Sunday, October 15, 2017

Today's Links

1--The Elites “Have No Credibility Left" (must read)

An interview with journalist Chris Hedges

2--The Legacy of Reagan’s Civilian ‘Psyops’ Robert Parry


3--Decision time in Deir Ezzor - TTG


4--The Unraveling of American/Russian Relations, PCR


1992 NYTs: 

WASHINGTON, March 7 In a broad new policy statement that is in its final drafting phase, the Defense Department asserts that America’s political and military mission in the post-cold-war era will be to ensure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territories of the former Soviet Union.


A 46-page document that has been circulating at the highest levels of the Pentagon for weeks, and which Defense Secretary Dick Cheney expects to release later this month, states that part of the American mission will be convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests.


The classified document makes the case for a world dominated by one superpower whose position can be perpetuated by constructive behavior and sufficient military might to deter any nation or group of nations from challenging American primacy.


5--IMF Calls for Reforms as Global Central Bankers Battle Weak Wage Growth


6--Bibi cheers Trump Iran decision


7--How Gore, Kerry and Clinton Put Trump in the White House


8--Washington’s Frozen War Against Russia 2014


In a speech to leading CEOs on December 3, Obama said the sanctions were intended to change Putin’s “mindset”, but didn’t think this would succeed. He is waiting for “the politics inside Russia” to “catch up with what’s happening in the economy, which is why we are going to continue to maintain that pressure.” This was another way of saying that stealing Russia’s natural gas market, forcing Europe to enact sanctions, and getting Washington’s bigoted stooges in Saudi Arabia to bring down petroleum prices by flooding the market, are all intended to make the Russian people blame Putin enough to get rid of him. Regime change, in short.

On December 4, the U.S. House of Representatives officially exposed the U.S. motive behind this mess by adopting what must surely be the worst piece of legislation ever adopted: Resolution 758.   The Resolution is a compendium of all the lies floated against Vladimir Putin and Russia over the past year. Never perhaps have so many lies been crammed into a single official document of that length. And yet, this war propaganda was endorsed by a vote of 411 to 10. If, despite this call for war between two nuclear powers, there are still historians in the future, they must judge this resolution as proof of the total failure of the intelligence, honesty and sense of responsibility of the political system that Washington is trying to force on the entire world

The House calls on European countries to “reduce the ability of the Russian Federation to use its supply of energy as a means of applying political and economic pressure on other countries, including by promoting increased natural gas and other energy exports from the United States and other countries” and “urges the President to expedite the United States Department of Energy’s approval of liquefied natural gas exports to Ukraine and other European countries”.
The Congress is ready to risk and even promote nuclear war, but when it comes to the “bottom line”, it is a matter of stealing Russia’s natural gas market by what so far is a bluff: shale gas obtained by U.S. fracking.

9--Wisconsin’s Voter-ID Law Suppressed 200,000 Votes in 2016 (Trump Won by 22,748)

A new study shows how voter-ID laws decreased turnout among African-American and Democratic voters....

. According to federal court records, 300,000 registered voters, 9 percent of the electorate, lacked strict forms of voter ID in Wisconsin. A new study by Priorities USA, shared exclusively with The Nation, shows that strict voter-ID laws, in Wisconsin and other states, led to a significant reduction in voter turnout in 2016, with a disproportionate impact on African-American and Democratic-leaning voters. Wisconsin’s voter-ID law reduced turnout by 200,000 votes, according to the new analysis. Donald Trump won the state by only 22,748 votes.
The study compared turnout in states that adopted strict voter-ID laws between 2012 and 2016, like Wisconsin, to states that did not. ...

While states with no change to voter identification laws witnessed an average increased turnout of +1.3% from 2012 to 2016, Wisconsin’s turnout (where voter ID laws changed to strict) dropped by -3.3%. If turnout had instead increased by the national no-change average, we estimate that over 200,000 more voters would have voted in Wisconsin in 2016.
This reduction in turnout particularly hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The lost voters skewed more African-American and more Democrat. For example, Wisconsin’s 2016 electorate was 6.1% more Republican, and 5.7% less Democrat, than the group of ‘lost voters’. Furthermore, the WI electorate was 3.7% more White and 3.8% less African American than the group of ‘lost voters.’ This analysis suggests that the 200,000 lost voters would have both been more racially diverse and have voted more Democratic.
(Priorities USA is a progressive advocacy group and Super PAC that supported Clinton in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012. The study was conducted by Civis Analytics, a data science firm founded by the chief analytics officer for Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012.)
Though Wisconsin saw the most dramatic reduction in turnout among voter-ID states, it was reflective of a worrisome broader national trend.
In states where the voter identification laws did not change between ’12 and ’16, turnout was up +1.3%. In states where ID laws changed to non-strict (AL, NH, RI) turnout increased less, and was only up by +0.7%. In states where ID laws changed to strict (MS, VA, WI) turnout actually decreased by – 1.7%.

This study provides more evidence for the claim that voter-ID laws are designed not to stop voter impersonation fraud, which is virtually nonexistent, but to make it harder for certain communities to vote. This matters greatly today, because 87 bills to restrict access to the ballot have been introduced in 29 states this year, including voter-ID laws in 19 states. Arkansas and Iowa have already passed strict voter-ID laws in 2017.

“Americans’ fundamental right to vote is under attack by Republican governors and state legislatures around the country,” said Guy Cecil, Chairman of Priorities USA. “Under the false pretense of combating voter fraud, Republicans are passing laws that make it more difficult and time-consuming for average citizens to participate in the democratic process.”

10--New Voting Restrictions in America 2010


After the 2010 election, state lawmakers nationwide started introducing hundreds of harsh measures making it harder to vote. The new laws range from strict photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks to registration restrictions.
Overall, 20 states have new restrictions in effect since then — 10 states have more restrictive voter ID laws in place (and six states have strict photo ID requirements), seven have laws making it harder for citizens to register, six cut back on early voting days and hours, and three made it harder to restore voting rights for people with past criminal convictions.
In 2016, 14 states had new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election. Those 14 states were: Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin

11--Why did Trump win? More whites — and fewer blacks — actually voted.


if groups had gone to the polls at the same rates as in 2012, Clinton would likely have won Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in 2016 — though in the last two cases by razor-thin margins....what’s clear is that the jump in white turnout in key swing states and drop in black turnout may well have handed the presidency to Trump.

Using data from the voter file vendor Catalist and information from the U.S. Census Bureau, we examine the change in turnout rates for different racial/ethnic groups between 2012 and 2016. Black turnout declined dramatically; white turnout increased noticeably; and Latino and Asian American turnout went up even more. In the key swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, those shifts were especially strong. How strong? Without those shifts in turnout from various racial and ethnic groups, these pivotal states might have gone not to Trump but to Clinton — giving Clinton an electoral college victory...

Voter turnout among whites — the racial/ethnic group most strongly in Trump’s corner — increased by 2.4 percentage points in 2016 compared to 2012. In stark contrast, turnout among African Americans — the group most loyal to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party — fell by 4.7 percentage points nationally. Latinos and Asian Americans, both groups that are generally Clinton supporters, were more likely to vote — by 3.8 and 3.0 percentage points, respectively.
These national averages obscure important patterns. Here’s what stands out: while the decline in black turnout was stark across the board, it was sharpest, on average, in the states that determined the outcome of the election. Black turnout fell by 4.3 percentage points in non-battleground states in 2016 compared to 2012. But it fell by 5.3 percentage points in states where the election was decided by a margin of less than 10 points.

As you can see, the national average hides dramatic differences among states. For example, as we’ve said, the African American turnout rate fell by 4.7 points nationally. But in Michigan and Wisconsin — two key Midwestern states where, to analysts’ surprise, Trump won — black turnout fell by more than 12 points.
Similarly, overall white turnout increased by only 2.5 points nationally. But in several states it surged by more than 5 points. In the critical battleground state of Florida, white voter turnout jumped by 4 points — and black turnout fell by 4 points. Trump won Florida by a margin of just 1.2 points.

12--Here’s How the 2018 Midterm Elections Could Be Fatally Undermined


In 2013, the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder effectively gutted the Voter Rights Act, permitting Republicans to employ a variety of voter-suppression methods that have since proved invaluable to their campaigns. These tactics will not only remain a factor working in their favor in 2018; they are very likely to significantly expand under the leadership of a man obsessed with the specter of “massive voter fraud,” ...

One method we should expect to see employed, and expanded, is the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, more commonly known simply as Crosscheck. This system, designed with the ostensible purpose of combating voter fraud, operates by cross-referencing names on the rolls of a given state against those on the rolls of other states. If the same combination of name and birth-date occurs in two states, those votes are stricken from the rolls. This system has been known to disproportionately impact minority voters by targeting names common to specific demographics, notably Hispanic and black voters, who have traditionally voted Democratic.

13--Russia hacking, The Nation


In Russiagate, unverified claims are reported with little to no skepticism. Comporting developments are cherry-picked and overhyped, while countervailing ones are minimized or ignored. Front-page headlines advertise explosive and incriminating developments, only to often be undermined by the article’s content, or retracted entirely. Qualified language—likely, suspected, apparent—appears next to “Russians” to account for the absence of concrete links. As a result, Russiagate has enlarged into a storm of innuendo that engulfs issues far beyond its original scope...

Then there is Facebook’s disclosure that fake accounts “likely operated out of Russia” paid $100,000 for 3,000 ads starting in June 2015. The New York Times editorial board described it as “further evidence of what amounted to unprecedented foreign invasion of American democracy.” A $100,000 Facebook ad buy seems unlikely to have had much impact in a $6.8 billion election. According to Facebook, “the vast majority of ads…didn’t specifically reference the US presidential election, voting or a particular candidate” but rather focused “on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum—touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.” Facebook also says the majority of ads, 56 percent, were seen “after the election.” The ads have not been released publicly. But by all indications, if they were used to try to elect Trump, their sponsors took a very curious route.
The ads are commonly described as “Russian disinformation,” but in the most extensive reporting on the story to date, The Washington Post adds multiple qualifiers in noting that the ads “appear to have come from accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency,” itself a Kremlin-linked firm (emphasis added).

The Post also reveals that an initial Facebook review of the suspected Russian accounts found that they “had clear financial motives, which suggested that they weren’t working for a foreign government.” Furthermore, “the security team did not find clear evidence of Russian disinformation or ad purchases by Russian-linked accounts.” ...
Other election threats loom. A recent front-page New York Times article linking Russian cyber operations to voting irregularities across the United States is headlined, “Russian Election Hacking Efforts, Wider Than Previously Known, Draw Little Scrutiny.” But read on and you’ll discover that there is no evidence of “Russian election hacking,” only evidence-free accusations of it....

The evidence-free concern over Russian hacking expanded in late September when the Department of Homeland Security informed 21 states that they had been targeted by Russian cyber-operations during the 2016 election. But three states have already dismissed the DHS claims, including California, which announced that after seeking “further information, it became clear that DHS’s conclusions were wrong.”
Recent elections in France and Germany saw similar fears of Russian hacking and disinformation—and similar results. In France, a hack targeting the campaign of election winner Emmanuel Macron ended up having “no trace,” of Russian involvement, and “was so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone,” the head of French cyber-security quietly explained after the vote. Germany faced an even more puzzling outcome: Nothing happened. “The apparent absence of a robust Russian campaign to sabotage the German vote has become a mystery among officials and experts who had warned of a likely onslaught,” the Post reported in an article headlined “As Germans prepare to vote, a mystery grows: Where are the Russians?” ...

Linking Russia to right-wing American racists contrasts with just a few months prior, when it was fashionable to tie Russia to the polar opposites. In March, intelligence-community witnesses soberly testified to Congress that Russia’s “21st-century cyber invasion” has “tried to sow unrest in the U.S. by inflaming protests such as Occupy Wall Street and the Black Lives Matter movement.” The evidence presented for this claim was that both movements were covered by the Russian state-owned television network RT.
Russian-linked tweets about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice show the Russians “trying to push divisiveness in this country,” says Republican Senator James Lankford. A Russian-linked ad about Black Lives Matter aimed at audiences in Ferguson and Baltimore “tells us…that the Russians who bought these ads were sophisticated enough to understand that targeting a Black Lives Matter ad to the communities…would help sow political discord.… the goal here was really about creating chaos,” says CNN reporter Dylan Byers

It also suggests Black Lives Matter protesters in places like Ferguson and Baltimore were unwitting foreign agents who needed Russian social-media prodding to march in the streets. To protest racism is not to sow “chaos” and “political discord,” but to protest racism. ...

But economic discontent, along with voter suppression, the Democratic Party’s failures to reach voters, and corporate media that gave endless attention to Trump’s empty promises and racial animus, are among the issues cast aside by the incessant focus on Russigate, as are the very real US-Russia tensions that do not fit the narrative. Amid widespread talk of Putin pulling the strings, Trump has quietly appointed anti-Russia hawks to key posts and admitted a new NATO member over Russian objections. Trump’s top military commander, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is backing an effort by the Pentagon and Congress to arm Ukraine with new weapons. President Obama had rejected a similar proposal out of fear it would inflame the country’s deadly conflict. Just before Russia’s recent war games with allied Belarus, the United States and NATO allies carried out their “biggest military exercise in eastern Europe since the Cold War” right next door.

14-- The US Is Trying to Take Over the Middle East's Oil and Gas - It Will Fail

"Kurds are being played by the west to totally control the energy resources of the Middle East and with it, of much of the world. Ultimately the game will fail, though not before senseless and inhuman slaughter continues to take its toll."


15--Notorious US Regime-Change Specialist Targets Hungarian PM Orban

Many readers likely never heard the name of the remarkable Serbia-born political operator named Srđa Popović.
Yet he and his organization, CANVAS, have played a lead role in most every CIA-backed Color Revolution since he led the toppling of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, at least fifty according to last count...

In short, Popović began his revolution-making career as a regime change specialist in an operation funded by the CIA, US State Department, US Government NGOs including the infamous NED and George Soros’ Open Society Institute. The question is what did Srđa Popović do after his first helpful service to Washington in 2000?

Revealed in the same Stratfor emails by Wikileaks was the intriguing information that one of the “golden geese” funders of the mysterious CANVAS was a Wall Street bank named Goldman Sachs.
Satter Muneer, a Goldman Sachs partner, is cited by Stratfor’s then-Eurasia Analyst Marko Papic. Papic, asked by a Stratfor colleague whether Muneer was the “golden goose” money behind CANVAS, writes back, “They have several golden gooses I believe. He is for sure one of them.”

16--Iran to stop Additional Protocol if JCPOA nixed: Salehi


17--Former CIA director worried Russia tried to recruit Americans


Former CIA Director John Brennan said on Monday there was enough contact between Americans and Russian officials during the 2016 U.S. election that there was definitely grounds for an investigation into possible collusion with Moscow, and also concern about Russian efforts to recruit Americans

“I had unresolved questions in my mind about whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting U.S. persons, involved in the campaign or not, to work on their behalf,” Brennan testified to the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.
Brennan declined to provide any indication about the identity of those people.

Brennan said on Tuesday it became clear last summer that Russia was attempting to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, and that he warned the head of Russia's FSB security service that such interference would hurt U.S. ties.
"It should be clear to everyone Russia brazenly interfered in our 2016 presidential election process and that they undertook these activities despite our strong protests and explicit warning that they do not do so," Brennan testified at a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee

Brennan said he believed that Russian officials were motivated in their efforts to impact the election both to hurt Hillary Clinton and support Donald Trump's chances, noting their prior "good relations with businessmen."
He also noted that Moscow likely expected Clinton would ultimately win.

I believe that they tried to damage and bloody her before the election," he said, adding that "I would have anticipated that had she been elected that the efforts to denigrate and hurt her would have been continued."
Brennan further said he believed he was the first U.S. official to raise the matter of election interference with the Russians, citing a meeting he had on Aug. 4 last year with FSB head Alexander Bortnikov.
He said he raised published media reports of Russian attempts to meddle in the election with the Russian official, who denied any involvement by Moscow.
Brennan said he briefed then President Barack Obama and other top officials, and that he discussed the matter with both Republican and Democratic U.S. congressional leaders in August and September

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in January that Moscow tried to tilt the November presidential election campaign in Republican Donald Trump's favor, including by hacking into and leaking the emails of senior Democrats. Moscow has always denied the allegation.

18--Obama loyalist Brennan drove FBI to begin investigating Trump associates last summer


Quote:  But Mr. Brennan’s May 23 testimony shows that it was his actions that drove the FBI probe.


What caused the Barack Obama administration to begin investigating the Donald Trump campaign last summer has come into clearer focus following a string of congressional hearings on Russian interference in the presidential election.
It was then-CIA Director John O. Brennan, a close confidant of Mr. Obama’s, who provided the information — what he termed the “basis” — for the FBI to start the counterintelligence investigation last summer. Mr. Brennan served on the former president’s 2008 presidential campaign and in his White House.
Mr. Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee on May 23 that the intelligence community was picking up tidbits on Trump associates making contacts with Russians. Mr. Brennan did not name either the Russians or the Trump people. He indicated he did not know what was said.
But he said he believed the contacts were numerous enough to alert the FBI, which began its probe into Trump associates that same July, according to previous congressional testimony from then-FBI director James B. Comey.

The FBI probe of contacts came the same month the intelligence community fingered Russian agents as orchestrating hacks into Democratic Party computers and providing stolen emails to WikiLeaks.
Mr. Brennan, who has not hidden his dislike for Mr. Trump, testified he briefed the investigation’s progress to Mr. Obama, who at the time was trying to aid Hillary Clinton in her campaign against the Republican nominee.

Mr. Brennan, who has not hidden his dislike for Mr. Trump, testified he briefed the investigation’s progress to Mr. Obama, who at the time was trying to aid Hillary Clinton in her campaign against the Republican nominee

As Mr. Brennan described his actions to the House committee: “I wanted to make sure that every information and bit of intelligence that we had was shared with the bureau [FBI] so that they could take it. It was well beyond my mandate as director of CIA to follow on any of those leads that involved U.S. persons. But I made sure that anything that was involving U.S. persons, including anything involving the individuals involved in the Trump campaign, was shared with the bureau.
“I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians, either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and it served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion [or] cooperation occurred,” Mr. Brennan added.

Eleven months later, there is no official public confirmation that Trump people colluded with the Russians on hacking

the Trump campaign severed ties with him because of sensational charges in an unverified anti-Trump dossier that surfaced in a smattering of news stories before Nov. 8.
The dossier was one of the forces influencing the FBI that summer. Some press reports said it was the reason the bureau began investigating Trump associates and acquired a warrant to wiretap Mr. Page as a possible foreign agent.
But Mr. Brennan’s May 23 testimony shows that it was his actions that drove the FBI probe.
The dossier was financed by a Clinton backer and written by British ex-spy Christopher Steele. He was hired by Democratic-tied Fusion GPS in Washington.














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