Newsgeeker.com news site RSS Email Alerts

Search:FBI


   
[Crime] Famous Actresses Among 50 Charged In College-Admissions Scam For Rich Kids

The FBI arrested fifty in a college admissions scam where wealthy parents paid big bribe money to guarantee their kid’s admission to elite schools

The post Famous Actresses Among 50 Charged In College-Admissions Scam For Rich Kids appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:3/14/2019 4:24:32 PM
[Crime] Famous Actresses Among 50 Charged In College-Admissions Scam For Rich Kids

The FBI arrested fifty in a college admissions scam where wealthy parents paid big bribe money to guarantee their kid’s admission to elite schools

The post Famous Actresses Among 50 Charged In College-Admissions Scam For Rich Kids appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:3/14/2019 4:24:32 PM
[In The News] Peter Strzok Deleted ‘Personal’ Communications With Lisa Page

By Chuck Ross -

Peter Strzok told Congress last year that he deleted communications with Lisa Page, but he claimed he did so for “personal” reasons An attorney for Strzok says that the former FBI official deleted the records before he was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia team Strzok testified that he ...

Peter Strzok Deleted ‘Personal’ Communications With Lisa Page 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:3/14/2019 3:54:06 PM
[World] Devin Nunes: Lisa Page Transcripts Show 'Orchestrated Effort' at DOJ, FBI Not to Prosecute Clinton

Rep. Devin Nunes said newly released transcripts of former FBI lawyer Lisa Page's closed-door testimony before Congress show that there was an "orchestrated effort" not to charge Hillary Clinton for her mishandling of classified information.

Published:3/14/2019 12:23:46 PM
[Markets] Ex-Obama Official Tried Pulling Strings To Have Smollett Case Transferred To FBI; Told To Pound Sand

Michelle Obama's former Chief of Staff, Tina Tchen, attempted to have the Jussie Smollett case transferred from the Chicago Police Department to the FBI, according to texts and emails released by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. 

Jussie Smollett, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx

Tchen, a Chicago-based attorney, reached out on Feb. 1 to Chicago's top prosecutor Kim Foxx - telling her that the "Empire" actor's family had "concerns" about the investigation. 

Smollett was considered at the time to be the victim of an assault, however the actor was subsequently charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report in connection with a staged hate crime. Last week, a Chicago grand jury slapped Smollett with a 16 count indictment for lying to the police - to which he pleaded not guilty on Thursday. 

"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." 

"OMG this would be a huge victory" the family member texted back. 

"I make no guarantees, but I'm trying" replied Foxx - who recused herself from the case on Feb. 20. 

Foxx recused herself from the investigation before Smollett was charged. Her first deputy, Joe Magats, is overseeing the case.

Foxx said in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times that Smollett's family was concerned that aspects of the police investigation were being leaked to media.

They had no doubt about the quality of the investigation, but believed that the FBI would have a tighter lid on the information,” Foxx told the outlet.

Anthony Guglielmi, the police department's chief spokesman, said Foxx conveyed the request to Johnson that Tchen and the Smollett family member wanted the FBI to take over the investigation. -USA Today

Guglielmi said that the case was not moved to the FBI because "there was a lack of evidence" that Smollett was the victim of a federal hate crime

"There was no federal jurisdiction," said Guglielmi, who added that the FBI has been assisting the police investigation. "If there was ever a point where they felt it was within federal jurisdiction, it would have easily gone there."

Smollett claimed that he was the victim of a predawn hate crime on January 29 in which two men assaulted him while he was on his way home after buying a sandwich; hurling racial and antigay slurs at him, dousing him in a liquid, placing a noose around his neck (which he was still wearing when police arrived later that morning), and punching him in the face. 

Police allege that Smollett, who is black and gay, staged a Jan 29 homophobic, racist attack because he was unhappy with his salary to boost his profile. 

The incident sparked national outrage - with the left-leaning mainstream media and prominent Democrats uncritically supporting Smollett's version of events; holding it up as a prime example of violent Donald Trump supporters

Two suspects in the case, Nigerian-American brothers Ola and Abel Osundario - one of whom has been an extra on Empire, told police that Smollett paid them a combined $3,500 to stage the "attack," and that the three of them had practiced it beforehand. They also said that Smollett was involved in creating a racist letter containing a white substance that was sent to the actor on the Chicago set of Empire.

When the letter failed to achieve the desired level of national outrage, the Osundario brothers say Smollett concocted the hate-crime.

 

Published:3/14/2019 11:53:07 AM
[2019 News] Hillary Clinton received what amounts to a secret pre-pardon from the Obama DOJ Hillary Clinton received what amounts to a secret pre-pardon from the Obama DOJ. It’s amazing what happens as the result of tarmac meetings where only grandchildren and recipes are discussed. The attorney general at the time was Loretta Lynch. She infamously held a secret tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton just prior to the FBI recommending against charging […] Published:3/14/2019 11:23:14 AM
[] Is the FBI Trying to Rehabilitate Its Tattered Reputation By Overpublicizing What Is, Let's Face It, a Fairly Rinky-Dink College Bribery Scandal? I saw the FBI preening about this and disliked them even more than I had before. These were real crimes, and they should be punished; but the stagecraft of the announcement was purely political. It wasn't about law enforcement; it... Published:3/14/2019 10:52:41 AM
[Uncategorized] Lisa Page Transcripts: FBI had ‘Paucity of Evidence’ for Russia Investigation, Discussed Trump ‘Insurance Policy’ DOJ told FBI not to press charges against Hillary Clinton. Published:3/14/2019 10:24:28 AM
[Markets] Lynch Testimony Reveals Bias And Intent For Failing To Give Trump Defensive Briefing

Via SaraCarter.com,

President Donald Trump’s campaign was never given a defensive briefing by the FBI, despite mounting concerns that Russians were allegedly trying to penetrate the campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

In testimony provided by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, along with others, it is the key finding that won’t bode well for the FBI and DOJ. It also raises significant questions regarding the treatment of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and whether she ever received ‘defensive briefings’ in detail from the bureau. Lynch’s testimony is still not public but has been reviewed by SaraACarter.com.

The defensive briefing, after all, is a procedure that is often given to presidential candidates, elected officials and even U.S. businesses that have either been unwittingly approached by foreign actors attempting to gain trust and befriend those in position of influence.

The briefing allows the government to protect the candidates, specifically if there is substantial information or knowledge to suggest that someone has targeted an unwitting American for information. If the FBI or intelligence agencies suspect foreign adversaries may be trying to penetrate a presidential campaign, as those FBI and DOJ sources suggested in testimony to lawmakers, it would then be required to warn those affected, a senior former intelligence official told SaraACarter.com.

Why? Because foreign adversaries like China and Russia for example, and even allies, will attempt to glean information – or favor – from unwitting persons with access to senior level officials. The access can assist those nation’s own national interest or provide access for intelligence collection.

In the case of Trump, the FBI gave only a general counterintelligence briefing but did not provide information to the campaign that the FBI believed there were specific counterintelligence threats. For example, the FBI’s concern over campaign advisors George Papadopolous, Carter Page and then concerns over former national security advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

“It is an essential task of the FBI and the intelligence community to give a defensive briefing to a presidential candidate when a foreign adversary is attempting to penetrate or make contact with someone in the campaign,” said a former senior intelligence official.

“If the FBI and DOJ were so concerned about Carter Page and (George) Papadopolous why didn’t they brief Trump when he became a candidate? The fact that they didn’t is very revealing. If they gave defensive briefing to the Clinton campaign then I think we have the answer.”

Bruce Ohr’s 268-page testimony, released last week by Georgia Rep. Doug Collins reveals the machinations of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign and the players involved. Ohr’s testimony coupled with testimony provided by former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, which has not been released but reviewed by this reporter, along with former FBI General Counsel James Baker’s testimony reveals a startling fact: everyone appeared to say they were concerned the Russian’s were penetrating the Trump campaign but no one at the DOJ or FBI authorized a defensive briefing.

Lynch and Failure to Give Defensive Briefing 

Let’s start with Lynch’s testimony, which has not yet been made public.

In her testimony, Lynch she admits that senior officials at the FBI and DOJ did not provide a briefing to then candidate-Trump. Those discussions, according to Lynch, also included former FBI Director James Comey. It appears they all discussed that the defensive briefing was an option but never followed through. None of those persons who testified about those discussions has a clear answer to why none was given.

“Were you aware that George Papadopoulos was under investigation by the FBI,” an investigator asked Lynch during last years closed door hearing.

“I was aware that his activities were of concern,” Lynch replied.

“Were you aware that he was associated with the Trump campaign,” the investigator followed up.

Lynch then says, “you know, I knew that but, again, I don’t have specifics and certainly at that – thinking back to that time, I don’t know if I knew his role at that time in the campaign.”

The investigator then presses Lynch, asking “did you know he had some sort of role?”

“As far as my recollection is, yes,” Lynch answers.

The investigator goes one step further:

“So there are these investigations launched into two individuals, in your mind, somehow associated with the Trump campaign…Did you consider any other options other than an investigation?”

Lynch explains, “it’s when information is provided to someone usually as a result of the intelligence community learning information that may impact them, in the context in which I’m aware of it, in their official role, or in their official business.”

The investigator then asks was “defensive briefings given to candidates for the presidency?”

“Certain types of defense briefings are, is my understanding,” Lynch states.”It’s not something that I was personally involved in. They received – they do receive security briefings. I’m only aware of that from discussions with members of the intelligence community.”

The revelation:

“Did you ever discuss whether the Trump campaign should be defensively briefed on either Carter Page or George Papadopoulos,” asks the investigator, who reiterates if they were under scrutiny whey didn’t the FBI and DOJ make Trump aware.

“I was certainly aware that it was an option, but I don’t know what, if anything, ever happened to that option,” Lynch answers. “Without getting into specific discussions, it certainly is an option that one would consider, but I don’t know if those actions were ever taken.”

When asked if Lynch was involved in discussing defensive briefings with the Trump campaign about Carter and Papadopolous, she only replies “not to the level of giving direction.”

“Again, I’m just being careful because of the nature of the information,” she stresses. “Certainly, it’s always an option, but at a very early stage, you would have it as an option, and you would evaluate it as time goes on, and I don’t have any information about further resolution of that issue.”

Lisa Page

Lisa Page’s testimony may answer some questions as to why the Trump campaign was not given a defensive briefing.

She states that Trump was not a target at the time but that it was members of his campaign that the bureau was concerned about.

This makes no sense at all. If the FBI was concerned about allegations that Carter Page and Papadopolous were allegedly being influenced by the Russians they would’ve given Trump, who was a presidential candidate at the time, a defensive briefing.

The FBI had worked with Carter Page in the past on a separate case connected to Russia so why wouldn’t the FBI provide a fair warning to Trump when Carter Page joined as a volunteer for the campaign.

In Page’s transcript she indicated to Rep. John Ratcliff, R-Texas, under questioning that the bureau had no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia prior to launch of the FBI and special counsel investigation.

“So I think this represents that even as far as May of 2017, we still couldn’t answer the question,” said Page, who said that up until May 2017 the bureau still didn’t have any evidence of collusion or conspiracy.

Gowdy Questions Page

Under questioning by then-Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC, regarding her text messages to Strzok, Page states that the bureau was concerned about someone in the campaign was working with Russians to get damaging information on Clinton. But she admitted that they still didn’t have evidence up until May 2017?

“We had a number of discussions up through and including the Director regularly in which we were trying to find an answer to the question, right, which is, is there someone associated with the campaign, who is working with the Russians in order to obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton,” Page told Gowdy, regarding the texts.

She also says later in her testimony to Gowdy “as I sort of explained, if he is not going to be President, then we don‘t need to burn longstanding sources and risk sort of the loss of future investigative outlets, not in this case, but in other Russia–related matters…”

Page states that the FBI didn’t believe Trump was colluding with Russia but maybe someone was within in the campaign. In her mind Trump wasn’t going to win so why “burn longstanding sources.”

The one question I would’ve asked those testifying, is the one question the lawmakers never asked: ‘Did the DOJ and FBI provide defensive briefings to Hillary Clinton’s campaign at any point in time and on any matter involving any foreigners attempting to access her campaign?’

If anything, this is a significant question that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz should consider as he continues his investigation into possible malfeasance in the FBI’s handling of Trump campaign and Russia investigation.

Published:3/14/2019 9:23:04 AM
[Markets] Top Mueller Prosecutor Weissmann Steps Down In Latest Sign Probe Ending

Andrew Weissmann, perhaps the 'angriest' Democrat on special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, is leaving the investigation and will return to the private sector, according to NPR, citing two sources. 

Considered the "architect" of the case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort - who was sentenced to a combined 7.5 years in prison for financial crimes related to his private business dealings, Weissmann will now study and teach at New York University. He will also embark on several public service projects, such as how to prevent wrongful convictions by improving forensic science standards. 

As NPR notes, "The departure is the strongest sign yet that Mueller and his team have all but concluded their work."

Weissmann - who wasn't able to link Manafort to collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, has come under fire from conservatives for his extreme liberalism. He attended Hillary Clinton's election night party in 2016, and was one of several officials told by then-DOJ #4 Bruce Ohr prior to the DOJ obtaining a FISA surveillance warrant that the 'Steele Dossier' was opposition research connected to Clinton and might be biased. Weissmann was the head of the DOJ's fraud section at the time. 

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon also issued a warning about Weissmann and other senior members of the special counsel team when they were named in 2017.

Other departures signaling the end of Mueller's probe

While Weissmann's departure is the largest indication to date that the Mueller probe is near its end, several other investigators have already left the special counsel's office - including the senior-most FBI agent working the case; David Archey. Archey will head up the FBI's Richmond, VA office.

Another prosecutor, Brandon Van Grack, is now leading a DOJ effort to enforce compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) - a law requiring that people disclose if they are representing foreign powers in the United States. Created in 1938, the law remained virtually unenforced until the DOJ was able to nab Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, who failed to register as foreign agents while representing the government of Ukraine. Notably, lobbyist Tony Podesta - who worked alongside Manafort, had the uncanny foresight to retroactively file as a foreign agent months before Manafort was charged. 

Weissmann's past successes

One of the reason Andrew Weissmann was considered such a threat to the Trump team is his long history of unraveling complex financial ties and securing cooperative witnesses in order to build criminal cases against higher-ups. 

As a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, Weissmann won a conviction against the head of the Gambino crime family, using testimony from Sammy "The Bull" Gravano and others.

He went on to lead the Justice Department task force investigating fraud at Enron Corp., a high-flying energy company whose chief executives, Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, were convicted by a jury in Houston.

Lay died before he could be sentenced. Skilling served 12 years behind bars before his recent release. -NPR

"Throughout his career, Andrew has had unparalleled success in building case after case against the most sophisticated criminals in the world," said former colleague Leslie Caldwell. "He took on New York's most feared organized crime families, unraveled the incredibly ornate frauds at Enron, and has tracked international criminals, exposing their carefully concealed financial dealings in many dark corners of the world." 

 

Published:3/14/2019 7:53:47 AM
[Markets] Facebook Under Criminal Investigation Over Data Deals

Some of Facebook's largest data deals are under federal criminal investigation following a nightmare year of scandals, reports the New York Timeswhich reveals that a New York grand jury has subpoenaed records from at least two leading manufacturers of smartphones and other devices which gained access to personal data of hundreds of millions of users

The companies were among more than 150 firms, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Sony, that had cut sharing deals with the world’s dominant social media platform. The agreements, previously reported in The New York Times, let the companies see users’ friends, contact information and other data, sometimes without consent. Facebook has phased out most of the partnerships over the past two years. -New York Times

Facebook - known for its occasional mistakes, said in a statement that they are "cooperating with investigators" and assured the Times that they "take those probes seriously.

It is unclear when the grand jury probe started, nor has the scope or focus of the inquiry been disclosed. It is being overseen by prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York. 

The company is simultaneously facing investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), while the Justice Department's fraud division began investigating the social media giant following reports that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had improperly harvested the Facebook data of up to 87 million people for political purposes. 

The investigation into the Cambridge Analytica scandal by both the DOJ and FBI is ongoing in the Northern District of California, with one former Cambridge employee reporting that he was questioned by investigators as recently as several weeks ago, while three other witnesses in the case said that much of the questioning revolved around Facebook's claims that it was misled by Cambridge

In public statements, Facebook executives had said that Cambridge told the company it was gathering data only for academic purposes. But the fine print accompanying a quiz app that collected the information said it could also be used commercially. Selling user data would have violated Facebook’s rules at the time, yet the social network does not appear to have regularly checked that apps were complying. Facebook deleted the quiz app in December 2015.

The disclosures about Cambridge last year thrust Facebook into the worst crisis of its history. Then came news reports last June and December that Facebook had given business partners — including makers of smartphones, tablets and other devices — deep access to users’ personal information, letting some companies effectively override users’ privacy settings. -New York Times

Facebook's orgy of data sharing allowed companies such as Microsoft map out the friends of virtually every Facebook user over Bing without their explicit consent, while Amazon was able to harvest users' names and contact information through their friends

In fact, thanks to the United States having no general consumer privacy laws regarding dataup to 400 million people's private information was freely shared with the likes of Google, Netflix, Spotify and other partners - and Facebook didn't sell it; they gave everyone's information away for free throughout the tech community in order to foster industry relationships and advance their own interests. 

China's Huawei and Russian search giant Yandex - accused last year by Ukraine of funneling user data to the Kremlin - also had access to Facebook's unique user IDs.

Facebook records show Yandex had access in 2017 to Facebook’s unique user IDs even after the social network stopped sharing them with other applications, citing privacy risks. A spokeswoman for Yandex, which was accused last year by Ukraine’s security service of funneling its user data to the Kremlin, said the company was unaware of the access and did not know why Facebook had allowed it to continue. She added that the Ukrainian allegations “have no merit.” -NYT

Facebook was able to circumvent a 2011 consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which barred the company from sharing user data without explicit permission, because Facebook considered the partners extensions of itself - "service providers that allowed users to interact with their Facebook friends." 

"This is just giving third parties permission to harvest data without you being informed of it or giving consent to it," said former FTC consumer protection bureau chief David Vladeck. "I don’t understand how this unconsented-to data harvesting can at all be justified under the consent decree."

Facebook has defended itself aggressively - claiming that the partnerships were permitted under a provision in the FTC agreement covering service providers as "extensions" of the social network. 

Perhaps they were, once again, mistaken

Published:3/13/2019 8:49:38 PM
[World] Judge Napolitano on Lisa Page Saying Comey Did Not Decide Against Charging Hillary Clinton with Espionage

Judge Andrew Napolitano said Wednesday that it is a "head-scratcher" as to why then-FBI Director James Comey apparently lied during a 2016 public announcement in which he indemnified Hillary Clinton from federal prosecution.

Published:3/13/2019 1:20:06 PM
[World] Lori Loughlin Surrenders to FBI, Taken Into Custody Over College Admission Scandal Lori LoughlinLori Loughlin surrendered to the FBI on Wednesday morning over her alleged involvement in a major college entrance exam scheme, FBI press office confirms to E! News. The Fuller House star was...
Published:3/13/2019 11:48:02 AM
[Markets] Explosive Lisa Page Testimony: Dossier Timeline Contradictions And DOJ Interference

Via SaraCarter.com,

Testimony provided to Congress from former FBI lawyer Lisa Page reveals contradictions as to when she learned about former British spy Christopher Steele’s anti-Trump dossier, sheds light on the “insurance policy” and exposes the Obama Justice Department’s decision not to charge Hillary Clinton with allegedly violating the Espionage Act.

Page’s testimony, which was delivered behind closed doors last July before a joint task force of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees, reveals the internal machinations between senior bureau leadership and the DOJ. Basically, her testimony adds more depth to what happened during the critical months during the FBI’s investigation into President Trump’s election campaign and the bureau’s “Midyear Exam” investigation into Clinton.

As for the Clinton investigation, Page said the bureau “did not blow over gross negligence.” She told Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, there were ongoing discussions with former FBI Director James Comey and other senior officials about the issue. She said “on its face, it did seem like, well, maybe there’s a potential here for this to be the charge. And we had multiple conversations, multiple conversations with the Justice Department about charging gross negligence,” she said.

She added “the Justice Department’s assessment was that it was both constitutionally vague, so that they did not actually feel that they could permissibly bring that charge.”

Page’s testimony does coincide with what former FBI General Counsel James Baker’s told the committee on “gross negligence.” In testimony he stated that he originally believed Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of highly classified information was “alarming” and “appalling,”  as first reported at SaraACarter.com. He also believed her use of a private server to send the classified emails was sufficient enough to secure an indictment to possibly charge her for violations under the Espionage Act, for mishandling sensitive government documents.

However, her testimony focuses on the DOJ’s push not to charge Clinton, whereas Baker puts the onus on Comey. He said Comey did not believe the charges would stick and that he argued with Comey until just before the public announcement not to charge Clinton. Baker suggested he changed his mind shortly before Comey announced publicly on July 5, 2016 not to charge the then presidential candidate.

Crossfire Hurricane

Page also expands on the FBI’s controversial “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into members of the Trump campaign and links the investigation to controversial text messages made between her and former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok regarding the “insurance policy” against Trump. Strzok and Page were removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation after their anti-Trump text messages were discovered. Page left the FBI and Strzok was fired shortly after DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz report was made public last year.

Page expresses in her testimony that during the investigation into the Trump campaign there was a sentiment at the time among bureau officials regarding the president’s electability: nobody believed he would win.

“So, upon the opening of the crossfire hurricane investigation, we had a number of discussions up through and including the Director regularly in which we were trying to find an answer to the question, right, which is, is there someone associated with the [Trump] campaign who is working with the Russians in order to obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton,” states Page.

She adds, “and given that it is August, we were very aware of the speed and sensitivity that we needed to operate under.”

“[W]e don’t need to go at a total breakneck speed because so long as he doesn’t become President, there isn’t the same threat to national security, right,” Page added.

“But if he becomes President, that totally changes the game.”

Ohr and Page Testimony On Steele Don’t Match Up

Moreover, Page contradicts Ohr’s testimony regarding when she first knew about former British spy Christopher Steele’s dossier. She claims in her testimony that she did not know about the dossier in August 2016, however, Ohr’s testimony reveals that he delivered Steele’s information to the bureau shortly after meeting with Steele. In fact, he met with former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and specifically, Page at the bureau to deliver the information.

Ohr reveals this during an exchange with then-Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Trey Gowdy, R-SC.

“Why? Why did you meet with them,” asks Gowdy.

“To pass the latest information that I had received,” Ohr responds.

“How did you find out who to meet with? Who did you call to find out,” questions Gowdy.

Ohr explains that prior to that meeting with McCabe and Page he had met with Steele on July 30, 2016.

“After the July 30th meeting with Chris Steele, I wanted to provide the information he had given me to the FBI. I reached out for Andrew McCabe, at that time, Deputy Director of the FBI and somebody who had previously led the organized crime, Russian organized crime squad in New York and who I had worked with in the past, and asked if he could meet with me,” he said. 

“I went to his office to provide the information, and Lisa Page was there. So I provided the information to them. And some point after that, I think, I was given Peter Strzok, or somehow put in contact with Peter Strzok.”

Gowdy then asks when exactly did Ohr meet Strzok and Page.

“I don’t recall the exact date,” Ohr says.

“I’m guessing it would have been in August since I met with Chris Steele at the end of July, and I’m pretty sure I would have reached out to Andrew McCabe soon afterwards.”

Published:3/13/2019 11:48:02 AM
[Politics] Trump: Lisa Page Transcripts Prove Obama DOJ Was Corrupt Following the release of hundreds of pages of transcripts from last year's closed-door interview with ex-FBI attorney Lisa Page, President Donald Trump tweeted a rebuke of the corruption of the Obama administration's Justice Department. Published:3/13/2019 10:48:50 AM
[Markets] Meet The Man Behind The "Largest College Admissions Scam Ever"

A $25 million racketeering and money laundering conspiracy that was at the center of the "largest college admission scam ever" saw its ringleader unmasked thanks to the Wall Street Journal.  The man at the center of the scheme is 58-year-old William Rick Singer. We reported on the scandal at length yesterday. 

Singer is called a "self described serial entrepreneur" who appeared to have found his niche in helping young people get into college. He was the founder of the Edge College & Career Network, the institution that helped broker bribes between the uber-wealthy and prestigious colleges. According to the company’s website, his goal was to "help alleviate the anxiety of getting into college" because he “has seen first hand the stress that the college admissions and athletics recruiting process can put on a family."

Following yesterday's charges, Singer pled guilty to racketeering, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice. He is looking at between 15 and 19 1/2 years in prison for his crimes. During his court appearance, after a federal prosecutor ran through a number of alleged offenses committed by Singer, he confessed, saying: "Your honor, everything that [the prosecutor] said is true."

He also admitted to the judge that he knew he was breaking the law and that he had done "many more" things. He detailed, at length, his entire test taking scheme, saying that he would often claim students had learning disabilities in order to help control testing sites.

Singer said: "If we could ensure that, we would secure a score that would be strong enough so they could get into the schools they wanted to go to."

“The only way the scheme could work was if I could control the proctor and the site coordinator,” he continued.

He also admitted to bribing test administrators and bringing his own proctors for tests. 

Singer told the court that the kids always thought they were taking the test, but that the proctor and the administrator knew it was fixed. “The kids thought they really took the test but the proctor and administrator knew. I’m absolutely responsible,” he said. 

He explained that he arranged for students to write the answers on a separate sheet and then the proctor would bubble in the correct answers before the test was submitted. He also admitted to creating false sports profiles of students, simply stating he would "take a picture of the students face and put it on somebody else".

Actress Lori Laughlin was also charged yesterday

Singer described an example of how he would operate: if a family wanted his services, he would arrange a scheme wherein they would, for example, make a $500,000 donation to a college's athletics program and then a separate $200,000 donation to Singer's charity, which was supposed to be for underdeserved kids. Singer's company website says that he’s helped guide thousands of high school students on the college admission process.

His website states: "We partner with your son or daughter to identify their strengths, unlock their potential, choose the right college, position themselves for admission, and outline a course of study and extracurricular experiences to lead to a life of success."

One of his clients, Greg Abbott, CEO of International Dispensing Corp, claimed that he heard of Singer's services through a network of New York City mothers. Abbott had spoken to the FBI and called the entire situation "insane".

“Literally, we were involved with this guy for our daughter to help out with college counseling and he gets f— arrested. We didn’t know he was doing this s—,” he told the Wall Street Journal. 

Singer is set to be sentenced in June.

Published:3/13/2019 8:18:22 AM
[Clinton emails] What Lisa Page said (Scott Johnson) Rep. Doug Collins has released the testimony of former FBI lawyer Lisa Page to the House Judiciary Committee over two days this past July. He has posted day 1 (July 13) of Page’s testimony here. He has posted day 2 (July 16) of Page’s testimony here. I have embedded the two transcripts below via Scribd. I have just turned to these transcripts this morning, but I can borrow President Trump’s Published:3/13/2019 7:20:59 AM
[Markets] RussiaGate As Organised Distraction

Authored by Prof. Oliver Boyd-Barrett, via Organisation for Propaganda Studies,

For over two years RussiaGate has accounted for a substantial proportion of all mainstream US media political journalism and, because US media have significant agenda-setting propulsion, of global media coverage as well. The timing has been catastrophic.

The Trump Administration has shredded environmental protections, jettisoned nuclear agreements, exacerbated tensions with US rivals, and pandered to the rich.

In place of sustained media attention to the end of the human species from global warming, its even more imminent demise in nuclear warfare, or the further evisceration of democratic discourse in a society riven by historically unprecedented wealth inequalities and unbridled capitalistic greed, corporate media suffocate their publics with a puerile narrative of alleged collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.

The RussiaGate discourse is profoundly mendacious and hypocritical. It presumes that the US is a State whose electoral system enjoys a high degree of public trust and security. Nothing could be further from the truth. The US democratic system is deeply entrenched in a dystopian two-party system dominated by the rich and largely answerable to corporate oligopolies; it is ideologically beholden to the values of extreme capitalism and imperialist domination. Problems with the US electoral system and media are extensive and well documented.

US electoral procedures are profoundly compromised by an electoral college that detaches votes counted from votes that count. The composition of electoral districts have been gerrymandered to minimize the possibility of electoral surprises. Voting is dependent on easily hackable corporate-manufactured electronic voting systems.

Right-wing administrations reach into a tool-box of voter-suppression tactics that run the gamut from minimizing available voting centers and voting machines through to excessive voter identification requirements and the elimination of swathes of the voting lists (e.g. groups such as people who have committed felonies or people whose names are similar to those of felons, or people who have not voted in previous elections).

Even the results of campaigns are corrupted when outgoing regimes abuse their remaining weeks in power to push through regulations or legislation that will scuttle the efforts of their successors.

Democratic theory presupposes the formal equivalence of voice in the battlefield of ideas. Nothing could be further from the reality of the US “democratic” system in which a small number of powerful interests enjoy ear-splitting megaphonic advantage on the basis of often anonymous “dark” money donations filtered through SuperPacs and their ilk, operating outside the confines of (the somewhat more transparently monitored) ten-week electoral campaigns.

Regarding media, democratic theory presupposes a public communications infrastructure that facilities the free and open exchange of ideas. No such infrastructure exists.  Mainstream media are owned and controlled by a small number of large, multi-media and multi-industrial conglomerates that lie at the very heart of US oligopoly capitalism and much of whose advertising revenue and content is furnished from other conglomerates.

The inability of mainstream media to sustain an information environment that can encompass histories, perspectives and vocabularies that are free of the shackles of US plutocratic self-regard is also well documented.

Current US media coverage of the US-gestated crisis in Venezuela is a case in point. The much celebrated revolutionary potential of social media is illusory. The principal suppliers of social media architecture are even more corporatized than their legacy predecessors. They depend not just on corporate advertising but on the sale of big data that they pilfer from users and sell to corporate and political propagandists often for non-transparent AI-assisted micro-targeting during ‘persuasion’ campaigns.

Like their legacy counterparts, social media are imbricated within, collaborate with, and are vulnerable to the machinations of the military-industry-surveillance establishment. So-called election meddling across the world has been an outstanding feature of the exploitation of social and legacy media by companies linked to political, defense and intelligence such as – but by no means limited to – the former Cambridge Analytica and its British parent SCL.

Against this backdrop of electoral and media failures, it makes little sense to elevate discussion of and attention to the alleged social media activities of, say, Russia’s Internet Research Agency. Attention is being directed away from substantial, and substantiated, problems and onto trivial, and unsubstantiated, problems.

Moreover, in a climate of manufactured McCarthyite hysteria, RussiaGate further presupposes that any communication between a presidential campaign and Russia is in itself a deplorable thing. Even if one were to confine this conversation only to communication between ruling oligarchs of both the US and Russia, however, the opposite would surely be the case. This is not simply because of the benefits that accrue from a broader understanding of the world, identification of shared interests and opportunities, and their promise for peaceful relations.

real politik analysis might advise the insertion of wedges between China and Russia so as to head off the perceived threat to the USA of a hybrid big-power control over a region of the world that has long been considered indispensable for truly global hegemony.

Even if we address RussiaGate as a problem worthy of our attention, the evidentiary basis for the major claims is weak. The ultimate unfolding of RussiaGate discourse now awaits the much-anticipated report of Special Counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller. Mueller’s indictments and investigations have to date implicated several individuals for activities that in some cases have no connection whatsoever to the 2016 Presidential campaign.  In some other instances they appear to have been more about lies and obstructions to his investigation rather than material illegal acts, or amount to charges that are unlikely ever to be contested in a court of law.

The investigation itself is traceable back to two significant but extremely problematic reports made public in January 2017. One was the “Steele dossier” by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele. This is principally of interest for its largely unsupported allegations that in some sense or another Trump was in cahoots with Russia. Steele’s company, Orbis, was commissioned to write the report by Fusion GPS which in turn was contracted by attorneys working for the Democratic National Campaign.

Passage of earlier drafts of the Steele report through sources close to British intelligence, and accounts by Trump adviser George Papadopoulos concerning conversations he had concerning possible Russian possession of Clinton emails with a character who may as likely have been a British as a Russian spy, were instrumental in stimulating FBI interest in and spying on the Trump campaign.

There are indirect links between Christopher Steele, another former MI6 agent, Pablo Miller (who also worked for Orbis) and Sergei Skripal, a Russian agent who had been recruited as informer to MI6 by Miller and who was the target of an attempted assassination in 2018. This event has occasioned controversial, not to say highly implausible and mischievous British government claims and accusations against Russia.

The  most significant matter raised by a second report, issued by the Intelligence Community Assessment and representing the conclusions of a small team picked from the Director of Intelligence office, CIA, FBI and NSA, was its claim that Russian intelligence was responsible for the hacking of the computer systems of the DNC and its chairman John Podesta in summer 2016 and that the hacked documents had been passed to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. No evidence for this was supplied.

Although the hacking allegations have become largely uncontested articles of faith in the RussiaGate discourse they are significantly reliant on the problematic findings of a small private company hired by the DNC. There is also robust evidence that the documents may have been leaked rather than hacked, and by US-based sources.

The fact that the documents revealed that the DNC, a supposedly neutral agent in the primary campaign, had in fact been biased in favor of the candidature of Hillary Clinton, and that Clinton’s private statements to industry were not in keeping with her public positions, has long been obscured in media memory in favor a preferred narrative of Russian villainy.

Why then does the RussiaGate discourse have so much traction? Who benefits?

First, RussiaGate serves the interest of a (1)corrupted Democratic Party, whose biased and arguably incompetent campaign management lost it the 2016 election, in alliance with with (2)powerful factions of the US industrial-military-surveillance establishment that for the past 19 years, through NATO and other malleable international agencies, has sought to undermine Putin’s leadership, dismember Russia and the Russian Federation (undoubtedly for the benefit of western capital) and, more latterly, further contain China in a perpetual and titanic struggle for the heart of EurAsia.

In so far as Trump had indicated (for whatever reasons) in the course of his campaign that he disagreed with at least some aspects of this long-term strategy, he came to be viewed as unreliable by the US security state. While serving the immediate purpose of containing Trump, US accusations of Russian meddling in US elections were farcical in the context of a well-chronicled history of US “meddling” in the elections and politics of nations for over 100 years. This meddling across  all hemispheres has included the staging of coups, invasions and occupations on false pretext in addition to numerous instances of “color revolution” strategies involving the financing of opposition parties and provoking uprisings, frequently coupled with economic warfare (sanctions).

A further beneficiary (3)is the sum of all those interests that favor a narrowing of public expression to a framework supportive of neoliberal imperialism. Paradoxically exploiting the moral panic associated with both Trump’s plaintive wailing about “fake news” whenever mainstream media coverage is critical of him, and social media embarrassment over exposure of their big data sales to powerful corporate customers, these interests have called for more regulation of, as well as self-censorship by, social media.

Social media responses increasingly involve more restrictive algorithms and what are often partisan “fact-checkers” (illustrated by Facebook financial support for and dependence on the pro-NATO “think tank,” the Atlantic Council). The net impact has been devastating for many information organizations in the arena of social media whose only “sin” is analysis and opinion that runs counter to elite neoliberal propaganda. The standard justification of such attacks on free expression is to insinuate ties to Russia and/or to terrorism.

Given these heavy handed and censorious responses by powerful actors, it would appear perhaps that the RussiaGate narrative is increasingly implausible to many and the only hope now for its proponents is to stifle questioning. These are dark days indeed for democracy.

Published:3/12/2019 9:44:30 PM
[The Blog] Lisa Page: FBI discussed charging Clinton with ‘gross negligence’ but the DOJ said no

"That’s correct."

The post Lisa Page: FBI discussed charging Clinton with ‘gross negligence’ but the DOJ said no appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:3/12/2019 7:43:44 PM
[Education] FBI Exposes Wealthy Parents Rigging College for Kids. But It Was Always Rigged.

The FBI dropped a new bombshell on Tuesday, and this time the scandal is Russian-free. Dozens of wealthy parents, including notable celebrities, were charged in... Read More

The post FBI Exposes Wealthy Parents Rigging College for Kids. But It Was Always Rigged. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:3/12/2019 5:12:43 PM
[] FBI Brings RICO Charges Against "Massive" College-Admissions Rigging Conspiracy;Actresses Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman Charged With Paying to Get Their Kids Cheated Into Schools To be honest, my faith in the "Incorruptible Straight-Arrows of the FBI" is near-zero, and I don't know if I could sit on any jury involving a case the FBI developed. But this is what the Incorruptible Straight-Arrows are claiming,... Published:3/12/2019 3:42:59 PM
[Politics] RELEASED: Read Judiciary Committee’s FULL closed-door interview with Lisa Page Republican Congressman Doug Collins has now released the transcript of the Judiciary Committee’s closed door interview with former FBI agent Lisa Page. The interview occurred last year. You can now read both . . . Published:3/12/2019 2:42:24 PM
[Politics] RELEASED: Read Judiciary Committee’s FULL closed-door interview with Lisa Page Republican Congressman Doug Collins has now released the transcript of the Judiciary Committee’s closed door interview with former FBI agent Lisa Page. The interview occurred last year. You can now read both . . . Published:3/12/2019 2:11:52 PM
[The Blog] Oh my: Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman charged in FBI bust in RICO college-admissions fraud case

Desperate housewives?

The post Oh my: Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman charged in FBI bust in RICO college-admissions fraud case appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:3/12/2019 11:12:52 AM
[World] John Kennedy Rips Andrew McCabe For Politicizing FBI in Trump Probe

Senate Judiciary Committee Member John N. Kennedy said fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is crooked and should hide his head in a paper bag.

Published:3/11/2019 12:26:01 PM
[Markets] The Orientalism Of Western Russophobia

Authored by Max Parry via Off-Guardian.org,

Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the publication of Edward W. Said’s pioneering book, Orientalism, as well as fifteen years since the Palestinian-American intellectual’s passing. To bid farewell to such an important scholar shortly after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, which Said fiercely criticized until his dying breath before succumbing to leukemia, made an already tremendous loss that much more impactful.

An illustration from a Wall Street Journal article entitled “Russia’s Turn to its Asian Past” depicting Vladimir Putin as Genghis Khan.

His seminal text forever reoriented political discourse by painstakingly examining the overlooked cultural imperialism of colonial history in the West’s construction of the so-called Orient. Said meticulously interrogated the Other-ing of the non-Western world in the humanities, arts, and anthropology down to its minutiae. As a result, the West was forced to confront not just its economic and political plunder but the long-established cultural biases filtering the lens through which it viewed the East which shaped its dominion over it.

His writings proved to be so influential that they laid the foundations for what is now known as post-colonial theory. This became an ironic category as the author himself would strongly reject any implication that the subjugation of developing countries is a thing of the past. How apropos that the Mandatory Palestine-born writer’s death came in the midst of the early stages of the ‘War on Terror’ that made clear Western imperialism is very much alive.

Despite its history of ethnic cleansing, slavery, and war, the United States had distinguished itself from Britain and France in that it had never established its own major colonies within the Middle East, Asia or North Africa in the heart of the Orient. According to Said, it was now undergoing this venture as the world’s sole remaining superpower following the end of the Cold War with the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Today’s political atmosphere makes the Bush era seem like eons ago. Thanks to the shameful rehabilitation of neoconservatism by centrist extremists, Americans fail to understand how Trumpism emerged from the pandora’s box of destructiveness of Bush policies that destabilized the Middle East and only increased international terrorism. Since then, another American enemy has been manufactured in the form of the Russian Federation and its President, Vladimir Putin, who drew the ire of the West after a resurgent Moscow under his leadership began to contain U.S. hegemony. This reached a crescendo during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election with the dubious accusations of election interference made by the same intelligence agencies that sold the pack of lies that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction. The establishment has even likened the alleged intrusion by Moscow to 9/11.

If a comparison between the 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans and the still unproven allegations of Russian meddling seems outrageous, it is precisely such an analogy that has been made by Russiagate’s own biggest proponents, from neoconservative columnist Max Boot to Hillary Clinton herself.

Truthfully, it is the climate of hysteria and dumbing down of discourse to such rigid dichotomies following both events where a real similarity can be drawn. The ‘with us or against us’ chasm that followed 9/11 has reemerged in the ‘either/or’ post-election polarity of the Trump era whereby all debate within the Overton window is pigeonholed into a ‘pro vs. anti-Trump’ or ‘pro vs. anti-Russia’ false dilemma. It is even perpetrated by some on the far left, e.g. if one critiques corporate media or Russiagate, they are grouped as ‘pro-Trump’ or ‘pro-Putin’ no matter their political orientation. This dangerous atmosphere is feeding an unprecedented wave of censorship of dissenting voices across the spectrum.

In his final years, not only did Edward Said condemn the Bush administration but highlighted how corporate media was using bigoted tropes in its representations of Arabs and Muslims to justify U.S. foreign policy. Even though it has gone mostly undetected, the neo-McCarthyist frenzy following the election has produced a similar travesty of caricatures depicting Russia and Vladimir Putin. One such egregious example was a July 2018 article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Russia’s Turn to Its Asian Past” featuring an illustration portraying Vladimir Putin as Genghis Khan.

The racist image and headline suggested that Russia is somehow inherently autocratic because of its past occupation under the Mongol Empire during its conquest of Eastern Europe and the Kievan Rus state in the 13th century. In a conceptual revival of the Eurocentric trope of Asiatic or Oriental despotism, the hint is that past race-mixing is where Russia inherited this tyrannical trait. When the cover story appeared, there was virtually no outcry due to the post-election delirium and everyday fear-mongering about Russia that is now commonplace in the media.

The overlooked casual racism used to demonize Russia in the new Cold War’s propaganda doesn’t stop there. One of the main architects of Russiagate, former Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, in an interviewwith NBC‘s Meet the Press on the reported meddling stated:

And just the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, which is a typical Russian technique. So we were concerned.”

Clapper, whose Office of the DNI published the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”, has been widely praised and cited by corporate media as a trustworthy source despite his previous history of making intentionally false statements at a public hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee denying that the National Security Agency (NSA) was unconstitutionally spying on U.S. citizens.

The disclosures of NSA activities by whistleblower Edward Snowden that shocked the world should have discredited Clapper’s status as a reliable figure, but not for mainstream media which has continuously colluded with the deep state during the entire Russia investigation. In fact, the scandal has been an opportunity to rehabilitate figures like the ex-spymaster complicit in past U.S. crimes from surveillance to torture. Shortly after the interview with NBC, Clapper repeated his prejudiced sentiments against Russians in a speech at the National Press Club in Australia:

But as far as our being intimate allies, trusting buds with the Russians that is just not going to happen. It is in their genes to be opposed, diametrically opposed, to the United States and to Western democracies.”

The post-election mass Trump derangement has not only enabled wild accusations of treason to be made without sufficient evidence to support them, but such uninhibited xenophobic remarks to go without notice or disapproval.

In fact, liberals have seemingly abandoned their supposed progressive credence across the board while suffering from their anti-Russia neurological disorder. In an exemplar of yellow journalism, outlets like NBC News published sensational articles alleging that because of the perceived ingratiation between Trump and Putin, there was an increase in Russian ‘birth tourism’ in the United States.

More commonly known by the pejorative ‘anchor babies’, birth tourism is the false claim that many immigrants travel to countries for the purpose of having children in order to obtain citizenship. While there may be individual cases, the idea that it is an epidemic is a complete myth?—?the vast majority of immigration is motivated by labor demands and changes in political or socio-economic factors in their native countries, whether it is from the global south or Eastern Europe. Trump has been rightfully criticized for promoting this falsehood regarding undocumented immigrants and his executive orders targeting birthright citizenship, but it appears liberals are willing to unfairly apply this same fallacy toward Russians for political reasons.

In order to make sense of the current groupthink hysteria towards Moscow, it must be understood in its context as an extension of the ongoing doctoring of history regarding U.S.-Russia relations since the Cold War. Americans living within the empire are proselytized into a glorified and nationalist version of their entire background, beginning with merchants and explorers ‘discovering’ the continent and the whitewashing of indigenous genocide. This imaginary narrative includes the version of WWII taught in U.S. schools and the arms race with the Soviet Union that followed. The West presents an entirely Anglospheric perspective of the war starting with its very chronology.

For example, it is said that the conflict ‘officially’ began with the September 1st, 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany. This mythology immediately frames the war from an Eurocentric viewpoint by separating the Sino-Japanese war that was already underway as the Pacific Ocean theater began long before the ‘surprise’ Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and U.S. entry into the conflict.

The truth is that nearly everything Americans are taught about U.S. participation in the war is either a mischaracterization or a lie, with its role in the Allied victory inflated exponentially. The widely held misconception that the 1944 Normandy landings in the Allied invasion of France was the decisive turning point in Europe is a fairy tale. The ‘D’ in D-Day does not stand for ‘decision’ as many Westerners assume, and when the Allied forces converged on Germany from East and West it was the Soviets who captured Berlin.

Although Operation Overlord may have been the largest invasion transported by sea in history, the real watershed in the Great Patriotic War was the Soviet victory in the Battle of Stalingrad the previous year, the biggest defeat ever suffered by the German army. The U.S. only took on the Wehrmacht once it was exhausted by the Red Army which bore the real burden of overcoming Germany.

Just three years earlier, the British army had been completely vanquished by the Nazi armed forces. Omitted from Hollywood folklore like Christopher Nolan’s film Dunkirk is that the Germans were entirely capable of pressing on with an invasion of the British isles but abruptly halted their advance?—?what stopped them? Quite simply, Hitler’s fanatical desire to conquer the Soviet Union and eradicate communism which he regarded as a greater threat to the Third Reich than Western capitalism. It is not surprising that the Eastern Front became a higher priority considering that the ruling classes in Britain, France and the U.S. had previously financed the German rearmament in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.

The Germans did not hold the same hatred for the West that it reserved for the Russians. In fact, the Führer personally admired the U.S. so much for the extermination of its natives that he named his armored private train ‘Amerika’, a mobile version of the Wolf’s Lair. The Nuremberg race statutes were partly inspired by Jim Crow segregation laws in the U.S. and many of the defendants at the Nuremberg trials tried to excuse their atrocities by arguing the similarity between Nazi race theories and the eugenicist movement which actually originated in the United States.

Auschwitz physician Josef Mengele was even previously employed as an assistant to the head of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics institute that was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Hitler also preferred an attack on the Soviets over an invasion of Britain because of the eugenics of Lebensraum. Nazi Germany, like Britain and France, was really an imperial settler colonialist state and Hitler viewed the Slav inhabitants of the USSR as ethnically inferior to the ‘master race.’ The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact had been a strategic move to buy time for the Soviets in preparation for a German onslaught, at the time the most powerful military power in the world.

Britain and France had rebuffed Stalin’s efforts to form an alliance in 1938, leaving the USSR no choice but to sign a non-aggression pact with Germany, knowing full well it was only a matter of time until Hitler would eventually embark on his Masterplan for the East.

Operation Barbarossa, in June 1941, broke the agreement and the German dictator ultimately sealed his own fate. Although the Soviets were victorious, the slaughter that proceeded it had no parallel in human history as 27 million citizens would lose their lives in the fight compared to less than half a million Americans. Even worse, the West has made a mockery of this sacrifice with their refusal to fully acknowledge the USSR’s contribution despite the fact that they did the vast majority of the fighting and dying while 80% of all German casualties were on the Eastern Front.

Meanwhile, the Cold War had already begun before the Second World War even ended. Whether or not Stalin was fully aware of either the U.S. capability or plans to use the atomic bomb against Japan is still a matter of debate, as U.S. President Harry S. Truman changed his story numerous times over the years.

Nevertheless, their use is incorrectly attributed by the West to have brought the war’s end and very few Americans realize this tale was told entirely for political reasons. The purported rationale was to allegedly save the lives of American soldiers that would be lost in a future Allied invasion of Japan planned for the Autumn of 1945. Controlling the narrative became crucial in ‘justifying’ the use of such deadly weapons which held the secret motivation to begin an arms race with the Soviets.

Stalin and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had agreed at the Yalta Conference in February 1945 that the USSR would eventually break its neutrality treaty with Japan and enter the Pacific theater later in the year. That was until Roosevelt died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage just a few months later while American nuclear physicists were busy at work enriching uranium in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Then, just a day prior to newly inaugurated President Truman’s meeting with Stalin at the Potsdam Conference in July, the U.S. army and Project Y successfully detonated a nuclear weapon for the first time with the Trinity test as part of the expensive Manhattan Project. After his face-to-face with Truman at Potsdam, whom everyone agrees at least hinted to Stalin of the new U.S. weaponry, the Soviet premier suspected the new U.S. leader would go back on the previous agreement at Yalta with Roosevelt that included compromises with the USSR in the Pacific.

The ugly truth is that the U.S. was well aware that the Japanese were willing to conditionally surrender on the basis of immunity for Emperor Hirohito. However, the U.S. secretly wanted to achieve an Allied victory ideally without Soviet participation so it could demonstrate its exclusive nuclear capability in order to dominate the post-war order. Japan didn’t relinquish following the first bombing of Hiroshima but the second, Nagasaki, three days later?—?both of which mostly impacted civilians, not its military.

What else happened on August 9th, 1945? The Soviet Union declared war on Japan upon realizing that the U.S. was backtracking on its pledge with the underhanded use of ‘Fat Man and Little Boy’ that instantly killed more than 200,000 civilians. The timing gave the appearance that the bomb resulted in the surrender when it was the Soviet invasion of occupied Manchuria in the north against Japan’s military stronghold that was the real tipping point which led to an unconditional acceptance of defeat.

According to the Western narrative, the Cold War only began following Winston Churchill’s invitation to the U.S. by Truman after being surprisingly voted out of office in 1946. At Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, he gave a speech entitled “Sinews of Peace”, widely known as the Iron Curtain speech, where he condemned Soviet policies in Europe and popularized the moniker for the boundary dividing the continent after the war:

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an “iron curtain” has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.”

Although the term ‘iron curtain’ predates Cold War usage to describe various barriers political or otherwise, what is not commonly known is that Churchill likely appropriated the term from its originator, none other than the German Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels himself, who used it in reference to the Soviet Union. In February 1945, he wrote in Das Reich newspaper:

If the German people lay down their weapons, the Soviets, according to the agreement between Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin, would occupy all of East and Southeast Europe along with the greater part of the Reich. An iron curtain would fall over this enormous territory controlled by the Soviet Union, behind which nations would be slaughtered.”

The ‘Nazi megaphone’ himself may have gotten the term from the Wehrmacht propaganda publication Signal which in 1943 published an article entitled “Behind the Iron Curtain” that described:

He who has listened in on the interrogation of a Soviet prisoner of war knows that once the dam is broken, a flood of words begins as he tries to make clear what he experienced behind the mysterious iron curtain, which more than ever separates the world from the Soviet Union.

Is it any wonder that British newspaper The Guardian is now illustrating cartoons in its anti-Russia propaganda today that imitate Goebbels’ anti-Soviet posters during WWII?

Although Stalin was unaware of Churchill’s lifting of Nazi phraseology, he still detected the resemblance between Western and Third Reich policies toward the Soviet Union in the Fulton speech during an interview with Pravda:

A point to be noted is that in this respect Mr. Churchill and his friends bear a striking resemblance to Hitler and his friends. Hitler began his work of unleashing war by proclaiming a race theory, declaring that only German-speaking people constituted a superior nation.

Mr. Churchill sets out to unleash war with a race theory, asserting that only English-speaking nations are superior nations, who are called upon to decide the destinies of the entire world. The German race theory led Hitler and his friends to the conclusion that the Germans, as the only superior nation, should rule over other nations. The English race theory leads Mr. Churchill and his friends to the conclusion that the English-speaking nations, as the only superior nations, should rule over the rest of the nations of the world.

Actually, Mr. Churchill, and his friends in Britain and the United States, present to the non-English speaking nations something in the nature of an ultimatum: “Accept our rule voluntarily, and then all will be well; otherwise war is inevitable.”

But the nations shed their blood in the course of five years’ fierce war for the sake of the liberty and independence of their countries, and not in order to exchange the domination of the Hitlers for the domination of the Churchills. It is quite probable, accordingly, that the non-English-speaking nations, which constitute the vast majority of the population of the world, will not agree to submit to a new slavery.”

It is easy to see the parallels between Stalin’s explanation for the geopolitical tensions underlying the Cold War and Edward Said’s postcolonial theory. From a Marxist perspective, one of Said’s shortcomings was a reductionism in understanding empire to cultural supremacy, one of the reasons he unfortunately conflated Marxism with Orientalism as well. When it came to the Cold War, Said also demonstrated a lack of understanding of internationalism. He wrote:

By the time of the Bandung Conference in 1955, the entire Orient had gained its independence from the Western empires and gained a new configuration of imperial powers, the United States and the Soviet Union. Unable to recognize “its” Orient in the new Third World, Orientalism now faced a challenging and politically armed Orient.”

Yet who foremost ‘armed’ the movements of national liberation? The USSR, including support for the Palestinians during most of its history. Nevertheless, Stalin’s description of the West’s prerogative for post-war hegemony based on the belief in its primacy has many overlaps with the idea that the Occident exercised patronizing dominance over the East.

Today, even though the Berlin Wall has long since fallen and Eastern Europe is under free enterprise, the political establishment in the West is still clinging to this attitude and misunderstanding of Moscow to fulfill its need for a permanent global nemesis with a desire to eventually colonize Russia with foreign capital as it did under Boris Yeltsin.

Russia has historically possessed a unique and ambivalent identity located between the East and West, having been invaded by both European and Asian empires in previous centuries. Said included Russia in Orientalism in his analysis of European countries and their attitude toward the East, but did not note that Russia is in many respects the Orient within the Occident, as more than 75% of its territory as the largest nation in the world is actually located in Asia while three quarters of its population live on the European side.

Russia may be partly European, but it is certainly not Western. Then again, Europe is not a continent unto itself but geographically connected to Asia with the arbitrary division between them based on cultural differences, not landmass, where Russia is an intermediate. Expansionism under Peter the Great may have brought Western European ‘cultural values’ and modernization to Russia, but the majority of its territory itself remains in Asia.

Even after the presumed end of the Cold War, Russia has been excluded from the European Union and instead joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), while developing strong ties with China. As recently disclosed documents from the National Security Archive prove, NATO has broken its promise to Mikhail Gorbachev during the George H.W. Bush administration that it not expand eastward following Germany’s enrollment. It has since added 13 countries since 1999, 10 of which were former Warsaw Pact states.

Russia’s alliance with China has been solidified precisely because it is still not treated in the same regard as other European nations even after the adoption of a private sector economy. In order to justify its continued armament and avoid obsolescence, NATO has manufactured an adversarial relationship with Moscow.

Contrary to the widespread perception of his rhetoric, in terms of policy-making President Trump has been equally as hostile to Moscow as his predecessors, if not more so in light of the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). What the usual suspects behind the attempted soft-coup against him fail to understand is that Trump’s tact toward Putin is more likely an inverted version of the ‘only Nixon could go to China’ strategy, an unexpected style of diplomacy based on the pragmatic objective of containing Beijing by dividing America’s two primary foes.

The liberals still in denial about their election defeat continue to underestimate Trump, but the Chinese are not fooled. The architect behind Nixon’s détente with Mao, Henry Kissinger, is even believed to have encouraged Trump to ease tensions with Moscow in order to quarantine China and don’t think they haven’t noticed. Ultimately, the divide between Trump and his enemies in the establishment is really a disagreement over strategy in how to surround China and prevent the inevitable downfall of the U.S. empire.

The ongoing demonization of Moscow is ultimately about China as well. It was only a matter of time until the uncertain allegations of election interference were also leveled against Beijing without proof as a Joint Statement from the U.S. intelligence agencies recently showed.

Make no mistake? - ?underneath the West’s Russophobia lies Sinophobia and as Washington’s real geopolitical challenger, China will in due course emerge as the preferred bogeyman. The bipartisan hawkishness has created an environment where rapprochement and diplomacy of any kind is seen as weakness and even a sign of treason, making the prospect of peace seemingly impossible. As China continues to grow, it will find itself more squarely in the crosshairs of imperialism, regardless of whether Trump’s strategy to renew relations with Moscow against Beijing is successful. Until then cooler heads at the highest levels of government must prevail as they thankfully did at the height of the first Cold War for the sake of peace between Russia, the U.S. and the entire world.

Published:3/11/2019 1:03:57 AM
[In The News] Dark Money Org Gave $2 Million to Group Funding Fusion GPS, Steele

By Chuck Ross -

A dark money group based in California contributed $2 million to The Democracy Integrity Project, the organization that has contracted with Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele to investigate President Donald Trump. The Democracy Integrity Project’s founder, a former staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, has acknowledged to the FBI that the ...

Dark Money Org Gave $2 Million to Group Funding Fusion GPS, Steele 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:3/10/2019 9:31:43 PM
[Markets] Real Collusion: Leaked Documents Reveal DoJ Protected Steele After FBI Shunning

Authored by Kit Klarenberg via SputnikNews.com,

Steele was cut off by the FBI for revealing his relationship with the Bureau to the media - but Ohr continued to pass information from Steele to his colleagues, regularly spoke to him via email and phone, and met up with him face-to-face on several occasions.

Information watchdog Judicial Watch has released 339-pages of US Department of Justice records, revealing former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr remained in regular contact with ex-MI6 operative Christopher Steele after Steele's status as a paid confidential informant was terminated by the FBI in November 2016.

"These smoking gun documents show Christopher Steele, a Hillary Clinton operative and anti-Trump foreign national, secretly worked hand-in-glove with the Justice Department on its illicit targeting of President Trump. These documents leave no doubt that for more than a year after the FBI fired Christopher Steele for leaking, and for some 10 months after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, Bruce Ohr continued to act as a go-between for Steele with the FBI and Justice Department. The anti-Trump Russia investigation, now run by Robert Mueller, has been thoroughly compromised by this insider corruption," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

?Whether an accurate appraisal or not, it's clear from the assorted communications Ohr was determined to ensure Steele retained access to the Bureau, and this contact remained hidden from public view - for instance, when acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired by Trump January 2017, Steele feared Ohr would be fired too, and texted him to express his "sympathy and support".

"If you end up out, I really need another contact point/number who is briefed. We can't allow our guy to be forced to go back home. It would be disastrous all round, though his position right now looks stable. A million thanks," Steele wrote.

In response, Ohr assured the Orbis chief he could "certainly" give him an FBI contact "if it becomes necessary".

On 6 March that year, Senator Chuck Grassley wrote to then-FBI Director James Comey, seeking clarity on the nature of Steele's relationship with the FBI. The next day, Steele texted Ohr to say he was "very concerned" by the letter, and its "possible implications for our operations and sources…We need some reassurance…Really fundamental issues at stake here".

Days later, with Comey scheduled to testify before Congress, Steele told Ohr he was "a bit apprehensive" and hoped "important firewalls will hold". On 24 March, Ohr and Steele discussed their "response" to the testimony, as he understood "an approach from the Senate Intelligence Committee" to Orbis was imminent.

On 26 October, Steele said he's "very concerned" about documents the FBI intended to turn over to Congress about his work and "relationship with them".

"Can we have a word tomorrow please? Just seen a story in the media about the Bureau handing over docs to Congress…Peoples live may be engangered [sic]," he despaired.

On 18 November, an again anxious Steele told Ohr it'd been "another tough week here" due to being "under the media spotlight" and the "legal pressures bearing down on us".

"Also, we remain in the dark as to what has been briefed to Congress about us, our assets and previous work. I know you understand the importance of all this and have done your very best to support us…Sincere thanks for everything you are doing and I hope to speak to you again soon," Steele texted.

In response, Ohr said he appreciated the "difficulties and uncertainty" he'd been experiencing.

Adding to the intrigue, the documents also reveal Ohr's wife Nellie - hired as an 'independent contractor' by Fusion GPS during the November 2016 Presidential election - sent numerous emails and reports to her husband and other Justice Department officials on Russia issues. Ohr has never been questioned about this clear conflict of interest since, much less punished.

Judicial Watch has unearthed a vast number of documents exposing Steele's intimate relationship with US authorities and the Clinton campaign - in July 2018, the organization released 412 pages of documents related to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants targeting Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser. The organization claimed the files confirmed the FBI and Department of Justice misled courts and withheld information proving Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee provided the "intelligence" used to persuade the courts to approve FISA warrants targeting the Trump team.

Published:3/10/2019 3:03:49 PM
[Politics] Sen.Kennedy: FBI Political Partisans 'Should Hang Their Head in Shame' Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and others who politicized the agency "should hang their head in shame...and put their head in a bag," Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said Sunday. Published:3/10/2019 11:59:00 AM
[House of Representatives] What Bruce Ohr said (Scott Johnson) On Friday Rep. Doug Collins released the transcript of Bruce Ohr’s testimony to the House Oversight Committee this past August. I have embedded the 268-page transcript below via Scribd. Ohr appeared before the committee voluntarily, not under subpoena, in connection with its investigation of bias within the Department of Justice and the FBI. He is a key participant in the Obama administration activities that, taken together, amount to one helluva Published:3/10/2019 8:31:33 AM
[Markets] Mueller's Manafort Scam: 4 Years In The Slammer For Helping Ukraine Against Russia!

Authored by Andrew McCarthy via The National Review,

Paul Manafort Was an Agent of Ukraine, Not Russia

He is a scoundrel, but he was never a Kremlin operative.

Paul Manafort, the clandestine agent of Russia at the heart of the Trump campaign’s “collusion” scand - oh, wait.

Have you ever noticed what Paul Manafort’s major crime was? After two years of investigation, after the predawn raid in which his wife was held at gunpoint, after months of solitary confinement that have left him a shell of his former self, have you noticed what drew the militant attention of the Obama Justice Department, the FBI, and, ultimately, a special counsel who made him the centerpiece of Russia-gate?

According to the indictment Robert Mueller filed against him, Manafort was an unregistered “agent of the Government of Ukraine.” He also functioned as an agent of Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president from 2010 to 2014, and of two political parties, the Party of Regions and its successor, the Opposition Bloc.

Manafort was not an unregistered agent of Russia. Mueller never alleged that Manafort was a clandestine operative of the Kremlin. He worked for Ukraine, not Putin. Indeed, for much of his time in Ukraine, he pushed his clients against Putin’s interests.

Mueller’s prosecutors looked on glumly Thursday as Manafort was sentenced to a mere 47 months’ imprisonment by Judge T. S. Ellis III of the federal court in Alexandria, Va. After rescinding the cooperation agreement they had extended Manafort following his convictions at trial, Mueller’s team had pressed for a sentence of up to 24 years for the 70-year-old former Trump campaign chairman. The judge demurred, pointedly observing that Manafort was “not before this court for anything having to do with collusion with the Russian government to influence [the 2016] election.”

The prosecutors won’t be chagrined long, of course. Against Manafort, one case with a potential century of jail time was not enough. There’s a case in Washington, too. There, Manafort will be sentenced next week, by a different judge who will surely impose a sentence more to the special counsel’s liking. The knowledge of that, more than anything else, explains Judge Ellis’s comparative wrist-slap, which ignored sentencing guidelines that called for a severe prison term.

Those guidelines were driven by prodigious financial fraud, not espionage. No one has even alleged espionage — even though the investigation was aggressive, even though the two indictments charge numerous felonies, and even though Mueller has had as his star informant witness Manafort’s longtime sidekick, Richard Gates, a fellow fraudster who was deeply involved in his partner’s work for foreign governments.

Understand:

Paul Manafort would never have been prosecuted if he had not joined Donald Trump’s campaign. He would not have been prosecuted if Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 election and spared Democrats the need to conjure up a reason to explain their defeat - something other than nominating a lousy candidate who stopped campaigning too early.

Manafort’s Ukrainian work was not a secret. By the time of the 2016 campaign, he’d been at it for over a dozen years. He wasn’t alone. Not even close. An array of American political consultants flocked to post-Soviet Ukraine because that’s where the money was. Manafort worked for the Party of Regions, led by Yanukovych. The Obama consultants worked for Yanukovych’s rival, Yulia Tymoshenko — the populist-socialist who sometimes colluded with Putin and other times posed as his opponent. The Clinton consultants lined up with Viktor Yuschenko, Putin’s generally pro-Western bête noire, who was nearly assassinated by Kremlin operatives and who navigated between east and west.

What you may already notice is that Ukraine is complicated. That collusion narrative you’ve been sold since November 8, 2016? It’s a caricature.

The people peddling it know that Americans are clueless about the intricacies of politics in a former Soviet satellite and the grubby bipartisan cesspool of international political consultancy. You are thus to believe that the Party of Regions was nothing but a cat’s paw of Moscow; that Manafort went to work for Yanukovych, the party’s Putin puppet; and that Manafort’s entrée into the Trump campaign was a Kremlin coup, a Russian plot to control of the White House.

Sure. But then . . . where’s the collusion charge? If that’s what happened, where is the special counsel’s big indictment of a Trump–Russia conspiracy, with Manafort at its core?

There is no such case because the collusion narrative distorts reality.

Manafort is not a good guy. He did business and made lots of money with Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs who, largely through their organized-crime connections, made their fortunes in the post-Soviet gangster-capitalism era, when the spoils of an empire were up for grabs.

Manafort got himself deeply in hock with some of these tycoons. He may owe over $25 million to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian aluminum magnate. Deripaska, you’ve repeatedly been told, is Putin’s oligarch. That may be true — they are close enough for Putin to have intervened on his behalf when the U.S. government imposed travel restrictions. But former senator Bob Dole intervened on Deripaska’s behalf, too. So did the FBI, when they thought Deripaska could help them rescue an agent detained in Iran. So did Christopher Steele, the former British spy of Steele-dossier infamy.

Having business with Deripaska did not make Manafort a Russian spy. No more than taking $500,000 from a Kremlin-tied bank made Bill Clinton a Russian spy. For a quarter century, the United States government encouraged commerce with Russia, notwithstanding that it is anti-American and run like a Mafia family. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton worked with the Putin regime to develop Moscow’s version of Silicon Valley. Business with Russia was like what the Clintons used to tell us about lies about sex: Everybody does it.

Manafort’s business eventually soured. There is good reason to believe that, once he was installed as chairman of the Trump campaign — when Trump looked like a sure GOP-nomination winner and general-election loser — Manafort tried to monetize his position of influence. He hoped to make himself “whole,” as he put it, by demonstrating that he was once again a political force to be reckoned with — offering Deripaska briefings on the campaign, offering his Ukrainian oligarch benefactors polling data showing that Trump had a real chance to win.

Manafort likes the high life. Running with this crowd helped him live it, and helped him hide most of his money overseas, in accounts he could stealthily access without sharing his millions with the taxman.

But all that said, Manafort was not a Russian agent. Even Robert Mueller, who went after him hammer and tongs, never accused him of that.

When his Ukrainian oligarch sponsors asked him to take Yanukovych on as a client, Manafort was reluctant. Yanukovych was essentially a thug who grew up in the Soviet system. The corruption of the 2004 presidential election, which Yanukovych’s Kremlin-backed supporters tried to steal, ignited Kiev’s Orange Revolution. Manafort, a cold-blooded Republican operative who had cut his teeth fighting off the Reagan revolution in the 1976 Ford campaign, calculated that Yanukovych was damaged goods.

But in the shadowy world of international political consultancy, money talks and scruple walks. Manafort’s oligarch patrons made the Regions reconstruction project worth his while. He remade Yanukovych from the ground up: Learn English, warm to Europe, embrace integration in the European Union, endorse competitive democracy, be the candidate of both EU-leaning Kiev and Russia-leaning Donbas.

This was not a Putin agenda. It was an agenda for Ukraine, a country with a split personality that needs cordial relations with the neighborhood bully to the east as it fitfully lurches westward. Regions was a pro-Russia party, but that is not the same thing as being Russia. What the oligarchs want is autonomy so they can run their profitable fiefdoms independent of Kiev. They leverage Moscow against the EU . . . except when they talk up EU integration to ensure that they are not swallowed up by Moscow. What the oligarchs mainly are is corrupt, which suited Manafort fine.

The unsavory business was successful for a time. Regions returned to power. Yanukovych finally won the presidency and immediately announced that “integration with the EU remains our strategic aim.” It was a triumph for Manafort, but a short-lived one. While Yanukovych rhapsodized about rising to Western standards, he ran his administration in the Eastern authoritarian style, enriching his allies and imprisoning his rivals.

The latter included Tymoshenko, who was prosecuted over a gas deal she had entered when she was prime minister — with Putin. Russia bitterly criticized her prosecution, and when she was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment, the Kremlin blasted Yanukovych’s government for pursuing her “exclusively for political motives.” Manafort, meanwhile, continued to airbrush Yanukovych’s image in the West, scheming with lobbyists and a law firm to help him defend the controversial Tymoshenko trial — a scheme abetted by lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, who eventually pled guilty to making false statements to Mueller’s investigators.

Yanukovych’s moment of truth came in late 2013. He was poised to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, a framework for integration. Putin furiously turned up the heat: blocking Ukrainian imports, drastically reducing Ukrainian exports, bleeding billions of trade dollars from Kiev’s economy, threatening to cut off all gas supplies and drive Ukraine into default. Manafort pleaded with his client to stick with the EU. Yanukovych caved, however, declining to enter the Association Agreement and making an alternative pact with Putin to assure gas supplies and financial aid.

It was over this decision that the Euromaidan protests erupted. Yanukovych fled the country in early 2014, given sanctuary in Moscow. Subsequently, Regions renounced Yanukovych, blaming him for the outbreak of violence and for looting the treasury. The party disbanded, with many of its members reemerging as the Opposition Bloc, the party to which Manafort gravitated — along with his partner, Konstantin Kilimnik, and his lobbyist associate, W. Samuel Patten. (Like Manafort, Patten has pled guilty to working as an unregistered agent of Ukraine; Kilimnik, who is in Russia, was indicted by Mueller for helping Manafort tamper with witnesses.)

Paul Manafort is a scoundrel. He was willing to do most anything for money - even offering to burnish Putin’s image as he burnished Yanukovych’s. But Manafort was never a Kremlin operative working against his own country, except in the fever dreams of the Clinton campaign’s Steele dossier. And his crimes notwithstanding, he’d be a free man today if Mrs. Clinton had won. Instead, he’ll be sentenced yet again next week. And this time, he’ll get slammed.

Published:3/9/2019 9:56:09 PM
[Markets] Bruce Ohr's Testimony Contradicts Testimony Provided By Rosenstein And Simpson

Authored by Sara Carter,

Department of Justice senior official Bruce Ohr’s testimony contradicts testimony given by other senior government officials and key witnesses who testified before Congress regarding the FBI’s investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign and alleged collusion with the Russian government, according to the full transcripts released Friday.

Ohr’s 268-page testimony, released by Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, reveals inconsistency and contradiction in testimony given by Glenn Simpson, founder of embattled research firm Fusion GPS and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is set to leave his post sometime this month.

It also reveals that many questions are still left unanswered.

The Contradictions and The Revelations 

1. Glenn Simpson suggests in his testimony to the Senate that he never spoke to anyone at the FBI about Christopher Steele, the former British spy he hired to investigate the Trump campaign during the election. However, Ohr suggests otherwise telling former Rep.Trey Gowdy under questioning “As I recall, and this is after checking with my notes, Mr. Simpson and I spoke in August of 2016. I met with him, and he provided some information on possible intermediaries between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.”

2. In another instance, Simpson’s testimony also contradicts notes taken by Ohr after a meeting they had in December, 2016. Unverified allegations were decimated among the media that the Trump campaign had a computer server that was linked to a Russian bank in Moscow: Alpha Bank. Simpson suggested to the Senate that he knew very little about the Trump -Alpha Bank server story and couldn’t provide information. But Bruce Ohr’s own handwritten notes state that when he met with Simpson in December 2016, Simpson was concerned over the Alpha Bank story in the New York Times. “The New York Times story on Oct. 31 downplaying the connection between Alfa servers and the Trump campaign was incorrect. There was communication and it wasn’t spam,” stated Ohr’s notes. This suggests that Simpson was well aware of the story, which was believed by congressional investigators to have started from his research firm.

3. Ohr testified to lawmakers that Simpson provided information to federal officials that was false regarding Cleta Mitchell, a well-known Republican campaign finance lawyer, and information regarding the National Rifle Association. Sean Davis, with the Federalist pointed this out in a tweet today. Read one of those stories here.

4. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would not answer questions to lawmakers during testimony about when he learned that Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, was working for Fusion GPS. Just check this out from Rep. Matt Gaetz’s interview with Judge Jeanine on Fox News.

“Rod Rosenstein won’t tell us when he first learned that Nellie Ohr was working for Fusion GPS,” said Gaetz, in August, 2018.

“So I want to know from Bruce Ohr, when did he tell his colleagues at the Department of Justice that in violation of law that required him to disclose his wife’s occupation his sources of income. He did not do that. So when did all of the other people at the Department of Justice find this out because Rod Rosenstein, I’ve asked him twice in open hearing and he will not give an answer. I think there’s a real smoking gun there.”

However, in Ohr’s testimony he says he told the FBI about his wife’s role at Fusion GPS but only divulged his role to one person at the DOJ: Rosenstein. At the time, Rosenstein was overseeing the Trump-Russia probe, and had taken the information from Ohr and gave it to the FBI. Just read The Hill’s John Solomon full story here for the full background on Ohr’s testimony. I highlighted an important date below: remember Rosenstein wouldn’t answer lawmakers questions as to when he knew about Nellie Ohr. It also appears he failed to tell lawmakers about the information he delivered to the FBI.

Ohr stated in his testimony: “What I had said, I think, to Mr. Rosenstein in October of 2017 was that my wife was working for Fusion GPS… The dossier, as I understand it, is the collection of reports that Chris Steele has prepared for Fusion GPS.”

Ohr added: “My wife had separately done research on certain Russian people and companies or whatever that she had provided to Fusion GPS…But I don’t believe her information is reflected in the Chris Steele reports. They were two different chunks of information heading into Fusion GPS.”

5. Ohr also told lawmakers in his testimony that the former British spy, Christopher Steele was being paid by the FBI at the same time he was getting paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC. However, there was another player paying Steele and it was a Russian oligarch named Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska, a tycoon connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin, had well known animus toward his former friend Paul Manafort.

Rep. Mark Meadows asked Ohr during testimony “Did Chris Steele get paid by the Department of Justice?

Ohr’s response: “My understanding is that for a time he was a source for the FBI, a paid source.

In the testimony Ohr also revealed that Steele had told him details about his work with Deripaska saying Deripaska’s attorney Paul Hauser “had information about Paul Manafort, that Paul Manafort had entered into some kind of business deal with” Deripaska. Ohr said Manafort “had stolen a large amount of money from” the Russian Oligarch and that Hauser was “trying to gather information that would show that.”

Published:3/9/2019 7:55:41 PM
[Markets] Lindsey Graham Doubles Down On FISA Abuse Probe As House Democrats Fire Up Post-Mueller Investigations

Days after the Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee fired off 81 document requests for their post-Mueller investigations (in anticipation of a 'disappointing' Mueller report) - Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham has revived his committee's probe into potential surveillance abuse by the FBI. 

In a Thursday letter to Attorney General William Barr - just three weeks on the job, Graham asked for all FBI and DOJ documents which would explain what steps were taken to verify the Steele dossier before it was used by the FBI to obtain a surveillance warrant on a Trump campaign staffer. 

The FBI relied heavily on Steele’s report to obtain four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Republicans investigated whether the FBI misled the FISA court by relying on the dossier even though its allegations about Page were unverified. They also asserted the FBI failed to tell surveillance court judges that Steele was working on behalf of the DNC and Clinton campaign on an investigation of Donald Trump. -Daily Caller

Graham also notified Barr that he is investigating the FBI's original decision making process behind opening up investigations of Trump campaign associates in 2016 - including, we assume, the decision to infiltrate the campaign using Stefan Halper - a former Oxford University professor and longtime intelligence asset who was paid over $1 million by the Obama Department of Defense between 2012 and 2018, with nearly half of it surrounding the 2016 US election. 

Furthermore, Graham has requested: 

  • All documents and communications originally shared with the Gang of Eight in May 2018 related to the Russia investigation. 
  • All "FD-302" forms for former DOJ #4 Bruce Ohr and any other individual at the Department, the FBI, or elsewhere in the federal government who received information from individuals outside the Department or the FBI that was used in the Carter Page FISA applications

A "302" serves to "report or summarize" witness interviews involved in FBI investigations - while Ohr's testimony was recently found to have contradicted that of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson.

Read Graham's letter below: 

Published:3/9/2019 2:54:11 PM
[Entertainment] Jennie Garth Responds to Criticism Over Not Posting Luke Perry Tribute on Social Media Jennie Garth, Luke Perry, Beverly Hills, 90210Newsflash: Just because something isn't on social media, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. This includes Jennie Garth's grief over Luke Perry's death. Fans have recently...
Published:3/9/2019 12:53:58 PM
[Congressional Hall Monitor] Lindsey Graham Reboots FISA Abuse Investigation With Expansive DOJ Document

By Chuck Ross -

Lindsey Graham slams democrats for unethical behavior -4

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham is resuming an investigation of potential surveillance abuse by the FBI with an expansive request for records related to the bureau’s vetting of the Steele dossier. In a letter sent Thursday to Attorney General William Barr, Graham asked for all FBI and Justice Department ...

Lindsey Graham Reboots FISA Abuse Investigation With Expansive DOJ Document 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:3/7/2019 9:45:08 PM
[In The News] DOJ Official Bruce Ohr Fraternized With Dossier Author Long After FBI Barred Using Him As Source

By Luke Rosiak -

Newly released documents provide evidence of the close relationship between top Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr and former British spy Christopher Steele, who authored the Steele dossier. Steele was terminated by the FBI as an informant in November 2016 for defying the FBI’s orders by revealing his relationship with ...

DOJ Official Bruce Ohr Fraternized With Dossier Author Long After FBI Barred Using Him As Source 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:3/7/2019 5:44:42 PM
[Markets] Martin Shkreli Is Running His Company From Prison Using A Contraband Cellphone

Don't call it a comeback, because even though he's 16 months in to a seven-year federal prison sentence, Martin Shkreli has never stopped running Phoenixus - the re-branded iteration of Shkreli's Turing Pharmaceuticals - at least not according to the Wall Street Journal. Wielding a contraband cellphone, Shkreli has been calling the shots at the company, quashing boardroom rebellions and even almost firing a CEO.

Though he might be forced to sell some of his stake in Turing to pay court mandated restitution, as of now, Shkreli remains Phoenixus's largest shareholder. And he's made the company the focus of his long-term plan to emerge from incarceration even wealthier than he started.

In a long-winded profile of Shkreli sourced from interviews with Phoenixus investors, employees and friends and acquaintances of Shkreli (Dix refused to grant WSJ's interview request), the paper explored how Shkreli has managed to maintain an online presence, run his company, and continue the research that informs his investment decisions.

Shkreli

As with all things related to Shkreli since he first surfaced in the public's awareness in late 2015, the federal government is investigating. The FBI has reportedly interviewed several Shkreli associates about his role at the company.

Though investors and analysts would beg to differ, Shkreli reportedly believes that his company will be worth some $4.3 billion by the time he gets out of prison in 2023.

His back-of-the-commissary-envelope calculation indicates that Phoenixus could be worth $3.7 billion by the time he is due to be freed in 2023, according to a person familiar with his thinking. His plan involves acquiring more rare drugs in various stages of development and plowing money into an ambitious research-and-development agenda. Both are guided by his long days reading pharmaceutical research. He has, for now, abandoned the strategy that led to his explosion into the limelight in 2015 when Turing raised the cost of an HIV drug to $750 per pill from $13.50.

The company’s minority shareholders are tired of big promises and want to curtail Mr. Shkreli’s influence so the company can be sold. "This investment is an absolute disaster," says Austrian interior designer Sabine Gritti, who owns a million-dollar stake in Phoenixus. "We can’t get information, and anything they do send out, we don’t know if it is trustworthy."

Others say they fear an attempt from Mr. Shkreli to enrich himself by seizing control of the cash-rich company through complicated financial transactions.

Flexing his muscle on the board, Shkreli has used his influence on the board to fend off acquisitions that he felt severely undervalued the company, including one that valued Phoenixus - a portmanteau of 'Phoenix' and the Latin word 'Nixus' or struggle - at $100 million. He recently told investors that he believes the company is worth $500 million and, in a passionately worded letter, appeared to win some over after he pleaded with them to allow him to finish his work.

In April 2017, Mr. Shkreli argued that Mr. Tilles was spending too much money and persuaded the board to fire him as chief executive, but kept him on as a director. Mr. Tilles’s successor, Turing’s former chief scientist Eliseo Salinas, was fired after less than two months. It was then that Mr. Shkreli proposed a new five-person board that included three of his former employees and an acquaintance.

Mr. Shkreli, in a missive to shareholders, wrote that he estimated the company was worth $500 million. "Many of you have profited from my other ventures,” he wrote. “This one will generate an enormous return, as well, if you let it."

And in a hint that there could be more legal troubles ahead for Shkreli, one person involved in one of the blocked transactions told WSSJ they received a threatening message warning them to back off.

After one person involved in the nixed sale expressed misgivings to others, he received a text message from an unlisted number that couldn't be traced. "You like talking to people about Turing? Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad," the message read. “We are watching and listening.”

So far, at least, Shkreli's prison experience doesn't appear to be anything out of the ordinary. Guards still mispronounce his name. He has at times lost contact with the outside world due to stints in solitary confinement. In his spare time, he exercises (he reportedly can do 15 push ups now) and cares for prison cats.

From prison, Mr. Shkreli phoned in advice to company officials when he could. He hasn’t always been plugged in. He spent a few weeks in solitary confinement for unspecified violations and suffered a painful infection after needing dental fillings. Perennially slight of build, he has gained weight and plans to begin a weightlifting program, says Christie Smythe, an author writing a book about Mr. Shkreli who has visited him several times in prison. He can now do 15 push-ups in a row.

He has seen a prison therapist and taken on the job of caring for prison cats. He occasionally argues with his cellmates about proper grammar.

“The guards still mispronounce his name repeatedly, which he thinks is on purpose," Ms. Smythe says. Based on testimony at Mr. Shkreli’s congressional hearing in 2016, the “h” is nearly silent.

Asked about the arrangement by WSJ, one Phoenixus board member told the paper that Shkreli having a phone was "widely known."

Akeel Mithani, a Phoenixus board member, said in an email that Mr. Shkreli "gets treated like any other shareholder." He said the fact that Mr. Shkreli has a cellphone in prison is “widely known” but that his “business related communication is limited via his lawyers.”

For anybody wondering who might have exposed Shkreli by informing WSJ, the section of the story about the opaque deals that Shkreli has reportedly been directing from prison might hold a few clues.

As of the end of September, Phoenixus had $37.7 million of cash, according to the company’s private third-quarter financial statement. It reported $48.3 million of sales for the year to date, with a $10.3 million net loss after operating expenses including $9.4 million spent on unspecified “research and development,” the statement says.

Mr. Shkreli recently oversaw a series of Phoenixus deals it hopes will lead to new cash cows like Daraprim, people familiar with the matter say. In September, it signed a commitment to provide $20 million to Orphan Star Therapeutics LLC to work on drug candidates for several rare diseases, according to people familiar with the deal. Orphan Star’s public announcement didn’t name Phoenixus and the company didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In January, Phoenixus told shareholders it licensed one of its drugs to Seelos Therapeutics ,receiving $1.5 million and 250,000 shares in Seelos.

Investors were given little information about the deals, they say. Seelos didn’t comment.

“We suspect a lot of self-dealing,” Mr. des Pallieres says, citing Mr. Shkreli’s checkered history. He is banding together with other investors to push for more insight into the company’s operations, and to force a sale.

Translation: Phoenixus's captive investors are tired of Shkreli, and are eager to get at least some of their money returned through a hasty deal. Outing Shkreli in WSJ virtually guarantees that prison officials will crack down - he can kiss his contraband cellphone goodbye. It might even earn him some more time in the hole.

The only question is: Will this buy investors enough time to until the Feds can force Shkreli to liquidate more of his Pheonixus stake?

Published:3/7/2019 5:12:12 PM
[Politics] Michael Cohen’s lawyer CONFIRMS that Michael Cohen lied to Congress! Two days ago we told you about a report that Michael Cohen’s lawyers asked Trump’s legal team about a pardon after his house was raided by the FBI, suggesting Cohen lied during . . . Published:3/7/2019 8:40:03 AM
[Politics] Michael Cohen’s lawyer CONFIRMS that Michael Cohen lied to Congress! Two days ago we told you about a report that Michael Cohen’s lawyers asked Trump’s legal team about a pardon after his house was raided by the FBI, suggesting Cohen lied during . . . Published:3/7/2019 8:40:03 AM
[Markets] Michael Cohen Asked Lawyer To Seek Trump Pardon

Remember when Michael Cohen told the House Oversight Committee last week the he "never asked" for a presidential pardon? As it turns out, that wasn't true.

Earlier this week, WSJ reported that, shortly after the FBI had raided Cohen's home, office and hotel room, Cohen's lawyer, Stephen Ryan, met with several Trump administration attorneys, including Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani and Joanna Hendon, who insinuated that a presidential pardon wouldn't be forthcoming should Cohen face conviction.

Cohen

Now, the Murdoch-owned paper has followed up its original report with something even more damning: While Cohen could have easily claimed that he didn't instruct his lawyer to ask about a pardon, the paper  said Thursday that Cohen had in fact asked about a pardon, citing comments from his attorney, Lanny Davis. According to Davis, Cohen explicitly told Ryan to "explore possibilities of a pardon."

Lanny Davis, a lawyer for Mr. Cohen, said Wednesday that in the months after the FBI raid, Mr. Cohen was open to a pardon from the president.

"During that time period, he directed his attorney to explore possibilities of a pardon at one point with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani as well as other lawyers advising President Trump," Mr. Davis said. He referred to the discussions with the president’s lawyers as the "ongoing 'dangling' of a possible pardon by Trump representatives privately and in the media."

Ostensibly, Ryan met with the Trump attorneys to review documents and files that had been seized from Cohen's office after Cohen entered into a joint defense agreement with the Trump legal team. However, Cohen later broke with that agreement and started cooperating with Manhattan prosecutors. Around that time, he hired Davis, a Clinton-linked Democratic super attorney.

Still, Davis argued that Cohen's statement to the House Committee had been truthful because he had instructed Davis to "never accept a pardon" from Trump.

"After July 2, 2018, Mr. Cohen authorized me as a new lawyer to say publicly Mr. Cohen would never accept a pardon from President Trump even if offered. That continues to be the case," Mr. Davis said Wednesday. "His statement at the Oversight Hearing was true—and consistent with his post-joint defense agreement commitment to tell the truth."

Congressional investigators have been probing conversations between lawyers for Mr. Cohen and the president about possible pardons, according to document requests issued Monday by the House Judiciary Committee to dozens of Trump associates, including Mr. Sekulow and Mr. Cohen.

Davis's revelation about Cohen's seeking a pardon came after the House Judiciary (led by Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler) subpoenaed dozens of Trump administration and campaign officials and associates as it seeks to revive the Russia collusion narrative. Both Cohen and Sekulow were among the individuals who received subpoenas.

So, will Cohen face any repercussions for lying to Congress again last week? We somehow doubt the Democrat-controlled House will make this a high priority, particularly as Cohen prepares to report to jail in May.

Published:3/7/2019 5:39:38 AM
[Security] Portland Putting Itself at Risk by Leaving the Joint Terrorism Task Force

Last month, the Portland, Ore., City Council voted to leave the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, one of our nation’s first lines of defense against... Read More

The post Portland Putting Itself at Risk by Leaving the Joint Terrorism Task Force appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:3/6/2019 4:37:22 PM
[Markets] Democrats Search For A Crime To Punish Trump And Americans Who Voted For Him

Authored by Sara Carter,

The House Judiciary Committee’s Democratic Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler is a man in search of a crime. Nadler and his colleague House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff have moved the conversation from Russian collusion and are now promising to investigate virtually everything connected to President Donald Trump.

Mind you, we the tax payers will be paying for these investigations and it will drag America and the administration into another two years of endless witch hunts.

Yes, a witch-hunt.

Can you imagine if someone despised you so much that all they did day in and day out was search for something, anything, that would get those around you to doubt your intentions. Imagine having to fight every single day of your life against never ending accusations. Even when those accusations are later proven false it won’t matter because the original lie has already been thoroughly disseminated far and wide among the population.

Why are Nadler, D-NY, and Schiff, D-CA, promising these investigations? Because they want to impeach Trump. It’s just that simple. They also want to send a message to the American people: your vote really didn’t matter because in the end it’s Congress that holds the power.

Think about that. There was never any evidence of crime that called for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to establish a special counsel. Yet, he did. In fact, he wrote the letter authorizing Trump to fire former FBI Director James Comey. Comey would’ve been fired the first day had Hillary Clinton been president.

However, obstruction charges are at the top of the Nadler’s list of investigations. He also promises to investigate all of Trump’s financial dealings and past business associations.

Nadler and Schiff are creating their own special counsel.

Why? The pair realize that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report will not do the damage they were hoping it would. Both Democratic leaders, supported by their party, realize that Mueller has found no evidence of a conspiracy with the Russians.

It has left believers like Schiff, Nadler and many former Obama Administration officialswho’ve worked diligently over the past several years to destroy Trump, seething.

They do not want to go on the defensive.

Nadler and Schiff don’t want to explain that their narrative has been debunked. They do not want Americans to look too close because in the end what will be discovered is that the crimes they are accusing others of committing are the ones they themselves have committed.

So what do they do? They fish for a crime, use the media to propagate their lies and spread malicious rumors. Those crimes can be anything from obstruction of justice, process crimes or financial crimes. The lawmakers will use the power of America’s purse. They will investigate Trump’s children, those who support him and those who work closely with him at the White House.

However, remember this: It is the American people, liberty and the principals endowed in our Constitution that will pay the heaviest burden.

Nadler announced his probe on Monday into potential “obstruction of justice.” He will lob accusation, after accusation, against the Trump administration and his family. He will seek documents and communications from over 60 individuals connected with the White House. He will look for that needle in a haystack for as long as it takes.

Nadler and Schiff will conduct what they describe as thorough investigations. They will keep these lengthy investigations going to buy time on the clock until they get close to the Democratic National Convention.

Nadler will do so at the cost of our nation. Don’t be fooled. He doesn’t care about the American people or justice. In the end, this all about ‘getting back’ for the Democrats.

Not getting back at Trump but at the American people who voted for Trump. This isn’t about truth and justice – those who oppose Trump don’t care about those fundamental principals.

Nadler is already setting the stage.

“We are going to initiate investigations into abuses of power, into corruption … and into obstruction of justice,” said Nadler.

“It’s our job to protect the rule of law.”

This isn’t about the rule of law.

If the rule of law was important to the Democrats, they should be aghast at the abuse of power that has occurred within the Obama Administration.

The weaponization of the intelligence community, leaking of highly classified information to the press, gross negligence in the handling of classified information by Hillary Clinton, unmasking of Americans, malfeasance within the FBI, abuse of power within the Justice Department, plans by Rosenstein to wear a wire to record the president and the proposed plan to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from power.

Instead this is what Nadler is accusing the president of:

“It’s very clear that the president obstructed justice...

Before you impeach somebody, you have to persuade the American public that it ought to happen.”

GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy said it himself on Monday, “they’re setting a whole new course because there’s no collusion so they want to build something else.”

They do want something else: they want to find a way to coup the president before the eyes of the American people.

Possibly only future historians will truly understand what is happening to our nation. But for now, we sit on a precipice of a divided nation. This division is being egged on by lawmakers who care more about destroying Trump than seeking truth and justice.

The issue that matters most is the rule of law and guiding principals that make our nation great must take precedence.

Without it, the America we know may disappear into the annals of history. If that happens, it’s “we the people” who will have only ourselves to blame.

Published:3/5/2019 11:32:10 PM
[Markets] One Man's Commute Through West Philadelphia: 30 Blocks Of Potholes, Shitholes, & Assholes

Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

“If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else’s expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves.” ? Thomas Sowell

“The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it is also a reflection on us. When the people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy.” ? Thomas Sowell

My original title for this article was going to be 30 Blocks of Potholes, Shitholes, and Assholes, but I didn’t want to offend the sensibilities of my highbrow readership. The trigger for that title was my morning commute on 34th Street in West Philly near the Philadelphia Zoo. This extremely well-traveled four lane highway resembles a moonscape of craters capable of blowing a tire (which I did a few years ago while turning onto Girard Avenue).

As I swerved through this obstacle course of government incompetence, I reflected upon how Philadelphia was a real shithole city run by Democrat asshole politicians (those not in prison yet). I’ve written dozens of articles about the 30 Blocks of Squalor over the last decade and one thing remains constant – West Philly is still a shithole, occupied by low income, low IQ, low morality, welfare state slaves who continue to vote for the same assholes who have enslaved them in squalor.

I’ve been making a daily trek through the pigsty of West Philly through three presidential administrations (Bush, Obama, Trump) and the mayoral stints of John Street (only 15 associates went to prison for corruption), Michael Nutter (left office with a city pension plan underfunded by $5.7 billion), and Jim “beak nose” Kenney (Mr. Soda tax and under FBI investigation).

Over the course of the last 12 years (and many years prior) the list of Philadelphia politicians shipped off to Federal prison has been endless, including congressman Chaka Fattah, DA Seth Williams, State senator Vince Fumo, councilman Rick Mariano, and now union boss Johnny Dougherty and councilman Bobby Henon. A slew of lesser lights has also been shipped off to the penitentiary. Corruption is the common theme tying all Philly Democrat politicians together. They effortlessly fulfill the roles of ass in this article about holes.

The narrative pushed by the Democrat politicians and the left-wing rag – Phila Inquirer is Philadelphia is rising, attracting new businesses, and is the place to be for nightlife and millennials. Of course, the narrative is bullshit. Facts are always inconvenient to welfare state Democrats, but the ignorance of their constituents is what keeps them in power. The narrative of Philadelphia getting safer is obliterated by the 351 murders in 2018, up 43% since 2013, and the highest level since 2007.

Assaults involving a gun totaled 2,327, up 13% since 2014. There were over 14,000 violent crimes and 63,000 robberies and thefts in 2018. The vast majority of these crimes occur in West and North Philadelphia, as local news stories lead with multiple murders and shootings every night (average of 4 shootings per day). Over 80% of murder victims are young black men, murdered by other young black over drugs.

The population of the US grew from 179 million in 1960 to 309 million in 2010, up 73%, while the population of Philly dropped from 2 million to 1.5 million, a 25% decline. The feckless politicians have been touting how the population has risen by a few thousand since 2010 (probably illegals flocking to a sanctuary city). There are a few “hot” areas in the downtown area for the rich and gentrification sections drawing millennials. A few of my nieces and nephews moved into these “cool” areas of Philly. After being robbed and experiencing the “best” of Philly, they’ve all moved back to the relative safety of Montgomery County.

When a few rich folks dressed in Armani, wearing Rolexes get gunned down while nonchalantly strolling to their favorite 5 star restaurant in the “nice” part of town, the exodus will resume with alacrity. It seems the clueless liberal rich folks don’t consider the fact the armed free shit army can march into their “safe zones” and take what they want. The have nots know where the haves live. And they have no qualms about forcefully acquiring what they feel is their due. Shockingly, tough gun laws are not adhered to by the feral black criminals shuffling in the shadows on the garbage strewn, pothole ridden, mean streets of Philly.

The liberal narrative of a city on the upswing must be flogged incessantly to keep their constituents (aka slaves) docile and ignorant of reality. But, even the liberal press in Philly lets their guard down and admits the truth by accident sometimes. Five years ago, to much fanfare, Obama declared the Mantua section of West Philly a Promise Zone. How uplifting and noble. This designation was going to lead to investment, new businesses, jobs, and unicorns farting rainbows in West Philly.

Reality has been far different than the press releases and I see the reality every day as I drive through this pathetic excuse for a community. The reporter interviews people who have lived in Mantua for decades and they had never even heard the term Promise Zone. But at least someone painted a mural (aka graffiti) on the wall of a dilapidated tenement to let everyone know they were in a promise zone and not a dangerous ghetto.

The reality is that after a ten-year bull market and growing economy, West Philly hasn’t revived or seen any advancement in the lives of its inhabitants. Obama used your tax dollars to build low income housing and zoo parking garages and then more of your tax dollars to repair all the shoddily built low income houses built by incompetent minority owned union construction companies. The $28 million Taj Mahal parking garage is occupied approximately 30% of the year.

You are far more likely to see yellow crime tape in Mantua than a kid carrying a school book or a woman wearing a wedding ring. The only people portraying Obama’s Promise Zone as a success are the “non-profit” grifters who hoover up the Federal handouts and pretend they are helping the community. Now the inconvenient facts never acknowledged by the politicians and liberal activists:

  • Philadelphia’s poverty rate of 25.7% allows it to retain its supreme status as the “poorest big city in America.”

  • The Mantua Promise Zone, a two-square-mile area home to about 30,000 black people, has a poverty rate almost twice the citywide rate, at 50.6%, up from 50.2% in 2014.

  • The neighborhood’s deep poverty rate, defined as 50% below the federal poverty line, also increased – to 32.3% from 31.0% since 2014.

  • The 2016 Mantua unemployment rate was little changed at 12.3% (actually closer to 20% as those classified as Not in the Labor Force rose), more than twice the recent city-wide rate of 5.8%.

  • Mantua median household income in 2016 was $17,969, up slightly from $17,170 when the Promise Zone was announced. Still 70% below the national median.

  • The proportion of local people aged 25-64 with a high school education or higher edged up to 80.1% in 2016 from 79.6% two years earlier. This has been achieved by lowering standards and graduating anyone who can fog a mirror.

“The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.” ? Thomas Sowell

Even the numbers quoted above about graduation rates are complete and utter bullshit. The brand spanking new West Philly High is where all the little Einsteins from Mantua and the rest of West Philly matriculate. This fine institution of learning has computer labs, the newest technology, a student teacher ratio of 12 to 1, 500 students (98% black), school uniforms and 100% receiving free breakfasts and lunches. The Philadelphia School District spends over $2.8 billion, or $14,000 per student per year.

Of course, a huge portion goes to administrators and gold-plated pension and healthcare benefits for the below average union teachers. The payoff for this investment is a 59% graduation rate at West Philly High, an average SAT score of 1057 among the cream of the crop who actually take the exam, and a ranking of 632 out of 677 high schools in PA. Despite these pitiful numbers, over 25% enroll in college. That tells you all you need to know about the state of higher education today.

“Most officially “poor” Americans today have things that middle-class Americans of an earlier time could only dream about—including color TV, videocassette recorders, microwave ovens, and their own cars. Moreover, half of all poor households have air-conditioning.” ? Thomas Sowell

Obama’s Promise Zone is a joke. They have used your tax dollars to knock down hovels, leaving vacant lots with wooden fences built around them. These vacant lots were supposed to be where all the re-development and businesses were supposed to magically appear. Instead they are strewn with garbage, drug paraphernalia, dog crap, and weeds. The Mantua Square low-income townhouse development, built in 2012 with 8 storefronts for all the businesses falling all over themselves for this awesome opportunity.

Seven years later and not one business occupies any of the storefronts. So much for black entrepreneurship. The neighborhood looks like downtown Baghdad after shock and awe. There are probably just as many weapons in West Philly as Baghdad. Despite the squalor, every saggy pants wearing teenager and 300 pound baby momma is yammering on an iGadget. Welfare teens are wearing $250 sneakers and $50,000 Cadillacs are parked in front of $25,000 rat infested fleapits. What a country – thank you Federal Reserve for all that easy money.

“One of the consequences of such notions as ‘entitlements’ is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence.” ? Thomas Sowell

The entitlement mentality in West Philly is as strong as ever. Over 75% of black kids in West Philly are still born out of wedlock. Drug dealing is still the primary source of income. More than 50% of the population survive on tax payer funded food stamps, living in tax payer funded housing, using tax payer funded Obama phones, and watching taxpayer funded cable TV. They are more dependent today than they were a decade ago.

Obama’s Promise Zone essentially promised the people of Mantua more free shit and a continuation of their welfare mentality enslavement on the Democrat plantation. Keeping these people dumb and ignorant is essential for Democrat politicians retaining their stranglehold on power in Philly and all the urban ghettos across the land. If these people actually obtained a good education and learned to think for themselves, the chains of ignorance would be broken and the slaves freed.

The Democrat politicians who have controlled Philly since the 1950s are as incompetent as they are corrupt. They go hand in hand as the city falls further into debt and the basic infrastructure disintegrates. This has not been a harsh winter in the Philly area, but the roads, especially 34th Street from Girard Ave. to Haverford Ave., are a disgraceful example of government incompetence, apathy and fiscal irresponsibility. With a pension fund having only $4.9 billion in assets but $11.3 billion in liabilities, fiscal Armageddon awaits.

With a $6.2 billion shortfall (entire city budget is $4.7 billion), the scumbags running the city still allow the DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan) program to reward politicians and union leaders with criminally large payoffs as the infrastructure crumbles. This outrage allows eligible politicians to “retire” for a day at the end of their terms, collect six-figure cash bonuses, and then, upon winning reelection (and making a quick trip to the bank), go right back to work the next day. Six City Council members took DROP money — president Anna Verna ($566,039), Jack Kelly ($384,828), Donna Miller ($185,572), Frank DiCicco ($421,123), Frank Rizzo Jr. ($195,052), and Marian Tasco ($478,057) and were then eligible for their regular gold-plated pensions. All of these corrupt politicians were Democrats.

“The welfare state is the oldest con game in the world. First you take people’s money away quietly and then you give some of it back to them flamboyantly.” ? Thomas Sowell

While these crooked politicians have been pillaging from the taxpayer coffers for decades, the neglect and negligence of these elected officials to run the city is evident on every street, and particularly along the 30 Blocks of Squalor. They spent millions of Obama porkulus funds on installing wheel chair ramps on every street corner, while ignoring the crumbling sidewalks between the ramps which would prevent a wheelchair from ever needing to use the ramps. There is no rhyme or reason for which streets receive a new coating of blacktop from the overpaid sloth-like union dregs.

It’s incomprehensible that some barely used side streets were paved in the last year, while they allow 34th street to disintegrate on a daily basis to the point where cars are swerving in and out of lanes to avoid destroying their suspension or blowing a tire. This morning, after a light snow, the right lane was completely blocked because no government drone could be bothered to unclog the sewer drain and get rid of the foot of water at the entrance to the zoo. Some of the potholes in West Philly are so deep, you could probably catch a world-famous tasty Philly carp in them.

The reality is that despite having outrageously high city wage taxes of 3.9%, a sales tax levy of 8%, high corporate taxes, ever increasing real estate taxes, and sin taxes on cigarettes and soda, the city somehow can’t keep its basic infrastructure from falling apart. With gold plated government pension plans, siphoning funds to friends and family, and payoffs to union bosses, the budget doesn’t have anything left for potholes and keeping stoplights functioning.

The newly paved streets are dug up or incur sinkholes days after completion. The politicians never address the looming disaster under the thin veneer of blacktop. Ancient sewer lines and decrepit water pipes burst on a regular basis flooding homes and businesses because asshole politicians don’t give a crap about the poor black folk in West Philly. They’ll get their vote no matter how poorly they are served.

“To believe in personal responsibility would be to destroy the whole special role of the anointed, whose vision casts them in the role of rescuers of people treated unfairly by “society”.” ? Thomas Sowell

The definition of shithole is an extremely dirty, shabby, or otherwise unpleasant place. If ever a word described West Philly to a tee, it’s shithole. Every day appears to be garbage day, as refuse and debris litter the sidewalks and streets. The black people who inhabit this paradise of squalor don’t give a fuck about their community, their neighbors, or their city.

They have no self-respect, desire to improve their lot in life, or initiative to understand how they have been screwed and who screwed them. They wallow in ignorance and poverty, while believing that Democrat politicians care about their plight and are going to rescue them with more welfare handouts. Personal responsibility is an unknown concept in West Philly. Enslavement in dependency will keep West Philly from ever reviving itself.

The intersection of 36th and Lancaster Ave. is a five-way intersection that includes trolley tracks. A few weeks ago, the stoplight malfunctioned and was on blink when I passed through at 7:30 in the morning. A malfunction such as this should be repaired by an efficient government within a couple hours. The lights at this intersection remained dark for the next seven days.

That is a disgraceful example of government ineptitude and apathy. Further down the block, the lights at the major intersection of 36th and Chestnut have consistently malfunctioned resulting in gridlock conditions and many near accidents. These are the basic functions needed to keep a city running and the assholes running this shithole haven’t got a clue or don’t give a fuck.

All of the feel-good socialist drivel being spewed by AOC and her oblivious acolytes has been put into action in Philly and other urban ghettos across the land. Tens of trillions have been poured into these shitholes since LBJ rolled out his Great Society plans to enslave blacks in welfare goodies and ensuring their votes for a hundred years. Liberals like Hillary and AOC mouth platitudes about a village raising a child, when West Philly proves how well a village does in raising the bastard children of those who take no responsibility for the children they have produced.

Only a village idiot would believe cretins like Hillary and AOC know how your children should be raised. They’re fascists who want to take your money in order to forcefully inflict their warped vision upon the entire country and taking no responsibility for their epic failures. These socialist tyrants will not be happy until the entire country looks like the 30 Blocks of Squalor.

Seven decades of one party rule in Philadelphia has wrought murder, squalor, poverty, corruption, debt, welfare enslavement and guaranteed Democrat voters. This is the Democrat plan for the entire nation and is why they desperately want to keep the borders open to more Democrat voters. If successful, they will turn the entire nation into one giant shithole. If the Democrats gain one party rule over the country, AOC’s end of world prediction may come true – after the civil war starts.

“Hillary Clinton said you know, it takes a village to raise a child and somebody said it takes a village idiot to believe that … it is part of the whole thing of third parties wanting to make decisions for which they pay no price for when they’re wrong.” ? Thomas Sowell

Published:3/5/2019 6:00:43 PM
[Politics] REPORT: Michael Cohen asked Trump for a PARDON According to a new report, Michael Cohen was fishing for a pardon last year after the FBI raided his home and businesses. The issue of a pardon reportedly was brought up as . . . Published:3/5/2019 10:24:08 AM
[Politics] REPORT: Michael Cohen asked Trump for a PARDON According to a new report, Michael Cohen was fishing for a pardon last year after the FBI raided his home and businesses. The issue of a pardon reportedly was brought up as . . . Published:3/5/2019 10:00:28 AM
[Markets] Cohen Attorney Approached Trump About Possible Pardon

Remember when Michael Cohen told the House Oversight Committee last week that he had "never asked for a pardon" from President Trump? Well, it's looking increasingly likely that - and this may come as a shock - he was not exactly truthful.

According to the Wall Street Journal, lawmakers are investigating whether an attorney for Cohen raised the possibility of a pardon with Trump's legal team before Cohen had even been charged. After the FBI raided Cohen's home, hotel room and office, his attorney, Stephen Ryan, reportedly met with members of Trump's legal team to review the legal ramifications of the raid for Trump.

Cohen

During that conversation, Ryan reportedly floated the notion of a pardon for Cohen should he eventually be convicted. But he likely didn't receive the answer he had been looking for: The consensus among the president's attorneys was that it wouldn't be prudent for Trump to pardon his former fixer, if it came to that.

Not long after, Cohen told George Stephanopoulos that he would put the interests of the country and his family above his loyalty to Trump. A few months later, he struck a plea deal with prosecutors in New York - and then with the Mueller probe.

The president’s lawyers, including Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani and Joanna Hendon, dismissed the idea of a pardon at the time, these people said. But at least one of them, Mr. Giuliani, left open the possibility that the president could grant Mr. Cohen one in the future, they said.

Mr. Ryan also brought up the subject of a pardon with Alan Futerfas, an outside lawyer for the Trump Organization, and the company’s general counsel, Alan Garten, some of the people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Ryan left the impression that if Mr. Cohen couldn’t rely on a pardon, he might cooperate with prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office investigating Mr. Cohen, the people said.

While it's true that Cohen never personally asked the president for a pardon, if the WSJ report is accurate, it's clear that inquiries about a pardon were made, and Cohen's response during Wednesday's public hearing was facetious, at best.

But all of this is apparently lost on Democrats. Because, in an ironic twist, Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler has issued subpoenas to all the attorneys allegedly involved in these discussions to try and determine if "a pardon was dangled in front of Cohen" to try and convince him to keep his mouth shut.

Congressional investigators have requested information about conversations between attorneys for Mr. Cohen and the president. In letters sent Monday to dozens of Trump associates - including Mr. Sekulow; former White House counsel Don McGahn; and Mr. Cohen - the House Judiciary Committee sought documents related to “possible pardons” for Mr. Cohen, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Mike Flynn.

Dangling the prospect of a presidential pardon to discourage someone from assisting prosecutors in a criminal investigation could constitute witness tampering or obstruction of justice, according to former federal prosecutors.

President Trump hasn't pardoned any of his former associates who have pleaded guilty - or been convicted - during the Mueller probe.

Published:3/5/2019 5:57:47 AM
[Politics] Comey: Transparency Possible With Mueller's Findings Special counsel Robert Mueller's findings on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election should be released due to the intense public interest of the probe, former FBI Director James Comey argues in a column for The Washington Post. Published:3/4/2019 9:55:48 PM
[Markets] Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Snow Will Stop The Post Office From Spying On You

Authored by John Kiriakou via ConsortiumNews.com,

It’s called the “Mail Cover Program” and it’s run by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Yes, even the Post Office is spying on us...

“We also spy on you.” (Wikimedia Commons)

You may remember that last year some nut was arrested for mailing bombs to prominent Democrats, media outlets, and opponents of Donald Trump. Less than a week after the bombs went out, a suspect was arrested. Almost immediately, video turned up of him at a Trump rally, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hate and chanting for the camera. He was soon tried, convicted, and jailed. End of story.

But it wasn’t the end of the story. The investigation into the bomb incidents focused attention on an almost unknown federal surveillance program—one that poses a direct threat to the privacy and constitutional rights of every American. It’s called the “Mail Cover Program” and it’s run by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Yes, even the Post Office is spying on us.

The Mail Cover Program allows postal employees to photograph and send to federal law enforcement organizations (FBI, DHS, Secret Service, etc.) the front and back of every piece of mail the Post Office processes. It also retains the information digitally and provides it to any government agency that wants it—without a warrant.

In 2015, the USPS Inspector General issued a report saying that, “Agencies must demonstrate a reasonable basis for requesting mail covers, send hard copies of request forms to the Criminal Investigative Service Center for processing, and treat mail covers as restricted and confidential…A mail cover should not be used as a routine investigative tool. Insufficient controls over the mail cover program could hinder the Postal Inspection Service’s ability to conduct effective investigations, lead to public concerns over privacy of mail, and harm the Postal Service’s brand.”

Return to Sender

Not only were the admonitions ignored, the mail cover program actually expanded after the report’s release. Indeed, in the months after that report was issued, there were 6,000 requests for mail cover collection. Only 10 were rejected, according to the Feb. 2019 edition of Prison Legal News (P.34-35) .

I have some personal experience with the Mail Cover Program. I served 23 months in prison for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program. After having been locked up for two months, I decided to commission a card from a very artistically-inclined prisoner for my wife’s 40th birthday. I sent it about two weeks early, but she never received it. Finally, about four months later, the card was delivered back to me with a yellow “Return to Sender – Address Not Known” sticker on it. But underneath that sticker was a second yellow sticker. That one read, “Do Not Deliver. Hold For Supervisor. Cover Program.”

Why was I under Postal Service Surveillance? I have no idea. I had had my day in court. The case was over. But remember, the Postal Service doesn’t have to answer to anybody – my attorneys, my judge, even its own Inspector General. It doesn’t need a warrant to spy on me (or my family) and it doesn’t have to answer even to a member of Congress who might inquire as to why the spying was happening in the first place.

The problem is not just the sinister nature of a government agency (or quasi-government agency) spying on individuals with no probable cause or due process, although those are serious problems. It’s that the program is handled so poorly and so haphazardly that in some cases surveillance was initiated against individuals for no apparent law enforcement reason and that surveillance was initiated by Postal Service employees not even authorized to do so. Again, there is no recourse because the people under surveillance don’t even know that any of this is happening.

Perhaps an even more disturbing aspect of the program is the fact that between 2000 and 2012, the Postal Service initiated an average of 8,000 mail cover requests per year. But in 2013, that numberjumped to 49,000. Why? Nobody knows and the Postal Service doesn’t have to say.

The question, though, is not how many cases are opened under the Mail Cover Program or even how many requests there are for the information. The real question is, “How is this constitutional?” Perhaps a secondary question is, “Why hasn’t anybody challenged the program in the courts?” In general, Americans don’t–or at least haven’t–objected to a gradual loss of civil liberties and constitutional rights. That has to stop. When even the Post Office is spying on you, you know the republic is in trouble.

Published:3/2/2019 9:49:04 PM
[Markets] CNN Analyst And Former Obama Admin Official Compares Trump's CPAC Speech To Hitler

One CNN analyst and former Obama administration official was clearly triggered by President Trump's rambling, expletive-filled, two-hour-plus CPAC address.

During an appearance on CNN where she offered some "informed commentary" on Trump's speech, Sam Vinograd, a former member of Obama’s national security council, said Trump's "xenophobic" talking points about immigrants and white heritage reminded her of  "certain leader" who presided over a genocidal European regime during the first half of the 20th century.

Though she didn't use said leader's name, we think it's pretty clear to whom she's referring (spoiler alert: It's Hitler).

"Well, Ana, his statement makes me sick, on a personal level, preserving your heritage, reclaiming our heritage, that sounds a lot like a certain leader that killed members of my family and about six million other Jews in the 1940s," Vinograd began. "But our national security level, the president talks about preserving our heritage as a catch-all for implementing policies that misallocate resources."

"He pretends there are massive flows of illegal immigrants coming over our borders and is spending billions of dollars on a border wall emergency, instead of paying attention to real national security threats. He sounds a lot like despotic leaders that have talked about white heritage and white nationalism around the world and is putting resources in the wrong place, and pretending that there are foreign people trying to influence our country in a way that just isn’t accurate."

Of course, the fact that, by comparing Trump to Hitler, Vinograd contributed to the trivialization of the historical plight of the Jewish people was apparently lost on her.

She also slammed Trump for "denigrating our institutions" and suggested that Trump's talking points mirrored the of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"He denigrated our institution, the Department of Justice and U.S. Congress. He spread misinformation and conspiracy theories, he undermined the credibility of several of our institutions, he sewed divisions, he sewed confusion, he was speaking to his base, but he was also saying things that really looked like Vladimir Putin scripted his speech."

It's just the latest example of "Trump Derangement Syndrome" run amok on "the most trusted voice in news".

Trump

Tears

By the way, if you're confused about what Putin's to-do list looks like, allow Vinograd to fill you in.

Published:3/2/2019 7:12:39 PM
[Markets] Smartphone Cracking Devices Popping Up On Ebay - With Sensitive Info Still On Them

A valuable piece of Israeli-made technology used by police around the world to crack into iPhones, Android devices and other modern mobile devices have been popping up on Ebay - often containing private data after sellers have failed to properly wipe them, according to Forbes

When eBay merchant Mr. Balaj was looking through a pile of hi-fi junk at an auction in the U.K., he came across an odd-looking device. Easily mistaken for a child’s tablet, it had the word “Cellebrite” written on it. To Mr. Balaj, it appeared to be a worthless piece of electronic flotsam, so he left it in his garage to gather dust for eight months.

But recently he’s learned just what he had his hands on: a valuable, Israeli-made piece of technology called the Cellebrite UFED. -Forbes

Cellebrite has landed millions in federal contracts for their technology; from the FBI to Immigration and Customs Enforcement - but Ebay buyers have been acquiring the tablet-style cracking devices for between $100 and $1,000. Brand new, Cellebrite units start at $6,000. 

Cellebrite, meanwhile, is not happy

On Tuesday, two sources from the forensics industry passed Forbes a letter from Cellebrite warning customers about reselling its hugely popular hacking devices because they could be used to access individuals’ private data. Rather than return the UFEDs to Cellebrite so they can be properly decommissioned, it appears police or other individuals who’ve acquired the machines are flogging them and failing to properly wipe them. Cybersecurity researchers are now warning that valuable case data and powerful police hacking tools could have leaked as a result. -Forbes

 

Cybersecurity expert and Hacker House training academy founder Matthew Hickey conducted an experiment last month in which he bought a dozen such units to test. What he found on the secondhand kits was disturbing - as they contained information on what devices searched, along with what types of data were removed and mobile identification information such as the IMEI code. 

He was also able to find what appeared to be Wi-Fi passwords which could have belonged to either police agencies or private entities which used the devices, such as independent investigators or business auditors. 

Hickey believes he could have extracted more personal information, such as contact lists or chats, though he decided not to delve into such data. “I would feel a little awful if there was a picture of a crime scene or something,” he said. But using the information within a UFED, Hickey believes a malicious hacker could identify the suspects and their relevant cases. 

In one screenshot provided by Hickey to Forbes, the previous UFED user had raided phones from Samsung, LG, ZTE and Motorola. Hickey had tested it on old iPhone and an iPod models with success. -Forbes

"You’d think a forensics device used by law enforcement would be wiped before resale. The sheer volume of these units appearing online is indicative that some may not be renewing Cellebrite and disposing of the units elsewhere," Hickey told Forbes

"Units are intended to be returned to vendor precisely for this reason, people ignoring that risk information on the units being available to third parties." 

Cellebrite uses encrypted software exploits to crack into mobile phones - often kept secret from manufacturers such as Apple and Google, according to Hickey. The company's devices are so good at finding their way into iOS devices that they were able to crack the passcodes of even the latest Apple models, up to the iPhone X

Apple, meanwhile, is in a constant race with Cellebrite to find and patch the flaws. 

Published:3/2/2019 5:13:53 PM
[Markets] Trump's Strangest And Most Memorable Moments From Marathon CPAC Speech

During a marathon, two-hour address that one journalist described as "unhinged even by his standards" and "lengthy even for Castro", President Trump gave the crowd at CPAC - the annual conservative gathering that helped launched Trump's political career - their money's worth, expounding on a range of topics, including the Mueller probe, Trump's national emergency declaration, the Wall, the Democratic Agenda, AOC's Green New Deal, arming teachers, Otto Warmbier, the midterms, socialism in America, a planned executive order requiring colleges and universities to enforce "free speech", 'Pocahontas', his recent trip to Iraq (made, according to Trump, on a lark), The Fed, ISIS, the economic plight of the Never-Trumpers, forest management...the list goes on.

He didn't shy away from the expletives (which is unusual for Trump nowadays), and, at times, was barely coherent - jumping between seemingly unrelated topics and giving viewers the impression that his speech was most likely entirely improvised. We've already chronicled his comments on the Mueller probe and his brutal mockery of the former Trump administration officials at the DOJ who sanctioned it (see here), as well as his comments on Jerome Powell and the Fed (here).

But those are by far not the only highlights from a speech that was seemingly stuffed with memorable moments - from Trump's decision to "hug" an American flag...

...To the crowd's beyond enthusiastic reception when Trump walked on stage to "God Bless the U.S.A"...

...To the "guest appearance" by Hayden Williams, the conservative activist who was punched by an unhinged leftist at UC Berkeley last month.

We've rounded up some of the most memorable moments from Trump's speech below:

During a riff on tariffs, Trump brought up something called "the great tariff debate".

Just in case it wasn't clear, Trump informed his audience that he was "totally off script right now" (we imagine few were surprised).

Laying into the Green New Deal, Trump said they want "no more cars" and "the end of air travel."

Not only does the "fake news" media lie and twist Trump's words, they also don't know how to take a joke - particularly when it comes to one innocent quip where Trump asked Russia to get Hillary's emails.

Of course, it wouldn't be CPAC if the crowd didn't spontaneously break out into chants of "Lock Her Up!"

How does Trump stay so on top of the cable news cycle? Why, with the help of a little invention called "TiVo".

Comey and everybody at the top of the FBI are "bad, bad people" and "that's been proven now with all of the emails."

Trump loves you, Trump loves me, Trump just loves love.

Apropos of nothing, Trump shared a few comments about a friend of his from New York City (presumably somebody in the real estate business) who is a "stone cold killer." "He kills people for a living" but he gets incredibly uncomfortable with public speaking, and he purportedly asked Trump how he does it, to which the president replied: "It's easy when there's so much love in the room."

Remember the Washington Post's Dave Weigel (who incorrectly tweeted about the crowd size at Trump's inauguration)? Apparently, so does Trump.

The media's biased coverage of Trump's inauguration crowd took up a surprising amount of time, suggesting that Trump is still sore, some 25 months later.

Presenting: Trump's impression of his friends when they call him in the Oval.

Democrats are California are apparently trying to build "Trains to Hawaii".

Remember forest management?

The Never Trumpers are living "hand to mouth".

ISIS should be "100%" defeated any day now.

Followed by Trump's trip to Iraq.

If Trump has one regret from 2018, it's that he didn't wait to drop the hammer on Pocahontas, because now that he's "destroyed her political career", he won't have the chance to run against her.

Williamson's assault at Berkeley was the last straw: He's now planning an executive order demanding that colleges and universities support free speech.

The notion that undocumented immigrants are "better people" than US citizens is patently false, Trump says.

For everybody who's worried about Trump setting a "dangerous precedent" with his national emergency declaration (we're looking at you, Marco), the best way to stop Democrats from doing the same thing is to make sure Trump wins in 2020.

Democrats are embracing open borders, socialism and extreme late-term abortions.

Trump (once again) addresses the controversy over his remarks about Otto Warmbier at Thursday's press conference in Hanoi.

Something big is happening in Washington this year on the 4th of July. Is it a military parade? We'll have to wait and find out.

After speaking for more than two hours, Trump wrapped up to thunderous applause.

For anybody looking for a more cohesive run through of the highlights, here's Sean Hannity's "best of":

Watch the whole thing here:

Published:3/2/2019 3:42:33 PM
[Markets] WikiLeaks Veteran Flips On Assange For Immunity: "You Know... I'm Not In An Embassy" 

A WikiLeaks volunteer and friend of Chelsea Manning agreed to cooperate with the US Justice Department and appear in front of an Alexandria, VA grand jury in exchange for immunity, reports the Daily Beast

"I decided to cooperate in exchange for immunity," said David House - a computer science graduate and political activist who previously refused to testify against Julian Assange in 2011, only to be subpoenaed last May for an encore appearance in front of a grand jury that's been investigating the WikiLeaks founder for almost nine years.

"You know, I’m walking around on the street out here. I’m not in an embassy," he added. 

House spoke briefly with prosecutors and then testified for about 90 minutes in front of the grand jury, he said. “They wanted to know about my meetings with Assange, they wanted to know broadly about what we talked about,” he recalled. Prosecutors seemed particularly interested in the potential for collateral damage in some of Assange’s leaks. The identities of some American collaborators were exposed in Assange’s release of State Department cables and Army field reports from Afghanistan, which triggered internal debate and led to the departure of some of WikiLeaks’ key staffers early on. -Daily Beast

"They showed me chat logs in which I was arguing vehemently with him about releasing documents that would leave people vulnerable and put people’s lives at risk," said House. "That was the only thing they put in front of my face that made me think, ‘This may be what they’re going after him for.’" 

Chelsea Manning, meanwhile has refused to comply with a March 5 subpoena in the same case - making good on a vow to fight the subpoena in court. 

"I am not going to contribute to a process that I feel is dangerous and could potentially place me in a position where I am forced to backtrack on the truth," Manning told the New York Times

She made good on that vow Friday morning by filing a motion to quash the subpoena, according to her attorney, New York lawyer Moira Meltzer-Cohen. “At the insistence of the clerk, the motion was filed under seal,” said Meltzer-Cohen in an email to The Daily Beast. “Our position is that litigation regarding the enforceability of a subpoena does not implicate grand jury secrecy, and we will move to have it unsealed. Chelsea, as you might expect, wants to bring some transparency to this process and hopes to be able to share the filing soon.” -Daily Beast

The grand jury probe - case 10GJ3793, became public knowledge in early 2011 as prosecutors fired off records demands for records on key WikiLeaks activists to companies such as Google and Twitter. Twitter, with the consent of the DOJ, notified five users that the feds sought their records. Three of those five challenged the records request in court, backed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU. 

In 2013, an appeals court sided with the government against the three WikiLeaks activists; Jacob Appelbaum, Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir, and Dutch businessman Rop Gonggrijp.

Following the 2011 subpoena in which House initially pleaded the fifth, Icelandic WikiLeaks staffer Sigurdur Thordarson began spying on WikiLeaks volunteers for the FBI

He met with prosecutors in Virginia in February 2012 and later turned over eight hard drives of internal WikiLeaks chat logs and media. Around the same time the government obtained a search warrant for the Gmail inbox of another WikiLeaks volunteer in Reykjavik. -Daily Beast

Records revealed that the grand jury was investigating Assange for potential violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as well as the Espionage Act in connection with the Manning leaks.

While the Obama administration declined to push forward with prosecution, the FBI revived their efforts after the 2016 US election - reaching out to a "diverse cast of characters from WikiLeaks' early days - most of whom had long ago parted company with Assange on acrimonious terms," notes the Beast

In November 2017, German police relayed an interview request from the FBI to Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Assange’s former second in command. “I don’t know much about the content, but according to what I was told, they wanted to question me about JA's relationship with Chelsea Manning,” Domscheit-Berg told The Daily Beast last year. “Which struck me as a bit odd and a little late in the game maybe. I quite naturally denied this request.” -Daily Beast

It is unknown whether the new sealed charges are related to the 2010 Manning leaks - however it is believed to be likely. 

"Technically speaking, if you get charged by complaint the grand jury investigation remains open," said a former federal prosecutor, speaking to the Daily Beast on condition of anonymity. "Maybe they think they’ll be able to get him out at some point. The investigation would probably be over already if he was in a jurisdiction that would extradite him." 

Published:3/2/2019 11:18:14 AM
[US News] Why did the FBI just release documents on the Kushner Companies?

The FBI picked today for some reason to release documents on the “Kushner Companies”: Kushner Companies: https://t.co/nPyl4L7Kvp — FBI Records Vault (@FBIRecordsVault) March 1, 2019 WTF? This FBI Twitter account has released information at odd times in recent years. Today, it's material on the Kushner Companies. https://t.co/E5XbeHOayb — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) March 1, 2019 This […]

The post Why did the FBI just release documents on the Kushner Companies? appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:3/1/2019 7:36:24 PM
[World] [John K. Ross] Short Circuit: A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions

Waste and distraction, unclean hands, and defamation on Twitter.

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

Friends, IJ is looking for attorneys with 2–6 years of litigation experience to join our Arlington, Virginia headquarters. To learn more and apply, visit www.ij.org/jobs.

  • In 2016, AT&T, a distributor of video content (among other things), announces $85 billion deal to buy Time Warner, a creator of video content. Feds: Which violates antitrust law and will lead to higher prices for consumers. D.C. Circuit: Similar mergers haven't harmed consumers. And if consumers are unhappy with cable, they can switch to Netflix or Hulu.
  • Special Counsel Mueller to Roger Stone aide: Turn over docs and appear before grand jury. Aide: No. District court: Contempt! D.C. Circuit: Just so. The Special Counsel is an "inferior officer" within the Department of Justice, meaning his appointment did not violate the Constitution's Appointments Clause. Equally important (some might argue), compare pages 5 and 12 for the intra-opinion split on whether to describe Rod Rosenstein as "Acting Attorney General Rosenstein" or "General Rosenstein." Friends of postpositive adjectives and opponents of militarizing law enforcement favor the former.
  • It would ordinarily be too late for man serving life sentence for 1972 murder to challenge his conviction, but the feds waive objections. Expert testimony that his hair was "microscopically identical" to hair found at the crime scene was unreliable. (The feds have been reviewing cases involving such hair identifications since 2012.) Feds: Nevertheless, there was plenty of other evidence he's the murderer. District court: Yup, the conviction stands. D.C. Circuit: We think not.
  • Pennsylvania man convicted on child pornography charges is sentenced to three years' probation, 10 years on the sex offender registry. After conviction, Pennsylvania amends the law to require lifetime registration, along with a slew of other monitoring requirements, leading man to file a habeas petition challenging his conviction. District Court: You can seek habeas if you're in custody, and you're not in custody. Third Circuit: You don't have to be in physical custody to file habeas; it's enough to be subject to significant restraints on your liberty that don't apply to the general public, and these definitely qualify.
  • Engineering firm sues former employees who stole trade secrets, obtains preliminary injunction. Former employees: But the firm only discovered the alleged treachery by accessing one former employee's social media and bank accounts (via the employee's company laptop). The doctrine of "unclean hands" prevents the firm from benefiting from such an unconscionable act. Third Circuit: Accessing the accounts isn't what caused the ex-employee to breach his duty of loyalty, so unclean hands doesn't apply. Dissent: This may be the right outcome, but the firm's conduct was sufficiently offensive that the district court should take another look.
  • Manufacturer of a lucrative antibiotic spends years petitioning the FDA in an effort to keep generic versions off the market, reaping hundreds of millions of dollars. But all good things must come to an end, and in 2012 the FDA approves a generic. Five years later, the Federal Trade Commission sues the manufacturer for unfair competition, seeking an injunction and restitution. But the law only covers a company that "is violating or is about to violate" unfair competition laws. Can it apply to past violations? Third Circuit: The law says what it says, and the FTC can't stretch it. The FTC might also wish to consider that petitioning the FDA is protected by the First Amendment.
  • Grand Rapids, Mich. plainclothes officers stop suspected home invader. He says they never identified themselves, so he ran from what he thought was a mugging. The officers give chase and beat him. Bystanders say they're "out of control," "brutal," "gonna kill him." And it's the wrong guy: The man they beat looks nothing like the photo they have of the real suspect. District court: Qualified immunity. Sixth Circuit (deploying photos of the man and the real suspect to great effect): Reversed. The case is going to trial. (A dissent propounds technical objections.)
  • Twitter flips out after woman at rally for then-candidate Donald Trump sieg heils in photo. The actor James Woods tweets the woman's identity and suggests she is a Bernie Sanders supporter planted to make Trump look bad. But wait! He identifies the wrong woman. Before @RealJamesWoods deletes the tweet and exonerates the misidentified woman 11 days later, she gets hundreds of threatening messages. Defamation? Sixth Circuit: Not under Ohio law. "So-called #Trump 'Nazi' is a #BernieSanders agitator/operative?" is more question than defamatory assertion.
  • For years, Indianapolis police seize cars and then sit on their hands for months before the owners can contest the seizures in court. District court: That part of the civil forfeiture law violates the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause. Indianapolis prosecutor appeals but also, while appeal is pending, successfully urges the state legislature to amend the law. Which now makes the case moot, declares the prosecutor, so the district court judgment should be set aside! Not so fast, says the Seventh Circuit. It's not clear whether the amendments actually fixed the defects in the law. The case is remanded so the district court can evaluate the amendments in the first instance.
  • Man is charged with several crimes; an Indiana trial court sets date beyond which prosecutors may no longer significantly amend the charges. Yikes! Prosecutors significantly amend the charges nine days after the deadline. But the man's lawyer fails to object, and the court permits the change. He's convicted; the "lion's share" of his sentence comes from the late change. District court: Too bad. Seventh Circuit (over a dissent): Vacated. His lawyer should have objected. If, as the state says, Indiana defense attorneys commonly do not object to late changes, that is more concerning rather than less.
  • FBI informant inserts himself (perhaps literally, sad to say) into Orange County, Calif. Muslim community, records all interactions (including some to which he was not a party) with a variety of hidden recording devices. He begins to ask pointed questions about jihad and violence. Community members alert the authorities. Can they sue the FBI for unconstitutional searches, religious discrimination? District court: Most of the claims rely on intelligence that could significantly compromise national security if disclosed, so those are dismissed. Ninth Circuit: That's not how the state-secrets privilege works, as "such an approach would constitute judicial abdication." Some of the claims can go.
  • In 2016, New Mexico legislature amends the state's bail system to disfavor secured bonds. A trade association of bail bondsmen, along with a collection of state legislators and a criminal defendant, promptly sues the New Mexico Supreme Court, its justices, and various lower courts and officials, claiming that the new system violates the Excessive Bail Clause and the Due Process Clause. Trial court: Not only is the case dismissed, but one of the plaintiffs' lawyers is sanctioned nearly $15k. Tenth Circuit: Affirmed. The lawsuit is a case study in "waste and distraction."
  • New Mexico Racing Commission excludes four horses from race at the last minute under rarely used rule. Can the owners' lawsuit about that get around qualified immunity? Tenth Circuit: Neigh.
  • And in en banc news, the D.C. Circuit will not skip straight to en banc consideration of whether the procedural protections of the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause apply to a Gitmo detainee. Rather, a three-judge panel will get first crack at the case. But, writes Judge Tatel (concurring), the question is one that demands "careful consideration." "The detentions at Guantanamo Bay, which the government tells us may last at least until the hostilities authorized in 2001 abate, are lengthening into decades, with no end in sight."

To operate in South Padre Island, Texas, food trucks must first obtain permission from the owner of one of the city's brick-and-mortar restaurants—and even then the number of food trucks permitted is capped at 12. Is the law a genuine effort to protect the health and safety of South Padre Island's residents and four million annual visitors? Not so much! The law, which was designed by and for restaurant owners, was intended to protect restaurants from competition. This week, IJ filed suit under the Texas Constitution. Read more here.

Published:3/1/2019 4:06:18 PM
[Markets] March Will Startle Wokesterdom Out Of Its Dark Raptures

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Marching To Gilead

I suppose Mr. Trump dangled visions of North Korea’s future as a Buick showroom and the mysterious Kim Jong Un detected some kind of trap there. A correspondent with military intel credentials writes:

[Eric] Hoffer’s observation that people only revolt when things are getting better seems applicable to DPRK. I can only assume that Kim and his cabal in NK know this or somehow instinctively understand it. In short, as I see it, he can’t afford to let things get really better for North Korean people. So, I believe Trump’s carrot of great economic success for DPRK’s people probably scares Kim badly.

It was certainly hard to imagine the two leaders in conversation: The President with his larval vocabulary and Mr. Kim in his life-long solipsistic haze. Perhaps they compared hair-dos, both equally strange, would you not admit?  Something tells me that Mr. Kim is not a golfer, so that was out as an icebreaker, though it’s said he does enjoy firing artillery at human targets — one thing that Mr. Trump has not been accused of by former consiglieri-turned-pagliaccio Michael Cohen. Perhaps Mr. Trump let Mr. Kim in on the glorious beauty of an American Cheeseburger, a sure-nuff wonder of the world!

In any case, the US president trundled home without nailing that ole coonskin to the wall, as one of his predecessors put it, but the game isn’t over. For now, it’s back to war on the home front against the armies of Wokesterdom. That movement appears to be floundering a bit too now as Jussie Smollett whirls down the memory hole, and #MeToo sputters, and the various congressional committees scrape the bottom of every barrel for the always-elusive triumphal “gotcha” in their crusade to correct the 2016 election.

The fishy barrel that Michael Cohen came out of provided disappointingly thin sludge, so now The New York Times (official playbill of Wokesterdom) informs us that next up they’ll be hauling Mr. Trump’s financial officer, one Allen Weisselberg, into the star chamber for a ‘splainin’ session. Pretty soon, they’ll make the amazing discovery that the New York City construction scene is run by the mob. Won’t that be a revelation?

Let’s face it, March is a month that drips with fraughtness. Everybody is good and goddam sick of winter, yet it lingers sadistically, not unlike the Mueller investigation. Then, you get to the middle of the month and what’s there? The sinister Ides, an age-old ceremonial turning point of the year recognized by the ancients even before Julius Caesar got whacked in the Roman senate. I propose that mid-March this year will be the occasion of so many shoes dropping that Washington will look like a road show of Shuffle Along.

Everybody and his/her/zhe/they’s uncle expects Mr. Mueller to cast down his report from on high. In a non-Bizarro world it would be a catalog of indictments for most of the FBI executive leadership circa 2016-2018, and a few cherries-on-top from the DOJ, CIA, and the DNC. More likely, it will be a stuffed, roasted rump of innuendo drenched in Russian dressing garnished with rinky-dink “process” crime convictions. One way or another, it’s sure to disappoint the minions of Wokesterdom.

But once that’s out of the way, more interesting action may be in the offing. Mr. Trump, despite all the Twitter bluster, has at least patiently held back on declassifying reams of documents pertaining to official misconduct by many of the investigators themselves, perhaps even Mr. Mueller and some of his colleagues. I expect a steady and measured release of that classified material, and it will tell a tale that may even startle the Wokesters out of their dark raptures.

Nobody knows exactly what the new attorney general, Mr. Barr, might do. So far, he has not done anything. I will be surprised if that continues. He is probably also waiting for the Mueller report before he starts dispatching folks to grand juries, perhaps even a former president, and certainly some of his foot-servants and handmaidens. Upcoming too are actions by the DOJ inspector general, Mr. Horowitz, federal prosecutor John Huber’s forgotten commission, and the reappearance of General Flynn in Judge Sullivan’s DC courtroom.

March is also looking like the moment when the financial world starts rockin’ and rollin’ on the recognition that the global economy has stalled. The fantasy of economic triumph is the one float that the Golden Golem of Greatness has been able to parade around on. Both the real estate markets and the car business have gone south now, and the financial entanglements entailed by them, in the form of securitized mortgages and loans, are janky enough to start blowing up pension funds, insurance companies, and state treasuries just for starters. The complacency on Wall Street ought to be a prime signal for the sentient to duck-and-cover.

Published:3/1/2019 2:34:58 PM
[Markets] Jared Kushner's Multibillion-Dollar Plot To Give Saudis Nukes

Authored by Juan Cole via TruthDig.com,

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform has issued a report on a plot to make billions of dollars by selling Saudi Arabia sensitive American nuclear technology that could allow the Kingdom to develop nuclear weapons. The scheme required breaking US law, which forbids technology transfers that might allow nuclear proliferation.

The plot was pushed by a “company” formed for this express purpose called IP3 International, which doesn’t seem to have actually existed except as a sort of shell for lobbying the Trump administration. IP3 was, according to the committee, helmed by “General Keith Alexander, General Jack Keane, Mr. Bud McFarlane, and Rear Admiral Michael Hewitt, as well as the chief executives of six companies— Exelon Corporation, Toshiba America Energy Systems, Bechtel Corporation, Centrus Energy Corporation, GE Energy Infra structure, and Siemens USA—“ All “signed a letter to Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The letter presented ‘the Iron Bridge Program as a 21st Century Marshall Plan for the Middle East.’”

Bud McFarlane? That is Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor who was up to his elbows selling arms to Khomeini in the Iran-Contra scandal, and thought up the idea of sending Ayatollah Khomeini a cake shaped like a key and a Bible (along with a few T.O.W. anti-tank emplacements)! Like Elliot Abrams, he was pardoned by George H. W. Bush, who seems to have created a factory for 21st century further scandals.

The point man for the plot was General Mike Flynn, who called for Hillary Clinton to be locked up at the Republican National Conference in late summer of 2016 and glommed on to Trump, becoming his first National Security Adviser. Flynn had visited Saudi Arabia in connection with the IP3 plot to transfer nuclear technology to that country that could help Riyadh make a bomb if the royal family felt they needed to do so to remain safe (e.g. if Iran went in that direction or if relations with nuclear-armed Israel tanked). The cover story was that the US corporate front would just make 6 nuclear reactors for electricity generation.

Derek Harvey, the Senior Director for Middle East and North African Affairs at the National Security Council in the first half of 2017, is alleged to have adopted the IP3 plot as US policy, dubbing it the “Middle Eastern Marshall Plan.” Mr. Harvey seems confused. The Marshall Plan was an aid program where the US gave out hundreds of millions of dollars to poor societies after WW II to promote prosperity and fight Communism. It wasn’t a money-making scheme whereby we would sell nuclear weapons technology to an absolute monarchy that uses bone saws on journalists in return for vastly enriching private individuals and a handful of corporations.

Remember, all these retired generals and CEOs and Republican bigwigs were calling for Iran to be bombed back to the stone age on the pretext that it had a civilian nuclear enrichment program that was potentially dual use and could maybe someday perhaps lead to an Iranian Bomb (the Iranians never decided to go in that direction and in 2015 mothballed 80% of their program). Apparently what the US economic elite really minded was not so much possible Iranian proliferation but that they would not get a few billion dollars as a payday for being the ones to supply the technology.

IP3 was not in a position to do an end run around the Atomic Energy Act, the law preventing an administration from handing over top nuclear secrets to another country without congressional approval. But the National Security Council could be a vehicle for secretly making such a deal.

The Congressional report says that the IP3 plot was closed down at one point but that NSC whistleblowers are afraid that some Trump administration personnel in the NSC and elsewhere may still be working on the illegal technology transfer.

Note that it might actually have been possible for Trump to get the scheme through the Republican House and Senate before last November but that the current legislators are unlikely to want to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear-bomb-making technology.

Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, appears to have picked up the scheme once Flynn was fired for having lied to the FBI over his contacts late in 2016 with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The committee report says that whistleblowers allege that in March, 2017, a meeting was held…

“Also present was a career NSC staffer who later informed colleagues that Mr. Harvey was again trying to promote the IP 3 plan “so that Jared Kushner can present it to the President for approval.”

For all we know, the plan to give the Saudis a nuke is still in play, with hundreds of billions of dollars at stake. This scheme is the ultimate in criminality, where US government resources (remember the Manhattan project?) are given away to another government by the white collar criminals now running the US government so that they can scoop up private massive fortunes rivaling those of the richest persons in the world such as Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates.

One thing you may be assured of is that Iran is going through this Congressional report with a fine-tooth comb. If there is one thing that really could crash the 2015 Iranian non-proliferation nuclear deal, it is the prospect of a Saudi Bomb. That people would try to destroy that deal on the one hand and slip Riyadh world-destroying secrets for personal enrichment boggles the mind.

Published:2/28/2019 11:03:20 PM
[Markets] Did Amazon Hire GM Executive To Help Build A Self-Driving Car?

A Wall Street Journal story about two executive departures at GM included a stray detail that raised eyebrows elsewhere in the financial press.

As GM works through an extensive restructuring in its North American operations that will involve the shuttering of several factories and some 14,000 layoffs, two executives who report directly to CEO Mary Barra are departing the company. Alan Batey, the longtime head of GM's North American business, will be retiring.

Meanwhile, Alicia Boler Davis, GM's global manufacturing chief and reportedly a top Barra lieutenant, is leaving to join Amazon.

Alicia Boler Davis, GM’s head of global manufacturing, is leaving to take a position at Amazon.com Inc., according to people familiar with the matter. Ms. Boler Davis couldn’t be reached for comment and her future position at the retailing giant couldn’t be learned. An Amazon spokesman declined to comment.

Ms. Boler Davis, 49, has been a rising star and one of Ms. Barra’s most trusted lieutenants, having also run the auto maker’s connected-car and quality divisions. She has led manufacturing for nearly three years.

While it's unclear what Davis's role will be at a Amazon, CNBC swiftly followed up by raising an important question: Is Davis's hiring a sign that that Amazon might be working on its own driverless car?

GM

Alicia Boler Davis

Considering that Amazon recently invested in two automotive tech firms, Rivian and Aurora, it's not an unreasonable thing to ask, as CNBC pointed out.

GM recently initiated a broad restructuring effort to save the company some $6 billion in costs through 2020.

Amazon recently invested in two automotive tech firms. It led a $700 million investment in electric vehicle makers, Rivian. Rivian's all-electric pickup and SUV could pose a direct challenge to established truck manufacturers like General Motors. Amazon also invested in a $530 million round of funding for Aurora, a startup developing autonomous systems that could rival those from GM Cruise. The company is already hauling some cargo in self-driving trucks from a startup called Embargo.

While Amazon is investing in automotive tech, it's not known whether the e-commerce and cloud computing titan will seek to manufacture its own driverless cars. Boler Davis' experience could also be useful as Amazon seeks to automate its warehouses and other facilities.

Given Davis's close relationship with Barra, it's unlikely that she was pushed out. More plausible would be the notion that Amazon was looking for an executive who could organize large-scale automobile manufacturing system. Barring that, her expertise could at least be useful as Amazon pushes to further streamline and automate its warehouses.

And, if nothing else, Davis would also bring a little diversity to the upper ranks of a company that has been under scrutiny for being too white and too male.

Whether Amazon is working on a car, or not, it's unlikely that we'll hear anything concrete from the company in the near future. Tech firms have been notoriously tight-lipped about their efforts to build driverless cars - just look at Apple's secretive "Project Titan." 

But it's definitely something to consider.

Published:2/28/2019 5:59:44 PM
[In The News] Senate Committee: US Colleges Violated Law, Took Chinese Cash To Host Propaganda

By Luke Rosiak -

China provided over $158 million in funding to U.S. schools for ‘Confucius Institutes,’ which Chinese officials have called a form of propaganda, a bipartisan Senate investigation found. The program’s U.S. counterpart in Chinese universities was shut down after alleged Chinese interference.   FBI Director Christopher Wray faulted ‘naïveté’ among U.S. college ...

Senate Committee: US Colleges Violated Law, Took Chinese Cash To Host Propaganda is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:2/28/2019 7:57:24 AM
[Markets] Gambino Heir: Michael Cohen Better Watch Out In Prison, "Inmates Love Trump And Hate Rats"

Giovanni Gambino has a warning for Michael Cohen: keep your mouth shut in prison because "inmates love Trump and hate rats." 

The 43-year-old son of the late Sicilian mob boss Francesco 'Ciccio' Gambino and cousin to crime boss Carlo Gambino told the Daily Mail that if Cohen wants to live through his prison experience, he better watch what he says. 

"Inmates love Trump, and hate rats. If he wants to get out alive, he better keep his mouth shut about Trump," said Gambino. 

While President Trump was in Vietnam negotiating with North Korea, Cohen testified in front of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, accusing Trump of racism, lying and cheating. 

Before Cohen's testimony, Trump tweeted from Hanoi: "Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also. He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!"

In December, Trump called cohen a "Rat," "after the FBI did something that was absolutely unthinkable & unheard of until the Witch Hunt was illegally started" by breaking into Cohen's office. 

 Giovanni Gambino agreed with Trump's take: "President Trump is right by calling Cohen a Rat,' Giovanni said. 'Cohen unnecessarily lied to the FBI and stupidly incriminated himself." 'Unfortunately he might face the same fate as Whitey Bulger,' Giovanni added, referring to the infamous Boston crime boss turned FBI informant. 

In October, Bulger was brutally killed inside a federal prison in West Virginia in a suspected mafia hit.

Cohen addressed the allegation that he is a 'rat' in his testimony on Wednesday, saying: 'I have been smeared as a rat by the President of the United States. The truth is much different ... I have always tried to live a life of loyalty, friendship, generosity and compassion.' -Daily Mail

Cohen is expected to turn himself over to federal custody on May 6 to begin a 36-month sentence for six financial crimes unrelated to President Trump, one count related to paying off a woman who claims she had an affair with Trump over a decade ago, and one count of making a false statement to congress. 

US District Judge William Pauley recommended that he serve his sentence at FCI Otisville - a minimum-security prison around 70 miles northwest of New York City known as one of the "cushiest" in the federal prison system, according to the Daily Mail. It is often requested by Jewish inmates such as Cohen due to their accommodation of religious and dietary needs. That said, it's up to the Bureau of Prisons to determine where Cohen actually serves out his term. 

Published:2/28/2019 6:56:31 AM
[Politics] Could U.S. Face Regime Change In Trump Era? The broadening revelations of the lawless, almost putschist excesses of the Comey-McCabe FBI and elements of the Justice Department and the Brennan-Clapper intelligence services invite serious contemplation of how close the United States came to being a country where regime change might be plausibly and self-righteously attempted by what in undemocratic countries is generally known as the secret police. It is fantastic to contemplate such a thing in the United States, which is fundamentally... Published:2/27/2019 11:55:57 AM
[Markets] The Age Of Tyrannical Surveillance: We're Being Branded, Bought, & Sold For Our Data

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about… Your digital identity will live forever... because there’s no delete button.

- Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt

Uncle Sam wants you.

Correction: Big Brother wants you.

To be technically accurate, Big Brother—aided and abetted by his corporate partners in crime—wants your data.

That’s what we have been reduced to in the eyes of the government and Corporate America: data bits and economic units to be bought, bartered and sold to the highest bidder.

Those highest bidders include America’s political class and the politicians aspiring to get elected or re-elected. As the Los Angeles Times reports, “If you have been to a political rally, a town hall, or just fit a demographic a campaign is after, chances are good your movements are being tracked with unnerving accuracy by data vendors on the payroll of campaigns.”

Your phones, televisions and digital devices are selling you out to politicians who want your vote.

Have you shopped at Whole Foods? Tested out target practice at a gun range? Sipped coffee at Starbucks while surfing the web? Visited an abortion clinic? Watched FOX News or MSNBC? Played Candy Crush on your phone? Walked through a mall? Walked past a government building?

That’s all it takes for your data to be hoovered up, sold and used to target you.

This is the age of surveillance capitalism.

Incredibly, once you’ve been identified and tracked, data brokers can travel back in time, digitally speaking, to discover where you’ve been, who you’ve been with, what you’ve been doing, and what you’ve been reading, viewing, buying, etc.

Once you’ve been identified in this way, you can be tracked endlessly.

“Welcome to the new frontier of campaign tech — a loosely regulated world in which simply downloading a weather app or game, connecting to Wi-Fi at a coffee shop or powering up a home router can allow a data broker to monitor your movements with ease, then compile the location information and sell it to a political candidate who can use it to surround you with messages,” writes journalist Evan Halper.

No one is spared.

In this regard, we are all equals: equally suffering the indignity of having every shred of privacy stripped away and the most intimate details of one’s life turned into fodder for marketers and data profiteers.

This creepy new era of government/corporate spying—in which we’re being listened to, watched, tracked, followed, mapped, bought, sold and targeted—makes the NSA’s surveillance appear almost antiquated in comparison.

What’s worse, this for-profit surveillance capitalism scheme is made possible with our cooperation.

All those disclaimers you scroll though without reading them, the ones written in minute font, only to quickly click on the “Agree” button at the end so you can get to the next step—downloading software, opening up a social media account, adding a new app to your phone or computer—those signify your written consent to having your activities monitored, recorded and shared.

Think about it.

Every move you make is being monitored, mined for data, crunched, and tabulated in order to form a picture of who you are, what makes you tick, and how best to influence and/or control you.

On any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways by both government and corporate eyes and ears. A byproduct of this new age in which we live, 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 is listening in and tracking your behavior.

With every smartphone we buy, every GPS device we install, every Twitter, Facebook, and Google account we open, every frequent buyer card we use for purchases—whether at the grocer’s, the yogurt shop, the airlines or the department store—and every credit and debit card we use to pay for our transactions, we’re helping Corporate America build a dossier for its government counterparts on who we know, what we think, how we spend our money, and how we spend our time.

The technology has advanced so far that marketers (political campaigns are among the worst offenders) can actually build “digital fences” around your homes, workplaces, friends and family’s homes and other places you visit in order to bombard you with specially crafted messages aimed at achieving a particular outcome.

If anyone else stalked us in this way—tailing us wherever we go, tapping into our calls, reading our correspondence, ferreting out our secrets, profiling and targeting us based on our interests and activities—we’d call the cops.

Unfortunately, the cops (equipped with Stingray devices and other Peeping Tom technologies) are also in on this particular scam.

It’s not just the surveillance and the buying and selling of your data that is worrisome.

The ramifications of a government—any government—having this much unregulated, unaccountable power to target, track, round up and detain its citizens is beyond chilling.

Imagine what a totalitarian regime such as Nazi Germany could have done with this kind of unadulterated power.

Imagine what the next police state to follow in Germany’s footsteps will do with this kind of power. Society is definitely rapidly moving in that direction.

We’ve made it so easy for the government to watch us.

Government eyes see your every move: what you read, how much you spend, where you go, with whom you interact, when you wake up in the morning, what you’re watching on television and reading on the internet.

Every move you make is being monitored, mined for data, crunched, and tabulated in order to form a picture of who you are, what makes you tick, and how best to control you when and if it becomes necessary to bring you in line.

If you’re an activist and you simply like or share this article on Facebook or retweet it on Twitter, you’re most likely flagging yourself as a potential renegade, revolutionary or anti-government extremist—a.k.a. terrorist.

Yet whether or not you like or share this particular article, simply by reading it or any other articles related to government wrongdoing, surveillance, police misconduct or civil liberties is enough to get you categorized as a particular kind of person with particular kinds of interests that reflect a particular kind of mindset that might just lead you to engage in a particular kinds of activities. The corporate state must watch and keep tabs on you if it is to keep you in line.

Chances are, as the Washington Post has reported, you have already been assigned a color-coded threat assessment score—green, yellow or red—so police are forewarned about your potential inclination to be a troublemaker depending on whether you’ve had a career in the military, posted a comment perceived as threatening on Facebook, suffer from a particular medical condition, or know someone who knows someone who might have committed a crime.

In other words, you might already be flagged as potentially anti-government in a government database somewhere—Main Core, for example—that identifies and tracks individuals (so they can be rounded up and detained in times of distress) who aren’t inclined to march in lockstep to the police state’s dictates.

The government has the know-how.

As The Intercept reported, the FBI, CIA, NSA and other government agencies are increasingly investing in and relying on corporate surveillance technologies that can mine constitutionally protected speech on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to identify potential extremists and predict who might engage in future acts of anti-government behavior.

It’s happening already in China.

Millions of Chinese individuals and businesses, blacklisted as “unworthy” based on social media credit scores that grade them based on whether they are “good” citizens, have now been banned from accessing financial markets, buying real estate or travelling by air or train. Among the activities that can get you labeled unworthy are taking reserved seats on trains or causing trouble in hospitals.

Get ready, because all signs point to China serving as the role model for our dystopian future.

When the government sees all and knows all and has an abundance of laws to render even the most seemingly upstanding citizen a criminal and lawbreaker, then the old adage that you’ve got nothing to worry about if you’ve got nothing to hide no longer applies.

Apart from the overt dangers posed by a government that feels justified and empowered to spy on its people and use its ever-expanding arsenal of weapons and technology to monitor and control them, there’s also the covert dangers associated with a government empowered to use these same technologies to influence behaviors en masse and control the populace.

In fact, it was President Obama who issued an executive order directing federal agencies to use “behavioral science” methods to minimize bureaucracy and influence the way people respond to government programs.

It’s a short hop, skip and a jump from a behavioral program that tries to influence how people respond to paperwork to a government program that tries to shape the public’s views about other, more consequential matters.

Add pre-crime programs into the mix with government agencies and corporations working in tandem to determine who is a potential danger and spin a sticky spider-web of threat assessments, behavioral sensing warnings, flagged “words,” and “suspicious” activity reports using automated eyes and ears, social media, behavior sensing software, and citizen spies, and you having the makings for a perfect dystopian nightmare.

This is the kind of oppressive pre-crime and pre-thought crime package foreshadowed by George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and Phillip K. Dick.

Remember, even the most well-intentioned government law or program can be—and has been—perverted, corrupted and used to advance illegitimate purposes once profit and power are added to the equation.

The war on terror, the war on drugs, the war on illegal immigration, asset forfeiture schemes, road safety schemes, school safety schemes, eminent domain: all of these programs started out as legitimate responses to pressing concerns and have since become weapons of compliance and control in the police state’s hands.

In the right (or wrong) hands, benevolent plans can easily be put to malevolent purposes.

Surveillance, digital stalking and the data mining of the American people—weapons of compliance and control in the government’s hands, especially when the government can listen in on your phone calls, monitor your driving habits, track your movements, scrutinize your purchases and peer through the walls of your home—add up to a society in which there’s little room for indiscretions, imperfections, or acts of independence.

This is the creepy, calculating yet diabolical genius of the American police state: the very technology we hailed as revolutionary and liberating has become our prison, jailer, probation officer, Big Brother and Father Knows Best all rolled into one.

It turns out that we are Soylent Green.

The 1973 film of the same name, starring Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson, is set in 2022 in an overpopulated, polluted, starving New York City whose inhabitants depend on synthetic foods manufactured by the Soylent Corporation for survival.

Heston plays a policeman investigating a murder, who discovers the grisly truth about the primary ingredient in the wafer, soylent green, which is the principal source of nourishment for a starved population. “It’s people. Soylent Green is made out of people,” declares Heston’s character. “They’re making our food out of people. Next thing they’ll be breeding us like cattle for food.”

Oh, how right he was.

Soylent Green is indeed people or, in our case, Soylent Green is our own personal data, repossessed, repackaged and used by corporations and the government to entrap us.

We, too, are being bred like cattle but not for food.

Rather, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we’re being bred, branded, bought and sold for our data.

As the insidious partnership between the U.S. government and Corporate America grows more invasive and more subtle with every passing day, there’s virtually no way to opt out of these assaults on your digital privacy short of being a modern-day Luddite, completely disconnected from all technology.

Indeed, George Orwell’s description of the world of 1984 is as apt a description of today’s world as I’ve ever seen: “You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”

What we desperately lack and urgently need is an Electronic Bill of Rights that protects “we the people” from predatory surveillance and data-mining business practices.

Without constitutional protections in place to guard against encroachments on our rights in the electronic realm, it won’t be long before we find ourselves, much like Edward G. Robinson’s character in Soylent Green, looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted, buy what we wanted, think what we wanted without those thoughts, words and activities being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants such as Google, sold to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies.

Published:2/26/2019 10:23:04 PM
[Politics] Newt Gingrich: FBI Attempted a Coup of President Trump Lost in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into 2016 election meddling is "one of the great scandals in American history," as FBI officials sought to undo the authority of President Donald Trump, according to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich."If you look at... Published:2/24/2019 10:04:47 AM
[e6575d09-44fe-5c70-8800-a6c0dc85c4b4] Deroy Murdock: Is Donald Trump a Russian asset? Claims by disgraced former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe that President Trump is a Russian asset are absurd. Published:2/23/2019 6:01:41 PM
[Media] WOW: Michael Steele says Trump’s probably not happy with FBI for arresting white supremacist

So Michael Steele thinks Trump would have been happy if the domestic terrorist had executed his plan?

The post WOW: Michael Steele says Trump’s probably not happy with FBI for arresting white supremacist appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/23/2019 6:01:41 PM
[Markets] Judge Rules Plea Deal For "Orgy Island Billionaire" Broke Federal Law

In an opinion that was 11 years in the making, a federal judge has ruled in a lawsuit brought by victims of disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein - who infamously served 13 months in prison on state prostitution charges after scoring a plea deal with prosecutors led by now-Labor Secretary Alex Acosta - that Acosta and other attorneys with whom he worked at the US attorneys office of South Florida violated federal law when they sealed Epstein's plea deal, preventing any of his victims from challenging the deal, the Miami Herald reported.

Epstein

 

The lawsuit was originally brought in 2008 after Epstein started serving his term. He was released in 2009. But is only now being resolved following renewed interest in the case following a series of reports in the Herald about how the wealthy and well-connected Epstein - who allegedly ferried Bill Clinton and actor Kevin Spacey to his "Orgy Island" aboard his plane, which has been termed "the Lolita Express" - received such a lenient sentence for offenses that some said should have elicited federal sex trafficking charges.

Marra agreed, saying that while prosecutors had the right to resolve the case in any way they saw fit, they violated the law by hiding the agreement from Epstein’s victims. Marra’s decision capped 11 years of litigation — which included the release of a trove of emails showing how Acosta and other prosecutors worked with Epstein’s high profile lawyers to conceal the deal — and the scope of Epstein’s crimes — from both his victims and the public.

"Particularly problematic was the Government’s decision to conceal the existence of the [agreement] and mislead the victims to believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility," Marra wrote. "When the Government gives information to victims, it cannot be misleading. While the Government spent untold hours negotiating the terms and implications of the [agreement] with Epstein’s attorneys, scant information was shared with victims.’"

Given that the determination was made in a civil court opinion, Acosta won't be facing any charges. But the ruling is certainly a black eye for his legacy as US attorney. But White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the administration would be "looking into" Acosta's role in the plea deal.

In the opinion, the judge determined that Epstein helped recruit underage girls "for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others".

The lawyer who brought the civil suit said he was relieved to read the opinion, and blasted the government attorneys for appearing to side with Epstein over his victims.

Brad Edwards, the Fort Lauderdale attorney who brought the case, said he was elated at the judge’s ruling, but admitted he is bitter that the case took 11 years to litigate, blaming federal prosecutors for needlessly dragging out the case when they could have remedied their error when it was brought to their attention in 2008.

"The Government aligned themselves with Epstein, working against his victims, for 11 years," Edwards said. "Yes, this is a huge victory, but to make his victims suffer for 11 years, this should not have happened. Instead of admitting what they did, and doing the right thing, they spent 11 years fighting these girls."

Still, Epstein will likely live out his life as a free man (unless new offenses are committed, or if other victims of his sex trafficking in different jurisdictions come forward. There's no statute of limitations on sex trafficking). The ruling comes after Senators on the Judiciary Committee asked that the DOJ open an investigation into the deal, which was offered at a time when Robert Mueller was running the FBI.

Published:2/22/2019 7:55:03 PM
[The Blog] TMZ: FBI sources tapping brakes on Chicago PD’s claims regarding Smollett threat letter

"We're not there yet."

The post TMZ: FBI sources tapping brakes on Chicago PD’s claims regarding Smollett threat letter appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:2/22/2019 1:24:01 PM
[Markets] Schiffting To Phase 2: The Mueller Report 'Disappointment' Will Be Just The Beginning

James Howard Kunstler notes that the #Resistance has been losing bigly in recent days as each new “bombshell” it manufactures turns out only to reveal its modus operandi, which is that the end justifies the means - the end being to evict the wicked Mr. Trump from office and the means being dishonesty and bad faith in its use of the government’s prosecutorial machinery.

The New York Times has a Friday op-ed, The Mueller Report Is Coming. Here’s What to Expect, declaring, “A concise report will probably act a a ‘road map’ to investigation for the Democratic House — and to further criminal investigation by other prosecutors.”

Translation: prepare to be disappointed by Mr. Mueller’s report and microwave a giant tub of popcorn for an extravaganza of sequels and re-boots. Beware of what you wish for. If the baton is passed to House committee chairs Jerrold Nadler, Maxine Waters, and Elijah Cummings, then in Act Two of the show, the country will be treated to something like the Spanish Inquisition as performed by Moe, Larry, and Curly.

But, as The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel notes, there’s been no more reliable regurgitator of fantastical Trump-Russia collusion theories than Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff. So when the House Intelligence Committee chairman sits down to describe a “new phase” of the Trump investigation, pay attention. These are the fever swamps into which we will descend after Robert Mueller’s probe.

The collusionists need a “new phase” as signs grow that the special counsel won’t help realize their reveries of a Donald Trump takedown. They had said Mr. Mueller would provide all the answers. Now that it seems they won’t like his answers, Democrats and media insist that any report will likely prove “anticlimactic” and “inconclusive.” “This is merely the end of Chapter 1,” said Renato Mariotti, a CNN legal “analyst.”

Mr. Schiff turned this week to a dependable scribe—the Washington Post’s David Ignatius—to lay out the next chapter of the penny dreadful. Mr. Ignatius was the original conduit for the leak about former national security adviser Mike Flynn’s conversations with a Russian ambassador, and the far-fetched claims that Mr. Flynn had violated the Logan Act of 1799. Mr. Schiff has now dictated to Mr. Ignatius a whole new collusion theory. Forget Carter Page, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos—whoever. The real Trump-Russia canoodling rests in “Trump’s finances.” The future president was “doing business with Russia” and “seeking Kremlin help.”

So, no apologies. No acknowledgment that Mr. Schiff & Co. for years have pushed fake stories that accused innocent men and women of being Russian agents. No relieved hope that the country might finally put this behind us. Just a smooth transition—using Russia as a hook—into Mr. Trump’s finances. Mueller who?

What’s mind-boggling is that reporters would continue to take Mr. Schiff seriously, given his extraordinary record of incorrect and misleading pronouncements. This is the man who, on March 22, 2017, helped launch full-blown hysteria when he said on “Meet the Press” that his committee already had the goods on Trump-Russia collusion.

“I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now,” Mr. Schiff declared then. Almost two years later, he’s provided no such evidence and stopped making the claim—undoubtedly because, as the Senate Intelligence Committee has said publicly, no such evidence has been found.

At an open House Intelligence Committee hearing on March 20, 2017, Mr. Schiff stated as fact numerous crazy accusations from the infamous Steele dossier—giving them early currency and credence. He claimed that former Trump campaign aide Carter Page secretly met with a Vladimir Putin crony and was offered the brokerage of a 19% share in a Russian company. That Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort tapped Mr. Page as a go-between. That the Russians offered the Trump campaign damaging documents on Hillary Clinton in return for a blind eye to Moscow’s Ukraine policy. Mr. Schiff has never acknowledged that all these allegations have been debunked or remain unproved.

There was Mr. Schiff’s role in plumping the discredited January BuzzFeed story claiming Mr. Mueller had evidence the president directed his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. The special counsel’s office issued a rare statement denying the report. There was Mr. Schiff’s theory that the mysterious phone calls Donald Trump Jr. placed before his 2016 meeting with Russians at Trump Tower were to Candidate Trump. Senate Intel shot that down. And don’t forget Mr. Schiff’s February 2018 memo claiming the Steele dossier “did not inform” the FBI probe, because the bureau didn’t obtain it until long after the probe’s start. Testimony from Justice Department officials shot that one down, too.

With a track record like this, who wouldn’t believe Mr. Schiff’s new claim, in the Ignatius interview, that the key to collusion rests in Trump finances—in particular something to do with Deutsche Bank ? But hold on. Where did we first hear that Deutsche Bank theory? That’s right. See pages 64 and 117 of the wild House testimony of Glenn Simpson—head of Fusion GPS, the organization behind the Steele dossier. It’s right there, stuffed in between Mr. Simpson’s musings that Ivanka Trump might be involved with a “Russian Central Asian organized crime nexus,” that there is something nefarious happening on the “island of St. Martin in the Caribbean,” and that Roger Stone is part of a “Turkey-Russia” plot.

Mr. Schiff is taking his cue for Phase 2 of his investigation from the same Democrat-hired opposition-research group that launched the failed Phase 1.

At the start of all the Russia craziness, Mr. Schiff had a choice: maintain the bipartisan integrity of his committee by working with Republicans to find honest answers, or take on the role of resident conspiracy theorist. He chose his path. The rest of us should know better than to follow him.

Meanwhile, as Jim Kunstler continues,  ths antics of Waters, Schiff et al., may be eclipsed by the now inevitable inquiry around the misdeeds carried out by public officials in Act I of the show: the Russia Collusion Ruse. Based just on the current Andy McCabe book tour, there will be an awful lot to get to, and it is liable to be far more compelling than the nonsense conjured up by the Three Stooges. Mr. McCabe, in his quest to hand off the hot potato of culpability to his former colleagues, and to sell enough books to pay his lawyers’ retainers, has neatly laid out the case for his orchestrating a coup d’etat within the FBI.

It’s an ugly story, and it’s all out there now, like so much spaghetti hurled against the wall, and it won’t be ignored. There are many other spaghetti wads already plastered on that wall ranging from Hillary Clinton’s Fusion GPS hijinks, to Loretta Lynn’s written assurances to the Clinton campaign that the email server matter would be dropped, to the rather complete failure of the FISA process, and much much more that needs to be ventilated in a court of law.

I suspect that Barack Obama and his White House confidantes will enter the picture, too, sooner later, and to the great dismay of his partisans who do not want to see his legacy tarnished. Whatever your view of all these dark events, it would be pretty awful for the country to have to see him in a witness chair, but it may be unavoidable. Ditto Hillary, who is liable to go all Captain Queeg-y when she finally has to answer for her campaign’s turpitudes.

Most of this cast of characters has seemingly gone-to-ground in recent months, laying low, staying out of the news, probably spending much of their time conferring with their attorneys - Brennan, Clapper, Comey, et al, all keeping their traps shut in recent days as Andy McCabe takes his hangdog road-show around the Cable Networks and the NPR fluff chamber, spelling out the “stress” that prompted the FBI’s desperate attempt to cover its ass following the unbelievable 2016 election results.

I don’t pretend to know what the new Attorney General William Barr might do. He must realize that if he lets all this slide, the institutional damage will be permanent and severe. He is reputed to be a good friend of Special Prosecutor Mueller. Mr. Mueller’s reputation as the straightest of straight arrows seems at odds with the actual exercise of his office: generating rinky-dink “process” crimes against bit-players in the story, often via malicious prosecutorial tactics. The likely truth is that he was brought into the scene to protect the very characters who misused the terrible powers of the FBI and the Department of Justice. His investigation has been hermetically sealed against leakage. For all I or anyone else knows, he has spent some time preparing a case against the very officers who cooked up the Russia story in the first place. Perhaps not a high-percentage bet, but there it is for consideration.

It’s going to be an interesting month. Have you forgotten that General Michael Flynn will be returning to Judge Emmet Sullivan’s courtroom after three months in the doghouse that the judge sent him to for the purpose of reconsidering his guilty plea? Perhaps Gen. Flynn rediscovered that he has a spine this winter and will venture into a trial of the Mickey Mouse charge against him: that, as incoming National Security Advisor to the President, he had preliminary discussions with the Russian ambassador — in all other transitions-of-power, a completely normal procedure — and supposedly lied about it to the FBI. To the very people orchestrating a coup against his boss, the chief executive.

Published:2/22/2019 1:24:01 PM
[Donald Trump] Top FBI Attorney (And Others) Wanted To Charge Hillary, But Comey Talked Them Out Of It

Former FBI chief attorney James Baker wanted Clinton indicted for her violations of the Espionage Act but James Comey talked her out of it

The post Top FBI Attorney (And Others) Wanted To Charge Hillary, But Comey Talked Them Out Of It appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/22/2019 11:23:56 AM
[Donald Trump] Top FBI Attorney (And Others) Wanted To Charge Hillary, But Comey Talked Them Out Of It

Former FBI chief attorney James Baker wanted Clinton indicted for her violations of the Espionage Act but James Comey talked her out of it

The post Top FBI Attorney (And Others) Wanted To Charge Hillary, But Comey Talked Them Out Of It appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/22/2019 11:23:56 AM
[Media] Hey … Trump tweeted about Smollett; Is he going to tweet about that white supremacist the FBI arrested too?

Trump publically condemned the fake hate crime against a gay black man; will he condemn the white supremacist too, or is he cool with that?

The post Hey … Trump tweeted about Smollett; Is he going to tweet about that white supremacist the FBI arrested too? appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/21/2019 7:20:46 PM
[The Blog] Report: FBI General Counsel initially thought Hillary should face charges in email scandal

"...became persuaded that charging her was not appropriate"

The post Report: FBI General Counsel initially thought Hillary should face charges in email scandal appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:2/21/2019 6:49:42 PM
[Markets] FBI's Top Lawyer Thought Hillary Clinton Should Be Criminally Prosecuted - Was "Persuaded" To Change His Mind

The FBI's top lawyer, General Counsel James Baker, initially thought that Hillary Clinton should face criminal charges for transmitting classified information over her insecure, private email server, according to transcripts from a 2018 closed-door Congressional testimony reviewed by The Hill's John Solomon. 

James Baker

While being questioned by Rep. John Radcliffe (R-TX), Baker was clear that he thought Clinton should face criminal charges. 

"I have reason to believe that you originally believed it was appropriate to charge Hillary Clinton with regard to violations of law - various laws, with regard to mishandling of classified information. Is that accurate?" asked Ratcliffe, a former federal prosecutor. 

After a brief pause to consult with his attorney, Baker responded: "Yes." 

Baker later explained how he arrived at his conclusion, and how he was "persuaded" to change his mind. 

"So, I had that belief initially after reviewing, you know, a large binder of her emails that had classified information in them," said Baker. "And I discussed it internally with a number of different folks, and eventually became persuaded that charging her was not appropriate because we could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that - we, the government, could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that - she had the intent necessary to violate (the law)."

Baker says he was persuaded to change his mind "pretty late in the process, because we were arguing about it, I think, up until the end."

Recall that in December, 2017 we learned that James Comey's original exoneration letter was drafted in a way that would have required criminal charges - changing Clinton's conduct from the legally significant "gross negligence" to "extremely careless" - which is not a legal term of art. This language - along with several other incriminating components was altered by former FBI counterintelligence agent and attorney, Peter Strzok. 

Baker made clear that he did not like the activity Clinton had engaged in: "My original belief after - well, after having conducted the investigation and towards the end of it, then sitting down and reading a binder of her materials - I thought that it was alarming, appalling, whatever words I said, and argued with others about why they thought she shouldn't be charged."

His boss, Comey, announced on July 5, 2016, that he would not recommend criminal charges. He did so without consulting the Department of Justice, a decision the department's inspector general (IG) later concluded was misguided and likely usurped the power of the attorney general to make prosecutorial decisions. Comey has said, in retrospect, he accepts that finding but took the actions he did because he thought "they were in the country's best interest." -The Hill

Baker noted that had he been more convinced that there was evidence that Clinton intended to violate the law, "I would have argued that vociferously with him [Comey] and maybe changed his view."

Published:2/21/2019 4:49:24 PM
[] FBI's Top Lawyer Thought Hillary Clinton Should Be Prosecuted Over Email Crimes, But Was Talked Out Of It Comey's defense for his own campaign to free Hillary Clinton from legal consequence was that "no reasonable prosecutor" would press charges for this set of facts. Well, sure -- I mean, except for the FBI's own top lawyer. Turns out... Published:2/21/2019 12:18:11 PM
[Markets] Smollett Under Arrest; Empire Star Surrenders On Felony Charge In Hate-Crime Hoax

Empire actor Jussie Smollett surrendered himself to authorities Thursday morning after 5 a.m., after Chicago PD charged him with one count of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report connected with a hate-crime hoax, reports ABC 7 Chicago

"Jussie Smollet [sic] is under arrest and in custody of detectives," tweeted Chicago PD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. 

Chicago PD will conduct a press conference at 9 a.m., while Smollett is expected in bond court at 1:30 p.m. Thursday where a judge will formally read the charge against Smollett before he will be released. He will return to court at a later date to enter his plea.

The actor faces up to three years in prison and substantial crimes if convicted of the Class-4 felony

Smollett claimed he was the victim of a predawn hate crime on January 27, in which he says two men assaulted him while he was on his way home after buying a sandwich; hurling racial and antigay slurs at him, dousing him in a liquid, placing a noose around his neck (which he was still wearing when police arrived later that morning), and punching him in the face. 

The incident sparked national outrage - with the left-leaning mainstream media and prominent Democrats uncritically supporting Smollett's version of events; holding it up as a prime example of violent Donald Trump supporters

Then - two suspects in the case, Nigerian-American brothers Ola and Abel Osundario - one of whom has been an extra on Empire, told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 each to stage the "attack," and that the three of them had practiced it beforehand. They also said that Smollett was involved in creating a racist letter containing a white substance that was sent to the actor on the Chicago set of Empire. When the letter failed to achieve the desired level of national outrage, the Osundario brothers say Smollett concocted the hate-crime. 

Of note, police recovered a magazine and handwriting samples during a raid last week on a home shared by the brothers.

the attorney representing the brothers, Gloria Schmidt, said they testified in front of a grand jury for hours Thursday and said Smollett needs to come clean about what really happened.

"I think that Jussie's conscience is probably not letting him sleep right now, so I think he should unload that conscience and just come out and tell the American people what actually happened," Schmidt. -ABC 7

Smollett's high-powered attorneys fired back, saying in a statement: "Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."

According to CBS, "About a dozen search warrants have now been issued, including ones for Smollett’s financial and phone records, and detectives are waiting for those records to come back."

Meanwhile, the FBI and US Postal Inspection Service are investigating the letter, sent to the Empire studio on Jan. 22, and whether Smollett was behind it as the Osundario brothers allege. 

Wednesday evening ABC7 Eyewitness News obtained surveillance video of the Osundairo brothers linked to the reported attack from a beauty supply shop. The video shows the brothers purchasing items possibly used in the case.

Employees at Beauty House in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood said the brothers came to the business the day before the alleged attack. The store is a little more than a mile from their apartment, and a security guard said he remembers the siblings because they purchased ski masks. -ABC 7

Sources say that the brothers bought the rope used in the incident at the Crafty Beaver Hardware Store in the Ravenswood neighborhood during the weekend of Jan. 25. 

Chicago PD confirmed the authenticity of the surveillance video, which shows the nervous brothers purchasing several items - including a red baseball cap, ski masks and gloves

The brother asked security guard Montago Silas if the store sold ski masks, however the business did not have the traditional balaclava-type mask, according to ABC 7. Silas thought it was strange that the bought them anyway. 

"It was bizarre because it was unusual for people to purchase these type of masks, not since the 70s, but I thought it was a little strange," he said. 

Surveillance video shows the brothers leaving the store, getting into a silver two-door coup and then driving away. Smollett reported the attack hours later.  

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the case, her office told ABC News on Tuesday "out of an abundance of caution." 

"Shortly after the incident occurred in late January, State's Attorney Foxx had conversations with a family member of Jussie Smollett about the incident and their concerns, and facilitated a connection to the Chicago Police Department who were investigating the incident. Based on those prior conversations and out of an abundance of caution, last week State's Attorney Foxx decided to remove herself from the decision making in this matter and delegated it to her First Assistant Joseph Magats, a 28-year veteran prosecutor," reads a statement from Foxx's office. 

Published:2/21/2019 7:52:27 AM
[Markets] Let's Face It: The U.S. Constitution Has Failed

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Elections provide the bread-and-circuses staged-drama that is passed off as democracy.

Despite the anything-goes quality of American culture, one thing remains verboten to say publicly: the U.S. Constitution has failed. The reason why this painfully obvious fact cannot be discussed publicly is that it gives the lie to the legitimacy of the entire status quo.

The Constitution was intended to limit 1) the power of government over the citizenry 2) the power of each branch of government and 3) the power of political/financial elites over the government and the citizenry, as the Founders recognized the intrinsic risks of an all-powerful state, an all-powerful state dominated by one branch of government and the risks of a financial elite corrupting the state to serve their interests above those of the citizenry.

The Constitution has failed to place limits on the power of government, on the emergence of unaccountable states-within-a-state agencies and on the political power of financial elites.

How has the Constitution failed? It has failed in three ways:

1. Corporations and the super-wealthy elite control the machinery of governance. The public interest is not represented except as interpreted / filtered through corporate/elite interests.

2. The nation's central bank, the Federal Reserve, has the power to debauch the nation's currency and reward the wealthy via issuing new currency and buying Treasury bonds in whatever sums it deems necessary at the moment. The Fed is only nominally under the control of the elected government. It is in effect an independent state-within-a-state that dominates the financial well-being of the entire nation.

3. The National Security State--the alphabet agencies of the FBI, CIA, NSA et al.--are an independent state-within-a-state, answerable only to themselves, not to the public or their representatives. Congressional oversight is little more than feeble rubber-stamping of the Imperial Project and whatever the unelected National Security leadership deems worthy of pursuit.

The Constitution's core regulatory element--the balancing of executive, legislative and judicial power--has broken down. The judiciary's independence is as nominal as the legislative branch's control of the central bank and National Security state: the gradual encroachment of corporate and state power is rubber-stamped and declared constitutional.

The secret power of the National Security agencies was declared constitutional early in the Cold war, when unleashing unaccountable and secret agencies was deemed necessary.

The bizarre public-private Federal Reserve was deemed constitutional at its founding in 1913, and the Supreme Court famously declared that corporations have the same rights to free speech (including loudspeakers that cost millions of dollars) as living citizens.

The powers of the Imperial Presidency also continue expanding, regardless of which party is in office or the supposed ideological tropisms of Supreme Court justices.

Every step of this erosion of public representation and the elected government's power is declared fully constitutional, in classic boiled-frog fashion. The frog detects the rising temperature of the water but isn't alarmed as the heat is increased so gradually.

Since the rise of unaccountable states-within-a-state are constitutional, as is the dominance of corporate / private-wealth elites, on what grounds can citizens protest their loss of representation?

Elections provide the bread-and-circuses staged drama that is passed off as democracy. The key goal of the corporate/state media coverage, of course, is to foster the illusion that elections really, really, really matter, when the reality is they don't. The National Security State grinds on, the Federal Reserve grinds on and the dominance of corporate-wealth elites grinds on regardless of who's in office.

Every emergency is met by the ceding of more power to unelected elites in positions to serve their own interests. The Cold War, financial panics, Cold War Redux--every crisis is an excuse to expand the powers of the unaccountable, opaque states-within-a-state.

The media is already gearing up with 24/7 coverage of the 2020 elections. The constant churn of drama-trauma serves to mask the impotence and powerlessness of the citizenry and the unaccountability of the states-within-a-state that rule the nation.

*  *  *

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 ebook, $12 print, $13.08 audiobook): Read the first section for free in PDF format. My new mystery The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake is a ridiculously affordable $1.29 (Kindle) or $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF).  My book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format. If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

Published:2/20/2019 11:15:05 PM
[In The News] Report: Mueller Probe Could End Next Week

By Chuck Ross -

The special counsel’s investigation could wrap up as soon as next week with the delivery of a confidential report to the Justice Department, CNN is reporting. According to the network, Attorney General William Barr is preparing to receive a report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who took over an FBI ...

Report: Mueller Probe Could End Next Week is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:2/20/2019 7:43:34 PM
[Politics] Trump: McCabe Has Made 'Fool Out of Himself' President Donald Trump said former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe made "a fool out of himself" over the past few days, sharing guarded and private processes on national television. Published:2/20/2019 3:45:30 PM
[4ac6576b-c4a3-5f6e-a784-8a441f7145fa] 'The View' co-host Meghan McCain: ‘When I hear the name Tulsi Gabbard, I think of Assad apologist’ “The View” co-host Meghan McCain confronted Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard about her views on Syria when the 2020 presidential hopeful stopped by the ABC News gabfest on Wednesday, one day after making news by grilling former FBI director Andrew McCabe. Published:2/20/2019 2:45:00 PM
[World] Sean Spicer Blasts Andrew McCabe Media Tour, Trump Russia Agent Claims

Sean Spicer ripped former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for "salacious" claims about President Trump during his whirlwind media tour.

Published:2/20/2019 10:13:49 AM
[Markets] Rosenstein Will Step Down Mid-March: DOJ Official

US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expected to step down in mid-March, according to Reuters, citing a Justice Department official.

Rosenstein - who has refused to testify in front of Congress since reports emerged that he wanted to secretly record President Trump and invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, had been expected to leave his position shortly after newly minted Attorney General William Barr assumed his office. 

The DOJ official said Rosenstein's departure was not connected to the 25th Amendment or surveillance allegations. 

Of note, Rosenstein recommended the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, then launched the special counsel probe using Comey's hand-written 'evidence' that Trump obstructed justice by pressuring him to end the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. 

According to a September New York Times report and renewed allegations by former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Rosenstein considered wearing a wire in meetings with Trump - an accusation that the Deputy AG has called "inaccurate and factually incorrect." 

Earlier on Monday Trump accused both McCabe and Rosenstein of planning a “very illegal act,” which he described in a tweet as “illegal and treasonous.”

Rosenstein ceased overseeing Mueller’s probe on Nov. 7 when Trump named Matt Whittaker acting attorney general.

Barr now has oversight of the investigation. -Reuters

President Trump has repeatedly fumed over the Mueller probe, which has yet to report any evidence of collusion between Trumpworld and Russia surrounding the 2016 US election.

Published:2/20/2019 8:13:38 AM
[US News] WATCH: Andrew McCabe changes his story on Rod Rosenstein ‘counting votes’ during interview on ‘Morning Joe’

SHOT… Fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told the panel on “Morning Joe” that he was not aware of Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein “counting votes or possible votes” to remove President Trump from office via the 25th Amendment: McCabe on 60 Minutes: Rosenstein was "counting votes or possible votes" on using the 25th Amendment. McCabe […]

The post WATCH: Andrew McCabe changes his story on Rod Rosenstein ‘counting votes’ during interview on ‘Morning Joe’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/20/2019 7:46:03 AM
[Politics] Andrew McCabe: 'It's Possible' Trump Is Russian Asset President Donald Trump could be an asset of Russian intelligence, according to former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in promotion of his new book. Published:2/19/2019 10:08:15 PM
[World] [Stewart Baker] How to draft an Executive Order on alien abductions

Episode 251 of the Cyberlaw Podcast

The backlash against Big Tech dominates this episode, as we cover new regulatory initiatives in the US, EU, Israel, Russia, and China. The misbegotten link tax and upload filter provisions of the EU copyright directive have survived the convoluted EU legislative gantlet. My prediction: the link tax will fail because Google wants it to fail, but the upload filter will succeed because Google wants YouTube's competitors to fail.

Rumors are flying that the FTC and Facebook will agree on a billion-dollar-plus fine on the company for failure to adhere to its consent decree. My guess? This is not so much about law as about the climate of hostility around the company since it took the blame for Trump's election.

And, in yet another attack on Big Tech, the EU is targeting Google and Amazon for unfair practices as sales platforms. Uncharacteristically, I refuse to criticize the EU over this policy.

Artificial intelligence is so overworked a tech theme that it has even attracted the attention of the White House and DOD. We ask a new contributor, Jessica "Zhanna" Malekos Smith, to walk us through the President's Executive Order on AI. I complain that it's a cookie-cutter order that could as easily apply to alien abductions. DOD's AI strategy, in contrast, is somewhat more substantive.

If you can't beat 'em, ban 'em. Instead of regulating Big Tech, Russia is looking to take its own Internet offline in an emergency. The real question is whether Russia is planning to cause the emergency it's protecting itself against. If so, the West is profoundly unready.

CFIUS is contagious! Brian Egan tells us that under US pressure Israel is considering restrictions on Chinese investment as the world keeps choosing sides in the new cold war.

China's Ministry of Public Security is now authorized to conduct no-notice penetration testing of Internet businesses operating in China. I must say, it was nice of them to offer the service in beta to OPM, Anthem, and Equifax. Speaking of which, this mayspell (more) trouble for Western firms doing business in China.

Brian touches on Treasury's new sanctions against Iranian organizations for supporting intelligence and cyber operations targeting US persons. It turns out that the hackers had help – and that there is no ideology so loathsome it can't win converts among Americans.

Nate Jones describes the EU's plan to use "cyber sanctions" to fend off hackers during upcoming elections.

This Week in Old Guys You Shouldn't Mess With: Nate reveals how 94-year-old William H. Webster helped take down a Jamaican scam artist. Of course, if he was any younger, he probably wouldn't have picked up when the landline rang.

Our colleagues Nate Jones and David Kris have launched the Culper Partners Rule of Law Series. Be sure to listen as episodes are released through Lawfare.

Do you have policy ideas for how to improve cybercrime enforcement? Our friends at Third Way and the Journal of National Security Law & Policy are accepting proposals for their upcoming Cyber Enforcement Symposium. You can find the call for papers here.

Download the 251st Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.

Published:2/19/2019 6:06:24 PM
[Markets] What Comes After McCabe?

Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director from February 2016 to January 2018 and former Acting Director of the FBI from May 9, 2017, to August 2, 2017, was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions Sessions on March 16, 2018, 26 hours before his scheduled retirement. On April 18 2018 it was reported that the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, sent a referral to the US attorney’s office in Washington for possible criminal charges against McCabe for lying to internal investigators.

When Sessions announced McCabe’s firing a month before the report came out, he said he based his decision on reports from the DOJ Inspector General and the FBI’s disciplinary office saying that McCabe had made unauthorized releases of information to the media (concerning disclosure of information to a Wall Street Journal reporter about an ongoing investigation into the Clinton Foundation), and had “lacked candor” in talking about it (“had “lacked candor” in talking” means “lied”)

For a reason I don’t really understand -is it really just because he has a book coming out?- McCabe did an interview with 60 minutes that aired Sunday, but from which details leaked earlier in the week. In it McCabe suggests he was fired because he opened two investigations into US President Donald Trump 10 months before Sessions ousted him.

That seems peculiar for two reasons: one, why would he have been permitted to investigate Trump for 10 months, if the investigations were the reason to fire him? And two, is McCabe suggesting that at least some colleagues inside the FBI itself did not accuse him of lying? I haven’t seen that denied before. It would mean both the DOJ Inspector General and the FBI’s disciplinary office were dead wrong.

In the 60 Minutes piece, McCabe appears to throw Rod Rosenstein, US Deputy Attorney General since April 26, 2017, under the bus by claiming that -among other things- Rosenstein offered to wear a wire when meeting with Trump, something Rosenstein has always claimed he had said in jest. McCabe now insists he was serious.

Best friends? Maybe not anymore. Then again, the ‘official’ picture is still that of two of a group of ‘real patriots’ out to save the country. Somehow that makes me think of the Three Musketeers, a dashing and swashbuckling anything goes for the fatherland. McCabe actually appears to think he had to protect America from its newly elected president, and so, ostensibly, does Rosenstein. D’Artagnan had a whole different class of foes, I recall.

Also ostensibly, two Trump cabinet members were “ready to support” a Rosenstein/DOJ scheme to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump, according to testimony last fall to the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees by James Baker, former FBI top lawyer. Who also mentioned for example Lisa Page was involved, love interest of Peter Strzok, both fired FBI officials well-known for their hate of Trump.

There’s a zillion more things to say about this, but it shouldn’t be me saying it, or any other writer or journalist. The reason I write this is to ask a very simple and obvious question: where is the Special Counsel who’s going to investigate this putrid quagmire? And when will (s)he finally be appointed? We know, we know, it’d be investigating the investigators, and who’s left for that job? Or are the investigators by now so corrupted that we might as well surrender?

Sure, Lindsey Graham wants the Senate Intelligence Committee to do an investigation, but is that the appropriate venue? Why a Special Counsel filled to the brim with FBI connected folk for Russiagate and ‘only’ a House Committee for FBI-gate? Or is that perhaps the wrong term? Does it matter?

And yes, a million voices will claim that a call for a Special Counsel investigation into the FBI and DOJ can only come from Trump supporters, but they really haven’t been paying attention.

William Barr is the new Attorney General, right, and Christopher Wray heads the FBI. Both organizations have to be very concerned about their credibility, because from the outside they look like cesspools. Rosenstein and McCabe’s swashbuckling should be enough reason, but we know much more went on and many more people were involved.

So let’s have it...

Published:2/19/2019 5:07:19 PM
[Entertainment] SHOCKING REPORT: Feds investigating whether Jussie Smollett sent threatening letter to … HIMSELF

Now the FBI and the Postal Inspector are involved in the Jussie Smollett investigation.

The post SHOCKING REPORT: Feds investigating whether Jussie Smollett sent threatening letter to … HIMSELF appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/19/2019 3:06:22 PM
[Trending Commentary] Jim Jordan Claims Andrew McCabe Told Him Something Completely Different About Trump And Russia

By Nick Givas -

Jim JOrdan

GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio refuted some of Andrew McCabe’s claims on “Fox & Friends” Tuesday and said he’s someone who cannot be trusted. McCabe claimed during an interview with NBC’s “Today” that he informed Congress of the FBI’s actions with regard to President Donald Trump, but Jordan disagreed. “Well I wasn’t ...

Jim Jordan Claims Andrew McCabe Told Him Something Completely Different About Trump And Russia is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:2/19/2019 12:34:08 PM
[US News] Trump Refutes Ex-Acting FBI Head’s Claim That The President Called His Wife A ‘Loser’

By Evie Fordham -

President Donald Trump refuted ex-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s claim that the president called McCabe’s wife “a loser” on Twitter Tuesday. “I never said anything bad about Andrew McCabe’s wife other than she (they) should not have taken large amounts of campaign money from a Crooked Hillary source when Clinton ...

Trump Refutes Ex-Acting FBI Head’s Claim That The President Called His Wife A ‘Loser’ is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:2/19/2019 12:05:42 PM
[9cb5a384-6d2f-513c-b147-4913d655e558] Dan Bongino: Like Comey and Brennan, McCabe finds impetus of Trump probe 'inarticulable' Did you notice how, during the Andrew McCabe interview with "60 Minutes," the former FBI acting director kept talking about “articulable facts?” Published:2/19/2019 11:35:02 AM
[786dc97d-02d2-537b-a13d-61b3f3811cef] CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin calls Andrew McCabe 'patriotic,' 'not treasonous' for handling of President Trump CNN chief legal analyst Jeffery Toobin defended former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe from the latest round of attacks from President Donald Trump. Published:2/19/2019 10:34:46 AM
[Politics] Most See Crime in Justice, FBI ‘Coup’ Against Trump, Want Special Prosecutor

Most voters say top Justice Department and FBI officials are likely to have acted criminally when they secretly discussed removing President Trump from office and think a special prosecutor is needed to investigate.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of Likely U.S. Voters believe senior federal law enforcement officials are likely to have broken the law in their discussions in May 2017 to oust Trump, with 37% who say it is Very Likely. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 36% consider that unlikely, with 19% who say it’s Not At All Likely that they broke the law. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

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

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on February 17-18, 2019 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:2/19/2019 9:36:11 AM
[Politics] Napolitano: Trump's Fury Should Be Directed at Rosenstein One can't blame President Donald Trump for being furious over former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe's claims, but his anger should be directed even more at deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Judge Andrew Napolitano said Tuesday. Published:2/19/2019 8:08:33 AM
[World] Rep. King: 'Absolutely Disgraceful' That Rosenstein Wanted to Wear Wire to Record Trump

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said Monday that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe should have sought the removal of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who proposed wearing a wire to record President Trump.

Published:2/18/2019 9:31:26 AM
[Politics] Trump dumps on McCabe and his lies after 60 minutes interview; Lindsey Graham vows investigation into COUP This morning Trump took to Twitter to respond to McCabe’s 60 minutes interview: Wow, so many lies by now disgraced acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He was fired for lying, and now . . . Published:2/18/2019 9:02:55 AM
[Politics] Trump dumps on McCabe and his lies after 60 minutes interview; Lindsey Graham vows investigation into COUP This morning Trump took to Twitter to respond to McCabe’s 60 minutes interview: Wow, so many lies by now disgraced acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He was fired for lying, and now . . . Published:2/18/2019 9:02:55 AM
[World] Mark Penn: Andrew McCabe, Rod Rosenstein Initiated Trump Probe After Being Triggered By James Comey Firing

Former Clinton adviser Mark Penn said Monday that former FBI Director James Comey's firing "triggered" Andrew McCabe, prompting the agency's former deputy director help launch an "out of touch" probe into President Trump.

Published:2/18/2019 8:37:08 AM
[Markets] Trump Slams McCabe & Rosenstein Over "Treasonous", "Very Illegal" Plan To Secretly Record President

During an interview that aired in full on CBS last night, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe - who was famously fired just hours before qualifying for his pension due to what the DOJ inspector general described as "unauthorized leaks to the press" - McCabe insisted that Rod Rosenstein was "absolutely serious" when he asked senior Trump administration officials to clandestinely record their conversations with the president in preparation for removing him under the 25th amendment - a plan that has been derided as an attempted coup by family members and allies of the president.

McCabe

Clearly displeased with McCabe's revelations, Trump lashed out at again on Twitter, accusing him of telling a "deranged" story and plotting "a very illegal act".

Trump added that McCabe has "a lot of explaining to do to the millions of people who had just elected a president who they really like". He added that this was "the illegal and treasonous" insurance policy "in action."

Readers can watch the full interview here.

Published:2/18/2019 7:29:15 AM
[Markets] Do You Believe In The Deep State Now?

Authored by Robert Merry via The American Conservative blog,

The revelation that top Justice officials considered unseating Trump should answer that question for good...

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

That’s a natural reaction to the revelation of Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy FBI director, that top Justice Department officials, alarmed by Donald Trump’s firing of former Bureau director James Comey, explored a plan to invoke the 25th Amendment and kick the duly elected president out of office.

According to New York Times reporters Adam Goldman and Matthew Haag, McCabe made the statement in an NBC 60 Minutes interview to be aired on Sunday. He also reportedly said that McCabe wanted the so-called Russia collusion investigation to go after Trump for obstructing justice in firing Comey and for any instances they could turn up of his working in behalf of Russia.  

The idea of invoking the 25th Amendment was discussed, it seems, at two meetings on May 16, 2017. According to McCabe, top law enforcement officials pondered how they might recruit Vice President Pence and a majority of cabinet members to declare in writing, to the Senate’s president pro tempore and the House speaker, that the president was “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” That would be enough, under the 25th Amendment, to install the vice president as acting president, pushing aside Trump.

But to understand what kind of constitutional crisis this would unleash and the precedent it would set, it’s necessary to ponder the rest of this section of the 25th Amendment. The text prescribes that, if the president, after being removed, transmits to the same congressional figures that he is indeed capable of discharging his duties, he shall once again be president after four days. But if the vice president and the cabinet majority reiterate their declaration within those four days that the guy can’t govern, Congress is charged with deciding the issue. It then takes a two-thirds vote of both houses to keep the president removed, which would have to be done within 21 days, during which time the elected president would be sidelined and the vice president would govern. If Congress can’t muster the two-thirds majority within the prescribed time period, the president “shall resume the powers and duties of his office.”

It’s almost impossible to contemplate the political conflagration that would ensue under this plan. Citizens would watch those in Washington struggle with the monumental question of the fate of their elected leader under an initiative that had never before been invoked, or even considered, in such circumstances. Debates would flare up over whether this comported with the original intent of the amendment; whether it was crafted to deal with physical or mental “incapacitation,” as opposed to controversial actions or unsubstantiated allegations or even erratic decision making; whether such an action, if established as precedent, would destabilize the American republic for all time; and whether unelected bureaucrats should arrogate to themselves the power to set in motion the downfall of a president, circumventing the impeachment language of the Constitution.

For the past two years, the country has been struggling to understand the two competing narratives of the criminal investigation of the president.

One narrative—let’s call it Narrative A—has it that honorable and dedicated federal law enforcement officials developed concerns over a tainted election in which nefarious Russian agents had sought to tilt the balloting towards the candidate who wanted to improve U.S.-Russian relations and who seemed generally unseemly. Thus did the notion emerge, quite understandably, that Trump had “colluded” with Russian officials to cadge a victory that otherwise would have gone to his opponent. This narrative is supported and protected by Democratic figures and organizations, by adherents of the “Russia as Threat” preoccupation, and by anti-Trumpers everywhere, particularly news outlets such as CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times

The other view—Narrative B—posits that certain bureaucratic mandarins of the national security state and the outgoing Obama administration resolved early on to thwart Trump’s candidacy. After his election, they determined to undermine his political standing, and particularly his proposed policy toward Russia, through a relentless and expansive investigation characterized by initial misrepresentations, selective media leaks, brutal law enforcement tactics, and a barrage of innuendo. This is the narrative of most Trump supporters, conservative commentators, Fox News, and The Wall Street Journal editorial page, notably columnist Kimberley Strassel.  

The McCabe revelation won’t affect the battle of the two narratives. As ominous and outrageous as this “deep state” behavior may seem to those who embrace Narrative B, it will be seen by Narrative A adherents as evidence that those law enforcement officials were out there heroically on the front lines protecting the republic from Donald J. Trump.

And those Narrative A folks won’t have any difficulty tossing aside the fact that McCabe was fired as deputy FBI director for violating agency policy in leaking unauthorized information to the news media. He then allegedly violated the law in lying about it to federal investigators on four occasions, including three times while under oath.

Indeed, Narrative A people have no difficulty at all brushing aside serious questions posed by Narrative B people. McCabe is a likely liar and perjurer? Doesn’t matter. Peter Strzok, head of the FBI’s counterespionage section, demonstrated his anti-Trump animus in tweets and emails to Justice official Lisa Page? Irrelevant. Christopher Steele’s dossier of dirt on Trump, including an allegation that the Russians were seeking to blackmail and bribe him, was compiled by a man who had demonstrated to a Justice Department official that he was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and…passionate about him not being president”? Not important. The dossier was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party? Immaterial. Nothing in the dossier was ever substantiated? So what?

Now we have a report from a participant of those meetings that top officials of the country’s premier law enforcement entity sat around and pondered how to bring down a sitting president they didn’t like. The Times even says that McCabe “confirmed” an earlier report that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein suggested wearing a wire in meetings with Trump to incriminate him and make him more vulnerable to the plot.

There is no suggestion in McCabe’s interview pronouncements or in the words of Scott Pelley, who conducted the interview and spoke to CBS This Morning about it, that these federal officials ever took action to further the aim of unseating the president. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that they approached cabinet members or the vice president about it. “They…were speculating, ‘This person would be with us, this person would not be,’ and they were counting noses in that effort,” said Pelley. He added, apparently in response to Rosenstein’s insistence that his comments about wearing a wire were meant as a joke, “This was not perceived to be a joke.”

What are we to make of this? Around the time of the meetings to discuss the 25th Amendment plot, senior FBI officials also discussed initiating a national security investigation of the president as a stooge of the Russians or perhaps even a Russian agent. These talks were revealed by The New York Times and CNN in January, based on closed-door congressional testimony by former FBI general counsel James Baker. You don’t have to read very carefully to see that the reporters on these stories brought to them a Narrative A sensibility. The Times headline: “F.B.I. Opened Inquiry into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia.” CNN’s: “Transcripts detail how FBI debated whether Trump was ‘following directions’ of Russia.” And of course, whoever leaked those hearing transcripts almost surely did so to bolster the Narrative A version of events.

The independent journalist Gareth Porter, writing at Consortium News, offers a penetrating exposition of the inconsistencies, fallacies, and fatuities of the Narrative A matrix, as reflected in how the Times and CNN handled the stories that resulted from what were clearly self-interested leaks.

Porter notes that a particularly sinister expression in May 2017 by former CIA director John O. Brennan, a leading Trump antagonist, has precipitated echoes in the news media ever since, particularly in the Times. Asked in a committee hearing if he had intelligence indicating that anyone in the Trump campaign was “colluding with Moscow,” Brennan dodged the question. He said his experience had taught him that “the Russians try to suborn individuals, and they try to get them to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly.”

Of course you can’t collude with anybody unwittingly. But Brennan’s fancy expression has the effect of expanding what can be thrown at political adversaries, to include not just conscious and nefarious collaboration but also policy advocacy that could be viewed as wrongheaded or injurious to U.S. interests. As Porter puts it, “The real purpose…is to confer on national security officials and their media allies the power to cast suspicion on individuals on the basis of undesirable policy views of Russia rather than on any evidence of actual collaboration with the Russian government.”

That seems to be what’s going on here. There’s no doubt that McCabe and Rosenstein and Strzok and Brennan and Page and many others despised Trump and his resolve to thaw relations with Russia. They viewed him as a president “who needed to be reined in,” as a CNN report described the sentiment among top FBI officials after the Comey firing.

So they expanded the definition of collusion to include “unwitting” collaboration in order to justify their machinations. It’s difficult to believe that people in such positions would take such a cavalier attitude toward the kind of damage they could wreak on the body politic.

Now we learn that they actually sat around and plotted how to distort the Constitution, just as they distorted the rules of official behavior designed to hold them in check, in order to destroy a presidential administration placed in power by the American people. It’s getting more and more difficult to dismiss Narrative B.

Published:2/18/2019 5:29:25 AM
[Politics] McCabe: 'Crime May Have Been Committed' When Trump Fired Comey Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said in an interview that aired Sunday that a "crime may have been committed" when President Donald Trump fired the head of the FBI and tried to publicly undermine an investigation into his campaign's ties to Russia.McCabe also said... Published:2/17/2019 8:59:48 PM
[Politics] McCabe: Rosenstein 'Absolutely' Backed Trump Probes Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe says Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was "absolutely" supportive of the decision to launch investigations into whether President Donald Trump was inappropriately aligned with the Russians or whether he had obstructed... Published:2/17/2019 8:00:48 PM
[In The News] Rod Rosenstein Was ‘Absolutely Serious’ About Wearing A Wire In Trump Meeting

By Chuck Ross -

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe claimed in an interview that aired Sunday that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was “absolutely serious” about wearing a wire during White House meetings with President Donald Trump. “The deputy attorney general offered to wear a wire into the White House,” McCabe said in ...

Rod Rosenstein Was ‘Absolutely Serious’ About Wearing A Wire In Trump Meeting is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:2/17/2019 8:00:47 PM
[Markets] Weiner Goes Free: Stiff Sentence Turns Soft As Ex-Congressman Gets Early Release

After he helped change the course of US history by prompting the FBI to reopen its investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email server during the final days of the 2016 campaign, former New York Congressman and ex-husband of Hillary aide Huma Abedin has been released from federal prison a few months ahead of schedule thanks to his 'good behavior' on the inside, according to a TMZ report.

To be sure, Weiner must spend a few more months under federal supervision before he's completely in the clear. Under the terms of his release, Weiner must now spend a few additional months in federal custody, either in a half way house or other supervised pre-release program, before he can lawfully reenter society. Weiner served his time at the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Mass., where he received treatment for his "condition" of being a sex offender.

Weiner

Weiner resigned from Congress after his first sex offender scandal in 2011, then his comeback campaign for New York City mayor floundered in 2013 when he was...um...exposed for sexting porn star Sydney Leathers using the now infamous alias "Carlos Danger".

The third incident, which earned him a conviction on federal sex offender charges of improper sexual contact with a minor, finally destroyed his marriage to Abedin.

Weiner began serving what was supposed to be a 21-month prison sentence in November 2017 after pleading guilty to sexting with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl. He was scheduled to be released in August, 2019, but managed to slash 3 months off his sentence for good behavior, moving his departure date from federal custody to May 14.

TMZ reported that he will leave federal custody entirely on that date.

Published:2/17/2019 12:27:57 PM
[Markets] Two Trump Cabinet Officials Were "Ready To Support" 25th Amendment 'Coup' As Rosenstein Tallied Votes

Two Trump Cabinet officials were "ready to support" a DOJ scheme to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump, according to Fox News, citing closed-door testimony from the FBI's former top lawyer, James Baker - who said that the claim came from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. 

The testimony was delivered last fall to the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees. Fox News has confirmed portions of the transcript. It provides additional insight into discussions that have returned to the spotlight in Washington as fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe revisits the matter during interviews promoting his forthcoming book. -Fox News

While Baker did not identify the two Cabinet officials, he says that McCabe and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page approached him to relay their conversations with Rosenstein, including their discussions of the 25th Amendment scheme. 

"I was being told by some combination of Andy McCabe and Lisa Page, that, in a conversation with the Deputy Attorney General, he had stated that he -- this was what was related to me -- that he had at least two members of the president’s Cabinet who were ready to support, I guess you would call it, an action under the 25th Amendment," Baker told the Congressional committees. 

The 25th Amendment allows for the removal of a sitting president from office through various mechanisms - including the majority of a president's Cabinet agreeing that the commander-in-chief is incapable of performing his duties. 

Rosenstein - who is slated to leave the Justice Department in the near future, has denied the claims. 

Former FBI General Counsel James A. Baker

Baker said McCabe was cool, calm and collected throughout the discussions, telling lawmakers: "At this point in time, Andy was unbelievably focused and unbelievably confident and squared away.  I don’t know how to describe it other than I was extremely proud to be around him at that point in time because I thought he was doing an excellent job at maintaining focus and dealing with a very uncertain and difficult situation.  So I think he was in a good state of mind at this point in time." 

McCabe, meanwhile told "60 Minutes" in an interview set to air Sunday night that Rosenstein was concerned about Trump's "capacity." 

According to McCabe, Rosenstein "raised the issue and discussed it with me in the context of thinking about how many other cabinet officials might support such an effort," adding that Rosenstein was "definitely very concerned about the president, about his capacity and about his intent at that point in time."

"Rosenstein was actually openly talking about whether there was a majority of the cabinet who would vote to remove the president?" asks CBS News anchor Scott Pelly, to which McCabe replied: "That’s correct. Counting votes or possible votes."

The New York Times first reported last year that McCabe alleged in memos that Rosenstein had talked about using the 25th Amendment to oust Trump — or wearing a wire to surreptitiously monitor the president — in the hectic days in May 2017 after Trump fired James B. Comey as FBI director. At the time, Rosenstein disputed the reporting. -WaPo

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called the 25th Amendment scheme a "bureaucratic coup" led by enemies of President Trump. On Sunday morning, Graham said he would subpoena McCabe and Rosenstein "if that's what it takes" to get to the bottom of the 25th Amendment claim. 

On Thursday, the DOJ issued a statement claiming that Rosenstein rejects McCabe's version of events "as inaccurate and factually incorrect," and also denied that Rosenstein ever approved wearing a "wire" to record Trump. 

"The deputy attorney general never authorized any recording that Mr. McCabe references," reads the DOJ statement. "As the deputy attorney general previously has stated, based on his personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment, nor was the DAG in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment."

McCabe, meanwhile, walked back some of his "60 Minutes" statements. On Friday a spokeswoman for the former Deputy Director said: "Certain statements made by Mr. McCabe, in interviews associated with the release of his book, have been taken out of context and misrepresented," adding "To clarify, at no time did Mr. McCabe participate in any extended discussions about the use of the 25th Amendment, nor is he aware of any such discussions."

Baker acknowledged during his testimony that he was not directly involved in the May 2017 discussions, rather, McCabe and Page approached him contemporaneously following a meeting with Rosenstein in the days following former FBI Director James Comey's firing. 

"I had the impression that the deputy attorney general had already discussed this with two members in the president’s Cabinet and that they were…onboard with this concept already," said Baker. 

Question: “Do you know what direction that went? Was it Mr. Rosenstein seeking out members of the Cabinet looking to pursue this 25th Amendment approach or was it the other way around?”

Baker: “What I recall being said was that the Deputy Attorney General had two members of the Cabinet.  So he – how they came to be had, I don’t know, but…”

Question: “So he had two members, almost like he was taking the initiative and getting the members?”

Baker: “That would be speculation on my part.” -Via Fox News

Baker also suggested that "Lisa and Andy" did not know the names of the Cabinet officials who were on board with the 25th Amendment scheme.  

Baker testified in October that the alleged discussions took place during an uncertain and anxious time at the FBI and DOJ after Comey’s termination, and that the mood was “pretty dark":

Question: “Did people tell you that the DAG (Deputy Attorney General) was upset?”

Baker: “Yes.”

Question: “Did they tell you that he was making jokes?”

Baker: “No.”

Question: “Did they tell you that...”

Baker: “This was not a joking sort of time. This was pretty dark.” -Via Fox News

Pretty dark indeed. 

Published:2/17/2019 11:23:53 AM
[In The News] McCabe Spokesperson says Trump-ousting comment ‘Taken Out-of-Context’

By R. Mitchell -

A spokeswoman for disgraced former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe says that McCabe’s comments about removing Trump from office were mischaracterized. “At no time did Mr. McCabe participate in any extended discussions about the use of the 25th Amendment, nor is he aware of any such discussions,” McCabe Spokeswoman Melissa ...

McCabe Spokesperson says Trump-ousting comment ‘Taken Out-of-Context’ is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:2/16/2019 2:18:39 PM
[World] Lara Trump Rips Andrew McCabe for Ordering Obstruction of Justice Probe Against Donald Trump

Trump 2020 campaign adviser Lara Trump slammed Andrew McCabe Saturday after the former FBI deputy director confirmed in a recent interview that he ordered an obstruction of justice probe against the president.

Published:2/16/2019 10:48:14 AM
[2016 Election] Coup’s next (Scott Johnson) Mark Penn puts the greatest scandal of Obama administration officials — the greatest political scandal in our history — this way: The most egregious anti-democratic actions ever taken by the what can now fairly be called the Deep State are confirmed with the publication of fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s new book detailing how the FBI and Justice Department plotted to remove President Trump from office for firing FBI Published:2/16/2019 10:17:48 AM
[Markets] Asymmetrical Warfare And 4GW: How Militia Groups Are America's Domestic Viet Cong

via Ammo.com,

It is interesting to hear certain kinds of people insist that the citizen cannot fight the government. This would have been news to the men of Lexington and Concord, as well as the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan. The citizen most certainly can fight the government, and usually wins when he tries. Organized national armies are useful primarily for fighting against other organized national armies. When they try to fight against the people, they find themselves at a very serious disadvantage. If you will just look around at the state of the world today, you will see that the guerillero has the upper hand. Irregulars usually defeat regulars, providing they have the will. Such fighting is horrible to contemplate, but will continue to dominate brute strength.”

- Col. Jeff Cooper

When one discusses the real reason for the Second Amendment – the right of citizens to defend themselves against a potentially tyrannical government – inevitably someone points out the stark difference in firepower between a guerilla uprising in the United States and the United States government itself.

This is not a trivial observation. The U.S. government spends more on the military than the governments of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, United Kingdom, and Japan combined. Plus, the potential of a tyrannical government is arguably upon us – with the federal government spying on its own citizensmilitarizing local police departments with equipment and tactics from the War on Terror, and repeatedly searching Americans, which desensitizes them to this invasive process.

There is much historical precedent, however, for guerilla uprisings defeating more powerful enemies. For instance, the Cold War saw both superpowers brought to their knees by rural farmers – for the Soviets, their adventure in Afghanistan against the Mujahideen, and for the United States, the Vietnam War against the Viet Cong.

In both cases, nuclear weapons could have been used against the guerilla uprising, but were not. Even assuming the use of nuclear weapons from the position of total desperation, it’s hard to imagine they would have made much of a difference in the final outcome of either conflict. Unlike the invading armies, the local resistance enjoyed both broad-based support as well as knowledge of the local terrain.

Now imagine such a scenario in the United States. You wouldn’t be the first person to do so. From Red Dawn to James Wesley, Rawles’ Patriots series, there is a relatively long-standing tradition of American survival literature about the hoi polloi resisting the tyranny of big government, either before or after a collapse.

For the purposes of this article, consider what a domestic American terrorist or freedom fighter (after all, the label is in the eye of the beholder) organization based on the militia movementwould look like in open revolt against the United States government. In the spirit of levity, we’ll call them the “Hillbilly Viet Cong.” They would most likely find their largest numbers in Appalachia, but don’t discount their power in the American Redoubt, or the more sparsely populated areas of the American Southwest, including rural Texas.

Here we have tens of thousands of Americans armed to the teeth with combat experience, deep family ties to both the police and the military, extensive knowledge of the local geography, and, in many cases, survivalist training. Even where they are not trained, militant and active, they enjoy broad support among those who own a lot of guns and grow a lot of food.

On the other side, you have the unwieldy Baby Huey of the rump U.S. government’s military, with some snarky BuzzFeed editorials serving as propaganda.

Could the Hillbilly Viet Cong take down the USG? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s difficult to imagine that the USG could take them down.

Indeed, even with a number of nasty little toys on the side of the federal government, we live in an age of a technologically levelled playing field. This is true even when it comes to instruments of warfare. While the USG has nuclear weapons, it’s worth remembering that a pound of C4 strapped to a cheap and readily available commercial-grade drone is going to break a lot of dishes.

This sort of guerilla insurgency has a name: It’s called fourth-generational warfare (4GW), and you might be surprised to learn that you already live in this world.

What Are the First Three Generations of Warfare?

To understand how 4GW is a new and improved form of war, we first need to explain what the first three generations of warfare were:

First-Generation Warfare

The first generation (1GW) is basically what you would have seen in the movie 300. The hallmarks of this generation of warfare are armies from two different state actors leveraging line-and-column tactics and wearing uniforms to distinguish between themselves.

This generation is not entirely without subterfuge. For example, counterfeit currency was used to devalue the money supply during the 1GW Napoleonic Wars. Other examples of 1GW conflicts include the English Civil War and the American Revolutionary War.

Second-Generation Warfare

The second generation (2GW) comes with the advent of rifling and breech-loaded weapons. As students of military history know, the invention of rifling was one of the reasons that the United States Civil War was so bloody. This meant that firearms that were once mostly for show after 100 feet or so, were now deadly weapons – and tactics did not immediately evolve.

But evolve they did. Many things we take for granted as being just part of warfare – such as camouflage, artillery, and reconnaissance – are defining features of 2GW. The American Civil War is probably the first 2GW conflict. Others include the First World War, the Spanish Civil War and, much more recently, the Iran-Iraq War. The United States military coined this phrase in 1989.

Third-Generation Warfare

This phase of warfare, also known a 3GW, is the late modern version of warfare, where speed and stealth play a much bigger role. Weapons and tactics alone are less important. Instead, military units seek to find ways to outmaneuver one another before – or even instead of – meeting on the battlefield.

The era of 3GW was initiated with the Blitzkrieg, which marked the decisive end to cavalry and replaced it with tank and helicopter warfare. Junior officers were given more leeway to give orders. The Second World War was the first 3GW conflict, with the KoreanVietnam and both Iraq Warsbecoming further examples of this style of fighting.

What Is Fourth-Generation Warfare?

The most direct way of discussing 4GW is to say that it describes any war between a state actor and a non-state actor. This is also known as asymmetrical warfare, but it’s not the only difference between 4GW and other, earlier forms of conflict. Asymmetrical warfare does, to be sure, blur the lines between combatants and civilians. This is in part what made the Bush-era “war on terror” so difficult and complicated: The war was against a set of ideas rather than a nation or even an extra-national army.

There are a number of characteristics that flow from the state actor vs. non-state actor aspect of 4GW. The first is the use of terrorism as a regular tactic, almost always on the part of the non-state actor. Particularly for the state actor, non-combatants become tactical problems – you simply can’t just carpet bomb and hope everything works out.

The non-state actors tend to be highly decentralized. One faction can stop fighting as another 10 crop up in its place. Funding and source of manpower and material comes from a wide array of sources spread out over nearly the entire globe. This necessarily makes 4GW long and drawn out over years or perhaps even decades. The psychological warfare, propaganda and lawfare aspects are an integral part of the conflict.

The genesis of 4GW lies in the Cold War and the post-colonial era. Insurgent groups and counter-insurgency groups vied for power, often times with state actors operating behind the scenes and in the background. Sometimes the goal was to establish a new state or reestablish a defunct one. However, many times the only goal was to delegitimize the existing state and create a power vacuum.

Places such as Laos, Myanmar, Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, the Congo, Cuba, East Timor, Korea, Poland, and Afghanistan were all pieces in the global chessboard of the Cold War as various insurgency and counter-insurgency groups backed by the Soviets, the Americans, and/or the Chinese fought one another or fought against occupying forces.

What Is the Difference Between 4GW and Asymmetrical Warfare?

Put simply, all 4GW is asymmetrical, but not all asymmetrical warfare is 4GW. It refers to virtually any asymmetry in combat. This can be as simple as one military having more advanced technology than another – for example, the English longbow at the Battle of Crécy gave the English forces a decisive technological advantage. The Spartan forces were greatly outnumbered by their Persian adversaries and used the landscape to compensate.

In one sense, 4GW can be seen as asymmetric warfare come to full fruition. The less powerful forces must find a way to compensate for their relative lack of strength. On the other hand, the stronger forces must paradoxically find ways to compensate for their abundance of strength. This is because of the all-important propaganda war, an integral part of 4GW. State actors often seek deniability during war by proxy when engaging non-state actors.

John Boyd, Chuck Spinney, and 4GW

Colonel John Boyd may be the most remarkable unsung hero in all of American military history. Widely considered to be the greatest U.S. fighter pilot ever, Boyd developed the F-15 and F-16, revolutionized ground tactics in war, and covertly designed the coalition battle plans for the 1990-91 Gulf War. He foresaw 4GW, and he shunned wealth, fame, and power in his pursuit to get things done, despite the bureaucracy of the Pentagon.

Boyd closely studied Sun-Tzu (The Art of War) and Carl von Clausewitz (On War). This informed his push for greater adaptability and agility of United States fighting forces. Simple, cheap, effective, dependable, durable weapons were prized over flashy tricks. Decentralized command, control and communications were Boyd’s cause – looking for a way to avoid burying boots on the ground underneath layers of officers with potentially less field knowledge than they had.

Franklin C. "Chuck" Spinney became the voice of 4GW preparation after Boyd’s passing inside the Pentagon. He spent more than 20 years campaigning against rigid forms of thinking and budget bloat. Spinney believes that the 9/11 attacks should have been a wake-up call for the United States military, and sees 4GW as something beyond mere terrorism, but rather a new form of warfare. He believes the United States military is stuck in second-generation warfare thinking and is woefully unequipped for 4GW. Ultimately, Spinney believes that the United States military’s response to 9/11 in particular and 4GW in general was not enough.

Where Is 4GW Happening Today?

While many think 4GW is something in the far-off future, it’s actually happening right now. The most archetypal 4GW is perhaps the conflict with ISIS – a non-state actor with recruits all over the world in conflict with several states. Some of the conflict is classically military, but there is also the propaganda war taking place all over the Internet. In fact, ISIS was using the PlayStation network to communicate because they correctly believed it wasn’t being monitored by international intelligence services. These attacks on the West were not limited to the area controlled by ISIS, but extended all around the world.

Counter-attacking ISIS was a bit like trying to catch water in a net. Attacking ISIS proper was possible: There was territory. But attacking the support of ISIS was a whole other problem.

It’s worth noting that the international Islamist movement is not limited to ISIS. Al-Qaeda and its offshoots still exist. What’s more, they seem to multiply over time. This is another feature of 4GW. A state actor can make peace with one faction of a group while other, more militant factions simply retreat deeper into the metaphorical mountains to continue the fight – which is precisely the situation that the Republic of the Philippines has faced in its struggle against the Moros separatists of the Southern Philippines.

But the Philippines and Syria are all likely far away from where you live in terms of geography, sociology, demographics and culture. What does 4GW have to do with London, Paris or even Springfield, MO? Probably a lot more than you think.

Is 4GW Coming to the Developed World?

Is fourth-generational warfare coming to the developed world? Quite possibly, especially when you consider the spectre of failed states in the West.

Many Western states are not quite as stable as they are made out to be. Sweden and France in particular have extensive problems with No Go Zones. Other parts of Europe want to secede, such as Catalonia in Spain, and are being violently suppressed from doing so.  

Elsewhere around the world, previously first-world countries like South Africa are deteriorating in the span of a generation due to government mismanagement. The United States, for its part, is in what some have described as a “Cold Civil War,” with many futurists agreeing that the potential for outward civil war is greater than you’d like to think.

How might such a 4GW scenario play out in the West? There are two potential scenarios, one for Europe and one for the United States. Each of these is worth considering.

4GW: The European Model

For our purposes, we’re going to call this the “European Model” of 4GW. This is because this model is based on the political and social realities of life in Europe today. It is by no means the only place something like this could unfold, nor is it impossible that 4GW could unfold in an entirely different way in Europe.

4GW in Europe will likely be an outgrowth of No Go Zones and resulting failed states. Geographic areas within European nations will likely increase in size. And conflict will likely develop between the de facto areas of the No Go Zones, as well as more militant elements of the civilian population. While there is not much of a militia movement to speak of in Europe, in true 4GW fashion, people will find ways to improvise weapons out of what they have available to them.

It’s impossible to talk about this phenomenon in Europe without discussing the ethnic and religious character of the areas, as ethnic and ethno-religious conflict will likely be the infrastructure for such a war – especially since many of these areas have legal and social structures based on Islamic laws and customs.

In a scenario leading to a 4GW conflict in mainland Europe, attacks on civilians will escalate while the legitimate civilian authority is increasingly incapable of dealing with it. There will be both an inability and an unwillingness to maintain legal norms within larger and larger areas in Europe.

Next would come the formation of militias. The model here is close to what happened in Lebanon during its civil war. Militias will form around political, ethnic and religious lines. Some of these will be the No Go Zones attempting to consolidate their power. Others will be European civilians seeking to protect themselves and their neighborhoods from the growing power of the No Go Zones. This, in turn, will further fuel the breakdown in government control. Members of the government, both law enforcement and military, will increasingly pick sides in the conflict, leaving their allegiance to the rump state behind. In the end, this will make it more difficult for the state to assert its power.

The remaining government will begin taking measures against free speech and free association in an attempt to crack down and regain lost power. But at this point, the battle will mostly already be lost. Factions of the government will cease cooperating with one another, making it harder and harder to maintain order. These factions will, to varying degrees, start lining up behind the militias and parallel legal structures that have begun cropping up at the street level. This will also be the time foreign governments will step in and begin supporting local militias more. An example of this is Serbian-backed militias in Croatia and Bosnia during the Yugoslav Wars, or Israeli support of Maronite Christians and Iranian support of Shiite Muslims during the Lebanese Civil War.

Crime will increase, but not just petty street crime. Insurgent movements have a long history of using organized crime to fund their operations and the 4GW conflicts in Europe would be no exception to this. The drug trade, human trafficking and financially driven kidnapping are three examples of how militias will fund themselves using extra-legal means. This will serve as an additional cause to restrict freedom of movement through both de jure and de facto means within a nation’s borders, another case where the Yugoslav Wars and Lebanese Civil War are instructive cases. Conversely, refugee scenarios will develop, which will further complicate the situation.

4GW: The American Model

The American 4GW Model is somewhat different and is based more on ideological and political differences than ethnic and cultural ones – though the ethnic and cultural differences will play a role, as we will soon see.

In the United States, the federal system of government can play a key role. For example, while the prospect of a gun ban causing the peasants to pick up their pitchforks and torches is unlikely, a scenario where states simply refuse to enforce the law is far closer to the realm of possibility. Consider that this is already starting under the Trump Administration – cities and states are refusing to comply with the President’s directives on federal immigration law. Flipping the script, it’s worth wondering just how much state and federal compliance a federal ban on AR-15s, a high tax on ammunition, or a call for widespread registration would generate.

This could happen one of two ways: Leftist states like California and Massachusetts balk at a new federal law, or more conservative and libertarian states like Arizona and New Hampshire refuse compliance. It’s worth noting that states themselves are not monoliths. California is largely still a conservative state outside of Los Angeles and the Bay Area, while several municipalities in deep blue Massachusetts went for Trump. On the other hand, Arizona has blue enclaves like Flagstaff and New Hampshire’s cities vote almost identically to Boston.

The red state / blue state divide is very real, but it also exists within states as well as between them. In the event that a cleavage between the two political and cultural halves of America started, this divide would become increasingly unstable within the states themselves.

Unlike Europe, the United States has a homegrown militia movement that is heavily armed and, to varying degrees, ready for battle. When the AR-15 is talked about as a “weapon of war on our streets,” it is frequently mentioned in the same breath how an insurrection in the United States would never stand a chance against the modern weapons of war wielded by the federal government. This would be news to the Viet Cong. People who make such statements are unaware of the dynamics of 4GW.

While the political aspects are very real, so are the demographic ones. In particular, there is the spectre of the Scotch-Irish in Appalachia. These are a people with hundreds of years of long skepticism (and often outright hostility) toward the federal government. It’s also, geographically speaking, a very difficult place to conquer. Eric Rudolph evaded the feds for five years in the mountains of North Carolina, despite being on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List.

This segment of American society has a significant connection to both the police force and the military. Simple suggestions that local police, SWAT teams or even the military will be quick to crush such a rebellion are ill-informed on two counts. First, the aforementioned one: In many cases, the military and police who are being sent out are going to be friends, family and intimates of the Hillbilly Viet Cong. What’s more, due to the extensive military experience in this area, many of the foot soldiers of an anti-government rebellion centered in Appalachia would not only just be trained, but also battle-tested. Divided loyalties always play a role in 4GW, and the United States will be no exception.

The weapons of war are leveled in 4GW. There is air war by drones, but also the role of computer hacking, kidnapping and other unsavory activities. The point of 4GW, from the perspective of the underdog, is less about “winning” in some quick and dramatic fashion, and more about dragging out the conflict as long as possible, causing the dominant power to lose through blood loss and death by 1,000 cuts.

Consider the Vietnam Conflict: Between the end of the French occupation of Vietnam in 1954, through the Fall of Saigon when U.S. forces abandoned the city to the Viet Cong, the American Vietnam War lasted approximately 20 years. And that doesn’t count the seven bloody years of French occupation post-WW2, when French colonial forces lost approximately 100,000 troops attempting to put down the guerilla movement in Indochina.

Finally, there’s the U.S. government’s track record in 4GW. The United States does not have a solid track record of being able to defeat guerilla insurgencies. From the Filipino Insurrection in the late 19th century to the current Afghan insurgency – the United States military can make inroads against 4GW actors, but it’s never really able to seal the deal.

4GW in America: The Battle of Athens

There is a history of 4GW in the United States and we don’t need to go very far back to find it. In 1946, there was an uprising of the citizens of Athens, TN (in McMinn County) to reestablish the rule of law. The story illustrates how American patriots resisting domestic tyranny can succeed in their struggles.

Citizens of Athens had complained about election fraud since 1940. The town was filled with battle-hardened veterans from both the European and Pacific theaters of World War II. This filled them with a militancy that did not exist before the war. Several citizens of Athens had complained, but the administration of Franklin Roosevelt did nothing, perhaps because the town was ruled over by an entrenched Democratic Party machine.

First, the men ran one of their own, a GI named Knox Henry, for sheriff. They wanted fair elections, so they petitioned the FBI to monitor, a request which was denied. The machine, for their part, imported 200 strong arms to “protect” the polling places from voters. In one case, a deputy pointed his revolver at a GI, ejecting him from the polling station and telling him “If you sons of bitches cross this street I’ll kill you!” Poll watchers were arrested and in one case, a black poll watcher was shot. Finally, the party machine locked the ballot boxes up in the county jail.

Despite lacking in numbers, ammunition and arms, the veterans used the key to the local armories belonging to the State and National Guard. This evened the score considerably. They went to the jail house and requested the release of the ballot boxes, but were rebuffed with the sheriff’s men shooting two of the GIs. A firefight erupted and the GIs were reinforced by men from neighboring Meigs County and their IEDs. Eventually, the sheriff and his men surrendered, releasing the ballots.

After obtaining the ballots, the men cleaned and returned the weapons. The GI candidate was elected sheriff and several others were elected to key county positions.

This demonstrates 4GW in miniature in the United States. For those concerned about nuclear retaliation or other heavy guns the USG has, it’s worth noting that the underdog can always obtain some of these weapons by hook or by crook.

The Militia Movement and 4GW

No discussion of 4GW in the United States would be complete without touching on the militia movement, something specific to the U.S. While Europe has a history of factions in the military who oppose the government (the French Secret Army Organization is the most famous of these), it does not, to nearly the same extent as the United States, have men actively training in the woods getting ready for civilizational collapse or 4GW.

The militia movement began in the early 1980s, when it was known as the Posse Comitatus movement. It exploded (no pun intended) after the attack on the Oklahoma City Federal Building and the showdown at Ruby Ridge. By the mid-1990s, the militia movement had a presence in all 50 states and was comprised of approximately 60,000 people.

Note that the militia movement is no longer limited to the political right. Left-wing organizations have begun openly training with arms since the election of Donald Trump as President in 2016. In any kind of 4GW scenario in the United States, it’s likely that these two strains of the militia movement would come into conflict with each other, as well as the United States government. And don’t forget about the narcissism of small differences that tends to plague fringe political movements – the most bitter enemies in a 4GW conflict in the United States will likely be competing factions of left- and right-wing political movements.

Skills Required for 4GW

Combat isn’t the only helpful skill for 4GW. If you’re concerned with 4GW and want to get ready for everything to go down, here’s a list of skills for you to acquire in preparation for 4GW.

  • Weapons Versatility: Let’s just get this out of the way. Combat training with a variety of weapons is important for 4GW. This is because in 4GW, combatants often have to use weapons commandeered from their enemies. What they capture can vary widely from what their unit ordinarily uses.

  • Survivalism: Knowing how to live off the land is an indispensable skill for any SHTF scenario, and 4GW is no exception to this rule. 4GW combatants must know how to hunt, fish, trap, track, stay hidden, find potable water, and prep game.

  • First Aid: Any time there’s combat, there are casualties. 4GW requires the knowledge of first aid at the very least. Knowing other medic skills is a welcome addition to the toolkit as well.

  • Physical Fitness: Those involved in 4GW combat will have to walk long distances, often with a lot of weight strapped to their back. Being in top physical condition can mean the difference between life and death.

  • Navigation: 4GW combatants need to know the area, but they also need to know how to find their way around unfamiliar terrain. That means without electronic equipment, and instead using items like compasses and maps.

  • Demolition: This might also be filed under weapon versatility. Demolition is a big part of 4GW for depriving the enemy of a base and cutting off lines of communication and transit. 

Many of the above skills are just as helpful when it comes to general survivalism, so you don’t have to be getting ready for 4GW to make them worth acquiring. And as with any kind of SHTF preparation and training, we hope you never have to use what you learn.

Published:2/15/2019 11:14:53 PM
[Congressional Hall Monitor] Here Are The 3 Truths Rep. Meadows Believes You Won’t Find In McCabe’s Book

By Chris White -

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows said Friday that former FBI Director Andrew McCabe would likely fail to mention what the North Carolina lawmaker believes is his inability to be truthful about his time in the Trump administration. McCabe “is a known liar and leaker,” Meadows noted in a tweet before suggesting ...

Here Are The 3 Truths Rep. Meadows Believes You Won’t Find In McCabe’s Book is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:2/15/2019 7:13:21 PM
[In The News] Four Police Officers Injured In Active Shooter Incident In Illinois

By Tim Pearce -

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

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

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

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

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

Via Judicial Watch (emphasis ours): 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks!

Jim

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Worms Turning

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

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

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

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

  • Using FBI counter-intelligence assets improperly and illegally.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Andrew Aleksi-Lankinen -

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

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

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

By Evie Fordham -

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

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

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

"To be great is to be misunderstood."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond the Steele Dossier

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

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

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

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

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

And yet, nobody bats an eye.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interactive map created by David Cansler

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

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

Via OregonLive

Mohammed Zuraibi Al-Zoabi  
Nova Scotia, Canada

Disappeared: December 2018

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

Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah
Multnomah County, Oregon
Disappeared: June 2017


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

Sami Suliman Almezaini
Gallatin County, Montana

Disappeared: July 2017

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

Saud Alabdullatif
Spokane County, Washington
Disappeared: May 2016

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

Suliman Ali Algwaiz
Multnomah County, Oregon

Disappeared: October 2016

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

Faisal Altaleb
Gallatin County, Montana
Disappeared
November 2016

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

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


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

Waleed Ali Alharthi 
Benton County, Oregon
Disappeared: March 2015


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

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


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

Abdullah Almakrami
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Disappeared: April 2014

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

Hani Alshammary
Erie County, Pennsylvania
Disappeared: April 2014


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

Fahad Al Ghuwainem
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 
Disappeared: December 2014


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

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

Unidentified man
Missoula County, Montana
Disappeared: February 2012


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

Ali Hussain Alhamoud
Lincoln County, Oregon
Disappeared: April 2012


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

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


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

Siraj Marakeey
Snohomish County, Washington

Disappeared: July 1991

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

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


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

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

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

***

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

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

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

Authored by Glenn Greenwald via The Intercept,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*  *  *

We depend on the support of readers like you to help keep our nonprofit newsroom strong and independent. Join Us 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We're sure they discussed yoga and weddings. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authored by James Bovard via The Mises Institute,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epstein

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authored by Sara Carter,

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

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

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

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

Showboating Schiff 

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

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

There’s a reason for this approach.

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

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

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

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

Schiff told Tapper:

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

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

The Witnesses 

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about Sergei Millian?

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

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

Read the press release below from the House Intelligence Committee:

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

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

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

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

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

Kind of creepy, but probably legal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Via MassPrivateI.com,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit: Government Accountability Office

What does that mean to the average American?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authored by Andrew McCarthy via National Review,

There was no crime until the investigations started...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s start with the two sources Mueller omits.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Collusion, right under your nose...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Needless to say, the genealogy community has expressed dismay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

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

The American Police State does not discriminate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the Boston Herald reports:

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

Overkill? Sure.

Yet another example of government overreach and brutality? Definitely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are few communities without a SWAT team today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chuck Ross -

Lindsey Graham slams democrats for unethical behavior -4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Apple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The FBI declined to comment on the story.

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

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

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

    By A.F. Branco -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

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

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

    Take a gander at the following tweets for some examples:

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

    ?—?@ClistonBrown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    *  *  *

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

    Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Marilou Danley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    As the Baltimore Post Examiner noted last year: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Huawei

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Here's the full statement, courtesy of Bloomberg:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Richard Pollock -

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

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

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

    Authored by Stephen Cohen via The Nation,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    MIC DROP.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Eyewitness.

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

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

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

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

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

    Others shared her sentiment: 

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

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

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

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

    Funny how that worked out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Market Snapshot

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

    Top Overnight News

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

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

    Top Asian News

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

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

    Top European News

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

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

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

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

    US Event Calendar

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

    DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Authored by David Samuels, Excerpted from Wired.com,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ...

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

    Perhaps we are reading the wrong books.

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

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

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

    ...

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

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

    Read the full, ominous report here...

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

    Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

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

    Uncle Sam wants you.

    Correction: Uncle Sam wants your DNA.

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

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

    As the New York Times reports:

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

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

    Journalist Heather Murphy explains:

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

    Suspect Society, meet the American police state.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Of course, none of these technologies are foolproof.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    As Scalia noted:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Yet as scientist Leslie A. Pray