Saturday, July 29, 2017

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

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