Monday, July 31, 2017

Harold Pinter - Nobel Lecture 2005 (excerpt)

"The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."

Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America's favoured method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as 'low intensity conflict'. Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been subdued - or beaten to death - the same thing - and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed...

The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.

Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It's a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, 'the American people', as in the sentence, 'I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.'

It's a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable. This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US.

The United States no longer bothers about low intensity conflict. It no longer sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It quite simply doesn't give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant. It also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain.....

What has happened to our moral sensibility? Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely employed these days - conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead? Look at Guantanamo Bay. Hundreds of people detained without charge for over three years, with no legal representation or due process, technically detained forever. This totally illegitimate structure is maintained in defiance of the Geneva Convention. It is not only tolerated but hardly thought about by what's called the 'international community'. This criminal outrage is being committed by a country, which declares itself to be 'the leader of the free world'. Do we think about the inhabitants of Guantanamo Bay? What does the media say about them? They pop up occasionally - a small item on page six. They have been consigned to a no man's land from which indeed they may never return. At present many are on hunger strike, being force-fed, including British residents. No niceties in these force-feeding procedures. No sedative or anesthetic. Just a tube stuck up your nose and into your throat. You vomit blood. This is torture. What has the British Foreign Secretary said about this? Nothing. What has the British Prime Minister said about this? Nothing. Why not? Because the United States has said: to criticize our conduct in Guantanamo Bay constitutes an unfriendly act. You're either with us or against us. So Blair shuts up....

The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading - as a last resort - all other justifications having failed to justify themselves - as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.

We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.

How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice. Therefore if any American soldier or for that matter politician finds himself in the dock Bush has warned that he will send in the marines. But Tony Blair has ratified the Court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the Court have his address if they're interested. It is Number 10, Downing Street, London...

Here is an extract from a poem by Pablo Neruda, 'I'm Explaining a Few Things':.

Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
the blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
in the streets!

Today's links

1--  How Trump Can Show Us Whether He Was Spied On ACLU a start, we are calling on President Trump to immediately declassify any court orders or other materials that he claims provided the basis for improper spying on his campaign officials. To avoid concerns that he is cherry picking information that suits him, he should release all relevant documents, while taking the steps necessary to appropriately protect individuals’ privacy. This is an action that President Trump can take unilaterally without approval from Congress or intelligence agency officials.

2--FBI lawyer allegedly under investigation for purportedly leaking about Yahoo, Inc. program (Mutiny at the FBI??)

The FBI’s top lawyer is allegedly under investigation for purportedly leaking classified material featured in a Reuters report last year that disclosed a top-secret U.S. surveillance program built by Yahoo Inc, according to several government officials with knowledge of the investigation.

The Reuters report disclosed the software program developed by Yahoo Inc. for the U.S. government that allowed the intelligence community to search Yahoo emails containing specific characters or phrases. The U.S. government has not publicly acknowledged the program.

James A. Baker, the general counsel for the FBI, is allegedly under a criminal investigation for an apparent connection to the story published in October 2016, according to several government officials. The Reuters report exposed the top secret security program built by Yahoo Inc. in 2015, that has not been disclosed by the U.S. government. The program, which was built at the request of the U.S. government, allowed intelligence officials to scan what is known as "upstream data" using specific characters or phrase words, according to Reuters. Upstream data is information from a device such as phone or a computer to a server.

Reuters stated that Yahoo Inc. complied with a classified demand by the U.S. government, “scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said three former employees and a fourth person apprised of the events.”...

A senior government official, with close knowledge of the intelligence community, alleges Baker opposed the Yahoo Inc. software program and has in his position at the FBI held up Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants. The warrants allow the intelligence community to monitor person’s communications overseas and must be approved through the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

“Under Baker, many FISA warrants languished for both counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations,” the source said.

3--Robert Schiller is worried

"The calm before the storm?"

4--U.S. Companies Post Profit Growth Not Seen in Six Years-- Strong earnings come as tax and infrastructure initiatives that were expected to spur economy have been sidetracked amid Washington infighting

America’s largest companies are on pace to post two consecutive quarters of double-digit profit growth for the first time since 2011, helped by years of cost-cutting, a weaker dollar and stronger consumer spending.

Earnings at S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 11% in the second quarter, according to data from Thomson Reuters, following a 15% increase in the first quarter. Close to 60% of the firms in the index have reported second-quarter results so far.

Corporate America’s strong earnings performance comes as several policy initiatives that were expected to help boost companies’ bottom line—corporate-tax cuts and increased government spending on infrastructure—have been sidetracked amid political infighting in Washington, D.C., which culminated with the recent failure of the health-law bill....

Even as activity inside the Beltway bogged down, the markets have been on an almost nonstop rally since the election. The S&P 500 is up 16% since early November and 10% this year....

Companies are reporting solid cash flow, but capital spending has been weak until recently. Uncertainty over tax policy may exacerbate that reluctance to invest, Mr. Aguilar said. “Tax reform is clearly what the future may require for these numbers to continue on the same pace.”

5--Putin confirms expulsion of US diplomats from Russia

At one level, the American actions, heightening the dangers of a military confrontation between the world’s two major nuclear-armed powers, are certainly “weird” and irrational. But it must be emphasised that this insanity arises from the objective logic of the profit system and the position of the US within the framework of the global capitalist economy.

Faced with a worsening economic position, both absolutely and relative to its main imperialist rivals, the US is seeking to maintain its position of global dominance by asserting control over the Eurasian landmass. The present Russian regime is viewed as an obstacle in the achievement of that objective.

It is significant that the US sanctions are aimed not only against Russia, but impact as well Washington’s present allies within Western Europe, above all Germany, and are intended to disrupt the formation of closer economic ties between European Union nations and Russia.

The sanctions could affect European companies seeking to invest in Russian energy supplies. Last week, the chairman of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, warned that “America-first cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last.” He said the US legislation could have unintended consequences.

The biggest concern is the Nord Stream 2 gas project, which is being co-financed by a group of German, French, British, Dutch and Austrian firms. As the Financial Times reported last week: “Germany is gravely concerned by what it sees as a US claim to extraterritorial rights over the European energy market and about the clear aim of US legislation to protect US economic interests.”

It cited a joint statement issued by Germany and Austria a month ago that condemned the US legislation for introducing a “new and very negative quality” into transatlantic relations.

6--Which Way Out of the Venezuelan Crisis?

7--Trump slams China over North Korean missile

8--The Sanctions Backfire

Jacques Myard said that “American law is being used to gain markets and eliminate competitors.  We should not be na├»ve and wake up to what is happening.”

9--What really happened in Venezuela

10--Obama administration “unmasking” scandal “goes beyond” key officials like Susan Rice 

11-- Going Ballistic?

12-- Threatening Russia 2015??

In October 2015, officials from the Russian federation announced the opening of an air campaign to assist the Syrian government in fighting terrorism and restoring security to the people of Syria.
Maria Zakharova, Russia's Foreign Affairs Spokesperson recalls the threats of violence that were delivered at the high level of the Minister of Foreign Affairs "We were asked to pass on to you the most serious warnings that Russia will be hurt by their actions.. They will make sure that Russia really knows what pain is." . and this came from diplomats during diplomatic discussions. "Keep in mind that everything you do will be manipulated by a media company which will cancel out the real (positive) effects of your work. ..You are going to fight terrorists, but you will be made to look like the bad guy." We were told this in October 2015...These threats were delivered to us many times during oct 2015 as part of the discussions with the Russia's Representative of Foreign Affairs and his international counterparts (During Kerry-Lavrov meetings) (This message was delivered to Sergei Lavorov's senior colleagues in the diplomatic corps)"We are talking about the world's elite who told us these things." When we told them exactly what targets we planned to strike, they launched a disinformation media campaign against us. Officials from the White House and State Department directly threatened to hurt us. So the things they said to us privately in October, they were now stating publicly. Theuy promised us "grave" and "coming home in body bags" not only diplomatic representatives but also the secretary of defense. and of course all of this was regurgitated in the media....All of the (anti-Russian) campaigns over the last couple of years have been supported by the official  Ministreis of Foreign Affairs of other states, either financially or by other means." "That which began in oct 2015,  ended with the murder of our ambassador in October 2016."
The US deliberately blocked the Russian ambassador from inquiring about the shelling of the Russian embassay in Damascus. The people who blocked the questions, were the same people who threated Russia in oct 2015  TheUS showed us that the strongest military has unlimited rights to create evil in the world."  The US is leading the world into a dead end.

13--Circa News: Ex-intelligence contractor sues Comey  June 6

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Today's Links

1--FBI lawyer under investigation for leaking about yahoo secret program

2--Low-Income Earners See Weekly Pay Gain Faster Than Other Groups

Tighter labor market appears to be leading to better pay for workers making the least

Average hourly earnings have been stuck near a 2.5% annual increase for most of the past year and a half. But the jobs report shows stronger wage growth in the lowest-paying broad sector tracked, hospitality.

3--Why Small Firms Are Giving Out 15% Pay Raises-- Wage growth is approaching that of bigger companies, in part to keep poaching at bay

Wage growth for existing employees accelerated by 1.07% annually over the past three years at companies with fewer than 50 employees, according to an analysis of ADP data by Moody’s Analytics for The Wall Street Journal—well above the 0.69% average increase for firms of all sizes over the same period.
Small businesses are feeling the pressure, Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said. “They have to work harder to keep employees now that the labor market is tight.”
There were 5.7 million job openings in May, the latest month for which data were available, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics....

According to a June survey of roughly 800 companies by the Journal and Vistage Worldwide Inc., 58% of small-business owners reported increased difficulties finding needed workers. Many have responded by boosting pay or benefits, while others have stepped up training or slowed the pace of growth.
Craig Zoberis, president of Fusion OEM, a contract manufacturer outside Chicago, has raised hourly pay for entry-level workers by $1 for each of the past three years. Over the past two years, he has also stepped up efforts to reward the best employees on his production floor, who can now see their pay jump by as much as 73% over a four-year period.
“With the competition going on for top employees, we had to meet and exceed what the marketplace is looking for,” he said.

4--U.S. Economy Glides Back to Steady, Modest Growth Path-- Economy enters ninth year of expansion, growing at a 2.6% annual rate in the second quarter

The U.S. entered the ninth year of economic expansion in steady but unspectacular fashion that shows little sign of abating.
Gross domestic product, a broad measure of goods and services produced in the U.S., expanded at a 2.6% annual rate in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday, a rebound after a tepid start to the year.

The figures repeated a familiar pattern of weak winters followed by a stronger spring and summer, leaving overall growth subdued. “The economy is on cruise control. Unfortunately cruise control is about 2%,” said Diane Swonk, founder of DS Economics.

The U.S. emerged from recession in mid-2009. Since then, GDP growth has averaged 2.1%. In contrast, growth averaged 3.6% during a 10-year span in the 1990s and 4.9% during a nearly nine-year stretch in the 1960s, the only two expansions with longer durations...

In the 1960s, for example, runaway inflation led the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and curtail growth. Today, broad measures of inflation are historically weak. The price index for personal-consumption expenditures—the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge—rose at an annual rate of 0.3% in the second quarter. That is well below the Fed’s 2% target. Core prices, which exclude volatile food and energy costs, increased 0.9% at an annual rate during the quarter. ....

Against that backdrop, stocks and corporate profits are marching higher and volatility in markets is low. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is less than 200 points shy of the 22000 mark after rising 0.15% Friday 21830.31.
On Friday, the biggest U.S. energy companies reported robust profits. Exxon Mobil Corp. nearly doubled its net income compared with a year ago and Chevron Corp. saw profits jump to $1.45 billion in the second quarter. Earlier in the week, Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest heavy-machinery maker, delivered an upbeat earnings report amid growing demand in China’s construction sector and a revitalization of the mining industry...

Businesses also have been upbeat. A measure of corporate spending, nonresidential fixed investment, climbed at a 5.2% pace. While that was down from the previous quarter, it is still one of the best readings since 2014. Investment in equipment was even stronger; it grew at 8.2% pace

5-- War-Torn Syria’s Battered Economy Marked by Inflation and Poverty 

Nation’s GDP has dropped by more than half this decade; ‘a pretty nightmarish’ situation

The fabric of society has been destroyed,” said Jihad Yazigi, Beirut-based editor of an economic trade publication, The Syria Report....

After the Syrian government recently introduced a 2,000-pound bank note—the largest denomination it has ever issued—a satirical obituary circulated online for a currency that has lost 90% of its value over more than six years of war.
“The Central Bank of Syria is accepting condolences,” it announced.

The introduction of the note, worth less than $4, comes as Syria’s economy is in tatters, grappling with wartime inflation, lost production and widespread poverty that could threaten stability even in regime-held areas.

Syria’s consumer-price index soared more than 500% between 2010 and 2016, according to Syrian economists and local news reports that cited the Syrian government’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

Incomes haven’t kept pace. The average civil servant’s salary was worth at least $200 a month before the conflict; now, even with raises, it is only worth less than $60, because of the falling currency.
The World Bank estimates that Syria’s gross domestic product has fallen by more than half this decade.      ....

The sharp fall in economic activity has cost at least two million people their jobs and about 60% of Syrians are unable to buy food and essential nonfood items, according to the Bank....

Between 4 million and 5 million Syrians receive food aid from the World Food Program each month. Another million or so receive other food assistance, according to the World Bank. Many who receive food aid end up selling some of it to buy other necessities.
In Aleppo, residents contend with dayslong power cuts months after battles for the city subsided. Some who receive meat as food aid try to sell it on the street because they are unable to refrigerate it or cook it at home and hope to make some money before it goes bad, according to former residents in touch with people in the city.

6-- Who Paid for the ‘Trump Dossier’?  Democrats don’t want you to find out—and that ought to be a scandal of its own.

Here’s a thought: What if it was the Democratic National Committee or Hillary Clinton’s campaign? What if that money flowed from a political entity on the left, to a private law firm, to Fusion, to a British spook, and then to Russian sources? Moreover, what if those Kremlin-tied sources already knew about this dirt-digging, tipped off by Mr. Akhmetshin? What if they specifically made up claims to dupe Mr. Steele, to trick him into writing this dossier?

7--Party Time! Weak Dollar Unleashes Record Stock Run -- Faster economic growth globally with low inflation is also a factor

Profits at companies in the S&P 500 rose 14% in the first three months of the year, and second-quarter earnings are projected to have climbed 8.2% versus the prior-year period, according to FactSet.
“Earnings in general have been very good,” said Paul Brigandi, managing director and head of trading at Direxion Investments, an exchange-traded fund provider. “That’s fueled the continued optimism in the market.”
The declining dollar is also helping drive earnings higher. U.S. exports become cheaper to foreign buyers when the dollar’s value falls

8-- Wall Street Needs You to Borrow Against Your Stock  --A boom in securities-backed lending is bolstering bank profits, but critics say it doesn’t always benefit clients, and regulators have been keeping a close eye on the practice

Today's links

1---Talk about meddling??? Venezuela Needs Negotiation, Not American Intervention

Recent U.S. involvement in Venezuela's domestic affairs has dwarfed anything anyone has even accused Vladimir Putin of doing here.

According to the U.S. State Department, Washington "provided training, institution building, and other support to individuals and organizations understood to be actively involved" in the 2002 military coup against former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that ultimately failed. And since the coup, Washington has provided tens of millions of dollars to the Venezuelan opposition.

In 2013, when the opposition initiated violent protests to overturn the results of a democratic election, Washington supported the protesters. The same was again true in 2014.

Today, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., openly threatens governments in the region, including those of the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Haiti, with punishment if they do not cooperate with Washington's abuse of the Organization of American States to delegitimize the government of Venezuela

2--Eva Golinger on Venezuela troubles

Over one hundred Venezuelans have been killed during months of anti-government protests, some at the hands of state repression, others by protestors using letal weapons.  The demonstrations arose from the massive discontent throughout the country as food shortages, lack of access to medications, skyrocketing inflation and erosion of democratic institutions have intensified since Maduro won office by a slim margin in 2013.  The opposition has made no attempt to conceal its objective of regime change and efforts by the Venezuelan government to dialogue were met with skepticism and distrust and resulted ineffective.  The more the opposition ramps up its protests, the deeper in the government digs.  Neither side seems poised to negotiate a way out of what could become the region’s next elongated, bloody war.

3--US second provocation against Iran in a week

4--These Charts Show the Fed’s Stress Tests as a Dangerous Illusion

5--Why Wall Street Should Be Viewed as a Major National Threat

6--New York Times Runs Editorial Today on the Mega Banks: You Need to Pay Attention

7--After Passing Stress Tests, Wall Street Banks to Spend Like a Drunken Sailor – on their Own Stock Buybacks

8--John Brennan, at the heart of Russiagate

Russiagate, which is less of an ‘investigation’ than it is a public relations ‘smear campaign’,  is the predictable reaction to Washington’s colossal defeat in Aleppo. It is an attempt to expand on the economic sanctions-meme, that is, to use all the tools at one’s disposal to wage war on the enemy. Russia has become the single greatest obstacle to Uncle Sam’s imperial ambitions; it is the emergent threat of which Paul Wolfowitz warned during the Bush years.  This is why Russia is relentlessly demonized by the media, penalized with harsh economic sanctions, and disparaged among the allies.  And this is why Brennan launched Russiagate. It’s a form of asymmetrical retaliation, 4th Generation “hybrid” warfare, all of which falls under the heading of  “Full Spectrum Dominance”, the cornerstone of the Pentagon’s war doctrine.According to Mother Jones, it was not the FBI that initiated the “Trump-Russia connection”.. but ..”Former CIA Director John Brennan says he was the one who got the ball rolling.”...

we now know that the foundation upon which they have built their pyramid of lies, the so called Intelligence Community Assessment, was written by hand-picked analysts whose conclusions were arguably twisted to fit the policy. In other words, the ICA is a thoroughly-unreliable document that represents the political objectives of its authors. In layman’s terms, it’s worthless....

Here’s a blurb from Politico’s Austin Wright on the same Brennan quote from above:

“(Brennan’s) remarks, before the House Intelligence Committee, are the most direct acknowledgment yet by a current or former U.S. official that Russia sought to recruit Americans to help in its effort to affect the 2016 contest. The remarks also further complicate matters for President Donald Trump, who has dismissed the investigations into Russia’s election meddling as a “witch hunt.” (Politico)

This is delusional.  There’s no evidence “that Russia sought to recruit Americans”. None...

at Motherboard:

“Thursday, the Department of Justice released the 99-page court opinion from last month that ordered the National Security Agency to delete much of its surveillance on American people, which was collected improperly and in potential violation of the Fourth Amendment. The DOJ released the opinion as part of a 2015 plan to be more transparent…..The court order triggered the surprise announcement two weeks ago that the agency would be severely scaling back its domestic surveillance and destroying previously collected data on Americans….

According to the opinion—parts of which are redacted—the NSA improperly collected untold numbers of “multi-communications transactions” (MCTs) as they were in transit around the internet. The NSA is intentionally vague about what MCTs are, but they are believed to be groups of emails, metadata, screenshots of your inbox, and still-classified types of digital information (here’s the best primer explaining MCTs). (“This Is the Secret Court Order That Forced the NSA to Delete the Data It Collected About You”, Motherboard)...

(“Circa has reported that there was a three-fold increase in NSA data searches about Americans and a rise in the unmasking of U.S. person’s identities in intelligence reports after Obama loosened the privacy rules in 2011.”) It’s worth noting, that the ultimate goal of these massive domestic-surveillance programs is to create a lock-down society where the behavior of every citizen can be completely monitored and controlled.

Trump may be a rotten president but, in the big scheme of things, he’s just small potatoes. What we need to know is whether a shadow government –staffed by the intel agents and political meatpuppets– now controls the levers of state power, a hidden government that might be planning to oust the president or –god help us–launch a war on Russia.

9--  Russiagate timeline--3 days after Hillary learned that WikiLeaks was going to release damaging emails, she discovered that the Russians hacked DNC computers. Got that?? (Hahahahaha)

The Time Sequence

June 12, 2016: Assange announces WikiLeaks is about to publish “emails related to Hillary Clinton.”

June 15, 2016: DNC contractor Crowdstrike, (with a dubious professional record and multiple conflicts of interest) announces that malware has been found on the DNC server and claims there is evidence it was injected by Russians.

June 15, 2016: On the same day, “Guccifer 2.0” affirms the DNC statement; claims responsibility for the “hack;” claims to be a WikiLeaks source; and posts a document that the forensics show was synthetically tainted with “Russian fingerprints.”

We do not think that the June 12 & 15 timing was pure coincidence. Rather, it suggests the start of a pre-emptive move to associate Russia with anything WikiLeaks might have been about to publish and to “show” that it came from a Russian hack.

The Key Event

July 5, 2016: In the early evening, Eastern Daylight Time, someone working in the EDT time zone with a computer directly connected to the DNC server or DNC Local Area Network, copied 1,976 MegaBytes of data in 87 seconds onto an external storage device. That speed is many times faster than what is physically possible with a hack.

10--Googles' Ministry of Truth  --The Dawn of an Orwellian Future Robert Parry 

A report by the World Socialist Web Site found that “in the three months since Internet monopoly Google announced plans to keep users from accessing ‘fake news,’ the global traffic rankings of a broad range of left-wing, progressive, anti-war and democratic rights organizations have fallen significantly.”

Google’s strategy is to downgrade search results for targeted Web sites based on a supposed desire to limit reader access to “low-quality” information, but the targets reportedly include some of the highest-quality alternative news sites on the Internet, such as – according to the report –

Google sponsors the First Draft Coalition, which was created to counter alleged “fake news” and consists of mainstream news outlets, including the Times and The Washington Post, as well as establishment-approved Web sites, such as Bellingcat, which has a close association with the anti-Russia and pro-NATO Atlantic Council.

This creation of a modern-day Ministry of Truth occurred under the cover of a mainstream-driven hysteria about “fake news” and “Russian propaganda” in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.
Last Thanksgiving Day, the Post ran a front-page article citing accusations from an anonymous Web site, PropOrNot, that identified 200 Web sites — including such Internet stalwarts as Truthdig, Counterpunch and Consortiumnews — as purveyors of “Russian propaganda.”

Apparently, PropOrNot’s standard was to smear any news outlet that questioned the State Department’s Official Narrative on the Ukraine crisis or some other global hot spot, but the Post didn’t offer any actual specifics of what these Web sites had done to earn their place on a McCarthyistic blacklist

11--Russia-gate Report Ignored Iraq-WMD Lessons

On Jan. 6, the Office of the Director for National Intelligence (DNI) released a National Intelligence Assessment (NIA), Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections. Billed as a “declassified version of a highly classified assessment” whose “conclusions are identical to those in the highly classified assessment,” the report purported to be “an analytic assessment drafted and coordinated among The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and The National Security Agency (NSA), which draws on intelligence information collected and disseminated by those three agencies.”

12--Google rigs searches to block access to World Socialist Web Site

An examination of web traffic data clearly shows that Internet giant Google is manipulating search results to block access to the World Socialist Web Site.
In April, under the guise of combatting “fake news,” Google introduced new procedures that give extraordinary powers to unnamed “evaluators” to demote web pages and websites. These procedures have been used to exclude the WSWS and other anti-war and oppositional sites.

Over the past three months, traffic originating from Google to the WSWS has fallen by approximately 70 percent. In key searches relevant to a wide range of topics the WSWS regularly covers—including US military operations and the threat of war, social conditions, inequality, and even socialism—the number of search impressions referencing the World Socialist Web Site has fallen drastically.

An “impression” is a technical term referring to a link shown by Google in response to a search result. If a search for “socialism” leads a user’s computer to show one link to the WSWS, that counts as an impression.

By manipulating the “search ranking” assigned to the pages of the WSWS, Google can drive its content lower down on the list of results. This reduces the total number of impressions, which, in turn, leads to a very low number of “clicks,” or visits to the site.
According to Google’s Webmaster Tools Service, the number of daily impressions for the World Socialist Web Site fell from 467,890 to 138,275 over the past three months

13--Massive civil liberties abuse--20 million Americans illegally unmaskedThe smoking gun--a bigger dump than Snowden

14--FBI lawyer allegedly under investigation for purportedly leaking about Yahoo, Inc. program

15--Whitelash??? Hmmmm?

Recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News polling gives the president a 40% job-approval rating among all voters, while 55% disapprove. In counties Mr. Trump won last year, however, voters still back him by 50% to 46%. Similar results come from a Washington Post/ABC News survey released Sunday, which found that the president’s approval rating had slid to 36% from 42% in April, while his disapproval rating had climbed five points to 58%. Yet among Republican voters over the same period, Mr. Trump’s favorability has barely budged and remains above 80%....

Six months into the Trump presidency, the media by and large remain unable or unwilling to understand what drives his blue-collar supporters. Journalists continue to prioritize their own political concerns and play down those of the nearly 63 million people who pulled the lever for him in November. In her new book, “White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America,” Joan C. Williams writes that “during an era when wealthy white Americans have learned to sympathetically imagine the lives of the poor, people of color, and LGBTQ people, the white working class has been insulted or ignored during precisely the period when their economic fortunes tanked.”

In an essay on the rising rate of premature deaths from suicide, opioids and alcohol poisoning primarily among less-educated whites, Carol Graham of the Brookings Institution observes that “poor blacks and Hispanics are much more optimistic about their futures than are poor whites and, in turn, mortality rates have not increased the same way among minorities.” She adds, “A critical factor is the plight of the white blue-collar worker, for whom hopes for making it to a stable, middle-class life have largely disappeared. Due in large part to technology-driven growth, blue-collar jobs in the traditional primary and secondary industries—such as coal mines and car factories—are gradually disappearing.”

Mr. Trump’s ability to appeal to these voters is the reason he won and the reason his base isn’t abandoning him, with or without a significant legislative victory at the six-month mark. Emily Ekins, a Cato Institute scholar who is part of a politically diverse team of academics and pollsters in the process of analyzing the 2016 election, told me on Monday that Trump supporters are less concerned about his policy agenda and more interested in having someone who understands them occupy the Oval Office. The president’s relentless rhetoric about the “costs” of illegal immigration and free trade, his attacks on outsourcing, and this week’s White House “Made in America” stunt are all of a piece.

I think there’s a lot of evidence to support the idea that Trump’s main appeal was validating the fears and concerns of a certain segment of Americans who felt they were being ignored by elites in the media, elites in politics, elite Republicans,” said Ms. Ekins. “My reading of the data is that he’s not on a timer or a clock. And it’s not clear to me that his supporters are waiting for him to achieve X, Y and Z policy goals. That’s an example of the press imposing their expectations on voters.”

Trump's  approval rating among white college-educated women has fallen to 31% from 44% since the election, according to Washington Post/ABC News polls. Fifty-nine percent of these voters would now prefer a Democratic Congress, compared with 35% who favor the GOP. Independent voters who initially were “somewhat approving” of Mr. Trump are increasingly “somewhat disapproving.” The stadium rallies the president holds don’t seem to be doing it for them, and they may swing back toward a Democratic Party that appears eager to pursue them.

16--How Democrats Lost Voters to Trump—and Might Win Them Back

A populist economic message could be key to recapturing some of the estimated six million who voted for Obama in 2012 but Trump in 2016

There’s no escaping that people in Trump country simply didn’t like Mrs. Clinton. In some places, she was practically toxic. Across all Trump counties, just 27% hold a positive view of her. Among independent voters in those counties, only 16% view her positively.

But much of Trump country is so deep red that it is beyond Democrats’ reach. It’s more instructive to look instead at a subset of Trump counties: those that Mr. Obama carried in 2012 but went for Mr. Trump in 2016....

In these “flip counties” Mrs. Clinton also is personally unpopular; just 30% view her favorably, while 50% have an unfavorable view. Interestingly, though, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who challenged Mrs. Clinton from the left with an antiestablishment populist message, is far more popular there. In the flip counties, 44% have a positive view of Mr. Sanders, while just 29% have a negative view.

In other words, in counties that moved from Democrats to Mr. Trump, feelings toward Mrs. Clinton are a net 20-percentage points negative, while they are a net 15-points positive for Mr. Sanders.

That suggests Mrs. Clinton, the ultimate representative of the party establishment, was a particularly ill-suited candidate for 2016. It further suggests that a populist economic message of the kind Mr. Sanders brought to the table has resonance in the areas that moved away from the Democrats.

That notion is supported by some more specific findings in the Journal/NBC survey. In the flip counties, more than half said they think the political and economic systems of the country are stacked against them. A whopping 71% said they aren’t confident their children’s generation will have a better life....

There is much about Mr. Trump’s style that flip-county residents don’t like, but they particularly like the suggestion that he is “shaking things up in Washington,” and that he is twisting corporate arms to keep jobs in the U.S. That may be because they are feeling economic strain; 66% say someone in their household has lost a job in the last five years, and 75% say someone in the household has more than $20,000 in student debt.

Yet there also are signs that many voters in this slice of Trump country have impulses that are more Democratic than Republican. Six in 10 say government should be doing more to solve problems, while just 37% say the government is doing too many things. They are slightly more inclined to want Democrats to control Congress than Republicans, and they have positive views overall of Mr. Obama. They don’t like Republicans’ health-care plans

17--Sara Carter Circa, criminal investigation "leaks" radio broadcast 

18--Dropping the mask: A war of plunder in Afghanistan

19-- US military declares “time is running out” before war with North Korea

20-- Google rigs searches to block access to World Socialist Web Site

21-- Hasan Nasrallah--Trump must be thanked for his stupidity

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Today's links

"House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi added that the change the Democratic party will be making “is not a course correction, but it’s a presentation correction.” Caitlin Johnstone

1--Russian Hacking" Exposed as Inside Job  short video

2--Ray McGovern: The Deep State Assault on Elected Government Must Be Stopped 

video:  McGovern presents plausible scenario of how the plan to blame Russia evolved--10:15  "What did Hillary do?
...Hillary gathered her war council and one fellow says,  "I know what we can do. We'll blame it on the Russians ...
Someone else says, "But it wasn't the Russians it was WikiLeaks"
Well, that's a twofer. We hate them both equally , so we'll say WikiLeaks is working with the Russians."
That was two days before the convention.
Someone else says, "what would the rationale be?"
"C'mon, the Russians clearly want Trump to win.
"But how about the major media?"
Well, the major media really want Hillary to win, so if we get the major media on board, well, we really got it wired."
McGovern--"And if you watch the coverage since the WikiLeaks leak, two days before the convention, the media content was not about 'did Hillary steal this election' it was about "How did the Russians do it?" 

3--How the Hillary Clinton campaign deliberately “elevated” Donald Trump with its “pied piper” strategy

An email released by WikiLeaks shows how the Democratic Party purposefully "elevated" Trump to "leader of the pack"

Leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee show that the organization, which is supposed to be bound to impartiality, sabotaged Sanders’ insurgent presidential campaign, which had mobilized millions of people and inspired a massive grassroots movement.

4--We thank trump because the real face of America has been revealed 

5--Bombshell report: Obama admin’s police state tactics revealed

To be clear, this means that Obama’s NSA spied on American citizens, collected data it should not have had, and then shared that data with an intelligence community that did not know it shouldn’t have it. Private information about American citizens that should have been deleted immediately potentially was widely circulated among government intelligence bureaucrats – members of the so-called “deep state” – who should never have seen that intelligence.
In sum total, these memos reveal the NSA under the Obama administration violated the law numerous times by over-collecting data it wasn’t permitted to receive, by failing to provide documentation justifying the collection of that data, by engaging in “overly broad” searches for information, and failing to destroy improperly collected data as required by law

Now put this into context with evidence that the members of the Trump transition team were surveilled and that data on Trump officials was incidentally collected by American intelligence agencies. Given the widespread violations of civil liberties protections detailed by these memos obtained by the Hill, is it not reasonable to ask to what extent were Trump officials subject to the same kind of abuses? What data was collected on Trump officials? Was it immediately deleted or was it shared within the intelligence community? If it was shared, with whom? Potential leakers?

An explosive report by The Hill’s John Solomon reveals that the National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation violated the law during the Obama administration for years by improperly collecting intelligence on American citizens and then neglecting to immediately delete this intelligence, obtained by unauthorized spying.

The wide scope of the Obama administration’s civil liberties violations is detailed in several declassified memos obtained by The Hill via a Freedom of Information Act request from the American Civil Liberties Union. The NSA or FBI disclosed these violations to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or the Justice Department’s national security division during President Obama’s term between 2009 and 2016, according to The Hill.

Put simply, there are several instances when the NSA mishandled the same sort of incidentally collected intelligence on American citizens as that collected on members of the Trump transition team during the 2016 election. And these civil liberties violations followed a 2011 rules change by President Obama that loosened restrictions on intelligence agencies, ostensibly to fight terrorism

The Hill reviewed the new ACLU documents as well as compliance memos released by the NSA inspector general and identified more than 90 incidents where violations specifically cited an impact on Americans. Many incidents involved multiple persons, multiple violations or extended periods of time.

There also were several instances in which Americans’ unmasked names were improperly shared inside the intelligence community without being redacted, a violation of the so-called minimization procedures that President Obama loosened in 2011 that are supposed to protect an Americans' identity from disclosure when they are intercepted without a warrant. Numerous times improperly unmasked information about Americans had to be recalled and purged after the fact, the memos stated. (Emphasis added)

6--Obama's vast intel dragnet

7--Steyn: Wasserman Schultz scandal is media's Russian dream

8-- The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of the American Secret Government

Exactly 70 years ago today, President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act, creating the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, the Joint Chiefs of Staff — and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Sixteen years later — just one month after the Kennedy assassination — Truman published a bombshell in The Washington Post: “I have never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak-and-dagger operations… It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of Government… so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue.”
When it comes to behind-the-scenes intrigue, no one could out-sinister Allen Dulles, director of the CIA from 1953 to 1961. Dulles’s job, simply put, was to hijack the US government — for the benefit of the wealthy.

What he did, and how he did it, has never been more relevant, given the state of the nation in 2017. That’s why we are excerpting some revelatory chapters from David Talbot’s recent Dulles biography, “The Devil’s Chessboard.”
The focus here is on Dulles’s deeply troubling behavior around the time that John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Although Kennedy had fired him in 1961, Dulles basically kept, de facto, running the CIA anyway. And, even more ominously, after Kennedy was killed in Dallas on Friday, November 22, 1963, Dulles moved into The Farm, a secret CIA facility in Virginia, where he remained for the weekend — during which time the “suspect,” Lee Harvey Oswald, was shot to death in a Dallas police station, and a vast machinery was set in motion to create the “lone gunman” myth that has dominated our history books to the present.

By no coincidence, that same machinery worked to bury evidence that Oswald himself had deep connections into US intelligence.
Throughout all this, one thing is clear: Dulles was no rogue operative. He was serving the interests of America’s corporate and war-making elites. And he went all out.
The “former” CIA director was so determined to control the JFK death-story spin, as Talbot chronicles below, that he even tried to strong-arm former president Truman, when the plain-spoken Missourian dropped hints that an out-of-control CIA might have been involved in Kennedy’s murder.

9--Freedom Rider: Democrats Smear Jill Stein

American provocations against Russia go back to the collapse of the Soviet Union and are responsible for the possibility of a hot war. It is important to say so and to act in solidarity with those who become targets when they act on their right to freedom of movement and speech.
The notion that Russia is a hostile power is a concoction of the corporate media and the war loving members of the duopoly. If they attempt to silence or smear Stein or anyone else they must be met with staunch opposition.

10--Did Russiagate begin as a Clinton campaign conspiracy? New forensic research suggests it

If the scenario outlined by VIPS is correct  – or if I have understood it correctly – then there is a far greater scandal behind the Russiagate scandal even than this, for in that case an attempt was made to swing the election through a fraud in which sections of the US’s intelligence and security services appear to have colluded.
That is a very disturbing possibility, and one which if true would mean that the political and constitutional system of the United States is in profound crisis

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Today's Links

1--Are America's Wars Just and Moral? Pat Buchanan 

“One knowledgeable official estimates that the CIA-backed fighters may have killed or wounded 100,000 Syrian soldiers and their allies,” writes columnist David Ignatius.

Given that Syria’s prewar population was not 10 percent of ours, this is the equivalent of a million dead and wounded Americans. What justifies America’s participation in this slaughter?
Columnist Eric Margolis summarizes the successes of the six-year civil war to overthrow President Bashar Assad.
“The result of the western-engendered carnage in Syria was horrendous: at least 475,000 dead, 5 million Syrian refugees driven into exile in neighboring states (Turkey alone hosts three million), and another 6 million internally displaced. … 11 million Syrians … driven from their homes into wretched living conditions and near famine.

“Two of Syria’s greatest and oldest cities, Damascus and Aleppo, have been pounded into ruins. Jihadist massacres and Russian and American air strikes have ravaged once beautiful, relatively prosperous Syria. Its ancient Christian peoples are fleeing for their lives before US and Saudi takfiri religious fanatics.”

Realizing the futility of U.S. policy, President Trump is cutting aid to the rebels. And the War Party is beside itself. Says The Wall Street Journal:
“The only way to reach an acceptable diplomatic solution is if Iran and Russia feel they are paying too high a price for their Syria sojourn. This means more support for Mr. Assad’s enemies, not cutting them off without notice. And it means building up a Middle East coalition willing to fight Islamic State and resist Iran. The U.S. should also consider enforcing ‘safe zones’ in Syria for anti-Assad forces.”

Yet, fighting ISIS and al-Qaida in Syria, while bleeding the Assad-Iran-Russia-Hezbollah victors, is a formula for endless war and unending terrors visited upon the Syrian people.
What injury did the Assad regime, in power for half a century and having never attacked us, inflict to justify what we have helped to do to that country.

2-- European Union ‘Stands Ready to Act’ Over US Sanctions on Russia

(More sanctions could split the transatlantic alliance)

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says he believes the EU stands “ready to act within days” if US sanctions are adopted without taking Europe’s concerns into account. This is particularly important if major German energy companies get targeted, as they are wholly dependent on Russia for natural gas

3--Say Goodbye to Regime Change in Syria, scott ritter

(US arms and trains al Qaida while US media sleeps)

President Donald Trump has ordered that the CIA begin to phase out its covert train-and-equip program in support of so-called “moderate” rebels fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. ....

The train and equip mission of the CIA in Syria can be traced back to the spring of 2011, when a revolution broke out in Libya against the dictatorial rule of Muammar Gadhafi. Backed by NATO airpower, anti-regime fighters were able to establish control over large areas inside Libya. The CIA began a program to train and equip these fighters, supplying weapons to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who in turn shipped these weapons to Libya, where they were turned over to Libyan rebels...

In August 2011, in the aftermath of the capture of the Libyan capital of Tripoli by rebel forces, Qatar began diverting arms originally intended for Libya to Turkey, where they were turned over to rebel forces that had, since June of 2011, been fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. These rebels were grouped together under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), an ostensibly secular resistance group that  was in reality controlled by the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization that had been crushed by Bashar al-Assad’s father back in the early 1980’, and was operating in exile in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. While the CIA was not directly involved in this activity, CIA personnel in Libya and Turkey monitored these shipments to make sure no sensitive weaponry, such as hand-help surface-to-air missiles, made their way into Syria. This effort, which involved billions of dollars of arms, including those provided by the United States for the express purpose of aiding Libyan rebels, continued through 2012 and into 2013...

From 2013 through 2015, Timber Sycamore oversaw the purchase of billions of dollars of modern weaponry from Balkan suppliers, primarily in Croatia, and their shipment to ports in Turkey and Jordan, where the CIA, working with Turkish and Jordanian intelligence agencies, trained and equipped thousands of rebel fighters from more than 50 groups inside Syria that had been vetted by the CIA.

4-- Why did Washington hate Hugo Chavez?

EG: I suppose Washington hated Chavez for many reasons. Of course the oil is a primary source of Washington’s aggressive attitude towards Chavez. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves on the planet and before Hugo Chavez was elected, governments were subservient to US interests. In fact, Venezuela was on the verge of privatizing its oil industry, along with everything else in the country, right when Chavez was elected. So the fact that a head of state sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves – which the US needs to maintain its excessive consumer model in the long term – would not be subordinate to US agenda was maddening for Washington.

Chavez not only reclaimed and transformed the oil industry to redistribute the wealth and ensure foreign corporations abided by the laws (paying taxes and royalties, for example), but he also nationalized other strategic resources in the country that the US had its hands in, such as gold, electricity and telecommunications. Clearly Chavez was a major thorn in Washington’s economic interests in the region. Once Chavez spearheaded the creation of Latin American integration and cooperation, that converged into organizations such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), as well as PetroCaribe, Telesur (the region’s first television network) and many more initiatives, Washington quickly began to lose influence in the region. This also led to more hostility towards Chavez, since he was the major leader and driving force behind Latin American independence and sovereignty in the XXI century.

Washington, and the Venezuelan elite, also couldn’t stand Chavez’s mannerisms and direct way of telling things like they are. He was afraid of nothing and no one and never stood down, he always remained firm and said what he believed, even if it wasn’t the diplomatically correct thing to say. And Washington hated him for bringing back the evil concept of socialism to today’s world. They tried to hard to rid the planet of anything remotely like communism in the XX century, so Chavez’s “Socialism of the XXI Century” was a slap in the face for old school Washington, which still holds the reigns in the US.

5--The media and the Democrats are lying; Russia did NOT hack the election. Here's the proof

Independent cyber-investigators have now completed the kind of forensic work that the intelligence assessment did not do. Oddly, the “hand-picked” intelligence analysts contented themselves with “assessing” this and “assessing” that. In contrast, the investigators dug deep and came up with verifiable evidence from metadata found in the record of the alleged Russian hack.
They found that the purported “hack” of the DNC by Guccifer 2.0 was not a hack, by Russia or anyone else. Rather it originated with a copy (onto an external storage device – a thumb drive, for example) by an insider. The data was leaked after being doctored with a cut-and-paste job to implicate Russia. We do not know who or what the murky Guccifer 2.0 is. You may wish to ask the FBI

It has long been clear to us that the reason the U.S. government lacks conclusive evidence of a transfer of a “Russian hack” to WikiLeaks is because there was no such transfer. Based mostly on the cumulatively unique technical experience of our ex-NSA colleagues, we have been saying for almost a year that the DNC data reached WikiLeaks via a copy/leak by a DNC insider (but almost certainly not the same person who copied DNC data on July 5, 2016).

Forensic studies of “Russian hacking” into Democratic National Committee computers last year reveal that on July 5, 2016, data was leaked (not hacked) by a person with physical access to DNC computers, and then doctored to incriminate Russia

After examining metadata from the “Guccifer 2.0” July 5, 2016 intrusion into the DNC server, independent cyber investigators have concluded that an insider copied DNC data onto an external storage device, and that “telltale signs” implicating Russia were then inserted.
Key among the findings of the independent forensic investigations is the conclusion that the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack. Of equal importance, the forensics show that the copying and doctoring were performed on the East coast of the U.S. Thus far, mainstream media have ignored the findings of these independent studies [see here and here]....

Why the FBI neglected to perform any independent forensics on the original “Guccifer 2.0” material remains a mystery – as does the lack of any sign that the “hand-picked analysts” from the FBI, CIA, and NSA, who wrote the “Intelligence Community Assessment” dated January 6, 2017, gave any attention to forensics...

(2) a separate leak on July 5, 2016, to pre-emptively taint anything WikiLeaks might later publish by “showing” it came from a “Russian hack.”)

after WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange announced on June 12, 2016, “We have emails related to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication,” her campaign had more than a month before the convention to insert its own “forensic facts” and prime the media pump to put the blame on “Russian meddling.” Mrs. Clinton’s PR chief Jennifer Palmieri has explained how she used golf carts to make the rounds at the convention. She wrote that her “mission was to get the press to focus on something even we found difficult to process: the prospect that Russia had not only hacked and stolen emails from the DNC, but that it had done so to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.”

The Key Event
July 5, 2016: In the early evening, Eastern Daylight Time, someone working in the EDT time zone with a computer directly connected to the DNC server or DNC Local Area Network, copied 1,976 MegaBytes of data in 87 seconds onto an external storage device. That speed is many times faster than what is physically possible with a hack.

It thus appears that the purported “hack” of the DNC by Guccifer 2.0 (the self-proclaimed WikiLeaks source) was not a hack by Russia or anyone else, but was rather a copy of DNC data onto an external storage device. Moreover, the forensics performed on the metadata reveal there was a subsequent synthetic insertion – a cut-and-paste job using a Russian template, with the clear aim of attributing the data to a “Russian hack.” This was all performed in the East Coast time zone....

(The CIA has ability to make it look like cyber attacks are launched by a third party) the CIA reportedly used Marble during 2016. In her Washington Post report, Nakashima left that out, but did include another significant point made by WikiLeaks; namely, that the obfuscation tool could be used to conduct a “forensic attribution double game” or false-flag operation because it included test samples in Chinese, Russian, Korean, Arabic and Farsi....

Putin pointed out that today’s technology enables hacking to be “masked and camouflaged to an extent that no one can understand the origin” [of the hack] … And, vice versa, it is possible to set up any entity or any individual that everyone will think that they are the exact source of that attack.”
“Hackers may be anywhere,” he said. “There may be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very craftily and professionally passed the buck to Russia. Can’t you imagine such a scenario? … I can.”

6--Gabbard: Media misses point of CIA program Trump ended video

7--The use of children in the propaganda war

President Assad replied: “You cannot build your political position or stand, let’s say, according to a video promoted by the terrorists or their supporters. It’s a game now, a game of propaganda, it’s a game of media....Our mission as a government is to deal with the reality. You have terrorists in Syria, they are supported by foreign powers and foreign countries, and we have to defend our country.”

8--Will Washington get the boot?

"Here's the conundrum: We are operating in the sovereign country of Syria. The Russians, their stalwarts, their backstoppers have already uninvited the Turks from Syria. We're a bad day away from the Russians saying, 'Why are you still in Syria, US?'" Thomas said.
"If the Russians play that card, we could want to stay and have no ability to do it," he finally stated.

9--IMF global outlook downgrades US growth prospects

10--Washington's economic war on Russia continues--

there has been public criticism by the European Union of at least one provision in the sanctions bill, which bars companies from doing deals with Russian partners where the Russian company owns more than a one-third interest in the venture. This could potentially threaten the Nord Stream II pipeline between Russia and Germany, financed by several Western companies but owned by Russia’s Gazprom....

The congressional deal came the same weekend as the Aspen Institute conference on US national security at which former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper denounced Trump for his supposed softness towards Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

Appearing at the same conference, Trump’s own appointees, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and DNI Dan Coats, said they agreed with the series of findings issued by the intelligence agencies that Russia had intervened in the US elections by hacking into Democratic Party servers and spreading anti-Clinton material on the Internet, in order to help Trump win the election.
Top White House aides are under increasing pressure from the congressional and Justice Department investigations into claims—so far unsupported by evidence—that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election

11--Iran rejects US bases, but welcomes Russia--al Maliki: "Yes to Moscow, No to Washington

Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki has called for “substantial” Russian military and political presence in the terror-ravaged country, saying this would bring “balance” to the entire region.
“It’s well known that Russia has historically strong relations with Iraq, therefore we would like Russia to have a substantial presence in our country, both politically and militarily,” said the senior Iraqi official during a Monday meeting with speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, in Moscow, RT reported.
“This way, a balance would be established that would benefit the region, its peoples and its countries” added Maliki, saying his country believes “in Russia’s role in solving most of the key international issues as well as improving stability and balance in our region and worldwide.”...

“The Iraqi society is against foreign military bases on the country’s territory,” al-Maliki noted, adding that he has already warned the Americans against “coming back to Iraq and setting up bases here.”

12--SDF And Syrian Military Make Secret Deal, Divide Spheres Of Influence In Deir Ezzor, Raqqah Provinces

13--The Democrats Are a Lost Cause

So what exactly is in Chuck’s stillborn (Republican president, Republican House, Republican Senate) Better Deal?
“Rules to stop prescription drug price gouging… allow regulators to break up big companies if they’re hurting consumers… giving employers, particularly small businesses, a large tax credit to train workers for unfilled jobs.”
These are good ideas.
But they’re so small.

14--Garbage democrats promise nothing

The bulk of Schumer’s op-ed focuses on small policy changes that would help working people, while also promising more dinky policy proposals to come — but then concludes that the Democrats lack the power to actually enact any of this. So let me understand: Trump threatens our economy, government, democracy, planet and global peace, and Democrats respond with small-bore policy talks focused on what they cannot achieve? No wonder people stay home from the polls.

15--Brennan's jihad 

If there was any doubt that the Deep State US intelligence agencies were working to overthrow President Trump, then look no further than former Obama CIA Director John Brennan’s statements at the Aspen Security Forum, moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

John Brennan called for a soft coup against President Trump, should special counsel Mueller be fired.
Brennan urged US government officials to refuse to follow the president’s orders, if Mueller is dismissed, as those orders would be “inconsistent” with the duties of the executive branch.
“I think it’s the obligation of some executive branch officials to refuse to carry that out. I would just hope that this is not going to be a partisan issue. That Republicans, Democrats are going to see that the future of this government is at stake and something needs to be done for the good of the future.”

16--) It is now clear that some of the information that has been fed to the media by our old friends the “anonymous sources”during the Russiagate scandal is either grossly inaccurate or simply false, and Kushner’s statement provides two examples of this.
The “anonymous sources” have either invented two telephone conversations Kushner is supposed to have had with the Russians during the election campaign or else Reuters, which reported this story, has invented both it and them.
It is now also clear that the notorious meeting between Kislyak, Kushner and Flynn which took place in December has been totally misrepresented.

It seems that there was no discussion of setting up a ‘back channel’ between the Trump administration and the Kremlin was discussed during this meeting as our old friends the “anonymous officials” reported.  Rather there was a discussion – which went nowhere – about how the Russian military would convey a message to General Flynn about the situation in Syria.

16--Jared Kushner’s statement DEMOLISHES Russiagate

It is in fact clear that the main topic of the discussion between Kislyak, Kushner and Flynn – and I suspect of the equally notorious telephone conversations between Kislyak and Flynn which eventually caused Flynn’s resignation – was Syria.This makes total sense.  In October 2016 the US and Russian militaries faced off against each other in Syria, with the Russians deploying advanced anti aircraft missiles to Syria to deter any US attempt to intervene in the ongoing battle in eastern Aleppo.  The leaders of both the US and the Russian militaries have spoken repeatedly of the extreme tension during that time, when the world’s two most powerful militaries came closer to armed conflict with each other than they have done at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis at the height of the Cold War...

In summary, Jared Kushner has provided what any reasonable person would accept as a thorough and comprehensive account of his dealings with the Russians both during the election and after it.
Not only does it show that he personally never colluded with the Russians at any point during the election about anything, but given his central role in the Trump campaign any reasonable person reading his statement would conclude that no one in the Trump campaign did either.   In Kushner’s own words
I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government. I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector

... we have the two documents which between them have generated the entirety of the Russiagate scandal.  These are the report from CrowdStrike claiming it was Russian intelligence which hacked the computers of John Podesta and the DNC, and the Trump Dossier, which was compiled though apparently not authored by Christopher Steele and Orbis.
Neither of these documents originates with any official agency of the US government or indeed of any other government.  Both are the products of private enterprise paid for by persons having or apparently having some connection to the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Both have however been treated as authoritative by believers in the Russiagate scandal, which it turns out includes many people within the US intelligence community, even though there are serious doubts about the methodology of the first, whilst the second is not merely uncorroborated but looks in large part invented.
Over and above these two inherently unreliable documents there is a mountain of uncorroborated leaks and innuendo, some of which as Kushner’s statement shows are simply wrong.

It says volumes about the collapse of intellectual integrity in the United States that most of the political class – including the entire Democratic Party and much of the intelligence community – still continues to believe the fantasies of these two documents, and will continue to do so, even after they have been provided with this clear and straightforward statement of fact by Jared Kushner, which shows the illogic and absurdity of what they say.

17--The 12 baseless claims that form Russiagate

(1) The Russians hacked the DNC’s and John Podesta’s computers and stole the emails they found there

No agency of the US government has examined these computers.  The only examination of the computers which has taken place, and the only investigation of the hacking allegation which has been carried out, has been the work of a private company – CrowdStrike – whose opinions the relevant US government agencies have simply accepted as true.
I have never come across such a situation before, where a police agency bases its conclusions not on its own investigations but entirely on the opinions of a private detective agency.

ultimately we only have the word of Hillary Clinton, the DNC, John Podesta and their paid contractor CrowdStrike that a hack took place at all.  Since the DNC and John Podesta refused to allow the FBI to examine their computers, the FBI cannot itself verify that there was in fact such a hack