside the Philadelphia Flyers arena was covered with a black tarp and then removed entirely, just like her recording of “God Bless America” was erased from the repertoire.

This is the same arena, by the way, where the Democrats held their convention in 2016 and anointed Hillary Clinton as their candidate. Somehow, Smith’s songs from the 1930s didn’t bother anyone then.

Woke warriors have also targeted the Pledge of Allegiance. Written in 1892 by a socialist, Francis Bellamy, as part of a marketing ploy to sell American flags, the Pledge has since become a secular ritual, involving school children swearing (or not) to the flag “and the republic for which it stands.” 

So if the pledge is oppression, the flag is racist, George Washington is racist, Betsy Ross didn’t exist, the anthem is racist, “God Bless America” is racist by association… where does that leave the US? Is it at least the “greatest country in the world” as its politicians – of both parties – so often declare? Actually, no, according to the New York Times.

It’s a myth “at best outdated and at worst, wildly inaccurate,” says the nation’s paper of record in an opinion video released on the eve of July 4 celebrations. 

So as you see, this is about more than just sneakers – or even vapid virtue-signaling. This is about people who insist on being the arbiters of morality, and “canceling” anyone who dares to think otherwise; who hate the Bad Orange Man so much that they are willing to destroy the country he presides over; who chant “no fascist USA” and “no USA at all” – but then blame Russia for “sowing discord,” in order to cover up their tracks.

Happy birthday, America, wherever you are.

Published:7/4/2019 4:42:07 PM
[Markets] Obama DHS Chief Says 2020 Democrats Have "Unworkable" And "Unwise" Immigration Positions

Democratic presidential candidates have "unworkable" and "unwise" immigration policies, according to Obama administration Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson.

"That is tantamount to declaring publicly that we have open borders," Johnson told the Washington Post on Tuesday, referring to a push to decriminalize illegal immigration. "That is unworkable, unwise and does not have the support of a majority of American people or the Congress, and if we had such a policy, instead of 100,000 apprehensions a month, it will be multiples of that."

Johnson's comments follow sharp criticism of the 2020 Democratic contenders, who all raised their hands during the second night of debates when asked if illegal immigrants should receive taxpayer-funded health insurance (let's not forget that Obamacare penalized American citizens who weren't covered). 

On Tuesday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said he would “virtually eliminate immigration detention” by executive order. During last week’s debate, presidential candidate Julián Castro proposed decriminalizing illegal border crossings — a position other Democrats in the race rapidly adopted. -Washington Post

Meanwhile, Johnson on Friday pointed out that the "cages" housing detained migrants weren't built by President Trump, noting "Chain link barriers, partitions, fences, cages, whatever you want to call them, were not invented on January 20, 2017, OK?" 

Jeh Johnson touring detention facility during Obama administration

"But during that 72 hour period, when you have something that is a multiple, like four times of what you’re accustomed to in the existing infrastructure, you’ve got to find places quickly to put kids. You cant just dump 7-year-old kids on the streets of McAllen or El Paso. And so these facilities were erected …they put those chain link partitions up so you could segregate young women from young men, kids from adults, until they were either released or transferred to HHS." (via Daily Caller). 

 

Published:7/4/2019 3:10:28 PM
[Politics] Independence Day Greetings to Obama Flood Twitter “Happy 4th Mr. President” trended on Twitter – for Barack Obama, Newsweek is reporting. Published:7/4/2019 2:13:24 PM
[Markets] DoJ "Re-Evaluating All Available Options" On Census Citizenship Question

Earlier today, President Trump sparked a leftist meltdown by tweeting that reports of the demise of the citizenship question on the census were "fake"...

Questions immediately arose as to what legal strategy the administration would employ, given the Supreme Court's ruling.

Immediately, groups challenging the question requested that Judge Jesse Furman, in New York federal court, hold an emergency hearing on the question’s status, citing the president’s tweet stating that the administration would continue to pursue adding the question to the 2020 census.

As The Hill notes,  Obama appointee Furman quickly obliged giving the Department of Justice until 6 pm on Wednesday to state their “position and intentions” on the citizenship question.

Shortly before 6pm, a Justice Department lawyer has now told a federal judge that the agency was asked to consider ways to salvage the question.

And so, The Hill reports that Joseph Hunt, an assistant attorney general with DOJ’s civil division, said Wednesday that:

...the department has been “instructed to examine whether there is a path forward, consistent with the Supreme Court's decision, that would allow us to include the citizenship question on the census.”

We think there may be a legally available path under the Supreme Court's decision. We're examining that, looking at near-term options to see whether that's viable and possible,” Hunt said, according to a transcript of a teleconference held in federal court in Maryland.

U.S. District Judge George Hazel gave the U.S. until Friday at 2 p.m. to definitely answer what it doing. Hazel, an Obama appointee, said during the call that he scheduled the conference in light of Trump’s tweet.

“I don't know how many federal judges have Twitter accounts, but I happen to be one of them, and I follow the president, and so I saw a tweet that directly contradicted the position” the DOJ had given the day before, Hazel said, according to the transcript.

“I think I'm actually being really reasonable here and just saying I need a final answer by Friday at 2 p.m. or we're going forward,” the judge said.

Finally, as National Review notes, two-thirds of voters support allowing the U.S. census to include a question about an individual’s citizenship status, disagreeing with the Supreme Court’s decision to block the question.

In a Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released Tuesday, 67 percent of respondents said the question, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” should be allowed on the census. That number included about 88 percent of Republicans, 52 percent of Democrats, and 63 percent of independents agreed.

“The public here agrees with the administration that it makes sense to ask citizenship on the census,” said poll director Mark Penn.

“It is a clear supermajority of Americans on this issue.”

Published:7/3/2019 6:11:21 PM
[The Blog] Obama’s DHS chief: Dem candidates’ immigration plans are “tantamount to declaring publicly that we have open borders”

“That is unworkable, unwise and does not have the support of a majority of American people or the Congress..."

The post Obama’s DHS chief: Dem candidates’ immigration plans are “tantamount to declaring publicly that we have open borders” appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:7/3/2019 6:11:21 PM
[Markets] American Pride Plunges To Record Low As Women & Liberals Lose Faith

Authored by Megan Brenan via Gallup.com,

As Americans prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, their pride in the U.S. has hit its lowest point since Gallup's first measurement in 2001. While 70% of U.S. adults overall say they are proud to be Americans, this includes fewer than half (45%) who are "extremely" proud, marking the second consecutive year that this reading is below the majority level. Democrats continue to lag far behind Republicans in expressing extreme pride in the U.S.

These findings are explored further with new measurements of the public's pride in eight aspects of U.S. government and society. American scientific achievements, military and culture/arts engender the most pride, while the U.S. political system and health and welfare system garner the least.

Decreasing Percentage in U.S. Are Extremely Proud to Be American

U.S. adults' extreme pride in being American has been steadily weakening in recent years, and the current reading, from a June 3-16 Gallup poll, marks the lowest point to date. However, the latest two-percentage-point decline from last year's 47% is not a statistically significant change.

The highest readings on the measure, 69% and 70%, were between 2002 and 2004, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when the American public expressed high levels of patriotism and rallied around the U.S. government. Yet, since the start of George W. Bush's second presidential term in 2005, fewer than 60% of Americans have expressed extreme pride in being American.

Democrats Continue to Express Low U.S. Pride

The latest overall declines in patriotism are largely driven by Democrats, whose self-reported pride has historically been lower and has fluctuated more than Republicans'. Democrats' latest 22% extreme pride reading is the group's lowest in Gallup's 19 years of measurement, and is half of what it was several months before Donald Trump's 2016 election victory.

For their part, most Republicans have remained extremely proud of their country, and the latest 76% reading is just 10 points below the high recorded in 2003. Even when Barack Obama was in office, Republicans' extreme pride never fell below 68%.

Independents have historically been less proud of the U.S. than Republicans have been; currently, 41% express extreme pride -- which is, by one point, the lowest reading in the trend.

Several subgroups that typically identify as Democrats -- women, liberals and younger adults -- all express lower levels of extreme U.S. pride than their counterparts.

Sources of Pride in American Government and Society

In order to understand the sources of Americans' pride, Gallup included a new question in the June poll. The question asked Americans whether eight aspects of U.S. government and society make them proud. Strong majorities express pride in six of the eight -- American scientific achievements (91%), the U.S. military (89%), American culture and arts (85%), economic (75%) and sporting (73%) achievements, and diversity in race, ethnic background, and religion (72%).

Conversely, the American political system (32%) and health and welfare system (37%) are not sources of pride to most Americans.

The greatest disparities in the views of Republicans and Democrats on these eight aspects are seen on American economic achievements (89% of Republicans vs. 64% of Democrats are proud), the U.S. political system (42% of Republicans vs. 25% of Democrats) and the U.S. military (98% of Republicans vs. 84% of Democrats).

Bottom Line

Record-low American patriotism is the latest casualty of the sharply polarized political climate in the U.S. today. For the second time in 19 years, fewer than half of U.S. adults say they are extremely proud to be Americans. The decline reflects plummeting pride among Democrats since Trump took office, even as Republican pride has edged higher.

While neither party group feels proud of the U.S. political system, politics may be affecting Democrats' overall sense of pride in their country more than Republicans', given Democrats' low approval of the president. Democrats' awareness of Trump's historically low presidential approval rating across the international community may also be a factor in this latest decline in patriotism. So too could be Gallup data from earlier this year, which found that just 31% of Americans (including 2% of Democrats) think foreign leaders have respect for Trump.

Absent a significant national event that might rally all Americans around the flag, given Democrats' entrenched views of the president, these historically low readings on American pride are likely to continue until Trump is no longer in office.

The good news is that despite a slump in overall pride, the country offers many achievements that are a source of pride for Americans -- Democrats and Republicans alike.

Published:7/3/2019 5:05:05 PM
[Markets] Pentagon Slams Chinese Missile Tests In Disputed Waters As "Coercive Acts" 

We reported previously that China's military announced it had closed off an expansive area of the sea near the Spratly Islands in the hotly contested South China Sea for a five-day military drill which began over the weekend and is set to go through middle of this week. This included active anti-ship missile tests, with at least one ballistic missile fired over the sea in an area claimed by multiple countries including US allies, and where the US Navy attempts to maintain "freedom of navigation" rights. 

The Pentagon reacted swiftly to the reports, and denounced the missile tests as “coercive acts” and further condemned the drills as a violation of China's pledge for demilitarization in waters that have already witnessed multiple tense encounters with the US Navy and its allies. According to Bloomberg:

Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Dave Eastburn said the tests near the Spratly Islands represented a “truly disturbing” violation of President Xi Jinping’s 2015 statement that China “does not intend to pursue militarization” in the water body.

The provocative drill and first anti-ship missile test was initiated just as Trump and Xi were meeting at the G20 summit in Osaka, and as Washington and Beijing are restarting trade talks.

File photo of prior Chinese PLA "live fire" in 2017 in the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea, via Reuters

“The PRC’s behavior is contrary to its claim to want to bring peace to the region and obviously actions like this are coercive acts meant to intimidate other SCS claimants,” the Pentagon spokesman continued in his statement Wednesday.

Alarmingly, parts of the area closed off by the PLA are actually claimed by the Philippines, and the US Navy regularly conducts freedom of navigation exercises in the region; however, an official told NBC that American naval vessels are currently nowhere close to the drills.

In total China claims control of over 80% of the South China Sea, claims which Beijing has sought to bolster through a series of man-made islands and accompanying network of small military bases - in competition with overlapping claims of the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Brunei. 

One Hong Kong-based military analyst who echoed the PLA's position on the dispute told the South China Morning Post: “Countries outside the region continue to stir up the issue through so-called freedom of navigation operations and close surveillance, threatening China’s national security,” and added, “The Chinese military must fight back at those provocations.”

Published:7/3/2019 4:38:13 PM
[Politics] Here’s proof that even Obama used ‘racist’ Betsy Ross flags because they’ve NEVER been offensive until NIKE… It’s a good thing Colin Kaepernick didn’t attend Obama’s second inauguration because he would have been so triggered: That Betsy Ross flag sure fell out of fashion quickly. (Photo: 2nd Obama inaugural, . . . Published:7/3/2019 3:06:50 PM
[US News] ‘Wow’! Obama-era DHS chief says out loud what the 2020 Dems try to deny

"The Dems have gone so crazy that..."

The post ‘Wow’! Obama-era DHS chief says out loud what the 2020 Dems try to deny appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:7/3/2019 3:06:50 PM
[Politics] Here’s proof that even Obama used ‘racist’ Betsy Ross flags because they’ve NEVER been offensive until NIKE… It’s a good thing Colin Kaepernick didn’t attend Obama’s second inauguration because he would have been so triggered: That Betsy Ross flag sure fell out of fashion quickly. (Photo: 2nd Obama inaugural, . . . Published:7/3/2019 2:36:26 PM
[Politics] Even Obama’s DHS Secretary decries 2020 Democrats for pushing for OPEN BORDERS! Last week we saw 2020 Democrats on the debate state, specifically Julian Castro, actually call for repealing US statutes that make it illegal to cross the border. But even Obama’s former DHS . . . Published:7/3/2019 10:11:27 AM
[Politics] Even Obama’s DHS Secretary decries 2020 Democrats for pushing for OPEN BORDERS! Last week we saw 2020 Democrats on the debate state, specifically Julian Castro, actually call for repealing US statutes that make it illegal to cross the border. But even Obama’s former DHS . . . Published:7/3/2019 9:40:01 AM
[Markets] Why Won't The Media Criticize US Interventionism?

Authored by Tom Engelhardt via TomDispatch.com,

Despite military involvement in 75% of the world, mainstream news outlets always stop short of calling out American aggressions...

Headlined “U.S. Seeks Other Ways to Stop Iran Shy of War,” the article was tucked away on page A9 of a recent New York Times. Still, it caught my attention. Here's the first paragraph:

“American intelligence and military officers are working on additional clandestine plans to counter Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf, pushed by the White House to develop new options that could help deter Tehran without escalating tensions into a full-out conventional war, according to current and former officials.”

Note that “Iranian aggression.” The rest of the piece, fairly typical of the tone of American media coverage of the ongoing Iran crisis, included sentences like this: “The C.I.A. has longstanding secret plans for responding to Iranian provocations.” I’m sure I’ve read such things hundreds of times without ever really stopping to think much about them, but this time I did. And what struck me was this: rare is the moment in such mainstream news reports when Americans are the “provocative” ones (though the Iranians immediately accused the U.S. military of just that, a provocation, when it came to the U.S. drone its Revolutionary Guard recently shot down either over Iranian air space or the Strait of Hormuz). When it comes to Washington’s never-ending war on terror, I think I can say with reasonable confidence that, in the past, the present, and the future, the one phrase you’re not likely to find in such media coverage will be “American aggression.”

I mean, forget the history of the second half of the last century and all of this one so far. Forget that back in the Neolithic age of the 1980s, before Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein turned out to be the new Adolf Hitler and needed to be taken down by us (no aggression there), the administration of President Ronald Reagan actively backed his unprovoked invasion of, and war against, Iran. (That included his use of chemical weapons against Iranian troop concentrations that American military intelligence helped him target.) Forget that, in 2003, the administration of George W. Bush launched an unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq, based on false intelligence about Saddam’s supposed weapons of mass destruction and his supposed links to al-Qaeda. Forget that the Trump administration tore up a nuclear agreement with Iran to which that country was adhering and which would indeed have effectively prevented it from producing nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future. Forget that its supreme leader (in fatwas he issued) prohibited the creation or stockpiling of such weaponry in any case. 

Forget that the Trump administration, in a completely unprovoked manner, imposed crippling sanctions on that country and its oil trade, causing genuine suffering, in hopes of toppling that regime economically as Saddam Hussein’s had been toppled militarily in neighboring Iraq in 2003, all in the name of preventing the atomic weapons that the Obama-negotiated pact had taken care of. Forget the fact that an American president, who, at the last moment, halted air strikes against Iranian missile bases (after one of their missiles shot down that American drone) is now promising that an attack on "anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force... In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.”

Provocations? Aggression? Perish the thought!

And yet, just ask yourself what Washington and the Pentagon might do if an Iranian drone were spotted off the East Coast of the United States (no less in actual U.S. air space).  No more need be said, right?

So here’s the strange thing, on a planet on which, in 2017, U.S. Special Operations forces deployed to 149 countries, or approximately 75% of all nations; on which the U.S. has perhaps 800 military garrisons outside its own territory; on which the U.S. Navy patrols most of its oceans and seas; on which U.S. unmanned aerial drones conduct assassination strikes across a surprising range of countries; and on which the U.S. has been fighting wars, as well as more minor conflicts, for years on end from Afghanistan to Libya, Syria to Yemen, Iraq to Niger in a century in which it chose to launch full-scale invasions of two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), is it truly reasonable never to identify the U.S. as an “aggressor” anywhere?

What you might say about the United States is that, as the self-proclaimed leading proponent of democracy and human rights (even if its president is now having a set of love affairs with autocrats and dictators), Americans consider ourselves at home just about anywhere we care to be on planet Earth.  It matters little how we may be armed and what we might do. Consequently, wherever Americans are bothered, harassed, threatened, attacked, we are always the ones being provoked and aggressed upon, never provoking and aggressing. I mean, how can you be the aggressor in your own house, even if that house happens to be temporarily located in Afghanistan, Iraq, or perhaps soon enough in Iran?

A Planet of Aggressors and Provocateurs

To mine the same New York Times piece a little more, here’s another paragraph:

“Some officials believe the United States needs [to] be willing to master the kind of deniable, shadowy techniques Tehran has perfected in order to halt Iran’s aggressions. Others think that, while helpful, such clandestine attacks will not be enough to reassure American allies or deter Iran.”

Of course, such clandestine American attacks would, by definition, not be “aggression,” not given that they were directed against Iran. Forget the grim historical humor lurking in the above passage, since the present Iranian religious hard-liners probably wouldn’t be there if, back in 1953, the CIA hadn’t used just such techniques to overthrow a democratically elected Iranian government and install its own autocrat, the young Shah, in power.

As that Times piece also emphasizes, Iran now uses “proxy forces” throughout the region (indeed it does!) against U.S. (and Israeli) power, a tactic Americans evidently just hadn’t thought about employing themselves in this century -- until now. Americans naturally have no proxy forces in the Greater Middle East. That’s a well-known fact. Just out of curiosity, however, what would you call the local forces our special ops guys are training and advising in so many of those 149 countries around the planet, since obviously they could never be proxy forces? And how about the Afghan and Iraqi militaries that the U.S. trained, supplied with weaponry, and advised in these years? (You know, the Iraqi army that collapsed in the face of ISIS in 2014 or the Afghan security forces that have been unable to staunch either the growth of the Taliban or of the Afghan branch of ISIS.)

Now, don’t get me wrong. Yes, the Iranians can (and sometimes do) provoke and aggress. It’s an ugly planet filled with aggression and provocation. (Take Vladimir Putin’s Russia in Crimea and Ukraine, for instance.) The Chinese are now aggressing in the South China Sea where the U.S. Navy regularly conducts “freedom of navigation” operations -- though no provocation there, as the Pacific's an American lake, isn’t it?

In short, when it comes to provocation and aggression, the world is our oyster. There are so many bad guys out there and then, of course, there’s us. We can make mistakes and missteps, we can kill staggering numbers of civilians, destroy cities, uproot populations, create hordes of refugees with our never-ending wars across the Greater Middle East and Africa, but aggression? What are you thinking?

One thing is obvious if you follow the mainstream media: in our world, no matter what we do, we’re still the good guys on a planet filled with provocateurs and aggressors of every sort.

War to the Horizon

Now let’s think for a moment about that remarkable American comfort level, that unprecedented sense of being at home practically anywhere on Earth we choose to send armed Americans -- and while we’re at it, let’s consider a related subject: America’s wars.

If, in the early 1970s, you had told me or any other American that, in the nearly half-century to come, the U.S. would fight wars and other lesser conflicts of almost every imaginable sort in startling numbers of places thousands of miles from home, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, countries most Americans couldn’t then (or now) find on a map, I guarantee you one thing: we would have thought you were nuts. (Of course, if you had described Donald Trump’s White House to me then as our future reality, I would have considered you beyond delusional.)

And yet here we are. Think about Afghanistan for a moment. In those distant days of the last century, that country would undoubtedly have been known here only to small numbers of young adventurers eager to hike what was then called “the hippy trail.” There, in a still remarkably peaceful place, a young American might have been greeted with remarkable friendliness and then spaced out on drugs.

That, of course, was before Washington’s first (covert) Afghan War, the one the CIA oversaw, with the help of Saudi money (yes, even then!) and a major hand from the Pakistani intelligence services. Do you remember that conflict, which began in 1979 and ended a decade later with the Red Army limping out of Kabul in defeat, heading for a land, the Soviet Union, which would implode within two years? What a “victory” that proved to be for America, not to speak of the groups of extremist Islamic militants we helped to fund and support, including a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden.

And keep in mind as well that that was our “short” war in Afghanistan, a mere decade long. In October 2001, soon after the 9/11 attacks, instead of launching a police action against Osama bin Laden and crew, the administration of George W. Bush decided to invade that country. Almost 18 years later, the U.S. military is still fighting there (remarkably unsuccessfully) against a thoroughly rejuvenated Taliban and a new branch of ISIS. It now qualifies as the longest war in our history (without even adding in that first Afghan War of ours).

And then, of course, there’s Iraq. By my count, the U.S. has been involved in four conflicts involving that country, starting with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran in 1980 and the ensuing war, which the administration of President Ronald Reagan supported militarily (as the present one does the Saudi war in Yemen). Then there was President George H.W. Bush’s war against Saddam Hussein after his military invaded Kuwait in 1990, which resulted in a resounding (but by no means conclusive) victory and the kind of victory parade in Washington that Donald Trump can only dream of. Next, of course, was President George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq (mission accomplished!), a grim and unsatisfying eight-year conflict from which President Barack Obama withdrew U.S. troops in 2011. The fourth war followed in 2014 when the U.S.-trained Iraqi military collapsed in the face of relatively small numbers of ISIS militants, a group that was an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which didn’t exist until the U.S. invaded that country. That September, President Obama loosed the U.S. air force on Iraq and Syria (so you can add a fifth war in a neighboring country to the mix) and sent U.S. troops back into Iraq and into Syria where they still remain.

Oh, yes, and don’t forget Somalia. U.S. troubles there began with the famed Black Hawk Down incident amid the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993 and never, in a sense, really ended. Today, U.S. Special Operations forces are still on the ground there and U.S. air strikes against a Somali militant Islamic group, al-Shabaab, have actually been on the rise in the Trump era.

As for Yemen, from the first U.S. drone strike there in 2002, the U.S. had been in an on-again, off-again low-level conflict there that included commando raids, cruise missile attacks, air strikes, and drone strikes against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, another offshoot of the original al-Qaeda. Since, in 2015, the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates launched their war against Houthi rebels (backed by Iran) who had come to control significant parts of the country, the U.S. has been supporting them with weaponryintelligence, and targeting, as well as (until late last year) mid-air refueling and other aid. Meanwhile, that brutal war of destruction has led to staggering numbers of Yemeni civilian casualties (and widespread starvation), but as with so many of the other campaigns the U.S. has involved itself in across the Greater Middle East and Africa it shows no sign of ending.

And don’t forget Libya, where the U.S. and NATO intervened in 2011 to help rebels take down Muammar Gaddafi, the local autocrat, and in the process managed to foster a failed state in a land now experiencing its own civil war. In the years since 2011, the U.S. has sometimes had commandos on the ground there, has launched hundreds of drone strikes (and air strikes), often against a branch of ISIS that grew up in that land. Once again, little is settled there, so we can all continue to sing the Marine Hymn (“...to the shores of Tripoli”) with a sense of appropriateness.

And I haven’t even mentioned PakistanNiger, and god knows where else. You should also note that the American forever war on terror has proven a remarkably effective war for terror, clearly helping to foster and spread such groups, aggressors and provocateurs all, around significant parts of the planet, from the Philippines to the Congo.

Addicted to war? Not us. Still, all in all, it’s quite a record and let’s not forget that looming on the horizon is another possible war, this time with Iran, a country that the men overseeing the invasion of Iraq in 2003 (including present National Security Advisor John Bolton) were eager to go after even then. “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad,” so the saying reputedly went in Washington at the time. “Real men want to go to Tehran.” And it’s just possible that, in 2019, Bolton and crew will be able to act on that much delayed urge. Considering the history of American wars in these years, what could possibly go wrong?

To sum up, no one should ever claim that we Americans aren’t “at home” in the world. We’re everywhere, remarkably well funded and well armed and ready to face off against the aggressors and provocateurs of this planet. Just one small suggestion: thank the troops for their service if you want, and then, as most Americans do, go about your business as if nothing were happening in those distant lands. As we head into election season 2020, however, just don’t imagine that we’re the good guys on Planet Earth. As far as I can tell, there aren’t many good guys left.

Published:7/2/2019 11:03:19 PM
[Markets] Drowning Children & Democrat Denial

Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

Any image of a dead child is always harrowing, for everyone but the most deranged psychopaths among us. If the child has drowned while seeking a better life it is possibly worse. The public reaction of politicians to such images, which varies from doing very little, or nothing, to solve the issues that have led to a child drowning, to trying to make cheap political gains from the image, must be the worst.

On September 2 2015, this photo of Syrian Kurdish 2 year-old Alan Kurdi, lifeless on a beach near Bodrum, Turkey, went viral. Almost 4 years later, all Europe has done is try to hide the problems that led to his death, by handing Turkey billions of euros to keep refugees inside that country. And still today conditions in Lesbos, Greece are appalling. Hardly a thing has changed.

Improvements to the situation that lead to Alan Kurdi’s death, within Syria itself, have had very little to do with European efforts. Russia had a much bigger role in that. And Syria is not the only source, or place, of troubles and refugees. Libya has turned into an open air slave market thanks to US and EU “efforts” under Obama. And Iraq is not exactly a land of milk and honey either. Or Afghanistan.

And then this week another picture of a drowned child made the frontpages -and more. That child, too, drowned due to a situation that has a long history: the US seeking to turn Central America into a dirt-poor, chaotic and unsafe environment that local people desperately want to escape. Same difference. And again, in the US and EU it is used as propaganda material.

So who do you blame for this? Trump of course. Who also gets the blame for the conditions in which children are held at the US-Mexico border, in “cages”. A disaster that caused Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to stage a scene in which she cried her heart out while looking at an empty parking lot in an expensive dress.

The truth is, it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. The people who are on AOC’s side of the divide will never see the reports on her faking the scene, that’s how segregated America has become. The “appropriate media” will convey the “appropriate” message” to the “appropriate audience”. Chuck Schumer even took the photograph to Capitol Hill for some quick and easy points.

What Schumer et al do not mention was that the “cages” AOC -ostensibly- cried about were built by the Obama government, i.e. Schumer’s own party. And there’s a few other things he conveniently left out. Like the fact that the horrible situations in their home countries that these people face are caused by the US itself, including Democrats like Schumer.

But first, some of the press on June 26, when the pictures came out: A Grim Border Drowning Underlines Peril Facing Many Migrants

The searing photograph of the sad discovery of their bodies on Monday, captured by journalist Julia Le Duc and published by Mexican newspaper La Jornada, highlights the perils faced by mostly Central American migrants fleeing violence and poverty and hoping for asylum in the United States. According to Le Duc’s reporting for La Jornada, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador was unable to present themselves to U.S. authorities and request asylum, swam across the river on Sunday with his daughter, Valeria.

He set her on the U.S. bank of the river and started back for his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, but seeing him move away the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away. The account was based on remarks by Ávalos to police at the scene — “amid tears” and “screams” — Le Duc told The Associated Press.

That border did not become “grim” overnight, it has been exactly that for many years. We have proof of that. But first, more easy points.

‘Trump Is Responsible’

The Democratic presidential candidates rushed to condemn the “inhumane” situation on the US border with Mexico – with some directly blaming Donald Trump – after a picture of a Salvadoran father and his toddler daughter found dead in the Rio Grande shocked the nation. The photograph, which emerged on Tuesday night, showed Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, 26, and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria laying facedown near Matamoros, Mexico, on the bank of the river that marks the US border – reopening a fierce debate about the scale of the crisis.

The picture, by journalist Julia Le Duc, has drawn comparisons to the 2015 image of three-year-old Syrian boy Alan Jurdi, who drowned off Kos in Greece – sparking a significant moment in the European debate over migrants and refugees. Beto O’Rourke said: “Trump is responsible for these deaths.”Writing on Twitter, the former Texas congressman added: “As his administration refuses to follow our laws – preventing refugees from presenting themselves for asylum at our ports of entry – they cause families to cross between ports, ensuring greater suffering & death. At the expense of our humanity, not to the benefit of our safety.”

Fellow 2020 hopeful senator Kamala Harris condemned the picture as “a stain on our moral conscience”. She wrote: “These families seeking asylum are often fleeing extreme violence. And what happens when they arrive? Trump says, ‘Go back to where you came from.’ That is inhumane. Children are dying.” Corey Booker, New Jersey senator and 2020 candidate, also blamed the president. “We should not look away. These are the consequences of Donald Trump’s inhumane and immoral immigration policy. This is being done in our name,” he tweeted.

These people don’t appear to have any knowledge of their own history, their own party. Either that or they’re flat-out lying. Kamala Harris: “..what happens when they arrive? Trump says, ‘Go back to where you came from.’ That is inhumane. Children are dying.” Here Kamala, Corey, Beto, take a listen to what Obama said in both 2007 and again in 2014. Take your time, we’ll wait:

While it’s impossible to quantify misery, and we should not even try, perhaps the closest we can get to doing it anyway is by looking at the number of people who have died at the US Southwest border. And if you can do that over an entire 20-year period, you at least have some indication.

And what do we see? The number of deaths under Trump is not high at all, at least in relative terms. Every death is one too many, true enough. But still. Since 2000, there was only one year, 2015, in which there were fewer deaths than in the two Trump years, 2017 and 2018.

Here’s a more detailed version of this (click for larger pic in new tab):

But yes, I know how much people love to hate Trump and his administration, and often for good reason too. But this whole thing appears to be about issues that existed during the previous Obama administration- and W. Bush- just as much, if not more. When Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi already were where they are now: in positions of -real- power. So you know, what do you do when they try and blame Trump for the very things they were complicit in?

And then there’s Salvini in Italy refusing entry to a ship filled with refugees. Which pretty much says he’s trying to force captains to break age-old maritime law (or the Law of the Sea, admiralty?!). And you can say he’s an idiot for doing it, and he is, but he is also telling the EU that Italy can’t accept 10 times more refugees than other EU nations just because it happens to have a coastline.

And sure Salvini is a belligerent fool, and so is Trump, but if you want to understand what happens you can’t stop at blaming only them. It’s tempting but it’s also far too easy. Even the Dalai Lama said people should stay in their own countries. But also that they should receive help from the west. Which for many decades have only been terrorizing them. This is as true in Africa as it is in Central America.

Arguably, all we need to do to stop children like Alan Kurdi and Valeria from drowning at border crossings is to make their home countries safe from our own criminal and deathly activities. But that’s not going to be easy. I read this piece today from think tanking US professors Mark Hannah and Stephen Wertheim, and it doesn’t even make sense beyond the initial message:

Here’s One Way Democrats Can Defeat Trump: Be Radically Anti-War

The last two presidents, Obama and Trump, were unlikely aspirants to the office partly because they bucked national-security orthodoxy, blasting Middle East wars and the political class that started them. Obama and Trump won their elections partly for the same reason. Once in office, however, they struggled to deliver. Endless war continues; diplomacy is in tatters; Americans suffer from underinvestment where they live and work; and the greatest threats, like climate change, loom larger across the globe. In 2020, the candidate who not only identifies these problems, but offers real solutions, will benefit.

Problem is, the Democrats are a radically pro-war party, just like the Republicans. The writers silently admit this by not naming one Democrat who is anti-war, and by not at all naming the one presidential candidate who is, Tulsi Gabbard. Which makes one suspect that they and their backers are not so much anti-war as they are anti-Trump, but since many Americans are anti-war these days, they see it as a possibly winning platform.

Given that Wertheim is a co-founder with George Soros and the Koch brothers of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, none of this is surprising. They just want the power back, and if that takes promising no more forever war during an election campaign, hey, that’s fine with them. And then once the election’s done, they can go back to their merry ways of inciting wars. They might as well claim they’re going to save us from climate change too.

The solution to the problem of children -and adults- drowning at border crossings is dead -pun intended- simple. Stop bombing people, stop interfering in their countries altogether, stop strangling them with economic sanctions. Implementing these very easy policies, though, is far from simple. And so the problem keeps growing.

The most important take-away from all this is that the problem is not Salvini or Trump, but the EU and US, the entire “body politic” of both. Where left and right are on the same side, that of power and money, and their ‘differences’ are mere distractions that serve to entertain their audiences. And the media whipping up a blind hatred of everything Salvini or Trump, is not going to make this world a better place.

Left and right alike dance to the tunes of the arms industries and other large corporations, which profit from chaos and misery, both in ‘powerless’ countries and at home. We’re stuck with “progressives” who have no meaningful link to progress and conservatives whose very last idea seems to be to conserve anything of value.

But be critical of the left and you’re labeled right wing, and vise versa. We live in a modern version of a segregated society, not progressing anywhere and not conserving a single thing on its way there.

We need to do better, much better, if we are to prevent the next child from drowning.

*  *  *

Support The Automatic Earth on Patreon.

Published:7/2/2019 10:01:50 PM
[Markets] Would The Founding Fathers Be Banned From Social Media?

Authored by Onar Am via LibertyNation.com,

Social media companies have gone too far in their censorship...

Many people find it challenging to comprehend how oppressive social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter have become toward people who do not share their far-left progressive ideology. One way to understand this is through a thought experiment: Were the Founding Fathers alive today, would they have been allowed on these platforms? The answer is likely no.

Slavery And Immigration

Some Founding Fathers from the southern states owned slaves, but let us put that aside for a moment and consider only their opinions. Most of them, Thomas Jefferson included, expressed a moral aversion to the practice of slavery, driven by their Christian faith.

But at the same time, there was a near unanimous agreement of senators and representatives of the first Congress that immigration should be limited to “free white persons of good character,” as espoused in the Naturalization Act of 1790, which stayed in effect until after the Civil War.

Today, anyone who expresses such an opinion, at the time held by most citizens and statesmen, quickly will be branded as a “white supremacist” and banned from social media.

By modern standards, that view sounds blatantly racist, but it needs to be understood in context. There were no airplanes or internet back then, and global trade had latencies of years. The world they knew was fiercely tribal.

The newly formed United States was still at war with native Indian tribes, and American trade ships were plundered regularly by Islamic pirates from the Barbary states in North Africa. The explorers that went to Africa found no written languages, two-story buildings, roads, wheels, or machinery. They did, however, find hostile tribes who either tried to kill them or to sell them slaves from other tribes.

In this historically hostile world, where all cultures were at war, and tribal allegiances were paramount, from where would it be natural to allow immigration? Your ancestral lands, of course. The presumption is that people who share your culture, religion, civilizational values, and ethnicity are more likely to be compatible than people from hostile countries.

Notice, however, that not all white people could immigrate to America. Only free persons of good character. “Free” and “good character” meant they were not slaves or convicts, were financially independent, did not have a criminal record, and shared the ideals of the Constitution. They had to sustain themselves and abide by the laws for two years before they could apply for citizenship.

Multiculturalism

Surprisingly, the same troubles that faced the young nation 230 years ago also plague modern America. While race is no longer a requirement, modern conservatives still want immigrants to be “free persons of good character.” The problem is that the world outside the West is still fiercely tribal and racially conscious. Most cultures today reject the ideals of liberty and prefer socialism, corruption, and ethnic kleptocracy.

Insisting on immigrants who sustain themselves and don’t support socialism would eliminate billions of people from qualifying to enter the United States, most of them from non-Western countries.

Even though hundreds of millions of Africans, South Americans, and Asians would qualify entry based on self-reliance, skills, and good character, leftists deem such a policy to be racist because it favors immigration from Europe and East Asia. Therefore, they insist that any requirement must be abolished. Accept open borders and the destruction of liberty, or else you are racist.

Time To Rethink

It is commendable that the leading social media corporations want to combat bigotry, but we should consider that without the philosophy and culture of the Founding Fathers, slavery would still exist, not only in America but also in the rest of the world. It was white Christians who worked to abolish slavery and championed universal individual rights independent of race and religion.

However, it is ironic – and disturbing – that the very same people who made Facebook and Twitter possible now would be censored by these companies.

Published:7/2/2019 7:31:37 PM
[Politics] New York Review of Books Slams Mayor Pete

A new review of Pete Buttigieg's Shortest Way Home pushes back against praise of it as the best political biography since Barack Obama's 2008 book, instead finding Buttigieg's presentation of his life to be devoid of any actual "human experience" or "self-analysis."

The post New York Review of Books Slams Mayor Pete appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/2/2019 12:59:14 PM
[Politics] Trump, RNC Raise $20 Million More Than Obama, DNC During Same Period

President Donald Trump's re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee have raised $20 million more than President Barack Obama's re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee during the same time period.

The post Trump, RNC Raise $20 Million More Than Obama, DNC During Same Period appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/2/2019 11:28:11 AM
[Politics] President Trump, RNC just raised a WHOPPING amount, blowing past Obama’s re-election campaign… Both President Trump and the RNC have just raised a huge amount of money for 2020, out-raising Obama and the DNC for the same period in 2011: THE HILL – President Trump’s . . . Published:7/2/2019 9:28:31 AM
[US News] Here are 105 million reasons why Dems are in BIG trouble ahead of the 2020 election

While Dems are busily relitigating issues like busing from the 1970s, President Donald Trump and the RNC raised $105 million in the 2nd quarter: President Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee said they had raised $105 million in the second quarter, dwarfing what President Obama raised in the equivalent period during his re-election […]

The post Here are 105 million reasons why Dems are in BIG trouble ahead of the 2020 election appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:7/2/2019 9:28:30 AM
[Politics] President Trump, RNC just raised a WHOPPING amount, blowing past Obama’s re-election campaign… Both President Trump and the RNC have just raised a huge amount of money for 2020, out-raising Obama and the DNC for the same period in 2011: THE HILL – President Trump’s . . . Published:7/2/2019 9:06:40 AM
[Media] The Hill keeps using photos from 2014 (who was president then?) to hit Trump on migrant detentions

LOL, The Hill! This photo is from 2014. Who was president then? Democratic lawmakers pay tense visit to Texas migrant facility https://t.co/tqK4SXsYtw pic.twitter.com/1erKililSs — The Hill (@thehill) July 2, 2019 You’ll recall that this is the same photo Obama bro Jon Favreau posted last year thinking it happened under President Trump: SHOCKER: Jon Favreau admits […]

The post The Hill keeps using photos from 2014 (who was president then?) to hit Trump on migrant detentions appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:7/2/2019 6:59:02 AM
[Political Cartoons] Line Dancing – Grrr Graphics – Ben Garrison Cartoon

By Ben Garrison -

The nearest Obama got to North Korea was viewing it through a pair of binoculars while behind some bulletproof Plexiglas at the demilitarized zone. Trump on the other hand, strode alone inside the North Korean border to meet that country’s leader. Talk about courage.  Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize ...

Line Dancing – Grrr Graphics – Ben Garrison 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:7/1/2019 11:28:31 AM
[Politics] Biden Still Leads Among Democrats, But Support Is Down

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s still the leader among the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls following last week’s debates, although he’s lost notable ground among voters in his own party. Bernie Sanders, the clear number two in previous surveys, now runs even with Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds Biden with 30% support among Likely Democratic Voters, but that’s down from 39% at the end of May. Bunched in distant second are Sanders, Harris and Warren, all with 13% support, closely followed by South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 11% of the Democratic vote.

In the May survey, Sanders was in second place with 19% support among his fellow Democrats, followed by Harris (12%), Warren (9%)  and Buttigieg (6%).

Rounding out the latest survey - taken Sunday night - are New Jersey Senator Cory Booker with six percent (6%) Democratic support and Julian Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio and member of President Obama’s Cabinet, who earns three percent (3%) of the vote. Five percent (5%) prefer some other candidate, while seven percent (7%) of Democrats are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 30, 2019 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.

Published:7/1/2019 9:51:50 AM
[TC] Higher Ground Labs is betting tech can help sway the 2020 elections for Democrats When Shomik Dutta and Betsy Hoover first met in 2007, he was coordinating fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign and she was a deputy field director for the campaign. Over the next two election cycles the two would become parts of an organizing and fundraising team that transformed the business of […] Published:7/1/2019 8:27:31 AM
[Markets] Zuesse: The Civil War Now In America

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Saker blog,

America is controlled only by its wealthiest, and they are solidly in control of both political Parties.

However, now that they are in control, they are fighting bitterly amongst one-another. They are on two sides.

Concerning foreign policies, and domestic policies, Republican Party billionaires hate especially Iran, and especially all progressivism.

By contrast, concerning foreign policies, and domestic policies, Democratic Party billionaires hate especially Russia, and accept some progressivism.

(They need to do the latter so that they can be considered to be liberals and thus tolerated or even admired by Democratic Party voters. That’s necessary for them because, for example, Democratic Party voters would be just as turned off toward a politician who is financed by and fronts for the conservative Koch brothers, as Republican Party voters would be turned off toward a politician who is financed by and fronts for the liberal George Soros — and everybody knows that billionaires fund the major politicians; it’s not a totally hidden fact. Soros and other liberal billionaires can claim to be ‘public spirited’, which is necessary for them in order to be able to appeal to liberals; but the Koch brothers and other avowedly conservative billionaires have no need to make that pretense in order to appeal to conservatives.)

Actually, all  billionaires are conservatives, because they need to be that, in order to call a country like America “democratic” instead of “dictatorial,” and they need that myth of American ‘democracy’ in order to prevent a revolution, which would strip them of their power.

(No American billionaire calls America a “dictatorship,” even though it is and each of them knows it, since they collectively are the dictators here, and since they don’t become involved in politics, at all, unless they want to remain in control over it. The richer a person is, the more conservative the person tends to be, and billionaires are the richest people of all, so all of them are actually conservatives. Even billionaire liberals are conservative, because otherwise the individual would be fomenting revolution, and none of them is doing any such thing — what would they be revolting against, if not themselves? They can pretend to be progressive, but only pretend. Furthermore, every study shows that the richer a person is, the more involved in politics the person tends to be. Poor people are the least involved in politics, and this is one of the reasons why the U.S. is a dictatorship. It’s a dictatorship by the richest, and throughout thousands of years that has been called an “aristocracy,” as opposed to a “democracy.”)

The first scientific study of whether the U.S. is a dictatorship or a democracy was published in 2014 and it found that America is a dictatorship and that its richest are in control over it. Only wealth and political involvement determined whether a person’s desired governmental policies get passed into law and implemented by governmental policies, the researchers found. Furthermore, “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” Consequently, the public’s desires are actually ignored  by the American Government. It’s not responsive to what the public wants; it is responsive only  to what the politically involved super-rich — the people who mainly fund politics — want. And those billionaires also control, or even own, all of the major ’news’media, and so their propaganda filters-out such realities as that the country is a dictatorship, no democracy at all.

Barack Obama was, from the very first moment when he became President, aiming to overthrow and replace Syria’s Government, and the reason for that was never made clear, but some people thought it was because Syria is allied with Iran, and some of them thought that it was instead because Syria is allied with Russia. When the Democrat Obama negotiated and signed the multinational pact in which Iran guaranteed that it would produce no nuclear bombs and the U.S. and its allies would end their sanctions against Iran, the reality became clear that Obama didn’t actually hate Iran (which the Republican Trump clearly does). Obama was invading Syria because it’s allied with Russia, not because it’s allied with Iran. His successor, the Republican Donald Trump, is just as anti-Iran as Obama was anti-Russia. Whereas the Republican Party especially hate Iran, the Democratic Party especially hate Russia. And that’s because their billionaires do — the Democratic ones hate Russia the most, and the Republican ones hate Iran the most. That’s the biggest single difference between the two Parties.

The main personal difference between Obama and Trump (other than that Obama was intelligent and Trump isn’t) is that Obama was a much more skilled liar than Trump is. For example, he was able to string Vladimir Putin along until 2012 to hope that Obama’s ‘reset with Russia’ wasn’t merely a ploy. On 26 March 2012, Obama informed Dmitry Medvedev to tell Putin that “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved, but it’s important for him [the incoming President Putin] to give me space. This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”

However, it was all a lie. The fact is that, already, Obama was actually planning, even as early as 2011, to overthrow the neutralist Government right next door to Russia, in Ukraine, and to replace it with a rabidly anti-Russian regime on Russia’s doorstep, which he was planning to bring into NATO even though only around 30% of Ukrainians wanted Ukraine to join NATO. But Putin had no way of knowing that Obama was planning this. And immediately after Obama’s February 2014 coup in Ukraine, around 60% of Ukrainians suddenly wanted Ukraine to join NATO. (That’s because the newly installed Obama regime propagandized hatred against Russia.)

Obama won Ukraine as being an enemy of Russia; it’s as if Putin had wrangled a coup in Mexico and suddenly Mexicans turned rabidly hostile toward the U.S. But it was a Democrat who did this, not a Republican. And the Republican Trump is just as hostile to Iran as Obama was to Russia. These aren’t foreign governments that are interfering in America’s foreign policies; maybe Israel is doing that, and maybe Saudi Arabia is, and maybe UAE is, but certainly America’s 585 billionaires are. And they are allied with those three Middle Eastern countries. When America imposes sanctions against a country in order to wreck the target-nation’s economy, that target-nation is officially an ‘enemy’, and that’s because it is allied with or at least friendly toward either Russia, or Iran, or both. America’s 585 billionaires control America’s foreign policies, but disagree on whether America’s top enemy is (if the billionaire is a Republican) Iran, or (if the billionaire is a Democrat) Russia.

For example: If the next President is Biden, then conquering Russia will be the main foreign-policy goal, but if the next President is Trump, then conquering Iran will be.

*  *  *

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Published:6/30/2019 11:22:16 PM
[Markets] 2020 Democrats Slam Trump's North Korea Visit

Democrats running for President slammed President Trump's Sunday visit to North Korea, claiming it was an ill-conceived waste of American bargaining power, according to The Hill's Alex Bolton

After becoming the first US president to set foot on North Korean soil, Trump met with leader Kim Jong Un in a surprise negotiation session that lasted just under an hour on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone - a meeting which will improve future communication just one week after Trump sent Kim a "friendly" letter (probably telling him he'd swing by after the G20). 

Unsurprisingly, Democrats threw shade at the US president, who suggested that the meeting was an achievement that former President Obama had strived for but failed. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden's team slammed Trump for "coddling" dictators "at the expense of American national security and interests," and said "we urgently need a president who can restore our standing in the world, heal relationships with key allies Trump has alienated, and delivered real change for the American people." 

Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the democratic socialist candidate who honeymooned in Moscow, said that Trump's visit "weakened the state department," adding "The concern here is his incredible inconsistencies. I have no problem with him sitting down with Kim Jong-un in North Korea or any place else. But I don’t want it simply to be a photo opportunity, the whole world’s media was attracted there." 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren went for the scalp, tweeting "Our President shouldn’t be squandering American influence on photo ops and exchanging love letters with a ruthless dictator."

Both Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Julián Castro also weighed in, with Klobuchar telling CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday "We want to see a denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, a reduction in these missiles but it’s not as easy as just going and, you know, bringing a hot dish over the fence to the dictator next door" 

"This is a ruthless dictator and when you go forward, you have to have clear focus and a clear mission and clear goals," she added. 

Castro sounded a lot like Sanders, telling ABC's "This Week": "It's worrisome that this president erratically sets up a meeting without the staff work being done. It seems like it's all for show, it's not substantive," adding 'I am all for speaking with our adversaries, what's happened here is this president has raised the profile of a dictator like Kim Jong Un and now three times visited with him unsuccessfully because he’s doing it backward" 

Yang did not gang up

Democratic candidate Andrew Yang was the only 2020 Democrat to praise Trump's meeting with Kim, tweeting: "Anything that improves the political climate on the Korean peninsula and engages North Korea on its nuclear program is a good thing." 

Published:6/30/2019 8:52:20 PM
[Markets] The Tulsi Effect: Forcing War Onto The Democratic Agenda

Authored by Danny Sjursen via The American Conservative,

She is the only candidate who has made ending the wars a centerpiece of her campaign, which will likely lead to her undoing...

Democrats, liberals, progressives - call them what you will - don’t really do foreign policy. Sure, if cornered, they’ll spout a few choice talking points, and probably find a way to make them all about bashing President Donald Trump—ignoring the uncomfortable fact that their very own Barack Obama led and expanded America’s countless wars for eight long years. 

This was ever so apparent in the first two nights of Democratic primary debates this week. Foreign policy hardly registered for these candidates with one noteworthy exception: Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard—herself an (anti-war) combat veteran and army officer.

Now primary debates are more show than substance; this has long been the case. Still, to watch the first night’s Democratic primary debates, it was possible to forget that the United States remains mired in several air and ground wars from West Africa to Central Asia. In a two-hour long debate, with 10 would-be nominees plus the moderators, the word Afghanistan was uttered just nine times—you know, once for every two years American troops have been killing and dying there. Iraq was uttered just twice—both times by Gabbard. Syria, where Americans have died and still fight, was mentioned not once. Yemen, the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, courtesy of a U.S.-supported Saudi terror campaign didn’t get mentioned a single time, either. 

Night two was mostly worse! Afghanistan was uttered just three times, and there was no question specifically related to the war. Biden did say, in passing, that he doesn’t think there should be “combat troops” in Afghanistan—but notice the qualifier “combat.” That’s a cop-out that allows him to keep advisers and “support” troops in the country indefinitely. These are the games most Democrats play. And by the way, all those supposedly non-combat troops, well, they can and do get killed too.

The only bright spot in the second debate was Senator Bernie Sanders’s single mention of the word Yemen—specifically ending U.S. support for that war and shifting war powers back where they belong—with Congress. Still, most of the candidates had just about nothing to say on this or other war-related topics. Their silence was instructive.

Ironically, then, two more American soldiers were killed in another meaningless firefight in the long meaningless war in Afghanistan on the day of the first Democratic presidential primary debate. Indeed, were it not for this horrendous event—the deaths of the 3,550th and 3,551st coalition troops in an 18-year-old war—Afghanistan might not have ever made it onto Rachel Maddow’s debate questions list.

I mourn each and every service-member’s death in that unwinnable war; to say nothing of the far more numerous Afghan civilian fatalities. Still, in a macabre sort of way, I was glad the topic came up, even under such dismal circumstances. After all, Maddow’s question on the first night was one of precious few posed on the subject of foreign policy at all. Moreover, it spurred the most interesting, engaging, and enlightening exchange of either evening—between Gabbard and Ohio Representative Tim Ryan.

Reminding the audience of the recent troop deaths in the country, Maddow asked Ryan, “Why isn’t [the Afghanistan war] over? Why can’t presidents of very different parties and very different temperaments get us out of there? And how could you?” Ryan had a ready, if wholly conventional and obtuse, answer:

“The lesson” of these many years of wars is clear, he opined; the United States must stay “engaged,” “completely engaged,” in fact, even if “no one likes” it and it’s “tedious.”

I heard this, vomited a bit into my mouth, and thought “spare me!"

Ryan’s platitudes didn’t answer the question, for starters, and hardly engaged with American goals, interests, exit strategies, or a basic cost-benefit analysis in the war. In the space of a single sentence, Ryan proved himself just another neoliberal militarist, you know, the “reluctant” Democratic imperialist type. He made it clear he’s Hilary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Chuck Schumer rolled into one, except instead of cynically voting for the 2003 Iraq war, he was defending an off-the-rails Afghanistan war in its 18th year.

Gabbard pounced, and delivered the finest foreign policy screed of the night. And more power to her. Interrupting Ryan, she poignantly asked:

Is that what you will tell the parents of those two soldiers who were just killed in Afghanistan?

Well, we just have to be engaged?

As a soldier, I will tell you that answer is unacceptable. We have to bring our troops home from Afghanistan...

We have spent so much money. Money that’s coming out of every one of our pockets...

We are no better off in Afghanistan today than we were when this war began. This is why it is so important to have a president — commander in chief who knows the cost of war and is ready to do the job on day one.

In a few tight sentences, Gabbard distilled decades’ worth of antiwar critique and summarized what I’ve been writing for years—only I’ve killed many trees composing more than 20,000 words on the topic. The brevity of her terse comment, coupled with her unique platform as a veteran, only added to its power. Bravo, Tulsi, bravo!

Ryan was visibly shaken and felt compelled to retort with a standard series of worn out tropes. And Gabbard was ready for each one, almost as though she’d heard them all before (and probably has). The U.S. military has to stay, Ryan pleaded, because: “if the United States isn’t engaged the Taliban will grow and they will have bigger, bolder terrorist acts.” Gabbard cut him right off. “The Taliban was there long before we came in. They’ll be there long [after] we leave,” she thundered.

But because we didn’t “squash them,” before 9/11 Ryan complained, “they started flying planes into our buildings.” This, of course, is the recycled and easily refuted safe haven myth—the notion that the Taliban would again host transnational terrorists the moment our paltry 14,500 troops head back to Milwaukee. It’s ridiculous. There’s no evidence to support this desperate claim and it fails to explain why the United States doesn’t station several thousand troops in the dozensof global locales with a more serious al-Qaeda or ISIS presence than Afghanistan does. Gabbard would have none of it. “The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11,” she reminded Ryan, “al-Qaeda did.” It’s an important distinction, lost on mainstream interventionist Democrats and Republicans alike.

Ryan couldn’t possibly open his mind to such complexity, nuance, and, ultimately, realism. He clearly worships at the temple of war inertia; his worldview hostage to the absurd notion that the U.S. military has little choice but to fight everywhere, anywhere, because, well, that’s what it’s always done. Which leads us to what should be an obvious conclusion: Ryan, and all who think like him, should be immediately disqualified by true progressives and libertarians alike. His time has past. Ryan and his ilk have left a scorched region and a shaken American republic for the rest of us.

Still, there was one more interesting query for the first night’s candidates. What is the greatest geopolitical threat to the United States today, asked Maddow. All 10 Democratic hopefuls took a crack at it, though almost none followed directions and kept their answers to a single word or phrase. For the most part, the answers were ridiculous, outdated, or elementary, spanning Russia, China, even Trump. But none of the debaters listed terrorism as the biggest threat—a huge sea change from answers that candidates undoubtedly would have given just four or eight years ago. 

Which begs the question: why, if terrorism isn’t the priority, do far too many of these presidential aspirants seem willing to continue America’s fruitless, forever fight for the Greater Middle East? It’s a mystery, partly explained by the overwhelming power of the America’s military-industrial-congressional-media complex. Good old President Dwight D. Eisenhower is rolling in his grave, I assure you.

Gabbard, shamefully, is the only one among an absurdly large field of candidates who has put foreign policy, specifically ending the forever wars, at the top of her presidential campaign agenda. Well, unlike just about all of her opponents, she didfight in those very conflicts. The pity is that with an electorate so utterly apathetic about war, her priorities, while noble, might just doom her campaign before it even really starts. That’s instructive, if pitiful.

I, too, served in a series of unwinnable, unnecessary, unethical wars. Like her, I’ve chosen to publicly dissent in not just strategic, but in moral, language. I join her in her rejection of U.S. militarism, imperialism, and the flimsy justifications for the Afghanistan war—America’s longest war in its history. 

As for the other candidates, when one of them (likely) wins, let’s hope they are prepared the question Tulsi so powerfully posed to Ryan: what will they tell the parents of the next soldier that dies in America’s hopeless Afghanistan war?

Published:6/30/2019 7:25:07 PM
[US News] DUDE: Joe ‘I was Barack Obama’s vice president’ Biden attacks Trump for visiting DMZ, trips over 2009-2017

Memory slippin', Joe?

The post DUDE: Joe ‘I was Barack Obama’s vice president’ Biden attacks Trump for visiting DMZ, trips over 2009-2017 appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/30/2019 4:50:14 PM
[Media] CNN analyst believes the reason Trump wants to denuclearize NoKo is found in Barack Obama’s trophy case

Oh ok.

The post CNN analyst believes the reason Trump wants to denuclearize NoKo is found in Barack Obama’s trophy case appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/30/2019 2:24:37 PM
[Politics] Frm. DNI James Clapper Rejects Trump's Claim Kim Rebuffed Obama Amid rejection of President Donald Trump's suggestion North Korea rebuffed Obama administration meeting requests, Obama-era Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said "that's news to me.""I don't know where he's getting that," Clapper told CNN's "State of the... Published:6/30/2019 12:49:44 PM
[Politics] Hey Castro, if deporting 2,000 people is “terrorism” then you are for OPEN BORDERS Check out this video of that dimwit wannabe Julian Castro saying that deporting 2,000 people is “terrorizing” immigrant families: Listen, thats a bunch of bull-obama. There are at least 11 million illegal . . . Published:6/30/2019 10:49:57 AM
[Politics] Hey Castro, if deporting 2,000 people is “terrorism” then you are for OPEN BORDERS Check out this video of that dimwit wannabe Julian Castro saying that deporting 2,000 people is “terrorizing” immigrant families: Listen, thats a bunch of bull-obama. There are at least 11 million illegal . . . Published:6/30/2019 10:49:57 AM
[2019 News] Trump meets Kim in DMZ, becomes first sitting US president to step into Hermit Kingdom (North Korea) Trump meets Kim in DMZ, becomes first sitting US president to step into Hermit Kingdom. (North Korea). Jealous assed Democrats will be bitching and moaning about this. All Obama ever did was send Denis Rodman. Published:6/30/2019 9:25:25 AM
[Markets] Mainstream Media "Outraged!" That US Missiles Are In "Unknown" Libyan Rebel Hands

The New York Times is outraged, just outraged! — that US anti-tank missiles have been found in "unknown" Libyan rebel hands. Of course, when tons of American military hardware was covertly sent to al-Qaeda linked "rebels" fighting to topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and when those same weapons were later transferred to the anti-Assad insurgency in Syria, many of them no doubt used by ISIS and al-Nusra Front, the mainstream media didn't find much to complain about. But now the "scandal" is being uncovered in 2019? 

Currently, it's the UN-backed government in Tripoli which finds itself on the receiving end of deadly accurate high-tech US-made weapons systems, according to the Times:

Libyan government fighters discovered a cache of powerful American missiles, usually sold only to close American allies, at a captured rebel base in the mountains south of Tripoli this week.

The four Javelin anti-tank missiles, which cost more than $170,000 each, had ended up bolstering the arsenal of Gen. Khalifa Hifter, whose forces are waging a military campaign to take over Libya and overthrow a government the United States supports.

Markings on the missiles’ shipping containers indicate that they were originally sold to the United Arab Emirates, an important American partner, in 2008.

It was only months ago that President Trump for the first time voiced public support to Haftar's forces, which are engaged in a renewed civil war against the UN-supported Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. The president's April comments signaled a complete reversal of US policy, given that up to that point the US had officially backed the GNA.

“We take all allegations of misuse of U.S. origin defense articles very seriously,” a State Department official said in a statement following the Javelin anti-tank missile recovery.

“We are aware of these reports and are seeking additional information. We expect all recipients of U.S. origin defense equipment to abide by their end-use obligations,” the statement continued. 

The Times report noted further, "If the Emirates transferred the weapons to General Hifter, it would likely violate the sales agreement with the United States as well as a United Nations arms embargo."

Gen. Haftar  who solidified control of Eastern Libya over the past two years and swept through the south early this year, has sought to capture Tripoli and seize military control of the entire country, with the support of countries like the UAE and France, but is strongly opposed by Turkey and most European countries. 

Haftar has long been described by many analysts as "the CIA's man in Libya" — given he spent a couple decades living in exile a mere few minutes from CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia during Gaddafi's rule.

He was inserted back onto the Libyan battlefield before Gaddafi's eventual capture and field execution at the hands of NATO supported Islamist fighters in 2011.  

The NYT offered further details of the US weapons recovered this week as follows:

Markings on the missile crates identify their joint manufacturer, the arms giants Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, and a contract number that corresponds with a $115 million order for Javelin missiles that was placed by the United Arab Emirates and Oman in 2008.

Again, isn't it a little late for the mainstream media to somehow only now discover and care about the "scandal" of major US weapons systems in "unknown rebel hands"?

From Libya to Syria: Walkie talkie courtesy of Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Missile launcher courtesy of Hillary Clinton’s Libya War.

For a trip down memory lane, and to review just what Obama and Hillary's original Libya war has wrought, see Dan Sanchez's 2015 essay, "Where Does ISIS Get Those Wonderful Toys?"

Published:6/29/2019 7:16:56 PM
[Markets] Hypocrisy At The Border: Trump Villified For Obama's Immigration Policy

Authored by Kelli Ballard via LibertyNation.com,

If “caging kids” was okay for Obama, what makes it inhumane for Trump?

Now that the first round of Democratic debates are out of the way, it’s time to hammer down on the left’s constant caterwauling about the president’s immigration policies and caging of kids. The relentless barrage of insults aimed at Donald Trump for his cruelty and inhumane actions towards illegal aliens, families, and children is reminiscent of rabid wolves looking for their next victim. They are so far out of their minds with Trump Derangement Syndrome they can’t see the truth: These heinous tactics and polices were instituted before the Trump administration.

Democrats frequently praise former president Barack Obama but conveniently forget about his strict immigration policies, many of which they attribute to Trump today and call outrageous and cold-hearted. In a 2014 interview with ABC News, Obama talked about the impossibility of tracking all of the children who get sold into sex slavery and other nefarious endings and warns immigrants not to send their kids to America. “So, that is our direct message to the families in Central America, do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they’ll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it.”

Obama’s Detention Centers Vs Trump’s Concentration Camps

Recently, as Liberty Nation’s Jeff Charles reported, the dim-witted media darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) compared the migrant detention centers to the horrific concentration camps of the Holocaust. “The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border and that is exactly what they are,” she said. First, the young representative needs to learn the differences between the two – of which there are many. Second, we are using the exact same centers that were put into place under the Obama administration.

Thomas Homan was Obama’s executive associate director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for nearly four years. He confirmed that these facilities were the former president’s conception.

“I’ve been to that facility, where they talk about cages,” he said. “That facility was built under President Obama under [Homeland Security] Secretary Jeh Johnson. I was there because I was there when it was built.”

During an immigration conference on June 26, Homan cited an instance where the Democratic chairman had asked a Trump official if kids were still being kept in cages:

“I would answer the question, ‘The kids are being house in the same facility built under the Obama administration.’ If you want to call them cages, call them cages. But if the left wants to call them cages and the Democrats want to call them cages then they have to accept the fact that they were built and funded in FY 2015.”

About those cages: “It’s chain link dividers that keeps children separate from unrelated adults,” he said. “It’s about protecting children.”

While Democrats like Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) go around claiming that illegal immigrants shouldn’t be considered illegal, Obama had the opposite view.

“Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws,” he said in an address to the nation in Nov. 2014.

“Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable. Especially those who may be dangerous.”

The left’s continued narrative of caging children and separating families is redundant and grossly exaggerated. They refuse to acknowledge any positives our president introduces, such as when he signed Executive Order #13841, ordering that detained families would not be separated unless the parents pose a danger to the child.

Democrats also ignore the very real threat of the invasion of hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens trying to force their way across our border daily. The left lost their minds when Trump declared a national emergency to combat the migrant war at our southern border. Obama faced opposition when he tried to implement stricter immigration control too:

“The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, but they’re the kind of actions taken by every single Republican president and every single Democrat president for the past half century. To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.

Published:6/29/2019 4:54:13 PM
[Markets] Trump's Border Billions Blocked By Obama-Judge Who Donated Tens Of Thousands To Former Prez

A federal judge appointed by former President Barack Obama after contributing heavily to his campaigns has blocked the Trump administration from reallocating $2.5 billion to construct border barriers, according to the Daily Caller

US District Judge Haywood Gilliam expanded on a May 24 order, forbidding the Trump administration from breaking ground on specific border wall projects in California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. He also turned his previous order into a permanent injunctionaccording to the Caller's Kevin Daley

After declaring a national emergency at the southern border, the administration announced it would reprogram $600 million from the Treasury Department’s forfeiture fund, $2.5 billion from Defense Department counter-narcotics activities, and $3.6 billion from military construction projects to finance construction of the wall. The $2.5 billion for counter-drug efforts were at issue in Friday’s case.

The plaintiff in Friday’s case is the Sierra Club, an environmentalist group that claims “recreational and aesthetic interests” in habitats near the border, like “hiking, birdwatching, photography and other professional, scientific, recreational, and aesthetic uses.” A border wall will inevitably restrict their access to those habitats, the plaintiffs say, thereby diminishing their quality of life. They also fear heightened racial tensions and environmental damage. -Daily Caller

"Congress considered all of defendants’ proffered needs for border barrier construction, weighed the public interest in such construction against defendants’ request for taxpayer money, and struck what it considered to be the proper balance — in the public’s interest — by making available only $1.375 billion in funding, which was for certain border barrier construction not at issue here," reads Gilliam's order. 

As the Epoch Times noted last month, "U.S. District Court Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. was confirmed in 2014 after being nominated by Obama and receiving a recommendation by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)." 

Gilliam also donated tens of thousands of dollars towards electing and reelecting Obama.  

According to federal election records, Gilliam donated $6,900 to Obama’s campaign for president—$4,600 to Obama for America and $2,300 to the Obama Victory Fund.

Gilliam donated additional funds to Obama’s re-election campaign, sending $13,500 to Obama for America and Obama Victory Fund 2012. He also donated $4,500 to the Democratic National Committee. From 2012 to November 2014, he sent $3,100 to the Covington and Burling LLP PAC. -Epoch Times

"Congress was clear in denying funds for Trump’s xenophobic obsession with a wasteful, harmful wall" said ACLU staff attorney Dror Ladin, who argued the case. "This decision upholds the basic principle that the president has no power to spend taxpayer money without Congress’ approval. We will continue to defend this core principle of our democracy, which the courts have recognized for centuries." 

Gilliam denied the Trump administration's request to stay his ruling pending appeal to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Published:6/29/2019 12:15:01 PM
[Customs, Border and Immigration News] Federal Judge Blocks Billions Of Dollars For Border Wall Funding

By Kevin Daley -

A federal judge in California barred the Trump administration Friday night from reallocating $2.5 billion to construct border barriers. U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam, an Obama appointee, expanded an earlier order and forbade the government from moving forward with specific border wall projects in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. ...

Federal Judge Blocks Billions Of Dollars For Border Wall Funding 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:6/29/2019 11:51:56 AM
[Markets] Johnstone: Kamala Harris Is An Oligarch's Wet Dream

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

California Senator Kamala Harris won the Democratic presidential debate last night. It was not a close contest. She will win every debate she enters during this election cycle. If she becomes the nominee, she will win every debate with Trump.

Night two of the debates was just as vapid and ridiculous as night one. Candidates interrupted and talked over each other a lot, questions about foreign policy were avoided like the plague to prevent NBC viewers from thinking critically about the mechanics of empire, and Eric Swalwell kept talking despite everyone in the universe desperately wanting him not to. Buttigieg and Gillibrand did alright, Bernie played the same note he’s been playing for decades, and everyone was reminded how bad Joe Biden is at talking and thinking.

Biden has been treated kindly by polls and regarded as a “frontrunner” in this race exclusively because for the last decade he hasn’t had to do anything other than be associated with Barack Obama. Now that he’s had to step out of that insulated role and interact with reality again, everyone’s seeing the same old garbage right-wing Democrat who sucks at making himself look appealing just as badly as he did in his last two presidential campaigns. By the end of the night, even Michael Bennet was slapping him around.

The moment everyone’s talking about was when Harris created a space for herself to attack Biden on his citing his collaboration with segregationists as an example of his ability to reach across the aisle and “get things done”. Harris had not been called upon to speak, and once given the go-ahead by moderator Rachel Maddow after interjecting went way beyond the 30 seconds she’d been allotted in tearing Biden apart. She skillfully took control of the stage and engineered the entire space for the confrontation by sheer dominance of personality, and Biden had no answer for it.

That’s the moment everyone’s talking about. But Harris had already been owning the debate prior to that.

The goal of a political debate is to make yourself look appealing and electable to your audience. You can do that by having a very good platform, or you can do it with charisma and oratory skills. It turns out that Kamala Harris is really, really good at doing the latter. She made frequent and effective appeals to emotion, she built to applause lines far more skillfully than anyone else on the stage, she kept her voice unwavering and without stammer, she made herself look like a leader by admonishing the other candidates to stop talking over each other, and she hit all the right progressive notes you’re supposed to hit in such a debate.

Unlike night one of the debates, night two had a clear, dominant winner. If you were a casual follower of US politics and didn’t have a favorite coming into the debate, you likely went away feeling that Harris was the best.

This wasn’t a fluke. Harris has been cultivating her debate skills for decades, first in the Howard University debate team where she is said to have “thrived”, then as a prosecutor, then as a politician, and she’ll be able to replicate the same calibre of performance in all subsequent debates. There’s more to getting elected than debate skills, but it matters, and in this area no one will be able to touch her.

Harris won the debate despite fully exposing herself for the corporate imperialist she is in the midst of that very debate. While answering a question about climate change she took the opportunity to attack Trump on foreign policy, not for his insane and dangerous hawkishness but for not being hawkish enough, on both North Korea and Russia.

“You asked what is the greatest national-security threat to the United States. It’s Donald Trump,” Harris said. “You want to talk about North Korea, a real threat in terms of its nuclear arsenal. But what does he do? He embraces Kim Jong Un, a dictator, for the sake of a photo op. Putin. You want to talk about Russia? He takes the word of the Russian president over the word of the American intelligence community when it comes to a threat to our democracy and our elections.”

Harris is everything the US empire’s unelected power establishment wants in a politician: charismatic, commanding, and completely unprincipled. In that sense she’s like Obama, only better.

Harris was one of the 2020 presidential hopefuls who came under fire at the beginning of the year when it was reported that she’d been reaching out to Wall Street executives to find out if they’d support her campaign. Executives named in the report include billionaire Blackstone CEO Jonathan Gray, 32 Advisors’ Robert Wolf, and Centerbridge Partners founder Mark Gallogly. It was reported two entire years ago that Harris was already courting top Hillary Clinton donors and organizers in the Hamptons. She hasn’t been in politics very long, but her campaign contributions as a senator have come from numerous plutocratic institutions.

Trump supporters like to claim that the president is fighting the establishment, citing the open revulsion that so many noxious establishment figures have for him. But the establishment doesn’t hate Trump because he opposes them; he doesn’t oppose existing power structures in any meaningful way at all. The reason the heads of those power structures despise Trump is solely because he sucks at narrative management and puts an ugly face on the ugly things that America’s permanent government is constantly doing. He’s bad at managing their assets.

Kamala Harris is the exact opposite of this. She’d be able to obliterate non-compliant nations and dead-end the left for eight years, and look good while doing it. She’s got the skills to become president, and she’ll have the establishment backing as well. Keep an eye on this one.

*  *  *

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 work is 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. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Published:6/28/2019 8:41:02 PM
[Markets] Blatant Election Rigging: Twitter Wants To Make Sure We Never Have Another President Like Trump

Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

Just in time for the 2020 election, Twitter has come up with a new “policy” that is obviously intended to neuter the effectiveness of President Trump’s Twitter account. 

Right now, Trump has 61.4 million followers on Twitter, and his tweets regularly make headlines all over the world.  Trump has been devastatingly effective on Twitter for years, and his social media strategy was one of the keys to his victory in 2016.  Needless to say, the radical leftists that run Twitter were absolutely horrified by Trump’s upset victory, and they want to do whatever they can to make sure that such a thing never happens again. 

They started by deleting, shadowbanning and greatly suppressing the accounts of prominent conservatives.  Personally, my own account has been shadowbanned for a very long time.  I have over 16,000 followers, but if you check out my account you will notice that I barely get any retweets at all these days.  However, a few years ago there was a ton of interaction with my tweets.  An expert looked into it and found that just like so many other prominent conservatives, I had been shadowbanned.

But all of the censorship that we have seen so far is apparently not enough for the control freaks at Twitter, and so now they are going after President Trump himself.

On Thursday, Twitter announced a brand new policy which is obviously aimed at the White House.  The following comes from Twitter’s official blog post about this new policy…

With this in mind, there are certain cases where it may be in the public’s interest to have access to certain Tweets, even if they would otherwise be in violation of our rules. On the rare occasions when this happens, we’ll place a notice – a screen you have to click or tap through before you see the Tweet – to provide additional context and clarity. We’ll also take steps to make sure the Tweet is not algorithmically elevated on our service, to strike the right balance between enabling free expression, fostering accountability, and reducing the potential harm caused by these Tweets.

Who does this apply to?

We will only consider applying this notice on Tweets from accounts that meet the following criteria. The account must:

  • Be or represent a government official, be running for public office, or be considered for a government position (i.e., next in line, awaiting confirmation, named successor to an appointed position);

  • Have more than 100,000 followers; and

  • Be verified.

That said, there are cases, such as direct threats of violence or calls to commit violence against an individual, that are unlikely to be considered in the public interest.

They are trying to make this sound like a “neutral” policy that will apply evenly to all government officials, but if you believe that then there is a bridge not too far from Twitter headquarters that I would like to sell you.

In essence, Twitter is telling us that they are going to start suppressing President Trump’s tweets.  And if other conservative government officials get out of line, they will be censored too.

This is happening right out in the open, and Twitter is brazenly admitting that any tweets that they slap with this “notice” will “feature less prominently on Twitter”

When a Tweet has this notice placed on it, it will feature less prominently on Twitter, and not appear in:

  • Safe search

  • Timeline when switched to Top Tweets

  • Live events pages

  • Recommended Tweet push notifications

  • Notifications tab

  • Explore

This notice won’t be applied to any Tweets sent before today and, given the conditions outlined above, it’s unlikely you’ll encounter it often. We cannot predict the first time it will be used, but we wanted to give you more information about this new notice before you come across it on Twitter.

And when Twitter decides that something will “feature less prominently”, it might as well not even be there at all.  I know that very well, because this is what has been happening to my tweets for years.

I might as well be tweeting into a black hole.

And is it just a coincidence that this new “policy” was announced about 24 hours after President Trump publicly accused Twitter of censoring him?

The move, announced Thursday, came barely 24 hours after President Donald Trump accused the social media platform’s leaders of censoring him in a bid to limit the circulation of his ideas.

Of course Twitter is far from alone.

All over the Internet, social media companies are making an all-out effort to influence the outcome of the 2020 election.

For example, the day before Twitter announced their new policy, Reddit “quarantined” one of the most popular pro-Trump subreddits…

On Wednesday, Reddit “quarantined” a popular pro-Donald Trump forum on its site. Although the move was prompted because the “r/The_Donald” subreddit was hosting violent threats and violating other site policies, it’s likely to add to Republicans’ complaints that social media companies are biased against conservatives.

Reddit put the message board, which is a popular place for Trump fans to gather and stir up support, in a sort of virtual detention due to what the company called “significant issues with reporting and addressing violations” of its content policy.

Could you imagine what would have happened if the big social media companies had blatantly tried to rig elections against Barack Obama?

There would have been rioting in the streets and Democrats would have been steaming mad.

So why are conservatives taking this censorship with so much apathy?

During the last election cycle, a number of candidates that were boldly speaking out against social media censorship ran for Congress, but almost all of them lost.

As a result, right now there are only a few members of Congress that are actively trying to do something about this.

We are literally losing our country, and only a very small minority of the people care enough to get involved.

At this point the major social media companies are not even attempting to hide their blatant election-rigging anymore, and it looks like they may totally get away with it.

Published:6/28/2019 5:09:54 PM
[Lefties on Parade] Thoughts about the two Democrat debates

I watched both of the Democrat debates. I’ve now had 43 hours to ruminate about Wednesday’s debate and 19 hours to ruminate about Thursday’s debate. That’s given me a little perspective. For what it’s worth, here’s what I think: I. The debates as a whole. When Obama ran in 2008 and again in 2012, he […]

The post Thoughts about the two Democrat debates appeared first on Bookworm Room.

Published:6/28/2019 4:39:45 PM
[Customs, Border and Immigration News] The Supreme Court Just Made An Announcement About DACA |

By Kevin Daley -

US Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will decide whether President Donald Trump can rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program during its next term, the justices announced Friday. DACA is an Obama-era amnesty initiative that extends temporary legal status to 700,000 foreign nationals who came to the U.S. as children. The ...

The Supreme Court Just Made An Announcement About DACA | 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:6/28/2019 10:30:43 AM
[Politics] BREAKING: Supreme Court agrees to decide DACA The Supreme Court has decided to hear the challenge to Trump’s ending of Obama’s illegal DACA program: #SCOTUS will take up challenge to Trump administration’s decision to end DACA, program that allowed . . . Published:6/28/2019 9:38:13 AM
[Politics] BREAKING: Supreme Court agrees to decide DACA The Supreme Court has decided to hear the challenge to Trump’s ending of Obama’s illegal DACA program: #SCOTUS will take up challenge to Trump administration’s decision to end DACA, program that allowed . . . Published:6/28/2019 9:10:34 AM
[Gun News] Biden Proves He’s Just Another Democrat Who Doesn’t Know Anything About Guns

By R. Mitchell -

Former Vice President Joe Biden waxed fantastic Thursday about his record on gun control by proving that he has no idea how firearms work. Obama’s second-in-command told the crowd at round 2 of the DNC debates that he was the “only guy that got assault weapons banned.” The Federal Assault ...

Biden Proves He’s Just Another Democrat Who Doesn’t Know Anything About Guns 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:6/28/2019 6:10:02 AM
[Markets] "2020 Race Is Over" Post-Mortem Of Second Dem Debate: Kamala Crushes Bernie & Biden

President Trump commented on the second Democratic Party primary debate as his meeting began with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Group of 20 summit in Japan:

"They definitely have plenty of candidates, that's about it," Trump said of the debate while seated next to Merkel.

"I look forward to spending time with you, rather than watching."

The previous night's debate, he added, "wasn't very exciting."

Trump also tweeted about the Democratic health care pledge to undocumented immigrants.

"How about taking care of American Citizens first!?" he tweeted.

"That’s the end of that race!"

And if the extremist perspectives of the primary continue that may well be true.

As Liberty Nation's Graham Noble details, the second night of debate was more feisty, more confrontational, and even more radical.

Night two of the first Democratic Party primary debate, featuring most of the heavy-hitters among the 25-strong field of candidates, promised to be less mundane than the first night. The event lived up to that promise, and most of the ten candidates seemed more feisty than their colleagues who debated on night one. The Democrats may be fatally flawed in their search for a candidate who can defeat President Donald Trump in 2020, though. That flaw is the fundamental misunderstanding of what America is all about.

There was far more confrontation, this time, between the candidates and whereas on the first night President Donald Trump was hardly mentioned, several of the second-night candidates launched hysterical and exaggerated attacks upon the man they aspire to replace.

The Pressure Of Competition

It may have been the lineup itself that spurred a more fierce and passionate exchange: Sens. Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg are all considered leading contenders for the Democratic nomination, and so the pressure was on for each of them to stand out.

For those other candidates who may be considered less likely to make the stage at the 2020 Democratic Party convention, the opportunity to hold their own against the front-runners was too good to pass up.

The Common Theme Of Socialized Healthcare

Following the same format as the previous night’s debate, the first half-hour was devoted to the issue of healthcare. The candidates touted variations of the same policy goal, which is to take the nation into a government-run, single-payer system. Sanders and Harris were the only two candidates who signaled their intention to completely do away with private health insurance.

It is worth noting that, even in European countries operating variations of socialized healthcare systems, private insurance is still an option. Removing even the possibility of a private option is an extreme position even when viewed through a global perspective.

Sanders claimed that, under his system, Americans would be able to choose their doctor and choose which hospital they visit, but the nation has heard that before. In a single-payer system with no private option, this is quite simply a false promise. Interestingly, every candidate pledged that their respective healthcare policies would include coverage for illegal aliens.

As with the first round of this debate, the discussion spanned gun violence, immigration, climate change, and foreign policy. As with the first round, there were all kinds of vague promises to quickly solve all these problems – often “on day one” of the new president’s term. One wonders how these issues have not been long ago resolved if they were all so simple to deal with.

Winners And Losers

Sen. Harris will almost certainly be considered the biggest winner of the night.

[ZH: Certainly judging once again based on Google Search interest, Harris was the clear winner]

Her first opportunity to speak came as several candidates were already talking over each other. When finally the moderators calmed the crosstalk, Harris said “Guys, you know what? America does not want to witness a food fight; they want to know how we’re going to put food on the table.” It was a good line and Harris continued to make an impression – at one point, directly confronting Biden over his recent comments about working with segregationists in the Senate.