Sunday, December 31, 2017

Today's Links

It's not a swamp, it's an ocean of corruption, waste, thievery all designed to protect and enrich the incumbent establishment. And it's all covered with a phony patina of patriotism and expertise.

Mathew Hoh--Our policy has become to terrorize people into subjugation.  And this ties into what Trump said on the campaign trail.  Trump said a number of times that he was going to “take the gloves off,” that our wars were too politically correct, that we should be killing the families of terrorists and destroying their homes, etc.

1-- Looks Like FBI or McCain May Have Paid for the 16th Report of the Steele Dossier

On behalf of Senator McCain, Mr. Kramer requested to be provided with any further intelligence gathered by the Defendants about alleged Russian interference in the U.S. Presidential election.
A new report was prepared by Christopher Steele and carries the date, 13 December 2016 (that was a Tuesday). According to the court filing that document, dated 13 December, was sent to Senator McCain via David Kramer sometime on or after the 13th of December. Now we know why the House Intelligence Committee is going to question Mr. Kramer under oath. Why would Christopher Steele prepare a new report for free? Was he paid? If so, by whom?

...Why is the 16th report important? Because it was that report that was used as principal justification for the FISA court application to spy on Donald Trump and his people...

Here's another bombshell (ignored by the mainstream media) courtesy of Rowan Scarborough. The contents of the dossier were briefed on background to the media:
At the request of Fusion GPS, the investigative firm hired by Democrats to handle and pay Mr. Steele, the former spy said he briefed The New York Times, The Washington Post, Yahoo News, The New Yorker and CNN in person. He later briefed Mother Jones magazine via Skype.

The Trump administration is drastically cutting back fines against nursing home owners that have been cited for violations against elderly patients......In keeping with the administration’s slashing of rules and regulations which impinge on the profiteering of big business, under new rules Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulators are now being discouraged from giving nursing homes fines if a violation—even for the most serious cases of mistreatment—was a “one-time mistake,” according to the Times.
Since 2013, nearly 6,500 nursing homes, or four of every 10, have been cited at least once for a serious violation, according to federal records. According to Kaiser Health News (KHN), basic steps to prevent infections—such as washing hands, isolation of contagious patients and keeping sick nurses and aides away from residents—are routinely ignored in nursing homes across the US...nursing homes are being given less than a slap on the wrist for serious violations endangering patients’ live...

3-- Mueller, FBI face crisis in public confidence

Sixty-three percent of polled voters believe that the FBI has been resisting providing information to Congress on the Clinton and Trump investigations. This is a remarkable finding for an agency whose new head said a few days ago that the agency was in fine shape. No, it isn’t.

Fifty-four percent say special counsel Robert Mueller has conflicts of interest that prevent him from doing an unbiased job, also according to this month’s Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll. So, given this finding, the silence from the special counsel on the subject has become downright deafening.

These are significant findings about an operation that was supposed to bring more objectivity and less partisanship to the Trump-Russia investigation. Clearly these numbers indicate that there is a crisis in public confidence in both the FBI and Mueller. What makes these findings important is that, with Trump’s approval rating at 41 percent, these results include large numbers of voters who don’t like Trump yet who now agree that these investigations have veered off course.

After this poll was conducted, we learned that rogue agent Peter Strzok and his paramour, Lisa Page, both high-ranking members of the Mueller task force, discussed during the campaign how, in case Trump won, that they were developing, along with deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, what Strzok called an “insurance policy.” I can’t even imagine how badly these new facts will poll next month.

Our polling in November showed that 61 percent say the funding of the salacious GPS Fusion document should be investigated. Fifty-eight percent say that if Hillary Clinton and the Democrats funded the work, it could not be used by law enforcement. While this seems obvious to the public, Congress has not been able to get the answer to the question of just how this dossier was used and whether the FBI then paid some of the cost to legitimize it. Even greater numbers — 65 percent — said there needs to be an investigation of the Uranium One deal that netted the Clinton Foundation $140 million in foreign-based contributions that went undisclosed.

4--How inequality kills

5--Trump's "America First" Security Strategy Imperils the US

Trump’s campaign to return manufacturing to America and repatriate profits held overseas makes good business sense. The ravaging of America’s once mighty industrial base to boost corporate profits was a crime against the nation by unscrupulous Wall Street bankers and short-sighted, greedy CEO’s.
The basis of industrial power is the ability to make products people use. Shockingly, US manufacturing has shrunk to only 14% of GDP. Today, America’s primary business has become finance, the largely non-productive act of paper-passing that only benefits a tiny big city parasitic elite.

Trumpism is a natural reaction to the self-destruction of America’s industrial base. But the president’s mania to wreck international trade agreements and impose tariff barriers will result in diminishing America’s economic and political influence around the globe.
Access to America’s markets is in certain ways a more powerful political tool than deployment of US forces around the globe. Lessening access to the US markets will inevitably have negative repercussions on US exports
Today, large parts of the world economy depend on access to the US market, its primary engine of growth. Canada and Mexico are prime examples. Almost 80% of Canada’s exports go to the US. As a result, Washington treats Canada like a dependency, though most Canadians don’t seem to care.
A major trade war between the US and Canada looms, centered on efforts by Washington to break into Canada’s heavily protected dairy, poultry and swine markets. Amid all the heated exchanges between Ottawa and Washington, there is hardly any mention of improving the cruel treatment and lessening the terrible suffering of farm animals.
What President Trump and his advisors don’t seem to get is that China’s access to Wal-Mart shelves deeply affects its behavior. Profits from China’s exports have been plowed into $1.2 trillion of US treasury instruments, making the Communist People’s Republic America’s leading creditor.

7--Russiagate aimed at stifling dissent

Much of this has been said before. But where the briefers branch off into new territory is in their attempt to characterize journalism and political speech with which they disagree as acts of subversion on behalf of a foreign power.

According to the 14 former officials, Russia’s active-measure campaign relies “on intermediaries or ‘cut outs’ inside a country,” which are rather broadly defined as “political organizers and activists, academics, journalists, web operators, shell companies, nationalists and militant groups, and prominent pro-Russian businessmen.”
Such “intermediaries” can range from “the unwitting accomplice who is manipulated to act in what he believes is his best interest, to the ideological or economic ally who broadly shares Russian interests, to the knowing agent of influence who is recruited or coerced to directly advance Russian operations and objectives.”
In other words, a Russian “cut out” (or fifth columnist) can be defined as those “activists, academics, journalists, [or] web operators” who dissent from the shared ideology of the 14 signatories of the amicus brief.

Besides the SDF and the groups trained at al-Tanf, the US is in the process of creating the New Syria Army to fight the Syrian government forces. The training is taking place at the Syrian Hasakah refugee camp located 70 kilometers from the border of Turkey and 50 kilometers from the border of Iraq.
Around 40 Syria opposition groups on Dec. 25 rejected to attend the planned Sochi conference on Syria scheduled to take place in January. They said Moscow, which organizes the conference, was seeking to bypass the UN-based Geneva peace process, despite the fact that UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said that Russia’s plan to convene the congress should be assessed by its ability to contribute to and support the UN-led Geneva talks on ending the war in Syria. If fighting starts, these groups are likely to join the formations created by the US.
So, the United States not only maintains its illegal military presence in Syria and creates new forces to fight against the Syrian government, it appears to be preparing for a new war to follow the Islamic State’s defeat. The continuation of arming and training Kurdish militias will hardly improve Washington’s relations with Ankara, while saying one thing and doing another undermines the credibility of the United States as a partner.

Hoh: As has been pointed out by a number of commentators, Trump’s speech yesterday was really a public relations speech, affirming his status as the leader of the Make America Great Again campaign.  The first thing he talked about, as he was addressing the national security interests of the United States, was how thirteen months prior the American people elected him to be a “glorious new hope.”  The target of the speech was not China or Russia or the Islamic State.  Its purpose was to reaffirm to his domestic political base that he is the man to lead a policy of American exceptionalism.  This is the belief that American moral superiority is needed to keep the world in order....

The Obama administration had a very aggressive policy in the so-called Pacific Pivot, drawing a ring around China to undermine it while at the same time asking for China’s support in dealing with North Korea.  Is it more dangerous now because Trump is a little more volatile and dangerous and might want to create a distraction from his troubles at home?

Criticizing his predecessors for misguided foreign wars, President Trump promised a break in that approach, but his National Security Strategy report indicates a shift more in rhetoric than substance, reports Dennis J. Bernstein.

It was just revealed by the Pentagon that in the last six months, American and Afghan commandos have conducted more than 2,000 raids in Afghanistan.  Americans are still there kicking in doors, raiding people’s homes in the middle of the night, killing them, taking prisoners.  This has happened over 2,000 times in Afghanistan in the last six months!  In addition to that, we have seen an escalation in air strikes, both from drones and from manned aircraft, in Afghanistan and throughout the Muslim world...

Hoh: Dropping the mother of all bombs was really the first indication of what war policy was going to look like under Trump.  Under Obama and under Bush, there was a political victory sought.  As immoral and misguided as the military aims were, there was a political end stated.  They encouraged elections, they assisted in development, they were involved in a process of reconciliation.
Under the Trump administration, there is no political end state

11--Color revolt in Iran?

The White House and the Netanyahoo regime agreed on a strategy towards Iran. Major members of the Trump administration are in favor of "regime change" by "pro-democracy forces" in Iran. A few weeks after an agreement was found, coordinated economic protests start in Iran which are soon hijacked by small groups of very active regime changers. A group of Iranian exile terrorists, well known for deadly collaboration with Israeli spies as well as for having operation cells in Iran, is highly engaged in the protest from very early on.

If this the "regime change" operation I presume, the protests will soon get bigger

12--Transnationals subsume democracies around the world

13--2017 could have been year Russia and US made up. Now they stand on brink of new Cold War

14--New Year’s Update for Trump Voters

The Trump lies are piling up

15--US helps ISIS again: Helping the "home team"?

16--Trump’s national security strategy proves US foreign policy never really changes

There is no mention of any policy geared toward mending broken relations between the two powers, something which Trump the candidate had promised to attempt. Instead, the 68-page document reads like something the White House would have produced when Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama occupied the oval office— at least where Russia and other ‘adversaries’ are concerned....

China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity,” the document reads....

Here we are, a year into Trump’s presidency and his first national security strategy document refers to Russia on 17 occasions, negatively throughout. Russia is referred to as a repressive regime working to undermine democracy worldwide. Moscow, the document says, uses “subversive tactics” to interfere in the domestic political affairs of foreign nations. The Kremlin has also continued “its failed politics of the Cold War” by supporting its “radical Cuban allies” and the “dictatorship in Venezuela”. There is nothing included about mending fences or working together to solve common challenges.
Whatever the merits or faults of Russian foreign policy, I would merely note that there is a certain irony to the US, with nearly 800 military bases worldwide, feigning disgust at the relatively confined military actions of a power which spends approximately nine times less on its defense — or indeed pretending to hold some deep moral objection to propping up dictatorships, while it remains chummy with Saudi Arabia, one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world.

’s campaign promises reversed in new security strategy as 'war hawks fail to move beyond disastrous policies' – US senator

18--Reasons to doubt the veracity of the ‘Steele dossier’ on Trump are still emerging

A recent investigation by online magazine Tablet using public sources to “trace the evolution” of the dossier has pieced together information which suggests central elements of the Russiagate story emerged “not from the British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s top-secret “sources” in the Russian government” but from a series of stories co-written by Simpson and his wife Mary Jacoby, which were published in the Wall Street Journal before Fusion GPS ever existed.

19--Poll: Voters grow weary of Russia probes

20--Dems lose 1,000 seats under Obama