Friday, June 30, 2017

Today's Linkis

“Life makes some changes for you. But on the whole, everywhere, especially in the United States, the bureaucracy is very strong. And bureaucracy is the one that rules the world.” V Putin


Stone: “So why did you bother to hack the election then?”

Putin: “We did not hack the election at all. It would be hard to imagine any other country – even a country such as Russia would be capable of seriously influencing the electoral campaign or the outcome of an election. … any talk about our influencing the outcome of the U.S. election is all lies. They are doing it for a number of reasons.


“First, they are trying to undermine the legitimacy of President Trump, create conditions that must preclude us from normalizing our relations, and they want to create additional instruments to wage an internal political war. And Russia-U.S. relations in this context are just a mere instrument in the internal political fight in the U.S. … We know all their tricks.”





1--Fed approves dividend, buyback plans of all 34 biggest banks


Fed ignites another feeding frenzy


2--Trump‘s Red Line, Sy Hersh


3--International Monetary Fund revises down US growth predictions


In the short term the IMF decided to remove the increase in growth from any stimulus package contained in its assessment of the US economy made in April. It lowered the expected growth rate for 2017 from 2.3 percent to 2.1 percent and for 2018 from 2.5 percent to 2.1 percent as well. It also predicted a lower rate in the medium term, forecasting that it would subsequently converge to the underlying potential rate of 1.8 percent by around 2020....

“[H]ousehold incomes are stagnating for a large share of the population (in inflation-adjusted terms, more than half of US households has a lower income today than they did in 2000); job opportunities are deteriorating with many workers too discouraged to remain in the labour force (since 2007, the labour force participation rate has fallen from 66 to below 63 percent…); prospects for upward mobility are waning; and the poverty rate (at 13.5 percent) is one of the highest among advanced economies.”


4--After Passing Stress Tests, Wall Street Banks to Spend Like a Drunken Sailor – on their Own Stock Buybacks The ripoff continues unabated


In the September 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review, William Lazonick wrote the following:

“Five years after the official end of the Great Recession, corporate profits are high, and the stock market is booming. Yet most Americans are not sharing in the recovery. While the top 0.1% of income recipients—which include most of the highest-ranking corporate executives—reap almost all the income gains, good jobs keep disappearing, and new employment opportunities tend to be insecure and underpaid. Corporate profitability is not translating into widespread economic prosperity.

“The allocation of corporate profits to stock buybacks deserves much of the blame. Consider the 449 companies in the S&P 500 index that were publicly listed from 2003 through 2012. During that period those companies used 54% of their earnings—a total of $2.4 trillion—to buy back their own stock, almost all through purchases on the open market. Dividends absorbed an additional 37% of their earnings. That left very little for investments in productive capabilities or higher incomes for employees.”

Last year U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Jeff Merkley, together with co-sponsors Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, introduced legislation in the Senate that seeks to rein in the short term focus on quarterly profits that can be pumped up by share buybacks. In introducing the bill, known as the Brokaw Act, Senator Merkley said:

“Hollowing out longstanding companies so that a small group of the wealthy and well-connected can reap a short-term profit is not the path to a strong and sustainable economy for our nation. It’s time to take on this rigged system and stop the short-term game playing that sells our workers, businesses and economy short.”...

Last year Rana Foroohar, then the Assistant Managing Editor at Time magazine, now a Global Economic Analyst at CNN and Global Business Columnist and Associate Editor at the Financial Times, authored the insightful book “Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business. In one case study, Foroohar looks at the technology company, Apple, and its exorbitant use of share buybacks using borrowed money. Foroohar writes:
“…Apple’s behavior is no aberration. Stock buybacks and dividend payments of the kind being made by Apple – moves that enrich mainly a firm’s top management and its largest shareholders but often stifle its capacity for innovation, depress job creation, and erode its competitive position over the longer haul – have become commonplace. The S&P 500 companies as a whole have spent more than $6 trillion on such payments between 2005 and 2014, bolstering share prices and the markets even as they were cutting jobs and investment.”



6--Goldman: U.S. Wages Catching Up With Productivity Is a 'Sobering' Prospect

Wages rise and Goldman panics


7--Ralph Nader: The Democrats Are Unable to Defend the U.S. from the “Most Vicious” Republican Party in History



RALPH NADER: Do you want me to go through the history of the decline and decadence of the Democratic Party? I’m going to give you millstones around the Democratic Party neck that are milestones.


The first big one was in 1979. Tony Coelho, who was a congressman from California, and who ran the House Democratic Campaign treasure chest, convinced the Democrats that they should bid for corporate money, corporate PACs, that they could raise a lot of money. Why leave it up to Republicans and simply rely on the dwindling labor union base for money, when you had a huge honeypot in the corporate area?


And they did. And I could see the difference almost immediately. First of all, they lost the election to Reagan. And then they started getting weaker in the Congress. At that time, 1980, some of our big allies were defeated in the so-called Reagan landslide against Carter, we lost Senator [Gaylord] Nelson, Senator [Warren] Magnuson, Senator [Frank] Church. We had more trouble getting congressional hearings investigating corporate malfeasance by the Democrat [congressional committee] chairs. When the Democrats regained the White House [in 1992] you could see the difference in appointments to regulatory agencies, the difficulty in getting them to upgrade health and safety regulations.


8--Rising Wages Scare the Fed: “We Need to Get on with This


We need to get on with this,” said Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker, a voting member of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee. He was talking about the Fed’s plan, detailed at the last meeting, to unwind QE. A possible moment to begin the process, he said, is the meeting in September.

His reasons: Complaints by his business contacts about rising wages.

Rising wages – regardless of what Fed Chair Yellen says publicly to soothe the nerves of the many underpaid workers – set off alarm bells at the Fed and push it into action. Not that all wages are rising. But average wages are rising faster than inflation, and in a number of sectors there are significant wage pressures. Businesses gripe. The Fed listens.

Harker told the Financial Times there was “very little slack” left in the labor market. “There is a rate [of unemployment] below which you are going to start to see a significant acceleration of wages.”
“You look at this labor market and you do have to question when we are going to start to see some increases in inflation,” he said. “We know from history that when that happens it happens pretty quickly.”
Hence, unwinding QE is on the table.

9--Poll: Voters grow weary of Russia probes


A majority of voters believe the Russia investigations are damaging to the country and are eager to see Congress shift its focus to healthcare, terrorism, national security, the economy and jobs.
Those are the findings of the latest Harvard-Harris Poll survey, provided exclusively to The Hill, which paints a complicated picture of voters’ opinions about the numerous probes that have engulfed the White House.

Sixty-four percent of voters said the investigations into President Trump and Russia are hurting the country. Fifty-six percent of voters said it’s time for Congress and the media to move on to other issues, compared to 44 percent who said the focus should stay on Russia.

But other surveys have found strong support for the special counsel investigating the Russia probe. A Harvard-Harris survey released last month found 75 percent support for former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s investigation.

10-- Craig Murray reveals more info on Clinton email leaks: “This is a Washington insider, it is not Russia


11--Majority of Democrats and Republicans say media has partisan agendas: poll


Seventy percent of the general public agrees that news organizations "are subject to partisan agendas," with 85 percent of Republicans believing the news media is influenced by funding, according to a Wednesday YouGov poll.

"The rise of fake news, a growing multitude of media sources, and an increasingly polarized nation have Americans learning to take their headlines with a grain of salt," says the YouGov study.
The research also shows that seven in 10 Americans agree that news organizations report stories in a way that's favorable to their owners

12--Why Are Media Outlets Still Citing Discredited ‘Fake News’ Blacklist?


13--Gas Wars: Why US Gamble to Push Russia Out of the European Gas Market Can't Work


Gabriel and Kern, Ardaev recalled, were particularly incensed by the draft bill for its "surprisingly candid" admission about what was really at stake, "namely selling American liquefied natural gas and ending the supply of Russian natural gas to the European market." The German and Austrian officials stressed that Washington's threats to impose penalties against European companies doing business with Russia serve to impact "European-American relations in a new and very negative way."

At the same time, the US's perceived to make a power play in gas was obvious, according to the analyst.

14--Complete List of the Many Questions Surrounding Seth Rich’s Unsolved Murder


15--ALTERNATE REALITY: 58 Percent Of Dems Think Russia Rigged Vote Count To Get Trump Elected


16--Donald Trump not under investigation by FBI over Russia ties, James Comey's testimony to reveal


17--Every American who is concerned about the future political use of the U.S. intelligence agencies’ powerful surveillance tools should have shuddered a bit over what was done to Flynn. But many on the Left so desperately want Trump removed from office that they have joined the Russia-gate stampede as the best way to trample Trump.....amid the mainstream media’s increasingly frenzied talk about Trump’s potential impeachment, this other remarkable story – how the U.S. Intelligence Community is moving to reverse the outcome of a presidential election – is getting ignored in plain sight.


18--On the Eurasian integration front, President Putin stressed that “in a week, we will formalize India’s full-fledged accession to the SCO.” Russia has always supported India’s entry to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.


And there’s more to come. China has declared its full support to Iran’s membership of the SCO – to be discussed in detail at the pact’s summit this week in Astana, Kazakhstan, with President Xi Jinping in attendance. And China is also ready to consider any application from NATO member Turkey, whose president, Tayyip Erdogan, has said he’s all for it.

Putin also sent a clear, subtle message on BRICS: “This organization was actually born here in St. Petersburg. At first, there were the three of us – Russia, China and India – but then Brazil and South Africa joined in. We believe that this is a very important platform to harmonize our positions.”
Crucially, the President of the BRICS’ New Development Bank (NDB), K. V. Kamath, added: “There is consensus between BRICS countries that we should increase the use of local currencies.”

19--Banks Boost Payouts After Passing Tests -- WSJ


20--Signals on Stimulus Roil Global Markets


21--1929


"At the end of 1929, as they celebrated New Year's Eve, all that lay in the future. Nobody knew that the Great Depression was coming -- unemployment, bread lines, bank failures -- this was unimaginable. But the bubble had burst. Gone was that innocent optimism, the confidence, the illusion of wealth without work. One era had ended. They toasted the coming of the 30s, but somewhere, deep down, they knew the party was over."

22--IMF Report: U.S. Corporate Debt Could Be Trump’s Waterloo


23--The Fed is in a deep hole of its own making


24--Media Focus on Trump Blindsides the Public from Rising Wall Street Risks


25--OECD: World Is Still Locked in a “Low-Growth Trap” with Rising Inequality


26--Trump’s Justice Department Goes Easy on Citigroup Unit for Criminal Money Laundering





http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-24/obama-signs-countering-disinformation-and-propaganda-act-law

https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/16/ah-so-putin-didnt-hack-those-emails-after-all/






Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Today's Links

1--  Obama's Police State slips into High-Gear--The Looming NSA “technotyranny”


Whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

We have now moved into a full-blown police state that is rapidly shifting into high-gear under the auspices of the surveillance state


2--Russia-gate Flops as Democrats’ Golden Ticket


The national Democratic Party and many liberals have bet heavily on the Russia-gate investigation as a way to oust President Trump from office and to catapult Democrats to victories this year and in 2018, but the gamble appears not to be paying off...

the Democrats may be digging a deeper hole for themselves in terms of reaching out to white working-class voters who abandoned the party in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to put Trump over the top in the Electoral College even though Clinton’s landslide win in California gave her almost three million more votes nationwide

A Party of Snobs?
From conversations that I’ve had with some Trump voters in recent weeks, I was struck by how they viewed the Democratic Party as snobbish, elitist and looking down its nose at “average Americans.” And in conversations with some Clinton voters, I found confirmation for that view in the open disdain that the Clinton backers expressed toward the stupidity of anyone who voted for Trump. In other words, the Trump voters were not wrong to feel “dissed.”...

While it’s a bit unfair to personalize the Democratic Party’s problems, Hillary and Bill Clinton have come to represent how the party is viewed by many Americans. Instead of the FDR Democrats, we have the Davos Democrats, the Wall Street Democrats, the Hollywood Democrats, the Silicon Valley Democrats, and now increasingly the Military-Industrial Complex Democrats.
To many Americans struggling to make ends meet, the national Democrats seem committed to the interests of the worldwide elites: global trade, financialization of the economy, robotization of the workplace, and endless war against endless enemies...

Earlier this year, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found only 28 percent of Americans saying that the Democrats were “in touch with the concerns of most people” – an astounding result given the Democrats’ long tradition as the party of the American working class and the party’s post-Vietnam War reputation as favoring butter over guns....

Rather than face these facts, the national Democrats – led by President Obama and his intelligence chiefs – decided on a different approach, to seek to reverse the election by blaming the result on the Russians. Obama, his intelligence chiefs and a collaborative mainstream media insisted without presenting any real evidence that the Russians had hacked into Democratic emails and released them to the devastating advantage of Trump, as if the minor controversies from leaked emails of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta explained Trump’s surprising victory.

3--False Flag: US military threatens to bomb the Syrian Army again


4--White House Says Assad Prepares For Antoher “Chemical Attack”. Another False Flag Expected Soon In Syria?


5-- Syria Will ‘Pay a Heavy Price’ for Another Chemical Attack, White House Says


In the statement, the White House said that Mr. Assad’s preparations appeared similar to the ones Western intelligence officials believe the Syrian government made before a chemical attack in April that killed dozens of Syrians, including children.
“As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” the statement said. “If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.”...

Mr. Kimball added that he did not recall such a precise, pre-emptive public warning against a foreign government regarding banned weapons “in at least the last 20 years.” More often, such matters are handled in private diplomatic or intelligence communications, he said.
Monday’s message appeared designed to set the stage for another possible military strike.

6--The Surveillance State and Big Brother Trump


7--CNN producer admits Russia narrative is ‘bullsh*t,’ just for ‘ratings’ (VIDEO)


So why is CNN constantly like, ‘Russia this, Russia that?’” the journalist asks, to which Bonifield responds, “Because it’s ratings.”“Our CIA is doing shit all the time, we’re out there trying to manipulate governments,” Bonifield says.
“I think the President is probably right to say, like, look, you are witch-hunting me,” Bonifield admits...

Bonifield explains how far CNN pushed the Russia line, describing a meeting in which reporters were told by the CEO to stop covering climate accords, urging instead “Let’s get back to Russia.”
“It’s a business, people are like the media has an ethical phssssss…All the nice cutesy little ethics that used to get talked about in journalism school you’re just like, that’s adorable. That’s adorable. This is a business,” Bonifield says in the video....



8--US sees global popularity plummet under Trump administration


9--The plan to split up Russia


In his book The Grand Chessboard published six years after the collapse of the USSR, a former US national security adviser and geostrategist, Zbigniew Brzezinski, insisted that "a more decentralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization."
"A loosely confederated Russia — composed of a European Russia, a Siberian Republic, and a Far Eastern Republic — would find it easier to cultivate closer economic regulations with Europe, with the new states of Central Asia, and with [East Asia], which would thereby accelerate Russia's own development," the geostrategist claimed.

Notes-- 
Poll: Voters grow weary of Russia probes

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-24/russia-hacking-allegations-driven-serial-liar

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-24/obama-signs-countering-disinformation-and-propaganda-act-law

http://fair.org/home/why-are-media-outlets-still-citing-discredited-fake-news-blacklist/
https://clarityofsignal.com/tag/propornot/

https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/16/ah-so-putin-didnt-hack-those-emails-after-all/

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/339146-poll-voters-grow-weary-of-russia-probes

32% say they have "a great deal" or "a fair amount" of trust
  • 14% of Republicans express trust, down from 32% last year
  • http://www.gallup.com/poll/195542/americans-trust-mass-media-sinks-new-low.aspx
  • http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/russia-hacking-us-election-trump-voting-systems-us-states-report-a7790701.html

    Thursday, June 22, 2017

    Today's Links

    "Washington is pushing the confrontation with Russia as part of its strategy of removing Moscow as an impediment to its drive for supremacy over the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia and dominance over the Eurasian continent, which it considers essential to taking on its biggest rival for global domination, China."

    Barry Grey, WSWS




    1--Russia-gate Flops as Democrats’ Golden Ticket


    Clinton’s popular-vote plurality and the #Resistance, which manifested itself in massive protests against Trump’s presidency, gave hope to the Democrats that they didn’t need to undertake a serious self-examination into why the party is in decline across the nation’s heartland. Instead, they decided to stoke the hysteria over alleged Russian “meddling” in the election as the short-cut to bring down Trump and his populist movement.

    A Party of Snobs?

    From conversations that I’ve had with some Trump voters in recent weeks, I was struck by how they viewed the Democratic Party as snobbish, elitist and looking down its nose at “average Americans.” And in conversations with some Clinton voters, I found confirmation for that view in the open disdain that the Clinton backers expressed toward the stupidity of anyone who voted for Trump. In other words, the Trump voters were not wrong to feel “dissed.”...

    By insisting that Hillary Clinton be the Democratic nominee – after leftist populist Bernie Sanders was pushed aside – the party also ignored the fact that many Americans, including many Democrats, viewed Clinton as the perfectly imperfect candidate for an anti-Establishment year with many Americans still fuming over the Wall Street bailouts and amid the growing sense that the system was rigged for the well-connected and against the average guy or gal.

    In the face of those sentiments, the Democrats nominated a candidate who personified how a relatively small number of lucky Americans can play the system and make tons of money while the masses have seen their dreams crushed and their bank accounts drained. And Clinton apparently still hasn’t learned that lesson....

    Her excuse captured much of what has gone wrong with the Democratic Party as it moved from its working-class roots and New Deal traditions to becoming a party that places “identity politics” ahead of a duty to fight for the common men and women of America.
    Demonstrating her political cluelessness, Clinton used the serious issue of women not getting fair treatment in the workplace to justify taking her turn at the Wall Street money trough, gobbling up in one half-hour speech what it would take many American families a decade to earn.

    While it’s a bit unfair to personalize the Democratic Party’s problems, Hillary and Bill Clinton have come to represent how the party is viewed by many Americans. Instead of the FDR Democrats, we have the Davos Democrats, the Wall Street Democrats, the Hollywood Democrats, the Silicon Valley Democrats, and now increasingly the Military-Industrial Complex Democrats...

    Earlier this year, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found only 28 percent of Americans saying that the Democrats were “in touch with the concerns of most people” – an astounding result given the Democrats’ long tradition as the party of the American working class and the party’s post-Vietnam War reputation as favoring butter over guns.
    Yet rather than rethink the recent policies, the Democrats prefer to fantasize about impeaching President Trump and continuing a blame-game about who – other than Hillary Clinton, her campaign and the Democratic National Committee – is responsible for Trump’s election. Of course, it’s the Russians, Russians, Russians!...

    Mixed in was a commitment to the rights of various identity groups, a worthy goal although this tolerance paradoxically contributed to a new form of prejudice among some liberals who came to view many white working-class people as fat, stupid and bigoted, society’s “losers.”...

    Rather than face these facts, the national Democrats – led by President Obama and his intelligence chiefs – decided on a different approach, to seek to reverse the election by blaming the result on the Russians. Obama, his intelligence chiefs and a collaborative mainstream media insisted without presenting any real evidence that the Russians had hacked into Democratic emails and released them to the devastating advantage of Trump, as if the minor controversies from leaked emails of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta explained Trump’s surprising victory

    2--Amazon octopus gobbles up whole foods


    Lina Khah wrote in a 2017 Yale Law Journal in regard to Amazon’s growing monopoly, that “in addition to being a retailer, Amazon is a marketing platform, a delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, an auction house, a major book publisher, a producer of television and films, a fashion designer, a hardware manufacturer, and a leading provider of cloud server space and computing power. For the most part, Amazon has expanded into these areas by acquiring existing firms.”

    Amazon’s cloud data storage service, for example, controls 33 percent of total market share, more than Microsoft, IBM and Google combined. Its clients include leading corporations and the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Department of Defense.
    The company controls a significant portion of the logistical veins of international distribution, linking together roughly 400,000 warehouse workers at hundreds of fulfillment centers spread across five continents. Amazon commands a fleet of trucks, freighters, drones and airplanes, plus a small army of Uber-like flex delivery drivers who transport goods to over 100 countries.

    Amazon’s growing dominance is part of a broader concentration of power across all industries. The share of GDP produced by America’s largest 100 corporations rose from 33 percent in 1994 to 46 percent in 2013. The five largest American banks now account for 45 percent of total banking assets, nearly double from 25 percent in 2000.

    3--UAE has secret torture prisons in Yemen, US involved in interrogations – AP


    4--Putin to watch joining of Turkish Stream gas pipeline sections


    5--U.S. Torture, A Saudi Coup And ISIS Crimes - "By, With And Through Allies"


    6--Former secretary of homeland security Jeh Johnson says points the finger at Putin


    (Johnson says vote tallies were not impacted)

    Around mid-August, Mr. Johnson said, federal officials began hearing reports of “scanning and probing” of some state voter database registries. In the weeks after, intelligence officials became convinced the Russians were behind those efforts, though he said it was not until January that they were “in a position to say” that.

    The administration formally accused the Russian government on Oct. 7, when Mr. Johnson and James R. Clapper Jr., then the director of national intelligence, released a statement saying the Russians had leaked information “intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”...


    Noting that the hacking happened “at the direction of

    Vladimir Putin himself,” Mr. Johnson said he was moved to try to shield the nation’s election system by the “unprecedented” nature of Russian interference in the last election.

    “What I mean is that we not only saw infiltrations, but we saw efforts to dump information into the public space for the purpose of influencing the ongoing campaign,” he said, referring to the disclosure of hacked emails.


    Republicans also seized on the statement in January by James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, that the D.N.C. refused to turn over its servers to investigators after it was discovered that the servers had been hacked.

    Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, a Republican who is helping to lead the committee’s investigation into Russian interference, asked Mr. Johnson why a victim — in this case, the D.N.C. — would not turn over evidence of a crime.

    “If they had turned the server over to you or Director Comey, maybe we would have known more,” Mr. Gowdy said.


    7--Johnson said, “To my current knowledge, the Russian government did not through any cyber intrusion alter ballots,


    Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Wednesday that the Russian government did not alter ballots, ballots counts, or the reporting of votes in last November's U.S. presidential election.


    In his written testimony Johnson said, “To my current knowledge, the Russian government did not through any cyber intrusion alter ballots, ballot counts or reporting of election results. I am not in a position to know whether the successful Russian government-directed hacks of the DNC and elsewhere did in fact alter public opinion and thereby alter the outcome of the presidential election."

    During questioning by Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Johnson confirmed that the Russians in no way altered any votes.
    “You said in your opening statement, or in your prepared remarks, that to your knowledge, there was no vote-tallying changes--that no one’s vote was, they voted one way and it was recorded some other way. Is that still your opinion with respect to the ‘16 election that the intrusions or attempted whatever it is the Russians or others did not affect the actual voting itself?” Conaway asked.

    “Based on everything I know, that is correct. I know of no evidence that through cyber intrusions votes were altered or suppressed in some way,” Johnson said.

    8--Comey says, 'No collusion'


    West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin reiterates, after two hearings with former FBI Director James Comey, that there is no evidence "whatsoever" to prove the Trump campaign "colluded" with Russia during the 2016 campaign.

    STEPHANOPOULOS: Now joined by a member of the Senate intelligence committee, Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Senator Manchin, thank you for joining us this morning.

    You were in that room on Thursday for all three hours. You questioned James Comey. Was he a credible witness?

    SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. He did a good job and I think everyone there, Democrats and Republicans alike, thought he did a good job. And he was forthcoming. He offered to come to the committee not only in an open session, he came to a closed session also, George, and that was pretty special because when you heard him say I'm sorry I can't answer that and speak about that in this setting, that was of a higher classified and we went into a classified hearing afterwards, he answered everybody's questions. So we were very appreciative of that.

    STEPHANOPOULOS; Do you agree with this conclusion that the president has reached that there was no evidence of collusion?

    MANCHIN: You know, we haven't seen any of that whatsoever, George. We've been looking and showing everything they possibly have. That has not led to that. We have ultimate -- all of us have the utmost respect for Bob Mueller, both on the Democrat and Republican side. I believe he's going to do his job thoroughly. We will accept his recommendation and pathway forward and I think that's extremely important that we all agree this is the right person, the right time to do this type of work.


    9--'Not true': James Comey denounces NYT report on Trump campaign collusion with Russia during testimony




    The New York Times got it wrong when it reported this year that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 election, former FBI Director James Comey testified Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    The New York Times story, "Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence," was published on Feb. 14.


    The story, which was anonymously sourced, alleged that members of Trump's campaign team communicated with Russian agents at around the same time that hackers published personal emails stolen from Democratic National Committee staffers and Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

    However, Comey flatly disputed all of that.


    "That report by the New York Times was not true. Is that a fair statement?" Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, asked.


    "In the main, it was not true," Comey replied. "The challenge, and I'm not picking on reporters, about writing on classified information is: The people talking about it often don't really know what's going on, and those of us who actually know what's going on are not talking about it."


    He added, "And we don't call the press to say, ‘Hey, you got that thing wrong about this sensitive topic.' We just have to leave it there."


    Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., later asked Comey if the story was "almost entirely wrong," and Comey said yes.


    The paper, for its part, disputed these accounts. It maintained this week that its reporting is accurate, and also said its reporters are "looking into" Comey's remarks.

    The apparently bogus New York Times report created a big splash when it was first published, practically kicking off a news cycle of its own. However, it was apparent even then that the story had serious problems.

    One immediately noticeable flaw involved buried information presented to the reader only after the story had introduced the idea of Russian collusion.

    The report opened with these two paragraphs:

    Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.


    American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.


    It doesn't look good for Trump. The headline alone leads readers to suspect a disturbing partnership between Trump's campaign and the Russians.

    However, buried in the third paragraph in the New York Times report is a crucial detail: "The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation."


    Oh.


    That's an important piece of information, and it should have been included in the story's first paragraph. It doesn't really matter now. The whole thing is apparently nonsense, according to Comey.


    10--NATO warplane buzzes jet carrying Russian defense minister over Baltic Sea


    Washington is pushing the confrontation with Russia as part of its strategy of removing Moscow as an impediment to its drive for supremacy over the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia and dominance over the Eurasian continent, which it considers essential to taking on its biggest rival for global domination, China....


    On Wednesday, a NATO F-16 buzzed a Russian jet carrying the country’s defense minister in international air space over the Baltic Sea. Just three days previously, a US jet brought down a government plane in Syria, the first such attack since the beginning of the US war for regime-change in 2011. The US action prompted Moscow, whose military forces are backing the Syrian regime, to announce that it will henceforth target US aircraft flying over the western part of that country. Russia also said it would cut off the “deconfliction” hot line that has been used to prevent clashes between US and Russian planes operating in Syria.


    In yesterday’s incident, a warplane of the US-dominated military alliance approached the Russian aircraft as it flew to Kaliningrad, a western Russian enclave between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea, where Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu was scheduled to meet with Russian military officials. An Su-27 escort fighter got in way of the NATO plane and tilted its wings to show its weapons, whereupon the intruding NATO plane flew off.


    11--The Democrats’ fraudulent opposition to Trumpcare


    12--The New York Times steps up its anti-Russia campaign


    Under the headline “Mr. Trump’s Dangerous Indifference to Russia,” the Times uses the language of war to assert: “A rival foreign power launched an aggressive cyberattack on the United States, interfering with the 2016 presidential election… The unprecedented nature of Russia’s attack is getting lost in the swirling chaos of recent weeks, but it shouldn’t be.”


    The Times presents zero evidence to back up a wild reference to “the sheer scope and audacity of the Russian efforts.” The editorial simply declares, “American intelligence agencies have concluded,” followed by a long list of allegations:

    “Under direct orders from President Vladimir Putin, hackers connected to Russian military intelligence broke into the email accounts of senior officials at the Democratic National Committee and of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. They passed tens of thousands of emails to the website WikiLeaks, which posted them throughout the last months of the campaign in an attempt to damage the Clinton campaign.


    “Even more disturbing, hackers sought access to voter databases in at least 39 states, and in some cases tried to alter or delete voter data. They also appear to have tried to take over the computers of more than 100 local election officials in the days before the November 8 vote.”


    Editorial page editor James Bennet presents not a single fact that supports the Times ’ assertions. What is the evidence that there were “direct orders” from Putin, or that hackers linked to Russian intelligence raided Democratic email accounts and supplied material to WikiLeaks, or that (other?) hackers tried to access voter databases and the computers of local election officials? The entire mountain of accusations is suspended in air.




    Wednesday, June 21, 2017

    Today's Links

    "The Democratic Party, working in close sync with the Pentagon and the CIA, has conducted an unrelenting campaign of anti-Russian hysteria aimed at creating a new, ostensibly liberal, constituency for war among privileged layers of the middle class. Democrats have endorsed every new act of military escalation in Syria, demanding only that the Trump administration present a “comprehensive” plan for war and, in some cases, calling for the passage of a new authorization for use of military force to legitimize military aggression." Bill Van Auken, WSWS



    The Democrats are also seeking by means of their neo-McCarthyite campaign against Russia to channel mass anger within the US over Trump's attacks on democratic rights and social programs behind the war agenda of American imperialism....

    The entire edifice of charges of supposed Russian interference in the election in support of Trump, promoted by the US spy agencies and the Democrats, rests on bald assertions backed by no substantive evidence. The role of the media in promoting this hysterical campaign, whose logical outcome is war between the world's two largest nuclear powers. WSWS


    “In the world of Democratic loyalists the idea that reality should be observable is now a subversive conspiracy.” Karl Kaiser



    1--Why Democrats keep losing elections (video) Tucker Carlson ((provocative)


    2--BRICS: Syria's Territorial Integrity Is Non-Negotiable

     The BRICS countries are at one on the necessity of enhancing the effectiveness of counterterrorism efforts. We have a Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, which has held two meetings and has a considerable potential. These efforts should be taken in an interdepartmental format.   ... The BRICS countries are at one on the necessity of enhancing the effectiveness of counterterrorism efforts. We have a Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, which has held two meetings and has a considerable potential. These efforts should be taken in an interdepartmental format.


    3--The “People’s Summit:” Sanders wing seeks to give Democratic Party a facelift


    In his opening address to the “People’s Summit,” Sanders made a point of solidarizing himself with the hysterical anti-Russian campaign waged by the Democrats and much of the media....

    The reforms promoted by Sanders and his allies are, in fact, extremely limited. They do not in any way challenge the basic property interests or power of the ruling corporate-financial elite. They include a $15 minimum wage, “Medicare for all,” student loan forgiveness and a tax on financial speculation. There are no calls, as in genuine insurgent social movements of the first part of the last century such as Populism, for public ownership of sections of industry such as the railroads and utilities. Sanders’ proposals are anemic even compared to demands raised in an earlier period by reform factions within the two major parties for universal health care, affordable public housing, etc.

    The “People’s Summit,” held in Chicago June 9-11, was part of an effort by the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party and a faction of the trade union bureaucracy, backed by several pseudo-left groups, to refashion the image of the Democratic Party in the aftermath of its 2016 electoral debacle.

    These forces are politically motivated by the fear that the crisis of the Democratic Party, particularly its loss of support in the working class, will prevent it from carrying out its traditional role of diverting and dissipating social opposition and subordinating the working class to bourgeois politics. Frightened by the explosive growth of anger against the entire political establishment and increasing interest in socialism among working people and particularly youth, they are seeking to give this party of Wall Street and the CIA a political facelift....

    The party establishment is instead focusing on prosecuting its anti-Russian witch-hunt and attacking President Donald Trump from the right, labeling him a stooge of the Kremlin, while all but ignoring the administration’s savage attacks on health care, immigrant and democratic rights, public education and environmental and safety regulations....

    Lawrence Dreyfuss, a spokesman for the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), echoed the Democrats’ anti-Russia rhetoric, telling the World Socialist Web Site that the Russians posed the greatest threat to “the autonomy of our country, perhaps in all our history.”
    “Regardless of capitalism,” he said, “you have a problem because our country can’t work if it’s not an autonomous country. Even if that threat to our autonomy comes from Wall Street, I’ll take that over feeling like we’re being controlled by a country whose constitution I can’t abide by.”...

    The basic premise of the “People’s Summit” was that an amelioration of social inequality can be achieved without overthrowing the capitalist system. The vast economic decay of American capitalism over the last four decades, however, and the rise of a financial oligarchy to the pinnacle of economic and political power, mean that any struggle to seriously improve the conditions of the working class will require an attack on concentrated wealth and power. This can be achieved only through a socialist revolution by the working class.

    4--The US escalation in Syria and the threat of world war

    Syria is not an “exporter” of terror, but rather the victim of the Al Qaeda-linked militias that were unleashed upon the country by the CIA and Washington’s regional allies in a war for regime change. As for Al Qaeda’s “safe haven,” it has been defended by the US, which has repeatedly denounced the Syrian government and Russia for bombing these so-called “rebels” and insisted that only ISIS can be targeted....

    The threat was to be dealt with by the US military seizing for itself “a base of operations in what is eastern Syria, along the Euphrates,” from Raqqa in the north to the Iraqi and Jordanian borders to the south. One of the aims of the American intervention, she stated, would be to “energize Sunni populations in the Euphrates River zone, which has been a hotbed of ISIS support, but before it, Al Qaida support.” In other words, Washington will seek to reignite the sectarian war for regime change based on Sunni Islamist militias, but this time with American “boots on the ground.”
    How many US troops will this operation require? “I don’t know,” Kagan said. “It’s not 150,000 guys. But it’s got to be enough to be present and to extend presence forward.” Key to this military adventure, she added, was to “prepare for what the Russians and the Iranians will try to do to respond.”...

    Meanwhile, the Democratic Party, working in close sync with the Pentagon and the CIA, has conducted an unrelenting campaign of anti-Russian hysteria aimed at creating a new, ostensibly liberal, constituency for war among privileged layers of the middle class. Democrats have endorsed every new act of military escalation in Syria, demanding only that the Trump administration present a “comprehensive” plan for war and, in some cases, calling for the passage of a new authorization for use of military force to legitimize military aggression.

    5--The New York Times steps up its anti-Russia campaign

    . The newspaper is attempting to condition American public opinion and overcome popular opposition to an escalating military confrontation with the world’s second-largest nuclear power....

    The Times presents zero evidence to back up a wild reference to “the sheer scope and audacity of the Russian efforts.” The editorial simply declares, “American intelligence agencies have concluded,” followed by a long list of allegations:
    “Under direct orders from President Vladimir Putin, hackers connected to Russian military intelligence broke into the email accounts of senior officials at the Democratic National Committee and of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. They passed tens of thousands of emails to the website WikiLeaks, which posted them throughout the last months of the campaign in an attempt to damage the Clinton campaign.

    “Even more disturbing, hackers sought access to voter databases in at least 39 states, and in some cases tried to alter or delete voter data. They also appear to have tried to take over the computers of more than 100 local election officials in the days before the November 8 vote.”

    The most recent allegations, about alleged hacking into voter databases and local election computers, are based on a National Security Agency (NSA) report leaked to The Intercept web publication, which even The Intercept admitted contained no underlying evidence to substantiate the NSA’s claims.

    Not a single one of the reports in the Times or Post is the product of a genuine investigation by journalists. Instead, the main reporting on the “Russian hacking” affair consists of taking dictation from unidentified intelligence officials. In not a single case did these officials offer evidence to substantiate their claims, invariably made in the form of ambiguous phrases like “we assess,” “we believe,” “we assess with high confidence,” etc. Such claims are worth no more than previous assertions that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction—a lie used to justify a war that has killed more than one million people.
    Editorial page editor James Bennet presents not a single fact that supports the Times ’ assertions...

    One recent study found 81 instances—not counting outright CIA-backed military coups—in which the US government financed political parties, organized disinformation campaigns, carried out assassinations, blackmailed candidates, or otherwise sought to install its own nominees by rigging elections in countries on every continent.
    One of the most flagrant such examples was the 1996 presidential election in Russia, won by the US-backed Boris Yeltsin (See: “Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin: When the White House fixed a Russian election”).

    6---Russians overwhelmingly back Putin policies – US pollster


    7--Anthrax And “Russiagate”: Mueller’s Special Counsel Appointment Should Raise Concern


        Major players in the U.S. government made strong efforts to link the anthrax attacks to the Iraqi government – efforts that Mueller played no part in. But in the following six years, Mueller did participate in a public disinformation campaign that muddied the waters regarding the 2001 anthrax attacks.
    He and his bureau were in a position to unravel the underlying rationale for mounting an illegal invasion that left over a million Iraqi civilians dead. Instead, they worked to bury that rationale and stoke fears that would help to prop up public support for the invasion. Looking back at the way in which the case was handled, it is clear that Mueller may not be the most suitable candidate for heading the ongoing investigation into “Russiagate.”

    Flimsy evidence and false accusations

    As early as Nov. 9, 2001 – less than one month after the anthrax attacks began – the FBI had identified anthrax in the letters as being of the “Ames strain,” a strain of anthrax that was isolated by U.S. researchers in 1981. Due to its domestic origins, the FBI concluded that the attacks were likely perpetrated by someone working within the U.S. and not by a foreign actor.

    Despite having this knowledge, the Bush administration sent then-Secretary of State Colin Powell to the UN with a prop vial of anthrax in order to obtain support for the Iraq War. Mueller could’ve turned the course of events at the time by making sure the press was aware that the most likely culprit was inside the U.S., but instead chose not to interfere with Bush’s neoconservative agenda. Powell’s presentation of “evidence” of Iraq’s alleged possession of chemical and biological weapons formed a major part of the U.S. effort to build a case for war in Iraq – although the country’s possession of these weapons would eventually prove to be a falsehood

    8--Comey admits NYTimes story was a lie

    testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, former FBI Director James Comey cast doubt on a Feb. 14 New York Times report titled “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence.

    The article, which relied on “four current and former government officials,” said that “Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election” and that “the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin.”

    Comey was asked about the report during an exchange with Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho.

    RISCH:  I remember, you — you talked with us shortly after February 14th, when the New York Times wrote an article that suggested that the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians. This is not factual. Do you recall that?

    COMEY: Yes.

    RISCH: OK. So — so, again, so the American people can understand this, that report by the New York Times was not true. Is that a fair statement?

    COMEY: In — in the main, it was not true.

    Later in the hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, asked Comey: “Would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong?” To which Comey replied: “Yes.”

    9--Election Con 2016: New Evidence Demolishes the Myth of Trump’s “Blue-Collar” Populism

    Income-wise, the single largest group of Trump supporters was comprised of individuals hailing from households earning incomes of more than $100,000 a year – which made up 35 percent of all his voters. Those earning between $75,000 to $100,000 a year accounted for 19 percent of Trump voters, meaning that 54 percent of the president’s supporters came from households earning over $75,000 a year. Another 20 percent of Trump supporters earned between $50,000 to $75,000 a year, putting them over the national median household income, which has long hovered around $50,000. In sum, approximately three-quarters of Trump voters were from households earning more than the national median income, while just one-quarter earned less than the median....

    Trump voters were not more likely to be unemployed, to be lower income, or to hail from geographic regions harmed by outsourcing of manufacturing jobs. Rather, Trump supporters were mainly driven by reactionary positions on social and political issues

    10--St Clair on the 2016 election "Whitelash"??

    Clinton lost the white vote by almost the exact same margin that Obama did to Romney in 2012....
    The problem... is that Trump did 2% better with blacks than Romney did and Hillary performed 5% worse than Obama for a total spread of 7% less than the 2012 margins.
    Even more startling.... is that Trump won a higher percent of Hispanic votes (29%) than Romney (27%) and Hillary won a much smaller share of Hispanic votes (65%) than Obama (71%) for a total decline of 8% from 2012.
    Even so, Hillary should have won the election. Why? Because Trump got 1.5 million fewer votes than Romney....
    The fatal problem is that Hillary got 5.4 million fewer votes than Obama, many of those black and Hispanic voters, and lost 6 states that Obama won twice: Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio." ("Roaming Charges: Whitelash, White Heat?")

    11--Diagnosing the Trumpen Proletariat

    A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst entitled Explaining White Polarization in the 2016 Vote for President: The Sobering Role of Racism and Sexism found that “while economic dissatisfaction was part of the story, racism and sexism were much more important and can explain about two-thirds of the education gap among whites in the 2016 presidential vote.” The analysis used data from a national survey conducted during the final week of October (just days before the election), and concluded that the negative effects of neoliberalism and the rule of Wall Street were not the single most important factor in the victory for Trump. Rather it was “whiteness” and misogyny which played a pivotal role...

    None of this is to say that Hillary Clinton didn’t have plenty of white people supporting her, nor that Trump didn’t have support from non-white communities. But, taken in toto, it was the angry white vote which sealed the presidency for Trump.

    12--Dislike of candidates or campaign issues was most common reason for not voting in 2016

    13--Map of Syria June 21


    Notes--

    After a 10 month-long investigation, neither the media, the DNC or the Intel agencies have produced any more evidence than they had on Day 1, in fact, many parts of their narrative are beginning to unravel. The only thing that has remained consistent throughout, is the determination of the corporate media to repeat the same lies over and over again without the slightest hesitation or remorse. Just last week, Hillary Clinton again reiterated the obvious fiction that that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously concluded that Russia hacked Democratic emails.

    But this isn't true, and Hillary knows this isn't true. So why does the media which keep repeating the lie over and over again. What's their motive?  Here's excerpt from an article by Robert Parry explains what's really going on:

    Clinton’s statement is false regarding the unanimity of the 17 agencies and misleading regarding her other claims. Both former DNI James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan acknowledged in sworn testimony last month that the Jan. 6 report alleging Russian “meddling” did not involve all 17 agencies

    Intercept: "While the document provides a rare window into the NSA’s understanding of the mechanics of Russian hacking, it does not show the underlying “raw” intelligence on which the analysis is based. A U.S. intelligence officer who declined to be identified cautioned against drawing too big a conclusion from the document because a single analysis is not necessarily definitive."...BTW, this little tidbit was sandwiched halfway through the Intercept piece: According to the Department of Homeland Security, the assessment reported reassuringly, “the types of systems we observed Russian actors targeting or compromising are not involved in vote tallying.”

    was Russian intelligence probing U.S. electoral systems? Quite plausibly yes, and it should be a matter of concern for every American as it suggests a vulnerability in the electronics behind how we vote. But did Russia actually interfere with the election or seek to use the probing to elect a particular candidate? The answer is clearly no. The article and the document it is based on should serve as a wake-up call to those who are complacent about the security of our technologies. But on a political level, we are back to square one, with often hysterical allegations surfaced as part of the media and political storm we now refer to as Russiagate
    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/was-russia-probing-u-s-electoral-systems/


    In his Senate testimony Thursday, Comey combined allegations of White House interference in the Russia probe with inflammatory accusations against Moscow. In a laudatory editorial on Friday, the New York Times singled out for praise Comey's declaration, “This is about America.”  Russia “tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act… They're coming after America.”

    The World Socialist Web Site has repeatedly explained the political issues in the anti-Russian campaign, which represents an effort by the most powerful sections of the military-intelligence apparatus, backed by the Democratic Party and the bulk of the corporate media, to force the Trump White House to adhere to the foreign policy offensive against Moscow embarked on during the second term of the Obama administration, particularly since the 2014 US-backed ultra-right coup in Ukraine.
    Those factions of the ruling class and intelligence agencies leading the anti-Russia campaign are particularly incensed that Russian intervention in Syria stymied plans to escalate the proxy civil war in that country into a full-fledged regime-change operation. They want to see Assad in Syria meet the same fate as Gaddafi in Libya and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Their fanatical hatred of Putin indicates that they have similar ambitions in mind for the Russian president.

    Here's what Comey said in his testimony:

    "I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, 'We need to get that fact out.... The President went on to say that if there were some 'satellite' associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn't done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren't investigating him."

    Comey's statement confirms that Trump supported the apprehension of  "associates of his who did something wrong."

    This is not about truth or fairness or protecting this country from foreign threats. It's about toppling a democratically-elected government that the permanent class in Washington doesn't like. For the record, collusion with a foreign government against the interests of the United States  is tantamount to treason. It is  definitely a moral crime and we would never defend it, we would attack it.  But there's no evidence that it actually happened. This whole story is a hoax, it's a lie that those who tell it are beginning to believe. That is the definition of mass hysteria. It is deeply hurting our country and yet, otherwise smart people are press forward as if it is all entirely real, despite mounting evidence that it's not real at all. Yesterday, for example, James Comey told the Senate that a major New York Times story from February that pushed a "Russia collusion" narrative was actually garbage. The story in question, you won't be surprised to learn, was based on anonymous sources and, after Comey made his comments, the Times admitted it couldn't even find those sources for a response. (sarcastically) Whatever. The Russians hacked our democracy, let's find another witch to burn.
    Tucker Carlson
    http://video.foxnews.com/v/5466388729001/?playlist_id=5198073478001#sp=show-clips

    The NSA "intelligence report" the Intercept publishes along the piece does NOT show that "Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack". The document speaks of "cyber espionage operations" - i.e someone looked and maybe copied data but did not manipulate anything. Espionage via computer networks is something every nation in this world (and various private entities) do all the time. It is simply the collection of information. It is different from a "cyberattack" like Stuxnet which was intended to create large damage,


    The "attack" by someone was standard spearfishing and some visual basic scripts to gain access to accounts of local election officials. Any minor criminal hacker uses similar means. No damage is mentioned in the NSA analysis. The elections were not compromised by this operation." (Do Not Trust The Intercept or How To Burn A Source, Moon Of Alabama)

    It seems to me that the DNC-media-Intel Community establishment needed this leak to shore-up their evidence-free Russiagate storyline

     “A politicized analysis that violated normal rules for crafting intelligence assessments.”
    Here’s how veteran journalist Robert Parry summed it up:
    “The report contained no direct evidence that Russia delivered hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta to WikiLeaks….The DNI report…as presented, is one-sided and lacks any actual proof. Further, the continued use of the word “assesses”….suggests that the underlying classified information also may be less than conclusive because, in intelligence-world-speak, “assesses” often means “guesses.” (“US Report Still Lacks Proof on Russia ‘Hack’”, Robert Parry, Consortium News

    It is more important to remove Donald J Trump than leak classified information that documents that Russian Encryption has been broken.
    “Obama administration said that they do not have any evidence that Russia hacked voting”. The only reason for the GRU penetration would be to determine if they could hack the electronic voting systems. Since this was kept silent, it indicates that the systems are hackable and likely have been from the get-go by design by the corporations who built them. The only counter is paper ballots counted in public.

    The (intercept)article even says that NO EVIDENCE has been presented: "While the document provides a rare window into the NSA’s understanding of the mechanics of Russian hacking, it does not show the underlying “raw” intelligence on which the analysis is based. A U.S. intelligence officer who declined to be identified cautioned against drawing too big a conclusion from the document because a single analysis is not necessarily definitive."
    The information is a lie, just like the original report from the Director of National Intelligence, as I detail here: http://coloradopublicbanking.blogspot.com/2017/01/us-intelligence-reports-fail.html


    https://hwaairfan.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/dnc-lawsuit-attorneys-call-for-court-protection-citing-multiple-suspicious-deaths/

    https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/apr/25/unequal-russia-is-anger-stirring-in-the-global-capital-of-inequality

    Einsatzgruppen  rolling putsch

    Mueller is a card-carrying apparatchik of the Deep State, who was there at the founding of today's surveillance monster as Director of the FBI in the aftermath of 9/11. Since the whole $75 billion apparatus that eventually emerged was based on a vastly exaggerated threat of global Islamic terrorism that doesn't exist, Russia had to be demonized into order to keep the game going----a transition that Mueller fully subscribed to.
    So he will "find" extensive Russian interference in the 2016 election and bring the hammer down on the Donald for seeking to prevent it from coming to light. The clock is now ticking and his investigatory team is being loaded up with prosecutorial killers who have proven records of thuggery when it comes to finding crimes that make for the fame and fortune of the prosecutors----even if the crime itself never happened. David Stockman

    The January 6th presentation of the Steele "dossier" to Trump was an outright act of Hoover-style blackmail by the FBI director; and a ringing statement that the phony "Russian meddling" narrative would be used against the White House whenever it suited the purposes of Comey and the Deep State he represented.


    Saturday, June 17, 2017

    Today's Links

    1--Human Rights Watch report: US using white phosphorous in Raqqa and Mosul


    If Assad or Putin used these weapons it would be headline news. When the US uses them, hardly a whimper

    “Horrific civilian harm from previous use of white phosphorus has generated public outrage and this latest use of white phosphorus underscores the urgent need for states to strengthen international law relating to incendiary weapons,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch
    A Raqqa resident living in Beirut told the New York Times that an internet cafe in Raqqa was recently hit by white phosphorus, killing around 20 people...

    In early 2017, US Marine artillery deployed to Syria in support of the operation to retake Raqqa, an operation in which Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are also participating. The Washington Post published photographs of the deployed Marine unit equipped with white phosphorus projectiles, as well as similar pictures showing white phosphorus projectiles with US Army units outside Mosul. The SDF announced the offensive to take Raqqa from ISIS on June 6. The reason for this use of white phosphorus cannot be determined from the videos, which shows white phosphorus being used just after sunset...

    In both Mosul and Raqqa, the US-led forces are using US-made M825-series 155mm artillery projectiles containing 116 felt wedges impregnated with white phosphorus, which ignites and continues to burn when exposed to the air. This is the only type of 155mm white phosphorus projectile in US stocks that can be air-burst. Neither ISIS nor Syrian government forces are known to possess or have used these US-made munitions...

    On contact, white phosphorus can also burn people, thermally and chemically, down to the bone as it is highly soluble in fat, and therefore in human flesh. White phosphorus fragments can exacerbate wounds even after treatment and can enter the bloodstream and cause multiple organ failure. Already dressed wounds can reignite when dressings are removed and they are re-exposed to oxygen. Even relatively minor burns are often fatal.
    Attacks using air-delivered incendiary weapons in civilian areas are prohibited under Protocol III of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). While the protocol contains weaker restrictions for ground-launched incendiary weapons, all types of incendiary weapons produce horrific injuries. Protocol III applies only to weapons that are “primarily designed” to set fires or cause burns, and thus some countries believe it excludes certain multipurpose munitions with incendiary effects, notably those containing white phosphorus


    2--Syria: Expert analysis shows US-led coalition use of white phosphorus may amount to war crime


    The US-led coalition’s use of white phosphorus munitions on the outskirts of al-Raqqa, Syria is unlawful and may amount to a war crime, Amnesty International can confirm after verifying five videos of the incident.
    The videos, published online on 8 and 9 June, showed the coalition’s artillery strike using the munitions over the civilian neighborhoods of Jezra and el-Sebahiya. International humanitarian law prohibits the use of white phosphorus near civilians.

    “The use of white phosphorus munitions by the US-led coalition gravely endangers the lives of thousands of civilians trapped in and around al-Raqqa city, and may amount to a war crime under these circumstances. It can cause horrific injuries by burning through flesh and bone and can pose a threat even weeks after being deployed by reigniting and burning at extremely high temperatures,” said Samah Hadid, Middle East Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International.

    3--US uses Banned Weapons --US-led coalition’s white phosphorus use in Mosul ‘not within int’l legal framework’ – rights groups


    4--Russian Warplanes Foil Daesh Attack in Deir ez-Zor, Eliminate 180 Terrorists


    Syrian government forces control over a half of Deir ez-Zor, which has been besieged by Daesh militants over three years. The Syrian forces continue an offensive aimed at lifting the siege and creating supply lines for the city’s residents. Presently, the only means of delivering supplies to the city is by air.


    5--Rolling back ISIS in Iraq


    the Iraqi Armed Forces have liberated the Iraqi-Syrian-Jordanian borders, marking the first time since 2014 that their forces have established control over this area.


    6--US releases documents of Iran’s 1953 Coup


    On the preface of this volume published by the Department of State it is said that ‘This Foreign Relations retrospective volume focuses on the use of covert operations by the Truman and Eisenhower administrations as an adjunct to their respective policies toward Iran, culminating in the overthrow of the Mosadeq government in August 1953.’


    This volume contains a lot of documents about the correspondences between the US embassy in Tehran, the US Department of State and the CIA.

    In one of the published documents on August 19, 1953, there is a five-million-dollar request of CIA agent from the US to help Zahedi’s government which reveals that the US besides its advising role in launching the coup had the direct role of funding the coup makers against Mosadeq government.


    7--Putin's Syrian Surge--Operation Grand Dawn; Syrian Army's main thrust of the war aimed at liberating Iraqi border Abu Kamal, Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, all on the shores of the Euphrates....


    Apart from lip service and a ceremonial strike on Syrian weaponry west of al-Tanf, the Americans have shown no signal that they are willing to walk the extra mile to wrestle the border from Moscow, Tehran and Damascus.


    They have also shown no reaction to the launch of Operation Grand Dawn, which is being billed as the largest in the 7-year conflict, against ISIS. Government troops have retaken more than 1,300 sq.km of area in the Syrian Desert, between the ancient city of Palmyra and the eastern Kalamoon district. They have also reclaimed the Palmyra-Damascus Highway and are heading for al-Tanf, hoping to secure the triangle of the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi borders. The Trump White House has done nothing to stop them.


    In Damascus, the feeling is that the Americans will not lift a finger to help their proxies, being satisfied with securing their share of the Syrian patchwork, which covers everything east of the Euphrates River and includes pockets of Kurdish self-rule areas, now held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the only militia on the Syrian battlefield still receiving heavy US arms and military assistance....


    This was largely in response to an early May military drill by the US and Jordanian militaries called “Eager Lion.” Although annually practised since 2010, the troop build-up raised eyebrows in Iran, where generals saw it as a prelude to a massive operation by the Jordanian Army, aimed at carving a safe zone out of southern Syria and taking the remainder of the Syrian- Iraqi border.


    More than half of it is in the hands of US-backed Kurdish forces while the strategic frontier city of Abu Kamal is occupied by the Islamic State (ISIS). Iranians worried that, if the Americans manage to take what was left through their proxies, this would sever the Damascus-Baghdad Highway, which is the only route for Hezbollah arms and money transported by land from Iran to Lebanon, first through Iraq and then via Syria.


    In response the Syrian Army announced Operation Grand Dawn, officially aimed at liberating the eastern desert from ISIS. It is a multifaceted operation involving Syrian government troops, the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) and Hezbollah — with Russian air cover, of course.


    It aims to retake three strategic cities in the clutches of ISIS: Abu Kamal, Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, all on the shores of the Euphrates....


    Relieved from fighting in those four territories, the Syrian Army has regrouped and marched with full weight towards the Iraqi border, seemingly assured by the Turks, via Russia, that they won’t get attacked on other fronts while doing so.

    It was Erdogan’s way of telling the Americans: “If the Kurdish project does not end, I can and will create havoc for the Americans elsewhere in the Syrian battlefield, even if it means letting the regime secure a victory on the border.”


    8--Robert Mueller is not trustworthy  


    FBI special agent – and a 2002 Time Person of the Year – Colleen Rowley writes:

    Mueller’s FBI was also severely criticized by Department of Justice Inspector Generals finding the FBI overstepped the lhttp://www.washingtonsblog.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=68066&action=edita... 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.”

    Torture

    FBI special agent Colleen Rowley points out:
    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.
    Conclusion

    Rather than being “above the fray”, Mueller is an authoritarian and water-carrier for the status quo and the powers-that-be.

    As Coleen Rowley puts it:

    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. He is just “their man.” 


    9--Gallup Finds Stunning Decline in Americans’ Respect for U.S. Government


    “Gallup’s latest update shows that 28% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the federal government, while 55% have an unfavorable opinion. That’s the lowest rating for any business or industry sector we tested.” Here are the details on that net minus 27% (55% minus 28%) favorability-rating by Americans for “The federal government”:...


    the reason why Americans dislike “The federal government” isn’t that it’s ‘too big’ or ‘spends too much money’ or any of the other excuses that the (widely despised) Republican Party claims, but is instead that, “Americans think that Congress is corrupt and not focused on the interests of the people. They want their representatives to compromise rather than rigidly stick to principles.” 


    10--Trump comments deepen conflict with Department of Justice


    Trump’s thinly veiled attack on Rosenstein could be a precursor either to Trump demanding that Rosenstein fire Mueller—which he would likely refuse—or Trump’s firing Rosenstein himself. Or Rosenstein might seek to forestall such a confrontation by recusing himself from further involvement in the Mueller-led probe, on the grounds that his own actions in firing Comey were now a subject of the investigation.

    Any of these alternatives would have the same outcome: decision-making authority over Mueller and the Russia investigation would pass into the hands of the third-ranking official in the Department of Justice, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, a former Bush administration official who later served as chief counsel for the US Chamber of Commerce.


    There were several unconfirmed press reports Friday, citing unnamed sources in the Justice Department, that Rosenstein was preparing to recuse himself. ABC News reported that Rosenstein had already notified Brand that she would take over if he did so.

    Right-wing media backers of Trump have been preparing the ground for Trump to fire Rosenstein, Mueller or both. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich this week called Mueller “now clearly the tip of the deep state spear aimed at destroying or at a minimum undermining and crippling the Trump presidency...


    President Trump cannot invoke executive privilege in relation to the Mueller investigation because it is being conducted by the Justice Department, an arm of the executive branch itself. As determined by the Supreme Court during the Watergate crisis of 1973-74, executive privilege can only be cited in relation to congressional investigations, since it stems from the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. Trump’s only recourse is to dismiss Mueller outright.


    11--Palace coup or class struggle: The political crisis in Washington and the strategy of the working class


    The working class confronts in Trump and his administration a vicious enemy, dedicated to the destruction of its democratic rights and a further lowering of its living standards. It is a government that is pursuing an international agenda based on “America First” chauvinism. The working class must oppose this government and seek its removal. But this task must not be entrusted to Trump’s factional opponents in the ruling class. The working class cannot remain a bystander in the fight between Trump and the Democrats. Rather, it must develop its struggle against Trump under its own banner and with its own program. This requires that it has a clear understanding of the class dynamics of the unfolding political crisis....


    The maniacal focus on Russia is not an accident. Trump’s foreign policy priorities are focused, as is well known, on confronting China. His alleged advocacy of a “deal” with Russia is incompatible with the strategic plan backed by dominant sections of the military, intelligence and foreign policy establishment. The destruction of Russia’s ability to frustrate American military operations is seen as central to control of the Eurasian landmass, without which an American victory in the long-term conflict with China is considered impossible.


    If Trump were removed from office by his opponents in the “deep state” and the Democratic Party, it would not represent a victory for democracy, let alone an improvement in the conditions of the working class. Under the Obama administration, the ruling class oversaw the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in US history, as well as an expansion of war abroad and a continued growth in the power of the military-intelligence apparatus. Hillary Clinton, the favored candidate of Wall Street, was pledged to deepen all of these policies while escalating the war in Syria and the confrontation with Russia. The Democrats are not calling for hearings on the assault on health care, the attack on immigrant workers, the elevation of far-right nationalist forces within the administration, or war plans against North Korea, Iran and China.

    If the Democrats were to achieve their aims, with the removal of Trump through some form of political coup, it would place Vice President Mike Pence in the White House, a man more polished than Trump but no less reactionary...

    The latest eruption of political warfare in Washington is rooted in intractable social, economic and geopolitical crises that are eroding the foundations of the global dominance and national stability of American capitalism. Twenty-five years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the efforts of American imperialism to sustain its dominance through military action have led to a series of debacles. Nearly a decade after the global economic crash of 2008, in which the recklessness of Wall Street played the major role, the American financial system remains highly unstable, sustained by an endless expansion of debt. The diseased character of the American economic system has created an oligarchic social system, the chief characteristics of which are parasitism and a staggering level of social inequality.


    The election of Trump was not an accident. Trump is the personification of the oligarchy that rules America. His administration, composed of billionaires and former generals, is sharply escalating a bipartisan program of social counterrevolution and reckless militarism internationally. But within the ruling class there exist bitter divisions over how American capitalism should respond to its national and international problems. These divisions have assumed, under Trump, an extraordinary intensity.


    12--Corporate mass murder in London


    the death toll from Grenfell is expected to exceed the combined total resulting from every terrorist attack in the UK since the beginning of the so-called war on terror in 2001.
    Whenever a terrorist attack has taken place in Britain over the last decade, the full force of the state has been brought to bear. Police have carried out raids on every person who is linked, even in the most innocuous way, to the individual terrorist. They have been immediately arrested and hauled off to be detained and grilled for days on end. In response to the Grenfell fire, not a single person in any responsible position has yet been arrested, let alone charged.
    Instead we are promised a toothless inquiry!

    13--Putin preaches Greater Europe


    Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl considered that Russia and Europe should be together, and Moscow is ready for such a unity, so Europe should aspire to that, Putin said Saturday.
    "If we want to keep our civilization in this turbulent and rapidly changing world with growing centers of power — not only military power, but also economic and cultural — then, of course, Europe and Russia should be together," Putin said, citing Kohl's ideas.

    14--Eurasian Integration


    A tectonic geopolitical shift happened in Astana, Kazakhstan, only a few days ago, and yet barely a ripple registered in Atlanticist circles.

    At the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), founded in 2001, both India and Pakistan were admitted as full members, alongside Russia, China and four Central Asian “stans” (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan).
    So now the SCO not only qualifies as the largest political organization – by area and population – in the world; it also unites four nuclear powers. The G-7 is irrelevant, as the latest summit in Taormina made it clear. The real action now, apart from the G-20, also lays in this alternative G-8...

    Now the SCO is actively warning about the security “deterioration” in Afghanistan and calling for all members to support the “peace and reconciliation” process. That’s code for the SCO from now on directly engaged in finding an “all-Asian” Afghan solution – with both India and Pakistan on board – that should transcend the failed Pentagon “remedy”; more troops.  ...

    Make no mistake; there will be SCO action in Afghanistan. And that will include bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. China has taken over the rotating presidency of the SCO and will be keen to show practical results in the next summit in June 2018.
    Step on the gas, pay in yuan...

    The SCO has also steadily evolved in terms of economic cooperation. Last year Gu Xueming, head of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation at the Ministry of Commerce, proposed a SCO economic think tank alliance, also tasked to study the set up of SCO free trade zones.


    This spells out further economic integration – already ongoing for scores of small-and medium-sized businesses. The trend is inevitable, in parallel to the interpenetration of the New Silk Roads, a.k.a. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Russian-led Eurasia Economic Union (EEU). 
    So no wonder at their bilateral meeting in Astana, Xi and President Putin once again exhorted the merging of BRI and EEU. And we’re not talking only about the BRI, EEU and SCO trio; that also concerns the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the BRICS’s New Development Bank (NDB), the Chinese Silk Road Fund — a full array of politico-economic mechanisms....

    Crucially, both China and Russia are also on the same page in terms of fast-tracking Iran’s admission as a full SCO member.
    Now compare it with US Secretary of State “T.Rex” Tillerson calling for regime change in Iran.
    As Eurasia integration inexorably moves in leaps and bounds, the contrast with the proverbially swampy Atlanticist arrogance could not be more glaring....

    Beijing already understood the ultra high stakes ramifications via its relationship with Qatar – a key natural gas provider sooner or later to accept payment for energy in yuan.
    Qatar’s quiet pivot towards Iran – the key reason that drove the cornered House of Saud absolutely bonkers – revolves around the common exploitation of the largest gas field in the world, North Dome/South Pars, which they share in the Persian Gulf.
    It took a while for Doha to realize that after the “4+1” established facts on the ground a gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey via Saudi Arabia and Syria for the European market will never happen. Ankara also knows it. But there might eventually be an Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline – even with a possible extension to Turkey — with gas jointly provided by North Dome/South Pars...

    Make no mistake; the – inexorable – future spells out trading energy not in petrodollars but in yuan, which is convertible to gold. ..

    Like Terminator, the US deep state will be back. An expanded wet dream remains to create the conditions for the destabilization of a vast stretch from the Levant to South Asia — with possible future terror waves expanding north to Russia and east to China. The target: the interpenetration of BRI, EEU and the SCO.