Friday, January 18, 2019

Today's links

. "Spoke w/ President Erdoğan of Turkey to advise where we stand on all matters including our last two weeks of success in fighting the remnants of ISIS [Daesh], and 20 mile safe zone. Also spoke about economic development between the U.S. & Turkey – great potential to substantially expand!" Trump tweeted. 

Most Americans have opposed militarily intervening in Syria. Only 20% supported bombing Damascus in 2013. Yet the one lawmaker who made concrete moves to de-escalate the war and roll back covert US support for extremist insurgents has been pilloried for taking a stand.






 1--The safe return of Syrian refugees can be provided with the formation of a safe zone, as recently agreed by Presidents Erdoğan and Trump (The case for a safe zone in syria)


The Arab Spring, the fall of regimes in the Middle East and the civil war in Syria have brought chaos and degradation of living conditions that prompted a massive inflow of migrants to Europe and created a worst refugee crisis in the world, according to the United Nations. Its disclosed data reveals that some 7 million Syrians are displaced internally today, while 5 million have found refuge in foreign countries....

Refugees in Turkey

Since 2011, Turkey has received a constant inflow of displaced Syrians fleeing conflict. Nearly half a million of them came from the areas controlled by the People's Protection Units (YPG), and half of them were Kurds. The number of refugees may well exceed 5 million by 2028, and Turkey has spent more than $32 billion from its national budget on their accommodation and integration. More than 95 percent reside in urban centers and at least 560,000 refugees are registered in Istanbul....

Nearly 500,000 Syrian children are enrolled in Turkey's public education system now, according to UNICEF, and another 230,000 study at accredited education centers providing curricula in Arabic....

According to Russian sources, more than 600,000 displaced Syrians have returned home, largely to Aleppo, starting in 2017. Around 85 percent of them moved back from temporary locations in safer parts of Syria, while the rest came from Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. Up to 1.5 million more displaced Syrians may be expected to return from abroad in the near future. The Syrian regime claims to be ready to host up to 330,000 repatriates by providing accommodation in 75 towns and settlements in the regions relatively undamaged by the hostilities. In August 2018, the Russian Defense Ministry announced a launch in Syria of a coordinating center to assist the refugees with repatriation. "If we help to those coming back home, the migration pressure on the EU countries may go down," said Russian President Vladimir Putin when meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki on July 16, 2018

Speedy return

Since March 2017, following the completion of Operation Euphrates Shield, 140,000 Syrian refugees have returned home from Turkey. Still, the mass repatriation is hardly possible without Syria's reconstruction, requiring enormous effort. By some estimates, $400 billion will be needed to rebuild postwar Syria, and the Western community is reluctant to allocate the funds before a new constitution is adopted and a democratically elected government takes office. Though both are on the international agenda, the process is slow and impeded by the still ongoing hostilities in certain parts of Syria. Still repatriation to the liberated regions continues and is about to gain increasing momentum.
In the meantime, Syria's reconstruction is hardly a priority for the U.N., which concentrates its effort on political settlement in Syria. In turn, the U.S. doesn't consider the current situation in Syria favorable for the refugees' return.

As for the EU, it's openly reluctant to help Syria with reconstruction until assurance is given that democratic elections will be held.

Russia considers the U.S. position on the refugees return "destructive," as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov mentioned last August, and sees its refusal to engage in the Syrian infrastructure reconstruction as an "attempt to impede by force the repatriation of Syrians." In the meantime, Lebanon is currently hosting more than 1.5 million refugees and supports a speedy repatriation of Syrians unconditional of the Syrian political settlement, according to its Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.

The establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria, that Erdoğan announced on Dec. 15 and as agreed upon with Trump, would further foster the refugees' return to the liberated regions, Turkey believes

2--Lindsay Graham in Turkey to discuss safe zone


His remarks came on the same day U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham had talks in Ankara with the Turkish government, including the president, foreign minister, defense minister and intelligence chief. Aksoy said the latest developments in Syria, including the issue of a safe zone will be on the agenda of the talks with the American senator.

The talks also came ahead of a crucial meeting of the Turkish and Russian presidents on the issue of Syria. Aksoy said the issue of the U.S.-proposed safe zone will also be discussed with the Russians. The issues will be among on the agenda of discussions that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will have with his Russian counterpart during a visit to Russia on Jan. 23, he added.

“Our response to the U.S. proposal of a safe zone is affirmative. I would like to state that a meeting between military officials and diplomats continue,” said the spokesperson, stressing that the safe zone Turkey supports will be a significant development for Syria.

“Of course, this is a process. Discussions on how this zone will be set up and its modalities will proceed,” he said and noted that the deputy foreign minister will convey Turkey’s views on the safe zone during a meeting of the Syria Working Group on Feb. 5 in Washington. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will participate an international meeting on the issue of ISIL in the U.S. on Feb. 6, he added.

Aksoy also stressed that the withdrawal period of the U.S. should not serve the YPG’s interests. “A new fait accompli should not happen,” he said.

The spokesperson underlined that Turkey’s determination has pushed U.S. President Donald Trump to decide to withdraw from Syria.

“Yet, we have observed a resistance in U.S. security bureaucracy against the decision of withdrawal. The dialogue between our countries is important in order to implement this decision,” said Aksoy.
Turkey won’t stop until it eradicates the terrorists from neighboring Syria, said the head of Turkey’s presidential communications on Jan. 18. “We won’t stop until we drain the terrorist swamp next door. We won’t rest until justice is served,” presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun wrote on Twitter.

“Terrorists have killed more than 2,000 innocent people in Turkey since 2015. Many of those attacks were planned in northern Syria. The Turkish people suffered more than their fair share,” Altun added. Turkey has said it will soon launch an operation in northern Syria, east of the Euphrates River, targeting the YPG. Turkey sees the YPG as the Syrian branch of the illegal PKK, which is listed as terrorist group by the U.S., Turkey and the EU.

3--Turkey, US should set up action base in Syria: Ex-CIA chief Panetta

 

Speaking about Turkey’s plan of a safe zone in Syria, he suggested: “I think that both Turkey and the U.S. have an interest in not allowing Iran, [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad and the Russians to dominate what happens in Syria. And recognizing that common goal I think the U.S. and Turkey can work together to establish safe zones in Syria not only to confront ISIS and terrorism in those areas, but also establish a base of action in order to ensure that Syria goes in the right direction.”

 Panetta said that he is very concerned about President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria, especially after the Jan. 16 attack in Manbij. “I am very concerned about any kind of precipitated withdrawal from Syria because of the ISIS threat. President Trump is very unpredictable in all of his decisions. I am sure that his defense advisers and his national security adviser will indicate that in light of this attack it would be a serious mistake to move forward with any kind of withdrawal.”

According to Panetta, there is a chaotic process in the White House especially when it comes to foreign policy decisions.

4--Lavrov--Al-Nusra occupies 70 percent of Idlib


The al-Nusra Front, a former affiliate of al-Qaeda in Syria, now occupies 70 percent of Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Jan. 18 during a press conference with his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Moscow. 

“It also worries us that in Idlib, contrary to the agreements on creating the demilitarized zone there, Jabhat al-Nusra dominates and violates the demilitarized zone. About 70 percent of this territory is already occupied by terrorists; they are trying to attack the Syrian army’s positions, settlements and they are trying to threaten our military air base in Hmeymim,” Lavrov said.

5--Talks between US, NKorea take place in Sweden


It is possible that U.S. special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun would join the meeting later, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

6--Top North Korean official in US to prepare new Trump-Kim summit

 

A senior official from North Korea is in Washington for a rare visit, during which he is expected to meet US President Donald Trump as the two countries seek to finalize a new summit aimed at denuclearization.
Kim Yong Chol, a military general and right-hand man to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, arrived Thursday in the US capital.

The North Korean negotiator abruptly canceled his last planned talks in the United States, a meeting set two months ago in New York with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Pompeo would welcome the North Korean on Friday for a meal in Washington before the two are expected to head together to the White House.

Meanwhile, high-ranking diplomats from the United States and North Korea are holding talks in Sweden, a diplomatic source told Reuters on Friday....

North Korean authorities have complained about continued US and UN sanctions on their country, calling them a “source of mistrust.” They have also denounced what they have called "gangster-like behavior" by the US.
Pyongyang says Washington has betrayed the spirit of the June’s summit by making unilateral demands on the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, while putting the sanctions in place

7--Hillary deliberately switched to her private server to evade public record under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)? No record, no crime?


"In time, historians will likely document that the Clintons and Obamas entered office in January 2009 with a grand plan to transform America's relations with key powers, especially in the Middle East," Ortel said. "This plan involved toppling national leaders in many nations by fomenting local uprisings using clandestine resources, in actions that were not likely validly authorized by Congress, as is certainly required under US laws"....

The question arises as to who benefits from "regime change" operations.
"Multinational defence contractors, investment firms, and financial institutions that happen also to be major donors to political campaigns", the investigative journalist responded...

He recalled that "for much lesser offenses involving mishandling classified information, numerous government employees and contractors have suffered jail sentences and other penalties, ruining many careers".
"Yet, the Clintons, the Obamas, and the Bushes seem impervious to serious inquiry," according to the Wall Street analyst.

The financial experts, who have been conducting a private inquiry into the charity both nationally and internationally for the last two years, came to the conclusion that "the foundation was not a charitable organization per se, but in point of fact was a closely held family partnership."
The Clinton Foundation "began acting as an agent of foreign governments 'early in its life' and throughout its existence," Moynihan insisted, adding that as such, the organization should have been registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

8--Tucker Carlson: When Did Democrats Become The Party Of Bill Kristol And Other Discredited Neocon Hacks?

 

Whatever happened to the Democratic Party? When did the anti-war people become florid neocons? When did it become the party of Bill Kristol and Max Boot and every other discredited hack still trying to replicate the Iraq disaster around the world? Who knows? But it is now. Ask Tulsi Gabbard. Gabbard is a Democratic member of Congress who’s running for President. On most questions she’s a conventional liberal. She represents Hawaii after all. But on the question of Syria she’s skeptical. Gabbard isn’t eager to overthrow the Assad government. She worries about what might come next, and what might happen to the Christians and other religious minorities who live there. For this position she’s being denounced by the left as a monster.  


9--Ohr’s Testimony: Is It Enough To Launch DOJ Investigation Into FISA Abuse?



Former senior FBI and DOJ officials could find themselves at the center of a criminal investigation after bombshell testimony from a DOJ official revealed they knew a former British spy’s dossier was not vetted but still used it as evidence to obtain a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign aide.

DOJ official Bruce Ohr revealed last August in closed-door congressional testimony that he had informed three top senior Justice Department and FBI officials in the summer of 2016 about his meetings with former British spy Christopher Steele. Ohr told these officials about Steele’s animus toward Trump and that the dossier was not verified. Further, he informed the officials that he was also in communication with Glenn Simpson, the founder of embattled research firm Fusion GPS.

The FBI and DOJ also knew Simpson’s firm was paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to investigate Trump, according to Ohr. The bureau also knew that Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, was working for Simpson.
This means, Ohr informed these senior officials well before the FBI sought the October, 2016 FISA warrant to spy on former Trump advisor Carter Page. Ohr’s testimony was reviewed by SaraACarter.com and vetted by sources that could verify its accuracy.

10-- The US political crisis reaches fever pitch--Today's "must read"

 

The political battle within the US ruling elite is reaching a new peak of intensity, with an ongoing media campaign portraying Trump as a Russian agent, Democratic Party demands to cancel the State of the Union address, and Trump’s response Thursday afternoon, blocking a planned foreign trip by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that would have included a visit to US troops in Afghanistan.

While the anti-Russian campaign against Trump escalates, spearheaded by the New York Times and the Washington Post, with nearly daily “exposés” depicting Trump as a puppet of Vladimir Putin, Trump answered with a fascistic rant against the supposed “radical left” takeover of the Democratic Party, delivered to a military audience at the Pentagon. “The party has been hijacked by the open borders fringe,” he claimed.

The mutual vilification takes place under conditions of a partial shutdown of the federal government that will reach the one-month mark next Tuesday, with 800,000 federal workers going without paychecks. More than 300,000 are furloughed and nearly 500,000 are forced to work without pay...

Both the failure of its long-term geopolitical strategy and the emergence of working class opposition at home have profoundly disoriented the American ruling elite. In the wake of US failures abroad, bitter recriminations have led to the hunt for scapegoats. The question of “Who lost China?” played a major role in the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950s. The new McCarthyism of the Democratic Party poses the question “Who lost Syria?..

11--Report to Davos meeting points to deepening contradictions of global capitalism





Thursday, January 17, 2019

Today's Links

"Even if they do not lead to catastrophic war, diverting domestic discontent into external hostility very rarely works, because of course the factors that created the discontent remain unchanged. Does anyone who has interviewed the “Yellow Vests” in France seriously think that they are acting as they do because of manipulation from Moscow? Does anyone who has seriously studied the crisis of the white working classes in the USA (Robert Putnam or Thomas Frank, for example) write that the reason that they have voted for Trump is because they have been swayed by Russian propaganda?"  Repeating the Mistakes of 1914?,  Anatol Lieven





1--Press TV anchor Marzieh Hashemi jailed in US on unspecified charges

 

2--Was Trump's threat of “economic devastation” a greenlight to Turkey?

 

As for the troop withdrawal, no US soldiers have been pulled out of Syria and there is no timetable for their departure, with the Pentagon insisting that it will be based on conditions on the ground. At most, some of the vast amounts of military hardware brought into Syria has been shipped out, and a few of the dozens of bases established by the US military on Syrian territory have been evacuated.

Manbij, the site of the blast that killed the American soldiers, is becoming an increasingly volatile flashpoint in the protracted conflict resulting from the regime change operation launched by Washington and its regional allies in 2011 with the aim of using CIA-funded and armed Al Qaeda-connected militias to topple the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

While this effort failed, with Syrian government forces backed by Iran and Russia retaking 60 percent of the country and the vast majority of its major population centers, Washington has continued its intervention with the deployment of thousands of US special forces troops in northeastern Syria, ostensibly to combat ISIS, and the recruitment of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia as its proxy ground force.

With Trump’s announcement of the US withdrawal, Turkey has threatened to intervene to drive out the Kurdish militia from Manbij, which is on the west bank of the Euphrates, as well as the rest of the Syrian-Turkish border area to the east. Ankara regards the YPG as a branch of the Turkish Kurdish separatist movement, the PKK, which it brands as “terrorist” and against which it has fought a bloody counterinsurgency campaign for the last 35 years.

Turkish troops and armor have been mobilized on the border, 20 miles north of Manbij, and fighters of a Turkish Islamist militia have been deployed near the city for a possible assault.

Trump issued a statement over the weekend warning that Turkey would face “economic devastation” if it were to attack the Pentagon’s Kurdish proxies.

While the Erdogan government condemned the statement, the Turkish president followed it up with a phone conversation with Trump on Monday, which apparently centered upon Trump’s off-hand suggestion that a “security zone” could be set up, carving out a 20-mile swath of Syrian territory along the border with Turkey. Erdogan jumped on the proposal, insisting that Turkey could set up the zone.

The Syrian government denounced Turkey’s proposal as the “language of occupation and aggression.”

The Kurdish YPG, meanwhile, has asked the Syrian government to intervene with its forces to protect against the threat of a Turkish invasion, and has initiated talks with Moscow on a proposal to reach an accommodation with Damascus.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared on Wednesday that the territories on Syria’s northern border must be placed under control of the Syrian government. “We are convinced that the best and only solution is the transfer of these territories under the control of the Syrian government, and of Syrian security forces and administrative structures,” Lavrov said

3--Backpeddling Corbyn fails to rally support on Brexit mess


Theresa May’s government survived a no-confidence vote Wednesday night brought by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. MPs voted by 325 to 306 with all 314 MPs of her divided Conservative Party voting to keep the government in office. They were joined by the 10 MPs of the Democratic Unionist Party and an independent unionist.

All the opposition parties—Labour, Scottish National Party, Liberal Democrats and Green voted against the government. But the most striking aspect of the evening is how May, her hard-Brexit Environment Secretary Michael Gove and other Tories were able to utilise the naked hostility of the Blairites to their own leader, and barely concealed opposition to a general election, to frame the debate as a vote of no confidence in Corbyn....

The Blairites were only ever supportive of a no-confidence vote in May so that its defeat would clear the decks for pressuring Corbyn to openly support their demand for a second “People’s Vote” referendum to reverse Brexit.

How eager they are to keep May in office was broadcast by DUP Parliamentary leader Nigel Dodds ahead of the vote, when he told parliament, "I've been struck by how many honourable members since yesterday evening have been fairly assiduous that I and my honourable friends should be present for this debate to speak and to vote later in the lobbies in support of the government and to prevent a general election… And indeed, some of these entreaties have even come from the Government's side of the House!”...

Corbyn and McDonnell have spent months seeking to convince big business that Labour offers a way out of the “Brexit impasse”—either by negotiating a Brexit deal guaranteeing tariff-free access to the EU Single Market, or by supporting a second referendum. McDonnell pre-empted the entire Brexit debate by issuing a blueprint for Labour’s economic policy promising “no surprises” for taxpayers or business, “firm discipline” on budgets and an “unprecedented” level of openness to win the confidence of the City.
However, Corbyn does not command the loyalty of his MPs, many of whom are already in discussions with May, other sections of the Tories, or the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats in what could lead to a political realignment including a split away from Labour....

The full implications of Corbyn’s constant retreats before the Blairites as they frame Labour’s real policy and programme according to the dictates of the ruling class is becoming clear for all to see.

Corbyn’s pseudo-left apologists all portray him as a lone warrior, who must now mobilise the Labour Party and the trade unions to get rid of the Tories—with the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party both speaking of putting the sclerotic, pro-business bureaucracies on a “war-footing.” But workers and young people who have backed Corbyn based on his promise of an anti-austerity, anti-war government face the reality of how his suppression of the class struggle is the key to enabling the Tories to continue in office.

This was acknowledged by none other than the ageing Thatcherite, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who praised Tuesday’s vote on May’s Brexit deal as an example of “parliament taking control. No riots, no yellow vests, no water cannon, no 'call in the army'… You compare that to Paris in the last couple of weeks.”

4--Caitlin Johnstone on Tulsi Gabbard


Tulsi Gabbard will definitely be the most antiwar candidate on the debate stage by a wide margin, except in the highly unlikely event that someone steps up from way out of left field to run like Dennis Kucinich. Being the most antiwar candidate in anything associated with the Democratic Party is a very low bar, but her vocal positions on SyriaIranYemenRussiaNorth KoreaAfghanistanGaza, and previous US regime change interventions set her so far from the establishment orthodoxy that she’ll look as different from the other candidates as Ron Paul looked on the Republican debate stage....

Gabbard’s progressive positions on issues like Medicare for Allenvironmentalism$15 minimum wageWall Street accountability, the failed war on drugsmarijuana legalizationcriminal justice reform and indigenous water rights will also set her further to the left on domestic policy than anyone on the debate stage besides Sanders should he run

5--A Turkish 'Security Zone' In Northeast Syria Is A Bad Idea

 

Russia will not allow Turkish control of more Syrian land:

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday the Syrian regime must take control of the country's north, after calls from the United States to set up a Turkish-controlled "security zone" in the area. "We are convinced that the best and only solution is the transfer of these territories under the control of the Syrian government, and of Syrian security forces and administrative structures," Lavrov told reporters.
The Kurdish organizations and the Syrian government also also reject the Turkish plan:
“Syria affirms that any attempt to target its unity will be considered as a clear aggression and an occupation of its territories as well as a support and protection for the international terrorism by Turkey,” [an official source at Foreign and Expatriates Ministry] said.

6--FISA shocker: DOJ official (Bruce Ohr) warned Steele dossier was connected to Clinton, might be biased

 

When the annals of mistakes and abuses in the FBI’s Russia investigation are finally written, Bruce Ohr almost certainly will be the No. 1 witness, according to my sources

The then-No. 4 Department of Justice (DOJ) official briefed both senior FBI and DOJ officials in summer 2016 about Christopher Steele’s Russia dossier, explicitly cautioning that the British intelligence operative’s work was opposition research connected to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and might be biased.

7--'Getting along with Russia is a good thing,' says Trump, you tube 


8--Safe zone talks


Discussions between Turkey and the U.S. will unfold whether the perceptions of the two countries regarding the safe zone in Syria are overlapping, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 17.
“The first talk about that was held between our Chief of Staff General Yaşar Güler and [his U.S. counterpart] Joseph Dunford yesterday in Brussels,” the minister, said speaking at a joint press conference with his Macedonian counterpart.

The proposed safe zone is important both for the country’s stability and displaced Syrians’ return home, he noted.
“A safe zone in northern Syria is important for stability, the return home of Syrians including our Kurdish brothers, and the fight against terrorism,” he stated.

 


 9--Turkey-US cooperation key for the stabilization of Syria



a month ago, Turkey was planning to launch a major operation to clear its border of terror groups. Turkey did it twice in the last two years in Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch. The U.S. administration's statements of "concerns" did not resonate well in Turkey, especially after the announcement of border protection forces by the Pentagon. The lack of trust between Turkey and the U.S. in regards to the U.S. failure to fulfill its promises in Manbij deteriorated after these statements. 

While the Turkish government was expressing its intention to launch another operation in Manbij against terrorist forces, the U.S. administration decided to agree on a road map in Manbij that would respond to Turkey's national security concerns.

However, the implementation of the plan was delayed. When the road map started to be implemented, another statement from the U.S. military came in regards to building observation posts along the border. This demonstrated not only the continuation of relations between the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the U.S. after the end of the operations against Daesh but also it would generate a condition that the YPG could control areas immediately south of the Turkish border.


10--Dual containment isn't a workable plan in Syria


Washington's misguided decision to serve the narrowly-defined interests of Israel and the Gulf states in the name of containing Iran wasn't a great idea either. That choice will entail violence and destruction as opposed to law and order. Ironically enough, Pompeo fails to understand the region and repeats Obama's mistakes.

The Washington-backed bloc, comprised of Israel, the Gulf and Egypt, calls for dual containment. They want the U.S. to directly and aggressively contain Iran's influence. At the same time, they demand an indirect and unofficial containment on the Turks
https://www.dailysabah.com/columns/duran-burhanettin/2019/01/14/dual-containment-isnt-a-workable-plan-in-syria


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Today's Links

"The Republic of Turkey is the protector, not the enemy, of the Kurds. Turkey has no argument with the Kurds. Our problem is with the terrorist organization PKK and its extensions in Syria."

 Fahrettin Altun,  Erdoğan's Communications Director,

 

  The person elected by the U.S. electorate to make foreign policy for the United States and to determine “America’s interests” was Donald Trump, not the FBI. It’s the role of elected officials in the White House and Congress, not the unelected police agents who report to them, to decide what is and is not in “America’s interests.”  Glenn Greenwald


However much you dislike the status quo, you'd much rather live in a country where elected branches are a check on the national security establishment than the other way around.



 

1--Map: Turkish-proposed Safe Zone East Of Euphrates In Northern Syria

 

On Tuesday morning, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that a 32-kilometer deep safe zone was going to be established in northern Syria. According to Anadolu Agency’s map measurement, the safe zone will have a 460-kilometer (286-mile) long presence along the Turkish-Syrian border.

 

2--Turkey to set up safe zone in Syria: Erdoğan

 

On Jan. 15, Erdoğan said Turkey is considering Trump’s safe zone proposal as a positive one but also recalled that Turkey’s earlier attempts to realize such a measure was rejected by the Obama administration.
“We had suggested securing the ground if the U.S. would provide aerial protection. [Barack] Obama did not take the necessary steps on it although he was in favor of it,” he said....

On Jan. 15, Erdoğan said Turkey is considering Trump’s safe zone proposal as a positive one but also recalled that Turkey’s earlier attempts to realize such a measure was rejected by the Obama administration.
“We had suggested securing the ground if the U.S. would provide aerial protection. [Barack] Obama did not take the necessary steps on it although he was in favor of it,” he said.

Meeting with Putin on Jan 23

Erdoğan stressed that his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin would take place on Jan. 23 under the Astana Process format that includes Iran as well. Idlib is also another issue that Turkey is closely following with Russia and Iran, Erdoğan stated. “God willing, we will resolve all the troubles and we will turn Idlib into a place of comfort and trust like the other provinces we are supporting.”

3--Recent history of US-Turkish relations


The Turkish Parliament’s refusal in allowing the U.S. to use the Turkish territories in a bid to attack Iraq’s Saddam Hussein regime in early 2003 had constituted a first major blow on Ankara-Washington ties after Erdoğan came to power. That followed the infamous “hood incident” in which a group of Turkish military personnel was captured and interrogated by the American contingent in northern Iraq in mid-2003. But it was the same Bush administration which granted to provide real-time intelligence to Turkey in its fight against the PKK in 2007, a move that helped the two allies build confidence...

The second four-year term of Obama, however, witnessed a drastic change in his ties with Erdoğan. First, it was because of Obama’s decision not to attack the Syrian regime mid-2013, despite being proven that Damascus had used chemical weapons against opposition groups. Obama’s hesitancy allowed other powers like Iran and Russia to intervene in Syria, which nixed global efforts to topple Bashar al-Assad, Ankara believes.

The second reason was Obama’s decision to partner with the YPG in fighting against ISIL in Syria. That’s why Erdoğan still blames the former president over the course of developments in this country. The third reason was the Obama administration’s harsh reactions on the Turkish government’s handling of the Gezi Protests in mid-2013, which kicked off a new, but a bad page on bilateral ties.

The last two years of Obama’s rule observed almost no genuine communication between the two countries. That’s why Trump’s election in the U.S. has been seriously welcomed in Turkey with expectations that this businessman-turned-politician would pragmatically resolve all pending issues between the two countries, especially on Fethullah Gülen’s extradition and Syria policies..

The last two years of Obama’s rule observed almost no genuine communication between the two countries. That’s why Trump’s election in the U.S. has been seriously welcomed in Turkey with expectations that this businessman-turned-politician would pragmatically resolve all pending issues between the two countries, especially on Fethullah Gülen’s extradition and Syria policies.

It was soon realized in Ankara that these expectations were a result of a wrong analysis. Trump also signed a decree to officially supply the YPG with weapons in a bid to follow Obama’s policy in Syria. On the bilateral front, he sanctioned Turkey for the continued imprisonment of pastor Andrew Brunson in mid-2018, giving a huge blow to bilateral ties, as well as on the Turkish economy. He has once again proven that he can be really dangerous with his undiplomatic, unpredictable and disrespectful manners.

Therefore, his latest tweet threatening Turkey to devastate its economy should its troops attack Kurds has been assessed by Ankara in the light of lessons taken from earlier crises.

The fact that Trump is a leader capable in negotiating under any circumstances has pushed the Turkish officials to adopt a soft stance, because, while Trump was threatening Turkey, he was at the same time suggesting a solution to the question by revisiting the buffer zone formula.

Erdoğan made clear that Turkey regards this proposal as a positive one worth further elaborating on its modalities, while at the same time reducing his tone over a prospected unilateral Turkish military action into Syria. After all, it seems the Turkish government is now better experienced in dealing with Trump.

4--Russia to consider Turkish interests on regime-controlled safe zone in Syria


Turkey said on Jan. 15 it would set up the "security zone" in northern Syria following a suggestion from President Donald Trump, who announced last month he was pulling American troops from the country.  
Russia will consider the interests of all parties, Syria’s neighbors, including Turkey regarding the safe zone, Lavrov said on Jan. 16...

"We welcome and support contacts that have now begun between Kurdish representatives and Syrian authorities so they can return to their lives under a single government without outside interference," Lavrov said during an annual press conference.
  
He said there was progress in resolving Syria’s seven-year conflict and that the focus should remain on Idlib, the northwestern province that earlier this month fell under the full control of a jihadist group dominated by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.  
"The Syrian settlement is progressing, though of course more slowly than we would like," he said. "The fight against terrorism must be completed. Now the main hotbed of terrorism is Idlib."

5--My Spiritual Journey, Tulsi Gabbard

6--Did Trump agree to Erdogan's safe zone proposal??

 

President Donald Trump took to Twitter earlier this week to negotiate with Turkey in his own crude way. The United States "will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds," Trump tweeted. Followed by his thinly-veiled attempt to appease the designated terrorist organization PKK's Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG), was an offer to create a "20 mile safe zone" along the Turkish-Syrian border. 

Yet Trump also delivered a message to Ankara that John Bolton, his national security adviser, and other members of his administration failed to pass on to the Turkish leadership. As a matter of fact, the YPG militants and their sponsors in Washington were probably unsettled by that proposal. I cannot imagine that Trump's critics, who have urged him to cooperate with Russia and the Assad regime instead of Turkey, were thrilled either.

If Trump actually meant what he said, the White House just offered to place a large chunk of Syrian territory, covering the YPG-controlled M4 highway and several residential areas along the border, including Ayn al-Arab, Tal Abyad, Rasul Ayn and Jazira, under Turkey's control. All the tough talk is nothing but Trump is being Trump – and throwing a bone to the YPG's international supporters. Despite threatening economic sanctions against the Turks, the U.S. president remains committed to withdrawing from Syria and working together with Turkey....

The Turkish readout of Monday's phone call also stated that Erdoğan and Trump "exchanged views on the creation of a terror-free safe zone in Northern Syria on the basis of Syria's territorial integrity." Given the difficulty of seizing control of the entire YPG-controlled area in a heartbeat and the eagerness of Russia and Iran to fill the post-American power vacuum, the negotiations between Ankara and Washington are critically important. Turkey could focus on the timing of its counter-YPG operation and possibly accomplish its mission gradually. Going forward, it would make more sense to concentrate on the content of Trump's tweets rather than his language – to which Turkish diplomats have responded already.

7--The U.S. has been playing a lose-lose game in Syria


The U.S. has been playing a lose-lose game in Syria. There will be no winner in the Syrian crisis. Continuation of political instability and chaos in the country will only produce more terrorists, migrants and humanitarian crises, all of which will negatively affect Western countries, neighboring countries and Europeans the most. In conclusion, the U.S. does not have a policy of conflict management, and regional countries' and the international community's concern about American uncertainty has reached a new high

8--Democrats Turn On Obama's "Establishment" Legacy As 2020 Approaches


The financialization of the economy kept increasing. Student debt kept exploding. Trade policy kept its same priorities. Opioid addiction kept spreading. Suicide numbers kept rising. Disparities in life expectancy between rich and poor kept widening. Union membership kept declining. Illegal border-crossers kept coming. Our defense commitments kept growing. In towns like Jasper, Indiana, and Mebane, North Carolina, factory workers—a hundred here, a couple of hundred there—kept losing their middle-class jobs, outcompeted by giant Chinese mills with appalling conditions. -Vanity Fair

Towards the end of his article, Frank points out a staggering statistic by left-leaning author John B. Judis' book The Nationalist Revival: 3.4 million jobs were lost to the growth of trade with China since 2001, when China joined the World Trade Organization. For many of those "forgotten Americans" whose jobs went overseas, Obama's last State of the Union address boasting about America's robust manufacturing surge was a slap in the face. Just as insulting was his vision of making "change work for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to the next frontier, to more people."
Even Bill Clinton made the observation of Obama that "millions of people look at that pretty picture of America he painted and they cannot find themselves in it."...

 Tucker Carlson’s recent monologue attacking our ruling class and its quest to “make the world safe for banking.” Much of it could have been delivered by Bernie Sanders.)  In short, Obama spent eight years "deferring a radical disruption" that the country was absolutely waiting for. And then Trump - an actual radical, came along and took the Oval Office away from the establishment

9--Tucker Carlson monologu


10--Jayzuz--even Hannity is closer to the truth then the Dems


The FBI should never be in the business of investigating political differences or policy decisions. They shouldn't be lashing out because of personal opinions that they have. The 99 percent of FBI field agents of rank-and-file do their jobs. They investigate crimes and criminals. Not politics, not policy, and especially not launching a counterintelligence investigation into a duly elected president with zero evidence because you don't like him...

 

James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Sally Yates, Rod Rosenstein all likely committed fraud on a FISA court by presenting Hillary Clinton's dirty dossier as unbiased, verified evidence, when reality, it was never verified, never corroborated and full of Russian lies. And they never told the courts that it was bought and paid for by Hillary Clinton....

 

he theft and leaking of government documents. Now, Jim Comey obviously committed a serious crime when he intentionally leaked his FBI memos about his conversations with the president. It's important to also look at abuse of power charges that would be applied to many of the same names: Comey, McCabe, Strzok, all fired. Lisa Page, resigned and shamed. Bruce Ohr, demoted twice - he should have been fired. All using their high positions in our federal government to persecute those they disagreed with politically. All trying to get Hillary Clinton get elected and then having an insurance policy, and a media leak strategy if, in fact, Donald Trump did win....

 

the DOJ also will need to tackle the unauthorized leaks. We now know that James Baker is already facing a criminal investigation over this charge. But so, too are we going to look at John Brennan and James Clapper? What about Susan Rice? And what about Samantha Powers? Shouldn't they be investigated over the massive amount of names that they unmasked while serving in the final year of the Obama administration?

 

11--The New York Times Smears Trump



The Donald has been on a red hot twitter rampage, and he's completely justified. Actually, we didn't think the Russian Collusion Hoax could get any stupider until we saw the New York Times' Friday evening bushwhack.

The trio of authors, apparently self-tortured victims of the Trump Derangement Syndrome, actually had the gall to print a story in the once and former Gray Lady of journalistic rectitude which was nothing more than an ugly smear on the sitting President of the United States—one that would have done Joe McCarthy proud:

In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as FBI director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.

It doesn't get lower than that.

12--Glenn Greewald--The FBI Has a Long History of Investigating Elected Officials Who Want Peace With Russia as 'National Security Threats'


...the most notable case was the Hoover-led FBI’s lengthy counterintelligence investigation of the progressive Henry Wallace, both when he served in multiple cabinet positions in the Franklin Roosevelt administration and then as FDR’s elected Vice President. The FBI long suspected that Wallace harbored allegiances to the Kremlin and used his government positions to undermine what the FBI determined were “U.S. interests” for the benefit of Moscow and, as a result, subjected Wallace to extensive investigation and surveillance.

Wallace was regarded by the FBI as having suspect loyalties because, as Vice President, he repeatedly insisted that the threat posed by Moscow was being exaggerated. He often accused the U.S. Government of disseminating propaganda about Russian leaders. He urged less belligerent and more cooperative relations with the Russian government. He opposed efforts to confront Russian influence it its own region.

And, because of these pro-peace beliefs, Wallace frequently ended up on the same side as the Kremlin when it came to foreign policy disputes. That Wallace was frequently critical of the oppression of Russian leader Josef Stalin made little difference: his dissent from prevailing U.S. foreign policy orthodoxy on how to deal with Russia made him suspect in the eyes of the FBI as a possible “national security threat,” a witting or unwitting Kremlin stooge or even as a traitor.

What particularly infuriated Hoover and other Russia hawks was a 1946 speech Wallace gave criticizing U.S. belligerence toward Moscow, while urging better relations. As the hawkish Truman ramped up hostilities toward Russia, Wallace delivered a speech in Madison Square Garden entitled “The Way to Peace,” vehemently criticizing this militaristic and aggressive approach, a speech that caused Truman to force Wallace’s resignation one week later and which intensified FBI suspicions that Wallace was a Kremlin tool (emphasis added):

....To prevent war and insure our survival in a stable world, it is essential that we look abroad through our own American eyes and not through the eyes of either the British Foreign Office or a pro-British or anti-Russian press. . . . We must not let our Russian policy be guided or influenced by those inside or outside the United States who want war with Russia. . .

I believe that peace – the kind of a peace I have outlined tonight – is the basic issue, both in the congressional campaign this fall and right on through the presidential election in 1948. How we meet this issue will determine whether we live not in “one world” or “two worlds” – but whether we live at all....

That the FBI conducted an extensive counterintelligence investigation of Wallace was unknown until 1983 – eighteen years after his death. Citing reporting by the Des Moines Register, the New York Times explained that “Wallace was watched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation while he was Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt and Secretary of Commerce for Harry S. Truman, and also in his 1948 run for the Presidency” and that “the bureau opened Wallace’s mail, tapped his supporters’ telephones and used informers and agents to trail him in search of ”possible Communist or pro-Soviet ties.'” ..

Even decades later, the FBI still refuses to release all of its investigative files on Wallace; as FOIA warrior Emma Best noted last night, the FBI “is still fighting to not release the files.” But many of the files are now declassified and online, and one can read the voluminous tracking by FBI agents of Wallace’s movements during the time he was the elected Vice President of the United States – all because his dissenting, pro-peace views on Russia made his patriotism suspect in the eyes of Hoover and his agents

For decades, the FBI also maintained a massive dossier on long-time liberal Senator and 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern – first because he was suspected of Kremlin sympathies and then because he was a critic of the FBI. Among other things, the FBI, while relentlessly tracking his life, discovered that McGovern had fathered a child out of wedlock, and in the words of USA Today, “somehow, the material ended up with President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign – possibly leaked by the bureau’s longtime director, J. Edgar Hoover.”

IT IS NOT DIFFICULT to understand what is so ominous and even tyrannical about the FBI investigating domestic political figures whose loyalties they regard as “suspicious,” and whose political career they regard as a “national security threat,” simply because those politicians express policy positions about U.S. adversaries that the FBI dislikes or regards as insufficiently belligerent....

t should not be difficult for a rational brain free of partisan muck to see this same principle at play when it comes to the FBI’s investigation of Trump on the ground that he may be, in the eyes of FBI officials, a “national security threat.” Even if you’re someone who hates Trump’s overtures toward Russia or even believes that they are the by-product of excessive subservience to the Kremlin, the dangers of having the FBI take on the role of investigating that rather than the political wings of the U.S. political system should be obvious – as obvious as they are in the case of Henry Wallace and George McGovern....

The NYT notes that among the events that prompted the investigation were that Trump “refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail,” that the GOP “softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia,” and that Trump decided to fire the FBI’s director, Jim Comey....

The person elected by the U.S. electorate to make foreign policy for the United States and to determine “America’s interests” was Donald Trump, not the FBI. It’s the role of elected officials in the White House and Congress, not the unelected police agents who report to them, to decide what is and is not in “America’s interests.”

If Trump’s foreign policy is misguided or “threatening,” that’s a matter for the Congress and/or the American public, not the FBI. However “threatening” one regards Trump’s foreign policy relating to Russia, the FBI’s abuse of its powers to investigate an elected official due to disagreement with his ideology or foreign policy views is at least as dangerous, if not more so, and the fact that those policy disagreements are characterized as “national security threats” does not make those actions any less threatening or abusive – whether for Trump, Henry Wallace or George McGovern...

One danger in the what the FBI apparently did is that it implies that the unelected domestic intelligence bureaucracy holds itself as the ultimate arbiter—over and above the elected president who is the constitutional face of U.S. intelligence and national security authority—about what actions do and don’t serve the national security interests of the United States. It further suggests that the FBI claims the authority to take this step on the basis of the president’s exercise of another clear presidential prerogative—the firing of the FBI director in connection with the Russia investigation, which the Times says was the final predicate for the FBI’s action. . . .
 
 The core attribute of a Deep State is, to use Goldsmith’s words for what may have happened here, an “unelected domestic intelligence bureaucracy holds itself as the ultimate arbiter—over and above the elected president who is the constitutional face of U.S. intelligence and national security authority—about what actions do and don’t serve the national security interests of the United States.” Such a state of affairs is at least as dangerous for U.S. democracy as anything Trump is doing with Russia.

13--As support grows to extend Los Angeles teacher strike, unions colluding with Democrats to end walkout


Los Angeles teachers are not fighting a local fight. They are confronting powerful financial and political forces, including the Eli Broad Foundation, that are conducting a nation-wide conspiracy, with the backing of both corporate-controlled parties, to dismantle and privatize public education. That is why LA teachers cannot fight this battle alone....

To expand the strike and mobilize teachers and other workers across California, the US and internationally, teachers must take the conduct of the struggle out of the hands of the UTLA and the national teacher unions, which are allied with the very same Democratic Party politicians that have waged a decades-long war on public education in California and across the US...

When it comes to strengthening the fight of LA teachers, the empty statements of support from these Democratic politicians add up to nothing. The Democratic Party exercises complete control over every level of government in Los Angeles and the state of California. No matter how many phony statements Sanders, Warren & Co. make about “progressive” Democrats, the fact is that their party has overseen the dismantling of public education in California. LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner is a Democrat and former official in the Clinton administration, and the Obama administration and his education secretary, Arne Duncan, spearheaded the assault on teachers and oversaw a vast expansion of charter schools....

the UTLA is seeking to see what role it can play in Beutner’s plan to “reorganize” the school district, and if the union can get greater access to the charter schools so it can get these miserably exploited teachers to pay union dues. This is the same role that the unions have played nationally, exemplified by the AFT’s slogan, “school reform with us, not against us.”

 

14--The American media revives the methods of McCarthyism


In other words, virtually any action Trump takes in his conflict with the military-intelligence apparatus or the Democratic Party is cited as proof that he is a Russian stooge...

The resort to anti-democratic and conspiratorial methods by Trump’s opponents within the US ruling elite demonstrates that they are not genuinely hostile to his right-wing, authoritarian policies—the persecution of immigrants, the brazen racism, the militaristic bluster—but rather seek to substitute their own equally right-wing and equally authoritarian perspective, including massive censorship of the internet and stepped-up US military intervention in Syria, Ukraine and other areas along the borders of Russia.


15--The global class struggle in 2019

 

what is motivating these struggles is not merely one or another workplace issue. They are animated by deep and growing anger over the massive growth of social inequality and are coming into increasingly direct conflict with the capitalist system itself. The logic of these struggles, therefore, is bringing workers into conflict with the entire political apparatus of the ruling class.

 

16--It is worse than a crime. It is a blunder."

 

In this case what was evidently agreed to by the duopoly of Trump/Erdogan was the effective extension of Turkish authority into a wide band of Syrian sovereign territory.

 

17--Apparently, the FBI, and not the CIA, are the real government

 

The FBI actually IMO has no legal right whatever to investigate the president.  He is the constitutionally elected commander of the FBI.  Does one investigate one's commander?  No....

According to these transcripts of congressional testimony by some of the participants, the FBI decided all by itself after Comey was fired to consider acting against Trump by pursuing him for suspicion of conspiracy with Russia to give the Russians the president of the US that they supposedly wanted.  Part of the discussions among senior FBI people had to do with whether or not the president had the legal authority to remove from office an FBI Director.  Say what?  Where have these dummies been all their careers? Do they not teach anything about this at the FBI Academy?  The US Army lectures its officers at every level of schooling on the subject of the constitutional and legal basis and limits of their authority....

Following these seditious and IMO illegal discussions the FBI and Sessions/Rosenstein's Justice Department sought FISA Court warrants for surveillance against associates of Trump and members of his campaign for president.  Their application for warrants were largely based on unsubstantiated "opposition research" funded by the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign.  The judge who approved the warrants was not informed of the nature of the evidence.  These warrants provided an authority for surveillance of the Trump campaign.
4.  IMO this collection of actions when added to whatever Clapper, Brennan and "the lads" of the Deep State were doing with the British intelligence services amount to an attempted "soft coup" against the constitution and from the continued stonewalling of the FBI and DoJ the coup is ongoing.

18--Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go


New York Times reports that “[i]n the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.”
That’s an interesting way of putting it, but let’s try another:
Enraged at the firing of their director, and suspecting the firing might portend a threat to their place and power in the American political establishment, FBI officials went to war with the president of the United States. They redirected taxpayer money and government resources away from anything resembling a legitimate law enforcement mission, putting themselves instead to the task of drumming up a specious case that said president is an agent of a foreign power.

Trump is no Martin Luther King, Jr., but he’s certainly disruptive. That, not some cockamamie theory about a Russian mole in the White House, explains the FBI’s declaration of war on his presidency.
Almost exactly a year ago — after the FBI officials got caught destroying evidence in a  probe of its investigations of Trump and of Hillary Clinton — I suggested that the time has come to abolish the Bureau.  This latest news confirms that judgment. The FBI guards its own power, not our freedoms. It’s just too dangerous to keep around any longer.

19--Glenn Greenwald on the Trashing of Tulsi Gabbard

 

20--FBI interview makes big news — so why is it still secret?

 

 Baker is the subject of a criminal leak investigation. ...Release of the full transcripts could shed new light on the FBI's use of the Trump dossier in the Russia probe. But they remain secret

The Baker excerpt, revealing the criminal investigation, is a new and important part of the story of the FBI's handling of the Trump-Russia investigation. Release of the full transcripts could shed new light on the FBI's use of the Trump dossier in the Russia probe. But they remain secret — and it is the FBI that has the final word on whether and when to allow the release of information that is unflattering to the FBI.

The second big story that came in part from the Baker transcript was the New York Times piece last Friday headlined, "FBI Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia."...

Not long after, CNN published an article, "Transcripts detail how FBI debated whether Trump was 'following directions' of Russia." CNN quoted significant portions of the Baker transcripts, in which Baker said the FBI wanted to know if Trump "was acting at the behest of and somehow following directions, somehow executing [Russia's] will."

"That was one extreme. The other extreme is that the president is completely innocent, and we discussed that too," Baker said in the secret transcripts, according to CNN. "There's a range of things this could possibly be. We need to investigate, because we don't know whether, you know, the worst-case scenario is possibly true or the president is totally innocent and we need to get this thing over with — and so he can move forward with his agenda."...

the Baker transcripts have made a lot of news. They might have other news in them, or they might provide important context, but the public doesn't know what that might be. So far, the public has had to depend on what portions of the transcripts that CNN, the New York Times, and Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows find newsworthy. And all because the FBI has decided to keep its secret secret for as long as it can.

Republicans suspect they are being slow-walked as the FBI tries to protect its image. "Unfortunately, the delay may relate to a lack of eagerness by the FBI to confirm yet another investigation into official misconduct, or perhaps criminal behavior, by another one of the FBI's top officials," Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, a key investigator, said in a text exchange. 

GOP lawmakers spent two years in a frustrating attempt to pull information out of the FBI as the House probed important aspects of the Trump-Russia investigation. And that was when Republicans were in the majority. Now, with the GOP in the minority, it has little clout to push the FBI to reveal secrets it should have revealed by now.

21--GOP soft on Russia?? What really happened with the GOP platform and Russia

 

22--The Trump-Russia Scam - How Obama Enabled The FBI To Spy On Trump

 

The NYT lets it seem as if the decision to launch a counter-intelligence investigation related to Trump was as based on some reasonable suspicion the FBI had. It was not. This was an act of revenge by the upper anti-Trump echelons in the FBI with which they attempted to undermine Trump's presidency.  ...


After Comey was fired, the FBI made a very hasty move, without reasonable suspicion and without informing the Justice Department, to launch a counter-intelligence operation involving the sitting president and his administration. What was the real purpose of this move?
Initiating a counter-intelligence investigation, for which there was no basis, gave the FBI, and later the Mueller investigation, unfettered access to NSA 'signals intelligence' that could then possibly be used to incriminate Trump or his associates.
It was the Obama administration which had given the FBI access to this tool:
The Hoarse Whisperer @HoarseWisperer - 4:05 utc - 12 Jan 2019 On his way out the door, we all were wallowing in our winter of discontent, Obama signed an executive order...
...
The order revised the rules around intelligence sharing among our intel community. Specifically, it made the firehose of raw intelligence collected by the NSA directly accessible to the FBI and CIA. Instead of having to ask for intel and getting what they filtered down the FBI and CIA could directly access the unfiltered “SigInt” or signals intelligence. Intercepted phone calls, emails, raw intel from human sources. Everything our vast intelligence vacuum hoovers up, available directly... but only for counterintel and foreign intel purposes.
The NSA can sit on virtually every communication into and out of the U.S. that takes place over networks. Obama made it possible for the FBI to directly access everything they had on Trump, et al. Obama supercharged the FBI’s ability to investigate Trump.
The Obama administration enacted the changed executive order EO 12333 in early January 2017, shortly before Trump took over:

Previously, the N.S.A. filtered information before sharing intercepted communications with another agency, like the C.I.A. or the intelligence branches of the F.B.I. and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The N.S.A.’s analysts passed on only information they deemed pertinent, screening out the identities of innocent people and irrelevant personal information. Now, other intelligence agencies will be able to search directly through raw repositories of communications intercepted by the N.S.A. and then apply such rules for “minimizing” privacy intrusions.
...
[T]he 12333 sharing procedures allow analysts, including those at the F.B.I., to search the raw data using an American’s identifying information only for the purpose of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence investigations, not for ordinary criminal cases. And they may do so only if one of several other conditions are met, such as a finding that the American is an agent of a foreign power.
However, under the rules, if analysts stumble across evidence that an American has committed any crime, they will send it to the Justice Department.
At that time Peter Lee, aka Chinahand, already had the suspicion that Obama was behind the FBI campaign against Trump.

With the changes in EO 12333 Obama gave the FBI the ability to launch a world wide snooping operation against the incoming Trump administration under the guise of a 'counter-intelligence' operation. The hasty FBI move after Comey was fired activated this instrument. The Mueller investigation has since used it extensively. 'Crimes' revealed through the snooping operation are turned over to the Justice Department.

The NYT claim that the counter-intelligence investigation was initiated because of reasonable suspicion of Russian influence over Trump is nonsense. It was initiated to get access to a set of tools that would allow unlimited access to communication of Trump and anyone related to him. It was Obama who on his way out of the door gave the FBI these capabilities.



 23--French Democracy Dead or Alive?



The referendum is a bitter point in France, a powerful silent underlying cause of the whole Gilets Jaunes movement. In 2005, President Chirac (unwisely from his point of view) called for a popular referendum on ratification of the proposed Constitution of the European Union, certain it would be approved. The political class, with a few exceptions, went into full rhetoric, claiming a prosperous future as a new world power under the new Constitution and warning that otherwise Europe might be plunged back into World Wars I and II. However, ordinary citizens organized an extraordinary movement of popular self-education, as groups met to pour through the daunting legalistic 
documents, elucidating what they meant and what they implied. On May 29, 2005, with a turnout of 68%, the French voted 55% to reject the Constitution. Only Paris voted heavily in favor.
 
Three years later, the National Assembly – that is, politicians off all parties – voted to adopt virtually the same text, which in 2009 became the Treaty of Lisbon.
That blow to the clearly expressed popular will produced such disillusion that many backed helplessly away from politics. Now they are coming back.

  • The ANTIFA
Wherever people gather, Antifa groups may pursue their indiscriminate search to root out “fascists”. In Bordeaux last Saturday, Yellow Vests had to fight off an attack by Antifa.
It is now completely clear (as indeed it always has been) that the self-styled “Antifascists” are the watch dogs of the status quo. In their tireless search for “fascists”, the Antifa attack anything that moves. In effect, they protect stagnation. And curiously enough, Antifa violence is tolerated by the same State and the same police who insult, attack and arrest more peaceful demonstrators. In short, the Antifa are the storm troopers of the current system.




  

 









 

 






Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Today's Links

It is interesting that the reports about the probe (into Trump's alleged collusion with Russia) surfaced in a time when Trump announced his intention of pulling U.S. troops out of Syria. It seems some people in the U.S. are trying to say that Trump is working for Russia's interests, and that's why he is abandoning Syria to Putin. In other words, they would prefer that U.S. troops stay in Syria.

 

Across the world we need to challenge the lies of the super-rich and the giant corporations and expose the politicians who are basically no more than their puppets. Whether we stay in the EU or we leave it, things will continue to get worse unless we bring 40 years of neo-liberalism to an end, both in Europe and America. Ken Livingston

 

20 hours ago

The NY Fed recently updated its recession-risk model – up to 21.4% in December, from 15.8% in November and 14.1% in October. The odds have doubled in the past year and haven't been this high since August 2008.

 

 

 

 

1--EU opposition grows in Germany


I hope our readers do not misunderstand what we mean here. We don't have any demands like the closure of "anti-democratic European Parliament." The demand, however, to close the European Parliament came at an Alternative for Germany (AfD) congress last weekend. Members of the AfD determined that the European Parliament is "anti-democratic" and there is no need for such a parliament. This is a something we would otherwise laugh at and pass by. But this time its different.
The party that has made this demand has 91 members in Bundestag. In fact, they form the third-biggest parliamentary group in the German parliament. They have a total of 193 congressmen in Germany's provincial parliaments.


In their speeches over the weekend, their target was not only the European Parliament. They have set goals like a German exit from the EU, its return to the Deutsche mark from euro and the formation of a new economic and political union in Europe that will take the place of the EU.

They claim that the EU is not a democratic structure and it is occu
pied by a politically privileged class. They are especially hostile toward "uncontrollable bureaucrats." The AfD, which advocates that the next step after Brexit is Dexit (Germany's exit from the EU), is not alone in the EU.
In France, Holland, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Finland and Austria, their allies are becoming successful in elections. At the end of the May 2019 European Parliament elections, many EU opposing congressmen will become a part of the European Parliament that they want to close down...

Far-right parties are enjoying great success in every country where the participation in elections is low

2--Huawei would deny gov't requests for user information, founder says


Huawei, the biggest global supplier of network equipment used by phone and internet companies, says it is employee-owned. Ren said no government entity or any other investor who isn't a current or former employee owns "one cent of Huawei shares."

Ren said Huawei has no research cooperation with the ruling party's military wing, the People's Liberation Army. He said the company also has no dedicated unit for military sales and he knew of no purchases of civilian technology by the PLA.

Ren is the father of Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested Dec. 1 in Canada on U.S. charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions on Iran.

Ren said he misses his daughter but couldn't discuss her case while it was before a court. However, he said Huawei obeys the law, including trade sanctions, in every country where it operates

3--The Cold War era returns from the grave


It is interesting that the reports about the probe surfaced in a time when Trump announced his intention of pulling U.S. troops out of Syria. It seems some people in the U.S. are trying to say that Trump is working for Russia's interests, and that's why he is abandoning Syria to Putin. In other words, they would prefer that U.S. troops stay in Syria.

It was the Obama administration who decided to support the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, even though this caused a deterioration in relations between Ankara and Washington.

Turkey, worried for its own security and territorial integrity, had to turn to Russia for help. As a response, circles close to the Obama administration started a propaganda campaign to denigrate Turkey, claiming that Ankara was engaged in an axis shift with the aim of building an alliance with Russia and Iran. In other words, the U.S. pushed Turkey toward Russia and then accused it of betraying its alliance with the West.

4--Invasion imminent?  Erdoğan, Trump discuss establishment of terror-free safe zone in northern Syria in phone call


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a phone call with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on Monday on ..... the establishment of a terror-free safe zone in Syria's north based on the country's territorial integrity....

Trump also "expressed the desire to work together to address Turkey's security concerns in northeast Syria while stressing the importance to the United States that Turkey does not mistreat" the YPG, the White House said in a separate readout of the call....

Trump went as far as saying that Washington would "economically devastate" Turkey if Ankara decided to strike against the militants of the U.S.-backed YPG...

Turkish and U.S. troops began joint patrols in Manbij on Nov. 1 as part of an agreement that focuses on the withdrawal of YPG terrorists from the city to stabilize the region.
PKK is a terrorist group recognized by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, which in its 30-year terror campaign has taken some 40,000 lives

5--What Turkey wants...20-mile Safe Zone


Ankara expects Washington to clarify the issue of a safe zone at a working group meeting on Syria between Turkish and U.S. officials in Washington on Feb. 5 which would be crucial for discussions on the U.S. proposal, according to the diplomat. The top soldiers of the two countries are also expected to meet on Jan. 15 on the sidelines of a gathering in Brussels.
“Safe zone is not a new matter, but we will see in time what is in the minds of Americans,” said the diplomat...

In a tweet Jan. 14 Trump said he spoke with Erdoğan “to advise where we stand on all matters including our last two weeks of success in fighting the remnants of ISIS [ISIL], and 20 mile safe zone.”
In Bolton’s five-point non-paper the U.S. reportedly reiterated that the withdrawal of its anti-ISIL forces in northeastern Syria would happen in a deliberate, orderly and strong manner.
Secondly, the U.S. committed itself to defeating the remnants of ISIL and continuing to damage ISIL targets throughout the withdrawal period.

Thirdly, the U.S. declared that it wants a negotiated solution to Turkish security concerns with regards to the YPG, meaning that it opposes any mistreatment of opposition forces that fought alongside the U.S. against ISIL.

Fourthly, the U.S. would pursue the withdrawal of Iranian-backed forces from Syria and a political solution in Syria.
Finally, the U.S. made clear that the release of captured ISIL militants - described as “foreign terrorists” by the U.S. official - held by the YPG-led SDF is “unacceptable.

6--Oops! That sophisticated, specific Russian 2016 voter targeting effort doesn’t seem to exist, WA Post




Most of the ads purchased by the Russians didn’t specify a geographic target smaller than the United States on the whole, according to a Post review of the ads released by the House Intelligence Committee. Those that did target specific states heavily targeted those that weren’t really considered targets of the 2016 election, such as Missouri and Maryland. And of those ads that did target specific states, most happened well before or well after the final weeks of the campaign....

More than half of the actual clicks on ads, in fact, came after the election....

States that Trump won narrowly — specifically Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — saw very few campaigns and, per our count, were seen by fewer than 1,000 people in the last five weeks before the election....

there were so few ads in, say, Nevada or Florida in the weeks before the election gives the lie to the idea that the Russian effort was focused on targeting specific voters.  

7--Joe Rogan Experience #1170 - Tulsi Gabbard

 

8--Erdogan admits that Obama "favored" a no-fly zone, but rejected the policy to implement it

 

Turkey will set up a safe zone 30 kilometers deep into northeastern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, a move suggested by President Donald Trump, adding that the two sides’ teams will continue to discuss the technical aspects of the proposed measure along the Syrian border.

“Mr. Trump once again confirmed his decision to withdraw from Syria. He also spoke about a security zone more than 30 kilometers deep inside [Syria], which would be set up by us, an issue that I had raised during the Obama administration,” Erdoğan said during his weekly address to his parliamentary group on Jan. 15 in Ankara.

Erdoğan expressed his hope that he reached an understanding of historical importance with Trump during a phone conversation late Jan. 14, following the latter’s threat on Twitter that the U.S. would “devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds.”

Turkey and the U.S. are at fresh odds over the latter’s remarks that the Turkish government should give assurances that it would not attack the YPG after the withdrawal of American troops. Trump, in his tweet, revisited the idea of setting up a security zone inside Syria in order to address Turkey’s security concerns without giving any detail on its modalities.

They also discussed the idea of forming a terror-free safe zone in the north of Syria on the basis of Syria’s territorial integrity.

On Jan. 15, Erdoğan said Turkey is considering Trump’s proposal as a positive one but also recalled that Turkey’s earlier attempts to realize such a measure was rejected by the Obama administration. 


“We had suggested securing the ground if the U.S. would provide aerial protection. [Barack] Obama did not take the necessary steps on it although he was in favor of it,” he said.

 

YPG ‘should be cleared of secure zone

Erdoğan said that in order to be able to talk about a security zone, the enclave must be cleared of the YPG. “Can the YPG take part in such a project? They are terrorists. Can we leave this area to the terrorists? For us, there is no difference between Daesh and the YPG/PYD,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIL.

Erdoğan said detailed talks were needed between the two countries to define what logistics would be provided by the U.S. or other coalition partners not only for securing the area but also for reconstructing the area for the return of Syrian refugees.

“We can be involved in this with our TOKİ [Turkey’s urban development agency]. But if a financial support would be provided by our coalition partners, we can establish this secure zone and provide security for all these people. This would also stop migration,” he stated.
Positive dialogue with Trump

Erdoğan stressed that his latest conversation with Trump was positive and covered issues beyond Syria and other matters concerning bilateral issues.
“We have decided to take comprehensive and speedy steps to increase our trade volume to $75 billion. Therefore, we could strengthen our joint perspective in spreading the positive spirit on our ties over Syria to the economic sphere as well,” he stated.

Meeting with Putin on Jan 23

Erdoğan stressed that his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin would take place on Jan. 23 under the Astana Process format that includes Iran as well. Idlib is also another issue that Turkey is closely following with Russia and Iran, Erdoğan stated. “God willing, we will resolve all the troubles and we will turn Idlib into a place of comfort and trust like the other provinces we are supporting.”

9--Outgoing IDF chief admits to arming Syrian rebels against gov’t

 

In September 2018, Foreign Policy magazine reported that Israel had secretly supplied arms and provided funds to at least 12 Syrian rebel groups in order to keep Iranian-backed forces and Daesh* terrorists away from Israel’s border.
According to sources, the Israeli assistance programme included machine guns, mortar launchers, transport vehicles, assault rifles, in addition to a $75 salary to rebel fighters and additional funds to purchase weapons on the Syrian black market.

10--Israeli military finally admits supplying arms to Syria militants


In an interview with the New York Times earlier this week, Eizenkot acknowledged that Israel had carried out “thousands” of airstrikes in Syria in recent years. In 2018 alone, the Israeli army dropped 2,000 bombs in Syria, he noted.
The occupying regime has been providing medical treatment to extremist elements wounded during fighting in Syria.
Tel Aviv frequently attacks military targets inside Syria in what is considered as an attempt to prop up Takfiri terrorist outfits that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government forces....

The Foreign Policy magazine reported last September that Israel had covertly sponsored at least a dozen militant groups operating in southern Syria.
Citing interviews with several militant figures, the report said that Israeli officials had given $75 per-person monthly allowances to militants as well as funds to their ringleaders meant to procure weapons on the black market.

11--Brexit or not, things will get worse unless neo-liberalism is brought to end – Ken Livingstone


Although the Tory Brexiteers won the referendum by promising our economy would be stronger outside the EU, it’s hard to see how Britain can benefit from walking away from the largest economy in the world, into which we have been integrated for almost half a century. Since the referendum, our exports have declined dramatically because of the uncertainty of the impact. BDC (a business consultancy) has reported that our exports have shown a dramatic slowdown since the months following the referendum, and are now at a point lower than any other since 2015. Investment by British businesses has almost come to a stop with the likely impact of this being a recession caused by a rapid decline in car production and sales..

There are those who say the answer is not for Britain to leave but to reform Europe from within, so that it is run along progressive rather than neo-liberal lines. But Germany is never going to agree to a common budget and the European Commission wants to fine Italy… because it is running a higher deficit than under eurozone budget rules.”...

Part of our problem is that Thatcher persuaded the EU to follow a neo-liberal economic strategy, but that of course isn’t just happening in Europe. It’s all around the world. In 2017, the world’s billionaires made more money than ever in our history. The wealthiest people on our planet got richer by a fifth in just one year. Across the world, however, ordinary working- and middle-class families have struggled since the banking crisis of 2008 and that fueled the Brexit vote.

People think the world isn’t working and they want to see change. This is what led to the election of Donald Trump and, here in Britain, Jeremy Corbyn’s 2017 commitment to dropping neo-liberalism and going for an increase in public spending and investment saw the biggest increase in the Labour vote since 1945. Had Theresa May lost seven more seats, Jeremy would be leading a radical minority Labour government....

Across the world we need to challenge the lies of the super-rich and the giant corporations and expose the politicians who are basically no more than their puppets. Whether we stay in the EU or we leave it, things will continue to get worse unless we bring 40 years of neo-liberalism to an end, both in Europe and America.

12--Apres Brexit--Nigel Farage video 

 

13--World Bank warns of “storm clouds” over global economy

 

14--One hundred years since the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht

 

15--US ratchets up threats against Iran, Turkey amid Syria withdrawal plans

 

16--Poll: A majority of Americans support raising the top tax rate to 70 percent

 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her Republican critics have both called her proposal to dramatically increase America's highest tax rate "radical" but a new poll released Tuesday indicates that a majority of Americans agrees with the idea.
In the latest The Hill-HarrisX survey, which was conducted Jan. 12 and 13 after the newly elected congresswoman called for the U.S. to raise its highest tax rate to 70 percent, found that a sizable majority of registered voters, 59 percent, supports the idea.

17--The Trump-Russia Scam - How Obama Enabled The FBI To Spy On Trump