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[World] BOOK REVIEW: 'The Birth of the FBI'

Most people credit the birth of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to its first and longest-serving director, J. Edgar Hoover, but as Willard M. Oliver notes in his book, “The Birth of the FBI: Teddy Roosevelt, the Secret Service, and the Fight Over America’s Law Enforcement Agency,” it was actually ... Published:7/30/2019 5:16:23 PM

[Markets] There's Blood On The Streets Of Baltimore, Homicides Flare-Up, Could See Record Year

Out of control gun violence continues to plague Baltimore through mid-Summer, extending a years-long surge in shootings.

As of Tuesday morning, 196 people have been killed, if that was from a gunshot wound, stabbing, blunt force, and or asphyxiation.

Baltimore's revival started in the early 2000s, primarily when Under Armour based their global headquarters in the Inner Harbor. But everything changed when Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, was arrested by Baltimore Police and died in police custody in 2015. Riots broke out shortly after, causing more than $10 million in damage, as cars and buildings burned to the ground, reminding everyone what a mess Baltimore has become.

Since the riots, Baltimore homicides have surpassed 300 each year from 2015 through 2018, and 2019 could soon be one of the worst years ever.

Cumulative homicide trends show 2019 could be following the path of 2017 homicides, which would mean 300-342 murders by year-end.

Homicides ticked higher through spring and have exploded during the summer months. It seems that Baltimore has a gun problem.

A vast majority of the murders occurred in the Southwestern, Western, Eastern, and Northwestern districts (basically the entire city).

Crime statistics published by the FBI ranked Baltimore's homicide rate in 2017, the highest of any large American city. The 342 homicides in 2017 represented a "homicide rate of 56 per 100,000 people."

While homicides in Baltimore continue to gain momentum, killings declined nationally through 1H19. New York City's murders declined 13.5% and Chicago's decline of more than 7%.

Despite being 14x larger than Baltimore, New York has lower overall killings per year.

"I'm not happy about it, and neither should any citizen in Baltimore be happy," Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young said in early July. "It's disheartening to be labeled the most violent city in America."

And with three days (as of Monday) of tweets by President Donald Trump blasting Democratic U.S. Rep. Elijah Cumming for his "disgusting, rat and rodent-infested" Baltimore district," the national debate about race, urban poverty, and homicides becomes mainstream.

What is most puzzling to us is that President Trump continues to tout low black unemployment and the "best economy ever" for these low-income folks, but points out the horrid conditions in Baltimore (something must be amiss in the black unemployment data).

But let's take a step back decades ago, when Baltimore had nearly 1 million in total population back in the late 1950s, ever since, the population has crashed to 100-year lows last year, now around 600,000.

It wasn't Democrats that started the demise of Baltimore, and like many other industrial cities across America, it was the corporate elitist, who reallocated resources and labor out of America over the last five decades to other regions of the world, all to enrich shareholders while American inner cities imploded.

It was the big pharma companies, who in the last two decades pumped millions and millions of legal opioid pills onto the streets of Baltimore - destroying the millennial youth.

Baltimore is a failure of all levels of government, both political parties, after all, it's located just 40 miles north of Washington, D.C.

The more time politicians blame one another, the less time we have in finding productive measures that could lay the groundwork for a potential revival. Coming up with a solution for Baltimore will serve as a blueprint to revive deindustrialized areas across the country. Judging by the progress, this revival is decades out. The "greatest economy ever" is a hoax.

Enjoy reality: "Cause it's ruthless, and don't tell me you're ruthless too. When there is blood on the streets of Baltimore." 

Published:7/30/2019 11:13:58 AM
[The Blog] Report: FBI, US Olympic Committee knew about Nassar’s serial abuse for a year or more — and did nothing

"Top people ... need to be held accountable."

The post Report: FBI, US Olympic Committee knew about Nassar’s serial abuse for a year or more — and did nothing appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:7/30/2019 8:13:02 AM
[Markets] Capital One Admits Massive Data Breach: 100 Million Americans Affected, Seattle Woman Arrested

Just a few short days after the Equifax data breach settlement - which affected 147 million Americans - Capital One Financial has just issued a statement confirming that on July 19th 2019, there was unauthorized access by an outside individual who obtained certain types of personal information relating to people who had applied for its credit card products and to Capital One credit card customers.

Based on their analysis, this event affected approximately 100 million individuals in the United States and approximately 6 million in Canada.

"While I am grateful that the perpetrator has been caught, I am deeply sorry for what has happened," said Richard D. Fairbank, Chairman and CEO.

"I sincerely apologize for the understandable worry this incident must be causing those affected and I am committed to making it right."

As The Washington Post reports, The FBI has arrested Paige A. Thompson, a Seattle area woman, on a charge of computer fraud and abuse, court records say. Thompson, who authorities say used the name “erratic” in online conversations, is suspected of “exfiltrating and stealing information, including credit card applications and other documents, from Capital One,” according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court. She was ordered to remain in jail pending a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday, according to court records.

It is unusual in a major hacking case for a suspect to be apprehended so quickly, and in this case, that was apparently due to boasts made online. In one online posting, “erratic” wrote:

“I’ve basically strapped myself with a bomb vest, [expletive] dropping capitol ones dox and admitting it,” according to the complaint.

The Capital One press release concludes:

We will notify affected individuals through a variety of channels. We will make free credit monitoring and identity protection available to everyone affected.

Safeguarding our customers' information is essential to our mission and our role as a financial institution. We have invested heavily in cybersecurity and will continue to do so. We will incorporate the learnings from this incident to further strengthen our cyber defenses.

We are very thankful to the FBI's Seattle Field Office and Special Agent Joel Martini, to U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran, and to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven Masada and Andrew Friedman of the Western District of Washington for the speed with which they responded to this incident and apprehended the responsible party.

For more information about this incident and what Capital One is doing to respond, visit www.capitalone.com/facts2019. In Canada, information can be found at www.capitalone.ca/facts2019 and www.capitalone.ca/facts2019/fr. The investigation is ongoing and analysis is subject to change. As we learn more, we will update these websites to provide additional information.

Bloomberg reports that in court on Monday, Thompson broke down and laid her head down on the defense table during the hearing. She is charged with a single count of computer fraud and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Published:7/29/2019 6:40:31 PM
[Law] Maria Butina’s Attorney Says Feds Withheld Exculpatory Information Provided by FBI Informant

A lawyer for Maria Butina is accusing federal prosecutors of withholding exculpatory information that the CEO of a multibillion-dollar company provided the FBI about the... Read More

The post Maria Butina’s Attorney Says Feds Withheld Exculpatory Information Provided by FBI Informant appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:7/29/2019 6:40:31 PM
[a3e4eb1f-e972-518c-a34f-257b51d0afbe] Real ‘Mindhunter’ John Douglas says he believes serial killer Todd Kohlhepp murdered more victims in doc Former FBI special agent John Douglas, the inspiration behind Netflix’s true-crime drama “Mindhunter,” believes serial killer Todd Kohlhepp when he says there are more bodies to be discovered. Published:7/29/2019 4:08:21 AM
[Markets] No Accountability In Washington. The CIA Wants To Hide All Its 'Assets'

Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Government that actually serves the interests of the people who are governed has two essential characteristics: first, it must be transparent in terms of how it debates and develops policies and second, it has to be accountable when it fails in its mandate and ceases to be responsive to the needs of the electorate.

Over the past twenty years one might reasonably argue that Washington has become less a “of the people, by the people and for the people” and increasingly a model of how special interests can use money to corrupt government. The recent story about how serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein avoided any serious punishment by virtue of his wealth and his political connections, including to both ex-president Bill Clinton and to current chief executive Donald Trump, demonstrates how even the most despicable criminals can avoid being brought to justice.

This erosion of what one might describe as republican virtue has been exacerbated by a simultaneous weakening of the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights, which was intended to serve as a guarantee of individual liberties while also serving as a bulwark against government overreach. In recent cases in the United States, a young man had his admission to Harvard revoked over comments posted online when he was fifteen that were considered racist, while a young woman was stripped of a beauty contest title because she refused to don a hijab at a college event and then wrote online about her experience. In both cases, freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment was ruled to be inadmissible by the relevant authorities.

Be that as it may, governmental lack of transparency and accountability is a more serious matter when the government itself becomes a serial manipulator of the truth as it seeks to protect itself from criticism. Reports that the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) is seeking legislation that will expand government ability to declare it a crime to reveal the identities of undercover intelligence agents will inevitably lead to major abuse when some clever bureaucrat realizes that the new rule can also be used to hide people and cover up malfeasance.

A law to protect intelligence officers already exists. It was passed in 1982 and is referred to as the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (I.I.P.A.). It criminalizes the naming of any C.I.A. officer under cover who has served overseas in the past five years. The new legislation would make the ban on exposure perpetual and would also include Agency sources or agents whose work is classified as well as actual C.I.A. staff employees who exclusively or predominantly work in the United States rather than overseas.

The revised legislation is attached to defense and intelligence bills currently being considered by Congress. If it is passed into law, its expanded range of criminal penalties could be employed to silence whistle blowers inside the Agency who become aware of illegal activity and it might also be directed against journalists that the whistleblowers might contact to tell their story.

The Agency has justified the legislation by claiming in a document obtained by The New York Times that “hundreds of covert officers [serving in the United States] have had their identity and covert affiliation disclosed without authorization… C.I.A. officers place themselves in harm’s way in order to carry out C.I.A.’s mission regardless of where they are based. Protecting officers’ identities from foreign adversaries is critical.”

Some Congressmen are disturbed by the perpetual nature of the identification ban, while also believing that the proposed legislation is too broad in general. Senator Ron Wyden expressed had reservations over how the C.I.A. provision would apply indefinitely. “I am not yet convinced this expansion is necessary and am concerned that it will be employed to avoid accountability,” he wrote.

Agency insiders have suggested that the new law is in part a response to increasing leaks of classified information by government employees. It is also a warning shot fired at journalists in the wake of the impending prosecution of Julian Assange of WikiLeaks under the seldom used Espionage Act of 1918. Covert identities legislation is less broad that the Espionage Act, which is precisely why it is attractive. It permits prosecution and punishment solely because someone either has revealed a “covert” name or is suspected of having done so.

But up until now, government prosecutors have only used the 1982 identities law twice. The first time was a 1985 case involving a C.I.A. clerk in Ghana and the second time was the 2012 case of John Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. officer who pleaded guilty to providing a reporter with the name of an under-cover case officer who participated in the agency’s illegal overseas interrogations. Kiriakou has always claimed that he had not in fact named anyone, in spite of his plea, which was agreed to as a plea bargain. The covert officer in question had already been identified in the media.

John Kiriakou also observes how the I.I.P.A. has been inevitably applied selectively. He describes how “These two minor prosecutions aside, very few revelations of C.I.A. identities have ever led to court cases. Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage famously leaked Valerie Plame’s name to two syndicated columnists. He was never charged with a crime. Former C.I.A. Director David Petraeus leaked the names of 10 covert C.I.A. operatives to his adulterous girlfriend, apparently in an attempt to impress her, and was never charged. Former C.I.A. Director Leon Panetta revealed the name of the covert SEAL Team member who killed Osama bin Laden. He apologized and was not prosecuted.”

Kiriakou also explains how the “…implementation of this law is a joke. The C.I.A. doesn’t care when an operative’s identity is revealed — unless they don’t like the politics of the person making the revelation. If they cared, half of the C.I.A. leadership would be in prison. What they do care about, though, is protecting those employees who commit crimes at the behest of the White House or the C.I.A. leadership.” He goes on to describe how some of those involved in the Agency torture program were placed under cover precisely for that reason, to protect them from prosecution for war crimes.

Even team player Joe Biden, when a Senator, voted against the I.I.P.A., explaining in an op-ed in The Christian Science Monitor in 1982 that, “The language (the I.I.P.A.) employs is so broadly drawn that it would subject to prosecution not only the malicious publicizing of agents’ names, but also the efforts of legitimate journalists to expose any corruption, malfeasance, or ineptitude occurring in American intelligence agencies.” And that was with the much weaker 1982 version of the bill.

The new legislation is an intelligence agency dream, a get out of jail card that has no expiry date. And if one wants to know how dangerous it is, consider for a moment that if it turns out that serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was indeed a C.I.A. covert source, which is quite possible, he would be covered and would be able to walk away free on procedural grounds.

Published:7/28/2019 9:06:56 PM
[Markets] Russia Probe Twist: The FBI, A Convicted Russian Agent, & A Billionaire American CEO

Via SaraCarter.com,

If what you already know about the FBI’s investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia has you wondering what can come next, “make sure you are sitting down because it’s about to get worse,” said Patrick Byrne, the philanthropist and CEO of the mega online retail chain Overstock.com.

Byrne revealed never published details about his intimate relationship with the Russian gun right’s activist and libertarian, Maria Butina, who is now serving out her sentence after pleading guilty in 2018 to working as a foreign agent in the U.S. without registering.

In an interview several weeks ago, Byrne recounted first meeting Butina at Freedom Fest 2015. He described the relationship that developed between the two and revealed that he  had initiated contact in July, 2015 with the FBI after his first meeting with Butina. He also disclosed that he met twice with Justice Department attorneys in April, 2019 giving a total of seven hours of interviews on the separate occasions. A source directly familiar with the interviews, confirmed those meetings took place.

Butina’s lawyer, Robert Driscoll, also confirmed the relationship between Byrne and Butina. Driscoll stated that he also had relayed the information to the FBI and prosecutors earlier during his trial, and asked repeatedly about any Brady material -exculpatory information – that the bureau may have collected from Byrne on Butina, to no avail. The bureau denied it had any information regarding Byrne and Butina’s relationship, said Driscoll.

On Thursday, Driscoll sent a letter to United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham, who was appointed by Attorney General William Barr to investigate the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation; Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is conducting an investigation into the bureau’s origins of the Trump probe and Corey Amundson, with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

“In writing, the government denied the existence of any such Brady material,” Driscoll stated in his letter.

“Orally, during debrief sessions with Maria, I directly told the government that I believed Patrick Byrne, Chief Executive of Overstock.com, who had a sporadic relationship with Maria over a period of years prior to her arrest, was a government informant. My speculation was flatly denied. My associate Alfred Carry made similar assertions in a separate debrief that he covered and was also rebuffed.”

Mr. Byrne has now contacted me and has confirmed that he, indeed, had a ‘non-standard arrangement’ with the FBI for many years, and that beginning in 2015 through Maria’s arrest, he communicated and assisted government agents with their investigation of Maria. During this time, he stated he acted at the direction of the government and federal agents by, at their instruction, kindling a manipulative romantic relationship with her. He also told me that some of the details he provided the government regarding Maria in response was exculpatory - that is, he reported to the government that Maria’s behavior and interaction with him was inconsistent with her being a foreign agent and more likely an idealist and age-appropriate peace activist.”

“As an adjunct university professor and CEO of a public company, Mr. Byrne is a credible source of information, who from my view has little to gain but much to lose by disclosing a sporadic relationship with Maria. His claims are worthy of investigation. Indeed, he has much to say about the government’s handling of Maria’s case that go far beyond the Brady issue I raise in this letter. Regardless of these other issues, which I suggest you pursue directly with him, I was told the following by Mr. Byrne,” Driscoll’s letter states.

Full letter below:

Overstock.Com

Byrne’s decision to come forward didn’t come lightly. However, he said it was necessary after watching what had transpired between the FBI, the intelligence community and the probe into President Trump’s campaign over the past several years.

“It was something I knew I had to do,” he told this reporter.

“Those running the operation were not honest and in the end I realized I was being used in some sort of soft coup.”

Familiar with the possible backlash he will face, he made the decision to go public after speaking to his mentor and longtime friend billionaire Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett, whom Byrne describes as his ‘Rabbi,’ sent SaraACarter.com a statement Tuesday night confirming his meeting with Byrne at his home in Omaha, Nebraska several weeks ago.

“I’ve known Patrick and his family for more than 40 years,” Buffett said in an email to this reporter.

“His father, Jack Byrne, saved GEICO in 1976 and I met his three boys when they were teenagers. Both Mark, the middle son, and Patrick, the youngest, worked for Berkshire Hathaway. Patrick helped the company without pay in solving a difficult business problem. Patrick is very intelligent and patriotic. He comes by Omaha periodically to see me. At the most recent visit – a few weeks ago – though I know nothing about the subject he was describing, I told him to follow his conscience.”

Byrne’s Reveal

There are only several other reporters with knowledge of what you are about to read and another who is aware of the situation with Byrne. Byrne recounted his story of his involvement with the FBI and DOJ on video during the private meeting he arranged with this reporter, and several others.

The meeting between Byrne and the journalists took place in New York City. It was a little more than three hours long, for the most part completely on the record and videotaped. He told his story in seven parts.

He said his motivation is to get the truth to the American people about his role with the FBI and what transpired. There were allegations that Byrne revealed regarding other aspects of his involvement with the FBI that could not be verified.

This reporter relayed the full extent of Byrne’s allegations to the FBI last week. On Wednesday the FBI declined to comment on Byrne’s allegations.

Byrne, who is not the typical CEO, is a  is familiar with big public battles. A Libertarian with a doctorate in philosophy, Byrne took on Wall Street in 2005. Byrne launched a massive campaign against hedge fund market manipulation and the possibility they were going to crash Wall Street. Some financial giants, along with members of the media, were chomping at the bit to destroy him, he recalled. It wasn’t until the market crashed in 2008 and he won his battle in court that those enemies backed off. But at the time, enemies of Byrne on Wall Street flooded the news with stories making him out to be crazy, “even a picture with a UFO coming out of my head,” said Byrne.

Byrne said he didn’t come forward sooner about his contacts with the FBI, which he describes as a ‘non standard’ relationship with the government, because he wanted to be “judicious and let the system play out,” he said, referring to the government’s ongoing investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Russia Trump probe.

“But I can’t trust that’s what’s going to happen,” he said.

I’ve been holding my breath for more than 12 months watching everything unfold. I’ve never met Trump, never gave the guy money, as soon as he said the stuff about John McCain I stopped listening at the time. This isn’t about Trump, it’s about what’s right for the American people. The public should know the truth.”

Earlier this year Byrne approached the DOJ and met with lawyers on April 5th and 30th. The first meeting was without counsel in Washington D.C. A source directly familiar with the interviews confirmed Byrne’s account of the meetings.

DOJ officials said they could not comment on Byrne’s allegations.

Driscoll noted that the information provided by Byrne should be investigated by Durham.

“Subsequent to Maria’s arrest, incarceration, plea, and sentencing, Byrne has felt remorse for the role he played in Maria’s situation. In view of recent reports of other alleged government misconduct, he has also expressed a fear that political motives may have influenced the government’s handling of Maria’s case,” Driscoll told Durham in his letter.

Byrne’s “recollection of certain conversations with government agents would appear to validate his concern,” Driscoll said.

Byrne Reveals Details About Butina To FBI

In those interviews with Justice Department attorneys, Byrne revealed details about his intimate relationship with the Russian gun right’s activist Butina. Byrne was a keynote speaker on July, 8, 2015 at Freedom Fest, a yearly Libertarian gathering that hosts top speakers in Las Vegas. Shortly after his address, Butina approached him. She was flattering and repeatedly told him she was a fan of his, saying she was a graduate student that had studied the famous libertarian Militon Friedman.

He spoke to her shortly and “brushed her off.”

The young redheaded Russian graduate student then approached him again over the course of the conference and explained that she worked for the Vice Chairman of the Central Bank of Russia and sent by them to make contact with Byrne.

She also said “did you know you’re a famous man in Russia, we watch videos about you and your relationship with Milton Freeman.”

She said she was appointed to lead Russia’s gun right’s group by Lieutenant-General Mikhail Kalashnikov, who was a Russian general, most notably known for his AK-47 machine gun design. The designation by Kalashnikov is considered a huge honor and Byrne then had an “extensive conversation about Russian history and I understood her designation about Kalishnikov was significant.”

She wanted to invite Byrne to Russia to speak at the Central Bank before dignitaries. The speaking engagement would be at a major resort for three days. Butina told Byrne the event would offer him the opportunity to meet senior Russian officials and oligarchs. He didn’t accept the offer because of his security clearance. He then reported Butina and her offer to the FBI.

Communication In Disguise Of A Romantic Relationship

She told Byrne “we will communicate in disguise of a romantic relationship, I wish to make arrangements with you for this to happen.”

Butina had to have a reason to be texting Byrne and believed that “she was being monitored and proposed that we disguise our discussions as a romantic relationship,” Byrne said.

He admitted he was intrigued by Butina’s intelligence and believed that she if anything could’ve been a great contact and possible opportunity for peace.

“I have been involved with three peace efforts in my life, and stranger things have happened than that someone positive came from such an encounter. However, I was also keenly aware that she might be a Red Sparrow instead.”

Interestingly, then-candidate Donald Trump (who had only  recently announced his candidacy for president), was also a keynote speaker at the 2015 event. During a public question and answer, Butina asked Trump several questions, as has been extensively reported by numerous outlets. Byrne had already left Las Vegas by the day Trump spoke and has never communicated with Trump.

Low Level Security Clearance Related To Work At Council On Foreign Relations.

Byrne said he had received a low level security clearance early in his career and “after something like this happens, there’s a number you call and I called that number and said there is something interesting, or note worthy going on.”

When he contacted the FBI and then subsequently for the next few months “instead what I got was vague instructions that it would be ok to get to know her better.”

He said there was very little response from the FBI after his initial contact, until Butina asked him to come meet her in New York City. He told the FBI he didn’t want any vague instructions on whether to meet Butina or not because “I didn’t want my security clearance to get pulled.”

At that point the FBI gave him an explicit “green light” to meet with her. He rented a hotel room with two bedrooms because he was under the impression that the romantic texts were simply her way to cover for communicating with him. However, she arrived at the hotel beforehand, occupied the room before Byrne’s arrival, and when he arrived,  she made clear that her flirtatious texts were not simply a disguise.

Byrne said that the FBI agents made clear they were skeptical that Butina might be of interest, dismissing her as simply a normal 26 year old Russian graduate student.  Over time, Byrne and Butina developed an intimate relationship but at the same time he alleges he was continuously reporting on Butina to the FBI in an effort to convince them that it might be worthwhile to introduce her to some of his contacts at the Council on Foreign Relations. He also noted he reported to the FBI his interactions more frequently with Butina starting in December, 2015, both out of a desire not to lose the possibility of something good coming from this encounter, but also, because Butina was starting to speak more frequently of meeting with big shots in Republican circles.

Butina’s lawyer, Robert Driscoll, told this reporter that Byrne’s disclosure regarding his contact with bureau agents is significant, revealing and should be investigated by the DOJ.

“Patrick Byrne is publicly saying that he was dealing with the government in regards to Maria and I would suspect that the FBI has reports or information regarding these meetings,” said Driscoll, who noted that he repeatedly asked the FBI for all documentation collected on Butina, including interviews with witnesses, notes and any other form of documentation. The FBI, however, repeatedly told Driscoll that there was no exculpatory information to give.

“It would be a Brady violation,” said Driscoll.

“I would have to see if we have to go to court or not. I will have to go the the Office of Professional Responsibility. We’ve asked for the Brady material repeatedly and from the sound of it, it looks like there should be Brady material. We need an explanation to why they didn’t turn any information over to us with regard to Byrne.”

In 2018, Butina pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without registering. U.S. prosecutors had to walk back accusations they had made during the trial that she was a Russian spy using sex as a tool to gain influence and access. Prosecutors did have evidence that she was passing information to her confidant,  high-level Russian official, Alexander Torshin, who headed a Russian bank linked to the Kremlin. Butina is currently serving out her sentence in Florida’s FCI Tallahassee minimum security prison, which ends on Oct. 25. The guilty plea was not an admission that Butina was a Russian spy but a failure to register herself as a Russian citizen working on behalf of her country, Driscoll said.

Byrne’s relationship with Butina was confirmed by a source directly involved in Butina’s investigation. The source confirmed that “she had a relationship with Byrne, they did meet at Freedom Fest in 2015 and had met at various points afterwards in different places. She had nothing negative to say, he always treated her well.”

Oddly, Byrne’s name was not disclosed by prosecutors in the case or by the FBI. And despite the government’s earlier efforts to paint Butina as a Russian spy attempting to infiltrate Republican circles she was never investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, which charged 25 Russian agents with interfering in the U.S. election. Further, the FBI, unlike convicted Russian bombshell spy Anna Chapman, did nothing to stop Butina from meeting with high level Republican and conservative figures. The bureau also didn’t warn those conservative figures she had made contact with,  even though they had her under surveillance and allegedly Byrne had been reporting on her during that time. As noted in a column by The Hill’s John Solomon Chapman’s actions were handled differently than Butina. When one of Chapman’s associates, who went by the name of Cynthia Murphy, made contact with Alan Patricof, a major Democratic donor close to Hillary Clintonthe FBI acted swiftly to arrest the entire cell.

Driscoll said there was suspicion that the FBI did not disclose all the information it had on Butina and he stated that he believed “Patrick is not the only one” who was giving information to the FBI.

“We’ve thought of several possibilities and some we are more confidant than others. I’m firmly convinced,” said Driscoll, who shared numerous letters and emails with this reporter that he exchanged with the FBI.

Byrne, the FBI and Butina 

Although, Byrne was then concerned about Butina’s possible motives, he eventually became convinced that she was an intellectual being used by both the Russians and American intelligence apparatus. She was stuck between two highly contentious and secretive governments, he claimed. He relayed those concerns to the FBI, he said.

“From January through March, in 2016 and I was telling (the FBI) I was 50/50, that this was a real opportunity and 50 that it was Red Sparrow,” said Byrne, referencing the American film about Russian spy’s who are trained to use sex as a tool to retrieve information from sources. He said he believed more in the possibility that Butina could be someone with the right connections to be an opportunity for U.S. officials to better understand Russia.

“I actually think that back then I was two-thirds, one-third.  It was two-thirds opportunity and maybe one-third, threat. As those months went on, those odds shifted, he said. “She had insisted to me that she was not a spy,” said Byrne. “Yet the more she swanked around in political circles, the more concerned I became that she would get herself in trouble.”

“I was surprised that there was  no appetite in letting me connect her to people I know at CFR who are qualified to take such a meeting, but in fact the  ‘men in black’ were telling me that was absolutely ridiculous,” said Byrne, who noted that their refusal to even consider pursuing  the prospect was something he found “odd.”

“Eventually, her conversations became less about philosophy and it became clear that she was doing things that made me quite uncomfortable,” stated Byrne. “She was basically schmoozing around with the political class and eventually she said to me at one point I want to meet anyone in the Hillary campaign, the Cruz, the Rubio campaigns.”

Butina had also told Byrne, that Torshin, the Russian politician who she had been assisting while she was in the U.S., had sent her to the United States to meet other libertarians and build relations with political figures. She repeated to him numerous times that she was not a spy, even when he directly asked her.

Byrne said he warned Butina: “Maria the United States is not like Russia” and knowing powerful people ‘like oligarchs and politicians’ won’t help if the FBI believes a line has been crossed. Byrne believed Butina was naive but not blameless. He said during the interview if “you’re reporting to any Russian official and you’re doing this stuff and not disclosing yourself, there are these men in black here and they don’t really give a shit who you know here -that’s not going to save you.”

Driscoll noted in his letter to Durham and Horowitz the extent of Byrne’s relationship with the FBI.

At some point prior to the 2016 election, when Byrne’s contact with Maria diminished or ceased, the government asked and encouraged him to renew contact with her and he did so, continuing to inform the government of her activities. Byrne states he was informed by government agents that his pursuit and involvement with Maria (and concomitant surveillance of her) was requested and directed from the highest levels of the FBI and intelligence community.”

“As time passed, Byrne became more and more convinced that Maria was what she said she was—an inquisitive student in favor of better U.S.-Russian relations—and not an agent of the Russian government or someone involved in espionage or illegal activities. He states he conveyed these thoughts and the corroborating facts and observations about Maria to the government.”

Published:7/28/2019 1:05:12 PM
[Markets] Buchanan: After Mueller Debacle, Where Do Democrats Go?

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

The Democrats who were looking to cast Robert Mueller as the star in a TV special, “The Impeachment of Donald Trump,” can probably tear up the script. They’re gonna be needing a new one.

For six hours Wednesday, as three cable news networks and ABC, CBS and NBC all carried live the hearings of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, the Mueller report was thoroughly trashed.

The special counsel stood by his findings. His investigation was not a “hoax” or “witch hunt,” he said. He admitted that he had found no Trump-Russia conspiracy. He denied he exonerated Trump of obstruction of justice.

All this we knew, and all of it we have heard for months.

What was new, what was dramatic, what was compelling was how the House Republicans arrived with their war paint on and ripped Mueller and his investigation to such shreds that viewers were feeling sorry for the special counsel at the end of his six hours of grilling.

The Republicans exposed him as only vaguely conversant with his own report. They revealed that he had probably not written his own statement challenging the depiction of his findings by Attorney General Bill Barr.

Mueller’s staff of lawyers, Republicans showed, reads like a donors list for Hillary Clinton. The FBI contingent that started the investigation was a cabal so hateful of Trump that some had to be fired.

Republicans raised questions about the origins of the investigation, tracing it back to early 2016 when Maltese intelligence agent Joseph Mifsud leaked to a staffer of the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos, that Russia had Clinton’s emails. That and subsequent meetings have all the marks of an intel agency set-up.

Repeatedly, Republicans brought up the dossier written by British spy Christopher Steele, who fed Russian-sourced disinformation to Clinton campaign-financed intel firm, Fusion GPS, who passed it on to the FBI, which used it as evidence to justify warrants to spy on Trump’s campaign.

To many in the TV audience, this was fresh and startling stuff.

Yet Mueller’s response to all such allegations was that they were outside his purview and that other agencies were looking into them.

Wednesday’s hearings often proved painful to watch.

Mueller, a 74-year-old decorated Marine veteran of Vietnam and a former director of the FBI, sat mumbling his dissents as one charge after another was fired at him, his associates and his investigation.

For this disaster, the Democrats are alone to blame.

Mueller had wanted to file his report and leave it to the attorney general and Congress to act, or not act, on its contents. His job was done, and he did not want to testify publicly.

Democrats, desperate for impeachment hearings, wanted him to recite for the TV cameras every charge against the president.

What Democrats hoped would be a recital of Trump’s sins, Republicans turned into an adversarial proceeding that ended Mueller’s public career in a humiliating spectacle lasting a full day.

Where do Democrats go from here?

Their goal from the outset has been to persuade the nation that Trump colluded with Putin’s Russia to steal the 2016 election, and that the progressives are the true patriots in seeking to impeach and remove an illegitimate president and prosecute him for acts of treason.

The Republican position is that, for all his flaws and failings, Trump won the 2016 election fairly and squarely. He is our president, and the drive to impeach and remove him is an attempted constitutional coup d’etat by a “deep state” terrified that it cannot win against him in 2020.

The rival narratives are irreconcilable.

The Republican message of Wednesday: Proceed with hearings to impeach and there will be blood on the floor.

Democrats are in a hellish bind.

Should they proceed with hearings on impeachment, they will divide their party, force their presidential candidates to cease talking health care and start talking impeachment, and probably fail.

Impeachment hearings would fire up the Republican base and energize the GOP minority to prepare for combat in a Judiciary Committee where they are already celebrating having eviscerated the prosecution’s star witness.

If Democrats vote impeachment in committee, they will have to take it to the House floor, where their moderates, who won in swing districts, will be forced to vote on it, splitting their own bases in the run-up to the 2020 election.

If Democrats lose the impeachment vote on the House floor, it would be a huge setback. But if they vote impeachment in the House, the trial takes place in a Senate run by Mitch McConnell.

Trump would go into the 2020 battle against a Democratic Party that failed to overthrow the president in a radical coup that it attempted because it was afraid to fight it out with the president in a free and fair election.

Published:7/28/2019 8:48:20 AM
[World] America's long history of collusion

Robert Mueller testified last week before two House committees about his investigation into charges that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 presidential election and that the president engaged in obstruction of justice by trying to impede the FBI’s efforts to learn the truth about those charges.

Mr. ... Published:7/27/2019 10:57:10 AM

[Markets] The Five Faulty Premises Of Russiagate

Authored by Doug “Uncola” Lynn via TheBurningPlatform.com,

Having watched some of the questions to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller by congress on Wednesday July 24, 2019, as well as Mueller’s dithering deflections – it was obvious the entire affair was another distraction; more of the same ongoing circus show.

Of course, no minds were changed. Those on the Left still consider Trump to be a comprised capitalist pig guarding his tax returns with all the fervor of any good Manchurian Candidate and those on the Right still viewing Mueller as a tyrannical tool of the Deep State.

After Mueller’s live testimony, this blogger listened to roughly thirty Americans calling into CNN with their comments. Of those callers, only three were in support of Trump and with the rest of them effusively expressing gratitude to Mueller for his service in revealing Trump’s threat to American Democracy.

Many conservatives, including talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh and some his callers, agreed that Mueller didn’t seem familiar with the contents of his report, let alone the Steele Dossier, Fusion GPS, and other points-of-factbrought up by the Republicans as they were grilling the former special counsel. To be sure, Limbaugh commented on Mueller’s less-than-stellardemeanor and lack of preparedness – even going so far as to say Mueller deserved absolutely zero sympathies for his contributory efforts in the never-ending farce that the former special counsel has perpetrated on the American people.

But, at the same time, L-Rushbo painted a picture of Mueller simply being (for lack of better terminology) parochial in his search for justice; as if Mueller was simply a Never-Trumper like Mittens Romney or John Kasich.

In fact, at the close of the Mueller hearing, even House Republican Devin Nunes complimented Mueller, thanked him for his service, and refused to scorch the doddering old fool in the end.

Unfortunately, a majority of Americans today, including many conservatives, have swallowed hookline, and sinker one or more of the following five (5) faulty premises of Russiagate:

1.)  The Russians actually hacked the 2016 elections

The Mueller Report, as well as most of the Democrats who questioned Robert Mueller on July 24, 2019 claimed Russia interfered in the 2016 Presidential Election in a “sweeping and systematic fashion”.

This is not true.  It did not happen; at least not sweepingly or systematically.

What did happen one year ago, on July 13, 2018, was Mueller’s boss at the time, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, announced the Mueller Investigation’s single indictment of Twelve Russian intelligence officers for alleged election hacking under President Obama’s watch.  Of course, this was done in an effort to divert publicity away from the July 12, 2018 Capitol Hill testimony of disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok and to subvert President Trump’s impending Russian summit on July 16, 2018.

Even so, in his very conveniently-timed press conference, Rosenstein acknowledged  that “no American was a knowing participant” in the Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election and there was “no allegation in the indictment of any effect on the outcome of the election”.

In other words, much ado about nothing, in the same way the Mueller Report offered zero forensic evidence other than the reliance of the two (2) now discredited Democratic National Committee (DNC) contractors:  CrowdStrike and “Russian dossier compiler Christopher Steele”.

Furthermore, other so-called “established” and “confirmed” claims in Mueller’s bogus report cited the Russian company, Concord Management, as “sowing discord” throughout U.S. social media prior to the 2016 Presidential Election – and this was shot down by U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich’s May 28, 2019 ruling which concluded that Mueller had “no evidence”.

Did you get that?  No evidence.

Squat.  Zip. Nada.  Zilch.

2.)  Wikileaks was affiliated with Russia

Another key premise of Democrats, the U.S. Corporate Media, and The Mueller Report, is that Russian Intelligence hacked into the DNC servers and provided stolen e-mails to WikiLeaks through (according to the Mueller Report) “fictitious online personas including DCLeaks” and Guccifer 2.0”.

Again, this did not happen because reporting as far back as 2017 indicated that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange possessed the DNC e-mails beforeDCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 were created, yet Assange used these entities to obfuscate his true source.

Veteran intelligence whistleblowers also reported in 2017 on how the Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers were not hacked by Guccifer 2.0 and released to WikiLeaks but, instead, the data actually originated via an external storage device.

All of this means the “fictitious online personas” allegedly linked to Russian intelligence, according to the Mueller Report, were created after-the-fact in order to conceal the true source of the DNC leaks.

Additionally, when WikiLeaks released the password to Vault 7, also known as: “The Largest Publication of Confidential CIA Documents Ever”, a program entitled UMBRAGE was revealed. This was a formerly top-secret initiative whereby American intelligence agencies could mimic internet hacks from other countries, including Russia.

Yet, none of that information was revealed in Robert Mueller’s report, was it?  Why?  Probably, for the same reason Team Mueller refused to interview Julian Assange.  Because, had Mueller done so, he might have been asked later by congress why WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information in the case involving Seth Rich.  Rich was the former voter expansion data director for the DNC who was murdered in Washington DC on July 10, 2016.

But Team Mueller didn’t care about any of that and, instead, disseminated false conclusions regarding Russian election meddling.

Are you surprised?

3.) Robert Mueller is an honorable guy

Even in light of Robert Mueller’s doddering downfall on Congressional Hill, there are those on both sides of the political aisle who consider him, still, as an ethical and honorable man.

He is neither.

Former Texas State Court judge, and now sitting Congressman, Louis Buller Gohmert Jr  (R-Texas), has unmasked Mueller’s “long and sordid history of illicitly targeting innocent people that is a stain upon the legacy of American jurisprudence”, citing 18 specific examples, including:

– Collusion with Boston mobster Whitey Bulger in criminality and framing innocent men for murder that resulted eventually in the release of innocent parties and 100 million dollars in compensation for DOJ Boston Office misconduct.

– The FBI with Mueller as director harassed and hounded Congressman Curt Weldon in revenge for criticizing FBI failures related to 9-11.

– Dishonest prosecutions of Senator Ted Stevens.

– Prosecutorial abuses in the anthrax murder investigations post 9-11, producing one suicide and one award of 6.8 million dollars to the other innocent target.

– Mueller’s unethical acceptance of the special prosecutor position when he was conflicted by his longtime personal and professional relationship with James Comey.

– Mueller hired extremely partisan, biased, and conflicted attorneys for his special counsel team.

– Mueller’s investigation ignored that FISA applications evidence presented to justify warrants to surveil Trump associates were not verified and thus a fraud on the court and illegal.

As was adequately revealed by the Republicans who grilled Robert Mueller during his congressional hearing, the entire special counsel investigation (and it’s ensuing report) amounted to little more than political opposition research on behalf of the Democratic Party; and a concerted effort to gaslight the American public via it’s bizarre, and even Orwellian, deceptions.

Congressman Tom McClintock (R-California) asked Mueller why he couldn’t provide connecting evidence of Russian trolls to the Russian government.  Chris Stewart (R-Utah) questioned Mueller on why his team of angry Democrats always leaked information detrimental to Trump but never a single leak of anything placing Trump in a positive light.  And other Republicans wondered why Hillary Clinton’s “Dirty Dossier” received such extra-special “kid-glove” treatment by Team Mueller.

Indeed, we now know the following:  In spite of the Mueller probe breaking multiple prosecutorial rules that ensured justice, they were “outfoxed” by Trump’s legal team beginning as far back as June, 2018 – when none other than William Barr sent a 19-page memorandum to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein checkmating Mueller’s apparent “interpretation of a single subsection of a single obstruction-of-justice statute:18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2)“.  It was Barr’s contention that Trump could not have violated that particular statute because “he [Trump] was not accused of engaging in any wrongful act of evidence impairment”.

In his memo to Rosenstein, Barr also claimed Mueller was giving the statute a “new unbounded interpretation” that “would have potentially disastrous implications” for the Executive Branch of government.

Oh, that Robert Mueller.  What a guy. He folded on collusion and conspiracy before upping the stakes on obstruction via volume two of his report which presented like a legal Chinese finger-trap or Gordian Knot.  Mueller’s “not exonerating” Trump inverted “innocent until proven guilty” into “guilty until proven innocent” and demonstrated the special counsel investigation’s very palpable political prejudice – which was further proven by the specific misrepresentations and selective editing in the final Mueller Report.

Even, now, if it appears Robert Mueller was a moderately senile figurehead for Andrew Weissmann & Company’s attempted takedown of a sitting president, certainly, history will not be kind to the former special counsel who lent his name to the farce. Undeniably, the former special counsel’s recent fiasco before congress was just the beginning of his once illustrious and ill-deserved reputation becoming a national joke.

4.) The Democrats actually care about Democracy

The Democratic Party does not have a political platform beyond Santa Clausian economic initiatives, genitalia, skin color, and disproven conspiracy theories rooted in fraudulent Russiaphobia.  They do not care to secure American elections.  On the contrary.  Why else would they be seeking to turn Texas into a blue state via ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION?  Right?

In truth, the Socialist Party cares only about power; even (as the Mueller hearing demonstrated) to the point of weaponizing their own hypocrisy.

All throughout The Robert Mueller Show on Wednesday, the former special counsel’s bias and the hypocrisy of the Democrats and sycophants in the media, could not have been more obvious. Mueller’s appearance was meant to provide amplification on behalf of Trump’s political opponents for impeachment, more hearings, and additional investigations.

Although Mueller received top billing, the Dems and their enablers in the media were always going to be the stars. Mueller was called to testify in order to expand the audience in order to resurrect the dying efforts of Trump’s enemies.

And it all backfired yugely.

Even so, during his testimony, Mueller “included some stark warnings” of how the Russians were already attempting to interfere in the 2020 elections.  This allowed the Democrats to continue their Chicken Little cries of how the “sky is falling” while citing Trump’s lackadaisicalness as proof of the president’s political puppetry under Putin.

Yet, if the Democrats were concerned in the least over alleged Russian election hacking, then why are they not interviewing those who allowed it to happen under the Obama Administration’s watch?  They won’t because they don’t care about democracy or to secure America’s elections.  Instead, they desire to undermine the U.S. electoral process.

The Democrats currently serving in congress are liars who seek America’s demise.  Sadly, that is the truth.

5.) Intelligence Agencies under the Obama Administration were working to ensure secure elections

Anyone even remotely paying attention over the past few years knows that Hillary Clinton and the DNC financed the Russian Dossier on Trump.  According to former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the dossier was then used to obtain the FISA warrant required to spy on Team Trump.  A 90-day surveillance warrant on Carter Page was then renewed three times and this was done in order to dig up political dirt and diminish Trump’s chances of winning the 2016 Presidential Election.  Then, later, the FISA warrants were illegally issued to undermine Trump’s presidency.

At the same time, the now well-known culprits in the Obama Administration (i.e. James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr) were actively concealing the multifarious crimes of Hillary Clinton.

A mole in Trump’s campaign was also later revealed as Stefan Halper, a 73-year-old Oxford University professor and former U.S. government official who was paid over $1 million by the Obama administration including $411,575 that was made in two payments by September 26, 2016.  That date was three days after a Yahoo News article was published by Michael Isikoff on Trump aide, Carter Page; which the FBI later illicitly used as supporting evidence in the FISA warrant application for Page.

Then, after Trump won the election, the phony Russian conspiracy was utilized:

–  By online social networks to censor the alternative media

–  By President Obama to sign into law the “Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act”

–  By Obama’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, to feloniously unmaskTrump administration officials

–  By Democrats and the Media to pressure the new president’s National  Security Advisor to resign and the nation’s new Attorney General to recuse himself from the Russia investigation

–  By deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, to appoint his trusted, dear friend and collaborator, Robert Mueller, as Special Counsel to investigate President Trump’s non-existent collusion with Russia

–  By Robert Mueller to transition the imaginary Russiagate Collusion into illusions of Obstruction of Justice against Trump

– By Robert Mueller to obtain minor process crimes on Paul Manafort(Trump’s former campaign chairman), Rick Gates (business associate of Manafort), George Papadopoulos (Trump’s former foreign policy advisor) and Michael Flynn (Trump’s former national security advisor) and others

–  By AP reporters and FBI agents to collude in a conspiracy against Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort

– By Team Mueller to falsely accuse Russia of meddling in order to undermine the trust of Americans in their electoral process

– In order to summarily rescind a sitting president’s attorney-client privilege; as well as his presumption of innocence through the special counsel’s “lack of exoneration”.

– To allow the Democratic candidates in the 2018 Midterm Elections to leverage the issue of election hacking and illegitimately win key senate races as well as control of the U.S. House

All this from America’s “heroes” who swore an oath to defend America’s constitution.

Thanks for nothing, you treasonous tribe of traitors.

Conclusion

As long as even some of the premises of those who oppose the U.S. Constitution are swallowed hookline, and sinker by a significant percentage of the U.S. body politic – then these may, in the end, present as evidence in the historical record delineating the downfall of our once-great republic.

One would like to believe this sordid chapter of corruption will result in the ultimate draining of the American swamp.  The nation now awaits reports from Inspector General Michael Horwitz on FISA Abuse and corruption in the Department of Justice; U.S. Attorney John Huber on Clinton Foundation illegalities; and U.S. Attorney John Durham on the malevolent origins of Russiagate.

Godspeed gentlemen. Because a very significant percentage of the American public is growing more impatient by the day. Time is of the essence.  Tick tock.

Published:7/26/2019 9:54:11 PM
[Markets] Epstein's Not The Only Predatory Sex Offender In The News: Here's How Shockingly Prevalent This Has Become

Authored by Dagny Taggart via The Organic Prepper blog,

Lately, the news has been flooded with horrifying updates about the case of registered sex offender and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

You can read our Epstein coverage at the following links:

An Unbiased Look at What We Know About the Epstein Scandal So Far

More CONFIRMED Information on Jeffrey Epstein, His Homes, and His Powerful Friends

These Prominent People Must Be PANICKING About What the Epstein Case Will Reveal

Singer R. Kelly, 52, is being held without bond in Chicago on charges that include producing child pornography and coercing minors to engage in sex. He faces similar federal charges in New York.

Unfortunately, Epstein and R. Kelly are not the only alleged sexual predators in the news.

Reader discretion is advised. This article contains information that may be upsetting for some people.

Here are various reports of recent sexual abuse cases in the US.

Colorado

More than three dozen suspected online child sex offenders were arrested in Aurora, Colorado, during Operation Broken Heart. The nationwide operation was led by the US Department of Justice and resulted in nearly 1,700 arrests during April and May. On June 11, 2019, the DOJ announced that its “task forces identified 308 offenders who either produced child pornography or committed child sexual abuse, and 357 children who suffered recent, ongoing or historical sexual abuse or were exploited in the production of child pornography.”

The operation targeted suspects who: (1) produce, distribute, receive and possess child pornography; (2) engage in online enticement of children for sexual purposes; (3) engage in the sex trafficking of children; and (4) travel across state lines or to foreign countries and sexually abuse children. (source)

The Colorado Sentinel reports 32-year-old Raymond Fredericks was sentenced to 22 years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to a felony sex trafficking charge in May.

Florida

Todd Bush, a 42-year-old former teacher, was arrested in an undercover sting on July 18 after agreeing to pay $100 to who he thought was the mother of an 11-year-old girl for sex with her daughter, authorities said. He was charged with human trafficking of a child, obscene communication, and traveling to meet a minor for sex. Bush was already a registered sex offender and was on probation for a 2011 incident when he was busted in the sting last week.

Maryland

On July 18, a federal jury in Baltimore convicted Ryan Russell Parks, 26, on two counts of sex trafficking a minor and one count of using the internet to promote a prostitution business.

Parks faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison for each of the two counts of sex trafficking a minor, and a maximum of five years in prison for using the Internet to promote a business enterprise involving prostitution.

The case was investigated by the FBI-led Maryland Child Exploitation Task Force (MCETF), created in 2010 to combat child prostitution, with members from 10 state and federal law enforcement agencies. (source)

Minnesota

A two-day undercover operation in Minneapolis–Saint Paul earlier this month resulted in the arrests of 11 people on sex trafficking charges:

Three people were arrested for sex trafficking and promotion of prostitution while eight people were arrested for solicitation of a minor or solicitation of prostitution under 16 years of age.

In the operation, 18 trafficking victims were recovered from trafficking situations and offered help through victim services. (source)

Nebraska

A former first-grade teacher at an Omaha elementary school has been given 50 to 100 years in prison for sexually assaulting students. Douglas County District Court records show that 31-year-old Gregory Sedlacek was sentenced Tuesday. He’d pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault of a child.

New Hampshire

Yesterday, New Hampshire’s attorney general launched an investigation into the state youth detention center after two former counselors were charged with raping a teenage boy 82 times, at least once at gunpoint, in the late 1990s.

New York

Last month, the head of a sex cult was found guilty on multiple charges in New York, reports NPR:

The leader of NXIVM, a group that espoused a philosophy of self-improvement but was accused of recruiting, grooming and even branding an inner circle of female sex slaves, was found guilty Wednesday by a federal jury in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Keith Raniere, who was known as “Vanguard,” was convicted on all charges, including sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, human trafficking and multiple counts of racketeering — including sexual exploitation of a child. (source)

North Carolina

The victims of sexual assaults by a former North Carolina teacher are filing a class-action lawsuit against the school district:

News outlets report the victims of Michael Kelly filed the complaint Tuesday against him, the New Hanover County Board of Education and others.

Kelly pleaded guilty last month to child sex charges. Investigators say Kelly abused nearly 20 victims. He’s worked for New Hanover Schools since 1992. (source)

Ohio

Earlier this month, two concurrent Human Trafficking Task Force operations were conducted in the Cleveland region. A total of 49 arrests were made, and some of the individuals are facing felony charges of Attempted Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor, Importuning, Possess Criminal Tools, and Attempting Corruption with Drugs, reports Richland Source.

You can read more about recent arrests on the DOJ’s dedicated page: Human Trafficking.

Cases of child sexual abuse by clergy continue to be reported.

Thousands of allegations of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests, nuns, and members of religious orders have been made over the last few decades. Many investigations, trials, and convictions – and revelations about decades of attempts by Church officials to cover up reported incidents – have resulted. These offenses are not limited to clergy in the US – cases have occurred all over the world.

I think it is important to note here that my family is Catholic, so I know how painful this subject can be for some followers.

According to a 2009 report, the founder of a religious order that treats Roman Catholic priests who molest children concluded decades ago that offenders were unlikely to change and should not be returned to ministry:

As early as the mid-1950s, decades before the clergy sexual-abuse crisis broke publicly across the U.S. Catholic landscape, the founder of a religious order that dealt regularly with priest sex abusers was so convinced of their inability to change that he searched for an island to purchase with the intent of using it as a place to isolate such offenders, according to documents recently obtained by NCR.

Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, founder of the Servants of the Paracletes, an order established in 1947 to deal with problem priests, wrote regularly to bishops in the United States and to Vatican officials, including the pope, of his opinion that many sexual abusers in the priesthood should be laicized immediately. (source)

Yesterday, a Florida minister and registered sex offender was arrested after authorities found child pornography on his home computer, reports the Associated Press:

Sarasota County Sheriff’s officials tell news outlets that 66-year-old Charles Andrews was arrested Tuesday. He’s charged with 500 felony counts of possession of child pornography and three counts of failing to meet sex offender requirements.

Andrews is a pastor at Osprey Church of Christ. Andrews also is a registered sex offender who was convicted in 2006 of second-degree sexual abuse in Alabama. Now he’s in jail, his bond set at more than $5 million. (source)

The Associated Press has a Sexual Abuse by Clergy page that is dedicated to coverage of cases.

Here is a sampling of recent cases they have documented:

  • In Kansas, state authorities have opened more than 70 investigations into alleged sexual abuse by Catholic clergy after receiving over 100 abuse reports in less than six months, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday.

  • Also in Kansas, a priest has been charged with one count of possessing child pornography.

  • St. Norbert Abbey in Wisconsin has released the names of 22 priests who faced “credible” allegations of sexually abusing minors. The abbey says an independent review deemed more than 40 allegations credible.

  • Last week, a former Alabama youth pastor was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually abusing a young girl.

  • The Diocese of Crookston in Minnesota has reached a $5 million settlement with 15 people who were children when they were sexually abused by priests.

  • Texas jury has sentenced a former Roman Catholic priest to 18 years in prison for sexually assaulting an altar server over several years.

  • Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has charged a 57-year-old Detroit-area priest with sexually abusing a minor.

  • Last Monday, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, released a list of clerics, religious order priests and deacons it deems to have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children.

  • In Illinois, a priest was removed from pastoral duties in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse that took place two decades ago.

The Vatican has been in the news this week for a very disturbing reason.

A genetics expert retained by the family of a girl who went missing in 1983 said Saturday that a cavernous underground space near a Vatican cemetery holds thousands of bones that appear to be from dozens of individuals, both “adult and non-adult.”

The expert, Giorgio Portera, said the “enormous” size of the collection under the Teutonic College was revealed when Vatican-appointed experts began cataloguing the remains, which were discovered last week .

“We didn’t expect such an enormous number” of bones and other remains which “had been thrown into a cavity,” Portera said. “We want to know why and how” the bones ended up there. (source)

Victims of abuse by religious and institutional authorities (priests, ministers, bishops, deacons, nuns, coaches, teachers, and others) can find support here: SNAPBishopAccountability.org has an Abuse Tracker page that provides links to media coverage of clergy abuse.

How prevalent is child sexual abuse?

While Epstein’s arrest has increased awareness of predatory behavior by the elite, the wealthy and powerful are not the only ones committing such heinous acts.

According to The National Center for Victims of Crime, the prevalence of child sexual abuse (CSA) is difficult to determine because it is often not reported. Experts agree that the incidence is far greater than what is reported to authorities.

Statistics below represent some of the research done on child sexual abuse.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau report Child Maltreatment 2010 found that 9.2% of victimized children were sexually assaulted (page 24).

Studies by David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, show that:

  • 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;

  • Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;

  • During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;

  • Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;

  • Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13.

According to Darkness to Light, a non-profit committed to empowering adults to prevent child sexual abuse, only about one-third of child sexual abuse incidents are identified, and even fewer are reported.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children operates the CyberTipline, a national mechanism for the public and electronic service providers to report instances of suspected child sexual exploitation.

In 2018 the CyberTipline received more than 18.4 million reports, most of which related to:

  • Apparent child sexual abuse images.

  • Online enticement, including “sextortion.”

  • Child sex trafficking.

  • Child sexual molestation.

Since its inception, the CyberTipline has received more than 48 million reports.

Those statistics are grim.

Sex trafficking is a serious global issue.

There are various types of sex offenders and sex crimes, and that topic is beyond the scope of this article. Because sex trafficking and the vulnerability of minors are crucial issues, we will focus on them here.

US federal law refers to sex trafficking as any commercial sex act that is “induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.”

A recent report from Insider sheds light on just how many people are victims of sex trafficking.

The statistics are alarming and heartbreaking:

It’s estimated that there are around 4.5 million victims of sex trafficking across the world. And though it’s difficult to know just how many people are involved in sex trafficking in the US, the Polaris Project, a non-profit dedicated to ending human trafficking, received more than 34,000 reports of sex trafficking on its Human Trafficking Hotline between 2007 and 2017.

End Slavery Now, an anti-human trafficking and slavery organization, estimates many of those trafficked into the US come from countries like Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand, Honduras, Guatemala, India and El Salvador. But experts say that plenty of sex trafficking victims are from the US, too. (source)

The conclusion of the Insider report is chilling:

But the millions sex trafficked around the world don’t look like they do in movies. These people, often minors, can lead normal lives and pass through normal places, jobs, and homes.

The sex trafficking that goes on in the US largely takes place in a criminal underbelly ubiquitous in US cities and communities, which millions of Americans, for whatever reason, turn a blind eye to daily. (source)

There are various factors that motivate sexual predators.

Power, anger, and revenge are common motivators for sex offenders, according to Criminal Justice School Info:

It is mistakenly believed that sexual offenders are solely motivated by sexual gratification when they commit their crimes. Dr. Nicholas Groth developed three typologies to describe the motivations of rapists, two of which suggest sexual gratification is secondary. Anger rapists are fueled by rage towards their victims and rape is their way of seeking violent revenge. According to the Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM), these rapists may actually be extremely discontent with another area in their lives and thus take out their frustration on their victims. “Anger rapists tend to use a significant amount of physical force when they subdue their victims – in most cases, far more force than is necessary to perpetrate the abuse,” adds the CSOM. Verbal abuse is also a common component of these types of violations that are generally impulsive – not planned.

Power rapists on the other hand are less impulsive and rely on psychological manipulation more so than physical violence to subdue and sexually assault their victims. “The power rapist was motivated by his need to control and dominate his victim, and inversely, to avoid being controlled by [the victim],” describes Dr. Lisak. Those who rape their domestic partners are often characterized as power rapists. There are also sadistic rapists who receive sexual or erotic gratification from exerting power and control over the victims they rape. “Because they have an erotic response to power and control, extreme violence and torture often characterize their assaults,” says the CSOM. “In many cases, victims of sadistic rapists are murdered during the assaults”. The CSOM adds that these types of rapes are least common and account for between 2% and 5% of cases in the United States. (source)

Repeat sex offenders do not necessarily target only one category of victim or offend in the same manner, that report explains:

Dr. Lisak explains that a proportion of sexual offenders are ‘non-specialists’. “Multiple studies have now documented that between 33% and 66% of rapists have also sexually attacked children; that up to 82% of child molesters have also sexually attacked adults; and that between 50% and 66% of incest offenders have also sexually attacked children outside their families,” states Dr. Lisak.

Additionally, many of us tend to think a sex offender will keep on offending until he or she is caught. While in reality, recidivism does happen, it may not be as common as we think. According to Arkowitz and Lilienfeld, approximately 14% of sexual offenders reoffend within a five to six year period and 24% within a 15 year period. While this suggests recidivism is less often the case, it does suggest the longer it takes law enforcement to track down a sexual predator or criminal, the more likely he or she will reoffend. (source)

Not everyone who sexually abuses children is a pedophile, as Darkness to Light explains:

Child sexual abuse is perpetrated by a wide range of individuals with diverse motivations. It is impossible to identify specific characteristics that are common to all those who molest children. Situational offenders tend to offend at times of stress and begin offending later than pedophilic offenders. They also have fewer victims (often family), and have a general preference for adult partners.

Pedophilic offenders often start offending at an early age and often have a large number of victims (frequently not family members).

70% of child sex offenders have between one and 9 victims, while 20% have 10 to 40 victims. (source)

Often, sexual predators are people you know and trust.

It is important to understand that there are people who have or will sexually abuse children in churches, schools, and youth sports leagues, as Darkness to Light explains:

Abusers can be neighbors, friends, and family members. People who sexually abuse children can be found in families, schools, churches, recreation centers, youth sports leagues, and any other place children gather.

Significantly, abusers can be and often are other children.

About 90% of children who are victims of abuse know their abuser. Only 10% of sexually abused children are abused by a stranger.

Approximately 30% of children who are sexually abused are abused by family members. The younger the victim, the more likely it is that the abuser is a family member. Of those molesting a child under six, 50% were family members. Family members also accounted for 23% of those abusing children ages 12 to 17.

About 60% of children who are sexually abused are abused by the people the family trusts. (source)

Here’s how to keep your loved ones (and yourself) safe.

Sexual abuse is a challenging topic to discuss. It can be even more difficult when you’re talking about protecting your own children. Families can take steps to keep their children safe and give them the tools to speak up when something isn’t right.

Here is a list of resources that can help you keep your family safe.

Essential Self-Defense Tactics ANY Woman Can Learn

Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane)

The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence

Child Safety resources from Gavin de Becker and Associates

National Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors and their Loved Ones

Darkness to Light – End Child Sexual Abuse

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Alliance to Rescue Victims of Trafficking

Published:7/26/2019 7:57:29 PM
[Markets] Barr's Russiagate Origin Probe Pivots To 'Smoking Gun' Tapes With Exculpatory Evidence

A DOJ internal review of the Russia investigation is now focusing on transcripts of (not-so) covertly recorded conversations between former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos and 'at least one government source' during an overseas conversation in 2016. 

In particular, DOJ investigators are focusing on why certain exculpatory (or exonerating) evidence from the transcripts was not included in subsequent FBI surveillance warrant applications, according to Fox News, citing two sources familiar with the review. 

"A source told Fox News that the "exculpatory evidence" included in the transcripts is Papadopoulos denying having any contact with the Russians to obtain the supposed "dirt" on Clinton," according to the report. 

And while Fox doesn't name the 'government source,' it's undoubtedly Australian diplomat and Clinton ally Alexander Downer, who was "idiotic enough" to spy on Papadopoulos with his phone, according to the former Trump aide. 

But Papadopoulos did not only meet with Mifsud and Downer while overseas. He met with Cambridge professor and longtime FBI informant Stefan Halper and his female associate, who went under the alias Azra Turk. Papadopoulos told Fox News that he saw Turk three times in London: once over drinks, once over dinner and once with Halper. He also told Fox News back in May that he always suspected he was being recorded. Further, he tweeted during the Mueller testimony about "recordings" of his meeting with Downer. -Fox News

"These recordings have exculpatory evidence," one source told Fox, adding "It is standard tradecraft to record conversations with someone like Papadopoulos—especially when they are overseas and there are no restrictions."

The recordings in question pertain to conversations between government sources and Papadopoulos, which were memorialized in transcripts. One source told Fox News that Barr and Durham are reviewing why the material was left out of applications to surveil another former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page.

I think it’s the smoking gun,” the source said. -Fox News

Also under review  by AG Barr and US Attorney John Durham of Connecticut is the actual start date of the original FBI investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the US election. 

Former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) first revealed the existence of transcripts documenting the secretly recorded conversations earlier this year. 

"If the bureau’s going to send in an informant, the informant’s going to be wired, and if the bureau is monitoring telephone calls, there’s going to be a transcript of that," Gowdy said on Fox News in May. 

"Some of us have been fortunate enough to know whether or not those transcripts exist. But they haven’t been made public, and I think one, in particular ... has the potential to actually persuade people," he continued, adding "Very little in this Russia probe I’m afraid is going to persuade people who hate Trump or love Trump. But there is some information in these transcripts that has the potential to be a game-changer if it’s ever made public."

According to the report, the transcripts are currently classified - however President Trump's May order to approve declassification at AG Barr's discretion means they may see the light of day. And even if not, the declassification allowed Barr to barge in on DNI Director Dan Coats' office and demand the files

A source told Fox News that without the declassification order signed by Trump, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was not going to give anyone access to the files—over concerns for protecting sources and methods. But another source told Fox News in May that Coats, along with CIA Director Gina Haspel and FBI Director Chris Wray, are all working “collaboratively” with Barr and Durham on the review.

Barr and Durham are also trying to pinpoint the actual “start date” of the investigation, according to a source. -Fox News

As passionately laid out by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) during this week's Mueller testimony, the FBI officially opened the Russia investigation after Papadopoulos told Downer about a rumor (told to him by Clinton Foundation member Joseph Mifsud) that Russia had 'dirt' on Hillary Clinton. 

That said, some have suggested that the FBI probe began long before Downer's report to intelligence agencies

On Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., challenged former Special Counsel Mueller over when the investigation started.

"The FBI claims the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign began on July 31, 2016, but in fact, it began before that," Nunes said. "In June 2016, before the investigation was officially opened, Trump campaign associates Carter Page and Stephen Miller were invited to attend a symposium at Cambridge University in July 2016. Your office, however, did not investigate who was responsible for inviting these Trump associates to the symposium." -Fox News

"Maybe a better course of action is to figure out how the false accusations started," said Jordan on Wednesday, adding "Here’s the good news—that’s exactly what Bill Barr is doing and thank goodness for that." 

Published:7/26/2019 4:23:58 PM
[Markets] Mueller, The Mayor Of Munchkin-land, & Democrat Misadventures

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Who imagined that in the climactic scene of the blockbuster RussiaGate fantasy, when the curtain was ripped away, the Wizard at the controls would turn out to be… Captain Queeg! We need not rehash all the depressing particulars of Robert Mueller’s six-hour public humiliation in two House committee hearings in order to reach a set of conclusions about the conduct of his rogue investigation and the perfidious report issued in his name.

One is that Robert Mueller could not have run his investigation. There is even reason to question that he was briefed on the day-to-day developments by the people who did run it — since, for instance, he apparently never heard the phrase “Fusion GPS,” that is, the swarm of flying monkeys who delivered the whole shebang’s predicate documents known as the Steele Dossier simultaneously to the FBI, The Washington Post, and The New York Times beginning in 2016. By his testimony Wednesday, Mr. Mueller gives new meaning to the term useful idiot.

The two-year inquisition was run by attorneys Andrew Weissmann and Jeanie Rhee, two arch Hillary Clinton partisans (the latter a lawyer for the Clinton Foundation), leading now to the conclusion that the Mueller Investigation itself was no less a Clinton operation than the Steele Dossier. I wonder if it will become known whether Mrs. Clinton herself was in regular communication with Weissmann and Rhee during these years, or who were the intermediaries between them. Surely federal attorney John Durham has the mojo to seize phone records of the Mueller Team and find out exactly who was checking in with whom.

I, for one, even doubt that the lingering assertion of Russian “interference” in the 2016 election — taken as dictum by too many dupes — has any merit at all. Rather it was just a foggy byproduct of the mighty gaslighting effort by experienced Intel Community specialists working the zealously biased and credulous news media into a lather of bad faith. All of the Russians and “Russian agents” lassoed into narrative appear to have professional connections to either the CIA, the FBI, the US State department, or Mrs. Clinton’s various networks of myrmidons in the DNC, the Obama administration, and Fusion GPS. These relationships were all sedulously ignored by the Special Counsel’s office — and now they can’t be.

Hence, it is easy to imagine that Attorney General Barr and his lead investigator, Mr. Dunham, must now entertain the unappetizing prospect of examining the roles of Mrs. Clinton and the foregoing cast of characters in this melodrama for the purpose of discovering whether this was actually the seditious conspiracy that it appears to have been — with rather horrific possible consequences of grave charges and severe punishments.

In all this long and excruciating public playing-out of dark schemes, Mr. Trump, first candidate and now president, seems to have acted as little more than a tackling dummy for the Mueller Team and its backstage confederates. He tweeted childishly about the deeply partisan composition of the Mueller Team when he should have mounted a forceful legal opposition to the effrontery of their selection in the first place.

It’s interesting to follow the pronouncements of the bit-players in this spectacle, now that Mr. Mueller has inadvertently destroyed the basis of the sacred narrative. Rep. Jerold Nadler turned up yakking with Anderson Cooper on CNN last night, looking every inch like the Mayor of Munchkin Land, bloviating against the supposed imminent Russian takeover of America (read: by witches) and the now-receding fool’s errand of impeachment, which would only further expose the criminal culpability of his own Democratic Party in this sordid misadventure. Mr. Cooper looked deeply pained by the chore, and yet his own professional credibility is on the line after two years of allowing himself to be played like a flugelhorn by the folks who matter in this country, and he contested nothing in Mr. Nadler’s mendacious pratings.

And now a fretful silence will descend around this colossal goddamned mess as the momentum of history shifts against the perpetrators of it, and the true machinery of American justice is brought to bear upon them. The playing-out of Act Three will probably coincide with epic global financial disorder in the months ahead, further obscuring what people and nations can do to arrest the collapse of Modernity and its sidekick Human Progress.

Published:7/26/2019 1:52:45 PM
[Markets] Dershowitz: Is This The End Of The Office Of Special Counsel?

Authored by Alan Dershowitz via The Gatestone Institute,

Robert Mueller's performance in front of Congressional committees should mark the end of special counsels, special prosecutors, independent counsels and the like. These hearings demonstrated, if any further demonstration was required, how dangerous it was to go outside of the normal processes of criminal justice.

Ordinary prosecutors are not allowed to comment about why they decided not to prosecute the subject of an investigation. The Mueller Report, when made public, violated that salutary tradition. It contained negative information about people, including the president, who will have no opportunity to respond in a legal proceeding.

The report and the testimony introduced the novel and dangerous concept into our legal vocabulary: "Not exonerated." This concept, which finds no basis in the rules of the Justice Department or the Special Counsel, is a variation on the nefarious theme articulated by the disgraced former FBI director, James Comey, when he went beyond announcing that Hillary Clinton would not be prosecuted, and expressed his opinion that she had been extremely careless in her treatment of emails. This statement said, in effect, that Hillary Clinton was not being exonerated.

Mueller's testimony was confused and confusing on many scores. He couldn't explain why he had reached a formal decision on conspiracy with Russia but had failed to reach a formal conclusion about obstruction of justice. He had to pull back on his answer to whether the decision not to charge the President was based on a Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president. There was no explainable pattern as to why he chose to answer some questions while declining to answer others. He seemed not to be familiar with the contents of the Report that bears his name. It was almost as if he had signed his name to the Report without carefully reading or understanding it.

The night before Mueller's testimony, I was asked on a TV show whether it was a Hail Mary pass thrown by the Democrats. I predicted that it would be an intercepted pass. I was right. Even many Democratic stalwarts viewed the Mueller testimony as harmful to their cause. As a liberal Democrat, I share that view and it doesn't please me. But as a patriotic American, I care far more about the implications of the Mueller testimony for all Americans and for the rule of law.

The only good that can come from this testimony is that the millions of Americans who watched, or who will see and read excerpts, will come to understand how dangerous the Office of Special Counsel is to the rule of law. From day one, I proposed an alternative: namely the appointment of a nonpartisan expert commission whose job it is to investigate the role of Russia in trying to influence American elections and to influence our American democratic processes. Like the 9/11 Commission, this Russia Commission would not be pointing prosecutorial fingers for past derelictions, but would be focused primarily on preventing Russia from continuing to influence our American political processes. Prosecutors, like the Special Counsel, operate behind closed doors and in secret. They hear only one side of the story. They are restricted in what Grand Jury information can be made public. Non-partisan expert commissions, on the other hand, operate primarily in public (except when hearing classified material) and hear all sides of every issue in an effort to hear the whole truth.

So let's rethink how we deal with problems such as those that were the subject of the Mueller Report and Mueller's testimony. Let's learn from our mistakes and let's stop weaponizing our criminal justice system for partisan ends. Congress and the Justice Department should abolish the Office of Special Counsel, just as they abolished the Office of Independent Counsel after the fiasco of the Starr Report.

Published:7/26/2019 12:51:37 PM
[Robert Mueller] Beyond his purview (Scott Johnson) Tucker Carlson had former FBI deputy assistant director Terry Turchie on for a brief segment last night to discuss what I have been calling the Mueller miasma. Turchie holds that the testimony of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees this past Wednesday confirmed the existence of a hostile intelligence operation against Donald Trump (video below). Suffice it to say that Turchie takes up issues Published:7/26/2019 7:22:24 AM
[Markets] The Tyranny Of The Police-State Disguised As Law-And-Order

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“But these weren’t the kind of monsters that had tentacles and rotting skin, the kind a seven-year-old might be able to wrap his mind around - they were monsters with human faces, in crisp uniforms, marching in lockstep, so banal you don’t recognize them for what they are until it’s too late.”

- Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Enough already.

Enough with the distractions. Enough with the partisan jousting.

Enough with the sniping and name-calling and mud-slinging that do nothing to make this country safer or freer or more just.

We have let the government’s evil-doing, its abuses, power grabs, brutality, meanness, inhumanity, immorality, greed, corruption, debauchery and tyranny go on for too long.

We are approaching a reckoning.

This is the point, as the poet W. B. Yeats warned, when things fall apart and anarchy is loosed upon the world.

We have seen this convergence before in Hitler’s Germany, in Stalin’s Russia, in Mussolini’s Italy, and in Mao’s China: the rise of strongmen and demagogues, the ascendency of profit-driven politics over deep-seated principles, the warring nationalism that seeks to divide and conquer, the callous disregard for basic human rights and dignity, and the silence of people who should know better.

Yet no matter how many times the world has been down this road before, we can’t seem to avoid repeating the deadly mistakes of the past. This is not just playing out on a national and international scale. It is wreaking havoc at the most immediate level, as well, creating rifts and polarities within families and friends, neighborhoods and communities that keep the populace warring among themselves and incapable of presenting a united front in the face of the government’s goose-stepping despotism.

We are definitely in desperate need of a populace that can stand united against the government’s authoritarian tendencies.

Surely we can manage to find some common ground in the midst of the destructive, disrupting, diverting, discordant babble being beamed down at us by the powers-that-be? After all, there are certain self-evident truths—about the source of our freedoms, about the purpose of government, about how we expect to be treated by those we appoint to serve us in government offices, about what to do when the government abuses our rights and our trust, etc.—that we should be able to agree on, no matter how we might differ politically.

Disagree all you want about healthcare, abortion and immigration—hot-button issues that are guaranteed to stir up the masses, secure campaign contributions and turn political discourse into a circus free-for-all—but never forget that our power as a citizenry comes from our ability to agree and stand united on certain principles that should be non-negotiable.

For instance, for the first time in the nation’s history, it is expected that the federal deficit will surpass $1 trillion this year, not to mention the national debt which is approaching $23 trillion. There’s also $21 trillion in government spending that cannot be accounted for or explained. For those in need of a quick reminder: “A budget deficit is the difference between what the federal government spends and what it takes in. The national debt is the result of the federal government borrowing money to cover years and years of budget deficits.” Right now, the U.S. government is operating in the negative on every front: it’s spending far more than what it makes (and takes from the American taxpayers) and it is borrowing heavily (from foreign governments and Social Security) to keep the government operating and keep funding its endless wars abroad. Meanwhile, the nation’s sorely neglected infrastructure—railroads, water pipelines, ports, dams, bridges, airports and roads—is rapidly deteriorating.

Yet no matter how we might differ about how the government allocates its spending, surely we can agree that the government’s irresponsible spending, which has saddled us with insurmountable debt, is pushing the country to the edge of financial and physical ruin.

That’s just one example of many that shows the extent to which the agents of the American police state are shredding the constitutional fabric of the nation, eclipsing the rights of the American people, and perverting basic standards of decency.

Let me give you a few more.

Having been co-opted by greedy defense contractors, corrupt politicians and incompetent government officials, America’s expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $15 billion a month (or $20 million an hour)—and that’s just what the government spends on foreign wars. The U.S. military empire’s determination to police the rest of the world has resulted in more than 1.3 million U.S. troops being stationed at roughly 1000 military bases in over 150 countries around the world. That doesn’t include the number of private contractors pulling in hefty salaries at taxpayer expense. In Afghanistan, for example, private contractors outnumber U.S. troops three to one

No matter how we might differ about the role of the U.S. military in foreign affairs, surely we can agree that America’s war spending and commitment to policing the rest of the world are bankrupting the nation and spreading our troops dangerously thin.

All of the imperial powers amassed by Barack Obama and George W. Bush—to kill American citizens without due process, to detain suspects indefinitely, to strip Americans of their citizenship rights, to carry out mass surveillance on Americans without probable cause, to suspend laws during wartime, to disregard laws with which they might disagree, to conduct secret wars and convene secret courts, to sanction torture, to sidestep the legislatures and courts with executive orders and signing statements, to direct the military to operate beyond the reach of the law, to operate a shadow government, and to act as a dictator and a tyrant, above the law and beyond any real accountability—were inherited by Donald Trump. These presidential powers—acquired through the use of executive orders, decrees, memorandums, proclamations, national security directives and legislative signing statements and which can be activated by any sitting president—enable past, president and future presidents to operate above the law and beyond the reach of the Constitution.

Yet no matter how we might differ about how success or failure of past or present presidential administrations, surely we can agree that the president should not be empowered to act as an imperial dictator with permanent powers.

Increasingly, at home, we’re facing an unbelievable show of force by government agents. For example, with alarming regularity, unarmed men, women, children and even pets are being gunned down by twitchy, hyper-sensitive, easily-spooked police officers who shoot first and ask questions later, and all the government does is shrug and promise to do better. Just recently, in fact, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals cleared a cop who aimed for a family’s dog (who showed no signs of aggression), missed, and instead shot a 10-year-old lying on the ground. Indeed, there are countless incidents that happen every day in which Americans are shot, stripped, searched, choked, beaten and tasered by police for little more than daring to frown, smile, question, or challenge an order. Growing numbers of unarmed people are being shot and killed for just standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety.

No matter how we might differ about where to draw that blue line of allegiance to the police state, surely we can agree that police shouldn’t go around terrorizing and shooting innocent, unarmed children and adults or be absolved of wrongdoing for doing so.

Nor can we turn a blind eye to the transformation of America’s penal system from one aimed at protecting society from dangerous criminals to a profit-driven system that dehumanizes and strips prisoners of every vestige of their humanity. For example, in Illinois, as part of a “training exercise” for incoming cadets, prison guards armed with batons and shields rounded up 200 handcuffed female inmates, marched them to the gymnasium, then forced them to strip naked (including removing their tampons and pads), “bend over and spread open their vaginal and anal cavities,” while male prison guards promenaded past or stood staring. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the entire dehumanizing, demoralizing mass body cavity strip search—orchestrated not for security purposes but as an exercise in humiliation—was legal. Be warned, however: this treatment will not be limited to those behind bars. In our present carceral state, there is no difference between the treatment meted out to a law-abiding citizen and a convicted felon: both are equally suspect and treated as criminals, without any of the special rights and privileges reserved for the governing elite. In a carceral state, there are only two kinds of people: the prisoners and the prison guards.

No matter how we might differ about where to draw the line when it comes to prisoners’ rights, surely we can agree that no one—woman, man or child—should be subjected to such degrading treatment in the name of law and order.

In Washington, DC, in contravention of longstanding laws that restrict the government’s ability to deploy the military on American soil, the Pentagon has embarked on a secret mission of “undetermined duration” that involves flying Black Hawk helicopters over the nation’s capital, backed by active-duty and reserve soldiers. In addition to the increasing militarization of the police—a de facto standing army—this military exercise further acclimates the nation to the sight and sounds of military personnel on American soil and the imposition of martial law.

No matter how we might differ about the deference due to those in uniform, whether military or law enforcement, surely we can agree that America’s Founders had good reason to warn against the menace of a national police force—a.k.a. a standing army—vested with the power to completely disregard the Constitution.

We labor today under the weight of countless tyrannies, large and small, disguised as “the better good,” marketed as benevolence, enforced with armed police, and carried out by an elite class of government officials who are largely insulated from the ill effects of their actions. For example, in Pennsylvania, a school district is threatening to place children in foster care if parents don’t pay their overdue school lunch bills. In Florida, a resident was fined $100,000 for a dirty swimming pool and overgrown grass at a house she no longer owned. In Kentucky, government bureaucrats sent a cease-and-desist letter to a church ministry, warning that the group is breaking the law by handing out free used eyeglasses to the homeless. These petty tyrannies inflicted on an overtaxed, overregulated, and underrepresented populace are what happens when bureaucrats run the show, and the rule of law becomes little more than a cattle prod for forcing the citizenry to march in lockstep with the government.

No matter how we might differ about the extent to which the government has the final say in how it flexes it power and exerts its authority, surely we can agree that the tyranny of the Nanny State—disguised as “the better good,” marketed as benevolence, enforced with armed police, and inflicted on all those who do not belong to the elite ruling class that gets to call the shots— should not be allowed to pave over the Constitution.

At its core, this is not a debate about politics, or constitutionalism, or even tyranny disguised as law-and-order. This is a condemnation of the monsters with human faces that have infiltrated our government.

For too long now, the American people have rationalized turning a blind eye to all manner of government wrongdoing—asset forfeiture schemes, corruption, surveillance, endless wars, SWAT team raids, militarized police, profit-driven private prisons, and so on—because they were the so-called lesser of two evils.

Yet the unavoidable truth is that the government has become almost indistinguishable from the evil it claims to be fighting, whether that evil takes the form of terrorism, torture, drug traffickingsex trafficking, murder, violence, theft, pornography, scientific experimentations or some other diabolical means of inflicting pain, suffering and servitude on humanity.

No matter how you rationalize it, the lesser of two evils is still evil.

So how do you fight back?

How do you fight injustice? How do you push back against tyranny? How do you vanquish evil?

You don’t fight it by hiding your head in the sand.

We have ignored the warning signs all around us for too long.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the government has ripped the Constitution to shreds and left us powerless in the face of its power grabs, greed and brutality.

What we are grappling with today is a government that is cutting great roads through the very foundations of freedom in order to get after its modern devils. Yet the government can only go as far as “we the people” allow.

Therein lies the problem.

The consequences of this failure to do our due diligence in asking the right questions, demanding satisfactory answers, and holding our government officials accountable to respecting our rights and abiding by the rule of law has pushed us to the brink of a nearly intolerable state of affairs.

Intolerable, at least, to those who remember what it was like to live in a place where freedom, due process and representative government actually meant something. Having allowed the government to expand and exceed our reach, we now find ourselves on the losing end of a tug-of-war over control of our country and our lives.

The hour grows late in terms of restoring the balance of power and reclaiming our freedoms, but it may not be too late. The time to act is now, using all methods of nonviolent resistance available to us.

“Don’t sit around waiting for the two corrupted established parties to restore the Constitution or the Republic,” Naomi Wolf once warned. Waiting and watching will get us nowhere fast.

If you’re watching, you’re not doing.

Easily mesmerized by the government’s political theater—the endless congressional hearings and investigations that go nowhere, the president’s reality show antics, the warring factions, the electoral drama—we have become a society of watchers rather than activists who are distracted by even the clumsiest government attempts at sleight-of-hand.

It’s time for good men and women to do something. And soon.

Wake up and take a good, hard look around you. Start by recognizing evil and injustice and tyranny for what they are. Stop being apathetic. Stop being neutral. Stop being accomplices. Stop being distracted by the political theater staged by the Deep State: they want you watching the show while they manipulate things behind the scenes. Refuse to play politics with your principles. Don’t settle for the lesser of two evils.

As British statesman Edmund Burke warned, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing.”

Published:7/25/2019 11:21:57 PM
[Markets] Ron Paul: Forget Russiagate, Look At FBI-gate Instead

Via 21stCenturyWire.com,

Yesterday, the Democratic Congress had their big moment – the testimony of Russiagateprobe figurehead Robert Mueller, whose 448-page report detailing the findings of his nearly-two-year-long investigation into alleged “Trump-Russian collusion” and alleged “Russian interference” in the US 2016 elections.

After no evidence of collusion or interference could be found, the remit was then shifted over to “possible obstruction of justice. ” And when no evidence of obstruction could be unearthed, the Democrat and Mueller position then became, ‘the Mueller Report has not cleared Trump of obstruction,’ or the report does not exoneration of the President. Here they are trying to prove a negative, something which could be said about about any unproven accusation leveled against anyone – which makes that spurious declaration meaningless.

Even the most ardent Never Trump partisan journalists, like NBC News political director Chuck Todd, admitted that the former special counsel Robert Mueller’s performance in front of the House Judiciary Committee hearing was a “disaster” and did nothing to advance the cause for impeachment.

As the dust subsides from yesterday’s debacle, the real issues are finally coming into focus.

Former US Congressman Dr Ron Paul highlights some of the deeper,  fundamental problems with the Russiagate fiasco. RT International reports...

The Democrats’ dream of impeaching President Trump over the Russiagate scandal has “totally failed,” its fate confirmed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s disastrous showing in Congress, former congressman Ron Paul told RT.

The utterly anticlimactic hearing saw the ex-special counsel serving up reheated details of his two-year probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, reminding both the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees that there was no proof that members of the Trump campaign conspired with Russia.

Hopefully, this will end it all, because Mueller did not have any evidence,” Paul said.

"I think we should never use the word Russiagate again. I think we ought to use the FBIgate because there was a conspiracy to try to frame Trump."

If they have impeachment hearings next year, it is going to backfire on them, just as I think this hearing today backfired on the Democrats,” Paul said, suggesting that lawmakers should instead investigate the origins of the Russia probe – in particular the Steele dossier, which was partially funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic Party. The document, produced by Fusion GPS, was full of unsubstantiated tales about Trump and helped to kick off the FBI probe, yet when pressed on the key role of the opposition research firm, Mueller didn’t even appear to be familiar with the organization.

Both parties have much bigger problems, Paul pointed out, marveling at how Democrats and Republicans are “bosom buddies,” marching in lockstep on “more debt, more interference, more involvement overseas, more welfare-ism,” yet “they hate each other’s guts when it comes to power.”

"The empire’s broke, the empire’s in trouble, yet [both parties] don’t want to talk about that."

Published:7/25/2019 9:18:02 PM
[Markets] "Clinton Body Count" Is Trending On Twitter, The Establishment Blames Russia

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

Americans waking up to check Twitter this morning were greeted with the trending hashtag “#ClintonBodyCount.” This hashtag is referencing a long-running theory that the Clintons have been responsible for multiple murders to keep their corruption secret.

But the re-emergence of the trending hashtag has, of course, been blamed on “Russian bots.”

The phrase has since been used to link the mysterious deaths of people who were connected to Bill and Hillary Clinton in some fascinating ways. For example, the 1993 suicide of White House Deputy Counsel Vince Foster, and the fatal armed robbery of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich in 2016.

Many Twitter users are asking others to check their own morality before defending the Clintons.

Making matters worse for the Clintons, the “Clinton Body Count” phrase was originally coined by writer Danny Casolaro in the late 1980s. Casolaro “committed suicide” in 1991, while working on a story supposedly involving an international cabal.

The establishment is rapidly attempting to place the blame on Russia for the hashtag’s popularity claiming that this is the work of Russian bots."

The elitists are currently trying to spin this into some kind of Russian conspiracy. It goes something like this: Russian President Vladimir Putin was so incensed by the knockout testimony given by former special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday that he cranked up the output of his troll farms and swamped Twitter with the hashtag as a distraction, according to RT.

It also didn’t take long for offended leftists to call for censorship and for Jack Dorsey to shut down the #ClintonBodyCount hashtag.

As RT further pointed out, Mueller did a good enough job failing to give Democrats the answers they were hoping for.  No amount of sneaky Russian meddling is needed to distract from Mueller’s testimony. Stammering through answers, seemingly forgetting key details from his report, and declining to answer any questions outside its scope, Mueller did a pretty good job deflating the expectations of Democrats hoping for some new Russiagate revelations.

Nonetheless, leftists are wholly attempting to keep the Russiagate hoax alive and well and if it takes blaming the newest trending hashtag on Russian bots, you can bet they’ll do it.

Published:7/25/2019 8:48:07 PM
[Markets] The Failure Of Impeachment Regime Change

Authored by Jacob Hornberger via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

With what most everyone is calling a stunningly disjointed and extremely disappointing presentation before Congress by Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, it is becoming increasingly clear that the effort to achieve regime change through impeachment is going to fail. Democrats are going to have to rely on the traditional electoral means to remove President Trump from office in 2020.

This is the way it should be. Achieving regime change through impeachment would have converted the United States into a standard banana republic.

Ever since Trump became the GOP nominee for president, Democrats, the national-security establishment, and the liberal elements of the mainstream press did everything they could to ensure that his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, was elected president.

Once Trump became president, however, his opponents refused to accept the electoral outcome and began trying to remove him from office through impeachment.That’s where the anti-Russia brouhaha came into play.

During the campaign, it was increasingly clear that Trump and Clinton were on opposite sides of the Russia controversy. Trump desired to establish friendly relations with Russia, which was exactly what Russia wanted.

But that’s not what the national-security establishment wanted. Ever since the sudden and unexpected end of the Cold War, the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA — the three principal components of the national-security state — did everything they could to make Russia, once again, an official enemy of the United States. Clinton was squarely on the side of the national-security establishment.

That’s why the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA kept the Cold War dinosaur NATO in existence instead of dismantling it. It’s also why they had NATO begin absorbing former members of the Warsaw Pact, enabling U.S. forces and missiles to be stationed ever closer to the Russian border, violating assurances that U.S. officials had given Russia not to expand toward Russia. That’s what the effort to absorb Ukraine into NATO was all about, knowing full well that Russia would respond by protecting its longtime military base in Crimea.

Everything was oriented toward making certain that the United States and Russia would never be on friendly terms. Everything was instead oriented toward making Russia, once again, another Cold War official enemy of the United States.

Why is that the goal of the national-security establishment? Because it needs a justification for its own existence and its own ever-growing power and influence. That justification comes in the form of official enemies, ones that can keep Americans fearful. In that way, the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA can say, “Keep flooding us with U.S. taxpayer money because we are the ones who are keeping you safe from America’s official enemies. Keep giving us totalitarian-like powers over you so that we can keep you safe.”

Of course, Russia isn’t the only official enemy. There is also China, which increasingly is being presented as a Cold War-like “hegemon” that is supposedly threatening U.S. “national security.”

And then there are the smaller official enemies, like Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, the Taliban, the Muslims, the terrorists, ISIS, the drug dealers, and the illegal immigrants, all of which, we are told, are threats to “national security.”

As a candidate, Trump was threatening to upend this racket, at least with respect to Russia and perhaps also by threatening to bring an end to America’s forever wars and its policy of regime-change wars. That posed a grave threat to the national-security establishment, which had been grafted onto America’s federal governmental system after World War II to fight the Cold War against the Soviet Union, America’s World War II partner and ally whose principal member was Russia.

Trump’s friendly attitude toward Russia could not be permitted to stand, not as a presidential candidate and especially not as a U.S. president. That’s when the anti-Russia brouhaha was launched, which accused Trump of being an agent of the Russians, just as some people accused President Eisenhower of being a communist agent of the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

It was a ridiculous accusation from the get-go but its primary purpose was to enable Trump’s opponents to remove him from office long before the next election in 2020. It was designed to be regime change through impeachment.

Once Mueller’s investigative team, despite years of intense investigation, was unable to come up with convincing evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy, however, Trump’s detractors fell back on a secondary plan for regime change though impeachment — “obstruction of justice,” a federal crime that is so nebulous and subjective that it is the federal version of “disorderly conduct,” a “crime” that local officials use to target people they don’t like. The sham nature of this alternative theory for regime change was exposed through its supporters refusal to seek Trump’s impeachment for real crimes, such as killing people overseas through illegal undeclared wars and illegal assassinations. With Mueller’s dismal performance before Congress, this alternative attempt at regime change appears to be dead in the water as well.

While Trump’s enemies have been unsuccessful in removing him from office through impeachment, they have, unfortunately, been successful in having him become an opponent of Russia, China, and all of the other official enemies of the U.S national-security state. Not only has Trump continued the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, he has kept up hostile relations with Russia, initiated a destructive trade war with China, and ratcheted up the U.S. wars on Muslims, the terrorists, the illegal immigrants, the drug dealers, ISIS, and the Taliban. He has also ensured that ever-increasing taxpayer-funded largess continues flooding into the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, no matter how much more debt this adds onto the backs of American taxpayers.

In other words, Trump, like George W. Bush and Barack Obama, has been absorbed into the national-security state blob. They have won. Trump has become one of them. That’s the real success of the unsuccessful effort to remove Trump from office through impeachment regime change.

Published:7/25/2019 7:59:52 PM
[Markets] Sean Davis Sums Up Lies And Revelations From The Failed Effort To Take Down Donald Trump

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's doddering performance on Wednesday in front of two House panels really put a bow on what a farce the effort to take down Donald Trump has been from the start. 

After listening to Mueller stammer his way through simple questions regarding his own 448-page report on Russian interference, it's abundantly clear that the former FBI Director was nothing more than a paper tiger whose hand-picked team of 'attack dog' Democrat attorneys drew as much blood as they possibly could - yet were unable to find evidence to support the grand lies we've been forced to endure for nearly three years. 

Summing up the last three years is a Twitter thread by The Federalist co-founder and former congressional staffer, Sean Davis. 

No wonder the Democrats are waffling on impeachment. 

Published:7/25/2019 6:18:48 PM
[Markets] After Mueller Miasma, Stockman Says "Real Election Meddling" Probe Can Begin

Via David Stockman's Contra Corner,

At his wrap-up press conference in May, Robert Mueller sternly underscored what he called "the central allegation" of the two-year Russia probe. Namely, that the Russian government engaged in

"multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election, and that allegation deserves the attention of every American."

Yesterday’s gong show on Capitol Hill presented him with innumerable opportunities to defend that heavy duty proposition.

Indeed, he had a massive TV audience before which to fortify the entire foundation on which the Russia meddling/collusion story is based and on which a concerted effort have been made by a goodly part of the Washington establishment to invalidate the 2016 election on the grounds that the Kremlin threw it to Trump.

But nothing doing. Instead, Mueller ducked, dodged and demurred – hiding behind the words of his 448-page report. Yet the latter doesn’t even attempt to "prove" this "central allegation" at all; it just asserts it based on purportedly classified information that the unwashed voters and most of their elected representatives are not allowed to see.

More crucially, both before and since the Report’s release, even its squishy nods and heavily qualified inferences implicating Russian state agents have been essentially refuted by evidence now on the public record.

The two tent poles of the whole RussiaGate affair are the social media campaigns of the St. Petersburg troll farm and the alleged hack of the DNC computers by Russian state operatives. That’s not our view but the claim of the Mueller report itself which said the alleged Russian interference occurred “principally through two operations.”

Yet both poles are so flimsy that they can’t be taken seriously by anybody who examines the facts with even a half-open, adult mind.

In a word, the troll farm’s efforts at using US social media were an amateurish joke which were well and truly lost in the sea of noise and trivia which washes through Facebook, Twitter et. al, and which had no relationship to the Kremlin in any event (see below). Likewise, the overwhelming evidence on the public record says the DNC emails were leaked by a disgruntled insider not hacked by Russian agents operating over the internet thousands of miles away.

We have buttressed both of these conclusions at length previously, and the essence is summarized below. But the implications go way beyond knocking the RussiaGate hoax into a cocked-hat.

What the two flimsy tent poles if RussiaGate really show is the extreme danger of statism and the inherent infirmities of Big Government itself.

That’s because in today’s world of relentless 24/7 communications and messaging, haphazard information, random facts and mere factoids can be drafted into the service of a narrative that serves partisan ends, and then can be repeated with such monumental frequency and plenary breadth as to give the aura of truth to what amounts to self-serving nonsense.

That is to say, scratch a Washington pol, Deep State apparatchik or MSM journalist who embraces the "central allegation" of RussiaGate and you essentially have a Never Trumper who finds the Donald and that for which he stands so loathsome that they, perforce, must believe he was elected only by virtue of Kremlin intervention.

To RussiaGate believers, the alternative is not even thinkable. To wit, that 62 million voters knowingly preferred the Donald over Hillary – notwithstanding all his warts of character and his querulous denunciations of establishment policy and its officialdom.

Accordingly, the evidence needed to validate the Russian interference narrative was never examined deeply or subjected to skeptical assessment and challenge; it was just lined-up and recited endlessly as if the mere repetition of factoids, irrelevancies and sheer foolishness proved the truth of the narrative.

Still, if a proposition as grave as "multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election" can be embraced by a major section of the governing apparatus on such threadbare evidence as the two poles of the RussiaGate story how is it possible for Imperial Washington to rule the entire world or to micro-manage the very warp and woof of domestic economic and social life?

Indeed, if there was ever a case for free markets, small government, maximum individual liberty and minimal politicization of society at home and strict non-interventionism abroad, the RussiaGate Hoax is exactly that.

What yesterday’s gong show really proved is that the governing classes and their media megaphones in America today cannot even chew bubble gum and walk a straight line at the same time. So why in the world do we want them to rule where no rulers are needed?

In any event, the St. Petersburg troll farm narrative is now deader than a doornail. Mueller and his posse have actually been prohibited from even asserting in public that it was a Kremlin operation by a US District judge.

That’s right. Because they didn’t have a shred of evidence to support their insinuation!

That was proven in open court when much to Mueller’s surprise, the operation involved – the Internet Research Agency (IRS) – chose to defend itself and the 13 clueless ham sandwiches Mueller indicted and in so doing elicited a stern admonition from the presiding judge.

Thus, the first pole of the RussiaGate tent – the allegation that IRA was a part of the Russian government’s “sweeping and systematic” interference campaign – has already tumbled to the ground. Mueller’s team has been forced to admit in court that this was a false insinuation.

Aaron Mate, an intrepid and honest leftwing journalist for the Nationmagazine, recently summarized the matter as well as anyone:

US 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.

Mueller also goes to great lengths to paint it as a sophisticated operation that “had the ability to reach millions of US 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.

Indeed, the IRA was such a belly-splitting joke that they only thing it proved is that prosecutor Mueller did actually indict 13 Russian-speaking ham sandwiches.

Actually, the IRA was the relatively harmless Hobby Farm of a fanatical Russian oligarch and ultra-nationalist, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has a great big beef against Imperial Washington’s demonization of Russia and Vlad Putin. Apparently, the farm was (it’s apparently been disbanded) the vehicle through which he gave Washington the middle finger and buttered up his patron.

Prigozhin is otherwise known as "Putin’s Cook" because he made his fortune in St. Petersburg restaurants that Putin favored and via state funded food service operations at Russian schools and military installations.

Like most Russian oligarchs not in jail, he apparently tithes in gratitude to the Kremlin: In this case, by bankrolling the rinky-dink operation at 55 Savushkina Street in St. Petersburg that was the object of Mueller’s pretentious foray into the flotsam and jetsam of social media low life.

Prigozhin’s trolling farm was grandly called the Internet Research Agency (IRA), but what it actually did was hire (apparently) unemployed 20-somethings at $4-8 per hour to pound out ham-handed political messaging on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube etc. They banged away twelve hours at a shift on a quota-driven paint-by-the-Internet-numbers basis where their output was rated for engagements, likes, retweets etc.

Whatever these keyboard drones might have been, they were not professional Russian intel operators. And the collection of broken English postings strewn throughout Mueller’s indictment were not one bit scary.

The pure grandstanding nature of this blow against the purported election meddling of the nefarious Russians is more than evident in the 3,000 ads IRA bought on Facebook for about $100,000 – more than half of which were posted after the election.

Yet here’s a typical example of how the Russians stormed into America’s sacred election space – even if according to Facebook this particular ad got less than 10,000 "impressions" and the mighty sum of 160 "shares".

For crying out loud, it didn’t take any nefarious Russian intelligence agent to post this kind of cartoonish Islamophobia. There are millions of American xenophobes more than happy to do it with their own dime, time and bile.

Still, the fact that these Facebook ads and the St. Petersburg troll farm were taken seriously shows how insidious the Deep State’s RussiaGate campaign had become. In order to prove that their writ and rule will not be denied by the American electorate, they cynically fostered a mindless public hysteria that makes the work of Joe McCarthy appear benign by comparison.

And during a period, by the way, when the 80,000 Facebook posts attributable to IRA were up against the 33 trillion messages posted on that fetid network by its billions of users.

Indeed, talk about shooting fish in a barrel. Even Keeping Up With The Kardashians voters would get a pretty good yuck from the example displayed below.

A post called "Power to the people!" was typed out by some troll farm operative in St. Petersburg, whose $4 per hour pay probably was not worth the effort: It was shared by the grand some of 20 people, who might well have been algos, anyway!

The fact is, the "evidence" for Russian meddling via the IRA social media operation was always complete nonsense.

Needless to say, of course, if there was no "meddling", how could there have been Trump campaign "collusion" to accomplish something which didn’t happen?

As to the DNC emails, the notion that the Russian GRU (intelligence service) hacked the DNC emails and handed them off to WikiLeaks has now been equally discredited.

William Binney, who is the father of modern NSA Internet spying technologies, says that the DNC emails were leaked on a thumb-drive and couldn’t have been hacked as a technical matter; and equally competent analysts have shown that Guccifer 2.0 is almost surely a NSA contrived fiction based on the oldest trick in the police precinct station house – planting evidence, in this case telltale Cyrillic letters and the name of a notorious head of the Soviet secret police.

Indeed, if the Russians did it via a nefarious hacking operation, the digital fingerprints would be all over the computers and servers involved. Moreover, the National Security Agency (NSA) would have a record of the breach stored at one of its server farms because it does capture and store everything that comes into the US over the Internet

Said record, of course, would amount to the Smoking Intercept. So the only thing Mueller really needed to do at the get-go was to call the head of NSA and request the NSA intercept – something he obviously didn’t do or it would have leaked long ago.

In the alternative, if NSA has no such record, he could have confiscated the DNC computers and servers – which had never even been inspected by the FBI, let alone taken into custody – to determine whether William Binney is right.

That didn’t happen, either. In fact, the whole case is based on a redacted draft report from an anti-Russian cyber-security outfit called CrowdStrike that was on the DNC payroll and had every incentive to find secret evidence of Russian hacking that has never been made public – or even available to Mueller and his posse of alleged criminal sleuths.

So what we are left with is the fact that Binney, a NSA veteran and actually the father of much of today’s NSA Internet spying capability, says that the recorded download speed of the DNC emails could only have been done by plugging a thumb-drive into the machines on site. That is, nothing downloads across 5,000 miles of digital expanse at the recorded 22.7 megabytes per second.

In short, if the Russians hacked them, the evidence is all there in the hard drives; and if they didn’t, the entire RussiaGate hoax should have been shutdown long ago.

That’s because the only thing that remotely smacks of untoward meddling by the Kremlin is the DNC emails – and even then, they only concerned intra-party squabbles between the Clinton and the Sandernista factions of the Dem party that were already well advertised and known to the American electorate.

Left-wing investigator Aaron Mate has distilled the same facts we have examined and come to the same conclusions.

- But a close examination of the report shows that none of those headline assertions are supported by the report’s evidence or other publicly available sources. They are further undercut by investigative shortcomings and the conflicts of interest of key players involved:

- The report uses qualified and vague language to describe key events, indicating that Mueller and his investigators do not actually know for certain whether Russian intelligence officers stole Democratic Party emails, or how those emails were transferred to WikiLeaks.

- The report’s timeline of events appears to defy logic. According to its narrative, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced the publication of Democratic Party emails not only before he received the documents but before he even communicated with the source that provided them.

- There is strong reason to doubt Mueller’s suggestion that an alleged Russian cutout called Guccifer 2.0 supplied the stolen emails to Assange.

- Mueller’s decision not to interview Assange – a central figure who claims Russia was not behind the hack – suggests an unwillingness to explore avenues of evidence on fundamental questions.

- US intelligence officials cannot make definitive conclusions about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee computer servers because they did not analyze those servers themselves. Instead, they relied on the forensics of CrowdStrike, a private contractor for the DNC that was not a neutral party, much as “Russian dossier” compiler Christopher Steele, also a DNC contractor, was not a neutral party. This puts two Democrat-hired contractors squarely behind underlying allegations in the affair – a key circumstance that Mueller ignores.

- Further, the government allowed CrowdStrike and the Democratic Party’s legal counsel to submit redacted records, meaning CrowdStrike and not the government decided what could be revealed or not regarding evidence of hacking.

At the end of the day, there can be nothing more pitiful after 22 months of prosecutorial scorched earth on the Russian collusion file than Mueller’s list of indictments. To remind once again, they include:

- 13 Russian college kids for essentially practicing English as a third language at a St. Petersburg troll farm for $4 per hour;

- 12 Russian intelligence operatives who might as well have been picked from the GRU phonebook;

- Baby George Papadopoulos for mis-recalling an irrelevant date by two weeks;

- Paul Manafort for standard Washington lobbyist crimes committed long before he met Trump;

- Michael Cohen for shirking taxes and running Trump’s bimbo silencing operation;

- Michael Flynn for doing his job talking to the Russian Ambassador and confusing the confusable Mike Pence on what he said and didn’t say about Obama’s idiotic 11th hour Russian sanctions;

- Rick Gates for helping Manafort shakedown the Ukrainian government and other oily Washington supplicants.;

- Sam Patten, another Manafort operative who forget to register correctly as a foreign agent;

- Richard Pinedo, a grifter who never met Trump and got caught selling forged bank accounts on-line to Russians for a couple bucks each;

- Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyers who wrote a report for Manafort in 2012 and misreported to the FBI what he told Gates about it.

That’s all she wrote and it’s about as pathetic as it gets. Mueller should have been guffawed out of town on account of this tommyrot long before belatedly delivering a report that proved exactly that.

And yesterday he said exactly nothing to alter that conclusion.

Perhaps there is a silver lining, however. Maybe now the RussiaGate "investigation" can turn to the real election meddling – the Deep State conspiracy lead by CIA director John Brennan and the anti-Trump cabal at the FBI to thwart Trump’s candidacy and then discredit his Presidency once he was elected to the nation’s highest office.

We will have more to say about the real assault on American democracy from within in the future, but if you do not believe that the entire Russian influence investigation was motivated by rank political animus against the GOP’s presidential candidate because he advocated the sensible path of rapprochement with Russia, just consider the paragraph below.

It tells you all you need to know about why RussiaGate happened; why the Mueller investigation dragged on for two years and still pollutes the media airways; and, most importantly, how the so-called progressive party in America in its grief over losing the 2016 election to an incompetent megalomaniacal bully like Donald Trump has become a pathetic handmaid of the Warfare State.

'I do always hate the Russians,' Lisa Page, a senior FBI lawyer on the Russia case 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: 'fu*k the cheating motherfu*king Russians… Bastards. I hate them… I think they’re probably the worst. Fu*king conniving cheating savages.' Speaking to NBC News in May 2017, 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.'

Indeed, all along it was all about War Party policy on Russia. Per the NYT:

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.

Trump’s July 2016 comment was a joke, and the story about the GOP platform change was overblown, while the policy change made all the sense in the world. Even then, it was later undermined in practice when Trump sold weapons to Ukraine – a move that even Obama had opposed.

Published:7/25/2019 5:18:02 PM
[Markets] Welcome, Comrade Mueller, To America's Soviet-Style Show-Trials!

Authored by Robert Bridge,

Any hope that the interrogation of prosecutor, Robert Mueller, would provide some closure to the endless spectacle of Russiagate was dashed. As long as Donald Trump is in power, the show must go on.

When Mueller, 74, was led into the lion’s den of the congressional coliseum on Wednesday to defend his 22-month, multi-million-dollar investigation from the slings and arrows of partisan power-brokers, the temptation to feel some pity for the man was surprisingly strong.

The former special counsel appeared frail, disheveled and, as many others have acknowledged, well past his prime. His demeanor resembled that of a powerful official who had just been yanked from bed at gunpoint to appear before a midnight military tribunal. The flimsy shield he hid behind when confronted with any serious question regarding his 448-page report was deference to “the ongoing investigation.”

The Republicans drew blood early. Jim Jordan, veteran House member and former wrestling champ, maneuvered Mueller into an inescapable lock-hold. Jordan pressed Mueller as to why the ‘witch hunt’ hauled away half a dozen Trump-connected cohorts to prison – including Roger Stone, a former adviser to the president, who was arrested in a crack-of-dawn FBI raid that was all-too conveniently filmed by a CNN camera crew – yet nobody affiliated with the Democratic Party suffered equally harsh measures.

Jordan reminded the mute Mueller that the FBI, with the blessing of the Democratic Party, had pulled off a historic first when they spied on two members of the Trump campaign, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. That brazen act of espionage should have been at the heart of Mueller’s probe, but strangely it went missing in action.

Here’s where things get really dark. In the course of the FBI’s undercover work, a mysterious Maltese professor by the name of Joseph Mifsud – who purportedly lied three times to investigators – passed along ‘secret information’ to Mr Papadopolous that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Papadopolous then informed a diplomat about the claim, which was then – thanks to the notoriously bad plumbing inside of the nation’s capital – leaked to the media. That single drop of fake news put into motion not only the bogus Steele dossier, complete with a bizarre reference to golden showers in Moscow, but the entire Russiagate hoax.

Jordan demanded to know why Mifsud, who was once photographed alongside Boris Johnson, the newly elected British prime minister, was not dragged in for questioning as were so many Republicans. Mueller’s silence on the matter was deafening.

There were other glorious moments for the Republicans in this made-for-TV reality show. Rep. Mike Turner, for example, resorted to props as he argued over a single word that appeared at the end of the Mueller Report: “exonerate.” The termwas found in the very last sentence of the report: “Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.That controversial statement has attracted much ire from the Republican camp, not to mention Trump himself.

Turner, with law books piled high on his pulpit, together with a copy of the US Constitution, lectured Mueller that neither he nor the attorney general has any power to exonerate the president of the United States, since ‘exonerate’ is not a legally binding term. The inclusion of that word, Turner argued, “colored the report,” thereby allowing US news channels to run with the ‘breaking news’ that “Trump was not exonerated.It was a very clever way of demonstrating how the mainstream media can frame a story according to its political bias, which is known to lean heavily liberal and Democrat.

Devin Nunes, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, echoed those sentiments when he said “the Russia investigation was never about finding the truth. It’s always been a simple media operation… this operation continues in this room today.”

The Democrats, meanwhile, were also fixated with words, first and foremost ‘obstruction.’ Since they failed to nail Trump to the cross of collusion, their next best approach was to accuse him of preventing Mueller from carrying out his assigned duties, which is a federal offense.

When asked by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler if “the report did not conclude that [the president] did not commit obstruction of justice,” Mueller responded: “That is correct.”

It was obvious to everyone watching where Nadler’s line of inquiry was leading, and that was to the explosive I-word: impeachment. Yet no amount of coaxing and fawning by the Democrats could get Mueller to spit out the one word that has been the wet dream material of every liberal voter since the debacle of the 2016 presidential election. So now the Democrats, if they decide to press forward with impeachment proceedings, will have to do so without the solemn consent of Robert Mueller, a veteran Washington insider with considerable standing and influence in the swamp. That makes the idea of impeaching Trump downright risky to the point that it has reportedly unhinged the Democrats down the middle.

According to Politico, Nadler suggested that several House committee chairs could start “drafting articles of impeachment against Trump.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, called the idea “premature, according to anonymous sources.

So now the Democrats find themselves in a very precarious situation as the United States prepares to enter what promises to be one of the most momentous, not to mention tempestuous, presidential election seasons of all time. If they proceed with impeachment proceedings against Trump, they risk alienating a large segment of their constituents, many of whom are suffering ‘probe fatigue’ and are anxious to turn the page.

At the same time, however, many high-ranking Democrats may feel they have no choice but to make a major effort to dislodge Trump from the Oval Office due to one nagging consideration: Attorney General William Barr is actively investigating the many players involved in the ‘Russiagate’ saga and what he may unearth – specifically as to who was responsible for launching the greatest conspiracy theory of modern times – has certainly got a lot of Democrats extremely concerned. 

If Barr discovers that there was no legal basis for spying on the Trump campaign, some very influential people may find themselves – like Roger Stone – the target of early morning FBI raids at the behest of a Republican inquest.  

What this means is that the Democrats, by pushing for the impeachment of Trump, are in reality engaging in their own form of obstruction of justice, and that is justice over their own possible crimes.

In other words, fasten your seat-belts and start the popcorn because ‘Russiagate’ is not over; in fact, it has only just begun.

Published:7/25/2019 2:16:07 PM
[Opinion] Mueller Testified Before Two Committees Today – It Was Just the Circus You Expected

By Jim Clayton -

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on Russian Collusion in the last election and involvement in the Trump campaign on Wednesday, July 24th. Heading the Judiciary Committee was rep. Gerald Nadler who has been a constant critic of Trump and led off with ...

Mueller Testified Before Two Committees Today – It Was Just the Circus You Expected 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:7/24/2019 7:00:59 PM
[] Mueller Panel 2 Round 2;When Mueller Is Asked Directly If His Office Leaked the Timing of the FBI Black-Ops Raid on Roger Stone, Mueller Answers "I can't speak to that" Can't or won't? Two friends note: While saying "I can't speak to that," Mueller also denied the leak of a document exclusively possessed by his office came from his office, and also that the FBI is refusing to hand over... Published:7/24/2019 1:29:26 PM
[Uncategorized] ‘Convenient’: Robert Mueller says he won’t answer questions on the Steele dossier or the beginning of the FBI investigation

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller just finished his opening statement and stated that he will not be answering any questions on the Steele dossier or the beginning of the FBI investigation: Mueller makes clear he has no plans to discuss the origin of the FBI investigation before his appointment or the Steele dossier, despite GOP […]

The post ‘Convenient’: Robert Mueller says he won’t answer questions on the Steele dossier or the beginning of the FBI investigation appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:7/24/2019 8:24:06 AM
[Markets] Watch Live: Robert Mueller Testifies Before Congress

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller is testifying before two Congressional committees today, offering his first public testimony since submitting his 448-page report on the 2016 US election. Testimony is scheduled to begin in the House Judiciary Committee at 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., followed by the smaller House Intelligence Committee from noon to 2 p.m. 

Watch live:

Mueller is expected follow guidance from the Justice Department and stick to the 'four corners' of his report, and he has made clear that he won't answer hypothetical questions. That said, as a private citizen there is nothing stopping Mueller from answering questions outside the report. 

What to watch for

House Democrats - looking for anything they can use to launch an impeachment, will undoubtedly focus on having Mueller refute President Trump's oft-repeated "no collusion, no obstruction" claim. While the Mueller report did not find evidence of collusion, he left the question of obstruction to Attorney General William Barr and former Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein - who found no collusion. 

The Mueller report contains at least 10 alleged acts by Trump that could constitute obstruction of his investigation, which Democrats will likely push for him to elaborate on. 

Mueller may provide fresh momentum for congressional Democrats to open proceedings to impeach the president. Impeachment is an option that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has resisted so far because of her belief it would prove futile, and politically damaging to her party, unless dramatic new evidence emerges that would lead to Trump’s removal from office by the Republican-controlled Senate. -Bloomberg

Republicans, meanwhile, will likely focus on the origins of the Russia investigation - as well as the anti-Trump text messages exchanged between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who were key investigators of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. GOP House members will also likely ask about the so-called Steele dossier which contains salacious and unverified allegations about President Trump and his aides. 

Published:7/24/2019 7:32:23 AM
[8c6e764f-554b-5e1f-a4e7-9387f317eca6] Solomon Wisenberg: Mueller should be asked these 25 questions when he testifies Republican have the right to seek answers from Mueller to disturbing questions about how the FBI probe of alleged Trump-Russia collusion was launched and enabled. Here are 25 questions they should ask. Published:7/23/2019 11:52:48 PM
[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] 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
[Politics] Ted cruz sends letter to AG Barr, FBI Director, urging them to investigate Antifa – [FULL LETTER] Ted Cruz today wrote a letter to the Justice Department and the FBI urging them to investigate the left-wing anarchist terrorist organization, otherwise known as Antifa, for RICO violations: Today I penned . . . Published:7/23/2019 6:23:04 PM
[Politics] Ted cruz sends letter to AG Barr, FBI Director, urging them to investigate Antifa – [FULL LETTER] Ted Cruz today wrote a letter to the Justice Department and the FBI urging them to investigate the left-wing anarchist terrorist organization, otherwise known as Antifa, for RICO violations: Today I penned . . . Published:7/23/2019 6:23:04 PM
[Politics] Comey: If Trump Weren't President He Would Be Indicted President Donald Trump would have been indicted on charges of obstruction if he were not president, according to fired FBI Director James Comey. Published:7/23/2019 5:21:24 PM
[Markets] LAPD Spied On And Infiltrated Anti-Trump Protesters

The Los Angeles Police Department spied on anti-Trump protesters and even infiltrated an activist group that was planning anti-Trump protests, according to the Guardian.

An informant working for the LAPD secretly infiltrated a group called "Refuse Fascism" in 2017, recording multiple meetings that the group held. LAPD transcripts that were submitted in a criminal case against activists who blocked a California freeway during an anti-Trump rally were the first admissions that the informant existed.

The undercover officer was equipped with a hidden recording device and attended "Refuse Fascism" gatherings at a local church “in an attempt to elicit information regarding the closure” of the freeway and to express interest in being involved “in any such future activities,” according to the LAPD. 

One of the activists who was monitored and recorded as well as charged with misdemeanors, Miguel Antonio, said he would not let the surveillance stop him from organizing:

 “We’re not scared. We’re not going to back down in the face of repression. You’re in a church, and you’re meeting about organizing a peaceful protest, and you’re running the risk of being charged with conspiracy or these petty crimes.”

Similar incidents have also taken place across the US. In Sacramento, police pursued cases against left-wing activists at a white supremacist rally. In Berkeley, police collaborated with a "violent pro Trump demonstrator" to prosecute a left-wing group. There have also been similar controversies in Washington DC and Oregon.

The LAPD surveillance was "striking", given documented evidence of violence from the far right as well as the far left.

Mike German, a former FBI agent and expert on local extremist groups, said: 

“This case seems to fall into a pattern of police agencies viewing anti-fascist organizing as terrorism, while overlooking the far more deadly and frequent violence perpetrated by white supremacists and other far-right militants.”

The LAPD reportedly didn’t conduct similar spying operations on far right groups.

The LAPD police chief, Michel Moore, reportedly “ordered a top-to-bottom review to determine whether the department’s stringent requirements for the use of confidential informants were followed”.

On September 27, 2017, Antonio was arrested after he shut down a freeway in downtown LA to protest Trump a year after his election. Shortly thereafter, the LAPD had an informant approach Antonio at a meeting.

During an 11 October meeting, the informant approached Antonio and said, “Are we gonna do like any freeway things again…or major things like that?”, according to a transcript of a secret recording.

“I’m not sure,” Antonio responded.

The informant then said he was interested in joining future activities: “I thought the freeway thing was pretty good.”

At one point, the informant caught someone on a recording say: “That’s an awfully hot coffeepot, should I drop it on Donald Trump?”

Damon Alimouri, Antonio’s lawyer, said:

"The LAPD surveillance was unjust and outrageous. [I] suspect this type of spying [is] likely to escalate across the country. The further left that younger people go, we will continue to see law enforcement infiltrating these groups secretly. To a certain extent, it might intimidate some, and I think that’s the intention of the LAPD.”

Frank Wulf, the pastor of the church, said: “The government is interfering with the rights of protest in America,” he said, adding that he worried about a chilling effect: “You never know if the person sitting next to you is a police informant or not.”

Published:7/22/2019 10:20:12 PM
[Markets] FBI Raids LA's Department Of Water & Power, City Hall

Rumors about a federal investigation into Los Angeles city hall have been circulating for months now, and on Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the FBI carried out a search of the Department of Water and Power and City Hall.

Power

A spokesman for the FBI confirmed the search.

"There is a search taking place at the DWP building. The affidavit in support of the search warrant is under seal by the court," said Rukelt Dalberis, an FBI spokesman in Los Angeles. Law enforcement sources said the FBI was also at Los Angeles City Hall.

A champagne-colored van was parked outside the DWP headquarters with a placard saying "FBI" and "Official Business."

An FBI van was parked outside City Hall East, which serves as the headquarters for City Atty. Mike Feuer ‘s office and several government agencies.

A spokesman for the City Attorney's Office refused to confirm whether the FBI agents had entered the City Attorney's office.

The mayor's office released a statement saying Eric Garcetti's office welcomed the investigation.

Alex Comisar, a spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, said in a statement: "We were notified earlier this morning that federal search warrants were being executed today. The mayor believes that any criminal wrongdoing should be investigated and prosecuted. His expectation is that any city employee asked to cooperate will do so fully and immediately."

DWP Commissioner Christina Noonan declined to comment, saying she had been advised to refer all questions to a department spokesman.

LADWP spokesman Joe Romallo did not return multiple calls seeking comment.

Federal investigators have cast a wide net for information about foreign investment in Los Angeles real estate developments. Among those named in the warrant were Councilman Jose Huizar, Curren Price, the former head of he Department of Building and Safety and high-level appointees of Garcetti and Council President Herb Wesson.

Recently, the developers of projects in Councilman Jose Huizar's district have received grand jury subpoenas demanding they turn over communications with the councilman and other current and former staffers.

The DWP has been struggling with its own series of scandals, including the fallout from a billing system that sent out wildly inaccurate bills to customers, prompting a flood of lawsuits.

The warrant also named executives of Chinese firms bankrolling new residential and hotel towers on Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles. It doesn't say whether the FBI has gathered evidence of criminal activity.

Published:7/22/2019 9:46:18 PM
[Markets] The Non-Hack That Hurt Hillary - On The 3rd Anniversary Of WikiLeaks Release Of The DNC Emails

Authored by Ray McGovern via ConsortiumNews.com,

Three years ago Monday WikiLeaks published a trove of highly embarrassing emails that had been leaked from inside the Democratic National Committee. As has been the case with every leak revealed by WikiLeaks, the emails were authentic. These particular ones, however, could not have come at a worse time for top Democratic Party officials.

The emails made it unmistakably clear that the DNC had tipped the scales sharply against Democratic insurgent Bernie Sanders, giving him a snowball’s chance in hell for the nomination. The posting of the DNC emails is also widely seen as having harmed the the electoral prospects of Hillary Clinton, who could not escape responsibility completely, while a handful of the very top DNC officials were forced to immediately resign.

Relatively few Americans read the actual emails, their attention diverted to the incessant media-fostered question: Why Did the Russians Hack the DNC to Hurt Hillary? For the millions of once enthusiastic Democrats who favored Sanders, however, the disclosure that the nomination process had been fixed came as a bitter pill, leaving a sour taste in their mouths and a passive-aggressive reluctance to promote the candidacy of one they considered a usurper. Having had a huge stake in Bernie’s candidacy, they had little trouble seeing through the diversion of attention from the content of the emails.

Clinton Prevails

A mere four days after the WikiLeaks release, a well orchestrated Democratic Convention nominated Clinton, while many Sanders supporters loudly objected. Thus, she began her campaign under a cloud, and as more and more Americans learned of the fraud that oozed through the DNC email correspondence — including the rigging of the Democratic primaries — the cloud grew larger and darker.

On June 12, 2016, six weeks before the convention, WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange had announcedin an interview on British TV, “We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton … We have emails pending publication.”

Independent forensic investigations demonstrated two years ago that the DNC emails were not hacked over the Internet, but had been copied onto an external storage device — probably a thumb drive. Additional work over recent months has yielded more evidence that the intrusion into the DNC computers was a copy, not a hack, and that it took place on May 23 and 25, 2016.

The DNC almost certainly knew what had happened — not only that someone with physical access to DNC computers had copied thousands of emails, but also which ones they had copied, and thus how prejudicial to the Clinton campaign they would be when they saw the light of day.

And so, candidate Clinton, the DNC, and the mainstream media (forever quoting anonymous “current and former intelligence officials”) appear to have colluded, deciding the best defense would be a good offense. No one knew how soon WikiLeaks would publish the emails, but the DNC offense/defense would surely have to be put in place before the convention scheduled to begin on July 25. That meant there were, at most, six weeks to react. But it only took two days. As early as July 24, about 48 hours after the leaks were published, and a day before the convention, the DNC first blamed Russia for hacking their emails and giving them to WikiLeaks to sabotage Clinton.

A Magnificent Diversion

Granted, it was a stretch — and the DNC would have to hire a pliable cybersecurity firm to back up their claim. But they had good reason to believe that CrowdStrike would perform that service. It was the best Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook and associates could apparently come up with. If they hurried, there would be just enough time to prepare a PR campaign before the convention and, best of all, there was little doubt that the media could be counted on to support the effort full bore.

Clinton: Already blaming the Russians at DNC 2016 convention. (Wikipedia)

When WikiLeaks published the emails on July 22, 2016, just three days before the Democratic convention, the propagandists were ready to deflect attention from the damning content of the DNC emails by repeating incessantly that the Russians hacked the emails and gave them to WikiLeaks to hurt Clinton.

It pretty much worked like a charm. The late Senator John McCain and others were quick to call the Russian “hack” an “an act of war.” Evidence? None. For icing on the cake, then-FBI Director James Comey decided not to seize and inspect the DNC computers. Nor, as we now know, did Comey evenrequire a final report from CrowdStrike.

Eight months after the convention, in remarks at the Clinton/Podesta Center for American Progress on April 6, 2017, Clinton’s PR director, Jennifer Palmieri, could scarcely contain her pride that, after a difficult start, she was ultimately successful in keeping the Russian bear front and center.

Transcribed below (verbatim) are some of Palmieri’s more telling remarks when asked to comment, from her insider perspective, on “what was actually going on in late summer/early fall.”

“…I did appreciate that for the press to absorb … the idea that behind the stage that the Trump campaign was coordinating with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton was too fantastic for people to, um, for the press to process, to absorb…. But then we go back to Brooklyn and heard from the — mostly our sources were other intelligence, with the press who work in the intelligence sphere, and that’s where we heard things and that’s where we learned about the dossier and the other story lines that were swirling about … And along the way the administration started confirming various pieces of what they were concerned about what Russia was doing. … [Emphasis added.]

“And we did finally get to the point on October 7, when the administration came out with a very stunning [memorandum]. How stunning it was for both the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of Homeland Security to put out a statement – a long statement – that said with high confidence that Russia was interfering in the election and they were also directing the timing of the leaks. And it named the institutions – WikiLeaks, DC Leaks, and Guccifer – as being Russian-led, and how stunning that was to be that certain and that public. … So I do think that the answer for the Democrats now … in both the House and the Senate is to talk about it more and make it more real ….”

And so, the Magnificent Diversion worked as intended.

Recognizing Liminal Time

But not all journalists fell for it.

Patrick Lawrence (once of The Nation, now of Consortium News) was onto the ruse from the start. He says he had “fire in the belly” on the morning of July 25, 2016, the day the Democratic convention began, and that he dashed off an article “in one long, furious exhale” within 12 hours of when the media started really pushing the “the Russians-did-it” narrative. The title of his article, pointed out to me a few months ago by VIPS member Todd Pierce, was “How the DNC fabricated a Russian hacker conspiracy to deflect blame for its email scandal … a disturbing resemblance to Cold War red-baiting.”

Lawrence’s off-the-cuff ruminations, which Salon published the next day are extraordinarily prescient and worth reading in full. He instinctively recognized the email disclosure-cum-media-obfuscation campaign as a liminal event. Here are some excerpts, reprinted here with Lawrence’s permission:

”Now wait a minute, all you upper-case “D” Democrats. A flood light suddenly shines on your party apparatus, revealing its grossly corrupt machinations to fix the primary process and sink the Sanders campaign, and within a day you are on about the evil Russians having hacked into your computers to sabotage our elections … Is this how lowly you rate the intelligence of American voters? …

The Sanders people have long charged that the DNC has had its fingers on the scale … in favor of Hillary Clinton’s nomination. The prints were everywhere … Last Friday WikiLeaks published nearly 20,000 DNC email messages providing abundant proof that Sanders and his staff were right all along. The worst of these, involving senior DNC officers, proposed Nixon-esque smears having to do with everything from ineptitude within the Sanders campaign to Sanders as a Jew in name only and an atheist by conviction. …

The caker came on Sunday, when Robby Mook … appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and … CNN’s “State of the Union” to assert that the D.N.C.’s mail was hacked “by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.” He knows this … because “experts” — experts he will never name — have told him so.

the Clinton campaign now goes for a twofer. Watch as it advances the Russians-did-it thesis on the basis of nothing, then shoots the messenger, then associates Trump with its own mess — and, finally, gets to ignore the nature of its transgression (which any paying-attention person must consider grave). Preposterous, readers. Join me, please, in having absolutely none of it. There is no “Russian actor” at the bottom of this swamp, to put my position bluntly. You will never, ever be offered persuasive evidence otherwise. …[Emphasis added.]

Trump, to make this work, must be blamed for his willingness to negotiate with Moscow. This is now among his sins. Got that? Anyone who says he will talk to the Russians has transgressed the American code. … I am developing nitrogen bends … Which way for a breath of air?”

Sad Sequel

A year later Lawrence was commissioned by The Nation to write an investigative report on the so-called “Russian hack.” On August 9, 2017, after he interviewed several Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, among others, The Nation published his findings in an article entitled “A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack.” Lawrence wrote, “Former NSA experts, now members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), say it wasn’t a hack at all, but a leak—an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system.”

Again, Lawrence got it right — this time relying less on his own experience and intuition than on applied science as practiced by real technical experts with no axes to grind. But, sadly, that cut across the grain of the acceptable Russia-gate narrative, and a furor erupted among Hillary followers still licking their wounds over her loss. It proved simply too much for them to entertain the notion that Clinton was quite capable, with help from the likes of Mook, to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory — without any help from Vladimir Putin.

Published:7/22/2019 9:19:35 PM
[Markets] Schiff Says Inspector General's Work 'Tainted' Ahead Of Report On Surveillance Abuses

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) has pivoted from 'deepfake doom' influencing the 2020 election, to downplaying an upcoming watchdog report by the DOJ's Inspector General due sometime in September. 

Speaking at the Aspen Security Conference (where he had a pow-wow with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson last July), Schiff claims that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz was co-opted into a scheme to protect President Trump by instigating a "fast track" report last year at Trump's behest, according to the Washington Examiner's Daniel Chaitin. 

Schiff claimed the president wanted McCabe, who briefly took over as acting FBI director after Trump fired James Comey in May 2017, investigated and his pension taken away and suggested someone such as former Attorney General Rod Rosenstein obliged the president by making a referral.

"The inspector general found that McCabe was untruthful. He may very well have been untruthful," the California Democrat said, but noted that is not where main his concern lies.

...

The initiation of the inspector general's inquiry in McCabe happened, Schiff said, "because the president wanted it politically." He added, "Once you go down that road, it leads to disaster." -Washington Examiner

"I have no reason to question the inspector general's conclusion, but that investigation was put on a fast track. It was separated from a broader inspector general investigation, which is still ongoing," said Schiff. "Why was that done? It was done so he could be fired to not get a pension. It was done to please the president when the initiation investigation is tainted. So are the results of that investigation."

McCabe was fired on March 16, 2018 - less than two days before his planned retirement. Had he not been fired, he would have collected his full pension on his 50th birthday. 

Of course, a GoFundMe campaign set up in the wake of McCabe's firing raised $538,000 for his 'legal-defense fund,' so we imagine he'll be OK unless the DOJ decides to pursue charges against the former Deputy Director. 

In April 2018, it was revealed that the Justice Department inspector general referred its findings to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington for possible criminal charges, and his lawyer confirmed as recently as February that McCabe was still under investigation.

McCabe, whom Trump has accused of planning to carry out an "illegal and treasonous" plan to oust him as president, has argued that his firing was an attempt to discredit the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. -Washington Examiner

It's far from over...

While the Mueller investigation is over, Horowitz's investigation into potential FISA abuse is significant - and Attorney General William Barr is now 'weapons free' to work with Horowitz to 'investigate the investigators.' According to the Examiner, "The inspector general can recommend prosecutions, and U.S. Attorney John Durham, whom Barr tasked to lead the review, has the ability to convene a grand jury and subpoena people outside of the government. Beyond that, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, has promised a "deep dive" into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation after Horowitz completes his work." 

Two questions remain; will Schiff continue to push the taint angle, and will AG Barr and Horowitz's efforts lead to any notable prosecutions before the 2020 election? Or ever?

Published:7/22/2019 2:51:27 PM
[Corruption] Report: James Comey Lied, Was Investigating while Telling Trump There Was No Investigation

The following article, Report: James Comey Lied, Was Investigating while Telling Trump There Was No Investigation, was first published on Godfather Politics.

A new report finds that former FBI Director James Comey was lying to President Donald Trump when said the Bureau was not investigating him.

Continue reading: Report: James Comey Lied, Was Investigating while Telling Trump There Was No Investigation ...

Published:7/22/2019 11:43:16 AM
[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] 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] It's Mueller Time, Again: The Hill Has 10 Questions Ahead Of Wednesday's Testimony

With Special Counsel Robert Mueller slated to testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on Wednesday, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will have an opportunity to question him about his two-year probe into Russian interference in the 2016 US election - as well as his decision not to render an opinion on whether Trump obstructed the investigation. 

Mueller has made clear that he won't say anything beyond what's in his 448-page report, and that he won't answer hypotheticals. 

While Democrats will likely focus on questions that might provide fodder for Trump's long-promised impeachment, Republicans will likely highlight that the 22-month probe failed to find a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to interfere with the election. The GOP is also likely to probe Mueller for answers regarding allegations of FBI misconduct - which House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) says would be a waste of time. 

"Very clear the Trump investigation was not predicated on the so-called dossier, there was nothing wrong with the FISA application, all the things that they’re talking about have been gone through," Nadler told Fox News Sunday. "If they want to debate or discuss this irrelevancy, let them waste their time. What’s before the American people is the conduct of this president." 

Meanwhile, The Hill has 10 questions they'd like to see Mueller answer

***

Would you have charged Trump if it weren’t for the OLC opinion? 

Democrats want to know if Mueller would have charged Trump with obstruction of justice in the absence of an Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion from the Justice Department that says a sitting president can’t be indicted.

Judiciary Committee aides said Thursday that Democrats would respect Mueller’s desire to stay within the confines of his report. But members are still likely to ask this question, which can be phrased a number of ways.

Mueller is unlikely to answer the question, given his insistence in May that he would not comment on “hypotheticals about the president.” 

In his May 29 remarks, Mueller said charging Trump “was not an option we could consider” because of the Justice Department policy. Mueller didn’t say that he would have charged Trump if it weren’t for the policy, but he also declined to clear the president of allegations of wrongdoing.

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. 

Attorney General William Barr and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reviewed the evidence laid out in Mueller’s report and found it to be insufficient to accuse Trump of a crime.

Why did your office write a letter to Barr objecting to his March 24 memo? 

Mueller wrote to Barr on May 27 objecting to the attorney general’s four-page memo from a few days earlier outlining the Russia report’s principal conclusions, a revelation that sparked a firestorm in Washington on the eve of Barr’s public testimony before the Senate.

Mueller is likely to be asked about the letter — why his office wrote it, who authored it, how it was leaked — and whether he was satisfied with Barr’s decision not to ultimately release summaries from the report despite the special counsel’s overtures.

Did you blame the media on your call with Barr? 

Lawmakers are sure to inquire about Mueller’s interactions with Barr following the March 27 letter, when he asserted that the attorney general’s March 24 memo “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of his work and conclusions.

Barr told Congress in April that, during a later phone call, Mueller told him he was upset by the media coverage of the memo and that he did not take issue with the accuracy of the memo.

“My understanding was his concern was not the accuracy of the statement of the findings in my letter but that he wanted more out there to provide additional context to explain his reasoning and why he didn’t reach a decision on obstruction,” Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Did any Trump campaign contacts with Russia put national security at risk? 

House Intelligence Committee Democrats are particularly interested in the counterintelligence implications of Mueller’s report and whether any contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow posed national security risks, even if they didn’t amount to criminal conduct.

Mueller’s report briefly notes that the investigation generated “foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information” that was sent to the FBI but acknowledged that not all of it was included in the final report.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and other Democrats on the panel have said they want to focus on the dozens of contacts between Trump campaign associates and Kremlin-linked figures.

Did your investigation exonerate Trump of ‘collusion’ and obstruction allegations?

Trump has cheered the Mueller report as vindicating him of allegations of “collusion” and obstruction of justice. 

But Democrats and other critics of the president note that Mueller’s report explicitly states that there was no evaluation of alleged “collusion” — a term often used by the press, Trump administration officials and lawmakers to describe accusations of coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. 

Instead, Mueller investigated whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the election, finding insufficient evidence to charge anyone associated with the campaign with criminal conspiracy. 

Mueller also did not reach a judgment on obstruction of justice. Barr said that left it up to him to make the call.

Should Congress initiate an impeachment inquiry? 

Some Democrats took Mueller’s statement on May 29 as a green light to start impeachment proceedings against Trump.

In his terse nine-minute remarks, Mueller did not mention impeachment but said the Constitution “requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing” while explaining his decision not to reach a judgment on obstruction. He’s likely to be asked what he meant by that.

More than half of the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee publicly back an impeachment inquiry, and the topic is sure to hang over Mueller’s testimony.

Still, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is opposed to impeachment at this time, saying House Democrats are doing plenty to investigate and hold accountable both Trump and his administration.

At what point did you know the investigation was not going to establish conspiracy between the campaign and Russia? 

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a Trump ally and Judiciary Committee member, previewed this question in an appearance on Fox News.

“I think the one question all Americans have is, when did you first learn there was no collusion, no coordination, no conspiracy? And if you learned that early, why didn’t you tell us that?” Jordan said on Fox.

Many Republicans are skeptical of Mueller and his team and are likely to use the hearing to question the former special counsel’s credibility, his team and his decisions.

What role did the Steele dossier play in the investigation? 

Republicans have focused on the early stages of the Russia investigation before Mueller took it over in May 2017. Of particular interest to them is the FBI’s use of information from the controversial Steele dossier in an application to surveil onetime Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The dossier is fleetingly referenced in Mueller’s report in the context of Trump’s reactions to media reports about its allegations and his interactions with then-FBI Director James Comey.

The dossier is described as a collection of “unverified allegations” compiled by ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, a former FBI source who was terminated by the bureau in fall 2016.

Republicans have long scrutinized the dossier following revelations it was paid for by Democrats.

Congressional Republicans opened their own investigations into the origins of the Russia probe when they were in control of the House. Barr has since opened an inquiry into whether intelligence collection targeting the Trump campaign was adequately predicated, and the of Justice inspector general is said to have nearly completed his own review of the FBI’s actions in applying for the Page warrant.

Why did you select people for your team who mostly donated to Democrats? 

Another point of contention for GOP lawmakers has been the makeup of Mueller’s team of prosecutors, many of whom are registered Democrats.

Republicans have also seized on anti-Trump text messages exchanged by FBI officials working on the Russia probe before Election Day 2016 as evidence the investigation was initiated by agents biased against Trump. One of the agents, Peter Strzok, was removed from the investigation after the messages became known.

Mueller is a registered Republican, and he was appointed special counsel by Rod Rosenstein, Trump’s hand-picked deputy attorney general.

Why didn’t you compel Trump to be interviewed? 

Some legal experts have criticized Mueller’s decision not to issue a subpoena to compel Trump to testify under oath — a move that undoubtedly would have provoked a prolonged court fight.

While Trump submitted written answers to Mueller on the topic of Russian interference, he declined to sit for a voluntary interview with the special counsel’s team or answer questions related to obstruction.

Mueller wrote in his report that he decided not to issue a subpoena because of the “substantial delay” it would have caused, though his team believed they had the “authority and legal justification” to do so. The report also states that Mueller told the president’s legal team that an interview with Trump was “vital” to the investigation.

Published:7/21/2019 2:08:11 PM
[Markets] "I've Had Many Strange Experiences In My Life" - Inside Epstein's 'Honey Trap' On E 71st Street

Authored by Eric Margolis via EricMargolis.com

I’ve had many strange experiences in my decades of covering intelligence affairs. These run from being invited to KGB HQ in Moscow, Chinese intelligence in Beijing, US intelligence in Virginia, Libyan intelligence in Tripoli, South African intelligence, and even Albanian intelligence in Tirana.

But none was odder than the day I was invited to lunch in New York City with the by now notorious figure Jeffrey Epstein. The golden boy of Manhattan and Palm Beach society now sits in a grim jail cell accused of having sex with underage girls. He’s been doing this in plain view since the early 1990’s but, until recently, he seemed bullet-proof.

??

Soon after I walked into the entrance of Epstein’s mansion on E 71st Street, said to be the city’s largest private home, a butler asked me, “would you like an intimate massage, sir, by a pretty young girl?” This offer seemed so out of place and weird to me that I swiftly declined.

Image source: Getty

More important than indelicacy, as an old observer of intelligence affairs, to me this offer reeked of ye old honey trap, a tactic to ensnare and blackmail people that was old when Babylon was young. A discreet room with massage table, lubricants and, no doubt, cameras stood ready off the main lobby.

I had arrived with Canada’s leading lady journalist who was then close to Epstein’s sometime girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell and, it was said, procuress – something Maxwell denies. Bizarrely, Maxwell believed that I could get KGB Moscow Center to release satellite photos that showed the murder on his yacht of her father, the press baron Robert Maxwell, who was a well-known double agent for Israel and KGB, and a major criminal.

Also present was the self-promoting lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, who had saved the accused murderer Claus von Bulow, as well as a titan of the New York real estate industry (not Trump) and assorted bigwigs of the city’s elite Jewish society. All sang the praises of Israel.

Epstein reportedly had ties to Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prince Andrew and repeatedly flew them about in his private jet, aka “the Lolita Express.” All guests deny any sexual activity. I turned down dinner with Prince Andrew.

Epstein’s residence in Manhattan and Palm Beach, both of which I visited, were stocked with young female “masseuses.” All were working class girls making big money in their spare time. I did not see any interactions between these girls and the guests.

Epstein and Maxwell became too big for their britches. They flaunted their sexual adventures and laughed at New York society. Everyone wondered about the source of Epstein’s lavish income but no one knew its origins. He claimed to be an exclusive money manager for a group of secretive millionaires. But the only one identified was billionaire Leslie Wexner, the owner of L Brands and Victoria’s Secret. Wexner denied any knowledge of Epstein’s alleged crimes.

Besides sexual frolics, Epstein and Maxwell were up to many odd things. The FBI found diamonds, cash and a fake passport when raiding his mansion and documents showing his net worth at $559,120,954.00. The IRS tax people will be eager to review the sources of this income.

It seems likely that political influence was brought to bear on then US attorney Alexander Acosta (he just resigned under fire last week) to make a sweetheart deal with Epstein, who had been charged by Florida with child molestation. Epstein got off with a token, 13-month jail sentence that allowed him to work from his office much of the day.

Were Trump or Clinton involved? How much did they “party” with Epstein and revel in his fleshmart? There was talk of some sort of “intelligence” angle to the affaire Epstein that spared him a harsh sentence.

A respected former CIA official, Phil Giraldi has come right out and accused Epstein of being an Israeli agent of influence. Epstein was let off with a slap on the wrist on his first child abuse charge, says Giraldi, because of his powerful Israel connections.

To Giraldi and this writer, the Epstein “massage” operation was a classic intelligence operation designed to blackmail men of influence into doing Israel’s bidding. Clinton had reportedly already fallen into this trap years earlier while still president.

Now watch this stinking pile of corruption be hurriedly covered up. Talk about draining the swamp.

Published:7/21/2019 12:09:08 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
[Markets] Mueller Should Be Arrested For Conspiracy To Overthrow POTUS; PCR

Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

The Mueller report, which had no choice as there was no evidence, but to clear Donald Trump of conspiring with Russian President Putin to steal the last US presidential election from Hillary Clinton, nevertheless managed to keep an aspect of the manufactured hoax known as “Russiagate” alive by indicting some Russian intelligence officers and a Russian Internet clickbait operation for attempting to discredit Hillary with Internet postings.   

At the time I noticed that Muller’s indictments were based only on his assertion and not on any evidence.  As there was no prospect whatsoever of the fake indictments coming to trial, I did not comment on them.  I focused instead on Mueller’s statement that Trump might have obstructed justice although he lacked evidence  to support the charge.  I noted how corrupt American law has become when it is possible to obstruct justice in the absence of a crime.  

Democrats and presstitutes were determined to get Trump by any means and remain uninterested in how justice is obstructed when there is no crime.

In retrospect, not picking up on Mueller’s indictment-by-hearsay of Russians was a mistake.  Not only have the Democrats continued their Russiagate campaign on the basis of the unsubstantiated indictments, but, more importantly, the indictments-by-assertion-alone show Mueller’s total lack of moral character.  A prosecutor, indeed a former Director of the FBI, who confuses his unsubstantiated allegation with evidence, is not only a person devoid of any respect for law, but also an extremely dangerous person to have been vetted for the high government positions that he has held.  

How did a person as corrupt as Robert Mueller get confirmed in his appointments as US Attorney, US Assistant Attorney General, US Deputy Attorney General, and Director of the FBI?  That a person as ethically-challenged as Robert Mueller could breeze through so many confirmations by the US Senate proves how utterly corrupt the US government is. 

How does an American patriot respond to a government filled with corrupt individuals serving their private careers by serving not the American people, but the powerful private interests that control their careers or the interest of a foreign country that purchases their loyalty.  Many of these permanent Washington fixtures, such as Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, serve Israel’s interest at the expense of America’s interest. An American nationalist who attempts to serve American interests has little chance against a powerful lobby. Every year Congress hands over to Israel enough billions of dollars for Israel to purchase every federal election and many state ones.

It is not possible today for anyone who is not “a friend of Israel” to serve in a presidential appointment that requires confirmation by the US Senate. As Admiral Tom Moorer, Chief of Naval Operatons and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff said, “no American president can stand up to Israel.” No truer words have ever been spoken. Before any American president can attend to America’s interests, he must first attend to Israel’s interest.  Generally speaking, the Israel Lobby stresses that American interests conform to Israel’s interest. Therefore, Israel’s interests are America’s interests. If you disagree with this, you will not go far in the US government.

That Mueller’s indictment of Russians for attempting to throw the presidential election to Trump is unsubstantiated has been highlighted by US Federal District Judge Dabney Friedrich.  The judge just ruled that Mueller’s assertion of Russian “sweeping and systematic” interference in the presidential election does not constitute proof of the charge. It is nothing but an unsubstantiated indictment based on nothing but an assertion by the special prosecutor. Mueller provides no evidence in his report to support his claim.  Mueller is so corrupt that he uses his unsubstantiated indictment as evidence for the indictment!

In other words, the Federal Judge has ruled that Mueller has made a false indictment.

If that is not a felony, it should be.  

The corrupt Mueller covers up his absence of evidence for his indictments by using language such as “widely reported,” “confirmed,” “established.”  He is referring to the words used by his stable of presstitutes, media whores who paved the way for his false accusation.  

A country without a media is a Police State.  The only media the West has is the English language Russian media and the alternative media on Internet sites, such as this site, Information Clearing House, Global Research, Lew Rockwell, Unz Review. 

The Russian media was banned from the  conference on press freedom, because the Russian media is free and the UK and US media are not.  The People Really In Charge - PRICs - are at work shutting down the rest of us as fast as they can.

Before long, the only words you will hear willl be those used to control you.  The word freedom will be redefined as per George Orwell’s 1984 or be prohibited.  It will die as a word whose meaning is unknown.

In the 21st century, the US government has destroyed civil liberty, free speech, and accountable government.  There is no longer any reason for people who want to be free to support any Western government or political party that is in power. The Western World has no greater enemies than its own governments and the private interests governments represent.

While you await the final cutting out of tongues, say a prayer for Judge Friedrich.  Americans don’t know that a federal judge, indeed any judge, can be arrested by police on false charges and prosecuted by prosecutors based on fake evidence.  The judiciary no longer has the independence that the separation of powers provides.  Judges can be punished if they rule against the interests of those in whom the predominance of power resides.

Those with the predominance of power rule, not the law, the Constitution, or the people.

Published:7/20/2019 7:41:21 PM
[Markets] Woke Capitalism: Answering A Question Nobody Asked

Via Doug Casey's InternationalMan.com,

International Man: Everything seems to be increasingly politicized these days… in a way that it wasn’t just a few years ago. To name a few, we see it in sports, with large corporations like Procter & Gamble in their razor blade ads.

Politics is creeping into more and more areas. It’s a trend that seems to be accelerating.

How did this happen and what does it mean?

Doug Casey: The politicization of the country is poisonous. Politics is not like the fiction of some friends getting together and deciding what movie to see. It’s about force and coercion. This is the myth of democracy, which amounts to a somewhat gentler version of mob rule.

Politics is about getting control of the reins of the State. It’s a question of one group of people getting to tell every other group what they must and must not do. And how much they have to pay for the privilege.

It’s astonishing politics has become so popular—considering that only the worst kind of people are drawn to it. As evidence, I’d offer the current slate of Democratic presidential candidates. Although, I promise you, their Republican counterparts, waiting in the wings, are no better. Remember that lineup of buffoons who were on stage in 2016?

In theory, the purpose of the State—which itself is congealed force—is to protect its citizens within its bailiwick from illegitimate force. That means police to protect you from force within the country, a military to protect you from outside force, and a court system to allow you to adjudicate disputes without resorting to force.

But the State has gone far, far, beyond those boundaries. In fact, it does none of those three things well today. Instead, it tries to control every other aspect of life, at the expense of its subjects.

That’s why everything has become politicized in the US. Americans have come to see the State as their parent, so they’re constantly pleading with it, like children, asking it for favors and benefits. Like children, they expect the State to magically support them.

They don’t seem to understand that the State isn’t a cornucopia. It’s the opposite. It’s a dangerous parasite. A huge tapeworm in the body of society.

Over the last 100 years the average American’s mind has been captured by the idea of politics and the State. It’s the Stockholm syndrome—where people are captured by kidnappers and actually grow to love and support them—writ large.

Where's this trend going to go?

I'm a believer that trends in motion tend to stay in motion until they reach a crisis. Only then can the trend change. So the growth of the State—which is abetted by the politicization of American society—is going to continue growing until we reach a crisis. I don't know what will happen during that crisis. Will it change direction, or will it mutate into something even worse? Could it be as bad as what happened in France in 1789, Russia in 1917, Germany in 1933, or China in 1946? It's unpredictable.

International Man: Where do you think this shift in seeing everything through a political lens comes from?

Doug Casey: The State has expanded hugely from its original function of protecting people from actual force. It's now perceived as a cornucopia that can give everybody everything.

For instance, it’s completely taken over the education system—and the public applauds that, because they think it’s “free” and “fair.” Most teachers today—almost all college professors—are cultural Marxists, leftists, socialists, welfare statists, and the like. And they indoctrinate the students in their classes.

There was always a tendency for this to be the case, because academics naturally tend to live in a bubble. They resent the fact that although they’re well educated, they generally earn far less than businessmen. That resentment is evident in their political and economic views.

Even as recently as the ‘60s relatively few kids went to college. Now practically everybody goes to college. Not only is the indoctrination now far more virulent, but far more people are being exposed to it.

You can see this in the Democratic Party, where the two dozen or so people running for president vie with each other to promise more free stuff than the last person. They're coming up with the most collectivist possible ideas. The millennials—who've been indoctrinated in college, high school, and even grade school—accept these ideas. Kids will have a much bigger effect on the 2020 elections than they did in 2016.

Not only don't I see any change in the trend—I only see an acceleration of the current trend from every point of view.

International Man: A big part of this trend involves the politicization of Big Tech companies like Google and Facebook.

When people engage in discourse that is at odds with mainstream ideas on these platforms—not just in politics but in health, nutrition, economics… everything—there seems to be a concerned effort to silence it.

How did these powerful platforms become guardians of the mainstream and leftist propaganda?

Doug Casey: It seems the main way people communicate with each other today is through platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like. And these platforms—as huge as they are—are indirectly controlled by elements of the government.

People on these platforms who believe in ideas at odds with what "everybody" believes are apparently being de-platformed in large numbers.

I personally know people who’ve had a presence on Facebook or YouTube, and have been kicked off it. Because of what they believe or say. That makes it very hard for them to communicate with their previous audiences.

Now on the one hand, Facebook, YouTube, and others have a perfect right to kick anybody off their platforms because they're privately owned. On the other hand, these companies are indirect arms of the government. Or, more precisely, the Deep State.

The CIA, the NSA, the FBI and the other praetorian agencies all have black budgets. Part of it is money from Congress that’s siphoned into corporations run by sympathetic individuals and cronies. It's augmented by activities like running drugs, weapons, and God knows what else. This is rather famous in the case of the CIA. But there are probably two dozen government agencies that have black budgets, hidden by the veil of “national security.” They’re governments within the government, secret and untouchable.

I have little doubt that people from these praetorian agencies invested in and supported outfits like Google, Facebook, and Amazon from the very beginning. And influence them today.

It used to be in the ‘60s and ‘70s, that computer guys were libertarian oriented. Remember when the guys at Google used to have a sense of humor, and their motto was “Don't be evil”? Most people have forgotten that was actually their official motto. They now have a lot of power, and power corrupts.

International Man: With these Big Tech companies it seems to go beyond politics. They’re now policing people who have alternative views on health and medicine.

For example, recently, Facebook targeted the global exercise brand CrossFit. The group, which had about 1.6 million users on Facebook, was de-listed without warning because the individuals in that group were discussing a low carb, high fat diet.

This is contrary to the mainstream ideas on health and nutrition, which is of course dictated by large government agencies like the USDA. Is this further proof that companies like Facebook have become extensions of the government?

Doug Casey: It really is. Busybodies are naturally drawn to organizations where they can impose their views on others.

Like most government departments, the USDA should be abolished. It has over 100,000 employees and it doesn't produce a single bushel of wheat, or a single cow. On the contrary, it makes farmers lives miserable. Any useful functions it has would be easily provided by entrepreneurs in the market.

In the area of food recommendations, the USDA’s food pyramid puts grains at the foundation. However, since modern humans came into being probably about 200,000 years ago, humans have primarily lived on the meat, vegetables, roots, and nuts. Our ancestors didn't live on grains for 95% of human history, and humans aren’t bred to do so. Grains are fine for maintaining large masses of people cheaply, but they're not optimal for individual health. Especially not once they’re highly refined and processed.

Who knows what's going on in this bureaucracy’s hive mind? But it shouldn't make any difference to us, because nobody should be getting health advice or medical advice from a government bureaucracy.

Related to that, I thought it was interesting that the founder of CrossFit is a self-described libertarian.

Could that have anything to do with the fact that his group was de-platformed?  I don't know. But if you're off Facebook and you can't use Google, it makes it much harder to communicate with people. Right now these companies have an immense amount of power.

However, I’m not overly concerned.

Why not? I think, barring State intervention, the market will to solve the problem. I'm certainly not looking for the government to intervene. If anything, by making more laws the government will only cause more distortions making the situation worse directly and indirectly.

Hopefully, Facebook will annoy enough people that millions, then tens, then hundreds of millions will just cancel their accounts. That will drain power from them. And perhaps a hundred other Facebook or YouTube lookalikes will grow up and decentralize the market. Various innovations using blockchain technology will accelerate the process. Instead of having a few giant platforms, maybe there'll be hundreds of platforms, with many different characteristics.

Facebook and most all of the other major tech corporations are tremendous short sale opportunities. Not only are they in an enormous market bubble today. But people are starting to actively distrust and dislike them. They’re like any other large organization - once they get to a certain size they inevitably become corrupt, concrete-bound, unmanageable, and counterproductive.

I’d look at pair trades - short things like Facebook, and long equal amounts of smaller companies and startups looking to dethrone them.

*  *  *

The politicization of everything is spreading like a wildfire across all parts of life. It’s contributing to a growing wave of misguided socialist ideas. All signs point to this trend accelerating until it reaches a crisis... one unlike anything we've seen before. That's exactly why Doug Casey and his team just released this urgent video. Click here to watch it now.

Published:7/20/2019 7:04:17 PM
[Markets] El Chapo Arrives At Supermax Prison After 'Disappearing' For Two Days

Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, has arrived at the federal supermax prison in Florence, Colorado to serve out a sentence of life plus 30 years handed down on Wednesday. He was also ordered to pay $12.6 billion in restitution. 

(2017) El Chapo lands in New York after his extradition from Mexico

For two days, the 62-year-old Guzmán's whereabouts remained unknown - even to his lawyers, after federal authorities removed him from the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in lower Manhattan - described by the drug kingpin as "total torture" due to a lack of 'fresh air, clean water and sunlight.' 

Late Friday afternoon, however, the Bureau of Prisons confirmed that he had been transferred to the Colorado prison (ADX), where he will live in a 7' x 12' concrete cell with a television (for good behavior) and a 4-inch window to the world for 23 hours per day, according to the New York Times

Illustration by RicHard-59 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

"It’s Supermax. He’s pretty much going to be in a box most of the time," said one of Guzman's attorneys, Mariel Colon Miro, adding that he will be allowed to go outside for one hour a day as long as it's not raining. 

Other famous inmates at ADX include Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the "Shoe Bomber" Richared Reid, Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols, and Robert P. Hanssen - an FBI agent who spent 22 years spying for Russia in "possibly the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history."  

Guzmán, who escaped twice from Mexican prisons, is unlikely to find his way out of ADX. 

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted by soldiers during a presentation in Mexico City, Jan. 8, 2016. On Jan. 19, 2017, Mexican government officials announced that El Chapo would be extradited to the United States.Tomas Bravo / Reuters

US Authorities had sought Guzmán's extradition for at least two years before Mexican authorities delivered him to US authorities on charges of importing over 200 metric tons of cocaine into the United States, along with methamphetamines, heroin and marijuana. 

Published:7/20/2019 2:02:13 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] Guy Behind 'Storm Area 51' Page Worried About Visit From FBI

A plan to 'Storm Area 51' in search of aliens on September 20th started out on Facebook as "kind of a joke" which spiraled out of control, according to the guy who created the event.

"I posted it on like June 27th and it was kind of a joke," Matty Roberts told Nevada's KLAS-TV. "And then it waited for like three days and like 40 people, and then it just completely took off, out of nowhere. It’s pretty wild."

Now, over 1.7 million people have signed up for the Facebook event, with another 1.3 million people having expressed interest in the event.

Roberts, who had initially communicated with NPR anonymously via Facebook messenger, says he was worried that the FBI would show up at his house.

Roberts says he came up with the idea after Joe Rogan interviewed Area 51 whistleblower Bob Lazar and filmmaker Jeremy Corbell. During the interview, Lazar claims to have been involved in all types of alien matters while working at a branch of Area 51 known as "S4," where he was tasked with reverse-engineering the propulsion system on one of nine flying saucers kept on the base.

Lazar said this of the inside of a UFO: "It’s a very ominous feeling because everything is one color. It’s like a dark pewter color. There are no right angles anywhere. It’s as if somebody took a model and fashioned it out of wax and then heated it just for a short time so everything melted. Everything looks like it’s fused together. Everything has a radius, a curvature where two items meet. It’s a really weird looking thing. There was almost nothing, other than a small foldable hatchway, that looked recognizable. Everything was really unworldly."

Needless to say, the "Storm Area 51" event has attracted a ton of attention.

The event — a tongue-in-cheek attempt to find aliens hidden by the government — has taken on a life of its own in the internet zeitgeist, receiving nods from celebrities and brands while also turning into its own meme on the short-form video app TikTok.

Celebrity chef Guy Fieri jokingly offered to cater the event with radioactive ribs. Bud Light created an Area 51-themed beer can. And MoonPie naturally got in on the fun. -NBC News

Rapper Lil Nas X even came out with a special alien-themed video for his hit, "Old Town Road."

Roberts says that while he doubts the group will form an actual army to make a run at Area 51 this September, he's met "some pretty great people" along the way who are planning a safer event, per CNN.

The Air Force, meanwhile, has issued a warning that is not a joke - warning that "any attempt to illegally access the area is highly discouraged."

Published:7/19/2019 9:54:15 AM
[Markets] Viral 'FaceApp' Aging App Gives Russia-Based Firm "Perpetual, Irrevocable" Rights To Personal Content

FaceApp, the popular application that has become a viral trend for showing what people would look like after they age 30 years, isn't well known to be a Russia-based piece of software. Its even lesser known that the terms and conditions of the app grant it ‘perpetual, irrevocable’ rights to your content, according to a new report from Fox 29

The app has skyrocketed in popularity over the last couple of weeks because it allows users to digitally alter their age. Many celebrities have even joined in and posted photographs of what their elder selves may look like. More than 1 million users have downloaded the app from Google and it is now the number one app in the Apple store.

But, what most users don't know, is that the terms and conditions of the software "allow it to access to use, modify, adapt and publish any images that a user offers up in exchange for its free artificial intelligence service."



This prompted Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer to play the "Russia, Russia, Russia" card, sending a letter to the FBI and FTC requesting them to conduct an investigation into the app. He wrote that the app "could pose national security and privacy risks for millions of U.S. citizens." Schumer's main concerns were:

In order to operate the application, users must provide the company full and irrevocable access to their personal photos and data. According to its privacy policy, users grant FaceApp license to use or publish content shared with the application, including their username or even their real name, without notifying them or providing compensation.

Furthermore, it is unclear how long FaceApp retains a user’s data or how a user may ensure their data is deleted after usage. These forms of “dark patterns,” which manifest in opaque disclosures and broader user authorizations, can be misleading to consumers and may even constitute a deceptive trade practices. Thus, I have serious concerns regarding both the protection of the data that is being aggregated as well as whether users are aware of who may have access to it.

In particular, FaceApp’s location in Russia raises questions regarding how and when the company provides access to the data of U.S. citizens to third parties, including potentially foreign governments.

A similar ‘Reds-under-the-bed’ alarm was sounded by Bob Lord, a former Yahoo! executive and current chief security officer for the Democratic National Convention (DNC), who told Democratic campaign staff not to use the app, because it “was developed by Russians.”

And small business lawyer Elizabeth Potts Weinstein also warned about the app's terms, stating “if you use #FaceApp you are giving them a license to use your photos, your name, your username and your likeness for any purpose including commercial purposes (like on a billboard or internet ad).” 

The app's terms read:

“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate... distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content.”

Former marketing manager for Google and security expert Ariel Hochstadt said:

 “Hackers many time[s] are able to record the websites that people visit, and the activities they perform in those websites, but they don't always know who are those users. Imagine now they used the phone's camera to secretly record a young gay person, that visits gay sites, but didn't yet go public with that, and they connect his face with the websites he is using.” 

He continued:

 “They also know who this image is, with the huge DB they created of Facebook accounts and faces, and the data they have on that person is both private and accurate to the name, city and other details found on Facebook. With so many breaches, they can get information and hack cameras that are out there, and be able to create a database of people all over the world, with information these people didn't imagine is collected on them.”

The app was been around since 2017, when it was created by Wireless Lab in St. Petersburg, Russia. In case you wondered, IT experts are yet to catch FaceApp doing anything nefarious, or at least more nefarious than what other apps out there do. The company has provided assurance that it doesn’t get access to all camera photos, contrary to what some people have claimed, and that the servers used for its AI magic are owned by Amazon and Google.

Published:7/18/2019 5:52:59 PM
[Politics] Andrew McCabe: Lawmakers Have Ways to Get Mueller Talking Former special counsel Robert Mueller won't likely go beyond his own report when he testifies before Congress later this month, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said Thursday, but there are ways for lawmakers to get information out of him.  Published:7/18/2019 3:19:50 PM
[Asia] How US national security agencies hold the internet hostage Team Telecom, a shadowy US national security unit tasked with protecting America’s telecommunications systems, is delaying plans by Google, Facebook and other tech companies for the next generation of international fiber optic cables. Team Telecom is comprised of representatives from the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice (including the FBI), who assess foreign investments […] Published:7/18/2019 1:19:32 PM
[Markets] Circus Mueller Is Delayed

Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

The circus will be coming to town a week later, but not to worry, the show will go on longer and there will be many added attractions, including a full troop of 800-pound gorillas and an entire herd of 8000-pound elephants in the room. And once the balancing acts, the clowns and the ferocious beasts pack up and move on, America might find itself without a Democratic Party, or at least one it would recognize.

The circus is the testimony of Robert Mueller before the House Judiciary (extended to 3 hours) and Intelligence Committees (2 hours). The Democrats will aim to use Mueller’s words to finally achieve their long desired impeachment of Donald Trump. But is there anyone who’s not a US Democrat who thinks that is realistic? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t seem to think so.

In order for the Dems to get their wish, Mueller would have to say a lot of things that are not in his report. It all appears to hang on the interpretation of his assessment that a sitting president cannot be prosecuted, which the Dems take to mean that there actually was a crime that could -or should- be prosecuted.

It’s not clear why the hearing was delayed from July 17 to 24, but don’t be surprised if it has to do with US District Judge Dabney Friedrich’s decision that Mueller must stop talking in public about a case that is in front of her, because his words might prejudice a jury. That is the case that Mueller brought in February 2018 against Internet Research Agency, Concord Management, their owner Yevgeniy Prigozhin (aka Putin’s cook), and 12 of his employees.

Mueller thought he could get away with presenting a case against them because they would not show up, but Prigozhin did hire a major law firm. Ironically, Friedrich has reportedly also decided that the lawyers cannot talk about the case to their own client(s). She hasn’t thrown out the case or anything, she’s simply told everyone including Mueller to stop discussing it in public.

So it’s quite possible that once the House Democrats figured this out (the decision stems from May 28 but was unsealed only on July 1), they had to change strategy. Mueller has been barred from saying a single word about it, including in the House.

In his report, Mueller tried to establish a link between the Russian firms and the Kremlin, but never proved any such link. They are accused of meddling in the 2016 election through emails and social media posts, an accusation that looks shakier by the day.

With that part of his report out of the way, what is left for him to talk about? He himself already gave up on the whole collusion narrative, which would appear to leave only obstruction. Well, there’s the Steele dossier, but with John Solomon blowing another gaping hole in ityesterday, that may not be the wisest topic to discuss on the House floor. By now, only the very faithful still believe in the dossier.

The Republicans surely don’t, and they also happen to be House members, and get to ask questions of Mueller on the 24th. The spectacle last night where Nancy Pelosi insisted on calling Trump a racist was nutty (you don’t do that in the House), but the Mueller hearings promise to be much much more nuts still.

In the background a second investigation is playing out: DOJ IG Michael Horowitz has been probing if DOJ or FBI officials abused their powers to spy on the Trump campaign. His report has been delayed, if reports are correct, because Christopher Steele at the very last minute agreed to testify. Those talks apparently were long and detailed. Wonder what he had to say.

And there’s a third probe too: AG Barr has tasked John Durham, the US attorney for Connecticut, to follow up on the Horowitz report and look at whether officials at the CIA, the NSA, and/or foreign intelligence agencies (think MI6), violated protocols or statutes.

That case is about whether the FISA court was misled to secure a warrant to put Trump campaign aide Carter Page under surveillance. It can also take a new look at the text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, messages that Trump tweeted about on Saturday: “This is one of the most horrible abuses of all. Those texts between gaga lovers would have told the whole story. Illegal deletion by Mueller. They gave us “the insurance policy.”

The deletion reportedly may have been accidental. But it does set the tone. The door is wide open for the Republicans to go after Mueller. And he knows it, always has. He never wanted the hearings, he said it was all in his report. But the Dems wanted more, they want Mueller to say Trump is guilty of obstruction (of a probe that perhaps should never have taken place).

Personally, I wonder whether a Republican congressman/woman will have the guts to ask Mueller why he refused to talk to Julian Assange, the most obvious person for him to talk to in the whole wide world. But since the GOP hates Assange as much as the Dems, I don’t have high hopes of that happening.

What they certainly will ask is when he knew his probe wasn’t going anywhere. And if that was perhaps as much as a whole year before he presented his report. The Dems will tear into Mueller looking for obstruction. Like: if Trump were not the president, would you sue him? Problem with that is none of this would have happened if Trump were just a citizen.

But I lean towards Ray McGovern’s take, who says that the circus may not come to town on July 24 either. Because there’s no there there (something Peter Strzok himself said about the Steele dossier), and because the Dems know this is their last shot at glory. And the GOP doesn’t mind another week or so of preparation.

Since the Democrats, the media, and Mueller himself all have strong incentive to “make the worst case appear the better” (one of the twin charges against Socrates), they need time to regroup and circle the wagons. The more so, since Mueller’s other twin charge — Russian hacking of the DNC — also has been shown, in a separate Court case, to be bereft of credible evidence. No, the incomplete, redacted, second-hand “forensics” draft that former FBI Director James Comey decided to settle for from the Democratic National Committee-hired CrowdStrike firm does not qualify as credible evidence.


Both new developments are likely to pose a strong challenge to Mueller. On the forensics, Mueller decided to settle for what his former colleague Comey decided to settle for from CrowdStrike, which was hired by the DNC despite it’s deeply flawed reputation and well known bias against Russia. In fact, the new facts — emerging, oddly, from the U.S. District Court, pose such a fundamental challenge to Mueller’s findings that no one should be surprised if Mueller’s testimony is postponed again.

And I was serious when I said before that once the Mueller hearings are done, “America might find itself without a Democratic Party, or at least one it would recognize”. Because if and when the Mueller circus fails to provide the impeachment dream (try elections!), where are they going to go, what else is there to do?

They’ve been clamoring for impeachment for collusion (big fail), for obstruction (Mueller wouldn’t have it) and now racism, but that is merely based on interpretation of tweets. Nancy Pelosi wrote about ‘women of color’, not Donald Trump.

America needs a strong Democratic party, and it certainly doesn’t have one right now. The Dems should be calling for an end to regime change wars, that is a popular theme among their voters. But they don’t, because guess where their money comes from. They are in a very deep identity crisis, and Trump just has to pick them off one by one. They should look at themselves, not at him. Do these people ever do strategy?

*  *  *

Support The Automatic Earth on Patreon.

Published:7/18/2019 8:47:45 AM
[Apps] FaceApp gets federal attention as Sen. Schumer raises alarm on data use It's been hard to get away from FaceApp over the last few days, whether it's your friends posting weird selfies using the app's aging and other filters, or the brief furore over its apparent (but not actual) circumvention of permissions on iPhones. Now even the Senate is getting in on the fun: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has asked the FBI and the FTC to look into the app's data handling practices. Published:7/17/2019 7:48:27 PM
[Markets] The New York Post: Schumer asks FBI to investigate FaceApp’s potential Kremlin ties Sen. Chuck Schumer on Wednesday asked the director of the FBI to probe whether data shared on the popular FaceApp software is ending up in the hands of the Russian government or third-party companies with ties to the Kremlin.
Published:7/17/2019 7:48:27 PM
[In The News] Details Emerge Of Mystery FBI Spreadsheet That Kept Track Of Steele Dossier

By Chuck Ross -

FBI coat of arms

FBI investigators maintained a spreadsheet that kept track of individuals allegations made in the infamous Steele dossier. According to a new report, the spreadsheet noted that many of the allegations were either inaccurate or unverified. Former Rep. Trey Gowdy has previously alluded to the spreadsheet, saying that it showed that ...

Details Emerge Of Mystery FBI Spreadsheet That Kept Track Of Steele Dossier 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:7/17/2019 2:19:12 PM
[Markets] Three Iranians Caught Smuggling "Many Tons" Of Nuke-Related Material Out Of US

A major case involving three Iranian citizens who for years allegedly smuggled nuclear related materials into Iran from a US broker has been revealed this week in a New York federal court. 

The scheme involved illegally exporting "many tons" of carbon fiber out of the United States between 2008 and 2013, which federal prosecutors say violated existing US sanctions and a UN embargo, given the direct military and nuclear use capability of the substance. 

Despite the material being under UN embargo, Iran began its own carbon fiber production line as early as 2011. Image source: AP/ISNA

One of the three accused, Behzad Pourghannad, was successfully extradited from Germany but the other two, Ali Reza Shokri and Farzin Faridmanesh, remain at large. The conspiracy involved an unidentified broker shipping the banned substance out of the US to Iran via third parties in Europe and the UAE, while paperwork was fabricated to circumvent US export laws. 

In a statement, US attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey S. Berman described that, "Carbon fiber has many aerospace and defense applications, and is strictly controlled to ensure that it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Pourghannad and his co-defendants allegedly went to great lengths to circumvent these controls and the United States' export laws. Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to protect our nation's assets and protect our national security."

And a statement published to the Department of Justice website noted, “Pourghannad is alleged to have sought to procure for Iran large amounts of carbon fiber — a commodity that can be used in the enrichment of uranium.” The DOJ and FBI further described the conspiracy as seeking to assist "Iran’s destabilizing efforts and make Americans less safe."

An FBI counterintelligence division chief added, "Iran remains determined to acquire U.S. technology with military applications, and the FBI is just as determined to stop such illegal activity," according to NBC.

The indictment doesn't reveal precisely how much carbon fiber is believed to have made it to Iran, and the American-based source of the UN embargoed material is not named, and it's further unclear if the source was consciously involved in trying to evade sanctions on Iran. The men each face multiple 20-year sentences, but it's unknown if law enforcement are close to apprehending two of the men who remain on the run. 

Iran actually successfully established its own carbon fiber production facility starting in 2011, according to reports, likely now making it less urgent to procure it abroad in places like the United States or Europe. 

Published:7/17/2019 8:15:52 AM
[Markets] Swamp(y) Things

Grant's Almost Daily, submitted by Grant's Interest Rate Observer

Get your shinebox

A friend checks in from the Long Island Expressway:

Our mobile correspondent writes:

The 21st century stock tip from the shoeshine boy is the bus wrapped in an ad touting Sharespost, where anyone can “access the new private market.”

Swamp things

A trio of corporate situations unfolding in Washington, D.C. may have important ramifications for their respective investors.

A quick update on each follows:

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims dismissed a lawsuit from Oracle Corp. asserting that the Defense Department’s $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) procurement contract was structured to unfairly favor Amazon.com, Inc.’s Web Services unit.  Judge Eric Bruggink ruled that the award has not been marred by “organizational conflicts of interest,” as alleged by Oracle, and that the litigant failed by its own admission to meet the JEDI requirements in the first place.

That decision seemingly clears the way for Amazon and Microsoft, Inc. to vie for the winner-take-all contract, one that has been beset by claims of cronyism related to three former DoD employees with close ties to AWS.

For AWS, which leveraged a $600 million CIA contract in 2013 to gain commercial deals and represents a critical part of the Amazon success story (the unit chipped in 62% of consolidated operating income in the most recent quarter), the JEDI award would be the proverbial cherry on top.  But obstacles remain, as the DoD inspector general and FBI public corruption unit continue a joint investigation of conflicts of interest claims.

Meanwhile, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter Thursday to national security advisor John Bolton criticizing the single award structure as “contrary to industry best practices, statutory preferences, and the Administration’s Cloud Smart guidelines” and asked for a delay to the award to “ensure a fair and open process.”  

Perhaps most importantly, the CIA announced in April it will shift toward a multi-cloud strategy by 2021 as opposed to continuing to exclusively rely on AWS. Of course, Amazon is fighting to protect its turf, signing a $294 million lease for its “HQ2” in Crystal City, VA, up the street from the CIA headquarters in Langley.

Next, the ongoing merger saga involving Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile U.S., Inc.  The corporate suitors continue to negotiate the spin-off of wireless assets to Dish Network Corp. in their efforts to secure approval from the Department of Justice (which is forthcoming “any day,” according to Bloomberg). On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the negotiations are “dragging” and will likely extend beyond the July 29 deadline. Hang-ups include: potential restrictions on Dish flipping the spectrum assets acquired by the pair and limitations on data traffic that Dish can send through the T-Mobile network, per The Journal.

While negotiations continue apace, a coalition of more than a dozen state attorneys general who are suing to halt the merger prepare their next move. On Friday, the Capitol Forum reported that the DoJ delay will allow the group of 14 attorneys general to potentially “request that the Oct. 7 start of the trial be delayed.” Hopes for a timely deal consummation following DoJ approval are up in the air: “If it’s up to the states, a decision in the federal case wouldn’t come for some time.”

Finally, the price-gouging saga involving TransDigm Group, Inc. continues to develop. In February, an audit from the DoD inspector general found that the company charged “excess profits” on 46 out of 47 selected spare parts, including markups of as high as 4,451%.

The company agreed to pay back the $16.1 million in “excess profits” identified in the report, but that hasn’t prevented bipartisan pushback against the TDG business model. On June 14, senior officials at the DoD issued a memo directing staff to “require the submission of uncertified cost or pricing data to support prices proposed by TransDigm and its subsidiaries.”  

On Friday, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) wrote a letter lamenting the DoD’s inability to ascertain pricing information from its contractors and suggesting new amendments those loopholes, while Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), who has proposed similar legislation, commented in June: “It’s more than evident that TransDigm can’t be trusted, so singling them out is warranted.”

As noted by the Federal News Network, current law allows vendors to refuse to provide price data for individual transactions below $2 million, a statute of which TDG was all too aware. According to a report from the House Oversight Committee, TransDigm “coached” employees to maintain prices below that threshold and avoid providing cost documentation whenever possible. Fat markups appear to be a crucial feature for TransDigm, which has long pursued a roll-up business model and which carries net debt in excess of six times consensus 2019 Ebitda.

Published:7/16/2019 11:39:16 AM
[US News] James Comey aims for Trump, gets DRAGGED by blue-check LIBS instead

Former FBI Director James Comey thinks America “is so much better than” President Trump and “next year we have a chance to prove it”: This country is so much better than this president. And next year we have a chance to prove it. — James Comey (@Comey) July 15, 2019 And then he got dragged […]

The post James Comey aims for Trump, gets DRAGGED by blue-check LIBS instead appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:7/16/2019 7:06:53 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
[Markets] FBI To Ramp Up Social Media Surveillance

The FBI plans to step up its efforts to gather information from social media - issuing a call last week for a new tool to monitor Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms "in a timely fashion."

Citing the use of social media by terrorist groups, domestic threats, criminal organizations and foreign intelligence services, the FBI "needs near real time access to a full range of social media exchanges in order to obtain the most current information available," according to the request for proposal

In addition to information such as user IDs, the feds are interested in "emails, IP addresses, telephone numbers, and likely aliases" used over social media. The tool would also allow for location-based trackingpersistent keyword monitoring, and access to one's personal social media history

The FBI has justified the tool by claiming it is in response "to an increasing number of threats to U.S. national interests that are identifiable, with ever-greater frequency, through social media platforms."

It is an acknowledged fact that virtually every incident and subject of FBI investigative interest has a presence online. Consequently, law enforcement gaining lawful access (i.e., access that is authorized, appropriate, and consistent with applicable law and policy) to this data will result in early detection and/or containment of the magnitude of any harm caused by these threats.

To protect US citizens, a method employed by the FBI is the acquisition of subscriptions granting access to tools. These allow for the exploitation of lawfully collected/acquired from social media platforms and stored, vetted and formatted by a vendor. The missioncritical exploitation of social media enables the Bureau to proactively detect, disrupt, and investigate an ever growing diverse range of threats. More specifically, the Bureau provides real-time situational awareness of indicators and warnings of emerging social media incidents. -FBI

Can't they just ask the NSA?

Published:7/15/2019 6:03:12 PM
[National Security] Peter Thiel Calls on CIA, FBI to Investigate Google’s China Ties

President Donald Trump’s top supporter in Silicon Valley said Sunday the United States needs to investigate Google’s “seemingly treasonous” work with the Chinese military.

The post Peter Thiel Calls on CIA, FBI to Investigate Google’s China Ties appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/15/2019 1:34:53 PM
[Markets] Epstein Safe Had 'Piles Of Cash', Diamonds And Expired Passport Claiming Saudi Residency

FBI agents who cracked open a safe in Jeffrey Epstein's Manhattan mansion discovered "piles of cash," dozens of diamonds and an expired passport from the 1980s that listed his residence as Saudi Arabia, according to the Daily Beast - which notes that it is unclear whether this is the same safe that contained nude or semi-nude photographs believed to be of underage girls. 

It's also a different safe than the one allegedly in an 'off-limits' room on his private island in the Caribbean. 

Federal prosecutors revealed the findings during a Monday bail hearing, for which US District Judge Richard Berman said he would announce a ruling on Thursday. Some of Epstein's accusers were present during the courtroom session to oppose his request for release on house arrest pending trial for sex-trafficking underage girls. Both federal prosecutors and a federal probation office have recommended against letting Epstein out on bail, suggesting that he is a flight risk who should remain detained. 

Monday’s hearing follows a flurry of filings in which Epstein’s defense team and federal prosecutors dueled over whether the filthy-rich money manager would go on the lam if he was released.

The government argued that Epstein’s international connections and wealth—estimated at more than $500 million in a court document—meant it would be easy for him to get beyond the arm of the law.

Even if he didn’t turn fugitive, prosecutors argued, Epstein has a history of witness-tampering, including wiring $350,000 late last year to two alleged accomplices after the Miami Herald published its expose on his Florida plea deal. -Daily Beast

Epstein's attorneys have offered up a bail package which would allow the registered sex-offender and self-admitted pedophile to hang out at his palacial 21,000 sqft, $77 million 1930s Manhattan mansion while wearing a GPS monitoring device. He would also install surveillance cameras inside and out and deregister his cars and aircraft if released on bail "in an amount set by the court after reviewing additional information regarding Mr. Epstein's finances," according to the Daily Mail

Prosecutors say Epstein's mansion "provides no value whatsoeveras collateral, "because the defendant would thus be likely to lose that property following a conviction." 

The government similarly noted that Epstein's offer to put his Gulfstream jet up for collateral is bogus, as the financier "recently sold a second plane and thus presumably has cash on hand to replace the posted aircraft without difficulty if need be." 

The wealthy financier's lawyers have also argued that he's protected under the terms of a 2008 immunity deal, writing "In essence, the government seeks to remand a self-made New York native and lifelong American resident based on dated allegations for which he was already convicted and punished – conduct the relitigation of which is barred by a prior federal nonprosecution agreement." 

More than a decade ago, authorities in Florida investigated Epstein for the very same thing, but U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta signed off on a sweetheart deal that allowed him to plead guilty to a state prostitution charge. He served 13 months of an 18-month-sentence in jail, while being allowed to leave for several hours during the day on work release.

The Miami Herald investigation of that plea deal, along with lawsuits by accusers, helped amp up the pressure on Epstein, and the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan launched a new probe, which culminated in an indictment and arrest warrant earlier this month. -Daily Beast

Meanwhile, prosecutors have left the door open to a superseding indictment which could contain more charges - or add alleged accomplices as co-defendants, according to the Beast

Although the indictment details alleged crimes against just three girls between 2002 and 2005, other accusers have come forward since Epstein’s arrest—in New York and New Mexico, where he owns a spread of land called the Zorro Ranch.

Epstein also owns a private island in the Caribbean and a lavish estate in Palm Beach, a fleet of cars and a private jet that has hosted former President Bill Clinton, actor Kevin SpaceyPrince Andrew, and lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

Two of Epstein’s accusers have said in court papers that Dershowitz was aware of and even took part in the sex with minors—which he has vigorously denied. Clinton put out a statement last week distancing himself from Epstein, but failed to mention at least one dinner they attended. -Daily Beast

Epstein's 2008 'sweetheart' deal has already claimed one casualty - former Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who was forced to step down last week following national outrage over his actions in the case. 

 

Published:7/15/2019 10:31:26 AM
[Markets] Peter Thiel Slams "Treasonous" Google For Choosing China Over US Military 

During a talk Sunday at the National Conservatism conference in Washington, Peter Thiel, perhaps the most visible tech entrepreneur to back President Donald Trump, earning the eternal enmity of his fellow Silicon Valley denizens (and necessitating a move to LA), had some harsh words for his one-time friends.

The billionaire investor singled out Google for agreeing to work closely with China, trying to get its search engine back into the Chinese market, while deciding to let a US defense department contract that gave the military access to its artificial intelligence tools lapse.

These actions by Google, Thiel suggested, were "seemingly treasonous," he said during the opening of his speech. Even going so far as to question whether Google parent Alphabet's AI research program had been "infiltrated" by foreign intelligence.

He asked whether Google parent Alphabet Inc.’s AI research program or senior management had been “infiltrated” by foreign intelligence agencies. "These questions need to be asked by the FBI and the CIA," Thiel said, "And I’d like them to be asked in a not excessively gentle manner."

This wouldn't be the first time suspicions of treasonous activity have dogged American tech companies. Who could forget CFUS's recent decision to force a Chinese company to sell its entire ownership in Grindr for security reeasows.

On a more positive note, Thiel praised Trump on Sunday for his efforts to win a trade deal with China, which he termed a "signature achievement" of the administration, along with the detente with North Korea.

By the standards of the event, Thiel was more mild than many of the tech bashers in attendance - unsurprisingly, Thiel doesn't support the breakup of big tech companies, given that he still sits on Facebook's board.

Instead, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican who’s proposed reforming Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which frees tech companies from responsibility for any content posted on their sites.

"I think Facebook and Google are a good examples of what is it we’re talking about," Hazony said in an interview on Sunday. "These are spectacularly impressive entrepreneurs, but you need to ask the question if Americans are better off with [Google and Facebook] single-handedly determining what should be censored?"

The event wasn't focused on tech, but coming so soon after President Trump's social media summit, it's hardly surprising that the abuse of social media would factor heavily.

Published:7/15/2019 7:06:42 AM
[Markets] Fired UK Ambassador Who Trash-Talked Trump Also Vouched For Christopher Steele

Britain's recently resigned ambassador to the US vouched for the credibility of Christopher Steele - the former MI6 spy who cobbled together a Russian-sourced dossier full of fabrications about Donald Trump. 

Photo via the Daily Mail

Sir Kim Darroch, who resigned after confidential memos were leaked in which he slammed President Trump and his administration, told a US official that Steele was "absolutely" legit, according to the Sunday Telegraph

Today The Sunday Telegraph can also disclose that Sir Kim is said to have vouched for the credibility of Christopher Steele, the author of an explosive dossier of claims about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, in conversation with at least one US official. Asked whether Mr Steele, a former MI6 officer, was "legit", Sir Kim replied: "Absolutely". His comments later appeared in the New Yorker magazine. -Sunday Telegraph

Of note, the suspected leaker has reportedly been identifiedand a foreign state has been ruled out as the culprit. 

Steele was commissioned by Fusion GPS to produce the infamous dossier ultimately paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC during the 2016 US election. It was later used to secure a FISA spy warrant on one-time Trump campaign aide Carter Page, and later used to smear the president in the court of public opinion. 

Interestingly, a top official with the US Justice Department warned the FBI that Steele's research was inaccurate and was likely biased due to its origins as an opposition research document. As we noted in May, ten days before the FBI used the now-discredited dossier to apply for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page, Steele met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec, who took handwritten notes of the encounter.

Steele told Kavalec that Russia had a "technical/human operation run out of Moscow targeting the election," which recruited US emigres to "do hacking and recruiting. Steele added that "Payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian consulate in Miami." 

Except that's a lie - as Kavalec debunked the assertion in a bracketed comment: "It is important to note that there is no Russian consulate in Miami."

Steele had also been flagged flagged for admitting that his research was political and facing an Election Day deadline, as his client was "keen to see this information come to light prior to November 8."

Notes and testimony from senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr make clear Steele admitted early on that he was “desperate” to get Trump defeated in the election, was working in some capacity for the GOP candidate’s opponent, and considered his intelligence raw and untested. Ohr testified that he alerted FBI and other senior Justice officials to these concerns in August 2016. -The Hill

 Steele left his MI6 career to found his own company, Orbis Business Intelligence, with another former spy according to the Daily Mail

Published:7/14/2019 9:27:38 PM
[Politics] Lindsey Graham promises a DEEP dive after IG releases report on Russia probe – [VIDEO] Lindsey Graham says that after the IG releases their report on the Russia Probe, he’s going to do a very deep dive into the FBI to explain exactly why Hillary was treated . . . Published:7/14/2019 3:27:40 PM
[Politics] Lindsey Graham promises a DEEP dive after IG releases report on Russia probe – [VIDEO] Lindsey Graham says that after the IG releases their report on the Russia Probe, he’s going to do a very deep dive into the FBI to explain exactly why Hillary was treated . . . Published:7/14/2019 3:27:40 PM
[Markets] British Schoolteachers Want Price-Controls For Vacation Packages

Authored by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com,

Here’s our weekly roll-up of the most absurd and concerning articles we came across this week from both sides of the Atlantic.

8th grader gets 3-week suspension for picture of airsoft gun

Airsoft guns are toy guns which shoot little plastic BBs.

As long as kids are wearing safety glasses, these guns pose no actual threat of injury. And their painted red plastic tips make it obvious they are toy guns.

They are perfectly legal. So a 14-year-old boy thought nothing of goofing around with his friends, and posting a Snapchat picture which included airsoft guns.

But someone at his school saw the photo and reported it… and school administrators suspended him for the final three weeks of the school year.

The picture was not taken on school property, or during school hours. The school was not mentioned, and there was nothing in the Snaps that could have been construed as a threat.

But apparently someone at the school felt uncomfortable with the picture, and the school decided it had to respond with punishment.

So now perfectly normal behavior outside of school can get you in trouble with the meddling educators.

Click here for the full story.

British Officials consider price controls for vacation

Vacation prices are too high!

And as usual, British parents, politicians, and Teachers Unions think the problem is those greedy corporations.

So they have called on regulators to force vacation providers to lower their prices during school breaks.

They say it is unfair that vacation prices are higher during the summer while everyone is out of school. One sympathetic politician said, “It’s not right that children’s education is being used to exploit hard-working parents in this way.”

Of course, as a spokesman for the travel industry points out, this is simple supply and demand… a lot more people want to take their families on vacation while the kids are out of school.

They suggested staggering school breaks so that demand doesn’t spike so much at one time.

And it doesn’t help that parents can be fined up to £120 if their kids miss class for a vacation while school is in session.

Last year the Department of Education collected £10 million of fines for unexcused absences.

Who are the greedy ones?

Click here for the full story.

FBI and ICE are using state license-photo databases for facial recognition

Every month the FBI conducts about 4,000 facial recognition searches.

In America, your data is supposed to be private, only accessible to law enforcement if they have probable cause to think you have committed a crime.

So you might be surprised to find out that the databases used in these facial recognition checks are full of innocent Americans.

The FBI and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been accessing state Department of Motor Vehicle databases for years, to check a suspect’s photo against countless innocent citizens license photos.

The license holders didn’t consent. The state legislators, governors, and Congress didn’t give them permission.

Usually, all they need is a friendly email to a DMV bureaucrat, and they have access to treasure troves of biometric data.

Including the DMV and other state, local, and federal databases, the FBI has access to over 641 million face photos which they can scan using facial recognition technology.

Click here for the full story.

Amazon is liable for third party items sold on the website

Amazon sells some products directly, but it also provides a platform for other retailers to sell items.

Now an appeals court has ruled that Amazon can be held liable for the millions upon millions of products sold by third parties on its website.

They ruled that Amazon failed to properly warn customers about the dangers of defective products.

In some cases, the actual retailers could not be contacted or identified. And that left no one but Amazon to hold liable for the defective products.

When in doubt, blame the big corporation… even when they have nothing to do with it.

Click here for the full story.

UK Lawmakers scrutinize Amazon investment in food delivery company

The fun never stops for Amazon.

Obviously a huge part of their business is delivery, and Amazon has a history of investing in delivery companies.

But when Amazon bought a minority stake in British food delivery company Deliveroo, regulators pounced.

The government told Amazon to cease any plans to merge operations with the company until they have a chance to scrutinize the transaction.

Even though Amazon does not own a controlling share of the company, the regulators said it is reasonable to believe the two companies will cease to be separate entities.

And apparently that is all the excuse regulators need to intervene in a mutually beneficial and consensual transaction…

Click here for the full story.

*  *  *

And to continue learning how to ensure you thrive no matter what happens next in the world, I encourage you to download our free Perfect Plan B Guide.

Published:7/13/2019 8:17:58 AM
[Markets] Trump's Huawei Reprieve Is A National Security Debacle

Authored by Gordon Chang via The Gatestone Institute,

Tuesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross outlined the scope of exemptions to be granted to sales and licenses to Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecom giant.

At the end of last month, President Donald Trump publicly promised to give the Chinese company a reprieve from newly implemented U.S. restrictions.

Trump's move, announced after his meeting with Chinese ruler Xi Jinping at the conclusion of the Osaka G20 summit, was a strategic mistake. Moreover, it was a humiliation for the United States, almost an acknowledgment of Beijing's supremacy.

The U.S. Commerce Department, effective May 16, added Huawei, the world's largest networking equipment manufacturer and second-largest smartphone maker, to its Entity List. The designation means that no American company, without prior approval from the Bureau of Industry and Security, is allowed to sell or license to Huawei products and technology covered by the U.S. Export Administration Regulations.

Beijing then demanded the Trump administration withdraw the designation. On June 27, the Wall Street Journal reported that Huawei's removal from the Entity List was one of China's three main preconditions to a comprehensive trade deal.

Trump, incredibly, complied with the demand from Beijing. At his June 29 press conference, the American president said he was granting the reprieve.

Trump was not specific about the reprieve's scope, and since then administration officials have tried to walk back his comments. Trade advisor Peter Navarro, for instance, this month told CNN that sales to Huawei for its 5G products — 5G is the fifth generation of wireless communication — would be forbidden. Earlier, there were suggestions that waivers for smartphones would be allowed.

Should any waivers be granted? "It is their mechanism for spying," Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), referring to Huawei, told Fox News on Sunday.

She is right. Huawei is in no position to resist Beijing's demands to illicitly gather intelligence. For one thing, Beijing owns Huawei. The Shenzhen-based enterprise maintains it is "employee-owned," but that is an exaggeration. Founder Ren Zhengfei holds a 1 percent stake, and the remainder is effectively owned by the state. Moreover, in the Communist Party's top-down system, no one can resist a command from the ruling organization. Furthermore, Articles 7 and 14 of China's National Intelligence Law, enacted in 2017, requires Chinese nationals and entities to spy if relevant authorities make a demand. Ren has maintained the company would not snoop on others, but that claim, in view of the above, is not credible.

Huawei has, in fact, been implicated in stealing tech almost from the moment it was formed in 1987. The company was built on stolen Cisco Systems technology, and according to recent allegations, Huawei has never stopped stealing. The Justice Department in January unsealed an indictment against the company for the theft of intellectual property from T-Mobile. The FBI, according to a Bloomberg report, is investigating Huawei for pilfering smartphone glass technology from Akhan Semiconductor, an Illinois-based firm.

Huawei's rampant theft has been effective in injuring its competition. For instance, many consider the company's campaign to take tech was largely responsible for the 2013 failure of Nortel Networks, the Canadian company.

Additionally, Beijing has used Huawei servers to surreptitiously download datafrom others, most notably the African Union from 2012 to 2017.

Not surprisingly, Huawei is laying the groundwork for grabbing tomorrow's data.

First, Christopher Balding's study of résumés of Huawei employees reveals that some of them claim concurrent links with units of the Chinese military, in roles that look as if they involve intelligence collection. As he writes in his study, "there is an undeniable relationship between Huawei and the Chinese state, military, and intelligence gathering services."

Second, recent analyses show Huawei software to have an unusually high number of security flaws. According to Finite State, a cybersecurity firm, a scan of nearly 10,000 Huawei firmware images showed that "55% had at least one potential backdoor. These backdoor access vulnerabilities allow an attacker with knowledge of the firmware and/or with a corresponding cryptographic key to log into the device." Huawei, according to the survey, ranked the lowest among its competitors in this regard.

Theft is not the only risk. As Sen. Blackburn pointed out to Fox News, Huawei will also serve as Beijing's mechanism for controlling the networks operating the devices of tomorrow. The concern is that the Chinese government and military will be able to use Huawei equipment to remotely manipulate devices networked on the Internet of Things (IoT), no matter where those devices are located. So, China may be able to drive your car into oncoming traffic, unlock your front door, or turn off or speed up your pacemaker.

On Tuesday, Secretary Ross echoed earlier administration comments when he promised his department would only issue exemptions "where there is no threat to U.S. national security."

That sounds reassuring, but it is not possible to divide Huawei into threatening and non-threatening components. Huawei management can take profits from innocuous-looking parts of the business to support the obviously dangerous parts. Money is fungible, so the only safe course would be to prohibit all transactions with the company.

Ross on Tuesday implied that licenses would be granted for items available from other countries, saying "we will try to make sure that we don't just transfer revenue from the U.S. to foreign firms." At first glance, sales of those items appear non-objectionable, but, as the New York Times reported on Tuesday, U.S. companies seeking exemptions acknowledge that their products are often more advanced than those from Japan, South Korea, and other countries.

Therefore, the better course would be to get all American suppliers to stop all sales and licenses and to rally Tokyo, Seoul, and other capitals to do the same. That would severely disrupt Huawei, perhaps forcing it out of business or at least impeding its progress. In short, Ross is underestimating America's leverage.

As Eli Lake, writing on the Bloomberg site, points out, American policy on Huawei looks like it had "collapsed" after the bilateral meeting with Xi. Lake is right. Beijing, buoyed by the talk of the American climb-down, is now fast selling Huawei equipment around the world, which means, in the normal course of events, the Chinese will soon control the world's 5G backbone.

Think of the consequences.

"Imagine a world dominated by China," Jonathan Bass of PTM Images told Gatestone. "Close your eyes and pretend to wake up in a world controlled by Xi Jinping, militarily, economically, politically, culturally."

This is the world, thanks to Huawei, that we will soon face.

Published:7/12/2019 11:17:17 PM
[Markets] Is This Project Mayhem Or Project Epstein?

Authored by Tom Luongo,

Only Donald Trump knows...

From the moment I heard Jeffrey Epstein had been arrested I knew none of us had anything close to the real story. And, by the time this is over, I don’t think we’ll have anything close to the real story either.

That shouldn’t, however, keep us from picking through the bread crumbs and see where they lead us. I wrote previously that I thought this story would lead to Hillary Clinton. The MAGA crowd loved that.

Regardless of whether Hillary winds up being the target is irrelevant. What I wrote the other day I still feel is the most likely situation.

I was cautiously optimistic that Trump would turn the corner on his presidency now that Mueller, impeachment and the rest of it would lift from his shoulders. His foreign policy maneuvers didn’t fill me with much, if any, confirmation of this hope.

But domestically signs were there that he had stabilized the battlefield.

Epstein’s arrest tells me he’s now out for blood.

That was, frankly, my gut instinct talking when I wrote that. It fit the sequence of events and the changes we’ve seen in D.C. over the past four months since Attorney General William Barr shut down the Mueller investigation.

What was done to Trump went far beyond egregious. It went far beyond even lawlessness. It was an operation that spanned multiple governments, showed complete contempt not only for procedure but the people themselves.

It was, in short, a supremely arrogant attempted coup that expected to get away with it all because they always had in the past. It was also amatuerish as hell.

The reason I’ve never believed any of the arguments that Trump is simply a bait and switch pitch man for the Deep State is because that description defies reality.

It doesn’t pass Occam’s Razor. The people Jeffrey Epstein represents hate Trump holding power because they have nothing of substance on him. Sure he’s bribed building contractors or paid off unions to get his buildings finished. Whatever.

No one other than the squeakiest of wheels would get upset over that. Everyone accepts that to do business in a corrupt world like New York you swim with some of it because that’s simply how things are done, like it or not.

But using fourteen-year-old girls as blackmail agents and prostitutes to run guns, drugs, topple governments and steal weapons research is another level of corruption. It’s orders of magnitude worse. And to Trump’s credit it seems like he’s never dabbled in that particular thing.

Because if he had, he would never have become President and the Deep State would have never organized a coup attempt against him.

Occam’s Razor, folks. They don’t have anything of substance on him. At best they’ve got a few pictures of him at an Epstein party and then he’s gone.

Watch a few minutes of this report by George Webb and tell me this doesn’t sound exactly like what we’ve been presented as evidence that Trump is one of Epstein’s perverts.

We know Trump helped a case against Epstein in 2009. We know that Trump threw Epstein out of Mar-a-Lago for hitting on a young girl. What we don’t know is left to our imagination to reinforce our view of Trump one way or the other.

For the past six days it has been wall to wall, “Epstein is a pervert. Trump went to a few parties. Acosta, Trump’s guy, let Epstein off.”

Now Acosta resigns as Secretary of Labor.

But Epstein is most definitely an asset. The breadcrumbs are everywhere for you to find. The last thing Acosta did before resigning was letting it be known that he thought Epstein was connected to intelligence.

“Is the Epstein case going to cause a problem [for confirmation hearings]?” Acosta had been asked. Acosta had explained, breezily, apparently, that back in the day he’d had just one meeting on the Epstein case. He’d cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had “been told” to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade. “I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone,” he told his interviewers in the Trump transition, who evidently thought that was a sufficient answer and went ahead and hired Acosta. (The Labor Department had no comment when asked about this.)

And now he resigns because of the 2009 plea deal? Something doesn’t pass the sniff test here. This is the biggest revelation of the entire week.

It’s also easily inferred from simply looking at the magnitude of the crimes committed and the final deal that was signed.

The news comes at us so fast, just like in a good action movie, that sometimes we forget to step back and ask basic plot questions, like “If this guy is that connected why are we hearing about this now at all?”

“Why did the FBI kick in the door of his home?”

“Why is this even news?”

“Who ordered the judge to unseal the records from the previous case?”

Because if this is that big a cover-up – implicating everyone from the CIA, to the State Dept. and Dyncorp to the Israeli Mossad — none of this should be in the news.

No way would these people risk exposing Epstein to this level of scrutiny if they were just trying to run a ‘nuts and sluts’ operation on Trump to impeach him.

And all of those questions, again using Occam’s Razor, lead to one answer. Donald Trump.

I think Trump started this thing and is now going to watch it play out to the end. Acosta was chum, sent out to fall on his sword and keep the story moving quickly to make it look like Trump is in cahoots with Epstein.

This first act is to go all out in attacking Trump. The intense focus on the sex-trafficking, the ‘nuts and sluts’ angle, is your key to understanding the stakes here. This is Alinsky 101, accuse your target of that which you are guilty of and make it personal. Guilt by association to put Trump on the defensive.

But to do that they also have to hand over the Clintons. And this is what I was getting at the other day. Hillary is over-extended here. Trump knows the way to take her and the rest of them down is to get to them through Epstein.

And most importantly, notice how no one in D.C. is out in front of the cameras, clutching their pearls about how horrible it all is. That silence you don’t hear is fear. Chuck Schumer, who was all over the news in December/January when it looked like Mueller was going to get Trump impeached is now nowhere to be found.

Pelosi, as I mentioned the other day, is fighting an internal battle within her party and not joining the #MeToo chorus. The outrage is simmering. And the Swamp can’t contain this by hoping to sweep this under the rug.

Notice how Epstein asked for immunity the other day. But have you heard anything about it since? No.

What did they get from Harvey Weinstein? Remember him?

There comes a point where a line is crossed, morality is truly compromised and people look at themselves and ask, “Is this the world I want to live in? Is this what we’ve been reduced to?”

Act I is the outrage and the attempt to keep the focus on the pervie side of things. Keep people focused on their disgust circuit and, hopefully, off the man behind the curtain.

But, as I said on Fault Lines, we live in a post-Dorothy Oz where the curtain was pulled back and reveals the weird little man with the levers and we realize yes, this is what we’ve been reduced to.

And that’s when the anger starts and Act II begins.

*  *  *

Join my Patreon if you can’t stand government corruption. Install Brave if you hateBig Tech censorship.

Published:7/12/2019 10:49:12 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
[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
[The Blog] Hmmm: FBI arrests two former Puerto Rico officials in corruption scandal

House Dem to Rosselló: Resign.

The post Hmmm: FBI arrests two former Puerto Rico officials in corruption scandal appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:7/11/2019 6:44:00 PM
[Bits and Pieces] The DNC Server, the Russian Hoax, & the Murder of Seth Rich

We still do not know whether the DNC, FBI and DOJ acted unlawfully to create an October surprise that would elect Hillary in 2016, nor do we know beyond reasonable doubt that Seth Rich’s murder was unrelated. Two recent articles raise important issues regarding the Russia hoax.  At Real Clear Investigations, Aaron Mate has written […]

The post The DNC Server, the Russian Hoax, & the Murder of Seth Rich appeared first on Bookworm Room.

Published:7/11/2019 4:42:33 PM
[Markets] Boeing's 737 Max Chief Retiring As AG Barr Recuses Himself From Boeing Probe

Another day, another fiasco at the biggest US airline carrier, and this time it is oddly reminiscent of the conditions surrounding the melting ice-cube that is Tesla.

With Boeing's workhorse and most popular airline - at least until recently when it was unveiled to be an occasional cost-cutting driven lead balloon - grounded indefinitely, moments after the close the company said that the head of its 737 program, Eric Lindblad, was unexpectedly retiring after just one year in the post, triggering a leadership shuffle for another high-profile project: a proposed midrange jetliner.

The 34-year Boeing executive took charge of the 737 program, and the manufacturing site in Renton, Washington, last year as the U.S. planemaker struggled with late deliveries of engines and other components. Previously, Lindblad overrsaw development of Boeing's new 777X widebody in Everett. His predecessor, Scott Campbell, vice president and general manager of the 737 program and Renton site leader, retired at the end of the year after three decades at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

According to the company, Lidnblad's retirement isn’t related to the crisis at Boeing after two of its Max models crashed in October and March, triggering a global grounding.

Lindblad, 57, “shared with me his desire to retire last year, and we will now begin to embark on a thoughtful and seamless transition plan,” Kevin McAllister, who runs the planemaker’s $60 billion commercial division said in a message to employees Thursday.

In other words, just another guy who wanted to spend more time with his family.

In his stead, Boeing’s single-aisle program will be run by Mark Jenks, who previously headed all aspects of a proposed aircraft known within Boeing as NMA, for new midmarket airplane.

In separate news, Attorney General William Barr said he would recuse himself from the DOJ's investigation into Boeing Co BA.N after two 737 MAX airplane crashes killed 346 people, a spokeswoman for Barr said Thursday. Bloomberg News reported on Thursday that Barr has recused himself because his former law firm is representing Boeing. Reuters and other outlets reported in March that federal prosecutors aided by the FBI were scrutinizing the development of the 737 MAX jetliners. Boeing did not immediately commen

Published:7/11/2019 4:09:16 PM
[Markets] John Whitehead Exposes America's Heart Of Darkness: Sexual Predators Within The Power-Elite

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends, compensating, to increase. And the dictator (unless he needs cannon fodder and families with which to colonize empty or conquered territories) will do well to encourage that freedom.

- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Power corrupts.

Anyone who believes differently hasn’t been paying attention.

Politics, religion, sports, government, entertainment, business, armed forces: it doesn’t matter what arena you’re talking about, they are all riddled with the kind of seedy, sleazy, decadent, dodgy, depraved, immoral, corrupt behavior that somehow gets a free pass when it involves the wealthy and powerful elite in America.

In this age of partisan politics and a deeply polarized populace, corruption - especially when it involves sexual debauchery, depravity and predatory behavior - has become the great equalizer.

Take Jeffrey Epstein, the hedge fund billionaire / convicted serial pedophile recently arrested on charges of molesting, raping and sex trafficking dozens of young girls.

It is believed that Epstein operated his own personal sex trafficking ring not only for his personal pleasure but also for the pleasure of his friends and business associates. According to The Washington Post, “several of the young women…say they were offered to the rich and famous as sex partners at Epstein’s parties.” At various times, Epstein ferried his friends about on his private plane, nicknamed the “Lolita Express.”

This is part of America’s seedy underbelly.

As I documented in the in-depth piece I wrote earlier this year, child sex trafficking—the buying and selling of women, young girls and boys for sex, some as young as 9 years old—has become big business in America. It is the fastest growing business in organized crime and the second most-lucrative commodity traded illegally after drugs and guns.

Adults purchase children for sex at least 2.5 million times a year in the United States.

It’s not just young girls who are vulnerable to these predators, either.

According to a 2016 investigative report, “boys make up about 36% of children caught up in the U.S. sex industry (about 60% are female and less than 5% are transgender males and females).”

Who buys a child for sex?

Otherwise ordinary men from all walks of life. “They could be your co-worker, doctor, pastor or spouse,” writes journalist Tim Swarens, who spent more than a year investigating the sex trade in America.

Ordinary men, yes.

But then there are the extra-ordinary men, such as Jeffrey Epstein, who belong to a powerful, wealthy, elite segment of society that operates according to their own rules or, rather, who are allowed to sidestep the rules that are used like a bludgeon on the rest of us.

These men skate free of accountability by taking advantage of a criminal justice system that panders to the powerful, the wealthy and the elite.

Over a decade ago, when Epstein was first charged with raping and molesting young girls, he was gifted a secret plea deal with then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, President Trump’s current Labor Secretary, that allowed him to evade federal charges and be given the equivalent of a slap on the wrist: allowed to “work” at home six days a week before returning to jail to sleep. That secret plea deal has since been ruled illegal by a federal judge.

Yet here’s the thing: Epstein did not act alone.

I refer not only to Epstein’s accomplices, who recruited and groomed the young girls he is accused of raping and molesting, many of them homeless or vulnerable, but his circle of influential friends and colleagues that at one time included Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. Both Clinton and Trump, renowned womanizers who have also been accused of sexual impropriety by a significant number of women, were at one time passengers on the Lolita Express.

As the Associated Press points out, “The arrest of the billionaire financier on child sex trafficking charges is raising questions about how much his high-powered associates knew about the hedge fund manager’s interactions with underage girls, and whether they turned a blind eye to potentially illegal conduct.”

In fact, a recent decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals allowing a 2,000-page document linked to the Epstein case to be unsealed references allegations of sexual abuse involving “numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known Prime Minister, and other world leaders.”

This is not a minor incident involving minor players.

This is the heart of darkness.

Sex slaves. Sex trafficking. Secret societies. Powerful elites. Government corruption. Judicial cover-ups.

Once again, fact and fiction mirror each other.

Twenty years ago, Stanley Kubrick’s final film Eyes Wide Shut provided viewing audiences with a sordid glimpse into a secret sex society that indulged the basest urges of its affluent members while preying on vulnerable young women. It is not so different from the real world, where powerful men, insulated from accountability, indulge their base urges.

These secret societies flourish, implied Kubrick, because the rest of us are content to navigate life with our eyes wide shut, in denial about the ugly, obvious truths in our midst.

In so doing, we become accomplices to abusive behavior in our midst.

This is how corruption by the power elite flourishes.

For every Epstein who is—finally—called to account for his illegal sexual exploits after years of being given a free pass by those in power, there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) more in the halls of power and wealth whose predation of those most vulnerable among us continues unabated.

While Epstein’s alleged crimes are heinous enough on their own, he is part of a larger narrative of how a culture of entitlement becomes a cesspool and a breeding ground for despots and predators.

Remember the “DC Madam” who was charged with operating a phone-order sex business? Her clients included thousands of White House officials, lobbyists, and Pentagon, FBI, and IRS employees, as well as prominent lawyers, none of whom were ever exposed or held accountable.

Power corrupts.

Worse, as 19th-century historian Lord Acton concluded, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a politician, an entertainment mogul, a corporate CEO or a police officer: give any one person (or government agency) too much power and allow him or her or it to believe that they are entitled, untouchable and will not be held accountable for their actions, and those powers will eventually be abused.

We’re seeing this dynamic play out every day in communities across America.

A cop shoots an unarmed citizen for no credible reason and gets away with it. A president employs executive orders to sidestep the Constitution and gets away with it. A government agency spies on its citizens’ communications and gets away with it. An entertainment mogul sexually harasses aspiring actresses and gets away with it. The U.S. military bombs a civilian hospital and gets away with it.

Abuse of power—and the ambition-fueled hypocrisy and deliberate disregard for misconduct that make those abuses possible—works the same whether you’re talking about sex crimes, government corruption, or the rule of law.

It’s the same old story all over again: man rises to power, man abuses power abominably, man intimidates and threatens anyone who challenges him with retaliation or worse, and man gets away with it because of a culture of compliance in which no one speaks up because they don’t want to lose their job or their money or their place among the elite.

It’s not just sexual predators that we have to worry about.

For every Jeffrey Epstein (or Bill Clinton or Harvey Weinstein or Roger Ailes or Bill Cosby or Donald Trump) who eventually gets called out for his sexual misbehavior, there are hundreds—thousands—of others in the American police state who are getting away with murder—in many cases, literally—simply because they can.

The cop who shoots the unarmed citizen first and asks questions later might get put on paid leave for a while or take a job with another police department, but that’s just a slap on the wrist. The shootings and SWAT team raids and excessive use of force will continue, because the police unions and the politicians and the courts won’t do a thing to stop it.

The war hawks who are making a profit by waging endless wars abroad, killing innocent civilians in hospitals and schools, and turning the American homeland into a domestic battlefield will continue to do so because neither the president nor the politicians will dare to challenge the military industrial complex.

The National Security Agency that carries out warrantless surveillance on Americans’ internet and phone communications will continue to do so, because the government doesn’t want to relinquish any of its ill-gotten powers and its total control of the populace.

Unless something changes in the way we deal with these ongoing, egregious abuses of power, the predators of the police state will continue to wreak havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives.

Police officers will continue to shoot and kill unarmed citizens. Government agents—including local police—will continue to dress and act like soldiers on a battlefield. Bloated government agencies will continue to fleece taxpayers while eroding our liberties. Government technicians will continue to spy on our emails and phone calls. Government contractors will continue to make a killing by waging endless wars abroad.

And powerful men (and women) will continue to abuse the powers of their office by treating those around them as underlings and second-class citizens who are unworthy of dignity and respect and undeserving of the legal rights and protections that should be afforded to all Americans.

As Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the at the University of California, Berkeley, observed in the Harvard Business Review, “While people usually gain power through traits and actions that advance the interests of others, such as empathy, collaboration, openness, fairness, and sharing; when they start to feel powerful or enjoy a position of privilege, those qualities begin to fade. The powerful are more likely than other people to engage in rude, selfish, and unethical behavior.”

After conducting a series of experiments into the phenomenon of how power corrupts, Keltner concluded: “Just the random assignment of power, and all kinds of mischief ensues, and people will become impulsive. They eat more resources than is their fair share. They take more money. People become more unethical.They think unethical behavior is okay if they engage in it. People are more likely to stereotype. They’re more likely to stop attending to other people carefully.”

Power corrupts.

And absolute power corrupts absolutely.

However, it takes a culture of entitlement and a nation of compliant, willfully ignorant, politically divided citizens to provide the foundations of tyranny.

As researchers Joris Lammers and Adam Galinsky found, those in power not only tend to abuse that power but they also feel entitled to abuse it: “People with power that they think is justified break rules not only because they can get away with it, but also because they feel at some intuitive level that they are entitled to take what they want.”

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, for too long now, Americans have tolerated an oligarchy in which a powerful, elite group of wealthy donors is calling the shots. They have paid homage to patriotism while allowing the military industrial complex to spread death and destruction abroad. And they have turned a blind eye to all manner of wrongdoing when it was politically expedient.

We need to restore the rule of law for all people, no exceptions.

Here’s what the rule of law means in a nutshell: it means that everyone is treated the same under the law, everyone is held equally accountable to abiding by the law, and no one is given a free pass based on their politics, their connections, their wealth, their status or any other bright line test used to confer special treatment on the elite.

This culture of compliance must stop.

The empowerment of petty tyrants and political gods must end.

The state of denial must cease.

Let’s not allow this Epstein sex scandal to become just another blip in the news cycle that goes away all too soon, only to be forgotten when another titillating news headline takes its place.

Sex trafficking, like so many of the evils in our midst, is a cultural disease that is rooted in the American police state’s heart of darkness. It speaks to a far-reaching corruption that stretches from the highest seats of power down to the most hidden corners and relies on our silence and our complicity to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing.

If we want to put an end to these wrongs, we must keep our eyes wide open.

Published:7/10/2019 11:33:53 PM
[Politics] Former Puerto Rico officials and five others arrested in major corruption probe involving Hurricane Relief! Two former Puerto Rico officials and 4 businessmen have been arrested by the FBI in a major corruption probe invovling over 15 million in hurricane relief funds: FOX NEWS – Six people, . . . Published:7/10/2019 7:31:50 PM
[Politics] Former Puerto Rico officials and five others arrested in major corruption probe involving Hurricane Relief! Two former Puerto Rico officials and 4 businessmen have been arrested by the FBI in a major corruption probe invovling over 15 million in hurricane relief funds: FOX NEWS – Six people, . . . Published:7/10/2019 7:01:49 PM
[Markets] FBI, ICE Using Facial Recognition To Bulk-Scan DMV Photos In "Unprecedented Surveillance Infrastructure"

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been using state driver's license databases to run photos of millions of Americans through facial-recognition systems without their knowledge or consent, according to the Washington Post

Thousands of facial-recognition requests, internal documents and emails over the past five years, obtained through public-records requests by Georgetown Law researchers and provided to The Washington Post, reveal that federal investigators have turned state departments of motor vehicles databases into the bedrock of an unprecedented surveillance infrastructure.

Police have long had access to fingerprints, DNA and other “biometric data” taken from criminal suspects. But the DMV records contain the photos of a vast majority of a state’s residents, most of whom have never been charged with a crime. -Washington Post

Disturbingly, neither Congress nor state legislatures have authorized this type of systemand none of us agreed to it when we obtained licenses

"They’ve just given access to that to the FBI," said Rep. Jim Jordan, ranking GOP member of the House Oversight Committee. "No individual signed off on that when they renewed their driver’s license, got their driver’s licenses. They didn’t sign any waiver saying, ‘Oh, it’s okay to turn my information, my photo, over to the FBI.’ No elected officials voted for that to happen." 

"Law enforcement’s access of state databases," and in particular those of the DMV, is "often done in the shadows with no consent," added House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD). 

And as has been reported for some time, law enforcement has been relying on facial recognition technology as a routine investigative tool for years - and it's going to get worse

Since 2011, the FBI has logged more than 390,000 facial-recognition searches of federal and local databases, including state DMV databases, the Government Accountability Office said last month, and the records show that federal investigators have forged daily working relationships with DMV officials. In Utah, FBI and ICE agents logged more than 1,000 facial-recognition searches between 2015 and 2017, the records show. Names and other details are hidden, though dozens of the searches are marked as having returned a “possible match.” -Washington Post

Also disturbing is the fact that law enforcement often uses facial recognition to investigate low-level crime, with searches "often executed with nothing more formal than an email from a federal agent to a local contact," according to the Post

"It’s really a surveillance-first, ask-permission-later system," says Project on Government Oversight watchdog lawyer Jake Laperruque. "People think this is something coming way off in the future, but these [facial-recognition] searches are happening very frequently today. The FBI alone does 4,000 searches every month, and a lot of them go through state DMVs."

Targeting illegals with licenses? 

The Post also brings up the fact that undocumented residents who obtain driver's licenses in states which allow this may be subject to immigration enforcement due to the facial recognition technology. 

Though Utah, Vermont and Washington allow undocumented immigrants to obtain full driver’s licenses or more-limited permits known as driving privilege cards, ICE agents have run facial-recognition searches on those DMV databases.

More than a dozen states, including New York, as well as the District of Columbia, allow undocumented immigrants to drive legally with full licenses or driving privilege cards, as long as they submit proof of in-state residency and pass the states’ driving-proficiency tests.

Lawmakers in Florida, Texas and other states have introduced bills this year that would extend driving privileges to undocumented immigrants. Some of those states already allow the FBI to scan driver’s license photos, while others, such as Florida and New York, are negotiating with the FBI over access, according to the GAO. -Washington Post

"The state has told [undocumented immigrants], has encouraged them, to submit that information. To me, it’s an insane breach of trust to then turn around and allow ICE access to that," according to Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology senior associate Clare Garvie, who led the research. 

The FBI’s facial-recognition search has access to local, state and federal databases containing more than 641 million face photos, a GAO director said last month. But the agency provides little information about when the searches are used, who is targeted and how often searches return false matches. -Washington Post

When asked about the surveillance, the FBI told the Post to refer to last month's congressional testimony from Deputy Assistant Director Kimberly Del Grecco, who said that facial recognition was necessary "to preserve our nation’s freedoms, ensure our liberties are protected, and preserve our security." 

Racist technology?

Civil rights advocates have decried the use of facial recognition technology due to the fact that it is far less accurate when trying to identify people of color. According to the report, "The software’s precision is highly dependent on a number of factors, including the lighting of a subject’s face and the quality of the image, and research has shown that the technology performs less accurately on people with darker skin." 

Whatever the objection, we're now at the point where our ability to drive a car or enjoy the out-of-doors is subject to constant electronic surveillance of varying accuracy. 

Published:7/8/2019 10:10:10 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
[Government] ICE mined driver’s license photos for facial recognition U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are using facial recognition software to trawl through millions of driver’s license photos provided by 21 states to search and find suspects. News broke over the weekend that the FBI and immigration officials access images — often without obtaining a search warrant or court order — in order to identify […] Published:7/8/2019 10:05:02 AM
[Markets] Technological Dependence And The End Of Freedom

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

Technology can be dazzling but also debilitating to real human progress, and when I say “progress” I do not mean advancements in the world of machines but advancements in the world of people, and one does not necessarily lead to the other.

First, I fully recognize that whenever anyone attempts to criticize technological innovation they take the risk of being labeled a “crackpot” or an “outdated fossil”, a barbaric relic of a foregone era. However, this attitude is an ignorant one. It assumes that the path we are on as a species is one of perpetual improvement as long as we continue to follow the great technology god; but what if this assumption is completely wrong? What if we are actually devolving rather than evolving?

I'm not here to grunt and shake my spear at the wheel and the combustion engine and the programmable computer – I like all these things. But, what I don't like is the dark future I see when humanity turns machinery into a great metal, polymer and digital “nurse maid” and we lose our ability to take care of ourselves. Dependency is the cornerstone of slavery, and our civilization is becoming increasingly dependent.

In my time on this earth I have had the privilege and suffered the pain of watching the digital age come to fruition. I've witnessed the creation of the home computer, the birth of the internet, the proliferation of cellular technology, and now the spread of “artificial intelligence” and 5G. I have also seen the decay of an entire generation of millennials into uselessness and despondency, lacking any practical skills of production or survival and completely reliant on digital technology for everything, including building up illusions of friendship and intimacy. I have witnessed the pussification of America.

The counterarguments against this will vary. Some will say that our society has simply become more convenient and more comfortable, and this is a good thing. Others will claim that skeptics like myself are afraid of the social changes that come with the globalization that the digital age brings. Still, others will maintain that centralization and dependency are “natural” extensions of man's evolution; that it is inevitable and so we should embrace it.

These are also the classic arguments of the Futurists, a subculture of ideological zealots who believe that all old ideas and ways of living must be treated as obsolete and thrown out to make way for all new ideas and ways of living. The notion is that all new ideas are an automatic improvement; that each new generation is superior to the one before it as they supposedly have access to more knowledge, and thus they are more wise. But knowledge is not the same thing as wisdom and it is often misused to achieve rather brutal and vulgar goals.

What the futurists will never admit is that there are very few new ideas in the world, only old ideas rehashed and recycled and repainted to look different. In the grand scheme of history, freedom as an idea is very old, but it's social application on a grand scale is something entirely new. Centralization, whether by force, manipulation or technological entrapment, is hardly a revolutionary concept. It is the oldest of philosophies.

The trend today indicates a path to swift centralization, and according to the evidence this is not a natural progression but the consequence of a deliberate agenda by elitist groups that wish to remain in power for centuries to come. The advent of many technologies today is not necessarily the problem, it is how these technologies are being applied in our society that is infantilizing the masses.

Let's discuss some specific examples...

Communication Overload

Cell technology and the internet have changed the world. With a web connected computer in your pocket, you will always be able to communicate with others, you will rarely get lost, and you can even record video of everywhere you go and everything you do – instant memories. Who knows how much time this technology has added to a person's day, or how many lives it has saved. But let's consider the darker side...

First, attention spans of Western nations have shortened to less than that of goldfish since 2002; right around the time that cell phone and internet use began to explode. According to overall research the average person now spends up to 4 hours a day just looking at their cell phone, and combined with daily social media use at home and at work I expect that this number increases dramatically. In fact, American adults spend approximately 11 hours per day interacting with various media. That's most of their waking life being distracted by minutia.

The parts of the world that have instant access to this technology are being zombified and they don't seem to realize it. Over-saturation of information and instant gratification trigger an oxytocin and dopamine response in the human brain similar to the response we get when we socialize normally, but there is evidence to suggest that the strength of human interaction has a lot to do with the level of pleasure we receive through a dopamine response.  Social media interactions are a poor proxy for real relationships. So, social media creates a near constant flow of dopamine, but also weaker and less significant. This has led to a new form of addiction, perhaps more invasive than any chemical drug in existence.

Interaction with other human beings without social media or instant gratification has become unthinkable, but the real world does not function according to personal whims, and so, people have begun to discard time when functioning away from the web; they become grossly impatient, like small children.   When forced to do the “remedial tasks” that are required for survival they grow frustrated and complacent.  They avoid the pauses or quiet moments in life, refusing to ponder experiences and explore the deeper meaning behind the events they read about briefly each day in their news feeds. All the information is at their fingertips, but they have no clue how to absorb it and apply it critically.

Inviting The Watchers Into Your Home

People do a lot of stupid things in the name of convenience, including opening their homes to surveillance and tyranny under the guise of easy living. While a cell phone is essentially a listening device, video surveillance device and tracking device in your pocket that governments and corporations can exploit anytime they wish, the problems do not stop there. The future of technology is fully interconnected homes in which everything is digital and everything is linked to the “internet of things”.

We have seen some of this exposed recently with controversies over Amazon's Alexa tech, which is essentially a large and sensitive listening device which people pay for with their own money and voluntarily place in the middle of their homes. Amazon has been caught on multiple occasions collecting vast amounts of data from their Alexa network, including recordings of customer conversations which employees and even the government then have access to.

But this is a less subtle example. Consider having ALL your home appliances linked to the web and what this would mean? Government surveillance of daily electrical usage and appliance usage; which means they would know when you are home and what you are doing at all times. This might not seem like a big deal if you think you “have nothing to hide”, but in a world where carbon Nazis are attempting to dictate every aspect of our lives over fraudulent global warming claims, your electrical usage might become a legal issue one day. Not to mention, if every single device in your home is voice activated for convenience, then this means your every private word becomes subject to bureaucratic scrutiny.

Take this a step further and consider a society in which digital connection is required in order to live.  Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are building the foundation for a cashless economic system in which privacy in trade becomes a long forgotten memory.  Every transaction can be tracked, and and monitored.  And while crypto is being sold to the public as "decentralization", the reality is that it is even more centralized than fiat currency, as all trade must flow through a government and corporate dominated internet and be recorded on the blockchain in order for the cryptocurrency to proliferate.  Not only this, but many crypto innovations are being accomplished by people deeply connected to government surveillance agencies like the NSA, and the infrastructure is being built by globalist corporations like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

Privacy is the foundation of freedom. All tyranny relies first on the invasion of privacy and the removal of private spaces. The 4th Amendment exists for a very good reason. The argument that “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear” is a very foolish one. Governments are commonly made up of fallible people who are often corrupt or psychopathic, but frankly NO ONE has the objectivity and wisdom necessary to oversee the private actions and conversations of millions of citizens and then judge them fairly. Politicians and bureaucrats are the least qualified and yet we give them the most power to oversee our lives, all in the name of technological convenience.

Artificial Intelligence And Automation

When it comes to technology the mass surveillance issue is the subject most discussed, but there is a problem that concerns me even more – automation. There are plenty of menial tasks in this world that probably should be handled through industry and robotics, but some things should be required learning for every person. For example, do we really want the complete automation of food production in our society? Well, that is the goal of corporations, and it could destroy our ability to provide our own necessities in the future simply by removing the knowledge from our social memory.

The ability to grow food and harvest food, as well as collecting seeds for future harvests, is integral to human survival. The concept of hunting and gathering is so far removed from the average person's daily life that it is almost a lost art form, but we have not lost all knowledge of food production yet. What I see though is a bleak future if the current path of technological centralization continues.

Imagine a world in which nearly everyone is hyperconnected to media, to the point that they wear their devices like clothing at all times. Imagine a society where the average person is so enveloped by data that they no longer pay any attention to the tangible world around them and almost all human interactions are achieved through the middle man of the internet. Imagine people so infantilized by convenience that they no longer know how to do ANYTHING for themselves. They no longer know how to produce goods. They no longer know how to fix anything that is broken. They no longer know how to grow food or find water, nor do they even know where it comes from. They are completely dependent on automation.

They live completely on the grid - they are born on the grid, and if you were to pluck them from their life of comfortable slavery and place them in the middle of the woods surrounded by food, water and potential shelter they would still die. Now realize that this is basically reality today for many people, and the virus of dependency is spreading.

Technological advancement serves no purpose to humanity except as a crutch or a cage unless it serves the purpose of liberty and is tempered by the conservation of ancient knowledge and skills passed down through generations. The two ideologies must balance each other out. Those who say otherwise are trying to con you into trading your freedom for a fantasy.

*  *  *

If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE.

Published:7/5/2019 8:21:53 PM
[Markets] Immigration: When Do We Get To Too Many?

Authored by Kelli Ballard via LibertyNation.com,

The border crisis continues to be a growing problem with virtually no solution in sight. The two sides of the aisle are too busy fighting each other and President Donald Trump to get anything accomplished. The Dems want open borders while the rest of the U.S. wants to protect our borders and everyone inside them. Now a new bill is set to be introduced by the Democrats that will increase the number of refugees we take in each year to a whopping 100,000.

The “Northern Triangle and Border Stabilization Act” (H.R. 3524) being introduced by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) is an attempt to increase the number of at-risk immigrant refugees with an emphasis on speeding up the process.

According to the United Nations, 22,900 refugees were resettled in the U.S. in 2018. Let me repeat that: 22,900 refugees last year and the Dems want to increase that to 100,000! To further emphasize the enormity of this, these numbers only relate to refugees as defined by their need to escape their homeland due to imminent fear or threats of harm or death. This number does not take into account the hundreds of thousands of immigrants stampeding our southern border on a daily basis. Nor does this include immigrants and refugees outside of Central America. This astronomical number refers only to those seeking asylum from the Northern Triangle countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is, of course, 100% behind this bill, and added its own suggestions to be implemented. Said AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson:

“To make the system efficient and fair, AILA calls upon the government to hire and send more asylum officers to the border, provide migrants with legal counsel, and stop what has become a knee-jerk practice of detaining asylum seekers. H.R. 3524 also calls for hiring more immigration judges, but on its own, more judges won’t eliminate the enormous 900,000 case backlog slowing the courts. Congress should immediately restore the authority that DOJ stripped from immigration judges to manage their dockets and decide cases in an impartial and independent manner, and in the long term Congress should create an independent immigration court system separate from the Department of Justice. We welcome the ‘Northern Triangle and Border Stabilization Act’ and urge Congress to move the bill forward quickly.”

In other words, it is okay to bring in more officers to the border to assist refugees, but it is immoral to send more patrol agents to protect our citizens.

Our detention centers, otherwise known as “concentration camps” from such geniuses as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are already splitting at the seams with the overcrowding of migrants spilling into the nation. Dems have been having a glorified field day complete with crocodile tears relating the horrible, inhumane, and atrocious conditions where immigrants are being housed while we figure out what to do with them. Why, then, would sensible lawmakers ever consider upping the cap number of refugees allowed in each year? Increasing the number will not improve conditions at the border.

One of the elements of the proposed act is to make it so immigrants seeking asylum can do so from their own country so that they don’t have to make the dangerous trek. In theory, this seems like a good idea – as long as the preapproved seekers are still met with a rigorous in-person vetting system once they reach the U.S. The idea is that this will help reduce the congestion at the border by allowing people to prequalify.

The United Nations reports that currently, it takes between 12 and 24 months for asylum seekers to be vetted once they are recommended to the U.S.

  • Screening by eight federal agencies including the State Department, Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

  • Six security database checks and biometric security checks screened against U.S. federal databases.

  • Medical screening.

  • Three in-person interviews with Department of Homeland Security officers.

Before our elected representatives start quadrupling the numbers of refugees the U.S. processes each year, perhaps a better idea would be to first find a solution to deal with the enormous numbers we already have in our country before inviting even more.

Published:7/5/2019 7:32:15 PM
[Markets] US Government Mulls Banning Encryption

Authored by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com,

Here’s our Friday roll up of the most absurd and concerning articles we came across this week...

US Government officials consider banning end to end encryption

Leaders from US government agencies are rumored to be pursuing a ban on end-to-end encryption.

Tech companies like Apple and Google often build encryption into their technology to prevent data from being hacked and stolen.

Apps like Whatsapp and Signal also encrypt communications so that even if they are intercepted, they can not be read by anyone but the intended recipient.

Three different sources familiar with the meetings reported on the discussion.

The Department of Justice, FBI, Secret Service and ICE want Congress to ban encryption to make their jobs easier. They say a backdoor should be built into any encrypted technology so that they can access any communications they want in the course of their investigations.

The State Department and Commerce Departments are against asking Congress to ban encryption, mainly for diplomatic and proprietary reasons.

(Surprisingly, DHS leadership has mixed opinions.)

This would put everyone’s data at risk. But it also gives the government power we know they cannot be trusted with.

Even if we forget about privacy concerns, the government has admitted to far too many massive security breaches to trust them with this level of data.

Click here for the full story.

Soylent green is… geese?

Here is a partnership between the federal and local government that we can get behind.

In Denver, the growing population of geese has become a problem. Parks and lakes are filling up with goose poop.

That risks spreading disease and makes it impossible to lay out on the grassy fields– not to mention the occasional aggressive goose.

So the City of Denver has teamed up with the USDA to kill two birds with one stone.

They are culling flocks of geese and sending the bird carcasses to nearby poultry processing centers.

The goose meat is then donated to needy Denver families for a hearty, natural meal.

Let this rare example of government efficiency inspire bureaucrats everywhere.

Click here for the full story.

Banana Festival can’t afford anti-terrorism requirements

Since 1956, a small town in Australia has held an annual banana festival.

The main event is always the mascot, Banana Jim, leading a parade of floats through the town to the festival.

Unfortunately, Banana Jim doesn’t come with his own security force. So this year, the parade will be cancelled.

See, Australia has mandated security measures for public events which include anti-terrorism “hostile vehicle” security like concrete blocks to protect crowds and increased police presence.

But this small town cannot afford the estimated $10,000 extra it would cost to implement the extra security.

The festival coordinator said she doubts that Banana Jim is a high profile ISIS target…

Statistically speaking, in fact, it is probably far more likely that a festival-goer would be killed by slipping on a banana peel than become the victim of a terrorist attack.

Click here for the full story.

Italian social services convinced kids they were abused, then sold them

It is hard to fathom that there are people this patently evil in the world.

Eighteen officials have been arrested in Italy over a social services scheme that took children from innocent parents and sold them to foster parents.

Doctors, social workers and even a mayor are among the conspirators.

Through intensive psychological manipulation– including electroshocks– psychologists convinced children from low income homes that they had been sexually abused by their parents.

Then they placed the children in foster homes in exchange for money.

It’s not entirely clear what motivation the foster parents had to pay for the children. Some may have wanted government kickbacks for fostering children. But at least two of the children were sexually abused in their new foster homes.

It’s horrible that this type of abuse of power happens and a good reminder of why the government needs to be kept on the shortest possible leash.

Click here for the full story.

Published:7/5/2019 3:47:49 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
[] Rep. John Ratcliffe: Inspector General Horowitz's Investigation Is Complete, Report Is Being Written I guess we'll see. I'm not hopeful. Congressman John Ratcliffe (R-TX) says DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has completed his investigation into alleged FISA abuses by the FBI. ... "[H]e related that his team?s investigative work is complete, and they?re... Published:7/4/2019 3:10:28 PM
[Markets] Boeing Engineer On Heroin Robbed 30 Banks In Just One Year 

Heroin addict, and former Boeing engineer Anthony Hathaway, robbed 30 banks from 2013 to 2014, spoke with Bloomberg about how a life of addiction that led to the crime.

Hathaway was appointed technical designer by Boeing, after a decade of hard work. He was in charge of design for galleys on the 747-8 Intercontinental. He told Bloomberg that he was the only engineer at the Boeing Everett Factory in Everett, Washington, that didn't have a college degree.

Several years of earning $100,000 per year and living large in the 2000s, he had a herniated disc after an incident during a company sporting event and was prescribed OxyContin by his doctor in 2005.

"It was like a miracle drug," Hathaway told Bloomberg.

And this is when his life spiraled down: Hathaway had two back surgeries to fix the disc, doctors prescribed him even more opioids, sometimes at higher doses. He said he instantly developed an addiction and became reclusive.

Hathaway said: "I was peeling the coating off of the OxyContin, crushing them, and snorting them. I knew I was in trouble."

When OxyContin in 2010 modified pills to make it uncrushable,  Hathaway and his teenage son resorted to heroin instead.

His salary couldn't support the expensive drug habit, and in summer 2011, his son robbed a bank and was arrested after a dye pack in cash exploded as he left.

Shortly after, Hathaway became homeless, had to move in with his mother, and at that very moment, he decided to become a professional bank robber. "I started planning," he said.

He added: " I knew that as long as I didn't leave any fingerprints or DNA or facial recognition that I should be able to pull this off without too many problems."

Hathaway knocked over his first bank on February 5, 2013, at a Banner Bank in Everett, down the street from the Boeing factory; 27 more robberies followed over the year. He told Bloomberg that he never carried a weapon.

By Spring of 2013, he robbed several more banks and was broadcasted on Washington's Most Wanted TV show. Police called him the Cyborg Bandit as detectives believed his face mask was made of metal.

Hathaway switched up costumes for different banks, with one that looked like he had roughly cut t-shirts as a mask.

He said there were several incidents where the police almost caught him - one with a teller who planted a GPS device into the money bag, which he quickly discovered, as well as one teller who became uncooperative during a heist.

The most money he ever stole from a bank was a little over $6,000 from Whidbey Island Bank in Bothell. He averaged one robbery per week in 2013, but there was a 67-day quiet period from May to June when his winnings from a casino allowed him to take a break.

Hathaway staged his last bank robbery on February 11, 2014, at KeyBank in Seattle. He shot up with heroin right before the robbery and passed out. Minutes later he awoke and robbed the bank, made off with $2,310. FBI and police immediately surrounded him as he walked outside - ending his 30-robbery streak.

In a plea arrangement in January 2016, Hathaway was sentenced to 106 months in prison.

Detective Len Carver with the Seattle Police Department and a member of the FBI's Seattle Safe Streets Task Force, said he thought one of Hathaway's masks were made of metal.

Carver said in one instance, Hathaway wore a T-shirt draped over your head. "I've never seen a guy just drape a T-shirt over his head and cut some holes in it" before robbing a bank.

Hathaway, now 50, sits in the Monroe Correctional Complex in Washinton state. Has cable TV, and a job at the jail that pays 42¢ an hour, with a maximum of $55 per week, and 20% of that goes to court fees and restitution for his crimes.

"It'll be around $112,000 by the time I get out," he tells Bloomberg during a visit in June. "But I have my whole life to pay it off."

Hathaway's quick transition from star engineer at Boeing to a nasty heroin addiction that contributed to dozens of bank heist, all started with pain management programs in hospitals prescribing highly addictive legal opioids.

Published:7/2/2019 8:30:54 PM
[] Scenes from the End of the American Republic FBI probling alleged antifa plan to buy guns to stage an armed rebellion at the border: The FBI is investigating a supposed radical far-left Antifa plot to ?stage an armed rebellion? and ?disrupt U.S. law enforcement and military security operations... Published:7/2/2019 7:31:37 PM
[Politics] Report: GOP Eagerly Looking to Grill Mueller at Hearings Republicans are eagerly awaiting Special Counsel Robert Mueller's congressional testimony later this month, as many seek to challenge the findings of his report and to paint the former FBI director as a Democratic tool to discredit President Donald Trump. Published:7/1/2019 12:30:31 PM
[Markets] Florida City Pays $462,000 In Ransom After Second Cyberattack Cripples City's Infrastructure

Cyber-criminals have struck for the second week in a row, this time on a small Florida city called Lake City, according to the WSJ. The city has agreed to pay ransom to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars after a ransomware attack crippled its systems. 

Lake City's council approved the measure during an emergency meeting Monday night and will be paying about $462,000 via Bitcoin, by way of the city's insurer. This payment follows a similar incident in Riviera Beach, a city of 34,000 near West Palm Beach, where the city's council authorized a similar $600,000 ransom payment.

The event [in Lake City] began June 10 with what the city described as a “triple threat” malware attack, then escalated with a ransom demand last week, the city said in a news release. The attack knocked out email and hindered city services, and people had to temporarily pay utility bills on terminals at the police station, the city manager said. The attack included a ransomware variant called Ryuk that is known for hefty ransom demands.

Emergency services weren’t affected. But Lake City authorities worried they wouldn’t be able to access encrypted files such as ordinances, public-record requests and utility information.

These are both signs of how increasingly sophisticated hackers are targeting cities with outdated IT infrastructure and holding them ransom for sizeable sums. And suceeding. The Riviera Beach ransom was about 12 times the size of a ransom demand that Atlanta refused to pay last year. These demands are becoming more common and are growing in size. The six figure sums averaged only a couple thousand dollars a few years ago. 

Ironically, the hacking measures appear to come thanks to a hack of the NSA's own weaponized hacking arsenal, which is now being used against the US.

Larry Ponemon, whose Michigan research company, the Ponemon Institute, focuses on information security said: “There are a lot of copycats out there, and they figure they’re going to ride the gravy train.”

Attackers are going after both companies and cities regularly by exploiting vulnerabilities via malicious email attachments and demanding payments for decryption keys. 

The attacks occur "every day and many are never publicized". Local governments are especially vulnerable if they lack resources to update infrastructure and invest in security. 

Michael Tanenbaum, head of North America cyber and professional liability at insurance giant Chubb said: “We do see an increased frequency against municipalities.” 

The FBI advises against paying hackers, saying there's no guarantee they will release data and that it could make victims susceptible to future attacks. But some victims don't have a choice: for instance, in March, Jackson County, Georgia paid $400,000 after realizing a cyber attack had compromised its backups. 

Joe Helfenberger, city manager in Lake City said: “I thought we had a backup, but obviously we didn’t have a good enough backup for this kind of attack. Fortunately, we had all the financial data backed up properly off-site, so that wasn’t affected, but pretty much everything else was.”

The payouts are emboldening hackers to raise their demands. Ponemon said: “That might explain why the ransom is going up: The bad guys can get away with it.”

At the start of this month, we detailed a similar ransomware attack on the City of Baltimore. Officials have estimated that attack, where Baltimore rejected a $76,000 ransom, will instead cost the city about $18 million in IT costs and lost revenue. 

Published:6/28/2019 9:42:10 PM
[In The News] Universities Push Back On FBI Request To Monitor Chinese-Sponsored Students

By Andrew Kerr -

FBI officials have advised at least 10 American universities since 2018 to monitor certain Chinese nationals amid fears that Chinese propaganda is seeping into U.S. academia. But administrators of the institutions the FBI briefed, which are member schools of the Association of American Universities (AAU), have pushed back on the ...

Universities Push Back On FBI Request To Monitor Chinese-Sponsored Students 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 2:08:00 PM
[Markets] Return To The Fold: MbS Stands Right Next To Trump & Erdogan At G20 After Prior Snub

Despite some awkward looks and facial expressions, with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at first appearing to be rejected by Trump as he leaned in for a traditional Saudi kiss or at least warmer embrace (or perhaps he tripped?), MbS was placed prominently at the US president's side, himself flanked by Turkey's President Erdogan. 

And further during the 'family photo' of leaders attending the G20 summit in Japan on Friday, Japanese Prime Minister and host Shinzo Abe was to MbS' left. 

Notably this comes just a week after the United Nations issued an over 100-page report finding “sufficient credible evidence” that the grisly Oct. 2 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was on the direct orders of the crown prince and other Saudi high level officials. 

In the aftermath Erdogan and Turkish intelligence initiated a slow leaks campaign, with each detail and audio from the killing proving more embarrassing for MbS than the last.

What a difference half a year makes...

Last year's cold shoulder at Buenos Aires as MbS was cast to the margins.

Weeks after Khashoggi was killed MbS was treated as persona non grata while attending the previous G20 meeting in Buenos Aires. But now it appears the heads of the so-called global community have embraced him after a brief ostracization period.

* * *

And now...

Friday's G20 photo op in Osaka, Japan. Via Reuters/Middle East Eye

Trump and MbS are set to hold a breakfast meeting on the sidelines of the G20 on Saturday, according to a White House statement, which comes amid a Congressional push to ban American arms sales to the kingdom, a bill which Trump has repeatedly vowed to veto.

Image source: Reuters

The sit down meeting also comes during soaring tensions with Iran in which both Washington and Riyadh are spearheading allied "maximum pressure" efforts against Tehran in the gulf region, which has included a Saudi invitation to host more US troops on its soil. 

Image source: Reuters

Last Sunday Trump addressed the Khashoggi murder UN investigation when asked about it in a Meet the Press interview. The president's response to the UN urging a FBI investigation was as follows according to the NY Times

Mr. Trump said the episode had already been thoroughly investigated. He said the Middle East is “a vicious, hostile place” and noted that Saudi Arabia is an important trading partner with the United States.

“I only say they spend $400 to $450 billion over a period of time, all money, all jobs, buying equipment,” the president told Chuck Todd, the show’s moderator. “I’m not like a fool that says, ‘We don’t want to do business with them.’ And by the way, if they don’t do business with us, you know what they do? They’ll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese.”

Given the symbolism of MbS' prominent placement at G20 events, including being seated next to PM Abe during a round table discussion Friday, it appears that MbS - while still being essentially a "murder suspect" in an ongoing UN investigation - has "returned to the fold" of "acceptable" world leaders. 

Published:6/28/2019 2:07:59 PM
[Markets] How Evil Wins: The Hypocritical Double Standards Of Political Outrage

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“She was asked what she had learned from the Holocaust, and she said that 10 percent of any population is cruel, no matter what, and that 10 percent is merciful, no matter what, and that the remaining 80 percent could be moved in either direction.” - Kurt Vonnegut

Please spare me the media hysterics and the outrage and the hypocritical double standards of those whose moral conscience appears to be largely dictated by their political loyalties.

Anyone who believes that the injustices, cruelties and vicious callousness of the U.S. government are unique to the Trump Administration has not been paying attention.

No matter what the team colors might be at any given moment, the playbook remains the same. The leopard has not changed its spots. Scrape off the surface layers and you will find that the American police state that is continuing to wreak havoc on the rights of the people under the Trump Administration is the same police state that wreaked havoc on the rights of the people under every previous administration.

Brace yourselves.

While we squabble over which side is winning this losing battle, a tsunami approaches.

Case in point: in Charlottesville, Va.—home of Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, champion of the Bill of Rights, and the nation’s third president—city councilors in a quest for so-called “equity” have proposed eliminating Jefferson’s birthday as a city holiday (which has been on the books since 1945) and replacing it with a day that commemorates the liberation of area slaves following the arrival of Union troops under Gen. Philip Sheridan.

In this way, while the populace wages war over past injustices, injustice in the here and now continues to trample innocent lives underfoot. In Charlottesville, as in the rest of the country, little is being done to stem the tide of the institutional racism that has resulted in disproportionate numbers of black Americans being stopped, frisked, shot at, arrested and jailed.

Just recently, in fact, Phoenix police drew their guns, shouted profanities, assaulted and threatened to shoot a black couple whose 4-year-old daughter allegedly stole a doll from a dollar store. The footage of the incident—in which the cops threaten to shoot the pregnant, young mother in the head in the presence of the couple’s 1- and 4-year-old daughters—is horrifying in every way.

Tell me again why it’s more important to spend valuable political capital debating the birthdays of dead presidents rather than proactively working to put a stop to a government mindset that teaches cops it’s okay to treat citizens of any color with brutality and a blatant disregard for their rights?

It doesn’t matter that Phoenix and Charlottesville are 2100 miles apart. The lethal practices of the American police state are the same all over.

No amount of dissembling can shield us from the harsh reality that the danger in our midst is posed by an entrenched government bureaucracy that has no regard for the Constitution, Congress, the courts or the citizenry.

We’ve got to get our priorities straight if we are to ever have any hope of maintaining any sense of freedom in America. As long as we allow ourselves to be distracted, diverted, occasionally outraged, always polarized and content to view each other—rather than the government—as the enemy, we’ll never manage to present a unified front against tyranny (or government corruption and ineptitude) in any form.

Mind you, by “government,” I’m not referring to the highly partisan, two-party bureaucracy of the Republicans and Democrats. Rather, I’m referring to “government” with a capital “G,” the entrenched Deep State that is unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and has set itself beyond the reach of the law.

This is the hidden face of a government that has no respect for the freedoms of its citizenry.

So stop with all of the excuses and the hedging and the finger-pointing and the pissing contests to see which side can out-shout, out-blame and out-spew the other. Enough already with the short- and long-term amnesia that allows political sycophants to conveniently forget the duplicity, complicity and mendacity of their own party while casting blame on everyone else.

This is how evil wins.

This is how freedom falls and tyranny rises.

This is how good, generally decent people—having allowed themselves to be distracted with manufactured crises, polarizing politics, and fighting that divides the populace into warring us vs. them camps—fail to take note of the looming danger that threatens to wipe freedom from the map and place us all in chains.

Anytime you have an entire nation so mesmerized by the antics of the political ruling class that they are oblivious to all else, you’d better beware. Anytime you have a government that operates in the shadows, speaks in a language of force, and rules by fiat, you’d better beware. And anytime you have a government so far removed from its people as to ensure that they are never seen, heard or heeded by those elected to represent them, you’d better beware.

The world has been down this road before.

As historian Milton Mayer recounts in his seminal book on Hitler’s rise to power, They Thought They Were Free:

Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about—we were decent people-—and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the 'national enemies', without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us.

We are no longer living the American Dream. We’re living the American Lie.

Indeed, Americans have been lied to so sincerely, so incessantly, and for so long by politicians of all stripes—who lie compulsively and without any seeming remorse—that they’ve almost come to prefer the lies trotted out by those in government over less-palatable truths.

The American people have become compulsive believers: left-leaning Americans are determined to believe that the world has become a far more dangerous place under Trump, while right-leaning Americans are equally convinced that Trump has set us on a path to prosperity and security.

Nothing has changed.

The police state is still winning. We the people are still losing.

In fact, the American police state has continued to advance at the same costly, intrusive, privacy-sapping, Constitution-defying, heartbreaking, soul-scorching, relentless pace under the current Tyrant-in-Chief as it did under those who occupied the White House before him (Obama, Bush, Clinton, etc.).

Police haven’t stopped disregarding the rights of citizens. Having been given the green light to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip, shoot and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts, America’s law enforcement officials are no longer mere servants of the people entrusted with keeping the peace. Indeed, they continue to keep the masses corralled, under control, and treated like suspects and enemies and slaves rather than citizens.

SWAT teams haven’t stopped crashing through doors and terrorizing families. Nationwide, SWAT teams continue to be employed to address an astonishingly trivial array of criminal activities or mere community nuisances including angry dogs, domestic disputes, improper paperwork filed by an orchid farmer, and misdemeanor marijuana possession. With more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year on unsuspecting Americans for relatively routine police matters and federal agencies laying claim to their own heavily armed law enforcement divisions, the incidence of botched raids and related casualties continue to rise.

The Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security haven’t stopped militarizing and federalizing local police. Police forces continue to be transformed into heavily armed extensions of the military, complete with jackboots, helmets, shields, batons, pepper-spray, stun guns, assault rifles, body armor, miniature tanks and weaponized drones. In training police to look and act like the military and use the weapons and tactics of war against American citizens, the government continues to turn the United States into a battlefield and “we the people” into enemy combatants.

Schools haven’t stopped treating young people like hard-core prisoners. School districts continue to team up with law enforcement to create a “schoolhouse to jailhouse track” by imposing a “double dose” of punishment for childish infractions: suspension or expulsion from school, accompanied by an arrest by the police and a trip to juvenile court. In this way, the paradigm of abject compliance to the state continues to be taught by example in the schools, through school lockdowns where police and drug-sniffing dogs enter the classroom, and zero tolerance policies that punish all offenses equally and result in young people being expelled for childish behavior.

For-profit private prisons haven’t stopped locking up Americans and immigrants alike at taxpayer expense. States continue to outsource prison management to private corporations out to make a profit at taxpayer expense. And how do you make a profit in the prison industry? Have the legislatures pass laws that impose harsh penalties for the slightest noncompliance in order keep the prison cells full and corporate investors happy.

Censorship hasn’t stopped. First Amendment activities continue to be pummeled, punched, kicked, choked, chained and generally gagged all across the country. The reasons for such censorship vary widely from political correctness, safety concerns and bullying to national security and hate crimes but the end result remained the same: the complete eradication of what Benjamin Franklin referred to as the “principal pillar of a free government.”

The courts haven’t stopped marching in lockstep with the police state. The courts continue to be dominated by technicians and statists who are deferential to authority, whether government or business. Indeed, the Supreme Court’s decisions in recent years have most often been characterized by an abject deference to government authority, military and corporate interests.

Government bureaucrats haven’t stopped turning American citizens into criminals. The average American now unknowingly commits three felonies a day, thanks to an overabundance of vague laws that render otherwise innocent activity illegal, while reinforcing the power of the police state and its corporate allies.

The surveillance state hasn’t stopped spying on Americans’ communications, transactions or movements. On any given day, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether it’s your local police, a fusion center, the National Security Agency or one of the government’s many corporate partners, is still monitoring and tracking your every move.

The TSA hasn’t stopped groping or ogling travelers. Under the pretext of protecting the nation’s infrastructure (roads, mass transit systems, water and power supplies, telecommunications systems and so on) against criminal or terrorist attacks, TSA task forces (comprised of federal air marshals, surface transportation security inspectors, transportation security officers, behavior detection officers and explosive detection canine teams) continue to do random security sweeps of nexuses of transportation, including ports, railway and bus stations, airports, ferries and subways, as well as political conventions, baseball games and music concerts. Sweep tactics include the use of x-ray technology, pat-downs and drug-sniffing dogs, among other things.

Congress hasn’t stopped enacting draconian laws such as the USA Patriot Act and the NDAA. These laws—which completely circumvent the rule of law and the constitutional rights of American citizens, continue to re-orient our legal landscape in such a way as to ensure that martial law, rather than the rule of law, our U.S. Constitution, becomes the map by which we navigate life in the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security hasn’t stopped being a “wasteful, growing, fear-mongering beast.” Indeed, this is the agency that is notorious for militarizing the police and SWAT teams; spying on activists, dissidents and veterans; stockpiling ammunition; distributing license plate readers; contracting to build detention camps; tracking cell-phones with Stingray devices; carrying out military drills and lockdowns in American cities; using the TSA as an advance guard; conducting virtual strip searches with full-body scanners; carrying out soft target checkpoints; directing government workers to spy on Americans; conducting widespread spying networks using fusion centers; carrying out Constitution-free border control searches; funding city-wide surveillance cameras; and utilizing drones and other spybots.

The military industrial complex hasn’t stopped profiting from endless wars abroad. America’s expanding military empire continues to bleed the country dry at a rate of more than $15 billion a month (or $20 million an hour). The Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety. Yet what most Americans fail to recognize is that these ongoing wars have little to do with keeping the country safe and everything to do with enriching the military industrial complex at taxpayer expense.

The Deep State’s shadow government hasn’t stopped calling the shots behind the scenes.Comprised of unelected government bureaucrats, corporations, contractors, paper-pushers, and button-pushers who are actually calling the shots behind the scenes, this government within a government continues to be the real reason “we the people” have no real control over our so-called representatives. It’s every facet of a government that is no longer friendly to freedom and is working overtime to trample the Constitution underfoot and render the citizenry powerless in the face of the government’s power grabs, corruption and abusive tactics.

And the American people haven’t stopped acting like gullible sheep. In fact, many Americans have been so carried away by their blind rank-and-file partisan devotion to their respective political gods that they have lost sight of the one thing that has remained constant in recent years: our freedoms are steadily declining. And it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican at the helm, because the bureaucratic mindset on both sides of the aisle now seems to embody the same philosophy of authoritarian government.

So you can try to persuade yourself that you are free, that you still live in a country that values freedom, and that it is not too late to make America great again, but to anyone who has been paying attention to America’s decline over the past 50 years, it will be just another lie.

The German people chose to ignore the truth and believe the lie.

They were not oblivious to the horrors taking place around them. As historian Robert Gellately points out, “[A]nyone in Nazi Germany who wanted to find out about the Gestapo, the concentration camps, and the campaigns of discrimination and persecutions need only read the newspapers.”

The warning signs were definitely there, blinking incessantly like large neon signs.

“Still,” Gellately writes, “the vast majority voted in favor of Nazism, and in spite of what they could read in the press and hear by word of mouth about the secret police, the concentration camps, official anti-Semitism, and so on. . . . [T]here is no getting away from the fact that at that moment, ‘the vast majority of the German people backed him.’

Half a century later, the wife of a prominent German historian, neither of whom were members of the Nazi party, opined:

[O]n the whole, everyone felt well. . . . And there were certainly eighty percent who lived productively and positively throughout the time. . . . We also had good years. We had wonderful years.”

In other words, as long as their creature comforts remained undiminished, as long as their bank accounts remained flush, as long as they weren’t being discriminated against, persecuted, starved, beaten, shot, stripped, jailed and turned into slave labor, life was good.

Life is good in America, too.

Life is good in America as long as you’re not one of the hundreds of migrant children (including infants, toddlers, preschoolers) being detained in unsanitary conditions by U.S. Border Patrol without proper access to food and water, made to sleep on concrete floors, go without a shower for weeks on end, and only allowed to brush your teeth once every 10 days.

Life is good in America as long as you don’t have to come face to face with a trigger-happy cop hyped up on the power of the badge, trained to shoot first and ask questions later, and disposed to view people of color as a suspect class.

Life is good in America as long as you’re able to keep sleep-walking through life, cocooning yourself in political fantasies that depict a world in which your party is always right and everyone else is wrong, and distracting yourself with bread-and-circus entertainment that bears no resemblance to reality.

Life is good in America as long as you’ve got enough money to spare that you don’t mind being made to pay through the nose for the government’s endless wars, subsidization of foreign nations, military empire, welfare state, roads to nowhere, bloated workforce, secret agencies, fusion centers, private prisons, biometric databases, invasive technologies, arsenal of weapons, and every other budgetary line item that is contributing to the fast-growing wealth of the corporate elite at the expense of those who are barely making ends meet—that is, we the 99%. 

Life is good in America for the privileged few, but as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, it’s getting worse by the day for the rest of us.

Published:6/26/2019 11:02:55 PM
[Markets] Trump Slams Mueller For 'Illegally Deleting Evidence' On Wiped Phones

President Trump on Wednesday claimed that special counsel Robert Mueller 'illegally terminated' texts between "The two lovers, the two pathetic lovers, those two lovebirds" Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. 

The two former FBI employees at the center of the agency's early Trump investigation sent thousands of text messages to each other which revealed their extreme animus for the then-candidate Trump. 

"Robert Mueller, they worked for him ... they had texts back and forth ... Mueller terminated them illegally. He terminated the emails, he terminated all of the stuff between Strzok and Page ... He terminated them. They're gone. That's illegal. That's a crime," Trump said. 

While Trump did not provide evidence for his claim, he was likely referring to a December report by the DOJ's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) which found that after he was fired from the Mueller probe, the special counsel's office allowed Strzok's phone to be wiped clean by the FBI before it was reassigned to another agent

It strains credulity to imagine that the special counsel's office would 'accidentally' allow Strzok's iPhone to be reformatted after he was fired for exchanging biased text messages on it

Page's phone was similarly scrubbed. 

Separately, the OIG recovered approximately 19,000 Strzok-Page texts from their Galaxy S5 phones. The messages span a "gap" in text messages between December 15, 2016 and May 17, 2017. 

OIG digital forensic examiners used forensic tools to recover thousands of text messages from these devices, including many outside the period of collection tool failure (December 15, 20 I 6 to May 17, 2017) and many that Strzok and Page had with persons other than each other. Approximately 9,311 text messages that were sent or received during the period of collection tool failure were recovered from Strzok's S5 phone, of which approximately 8,358 were sent to or received from PageApproximately 10,760 text messages that were sent or received during the period of collection tool failure were recovered from Page's S5 phone, of which approximately 9,717 were sent to or received from Strzok. Thus, many of the text messages recovered from Strzok's S5 were also recovered from Page's S5. However, some of the Strzok-Page text messages were only recovered from Strzok's phone while others were only recovered from Page's phone. -OIG Report 

In August 2016, Strzok and Page discussed an "insurance policy" in the event that Trump won the election which many believe to be in reference to operation Crossfire Hurricane - the DOJ's counterintelligence investigation into Trump and his campaign. 

"I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy's office - that there's no way he [Trump] gets elected - but I'm afraid we can't take that risk." wrote Strzok, adding "It's like a life insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40." 

In the home stretch of the 2016 US election, Strzok is fuming at Trump - texting Page: " I am riled up. Trump is a f*cking idiot, is unable to provide a coherent answer." He then texts "I CAN'T PULL AWAY, WHAT THE F*CK HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY (redacted)??!?!," to which Page replies "I don't know. But we'll get it back."

No wonder Strzok's iPhone was allowed to be scrubbed!

Mueller will testify in front of two House committees on July 17 in an open setting. 

Published:6/26/2019 1:55:56 PM
[Markets] Florida City Pays $600,000 Bitcoin Ransom To Hackers After Ransomware Attack

The Florida City of Riviera Beach paid a $600,000 to hackers who took over its computer system in a ransomware extortion operation, paralyzing the city's operations, according to the Palm Beach Post

Riviera Beach City Hall (photo: Melanie Bell, Palm Beach Post)

Everyone from the city council on down was been left without email and phone service. Paychecks that were supposed to be direct-deposited to employee bank accounts instead had to be hand-printed by finance department staffers working overtime. Police searched their closets to find paper tickets for issuing traffic citations.

...

In a meeting Monday night announced only days before, the board voted 5-0 to authorize the city insurer to pay 65 bitcoins, a hard-to-track cryptocurrency valued at approximately $592,000. An additional $25,000 would come out of the city budget, to cover its policy deductible. Without discussion on the merits, the board tackled the agenda item in two minutes, voted and moved on. -Palm Beach Post

The Riviera Beach City Council unanimously voted last week to meet the hackers' demands, after the Palm Beach suburb's records were encrypted. The counsel had previously voted to spend $1 million on computer upgrades three weeks ago. 

According to the Post, the FBI and DHS are investigating the attack, which began after someone in the police department opened an infected email on May 29.

"This whole thing is so new to me and so foreign and it’s almost where I can’t even believe that this happens but I’m learning that it’s not as uncommon as we would think it is," said Council Chairwoman KaShamba Miller-Anderson in a Wednesday statement. "Every day I’m learning how this even operates, because it just sounds so far fetched to me." 

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, ransomware is the fastest growing malware threat, targeting both individuals and organizations. In 2018, the massive "SamSam" virus disrupted the flight information system, baggage displays and email at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, while another attack crippled computers at the Port of San Diego. 

City governments in Atlanta, Newark, N.J., and Sarasota, Fla., also have been hit by ransomware schemes. And hackers have taken the information systems of dozens of U.S. hospitals hostage. -CBS

The Atlanta attack cost the city an estimated $17 million, according to VICE, while the Palm Beach County village of Palm Springs paid an undisclosed amount to hackers after being hit in 2018 - yet still lost two years of data according to the Post

"Ransomware is commonly delivered through phishing emails or via 'drive-by downloads," according to Homeland Security, adding "Phishing emails often appear as though they have been sent from a legitimate organization or someone known to the victim and entice the user to click on a malicious link or open a malicious attachment." 

 

Published:6/23/2019 4:37:17 PM
[Markets] Background Checks Violate Property Rights

Authored by Benedict LaRosa via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

In the early 1990s, I accompanied a friend and his 12-year-old son to a local gun show. My friend wished to purchase a .22 caliber rifle with which to teach his son to shoot safely and effectively. After much browsing, he found one at a reasonable price, one that suited both his needs and those of his son. The seller, a federally licensed firearms dealer, handed my friend an ATF Form 4473 to fill out. When my friend asked him why he had to fill out the form, the dealer answered that he could not purchase the weapon without doing so.

At this point I inserted myself into the conversation. I told the dealer that the restriction was not on my friend, who was free to purchase firearms without filling out anything, but upon him. As a dealer, he had accepted a license from the federal government to engage in the business of buying and selling firearms and was thus subject to the terms of that license. One of the terms was that he could not sell them to anyone who didn’t fill out the ATF Form 4473. In addition, the dealer has to keep the form on file for inspection by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF). The same is true for the background check; it is imposed on the dealer as a condition of his license.

The Democratic Party-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has introduced a bill to force everyone to undergo a background check to sell, purchase, transfer, loan, or otherwise exchange firearms, which would require anyone wishing to do so to find a dealer and pay him to do the paperwork involved. This is an added and unnecessary expense especially for people living in rural areas where guns are borrowed, sold, or traded routinely, and where there may not be a licensed dealer within a reasonable drive. Such people would find it difficult, if not impossible, to comply.

More important, Congress has no jurisdiction over the private property of individuals. Therefore, the requirements of that license cannot apply to them. Since the acquisition and disposal of property is a fundamental right, no one needs government permission to acquire or dispose of his legally acquired property. As Armen A. Alchian (1914–2013), professor of economics at the UCLA and who is often called “the Armenian Adam Smith,” pointed out in his article “Property Rights”: “A property right is the exclusive authority to determine how a resource is used…. A private property right includes the right to delegate, rent, or sell any portion of the rights by exchange or gift at whatever price the owner determines…. Private property rights are the rights of humans to use specified goods and to exchange them.”

If passed, this would set a dangerous precedent, for if government has the authority to impose a background check for guns, it can impose a background check to purchase, sell, transfer, or loan privately owned cars, cell phones, homes, or anything else. Our system of justice operates on precedent. This is why the question posed to all federal judicial appointees during their confirmation hearings is whether they will respect and uphold precedent. Once a precedent is set, it is easy to expand the coverage of a law or pass similar legislation based on that precedent. An example is Medicare. It started as medical coverage for the elderly. Now try arguing against Medicare for all. The precedent was set by the first Medicare law. If the federal government has the authority to pass Medicare for some, it has authority to pass Medicare for all. The same is true of gun laws. If government can dictate under what conditions you may acquire and dispose of firearms, it can later use the same precedent to tell you how to acquire and dispose of any other piece of personal property.

So far, background checks have done little, if anything, to curb gun violence. Criminals and those with criminal intent obtain guns regardless. All background checks do is irritate legitimate buyers, raise the cost of gun ownership, encourage government usurpation, put buyers in legal jeopardy, and form the basis for gun registration, which inevitably leads to confiscation.

If the intent is truly to make it more difficult for prohibited persons to acquire firearms, it could be done easily, without placing economic and other burdens on anyone, or violating their rights. Right now, the check is done by the FBI through licensed dealers, at the expense of the gun purchaser, with the purchaser’s Social Security number exposed to strangers. Instead, the state could simply put the list of prohibited persons – updated at its discretion – on its website so that anyone can determine who may purchase a firearm. Criminals wouldn’t use the site any more than they will comply with a universal background check law. Law-abiding gun owners would gladly use this system because they have an incentive to keep firearms out of the hands of prohibited persons, for they may be their future victim.

Although it has not stopped Congress from passing gun-control legislation in the past, it is still important to understand, and worth repeating, that there is no authority in the U.S. Constitution for gun control under any pretext. There is also a strongly worded prohibition against it in the Second Amendment. But until enough of us are willing to hold our elected representatives accountable for violating their oath of office and usurping authority, they will continue to encroach upon our rights while making us pay for our own bondage.

We would be wise to learn the lesson of history regarding precedents and usurped power:

“The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.” – James Madison, 1785

“Precedents do not stop where they begin, but, however, narrow the path upon which they enter, they create for themselves a highway whereon they may wander with the utmost latitude .” —Velleius Paterculus, Roman historian, (19 BC-31 AD)

Published:6/21/2019 7:55:24 PM
[Markets] It's Not Over: Judge Approves Special Prosecutor For Jussie Smollett Case In Nautical Smackdown

A Chicago judge on Friday used a nautical analogy to approve a special prosecutor to review how Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx handled the Jussie Smollett case. 

The "Empire" actor, who faked a hate crime in order to boost his career and denigrate Trump supporters, avoided prosecution after Foxx's office dropped all criminal charges against him in a dramatic 11th hour announcement in March. The actor forfeited $10,000 in bail and performed 16 hours of community service at Rev. Jesse Jackson's "Rainbow/Push" headquarters over two days. 

Cook County Judge Michael P. Toobin wrote on Friday;

Jussie Smollett's case is truly unique among the countless prosecutions heard in this building. A case that purported to have been brought and supervised by a prosecutor serving in the stead of our duly elected State's attorney, who in fact was appointed to a fictitious office having no legal existence. It is also a case that deviated from the statutory mandate requiring the appointment of a special prosecutor in cases where the State's Attorney is recused. And finally, it is a case where based upon similar factual scenarios, resulting dispositions and judgments have been deemed void and held for naught. 

Here, the ship of the State ventured from its protected harbor without the guiding hand of its captain. There was no master on the bridge to guide the ship as it floundered through uncharted waters. And it ultimately lost its bearings. As with that ship, in the case at hand:

  • There was no duly elected State's Attorney when Jussie Smollett was arrested;
  • There was no State's Attorney when Smollett was initially charged; 
  • There was no State's Attorney when Smollett's case was presented to the grand jury, nor when he was indicted; 
  • There was no State's Attorney when Smollett was arraigned and entered his plea of not guilty; and
  • There was no State's Attorney in the courtroom when the proceedings were nolle prossed (dismissed) -Judge Michael P. Toobin

As such, Toobin said that "Adherence to the long-standing principles discussed herein mandates that a special prosecutor be appointed to conduct an independent investigation of the actions of any person or office involved in all aspects of the case," adding that "if reasonable grounds exist to further prosecute Smollett, in the interest of justice the special prosecutor may take such action as may be appropriate to effectuate that result."

Chicago PD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted in response to Friday's news that the department stands "firmly behind the work of detectives in investigating the fabricated incident reported by Jussie Smollett," adding that they will "fully cooperate with the court appointed special prosecutor."

Controversy erupted in March when texts and emails released by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office revealed that Michelle Obama's former Chief of Staff, Tina Tchen, attempted to have the case transferred to the FBI from the Chicago Police. 

"Spoke to the Superintendent Johnson," Foxx emailed Tchen on Feb. 1, in reference to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. "I convinced him to Reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation." 

Foxx also texted with one of Smollett's relatives whose name was redacted from the text release, saying: "Spoke to the superintendent earlier, he made the ask ... Trying to figure out logistics. I’ll keep you posted." 

Foxx said she recused herself from the case after having conversations with one of Smollett’s relatives before he was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly faking a hate crime against himself.

Foxx’s top deputy, First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats, took over the case, and prosecutors ended up dropping all charges a month after Smollett was arrested, after the “Empire” actor performed 16 hours of community service, and agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bail, but did not admit guilt.

Hundreds of emails and text messages later released by Foxx’s office showed two weeks before the charges were dropped, Foxx texted her staff, dismissing him as a “washed-up celeb who lied to cops,” and telling them he was being charged too harshly. -CBS2 Chicago

Meanwhile, Smollett was kicked off of Empire, while Fox announced that the next season will be its last. 

Published:6/21/2019 11:53:21 AM
[Crime] The Case Against Paul Manafort Likely Fruit Of The Poisonous Tree

The following article, The Case Against Paul Manafort Likely Fruit Of The Poisonous Tree, was first published on Godfather Politics.

Paul Solomon found a document that the FBI knew contained false information, but used it to get the search warrant against Paul Manafort anyway.

Continue reading: The Case Against Paul Manafort Likely Fruit Of The Poisonous Tree ...

Published:6/21/2019 10:28:17 AM
[Markets] Escobar: Brazilgate Is Turning Into Russiagate 2.0

Authored by Pepe Escobar via ConsortiumNews.com,

The Intercept‘s bombshell about Brazilian corruption is being ludicrously spun by the country’s media and military as a “Russian conspiracy"...

It was a leak, not a hack. Yes: Brazilgate, unleashed by a series of game-changing bombshells published by The Intercept, may be turning into a tropical Russiagate.

The Intercept’s Deep Throat – an anonymous source — has finally revealed in detail what anyone with half a brain in Brazil already knew: that the judicial/lawfare machinery of the one-sided Car Wash anti-corruption investigation was in fact a massive farce and criminal racket bent on accomplishing four objectives.

  • Create the conditions for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 and the subsequent ascension of her VP, elite-manipulated puppet, Michel Temer.

  •  Justify the imprisonment of former president Lula in 2018 – just as he was set to win the latest presidential election in a landslide. 

  • Facilitate the ascension of the Brazilian extreme-right via Steve Bannon asset (he calls him “Captain”) Jair Bolsonaro.

  • Install former judge Sergio Moro as a justice minister on steroids capable of enacting a sort of Brazilian Patriot Act – heavy on espionage and light on civil liberties.

Moro, side by side with prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, who was leading the Public Ministry’s 13-strong task force, are the vigilante stars of the lawfare racket. Over the past four years, hyper-concentrated Brazilian mainstream media, floundering in a swamp of fake news, duly glorified these two as Captain Marvel-worthy national heroes. Hubris finally caught up with the swamp.

The Brazilian Goodfellas

The Intercept has promised to release all the files in its possession; chats, audio, videos and pics, a treasure trove allegedly larger than Snowden’s. What has been published so far reveals Moro/Dallagnol as a strategic duo in synch, with Moro as a capo di tutti i capi, judge, jury and executioner rolled into one – replete with serial fabrications of evidence. This, in itself, is enough to nullify all the Car Wash cases in which he was involved – including Lula’s prosecution and successive convictions based on “evidence” that would never hold up in a serious court.

Moro: Installed as justice minister.
(Wikipedia/Marcos Oliveira/Agência Senado.)

In conjunction with a wealth of gory details, the Twin Peaks principle — the owls are not what they seem — fully applies to Brazilgate. Because the genesis of Car Wash involves none other than the United States government (USG). And not only the Department of Justice (DoJ) – as Lula has been stressing for years in every one of his interviews. The op was Deep State at its lowest.

WikiLeaks had already revealed itfrom the start, when the NSA started spying on energy giant Petrobras and even Rousseff’s smart phone. In parallel, countless nations and individuals have learned how the DoJ’s self-attributed extraterritoriality allows it to go after anyone, anyhow, anywhere.

It has never been about anti-corruption. Instead this is American “justice” interfering in the full geopolitical and geo-economic spheres. The most glaring, recent case, is Huawei’s.

Yet Mafiosi Moro/Dallagnol’s “malign behavior” (to invoke Pentagonese) reached a perverse new level in destroying the national economy of a powerful emerging nation, a BRICS member and acknowledged leader across the Global South.

Car Wash ravaged the chain of energy production in Brazil, which in turn generated the sale – below market prizes – of plenty of valuable pre-salt oil reserves, the biggest oil discovery of the 21stcentury.

Car Wash destroyed Brazilian national champions in engineering and civil construction as well as aeronautics (as in Boeing buying Embraer). And Car Wash fatally compromised important national security projects such as the construction of nuclear submarines,

essential for the protection of the “Blue Amazon”.

For the Council of Americas – which Bolsonaro visited back in 2017 – as well as the Council on Foreign Relations—not to mention the “foreign investors”–to have neoliberal Chicago boy Paulo Guedes installed as finance minister was a wet dream. Guedes promised on the record to virtually put all of Brazil for sale. So far, his stint has been an unmitigated failure.

How to Wag the Dog

Mafiosi Moro/Dallagnol were “only a pawn in their game,” to quote Bob Dylan– a game both were oblivious to.

Lula has repeatedly stressed that the key question – for Brazil and the Global South – is sovereignty. Under Bolsonaro, Brazil has been reduced to the status of a banana neo-colony – with plenty of bananas. Leonardo Attuch, editor of the leading portal Brasil247, says “the plan was to destroy Lula, but what was destroyed was the nation.”

As it stands, the BRICS – a very dirty word in the Beltway – have lost their “B”. As much as they may treasure Brazil in Beijing and Moscow, what is delivering for the moment is the “RC” strategic partnership, although Putin and Xi are also doing their best to revive “RIC”, trying to show India’s Modi that Eurasian integration is the way to go, not playing a supporting role in Washington’s fuzzy Indo-Pacific strategy.

Dallagnol: Serial fabricator. (Wikimedia Commons/José Cruz/Agência Brasil)

And that brings us to the heart of the Brazilgate matter: how Brazil is the coveted prize in the master strategic narrative that conditions everything happening in the geopolitical chessboard for the foreseeable future—the no-holds-barred confrontation between the U.S. and Russia-China.

Already in the Obama era, the U.S. Deep State had identified that to cripple BRICS from the inside, the “weak” strategic node was Brazil. And yes; once again it’s the oil, stupid.

Brazil’s pre-salt oil reserves may be worth as much as a staggering $30 trillion. The point is not only that the USG wants a piece of the action; the point is how controlling most of Brazil’s oil ties up with interfering with powerful agribusiness interests. For the Deep State, control of Brazil’s oil flow to agribusiness equals containment/leverage against China.

The U.S., Brazil and Argentina, together, produce 82 percent of the world’s soybeans – and counting. China craves soybeans. These won’t come from Russia or Iran – which on the other hand may supply China with enough oil and natural gas (see, for instance, Power of Siberia I and II). Iran, after all, is one of the pillars of Eurasian integration. Russia may eventually become a soybean export power, but that may take as long as ten years.

The Brazilian military knows that close relations with China – their top trade partner, ahead of the U.S. — are essential, whatever Steve Bannon may rant about. But Russia is a completely different story. Vice-President Hamilton Mourao, in his recent visit to Beijing, where he met with Xi Jinping, sounded like he was reading from a Pentagon press release, telling Brazilian media that Russia is a “malign actor” deploying “hybrid war around the world.”

So the U.S. Deep State may be accomplishing at least part of the ultimate goal: to use Brazil in its Divide et Impera strategy of splitting the Russia-China strategic partnership.

It gets much spicier. Car Wash reconditioned as Leak Wash could also be decoded as a massive shadow play; a wag the dog, with the tail composed of two American assets.

Moro was a certified FBI, CIA, DoJ, Deep State asset. His uber-boss would ultimately be Robert Mueller (thus Russiagate). Yet for Team Trump, he would be easily expendable – even if he’s Captain Justice working under the real asset, Bannon boy Bolsonaro. If he falls, Moro would be assured the requisite golden parachute – complete with U.S. residency and talks in American universities.

The Intercept’s Greenwald is now celebrated by all strands of the Left as a sort of American/Brazilian Simon Bolivar on steroids – with and in may cases without any irony. Yet there’s a huge problem. The Intercept is owned by hardcore information-war practitioner Pierre Omidyar.

Whose Hybrid War?

The crucial question ahead is what the Brazilian military are really up to in this epic swamp – and how deep they are subordinated to Washington’s Divide et Impera.

It revolves around the all-powerful Cabinet of Institutional Security, known in Brazil by its acronym GSI. GSI stalwarts are all Washington consensus. After the “communist” Lula/Dilma years, these guys are now consolidating a Brazilian Deep State overseeing full spectrum political control, just like in the U.S..

GSI already controls the whole intel apparatus, as well as Foreign Policy and Defense, via a decree surreptitiously released in early June, only a few days before The Intercept’s bombshell. Even Captain Marvel Moro is subjected to the GSI; they must approve, for instance, everything Moro discusses with the DoJ and the U.S. Deep State.

As I’ve discussed with some of my top informed Brazilian interlocutors, crack anthropologist Piero Leirner, who knows in detail how the military think, and Swiss-based international lawyer and UN adviser Romulus Maya, the U.S. Deep Stateseems to be positioning itself as the spawning mechanism for the direct ascension of the Brazilian military to power, as well as their guarantors. As in, if you don’t follow our script to the letter – basic trade relations only with China; and isolation of Russia – we can swing the pendulum anytime.

After all, the only practical role the USG would see for the Brazilian military – in fact for all Latin America military – is as “war on drugs” shock troops.

Intercept Exclusive: Brazilian Judge in Car Wash Corruption Case Mocked Lula’s Defense and Secretly Directed Prosecutors’ Media Strategy During Trial.

There is no smoking gun – yet. But the scenario of Leak Wash as part of an extremely sophisticated, full spectrum dominance psyops, an advanced stage of Hybrid War, must be seriously considered.

For instance, the extreme-right, as well as powerful military sectors and the Globo media empire suddenly started spinning that The Intercept bombshell is a “Russian conspiracy.”

When one follows the premier military think tank website– featuring loads of stuff virtually copy and pasted straight from the U.S. Naval War College – it’s easy to be startled at how they fervently believe in a Russia-China Hybrid War against Brazil, where the beachhead is provided by “anti-national elements” such as the Left as a whole, Venezuelan Bolivarians, FARC, Hezbollah, LGBT, indigenous peoples, you name it.

After Leak Wash, a concerted fake news blitzkrieg blamed the Telegram app (“they are evil Russians!”) for hacking Moro and Dallagnol’s phones. Telegram officially debunked it in no time.

Then it surfaced that former president Dilma Rousseff and the current Workers’ Party president Gleisi Hoffmann paid a “secret” visit to Moscow only five days before the Leak Wash bombshell. I confirmed the visit with the Duma, as well as the fact that for the Kremlin, Brazil, at least for the moment, is not a priority. Eurasian integration is. That in itself debunks what the extreme-right in Brazil would spin as Dilma asking for Putin’s help, who then released his evil hackers.

Leak Wash – Car Wash’s season two – may be following the Netflix and HBO pattern. Remember that season three of True Detective was an absolute smash. We need Mahershala Ali-worthy trackers to sniff out patches of evidence suggesting the Brazilian military – with the full support of the U.S. Deep State – might be instrumentalizing a mix of Leak Wash and “the Russians” Hybrid War to criminalize the Left for good and orchestrate a silent coup to get rid of the Bolsonaro clan and their sub-zoology collective IQ. They want total control – no clownish intermediaries. Will they be biting more bananas than they can chew?

Published:6/20/2019 11:29:58 PM
[Markets] The Most Farcical Sections Of Hope Hicks' Closed-Door Testimony Revealed

Less than 24 hours after former Trump aide Hope Hicks testified (compelled to do so by subpoena) in a closed-door interview with the House Judiciary Committee, the transcript, which stretches 273 pages long, has been released.

Hicks and Nadler arriving for the testimony yesterday...

While the transcript confirms White House lawyers repeatedly blocking her from answering questions about her work in the administration - a tactic that infuriated Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday - it also details the farcical circus sideshow this whole spectacle has become with the committee chair forgetting Ms. Hicks' name, one congressman live-tweeting the "closed-door" interview, another urging speculation and a final Democratic lawmaker accidentally admitting the DNC emails were "leaked" not "hacked."

Nadler forgets Hicks' name... twice...

pp20

Chairman Nadler. Ms. Lewandowski -- sorry -- Ms. Hicks...

pp25

Chairman Nadler. Yeah. Ms. Lewandowski, I think, in reading this --

Ms. Hicks. My name is Ms. Hicks.

Chairman Nadler. I'm sorry, Ms. Hicks. I'm preoccupied.

Speak Up!

pp44-45

Mr. Gaetz. Ms. Jackson Lee, while Ms. Hicks is speaking with her counsel, I just want to let you know of a dynamic back here on the back row. We're having a little bit of a hard time hearing, and so if you guys could get right up on the microphone. And then there's a good amount of sort of murmuring and people shuffling in the row directly in front of us. It's probably Mr. Cicilline.
But if we could --

Mr. Cicilline. Gasping in disbelief.

Mrs. Demings. You can't hear anybody speaking, so if everybody could speak up.

Ms. Jackson Lee. Mr. Gaetz, I will speak as loudly as I possibly can. Can you hear me now?

Mr. Gaetz. Yes, ma'am. Thank you. We're all the better for it.

"Leaked" DNC Emails... a smoking gun?

p58

Mr. Neguse. Did Mr. Trump during the campaign ever tell you that he had knowledge that additional information would be released with respect to the leaks or -- excuse me -- the hacks done by WikiLeaks and so forth?

Pure Speculation

pp69

Mr. Gohmert. And I know you don't want to speculate, but I'm really curious. Now you've been through a great deal on behalf of your country. I can't help but be curious, if you had known the hell that you would be put through as a result of the Clinton campaign hiring a foreign agent to get information from Russians and that people within the FBI and the DOJ and potentially intel would be working against the President, would you still have gone to work for the President?

Ms. Hicks. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity I had to serve, and, yes, I would do it all over again.

Mr. Gohmert. Even knowing you had to hire these lawyers?

Ms. Hicks. Even knowing that. I would do anything to make a positive contribution for our country, and I'm very grateful I had that opportunity. I'm proud of my service, and I thank all of you for your service as well.

Mr. Gohmert. Well, thank you for your service.

Media helped Clinton... happy their campaign had issues...

pp105

Mr. Cicilline. ...you would agree, would you not, Ms. Hicks, that the campaign, the Trump campaign, benefited from the hacked information on Hillary Clinton? Is that a fair statement?

Ms. Hicks. No more so than the Clinton campaign benefited from the media helping them and providing information about Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cicilline. Okay. But you agree, though, I think, in that question, that the Trump campaign benefited from the hacked information on Hillary Clinton.

Ms. Hicks. I don't know what the direct impact was.

Mr. Cicilline. Okay. You would agree that the campaign was happy to receive information damaging to Hillary Clinton, correct?

Ms. Hicks. I think that "happy" is not -- I don't think that's a fair characterization. I think "relief that we weren't the only campaign with issues" is more accurate.

"Chaos" sown by Steele Dossier

pp165

“I'm asking you this based on your experience and the expertise you've developed, would you take foreign oppo information from a foreign government, if that were offered when working on a political campaign?” Norm Eisen, one of the committee lawyers, asked Hicks.

“You know, knowing how much chaos has been sowed as a result of something like the Steele dossier, no, I would not,” Hicks responded.

"Lieu Is live-tweeting this..."

pp72

Mr. Collins. Could I just -- I apologize, and I know we talked about this before. And we'll stop the clock, we'll give you a full hour. But it's also been discussed in here that this was -- and the chairman made a great elaborate statement as we started this about being confidential and keeping that through the day.

But Mr. Lieu is live-tweeting this. So I mean, if he's willing to break his own chairman, I want it noted for the record that the Member of the Democratic Party in this committee is live-tweeting what his own chairman had asked him to keep confidential.

Now, if this is the way we want to play it, we've now proven that this is nothing but a political stunt. It is a press avail opportunity. And if Mr. Lieu would like to go outside and testify to the press, that's fine. But simply doing this like it is, it's a mockery.

Mr. Lieu. I've been live-tweeting their objections because they are so absurd.

Mr. Collins. Did you have trouble understanding the chairman?

Republican lawmakers were just as furious at Democratic games as the Democrats were that Hicks gave them no smoking gun - just as she hadn't during her lengthy interviews with Mr. Mueller.

"Preposterous Proceeding"

pp69

Mr. Gaetz. I have no questions for Ms. Hicks, but it seems worth noting for the record that this is a preposterous proceeding. The special counsel had an unlimited budget, an unlimited amount of time, 19 prosecutors, dozens of Federal agents, over 2,000 witness statements, over 500 subpoenas, and the concept that a dozen or so Members of Congress are going to sit around with Ms. Hicks over the course of a day and uncover some fact that was left out of the Mueller report belies any common sense.

And given that we are now through the majority's first hour and they have not uncovered a single fact from Ms. Hicks that was not evident in the Mueller report, it seems indicative that this is largely about posturing and not about any development of any facts.

"This is really a farce... the Majority should get back to work"

pp69-70

Mr. Biggs. Thank you. Andy Biggs from Arizona's Fifth Congressional District. I thank you for being here today, Ms. Hicks.

And I will say Mr. Gaetz took a lot of my statement, but I will -- I want to add on to something, one aspect of this. In reviewing the Mueller report, you will find that Ms. Hicks' testimony or 302s have been referenced 27 times, extensively and exhaustively, in the Mueller report.

In fact, the majority keeps wanting you to read what you were quoted as saying in the Mueller report or other quotations from the Mueller report.

This is really a farce, quite frankly. It's a waste of your time, it's a waste of our time. Because what we see here is the majority wants to relitigate the Mueller investigation. And they believe that the extensive resources that were expended on the Mueller investigation, including the 22 months that it took, the countless interviews, the subpoenas, 1.4 million documents reviewed -- and I keep waiting for them to expand their -- expand what they want to do here.

But we're going to bring you in. They're going to ask you questions that they know that you can't answer. And it's, quite frankly, it's an abuse of process, quite frankly, an abuse of the congressional process.

And so, I've called on my colleagues on the majority to get back to work, get back to work.

One more Hicks photo... because 'Murica.

The full transcript is below:

Published:6/20/2019 7:54:08 PM
[Markets] Trump Says DOJ Investigating Whether Obama Tapped His Phone

President Trump on Wednesday said that DOJ investigators are probing whether the Obama administration secretly monitored his telephone communications - a possibility he referred to as "the ultimate," according to Fox News

"The fact is, they were spying on my campaign, using intelligence agencies to do it. ... We're trying to figure out whether they listened to my calls. That would be the ultimate. We'll see what happens. If that happens, we'll probably find out. If they spied on my campaign and they may have, it will be one of the great revelations in history of this country. It will be very interesting. I think we're gonna find out," said Trump. 

Appearing on Hannity, Trump covered a wide range of subjects related to the 2016 election. 

"Take a look at Ukraine," Trump said, possibly in reference to a Wednesday article by The Hill's John Solomon claiming the FBI knew that Paul Manafort's so-called "Black Ledger" was likely bogus - yet used it anyway to obtain a search warrant on the former Trump campaign manager. 

A Ukrainian court ruled in December that senior officials meddled in the 2016 US election when they revealed the alleged existence of the Black Ledger, while in 2017 Politico reported that Ukrainian officials hated Trump - working behind the scenes to try and secure a victory for Hillary Clinton. 

Trump told Hannity the episode was hardly surprising, given that the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee (DNC), through the firm Fusion GPS, funded British ex-spy Christopher Steele's creation of an unverified and largely discredited dossier. The FBI went on to cite the dossier in secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court applications to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page.

"I think it's a disgrace," Trump said.

Numerous issues with the Steele dossier's reliability have surfaced, including several that were brought to the FBI's attention before it cited the dossier in its FISA application and subsequent renewals. Mueller's report made plain, for example, that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen did not travel to Prague to conspire with Russian hackers seeking to access Democrat files, as the dossier alleged. -Fox News

So the FBI reportedly knew that both the Steele Dossier and the Black Ledger were dubious accounts - yet used them anyway in violation of FBI policy. 

Meanwhile, Trump railed against Congressional Democrats for putting his former communication adviser Hope Hicks "through hell" as she testified in a closed-door session on Capitol Hill earlier Wednesday. 

"What's happened to the Democrats -- and in the meantime, they're not doing any work in Congress," Trump told Sean Hannity, calling the party "unhinged."

"They're not allowed to do that. It's probably illegal," Trump said, referring to the leaked pictures of Hicks. Some Democrats complained that Hicks, in her appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, was ordered by the White House to stay quiet about her time as an aide to Trump, citing legal privileges. -Fox News

Watch: 

Published:6/20/2019 5:19:42 PM
[World] Key Words: Dominican Republic health official calls rash of tourist deaths ‘fake news’  The FBI is investigating three of the nine American deaths that have occurred there in the past year
Published:6/20/2019 4:21:18 PM
[] Shock: The FBI Used Another "Dossier" It Did Not Verify and In Fact Was Specifically Warned Might be Fake, to Start an Investigation into Paul Manafort Remember, it was critical to Hillary Clinton that the FBI have active investigations opened into the Trump campaign, because she had a high profile investigation into her own actions, and she desperately needed to be able to play the They... Published:6/20/2019 3:49:12 PM
[Markets] FBI Ignored Repeated Warnings That Manafort 'Black Ledger' Might Be Fake

Just when you thought the Steele dossier was the only piece of "garbage" intel the FBI relied on in its efforts against the Trump campaign, The Hill's John Solomon reveals that Ukrainian officials thought Paul Manafort's "black cash ledger" was likely a fake which should not be relied on. 

The ledger, which was reported in 2016 and resulted in Manafort's resignation from the Trump campaign, purported to show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Manafort from former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's political party between 2007 and 2012. 

The FBI relied on this ledger to obtain search warrant affidavits "months after the feds were warned repeatedly that the document couldn't be trusted and was likely a fake," according to Solomon, who cites documents and over a dozen interviews. 

For example, Ukraine’s top anticorruption prosecutor, Nazar Kholodnytsky, told me he warned the U.S. State Department’s law enforcement liaison and multiple FBI agents in late summer 2016 that Ukrainian authorities who recovered the ledger believed it likely was a fraud. -The Hill

"It was not to be considered a document of Manafort. It was not authenticated. And at that time it should not be used in any way to bring accusations against anybody," said Kholodnytsky, who says he told FBI agents the same thing. 

Manafort's Ukranian business partner, Konstantin Kilimnik - a longtime State Department informant - told the US government that the ledger was probably a fake shortly after an August 2016 article about it appeared in the New York Times

Kilimnik said in an August 2016 email to a senior US official that Manafort "could not have possibly taken large amounts of cash across three borders. It was always a different arrangement — payments were in wire transfers to his companies, which is not a violation," adding "I have some questions about this black cash stuff, because those published records do not make sense. The timeframe doesn’t match anything related to payments made to Manafort. … It does not match my records. All fees Manafort got were wires, not cash."

What's more, Mueller's team and the FBI had copies of Kilimnik's warning according to the report. 

Solomon points out that the FBI may have violated its own rules by knowingly submitting false or suspect evidence in a federal court proceeding. According to the FBI operating manual, "To establish probable cause, the affiant must demonstrate a basis for knowledge and belief that the facts are true." 

WTF?

While neither Mueller nor the FBI cited the actual ledger, they cited media reports about it, and relied on those stories as sources.

For example, agents mentioned the ledger in an affidavit supporting a July 2017 search warrant for Manafort’s house, citing it as one of the reasons the FBI resurrected the criminal case against Manafort.

“On August 19, 2016, after public reports regarding connections between Manafort, Ukraine and Russia — including an alleged ‘black ledger’ of off-the-book payments from the Party of Regions to Manafort — Manafort left his post as chairman of the Trump Campaign,” the July 25, 2017, FBI agent’s affidavit stated.

Three months later, the FBI went further in arguing probable cause for a search warrant for Manafort’s bank records, citing a specific article about the ledger as evidence Manafort was paid to perform U.S. lobbying work for the Ukrainians.

“The April 12, 2017, Associated Press article reported that DMI [Manafort’s company] records showed at least two payments were made to DMI that correspond to payments in the 'black ledger,' ” an FBI agent wrote in a footnote to the affidavit. -The Hill

According to liberal law professor, Alan Dershowitz, citing news articles is almost never done. "They are supposed to cite the primary evidence and not secondary evidence," he said, adding "It sounds to me like a fraud on the court, possibly a willful and deliberate fraud that should have consequences for both the court and the attorneys’ bar." 

What's more, Solomon reports that both the FBI agent cited in the the AP article failed to disclose to FBI officials and DOJ prosecutor Andrew Weissman - later Mueller's 'legal pit bull' - that he met with the AP reporters the day before the story was published, and that he assisted with the story. 

According to FBI records of the April 11, 2017 meeting, the AP reporters "were advised that they appeared to have a good understanding of Manafort’s business dealings" in Ukraine. 

So, essentially, the FBI cited a leak that the government had facilitated and then used it to support the black ledger evidence, even though it had been clearly warned about the document.

Secondly, the FBI was told the ledger claimed to show cash payments to Manafort when, in fact, agents had been told since 2014 that Manafort received money only by bank wires, mostly routed through the island of Cyprus, memos show. 

During the 2014 investigation, Manafort and his partner Richard Gates voluntarily identified for FBI agents tens of millions of dollars they received from Ukrainian and Russian sources and the shell companies and banks that wired the money. “Gates stated that the amounts they received would match the amounts they invoiced for services. Gates added they were always paid late, and in tranches,” FBI memos I obtained show. -The Hill

The best evidence that the FBI knew the black ledger was a sham? They never presented it in Manafort's trial. 

On Wednesday night, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) told Solomon that he is asking the DOJ's Inspector General to investigate the Manafort warrants, including media leaks and whether evidence exists that the government knew the black ledger was unreliable evidence

Manafort was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison by two different judges on eight charges of tax and bank fraud, and admitted to ten more charges related to work in Ukraine. 

Published:6/20/2019 10:48:24 AM
[] The Morning Report - 6/20/19 Good morning kids. Thursday and we're loaded with all sorts of juicy stuff guaranteed to make you nutsy-fagin so here we go. First up in the border and immigration crisis, a story that broke late yesterday where the FBI... Published:6/20/2019 6:52:06 AM
[Markets] 10,000 Of The 'World's Best' Spies Operating In Washington DC

Over a million people flood into the nation's capital every day; lawmakers, lobbyists, civil servants, students and tourists - and around 10,000 of the world's best spies

As WTOP's J.J. Green notes in his three-part series on Washington D.C.; "Woven into that orderly bedlam are sophisticated networks of foreign nationals whose sole purpose is to steal secrets.

Green's figure for 10,000 spies comes from the International Spy Museum in D.C. - and while there is "some quabbling about the numbers," the FBI apparently agrees with the premise. 

"It’s unprecedented — the threat from our foreign adversaries, specifically China on the economic espionage and the espionage front," said the FBI's Brian Dugan - Assistant Special Agent in Charge of Counterintelligence in the Washington Field Office. 

"A spy is nondescript. A spy is going to be someone that’s going to be a student in school, a visiting professor, your neighbor. It could be a colleague or someone that shares the soccer field with you," Dugan added. 

The archetypal international spy in Washington for many years has been undercover diplomats and foreign intelligence agency assets.

There are more than 175 foreign embassies, residences, chanceries and diplomatic missions in D.C. Tens of thousands of international students reside in the region. And untold numbers of business people with links to foreign intelligence services flow in and out every day.

The training of highly skilled spies, especially those who work in Washington, makes them virtually invisible to ordinary, unsuspecting people.

Washington, according to current and former U.S. intelligence sources, is normally the place where most countries send their best spies. -WTOP

Longtime CIA covert operative Robert Baer told WTOP that even the best spy chasers have a hard time catching foreign operatives in Washington. 

"Everybody in the espionage business is working undercover. So if they’re in Washington, they’re either in an embassy or they’re a businessman and you can’t tell them apart because they never acknowledge what they’re doing. And they’re good, so they leave no trace of their communications," according to Baer, who added: "With the darknet and various private encryption platforms, algorithms and the rest of it, you can operate right here in Washington, D.C., and if you’re good and you’re disciplined and careful, the FBI will never see it."

Russia Russia Russia

According to Kremlin defector Sergei Tretyakov before his untimely death in 2010, Russia regards the USA as its "main target," where they sent their best assets. 

Retired CIA official and Russia expert John Sipher agrees - telling WTOP in April 2018 that Moscow has hundreds of spies living on American soil

"They have somewhere on the order of 175 to 200 spies in the United States," said Sipher. That said, Green notes that Russia's actual intelligence footprint in the United States is much larger. 

"The Russians are hyper focused on the United States. They see us as their main adversary, the main enemy. All the elements of state power — whether it be their diplomatic service or intelligence services or police services — are focused on the United States, Sipher added." 

Accomplices

According to Baer, one focus of D.C. spies is enlisting the help of Americans willing to break the law to help them. 

"There’s a large population in retirement or getting close to retirement. The baby boomers are all leaving and that population is looking for post-government jobs," said Dugan, adding that foreign spies are using social media and other resources to recruit those with national security and intelligence backgrounds. 

"Of course there’s always going to be moments that we’re going to have people decide to cooperate with the enemy. And we’re going to find them, and we’re going to catch them," said an optimistic Dugan. 

Published:6/19/2019 9:44:22 PM
[Politics] BREAKING! SYRIAN REFUGEE arrested for ISIS TERROR plot in Pittsburgh! Mustafa Mousab Alowemer was arrested in an FBI sting for planning a bomb attack on a church in Pittsburgh. I’m so sick and tired of these Mormon attacks!! Oh wait… that’s not . . . Published:6/19/2019 8:16:53 PM
[Politics] BREAKING! SYRIAN REFUGEE arrested for ISIS TERROR plot in Pittsburgh! Mustafa Mousab Alowemer was arrested in an FBI sting for planning a bomb attack on a church in Pittsburgh. I’m so sick and tired of these Mormon attacks!! Oh wait… that’s not . . . Published:6/19/2019 7:44:46 PM
[Markets] Feds Investigating Suspected Money Laundering Violations At Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank is so consistently mired in scandal that it's almost impossible to keep all of the myriad civil lawsuits and criminal investigations straight. And while Congress ramps up its scrutiny of the embroiled German lender and its ties to the Trump family, the New York Times dropped a lengthy report late Wednesday claiming that federal authorities are leading a wide-ranging money laundering probe into the bank.

The NYT report, which cited a whopping seven people familiar with the investigation. And though the report was surprisingly short on details given its length, it did once again familiarize us to a new character in the Washington drama: Whistleblower Tammy McFadden, who publicly criticized the company’s AML systems.

FB

Anybody who has been following the reporting on DB since the beginning of the year is probably already familiar with the allegedly egregious compliance rule, and the fact that most of the bank's compliance staff were shunted to the Jacksonville Office, where they were treated like they were "one step above custodial staff'.

From what we can tell, McFadden first attracted unwanted attention within the bank when she flagged activity involving Jared Kushner's family back in 2016. The FBI soon became involved, though federal officials reportedly expanded the probe to cover - that's right - activity involving Russian money launderers.

Congress is investigating the Trump angle, and right now, it appears the Feds are looking into other alleged 'misconduct'.

Ms. McFadden, a former compliance specialist at the bank, told The New York Times last month that she had flagged transactions involving Mr. Kushner’s family company in 2016, but that bank managers decided not to file the suspicious activity report she prepared. Some of her colleagues had similar experiences in 2017 involving transactions in the accounts of Mr. Trump’s legal entities, although it was not clear whether the F.B.I. was examining the bank’s handling of those transactions.

The same federal agent who contacted Ms. McFadden’s lawyer also participated in interviews of the son of a deceased Deutsche Bank executive, William S. Broeksmit. Agents told the son, Val Broeksmit, that the Deutsche Bank investigation began with an inquiry into the bank’s work for Russian money launderers and had since expanded to cover a broader array of potential misconduct at the bank and at other financial institutions. One element is the banks’ possible roles in a vast money-laundering scandal at Danish lender Danske Bank, according to people briefed on the investigation.

The Feds have since expanded to cover a broader array of misbehavior - though, again, the exact nature of the investigation isn't quite clear. Several other DB employees, aside from McFaddden, told the NYT that the bank regularly 'rushed' them to finish their reports when they flagged suspicious client activity. To be sure, this investigation is literally the last thing DB needs. After its merger with Commerzbank unraveled, DB promised shareholders that it would finally restructure  and move ahead with large cuts, including shuttering most or all of its US equities business, and other trading businesseslk

The bank is also lumping some €50 billion in toxic assets and businesses into a 'bad bank' as a prelude to the inevitable government bailout.

But while DB struggles with investigations in Europe and Frankfurt over money laundering involving shadowy Russians and wealthy clients of the Panama Papers law firm, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: Expect another wave of expensive settlements to destabilize one of the world's most vulnerable banks.

Published:6/19/2019 4:43:32 PM
[Markets] New Clinton Email Review Reveals 'Multiple Security Incidents' 

The State Department revealed in a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that it had identified "multiple security incidents" committed by current or former employees who handled Hillary Clinton's emails, according to Fox News.

So far 23 "violations" and seven "infractions" have been issued as a part of the department's ongoing investigation - a number that will likely rise according to State Department Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs, Mary Elizabeth Taylor. 

"To this point, the Department has assessed culpability to 15 individuals, some of whom were culpable in multiple security incidents," said Taylor in the letter to Grassley, adding "DS has issued 23 violations and 7 infractions incidents. ... This number will likely change as the review progresses."

Taylor called the matter "serious" and acknowledged that it was time consuming. 

"Given the volume of emails provided to the Department from former Secretary Clinton's private email server, the Department's process has been necessarily more complicated and complex requiring a significant dedication of time and resources," she wrote, saying that the department expects to conclude its investigation by September 1. 

What's the consequence for these "multiple security incidents?" An official slap on the wrist according to the report: 

"In every instance in which the Department found an individual to be culpable of a valid security violation or three or more infractions, the Department forwarded the outcome to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security's Office of Personnel Security and Suitability (DS/PSS), to be placed in the individuals' official security file," wrote Taylor. "All valid security incidents are reviewed by DS and taken into account every time an individual's eligibility for access to classified information is considered."

"This referral occurred whether or not the individual was currently employed with the Department of State and such security files are kept indefinitely, Taylor added. "Consistent with the referral policy, for individuals who were still employed with the Department at the time of adjudication, the Department referred all valid security violations or multiple infractions to the Bureau of Human Resources."

Clinton's private email use has remained in the spotlight, as the DOJ looks into potential misconduct in the handling of federal authorities' surveillance and intelligence operations in 2016. Then-FBI Director James Comey said in 2016 that Clinton's handling of classified information was "extremely careless" -- remarks that were watered down from their original draft -- but that "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring charges.

It emerged earlier this year that then-FBI general counsel James Baker testified that he thought Clinton should have been prosecuted until he was convinced otherwise "pretty late" in the investigation. -Fox News

As former Utah GOP Rep. and current Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz noted, "What's bizarre about this, is in any other situation, there's no possible way they would allow the potential perpetrator to self-select what the FBI gets to see, adding "The FBI should be the one to sort through those emails -- not the Clinton attorneys."

Published:6/18/2019 9:36:59 AM
[Markets] The Rise Of Facial Recognition Should Scare Us All

Authored by Derrick Broze via The Mind Unleashed blog,

It seems the sleeping masses are finally waking to the privacy dangers posed by the rise of facial recognition technology.

In the last ten years, our world has been completely transformed thanks to the exponential growth of digital technology. Technological advances with computer processors and the internet have quickly advanced our world into one that resembles some of the most well known sci-fi films and novels. Not a single day passes without a report on an emerging technology or new feature in an already existing product. The last ten years alone have seen rapid growth in information technology, encryption, the medical industry and 3D printing technology, just to name a few.

Unfortunately, as technology is a tool, there are equally frightening developments taking place in the first two decades of the 21st century. Specifically, the ability for governments and private actors to monitor and spy on the activity of the average person has nearly become accepted as the norm. In fact, it has become commonplace to hear Americans respond to warnings of Orwellian futures with the timeless trope, “If you’re not doing anything wrong, there’s nothing to hide!” This is what makes it all the more surprising to see a surplus of recent reports examining the dangers and implications of a world where facial recognition technology is commonplace.

Here’s a small sample of the current headlines related to facial recognition:

Even the Washington Post published a warning titled “Don’t smile for surveillance: Why airport face scans are a privacy trap.”

Questions surrounding the emerging technology have reached enough of a tipping point that just this week, House Democrats questioned the Department of Homeland Security over the use of facial recognition tech on U.S. citizens. The Hill reported that more than 20 House Democrats sent a letter on Friday to the DHS over the Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) use of facial recognition technology at U.S. airports. The Border Patrol claims that they are rolling out the facial recognition program at a number of airports under a congressional mandate and with an executive order from President Donald Trump. Lawmakers say the program was supposed to focus on foreign passengers, not Americans.

The group of lawmakers wrote:

We write to express concerns about reports that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is using facial recognition technology to scan American citizens under the Biometric Exit Program.”

The letter to DHS comes shortly after a representative with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) the House Oversight and Reform Committee said that the FBI has access to hundreds of millions of photos that are used for facial recognition searches. Gretta Goodwin, a representative with the GAO, said the FBI uses expansive databases of photos—including from driver’s licenses, passports and mugshots—to search for potential criminals. Goodwin noted that the FBI has a database of 36 million mugshots and access to more than 600 million photos, including access to 21 state driver’s license databases.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio reminded Ms. Goodwin that the FBI has access to more photos than there are people in the country. “There are only 330 million people in the country,” Jordan stated.

The TSA was also questioned about their use of facial recognition at airports. Austin Gould, the TSA’s assistant administrator on Requirements and Capabilities Analysis, said the facial recognition program has been helpful for travelers. However, critics say the potential benefits of saved time and reducing passenger volume should not override the greater risk to privacy. The TSA plans to have facial recognition tech at the top 20 airports for international travelers by 2021 and at all airports by 2023. The TSA has also previously expressed their desire to scan the face of every single American who enters the airport.

The push back against facial recognition—and biometric technology in general—has moved beyond words in some areas. Most recently, San Francisco became the first city to ban government use of facial recognition. Due to the success in San Francisco, California lawmakers are considering AB 1215, a bill that would extend the ban across the entire state. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) spoke in favor of the bill, stating that the technology has been shown to have disproportionately high error rates for women, the elderly, and people of color. EFF also warned about the dangers of combining face recognition technology with police body cameras.

The editorial board of the Guardian also recently spoke out about the privacy threats, calling the technology “especially inaccurate and prone to bias.” The editorial board also noted that a recent test of Amazon’s facial recognition software by the American Civil Liberties Union found that it falsely identified 28 members of Congress as known criminal. Although the technology is currently dangerous due to its inaccuracy, the Guardian warns:

It may be too late to stop the collection of this data. But the law must ensure that it is not stored and refined in ways that will harm the innocent and, as Liberty warns, slowly poison our public life.”

It’s clear that the debate on the benefits and threats of facial recognition technology is not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s up to us as individuals to educate ourselves and inform our peers about the threats to privacy and freedom that are becoming increasingly more apparent everyday.

*  *  *

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Published:6/17/2019 6:32:27 PM
[Markets] Trump: "I Think I Know" Who Was Behind 9/11 Attacks

President Trump says he knows who was behind the September 11, 2001 attacks, telling ABC News's George Stephanopoulos "Iraq did not knock down the World Trade Center," adding "It were other people. And I think I know who the other people were. And you might also.

Nearly 3,000 people died when 19 mostly-Saudi terrorists hijacked four passenger planes, flying them into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, while the fourth went down in a Pennsylvania field after passengers allegedly fought back. Astonishingly, the passports of three hijackers were recovered; two at the Pennsylvania crash site, and one from the World Trade Center grounds. While nobody claimed responsibility for the attacks for several months, the NSA and German intelligence reported intercepting communications pointing to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, after which investigators linked the 19 hijackers to the terrorist organization. 

Trump segued from his 9/11 comments into a criticism of America's military intervention in the Middle East, calling it "the worst decision made in the history of our country," and describing the region as "like quicksand." 

"It was a terrible decision to go into the Middle East. Terrible," said Trump, adding "We’re now up to almost $8 trillion. And when we want to build a roadway, a highway, a school, or something, everyone’s always fighting over money. It’s ridiculous. So that was a bad decision."

The US, backed by allies including Britain, invaded Afghanistan, where the terror group was being sheltered. But 9/11 was also used as part of the justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, more than 4,000 Americans and 179 British troops, and contributed to the rise of the Isis terror group. -Independent

Trump came under fire during the 2016 election when he claimed "There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations," adding "They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down." Defending his comments, Trump pointed to a September 18, 2001 Washington Post article which reads "In Jersey City, within hours of two jetliners' plowing into the World Trade Center, law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river."

in April after he tweeted a montage of the 9/11 attacks interspersed between Somali-American Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) downplaying the incident as "some people did something," at a March 23 event for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). 

Also arrested in the aftermath of the attacks were the so-called five "Dancing Israelis" which locals reported were celebrating around New Jersey.

five of the Israelis came to the FBI's attention after they were seen by New Jersey residents on Sept. 11 making fun of the World Trade Center ruins and going to extreme lengths to photograph themselves in front of the wreckage. The FBI seized and developed their photos, one of which shows Sivan Kurzberg flicking a cigarette lighter in front of the smouldering ruins in an apparently celebratory gesture. -Associated Press via Globe and Mail (2001)

In 2002, a "high-ranking American intelligence official" told Forward magazine that the men were "conducting a Mossad surveillance mission" - using their employer, Urban Moving Systems of Weehawken, NJ as a front. According to a 2002 report by ABC News, the FBI suspected the same. 

The driver of the van, Sivan Kurzberg, told the officers, "We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem." The other passengers were his brother Paul Kurzberg, Yaron Shmuel, Oded Ellner and Omer Marmari.

When the men were transferred to jail, the case was transferred out of the FBI's Criminal Division, and into the bureau's Foreign Counterintelligence Section, which is responsible for espionage cases, ABCNEWS has learned.

One reason for the shift, sources told ABCNEWS, was that the FBI believed Urban Moving may have been providing cover for an Israeli intelligence operation. -ABC News (2002)

The Israelis claimed to have been on a "working holiday" in the United States, and were cleared by the FBI to return to Israel. During a media appearance on Israeli TV, one of the men said that they had been in New York at the time to "document the event" according to the 2002 ABC News report. 

In May, the Trump administration complied with a FOIA request to provide redacted black-and-white photos of the men, however they do not appear to shed much additional light. 

Published:6/17/2019 12:31:28 PM
[Markets] Will A False-Flag Iran War Cause A Financial Crisis?

Authored by John Rubino via DollarCollapse.com,

Just a couple of weeks ago the financial world’s biggest worry was the plunging price of oil. Supply was up, stockpiles were building and speculation was pointing towards $40 a barrel, a price at which the fracking/shale oil “miracle” would evaporate. A trillion dollars of related junk debt would default, taking a big part of the leveraged speculating community along for the ride.

Then it all changed. Someone attacked some ships and oil infrastructure in the Middle East, the US and Saudi Arabia accused Iran, and now the fear is that a major regional war will interrupt the flow of oil, sending its price way up and causing a financial crisis at least as severe as a shale oil debt collapse.

This is a legitimate concern, for two reasons.

  • First, oil shocks have happened in the past, most notably during the Arab-Israeli war of the 1970s. So we know what they do, and it isn’t pretty. Gas prices jump, workers can’t afford their commute, the economy slows dramatically and pretty much everyone other than domestic energy companies suffers badly.

  • Second and potentially more serious, the pretext for this war is so blatantly false that it risks destroying what little credibility the US government has left. Think about it: With the US doing everything it can to delegitimize and destabilize Iran while positioning assets for an invasion, Iran’s leaders … start attacking oil tankers in its offshore waters.

Does that make sense? Of course not. Much more likely is that this is yet another false flag – that is, an incident faked to give a pretext for war – and a clumsy one at that.

For readers who aren’t clear on the false flag concept and its ubiquity in geopolitics, here are just a few of the dozens of documented examples:

  • Japanese troops blew up a train track in 1931, blamed it on China and used it to justify the invasion of Manchuria.

  • After taking power, the Nazis burned down their own parliament building and blamed the communists. Later on, they faked attacks on German citizens and blamed the Poles, to justify the subsequent invasion of that country.

  • In 1939 the Soviets shelled one of their own villages and blamed Finland, prior to invading.

  • In 1954 Israeli terrorist cells operating in Egypt bombed U.S. diplomatic facilities, leaving behind evidence implicating Arabs.

  • The CIA hired Iranians in the 1950s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to ignite a rebellion against the democratically-elected government. After the rebellion succeeded the US installed a hand-picked dictator.

  • The US staged a naval engagement — the Gulf of Tonkin incident – and blamed the North Vietnamese, providing a pretext for entering the Vietnam War.

  • The FBI used provocateurs in the 1950s through 1970s to carry out violent acts and falsely blame them on political activists.

  • In 1984, Israel faked radio messages that linked Lybia to terrorism. The US bombed Libya immediately thereafter.

  • Russian blew up apartment buildings in 1999 and falsely blamed it on Chechens, in order to justify an invasion of Chechnya

The list goes on seemly forever. But these examples are enough to make the twin points that 1) lots of countries employ false flags attacks, and 2) the US is especially fond of them.

There’s just one problem this time: Everyone is on to it. Even the New York Times, which has never met a Mid East war it didn’t love, sees through the deception:

As Trump Accuses Iran, He Has One Problem: His Own Credibility

To President Trump, the question of culpability in the explosions that crippled two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman is no question at all. “It’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it,” he declared on Friday.

The question is whether the writing is clear to everyone else. For any president, accusing another country of an act of war presents an enormous challenge to overcome skepticism at home and abroad. But for a president known for falsehoods and crisis-churning bombast, the test of credibility appears far more daunting.

For two and a half years in office, Mr. Trump has spun out so many misleading or untrue statements about himself, his enemies, his policies, his politics, his family, his personal story, his finances and his interactions with staff that even his own former communications director once said “he’s a liar” and many Americans long ago concluded that he cannot be trusted.

Fact-checking Mr. Trump is a full-time occupation in Washington, and in no other circumstance is faith in a president’s word as vital as in matters of war and peace. The public grew cynical about presidents and intelligence after George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq based on false accusations of weapons of mass destruction, and the doubt spilled over to Barack Obama when he accused Syria of gassing its own people. As Mr. Trump confronts Iran, he carries the burden of their history and his own.

“The problem is twofold for them,” said John E. McLaughlin, a deputy C.I.A. director during the Iraq war. “One is people will always rightly question intelligence because it’s not an exact science. But the most important problem for them is their own credibility and contradictions.”

The task is all the more formidable for Mr. Trump, who himself has assailed the reliability of America’s intelligence agencies and even the intelligence chiefs he appointed, suggesting they could not be believed when their conclusions have not fit his worldview.

All of that can raise questions when international tension flares up, like the explosion of the two oil tankers on Thursday, a provocation that fueled anxiety about the world’s most important oil shipping route and the prospect of escalation into military conflict. When Mr. Trump told Fox News on Friday that “Iran did do it,” he was asking his country to accept his word.

“Trump’s credibility is about as solid as a snake oil salesman,” said Jen Psaki, who was the White House communications director and top State Department spokeswoman under Mr. Obama. “That may work for selling his particular brand to his political base, but during serious times, it leaves him without a wealth of good will and trust from the public that what he is saying is true even on an issue as serious as Iran’s complicity in the tanker explosions.”

Combine these two problems – a Middle East war sending oil much higher, and a near-universal lack of belief in the rationale for that war – and the remaining faith in American competence and honesty might evaporate.

This takes us back to finance, specifically to a monetary system based on fiat currency which depends for its value on our collective trust in the people managing it.

The Fed will respond to an oil crisis by cutting interest rates back to – or below – zero. But will this be met with euphoria as in the past or with skepticism, as happened in Europe recently? If it’s the latter, remember what gold did the last time there was both an oil shock and a loss of faith in government:

Published:6/17/2019 8:31:16 AM
[Markets] Putin, Xi Urge End To MAD World. Lord Russell's Spectre Frowns

Authored by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The spectre of nuclear war has long hung over the world like a nightmarish sword of Damocles offering humanity much cause for despair at the dual nature of science as a beautiful source of creative power that uplifts and ennobles on the one hand and acts as a harbinger of death and chaos on the other.

However, it would be wrong to blame science for the crisis which mankind unlocked with the atom, when the reality is that we have never freed ourselves from the pest of oligarchical systems of rule. Going back to records of the Roman, Persian and Babylon empires, such systems have always sought to manipulate the masses into patterns of behaviour of self-policing and constant conflict.

Whether we are talking about the Crusades, European religious wars, Napoleonic wars, Crimean War, Opium Wars, or WWI and WWII, it has always been the same recipe: Get victims to define their interests around material constraints, diminishing resources, or religious/ethnic/linguistic biases that prevent each person from recognizing their common interests with their neighbor and then get them to fight. Classic divide and conquer.

By the close of WWII, that ancient recipe for managed chaos no longer functioned as a new ingredient was introduced into the geopolitical “great game”. This atomic ingredient was so powerful that those “game masters” managing the affairs of the earth from above like detached Olympian gods, understood that they could now be annihilated as fast as their victims and a new set of rules had to be created post haste.

Lord Russell’s Nuclear Gamble

A leading representative of the genocidal mind of the British Empire was one Lord Bertrand Russell, 7th generation member of the hereditary elite known today for his celebrated pacifism and profound philosophical depth. It is an uncomfortable fact that this paragon of “logic” and peace was one of the earliest thinkers on record calling for the nuclear annihilation of the Soviet Union in the wake of the surrender of Nazi Germany. Should the Soviet Union not submit to a One World Government, argued Lord Russell in the September 1946 Bulletin for Atomic Scientists, then it would simply have to face a nuclear punishment.

Of course that threat was short lived, as Russia’s surprise announcement of their “cracking the atomic code” broke the monopoly which the Anglo-Americans had been salivating over in 1945 as they watched Japan (whose backchannel surrender had already been negotiated) burn under the shadow of a newly emerging Anglo-American Leviathan.

Lord Russell, then heading the CIA/MI6 Congress for Cultural Freedom (whose goal was to create a new anti-culture of hedonism and irrationalism in the arts during the Cold War) was forced to change tune and instead unleash a new doctrine which came to be known as “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD). Russell’s obsession with trying to enslave all of physics to a strict mathematical determinism as displayed in his Principia Mathematica (1910) and his leading role in the CIA’s promotion of abstract art/atonal music under the CCF banner is a useful insight into how societies are managed by oligarchs.

In a BBC interview years after Russell changed his views on a first strike on Russia, the British aristocratic, now-turned anti-nuclear advocate described his change of heart thus:

“Q: Is it true or untrue that in recent years you advocated that a preventive war might be made against communism, against Soviet Russia?”

RUSSELL: It’s entirely true, and I don’t repent of it now. It was not inconsistent with what I think now…. There was a time, just after the last war, when the Americans had a monopoly of nuclear weapons and offered to internationalise nuclear weapons by the Baruch proposal, and I thought this an extremely generous proposal on their part, one which it would be very desirable that the world should accept; not that I advocated a nuclear war, but I did think that great pressure should be put upon Russia to accept the Baruch proposal, and I did think that if they continued to refuse it might be necessary actually to go to war. At that time nuclear weapons existed only on one side, and therefore the odds were the Russians would have given way. I thought they would … .

Q: Suppose they hadn’t given way.

RUSSELL: I thought and hoped that the Russians would give way, but of course you can’t threaten unless you’re prepared to have your bluff called.”

An End to the MAD World

The new game became “geopolitical balance of terror” under MAD, and in many ways the power it offered an oligarchy was greater than anything a pre-atomic society had to offer. While major wars were no longer desirable (though always a risk in this psychotic game of high stakes poker), asymmetric warfare and regime change became the new “big things” for the next 70 years. A population in constant terror of annihilation created a ripe ground for the spread of a new inquisition under the guidance of a megalomaniac cross-dresser running the FBI. This inquisition purged the west of qualified leaders who were committed to peace between east and west and included great scientists, artists, professors and politicians who watched their careers destroyed as the Deep State grew ever more powerful and atomic bombs more abundant.

While many foolishly celebrated the success of MAD with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of a unipolar world that would supposedly usher in a peaceful “end to history”, others recognised the grand sleight of hand as NATO continued to expand even though WWs raison d’être had disappeared. Yevgeni Primakov and a circle of Russian patriots (which included a rising Vladimir Putin) were among those who saw through the fraud. This network worked diligently with their Asian counterparts to create a foundation for survival which manifested in the form of the G20 in 1999 and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2001.

As 2007 began, the wars in the Middle East unleashed after 9-11 had no end in sight, and an intention much darker than many ever imagined was emerging amidst the chaos. A NATO-led Anti-Ballistic Missile shield began construction around Russia’s southern perimeter on Dick Cheney’s initiative and was joined soon thereafter by an “Asia-Pivot” encirclement of China under Obama in 2011. Only the most naive fools then believed that Iran or North Korea were the real reasons for this Hobbesian power grab for a first strike monopoly. Lord Russell’s ghost could be felt across the world threatening a nuclear war if national sovereignty were not abandoned in favor of a world government managed by a “scientific dictatorship”,

Russia and China Call to Control the Fiery Serpent

President Putin along with Sergei Lavrov and President Xi Jinping have signalled an end to the era of MAD with an important call for a new international security doctrine based upon a “new operating system”.

Coming out of the St. Petersburg Economic Summit on June 6, Putin said:

“if we do not keep this ‘fiery serpent under control- if we let it out of the bottle, God forbid, this could lead to global catastrophe. Everyone is pretending to be deaf, blind or dyslexic. We have to react to this somehow, don’t we? Clearly so.”

Putin’s words were amplified by Sergei Lavrov on June 11 speaking at the Primakov Readings 2019 conference in Moscow which brought together diplomats, experts and politicians from 30 countries on the theme of “Returning to Confrontation: Are there Any Alternatives?” Lavrov said:

“It is of principle importance that Russia and the U.S. calm the rest of the world and pass a joint statement at a high level that there can be no victory in a nuclear war and therefore it is unacceptable and inadmissible. We do not understand why they cannot reconfirm this position now. Our proposal is being considered by the U.S. side.”

Since putting themselves between an Anglo-American firing squad and the nations of Syria and Venezuela, in tandem with the surprising unveiling of an array of new military technologies in March 2018, Putin has transformed the geopolitical “rules of the game” so that Lavrov’s proposal is now a real