Friday, June 22, 2018

Today's Links

 1-- Rachel Maddow-- Crocodile tears

2-- Poll: immigration has become the No. 1 issue for voters in 2018


A new Pew poll finds immigration has overtaken health care and the economy as a top 2018 issue....

Democrats have been hammering home two issues in particular ahead of the 2018 midterms: jobs and health care.
But between the recent outrage over the Trump administration’s family separation policy and House Republicans taking up a comprehensive bill aimed at fixing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, one new poll finds that voters thinking about 2018 care most about immigration.
Out of 2,002 Republican and Democratic adults (including 1,608 registered voters) surveyed by the Pew Research Center from June 5 to 12, immigration emerged as the top issue they most wanted to hear 2018 candidates talk about. In fact, about one in five voters mentioned immigration — more than mentioned either health care or the economy.

Republican voters or those who lean Republican were slightly more likely to mention immigration as their most important issue than their Democratic counterparts; 21 percent of Republicans mentioned immigration as their top issue, compared to 18 percent of Democrats.
Health care was the next most important priority for Democratic voters, while Republicans were focused on the economy and economic issues. Democratic voters were twice as likely as Republicans to mention health care as a key issue....

However, Democrats have been clear their first priority will be jobs and advancing legislation to put people back to work. Even with low unemployment numbers, Democrats have been hammering home points about raising wages and providing job training for more people. House and Senate Democrats unveiled a platform called A Better Deal, which focuses largely on increasing the minimum wage, putting a dent in rising income inequality, and solving the crisis of unaffordable housing.
But such focus on jobs could mean that immigration legislation gets pushed to the side again, even if Democrats are able to retake the House in 2018. Voters may not be happy if interest in immigration issues remains high through the fall. 

3--  PEW--Voters More Focused on Control of Congress – and the President – Than in Past Midterms

4--How US Policy in Honduras Set the Stage for Today’s Mass Migration


5-- Krugman never exaggerates--Trump is Hitler, Immigration is the Holocaust

The speed of America’s moral descent under Donald Trump is breathtaking. In a matter of months we’ve gone from a nation that stood for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to a nation that tears children from their parents and puts them in cages.
What’s almost equally remarkable about this plunge into barbarism is that it’s not a response to any actual problem. The mass influx of murderers and rapists that Trump talks about, the wave of crime committed by immigrants here (and, in his mind, refugees in Germany), are things that simply aren’t happening. They’re just sick fantasies being used to justify real atrocities.
And you know what this reminds me of? The history of anti-Semitism, a tale of prejudice fueled by myths and hoaxes that ended in genocide

6--75 percent of Americans say immigration is a good thing: Gallup poll


A record-high 75% of Americans, including majorities of all party groups, think immigration is a good thing for the U.S. -- up slightly from 71% last year. Just 19% of the public considers immigration a bad thing.

Currently, 85% of Democrats and Democratic leaners and 65% of Republicans and Republican leaners view immigration positively....Given attempts by the Trump administration to cut back on legal immigration, Gallup tested an alternative wording to this question for the first time this year -- asking half of the respondents about "legal immigration," whereas the trend question does not specify a particular type of immigration. Americans are more likely to support legal immigration, with 84% describing it as a good thing, nine percentage points higher than the reading for "immigration."...
29% -- saying that immigration into the U.S. should be decreased. A plurality of 39% think immigration into the U.S. should be kept at its present level, while 28% say it should be increased.
U.S. immigration policy was a key part of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, and it has been an area of significant action because his administration has targeted both legal and illegal immigration with its policies. Since taking office, Trump has issued a travel ban for residents of a number of primarily Muslim countries, continued to press for a wall along the Southern U.S. border and sought to end the DACA program, in addition to a number of other less visible actions.

Gallup polling has shown that the public is at odds with Trump over the border wall and strongly favors allowing DACA children to remain in the U.S. and have a path to citizenship. More generally, Americans' strong belief that immigration is a good thing for the country and that immigration levels shouldn't be decreased present the president and Congress with some tough decisions as the midterm elections loom.

7-- Quinnipiac Poll on Immigration

American voters oppose 66 – 27 percent the policy of separating children and parents when families illegally cross the border into America.
Republican voters support the separation policy 55 – 35 percent, the only listed party, gender, education, age, or racial group to support it.
American voters also support 79 – 15 percent allowing immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, so-called “Dreamers,” to remain and ultimately to apply for citizenship.
All listed groups support Dreamers, ranging from 61 – 28 percent among Republicans to 94 – 5 percent among Democrats

Support for Dreamers has ranged from 77 percent to 81 percent in every Quinnipiac University National Poll conducted this year.
American voters oppose 58 – 39 percent building a wall along the border with Mexico. The only listed groups to support the wall are Republicans 77 – 17 percent and white voters with no college degree 52 – 44 percent.
The Trump Administration has been too aggressive in deporting illegal immigrants, 50 percent of voters say, as 13 percent say the administration has not been aggressive enough and 33 percent say the administration has been acting appropriately.
“When does public opinion become a demand that politicians just can’t ignore? Two-thirds of American voters oppose the family separation policy at our borders,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. Neither quotes from the Bible nor get-tough talk can soften the images of crying children nor reverse the pain so many Americans feel.”

Illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S. should be allowed to stay and eventually apply for citizenship, 67 percent of American voters say.
Another 8 percent say they should be allowed to stay, but not become citizens, and 19 percent say they should be forced to leave.
Among Republicans, 48 percent say illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship, while 9 percent say they should be allowed to stay, but not become citizens, and 36 percent say they should be forced to leave. All other listed groups support by wide margins a path to citizenship.

8--Enormous write downs on bad loans fueled the housing recovery


9--Enormous write downs on bad loans fueled the housing recovery

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Today's Links

1--A realist "sizes up" at Trump, Giraldi

And then there is also Donald Trump’s recent renunciation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), eliminating a successful program that was preventing nuclear proliferation on the part of Iran and replacing it with nothing whatsoever apart from war as a possible way of dealing with the potential problem. Indeed, Trump has been prepared to use military force on impulse, even when there is no clear casus belli. In Syria there have been two pointless cruise missile attacks and a trap set up to kill Russian mercenaries. Washington’s stated intention is to destabilize and replace President Bashar al-Assad while continuing the occupation of the Syrian oil fields. And in Afghanistan there are now more troops on the ground than there were on inauguration day together with no plan to bring them home. It is reported that the Pentagon has a twenty-year plan to finish the job but no one actually believes it will work.

The United States is constructing new drone bases in Africa and Asia. It also has a new military base in Israel which will serve as a tripwire for automatic American involvement if Israel goes to war and has given the green light to the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians. In Latin America, Washington has backed off from détente with Cuba and has been periodically threatening some kind of intervention in Venezuela. In Europe, it is engaged in aggressive war games on the Russian borders, most recently in Norway and Poland. The Administration has ordered increased involvement in Somalia and has special ops units operating – and dying – worldwide. Overall, it is hardly a return to the Garden of Eden.

2-- A realist looks at immigration, Diana Johnstone


3--South Korea wants railroad link to Russia through North Korea


One such project could be a railway that will be able deliver goods from Russia to South Korea through North Korea. "Once the Trans-Korean Main Line is built, it may be connected to the Trans-Siberian Railway. In this case, it will be possible to deliver goods from South Korea to Europe, which would be economically beneficial not only to South and North Korea but to Russia as well," Moon Jae-in said in an interview with Russian media ahead of his state visit to Moscow.
A gas pipeline coming from Russia to North Korea to be extended to the South is another possibility, he said. "We can also build a gas pipeline via North Korea, so that not only South Korea will receive Russian gas but we will also be able to deliver it to Japan," the South Korean president said

The project to unite the Korean Peninsula with a gas pipeline has been discussed for a long time, but official talks started in 2011. The negotiations were frozen after relations between Seoul and Pyongyang deteriorated. Last week, Russian energy major Gazprom announced it resumed talks with Seoul over the construction of a gas pipeline connecting Russia with North and South Korea.
The countries could also connect their electricity grids, Moon Jae-in said. "We can also establish a powerline that would allow us to receive electricity from Russia. It could also be delivered not only to South and North Korea but also to Japan.”

4--When Central Banks Rule-- Assets of world’s “high net wealth” millionaires surged to $70 trillion in 2017


The concentration of the planet’s wealth in the hands of a narrow financial elite is growing by leaps and bounds. A new report published Tuesday reveals that the wealth of the world’s 18.1 million “high net worth individuals”—those having investable assets of $1 million or more—shot up by 10.6 percent last year to top $70 trillion for the first time ever.
The “World Wealth Report 2018,” issued by the consulting firm Capgemini, revealed that the combined wealth of the world’s millionaires rose for the sixth consecutive year in 2017 to reach $70.2 trillion. It is on target to surpass $100 trillion by 2025.

5--The United States of America: Land of internment camps


The United States government has implemented a policy of separating thousands of immigrant children from their parents and locking them in cages in desert tent cities. The American Academy of Pediatrics calls this “child abuse”, Amnesty International says it is “nothing short of torture”, and the United Nations denounces it as “despicable” and an “unconscionable” violation of human rights.


6--FBI Agent Strzok Was Escorted Out Of FBI Building


7--Beyond Trump’s Korea Fantasies


8--The fix was in.  

Clinton Emails: What the IG Report Refuses to Admit

Despite the sprawl of Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz’s 568-page report on the Clinton-emails investigation, there is precious little discussion of the most important issue: The Justice Department and FBI’s rationale for declining to prosecute Hillary Clinton. I believe this is intentional. The inspector general’s message is: “Despite pervasive political bias and investigative irregularities, which I have comprehensively documented, rest assured that nothing too terrible happened here.”

That silver-lining version of this dark spectacle could not have survived a searching analysis of the decision not to indict.
In explaining themselves to the IG, Obama Justice Department and FBI officials contended that the make-or-break issue in the case was whether they could prove mens rea — criminal state of mind. In this instance, that involved former secretary of state Clinton’s knowledge and intent regarding the unauthorized transmission and retention of classified information. Investigators say it dawned on them at a very early stage that they could not. Hence, they urge, their decisions to allow the election calendar to impose a time limit on the investigation, to limit the amount of evidence they considered, to be less than aggressive in obtaining evidence, and to draft an exoneration of Clinton months before interviewing her (and other key witnesses), were entirely reasonable....

Horowitz’s fleeting conclusion that the decision not to charge Clinton was rational and not necessarily motivated by political considerations hinges on the assumption that the intent evidence truly was as sparse as the FBI and Justice Department described it. Of course the decision to decline prosecution was defensible, if not incontestable, if one accepts that false premise. And Horowitz does not just accept the premise; he treats it as a background assumption, writing as if there’s no other conceivable way to look at the case....

What made Clinton’s conduct outrageous was not that national-defense officials emailed each other frequently. That happens in every government agency that deals with national security. The unique fact here was that Mrs. Clinton willfully set up a system in which those communications would transit through and be retained on a non-secure system, outside the government’s layers of protection. That system was extraordinarily vulnerable to penetration by hostile actors, a fact of which Clinton was undeniably, intimately aware. (See, e.g., Clinton’s banning of State Department employees from using private email for official business due to security concerns; Clinton’s citing of an ambassador’s use of private email for government business in firing him; Clinton’s acknowledgment that she “received a security indoctrination concerning the nature and protection of classified information”; Clinton’s memoir, Hard Choices, in which she vividly recounts the thorough training she received about protecting intelligence from the omnipresent threat of espionage, including instruction to leave communications devices on planes with batteries removed during her frequent foreign travel, as well as the need to use an “opaque tent” or “a blanket over our head” when she and her staff read “sensitive material” outside the secure U.S. government setting.)

9--Gowdy scorches Comey in blistering opening statement at IG hearing


Referring to IG findings that Comey defied his superiors in his handling of the Clinton email case, Gowdy accused the ex-director of essentially operating by his own rules.
"We see Jim Comey and Jim Comey alone deciding which DOJ policies to follow and which to ignore," he said.

Gowdy accused Comey of watering down his initial statement on the investigation's findings and making other decisions on his own. While Comey has suggested he acted unilaterally out of concern for the Justice Department's handling of the case, Gowdy questioned why he didn't seek a special counsel -- as he indirectly did regarding concerns about the Trump administration.

“Instead, he appointed himself FBI director, attorney general, special counsel, lead investigator and the general arbiter of what is good and right in the world according to him,” Gowdy said.
Gowdy said that Horowitz’s report, which was released last Thursday, should “conjure anger, disappointment and sadness in anyone who reads it.”
He also said that, in the wake of the IG report, there were FBI agents and attorneys who decided to "prejudge" the outcome of the Clinton case.

“These exact same FBI agents and attorney prejudged the outcome of the Russia investigation before it even began,” he added.
He said “prejudging the outcome of an investigation before it ends, and prejudging the outcome of an investigation before it begins” is the “textbook definition of bias.”
Horowitz also testified on Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In that hearing, he confirmed that his office was investigating Comey for potentially mishandling classified information, regarding the sharing of memos detailing conversations with President Trump.




18h18 hours ago

Horowitz just confirmed that there indeed was an original draft of his 568-pp report that was subsequently redlined by DOJ/FBI higher-ups. It's imperative that Congress obtain this early version before the swamp rats edited and revised it for obvious CYA purposes

BREAKING: Horowitz revealed that Hillary was never really under formal investigation, never listed by FBI as a "subject" of investigation.
BREAKING: IG Horowitz just testified that the two unidentified biased FBI investigators (in addition to Stzok and Page) assigned to the Mueller investigation are no longer working for the special counsel, and at least one of them was "removed" due to the anti-Trump text messages.

IG Horowitz revealed in Senate testimony FBI never named a target or even subject in Clinton probe. Not Mills, Abedin, Combetta or Clinton herself. "Nobody was listed as a subject of this investigation at any point in time," adding this was "surprising" for a crim probe






Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Today's Links

1--Trump administration planning massive expansion of jails for immigrant children

The Democrats hope to cover up their own active role in setting up immigrant internment camps across the country detaining thousands of children, including thousands in isolation from their parents. Most of the camps where children are currently held were constructed by Barack Obama, including the large facilities in Dilley and Karnes City, Texas. An American Civil Liberties Union report last month detailed widespread physical, sexual and mental abuse of child detainees by Customs and Border Protection under Obama’s watch.

From mid-2014 to mid-2016 alone, Obama arrested 127,000 “family units,” as the government calls them, or, parents and their children. In 2009, Obama’s DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson told a Senate committee he was implementing a “rapid deportation process” and that “there are adults who brought their children with them. Again, our message to this group is simple: We will send you back.

An August 2016 Washington Post story titled “Inside the [Obama] administration’s $1 billion deal to detain Central American asylum seekers” reads: “According to lawmakers and administration officials, Johnson determined that the United States could cut down the surge only by demonstrating that asylum seekers wouldn’t receive leniency. Johnson won approval from the White House to explore ramping up family detention for asylum seekers on a scale never before seen in America, part of what he called an ‘aggressive deterrence strategy.’ He ordered ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] to figure out a way to make it work.

“‘This whole thing [was] building and reaching an unsustainable level,’ said Christian Marrone, then Johnson’s chief of staff. ‘We had to take measures to stem the tide.’”

2-- Why Trump Deports Fewer Immigrants Than Obama

During Obama's first term, when he was laying the groundwork for what he hoped would be a comprehensive bargain on immigration, his administration aggressively enforced immigration law. ICE arrests peaked at more than 300,000 annually in 2010 and 2011. Deportations from the American interior -- in other words, not of people apprehended near the border — surpassed 200,000 in both those years, also about twice the number reached in 2017. Pro-immigrant groups took to calling Obama the "deporter in chief."...

The fear spread. "I've never seen anything like it in my 30-plus years of practice," said David Leopold, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, via email. "Trump has created a police state for immigrants — legal and unauthorized." ICE, Leopold said, is pursuing "any undocumented immigrant they can get their hands on — common sense and common decency be damned."
I asked Leopold why Obama's peak years of enforcement hadn't spread as much fear or more — given the higher rates of arrest and deportation.
"Even during the worst days of the Obama crackdown," he said, "ICE used its discretion and applied common sense." Today, he said, the agency refuses to use either, while seeming to revel in "tearing apart families."

3--Latching onto an issue for the election--Gin up a controversy Keep people afraid, keep people mad.  20:45 

4--  Deportations drop under Trump. Boom under Obama

The number of apprehensions alone for fiscal 2017 hit its lowest total since 1971, according to data from the U.S. Border Patrol

The number of people apprehended or otherwise deemed inadmissible each month fell most sharply between Trump's election and inauguration, suggesting a correlation with the incoming president's policy plans....

Yet these deportation totals pale in comparison to the removal numbers of the early Obama administration. ICE deportations under Obama peaked at 409,849 in fiscal 2012 – nearly double the agency's deportations during fiscal 2017, which included the final four months of Obama's term and the first eight months of Trump's presidency.

Total deportations by ICE hovered around 400,000 annually in each of the first four years of Obama's presidency. Interior deportations alone exceeded 150,000 annually from fiscal 2009 to 2012 – far greater than Trump's 81,603 during fiscal 2017.

But that drop has been coupled with more aggressive deportation policies for "interior deportations," or those immigrants already inside the country. Increased interior deportations mostly offset the decline in border deportations, so total deportations dropped by just 6 percent, or 14,136 people, from fiscal 2016 to 2017. 

In 2017, the number of people apprehended or otherwise deemed inadmissible while trying to gain admission at a port of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border fell dramatically. Assuming apprehension tactics remained the same, the numbers suggest fewer people are attempting to cross the border illegally. 

5--The Electoral Calendar Controlled the Clinton Emails Investigation


The first question out of the box for Inspector General Michael Horowitz by Senate Judiciary chairman Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) was whether it was improper to impose a deadline for the completion of an investigation based on the electoral calendar. Obviously, doing that is a textbook example of elevating politics over law-enforcement, and there is no doubt that the FBI rushed the conclusion of the Clinton emails investigation — and made critical investigative decisions not to seek certain relevant evidence (such as Huma Abedin’s communications devices) — in order to close the case before the stretch-run of the campaign.

IG Horowitz replied that it would be improper to impose an electoral-calendar-driven deadline on an investigation if the electoral calendar were the only reason for the deadline. He then identified no other reason for the deadline. Plainly, there are multiple reasons for many of the decisions that were made. But as for the decision that the Clinton investigation needed to be wrapped up by July 2016, there is no discernible reason, other than politics.

6-- The Truth about Separating Kids

The Trump administration isn’t changing the rules that pertain to separating an adult from the child. Those remain the same. Separation happens only if officials find that the adult is falsely claiming to be the child’s parent, or is a threat to the child, or is put into criminal proceedings.
It’s the last that is operative here. The past practice had been to give a free pass to an adult who is part of a family unit. The new Trump policy is to prosecute all adults. The idea is to send a signal that we are serious about our laws and to create a deterrent against re-entry. (Illegal entry is a misdemeanor, illegal re-entry a felony.)...

Where it becomes much more of an issue is if the adult files an asylum claim. In that scenario, the adults are almost certainly going to be detained longer than the government is allowed to hold their children.
That’s because of something called the Flores Consent Decree from 1997. It says that unaccompanied children can be held only 20 days. A ruling by the Ninth Circuit extended this 20-day limit to children who come as part of family units. So even if we want to hold a family unit together, we are forbidden from doing so.
The clock ticking on the time the government can hold a child will almost always run out before an asylum claim is settled. The migrant is allowed ten days to seek an attorney, and there may be continuances or other complications....

There is a significant moral cost to not enforcing the border. There is obviously a moral cost to separating a parent from a child and almost everyone would prefer not to do it. But, under current policy and with the current resources, the only practical alternative is letting family units who show up at the border live in the country for the duration. Not only does this make a mockery of our laws, it creates an incentive for people to keep bringing children with them.

In April, the New York Times reported:
Some migrants have admitted they brought their children not only to remove them from danger in such places as Central America and Africa, but because they believed it would cause the authorities to release them from custody sooner.
Others have admitted to posing falsely with children who are not their own, and Border Patrol officials say that such instances of fraud are increasing.

Congress can fix this. Congress can change the rules so the Flores consent decree will no longer apply, and it can appropriate more money for family shelters at the border. This is an obvious thing to do that would eliminate the tension between enforcing our laws and keeping family units together. The Trump administration is throwing as many resources as it can at the border to expedite the process, and it desperately wants the Flores consent decree reversed. Despite some mixed messages, if the administration had its druthers, family units would be kept together and their cases settled quickly. The missing piece here is Congress, but little outrage will be directed at it, and probably nothing will be done. And so our perverse system will remain in place and the crisis at the border will rumble on

7-- How Anti-Immigration Passion Was Inflamed From the Fringe

On Monday, as Mr. Trump vowed that “the United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” he continued to falsely blame congressional Democrats for a policy driven by Mr. Miller and Mr. Sessions. He once again called for legislation that would crack down on immigrants and decrease the need to separate families at the border, even though there is no law that requires families to be separated....

r. Sessions and Mr. Miller were the architects of the immigration agenda of the long-shot Trump campaign. In 2016, Mr. Sessions endorsed Mr. Trump for president — his first ever endorsement of a candidate in a primary — and Mr. Miller did as well.
Both men have something else in common: They are largely unfazed by criticism or bad press.

8-- Graham Q&A with IG

  • GRAHAM: “I’m not buying that the Clinton email investigation was on the up and up. And the reason I’m not buying it is cause the two people intimately involved, one the lead investigator, clearly did not want to see Donald Trump become President of the United States. Finally, do you agree with me that finding her [Hillary Clinton] liable, criminally, would be inconsistent with stopping Donald Trump? If they [the FBI] found Hillary Clinton was criminally liable, that paves the way for Donald Trump [to be elected president]. Can you put those two things together?”
HOROWITZ: “I guess it would depend when, but yes… it clearly could conceivably.”
GRAHAM: “Well not only clearly conceivably, that’s exactly what’s happening here folks. You cannot hold her [Hillary Clinton] criminally liable and stop him [President Trump].
  • GRAHAM: “Gross negligence is a criminally liable standard.” 
HOROWITZ: “Correct.”
GRAHAM: “So if they [the FBI] had said it the way they had originally wrote it, she’s [Hillary Clinton] guilty of a crime and the reason they changed it is because [some people think] she’s not guilty of a crime. And if you want to stop him [Donald Trump], it can’t be gross negligence.”
  • GRAHAM: “What’s the difference between [extremely careless] and gross negligence?” 
HOROWITZ: “Not much.”
GRAHAM: “It’s a lot, politically.”

9-- Senate: Two-Tiered Justice System in FBI Clinton/Trump Investigations

Horowitz admitted that the discovery of Strzok and Page texts was disturbing.
“That should not be downplayed by anybody,” Horowitz said. “I cannot think of anything more concerning than law enforcement officer suggesting that they may use their powers to effect a presidential election.”....

Grassley also stressed the breakdown in culture at the FBI and Horowitz’s discovery that numerous senior FBI agents were being wined and dined by reporters against FBI protocol.
“The FBI has managed to promote a culture that winks at unauthorized disclosures to the press but punishes legally-protected whistleblowing. It stiff-arms Congressional oversight to hide embarrassing facts, while it leaks self-serving tidbits to friendly reporters bearing gifts. Director Wray has quite a mess to clean up,” Grassley stated.

When asked by Cornyn if he was surprised that Comey used a private g-mail account at the same time he was investigating Clinton for using a private email server, Horowitz said he was surprised and that he couldn’t judge whether or not Comey made his decision based on his belief that Clinton was going to become president.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, also demanded Horowitz open an investigation to find out whether former FBI Director Andrew McCabe attended a meeting with Strzok and Page, which they discussed in a text an “insurance policy” against Trump if he were to become president.
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way he gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok texte
d on Aug. 15, 2016. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
Horowitz said he believes “Andy” is in reference to McCabe. Horowitz noted that Strzok said McCabe was at the meeting with him, but McCabe said he could not recall the meeting.
After telling the Director that he wasn’t sure the Clinton email investigation was “on the up and up”, Wray said the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility was in the process of investigating agents and “will hold every person accountable.”

Grassley pointed out that Lynch, Former FBI Director James Comey, and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe declined to testify. According to Grassley, “McCabe’s lawyer wrote that his client would rely on his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid answering any questions here today.”

Grassley stated “justice should be blind” but contended that it was not in the case in the FBI’s handling of the Clinton and Trump investigations. He noted that based on the evidence collected in the 568-page report released by Inspector General Michael Horowitz last week, along with information and evidence collected by numerous Congressional committees, evidence of bias against Trump was insurmountable.



Monday, June 18, 2018

Today's Links

1--Comey was forced to reopen Clinton email case

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, speaking on the Laura Ingraham program on Fox News, revealed that dissident agents in the New York office contacted him in late September 2016 and told him that the FBI had obtained a new batch of Clinton emails that could lead to the reopening of the investigation into her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, which the FBI had closed two months earlier.
A month later, FBI Director James Comey sent letters to congressional leaders informing them that the Clinton email probe was being reopened. This extraordinary action, only 11 days before Election Day, was in flagrant violation of a longstanding Justice Department rule against taking any public investigative action in relation to a political candidate within 90 days of an election...

“One former Justice Department official suggested that Comey was under intense pressure from within the FBI over his previous declaration that no competent prosecutor would bring charges against Clinton over her use of the private server. If true, this means that sections of the federal police agency are in open revolt against the candidate who may shortly become their nominal ‘commander-in-chief’” (see: “The FBI intervenes in the 2016 election”).

Peter Strzok, the assistant director of the FBI who headed the Clinton email investigation and the initial stages of the Russia-Trump investigation, was an ardent advocate of a Clinton presidency, like the bulk of the leadership of the national security apparatus. In a text message in August 2016 to his girlfriend Lisa Page, who was counsel to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Strzok’s boss, Strzok reassured Page that there would be no Trump presidency, because “We’ll stop it.”
This message, damning in its directness, especially given Strzok’s position as the head of both investigations, has been concealed for nearly two years despite endless reports and leaks about the FBI’s intervention into the 2016 campaign. It was first made public in the inspector general’s report. The prolonged concealment by itself demonstrates how critical Strzok’s role was in preparing the way for the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into supposed Russian interference in the elections.

2--IG Report--Comey "insubordinate


3--Spy Number 2???


Longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone and Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo claim to have been targeted in a setup by U.S. law enforcement during the 2016 campaign to pin then-candidate Donald Trump....

Both Stone and Caputo have suggested that the man, who has periodically used the name Henry Oknyasnky, was used by U.S. officials who were hostile to Trump. Records reviewed by the Post show he is a Russian national who has claimed to work as an FBI informant.
In a 2015 court filing related to his immigration status, Greenberg said he had provided information to the FBI for 17 years. However, the report notes there is no evidence to suggest Greenberg was working for the FBI when he interacted with Stone. The FBI and Mueller's team declined the Post's requests for comment.

Caputo says he used his crowdfunding effort to do research on Greenberg, and in a statement claimed the man had a lifelong history of violent criminal activity in Russia and the United States.
“I want to know who at James Comey’s FBI thought it was a good idea to direct a violent international criminal in our country illegally to contact my family and Stone’s family,” Caputo said.

Trump and his allies have accused the Justice Department and FBI of targeting him for political purposes, most recently jumping on reports of there being an FBI informant who spoke with members of his campaign with suspicious ties to Russia. That informant has been identified by the media as Stefan Halper, a U.S. professor from Cambridge University.

4-- FBI Director Christopher Wray's response to the blistering report on the Hillary Clinton investigation,

The report did not find any evidence of political bias or improper consideration actually impacting the investigation under review,” he boasted, then diminished the improper behavior as mere “errors of judgment, violations of or disregard for policy, and decisions that, at the very least, in hindsight, were not the best choice

5--Former Trump operative Roger Stone met with Russian who wanted $2M for Clinton dirt

Caputo told CNN he communicated with Greenberg by phone, and while he recognized that Greenberg had an accent, Caputo "assumed he was a US citizen."
"It was May 2016," Caputo added. "Nobody was talking about Russia, collusion, etc."
Caputo said he now believes the Russian who met with Stone was an FBI informant because "the OSC (Office of Special Counsel) knew more about it than I did." He added that it was not until prosecutors informed him that Greenberg was Russian that he learned the man he had spoken with in 2016 was not a US citizen.
"I was under the understanding that he was an American citizen of Russian descent," Caputo said. "I had no reason to believe that, I just assumed it."
The disclosure of the meeting comes a month after multiple reports that the FBI dispatched a confidential source to speak with at least two advisers to Trump's presidential campaign after the bureau obtained evidence that the aides had ties to Russia. The revelations have prompted Trump to accuse the FBI of spying on his campaign and trying to frame him.  

… the ‘freeze for freeze’ North Korea had offered [Obama previously in 2015 and 2016] and China promoted. The U.S. stops the large “strategic” maneuvers involving nuclear capable bombers flying from Guam, aircraft carriers and the like, while North Korea stops testing nukes and missiles. North Korea achieved its first aim. It can now lower its miliary posture and develop its economy.

The situation is still somewhat unstable as both freeze steps are reversible.
The ‘freeze for freeze’ is, as the Chinese Foreign Minister envisioned, a starting point for a long series of talks which may finally lead to a peace agreement and some nuclear disarmament. Now comes the “dual-track approach” of a peace agreement in exchange for some disarmament “in a synchronized and reciprocal manner”. This will be a “step-by-step” process which will take years or even decades.

7-- Trump Paves Way for a Russia-South Korea Pipeline

Russia has resumed talks with Seoul on a gas pipeline through North Korea that was abandoned in 2012

8--US issues list of 47 demands to North Korea


9--For the biggest group of American workers, wages aren’t just flat. They’re falling


10--The Comey Letter Probably Cost Clinton The Election


 Random Notes, links and surveys--- 

The Korean Herald election results b linked to above reflect the great enthusiasm generated by the growing prospects of peace and unification as the support rate for the main opposition Liberty Korea Party fell to a paltry 18.5%, while President Moon's approval rating rose a tad to 72.3%--it's been over 70% since late April, an extraordinary run for Korea. Also, Moon's twitter b linked to is almost unanimous with praise. I can't recall the last time a US president did anything so praise-worthy in my lifetime.
the experts speak on Nukes deal
sanctions under o and trump

What we are witnessing is an inability, or unwillingness, to break down Trump’s positions and examine each one individually, something that Democrats like Ted Kennedy were able to do with Nixon. But we are in a totally different era. A non-partisan approach to Trump would be able to decry his positions on climate, torture, health insurance, taxes, Iran and Palestine, and yet welcome his stated desire to lessen tensions with Russia and North Korea.
The fact remains that 81% of South Koreans supported the summit, and 88% supported the prior Kim-Moon summit. Moon also has an 86% approval rating. 70% of Americans support the meeting.  

The Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 40 percent of voters believe that Mueller's probe has been handled unfairly – a six-point increase from February

Thirty-eight percent say the investigation is being conducted in a fair manner, according to the survey.... 79 percent of Democrats saying that Trump is trying to obstruct the investigation and 70 percent of Republicans saying he is not.

Instead, Americans and South Koreans support more peaceful approaches. Sixty-nine percent of Americans and 55 percent of South Koreans currently want to continue diplomatic discussions. Tellingly, a strong majority (62 percent of Americans and 55 percent of South Koreans) favor further diplomatic engagement even if North Korea doesn’t wind down its nuclear program.

Our poll also clearly shows strong American support for bringing U.S. troops home from the peninsula: 70 percent want U.S. troops to come home—period—or if certain objectives are achieved. Only 21 percent want them to stay indefinitely. For those who want them to come home, fully a third want them to move back to the United States either regardless of what is happening in Asia or in the event of an agreement to replace the armistice and end the Korean War. And another third want U.S. troops to come home if there is successful North Korean disarmament.

Finally, the American public demonstrates a rational understanding of why North Korea pursued nuclear weapons in the first place. One-third believe North Korea pursued nuclear weapons as a permanent bargaining chip to relieve sanctions. Another 26 percent said North Korea probably wanted to prevent other military powers from attempting regime change. 

The document signed by Trump and Kim states the following:
1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified. 

The United States has a historic opportunity to

As on most issues, Americans are deeply divided on this issue as well: While 61 percent of Republicans said it was Trump’s tough policy that brought North Korea to the table, only 16 percent of Democrats agreed; while 42 percent of Democrats said the most important factor was North Korea’s successful testing of ICBMs, only 13 percent of Republicans agreed.
Both polls found that the American and Japanese publics are guardedly optimistic about the summit, but expectations are modest. And despite the optimism, the public perception in both countries is that the risk of a military confrontation between the United States and North Korea has not been significantly altered by the recent diplomatic progress.
Among Americans, 53 percent say that the diplomatic opportunities to negotiate denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula have increased, while 6 percent say they have decreased, and 39 percent say they remained the same. At the same time, only 13 percent of Americans, and 3 percent of Japanese, say recent diplomatic progress has made resolution of the nuclear issue more likely soon; 26 percent of Americans and 37 percent of Japanese say resolution of the nuclear issue has become more likely but only at some point in the future. On the other hand, 30 percent of Americans and 28 percent of Japanese say they expect progress on unrelated issues without resolution of the nuclear issue; and 15 percent of Americans and 12 percent of Japanese say nothing will be resolved.

As for expectations from the summit specifically, 22 percent of Americans and 6 percent of Japanese expect significant progress toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula; 36 percent of Americans and 52 percent of Japanese expect progress on some issues but not on denuclearization; and 27 percent of Americans and 16 percent of Japanese expect the summit to fail. Americans are again deeply divided across partisan lines: While 39 percent of Republicans expect significant progress toward denuclearization, only 8 percent of Democrats expect the same; while 44 percent of Democrats expect the summit to fail, just 7 percent of Republicans expect the same.

Do Americans and Japanese want to see normal relations with North Korea? Sixty-one percent of Americans and 52 percent of Japanese support normal relations only after North Korea completely gives up its nuclear weapons; only 13 percent of Americans and 11 percent of Japanese support normal relations with North Korea after North Korea agrees to denuclearize but before the agreement is implemented.

The partisan divide among Americans on this issue is particularly striking: Among Democrats, Trump topped the list of most threatening world leaders (48 percent) even above Putin (46 percent) and Kim (40 percent); while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (6 percent) topped Iranian leaders (2 percent) and Bashar Assad (2 percent). Among Republicans, Kim topped the list (50 percent) followed by Putin (39 percent) and Iranian leaders (25 percent); 3 percent identified Trump as a top threat.

n the end, the public expectations of the summit seem to be limited, providing the president with an opportunity. Already, the planned summit appears to have has somewhat improved Americans’ perception of the president -- but all of that improvement has come from his Republican base: Overall, 34 percent say their view of Trump has become more positive while 14 percent say their view has become more negative. Among Republicans, 65 percent say their views have become more positive, while only 2 percent say their view has become more negative. Among Democrats, 10 percent have become more positive, while 23 percent have become more negative. Among Independents the same number (17 percent) have become more positive as the number who have become more negative. The end result is that Trump appears to have consolidated the support of his base, while losing a few points with Democrats and maintaining the same level among Independents 



Saturday, June 9, 2018

Today's Links

1--Nomi Prins: Central Bank-Inspired "Major Credit Squeeze" Will Trigger Next Crisis


2--DOJ Reneges Commitment to Provide Trump Russia Docs to Congress


“American’s are upset about this and have every reason to be. They could’ve turned these documents over more than eight months ago and answered our questions and we wouldn’t be in the mess that we are in now.”


3--PANDORA’S BOX: Trump/Russia May Expose Extent of “Five Eyes” Allied Spying


In a December 2017 article, I interviewed numerous intelligence officials and whistleblowers, who say what happened in the Trump campaign is a microcosm of ongoing abuse of the intelligence apparatus and explain why the American public has a right to know what happened.
But the FBI’s Russia/Trump investigation has become more of a Pandora’s box and the revelations lead to multiple unanswered questions on the part of all the players involved.

What was the evidence that allowed the Obama administration to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign? We still don’t have an answer but we’re closer than ever to unraveling what happened and why. If the FBI was truly concerned that Russians were trying to influence the campaign, why didn’t the Bureau give a defensive briefing to alert the campaign about these concerns? What role did the offices of the Director of National Intelligence, the CIA and NSA have in the investigation?

Unfortunately, the FBI and DOJ have stonewalled the American public’s right-to-know, along with congressional oversight efforts, and so many questions are left unanswered. What we do know is that a  bulk of the information regarding advisors with the Trump campaign was gathered in England. We also know that Great Britain’s intelligence apparatus, along with other allied nations intelligence networks, were also gathering communications and data on officials of the Trump campaign while overseas....

If what we are being told is true, who inside the U.S. and British intelligence agencies were aware that members of the Trump campaign had their communications intercepted by British intelligence, purportedly investigating the Russians? Was it the U.S. who asked the British to assist in a counterintelligence investigation or did the British do this on their own as claimed in The Guardian? If this did occur, how directly involved were CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in the information being shared by our allies? And how often had American political communications, unknown to the public, been intercepted by foreign governments for political purposes?...

If what the British and western intelligence officials are saying is true, then the investigation into the Trump campaign began much earlier than the FBI’s claims at the end of July 2016. More importantly, our allies may have been collecting more communications than we’re aware of on Trump campaign officials and volunteers. What we do know is that National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn; Carter Page, a short time foreign policy volunteer for the campaign; Paul Manafort, a short-term campaign chair and George Papadopoulos, a young short-term foreign policy advisor were all caught up in the spying dragnet.

Early March 2016: Fusion GPS approached the law firm of Perkins Coie which represents the Hillary for America Campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Fusion GPS presents the firm with a proposal to continue its opposition research on then-candidate Donald Trump, which they had begun in 2015 under contract with the Paul Singer-connected Washington Free Beacon.....

  • March 2016 (Date not specified): Shortly after Trump announces his foreign policy team, FBI Director James Comey, along with Deputy Director Andrew McCabe go to brief Attorney General Loretta Lynch about Carter Page. Why? Because Page had already been on the FBI’s radar during a 2013 investigation into Russian spies working in New York City.
According to the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia report, Lynch told lawmakers, “one of the possibilities the three of us discussed was whether or not to provide what is called a defensive briefing to the campaign, wherein there would be a meeting with a senior person with the campaign to alert them to the fact that…there may be efforts to compromise someone in their campaign.” The FBI, however, did not provide that briefing.

ate Spring (no specified date given by Obama Officials): After speaking to Lynch, Comey briefs the National Security Council Principals about Page, according to the Russia Report (page 54). Those interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee, however, did not specify the date of the meeting to lawmakers, only recalling it was in late spring. Still, despite concerns, the FBI did not provide a defensive briefing to the Trump campaign about Page or raise any awareness about Russia’s interference. The Washington Examiner’s Byron York, describes: “…the principals committee includes some of the highest-ranking officials in the government, including the secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, and Homeland Security, the attorney general, the head of the CIA, the White House chief of staff, U.N. ambassador, and more.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power (Remember her? she unmasked over 300 people at the end of her tenure.), Attorney General Loretta Lynch, among other senior officials were briefed on the matter. What did Obama know, what did Valerie Jarrett know? Those are questions that are still left unanswered:

April 26, 2016: Papadopoulos has a meeting with Professor Joseph Mifsud in London. According to court documents, Papadopoulos tells the FBI that Mifsud told him about a recent trip to Moscow. Mifsud allegedly said that while he was in Moscow he met with “high-level Russian government officials” that claimed to have information on Hillary Clinton.

  • May 10, 2016: Papadopoulos agrees to meet Downer at London’s Kensington Wine Room. According to Downer, they only had one drink and he was meeting to respond to Papadopoulos’s interview with The Times.  It was then that Papadopoulos referred to the information Mifsud had relayed to him about Moscow having information on Clinton. Downer, in an interview with The Australian news magazine, said articles referring to a heavy night of drinking were false. He said that “by the way, nothing [Papadopoulos] said in that conversation indicated Trump himself had been conspiring with the Russians to collect information on Hillary Clinton. It was just that this guy, [Papadopoulos], clearly knew that the Russians did have material on Hillary Clinton — but whether Trump knew or not?”
Downer also indicated that “(Papadopoulos) didn’t say Trump knew or that Trump was in any way involved in this. He said it was about Russians and Hillary Clinton; it wasn’t about Trump.” In fact, he noted that Papadopoulos “didn’t say dirt; he said material that could be damaging to (Clinton). No, he said it would be damaging. He didn’t say what it was.

It was the conversation during this meeting, according to a story in the New York Times in December 2017,  that would open the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation “Crossfire Hurricane,” which was to probe any coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
According to Chuck Ross with the Daily Caller Papadopoulos believed Mifsud was referring to the 30,000-plus emails Hillary Clinton had deleted from her server. Andrew McCarthy in National Review noted that this scenario makes more sense because it was those emails that Donald Trump harped on throughout the campaign and that were in the news when Mifsud spoke with Papadopoulos in April 2016. While there are grounds for concern that Clinton’s emails were hacked, there is no proof that it happened; Clinton’s 30,000 emails are not the hacked DNC emails on which the “collusion” narrative is based.”

  • July 11-12, 2016: Just days after leaving Moscow, Carter Page attends an event at the University of Cambridge called 2016’s Race to Change the World: How the U.S. Presidential Campaign Can Reshape Global Politics and Foreign Policy. Page received the invitation to attend the event at the end of May. Page told this reporter that this is when he first met Stephan Halper, an emeritus professor of the university. Halper’s contact with Page suggests he was already an informant being used by the FBI in their counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. Interestingly, Page was not invited to speak at the event but event organizers paid for his trip to attend. It is now widely circulated in reports that Stephan Halper was the informant used by the FBI to keep tabs on the Trump campaign. If this is true, who inside the FBI or DOJ authorized him to do so and why?
  • July 19 – December 13, 2016: There would be 16 more memos put together by Steele and his final December memo would be given to Rep. John McCain through a representative, as reported by The Guardian.
  • July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks releases the DNC emails connected to the campaign that FBI officials believe were hacked when John Podesta clicked on the malicious email sent to him in March, as reported by The Washington Post.
  • July 2016 (date not specified): Australian diplomat Alexander Downer reports his conversation with Papadopoulos to the FBI.
  • July 25, 2016: FBI confirms it’s investigating the Democratic National Committee hack, as reported by Politico.
  • July 31, 2016: According to the New York Times and the Washington Post the FBI opens its investigation now known as Crossfire Hurricane into the Trump campaign and alleged ties to Russia. Sources close to the current investigations being conducted in Congress and the Senate have told this reporter that based on all the evidence it appears the counterintelligence investigation began much earlier, possibly as early as March.
  • August 29, 2016: Stephan Halper sends an email to Sam Clovis, who was the former national co-chairman of the Trump campaign. It was Clovis who brought Page and Papadopoulos onto the Trump campaign as foreign policy advisors. As stated by The Washington Examiner’s Byron York in his interview with Clovis, he met with Halper several days later in Virginia. Clovis, who is not suspected of any wrongdoing, recounts to York that Halper did not divulge that he knew Page and seemed very interested in Papadopoulos.
Clovis tells York:
“This is just my speculation — I have no knowledge,” Clovis told me. “I think [Halper] was using his meeting with me to give him bona fides to talk to George Papadopoulos. He used Carter Page to get to me and he used me to get to George. George was the target. I think George was the target all along.”
Clovis’s theory is that Halper was trying to link Papadopoulos and the 30,000-plus emails that Hillary Clinton unilaterally deleted from her private email system. Halper was hoping “that somebody would bite in the campaign … his goal was to drag George into this to say the Trump campaign tried to get access to those emails from Russia.”

(Circular leaks to justify FISA warrants)--September 23, 2016: Yahoo News Michael Iskoff publishes an article saying U.S. Intelligence officials are investigating Carter Page and his connections to Russia. The story, which was used as part of the evidence to gain a warrant to spy on Page, also relied on the same information Christopher Steele provided the FBI in his unverified dossier. According to the House Intelligence Committee investigation, the FISA application on Page was actually “derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News.”

NOTE: The Senate Judiciary Committee sent a criminal referral on Steele on January 4, 2018, which stated “[The] FBI relied on admittedly uncorroborated information, funded by and obtained for Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign, in order to conduct surveillance of an associate of the opposing presidential candidate. It did so based on Mr. Steele’s personal credibility and presumably having faith in his process of obtaining the information.”
[T]here is substantial evidence suggesting that Mr. Steele materially misled the FBI about a key aspect of his dossier efforts, one of which bears on his credibility…

October 31, 2016: FBI is granted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Application warrant on Carter Page. There were three more FISA warrants on Page, each renewed every 90 days by law and ending in September 2017. As I previously reported, DOJ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein signed off on the final FISA application on Page and that application would have contained all the evidence gathered from previous investigations. According to the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia report the bulk of the FISA warrant relied heavily on Christopher Steele’s unverified dossier.
The question here is why didn’t the FBI get a warrant to spy on Papadopoulos if the bureau was so concerned about the connections he alleged to Mifsud? Or did they try to get a warrant but failed to have enough proof for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court?

January 5, 2017: Then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice, President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates have a meeting at the White House about Russian interference in the election.

January 6, 2017: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asks then FBI Director James Comey to brief then President-Elect Donald Trump on the contents of the dossier after their national security briefing with the President-elect at Trump Tower, according to Comey’s memos and as reported.

January 10, 2017:  CNN’s Jake Tapper, publishes the first report about the intelligence chief’s briefing on Steele’s dossier, citing senior officials with knowledge.
NOTE: The House Intelligence Committee Russia report found that Clapper was not truthful and had multiple conflicting statements regarding his communications with CNN reporters about the contents of the dossier and the briefing given to then President-elect Trump. Clapper is suspected of leaking the information to CNN on the dossier Comey testified was unverified and salacious, as reported. Comey noted in his memos that news agencies had the Steele dossier for some time but they were unwilling to publish the unverified dossier unless they had a “news hook.”

“The President stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book,” wrote Rice. “From a national security perspective, however, President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming [Trump] team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.”

4--Media misses the big deal about leaker arrest  Video

5-- Russian MoD: ISIS Strongholds In Syria Are Located In Areas Controlled By US-led Coalition

On June 9, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said that the remaining strongholds of ISIS in Syria are located in areas controlled by the US-led coalition, according to the Russian news outlet Sputnik.
“As for the current situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, we recommend the Pentagon chief to examine the map showing the situation in this country. All remaining pockets of resistance of Daesh [ISIS] terrorists in Syria are located only in areas controlled by the United States,” Konashenkov said in an official statement.

“The vast majority of US-supplied arms and ammunition fell into the hands of the Syrian al-Qaeda branch – Nusra Front [currently known as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham] and Daesh, who sought, like Washington, to overthrow the legitimate Syrian government,” Konashenkov said.


6--Summit Talk: A likely scenario for withdrawing US troops from S Korea


Hyperbolic exchanges between Washington and Pyongyang months ago may have caused the leadership in Seoul to see their fate more threatened by their defense commitment with the United States. If an American preemptive military strike were to occur, part of any likely response by North Korea would almost certainly include missiles fired at U.S. military bases in South Korea, causing extraordinary destruction of the social stability on which South Korea’s prosperity has been built.

Now there is a historic deal on the table at the summit in Singapore. On the one side, the demand is for the total elimination of North Korea’s nuclear capability, completely verified by intrusive international inspections. In return, Pyongyang will likely insist on the denuclearization of the entire Korean Peninsula, also verified by outside inspections. The question is whether the United States would agree to such a requirement

American policy has always been to never confirm nor deny whether nuclear weapons are present at any U.S. military facility. We would also never allow inspections of our bases. If the price of totally eradicating North Korea’s nuclear capability is to have inspections of our military facilities in South Korea, then the choice may be to either change American policy on inspections of U.S. bases or the withdrawal all of our troops. The latter would seem the more likely choice.

In such a deal, America would, without question, be safe from North Korean missile attacks, but South Korea would no longer have the tripwire of U.S. troops to hold back conventional pressure from Beijing or Pyongyang. In such a radically changed circumstance and amid such negotiations, the bottom line question is, what foreign capital will be seen as the most influential by the government in Seoul?

7--Russian MoD says ISIS emerged as result of US invasion of Iraq


8--Killing the Myth of the Gig Economy


9--Mental health, substance abuse, life stresses and economic despair fuel crisis

US suicides increased by 25 percent from 1999 to 2016


10--Cincinnati, Ohio area fentanyl overdoses increase by one thousand percent over the last five years


11--Trump EPA to shred rules on toxic pollution


12--The SAA Deir-Ezzor Euphrates River Battle

13--Syria - Is The ISIS Attack On Abu Kamal Part Of A U.S. Plan?

The border crossing between Abu Kamal in Syria and its sister city Al Qaim in Iraq is the only open road connection between the government held parts of Syria and Iraq.

The other main crossing further southwest is al-Tanf which is illegally occupied by U.S. forces.
There is sneaking suspicion that the U.S. directed the ongoing ISIS attack on Abu Kamal to gain control over the crossing and to disable road supplies from Iran through Iraq into Syria. Such suspicion is reinforced when U.S. military analysts openly muse about the new possibilities the ISIS move creates:
Nicholas A Heras @NicholasAHeras - 16:35 UTC - 8 Jun 2018
If the #Assad Alliance loses #AlbuKamal near the #Syrian / #Iraqi border to #ISIS will #CJTFOIR working with the #SDF try to take it? The US zone in E #Syria could spread by osmosis, but does #Trump want that when he's trying to get out of and not deeper in Syria? 🤔 #Daesh #Iran
ISIS crosses the Euphrates and takes Abu Kamal. The U.S. then 'attacks ISIS' in Abu Kamal and takes over the border town. It would thereby hold both main road crossings between the government held parts of Syria and Iraq. The much feared "Iranian corridor" from Tehran to Beirut would be interrupted. Syria's economic exchange with Iraq would continue to be hampered. The U.S. would gain 'leverage' for further 'regime change' negotiations.
That sounds like a plan.

14-- If There’s a Red Wave Election in 2018, This Will Be Why

This year’s class of Republican candidates seems to get that in ways that they didn’t in 2016. As a result, the Democrats’ advantage in the generic congressional vote dropped from 13 points in January, according to the Real Clear Politics poll average, to 3.5 points at the end of May. A Reuters poll, which recorded a 14-point Democratic edge in April, gave Republicans a 6-point advantage last month. Apparently “resistance” and impeachment aren’t as popular as Democratic megadonors like Tom Steyer and their vassals would have Democratic candidates believe, although RealClearPolitics and Reuters now show Democrats with roughly an eight-point advantage.

Ned Ryun, a veteran Republican activist, noted that the polls now closely mirror the polls in May 2014, when Democrats went on to lose 13 House seats. He also notes that while there are nearly 40 Republicans who are not seeking re-election, only six of them represent districts won by Hillary Clinton. Financially, Republicans are in much better shape, with the Republican National Committee holding $44 million in cash while the Democratic National Committee is $5 million in debt.

There are even more cracks in the Democrats’ front line. Longtime Democrats like Mark Penn, a former Clinton pollster and confidant, are sick of the scandal mongering. Mr. Penn wrote recently that “Rather than a fair, limited and impartial investigation, the Mueller investigation became a partisan, open-ended inquisition that, by its precedent, is a threat to all those who ever want to participate in a national campaign or an administration again.”

At some point, the combination of scandal fatigue — there is almost no crime of which Mr. Trump is not regularly accused — and the continuing revelations of improprieties by government officials (in the F.B.I., at the Department of Justice and elsewhere) will lead voters to believe that Mr. Trump got a raw deal.

ancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, is pledging higher taxes. Al Green, a seven-term Texas Democrat, and at least 58 other House Democrats, are promising impeachment. But the stock market is up, wages are up, unemployment is down, and peace may be breaking out on the Korean Peninsula. How many people will vote for higher taxes and all the social and political stress associated with impeachment?
Some Democrats are beginning to sense this. One Washington Post columnist predicted that “there will be no Trump collapse” while others are expressing concern that Mr. Mueller’s investigation — his dawn raids and strong-arm tactics — don’t play well in Peoria. If Mr. Mueller is not able to prove collusion with Russia, the stated reason for his appointment, then Democrats, who have talked about little else for the past 18 months, will be left looking unserious or worse. They’re right to worry.

Up until recently, the conventional wisdom has been that a blue wave powered by a huge enthusiasm gap would propel Democrats to midterm glory. But the evidence doesn’t bear that out. Yes, Democrats have won some special elections and those victories are real and should warn Republicans against complacency. But left almost totally unremarked upon is that Republican primary turnout is way up from where it was at this point in the 2014 midterm cycle. This is often the result of competitive primaries, but that underscores the vibrancy of the grass roots’ struggle to reclaim control of the party.

According to Chris Wilson at WPI Intelligence, Republican primary turnout was up 43 percent or more over 2014 in states like Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia. The president’s popularity has been rising overall but especially in these critical battleground states. In West Virginia, his approval rating was over 60 percent in 2017. That sounds more like a red wave than a blue one, especially for imperiled senators like Joe Manchin in West Virginia and Claire McCaskill in Missouri.

Yes, the victories won in 2016 can be reversed, but only by voters at the polls and not by any of the irregular means that occupy the fantasies of many people who still can’t believe that their side lost. Persuasion still matters — and it better matter or we’ve got bigger problems. For Republicans, this should be a back-to-basics election. Talk about principles, not just tactics. Talk about America. If Republicans really want to win, then their pronouns must be we, us and our, and they have to make sure that the people who hear them know that they are included in we, us and our. That’s the key to building an enduring electoral majority and a better country.