Monday, July 10, 2017

Today's links

"Given the Intelligence Community’s history of deception and politicization – and especially given the false assumption about the 17-agency consensus – there is every reason to be skeptical and to demand credible and verifiable evidence about the core charge that Russia did “meddle” in the U.S. election. " Rick Sterling


"There is a very plain pattern here of agencies promoting the notion of a fake “Russian crime”, while failing to take the most basic and obvious initial steps if they were really investigating its existence. I might add to that, there has been no contact with me at all by those supposedly investigating. I could tell them these were leaks not hacks."  Craig Murray



1--Who Elected the Wrestler-in-Chief?


Trump’s voters were not working-class voters, as was wrongly noted in The Atlantic magazine: The “billionaire developer is building a blue-collar foundation,” (“It’s time to bust the myth: Most Trump voters were not working class,” The Washington Post, June 5, 2017). The two social scientists who wrote the article found that “Trump supporters were mostly affluent Republicans”…  “[O]nly a third of Trump supporters had household incomes at or below the national median of about $50,000.” And another surprise to those who want to lump Trump supporters together with those whom Trump egged on to violence at some of his campaign rallies lies in the undeniable fact that just about the same voters who supported Trump in November, supported him during the presidential primary season.

And those well-off Republicans who voted for Trump during the primary election season not only had more money, but also were “well” educated… wrong again! A full “70 percent of all Republicans didn’t have college degrees…” So, a conclusion can be reached that lots of Trump supporters had money in their pockets, but didn’t have college degrees

2--North Korea continues to pursue the only rational option available


The reason why stopping North Korea’s nuclear and long-range missile program is a priority for the Trump administration is not because it truly believes North Korea will launch an ICBM at the United States. Rather, it’s that if North Korea succeeds in establishing an effective nuclear deterrent, then this could have serious geopolitical implications for U.S. policy, as other targeted nations may follow North Korea’s example to ensure their survival.

For this reason, the United States has branded North Korea a pariah state and sponsored harsh UN sanctions. North Korea faces a dichotomy between policy objectives. If it does not denuclearize, then it risks succumbing to the economic strangulation imposed by the United States. But if it abandons its nuclear program, it becomes far more vulnerable to military strikes by a hostile U.S. The lesson of Libya’s fate after it abandoned its nuclear weapons program is not forgotten. Moreover, it is exceedingly unlikely that the U.S. would lift sanctions on North Korea even after full denuclearization.

The United States declares that it will not engage in talks with North Korea unless it denuclearizes as a precondition while receiving nothing in return. [19] That position shuts down any possibility of diplomacy, and it is hard to visualize any way out of the current impasse as long as Washington clings to that attitude

3--This Just In;   Marijuana Legalization Is Decreasing Violent Crime in Border States


4--Hillary's "17 agencies" lie exposed


In a Las Vegas debate last October, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said, “We have 17 — 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election. I find that deeply disturbing.”...

Whatever your take on the fact-checks, the media laundered and recycled a Clinton talking point without too much exploration of the intricacies through which the intelligence community reaches its conclusions. Until the New York Times wrote up a correction, that is.


5--The U.S. State of War: July 2017


Although our post-9/11 wars have probably killed at least 2 million people in the countries we have attacked, occupied or destabilized, U.S. forces have suffered historically low numbers of casualties in these operations.  There is a real danger that this has given U.S. political and military leaders, and to some extent the American public, a false sense of the scale of U.S. casualties and other serious consequences we should look forward to as our leaders escalate our current wars, issue new threats against Iran and North Korea, and stoke rising tensions with Russia and China.


6--Ten Problems with Anti-Russian Obsession


For progressives, the anti-Russia hysteria has not only bordered on McCarthyistic challenges to people’s patriotism but has diverted time and attention from the need to build opposition to Trump policies including the loss of net neutrality, increased military spending, reductions in environmental protection, plans to slash health-care for the poor to permit more tax cuts for the rich, and reduction in other budgets for education and social programs.

Since Trump’s November victory, there also have been accusations of “Russian interference” in European elections. But in each case, subsequent investigations showed the opposite. In Germany, France and the U.K., security services found no evidence to support the initial allegations. The French security chief dismissed the claims of the Macron campaign saying the hack “was so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.” 

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), including William Binney, a former technical director of the NSA, asserts that the DNC email release was caused by a leak not a “hack.” ...

it is significant that the NSA would only grant “moderate confidence” to the accusation that “Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances.” Page 13 of the Jan. 6 report explains that moderate confidence means the information is “plausible but not of sufficient quality or corroborated sufficiently to warrant a higher level of confidence.”...

The report gives no solid evidence that the Russians did covertly interfere with the U.S. elections in 2016, acknowledging that the report “does not and cannot include the full supporting information, including specific intelligence and sources and methods.” The report further admits that its “judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”


So, should this report be accepted uncritically? Not if you consider past performance. The CIA has a long history of deception and disinformation, including “politicized intelligence” to support the goals of presidents and other senior officials. One clear example was the false claims about Iraq’s WMD that led to the U.S. invasion in 2003.


7--‘Russiagate’: The Stink Without a Secret,


Here is another actual fact I wish you to hang on to: The Democrats have refused the intelligence agencies access to their servers to discover what actually happened. I am going to say that again.

The Democrats have refused the intelligence agencies access to their servers to discover what actually happened.....


Not actually examining the obvious evidence has been a key tool in keeping the “Russian hacking” meme going. On 24 May the Guardian reported triumphantly, following the Washington Post, that

“Fox News falsely alleged federal authorities had found thousands of emails between Rich and WikiLeaks, when in fact law enforcement officials disputed that Rich’s laptop had even been in possession of, or examined by, the FBI.”


It evidently did not occur to the Guardian as troubling, that those pretending to be investigating the murder of Seth Rich have not looked at his laptop.


There is a very plain pattern here of agencies promoting the notion of a fake “Russian crime”, while failing to take the most basic and obvious initial steps if they were really investigating its existence. I might add to that, there has been no contact with me at all by those supposedly investigating. I could tell them these were leaks not hacks. WikiLeaks The clue is in the name


After six solid months of coordinated allegation from the mainstream media allied to the leadership of state security institutions, not one single scrap of solid evidence for Trump/Russia election hacking has emerged....

The original “Russian hacking” allegation was that it was the Russians who nefariously obtained these damning emails and passed them to WikiLeaks. The “evidence” for this was twofold. A report from private cyber security firm Crowdstrike claimed that metadata showed that the hackers had left behind clues, including the name of the founder of the Soviet security services. The second piece of evidence was that a blogger named Guccifer2 and a website called DNCLeaks appeared to have access to some of the material around the same time that WikiLeaks did, and that Guccifer2 could be Russian.

That is it. To this day, that is the sum total of actual “evidence” of Russian hacking. I won’t say hang on to it as a fact, because it contains no relevant fact. But at least it is some form of definable allegation of something happening, rather than “Russian hacking” being a simple article of faith like the Holy Trinity....

But there are a number of problems that prevent this being fact at all. Nobody has ever been able to refute the evidence of Bill Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA who designed its current surveillance systems. Bill has stated that the capability of the NSA is such, that if the DNC computers had been hacked, the NSA would be able to trace the actual packets of that information as those emails traveled over the Internet, and give a precise time, to the second, for the hack. The NSA simply do not have the event – because there wasn’t one. I know Bill personally and am quite certain of his integrity....

The old Watergate related wisdom is that it is not the crime that gets you, it is the cover-up. But there is a fundamental difference here. At the center of Watergate there was an actual burglary. At the center of Russian hacking there is a void, a hollow, and emptiness, an abyss, a yawning chasm. There is nothing there.

8--Fed stress test results unleash “party time” for US banks

9--Transatlantic tensions dominate G20 summit

The divisions are rooted in the long-term decline of the US relative to its rivals and its efforts to counter this process by ever more aggressive economic and military measures.
An open split between the US and the other 19 members of the G20—what would have amounted to a declaration of economic warfare—was avoided only by evasive words in the communiqué that sought to paper over the divisions on trade issues....

the breakdown of the post-war economic and political order is not a product of the bad judgement of the present occupant of the White House. It is the result of much deeper objective forces, above all the irresolvable contradiction between the development of a global economy and the division of the world into rival nation-states and great powers.
Each of these powers, the European nations no less than the US, seeks to resolve this contradiction by ever more aggressively advancing its own interests against its rivals, leading to the assertion of economic nationalism, trade war and ultimately military conflict. That is the process that was openly on display at the G20 summit.

10--Global financial parasitism and the political strategy of the working class

11--US strategic bombers conduct provocative drill near North Korea

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