Saturday, December 10, 2016

Today's links

1--Consumer Confidence in U.S. Surges Thanks to Optimism About Trump


Consumer confidence jumped more than forecast this month as Americans expressed the sunniest picture of their financial situation in 11 years, extending a boost following Donald Trump’s election victory.

The University of Michigan said Friday that its preliminary index of sentiment rose to 98, the highest since January 2015, from 93.8 in November. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey called for 94.5. The current conditions index, which measures Americans’ perceptions of their personal finances, increased by 4.8 points to 112.1, the highest since 2005.

A record share of respondents “spontaneously mentioned” the positive impact from new policies, according to the survey, with more people expecting the economy and job market to strengthen in the coming year. At the same time, recent gains in confidence could prove temporary unless economic conditions improve under the new administration

“President-elect Trump must provide early evidence of positive economic growth as well as act to keep positive consumer expectations aligned with performance,” Richard Curtin, director of the Michigan survey, said in a statement. “Either too-slow growth or too-high expectations represent barriers to maintaining high levels of consumer confidence.”
Presidential “honeymoons” tend to end in the months following inauguration, Curtin said on a conference call....

If confidence is sustained, it will drive up spending, Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics Ltd., said in a note. Curtin said he was leaving his forecast for 2017 consumption growth unchanged at 2.5 percent “until specific policies are proposed.”

2-- Explosive Washington Post Story on 'Russian Hackers' Can't Name a Single Source


On Friday, the Washington Post published a tantalizing article citing a 'secret CIA assessment' meant to conclusively show that Russia was behind the hack and release of thousands of DNC emails this summer. The only problem, says journalist Glenn Greenwald, is that the story consists of nothing but unverified claims by unnamed sources.The Washington Post piece, boldly titled 'Secret CIA Assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House', claimed that the Russian hack was meant not just to "undermine confidence in the US electoral system," but to explicitly "help Donald Trump win the presidency." The article goes on to say that "intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails" from the DNC and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta....

"What we have instead," Greenwald stressed, "are assertions, disseminated by anonymous people, completely unaccompanied by any evidence, let alone proof…Anonymous claims leaked to newspapers about what the CIA believes do not constitute proof, and certainly do not constitute reliable evidence that substitutes for actual evidence that can be reviewed."



The fact is, the US promoted civil unrest in Syria. They pushed it. They encouraged it. They spent years encouraging division and sowing the seeds of instability in ways that could only have resulted in the outbreak of violence. Syria was simply another piece in the puzzle of Washington’s geopolitical master plan; another opportunity for control and influence in the region. Assad was a leader that didn’t play ball the way Washington liked, so he had to go. If an uprising wasn’t going to happen fast enough organically, they would happily help it along.
Skeptical? Just take a look at documents released by WikiLeaks that prove in black and white how determined the US was to spark unrest in the Middle Eastern country from as early as 2006. One cable listed a number of steps the US could take to weaken Assad and strengthen the opposition against him. Some of the suggestions included encouraging rumors of external plotting to weaken the government, discouraging FDI to hurt the economy and highlighting the failures of some of the country's reform efforts.

The cable also admitted that “anti-regime Syrian Islamists” were a threat to Assad’s power. Fast forward to the present day and these “anti-regime Syrian Islamists” are Washington’s “moderate” rebel friends. It makes for a truly sickening read in light of what has happened in that country.

It’s clear that the US government was encouraging an anti-Assad uprising for years. It's also clear that they were unsure what the consequences of their actions would be, but that they didn't seem to care. Now they’ve got the instability they wanted and it hasn’t gone their way, so naturally, everyone else is to blame and we’re supposed to believe hearts are breaking in Washington for the children of Aleppo.

5-- FBI sent planeload of agents to frame Assange in Iceland, got snubbed by minister  (FBI has become a political tool for eliminating opponents rather than a law enforcement agency)

6--1,217 Militants Surrendered To Govt Forces In Aleppo

7--US Lawmakers Introduce ‘Stop Arming Terrorists Act’ In Answer To Obama Decision To Expand Military Support To ‘Rebels’ In Syria

Few days after US President Barack Obama decided to lift restrictions on arms supplies to militants in Syria, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Washington has introduced a so-called Stop Arming Terrorists Act to protect US taxpayers’ dollars from being spent on supporting and arming terrorist groups in the Middle East and worldwide.
RT reports:
Introduced to the House on Thursday by Democrat Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii, the legislature aims to put an end to the widely-reported US practice of indirectly sponsoring terrorism. In particular, the act seeks to make it illegal for any US government agency to assist extremist groups directly or indirectly in any way shape or form, be it through the sale of weapons, field training, or intelligence assistance.
Furthermore, the act, which is being supported by the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and the US Peace Council, wants to make it illegal for Washington to provide assistance to any third nation that sponsors terrorists.

The submitters of the legislation argue that any nations or individuals cooperating with Al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Al-Nusra Front), or Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), should be barred from US funding.
On the technical side, the legislature calls on the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to compile a list of specific individuals, nation states and terrorist groups which would fall within the terms of the act.
“If you or I gave money, weapons or support to Al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the US government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of Al-Qaeda, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government,” Gabbard said. ...

Jake Tapper: So, you’re saying that the CIA is giving monies to groups in Syria, and those groups are ‘working with’ al-Nusra and ISIS?
Tulsi Gabbard: There are… there’ve been numerous reports, from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal and other news outlets, who have declared that these ‘rebel groups’ have formed these battlefield alliances with Al-Qaeda… that essentially is Al-Qaeda… groups in charge of every single ‘rebel group’ on the ground, fighting to overthrow the Syrian government.
Meanwhile, Wikileaks released a email of Jake Sullivan (was Deputy Assistant to the U.S. President Barack Obama and National Security Advisor to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden) to Hillary Clinton that clearly shows that Washington clearly supported al-Qaeda in Syria for a long time.

8--Americans' Trust in Mass Media Sinks to New Low

9--Pentagon Prepares Tougher Options on Fighting Militants to Show Trump Team    Proposals include limiting White House operational oversight and giving military more tactical authority

The Pentagon is drawing up proposals to offer to the Trump administration designed to intensify the U.S. campaign against Islamic State, including reducing White House oversight of operational decisions and moving some tactical authority back to the Pentagon, U.S. military and congressional officials say.
The options are being assembled in anticipation of demands by Donald Trump and his team, who have called for a tougher military campaign against the extremist group.

Military officials said they are considering presenting options on a number of fronts. They are likely to include easing restrictions on the precise number of American troops needed to carry out a particular mission, and relaxing rules that set the level of Washington review needed before an operation or airstrike may be conducted, officials said.  






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