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Across Europe, political leaders have lost the trust of their people

 Will Hutton

I have been impressed with how fast "left-leaning" economists who went to work in industry and finance became pro-business, anti-labor, and politically right wing. I think that what got to them was not only the impact of association with businesspeople, but the fact that business profitability became central to their own worldview and enumeration. From the point of view of  corporate shill wage increases would seem bad — as encroaching on profitability as well as threatening inflation and business growth (and by extension stock prices).

Tough environmental rules would also hamper profitability; their relaxation by law or friendly (non-)enforcement would enhance it. So they pretty quickly slide to waht is called  “bottom-feeders morality,” with positions on key issues dictated by bottom line effects, but of course rationalized with an ideology that made this despicable behavior looks benevolent, which these bottom-feeders into Good Samaritans as they collected their fat salaries and bonuses while the vast majority waited for trickle-down.  That mean that phony "free market ideology" of neoliberalism has a lot of eager customers. On the fraudulence of this ideology, see David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, and Ha-Joon Chang, Bad Samaritans.)

With the steady increase in business’s economic and political power over the past 30 years and the parallel decline of organized labor, neoliberal (market-can-do-it-all) ideology has become even more firmly entrenched in establishment thought and practice. The novelist Ayn Rand, most famously the author of Atlas Shrugged, was an extreme proponent of so called positivism -- an far right individualist, "free enterprise", anti-government ideology, and it is no coincidence that one of her cult admirers and associates, Alan Greenspan, became a leading member of the policy-making elite in the 1980s and into 2006.

The morality of this elite became essentially a slight variation of mob morality. And in most case the difference is fairly superficial (Mob movie lessons American Gangster):

Plot: American Gangster tells the true story of Frank Lucas (played by Denzel Washington), the bad-ass gangster who hijacked the New York drug trade in the 1960s and 1970s. He inherits Harlem territory from his mentor Bumpy Johnson, the man he used to chauffeur.

Once in power, he ingeniously cuts out the middlemen and flies to the Golden Triangle of southeast Asia to personally form contacts with opium growers there. He then devises a brilliant, if somewhat brash, system of transporting the illegal cargo back to the U.S. in the coffins of dead American soldiers. He amasses a fortune in the process, but the authorities — both crooked and straight —are out to get him, as are rival drug dealers, once they figure out who he is. He eventually goes down, but not before cutting a deal to expose over three quarters of the NYPD’s drug squad as corrupt. 

Mob lessons learned:

Let them underestimate you

When Frank takes over for Bumpy, nobody knows who the guy is, which is fine for Frank because he’s more interested in making huge amounts of money than in making a name for himself. Foolish pride never factors into Frank’s way of doing things, so he flies under the radar of the authorities for years. When it finally emerges that a new player has taken over the entire New York heroin trade, everyone thinks it must be the wiseguys behind it. They think there’s no way anyone other than the mob who could pull off such a feat. By the time they realize that it’s Lucas who’s responsible — a black man from Harlem, of all people — he’s already turned the trade on its head and created an empire.

Stay off the radar

“The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room,” Frank informs his younger brother Huey, who shows up to his party dressed like a pimp. He offers this advice very earnestly, since it’s a code by which he himself lives. When Frank goes out, he goes to his own club and surrounds himself with his own people. No gold medallions or spinning hubcaps on display, and absolutely no unwanted attention.

Cut out the middleman

Many of the lessons we learn from Frank can be applied directly to basic capitalist business practices. Before Bumpy dies, he hints at the state of affairs in the American world of commerce. He speaks of the lack of customer service and “pride of ownership.” Franks knows what he has to do, and brazenly takes the necessary steps to set up his very own cartel, even if it means taking on the Mafia.

Brand your product

In another scene (which could be taken straight from a Harvard Business School class), Frank speaks of the importance of creating a recognized product or a “brand.” A conversation takes place with rival gangster Nicky Barnes in which Frank warns the strung-out dealer not to tamper with his product, which he refers to as the “Pepsi of smack” or “blue magic.” It soon becomes so widely coveted that he’s making $1 million per day on drug sales alone.

More mob movies lessons from American Gangster...
 

The nest result is that both in Europe and the USA , political leaders have lost the trust of their people. I´d go further and say that the people despise their politicians, who are lying, greedy, self-serving morons doing the bidding of their masters, the bankers, rather than the people they pretend to serve.

grumpyoldman

We are mired in cheating and lying, and massive hypocrisy on the part of the rich and the technocrats who serve them, because that is the only way in which neo-liberal ideology can maintain its hegemony.

Fortunately for the self-serving and self perpetuating aristocracy of money, there exists an overwhelmingly servile media pumping out Chicago School propaganda 24/7.

Welcome to the world of financial fascism.


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Old News ;-)

[Apr 21, 2019] John Brennan's Police State USA

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Sadly, Brennan's propaganda coup only works on what the Bell Curve crowd up there would call the dumbest and most technologically helpless 1.2σ. Here is how people with half a brain interpret the latest CIA whoppers. ..."
"... Convincing Americans in Russia's influence or Russia collusion with Trump was only a tool that would create pressure on Trump that together with the fear of paralysis of his administration and impeachment would push Trump into the corner from which the only thing he could do was to worsen relations with Russia. What American people believe or not is really secondary. With firing of Gen. Flynn Trump acted exactly as they wanted him to act. This was the beginning of downward slope. ..."
"... Anyway, the mission was accomplished and the relations with Russia are worse now than during Obama administration. Trump can concentrate on Iran in which he will be supported by all sides and factions including the media. Even Larry David will approve not only the zionist harpies like Pam Geller, Rita Katz and Ilana Mercer. ..."
"... The only part that is absurd is that Russia posed a bona fide threat to the US. I'm fine with the idea that he ruined Brennen's plans in Syria. But thats just ego we shouldn't have been there anyway. ..."
"... No one really cares about Ukraine. And the European/Russian trade zone? No one cares. The Eurozone has its hands full with Greece and the rest of the old EU. I have a feeling they have already gone way too far and are more likely to shrink than expand in any meaningful way ..."
"... " ..factions within the state whose interests do not coincide with those of the American people." ..."
"... All the more powerfully put because of its recognisably comical. understatement. Thank you Mr Whitney. Brilliant article that would be all over the mainstream media were the US MSM an instrument of American rather than globalist interests. ..."
"... A sad story, how the USA always was a police state, where the two percent rich manipulated the 98% poor, to stay rich. When there were insurrections federal troops restored order. Also FDR put down strikes with troops. ..."
"... The elephant in the room is Israel and the neocons , this is the force that controls America and Americas foreign policy , Brennan and the 17 intel agencies are puppets of the mossad and Israel, that is the brutal fact of the matter. ..."
"... "The absence of evidence suggests that Russia hacking narrative is a sloppy and unprofessional disinformation campaign that was hastily slapped together by over confident Intelligence officials who believed that saturating the public airwaves with one absurd story after another would achieve the desired result " ..."
"... But it DID achieve the desired result! Trump folded under the pressure, and went full out neoliberal. Starting with his missile attack on Syria, he is now OK with spending trillions fighting pointless endless foreign wars on the other side of the world. ..."
"... I think maybe half the US population does believe the Russian hacking thing, but that's not really the issue. I think that the pre-Syrian attack media blitz was more a statement of brute power to Trump: WE are in charge here, and WE can take you down and impeach you, and facts don't matter! ..."
"... Sometimes propaganda is about persuading people. And sometimes, I think, it is about intimidating them. ..."
"... The Brit secret service, in effect, created and trained not merely the CIA but also the Mossad and Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Presidency. All four are defined by endless lies, endless acts of utterly amoral savagery. All 4 are at least as bad as the KGB ever was, and that means as bad as Hell itself. ..."
"... Traditional triumphalist American narrative history, as taught in schools up through the 60s or so, portrayed America as "wart-free." Since then, with Zinn's book playing a major role, it has increasingly been portrayed as "warts-only," which is of course at least equally flawed. I would say more so. ..."
"... Anyway, the mission was accomplished and the relations with Russia are worse now than during Obama administration. ..."
"... That pre-9/11 "cooperation" nearly destroyed Russia. Nobody in Russia (except, perhaps, for Pussy Riot) wants a return to the Yeltsin era. ..."
"... The CIA is the world largest criminal and terrorist organization. With Brennan the worst has come to the worst. The whole Russian meddling affair was initiated by the Obama/Clinton gang in cooperation with 95 percent of the media. Nothing will come out of it. ..."
"... [The key figures who had primary influence on both Trump's and Bush's Iran policies held views close to those of Israel's right-wing Likud Party. The main conduit for the Likudist line in the Trump White House is Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, primary foreign policy advisor, and longtime friend and supporter of Netanyahu. Kushner's parents are also long-time supporters of Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank. ..."
"... Another figure to whom the Trump White House has turned is John Bolton, undersecretary of state and a key policymaker on Iran in the Bush administration. Although Bolton was not appointed Trump's secretary of state, as he'd hoped, he suddenly reemerged as a player on Iran policy thanks to his relationship with Kushner. Politico reports that Bolton met with Kushner a few days before the final policy statement was released and urged a complete withdrawal from the deal in favor of his own plan for containing Iran. ..."
"... Putin's dream of Greater Europe is the death knell for the unipolar world order. It means the economic center of the world will shift to Central Asia where abundant resources and cheap labor of the east will be linked to the technological advances and the Capital the of the west eliminating the need to trade in dollars or recycle profits into US debt. The US economy will slip into irreversible decline, and the global hegemon will steadily lose its grip on power. That's why it is imperative for the US prevail in Ukraine– a critical land bridge connecting the two continents– and to topple Assad in Syria in order to control vital resources and pipeline corridors. Washington must be in a position where it can continue to force its trading partners to denominate their resources in dollars and recycle the proceeds into US Treasuries if it is to maintain its global primacy. The main problem is that Russia is blocking Uncle Sam's path to success which is roiling the political establishment in Washington. ..."
"... Second, Zakharova confirms that the western media is not an independent news gathering organization, but a propaganda organ for the foreign policy establishment who dictates what they can and can't say. ..."
"... Such a truthful portrait of reality ! The ruling elite is indeed massively corrupt, compromised, and controlled by dark forces. And the police state is already here. For most people, so far, in the form of massive collection of personal data and increasing number of mandatory regulations. But just one or two big false-flags away from progressing into something much worse. ..."
"... Clearly the CIA was making war on Syria. Is secret coercive covert action against sovereign nations Ok? Is it legal? When was the CIA designated a war making entity – what part of the constitution OK's that? Isn't the congress obliged by constitutional law to declare war? (These are NOT six month actions – they go on and on.) ..."
"... Syria is only one of many nations that the CIA is attacking – how many countries are we attacking with drones? Where is congress? ..."
"... Close the CIA – give the spying to the 16 other agencies. ..."
Oct 22, 2017 | www.unz.com

Fran Macadam , October 20, 2017 at 3:08 pm GMT

A credible reading of the diverse facts, Mike.
Kirk Elarbee , October 20, 2017 at 8:27 pm GMT
Sadly, Brennan's propaganda coup only works on what the Bell Curve crowd up there would call the dumbest and most technologically helpless 1.2σ. Here is how people with half a brain interpret the latest CIA whoppers.

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/10/everyone-hacked-everyone-hacked-everyone-spy-spin-fuels-anti-kaspersky-campaign.html

utu , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:18 am GMT
Again Mike Whitney does not get it. Though in the first part of the article I thought he would. He was almost getting there. The objective was to push new administration into the corner from which it could not improve relations with Russia as Trump indicated that he wanted to during the campaign.

Convincing Americans in Russia's influence or Russia collusion with Trump was only a tool that would create pressure on Trump that together with the fear of paralysis of his administration and impeachment would push Trump into the corner from which the only thing he could do was to worsen relations with Russia. What American people believe or not is really secondary. With firing of Gen. Flynn Trump acted exactly as they wanted him to act. This was the beginning of downward slope.

Anyway, the mission was accomplished and the relations with Russia are worse now than during Obama administration. Trump can concentrate on Iran in which he will be supported by all sides and factions including the media. Even Larry David will approve not only the zionist harpies like Pam Geller, Rita Katz and Ilana Mercer.

Pamela Geller: Thank You, Larry David

http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2017/10/19/pamela-geller-thank-larry-david/

anon , Disclaimer Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:54 am GMT
OK.

The only part that is absurd is that Russia posed a bona fide threat to the US. I'm fine with the idea that he ruined Brennen's plans in Syria. But thats just ego we shouldn't have been there anyway.

No one really cares about Ukraine. And the European/Russian trade zone? No one cares. The Eurozone has its hands full with Greece and the rest of the old EU. I have a feeling they have already gone way too far and are more likely to shrink than expand in any meaningful way

The one thing I am not positive about. If the elite really believe that Russia is a threat, then Americans have done psych ops on themselves.

The US was only interested in Ukraine because it was there. Next in line on a map. The rather shocking disinterest in investing money -- on both sides -- is inexplicable if it was really important. Most of it would be a waste -- but still. The US stupidly spent $5 billion on something -- getting duped by politicians and got theoretical regime change, but it was hell to pry even $1 billion for real economic aid.

ThereisaGod , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 6:37 am GMT
" ..factions within the state whose interests do not coincide with those of the American people."

All the more powerfully put because of its recognisably comical. understatement. Thank you Mr Whitney. Brilliant article that would be all over the mainstream media were the US MSM an instrument of American rather than globalist interests.

jilles dykstra , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 6:46 am GMT
I am reading Howard Zinn, A Peoples History of the USA, 1492 to the Present. A sad story, how the USA always was a police state, where the two percent rich manipulated the 98% poor, to stay rich. When there were insurrections federal troops restored order. Also FDR put down strikes with troops.
Logan , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 11:16 am GMT
@jilles dykstra

You should be aware that Zinn's book is not, IMO, an honest attempt at writing history. It is conscious propaganda intended to make Americans believe exactly what you are taking from it.

DESERT FOX , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 1:30 pm GMT
The elephant in the room is Israel and the neocons , this is the force that controls America and Americas foreign policy , Brennan and the 17 intel agencies are puppets of the mossad and Israel, that is the brutal fact of the matter.

Until that fact changes Americans will continue to fight and die for Israel.

TG , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 2:03 pm GMT
"The absence of evidence suggests that Russia hacking narrative is a sloppy and unprofessional disinformation campaign that was hastily slapped together by over confident Intelligence officials who believed that saturating the public airwaves with one absurd story after another would achieve the desired result "

But it DID achieve the desired result! Trump folded under the pressure, and went full out neoliberal. Starting with his missile attack on Syria, he is now OK with spending trillions fighting pointless endless foreign wars on the other side of the world.

I think maybe half the US population does believe the Russian hacking thing, but that's not really the issue. I think that the pre-Syrian attack media blitz was more a statement of brute power to Trump: WE are in charge here, and WE can take you down and impeach you, and facts don't matter!

Sometimes propaganda is about persuading people. And sometimes, I think, it is about intimidating them.

Anonymous , Disclaimer Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 2:05 pm GMT
Whitney is another author who declares the "Russians did it" narrative a psyop. He then devotes entire columns to the psyop, "naww Russia didn't do it". There could be plenty to write about – recent laws that do undercut liberty, but no, the Washington Post needs fake opposition to its fake news so you have guys like Whitney in the less-mainstream fake news media.

So Brennan wanted revenge? Well that's simple enough to understand, without being too stupid. But Whitney's whopper of a lie is what you're supposed to unquestionably believe. The US has "rival political parties". Did you miss it?

Jake , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 2:32 pm GMT
The US is doing nothing more than acting as the British Empire 2.0. WASP culture was born of a Judaizing heresy: Anglo-Saxon Puritanism. That meant that the WASP Elites of every are pro-Jewish, especially in order to wage war, physical and/or cultural, against the vast majority of white Christians they rule.

By the early 19th century, The Brit Empire's Elites also had a strong, and growing, dose of pro-Arabic/pro-Islamic philoSemitism. Most of that group became ardently pro-Sunni, and most of the pro-Sunni ones eventually coalescing around promotion of the House of Saud, which means being pro-Wahhabi and permanently desirous of killing or enslaving virtually all Shiite Mohammedans.

So, by the time of Victoria's high reign, the Brit WASP Elites were a strange brew of hardcoree pro-Jewish and hardcore pro-Arabic/islamic. The US foreign policy of today is an attempt to put those two together and force it on everyone and make it work.

The Brit secret service, in effect, created and trained not merely the CIA but also the Mossad and Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Presidency. All four are defined by endless lies, endless acts of utterly amoral savagery. All 4 are at least as bad as the KGB ever was, and that means as bad as Hell itself.

Logan , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:04 pm GMT
@Grandpa Charlie

Fair enough. I didn't know that about the foreword. If accurate, that's a reasonable approach for a book.

Here's the problem.

Back when O. Cromwell was the dictator of England, he retained an artist to paint him. The custom of the time was for artists to "clean up" their subjects, in a primitive form of photoshopping.

OC being a religious fanatic, he informed the artist he wished to be portrayed as God had made him, "warts and all." (Ollie had a bunch of unattractive facial warts.) Or the artist wouldn't be paid.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/nov/08/cromwell-portraitist-samuel-cooper-exhibition

Traditional triumphalist American narrative history, as taught in schools up through the 60s or so, portrayed America as "wart-free." Since then, with Zinn's book playing a major role, it has increasingly been portrayed as "warts-only," which is of course at least equally flawed. I would say more so.

All I am asking is that American (and other) history be written "warts and all." The triumphalist version is true, largely, and so is the Zinn version. Gone With the Wind and Roots both portray certain aspects of the pre-war south fairly accurately..

America has been, and is, both evil and good. As is/was true of every human institution and government in history. Personally, I believe America, net/net, has been one of the greatest forces for human good ever. But nobody will realize that if only the negative side of American history is taught.

Wally , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:16 pm GMT
@Michael Kenny

Hasbarist 'Kenny', you said:

"There must be something really dirty in Russigate that hasn't yet come out to generate this level of panic."

You continue to claim what you cannot prove.

But then you are a Jews First Zionist.

Russia-Gate Jumps the Shark
Russia-gate has jumped the shark with laughable new claims about a tiny number of "Russia-linked" social media ads, but the US mainstream media is determined to keep a straight face

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/10/robert-parry/jumping-the-shark/

Yet Another Major Russia Story Falls Apart. Is Skepticism Permissible Yet?

https://theintercept.com/2017/09/28/yet-another-major-russia-story-falls-apart-is-skepticism-permissible-yet/

+ review of other frauds

Logan , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:20 pm GMT
@Jake

Most of that group became ardently pro-Sunni, and most of the pro-Sunni ones eventually coalescing around promotion of the House of Saud, which means being pro-Wahhabi and permanently desirous of killing or enslaving virtually all Shiite Mohammedans.

Thanks for the laugh. During the 19th century, the Sauds were toothless, dirt-poor hicks from the deep desert of zero importance on the world stage.

The Brits were not Saudi proponents, in fact promoting the Husseins of Hejaz, the guys Lawrence of Arabia worked with. The Husseins, the Sharifs of Mecca and rulers of Hejaz, were the hereditary enemies of the Sauds of Nejd.

After WWI, the Brits installed Husseins as rulers of both Transjordan and Iraq, which with the Hejaz meant the Sauds were pretty much surrounded. The Sauds conquered the Hejaz in 1924, despite lukewarm British support for the Hejaz.

Nobody in the world cared much about the Saudis one way or another until massive oil fields were discovered, by Americans not Brits, starting in 1938. There was no reason they should. Prior to that Saudi prominence in world affairs was about equal to that of Chad today, and for much the same reason. Chad (and Saudi Arabia) had nothing anybody else wanted.

Grandpa Charlie , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:25 pm GMT
@Michael Kenny

'Putin stopped talking about the "Lisbon to Vladivostok" free trade area long ago" -- Michael Kenney

Putin was simply trying to sell Russia's application for EU membership with the catch-phrase "Lisbon to Vladivostok". He continued that until the issue was triply mooted (1) by implosion of EU growth and boosterism, (2) by NATO's aggressive stance, in effect taken by NATO in Ukraine events and in the Baltics, and, (3) Russia's alliance with China.

It is surely still true that Russians think of themselves, categorically, as Europeans. OTOH, we can easily imagine that Russians in Vladivostok look at things differently than do Russians in St. Petersburg. Then again, Vladivostok only goes back about a century and a half.

Seamus Padraig , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:39 pm GMT
@utu

Anyway, the mission was accomplished and the relations with Russia are worse now than during Obama administration.

I generally agree with your comment, but that part strikes me as a bit of an exaggeration. While relations with Russia certainly haven't improved, how have they really worsened? The second round of sanctions that Trump reluctantly approved have yet to be implemented by Europe, which was the goal. And apart from that, what of substance has changed?

Seamus Padraig , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:45 pm GMT
@Grandpa Charlie

That pre-9/11 "cooperation" nearly destroyed Russia. Nobody in Russia (except, perhaps, for Pussy Riot) wants a return to the Yeltsin era.

Ludwig Watzal , Website Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:46 pm GMT
It's not surprising that 57 percent of the American people believe in Russian meddling. Didn't two-thirds of the same crowd believe that Saddam was behind 9/11, too? The American public is being brainwashed 24 hours a day all year long.

The CIA is the world largest criminal and terrorist organization. With Brennan the worst has come to the worst. The whole Russian meddling affair was initiated by the Obama/Clinton gang in cooperation with 95 percent of the media. Nothing will come out of it.

This disinformation campaign might be the prelude to an upcoming war.
Right now, the US is run by jerks and idiots. Watch the video.

anonymous , Disclaimer Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:50 pm GMT
Only dumb people does not know that TRUMP IS NETANYAHU'S PUPPET.

The fifth column zionist jews are running the albino stooge and foreign policy in the Middle East to expand Israel's interest against American interest that is TREASON. One of these FIFTH COLUMNISTS is Jared Kushner. He should be arrested.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/donald-trumps-likudist-campaign-against-iran/5614264

[The key figures who had primary influence on both Trump's and Bush's Iran policies held views close to those of Israel's right-wing Likud Party. The main conduit for the Likudist line in the Trump White House is Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, primary foreign policy advisor, and longtime friend and supporter of Netanyahu. Kushner's parents are also long-time supporters of Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank.

Another figure to whom the Trump White House has turned is John Bolton, undersecretary of state and a key policymaker on Iran in the Bush administration. Although Bolton was not appointed Trump's secretary of state, as he'd hoped, he suddenly reemerged as a player on Iran policy thanks to his relationship with Kushner. Politico reports that Bolton met with Kushner a few days before the final policy statement was released and urged a complete withdrawal from the deal in favor of his own plan for containing Iran.

Bolton spoke with Trump by phone on Thursday about the paragraph in the deal that vowed it would be "terminated" if there was any renegotiation, according to Politico. He was calling Trump from Las Vegas, where he'd been meeting with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the third major figure behind Trump's shift towards Israeli issues. Adelson is a Likud supporter who has long been a close friend of Netanyahu's and has used his Israeli tabloid newspaper Israel Hayomto support Netanyahu's campaigns. He was Trump's main campaign contributor in 2016, donating $100 million. Adelson's real interest has been in supporting Israel's interests in Washington -- especially with regard to Iran.]

Miro23 , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 4:56 pm GMT
A great article with some excellent points:

Putin's dream of Greater Europe is the death knell for the unipolar world order. It means the economic center of the world will shift to Central Asia where abundant resources and cheap labor of the east will be linked to the technological advances and the Capital the of the west eliminating the need to trade in dollars or recycle profits into US debt. The US economy will slip into irreversible decline, and the global hegemon will steadily lose its grip on power. That's why it is imperative for the US prevail in Ukraine– a critical land bridge connecting the two continents– and to topple Assad in Syria in order to control vital resources and pipeline corridors. Washington must be in a position where it can continue to force its trading partners to denominate their resources in dollars and recycle the proceeds into US Treasuries if it is to maintain its global primacy. The main problem is that Russia is blocking Uncle Sam's path to success which is roiling the political establishment in Washington.

American dominance is very much tied to the dollar's role as the world's reserve currency, and the rest of the world no longer want to fund this bankrupt, warlike state – particularly the Chinese.

First, it confirms that the US did not want to see the jihadist extremists defeated by Russia. These mainly-Sunni militias served as Washington's proxy-army conducting an ambitious regime change operation which coincided with US strategic ambitions.

The CIA run US/Israeli/ISIS alliance.

Second, Zakharova confirms that the western media is not an independent news gathering organization, but a propaganda organ for the foreign policy establishment who dictates what they can and can't say.

They are given the political line and they broadcast it.

The loosening of rules governing the dissemination of domestic propaganda coupled with the extraordinary advances in surveillance technology, create the perfect conditions for the full implementation of an American police state. But what is more concerning, is that the primary levers of state power are no longer controlled by elected officials but by factions within the state whose interests do not coincide with those of the American people. That can only lead to trouble.

At some point Americans are going to get a "War on Domestic Terror" cheered along by the media. More or less the arrest and incarceration of any opposition following the Soviet Bolshevik model.

CanSpeccy , Website Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm GMT
@utu

On the plus side, everyone now knows that the Anglo-US media from the NY Times to the Economist, from WaPo to the Gruniard, and from the BBC to CNN, the CBC and Weinstein's Hollywood are a worthless bunch of depraved lying bastards.

Thales the Milesian , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:53 pm GMT
Brennan did this, CIA did that .

So what are you going to do about all this?

Continue to whine?

Continue to keep your head stuck in your ass?

So then continue with your blah, blah, blah, and eat sh*t.

You, disgusting self-elected democratic people/institutions!!!

AB_Anonymous , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:59 pm GMT
Such a truthful portrait of reality ! The ruling elite is indeed massively corrupt, compromised, and controlled by dark forces. And the police state is already here. For most people, so far, in the form of massive collection of personal data and increasing number of mandatory regulations. But just one or two big false-flags away from progressing into something much worse.

The thing is, no matter how thick the mental cages are, and how carefully they are maintained by the daily massive injections of "certified" truth (via MSM), along with neutralizing or compromising of "troublemakers", the presence of multiple alternative sources in the age of Internet makes people to slip out of these cages one by one, and as the last events show – with acceleration.

It means that there's a fast approaching tipping point after which it'd be impossible for those in power both to keep a nice "civilized" face and to control the "cage-free" population. So, no matter how the next war will be called, it will be the war against the free Internet and free people. That's probably why N. Korean leader has no fear to start one.

Art , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 6:18 pm GMT
An aside:

All government secrecy is a curse on mankind. Trump is releasing the JFK murder files to the public. Kudos! Let us hope he will follow up with a full 9/11 investigation.

Think Peace -- Art

Mr. Anon , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:07 pm GMT
@utu

The objective was to push new administration into the corner from which it could not improve relations with Russia as Trump indicated that he wanted to during the campaign.

Good point. That was probably one of the objectives (and from the point of view of the deep-state, perhaps the most important objective) of the "Russia hacked our democracy" narrative, in addition to the general deligitimization of the Trump administration.

Art , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:11 pm GMT
And, keep in mind, Washington's Sunni proxies were not a division of the Pentagon; they were entirely a CIA confection: CIA recruited, CIA-armed, CIA-funded and CIA-trained.

Clearly the CIA was making war on Syria. Is secret coercive covert action against sovereign nations Ok? Is it legal? When was the CIA designated a war making entity – what part of the constitution OK's that? Isn't the congress obliged by constitutional law to declare war? (These are NOT six month actions – they go on and on.)

Are committees of six congressman and six senators, who meet in secret, just avoiding the grave constitutional questions of war? We the People cannot even interrogate these politicians. (These politicians make big money in the secrecy swamp when they leave office.)

Syria is only one of many nations that the CIA is attacking – how many countries are we attacking with drones? Where is congress?

Spying is one thing – covert action is another – covert is wrong – it goes against world order. Every year after 9/11 they say things are worse – give them more money more power and they will make things safe. That is BS!

9/11 has opened the flood gates to the US government attacking at will, the various peoples of this Earth. That is NOT our prerogative.

We are being exceptionally arrogant.

Close the CIA – give the spying to the 16 other agencies.

Think Peace -- Art

Rurik , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:12 pm GMT
@Ben10

right at 1:47

when he says 'we can't move on as a country'

his butt hurt is so ruefully obvious, that I couldn't help notice a wry smile on my face

that bitch spent millions on the war sow, and now all that mullah won't even wipe his butt hurt

when I see ((guys)) like this raging their inner crybaby angst, I feel really, really good about President Trump

MAGA bitches!

Mr. Anon , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:15 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra

I am reading Howard Zinn, A Peoples History of the USA

A Peoples History of the USA? Which Peoples?

Tradecraft46 , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 8:04 pm GMT
I am SAIS 70 so know the drill and the article is on point.

Here is the dealio. Most reporters are dim and have no experience, and it is real easy to lead them by the nose with promises of better in the future.

[Apr 20, 2019] What shocked me most from the recent story here about Torturer Gina Haspel lying to Trump wasn't that she did it. The woman has no scruples at all, and her misbehavior is hardly a surprise.

Apr 20, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Zachary Smith , Apr 18, 2019 5:09:48 PM | 7 ">link

Assuming that it is correct, who might be the most likely culprit?

Making that assumption, I want to focus on this part:

The U.S. embassy in Kuwait contacted a contracted private company to send the package to the U.S. on board of an American airline.

Government is evil. Therefore hiring enough vetted US citizens to run an embassy is to be avoided if a Private Company can be paid to do the same job. It's been done in the Military. NASA. National Intelligence has been "privatized". (think Edward Snowden)

What shocked me most from the recent story here about Torturer Gina Haspel lying to Trump wasn't that she did it. The woman has no scruples at all, and her misbehavior is hardly a surprise. The NYT piece was just another story about an ignorant old man who can be easily managed. No, here is the part which jumped out at me.

"Houseflies buzzing around the Oval Office were drawing his attention, and ire.

After reading that I'd be surprised if there is a competent core of White House GOVERNMENT workers remaining there. Nobody to manage the flying vermin. It took the director of the CIA to send over some flypaper!

I doubt if the Trumpies could organize a 1-float parade, so the lax security could be almost anywhere in the chain of events. But my present vote is on a Private Company. It might be the transport company. If they don't have junior staffers in the Embassy to run simple missions like delivering a package, they probably don't have an in-house cleaning staff, either. So they may hire some locals to come in and mop and sweep the joint. Inexpensive Outsiders.

[Apr 19, 2019] The USSR was a kind of guarantor of sanity of the USA elite, supressing built-in suisidal tendences. With it gove they went off the rail

For Western world, especially people of the USA, the collapse of the USSR was really geopolitical catastrophe, as Putin once put it. It unleaseshed cannibalistic instincts of neoliberal elite.
Apr 19, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Drew Hunkins , April 18, 2019 at 12:39

" "Can you imagine what the world would be like today if there was still a Soviet Union?" remarked Zbigniew Bzezinski "

Yeah, I can.

There never would have been a war on Iraq in 1991 nor an obliteration of Iraq in 2003, which has lasted until the present day. The destruction of Yugoslavia never would have taken place and the wars and proxy wars on Syria and Libya would have only existed in the twisted and depraved imaginations of the Zionist and militarist psychos in our midst.

TINA never would have been an imperative and the working people of the Western world (primarily the U.S.) wouldn't be in a race to the bottom as it comes to wages, healthcare insurance, poverty levels, infant mortality, life-expectancy, union power in the workplace, secure retirements, and outlandish housing costs. With the demise of the USSR the millionaire capitalist-investor class really took the gloves off and saw no reason to provide the working masses with certain life-affirming policies, it was time to really sock it to the bottom 90%.

Despite some its faults, the world's people have been paying dearly for the demise of the USSR.

For further reading on what I've outlined above:
"Blood Lies" by Grover Furr
"Blackshirts and Reds" by Michael Parenti
"Fool's Crusade" by Diana Johnstone
"Against Empire" by Michael Parenti
essays and articles by Paul Craig Roberts
essays and articles by Andre Vltchek

Al Pinto , April 18, 2019 at 13:31

In short, without an antidote, the US does what the neocons and Israel decide to do. Welcome to the world of "my way, or the highway" cowboy mentality

Rob Roy , April 18, 2019 at 20:26

Actually, people in the USSR lived lives of constant fear (they call it the “Time of Terror”) that their friends, relatives, neighbors, strangers, even their children, would “tattle” on them and they would wind up in the torture chambers. They lived in stark, nearly unbearable poverty; the only comfort was that they all were in the same godforsaken boat. Communism might be a good idea on paper, but in reality, because of the ignorance of the bureaucratic leadership, it was a dismal failure.

The demise of the USSR would have no effect whatsoever on the hegemonic madness of the US which, under the guiding light of the Monroe Doctrine (established way before the USSR), carries on destroying one country after another. I would ask, “What would the world do without the USA?” Live in a much more peaceful world for sure. As for Omar, I wish her the fortitude to continue telling the truth. Again, Max Blumenthal proves himself one of the world’s best reporters.

OlyaPola , April 19, 2019 at 05:33

“constant fear”

The years of 1928 to 1953 were not constant since there were the years 1954 and subsequent.

Drew Hunkins , April 19, 2019 at 10:22

That’s not true Rob Roy. You’re parroting Western capitalist talking points. A whole host of brand new scholarly literature has hit the shelves in just the last few years proving the USSR was nowhere near as horrible as the Washington imperialist media made it out to be. In fact, under Stalin the Soviet Union made substantial gains in women’s rights, literacy, healthcare and industrial wages. Also, had it not been for Stalin’s agrarian plan there would have been more famines and more severe famines.

And as everyone knows, if Stalin never crash course industrialized the country they never would have defeated Nazi Germany.

Far from the USSR being a police-state it was often seen as a giant trough in which, for example, rent wouldn’t be paid and no one would come around to collect it.

Please see the following books for a truth trip: “Blood Lies” by Grover Furr and “Stalin, Waiting for the Truth” by Grover Furr. Also, Michael Parenti’s “Blackshirts and Reds is excellent.

Dump Pelousy , April 18, 2019 at 20:52

Micheal Perenti is the best. He was the Truth To Power voice before 9/11, before all the yuppie reporters sold their souls for “access” and a talking heads show. I watched it happen in slow motion with great dismay.

mp66 , April 18, 2019 at 22:23

Spot on. The western owner class was forced to share at least one plate with the rest of the population to make the west appear superior in material terms, and with that incentive or threat gone, there is no more need for a plate, few crumbs under the table should be sufficient. But as usual, greed goes along with stupidity, they forgot that doing so for decades undermines the stability of the system. Trump, Brexit, trade wars, abrogations of treaties, blatant disregard for bare basics of international law etc. are just symptoms of deeper discontent across the globe.

[Apr 19, 2019] The USSR was a kind of garantor of sanity of the USA elite, supressing built-in suisidal tendences. With it gove they went off the rail

For Western world, especially people of the USA, the collapse of the USSR was really geopolitical catastrophe, as Putin once put it. It unleaseshed cannibalistic instincts of neoliberal elite.
Apr 19, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Drew Hunkins , April 18, 2019 at 12:39

" "Can you imagine what the world would be like today if there was still a Soviet Union?" remarked Zbigniew Bzezinski "

Yeah, I can.

There never would have been a war on Iraq in 1991 nor an obliteration of Iraq in 2003, which has lasted until the present day. The destruction of Yugoslavia never would have taken place and the wars and proxy wars on Syria and Libya would have only existed in the twisted and depraved imaginations of the Zionist and militarist psychos in our midst.

TINA never would have been an imperative and the working people of the Western world (primarily the U.S.) wouldn't be in a race to the bottom as it comes to wages, healthcare insurance, poverty levels, infant mortality, life-expectancy, union power in the workplace, secure retirements, and outlandish housing costs. With the demise of the USSR the millionaire capitalist-investor class really took the gloves off and saw no reason to provide the working masses with certain life-affirming policies, it was time to really sock it to the bottom 90%.

Despite some its faults, the world's people have been paying dearly for the demise of the USSR.

For further reading on what I've outlined above:
"Blood Lies" by Grover Furr
"Blackshirts and Reds" by Michael Parenti
"Fool's Crusade" by Diana Johnstone
"Against Empire" by Michael Parenti
essays and articles by Paul Craig Roberts
essays and articles by Andre Vltchek

Al Pinto , April 18, 2019 at 13:31

In short, without an antidote, the US does what the neocons and Israel decide to do. Welcome to the world of "my way, or the highway" cowboy mentality

Rob Roy , April 18, 2019 at 20:26

Actually, people in the USSR lived lives of constant fear (they call it the “Time of Terror”) that their friends, relatives, neighbors, strangers, even their children, would “tattle” on them and they would wind up in the torture chambers. They lived in stark, nearly unbearable poverty; the only comfort was that they all were in the same godforsaken boat. Communism might be a good idea on paper, but in reality, because of the ignorance of the bureaucratic leadership, it was a dismal failure.

The demise of the USSR would have no effect whatsoever on the hegemonic madness of the US which, under the guiding light of the Monroe Doctrine (established way before the USSR), carries on destroying one country after another. I would ask, “What would the world do without the USA?” Live in a much more peaceful world for sure. As for Omar, I wish her the fortitude to continue telling the truth. Again, Max Blumenthal proves himself one of the world’s best reporters.

OlyaPola , April 19, 2019 at 05:33

“constant fear”

The years of 1928 to 1953 were not constant since there were the years 1954 and subsequent.

Drew Hunkins , April 19, 2019 at 10:22

That’s not true Rob Roy. You’re parroting Western capitalist talking points. A whole host of brand new scholarly literature has hit the shelves in just the last few years proving the USSR was nowhere near as horrible as the Washington imperialist media made it out to be. In fact, under Stalin the Soviet Union made substantial gains in women’s rights, literacy, healthcare and industrial wages. Also, had it not been for Stalin’s agrarian plan there would have been more famines and more severe famines.

And as everyone knows, if Stalin never crash course industrialized the country they never would have defeated Nazi Germany.

Far from the USSR being a police-state it was often seen as a giant trough in which, for example, rent wouldn’t be paid and no one would come around to collect it.

Please see the following books for a truth trip: “Blood Lies” by Grover Furr and “Stalin, Waiting for the Truth” by Grover Furr. Also, Michael Parenti’s “Blackshirts and Reds is excellent.

Dump Pelousy , April 18, 2019 at 20:52

Micheal Perenti is the best. He was the Truth To Power voice before 9/11, before all the yuppie reporters sold their souls for “access” and a talking heads show. I watched it happen in slow motion with great dismay.

mp66 , April 18, 2019 at 22:23

Spot on. The western owner class was forced to share at least one plate with the rest of the population to make the west appear superior in material terms, and with that incentive or threat gone, there is no more need for a plate, few crumbs under the table should be sufficient. But as usual, greed goes along with stupidity, they forgot that doing so for decades undermines the stability of the system. Trump, Brexit, trade wars, abrogations of treaties, blatant disregard for bare basics of international law etc. are just symptoms of deeper discontent across the globe.

[Apr 19, 2019] What shocked me most from the recent story here about Torturer Gina Haspel lying to Trump wasn't that she did it. The woman has no scruples at all, and her misbehavior is hardly a surprise.

Apr 19, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Zachary Smith , Apr 18, 2019 5:09:48 PM | link

Assuming that it is correct, who might be the most likely culprit?

Making that assumption, I want to focus on this part:

The U.S. embassy in Kuwait contacted a contracted private company to send the package to the U.S. on board of an American airline.

Government is evil. Therefore hiring enough vetted US citizens to run an embassy is to be avoided if a Private Company can be paid to do the same job. It's been done in the Military. NASA. National Intelligence has been "privatized". (think Edward Snowden)

What shocked me most from the recent story here about Torturer Gina Haspel lying to Trump wasn't that she did it. The woman has no scruples at all, and her misbehavior is hardly a surprise. The NYT piece was just another story about an ignorant old man who can be easily managed. No, here is the part which jumped out at me.

"Houseflies buzzing around the Oval Office were drawing his attention, and ire.

After reading that I'd be surprised if there is a competent core of White House GOVERNMENT workers remaining there. Nobody to manage the flying vermin. It took the director of the CIA to send over some flypaper!

I doubt if the Trumpies could organize a 1-float parade, so the lax security could be almost anywhere in the chain of events. But my present vote is on a Private Company. It might be the transport company. If they don't have junior staffers in the Embassy to run simple missions like delivering a package, they probably don't have an in-house cleaning staff, either. So they may hire some locals to come in and mop and sweep the joint. Inexpensive Outsiders.

[Apr 17, 2019] What Are We to Make of Gina Haspel by Publius Tacitus

Notable quotes:
"... That fact is a very sad and disturbing commentary on what America is or has become. Tolerating torture and excusing such an activity in the name of national security is the same justification that Stalin and Castro employed to punish dissidents. ..."
"... Let me be clear about my position. If Gina was in fact the Chief of Base and oversaw the application of the waterboarding and other inhuman treatment then she lacks the moral authority to head the CIA. Unfortunately, the United States has a long history of overlooking human rights violations and war crimes. ..."
"... Students of WW II will recall that US military intelligence recruited and protect Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyon, as an asset after the war. He murdered Jews and sent others to Auschwitz. He should have been hung. Instead, we turned a blind eye and gave him a paycheck. ..."
"... I've read that she enjoyed torture and mocked a prisoner who was drooling by accused him of faking it. I never knew anything about her sexual orientation but now I have to consider if she's so cruel because she hates men. ..."
"... Yes, waterboarding is torture. We considered it so egregious that we prosecuted Japanese military officers after WWII for using it on POWs. ..."
"... just reinforces the feeling that those at the upper echelons are completely out of touch or alternatively are just lying/posturing to present themselves in a better light. ..."
"... A torturer is a torturer, no matter how one try to glaze it, or sugar coat it. If one is against torture, or the fancy name for it EIT, one should come out and say it like it is. This lady is accused of torturing captives ( enemy combatant) that can't and will not go away unless she come clean. ..."
Mar 19, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Before Gina became the Chief of Staff for Rodriguez, what role did she play in the waterboarding of two AQ operatives in Thailand? It appears that she was at least witting of what was going on. Did she have the authority to decide what measures to apply to the two? Did she make such decisions?

Those are facts still to be determined. I am inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt. But there are others who I respect that are adamant in opposing her nomination. The only thing I know for sure is that her nomination will be a bloody and divisive political battle. If it comes down to embracing waterboarding as an appropriate method to use on suspected terrorists, then a majority of Americans are supportive of that practice and will cheer the appointment of Haspel.

That fact is a very sad and disturbing commentary on what America is or has become. Tolerating torture and excusing such an activity in the name of national security is the same justification that Stalin and Castro employed to punish dissidents. It is true that one man's terrorist is another woman's freedom fighter.

Let me be clear about my position. If Gina was in fact the Chief of Base and oversaw the application of the waterboarding and other inhuman treatment then she lacks the moral authority to head the CIA. Unfortunately, the United States has a long history of overlooking human rights violations and war crimes.

Students of WW II will recall that US military intelligence recruited and protect Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyon, as an asset after the war. He murdered Jews and sent others to Auschwitz. He should have been hung. Instead, we turned a blind eye and gave him a paycheck.


Cee , 18 March 2018 at 12:55 PM

PT,

I've read that she enjoyed torture and mocked a prisoner who was drooling by accused him of faking it. I never knew anything about her sexual orientation but now I have to consider if she's so cruel because she hates men.

No to her confirmation.

steve , 18 March 2018 at 01:11 PM
IIRC, Haspel was the chief of staff to whom Rodriguez refers. That does not sound like a bit player. Would you say that Kelly is a bit player in the Trump admin? As you say, we should know the facts, but so far it looks like she both participated in torture and in its cover-up.

Steve

tv , 18 March 2018 at 01:11 PM
Is waterboarding "torture?" It does not draw blood nor leave any physical damage. Psychological damage? These ARE admitted terrorists.
BillWade , 18 March 2018 at 01:20 PM
With all the crap going on at the FBI, the last thing we need now is a divisive candidate for any top level government position (torture advocacy is divisive for many of us).

A woman, a lesbian, who cares as long as they are a capable and decent law-abiding individual.

Publius Tacitus -> tv... , 18 March 2018 at 01:23 PM
Yes, waterboarding is torture. We considered it so egregious that we prosecuted Japanese military officers after WWII for using it on POWs.

And where do you get "admitted" terrorists from? In America, even with suspected terrorists, there is the principle of innocent until proven guilty. At least we once believed in that standard.

Apenultimate said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 March 2018 at 01:26 PM
And I very much respect you for your position on this (it is this American's view as well).

What amazes me (and yet doesn't) is the example of Rodriguez's supposed introspection "How bad could this be?" Really?!? That just strikes me as not having any feel for the media, US citizenry, or even common sense, and just reinforces the feeling that those at the upper echelons are completely out of touch or alternatively are just lying/posturing to present themselves in a better light.

Laura , 18 March 2018 at 01:42 PM
PT -- Thank you. Much to consider in these times. I come down on the "no torture and waterboarding is torture" side of the debate but am also just eager for some competence and professional experience in key positions.

That these positions may be mutually exclusive says a great deal about our current situation. Again, thank you, for your opinions and information.

Kooshy , 18 March 2018 at 01:42 PM
A torturer is a torturer, no matter how one try to glaze it, or sugar coat it. If one is against torture, or the fancy name for it EIT, one should come out and say it like it is. This lady is accused of torturing captives ( enemy combatant) that can't and will not go away unless she come clean.

At the end of the day that don't matter, since as a policy, and base on your own statement, this country's government will prosecut and punish for liking of torture but not torture and tortures. And, furthermore, is not even willing to do away with it, per it's elected president. Trying to show a clean, moral, democracy on the hilltop image, is a BS and a joke.

[Apr 17, 2019] Haspel used brazen manipulation of her boss, who happens to be a commander in chief of a nuclear power. It looks like waterboarding Trump with the stream of lies.

Apr 17, 2019 | craigmurray.org.uk

Vinnie Pooh , April 17, 2019 at 14:07

Yeah, my eyes almost popped out of my head as I read it in the news. Direct brazen manipulation of your boss, who happens to be a commander in chief of a nuclear power. And no, I don't hear any howls about treason and conspiracy from across the pond.

John Dowser | Apr 17, 2019 2:16:43 AM | 75

"Haspel showed pictures the British government had supplied".

This would indicate, if true, that the Brits desired to manipulate and used the CIA here mainly as conduit to influence Trump. It would make more sense, historically as well, interpreting causality and motive this way.

[Apr 17, 2019] Gina Haspel the CIA torturer extraordinaire

Notable quotes:
"... The idea that Trump was kidded along in this way with photos of suffering children is similar to that which allegedly persuaded him to bomb Syria (along with the UK and France) after the more recent also alleged Douma chemical weapons attacks. So who actually was telling him porkies and why or is this just another myth to prove Trump's crassness – in which case there is no need to make anything up. ..."
"... Trump doesn't give a toss about suffering children or suffering anyone else, so it's not likely that he was persuaded by the kind of argument that runs from injured children to the need for US diplomatic action. ..."
"... Trump forgets he lies in minutes. He'd not heard about Julian Assange? If I was reporter I would have played him his words from my laptop and ask: Mr President is this you or a fake President? ..."
"... Actually he is a fake President as most US Presidents are. The man's a dunce. I thought after George W Bush US Presidents couldn't get any worse but know history hits us up the backside with a banjo yet again. ..."
Apr 17, 2019 | craigmurray.org.uk

Sharp Ears , April 17, 2019 at 12:06

Gina Haspel the CIA torturer extraordinaire.

Q. Where are the Skripals?

Crispa , April 17, 2019 at 12:07

I took note when I read that on the Guardian website late last night. What struck me was the treatment of the statement as if it could be true, but in more than one way.

The idea that Trump was kidded along in this way with photos of suffering children is similar to that which allegedly persuaded him to bomb Syria (along with the UK and France) after the more recent also alleged Douma chemical weapons attacks. So who actually was telling him porkies and why or is this just another myth to prove Trump's crassness – in which case there is no need to make anything up.

Even if the story is true, the article accepts it as fact and in no way qualifies it, which is just plain misrepresentation as Craig points out.

The reference to the two Russian operatives at that time is certainly a give away one way and another – but nothing in the article to highlight that inconsistency.

Strange timing too for the appearance of the article too. No doubt there will be a response from the Russian Embassy.

N_ , April 17, 2019 at 12:34

Trump brings together stupidity, narcissistic mental illness and obnoxiousness such that when an official has to deal with him their attitude must surely be to tell the moron whatever gets him to do what they want as soon as possible, so they don't have to spend any more time than necessary in a room with him.

He lies all the time – the guy can't stop lying – nobody wants to spend time with a person like that – even his wife can't stand the sight of him – and it doesn't matter what it is that you tell him or show him.

Trump doesn't give a toss about suffering children or suffering anyone else, so it's not likely that he was persuaded by the kind of argument that runs from injured children to the need for US diplomatic action.

The question is who was behind the anti-Russian side of the Skripal story and why. Not much progress will be made without looking at the British defence review and the huge increase in military spending that warfare interests have moved Gavin Williamson's lips to call for.

N_ , April 17, 2019 at 12:23

"(E)xtremely clear CCTV footage of the duck feeding"? So there are fixed cameras watching where the ducks swim in Queen Elizabeth's Park in Salisbury, are there? Because I haven't been able to find even some lamp posts they might be secured to. ( Some images .) Which is not to say the Skripals weren't photographed. And how's the Nikolai Glushkov inquest going?

Ken Kenn , April 17, 2019 at 13:40

Trump forgets he lies in minutes. He'd not heard about Julian Assange? If I was reporter I would have played him his words from my laptop and ask: Mr President is this you or a fake President?

Actually he is a fake President as most US Presidents are. The man's a dunce. I thought after George W Bush US Presidents couldn't get any worse but know history hits us up the backside with a banjo yet again.

Simple really: Show the video of the Skripal actively feeding the ducks – blank the kids faces and we'll be able to see them in all of their pre poisoned glory.

All this has been done before by the MS – The London Bridge attackers – 7/7 and so on.

So why not show the video? Because it shows something(s) which they want to hide. I have my views as to why, as do others but once you start lying you have to develop a good memory and ' British Intelligence ' is a misnomer.

It's quackery.

Phil , April 17, 2019 at 15:01

Rob Slane from the Blogmire interviewed the mother of the children who fed the ducks and she said she was shown "extremely clear CCTV footage".

Nicholas Kollerstrom , April 17, 2019 at 12:26

Let us not for one moment forget: Yulia musty be alive somewhere. I reckon they did in Sergei – serve him right for being a double (or triple) agent – but Yulia must still be around. She TOLD US in her video she was fine and getting better.

Thank god for Craig Murray and the Off-Guardian, they have preserved our sanity over this mad story, this maddest of British Intel cockups.

N_ , April 17, 2019 at 12:37

@Nicholas – I'd advise delaying the conclusion that it was a cockup, except in the sense that in most military and intelligence operations something cocks up – until we hear what happens with British military spending plans.

Gerard Hobley , April 17, 2019 at 12:27

Someone said to me on Twitter that confirmation of Novichock was from a Mass Spec of the nerve agent bound to some enzyme (probably acetyl cholinesterase). Is this really the official line? If so it's rubbish. Whoever made such a claim was clearly no chemist. Acetyl Cholinesterase weighs about 66700 Daltons and the nerve agent weighed, say between 200 and 400 daltons. Firstly a mass spectrum of the protein would be that of the protein plus or minus anything upto about 300 water molecules Which makes the mass (69400 +/- 2700) and a multitude of other possible ions or other factors bound to it. The error in the mass of the protein clearly exceeds the mass of the nerve agent. Given that, because of the blinding uncertainties as to what species are actually hitting the detector in the mass spectrometer, no-one anywhere attempts to study ligands bound to proteins by mass spec and certainly not one of this size, why would they do it in this case?

John2o2o , April 17, 2019 at 19:21

They make it up Gerard.

Unfortunately most people are not chemists and therefore lack the required knowledge to be skeptical about such claims.

Casual Observer , April 17, 2019 at 12:45

Apply the smell test ?

The CIA Director tells outright lies to her boss, who as a result approves a stern national rebuke.

In a cartoon version of life where Dick Dastardly gets to be an intelligence supremo, and a total dummy gets to be President, this would be highly likely. Needless to say, to believe such a scenario would exist in the real world requires a massive suspension of logic.

More likely there's something coming down the track that requires Haspel, and or the CIA, to be discredited prior to its becoming visible to the public ?

Northern , April 17, 2019 at 13:29

What could possibly be coming down the track that isn't comparable to what we already know about Haspel and the CIA though?

If you can straight faced maintain support for an admitted and documented human rights abuser who heads a non accountable government spy agency that has been extra judicially torturing, assassinating and over throwing any who stands in its way for 70 years; what on earth could be about to come out that's suddenly going to convince our bought and paid for media, and by extension the general public, that these monsters have been discredited?

Brendan , April 17, 2019 at 13:04

UK spooks are switching to damage limitation mode, with the help of the Deborah Haynes of Sky and II:

"Update: UK security sources say they're unaware of children hospitalised because of #novichok or wildlife killed in #Skripal attack. May have been a photo of a dead swan though not evidence swan was killed by #Novichok. If that's true, I wonder what these images used by CIA were! "

https://twitter.com/haynesdeborah/status/1118409471754153984

John2o2o , April 17, 2019 at 19:22

lies?

Goose , April 17, 2019 at 13:12

I'm not a conspiracy theorist –
I'm a conspiracy analyst.

Gore Vidal

[Apr 17, 2019] Gina Haspel As If Nuremberg Never Happened

Notable quotes:
"... I was not in the least surprised at reports that a known torturer was slated to head the CIA, and I expected quick confirmation. Such is my opinion of our ruling classes. ..."
"... Whatever Haspel may be, we can be sure the CIA will continue to torture, detain people without charge, assassinate and terrorize with its own drone force, and cause mayhem around the world and at home. No one can be trusted with the Ring of Power. ..."
"... American Exceptionalism is perhaps the most toxic ideology since Nazism and Stalinism. It says that the United States is always virtuous even when it tortures, when it bombs towns, villages, cities in the name of "freedom or installs dictators, military governments, trains torturers, and, yes, rapes and loots in the name of "democracy." ..."
"... Fast forward to January, 2017 and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer telling MSNBC's Rachael Maddow that President-elect Donald Trump is "being really dumb" by criticizing the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia's cyber activities: Shumer: "Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you, So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he's being really dumb to do this." No, Shumer wasn't joking. He was serious. ..."
"... There won't be a 'Nuremberg' tribunal because Al Qaida didn't defeat the United States, and you'd have to convict not just Ms. Haspel, but a sizeable portion of the U.S. Government. ..."
"... If nothing else, the appointment of Bloody Gina as CIA head finally drives a wooden stake through the heart of the myth that "we're The Good Guys(tm)!" or its cousin "all we gotta do is elect Team D and we can be The Good Guys(R) again!" ..."
"... I do not know whether to admire Mr. van Buren's idealism or be astonished at his naivete. Has he never heard of the School of the Americas, of sinister reputation, or the Condor Plan, aided and abetted by U.S. intelligence? People in Latin America know better than to believe the U.S. protestations of virtue. They know about torturers, and the U.S. support for them. ..."
"... She was put in charge there not long after and oversaw the waterboarding of at least one prisoner, and later followed orders to destroy the tapes of waterboarding at that site. Your claim that " She had nothing to do with torture anywhere" is incorrect. ..."
"... furbo: your contention that " US extreme interrogation techniques are not equivalent to forcible sodomy, beating the genitals, pounding the kidneys, or breaking bones" is wrong. The UN Convention against Torture, to which the US is a signatory, states " For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person " Ask anyone who has been waterboarded whether that fits the official definition? ..."
"... Ceterum censeo: given that the Iraq invasion and occupation was an act of aggressive war in violation of the UN Charter and thus illegal under US law, it is not just torturers but also war criminals in government and general staff that have to be considered in the contexts of these words. ..."
Mar 19, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Nothing will say more about who we are, across three American administrations -- one that demanded torture, one that covered it up, and one that seeks to promote its bloody participants -- than whether Gina Haspel becomes director of the CIA.

Haspel oversaw the torture of human beings in Thailand as the chief of a CIA black site in 2002. Since then, she's worked her way up to deputy director at the CIA. With current director Mike Pompeo slated to move to Foggy Bottom, President Donald Trump has proposed Haspel as the Agency's new head.

Haspel's victims waiting for death in Guantanamo cannot speak to us, though they no doubt remember their own screams as they were waterboarded. And we can still hear former CIA officer John Kiriakou say : "We did call her Bloody Gina. Gina was always very quick and very willing to use force. Gina and people like Gina did it, I think, because they enjoyed doing it. They tortured just for the sake of torture, not for the sake of gathering information."

It was Kiriakou who exposed the obsessive debate over the effectiveness of torture as false. The real purpose of torture conducted by those like Gina Haspel was to seek vengeance, humiliation, and power. We're just slapping you now, she would have said in that Thai prison, but we control you, and who knows what will happen next, what we're capable of? The torture victim is left to imagine what form the hurt will take and just how severe it will be, creating his own terror.

Haspel won't be asked at her confirmation hearing to explain how torture works, but those who were waterboarded under her stewardship certainly could.

I met my first torture victim in Korea, where I was adjudicating visas for the State Department. Persons with serious criminal records are ineligible to travel to the United States, with an exception for dissidents who have committed political crimes. The man I spoke with said that under the U.S.-supported military dictatorship of Park Chung Hee he was tortured for writing anti-government verse. He was taken to a small underground cell. Two men arrived and beat him repeatedly on his testicles and sodomized him with one of the tools they had used for the beating. They asked no questions. They barely spoke to him at all.

Though the pain was beyond his ability to describe, he said the subsequent humiliation of being left so utterly helpless was what really affected his life. It destroyed his marriage, sent him to the repeated empty comfort of alcohol, and kept him from ever putting pen to paper again. The men who destroyed him, he told me, did their work, and then departed, as if they had others to visit and needed to get on with things. He was released a few days later and driven back to his apartment by the police. A forward-looking gesture.

The second torture victim I met was while I was stationed in Iraq. The prison that had held him was under the control of shadowy U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces. Inside, masked men bound him at the wrists and ankles and hung him upside-down. He said they neither asked him questions nor demanded information. They did whip his testicles with a leather strap, then beat the bottoms of his feet and the area around his kidneys. They slapped him. They broke the bones in his right foot with a steel rod, a piece of rebar ordinarily used to reinforce concrete.

It was painful, he told me, but he had felt pain before. What destroyed him was the feeling of utter helplessness, the inability to control things around him as he once had. He showed me the caved-in portion of his foot, which still bore a rod-like indentation with faint signs of metal grooves.

Gina Haspel is the same as those who were in the room with the Korean. She is no different than those who tormented the Iraqi.

As head of a black site, Haspel had sole authority to halt the questioning of suspects, but she allowed torture to continue. New information and a redaction of earlier reporting that said Haspel was present for the waterboarding and torture of Abu Zubaydah (she was actually the station chief at the black site after those sessions) makes it less clear whether Haspel oversaw the torture of all of the prisoners there, but pay it little mind. The confusion arises from the government's refusal to tell us what Haspel actually did as a torturer. So many records have yet to be released and those that have been are heavily redacted. Then there are the tapes of Zubaydah's waterboarding, which Haspel later pushed to have destroyed.

Arguing over just how much blood she has in her hands is a distraction from the fact that she indeed has blood on her hands.

Gina Haspel is now eligible for the CIA directorship because Barack Obama did not prosecute anyone for torture; he merely signed an executive order banning it in the future. He did not hold any truth commissions, and ensured that almost all government documents on the torture program remained classified. He did not prosecute the CIA officials who destroyed videotapes of the torture scenes.

Obama ignored the truth that sees former Nazis continue to be hunted some 70 years after the Holocaust: that those who do evil on behalf of a government are individually responsible. "I was only following orders" is not a defense of inhuman acts. The purpose of tracking down the guilty is to punish them, to discourage the next person from doing evil, and to morally immunize a nation-state.

To punish Gina Haspel "more than 15 years later for doing what her country asked her to do, and in response to what she was told were lawful orders, would be a travesty and a disgrace," claims one of her supporters. "Haspel did nothing more and nothing less than what the nation and the agency asked her to do, and she did it well," said Michael Hayden, who headed the CIA during the height of the Iraq war from 2006-2009.

Influential people in Congress agree. Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which will soon review Haspel's nomination, said , "I know Gina personally and she has the right skill set, experience, and judgment to lead one of our nation's most critical agencies."

"She'll have to answer for that period of time, but I think she's a highly qualified person," offered Senator Lindsey Graham. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson defended Haspel's actions, saying they were "the accepted practice of the day" and shouldn't disqualify her.

His fellow Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, signaled her likely acceptance, saying , "Since my concerns were raised over the torture situation, I have met with her extensively, talked with her She has been, I believe, a good deputy director." Senator Susan Collins added that Haspel "certainly has the expertise and experience as a 30-year employee of the agency." John McCain, a victim of torture during the Vietnam War, mumbled only that Haspel would have to explain her role.

Nearly alone at present, Republican Senator Rand Paul says he will oppose Haspel's nomination. Senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, have told Trump she is unsuitable and will likely also vote no.

Following World War II, the United States could have easily executed those Nazis responsible for the Holocaust, or thrown them into some forever jail on an island military base. It would have been hard to find anyone who wouldn't have supported brutally torturing them at a black site. Instead, they were put on public trial at Nuremberg and made to defend their actions as the evidence against them was laid bare. The point was to demonstrate that We were better than Them.

Today we refuse to understand what Haspel's victims, and the Korean writer, and the Iraqi insurgent, already know on our behalf: unless Congress awakens to confront this nightmare and deny Gina Haspel's nomination as director of the CIA, torture will have transformed us and so it will consume us. Gina Haspel is a torturer. We are torturers. It is as if Nuremberg never happened.

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of We Meant Well : How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and Hooper's War : A Novel of WWII Japan. He tweets @WeMeantWell.


Douglas K. March 19, 2018 at 3:19 am

Covering up torture is quite possibly the worst thing Obama did. (I'd put it neck-and-neck with targeted killing.) This nation desperately needs a president who will expose all of these horrors, and appoint an attorney general who will prosecute these acts as war crimes.
I Don't Matter , says: March 19, 2018 at 4:49 am
Trump likes waterboarding. He said so himself. One assumes he meant, being a whimpering coward himself, when someone else does it to someone else. But who knows? Enjoy judge Gorsuch.
Mark Thomason , says: March 19, 2018 at 4:49 am
"doing what her country asked her to do, and in response to what she was told were lawful orders"

To complete the parallel, we would need to prosecute and punish those who asked her to do it, and those who told her those orders were lawful. Instead, some are doing paintings of their toes, some are promoted to be Federal judges, and some are influential professors at "liberal" law schools. Why punish *only* her?

Peter Hopkins , says: March 19, 2018 at 6:52 am
Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it.
Ian , says: March 19, 2018 at 7:10 am
As we've proved, we're not better than them. Any of them.
Bagby , says: March 19, 2018 at 8:00 am
I was not in the least surprised at reports that a known torturer was slated to head the CIA, and I expected quick confirmation. Such is my opinion of our ruling classes. I am in full support of Mr. Van Buren's thesis. However, Pro Publica, which seems to have been the source of much reporting of Haspel's torture record, has retracted the claim that Haspel had tortured in Thailand. Mr. Van Buren quotes another source from his blog that supports the thesis that Haspel is a torturer. How does one know what to believe? Whatever Haspel may be, we can be sure the CIA will continue to torture, detain people without charge, assassinate and terrorize with its own drone force, and cause mayhem around the world and at home. No one can be trusted with the Ring of Power.
Centralist , says: March 19, 2018 at 8:19 am
Its because we lost our sense of what makes us who we are. We are an empire that dances for private interests. In Rome they were called families and led by patricians, they had money private guards, gladiators, and even street people supporting them. In the Modern USA they are called Interest Groups and/or Corporations. They are lead by CEOs and instead of gladiators they have Lawyers. Our being better matters less then their own squabbles which is why a torturer could reach the highest seat in intel. The majority of Americans have lost their sense of being Americans instead they are Republicans, Democrats, etc, etc. Things that once use to be part of an American have come to define us.
Banger , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:09 am
American Exceptionalism is perhaps the most toxic ideology since Nazism and Stalinism. It says that the United States is always virtuous even when it tortures, when it bombs towns, villages, cities in the name of "freedom or installs dictators, military governments, trains torturers, and, yes, rapes and loots in the name of "democracy."

At least this appointment along with the election of Trump shows the true face of the United States in international affairs. When we face the fact we are (a) an oligarchy and (b) a brutal Empire we might have a chance to return to something more human. Few readers, even of TAC, will want to look at our recent history of stunning brutality and lack of interest in even being in the neighborhood of following international law.

Peter Van Buren , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:31 am
CIA has purposefully refused to disclose Haspel's role for a decade+ They have selectively released information last week to discredit those criticizing her. I don't think we should play their game, letting them set the agenda. Instead, I declaim torture itself and any role she played in it, whether she poured the water or kept the books.
Kurt Gayle , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:34 am
Does Peter Van Buren's criticism of the CIA's Haspel put him at risk?

In the 2003 film "Love Actually" the British Prime Minister (played by Hugh Grant) jokes with a Downing Street employee Natalie (Martine McCutcheon):

"PM: You live with your husband? Boyfriend, three illegitimate but charming children? –
"NATALIE: No, I've just split up with my boyfriend, so I'm back with my mum and dad for a while.
"PM: Oh. I'm sorry.
"NATALIE: No, it's fine. I'm well shot of him. He said I was getting fat.
"PM: I beg your pardon?
"NATALIE: He said no one's going to fancy a girl with thighs the size of big tree trunks. Not a nice guy, actually, in the end.
"PM: Right You know, being Prime Minister, I could just have him murdered.
"NATALIE: Thank you, sir. I'll think about it.
"PM: Do – the SAS are absolutely charming – ruthless, trained killers are just a phone call away."

It's just a film. It's just a joke. But the joke works because the public knows that – in reality – the security services have the skills-sets and the abilities, to do damage anyone they want to do damage to -- and to probably get away with it.

Fast forward to January, 2017 and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer telling MSNBC's Rachael Maddow that President-elect Donald Trump is "being really dumb" by criticizing the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia's cyber activities: Shumer: "Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you, So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he's being really dumb to do this." No, Shumer wasn't joking. He was serious.

Fast forward again to yesterday, March 17, 2018: Former CIA Director John Brennan wasn't joking when he reacted to the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe -- and President Donald Trump's tweeted celebration of it -- by tweeting this attack against Trump:

"When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America America will triumph over you."

Obama UN Representative Samantha Power followed up on the Brennan tweet with this:

"Not a good idea to piss off John Brennan."

When public officials and former public officials -- like Shumer, Brennan and Power -- make such public statements it must necessarily have a chilling effect on public criticism of the security services.

After all, none of the three are joking. They're serious. And the American people know that they're serious.

Does Peter Van Buren's criticism of CIA operative Haspel put him at risk?

Peter Van Buren , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:35 am
New information makes it less clear whether Haspel oversaw the torture of all of the prisoners at her black site, but pay it little mind. The confusion is because the government refuses to tell us what Haspel actually did as a torturer. Arguing over just how much blood she has on her hands is a distraction when she indeed has blood on her hands.

The idea is her participation on any level at the black site is sufficient to disqualify her from heading the Agency. If the Agency wishes to clarify her role, as was done via trial for the various Nazis at Nuremberg, we can deal with her actions more granularly.

Wilfred , says: March 19, 2018 at 10:25 am
Since we have not had any more successful attacks on the scale of 9-11, it is very easy to be scrupulous regarding rough treatment of terrorists.

But if we had suffered a dozen or more such attacks, of increasing magnitude and maybe involving nuclear weapons, how many of you would still be condemning Mrs Haspel et al.? Or would you then be complaining they had not used water-boarding enough?

The 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, was caught weeks before 9-11. Investigators figured out he was up to no good, tried to get permission to search his computer, but were denied. The U.S. Government carefully protected his privacy rights. So are you pleased with the outcome, Mr van Buren?

furbo , says: March 19, 2018 at 10:45 am
I'm sorry – this whole piece is a massive non sequitur. Ms. Haspel has no 'blood' on her hands as US extreme interrogation techniques (sleep deprivation, uncomfortable positions, waterboarding) didn't draw any. They are not equivalent to forcible sodomy, beating the genitals, pounding the kidneys, or breaking bones. US techniques might have been bad policy – won't argue – but lets not fall for a false equivalency.

Ms. Haspel was an agent of her government, acting on it's orders under it's policies and guidelines. Which leads to

Nuremberg. The Nuremberg tribunals (they were military tribunals – not trials) were conducted by a victorious military force against a defeated military force. They were widely criticized as vengeance even by such august people as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Stone and associate Justice Douglas. There won't be a 'Nuremberg' tribunal because Al Qaida didn't defeat the United States, and you'd have to convict not just Ms. Haspel, but a sizeable portion of the U.S. Government.

And lastly there's this from a comment of the authors: "The idea is her participation on any level at the black site is sufficient to disqualify her from heading the Agency." Utter nonsense. That was the mission of the Agency at that time. It's like saying a 33yr old Drone Pilot who takes out an ISIS/Al Qaida operative as well as 15 civilians is disqualified to be the Sec Def 2 decades later.

Just stop.

Sid Finster , says: March 19, 2018 at 10:59 am

If nothing else, the appointment of Bloody Gina as CIA head finally drives a wooden stake through the heart of the myth that "we're The Good Guys(tm)!" or its cousin "all we gotta do is elect Team D and we can be The Good Guys(R) again!"

We demonize Russia at every opportunity, but I don't see Russia rewarding torturers by appointing them to high office.

Sally Stewart , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:11 am
Douglas K. What are you talking about? Covered up? You mean Bush http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/promise/175/end-the-use-of-torture/
Stephen J. , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:12 am
A lot of info below on the War criminals at large.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- –
May 26, 2015 Do We Need Present Day Nuremberg Trials? http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2015/05/do-we-need-present-day-nuremberg-trials.html

And

March 9, 2018 Are We Seeing Government By Gangsters? http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2018/03/are-we-seeing-government-by-gangsters.html

connecticut farmer , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:49 am
I didn't know too much about this woman's background until I read that Rand Paul opposes her nomination. I tend to take notice whenever Rand Paul holds forth on any subject. All I can say is that if her actual record even approximates what has been alleged, then this woman is unfit for the post–Nuremberg or no Nuremberg.
Winston , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:54 am
"As we've proved, we're not better than them. Any of them." Oh, -PLEASE-, spare us the hyperbole! WE burn alive captives held in cages? WE saw off their heads?

Thousands of US Navy and Air Force pilots have been waterboarded as part of their Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (S.E.R.E.) training programs.

Lex Talionis , says: March 19, 2018 at 12:00 pm
All of the torturers should be brought to justice. So should all of the officials who ordered or authorized torture.

There is no statute of limitations on capital Federal crimes. For a U.S. citizen to kill via torture is a capital Federal crime, no matter where the torture took place. If statutes of limitations make it too late to prosecute some acts of torture, it is not too late to bring about some measure of justice by making torturers pariahs. As many sexual harassers have recently learned, there is no statute of limitations in the court of public opinion.

bob sykes , says: March 19, 2018 at 12:16 pm
The story linking her to torture has been formally retracted. She had nothing to do with torture anywhere. How about a retraction of this story and an apology.
Youknowho , says: March 19, 2018 at 12:30 pm
I do not know whether to admire Mr. van Buren's idealism or be astonished at his naivete. Has he never heard of the School of the Americas, of sinister reputation, or the Condor Plan, aided and abetted by U.S. intelligence? People in Latin America know better than to believe the U.S. protestations of virtue. They know about torturers, and the U.S. support for them.

Personally, I prefer that the cruelty should be, as Lincoln once put it, "unalloyed by the base metal of hypocrisy"

Tyrone Slothrop , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:07 pm
bob sykes: you should read Pro Publica's retraction ( https://www.propublica.org/article/cia-cables-detail-its-new-deputy-directors-role-in-torture ) of the claim that Haspel was in charge of the Thai black site when Abu Zubaydeh was tortured. She was put in charge there not long after and oversaw the waterboarding of at least one prisoner, and later followed orders to destroy the tapes of waterboarding at that site. Your claim that " She had nothing to do with torture anywhere" is incorrect.

Winston: why do you suppose "thousands of US Navy and Air Force pilots have been waterboarded as part of their Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (S.E.R.E.) training programs"? Is it not to prepare them for the possibility of what we call torture when used by our adversaries?

furbo: your contention that " US extreme interrogation techniques are not equivalent to forcible sodomy, beating the genitals, pounding the kidneys, or breaking bones" is wrong. The UN Convention against Torture, to which the US is a signatory, states " For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person " Ask anyone who has been waterboarded whether that fits the official definition?

Near Rockaway , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:31 pm
"Has he never heard of the School of the Americas, of sinister reputation, or the Condor Plan, aided and abetted by U.S. intelligence?"

Evil stuff. And we're still paying for it. Keeping Haspel out of the Director's chair is a basic step toward avoiding more such needless, stupid evil.

Chris Mallory , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:47 pm
Wilfred, the problem was not that the Feds protected Zacarias Moussaoui's right to privacy. The problem is that it let any of the 20 Arab Muslims into the US in the first place. Closing our borders and mass deportations would have been the best thing to do in the aftermath of 9/11, not torture and invasions.
b. , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:58 pm
Very well put. Lest we forget: Bush also delivered the stern warning that "war crimes will be prosecuted, war criminals will be punished, and it will be no defense to say, 'I was just following orders'."

Ceterum censeo: given that the Iraq invasion and occupation was an act of aggressive war in violation of the UN Charter and thus illegal under US law, it is not just torturers but also war criminals in government and general staff that have to be considered in the contexts of these words.

Wilfred , says: March 19, 2018 at 4:28 pm
Chris Mallory (Mar 19 @1:47 p.m.), I agree with you. We shouldn't be letting them in.

But if someone had sneaked-a-peek at Moussaoui's laptop during the 3 weeks they had him before 9-11, we might have been able to thwart the attack altogether. (And the Press has been strangely incurious about investigating whoever it was who issued the injunction protecting Moussie's precious computer). This type of hand-wringing cost us 3,000 lives. Even more, considering the Afghan & 2nd Iraq wars would never have been launched, were it not for 9-11.

[Apr 17, 2019] Haspel is not the "underling". Trump is the underling. Sure, being that he is also an oligarch makes Trump's role in the show complicated, but Presidents are installed in order to serve the oligarchy, and the CIA are top level strategists/enforcers for the oligarchy.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Haspel is not the "underling" . Trump is the underling. Sure, being that he is also an oligarch makes Trump's role in the show complicated, but Presidents are installed in order to serve the oligarchy, and the CIA are top level strategists/enforcers for the oligarchy. ..."
"... In the real organization chart for the empire the CIA is above the President. This has been the case in the US since Kennedy. ..."
"... Trump will not fire Haspel. He can't. He's just an actor playing a role in a show, and Haspel is one of the producers/writers of that show. If she doesn't put firing in the script then Trump cannot say those lines. I doubt he really wants to anyway. ..."
Apr 17, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

William Gruff , Apr 16, 2019 4:41:41 PM | link

"If Trump were not in on the schemes he would just fire his underlings!"

This sentiment indicates a failure to understand the power dynamics at play here. Haspel is not the "underling" . Trump is the underling. Sure, being that he is also an oligarch makes Trump's role in the show complicated, but Presidents are installed in order to serve the oligarchy, and the CIA are top level strategists/enforcers for the oligarchy.

In the real organization chart for the empire the CIA is above the President. This has been the case in the US since Kennedy.

Trump cannot fire Haspel or Pompeo. They can fire him, though, and with a sniper's bullet if they want.

Unfortunately for the oligarchy, that would cause additional complications at a time when they have lots of tricky and inexplicably unstable (for them) operations ongoing, which is why they are just steering Trump around instead of replacing him. And Trump is willfully cooperating, even if they are not filling him in on the plans.

Trump will not fire Haspel. He can't. He's just an actor playing a role in a show, and Haspel is one of the producers/writers of that show. If she doesn't put firing in the script then Trump cannot say those lines. I doubt he really wants to anyway.

[Apr 16, 2019] Is the NYT promoting Gina Haspel as someone who deserves a more influential position than the nation's top torturer?

Notable quotes:
"... What's the real agenda though behind that article? It's to put Gina Haspel in a favourable light at the same time as it's criticising Trump. Is the NYT promoting Gina Haspel as someone who deserves a more influential position than the nation's top torturer? She wouldn't be the first such criminal being subtly encouraged to try for DJT's job in the future. ..."
"... I see it as a complex exercise in CYA. They need to reinforce certain narratives. ..."
"... As of almost 8 PM, there are 35 comments. In a national newspaper on a story like this? There must be a committee cherry picking them for "suitability" - the collection is as fake as the article. Wonderful Haspel at the head of an amazing CIA tutoring a clueless moron of a POTUS. The third part they got right. ..."
"... Why are they fluffing the torturer and the out-of-control CIA? Is something planned where they want both to shine in their future stories on that "something"? ..."
Apr 16, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jen , Apr 16, 2019 7:32:35 PM | link

The New York Times article seems whiffy to me. (Is anything from the NYT not whiffy?) The article is the work of no fewer than five writers and the part about Donald Trump being swayed by pictures of sick children in hospital and dead ducks seems a bit like a game of Chinese whispers.

What's the real agenda though behind that article? It's to put Gina Haspel in a favourable light at the same time as it's criticising Trump. Is the NYT promoting Gina Haspel as someone who deserves a more influential position than the nation's top torturer? She wouldn't be the first such criminal being subtly encouraged to try for DJT's job in the future.

Jen , Apr 16, 2019 7:39:15 PM | link

ADKC @ 56 (and Koen @ 50):

Better not play too many of those "Call of Duty" video games either. You might find that being a pretend mercenary shooting up innocent people in foreign lands is not just for the purpose of wasting a half of day on mindless entertainment.

Jackrabbit , Apr 16, 2019 7:59:38 PM | link
Jen @59

I see it as a complex exercise in CYA. They need to reinforce certain narratives.

>> The media was right about Trump: he has a soft spot for Russia.

>> Trump cares about people (and even ducks) - remember how he bombed Syria because of the babies? Now Trump is super concerned about the people of Venezuela. What a humanitarian!

>> Russia has no reason to oppose USA (in Venezuela or elsewhere) - they could just contact their friend Trump! To do otherwise demonstrates malicious intent.

Zachary Smith , Apr 16, 2019 8:00:12 PM | link
@ Bart Hansen #1

As of almost 8 PM, there are 35 comments. In a national newspaper on a story like this? There must be a committee cherry picking them for "suitability" - the collection is as fake as the article. Wonderful Haspel at the head of an amazing CIA tutoring a clueless moron of a POTUS. The third part they got right.

Why are they fluffing the torturer and the out-of-control CIA? Is something planned where they want both to shine in their future stories on that "something"?

[Apr 14, 2019] The FBI/CIA gang is also very stupid. From Halper-the-spy and his incompetent handler Brennan to the obnoxious Zionists of Ledeen kind they, the members of the "gang", show incompetence and the self-endangering and stupid amorality.

Apr 14, 2019 | www.unz.com

annamaria , says: April 13, 2019 at 1:19 pm GMT

@Carlton Meyer 'This gang is so powerful "

-- The gang is also very stupid. From Halper-the-spy and his incompetent handler Brennan to the obnoxious zionists of Ledeen kind they, the members of the "gang", show incompetence and the self-endangering and stupid amorality.

By destroying whatever decent has been in the western civilization so far, and by spreading the rot around, the gangsters have been destroying their children's & grandchildren's future.

[Apr 12, 2019] John Bolton Took Money From Clinton Foundation Donor, Banks Tied To Cartels, Terrorists, Iran by William Craddick

Notable quotes:
"... On June 12, 2018 The Washington Post ran an overlooked story where they disclosed that National Security Advisor John Bolton had accepted money from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Deutsche Bank and HSBC to return for his participation in speeches and panel discussions ..."
"... John Bolton accepted $115,000 from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation to speak at multiple events hosted by the Foundation including one in September 2017 where Bolton assured his audience that President Donald Trump would not radically change US foreign policy despite his explicit campaign promises to do so. ..."
"... More broadly, John Bolton's work for the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, HSBC and Deutsche Bank shows that while he preaches hardline foreign policy approaches towards nations such as Iran and North Korea he has no issue tying himself to those who openly flaunt American sanctions and diplomatic attempts to pressure these states. For an individual who is the President's National Security Advisor to have taken money from banks who provide financial services to terror groups who have murdered thousands of Americans is totally unacceptable. ..."
Apr 10, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Via Disobedient Media

On June 12, 2018 The Washington Post ran an overlooked story where they disclosed that National Security Advisor John Bolton had accepted money from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Deutsche Bank and HSBC to return for his participation in speeches and panel discussions. These three entities have been linked to various kinds of corruption including sanctions evasion for Iran, money laundering on behalf of drug cartels, provision of banking services to backers of Islamic terror organizations and controversial donations to the Clinton Foundation.

The financial ties between Bolton and these institutions highlight serious ethical concerns about his suitability for the position of National Security Advisor.

I. Victor Pinchuk Foundation

John Bolton accepted $115,000 from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation to speak at multiple events hosted by the Foundation including one in September 2017 where Bolton assured his audience that President Donald Trump would not radically change US foreign policy despite his explicit campaign promises to do so.

The Victor Pinchuk Foundation was blasted in 2016 over their donation of $10 to $25 million to the Clinton Foundation between 1994 and 2005. The donations lead to accusations of influence peddling after it emerged that Victor Pinchuk had been invited to Hillary Clinton's home during the final year of her tenure as Secretary of State.

Even more damning was Victor Pinchuk's participation in activities that constituted evasions of sanctions levied against Iran by the American government. A 2015 exposé by Newsweek highlighted the fact that Pinchuk owned Interpipe Group, a Cyprus-incorporated manufacturer of seamless pipes used in oil and gas sectors. A now-removed statement on Interpipe's website showed that they were doing business in Iran despite US sanctions aimed to prevent this kind of activity.

Why John Bolton, a notorious war hawk who has called for a hardline approach to Iran, would take money from an entity who was evading sanctions against the country is not clear. It does however, raise serious questions about whether or not Bolton should be employed by Donald Trump, who made attacks on the Clinton Foundation's questionable donations a cornerstone of his 2016 campaign.

II. HSBC Group

British bank HSBC paid Bolton $46,500 in June and August 2017 to speak at two gatherings of hedge fund managers and investors.

HSBC is notorious for its extensive ties to criminal and terror organizations for whom it has provided illegal financial services. Clients that HSBC have laundered money for include Colombian drug traffickers and Mexican cartels who have terrorized the country and recently raised murder rates to the highest levels in Mexico's history . They have also offered banking services to Chinese individuals who sourced chemicals and other materials used by cartels to produce methamphetamine and heroin that is then sold in the United States. China's Triads have helped open financial markets in Asia to cartels seeking to launder their profits derived from the drug trade.

In 2012, HSBC was blasted by the US Senate for for allowing money from Russian and Latin American criminal networks as well as Middle Eastern terror groups to enter the US. The banking group ultimately agreed to pay a $1.9 billion fine for this misconduct as well as their involvement in processing sanctions-prohibited transactions on behalf of Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma.

Some of the terror groups assisted by HSBC include the notorious Al Qaeda. During the 2012 scrutiny of HSBC, outlets such as Le Monde , Business Insider and the New York Times revealed that HSBC had maintained ties to Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank. Al Rajhi Bank was one of Osama Bin Ladin's "Golden Chain" of Al Qaeda's most important financiers. Even though HSBC's own internal compliance offices asked for the bank to terminate their relationship with Al Rajhi Bank, it continued until 2010.

More recently in 2018, reports have claimed that HSBC was used for illicit transactions between Iran and Chinese technology conglomerate Huawei. The US is currently seeking to extradite Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou after bringing charges against Huawei related to sanctions evasion and theft of intellectual property. The company has been described as a "backdoor" for elements of the Chinese government by certain US authorities.

Bolton's decision to accept money from HSBC given their well-known reputation is deeply hypocritical. HSBC's connection to terror organizations such as Al Qaeda in particular is damning for Bolton due to the fact that he formerly served as the chairman of the Gatestone Institute , a New York-based advocacy group that purports to oppose terrorism. These financial ties are absolutely improper for an individual acting as National Security Advisor.

III. Deutsche Bank

John Bolton accepted $72,000 from German Deutsche Bank to speak at an event in May 2017.

Deutsche Bank has for decades engaged in questionable behavior. During World War II, they provided financial services to the Nazi Gestapo and financed construction of the infamous Auschwitz as well as an adjacent plant for chemical company IG Farben.

Like HSBC, Deutsche Bank has provided illicit services to international criminal organizations. In 2014 court filings showed that Deutsche Bank, Citi and Bank of America had all acted as channels for drug money sent to Colombian security currency brokerages suspected of acting on behalf of traffickers. In 2017, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay a $630 million fine after working with a Danish bank in Estonia to launder over $10 billion through London and Moscow on behalf of Russian entities. The UK's financial regulatory watchdog has said that Deutsche Bank is failing to prevent its accounts from being used to launder money, circumvent sanctions and finance terrorism. In November 2018, Deutsche Bank's headquarters was raided by German authorities as part of an investigation sparked by 2016 revelations in the "Panama Papers" leak from Panama's Mossack Fonseca.

Two weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks, the Bush administration signed an executive order linking a company owned by German national Mamoun Darkazanli to Al Qaeda. In 1995, Darkazanli co-signed the opening of a Deutsche Bank account for Mamdouh Mahmud Salim. Salim was identified by the CIA as the chief of bin Laden's computer operations and weapons procurement. He was ultimately arrested in Munich, extradited to the United States and charged with participation in the 1998 US embassy bombings.

In 2017, the Office of the New York State Comptroller opened an investigation into accounts that Deutsche Bank was operating on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The PFLP is defined by both the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organization. It is ironic that Bolton, who is a past recipient of the "Guardian of Zion Award" would accept money from an entity who provided services to Palestinian groups that Israel considers to be terror related.

IV. Clinton-esque Financial Ties Unbecoming To Trump Administration

Bolton's engagement in paid speeches, in some cases with well-known donors to the Clinton Foundation, paints the Trump administration in a very bad light. Donald Trump criticized Hillary Clinton during his 2016 Presidential campaign for speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs that were labeled by her detractors as "pay to play" behavior. John Bolton's acceptance of money from similar entities, especially the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, are exactly the same kind of activity and are an embarrassment for a President who claims to be against corruption.

More broadly, John Bolton's work for the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, HSBC and Deutsche Bank shows that while he preaches hardline foreign policy approaches towards nations such as Iran and North Korea he has no issue tying himself to those who openly flaunt American sanctions and diplomatic attempts to pressure these states. For an individual who is the President's National Security Advisor to have taken money from banks who provide financial services to terror groups who have murdered thousands of Americans is totally unacceptable.

It is embarrassing enough that Donald Trump hired Bolton in the first place. The next best remedy is to let him go as soon as possible.

[Apr 10, 2019] Habakkuk on cockroaches and the New York Times

Highly recommended!
Money quote: "The Russian collusion investigation was based solely on the dodgy Steele Dossier that was discredited here from the get-go. This was a product of British Intelligence Community. The intent was to keep and then to get Donald Trump out of the White House. It failed but they did succeed in turning him into a neo-lib-con fellow traveler. There are clear parallels between the end stages of the Soviet Union and the American Empire. My take since the Iraq Invasion is that they are insane. The ruling elite is detached from reality, incompetent and arrogant. Sooner or later someone with their facilities still intact will lead a middle-class revolt against the global plutocracy to restore democracy and reverse the rising inequality. We were lucky that the fall of the Soviet Union did not lead to a nuclear war. The next time a nuclear armed Empire crashes we may not be so fortunate."
Notable quotes:
"... Among interesting dates, it appears that Stefan Halper was already trying to reach out to Lokhova in January-February 2016 – a lot earlier than his approaches to Papadopoulo s and Page. This was done through Professor Christopher Andrew, co-convenor with Halper and the former MI6 had Sir Richard Dearlove of the ‘Cambridge Intelligence Seminar.’ ..."
"... Meanwhile, Lokhova has set up a blog on which she has posted a some interesting relevant material, with perhaps more to come. It is very well worth a look.(See https://www.russiagate.co.uk .) ..."
"... Of particular interest, to my mind, is the full text of her – unpublished – May 2017 interview with the ‘New York Times.’ This points us back to is the fact – of which Lokhova shows no signs of awareness – that the idea that the Western powers and the Russians might have a common interest in fighting jihadist terrorism has been absolute anathema to many key figures on both sides of the Atlantic, with Dearlove certainly among them. ..."
"... ‘AN APOLOGY: Yesterday, I compared @nytimes journalists, who smeared @GenFlynn and accused me of being a Russian spy, to cockroaches. In good conscience, I must apologize to the cockroaches for the distress caused to them for being compared to @nytimes #Russiagate hoaxers. Sorry!’ ..."
"... The centerpiece of this is a proposal submitted to the FCO in August last year by what seems to be essentially the same consortium whose existence as a government contractor has now been made public. The ‘Institute for Statecraft’ has vanished, and one consortium member, ‘Aktis Strategy’, has gone into liquidation. But other key members are the same. ..."
"... A central underlying premise is that if anyone has any doubts as to whether the ‘White Helmets’ are a benevolent humanitarian organisation, or the Russians were responsible for the poisoning of the Skripals or the shooting down of MH17, the only possible explanation is that their minds have been poisoned by disinformation. ..."
"... In fact, what is at issue an ambitious project to co-ordinate and strengthen a very large number of organisations in different countries which are committed to a relentlessly Russophobic line on everything. (The possibility that it might not be very bright to push Russia into the arms of China, the obviously rising power, does not seem to have occurred to these people – perhaps they need less ons from Sir Halford Mackinder, or indeed Niccolò Machiavelli, on ‘statecraft.’) ..."
"... The clear close integration of other cyber people from the ‘Atlantic Council’ into Orwellian ‘information operations’ sponsored by the British Government simply puts these facts into sharp relief. ..."
"... There has to be a strong possible ‘prima facie’ case that anyone in authority prepared to accept the ‘digital forensics’ from ‘CrowdStrike’ is complicit in the conspiracy against the constitution, and/or the conspiracy to cover-up that conspiracy. This certainly goes for Comey, and I think it also goes for Mueller." ..."
"... I'd recommend for reading Alexei Yurchak's "Everything Was Forever, Until It was No More: The Last Soviet Generation." Its about a class of apparatchiks and bureaucrats and hangers on who spoke this arcane, abstract dogmatic language that anyone normal had long since given up trying to understand. It had long ceased to have any relevance or attachment to the lives lived by ordinary, increasingly suffering people, who started talking to each other in practical and direct language. ..."
"... The Russian collusion investigation was based solely on the dodgy Steele Dossier that was discredited here from the get-go. This was a product of British Intelligence Community. The intent was to keep and then to get Donald Trump out of the White House. It failed but they did succeed in turning him into a neo-lib-con fellow traveler. ..."
"... There are clear parallels between the end stages of the Soviet Union and the American Empire. My take since the Iraq Invasion is that they are insane. The ruling elite is detached from reality, incompetent and arrogant. Sooner or later someone with their facilities still intact will lead a middle-class revolt against the global plutocracy to restore democracy and reverse the rising inequality. We were lucky that the fall of the Soviet Union did not lead to a nuclear war. The next time a nuclear armed Empire crashes we may not be so fortunate. ..."
Apr 08, 2019 | www.wsws.org

Habakkuk on cockroaches and the New York Times

"Dan, Thanks for the reference, which I will follow up. Unfortunately, although Bongino has produced a lot of extremely valuable material, a lot of it is buried in the 'postcasts', searching through which is harder than with printed materials. It would greatly help if there were transcripts, but of course those cost money.

I am still trying to fit the exploding mass of information which has been coming out into a coherent timeline. Part of the problem is that there is so much appearing in so many different places. In addition to trying to think through the implications of the information in this post and the subsequent exchanges of comments, I have been trying to make sense of evidence coming out about the British end of the conspiracy.

An important development here has been rather well covered by Chuck Ross, in a recent ‘Daily Caller’ piece headlined ‘Cambridge Academic Reflects On Interactions With 'Spygate’ Figure’ and one on ‘Fox’ by Catherine Herridge and Cyd Upson, entitled ‘Russian academic linked to Flynn denies being spy, says her past contact was “used” to smear him.’ However, the evidence involved has ramifications which they cannot be expected to understand, as yet at least.

(See https://dailycaller.com/201... ; https://www.foxnews.com/pol... .)

At issue is the attempt to use the – apparently casual – encounter between Lieutenant-General Flynn and Svetlana Lokhova at a dinner in Cambridge (U.K.) in February 2016 to smear him by, among other things, portraying her as some kind of ‘Mata Hari’ figure.

Among interesting dates, it appears that Stefan Halper was already trying to reach out to Lokhova in January-February 2016 – a lot earlier than his approaches to Papadopoulo s and Page. This was done through Professor Christopher Andrew, co-convenor with Halper and the former MI6 had Sir Richard Dearlove of the ‘Cambridge Intelligence Seminar.’

This suggests that this was not simply a case Halper acting on his own. It also I think brings us back to the central importance of Flynn’s visit to Moscow in December 2015.

Meanwhile, Lokhova has set up a blog on which she has posted a some interesting relevant material, with perhaps more to come. It is very well worth a look.(See https://www.russiagate.co.uk .)

Of particular interest, to my mind, is the full text of her – unpublished – May 2017 interview with the ‘New York Times.’ This points us back to is the fact – of which Lokhova shows no signs of awareness – that the idea that the Western powers and the Russians might have a common interest in fighting jihadist terrorism has been absolute anathema to many key figures on both sides of the Atlantic, with Dearlove certainly among them.

Some of Lokhova’s comments on ‘twitter’ are extremely entertaining. An example, with which I have much sympathy:

‘AN APOLOGY: Yesterday, I compared @nytimes journalists, who smeared @GenFlynn and accused me of being a Russian spy, to cockroaches. In good conscience, I must apologize to the cockroaches for the distress caused to them for being compared to @nytimes #Russiagate hoaxers. Sorry!’

(See https://twitter.com/RealSLo... .)

Meanwhile, another interesting recent ‘tweet’ comes from Eliot Higgins, of ‘Bellingcat’ fame. He is known to some skeptics as ‘the couch potato’ – perhaps he should be rechristened ‘king cockroach.’ It reads:

‘Looking forward to gettin g things rolling with the Open Information Partnership, with @bellingcat, @MDI_UK, @DFRLab, and @This_Is_Zinc https://www.openinformation...

(See https://twitter.com/EliotHi... )

There is an interesting ‘backstory’ to this. The announcement of an FCO-supported ‘Open Information Partnership of European Non-Governmental Organisations, charities, academics, think-tanks and journalists’, supposedly to counter ‘disinformation’ from Russia, came in a written answer from the Minister of State, Sir Alan Duncan, on 3 April.

(See https://www.theyworkforyou.... )

In turn this followed the latest in a series of releases of material either leaked or hacked from the organisations calling themselves ‘Institute for Statecraft’ and ‘Integrity Initiative’ by the group calling themselves ‘Anonymous’ on 25 March.

(See https://www.cyberguerrilla .... )

The centerpiece of this is a proposal submitted to the FCO in August last year by what seems to be essentially the same consortium whose existence as a government contractor has now been made public. The ‘Institute for Statecraft’ has vanished, and one consortium member, ‘Aktis Strategy’, has gone into liquidation. But other key members are the same.

A central underlying premise is that if anyone has any doubts as to whether the ‘White Helmets’ are a benevolent humanitarian organisation, or the Russians were responsible for the poisoning of the Skripals or the shooting down of MH17, the only possible explanation is that their minds have been poisoned by disinformation.

An interesting paragraph reads as follows:

‘An expanded research component could generate better understanding of the drivers (psychological, sociopolitical, cultural and environmental) of those who are susceptible to disinformation. This will allow us to map vulnerable audiences, and build scenario planning models to test the efficiency of different activities to build resilience of those populations over time.’

They have not yet got to the point of recommending psychiatic treatment for ‘dissidents’, but these are still early days. The ‘Sovietisation’ of Western life proceeds apace.

In fact, what is at issue an ambitious project to co-ordinate and strengthen a very large number of organisations in different countries which are committed to a relentlessly Russophobic line on everything. (The possibility that it might not be very bright to push Russia into the arms of China, the obviously rising power, does not seem to have occurred to these people – perhaps they need less ons from Sir Halford Mackinder, or indeed Niccolò Machiavelli, on ‘statecraft.’)

Study of the proposal hacked/leaked by ‘Anonymous’ bring out both the ‘boondoggle’ element – there is a lot of state funding available for people happy to play these games – and also the strong transatlantic links.

A particularly significant presence, here, is the ‘DFRLab’. This is the ‘Digital Forensic Research Lab’ at the ‘Atlantic Council’, where Eliot Higgins is a ‘nonresident senior fellow.’ The same organisation has a ‘Cyber Statecraft Initiative’ where Dmitri Alperovitch is a ‘nonresident senior fellow.’

It cannot be repeated often enough that it is difficult to see any conceivable excuse for the FBI to fail to secure access to the DNC servers. One would normally moreover expect that, on an issue of this sensitivity, they would have the ‘digital forensics’ done by their own people.

There can be no conceivable excuse for relying on a contractor selected by the organisation which is claiming that there has been a hack, when an alternative possibility is a leak: and the implications of the alternative possibility could be devastating for that organisation.

To rely on a contractor linked to the notoriously Russophobic ‘Atlantic Council’ is even more preposterous.

The clear close integration of other cyber people from the ‘Atlantic Council’ into Orwellian ‘information operations’ sponsored by the British Government simply puts these facts into sharp relief.

There has to be a strong possible ‘prima facie’ case that anyone in authority prepared to accept the ‘digital forensics’ from ‘CrowdStrike’ is complicit in the conspiracy against the constitution, and/or the conspiracy to cover-up that conspiracy. This certainly goes for Comey, and I think it also goes for Mueller."


chris chuba , a day ago

OT but related, just watched a former naval Intelligence officer, now working for the Hoover Institute interviewed on FOX about the Rooshins in Venezuela. Said, the 100 Russians are there to protect Maduro because he cannot trust his own army. Maduro's days are numbered because he is toxically unpopular.

Got me thinking, our Intelligence services are good at psy-ops and keeping our gullible MSM in line but God help us if we ever actually needed real Intelligence about a country. I remember about a month ago how all of these 'Think Tank Guys' were predicting how the only people loyal to Maduro were a few of his crony Generals, that the rank and file military hated him and there were going to be mass defections.

It didn't happen and we are all just supposed to forget that.
[not a socialist, don't have any love for Maduro, I just know that I will never learn anything of about Venezuela from these think tank dudes, we are just getting groomed]

Karl Kolchak -> chris chuba , a day ago
Venezuela isn't about "socialism," or even Maduro--it's about the oil. They have the largest proven reserves in the world, though much of it is non-conventional and would need a ton of investment to exploit. But it's their oil, not ours, and we have no right to meddle in their internal affairs.
Jack -> Karl Kolchak , 15 hours ago
Venezuela is neither about socialism nor oil in my opinion. It is everything to do with the neocons. And Trump buying into their hegemonic dreams. Notice the resurrection of Elliott Abrams of Iran-Contra fame as the man spearheading this in a triumvirate with Bolton & Pompeo. IMO, a perfect foil for Putin & Xi to embroil the US in another regime change quagmire that further weakens the US.
Mad_Max22 , 17 hours ago
"There can be no conceivable excuse for relying on a contractor selected by the organisation which is claiming that there has been a hack, when an alternative possibility is a leak: and the implications of the alternative possibility could be devastating for that organisation.
To rely on a contractor linked to the notoriously Russophobic 'Atlantic Council' is even more preposterous."

True; and true. It is also true that the Clinton e-mail investigation was faux, a limp caricature of what an investigation would look like when it is designed to uncover the truth. Allowing a subject's law firm to review the subject's e-mails from when she was in government for relevancy is beyond preposterous. An investigation conducted in the normal way by apolitical Agents in a field office would not walk away from a trove of evidence empty handed.
The inter-relatedness and overlapping of DoJ, CIA, and FBI personnel assigned to the Clinton e-mail case, the Russophobic nightmare of a 'case' targeting Carter Page, and by extension, the Trump presidential campaign, and yes, the Mueller political op, all reek of political bias and ineptitude followed by more political bias; and then culmination in a scorched earth investigation more characteristic of something the STASI might have undertaken than American justice.
Early morning raids, gag orders, solitary confinements, show indictments that will never see adjudication in a court room - truly unbelievable.

Jack , 15 hours ago
David

In your opinion was this surveillance, criminal & counter-intelligence investigation as well as information operations against Trump centrally orchestrated or was it more reactive & decentralized?

There are so many facets. Fusion GPS & Nellie Ohr with her previous CIA connection. Her husband Bruce at the DOJ stovepiping the dossier to the FBI. Brennan and his EC. Clapper and his intelligence assessment. Halper, Mifsud, Steele along with Hannigan and the MI6 + GCHQ connection. Downer and the Aussies. FISA warrants on Page & Papadopolous. The whole Strzok & Page texting. Comey, Lynch & the Hillary exoneration. McCabe. Then all the Russians. And the media leaks to generate hysteria.

john fletcher , a day ago

I'd recommend for reading Alexei Yurchak's "Everything Was Forever, Until It was No More: The Last Soviet Generation." Its about a class of apparatchiks and bureaucrats and hangers on who spoke this arcane, abstract dogmatic language that anyone normal had long since given up trying to understand. It had long ceased to have any relevance or attachment to the lives lived by ordinary, increasingly suffering people, who started talking to each other in practical and direct language.

And yet the chatterati continued to chatter and invent ludicrously unreal worlds and analyses of the actual world they lived in until... bang... it was no more.

I'd skip the first few chapters which are full of impenetrable marxist jargon.

VietnamVet , 12 hours ago
The Russian collusion investigation was based solely on the dodgy Steele Dossier that was discredited here from the get-go. This was a product of British Intelligence Community. The intent was to keep and then to get Donald Trump out of the White House. It failed but they did succeed in turning him into a neo-lib-con fellow traveler.

There are clear parallels between the end stages of the Soviet Union and the American Empire. My take since the Iraq Invasion is that they are insane. The ruling elite is detached from reality, incompetent and arrogant. Sooner or later someone with their facilities still intact will lead a middle-class revolt against the global plutocracy to restore democracy and reverse the rising inequality. We were lucky that the fall of the Soviet Union did not lead to a nuclear war. The next time a nuclear armed Empire crashes we may not be so fortunate.

[Apr 04, 2019] How Brzezinski s Chessboard degenerated into Brennan s Russophobia by Mike Whitney

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... This entire article fleshes out one central truth – capitalism as practiced by the US Government inevitably involves war by any and all means, seeking total domination of every human being on the planet, foriegn or native to the US Hegemon. It seeks total rule of the rich and powerful over everyone else. ..."
Apr 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

"Russia is an inalienable and organic part of Greater Europe and European civilization. Our citizens think of themselves as European. That's why Russia proposes moving towards the creation of a common economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, a community referred to by Russian experts as 'the Union of Europe' which will strengthen Russia's potential in its economic pivot toward the 'New Asia.'" Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, February 2012

The allegations of 'Russian meddling' only make sense if they're put into a broader geopolitical context. Once we realize that Washington is implementing an aggressive "containment" strategy to militarily encircle Russia and China in order to spread its tentacles across Central Asian, then we begin to understand that Russia is not the perpetrator of the hostilities and propaganda, but the victim. The Russia hacking allegations are part of a larger asymmetrical-information war that has been joined by the entire Washington political establishment. The objective is to methodically weaken an emerging rival while reinforcing US global hegemony.

Try to imagine for a minute, that the hacking claims were not part of a sinister plan by Vladimir Putin "to sow discord and division" in the United States, but were conjured up to create an external threat that would justify an aggressive response from Washington. That's what Russiagate is really all about.

US policymakers and their allies in the military and Intelligence agencies, know that relations with Russia are bound to get increasingly confrontational, mainly because Washington is determined to pursue its ambitious "pivot" to Asia plan. This new regional strategy focuses on "strengthening bilateral security alliances, expanding trade and investment, and forging a broad-based military presence." In short, the US is determined to maintain its global supremacy by establishing military outposts across Eurasia, continuing to tighten the noose around Russia and China, and reinforcing its position as the dominant player in the most populous and prosperous region in the world. The plan was first presented in its skeletal form by the architect of Washington's plan to rule the world, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Here's how Jimmy Carter's former national security advisor summed it up in his 1997 magnum opus, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives:

"For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia (p.30) .. Eurasia is the globe's largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world's three most advanced and economically productive regions. . About 75 per cent of the world's people live in Eurasia, and most of the world's physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for 60 per cent of the world's GNP and about three-fourths of the world's known energy resources." ("The Grand Chessboard:American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives", Zbigniew Brzezinski, Basic Books, page 31, 1997)

14 years after those words were written, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took up the banner of imperial expansion and demanded a dramatic shift in US foreign policy that would focus primarily on increasing America's military footprint in Asia. It was Clinton who first coined the term "pivot" in a speech she delivered in 2010 titled "America's Pacific Century". Here's an excerpt from the speech:

"As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment -- diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise -- in the Asia-Pacific region

Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology ..American firms (need) to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade. As we strive to meet President Obama's goal of doubling exports by 2015, we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia and our investment opportunities in Asia's dynamic markets."

("America's Pacific Century", Secretary of State Hillary Clinton", Foreign Policy Magazine, 2011)

The pivot strategy is not some trifling rehash of the 19th century "Great Game" promoted by think-tank fantasists and conspiracy theorists. It is Washington's premier foreign policy doctrine, a 'rebalancing' theory that focuses on increasing US military and diplomatic presence across the Asian landmass. Naturally, NATO's ominous troop movements on Russia's western flank and Washington's provocative naval operations in the South China Sea have sent up red flags in Moscow and Beijing. Former Chinese President Hu Jintao summed it up like this:

"The United States has strengthened its military deployments in the Asia-Pacific region, strengthened the US-Japan military alliance, strengthened strategic cooperation with India, improved relations with Vietnam, inveigled Pakistan, established a pro-American government in Afghanistan, increased arms sales to Taiwan, and so on. They have extended outposts and placed pressure points on us from the east, south, and west."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been equally critical of Washington's erratic behavior. NATO's eastward expansion has convinced Putin that the US will continue to be a disruptive force on the continent for the foreseeable future. Both leaders worry that Washington's relentless provocations will lead to an unexpected clash that will end in war.

Even so, the political class has fully embraced the pivot strategy as a last-gasp attempt to roll back the clock to the post war era when the world's industrial centers were in ruins and America was the only game in town. Now the center of gravity has shifted from west to east, leaving Washington with just two options: Allow the emerging giants in Asia to connect their high-speed rail and gas pipelines to Europe creating the world's biggest free trade zone, or try to overturn the applecart by bullying allies and threatening rivals, by implementing sanctions that slow growth and send currencies plunging, and by arming jihadist proxies to fuel ethnic hatred and foment political unrest. Clearly, the choice has already been made. Uncle Sam has decided to fight til the bitter end.

Washington has many ways of dealing with its enemies, but none of these strategies have dampened the growth of its competitors in the east. China is poised to overtake the US as the world's biggest economy sometime in the next 2 decades while Russia's intervention in Syria has rolled back Washington's plan to topple Bashar al Assad and consolidate its grip on the resource-rich Middle East. That plan has now collapsed forcing US policymakers to scrap the War on Terror altogether and switch to a "great power competition" which acknowledges that the US can no longer unilaterally impose its will wherever it goes. Challenges to America's dominance are emerging everywhere particularly in the region where the US hopes to reign supreme, Asia.

This is why the entire national security state now stands foursquare behind the improbable pivot plan. It's a desperate "Hail Mary" attempt to preserve the decaying unipolar world order.

What does that mean in practical terms?

It means that the White House (the National Security Strategy) the Pentagon (National Defense Strategy) and the Intelligence Community (The Worldwide Threat Assessment) have all drawn up their own respective analyses of the biggest threats the US currently faces. Naturally, Russia is at the very top of those lists. Russia has derailed Washington's proxy war in Syria, frustrated US attempts to establish itself across Central Asia, and strengthened ties with the EU hoping to "create a harmonious community of economies from Lisbon to Vladivostok." (Putin)

Keep in mind, the US does not feel threatened by the possibility of a Russian attack, but by Russia's ability to thwart Washington's grandiose imperial ambitions in Asia.

As we noted, the National Security Strategy (NSS) is a statutorily mandated document produced by the White House that explains how the President intends to implement his national security vision. Not surprisingly, the document's main focus is Russia and China. Here's an excerpt:

"China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity. They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence." (Neither Russia nor China are attempting to erode American security and prosperity." They are merely growing their economies and expanding their markets. If US corporations reinvested their capital into factories, employee training and R and D instead of stock buybacks and executive compensation, then they would be better able to complete globally.)

Here's more: "Through modernized forms of subversive tactics, Russia interferes in the domestic political affairs of countries around the world." (This is a case of the 'pot calling the kettle black.')

"Today, actors such as Russia are using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies. Adversaries target media, political processes, financial networks, and personal data." (The western media behemoth is the biggest disinformation bullhorn the world has ever seen. RT and Sputnik don't hold a candle to the ginormous MSM 'Wurlitzer' that controls the cable news stations, the newspapers and most of the print media. The Mueller Report proves beyond a doubt that the politically-motivated nonsense one reads in the media is neither reliably sourced nor trustworthy.)

The Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community is even more explicit in its attacks on Russia. Check it out:

"Threats to US national security will expand and diversify in the coming year, driven in part by China and Russia as they respectively compete more intensely with the United States and its traditional allies and partners . We assess that Moscow will continue pursuing a range of objectives to expand its reach, including undermining the US-led liberal international order, dividing Western political and security institutions, demonstrating Russia's ability to shape global issues, and bolstering Putin's domestic legitimacy.

We assess that Moscow has heightened confidence, based on its success in helping restore the Asad regime's territorial control in Syria, ·Russia seeks to boost its military presence and political influence in the Mediterranean and Red Seas mediate conflicts, including engaging in the Middle East Peace Process and Afghanistan reconciliation .

Russia will continue pressing Central Asia's leaders to support Russian-led economic and security initiatives and reduce engagement with Washington. Russia and China are likely to intensify efforts to build influence in Europe at the expense of US interests " ("The Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community", USG )

Notice how the Intelligence Community summary does not suggest that Russia poses an imminent military threat to the US, only that Russia has restored order in Syria, strengthened ties with China, emerged as an "honest broker" among countries in the Middle East, and used the free market system to improve relations with its trading partners and grow its economy. The IC appears to find fault with Russia because it is using the system the US created to better advantage than the US. This is entirely understandable given Putin's determination to draw Europe and Asia closer together through a region-wide economic integration plan. Here's Putin:

"We must consider more extensive cooperation in the energy sphere, up to and including the formation of a common European energy complex. The Nord Stream gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea and the South Stream pipeline under the Black Sea are important steps in that direction. These projects have the support of many governments and involve major European energy companies. Once the pipelines start operating at full capacity, Europe will have a reliable and flexible gas-supply system that does not depend on the political whims of any nation. This will strengthen the continent's energy security not only in form but in substance. This is particularly relevant in the light of the decision of some European states to reduce or renounce nuclear energy."

The gas pipelines and high-speed rail are the arteries that will bind the continents together and strengthen the new EU-Asia superstate. This is Washington's greatest nightmare, a massive, thriving free trade zone beyond its reach and not subject to its rules. In 2012, Hillary Clinton acknowledged this new threat and promised to do everything in her power to destroy it. Check out this excerpt:

"U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described efforts to promote greater economic integration in Eurasia as "a move to re-Sovietize the region." . "We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it," she said at an international conference in Dublin on December 6, 2012, Radio Free Europe."

"Slow down or prevent it"?

Why? Because EU-Asia growth and prosperity will put pressure on US debt markets, US corporate interests, US (ballooning) national debt, and the US Dollar? Is that why Hillary is so committed to sabotaging Putin's economic integration plan?

Indeed, it is. Washington wants to block progress and prosperity in the east in order to extend the lifespan of a doddering and thoroughly-bankrupt state that is presently $22 trillion in the red but continues to write checks on an overdrawn account.

But Russia shouldn't be blamed for Washington's profligate behavior, that's not Putin's fault. Moscow is merely using the free market system more effectively that the US.

Now consider the Pentagon's 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) which reiterates many of the same themes as the other two documents.

"Today, we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy, aware that our competitive military advantage has been eroding. We are facing increased global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order -- creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security."

(Naturally, the "security environment" is going to be more challenging when 'regime change' is the cornerstone of one's foreign policy. Of course, the NDS glosses over that sad fact. Here's more:)

"Russia has violated the borders of nearby nations and pursues veto power over the economic, diplomatic, and security decisions of its neighbors ..(Baloney. Russia has been a force for stability in Syria and Ukraine. If Obama had his way, Syria would have wound up like Iraq, a hellish wastelands occupied by foreign mercenaries. Is that how the Pentagon measures success?) Here's more:

"China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model

"China and Russia are now undermining the international order from within the system .

"China and Russia are the principal priorities for the Department because of the magnitude of the threats they pose to U.S. security." ( National Defense Strategy of the United States of America )

Get the picture? China and Russia, China and Russia, China and Russia. Bad, bad, bad.

Why? Because they are successfully implementing their own development model which is NOT programed to favor US financial institutions and corporations. That's the whole thing in a nutshell. The only reason Russia and China are a threat to the "rules-based system", is because Washington insists on being the only one who makes the rules. That's why foreign leaders are no longer falling in line, because it's not a fair system.

These assessments represent the prevailing opinion of senior-level policymakers across the spectrum. (The White House, the Pentagon and the Intelligence Community) The USG is unanimous in its judgement that a harsher more combative approach is needed to deal with Russia and China. Foreign policy elites want to put the nation on the path to more confrontation, more conflict and more war. At the same time, none of these three documents suggest that Russia has any intention of launching an attack on the United States. The greatest concern is the effect that emerging competitors will have on Washington's provocative plan for military and economic expansion, the threat that Russia and China pose to America's tenuous grip on global power. It is that fear that drives US foreign policy.

And this is broader context into which we must fit the Russia investigation. The reason the Russia hacking furor has been allowed to flourish and spread despite the obvious lack of any supporting evidence, is because the vilifying of Russia segues perfectly with the geopolitical interests of elites in the government. The USG now works collaboratively with the media to influence public attitudes on issues that are important to the powerful foreign policy establishment. The ostensible goal of these psychological operations (PSYOP) is to selectively use information on "audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of organizations, groups, and individuals."

The USG now sees the minds of ordinary Americans as a legitimate target for their influence campaigns. They regard attitudes and perceptions as "the cognitive domain of the


Beckow , says: April 4, 2019 at 1:02 am GMT

The emerging Euro-Asian power block is very heterogeneous. Russia, China, and the smaller affiliated players like Central Asia, Iran, Syria, Turkey don't agree on almost anything. They have different cultures, religions, economies, demographic profiles, even writing systems. The most rational strategy to prevent the Euro-Asian block from consolidating would be to get them to fight each other. Alternatively, find the weakest link and attack it in an area where its reluctant allies don't share its interests.

Exactly the opposite has happened in the last 5-10 years: US has seemingly worked overtime to get China-Russia alliance of the ground. They used to distrust each other, today, after Ukraine, South China See, etc they have become close allies. Same with Iran and Syria: instead of letting them stew in their own internal problems – mostly religious and having a nepotistic elite – US has managed to turn the fight into an external geo-political struggle, literally invited Russia to join in, and ended up losing.

Bush turned Iraq from a fanatically anti-Iran bastion to a reliable ally of Iran and started an un-winnable land war in Afghanistan (incredible!). Obama turned Libya, the richest and most stable African country that threatened no-one and kept African migrants far away, into a chaotic hellhole where slave trade flourishes and millions of Sub-Saharan Africans can use it to move on to Europe.

Then Obama tried to coup-de-etat Erdogan in Turkey, and – even worse – failed miserably. This gang can't shoot straight – whatever they put in their position papers is meaningless drivel because they are too stupid to think. They have no patience to wait for the right time to move, no ability to manage on the ground allies, and an aversion to casualties that makes winning a war impossible. Today Trump threatens Germany over its energy security (pipelines), further antagonises Turkey and Erdogan, watches helplessly as EU becomes the next UN (lame and irrelevant), and bets everything on a few small allies like Saudi Arabia and Izrael that are of almost no use in Euro-Asia.

A guy who says about the Russia-gate collusion fiasco that ' maybe I had bad information ' is no master of the universe. And he run the joint under Obama. Complaining about Russia saying bad stuff about you – or ' information warfare ' – is a pathetic sign of weakness. Maybe the testosterone levels have dropped more than we have been told.

anon [338] Disclaimer , says: April 4, 2019 at 4:07 am GMT
the russophobia is just drama to keep the MIC spending at $700+ billion per year

there is no way to justify that level of spending and pretend they don't have $25 billion one time to actually help solve the real problem for the U.S.

Krollchem , says: April 4, 2019 at 5:38 am GMT
"The USG now sees the minds of ordinary Americans as a legitimate target for their influence campaigns. They regard attitudes and perceptions as "the cognitive domain of the battlespace" which they must exploit in order to build public support for their vastly unpopular wars and interventions. "

Here is a short guide on how to detect subversion of the mind by the media and their handlers by a former military intelligence officer.

JR , says: April 4, 2019 at 6:00 am GMT
If one recognizes that Brzezinski's "The Grand Chessboard, American Primacy & Its Geostrategic Imperatives (1997)" in replacing "Lebensraum" with "control over Eurasia", "Tausendjähriges Reich" with "American Primacy" and providing our 'elite' with an "realist" and "amoral" excuse to act completely and consistently immoral one has to recognize too that this "Grand Chessboard" is an amalgamation of 'Mein Kampf' and 'Il Principe".

Reluctant to use that Hitler comparison one ought to read the Introduction of the "Grand Chessboard" in which Brzezinki himself proudly refers to both Hitler and Stalin sharing his ideas about control over Eurasia as a prerequisite for that "American Primacy".

Recognizing this however one can't escape the conclusion that this "Grand Chessboard" with its consistent 'amoral realist imperatives' is serving up inherently immoral 'imperatives' as inescapable options dressed up in academic language and with absolutely abhorrent arrogance.

Stating that Brennan's Russophobia is somehow a degeneration of Brzezinki's "Grand Chessboard" is completely overlooking how difficult it would be to outdo Brzezinki's own total moral degeneration.

One has to recognize that by now the only bipartisan aspect of US policy can be found in sharing these despicable and immoral 'imperatives' to maintain that "American Primacy" at all cost (of course to the rest of the world).

Jake , says: April 4, 2019 at 12:01 pm GMT
"The allegations of 'Russian meddling' only make sense if they're put into a broader geopolitical context. Once we realize that Washington is implementing an aggressive "containment" strategy to militarily encircle Russia and China in order to spread its tentacles across Central Asian, then we begin to understand that Russia is not the perpetrator of the hostilities and propaganda, but the victim. The Russia hacking allegations are part of a larger asymmetrical-information war that has been joined by the entire Washington political establishment. The objective is to methodically weaken an emerging rival while reinforcing US global hegemony."

TRUE!

I would suggest that the initials 'US' in the final sentence be changed to: Anglo-Zionist Empire.

Jake , says: April 4, 2019 at 12:12 pm GMT
"Now the center of gravity has shifted from west to east, leaving Washington with just two options: Allow the emerging giants in Asia to connect their high-speed rail and gas pipelines to Europe creating the world's biggest free trade zone, or try to overturn the applecart by bullying allies and threatening rivals, by implementing sanctions that slow growth and send currencies plunging, and by arming jihadist proxies to fuel ethnic hatred and foment political unrest. Clearly, the choice has already been made. Uncle Sam has decided to fight til the bitter end."

Just like the Brit Empire – of which the Yank Empire is merely Part 2, the part where it becomes obvious that it is the Anglo-Zionist Empire, which, like a band of screeching Pharisees standing on the walls of Jerusalem hurling curses at the Romans they inform that Jehovah will soon wipe out all Romans to save His Chosen Race, would choose utter destruction for all over any common sense backing down to prevent mass slaughter.

Ilyana_Rozumova , says: April 4, 2019 at 12:43 pm GMT
Nothing harmed US more than Brzezinski's ideology. US did build up far east with their investments, while neglecting their own backyard. US should have build up rather North and South America and make it the envy of the world. Neglecting particularly South America now created Desperate south American people, who have no jobs and no future and these people are now invading US.
Andrei Martyanov , says: Website April 4, 2019 at 12:44 pm GMT
@Beckow

A guy who says about the Russia-gate collusion fiasco that 'maybe I had bad information' is no master of the universe. And he run the joint under Obama. Complaining about Russia saying bad stuff about you – or 'information warfare' – is a pathetic sign of weakness. Maybe the testosterone levels have dropped more than we have been told.

Testosterone plus steady, unrelenting decline and corruption of American "elites" most of who have no background in any fields related to actual effective governance especially in national security (military) and diplomatic fields. Zbig's book is also nothing more than doctrine-mongering based on complete lack of understanding of Russian history.

Andrei Martyanov , says: Website April 4, 2019 at 12:52 pm GMT
@JR

Reluctant to use that Hitler comparison one ought to read the Introduction of the "Grand Chessboard" in which Brzezinki himself proudly refers to both Hitler and Stalin sharing his ideas about control over Eurasia as a prerequisite for that "American Primacy".

Zbig was a political "scientist" (which is not a science) by education, fact aggravated by his Russophobia, and thus inability to grasp fundamentals of military power and warfare–a defining characteristic of American "elites". He, obviously, missed on the military-technological development of 1970s through 1990s, to arrive to the inevitable conclusion that classic "geopolitics" doesn't apply anymore. Today we all can observe how it doesn't apply and is made obsolete.

Agent76 , says: April 4, 2019 at 2:45 pm GMT
(Jan.1998) US history – "How Jimmy Carter I Started the Mujahideen" – Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor 1977-1981

"Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs ["From the Shadows"], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=a13_1240427874

Zbigniew Brzezinski Taliban Pakistan Afghanistan pep talk 1979

In 1979 Carters National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski went into Pakistans border regions with Afghanistan to give a little pep talk to some prospective majehadeen (Holy Warriors). In a 1997 interview for CNN's Cold War Series, Brzezinski hinted about the Carter Administration's proactive Afghanistan policy before the Soviet invasion in 1979, that he had conceived.

flashlight joe , says: April 4, 2019 at 2:55 pm GMT
@Jake @Jake

"Just like the Brit Empire – of which the Yank Empire is merely Part 2,"

I call it the Western British Empire.

Jake , says: April 4, 2019 at 3:14 pm GMT
@DESERT FOX Why was it that the Brit Empire kept acting throughout the later 18th, the 19th and early 20th centuries to harm Russia, even when it technically was allied with Russia? Why the Crimean War, for example?

Why, for example, was Brit secret service all over the assassination of Rasputin and tied in multiple ways to most non-Marxist revolutionary groups?

mike k , says: April 4, 2019 at 3:18 pm GMT
This entire article fleshes out one central truth – capitalism as practiced by the US Government inevitably involves war by any and all means, seeking total domination of every human being on the planet, foriegn or native to the US Hegemon. It seeks total rule of the rich and powerful over everyone else.
Jake , says: April 4, 2019 at 3:26 pm GMT
@anon Like the Ukranians, the 'Balts' virtually always are controlled by somebody else. When Russia does not control the Baltic states, they are controlled by either Poles or Germans. Russians know what that means: the Baltic states are then used as weapons to attack Russia.

The region is much calmer when Russia controls the Baltic states, and that is before taking into consideration how the Polish-Lithuanian Empire turned its Jews lose to terrorize all Orthodox Christians and how Germanic states later used Lutheranism as a force in the Baltics to ignite war with Russia and, under the queer Frederick the Great also used Jewish bankers to finance wars against Russia.

[Apr 04, 2019] If one recognizes that Brzezinski's "The Grand Chessboard, American Primacy Its Geostrategic Imperatives (1997)" in replacing "Lebensraum" with "control over Eurasia", "Tausendj hriges Reich" with "American Primacy"

Apr 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

Wally , says: April 4, 2019 at 4:43 pm GMT

@JR ssaid:
If one recognizes that Brzezinski's "The Grand Chessboard, American Primacy & Its Geostrategic Imperatives (1997)" in replacing "Lebensraum" with "control over Eurasia", "Tausendjähriges Reich" with "American Primacy" and providing our 'elite' with an "realist" and "amoral" excuse to act completely and consistently immoral one has to recognize too that this "Grand Chessboard" is an amalgamation of 'Mein Kampf' and 'Il Principe".

Except that Germany did not send Germans into the conquered territories during WWII, though they wanted to do so.

[Apr 04, 2019] But current American elites have no concept of own actions having consequences

Notable quotes:
"... I believe that the current GLOBAL elites do understand exactly what they are doing and the potential consequences to the ongoing existence of private finance. ..."
"... The war that is being waged is an attempt to keep private finance in charge of our world ..."
Apr 04, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian , Apr 4, 2019 12:11:22 PM | link

The posting ended with

"But current American elites have no concept of own actions having consequences."

I believe that the current GLOBAL elites do understand exactly what they are doing and the potential consequences to the ongoing existence of private finance.

The war that is being waged is an attempt to keep private finance in charge of our world and they are losing I am pleased to report

[Apr 03, 2019] Suspected of Corruption at Home, Powerful Foreigners Find Refuge in the US

Highly recommended!
Apr 03, 2019 | www.propublica.org

Wealthy politicians and businessmen suspected of corruption in their native lands are fleeing to a safe haven where their wealth and influence shields them from arrest.

They have entered this country on a variety of visas, including one designed to encourage investment. Some have applied for asylum, which is intended to protect people fleeing oppression and political persecution.

The increasingly popular destination for people avoiding criminal charges is no pariah nation.

It's the United States.

An investigation by ProPublica, in conjunction with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University, has found that officials fleeing prosecution in Colombia, China, South Korea, Bolivia and Panama have found refuge for themselves and their wealth in this country, taking advantage of lax enforcement of U.S. laws and gaps in immigration and financial regulations. Many have concealed their assets and real-estate purchases by creating trusts and limited liability companies in the names of lawyers and relatives.

American authorities are supposed to vet visa applicants to make sure they are not under active investigation on criminal charges. But the ProPublica examination shows that this requirement has been routinely ignored.

One of the most prominent cases involves a former president of Panama, who was allowed to enter the United States just days after his country's Supreme Court opened an investigation into charges that he had helped embezzle $45 million from a government school lunch program.

Ricardo Martinelli, a billionaire supermarket magnate, had been on the State Department's radar since he was elected in 2009. That year, the U.S. ambassador to Panama began sending diplomatic cables warning about the president's "dark side," including his links to corruption and his request for U.S. support for wiretapping his opponents.

Soon after Martinelli left office in 2014, Panamanian prosecutors conducted a widely publicized investigation of corruption in the school lunch program, and in mid-January 2015, forwarded their findings to the country's Supreme Court.

On Jan. 28, 2015, just hours before the Supreme Court announced a formal probe into the charges, Martinelli boarded a private plane, flew to Guatemala City for a meeting and then entered the United States on a visitor visa. Within weeks, he was living comfortably in the Atlantis, a luxury condominium on Miami's swanky Brickell Avenue. He is still here.

The State Department declined to comment on Martinelli's case, saying visa records are confidential and it is the U.S. Customs and Border Protection that decides who is allowed to enter the country. CBP said privacy regulations prevent the agency from commenting on Martinelli.

Efforts to reach Martinelli, including a registered letter sent to his Miami address, were unsuccessful.

In September this year, Panama asked to extradite Martinelli, but the former president is fighting that request, arguing there are no legal grounds to bring him back to his home country where the investigation has broadened to include insider trading, corruption and abuse of authority. Last December, Panama's high court issued a warrant for his arrest on charges that he used public funds to spy on over 150 political opponents. If found guilty, he could face up to 21 years in jail.

Rogelio Cruz, who is defending Martinelli in Panama's Supreme Court, said that the former president "will return to Panama once adequate conditions exist with respect to due process, where there are independent judges -- which there aren't."

The United States has explicit policies that bar issuing visas to foreign officials facing criminal charges in their homelands. In 2004, President George W. Bush issued a proclamation designed to keep the United States from becoming a haven for corrupt officials. Proclamation 7750, which has the force and effect of law, directed the State Department to ban officials who have accepted bribes or misappropriated public funds when their actions have "serious adverse effects on the national interests of the United States."

Under the rules implementing Bush's order, consular officers do not need a conviction or even formal charges to justify denying a visa. They can stamp "denied" based on information from unofficial, or informal sources, including newspaper articles, according to diplomats and State Department officials interviewed for this report.

The State Department declined to provide the number of times Proclamation 7750 has been invoked, but insisted that it has been used "robustly."

Over the years, some allegedly corrupt officials have been banned from entering the United States, including former Panamanian President Ernesto Perez Balladares , former Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Aleman, former Cameroonian Defense Minister Remy Ze Meka, and retired Philippine Gen. Carlos Garcia , according to cables published by WikiLeaks. In 2014, the U.S. banned visas for 10 members of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's inner circle because of corruption allegations.

But numerous other foreign government officials, including former presidents and cabinet ministers, have slipped through the cracks, according to court documents, diplomatic cables and interviews with prosecutors and defense attorneys in the United States and abroad. The charges involved a wide range of misconduct, from stealing public funds to accepting bribes.


Six months before Martinelli entered the United States, a former Colombian agriculture minister and onetime presidential candidate, Andres Felipe Arias, fled to Miami three weeks before he was convicted of funneling $12.5 million to wealthy political supporters from a subsidy program that was intended to reduce inequality in rural areas and protect farmers from the effects of globalization.

The U.S. embassy in Bogota had been following Arias' trial closely and reporting on the scandal in cables to Washington. The trial featured documents and witnesses saying that under Arias' watch, the agriculture ministry had doled out millions in subsidies to affluent families, some of whom, according to media reports, had donated to Arias' political allies or his presidential campaign.

Subsidies went to relatives of congressmen, companies owned by the richest man in Colombia, and a former beauty queen. One powerful family and its associates received over $2.5 million, according to records released by prosecutors. Another family, which included relatives of a former senator, received $1.3 million. Both families had supported Arias' chief political ally, former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, with campaign contributions.

The law that established the program did not ban wealthy landowners from getting grants, but some elite families had received multiple subsidies for the same farm. They gamed the system by submitting multiple proposals in the names of different family members and by subdividing their land so they could apply for grants for each parcel, court records indicate.

Yet, in November 2013, while the trial was going on, the U.S. embassy in Bogota renewed Arias' visitor visa. The State Department refused to discuss the case, saying that visa records are confidential. But a recent filing in federal court showed that the U.S. embassy had flagged Arias' application, and asked him to provide documents to support his request to leave the country while charges were pending. Arias submitted documents from the Colombian court, including a judicial order that allowed him to travel. In the end, the embassy issued a visa because he had not yet been convicted.

Andres Felipe Arias, a former Colombian agriculture minister, who fled to the United States before he could be convicted of funneling money from a subsidy program (GDA via AP Images)

On the night of June 13, 2014, three weeks before the judges convicted him of embezzlement by appropriation, a Colombian law that penalizes the unauthorized use of public funds to benefit private entities, Arias packed his bags and boarded a plane. The following month, the U.S. embassy in Bogota revoked the visa. But Arias hired an immigration attorney and applied for asylum.

"If you looked up 'politically motivated charges' in the dictionary, there would be a picture of Andres Arias next to it," said David Oscar Markus, Arias' lead attorney. "The case [against him] is absurd and not even one that is recognized in the United States."

Over the next two years, Arias built a new life in South Florida with his wife and two children, opening a small consulting company and renting a house in Weston.

On August 24, he was arrested by U.S. authorities in response to an extradition request from Colombia. He spent several months in a detention facility until his release on bail in mid-November. Arias argues that the United States cannot extradite him because it has no active extradition treaty with Colombia, but the U.S. Attorney's Office disagrees. A plea for asylum does not shield defendants from extradition if they are charged in Colombia with a crime covered by the treaty between the two countries.


Congress established the EB-5 immigrant investor program in 1990 as a way of creating jobs for Americans and encouraging investment by foreigners.

The agency that administers the program, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, has adopted regulations designed to prevent fraud, including requiring foreign investors to submit evidence, such as tax returns and bank statements, to prove they obtained their money legally.

But these safeguards did not stop the daughter-in-law and grandsons of former South Korean dictator Chun Doo-hwan from using Chun's ill-gotten gains to get U.S. permanent residency.

In 1996, a Korean court convicted Chun of receiving more than $200 million in bribes while in office in the 1980s, from companies such as Samsung and Hyundai. He was ordered to return the bribes, but refused.

Part of Chun's fortune was funneled into the United States through his son, who purchased a $2.2 million house in Newport Beach, California, according to South Korean prosecutors and real-estate records.

Millions of dollars from Chun's bribery proceeds were hidden in bearer bonds, which are notoriously difficult to trace. Unlike regular bonds, which belong to registered owners, there is no record kept about the ownership or transfer of bearer bonds. The bonds can be cashed out by whoever has them.

Former South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan addresses the press at the White House in 1985. Chun's relatives later gained permanent residency in the United States by using money Chun obtained through bribes. (Bettmann via Getty Images)

In 2008, Chun's daughter-in-law, a South Korean actress named Park Sang-ah, applied for an immigrant investor visa. Park listed her husband's bearer bonds as the source of her funds without mentioning that the money had been initially provided to him by Chun. Eight months later, Park and her children received their conditional U.S. permanent residency cards in the mail.

In 2013, at the request of South Korean prosecutors, the U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation into the Chun family's wealth in the United States and subsequently seized $1.2 million of the family's U.S. assets in the United States. The money was returned to South Korea. Despite that, Chun's family members have retained their residency status.

Chun's relatives obtained their permanent residency by investing in an EB-5 project managed by the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, a nonprofit company. The PIDC pooled Chun's $500,000 with money from 200 other foreign investors to finance an expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia.

The same project in Philadelphia also helped to secure permanent residency for Qiao Jianjun, a Chinese government official accused of embezzling more than $40 million from a state-owned grain storehouse, according to reports in the People's Daily, the Chinese Communist Party's newspaper. Qiao had divorced his wife, Shilan Zhao, in China in 2001, a fact he did not disclose to U.S. immigration authorities. When Zhao applied for an EB-5 visa, Qiao qualified for U.S. permanent residency as an applicant's spouse.

The Justice Department launched an investigation only when it was tipped off by Chinese authorities. In January 2014, a federal grand jury indicted Zhao and her ex-husband, Qiao, for immigration fraud, money laundering and internationally transporting stolen funds. Zhao was arrested and released on bail. Federal authorities are pursuing Qiao, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

A trial has been set for February 2017. U.S. government attorneys have filed asset forfeiture cases to recover real estate linked to Qiao and Zhao in Flushing, New York, and Monterey Park, California.

In April 2015, Qiao appeared on the Chinese government's list of 100 "most wanted" officials who fled abroad after being accused of crimes such as bribery and corruption. He and 39 other government officials and state-owned enterprise leaders on the list allegedly fled to the United States.

The list, called "Operation Skynet," is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign, which has vowed to take down what Chinese officials describe as corrupt "tigers" and "flies" within the country's ruling Communist Party.

Fengxian Hu was another fugitive on China's list. A former army singer and radio broadcaster, Hu headed the state-owned broadcasting company that had a joint venture with Pepsi to distribute soft drinks in Sichuan province. In 2002, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal reported that Pepsi had accused Hu of looting the joint venture and using company funds to buy fancy cars and go on European tours.

The same year, in a widely publicized move, Pepsi filed a case with international arbitrators in Stockholm, asking that the joint venture be dissolved. Despite this, Hu was given a visa that allowed him to fly regularly to Las Vegas, where he was a VIP client at the MGM casino.

In January 2010, Chinese authorities investigated Hu for corruption. But the month before, Hu had entered the United States on a B1 visitor visa, joining his wife, a U.S. citizen living in New York.

Hu tried to obtain a green card through his wife, but the petition was rejected by U.S. immigration authorities. He applied for asylum instead.

Meanwhile, he had gotten into trouble in the United States for losing millions in a Las Vegas casino and failing to pay a $12 million gambling debt. In 2012, he was indicted in a Nevada court on two counts of theft and one count of intentionally passing a check without sufficient funds.

Hu pled not guilty to the charges; his lawyers claimed that his checks bounced because his bank account had been closed by Chinese authorities. The charges against him in the U.S. were considered an aggravated felony, which is a common basis for deportation. Hu, however, had a pending asylum case and so could not be deported.

In August 2015, a New York immigration judge denied the asylum claim. But Hu's lawyers argued that he would be tortured if he returned to China and invoked the United Nations Convention Against Torture , which says that an alien may not be sent to a country where he is likely to be tortured. In the end, the immigration court suspended Hu's removal order, allowing him to remain in the United States and work here indefinitely. He will not, however, be given permanent residency or be allowed to travel outside the country.

The absence of an extradition treaty -- coupled with a high standard of living -- makes the United States a favored destination for Chinese officials and businessmen fleeing corruption charges.

In April 2015, Jeh Johnson, the Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security , made a 48-hour trip to Beijing. The visit was intended to pave the way for Chinese President Xi Jinping's U.S. visit in September 2015, according to a memorandum Johnson wrote, which was obtained through a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

In the memo, Johnson said the Chinese government is seeking 132 people it said have fled to the United States to avoid prosecution. This represents a greater number of fugitives than Chinese authorities have publicly acknowledged.

"I'm told that in prior discussions, the Chinese have been frustrated by the lack of any information from us about the 132 fugitives," Johnson wrote.

The Chinese request for assistance posed a dilemma for the United States. American officials are concerned about a lack of fairness in China's criminal justice system. Human rights groups say that China continues to use torture to extract false confessions from suspected criminals. Torture has also been documented to be part of shuanggui -- a secretive discipline process reserved for members of the Chinese Communist Party.

Some analysts see the crackdown on corrupt officials as part of a purge aimed at the current regime's political rivals and ideological enemies. U.S. officials say this makes returning corrupt officials to China a delicate issue for the United States.


In 2003, headlines around the world reported widespread street protests in Bolivia that led to security forces killing 58 people, most of them members of indigenous groups. Not long afterward, as protesters massed up on the streets of La Paz demanding his resignation, Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada resigned and fled his country along with his defense minister, Jose Carlos Sanchez Berzain.

The two men flew to the United States, where they continue to reside. In 2006, Berzain applied for political asylum, which he was granted in 2007. On his application, when the form asked, "Have you or your family members ever been accused, charged, arrested, detained, interrogated, convicted and sentenced, or imprisoned in any country other than the United States?" Berzain checked the box "no," even though by then he and de Lozada had been formally accused of genocide by Bolivia's attorney general. The indictment was approved by Bolivia's Supreme Court in 2007. Berzain also stated on his application that the State Department had arranged for his travel to the United States.

The de Lozada administration was vocally pro-American. Before it was ousted, officials had announced they would facilitate gas exports to the United States.

After their departure, Bolivia's attorney general publicly stated that the administration had embezzled millions from government coffers, but did not formally file charges. He said de Lozada had taken some $22 million from the country's reserve funds before fleeing.

De Lozada and members of his administration have dismissed the allegations as part of a politically motivated smear campaign, but there is evidence to suggest irregularities may have occurred in the handling of the reserve funds. The former president signed a decree shortly before leaving office authorizing the interior and finance ministers to withdraw money from Bolivia's reserve funds without going through the normal approval process. De Lozada's former interior minister pleaded guilty in 2004 to embezzlement after $270,000 in cash was found in an associate's home.

De Lozada, a mining mogul before he became president, moved to Chevy Chase, Maryland, an upscale suburb of Washington, D.C. He now lives in a two-story brick house bought for $1.4 million by Macalester Limited, a limited liability company that was formed in the British Virgin Islands and lists a post office box in the Bahamas as its principal address.

De Lozada's immigration status is unclear. He said in a sworn deposition in 2015 that he was not a U.S. citizen. His son-in-law, who spoke to ProPublica on his behalf, would not say whether de Lozada had applied for asylum.

Berzain, meanwhile, settled in South Florida. Records show that he and his brother-in-law personally own or are listed as officers or members of business entities that together control around $9 million worth of Miami real estate.

Some of the purchases were made in the names of entities that appear to list different variations of Berzain's name in business records.

In addition, in the purchase of two properties, Berzain's name was added to business records only after the deal had gone through. Berzain's brother-in-law incorporated a company called Warren USA Corp in October 2010, for example, and the company purchased a $1.4 million residential property the following month. Three weeks after Warren USA Corp became the owner of an elegant Spanish-style villa in Key Biscayne, Berzain was added as the company's secretary.

The following year, in May 2011, Berzain's brother-in-law created Galen KB Corp and registered as the company's president. A month later, Galen KB Corp purchased a $250,000 condo. In August, Berzain replaced his brother-in-law as the company's president, according to business records. Berzain is no longer listed as a company officer in either company.

During an interview in January, Berzain told ProPublica "I don't have any companies." When asked about several of the companies associated with his name or address in public records, the former defense minister said he had a consulting firm that helped clients set up companies and that he was sometimes added to the board of directors. Efforts to reach Berzain's brother-in-law, a wealthy businessman and the owner of a bus company in Bolivia, were unsuccessful. Berzain's brother-in-law has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

The practice of purchasing real estate in the name of a business entity like a limited liability company, or LLC, is a common and legal practice in high-end real-estate markets, and one that enables celebrities and other wealthy individuals to protect their privacy.

But the practice also allows foreign officials to hide ill-gotten gains. U.S. regulations allow individuals to form business entities like LLCs without disclosing the beneficial owner. The LLCs can be registered in the names of lawyers, accountants or other associates -- or even anonymously in some states -- and used to purchase real estate, making it nearly impossible to determine the actual owner of a property.


Government investigators and lawmakers have pointed out persistent gaps in U.S. policy that have enabled corrupt officials to evade justice and hide their assets in this country. But little has changed.

Last year, a U.S. Government Accountability Office investigation said it can be "difficult" for immigration officials to identify the true source of an immigrant investor's funds. Immigration officials told the government auditors that EB-5 applicants with ties to corruption, the drug trade, human trafficking and other criminal activities have a strong incentive to omit key details about their financial histories or lie on their applications.

"It's very easy to get lost in the noise if you're a bad person," said Seto Bagdoyan, the accountability office's director of forensic audits, who co-authored the GAO report.

Immigration officials, he added, have an "almost nonexistent" ability to thoroughly evaluate investors' backgrounds and trace their assets.

Despite such weaknesses, Congress has continually extended the EB-5 program with minor changes. The program is backed by real-estate lobbyists who argue that it is a crucial source of financing for luxury condos and hotels. The program is expected to thrive in a Trump presidency because the president-elect is a developer and his son-in-law Jared Kushner received $50 million in EB-5 funds to build a Trump-branded tower in New Jersey.

In 2010, a Senate report described how powerful foreign officials and their relatives moved millions of dollars in suspect funds into the United States. The report said investors bypassed anti-money laundering regulations with help from U.S. lawyers, real-estate agents, and banking institutions. Last year, ABC News reported that lobbyists for real estate and other business groups spent $30 million in 2015 in an effort to protect the EB-5 program.

Senate investigators proposed legislation that would require companies to disclose their beneficial owners and make it easier for authorities to restrict entry, deny visas and deport corrupt foreign officials.

A few of the proposals have been adopted, but they have not made much difference. Banks have stepped up their efforts to identify corrupt officials and monitor their accounts. Professional groups such as the American Bar Association have issued non-binding guidelines for their members on compliance with anti-money-laundering controls. The U.S. government has also worked with the Financial Action Task Force , an international body set up to fight money laundering, to bring its anti-corruption controls in accordance with the body's guidelines.

In May, the Treasury Department enacted a new rule that will take full effect in 2018 and will require financial institutions to identify the beneficial owners of shell companies. Some advocates see the rule as a step backward. The new rule allows shell companies to designate the manager of the account as the beneficial owner, concealing the identity of the person ultimately exercising control.

The State Department declined to say what progress, if any, it has made on the Senate subcommittee's recommendation to more aggressively deny visas through Proclamation 7750. "The Department takes seriously congressional recommendations and devotes resources to addressing corruption worldwide," a State Department official wrote in response to questions.

In 2010, then-Attorney General Eric Holder launched the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. The small unit, which has grown to include 16 attorneys, aims to recover assets in the United States that are tied to foreign corruption and return the money to the looted countries.

Over the past six years, the unit has filed around two dozen civil asset forfeiture cases in an attempt to seize money, real estate and other assets tied to government officials from 16 countries. Assets have ranged from a lone diamond-encrusted glove worn by Michael Jackson that was purchased by Equatorial Guinea's Vice President, Teodoro Obiang, to a $1 billion fund tied to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Yet most of the money the Department of Justice has pursued remains in limbo. The case involving Chun, the former president of South Korea, is one of only two instances in which corrupt gains have been returned to the home country through the Justice Department's efforts. The other arose when Justice Department officials returned $1.5 million to Taiwan from property bought with bribes paid to the family of Chun Shui Bian, the former president of Taiwan.

The agency faces myriad challenges when attempting to seize and return assets acquired by corrupt foreign officials, including a lack of witnesses, said Kendall Day, head of the Department of Justice's Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section. These officials often shield their transactions through shell companies, offshore companies or a network of associates.

"The mission of the Kleptocracy Initiative is really to target what we call grand foreign corruption that impacts the U.S. financial system," Day said, citing the Chun case as an example.

The 2012 Magnitsky Act gives the government power to deny visas and freeze the assets of Russian nationals accused of corruption or human rights violations. The Global Magnitsky Act would extend the same sanctions to the rest of the world, but it has yet to be passed by Congress. Unlike Proclamation 7750, the Magnitsky laws require the government to publish a list of foreign government officials who are barred from the United States.

In addition, the Treasury Department imposed regulations this year that aim to crack down on the use of shell companies to purchase real estate in places like Miami and Manhattan. Title insurance companies are now required to identify the real owners of companies purchasing high-end real estate without a mortgage. These regulations, however, are temporary.

[Apr 02, 2019] Poroshenko was just a US marionette which helped to loot the country and impoverish Ukrainian people

Under neoliberalism any regime change is necessary followed by an economic rape. That was the case with the USSR in 1991, that was the case in Ukraine in 2014. Only the size and length of the looting varies depending of the strength of new government. Both the size and the length is maximal if in power are marionette like Yeltsin or Yatsenyuk/Poroshenko.
Saying "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts" now should sound as "Beware of Americans who bring you color revolutions." They bring the economic rape (aka "Disaster capitalism") as the second phase. That's the nature of neocolonialism -- now you do not need to occupy the country. It's enough to make it a debt slave using IMF and install compradors to endure the low of money and continuing impoverishment of the population.
With such crooked and greedy friends as Biden and Kerry and their narcoaddicts sons you do not need enemies. But the main danger are not individual sharks but Western financial institutions like IMF and World bank. Those convert countries into debt slaves and that means permanently low standard (Central African in case of Ukraine, something like $2 a day) of living for generations to come.
What is interesting is that unlike say German nationalists in 30th, the Ukrainian nationalists proved to be completly useless in defending the Ukraine from looting. They actually serves as supplementary tool of the same looting.
The standard of living of Ukrainians dropped 2-3 times since 2014. How pensioners survive, on $50 a month pension I simply do not understand. In any case Neoliberalism proved to be very effecting is keeping "developing" nations economic growth down and converting them into debt slaves. The fact that Biden use loans as a tool of extortion (as in threat to cancel one billion loan) to close criminal investigation of his sons company is just an icing on the cake. Poroshenko and his camarilla should be tried in the court of law for his corruption and pandering to the Western sharks, who were happy to steal from Ukraine as much as then can.
To pay $166K a month for Biden's son cocaine is way too much to such impoverished country as Ukraine.
Notable quotes:
"... "I said, ' You're not getting the billion .' I'm going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ' I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money, '" bragged Biden, recalling the conversation with Poroshenko. ..."
"... " Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time," Biden said at the Council on Foreign Relations event - while insisting that former president Obama was complicit in the threat. ..."
"... The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden's younger son, Hunter, as a board member. ..."
"... U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden's American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts -- usually more than $166,000 a month -- from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia. - The Hill ..."
"... And before he was fired, Shokin says he had made "specific plans" for the investigation - including "interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden." "I would like to emphasize the fact that presumption of innocence is a principle in Ukraine," added Shokin. Joe Biden "clearly had to know" about the probe before he insisted on Shokin's ouster . Via The Hill: ..."
"... The U.S. Embassy in Kiev that coordinated Biden's work in the country repeatedly and publicly discussed the general prosecutor's case against Burisma; ..."
"... President Obama named Biden the administration's point man on Ukraine in February 2014 ..."
"... Remember Victoria Nuland's famous phone recording of "**** the EU?" This was nothing more than another CIA destabilization campaign carried out of another Sovereign Country. With the goal of breaking the Bush Senior & Jim Baker agreement of not surrounding Russia with NATO countries after their Collapse. ..."
"... Let's face it. If Ukrainians loved it's Country, Joey, Hunter and the Choco-**** would have wound up like Mikhail Lesin during an all night party in an upscale grotto in Kiev by now! ..."
"... At last some questions for this dirt ball-burisma is tied in with one of the most if not the most corrupt oligarch, Koloimiski. Biden is up to his eyeballs in some dodgy deals in china as well-this guy and his son are walking corruption personified. ..."
"... Didn't Hillary teach Joe that a tax free foundation is better than using your son's LLC for laundering the bribes... This is basic stuff. ..."
"... Joe "the Conqueror" "Caesar Magnus" Biden. Joe of Ukraine, the best bud of $oro$. ..."
Apr 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Originally from: Forget 'Creepy' - Biden Has A Major Ukraine Problem Joe Biden appears to have made a major tactical error last year when he bragged to an audience of foreign policy experts how he threatened to hurl Ukraine into bankruptcy if their top prosecutor, General Viktor Shokin, wasn't immediately fired, according to The Hill 's John Solomon.

In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees , sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn't immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. - The Hill

"I said, ' You're not getting the billion .' I'm going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ' I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money, '" bragged Biden, recalling the conversation with Poroshenko.

" Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time," Biden said at the Council on Foreign Relations event - while insisting that former president Obama was complicit in the threat.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Q0_AqpdwqK4?start=3128

Interviews with a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials confirm Biden's account, though they claim the pressure was applied over several months in late 2015 and early 2016, not just six hours of one dramatic day . Whatever the case, Poroshenko and Ukraine's parliament obliged by ending Shokin's tenure as prosecutor. Shokin was facing steep criticism in Ukraine, and among some U.S. officials, for not bringing enough corruption prosecutions when he was fired. - The Hill

And why would Biden want the "son of a bitch" fired?

In what must be an amazing coincidence, the prosecutor was leading a wide-ranging corruption investigation into a natural gas firm - which Biden's son, Hunter, sat on the board of directors.

The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden's younger son, Hunter, as a board member.

U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden's American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts -- usually more than $166,000 a month -- from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia. - The Hill

The Hill 's Solomon reviewed the general prosecutor's file for the Burisma probe - which he reports shows Hunter Biden, his business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of money.

And before he was fired, Shokin says he had made "specific plans" for the investigation - including "interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden." "I would like to emphasize the fact that presumption of innocence is a principle in Ukraine," added Shokin. Joe Biden "clearly had to know" about the probe before he insisted on Shokin's ouster . Via The Hill:

Although Biden made no mention of his son in his 2018 speech, U.S. and Ukrainian authorities both told me Biden and his office clearly had to know about the general prosecutor's probe of Burisma and his son's role. They noted that:

President Obama named Biden the administration's point man on Ukraine in February 2014 , after a popular revolution ousted Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych and as Moscow sent military forces into Ukraine's Crimea territory.

***

Key questions for 'ol Joe:

Was it appropriate for your son and his firm to cash in on Ukraine while you served as point man for Ukraine policy? What work was performed for the money Hunter Biden's firm received? Did you know about the Burisma probe? And when it was publicly announced that your son worked for Burisma, should you have recused yourself from leveraging a U.S. policy to pressure the prosecutor who very publicly pursued Burisma?

Read the rest of Solomon's report here .

Chupacabra-322 , 58 minutes ago link

Remember Victoria Nuland's famous phone recording of "**** the EU?" This was nothing more than another CIA destabilization campaign carried out of another Sovereign Country. With the goal of breaking the Bush Senior & Jim Baker agreement of not surrounding Russia with NATO countries after their Collapse.

Son of Captain Nemo , 1 hour ago link

Let's face it. If Ukrainians loved it's Country, Joey, Hunter and the Choco-**** would have wound up like Mikhail Lesin during an all night party in an upscale grotto in Kiev by now!

Amazing that all 3 of them are still alive and that "Song Bird" McCain (#4) was allowed to die from his brain cancer instead of joining them or being dismembered and put on display when he made these visit(s) ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbfsTcJCKDE ) along with General Vallely (#5)!!!

Taras Bulba , 1 hour ago

At last some questions for this dirt ball-burisma is tied in with one of the most if not the most corrupt oligarch, Koloimiski. Biden is up to his eyeballs in some dodgy deals in china as well-this guy and his son are walking corruption personified.

CarifonianSeven, 2 hours ago

Didn't Hillary teach Joe that a tax free foundation is better than using your son's LLC for laundering the bribes... This is basic stuff.

Pernicious Gold Phallusy, 1 hour ago

Joe cheated his way through undergrad and law school. He would be unable to understand any of that.

whittler, 1 hour ago

What? You mean folks will finally care about little Hunter hiring Azov neo-Nazi fighters (oops! security I mean) to protect his fracking site just north of the 'troubles' in the eastern Ukraine? I'm sure they were working for free and that no Biden money was ever used to payoff (oops again! I mean pay the wages of) a bunch of Nazis (dang it again, I mean neo-Nazis, it sounds so much warmer and fuzzier when you add 'neo').

Creepy Joe and all D's agree, 'Nazi' = bad, neo-Nazi = warm, fuzzy and good; heck, they even like to kill Russians Russians Russians!!!

Cracker 16 , 1 hour ago

Joe "the Conqueror" "Caesar Magnus" Biden. Joe of Ukraine, the best bud of $oro$.

[Mar 31, 2019] All I can see in Russigate is that two faction of the US elite seem to be fighting amongst themselves. With Russigate (IMO) providing cover for this power struggle

Notable quotes:
"... Russiagate became a convenient replacement explanation absolving an incompetent political establishment for its complicity in what happened in 2016, and not just the failure to see it coming. ..."
"... Because of the immediate arrival of the collusion theory, neither Wolf Blitzer nor any politician ever had to look into the camera and say, "I guess people hated us so much they were even willing to vote for Donald Trump ..."
Mar 31, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian , Mar 30, 2019 7:51:28 PM | link

Here is an insightful read on Trump's (s)election and Russiagate that I think is not OT

Taibbi: On Russiagate and Our Refusal to Face Why Trump Won

The take away quote

" Russiagate became a convenient replacement explanation absolving an incompetent political establishment for its complicity in what happened in 2016, and not just the failure to see it coming.

Because of the immediate arrival of the collusion theory, neither Wolf Blitzer nor any politician ever had to look into the camera and say, "I guess people hated us so much they were even willing to vote for Donald Trump ."

As a peedupon all I can see is that the elite seem to be fighting amongst themselves or (IMO) providing cover for ongoing elite power/control efforts. It might not be about private/public finance in a bigger picture but I can't see anything else that makes sense

Zachary Smith , Mar 30, 2019 10:07:37 PM | link
@ psychohistorian #43

Thanks for the Taibbi link. I hadn't seen it, and found him to be in good form. I do think he ought to have spoken more about how bad Trump's Primary opponents were.

Most of those reporters were going to slant their stories the way their bosses wanted. Their jobs are just too nice to do otherwise. Getting Trump as Hillary's opponent had to have been a goal for the majority of them. He was the patsy who would become squished roadkill in the treads of The Most Experienced Presidential Candidate In History. More on that for people with strong stomachs:

What Hillary Clinton's Fans Love About Her 11/03/2016

Sample:

Hillary Clinton is a knowledgeable, well-prepared, reasonable, experienced, even-tempered, hardworking candidate, while her opponent is a stubbornly uninformed demagogue who has been proven again and again to be a liar on matters big and small. There is no objective basis on which to equate Hillary Clinton to her opponent.
The author had it half right. Turns out the voters knew quite a bit about Trump, and still preferred him to the Butcher of Libya.

[Mar 31, 2019] Mafiocracy Eudaimonia and Co

Mar 31, 2019 | eand.co

"I don't know why you don't listen. You're making me hurt you. I'm doing it for your own good!  --  but it's your fault!"

Does that sound eerily familiar to you? When I look at America and Britain, I see the rise of what I'll simply call mafia politics. It sums up Trumpism and Brexit in a nutshell: abuse gone mega-scale, the search absolute power through the threat of violent aggression, legitimized as "democratic"  --  but bullying, threats, intimidation, harassment, and extortion are not democracy, my friends. What are they? Mafia-ocracy.

Democracy is degenerating into mafia-ocracy, and mafia-ocracy goes something like this.

What the? Do you see the bizarre contradictory logic? The pattern? I see it every single day now, in Anglo politics. You're quite right if it reminds you of abusive relationships  --  it is one, at a social scale. If the sudden proliferation of angry, bellowing men in ill-fitting suits, sneering and jeering with dull, brutish expressions, isn't evidence enough, first let me give you a few concrete examples.

Brexiters  --  the politicians  --  explicitly invoke this chain of logic. They warn of all kinds of things if their wish isn't carried through  --  everything from mass civil unrest to riots to all out war. Riots? War? Really? Brexiters  --  the individuals  --  explicitly say: "I'll never vote again!", as if to reinforce the threat, that they'll resort to cruder means of carrying out their wishes. Or maybe you read, as I read, recently, that chants of "AOC sucks!" broke out at a recent rally  --  adding to the usual "Lock her up!" Do I really need to explain how those exemplify the logic above?

The logic above, my friends, has no place in a democracy. You see, a democracy is not a place for any of the above. When the line is crossed, we're not really practicing democracy anymore. What are we practicing?

Mafia-ocracy.

All the above is the logic every mafia from the beginning of time has used to extort, shake down, bully, harass, and destabilize. "Sure be a shame if something happened to that nice democracy you got there. Who knows what might end up happening? It'd be your fault, though."

Do you see what's happening here? Here's what that logic isn't. Policy. Vision. Ideas. An agenda. A plan to deal with real problems. Laws to expand freedom, justice, and equality. The line above  --  the essence of mafia-ocracy  --  is outside the bounds of democracy.

Democracies were centered around "parliaments" for a very good reason. "Parliament" literally means "talking it out." But we are not talking our issues out if you are threatening me. If you are trying to intimidate me. If you are victim blaming me for the implied violence you will do me.

We are "talking it out" in democracies when we discuss issues of substance. Issues of, as Americans say, "policy." What is "policy"? Have you ever thought about it? "Policy" is just something like: 'laws we hope to make to solve very real problems in our society." Policy is not: "ways I will intimidate and punish you for failing to obey me." If that is what policy is, we are not in a democracy anymore, my friends.

Where are we? We are in a twilight zone between authoritarianism, fascism, and false democracy, democracy used as a weapon. That is why I call it mafia-ocracy. It is the institutions of democracy used for anti-democratic purposes, to destroy and shatter democracy.

You can use a "parliament", a place to "talk it out", to issue threats and intimate and bully. Just as you can use a local street to intimidate and extort shop-owners. But just as that mafias stalking shop owners is not legitimate commerce, but only harassment, so too, threats and intimidation in parliaments or other democratic fora (like town halls or rallies and so on) are not democracy. Do you see the parallel I am drawing?

Mafia-ocracy uses the institutions of democracy as weapons. Its intent is to destroy the very essentials of true democracy. There are three. Freedom, equality, and justice. But when the Brexiter or Trumpist says, "Hey, there might be riots, upheaval, a civil war  --  and it's your fault. Why don't you just give in?", those three things are being undermined.

There is less equality, every time that one group in society uses threats and intimidation to overpower others. There is less freedom, every time one group in society threatens another with violence or harm to get their way. And there is less justice when these things happen, of course, too  --  in enduring ways.

In that way, mafia-ocracy is a strange thing, a new thing. It isn't quite classical authoritarianism or fascism  --  it's democracy weaponized. It's using the basic institutions of democracy, Congresses, the idea of "parliament", town halls, courts, and so forth, to tear democracies apart, as weapons for one group to overpower all the others, with threats, intimidation, bullying, and harassment.

Hence, it's supporters can call it "democracy"  --  and usually do. Nobody has taught them that a democracy has red lines  --  within them lie issues of substance, policy, and outside them lie the threat, the wish to harm, the intimidation, the intent to do real injury. Nobody seems to have taught the true believers of mafia-ocracy that trying to extort and shake down their neighbors and colleagues isn't democracy  --  but it's undoing.

And why would anyone be surprised by that? The forces that rule our world  --  capitalism, neoliberalism, supremacy  --  all these say: the strong survive, and the weak perish, and that's fair, right, and just. Everyone for themselves. You're predator or prey, burden or "self-reliant" indvidual", somebody  --  or nobody. It's not a surprise, given this binary logic that much of the world is turning to Mafia-ocracy. They're only really doing what capitalism, neoliberalism, and supremacy have taught them is perfectly acceptable, legitimate, even morally right: the shakedown, the threat, bullying, extorting.

Hence, the striking parallels of Brexit and Trumpism. Both are movements where the idea that we should bully, intimidate, threaten, and shake down our neighbours  --  both inside and outside our societies  --  is the right, best, necessary, and only thing to do. If we cannot do it  --  we might be the weak ones, and they might be the strong ones. We might be the prey, and they might be the predators.

Hence, democracy used as a weapon, as a hammer  --  one that destroys freedom, justice, and equality, not to mention trust, decency, and humanity, in the aggressive search for the power to abuse, demean, dehumanize, and devalue.

Because, my friends, when we threaten, intimidate, and vilify, that is what we are really doing: we are saying that you are not really as human as I am. Therefore, I deserve to have more power than you. That is the only logic whereby one can conclude: "you made me do it! It's your fault I hurt you!"

"It's your fault I hurt you!" Is also, of course, the logic of the abuser. Abusers believe they are more than perfectly justified  --  it's something like their moral duty to abuse their victims. "It's your fault I hurt you!" also means "you're better off being being hurt!" This rule out the possibility of a genuine relationship of equals, seeking greaterfreedom, granting each other justice  --  which is what democracy really is. Just as a democratic relationship is not an abusive one, so too an abusive society is not a democratic one  --  no matter how much the abusers cry that it is.

Again, it's not a surprise that the dynamics of abuse have gone mega-scale, have come to conquer even our political systems, have corroded our democracies. That's because, again, capitalism, neoliberalism, and supremacy all justify abuse  --  treat it as a duty. Not paying your workers as little as possible? Letting them have bathroom breaks? You're violating your duty to shareholders! Abuse is hardwired into capitalism because the division into people who "own" things and people who don't of course creates power imbalances that cannot yield freedom, equality, or justice, only abuse. It's not a surprise, then, that the abused have become abusive. It is all they have ever known  --  the quest for the power to abuse, when they were not being abused themselves. Can anyone teach there is a different world?

Mafia-ocracy is democracy being used as a weapon, abusive relationships going mega-scale, threats, intimidation, extortion, regarded as legitimate forms of democratic discourse, "It's your fault I hurt you! You made me do it!!" What it isn't is democracy.

Democracy is a lever, not a hammer. When democracy is used as a hammer, it is not democracy at all. The lever lifts. Democracy is greater freedom, justice, equality, by "talking it out", parlez, parley. If we are at the point that me telling you: "You are going to make me hurt you, for your own good, and it will be all your fault!", then, my friends, we are not upholding the great tradition and enacting the sacred and noble idea of democracy. We are becoming little versions of the mafias who have abused us all our lives long  --  even if we have been taught to call them "elites."

Umair
March 2019

[Mar 25, 2019] Jared Kushner And Donald Trump To Partner For The First Time In A New Jersey Development - Jewish Business NewsJewish Business

Mar 25, 2019 | jewishbusinessnews.com

The thirty three year old member of the Kushner real estate family, Jared Kushner , is married to Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump's daughter. His Kushner Companies and Donald Trump's Trump Organization have announced plans for a joint venture to build a 447 unit rental apartment building in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The new development is located next to Trump Plaza Residences at 88 Morgan Street, a 55-story condominium completed six years ago. It will be called Trump Bay Street and is expected to cost $193.5 million.

The two companies will be joined by the KABR Group of New Jersey.

The site went through a series of owners during the recession before being purchased by the Kushner and KABR partnership. Kushner chose to use the Trump name due to the success of the neighboring Trump Plaza. They bought the debt on the property for $6 million in 2011. It was valued at $35 million at the time.

Kushner-KABR will be putting up $38.5 million of its own equity for the project, according to reports. Another $90 million will be acquired through a construction loan and another $65 million will come from a mezzanine loan tied to a Federal visa program. This was reported in the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal says that the details of Trump Organization's involvement in the development have not yet been made public. Donald Trump told the Wall Street Journal, ""Jared is a very talented young man. It is going to be a great project."

[Mar 25, 2019] Senators, Please Ask Jared Kushner About 666 Fifth Avenue by Timothy L. O'Brien

Mar 01, 2029 | www.bloomberg.com

Senators, Please Ask Jared Kushner About 666 Fifth Avenue A Chinese financier has pulled out of a bailout for Trump's son-in-law. Now let's talk about his meetings with a Russian bank.

In a happy moment in the otherwise cloudy world of the Trump family and the flood of financial conflicts they've carted into Washington, a major Chinese investor has decided not to pour billions of dollars into a Manhattan skyscraper owned by the Jared Kushner clan.

Had this deal gone forward -- the effect would have been to bail Kushner out of a huge, misbegotten investment while letting his family take home at least $400 million and retain a minority ownership stake in the building -- it would have compromised President Donald Trump's diplomacy with China.

The background: Anbang, an insurer and prolific deal-maker close to China's government, had considered investing $4 billion in 666 Fifth Avenue. Kushner had overpaid for the building in 2007, when he bought it with the help of bank loans for $1.8 billion. The financial crisis ensued, occupancy rates plummeted and Kushner had to be rescued by outside investors to keep the troubled building afloat. Anbang's investment would have valued the building at a handsome $2.85 billion, and also refinanced about $1.15 billion in debt.

The possibility of a transaction brought scrutiny from two Bloomberg news reporters, Caleb Melby and David Kocieniewski, as well as from Congress and the New York Times . I discussed it in a column here two weeks ago. And for good reason: Kushner is a senior White House adviser who has Trump's ear on foreign policy. The math of Trump's 36-year-old son-in-law being saved from a reckless investment by China presented all sorts of conflicts of interest and the potential for disastrous policy moves by the White House.

So Anbang is now gone and all has been made right? Well, no.

Kushner's family still owns a building that needs a financial lifeline, so 666 Fifth Avenue presents something that Congress may want to examine more closely when Jared Kushner meets with the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of an inquiry into possible collusion between Trump's campaign team and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the Trump-Russia connection, its director, James Comey, confirmed during a congressional hearing last week. There has been no suggestion that Kushner is part of the FBI probe, but the Senate's decision to question him makes him, as the Times pointed out when it broke the story of Kushner's upcoming testimony, "the closest person to the president to be called upon in any of the investigations, and the only one currently serving in the White House."

Kushner's meetings with Russian bankers during the presidential transition last fall and winter apparently help explain why the Senate is interested in speaking with him.

The timeline matters. Kushner began talking with Chinese investors about 666 Fifth Avenue last summer, around the time that Trump locked up the Republican nomination. Then he spearheaded more serious talks that took place in New York about a week after his father-in-law was elected in November.

According to the Times, Kushner met with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, in early December as part of what appeared to be normal presidential transition meetings. A second Kislyak meeting with a Kushner deputy followed in December, as well as another, brokered by Kislyak, between Kushner and the head of a Russian bank, Vnesheconombank. The U.S. had imposed financial sanctions on that bank because of Russian President Vladimir Putin's military incursions in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.

Vnesheconombank has close ties to the Kremlin and its chief executive, Sergey Gorkov, attended a training academy for members of Russia's security and intelligence services.

A Trump spokeswoman described Kushner's meetings with the Russians as routine, which they may have been given his role at the time as Trump's liaison to foreign powers.

But given how important 666 Fifth Avenue was for Kushner at the time, it's also possible that he saw the Russians as potential investors alongside the Chinese. Or as financial backups should the Chinese walk away from a deal.

The Times, citing a government source, said that the Senate plans to ask Kushner if financial help for 666 Fifth was part of his chats with Gorkov and Vnesheconombank.

Kushner's responses to questions about Russian and Chinese financing for his family's building may clarify what inspired him to negotiate so diligently with foreign lenders at a time when he surely understood the negotiating value of having his father-in-law on the cusp of assuming power in the White House.

His appearance in the Senate will also offer a chance to quiz him about the intersection of personal financial dealings and public policymaking. That's an issue that remains troubling because Kushner, and his wife Ivanka Trump, and the president himself, have avoided adequately separating themselves from their private business interests even as they wield power.

[Mar 25, 2019] Kushner Companies and Michael Cohen accused of falsifying documents to push out tenants by Charles V Bagli

Aug 28, 2018

Family real estate company fined $210,000 for filing fake construction permits by New York City regulators as tenants rights watchdog says former Trump lawyer engaged in same practice. Earlier this week, the city's Department of Buildings fined Kushner Companies a total of $210,000 (£163,00) for 42 instances in which it says the company falsified construction permits at 17 residential buildings, where many of the tenants were protected by rent regulations from steep rent increases and eviction.

Cohen may not be the only one involved in campaign finance violations. A spokeswoman for Kushner Companies said that the violations were "paperwork errors". The company can contest the citations before an administrative judge.

"In no case did the company act in disregard of the safety of our tenants," said Christine Taylor.

Tenant activists also issued a report based on city and state records that suggested that an investment group led by Mr Cohen had also falsified construction permits by claiming that three buildings in Manhattan were vacant or without rent-regulated tenants, when they were occupied and many tenants had rental protections.

Landlords are required in New York City to disclose whether tenants in their buildings are rent regulated to obtain a construction permit. This requirement is designed to safeguard rent-regulated tenants from harassment.

Unscrupulous landlords sometimes push out rent-protected tenants so they can sharply increase rents on those units.

[Mar 25, 2019] Deal Gives Kushners Cash Infusion on 666 Fifth Avenue

Mar 25, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

In a deal that eases the financial pressure on the Kushner Companies, Brookfield Asset Management said on Friday that it had taken a 99-year lease on 666 Fifth Avenue, the troubled Midtown tower owned by the family of Donald Trump's son-in-law.

Jared Kushner, now a top White House adviser, paid a record-setting $1.8 billion for the building in 2007, and it has been a drag on his family's real estate company ever since.

The deal, in which Brookfield paid the rent for the entire 99-year term upfront, helps remove the family's biggest financial headache: a $1.4 billion mortgage on the office portion of the tower that was due in February next year. The Kushners have spent more than two years on an international search for new partners or fresh financing that stretched from the Middle East to China.

The deal would enable the Kushners to pay off at least a large portion of what they owe lenders and retain ownership of the land beneath the tower. But they may not make any money from it.

While the deal relieves some of the Kushners' troubles, difficulties persist across their real estate empire, at least in part because of their connection to the White House. "If you do business with the Kushners, there's a headline reality," said Kenneth Pasternak, executive chairman of the real-estate firm KABR Group and an investing partner of the Kushner family in multiple developments. "I don't want to say it's a headline risk," he added. "There's a headline reality."

In the 666 Fifth Avenue deal, Brookfield paid about $1.1 billion in upfront rent, according to an executive who requested anonymity because he had been briefed on the deal but was not authorized to discuss it. Charles Kushner, Jared's father, who now runs the company, in turn, negotiated with his lenders to pay less than the company owed to satisfy the debts, the executive said.

Analysts have long said that 666 Fifth was worth less than its debts. The building was 30 percent vacant and only generated about half the annual mortgage payments. In recent months, the building's largest remaining tenant, Millennium Management, signaled that it too planned to leave.

A spokeswoman for Kushner Companies declined to comment on the Brookfield deal.

The purchase of the aluminum-clad tower was intended to vault the Kushners into the top ranks of New York real estate from their perch in New Jersey, where they were known for a huge portfolio of garden apartment complexes. They moved their company headquarters to 666 Fifth, from where they presided over a new and rapidly expanding empire that included former industrial buildings in Brooklyn, apartments in Maryland and development sites in Jersey City, N.J.

But they ran into trouble almost immediately. They were unable to get the office rents they expected in 2007, making it difficult to pay the initial $1.75 billion debt on the building. Then the recession hit.

[Mar 24, 2019] The tale of 666 Fifth Avenue: If your last name is Kushner id does not matter if you have money to pay for you real estate loan or not -- missing payments never result in foreclosure

Mar 24, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Susan TOP 1000 REVIEWER

The Diabolical Duo: the Sins of the Fathers March 22, 2019

As a political wonk and news junkie, I was not surprised by KUSHNER, INC., but Vicky Ward's well-sourced book is nonetheless a fascinating and maddening read. If this were a work of fiction, I would deem it unbelievable: a grade B story of political intrigue. How can this be happening, unchecked, before my eyes? How serendipitous that the book's release coincided almost exactly with news that Congressman Elijah Cummings requested details of the Kushner Kouple's use of private email and WhatsApp. And as I sit in anticipation of what I might soon learn from Robert Mueller. And as I hope for additional criminal indictments.

I assume that the majority of Vicky Ward's audience is comprised of anti-Trumpers who will be further inflamed by the chutzpah of Javanka. The tale of 666 Fifth Avenue in itself should infuriate everyone who has a mortgage: after a few missed payments, the lender stands at the front door with a foreclosure notice. On the other hand, no penalties are incurred on a $1.2 billion loan, AND a bank will lend more money if your last name is Kushner, no matter that one of the principles has been convicted of financial crimes related to real estate deals.

My takeaway from KUSHNER, INC.: not only are the Kushners sleazy, greedy, and imperious (and more than a little creepy), but they are dangerous. Jared, in particular, will go to any length to find money, even if it means secretly negotiating with actors like Qatar, while he sits in the West Wing. The amount of money the Kushner Kouple continues to make while working for the taxpayers is staggering. They follow no rules. The irony of their use of private email and WhatsApp is not lost on me, but rather than LOCK THEM UP, their defenders see nothing amiss about their chitchat with the despotic MBS and others.

Vicky Ward does nothing in her book to assuage my distrust of the Kushners and my disgust that nothing has been done to stop them. I have no doubt that any pro-Trumper who reads KUSHNER, INC. will deem the book to be a hit job, but based on Vicky Ward's sourcing (how big a role does Steve Bannon play, as he does in Michael Wolff's FIRE AND FURY?) and news reports from reputable media, I find her account to be credible. Is it any wonder that the offspring of two corrupt real estate moguls not only found one another and married, but also followed in their fathers' footsteps?

[Mar 24, 2019] Kushner Companies offloads troubled 666 Fifth Avenue flagship

Aug 03, 2018 | money.cnn.com

The Kushner Companies has finally struck a deal to get the building that was supposed to be the centerpiece of its portfolio, but instead had weighed it down for years, off its hands.

Brookfield Properties announced Friday afternoon that it has acquired a 100% leasehold interest in the building, a 1.5 million square foot property at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, for 99 years through one of its funds. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Brookfield, which has major real estate holdings around the world, said it's planning a significant redevelopment of the building.

The Kushners bought the Fifth Avenue skyscraper in 2007 for a then-record $1.8 billion. It was supposed to have been the crown jewel of their real estate empire, and Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, played a prominent role in the deal.

But the property didn't bring in as much revenue as expected, making it difficult to repay loans on the building.

The building carries $1.4 billion in debt, the bulk of which comes due in February 2019.

Jared Kushner divested his equity interest in the building when he took his current role at the White House.

Kushner Companies and Brookfield declined to comment.

Special counsel interest

CNN previously reported in February that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators were looking into Kushner's efforts to shore up financing for 666 Fifth Avenue during the presidential transition, according to people familiar with the special counsel investigation.

One line of questioning from Mueller's team involved discussions Kushner had with Chinese investors, according to the sources familiar with the inquiry.

A week after Trump's election, Kushner met with the chairman and other executives of Anbang Insurance, the Chinese conglomerate that bought the Waldorf Astoria in 2014, according to The New York Times.

Kushner divests from his most expensive NYC property

At the time, Kushner and Anbang's chairman, Wu Xiaohui, were close to finishing a deal for the Chinese insurer to invest in 666 Fifth Avenue. Talks between the two companies collapsed a few months later, according to the Times.

Mueller's team also asked about Kushner's dealings with a Qatari investor regarding the same property, according to one of the sources. Kushner and his company were negotiating for financing from a prominent Qatari investor, former prime minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, according to The Intercept. But as with Anbang, these efforts stalled.

In February, Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement, "Another anonymous source with questionable motives now contradicts the facts -- in all of Mr. Kushner's extensive cooperation with all inquiries, there has not been a single question asked nor document sought on the 666 building or Kushner Co. deals. Nor would there be any reason to question these regular business transactions."

Troubled property

The 666 Fifth Avenue purchase in 2007 was supposed to be a big break for Kushner Companies, which has roots buying middle-income housing in the tri-state area.

But it came under financial pressure during the housing crisis.

In 2011, Vornado Realty Trust stepped in with financing, taking on a 49.5% stake in the building. Vornado agreed to sell its stake back to Kushner Companies in June.

Charles Kushner, Jared's father, told CNN in April that his son expressed reservations about buying the office tower.

"I pushed Jared to do the deal," Charles said.

In the interview, the elder Kushner called the decision to purchase the property "bad timing and bad judgment."

[Mar 24, 2019] Jared Kushner's family's real estate company 'subpoenaed over investment-for-visas programme' by Samuel Osborne

They are going after Kushners, aren't they ?
Aug 03, 2017 | independent.co.uk

New York federal prosecutors have reportedly subpoenaed Kushner Companies, the New York real estate business owned by the family of Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

The subpoenea concerns the company's use of the controversial EB-5 visa programme to finance its development in New Jersey called One Journal Square, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The EB-5 programme allows wealthy foreign investors to effectively buy US immigration visas for themselves and their families by investing at least $500,000 (£378,000) in US development projects.

[Mar 24, 2019] Qatar admits it unwittingly helped bail out Jared Kushner's skyscraper The Independent

Notable quotes:
"... The Qatari wealth fund was not involved in the 666 Fifth Avenue deal, a source close to Brookfield Asset Management told Reuters . There was no requirement for Brookfield to inform the QIA beforehand. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | independent.co.uk

Fifth Avenue building cost $1.8 billion

Mr Kushner was chief executive of Kushner Companies when it acquired 666 Fifth Avenue in 2007. ( Getty )
When news emerged that Qatar may have unwittingly helped bail out a New York skyscraper owned by the family of Jared Kushner , Donald Donald Trump 's son-in-law, eyebrows were raised in Doha .

Mr Kushner, a senior White House adviser, was a close ally of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - a key architect of a regional boycott against Qatar, which Riyadh accuses of sponsoring terrorism. Doha denies the charge.

Brookfield, a global property investor in which the Qatari government has placed investments, struck a deal last year that rescued the Kushner Companies ' 666 Fifth Avenue tower in Manhattan from financial straits.

The bailout, in which Doha played no part and first learned about in the media, has prompted a rethink of how the gas-rich kingdom invests money abroad via its giant sovereign wealth fund, two sources with knowledge of the matter told the Reuters news agency.

The country has decided that the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) will aim to avoid putting money in funds or other investment vehicles it does not have full control over, according to the sources, who are familiar with the QIA's strategy.

"Qatar started looking into how its name got involved into the deal and found out it was because of a fund it co-owned," said one of the sources. "So QIA ultimately triggered a strategy revamp."

The QIA declined to comment.

Canada's Brookfield Asset Management Inc bailed out 666 Fifth Avenue via its real estate unit Brookfield Property Partners , in which the QIA acquired a 9 per cent stake five years ago. Both parent and unit declined to comment.

The QIA's strategic shift was made late last year, according to the sources. It offers a rare insight into the thinking of one of the world's most secretive sovereign wealth funds.

The revamp could have significant implications for the global investment scene because the QIA is one of the world's largest state investors, with more than $320bn (£248bn) under management.

The wealth fund has poured money into the West over the past decade, including rescuing British and Swiss banks during the 2008 financial crisis and investing in landmarks like New York's Plaza Hotel and the Savoy Hotel and Harrods store in London.

Qatari boycott

Mr Kushner was chief executive of Kushner Companies when it acquired 666 Fifth Avenue in 2007 for $1.8bn, a record at the time for a Manhattan office building. It has been a drag on his family's real estate company ever since. The debt-laden skyscraper was bailed out by Brookfield last August, when it took a 99-year lease on the property, paying the rent for 99 years upfront. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The QIA bought a 9 per cent stake in Brookfield Property Partners, which is known as BPY and is listed in Toronto and New York, for $1.8bn in 2014.

BPY has about $87bn in assets, part of more than $330bn managed by its parent Brookfield. The stake purchase by QIA was in line with its strategy to boost investments in prime US property. The investment gave QIA no seat on the board of BPY.

The Qatari wealth fund was not involved in the 666 Fifth Avenue deal, a source close to Brookfield Asset Management told Reuters . There was no requirement for Brookfield to inform the QIA beforehand.

[Mar 24, 2019] Brookfield, the fund saving Kushner, is linked to both Qatar and UAE by Jed Shugerman

May 21, 2018 | shugerblog.com
The news broke this Saturday afternoon that Donald Trump, Jr. had met George Nader, an emissary from Saudi Arabia and UAE , along with Erik Prince, Stephen Miller, and Joel Zamel, an Israeli social media expert on Aug. 3, 2016 in Trump Tower:

During the Trump Tower meeting, the Times said, George Nader, the emissary for the two crown princes, indicated that leaders in Saudi Arabia and the UAE wished to help Trump. Nader, the Times said, is now cooperating with Mueller It is not known if anything came of the alleged offer for assistance. The Times stated that Trump Jr responded "approvingly".

This report raises many enormous questions. But it also connects back to another explosive story last week: Brookfield, an enormous fund linked to Qatar, was negotiating to buy Kushner's disastrous $1.8 billion investment in 666 5th Ave. I've written a blogpost and a Google Doc timeline connecting Qatar as the possible intermediary between the Russia-Trump quid pro quo deal of lifting sanctions in return for Rosneft sale commissions. I've also written about Kushner's terrible real estate investment , and how he allegedly escalated a Gulf crisis against Qatar, which coincidentally was followed by a Qatar-linked loan of $184 million. The Brookfield deal could save Kushner from an upcoming balloon payment that his family cannot afford, which could mean financial ruin. I addressed the Qatar links in the Brookfield deal in detail at p. 11-12 of my time line here, with public sourcing. Qatar is the largest outside investor in BPY, even though that's only 9%, and I cite Wendy Siegelman's research showing how Qatar is often a lead manager in some major Brookfield projects in New York and London. We need to see the details of the deal.

And it turns out that Brookfield is also linked to the United Arab Emirates.

  1. Brookfield Property Partners (BPY) is the unit of Brookfield Assets Management that is negotiating the deal. Its annual report shows that BPY has eight directors, one of which is Soon Young Chang. See p. 109: "Dr. Chang is a member of the board of directors of Dubai World . Dr. Chang serves as Senior Advisor to the Investment Corporation of Dubai, providing strategic counsel and lending his global perspective to the investment arm of the Dubai Government. Dr. Chang is the founder and chairman of Midas International Asset Management Company, an international asset management fund which manages over $5 billion. He is also a founding partner of Sentinel Advisor, a New York-based arbitrage fund."
  2. Chang is a director of Dubai World , the investment company for the Government of Dubai, one of the two most powerful emirates in the UAE. Wikipedia summarizes: "As a subsidiary of Dubai Inc. , it is the emirate's flag bearer in global investments and has a central role in the direction of Dubai's economy. Assets include DP World , which caused considerable controversy when trying to take over six US ports " It is chaired by Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum , the youngest son of Dubai's former ruler Saeed bin Maktoum bin Hasher Al Maktoum, the half-brother of Dubai's former ruler Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum , and the uncle of Dubai's ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum .
  3. Chang advises the Investment Corporation of Dubai, the state-owned holding company, a sovereign wealth fund owned by the government. Its chair is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, "the ruler of Dubai," and the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE . He offers some interesting remarks about the 2016 election addressing conspiracy theories here ."Yes, I believe in some conspiracy theories Even during the US elections there was talk about conspiracies, but if a country says we are victims of a conspiracy and then stops working, this is a mistake. Here in the UAE we have faced conspiracies, media campaigns, economic wars. But we never stopped, it only made us more determined."
  4. Brookfield (BPY) lists (at p. F-60) one of its most significant developments as ICD Brookfield Place in Dubai, UAE ($163 million).
  5. Brookfield Asset Management's annual report states: "We currently have approximately 6 million square feet of active development projects, including properties in New York, London and Dubai." Again, BAM highlights Dubai. One of their eight corporate offices is in Dubai.

There was excellent coverage of the Saudi Arabia/UAE meeting over the weekend. I highly recommend Chris Hayes's interview of Middle East expert Dexter Filkins here . Filkins explains the axis of conflict in the Middle East of Saudi/UAE/Egypt (plus Israel) vs. Iran/Syria/Lebanon, with Qatar getting caught in between. One might wonder if UAE and Qatar are at odds, why would they both be involved in the same deal to help Kushner? If UAE had made an arrangement with the Trump campaign, Qatar had even more incentive to be helpful and not get frozen out. The Saudi/UAE blockade of April 2017 show the risks of not being in with the Trump administration. (Filkins puzzles at how Kushner knew all about this blockade before it happened, while Tillerson and Mattis were in the dark ) It is conceivable that Qatar was either cooperating with UAE or competing with UAE in assisting the Trump campaign. The Brookfield negotiations might reflect Qatar's response to the blockade "stick" by offering cooperating now with UAE in return for a carrot.

Another innocent explanation is that both Qatar and UAE have so much cash, and they are often in the middle of massive energy and real estate deals around the world. It may actually be a coincidence that Qatar and UAE keep showing up in these events. But the number of coincidences are remarkable, and it is a problem that anyone has a reasonable doubt that the Trump administration is compromised by massive debts, foreign bailouts, and rampant conflicts of interest.

I am speculating from public reports and connecting dots. Nader is reportedly cooperating with Mueller, but so far we see no smoking gun. I don't have any conclusions here, just three observations and three questions: It is clear that Soon Young Chang has significant relations with UAE's upper-most leadership. It is clear that Brookfield has a significant relationship with UAE. And it is now reported that UAE sent an emissary to the Trump campaign to discuss assisting it. What does Soon Young Chang know? And when did he know it? What does George Nader know? And when did he know it? What does Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum know? And when did he know it? Brookfield's annual report states under "conflicts of interest": "While Brookfield acts in good faith to resolve all potential conflicts in a manner that is fair and balanced taking into account the facts and circumstances known to it at the time, there can be no assurance that any determination made by Brookfield will be most beneficial to us, favorable to us or would not have been different if additional information were available to it." I'd like to hear Brookfield address this massive conflict of interest, from the UAE and Soon Young Chang, to Qatar, and to Kushner. Maybe their investors would like an explanation, too.

[Mar 24, 2019] The Curse of 666 Fifth Avenue, the Skyscraper That Could Sink the Kushners

Mar 24, 2019 | www.thedailybeast.com

According to a report by NBC News , special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators are looking at multiple efforts made by Kushner to obtain financing for the project from the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, but they were rejected. Later Qatar's neighbors in the Persian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, began a blockade against Qatar, alleging that the state was a supporter of terrorism. As a Trump adviser on Middle East policy, Kushner, with close ties to Saudi Arabia, was a party to launching this blockade. This and other attempts to get financing for 666 Fifth from Russia, China, and Turkey have drawn the investigators to scrutinize what seem to be Kushner's serious conflicts of interest.

[Mar 20, 2019] Bad Blood - Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou - Observations by Walrus.

Notable quotes:
"... I read this book over two nights and it unfortunately brought back my own experiences of working for a narcissist to the point of causing sleeplessness and indigestion. ..."
"... However the pattern of behavior at Theranos was ingrained and consistent - "an orchestrated litany of lies" as a judge has said in another matter. ..."
"... This is a similar personality type with a different set of risks. These people are common in finance and medicine: https://www.theatlantic.com... ..."
"... In the absence of a moral filter, says Martha Stout[1], "Politicians are more likely than people in the general population to be sociopaths...That a small minority of human beings literally have no conscience was and is a bitter pill for our society to swallow–but it does explain a great many things, shamelessly deceitful political behavior being one." ..."
turcopolier.typepad.com

I wrote in 2010 at SST on the characteristics and dangers associated with narcissistic leadership. "Bad Blood' by John Carreyrou chronicles the rise and fall of Theranos, a Silicon Valley healthcare startup founded and run by Elizabeth Holmes, a card carrying narcissist if ever I saw one.

This book, in my opinion, paints such a detailed and comprehensive picture of the way these creatures operate that I thought it worthwhile to bring it to the attention of SST members who may doubt my warnings of the dangers of allowing such folk near the levers of power in business and, worse, Government.

I read this book over two nights and it unfortunately brought back my own experiences of working for a narcissist to the point of causing sleeplessness and indigestion.

Under the direction of the charismatic Holmes, Theranos burned through some $900 million in investors funds before being found out in 2015. Their blood testing business was a sham that endangered patients. The company's key business strengths were the "reality distortion field" Elizabeth Holmes projected over investors and directors and the twin weapons of secrecy and fear they wielded over their employees.

Disbelievers my argue that start up companies sometimes require desperate measures to stay afloat and that you cannot make an omelette, etc. etc. However the pattern of behavior at Theranos was ingrained and consistent - "an orchestrated litany of lies" as a judge has said in another matter.

If you wish to perhaps be a little forearmed against the day that you perhaps must engage with one of these creatures it would be well to understand the cautionary tale of Theranos. https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Blood-Secrets-Silicon-Startup/dp/152473165X https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2010/05/walrus-on-narcissistic-leaders-.html

jnewman , 3 hours ago

This is a similar personality type with a different set of risks. These people are common in finance and medicine: https://www.theatlantic.com...
Godfree Roberts , 8 hours ago
In the absence of a moral filter, says Martha Stout[1], "Politicians are more likely than people in the general population to be sociopaths...That a small minority of human beings literally have no conscience was and is a bitter pill for our society to swallow–but it does explain a great many things, shamelessly deceitful political behavior being one."

My study of Chinese government revealed an important truth -- one that explains much about that country's rapid rise: they find our amateur, promise-driven, personality-based governance repulsive. They would no more vote for amateur politicians than for amateur brain surgeons. To them charm, good looks, quick wits and rhetorical skill signify shallowness, instability and glibness. Altruistic politicians have been fundamental to Chinese governance for two millennia.

Their political stars have always been experienced, scholarly, altruistic problem-solvers chosen on merit after decades of testing.

In 1000 AD, during our Dark Ages, with just one scholar-official for every eight thousand citizens, China was harmonious, technologically advanced and prosperous. Emperors and dynasties came and went while loyal, disciplined–often courageous–civil servants lived far from family, serving in remote regions under terrible conditions.

Confucius'[2] moral meritocracy and the rigors of the job discouraged sociopaths and officials integrity, efficiency and entrepreneurial energy made China the most advanced civilization on earth.

So highly do the Chinese esteem their best politicians that they deified one whose legacy, a water diversion project, has repaid its capital investment every twenty-four hours for 2,270 years. Millions visit his shrine, which is built overlooking his masterpiece, every year to offer incense and sincere thanks.

The altruistic tradition is remembered in a Singapore Government White Paper, "The concept of government by honorable men who have a duty to do right for the people and who have their trust and respect fits us better than the Western idea that government power should be as limited as possible."

And would-be members of China's Communist Party take an oath to "Bear the people's difficulties before the people and enjoy their fruits of their labors after the people". They often fail, obviously, but at least they've got something to shoot for–and a standard that the other 1.3 billion non-members can hold them to.

[1] The Sociopath Next Door, by Martha Stout Ph.D.
[2] The Doctrine of the Mean

[Mar 18, 2019] College-entrance-exam cheating scandal exposes corrupt aristocracy (Video)

Mar 18, 2019 | theduran.com

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran's Alex Christoforou take a quick look at the college admissions scam revolving around William Rick Singer, who was running a for-profit college-counseling program, where according to federal prosecutors, has a goal focused on helping "the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school."

Arrest warrants for Hollywood stars, Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, were delivered on Tuesday following their alleged involvement in a college-entrance-exam cheating scandal.

According to CNN, the women were two of around 50 people who were the subject of federal indictment following an extensive FBI investigation named "Operation Varsity Blues."

Loughlin's husband, Mossimo Giannulli, was also implicated, and was arrested early on Tuesday morning.

TMZ reported that Huffman was arrested by seven armed FBI agents. Her husband, William H. Macy, has not been charged in connection to the case. Loughlin, Giannulli, and Huffman are all facing charges of felony conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Huffman is accused of spending $15,000 on an organization that allegedly helped her daughter cheat on her SATs. Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 to get their daughters into University of Southern California as recruits for the crew team for which neither of Loughlin's daughters rowed crew.

All three were recorded by the FBI on phone calls discussing their plans to alter or lie about their children's college applications.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/DCX35SWyrSU?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Via Zerohedge


Is there anything left in this country that has not been deeply tainted by corruption?

By now you have probably heard that dozens of people have been arrested for participating in a multi-million dollar college admissions scam. Enormous amounts of money were paid out in order to ensure that children from very wealthy families were able to get into top schools such as Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Texas and the University of Southern California. And as The Economic Collapse blog's Michael Snyder writes, we should certainly be disgusted by these revelations, but we shouldn't be surprised. Such corruption happens every single day on every single level of society in America. At this point our nation is so far gone that it is shocking when you run into someone that actually still has some integrity.

The "mastermind" behind this college admissions scam was a con man named William Rick Singer. He had been successfully getting the kids of wealthy people into top colleges for years using "side doors", and he probably thought that he would never get caught.

But he did.

There were four basic methods that Singer used to get children from wealthy families into elite schools. The first two methods involved bribes

Bribing college entrance exam administrators to allow a third party to facilitate cheating on college entrance exams, in some cases by posing as actual students,' is the first.

Bribing university athletic coaches and administrators to designate applicants as purported athletic recruits – regardless of their athletic abilities, and in some cases, even though they did not play the sport,' is the second.

Because many of these kids didn't even play the sports they were being "recruited" for, in some cases Photoshop was used to paste their faces on to the bodies of real athletes

In order to get non-athletic kids admitted to college as athletes, Singer often had to create fake profiles for them. Sometimes this involved fabricating resumes that listed them having played on elite club teams, but to finish the illusion Singer and his team would also use Photoshop to combine photos of the kids with actual athletes in the sport.

A number of college coaches became exceedingly wealthy from taking bribes to "recruit" kids that would never play once they got to school, but now a lot of those same coaches are probably going to prison.

The third and fourth methods that Singer used involved more direct forms of cheating

'Having a third party take classes in place of the actual students, with the understanding that the grades earned in those classes would be submitted as part of the students' application,' is the third.

The fourth was 'submitting falsified applications for admission to universities that, among other things, included the fraudulently obtained exam scores and class grades, and often listed fake awards and athletic activities.'

Of course the main thing that the media is focusing on is the fact that some celebrities are among those being charged in this case, and that includes Lori Loughlin from "Full House"

It was important to "Full House" star Lori Loughlin that her kids have "the college experience" that she missed out on, she said back in 2016.

Loughlin, along with "Desperate Housewives" actress Felicity Huffman, is among those charged in a scheme in which parents allegedly bribed college coaches and insiders at testing centers to help get their children into some of the most elite schools in the country, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Despite how cynical I have become lately, I never would have guessed that Lori Loughlin was capable of such corruption.

After all, she seems like such a nice lady on television.

But apparently she was extremely determined to make sure that her daughters had "the college experience", and so Loughlin and her husband shelled out half a million dollars in bribes

Loughlin and Giannulli 'agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team – despite the fact that they did not participate in crew – thereby facilitating their admission to USC,' according to the documents.

As bad as this scandal is, can we really say that it is much worse than what is going on around the rest of the country every single day?

Of course not.

We are a very sick nation, and we are getting sicker by the day.

William Rick Singer had a good con going, and he should have stopped while he was ahead

William "Rick" Singer said he had the inside scoop on getting into college, and anyone could get in on it with his book, "Getting In: Gaining Admission To Your College of Choice."

"This book is full of secrets," he said in Chapter 1 before dispensing advice on personal branding, test-taking and college essays.

But Singer had even bigger secrets, and those would cost up to $1.2 million.

But like most con men, Singer just had to keep pushing the envelope, and in the end it is going to cost him everything.

The ironic thing is that our colleges and universities are pulling an even bigger con. They have convinced all of us that a college education is the key to a bright future, but meanwhile the quality of the "education" that they are providing has deteriorated dramatically. I spent eight years in school getting three degrees, and so I know what I am talking about. For much more on all this, please see my recent article entitled "50 Actual College Course Titles That Prove That America's Universities Are Training Our College Students To Be Socialists" .

I know that it is not fashionable to talk about "morality" and "values" these days, but the truth is that history has shown us that any nation that is deeply corrupt is not likely to survive for very long.

Our founders understood this, and former president John Adams once stated that our Constitution "was made only for a moral and religious people"

Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Today, we are neither moral or religious.


What we are is deeply corrupt, and America will not survive if we keep going down this path.

[Mar 04, 2019] Gangster Capitalism: The United States and the Globalization of Organized Crime

November 16, 2008

A very timely book , November 16, 2008 Joseph Oppenheim (San Diego, CA USA) - See all my reviews

What makes "Gangster Capitalism" so worthwhile is that it helps in understanding what has led us to the 2007-8 financial meltdown. As the book shows, like during the 1920's, deregulation led the way for powerful companies to allow the very wealthy to get wealthier at the expense of average people by using poor working conditions, low wages, etc, plus at the same time supporting supposedly moral movements (against gambling, alcohol, drugs, etc) which mainly served the purpose of making these trades more profitable to crooks and therefore created rampant gangsterism there. The result was such a society wracked with gangsterism at all levels, but because most people felt they were prospering, few complained.

But, then it all collapsed with the 1929 crash and resulting Depression, which led the way for FDR and the New Deal programs which increased regulation of corporations, repeal of Prohibition, etc. Though the Depression lingered until WWII, the New Deal was successful in restructuring our laws and public infrastructure to create a better footing for the prosperity which would follow.

The book effectively traces how much of this regulation was reduced piece by piece, beginning in earnest with Nixon, using Cold War fears to tilt the nation toward more corporate power and away from reform, support of right-wing dictators around the world, re-energizing a 'moral crusade' especially by beginning the War on Drugs, thereby making the illegal drug trade super profitable, etc.

The nation had shifted Right and even Democratic presidents like Carter who was instrumental in deregulating industry and Clinton who signed into law the repeal of Glass--Steagle weren't able to stop the shift. Then, the 'Gangster Capitalism" went on steroids with G. W. Bush. By 2003, corporate taxes only amounted to 7% of revenues, while payroll taxes amounted to 40%.

Of note, the book makes clear it is opportunity which leads to much crime, so the approach of massive deregulation of corporations, plus focusing on arrests and imprisonment for victimless crimes ends up with the wrong results, more entrenched crime, even allowing corporations to capitalize on a prison industry.

The book is also good at highlighting how corporations and outright gangsters were able to corrupt legal drugs (price-fixing), tobacco, asbestos, body parts, autos (Pintos), etc. Some other things in the book, of note: Hamid Karzai included drug traffickers in his Afghan administration.

And, our support of Suharto (Indonesia), Mobuto (the Congo), and Marcos (the Philippines) allowed 'looting' of these countries.

A corrupt financial infrastructure included the BCCI bank and offshore banking to evade taxes also developed. Plus, laundering money from illegal arms sales, drugs, and so many other illegal activities passed through our financial system.

The book is definitely tilted toward a liberal way of looking at things, therefore it doesn't go into the good things about capitalism, but there are disturbing patterns which are important to understand, and this book does that very well.

By James R. Maclean (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

Wasted opportunity , September 6, 2006

Despite the fact that I was predisposed to agree with many of the author's views, this book was a huge disappointment. First, the basic premises:
  1. American business enterprise is singularly corrupt;
  2. Most of the crime that Americans suffer from is corporate crime;
  3. American methods of fighting crime focus on lurid fantasies of underworld conspiracy;
  4. The USA exports criminality through its foreign & trade policies.

Each of these premises could have been, and in other venues have been, well-argued. The first three suffer from a lack of generally accepted, objective measures, but experts on criminology have overcome worse obstacles. What we get instead is an unfocused, rambling listing of claims (plausible, but very poorly documented) about the criminal underworld, anecdotes about corporate crime, and extreme statements. No doubt "legitimate" business enterprise does rip off more money from customers each year than do gangsters or mafiosi; but the latter also account for a tiny fraction of the total US labor force. And comparing deaths from industrial accidents to mob hits is just over the top.

Woodiwiss says that the book

"had its inception during a seminar series on transnational organized crime run by Adam Edwards and Peter Gill... Adam and Peter put together several of the best academic researchers from Europe and North America...."

Yet the book is exasperatingly badly substantiated. I noticed almost no original research. Woodiwiss's footnotes, which--like cops--are never around when you need them (viz., when he is actually saying something that requires documentation), are almost exclusively from articles in the *Guardian* or from other sensational exposes. Radical literature has its place, of course, but saying, "US capitalism is just like organized crime... see, it says so in 'The New Left Review'" is just a harangue, not evidence.

The back cover declaims:

"..[T]he position of large multinational corporations...actually provide the most enticing opportunities for illegal profit... Gangster Capitalism shows how respectable businessmen and revered statesmen have seized these opportunities in an orgy of fraud and illegal violence that would leave the most hardened mafiosi speechless."

In fact, it's a disappointing pile of clippings. With the exception of his claims--again, plausible but unsubstantiated--you are not going to find any surprises here.

As I mentioned, he attacks conventional wisdom regarding the mafia and J. Edgar Hoover (who comes off surprisingly well); unfortunately, Woodiwiss offers almost no support for those contentions that are likely to be controversial.

For example, on p.78 he mentions President [Nixon]'s Advisory Council on Executive Organization, "Organized Crime Strike Force Report" [1969], which included a vaguely worded remark that the reliance on legal sanctions to fight drug abuse was actually causing organized crime to flourish." This is footnoted.

Then he says that Nixon was so horrified by this that he ruthlessly suppressed the report. This is not footnoted.

The next paragraph (p.49) includes a quote from a law enforcement officer claiming that gambling arrests were made just to pad the arrest numbers; this is footnoted. The next paragraph declares that gambling is no more corrupt than the rest of the economy. A surprising observation, it is predictably not footnoted.

The result: lots of footnotes documenting that water is a bit on the damp side, but nothing to support the controversial stuff. Only a small part is devoted to crime; the rest is a paste-up job from two dozen radical critiques of the USA.

Anything from the 1971 ditching of the gold exchange standard to the various covert activities of the CIA are brought up, with no more compelling a connection to Woodiwiss' original point than being bad things that Americans did.

The conclusions are so insipid (it calls for "fair trade" with no further specification of how that would be any different... capital punishment for corporations--evidently Mr. Woodiwiss has never heard of 'money laundering,' in which a vehicle corporation commits suicide), that it is pointless to spend any time on them.

Woodiwiss needs to actually learn something about economics; ironically enough, for someone who claims business is closely tied to crime, he knows almost nothing about it. He needs to know, and say what he knows, about law enforcement and business practices abroad, so he can make a comparison. And finally, he needs to actually learn how to write.

[Mar 02, 2019] The Trump presidency From the Manhattan underworld to the White House by Patrick Martin

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Trump's "opposition" in the Democratic Party is no less hostile to democratic rights. They have focused their anti-Trump campaign on bogus allegations that he is a Russian agent, while portraying the emergence of social divisions within the United States as the consequence of Russian "meddling," not the crisis of capitalism, and pushing for across-the-board internet censorship. ..."
Mar 01, 2019 | www.wsws.org

"The finance aristocracy, in its mode of acquisition as well as in its pleasures, is nothing but the rebirth of the lumpenproletariat on the heights of bourgeois society ." -- Karl Marx, The Class Struggles in France

What Marx described, in his analysis of the corruption of the bourgeoisie in France leading up to the 1848 revolution, applies with even greater force to the United States of 2019, where the bourgeoisie faces its own rendezvous with social upheaval and explosive class battles.

That is how a Marxist understands the spectacle of Wednesday's hearing before the House Oversight Committee, in which Michael Cohen, the former attorney and "fixer" for Donald Trump for more than a decade, testified for six hours about how he and his boss worked to defraud business partners and tax collectors, intimidate critics and suppress opposition to Trump's acitvities in real estate, casino gambling, reality television and, eventually, electoral politics.

What Cohen described was a seedier version of an operation that most Americans would recognize from viewing films like The Godfather: Trump as the capo di tutti capi, the unquestioned authority who must be consulted on every decision ; the children, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric, each now playing significant roles in the ongoing family criminal enterprise; Allen Weisselberg, CFO of the Trump Organization, the consigliere in charge of finance, mentioned by Cohen more than 20 times in the course of six hours of testimony as the man who facilitated Trump's schemes to evade taxes, deceive banks or stiff business partners.

Cohen himself was an enforcer. By his own account, he threatened people on Trump's behalf at least 500 times in a ten-year period, including business associates, politicians, journalists and anyone seeking to file complaints or gain reimbursement after being defrauded by one or another Trump venture. The now-disbarred lawyer admitted to tape recording clients -- including Trump among many others -- more than 100 times during this period.

The incidents recounted by Cohen range from the farcical (Trump browbeating colleges and even his military prep school not to release his grades or test scores), to the shabby (Trump having his own "charitable" foundation buy a portrait of himself for $60,000), to the brazenly criminal (deliberately inflating the value of properties when applying for bank loans while deflating the value of the same properties as much as twenty-fold in order to evade taxation).

One of the most remarkable revelations was Cohen's flat assertion that Trump himself did not enter the presidential race with the expectation that he could win either the Republican nomination or the presidency. Instead, the billionaire reality television "star" regularly told his closest aides, the campaign would be the "greatest infomercial in political history," good for promoting his brand and opening up business opportunities in previously closed markets.

These unflattering details filled the pages of the daily newspapers Thursday and occupied many hours on the cable television news. But in all that vast volume of reporting and commentary, one would look in vain for any serious assessment of what it means, in terms of the historical development and future trajectory of American society, that a family like the Trumps now occupies the highest rung in the US political system.

The World Socialist Web Site rejects efforts by the Democrats and the corporate media to dismiss Trump as an aberration, an accidental figure whose unexpected elevation to the presidency in 2016 will be "corrected" through impeachment, forced resignation or electoral defeat in 2020. We insist that the Trump administration is a manifestation of a protracted crisis and breakdown of American democracy, whose course can be traced back at least two decades to the failed impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998-99, followed by the stolen presidential election of 2000.

The US political system, always dominated by the interests of the capitalist ruling class that controls both of the major parties, the Democrats as much as the Republicans, is breaking down under the burden of mounting social tensions, driven above all by skyrocketing economic inequality. It is impossible to sustain the pretense that elections at two-year and four-year intervals provide genuine popular influence over the functioning of a government so completely subordinated to the financial aristocracy.

The figures are familiar but require restating: over the past three decades, virtually all the increase in wealth in American society has gone to a tiny layer at the top. Three mega-billionaires -- Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates -- now control more wealth than half the American population. This process of social polarization is global: according to the most recent Oxfam report, 26 billionaires control more wealth than the poorer half of the human race.

These billionaires did not accumulate their riches by devising new technologies or making new scientific discoveries that increased the wealth and happiness of humanity as a whole. On the contrary, their enrichment has come at the expense of society. Bezos has become the world's richest man through the emergence of Amazon as the greatest sweatshop enterprise in history, where every possible second of labor power is extracted from a brutally exploited workforce.

The class of billionaires as a whole, having precipitated the global financial collapse of 2008 through reckless speculation and swindling in the sale of derivatives and other obscure financial "products," was bailed out, first by the Republican Bush, then by the Democrat Obama, to the tune of trillions of dollars. Meanwhile, the jobs, living standards and social conditions for the great mass of working people sharply declined.

As for Donald Trump, the real estate swindler, casino con man and reality television mogul is a living demonstration of the truth of Balzac's aphorism: "Behind every great fortune is a great crime."

Trump toyed with running for president on the ultra-right Reform Party ticket in 2000 after a long stint as a registered Democrat and donor to both capitalist parties. When he decided to run for president as a Republican in 2016, however, he had shifted drastically to the right. His candidacy marked the emergence of a distinctly fascistic movement, as he spewed anti-immigrant prejudice and racism more generally, while making a right-wing populist appeal to working people, particularly in de-industrialized areas in the Midwest and Appalachia, on the basis of economic nationalism.

As World Socialist Web Site editorial board Chairman David North explained even before the 2016 elections:

The Republican nominee for the presidency of the United States did not emerge from an American version of a Munich beer hall. Donald Trump is a billionaire, who made his money in Manhattan real estate swindles, the semi-criminal operations of casino gambling, and the bizarre world of "reality television," which entertains and stupefies its audience by manufacturing absurd, disgusting and essentially fictional "real life" situations. The candidacy of Donald Trump could be described as the transfer of the techniques of reality television to politics.

The main development in the two years since Trump entered the White House is the emergence of the American working class into major struggles, beginning with the wave of teachers' strikes in 2018, initiated by the rank and file in defiance of the bureaucratic unions. The reaction in the American ruling elite is a panic-stricken turn to authoritarian methods of rule.

The billionaire in the White House is now engaged in a systematic assault on the foundations of American democracy. He has declared a national emergency in order to bypass Congress, which holds the constitutional "power of the purse," and divert funds from the military and other federal departments to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.

Whether or not he is immediately successful in this effort, it is clear that Trump is moving towards the establishment of an authoritarian regime, with or without the sanction of the ballot box. As Cohen observed in his closing statement -- in remarks generally downplayed by the media and ignored by the Democrats -- he is worried that if Trump loses the 2020 election, "there will never be a peaceful transition of power."

Trump's "opposition" in the Democratic Party is no less hostile to democratic rights. They have focused their anti-Trump campaign on bogus allegations that he is a Russian agent, while portraying the emergence of social divisions within the United States as the consequence of Russian "meddling," not the crisis of capitalism, and pushing for across-the-board internet censorship.

The defense of democratic rights and genuine resistance to Trump's drive toward authoritarian rule must come through the development of an independent political movement of the working class, directed against both big business parties, the Democrats as much as the Republicans, and against the profit system which they both defend.

[Feb 13, 2019] There's Something Eerily Familiar About the West's Approach to Venezuela

Notable quotes:
"... Erdogan has used it in Turkey ( less than three years ago ) and it was a common line in the forgotten 1930s used by none other than Mussolini. And now I quote Trump's US secretary of state Michael Pompeo on Maduro : "Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you're in league with Maduro and his mayhem." ..."
"... Rigged elections? No doubt about it, although al-Sisi still maintains that his last triumph at the polls – a cracking 97 per cent – was a free and fair election. President Trump sent his "sincere congratulations" . Political prisoners? Well, the total is 60,000 and rising . Oh yes, and Maduro's last victory – a rigged election if ever there was one, of course – was a mere 67.84 per cent. ..."
"... Now the Americans are negotiating with the "terrorist" Taliban in Qatar so they can get the hell out of the Graveyard of Empires after 17 years of military setbacks, scandals and defeats – not to mention running a few torture camps which even Maduro would cough to look at. ..."
Feb 13, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

Erdogan has used it in Turkey ( less than three years ago ) and it was a common line in the forgotten 1930s used by none other than Mussolini. And now I quote Trump's US secretary of state Michael Pompeo on Maduro : "Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you're in league with Maduro and his mayhem."

You get the point. Now is the time for all good people to stand alongside the United States, the EU, the nations of Latin America – or do you support the Russkies, Chinese, Iranian headbangers, the perfidious Corbyn and (of all people) the Greeks? Talking of the Greeks, European pressure on Alexis Tsipras to conform to the EU's support for Guaido – proving that the EU can indeed bully its smaller members – is a good argument for Brexiteers (though far too complex for them to understand).

But first, let's take a look at our favourite tyrant, in the words of all who oppose him. He's a powerful dictator, surrounded by generals, suppressing his people, using torture, mass arrests, secret police murders, rigged elections, political prisoners – so no wonder we gave our support to those who wish to overthrow this brutal man and stage democratic elections.

Not a bad precis of our current policy towards the Maduro regime. But I am referring, of course, word-for-word, to the west's policy towards the Assad regime in Syria. And our support for opposition democracy there wasn't terribly successful.

We were not solely responsible for the Syrian civil war – but we were not guiltless since we sent an awful lot of weapons to those trying to overthrow Assad. And last month the notepad of US national security advisor John Bolton appeared to boast a plan to send 5,000 US troops to Colombia

And now let's tick the box on another Maduro-lookalike – at least from the west's simplistic point of view: the military-backed elected field marshal-president al-Sisi of Egypt, whom we love, admire and protect. Powerful dictator? Yup. Surrounded and supported by generals? You bet, not least because he locked up a rival general before the last election. Suppression? Absolutely – all in the interest of crushing "terrorism", of course.

Mass arrests? Happily yes, for all the inmates of Egypt's savage prison system are "terrorists", at least according to the field marshal-president himself. Secret police murders? Well, even forgetting the young Italian student suspected by his government to have been allegedly tortured and bumped off by one of Sisi's top Egyptian cops, there's a roll call of disappeared activists.

Rigged elections? No doubt about it, although al-Sisi still maintains that his last triumph at the polls – a cracking 97 per cent – was a free and fair election. President Trump sent his "sincere congratulations" . Political prisoners? Well, the total is 60,000 and rising . Oh yes, and Maduro's last victory – a rigged election if ever there was one, of course – was a mere 67.84 per cent.

As the late sage of the Sunday Express , John Gordon, might have said: it makes you sit up a bit. So, too, I suppose, when we glance a bit further eastwards to Afghanistan, whose Taliban rulers were routed in 2001 by the US, whose post-9/11 troops and statesmen ushered in a new life of democracy, then corruption, warlordism and civil war.

The "democracy" bit quickly came unstuck when "loya jurgas", grand councils, turned into tribal playpens and the Americans announced that it would be an exaggeration to think that we could achieve "Jeffersonian democracy" in Afghanistan. Too true.

Now the Americans are negotiating with the "terrorist" Taliban in Qatar so they can get the hell out of the Graveyard of Empires after 17 years of military setbacks, scandals and defeats – not to mention running a few torture camps which even Maduro would cough to look at.

Now all this may not encourage you to walk down memory lane. And I haven't even listed the sins of Saddam, let alone our continuing and cosy relationship – amazing as it still seems – with that Gulf state whose lads strangled, chopped up and secretly buried a US-resident journalist in Turkey.

Now just imagine if Maduro, tired of a journalist critic slandering him in Miami, decided to lure him to the Venezuelan embassy in Washington and top the poor guy, slice him up and bury him secretly in Foggy Bottom. Well now, I have a feeling that sanctions might have been applied to Maduro a long time ago. But not to Saudi Arabia, of course, where we are very definitely not advocating democracy.

"Now is the time for democracy and prosperity in Venezuela," quoth John Bolton this week. Oh, yes indeed. Maduro runs an oil-soaked nation yet its people starve. He is an unworthy, foolish and vain man, even if he's not Saddamite in his crimes. He was rightly described by a colleague as a dreary tyrant. He even looks like the kind of guy who tied ladies to railway lines in silent movies.

So good luck to Guaido. Palpably a nice guy, speaks eloquently, wise to stick to aid for the poor and fresh elections rather than dwell on just how exactly Maduro and his military chums are going to be booted out.

In other words, good luck – but watch out. Instead of pleading with those who will not support him – the Greeks, for example – he might take a closer look at who his foreign friends are. And do a quick track record on their more recent crusades for freedom, democracy and the right to life. And by the way, I haven't even mentioned Libya.

[Feb 12, 2019] Regime Change Made in the USA by Steve Ellner

Looks like events have complex dynamics and Washington did not fully understand possible blowback from its actions to unseat Maduro.
As usual Trump administration actions are not consistent with the rule of law and elementary knowledge of international relations. It's pure imperial bulling and as such it might well backfire. In addition to the albatross of John Bolton around his neck, the neocons put Elliott Abrams? looks like there are no decent diplomats/ bureaucrats willing to work (and risk their careers) with Trump...
Notable quotes:
"... Furthermore, Venezuelans will perceive any sign of economic recovery under a Guaidó government as made possible by aid, if not handouts, from Washington, designed to discredit Maduro's socialist government, though such assistance will undoubtedly be used to further U.S. economic and political interests. In fact, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton has indicated that he is already calling on oil companies to opt for investments in Venezuela once Maduro is overthrown. ..."
"... The U.S. effort to encourage the military to step in was again made evident on Wednesday in a tweet by John Bolton . ..."
"... The Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The Trump administration's blatant and undisguised interventionism may in fact backfire and help Maduro counter his sagging poll numbers, which last October the polling firm Datanálisis reported was 23 percent. Maduro recently lashed out on Twitter at the close nexus between Washington and the opposition, saying "Aren't you embarrassed at yourselves, ashamed at the way every day by Twitter Mike Pence, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo tell you what you should do." ..."
"... Anti-imperialism is, of course, a major cornerstone of the Chavista movement, born from resentment of U.S. interventionism and heavy-handedness that had for decades controlled many of Venezuela's resources and dictated its economic policies. The maneuvers of the Trump administration and its allies only double down on this narrative, and are counterproductive at best when it comes to solving the crisis. Their actions also risk fanning the flames of anti-Americanism throughout the continent ..."
"... Meanwhile, President Donald Trump appointed neocon Elliott Abrams as special envoy to Venezuela. As a longtime U.S. diplomat, Abrams has in many ways personified the application of the Monroe Doctrine with his blatant disregard for human rights violations and the principle of non-intervention in Guatemala , Nicaragua, and El Salvador in the 1980s and his alleged involvement in the 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez. ..."
"... While condemning anti-democratic actions and fraudulent elections in Venezuela, these sanctions ignore the rule of law. The Maduro government was never given the opportunity to defend itself and legal procedures were not followed ..."
"... Yet regardless of short-term results of U.S. support for Guaidó, the final outcome will be negative. There are a number of reasons why: first, it bolsters the position of the most radical elements of the opposition led by the VP party, thus contributing to the fragmentation of the anti-Chavista movement. Second, it attaches a "made in U.S.A." label to those positioned to govern should Maduro fall. ..."
"... the appeal to the military to save Venezuela has terrifying implications for a continent with a long history of military rule. And finally, the seizure of Venezuelan assets, which have then been turned over to a political ally, violates sacred norms of property rights, and in the process erodes confidence in the system of private property ..."
"... NACLA: Report on the Americas ..."
"... Latin American Perspectives ..."
"... The intention behind the pressure directed at Venezuela is quite clear: the current government is being told to resign and hand power over to a selected member of the opposition. To advance this strategy, various degrees of, frankly, organized crime style threats of punishment or positive inducement are daily publicized, iterated by US public officials. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Trump's backing of Juan Guaidó's shadow government could weaken the opposition's longstanding support among the majority of Venezuelans, writes Steve Ellner.

Since its outset, the Trump administration has ratcheted up pressure on Venezuela and radicalized its positions. In the process, the Venezuelan opposition has become more and more associated with -- and dependent on -- Washington and its allies. An example is the opposition protests that occurred last week. The actions were timed to coincide with the European Union's " ultimatum ," which stated they would recognize the shadow government of Juan Guaidó if President Nicolás Maduro had not called elections within a week's time.

The opposition's most radical sectors, which include Guaidó's Voluntad Popular party (VP) along with former presidential candidate María Corina Machado, have always had close ties with the United States. Guaidó, as well as VP head Leopoldo López and the VP's Carlos Vecchio, who is the shadow government's chargé d'affaires in Washington, were educated in prestigious U.S. universities -- not uncommon among Latin American economic and political elites. The ties between the opposition and international actors are strong: last weekend, Vecchio called the campaign to unseat Maduro "an international effort ." At the same time, Guaidó, referring to opposition-called protests, stated "today, February 2, we are going to meet again in the streets to show our gratitude to the support that the European Parliament has given us." In doing so, Guaidó explicitly connected the authority of outside countries to his own assumption of leadership.

The outcome of Washington's actions is bound to be unfavorable in a number of ways, regardless of whether or not they achieve regime change. Most importantly, a government headed by Guaidó will be perceived both by Venezuelans and international observers as "made in U.S.A." Further, the opposition's association with foreign powers has enabled the Maduro leadership to keep discontented members of the Chavista movement in their ranks.

Furthermore, Venezuelans will perceive any sign of economic recovery under a Guaidó government as made possible by aid, if not handouts, from Washington, designed to discredit Maduro's socialist government, though such assistance will undoubtedly be used to further U.S. economic and political interests. In fact, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton has indicated that he is already calling on oil companies to opt for investments in Venezuela once Maduro is overthrown. As he told Fox News , "we're in conversation with major American companies now It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela."

Washington Dictating Strategy

Either explicitly or implicitly, Washington is dictating strategy, or at least providing input into its formulation. One of the challenges the opposition faces is the need to demonstrate to rank-and-file Venezuelans that the current offensive against Maduro will be different from the disastrous attempts of 2014 and 2017, when anti-government leaders assured protesters that the president would be toppled in a matter of days. The opposition leadership claims that this time is different for two reasons. First, the regional Right turn has deepened, and the opposition is more able than ever to rely on decisive support from Washington and other governments, regardless of how democratic they are -- see the neofascist credentials of Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro .

Second, the opposition is counting on the backing of military officers, particularly lower-ranking ones who have allegedly lost patience with Maduro. In addition to some defections, junior officers attempted to stage a military coup just two days before mass opposition protests on Jan. 23 when Guaidó declared himself president. Previously, the Venezuelan opposition expressed a degree of contempt for military officers for their unwillingness to defy the Chavista government. The opposition's new perspective dates back to Trump's three meetings with military rebels and his statement , made alongside President Iván Duque of Colombia in September of last year, that the Maduro government "could be toppled very quickly by the military if the military decides to do that." The U.S. effort to encourage the military to step in was again made evident on Wednesday in a tweet by John Bolton .

Recently, Guaidó made a similar offer to military officers, implying continuity and closeness between Washington and the shadow government.

Also noteworthy is that Guaidó and other VP leaders are closer to Washington than the rest of the opposition. The Wall Street Journal reported that Guaidó consulted Vice President Mike Pence the night before his self-proclamation as president on Jan. 23. According to ex-presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski the majority of the opposition parties were not aware of Guaidó's intentions and in fact did not support the idea.

Calling on Military

To make matters worse, the VP-led opposition is openly working hand-in-glove with Washington. Last week Guaidó announced that he would attempt to transport humanitarian aid the United States has deposited on the Colombian and Brazilian borders into Venezuela. He called on the Venezuelan military to disobey orders from the Maduro government by facilitating the passage of goods, while Maduro ordered it blocked. While playing political benefactor, Washington was clearly manipulating the optics of the situation to discredit Maduro and rally more international support for Guaído. In an apparent rebuke to Washington and Guaidó, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric on Wednesday insisted that the humanitarian aid be " depoliticized. "

Opposition leaders and the Trump government are also working together to isolate Venezuela economically throughout the world. Julio Borges, a leading member of the opposition, has campaigned to convince international financial institutions to shun Venezuelan transactions and has urged Great Britain to refuse to repatriate Venezuelan gold stored in London. President Maduro has responded by calling on the attorney general to open judicial proceedings against Borges on grounds of treason. Along similar lines, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are currently attempting to convince international business interests to deny the Venezuelan government access to national assets in their possession.

The Trump administration's blatant and undisguised interventionism may in fact backfire and help Maduro counter his sagging poll numbers, which last October the polling firm Datanálisis reported was 23 percent. Maduro recently lashed out on Twitter at the close nexus between Washington and the opposition, saying "Aren't you embarrassed at yourselves, ashamed at the way every day by Twitter Mike Pence, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo tell you what you should do."

Cornerstone of Chavista Movement

Anti-imperialism is, of course, a major cornerstone of the Chavista movement, born from resentment of U.S. interventionism and heavy-handedness that had for decades controlled many of Venezuela's resources and dictated its economic policies. The maneuvers of the Trump administration and its allies only double down on this narrative, and are counterproductive at best when it comes to solving the crisis. Their actions also risk fanning the flames of anti-Americanism throughout the continent. It wouldn't be the first time: In 1958, then-Vice President Richard Nixon was attacked by a riotous crowd in Caracas, and a decade later Nelson Rockefeller's fact-finding tour arranged by then-President Nixon faced off with angry disruptive protests. Both incidents were responses to Washington's self-serving support for regimes that came to power through undemocratic means, in some cases with U.S. involvement.

In its strategy towards Venezuela, Washington is invoking not only its Cold War policy but the Monroe Doctrine and its view of Latin America as the U.S.' "backyard," -- a claim that is especially anathema throughout the region. Indeed, Pence told Fox News , in answering a question about why Trump is withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan while intervening in Venezuela: "President Trump has always had a very different view of our hemisphere. He's long understood that the United States has a special responsibility to support and nurture democracy and freedom in this hemisphere and that's a longstanding tradition."

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump appointed neocon Elliott Abrams as special envoy to Venezuela. As a longtime U.S. diplomat, Abrams has in many ways personified the application of the Monroe Doctrine with his blatant disregard for human rights violations and the principle of non-intervention in Guatemala , Nicaragua, and El Salvador in the 1980s and his alleged involvement in the 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez.

Finally, Trump's decision regarding CITGO, a U.S.-based company owned by Venezuela's state oil company, speaks to a dangerous precedent. Last week he declared that jurisdiction over CITGO would be turned over to the shadow government, and appealed to other countries to follow similar steps. While condemning anti-democratic actions and fraudulent elections in Venezuela, these sanctions ignore the rule of law. The Maduro government was never given the opportunity to defend itself and legal procedures were not followed.

It is always a dubious exercise to guess at Trump's intentions. His actions in Venezuela could be designed to divert attention from the multiple probes into his own unethical behavior, or they may be a way to draw attention away from the utter fiasco of U.S. interventions in the Middle East, from Libya to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Trump may also view his Venezuela policy as a quick fix to Make America Great Again. Along similar lines, Trump evidently sees the downfall of the Maduro government as the ultimate proof that socialism doesn't work. He indicated as much in his State of the Union address when he used the topic of Venezuela as a springboard for declaring: "We are born free, and we will stay free America will never be a socialist country."

Yet regardless of short-term results of U.S. support for Guaidó, the final outcome will be negative. There are a number of reasons why: first, it bolsters the position of the most radical elements of the opposition led by the VP party, thus contributing to the fragmentation of the anti-Chavista movement. Second, it attaches a "made in U.S.A." label to those positioned to govern should Maduro fall.

The stigma would undoubtedly scuttle their chances of maintaining longstanding majority support and in doing so would undermine their authority and ability to govern. Third, the appeal to the military to save Venezuela has terrifying implications for a continent with a long history of military rule. And finally, the seizure of Venezuelan assets, which have then been turned over to a political ally, violates sacred norms of property rights, and in the process erodes confidence in the system of private property. These four considerations are an indication of the multiple adverse impacts that the Trump administration's rash approach to the Maduro government will have on the United States, Venezuela, and the rest of the region.

Steve Ellner is a retired professor from Venezuela's University of the East, a long-time contributor to NACLA: Report on the Americas , and currently associate managing editor of Latin American Perspectives . Among his over a dozen books on Latin America is his edited "The Pink Tide Experiences: Breakthroughs and Shortcomings in Twenty-First Century Latin America" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019).

jaycee , February 12, 2019 at 1:34 pm
The intention behind the pressure directed at Venezuela is quite clear: the current government is being told to resign and hand power over to a selected member of the opposition. To advance this strategy, various degrees of, frankly, organized crime style threats of punishment or positive inducement are daily publicized, iterated by US public officials.

The government-in-waiting is supposedly preparing new elections, at least that's wha they say – but Guaido's representative in Washington told reporters last week that such elections might happen by the end of the year, maybe not, but a new government's priorities would be changing the structural underpinnings of the country's economy.

So the new government will be installed and will swiftly dismantle all of the popular programs instituted by the Chavistas over the past twenty years. That is, a political platform which has lost elections consistently for these past twenty years will be engaged without popular mandate, and before any new elections will be permitted. That's a coup, not a restoration of democracy.

[Feb 09, 2019] Government shutdown, Venezuela Donald Trump evolves into the best propagator of neoliberal fascism that tends to become a norm

Notable quotes:
"... Indeed, a year later, Trump built a pro-war team that includes the most bloodthirsty, hawkish neocons. And then, he ordered a second airstrike against Syria, together with his neocolonial friends. ..."
"... Trump conducted the longest experiment on neoliberals' ultimate goal: abolishing the annoying presence of the state. And this was just a taste of what Trump is willing to do in order to satisfy all neoliberals' wet dreams. ..."
"... And perhaps the best proof for that is a statement by one of the most warmongering figures of the neocon/neoliberal cabal, hired by Trump . As John Bolton cynically and openly admitted recently, " It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela. " ..."
"... Donald Trump is the personification of an authoritarian system that increasingly unveils its true nature. The US empire makes the Venezuelan economy 'scream hard', as it did in Chile in 1973. The country then turned into the first laboratory of neoliberalism with the help of the Chicago Boys and a brutal dictatorship. So, as the big fraud is clear now, neoliberalism is losing ground and ideological influence over countries and societies, after decades of complete dominance. ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

Government shutdown, Venezuela: Donald Trump evolves into the best propagator of neoliberal fascism that tends to become a norm February 07, 2019 by system failure

Even before the 2016 US presidential election, this blog supported that Donald Trump is a pure sample of neoliberal barbarism . Many almost laughed at this perception because Trump was being already promoted, more or less, as the 'terminator' of the neoliberal establishment. And many people, especially in the US, tired from the economic disasters, the growing inequality and the endless wars, were anxious to believe that this was indeed his special mission.

Right after the elections, we supported that the US establishment gave a brilliant performance by putting its reserve, Donald Trump, in power, against the only candidate that the same establishment identified as a real threat: Bernie Sanders.

Then, Trump sent the first shock wave to his supporters by literally hiring the Goldman Sachs banksters to run the economy. And right after that, he signed for more deregulation in favor of the Wall Street mafia that ruined the economy in 2008.

In 2017 , Trump bombed Syria for the first time, resembling the lies that led us to the Iraq war disaster. Despite the fact that the US Tomahawk missile attack had zero value in operational level (the United States allegedly warned Russia and Syria, while the targeted airport was operating normally just hours after the attack), Trump sent a clear message to the US deep state that he is prepared to meet all its demands - and especially the escalation of the confrontation with Russia.

Indeed, a year later, Trump built a pro-war team that includes the most bloodthirsty, hawkish neocons. And then, he ordered a second airstrike against Syria, together with his neocolonial friends.

In the middle of all this 'orgy' of pro-establishment moves, Trump offered a controversial withdrawal of US forces from Syria and Afghanistan to save whatever was possible from his 'anti-interventionist' profile. And it was indeed a highly controversial action with very little value, considering all these US military bases that are still fully operational in the broader Middle East and beyond. Not to mention the various ways through which the US intervenes in the area (training proxies, equip them with heavy weapons, supporting the Saudis and contribute to war crimes in Yemen, etc.)

And then , after this very short break, Trump returned to 'business as usual' to satisfy the neoliberal establishment with a 'glorious' record. He achieved a 35-day government shutdown, which is the "longest shutdown in US history" .

Trump conducted the longest experiment on neoliberals' ultimate goal: abolishing the annoying presence of the state. And this was just a taste of what Trump is willing to do in order to satisfy all neoliberals' wet dreams.

And now, we have the Venezuela issue. Since Hugo Chavez nationalized PDVSA, the central oil and natural gas company, the US empire launched a fierce economic war against the country. Yet, while all previous US administrations were trying to replace legitimate governments with their puppets as much silently as possible through slow-motion coup operations, Trump has no problem to do it in plain sight.

And perhaps the best proof for that is a statement by one of the most warmongering figures of the neocon/neoliberal cabal, hired by Trump . As John Bolton cynically and openly admitted recently, " It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela. "

Therefore, one should be very naive of course to believe that the Western imperialist gang seriously cares about the Venezuelan people and especially the poor. Here are three basic reasons behind the open US intervention in Venezuela:

  1. The imperialists want to grab the rich oil fields for the US big oil cartel, as well as the great untapped natural resources , particularly gold (mostly for the Canadian companies).
  2. Venezuela must not become an example for other countries in the region on social-programs policy, which is mainly funded by the oil production. The imperialists know that they must interrupt the path of Venezuela to real Socialism by force if necessary. Neoliberalism must prevail by all means for the benefit of the big banks and corporations.
  3. Venezuela must not turn to cooperation with rival powers like China and Russia. Such a prospect may give the country the ability to minimize the effects of the economic war. The country may find an alternative to escape the Western sanctions in order to fund its social programs for the benefit of the people. And, of course, the West will never accept the exploitation of the Venezuelan resources by the Sino-Russian bloc.

So, when Trump declared the unelected Juan Guaido as the 'legitimate president' of Venezuela, all the main neoliberal powers of the West rushed to follow the decision.

This is something we have never seen before. The 'liberal democracies' of the West - only by name - immediately, uncritically and without hesitation jumped on the same boat with Trump towards this outrageously undemocratic action. They recognized Washington's puppet as the legitimate president of a third country. A man that was never elected by the Venezuelan people and has very low popularity in the country. Even worse, the EU parliament approved this action , killing any last remnants of democracy in the Union.

Yet, it seems that the US is finding increasingly difficult to force many countries to align with its agenda. Even some European countries took some distance from the attempted constitutional coup, with Italy even trying to veto EU's decision to recognize Guaido.

Donald Trump is the personification of an authoritarian system that increasingly unveils its true nature. The US empire makes the Venezuelan economy 'scream hard', as it did in Chile in 1973. The country then turned into the first laboratory of neoliberalism with the help of the Chicago Boys and a brutal dictatorship. So, as the big fraud is clear now, neoliberalism is losing ground and ideological influence over countries and societies, after decades of complete dominance.

This unprecedented action by the Western neoliberal powers to recognize Guaido is a serious sign that neoliberalism returns to its roots and slips towards fascism. It appears now that this is the only way to maintain some level of power.

[Feb 05, 2019] Capitalists need their options regulated and their markets ripped from their control by the state. Profits must be subject to use it to a social purpose or heavily taxed. Dividends executive comp and interest payments included

Feb 05, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 31, 2019 at 08:22 PM

Is anyone else tired of the longest, least productive waste of war in American history ? What have we achieved, where are we going with this ? More war.
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 31, 2019 at 08:31 PM
We are being fed a fairy tale of war about what men, long dead, did. And the reason they did it. America is being strangled by the burden of belief that now is like then.
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 31, 2019 at 08:46 PM
By the patrician men and women administrators, posturing as soldiers like the WW2 army, lie for self profit. Why does anyone believe them ? Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, each an economic decision, rather than a security issue.
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 31, 2019 at 08:48 PM
America is dying on the same sword as Rome, for the same reason.
Plp -> JF... , January 31, 2019 at 07:28 AM
Capitalists need their options regulated and their markets ripped from their control by the state. Profits must be subject to use it to a social purpose or heavily taxed. Dividends executive comp and interest payments included
Julio -> mulp ... , January 31, 2019 at 08:58 AM
Well done! Much clearer than your usual. There are several distinct motivations for taxes. We have been far enough from fairness to workers, for so long, that we need to use the tax system to redistribute the accumulated wealth of the plutocrats.

So I would say high marginal rates are a priority, which matches both objectives. Wealth tax is needed until we reverse the massive inequality supported by the policies of the last 40 years.

Carbon tax and the like are a different thing, use of the tax code to promote a particular policy and reduce damage to the commons.

Gerald -> Julio ... , January 31, 2019 at 04:14 PM
"...we need to use the tax system to redistribute the accumulated wealth of the plutocrats. So I would say high marginal rates are a priority..."

Forgive me, but high marginal rates (which I hugely favor) don't "redistribute the accumulated wealth" of the plutocrats. If such high marginal rates are ever enacted, they'll apply only to the current income of such plutocrats.

Julio -> Gerald... , January 31, 2019 at 06:22 PM
You merged paragraphs, and elided the next one. The way I see it, high rates are a prerequisite to prevent the reaccumulation of obscene wealth, and its diversion into financial gambling.

But yes that would be a very slow way to redistribute what has already accumulated.

Gerald -> Julio ... , February 01, 2019 at 04:48 AM
Didn't mean to misinterpret what you were saying, sorry. High rates are not only "a prerequisite to prevent the reaccumulation of obscene wealth," they are also a reimposition of fair taxation on current income (if it ever happens, of course).
Global Groundhog -> Julio ... , February 02, 2019 at 01:39 PM
Wealth tax is needed until we reverse the massive inequality supported by the policies of the last 40 years. Carbon tax and the like are a different thing, use of the tax code to promote a particular policy and reduce damage to the commons.
"

more wisdom as usual!

Although wealth tax will be unlikely, it could be a stopgap; could also be a guideline to other taxes as well. for example, Elizabeth points out that billionaires pay about 3% of their net worth into their annual tax bill whereas workers pay about 7% of their net worth into their annual tax bill. Do you see how that works?

it doesn't? this Warren argument gives us a guideline. it shows us where other taxes should be adjusted to even out this percentage of net worth that people are taxed for. Ceu, during the last meltdown 10 years or so ago, We were collecting more tax from the payroll than we were from the income tax. this phenomenon was a heavy burden on those of low net worth. All this needs be resorted. we've got to sort this out.

and the carbon tax? may never be; but it indicates to us what needs to be done to make this country more efficient. for example some folks, are spending half a million dollars on the Maybach automobile, about the same amount on a Ferrari or a Alfa Romeo Julia quadrifoglio, but the roads are built for a mere 40 miles an hour, full of potholes.

What good is it to own a fast car like that when you can't drive but 40 -- 50 miles an hour? and full of traffic jams. something is wrong with taxation incentives. we need to get a better grid-work of roads that will get people there faster.

Meanwhile most of those sports cars just sitting in the garage. we need a comprehensive integrated grid-work of one way streets, roads, highways, and interstates with no traffic lights, no stop signs; merely freeflow ramp-off overpass interchanges.

thanks, Julio! thanks
again
.!

JF -> Global Groundhog... , February 04, 2019 at 05:42 AM
Wonderful to see the discussion about public finance shifting to use net worth proportions as the focus and metric.

Wonderful. Let us see if press/media stories and opinion pieces use this same way of talking about the financing of self-government.

Mr. Bill -> anne... , February 03, 2019 at 08:15 PM
Jesus Christ said, in so many words, that a man's worth will be judged by his generosity and his avarice.

" 24And the disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 26They were even more astonished and said to one another, "Who then can be saved?"

[Feb 05, 2019] Refusal to hand over Venezuelan gold means end of Britain as a financial center Prof. Wolff -- RT Business News

Feb 05, 2019 | www.rt.com

The freezing of Venezuelan gold by the Bank of England is a signal to all countries out of step with US interests to withdraw their money, according to economist and co-founder of Democracy at Work, Professor Richard Wolff. He told RT America that Britain and its central bank have shown themselves to be "under the thumb of the United States."

"That is a signal to every country that has or may have difficulties with the US, [that they had] better get their money out of England and out of London because it's not the safe place as it once was," he said.

[Feb 05, 2019] Sic Semper Tyrannis Is this the Trump Doctrine - TTG

Notable quotes:
"... Many of us, actually most of us, were pleased with candidate Trump's declared intent to end our involvement in endless foreign interventions. He would put America first and refrain from sending our troops where they don't belong. Once elected, his record was mixed. ..."
"... PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [W]e spent a fortune on building this incredible base. We might as well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem. ..."
"... There also appears to be an effort to keep the Rojava Kurds as a proxy force after our troops withdraw to Iraq. We continue sending combat and engineering equipment into Rojava and fully intend to continue providing air support to the YPG. We just can't let it go. ..."
"... I see a confrontation in our future, especially with all the Iraqi PMS units in western Iraq. ..."
Feb 05, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Many of us, actually most of us, were pleased with candidate Trump's declared intent to end our involvement in endless foreign interventions. He would put America first and refrain from sending our troops where they don't belong. Once elected, his record was mixed.

We launched an ineffective volley of cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase in response to a trumped up gas attack, but we never sought to establish a no fly zone and risk war with Russia. For a while we were well on our way to establish an enduring client state in east Syria. We assumed this was all the doing of the cabal of manipulating neocons that Trump surrounded himself with. His call for immediate withdrawal of troops from Syria surely proved this true. Finally Trump was allowed to be Trump. He was even seeking a way out of Afghanistan, after a literal lifetime of war in that godforsaken land.

The neocons are fighting back bigly. The pace of withdrawal from Syria was slowed and there is no indication we would ever give up our outpost on the Baghdad-Damascus highway at Tanf. Why? I think Trump laid out HIS thoughts on the matter during the traditional pre-super bowl presidential interview.

-- -- -- --

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have to protect Israel. We have to protect other things that we have...

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you want to keep troops there [Iraq] now?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [W]e spent a fortune on building this incredible base. We might as well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Whoa, that's news. You're keeping troops in Iraq because you want to be able to strike in Iran?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, because I want to be able to watch Iran. All I want to do is be able to watch. We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It's perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up. And this is what a lot of people don't understand. We're going to keep watching and we're going to keep seeing and if there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do.

-- -- -- --

So, We are staying in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran and we are doing this to protect Israel. It was not any of the neocons who said this. It was Trump himself. So much for America first. There also appears to be an effort to keep the Rojava Kurds as a proxy force after our troops withdraw to Iraq. We continue sending combat and engineering equipment into Rojava and fully intend to continue providing air support to the YPG. We just can't let it go.

However, Baghdad has thrown a monkey wrench into this developing Trump doctrine. Iraqi President Barham Salih has told Trump to slow his roll.

-- -- -- --

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Monday that President Donald Trump did not ask Iraq's permission for U.S. troops stationed there to "watch Iran."

Speaking at a forum in Baghdad, Salih was responding to a question about Trump's comments to CBS about how he would ask troops stationed in Iraq to "watch" Iran. U.S. troops in Iraq are there as part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific mission of combating terrorism, Salih said, and that they should stick to that. (Reuters)

-- -- -- --

I see a confrontation in our future, especially with all the Iraqi PMS units in western Iraq.

TTG

[Feb 04, 2019] Targeting Venezuela suggests a geopolitical shift away from the Middle East (and Israel) to countries that are less expensive to plunder yet with vast resources to be stolen.

Notable quotes:
"... In the report, Mr de Zayas recommended, among other actions, that the International Criminal Court investigate economic sanctions against Venezuela as possible crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute. ..."
"... The US sanctions are illegal under international law because they were not endorsed by the UN Security Council, Mr de Zayas, an expert on international law and a former senior lawyer with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said. ..."
"... My guess would be if there's anything being done, it's probably somebody instigating a coup as opposed to a direct military intervention. ..."
"... Imperial madness is not so mad, after all: greedy mega-thieves made the US overextend itself, spending way more than it has on military adventures benefiting those mega-thieves. Now they want to keep the value of the US dollar, which is not backed by anything the US government has or is likely to have, because their loot is mostly denominated in the US dollars. They know deep down that when this house of cards folds, competing mega-thieves supporting Chinese and Russian governments would have the upper hand. ..."
"... Given Kuchner's influence, I'd be much surprised if Trump were trying to evade rather than accomodate Israel's wishes. Several decades past, Mossad agent Mike Harari's name kept popping up in Central America, in connection with Iran-Contra and Noriega, and now there are vague reports that Israeli "advisors" have been sent to Brazil. So Mazeltov to the Venezuelan op! ..."
"... I myself haven't given much thought to what stake Israel might have in Central America, but it might be time to take a closer look at the details ..."
Feb 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

L.K , says: February 4, 2019 at 4:45 am GMT

Venezuela crisis: Former UN rapporteur says US sanctions are killing citizens
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/venezuela-us-sanctions-united-nations-oil-pdvsa-a8748201.html

The first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years has told The Independent the US sanctions on the country are illegal and could amount to "crimes against humanity" under international law.

Former special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who finished his term at the UN in March, has criticized the US for engaging in "economic warfare" against Venezuela which he said is hurting the economy and killing Venezuelans.

Mr De Zayas, a former secretary of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and an expert in international law, spoke to The Independent following the presentation of his Venezuela report to the HRC in September. He said that since its presentation the report has been ignored by the UN and has not sparked the public debate he believes it deserves.

"Sanctions kill," he told The Independent, adding that they fall most heavily on the poorest people in society, demonstrably cause death through food and medicine shortages, lead to violations of human rights and are aimed at coercing economic change in a "sister democracy".

In the report, Mr de Zayas recommended, among other actions, that the International Criminal Court investigate economic sanctions against Venezuela as possible crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute.

The US sanctions are illegal under international law because they were not endorsed by the UN Security Council, Mr de Zayas, an expert on international law and a former senior lawyer with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said.

"When I come and I say the emigration is partly attributable to the economic war waged against Venezuela and is partly attributable to the sanctions, people don't like to hear that. They just want the simple narrative that socialism failed and it failed the Venezuelan people," Mr de Zayas told The Independent.

Alfred de Zayas is the author of "A Terrible Revenge: The Ethnic Cleansing of the East European Germans, 1944 -- 1950" und "The Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau, 1939-1945".

L.K , says: February 4, 2019 at 5:03 am GMT
Venezuela -- Coup Attempt Part Of A Larger Project
https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/01/venezuela-coup-attempt-part-of-a-larger-project-military-intervention-likely-to-fail.html

The Trump administration has launched a large political project to remake several states in Latin America. The Wall Street Journal headlines:

"U.S. Push to Oust Venezuela's Maduro Marks First Shot in Plan to Reshape Latin America
The Trump administration's broader aim is to gain leverage over Cuba and curb recent inroads in the region by Russia, Iran and China"

The plan includes regime change in Venezuela, Nicaragua and eventually Cuba. The removal of any Russian or Chinese interest is another point. It is a multiyear project that has bipartisan support. It will likely require military force.

The project seems to echo the "New Middle East" plan then Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice launched in 2006.

That the U.S. is going for such a wide ranging plan in the western hemisphere might explain why Trump is pressing to end the other military projects in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

wraith67 , says: February 4, 2019 at 2:41 pm GMT
5000 troops isn't 5000 fighters, that would seem like an extremely light package to me*, so I'm inclined to believe that isn't what anybody's preparing for (and our side doctrinally prefers and overwhelming advantage, preferably 3 to 1 odds). On our side, there's nobody mobilizing heavy equipment (pictures of vehicles on rail heads or convoys would already be circulating). SOF is already in country with agencies; you could RDF a light force into country fairly quickly (out of the 82nd, 101st, 10th mt., etc), but it wouldn't be a long term occupation force (which goes back to the first couple lines above).

As to how we'd do there, hard to say. If the military sheds their uniforms and dissolves into the population, insurgency style, that's one thing (Middle Eastern counter-insurgency is a nut the Pentagon deliberately declined to crack, as it would have required addressing Islam). If the Venezuelan military decides to fight in uniform, nobody on our side has any compunctions about killing them and it would go badly for the host nation forces.

My guess would be if there's anything being done, it's probably somebody instigating a coup as opposed to a direct military intervention.

*caveat -- you could have 5000 trigger pullers deploy, but you're talking a maximum of 72 hours before they're out of food, bullets, etc. 5000 trigger pullers requires at least another 10,000 people in a logistics and support tail and those people aren't as rapidly deployable.

AnonFromTN , says: February 4, 2019 at 3:13 pm GMT
@yurivku You are making a pretty common mistake: confusing intelligence with education. These are two different things, and neither correlates with other aspects of character, including moral fiber. American school and college system is specifically designed to keep people uneducated beyond their narrow professional area. Maybe 2% of colleges teach students anything beyond their profession (they call it distribution requirements). That's what the elites do, and it is more effective than censorship Soviet system used, after actually educating people.

There were two Americans among my top three graduate students. Both were woefully undereducated in everything outside of their major. But both were smart, hardworking, and nice people to have in the lab. Both were receptive to info, too, except in their case myself (and with one of them -- her husband) were the sources of info they've encountered for the first time in their lives.

So, there is no contradiction between being naturally smart and grossly uneducated, or between being anywhere on the intelligence scale and being nice or nasty. To give you an example from Russia, colonel Kvachkov is likely not as smart and educated as Chubais, but he is a good person, whereas Chubais is scum.

AnonFromTN , says: February 4, 2019 at 3:36 pm GMT
@NoseytheDuke There is a common thread/pattern: greedy fat cats. While each one of them would readily slash the throat of another for money, they have better class solidarity than deliberately confused "deplorables". Besides, they know that monopoly give the best opportunity to rob "deplorables" blind, so they do not undermine each other's monopoly. Another tool they use is the Empire. Unlike Ukrainian morons, they know that you need the protection of a strong state, otherwise competing thieves would gladly steal your loot. Collectively they control the government of the Empire, and through it, the governments of all its vassals.

So, there are no coincidences: globalist mega-thief class is well organized, controls through direct ownership all MSM that spew the lies they are told to disseminate, and control through their venality the politicians, who via government agencies generate the lies for MSM to spread and conduct imperial [policies that benefit those fat cats.

While some Russian and Chinese mega-thieves are compardores, others support their countries in the stand-off with the Empire. However, they do it out of their personal pecuniary interests, not because of the goodness of their hearts.

AnonFromTN , says: February 4, 2019 at 3:45 pm GMT
@Harold Smith You are making the mistake of Lenin (Marx made the same one in his later years), considering ideology as something separate. Ideology, like religion, is a tool fat cats use to fool the "deplorables" and manipulate them. Their only sincere feeling is greed, and their true ideology boils down to "I have the right to steal this, not the other guy".

Imperial madness is not so mad, after all: greedy mega-thieves made the US overextend itself, spending way more than it has on military adventures benefiting those mega-thieves. Now they want to keep the value of the US dollar, which is not backed by anything the US government has or is likely to have, because their loot is mostly denominated in the US dollars. They know deep down that when this house of cards folds, competing mega-thieves supporting Chinese and Russian governments would have the upper hand.

Craig Spence , says: February 4, 2019 at 5:20 pm GMT
Now then. Squirted out of Syria and Afghanistan like shit through a goose, CIA tries to look tough someplace else, someplace where they might not get their ass kicked this time -- Venezuela! That'll do the trick!

So how's that workin' out for ya?

Despite sitting in Daddy's chair at the OAS, talking big, Pompeo couldn't pass his bullshit resolution to knock over Venezuela. Even at the OAS. Luis Almagro, Pompeo's ventriloquist dummy at the OAS pep rallies, got himself kicked out of his party at home for blowing Pompeo too much.

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/OAS-Head-Almagro-Expelled-From-His-Party-Due-to-Interventionism-20181215-0014.html

CIA stuffed DO with dumbshit jarheads, because nobody else was stupid enough to do universal-jurisdiction crimes for Lloyd Blankfein, and now the whole agency is mongoloid, totally inept. A laughingstock.

EliteCommInc. , says: February 4, 2019 at 5:46 pm GMT
@L.K The project for the "New American Way"

was not cooked up or launched by Sec/NSA Rice. She's intelligent and smart, fortuitous and intense, -- loyal --

But the project regarding US primacy is advancing capitalism and democracy by force of necessary was developed and launched prior to the Bush Admin. The public got its first real taste after 9/11.

cassandra , says: February 4, 2019 at 8:06 pm GMT
@wayfarer Odd, that: if Venezuelans are truly starving, do the opposition protesters look so well-fed because the US is providing secret aid?

Styx' video has a very myopic view of the situation. He totally neglects the economic sabotage being practiced by internal and international financial parties. Opposition parties have been boycotting elections so they can declare them illegitimate, and generally sticking spokes in the wheels of the state by inaction within the government, violent protests in the streets, and a general refusal to engage in constructive dialog with Maduro. The US is applying sanctions of all sorts, both to Venezuela and international trading partners, an is diverting Cisco revenue to Guaido; the Bank of England tells Maduro he can't have his gold. The endgame of the neoliberal elites behind the opposition, likely including Guaido's prof at Georgetown, are working for social austerity and privatization of national resources. (As Bolton and Pompeo have proudly asserted.)

The problems of the Chavista gornment are due to a hopelessly-tangled combination of elite international economic (and possibly covert military) warfare, Maduro's mismanagement, and maybe even the structure of socialism itself as libertarian free-marketers will assert. However, socialist governments encounter so much economic hostility from international capitalism that it's surprising that any exist at all.

Try this video, for a more nuanced, and much better informed, view of the situation.

In contrast to guessing the size of demonstrations from youtube videos as Styx does, Piva reports on street conditions from direct experience. By comparison, I'm afraid Styx's report comes across as an uninformed rant. But it's not surprising since that's how our MSM is portraying the situation.

Missing from all this are any reports of possible activities of China and Russia.

AnonFromTN , says: February 4, 2019 at 8:12 pm GMT
@Harold Smith I think your folly is that you are trying to rationalize greed. Greed is irrational, we inherited it from our irrational aggressively territorial cousins, monkeys. Remember Soros: he looks like he died a couple of weeks ago (I wish he did), but still grabs for more loot and resents those who get in his way, including Trump. When greed is powerless, it is simply ridiculous. When greed has power, it becomes evil.

That's the downside of so-called market economy: the driving force is greed (apologists like to call it profit, bit semantics don't change the matter). Unregulated greed, like unregulated power of wind (hurricanes) and water (floods), is destructive, whereas properly regulated it can produce some good.

You also ignore the fact that all those MIC profiteers don't really want WWIII. They want to keep stealing huge amounts of taxpayers' money on military contracts. For that they scare the common folk with dangers that do not exist and regale them with "patriotic" BS they don't believe in. Deep down they know that to enjoy their loot they must stay alive: unlike pathetic politicians, the gods do not take bribes.

As to those people throwing rocks from the overpass of I-75, I think "Beavis and Butt-Head" answers your question. Hopeless stupidity of people totally lacking imagination, when it becomes active, is evil. But the people themselves are just unimaginative morons.

So, my point is there is no such thing as evil per se, there is greed and stupidity (often the combination of the two) that leads to evil actions.

AnonFromTN , says: February 4, 2019 at 8:43 pm GMT
@Authenticjazzman Here you go: "hundred million victims" is a lie, which you apparently bought. Just count the humans murdered in different ways for the glory of capitalism, starting with millions of Indians starved to death by the Brits, countless American Indians murdered by the settlers, or Africans murdered by the colonial powers, proceeding to Japanese fried alive in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and in fires in several other cities bombed by conventional munitions, to more than a million Indonesians murdered as "communists" by US-backed Suharto regime, or millions of Koreans murdered by the US army, and 2.5 million Vietnamese you like to boast about, etc. The sum total would stun you, and it would be much greater than imaginary 100 million killed by the communists (the true number is likely ~10 million, most of them killed by Mao regime in China).

Now, tell your stories about dead eyes to someone who does not know the truth. They might believe it. I lived in the USSR for 33 years, and the eyes of the people there were certainly no deader than the eyes of Americans I see for the last 28 years.

But you are welcome to cling to your beliefs: most people believe all sorts of untrue ridiculous things, and just live with it, many of them happily.

cassandra , says: February 4, 2019 at 9:06 pm GMT
@Ilyana_Rozumova

Trump now can say to Netanyahu: We cannot attack Iran because we are too busy in Venezuela.

Given Kuchner's influence, I'd be much surprised if Trump were trying to evade rather than accomodate Israel's wishes. Several decades past, Mossad agent Mike Harari's name kept popping up in Central America, in connection with Iran-Contra and Noriega, and now there are vague reports that Israeli "advisors" have been sent to Brazil. So Mazeltov to the Venezuelan op!

I myself haven't given much thought to what stake Israel might have in Central America, but it might be time to take a closer look at the details .

Small military groups of resistance could move around indefinitely killing American interests.

Perhaps making common cause with the FARC in Columbia? Wouldn't that be a welcome development!

[Feb 04, 2019] U.S. Coup Attempt as a classic example of gangster capitalism in action: we want your oil

Small counties in LA are essentially defenseless against 300 pound gorilla -- the USA. And neoliberalism still can take revenge, as it recently did in Argentina and Brazil.
Notable quotes:
"... Agence France-Press ..."
"... As monarchs were forced to realize, they served a function to society, in order to be served by it. It was a two way street. Now finance is having a, "Let them eat cake." moment, as they become more predator than organ of society. It is the heart telling the hands and feet they don't need so much blood and should work harder for what they do get. As well as telling the head it better go along, or else. ..."
"... As this regime change process unfolds, it is difficult not to feel deep sadness for Venezuelans. Chavez failed to lift the poor into a permanent middle class, Maduro failed to protect the accomplishments that had been achieved, and now, the state seems unprepared to cope with what was inevitable. ..."
"... It's a tragic moment in Latin American history. Though Maduro has some backing from the four most Resistant of all Resistors, Russian, China, Cuba and Iran, the nation's geography is too distant for them to flex their full restraint. The lesson of Nicaragua in the 80's should have been learned. ..."
"... "The wealthy few have declared war on the many poor. They should not be allowed to lose their bet and maintain their stakes. The world doesn't work that way. " Unfortunately Bevin I think that is exactly how the world works. The real never ending war is between the haves and have nots. ..."
"... I'm a bit more pessimistic. Washington seems united on getting rid of Maduro and installing a friendly regime. While Maduro can hang in there for awhile, the economic sanctions and covert operations (including sabotage, killings, bribery etc.) will cause severe problems for the government. Maduro is not Assad and lacks friendly neighbors--in fact, Latin America has pretty much returned to direct Washington rule. ..."
"... Like with the attacks on Syria, Trump becomes presidential when he attacks the likes of Iran and Venezuela. ..."
"... I wonder how many of the pro-USA protesters, willing to take the US coin to protest on the street, are also willing to take the US coin to die on the street. ..."
"... A U.S. military incursion could have significant unintended consequences, "including a deterioration of our relationship with currently supportive countries in the region." -- Gustavo Arnavat, a former Obama administration official and a senior advisor to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. ..."
"... I don't justify intervention anywhere (except in D.C. where the Tyranny and Hegemon resides). I point to missed opportunities, failures, corruption and not taking advice from your closest friends (China, Russia, Cuba). If they had brought in the Chinese petroleum experts and Russian economic experts, much of the disaster would have been avoided. When you have a huge enemy and you are weak and relatively small, you need help. Maduro waited until too late. ..."
"... Self-evidently all the governments which have followed the US are not only agreeing but are acting in compliance with a pre-set US timetable. They all waited for the US to give the signal, then like synchronized swimmers performed according to choreography pre-determined by the US. ..."
"... Maduro to his navy --- "Today the future of Venezuela is decided: if it becomes one more star of the United States flag or if it will continue to fly its eight tricolor stars," said the president. ..."
"... As usual, the AZ regime change machine is mightily backed up by billions of puff dollars (printed out of thin air), but among the puppets, the tie-eating Saakashvili is Optimus Prime compared with the Murky Guy's leadership. ..."
"... Ha, how 40 tons of the "barbaric relic" which disappeared from Ukraine after a similar "revolution" got to be mentioned also in relation to Venezuela. ..."
"... Well, the headline of this post is kinda problematic now ("U.S. Coup Attempt In Venezuela Lacks International Support"). I think it was problematic from the start, b, because 1) several countries had already joined with USA; 2) Europe's falling in line was never really in doubt. Note: The EU poodles have toed the line on Russia, Iran*, and now Venezuela. ..."
"... Instead, Guaido called for further "pressure", which is at this point limited to a further tightening of the economic isolation of the country. Canada seems to have anticipated this position by announcing a $53 million aid package which will be focussed on assisting current and future "refugees" headed to Columbia and Brazil. ..."
"... Hugo Chavez has repatriated most of Venezeulan gold whilst still alive. This is how the CIA and the Venezuelan Central Bank could invent the story that a part of this gold is being sent to Russia by Maduro. The 41 ton of Venezuelan gold still remain in Bank of England was a necessary collateral for buying naphtha (for pre-processing oil for export) and subsidised food for the Venezurlan population. ..."
Feb 04, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

U.S. Coup Attempt In Venezuela Lacks International Support Zanon , Feb 3, 2019 12:44:33 PM | link

There is little doubt where 'western' media stand with regards to the U.S. led coup-attempt (vid) in Venezuela. But their view does not reflect the overwhelming international recognition the Venezuelan government under President Nicolás Maduro continues to have.

The Rothschild family's house organ, the Economist , changed the background of its Twitter account to a picture of the Random Dude™, Juan Guaidó, who the U.S. regime changers created to run the country.


bigger

The tweet is quite revealing:

The Economist @TheEconomist - 23:59 utc- 31 Jan 2019

Juan Guaidó and Donald Trump are betting that sanctions will topple the regime before they starve the Venezuelan people econ.st/2DMOeEk

It is quite obvious that Trump's Illegal Regime Change Operation Will Kill More Venezuelans . The Economist supports that starvation strategy.

The supposedly neutral news agencies are no better than the arch-neoliberal Economist . The Reuters ' Latin America office also changed its header picture to Random Dude. It reverted that after being called out.

Agence France-Press stated at 11:10 utc yesterday that "tens of thousands" would join a rally.

Cont. reading: U.S. Coup Attempt In Venezuela Lacks International Support "Lacks international support" unfortunately doesnt matter much. Regardless, even if a majority of nations backed the coup doesnt mean its right. Also remember Ukraine coup, majority didnt support that - but it didnt matter.


psychohistorian , Feb 3, 2019 12:49:01 PM | link

Thanks for the reporting b

Empire is testing the waters of support by its DazzleSpeak about the spinning plate of Venezuela. I hope it is learning that much of the world no longer wants to live in a world motivated by fear.

Threat of US global default on Reserve Currency is coming soon because empire is out of ammunition to maintain and extend supremacy. It will be interesting to see what the fall back status will be and how maintained....the last thralls of Might-Makes-Right.....one would hope.

PavewayIV , Feb 3, 2019 12:51:55 PM | link
Then there's that 'gold' thing.

The Bank of England should be holding closer to 30 tonnes of Venezuela's gold, not the 14 tonnes they're holding from Marudo under U.S. orders. The Venezuelan Central Bank (BCV) just closed a huge gold swap with someone and now should have a total of maybe 2500 gold bars in the BoE dungeons with their original serial numbers and weights. Custodians of gold like this can't melt it down and make new bars - that's why state depositors stamp all of them with serial numbers and precise weights. They want to be sure THEIR gold is there and THEIR gold is returned.

The news isn't the U.S. demand that it won't be returned. The real news is that neither the BCV nor the BoE will show anyone the original or current gold bar inventory list. Usually, nobody cares. But with the U.S. and BoE chosing a new, rightful owner (Random Guy), they should at the very least provide the inventory list.

It shouldn't be a secret - there is absolutely no security risk. The gold belongs to the (starving) people of Venezuela. Or at least it did. What are the BoE and Rothschild BCV hiding? Did they melt it down or sell it to someone else?

John Merryman , Feb 3, 2019 12:54:53 PM | link
I think the deeper conceptual issues need to be considered, that would place the political and social situations going on around the world, from France, to Venezuela, in perspective.

That money is the social contract enabling mass societies to function, not a commodity to be mined from society and stored as government debt, to finance militaries, as well as making the entire economy subservient to the gambling addictions of Wall St.

Humanity went through s similar evolutionary process, when monarchies, as private, hereditary governments, reached the limits of their effectiveness. As the executive and regulatory function, government is the central nervous system of society, while finance is its circulation mechanism, basically the head and heart.

As monarchs were forced to realize, they served a function to society, in order to be served by it. It was a two way street. Now finance is having a, "Let them eat cake." moment, as they become more predator than organ of society. It is the heart telling the hands and feet they don't need so much blood and should work harder for what they do get. As well as telling the head it better go along, or else.

As it is now, all this government debt is setting the world up for predatory lending/disaster capitalism, when the governments cannot run up more debt and those holding the old debt start trading it for more public properties, from mineral rights to roads.

Sasha , Feb 3, 2019 1:09:43 PM | link
@b,

After watching the whole central meeting in Bolívar Avenue, Caracas,live broadcasted by RTSpanish, which extended for several hours, in which were projected images of other regions´meetings as well, and after watching live too, broadcasted by the same channel, the pro-Random Dude meeting only in that rich neighborhood, which extended for about half an hour and dispersed itslef very fast, I would calculate the numbers at both meetings just in reverse as you have done.

I would say 200-300 thousands for Maduro´s supporters ( and i would say I get it short..) and 20-30 thousands ( in the best case )for the Random Dude....

I notice that that photo you are basing your estimations on corresponds only to the front of the square where the tribune for speechers of the pro-Maduro rallie was placed, but other people has showed the whole Bolívar Avenue ( the longest and largest in Caracas ) full of pro-Maduro people as long as the sight can catch ....See for example, Abby Martin´s capture:

https://twitter.com/AbbyMartin/status/1091836605847851008

To this numbers, you should add all those collected in the regions...I would say in the hundreds of thousands....

Taffyboy , Feb 3, 2019 1:14:11 PM | link
A very good supporting read after this.

https://www.stalkerzone.org/the-state-of-affairs-in-venezuela-what-the-media-doesnt-write-about/

Thank you.

Blooming Barricade , Feb 3, 2019 1:31:10 PM | link
The European Parliament voted on the Venezuela issue a few days ago, and naturally, the centre-right wing European People's Party (Merkel, Tusk), the Liberals (Macron), and most of the so-called Socialists voted to recognise the US coup minion as president. The European United Left and most of the Greens along with the far-right wing voted against this, which just shows you that the so-called liberal democrats are bought and paid for employees of US/NATO multinational imperialism.
Enrico Malatesta , Feb 3, 2019 1:33:29 PM | link
With the "Electoral College" method determining winners not in current favor, perhaps the US MSM may wish to state that by world population, Maduro beats Guaidó by a factor of at least 4 to 1 in public opinion.
james , Feb 3, 2019 1:39:37 PM | link
thanks b... it is interesting @5 sashas comments if they can be verified..

@3paveway - it is much as @4 john merryman says, with the additional note that the boe are essentially stealing venezualas gold in a might makes right type of undemocratic and undignified way.. i always thought the federal reserve was an extension of the boe... both of them are privately run, with some minor face saving image that they belong to the respective gov'ts.. they don't... they are controlled and run by the 1% that are quite okay starving off venezuala, or going to the next step - military intervention.. they are one sick group of predators only focused on the god of mammon.. we have to figure out a way to get rid of them before they completely destroy the planet..

vk , Feb 3, 2019 1:48:03 PM | link
Italy's argument against the European recognition of Guaidó is emblematic:

Italy warns against 'another Libya' if Venezuela is attacked

CE , Feb 3, 2019 2:10:15 PM | link
"Random Dude" is not bad but I think "Chicago Boy" is more useful as it gives clueless people a useful googling opportunity.
Cyril , Feb 3, 2019 2:34:51 PM | link
@denk | Feb 3, 2019 1:06:50 PM | 272

Other than Russia../China/Iran....practically the entire world is under uncle sham's thumb now.
The outlook is very depressing indeed.

Don't worry, China has an enormous amount of leverage:

" Boeing predicts China will need more than 7,200 new aircraft worth over $1 trillion in the 20 years through 2036."

Trump slaps some tariffs, here and there, on a few billion dollars of China's products. But this is trivial compared to what China can do to Boeing, if Trump really annoys Xi. And Boeing is just of many US companies that the Chinese can retaliate against.

Don Bacon , Feb 3, 2019 3:06:56 PM | link
@ DougDiggler | Feb 3, 2019 2:09:22 PM | 12

Why does Maduro allow Guaido to remain at large?

Juan Guaido enjoys legislative immunity to arrest but Venezuela's Supreme Court barred him from leaving the country, and the court also approved a request that all of Guaido's financial assets be frozen.

As we have seen he's rather harmless, without any real power in the country, and so the longer he's free and obviously ineffective the better. Plus it enables Maduro to appear reasonable and unafraid of the young man.

bevin , Feb 3, 2019 4:24:40 PM | link
The 800 lb elephant in the room here is the reality of class struggle in Caracas. Those backing the imperialists seem to constitute the majority of Venezuela's small elite of rich people. Despite their complaints, continual sabotage of the economy and outright treason in their collaboration with its enemies they have been allowed to hold onto their ill gotten, and inherited, wealth.

How long is that likely to last?

On the other side of the divide are millions of poor people, their livelihoods and their democracy at risk. Many of them are having difficulty finding food to feed their families- the deliberate result of sanctions supported by the wealthy, and the light skinned. Many are finding it impossible to find the medicines their sick people desperately need.

If Venezuela is to maintain its independence it will do so because the poor refuse to give it up. Their rewards and the means of rebuilding the economy lie in the wealth of the rich.

The wealthy few have declared war on the many poor. They should not be allowed to lose their bet and maintain their stakes. The world doesn't work that way.

Red Ryder , Feb 3, 2019 5:02:29 PM | link
As this regime change process unfolds, it is difficult not to feel deep sadness for Venezuelans. Chavez failed to lift the poor into a permanent middle class, Maduro failed to protect the accomplishments that had been achieved, and now, the state seems unprepared to cope with what was inevitable.

To assume that the Hegemon would keep its hands off the nation, return the gold, leave the assets in the US untouched, not use the neighboring countries to mount an insurgency, seems naive at best. The lessons learned from Cuba's 60 year fight for dignity taught the regime nothing.

Watching the tear down of Brazil's socialist leadership (two of them) taught the regime nothing. Stupidity atop corruption atop a blind belief in an ideology that destroyed the wealth of the nation (or at least crippled it) has led to the moment of truth. Will enough poor people and some middle class defend the sovereignty of the nation? And will the military leadership and rank and file remain patriots?

It's a tragic moment in Latin American history. Though Maduro has some backing from the four most Resistant of all Resistors, Russian, China, Cuba and Iran, the nation's geography is too distant for them to flex their full restraint. The lesson of Nicaragua in the 80's should have been learned.

Now he faces invasion of convoys of aid on three borders. He must control his borders. The odds are very long he can.

frances , Feb 3, 2019 5:12:50 PM | link
quote from www.stalkerzone.org

I am not sure if anyone has posted about this, my apologies if it is redundant. I was wondering where our Random Dude was now located and what he was up to:

"For the role of President they chose a "poster boy" who doesn't represent anything and who shouted out something at a meeting with 30,000-40,000 protesters, and after this he immediately ran to the Embassy of Colombia, where he still sits to this day.

This boy refuses any contact with the authorities. But since you are being informed by "different media agencies" and certain authors on "Aftershock" – he communicated with army Generals on twitter however the Generals are unaware of this but he communicated "in secret". Or he appointed a certain official from among the immigrants in the US also on twitter "

jayc , Feb 3, 2019 5:37:59 PM | link
Red Ryder #30

Your analysis of the economic problems is too harsh directed at Chavez/Marduro and their "ideology". Nafeez Ahmed's piece in Medium, which has been shared on this forum, does a much better job describing the perfect storm of coinciding events which have combined to sink Venezuela's economy. Short of two or three of these events, and the situation could be bad but not as terrible as it is.

The programs instituted by the government over the past twenty years remain extremely popular, as was acknowledged yesterday when Guaido made a vague promise of government "subsidies" to those in need.

The aid caravans will be entirely symbolic, and offer little to nothing to a population of over 30 million people. The sponsors of the aid caravans are also the same people who have placed harsh economic sanctions on the country, a fact which will not be lost.

arby , Feb 3, 2019 6:01:07 PM | link
Bevin @ 28

"The wealthy few have declared war on the many poor. They should not be allowed to lose their bet and maintain their stakes. The world doesn't work that way. " Unfortunately Bevin I think that is exactly how the world works. The real never ending war is between the haves and have nots.

mrtmbrnmn , Feb 3, 2019 6:01:53 PM | link
Why don't the coup mongers name Hillary president of Venezuela. The biggest sore loser of all time is currently "resting", as they say of out-of-work actors, and desperately wants to be president of SOMETHING. Not being a native Venezuelan should be no drawback in her case. She would simply trade her old Cubs/Yankees hat for a big V and probably discover some Venezuelan great-great-grandmother hanging on her family tree. The coup mongers' current choice, the sock puppet "Guido" Guadio, is about as legit as a Confederate nickel. And coups are by definition NOT legit. So haul out those unused "I'm With Her" signs and ship them down there. In the meantime, she can head for the Venezuelan Embassy and hole up there (a la Julian Assange?) while awaiting the moment to parachute into Caracas. Mission Accomplished!
Don Bacon , Feb 3, 2019 6:05:51 PM | link
Let's remember that the US position is that Guaido is only the interim president of a transitional government, which suggests that (1) the US has its real choice under cover in Miami somewhere, possibly a Rubio house guest, or (more likely) (2) the US really doesn't have a clue about what to do next. Hey, humanitarian aid, that's a good regime change strategy (??).

Meanwhile they can demonstrate all they want, it never accomplishes anything (MLK attendance the exception).

Chris Cosmos , Feb 3, 2019 6:06:00 PM | link
I'm a bit more pessimistic. Washington seems united on getting rid of Maduro and installing a friendly regime. While Maduro can hang in there for awhile, the economic sanctions and covert operations (including sabotage, killings, bribery etc.) will cause severe problems for the government. Maduro is not Assad and lacks friendly neighbors--in fact, Latin America has pretty much returned to direct Washington rule.
Peter AU 1 , Feb 3, 2019 6:38:35 PM | link
Don Bacon 37

I suspect the Trump admin does have a plan for Venezuela and will push it through no matter what anybody thinks. Trump's opinion of the bobbling heads or trained seal lot that call themselves heads of state is about the same as he showed the Iraqi's when visiting the US base in Iraq.

Trumps plans will only be stopped by the likes of Russia, China, Iran ect. No matter how outlandish the claims of the lies of Bolton or himself are, MSM seems to take it up with all seriousness.

Like with the attacks on Syria, Trump becomes presidential when he attacks the likes of Iran and Venezuela.

arby , Feb 3, 2019 6:39:05 PM | link
Don @ 37
I think this is the guy they would like to install--

Leopoldo Lopez

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopoldo_L%C3%B3pez

rem , Feb 3, 2019 6:43:13 PM | link
USAMO . Same Old. First, engineer sanctions through compliant UN, then squeeeeze the population until they understand the changing electoral requirements and their howl reaches pitch

-in the meantime picking a favourite pony to front the 'peoples will' regime change op; training him/her up in latest provocateur methodology and introducing them to their master racketeers back in DC

then,

with malevolent mercenary gangs helping stirring street protest offer emergency security assistance and food AID thru sanctified UN allowing your chosen one to ride the front of the food wagon, saving the day.

Democracy, Yankee Doodle Dandy style.

Scotch Bingeington , Feb 3, 2019 7:16:18 PM | link
jayc | 33

"The aid caravans will be entirely symbolic, and offer little to nothing to a population of over 30 million people." Yes, and also those of the 30 million who support the Anti-Maduro movement are probably not in need of basic foodstuffs, but will want their iPhone and their Netflix account.

Don Bacon , Feb 3, 2019 7:44:57 PM | link
@ arby | Feb 3, 2019 6:39:05 PM | 40

I think this is the guy they would like to install--Leopoldo Lopez
Yes, good chance of that, if they could work it somehow (unlikely) and it would tie into Guaido's reference to Feb 12.

wiki--During the crisis in Bolivarian Venezuela, Leopoldo Lopez called for protests in February 2014. López, a leading figure in the opposition to the government, began to lead protests. . .He was arrested on 18 February 2014 and charged with arson and conspiracy; murder and terrorism charges were dropped. Human rights groups expressed concern that the charges were politically motivated. . .Leopoldo López, a leading figure in the opposition to the government, began to lead protests.. .

In September 2015, he was found guilty of public incitement to violence through supposed subliminal messages, being involved with criminal association, and was sentenced to 13 years and 9 months in prison. He was later transferred to house arrest on 8 July 2017 after being imprisoned for over three years.

Don Bacon , Feb 3, 2019 7:51:43 PM | link
mismanagement? A liter of 91-octane gasoline currently costs 1 bolivar, so for a dollar one can get 3 million liters. . here
Don Bacon , Feb 3, 2019 7:59:52 PM | link
re: Trump's state of the union speech Tuesday night.
on VZ-- from WaPo Trump will
"... actively intervene in the political upheaval in Venezuela, aides said in previewing the speech Friday." here
aspnaz , Feb 3, 2019 8:07:22 PM | link
I wonder how many of the pro-USA protesters, willing to take the US coin to protest on the street, are also willing to take the US coin to die on the street.

I suspect these protests are paper thin at best, the poor are unlikely to support the rich without financial inducement, but the one thing the coup organisers have is plenty of money. If these are indeed poor people protesting (who knows) then it would be interesting to know what quantity of cash was offered to the participants. Maybe 30 USD for half a day of protesting? Decent money for the protesters, easily affordable to the USA.

Peter AU 1 , Feb 3, 2019 8:14:35 PM | link
Red Ryder

A countries domestic issues need to be kept separate from US attacks on a country. US is not attacking Venezuela for humanitarian reasons. This is aside from the fact as Jen pointed out, that Venezuela's economy has been under attack from the US for some time.
The expectations that a country that is under US attack should have a leader that is far above average in terms of ability to withstand the economic attack of a superpower with perfect, far seeing decisions is unreasonable. People lie that are rare and only occurred occasionally in history.

What does matter is that the Maduro government is doing the best it can for its people, rather than working in the interests of a foreign power to the detriment of its people.

As for a better leader - one that will resist the US and provide a better economy for Venezuela while under US sustained attack....

PavewayIV , Feb 3, 2019 8:33:23 PM | link
Bart Hansen@20 - Oil production costs are complex, secret and mostly lies. With that caveat, Venezuela was thought to have about $10 - $15 production costs on average. That includes their light and medium crude, and zero investment in repair of their distribution networks.

Well over half of Venezuela's reserves are Orinco extra-heavy, sour crude. Essentially tar sands, but buried 500m - 1500m deep that require solvent or steam extraction. So (guess) maybe $30-range/bbl for production. Those tar sand oils produced are so heavy that they need pre-processing and dilution before they can be refined or exported. Naphtha or other refined products are used as dilutent and cost maybe $55/bbl today, but were around $75/bbl last October.

U.S. refineries were pretty much the only ones paying cash for their 500,000 b/d of Venezuelan crude. Trump's sanctions not only ban those imports, but also ban the 120,000 b/d of naphtha and other dilutents we sold them.

Interesting to note that part of Trump's beat-down of the Venezuela little people is a ban on the 120,000 b/d of dilutent last week. That will completely shut down their exports. They could find another source of naphtha, but that source will be looking for $6.6 million a day hard cash for it.

Maduro needs to sell Venezuela's gold to buy naphtha to export oil for ANY revenue. The $2.5 billion the Bank of England can't find and won't deliver is meant to hasten the food riots and CIA-orchestrated coup. But Mercy Corps is setting up concentration camps on the Colombian border and we're delivering food aid, so the U.S. is really the hero, here. God bless America! Obey, or die.

Don Bacon , Feb 3, 2019 8:58:19 PM | link
@ Peter AU 1 | Feb 3, 2019 8:14:35 PM | 48

expectations that a country that is under US attack should have a leader that is far above average

I appreciate your discussion of leaders, but let's not forget the people. It has been the goal of the US to demonize leaders and go after them. Ho Chi Minh, Saddam Hussein, Bashar Assad, Osama Binh Laden etc. etc.

But it's the people not the leaders that have formed the most resistance. It took the US Army little time to track down big bad Saddam Hussein, but Baghdad wasn't pacified (controlled) for four years, and people elsewhere in Iraq fought the "liberators" like the very devil.

Apply that to Venezuela. Heck, you and me, we'd all respond the same way given a foreign invasion, right?

There are some warnings about avoiding dialogue and pushing a Venezuelan military option. The opposition's courting of military officers carries potential dangers. If it leads to a schism in the armed forces, that could be disastrous for the country, said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington policy anti-VZ forum.

A U.S. military incursion could have significant unintended consequences, "including a deterioration of our relationship with currently supportive countries in the region." -- Gustavo Arnavat, a former Obama administration official and a senior advisor to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Juan Guaido hopes that the United States will not use force in Venezuela, instead limiting pressure on Maduro's government to diplomatic and economic measures, the Colombian newspaper Tiempo reported Monday. . . here

Jackrabbit , Feb 3, 2019 9:16:38 PM | link
Don Bacon:
on VZ-- from WaPo Trump will "... actively intervene in the political upheaval in Venezuela ..."
Trump interventionism (humanitarian and otherwise) is now well-established. As is his preference for the swamp. #winning
Jen , Feb 3, 2019 10:37:30 PM | link
Red Ryder @ 30, Peter AU 1 @ 48:

If corruption or mismanaging a country's economy were justification for foreign intervention to remove a leader, Israelis should be lobbying Washington DC to remove Binyamin Netanyahu as their prime minister since he and his wife Sara have been charged by police for fraud and bribery.

Indeed, depending on how it defines corruption, whether vaguely or narrowly, and on what criteria, the US would have its work cut out for decades hunting down "corrupt" politicians.

mpn , Feb 3, 2019 11:32:07 PM | link
If I'm not mistaken the front page of the Washington Post, today showed a picture of a large pro-government protest, and claimed that it was an opposition protest.
frances , Feb 3, 2019 11:42:46 PM | link
This will be something to watch and may be part of the answer to why now, why did the US go after Venezula at this point. I think it is because Venezuela was historically captive to US refineries, but no longer. India is capable of refining Venezuela oil and has a significant demand for it. If India decides to do ignore the sanctions, I wonder if the US will impound tankers going to India?

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/how-one-of-venezuelas-last-oil-buyers-may-react-to-sanctions/articleshow/67753961.cms

And tankers to China as China is building a refinery just for Venezula oil, it isn't scheduled to come online until 2020, but perhaps China will push to make it happen asap?

www.ogj.com/articles/2017/06/venezuela-china-advance-plans-for-chinese-refinery.html

Miss Lacy , Feb 3, 2019 11:56:53 PM | link
to Paveway lV and Bart Hansen. It doesn't really matter the breakeven point for Venezuelan oil if they can't access the money. I just read (15 minutes ago) on Seeking Alpha, that Trump et al is blocking payments for Venezuelan oil. He is trying to force the payments into a blocked account such that Maduro's gov cannot access it but Guido can. There are still refineries in the US which need Venezuelan heavy crude to blend w/ the frack=crap. Volero is stated to have two tankers which it cannot unload due to the payments issue. This is an unusual way to provide "humanitarian aid."

Sorry I cannot give a link - the Seeking Alpha site seems to be done.

Re the Indian refineries, I believe they are currently buying Iranian oil so they may resist sanctions against Venezuela. However, according to Paeway lV, without naphtha Venezuela cannot pump oil. Maybe a swap with someone?

Paveway it's nice to see your byline again.

Cyril , Feb 4, 2019 12:24:35 AM | link
@jayc | Feb 3, 2019 5:37:59 PM | 33

The aid caravans will be entirely symbolic, and offer little to nothing to a population of over 30 million people.

I agree, Guaido's aid caravans will probably be something like 5% humanitarian and 95% for smuggling arms into Venezuela.

However, China has the largest container ships in the world. Just one visit from a vessel like the COSCO Shipping Universe could deliver more than 20,000 truckloads of stuff, which would probably dwarf anything Guano is envisaging (even if his "humanitarian" caravans were totally legitimate).

Would the Empire let it happen? I have little doubt that Bolton's sick enough to want to stop a true humanitarian effort, but as I'm not as sick as Bolton is (at least I hope so), I have a hard time imagining what excuse he could use to stop it -- especially after Guano's caravans.

Red Ryder , Feb 4, 2019 1:34:58 AM | link
@56, Jen,

I don't justify intervention anywhere (except in D.C. where the Tyranny and Hegemon resides). I point to missed opportunities, failures, corruption and not taking advice from your closest friends (China, Russia, Cuba). If they had brought in the Chinese petroleum experts and Russian economic experts, much of the disaster would have been avoided. When you have a huge enemy and you are weak and relatively small, you need help. Maduro waited until too late.

There were many object lessons for better practices and better preparation for the inevitable. Now, we can hope and pray that the Venezuelan people demonstrate their own will to resist against intervention and regime change. Because if it comes, their wealth will be stolen completely.

Russ , Feb 4, 2019 3:18:37 AM | link
A sane government which really wanted the best for the people would've launched a crash program to break free of the oil dependency which not only guarantees one remains at best a US-colonized power, but which requires the physical destruction of one's own land and the basis of one's future life.

I'm not just saying this about Venezuela, although destroying the Orinoco rain forest necessary for our very lives in order to extract heavy oil is perhaps the most extreme example on Earth of the self-destroying paradigm.

But any country afflicted with the oil curse ought to treat the deposits like very hot radioactive waste and enforce at all costs a Chernobyl-type non-go zone. This also would conserve critical ecological zones like the Amazon. If enough places did that simultaneously it would prevent the US from "opening them up" by force and accelerate the collapse of the empire and its globalization system. But any place which doesn't do this automatically becomes a de facto colony and a target for aggression intended to turn them into a de jure colony, as we see in this case.

From the evidence it seems that in the end a thing like Bolivarianism isn't offering any real alternative to the US paradigm. Both equally want to burn every last fossil BTU's worth, pump every last CO2 molecule, hack down and burn every last acre of forest. Both are on the same mass murder-suicide ride.

Do the Venezulean people really want a better life than this? The American people sure seem to want the worst.

Jen , Feb 4, 2019 5:44:26 AM | link
Red Ryder @ 61:

It's my understanding that when Chavez was President, he did bring Chinese and Vietnamese agriculture experts to Venezuela to study the country's potential for growing food staples. The Vietnamese experts identified areas which originally had been considered by their former wealthy owners as unproductive but which turned out to be ideal for growing rice.

"Venezuela Uses Recovered Land to Plant Rice with Vietnamese Assistance" (May 15, 2009)
https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/4449

"China interested in developing agriculture in Venezuela's 30 million hectares of land" (July 23, 2013)
http://en.mercopress.com/2013/07/23/china-interested-in-developing-agriculture-in-venezuela-s-30-million-hectares-of-land

Although Venezuela imports huge quantities of wheat from Russia, it's doubtful that Russians can give much agricultural advice as Venezuela lies in the tropics and Russia does not.

On the other hand, the way the Venezuelan government appears to be dealing with Juan Guaido, allowing him to shout in the wilderness and making himself look a fool, seems similar to the way Russia treats Alexei Navalny, letting him make an idiot of himself, and might suggest that Venezuela is taking advice from or copying Russia in this respect. Russia also sold two S300 anti-missile defence systems to Venezuela though I do not know how often the Venezuelans maintain them.

John Merryman , Feb 4, 2019 6:20:29 AM | link
Bevin,

Thanks for the correction. I tend to skim history. I think the point still stands, that politicians can't be left in control of the money supply. The impulse to abuse it is strong

Yonatan , Feb 4, 2019 7:09:51 AM | link
The Maduro demo seems to have taken place on the Avenue Bolivar which is about 20 meters wide and about 1.25 km long. The demo crowd appears to be packed so there could be 50 to 80 thousand people there. I haven't been able to locate the Guiado demo but it is possibly in the upscale Las Mercedas district not far from the US Embassy. The photos of the Guiado are generally close in and from a low angle which tends to exagerate the numbers. Even so, it does not appear to be as densely packed / extensive as the Maduro event.
Zanon , Feb 4, 2019 7:32:25 AM | link
More disgraceful news: Major EU nations recognize Guaido as Venezuela's acting president
Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and Germany's coordinated move came after the expiry of an eight-day deadline set last weekend for Maduro to call a new election. Austria and Lithuania also lined up behind the self-declared interim president Guaido.
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1446761/world

Maduro should kick each european nation out, NOW! He cannot wait any longer.

Russ , Feb 4, 2019 7:58:41 AM | link
Re Zanon 67

Self-evidently all the governments which have followed the US are not only agreeing but are acting in compliance with a pre-set US timetable. They all waited for the US to give the signal, then like synchronized swimmers performed according to choreography pre-determined by the US.

These European governments already were illegitimate in that they had surrendered sovereignty to the EU. Now they're doubly illegitimate in that they've openly exposed themselves as nothing but extensions of US policy. These are puppet governments.

So I'm not just joking when I say that any truly radical parties in Europe, "right" or "left", should declare these fake national governments illegitimate and set up their own shadow presidencies/premierships and governments.

arby , Feb 4, 2019 8:14:38 AM | link
Maduro to his navy --- "Today the future of Venezuela is decided: if it becomes one more star of the United States flag or if it will continue to fly its eight tricolor stars," said the president.

"You saw the failed coup plotters yesterday ... with the gringo flag behind them. They no longer hide, they no longer hide their identity. They no longer hide what they have inside, they want to deliver our country, in pieces, to the gringo empire and the local oligarchies."

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Nicolas-Maduro-Visits-Navy-Gives-Message-of-Unity-And-Strength-20190203-0012.html

arby , Feb 4, 2019 8:22:54 AM | link
Haiti is one of the countries that recognize Guano as president of Venezuela---

"Haiti's economy is reeling as unemployment & hunger is on the rise due to corruption & mismanagement under #PHTK ruling party. On Jan. 31 many businesses shuttered in many parts of the country as exchange rate of HT Gourd to US Dollar reached highest inflation yet.

Zanon , Feb 4, 2019 9:30:26 AM | link
Russ

Exactly. They are US puppets. Most obviously what we see is the most obvious top puppets in the EU; nordic, western europe and the baltics. The meddling is apparent, still the corrupt EU/US governments keep on with their aggression:

Russia: European recognition of Guaido foreign meddling in Venezuela
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/02/04/587639/Venezuela-Russia-crisis-Juan-Guaido

Clueless Joe , Feb 4, 2019 9:34:16 AM | link
Russ: "So I'm not just joking when I say that any truly radical parties in Europe, "right" or "left", should declare these fake national governments illegitimate and set up their own shadow presidencies/premierships and governments."

This, so totally this, so absolutely and definitively this. All these governments should be discarded and sued for breaching international norms. Spain is specially ridiculous. Isn't Sanchez supposed to be "left", and not liberal scum?

Kiza , Feb 4, 2019 9:42:22 AM | link
I would not call the puppet character a Random Guy because he was clearly groomed for the role over a number of years. Yet, he is obviously not a very capable guy because his claim to fame is, for example, stringing a metal wire across the road to kill random motorbike riders in a poor part of Caracas. Selection of such an untalented Murky Guy is another sign of the desperation of the AngloZionist empire to grab resources after the Syrian debacle.

As usual, the AZ regime change machine is mightily backed up by billions of puff dollars (printed out of thin air), but among the puppets, the tie-eating Saakashvili is Optimus Prime compared with the Murky Guy's leadership.

Ha, how 40 tons of the "barbaric relic" which disappeared from Ukraine after a similar "revolution" got to be mentioned also in relation to Venezuela. And nobody even remembers what happened to all the Ghadaffi's gold. You do not really think that hippo's Wooden Puppet Guido (lol) will ever get to even touch this banksters' secret favorite? It will just disappear into the Atlantic Ocean on the way to Guido. Just as carpenter Mastro Geppetto carved his Pinocchio out of block of wood, so did the hippo carve his Guido out of another block of rotting wood. This is why only the Italians, of all Europeans, could see through the mischievous acts of the long-nosed Guido and his puppet master.

Don Bacon , Feb 4, 2019 10:05:08 AM | link
Yesterday I linked to an AP article here on Charge d' Affaires James "Jimmy" Story who manages the US embassy in Caracas. In the article was: "Chief among his interlocutors is Rafael Lacava, governor of the central state of Carobobo, who presented him with a painting of two joined fists in the colours of the U.S. and Venezuelan flags that now hangs in the entrance to Story's official residence in Caracas."

So I looked up Rafael Lacava's twitter here which includes some glimpses of local life in the small state of Carabobo just west of Caracas. Carabobo State was the site of the Battle of Carabobo on 24 June 1821, a decisive win in the war of independence from Spain, and was led by Simón Bolívar. The capital city of this state is Valencia, which is also the country's main industrial center.
The tweets include some from Nicolas Maduro, including warnings that Trump wants another Vietnam in Venezuela.

Don Bacon , Feb 4, 2019 10:19:38 AM | link
Here's Guaido's twitter with the statements from European lackeys who fell under the US spell.
Virgile , Feb 4, 2019 10:33:48 AM | link
Russia has no choice than to boost the military to stand with Maduro. That may bring violence including possibly the physical elimination of Guaido. That may trigger the West to intervene militarily like in Libya without a UNSC approval. That would rally the Venezualians around Maduro and the army.

As the american ( except the neocons) are against a war at their borders, Trump will have to find a compromise. Ultimately the Russians may push for a military takeover once they identified a military leader. Trump will have to accept that if he does not want to invade Venezuela

james , Feb 4, 2019 11:13:55 AM | link
@76 kiza.. thanks.. that about sums it up..
Jackrabbit , Feb 4, 2019 11:32:11 AM | link
Well, the headline of this post is kinda problematic now ("U.S. Coup Attempt In Venezuela Lacks International Support"). I think it was problematic from the start, b, because 1) several countries had already joined with USA; 2) Europe's falling in line was never really in doubt. Note: The EU poodles have toed the line on Russia, Iran*, and now Venezuela.

=
* EU countries pretend to support JCPOA but have dragged their feet. Most commercial interests will not cross USA and the EU states have done little to discourage that. It has been announced that EuroSWIFT will be for humanitarian aid only.

JB , Feb 4, 2019 11:42:01 AM | link
It is important to remain as properly informed and nuanced as possible given the difficulties of access to reliable information in the world of today. I, therefore, contribute this link in which a Venezuelan sociologist presents a different view of the support Maduro has in the country : https://therealnews.com/stories/defusing-the-crisis-a-way-forward-for-venezuela.

I have no way of knowing the de facto situation, as most of us. I do, however, have experience of such turmoil, divisions, rallies and counter-rallies, lies, threats, etc. from a country, my country, that, sadly, no longer exists. I would say - we should listen to the people on the ground, always with a critical mind.

The implications of this barbaric assault for our world as whole, for South America and, of course, for Venezuela, are far reaching. The role of the EU and its largest states in this barbarism has been consistent and in the service of the US and European ruling class. The EU has been supporting, promoting and awarding the Venezuelan opposition for a long time. Now it is recognising the self-proclaimed person who wants to make Venezuela great again. Yet, my fellow Europeans are more or less silent, more or less indifferent and very badly informed. Being European is becoming a source of deep shame and we Europeans are starting to make excuses when we introduce ourselves, just like the better informed Americans have been doing. But there is a good side to this - all the masks have fallen off now. Everyone can see what the US and the EU really are.

If not today, tomorrow their barbarism will be recognised as their defining feature. One would think that change is then inevitable, even if long overdue.

Peter AU 1 , Feb 4, 2019 12:03:16 PM | link
JB 82
Often older articles written before the current Trump US demonization push are more accurate.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/20/venezuela-revolt-truth-not-terror-campaign

One piece in the article you linked to does not seem to match events. Maduro was elected president in what international observers said were a fair election. A number of opposition figures chose, of there own accord not to run in the election.

Your article says the majority of Venezuelans do not want Maduro as president, yet on a few weeks ago he was elected as president in a fair election.

Jason , Feb 4, 2019 12:20:03 PM | link
@3 PavewayIV The Bank of England gold issue is pretty crazy to think about. If the Bank of England can just give the Gold of a nation to a guy who just declares himself President without running for office than their is no rule of law regarding the gold stored by BoE from other countries. Surely any country that has assets held by other major UK, US banks should be moving towards retrieving their gold after this fiasco. Its very scary to see the highest parts of the banking sector; use of the Swift system; access to the US dollar and seizure of assets by the US courts being increasingly used in the aggressions of the empire. If Maduro is able to weather this storm and Venezuela is returned to some degree of stasis than Maduro will ask to repatriate all of the gold held in Europe in order to prevent its future seizure in case a Chavista is elected again next election. The BoE can't possibly just steal it based on politics can it?
Peter AU 1 , Feb 4, 2019 1:28:47 PM | link
One sure sign of Maduro's popularity in Venezuela is the calls for a new election in which Maduro is not allowed to participate. This was the same for Assad in Syria. The US know that in any free and fair election, both Assad and Maduro would at anytime gain the most votes.

Although Maduro was only recently inaugurated, the elections were May 2018. Maduro received 67.8 percent of the vote with a 46 percent voter turnout the next runners received 20.9 and 10.8 percent of the vote.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Venezuelan_presidential_election

The wikipedia page has the vote numbers, but the article mostly goes on about Maduro blocking opposition. If this were correct, then the US would not be vehemently opposed to Maduro even running in another election.

jayc , Feb 4, 2019 3:08:04 PM | link
What an embarrassment - Canada refused press credentials to Sputnik, RIA Novosti, and Telesur for its multi-national celebration of "smart power".

"Richard Walker, a spokesman for Canada's foreign ministry, explained to Sputnik's correspondent that the agency was denied accreditation because it "hasn't been cordial" with Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland in the past."

That is, the Russian media published factually correct information which demonstrated Freeland as less than candid regarding her family history. Her feelings were hurt, and her feelings apparently take precedent in her position as Foreign Minister.

The rational and sensible way forward in Venezuela - international mediation - continues to be rejected by the "interim president", the USA, and Canada's pet Lima Group project.

Instead, Guaido called for further "pressure", which is at this point limited to a further tightening of the economic isolation of the country. Canada seems to have anticipated this position by announcing a $53 million aid package which will be focussed on assisting current and future "refugees" headed to Columbia and Brazil.

Kiza , Feb 4, 2019 3:08:39 PM | link
@Jason 84

Hugo Chavez has repatriated most of Venezeulan gold whilst still alive. This is how the CIA and the Venezuelan Central Bank could invent the story that a part of this gold is being sent to Russia by Maduro. The 41 ton of Venezuelan gold still remain in Bank of England was a necessary collateral for buying naphtha (for pre-processing oil for export) and subsidised food for the Venezurlan population.

Once Western sanctions are imposed on a country, the only way anyone would trade with such credit-worthless country, is if hard assets are used as collateral. Maduro will probably be forced to send a part of the repatriated gold to Shanghai gold market, forcing the Venezuelan Centeral Bank by military force to dispatch, or the Venezuelans will go hungry. Having national gold under the Central Bank control is only second worst to having it under control of the Central Bank's foreign masters in BoE.

I cannot think of one Central Bank in all the countries of the World which is not under the control of the international (Jewish) banking cartel. If the "revolution" succeeds, the gold inside Venezuela will disappear just as the gold in BoE. Since 2017 Bolshevik Revolution, the revolutions are fueled by gold.

Don Bacon , Feb 4, 2019 3:45:05 PM | link
@Peter AU 1 | Feb 4, 2019 1:28:47 PM | 85
Maduro was elected president in what international observers said were a fair election.

The May 20, 2018 election it self was declared "free and fair" here by four independent committees who had camped outside the polling places but (as in the US and other "democratic" countries) the shenanigans leading up to the election called the fairness into question.

The elections were boycotted by the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition of opposition parties and dismissed as illegitimate by the United States, the European Union (EU), and14 Western Hemisphere nations (the Lima Group). So we can say for sure that the boycott was a tool to later call the elections illegitimate .

[How ironic since the US doesn't even (de facto) allow "opposition parties" (plural) but restricts the quadrennial show to two look-alike parties, which Ralph Nader referred to as tweedledum and tweedledee. Obviously neither of the two parties would ever boycott an election.]

UN rapporteur to Venezuela and expert on international law Alfred de Zayas:

"I believe in democracy. I believe in the ballot box. If you believe in democracy, you can not boycott an election. The name of the game is that you actually have to put your candidate out and expect that the people will vote for you or against you," he said, referring to the Venezuelan opposition's decision to boycott the recent presidential election, which saw Maduro re-elected. . . here

james , Feb 4, 2019 3:51:30 PM | link
@88 jayc.. yes - what an embarrassment.. canada with freeland is sinking lower and lower in mine and many peoples view..
Peter AU 1 , Feb 4, 2019 3:59:26 PM | link
Secretary of state John Kerry. "During my most recent visit to Kyiv, I was deeply impressed by all you have accomplished in the more than two years since the Revolution of Dignity."

Secretary of state Pompeo. "The United States stands with the brave people of Venezuela as they strive for a return to dignity and democracy."

This lot haven't much of an imagination. Just reading thev lines that were printed for the Ukraine show.

Jen , Feb 4, 2019 4:25:13 PM | link
Peter AU 1 @ 92:

Wash, rinse, repeat ... it's a wonder the battery on the laptop or iPad that gets passed down isn't waterlogged.

Canthama , Feb 4, 2019 5:17:45 PM | link
The whole US and vassal States plan was for a swift removal of Maduro, that did not happen thus time now runs in Maduro's favor. There won't a military invasion of Venezuela, there is no apetite for that in Latin America at all, nor the vast majority of the Latin Americans would support any sort of military intervention, even if head of States would promote it, thus leaving two options for the US:

1) A cruise missile attack to destroy Venezuela Military and Government building, following a false flag prepared and conducted by CIA's and Guaidó's supporter, such an attempt would be received worldwide as an aggression, though the false flag would be used as justification, that would not be tolerated by many many countries and could escalate in a ugly way, and or

2) An attempt to assassinate Maduro to be blamed on the Venezuelan Military thus leaving Guaidó out of it to legitimize him for power.

The second is a very likely scenario and may be in progress as of now.

[Feb 04, 2019] A banal case of highway robbery triggered by two very crude considerations

Notable quotes:
"... pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business ..."
Feb 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

Seriously, Ron Paul or Tulsi Gabbard speaking of democracy is one thing, but having gangsters and psychopathic thugs like Pompeo, Bolton or Abrams in charge really sends a message and that message is that we are dealing with a banal case of highway robbery triggered by two very crude considerations:

First, to re-take control of Venezuela's immense natural resources. Second, to prove to the world that Uncle Shmuel can still, quote , " pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business ", unquote.

President Macrobama ?

The obvious problem is that 1) nobody takes the US seriously because 2) the US has not been capable of defeating any country capable of resistance since many decades already. The various US special forces, which would typically spearhead any invasion, have an especially appalling record of abject failures every time they stop posing for cameras and have to engage in real combat. I assure you that nobody in the Venezuelan military cares about movies like "Rambo" or "Delta Force" while they carefully studied US FUBARs in Somalia, Grenada, Iran and elsewhere. You can also bet that the Cubans, who have had many years of experience dealing with the (very competent) South African special forces in Angola and elsewhere will share their experience with their Venezuelan colleagues.

[Feb 04, 2019] US Sanctions as a Tool To Perpetuate Neocolonialism

Feb 04, 2019 | original.antiwar.com

US Sanctions as a Tool To Perpetuate Neocolonialism

by Nauman Sadiq Posted on February 02, 2019 January 31, 2019 It's an evident fact that neocolonial powers are ruled by behemoth corporations whose wealth is measured in hundreds of billions of dollars, far more than the total GDP of many developing nations. The status of these multinational corporations as dominant players in international politics gets official imprimatur when the Western governments endorse the congressional lobbying practice of so-called "special interest" groups, which is a euphemism for corporate interests.

Since the Western governments are nothing but the mouthpiece of business interests on international political and economic forums, therefore any national or international entity which hinders or opposes the agenda of corporate interests is either coerced into accepting their demands or gets sidelined.

In 2013, the Manmohan Singh's government of India had certain objections to further opening up to the Western businesses. The Business Roundtable, which is an informal congregation of major US businesses and together holds a net wealth of $6 trillion, held a meeting with the representatives of the Indian government and literally coerced it into accepting unfair demands of the Western corporations.

The developing economies, such as India and Pakistan, are always hungry for foreign direct investment (FDI) to sustain economic growth, and this investment mostly comes from the Western corporations. When the Business Roundtables or the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) form pressure groups and engage in "collective bargaining" activities, the nascent and fragile developing economies don't have a choice but to toe their line.

State sovereignty, that sovereign nation states are at liberty to pursue independent policies, particularly economic and trade policies, is a myth. Just like the ruling elites of the developing countries which maintain a stranglehold and monopoly over domestic politics; similarly, the neocolonial powers and multinational corporations control international politics and the global economic order.

Any state in the international arena which dares to transgress the trade and economic policies laid down by neocolonial powers and multinational corporations becomes an international pariah like Castro's Cuba, Mugabe's Zimbabwe; or more recently, Maduro's Venezuela.

Venezuela has one of the largest known oil reserves in the world. Even though the mainstream media's pundits hold the socialist policies of President Nicolas Maduro responsible for economic mismanagement in Venezuela, fact of the matter is that hyperinflation in its economy is the effect of US sanctions against Venezuela which have been put in place since the time of late President Hugo Chavez.

Another case in point is Iran which was cut off from the global economic system from 2006 to 2015, and then again after May last year when President Donald Trump annulled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), because of Iran's supposed nuclear ambitions. Good for Iran that it also has one of the largest oil and gas resources, otherwise it would have been insolvent by now.

Such is the power of Washington-led global financial system, especially the banking sector, and the significance of petrodollar, because the global oil transactions are pegged in the US dollars all over the world, and all the major oil bourses are also located in the Western financial districts.

The crippling "third party" economic sanctions on Iran from 2006 to 2015 have brought to the fore the enormous power that the Western financial institutions and the petrodollar as a global reserve currency wields over the global financial system.

It bears mentioning that the Iranian nuclear negotiations were as much about Iran's nuclear program as they were about its ballistic missile program, which is an equally dangerous conventional threat to Israel and the Gulf's petro-monarchies, just across the Persian Gulf.

Despite the sanctions being unfair, Iran felt the heat so much that it remained engaged in negotiations throughout the nearly decade-long period of sanctions, and such was the crippling effect of those "third party" sanctions on Iran's economy that had it not been for its massive oil and gas reserves, and some Russian, Chinese and Turkish help in illicitly buying Iranian oil, it could have defaulted due to the sanctions.

Notwithstanding, after the brutal assassination of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and the clear hand of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the murder, certain naïve political commentators of the mainstream media came up with a ludicrous suggestion that Washington should impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia.

As in the case of aforementioned Iran sanctions, sanctioning Saudi Arabia also seems plausible; however, there is a caveat: Iran is only a single oil-rich state which has 160 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and has the capacity to produce 5 million barrels per day (mbpd) of crude oil.

On the other hand, the Persian Gulf's petro-monarchies are actually three oil-rich states. Saudi Arabia with its 266 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and 10 mbpd of daily crude oil production, and UAE and Kuwait with 100 billion barrels of proven reserves, each, and 3 mbpd of daily crude oil production, each. Together, the share of the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) amounts to 466 billion barrels, almost one-third of the world's 1477 billion barrels of total proven oil reserves.

Therefore, although imposing economic sanctions on the Gulf states might sound like a good idea on paper, the relationship between the Gulf's petro-monarchies and the industrialized world is that of a consumer-supplier relationship. The Gulf states are the suppliers of energy and the industrialized world is its consumer, hence the Western powers cannot sanction their energy suppliers and largest investors.

If anything, the Gulf's petro-monarchies had "sanctioned" the Western powers in the past by imposing the oil embargo in 1973 after the Arab-Israel War. The 1973 Arab oil embargo against the West lasted only for a short span of six months during which the price of oil quadrupled, but Washington became so paranoid after the embargo that it put in place a ban on the export of crude oil outside the US borders, and began keeping sixty-day stock of reserve fuel for strategic and military needs.

Recently, some very upbeat rumors about the shale revolution have been circulating in the media. However, the shale revolution is primarily a natural gas revolution. It has increased the probable recoverable resources of natural gas by 30%. The shale oil, on the other hand, refers to two starkly different kinds of energy resources: firstly, the solid kerogen – though substantial resources of kerogen have been found in the US Green River formations, the cost of extracting liquid crude from solid kerogen is so high that it is economically unviable for at least a hundred years; secondly, the tight oil which is blocked by shale – it is a viable energy resource but the reserves are so limited, roughly 4 billion barrels in Texas and North Dakota, that it will run out in a few years.

More than the size of oil reserves, it is about per barrel extraction cost, which determines the profits for the multinational oil companies. And in this regard, the Persian Gulf's crude oil is the most profitable. Further, regarding the supposed US energy independence after the purported shale revolution, the US produced 11 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in the first quarter of 2014, which was more than the output of Saudi Arabia and Russia, each of which produces around 10 million bpd. But the US still imported 7.5 million bpd during the same period, which was more than the oil imports of France and Britain put together. More than the total volume of oil production, the volume which an oil-producing country exports determines its place in the hierarchy of petroleum and the Gulf's petro-monarchies constitute the top tier of that pyramid.

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism.

[Feb 04, 2019] Trump s Revised and Rereleased Foreign Policy: The World Policeman is Back

Highly recommended!
This article from 2017 looks like it was written yesterday. Trump betrayal of his elctorate on multiple levels, essentially on all key poin of his election program mkes him "Republican Obama".
What is interesting about Trump foreign policy is his version of neoliberal "gangster capitalism" on foreign arena: might is right principle applied like universal opener. Previous administrations tried to put a lipstick on the pig. Trump does not even bother.
In terms of foreign policy, and even during the transition before Trump's inauguration, there were other, more disturbing signs of where Trump would be heading soon. When Fidel Castro died on November 25, 2016, Trump seemed jubilant as if he had somehow been vindicated, and took the opportunity to slander Castro as a "brutal dictator" who "oppressed his own people" and turned Cuba into a "totalitarian island".
Notable quotes:
"... However, when he delivered his inaugural address on January 20, 2017, Trump appeared to reaffirm his campaign themes of anti-interventionism. In particular he seemed to turn the government's back on a long-standing policy of cultural imperialism , stating: "We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone". In addition he said his government would "seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world," and he understood the importance of national sovereignty when he added, "it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first". ..."
"... Yet when it came to Russia, Trump could have instantly removed sanctions that were imposed by Obama in his last weeks in office -- an irresponsible and dangerous act by Obama, where foreign policy was used as a partisan tool in the service of shoring up a crummy conspiracy theory about "Russian hacking" in order to deny the Democrats any culpability in their much deserved defeat. ..."
"... The entire conflict with Russia that has developed in recent years, on the US side, was totally unnecessary, illogical, and quite preventable. ..."
"... Just two weeks after violating his promise to end the US role as the world's policeman and his vow to extricate the US from wars for regime change, Trump sold out again. "I love WikiLeaks -- " -- this is what Trump exclaimed in a speech on October 10, 2016. Trump's about-face on WikiLeaks is thus truly astounding. ..."
"... AP: If I could fit a couple of more topics. Jeff Sessions, your attorney general, is taking a tougher line suddenly on Julian Assange, saying that arresting him is a priority. You were supportive of what WikiLeaks was doing during the campaign with the release of the Clinton emails. Do you think that arresting Assange is a priority for the United States? ..."
"... AP: But that didn't mean that you supported what Assange is doing? ..."
"... AP: Can I just ask you, though -- do you believe it is a priority for the United States, or it should be a priority, to arrest Julian Assange? ..."
"... While there is no denying the extensive data about the severe impacts of NAFTA on select states and industries in the US, witnessed by the closure of tens of thousands of factories and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, there is little support for the claim that Canada and Mexico, as wholes, have instead fared well and that the US as a whole has been the loser thanks to them. ..."
"... Since NAFTA was implemented, migration from Mexico to the US skyrocketed dramatically. US agricultural industries sent millions of Mexican farmers into food poverty, and ultimately drove them away from agriculture ..."
"... As for per capita GDP, so treasured by economists, NAFTA had no positive impact on Mexico -- in fact, per capita GDP is nearly a flat line for the entire period since 1994. Finally, Trump does not mention that in terms of the number of actual protectionist measures that have been implemented, the US leads the world . ..."
"... To put Trump's position on NAFTA in bold relief, it is not that he is decidedly against free trade. In fact, he often claims he supports free trade, as long as it is "fair". However, his notion of fairness is very lopsided -- a trade agreement is fair only when the US reaps the greater share of benefits. ..."
"... As argued in the previous section, if Trump is to be the newfound champion of this imperialism -- empire's prodigal son -- then what an abysmally poor choice he is ..."
"... On the one hand, he helped to unleash US anti-interventionism (usually called "isolationism" not to call it anti-imperialism, which would then admit to imperialism which is still denied by most of the dominant elites). On the other hand, in trying to now contain such popular sentiment, he loses credibility -- after having lost credibility with the groups his campaign displaced. ..."
"... As for Trump's domestic opposition, what should be most pertinent are issues of conflict of interest and nepotism . Here members of Trump's base are more on target yet again, when they reject the presence of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in the White House ("we didn't elect Ivanka or Jared"), than are those distracted by identity politics. ..."
"... As Trump leverages the presidency to upgrade the Trump family to the transnational capitalist class, and reinforces the power of US imperialism which that class has purchased, conflict of interest and nepotism will be the main political signposts of the transformation of the Trump presidency, but they could also be the targets for a refined strategy of opposition. ..."
Aug 09, 2017 | zeroanthropology.net

Trump could have kept quiet, and lost nothing. Instead what he was attacking -- and the irony was missed on his fervently right wing supporters -- was someone who was a leader in the anti-globalist movement, from long before it was ever called that. Fidel Castro was a radical pioneer of independence, self-reliance, and self-determination.

Castro turned Cuba from an American-owned sugar plantation and brothel, a lurid backwater in the Caribbean, into a serious international actor opposed to globalizing capitalism. There was no sign of any acknowledgment of this by Trump, who instead chose to parrot the same people who would vilify him using similar terms (evil, authoritarian, etc.). Of course, Trump respects only corporate executives and billionaires, not what he would see as some rag-tag Third World revolutionary. Here Trump's supporters generally failed, using Castro's death as an opportunity for tribal partisanship, another opportunity to attack "weak liberals" like Obama who made minor overtures to Cuba (too little, too late).

Their distrust of "the establishment" was nowhere to be found this time: their ignorance of Cuba and their resort to stock clichés and slogans had all been furnished to them by the same establishment they otherwise claimed to oppose.

Just to be clear, the above is not meant to indicate any reversal on Trump's part regarding Cuba. He has been consistently anti-communist, and fairly consistent in his denunciations of Fidel Castro. What is significant is that -- far from overcoming the left-right divide -- Trump shores up the barriers, even at the cost of denouncing others who have a proven track record of fighting against neoliberal globalization and US interventionism. In these regards, Trump has no track record. Even among his rivals in the Republican primaries, senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul had more of an anti-interventionist track record.

However, when he delivered his inaugural address on January 20, 2017, Trump appeared to reaffirm his campaign themes of anti-interventionism. In particular he seemed to turn the government's back on a long-standing policy of cultural imperialism , stating: "We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone". In addition he said his government would "seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world," and he understood the importance of national sovereignty when he added, "it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first".

Russia

Yet when it came to Russia, Trump could have instantly removed sanctions that were imposed by Obama in his last weeks in office -- an irresponsible and dangerous act by Obama, where foreign policy was used as a partisan tool in the service of shoring up a crummy conspiracy theory about "Russian hacking" in order to deny the Democrats any culpability in their much deserved defeat.

Instead, Trump continued the sanctions, as if out of meek deference to Obama's policy, one founded on lies and antagonism toward Trump himself. Rather than repair the foul attempt to sabotage the US-Russian relationship in preparation for his presidency, Trump simply abided and thus became an accomplice. To be clear, Trump has done precisely nothing to dampen the near mass hysteria that has been manufactured in the US about alleged -- indeed imaginary -- "Russian intervention".

His comments, both during the electoral campaign and even early into his presidency, about wanting good relations with Russia, have been replaced by Trump's admissions that US relations with Russia are at a low point (Putin agreed: "I would say the level of trust [between Russia and the US] is at a workable level, especially in the military dimension, but it hasn't improved. On the contrary, it has degraded " and his spokesman called the relations " deplorable ".)

Rather than use the power of his office to calm fears, to build better ties with Russia, and to make meeting with Vladimir Putin a top priority, Trump has again done nothing , except escalating tensions. The entire conflict with Russia that has developed in recent years, on the US side, was totally unnecessary, illogical, and quite preventable. Russia had actively facilitated the US' war in Afghanistan for over a decade, and was a consistent collaborator on numerous levels. It is up to thinking American officials to honestly explain what motivated them to tilt relations with Russia, because it is certainly not Russia's doing. The only explanation that makes any sense is that the US leadership grew concerned that Russia was no longer teetering on the edge of total socio-economic breakdown, as it was under the neoliberal Boris Yeltsin, but has instead resurfaced as a major actor in international affairs, and one that champions anti-neoliberal objectives of enhanced state sovereignty and self-determination.

WikiLeaks

Just two weeks after violating his promise to end the US role as the world's policeman and his vow to extricate the US from wars for regime change, Trump sold out again. "I love WikiLeaks -- " -- this is what Trump exclaimed in a speech on October 10, 2016. Trump's about-face on WikiLeaks is thus truly astounding.

After finding so much use for WikiLeaks' publication of the Podesta emails, which became incorporated into his campaign speeches, and which fuelled the writing and speaking of journalists and bloggers sympathetic to Trump -- he was now effectively declaring WikiLeaks to be both an enemy and a likely target of US government action, in even more blunt terms than we heard during the past eight years under Obama. This is not mere continuity with the past, but a dramatic escalation. Rather than praise Julian Assange for his work, call for an end to the illegal impediments to his seeking asylum, swear off any US calls for extraditing and prosecuting Assange, and perhaps meeting with him in person, Trump has done all of the opposite. Instead we learn that Trump's administration may file arrest charges against Assange . Mike Pompeo , chosen by Trump to head the CIA, who had himself cited WikiLeaks as a reliable source of proof about how the Democratic National Committee had rigged its campaign, now declared WikiLeaks to be a " non-state hostile intelligence service ," along with vicious personal slander against Assange.

Trump's about-face on WikiLeaks was one that he defended in terms that were not just a deceptive rewriting of history, but one that was also fearful -- "I don't support or unsupport" WikiLeaks, was what Trump was now saying in his dash for the nearest exit. The backtracking is so obvious in this interview Trump gave to the AP , that his shoes must have left skid marks on the floor:

AP: If I could fit a couple of more topics. Jeff Sessions, your attorney general, is taking a tougher line suddenly on Julian Assange, saying that arresting him is a priority. You were supportive of what WikiLeaks was doing during the campaign with the release of the Clinton emails. Do you think that arresting Assange is a priority for the United States?

TRUMP: When Wikileaks came out never heard of Wikileaks, never heard of it. When Wikileaks came out, all I was just saying is, "Well, look at all this information here, this is pretty good stuff." You know, they tried to hack the Republican, the RNC, but we had good defenses. They didn't have defenses, which is pretty bad management. But we had good defenses, they tried to hack both of them. They weren't able to get through to Republicans. No, I found it very interesting when I read this stuff and I said, "Wow." It was just a figure of speech. I said, "Well, look at this. It's good reading."

AP: But that didn't mean that you supported what Assange is doing?

TRUMP: No, I don't support or unsupport. It was just information .

AP: Can I just ask you, though -- do you believe it is a priority for the United States, or it should be a priority, to arrest Julian Assange?

TRUMP: I am not involved in that decision, but if Jeff Sessions wants to do it, it's OK with me. I didn't know about that decision, but if they want to do it, it's OK with me.

First, Trump invents the fictitious claim that WikiLeaks was responsible for hacking the DNC, and that WikiLeaks also tried to hack the Republicans. Second, he pretends to be an innocent bystander, a spectator, in his own administration -- whatever others decide, is "OK" with him, not that he knows about their decisions, but it's all up to others. He has no power, all of a sudden.

Again, what Trump is displaying in this episode is his ultimate attachment to his class, with all of its anxieties and its contempt for rebellious, marginal upstarts. Trump shuns any sort of "loyalty" to WikiLeaks (not that they ever had a working relationship) or any form of gratitude, because then that would imply a debt and therefore a transfer of value -- whereas Trump's core ethics are those of expedience and greed (he admits that much). This move has come with a cost , with members of Trump's support base openly denouncing the betrayal. 6

NAFTA

On NAFTA , Trump claims he has not changed his position -- yet, from openly denouncing the free trade agreement and promising to terminate it, he now vows only to seek modifications and amendments, which means supporting NAFTA. He appeared to be awfully quick to obey the diplomatic pressure of Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and Mexico's President, Enrique Peña Nieto. Trump's entire position on NAFTA now comes into question.

While there is no denying the extensive data about the severe impacts of NAFTA on select states and industries in the US, witnessed by the closure of tens of thousands of factories and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, there is little support for the claim that Canada and Mexico, as wholes, have instead fared well and that the US as a whole has been the loser thanks to them.

This really deserves to be treated at length, separately from this article. However, for now, let's keep in mind that when Trump complains about Canadian softwood lumber and dairy exports to the US, his argument about NAFTA is without merit. Neither commodity is part of the NAFTA agreement.

Moreover, where dairy is concerned, the problem is US overproduction. Wisconsin alone has more dairy cows than all of Canada . There is a net surplus , in the US' favour, with respect to US dairy exports to Canada. Overall, the US has a net surplus in the trade in goods and services with Canada. Regarding Mexico, the irony of Trump's denunciations of imaginary Mexican victories is that he weakens his own criticisms of immigration.

Since NAFTA was implemented, migration from Mexico to the US skyrocketed dramatically. US agricultural industries sent millions of Mexican farmers into food poverty, and ultimately drove them away from agriculture.

As for per capita GDP, so treasured by economists, NAFTA had no positive impact on Mexico -- in fact, per capita GDP is nearly a flat line for the entire period since 1994. Finally, Trump does not mention that in terms of the number of actual protectionist measures that have been implemented, the US leads the world .

To put Trump's position on NAFTA in bold relief, it is not that he is decidedly against free trade. In fact, he often claims he supports free trade, as long as it is "fair". However, his notion of fairness is very lopsided -- a trade agreement is fair only when the US reaps the greater share of benefits.

His arguments with respect to Canada are akin to those of a looter or raider. He wants to block lumber imports from Canada, at the same time as he wants to break the Canadian dairy market wide open to absorb US excess production. That approach is at the core of what defined the US as a "new empire" in the 1800s. In addition, while Trump was quick to tear up the TPP, he has said nothing about TISA and TTIP.

Mexico

Trump's argument with Mexico is also disturbing for what it implies. It would seem that any evidence of production in Mexico causes Trump concern. Mexico should not only keep its people -- however many are displaced by US imports -- but it should also be as dependent as possible on the US for everything except oil. Since Trump has consistently declared his antagonism to OPEC, ideally Mexico's oil would be sold for a few dollars per barrel.

China

Trump's turn on China almost provoked laughter from his many domestic critics. Absurdly, what figures prominently in most renditions of the story of Trump's change on China (including his own), is a big piece of chocolate cake. The missile strike on Syria was, according to Wilbur Ross, the " after-dinner entertainment ". Here, Trump's loud condemnations of China on trade issues were suddenly quelled -- and it is not because chocolate has magical properties. Instead it seems Trump has been willing to settle on selling out citizens' interests , and particularly those who voted for him, in return for China's assistance on North Korea. Let's be clear: countering and dominating North Korea is an established favourite among neoconservatives. Trump's priority here is fully "neocon," and the submergence of trade issues in favour of militaristic preferences is the one case where neoconservatives might be distinguished from the otherwise identical neoliberals.

North Korea

Where North Korea is concerned, Trump chose to manufacture a " crisis ". North Korea has actually done nothing to warrant a sudden outbreak of panic over it being supposedly aggressive and threatening. North Korea is no more aggressive than any person defending their survival can be called belligerent. The constant series of US military exercises in South Korea, or near North Korean waters, is instead a deliberate provocation to a state whose existence the US nearly extinguished. Even last year the US Air Force publicly boasted of having "nearly destroyed" North Korea -- language one would have expected from the Luftwaffe in WWII. The US continues to maintain roughly 60,000 troops on the border between North and South Korea, and continues to refuse to formally declare an end to the Korean War and sign a peace treaty . Trump then announced he was sending an "armada" to the Korean peninsula, and boasted of how "very powerful" it was. This was in addition to the US deploying the THAAD missile system in South Korea. Several of his messages in Twitter were written using highly provocative and threatening language. When asked if he would start a war, Trump glibly replied: " I don't know. I mean, we'll see ". On another occasion Trump stated, "There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely". When the world's leading military superpower declares its intention to destroy you, then there is nothing you can do in your defense which anyone could justly label as "over the top". Otherwise, once again Trump posed as a parental figure, the world's chief babysitter -- picture Trump, surrounded by children taking part in the "Easter egg roll" at the White House, being asked about North Korea and responding "they gotta behave". Trump would presume to teach manners to North Korea, using the only tools of instruction that seem to be the first and last resort of US foreign policy (and the "defense" industry): bombs.

Syria

Attacking Syria , on purportedly humanitarian grounds, is for many (including vocal supporters) one of the most glaring contradictions of Trump's campaign statements about not embroiling the US in failed wars of regime change and world policing. During the campaign, he was in favour of Russia's collaboration with Syria in the fight against ISIS. For years he had condemned Obama for involving the US in Syria, and consistently opposed military intervention there. All that was consigned to the archive of positions Trump declared to now be worthless. That there had been a change in Trump's position is not a matter of dispute -- Trump made the point himself :

"I like to think of myself as a very flexible person. I don't have to have one specific way, and if the world changes, I go the same way, I don't change. Well, I do change and I am flexible, and I'm proud of that flexibility. And I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me -- big impact. That was a horrible, horrible thing. And I've been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn't get any worse than that. And I have that flexibility, and it's very, very possible -- and I will tell you, it's already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much. And if you look back over the last few weeks, there were other attacks using gas. You're now talking about a whole different level".

Bending to the will of the prevailing Cold War and neo-McCarthyist atmosphere in the US, rife with anti-Russian conspiracy theories, Trump found an easy opportunity to score points with the hostile media, ever so mindful as he is about approval ratings, polls, and media coverage. Some explain Trump's reversals as arising from his pursuit of public adulation -- and while the media play the key role in purveying celebrity status, they are also a stiff bastion of imperialist culture. Given his many years as a the host of a popular TV show, and as the owner of the Miss Universe Pageant, there is some logical merit to the argument. But I think even more is at work, as explained in paragraphs above. According to Eric Trump it was at the urging of Ivanka that Donald Trump decided to strike a humanitarian-militarist pose. He would play the part of the Victorian parent, only he would use missiles to teach unruly children lessons about violence. Using language typically used against him by the mainstream media, Trump now felt entitled to pontificate that Assad is "evil," an " animal ," who would have to go . When did he supposedly come to this realization? Did Assad become evil at the same time Trump was inaugurated? Why would Trump have kept so silent about "evil" on the campaign trail? Trump of course is wrong: it's not that the world changed and he changed with it; rather, he invented a new fiction to suit his masked intentions. Trump's supposed opponents and critics, like the Soros-funded organizer of the women's march Linda Sarsour, showed her approval of even more drastic action by endorsing messages by what sounded like a stern school mistress who thought that 59 cruise missiles were just a mere "slap on the wrist". Virtually every neocon who is publicly active applauded Trump, as did most senior Democrats. The loudest opposition , however, came from Trump's own base , with a number of articles featuring criticism from Trump's supporters , and one conservative publication calling him outright a " weakling and a political ingrate ".

Members of the Trump administration have played various word games with the public on intervention in Syria. From unnamed officials saying the missile strike was a "one off," to named officials promising more if there were any other suspected chemical attacks (or use of barrel bombs -- and this while the US dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb in existence on Afghanistan); some said that regime change was not the goal, and then others made it clear that was the ultimate goal ; and then Trump saying, "Our policy is the same, it hasn't changed. We're not going into Syria " -- even though Trump himself greatly increased the number of US troops he deployed to Syria , illegally, in an escalation of the least protested invasion in recent history. Now we should know enough not to count this as mere ambiguity, but as deliberate obfuscation that offers momentary (thinly veiled) cover for a renewal of neocon policy .

We can draw an outline of Trump's liberal imperialism when it comes to Syria, which is likely to be applied elsewhere. First, Trump's interventionist policy regarding Syria is one that continues to treat that country as if it were terra nullius , a mere playground for superpower politics. Second, Trump is clearly continuing with the neoconservative agenda and its hit list of states to be terminated by US military action, as famously confirmed by Gen. Wesley Clark. Even Trump's strategy for justifying the attack on Syria echoed the two prior Bush presidential administrations -- selling war with the infamous "incubator babies" myth and the myth of "weapons of mass destruction" (WMDs). In many ways, Trump's presidency is thus shaping up to be either the seventh term of the George H.W. Bush regime, or the fifth straight term of the George W. Bush regime. Third, Trump is taking ownership of an extremely dangerous conflict, with costs that could surpass anything witnessed by the war on Iraq (which also continues). Fourth, by highlighting the importance of photographs in allegedly changing his mind, Trump has placed a high market value on propaganda featuring dead babies. His actions in Syria will now create an effective demand for the pornographic trade in pictures of atrocities. These are matters of great importance to the transnational capitalist class, which demands full global penetrability, diminished state power (unless in the service of this class' goals), a uniformity of expectations and conformity in behaviour, and an emphasis on individual civil liberties which are the basis for defending private property and consumerism.

Venezuela

It is very disturbing to see how Venezuela is being framed as ripe for US intervention, in ways that distinctly echo the lead up to the US war on Libya. Just as disturbing is that Trump's Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has a clear conflict of interest regarding Venezuela, from his recent role as CEO of Exxon and its conflict with the government of Venezuela over its nationalization of oil. Tillerson is, by any definition, a clear-cut member of the transnational capitalist class. The Twitter account of the State Department has a battery of messages sternly lecturing Venezuela about the treatment of protesters, while also pontificating on the Venezuelan Constitution as if the US State Department had become a global supreme court. What is impressive is the seamless continuity in the nature of the messages on Venezuela from that account, as if no change of government happened between Obama's time and Trump's. Nikki Haley, Trump's neocon ambassador to the UN, issued a statement that read like it had been written by her predecessors, Samantha Power and Susan Rice, a statement which in itself is an unacceptable intervention in Venezuelan internal affairs. For Trump's part, from just days before the election, to a couple of weeks after his inauguration, he has sent explicit messages of support for anti-government forces in Venezuela. In February, Trump imposed sanctions on Venezuela's Vice President. After Syria and North Korea, Venezuela is seeming the likely focus of US interventionism under Trump.

NATO

Rounding out the picture, at least for now (this was just the first hundred days of Trump's presidency), was Trump's outstanding reversal on NATO -- in fact, once again he stated the reversal himself, and without explanation either: " I said it was obsolete. It's no longer obsolete ". This came just days after the US missile strike against Syria, and just as Ivanka Trump was about to represent his government at a meeting of globalist women, the W20 . NATO has served as the transnational military alliance at the service of the transnational capitalist class, and particularly the military and political members of the TCC. 7

Saving Neoliberalism?

Has Trump saved neoliberal capitalism from its ongoing demise? Has he sustained popular faith in liberal political ideals? Are we still in the dying days of liberalism ? If there had been a centrally coordinated plan to plant an operative among the ranks of populist conservatives and independents, to channel their support for nationalism into support for the persona of the plant, and to then have that plant steer a course straight back to shoring up neoliberal globalism -- then we might have had a wonderful story of a masterful conspiracy, the biggest heist in the history of elections anywhere. A truly "rigged system" could be expected to behave that way. Was Trump designated to take the fall in a rigged game, only his huge ego got in the way when he realized he could realistically win the election and he decided to really tilt hard against his partner, Hillary Clinton? It could be the basis for a novel, or a Hollywood political comedy. I have no way of knowing if it could be true.

Framed within the terms of what we do know, there was relief by the ousted group of political elites and the liberal globalist media at the sight of Trump's reversals, and a sense that their vision had been vindicated. However, if they are hoping that the likes of Trump will serve as a reliable flag bearer, then theirs is a misguided wishful thinking. If someone so demonized and ridiculed, tarnished as an evil thug and racist fascist, the subject of mass demonstrations in the US and abroad, is the latest champion of (neo)liberalism, then we are certainly witnessing its dying days.

Is Trump Beneficial for Anti-Imperialism?

Once one is informed enough and thus prepared to understand that anti-imperialism is not the exclusive preserve of the left (a left which anyway has mostly shunned it over the last two decades), that it did not originate with the left , and that it has a long and distinguished history in the US itself , then we can move toward some interesting realizations. The facts, borne out by surveys and my own online immersion among pro-Trump social media users, is that one of the significant reasons why Trump won is due to the growth in popularity of basic anti-imperialist principles (even if not recognized under that name): for example, no more world policing, no transnational militarization, no more interventions abroad, no more regime change, no war, and no globalism. Nationalists in Europe, as in Russia, have also pushed forward a basic anti-imperialist vision. Whereas in Latin America anti-imperialism is largely still leftist, in Europe and North America the left-right divide has become blurred, but the crucial thing is that at least now we can speak of anti-imperialism gaining strength in these three major continents. Resistance against globalization has been the primary objective, along with strengthening national sovereignty, protecting local cultural identity, and opposing free trade and transnational capital. Unfortunately, some anti-imperialist writers (on the left in fact) have tended to restrict their field of vision to military matters primarily, while almost completely neglecting the economic and cultural, and especially domestic dimensions of imperialism. (I am grossly generalizing of course, but I think it is largely accurate.) Where structures such as NAFTA are concerned, many of these same leftist anti-imperialists, few as they are, have had virtually nothing to say. It could be that they have yet to fully recognize that the transnational capitalist class has, gradually over the last seven decades, essentially purchased the power of US imperialism. Therefore the TCC's imperialism includes NAFTA, just as it includes open borders, neoliberal identity politics, and drone strikes. They are all different parts of the same whole.

As argued in the previous section, if Trump is to be the newfound champion of this imperialism -- empire's prodigal son -- then what an abysmally poor choice he is. 8

On the one hand, he helped to unleash US anti-interventionism (usually called "isolationism" not to call it anti-imperialism, which would then admit to imperialism which is still denied by most of the dominant elites). On the other hand, in trying to now contain such popular sentiment, he loses credibility -- after having lost credibility with the groups his campaign displaced. In addition to that, given that his candidacy aggravated internal divisions in the US, which have not subsided with his assumption of office, these domestic social and cultural conflicts cause a serious deficit of legitimacy, a loss of political capital. A declining economy will also deprive him of capital in the strict sense. Moreover, given the kind of persona the media have crafted, the daily caricaturing of Trump will significantly spur anti-Americanism around the world. If suddenly even Canadian academics are talking about boycotting the US, then the worm has truly turned. Trump can only rely on "hard power" (military violence), because "soft power" is almost out of the question now that Trump has been constructed as a barbarian. Incompetent and/or undermined governance will also render Trump a deficient upholder of the status quo. The fact that nationalist movements around the world are not centrally coordinated, and their fortunes are not pinned to those of Trump, establishes a well-defined limit to his influence. Trump's antagonism toward various countries -- as wholes -- has already helped to stir up a deep sediment of anti-Americanism. If Americanism is at the heart of Trump's nationalist globalism, then it is doing all the things that are needed to induce a major heart attack.

As for Trump's domestic opposition, what should be most pertinent are issues of conflict of interest and nepotism . Here members of Trump's base are more on target yet again, when they reject the presence of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in the White House ("we didn't elect Ivanka or Jared"), than are those distracted by identity politics.

As Trump leverages the presidency to upgrade the Trump family to the transnational capitalist class, and reinforces the power of US imperialism which that class has purchased, conflict of interest and nepotism will be the main political signposts of the transformation of the Trump presidency, but they could also be the targets for a refined strategy of opposition.

[Jan 24, 2019] The Trump Tax Cut Is Even Worse Than They Say by Dean Baker

Notable quotes:
"... To this point, there is essentially zero evidence of the promised investment boom. There was respectable growth in investment in the first two quarters of 2018, but growth slowed to just 1.1 percent in the third quarter. ..."
"... In any case, there is zero evidence that the tax cut is leading to the sort of investment boom that will qualitatively boost the rate of productivity and GDP growth and provide workers with substantially higher pay. ..."
"... (irrational) confidence level is an important economic factor. ..."
"... What has been destructive in major recessions has not been "misdirected investment", it has been the leveraged and/or fraudulent financial manipulations which maximize profit but which cause rapid collapse when conditions turn bad. Again, interest rates have in practice not been a main factor in this. ..."
"... Keynes was adamantly against high interest rates and he favored usury laws: "the rate of interest is not self-adjusting at a level best suited to the social advantage but constantly tends to rise too high, so that a wise Government is concerned to curb it by statute and custom and even by invoking the sanctions of the moral law." The General Theory, p. 351. ..."
"... "The evidence is not consistent with the idea that central banks can control economies with interest rates." ..."
"... A much larger threat to world economies (than interest rates) is the huge capital investments in petroleum assets. At some point, those investments will need to be unwound in an orderly fashion but it doesn't seem that anyone is considering how to do that. ..."
Jan 18, 2019 | cepr.net
Details
Published: 18 January 2019

(This piece was originally posted on my Patreon page .)

Jim Tankersley had a nice piece in the New York Times last week pointing out that the tax cut pushed through by the Republicans in 2017 is leading to a sharp drop in tax revenue. While this was widely predicted by most analysts, it goes against the Trump administration's claims that the tax cut would pay for itself.

Looking at full-year data for calendar year 2018, Tankersley points out that revenue was $183 billion (5.6 percent) below what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had projected for the year before the tax cut was passed into law. This is a substantial falloff in revenue by any standard, but there are two reasons the picture is even worse than this falloff implies.

The first is that we actually did see a jump in growth in 2018 pretty much in line with what the Trump administration predicted. The tax cut really did stimulate the economy. It put a lot of money in the economy (mostly going to those at the top) and people spent much of this money. The result was that the growth rate accelerated from around 2.0 percent the prior three years to over 3.0 percent in 2018. (We don't have 4 th quarter data yet, which may be delayed by the shutdown, but growth should be over 3.0 percent.)

The jump in growth in 2018 means that the drop in revenue was not due to the economy being weaker than expected, it was due to the fact that the tax rate had fallen by a larger amount than the boost to growth. In fairness to the Trump administration, they had also projected a falloff in revenue due to the tax cut in 2018, but not one that was as large as what we saw.

... ... ...

To this point, there is essentially zero evidence of the promised investment boom. There was respectable growth in investment in the first two quarters of 2018, but growth slowed to just 1.1 percent in the third quarter. It is likely to be even weaker in the fourth quarter due to the drop in world oil prices (less oil drilling), although we won't get these data until the shutdown is over. In any case, there is zero evidence that the tax cut is leading to the sort of investment boom that will qualitatively boost the rate of productivity and GDP growth and provide workers with substantially higher pay.

In this context, the deficits from the Trump tax cut are a problem. If the economy is bumping up against its limits and the labor market is close to full employment, it means a much larger share of output is going to the consumption of the wealthy. That both means less private consumption for everyone else, and it makes it more difficult to have major initiatives that involve substantial spending, such as a Green New Deal or Medicare for All.

The long and short is that the revenue data for 2018 looks pretty bad on its face. It looks even worse on a closer examination.

pieceofcake4 days ago ,

...and perhaps this funny (American?) idea - that economics only exist in order to have some ''Boom'' going -- forever -- and ever - (which everybody knows is NOT possible) - is the root of US problem??!

Paul6 days ago ,

Deficits are not a problem, period. They are a benefit because they keep the boom going, just as lower interest rates forestall a recession. Keynes pointed this out 80 years ago: "Thus the remedy for the boom is not a higher rate of interest but a lower rate of interest! For that may enable the so-called boom to last. The right remedy for the trade cycle is not to be found in abolishing booms and thus keeping us permanently in a semi-slump; but in abolishing slumps and thus keeping us permanently in a quasi-boom." The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, p. 322.

Keeping us out of a recession/slump ought to be the focus of economic policy, not hypothetical questions about the economy "bumping up against its limits" which anti-Keynesians have been obsessed with for years.

skeptonomist Paul 6 days ago ,

Keeping out of bubbles is what keeps us out of slumps (in most cases). The usual pattern is that as conditions improve people put confidence where it does not belong and extend leverage, then financial collapse makes things look bad for everyone - the general (irrational) confidence level is an important economic factor.

Interest rates have an effect on speculation - when rates are low people have to turn to riskier things to make money, and leverage is cheap. Stock prices were very low in 1981 because interest rates were very high and they are very high now partly because interest rates have been very low. The effect on speculation may be a valid reason to raise rates - of course the imaginary threat of inflation is not.

But history indicates it is not a huge effect. The Fed did raise discount rate through 1928 and 1929 up to 6% and this did not seem to slow the development of the stock-market bubble. It is unlikely that the Fed can kill a bubble or boom now by raising at much lower levels. The housing bubble of 2006 was a matter of bad regulation. The Fed was involved in encouraging and then disregarding the bubble, but not by manipulating interest rates. Greenspan was always a cheerleader of deregulation.

Paul skeptonomist 5 days ago ,

"Bubblenomics" was discredited by Keynes:

"Moreover, even if over-investment in this sense was a normal characteristic of the boom, the remedy would not lie in clapping on a high rate of interest which would probably deter some useful investments and might further diminish the propensity to consume, but in taking drastic steps, by redistributing incomes or otherwise, to stimulate the propensity to consume.

"It may, of course, be the case -- indeed it is likely to be -- that the illusions of the boom cause particular types of capital-assets to be produced in such excessive abundance that some part of the output is, on any criterion, a waste of resources; -- which sometimes happens, we may add, even when there is no boom. It leads, that is to say, to misdirected investment." The General Theory p.321

"Thus an increase in the rate of interest, as a remedy for the state of affairs arising out of a prolonged period of abnormally heavy new investment, belongs to the species of remedy which cures the disease by killing the patient." The General Theory p.323.

Causing a recession in order to kill a bubble is madness.

skeptonomist Paul 5 days ago ,

I am not recommending killing a boom or bubble with interest rates. On the contrary I am always recommending against relying on manipulating interest rates to regulate the economy, whether it is to prevent inflation, real or imaginary, or to stimulate the economy in case of recession. While Keynes conjectured that interest rates could have effects, he certainly was very clear in not expecting that they would be sufficient to control the business cycle - see pp. 319-320, the end of Ch. 12 and ch. 24.

What has been destructive in major recessions has not been "misdirected investment", it has been the leveraged and/or fraudulent financial manipulations which maximize profit but which cause rapid collapse when conditions turn bad. Again, interest rates have in practice not been a main factor in this.

Paul skeptonomist 5 days ago ,

"While Keynes conjectured that interest rates could have effects, he certainly was very clear in not expecting that they would be sufficient to control the business cycle"

Really? Then why did he include "Interest" in the title of his magnum opus?

Keynes was adamantly against high interest rates and he favored usury laws: "the rate of interest is not self-adjusting at a level best suited to the social advantage but constantly tends to rise too high, so that a wise Government is concerned to curb it by statute and custom and even by invoking the sanctions of the moral law." The General Theory, p. 351.

Further, he railed against using high interest rates to limit the boom: "The austere view, which would employ a high rate of interest to check at once any tendency in the level of employment to rise appreciably above the average of, say, the previous decade, is, however, more usually supported by arguments which have no foundation at all apart from confusion of mind." The General Theory, p. 327-8.

The rate of interest is critical to economic growth which is why the Fed's role is so important.

skeptonomist Paul 5 days ago ,

The evidence is consistent with what Keynes said about high interest rates - the high rates in the 70's to 80's failed to prevent inflation but caused unemployment to go to 10.8%. The Fed failed utterly in both of its two objectives during that time. Since 2008 record low rates have not produced the claimed boost in investment and growth. This is especially obvious in Europe and Japan where conditions are worse than in the US despite negative interest rates. This is also consistent with Keynes' expectation that interest rates would not be sufficient to overcome variations in the perceived marginal efficiency of capital. The evidence is not consistent with the idea that central banks can control economies with interest rates, or even that their actions are always constructive. That idea was not Keynes'.

Paul skeptonomist 5 days ago ,

"The evidence is not consistent with the idea that central banks can control economies with interest rates."

That is a bridge too far, and Keynes disagrees:

"There is, indeed, force in the argument that a high rate of interest is much more effective against a boom than a low rate of interest against a slump." The General Theory, p. 320.

Slowing a boom with higher interest rates is indeed feasible and that has been Fed doctrine for decades. Obviously, higher interest rates reduce consumption and investment so growth must slow. The high inflation of the 1970s was due to the OPEC oil shocks, not excessively rapid growth of the economy. In fact, growth had been faster in the 1960s with much lower inflation.

RAP77 Paul a day ago ,

I understand why this economic discussion focuses only on interest rates but it leaves out a larger issue. That fact that, on CNBC and elsewhere, financial analysts obsess over interest rates, taxes, and the price of oil in relation to the market illustrates the cluelessness of the financial community. They all applaud "deregulation" without ever specifying which regulations. Do they mean all regulations?

Trump's deregulation of methane emissions, for example, will create future costs that are exponentially larger than any immediate savings to frackers and oil companies. That's just one example. Trump's environmental deregulatory agenda is stupidity writ large.

A much larger threat to world economies (than interest rates) is the huge capital investments in petroleum assets. At some point, those investments will need to be unwound in an orderly fashion but it doesn't seem that anyone is considering how to do that. Eventually, probably sooner than expected, a tipping point will be reached when mass realization of the threat climate change poses to our survival generates a mass panicked exit from petroleum assets which will create a financial crash that dwarfs what we saw in 2008.

Paul RAP77 a day ago ,

Do you remember "Limits to Growth"? Doomsday scenarios have been around for a long time especially in regard to the national debt which supposedly will cause the collapse of our economy sometime soon. I am skeptical about that.

[Jan 21, 2019] Control of money and control of information are two keys to the making other states vassals. The American military and CIA have provided most of the overt and covert 'muscle' for that control system.political power

Jan 21, 2019 | www.unz.com

Robert Snefjella , says: January 18, 2019 at 4:57 pm GMT

The MSM and its allies in the controlled alternative media, and the global private-interest financial, investment and banking system, are a tag-team, indispensable to each other. Control of money and control of information. The first narrowly concentrates wealth and thus power and influence. The second through agenda-driven selection, lies, censorship, spin, misdirection and so on – disinformation – controls people's sense of what is real and possible, thus dis-empowering them.

The American military and CIA have provided most of the overt and covert 'muscle' for that control system.

The combined effort of narrowly controlled and narrowly advantaging globe straddling finance, media, and muscle has facilitated the development of a near global Empire. In common with traditional Empires this new Empire had totalitarian ambitions: but since its reach was global, this is really a first attempt at global totalitarian control.

Russia under Putin – leaving aside China – has developed enough strength to attempt alternative modes of communication and finance and development, not as adjuncts or subordinates to the Empire's efforts in those regards. And their military is antidote and opposition to the totalitarian project.

The forgoing is pretty obvious stuff, but I think that the Saker's concluding paragraph provides a limiting summary of how the issue can play out.

"But fundamentally the Russian people need to decide. Do they really want to live in a
western-style capitalist society (with all the russophobic politics and the adoption
of the terminally degenerate "culture" such a choice implies), or do they want a
"social society" (to use Putin's own words) – meaning a society in which social and economic
justice and the good of the country are placed above corporate and personal profits.

You could say that this is a battle of greed vs ethics."

This is a simplistic way of looking at the choices available. We are all caught up in transitional culture processes, no matter where we live. The conjunction of the cornucopia of new technology and unprecedented environmental and social challenges is everywhere at play, leading who knows where?

What the Russian people have been given, and this is near singular on Earth, is a protected and enhanced opportunity of developing a culture in which honest national discourse is a predominant feature. This is in complete contrast to the predominant 'fake news' system of discourse control that is in place in so many countries. And full and honest discourse will create its own original cultural developments.

The Russian adoption of more honest discourse is already having global influence. An example is Russia Today, which far from perfect and all that, still provides an enormous advance over the extremely controlled western mass media, and a powerful foe to 'fake news'.

Perhaps the most visible exemplar of rationale discourse has been Putin himself, with for example his marathon annual Q and A with the Russian people, or his articulate well considered sallies on many issues

And with that – if Russia can use unfettered reason writ large as a prime ingredient of cultural and political development, as a basic developmental 'steering tool' – then the simple dichotomy of "western-style capitalist society" vs "a society in which social and economic justice and the good of the country are placed above corporate and personal profits" , as much as I'm sympathetic to the latter, seems to me to be a limiting way of expressing the range of potential beneficent possibilities.

[Jan 13, 2019] There is no free market! It's all crooked by financial oligarchy!

Highly recommended!
Free market is possible only under strict government regulation. Without government regulation free market quickly deteriorates into the law of jungles. Such a paradox ;-)
And if financial oligarchy gets to power as they got via coup d'état in the USA in late 7th, it is only a matter of time before the society collapses. They are very destructive to the society at large. Probably more so then organized crime. But wait. They actually can be viewed as special type of organized prime as is "The best way to rob the bank is to own it".
Notable quotes:
"... Idiots on here are always going on about how we don't got capitalism, if we only had capitalism, we don't got free markets, if only we had free markets, then everything would be hunky-dory. Without any proof, of course, because there never was and never will be a "free" "market." The US has plenty capitalism. And everything sucks. And they want more. Confused, stupid, disingenuous liars. ..."
"... Free markets are crookedness factories. As a PhD from Chicago Business School told me, "Free markets?! What free markets?! There is no free market! It's all crooked!" ..."
Jan 13, 2019 | www.unz.com

obwandiyag , says: January 13, 2019 at 6:37 am GMT

Idiots on here are always going on about how we don't got capitalism, if we only had capitalism, we don't got free markets, if only we had free markets, then everything would be hunky-dory. Without any proof, of course, because there never was and never will be a "free" "market." The US has plenty capitalism. And everything sucks. And they want more. Confused, stupid, disingenuous liars.
obwandiyag , says: January 13, 2019 at 6:42 am GMT
Look, what you call "capitalism" and "free markets" just means scams to make rich people richer. You read some simple-minded description of some pie-in-the-sky theory of some perfect world where rational actors make the best possible decisions in their own interest without any outside interference, and you actually think you are reading a description of something real.

I'll tell you what's real. Crookedness. Free markets are crookedness factories. As a PhD from Chicago Business School told me, "Free markets?! What free markets?! There is no free market! It's all crooked!"

[Dec 08, 2018] Owning the lawmakers doesn't make banksters not criminals, it just makes them criminals that are above the law

Dec 08, 2018 | www.alternet.org

Guest 6 years ago

[Nov 20, 2018] A Finance Magnates analysis reports that one of the swindles alone has brought in over a billion dollars and employs 5,000 people. And a new scam, described below, may help what is predicted to be "the next major driver of the Israeli economy."

Nov 20, 2018 | www.unz.com

ChuckOrloski , says: November 17, 2018 at 1:13 pm GMT

Very important, with "Eyes Wide Open," Alison Weir, below!

https://israelpalestinenews.org/is-israel-turning-a-blind-eye-as-israeli-scammers-swindle-victims-in-france-us-elsewhere/

renfro , says: November 17, 2018 at 5:53 pm GMT
@ChuckOrloski Not surprising to anyone who understands that stealing ,especially from 'others' is a first choice career of Jews/Israelis.
I have always suspected that the 9 billion of stolen Iraq funds were stolen by the Jews who were embedded in the US occupation administration and sent to Israel. Israel was so broke in 2001 they asked the Us for economic aid then suddenly in 2004 by some miracle they were rolling in surplus money again.

Investigations reveal a pattern of Israeli officials stone-walling efforts to stop the perpetrators of massive financial swindles in various countries, from Europe to the US to the Philippines While some Israeli reporters work to expose the scams, a new one is already underway

By Alison Weir

[MORE]
French and Israeli media report that a group largely made up of Israelis scammed 3,000 French citizens out of approximately $20 million. Most of the stolen money is in Israel, but Israeli authorities are reportedly failing to cooperate with France in prosecuting the scammers and retrieving the money.
This is the latest of numerous examples of Israeli officials stone-walling international efforts against the perpetrators of massive financial swindles around the world, according to Israeli investigative journalists and others. These scams have brought estimated billions into the Israeli economy, propping up a regime widely condemned for human rights abuses and ethnic cleansing against indigenous Palestinians. Together, the stories paint a picture of a government that seems to be turning a blind eye to -- and even protecting -- scammers.

A Finance Magnates analysis reports that one of the swindles alone has brought in over a billion dollars and employs 5,000 people. And a new scam, described below, may help what is predicted to be "the next major driver of the Israeli economy."

A former IRS expert on international crime notes that "fraudulent industries are often major economic drivers, and that can translate into political clout."
Some Israeli journalists have been working to expose the situation in Israeli newspapers, publishing exposés like "As Israel turns blind eye to vast binary options fraud, French investigators step in" and "Are French Jewish criminals using Israel as a get-out-of-jail card?" (Short answer: yes.)

Victimizing French business owners & churches

The victims of the recent scam against French citizens included churches and the owners of small businesses -- delicatessens, car repair shops, hair salons, plumbers, etc. Some lost their life savings and describe being threatened and intimidated by the scammers.

[Oct 06, 2018] America s new aristocracy lives in an accountability-free zone by David Sirota

Notable quotes:
"... Accountability is for the little people, immunity is for the ruling class. If this ethos seems familiar, that is because it has preceded some of the darkest moments in human history ..."
"... September began with John McCain's funeral – a memorial billed as an apolitical celebration of the Arizona lawmaker, but which served as a made-for-TV spectacle letting America know that everyone who engineered the Iraq war is doing just fine. ..."
"... The underlying message was clear: nobody other than the dead, the injured and the taxpayer will face any real penalty for the Iraq debacle. ..."
"... Meanwhile, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon garnered non-Onion headlines by floating the idea of running for president – a reminder that a decade after his firm played a central role in destroying countless Americans' economic lives, he remains not only unincarcerated and gainfully employed, but so reputationally unscathed that he is seen as a serious White House candidate. ..."
Oct 05, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Accountability is for the little people, immunity is for the ruling class. If this ethos seems familiar, that is because it has preceded some of the darkest moments in human history

'If there are no legal consequences for profiteers who defrauded the global economy into a collapse, what will deter those profiteers from doing that again?' Illustration: Mark Long/Mark Long for Guardian US W hen the former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling was released from prison a few weeks ago, the news conjured memories of a corporate scandal that now seems almost quaint – and it was also a reminder that Enron executives were among the last politically connected criminals to face any serious consequences for institutionalized fraud.

Since Skilling's conviction 12 years ago, our society has been fundamentally altered by a powerful political movement whose goal is not merely another court seat, tax cut or election victory. This movement's objective is far more revolutionary: the creation of an accountability-free zone for an ennobled aristocracy, even as the rest of the population is treated to law-and-order rhetoric and painfully punitive policy.

Let's remember that in less than two decades, America has experienced the Iraq war, the financial crisis, intensifying economic stratification, an opioid plague, persistent gender and racial inequality and now seemingly unending climate change-intensified disasters. While the victims have been ravaged by these crime sprees, crises and calamities, the perpetrators have largely avoided arrest, inquisition, incarceration, resignation, public shaming and ruined careers.

That is because the United States has been turned into a safe space for a permanent ruling class. Inside the rarefied refuge, the key players who created this era's catastrophes and who embody the most pernicious pathologies have not just eschewed punishment – many of them have actually maintained or even increased their social, financial and political status.

The effort to construct this elite haven has tied together so many seemingly disparate news events, suggesting that there is a method in the madness. Consider this past month that culminated with the dramatic battle over the judicial nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

September began with John McCain's funeral – a memorial billed as an apolitical celebration of the Arizona lawmaker, but which served as a made-for-TV spectacle letting America know that everyone who engineered the Iraq war is doing just fine.

The event was attended by Iraq war proponents of both parties, from Dick Cheney to Lindsey Graham to Hillary Clinton. The funeral featured a saccharine eulogy from the key Democratic proponent of the invasion, Joe Lieberman, as well the resurrection of George W Bush. The codpiece-flaunting war president who piloted America into the cataclysm with "bring 'em on" bravado, "shock and awe" bloodlust and "uranium from Africa" dishonesty was suddenly portrayed as an icon of warmth and civility when he passed a lozenge to Michelle Obama. The scene was depicted not as the gathering of a rogues gallery fit for a war crimes tribunal, but as a venerable bipartisan reunion evoking nostalgia for the supposed halcyon days – and Bush promptly used his newly revived image to campaign for Republican congressional candidates and lobby for Kavanaugh's appointment .

The underlying message was clear: nobody other than the dead, the injured and the taxpayer will face any real penalty for the Iraq debacle.

Next up came the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis – a meltdown that laid waste to the global economy, while providing lucrative taxpayer-funded bailouts to Wall Street firms.

To mark the occasion, the three men on whose watch it occurred – Fed chair Ben Bernanke, Bush treasury secretary Hank Paulson and Obama treasury secretary Tim Geithner – did not offer an apology, but instead promised that another financial crisis will eventually occur, and they demanded lawmakers give public officials more power to bail out big banks in the future.

In a similar bipartisan show of unity, former Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn gave an interview in which he asked "Who broke the law?" – the implication being that no Wall Street executives were prosecuted for their role in the meltdown because no statutes had been violated. That suggestion, of course, is undermined by banks ' own admissions that they defrauded investors (that includes admissions of fraud from Goldman Sachs – the very bank that Cohn himself ran during the crisis). Nonetheless, Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder – who has now rejoined his old corporate defense law firm – subsequently backed Cohn up by arguing that nobody on Wall Street committed an offense that could have been successfully prosecuted in a court of law.

Meanwhile, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon garnered non-Onion headlines by floating the idea of running for president – a reminder that a decade after his firm played a central role in destroying countless Americans' economic lives, he remains not only unincarcerated and gainfully employed, but so reputationally unscathed that he is seen as a serious White House candidate.

Again, the message came through: nobody who engineered the financial crisis will pay any real price for wreaking so much havoc.

Then as Hurricane Florence provided the latest illustration of climate change's devastation, ExxonMobil marched into the supreme court to demand an end to a state investigation of its role denying and suppressing climate science. Backed by 11 Republican attorneys general , the fossil fuel giant had reason to feel emboldened in its appeal for immunity: despite investigative reporting detailing the company's prior knowledge of fossil fuel's role in climate change, its executives had already convinced the Securities and Exchange Commission to shut down a similar investigation.

Once again, the message was unavoidable: in the new accountability-free zone, companies shouldn't be bothered to even explain – much less face punishment for – their role in a crisis that threatens the survival of the human species.

... ... ...

The answer is nothing – which is exactly the point for the aristocracy. But that cannot be considered acceptable for the rest of us outside the accountability-free zone.

David Sirota is a Guardian US columnist and an investigative journalist at Capital & Main. His latest book is Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now

[Aug 25, 2018] Trashing Treaties- Trump s Shameful Legacy

Notable quotes:
"... Trump's authorization for the establishment of a "US Space Force" as an additional military branch was one of the more egregious trashing of a longstanding international treaty. ..."
"... In June 2018, America's Israeli-style harassment was also meted out to former Spanish Foreign Minister and NATO Secretary General Javier Solana. He was denied a US visa waiver because he had visited Iran in 2013 to attend President Hassan Rouhani's inauguration. ..."
Aug 25, 2018 | www.strategic-culture.org

On December 6, 2017, Trump announced official US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In 1980, a UN Security Council abstention permitted the adoption of Resolution 478. The measure supplemented the earlier Resolutions 252, 267, 271, 298, and 465, which required that all UN member states, including the United States, are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem. The passage of Resolution 478 resulted in nations that had moved their embassies to Jerusalem, including Costa Rica and El Salvador, moving them back to Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, or Herzliya. Trump's action reversed that action, with Guatemala, Paraguay, and Honduras moving their embassies back to Jerusalem.

On May 8, 2018, Trump renounced the US signature on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran, the nuclear agreement with Iran. Even though the pact was signed by the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, Germany, the European Union and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, Trump, taking his cues from the Israeli war hawk, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, decided, once again, to make the United States an outlier. Trump effectively gave the back of his hand to the international community to placate Netanyahu. Moreover, Trump threatened "secondary sanctions" against foreign nations and firms that continued to engage in commerce with Iran after a November 4, 2018 deadline.

Trump's authorization for the establishment of a "US Space Force" as an additional military branch was one of the more egregious trashing of a longstanding international treaty. The 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, known simply as the "Outer Space Treaty," established the basis for international space law. The original signatories were the United States, Soviet Union, and United Kingdom. Since 1967, 107 nations have fully ratified the treaty, which bans the placement of weapons of mass destruction in Earth orbit and the establishment of military bases, installations, and fortifications on the Moon and other celestial bodies.

Trump's creation of a military Space Force to supplant the civilian National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in US space operations and his call for space to be a "new warfighting domain" effectively violate US treaty obligations.

The US Air Force's X-37B robotic space planes, smaller versions of NASA's discontinued space shuttle orbiter, are believed to have carried out top secret military-oriented missions since 2010. Trump's creation of a Space Force represents a public admission of America's desire to militarize space, even as the Air Force remains mum on the actual purpose of the X-37B program.

The basis in international law for the Outer Space Treaty was the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. The Antarctic Treaty bans military activity of the continent. Only scientific research in Antarctica is permitted under the Antarctic Treaty System. However, Trump's disregard for the entire international treaty system has placed the Antarctic Treaty in as much jeopardy as the Outer Space Treaty. The suspected presence of rare earth minerals and gas hydrates under melting Antarctic ice shelves has Trump's cronies in the mining and fossil fuel industries anxious to undermine the Antarctica Treaty and open the continent to commercial exploitation.

Considering the schoolmarmish haughtiness of Trump's ambassador to the UN, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, someone who had no foreign policy experience before taking over at the US Mission to the UN, the 1947 US-UN treaty, titled the "Agreement Between the United Nations and the United States of America Regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations," may also be violated. The imposition of draconian visa bans and other sanctions and travel restrictions on government officials of Iran, Turkey, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, Nicaragua, Cuba, China, Chad, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Pakistan, Yemen, Myanmar, Laos, Syria, Somalia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Eritrea places in jeopardy US law that requires the facilitation of travel for delegations of UN member states and official observers to and from the UN headquarters in New York.

Trump's total disregard for international laws and treaties may eventually see leaders and diplomats of foreign nations detained or arrested when they arrive in New York to attend UN sessions. Such harassment began in earnest just a few weeks after Trump was inaugurated as president. In February 2017, former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik was caught up in Trump's visa ban against visitors from Muslim nations. Bondevik was detained at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington and subjected to questioning about an Iranian visa in his diplomatic passport.

In June 2018, America's Israeli-style harassment was also meted out to former Spanish Foreign Minister and NATO Secretary General Javier Solana. He was denied a US visa waiver because he had visited Iran in 2013 to attend President Hassan Rouhani's inauguration. Solana told Spanish television, "It's a bit of a mean decision... I don't think it's good because some people have to visit these complicated countries to keep negotiations alive." Trump's renunciation of the US signature on the Iran nuclear deal showed the world what Trump and his neo-conservative advisers think about peace "negotiations." Although the general purpose visa waiver ban was instituted by Barack Obama, the Trump administration has been violating the spirit and intent of the US-UN Treaty by applying it to those, like Bondevik and Solana, possessing diplomatic passports.

Trump has made no secret of his disdain for foreign government officials and the countries they represent. During a briefing on the Indian sub-continent, Trump reportedly delighted in referring to Nepal as "nipple" and Bhutan as "button." According to the "tell-all" book by former White House adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman, Trump, after viewing a video of his pushing aside Montenegro Prime Minister Duško Marković at the 2017 NATO summit, called him a "whiny punk bitch." Trump referred to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as "meek and mild" over a rift on US-Canadian trade policy.

One of Trump's first phone calls as president with a foreign leader resulted in Trump complaining that his discussions with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull were "most unpleasant." Before warming to North Korean leader Kim Jong UN, Trump referred to him as "little rocket man." During remarks at the UN in September 2017, Trump referred to Namibia as "Nambia." Later, he called African countries and Haiti "shithole" countries.

Cities that have served as hosts for international summits and meetings have also earned Trump's scorn. He called Brussels a "hell hole," London a magnet for Muslim terrorist immigrants, and Paris not being Paris any longer because of Muslim immigrants.

Trump, ever the America Firster – a phrase invented by pro-Hitler politicians in the 1930s – has decimated international law on issues ranging from the environment and outer space to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and international guarantees for the right of the Palestinians. Trump's tearing up of international treaties signed by his predecessors with the chiefs of various Native American tribes warrants it own article. Mr. Trump's damage to international relations represents a historical watershed event and it will take decades to recover from the current "dark ages" of American diplomacy.

[Aug 07, 2018] Fool on the Hill the Bombast of Boris Johnson

Notable quotes:
"... His crude realism is underestimated by a contemptuous media, dismissive of everything he does. They portray him as an ill-informed crackpot who makes up his policy on the spur of the moment, but this is often much saner than it looks: despite all his jingoism, he has yet to start a war; his belligerent threats towards countries such as North Korea and Iran appear to be designed primarily as negotiating positions in pursuit of a deal; he respects power and will talk to those who possess it, such as Vladimir Putin , enraging other parts of the US government that are trying to isolate Russia as a pariah state. ..."
Aug 07, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

British commentators – the BBC is particularly prone to this – tend to adopt a patronising and derisive approach to Trump's demagoguery about "making America great again". But he can get away with the most bizarre antics because the US is a political, economic and military superpower regardless of Trump, even if it does not have the primacy it had after the Second World War or, once again, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Its status is not changed by Trump's words and actions, though these are usually more carefully calculated and rooted in the real world than his critics give him credit for.

His crude realism is underestimated by a contemptuous media, dismissive of everything he does. They portray him as an ill-informed crackpot who makes up his policy on the spur of the moment, but this is often much saner than it looks: despite all his jingoism, he has yet to start a war; his belligerent threats towards countries such as North Korea and Iran appear to be designed primarily as negotiating positions in pursuit of a deal; he respects power and will talk to those who possess it, such as Vladimir Putin , enraging other parts of the US government that are trying to isolate Russia as a pariah state.

The pro-Brexit vote in the referendum in 2016 is said by Trump to have given vital extra momentum to the populist-nationalist surge that elected him president later that year. But the danger of looking at everything through an isolationist and nationalist lens is far greater in Britain than it is in the US simply because it leads to the British systematically overplaying their hand. The price of doing so is illustrated by every stumbling step Britain takes out of the EU, contradicting the Brexiteer mantra that Britain has political and economic potential that will make it better off outside the EU.

[Jul 22, 2018] Rosenstein unleashed the most awesome powers of a special counsel to investigate an allegation that the key FBI officials, driving the investigation for 10 months beforehand, did not think was "there."

They fight like real Mafiosi clans. Time to want godfather again...
Jul 22, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Quoted from: This One FBI Text In The Russia Probe Should Alarm Every American Zero Hedge

Authored by John Solomon, op-ed via TheHill.com,

That passage was transmitted on May 19, 2017. "There's no big there there," Strzok texted.

The date of the text long has intrigued investigators: It is two days after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee an investigation into alleged collusion between Trump and the Russia campaign.

Since the text was turned over to Congress, investigators wondered whether it referred to the evidence against the Trump campaign.

This month, they finally got the chance to ask. Strzok declined to say -- but Page, during a closed-door interview with lawmakers, confirmed in the most pained and contorted way that the message in fact referred to the quality of the Russia case, according to multiple eyewitnesses.

The admission is deeply consequential. It means Rosenstein unleashed the most awesome powers of a special counsel to investigate an allegation that the key FBI officials, driving the investigation for 10 months beforehand, did not think was "there."

By the time of the text and Mueller's appointment, the FBI's best counterintelligence agents had had plenty of time to dig. They knowingly used a dossier funded by Hillary Clinton 's campaign -- which contained uncorroborated allegations -- to persuade the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to issue a warrant to monitor Trump campaign adviser Carter Page (no relation to Lisa Page).

They sat on Carter Page's phones and emails for nearly six months without getting evidence that would warrant prosecuting him. The evidence they had gathered was deemed so weak that their boss, then-FBI Director James Comey , was forced to admit to Congress after being fired by Trump that the core allegation remained substantially uncorroborated.

In other words, they had a big nothing burger. And, based on that empty-calorie dish, Rosenstein authorized the buffet menu of a special prosecutor that has cost America millions of dollars and months of political strife.

The work product Strzok created to justify the collusion probe now has been shown to be inferior : A Clinton-hired contractor produced multiple documents accusing Trump of wrongdoing during the election; each was routed to the FBI through a different source or was used to seed news articles with similar allegations that further built an uncorroborated public narrative of Trump-Russia collusion. Most troubling, the FBI relied on at least one of those news stories to justify the FISA warrant against Carter Page.

That sort of multifaceted allegation machine, which can be traced back to a single source, is known in spy craft as "circular intelligence reporting," and it's the sort of bad product that professional spooks are trained to spot and reject.

But Team Strzok kept pushing it through the system, causing a major escalation of a probe for which, by his own words, he knew had "no big there there."

The answer as to why a pro such as Strzok would take such action has become clearer, at least to congressional investigators. That clarity comes from the context of the other emails and text messages that surrounded the May 19, 2017, declaration.

It turns out that what Strzok and Lisa Page were really doing that day was debating whether they should stay with the FBI and try to rise through the ranks to the level of an assistant director (AD) or join Mueller's special counsel team.

"Who gives a f*ck, one more AD like [redacted] or whoever?" Strzok wrote, weighing the merits of promotion, before apparently suggesting what would be a more attractive role: "An investigation leading to impeachment?"

Lisa Page apparently realized the conversation had gone too far and tried to reel it in. "We should stop having this conversation here," she texted back, adding later it was important to examine "the different realistic outcomes of this case."

A few minutes later Strzok texted his own handicap of the Russia evidence: "You and I both know the odds are nothing. If I thought it was likely, I'd be there no question. I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern there's no big there there."

So the FBI agents who helped drive the Russia collusion narrative -- as well as Rosenstein's decision to appoint Mueller -- apparently knew all along that the evidence was going to lead to "nothing" and, yet, they proceeded because they thought there was still a possibility of impeachment.

Impeachment is a political outcome. The only logical conclusion, then, that congressional investigators can make is that political bias led these agents to press an investigation forward to achieve the political outcome of impeachment, even though their professional training told them it had "no big there there."

And that, by definition, is political bias in action.

How concerned you are by this conduct is almost certainly affected by your love or hatred for Trump. But put yourself for a second in the hot seat of an investigation by the same FBI cast of characters: You are under investigation for a crime the agents don't think occurred, but the investigation still advances because the desired outcome is to get you fired from your job.


two hoots -> FactDog Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:39 Permalink

Who directed, encouraged Rosenstein to authorize the probe? Did he do it on his own accord based on previous investigations, was he pushed by Comey? Just where did the idea come from and based upon what? (I forgot or never really knew)

Not Too Important -> two hoots Fri, 07/20/2018 - 20:12 Permalink

It all starts with Brennan, and the people he answers to.

Then there's this:

'Intel Operative who Altered Obama's Passport Records Turned FBI Informant on Boss John Brennan, Then Turned Up Murdered in D.C.'

"A key witness in a federal probe into Barack Obama's passport information stolen and altered from the State Department was gunned down and killed in front of a District church in D.C.

Lt. Quarles Harris Jr., 24, who had been cooperating with a federal investigators, was found late at night slumped dead inside a car. He was reportedly waiting to meet with FBI agents about his boss John Brennan."

https://truepundit.com/intel-operative-who-altered-obamas-passport-reco

Seth Rich was also on his way to meet with FBI agents. Something about meeting with FBI agents is lethal.

nmewn -> Not Too Important Fri, 07/20/2018 - 20:35 Permalink

The other fascinating thing is, Strzoks dad , who he was, where he has been and doing in the past.

He was in Iran when the revolution happened working for, ahem, Bell Helicopter. He was also in Burkina Faso doing "charity work" just as he was the Director later on for Catholic Relief Services in...now wait for it...Haiti....lol.

In the infamous words of Tom Brokaw & Charlie Rose "We really don't know who he is or what he believes." ;-)

Big Creek Rising -> Richard Chesler Fri, 07/20/2018 - 22:05 Permalink

Y' all have good comments as usual and you're generally right, but there's a big problem in that almost 60% of 'murica is not paying attention. Half of those are airheads more worried about the minivan having enough gas to get to all the soccer games tomorrow and which McDonald's is closer to the fields. They have four buttons on the radio set to NPR and thus the resultant brain rot. The other half are libtards with no brains to rot. They could find Hillary with a bloody knife in her hand standing over five dead children and convict her of nothing more than having strange ideas about breakfast.

MoreFreedom -> beemasters Fri, 07/20/2018 - 22:53 Permalink

Brennan is pushing back for one reason - he's guilty as sin and doesn't want what he's done found out. Trying to setup Trump with spies, spying on Trump's campaign, and covering up for the hacking of Hillary's server, acts of treason, are likely his lesser sins.

asiafinancenews -> two hoots Fri, 07/20/2018 - 21:30 Permalink

If Strozk and Rosenstein had a shred of personal honor and decency, they would have resigned by now.

Jim in MN -> Jim in MN Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:09 Permalink

Watergate times a billion: The use of a fully weaponized police state against a domestic political opponent. They committed numerous serious crimes in the process, and being arrogant pricks, left a wide paper trail....a trail that leads to the White House as well as Her Fury, Hillary Clinton.

We need the meeting notes. Brennan ran the thing out of Langley. I'm sure they kept as many notes as the Stasi did.

Jarrett and Rice, the most likely conduits to Obama and Biden.

Don't forget John Kerry.

insanelysane Fri, 07/20/2018 - 20:29 Permalink

The real question now is, Did Mueller get rid of the lovebirds because of their texts or because they didn't think there was any there there and he need people that would be willing to find a there where there was no there there?

slightlyskeptical Fri, 07/20/2018 - 21:05 Permalink

Think two friends anywhere else in the USA discussed a Trump impeachment when news came out on an investigation? Think they came to the conclusion there is nothing there and impeachment wouldn't happen? I can testify it happened in my simple household.

Strozk's comment " If I thought it was likely, I'd be there no question." infers that he wasn't "there". This conversation points to nothing except their personal distaste for Trump which we already knew. I still see nothing showing any wrong doing. Think Elliot Ness was happy whenever they got evidence on Capone? Think they never talked about getting him over lunch with fellow agents? Prosecutors and investigators don't have to like the people they are looking at and usually probably don't. It is only a problem if it caused them to be impartial in the investigation which the IG says there is no evidence of in this case.

The bottom line i get from your side is that no one who is partisan should have any role in investigating someone on the other side. Should we just limit it to people who support that side? if we can find intelligent, fair people who are not partisan shouldn't we make them our leaders and just let them decide everything?

Who should be able to investigate something like the NRA using a spy to funnel money to someones campaign? Rudy?

chubbar -> Jim in MN Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:36 Permalink

I don't have a link and I don't think anyone here is going to doubt it, but I read today where new emails indicate the Obama White House started illegally investigating Trump in 2015.

So many outrageous activities are being uncovered on an almost daily basis I doubt this gets much traction but what an outrage.

chubbar -> Jim in MN Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:36 Permalink

I don't have a link and I don't think anyone here is going to doubt it, but I read today where new emails indicate the Obama White House started illegally investigating Trump in 2015.

So many outrageous activities are being uncovered on an almost daily basis I doubt this gets much traction but what an outrage.

enough of this Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:18 Permalink

The Praetorians at the FBI and DOJ believe they are invulnerable but their time is running out.

http://www.investmentwatchblog.com/the-fbi-and-doj-praetorian-guard-the

knightowl77 -> YourAverageJoe Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:55 Permalink

The entire Colorado delegation is pushing to have "Russia declared a State Sponsor of Terrorism"....I have ZERO representation

earleflorida Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:38 Permalink

the FBI has been incorporated into the CIA, [and] the CIA nominates its agents as candidates for congress...

look at G H W Bush & Jr. and the Strozk/Page BS!!!

the country is infested with traitors.... @ Total Eclipse by Andy Giardino ****Great Site

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxHEa99DJIk

Reaper Fri, 07/20/2018 - 20:46 Permalink

The FBI M.O. is the use of Form 302 interrogations to entrap suspects. Using the threat of prosecution to compel auxiliary parties to become witnesses for the DOJ. It's very simple: interview several people about what was said or transpired at an earlier time. If there are any disagreements you could prosecute any of them for lying to the FBI. Worse, as was seen with McCabe/Flynn, the FBI will claim you said something, which you might deny at trial, but the jury will believe the two FBI lying FBI agents who questioned you without a recording.

https://boingboing.net/2013/05/07/dont-ever-speak-to-the-fbi-w.html

Would you lie in court to avoid a federal prosecution for lying to the FBI?

MACAULAY Fri, 07/20/2018 - 23:28 Permalink

This article omits one important point.

Struck had been on the Trump Collusion Case for about a year before he said "there is no there there."

About a year earlier (2016), he had just finished up clearing Hillary and was headed off to London to start trying to hang Trump---probably to meet Steele, or maybe the fat turd professor they hired to hustle the Trump hangers-on.

Then, he was excited then to be going after Trump. He texted Page then that "THIS MATTERS"!

What did he find in that first year? NOTHING.

Same thing Mueller has found in the second year and into the third. NOTHING.

How long should the American people tolerate it?

[Jul 19, 2018] MIC is afread to lose money because of Trump policies by Lara Seligman

Jul 19, 2018 | foreignpolicy.com

Orgiginal title: Trump's 'America First' Policy Could Leave U.S. Defense Industry Behind

Those measures and the resulting uncertainty are prompting some European countries to go their own way on major industry projects, including the development of a next-generation fighter jet, potentially leaving U.S. firms behind.

"I think it is forcing Europe together in ways that have unanticipated consequences for the U.S. defense industry," said Byron Callan, an analyst with Capital Alpha Partners.

The aerospace and defense industry is a huge driver of U.S. jobs and economic growth. In 2017 alone, it generated $865 billion, supporting 2.4 million high-paying American jobs. The industry produced a positive trade balance of $86 billion in 2017, the largest of any U.S. industry, which reduced the country's trade deficit by 10 percent.

It is also an important component of U.S. foreign policy. Arms sales are key to strengthening security partnerships and improving military cooperation with allies.

"Partners who procure American weaponry are more capable of fighting alongside us and ultimately more capable of protecting themselves with fewer American boots on the ground," Peter Navarro, the White House director of trade policy, said during an April press conference.

So it came as no surprise when the Trump administration announced the decision to send a large delegation to help sell U.S. products at Farnborough, including top officials such as Navarro. The administration also used the opportunity to roll out the Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) Policy, also known as the "Buy America" plan, an initiative to improve U.S. arms transfer processes and increase the competitiveness of U.S.-made products.

But the U.S. government showing at Farnborough was disappointing from the start of the weeklong exhibition Monday. Navarro pulled out at the last minute, as did Ellen Lord, the Pentagon's top weapons buyer; Heidi Grant, the U.S. Air Force's head of international affairs; and other U.S. government officials. At the show itself, only five U.S. military aircraft appeared on static display in the Defense Department corral that normally showcases products built for the armed services by Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and other U.S. defense giants.

[Jul 16, 2018] The West Is Past

Notable quotes:
"... Two U.S. 'realists', Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, had always warned that the 'west' must keep China and Russia apart if it wants to keep its leading global position. Nixon went to China to achieve that. ..."
"... Years later the U.S. fell for the myth that it had 'won' the Cold War. It felt invincible, the 'sole superpower' and sought to 'rule them all'. It woke up from that dream after it invaded Iraq. The mighty U.S. military was beaten to pulp by the 'sand niggers' it despised. A few years later U.S. financial markets were in shambles. ..."
"... Crude attempts to further encircle Russia led to the Chinese-Russian alliance that now leads the SCO and soon, one might argue, the world. There will be no photo like the above from the SCO summit. The Chinese President Xi calls Russia's President Putin 'my best friend'. ..."
"... Agreed! But what will the US psychopaths do to maintain their grip when they realize they are really losing it? Nuclear war? ..."
"... Watching the two meetings play out has really been interesting, that the West is dead is not in question. And once it started it seems to be gaining momentum. I don't know how many readers here watch CGTN but it is amazing. My IQ goes up every time I watch. Astonishing how much more valuable information you get from a "heavily censored" Chinese news compared to MSM. The website is a little slow at times but it is well worth the wait. ..."
Jun 10, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

G-7 summits are supposed to symbolize "the west", its unity and its power. The summits pretended to set policy directions for the world. We are happy to see that they are dead.

Trump was obviously not inclined to compromise.

Before attending the summit Trump trolled his colleagues by inviting Russia to rejoin the G-7/G-8 format without conditions. Russia had been kicked out after Crimea voted to join its motherland. Merkel, who had negotiated the Minsk agreement with Russia, was furious. She wants to use such an invitation as an element of future negotiations. (It is stupid talk. Russia is not interested in rejoining the G-7/G-8 format.)

There are now many fields where the U.S. and its allies disagree: climate change, the Iran deal, trade are only the major ones.

Before leaving the summit Trump again used Mafia language against everyone else:

As he prepared to depart early from the G-7 summit in Charlevoix, Canada, to head to Singapore ahead of his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump delivered an ultimatum to foreign leaders, demanding that their countries reduce trade barriers for the U.S. or risk losing market access to the world's largest economy.

"They have no choice. I'll be honest with you, they have no choice," Trump told reporters at a news conference, adding that companies and jobs had left the U.S. to escape trade barriers abroad. "We're going to fix that situation. And if it's not fixed, then we're not going to deal with these countries. "

The row at the G-7 meeting was in stark contrast to the more important other meeting that happened today, the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China:

Dazzling against the city skyline of Qingdao, fireworks lit up the faces of guests who traveled across the vast Eurasian continent to the coast of the Yellow Sea for the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, on Saturday night.

It is the first such summit since the organization's expansion in June 2017 when India and Pakistan joined as full members.

...

The Shanghai Spirit of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of common development , was stated in the Charter of the SCO, a comprehensive regional organization founded in 2001 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and later expanded to eight member states.

This weekend Xi will chair the summit for the first time as Chinese president, which is attended by leaders of other SCO member states and four observer states, as well as chiefs of various international organizations.

...

The SCO has grown to be an organization covering over 60 percent of the Eurasian landmass, nearly half the world's population and over 20 percent of global GDP.

Two U.S. 'realists', Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, had always warned that the 'west' must keep China and Russia apart if it wants to keep its leading global position. Nixon went to China to achieve that.

Years later the U.S. fell for the myth that it had 'won' the Cold War. It felt invincible, the 'sole superpower' and sought to 'rule them all'. It woke up from that dream after it invaded Iraq. The mighty U.S. military was beaten to pulp by the 'sand niggers' it despised. A few years later U.S. financial markets were in shambles.

Crude attempts to further encircle Russia led to the Chinese-Russian alliance that now leads the SCO and soon, one might argue, the world. There will be no photo like the above from the SCO summit. The Chinese President Xi calls Russia's President Putin 'my best friend'.

The 'west' has lost in Eurasia.

The U.S. is reduced to a schoolyard bully who beats up his gang members because their former victims have grown too big. Trump is off to Singapore to meet Kim Yong-un. Unlike Trump North Korea's supreme leader will be well prepared. It is likely that he will run rings around Trump during the negotiations. If Trump tries to bully him like he bullies his 'allies', Kim will pack up and leave. Unlike the U.S. 'allies' he has no need to bow to Trump. China and Russia have his back. They are now the powers that can lead the world.

The 'west' is past. The future is in the east.

Posted by b on June 9, 2018 at 03:14 PM | Permalink


Kelli , Jun 9, 2018 3:37:22 PM | 1

Agreed! But what will the US psychopaths do to maintain their grip when they realize they are really losing it? Nuclear war?
Laguerre , Jun 9, 2018 3:44:17 PM | 2
Yeah, I was just thinking that. Trump is running full-speed into isolation. It's an ancient policy, which recalls the 1920s. What does America need of the outside world? Good question.

I would think we will hear in the not too distant future of a European replacement of the US exchange systems, such as VISA. The Americans have become too unreliable. Obviously the Russians and Chinese do have their own systems, but that won't do for the EU.

Independence is going to be forced, and the consequences will be permanent.

Babyl-on , Jun 9, 2018 3:53:27 PM | 5

Watching the two meetings play out has really been interesting, that the West is dead is not in question. And once it started it seems to be gaining momentum. I don't know how many readers here watch CGTN but it is amazing. My IQ goes up every time I watch. Astonishing how much more valuable information you get from a "heavily censored" Chinese news compared to MSM. The website is a little slow at times but it is well worth the wait.

Last year during the border standoff with India they had on strident Indian voices arguing the Indian position every day. Imagine if CNN had on Mexican reps regarding the wall - never happen.

Harry Law , Jun 9, 2018 3:59:37 PM | 6
Because Iran was under sanctions levied by the United Nations earlier, it was blocked from admission as a new member of the Shanghai Cooperation Council [SCO]. The SCO stated that any country under UN sanctions could not be admitted. After the UN sanctions were lifted, Chinese president Xi Jinping announced its support for Iran's full membership in SCO during a state visit to Iran in January 2016.Iran must join the SCO ASAP it is also a military alliance and should prepare itself for a big effort at regime change by the US and lackeys. The moral of the story unless they hang together, the US will hang them separately.
ashley albanese , Jun 9, 2018 4:01:15 PM | 7
Well, China as the text books say was always ' half the human story' - only eclipsed by Western connivance in the 1860's .I remember my father argueing with high ranking Australian government and commercial figures in 1970.

My father argued Australia needed to find its own voice with China and Chinese policy . They replied sneeringly '' Ralph , their just red communists and will never amount to anything ' . Shortly thereafter Nixon flew to Beijing and my father sat back in his living room with a sardonic look on his face !

Scotch Bingeington , Jun 9, 2018 4:05:14 PM | 8
Interesting picture! Judging by his posture, Japan's Prime Minister Abe seems to back Trump's position.

By the way, Mr. Abe doesn't look Japanese to me, he rather has a striking resemblance to a certain Bavarian actor - one Max Griesser .

Laguerre , Jun 9, 2018 4:13:18 PM | 9
You may like Freedland's article yesterday, which unusually I agreed with, that in fact Trump is a poor negotiator, and gives away tricks he doesn't have to. Why no concession from Israel, over the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem? Why give away the honour to NK of a one-to-one with the US president? I'd be surprised if NK surrenders, when they know what will happen if they do.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/08/trump-master-negotiator-meeting-kim-jong-un-art-of-deal

Madderhatter67 , Jun 9, 2018 4:18:15 PM | 10
They did win the Cold War. That's how they became the'sole superpower'.
Red Ryder , Jun 9, 2018 4:25:57 PM | 11
"President Putin is the leader of a great country who is influential around the world," Xi said. "He is my best, most intimate friend." Xi promised Russia and China would increase their coordination in the international arena.

Putin expressed his thanks for the honor and said he saw it as an "evaluation" of his nation's efforts to strengthen its relationship with its southern neighbor.

"This is an indication of the special attention and respect on which our mutual national interests are based, the interests of our peoples and, of course, our personal friendship," Putin said.

http://www.newsweek.com/putin-my-best-most-intimate-friend-chinese-president-xi-says-967531

This is not going missed by the West.

But it is unstoppable. The range of integrating projects the Chinese and Russians are working on is more than strategic.

They are forcing a massive shift in economics that is impossible for the US and EU to maintain as competitors.

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201806091065269583-putin-xi-summit-takeaways/

The Double Helix is ascending.

Peter AU 1 , Jun 9, 2018 4:34:45 PM | 12
Interesting that Trump has said Russia should be invited back into the west's G7/G8 at this time. In cold war 1.0, Soviet Union was the main enemy of the US and China was split away from the Soviet Union. In this war, Trump sees China's economy as the main threat to the US and is trying but failing to pull Russia away from China.
Lea , Jun 9, 2018 4:45:07 PM | 13
Posted by: Madderhatter67 | Jun 9, 2018 4:18:15 PM | 10
They did win the Cold War. That's how they became the'sole superpower'.

If winning the Cold War is about vanquishing communism, they flat out lost. Because, while they were concentrating on the end of the USSR and celebrating, China was going up and up and up. They never saw her coming, yet to this day and for the foreseeable future, China is a socialist, Marxist country.

So the new, desperate Western spin is to try to argue that China has "succumbed" to capitalism. Yeah, right, a country where all the private companies have to have members of the CPC on their board and hand over enough shares to the state to grant it veto powers, not to mention the Central bank and all its major companies are state-owned... Lol.

les7 , Jun 9, 2018 4:49:57 PM | 14
"The 'west' is past. The future is in the east."

Wow... such grandiose conclusions...

After the collapse of the USSR the consensus - even of the alt-media (what little of it existed) was that a new American century was on the way and the whole world would be better off for it. A decade later in 2003 the consensus (post 'shock & awe' Gulf War 2) was that America had the ability to re-structure the Asian /African world and that it would all be for good.

15 years later we are all sick of the fruit of that delusion. So we look to another power to save us... Do we understand nothing?

Without the accountability of multi-polarity, Western supreme power all became security-obsessed privilege, self-aggrandizement, blatant plunder and total disregard for moral value and life. Power corrupts - it knows no exceptions.

If the West is truly dead, the East will be no different.

Laguerre , Jun 9, 2018 4:55:53 PM | 15
re 12
Interesting that Trump has said Russia should be invited back into the west's G7/G8 at this time.
Thought of a moment to annoy the Europeans. It is obvious that Trump was pissed off about having to attend, and left at the earliest opportunity. The Europeans heard that, and will draw the inevitable conclusions.
Quentin , Jun 9, 2018 4:57:21 PM | 16
Lea @ 13 Socialist, Marxist, Capitalist, what does it matter: it seems to work for China, at least for the time being. It's success makes me think that a bit more government control of corporations might not be such a bad thing.
Grieved , Jun 9, 2018 5:00:44 PM | 17
The summit with Kim will be fascinating to observe. In my view, NK has finessed the US and the Trump administration to a degree I would not have thought possible, even from native US insiders. To do it long range from the other side of the world speaks to me a lot about the power of Asia, and the clarity of view from there.

I agree with Laguerre @9 that Trump is a terrible negotiator (forgive that I didn't read the Guardian piece). I would take this much further and say that all the US institutions themselves are culturally crippled in terms of understanding what's happening in the ascendancy of Asia. All of their negotiation is feeble, because their grasp on their own true position is based on yesterday's view of their power. You cannot go into negotiation without knowing what you hold.

Every day, I become more confident in the ability of the elder nations to put the young western empires to rest without their being triggered into death spasms.

Red Ryder @11 - I see China's full-on drive for the one Road as its way of waging total war, its strategic masterstroke to render the enemy powerless without the enemy's realizing that it is being attacked. Russia as the other half of the Double Helix mesmerizes the west with weaponry while China undercuts the ground. Both countries are fully at war, and winning, while unseeing commenters complain that it's time for them to "do something." How superb the silk rope drawn so softly around the throat.

It's a beautiful play. I very much hope - and truly expect - that we can all survive to be able to sit back and admire it as the years unfold.

psychohistorian , Jun 9, 2018 5:05:30 PM | 18
I have a small quibble with b's wording but thank him for following and reporting on our evolving world.

b's words:"

The U.S. is reduced to a schoolyard bully who beats up his gang members because their former victims have grown too big.

"

My rewording:

The global elite have their US puppet acting like a schoolyard bully who beat up his gang members because their former victims have grown too big.

The West is trying to consolidate power and control while they still have some ghost of a chance. How they hold countries after this global divorce will be interesting.

At his time the West has little to offer humanistically except its vice grip on most economic interaction and the tools including banking underpinning the "system". The elite have deluded the public in the West for centuries about private finance behind the scenes of all/most conflict......pointing to other religions but never their own.

It sure is getting interesting. IMO, the two Koreas are going to announce a reconciliation that requires the removal of America military forces/bases et al, which fits in with the fake nationalism efforts of Trump.

Jen , Jun 9, 2018 5:09:16 PM | 19
That the US and the EU and their respective camps are at loggerheads over trade and perhaps other economic issues should not (I hope) lead readers to assume that one side has the interests of the public it represents uppermost in mind. As the US and the Anglosphere is dominated by one set of neoliberals, so Germany and the lackey EU nations following Berlin are dominated by another set of neoliberals in thrall to an export-led mercantilist ideology. Just as the elites in charge of US power structures are only interested in enriching themselves, the same can be said for those in charge of power structures in Europe. Whether under the US or the EU, the public suffers.

Notice that Germany benefits from being the major economic power in the EU while its fellow EU nations around the Atlantic and Mediterranean rim flail under a huge debt (and Greece is being punished back into the impoverished colonial status it held under Nazi German occupation) and eastern European EU members are following suit running their economies into the ground and having to beg NATO into setting up bases in their territories to attract money. At the same time German workers are becoming poorer, they are not benefiting from Berlin's economic policies, they are not reproducing fast enough so Berlin needs to bring in more foreign workers in the guise of "refugees" to prop up factories and keep wages low.

@ Madderhatter67: The US did not win the Cold War because the Cold War was only ever a propaganda front for the secret war waged by US / UK elites against Russia and China to dominate and rob these nations and their neighbours of their natural resources.

Grieved , Jun 9, 2018 5:12:25 PM | 20
@5 Babyl-on

Thanks for the nod to CGTN. For any who care, I searched out its YouTube channel and it produces a huge daily output in English:

https://www.youtube.com/user/CCTVNEWSbeijing/videos

I've recently added Vesti News to my news for the same reason, a large daily feed of short clips of the Russian view, in English:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa8MaD6gQscto_Nq1i49iew/videos

I've never been a TV watcher, especially not for news, but I'm enjoying these tastes and flavors of this burgeoning century.

james , Jun 9, 2018 5:20:12 PM | 21
thanks b - and for the laugh with the marjorie and homer pic for comparison!

i think this parallel you draw is a good one.. the west is certainly floundering... i am not sure how global finance responds here... i can't imagine the 1% being on the wrong side of a bet on the direction of things here either..

@6 harry law.. did iran make it into the sco? it sounds like it did.. good!

@14 les7.. regarding your last line - i tend to agree with that viewpoint..

@19 jen... do you think it will be somehow different if the power shifts to russia/china? i guess i am not so sanguine over power, regardless of who holds it.

Wess County , Jun 9, 2018 5:23:01 PM | 22
Very well put, only issue that as to be dealt with is all those Stan Countries, they are a hibernating and breeding ground for Terrorists and Arms dealers , who don't care who they sell arms to and how they get them to rogue regimes.
Zanon , Jun 9, 2018 5:28:02 PM | 23
Its quite funny how Trump wrecked that meeting.

Trump could talk about Russia but who cares, he cant be trusted, hes totally unreliable and hopefully Russia sees that.

Zanon , Jun 9, 2018 5:29:13 PM | 24
at the same time Trump is a king, just look at how the pathetic western states STAND AROUND HIM begging him basically on all kinds of things!
Laguerre , Jun 9, 2018 5:57:10 PM | 25
re Grieved 17
I see China's full-on drive for the one Road as its way of waging total war, its strategic masterstroke to render the enemy powerless without the enemy's realizing that it is being attacked.
I do think you're exaggerating there.

China's past history has been one of a country very contented with itself, much like the US, because defended geographically by vast deserts. A longer history, so some foreigners did traverse the deserts.

The Chinese exported their products by foreign ships (Arabo-Persian) arriving at Canton, and buying cargoes, or camel caravans arriving in the north and buying silk. The Chinese themselves did not travel abroad very much, and so didn't know very much about surrounding countries, or the rest of the world. There was a fleet of Chinese junks which arrived in the Gulf in the 14th century, but it was the only one.

Today's situation is not so different. There are Chinese interventions in Africa, but their diplomacy is pretty ham-fisted. The Belt-and-Road initiative is in fact intended to bring up to speed Central Asian countries like Tajikistan. Fine, Tajikistan needs it, but it's not world-changing.

The rail freight from Beijing to Frankfurt works better as an intermediate between sea and air freight, but essentially it is what has always happened - foreigners export Chinese products. The Chinese don't know how to run a foreign policy.

bjd , Jun 9, 2018 5:58:01 PM | 26
I am surprised nobody here remarked on the pontifically present John Bolton.

This was about Iran, I am pretty sure.

bjd , Jun 9, 2018 6:02:20 PM | 27
I note, by the way, that in the second photo, the two persons holding a paper are not on the same page .

Talk about symbolism.

bjd , Jun 9, 2018 6:07:30 PM | 28
Have a closer look and you'll see that in the first photo, John Bolton is talking (Trump is silent and sitting there like 'Il Duce').

Bolton is talking to Macron, who is looking straight at Bolton.

In the second photo, Merkel is looking at Bolton, who is probably speaking at that moment.

Tell me this is not about Iran.

michaelj72 , Jun 9, 2018 6:26:40 PM | 29
hopehely at @4

"OK, so, is Japan 'east' or 'west'?"

from their body language, I would say that Japan is surely 'with' Trump and the US, but that's only because that arch-reactionary Abe is in power.....and when he goes, and go he will, there will be a big period of adjustment...some day.

Villainesse , Jun 9, 2018 6:26:46 PM | 30
The scambastic Trump could be inclined to make a slightly more fair deal in Singapore just to make a deal, but he is going extra early (no jet lag) and will be controlled by Pompeo with his 'Grim Reaper' CIA-dog/warhawk/translator/born & raised S. Korean with multiple relations in their South KCIA (NIS) and cabinet leadership, Andrew Kim (born Kim Sung-hyun). Kim's purpose will be to control Trump's spontaneaous decision making, inform him on what he reads as N. Korea's intent, and give baseline hawkish color to the translations for his own hawkish viewpoint.
annie , Jun 9, 2018 6:29:13 PM | 31
bjd, bolton is trump's overseer, making sure he doesn't step out of line.

Trump is a poor negotiator, and gives away tricks he doesn't have to. Why no concession from Israel, over the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem?

Laguerre, you have it backwards. the embassy move, the iran deal, and the appointment of bolton are all concessions trump made, as payback for adelson's millions to both the gop and his campaign. possibly also has a little something to do cambridge analytica, honey traps or whatever.

Adelson: the casino mogul driving Trump's Middle East policy

The imprint of the 84-year-old's political passions is seen in an array of Donald Trump's more controversial decisions, including violating the Iran nuclear deal, moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and appointing the ultra-hawkish John Bolton as national security adviser.

......The New York Times reported that Adelson is a member of a "shadow National Security Council" advising Bolton

Jen , Jun 9, 2018 6:36:52 PM | 32
James @ 21: I think one should always be a bit suspicious of those who hold power, especially those who find themselves holding the uppermost hand in power as a result of victory in war (whether in the form of actual military combat, trade war or other wars in soft power).

Russia under Vladimir Putin and China under Xi Jinping may be fine but will their successors know not to abuse the power they may gain from the New Silk Road projects encompassing Eurasia and Africa?

hopehely , Jun 9, 2018 6:38:17 PM | 33
Posted by: bjd | Jun 9, 2018 6:02:20 PM | 27
I note, by the way, that in the second photo, the two persons holding a paper are not on the same page.

Talk about symbolism.

In that pic, is that Miller lurking from behind?

Red Ryder , Jun 9, 2018 6:42:03 PM | 34
@29, bjd,

Of course, it is about Iran. It's the Iranian deal that the EU needs to continue. They benefit as the biggest vendors to Iran. They want to get inside that developing 70 million person market, also.

Bolton wants regime change. The EU knows that will be worse than Iraq. And economically, the EU will be in the dumps for 2 decades if there's another war they are forced to join. And they will be forced to join. They cannot say No to the Hegemon.

The EU 2, Germany and France, are at a historic moment of truth.

They could have a great future with Russia, China, Iran, the BRICS, SCO, OBOR and EAEU or they could be crippled by the Empire.

John Gilberts , Jun 9, 2018 7:01:17 PM | 35
Excellent analysis as always. Here's the muck CBC is reporting on the summit.

Canada Rejects Trump's Call to Let Russia Back Into G-7

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trump-russia-g7-canada-1.4697655

"...But Canada, which pushed for Russia to get the boot in 2014, is not onside. 'Russia was invited to be part of this club and I think that was a very wise initiation, and an invitation full of goodwill,'[FM Chrystia Freeland] she told reporters at the summit. 'Russia, however, made clear that it had no interest in behaving according to the rules of Western democracies..."

Glad to hear it...

michaelj72 , Jun 9, 2018 7:15:43 PM | 36
it's kind of wonderful to see all these imperialist and former neo-colonial powers fighting among themselves.

unfortunately, like the old African proverb goes, when the elephants fight it's the grass and small animals that suffer.

I see no reason for optimism for the peoples of europe at this point, as the stranglehold of the Trioka is perhaps as strong as ever, and hundreds of millions of people are suffering; the people simply have to get organized at all levels and take back their sovereignty at least as a start

WorldBLee , Jun 9, 2018 7:17:31 PM | 37
The US still has the power of the dollar in its arsenal. The UK and EU, and any nation that deals with Wall Street, are addicted to US investment in dollars. Since the EU is run by the banks, and western banks can't function with the dollar, any statements by the EU that they're going to avoid US sanctions over Iran are meaningless.

The equation is essentially this: you can have your sovereignty or you can have the benefits of the dollar that make your 1% very rich. You can't have both. Since the EU is ruled by the 1% banker/investor class they will forestall any attempts to regain sovereignty by the people. In a sense, Europe is like Russia 10-15 years ago, thinking that the US is the key to the golden calf. Russia learned the hard way they needed to establish some independence (although to this day Russia doesn't have nearly the financial independence one might hope), and China saw from Russia's example they needed to do so as well. This led them to team up on many economic initiatives while seeking to reduce the dominance of the dollar.

Perhaps someday Europe will learn this lesson. But as long as the EU exists, I kind of doubt it. The EU-crats will cry and criticize Trump but the bankers love US money too much to let them actually do anything serious.

Ghost Ship , Jun 9, 2018 7:20:38 PM | 38
Paul Krugman is tweeting that this is all happening because Trump doesn't understand Value-Added Tax !

This is not an endorsement of Krugman who is trying to blame it on Putin.

rexl , Jun 9, 2018 7:56:05 PM | 39
If the West is dead and the East is the future, then why are so many Chinese buying houses and living part time in Canada, Australia, and the USA? Why is there so much emphasis put on Western education facilities by Asians?
Winston , Jun 9, 2018 8:02:05 PM | 40
I'm sure Trump doesn't understand VAT.

Most Americans don't no matter how much explanation I go into.

They insist its a tariff or duty,which its not.

I've given up trying to explain its a sales tax on all,paying at customs is merely a cash flow issue for the importer.A reclaimable input on his VAT return,did it many times myself.

Sabine , Jun 9, 2018 8:11:53 PM | 41
there is no west nor east.

there is only a bunch of paid of administrators running the countries and the corporations that pay them.

Trumps quid pro quo is deals that benefit his family. I don't thinks he cares one bit about the GOP and how the party fundraises. He cares about advancing his family and keeping the loot.

maybe we should realize that the concepts of east and west, as much as neo liberalism or neo conservatism or any other moniker that we could apply to loot and steal - legally and without shame under the guise of trade - are concepts of the past.

the future is for the strongest, irrespective of their origins or philosophy. we are burning this planet down with a vengeance and we - the people - are to numerous and too expensive to keep.

while we debate and some even chuckle with delight as to how the west is treated by trump, or how much the west deserves to be made redundant and all hail the Russians and the Chinese - the king is dead, long live the king - it is us who dies in the wars, it is our children that are being kidnapped and locked up in prison when arriving on the border seeking asylum, it is us who will watch the women in our live die in childbirth because of lack of medical care, it is us who will die of black lung, hunger, thirst and general malice.

and while we gossip, they laugh all the way to the bank.

NemesisCalling , Jun 9, 2018 8:24:56 PM | 42
b, we have no doubt that the North Korean leadership is ready for the Americans and know the score with a rising Eurasia and a sinking NATO. However, your last assumption of Kim being more than ready to go toe-to-toe with DJT smacks of some of the worst tendencies of many posters here who are ready to venerate Kim without him ever even making formal address of more than a few words to a) his people, 2) his allies, or D) even the world. This is a laughable assumption from you and it would be like having the most beautifully-made garment handy for a long while, desperate for anyone to come along so you could fling it on them to prove they were the most amazing supreme leader in all the world!

This is not to say I do not want the NoKos to succeed in their endeavors of getting a fair deal...hardly: I think they will succeed eventually because they are shrewd. But this is an attempt to squash the unbelievably propagandistic (or naive) attempts to place the mantle of imperviousness, all-knowingness, utterly-innocentness, and insurmountably-cleverousness onto the boy that would be king. DJT could eat a boy like Kim for breakfast if left alone from their advisors.

CE , Jun 9, 2018 8:26:35 PM | 43
Interesting that this happens in June. Because it reminds me of this classic little fun ditty:

Death in June - Death of the West

ben , Jun 9, 2018 8:33:09 PM | 44
Sabine @ 41 said:"there is no west nor east.

"there is only a bunch of paid of administrators running the countries and the corporations that pay them"

And this"and while we gossip, they laugh all the way to the bank."

I would tend to agree, but I'm hoping b's right in his assessment, the empire and her minions very badly need a comeuppance..

dh , Jun 9, 2018 8:45:10 PM | 45
Trump is very dependent on his base. He knows them well. At risk of hitting a discordant note I suspect a lot of his fans are happy seeing him sock it to the goddamn ch*nks and euro faggots.
Daniel , Jun 9, 2018 8:46:57 PM | 46
It's a big weekend. G7, SCO, Bilderberg, NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels and the huge NATO "Drills" including the Baltic States and for the first time, Israel.

Oh, and the US called on NATO to add 30 land battalions, 30 air fighter squadrons, and 30 naval ships to "counter Russian aggression."

The AZW Empire is not giving up its plans.

karlof1 , Jun 9, 2018 8:47:27 PM | 47
I predicted it would become the G6+1 and so it has. Trump told his staffers NOT to sign the Joint Communique, which I believe is a first.

On the issue of power and the BRI , the linked item is a trove of info as it focuses on perhaps the most problematic region of the SCO/BRI.

If Europe is to break free from the Outlaw US Empire, Merkel must be jettisoned and independent-minded leaders must take control of Germany and EU. I'm not at all surprised with how events went in Canada. However, I see the Policy as the Bully, not Trump, the policy still being the attempt to gain Full Spectrum Domination. What's most important, IMO, is this spectacle will not go unnoticed by the rest of the world. The Outlaw US Empire cannot make it any plainer that it's the primary enemy state of all except the Zionist Abomination. I think Abe wonders why he's there and not in Qingdao.

Although this item focuses on Kashmir , it should be read after the longer article linked above. There's little news as of yet coming from Qingdao other than who's cooking what and sideline meets. I expect more coming out beginning Monday. Of course, Kim-Trump begins now, it being the 10th in Singapore already.

bevin , Jun 9, 2018 10:26:24 PM | 48
The difference between the two projects- the western Empire and the Eurasian schemes exemplified by OBOR- is that the former, as 500 years of experience teaches us, relies on ethnic divisions, wars and competition while the latter requires peace and co-operation.

In a sense that answers Jen @ 32. It really doesn't matter who runs the governments of China and Russia, provided that they can prevent the imperialists from distracting them into rivalry. It was that which, thanks to plenty of stupidity on both sides, gave rise to the tensions of which Nixon and Kissinger took advantage.

Had the USSR and China ironed out their small differences on the sixties- and Vietnam gave them a perfect excuse to do so, history would have been very different and probably much less bloody.

The truth is that, as b asserts, the SCO is already much more important than the G7- America and the Six Dwarfs. How much more important is shown by the role of Freeland (the neo-Nazi Ukrainian apologist) in insisting on holding the line against Russia's re-admission to a club that it almost certainly does not want to rejoin.

Trump may not be a 'good negotiator' but he has a position of relative strength vis a vis the rest of the G7 who cannot negotiate because they do as they are told. If they won't do what Trump tells them to do they will be on the lookout for someone else to give them orders-they have no idea of independence or sovereignty. Just watch most of them scuttle back to Brussels for ideas, or set up back channels to Moscow- once a puppet always a puppet.

karlof1 , Jun 9, 2018 11:57:39 PM | 49
The Sino-Soviet Split occurred while Stalin was still alive--he refused to allow the Chinese to develop "Communism with Chinese Characteristics" just like any other European Orientalist. And as the Monthly Review article I linked, the Chinese must beware of becoming/being seen as Imperialistic in their zeal to push BRI--Imperialist behavior will kill the Win-Win concept as it will revert to just another Zero-sum Game.
Hoarsewhisperer , Jun 10, 2018 12:20:55 AM | 50
One of the factors which has been killing the 'Democratic' West is that its bribed & blackmailed leaders have alienated themselves from The People whose views they were elected to represent.

No-one living in a so-called democracy is prepared to tolerate a leader who spends too much time praising, and making excuses for, the crimes of the racist-supremacist Zionist Abomination (h/t karlof1) and its Piece Process in Palestine. It can be persuasively argued that embrace of and fealty to the Z.A. is the only factor which Western Leaders have in common. And it's neither a coincidence nor happenstance.

ben , Jun 10, 2018 12:40:15 AM | 51
Hoarsewhisperer @ 50 said:" Piece Process in Palestine."

Nice word play. I'm assuming the "piece" word is referring to the Israelis taking the Palestinian's lands one piece at a time..

Debsisdead , Jun 10, 2018 12:51:14 AM | 52
Grrr! I still don't get why so many humans believe anything good comes from chucking aside one greedy oppressive arsehole then replacing it with another. Sure the SCO has a founding document laden with flowery words and seemingly wonderful concepts but I say "So what" check out the UN charter or the amerikan constitution and you'll find the same.

These issues of justice & equity cannot be fixed by swapping bosses because every society has its share of pathologically fucked up greedies who have the means and lack of empathy to destroy anything and everyone in their lust for whatever it is they imagine they need.

We have to accept that will never change and that trying to purge the planet of those types just creates more of them from within the structure most successful in effecting the swap.

I know I sound like a scratched disc but the only fix that could hope to work is one that smashes the conglomerations into tiny shards, reducing the world to thousands of small self governing entities; sure some places will still end up being taken over by low self esteem motivated arseholes, but not only will they not be able to do as much damage, arseholes stand out in a small society where more 'normal' humans interact with them - currently all the pr1cks coagulate in spots such as the G7 and few non-pr1cks ever get close enough to see them for what they are. A low count on the old degrees of seperation register makes it much more difficult for the scum to rise. Making sure that no chunk is sufficiently big to force its will on another would also be vital.

That won't fix everything, but who outside some totally screwed up anal regressive would want that anyway? I just want to live in a world where no one cops it like the entire Yemeni population currently is. I see no benefit in moving the horror from Yemen to Uigar-land or whatever place the new bosses decide should be their fun palace of hate, murder and misery.

The Congo and/or Nigeria another coupla sites of misery for money. Timor Leste aka East Timor, now that the Portuguese expats in the form of the man with the Nobel stamp of obeisance to the monied Jose Ramos Horta have done over the locals, something Xanana Gusmão always said could happen. Horta's arseholeness made the wealthiest nation in the world (divide resources by population) riven by poverty, lack of health and education services plus of course old favourite, racist oppression. Check out these kids here untroubled by issues like getting a decent phone signal or their ranking on Twitch - wondering where their next decent feed is coming from is prolly their most pressing issue.

Swapping SCO for G7 will do SFA for them or anyone else unlucky enough to be living on top of whatever the current 'must have' is deemed to be.

Anyone who imagines that it could is delusional.

karlof1 , Jun 10, 2018 12:55:44 AM | 53
Official SCO Conference site .

Humanity either learns how to live with itself on an equal basis or it will perish; it's really that simple. The likes of the Outlaw US Empire, its NATO vassals and the Zionist Abomination are shining examples of what MUST be exorcised for ever more.

[Jul 13, 2018] Trump in a SAG actor, with decades of experience in professional entertainment though, so he knows how to play to his audience.

Jul 13, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Daniel , Jul 11, 2018 9:05:59 PM | 51

Curtis @35

Another theory is that Trump is just like every other spokesmodel for the US part of the AZ Empire.

He in a SAG actor, with decades of experience in professional entertainment though, so he knows how to play to his audience. They love the sh*t out of him, even as he sticks it to them harder and harder.

[Jul 04, 2018] Call It 'Unileaderism' Trump's Foreign Policy of One by John Feffer

A highly critical view on Trump. Many aspects of Trump foreign policy are captured correctly: an objective evaluation is the evaluation of a person we do not like ;-)
Trump changed US neoliberalism from "classic" variant to what can be called "National neoliberalism", which denies neoliberal globalization. And that's a huge change.
When John Feller mentions that "The allies that Trump has cultivated -- Poland, Hungary, Russia, North Korea, the Philippines -- don't advance any particular national security interests. They reflect only the personal preferences of Trump himself." he certainly sniffed something strong. Russia is probably the only country capable to make the USA uninhabitable. And neocon's Russophobia while lining their pockets is threat to the USA as nation and as a country. After the war with Russia both might be gone ( as well as Russia, as the USA still enjoys technical superiority).
Notable quotes:
"... In this week's Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg canvassed administration officials for their one-sentence characterization of this Trump Doctrine. Goldberg narrowed it down to the pugnacious phrase: "We're America, Bitch." ..."
"... When he calls other leaders "weak," Trump is resorting to the old playground epithet: they are "pussies." And, as he put it so indelicately in the Access Hollywood tape, he feels perfectly free to grab them by the pussies. The president is using the power invested in his office to take what he wants. ..."
"... Rape, it has often been said, is not about sex: it's about power. ..."
"... To Trump's followers, "We're America, Bitch" could be understood as a middle finger directed at a cold and unfair world, one that no longer respects American power and privilege. ..."
"... To much of the world, however, and certainly to most practitioners of foreign and national-security policy, "We're America, Bitch" would be understood as self-isolating, and self-sabotaging. ..."
"... John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus and the author of the dystopian novel Splinterlands. ..."
Jul 04, 2018 | fpif.org

In the wake of the disastrous G7 meeting in Can

ada and the successful summit in Singapore, it's hard to know what to call U.S. foreign policy these days.

It's not just unilateralism, where Washington acts alone and allies be damned. Nor is it merely unipolarism, in which the United States targets all hegemonic challengers in an effort to preserve its position as the world's dominant military and economic power.

Let's coin a new term: unileaderism .

According to unileaderism, only the U.S. president makes foreign policy decisions of any import. Those decisions do not betray any strategic thinking. They may well be contradictory. And they often leave other members of the administration -- not to mention Congress and the American people -- totally baffled.

Unileaderism, at least as it's embodied by Donald Trump, is a philosophy bound up entirely in the personal quirks of the president himself. Instead of strategy, there are only tactics: wheedling, bluffing, threatening. It's like playing tennis against someone with John McEnroe's legendary temper and will to win, but few if any of his actual skills.

Neither unilateralism nor unipolarism can explain the spectacle of the last week, when Trump blasted U.S. allies at the G7 meeting in Canada and then blasted off for Singapore to negotiate with the leader of the longest standing adversary of the United States. Only unileaderism can capture this surreal reversal of traditional U.S. foreign policy norms.

The summit with Kim Jong Un was Trump at his most theatrical. He flattered the North Korean tyrant and signed a declaration of little substance. He showed off his limousine. He played Kim a White House-produced video crafted to appeal to the North Korea leader's vanity and nationalism (for instance, by juxtaposing images from North Korea with those from around the world, by barely mentioning South Korea, and by ignoring China and Japan altogether).

Don't get me wrong: I'm thrilled that Trump sat down with Kim and initiated a détente between the two countries. Trump's pledge to stop war games with South Korea is a major step forward. As for the declaration, it was a good thing, not a bad thing, that it didn't go into details. North Korea doesn't want to denuclearize immediately, and Trump doesn't really understand the particulars of the process anyway. Anything more detailed would have been a conversation stopper.

But the mutual respect that the two leaders expressed was all about unileaderism: their preference to rule without any regard for democracy or human rights. The format of their 30-minute colloquy was telling: just the two leaders with their translators and no advisors. It was a throwback to the diplomacy of yesteryear, when royals met to determine the boundaries of their respective kingdoms.

The contretemps in Quebec was far more disturbing. Trump refused to sign the G7 declaration, continued to pursue tariffs against major U.S. trading partners, and insulted Canadian leader Justin Trudeau to boot. It was an extraordinary display of presidential pique.

Trump's tantrum about Trudeau divided his administration into those who leapt into the fracas to slap the Canadian prime minister and those who shifted into high gear to repair the fraying U.S. relationship with its northern neighbor. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer continued to work with his Canadian counterparts to negotiate a new NAFTA. But White House trade advisor Peter Navarro sided with Trump by saying that "there's a special place in hell" for Trudeau -- the kind of epithet once reserved for the mortal enemies of the United States.

It was like something out of Canadian Bacon , the satirical 1995 film about a president hoping to boost his dismal popularity by promoting a war against the Canucks. Has America been suddenly plunged into wag-the-beaver territory?

Meanwhile, Trump's proposal to bring Russia back into the G7 caught many of his colleagues off guard, including the National Security Council. Methinks the NSC doth protest too much. This is the same president who congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his recent electoral win even though his aides had written "DON'T CONGRATULATE" in all-caps on his briefing notes. This president delights in ignoring even is closest "advisors."

Trump's invite to Russia is no surprise. The president wants his buddies at the G7. Angela Merkel is not his buddy. Vladimir Putin is. Trump treats world affairs like it's an elementary school club.

Unileaderism may well be the logical endpoint for a country that has used unilateralism to preserve its unipolarism. And Trump is certainly the product of a particular tendency within the U.S. political culture that rejects [neo]liberalism and multilateralism.

But it goes beyond that. In its rejection of strategy in favor of tactics, Trumpism is a repudiation of geopolitics altogether. Trumpism isn't a new kind of opening in the chess game of international relations. The president, out of rage and stupidity and arrogance, has simply picked up the board with all of its pieces and flung the whole thing against the wall. He's playing a different game altogether.

The Trump Doctrine

Ordinarily when pundits come up with a doctrine to define an administration's approach to the world, they put a label on a collective stance -- even though the label inevitably goes by the president's name.

In the case of the Trump doctrine, however, the philosophy points more to the president's gut instincts rather than an approach hammered out by a group of "Vulcans" (in the case of George W. Bush) or a set of [neo]liberal internationalists (Barack Obama). The Trump doctrine boils down to Trump. And the word "doctrine" is something of an overstatement.

In this week's Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg canvassed administration officials for their one-sentence characterization of this Trump Doctrine. Goldberg narrowed it down to the pugnacious phrase: "We're America, Bitch."

The phrase reveals the Trump approach for what it is: sexual harassment.

When he calls other leaders "weak," Trump is resorting to the old playground epithet: they are "pussies." And, as he put it so indelicately in the Access Hollywood tape, he feels perfectly free to grab them by the pussies. The president is using the power invested in his office to take what he wants.

Rape, it has often been said, is not about sex: it's about power. Having divided the international community into female (Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau) and male (Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong Un), Trump is now buddying up with his locker-room pals and boasting of how's taken advantage of the "weaker sex."

Goldberg writes:

To Trump's followers, "We're America, Bitch" could be understood as a middle finger directed at a cold and unfair world, one that no longer respects American power and privilege. To much of the world, however, and certainly to most practitioners of foreign and national-security policy, "We're America, Bitch" would be understood as self-isolating, and self-sabotaging.

Sexual harassment, thanks to the #MeToo movement, has become self-sabotaging. Has the G7 just had their #MeToo moment? Perhaps America's top allies are finished with appeasing Trump and saying "yes" when they really mean "no." I look forward to the photo op with Merkel and Macron both wearing their pink pussyhats in solidarity with Trump protesters worldwide.

The End of Geopolitics?

The G7 represents the [neo]liberal international order: an attempt by the world's top economies to manage disputes and develop a common commitment to certain principles like free trade. The grouping is an acknowledgment that global capitalism can't survive by the "invisible hand" alone and needs the guidance of many hands.

The G7 has been spectacularly ineffective in addressing the major issues of the time: global poverty and inequality, climate change, pandemics. It doesn't represent robust multilateralism. It leaves out obvious players like China and India. It makes no effort to represent voices of the powerless.

Still, the G7 has been a very modest check on both U.S. unilateralism and unipolarism. And now it's emerging as a counterbalance to Trump's unileaderism. The president's combative trade policies and indiscriminate use of personal invective are uniting much of the world against the United States. The approval rating of the United States, across 134 countries, dropped in two years from 48 percent to 30 percent, according to a 2018 Gallup poll .

On the other hand, the American public's satisfaction with U.S. standing in the world reached a 13-year high in 2018, a worrisome sign for those of us pushing for progressive foreign policy alternatives. Trump's unileaderism strikes a chord with a segment of the American public. It's not just the Russians who crave an "iron fist" leader.

Trump's tactics run afoul of the basic laws of geopolitics: identifying long-term goals, developing corresponding strategies, and cultivating key allies to achieve those goals. The allies that Trump has cultivated -- Poland, Hungary, Russia, North Korea, the Philippines -- don't advance any particular national security interests. They reflect only the personal preferences of Trump himself.

According to a progressive take on foreign policy, the United States should relinquish its unipolar status as part of a transition to a peaceful multilateral order. Trump's unileaderism won't, in the end, preserve this unipolar status. It will ultimately destroy the international community and the very possibility of geopolitics. As the United States sinks further into aggressive resentment, the world will splinter into hundreds of "Make [My Country] Great Again" warring factions.

Bush Times Ten

Beginning with the Reagan administration, the concept of a "unitary executive" has gathered force in both constitutional law and presidential practice. According to this theory, the president controls the entire executive branch. So, for instance, George W. Bush expanded presidential power through his use of signing statements that reinterpreted legislative decisions.

Trump has taken this concept to a whole new level with his meddling in the Russiagate investigations and his willingness to pardon everyone indicted in the matter, even himself. Here's a president who can't seem to wait to get rid of his chief of staff because he no longer wants to have anyone managing him. Trump can't be bothered with briefings because he prefers to make decisions based on some cocktail of his own hormonal urges and what he gleans, often mistakenly, from Fox News.

Unileaderism raises the doctrine of the unitary executive to the power of 10. It's bad enough that a deeply insecure man-boy has latched on to this doctrine. Much worse will happen when a canny adult adopts the same approach. Trumpism without Trump would finalize America's descent into the maelstrom.

John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus and the author of the dystopian novel Splinterlands.

[Jun 13, 2018] Predatory Gambling in the USA

Notable quotes:
"... Corporate Crime Reporter ..."
"... [For the complete q/a format Interview with Les Bernal, see 32 Corporate Crime Reporter 24(11), June 7, 2018, print edition only .] ..."
Jun 13, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

June 13, 2018 Predatory Gambling in the USA by Russell Mokhiber Les Bernal is working on a ranking of the states with the worst predatory gambling problems.

He hasn't completed it yet. But he gave us a sneak preview. Bernal is the national director of the public interest group Stop Predatory Gambling.

If he were to call it right now, which would be the five worst states?

Oregon, West Virginia, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania.

What about Nevada?

"We don't debate Nevada," Bernal told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week. "If you were going to have one place to gamble, have it be Nevada. I always exclude Nevada."

What are the best five?

Utah, Hawaii, Alaska, Nebraska – with New Hampshire and Vermont tied for the number five slot.

"It's hard to do a ranking," Bernal said. "Oregon has one tribal casino. But the Oregon lottery has video gambling machines. Technically they don't have many casinos in Oregon. But Oregon is as bad as any state in the country in terms of harming the public."

"West Virginia is there as one of the worst. Oregon is right there. It's not a uniform thing."

"Our goal is to have a ranking of the biggest predatory gambling states in the country. And factor in the different forms of gambling they have."

How would you describe the politics behind the movement to stop predatory gambling?

"We are one of the most politically diverse movements in the United States. We have people from all political stripes who work together. You would be hard pressed to find a more diverse network of citizens involved with this."

Is your group opposed to all gambling?

"We are opposed to the role of government in actively promoting and sanctioning commercialized gambling to citizens."

Isn't that all gambling?

"If you and I went bowling or were playing golf and we had a friendly wager on the game, that is technically gambling. I'm not talking about prohibiting that. We are talking about gambling for profit."

You would prohibit gambling for profit?

"We would prohibit running a gambling ring for profit, yes we would."

If you prohibited gambling for profit, you are prohibiting 99 percent of the gambling in the United States, right?

"Running it as a business."

Isn't that 99 percent of gambling in the United States?

"No. There are all sorts of social gambling where people have Friday night poker gamers, office Super Bowl pools."

What percentage of all gambling in the United States is gambling for profit?

"In 2016, the American people lost $117 billion to government sanctioned gambling."

How much did they lose in other gambling?

"The numbers on illegal gambling don't compare."

The legalized gambling piece is $117 billion in 2016.

"That's what they lost. What they wagered is close to $200 billion."

And illegal gambling is much less?

"Well, if you and I are in a Friday night poker game, that's gambling."

How about bookies?

"Those guys are doing it for profit. That's called illegal commercial gambling."

How big is that market?

"The American Gaming Association make up a number of $150 billion on illegal sports gambling."

Give us your argument against government sanctioned gambling.

"The American people lost $117 billion to government sanctioned gambling in 2016. At the same time one out of two citizens in this country own zero net assets – no stocks, no property, no bonds."

"Here you have an enormous number of people who lack assets to grow into the middle class. And the public voice of government is targeting that same constituency to play games that are rigged against them."

"We start with this moral belief that all men and women deserve a fair opportunity to have the best life possible for themselves and their family. That's why we show up every day to compete on this."

"You have citizens losing $117 billion a year. And meanwhile, half the citizens don't have any assets at all. The public voice of government to most citizens today no matter where you live is gambling."

"We see a lottery class of citizens. You don't have a chance to improve your life. You are stuck with a lack of mobility out of poverty. And your best hope is to try and play a rigged game to make some cash to pay your rent every month."

"At the same time, government is advertising these games relentlessly to citizens. We spend more than $1 billion a year advertising gambling to the American people on lotteries alone. That pales in comparison to any other form of government advertising."

"When I was a kid growing up I used to see advertisements with John Wayne saying – invest in your country – buy US Savings Bonds. The idea behind that was to encourage citizens to build assets. Everyone points back to the 1950s where there was a growing middle class and a chance for people to climb out of poverty."

"We had a high savings rate. People were building assets. That was an understated part of keeping people in the middle class. We talk a lot about wages, but wages are only one part of the equation. You also have to encourage people to build assets."

"We come off the great depression during World War II. And the public voice of government then was – we have to put people to work. Imagine government encouraging people back then to go out and spend their money on lottery tickets to raise the money for the war. Instead they encouraged the citizens to go out and buys savings bonds, to invest in your country, invest in your neighbor. It created this strong sense of a common good. It was stronger then than it is today."

Of the $117 billion that the American people lost, how much of that came from poor people?

"Without question, a large portion is coming from the poor. David Just and his team at Cornell have done the best research on that. And it consistently shows that the people who are participating come from the least favored sections of our society. And they are playing out of financial desperation. It's a Hail Mary investment strategy."

"Two-thirds of the public doesn't gamble at all. You have one third of the public participating in this government sanctioned gambling. The messaging that is targeting those folks is – this is a chance to change your life. They sell scratch tickets that say – money for life. This is going to be your answer to get ahead in society."

"The average person sees the lottery as Powerball and Megamillions. But the truth is that those two games represent only a small portion of lottery revenues. Where lotteries make most of their cash are on what are called scratch tickets. Scratch tickets are the number one money maker, unless you are a state like Oregon that has these electronic gambling machines, which are the most lucrative of all."

"Scratch tickets are these high frequency games where you play many times a day at higher and higher wagered amounts."

What impact does gambling have on the poor?

"Government sanctioned gambling goes to the heart of many issues that the poor face. It's a big factor in the lack of mobility out of poverty. By encouraging people to gamble on these rigged games, instead of being able to build a savings account, they are spending on these rigged games at the street corner on a daily basis."

"What are the key elements of mobility out of poverty? Family structure. If you can keep a family unit together, you have a better shot of getting out of poverty than if you don't. Two of the biggest factors shown to disrupt family structure are infidelity and financial problems."

"Here you have a government program that directly attacks the family structure and the family structure is the key to pulling people out of poverty. Government sanctioned gambling is designed to get citizens to lose their cash as frequently as possible at higher wagered amounts. It directly intersects with rising inequality. We define it as a lack of opportunity."

[For the complete q/a format Interview with Les Bernal, see 32 Corporate Crime Reporter 24(11), June 7, 2018, print edition only .]

[Jun 06, 2018] The magic of Neoliberalism is to transform acts that should be illegal into legal ones

Notable quotes:
"... The magic of Neoliberalism is to transform acts that should be illegal into legal ones. In fact they do so explicitly as their argument for reducing taxation is exactly that of getting rid or decreasing the problem of illegal tax evasion.... so they say. Their problem is that we have no evidence that tax evasion decreases under Neoliberalism on top of the legal tax minimisation already provided. The only thing that happens under Neoliberalism is that the Tax Office tends to be under-resourced and everybody likes to conveniently look somewhere else. ..."
Jun 06, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Alpo88 -> DesignConstruct , 3 Jun 2018 17:20

A "legal system of tax evasion", written like that, in quotes, is obviously a metaphor with an intended sarcasm. Clearly, logically, if a taxation system is legal, by using it you are not "evading" taxes, which is an illegal act.... Anyway, everybody seems to have understood my intention but you. Well, now you also know.

The magic of Neoliberalism is to transform acts that should be illegal into legal ones. In fact they do so explicitly as their argument for reducing taxation is exactly that of getting rid or decreasing the problem of illegal tax evasion.... so they say. Their problem is that we have no evidence that tax evasion decreases under Neoliberalism on top of the legal tax minimisation already provided. The only thing that happens under Neoliberalism is that the Tax Office tends to be under-resourced and everybody likes to conveniently look somewhere else.

DesignConstruct -> Alpo88 , 3 Jun 2018 16:52
A "legal system of tax evasion" is a non sequitur, what they have done is create a set of tax laws that enable more opportunities for tax avoidance by the well off, and Kerry very correctly took advantage of it. If you can, get a copy of the Senate hearing - it's gold.
Splatgadget -> NME765 , 3 Jun 2018 16:51
Agreed, but I'll raise you Kleptocracy.

[Mar 03, 2018] Jarvanka out? Kushner's business problems add to talk of DC exit by Edward Helmore

Notable quotes:
"... Meanwhile, the FBI has reportedly been examining Ivanka Trump's negotiations over the financing of Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver. ..."
Mar 03, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in 2017. The couple appears to be facing an uncertain future in the White House. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
Life at the White House for Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, may be rapidly losing its appeal as conflict of interest claims against the couple mount and the president himself is said to be cooling on continuing their roles in the administration.

Kushner, who this week was stripped of his top-level security clearance, faces intensifying scrutiny on a number of fronts, including loans on his family's real estate assets agreed with creditors who stand to gain from White House economic policy, and from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

Meanwhile, the FBI has reportedly been examining Ivanka Trump's negotiations over the financing of Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver.

Like many Trump-badged properties, the company receives licensing and marketing fees from the developer, in this case the wealthy Malaysian Joo Kim Tiah. Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Ivanka Trump's ethics counsel, told CNN that no "hurdle, obstacle, concern, red flag or problem has been raised with respect to Ms Trump or her clearance application".

In both cases law enforcement officials are concerned that the couple's foreign dealings leave them vulnerable to pressure from foreign agents.

Seemingly, Kushner's inability to receive security clearance stems from his family's real estate dealings and the business' pressing need for investment, often from foreign lenders.

Kushner had to make more than 100 revisions to his security-clearance application; his financial filings had to be amended 39 times in four months after he "inadvertently omitted" millions of dollars in assets.

According to the Washington Post, US intelligence agencies have learned that numerous foreign government officials discussed how to exploit his business interests. These include four countries: Israel, China, Mexico and the UAE.

The paper also reports that the president has told aides it might be preferable if the couple returned to civilian life in New York.

These are some of the business problems plaguing Kushner. 666 Fifth Avenue

The flagship of the Kushner empire, Jared Kushner's first big deal is looking increasingly like a potentially ruinous burden. The $1.8bn property was purchased at the top of the market in 2007 before prices for commercial real estate crumbled.

The property is facing $1.2bn refinancing at the end of this year and the search for lenders has reportedly , at various times, led to contacts with Putin ally and head of Russian state investment bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) Sergei Gorkov, as well as Anbang , the Chinese insurance giant, and members of the Qatari Investment Authority .

Chicago skyscraper

The company has reportedly taken out loans totaling $509m from lenders with whom Kushner has held White House meetings. These are reported to include a $184m loan on a Chicago skyscraper – the midwest headquarters for AT&T – from private equity firm Apollo Global, a company that stands to benefit from the Trump administration's infrastructure spending as well as the decision to leave carried-interest provisions so beloved of private equity investors in place.

Brooklyn development

The $509m also reportedly includes a $325m Citigroup loan on a Brooklyn development, soon after the Citigroup CEO, Michael Corbat, met with Kushner at the White House.

Spokespeople for Apollo and Citigroup denied that the meetings had anything to do with the loans. "Stories like these attempt to make insinuating connections that do not exist to disparage the financial institutions and companies involved," a Kushner Companies spokeswoman, Christine Taylor, told the New York Times.

Deutsche bank loan

A $285m Deutsche bank loan to Kushner Companies is reportedly the focus of New York banking regulators. According to Reuters last week, the New York state department of financial services (DFS) made the requests to Deutsche Bank, Signature Bank and New York Community Bank for information on loans and other financial arrangements including lines of credit and loan guarantees.

Taylor said the company had not received a copy of any letter from regulators. "Prior to our CEO voluntarily resigning to serve our country, we never had any type of inquiries," Taylor said in an email. "These types of inquiries appear to be harassment solely for political reasons."

EB-5 visas

In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly looking into Kushner company's promotion of White House ties to pitch EB-5 visas to Chinese investors. Kushner's use of EB-5, a congressionally approved visa-for-investment system, came under renewed scrutiny last year after the Kushner family members conducted sales pitches in Shanghai and Beijing seeking investment in a New Jersey project One Journal Square.

According to reports in the Washington Post and the New York Times , the pitch included a photograph of the president in a slideshow that described him as a key decision-maker on the fate of the EB-5 program. A Kushner spokesman said the photograph was included by the Chinese organizer of the event.

[Mar 02, 2018] Kushner s Business Got Loans From Companies After White House Meetings

Notable quotes:
"... Maybe there is a clear and present danger in the White House? Kushner's Business Got Loans From Companies After White House Meetings ..."
"... For Kushner's vulnerability to foreign manipulation, there seems to be a lot out there beyond this one WAPO story. This month old article lays out the problems existence over the last year with China. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/29/jared-kushner-is-chinas-trump-card ..."
"... I think what TTG is alluding to is that the source may be from another SIGINT establishment, not the USA. Correct me if I'm wrong. Given the vague nature of the allegations against Kushner, for all we know, it's Turkey, Brazil, or the UK leaking. ..."
Feb 01, 2028 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Leaky Ranger , 28 February 2018 at 09:20 PM

Maybe there is a clear and present danger in the White House? Kushner's Business Got Loans From Companies After White House Meetings

Apollo, the private equity firm, and Citigroup made large loans last year to the family real estate business of Jared Kushner, President Trump's senior adviser.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/28/business/jared-kushner-apollo-citigroup-loans.html The Twisted Genius , 28 February 2018 at 10:14 PM

... ... ...

For Kushner's vulnerability to foreign manipulation, there seems to be a lot out there beyond this one WAPO story. This month old article lays out the problems existence over the last year with China. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/29/jared-kushner-is-chinas-trump-card

plantman , 01 March 2018 at 10:00 AM
I think the attacks on Kushner are particularly evil and calculating.... And they could pose a real danger to the country! Look: The reason Trump's enemies want Kushner gone is because Trump does not have a wide circle of friends he can trust, so his enemies want to further isolate him so he can be controlled BY THEM.

The danger is that he will get increasingly embattled, erratic and paranoid.

Then what?? Maybe they think that's a reliable way to control someone like Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon, but Trump??? No way. Trump has shown time and again that he does not respond to situations like other people. I think that creates a potentially grave situation for the country, the country these deep-state vermin never think about. They only think about themselves.

Green Zone Café , 01 March 2018 at 10:35 AM
I think what TTG is alluding to is that the source may be from another SIGINT establishment, not the USA. Correct me if I'm wrong. Given the vague nature of the allegations against Kushner, for all we know, it's Turkey, Brazil, or the UK leaking.

The reason why Jeff Sessions isn't prosecuting anyone is because he has no evidence against an American who is leaking.

egl , 01 March 2018 at 11:25 AM
The leaks could have come from inside the White House. There's no shortage of insiders and wanna-be insiders who don't like Javanka's access to Trump.
Sid Finster , 01 March 2018 at 11:36 AM
I do hope that this is a rhetorical question - nothing will be done because the Deep State, the Borg, whatever you want to call it, does not particularly want Kushner involved in policy.

I do not want Kushner involved in policy either, but I am not leaking anything to get him forced to the side.

[Feb 28, 2018] The Knives Are Out For Kushner: Loans With Deutsche Under Scrutiny By Regulator

If Kushner was/is involved with such risky staff, why he tried to join Trump administration. It does not requires any IQ to understand that he will be the target and that knife are out to depose Trump. In view of color revolution against Trump the best strategy would be to stay in NYC. You need to be squeaky clean to work for him.
Notable quotes:
"... A spokeswoman for the Kushner Cos, Christine Taylor, said "We have not received a copy of any letter from the New York State Department of Financial Services," adding "Our company is a multi-billion enterprise that is extremely financially strong. Prior to our CEO voluntarily resigning to serve our country, we never had any type of inquiries. These type of inquiries appear to be harassment solely for political reasons. " ..."
"... Kushner's family business, the Kushner Companies, has had longstanding financial troubles related to 666 Fifth Avenue, "the most expensive building ever purchased", in New York City. ..."
"... After Kushner bought the Fifth Avenue property in late 2006 for $1.8 billion - with zero skin in the game coming from Kushner, the building came under intense pressure during the financial crisis. Vornado Realty Trust stepped in with financing in exchange for a 49.5% stake in the building, which is now carrying over $1.4 billion in debt according to a March release by Vornado ..."
"... While Jared has separated himself from his family's business and placed assets in a trust, he has fallen into the crosshairs of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Of interest are discussions between Kushner and Chinese investors during the transition, according to sources familiar with the investigation. Kushner met with executives of troubled Chinese conglomerate Anbang Insurance which was recently taken over by China's insurance regulator. Talks between Kushner and Anbang's chairman, Wu Xiaohui, broke down in March 2017, according to the New York Times . ..."
"... Also of interest to Mueller are Kushner's dealings with a Qatari investor over the 666 property, for which Kusher reportedly sought financing from former Prime Minister Jassim Al Thani, according to The Intercept. The discussion apparently went nowhere , similar to the Anbang deal. ..."
"... Dovetailing off of the reports of Kushner's meetings to shore up his finances, the Washington Post reported this week that officials from at least four countries - China, Israel, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates have explored ways to manipulate Kushner by taking advantage of his "complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience." The story cited current and former US intelligence officials - and noted that it is unclear on whether the cited countries took any action. ..."
"... Kushner is absolute scum, but how come he gets the treatment and not the Clinton foundation ..."
"... Back door attack. The inlaws, the sacred family structure. Eventually trump is going down. ..."
"... They will stop at nothing. They already committed treasonous crimes. ..."
"... They are the majority within gov.org. top to bottom -- Trump is fighting a completely stacked deck of swamp cards. They have no fear of the law. Look at every step they have taken. Look at the reactions. deflection, non-action. Behind the scenes the deals have been made-they will take down Trump ..."
"... If any dirt is found it wasn't an issue worthy of the integrity of the FBI before Kushner gained political office. So the FBI is only discrediting their felonious selves, past and politicized, craven present. ..."
"... Trump's example proved that it is pointless trying to go there and fight them alone. There needs to be a (new) party behind the individual, otherwise one does not stand a chance. ..."
"... Kushner has been systematically targeted by allies and foes alike because he has no foreign diplomacy expertise and they know he can be manipulated. Manipulated due to ignorance and arrogance. The worst kind of manipulation! ..."
"... You don't get unsecured lines from banks anymore unless you are GOD. Not personally. It may be that the company got one, but if Jared got one something funky is going on. ..."
"... NYCB is a garbage bank. They are essentially a 1980s S&L running a book of long maturity multi family loans and funding with purchased CD's in the overnight - 90 day market. (DISCLOSURE: I have been and will be short this stock). As the Fed tightens and the curve flattens, their margins go to shit. They did well in the free money QE world, but their game has been over for a while. They rely on credit underwriting to avoid adding defaults to the litany of woes this environment brings. In fact, taking no credit risk has been their hallmark for years. They generally don't do office or mixed use lending. That they would be making an unsecured line to Kushner is BIZARRE. ..."
"... I would be surprised if DJT is involved in anything illegal in his business. The guy knows how to bend the rules, but risking his great life to launder money for a bunch of Russians?? Just don't see it. Running for the Presidency with skeletons would be suicide, and he knows that. You don't want the antiseptic light of justice shining on the roaches if you've done something not nice. ..."
"... It may be Kushner is as dirty as they come. God knows his Dad is a piece of detritus. I know DJT as a crass vulgarian, with a genius for the common weal and leveraging off OPM. But stupid felon? Not buying it. ..."
"... Thank goodness the FBI and Justice have all the Democrat/Clinton crimes solved so they can dispense equal Justice to the Republicans ..."
Feb 28, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

The knives are out for Jared Kushner.

After losing his top secret security clearance and reportedly falling under intense scrutiny by Robert Mueller's probe, the New York Department of Financial Services has asked Deutsche Bank two local lenders for information about their dealings with Jared Kushner, the Kushner companies and his family , according to Bloomberg .

Letters were sent by department superintendent Maria Vullo to Deutsche Bank, Signature Bank and New York Community Bank last week, said a person who had seen the letter which seeks a response by March 5. Vullo was appointed by New York's Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo.

The requested information is broad, and include the banks' processes for approving loans.

Vullo requested copies of emails and other communications between the Kushners and the banks related to financing requests that have been denied or are pending. She also asked whether the banks have conducted any internal reviews of the Kushners and their companies and the results of any such inquiries revealed.

The most detailed information about the Kushners' finances can be found in their government disclosures. The couple had unsecured lines of credit of $5 million to $25 million each from Deutsche Bank, Signature Bank and New York Community Bank according to a late December filing.

Deutsche Bank's line of credit was extended to Kushner and his mother; lines from the other two banks were extended to Kushner and his father. Signature Bank also extended a secured line of credit to the couple of $1 million to $5 million, according to the disclosure. - Bloomberg

A spokeswoman for the Kushner Cos, Christine Taylor, said "We have not received a copy of any letter from the New York State Department of Financial Services," adding "Our company is a multi-billion enterprise that is extremely financially strong. Prior to our CEO voluntarily resigning to serve our country, we never had any type of inquiries. These type of inquiries appear to be harassment solely for political reasons. "

Kushner's family business, the Kushner Companies, has had longstanding financial troubles related to 666 Fifth Avenue, "the most expensive building ever purchased", in New York City.

After Kushner bought the Fifth Avenue property in late 2006 for $1.8 billion - with zero skin in the game coming from Kushner, the building came under intense pressure during the financial crisis. Vornado Realty Trust stepped in with financing in exchange for a 49.5% stake in the building, which is now carrying over $1.4 billion in debt according to a March release by Vornado.

The Kushner companies are also reportedly negotiating with Vornado to buy their stake back.

While Jared has separated himself from his family's business and placed assets in a trust, he has fallen into the crosshairs of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Of interest are discussions between Kushner and Chinese investors during the transition, according to sources familiar with the investigation. Kushner met with executives of troubled Chinese conglomerate Anbang Insurance which was recently taken over by China's insurance regulator. Talks between Kushner and Anbang's chairman, Wu Xiaohui, broke down in March 2017, according to the New York Times .

Also of interest to Mueller are Kushner's dealings with a Qatari investor over the 666 property, for which Kusher reportedly sought financing from former Prime Minister Jassim Al Thani, according to The Intercept. The discussion apparently went nowhere , similar to the Anbang deal.

Kushner in the crosshairs

Dovetailing off of the reports of Kushner's meetings to shore up his finances, the Washington Post reported this week that officials from at least four countries - China, Israel, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates have explored ways to manipulate Kushner by taking advantage of his "complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience." The story cited current and former US intelligence officials - and noted that it is unclear on whether the cited countries took any action.

Meanwhile, the presidential son-in-law's security clearance was downgraded from "Top Secret/SCI-level" to "secret" this week, walling him off from the most sensitive information.

Many had expected that Trump would grant Kushner a waiver, even though Trump himself said Friday that he would let Chief of Staff John Kelly decide if such an exception should be granted. In a statement issued last week, Kelly said that any changes to Kushner's security clearance wouldn't impact his ability to do his job:

"As I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio including overseeing our Israeli-Palestinian peace effort and serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico," Kelly said in the statement.

At the end of the day, unless Kushner or his company broke the law, it appears that this entire exercise is meant to embarrass the president's son-in-law over his troubled 666 property.


gatorengineer Wed, 02/28/2018 - 17:26 Permalink

Kushner is absolute scum, but how come he gets the treatment and not the Clinton foundation..... .yeah I know but how in your face are they going to get... wait dont answer that

NumbersUsa -> giovanni_f Wed, 02/28/2018 - 18:08 Permalink

Trump's Jewish Agenda

January 7, 2018

By CUFPa

Trump, the first US President with two Jewish children , beholden to the money power of the US establishment (i.e., Jewish money ) that supported his presidential bid (or bought the presidency for him), is making the Israeli dream of stealing Jerusalem and the whole of Palestine a reality; especially since he owes Jewish investment banks hundreds of millions of dollars, which can be easily written off the books if certain conditions are met.

"I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Trump said .

In one fell swoop, Donald Trump overturned decades of international consensus and laws. He also ignored recorded history: Jerusalem was NEVER the capital of even ancient Israel.

Furthermore, he constantly and nonchalantly overlooks the fact that Israel today is an inhumane, apartheid country that uses its carte blanche from the US to do as it pleases in the Middle East. It oppresses the Palestinians, treats them like caged animals , and spreads chaos in the region regardless of how it affects the peace of the world.

The reason is because the Jews control the Federal Reserve , the real center of power in the United States or the money power of the establishment (i.e., Jewish money ). In turn, the Fed wags every other financial institution in America, and consequently ends up being the root cause of all of America's economic ills.

Trump's Jewish Entourage

Not even Trump , who supposedly wants to "make America great again," dares mention the need to dismantle the Fed. Worse, he drools every time he talks about Apartheid Israel , not unlike every other American politician.

The anti-Christ spirit of hate thy neighbor , which revs up the engine of the state of Israel and that of its Prime Minister, seems to fire up Trump's motor as well with his loathing of immigrants , especially of his Mexican neighbors. He and Netanyahu are two peas in a pod – both arrogant, haughty, and supercilious narcissists.

"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

new game -> Consuelo Wed, 02/28/2018 - 17:52 Permalink

Back door attack. The inlaws, the sacred family structure. Eventually trump is going down.

They will stop at nothing. They already committed treasonous crimes. All the righteous types just don't get it, they are being played to heighten the drama and division.. they don't give a shit.

They are the majority within gov.org. top to bottom -- Trump is fighting a completely stacked deck of swamp cards. They have no fear of the law. Look at every step they have taken. Look at the reactions. deflection, non-action. Behind the scenes the deals have been made-they will take down Trump.

Rex Andrus -> new game Wed, 02/28/2018 - 17:59 Permalink

Drain the Beltway start at your state capitol

If any dirt is found it wasn't an issue worthy of the integrity of the FBI before Kushner gained political office. So the FBI is only discrediting their felonious selves, past and politicized, craven present.

Remember WACO. Remember Ruby Ridge. Remember 911. Remember Lynch. Remember DACA. Remember Obama stealing from Freddie and Fannie. Remember all the government assistance programs you are paying for, that you are not eligible for because of the color of your skin, that you had no say in. Nice work, FBI.

EndOfDayExit -> new game Wed, 02/28/2018 - 20:35 Permalink

Trump's example proved that it is pointless trying to go there and fight them alone. There needs to be a (new) party behind the individual, otherwise one does not stand a chance.

GoingBig ->