Monday, July 31, 2017

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 naïve 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

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