Thursday, December 14, 2017

Today's links

Trump may be a boor and, at times, an insufferable asshole. But that conduct by him neither excuses nor justifies the FBI, the Department of Justice, the CIA and the NSA from deciding to engage in a deliberate campaign of disinformation. Yes, there was collusion to affect the result of last year's Presidential campaign. But that was done by American citizens who supported Hillary Clinton and collaborated with British intelligence operatives. This was not a diabolical plot hatched by Vladimir Putin. Nope. This was American government officials taking it upon themselves to intervene in the U.S. election in a so far failed attempt to undo the decision voters made on 8 November 2016. Seems to me that pitch forks and torches would be appropriate at this point." 

Publius Tacitus


Witch hunt-- A politically-motivated, often vindictive investigation that feeds on public fears.

Fishing expedition--  any inquiry carried on without any clearly defined plan or purpose in the hope of discovering useful



1--Russiagate BAR

the Republican president-elect was an unpredictable outsider who had rhetorically questioned the bipartisan ruling class consensus on regime change, economic warfare (“free trade” treaties, crippling sanctions) and relentless hostility toward Russia. He would have to be contained, co-opted, or neutralized. Fortunately for the War Party –now decisively Democratic -- Trump is eminently demonizable, and truly deserving of almost any insult

2-- The Foundering Russia-gate ‘Scandal’


As much as the U.S. mainstream media has mocked the idea that an American “deep state” exists and that it has maneuvered to remove Trump from office, the text messages between senior FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page reveal how two high-ranking members of the government’s intelligence/legal bureaucracy saw their role as protecting the United States from an election that might elevate to the presidency someone as unfit as Trump.


3-- When Police Kill White People


Convicting the killer cop would have created cognitive dissonance too great for them to bear. If police killing became a punishable offense, even for a white victim, they would have to examine the basis of allowing all police to carry guns. The United States is unique among the nations that considers it civilized to have cops armed to the teeth.
The imperative to control black bodies began during the period of enslavement, continued through the days of Jim Crow and even intensified when American legal apartheid ended. The vortex can catch white people too, but by and large their group is committed to maintaining their racist system. If their own people are occasional victims then so be it

4-- US weapons went from Syrian rebels to Daesh in less than two months – study


5--NEW NWO. Putin's trifecta: Assad, Sisi and Erdoğan all on the same day. Trapped in their misinformation bubble most Westerners can't see it, but Moscow is establishing a reputation in the rest of the world for competence and reliability. China ditto. The world is readjusting itself. We approach a tipping point, I think, in which the reality can no longer be hidden. I am stunned by the speed of the decline: only a quarter of a century ago the West was triumphant in everything....


Gilbert Doctorow's presentation of his book Does the United States have a future? He starts: "I will explain why a book about the United States failing on the world stage deals so largely with what is happening in Russia." The neocons and their liberal allies, in their overreach, had to attack Russia "Because it has been the only major power to publicly reject the US global hegemony both in word and in deed." Their attempts, ranging from "colour revolutions" to sanctions to regime change in neighbours to Olympic boycotts, have made Russia stronger, more united and more determined and brought Russia and China into close partnership. The ricocheting failure feeds the crescendo of hysteria that is tearing the US polity apart. And the losing wars go on and on. My readers will have noticed that these Sitreps lately have had more to do with Russia-in-the-world and less with Russia internally: Doctorow explains why Russia is now so very central in the geopolitical rebalancing. That was very much not the case when I began the series twenty years ago.


6--Robin Wright admits that the Borg has lost in Syria


7--Where is the outrage? 


The evidence is quite clear. It is no longer a matter of informed speculation that during the final year of Barack Obama's Presidency, key leaders of the intelligence and law enforcement bureaucracies conspired and collaborated to destroy Donald Trump. The latest evidence to emerge comes via an email dump of messages sent and received by a senior FBI Agent Peter Strzok. Strzok was not a low level worker bee covering counter intelligence matters. Nope. He occupied a senior position in the world of counter intelligence. This means he was a frequent visitor to CIA Headquarters and regularly dealt with CIA Director John Brennan.....


Strzok briefed the committee on Dec. 5, 2016, sources said. But within months of that session House Intelligence Committee investigators were contacted by an informant suggesting that there was “documentary evidence” that Strzok was purportedly obstructing the House probe into the dossier....


that is why Strzok played a key role in pushing the sordid, politically suspect Trump dossier as sound intel to justify domestic spying on Donald Trump and his team. All done in the name of saving America. Strzok was not a lone actor in this sedition. We also have Bruce Ohr, a Deputy Attorney General in the Department of Justice and a man directly tied to the Trump dossier. According to several media reports

The House Intelligence Committee  . . ., “has learned that Bruce Ohr, an associate attorney general, not only spoke with dossier writer Christopher Steele but also met after the election with Glenn Simpson, whose Fusion GPS hired Mr. Steele with Democratic Party money.”. . .
According to Fox News, citing Congressional sources, “Simpson and Ohr met sometime around Thanksgiving last year, when President-elect Trump was in the process of selecting his cabinet, and discussed over coffee the anti-Trump dossier, the Russia investigation and what Simpson considered the distressing development of Trump’s victory.”

And then we learned that Ohr's wife, Nellie, worked for Simpson at Fusion GPS and also worked previously for the CIA on Russian matters:
Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr’s duties – including whether she worked on the dossier – remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.

Trump may be a boor and, at times, an insufferable asshole. But that conduct by him neither excuses nor justifies the FBI, the Department of Justice, the CIA and the NSA from deciding to engage in a deliberate campaign of disinformation. Yes, there was collusion to affect the result of last year's Presidential campaign. But that was done by American citizens who supported Hillary Clinton and collaborated with British intelligence operatives. This was not a diabolical plot hatched by Vladimir Putin. Nope. This was American government officials taking it upon themselves to intervene in the U.S. election in a so far failed attempt to undo the decision voters made on 8 November 2016. Seems to me that pitch forks and torches would be appropriate at this point.

8--Lessons of the Alabama election


9--Outgoing Fed chair Yellen brushes off financial warning signs


10-- Bitcoin frenzy: The fever chart of a deepening crisis



Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Today's links

1-- Why has Time magazine endorsed the #MeToo “revolution”? (Today's "must read")


“Decades of identity politics have disoriented and corrupted social thought. The displacement of the scientific evaluation of society on the basis of class with the flimflam of gender and race has lowered social consciousness.”...


By its action, Time has simply confirmed the fact that the #MeToo movement has the official backing of important portions of the American ruling elite....


what sort of “revolution” receives the benediction of Time, one of the leading mouthpieces of the American establishment for more than 90 years?


he weekly news magazine has been an ardent defender of US imperialist interests for the entirety of its existence. Henry Luce, Time’s founder and longtime owner, and eventually one of the wealthiest men in America, was particularly close to the Central Intelligence Agency. He was a “good friend” of Allen Dulles—the agency’s director from 1953 to 1961—and “readily allowed certain members of his staff to work for the Agency and agreed to provide jobs and credentials for other CIA operatives who lacked journalistic experience” (Carl Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media,” Rolling Stone, 1977). There is no reason to believe that Time’s friendly relationship with the US government’s “Murder Inc.” has ended.

Why has this thoroughly compromised publication decided to honor “The Silence Breakers”?
As far as some of the more politically sensitive sections of the American ruling class are concerned, the current sexual misconduct scandals have two principal benefits. First, the purge of prominent figures in Hollywood, Washington and elsewhere on the mere say-so of accusers is another step on the road to authoritarian rule and the destruction of elementary democratic rights. Justified for nearly 20 years by the “war on terror” and other “national security” concerns, the assault on constitutionally guaranteed rights is far advanced. Individuals have been detained and tortured, drone missiles launched, “kill lists” drawn up, wars organized, and entire countries devastated without legal authorization and behind the backs of the American population.

The “gender cleansing” taking place, in which familiar and even popular personalities disappear (literally) overnight, McCarthyite-style, without having the right to defend themselves, often on the basis of anonymous accusations, has to be seen in this anti-democratic framework. One of the aims of the new repression is to create a climate of fear and intimidation. “Sexual predators”—and even “serial daters”!—may be the target at the moment, but in the longer term, the authorities have political dissidents and left-wing opponents of the status quo in their sights....

(Hillary) Clinton’s reactionary intervention in the Brock Turner case at Stanford University in June 2016, and the entire media storm around that affair, had that specific aim in mind. The public was meant to understand that Clinton too could find the case “heartbreaking.” Never mind that this was a blood-soaked warmonger firmly in the pocket of Wall Street. Her empathy as a woman provided her with “progressive” credentials. The Time Person of the Year award is an extension of this rotten propaganda campaign....

The collectively decisive transactions that people have are socioeconomic ones and reflect their relations to the dominant economic state of affairs, to what Frederick Engels termed “the stubborn facts of the existing system of production.” In fact, the degree to which “nature” and biology immediately influence the outcome of women’s lives in the US has dramatically declined in recent decades. Individual women may tragically have their lives traumatized, devastated or even destroyed by sexual violence, but that is not the universal or even nearly universal experience. The far more common experience is direct capitalist exploitation and economic violence. In the US, women accounted for 18 percent of the labor force in 1900. As of 2015, women accounted for 47 percent of the American labor force, or 73,000,000 women, and some 49.3 percent of all jobs (because so many women have more than one job)....

The contention that women of all social classes should unite out of fear of male sexual violence and subordinate themselves to bourgeois feminist (and, in fact, Democratic Party) politics arises, appropriately enough, at a time when the social polarization of the female population itself has reached new heights, i.e., when class antagonisms among women are more stark and dramatic than at any point in history.
This is not a subject the feminist movement cares to address. As Kathleen Geier observed, tellingly, in the Nation in November 2016, “Class differences among women are an all but taboo subject.”...

Ruth Milkman, professor of sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center, wrote in 2017 in The Sociologist, “Class inequalities among women are greater than ever before. Highly educated, upper-middle class women—a group that is vastly overrepresented in both media depictions of women at work and in the wider political discourse about gender inequality—have far better opportunities than their counterparts in earlier generations did. Yet their experience is a world apart from that of the much larger numbers of women workers who struggle to make ends meet in poorly-paid clerical, retail, restaurant, and hotel jobs; in hospitals and nursing homes; or as housekeepers, nannies, and home care workers.”...

Aside from the occasional lip service, the identity politics warriors have no interest in the needs or fate of working class women, whose conditions have deteriorated, along with those of working class men, for decades. Tens of millions of working class women remain stuck in low-paid, dead-end, often grueling jobs. In 2013, for example, according to the Department of Labor, some 72 percent of cashiers were female (median weekly earnings, $379, or $19,708 yearly), 88 percent of maids and housekeeping cleaners ($406 a week), 95 percent of childcare workers ($418 a week), 84 percent of personal care aides ($445 a week) and 89 percent of teacher assistants ($475 a week).
Neither the Democratic Party officialdom, the New York Times or Time magazine, nor any of the “Me Too” sex vigilantes and media personalities raise the urgent problems of poverty wages, health care and abortion rights, affordable childcare, public education or immigrants’ rights....

The struggle against all forms of violence against women is the struggle for the unity of the working class and socialism.

2--Fear of Corbyn driving politics in UK

However, opinion in financial and business circles remains deeply divided over whether Labour can be trusted to replace the Tories.

Corbyn’s anti-austerity rhetoric is anathema to the financial oligarchy—not primarily because of the policies formally advanced, but because Labour can only come to power through a political shift to the left among workers and young people. Having done so, will Labour be able to play the same role as Syriza did in Greece—promising austerity only then to impose it, or will the expectations raised among millions breech the political firewall of a Corbyn government?

A report by Morgan Stanley on the European Economic Outlook warns that it is now “likely” Britain will have a general election in 2018, but a Corbyn government is a greater threat to the UK economy than a “hard Brexit”.

“From a UK investor perspective, we believe that the domestic political situation is at least as significant as Brexit, given the fragile state of the current government and the perceived risks of an incoming Labour administration that could potentially embark on a radical change in policy direction”, the report declared....

The Financial Times asks, “Can business learn to live with a ‘hard-left’ Labour?” It cites warnings from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) that plans to nationalise the rail, energy and water industries and the Royal Mail would “send investors running for the hills”.

Another FT article, “Money managers nervous over prospect of PM Corbyn,” quotes Bobby Vedral, a banker partner at Goldman Sachs, declaring that a Corbyn win would make the UK like “Cuba without the sunshine,” and Edi Truell, a private equity investor, “who has already taken his entire £250m family fortune out of the UK and moved it to Switzerland.”

Corbyn’s response to such attacks was to issue a video via Twitter in which he said, “Bankers like Morgan Stanley should not run our country but they think they do… So when they say we’re a threat, they’re right: We’re a threat to a damaging and failed system that is rigged for the few.”...

From the standpoint of a defence of the social and economic interests of the working class and the young people whose hopes they have aroused, Corbyn and McDonnell’s gaseous leftism counts for nothing.
...Labour in office would function as the conscious and willing defender of the interests of British imperialism. It will betray its promises to working people of social and economic change, just as surely as its historical and international counterparts and pave the way for yet more savage attacks on living standards, democratic rights and a steeper descent into militarism and war

3--Ex CIA chief on Trump, Putin and Mueller

... an array of career spooks have come out of the shadows where they spent their careers to challenge the commander-in-chief in once unthinkably public terms...

Morell acknowledges that he and other spy-world critics of the president failed to fully “think through” the negative backlash generated by their going political. “There was a significant downside,” Morell said in the interview.....

in August of 2016, when I became political, when I endorsed Hillary Clinton with an op-ed in The New York Times,  ...

let’s put ourselves here in Donald Trump’s shoes. So, what does he see? Right? He sees a former director of CIA and a former director of NSA, Mike Hayden, who I have the greatest respect for, criticizing him and his policies. Right? And he could rightfully have said, “Huh, what’s going on with these intelligence guys?” Right?
Glasser: It embroiders his narrative.
Morell: Exactly. And then he sees a former acting director and deputy director of CIA criticizing him and endorsing his opponent...

The current director at the time, John Brennan, during the campaign occasionally would push back on things that Donald Trump had said...

hen people in the intelligence community—particularly people in CIA, because for every other part of the intelligence community except CIA, you’re working for a cabinet member. At CIA, you are working for the president of the United States. That is your customer. Right? 

I think in the early Putin days as president, and then certainly when Medvedev was president and Putin was prime minister, Russia was not what it is today. We were interacting with them in a much more normal way—we being the United States and Europe. It was only when Putin came back the second time as president, that the behavior started to turn, and turned significantly back towards what was essentially Russian behavior during the Cold War, which is challenge the United States everywhere you can in the world, and do whatever you can to undermine what they’re trying to accomplish. Do whatever you can to weaken them.

They’re being extraordinarily aggressive with regard to that. And that was a change. That wasn’t Vladimir Putin from day one. 


Glasser: That’s very interesting to me, because Russia did invade Georgia in 2008, before Putin returned officially to the presidency.
And I think the Obama White House arguably staked its Russia policy on the view that you are expounding, that somehow Russia was more amenable to us, and then with Putin’s return to power, that it changed in some marked way. 


Morrell:  Georgia was a turning point. I think Georgia was a really important moment, and maybe that should have been the wakeup call, you know, that moment where he was willing to invade a neighbor....


It is possible at that moment, that Steve Bannon and Steve Miller and Sebastian Gorka walked into Trump’s office in Trump Tower and said, “You know, you’re being criticized for what you said about Putin and Russia, but, boss, you’re right. Right? You’re absolutely right, and let us give you the intellectual context in which to think about this. And the intellectual context in which to think about it is, we actually need Russia as a partner, to push back against the two biggest threats that we see.”

Glasser: Right. China, yes.
Morell: Bannon, Miller and Gorka. China and Islamic extremism. And, Russia, a white, Christian country, fits—
Glasser: Their worldview.
Morell: Their worldview. Right? So, Putin might have played him, and then Bannon gives him an intellectual framework to say, “You’re right. Keep talking about this.” So, that is the totally benign view.
Am I open to the possibility that there is a malign view? Absolutely. I don’t discard that. I’ve been criticized by some people on the left for saying I don’t see any evidence here of a crime. I still don’t see any evidence of a crime. It doesn’t mean there is any. I just don’t see it....

Morell: So, let’s talk about what I think the possibilities are, going forward. So, I would not be surprised if Bob Mueller concludes that the Trump campaign did not violate the law with regard to its interactions with the Russians. I’m really open to that possibility. Why? Because, as you know, The New York Times, The Washington Post, every media outlet that is worth its salt has reporters digging into this, and they haven’t found anything.
And I think that, had there been something there, they would have found something. And I think Bob Mueller would have found it already and it would have leaked.
So, I’m really open to the possibility that there’s no there there on a crime being committed by the campaign and the Russians. Right? That interaction leading to criminal charges...

every FBI investigation that I’ve ever had visibility into or been involved in, the people who they’re looking at actually don’t end up getting charged with the crime they were being investigated for. They get charged with something else. Right? And that something else in this case could be the laundering of Russian organized crime funds. And if that was done by the Trump organization—if that was done knowingly—it’s a criminal violation.  ...

The fourth thing I’d say is, the obstruction of justice issue. In my view, when I read the statute, boy, it looks—you know, it looks like you could make a case. Now, the hard part is intent. Right? You have to intend to violate the statute. You have to intend to obstruct justice. That’s the difficult piece to prove here.
You need something on paper, or you need somebody who heard the president say something about what he was trying to do here, or you need him to tell you that. Right? Well, he’s not going to do that. And so, while it looks like it to all of us, that that’s what he was trying to do—you’ve got to get to that intent part, and that’s what’s hard from a criminal perspective

(on Kim Jong Un) Morell: He is. He is most definitely a rational actor. Within his worldview, right?

4--McCabe Cancels Testimony, Something "Far More Sinister" With Fusion GPS


5--US holds massive military drills aimed at North Korea despite warnings from Moscow



Monday, December 11, 2017

Today's Links

"No matter your views on those political controversies, no matter how much you hate Trump or regard Russia as a grave villain and threat to our cherished democracy and freedoms, it has to be acknowledged that when the U.S. media is spewing constant false news about all of this, that, too, is a grave threat to our democracy and cherished freedom."

Glenn Greenwald  

1--Barack Obama's Parting Gift to Donald Trump Was Mike Flynn

I can tell you from personal firsthand experience that nobody should ever, EVER, talk to the FBI, at least without an attorney sitting right next to you. FBI agents will lie, cheat, and deceive to get you to trip yourself up in your response to their questions. Even if you don’t remember what you said in some particular conversation months or years ago, or if your recollection is fuzzy, they will charge you with a felony for “making a false statement.” That’s the leverage that they want over you....

In the greater scheme of things, Mike Flynn is a small fish. His son, Mike Jr., who was also implicated in the case, is a smaller fish. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has Jared Kushner in his sights. He has Donald Trump Jr. in his sights. Eventually, he wants to get the president, if the evidence leads him there. Mike Flynn can give him that evidence. That’s why he made an agreement to plead guilty to that false statements charge. He likely won’t see any prison time, and his son won’t be charged with any crime at all. In exchange, the Flynns, along with George Papadopoulos and, probably, Richard Gates, will all be free to rat out Kushner and the Trumps. That’s the end game.

2--National Democrats Resist Reforms

With the purged Rules and Bylaws Committee now overwhelmingly stacked against progressives, only massive pressure from the grassroots will be able to sustain momentum toward a democratic Democratic Party. Meanwhile, corporate forces will do all they can to prevent the Democratic Party from living up to its first name....

Now, in the words of Jim Zogby (who was removed from the Executive Committee by Perez), “There are virtually no Bernie supporters on the Rules and Bylaws Committee.”

“We are fighting for racial, social, economic, and environmental justice. The Democratic Party needs everyone, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, country of origin, language, or socioeconomic status, to be deeply involved in order to change the course of this country.”

For those reasons, he added, “we are calling for an end to superdelegates, [for] open primaries and caucuses, [for] same-day registration, and [for] more transparent, fair, and accountable leadership at the helm of the DNC.”

Overall, the commission approved some recommendations that were partial victories for progressives. Among the most notable: It called for reducing the number of notoriously undemocratic superdelegates to the national convention from 712 to about 300, while the only democratic number would be zero. [Superdelegates are party insiders who are not chosen through a primary or caucus but nevertheless get to vote for the party’s nominees. In 2016, they broke overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton.

3-- More Russiagate absurdities

The result of all this impressive activity?  Precisely nothing.  Here is what Senator Richard Burr, its Republican chairman, had to say

There are concerns that we continue to pursue. Collusion?  The committee continues to look into all evidence to see if there was any hint of collusion. Now, I’m not going to even discuss any initial findings because we haven’t any...

The scandal has paralysed the foreign policy of the US government as Donald Trump’s signature policy upon which he was elected – rapprochement with Russia – has been blocked because of a concocted scandal with no substance behind it. 

WASHINGTON—The Pentagon plans to keep some U.S. forces in Syria indefinitely, even after a war against the Islamic State extremist group formally ends, to take part in what it describes as ongoing counterterrorism operations, officials said. There are approximately 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, along with an unspecified number of contractors supporting them. Last month, the U.S. military withdrew 400 Marines from Syria, which U.S. forces first entered in the fall of 2016.

U.S. defense officials stressed there would be no large, permanent bases in Syria of the kind the U.S. maintains in places like Germany and South Korea. Instead, troops will be assigned to smaller bases and outposts. In some instances, troops will deploy temporarily from other bases in the region for specific missions, one of the defense officials said. It isn’t clear how many forces would stay in the country.

The Times article published Saturday was written as a brief for the US military intervention in Syria and a more aggressive American confrontation with Russia for dominance in the Middle East. The Pentagon recently acknowledged that over 2,000 US troops are presently deployed inside Syria—more than four times the number previously admitted—and indicated that there is no intention of withdrawing them after their ostensible mission of defeating ISIS is completed....

Washington has intervened in Syria with the diametrically opposed objective of continuing the drive for regime change that it began in 2011 by fomenting a sectarian-based insurgency relying on Sunni Islamist militias funded and armed by the CIA, Turkey Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni Gulf oil sheikdoms. With the defeat of these Al Qaeda-linked elements, US imperialism has backed a new proxy ground force, the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is wholly dominated by the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. This in turn has heightened tensions in the region, particularly with Turkey, which regards the YPG as an extension of the Turkish Kurdish PKK, against which Ankara has waged a bloody counterinsurgency campaign for decades....

the former official spokesman for the SDF, Talal Silo, who defected to Turkey late last month, told the Reuters news agency that the US had approved the evacuation of thousands of ISIS fighters from the besieged city Raqqa in October. He said that some 4,000 people were bused out of the city, all but about 500 of them ISIS fighters.
Silo’s account confirmed an earlier report by the BBC, which quoted sources who participated in this exodus as stating that the convoy transporting the ISIS members, along with large quantities of arms and ammunition, was some four miles long, including 50 trucks, 13 buses and 100 ISIS vehicles.
Silo told the news agency that the claim by the Pentagon and its proxy forces that a fierce battle was taking place inside Raqqa “was all theater,” designed to keep journalists away from the city during the evacuation.
He said that Washington’s support for the evacuation was driven by its determination to quickly end the Raqqa siege and redeploy the Kurdish militia and its US special operations “advisers” to Deir Ezzor province, the center of Syria’s oil and gas reserves as well as the country’s border with Iraq. The US aim was to cut off the border and thereby disrupt Iranian influence by blocking its land access to Syria.
In a separate interview with the Turkish media, Silo said that according to the US plan, “the [ISIS] terrorists would go to Al-Bukamal [near the Iraqi border] and prevent the regime’s advance.”
The former SDF spokesman said that Raqqa was not the first time the US and its proxies had facilitated the escape of ISIS forces, but rather the third. In the capture of Manbij in northern Aleppo province in 2016, he said, 2,000 ISIS members were evacuated. “The SDF, the U.S. and Manbij Military Council provided security for Daesh [ISIS] members and allowed them to go towards Jarablus. This was the first agreement,” he said.
Subsequently, during the siege of Al Tabqah, on the Euphrates River, the US and its proxy force negotiated the evacuation of 500 ISIS fighters. In both cases, the Islamists were allowed to leave with their weapons and ammunition.
The testimony of Silo, who collaborated closely with top US officials and military commanders in Syria, is another damning exposure of the “war on terrorism.” ISIS, itself a product of Washington’s intervention in the Middle East, has served as another instrument of American military aggression aimed at asserting US imperialist dominance over the oil-rich region.

” average hourly earnings rose only 0.2 percent, or five cents, to $26.55 an hour, from a downwardly revised 0.1 percent drop in wages in October. Year-to-year wage increases in November were only 64 cents, or 2.5 percent. If wages rise by another nickel in December, yearly salaries will be up a mere 2.4 percent in 2017, barely above the official projected inflation rate of 2.0 percent....

Economic analysts have pointed to anemic wage growth, euphemistically called weak “inflationary pressure,” as a major factor in the determination of the Federal Reserve to continue pumping up the stock market with cheap credit. Although most economists expect a modest interest rate hike at the Fed’s meeting Wednesday, Jerome Powell, President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Federal Reserve, made clear last month at his Senate confirmation hearing that he would keep rates at historically low levels. At the same time, he assured the senators that there was little danger of a wages push because of continuing “slackness” in the labor market, i.e., an ample supply of workers desperate for full-time employment.
Other analysts agree. “Wage growth has been muted thus far,” especially given the “very healthy pace of job creation,” said Michelle Meyer, head of US economics at Bank of America. “It’s been the story throughout the course of this year.”...

According to the government, 6.6 million workers in the US remain unemployed, including 1.6 million, or nearly one out of four jobless people, who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more. Another 4.8 million were forced to work part-time last month although they want full-time work, and 1.8 million were “marginally attached” to the labor force. The latter want to work but did not search for employment in the four weeks preceding the survey and were therefore not counted as “unemployed.”
The labor force participation rate, or share of working-age people in the labor force, remained at 62.7 percent in November. However, just 79 percent of the prime-age work force, aged 25 to 54, is actually working—below the rate before the 2008 financial crash 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Today's links

WSWS on the "Me Too"  

"Genuine revolutions are not launched by the New York Times, backed by the Democratic Party, and honored by Time magazine. Nor do they legitimize the suppression of core democratic rights...", David North, wsws

1--Operation Paperclip: Nazi Science Heads West, Cockburn and St Clair

By 1946 a rationale based on Cold War strategy was becoming more important. Nazis were needed in the struggle against Communism, and their capabilities certainly had to be withheld from the Soviets. In September 1946 President Harry Truman approved the Dulles-inspired Paperclip project, whose mission was to bring no less than 1,000 Nazi scientists to the United States. Among them were many of the vilest criminals of the war: there were doctors from Dachau concentration camp who had killed prisoners by putting them through high altitude tests, who had freezed their victims and given them massive doses of salt water to research the process of drowning. There were the chemical weapons engineers such as Kurt Blome, who had tested Sarin nerve gas on prisoners at Auschwitz. There were doctors who instigated battlefield traumas by taking women prisoners at Ravensbrück and filling their wounds with gangrene cultures, sawdust, mustard gas, and glass, then sewing them up and treating some with doses of sulfa drugs while timing others to see how long it took for them to develop lethal cases of gangrene....

One of the more despicable cases was that of Nazi aviation researcher Emil Salmon, who during the war had helped set fire to a synagogue filled with Jewish women and children. Salmon was sheltered by US officials at Wright Air Force Base in Ohio after being convicted of crimes by a denazification court in Germany.

Nazis were not the only scientists sought out by US intelligence agents after the end of World War II. In Japan the US Army put on its payroll Dr. Shiro Ishii, the head of the Japanese Imperial Army’s biowarfare unit. Dr. Ishii had deployed a wide range of biological and chemical agents against Chinese and Allied troops, and had also operated a large research center in Manchuria, where he conducted bio-weapons experiments on Chinese, Russian and American prisoners of war. Ishii infected prisoners with tetanus; gave them typhoid-laced tomatoes; developed plague-infected fleas; infected women with syphilis; and exploded germ bombs over dozens of POWs tied to stakes. Among other atrocities, Ishii’s records show that he often performed “autopsies” on live victims. In a deal hatched by General Douglas MacArthur, Ishii turned over more than 10,000 pages of his “research findings” to the US Army, avoided prosecution for war crimes and was invited to lecture at Ft. Detrick, the US Army bio-weapons research center near Frederick, Maryland...

There was an inconvenient hiatus when Blome was arrested and tried at Nuremberg for medical war crimes, including the deliberate infecting of hundreds of prisoners from the Polish underground with TB and bubonic plague. But fortunately for the Nazi man of science, US Army Intelligence and the OSS withheld incriminating documents they had acquired through their interrogation. The evidence would not only have demonstrated Blome’s guilt but also his supervising role in constructing a German CBW lab to test chemical and biological weapons for use on Allied troops. Blome got off...

Pash pored over the work of the Nazi doctors at Dachau for useful leads in the most efficient methods of extracting information, including speech-inducing drugs, electro-shock, hypnosis and psycho-surgery. During the time Pash headed up PB/7 the CIA began pouring money into Project Bluebird, an effort to duplicate and extend the Dachau research. But instead of mescalin the CIA turned to LSD, which had been developed by the Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman....

More than 7,000 US soldiers were the unwitting objects of this medical experimentation. The men would be ordered to ride exercise cycles with oxygen masks on their faces, into which a variety of hallucinogenic drugs had been sprayed, including LSD, mescalin, BZ (a hallucinogen) and SNA (sernyl, a relative of PCP, otherwise known on the street as angel dust). One of the aims of this research was to induce a state of total amnesia. This objective was attained in the case of several subjects. More than one thousand of the soldiers who enlisted in the experiments emerged with serious psychological afflictions and epilepsy: dozens attempted suicide....

Few examples of the readiness of US intelligence agencies to experiment on unknowing subjects are more vivid than the foray of the national security establishment into researches on the effects of radiation exposure   Among such fieldwork thus classified as secret were five different experiments overseen by the CIA, the Atomic Energy Commission and the Department of Defense involving the injection of plutonium into at least eighteen people, mainly black and poor, without informed consent. There were thirteen deliberate releases of radioactive material over US and Canadian cities between 1948 and 1952 to study fallout patterns and the decay of radioactive particles...

The story of the recruitment of Nazi scientists and warfare technicians by the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency is told in two excellent but unjustly neglected books: Tom Bower’s The Paperclip Conspiracy: the Hunt for the Nazi Scientists and Linda Hunt’s Secret Agenda. Hunt’s reporting, in particular, is first rate

2--Trump's Decision on Israel Will Torpedo US Influence in Muslim World

The expected announcement by President Trump that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move the US embassy there could mark a critical stage in the reduction of US influence in the world. Seldom, if ever, has such an important US policy initiative been so universally criticized or condemned by almost every country in the world.

3--America’s latest “Scarlet Letter” moment

The “Me Too” campaign is reactionary to the core. It has no progressive content. There are many forms of sexual harassment, which extend from the annoying to the legally actionable to the outright criminal. But a vast range of activities, including many that reflect the ambiguities and complexities of human interactions, is being described as malevolent and even criminal.
The all-inclusive and reckless use of the term “sexual harassment” has the effect of obscuring the chasm between the amorphous catch-all called the “unwanted advance” (request for a date, complimenting another person for his or her looks, and, heaven forbid, indicating sexual interest) with a physically violent assault.

Senator Al Franken announced his resignation Thursday after coming under immense pressure from the Democratic Party. Even Senator Joseph McCarthy was not forced out of the Senate, although his anti-communist witch-hunt violated the Constitution and claimed hundreds of victims. The Senate took the exceptional decision to censure McCarthy for his crimes, but left the Wisconsin Republican at his seat until his death in 1957....

Progressive social movements have certain essential characteristics, of which the most significant is their broadly egalitarian and democratic content. In the modern world, they are invariably and inseparably connected with the struggle of the working class against capitalist exploitation. Progressive movements strive to elevate, rather than debase, popular consciousness. When fighting injustice, they direct attention toward the underlying social causes of that which is being fought.

The “Me Too” movement exhibits none of these characteristics. Its social base is not the working class, but the more affluent sections of the middle class. As the World Socialist Web Site has often explained, there is dissatisfaction within these layers with the distribution of wealth at the top. They want access to privileges and wealth, and are prepared to use any means to obtain it. This accounts for the contempt for elemental democratic rights and sheer vindictiveness that finds expression in the statements of the Post, the Times and other leaders of this campaign....

The “Me Too” movement has not brought to the discussion of sex an iota of intelligent discourse. Determined to introduce as much distrust and fear as possible into human relationships, it offers only stupid and malicious denunciations of “men in general”—“predators”—and their supposedly raging and uncontrollable beast-like passions. ...

It has nothing to say about imperialist wars, the suppression of democratic rights and poverty. Aside from the occasional and palpably insincere invocation of working women, the “Me Too” movement is concerned not with what is happening on the factory floor, but, rather, with the power politics of the executive suite. As the Guardian’s Hadley Freeman recently declared: “Or, hey, here’s another idea! How about if only women get the big top jobs for the next, let’s say, 1,000 days?”
What about the concerns of working women? Access to health care and abortion, childcare facilities, decent schools, affordable housing, safe neighborhoods, freedom from deportation? These issues are ignored because they cut across the pro-capitalist agenda of the “Me Too” scam....

Genuine revolutions are not launched by the New York Times, backed by the Democratic Party, and honored by Time magazine. Nor do they legitimize the suppression of core democratic rights...

What is all but obvious—that the “Me Too” campaign is embedded in the identity politics strategy of the Democratic Party—is somehow not noticed. The connection with the “fake news” campaign,” the anti-Russia hysteria and the calls for Internet censorship is missed. The fate of Julian Assange—the victim of a set-up using fraudulent allegations of rape—has been all but forgotten. Despite the many examples of false accusations of rape, the absurd claim that the woman accuser must always be believed is accepted.

Franken’s resignation has prompted a series of self-congratulatory comments that display a striking absence of democratic consciousness.
The Washington Post’s Ana Marie Cox wrote an article December 7 titled “Al Franken isn’t being denied due process. None of these famous men are.”
“Let’s not dither about the dangers of proclaiming guilt or innocence,” she writes, arguing that only the guilty, the complicit, or the political right-wing hide behind claims of due process violations.

The New York Times editorial board celebrated Franken’s resignation Thursday afternoon, writing: “We are in the middle of a stunning and welcome cultural shift… We are witnessing a long-overdue moral reckoning that—dare we hope?—could drive real change.”

4--US jets tried to hinder victory over Daesh in Syria: Russia's military

5--When Washington Cheered the Jihadists

Official Washington helped unleash hell on Syria and across the Mideast behind the naïve belief that jihadist proxies could be used to transform the region for the better, explains Daniel Lazare.

6--Mueller should step down, WSJ


8--Collusion Conspiracy Continues To Collapse - Rep. Nunes Cleared In Russian Leak Probe

9--Confidence in Institutions, Gallup

10--New allegations of bias dog Mueller Russia probe, Tucker

11--Conflicts within US ruling class intensify following Flynn guilty plea

Even as they have intensified their efforts to brand Trump a traitor and a Russian agent, the Democrats have avoided any opposition to his right-wing domestic policies. As Congress moves to pass Trump’s tax bill—a handout to the financial elite that will set the stage for major cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—the Democrats have done nothing to oppose its passage. They have held no hearings on its contents and called no demonstrations.
Rather, the Democrats’ dispute with Trump is centered on their concern that his administration has undermined the fundamental foreign policy interests of US imperialism....

The eruption of ferocious conflicts within the states is the expression, however, of a deeper disease, for which the ruling class has no solution. If Trump’s ruling class critics were to succeed in removing him, it would not resolve the crisis of class rule that is engulfing the United States. It would place in power a government even more firmly under the control of the military-intelligence apparatus, committed to continuing the offensive against the working class and escalating the military confrontation with Russia....

There is not, however, an ounce of democratic or progressive content to this campaign. The conflicts in Washington are conflicts within the ruling class, pitting the Trump administration—which is increasingly relying on far-right and fascistic forces—with powerful elements of the military and intelligence apparatus with which the Democratic Party is aligned.
Significantly, Democratic Congressman Al Green on Thursday moved a vote in the House of Representatives to bring articles of impeachment against Trump, which was overwhelmingly rejected by congressional Democrats and unanimously by Republicans. Unlike Mueller’s investigation, Green’s proposal was based on the president’s defense of white supremacists in Charlottesville and his re-tweeting of anti-Muslim videos previously posted by British fascists

12--Trump White House Weighing Plans for Private Spies to Counter “Deep State” Enemies

13--Trump tax cut plan will devastate public education

Random Notes and links:  senate takes aim at SS

Nunes originally had given the agencies until “close of business” on Monday to “fully” comply with the panel’s demands. Otherwise, he threatened to move a contempt of Congress resolution against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Strzok is a focus of their efforts. House investigators have long regarded him as a key figure in the chain of events when the bureau, in 2016, received the infamous anti-Trump "dossier" and launched a counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling in the election that ultimately came to encompass FISA surveillance of a Trump campaign associate.

Nunes has sought documents and witnesses from the DOJ and FBI to determine what role, if any, the dossier played in the move to direct the surveillance

Strzok briefed the committee on Dec. 5, 2016, sources said. But within months of that session, House Intelligence Committee investigators were contacted by an informant suggesting that there was “documentary evidence” that Strzok was purportedly obstructing the House probe into the dossier.
In early October, Nunes personally asked Rosenstein – who has overseen the Trump-Russia probe since the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions – to make Strzok available to the committee for questioning, sources said.
When a month had elapsed, House investigators – having issued three subpoenas for various witnesses and documents – formally recommended to Nunes that the DOJ and FBI be held in contempt of Congress. Nunes continued pressing the DOJ, including a conversation with Rosenstein as recently as last Wednesday.
Responding to the revelations about Strzok’s texts, Nunes said Saturday he was directing his staff to draft contempt-of-Congress citations against Rosenstein and Wra
strzok tucker
using the criminal justice system to attack political enemies

Mueller knew, for instance, that Vice President Dick Cheney’s claims connecting 9/11 to Iraq were bogus yet he remained quiet. He also never responded to my email.
Beyond ignoring politicized intelligence, Mueller bent to other political pressures. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Mueller directed the “post 9/11 round-up” of about 1,000 immigrants who mostly happened to be in the wrong place (the New York City area) at the wrong time. FBI Headquarters encouraged more and more detentions for what seemed to be essentially P.R. purposes. Field offices were required to report daily the number of detentions in order to supply grist for FBI press releases about FBI “progress” in fighting terrorism. Consequently, some of the detainees were brutalized and jailed for up to a year despite the fact that none turned out to be terrorists....

Current media applause omits the fact that former FBI Director Mueller was the top official in charge of the Anthrax terror fiasco investigation into those 2001 murders, which targeted an innocent man (Steven Hatfill) whose lawsuit eventually forced the FBI to pay $5 million in compensation. Mueller’s FBI was also severely criticized by Department of Justice Inspector Generals finding the FBI overstepped the law improperly serving hundreds of thousands of “national security letters” to obtain private (and irrelevant) metadata on citizens, and for infiltrating nonviolent anti-war groups under the guise of investigating “terrorism.”
For his part, Deputy Attorney General James Comey, too, went along with the abuses of Bush and Cheney after 9/11 and signed off on a number of highly illegal programs including warrantless surveillance of Americans and torture of captives. Comey also defended the Bush Administration’s three-year-long detention of an American citizen without charges or right to counsel.

Up to the March 2004 night in Attorney General John Ashcroft’s hospital room, both Comey and Mueller were complicit with implementing a form of martial law, perpetrated via secret Office of Legal Counsel memos mainly written by John Yoo and predicated upon Yoo’s singular theories of absolute “imperial” or “war presidency” powers, and requiring Ashcroft every 90 days to renew certification of a “state of emergency.”

Mueller was even okay with the CIA conducting torture programs after his own agents warned against participation. Agents were simply instructed not to document such torture, and any “war crimes files” were made to disappear. Not only did “collect it all” surveillance and torture programs continue, but Mueller’s (and then Comey’s) FBI later worked to prosecute NSA and CIA whistleblowers who revealed these illegalities...

the two close confidants and collaborators merely proved themselves, along with former CIA Director George “Slam Dunk” Tenet, reliably politicized sycophants, enmeshing themselves in a series of wrongful abuses of power along with official incompetence.
It seems clear that based on his history and close “partnership” with Comey, called “one of the closest working relationships the top ranks of the Justice Department have ever seen,” Mueller was chosen as Special Counsel not because he has integrity but because he will do what the powerful want him to do.
Mueller didn’t speak the truth about a war he knew to be unjustified. He didn’t speak out against torture. He didn’t speak out against unconstitutional surveillance. And he didn’t tell the truth about 9/11