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[Entertainment] The Obamas' Friendship With the Clooneys Goes Way Back: All the Fundraising, Bonding and Basketball That Led to Lake Como Celebs With Obama, George Clooney, Barack Obama"Clooney is my freebie," Michelle Obama said on Jimmy Kimmel Live last year, echoing the result of many heartfelt conversations that have occurred between spouses all over the world....
Published:6/27/2019 5:59:56 AM
[Politics] Trump Earns Higher Marks, Outscores Obama for Economy, National Security

Voters rank Donald Trump well ahead of Barack Obama in his handling of the economy at this point in their presidencies. Trump’s national security approval is at the high level his predecessor enjoyed just after the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 50% of Likely U.S. Voters now think Trump is doing a good or excellent job handling economic issues. That’s up from 39% in mid-2017 shortly after Trump had taken office and just short of the high of 51% last October. Thirty-three percent (33%) rate his performance as poor. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

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

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 19-20, 2019 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.

Published:6/27/2019 3:28:55 AM
[Markets] Why Indian-Turkish Embrace Of Russia's S-400 Is So Important For Global Affairs

Authored by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

India and Turkey’s recent embrace of Russia’s advanced S-400 defense system represents a major turning point in the international battle now underway between two opposing paradigms of global affairs.

Both nations are standing up to immense pressure by an Anglo American empire which has been working desperately since 2007 to build a vast military infrastructure around Russia under the utopian doctrine of “Full Spectrum Dominance” (aka: the belief that a nuclear war can be won with a first strike monopoly). This missile shield began to target China and Russia’s South Pacific flank in 2011 when Obama unveiled the military branch of the anti-Chinese “Pivot to Asia”.

The S400 Solution to Full Spectrum Dominance

However if nations like India, and Turkey who were meant to be participants of the encirclement of Russia and China were to adopt next generation defensive radar/missile systems like Russia’s S400, then the entire formula for unipolar dominance breaks down. Already, China has adopted the S400 as of 2015 which features short to long range supersonic interception of missiles, aircraft and bombs at altitudes of 38 km and at distances of 400 km. Other nations which have expressed interest in the S400 include Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Vietnam.

The rise of the S400 and the new security architecture which comes with it has come to be known as “Full Spectrum Defense” and is one of the most important transformations of the world order. When considered in tandem with the globally extended Belt and Road Initiative (which is tightly integrated with the Eurasian Economic Union and Shanghai Cooperation Organization), represents the greatest hope for mankind currently available.

Some particularly nutty personalities within NATO and the Military Industrial Complex would sadly rather burn in hell than serve in heaven and still adhere to the outdated script written in the early days of 2007 when the drum beat for war with Iran pounded at a feverish pitch. These figures, represented by the likes of US Defense Secretary Patrick O’Shanahan, Mike Pompeo and John Bolton are convinced that a nuclear war with Russia and China is still somehow winnable… if only “renegade” nations like Turkey and India would get back into line and follow the script!

Up until Russia’s entry into a beleaguered Syria in September 2015, it appeared that these neocon utopians may have had a winning hand. The Anglo-American alliance appeared to many to be the only game in town. With no serious opposition to the military might of NATO combined with the economic might of the City of London-Wall Street banking system, what else could any middle power like Turkey or India do but “go along to get along”?

 Turkey’s 2nd Chance at Life

Turkey was quick to get burned by its decision to reject the Russia/China-led new paradigm when it was first offered an entry position to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in 2011 where it then signed on as a “Dialogue Partner” (one step below observer status). Just as ink was drying on the 2011 Turkey-EEU Memorandum of Understanding, several other nations were preparing to join the Russia-led initiative including Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova, Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan (the latter being now a full member). The onslaught on Libya followed by the attempt to duplicate that disaster in Syria put an end to Turkey’s decision to join the EEU at that time. A Nazi-driven coup launched in November 2013 ended Ukraine’s membership prospects as well.

Turkey was given a simple ultimatum: Go along with the anti-Russia/anti-China war plan for Full Spectrum Dominance as a loyal member of NATO and certain rewards will be guaranteed.

Turkey was to be granted full entry into the “prestigious” alliance of the European Union which its membership in NATO was always premised upon. Some of the grandeur of the Ottoman Empire would be recovered as managerial status would be granted Turkey over vast swaths of the Middle East now liberated from pesky Arab nationalist leaders. Signing over to this policy was supposed to be easy. All Erdogan had to do was provide covert support for the spread of the ISIS in Syria and keep an aggressive posture towards Russia. Anglo-American and Saudi Intelligence would do all of the heavy lifting.

Not so.

With Russia’s intrepid entry into Syria in September 2019, everything changed. Within two months, Turkey was horrified to find itself in the cross hairs of a nuclear war between NATO and Russia after it shot down a Russian fighter jet killing its pilot and lied to the British (who then chaired the UN Security Council) that Russia invaded Turkey’s sovereign airspace. The tension caused by this military confrontation not only brought the world extremely close to a nuclear war, but resulted in a sobering slap of reality for Erdogen who began his long road towards repentance by writing a public letter of apology for Russia on June 27, 2016. This letter was too much for certain war-mongers in the west.

By July 15, 2016 the time had come for Erdogan’s punishment.

Anglo-American networks controlling the Turkish Deep State activated every asset at their disposal within the military and government bureaucracy to overthrow Erdogan and everyone loyal to him. The form of this operation was shaped by the vast networks of CIA-asset Fethullah Gulen, a strange billionaire cult leader of ‘Hizmet’ based out of the USA whose followers and money had penetrated deeply through every branch of Turkey’s public and private sectors. During this coup attempt, Turkish fighter jets fired on their own parliament building, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Hulusi Akar was kidnapped by his own security detail and thousands of military personnel took to the streets leaving 241 dead and 2194 injured. Due to last minute intelligence provided by sources which many believe to be tied to Russia, Erdogan escaped his fate and regained control in time to purge the leading Gulen zombies from government.

Since that time, Turkey has found its original deal with the devil much less attractive than it had been in 2013.

The Collapse of the West and the Rise of a New Paradigm

Abraham Lincoln once said “a house divided cannot long stand” and no political body is more divided these days than the European Union. Every day, EU member states are seen fighting amongst themselves and against the technocratic sociopaths in Brussel’s who can do little more than ragefully sanction “climate and fiscal offenders” for trying to defend their own populations from unemployment, austerity and speculative finance run amok. This breakdown has driven forward thinking EU nations to prepare their escape from the Titanic and by joining the only viable game in town: China and the New Silk Road. Most recently, Italy joined the New Silk Road with an MOU in April 2019 and Greece joined the 17+1 pro-BRI Central and Eastern European nations weeks later. The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which has unified closely with the New Silk Road is currently welcoming new members with open arms with Uzbekistan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Mongolia and even Syria expressing clear intentions to join in the near term future. Both the SCO and EEU which are integral parts of this new paradigm are open for all to join- including Turkey.

With the re-election of Narendra Modi in May 2019 and the positive meetings between Modi, Xi Jinping and Putin during the SCO summit of June 13-14, the tension being artificially created across Asia appears to finally be receding. Pakistan and India (now full members of the SCO) have infinite points of mutual interest to work with the Belt and Road Initiative and with the peaceful integration of North Korea into a cooperative economic plan with China and South Korea, the US-Asia Pivot (which justified itself entirely because North Korea was so dangerous) has collapsed.

The battle between nationalist forces in America vs Deep State/NATO-ideologues is a fight which is hardly won, but which will be shaped in large part by Trump’s bilateral meetings between Modi, Erdogan, Xi and Putin on June 27-28 G20 Summit in Japan (if they are not sabotaged).

Published:6/27/2019 2:58:01 AM
[Markets] How Evil Wins: The Hypocritical Double Standards Of Political Outrage

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“She was asked what she had learned from the Holocaust, and she said that 10 percent of any population is cruel, no matter what, and that 10 percent is merciful, no matter what, and that the remaining 80 percent could be moved in either direction.” - Kurt Vonnegut

Please spare me the media hysterics and the outrage and the hypocritical double standards of those whose moral conscience appears to be largely dictated by their political loyalties.

Anyone who believes that the injustices, cruelties and vicious callousness of the U.S. government are unique to the Trump Administration has not been paying attention.

No matter what the team colors might be at any given moment, the playbook remains the same. The leopard has not changed its spots. Scrape off the surface layers and you will find that the American police state that is continuing to wreak havoc on the rights of the people under the Trump Administration is the same police state that wreaked havoc on the rights of the people under every previous administration.

Brace yourselves.

While we squabble over which side is winning this losing battle, a tsunami approaches.

Case in point: in Charlottesville, Va.—home of Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, champion of the Bill of Rights, and the nation’s third president—city councilors in a quest for so-called “equity” have proposed eliminating Jefferson’s birthday as a city holiday (which has been on the books since 1945) and replacing it with a day that commemorates the liberation of area slaves following the arrival of Union troops under Gen. Philip Sheridan.

In this way, while the populace wages war over past injustices, injustice in the here and now continues to trample innocent lives underfoot. In Charlottesville, as in the rest of the country, little is being done to stem the tide of the institutional racism that has resulted in disproportionate numbers of black Americans being stopped, frisked, shot at, arrested and jailed.

Just recently, in fact, Phoenix police drew their guns, shouted profanities, assaulted and threatened to shoot a black couple whose 4-year-old daughter allegedly stole a doll from a dollar store. The footage of the incident—in which the cops threaten to shoot the pregnant, young mother in the head in the presence of the couple’s 1- and 4-year-old daughters—is horrifying in every way.

Tell me again why it’s more important to spend valuable political capital debating the birthdays of dead presidents rather than proactively working to put a stop to a government mindset that teaches cops it’s okay to treat citizens of any color with brutality and a blatant disregard for their rights?

It doesn’t matter that Phoenix and Charlottesville are 2100 miles apart. The lethal practices of the American police state are the same all over.

No amount of dissembling can shield us from the harsh reality that the danger in our midst is posed by an entrenched government bureaucracy that has no regard for the Constitution, Congress, the courts or the citizenry.

We’ve got to get our priorities straight if we are to ever have any hope of maintaining any sense of freedom in America. As long as we allow ourselves to be distracted, diverted, occasionally outraged, always polarized and content to view each other—rather than the government—as the enemy, we’ll never manage to present a unified front against tyranny (or government corruption and ineptitude) in any form.

Mind you, by “government,” I’m not referring to the highly partisan, two-party bureaucracy of the Republicans and Democrats. Rather, I’m referring to “government” with a capital “G,” the entrenched Deep State that is unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and has set itself beyond the reach of the law.

This is the hidden face of a government that has no respect for the freedoms of its citizenry.

So stop with all of the excuses and the hedging and the finger-pointing and the pissing contests to see which side can out-shout, out-blame and out-spew the other. Enough already with the short- and long-term amnesia that allows political sycophants to conveniently forget the duplicity, complicity and mendacity of their own party while casting blame on everyone else.

This is how evil wins.

This is how freedom falls and tyranny rises.

This is how good, generally decent people—having allowed themselves to be distracted with manufactured crises, polarizing politics, and fighting that divides the populace into warring us vs. them camps—fail to take note of the looming danger that threatens to wipe freedom from the map and place us all in chains.

Anytime you have an entire nation so mesmerized by the antics of the political ruling class that they are oblivious to all else, you’d better beware. Anytime you have a government that operates in the shadows, speaks in a language of force, and rules by fiat, you’d better beware. And anytime you have a government so far removed from its people as to ensure that they are never seen, heard or heeded by those elected to represent them, you’d better beware.

The world has been down this road before.

As historian Milton Mayer recounts in his seminal book on Hitler’s rise to power, They Thought They Were Free:

Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about—we were decent people-—and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the 'national enemies', without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us.

We are no longer living the American Dream. We’re living the American Lie.

Indeed, Americans have been lied to so sincerely, so incessantly, and for so long by politicians of all stripes—who lie compulsively and without any seeming remorse—that they’ve almost come to prefer the lies trotted out by those in government over less-palatable truths.

The American people have become compulsive believers: left-leaning Americans are determined to believe that the world has become a far more dangerous place under Trump, while right-leaning Americans are equally convinced that Trump has set us on a path to prosperity and security.

Nothing has changed.

The police state is still winning. We the people are still losing.

In fact, the American police state has continued to advance at the same costly, intrusive, privacy-sapping, Constitution-defying, heartbreaking, soul-scorching, relentless pace under the current Tyrant-in-Chief as it did under those who occupied the White House before him (Obama, Bush, Clinton, etc.).

Police haven’t stopped disregarding the rights of citizens. Having been given the green light to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip, shoot and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts, America’s law enforcement officials are no longer mere servants of the people entrusted with keeping the peace. Indeed, they continue to keep the masses corralled, under control, and treated like suspects and enemies and slaves rather than citizens.

SWAT teams haven’t stopped crashing through doors and terrorizing families. Nationwide, SWAT teams continue to be employed to address an astonishingly trivial array of criminal activities or mere community nuisances including angry dogs, domestic disputes, improper paperwork filed by an orchid farmer, and misdemeanor marijuana possession. With more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year on unsuspecting Americans for relatively routine police matters and federal agencies laying claim to their own heavily armed law enforcement divisions, the incidence of botched raids and related casualties continue to rise.

The Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security haven’t stopped militarizing and federalizing local police. Police forces continue to be transformed into heavily armed extensions of the military, complete with jackboots, helmets, shields, batons, pepper-spray, stun guns, assault rifles, body armor, miniature tanks and weaponized drones. In training police to look and act like the military and use the weapons and tactics of war against American citizens, the government continues to turn the United States into a battlefield and “we the people” into enemy combatants.

Schools haven’t stopped treating young people like hard-core prisoners. School districts continue to team up with law enforcement to create a “schoolhouse to jailhouse track” by imposing a “double dose” of punishment for childish infractions: suspension or expulsion from school, accompanied by an arrest by the police and a trip to juvenile court. In this way, the paradigm of abject compliance to the state continues to be taught by example in the schools, through school lockdowns where police and drug-sniffing dogs enter the classroom, and zero tolerance policies that punish all offenses equally and result in young people being expelled for childish behavior.

For-profit private prisons haven’t stopped locking up Americans and immigrants alike at taxpayer expense. States continue to outsource prison management to private corporations out to make a profit at taxpayer expense. And how do you make a profit in the prison industry? Have the legislatures pass laws that impose harsh penalties for the slightest noncompliance in order keep the prison cells full and corporate investors happy.

Censorship hasn’t stopped. First Amendment activities continue to be pummeled, punched, kicked, choked, chained and generally gagged all across the country. The reasons for such censorship vary widely from political correctness, safety concerns and bullying to national security and hate crimes but the end result remained the same: the complete eradication of what Benjamin Franklin referred to as the “principal pillar of a free government.”

The courts haven’t stopped marching in lockstep with the police state. The courts continue to be dominated by technicians and statists who are deferential to authority, whether government or business. Indeed, the Supreme Court’s decisions in recent years have most often been characterized by an abject deference to government authority, military and corporate interests.

Government bureaucrats haven’t stopped turning American citizens into criminals. The average American now unknowingly commits three felonies a day, thanks to an overabundance of vague laws that render otherwise innocent activity illegal, while reinforcing the power of the police state and its corporate allies.

The surveillance state hasn’t stopped spying on Americans’ communications, transactions or movements. On any given day, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether it’s your local police, a fusion center, the National Security Agency or one of the government’s many corporate partners, is still monitoring and tracking your every move.

The TSA hasn’t stopped groping or ogling travelers. Under the pretext of protecting the nation’s infrastructure (roads, mass transit systems, water and power supplies, telecommunications systems and so on) against criminal or terrorist attacks, TSA task forces (comprised of federal air marshals, surface transportation security inspectors, transportation security officers, behavior detection officers and explosive detection canine teams) continue to do random security sweeps of nexuses of transportation, including ports, railway and bus stations, airports, ferries and subways, as well as political conventions, baseball games and music concerts. Sweep tactics include the use of x-ray technology, pat-downs and drug-sniffing dogs, among other things.

Congress hasn’t stopped enacting draconian laws such as the USA Patriot Act and the NDAA. These laws—which completely circumvent the rule of law and the constitutional rights of American citizens, continue to re-orient our legal landscape in such a way as to ensure that martial law, rather than the rule of law, our U.S. Constitution, becomes the map by which we navigate life in the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security hasn’t stopped being a “wasteful, growing, fear-mongering beast.” Indeed, this is the agency that is notorious for militarizing the police and SWAT teams; spying on activists, dissidents and veterans; stockpiling ammunition; distributing license plate readers; contracting to build detention camps; tracking cell-phones with Stingray devices; carrying out military drills and lockdowns in American cities; using the TSA as an advance guard; conducting virtual strip searches with full-body scanners; carrying out soft target checkpoints; directing government workers to spy on Americans; conducting widespread spying networks using fusion centers; carrying out Constitution-free border control searches; funding city-wide surveillance cameras; and utilizing drones and other spybots.

The military industrial complex hasn’t stopped profiting from endless wars abroad. America’s expanding military empire continues to bleed the country dry at a rate of more than $15 billion a month (or $20 million an hour). The Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety. Yet what most Americans fail to recognize is that these ongoing wars have little to do with keeping the country safe and everything to do with enriching the military industrial complex at taxpayer expense.

The Deep State’s shadow government hasn’t stopped calling the shots behind the scenes.Comprised of unelected government bureaucrats, corporations, contractors, paper-pushers, and button-pushers who are actually calling the shots behind the scenes, this government within a government continues to be the real reason “we the people” have no real control over our so-called representatives. It’s every facet of a government that is no longer friendly to freedom and is working overtime to trample the Constitution underfoot and render the citizenry powerless in the face of the government’s power grabs, corruption and abusive tactics.

And the American people haven’t stopped acting like gullible sheep. In fact, many Americans have been so carried away by their blind rank-and-file partisan devotion to their respective political gods that they have lost sight of the one thing that has remained constant in recent years: our freedoms are steadily declining. And it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican at the helm, because the bureaucratic mindset on both sides of the aisle now seems to embody the same philosophy of authoritarian government.

So you can try to persuade yourself that you are free, that you still live in a country that values freedom, and that it is not too late to make America great again, but to anyone who has been paying attention to America’s decline over the past 50 years, it will be just another lie.

The German people chose to ignore the truth and believe the lie.

They were not oblivious to the horrors taking place around them. As historian Robert Gellately points out, “[A]nyone in Nazi Germany who wanted to find out about the Gestapo, the concentration camps, and the campaigns of discrimination and persecutions need only read the newspapers.”

The warning signs were definitely there, blinking incessantly like large neon signs.

“Still,” Gellately writes, “the vast majority voted in favor of Nazism, and in spite of what they could read in the press and hear by word of mouth about the secret police, the concentration camps, official anti-Semitism, and so on. . . . [T]here is no getting away from the fact that at that moment, ‘the vast majority of the German people backed him.’

Half a century later, the wife of a prominent German historian, neither of whom were members of the Nazi party, opined:

[O]n the whole, everyone felt well. . . . And there were certainly eighty percent who lived productively and positively throughout the time. . . . We also had good years. We had wonderful years.”

In other words, as long as their creature comforts remained undiminished, as long as their bank accounts remained flush, as long as they weren’t being discriminated against, persecuted, starved, beaten, shot, stripped, jailed and turned into slave labor, life was good.

Life is good in America, too.

Life is good in America as long as you’re not one of the hundreds of migrant children (including infants, toddlers, preschoolers) being detained in unsanitary conditions by U.S. Border Patrol without proper access to food and water, made to sleep on concrete floors, go without a shower for weeks on end, and only allowed to brush your teeth once every 10 days.

Life is good in America as long as you don’t have to come face to face with a trigger-happy cop hyped up on the power of the badge, trained to shoot first and ask questions later, and disposed to view people of color as a suspect class.

Life is good in America as long as you’re able to keep sleep-walking through life, cocooning yourself in political fantasies that depict a world in which your party is always right and everyone else is wrong, and distracting yourself with bread-and-circus entertainment that bears no resemblance to reality.

Life is good in America as long as you’ve got enough money to spare that you don’t mind being made to pay through the nose for the government’s endless wars, subsidization of foreign nations, military empire, welfare state, roads to nowhere, bloated workforce, secret agencies, fusion centers, private prisons, biometric databases, invasive technologies, arsenal of weapons, and every other budgetary line item that is contributing to the fast-growing wealth of the corporate elite at the expense of those who are barely making ends meet—that is, we the 99%. 

Life is good in America for the privileged few, but as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, it’s getting worse by the day for the rest of us.

Published:6/26/2019 11:02:55 PM
[Markets] Trump: War President Or Anti-Interventionist?

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

Visualizing 150 Iranian dead from a missile strike that he had ordered, President Donald Trump recoiled and canceled the strike, a brave decision and defining moment for his presidency.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence had signed off on the strike on Iran as the right response to Tehran’s shootdown of a U.S. Global Hawk spy plane over the Gulf of Oman.

The U.S. claims the drone was over international waters. Tehran says it was in Iranian territory. But while the loss of a $100 million drone is no small matter, no American pilot was lost, and retaliating by killing 150 Iranians would appear to be a disproportionate response.

Good for Trump. Yet, all weekend, he was berated for chickening out and imitating President Barack Obama. U.S. credibility, it was said, has taken a big hit and must be restored with military action.

By canceling the strike, the president also sent a message to Iran: We’re ready to negotiate. Yet, given the irreconcilable character of our clashing demands, it is hard to see how the U.S. and Iran get off this road we are on, at the end of which a military collision seems almost certain.

Consider the respective demands.

Monday, the president tweeted:

“The U.S. request for Iran is very simple — No Nuclear Weapons and No Further Sponsoring of Terror!”

But Iran has no nuclear weapons, has never had nuclear weapons, and has never even produced bomb-grade uranium.

According to our own intelligence agencies in 2007 and 2011, Tehran did not even have a nuclear weapons program.

Under the 2015 nuclear deal, the JCPOA, the only way Iran could have a nuclear weapons program would be in secret, outside its known nuclear facilities, all of which are under constant U.N. inspection.

Where is the evidence that any such secret program exists?

And if it does, why does America not tell the world where Iran’s secret nuclear facilities are located and demand immediate inspections?

“No further sponsoring of terror,” Trump says.

But what does that mean?

As the major Shiite power in a Middle East divided between Sunni and Shiite, Iran backs the Houthi rebels in Yemen’s civil war, Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon, Alawite Bashar Assad in Syria, and the Shiite militias in Iraq who helped us stop ISIS’s drive to Baghdad.

In his 12 demands, Pompeo virtually insisted that Iran abandon these allies and capitulate to their Sunni adversaries and rivals.

Not going to happen. Yet, if these demands are nonnegotiable, to be backed up by sanctions severe enough to choke Iran’s economy to death, we will be headed for war.

No more than North Korea is Iran going to yield to U.S. demands that it abandon what Iran sees as vital national interests.

As for the U.S. charge that Iran is “destabilizing” the Middle East, it was not Iran that invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, overthrew the Gadhafi regime in Libya, armed rebels to overthrow Assad in Syria, or aided and abetted the Saudis’ intervention in Yemen’s civil war.

Iran, pushed to the wall, its economy shrinking as inflation and unemployment are rising, is approaching the limits of its tolerance.

And as Iran suffers pain, it is saying, other nations in the Gulf will endure similar pain, as will the USA. At some point, collisions will produce casualties and we will be on the up escalator to war.

Yet, what vital interest of ours does Iran today threaten?

Trump, with his order to stand down on the missile strike on Iran, signaled that he wanted a pause in the confrontation.

Still, it needs to be said: The president himself authorized the steps that have brought us to this peril point.

Trump pulled out of and trashed Obama’s nuclear deal. He imposed the sanctions that are now inflicting something close to unacceptable if not intolerable pain on Iran. He had the Islamic Revolutionary Guard declared a terrorist organization. He sent the Abraham Lincoln carrier task force and B-52s to the Gulf region.

If war is to be avoided, either Iran is going to have to capitulate, or the U.S. is going to have to walk back its maximalist position.

And who would Trump name to negotiate with Tehran for the United States?

The longer the sanctions remain in place and the deeper they bite, the greater the likelihood Iran will respond to our economic warfare with its own asymmetric warfare. Has the president decided to take that risk?

We appear to be at a turning point in the Trump presidency.

Does he want to run in 2020 as the president who led us into war with Iran, or as the anti-interventionist president who began to bring U.S. troops home from that region that has produced so many wars?

Perhaps Congress, the branch of government designated by the Constitution to decide on war, should instruct President Trump as to the conditions under which he is authorized to take us to war with Iran.

Published:6/26/2019 9:32:03 PM
[2019 News] Another photo of children in CBP detention facility goes viral Another photo of children in CBP detention facility goes viral… and once again, like almost every other viral photo of children in a detention facility, this one turns out to have been taken during the Obama administration, too. Published:6/25/2019 2:40:38 PM
[Entertainment] Total LIE! Caleb Hull DRAGS Soap Opera actress in EPIC thread for cropping pics to blame Trump for Obama’s border crisis

It’s one thing to be completely ignorant and not realize that Obama was keeping kids in cages, letting them sleep on floors, and ignoring the fact they went without soap, toothbrushes and other essentials while he was president. It’s quite another to deliberately manipulate photos to push a lie on your timeline to frame Trump […]

The post Total LIE! Caleb Hull DRAGS Soap Opera actress in EPIC thread for cropping pics to blame Trump for Obama’s border crisis appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/24/2019 10:11:31 AM
[Politics] The ICEman Cometh The context in which to view President Trump's decision to delay by two weeks enforcement raids by ICE is the dramatic plunge in the numbers of deportations during the Trump era. He may have been elected on a campaign to build the wall and have Mexico pay for it. What a drop-off, though, in the actual numbers of deportations from those racked up during President Obama's time in office. This was nicely encapsulated in a dispatch issued Friday by Axios. "Trump isn't matching Obama deportat... Published:6/24/2019 5:09:55 AM
[2020 Presidential Election] Democrats’ leftist bidding war accelerates (Paul Mirengoff) Joe Biden continues to lead the pack of Democratic presidential contenders by just “being Joe.” The pack, showing a desperation that may not be entirely warranted, is trying to close the gap by “being left.” Consider Cory Booker. He has the black male lane basically to himself. In addition, he resembles Barack Obama in important respects. However, polling shows him to be, at present, a third-tier candidate. How has Booker Published:6/23/2019 7:37:26 PM
[Markets] Former Obama Organizer Busted For Child Porn Sues NYC For Back Pay

The former president of the Manhattan Young Democrats and giant pedophile Jacob Schwartz is suing New York City for pack pay, claiming that he was unfairly compensated for overtime. 

Schwartz, 31, recently pleaded guilty to possessing a large trove of child porn on his laptop, according to Fox News. The former Department of Design and Construction employee was arrested in 2017 after police found over 3,000 images of child pornography and 89 videos. Some of the victims were as young as 6 months old. 

Schwartz is demanding $18,000 - claiming that for the two years he was working for the city at $66,000 per year he was usually paid "comp time" instead of time and a half when working over 40 hours in a week. 

For a time, Schwartz was a rising star in Democrat circles - rubbing elbows with and promoting Hillary's campaign manager Robby Mook. From a now-deleted biography of Schwartz from the Manhattan Young Democrats. 

Jacob was born and raised in the heart of Greenwich Village, and was involved in political organizing from a young age. Some of his oldest memories are handing out leaflets for his father, as he campaigned for District Leader. More recently, he helped start the New Democratic Alliance in New York City, and, in 2012, worked for the Obama campaign as a Field Organizer in the Lehigh Valley

Robby Mook (left), Jacob Schwartz

The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan Federal Court by his father, prominent attorney Arthur Schwartz - described by the New York Post as a "politically connected labor lawyer." The elder Schwartz served as council to Bernie Sanders during the 2016 election. He was also a delegate during Barack Obama's 2008 run for president. Schwartz has also represented SEIU, several unions, and served as general council to ACORN from March of 2009 to October 2010.

He referred to his son's arrest as a "personal tragedy," telling the New York Post

"They owed him money and he tried for two years to get paid," the elder Schwartz told the New York Post

Published:6/23/2019 2:06:01 PM
[Entertainment] DIRECT HIT! Piers Morgan’s reminder to ‘shrieking Trump-haters’ about Obama and illegal aliens sets Lefties OFF (you’ll cheer)

Piers Morgan had a reminder for ‘shrieking Trump-haters’ about Obama and his record of deporting illegal aliens that only made them shriek more. My regular reminder to shrieking Trump-haters: Obama deported THREE MILLION immigrants – at a far faster rate than Trump. Yet none of you cared. — Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 22, 2019 None […]

The post DIRECT HIT! Piers Morgan’s reminder to ‘shrieking Trump-haters’ about Obama and illegal aliens sets Lefties OFF (you’ll cheer) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/23/2019 10:04:57 AM
[Politics] Axelrod: Biden's Media Ducking 'Not Tenable Strategy' Former Vice President Joe Biden might be riding the coattails of former President Barack Obama's popularity, but his media-ducking strategy might prove costly in the Democratic primary, The Daily Beast reported."I think that it is never a good idea to sit on a lead," Obama... Published:6/23/2019 9:37:03 AM
[US News] Dumb or grossly DISHONEST!? AOC tweets NowThis video edited to blame Trump for AWFUL border conditions under Obama

NowThis has once again edited and shared a video to mislead and push a narrative about the Trump administration that is just not true. And we thought CNN was annoying. Watch. A Trump official tried to argue that detained children don’t need soap, toothbrushes, or beds to be ‘safe and sanitary’ while in Border Patrol […]

The post Dumb or grossly DISHONEST!? AOC tweets NowThis video edited to blame Trump for AWFUL border conditions under Obama appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/23/2019 7:35:49 AM
[Markets] Trump: "Major Additional Sanctions" Coming For Iran Monday

After meetings with advisers focused on Iran at Camp David on Saturday, President Trump said "major additional sanctions" will be imposed on Iran, to be unveiled Monday.

"Iran cannot have Nuclear Weapons! Under the terrible Obama plan, they would have been on their way to Nuclear in a short number of years, and existing verification is not acceptable," he said, explaining his rationale for keeping up the "maximum pressure" campaign through more sanctions. 

“We want to be proportionate,” Trump told reporters previously on Saturday, while saying he'll never fully rule out using military force on Iran. “It’s always on the table until we get this solved,” he said of future potential US military attack. “We have a tremendously powerful military force in that area.”

He made surprising remarks Saturday after the prior dramatic events of Thursday night, where he reportedly called off a major attack in response to Iran's shooting down an American drone. During the Saturday pressing briefing just before departing to Camp David he said he would be Iran's "best friend" and that it could be a "wealthy" country if it renounced nuclear weapons, according to the AFP.

“This is not about the straits,” Trump said, referring to the vital Strait of Hormuz, through which some one-fifth of the world's total oil supply passes. “This is about Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon, very simple.”

He also addressed rumors of a deep split and animosity over Iran policy between himself and his top advisers, including national security advisor and notorious hawk John Bolton. 

“John Bolton is doing a very good job, but is taking a generally tough posture,” Trump said. “I have here people who don’t have that posture. Only one that matters is me. Having people on both sides is very important.”

Reports in the immediate aftermath of the Thursday night called-off airstrikes and missile attacks on Iran suggested the White House secretly messaged Tehran's leaders via the government of Oman to request urgent last minute dialogue, which Iran's leaders reportedly rebuffed.

However, Iran formally denied that report; but it does appear Trump is indeed extending an open hand to restart talks, something which Iran will no doubt continue to reject given the US unilateral pullout of the 2015 nuclear deal over a year ago in May 2018. 

Published:6/22/2019 5:01:32 PM
[3c24a147-2c13-5b64-8fe9-311a41fc6e43] Tom Basile: Iran tensions -- Trump still cleaning up Obama's mess (but Democrats won't admit it) Critics would rather bash Trump than acknowledge Obama’s naïve strategy of Iranian appeasement was a failure. Published:6/22/2019 4:31:34 PM
[Customs, Border and Immigration News] Obama-Appointed Judge Blocks ICE From Arresting Illegal Immigrants At Courthouses

By Jason Hopkins -

A Massachusetts federal judge appointed by former President Barack Obama ruled that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents cannot make arrests at courthouses in the state, dealing a major blow to the agency. Judge Indira Talwani of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts ruled Thursday that ICE ...

Obama-Appointed Judge Blocks ICE From Arresting Illegal Immigrants At Courthouses is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:6/21/2019 6:26:05 PM
[Markets] 'Scholars' Declare Trump Worst Modern-Era President For "Diversity", "Overall Leadership"

Authored by John Hasson via CampusReform.org,

Northwestern University’s Center for Diversity and Democracy recently published a poll that lists President Donald Trump as the worst “diversity and inclusion” president in the modern era, seven places below President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who placed Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II.

The poll gathered results from 113 academic researchers around the country and over-sampled professors from The Princeton Review’s “Top-20 Most Conservative" colleges. Those colleges included Baylor UniversityWheaton College, and Texas Christian University.

Northwestern University asked the 113 scholars to rank modern-era presidents based on how well they used their executive power to “protect the constitutional rights of” racial and ethnic minorities, LGBT Americans, and women, how well they used “inclusive rhetoric, and how well they included minorities in their administration.

The academics then gave presidents a score of 0-100 in the categories “overall leadership ability” and “rhetoric on diversity and inclusion.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt received the highest “overall leadership” score (83) while President Barack Obama received the highest “diversity and inclusion” score (75).

President Trump received the lowest scores in both “overall leadership”  and “diversity and inclusion."

Franklin D. Roosevelt was ranked seven places higher than Trump on “diversity and inclusion,” despite Roosevelt imprisoning Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II, an act that the History Channel declared“one of the most atrocious violations of American civil rights in the 20th century.”

Similarly, a majority of Americans (66 percent) said they believe race relations got "a lot worse" or "a little worse" during Obama’s two terms, according to Gallup. Despite this, however, Obama was ranked as the best leader for “diversity and inclusion” in America.

Trevor Smith, research director of WPA intelligence, told Campus Reform that although he believes diversity to be important, Northwestern had “an agenda to push” with the poll. Smith also questioned the accuracy of the poll’s questioning, as he noted that LGBTQ inclusion was less relevant to the presidents’ agendas prior to the 21st century.

Out of the 113 scholars, Northwestern noted that only 13 percent identified as either “moderate, slightly conservative, or conservative.” This is consistent with a national trend in colleges across America, as the poll acknowledges “the consensus view within the literature is that about 10 percent of the faculty are self-identified 'conservatives.'"

The poll did not mention, however, how many scholars identified as “moderates” compared with those who identified as “conservative,” as well as which of the 20 most conservative colleges produced the poll’s participants. 

Published:6/21/2019 5:56:19 PM
[Markets] Scary Fast: The Global Hypersonic Arms Race That Will Change Warfare Forever

Authored by Jeffrey Smith via PublicIntegrity.org,

Hypersonic missiles - which travel at more than 15 times the speed of sound - are touching off a new global arms race that threatens to change the nature of warfare.

On March 6, 2018, the grand ballroom at the Sphinx Club in Washington was packed with aerospace-industry executives waiting to hear from Michael D. Griffin. Weeks earlier, Secretary of Defense James Mattis named the 69-year-old Maryland native as the Pentagon’s under secretary for research and engineering, a job that comes with an annual budget of more than $17 billion. So the dark-suited attendees at the McAleese/Credit Suisse Defense Programs Conference were eager to learn what type of work he would favor.

The audience was already familiar with Griffin, an unabashed defender of American military and political supremacy who has bragged about being labeled an “unreconstructed cold warrior.” With five master’s degrees and a doctorate in aerospace engineering, he was the chief technology officer for President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (popularly known as Star Wars), which was supposed to shield the United States against a potential Russian attack by ballistic missiles looping over the North Pole. Over the course of his career, he also wrote a book on space vehicle design, ran a technology incubator funded by the C.I.A., directed NASA for four years, and was employed as a senior executive at a handful of aerospace firms.

Griffin was known as a scientific optimist who regularly called for “disruptive innovation” and who prized speed above all. He had repeatedly complained about the Pentagon’s sluggish bureaucracy, which he saw as mired in legacy thinking.

“This is a country that produced an atom bomb under the stress of wartime in three years from the day we decided to do it,” he told a congressional panel last year.

“This is a country that can do anything we need to do that physics allows. We just need to get on with it.”

In recent decades, Griffin’s predecessors had prioritized broad research into topics such as human-computer interaction, space communication and undersea warfare. But Griffin signaled an important shift, one that would have financial consequences for the executives in attendance. “I’m sorry for everybody out there who champions some other high priority, some technical thing; it’s not that I disagree with those,” he told the room. “But there has to be a first, and hypersonics is my first.”

Griffin was referring to a revolutionary new type of weapon, one that would have the unprecedented ability to maneuver and then to strike almost any target in the world within a matter of minutes. Capable of traveling at more than 15 times the speed of sound, hypersonic missiles arrive at their targets in a blinding, destructive flash, before any sonic booms or other meaningful warning. So far, there are no surefire defenses. Fast, effective, precise and unstoppable — these are rare but highly desired characteristics on the modern battlefield. And the missiles are being developed not only by the United States but also by China, Russia and other countries.

Michael D. Griffin, the Pentagon’s under secretary for research and engineering and former NASA Administrator, at the Space Symposium on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at Broadmoor Hall in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Griffin is now the chief evangelist in Washington for hypersonics, and so far he has run into few political or financial roadblocks. Lawmakers have supported a significant expansion of federal spending to accelerate the delivery of what they call a “game-changing technology,” a buzz phrase often repeated in discussions on hypersonics. America needs to act quickly, says James Inhofe, the Republican senator from Oklahoma who chairs the Armed Services Committee, or else the nation might fall behind Russia and China. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are largely in agreement, though recently they’ve pressed the Pentagon for more information about the program. (Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island, and House committee chairman Adam Smith, the Democratic representative for Washington’s ninth district, told me it might make sense to question the weapons’ global impact or talk with Russia about the risks they create, but the priority in Washington right now is to get the American versions built.)

In 2018, Congress expressed its consensus in a law requiring that an American hypersonic weapon be operational by October 2022. This year, the Trump administration’s proposed defense budget included $2.6 billion for hypersonics, and national security industry experts project that the annual budget will reach $5 billion by the middle of the next decade. The immediate aim is to create two deployable systems within three years. Key funding is likely to be approved this summer. Griffin has spoken about America eventually having an arsenal of “a couple of thousand prompt strike missiles.”

Keen enthusiasm has spread to military contractors, especially after the Pentagon awarded the largest one, Lockheed Martin, more than $1.4 billion in 2018 to build missile prototypes that can be launched by Air Force fighter jets and B-52 bombers. These programs are just the beginning of what the acting defense secretary, Patrick M. Shanahan, described in December as the Trump administration’s goal of “industrializing” hypersonic missile production. This spring, he and Griffin created a new Space Development Agency of some 225 people, tasked with putting a network of sensors in low-earth orbit that would track incoming hypersonic missiles and direct American hypersonic attacks. This isn’t the network’s only purpose, but it will have “a war-fighting capability, should it come to that,” Griffin said in March.

Development of hypersonics is moving so quickly, however, that it threatens to outpace any real discussion about the potential perils of such weapons, including how they may disrupt efforts to avoid accidental conflict, especially during crises. There are currently no international agreements on how or when hypersonic missiles can be used, nor are there any plans between any countries to start those discussions. Instead, the rush to possess weapons of incredible speed and maneuverability has pushed the United States into a new arms race with Russia and China — one that could, some experts worry, upend existing norms of deterrence and renew Cold War-era tensions.

LITTLE TIME FOR DECISION-MAKING

Although hypersonic missiles can in theory carry nuclear warheads, those being developed by the United States will only be equipped with small conventional explosives. With a length between just five and 10 feet, weighing about 500 pounds and encased in materials like ceramic and carbon fiber composites or nickel-chromium superalloys, the missiles function like nearly invisible power drills that smash holes in their targets, to catastrophic effect. After their launch — whether from the ground, from airplanes or from submarines — they are pulled by gravity as they descend from a powered ascent, or propelled by highly advanced engines. The missiles’ kinetic energy at the time of impact, at speeds of at least 1,150 miles per hour, makes them powerful enough to penetrate any building material or armored plating with the force of three to four tons of TNT.

A Mach 14 Waverider glide vehicle, which takes its name from its ability to generate high lift and ride on its own shock waves. This shape is representative of the type of systems the U.S. is developing today (Dan Winters for The New York Times)

They could be aimed, in theory, at Russian nuclear-armed ballistic missiles being carried on trucks or rails. Or the Chinese could use their own versions of these missiles to target American bombers and other aircraft at bases in Japan or Guam. Or the missiles could attack vital land- or sea-based radars anywhere, or military headquarters in Asian ports or near European cities. The weapons could even suddenly pierce the steel decks of one of America’s 11 multibillion-dollar aircraft carriers, instantly stopping flight operations, a vulnerability that might eventually render the floating behemoths obsolete. Hypersonic missiles are also ideal for waging a decapitation strike — assassinating a country’s top military or political officials. “Instant leader-killers,” a former Obama administration White House official, who asked not to be named, said in an interview.

Within the next decade, so many of these new weapons might be around that they would be able to undertake a task long imagined for nuclear arms: a first strike against another nation’s government or arsenals, interrupting key chains of communication and disabling some of its retaliatory forces, all without the radioactive fallout and special condemnation that would accompany the detonation of nuclear warheads. That’s why a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report said in 2016 that hypersonics aren’t “simply evolutionary threats” to the United States but could in the hands of enemies “challenge this nation’s tenets of global vigilance, reach and power.”

The arrival of such fast weaponry will dangerously compress the time during which military officials and their political leaders — in any country — can figure out the nature of an attack and make reasoned decisions about the wisdom and scope of defensive steps or retaliation. And the threat that hypersonics pose to retaliatory weapons creates what scholars call “use it or lose it” pressures on countries to strike first during a crisis. Experts say that the missiles could upend the grim psychology of Mutual Assured Destruction, the bedrock military doctrine of the nuclear age that argued globe-altering wars would be deterred if the potential combatants always felt certain of their opponents’ devastating response.

And yet decision makers seem to be ignoring these risks. Unlike with previous leaps in military technology — such as the creation of chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missiles with multiple nuclear warheads — that ignited international debate and eventually were controlled through superpower treaty negotiations, officials in Washington, Moscow and Beijing haven’t seriously considered any sort of accord limiting the development or deployment of hypersonic technology. In the United States, the State Department’s arms-control bureau has an office devoted to emerging security challenges, but hypersonic missiles aren’t one of its core concerns. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s deputies say they primarily support making the military’s arsenal more robust, an unusual stance for a department tasked with finding diplomatic solutions to global problems.

This position worries arms-control experts like Thomas M. Countryman, a career diplomat for 35 years and former assistant secretary of state in the Obama administration.

“This is not the first case of a new technology proceeding through research, development and deployment far faster than the policy apparatus can keep up,” says Countryman, who is now chairman of the Arms Control Association.

He cites examples of similarly “destabilizing technologies” in the 1960s and 1970s, when billions of dollars in frenzied spending on nuclear and chemical arms was unaccompanied by discussion of how the resulting dangers could be minimized. Countryman wants to see limitations placed on the number of hypersonic missiles that a country can build or on the type of warheads that they can carry. He and others worry that failing to regulate these weapons at the international level could have irreversible consequences.

“It is possible,” the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs said in a February report, that “in response [to] the deployment of hypersonic weapons,” nations fearing the destruction of their retaliatory-strike capability might either decide to use nuclear weapons under a wider set of conditions or simply place “nuclear forces on higher alert levels” as a matter of routine. The report lamented that these “ramifications remain largely unexamined and almost wholly undiscussed.”

So why haven’t the potential risks of this revolution attracted more attention? One reason is that for years the big powers have cared mostly about numerical measures of power — who has more warheads, bombers and missiles — and negotiations have focused heavily on those metrics. Only occasionally has their conversation widened to include the issue of strategic stability, a topic that encompasses whether specific weaponry poses risks of inadvertent war.

ACCELERATING KEY TESTS

An aerospace engineer for the military for more than three decades, Daniel Marren runs one of the world’s fastest wind tunnels — and thanks to hypersonics research, his lab is in high demand. But finding it takes some time: When I arrived at the Air Force’s White Oak testing facility, just north of Silver Spring, Md., the private security guards only vaguely gestured toward some World War II-era military research buildings down the road, at the edge of the Food and Drug Administration’s main campus. The low-slung structure that houses Marren’s tunnel looks as if it could pass for an aged elementary school, except that it has a seven-story silver sphere sticking out of its east side, like a World’s Fair exhibit in the spot where an auditorium should be. The tunnel itself, some 40 feet in length and five feet in diameter, looks like a water main; it narrows at one end before emptying into the silver sphere. A column of costly high-tech sensors is grafted onto the piping where a thick window has been cut into its midsection.

Marren seemed both thrilled and harried by the rising tempo at his laboratory in recent months. A jovial 55-year-old who speaks carefully but excitedly about his work, he showed me a red brick structure on the property with some broken windows. It was built, he said, to house the first of nine wind tunnels that have operated at the test site, one that was painstakingly recovered in 1948 from Peenemünde, the coastal German village where Wernher von Braun worked on the V-2 rocket used to kill thousands of Londoners in World War II. American military researchers had a hard time figuring out how to reassemble and operate it, so they recruited some German scientists stateside.

As we entered the control room of the building that houses the active tunnel, Marren mentioned casually that the roof was specially designed to blow off easily if anything goes explosively awry. Any debris would head skyward, and the engineers, analysts and visiting Air Force generals monitoring the wind tests could survive behind the control room’s reinforced-concrete walls.

Inside the main room, Marren — dressed in a technologist’s polo shirt — explained that during the tests, the tunnel is first rolled into place on a trolley over steel rails in the floor. Then an enormous electric burner is ignited beneath it, heating the air inside to more than 3,000 degrees, hot enough to melt steel. The air is then punched by pressures 1,000 times greater than normal at one end of the tunnel and sucked at the other end by a vacuum deliberately created in the enormous sphere.

The U.S. Air Force’s White Oak facility in Silver Spring, Md., where scientists are testing hypersonic missile prototypes.

That sends the air roaring down the tunnel at up to 18 times the speed of sound — fast enough to traverse more than 30 football fields in the time it takes to blink. Smack in the middle of the tunnel during a test, attached to a pole capable of changing its angle in fractions of a second, is a scale model of a hypersonic missile prototype. That is, instead of testing the missiles by flying them through the air outdoors, the tunnel effectively makes the air fly past them at the same incredible pace.

For the tests, the models are coated with a paint that absorbs ultraviolet laser light as it warms, marking the spots on their ceramic skin where frictional heat may threaten the structure of the missile; engineers will then need to tweak the designs either to resist that heat or shunt it elsewhere. The aim, Marren explains, is to see what will happen when the missiles plow through the earth’s dense atmosphere on their way to their targets.

It’s challenging work, replicating the stresses these missiles would endure while whizzing by at 30 times the speed of a civilian airliner, miles above the clouds. Their sleek, synthetic skin expands and deforms and kicks off a plasma like the ionized gas formed by superheated stars, as they smash the air and try to shed all that intense heat. The tests are fleeting, lasting 15 seconds at most, which require the sensors to record their data in thousandths of a nanosecond. That’s the best any such test facility can do, according to Marren, and it partly accounts for the difficulty that defense researchers have had in producing hypersonics, even after about $2 billion-worth of federal investment before this year.

Nonetheless, Marren, who has worked at the tunnel since 1984, is optimistic that researchers will be able to deliver a working missile soon. He and his team are operating at full capacity, with hundreds of test runs scheduled this year to measure the ability of various prototype missiles to withstand the punishing friction and heat of such rapid flight. “We have been prepared for this moment for some time, and it’s great to lean forward,” Marren says. The faster that weapons systems can operate, he adds, the better.

NO DEFENSE IS AVAILABLE NOW

Last year, the nation was confronted with a brief reminder of how Cold War-era nuclear panic played out, after a state employee in Hawaii mistakenly sent out an emergency alert declaring that a “ballistic missile threat” was “inbound.” The message didn’t specify what kind of missile — and, in fact, the United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command at two sites in Alaska and California may have some capability to shoot down a few incoming ballistic missiles — but panicked Hawaii residents didn’t feel protected. They reacted by careening cars into one another on highways, pushing their children into storm drains for protection and phoning their loved ones to say goodbye — until a second message, 38 minutes later, acknowledged it was an error.

Hypersonics pose a different threat from ballistic missiles, according to those who have studied and worked on them, because they could be maneuvered in ways that confound existing methods of defense and detection. Not to mention, unlike most ballistic missiles, they would arrive in under 15 minutes — less time than anyone in Hawaii or elsewhere would need to meaningfully react.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles are like fly balls on the baseball field. They follow a predictable trajectory and their targets are known within a few minutes after their launch. Hypersonics – both scramjet-powered and boost-gliders – are more like a knuckleball, because they can jink around a catcher’s glove at the last minute and land unpredictably. (Illustration by Mark Watkinson)

How fast is that, really? An object moving through the air produces an audible shock wave — a sonic boom — when it reaches about 760 miles per hour. This speed of sound is also called Mach 1, after the Austrian physicist Ernst Mach. When a projectile flies faster than Mach’s number, it travels at supersonic speed — a speed faster than sound. Mach 2 is twice the speed of sound; Mach 3 is three times the speed of sound, and so on. When a projectile reaches a speed faster than Mach 5, it’s said to travel at hypersonic speed.

One of the two main hypersonic prototypes now under development in the United States is meant to fly at speeds between Mach 15 and Mach 20, or more than 11,400 miles per hour. This means that when fired by the U.S. submarines or bombers stationed at Guam, they could in theory hit China’s important inland missile bases, like Delingha, in less than 15 minutes. President Vladimir Putin has likewise claimed that one of Russia’s new hypersonic missiles will travel at Mach 10, while the other will travel at Mach 20. If true, that would mean a Russian aircraft or ship firing one of them near Bermuda could strike the Pentagon, some 800 miles away, in five minutes. China, meanwhile, has flight-tested its own hypersonic missiles at speeds fast enough to reach Guam from the Chinese coastline within minutes.

One concept now being pursued by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency uses a conventional missile launched from air platforms to loft a smaller, hypersonic glider on its journey, even before the missile reaches its apex. The glider then flies unpowered toward its target. The deadly projectile might ricochet downward, nose tilted up, on layers of atmosphere — the mesosphere, then the stratosphere and troposphere — like an oblate stone on water, in smaller and shallower skips, or it might be directed to pass smoothly through these layers. In either instance, the friction of the lower atmosphere would finally slow it enough to allow a steering system to maneuver it precisely toward its target. The weapon, known as Tactical Boost Glide, is scheduled to be dropped from military planes during testing next year.

Hypersonic missiles are typically launched by a rocket and then released before they reach their apex. They are pulled by gravity or propelled by highly advanced engines. (Illustration by Mark Watkinson)

Under an alternative approach, a hypersonic missile would fly mostly horizontally under the power of a “scramjet,” a highly advanced, fanless engine that uses shock waves created by its speed to compress incoming air in a short funnel and ignite it while passing by (in roughly one two-thousandths of a second, according to some accounts). With its skin heated by friction to as much as 5,400 degrees, its engine walls would be protected from burning up by routing the fuel through them, an idea pioneered by the German designers of the V-2 rocket.

The unusual trajectories of these missiles would allow them to approach their targets at roughly 12 to 50 miles above the earth’s surface, in an attacker’s sweet spot. That’s below the altitude at which ballistic missile interceptors — such as the costly American Aegis ship-based system and the Thaad ground-based system — are now designed to typically operate, yet above the altitude that simpler air defense missiles, like the Patriot system, can reach. They would zoom along in the defensive void, maneuvering unpredictably, and then, in just a few final seconds of blindingly fast, mile-per-second flight, dive and strike a target such as an aircraft carrier from an altitude of 100,000 feet.

Officials will have trouble, moreover, predicting exactly where any strike would land. Although the missiles’ launch would probably be picked up by infrared-sensing satellites in its first few moments of flight, Griffin says they would be roughly 10 to 20 times harder to detect than incoming ballistic missiles as they near their targets. And during their flight, due to their maneuverability, the perimeter of their potential landing zone could be about as big as Rhode Island. Officials might sound a general alarm, but they’d be clueless about exactly where the missiles were headed. “We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us,” Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of United States Strategic Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2018. The Pentagon is just now studying what a hypersonic attack might look like and imagining how a defensive system might be created; it has no settled architecture for it, and no firm sense of the costs.

Developing these new weapons hasn’t been easy. A 2012 test was terminated when the skin peeled off a hypersonic prototype, and another self-destructed when it lost control. A third hypersonic test vehicle was deliberately destroyed when its boosting missile failed in 2014. Officials at Darpa acknowledge they are still struggling with the composite ceramics they need to protect the missiles’ electronics from intense heating; the Pentagon decided last July to ladle an extra $34.5 million into this effort this year.

The task of conducting realistic flight tests also poses a challenge. The military’s principal land-based site for open-air prototype flights — a 3,200-acre site stretching across multiple counties in New Mexico — isn’t big enough to accommodate hypersonic weapons. So fresh testing corridors are being negotiated in Utah that will require a new regional political agreement about the noise of trailing sonic booms. Scientists still aren’t sure how to accumulate all the data they need, given the speed of the flights. The open-air flight tests can cost up to $100 million.

The Air Force’s portion of this effort is being managed from its largest base, Eglin, located in the Florida panhandle, under the direction of the 96th Test Wing, whose official slogan is “Make It Happen.” But the most recent open-air hypersonic-weapon test was completed by the Army and the Navy in October 2017, using a 36,000-pound missile to launch a glider from a rocky beach on the western shores of Kauai, Hawaii, toward Kwajalein Atoll, 2,300 miles to the southwest. The 9 p.m. flight created a trailing sonic boom over the Pacific, which was expected to top out at an estimated 175 decibels, well above the threshold at which noise causes physical pain. The effort cost $160 million, comparable to 6 percent of the total hypersonics budget proposed for 2020.

A WORLD FILLED WITH HYPERSONICS

In March 2018, Vladimir Putin, in the first of several speeches designed to rekindle American anxieties about a foreign missile threat, boasted that Russia had two operational hypersonic weapons: the Kinzhal, a fast, air-launched missile capable of striking targets up to 1,200 miles away; and the Avangard, designed to be attached to a new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile before maneuvering toward its targets. Russian media have claimed that nuclear warheads for the weapons are already being produced and that the Sarmat missile itself has been flight-tested roughly 3,000 miles across Siberia.

The Kinzhal hypersonic seen at the 2018 Moscow Victory Day Parade (Wikimedia Commons)

Russia is also working on a third hypersonic missile system, designed to be launched from submarines that Putin said last February could be stationed “in neutral waters” within a short flight time to “the decision-making centers that are creating threats to us.” Evidently seeking domestic acclaim, he compared the effort to the Soviet Union’s launch of its Sputnik satellite, the beeping silver ball that orbited the earth for five months in 1957 and 1958 and transfixed the world.

That achievement in the end didn’t play out quite as planned, because it provoked a space race and accelerated the Cold War. And American experts aren’t buying all of Putin’s claims. “Their test record is more like ours,” said an engineer working on the American program. “It’s had a small number of flight-test successes.” But Pentagon officials say they are convinced that Moscow’s hypersonics, which Putin claims will carry nuclear warheads, will soon be a real threat.

Analysts say the Chinese are further along than the Russians, partly because Beijing has sought to create conventionally-armed hypersonic missiles with shorter ranges that don’t have to endure high temperatures as long. Last August, a contractor for the Chinese space program claimed that it successfully flight-tested a gliding hypersonic missile for slightly more than six minutes. It supposedly reached a speed exceeding Mach 5 before landing in its target zone. Other Chinese hypersonic missile tests have reached speeds almost twice as fast.

CCTV footage of the Starry Sky-2 hypersonic missile test in China on August 3, 2018. (China Aerospace Aerodynamics Research Institute)

And it’s not just Russia, China and the United States that are interested in fast-flying military power drills. France and India have active hypersonics development programs, and each is working in partnership with Russia, according to a 2017 report by the Rand Corp., a nonpartisan research organization heavily funded by the Pentagon. Australia, Japan and the European Union have either civilian or military hypersonics research underway, the report said, partly because they are still tantalized by the prospect of making super-speedy airplanes large enough to carry passengers across the globe in mere hours. But Japan’s immediate effort is aimed at making a weapon that will be ready for testing by 2025.

This is not the first time the United States or others have ignored risks while rushing toward a new, apparently magical solution to a military threat or shortcoming. During the Cold War, America and Russia competed fiercely to threaten each other’s vital assets with bombers that took hours to cross oceans and with ballistic missiles that could reach their targets in 30 minutes. Ultimately, each side accumulated more than 31,000 warheads (even though the detonations of just 100 weapons would have sparked a severe global famine and stripped away significant protections against ultraviolet radiation). Eventually the fever broke, partly because of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, and the two nations reduced their arsenals through negotiations to about 6,000-6,500 nuclear warheads apiece.

Since then, cycles of intense arms racing have restarted whenever one side has felt acutely disadvantaged or spied a potential exit from what the political scientist Robert Jervis once described as the “overwhelming nature” of nuclear destruction, a circumstance that we’ve been involuntarily and resentfully hostage to for the past 70 years.

Trump officials in particular have resisted policies that support Mutual Assured Destruction, the idea that shared risk can lead to stability and peace. John Bolton, the national security adviser, was a key architect in 2002 of America’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, which limited both nations’ ability to try to block ballistic missiles. He asserted that freeing the United States of those restrictions would enhance American security, and if the rest of the world was static, his prediction might have come true. But Russia started its hypersonics program to ensure it could get around any American ballistic missile defenses. “Nobody wanted to listen to us” about the strategic dangers of abandoning the treaty, Putin said last year with an aggressive flourish as he displayed videos and animations of his nation’s hypersonic missiles. “So listen now.”

But not much listening is going on in either country. In January, the Trump administration released an updated missile-defense strategy that explicitly calls for limiting mutual vulnerability by defeating enemy “offensive missiles prior to launch.” The administration also continues to eschew any new limits on its own missiles, arguing that past agreements lulled America into a dangerous post-Cold War “holiday,” as a senior State Department official has described it.

The current administration’s lack of interest in regulating hypersonics isn’t that different from its predecessor’s. Around 2010, President Obama privately “made it clear that he wanted better options to hold North Korean missiles” at risk, a former senior official in his administration said, and some military officials said hypersonic weapons might be suitable for this (others said loitering drones were a better option). About that same time, a nuclear arms reduction agreement with Russia – the most recent one completed – was written to deliberately exclude any constraints on hypersonic weapons. Then, three years ago, a New York-based group called the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, acting in conjunction with other nonprofits committed to disarmament, called on the president to head off a hypersonic competition and its anticipated drain on future federal budgets by exploring a joint moratorium with China and Russia on testing. The idea was never taken up.

The Obama administration’s inaction helped open the door to the 21st-century hypersonic contest America finds itself in today.

“We always do these things in isolation, without thinking about what it means for the big powers — for Russia and China — who are batshit paranoid” about a potential quick, pre-emptive American attack, the adviser said, expressing regret about how the issue was handled during Obama’s tenure.

While it might not be too late to change course, history shows that stopping an arms race is much harder than igniting one. And Washington at the moment is still principally focused on “putting a weapon on a target,” as a longtime congressional staff member puts it, rather than the reaction this capability inspires in an adversary.

Griffin even projects an eventual American victory in this race: In April 2018, he said the best answer to the Chinese and Russian hypersonic programs is “to hold their assets at risk with systems similar to but better than what they have fielded.” Invoking the mantra of military scientists throughout time, Griffin added that the country must “see their hand and raise them one.” The world will soon find out what happens now that the military superpowers have decided to go all in.

Published:6/21/2019 5:05:48 PM
[1f1c2af8-99dc-5800-bf9a-49a25d544512] MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle pokes fun at Trump's 'Obama-like' Iran strike reversal MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle had some fun at the expense of President Trump on Friday over his dramatic last-minute decision to call off a retaliatory strike on Iran, something she said was "Obama-like." Published:6/21/2019 4:24:12 PM
[Environment] Environazis Furious: Trump’s EPA Repeals Obama War on Coal Rule

The following article, Environazis Furious: Trump’s EPA Repeals Obama War on Coal Rule, was first published on Godfather Politics.

Environmentalists are furious that the Trump EPA has followed through with eliminating a key rule that made up Barack Obama's was on coal.

Continue reading: Environazis Furious: Trump’s EPA Repeals Obama War on Coal Rule ...

Published:6/21/2019 12:54:35 PM
[FOREIGN AFFAIRS] Trump: Responsibly Restrained President on Foreign Policy.

Like Tony Blair in Iraq and Nicolas Sarkozy in Libya, Barack Obama has shown no contrition for his overt and dangerous grooming of Iran. Now Trump is having to clean up the mess in the knowledge it could get worse if he approaches it heavy-handed. Restraint is the key word. President Trump has displayed the […]

The post Trump: Responsibly Restrained President on Foreign Policy. appeared first on Human Events.

Published:6/21/2019 11:53:21 AM
[Markets] It's Not Over: Judge Approves Special Prosecutor For Jussie Smollett Case In Nautical Smackdown

A Chicago judge on Friday used a nautical analogy to approve a special prosecutor to review how Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx handled the Jussie Smollett case. 

The "Empire" actor, who faked a hate crime in order to boost his career and denigrate Trump supporters, avoided prosecution after Foxx's office dropped all criminal charges against him in a dramatic 11th hour announcement in March. The actor forfeited $10,000 in bail and performed 16 hours of community service at Rev. Jesse Jackson's "Rainbow/Push" headquarters over two days. 

Cook County Judge Michael P. Toobin wrote on Friday;

Jussie Smollett's case is truly unique among the countless prosecutions heard in this building. A case that purported to have been brought and supervised by a prosecutor serving in the stead of our duly elected State's attorney, who in fact was appointed to a fictitious office having no legal existence. It is also a case that deviated from the statutory mandate requiring the appointment of a special prosecutor in cases where the State's Attorney is recused. And finally, it is a case where based upon similar factual scenarios, resulting dispositions and judgments have been deemed void and held for naught. 

Here, the ship of the State ventured from its protected harbor without the guiding hand of its captain. There was no master on the bridge to guide the ship as it floundered through uncharted waters. And it ultimately lost its bearings. As with that ship, in the case at hand:

  • There was no duly elected State's Attorney when Jussie Smollett was arrested;
  • There was no State's Attorney when Smollett was initially charged; 
  • There was no State's Attorney when Smollett's case was presented to the grand jury, nor when he was indicted; 
  • There was no State's Attorney when Smollett was arraigned and entered his plea of not guilty; and
  • There was no State's Attorney in the courtroom when the proceedings were nolle prossed (dismissed) -Judge Michael P. Toobin

As such, Toobin said that "Adherence to the long-standing principles discussed herein mandates that a special prosecutor be appointed to conduct an independent investigation of the actions of any person or office involved in all aspects of the case," adding that "if reasonable grounds exist to further prosecute Smollett, in the interest of justice the special prosecutor may take such action as may be appropriate to effectuate that result."

Chicago PD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted in response to Friday's news that the department stands "firmly behind the work of detectives in investigating the fabricated incident reported by Jussie Smollett," adding that they will "fully cooperate with the court appointed special prosecutor."

Controversy erupted in March when texts and emails released by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office revealed that Michelle Obama's former Chief of Staff, Tina Tchen, attempted to have the case transferred to the FBI from the Chicago Police. 

"Spoke to the Superintendent Johnson," Foxx emailed Tchen on Feb. 1, in reference to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. "I convinced him to Reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation." 

Foxx also texted with one of Smollett's relatives whose name was redacted from the text release, saying: "Spoke to the superintendent earlier, he made the ask ... Trying to figure out logistics. I’ll keep you posted." 

Foxx said she recused herself from the case after having conversations with one of Smollett’s relatives before he was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly faking a hate crime against himself.

Foxx’s top deputy, First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats, took over the case, and prosecutors ended up dropping all charges a month after Smollett was arrested, after the “Empire” actor performed 16 hours of community service, and agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bail, but did not admit guilt.

Hundreds of emails and text messages later released by Foxx’s office showed two weeks before the charges were dropped, Foxx texted her staff, dismissing him as a “washed-up celeb who lied to cops,” and telling them he was being charged too harshly. -CBS2 Chicago

Meanwhile, Smollett was kicked off of Empire, while Fox announced that the next season will be its last. 

Published:6/21/2019 11:53:21 AM
[airstrikes] Liz Cheney Compares Trump to Obama for Not Attacking Iran: Could Be ‘Serious Mistake’ In 2013, Obama decided not to bomb Syria after Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons to attack his own people. Published:6/21/2019 10:57:09 AM
[Politics] BREAKING: Trump explains WHY he stopped military action against Iran Trump has just explained why he stopped his planned military action against Iran last night: President Obama made a desperate and terrible deal with Iran – Gave them 150 Billion Dollars plus . . . Published:6/21/2019 8:53:55 AM
[Politics] BREAKING: Trump explains WHY he stopped military action against Iran Trump has just explained why he stopped his planned military action against Iran last night: President Obama made a desperate and terrible deal with Iran – Gave them 150 Billion Dollars plus . . . Published:6/21/2019 8:53:55 AM
[US News] Ben Rhodes permanently enshrines himself in the ‘You Should Sit This One Out’ Hall of Fame with self-unaware Iran hot takes

Was this guy paying attention when Obama was president?

The post Ben Rhodes permanently enshrines himself in the ‘You Should Sit This One Out’ Hall of Fame with self-unaware Iran hot takes appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/21/2019 8:53:55 AM
[Markets] Polish MP Invites AOC For Educational Visit To 'Real' Concentration Camps

Authored by Raheem Kassam via HumanEvents.com,

A Polish lawmaker and committee chairman on trans-Atlantic trade has invited Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to visit former concentration camps in his country in an effort to educate the freshman legislator.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has recently been embroiled in a war of words with the political right, and indeed members of her own Democratic Party, after suggesting the Trump administration was running “concentration camps” in the United States (despite the Obama administration operating the same policy).

Dominik Tarczynski, a member of the Polish Sejm (parliament), wrote to Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday.

In his communication, Tarczynski writes:

“I write to you out of distress in having learned of your recent statements regarding concentration camps...

... This is why when someone cheapens the history, or uses it for political point-scoring, we become agitated and upset.”

The Congresswoman was reprimanded by the official Twitter account of Yad Vashem, the world Holocaust memorial center in Israel.

Read more here...

Published:6/21/2019 4:25:25 AM
[Markets] Escobar: Brazilgate Is Turning Into Russiagate 2.0

Authored by Pepe Escobar via ConsortiumNews.com,

The Intercept‘s bombshell about Brazilian corruption is being ludicrously spun by the country’s media and military as a “Russian conspiracy"...

It was a leak, not a hack. Yes: Brazilgate, unleashed by a series of game-changing bombshells published by The Intercept, may be turning into a tropical Russiagate.

The Intercept’s Deep Throat – an anonymous source — has finally revealed in detail what anyone with half a brain in Brazil already knew: that the judicial/lawfare machinery of the one-sided Car Wash anti-corruption investigation was in fact a massive farce and criminal racket bent on accomplishing four objectives.

  • Create the conditions for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 and the subsequent ascension of her VP, elite-manipulated puppet, Michel Temer.

  •  Justify the imprisonment of former president Lula in 2018 – just as he was set to win the latest presidential election in a landslide. 

  • Facilitate the ascension of the Brazilian extreme-right via Steve Bannon asset (he calls him “Captain”) Jair Bolsonaro.

  • Install former judge Sergio Moro as a justice minister on steroids capable of enacting a sort of Brazilian Patriot Act – heavy on espionage and light on civil liberties.

Moro, side by side with prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, who was leading the Public Ministry’s 13-strong task force, are the vigilante stars of the lawfare racket. Over the past four years, hyper-concentrated Brazilian mainstream media, floundering in a swamp of fake news, duly glorified these two as Captain Marvel-worthy national heroes. Hubris finally caught up with the swamp.

The Brazilian Goodfellas

The Intercept has promised to release all the files in its possession; chats, audio, videos and pics, a treasure trove allegedly larger than Snowden’s. What has been published so far reveals Moro/Dallagnol as a strategic duo in synch, with Moro as a capo di tutti i capi, judge, jury and executioner rolled into one – replete with serial fabrications of evidence. This, in itself, is enough to nullify all the Car Wash cases in which he was involved – including Lula’s prosecution and successive convictions based on “evidence” that would never hold up in a serious court.

Moro: Installed as justice minister.
(Wikipedia/Marcos Oliveira/Agência Senado.)

In conjunction with a wealth of gory details, the Twin Peaks principle — the owls are not what they seem — fully applies to Brazilgate. Because the genesis of Car Wash involves none other than the United States government (USG). And not only the Department of Justice (DoJ) – as Lula has been stressing for years in every one of his interviews. The op was Deep State at its lowest.

WikiLeaks had already revealed itfrom the start, when the NSA started spying on energy giant Petrobras and even Rousseff’s smart phone. In parallel, countless nations and individuals have learned how the DoJ’s self-attributed extraterritoriality allows it to go after anyone, anyhow, anywhere.

It has never been about anti-corruption. Instead this is American “justice” interfering in the full geopolitical and geo-economic spheres. The most glaring, recent case, is Huawei’s.

Yet Mafiosi Moro/Dallagnol’s “malign behavior” (to invoke Pentagonese) reached a perverse new level in destroying the national economy of a powerful emerging nation, a BRICS member and acknowledged leader across the Global South.

Car Wash ravaged the chain of energy production in Brazil, which in turn generated the sale – below market prizes – of plenty of valuable pre-salt oil reserves, the biggest oil discovery of the 21stcentury.

Car Wash destroyed Brazilian national champions in engineering and civil construction as well as aeronautics (as in Boeing buying Embraer). And Car Wash fatally compromised important national security projects such as the construction of nuclear submarines,

essential for the protection of the “Blue Amazon”.

For the Council of Americas – which Bolsonaro visited back in 2017 – as well as the Council on Foreign Relations—not to mention the “foreign investors”–to have neoliberal Chicago boy Paulo Guedes installed as finance minister was a wet dream. Guedes promised on the record to virtually put all of Brazil for sale. So far, his stint has been an unmitigated failure.

How to Wag the Dog

Mafiosi Moro/Dallagnol were “only a pawn in their game,” to quote Bob Dylan– a game both were oblivious to.

Lula has repeatedly stressed that the key question – for Brazil and the Global South – is sovereignty. Under Bolsonaro, Brazil has been reduced to the status of a banana neo-colony – with plenty of bananas. Leonardo Attuch, editor of the leading portal Brasil247, says “the plan was to destroy Lula, but what was destroyed was the nation.”

As it stands, the BRICS – a very dirty word in the Beltway – have lost their “B”. As much as they may treasure Brazil in Beijing and Moscow, what is delivering for the moment is the “RC” strategic partnership, although Putin and Xi are also doing their best to revive “RIC”, trying to show India’s Modi that Eurasian integration is the way to go, not playing a supporting role in Washington’s fuzzy Indo-Pacific strategy.

Dallagnol: Serial fabricator. (Wikimedia Commons/José Cruz/Agência Brasil)

And that brings us to the heart of the Brazilgate matter: how Brazil is the coveted prize in the master strategic narrative that conditions everything happening in the geopolitical chessboard for the foreseeable future—the no-holds-barred confrontation between the U.S. and Russia-China.

Already in the Obama era, the U.S. Deep State had identified that to cripple BRICS from the inside, the “weak” strategic node was Brazil. And yes; once again it’s the oil, stupid.

Brazil’s pre-salt oil reserves may be worth as much as a staggering $30 trillion. The point is not only that the USG wants a piece of the action; the point is how controlling most of Brazil’s oil ties up with interfering with powerful agribusiness interests. For the Deep State, control of Brazil’s oil flow to agribusiness equals containment/leverage against China.

The U.S., Brazil and Argentina, together, produce 82 percent of the world’s soybeans – and counting. China craves soybeans. These won’t come from Russia or Iran – which on the other hand may supply China with enough oil and natural gas (see, for instance, Power of Siberia I and II). Iran, after all, is one of the pillars of Eurasian integration. Russia may eventually become a soybean export power, but that may take as long as ten years.

The Brazilian military knows that close relations with China – their top trade partner, ahead of the U.S. — are essential, whatever Steve Bannon may rant about. But Russia is a completely different story. Vice-President Hamilton Mourao, in his recent visit to Beijing, where he met with Xi Jinping, sounded like he was reading from a Pentagon press release, telling Brazilian media that Russia is a “malign actor” deploying “hybrid war around the world.”

So the U.S. Deep State may be accomplishing at least part of the ultimate goal: to use Brazil in its Divide et Impera strategy of splitting the Russia-China strategic partnership.

It gets much spicier. Car Wash reconditioned as Leak Wash could also be decoded as a massive shadow play; a wag the dog, with the tail composed of two American assets.

Moro was a certified FBI, CIA, DoJ, Deep State asset. His uber-boss would ultimately be Robert Mueller (thus Russiagate). Yet for Team Trump, he would be easily expendable – even if he’s Captain Justice working under the real asset, Bannon boy Bolsonaro. If he falls, Moro would be assured the requisite golden parachute – complete with U.S. residency and talks in American universities.

The Intercept’s Greenwald is now celebrated by all strands of the Left as a sort of American/Brazilian Simon Bolivar on steroids – with and in may cases without any irony. Yet there’s a huge problem. The Intercept is owned by hardcore information-war practitioner Pierre Omidyar.

Whose Hybrid War?

The crucial question ahead is what the Brazilian military are really up to in this epic swamp – and how deep they are subordinated to Washington’s Divide et Impera.

It revolves around the all-powerful Cabinet of Institutional Security, known in Brazil by its acronym GSI. GSI stalwarts are all Washington consensus. After the “communist” Lula/Dilma years, these guys are now consolidating a Brazilian Deep State overseeing full spectrum political control, just like in the U.S..

GSI already controls the whole intel apparatus, as well as Foreign Policy and Defense, via a decree surreptitiously released in early June, only a few days before The Intercept’s bombshell. Even Captain Marvel Moro is subjected to the GSI; they must approve, for instance, everything Moro discusses with the DoJ and the U.S. Deep State.

As I’ve discussed with some of my top informed Brazilian interlocutors, crack anthropologist Piero Leirner, who knows in detail how the military think, and Swiss-based international lawyer and UN adviser Romulus Maya, the U.S. Deep Stateseems to be positioning itself as the spawning mechanism for the direct ascension of the Brazilian military to power, as well as their guarantors. As in, if you don’t follow our script to the letter – basic trade relations only with China; and isolation of Russia – we can swing the pendulum anytime.

After all, the only practical role the USG would see for the Brazilian military – in fact for all Latin America military – is as “war on drugs” shock troops.

Intercept Exclusive: Brazilian Judge in Car Wash Corruption Case Mocked Lula’s Defense and Secretly Directed Prosecutors’ Media Strategy During Trial.

There is no smoking gun – yet. But the scenario of Leak Wash as part of an extremely sophisticated, full spectrum dominance psyops, an advanced stage of Hybrid War, must be seriously considered.

For instance, the extreme-right, as well as powerful military sectors and the Globo media empire suddenly started spinning that The Intercept bombshell is a “Russian conspiracy.”

When one follows the premier military think tank website– featuring loads of stuff virtually copy and pasted straight from the U.S. Naval War College – it’s easy to be startled at how they fervently believe in a Russia-China Hybrid War against Brazil, where the beachhead is provided by “anti-national elements” such as the Left as a whole, Venezuelan Bolivarians, FARC, Hezbollah, LGBT, indigenous peoples, you name it.

After Leak Wash, a concerted fake news blitzkrieg blamed the Telegram app (“they are evil Russians!”) for hacking Moro and Dallagnol’s phones. Telegram officially debunked it in no time.

Then it surfaced that former president Dilma Rousseff and the current Workers’ Party president Gleisi Hoffmann paid a “secret” visit to Moscow only five days before the Leak Wash bombshell. I confirmed the visit with the Duma, as well as the fact that for the Kremlin, Brazil, at least for the moment, is not a priority. Eurasian integration is. That in itself debunks what the extreme-right in Brazil would spin as Dilma asking for Putin’s help, who then released his evil hackers.

Leak Wash – Car Wash’s season two – may be following the Netflix and HBO pattern. Remember that season three of True Detective was an absolute smash. We need Mahershala Ali-worthy trackers to sniff out patches of evidence suggesting the Brazilian military – with the full support of the U.S. Deep State – might be instrumentalizing a mix of Leak Wash and “the Russians” Hybrid War to criminalize the Left for good and orchestrate a silent coup to get rid of the Bolsonaro clan and their sub-zoology collective IQ. They want total control – no clownish intermediaries. Will they be biting more bananas than they can chew?

Published:6/20/2019 11:29:58 PM
[Markets] Washington's Dr. Strangeloves

Authored by Stephen Cohen via TheNation.com,

Is plunging Russia into darkness really a good idea?

Occasionally, a revelatory, and profoundly alarming, article passes almost unnoticed, even when published on the front page of The New York Times. Such was the case with reporting by David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, bearing the Strangelovian title “U.S. Buries Digital Land Mines to Menace Russia’s Power Grid,” which appeared in the print edition on June 16. The article contained two revelations.

First, according to Sanger and Perlroth, with my ellipses duly noted, The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid . . . . Advocates of the more aggressive strategy said it was long overdue . . . ” The operation “carries significant risk of escalating the daily digital Cold War between Washington and Moscow.” Though under way at least since 2012, “now the American strategy has shifted more toward offense . . . with the placement of potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before.” At this point, the Times reporters add an Orwellian touch. The head of the U.S. Cyber Command characterizes the assault on Russia’s grid, which affects everything from the country’s water supply, medical services, and transportation to control over its nuclear weapons, as “the need to ‘defend forward,’” because “they don’t fear us.”

Nowhere do Sanger and Perlroth seem alarmed by the implicit risks of this “defend forward” attack on the infrastructure of the other nuclear superpower. Indeed, they wonder, “Whether it would be possible to plunge Russia into darkness . . . ” And toward the end, they quote an American lawyer and former Obama official, whose expertise on the matter is unclear, to assure readers sanguinely, “We might have to risk taking some broken bones of our own from a counter response . . . . Sometimes you have to take a bloody nose to not take a bullet in the head down the road.”  The “broken bones,” “bloody nose,” and “bullet” are, of course, metaphorical references to the potential consequences of nuclear war. 

The second revelation comes midway in the Times story: “[President] Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place ‘implants’ . . . inside the Russian grid” because “he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials.” (Indeed, Trump issued an angry tweet when he saw the Times report, though leaving unclear which part of it most aroused his anger.)

What is the significance of this story, apart from what it tells us about the graver dangers of the new US-Russian Cold War, which now includes, we are informed, a uniquely fraught “digital Cold War”? Not so long ago, mainstream liberal Democrats, and the Times itself, would have been outraged by revelations that defense and intelligence officials were making such existential policy behind the back of a president. No longer, it seems. There have been no liberal, Democratic, or for the most part any other, mainstream protests, but instead a lawyerly apologia justifying the intelligence-defense operation without the president’s knowledge.

The political significance, however, seems clear enough. The leak to the Times and the paper’s publication of the article come in the run-up to a scheduled meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 meeting in Japan on June 28–29. Both leaders had recently expressed hope for improved US-Russian relations. On May 4, Trump again tweeted his longstanding aspiration for a “good/great relationship with Russia”; and this month Putin lamented that relations “are getting worse and worse” but hoped that he and Trump could move their countries beyond “the games played by intelligence services.”

As I have often emphasized, the long historical struggle for American-Russian (Soviet and post-Soviet) détente, or broad cooperation, has featured many acts of attempted sabotage on both sides, though most often by US intelligence and defense agencies. Readers may recall the Eisenhower-Khrushchev summit meeting that was to take place in Paris in 1960, but which was aborted by the Soviet shoot-down of a US spy plane over the Soviet Union, an intrusive flight apparently not authorized by President Eisenhower. And more recently, the 2016 plan by then President Obama and Putin for US-Russian cooperation in Syria, which was aborted by a Department of Defense attack on Russian-backed Syrian troops.

Now the sabotaging of détente appears be happening again. As the Times article makes clear, Washington’s war party, or perhaps zealous Cold War party, referred to euphemistically by Sanger and Perlroth as “advocates of the more aggressive strategy,” is on the move. Certainly, Trump has been repeatedly thwarted in his previous détente attempts, primarily by discredited Russiagate allegations that continue to be promoted by the war party even though they still lack any evidential basis. (It may also be recalled that his previous summit meeting with Putin was widely and shamefully assailed as “treason” by influential segments of the US political-media establishment.)

Détente with Russia has always been a fiercely opposed, crisis-ridden policy pursuit, but one manifestly in the interests of the United States and the world. No American president can achieve it without substantial bipartisan support at home, which Trump manifestly lacks. What kind of catastrophe will it take—in Ukraine, the Baltic region, Syria, or somewhere on Russia’s electric grid—to shock US Democrats and others out of what has been called, not unreasonably, their Trump Derangement Syndrome, particularly in the realm of American national security? Meanwhile, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has recently reset its Doomsday Clock to two minutes before midnight.

Published:6/20/2019 10:24:02 PM
[Politics] Ta-Nehisi Coates: Joe Biden Shouldn’t Be President

Prominent liberal writer Ta-Nehisi Coates told Democracy Now that Joe Biden should not be president and the former vice president owes his current political position as the leading Democratic presidential candidate due to his relationship with Barack Obama. 

The post Ta-Nehisi Coates: Joe Biden Shouldn’t Be President appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:6/20/2019 7:54:08 PM
[Markets] Biden Doubles Down After Reminding Everyone Democrats Owned Slaves

Joe Biden has an old Democrat problem. After relentless flip-flopping; blowing in the wind on topics from abortion, to Iraq, to immigration, to integrating schools - Biden has finally chosen a hill to die on; bragging about working with segregationist Democrat Senators, James Eastland (D-Miss.) and Herman Talmadge (D-Ga.), in order to "get things done." 

Eastland served as the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee for 21 years (1957 - 1978), where he would serve on the White Citizens Council working to oppose civil rights - while Biden was elected to the Senate in 1972. 

Weirdly, Biden quipped on Wednesday "[Eastland] never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son.’" - without explaining why the elder Democrat would have called the young white Senator a pejorative term used against blacks. 

Biden immediately received a heaping dose of condemnation from fellow Democrats, most prominently from Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who is black - and competing with Biden for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

"You don’t joke about calling black men 'boys.'," Booker said in a Wednesday statement at the Juneteenth annual commemoration of slavery ending in the United States. "Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone," Booker added. 

"frankly, I’m disappointed that he hasn’t issued an immediate apology for the pain his words are dredging up for many Americans. He should," Booker concluded. 

On Thursday, Biden shot back at Booker: "Apologize for what?" adding (condescendingly) "He knows better ... There’s not a racist bone in my body. I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole career. Period. Period. Period." 

Except of course when he opposed busing programs to integrate schools, calling Obama "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy" in 2007, warning black voters that Republicans would "put y'all back in chains," and of course - working closely with segregationist Democrats while praising one of the Senate Floor in 1988 (h/t Joel Pollak, Harris Alic).

"To think that I would be one day on the floor of the United States Senates, being paid such accolades by such a man of character and courage as John Stennis is beyond my wildest dreams," Biden said of the longtime segregationist, adding "And I mean that sincerely." 

Then there's Biden freestyling a noose-reference on the Senate floor while talking about the 1992 crime bill he wrote - and which would later become the 1994 Clinton-era bill widely blamed for contributing to the mass incarceration of black Americans for low-level drug crimes during the USA's infamously failed war on drugs. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose wife is black, dinged Biden as well, saying "It’s 2019 & [Biden] s longing for the good old days of “civility” typified by James Eastland. Eastland thought my multiracial family should be illegal & that whites were entitled to 'the pursuit of dead n***ers.'

Sen. Kamala Harris, who is also black and running against Biden, said that the former VP's comments were "misinformed" and "wrong." 

If only Biden could pick Alexandria Ocasio-Concentration-Camp as a running mate - except she just threw shade at the career politician who would be 82 by the end of his first term. 

Published:6/20/2019 5:49:00 PM
[Markets] Trump Says DOJ Investigating Whether Obama Tapped His Phone

President Trump on Wednesday said that DOJ investigators are probing whether the Obama administration secretly monitored his telephone communications - a possibility he referred to as "the ultimate," according to Fox News

"The fact is, they were spying on my campaign, using intelligence agencies to do it. ... We're trying to figure out whether they listened to my calls. That would be the ultimate. We'll see what happens. If that happens, we'll probably find out. If they spied on my campaign and they may have, it will be one of the great revelations in history of this country. It will be very interesting. I think we're gonna find out," said Trump. 

Appearing on Hannity, Trump covered a wide range of subjects related to the 2016 election. 

"Take a look at Ukraine," Trump said, possibly in reference to a Wednesday article by The Hill's John Solomon claiming the FBI knew that Paul Manafort's so-called "Black Ledger" was likely bogus - yet used it anyway to obtain a search warrant on the former Trump campaign manager. 

A Ukrainian court ruled in December that senior officials meddled in the 2016 US election when they revealed the alleged existence of the Black Ledger, while in 2017 Politico reported that Ukrainian officials hated Trump - working behind the scenes to try and secure a victory for Hillary Clinton. 

Trump told Hannity the episode was hardly surprising, given that the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee (DNC), through the firm Fusion GPS, funded British ex-spy Christopher Steele's creation of an unverified and largely discredited dossier. The FBI went on to cite the dossier in secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court applications to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page.

"I think it's a disgrace," Trump said.

Numerous issues with the Steele dossier's reliability have surfaced, including several that were brought to the FBI's attention before it cited the dossier in its FISA application and subsequent renewals. Mueller's report made plain, for example, that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen did not travel to Prague to conspire with Russian hackers seeking to access Democrat files, as the dossier alleged. -Fox News

So the FBI reportedly knew that both the Steele Dossier and the Black Ledger were dubious accounts - yet used them anyway in violation of FBI policy. 

Meanwhile, Trump railed against Congressional Democrats for putting his former communication adviser Hope Hicks "through hell" as she testified in a closed-door session on Capitol Hill earlier Wednesday. 

"What's happened to the Democrats -- and in the meantime, they're not doing any work in Congress," Trump told Sean Hannity, calling the party "unhinged."

"They're not allowed to do that. It's probably illegal," Trump said, referring to the leaked pictures of Hicks. Some Democrats complained that Hicks, in her appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, was ordered by the White House to stay quiet about her time as an aide to Trump, citing legal privileges. -Fox News

Watch: 

Published:6/20/2019 5:19:42 PM
[Markets] 'Frustrated' Trump Sours On Venezuela Regime Change After Bolton 'Got Played' 

President Trump has reportedly cooled on regime change in Venezuela, and thinks national security adviser John Bolton "got played" along with the director for Latin American Policy, Mauricio Claver-Carone, following an unsuccessful attempt at a coup by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, according to the Washington Post (citing their ever-anonymous sources). 

A frustrated Trump believed that national security adviser John Bolton and his director for Latin American policy, Mauricio Claver-Carone, “got played” by both the opposition and key Maduro officials, two senior administration officials said. As the president “chewed out the staff” in a meeting shortly after the April 30 failure, in the words of one former Trump official involved in Venezuela policy, he mused that he might need to get on the phone himself to get something done. -WaPo

The Post's report was vigorously disputed by National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis, who said "Not only is this patently false, but once more the Washington Post traffics in fairy tales rather than the truth."

Another senior official told the Post: "The United States never said that its effort in Venezuela would be limited to one round," adding "The administration’s maximum-pressure policy relies upon consistency and discipline to achieve the ultimate goal."

With sanctions strangling the Venezuelan economy, both Maduro and his opponents are becoming fatigued, which the Post suggests will "theoretically encourage negotiations over elections in which Maduro does not participate, although it may not ensure his immediate departure, as the United States has advocated."

According to the former official, Trump has thought of Venezuela "as low-hanging fruit" on which he could "get a win and tout it as a major foreign policy victory."

"Five or six months later .?.?. it’s not coming together," said the Post's alleged source. 

Trump has gone all but quiet

According to the report, Trump has barely mentioned Venezuela lately - ignoring it during a closed-door meeting on Wednesday with campaign donors at his Doral golf club in Florida. 

Trump’s Twitter account, which once provided regular saber-rattling on Venezuela, has largely gone silent on the subject.

In one exception, Trump tweeted early this month that “Russia has informed us that they have removed most of their people from Venezuela.” After Russia denied it, saying there had been no such action or communication with the administration, it was never mentioned again.

...

Early last week, responding to shouted questions as he prepared to board Marine One on the White House South Lawn, Trump blamed the ongoing Venezuela crisis on his predecessor and threw in a dig at his 2020 electoral competition. “It’s been brewing for many years,” he said. “It really started, in the worst form, during the Biden-Obama administration.” -WaPo

Bolton, meanwhile, keeps harping on Venezuela over Twitter - writing on Tuesday "The United States will continue to stand firmly in support of ending Maduro’s repression." 

Imagine our shock. 

Published:6/20/2019 3:49:12 PM
[Right Column] CONSERVATIVES CHALLENGE TRUMP’S EPA, SAY COAL PLANT RULE IS ILLEGAL

CEI supported the CPP’s repeal and argued ACE is a massive improvement on the Obama-era rule, but the group said it still violates a provision of the Clean Air Act that excludes EPA from putting greenhouse gas regulations on coal and natural gas power plants.

Published:6/20/2019 3:49:12 PM
[Markets] Is The US Ambassador To Greece Faithfully Conveying Trump Administration Policy?

Authored by Maria Polizoidou via The Gatestone Institute,

A recent speech by U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt is causing Greek officials and the media alarm about American policy.

In an address to the 7th Annual Hellenic Air Force Academy Air Power Conferenceon May 15, Pyatt stressed America's strong support for its long-standing alliance with Greece, but he seemed to imply that the State Department would be pressuring Athens and Cyprus to cede to Ankara in its dispute over drilling rights in the Aegean Sea.

U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt (right) at the 7th Annual Hellenic Air Force Academy Air Power Conference, on May 15, 2019. (Image source: U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Greece)

The first hint that Pyatt -- an appointee of the Obama administration -- was about to say something unpopular among Greeks was in his opening remarks:

"...[O]ne of the reasons I enjoy speaking to military audiences like this is that you always test me with your straight shooting. The fact is, militaries tend to operate with a black-and-white, shoot/no-shoot frankness, whereas us diplomats work in shades of gray."

Given what Pyatt said during the question period that followed the lecture, his "shades of gray" comment took on a more ominous meaning.

When asked by a member of the audience about U.S. policy vis-a-vis Turkish drilling activities in the Aegean Sea, Pyatt responded:

"...[T]he United States has placed a lot of attention on the emerging trilateral relationship between Greece, Cyprus, and Israel. This reflects our recognition that the Eastern Mediterranean has reemerged as a zone of great power competition, and in that context our relationship with our three democratic partners is particularly important. That is why Secretary of State Pompeo traveled to Jerusalem this spring in order to participate in the trilateral with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Prime Minister Tsipras. On the question specifically of the Cypriot EEZ and Turkish drilling activities, you saw the very quick and clear reaction of my government through our spokesperson in Washington, DC, and in particular, our emphasis on avoiding provocative and escalatory actions.

"From that perspective... our long-term hope is that energy issues in the Eastern Mediterranean should become a driver of cooperation, a win-win, as opposed to a driver of conflict. It's very important in that regard that President Anastasiadis has explicitly proposed the creation of an escrow account so that any resources from Cypriot drilling activities would be shared equally among the communities.

"I would note also the very strong support of my government for the efforts that the Greek government has made to engage with and develop rules of the road with Turkey. It's very important that Prime Minister Tsipras traveled to Ankara and Istanbul. It's extremely important that Minister Apostolakis and Secretary General Paraskevopoulos at the Foreign Ministry continue to offer and encourage a dialogue between Athens and Ankara on confidence-building measures. At the end of the day, Turkey is a NATO ally. We all seek to ensure that that NATO ally remains anchored in the West, anchored in Euro-Atlantic institutions, and indeed I would argue that among 29 NATO member states, the United States has no ally more closely aligned with us on the importance of keeping Turkey anchored in the West than Greece. So, we have spoken clearly on the escalatory nature of these drilling activities but we also are focused not just on stating our policy but also trying to reframe and redirect these issues in a way that's to everybody's benefit."

Pyatt's answer, which emphasized dialogue with Turkey, was construed by Greek politicians and the press as pressure from the State Department on Greece and Cyprus to cede their sovereign rights and natural-gas resources to Turkey. The phrase: "win-win" -- and the sentence: "At the end of the day, Turkey is a NATO ally" -- triggered Greek fears that U.S. President Donald Trump intends to use Greece as a decoy in order to bring Turkey back in NATO's orbit. These fears have triggered anti-Trump sentiment among Greeks at home, and among millions of Greek-Americans abroad.

This anger was fueled further by former Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis. In an op-ed on June 9 in the newspaper KathimeriniSimitis wrote:

"It is indicative that the U.S. ambassador in Greece, who was asked about Turkey's challenges in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone, 'noted the need for stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and talked about agreements equally beneficial to the parties involved' – an answer which suggests initiatives that may not be profitable for our country [Greece]... [However]...the risk of incidents with negative consequences will be true if we do not try to find solutions that are not always pleasant, but they guarantee peace in the region. In an effort like that, Greece will have – I believe – the support of the European Union and the United States."

After the negative reactions that Simitis' article elicited, the American embassy's press attaché, Eshel William Murad, claimed in a "letter to the editor" that Simitis had misinterpreted Pyatt's statements. Murad's letter read, in part:

"We read the editorial... by Costas Simitis... with special respect and consideration given the former prime minister's deep knowledge of the topic and the recent, strong US government policy statements on these issues...

"I note here that [the article] does not accurately describe Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt's response to the question at the May 15 Air Power Conference at the Hellenic Air Force Academy, which is the event where certain media misinterpreted his remarks.

"He [Pyatt] never spoke about agreements being equally beneficial. Instead, he said: 'On the question specifically of the Cypriot EEZ and Turkish drilling activities, you saw the very quick and clear reaction of my government through our spokesperson in Washington, DC, and in particular our emphasis on avoiding provocative and escalatory actions. From that perspective, I would note also that our long-term hope – and this is again embodied in our support for the Greece-Israel-Cyprus trilateral – our long-term hope is that energy issues in the Eastern Mediterranean should become a driver of cooperation, a win-win, as opposed to a driver of conflict. It's very important in that regard that [Cyprus] President [Nicos] Anastasiades has explicitly proposed the creation of an escrow account so that any resources from Cypriot drilling activities would be shared equally among the communities.'

"...In fact, the first outlets which misinterpreted the ambassador's remarks were Pronews.gr and Pentapostagma.gr and, we would argue, they did so intentionally given their well-known slant toward Russian positions.

"Unfortunately, the narrative spread, despite other factual coverage, including on Defense-Point.gr and HellasJournal.com.

"I am writing to correct the record so that your readers have the text of what the ambassador said on this topic."

Placing blame on pro-Russian news outlets for what Murad claims is a false narrative appears to be a form of verbal acrobatics, however. Simitis did not need to get his information from obscure websites that he probably never even heard of, let alone encountered.

Furthermore, Simitis is not the only figure, political or otherwise, to have interpreted Pyatt's words as he did. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for instance, is likely to have understood Pyatt's remarks to mean that the U.S. is preparing to impose an "agreement" on Greece that favors Turkey. Such a sense on Erdogan's part would only make him hungrier for hegemony in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

In his speech, Pyatt twice referred to Pompeo as his boss, but the feeling among Greek elites is that the State Department -- or at least its embassy in Greece -- is still operating according to the policies and worldview of Pompeo's predecessor, John Kerry, in particular, and the Obama administration in general. The sense in Greece is that the American embassy in Athens is not conveying Trump's messages in many areas, such as illegal immigration, Islamic terrorism, Iran and U.S. trade disagreements with the Eurozone.

Do Pyatt's recent comments mean that Turkey's claims to Greek and Cypriot drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean can be added to the list?

Published:6/20/2019 1:16:25 AM
[Energy] Trump EPA Replaces Obama’s Anti-Coal Clean Power Plan

The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced a new rule to grant more flexibility for states in regulating coal-fired power plants, replacing the Obama-era regulation... Read More

The post Trump EPA Replaces Obama’s Anti-Coal Clean Power Plan appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:6/19/2019 5:13:54 PM
[US News] HUGE backfire in progress: Dem Rep asks who else misses having a president like Obama (guess what happened next)

"I wonder if he expected the replies he's getting."

The post HUGE backfire in progress: Dem Rep asks who else misses having a president like Obama (guess what happened next) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/19/2019 4:11:51 PM
[Politics] EPA Chief Expects New Coal-Fired Plants to Open The Trump administration expects new coal-fired power plants to open as a result of a major new regulatory change.Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler said Wednesday he expects that increase in coal plants as a result of the repeal of the Obama-era Clean... Published:6/19/2019 12:13:58 PM
[Markets] AOC Says "Fascist" Trump Running "Concentration Camps" Along Southern Border

Has the far-left fringe of the Democratic Party really learned nothing from Ilhan Omar's repeated brushes with antisemitism?

AOC

During an Instagram Live late Monday, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez compared border detention centers to 'concentration camps', and accused President Trump of being a fascist on par with Hitler. During her talk, AOC refused to shy away from the US-Nazi Germany comparison, according to the Hill.

"The US is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are," the freshman lawmaker said. "If that doesn’t bother you...I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that 'never again' means something."

"The fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the 'Home of the Free' is extraordinarily disturbing, and we need to do something about it," she added.

AOC said she wasn't trying to throw "bombs" with the Holocaust comparison. But that didn't stop her from breaking the first rule of public speaking: Just don't mention the Holocaust or Hitler. The situation in the US has become a crisis as freedom slips away in the face of an "authoritarian, fascist president."

"I don’t use those words lightly. I don’t use those words to just throw bombs. I use that word because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is," she said. "A presidency that creates concentration camps is fascist, and it’s very difficult to say that."

Somebody should probably remind AOC and her staff that the network of 'concentration camps' that she's complaining about predates President Trump (Barack Obama was the first to implement this controversial border separation policy).

Meanwhile, the US has been dealing with record numbers of immigrants crossing the border, many of them declaring asylum, and, once they are processed, are often released on their own recognizance. 90% of the time, asylum applicants released on their own supervision never return for their next court appearance.

Of course, AOC and her fellow progressives should try coming up with a border security plan of their own now that everybody acknowledges that the crisis at the border isn't "made up," and that unmitigated amnesty probably isn't the best response.

Published:6/18/2019 1:36:46 PM
[Entertainment] REEEEE! Rob Schneider makes an EXCELLENT point about atheists and God and the meltdown that follows is PRICELESS

Sounds like Rob Schneider has a new podcast. RAD. And there’s no better way to push a podcast than by ticking off a bunch of anti-theists who will screech at you and about your podcast endlessly. Seriously, it’s like when Obama became the best gun salesman EVER. Very clever. Even when an ‘Atheist’ claims to […]

The post REEEEE! Rob Schneider makes an EXCELLENT point about atheists and God and the meltdown that follows is PRICELESS appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/18/2019 1:36:46 PM
[Avignon] The Obamas Are Back to Living Their Best Vacation Lives on a Family Trip to Provence Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama are staying in a $62,000 a week getaway in the south of France. Published:6/18/2019 12:06:35 PM
[US News] AOC accidentally PUNCHES Barack Obama RIGHT IN THE FACE after doubling down on border ‘concentration camps’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is doubling down on her claim made in an Instagram livestream last night that President Trump has “established concentration camps on the southern border,” saying it’s not “hyperbole” because it’s the “conclusion of expert analysis”: This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where […]

The post AOC accidentally PUNCHES Barack Obama RIGHT IN THE FACE after doubling down on border ‘concentration camps’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/18/2019 9:36:59 AM
[Entertainment] James Corden and Michelle Obama Face Off in Epic Celebrity Dodgeball Game James Corden, Michelle Obama, DodgeballAre you ready for some dodgeball? Michelle Obama and James Corden showed off their patriotic pride and faced off in an epic dodgeball tournament on Monday's episode of The Late Late...
Published:6/18/2019 7:36:16 AM
[Markets] The "Mass Shootings Map" Propaganda Should Convince You To Carry At All Times

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

If you use any form of social media whatsoever, you’ve probably seen the scary “mass shootings map” published by PBS, leading people to believe that they live in a terrifying place and that strict gun control is the only answer. You’ve probably read some of the cries for gun control and the stat of “more than one mass shooting a day” happening in the US. To see this propaganda, you’d think that people walk around with Uzis, randomly opening fire all the time. You’ve probably had this map indignantly posted at you in response to something you said about guns on social media.

But, you see, the map is BS. It’s a big old truckload of baloney sandwiches, steaming in the sun. It’s a manipulation that is being used to frighten people into thinking they’d be safer if none of us had the tools that we need to protect ourselves.

These terrifying dots are not all brazen shoot-outs in malls or movie theaters, during which someone takes out as many people as they can. But that’s how it’s portrayed. It’s posted without any real criteria except for the fact that it is incidents in which 4 or more people are shot, including the initial perpetrator. (A reader pointed out that these dots indicate shootings, not deaths in every case. This reduces  the dramatic effect of the map even more.)

Since biblical times, murders of groups have been recorded. I’m obviously not saying it’s okay, by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m saying that acting like this is a new thing fueled by ammo this is a blatant misrepresentation, designed to scare people into begging the government for protection.

But why would responsible gun owners being disarmed make anyone safer? 

I know it has been said so many times that it’s become a cliche, but when law-abiding people give up their guns, who do you think will have guns?

We’ll have another horrifying incident and no one…NO ONE… will be prepared to stop it.

The Mass Shootings Map is missing important information

There are many vital stats missing. Here are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself when you look at that ridiculous mass shooting map.

  • Are any of these homeowners protecting their family from a home invasion? We don’t know – we just know that 4 people were shot.

  • Are any of these incidents of gang violence? We don’t know – we just know that 4 people were shot. Also, I’m pretty sure they don’t register their firearms or get permits to carry them

  • Are any of these shooters victims of the mental health industry, taking SSRI anti-depressants? Actually we do know that quite a few of them were. Despite the fact that SSRIs don’t work on everyone who takes them, and on some they actually cause the person taking them to become violent and act on their thoughts, I don’t see anyone calling for a ban on SSRIs.

  • Are these all legally obtained guns? We don’t know – we just know that 4 people were shot. This most recent incident happened in California, home of some of the most stringent gun laws in the country. (It was nearly an 8-month process to get my own concealed carry permit here, and many were the hoops I had to jump through.)

If anything, this map should make you more convinced of the importance of carrying a firearm everywhere you go. You have an inalienable right as a human being to preserve your own life.

This is a scare tactic for non-critical thinkers

It’s full of holes. It’s a scare tactic, meant to frighten those who won’t think more deeply about the issue. It’s for people who read the headlines, but not the articles.

The map was published by PBS, who is sponsored in part by Pew Charitable Trust. While the map makes it look like gun violence is on the uptick, Pew reported in a recent article that it actually dropped in half a decade ago, and has remained steady since.

Several mass shootings this year have brought renewed attention to the issue of gun violence in America, and President Obama has again called for Congress to change the nation’s gun laws.

But the increased spotlight on guns does not reflect the overall gun violence trend in the country. Although most Americans think the number of gun crimes has risen, the U.S. gun homicide rate has actually stabilized somewhat in recent years, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of death certificate data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between 1993 and 2000, the gun homicide rate dropped by nearly half, from 7.0 homicides to 3.8 homicides per 100,000 people. Since then, the gun homicide rate has remained relatively flat. From 2010 to 2013, the most recent year data are available, the number of gun homicides has hovered between 11,000 and 12,000 per year.

More mass shootings since Obama became president than... umm... forever

And speaking of Obama, there was a dramatic increase in “mass shootings” since he took office. And by dramatic, I mean it will blow your ever-loving-mind when you see the numbers.

Truthstream Media collected the following statistics on mass shootings since the Reagan administration. I knew it was bad under Obama, but wowza. Seeing it in print like this certainly shows that increased gun control isn’t slowing down the criminals one little bit.

When all incidents where four or more people were shot in a single event are broken out by president going back to Reagan (considering the database only stretches back to 1982), there just so happens to have been a startling increase in mass shootings since Obama, the most pro-gun control president America has had in modern history, took office.

Mass Shootings under the Last Five Presidents

Ronald Reagan: 1981-1989 (8 years) 11 mass shootings
Incidents with 8 or more deaths = 5

George H. W. Bush: 1989-1993 (4 years) 12 mass murders
Incidents with 8 or more deaths = 3

Bill Clinton: 1993-2001 (8 years) 23 mass murders
Incidents with 8 or more deaths = 4

George W. Bush: 2001-2009 (8 years) 20 mass murders
Incidents with 8 or more deaths = 5

Barrack H. Obama: 2009-2015 (in 7th year) 162 mass murders
Incidents with 8 or more deaths = 18

(You can download the full list of names, dates, locations, and numbers of deaths per mass shooting by president prepared for this article here.)

This article was originally written before Donald Trump became president, but as of 2018, there were 4 mass shootings under his watch. President Obama finished off with 24 mass shooting events.

I like a good conspiracy as much as the next prepper, even though I take a lot of them with a grain of salt. But ONE HUNDRED SIXTY TWO????????????

So no, this doesn’t make me want gun control.

Coincidentally, the day of one recent shooting, I had just written an article explaining why I felt it was vital that preppers be armed. The day before the Pulse night club shooting, I used a gun to protect my family. These incidents did nothing to change my mind. In fact, they solidified my stance even more.

Gun control does not keep you safer, which is a lesson we learned with the 2015 atrocity in Paris. No one had a firearm with which they could fight back.  They hid. And when hiding didn’t work, they were slaughtered. They were as helpless as a newborn kitten with its eyes closed. They were victims and weren’t even allowed a fighting chance to level the playing field.

It’s maps like these that make me more determined than ever to exercise my 2nd Amendment right and protect my family, wherever we go.

According to this mass shootings map, criminals are everywhere.  According to this mass shootings map, a jaunt to the mall, a field trip to the museum, walking into a bank, or going to a movie are all adventures that are fraught with danger. This mass shootings map doesn’t make me want to give my gun away. It makes me want to double up and avoid any place I’m not able to carry.

In fact, I think I’ll go throw a couple of extra magazines in my purse.

Published:6/17/2019 10:34:56 PM
[US News] Rep. Ilhan Omar’s answer to mounting Iranian aggression: reinstate the Iran nuclear deal

So Trump backing out of the nuclear deal is why Iranian boats were harassing U.S. destroyers under Obama's watch?

The post Rep. Ilhan Omar’s answer to mounting Iranian aggression: reinstate the Iran nuclear deal appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/17/2019 9:05:49 PM
[f25e0bfd-22a1-56d2-ab21-4d604b1fecb8] Larry Wilmore: White comedians were too 'afraid' to mock President Barack Obama Comedian Larry Wilmore knocked his white peers for being too "afraid" of mocking President Obama when he was in office.  Published:6/17/2019 7:33:32 PM
[Barack Obama] “Obama Had to Know” (John Hinderaker) In his now-famous interview with George Stephanopoulos, President Trump was asked whether he thought Barack Obama was in on Russia gate: In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Trump was asked, “You clearly believe there was a group of people working against you. Do you think President Obama was behind it?” “I would say that he certainly must have known about it because it went very high up on the Published:6/17/2019 7:03:36 PM
[Issues] Biden: Obama ‘Had No Time to Explain the Affordable Care Act’

The post Biden: Obama ‘Had No Time to Explain the Affordable Care Act’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:6/17/2019 6:04:17 PM
[] Ousted Egyptian President and Muslim Brotherhood Leader Mohammad Morsi Collapses in Court, Then Dies Obama virtually installed this Muslim Brotherhood terrorist into the presidency. Mohamed Morsi, the former president of Egypt and top Muslim Brotherhood official who was ousted by the military in 2013 and had been standing trial for espionage, collapsed and died... Published:6/17/2019 4:31:59 PM
[Politics] Rep. Collins: Many Questions Remain in Russia Probe Origins There are many more questions to be asked about how far the origins of the Russia investigation went to protect 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and how much then-President Barack Obama knew, Rep. Doug Collins said Monday. Published:6/17/2019 1:31:08 PM
[Politics] Voters Say Trump Better for Blacks Than Obama, But More Is Needed

With unemployment for black Americans at an historic low, voters continue to believe President Trump has been better for young blacks than President Obama. But voters also still feel the government could do more and don’t think Trump’s rotten relationship with black members of Congress helps.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 33% of Likely U.S. Voters think life for young black Americans has gotten better since Trump’s election. Slightly more (36%) say life is worse for young blacks now, while 22% rate it as about the same. These findings have changed very little from a year ago. (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 May 30 and June 2, 2019 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.

Published:6/17/2019 9:30:21 AM
[Politics] TAKE THAT, OBAMA: American Athletes Continue to Dominate Under Donald Trump

Former President Barack Obama's successful campaign to rig the NBA finals in Canada's favor notwithstanding, American athletes continue to enjoy an unprecedented dominance under the leadership of Donald J. Trump. Over the weekend, American golfer Gary Woodland won the U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach, a two-hour drive from Oracle Arena, where the injured-ravaged Golden ...

The post TAKE THAT, OBAMA: American Athletes Continue to Dominate Under Donald Trump appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:6/17/2019 9:05:25 AM
[Markets] Will A False-Flag Iran War Cause A Financial Crisis?

Authored by John Rubino via DollarCollapse.com,

Just a couple of weeks ago the financial world’s biggest worry was the plunging price of oil. Supply was up, stockpiles were building and speculation was pointing towards $40 a barrel, a price at which the fracking/shale oil “miracle” would evaporate. A trillion dollars of related junk debt would default, taking a big part of the leveraged speculating community along for the ride.

Then it all changed. Someone attacked some ships and oil infrastructure in the Middle East, the US and Saudi Arabia accused Iran, and now the fear is that a major regional war will interrupt the flow of oil, sending its price way up and causing a financial crisis at least as severe as a shale oil debt collapse.

This is a legitimate concern, for two reasons.

  • First, oil shocks have happened in the past, most notably during the Arab-Israeli war of the 1970s. So we know what they do, and it isn’t pretty. Gas prices jump, workers can’t afford their commute, the economy slows dramatically and pretty much everyone other than domestic energy companies suffers badly.

  • Second and potentially more serious, the pretext for this war is so blatantly false that it risks destroying what little credibility the US government has left. Think about it: With the US doing everything it can to delegitimize and destabilize Iran while positioning assets for an invasion, Iran’s leaders … start attacking oil tankers in its offshore waters.

Does that make sense? Of course not. Much more likely is that this is yet another false flag – that is, an incident faked to give a pretext for war – and a clumsy one at that.

For readers who aren’t clear on the false flag concept and its ubiquity in geopolitics, here are just a few of the dozens of documented examples:

  • Japanese troops blew up a train track in 1931, blamed it on China and used it to justify the invasion of Manchuria.

  • After taking power, the Nazis burned down their own parliament building and blamed the communists. Later on, they faked attacks on German citizens and blamed the Poles, to justify the subsequent invasion of that country.

  • In 1939 the Soviets shelled one of their own villages and blamed Finland, prior to invading.

  • In 1954 Israeli terrorist cells operating in Egypt bombed U.S. diplomatic facilities, leaving behind evidence implicating Arabs.

  • The CIA hired Iranians in the 1950s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to ignite a rebellion against the democratically-elected government. After the rebellion succeeded the US installed a hand-picked dictator.

  • The US staged a naval engagement — the Gulf of Tonkin incident – and blamed the North Vietnamese, providing a pretext for entering the Vietnam War.

  • The FBI used provocateurs in the 1950s through 1970s to carry out violent acts and falsely blame them on political activists.

  • In 1984, Israel faked radio messages that linked Lybia to terrorism. The US bombed Libya immediately thereafter.

  • Russian blew up apartment buildings in 1999 and falsely blamed it on Chechens, in order to justify an invasion of Chechnya

The list goes on seemly forever. But these examples are enough to make the twin points that 1) lots of countries employ false flags attacks, and 2) the US is especially fond of them.

There’s just one problem this time: Everyone is on to it. Even the New York Times, which has never met a Mid East war it didn’t love, sees through the deception:

As Trump Accuses Iran, He Has One Problem: His Own Credibility

To President Trump, the question of culpability in the explosions that crippled two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman is no question at all. “It’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it,” he declared on Friday.

The question is whether the writing is clear to everyone else. For any president, accusing another country of an act of war presents an enormous challenge to overcome skepticism at home and abroad. But for a president known for falsehoods and crisis-churning bombast, the test of credibility appears far more daunting.

For two and a half years in office, Mr. Trump has spun out so many misleading or untrue statements about himself, his enemies, his policies, his politics, his family, his personal story, his finances and his interactions with staff that even his own former communications director once said “he’s a liar” and many Americans long ago concluded that he cannot be trusted.

Fact-checking Mr. Trump is a full-time occupation in Washington, and in no other circumstance is faith in a president’s word as vital as in matters of war and peace. The public grew cynical about presidents and intelligence after George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq based on false accusations of weapons of mass destruction, and the doubt spilled over to Barack Obama when he accused Syria of gassing its own people. As Mr. Trump confronts Iran, he carries the burden of their history and his own.

“The problem is twofold for them,” said John E. McLaughlin, a deputy C.I.A. director during the Iraq war. “One is people will always rightly question intelligence because it’s not an exact science. But the most important problem for them is their own credibility and contradictions.”

The task is all the more formidable for Mr. Trump, who himself has assailed the reliability of America’s intelligence agencies and even the intelligence chiefs he appointed, suggesting they could not be believed when their conclusions have not fit his worldview.

All of that can raise questions when international tension flares up, like the explosion of the two oil tankers on Thursday, a provocation that fueled anxiety about the world’s most important oil shipping route and the prospect of escalation into military conflict. When Mr. Trump told Fox News on Friday that “Iran did do it,” he was asking his country to accept his word.

“Trump’s credibility is about as solid as a snake oil salesman,” said Jen Psaki, who was the White House communications director and top State Department spokeswoman under Mr. Obama. “That may work for selling his particular brand to his political base, but during serious times, it leaves him without a wealth of good will and trust from the public that what he is saying is true even on an issue as serious as Iran’s complicity in the tanker explosions.”

Combine these two problems – a Middle East war sending oil much higher, and a near-universal lack of belief in the rationale for that war – and the remaining faith in American competence and honesty might evaporate.

This takes us back to finance, specifically to a monetary system based on fiat currency which depends for its value on our collective trust in the people managing it.

The Fed will respond to an oil crisis by cutting interest rates back to – or below – zero. But will this be met with euphoria as in the past or with skepticism, as happened in Europe recently? If it’s the latter, remember what gold did the last time there was both an oil shock and a loss of faith in government:

Published:6/17/2019 8:31:16 AM
[Entertainment] Corden's London trip: Dodgeball with Michelle Obama, talk of Trump's 'weird' royal visit We catch up with James Corden before his show heads to London next week, where he plays dodgeball against Michelle Obama. He also weighs in on Trump.
      
Published:6/17/2019 7:35:47 AM
[Entertainment] Corden's London trip: Dodgeball with Michelle Obama, thoughts on Trump's 'weird' royal visit We catch up with James Corden before his show heads to London next week, where he plays dodgeball against Michelle Obama. He also weighs in on Trump.
      
Published:6/17/2019 6:31:07 AM
[Markets] Putin, Xi Urge End To MAD World. Lord Russell's Spectre Frowns

Authored by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The spectre of nuclear war has long hung over the world like a nightmarish sword of Damocles offering humanity much cause for despair at the dual nature of science as a beautiful source of creative power that uplifts and ennobles on the one hand and acts as a harbinger of death and chaos on the other.

However, it would be wrong to blame science for the crisis which mankind unlocked with the atom, when the reality is that we have never freed ourselves from the pest of oligarchical systems of rule. Going back to records of the Roman, Persian and Babylon empires, such systems have always sought to manipulate the masses into patterns of behaviour of self-policing and constant conflict.

Whether we are talking about the Crusades, European religious wars, Napoleonic wars, Crimean War, Opium Wars, or WWI and WWII, it has always been the same recipe: Get victims to define their interests around material constraints, diminishing resources, or religious/ethnic/linguistic biases that prevent each person from recognizing their common interests with their neighbor and then get them to fight. Classic divide and conquer.

By the close of WWII, that ancient recipe for managed chaos no longer functioned as a new ingredient was introduced into the geopolitical “great game”. This atomic ingredient was so powerful that those “game masters” managing the affairs of the earth from above like detached Olympian gods, understood that they could now be annihilated as fast as their victims and a new set of rules had to be created post haste.

Lord Russell’s Nuclear Gamble

A leading representative of the genocidal mind of the British Empire was one Lord Bertrand Russell, 7th generation member of the hereditary elite known today for his celebrated pacifism and profound philosophical depth. It is an uncomfortable fact that this paragon of “logic” and peace was one of the earliest thinkers on record calling for the nuclear annihilation of the Soviet Union in the wake of the surrender of Nazi Germany. Should the Soviet Union not submit to a One World Government, argued Lord Russell in the September 1946 Bulletin for Atomic Scientists, then it would simply have to face a nuclear punishment.

Of course that threat was short lived, as Russia’s surprise announcement of their “cracking the atomic code” broke the monopoly which the Anglo-Americans had been salivating over in 1945 as they watched Japan (whose backchannel surrender had already been negotiated) burn under the shadow of a newly emerging Anglo-American Leviathan.

Lord Russell, then heading the CIA/MI6 Congress for Cultural Freedom (whose goal was to create a new anti-culture of hedonism and irrationalism in the arts during the Cold War) was forced to change tune and instead unleash a new doctrine which came to be known as “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD). Russell’s obsession with trying to enslave all of physics to a strict mathematical determinism as displayed in his Principia Mathematica (1910) and his leading role in the CIA’s promotion of abstract art/atonal music under the CCF banner is a useful insight into how societies are managed by oligarchs.

In a BBC interview years after Russell changed his views on a first strike on Russia, the British aristocratic, now-turned anti-nuclear advocate described his change of heart thus:

“Q: Is it true or untrue that in recent years you advocated that a preventive war might be made against communism, against Soviet Russia?”

RUSSELL: It’s entirely true, and I don’t repent of it now. It was not inconsistent with what I think now…. There was a time, just after the last war, when the Americans had a monopoly of nuclear weapons and offered to internationalise nuclear weapons by the Baruch proposal, and I thought this an extremely generous proposal on their part, one which it would be very desirable that the world should accept; not that I advocated a nuclear war, but I did think that great pressure should be put upon Russia to accept the Baruch proposal, and I did think that if they continued to refuse it might be necessary actually to go to war. At that time nuclear weapons existed only on one side, and therefore the odds were the Russians would have given way. I thought they would … .

Q: Suppose they hadn’t given way.

RUSSELL: I thought and hoped that the Russians would give way, but of course you can’t threaten unless you’re prepared to have your bluff called.”

An End to the MAD World

The new game became “geopolitical balance of terror” under MAD, and in many ways the power it offered an oligarchy was greater than anything a pre-atomic society had to offer. While major wars were no longer desirable (though always a risk in this psychotic game of high stakes poker), asymmetric warfare and regime change became the new “big things” for the next 70 years. A population in constant terror of annihilation created a ripe ground for the spread of a new inquisition under the guidance of a megalomaniac cross-dresser running the FBI. This inquisition purged the west of qualified leaders who were committed to peace between east and west and included great scientists, artists, professors and politicians who watched their careers destroyed as the Deep State grew ever more powerful and atomic bombs more abundant.

While many foolishly celebrated the success of MAD with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of a unipolar world that would supposedly usher in a peaceful “end to history”, others recognised the grand sleight of hand as NATO continued to expand even though WWs raison d’être had disappeared. Yevgeni Primakov and a circle of Russian patriots (which included a rising Vladimir Putin) were among those who saw through the fraud. This network worked diligently with their Asian counterparts to create a foundation for survival which manifested in the form of the G20 in 1999 and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2001.

As 2007 began, the wars in the Middle East unleashed after 9-11 had no end in sight, and an intention much darker than many ever imagined was emerging amidst the chaos. A NATO-led Anti-Ballistic Missile shield began construction around Russia’s southern perimeter on Dick Cheney’s initiative and was joined soon thereafter by an “Asia-Pivot” encirclement of China under Obama in 2011. Only the most naive fools then believed that Iran or North Korea were the real reasons for this Hobbesian power grab for a first strike monopoly. Lord Russell’s ghost could be felt across the world threatening a nuclear war if national sovereignty were not abandoned in favor of a world government managed by a “scientific dictatorship”,

Russia and China Call to Control the Fiery Serpent

President Putin along with Sergei Lavrov and President Xi Jinping have signalled an end to the era of MAD with an important call for a new international security doctrine based upon a “new operating system”.

Coming out of the St. Petersburg Economic Summit on June 6, Putin said:

“if we do not keep this ‘fiery serpent under control- if we let it out of the bottle, God forbid, this could lead to global catastrophe. Everyone is pretending to be deaf, blind or dyslexic. We have to react to this somehow, don’t we? Clearly so.”

Putin’s words were amplified by Sergei Lavrov on June 11 speaking at the Primakov Readings 2019 conference in Moscow which brought together diplomats, experts and politicians from 30 countries on the theme of “Returning to Confrontation: Are there Any Alternatives?” Lavrov said:

“It is of principle importance that Russia and the U.S. calm the rest of the world and pass a joint statement at a high level that there can be no victory in a nuclear war and therefore it is unacceptable and inadmissible. We do not understand why they cannot reconfirm this position now. Our proposal is being considered by the U.S. side.”

Since putting themselves between an Anglo-American firing squad and the nations of Syria and Venezuela, in tandem with the surprising unveiling of an array of new military technologies in March 2018, Putin has transformed the geopolitical “rules of the game” so that Lavrov’s proposal is now a real possibility. The new technologies unveiled by Russia in 2018 include supersonic missiles, underwater drones and other nuclear powered rockets that guarantee Russia’s retaliatory attack capability should anyone be stupid enough to launch a first strike against Russia.

The BRI and the New Operating System

The St. Petersburg Economic Summit from June 5-6 not only saw 19 000 participants from 145 countries signing $47.8 billion in agreements, but also featured an important meeting by China’s Xi Jinping and Putin who described their relationship as the best of friends and locked their nations ever more deeply into the new operating framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which is quickly extending into the Arctic.

This meeting will be carried to a yet higher level with the June 13-14 Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan which will integrate Eurasian nations ever more into the BRI. Putin and Xi will not only meet at this summit once again, but will also be joined by India’s newly re-elected Narendra Modi, whose participation is vital for the re-organisation of the world system.

After the SCO summit, the world will await the potential meeting at the June 28-29 G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, where U.S. President Donald Trump has indicated his desire to meet with all three leaders for bilateral negotiations. Many onlookers have criticised the idea that Trump could actually desire an honest meeting, but Lavrov has indicated his higher understanding of the strategic complexity in America by making the point in a June 6 interviewthat President Trump’s failures to build constructive relations with Russia are due to sabotage by forces embedded within the government when he said: 

“Certain US politicians, including those who tied President Trump’s hands, not allowing him to deliver on his campaign promises to normalise and improve relations with Russia, are still unable to accept this fact.”

In fact at a June 12 press conference alongside the President of Poland, Trump was pressed by a reporter to take a hard line against Russia who is apparently “threatening Poland”. While paying lip service to the Russia=bully narrative, Trump ended his response saying “I hope that Poland is going to have a great relationship with Russia. I hope we’re going to have a great relationship with Russia and, by the way, China and many other countries.” Trump had earlier called for Russia, China and America to convert their hundreds of millions of dollars in military spending into projects that are in the common interests of everyone.

During his keynote address to the Economic Forum, Putin called out the elephant in the room by bringing up the breakdown of the global financial system: 

“the degeneration of the universalist globalisation model and its turning into a parody, a caricature of itself, where common international rules are replaced with the laws… of one country.” 

Putin went on to warn of a “fragmentation of the global economic space by a policy of completely unlimited economic egoism and a forced breakdown. But this is the road to endless conflict, trade wars and maybe not just trade wars. Figuratively, this is the road to the ultimate fight of all against all.”

The point was driven home that ultimately without a new economic system, the danger of global annihilation and injustice will always hang over humanity. Echoing Xi Jinping’s philosophy of win-win cooperation, Putin said what is ultimately needed is “a more stable and fair development model. These agreements should not only be written clearly but should also be observed by all participants. However, I am convinced that talk about an economic world order like this will remain wishful thinking unless we return to the centre of the discussion, that is, notions like sovereignty, the unconditional right of every country to its own development road and, let me add, responsibility for universal sustainable development, not just for ones own development.”

Published:6/17/2019 1:05:32 AM
[Markets] Did The 'B-Team' Overplay It's Hand On Iran?

Authored by Tom Luongo,

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has a term of endearment for Iran’s enemies, “The B-Team.”

The “B-Team” consists of U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister (nee Dictator) Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed.

When we look seriously at the attacks on the oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman this week the basic question that comes to mind is, Cui bono? Who benefits?

And it’s easy to see how the B-Team benefits from this attack and subsequent blaming Iran for it. With Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tehran opening up a dialogue on behalf of U.S. President Donald Trump the threat of peace was in the air.

And none of the men on the B-Team profit from peace in the Middle East with respect to Iran. Getting Trump to stop hurling lightning bolts from the mountain top the B-Team guided him up would do nothing to help oil prices, which the Saudis and UAE need/want to remain high.

Bin Salman, in particular, cannot afford to see oil prices drop back into the $40’s per barrel. With the world awash in oil and supply tight, even with OPEC production cuts, Bin Salman is currently on very thin ice because of the Saudi Riyal’s peg to the U.S. dollar, which he can’t abandon or the U.S. will abandon them.

Falling oil prices and a rising dollar are a recipe for the death of the Saudi government, folks. Iran knows this.

Netanyahu and Bolton don’t want peace because the U.S. fighting a war with Iran serves the cause of Greater Israel and opens up the conflict in the hopes of regime change and elimination of Iran.

Bolton, as well, is finally feeling the heat of his incompetence and disloyalty to Trump, according to John Kirakau at Consortium News.

Of course, a more rational person might conclude that Bolton has done a terrible job, that the people around him have done a terrible job, that he has aired his disagreements with Trump in the media, and that the President is angry about it. That’s the more likely scenario.

Here’s what my friends are saying. Trump is concerned, like any president is near the end of his term, about his legacy. He said during the campaign that he wanted to be the president who pulled the country out of its two longest wars. He wanted to declare victory and bring the troops back from Afghanistan and Iraq. He hasn’t done that, largely at the insistence of Bolton. Here we are three years later and we’re still stuck in both of those countries.

Second, my friends say that Trump wants to end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war, but that Bolton has been insistent that the only way to guarantee the closeness of the U.S. relationships with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is to keep providing those countries with weapons, aerial refueling planes, and intelligence support.

So, couple the attacks on these tankers with the timing of Abe’s visit and the vote on Rand Paul’s bill to end selling arms to the Saudis in support of their war in Yemen (which flew through the Senate thanks to this attack getting a number of senators to change their vote at the last second) and we have a perfect cui bono.

That’s the entire B-Team’s motives distilled down to a couple of drones flying in to create a casus belli which saves Bolton’s job, keeps the weapons flowing to the murderous Saudis and creates an opportunity for Netanyahu to feed Trump bad information via his ‘intelligence’ services.

The rush to judgment by the usual suspects in the Trump administration should be all the proof you need that we’re looking at a set up to get Trump to fly off the handle which he, so far, hasn’t done.

Remember, Trump wants lower oil prices. He wants a weaker dollar and lower interest rates. He needs the frackers in Eagle Ford and Permian to keep raising output but they keep bleeding red ink. He’s fighting the Fed as well as former directors of the FBI, CIA and ODNI via his new attorney general, William Barr.

His approval rating is high and he’s going after his political enemies now. But a potential war in the Middle East is a real problem for him.

And this is where Moon of Alabama’s Bernard comes in with his excellent analysis of the current situation vis-a-vis Iran. The whole article is worth your time but the money-shot, as it were, is right here:

To say that the attacks were provocations by the U.S. or its Middle East allies is made easier by their evident ruthlessness. Any accusations by the Trump administration of Iranian culpability will be easily dismissed because everyone knows that Trump and his crew are notorious liars.

This cat and mouse game will now continue and steadily gain pace. More tankers will get damaged or even sunk. Saudi refineries will start to explode. UAE harbors will experience difficulties. Iran will plausibly deny that it is involved in any of this. The U.S. will continue to blame Iran but will have no evidence to prove it.

Insurance for Middle East cargo will become very expensive. Consumer prices for oil products will increase and increase again. The collateral damage will be immense.

All this will gradually put more pressure on Trump. 

Don’t forget that the U.S.’s sanctions on Iran make it difficult for Iran to insure its cargoes. So, even if a company or country wanted to still do business with NIOC, they can’t because they can’t get insurance on the cargo.

It’s been a real problem that Iran had to solve by having its own fleet of tankers which it also insures domestically to keep what oil it can export flowing. So it only makes sense to begin hitting the rest of the world via the same weapons being used against Iran.

But as Trump has ratcheted up the pressure he’s put Iran in the exact position that makes them the most dangerous. Acting through deniable proxies Iran can now drag this out as a low-grade conflict far longer than Trump can bear politically.

They don’t need to shut down the Strait of Hormuz. They just have to screw with its enemies’ ability to make a living. The political pressure that will come to bear on a global economy imploding because of instability in the flow of oil is not something a butcher like Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia is capable of handling.

Bernard calls Trump’s administration ‘notorious liars’ and that’s the key. People can look no further than the ludicrous and inept handling of the regime change operation in Venezuela and see the mendacity first hand.

That operation was so bad, culminating in the pathetic “Bay of Fat Pigs” coup attempt, that it has left every country that backed Bolton and Pompeo’s play there, including Trump himself, looking like morons.

You don’t embarrass the narcissists who inhabit high-level government offices and not suffer in some way. This is why I give a lot of credence to John Kirakou’s conclusion that Bolton being one approved candidate away from unemployment.

Firing Bolton and having Abe and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas go to Tehran are good will gestures. But Trump has let his B-Team badly mismanage this situation in the same way that he let Bolton and Pompeo mismanage Kim Jong-un and North Korea.

No one believes he’s capable of peace or showing shame. He’s left himself in no position to climb down from this position without the help of Iran itself.

This is exactly the argument I made in April of 2017 after his missile strike on Syria over a “beautiful piece of chocolate cake.” He revealed himself to be both tactically and strategically incompetent.

He has to come groveling to them now. But he won’t. And Iran and its benefactors, Russia and China, have no incentive to come to him. He can’t keep his promises since he’s not really in charge of policy. As Ayatollah Khamenei pointed out on Twitter (oh, the irony):

Trump thought the B-Team was giving him negotiating leverage. But what happens to your leverage when the other person takes his chips, walks away from the table and says, “No. I won’t deal with you.”

So now the screws will be put to everyone. Trump pushed Erdogan of Turkey away over the S-400 and Putin called in his marker forcing Erdogan to end his support for Al-Qaeda in Idlib. That campaign will be slow and excruciating but it will eventually grind them out.

Iran has been handed all the cards they need to become the exact thing Pompeo, Trump and the B-Team have been accusing them of being but now with the cover of deniability and asymmetry. All of the things Moon of Alabama laid out are now going to happen even if Trump fires Bolton, pulls troops out and lifts the oil embargo on Syria, etc.

Netanyahu will scream bloody murder and up the ante until Putin slaps him down. Because now that Trump has made it clear he doesn’t want war with Iran we know there’s a limit to what Bibi can incite.

If Trump was serious about war with Iran it would have already been declared. The smoke, however, is blowing in a different direction.

Iran will retaliate here just to make the point that they can. They will make Saudi Arabia and the UAE pay the biggest price directly while Trump finally has to start thinking things through or his presidency will end badly next year.

The war of attrition against the fragility of the Western financial system will enter the next stage here. Iran, China and Russia will now, sadly, activate the weapons they have been holding back for years, hoping that Trump and his B-Team would come to their senses.

This is what happens when you let the B-Team overplay your hand for you against people who are 1) smarter and 2) more patient than you are.

And, frankly, I don’t blame them one bit. Because as the only thing that American power brokers understand is strength. And you have to hit them between the eyes with a stick to get them to respect you.

*  *  *

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Published:6/16/2019 10:55:17 AM
[Markets] Corporations Suddenly Realize That Once-Coveted Millennials Are A "Screwed Generation"

Right now, millennials represent the largest single consumer group in the United States: they number 83.1 million and they represent a full quarter of the US population. When it comes to corporations targeting consumers, millennials are at the top of the list for those obvious reasons, according to a new article by Adweek. But now, generational expert Alexis Abramson, who has 25 years experience in the field, is claiming that corporations aren’t getting the ROI that they anticipated from millennials.

“There was a great deal of interest [in millennials], but there wasn’t as much due diligence around that group," she said. "We’ve generalized them as a certain type of person, [but] the reality is the rubber is meeting the road. Companies are starting to understand, 'Wow, we’re not getting the ROI we thought we might’.”

Her analysis is part of a growing group of evidence that suggests that millennials haven’t been the consumer boon that many corporations expected them to be. Their appeal remains that they are digitally native, mobile oriented, media savvy, politically progressive and well educated. But there’s just one problem: almost none of them seem to have the inly asset corporations care about: disposable cash.

This is one of the top takeaways of a brand new study from Deloitte’s Center for Consumer Insight, which surveyed over 4,000 American consumers to determine their current consuming habits. The survey found that since 1996, the average net worth of consumers under 35 has dropped by an astonishing 35%.

Kasey Lobaugh, Deloitte’s chief innovation officer for retail and distribution was extremely surprised by the data, especially given that companies have been busy focusing on millennial spending habits.

"[If] you think about the narrative in the marketplace around the changing consumer and the millennial, there’s very little focus on the behaviors that are driven by economics. There’s a narrative driven by some kind of cultural change. One of the things that really shocked me is that the economics of the consumer are really the most singular driver of behavior."

Millennials have been generalized and targeted because of statements like this one, from the Obama White House in 2014: “Millennials are a technologically connected, diverse and tolerant generation. The priority that millennials place on creativity and innovation augurs well for future economic growth, while their unprecedented enthusiasm for technology has the potential to bring change to traditional economic institutions as well as the labor market.”

But now that millennials have been part of the labor market for over a decade, the sad reality of their buying power has hit potential sellers like a ton of bricks. Spending, per se, isn't the issue: Millennials spend about $600 billion a year and are on track to spend $1.4 trillion by 2020, according to Accenture data. The problem is that they are saddled with large and unavoidable expenses that reduce their overall purchasing  power. These expenses primarily include housing and student debt.


The home ownership rate for Americans aged 25-34 was 37% — 8% below the rates for Gen Xers and baby boomers, according to the Urban Institute, in 2015. Ron Cohen, VP of product strategy for consumer analysis firm Claritas said: "Of the 13.5% of millennials that are heads of households, only around 50% of them own their own homes. The other half are renters—many likely with roommates to share rent and other expenses."

Lobaugh said: “We have seen a drop in home ownership. It’s not that the millennial somehow doesn’t want to own assets. But what we lose sight of [is] the bifurcating economy. After the downturn [of 2008], it became harder to get a loan. The population that couldn’t get access? They’re renting now.”

And income inequality remains a major issue.

Author and consultant Dan Schwabel said: “One big issue in our world right now is income inequality, and I think you’re seeing that way more in the younger generation. Largely because of the 2008 recession, millennials had a delayed adulthood, and as a result, they’re making adult decisions later in life.”

He continued: "Millennial consumers want the same things as the older generation, except they have to make short-term financial decisions to have a chance of having that kind of life. And it will take them longer. Not only are they getting paid less, but the big elephant in the room is they have $1.53 trillion in student-loan debt."

Debt, indeed, is the biggest problem facing millennials, despite them being the most educated generation in history:

According to research performed by the George Washington University School of Business, 66% of millennials have more than one type of long-term debt, and nearly half (48%) say they live paycheck to paycheck. 

According to Pew research figures, 36% of millennial women and 29% of millennial men have a bachelor’s degree. (For Gen X, those numbers are 28% and 24%, respectively, and for boomers, it’s 20% and 22%.)

Lobaugh continued: "Between 2004 and 2017, student debt rose 160%. Think about that. People are more educated, but we have stagnant wages. The ROI on education isn’t materializing the way they might have hoped."

Considering the forces at work, blogger Mike Shedlock can't help but refer to millennials as: “The screwed generation—that was the term I came up with. I believe they are.”

You can read Adweek's full report here

Published:6/15/2019 3:28:30 PM
[Markets] McGovern: DoJ Bloodhounds On the Scent Of John Brennan

Authored by Ray McGovern via ConsortiumNews.com,

With Justice Department investigators’ noses to the ground, it should be just a matter of time before they identify Brennan as fabricator-in-chief of the Russiagate story...

The New York Times Thursday morning has bad news for one of its favorite anonymous sources, former CIA Director John Brennan.

The Times reports that the Justice Department plans to interview senior CIA officers to focus on the allegation that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian intelligence to intervene in the 2016 election to help Donald J. Trump. DOJ investigators will be looking for evidence to support that remarkable claim that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report failed to establish.

Despite the collusion conspiracy theory having been put to rest, many Americans, including members of Congress, right and left, continue to accept the evidence-impoverished, media-cum-“former-intelligence-officer” meme that the Kremlin interfered massively in the 2016 presidential election.

One cannot escape the analogy with the fraudulent evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As in 2002 and 2003, when the mania for the invasion of Iraq mounted, Establishment media have simply regurgitated what intelligence sources like Brennan told them about Russia-gate.

No one batted an eye when Brennan told a House committee in May 2017, “I don’t do evidence.”

The lead story in Thursday’s New York Times.

Leak Not Hack

As we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity have warned numerous times over the past two plus years, there is no reliable forensic evidence to support the story that Russia hacked into the DNC. Moreover, in a piece I wrote in May, “Orwellian Cloud Hovers Over Russia-gate,” I again noted that accumulating forensic evidence from metadata clearly points to an inside DNC job — a leak, not a hack, by Russia or anyone else.

So Brennan and his partners, FBI Director James Comey and National Intelligence Director James Clapper were making stuff up and feeding thin but explosive gruel to the hungry stenographers that pass today for Russiagate obsessed journalists.

Is the Jig Up?

With Justice Department investigators’ noses to the ground, it should be just a matter of time before they identify Brennan conclusively as fabricator-in-chief of the Russiagate story. Evidence, real evidence in this case, abounds, since the Brennan-Comey-Clapper gang of three were sure Hillary Clinton would become president. Consequently, they did not perform due diligence to hide their tracks.

Worse still, intelligence analysts tend to hang onto instructions and terms of reference handed down to them by people like Brennan and his top lieutenants. It will not be difficult for CIA analysts to come up with documents to support the excuse: “Brennan made me do it.”

Brennan: Is the jig up? ( LBJ Library photo/ Jay Godwin)

The Times article today betrays some sympathy and worry over what may be in store for Brennan, one of its favorite sons and (anonymous) sources, as well as for those he suborned into making up stuff about the Russians.

The DOJ inquiry, says the Times, “has provoked anxiety in the ranks of the C.I.A., according to former officials. Senior agency officials have questioned why the C.I.A.’s analytical work should be subjected to a federal prosecutor’s scrutiny.” Attorney General William Barr is overseeing the review but has assigned the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, John Durham, to conduct it.

No Holds Barred

Barr is approaching this challenge with a resoluteness and a calm candor rarely seen in Washington — particularly when it comes to challenging those who run the intelligence agencies.

The big question, once again, is whether President Donald Trump will follow his customary practice of reining in subordinates at the last minute, lest they cross the vindictive and still powerful members of the Deep State.

Happily, at least for those interested in the truth, some of the authors of the rump, misnomered “Intelligence Community Assessment” commissioned by Obama, orchestrated by Brennan-Clapper-Comey, and published on January 6, 2017 will now be interviewed. The ICA is the document still widely cited as showing that the “entire intelligence community agreed” on the Russia-gate story, but this is far from the case. As Clapper has admitted, that “assessment” was drafted by “handpicked analysts” from just three of the 17 intelligence agencies — CIA, FBI, and NSA.

U.S. Attorney Durham would do well to also check with analysts in agencies — like the Defense Intelligence Agency and State Department Intelligence, as to why they believe they were excluded. The ICA on Russian interference is as inferior an example of intelligence analysis as I have ever seen. Since virtually all of the hoi aristoi and the media swear by it, I did an assessment of the Assessment on its second anniversary. I wrote:

“Under a media drumbeat of anti-Russian hysteria, credulous Americans were led to believe that Donald Trump owed his election victory to the president of Russia, whose “influence campaign” according to theTimesquoting the intelligence report,helped “President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton.”

Hard evidence supporting the media and political rhetoric has been as elusive as proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2002-2003. This time, though, an alarming increase in the possibility of war with nuclear-armed Russia has ensued — whether by design, hubris, or rank stupidity. The possible consequences for the world are even more dire than 16 years of war and destruction in the Middle East. …

The Defense Intelligence Agency should have been included, particularly since it has considerable expertise on the G.R.U., the Russian military intelligence agency, which has been blamed for Russian hacking of the DNC emails. But DIA, too, has an independent streak and, in fact, is capable of reaching judgments Clapper would reject as anathema. Just one year before Clapper decided to do the rump “Intelligence Community Assessment,” DIA had formally blessed the following heterodox idea in its “December 2015 National Security Strategy”:

“The Kremlin is convinced the United States is laying the groundwork for regime change in Russia, a conviction further reinforced by the events in Ukraine. Moscow views the United States as the critical driver behind the crisis in Ukraine and believes that the overthrow of former Ukrainian President Yanukovych is the latest move in a long-established pattern of U.S.-orchestrated regime change efforts.”

Any further questions as to why the Defense Intelligence Agency was kept away from the ICA drafting table?

Published:6/14/2019 10:22:29 PM
[] Not a Hint of Scandal: Obama Administration Deleted 190 Speeches About Immigration (and Immigration Enforcement) Just Before Trump Took Power, Most Likely To Erase the Record of the Obama Administration's Own Pro-Border-Enforcement Rhetoric MinTruth edits the past to shape the future, again. The Daily Caller: The Obama administration deleted hundreds of speeches and statements on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website just hours before President Donald Trump officially entered office, according to... Published:6/14/2019 6:45:01 PM
[Markets] Texas Is About To Make Sex Jokes On Campus A Criminal Offense

Authored by Greg Piper via The College Fix,

Why is this Republican state acting like the Obama administration?

Republican lawmakers seem to have a better grip than their Democratic colleagues on the inherent censorship of so-called free speech zones and viewpoint-based security fees.

David French of National Review counted eight states that have passed campus free-speech bills in less than six months, most recently Texas. He has one major quibble with the new Texas law: its failure to define a phrase that dictates when students can be punished for disruptions.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which French used to lead, added another concern: failure to specify an enforcement mechanism, whether for individuals or the state attorney general.

But those quibbles are nothing compared to the constitutional problems with a pair of Texas bills on campus sexual harassment that are on Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.

The two bills set a definition of sexual harassment that mirrors the Obama administration’sview of Title IX, and incentivize college employees to report anything that the most delicate person on campus might consider sexual harassment.

Judging the legality of speech ‘entirely on subjective listener reaction’

FIRE warned Abbott in a letter last week that “faculty and staff at Texas’s universities could be sent to prison for failing to report speech and conduct that does not even constitute sexual harassment” under the Department of Education’s proposed Title IX regulatory changes.

On Wednesday, FIRE responded to criticism from the bills’ biggest booster, the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.

The definition bill (SB 212) literally says that “unwelcome, sex based” words constitute harassment if they are “sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive” to interfere with a student’s studies. What is “unwelcome”? Ask the most easily offended person on campus. (Remember the University of Oregon tried to kick out a female student for a sex joke to another female. Only FIRE’s intervention saved her.)

That three-option test in the definition also botches the Supreme Court’s 20-year-old definition of sexual harassment in an educational context, known as Davis. It must be “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” – all three elements – for a school to be on notice.

As FIRE tells the sexual-assault activists, they don’t even have to agree with its interpretation of the Davis standard to recognize the bill’s fundamental problem:

This definition is missing any kind of objective, reasonable person standard, instead conditioning the permissibility of speech (and the requirement to report) entirely on subjective listener reaction. Any definition of sexual harassment that lacks an objective component is unconstitutional.

Don’t take FIRE’s word for it. There is a long list of decisions where courts have found policies unconstitutional because they lacked an objective offensiveness component.

Can you imagine a subject more likely to cause offense than sexuality and gender? That’s FIRE’s question for the activists. “Without an objective requirement, students and faculty are held hostage to the personal feelings and opinions of their accusers, no matter how unusual or even unreasonable.”

Get ready for a flood of ‘unmeritorious’ complaints to the Title IX office

SB 212 is even worse because it includes the threat of firing and criminal penalties when employees fail to report “any and all expression that could conceivably satisfy” the bill’s uselessly broad definition of sexual harassment, FIRE wrote last week:

This in turn will flood institutional Title IX offices with unmeritorious complaints, including instances of speech plainly protected by the First Amendment or institutional promises of freedom of expression. Sifting through this avalanche will squander institutional resources that could be far better devoted to pursuing serious complaints intentionally brought to the attention of Title IX officers.

And the sexual-assault activists are wrong: The bill literally makes failure to report a Class B misdemeanor, which can earn up to six months in jail.

The second bill (HB 1735) also puts Texas in the awkward position of mirroring a Democratic White House whose actions it frequently went to court to block.

It has the same unconstitutional definition of sexual harassment, but it treats accused students in sexual misconduct proceedings as if they are guilty from the start, denying them fundamental due process. Several courts, including in Texas, have told colleges they must allow cross-examination and live hearings.

FIRE’s letter to Abbott even notes that the bill incentivizes false reporting: It requires colleges to let accusers drop the courses they share with accused students “without academic penalty.” If you’re struggling in class after the traditional “drop period,” you may be tempted to claim that a classmate sexually victimized you in order to get out unscathed academically.

It would be a shame if Gov. Abbott ruined the goodwill he received from protecting free speech on campus by, well, outlawing free speech on campus. Because that’s what these two bills would do.

Published:6/14/2019 6:16:52 PM
[US News] Dan Crenshaw drops Ben Rhodes on his head over the Iran attack on two tankers

Former Obama staffer and Iran deal cheerleader Ben Rhodes doesn’t believe Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that it was Iran who attacked two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier this week and he wants an international investigation “to establish what happened”: This definitely feels like the kind of incident where you'd want an […]

The post Dan Crenshaw drops Ben Rhodes on his head over the Iran attack on two tankers appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/14/2019 4:46:20 PM
[Opinion] Biden Says No Scandals Under Obama. Oh Really?

By Jim Clayton -

Recently Joe Biden was speaking at a campaign stop and said he was proud to say there were no scandals under Obama., BIDEN: “Know what I was most proud of? For eight years, there wasn’t one single hint of a scandal or a lie. Oh really Joe? Of course, there ...

Biden Says No Scandals Under Obama. Oh Really? is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:6/14/2019 12:44:05 PM
[Politics] Trump overruled again by more Obama judges, this time on abortion… Two Obama judges on the DC Circuit Court struck down Trump’s policy of preventing illegals who are minors from getting abortions: THE HILL – The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday . . . Published:6/14/2019 11:12:17 AM
[Politics] Trump overruled again by more Obama judges, this time on abortion… Two Obama judges on the DC Circuit Court struck down Trump’s policy of preventing illegals who are minors from getting abortions: THE HILL – The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday . . . Published:6/14/2019 10:44:09 AM
[Politics] Consumer Spending Update: Americans Slightly Less Confident in Economy, But OK to Keep Spending

The Rasmussen Reports Economic Index dropped to 136.0 in June, down seven points from last month and the lowest finding since February.

Enthusiasm about the economy started to grow immediately following Donald Trump's election as president in November 2016 and spiked to 145.9 in February 2018. By comparison, in President Obama’s final years in office, this index reached a high of 121.5 in January 2015 and was at 108.1 his last month in the White House.

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

The survey of 1,500 American Adults was conducted on June 2-3, 2019 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:6/14/2019 9:42:49 AM
[The Blog] Beto hits Biden: We can’t go back to the Obama administration and think that’s good enough

"Did he support the war in Iraq that forever destabilized the Middle East?"

The post Beto hits Biden: We can’t go back to the Obama administration and think that’s good enough appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:6/13/2019 10:04:49 PM
[Markets] It Only Costs Google $20 Million A Year To Control The U.S. Government

Google has fired six of its largest lobbying firms in an attempt to overhaul its global government affairs and policy operations amid greater government scrutiny of its business, according to the Wall Street Journal. Over the last few months, the company has changed its roster of lobbying firms, as well as its Washington policy team, and lost two senior officials who helped build its "influence operation" into one of the largest in the nation's capital. The company had been paying about $20 million annually for lobbying, and the firms that Google has now let go made up about half of that cost.

The shake up is part of a "continuing modernization" of Google's influence operation and it comes at a time when government scrutiny has never been more of a factor. The Justice Department is reportedly getting ready to conduct an antitrust investigation into the company and Congress and state attorneys general are also reviewing its practices. Some politicians are even calling for the company to be broken up.

And so Google is taking the paltry $20 million per year that it has been using to control the government and trying to reallocate it. Among those who are no longer working for the company are "Charlie Black, a longtime Republican strategist, and firms that have relationships with senior Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, including Off Hill Strategies LLC, which has ties to fiscally conservative Republicans."



People familiar with the restructuring say that it helps reflect the company's global reach and will help it deal with regulators and lawmakers across regions and markets. The moves are also seen as a shake up by Google's new head of policy and government relations, Karan Bhatia. 

Bhatia was brought in last summer to serve as Google's VP of Policy and Government Relations and, since then, he’s been reassessing the company's lobbying needs. Susan Molinari, a former Republican congresswoman, stepped down as Google's head of Washington operations last year and the company has yet to name a successor.

Another executive leaving Google during the shake up is Adam Kovacevich, who ran the firm’s public-policy division. He led the company's campaign to head off a 2012 FTC investigation into anti-competitive tactics and also helped launch several advocacy groups to help promote public policy matters that benefited the company.

In 2006, Google was spending about $800,000 on lobbying and had four firms on retainer. By 2018, the company had 100 lobbyists across 30 firms and spent $21.7 million to lobby Washington. This sum made it the largest spender on lobbying among US corporations, despite the relatively small dollar amount for the massive tech giant.

The company also spends millions on donations to think tanks, political entities, universities and other third-party groups that generate data and host conferences that help Google shape the debate into its business practices.

Meanwhile, Google employees helped the company become one of the largest sources of donations to the Democratic Party and candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In the 2018 elections, Google's employee funded PAC donated $1.9 million to political candidates in both parties. Employees of the company donated a total of $1.6 million to Clinton's 2016 campaign and after Obama took office in 2012, Google and its lobbying team "scored a string of victories" in Washington, like fending off the FTC from an anti-trust case.

Google also won favorable net neutrality rulings from the FCC and secured favorable legislation on self driving vehicles.

But over the last few years the company has continued to hit headwinds from both sides of the aisle while its public image has taken a beating over privacy concerns and critics claiming that it fails to police content. 

The new lobbying structure has regional leaders in the US, Canada, Asia, the Pacific, Europe and countries that the company views as emerging markets. It also includes teams that will continue to lobby governments in areas like privacy and handling controversial content.

Published:6/13/2019 12:00:28 PM
[In The News] Putin: Relations With US ‘Getting Worse By The Hour’ Under Trump

By Chuck Ross -

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that relations with the U.S. are rapidly “deteriorating” under the Trump administration because of sanctions against Russian companies and government officials. In an interview with Mir Interstate Television, a Russian media company, Putin offered a positive assessment of Russian relations with countries like China, but ...

Putin: Relations With US ‘Getting Worse By The Hour’ Under Trump is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:6/13/2019 11:29:52 AM
[7e89c6e9-412e-59da-bfc2-ce76efe0b6bb] CNN's Jim Acosta refers to rise of Tea Party as 'ghosts of the 20th century,' says he saw 'racist imagery' at rallies CNN's liberal star reporter Jim Acosta knocked the Tea Party in his new book, referring to the movement as "ghosts of the twentieth century" that emerged in the Obama years.  Published:6/12/2019 4:59:29 PM
[Media] ‘How to lie by omission’: James Taranto and Jeryl Bier obliterate media’s 2014 vs. 2019 ‘internment camp’ spin in 2 maddening threads

Guess what WASN'T mentioned with this happened under Obama.

The post ‘How to lie by omission’: James Taranto and Jeryl Bier obliterate media’s 2014 vs. 2019 ‘internment camp’ spin in 2 maddening threads appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/12/2019 4:27:52 PM
[Markets] Obama Admin Purged 12 Years Of ICE Speeches On Immigration Crisis Hours Before Trump Inauguration

Hours before President Trump took office, the Obama administration scrambled to purge 12 years worth of transcripts spanning hundreds of speeches from the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website, according to the Daily Caller's Jason Hopkins. 

An Internet Archive Wayback Machine capture of the “Speeches and Testimonies” page from late in the evening of January 19, 2017. (via the Sunlight Foundation)

A collection of 190 transcripts of speeches on ICE’s website was deleted on Jan. 18 and late in the evening on Jan. 19, 2017, according to research conducted by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for government transparency. Statements made by high-ranking ICE officials regarding controversial immigration topics such as sanctuary cities, E-Verify, treatment of detainees, and other issues were included in the reported deletions. -Daily Caller

"With a couple of clicks of a mouse, access to a federal government web resource containing 12 years of primary source materials on ICE’s history was lost," wrote the Sunlight Foundation, adding that speeches dating back to 2004 were included in the purge

The Caller notes that speeches from former acting ICE Director Thomas Homan were "prominently included in the deletion list," including a February 2016 speech in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in which Homan discussed that "Unaccompanied Minor Crisis," which the Obama administration was grappling to manage at the southern border. 

Another example cited by the Caller was a transcript from May 2016 in which Homan explained why sanctuary cities (and counties, and states) put "the public at risk," according to the report. 

The Sunlight Foundation offered the following commentary to explain the purge: "It is not inconceivable that an outgoing Democratic administration might want to avoid preserving these public stances for future scrutiny," adding "The removal of the ICE speeches collection represents the loss of a primary source history of the early days of ICE, dating back to its creation during the George W. Bush administration in 2003." 

Published:6/12/2019 4:27:52 PM
[The Blog] Media slams Trump admin for housing child illegals at former Japanese internment camp — which Obama also used to house illegals

Bias.

The post Media slams Trump admin for housing child illegals at former Japanese internment camp — which Obama also used to house illegals appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:6/12/2019 3:25:20 PM
[Energy Policy] Have Liberals Ever Been Right About Anything? (Steven Hayward) Cast your mind back to about 2008 or 2009, when Democrats and the media mocked Sarah Palin for leading the chant “drill, baby, drill” as a remedy for our dependence on foreign oil. All the smartest people—like Obama and John Kerry!—told us that it was impossible for us to “drill our way out” of out oil and natural gas dependency: the U.S. simply didn’t have enough produceable oil and gas Published:6/12/2019 12:25:01 PM
[Markets] Rickards: "Perfect Storm" Is Coming

Authored by James Rickards via The Daily Reckoning,

People often refer to the “perfect storm.” A perfect storm is generally understood as two or more events that are independent but converge to produce an outcome much worse than either event alone.

The term is an overused cliché, and as a writer I avoid clichés whenever possible. But though rare, perfect storms do exist. The most common example is the devastating 1991 storm popularized by the book and movie of the same name, although it was initially known as the “Halloween storm.”

In that case, three separate weather dynamics all converged in one place on one day to produce a perfect storm. The odds of all three coming together at once were less than one in 100,000. That’s less than once in 270 years. That’s a perfect storm.

Do metaphorical perfect storms happen in politics and capital markets?

The answer is yes, provided the conditions of the perfect storm definition are satisfied. The multiple events that make up the true perfect storm must be independent and rare and come to converge in an almost impossible way.

Unfortunately, a political and market perfect storm is now on the way and may strike as early as Halloween 2019, marking a new “Halloween storm.” Get ready.

Today I’ll be discussing the components making up this perfect storm, and how I see them all coming together at the same time.

In my 40-plus years in banking and capital markets, I have lived through a number of financial fiascos that arguably qualify as perfect storms. Here’s a partial list:

  • 1970: Penn Central bankruptcy, the largest in history at that time

  • 1973–74: Arab oil embargo

  • 1977–80: U.S. hyperinflation

  • 1982–85: Latin American debt crisis

  • 1987: One-day 22% stock market crash

  • 1988–92: Savings and loan (S&L) crisis

  • 1994: Mexican tequila crisis

  • 1997: Asian financial crisis

  • 1998: Russia/Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) crisis

  • 2000:Dot-com crash

  • 2007: Mortgage market collapse

  • 2008: Lehman Bros./AIG financial panic.

I was not just a bystander at these events. From 1977–85, I worked at Citibank and dealt with inflation, currencies and Latin America from a front-row seat.

From 1985–93 I worked for a major government bond dealer that financed S&Ls and traded their mortgages.

From 1994–99, I was at LTCM and dealt in all the major international markets. I negotiated the LTCM rescue by Wall Street in September 1998.

In 1999–2000 I ran a tech startup, and in 2007–08 I was an investment banker and financial threat adviser to the CIA.

That’s a lot of action for one career, but it also makes the point that financial perfect storms happen more frequently than standard models expect.

Here’s what I learned: Every one of these episodes was preceded by mass complacency or euphoria.

Before the Arab oil embargo, we expected cheap oil forever. Before the Latin American debt crisis, countries like Brazil and Argentina were “the land of the future.”

No one worried about a stock market crash in 1987 because we had “portfolio insurance.” The S&Ls could not get in trouble because they had FSLIC (Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp.) insurance.

Mexico could not get in trouble because it had oil. Asia could not get in trouble because it had cheap labor, high growth and “fixed” exchange rates.

Russia would not go broke because it was a “nuclear power.” LTCM would not go broke because it had two Nobel Prize winners. Dot-coms would not go broke because they attracted “eyeballs.”

Mortgages were solid because we had never seen a simultaneous nationwide decline in home values. Lehman Bros. was “too big to fail.” AIG was the Rock of Gibraltar.

In short, the fiascoes I witnessed were “not supposed to happen.” They all did. The worst panics are always preceded by a sense that nothing can go wrong.

We are there again. Stocks are approaching all-time highs again. The bond bust hasn’t happened. Mortgage interest rates are near the lows of the early 1960s. Exchange rate volatility is low.

Unemployment is at 50-year lows. Real wages are rising (at least a little). There are more job openings than job seekers. ISIS is defeated. Brexit is on indefinite hold.

It’s all good. What, me worry?

I saw a recent poll asking investors when they thought a market crash might happen. Something like 80% of the respondents answered not anytime soon.

I cannot imagine a better setup for catastrophe. No one ever sees disaster coming. That’s the point.

I believe a perfect storm is coming. It’s hard to foresee the full magnitude of it, but it will likely be dramatic. It will have a major impact on markets. How it impacts you depends on how far in advance you see it coming.

What are the three elements of the perfect political and market storm I see coming together this fall?

  • The first is an effort by the Democratic House of Representatives to impeach President Trump.

  • The second is the socialist-progressive tilt in the 2020 presidential election field.

  • The third is the fallout from the Mueller report and the Russia collusion hoax — what I and others called “Spygate.”

These components are independent of each other but are at high risk of convergence in the coming months. 

Let’s look more closely at the individual elements of impeachment, electoral chaos and Spygate that comprise this new storm with no name.

The first storm is impeachment. Impeachment of a president by the House of Representatives is just the first step in removing a president from office. The second step is a trial in the Senate requiring a two-thirds majority (67 votes) to remove the president. Two presidents have been impeached, but neither was removed. Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.

If the House impeaches Trump, the outcome will be the same. The Senate is firmly under Republican control (53 votes) and there’s no way Democrats can get 20 Republicans to defect to get the needed 67 votes needed. So House impeachment proceedings are just for show.

But it can be a very damaging show and create huge uncertainty for markets. There are powerful progressive forces in Congress and among top Democratic donors who are fanatical about impeaching Trump and will not be satisfied with anything less. One poll shows that 75% of Democratic voters favor impeachment (including almost 100% of the activist progressive base).

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have both poured cold water on impeachment talk. They feel it’s a distraction from Democratic efforts to enact their legislative agenda. But some of the party’s biggest private money donors, including Tom Steyer, are also demanding impeachment.

If Steyer does not get an impeachment process, he looks to support primary challenges to sitting Democrats who don’t join the impeachment effort. This could jeopardize Pelosi’s speakership in a new Congress. So Pelosi could come under heavy pressure to go along with impeachment.

The final outcome is irrelevant; what matters is the process itself. Impeachment fever is not likely to last long into 2020, because at that point the election will not be far away. Voters will turn their backs on impeachment and insist that disputes about Donald Trump be settled at the ballot box. That’s why you can expect impeachment fever to come to a head by the fall of 2019. And that will create a lot of uncertainty for markets.

The second storm is the 2020 election.

Trump is on track to win reelection in 2020. My models estimate his chance of victory is 63% today and it will get higher as Election Day approaches. The only occurrence that will derail Trump is a recession.

The odds of a recession before the 2020 election are below 40% in my view and will get smaller with time. Meanwhile, Trump will keep up the pressure on the Fed not to raise interest rates and will ensure that the U.S.-China trade war comes in for a soft landing.

This may sound like a rosy scenario for the economy. But it’s not so rosy for the Democrats. Every piece of good economic news will cause Democrats to dial up their political hit jobs on Trump. Each one will try to outdo the next.

There are now 24 declared candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. That’s more than the Democrats have ever had before. Currently Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are out in front. Biden is considered the most moderate of the candidates.

But I don’t expect Joe Biden to stay in front for long, and I don’t believe he’ll win the nomination. But the only way for a Democrat to stay in the race is to stake out the most extreme progressive positions. This applies to reparations for slavery, free health care, free child care, free tuition, higher taxes, more regulation and the Green New Deal.

If Biden does fall away, then the choices are back to Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or maybe Kamala Harris. But one is more radical than the next. So, you could have a shock effect where all of a sudden it looks like the Democratic nominee is going to be a real socialist. And that would rattle markets.

This toxic combination of infighting among candidates and bitter partisanship aimed at Trump will be another source of market uncertainty and volatility until Election Day in 2020 and perhaps beyond.

But the third storm is the most dangerous and unpredictable storm of all: Spygate. It involves accountability for those involved in an attempted coup d’état aimed at President Trump.

The Mueller report lays to rest any allegations of collusion, conspiracy or obstruction of justice involving Trump and the Russians. There is simply no evidence to support the collusion and conspiracy theories and insufficient evidence to support an obstruction theory. The case against Trump is closed.

Now Trump moves from defense to offense, and the real investigation begins.

Who authorized a counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign to begin with? Did surveillance of the Trump campaign by the U.S. intelligence community (CIA, NSA and FBI) begin before search warrants were obtained? On what basis? Was this surveillance legal or illegal?

These are just a few of the many questions that will be investigated and answered in the coming months.

These criminal referrals will be taken seriously by Attorney General William Barr along with other criminal referrals coming from Congress. Barr will take a hard look at possible criminal acts by John Brennan (CIA director), James Comey (FBI director) and James Clapper (director of national intelligence) among many others.

At the same time Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina, will hold hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee about the origins of spying on the Trump campaign and lies to the FISA court. These may be the most important hearings of their kind since Watergate.

Trump will be running for reelection against this backdrop of revelations of wrongdoing by his political opponents in the last election. Actual indictments and arrests of former FBI or CIA officials will cause immense political turmoil. Such charges may be fully justified (and needed to restore credibility). They will certainly energize the Trump base.

But they are just as likely to infuriate the Democratic base. Cries of “revenge” and “witch hunt” will be coming from the Democrats this time instead of Republicans. Markets will be caught in the crossfire.

How do these three storms — impeachment, the 2020 election and Spygate — converge to create the perfect storm?

By November 2019, the impeachment process should be well underway in the form of targeted House hearings. The 2020 Democratic debates (starting in June 2019) will be red-hot. Trump’s counterattacks on the FBI and CIA should be reaching a fever pitch based on real revelations and actual indictments.

The impeachment process and Trump’s revenge represent diametrically opposing views of what happened in 2016. The Democrats will continue to call Trump “unfit for office.” Trump will continue to complain that the Obama administration and the deep state conspired to derail and delegitimize him.

The 2020 candidates will have to take a stand (even though they may prefer to discuss policy issues). There will be nowhere to hide. The bitterness, rancor and leaking will be out of control.

Any one of these storms would create enough uncertainty for investors to sell stocks, raise cash and move to the sidelines. The combination of all three will make them run for the hills. That’s my warning to investors.

The next six months will present unprecedented challenges for investors. Markets will have to wrestle with fights over impeachment, election attacks and Spygate. Trump will be trying to improve his odds with Fed appointments and an end to the trade wars. Democrats will be trying to derail Trump with investigations, accusations and leaks.

Some of this will be normal political crossfire, but some of it will be deadly serious, including arrests of former senior government officials and revelations of an attempted coup aimed at the president.

A perfect storm with no name is coming. The only safe harbors will be gold, cash and Treasury notes. And make sure you have a life preserver handy.

Published:6/12/2019 9:56:30 AM
[Markets] What Comes After Trump – World War III?

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Those who are familiar with my articles would be aware that I am not given to catastrophism or alarmism. But perhaps the time has come to reflect on who will be president after Trump (whether after this or the next term) and what this will mean for relations with Russia and China.

What will the United States’ relations with Russia and China be like when the 46th president of the United States takes office in 2025? This is a question that I often ask myself, especially in light of Trump’s political choices regarding international arms-control treaties (INF Treaty), nuclear proliferation, economic war with China, a financial crisis that is artificially postponed thanks to QE, out-of-control military spending, an increasingly aggressive NATOstance towards the Russian Federation, and continuous provocations against the People’s Republic of China. Where will we end up with after another five years of provocations? For how much longer will Putin and Xi Jinping maintain the “strategic patience” not to respond to Washington with drastic measures?

Let us imagine we are in 2025

The four current global hot spots – Iran, Syria, Venezuela and DPRK – have maintained their resistance to Washington’s diktats and have emerged more or less victorious. Syrian territory in its entirety is now under the control of Damascus; Iran has established enough deterrents not to be attacked; Pyongyang continues in its negotiations with Washington as the reunification of the two Koreas continues along; the Bolivarian revolution still lives on in Venezuela.

Putin is preparing to leave the Russian Federation as president after 25 years. Xi Jinping could see his mandate expire in a few more years. Washington is about to appoint a new president, who in all probability will be the opposite of Trump, in the same way Obama was the opposite of Bush and Trump a reaction to Obama.

So let us imagine someone emerging in the Democratic Party completely committed to advancing the view of the US deep state and the military-industrial complex – someone like Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright or any of the 2019 Democratic candidates for the 2020 elections (the ones with anything to commend them do not count). Such a person would be committed to reinvigorating the idea of American exceptionalism following eight years of a Trump presidency that has mostly focused (the neocons notwithstanding) on domestic issues and the policy of “America First”.

Now let us think about what has been, and will be, dismantled internationally by Trump during his presidency, namely: the suspension of the INF Treaty and an indication not to extend the New START treaty (on nuclear-arms reduction), deployment of troops on the Russian border in Europe, sanctions, tariffs and economic terrorism of all kinds.

Ask yourself how likely it is that the next US president will want and be able to improve relations with Russia and China as well as accept a multipolar world order? The answer to that is zero, with the Trump presidency only serving to remind us how every administration remains under the control of the military, industrial, spy and media apparatus, expressed in liberal and neocon ideologies.

Trump has increased military spending considerably, singing the praises of the military-industrial complex and promising to modernize the country’s nuclear arsenal. Such a modernization would take two decades to be completed, a detail always omitted by the media. For Trump it is a case of “America First”. For the deep state the project is long term and ought to be far more alarming for the global community.

Russia, China and the US all appear committed to further militarization, with Russia and China strongly focussing on defending their strategic interests in the face of US aggression. Beijing will focus on building a large number of aircraft carriers to defend her maritime borders, while Moscow seeks to seal her skies against missiles and stealthy aircraft (a land campaign against Russia, as history teaches us, has little chance of success).

Experts predict that any great-power conflict in the near future may consist exclusively of conventional and/or nuclear missiles, combined with robotic technology, drones, artificial intelligence, cyber warfare, A2/ADhypersonic weapons and sabotage. In addition to nuclear weapons, the platforms from which they are launched, missiles and interceptors, a country’s computational power will be decisive, with quantum computers already a reality in China.

The US, China and Russia will no longer have any restrictions on the production of nuclear weapons after (absent any new negotiations or agreements to extend it) the New START treaty expires in 2025. The situation regarding cyberspace and near-earth space is certainly alarming, with no explicit treaties between the great powers being in place. The few agreements in force are routinely violated, especially with regard to near-earth vehicles, as Subrata Ghoshroy informs us when discussing the US X-37B military vehicle: ‘Backdoor weaponization of space?‘:

“Discussions about how to prevent an arms race in space started long ago; the UN Conference on Disarmament even started negotiations on a treaty, but the United States prevented it from going any further. And at the 2008 Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, China and Russia introduced an actual space arms control treaty, popularly known as the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space treaty (PAROS Treaty, 2012)”

Adding to this alarming situation is the growing US commitment to the doctrine of a preventive nuclear first strike. One wonders how much longer the world will be able to prevent itself from being bombed back to the Stone Age.

wrote an article in 2016 dismissing the possibility of a nuclear war as absurd and impossible. But while a lot has changed in the meantime, my opinion has not. Nevertheless, I struggle to understand how such an eventuality can be avoided when the US remains on a collision course with China and Russia.

Trump appears unwilling to go down in history as the president responsible for kicking off nuclear Armageddon. But what about the next president? The deep state in control of US politics would surely be able to place into office someone who would advance the final justification for a headlong confrontation with Moscow and Beijing.

If you think I am exaggerating, take Pompeo, a representative of the deep state, and his recent answer to the question of whether Trump was sent by God to save Israel from Iran. “As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible”, he responded. If the US elects someone influenced by the messianic vision of American exceptionalism, a vision that refuses to accept the realpolitik of multiple geopolitical poles and great-power competition, then hang on to your hats, for the chances of a nuclear winter will increase dramatically. Just remember that the alternative to Trump was Hillary Clinton, who was calling for a no-fly zone in Syria – that is, for the possibility of the US shooting down Russian fighter jets!

What would be needed if faced with such a presidency is a healthy, grass-roots internal opposition throughout Europe and the US. As things stand now, there is no longer an anti-war movement, the public disoriented by the mainstream media feeding them a constant stream of lies, misinformation and propaganda. Assange is unjustly imprisoned and Yemeni civilians are continuously bombed, and yet the media tells us that Julian works for the Kremlin, that Moscow wants to destabilize and destroy Europe, that China intends to subjugate the whole world, that Kim Jong-un is seeking the nuclearization of half of Asia, that Assad has massacred hundreds of thousands of civilians, that Saudi Arabia is a country undergoing full reform, and that al-Qaeda is fighting for freedom in Syria!

In such a current situation, truth is malleable, able to be fashioned and shaped according to the needs and requirements of the military-industrial complex, which needs justifications for its endless wars. The situation can only get worse over the next six years, with citizens less and less able to understand the world around them. The further advances in technology will only help governments and corporations to control information and decide what is right and wrong in a process of mass lobotomization. The Internet will hardly continue to be free, and even if it were to continue in its current state, the ability to offer counter-narratives will be limited by a lack of advertising revenue to expand businesses and reach more people for independent media platforms.

To avoid the possibility of nuclear annihilation we have to rely on the cool heads and leadership qualities of those who will succeed Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping (it is unclear when Xi Jinping will leave office).

Only those who assiduously keep themselves informed are able to appreciate the forbearance that the Sino-Russian leadership has and will continue to have in the face of continuing US provocations.

But what will happen when these two even-tempered leaders are no longer in power while the means to inflict a devastating blow to the US remain available to their successors? Will the same forbearance remain in the face of ongoing US provocations?

Moscow will be deploying all sorts of hypersonic weapons that the US cannot intercept, together with a hundred state-of-the-art Su-57 fighters. China will have about six to seven aircraft carriers, escorted by numerous destroyers, each with 112 vertical launch system (VLS) cells, hypersonic missiles, anti-satelliteand electromagnetic weapons.

The S-500 systems will be scattered throughout Russia (and presumably also in China and Belarus), armed with hypersonic interceptors. In addition to this conventional deterrence, the current Chinese and Russian nuclear arsenal is already capable of wiping out the US in the space of a few minutes.

Washington will continue to raise the temperature vis-a-vis China and Russia, even after Putin and Xi have left the office. It is therefore likely that their successors will come from their country’s most hawkish and intransigent wings.

In 2025 Putin and Xi will hopefully have succeeded in avoiding a conflict with the US through the skillful employment of diplomatic, economic and often military means, playing a moderating role that stands in contrast to that played by the West, which, not understanding this approach, brands it as extremist.

Imagine that the tensions between these three countries continues to steadily increase over the next five years at the same rate as it has over the last 10 years. How will the respective deep states of Russia and China react? Imagine in these two countries the appointment of two intransigent personalities ready to respond to US provocations.

Washington continues its inexorable decline relative to other powers as a result of the new multipolar reality, which evens out the distribution of geopolitical weight over a wider area of the global chessboard. We must hope, for the sake of humanity, that Washington’s decline will accelerate to such an extent under the Trump presidency that the US will be forced to focus instead on its own internal problems. Reaching such a point would require the collapse of the global economy that is based on the US dollar; but this is another story altogether that could also end in bloodshed.

Trump is appreciated by a part of the deep state for his efforts to reinvigorate Washington’s military-industrial complex by practically offering it a blank check. This is without considering Trump’s economic-financial assault on allies and enemies alike, which seems to be an attempt to squeeze the last drops out of any remaining advantage to the dollar-based system before it collapses.

The long-term plan of the US elites sometimes seems to be to provoke a great-power conflict in order to gain victory and then construct a new global financial order atop the rubble.

The selling of US government bonds by Russia, China and several other countries is an important indicator of global economic trends. The conversion of these securities into gold and other currencies is further confirmation of multipolarity. The IMF’s inclusion of the yuan in its basket of reserve currencies is a tangible example of the multipolar world in action and the diminishing power of the US. The sustainability of US public and private debt comes from investor confidence in US government bonds. The system hangs together through the willingness of investors to buy this trash printed by the Fed. The investors’ confidence lies not so much in the ability of the US to repay the debt but in its ability to use the most powerful military in the world to bully other countries into purchasing US securities that only serve to further fuel US imperialism.

Moscow and Beijing’s efforts to untangle themselves from this system is the way they will deny oxygen to the economic-military threat posed by Washington.

If the US deep state thinks it can squeeze out any last remaining benefits from the dollar system, collapse everything in a great-power conflagration, and then revive the US dollar system in a new form atop the rubble, then it is miscalculating terribly.

If my predictions regarding technological progress between now and 2025 are correct, with quantum computing and artificial intelligence and so on, then perhaps Moscow and Beijing will be able to avert this apocalypse with the clicks of a mouse thousands of miles away. Science fiction? Possibly. But who would have been able to imagine that Bashar al-Assad’s Syria would be capable, after six years of war, to repel 90% of the latest-generation missileslaunched by Israel? Technology has a democratizing effect.

If you think I am exaggerating, try reflecting on the fact that Washington has been at war almost every year since World War II, conducting clandestine operations in more than 50 countries and killing millions of civilians directly and indirectly, all the while having the world believe it is a blameless force for good on the side of truth and justice.

We live in a world based on lies. Without this reality changing in the foreseeable future, with the mainstream media continuing to keep much of the population disoriented and confused, then it is not too difficult to imagine the United States by 2025 pulling the rug out from under everybody’s feet through a great-power conflict, so as to build atop the debris a new, unchallengeable Pax Americana.

Published:6/11/2019 11:08:07 PM
[Markets] The FBI Tragedy: Elites Above The Law

Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via NationalReview.com,

After decades in the FBI, the top brass came to believe they could flout the law and pursue their own political agendas.

One of the media and beltway orthodoxies we constantly hear is that just a few bad apples under James Comey at the FBI explain why so many FBI elites have been fired, resigned, reassigned, demoted, or retired — or just left for unexplained reasons. The list is long and includes director James Comey himself, deputy director Andrew McCabe, counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, attorney Lisa Page, chief of staff James Rybicki, general counsel James Baker, assistant director for public affairs Mike Kortan, Comey’s special assistant Josh Campbell, executive assistant director James Turgal, assistant director for office of congressional affairs Greg Bower, executive assistant director Michael Steinbach, and executive assistant director John Giacalone. In short, in about every growing scandal of the past two years — FISA, illegal leaking, spying on a presidential candidate, lying under oath, obstructing justice — someone in the FBI is involved.

We are told, however, that the FBI’s culture and institutions are exempt from the widespread wrongdoing at the top. Such caution is a fine and fitting thing, given the FBI’s more than a century of public service. Nonetheless, many of those caught up in the controversies over the Russian-collusion hoax were not recent career appointees. Rather, many came up through the ranks of the FBI. And that raises the question, for example, of where exactly Peter Strzok (22 years in the FBI) learned that he had a right to interfere in a U.S. election to damage a candidate that he opposed.

And why would an Andrew McCabe (over 21 years in the FBI) think he had the duty to formulate an “insurance policy” to take out a presidential candidate? Or why would he even consider overseeing an FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s improper use of emails when his wife had been a recent recipient of Clinton-related PAC money? And why would McCabe contemplate leaking confidential FBI information to the press or even dream of setting up some sort of operation to remove a sitting president under the 25th Amendment? And how did someone like the old FBI vet Peter Strozk ever end up at the center of the entire mess — opening up the snooping on the Trump campaign while hiding that fact and while briefing the candidate on Russian interference in the election, interviewing Michael Flynn, preening as a top FBI investigator for Robert Mueller’s dream team, right-hand man of “Andy” McCabe, convincing Comey to change the wording of his writ in the Clinton-email-scandal investigation, softball coddling of Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, instrumental in the Papadopoulos investigation con — all the while conducting an affair with fellow FBI investigator and attorney Lisa Page and bragging about his assurance that the supposedly odious Trump would be prevented from being elected. If a group of Trump zealots were to call up the FBI tomorrow and allege that a member of Joe Biden’s family has had unethical ties with the Ukrainian or Chinese government, would that gambit “alarm” the FBI enough to prompt an investigation of Biden and his campaign? How many career-professional Peter Strozks are still at the agency?

In sum, why did so many top FBI officials, some with long experience in the FBI, exhibit such bad judgment and display such unethical behavior, characterized by arrogance, a sense of entitlement, and a belief that they were above both the law and the Constitution itself? Were they really just rogue agents, lawyers, and administrators, or are they emblematic of an FBI culture sorely gone wrong?

How and why would James Comey believe that as a private citizen he had the right to leak classified memos of presidential conversations that he had recorded on FBI time and on FBI machines?

Does the FBI inculcate behavior that prompts its officials to repeatedly testify under oath that they either don’t know or can’t remember - in a fashion that would earn an indictment for most similarly interrogated private citizens? Was Strozk’s testimony to the Congress emblematic of a career FBI agent in his full? Was Comey’s? Was McCabe’s?

To answer those questions, perhaps we can turn to an analogous example of special counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller. We are always advised something to the effect that the admirable Vietnam War veteran and career DOJ and FBI administrator Bob Mueller has a sterling reputation, and thus we were to assume that his special-counsel investigation would be free from political bias. To suggest otherwise was to be slapped down as a rank demagogue of the worse kind.

But how true were those beltway narratives? Mueller himself had a long checkered prosecutorial and investigative career, involving questionable decisions about the use of FBI informants in Boston, and overseeing absolutely false FBI accusations against an innocent suspect in the sensationalized anthrax case that began shortly after 9/11.

The entire Mueller investigation did not reflect highly either on Mueller or the number of former and current DOJ and FBI personnel he brought on to his team. In a politically charged climate, Mueller foolishly hired an inordinate number of political partisans, some of whom had donated to the Clinton campaign, while others had legally defended the Clinton Foundation or various Clinton and Obama aides. Mueller’s point-man Andrew Weissman was a known Clinton zealot with his own past record of suspect prosecutorial overreach.

Mueller did not initially disclose why FBI employees Lisa Page and Peter Strozk were taken off his investigative team, and he staggered their departures to suggest that their reassignments were normal rather than a consequence of the couple’s unprofessional personal behavior and their textual record of rank Trump hatred. Mueller’s very appointment was finessed by former FBI director and Mueller friend James Comey and was largely due to the hysteria caused by Comey’s likely felonious leaks of confidential and classified FBI memos — a fact of no interest to Mueller’s soon-to-be-expanded investigation.

During the investigation, Mueller was quite willing to examine peripheral issues such as the scoundrelly behavior of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and the inside lobbying of Paul Manafort for foreign governments. Fine. But Mueller was curiously more discriminating in his non-interest in crimes far closer to the allegations of Russian collusion. That is, he was certainly uninterested about how and when the basis for his entire investigation arose — the unverified and fallacious Steele dossier that had been deliberately seeded among the FBI, CIA, and DOJ to achieve official imprimaturs so it could then be leaked to the press to ruin the campaign, transition, and presidency of Donald Trump.

Mueller’s team also deliberately edited a phone message from Trump counsel John Dowd to Robert Kelner, General Michael Flynn’s lawyer, to make it appear incriminating and possibly unethical or illegal. Only after a federal judge ordered the full release of the transcript did the public learn the extent of Mueller’s selective and misleading cut-and-paste of Dowd’s message.

Mueller’s own explanations about the extent to which he was guided by the precedent of presidential exemption from indictment are at odds with his own prior statements and in conflict with what Attorney General Barr has reported from a meeting with Mueller and others. In those meetings, Mueller assured that he was after the truth and did not regard prior legal opinions about the illegality of indicting a sitting president as relevant to his own investigations. But when he essentially discovered he had no finding of collusion, he then mysteriously retreated to the previously rejected notion that he was powerless to indict Trump on a possible obstruction charge.

Mueller displayed further contortions when he recited a number of alleged Trump wrongdoings but then backed off by concluding that, while such evidence for a variety of different reasons did not justify an indictment of Trump, nonetheless Trump should not be exonerated of obstruction of justice.

Mueller thereby established a new but lunatic precedent in American jurisprudence in which a prosecutor who fails to find sufficient cause to indict a suspect nonetheless releases supposedly incriminating evidence, with a wink that the now-besmirched suspect cannot be exonerated of the alleged crimes. Think what Mueller’s precedent of not-not-guilty would do to the American criminal-justice system, as zealous prosecutors might fish for just enough dirt on a suspect to ruin his reputation, but not find enough for an indictment, thereby exonerating their own prosecutorial failure by defaming a “guilty until proven innocent” suspect.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that Mueller’s team knew early on in their investigation that his lead investigators Peter Strzok and Lisa Page had been correct in their belief that there was “no there there” in the charges of collusion — again the raison d’être of their entire investigation.

Yet Mueller’s team continued the investigation, aggregating more than 200 pages of unverified or uncorroborated news accounts, online essays, and testimonies describing all sorts of alleged unethical behavior and infelicities by Trump and his associates, apparently in hopes of compiling their own version of something like the Steele dossier. Mueller sought to publish a compendium of Trump bad behavior that fell below the standard of criminal offense but that would nonetheless provide useful fodder for media sensationalism and congressional partisan efforts to impeach the now supposedly not-not guilty president.

Note again, at no time did Muller ever investigate the Steele dossier that had helped to create his existence as special counsel, much less whether members of the FBI and DOJ had misled a FISA court by hiding critical information about the dossier to obtain wiretaps of American citizens, texts that Mueller himself would then use in his effort to find criminal culpability.

We were told throughout the 22-month investigation that “Bob Mueller does not leak.” But almost on a weekly schedule, left-wing cable news serially announced in formulaic fashion that “the walls were closing in on” and the “noose was tightening around” Trump as another “bombshell” disclosure was anticipated, according to “sources close to the Mueller investigation,” “unnamed sources,” and “sources who chose to remain unidentified.” On one occasion, CNN reporters mysteriously showed up in advance at the home of a Mueller target, to capture on camera the arrival of paramilitary-like arresting officers.

When it is established beyond a doubt that foreign surveillance of and contact with George Papadopoulos was used to entrap a minor Trump aide as a means of providing an ex post facto justification for the earlier illegal FBI and CIA surveillance of the Trump campaign, and when it is shown without doubt that Steele had little if any corroborating evidence for his dirty dossier, Mueller’s reputation unfortunately will be further eroded.

Yet the question is not merely whether a Comey, McCabe, or Mueller is atypical of the FBI. Rather, where in the world, if not from the culture of the FBI, did these elite legal investigators absorb the dangerous idea that FBI lawyers and investigators could flout the law and in such arrogant fashion use their vast powers of the government to pursue their own political agendas? And why was there no internal pushback at a supercilious leadership that demonstrably had gone rogue? Certainly, the vast corpus of the Strzok-Page correspondence does reflect a unprofessional, out-of-control culture at the FBI.

Just imagine: If an agent Peter Strozk interviewed you and overstepped his purview, would you, the aggrieved, then appeal to his boss, Andrew McCabe? And if Andrew McCabe ignored your complaint, would you, the wronged, then seek higher justice from a James Comey, who in turn might rely on a legal opinion from a Lisa Page or a brief from a James Baker? And failing that, might a Robert Mueller as an outside auditor rectify prior FBI misconduct?

Fairly or not, the current FBI tragedy is that an American citizen should be duly worried about his constitutional rights any time he is approached by such senior FBI officials. That is not a slur on the rank and file, but the legacy of the supposed best and brightest of the agency and their distortions of the bureau’s once professional creed.

*  *  *

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Published:6/11/2019 9:29:36 PM
[688cdb39-eda9-585a-bd0d-e2987458f87e] David Axelrod: Biden is playing into Trump's caricature of being 'weak mentally' Former Obama advisor David Axelrod expressed his concerns that former Vice President Joe Biden is "playing into the the caricature" made by President Trump that has questioned the Democratic frontrunner's fitness to lead.  Published:6/11/2019 8:20:14 PM
[Entertainment] Sasha Obama graduates from high school with presidential parents looking on Sasha Obama is 18 with a high school diploma, after graduating from Sidwell Friends School in Washington as her parents and sister watched.
      
Published:6/11/2019 7:27:40 PM
[Politics] Obama EPA Head: Tired of Hearing Trump EPA Helps Manufacturers

President Obama's former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency complained in a congressional hearing about the direction the agency had taken under the Trump administration, especially as those changes relate to the growing U.S. economy.

The post Obama EPA Head: Tired of Hearing Trump EPA Helps Manufacturers appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:6/11/2019 3:47:50 PM
[Issues] One Year After Death of Net Neutrality, the Internet Still Works

On the one year anniversary of the repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules, the internet and our access to it has not changed all that much, to the surprise of some. Ajit Pai, the Trump-appointed chairman of the FCC, issued the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which took effect on June 11, 2018. The order rolled ...

The post One Year After Death of Net Neutrality, the Internet Still Works appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:6/11/2019 11:48:04 AM
[Markets] Biden To Label Trump An 'Existential Threat' During Cane-Shaking Campaign Stop In Iowa

Joe Biden plans to label President Trump as an "existential threat" to the nation during a Tuesday campaign stop in Iowa, according to Fox Newsciting Biden's prepared remarks. Trump, meanwhile, will also be in Iowa for his own rally.

"You know, Donald Trump and I are both in Iowa today. It wasn’t planned that way, but I hope Trump’s presence here will be a clarifying event," Biden will say. 

"I believe Trump is an existential threat to America," the former VP will add. 

Biden will focus on how tariffs are reportedly affecting middle America: 

"America’s farmers have been crushed by his tariff war with China. No one knows that better than Iowa," adding of Trump "He thinks he’s being tough. Well, it’s easy to be tough when someone else is feeling the pain."

The former VP will then ask: "how many farmers across this state and across this nation have had to face the prospect of losing their business, of losing their farm because of Trump’s tariffs?"

Spotlighting the anxiety he said farmers are feeling, Biden will ask “how many have had to stare at the ceiling at night wondering how they’re going to make it? How many sleepless nights do you think Trump has had over what he’s doing to America’s farmers?

Answering his own question, the former vice president plans to say “just as many as he had when he stiffed the construction workers and electricians and plumbers who built his hotels and casinos. Zero.” And questioning why the president “just backed off his tariff threat with Mexico because he got some tough new deal,” Biden will say “maybe there’s some secret development yet to be revealed— but based on what we know, it seems more like old wine in new bottles.” -Fox News

Will Biden will talk about how many coal workers the Obama administration put out of work while he was Vice President? 

According to the released remarks, Biden will also argue "the truth is he’s scared – his economic folks told him his tough talk was about to cost to him Michigan and Ohio and Iowa."

Perhaps Biden should run on a Make America Bow Again platform? 

The biggest question, however, is whether the former VP can get through the 2020 election without any more major gaffes...

Published:6/11/2019 10:57:04 AM
[Markets] All Americans Have Blood On Their Hands

Authored by Robert Scheer via TruthDig.com,

Shortly after Truthdig columnist Danny Sjursen left the Army, where he spent 18 years on active duty and rose to the rank of major, he sat down with Editor in Chief Robert Scheer for an interview about life after the military and a discussion about the conclusions he drew throughout his military career. Sjursen, who attended West Point and did several tours in the Middle East, including Iraq and Afghanistan, opened up to Scheer about how leaving the institution where he spent most of his adult life has allowed him to finally be completely frank about his experiences, in his columns as well as in his recent book, “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.”

“I’d like to think that I was always bold on active duty,” Sjursen tells Scheer in the latest installment of 'Scheer Intelligence', “but the reality is that I was censoring myself. You know, there is a degree of fear and harassment, and it’s very passive-aggressive stuff. But the book was a labor of love [that] tears apart the notion of American exceptionalism that brought us to Iraq, to a folly.”

Now, as Sjursen pursues a Ph.D and a career as a writer while adapting to his new life and grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder, the former soldier is still profoundly troubled by his experiences at war, not only as he led soldiers to their deaths, but also as he watched U.S. forces devastate Iraq and Afghanistan. Although he went to Iraq thinking the trouble with the war was the way it was being fought, he left with a very different impression of the conflict.

“What I saw happen to the Iraqi people [haunted me more] than what happened to my soldiers,” Sjursen says.

“Not only the bodies in the street, not only the civil war that was being waged, but I found that more than 90% of the very friendly Iraqis... Sunni and Shia, they all told me that life was better under Saddam. ... That was a big turning point, when I started to say, ‘Wait a second. You know, forget about fighting the war poorly; we shouldn’t be fighting this war at all.’ ”

Recounting the many ways the U.S. created worse conditions for Iraqis after the death of Saddam, Sjursen explains that the nearly half a million Iraqis who have died since the early 2000s were not killed directly by American soldiers, but by the unleashing of a “Pandora’s box of sectarian civil war in what was once a secular society.” The war in Afghanistan, while fought under different pretenses, was no less brutal or foolish than the Iraq War, in Sjursen’s eyes.

The reality is, any chance of victory in Afghanistan was over the minute - and this only took weeks - the minute after we switched from a counterterrorism strategy, a surgical, law enforcement-type attack on the al-Qaida system - the minute we switched from that to nation-building, counterinsurgency and occupation, the war was already lost.

But the blood on Sjursen’s hands, which he remains conscious of long after his last deployment, is on all Americans’ hands, as the Truthdig columnist points out. And with no end in sight to what have been dubbed our “forever wars,” it’s unlikely we’ll be able to wash our hands clean of these ongoing tragedies any time soon.

Listen to Sjursen and Scheer as they talk about everything from WikiLeaks to the accumulating failures of America’s leaders, at home and abroad. You can also read a transcript of the interview below the media player and find past episodes of “Scheer Intelligence” here.

-Introduction by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

Robert Scheer: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of “Scheer Intelligence,” where the intelligence comes from my guests. In this case, it’s someone–this is sort of the second part of an interview that began, oh, months ago, when Major Danny Sjursen was active duty in the Army. And he had spent 18 years of his life, ever since signing up at West Point–being admitted at West Point, a kid from Staten Island, a basically poor, working-class background. A lot of firemen and cops in his community and family. And affected by 9/11, the attack on the World Trade Center. But he went to West Point before 9/11. And people just thought, well, you know, god, they’re letting poor kids in there now, because the congressmen and the bankers, they don’t want their children to grow up to be lieutenants or even majors; he became a major eventually. So the military academy is actually more merit-based now than it might have once been. And so welcome, Major Sjursen. How are you?

Danny Sjursen: Oh, I’m great. Thanks for having me again, Bob.

RS: OK. And the reason I wanted to talk to you today is that, first of all, it’s two months now since you’ve been an active duty major. It’s something you’ve done, I’m sure, your whole life, adult life. And you were a lieutenant, you were in Iraq for a year and a half or so; you were in Afghanistan, and you were deployed other times. How many times were you deployed?

DS: Ah, just two combat deployments and then some short tours for–

RS: Yeah, but in many other countries and so forth–

DS: Of course, yeah, absolutely.

RS: And you’re a father of two children; you’ve had an interesting life. And you wrote a book about the surge in Iraq called “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.” And it’s a really terrific book that people can get, if they want to go online or find some bookstore that has it. And what it really—you know, I was going to start with something from the book, and you can help me here. It was a quote from Graham Greene: “Innocence is a kind of insanity.” Graham Greene, the great writer, great novelist. And he wrote “The Quiet American,” which is about innocence as a form of [insanity], how we got involved in Vietnam. And your book is really an unmasking of the conceit of innocence. Somehow Americans go off to war, they’re always intending to do good, they’re always going to make it a better world. And generally, they screw it up horribly, with very few rare exceptions. And that’s really the thesis here, isn’t it? And so why don’t you give us that overall view. And are you bolder in that view now that you’re not active duty, that you’re out of the military for the first time in 18 years? How does it feel?

DS: It feels good. I’d like to think that I was always bold on active duty, but the reality is that I was censoring myself. You know, there is a degree of fear and harassment, you know, and it’s very passive-aggressive stuff. But you know, the book was a labor of love. It started out as an essay, an angry essay that I wrote to Senator Lindsey Graham because I didn’t like something he said on C-SPAN, and it became a book. But you’re right that there are sort of the—the theme of innocence runs through it. And it’s two tracks; it’s my own innocence as someone who was, you know, naive enough to believe not only that the Iraq War might be valuable and necessary, but also that the military was just ultimately a force for good in the world. But the other innocence is a collective, national innocence. Only such a collective, national innocence that borders on insanity, as the quote says, could have allowed us to invade Iraq. Probably the catastrophic blunder of the 21st century, if not even larger than that. And I don’t even think we understand the scale of what a disaster we’ve created, because the aftershocks are–they’re sometimes worse than the initial earthquake. And we haven’t seen the last of it. So the book is an unmasking of my own innocence, which very quickly was rattled. By my third or fourth month in Iraq, I was anti-war. I mean, I was posting anti-war poems from World War I on the door to my room in Iraq, you know, provocatively. My little protest, you know, before I was told to pull them down. But you know, that’s what the book does. It tears apart the notion of American exceptionalism that brought us to Iraq, to a folly.

RS: The day that Julian Assange was arrested, you know, in the Ecuadorian Embassy, and they hauled him out of there. And you know, he’s been charged, and the charge is conspiring to commit computer intrusion. And what they’re doing is basically getting him on something they think they can nail him on; they don’t want to, this is his helping Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning, and be able to crack a computer code preventing entry into some data trove. But they didn’t—but at that moment in time, Bradley Manning had already released a million documents. They were fairly low-level secrecy; you can discuss that. But really, very revealing information, unquestionably, in my mind, that the public had a right to know, and a need—a need to know. Including how we shot up civilians, and so forth. And one reason why I wanted particularly to do this interview with you today is, you know, when people release these secrets, they’re always told they’re putting the troops in harm’s way. And you’re not, you’re dishonoring and threatening the troops. Well, you were a young lieutenant at that point, or had been a few years before. You were involved in the surge. And the documents that Chelsea Manning released really affected the kinds of activities you were in. You were in constant patrol in Baghdad, one end to the other, with your unit of what, 20 soldiers?

DS: Yeah, give or take, 20 soldiers.

RS: Half of whom ended up being killed or seriously injured, some of whom committed suicide. And I want to ask you, as the grunt on the ground—now, you were a lieutenant; you were a West Point graduate. You end up later in life teaching at West Point; you end up being a major before your retirement two months ago. But what did you think about that release of documents by Manning through WikiLeaks?

DS: You know, I had a very provocative view of it, in the sense that I thought it was a national service that he’d, you know, that he’d committed. My peers were horrified. They believed the myth that the troops were put in harm’s way by what he released, which was patently false. The people who were doing harm to the troops were the people who were lying, the people who were creating the secrecy. That’s what damaged the troops: the people that brought us to Iraq. One of the things that was most staggering for me was, in that million documents that then-Bradley Manning released, what there was was this evidence that we, the soldiers on the ground, knew that we were policing an internal, sectarian civil war. So in 2006 and ’07, dozens and sometimes hundreds of civilians would kill one another, right? Sunni versus Shia, in the middle of the night. And in the morning, we would gather the bodies and count them and report them. But that was all classified, at a low level; just secret, not top secret or anything. But at the same time that was going on, when we were using the words “civil war,” when we were witnessing a civil war, our leaders–General Casey, who was at the time the commander of multinational forces in Iraq, and senior defense officials, Rumsfeld, et cetera—they were telling the press, no, it’s not a civil war. We won’t use the words “civil war.” And I think largely that’s because they did not want to admit to the chaos that had broken out, that we had lost control, if we ever had it. That we had patently, forever, lost control of Baghdad. And of, really, the whole country, but especially the capital city. And you know, I was offended by that lie, because I lived the civil war. You know, I lived the multipronged war, where they were both attacking us and attacking each other. And that the country was both literally and figuratively on fire in late 2006, and I was offended by the lie. And I thought it was a brave decision. And, of course, whistleblowers were out of fashion, as you said earlier today, Bob. And obviously, he was crucified–she–and was given a 30-year sentence. And my peers thought that was just about right. Some of them thought, you know, she should have been executed.

RS: “She” being Chelsea Manning. And Julian Assange published these documents. And Washington Post, The Guardian, the British paper, papers all over the world, printed them. And interestingly enough, Julian Assange is not in the position that Daniel Ellsberg was in when he released the Pentagon Papers, a trove of—a history study, really; you’re a historian, I should point out you’re about to get your doctorate. The military sent you to graduate school in preparation of being an instructor at West Point. And now you’re at the end of your dissertation, and will be doctor, Dr. Danny Sjursen, in a couple of months. And the really interesting thing here is who controls history, who controls knowledge, who controls truth and true news? And fake news is really, in a way, the norm, it seems to me, if we talk about Vietnam, we talk about Iraq, and so forth. And without the whistleblowers, we don’t even get a crack—a crack there where the light can come through. But you were on the ground, and when you talk about it being—I mean, look, after all, we had supposedly gone to Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction; that was a lie. And it was a lie that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11; he didn’t. You know, and another lie is that somehow this was a backward country with no redeeming virtue–well, we managed to make it a far more unlivable, miserable country than it had ever been. Why don’t you talk—you got an education there. And now you’re in this, even though you’re going to be Dr. Danny Sjursen, you hopefully will be successful as a writer about history and a professor. And you, you know, you’re honorably discharged as a major from the military. But you’re a deeply troubled person by what you saw and experienced. Why don’t you—I mean, tell us the consequence, not just for you, but also for the Iraqi people.

DS: You know, I got there with just a little bit of idealism left. I had read Thomas Ricks’ “Fiasco,” so I was aware of the failures early in the war. But I think, at the time, I was in the mainstream of military officers, in the sense that I thought the war was being fought poorly, but I did not necessarily think that the war was wrong in itself. And, of course, I quickly came to believe that it was. And the best way, Bob, to talk about it is, you know, what I saw happen to the Iraqi people. Because more, believe it or not, than what happened to my soldiers, that haunted me. Not only the bodies in the street, not only the civil war that was being waged, but I found that more than 90% of the very friendly Iraqis–not attacking us, as far as I knew, you know; talking to me, drinking chai with me, thousands of them. And they all started telling me—Sunni and Shia, OK, and Saddam had been pretty brutal to the Shia—but Sunni and Shia, they all told me that life was better under Saddam. And they would say, we like you just fine; you’re a nice guy. But we want you out of here. I mean, look what you’ve done. You know, this is why we can’t have nice things. I mean, they really thought we had destroyed their country. Because we had. We had. So for me, that was a big turning point, when I started to say, “Wait a second. You know, forget about fighting the war poorly; we shouldn’t be fighting this war at all.” We’ve brought disaster–to the tune, now, most estimates, half a million dead, right. Mostly civilians, in Iraq. Did we—you know, we didn’t directly kill all of them. But we unleashed the Pandora’s box of sectarian civil war in what was once a secular society. Men and women holding hands, drinking in cafes—that’s all over with now. People get their heads cut off for less. That really shocked me. And then, of course, there was the idealism of my soldiers, who, you know, they were just fighting for each other, as the cliché goes. But it’s true.

RS: A serious student of the course—are we not up against the incompatibility of empire and republic? We were founded as a republic. As a historian, you know, we began to betray that promise from the day of our founding, or even before, when we were striving to be an independent country. What about this tension? Where are we now in empire land? And isn’t, really, this what the whistleblowers have been revealing, the consequence of empire?

DS: There are precious few whistleblowers about military issues, as you mentioned. And that is a shame, because what Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Chelsea Manning should be is a splash of cold water, a bucket of cold water, on the face of the collective American people. And yet it’s not, for the most part. We’re willing to accept what our military does in our name. We’re willing to accept that the United States has a system where the president is essentially a dictator in foreign policy. You’re right that it’s the only institution where we do not, you know, expect whistleblowers to provide that check, that truth that you mentioned. And it’s very, very disturbing. The bottom line is, you know, from a historical perspective, to answer your question, we are—we are long, long down the road of this empire. I mean, absolutely, far down that road. The republic, the ostensible republic, is dying. And empires tend, not only does it not end well when the empire comes home—as it always does; the empire always comes home, Britain, Rome, you name it. These countries on the way out, on the decline, that’s when they act the most absurd. Things go really poorly. They do not behave well. And what you’re looking at today is a United States of America that is not behaving well in the world, because it is in, you know, the twilight of its empire. And it may take a long time before the empire collapses, but in the interim, we are going to act poorly. And as long as we have an all-volunteer force, as long as a, you know, a select half of a percent—the other 1%, as I like to call them. As long as we give it out to a military caste, and it doesn’t Main Street, especially in the wealthy communities, then this will continue indefinitely, and America will continue to behave badly, as the empires often historically do.

RS: In what sense are we an empire? Because some people think, “Oh, you’re just throwing around rhetoric.” Now, we do happen to live in a time when more people are open to the possibility that something has gone awry, because Donald Trump is president, and he has the aura of an emperor. And, you know, the whole notion of, his notion of American greatness is a notion of power over others, and being able to dictate and fire lesser people, and dictate the terms of agreements, and they’ll do this, they’ll pay for the wall, these Mexicans, and the Chinese will bow to our will, and et cetera, et cetera. So we actually have an [emperor], but most people blame that on Julian Assange, or many people do, or on WikiLeaks, or something. They don’t seem to want to come to grips with the idea that maybe, maybe Trump is the man for the time of empire. And this is what emperors do, and sometimes they’re a little bit wacky, and sometimes they’re a little bit out of control, or more so. In what sense are we—you’re a historian; in what sense is this accurate labeling?

DS: You know, we—we are an empire. And I’m going to explain why, and then I’m going to talk about Trump a little. I have a complex relationship with my old commander in chief, my old chum. You know, we have 800 military bases in 80 countries; on any given day, we are bombing at least seven countries, some days more, if there’s something going on in Africa. We have a defense budget as large as the next seven countries’ combined. We have, you know, the majority of the world’s aircraft carriers, 10 times more than the Russians and the Chinese. We have divided the planet into regional commands—CENTCOM, Northcom, Southcom—where our four-star generals in charge of these commands are essentially Roman proconsuls, right? Ruling over—and much more powerful than our diplomats. Our diplomats are not taken seriously anymore; it’s the military that gets the business done. And you know, finally, we are unique. We are exceptional. Exceptional in the sense that we are the most imperial of all the places on the planet. Because there are 77 total foreign bases split between all the other 200 countries of the world, and we have some 800. So yes, certainly, we’re are an empire, by any stretch of the imagination. Now, our people, ironically, like to think we’re not. But you’re right that people are becoming a little more open to that. Now, Trump is—I think you’re correct—the reason why people are starting to accept that we might be an empire. But I would argue that Trump is not such an anomaly. He is a man for his times. You know, the question you have to ask in America, when it comes to the popularity contest that we call the presidential election every four years—that entertaining bit, right, of the blue team and the red team–you have two choices. And you will always have two choices. And the choice in the two major parties is between, do you like coarse emperors? Do you want your empire to be coarse and absurd and a little bit buffoonish? Or do you like your empire and your emperors to be polite? Because Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would have been polite emperors. But the reality is, if anything, Donald Trump questions the empire at times—doesn’t always follow through—more than a Barack Obama, more than a Hillary Clinton or a George W. Bush or a Bill Clinton, for that matter. I mean, the question is not whether we’re an empire; it’s how do you like your imperialism? And you have two choices. Well, “liberal,” in quotes, society prefers polite emperors. And so they try to get them elected, and they can’t accept that a coarse emperor, like Donald Trump, is currently in charge.

RS: Well, one of those polite emperors was Lyndon Johnson. In fact, most of the more aggressive emperors have been Democrats, but put that aside for a minute. And then you’re raising an interesting question: Is this debate really over manners? Because, after all, Lyndon Johnson—and then came Richard Nixon—but together, I think a conservative figure would be that 4 or 5 million people lost their lives. Maybe more, certainly whole societies were disrupted. Certainly Barack Obama, to take the most pleasant of our emperors, if we’re going to use that language, you know, every morning would decide who to fire a drone attack on. Maybe it’s a wedding, maybe it’s a family living somewhere. And you served, in your 18 years in the military, under mild-mannered emperors and under more aggressive and buffoonish emperors. What was the difference on the ground?

DS: There was almost none. Certainly under George W. Bush we pursued more conventional military means. So there were more soldiers on the ground; there were more tours, right. Because there was more people there, therefore you deployed slightly more often. But what we were doing—

RS: But not as much as under Lyndon Johnson.

DS: No, no. By no means as much as under Lyndon Johnson. And of course, in reality, what we were doing on the ground was precisely the same. I mean, we were bringing instability, and we were dealing death. Usually from above, with the polite people like, you know, Barack Obama. He preferred the, you know, that killing. And it’s a myth. I mean, the myth that this is somehow a controlled killing, it’s precision-guided—of course, it’s not, it never is, and it probably never will be. But the big answer to your question is, very little changed on the ground for those of us carrying water for the empire, whether we had George W. Bush or Barack Obama or even Donald Trump.

RS: Well, spell that out, because most of us are not on the ground. In my own situation as a journalist, I’ve been parachuted into a few war zones, and can sense the mayhem. And some of my colleagues stayed much longer; I’m not going to take that away from them. But still, we are voyeurs to violence. You were dealing violence, right? And you were receiving, on the receiving end of violence. You know, this is not a video game. Most of us accept war as a video game now. The [thing] about the drone attacks, we see somebody in Omaha killing somebody in Baghdad or someplace, and we assume they’re accurate, we assume they know what they’re doing. That’s what Barack Obama did, right? He approved every one of those. What’s the reality on the ground?

DS: The reality on the ground is much different. It’s much more brutal, it’s much more of what you’d expect of a conventional war. I’ll give you one really good example that I think demonstrates this. During the, quote, surge in Iraq of 2007, when we put all these extra soldiers on the ground, and we flooded the neighborhoods, and we lived among the Iraqis, and we fought every day, and we received and dealt violence—you know, that was a George W. Bush thing. And many of us, like myself, were naive enough to believe that when a Democrat won—and I liked Obama at the time—that it would change. That we would no longer think that we can fix these societies, and unzip the American inside every Arab, or inside every Afghan–that that would change. But it did not. Because Barack Obama applied that very same model to Afghanistan, and we had ourselves a surge there. This was the Obama surge. And the reality is, the figures leading these surges didn’t change at all. Because Petraeus was the commander of both surges, at least after Stanley McChrystal was fired. So it’s the same folks doing the same things, going on the same inane patrols, trying to secure or pacify or win the hearts and minds–you pick. But it usually means use violence in order to convert them to our way of life, or whatever we perceive to be our way of life. And unlock the American inside each of them. So no, it didn’t change very much at all. Barack Obama’s surge in Afghanistan was equally as brutal and equally as wasteful as George W. Bush’s. And if we are to have another surge, and it’s the favorite tool now of generals, you can be sure that under Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton, if she had won, it’ll be largely the same.

RS: So you—we haven’t talked much about Afghanistan. Iraq made no sense whatsoever. But the argument somehow, because we—9/11 had been launched at least logistically from Afghanistan, the planes that flew into the World Trade Center—that that was defensible. And we have an image—in order to do all this, the mannered style requires, you know, that the enemy be defined as thoroughly loathsome. Another Hitler, in the case of Saddam Hussein; the analogies have to be there so there’s no possibility of negotiation. The irony in Afghanistan, where you spent quite a bit of time in a very dangerous situation, is we’re actually now—Donald Trump, amazingly, is accepting, negotiating with the Taliban. Something that could have been done, you know, weeks after 9/11. I mean, you know, who are these Taliban? What was the—how did they get there, how did fanaticism come to Afghanistan, which was not a center of Islamic fanaticism? Mostly paid for by Saudi Arabia; 15 of the hijackers were traveling on legal papers from Saudi Arabia. You know, so suddenly—wait a minute, we can talk to the Taliban? You had a lot of familiarity. What was Afghanistan all about?

DS: Well, Afghanistan is, you know, what Barack Obama called the “good” war. Remember, he was selling us the idea during the campaign in 2007 and ’08, that there’s a bad war—the stupid war, in Iraq—and then there’s the good war, the one that we have to win. The reality is any chance of victory in Afghanistan was over the minute—and this only took weeks—the minute after we switched from a counterterrorism strategy, a surgical, law enforcement-type attack on the al-Qaida system—the minute we switched from that to nation-building, counterinsurgency and occupation, the war was already lost. And you’re right that it’s going to end—I promise you, it is going to end with a negotiated settlement, and the Taliban will still have their guns and will still be a force of essentially militiamen. And they might take over half the country, or maybe the whole thing. And you’re right that that could have, that negotiation could have been done from a position of more strength, mind you, in December of ’01, or in February of ’02. And we would have had the same thing. And you know, this happened in Vietnam as well; Richard Nixon prolongs the war for four or five years, and then he actually accepts terms that are about the same that were on offer from the North Vietnamese, you know, in January of 1969. Now, in the interim, I think the number, if I’m not mistaken, is 20,532 American soldiers died, more than a third of our casualties coming after it was no longer necessary, if it ever was. The same has happened in Afghanistan. In this case, 95 to 98% of the Americans who died, and an equal number of Afghans, who we often forget about, died after that moment when the war was no longer winnable. And the war will end with those same terms that would have been on offer, maybe even better terms would have been on offer when the Taliban had first been knocked out of power. And that’s the ultimate tragedy of this, is that everyone who died in the interim, that blood is very specifically on our hands.

RS: I want to end this on a point you may not agree with. But it’s I guess sort of the main, [Laughs] maybe the only significant—and I don’t know why I’m laughing, because I took some risks to learn this; I went to some dangerous areas. Not like you, for 18 years, but. And what came to me was an overwhelming sense of the stupidity of the very smart people who were in charge. Whether I was sitting at some high-ranking diplomat’s house; whether I was talking to a general who had also, not always had a Ph.D, but a good education. Basically, I was talking to people—Halberstam captured it with the title, “The Best and the Brightest”—who could present well. Again, manners; they weren’t buffoons, they were reasonable, and so forth. And yet, when I would have these conversations, it was informed by an idiocy, an unawareness. So, for example, in Vietnam, they would talk about the people, and I would say, “But the guy you put in power here–it wasn’t just ’69 they could have had peace.” They could have had peace with Ho Chi Minh after the Second World War, when he quoted the U.S. Declaration of Independence and was a nationalist who wanted—they could have had peace when he defeated the French. No! We picked a Roman Catholic from New York state, who was in a monastery in New York state, Vietnamese refugee, and we said he’s going to be the George Washington of his country. Ignoring the fact that the Catholics, who had been brought in by French colonial education, represented only 10% of the country. This is what Graham Greene wrote about. So, stupidity, you know. And then you look at the whole course of it, and a myth that somehow this is an extension of communism and China and—it wasn’t anything of the sort. We lose the war, and the Vietnamese communists and Chinese communists go to war with each other. OK? And now they’re going to war to fill the shelves of Costco or Walmart with different products. And something very similar happened in Iraq, happened in Afghanistan. It’s the same kind of, you know—we honor these leaders of our military as—and you taught at West Point. That’s why I’m putting the question to you. And you’re a very smart guy, you know, and yet, why don’t they learn from this? And my own explanation is because they’re not subject to a critical environment. And they’re not held accountable. And I’m bringing it back to Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. When we get these documents, like the Pentagon Papers that Daniel Ellsberg released, we realize if they only read their own memos, if they only talked honestly to each other, they would know this. There wasn’t—everything they had to know was in the Pentagon Papers. Their own document. Right? And what we’ve learned from the WikiLeaks—if they would just have studied what Chelsea Manning, Bradley Manning released through Julian Assange, and just read those things—that were published in newspapers, Washington Post, The Guardian—they would have known, they would know how idiotic the whole enterprise is. So when you were brought back to West Point, and when you were sent by the Army to go get your doctorate, you’re an intelligent guy, you’ve paid your dues, they had you marked to be a general, you made it up to be a major. What happened when you tried to speak in reasonable terms to these fellow officers? And I know you just came from a conference a few weeks ago where there were some at least two-star generals, and important colonels. What is it like talking to them?

DS: You know, the best and the brightest have failed us again. And I’m glad that you used that term. The reality is that most of the general officers and most of the colonels are not in a critical environment; they’re not in an environment that, you know, wants dissent or wants critical thinking. I mean, they’re surrounded in a bubble by sycophants. I mean, that’s how they are raised up through the ranks in the Army; they don’t get a lot of criticism from above, below or laterally. It’s a very hierarchical structure. And it is stupidity. I mean, flat-out. The truncated nature of their thinking, I mean, it’s so narrow. And it is almost childish. I mean, their view of Islamism as the new communism, which is the new Nazism—I mean, that sort of thinking, it’s absolutely, it’s ludicrous. And yet it’s the, it’s the norm, right, it’s the consensus among the people that I served with, and among the policymakers, who are often worse, often more hawkish. You know, the “chicken hawks” like John Bolton. But they have failed you again, and they will fail you in the future. And there are very, very few critical-thinking officers who are able to get outside of that box and say, “The question isn’t are we doing this well, the question is should it be done at all—can it be done at all?” And if the answer is no, it’s time to speak up. And it’s time to give your military advice, and if necessary, resign.

RS: And, well, you’re no longer in the military. I don’t know where the next Danny Sjursen’s going to come from. But if you want to really have a sense of what it’s like to be on the ground in one of these wars that we treat as video games—and most of us, because we don’t have a draft, don’t really have to think about it, even though the country is being bankrupted by it. And we often commit genocide, war crimes and what have you. That’s what Julian Assange, for my money, revealed, and Bradley Manning. Check out the book, “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.” Because the surge is held up, and will be held up in Afghanistan and so forth, as the saving grace. And then people like Barack Obama were criticized because they didn’t have another surge, or didn’t do more killing on that level. And check it out. Danny Sjursen, I want to thank you for doing this. It’s—it’s just so, to me, so depressing that there’s like 15 truth-tellers that we’ve had about our wars, from Daniel Ellsberg up to Danny Sjursen. You got to ask yourself some tough questions about why we, the citizens of this modern Rome, with a great deal of freedom and a great deal of arrogance about our power as individuals, are letting the empire drag us into these disasters and ultimately destroy the republic. But that’s it for this edition of “Scheer Intelligence.” Our engineers at KCRW in Santa Monica are Mario Diaz and Kat Yore. Joshua Scheer is the producer of this show. And a special shout-out to Sebastian Grubaugh, the brilliant sound engineer here at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, who holds this whole thing together. And you know, yes, we have General Petraeus on the faculty, but we also heard from [Major] Danny Sjursen, presenting a very different view than that of Petraeus. So let it go at that, see you next week.

Published:6/10/2019 11:12:57 PM
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The agency hasn't always thought so.

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[Markets] Tulsi Gabbard Pushes No War Agenda... And The Media Is Out To Kill Her Chances

Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Voters looking ahead to 2020 are being bombarded with soundbites from the twenty plus Democratic would-be candidates. That Joe Biden is apparently leading the pack according to opinion polls should come as no surprise as he stands for nothing apart from being the Establishment favorite who will tirelessly work to support the status quo.

The most interesting candidate is undoubtedly Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who is a fourth term Congresswoman from Hawaii, where she was born and raised. She is also the real deal on national security, having been-there and done-it through service as an officer with the Hawaiian National Guard on a combat deployment in Iraq. Though in Congress full time, she still performs her Guard duty.

Tulsi’s own military experience notwithstanding, she gives every indication of being honestly anti-war. In the speech announcing her candidacy she pledged “focus on the issue of war and peace” to “end the regime-change wars that have taken far too many lives and undermined our security by strengthening terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda.” She referred to the danger posed by blundering into a possible nuclear war and indicated her dismay over what appears to be a re-emergence of the Cold War.

In a recent interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, Gabbard doubled down on her anti-war credentials, telling the host that war with Iran would be “devastating,adding that:

“I know where this path leads us and I’m concerned because the American people don’t seem to be prepared for how devastating and costly such a war would be...

So, what we are facing is, essentially, a war that has no frontlines, total chaos, engulfs the whole region, is not contained within Iran or Iraq but would extend to Syria and Lebanon and Israel across the region, setting us up in a situation where, in Iraq, we lost over 4,000 of my brothers and sisters in uniform. A war with Iran would take far more American lives, it would cost more civilian lives across the region...

Not to speak of the fact that this would cost trillions of taxpayer dollars coming out of our pockets to go and pay for this endless war that begs the question as a soldier, what are we fighting for? What does victory look like? What is the mission?”

Gabbard, and also Carlson, did not hesitate to name names among those pushing for war, one of which begins with B-O-L-T-O-N. She then asked “How does a war with Iran serve the best interest of the American people of the United States? And the fact is it does not,” Gabbard said. “It better serves the interest of people like [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Bibi Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia who are trying to push us into this war with Iran.”

Clearly not afraid to challenge the full gamut establishment politics, Tulsi Gabbard had previously called for an end to the “illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government,” also observing that “the war to overthrow Assad is counter-productive because it actually helps ISIS and other Islamic extremists achieve their goal of overthrowing the Syrian government of Assad and taking control of all of Syria – which will simply increase human suffering in the region, exacerbate the refugee crisis, and pose a greater threat to the world.” She then backed up her words with action by secretly arranging for a personal trip to Damascus in 2017 to meet with President Bashar al-Assad, saying it was important to meet adversaries “if you are serious about pursuing peace.” She made her own assessment of the situation in Syria and now favors pulling US troops out of the country as well as ending American interventions for “regime change” in the region.

In 2015, Gabbard supported President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran and in 2016 she backed Bernie Sanders’ antiwar candidacy. More recently, she has criticized President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. Last May, she criticized Israel for shooting “unarmed protesters” in Gaza, a very bold step indeed given the power of the Israel Lobby.

Tulsi Gabbard could well be the only genuine antiwar candidate that might truly be electable in the past fifty years, and that is why the war party is out to get her. Two weeks ago, the Daily Beast displayed a headline:

“Tulsi Gabbard’s Campaign Is Being Boosted by Putin Apologists.”

The article also had a sub-headline: “The Hawaii congresswoman is quickly becoming the top candidate for Democrats who think the Russian leader is misunderstood.”

The obvious smear job was picked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, television’s best known Hillary Clinton clone, who brought it up in an interview with Gabbard shortly thereafter. He asked whether Gabbard was “softer” on Putin than were some of the other candidates. Gabbard answered: “It’s unfortunate that you’re citing that article, George, because it’s a whole lot of fake news.” Politico the reported the exchange and wrote: “’Fake news’ is a favorite phrase of President Donald Trump…,” putting the ball back in Tulsi’s court rather than criticizing Stephanopoulos’s pointless question. Soon thereafter CNN produced its own version of Tulsi the Russophile, observing that Gabbard was using a Trump expression to “attack the credibility of negative coverage.”

Tulsi responded “Stephanopoulos shamelessly implied that because I oppose going to war with Russia, I’m not a loyal American, but a Putin puppet. It just shows what absurd lengths warmongers in the media will go, to try to destroy the reputation of anyone who dares oppose their warmongering.”

Tulsi Gabbard had attracted other enemies prior to the Stephanopoulos attack. Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept described how NBC news published a widely distributed story on February 1st, 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 expert cited by NBC turned out to be a firm New Knowledge, which was exposed by no less than The New York Times for falsifying Russian troll accounts for the Democratic Party in the Alabama Senate race to suggest that the Kremlin was interfering in that election. According to Greenwald, the group ultimately behind this attack on Gabbard is The Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), which sponsors a tool called Hamilton 68, a news “intelligence net checker” that claims to track Russian efforts to disseminate disinformation. The ASD websiteadvises that “Securing Democracy is a Global Necessity.”

ASD was set up in 2017 by the usual neocon crowd with funding from The Atlanticist and anti-Russian German Marshall Fund. It is loaded with a full complement of Zionists and interventionists/globalists, to include Michael Chertoff, Michael McFaul, Michael Morell, Kori Schake and Bill Kristol. It claims, innocently, to be a bipartisan transatlantic national security advocacy group that seeks to identify and counter efforts by Russia to undermine democracies in the United States and Europe but it is actually itself a major source of disinformation.

No doubt stories headlined “Tulsi Gabbard Communist Stooge” are in the works somewhere in the mainstream media. The Establishment politicians and their media component have difficulty in understanding just how much they are despised for their mendacity and unwillingness to support policies that would truly benefit the American people but they are well able to dominate press coverage. Given the flood of contrived negativity towards her campaign, it is not clear if Tulsi Gabbard will ever be able to get her message across.

But, for the moment, she seems to be the “real thing,” a genuine anti-war candidate who is determined to run on that platform. It might just resonate with the majority of Americans who have grown tired of perpetual warfare to “spread democracy” and other related frauds perpetrated by the band of oligarchs and traitors that run the United States.

Published:6/10/2019 8:49:15 PM
[Markets] What Universities Won't Teach College Students About The Economics Of Climate Change

Authored by Robert Murphy via The Institute for Energy Research,

I recently gave a talk to a student group at Connecticut College on the economics of climate change. (The video is broken up into three parts on my YouTube channel: onetwo, and three.) In this post I’ll summarize three of my main points:

(1) There is a huge disconnect between what the published economics research actually says about government policies to limit global warming, and how the media is reporting it.

(2) President Trump taking the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement doesn’t really affect anything on the margin, even if we stipulate the alarmist position on climate change. And

(3) If I’m wrong, and human-caused climate change really does pose a dire threat to humanity in the next few decades, then scientists are currently working on several lines of research of practical ways to actually deal with the problem.

The “Consensus Research” Does Not Justify Radical Political Intervention

I first clarified to the students that throughout my talk, I wasn’t going to grab results from right-wing think tanks, or from “fringe” scientists who were considered cranks by their peers. On the contrary, I would be relaying results from sources such as the work of a Nobel laureate William Nordhaus (whose model on climate change policy had been one of three used by the Obama Administration) and from the UN’s own periodic report summarizing the latest research on climate change science and policy.

To demonstrate just how wide the chasm is between the actual economics research and the media treatment of these issues, I described to the students the spectacle I observed back in the fall of 2018, when on the same weekend news came out that William Nordhaus had won the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work on the economics of climate change and that the UN released a “Special Report” advising governments to try to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The media treatment (sometimes in the same story) presented these events with no sense of conflict or irony, leading regular citizens to assume that Nordhaus’ Nobel-winning work supported the UN’s goals for policymakers.

But that is not true at all. Here’s a graph from a 2017 Nordhaus publication that I included in my presentation:

As the figure shows, Nordhaus’ model—and again, this isn’t cooked up by the Heritage Foundation, but instead was one selected by the Obama Administration’s EPA and was the reason he won the Nobel Prize—projects that if governments “did nothing,” total global warming would reach about 4.1 degrees Celsius. In contrast, if governments implemented the “optimal carbon tax,” as Nordhaus would recommend in a perfect world, then total warming would be about 3.5 degrees Celsius.

Anyone remotely familiar with the climate change policy debate knows that such an amount of warming would terrify the prominent activists and groups advocating for a political solution. They would quite confidently tell the public that warming of this amount would spell absolute catastrophe for future generations.

My point here isn’t to endorse Nordhaus’ model. My point is simply that Americans never heard anything about this when the media simultaneously covered Nordhaus’ award and the UN’s document calling for a 1.5°C limit. And yet, Nordhaus’ own work—not shown in the figure above, but I spell it out here—clearly concludes that such an aggressive target would cause far more damage to humans in the form of reduced economic output, that it would be better for governments to “do nothing” about climate change at all.

With or Without the United States, the Paris Agreement Was Going to “Fail”

To continue with the theme of how they’ve been misinformed, I reminded the students of the media’s apoplexy when Trump announced his intention to remove the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement (or treaty, in lay terms). I showed them a headline in which famed physicist Stephen Hawking said Trump was pushing the planet “over the brink.”

I then asked the students rhetorically, “You would think that the Paris Agreement was going to ‘work’ to contain the threat of climate change, except for Trump pulling out and wrecking it, right?”

And yet, the pro-intervention group ClimateActionTracker.org nicely illustrates that even if all countries met their pledges (including the U.S.), it wouldn’t come close to limiting warming to the weaker benchmark of 2°C, let alone the newer, more chic target of 1.5°C. Things were even worse if we evaluated the actual policies of governments (as opposed to what they stated they intended to do, about limiting their emissions).

Further, I included a screenshot (in the top left of the slide) from a Vox article published before Trump’s Paris announcement, which said not a single country on Earth was taking the 2°C target seriously.

Technological Solutions

After spending so much time showing that the political “solutions” were failing even on their own terms, I summarized a few avenues of research (see this article for details) where scientists are exploring techniques to either remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or reflect some incoming sunlight. Although I personally do not think human-caused climate change is a crisis, and do think that adaptation coming from normal economic growth will be more than sufficient to deal with any problems along the way, nonetheless scientists do have these other techniques in their back pocket, should they become necessary to “buy humanity a few decades of breathing room” while technology advances in the transportation and energy sectors.

Conclusion

Americans, especially students, are being whipped into a panic over the allegedly existential threat of climate change. Yet the actual research, summarized in the UN’s own periodic reports and in the research of a Nobel laureate in the field, shows that at best only a modest “leaning against the wind” could be justified according to standard economic science.

By their own criteria, the alarmist activists are admitting that political measures are nowhere near achieving their goals. Their own rhetoric says that these activists are wasting everyone’s time pushing solutions that will end in catastrophe. Occasionally they slip up, as for example when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez admits that her “we have 12 years left” was not to be taken literally.

In order to bring light to the climate change debate, at this point one just needs to actually screenshot and explain the evidence from the establishment sources. The rhetorical framing of the issue is so far removed from the underlying research that this alone is heretical.

Published:6/10/2019 7:42:19 PM
[Uncategorized] My Buddy and Me! Biden Mocked Over Photo of Obama Friendship Bracelet Oh so now the media and people across the political spectrum don't like the Obama-Biden bromance? Published:6/10/2019 4:12:11 PM
[US News] ‘SHOTS FIRED’! House GOPer invokes Obama to mock Judiciary Dems over John Dean testimony

"This is too good."

The post ‘SHOTS FIRED’! House GOPer invokes Obama to mock Judiciary Dems over John Dean testimony appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/10/2019 3:18:56 PM
[Politics] Liberals are FURIOUS the media is covering helicopter crash instead of John Dean hearing… As you have no doubt heard, the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have brought in convicted felon and Obama/Hillary supporter John Dean to ‘explain’ why the Mueller report is reason to impeach . . . Published:6/10/2019 3:18:56 PM
[Politics] Liberals are FURIOUS the media is covering helicopter crash instead of John Dean hearing… As you have no doubt heard, the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have brought in convicted felon and Obama/Hillary supporter John Dean to ‘explain’ why the Mueller report is reason to impeach . . . Published:6/10/2019 3:18:56 PM
[Markets] Schiff: "Everything The Fed Said About Normalizing Rates Was A Lie"

Via SchiffGold.com,

Last week was a good one for the stock market. Peter Schiff raised an important question in his latest podcast: why?

Answer: it’s all about the Fed.

Everybody is giddy because they think the central bank is going to save the day once again. In this podcast, Peter explains why they are wrong.

Last week, the Dow gained 4.7% and other stock indices followed the upward trend, snapping a six-week losing streak. So, what drove the market up? Was it great earnings reports?

Not really. There were a few companies that posted solid earnings reports, but nothing earthshaking.

Was it good economic data?

Nope. In fact, most of the news was bad. Most significantly, the non-farm payroll number for May came in at just 75,000 jobs. The projections had been for about 180,000 jobs.  Peter pointed out that if you average the last three months, job growth comes to about 150,000 jobs per month.

Pretty anemic job growth, especially if you’re claiming you’re the jobs president and we have the strongest economy in the history of the country.”

Peter also noted that the economy is creating the same type of lousy part-time and low-paying jobs it was creating when Obama was president.

Meanwhile, the New York Fed lowered its GDP growth estimate both for Q2 and Q3.

The bottom line is we got much weaker than expected jobs growth. We got weaker economic data. We have downward revisions to GDP growth from the New York Fed. Yet the US stock market is soaring. Why?”

One thing has happened. That’s the Fed.

The Federal Reserve has changed on a dime and has done what I’ve been saying they would do for years. In fact, I said they would do this from the very beginning. And that is they have completely abandoned any pretense of normalizing interest rates or shrinking their balance sheet. The Fed is about to cut interest rates again.”

Consider this. That would mean the peak of this interest rate cycle was 2.5%.

That’s not exactly “normal.”

Why is the Fed going to have to cut interest rates? To prevent the bubble from deflating, to prevent the bubble economy from returning to recession.”

And this is exactly why we saw this boost in the stock market last week. The addict is giddy at the mere thought of a fix.

It’s only because the Fed is going to give the heroin addicts on Wall Street more of the heroin, this is why the market is going up. That is why the bond market is going up. That is why rates are falling, because the bond market thinks the Fed is going to work its magic one more time. It’s going to slash interest rates. It’s going to force-feed cheap money into the economy. It’s going to do quantitative easing. And it’s going to be a party in the bond market. It’s going to be a party on Wall Street. Except inflation is going to crash that party. A dollar collapse is going to crash that party.

Peter said the only reason all of this monetary stimulus worked the last time was because everybody believed it was an emergency measure, that it was temporary, that it would be undone, that there was an exit strategy.

Everything the Fed has been saying for the past 10 years about its exit strategy, about its ability to normalize interest rates — everything they said was a lie.”

The Fed continues to insist that the economy is strong, but Peter said you need to keep your focus on what the central bank is actually doing.

The fact that they’re about to cut interest rates proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the economy is weak, that any strength is artificial. It’s a result of the cheap money and they need more cheap money to maintain the illusion of economic growth.”

Peter has always said that levering up the economy is the easy part.

If you can’t remove the policy without the economy relapsing into recession, then the economy was a failure...

The easy thing to do was to get hooked on drugs. The hard part, or the impossible part, was kicking the habit. That’s what the Fed can’t do.”

Published:6/10/2019 2:47:04 PM
[2019 News] Obama-era LED streetlights Obama-era LED streetlights in Detroit that were supposed to last at least ten years… are already burning out and needing replacement after three years. Count on it: if you can think of something completely stupid that’s a total waste of money, the city of Detroit will do it. Published:6/10/2019 12:15:01 PM
[Politics] 40% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

Forty percent (40%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending June 6.

This week’s finding remains unchanged from a week ago. Prior to this, that number had been on the decline week-over-week from 43% in early December to 31% by the end of January. It ran in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016, President Obama's last full year in office.

(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 national telephone survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from June 2-6, 2019. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 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:6/10/2019 10:42:09 AM
[Politics] Axelrod Mocks Biden’s ‘Best Friends’ Obama Tweet: ‘This is a Joke, Right?’

CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod on Sunday mocked Joe Biden's tweet about friendship with former President Barack Obama.

The post Axelrod Mocks Biden’s ‘Best Friends’ Obama Tweet: ‘This is a Joke, Right?’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:6/10/2019 9:40:13 AM
[Politics] Joe Biden just released a tweet so cringeworthy that even David Axelrod couldn’t believe it… Joe Biden had the most cringeworthy tweet this weekend about Obama, so much so that even some on his side questioned it: Happy #BestFriendsDay to my friend, @BarackObama. pic.twitter.com/JTd1t7NtyL — Joe Biden . . . Published:6/10/2019 9:10:56 AM
[Politics] Joe Biden just released a tweet so cringeworthy that even David Axelrod couldn’t believe it… Joe Biden had the most cringeworthy tweet this weekend about Obama, so much so that even some on his side questioned it: Happy #BestFriendsDay to my friend, @BarackObama. pic.twitter.com/JTd1t7NtyL — Joe Biden . . . Published:6/10/2019 9:10:56 AM
[2020 Presidential Election] The pathetic Biden (3) (Scott Johnson) Steve Hayward commented on Joe Biden’s tweet declaring his buddyhood with Barack Obama in part 2 of this series last night. Biden tweeted an image of a friendship bracelet with “Joe” and “Barack” on the bracelet along with a smiley face and other gewgaws. “Happy #BestFriendsDay to my friend, @BarackObama,” Biden wrote. Former Obama campaign guru and senior adviser David Axelrod had a comment of his own on Biden’s declaration. Published:6/10/2019 6:40:03 AM
[Markets] Zuesse: The Force That Is Ending Freedom

Authored by Eric Zuesse via Off-Guardian.org,

Every empire is a dictatorship. No nation can be a democracy that’s either heading an empire, or a vassal-state of one. Obviously, in order to be a vassal-state within an empire, that nation is dictated-to by the nation of which it is a colony.

However, even the domestic inhabitants of the colonizing nation cannot be free and living in a democracy, because their services are needed abroad in order to impose the occupying force upon the colony or vassal-nation. This is an important burden upon the ‘citizens’ or actually the subjects of the imperial nation.

Furthermore, they need to finance, via their taxes, this occupying force abroad, to a sufficient extent so as to subdue any resistance by the residents in any colony.

Every empire is imposed, none is really voluntary. Conquest creates an empire, and the constant application of force maintains it.

Every empire is a dictatorship, not only upon its foreign populations (which goes without saying, because otherwise there can’t be any empire), but upon its domestic ones too, upon its own subjects.

Any empire needs weapons-makers, who sell to the government and whose only markets are the imperial government and its vassal-nations or ‘allies’.

By contrast, ’enemy’ nations are ones that the imperial power has placed onto its priority-list of nations that are yet to become conquered. There are two main reasons to conquer a nation.

One is in order to be enabled to extract, from the colony, oil, or gold, or some other valuable commodity.

The other is in order to control it so as to be enabled to use that land as a passageway for exporting, from a vassal-nation, to other nations, that vassal-nation’s products.

International trade is the basis for any empire, and the billionaires who own controlling blocs of stock in a nation’s international corporations are the actual rulers of it, the beneficiaries of empire, the recipients of the wealth that is being extracted from the colonies and from the domestic subjects.

The idea of an empire is that the imperial nation’s rulers, its aristocracy, extract from the colonies their products, and they impose upon their domestic subjects the financial and military burdens of imposing their international dictatorship upon the foreign subjects.

Some authors say that there is a “Deep State” and that it consists of (some undefined elements within) the intelligence services, and of the military, and of the diplomatic corps, of any given dictatorship; but, actually, those employees of the State are merely employees, not the actual governing authority, over that dictatorship.

The actual Deep State are always the aristocrats, themselves, the people who run the revolving door between ‘the private sector’ (the aristocracy’s corporations) and the government.

In former times, many of the aristocrats were themselves governing officials (the titled ‘nobility’), but this is no longer common.

Nowadays, the aristocracy are the individuals who own controlling blocs of stock in international corporations (especially weapons-making firms such as Lockheed Martin and BAE, because the only markets for those corporations are the corporation’s own government and its vassal states or ‘allies’); and such individuals are usually the nation’s billionaires, and, perhaps, a few of the mere centi-millionaires.

A small number, typically less than 100, of these extremely wealthy individuals, are the biggest donors to politicians, and to think tanks, and to other non-profits (these latter being also tax-write-offs to their donors, and so are tax-drains to the general public) that are involved in the formation of the national government’s policies.

Of course, they also are owners of and/or advertisers in the propaganda-media, which sell the aristocracy’s core or most-essential viewpoints to the nation’s subjects in order to persuade those voters to vote only for the aristocracy’s selected candidates and not for any who oppose the aristocracy.

These few, mainly billionaires, are the actual Deep State — the bosses over the dictatorship, the ultimate beneficiaries in any empire.

In order to maintain this system, of international dictatorship or empire, the most essential tool is deceit, of the electorate, by the aristocracy.

The method of control is: the bought agents of the Deep State lie to the public about what their polices will be if they win, in order to be able to win power; and, then, once they have won power, they do the opposite, which is what they have always been paid by the Deep State (the aristocracy) to help them to do.

Thereby, elections aren’t “democratic” but ‘democratic’: they are mere formalities of democracy, without the substance of democracy. All of the well-financed candidates for the top offices are actually the Deep State’s representatives, and virtually none are the representatives of the public, because the voters have been deceived, and were given choices between two or more candidates, none of whom will represent the public if and when elected.

Here are some recent examples of this system — the imperial system, international dictatorship, in action:

During Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign, he said:

The approach of fighting Assad and ISIS simultaneously was madness, and idiocy. They’re fighting each other and yet we’re fighting both of them. You know, we were fighting both of them. I think that our far bigger problem than Assad is ISIS, I’ve always felt that. Assad is, you know I’m not saying Assad is a good man, ’cause he’s not, but our far greater problem is not Assad, it’s ISIS. … I think, you can’t be fighting two people that are fighting each other, and fighting them together. You have to pick one or the other.”

Assad is allied with Russia against the Sauds (who are the chief ally of the U.S. aristocracy), so the U.S. (in accord with a policy that George Herbert Walker Bush had initiated on 24 February 1990 and which has been carried out by all subsequent U.S. Presidents) was determined to overthrow Assad, but Trump said that he was strongly opposed to that policy.

Months before that, Trump had said:

I think Assad is a bad guy, a very bad guy, all right? Lots of people killed. I think we are backing people we have no idea who they are. The rebels, we call them the rebels, the patriotic rebels. We have no idea. A lot of people think, Hugh, that they are ISIS. We have to do one thing at a time. We can’t be fighting ISIS and fighting Assad. Assad is fighting ISIS. He is fighting ISIS. Russia is fighting now ISIS. And Iran is fighting ISIS.

We have to do one thing at a time. We can’t go — and I watched Lindsey Graham, he said, I have been here for 10 years fighting. Well, he will be there with that thinking for another 50 years. He won’t be able to solve the problem. We have to get rid of ISIS first. After we get rid of ISIS, we’ll start thinking about it. But we can’t be fighting Assad. And when you’re fighting Assad, you are fighting Russia, you’re fighting — you’re fighting a lot of different groups. But we can’t be fighting everybody at one time.”

In that same debate (15 December 2015) he also said:

In my opinion, we’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there and if we could’ve spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had, we would’ve been a lot better off.

I can tell you that right now. We have done a tremendous disservice, not only to Middle East, we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have wiped away, and for what?

It’s not like we had victory. It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized. A total and complete mess. I wish we had the $4 trillion or $5 trillion. I wish it were spent right here in the United States, on our schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart.”

Did he do that? No. Did he instead intensify what Obama had been trying to do in Syria — overthrow Assad — yes.

As the U.S. President, after having won the 2016 Presidential campaign, has Trump followed through on his criticism there, against the super-hawk, neoconservative, Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham? No. Did he instead encircle himself with precisely such super-hawks, such neoconservatives? Yes.

Did he intensify the overthrow-Assad effort as Graham and those others had advocated? Yes. Did America’s war against Syria succeed? No. Did he constantly lie to the voters? Yes, without a doubt.

Should that be grounds for impeaching him? A prior question to that one is actually: Would a President Mike Pence be any different or maybe even worse than Trump? Yes.

So: what, then, would be achieved by removing Trump from office? Maybe it would actually make things a lot worse. But how likely would the U.S. Senate be to remove Trump from office if the House did impeach Trump?

Two-thirds of the U.S. Senate would need to vote to remove the President in order for a President to be removed after being impeached by the House. A majority of U.S. Senators, 53, are Republicans.

If just 33 of them vote not to convict the President, then Trump won’t be removed. In order to remove him, not only would all 47 of the Democrats and Independents have to vote to convict, but 20 of the 53 Republicans would need to join them. That’s nearly 40% of the Republican Senators. How likely is that? Almost impossible.

What would their voters who had elected them back home think of their doing such a thing? How likely would such Senators face successful re-election challenges that would remove those Senators from office? Would 20 of the 53 be likely to take that personal risk?

Why, then, are so many Democrats in the House pressing for Trump’s impeachment, since Trump’s being forced out of the White House this way is practically impossible and would only install a President Pence, even if it could succeed? Is that Democratic Party initiative anything else than insincere political theater, lying to their own gullible voters, just being phonies who manipulate voters to vote for them instead of who are actually serving them?

Is that what democracy is, now: insincere political theater? Is that “democracy”? America’s voters are trapped, by liars, so it’s instead mere ‘democracy’. It’s just the new form of dictatorship. But it’s actually as ancient as is any empire.

There’s nothing new about this — except one thing: the U.S. regime is aiming to be the ultimate, the last, the final, empire, the ruler over the entire world; so, it is trying especially hard, ‘to defend freedom, democracy and human rights throughout the world’, as Big Brother might say.

Trump’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, was just as evil, and just as insincere, as Trump, but only a far more skillful liar, who deceived his voters to think that he would fight corruption, work to improve relations with Russia, provide a public option in his health-insurance plan, and otherwise work to reduce economic inequality, to improve the economic situation for disadvantaged Americans, and to prosecute banksters.

He abandoned each one of those stated objectives as soon as he won against John McCain, on 4 November 2008, and then yet more when he defeated Mitt Romney in 2012. And aren’t some of those promises the same ones that candidate Trump had also advocated and then abandoned as soon as he too was (s)elected?

THE THREAT TO THE EMPIRE

The heroic fighters for the freedom of everyone in the world are the whistleblowers, who report to the public the corruption and evil that they see perpetrated by their superiors, their bosses, and perpetrated by people who are on the public payroll or otherwise obtaining increased income by virtue of being selected by the government to become government contractors to serve an allegedly public function.

All liars with power hate whistleblowers and want to make special examples of any part of the press that publishes their truths, their facts, their stolen documents. These documents are stolen because that’s the only way for them to become public and thereby known to the voters so that the voters can vote on the basis of truths as in a democracy, instead of be deceived as in a dictatorship.

Even if the truth is stolen from the liars, instead of being kept private (“Confidential”) for them, are the whistleblowers doing wrong to steal the truth from the liars? Or, instead, are the whistleblowers heroes: are they the authentic guardians of democracy and the precariously thin wall that separates democracy from dictatorship?

They are the latter: they are the heroes. Unfortunately, the vast majority of such heroes are also martyrs — martyrs for truth, against lies. Every dictatorship seeks to destroy its whistleblowers. That’s because any whistleblower constitutes a threat to The System — the system of control.

In all of U.S. history, the two Presidents who pursued whistleblowers and their publishers the most relentlessly have been Trump and Obama. The public are fooled to think that this is being done for ’national security’ reasons instead of to hide the government’s crimes and criminality.

However, not a single one of the Democratic Party’s many U.S. Presidential candidates is bringing this issue, of the U.S. government’s many crimes and constant lying, forward as being the central thing that must be criminalized above all else, as constituting “treason.” None of them is proposing legislation saying that it is treason, against the public — against the nation.

Every aristocracy tries to deceive its public in order to control its public; and every aristocracy uses divide-and-rule in order to do this.

But it’s not only to divide the public against each other (such as between Republicans versus Democrats, both of which are actually controlled by the aristocracy), but also to divide between nations, such as between ‘allies’ versus ‘enemies’ — even when a given ‘enemy’ (such as Iraq in 2003) has never threatened, nor invaded, the United States (or whatever the given imperial ‘us’ may happen to be), and thus clearly this was aggressive war and an international war-crime, though unpunished as such.

The public need to fear and hate some ‘enemy’ which is the ‘other’ or ‘alien’, in order not to fear and loathe the aristocracy itself — the actual source of (and winner from) the systemic exploitation, of the public, by the aristocracy.

The pinnacle of the U.S. regime’s totalitarianism is its ceaseless assault against Julian Assange, who is the uber-whistleblower, the strongest protector for whistleblowers, the safest publisher for the evidence that they steal from their employers and from their employers’ government.

He hides the identity of the whistleblowers even at the risk of his own continued existence. Right now, the U.S. regime is raising to a fever-pitch and twisting beyond recognition not only U.S. laws but the U.S. Constitution, so as to impose its will against him. President Trump is supported in this effort by the corrupt U.S. Congress, to either end Assange’s life, or else lock him up for the rest of his heroic life in a dungeon having no communication with the world outside, until he does finally die, in isolation, punishment for his heroic last-ditch fight for the public’s freedom and for democracy — his fight, actually, against our 1984 regime.

What Jesus of Nazareth was locally for the Roman regime in his region, Assange is for the U.S. regime throughout the world: an example to terrify anyone else who might come forth effectively to challenge the Emperor’s authority.

A key country in this operation is Ecuador, which is ruled by the dictator Lenin Moreno, who stole office by lying to the public and pretending to be a progressive who backed his democratically elected predecessor, Rafael Correa, but then as soon as he won power, he reversed Correa’s progressive initiatives, including, above all, his protection of Assange, who had sought refuge in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.

On 11 April 2019, RT headlined “Who is Lenin Moreno and why did he hand Assange over to British police?” and reported that:

Following his 2017 election, Moreno quickly moved away from his election platform after taking office. He reversed several key pieces of legislation passed under his predecessor which targeted the wealthy and the banks. He also reversed a referendum decision on indefinite re-election while simultaneously blocking any potential for Correa to return.

He effectively purged many of Correa’s appointments to key positions in Ecuador’s judiciary and National Electoral Council via the CPCCS-T council which boasts supra-constitutional powers.

Moreno has also cozied up to the US, with whom Ecuador had a strained relationship under Correa. Following a visit from Vice President Mike Pence in June 2018, Ecuador bolstered its security cooperation with the US, including major arms deals, training exercises and intelligence sharing.

Following Assange’s arrest Correa, who granted Assange asylum in the first place, described Moreno as the “greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history” saying he was guilty of a “crime that humanity will never forget.”

Despite his overwhelming power and influence, however, Moreno and his family are the subject of a sweeping corruption probe in the country, as he faces down accusations of money laundering in offshore accounts and shell companies in Panama, including the INA Investment Corp, which is owned by Moreno’s brother.

Damning images, purportedly hacked from Moreno’s phone, have irreparably damaged both his attempts at establishing himself as an anti-corruption champion as well as his relationship with Assange, whom he accused of coordinating the hacking efforts.

On 14 April 2019, Denis Rogatyuk at The Gray Zone headlined: “Sell Out: How Corruption, Voter Fraud and a Neoliberal Turn Led Ecuador’s Lenin to Give Up Assange Desperate to ingratiate his government with Washington and distract the public from his mounting scandals, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has sacrificed Julian Assange – and his country’s independence”, and he described some of the documentation for the accusations that Moreno is corrupt.

On 12 April 2019, Zero Hedge headlined “Facebook Removes Page Of Ecuador’s Former President On Same Day As Assange’s Arrest”, and opened: “Facebook has unpublished the page of Ecuador’s former president, Rafael Correa, the social media giant confirmed on Thursday, claiming that the popular leftist leader violated the company’s security policies.”

On 16 April 2019, Jonathan Turley bannered “‘He Is Our Property’: The D.C. Establishment Awaits Assange With A Glee And Grudge”, and opened:

They will punish Assange for their sins

The key to prosecuting Assange has always been to punish him without again embarrassing the powerful figures made mockeries by his disclosures. That means to keep him from discussing how the U.S. government concealed alleged war crimes and huge civilian losses, the type of disclosures that were made in the famous Pentagon Papers case. He cannot discuss how Democratic and Republican members either were complicit or incompetent in their oversight. He cannot discuss how the public was lied to about the program.

A glimpse of that artificial scope was seen within minutes of the arrest. CNN brought on its national security analyst, James Clapper, former director of national intelligence. CNN never mentioned that Clapper was accused of perjury in denying the existence of the National Security Agency surveillance program and was personally implicated in the scandal that WikiLeaks triggered.

Clapper was asked directly before Congress, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

Clapper responded, “No, sir. … Not wittingly.” Later, Clapper said his testimony was “the least untruthful” statement he could make.
That would still make it a lie, of course, but this is Washington and people like Clapper are untouchable.

In the view of the establishment, Assange is the problem.

On 11 April 2019, the YouGov polling organization headlined “53% of Americans say Julian Assange should be extradited to America”.

On 13 April 2019, I headlined “What Public Opinion on Assange Tells Us About the US Government Direction”, and reported the only international poll that had ever been done of opinions about Assange, and its findings demonstrated that, out of the 23 nations which were surveyed, U.S. was the only one where the public are anti-Assange, and that the difference between the U.S. and all of the others was enormous and stark. The report opened:

The only extensive poll of public opinion regarding Julian Assange or Wikileaks was Reuters/Ipsos on 26 April 2011, “WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange is not a criminal: global poll”, and it sampled around a thousand individuals in each of 23 countries — a total of 18,829 respondents.

The Reuters news-report was vague, and not linked to any detailed presentation of the poll-findings, but it did say that “US respondents had a far more critical view” against Wikileaks than in any other country, and that the view by Americans was 69% “believing Assange should be charged and 61 percent opposing WikiLeaks’ mission.” Buried elsewhere on the Web was this detailed presentation of Ipsos’s findings in that poll:

Oppose Wikileaks:

61% US
38% UK
33% Canada
32% Poland
32% Belgium
31% Saudi Arabia
30% Japan
30% France
27% Indonesia
26% Italy
25% Germany
24% Sweden
24% Australia
22% Hungary
22% Brazil
21% Turkey
21% S. Korea
16% Mexico
16% Argentina
15% Spain
15% Russia
15% India
12% S. Africa

Is the US a democracy if the regime is so effective in gripping the minds of its public as to make them hostile to the strongest fighter for their freedom and democracy?

On 13 April 2019, washingtonsblog headlined “4 Myths About Julian Assange DEBUNKED”, and here was one of them:

Myth #2: Assange Will Get a Fair Trial In the US

14-year CIA officer John Kiriakou notes: Assange has been charged in the Eastern District of Virginia — the so-called “Espionage Court.” That is just what many of us have feared. Remember, no national security defendant has ever been found not guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia. The Eastern District is also known as the “rocket docket” for the swiftness with which cases are heard and decided. Not ready to mount a defense? Need more time? Haven’t received all of your discovery? Tough luck. See you in court.

… I have long predicted that Assange would face Judge Leonie Brinkema were he to be charged in the Eastern District. Brinkema handled my case, as well as CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling’s. She also has reserved the Ed Snowden case for herself. Brinkema is a hanging judge.

On 20 May 2019, former British Ambassador Craig Murray (who had quit so that he could blow the whistle) headlined “The Missing Step”and argued that the only chance that Assange now has is if Sweden refuses to extradite Assange to the US in the event that Britain honors the Swedish request to extradite him to Sweden instead of to the US (The decision on that will now probably be made by the US agent Boris Johnson instead of by the regular Tory Theresa May.)

How can it reasonably be denied that the US is, in fact (though not nominally) a dictatorship? All of its allies are thus vassal-nations in its empire. This means acquiescence (if not joining) in some of the US regime’s frequent foreign coups and invasions; and this means their assisting in the spread of the US regime’s control beyond themselves, to include additional other countries.

It reduces the freedom, and the democracy, throughout the world; it spreads the US dictatorship internationally. That is what is evil about what in America is called “neoconservatism” and in other countries is called simply “imperialism.” Under American reign, it is now a spreading curse, a political plague, to peoples throughout the world. Even an American whistleblower about Ukraine who lives in the former Ukraine is being targeted by the US regime.

This is how the freedom of everyone is severely threatened, by the US empire — the most deceitful empire that the world has ever experienced. The martyrs to its lies are the canaries in its coal mine. They are the first to be eliminated.

Looking again at that rank-ordered list of 23 countries, one sees the US and eight of its main allies (or vassal-nations), in order: US, UK, Canada, Poland, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Japan, France, Indonesia. These are countries where the subjects are already well-controlled by the empire. They already are vassals, and so are ordained as being ‘allies’.

At the opposite end, starting with the most anti-US-regime, are: S. Africa, India, Russia, Spain, Argentina, Mexico, S. Korea, Turkey. These are countries where the subjects are not yet well-controlled by the empire, even though the current government in some of them is trying to change its subjects’ minds so that the country will accept US rule.

Wherever the subjects reject US rule, there exists a strong possibility that the nation will become placed on the US regime’s list of ‘enemies’. Consequently, wherever the residents are the most opposed to US rule, the likelihood of an American coup or invasion is real.

The first step toward a coup or invasion is the imposition of sanctions against the nation. Any such nation that is already subject to them is therefore already in danger. Any such nation that refuses to cooperate with the US regime’s existing sanctions — such as against trading with Russia, China, Iran, or Venezuela — is in danger of becoming itself a US-sanctioned nation, and therefore officially an ‘enemy’.

And this is why freedom and democracy are ending.

Unless and until the US regime itself becomes conquered - either domestically by a second successful American Revolution (this one to eliminate the domestic aristocracy instead of to eliminate a foreign one), or else by a World War III in which the US regime becomes destroyed even worse than the opposing alliance will - the existing insatiable empire will continue to be on the war-path to impose its dictatorship to everyone on this planet.

Published:6/9/2019 10:40:27 PM
[Markets] MSM Mourns Death Of CIA-Backed Syrian Al-Qaeda/ISIS Ally

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

On Wednesday the alternative media outlet Southfront published an articletitled “New Video Throws Light On Jaysh Al-Izza High-Tolerance To Al-Qaeda Ideology” about newly discovered footage showing the leader of a “rebel” faction in Syria cozying up with a militant who was wearing a badge of the official flag of ISIS.

The video shows Jaysh al-Izza General Commander Major Jamil al-Saleh congratulating a group of his fighters on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr in a underground bunker,” Southfront reports.

“One of the fighters greeted by Saleh was wearing a batch of the Islamic Black Standard with the Seal of Muhammad. This is a well-known symbol of al-Qaeda and the official flag of ISIS.”

Today, mass media outlets are mourning the death of a well-known Jaysh al-Izza fighter named Abdel-Basset al-Sarout with grief-stricken beatifications not seen since the death of war criminal John McCain. An Associated Pressreport which has been published by major news outlets like The New York TimesThe GuardianPBS and Bloomberg commemorates Sarout as a “Syrian soccer goalkeeper” who “won international titles representing his country”, as “the singer of the revolution”, and as “an icon among Syria’s opposition”.

Remember Major Jamil al-Saleh from two paragraphs ago? AP features his glowing eulogy in its write-up on Sarout’s death:

“He was both a popular figure, guiding the rebellion, and a military commander,” said Maj. Jamil al-Saleh, leader of Jaish al-Izza rebel group, in which Sarout was a commander.

“His martyrdom will give us a push to continue down the path he chose and to which he offered his soul and blood as sacrifice.”

Other mainstream outlets like BBCThe Daily Beast and Al Jazeera have contributed their own fawning hagiographies of the late Jaysh al-Izza commander.

“Formed in 2013, Jaysh al-Izza was one of the first Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups in northern Syria to benefit from U.S. support through the CIA’s ‘Timber Sycamore’ train and equip program, which had been approved by then U.S. President Barack Obama,” Southfront reports in the aforementioned article. “The group received loads of weapons from the U.S. including Grad rockets, as well as Fagot and TOW anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs).”

“Jaysh al-Izza received this support under the pretension of being a ‘moderate group’ led by a known Syrian Arab Army (SAA) defector, al-Saleh,” Southfront adds. “However, the group’s acts were not in line with these claims. Since its formation, Jaysh al-Izza has been deeply linked to al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the al-Nusra Front. The group became one of the main allies of al-Nusra when its changed its name to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in 2017.”

“Western thought leaders are lionizing Abdel Baset al-Sarout who was killed fighting the Syrian army,” tweeted journalist Dan Cohen of the mass media response to Sarout’s death.

“They conveniently omit that he fought in a militia allied with al-Qaeda and pledged allegiance to ISIS.”

Cohen linked to an excerpt from his mini-documentary The Syria Deceptionfeaturing footage of Sarout holding an ISIS flag, leading chants calling for the extermination of the Alawite minority in Syria, and announcing his allegiance to ISIS.

Other publicly available video footage includes a speech by Sarout urging cooperation between his own faction, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise), saying “we know that these two groups are not politicized and have the same goals as us, and are working for God.”

“God willing we will work with them shoulder-to-shoulder when we leave here,” Sarout has been translated as saying in the speech.

“And we are not Christians or Shiaa to be scared of suicide belts and car bombs. We consider these things as strengths of ours, and God willing they will be just that. This message is to the Islamic State and our brothers in Jabhat al-Nusra, that when we come out of here we will all be one hand to fight Christians and not to have internal fights among ourselves. We want to take back all the lands that have been filthied by the regime, that were entered and taken over by Shiaas and apostates.”

This bloodthirsty terrorist warmongering was taken by the aforementioned AP hagiography and twisted into the single sentence, “He repeatedly denounced rebel infighting and called on Syrians to unite against government forces.”

The Atlantic’s Hassan Hassan framed Sarout’s unconscionable agendas as mere “flaws” which actually add to his inspiring and heroic story, tweeting, “Some individuals celebrated as heroes make you doubt all stories of heroes in history books. Others, like Abdulbasit Sarout, not inspire of but despite his flaws, make those stories highly plausible. He’s a true legend & his story is well documented. May his soul rest in peace.”

Yeah, come on, everybody’s got flaws. Some people suck at parallel parking, some people team up with ISIS and Al-Qaeda on genocidal extermination campaigns. We’ve all got our quirky little foibles.

We can expect more and more of these mass media distortions as Syria and its allies draw closer to recapturing Syrian land from the extremist forces which nearly succeeded in toppling Damascus just a few short years ago.

As these distortions pour in, keep this in mind: all of the violence that is still happening in Syria is the fault of the US and its allies, who helped extremist jihadist factions like Jaysh al-Izza overrun the nation to advance the preexisting goal of effecting regime change. The blame for all the death, suffering and chaos which ensues from a sovereign nation fighting to reclaim its land from these bloodthirsty factions rests solely on the government bodies which inflicted their dominance over the region in the first place.

You will see continuing melodramatic garment-rending from the US State Department and its mass media stenographers about “war crimes” and “human rights violations” as though the responsibility for this violence rests somewhere other than on the US-centralized power alliance, but they will be lying. What these warmongering propagandists are doing is exactly the same as paying a bunch of violent thugs to break into a home and murder its owner, then standing by and sounding the alarm about the way the homeowner chooses to fight off their assailants.

After it was discovered that the US and its allies armed actual, literal terrorist factions in Syria with the goal of effecting regime change, the only sane response would have been for the public to loudly and aggressively demand that all governments involved to take immediate action to completely rectify all damage done by this unforgivable war crime at any cost, and for there to be war crimes tribunals for every decision maker who was a part of it. Instead, because of propaganda circulated by the same mass media narrative management firms who are sanctifying the memory of Abdel-Basset al-Sarout today, the public remains asleep to the depravity of its rulers. This dynamic must change if we are to survive and thrive as a species.

*  *  *

The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me onFacebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone has my unconditional permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Published:6/9/2019 9:38:19 PM
[Markets] Doug Casey: Stupidity, Evil, & The Decline Of The US

Via InternationalMan.com,

(Today’s article is an adaptation from one of Doug’s speeches.)

It used to be that America was a country of free thinkers.

"Say what you think, and think what you say." That’s an expression you don't hear much anymore.

It’s much more like the world of 1984 where everything is “double think.” You need to think twice before you say something in public. You think three times before you say something when you're standing in an airport line.

Regrettably, the US is no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. It’s become the land of whipped and whimpering dogs that roll over on their backs and wet themselves when confronted with authority.

Now, why are Americans this way? Let me give you two reasons - though there are many more.

First, there's a simple absence of virtue. Let’s look at the word virtue. It comes from the Latin vir, which means manly, even heroic. To the Romans, virtues were things like fortitude, nobility and courage. Those virtues are true to the root of the word.

When people think of virtues today they think of faith, hope, charity—which are not related to the word’s root meaning. These may pass as virtues in a religious sense. But, outside a Sunday school, they’re actually actually vices. This deserves a discussion, because I know it will shock many. But I’ll save that for another time.

An absence of virtues and the presence of subtle vices is insinuated throughout society. Worse, overt vices like avarice and especially envy are encouraged. Envy, in particular will become a big vice in the years to come. It’s similar to jealousy, but worse. Jealousy says “You have something I want; I’ll try to take it from you”. Envy says “You have something I want. If I can’t take it from you, I’ll destroy it, and hurt you if I can.” Jealousy and envy seem to motivate most Democratic Party presidential candidates. No wonder America is in rapid decline.

A second reason is unsound philosophy. The reigning philosophy in the US used to be based on individualism and personal freedom. It's now statism and collectivism. But most people don’t think about philosophy—or even have a consistent worldview. More than ever, they do what seems like a good idea at the time.

The average American has problems. But his rulers are something else again. Most of the people running the US are either knaves or fools. How do we know if we are dealing with a knave or a fool? In other words, are you dealing with somebody who is evil or just stupid? To give a recent, but classic, example, are you dealing with a Dick Cheney or a George W. Bush? Do you prefer the knavish Obama, or the knavish Biden? The foolish Trump, or the foolish Pence. Not much of a real choice anywhere…

At this point, the US resembles the planet Mars, which is circled by two moons, Phobos and Deimos, fear and terror in Greek. The US is also being circled by two moons, Kakos and Chazos, evil and stupidity in Greek. It’s hard to imagine the Founding Fathers having seen that as a possibility.

One of the relatively few laws I believe in is Pareto’s Law. Most people are familiar with it as the 80-20 rule—20% of the people do 80% of the work, 20% commit 80% of the crime, and so forth. It also applies to character and ethics. Most people—80%—are basically decent. What about that other 20%? Let's call them potential trouble sources because they can go either way. But 20% of that 20%—4%—are the sociopaths; they consistently have bad intentions. They’re usually hiding under rocks. But they like to emerge at election time.

In normal times when everything's going along well, they can look normal. They'll deliver the mail, or sell shoes or stocks. They’ll pet the dog, and play softball on weekends. But when circumstances in society get ugly, and reach a certain point, they start evidencing themselves. The rest of the 20% start swinging along with them. That's the place where we are right now in the US. It’s Pareto’s Law in operation. You can see it in basically all the Democratic Party’s candidates—Bernie, Pocahontas, AOC, and two dozen others.

A lot of people believe in American Exceptionalism. A good argument can be made for America having been exceptional in the past. It’s factually correct that America is the only country founded on the principles of individualism and personal freedom. It was actually different. It was special, even unique. But I don't think it's true anymore.

Of course all the world’s countries like to believe they're special or better than the rest. But they’re only different on the surface, in trivial ways. None—other than America—value individualism and personal freedom as founding virtues. Look at Russia throughout the 20th century. It was a phenomenal nightmarish disaster in Soviet times.

Look at Germany during the ‘30s and ‘40s. China, under Mao for 30 years, was the home of institutionalized, industrial scale mass murder. The same is true in lots of other countries… Cambodia, Rwanda, the Congo. There are dozens of other countries where bloody chaos reigned over the last century. But not the US. It was different.

But what if America has ceased to exist? What if it’s been transformed into just another nation state called the United States, with very different ideals and values? Why should it have a different fate than those other countries? I don't see any reason why that would be the case.

But if 80% of Americans are basically decent, well-intentioned people, what is going wrong and why?

Let me give you three reasons... although there are many others.

Number one, as I indicated earlier, Americans no longer have any philosophical anchor. They no longer share a national mythos—individualism, personal freedom, free minds, and free markets are now mocked. They may have some nebulous ideas about ethics that they picked up from the Boy Scouts. But they think all political and economic systems—and certainly all cultures—are equally good. The reigning philosophy is a mixture of cultural Marxism, identity politics, anti-male feminism, and anti-white racism.

I suppose it was inevitable in a country where a large plurality of people are dumb enough to spend four years and several hundred thousand dollars to be indoctrinated with those values.

The second thing is fear. It’s a reigning emotion in this country among the diminishing middle class.

Desperation and apathy characterize the growing lower classes. No wonder they're cemented to the bottom of society. It's a rare person that rises from the lower class because of those attitudes.

How about the upper classes? Their dominant emotions are avarice and arrogance; they think they're superior because they have more money. In many cases they’re rich not because they produce anything. But because they’re cronies, benefiting from the flood of money coming from the Fed, or the avalanche of laws and regulations coming from the Congress and the President.

America is still basically a middle-class country, although becoming less and less that way almost daily. And fear is the dominant emotion of the middle class. Fear of losing everything they have. Fear of losing their jobs. Fear they won’t be able to meet the credit card payments, the car payments, the mortgage payment. Fear they can't afford to send their kids to college—which is a mistake incidentally. But that’s another story.

The whole country is driven by fear… and it’s not a good thing. Deimos and Phobos, those two moons circling Mars are now circling the US, along with Kakos and Chazos.

The third, and perhaps most critical reason the US is going downhill—beyond a lack of a philosophical anchor and an atmosphere of fear—is a reflexive belief in government.

The United States used to be more like Switzerland, which is by far the most prosperous country in Europe. When you ask the Swiss, "Who's the president of Switzerland?", It's rare that anyone can tell you. It's academic. However, nobody cares. He doesn't do anything. Politics aren’t a big part of their lives.

But today in the US, people have come to view the government as a cornucopia. People expect it to solve all their problems. And that’s a real problem. Government is a genuine growth industry, and it attracts the worst type of people. Government is inevitably where sociopaths—the 4% and the 20%—are drawn. Washington draws sociopaths like a pile of dog droppings draws flies.

It's perfectly predictable. And why is that? Mao said it best, "The power of the state comes out the barrel of a gun." Government is about some people controlling other people. That's what attracts sociopaths, and that's why they go to Washington.

But enough bad news… what is it that makes things better in the world? Well, there are two things.

One is technology. The good news is there are more scientists and engineers alive today than have lived in all of earth's history previously combined. And they're continually increasing our control of nature. For most people, life is no longer “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”, as Hobbes said. Technology is advancing at the rate of Moore’s law. And that improves the standard of living.

The second thing is savings. Individuals, like squirrels, are genetically wired to produce more than they consume. The difference between production and consumption can be saved. That creates capital. And capital enables technology. That creation of wealth should continue, barring a world war. Or most of the world’s governments acting more like Venezuela or Zimbabwe…. Which is quite possible.

So, in conclusion, I have some good news, and some bad news.

In the looming Greater Depression, most of the real wealth in the world will still exist. It's just going to change ownership.

Hopefully, you’ll be among those who aren’t adversely affected.

*  *  *

Unfortunately most people have no idea what really happens when a government goes out of control, let alone how to prepare… The coming economic and political crisis is going to be much worse, much longer, and very different than what we’ve seen in the past. That’s exactly why New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey and his team just released an urgent video. Click here to watch it now.

Published:6/9/2019 8:37:55 PM
[Markets] The Trust Project: Big Media And Silicon Valley's Weaponized Algos Silence Dissent

Authored by Whitney Webb via MintPressNews.com,

Given the Trust Project’s rich-get-richer impact on the online news landscape, it is not surprising to find that it is funded by a confluence of tech oligarchs and powerful forces with a clear stake in controlling the flow of news.

After the failure of Newsguard - the news rating system backed by a cadre of prominent neoconservative personalities - to gain traction among American tech and social media companies, another organization has quietly stepped in to direct the news algorithms of tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.

Though different from Newsguard, this group, known as “The Trust Project,” has a similar goal of restoring “trust” in corporate, mainstream media outlets, relative to independent alternatives, by applying “trust indicators” to social-media news algorithms in a decidedly untransparent way. The funding of “The Trust Project” — coming largely from big tech companies like Google; government-connected tech oligarchs like Pierre Omidyar; and the Knight Foundation, a key Newsguard investor — suggests that an ulterior motive in its tireless promotion of “traditional” mainstream media outlets is to limit the success of dissenting alternatives.

Of particular importance is the fact that the Trust Project’s “trust indicators” are already being used to control what news is promoted and suppressed by top search engines like Google and Bing and massive social-media networks like Facebook. Though the descriptions of these “trust indicators” — eight of which are currently in use — are publicly available, the way they are being used by major tech and social media companies is not.

The Trust Project’s goal is to increase public trust in the very same traditional media outlets that Newsguard favored and to use HTML-embedded codes in favored news articles to promote their content at the expense of independent alternatives. Even if its effort to promote “trust” in establishment media fail, its embedded-code hidden within participating news sites allow those establishment outlets to skirt the same algorithms currently targeting their independent competition, making such issues of “trust” largely irrelevant as it moves to homogenize the online media landscape in favor of mainstream media.  

The Trust Project’s director, Sally Lehrman, made it clear that, in her view, the lack of public trust in mainstream media and its declining readership is the result of unwanted “competition by principle-free enterprises [that] further undermines its [journalism’s] very role and purpose as an engine for democracy.”

Getting to know the Trust Project

The Trust Project describes itself as “a consortium of top news companies” involved in developing “transparency standards that help you easily assess the quality and credibility of journalism.” It has done this by creating what it calls “Trust Indicators,” which the project’s website describes as “a digital standard that meets people’s needs.” However, far from meeting “people’s needs,” the Trust Indicators seem aimed at manipulating search engine and social-media news algorithms to the benefit of the project’s media partners, rather than to the benefit of the general public.

The origins of the Trust Project date back to a 2012 “roundtable” hosted by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, a center funded by former Apple CEO Mike Markkula. That roundtable became known as the Roundtable on Digital Journalism Ethics and was created by journalist Sally Lehrman, then working at the Markkula Center, in connection with the New Media Executive Roundtable and Online Credibility Watch of the Society of Professional Journalists. Lehrman has explicitly stated that the Trust Project is open only to “news organizations that adhere to traditional standards.”

The specific idea that spurred the creation of the Trust Project itself was born at a 2014 meeting of that roundtable, when Lehrman “asked a specialist in machine learning at Twitter, and Richard Gingras, head of Google News, if algorithms could be used to support ethics instead of hurting them, and they said yes. Gingras agreed to collaborate.” In other words, the idea behind the Trust Project, from the start, was aimed at gaming search-engine and social-media algorithms in collusion with major tech companies like Google and Twitter.

Sally Lehrman discusses the Trust Project at 2018 WordCamp For Publishers

As the Trust Project itself notes, the means of altering algorithms were developed in tandemwith tech-giant executives like Gingras and “top editors in the industry from 80 news outlets and institutions,” all of which are corporate, mainstream media outlets. Notably, the Trust Project’s media partners, involved in creating these new “standards” for news algorithms, include major publications owned by wealthy oligarchs: the Washington Post, owned by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos; the Economist, directed by the wealthy Rothschild family; and the Globe and Mail, owned by Canada’s richest family, the Thomsons, who also own Thomson Reuters. Other Trust Project partners include The New York Times, Mic, Hearst Television, the BBC and the USA Today network.

Other major outlets are represented on the News Leadership Council of the Markkula Center, including the Financial TimesGizmodo Media, and The Wall Street Journal. That council — which also includes Gingras and Andrew Anker, Facebook’s Director of Product Management — “guides the Trust Project on our Trust Indicators.”

These “Trust Indicators” are the core of the Trust Project’s activities and reveal one of the key mechanisms through which Google, Twitter and Facebook have been altering their algorithms to favor outlets with good “Trust Indicator” scores. Trust Indicators, on their face, are aimed at making news publications “more transparent” as a means of generating increased trust with the public. Though a total of 37 have been developed, it appears only eight of them are currently being used.

These eight indicators are listed and described by the Trust Project as follows:

  • Best Practices: What are the news outlet’s standards? Who funds it? What is the outlet’s mission? Plus commitments to ethics, diverse voices, accuracy, making corrections and other standards.

  • Author/Reporter Expertise: Who made this? Details about the journalist, including their expertise and other stories they have worked on.

  • Type of Work: What is this? Labels to distinguish opinion, analysis and advertiser (or sponsored) content from news reports.

  • Citations and References: What’s the source? For investigative or in-depth stories, access to the sources behind the facts and assertions.

  • Methods: How was it built? Also for in-depth stories, information about why reporters chose to pursue a story and how they went about the process.

  • Locally Sourced? Was the reporting done on the scene, with deep knowledge about the local situation or community? Lets you know when the story has local origin or expertise.

  • Diverse Voices: What are the newsroom’s efforts and commitments to bringing in diverse perspectives? Readers noticed when certain voices, ethnicities, or political persuasions were missing.

  • Actionable Feedback: Can we participate? A newsroom’s efforts to engage the public’s help in setting coverage priorities, contributing to the reporting process, ensuring accuracy and other areas. Readers want to participate and provide feedback that might alter or expand a story.

How the Trust Project makes these indicators available to the public can be seen in its new project, the Newsroom Transparency Tracker, where it provides a table of “transparency” for participating media outlets. Notably, that table conflates actual transparency practices with simply providing the Trust Project with outlet policies and guidelines related to the above indicators.

For example, The Economist gets a perfect transparency “score” for having provided the Trust Project links to its ethics policy, mission statement and other information requested by the project. However, the fact that those policies exist and are provided to the Trust Project does not mean that the publication’s policies are, in fact, transparent or ethical in terms of their content or in practice. The fact that The Economist provided links to its policies does not make the publication more transparent, but — in the context of the Newsroom Transparency Tracker’s table — it provides the appearance of transparency, though such policy disclosures by The Economist are unlikely to translate into any changes to its well-known biases and slanted reporting towards certain issues.

Trust Indicators manipulate big tech algorithms

The true power of the Trust Indicators comes in a form that is not visible to the general public. These Trust Indicators, while occasionally displayed on partner websites, are also coupled with “machine-readable signals” embedded in the HTML code of participating websites and articles used by Facebook, Google, Bing and Twitter. As Lehrman noted in a 2017 article, the Trust Project was then “already working with these four companies, all of which have said they want to use our indicators to prioritize honest, well-reported news over fakery and falsehood.” Gingras of Google News also noted that the Trust Indicators are used by Google as “cues to help search engines better understand and rank results … [and] to help the myriad algorithmic systems that mold our media lives.”

A press release from the Trust Project last year further underscores the importance of the embedded “indicators” to alter social-media and search-engine algorithms:

While each Indicator is visible to users on the pages of the Project’s news partners, it is also embedded in the article and site code for machines to read — providing the first, standardized technical language that offers contextual information about news sites’ commitments to transparency.”

Despite claiming to increase public knowledge of “news sites’ commitments to transparency,” the way that major tech companies like Google and Facebook are using these indicators is anything but transparent. Indeed, it is largely unknown how these indicators are used, though there are a few clues.

For instance, CBS News cited Craig Newmark — the billionaire founder of Craigslist, who provided the Trust Project’s seed funding — as suggesting that “Google’s search algorithm could rank trusted sources above others in search results” by using the project’s Trust Indicators.

Last year, the Trust Project stated that Bing used “the ‘Type of Work’ Trust Indicator to display whether an article is news, opinion or analysis.” It also stated that “when Facebook launched its process to index news Pages, they worked with the Trust Project to make it easy for any publisher to add optional information about their Page.” In Google’s case, Gingras was quoted as saying that Google News uses the indicators “to assess the relative authoritativeness of news organizations and authors. We’re looking forward to developing new ways to use the indicators.”

Notably, the machine-readable version of these Trust Indicators is available only to participating institutions, which are currently corporate, mainstream publications. Though WordPress and Drupal plug-ins are being developed to make those embedded signals to search engines and social media available to smaller publishers, it will be made available only to “qualified publishers,” a determination that will presumably be made by the Trust Project and its associates.

Richard Gingras, in a statement made in 2017, noted that “the indicators can help our algorithms better understand authoritative journalism — and help us to better surface it to consumers.” Thus, it is abundantly clear that these indicators, which are embedded only into “qualified” and “authoritative” news websites, will be used to slant search-engine and social-media news algorithms in favor of establishment news websites.

The bottom line is that these embedded and exclusive indicators allow certain news outlets to avoid the crushing effects of recent algorithm changes that have seen traffic to many news websites, including MintPress, plummet in recent years. This is leading towards a homogenization of the online news landscape by starving independent competitors of web traffic while Trust Project-approved outlets are given an escape valve through algorithm manipulation.

The tech billionaires behind the Trust Project

Given the Trust Project’s rich-get-richer impact on the online news landscape, it is not surprising to find that it is funded by rich and powerfl figures and forces with a clear stake in controlling the flow of news and information online.

According to its website, the Trust Project currently receives funding from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Google, Facebook, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (often abbreviated as the Knight Foundation), and the Markkula Foundation. Its website also states that Google was “an early financial supporter” and that it had originally been funded by Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist. As previously mentioned, the Trust Project’s co-founder is Richard Gingras, current Google vice president of News. The Trust Project’s website described Gingras’s current role with the organization as “a powerful evangelist” who “can always be counted upon for expert advice and encouragement.” Newmark’s current role at the Trust Project is described as that of a “funder and valued connector.”

Google VP Richard Gingras testifies at a British Committee Hearing on “Fake News”

Newmark, through Craig Newmark Philanthropies, who provided the initial funding for the Trust Project, and has also funded other related initiatives like the News Integrity Initiative at the City University of New York, which shares many of the same financiers as the Trust Project, including Facebook, Omidyar’s Democracy Fund, and the Knight Foundation. The Trust Project is listed as a collaborator of the News Integrity Initiative. Newmark is also very active in several news-related NGOs with similar overlap. For instance, he sits on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a longtime recipient of massive grants from the Omidyar Network, and Politifact.com, which is funded in part by Omidyar’s Democracy Fund.

Newmark is currently working with Vivian Schiller as his “strategic adviser” in his media investments. Schiller is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, former head of news at Twitter, and a veteran of well-known mainstream outlets like NPR, CNN, The New York Times and NBC News. She is also a director of the Scott Trust, which owns The Guardian.

The Markkula Foundation, one of the key funders of the Trust Project, exercises considerable influence over the organization through the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, which originally incubated the organization and whose News Leadership Council plays an important role at the Trust Project. That council’s membership includes representatives of Facebook, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Financial Times and Google, and “guides the Trust Project on our Trust Indicators and advises on core issues related to information literacy and rebuilding trust in journalism within a fractious, so-called post-fact environment.”

Both the Markkula Foundation and the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics were founded by A. M. “Mike” Markkula, former CEO of Apple. The Markkula Center’s Journalism Ethics program is currently headed by Subramaniam Vincent, a former software engineer and consultant for Intel and Cisco Systems who has worked to bring together big data with local journalism and is an advocate for the use of “ethical-AI [artificial intelligence] to ingest, sort, and classify news.”

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is another interesting funder of the Trust Project, given that this same foundation is also a key investor in Newsguard, the controversial, biased news rating system with deep connections to government insiders and self-described government propagandists. There is considerable overlap between Newsguard and the Trust Project, with the latter citing Newsguard as a partner and also stating that Newsguard’s demonstrably biased ratings use the project’s “trust indicators” in its full-length reviews of news websites, which Newsguard calls “nutrition labels.” In addition, becoming a Trust Project participant is a factor that “supports a positive evaluation” from Newsguard, according to a press release from last year.

Notably, Sally Lehrman, who leads the Trust Project, described the project’s trust indicators for news as ”along the lines of a nutrition label on a package of food” when the Trust Project was created nearly a year before Newsguard launched, suggesting some intellectual overlap.

previous MintPress exposé revealed Newsguard’s numerous conflicts of interest and a ratings system strongly biased in favor of well-known, traditional media outlets — even when those outlets have a dubious track record of promoting so-called “fake news.” It should come as no surprise that the Trust Project’s goal is to increase public trust in the very same traditional media outlets that Newsguard favored and to use HTML-embedded codes in news articles to promote their content at the expense of independent alternatives.

A familiar face in the war against independent media

The Democracy Fund, another top funder of the Trust Project and a bipartisan foundation that was established by eBay founder and PayPal owner Omidyar in 2011 “out of deep respect for the U.S. Constitution and our nation’s core democratic values.” It is a spin-off of the Omidyar Network and, after splitting off as an independent company in 2014, became a member of the Omidyar Group. The fund’s National Advisory Committee includes former Bush and Obama administration officials and representatives of Facebook, Microsoft, NBC NewsABC News and Gizmodo Media group.

The Democracy Fund’s involvement in the Trust Project is notable because of the other media projects it funds, such as the new media empire of arch-neoconservative Bill Kristol, who has a long history of creating and disseminating falsehoods that have been used to justify the U.S. war in Iraq and other hawkish foreign policy stances. As a recent MintPress series revealed, Omidyar’s Democracy Fund provides financial support to Kristol’s Defending Democracy Together initiative and also supports Kristol’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund think tank that is best known for its cryptic Hamilton68 “Russian bot” dashboard. Omidyar’s Democracy Fund has also donated to the German Marshall Fund’s Defending Digital Democracy project and directly to the German Marshall Fund itself. In addition, Charles Sykes, a co-founder and editor-at-large of Kristol’s new publication The Bulwark, is on the Democracy Fund’s National Advisory Committee.

Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar has become a politically sophisticated data monarch through his purchase of a media empire and national security state ties.

An acolyte of Kristol’s who works at the German Marshall Fund, Jamie Fly, stated last Octoberthat the coordinated social-media purges of independent media pages known for their criticisms of U.S. empire and U.S. police violence was “just the beginning” and hinted that the German Marshall Fund had a hand in past social media purges and, presumably, a role in future purges. Thus, the Democracy Fund’s links to neoconservatives who promote the censoring of independent media sites that are critical of militaristic U.S. foreign policy jibe with the fund’s underlying interest in the Trust Project.

Omidyar’s involvement with the Trust Project is interesting for another reason, namely that Omidyar is the main backer behind the efforts of the controversial Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to become a key driver of which outlets are censored by Silicon Valley tech giants. The ADL was initially founded to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all” but critics say that over the years it has begun labeling critics of Israel’s government as “anti-Semites.”

For example, content that characterizes Israeli policies towards Palestinians as “racist” or “apartheid-like” is considered “hate speech” by the ADL, as is accusing Israel of war crimes or attempted ethnic cleansing. The ADL has even described explicitly Jewish organizations that are critical of Israel’s government as being “anti-Semitic.”

In March 2017, the Omidyar Network provided the “critical seed capital” need to launch the ADL’s “new Silicon Valley center aimed at tackling this rising wave of intolerance and to collaborate more closely with technology companies to promote democracy and social justice.” That Omidyar-funded ADL center allowed the ADL to team up with Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft — all of whom also collaborate with the Trust Project — to create a Cyberhate Problem-Solving Lab. Since then, these companies and their subsidiaries, including Google’s YouTube, have relied on the ADL to flag “controversial” content.

Given the fact that the Trust Project shares with the ADL a key funder (Pierre Omidyar) and several external tech partners, it remains to be seen whether there is overlap between how major tech companies like Google and Facebook use the Trust Indicators in its algorithms and the influence of the ADL on those very same algorithms.

What is clear however is that there exists an undeniable overlap given the fact that Craig Newmark, who provided the seed funding for the Trust Project and continues to fund it, is also a key donor and advisor to the ADL. In 2017, Newmark gave $100,000 to the ADL’s Incident Response Center and is a member of the group’s tech advisory board.

Outsourcing censorship

Of course, the most interesting and troubling donors of the Trust Project are Google and Facebook, both of which are using the very project they fund as a “third party” to justify their manipulation of newsfeed and search-engine algorithms. Google’s intimate involvement from the very inception of the Trust Project tags it as an extension of Google that has since been marketed as an “independent” organization tasked with justifying algorithm changes that favor certain news outlets over others.

Facebook, similarly, funds the Trust Project and also employs the “trust indicators” it funds to alter its newsfeed algorithm. Facebook’s other partners in altering this algorithm include the Atlantic Council — funded by the U.S. government, NATO, and weapons manufacturers, among others — and Facebook has also directly teamed up with foreign governments, such as the government of Israel, to suppress accurate yet dissenting information that the government in question wanted removed from the social-media platform.

The murkiness between “private” censorship, censorship by tech oligarchs, and censorship by government is particularly marked in the Trust Project. The private financiers of the Trust Project that also use its product to promote certain news content over others — namely Google and Facebook — have ties to the U.S. government, with Google being a government contractorand Facebook sporting a growing body of former-government officials in top company positions, including a co-author of the controversial Patriot Act as the company’s general counsel.

A similar tangle surrounds Pierre Omidyar, funder of the Trust Project through the Democracy Fund, who is extremely well-connected to the U.S. government, especially the military-industrial complex and intelligence communities. And partnering with media outlets like the Washington Post, whose owner is Jeff Bezos, spawns more conflicts of interests, given that Bezos’ company, Amazon, is also a major U.S. government contractor.

This growing nexus binding Silicon Valley companies and oligarchs, mainstream media outlets and the government suggests that these entities have increasingly similar and complementary interests, among which is the censorship of independent watchdog journalists and news outlets that seek to challenge their power and narratives.

The Trust Project was created as a way of outsourcing censorship of independent news sites while attempting to salvage the tattered reputation of mainstream media outlets and return the U.S. and international media landscape to years past when such outlets were able to dominate the narrative.

While it seems unlikely that’s its initiatives will succeed in restoring trust to mainstream media given the many recent and continuing examples of those same “traditional” media outlets circulating fake news and failing to cover crucial aspects of events, the Trust Project’s development of hidden algorithm-altering codes in participating websites shows that its real goal is not about improving public trust but about providing a facade of independence to Silicon Valley censorship of independent media outlets that speak truth to power.

Published:6/9/2019 5:40:45 PM
[Markets] "Obama's Brain" Emerging As Unlikely Biden Critic

In case you haven't noticed, President Obama's former chief campaign strategist David Axelrod has been going hard at Joe Biden of late. Starting on Friday, Axelrod knocked Biden's "flip-flop-flip" over his longstanding support for the Hyde amendment, which bans federal funding for most abortions. 

To recap - in an embarrassing display of pandering, Biden told an ACLU activist in May that he would work to repeal the 1976 Hyde amendment - which he has supported for decades. Biden then issued a statement on Wednesday, weeks later, claiming that he "misheard" the question, and that he still supports the Hyde amendment. After his 2020 competitors jumped all over him for it, Biden flip-flopped again - announcing on Thursday that he no longer supports the legislation.

Axelrod was not impressed.  

"So that was a flip, flop, flip, which is never a good thing in politics and it raises questions about his own performance and his own steadiness and his campaign's performance. So this was not a good -- you know, beyond the issue itself, this was not a reassuring episode for the Biden campaign," Axelrod told CNN on Friday. 

On Sunday, Biden tweeted a photograph of a friendship bracelet which President Obama for him in 2016, writing "Happy #BestFriendsDay to my friend, @BarackObama," to which Axelrod replied; "This is a joke, right?"

While Axelrod praised Biden in January as a "highly, highly competent guy" who was an enormous asset to President Obama, he told The New Yorker in February that the former Vice President - for which "age is a concern" - will "take up a lot of space" by entering the race, discouraging potentially better centrist-left candidates from running. 

The flip side of them is that they are very much establishment qualities, and the other flip side of them is it bespeaks a career that’s almost half a century along, and age is a concern that people have. I also think that the left will take aim at him if he gets in the race, because he is a more centrist Democrat with a long record. We heard some of it. But there’s no doubt that, at least on day one, he enters the race, he’s going to take up a lot of space. If he doesn’t enter the race, I think other people may. I think it’s more likely that Bloomberg would run if Biden didn’t run. You may see Mitch Landrieu come into the race if Biden doesn’t run. So he’s formidable, and there are more candidates in this race on the left than there are kind of center, center-left, and that is largely because Biden takes up a lot of space in this race. -The New Yorker

In April, Axelrod noted that Biden's "organizational challenges are real," adding "Part of it is he’s got a very close-knit group of advisers who tend to reflect him, and it’s a very bad thing when you’re running a national campaign to be so reliant on yourself and a group that reflects your strategic and tactical thinking. So, he’s going to have to broaden out that group."

It's as if Axelrod initially gave Biden a modicum of support, only to watch in horror as the DNC frontrunner fumbles the ball in slow motion. 

Axelrod's not the only one

On Friday, Fox News contributor and former DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile said that Biden had a "terrible week" and that his campaign should heed the "early warning" signs as the 2020 race heats up

In addition to the Hyde Amendment 'flip-flop-flip,' Brazile called out Biden's plagiarism scandal over lifting language for his environmental plan word-for-word from environmental nonprofits without attribution

As we noted last week, Biden's 1988 presidential run went off the rails when it was revealed that he plagiarized speeches from a British labour party politician, which brought to light examples of Biden lifting material from other politicians without attribution, and an acknowledgement that he was also accused of plagiarism in law school. 

"The vice president really had a terrible week. When I say terrible, it's not catastrophic, he can recover," Brazile said on "America's Newsroom," adding "I believe this should give the Biden campaign some early warning that they need to steady themselves as they begin to focus on rolling out more policy decisions or making more changes to their previous positions." 

(h/t Josh Caplan

Published:6/9/2019 4:04:45 PM
[The Blog] Hoo boy: Biden now posting photos of Obama friendship bracelet

Pander-monium.

The post Hoo boy: Biden now posting photos of Obama friendship bracelet appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:6/9/2019 1:34:26 PM
[US News] ‘Whose idea was this?’ Twitter mocks Joe Biden MERCILESSLY for posting Obama BFF bracelet

"Dude, you're 76."

The post ‘Whose idea was this?’ Twitter mocks Joe Biden MERCILESSLY for posting Obama BFF bracelet appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/9/2019 1:34:25 PM
[Markets] Boeing, Obama, A Gold Watch, And 346 Dead

Authored by Russell Mokhiber via Counterpunch.org,

Democrats want to make Donald Trump the issue in 2020.

If they do, they will lose again, the way they lost in 2016.

Instead, the 2020 election should be about corporate power in all of its manifestations, its hold on the culture, our country and both major political parties.

Take the case of the two Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane crashes — the Lion Air crash off the coast of Jakarta, Indonesia in October 2018 that killed all 189 on board and the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March 2019 that killed all 157 on board.

During his time as President of the United States, Barack Obama promoted the sale of Boeing planes — including the 737 Max 8 planes — around the world.

In November 2011, in Bali, Indonesia, President Obama announced an agreement between Boeing and Lion Air.

“For the last several days I’ve been talking about how we have to make sure that we’ve got a presence in this region, that it can result directly in jobs at home,” Obama said.

“And what we see here — a multibillion-dollar deal between Lion Air — one of the fastest-growing airlines not just in the region, but in the world — and Boeing is going to result in over 100,000 jobs back in the United States of America, over a long period of time.”

“This represents the largest deal, if I’m not mistaken, that Boeing has ever done.  We are looking at over 200 planes that are going to be sold.”

In September 2014, Obama met with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia at the White House.

“We’re strong trading partners,” Obama said. “And most recently, Boeing has done a deal with Ethiopia, which will result in jobs here in the United States.”

“I’m expecting a gold watch from Boeing at the end of my presidency because I know I’m on the list of top salesmen at Boeing,” Obama said at an export forum at the White House in September 2013.

Of course, Obama got more than just a gold watch from Boeing when he left the White House.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Boeing donated $10 million to the Obama presidential library and museum in Chicago. And earlier this year, Obama dropped in to speak to a Boeing leadership retreat at a swank resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Obama gratefully waived his $400,000 speaking fee.

While pushing the sale of Boeing planes around the world, the Obama administration was at the same time fast tracking a dangerous deregulatory process at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that effectively put the corporations in charge of the safety certification process — and that in effect put Boeing in charge of certifying it’s faulty MCAS software that led to the tragedies in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

The FAA certification system is known as the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program. Under that program, companies like Boeing can appoint their own representatives to act in the place of FAA inspectors.

In 2004, one of the unions representing FAA inspectors – Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) – criticized the proposed ODA program as “premature and reckless.”

“Allowing the aviation industry to self-regulate in this manner is nothing more than the blatant outsourcing of inspector functions and handing over inherently governmental oversight activities to non-governmental, for-profit entities,” PASS wrote in its 2004 comments to the FAA.

Would a more independent FAA have prevented the two recent Boeing crashes?

Yes, says Paul Hudson of Flyer’s Rights.

“The ODA program has allowed Boeing to effectively self certify the MCAS software as safe,” Hudson told Corporate Crime Reporter.

“Boeing ‘s CEO, whistleblowers and FAA now admit they failed to properly test, fully connect, or even disclose MCAS, much less its deadly defects and overpowering features — not to the FAA higher ups, not to airline pilots or not even to its own test pilots.”

“Air travel has gotten much safer due to both safety regulation and technical advancements,” Hudson said. “But profit seeking over safety at all costs is destroying both safety and profits.”

“Some Boeing safety inspectors have summed up the current culture as ‘safety is king but schedule is God,” Hudson said. “I asked Boeing in December after the Lion Air crash to ground the Max. Boeing refused.”

Published:6/9/2019 9:35:21 AM
[Markets] Trump Slams "Fake News" NYT - "We Have Been Trying To Get These Border Actions For A Long Time"

Hours after President Trump announced that a deal had been struck with Mexico to avert a round of tariffs that had been planned to take effect on Monday, the New York Times published a story claiming that the 'agreement' that the White House had touted had actually been laid out during discussions over the past several months, implying that Trump's latest border spat with Mexico was little more than a publicity stunt.

The deal to avert tariffs that President Trump announced with great fanfare on Friday night consists largely of actions that Mexico had already promised to take in prior discussions with the United States over the past several months, according to officials from both countries who are familiar with the negotiations.

Friday’s joint declaration says Mexico agreed to the “deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border.” But the Mexican government had already pledged to do that in March during secret talks in Miami between Kirstjen Nielsen, then the secretary of homeland security, and Olga Sanchez, the Mexican secretary of the interior, the officials said.

The centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s deal was an expansion of a program to allow asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal cases proceed. But that arrangement was reached in December in a pair of painstakingly negotiated diplomatic notes that the two countries exchanged. Ms. Nielsen announced the Migrant Protection Protocols during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee five days before Christmas.

Slamming the story as "another false report" from the NYT, Trump insisted that the latest agreement with Mexico over the border involved concessions that the US has been trying to secure for months. Without Trump's tariff threats, these concessions likely never would have been achieved. And going forward, there will now likely be "great cooperation" between both sides - and if not, Trump can always bring back his tariff threats.

Administration officials cited by the NYT said the language in Friday's joint declaration about deploying the national guard throughout Mexico giving priority to the southern border had already been pledged back in March.

In a separate report that Trump will likely also find frustrating, Bloomberg reported that Trump had doubled down on boasts of "large" agricultural sales to Mexico as a key win for the White House that had helped avert the tariffs. However, no such pledges were included as part of the deal according to a handful of Mexican officials.

Amusingly enough, AMLO also celebrated the "important deal" with the US - meaning that the American press are the only people contesting the facts of how the deal went down.

Published:6/9/2019 9:04:51 AM
[Markets] The Pentagon's Spoiling For A Fight... But With China, Not Iran

Authored by Michael Klare via TomDispatch.com,

After years of a fruitless War on Terror, the Pentagon is turning its focus to China and Russia...

The recent White House decision to speed the deployment of an aircraft carrier battle group and other military assets to the Persian Gulf has led many in Washington and elsewhere to assume that the U.S. is gearing up for war with Iran. As in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, U.S. officials have cited suspect intelligence data to justify elaborate war preparations. On May 13th, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan even presented top White House officials with plans to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East for possible future combat with Iran and its proxies. Later reports indicated that the Pentagon might be making plans to send even more soldiers than that.

Hawks in the White House, led by National Security Advisor John Bolton, see a war aimed at eliminating Iran’s clerical leadership as a potentially big win for Washington. Many top officials in the U.S. military, however, see the matter quite differently -- as potentially a giant step backward into exactly the kind of low-tech ground war they’ve been unsuccessfully enmeshed in across the Greater Middle East and northern Africa for years and would prefer to leave behind.

Make no mistake: if President Trump ordered the U.S. military to attack Iran, it would do so and, were that to happen, there can be little doubt about the ultimate negative outcome for Iran. Its moth-eaten military machine is simply no match for the American one. Almost 18 years after Washington’s war on terror was launched, however, there can be little doubt that any U.S. assault on Iran would also stir up yet more chaos across the region, displace more people, create more refugees, and leave behind more dead civilians, more ruined cities and infrastructure, and more angry souls ready to join the next terror group to pop up. It would surely lead to another quagmire set of ongoing conflicts for American soldiers. Think: Iraq and Afghanistan, exactly the type of no-win scenarios that many top Pentagon officials now seek to flee. But don’t chalk such feelings up only to a reluctance to get bogged down in yet one more war-on-terror quagmire. These days, the Pentagon is also increasingly obsessed with preparations for another type of war in another locale entirely: a high-intensity conflict with China, possibly in the South China Sea.

After years of slogging it out with guerrillas and jihadists across the Greater Middle East, the U.S. military is increasingly keen on preparing to combat “peer” competitors China and Russia, countries that pose what’s called a “multi-domain” challenge to the United States. This new outlook is only bolstered by a belief that America’s never-ending war on terror has severely depleted its military, something obvious to both Chinese and Russian leaders who have taken advantage of Washington’s extended preoccupation with counterterrorism to modernize their forces and equip them with advanced weaponry.

For the United States to remain a paramount power -- so Pentagon thinking now goes -- it must turn away from counterterrorism and focus instead on developing the wherewithal to decisively defeat its great-power rivals. This outlook was made crystal clear by then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in April 2018. “The negative impact on military readiness resulting from the longest continuous period of combat in our nation’s history [has] created an overstretched and under-resourced military,” he insisted. Our rivals, he added, used those same years to invest in military capabilities meant to significantly erode America’s advantage in advanced technology. China, he assured the senators, is “modernizing its conventional military forces to a degree that will challenge U.S. military superiority.” In response, the United States had but one choice: to reorient its own forces for great-power competition. “Long-term strategic competition -- not terrorism -- is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.”

This outlook was, in fact, already enshrined in the National Defense Strategy of the United States of America, the Pentagon’s overarching blueprint governing all aspects of military planning. Its $750 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2020, unveiled on March 12th, was said to be fully aligned with this approach. “The operations and capabilities supported by this budget will strongly position the U.S. military for great-power competition for decades to come,” acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan said at the time.

In fact, in that budget proposal, the Pentagon made sharp distinctions between the types of wars it sought to leave behind and those it sees in its future. “Deterring or defeating great-power aggression is a fundamentally different challenge than the regional conflicts involving rogue states and violent extremist organizations we faced over the last 25 years,” it noted. “The FY 2020 Budget is a major milestone in meeting this challenge,” by financing the more capable force America needs “to compete, deter, and win in any high-end potential fight of the future.”

Girding for “High-End” Combat

If such a high-intensity war were to break out, Pentagon leaders suggest, it would be likely to take place simultaneously in every domain of combat -- air, sea, ground, space, and cyberspace -- and would feature the widespread utilization of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and cyberwarfare. To prepare for such multi-domain engagements, the 2020 budget includes $58 billion for advanced aircraft, $35 billion for new warships -- the biggest shipbuilding request in more than 20 years -- along with $14 billion for space systems, $10 billion for cyberwar, $4.6 billion for AI and autonomous systems, and $2.6 billion for hypersonic weapons. You can safely assume, moreover, that each of those amounts will be increased in the years to come.

Planning for such a future, Pentagon officials envision clashes first erupting on the peripheries of China and/or Russia, only to later extend to their heartland expanses (but not, of course, America’s). As those countries already possess robust defensive capabilities, any conflict would undoubtedly quickly involve the use of front-line air and naval forces to breach their defensive systems -- which means the acquisition and deployment of advanced stealth aircraft, autonomous weapons, hypersonic cruise missiles, and other sophisticated weaponry. In Pentagon-speak, these are called anti-access/area-defense (A2/AD) systems.

As it proceeds down this path, the Department of Defense is already considering future war scenarios. A clash with Russian forces in the Baltic region of the former Soviet Union is, for instance, considered a distinct possibility. So the U.S. and allied NATO countries have been bolstering their forces in that very region and seeking weaponry suitable for attacks on Russian defenses along that country’s western border.

Still, the Pentagon’s main focus is a rising China, the power believed to pose the greatest threat to America’s long-term strategic interests. “China’s historically unprecedented economic development has enabled an impressive military buildup that could soon challenge the U.S. across almost all domains,” Admiral Harry Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) and now the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, typically testified in March 2018. “China’s ongoing military modernization is a core element of China’s stated strategy to supplant the U.S. as the security partner of choice for countries in the Indo-Pacific.”

As Harris made clear, any conflict with China would probably first erupt in the waters off its eastern coastline and would involve an intense U.S. drive to destroy China’s A2/AD capabilities, rendering that country’s vast interior essentially defenseless. Harris’s successor, Admiral Philip Davidson, as commander of what is now known as the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, or USINDOPACOM, described such a scenario this way in testimony before Congress in February 2019: “Our adversaries are fielding advanced anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) systems, advanced aircraft, ships, space, and cyber capabilities that threaten the U.S. ability to project power and influence into the region.” To overcome such capabilities, he added, the U.S. must develop and deploy an array of attack systems for “long-range strike[s]” along with “advanced missile defense systems capable of detecting, tracking, and engaging advanced air, cruise, ballistic, and hypersonic threats from all azimuths.”

If you read through the testimony of both commanders, you’ll soon grasp one thing: that the U.S. military -- or at least the Navy and Air Force -- are focused on a future war-scape in which American forces are no longer focused on terrorism or the Middle East, but on employing their most sophisticated weaponry to overpower the modernized forces of China (or Russia) in a relatively brief spasm of violence, lasting just days or weeks. These would be wars in which the mastery of technology, not counterinsurgency or nation building, would -- so, at least, top military officials believe -- prove the decisive factor.

The Pentagon’s Preferred Battleground

Such Pentagon scenarios essentially assume that a conflict with China would initially erupt in the waters of the South China Sea or in the East China Sea near Japan and Taiwan. U.S. strategists have considered these two maritime areas America’s “first line of defense” in the Pacific since Admiral George Dewey defeated the Spanish fleet in 1898 and the U.S. seized the Philippines. Today, USINDOPACOM remains the most powerful force in the region with major bases in Japan, Okinawa, and South Korea. China, however, has visibly been working to erode American regional dominance somewhat by modernizing its navy and installing along its coastlines short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, presumably aimed at those U.S. bases.

By far its most obvious threat to U.S. dominance in the region, however, has been its occupation and militarization of tiny islands in the South China Sea, a busy maritime thoroughfare bounded by China and Vietnam on one side, Indonesia and the Philippines on the other. In recent years, the Chinese have used sand dredged from the ocean bottom to expand some of those islets, then setting up military facilities on them, including airstrips, radar systems, and communications gear. In 2015, China’s President Xi Jinping promisedPresident Obama that his country wouldn’t take such action, but satellite imagery clearly shows that it has done so. While not yet heavily fortified, those islets provide Beijing with a platform from which to potentially foil U.S. efforts to further project its power in the region.

“These bases appear to be forward military outposts, built for the military, garrisoned by military forces, and designed to project Chinese military power and capability across the breadth of China’s disputed South China Sea claims,” Admiral Harris testified in 2018. “China has built a massive infrastructure specifically -- and solely -- to support advanced military capabilities that can deploy to the bases on short notice.”

To be clear, U.S. officials have never declared that the Chinese must vacate those islets or even remove their military facilities from them. However, for some time now, they’ve been making obvious their displeasure over the buildup in the South China Sea. In May 2018, for instance, Secretary of Defense Mattis disinvited the Chinese navy from the biennial “Rim of the Pacific” exercises, the world’s largest multinational naval maneuvers, sayingthat “there are consequences” for that country’s failure to abide by Xi’s 2015 promise to Obama. “That’s a relatively small consequence,” he added. “I believe there are much larger consequences in the future.”

What those consequences might be, Mattis never said. But there is no doubt that the U.S. military has given careful thought to a possible clash in those waters and has contingency plans in place to attack and destroy all the Chinese facilities there. American warships regularly sail provocatively within a few miles of those militarized islands in what are termed “freedom of navigation operations,” or FRONOPS, while U.S. air and naval forces periodically conduct large-scale military exercises in the region. Such activities are, of course, closely monitored by the Chinese. Sometimes, they even attempt to impede FRONOPS operations, leading more than once to near-collisions. In May 2018, Admiral Davidson caused consternation at the Pentagon by declaring, “China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States” -- a comment presumably intended as a wake-up call, but also hinting at the kinds of conflicts U.S. strategists foresee arising in the future.

The Navy’s War vs. Bolton’s War

The U.S. Navy sends a missile-armed destroyer close to one of those Chinese-occupied islands just about every few weeks. It’s what the U.S. high command likes to call “showing the flag” or demonstrating America’s resolve to remain a dominant power in that distant region (though were the Chinese to do something similar off the U.S. West Coast it would be considered the scandal of the century and a provocation beyond compare). Just about every time it happens, the Chinese authorities warn off those ships or send out their own vessels to shadow and harass them.

On May 6th, for example, the U.S. Navy sent two of its guided-missile destroyers, the USS Preble and the USS Chung Hoon, on a FRONOPS mission near some of those islands, provoking a fierce complaint from Chinese officials. This deadly game of chicken could, of course, go on for years without shots being fired or a major crisis erupting. The odds of avoiding such an incident are bound to drop over time, especially as, in the age of Trump, U.S.-China tensions over other matters -- including tradetechnology, and human rights -- continue to grow. American military leaders have clearly been strategizing about the possibility of a conflict erupting in this area for some time and, if Admiral Davidson’s remark is any indication, would respond to such a possibility with considerably more relish than most of them do to a possible war with Iran.

Yes, they view Iran as a menace in the Middle East and no doubt would like to see the demise of that country’s clerical regime. Yes, some Army commanders like General Kenneth McKenzie, head of the U.S. Central Command, still show a certain John Bolton-style relish for such a conflict. But Iran today -- weakened by years of isolation and trade sanctions -- poses no unmanageable threat to America’s core strategic interests and, thanks in part to the nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration, possesses no nuclear weapons. Still, can there be any doubt that a war with Iran would turn into a messy quagmire, as in Iraq after the invasion of 2003, with guerrilla uprisings, increased terrorism, and widespread chaos spreading through the region -- exactly the kind of “forever wars” much of the U.S. military (unlike John Bolton) would prefer to leave behind?

How this will all play out obviously can’t be foreseen, but if the U.S. does not go to war with Iran, Pentagon reluctance may play a significant role in that decision. This does not mean, however, that Americans would be free of the prospect of major bloodshed in the future. The very next U.S. naval patrol in the South China Sea, or the one after that, could provide the spark for a major blowup of a very different kind against a far more powerful -- and nuclear-armed -- adversary. What could possibly go wrong?

Published:6/8/2019 10:33:05 PM
[Markets] Druckenmiller: If Bernie Became President, Stocks Would Crash 40%, "But We'd All Be Equally Poor"

Billionaire hedge fund manager Stan Druckenmiller unleashed some uncomfortable fact bombs on an unsuspecting CNBC audience yesterday in a wide-ranging discussion touching on everything from Trump's re-election (we thinks Trump will lose), to the China trade war (killing 'animal spirits'), to government intervention in minumum wage and charter schools.

Earlier this week, Druckenmiller said he believed President Donald Trump will lose his reelection bid thanks to discontent in key swing states. He said the Republican president got lucky in 2016 and could lose if Democrats run a more centrist candidate.

“I personally think it’s going to depend on the Democratic candidate,... he'll win against Comrade Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, but he drew an inside straight: He won seven out of seven states by less than half a percent,” Druckenmiller said.

“If you go county by county in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, he is in deep, deep, deep trouble. And that was with the economy growing at 3%.”

The problem, he said, would be if a “crazy” Democrat beats him.

And, in perhaps his most notable comment, Druckenmiller warned of just that - the effect of a Bernie Sanders presidency on markets.

“If Bernie Sanders became president, I think stock prices should be 30% to 40% lower than they are now,” he said Friday on CNBC’sSquawk Box.

“The good news is we’d all be much more equal because everybody would be poorer but the rich would have lost a lot more wealth than the poor would have,” he joked.

Druckenmiller's views coincide with many other hedge fund managers feel that a far-left candidate and their policies could increase regulation and taxes, deflating stock prices. The Vermont senator outlined a plan in a New York Times op-ed earlier this year that would prevent companies from repurchasing their stock unless they pay workers at least $15 an hour and other benefits.

But Druckenmiller had plenty more to say...

On Trump Tweets and the US-China Trade War

JOE KERNEN: I've talked to you in recent days and you had an interview that got a lot of play at The Economics Club and so we'll start by saying: so, a thousand points today -- I'm sorry 100 points today would bring us up almost a thousand for the week. So, we've had a snap back. And I asked you, you sold everything and you said, you know these headlines don't really necessarily cover the nuances of what you've done in the last couple of weeks. Right? I mean they said you've sold everything and got in Treasuries. Was that -- that's not exactly what you did, is it?

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: No, but I did do a lot. So I was over 90% invested. Fat and happy. Fed look like they were going in the right direction. And the Sunday of the Trump Tweet-- came in Monday the market was only down a half or 1% and decided to go to net flat.

JOE KERNEN: That was the first China -- that was the China –

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: The China Tweet.

JOE KERNEN: Not the Mexico Tweet.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: The China Tweet.  I just kind of wanted to take a deep breath and process it. Net flat doesn't mean I sold everything. I kept all my long investments and used other vehicles again -- the other thing I did was I bought a bunch of Treasuries just because I wanted -- and by the way it took me three days, I wish I had done it all the first day but didn't have the courage or the gumption or whatever. And yeah that's--that's what I did and pretty much stayed there until the Fed repivot, acceleration, whatever you want to call it, Tuesday morning. I’m nowhere near back to where I was but I’ve gotten a little more exposed during a week.

JOE KERNEN: But, you also point out and you say a lot of its luck so I mean it looked like you said ‘Wow I'm going to play—’ ‘I'm going to ride these Treasuries as they go up and the yields fall’ -- but that wasn't one of it you need to go somewhere and have more Treasuries and then all of a sudden that was serendipity and the Treasury market just took off after you did that too. Right. So, it looks like another—

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: Soros used to have this thing called the one-way bet. What's a one-way bet? That's when you—very-- have a lot of conviction that something might not move but if it moves it will only move in one direction. So, I bought the Treasury thinking-- for example the two year, I think it was like two thirty or something-- if I'm wrong, it goes to 240. And you can envision a scenario where you could make 150 or 200 basis points. So, I didn't necessarily think I was going to make money but it was a great risk reward. And you're right, now that it's down to 185 or wherever it is this morning, it's no longer one way bet. You could lose 60, 70. Still could probably make 150 so it's not like it's a bad bet it's just it's nowhere near what it was that particular day.

JOE KERNEN: So, you definitely sat up and took notice of what these tariffs might do to what you were pretty happy about and that is deregulation, tax reform, animal spirits for the Markets, all these things that did happen in the first couple of years of the Trump presidency. Do you think this is enough of a headwind to really reverse some of all that all those positive things to where you’re-- could we going to a recession? Could the market have a much bigger pullback than we've seen so far? Is that -- is that all in the horizon? You still don't know?

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: Joe, the answer is I don't know. But I'm managing my own money and I don't need to play every day. I'm not competing. And you said it perfectly. I think I called in right after my knee replacement the day after the election.

JOE KERNEN: You did.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: And you guys were great. We had a discussion about how none of us understood with cutting taxes and deregulation why the market would go down because Trump had been elected. And I think we talked about animal spirits in that interview at the time and maybe the economy could grow at 3% under this guy. And I wish I had followed my own advice more in action but that's kind of what happened. And animal spirits is something you can't measure but confidence matters and you do wonder and “The Journal” had a great piece on this, I think Tuesday morning, you do wonder whether this is enough to kill animal spirits. And what do you mean by animal spirits? Well, for example, if you're a company and you're thinking about building a plant or doing capital spending, I mean, really? I mean aren't you going to wait now see how this thing is resolved, what's going on? But I don't know if you calculate the tariffs at least the one we've had just in and of themselves it doesn't look like it's that damaging but at the same time Ben Bernanke who's a great. great mind got a lot of IQ points on me. He thought subprime was contained. Because if you just do the math same thing the tariff thing doesn't look that damaging but if you take all the other effects and confidence and we've had a few more things down the road since then We had Huawei and 5G was going to be one of the great engines of not only U.S. but global growth. That's challenged now. We we've interrupted that supply chain. Supply chains all over the world have been sort of twisted around. People are wondering. Then we got Mexico that one came out of nowhere. So, there's a lot of uncertainty and I'd love to sit here and tell you I have a crystal ball but I just I don't know.

On GDP

JOE KERNEN: You and Kevin Warsh had been watching the Fed and commenting on the Fed for a long time. It's—

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: Probably too much, yeah.

JOE KERNEN: I mean I have so many questions about this and I'm thinking we only have an hour. That's was what just ran through my head, listening to that. You know what I mean?

BECKY QUICK: Oh no, are we going to get through everything? Right.

JOE KERNEN: That’s what I thought. But, is the Fed still -- isn't there the law of diminishing returns for what they're able to do and we hit that yet I don't think looks like we haven't because they've we got a pause which bounced us in December and then we got something more recently where there might be a cut and it worked again. Is it going to always work just because it makes stocks more – more valuable?

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: No, one day I won't work. We proved in 2008 at some point you start pushing on us on a string. I'll say this: I don't understand the Fed's monetary framework at all. I grew up in an era with Volcker and Greenspan where monetary policy was primarily used for counter cyclical and when the market, excuse me, when the economy started running too hot after a period they would lean against it. And when it looked like things were softening and rolling over they would lean against that. Now we have decimal point inflation targets like it's Armageddon. If it's one point four three two instead of one point six five we're worried about inflation expectations five or ten years down the road. We have a two percent, two point zero, excuse me, inflation target that if we don't meet it it's Armageddon. And I have trouble with that whole -- the preciseness of it and the attention to it. As you know, Joe, we're in-- well you may not agree with me but I think we're in one of the biggest productivity inflection booms since the late 1800s. I am very confident that it's not being measured in real GDP. I'm also very confident I couldn't measure it so don't think I’m ever going to say -- but I know that we have all these free products out there that don't measure in GDP. Just a couple of examples somebody at MIT did a study and said the average American would pay eighteen thousand dollars a year to use the Google search engine. I know I'd pay more by the way. But here's -- here's just one little anecdote so in 2010 Americans took I think or globally took 300 billion pictures. Okay. This year we took two and a half trillion pictures. Okay. And the pictures this year on the phone in your pocket are better than the pictures you were taking with a Kodak camera eight years ago. And if you look at GDP accounting, all right, there is no accounting and value for those pictures. It's done nothing for GDP. In fact, you could argue since we used to go in and pay 50 cents per picture when we want to have them developed that added GDP and that's no longer in there so that it now literally subtracts from GDP. And I could give you a million other examples.

On Fed-Enabled Zombies and Fear of Recession

MICHAEL SANTOLI: If real growth is higher and you have these powerful long-term trends that are working in favor of that, how is the Fed, at two and a quarter to two and a half percent short-term interest rates, restraining that? In other words, you mentioned that the Fed is sort of repivoted because it seems to want to move toward where the market is at this point. What's the difference if the Fed were at 2% or one and a half or two and a two and a quarter to two and a half of it is right now?

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: Well because the gig economy is important but it's not the only economy. And economics works on the -- the economy works on the margin and on confidence and there's a lot of whole other areas, autos, old-line retail, global trade, big, that are deteriorating. And I actually think the Fed is right to be worried. I think we could be an inflection point. And I think they'd be crazy not to think so. I have no problem with what Chairman Powell has done. I think he inherited a very tough job. My biggest problem is what Yellen did. We had a booming economy fairly early cycle. I know I talked too much about the Fed. But at the time I said they should sneak one in every time they can until they get to some normal rate. I deeply, deeply believe in a capitalist system, you need a hurdle rate for investment. And if that rate is not up there somewhere around three or four, people are going to get crazy. Investors going to get crazy. Corporations are going to get crazy. Zombies are going to stay in business. And we have the opportunity to get there but that doesn't mean—

MICHAEL SANTOLI: Well, she did sneak one in December 2015. The markets kind of continued falling apart and then they were on hold for a year.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah but we--we had that whole period in 2016 where, in my opinion, they could have gotten to three and a half or four. We'll never know. But they could have at least tried okay. but once confidence turns down, you know, you got to deal with the hand you're dealt. And Chairman Powell has now got a tough situation on his hand.

JOE KERNEN: You've evolved—

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: If he was at four, I'd say we should really be cutting and it would be great. But we're not at four.

BECKY QUICK: But does that mean you think that there are bubbles that have built up in the equity markets and other markets around if there are still zombie companies that are out there? Have we not shaken things out? Because we haven't been at three or four percent in a very long time.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah, we have 10 trillion in corporate debt. We had six trillion. I think you and I did an interview for Delivering Alpha and it was like seven and a half trillion at the time. So, ironically by trying to achieve escape velocity we are in worse shape for a recession now than if things that slowed down when the period you're talking about Mike. Because there's been a lot of nonsense that's going on since then. Now, we have the global trade situation so, you just you don't know.

JOE KERNEN: You’re -- from what I'm hearing your views have evolved on on the Fed at this point. And I like what you're saying because it's a much more I think positive place that it puts us if it's productivity and innovation and technology that has us stuck in this low interest rate environment. And I agree with, you said you don't know if I agree with it, I've been saying: do you know what I’d pay for Google Maps? What would I pay for Google Maps? It has changed my – when am I going to get somewhere? Oh, I know when I have to leave. I know when I have to leave because it says like ‘Oh but there's traffic on that right.’ If I had that when I lived in L.A. I would I would have gone off the freeways, instead of being so-- I would have been able save seven years of my life with Google Maps.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: By the way, this affects inflation, too—

JOE KERNEN: Yeah.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: Quality adjustment.

JOE KERNEN: That's -- that's why rates are so low.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: If this was measured properly we're probably already in deflation. By the way that's a good thing. We have good deflations and bad deflations. That's my objection to the 2% inflation target for all seasons. In the late 1800s in the in the industrial revolution we had three percent deflation and we are growing at eight percent real. So, I don't know where we are. I don't know whether we're at zero, whether we’re at one, or we’re at two. But I wish would stop worrying about it. Because we're in a productivity shock and this thing can't be measured. So, to sit there and count decimal points until at least A) the economic statistics catch up with what's happened, the preciseness I just think is but—

JOE KERNEN: This thing didn't exist 15 years ago, how much is this thing worth and what this is capable? I have the Encyclopedia Britannica everywhere I go. I mean, I mean, I don't even know what Andrew does on this thing.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: I’m glad you mentioned the Encyclopedia Britannica because used to pay for that yeah and that added to GDP. So relative to now, that's a negative.

BECKY QUICK: Music. I listen to music.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: Now, by the way, I’m not an idiot. I know that some of this shows up in advertising but a lot of that is coming out of TV and the whole value there's no way—

MICHAEL SANTOLI: Well, you're large your point is that we're not correct, if the Fed is not correct to fear the Japan scenario, in this instance.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: No not at all.

MICHAEL SANTOLI: And it explains why Treasury yields are where they are probably.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: Yeah and this whole obsession with a zero bound you know why we're at the zero bound because they put rates at the zero bound. We have never had deflation that I can find that started because we were near the zero bound we have deflation in every instant because there was an asset bubble. So, if I was trying to create deflation like I'm in this evil Darth Vader, like ‘Let's create deflation,’ I would have been done exactly what the Fed did from 2012 until a couple of years ago.

BECKY QUICK: I'm completely confused. Do you feel good about things right now we're bad?

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: I'm worried about the long term because you know and I don't like the victory laps about how great things are because we've used monetary policy to create a lot of build ups. By the way, I haven't even gone into what the government's done –

BECKY QUICK: Well, not just federal governments but state governments, too—

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: There’s no way we’d be looking at a trillion-dollar deficit at full employment and no one would mind if the government hadn’t been -- if the Fed hadn't been running policy to enable these guys. And then you have President Trump running around saying, ‘Well we need to keep interest rates low because the debt is high.’ Well, Jesus, why do you think the debt is high? And if you went to debt to explode more just keep interest rates low. I'm concerned about the long term, as a practitioner I don't my central case is we're not going into a recession. I'm worried about it and with the -- with the new view of the Fed, you know, I'm a liquidity guy. I'm not worried, I'm not that worried about markets right you.

On Capital Gains Taxes

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: I'm going to shock you. I kind of agree with Biden. I don't -- I don't really think capital gains promote investment as much as advertised out there. And it's hard for me to believe Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos would have said, ‘Oh my god the capital gains tax is going to be 35% I'm not going to -- I'm not going to try and found Amazon or Google.’ So, I don't have a problem with it.

But you probably want to – you wouldn't want to expand entitlements. You'd probably want to fix entitlements and debt with the money you raised—

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: Yes, Joe. I’m still a conservative. Don't worry. I don’t want to give you a heart attack over there. I would also not be giving, like, tax breaks for buying used corporate jets. I get the new jets. Okay. Somebody has to make them, you get employment, and all that. But used jets. So, there's all kinds of stuff in the tax system. The problem with the capital gains hike and I don't really know the answer is it might not raise that much revenue. And I'm not I'm not into something just because it's fair. But frankly, I think, I kind of agree with Biden. But I did want to say this: you know how we could solve inequality very easily of welt? Just do something disastrous to the economy. The stock market would go down 40% and inequality would drop substantially.

ROBERT FRANK: Well, that’s what worked -- it fell in 2008. That's exactly what happened

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: Of course.

ROBERT FRANK: We had the biggest decrease in inequality since the 1970s.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: And that's the problem of this whole argument today. I mean, a little-known fact because the media doesn't want to put it out there is real wages have gone up under Trump. It's the first time it's happened I think in 40 years. And we all know African-American employment is up because President Trump tells us every 10 minutes. We all know other minorities. And so, the bottom is doing better. The problem is the top, the differential is getting even bigger. And even though it's one of the seven deadly sins one of the most powerful human emotions is envy. So, the narrative about inequality is correct but one piece of the story is left out, is that everybody is doing better. Unfortunately, the people that are really accelerating. So, I don't believe the way to solve this is let's just ruin everything and then everybody will be worse off for it.

ROBERT FRANK: Right, but the inverse of that which is what the conservatives say ‘Well, growth will solve everything.’ In fact, during high growth periods inequality increases, so it doesn't solve inequality. I am shocked, though, that you're saying you would support a higher capital gains rate. You're a guy that I would guess makes a large share of your income from capital gains. Right?

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: I wish. I’m too short term. But I have had substantial capital gains but it's no—

ROBERT FRANK: So, has that changed for you? Was there a time when you

wouldn't have but now—

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: I've never been big on—

ROBERT FRANK: What should the rate be? What do you think is a fair rate for it? Should it be taxed the same as income? 37%. There was a time when they were the same.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: I wouldn't have a problem with that but then don't tell me you're going to raise the 37 to 50 and it's going up on both of them.

ROBERT FRANK: Right.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: Okay. As far as I'm concerned, they didn't do tax reform. Okay. We did some tax reform in ‘86. This wasn't tax reform, if anything the thing became even more complicated. But I would have no problem with normalizing capital gains. I hope I'm not wrong because I could be. To me, you don't want to raise any taxes unless you're going to raise revenue. I don't want to raise capital gains taxes because I want to hurt somebody.

JOE KERNEN: Do you think the marginal rate is at the right level right now?

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: I don't know. I'm a Laffer curve guy. I don't know where we Are. you know we know it's between zero and a hundred. I don't know which it is.

JOE KERNEN: But would you-- do we need to -- that you've mentioned seventy cents of every dollar. I mean that's a problem is it not?

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: What’s seventy cents?

ROBERT FRANK: Who is paying—

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: Oh, the entitlements?

JOE KERNEN: The entitlements. I mean if we do anything with increased revenue, I mean, spending should still probably be cut and we need to address entitlements.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: We don't even need to cut entitlement spending. We just need to slow them down or make them grow at zero and all our problems go away.

JOE KERNEN: It’s not exactly—

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: They all went up over five or six percent last year what nominal GDP growth less than that. They're still gaining. And by the way, we haven't even gotten into the really demographic-- the gray boom spot I talked about twelve years ago, if you remember. I'm sure you don't. I thought the real consequences won't screw up until 2025, 2030. I said this in 2012. Well it's not 2025 yet but we're getting there.

On Minimum Wage and Charter Schools

BECKY QUICK: Let's talk minimum wage and much more with our special guest today, Stanley Druckenmiller who is the CEO of Duquesne Family Office. Stan, you saw what Bernie had to say. You were watching this week as it was coming out and you sent us an email because I got you a little fired up. What do you think about it?

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: Well first of all, on the minimum wage, we just had a discussion about innovation. We didn't we didn't go into the cloud and to me the choice is it's not minimum wage versus a wage. It's minimum wage versus no wage. And if you want to hurt workers with what's going on with the alternatives with technology, jack the minimum wage up enough and you'll have job losses as a result. So, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

But the thing that really enraged me that Comrade Sanders said was his comment about charter schools. I've spent the better part of my life, one of the great joys of my life was meeting Geoff Canada. It's funny, I was talking to Fiona last night. To have met Geoff, Geoff Canada and Ken Langone and have them both in my life for over 30 years, I mean what a privilege and what luck. But getting back on topic. When he says he's against charter schools I know the man just doesn't care about inequality. All he cares about power. Because that is disruptive to the African-American community who prefers this and the only way you get out of inequality is with education at the early level and giving everybody on this -- in this country a shot. And believe me this myth about pulling up your bootstraps and you know I'm going to make it, that's fine for ninety ninety-five percent of the population. But there are communities out there where these kids have no shot because the public schools are just so terrible they're never going to be able to compete in our economy. And for Sanders, I assume he's in the pocket of the Teacher’s Unions, I don't know why said it but how in the world can you be against charter schools if you're serious about the inequality issue.

BECKY QUICK: And we should tell people about the work you've done in Harlem. How long have you been there?

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: Well I've been there -- I met Geoff in 1993. But it's Geoff’s work it's not mine. But we're serving 13,000 kids and 25,000 families in a hundred blocks of Central Harlem. We've moved the needle on every single metric. And Becky, if you just even drive up there and I showed you pictures of 25 years ago, you won't even believe what's out in the community. Our biggest problem is gentrification which is a high-class problem relative what we're looking at. And what's really cool is the Harlem Children's Zone model which by the way Geoffrey and Anne, not me, is being replicated in communities all over the country. Obama's Promise Neighborhoods started it. So, we're not just affecting like 13,000 kids up there now. It's becoming a nationwide thing and I think it's one of the answers, one, to the whole to the whole inequality issue. So, it's very exciting.

BECKY QUICK: When you see hundreds of millions of dollars poured into a system like the Newark school system without really decent results to show for any of that what do you think?

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: It broke my heart. But you know, I hate to say it, because I know I know you're going to have viewers who passionately disagree but I'm just not a believer in government being the most effective actor. And this whole tax debate is interesting because I understand, I really do understand why people want higher taxes and they think that's the solution inequality. But you also need to understand, I'd much, much rather have a Jeff Canada implementing programs and use his talents through private sector donors and donors that hold his organization accountable rather than letting the government—

BECKY QUICK: Just to be clear you think that's a solution for the five percent of communities where you're not getting decent public schools, correct? You don't think that this is something -- I mean I'm a product of the public schools for most of my life. My mom was a public schoolteacher. My kids are in the public schools.

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: We’re in the public schools in Harlem. We're not -- one of the big myths perceptions about Harlem Children's Zone is we’re a charter school network. A) that's a small piece of what we do up there we have Baby College, we have pre-k we have employment and technology centers. You know, basically from cradle to college we're all over these kids and all over the process. But we deeply, deeply believe in public schools. So that's not that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm just saying that there are kids that need a shot and it cannot be done just through charter schools. And by the way, if they're charter schools that are not performing they should be shut down.

On Jobs Numbers

BECKY QUICK: Are jobs numbers important today?

STANLEY DRUCKENMILLER: I think they're very important. There's a technical thing when you have five weeks in May that could bias the number upward the seasonal adjustment. They're important only because they affect the Fed. I don't use the job numbers to predict the economy. It's just unbelievable the obsession with a lagging indicator. I use them for entry and exit points to fade. But I think if the job number is weak given everything else they're saying, the Fed will be on a clearer easing path by July.

Published:6/8/2019 3:02:10 PM
[Markets] Meadows: FBI Knew 'Within 60 Days' That Russia Probe 'Built On A Foundation Of Sand'

Mark Meadows confirmed what many have suspected about the Trump-Russia for a long time; the FBI knew early on that the foundation of its counterintelligence investigation against the Trump campaign was built on 'a foundation of sand,' reports the Daily Caller's Chuck Ross. 

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (R) told Hannity Friday night that the FBI knew "within 60 days of them opening the investigation, prior to [Robert] Mueller coming on, the FBI and the [Department of Justice] knew that Christopher Steele was not credible, the dossier was not true, George Papadopoulos was innocent." 

Meadows did not elaborate on why he believes the FBI knew their investigation was built on a mountain of lies, however according to The Hill's John Solomon last month, memos which were retroactively classified by the DOJ reveal that a high-ranking government official who met with Christopher Steele in October 2016 determined that information in the Trump-Russia dossier was inaccurate, and likely leaked to the media. 

Meadows also suggested that the FBI had exculpatory information on Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who was fed the rumor that Russia had negative information on Hillary Clinton, and later bilked for said information by a Clinton-linked Australian diplomat. Papadopoulos would later be subject to a spying operation in which the FBI sent in two operatives to trick the Trump adviser in a failed business / honeypot operation. 

The bureau opened its investigation of the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016, after receiving a tip about Papadopoulos from the Australian government. Within those two months, the FBI team leading the investigation received information from Steele’s dossier. The FBI also dispatched a longtime FBI informant, Stefan Halper, to meet with Papadopoulos.

The pair met in London in mid-September 2016 after Halper offered Papadopoulos $3,000 to write a policy paper. Halper, a former Cambridge professor, was accompanied by a woman he claimed was his assistant, Azra Turk. She is reportedly a government investigator.

Meadows in the past has suggested the FBI had exculpatory information on Papadopoulos that showed the Trump aide was not working with Russia. -Daily Caller

The FBI relied on the Steele dossier to obtain surveillance warrants on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, ostensibly allowing the Obama administration to surveil those Page was in contact with. 

Published:6/8/2019 12:58:13 PM
[Politics] Trump SHUTS DOWN requests to fly LGBT flag outside U.S. embassies! The administration of el Presidente Trumpo refused requests from U.S. embassies to fly LGBTQWatever flags up on their poles in celebration of LGBTQanonophile month. Boo hoo. Of course, Obama allowed it all . . . Published:6/7/2019 9:47:14 PM
[Politics] Trump SHUTS DOWN requests to fly LGBT flag outside U.S. embassies! The administration of el Presidente Trumpo refused requests from U.S. embassies to fly LGBTQWatever flags up on their poles in celebration of LGBTQanonophile month. Boo hoo. Of course, Obama allowed it all . . . Published:6/7/2019 9:17:16 PM
[Markets] Mueller Caught In Another Deception; Key 'Russia Link' Exposed As Informant For US, Ukraine

A Ukrainian businessman painted in the Mueller report as a sinister link to Russia was actually a "sensitive" intelligence source for the US State Department who informed on Ukrainian and Russian issues - and passed messages between the Washington and Kiev, according to The Hill's John Solomon.  

Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked for Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, was described on page 6 of the Mueller report as having "ties to Russian intelligence" - and was cast in a sinister light as a potential threat to democracy. Mueller completely omitted the fact that Kilimnik was working as an informant and intermediary between America and Ukraine, and subsequently indicted him for obstruction of justice. 

Kilimnik was not just any run-of-the-mill source, either.

He interacted with the chief political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, sometimes meeting several times a week to provide information on the Ukraine government. He relayed messages back to Ukraine's leaders and delivered written reports to U.S. officials via emails that stretched on for thousands of words, the memos show.

The FBI knew all of this, well before the Mueller investigation concluded. -The Hill

What's more, the chief political officer at the Kiev embassy from 2014 to 2017, Alan Purcell, told the FBI that State officials - including senior embassy officials Alexander Kasanof and Eric Schultz, thought Klimnik was such a valuable asset that they wouldn't mention his name in official cables out of fear that WikiLeaks would expose him

"Purcell described what he considered an unusual level of discretion that was taken with handling Kilimnik," said one FBI interview report reviewed by Solomon. "Normally the head of the political section would not handle sources, but Kasanof informed Purcell that KILIMNIK was a sensitive source."

Purcell told the FBI that Kilimnik provided "detailed information about OB (Ukraine's opposition bloc) inner workings" that sometimes was so valuable it was forwarded immediately to the ambassador. Purcell learned that other Western governments relied on Kilimnik as a source, too.

"One time, in a meeting with the Italian embassy, Purcell heard the Italian ambassador echo a talking point that was strikingly familiar to the point Kilimnik had shared with Purcell," the FBI report states. -The Hill

And Mueller mentioned none of this in his report despite knowing about it since 2018 more than a year before the final report. 

Three sources with direct knowledge of the inner workings of Mueller's office confirmed to me that the special prosecutor's team had all of the FBI interviews with State officials, as well as Kilimnik's intelligence reports to the U.S. Embassy, well before they portrayed him as a Russian sympathizer tied to Moscow intelligence or charged Kilimnik with participating with Manafort in a scheme to obstruct the Russia investigation. -The Hill

Kilimnik was described by Purcell's predecessor, Alexander Kasanov, as one of the few reliable informants spying on former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, whose Party of Regions had hired Manafort's lobbying firm. 

Kasanof described Kilimnik as one of the few reliable insiders the U.S. Embassy had informing on Yanukovych. Kilimnik began his relationship as an informant with the U.S. deputy chief of mission in 2012-13, before being handed off to the embassy's political office, the records suggest.

"Kilimnik was one of the only people within the administration who was willing to talk to USEMB," referring to the U.S. embassy, and he "provided information about the inner workings of Yanukovych's administration," Kasanof told the FBI agents.

"Kasanof met with Kilimnik at least bi-weekly and occasionally multiple times in the same week," always outside the embassy to avoid detection, the FBI wrote. "Kasanof allowed Kilimnik to take the lead on operational security" for their meetings. -The Hill

And, despite the Mueller report suggesting Kilimnik is a Russian stooge, state officials told the FBI that he did not appear to hold any allegiance to the Kremlin, and had been "flabbergasted at the Russian invasion of Crimea."

"Most sources of information in Ukraine were slanted in one direction or another," Kasanof told the FBI. "Kilimnik came across as less slanted than others."

Solomon corroborated the FBI interviews with Kasanov and Purcell with "scores of State Department emails" which contain regular intelligence dispatches from Kilimnik on what was going on inside of the Yanukovych administration, the Crimea conflict, and Ukrainian and Russian politics. 

Not a threat

Contrary to the dire threat to national security implied in the Mueller report, Kilimnik was allowed to enter the United States twice in 2016 to meet with State officials - meaning he clearly wasn't flagged in visa databases as a foreign intelligence threat. 

Mueller also painted a one-sided picture of Kilimnik's peace plan for Crimea which he had presented to the Trump administration - suggesting that it was a "backdoor" way for Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine. In fact, Kilimnik had presented the idea to the Obama administration in 2016. 

As Solomon notes "That's what many in the intelligence world might call "deception by omission.

Specifically, the Mueller report flagged Kilimnik's delivery of a peace plan to the Trump campaign for settling the two-year-old Crimea conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

"Kilimnik requested the meeting to deliver in person a peace plan for Ukraine that Manafort acknowledged to the Special Counsel's Office was a 'backdoor' way for Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine," the Mueller report stated.

But State emails showed Kilimnik first delivered a version of his peace plan in May 2016 to the Obama administration during a visit to Washington. Kasanof, his former handler at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, had been promoted to a top policy position at State, and the two met for dinner on May 5, 2016.

The day after the dinner, Kilimnik sent an email to Kasanof's official State email address recounting the peace plan they had discussed the night before. -The Hill

While Kilimnik did not respond to The Hill for comment, he slammed the "made-up narrative" about him in a May email to the Washington Postadding "I have no ties to Russian or, for that matter, any intelligence operation." 

That said, as Solomon writes "Kilimnik holds Ukrainian and Russian citizenship, served in the Soviet military, attended a prestigious Russian language academy and had contacts with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. So it is likely he had contacts over the years with Russian intelligence figures. There also is evidence Kilimnik left the U.S.-funded International Republican Institute (IRI) in 2005 because of concerns about his past connections to Russia, though at least one IRI witness disputed that evidence to the FBI, the memos show."

However Mueller's omission of his "extensive, trusted assistance to the State Department seems inexplicable." 

We learn this four days after deceptive edits were found in the Mueller report regarding a phone call between attorneys for President Trump and former national security adviser Mike Flynn designed to make it appear as though Trump was attempting to strongarm Flynn and possibly obstruct justice by shaping witness testimony. 

As Solomon concludes - "A few more such errors and omissions, and Americans may begin to wonder if the Mueller report is worth the paper on which it was printed.

Published:6/7/2019 9:45:24 AM
[Markets] Bernie & Joe: The Old White Men Leading The Democratic Race

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

In 2018, a record turnout of women, minorities, and the young added 40 House seats to Democratic ranks and made Nancy Pelosi speaker.

This, we were told, was the new diversity coalition - women, people of color, Millennials—that would take down The Donald in 2020.

So how has the Democratic field sorted itself out half a year later?

According to the Real Clear Politics average of polls, two old white guys, Joe Biden, 76, and Bernie Sanders, 77, are setting the pace and have together corralled more than half of all Democrats.

There is a good chance the party of minorities, Millennials, and women will be led in 2020 by a white man who would be the oldest candidate ever nominated by a major party.

Biden and Bernie may be wheezing, but the old white boys are out in front of the pack.

Add Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke, running fifth and sixth, and 60 percent of Democrats favor white men for the nomination. Only 20 percent favor one of five women: Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, or Tulsi Gabbard.

The African-American candidates, Harris and Cory Booker, are backed by only one in 10 Democrats. Julian Castro, the lone Hispanic, is at 1 percent, as is the Asian-American Andrew Yang.

While the first primaries are still half a year off, the odds today—after nominating Barack Obama twice and then Hillary Clinton—favor Democrats returning to their 20th-century traditional candidate, a seasoned white man.

Frontrunner Biden is benefitting from the fact that his closest rival, Bernie Sanders, is a socialist with a large and loyal following from his 2016 campaign. For Bernie sits on a huge pile of votes that Biden may not be able to win but that Bernie is denying to any other challenger.

Indeed, Bernie is becoming a problem for a whole host of Democrats.

If he defeats Biden for the nomination, he pulls Democrats a long way towards becoming a US replica of the British Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn. Many moderate Democrats will not vote for a lifelong socialist who chose to spend his honeymoon during the Cold War in the Soviet Union.

Yet as long as Bernie holds onto the votes he has, he prevents any candidate of color, any woman, or any fresh new face from amassing enough strength in the polls to get within striking distance of Biden.

Bernie is thus today a de facto ally of Biden. He holds too few votes to take the nomination from Joe, but sufficient votes to stay in the race through the early primaries and deny any other Democrat a clean shot at Biden.

As of now, there are two lanes to the Democratic nomination—the centrist-moderate lane Biden occupies almost exclusively, and the left lane where Bernie leads but is being challenged by Elizabeth Warren.

Where does the Democratic race, with the largest number of entries in political history at almost two dozen, stand at the first turn?

Though Biden has more than a third of all Democrats behind him, he has slipped from his highest ratings and is under attack from his many rivals who believe that a new day has come and who want old white men to go into retirement and get out of the way.

Biden is being hit for a variety of sins over a career that began in 1972. He voted to authorize George W. Bush to take us to war in Iraq. He led the fight for the 1994 anti-crime bill, now viewed as tough on minorities. He left Anita Hill twisting in the wind when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas hearings. He denounced busing for racial balance back in the 1970s and 1980s.

Now the old plagiarism charges from his law school days and his presidential campaign of 1988 are being resurrected, ever since the Biden campaign distributed materials to back up his plan for combatting climate change with lines plagiarized from other sources.

This week, Biden’s support of the Hyde Amendment, which, for decades, has blocked federal tax funding for almost all abortions, is calling down the wrath of pro-choice Democrats who are both militant and many.

Another noteworthy development of recent weeks is the progress of Elizabeth Warren, due to the sheer number and appeal of her ideas for soaking the rich and using the revenue to create new entitlements in the name of “economic patriotism.” Say what you will, she is talking issues.

Mayor Pete seems to have eased back from his earlier highs, and stalled. As for Beto, he may be flailing those arms around like a drowning man—because he is one. The bloom is off the rose. Beto seems frozen at 4 percent. There is truth in what Alice Roosevelt Longworth said of Tom Dewey’s re-nomination in 1948 after having lost to FDR in 1944.

Published:6/7/2019 9:13:52 AM
[baeed270-5fda-5df8-8573-efdfffa7dcd3] Obamas ink deal to produce exclusive podcasts for Spotify Barack and Michelle Obama's production company is teaming up with Spotify to produce exclusive podcasts for the platform. Published:6/7/2019 7:13:51 AM
[Politics] BOOM! NRA releases letter from Kirsten Gillibrand that may just sink her presidential hopes… Remember when Obama said he ‘evolved’ on gay marriage and America groaned? Well that’s apparently what Kirsten Gillibrand has done when it comes to the NRA because what she says now about . . . Published:6/4/2019 1:30:33 PM
[Politics] BOOM! NRA releases letter from Kirsten Gillibrand that may just sink her presidential hopes… Remember when Obama said he ‘evolved’ on gay marriage and America groaned? Well that’s apparently what Kirsten Gillibrand has done when it comes to the NRA because what she says now about . . . Published:6/4/2019 1:30:33 PM
[Politics] Rep. Waltz: 'Unacceptable' for Obama Officials to Contact Iran Rep. Michael Waltz said Tuesday he's outraged by reports that former Obama officials are working behind the scenes with Iran and urging them not to allow tensions to escalate despite the actions being taken by the Trump administration. Published:6/4/2019 11:28:03 AM
[Media] Chris Cuomo interviewing Eric ‘Obama Wingman’ Holder about impeaching Trump is WHY nobody likes CNN

Because OF COURSE, Chris Cuomo thought it was a good idea to interview Obama’s wingman, Eric Holder, about impeaching Donald Trump. This IS CNN. Watch: "We want to move as quickly as we can, establish the facts as soon as we can, then make a determination about whether or not the President should be impeached," […]

The post Chris Cuomo interviewing Eric ‘Obama Wingman’ Holder about impeaching Trump is WHY nobody likes CNN appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/4/2019 7:57:54 AM
[3b4df20f-2137-51e2-b3d0-56eb46391a29] CNN's Don Lemon insists Trump's base actually likes Obama, just not his policies CNN anchor Don Lemon dismissed the notion that President Trump's supporters dislike former President Obama, insisting they believe that he is a "kind, decent man" who simply didn't like his policies.  Published:6/3/2019 11:53:10 PM
[Obama] Obama Shows The World His Lack Of Knowledge Of The U.S. Constitution

The following article, Obama Shows The World His Lack Of Knowledge Of The U.S. Constitution, was first published on Godfather Politics.

[The following piece was written by Jeff Dunetz and originally appeared at LidBlog.com.  It has been reprinted with permission.] As we and others reported on Friday, former President Barack Hussein Obama lied about U.S. gun laws while speaking at VTEX DAY, the largest digital innovation event in Latin America, which is held in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  ...

Continue reading: Obama Shows The World His Lack Of Knowledge Of The U.S. Constitution ...

Published:6/3/2019 3:55:18 PM
[Obama]

The following article, , was first published on Godfather Politics.

[The following piece was written by Jeff Dunetz and originally appeared at LidBlog.com.  It has been reprinted with permission.] As we and others reported on Friday, former President Barack Hussein Obama lied about U.S. gun laws while speaking at VTEX DAY, the largest digital innovation event in Latin America, which is held in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  ...

Continue reading: ...

Published:6/3/2019 3:22:13 PM
[Politics] 40% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

Forty percent (40%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending June 2.

This week’s finding is up two points from a week ago. Prior to this, that number had been on the decline week-over-week from 43% in early December to 31% by the end of January. It ran in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016, President Obama's last full year in office.

(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 national telephone survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from May 26-June 2, 2019. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 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:6/3/2019 10:50:34 AM
[Markets] Guardian Editors Warn "Demagogue" Trump "Not Welcome" In UK As 10,000 Police Deployed In London

As the Metropolitan Police dispatch over 10,000 police officers to provide extra security during President Trump's three-day state visit to the UK capital - which officially started early Monday when Air Force One touched down in London - the editors of the UK's most left-wing newspaper have published a scathing editorial warning that Trump "was not welcome", and bashing outgoing PM Theresa May's government for inviting him.

Trump

In the editorial - published just a day after London Mayor Sadiq Khan wrote an op-ed in the paper arguing that the UK would be on the "wrong side of history" for hosting Trump - the editors of the Guardian warned that inviting Trump to the UK was a "crass error" and an act of "gross irresponsibility."

Though the paper acknowledged that the visit was "largely symbolic", it added that there was "more at stake here than pomp and circumstance:" Trump is a "demagogue who represents a threat to peace, democracy and the climate of our planet." As the leader of the UK's closest ally, the paper acknowledged that Trump "can't be ignored." But to make him, his wife and four adult children "honored guests of the Queen" risked "legitimizing his destructive policies, his cronyism and his leanings toward autocracy."

Trump's position as the leader of the free world "makes his personality a legitimate source of fascination," the paper's editors argued. But the real danger of hosting Trump to celebrate the 75th anniversary of D-Day - something that should be, according to the etiquette of statecraft, a non-partisan occasion, though this was apparently lost on the Guardian's editors - isn't that it would "boost his ego," but that "his presence and public statements will boost anti-democratic and rightwing populist elements here."

This criticism, it must be noted, glosses over the fact that Trump was democratically elected, that he his 'autocratic leanings' aren't rooted in action or fact, and that intensifying speculation that Trump might refuse to leave the White House should he leave in 2020 (a prospect that's looking increasingly unlikely) is just another example of groundless left-wing hysteria.

The paper blasted Trump over his 'meddling' in the UK's affairs - the president memorably suggested over the weekend that the new Tory government dispatch Nigel Farage to negotiate a new Brexit deal with Brussels - and accused him of violating 'diplomatic norms.'

For a nation "in the throes of a full-blown constitutional crisis," inviting Trump on an official state visit, and, worse still, making him just the third US president after George W Bush and Barack Obama to receive such an honor, is tantamount to an act of "national self-harm."

The Guardian's editors concluded with an exhortation to action for the outgoing prime minister: "It is incumbent upon Mrs May and others to challenge him directly – or risk appearing to give the assault on women’s rights, and bullying of neighbouring states, a seal of approval."

If the Guardians' editors were incensed by Trump's mere presence in the country, imagine how they will feel about this: Around the time his plane touched down in London, Trump fired off a series of tweets comparing London Mayor Sadiq Khan to a "very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job - only half his height." He also blasted the mayor, who authorized a giant balloon portraying Trump as a 'crybaby' (an extremely mature decision, in our estimation), as a "loser" who should "focus on crime" in his city."

If our instincts our correct, this editorial will be merely the first in a daily assault on Trump from a paper that has published patently false stories about Trump's administration, including claims that former Trump campaign executive Paul Manafort met with Julian Assange in furtherance of the 'Russia hoax', and still had the gall to accuse Trump of being a purveyor of 'Fake News'.

Published:6/3/2019 6:20:22 AM
[Sports] Canadians cheer on ‘MVP’ Barack Obama at Game 2 of the #NBAFinals

Apparently, Canadians think Barack Obama is their MVP. Here’s the former president getting a standing ovation at tonight’s Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warrior and the Toronto Raptors: Barack Obama got a standing ovation and MVP chants lol pic.twitter.com/4zGLf0mv3v — Yahoo Sports Canada (@YahooCASports) June 3, 2019 Maybe Obama is […]

The post Canadians cheer on ‘MVP’ Barack Obama at Game 2 of the #NBAFinals appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/2/2019 9:16:58 PM
[Markets] The History And Results Of America's Disastrous Public School System

Authored by Justin Spears via The Foundation for Economic Education,

All across the nation, students are being prodded like cattle into classrooms, and the one-size-fits-all approach is failing them.

There is a popular saying that “the proof is in the pudding.” In the first part of this article set, my colleague Mike Margeson spelled out the historical roots of the American schooling system. He clearly laid out the blueprint that men like Horace Mann used to build a system that does anything but “educates.” Factor in that trillions of dollars have been spent on schooling, and it makes it even harder to justify.

Yet we continue to hear the “Red for Ed” crowd scream for more funding. Here in the state of Indiana, the superintendent of public education is leading an assault on the state legislature for a meager 2 percent increase in state funding. Many educators are characterizing this as a decrease in funding! In no other walk of life would we continue to pour so many resources into a failed system. If you had any doubt about this after reading Part One, let me present you with some facts.

In what was one of many fiery speaking engagements, the late John Taylor Gatto delivered a line that has resonated with me as I have studied the effects the public schooling system has on children. In this particular speech, Gatto was recounting the story of Jaime Escalante, the educator who successfully taught calculus at Garfield High School in Los Angeles yet was forced to resign.

As he finishes describing the trials and fate of Escalante, Gatto explains that above racism and other forms of bigotry is the embedded idea that what really occurred was a deliberate attempt to stop genuine learning. Earlier in the speech, Gatto laid out a compelling case of how and why schooling is meant to keep citizens ignorant. This success at an inner city school was not going to be tolerated by the establishment. He implored his listeners to understand the real problem and to quit “fencing with shadows.”

So what does this mean? Throughout history, compulsory schooling has consistently been viewed as not only progressive but also in need of reform. The most common method of reform has been to throw piles of money at the problem. According to the Department of Education’s (DOE) website, the DOE spent an estimated $69.4 billion in 2017. Compare that to the initial $2.9 billion ($23 billion adjusted for inflation) budgeted under the Elementary and Secondary School Act of 1965.

To put this into context, education spending as a percent of gross domestic product has gone from 2.6 percent in the 1950s to 6.1 percent as recently as 2010. This is just a look at federal spending; each state also allocates a portion of their budget to education, with California leading the way at over $72 million. Finally, we have seen a tremendous amount of private capital injected to help reform schools. Institutions such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have invested billions of dollars in education. All this spending must be yielding better results, right? Let’s take a look.

Contrary to what those in public education will tell you, the system is flush with cash, which generates very few positive results. Take New York as an example. The state was front and center in the reform battle during President Obama’s Race to the Top (RTT) initiative. Leading up to the controversial dash for cash, the city had been experiencing an education overhaul, including battles over charters and a knock-down fight with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Board of Education chief, Joel Klein, and the powerful unions. The state was seeing an infusion of Wall Street cash backing charters, which were being throttled by state Democrats and union bosses.

In addition to the almost $700 million in RTT funds and the $61.4 million spent at the state level, the city of New York saw millions of dollars invested from groups like Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). So what are the results of these investments? According to Cornell University’s NYC Education Data program, less than half of all eighth graders in the state are proficient in English language arts and math. We see this same type of result across the country.

Indeed, these results do not stack up well internationally, either. A 2015 Organization for Economic Cooperation Development report shows just how far behind American students are falling. The average score for 15-year-olds in math, language, and science on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test for the US was 470. Only Mexico (402), Chile (423) and Turkey (420) had lower scores. Thirty-one other nations had scores higher than the US, with Japan leading the way at 532.

Why, in 2019, after all the money spent and all the reforms that have been instituted, are we still seeing such horrific results in our schools? The answer is much simpler than it has been made out to be: The system is broken. There is no remedy to fix this system. It is fundamentally flawed. The famous saying that you cannot fix a problem with the same mind that created it rings so true. So if reform will not work, what are we to do?

Again, the answer is simple: unschool. First, let’s be clear—charters and virtual schools are not desired long-term outcomes. They are soft variants of the current system, and while they may show growth in the short-term, in the long run, they still stifle learning due to government regulation. There are many methods for accomplishing the goal of unschooling. Some systems are already in place, such as homeschooling. Another great model is the Sudbury School. This is a democratic system of education that allows students the autonomy to determine their own paths of learning.

All across the nation, students are being prodded like cattle into classrooms, and the one-size-fits-all approach is failing them. They are bored and uninterested, and we blame them. We tell them and their parents that there is something medically wrong with them—that they need medication and counseling. This ought to weigh on the minds of every adult in America as cruel and abusive. Only systems that return power, and ultimately the desire to learn in children, will suffice. We need more educators like John Taylor Gatto to speak up and have the courage to buck the system. We need more leaders like Kerry McDonald and Dr. Peter Gray, who have led the charge in researching and promoting the unschooling model. Until that time, we will keep fencing with shadows.

Published:6/2/2019 11:44:03 AM
[Markets] "Extreme Vetting" Escalates: U.S. Visa Applicants Must Now Turn Over Their Social Media History

The Trump administration has implemented a new policy, effective on Friday, that now asks most applicants for U.S. visas to provide information on their use of social media, according to The Hill.

Even temporary visitors will be required to list their social media identifiers in a drop-down menu, along with other personal information, when applying. Applicants for visas will be given the option to say that they don’t use social media, but if they are found to be lying, they could face "serious immigration consequences", according to a U.S. Department of State official.

A spokesperson for the Department of State said: 

This is a critical step forward in establishing enhanced vetting of foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States. As we’ve seen around the world in recent years, social media can be a major forum for terrorist sentiment and activity. This will be a vital tool to screen out terrorists, public safety threats, and other dangerous individuals from gaining immigration benefits and setting foot on U.S. soil." 



These identifiers will be incorporated into more traditional background checks and examined against watchlists that are generated by the US government. In the future, applicants are also going to be required to disclose more extensive information on their travel history. These two changes result from a March 2017 executive order targeting "extreme vetting", issued by President Trump. The state department had since noted its intent to implement the policy in March 2018.

The order is partly a result of the deadly shooting of 14 people in San Bernardino, California in 2015. The Obama administration faced criticism after the shooting since the shooter's wife, Tashfeen Malik, had declared "terrorist sympathies" on social media before she was granted a U.S. visa.

Trump's executive order is called "Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States." 

Published:6/1/2019 5:48:08 PM
[Markets] Former Obama Officials Helping Iran To Outmaneuver The United States

A small cadre of former Obama administration officials have been counseling Iranian Government officials since 2016 on how to deal with the Trump administration, according to the Daily Beast, which notes that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zerif has been involved in the ongoing discussions. 

The message? "Don't take Trump's bait. Stay calm." 

Conversations between former Obama officials and Iranian government officials have been ongoing since November 2016. Zarif, who visits the U.S. every year for the U.N. General Assembly in New York, usually meets with lawmakers, think tanks, journalists, and former officials when he is in town.

But the recent round of conversations, which took place over the phone and in person over the last two months, came as lines of communication between the U.S. and Iran, through intermediaries in Europe and elsewhere, deteriorated. -Daily Beast

"It’s not just about what they were saying to the Iranians," an aide told the Beast. "It’s about what they were saying to their political allies back here in the U.S. Their strategy was to divide and isolate the Trump administration just as the Trump administration was trying to re-establish deterrence with Iran. In the current highly partisan political environment, the only safe course is to signal national unity—and they contributed to eroding that at home and abroad."

In September, former Secretary of State John Kerry admitted to meeting with Zarif "three or four times" since Donald Trump took office, a move which drew condemnation from conservatives who said Kerry was "coaching" the Iranian FM on how to deal with the White House. 

In response, some Republican lawmakers levied charges that Kerry is engaged in rogue diplomacy and is undermining the active, elected administration.  

Kerry defended the meetings, saying: "What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better."

Tensions between the US and Iran have increased recently, after Iran warned that it would increase its stockpile of nuclear-related materials - though the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a quarterly report seen on Friday by the Wall Street Journal that Tehran remains in compliance with its main commitments under the 2015 nuclear agreement. On May 8, the one-year anniversary of President Trump pulling out of the nuclear deal, Iran said that it would begin to scale up its nuclear program, and would disregard limits on its stockpiles of enriched uranium and heavy water. 

Iran has rebuffed Trump's calls to come back to the negotiating table for a new, stricter nuclear accord - and has slammed US sanctions which have sent the Iranian economy into a deep recession. 

And now we learn that former Obama administration officials have been advising Iran this whole time

Three Obama officials who worked closely on the Iran nuclear deal, one of whom is still in touch with Iranian government officials, traveled to Capitol Hill to brief congressional Democrats about the situation. Those former officials said would not say if they passed information from Iranian government officials to members of Congress. Rather, they said they focused on educating members about their experience working with Iranian leaders and how Tehran reacts to economic pressure.

Several former officials who spoke to The Daily Beast stressed that their discussions with their Iranian contacts were “normal.” But in other corners, these kind of talks cause alarm. A Republican congressional aide who works on Iran policy told The Daily Beast the conversations may run counter to the Trump administration’s messaging to the Iranian government. -Daily Beast

"Former Obama administration officials gave wrong-headed advice to the regime in Iran that U.S. sanctions couldn’t work without European support and that the regime should just wait out the Trump administration," according to Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the DC-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which has advised the Trump administration on Iran policy. "Now with U.S. sanctions biting and the Islamic Republic facing an economic crisis, they’d be wise to tell their Iranian counterparts to return to negotiations. Bipartisan support for efforts to block the Islamic Republic’s malign activities strengthens American security." 

Others have defended, or at least downplayed the discussions. 

"The communications are not surprising because of the lack of direct contact between the U.S. and Iran. The urgency is greater now. There is a sense of, let’s make sure that there is some channel open," said Dalia Dassa Kaye, director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at the Rand Corporation. "But it’s not clear that they are talking to Iranians that are making the ultimate decisions in the country. It’s not clear that those talking to each other, those in the room, are representing the realities on the ground in their respective countries." 

One former official who worked on the Obama administration’s Iran policy told The Daily Beast he spoke with Iranian government officials as recently as a few weeks ago, as tensions were cresting. His message, he said, was simple: The Trump administration can escalate things plenty all by itself; the Iranians shouldn’t take the bait, fuel the fire, and move things from bad to worse by, for example, pulling completely out of the nuclear deal.

Another former senior Obama administration official, who said he was not himself aware of the conversations, called the talks “neither unusual nor particularly consequential.”

“Exaggerating their significance lends undue credence to those cynically blaming others for their own failing approach,” the ex-official said.

Separately, some former Obama officials are trying to keep the roots of the Iran nuclear deal alive by taking the pulse of lawmakers on Capitol Hill to gauge whether they are in favor of restarting talks in the future. They are also speaking to officials in Europe who are concerned about their long-term ability to trade with Iran and stick to the terms of the Iran nuclear deal, all while attempting to avoid U.S. sanctions. Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)—formerly the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee—had dinner with Zarif “a few weeks ago,” according to a Politico report published May 23. -Daily Beast

Will the 1799 Logan Act be invoked, which made unauthorized diplomacy with foreign powers by a private citizen illegal? 

Published:6/1/2019 11:11:07 AM
[US News] ‘Commence the wiretaps’! Former Obama officials reportedly told Iranian leaders ‘don’t take Trump’s bait’

"FBI better meet with every one of them under deceptive friendly pretenses..."

The post ‘Commence the wiretaps’! Former Obama officials reportedly told Iranian leaders ‘don’t take Trump’s bait’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:6/1/2019 10:09:38 AM
[Markets] America's Allies In The Middle East Are The Real "Troika Of Tyranny"

Authored by Danny Sjursen via TonDispatch.com,

John Bolton claims that “socialist” states in Latin America are a threat. He’s lying to you.

American foreign policy can be so retro, not to mention absurd. Despite being bogged down in more military interventions than it can reasonably handle, the Trump team recently picked a new fight—in Latin America. That’s right! Uncle Sam kicked off a sequel to the Cold War with some of our southern neighbors, while resuscitating the boogeyman of socialism. In the process, National Security Adviser John Bolton treated us all to a new phrase, no less laughable than Bush the younger’s 2002 “axis of evil” (Iran, Iraq, and North Korea). He labeled Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua a “troika of tyranny.”

Alliteration, no less! The only problem is that the phrase ridiculously overestimates both the degree of collaboration among those three states and the dangers they pose to their hegemonic neighbor to the north. Bottom line: In no imaginable fashion do those little tin-pot tyrannies offer either an existential or even a serious threat to the United States. Evidently, however, the phrase was meant to conjure up enough ill will and fear to justify the Trump team’s desire for sweeping regime change in Latin America. Think of it as a micro-version of Cold War 2.0.

Odds are that Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both unrepentant neocons, are the ones driving this Latin American Cold War reboot, even as, halfway across the planet, they’ve been pushing for warwith Iran. Meanwhile, it’s increasingly clear that Donald Trump gets his own kick out of being a “war president” and the unique form of threat production that goes with it.

Since it’s a recipe for disaster, strap yourself in for a bumpy ride. After all, the demonization of Latin American “socialists” and an ill-advised war in the Persian Gulf have already been part of our lived experience. Under the circumstances, remember your Karl Marx: History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.

And add this irony to the grim farce to come: You need only look to the Middle East to see a genuine all-American troika of tyranny. I’m thinking about the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the military junta in Egypt, and the colonizing state of Israel—all countries that eschew real democracy and are working together to rain chaos on an already unstable region.

If you weren’t an American, this might already be clear to you. With that in mind, let’s try on a pair of non-American shoes and take a brief tour of a real troika of tyranny on this planet, a threesome that just happen to be President Trump’s best buddies in the Middle East.

AMERICA’S FAVORITE KINGDOM

The Saudi royals are among the worst despots around. Yet Washington has long given them a pass. Sure, they possess oodles of oil, black gold upon which the United States was once but no longer is heavily dependent. American support for those royals reaches back to World War II, when President Franklin Roosevelt took a detour after the Yalta Conference to meet King Ibn Saud and first struck the devilish deal that, in the decades to come, would keep the oil flowing. In return, Washington would provide ample backing to the kingdom and turn a blind eye to its extensive human rights abuses.

Ultimately, this bargain proved as counterproductive as it was immoral. Sometimes the Saudis didn’t even live up to their end of the bargain. For example, they shut the oil spigot during the 1973 Yom Kippur War to express collective Arab frustration with Washington’s favoritism toward Israel. Worse still, the royals used their continual oil windfall to buildreligious schools and mosques throughout the Muslim world in order to spread the regime’s intolerant Wahhabi faith. From there, it was a relatively short road to the 9/11 attacks in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals (and not one was an Iranian).

More recently, in the Syrian civil war, Saudi Arabia even backed the al-Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda franchise. That’s right, an American partner funded an offshoot of the very organization that took down the twin towers and damaged the Pentagon. For this there have been no consequences.

In other words, Washington stands shoulder to shoulder with a truly abhorrent regime, while simultaneously complaining bitterly about the despotism and tyranny of nations of which it’s less fond. The hypocrisy should be (but generally isn’t) considered staggering here. We’re talking about a Saudi government that only recently allowed women to drive automobiles and still beheads them for “witchcraft and sorcery.” Indeed, mass execution is a staple of the regime. Recently, the kingdom executed 37 men in a single day. (One of them was even reportedly crucified.) Most were not the “terrorists” they were made out to be, but dissidents from Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority convicted, as Amnesty International put it, “after sham trials that…relied on confessions extracted through torture.”

During the Arab Spring of 2011, the Saudi royals certainly proved anything but friends to the budding democratic movements brewing across the region. Indeed, its military even invaded a tiny neighbor to the east, Bahrain, to suppress civil-rights protests by that country’s embattled Shia majority. (A Sunni royal family runs the show there.) In Yemen, the Saudis continue to terror bomb civilians in its war against Houthi militias. Tens of thousands have died—the exact number isn’t known—under a brutal bombing campaign and at least 85,000 Yemeni children have already starved to death thanks to the war and a Saudi blockade of what was already the Arab world’s poorest country. The hell unleashed on Yemen has been dubbed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. It has already producedmillions of refugees and, at present, the world’s worst cholera epidemic.

Through it all, Washington stood by its royals time and again, with The Donald far more gleefully pro-Saudi than his predecessors. His first foreign excursion, after all, was to that kingdom’s capital, Riyadh, where the president seemed to relish joining the martial pageantry of a Saudi “sword dance.” He also let it be known that the cash would keep flowing from the kingdom into military-industrial coffers in this country, announcing a supposedly record $110 billion set of arms deals (including a number closed by the Obama administration and ones that may never come to fruition). Son-in-law Jared Kushner even continues to maintain a bromance with the ambitious and brutal ruling Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

In other words, with fulsome support from Washington, sophisticated American weapons, and a boatload of American cash, Saudi Arabia continues to unleash terror at home and abroad. This much is certain: If you’re looking for a troika of tyrants, that country should top your list.

AMERICA’S FAVORITE MILITARY AUTOCRACY

The United States also backs—and Trump seems to love—Egypt’s military ruler Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. At a press conference at the White House in September 2017, the president leaned toward the general and announced that he was “doing a great job.” Hardly anyone inside the Beltway, in the media, or even on Main Street batted an eye. Washington has, of course, long supported Egypt’s various tyrants, including the brutal Hosni Mubarak who was overthrown early in the Arab Spring. Cairo remains the second-largestannual recipient of American military aid at $1.3 billion annually. In fact, 75 percent of such aid goes to just two countries, the other being Israel. In a sense, Washington simply bribes both states not to fight each other. Now, that’s diplomacy for you!

So, how’s Egypt’s military using all the guns and butter the United States sends its way? Brutally, of course. After Mubarak was overthrown in 2011, Mohammed Morsi won a free and fair election. Less than two years later, the military, which abhors his Muslim Brotherhood organization, seized power in a coup. Enter General al-Sisi. And when Morsi supporters rallied to protest the putsch, the general, who had appointed himself president, promptly ordered his troops to open fire. At least 900 protesters were killed in what came to be known as the 2013 Rabaa Massacre. Since then, Sisi has ruled with an iron fist, extending his personal power, winning a sham reelection with 97.8 percent of the vote, and pushing through major constitutional changes that will allow the generalissimo to stay in power until at least 2030. Washington, of course, remained silent.

Sisi has run a veritable police state, replete with human-rights abuses and mass incarceration. Last year, he even had a show trial of 739 Muslim Brotherhood-associated defendants, 75 of whom were sentenced to death in a single day. He also uses “emergency” counterterrorism laws to jail peaceful dissidents. Thousands of them have gone before military courts. In addition, in US-backed Egypt most forms of independent organization and peaceful assembly remain banned. Cairo even collaborates with its old enemy Israel to maintain a stranglehold of a blockade on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which the United Nations has termed “inhumane.”

Yet Egypt gets a hall pass from the Trump administration. It matters not at all that few places on the planet suppress free speech as effectively as Egypt now does—not since it buys American weaponry and generally does as Washington wants in the region. In other words, a diplomatic state of marital (and martial) bliss protects the second member of the real troika of tyranny.

AMERICA’S FAVORITE APARTHEID STATE

Some will be surprised, even offended, that I include Israel in this imaginary troika. Certainly, on the surface, Israel’s democracy bears no relation to the political worlds of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Still, scratch below the gilded surface of Israeli life and you’ll soon unearth staggering civil-liberties abuses and a penchant for institutional oppression. After all, so extreme have been the abuses of ever more right-wing Israeli governments against the stateless Palestinians that even some mainstream foreign leaders and scholars now compare that country to apartheid South Africa.

And the label is justified. Palestinians are essentially isolated in the equivalent of open-air prisons in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip—not unlike the bantustans of South Africa in the years when that country was white-ruled. In the impoverished, refugee-camp atmosphere of these state-lets, Palestinians lack anything resembling civil rights. They can’t even vote for the Israeli prime ministers who lord it over them. What’s more, the Palestinian citizens of Israel (some 20 percent of the population), despite technically possessing the franchise, are systematically repressed in a variety of ways.

Evidence of an apartheid-style state is everywhere apparent in the Palestinian territories. In violation of countless international norms and UN resolutions, Israel imposes its own version of a police state—functionally, a military occupation of land legally possessed by Arabs. It has begun a de facto annexation of Palestinian land by building a “security wall” through Palestinian villages. Its military constructs special “Jewish only” roads in the West Bank linking illegal Israeli settlements, while further fracturing the fiction of Palestinian contiguity. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not only refused to withdraw those settlements or halt the colonization of Palestinian territory by Jewish Israelis, but during the recent Israeli election promised to begin the actual annexation of the West Bank in his new term.

Israeli military actions are regularly direct violations of the principles of proportionality in warfare, which means that the ratio of Israeli to Palestinian casualties is invariably absurdly disproportionate. Since last spring, at least 175 Palestinians (almost all unarmed) have been shot to death by Israeli soldiers along the Gaza Strip fence line, while 5,884 others were wounded by live ammunition. Ninety-four of those had to have a limb amputated. A staggering 948 of the wounded were minors. In that period, just one Israeli died and 11 were wounded in those same clashes.

Life in blockaded Gaza is almost unimaginably awful. So stringent are the sanctions imposed that one prominent official in a leaked diplomatic cable admitted that Israeli policy was to “keep Gaza’s economy on the brink of collapse.” In fact, back in 2012, one of that country’s military spokesmen even indicated that food was being allowed into the blockaded strip on a 2,300-calories-a-day count per Gazan—just enough, that is, to avoid starvation.

Through it all, with President Trump at the wheel, Netanyahu can feel utterly assured of the near limitless backing of the United States. The Trump team has essentially sanctioned all Israeli behavior, thereby legitimizing the present state of Palestinian life. Trump has moved the US embassy to contested Jerusalem—admitting once and for all that Washington sees the holy city as the sole property of the Jewish state—recognized the illegal Israeli annexation of the conquered Syrian Golan Heights, and increased the flow of military aid and arms to Israel, already the number-one recipient of such American largesse.

Sometimes, in the age of Trump, it almost seems as if “Bibi” Netanyahu were the one guiding American policy throughout the Middle East. No wonder Israel rounds out that troika of tyranny.

WAG THE DOG?

Beyond their wretched human-rights records and undemocratic tendencies, that troika has another particularly relevant commonality as the United States reportedly prepares for a possible war with Iran. Two of those countries—Israel and Saudi Arabia—desperately desire that the American military take on their Iranian nemesis. The third, Egypt, will go along with just about anything as long as Uncle Sam keeps the military aid flowing to Cairo. Think of it as potentially the ultimate “wag the dog” scenario, with Washington taking on the role of the dog.

This alone should make Washington officials cautious. After all, war with Iran would surely prove disastrous (whatever damage was done to that country). If you don’t think so, you haven’t been living through the last 17-plus years of this country’s forever wars. Unfortunately, no one should count on such caution from John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, or even Donald Trump.

So settle into your seats folks and prepare to watch the empire swallow the republic whole.

Published:5/31/2019 10:14:56 PM
[Politics] Former Obama admin members are ENCOURAGING IRAN to resist TRUMP’S tactics!! I know, I know, NO ONE is surprised by this, but yes Team Obama is keeping up with their former contacts in Iran and encouraging them to resist Trump’s tactics. From the . . . Published:5/31/2019 9:04:55 PM
[Politics] Former Obama admin members are ENCOURAGING IRAN to resist TRUMP’S tactics!! I know, I know, NO ONE is surprised by this, but yes Team Obama is keeping up with their former contacts in Iran and encouraging them to resist Trump’s tactics. From the . . . Published:5/31/2019 9:04:55 PM
[News] Obama’s Pro-Iran Echo Chamber Still Secretly Talks With Terrorist Regime

The following article, Obama’s Pro-Iran Echo Chamber Still Secretly Talks With Terrorist Regime, was first published on Godfather Politics.

Obama’s pro-Iran echo chamber still secretly talks with the terrorist regime and insists it’s ‘normal.’ No, this is not normal. They need to be investigated and prosecuted. We’re allowing them to interpret the constitution how they see fit, operating in any capacity they deem “normal.” Time to put up or shut up, start building cases ...

Continue reading: Obama’s Pro-Iran Echo Chamber Still Secretly Talks With Terrorist Regime ...

Published:5/31/2019 9:04:55 PM
[The Blog] Obama to Brazilian crowd: In the U.S. you can buy any weapon at any time

"They can buy it over the Internet, they can buy machine guns."

The post Obama to Brazilian crowd: In the U.S. you can buy any weapon at any time appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:5/31/2019 7:05:19 PM
[Markets] Obama Lies About US Gun Laws - Then Gets Awkward Applause

After collecting a sweet $600,000 for a single speech in Colombia, former President Barack Obama took to the stage at the São Paulo Expo in Brazil, where he lied to the audience about US gun laws. 

"Some of you may be aware our gun laws in the United States don’t make much sense. Anybody can buy any weapon any time," said Obama - to which the audience erupted in applause, seemingly over Americans' access to guns. 

This is of course false, as not "anybody" can buy a gun "any time." Federal law restricts the purchase of a handgun through a licensed dealer to those who are 18 or older (18 in most states for long guns), while convicted felons can't legally own firearms at all. 

After the audience died down, Obama continued: "...without much if any regulation, they can buy it over the Internet, they can buy machine guns."

And while guns can be purchased over the internet, Obama lied again when he claimed that there's 'little regulation' to buy online - when in fact a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder must be involved in interstate sales, and that people can buy "machine guns."

Watch: 

Published:5/31/2019 6:04:35 PM
[Politics] Obama tells blazingly stupid LIES about guns in America to audience in Brazil Former president and current idiot Barack Obama got caught telling some blazingly stupid lies about the supposed ease of obtaining guns in the U.S. Watch below: LOL what? That is completely absurd . . . Published:5/31/2019 5:07:03 PM
[Politics] Obama tells blazingly stupid LIES about guns in America to audience in Brazil Former president and current idiot Barack Obama got caught telling some blazingly stupid lies about the supposed ease of obtaining guns in the U.S. Watch below: LOL what? That is completely absurd . . . Published:5/31/2019 5:07:03 PM
[Society] Obama Condemns US Gun Laws to Audience in Brazil

Former President Barack Obama told a crowd in Brazil Thursday that U.S. gun laws “don’t make sense” because people can buy “any weapon, any time.”... Read More

The post Obama Condemns US Gun Laws to Audience in Brazil appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:5/31/2019 3:37:33 PM
[2019 News] Barack Obama: It’s Too Easy to Buy Machine Guns Online in the US Barack Obama: It’s Too Easy to Buy Machine Guns Online in the US. You can take the stupid out of office but you can’t take the stupid out of stupid. Our gun laws in the United States don’t make much sense. Anybody can buy any weapon at any time without much regulation. They can buy […] Published:5/31/2019 1:25:29 PM
[Politics] Obama: America’s Gun Laws ‘Don’t Make Much Sense’ and Anybody ‘Can Buy Machine Guns’

President Barack Obama said the United States' gun laws "don't make much sense" and claimed anybody "can buy machine guns" while speaking at VTEX Day 2019 in Brazil.

The post Obama: America’s Gun Laws ‘Don’t Make Much Sense’ and Anybody ‘Can Buy Machine Guns’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:5/31/2019 11:11:56 AM
[US News] ‘Straight-up lying’! Obama’s rant in Brazil about the U.S. and guns is 100 percent pure BS [video]

"Literally everything Obama says here is false."

The post ‘Straight-up lying’! Obama’s rant in Brazil about the U.S. and guns is 100 percent pure BS [video] appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/31/2019 11:11:56 AM
[Markets] Zuckerberg Security Chief Accused Of Sexual Harassment, Making 'Racist Remarks' About Zuck's Wife

Though rarely a day goes by without some new negative story about Facebook's misdeeds - whether it's pertaining to data privacy, it's inability to root out fake (and possibly foreign influenced) accounts, or some other scandal - it appears Buzzfeed and Business Insider dropped a pair of embarrassing reports apparently timed to coincide with Thursday's meeting.

First, Business Insider reported (and NBC News later confirmed) that Zuckerberg's personal security chief - a former secret service agent who served under President Obama - had been accused of sexual harassment, as well as making racist and homophobic remarks, including using racist slurs to describe Zuckerberg's wife, Priscilla Chan, who is Asian-American.

Zuck

The allegations against former secret service agent Liam Booth were brought by former members of Zuckerberg's household staff. 

Booth has been placed 'on leave' while the Zuckerberg family investigates the allegations.

Lawyers representing the employees - a former member of Zuckerberg's household staff and a former executive assistant to Booth - sent letters regarding the allegations to the law firm that represents the companies that provide security for the Zuckerberg family, according to Business Insider.

Booth has been placed on administrative leave while the Zuckerberg family conducts an investigation into the allegations, according to Ben LaBolt, a spokesperson for the Chan Zuckerberg family office. Booth could not immediately be reached for comment by NBC News.

"The family office takes complaints of workplace misconduct very seriously and our human resources team promptly investigates all such matters," LaBolt said

"The allegations against Liam Booth were brought to the office’s attention for the first time by The Bloom Firm after both former employees had left employment by the family office and engaged legal counsel," he continued. "As soon as The Bloom Firm presented these allegations, the family office engaged Munger, Tolles & Olson, an outside law firm, to conduct an investigation of all allegations made by The Bloom Firm to determine whether the claims have merit."

"The investigation is ongoing," said LaBolt. "Mr. Booth is on administrative leave pending the completion of this investigation.”

It's worth noting the timing of the story, which appeared just as Zuckerberg was facing a critical leadership vote at Facebook's Thursday shareholder meeting.

Thanks to his ironclad control over the company that he founded, which was embedded in the company's ownership structure during its 2012 IPO, removing Mark Zuckerberg as CEO or chairman of Facebook presents several insurmountable obstacles. But as public frustration with the social media giant continues to fester, inspiring calls by politicians and activists to break up the company, Zuckerberg easily survived a leadership vote on Thursday.

 

As we mentioned above, the story about Zuck's top security guard wasn't the only unflattering story about the company or Zuckerberg himself to emerge on Thursday. Buzzfeed published an extensive investigation in partnership with the Toronto Star which purported that Facebook's promised banning of white supremacist groups was haphazard and incomplete, and that, one month after it announced the ban (which was inspired by the Christchurch attacks), the company had not lived up to its commitments.

One computer science professor quoted by Buzzfeed as an "expert source" said Facebook likes to make sweeping PR pronouncements to signal its virtue - but often, it refuses to follow through.

"Facebook likes to make a PR move and say that they’re doing something but they don’t always follow up on that," Megan Squire, an Elon University computer science professor who researches online extremism, told a joint BuzzFeed News–Toronto Star investigation.

When approached by Buzzfeed for comment, Facebook insisted that it did follow through on its promise to ban hate groups. However, some of these groups may have returned to the platform, and booting them off again can feel like a game of whack-a-mole.

Kevin Chan, one of Facebook’s global policy directors, said while they proactively removed some hate groups, the company also relies on users, journalists, and other sources to report when banned personalities make it back on the platform.

Chan said that sometimes it may feel like whack-a-mole, but he considers it more of an arms race - with Facebook trying to get better at keeping listed hate groups off its platform, and those banned users figuring out new ways to find their way back online.

"Every time we are learning. Now, we presume they’re also learning...I think it’s really more of an arms race," Chan said.

"But the trend line is that it is going to get really hard for people to do this, so hard to the point where...there’s going to be so much friction in the system that they’re probably going to go somewhere else," he said.

And just last week, Facebook revealed that there are 2 billion fake accounts on its platform, nearly equivalent to the number of active users (roughly 2.4 billion).

At least shareholders can find solace in the fact that the company's shares have largely shaken off last year's slump - though, if the movement to break up the company or impose strict regulations continues to gain traction, shareholders might soon have a whole new set of near-term risks to worry about.

Published:5/31/2019 5:31:48 AM
[Markets] New UK Standard? Prosecute Politicians For Telling Lies!

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk,

Boris Johnson has been summoned over lies he allegedly made during the Brexit Referendum campaign.

Mercy me, a politician lied during a political campaign. We cannot have that can we?

Let's crowdfund a private prosecution!

As absurd as that sounds, that's what's happening in the UK as Boris Johnson to Appear in Court over Brexit Misconduct Claims.

Boris Johnson has been summoned to court to face accusations of misconduct in public office over comments made in the run-up to the EU referendum.

The ruling follows a crowdfunded move to launch a private prosecution of the MP, who is the frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest.

Johnson lied and engaged in criminal conduct when he repeatedly claimed during the 2016 EU referendum campaign that the UK sent £350m a week to Brussels, lawyers for a 29-year-old campaigner, who launched the prosecution bid, told Westminster magistrates court last week.

A legal team assembled by Marcus Ball, who has accused the former foreign secretary of misconduct in public office and raised more than £200,000 to finance the prosecution, laid out their case in front of the district judge, Margot Coleman.

The case concerned the “now infamous claim” by Johnson about the £350m, according to Lewis Power QC, who said the case was not about preventing or delaying Brexit.

One-Sided Investigation

Making False Statements

In her written decision summoning Johnson to court, District Judge Margot Coleman also said:

“The applicant’s case is there is ample evidence that the proposed defendant knew that the statements were false."

“I am satisfied there is sufficient to establish prima facie evidence of an issue to be determined at trial of this aspect. I consider the arguments put forward on behalf of the proposed defendant to be trial issues.”

Idiot's Proposal?

Madness?

Private Prosecution by a Crowdfunded Company

Bear in mind this is a private prosecution by a nonprofit crowdfunded company, 'Brexit Justice Limited'.

In an extraordinary development, the favourite to win the Tory leadership race faces a private prosecution by campaigner Marcus Ball.

Lawyers representing Mr Ball lodged an application to summon Mr Johnson to court, claiming he had deliberately misled the public during the Brexit referendum campaign in 2016 and then repeated the statement during the 2017 general election.

Mr Johnson strongly denies any wrongdoing, claiming the application was a "[political] stunt" designed to "undermine the referendum result".

"The reality of this enterprise is different. The 'Prosecutor' (a limited company) is 'Brexit Justice Limited'. Brexit Justice Limited is the product of a campaign to undermine the result of the Brexit referendum, and/or to prevent its consequences.

"The company and this application owe their existence to the desire on the part of individuals such as Mr Ball to undermine the referendum result. The 'Brexit justice' which is ultimately sought is no Brexit."

Mr Ball has raised more than £200,000 through a 'Brexit Justice' crowdfunding campaign to pay for the private prosecution.

Remainer Despotism

Finally, please consider the Legal Harassment of Boris Johnson Reeks of Remainer Despotismby Andrew Lilico.

Will David Cameron then be arrested for having said he would trigger Article 50 immediately following the election? Will George Osborne be taken to court for claiming a vote to leave would mean an emergency budget raising taxes and accompanied by interest rate hikes?

It shouldn’t matter to this discussion, but it’s also quite wrong to claim that the “£350 million sent to Brussels” claim was a lie.

The most straightforward of these is that that was indeed approximately the UK’s gross contribution to the EU budget. It just was. Saying “Ah, but we get a rebate” misses a fundamental point: the rebate is paid to the UK by the member states, not by the EU. The EU does not give us a discount on our membership fee; rather the member states pay us something in return.

If I send Fred £350 million per week, and then Jane and Eliza send me £100 million per week, that does not change the fact that I send Fred £350 million per week. It does mean that saying “I send Fred £350 million per week” is not the whole story, but it is not a lie.

Second, the £350 million claim is not a lie because in fact even when one takes the wider context into account, it’s roughly the correct amount. Critics of the figure say it neglects the rebate. But that criticism neglects the supposed accumulated “liabilities” that we’ve become aware of as the “divorce bill”. A little over half the £40 billion or so “divorce bill” takes that form. If we spread £23 billion in such “liabilities” over five years and add the weekly sum of that to the £250 million or so weekly sum, net of the rebate, then we come to about £340 million per week “sent to Brussels” as an overall net figure.

So it’s just wrong to call the £350 million figure a lie. It is not a “lie” in any sense. It is not a lie in that it was the literal amount, and it’s not a lie in that it was the overall amount once one took everything into consideration.

Absurd Process

Imagine taking Trump or Obama to the courts for lying. How about Hillary? Any Senator from any party?

Theoretically, there could be some merit to the idea if applied uniformly. Nearly all politicians are liars.

But what about CNN, the Washington Post, etc., etc., and all their fake news?

The downside is obvious. The courts would not have time to do anything but prosecute liars.

Published:5/31/2019 1:31:04 AM
[Markets] Ex-CIA Officer: Trump In "Historic Battle" With "Treasonous" Deep State

Via Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com,

Former CIA Officer and whistleblower Kevin Shipp says what is going on in Washington D.C. with the “treason” against Trump is unlike anything we have ever faced as a nation.

Shipp explains, “This is an historic battle between the President of the United States and what I call the ‘Shadow Government.’

"Some call this the ‘Deep State,’ and that includes the CIA, the FBI and the NSA. President Trump is the first President to stand up against this Shadow Government. They have been spying on Trump since he was a presidential candidate. So, this is huge, it’s historic and nothing like this has ever occurred in any western government...

The Shadow Government has been controlling Congress, controlling the judiciary and controlling the President of the United States. No one has stood up against them until Donald J. Trump.  They did not figure on this, and he is not bound to this Shadow Government or their threats. Trump has got them quaking in their boots because they have been engaged in illegal surveillance. They have been engaged in a false counter-intelligence against the Trump campaign, literally planting spies in the Trump campaign.

I can guarantee you they are scrambling like rats trying to get off a ship. Comey points fingers at Clapper, he’s pointing fingers at Comey, there’s Loretta Lynch and on and on. They are scared because if this stuff is declassified, the American people will see what they have done. For some of these people, this amounts to treason. They attempted a coup against a duly elected President of the United States.

Make no mistake, what happened to President Trump with the “hoax” of Russia collusion was a frame job to try to knock him out of office. Trump has called this “treason,” and when he says this, the mainstream media is silent and won’t report it. Shipp says,

“They know it, and they are trying their level best to support these Shadow Government/Deep State players because the media was complicit in this false Russia collusion. There is no way they are going to report on information that will expose their role in it...

They shot and they missed, and it was a bad miss because they tipped their hand.”

Shipp says new Attorney General William Barr is the right man for the job of prosecuting treason. Shipp says, “Barr was a former CIA attorney . . . I was skeptical at first, but now I am right behind Barr."

"I think the fact that Barr was a CIA attorney gives him an inside view... So, Barr has an edge . . . over the CIA and the FBI. He knows how that system works. He knows how they are going to stonewall him. He knows how they are going to use classification to try to conceal what they have done. They got the worst President and the worst Attorney General for them to expose what they are doing both at the same time. Barr has subpoena power, and they are quaking in their boots because this has never happened before. They have never been challenged like this before.”

This is simply a case of spying to get blackmail information against political opponents. It goes back to 2012 and was under the direction of President Obama, according to Shipp. Shipp explains, “This was NSA domestic surveillance, and it’s been going on since before 9/11. It increased after 9/11."

"What they did, Comey and others like Brennan, they went in and requested information existing already on NSA super computers and used that information to spy on the Trump Campaign...They did spy on Donald Trump, and it was extensive. It was criminal and was existing systems the NSA already had in place...

This leads all the way to Barack Obama and, of course, Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton being the blackmailer extraordinaire and Barack Obama...

They were using this power to intimidate others and probably to blackmail others... that’s exactly what they were doing... They were all engaging in flagrant criminal activity. They all thought the global princess was going to get elected, and all of a sudden—boom. The unthinkable happened for them. Donald Trump was elected, and they freaked out.”

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with former CIA Officer and whistleblower Kevin Shipp.

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Published:5/30/2019 10:30:05 PM
[Politics] Jarrett: If Obama Behaved Like Trump, He'd Have Been Impeached in 'Nanosecond' If he behaved like President Donald Trump, former President Barack Obama would have been impeached in "a nanosecond," according to former White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett on Thursday. Published:5/30/2019 7:00:50 PM
[Corruption] Obama’s Corrupt FBI: Agent Took Gifts from Media in Exchange for Leaked Info

The following article, Obama’s Corrupt FBI: Agent Took Gifts from Media in Exchange for Leaked Info, was first published on Godfather Politics.

Another corrupt member of the FBI has been uncovered by an investigation by the inspector general's office for accepting bribes to leaking information.

Continue reading: Obama’s Corrupt FBI: Agent Took Gifts from Media in Exchange for Leaked Info ...

Published:5/30/2019 2:27:49 PM
[Markets] When Will The FBI Place Informants In Bernie Sanders' 2020 Campaign?

If the 2016 US election taught us anything, it's that the FBI feels it's necessary to send people to spy on the campaigns of candidates who might have ties to Russia. We've also learned that the agency's bar for launching a massive counterintelligence investigation is incredibly low - spending what President Trump says was $40 million to probe flimsy rumors that Russia has 'dirt' on another candidate.

Which brings us to Bernie Sanders - who honeymooned in the USSR and campaigned for the Marxist party during the Reagan era. And while that may have put him in great company with former Obama intel chiefs James Comey and John Brennan, there's just no way to know if Sanders is a 77-year-old manchurian Red Dawn candidate, ready to strike at the heart of Democracy. 

Adding to the possibility of Putin Puppetry was special counsel Robert Mueller's conclusion that 13 Russian 'trolls' he indicted were instructed "to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump." In other words - when Bernie was a contender, Russia wanted him to win. 

Meanwhile, Bernie and his wife Jane were placed under FBI investigation for bank fraud in 2017 related to a $10 million loan Jane took out for her very ill-fated Burlington College fiasco, though we're unsure if their home, office and hotel room were raided like Trump attorney Michael Cohen's. Politico reported that prosecutors were also investigating allegations that Sen. Sanders' office inappropriately urged the bank to approve the loan.

And while a top Sanders adviser told CNN in November that the Vermont US Attorney's Office notified Jane that charges would not be filed, how do we know for sure that Russians weren't involved? 

Which begs the question - when is the FBI going to investigate, raid, and send informants into the Sanders campaignHe might after all be a Kremlin agent, right?

(h/t Andrew Wilkow)

Published:5/30/2019 12:26:36 PM
[U.S. POLITICS] Obama’s Attempt to ‘Fundamentally Change America’ Returns in 2020.

It up to the American voters, as it was in 2016, to decide their destiny. Let’s hope Americans make the right choice.

The post Obama’s Attempt to ‘Fundamentally Change America’ Returns in 2020. appeared first on Human Events.

Published:5/30/2019 10:56:05 AM
[Media] Snickers bar ALERT! Only Kurt Schlichter could so enrage AOC with just 1 tweet and bow howdy what a sight to behold

Maybe AOC missed it, but Obama already tried the whole ‘hope thing’ over a decade ago. And wow, talk about a self-important twit with her ‘daily reminder’ … Your daily reminder? pic.twitter.com/8g5jepaiDE — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 29, 2019 Your daily reminder that a glass of water with a D next to it would have […]

The post Snickers bar ALERT! Only Kurt Schlichter could so enrage AOC with just 1 tweet and bow howdy what a sight to behold appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/30/2019 8:27:09 AM
[Markets] One Man's Quest To Expose A Fake BBC Video About Syria

Authored by Rick Sterling via Oriental Review,

It’s a David vs Goliath story. A former local newspaper reporter, Robert Stuart, is taking on the British Broadcasting Corporation. Stuart believes that a sensational video story about an alleged atrocity in Syria “was largely, if not entirely, staged.”  The BBC would like it all to just go away. But like David, Stuart will not back down or let it go.  It has been proposed that the BBC could settle the issue by releasing the raw footage from the event, but they refuse to do this. Why?

The Controversial Video

The video report in controversy is ‘Saving Syria’s Children‘. Scenes from it were first broadcast as a BBC news report on August 29, 2013 and again as a BBC Panorama special in September. ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ was produced by BBC reporter Ian Pannell with Darren Conway as camera operator and director.

The news report footage was taken in a town north of Aleppo city in a region controlled by the armed opposition. It purports to show the aftermath of a Syrian aerial attack using incendiary weapons, perhaps napalm, killing and burning dozens of youth.  The video shows the youth arriving and being treated at a nearby hospital where the BBC film team was coincidentally filming two British medical volunteers from a British medical relief organization.

Saving Syria’s Children documentary

The video had a strong impact. The incident was on August 26. The video was shown on the BBCthree days later as the British Parliament was debating whether to support military action by the US against Syria.  As it turned out, British parliament voted against supporting military action. But the video was effective in demonizing the Syrian government. After all, what kind of government attacks school children with napalm-like bombs?

The Context

‘Saving Syria’s Children’ was produced at a critical moment in the Syrian conflict. Just days before, on August 21,  there had been an alleged sarin gas attack against an opposition held area on the outskirts of Damascus. Western media was inundated with videos showing dead Syrian children amidst accusations the Syrian government had attacked civilians, killing up to 1400.  The Syrian government was assumed to be responsible and the attack said to be a clear violation of President Obama’s “red line” against chemical weapons.

This incident had the effect of increasing pressure for Western states or NATO to attack Syria. It would be for humanitarian reasons, rationalized by the “responsibility to protect”.

The assumption that ‘the regime’ did it has been challenged. Highly regarded American  journalists including the late Robert Parry and Seymour Hersh investigated and contradicted the mainstream media. They pointed to the crimes being committed by the armed opposition for political goals.  A report by two experts including a UN weapons inspector and Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity also came to the conclusion that the Syrian government was not responsible and the attack  was actually by an armed opposition group with the goal of forcing NATO intervention.

Why the Controversial Video is Suspicious

After seeing skeptical comments about ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ on an online discussion board, Robert Stuart looked at the video for himself. Like others, he thought the hospital sequences looked artificial, almost like scenes from a badly acted horror movie.

But unlike others, he decided to find out. Thus began his quest to ascertain the truth. Was the video real or was it staged?  Was it authentic or contrived propaganda?

Over almost six years his research has revealed many curious elements about the video including:

* Youth in the hospital video appear to act on cue.

* There is a six hour discrepancy in reports about when the incident occurred.

* One of the supposed victims, shown writhing in pain on a stretcher, is seen earlier walking unaided into the ambulance.

* The incident happened in an area controlled by a terror group associated with ISIS.

* One of the British medics is a former UK soldier involved in simulated injury training.

* The other British medic is daughter of a prominent figure in the Syrian opposition.

* In 2016 a local rebel commander testified that the alleged attack never happened.

Support for Robert Stuart

Robert Stuart’s formal complaints to the BBC have been rebuffed. His challenges to those involved in the production have been ignored or stifled.  Yet his quest has won support from some major journalistic and political figures.

Former Guardian columnist Jonathan Cook has written several articles on the story. He says,  “Stuart’s sustained research and questioning of the BBC, and the state broadcaster’s increasing evasions, have given rise to ever greater concerns about the footage. It looks suspiciously like one scene in particular, of people with horrific burns, was staged.”

Former UK Ambassador Craig Murray has compared scenes in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ with his own harrowing experience with burn victims. He says, “The alleged footage of burn victims in hospital following a napalm attack bears no resemblance whatsoever to how victims, doctors and relatives actually behave in these circumstances.”

Fabrication in BBC Panorama ‘Saving Syria’s Children’

Film-maker Victor Lewis-Smith has done numerous projects for the BBC. When learning about Stuart’s research he asked for some explanations and suggested they could resolve the issue by releasing the raw video footage of the events. When they refused to do this, he publicly tore up his BBC contract.

Why it Matters

The BBC has a reputation for objectivity. If BBC management was deceived by the video, along with the public, they should have a strong interest in uncovering and correcting this.  If there was an error, they should want to clarify, correct and ensure it is not repeated.

The BBC could go a long way toward resolving this issue by releasing raw footage of the scenes in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’.  Why have they refused to do this? In addition, they have actively removedyoutube copies of ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. If they are proud of that production, why are they removing public copies of it?

Saving Syria's Children documentary from adhawwd dwdwadw on Vimeo.

Has the BBC produced and broadcast contrived or fake video reports in support of British government foreign policy of aggression against Syria? It is important that this question be answered to either restore public trust (if the videos are authentic) or to expose and correct misdeeds (if the videos are largely or entirely staged).

The issue at stake is not only the BBC; it is the manipulation of media to deceive the public into supporting elite-driven foreign policy. ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ is an important case study.

The Future

Robert Stuart is not quitting.  He hopes the next step will be a documentary film dramatically showing what he has discovered and further investigating important yet unexplored angles.

The highly experienced film producer Victor Lewis-Smith, who tore up his BBC contract, has stepped forward to help make this happen.

But to produce a high quality documentary including some travel takes funding. After devoting almost six years to this effort, Robert Stuart’s resources are exhausted. The project needs support from concerned members of the public.

If you support Robert Stuart’s efforts, go to this crowdfunding website.  There you can learn more and contribute to this important effort to reveal whether the BBC video ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ showed true or staged events. Was the alleged “napalm” attack real or was it staged propaganda?  The project needs a large number of small donors and a few substantial ones to meet the June 7 deadline.

As actor and producer Keith Allen says,” Please help us to reach the target so that we can discover the facts, examine the evidence, and present the truth about ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. I think it’s really important.”

Published:5/30/2019 2:54:35 AM
[Volokh Conspiracy] [Jonathan H. Adler] Court Tosses 2015 WOTUS Rule Last night, in Texas v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a federal district court in Texas held that the Obama Administration violated the... Published:5/29/2019 8:25:39 PM
[Markets] Martenson: "They've Stolen Our Future!"

Authored by Chris Martenson via PeakProsperity.com,

It’s time to have a serious conversation.  I know we’ve been having it, but maybe there’s another glove hidden beneath the one we’ve already taken off.

Put bluntly, there doesn’t seem to be any hope of avoiding a collapse of civilization.  The forces of the Business-As-Usual crowd are just too strong, the narrative machine too honed, the interests too entrenched to allow any sort of meaningful course correction at this time.

But is that the case?

Writing about the outcomes of the recent Australian elections which saw a pro-business, conservative government elected, Australian based reader-member ezlxq1949 said:

“They’ve stolen our future!”

That was the wail of the 11-y.o. daughter of a Greens candidate who cried herself to sleep the night after the astonishing election results came in. It couldn’t be worse; the public have sold themselves into almost complete captivity to the neoliberal élites called the Liberal Party. (Liberal = Conservative. Go figure.) It was supposed to have been a climate change election but became a jobs ‘n growth election.

Mind you, it wouldn’t have been much better if the opposition Labor Party had won; they’ve moved so far to the right that like the US we really have only one party with two heads. For instance, Labor would not commit to stopping the monster Adani coal mine.

So it’s goodbye to:

  • the ABC (the excellent government broadcaster which has the gall and temerity to criticise the government of the day; the government badly wants to get even)

  • renewable energy (fossil fools rule ok)

  • the Great Barrier Reef (sliced and diced to let coal ships cross it)

  • our river systems (suck them dry, privatise the water, send the profits to the Cayman Islands — as is already happening)

  • the Great Artesian Basin (world’s largest and deepest, to be contaminated by coal mines and fracking)

  • public services (cut back yet again to create a damaging government budget surplus)

  • public health (to be Americanised)

  • public education (to be privatised; maybe high schools this time)

  • the Great Australian Bight (a pristine area which may have oil under it; damn the pollution, full greed ahead)

  • southern ocean fish stocks (they’ll let the supertrawlers in now).

The environment is completely expendable. All resources are permanently abundant and all will be fed into the growth machine. Climate change is NOT HAPPENING. It’s fake, right? Bah. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we fry.

There’s one ray of hope. Steve Keen predicts a severe recession, Depression really, within 6 months to a year from now. Our economy is indeed wobbling already. This will happen on the Liberals’ watch and they will be blamed for mismanaging the economy. This isn’t supposed to happen. Only Labor does that. Only Labor mismanages the economy. That’s what the Murdoch press drums into our heads. The Libs will panic. The Murdoch press won’t know what to say. Maybe this will shake up people’s belief and confidence in mainstream economics.

I’m not sleeping well at the moment. I wonder why.

(Source)

I feel your pain and anguish ezlxq1949!  You’d think by now people could have and would have gotten the message that Business-As-Usual (BAU) is a killing machine.

But, no, sadly they have not speaking to the power of the BAU narrative machine to spew out complete rubbish unchallenged in either deed or thought.

I wish I shared the hope that elections might do something, but I have no data to support this idea.  Whatever parties you have in your country, no matter how they differ at the margins, they are both, or all (depending on your country’s system), in agreement on the need for jobs, economic growth, and keeping things more or less headed exactly where they are now going.

For example, we might note that under Obama what few binding agreements came from Kyoto were set aside for another generation.

This piece captures that well, and speaks to the necessity of having some sort of a rebellion:

Social collapse and climate breakdown

A huge number of people – 350,000 and counting  – have downloaded Jem Bendell’s paper Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy.

Here I want to develop one thing that Bendell talks about: social collapse.

But first, for those who have not read his research paper, there are three key truths Bendell tells.

Three truths 

Firstly, climate change has been moving much faster than scientists predicted. Things are going to get very bad within the lifetime of some of us now living. We don’t know and can’t know how bad, or how quickly this will happen.

Everyone that Bendell speaks with bases their predictions on their political beliefs. That’s true of everyone I talk to too.

Bendell chooses to think that social collapse is inevitable, catastrophe probable and extinction possible. That’s my guess too.

A second truth: scientists have, for many reasons, been under constant pressure to downplay the dangers and extent of climate change, and not to scare the mob.

Non-governmental organisations have constantly colluded with governments and corporations to conceal the scale of the catastrophe, and to push solutions that will not solve it. Scientists and NGOs do this because their funders demand that.

A third truth: Bendell says it is hard, at first, to accept what is coming. I have found that too.

Climate politics

I first got involved in climate politics because I’m a freelance writer and in 2004 I decided to write a book about climate change. I thought it would be interesting and there would be a market, God forgive me.

I got involved with a climate action group – the Campaign against Climate Change – and started reading. Several months later I began having the same nightmare most nights for months. In that nightmare I was trying to tell some people something, and they were not listening.

What was happening is that I was understanding the implications of what I was reading. One reason is that I take science seriously, and I understand numbers. The other is that I already understood social collapse.

That was bad enough. For the next four years I knew what would happen if we did not act. Then at the end of the UN climate talks in 2009, on a Friday lunchtime in Copenhagen, I read the text of the agreement Barack Obama had just made the other governments agree to.

That text ended the Kyoto agreement and said that henceforward no government would have to make compulsory cuts in emissions. Every government could choose what cuts or increases they wanted. The Paris talks in 2015 extended that to 2035.

I understood what Obama had done immediately. That text ended the possibility of action for a generation. Since then, I have understood social collapse is coming.

(Source)

The Extinction Rebellion is capturing that energy of those who realize that we may well yet have to go down swinging.

The powers that be would like us to continue with the fantasy that politics could, may, might, possibly offer a sliver of a chance…if only we could elect the right sorts of people!  (Spoiler alert, those sorts of people are never placed on offer to be elected…they are comprehensively weeded out well before then, as we see with Tulsi Gabbard currently in the US for merely daring to offer an alternative to the Bomb First crowd).

In the end, it may simply be that humans cannot rise above their brain stems.  Collapse is already baked in the cake.  So then the question becomes who you wish to be in these times?  How will you act?  What sorts of decisions are you going to make?

That’s what I asked in my most recent pieces entitled From Survival to Significance and Creating a World Worth Inheriting.

The continued ““market”” jamming efforts (as well underway today, again) are just attempts to ignore the inevitable.  The continued efforts of the mainstream media to heavily promote completely irrelevant items while totally ignoring extremely important topics are best understood through the lens of evolutionary biology.

Humans, you see, are with few bright exceptions, wired wrong to manage connecting complex dots.  When given the choice between basic biology (eating, reproducing, and staying safe & warm) and engaging in a bit of temporarily difficult introspection or thought, nearly everybody defaults to basic biology.

Our leaders know that dynamic well, as do advertisers and media moguls and so they give the people what they want.  It’s dreadfully simple, easy and popular.

It takes a rare individual to buck that trend.  The young tend to be far more facile at it than the old.  That’s why rebellions usually begin with the youth.

But meanwhile, the unthinkable is forcing its way into our collective consciousness.  The ecosystems of the world that have gently held civilizations over the past 10,000 years are collapsing.

Rains no longer fall where they should, or too much where they shouldn’t.  The careful food webs developed over hundreds of millions of years are being suddenly upended.  What will it mean that phytoplankton numbers are dropping like a rock, or that insects are 80% depleted?  Nobody knows.  What happens next is completely unpredictable.  Such is the nature of complex systems.

Let me quote again from the above piece of writing, which goes on to speculate how the power structures will go about dealing with the inevitable crises.  After writing about the many tens of millions killed during various state imposed famines, wars, and pogroms he writes:

All these numbers are approximate, you understand. No one was counting properly.

Almost none of those horrors were committed by small groups of savages wandering through the ruins. They were committed by States, and by mass political movements.

Society did not disintegrate. It did not come apart. Society intensified. Power concentrated, and split, and those powers had us kill each other. It seems reasonable to assume that climate social collapse will be like that. Only with five times as many dead, if we are lucky, and twenty-five times as many, if we are not.

Remember this, because when the moment of runaway climate change comes for you, where you live, it will not come in the form of a few wandering hairy bikers. It will come with the tanks on the streets and the military or the fascists taking power.

Those generals will talk in deep green language. They will speak of degrowth, and the boundaries of planetary ecology. They will tell us we have consumed too much, and been too greedy, and now for the sake of Mother Earth, we must tighten our belts.

Then we will tighten our belts, and we will suffer, and they will build a new kind of gross green inequality. And in a world of ecological freefall, it will take cruelty on an unprecedented scale to keep their inequality in place.

These formerly “unthinkable” thoughts are now popping up all over the place in print, word and deed.  The students on strike in Europe, the Yellow Vests, and the Extinction Rebellion are all examples.

I hinted at these things in The Crash Course, and purposely did not expound upon them because I was trying to gently wake those who were close to waking already.  I did not want to scare people back to sleep by drawing the conclusions to the many possible ends.  For those with the ability to add and subtract, and to connect dot A to dot B, the implications were clear enough.

A global civilization that is expending 10 or even 20 calories of fossil fuels to grow and deliver a single food calorie, yet has no plans on the books for how it will feed everyone once that source of energy runs down, has a predicament on its hands.  The author quoted above takes the next step and connects the dots through history to conclude that we’ll probably just ignore that predicament until we can’t and then be rather unpleasant about it all with each other when the time comes.

He’s got history on his side, and the 11-year old quoted at the top has managed to rightly conclude “they’ve stolen out future!”  Indeed, they have.

Sustaining the Unsustainable

I would hazard that about 99% of everything in the mainstream media is dedicated to sustaining the unsustainable, and 100% of everything in the financial “markets” is geared towards the same.

Politicians seem to have a near complete inability to grasp these issues while in office, and a stunning ability to “get it” once they’ve left.

Would it surprise you to learn that most of the financial titans who spend their every waking hour promoting and leveraging the system for their own private gain also have but out plans and escape holes readied?

This idea of sustaining the unsustainable is really so popular that it’s never examined.

I did recently when I observed that if the US Federal Reserve gets its way, and somehow magically manages to create 3% real GDP growth for the next century, what will it have done?  Will it have saved us all and delivered to us some awesome future?

Well, if we take the US economy as being $20 trillion now, it will be $385 trillion after 100 years of 3% growth.

That would make the US economy alone nearly 5 times larger than the entire world economy right now.  Need we point out again that even 1x current world GDP is killing the planet?  Is it not self-evident that it’s not possible for the US alone to be 5x larger than the entire current world economy without destroying everything that even makes having an economy possible (or worth it) in the first place?

Or what if we magically held world population steady from here, but then delivered the equivalent of an Australian standard of loving to everybody?  Well, then we’d increase consumption by the planet’s citizens by a factor of more than 20.  Oops.  Another unworkable idea.

These are very simple thoughts to entertain but let me list for you know every single question of this sort posed by every journalist covering the Federal Reserve’s hearings and press announcement:  0

None.  Nada.  Zilch.

How is this even possible?  How can the most powerful entity in the world, charged with steering the economy to ever larger levels never, not once, be asked a question along the lines of “tell us please, if you are as successful over the next 100 years as you have been over the past 100, what sort of world do your models indicate for us?”

How is this not a legitimate question to ask?  Every one of us has an interest in the answer, including every single journalist, but the question is never asked.

Why?

Probably because the answer would be too disturbing to the average sensibility (or brain stem)

And yet, the pressure grows.  The natural world that sustains us all, the immature space fantasies of Bezos and Musk aside, is the most important thing there is.  Destroy that, and all the rest matters not one tiny bit.

Someday, I predict, your choices will narrow down to “join the young” or “become one of them.”  Rebel, or suppress the rebellion.  This side, or that.  Agent of change, or victim of circumstances.

Same as has been true every time throughout human history when the rains did not come, and resource became tight.

Once things have gone too far in one direction, then collapse is in the cards.

Published:5/29/2019 8:25:39 PM
[Markets] Obama Bags $600,000 Payday For Single Speech In Colombia

Former President Barack Obama was paid nearly $600,000 to speak at a Tuesday marketing conference in Bogota, Colombia, according to Colombian news outlet El Tiempo. For those keeping track, that's $100,000 more than Bill Clinton made for a single speech in Moscow (during a 2010 trip where he hung out with Vladimir Putin at his house). 

According to the report, Obama earned "2 billion Colombian pesos," or $591,000 USD speaking at the EXMA conference, held Monday and Tuesday. Conference attendees could also snap a photo with the former president for just 11 million Colombian pesos, or around $3,200

And according to the Bogotá Post - Obama's talk, "A conversation with President Barack Obama," was focused on influential growth strategies. "It will be a talk about business that is based on the positive influence Obama puts out. We have to take advantage of this to build de country, entrepreneurship and innovation," said the organizers, who added that Obama will "set the condition that he won't talk about current politics." 

 

Published:5/29/2019 7:24:17 PM
[] Gallup Poll Shows Trump Advancing on "Leadership" Question, Beating Lord God King Obama on Issues The winning is having an effect. More Americans believe that President Trump has the personality and leadership qualities to be president than two years ago, and he topped former President Barack Obama?s rating for working on issues most important to... Published:5/29/2019 6:53:49 PM
[US News] WHOOPS! Adam Schiff tries to swat Trump & Barr with Mueller’s statement, accidentally smacks Obama (and himself) instead

He's spinning himself all the way into the ground here.

The post WHOOPS! Adam Schiff tries to swat Trump & Barr with Mueller’s statement, accidentally smacks Obama (and himself) instead appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/29/2019 4:51:49 PM
[Markets] Johnstone: Stop Hoping That The Swamp Will Drain The Swamp

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

If you only tuned into US politics within the last couple of years this will come as a major surprise, but believe it or not there was once a time when both major parties weren’t constantly claiming that imminent revelations are about to completely destroy the other party any minute now. Used to be they’d just focus on beating each other in elections and making each other look bad with smears and sex scandals; now in the age of Trump they’re both always insisting that some huge, earth-shattering revelation is right around the corner that will see the leaders of the other party dragged off in chains forever.

Enthusiastic Trump supporters have been talking a lot lately about the president’s decision to give Attorney General Bill Barr the authority to declassify information regarding the shady origins of the discredited Russiagate hoax, including potentially illicit means used to secure a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign staff. For days online chatter from Trump’s base has been amping up for a huge, cataclysmic bombshell in the same language Russiagaters used to use back before Robert Mueller pissed in their Wheaties.

“There is information coming that will curl your hair,” Congressman Mark Meadows told Sean Hannity on Fox News. “I can tell you that the reason why it is so visceral?—?the response from the Democrats is so visceral right now?—?is because they know, they’ve seen documents. Adam Schiff has seen documents that he knows will actually put the finger pointing back at him and his Democrat colleagues, not the president of the United States.”

“There is some information in these transcripts that I think has the potential to be a game changer, if it’s ever made public,” former Republican congressman Trey Gowdy told Fox News, referring to FBI transcripts of recorded interactions with surveilled individuals.

“Sources tell me there will be bombshells [of] information,” tweeted Fox News contributor Sara A Carter of the coming decassifications.

Democrats and Democrat-aligned media are responding with similarly apocalyptic language, playing right along with the same WWE script.

“While Trump stonewalls the public from learning the truth about his obstruction of justice, Trump and Barr conspire to weaponize law enforcement and classified information against their political enemies,” griped congressman, Russiagater and flamboyant drama queen Adam Schiff, adding, “The coverup has entered a new and dangerous phase. This is un-American.”

“President Trump’s order allowing Attorney General William P. Barr to declassify any intelligence that led to the Russia investigation sets up a potential confrontation with the C.I.A.,” the New York Times warns.

“National security veterans fear a declassification order could trigger resignations and threaten the CIA’s ability to conduct its core business?—?managing secret intelligence and sources,” frets Politico.

“William Barr’s New Authority to Declassify Anything He Wants Is a Threat to National Security,” blares a headline from Slate.

Both sides are wrong and ridiculous. Democrats are wrong and ridiculous for claiming a tiny bit of government transparency is dangerous, and Republicans are wrong and ridiculous to claim that game-changing bombshell revelations are going to be brought to the light by these declassifications. Just like with the Mueller report and the “bigger than Watergate” Nunes memo before it, there may be some interesting revelations, but the swamp of DC corruption will march on completely uninterrupted.

Readers keep asking me to weigh in on this whole declassification controversy, but really I have no response to the whole thing apart from boredom and a slight flinch whenever I think about Adam Schiff’s bug-eyed stare. There’s just not much going to come of it.

This is not to suggest that the intelligence communities of the US and its allies weren’t up to some extremely sleazy shenanigans in planting the seeds of the Russiagate insanity which monopolized US political attention for over two years, and it’s not to suggest that those shenanigans couldn’t be interpreted as crimes. Abuse of government surveillance and inflicting a malignant psyop on public consciousness are extremely egregious offenses and should indeed be punished. And, in a sane world, they would be.

But we do not live in such a world. We live in a world where partisan divides are for show only and the powerful protect each other from ever being held to account. Having the swamp of Trump’s Justice Department investigate the swamp of Obama’s intelligence community isn’t going to lead anywhere. Swamp creature Bill “Iran-Contra coverup” Barr isn’t going to be draining the swamp any more than swamp creature Robert “Saddam has WMDs” Mueller. The swamp cannot be used to drain itself.

It is possible that some important information will make its way to public view, like Russiagate’s roots in UK intelligence, for example. But no powerful people in the US or its allied governments will suffer any meaningful consequences for any offenses exposed, and no significant changes in government policy or behavior will take place. I fully support declassifying everything Trump wants declassified (as well as the rest of the 99 percent of classified government information which is only hidden from public view out of convenience for the powerful), but the most significant thing that can possibly come of it is a slightly better-informed populace and some political damage to the Democrats in 2020.

The only people who believe these inquiries will help fix America’s problems are those who believe there are aspects of the DC power structure which are not immersed in swamp. Trump supporters believe the Trump administration is virtuous, so they believe the Justice Department is preparing to hold powerful manipulators to legal accountability rather than cover for them and treat them with kid gloves. Democrats believed that a former FBI Director and George W Bush crony was going to bring the Executive Branch of the US government to its knees, because they thought that swamp monster was in some way separable from the swamp. It doesn’t work that way, cupcake.

If people want to rid their government of the swamp of corruption, they’re going to have to do it themselves. No political insider is going to rise to the occasion and do it for you. They can’t. You can’t drain the swamp when you’re made of swamp, any more than you can wash yourself clean with a turd-soaked loofah.

The only upheaval that is worth buying stock in is the kind which moves from the bottom up. If you really want change, it’s not going to come from the US president or any longtime government insider. It’s going to come from real people looking to each other and agreeing to say that enough is enough, and use the power of their numbers to flush the corrupt power structure down the toilet where it belongs. It will mean ceasing to imbue the fake partisan divide with the power of belief, and it will mean unplugging from official authorized narratives about what’s going on in the world and circulating our own narratives instead.

All political analysis which favors either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party is inherently worthless, because both parties are made of swamp and exist in service of the swamp. If you can’t see that the entire system is one unified block of corruption and that ordinary people need to come together and unite against it, then you really don’t understand what you’re looking at.

*  *  *

Everyone has my unconditional permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. 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. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here.

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Published:5/29/2019 4:29:09 PM
[US News] ‘Who will fall for it again?’ Kamala Harris pimps Medicare for All by ‘making a slight adjustment to Obama’s bull’

"I feel like we’ve heard this before ..."

The post ‘Who will fall for it again?’ Kamala Harris pimps Medicare for All by ‘making a slight adjustment to Obama’s bull’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:5/29/2019 11:50:12 AM
[Politics] USA Today: Trump Used Air Force One for Political Trips After Slamming Obama for It Despite critizing former President Barack Obama for it, President Donald Trump has used Air Force One for political trips, according to USA Today. Published:5/29/2019 10:51:40 AM
[FOREIGN AFFAIRS] Obama, Samantha Power Used Unmasking to Betray U.S. Allies. Why?

It’s a dangerous outlook that leaves our friends vulnerable to chaos and anarchy. It should be no surprise when they yearn for a Trump to step in and help them clean up the resulting mess. 

The post Obama, Samantha Power Used Unmasking to Betray U.S. Allies. Why? appeared first on Human Events.

Published:5/29/2019 10:51:39 AM
[] The Morning Report - 5/29/19 Good morning kids. Midweek so here we go. In the Obama/Clinton Coup and Coverup - at this point, it's beyond any doubt that that is what it can now be officially called - Christopher Steele, the author of the... Published:5/29/2019 6:19:55 AM
[Politics] WATCH: Mitch McConnell just triggered Democrats everywhere with his answer on a Supreme Court vacancy next year Mitch McConnell was asked tonight what he would do if a Supreme Court justice dies next year? McConnell replied “We’d fill it”: Watch: In sharp contrast to how he handled President Obama’s . . . Published:5/28/2019 9:19:51 PM
[Politics] WATCH: Mitch McConnell just triggered Democrats everywhere with his answer on a Supreme Court vacancy next year Mitch McConnell was asked tonight what he would do if a Supreme Court justice dies next year? McConnell replied “We’d fill it”: Watch: In sharp contrast to how he handled President Obama’s . . . Published:5/28/2019 8:47:29 PM
[Markets] Biden's Comeback Attempt Goes Awry After Trump Trash-Talks From Japan

Donald Trump took Joe Biden behind the proverbial bleachers this weekend and gave him a twitter beating the likes of which shant be soon forgotten. Biden's comeback was less than stellar. 

In case you missed it, Trump tweeted on Sunday that "African Americans" would not be able to vote for "anyone associated with the 1994 crime bill" which Biden authored (and bragged about as recently as 2007) - largely blamed for contributing to the mass incarceration of black Americans for low-level drug crimes during the USA's infamously failed war on drugs. 

Biden furiously shook his cane, as his campaign copped some serious holier-than-thou faux shock that Trump would talk shit "on foreign soil, on Memorial Day, and to side repeatedly with a murderous dictator against a fellow American and former Vice President," referring to Trump's downplay of North Korea's short-range rocket test, and subsequent tweet calling Biden "a low IQ individual" and "swampman." 

The Trump campaign had none of Biden's jibber-jabber, as 2020 campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh shot back in a statement "That’s rich coming from Joe Biden, who bashed President Trump while standing on foreign soil earlier this year in Germany." 

In February, Biden slammed the Trump administration's foreign policy and immigration stance while speaking during the Munich Security Conference.  

"From the Iraq war to the Russia reset, Joe Biden has been wrong on virtually every foreign policy call in the last four decades," said Murtaugh. "Just ask former Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates."

Published:5/28/2019 6:16:21 PM
[Markets] 18 Ways Julian Assange Changed The World

Authored by Lee Camp via MintPressNews.com,

Julian Assange is a dick. It’s important you understand that.

Assange and WikiLeaks revealed the American military’s war crimes, the American government’s corruption and the American corporate media’s pathetic servile flattery to the power elite. So, if you’re a member of our ruling class, you would view those as textbook examples of dickery.

In a moment I’m going to list all the ways Julian Assange changed the world by being a dick.


 

In an evolved and fully realized society, the oligarchy would see Assange as a dangerous criminal (which they do), and the average working men and women would view him as justice personified (which they don’t). We would celebrate him even as the mass media told us to hope for his downfall—like a Batman or a Robin Hood or an Ozzy Osbourne (the early years, not the cleaning-dog-turds-off-his-carpet years).

But we are not evolved and this is not Gotham City and average Americans don’t root for the truth. Many Americans cheer for Assange’s imprisonment. They believe the corporate plutocratic talking points and yearn for the days when we no longer have to hear about our country’s crimes against humanity or our bankers’ crimes against the economy. Subconsciously they must believe that a life in which we’re tirelessly exploited by rich villains and know all about it thanks to the exhaustive efforts of an eccentric Australian is worse than one in which we’re tirelessly exploited by rich villains yet know nothing about it.

“Ignorance is bliss” is the meditative mantra of the United States of America.

Julian Assange has been arrested and is now locked away in British custody. The U.S. government wants to extradite him, regardless of the official version, for the crime of revealing our government’s crimes. Nearly every government on our third rock from the sun despises the man for bringing transparency to the process of ruling the unwashed masses. (The level of wash has, however, increased thanks to aggressive marketing campaigns from a variety of shampoo brands.)

It is politically inconvenient at this time for the screaming corporate news to remind our entire citizenry what exactly WikiLeaks has done for us. So you won’t see the following list of WikiLeaks’ accomplishments anywhere on your corporate airwaves—in the same way the mainstream media did not begin every report about Chelsea Manning’s trial with a rundown of the war crimes she helped reveal.

And Chelsea Manning’s most famous leak is arguably also WikiLeaks’ most famous leak, so it’ll top this list:

1) That would be the notorious Collateral Murder video, showing U.S. air crew gunning down unarmed Iraqi civilians with an enthusiasm that couldn’t be matched by an eight year-old winning a five-foot-tall stuffed animal at the county fair. They murdered between 12 and 18 innocent people, two of them Reuters journalists.

Zero people have been arrested for the collateral murders. Yet Julian Assange has been arrested for revealing them.

2) WikiLeaks brought us the Guantanamo Bay “Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures—showing that many of the prisoners held on the U.S. military detention facility were completely innocent, and that some were hidden from Red Cross officials. (Because when you’re torturing innocent people, you kinda want to do that in peace and quiet, away from prying eyes. It’s very easy to get distracted, and then you lose your place and have to start all over again.)

None of the soldiers torturing innocent people at Gitmo have been arrested for it. Yet Julian Assange has been arrested for revealing it.

3) Not content with revealing only war crimes, WikiLeaks in 2008 came out with the secret bibles of Scientology, which showed that aliens, um, run the world or … aliens are inside all of us or … aliens give us indigestion. I can’t really remember.

But no one has ever been arrested for perpetrating that nutbag cult. Yet Julian Assange has for revealing it.

Many people believe WikiLeaks has unveiled only crimes of the American government, but that’s completely false. The U.S. corporate media doesn’t want average Americans to understand that WikiLeaks has upped the level of transparency around the world.

4–9) WikiLeaks posted videos of Tibetan dissidents in China fighting back, videos which were not allowed to be viewed in China. They revealed the Peru oil scandal, and that Russia was spying on its citizens’ cell phones, and the Minton Report on toxic dumping in Africa, and the Syria Files—showing the inner workings of the Syrian government. And WikiLeaks displayed to the global audience a secret Australian supreme court gag order that stopped the Australian press from reporting on a huge bribery scandal that involved the central bank and international leaders.

Assange is hated by governments around the world. As much as they may like transparency, when it comes to other countries (specifically the United States), they don’t want their own particular pile of shit on full display. It’s kinda like when most people laugh heartily after an up-skirt photo of a celebrity is published in the tabloids, but at the same time, none of us want up-skirt photos of us all over the web. (I know I don’t because I haven’t shaved up there since Carter was in office.)

As far as I know, none of the political figures involved in these scandals have gone to prison for participating in them. Yet Julian Assange has for revealing them.

10)  Let’s not forget the Iraq War logs—hundreds of thousands of documents relating to America’s illegal invasion of Iraq, which we called a “war,” but I think a war needs to have two sides. Iraq’s elite Republican guard turned out to be three guys and a donkey … and the donkey didn’t even have good aim.

So far as I can tell, no one committing the war crimes evidenced in the Iraq War logs has been locked up for them. Yet Julian Assange has for revealing them.

11) WikiLeaks showed us the highly secretive Bilderberg Group meeting reports. The Bilderberg Group is made up of incredibly powerful men and women who get together and decide how to rule over all of us street people, all the while sitting on thrones made from the bones of the babies of nonbelievers. They’re often accused of being lizard people, but really they’re just regular ol’ sociopaths with lizard skin they purchased from a plastic surgeon in Malibu for half a million dollars.

I don’t think anyone from the Bilderberg Group is being tortured in solitary confinement right now. Yet Julian Assange is for revealing who they are.

12) The Barclays Bank tax avoidance scheme netted Barclays one billion pounds a year.

While it was ordered to pay 500 million pounds in lost taxes, no one was arrested for that theft from citizens. Yet Julian Assange was for revealing it.

13) The Afghan War Diaries consisted of 92,000 documents related to our destruction of Afghanistan. They detailed friendly fire incidents and civilian casualties. According to WikiLeaks, the diaries showed that “When reporting their own activities U.S. Units are inclined to classify civilian kills as insurgent kills, downplay the number of people killed or otherwise make excuses for themselves.”

It’s tough to read this without being floored at the comedy routine that our military actions have become. I picture this scenario happening every day in Afghanistan:

U.S. Soldier #1: This guy we just killed was an insurgent.
U.S. Soldier #2: How do you know?
U.S. Soldier #1: Because we killed him.
U.S. Soldier #2: Why’d we kill him?
U.S. Soldier #1: Because he’s an insurgent.
U.S. Soldier #2: How do you know?
U.S. Soldier #1: Because we killed him.

(Repeat until lightheaded.)

I am unaware of anyone locked away for these war crimes. Yet Julian Assange is locked away—for revealing them.

14) WikiLeaks also unveiled hundreds of thousands of U.S. State Department cables that showed more clearly than ever how our secretive government rules its empire with little to no input from the American people. Among many other things, the cables revealed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered diplomats to spy on French, British, Russian and Chinese delegations at the U.N. Security Council. It also showed that Arab nations urged the U.S. to strike Iran, and much more.

Our ruling elite of course view this as a massive breach of national security. That’s understandable. But that world view comes into play only if you think the elites are the only ones who should know how our nation is run. To answer this question for yourself, do the following experiment. Pull up a photo of Donald Trump—a really close-up image of his blister-colored, bulbous face. Now, look at it intensely for five minutes. … After you’ve done that, tell me you want the ruling elite to be the only ones who know what the fuck is going on. Go ahead and try it—I’ll wait.

Ostensibly, the concept of our government was that the ruling class would be accountable to us, the average Americans. To you and me. To the workers and the number crunchers. To the single moms and the cashiers and the street sweepers and the fluffers on the porn sets. We’re supposed to vote based on our knowledge of how our government is functioning. But if the entirety of our representatives’ criminal behavior is labeled top secret for national security purposes, then we aren’t really an informed populace, are we?

So for all that was unveiled in the State Department cables, no one has been locked up. But Julian Assange has been for revealing them.

15) The Stratfor emails—this was millions of emails that showed how a private intelligence agency was used by its U.S. corporate and government clients to target activists and protesters.

No one at Stratfor is currently locked away. But Julian Assange is for revealing the truth.

16) Then there’s the trade deals. TPP, TISA and TTIP—all three amount to one of the largest attempts at corporate takeover ever conceived. All three were more secretive than Donald Trump’s taxes. Government officials and corporate lawyers and lobbyists wrote every word in private. Not even Congress saw the Trans-Pacific Partnership until very late in the process. The only organization to show the American citizens (and European citizens) some of those documents before they were made into law? WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks made us aware of the corporate restraints that were about to be placed on us, and that’s what allowed activists to pressure Trump to pull out of the TPP.

None of those secretive corporate titans are imprisoned for their attempted power grab, but Julian Assange is for revealing it.

17)  The DNC emails. I’ll explain for those of you who have been living in a cave that is itself inside a yellow-and-blue-makes-green sealed Tupperware container. The Democratic National Committee’s emails gave us proof concerning just how rigged the Democratic primaries really are. They proved the media was in bed with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. They even showed that Obama’s entire first-term cabinet was selected by Citibank. Yes, Citibank. (I would find it less offensive if his cabinet had been decided by a rabid raccoon, or the pus oozing out of Darth Vader’s face or Vince McMahon’s concussed frontal lobe.)

Whatever election integrity movement exists right now, it owes a lot to these revelations by WikiLeaks. After being sued over this matter, the DNC’s lawyers admitted in court that the DNC has no obligation to have a fair primary election. It’s their right to rig it.

But don’t try to get angry about this, because if you do, the CIA has a myriad ways to fuck up your life.

18) In 2017 WikiLeaks posted a trove of CIA documents called “Vault 7.” It detailed their capabilities, including remotely taking over cars, smart TVs, web browsers and smartphones.

After I found out about that, for a solid two weeks I thought, “Screw it. I’m going full Amish. One hundred percent. Let’s see the CIA hack my butter churn. Are they going to use backdoor software to get inside my rustic wooden bow-saw? Even if they could, what are they going to listen to—my conversation about how mee bobblin fraa redd up for rutschin’ ’round. Say no more! Schmunzla wunderbar!”

So is anybody at the CIA chained up for violating our privacy in every way possible? No, but Julian Assange is for revealing it.

By thrusting the truth upon the people of earth, WikiLeaks helped create movements worldwide like the Arab Spring and Occupy. And don’t forget, at first WikiLeaks and Assange were celebrated for their amazing work. In 2011 even Amnesty International hailed WikiLeaks as one of the Arab Spring catalysts. The Guardian said: “The year 2010 may well be remembered as a watershed year when activists and journalists used new technology to speak truth to power and, in so doing, pushed for greater respect for human rights. … It is also the year when repressive governments faced the real possibility that their days were numbered.”

So why have so many outlets and people turned against Assange and WikiLeaks? Because it turned out he wasn’t revealing only repressive Arab regimes. He also revealed U.S.-backed coups and war crimes around the world. He exposed the criminality and villainy of the American ruling elite.

Nothing published on WikiLeaks has ever been proven untrue. Compare that record to CNN, MSNBC, Fox News or any mainstream outlet. Assange has been nominated for multiple Nobel Peace Prizes, and nearly every respected media outlet has used source material from WikiLeaks in their reporting. Yet after all this and after seven years in captivity, the man who laid bare our criminal leaders and showed each one of us our chains is not receiving parades and accolades. He and those who helped him reveal the truth are the only ones endlessly punished.

We are all Julian Assange. As long as he’s imprisoned, we can never be free.

Published:5/28/2019 1:17:12 PM
[] Obama Says He's "Writing" a New Book, Ratf**cks His Wife By Telling People Michelle Obama Used a Ghostwriter For Hers Obama? Accusing others of using a ghostwriter for a book? Oh my stars and garters. Is Bill Ayers no longer available for ghostwriting duties? That Obama -- how gallant. It's taking former President Barack Obama longer to write his next... Published:5/28/2019 1:17:12 PM
[Markets] Giuliani Gearing Up For 'Junkyard Dog' Brawl With 2020 Democrats

After tangling with Robert Mueller and pushing for investigations into all involved in the Trump-Russia "witch hunt," Rudy Giuliani is now gearing up for a vicious battle against 2020 Democratic candidates. 

Giuliani will meet with Trump and his 2020 campaign over the next few weeks to discuss pivoting his efforts into this new role, which he told Politico he expects to include making policy and political connections. 

"We’ll see where they have holes and where they need help," said Giuliani, adding "I’m available to do a lot of it."

While Giuliani has served as an effective personal attorney to Trump, some close to the Trump reelection effort suggested to Politico that Giuliani could hinder the campaign. 

"I imagine not all of Rudy’s ideas are brilliant ones, but the vast majority are and I’ll take the good with the bad," said former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo, who met with the president last month in Washington DC. Caputo otherwise "offered gushing praise for Giuliani coming out of the Mueller investigation," primarily for keeping Trump out of a sit-down interview with the special counsel that many Trump allies viewed as a "perjury trap." 

"Because so many people realize the vital role he played in defending the president through the Russia hoax, I think his surrogacy would appeal across the entire base," Caputo added. "And I think everybody wants to hear from him. In fact, I can’t think of one demographic in the column of the president that would not want to hear from him."

Perhaps most importantly, President Trump loves hanging out with Rudy, and vice-versa. 

"The president is most effective when he’s in a great mood and he’s having fun on the campaign trial and Rudy adds to that," a current Trump campaign aide told Politicoadding "I think he has the potential to be very effective in certain circumstances." That said, the aide added "He also has the potential to be unhelpful at times." 

As Trump’s attorney, Giuliani talks to the president two or three times a week and makes twice-a-month White House visits. He’s also a regular media presence defending the president, an act he’s continued since the end of the Mueller probe last month. Giuliani has launched fusillades on Trump’s potential Democratic rivals, including Joe Biden and Bill de Blasio and swinging away at the expanding congressional investigations that are threatening to morph into impeachment proceedings.

Now, Giuliani is being cast as someone who can reprise the “jack-of-all-trades” role he played during the 2016 presidential campaign, helping senior aides brainstorm policy ideas and mark up speeches, introducing Trump at rallies and serving as the president’s private sounding board. It also means letting Giuliani be Giuliani during his media hits, drawing eye-rolling fact checks from reporters but giving the president a megaphone for whatever he wants to say, however politically incorrect it may be. -Politico

"I think he can be a great warm-up act," said the current Trump adviser. "Having him on the plane is a great idea. As a core messenger he can get sloppy with details and also leave a lot of shrapnel on the ground."

Another member of Trump's advisory team told Politico that Rudy is absolutely necessary to the campaign. 

"We view him as a necessary component to the overall picture, because there are frequently messages that the president absolutely needs and wants to get out and he serves that role ably and cheerfully," the source said. "That’s the best way to characterize him. If there wasn’t a Rudy Giuliani, we’d have to invent one."

Giuliani's time in front of the camera has been spotted with gaffes and the occasional misstatement. As Politico notes, "After some of his worst performances on TV, Giuliani went notably quiet. Just weeks into his assignment, an Associated Press story noted Trump was asking around whether he should sideline his lawyer from making so many questionable media appearances. The New Yorker last fall labeled him “Trump’s clown.”" 

As 2020 approaches, however, Giuliani says he's ready to rock - and can be a helpful surrogate for Trump in various battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. 

Putting Giuliani on the campaign trail would also give Trump’s campaign someone who can speak freely about a Russia probe that the president sees as a rallying cry to his base — his campaign has been raising money and building email lists off the issue.

“Having spent so much time at the elbow of the president, he knows what happened better than most so he can explain it better than most,” Caputo said. -Politico

"He’s an expert at dissecting and honing in on the weaknesses of the other candidates," said Mike DuHaime, a New Jersey-based political operative who managed Giuliani's 2008 presidential campaign. "He takes that prosecutorial style. No matter who the nominee is on the other side, Rudy will be good at finding a weakness and being able to explain that weakness, almost like he’s talking to a jury." 

And Rudy has already begun tearing into the 2020 candidates, starting with former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. 

Perhaps his biggest focus, though, has been Biden, who leads several early Democratic primary polls. Earlier this month, Giuliani said he was planning to travel to the Ukraine to urge the country’s president-elect to investigate Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, over his involvement in a Ukrainian energy company. Giuliani also insinuated that Joe Biden had somehow nefariously used his position as vice president to squash an investigation, without offering any evidence.

Giuliani later backed out of the trip as Democrats accused him of openly trying to encourage a foreign country to meddle in an American election. The country’s lead prosecutor also told reporters he’d found no evidence of wrongdoing by either Hunter or Joe Biden, and media reports have further poked holes in Giuliani’s theories. -Politico

And while Ukraine may have turned down the heat on the Bidens, Giuliani appears to have accomplished a large part of the mission in terms of public perceptions. 

"The information is now out there," said DuHai