Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Today's links

The collective inertia or resistance of the federal bureaucracy disintegrates in the face of a presidential order. The notion of non-compliance is wrong. All within the bureaucracy understand that if they are detected in non-compliance, they are finished. The Borg is the foreign policy establishment (media, government employees, academics, etc.) as a collective. The notion of a Deep State requires belief in a conspiracy to control the state from within the bureaucracy.  Colonel Pat Lang 

I despise ISIS as much as anyone, but let me just toss out a different question: Should we be arming ISIS? Or let me ask that differently: Why are we, for the third time since 9/11, fighting a war on behalf of Iran?...ISIS, with all its awfulness, emerged as the homegrown Sunni Arab response to this crushing defeat of Sunni Arabism — mixing old pro-Saddam Baathists with medieval Sunni religious fanatics with a collection of ideologues, misfits and adventure-seekers from around the Sunni Muslim world. Obviously, I abhor ISIS and don’t want to see it spread or take over Iraq. I simply raise this question rhetorically because no one else is: Why is it in our interest to destroy the last Sunni bulwark to a total Iranian takeover of Iraq? Because the Shiite militias now leading the fight against ISIS will rule better? Really?
  go ahead, ruin my day

“The Saudi-born Takfiri ideology acts like the predator species, which seeks to have all other species go extinct. The Saudi government, Saudi charities, and Saudi-backed organizations continue to support this lethal poison (Takfirism), which provides the necessary hardware and software for terrorism and extremism.”

1--How I became a Kremlin Troll, saker

when the entourage of Eltsin suddenly appointed an unknown nobody to acting President of Russia, I was rather dubious, to put it mildly.  The new guy was not a drunk or an arrogant oligarch, but he looked rather unimpressive.  He was also ex-KGB which was interesting: on one hand, the KGB had been my lifelong enemy but on the other hand, I knew that the part of the KGB which dealt with foreign intelligence was staffed by the brightest of the brightest and that they had nothing to do with political repression, Gulags and all the rest of the ugly stuff another Directorate of the KGB...

Then, two crucial things happened in parallel: both the “Free world” and Putin showed their true faces: the “Free world” as an AngloZionist Empire hell-bent on aggression and oppression, and Vladimir Putin as a real patriot of Russia. In fact, Putin slowly began looking like a hero to me: very gradually, in small incremental steps first, Putin began to turn Russia around, especially in two crucial matters: he was trying to “re-sovereignize” the country (making it truly sovereign and independent again), and he dared the unthinkable: he openly told the Empire that it was not only wrong, it was illegitimate (just read the transcript of Putin’s amazing 2007 “Munich Speech”).

2--Weapons shipments continue despite Trump promise

Abdulaziz Yunus, who is in charge of foreign affairs of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has revealed to Sputnik that the US and the coalition continue have never stopped arms supplies, despite earlier reports that President Trump promised President Erdogan to put an end to deliveries to the Syrian Kurds.
"The US and its coalition continue providing their military aid. Any reports that the US has halted its arms’ supplies are wrong and do not reflect the situation on the ground," Abdulaziz Yunus told Sputnik Turkiye.

3--Flynn's turn in the docket?

When Flynn was head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency and afterwards, he blew the whistle on the U.S. and its allies willfully allowing Islamic terrorists to flourish in Syria.
That didn’t ingratiate him with the Deep State …

FBI Whistleblower Says Gülen Is a Terror Kingpin...

Edmonds has said that – when she worked for the FBI as a translator – she saw documents showing that:
  • Gülen is the leader of one of the world’s largest terror networks, with terrorist training centers throughout the Middle East and central Asia
  • He is a key player in false flag terrorism in Turkey and other areas
  • He was key in changing Turkey from a secular country to an Islamic country, and electing dictator Erdogan
  • He is involved in heroin and other drug networks, selling nuclear material on the black market, and money-laundering
  • Gülen has contributed large sums of money to the Clintons through the Clinton Foundation
  • Gülen’s handler in the U.S. is former long-time CIA officer – and current CIA contractor – Graham Fuller
  • When Mueller was the Director of the FBI, he was instrumental in covering up Gülen’s terrorist activities and spiking prosecution against Gülen
  • Mueller is now trying to throw Flynn in jail, to silence his efforts to expose Gülen

4-- Repressive political agenda of the “sexual harassment” campaign comes into the open

Collins online dictionary defines witch-hunt (British) as “a rigorous campaign to round up or expose dissenters on the pretext of safeguarding the welfare of the public” and (American) as “an investigation carried out ostensibly to uncover disloyalty, subversive political activity, etc., usually conducted with much publicity and often relying upon inconclusive evidence and capitalizing on public fear of unpopular opinions...

The sexual misconduct campaign is dishonest in so many ways. There is the ludicrous pretense, for example, that Hollywood or the entertainment industry generally is the measure of sexual and workplace relations in America. In the 2014 General Social Survey, a random sample of Americans was asked, “In the last 12 months, were you sexually harassed by anyone while you were on the job?” In response, 3.6 percent of women said yes, a decrease from 6.1 percent in 2002. Not a conclusive statistic by any means, but not an indication of the “state of siege” described by the various columnists and pundits.

The latter could not care less about the conditions of the broad mass of the American or global population, female or male. Poverty, the destruction of pensions and health care benefits, the vicious rescinding of abortion rights, the attack on Planned Parenthood and other critical women’s health programs, homelessness, the opioid crisis and the jump in the rate of suicide do not concern them in the slightest. And where are their protests about the mass killing in Iraq and Afghanistan, about illegal drone strikes and “kill lists”?

The Democratic Party in particular is deeply immersed in the sexual crimes business. In the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton’s strategy for victory was based on the Brock Turner case at Stanford, bathroom access for transgender people and “white privilege.” The Democrats invested enormously in all this, and it failed. Now they are doubling down. “White privilege” has been supplemented by “male sexuality.” This is lodged in a definite, privileged section of the population

5-- Democrats posture as opponents of Wall Street in CFPB dispute--Wall Street wins again

More broadly, the obvious determination of the Trump administration to stamp out even a fig leaf of accountability for the big banks allows the Democratic Party as a whole to adopt the stance of opposition to Wall Street.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer met with Leandra English and Elizabeth Warren Monday afternoon, and then denounced Trump for “putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.” So says the paid agent of the foxes, who has received more campaign contributions from Wall Street than anyone else in Congress.
Schumer’s deputy, Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, hailed the CFPB, declaring, “Wall Street hates it like the devil hates holy water”—perhaps uttering an inadvertent truth, since the CFPB is precisely as useless as holy water in fighting the domination of Wall Street over the US economy.

6-- Thomas Friedman of the New York Times: A sycophant in the House of Saud

In the past quarter century of Washington’s unending wars, Friedman has offered himself as the unflagging cheerleader for every act of US imperialist aggression....

Friedman makes it clear that he much prefers a “Spring” orchestrated by an autocratic crown prince than one arising from a mass popular revolt...

7--The FCC’s Order Is Out: It Will End Net Neutrality and Break the Internet. We’ve Read It, and Here’s What You Need to Know

8-- US Provides Military Aid To More Than 70 Percent Of World’s Dictatorships

9--UNSEALED: Fusion GPS Bank Records Show Russia-Related Payments

10--Trump has also increased airstrikes in Afghanistan dramatically in addition to U.S. troop presence there. As of October 31, the U.S. has dropped 3,554 bombs in Afghanistan in 2017 so far, which is almost three times the 1,337 it dropped in 2016 and almost four times the 947 bombs dropped there in 2015. A United Nations report in October claimed civilian deaths had increased by 50 percent in Afghanistan compared to the same point last year, suggesting Trump's new strategy in the country has been taking a huge toll on noncombatants

11-- “Fusion’s specialty is seeding its opposition research into news stories, a modus operandi highlighted by a 2011 interview with co-founder Peter Fritsch,” the House attorneys said. Mr. Fritsch is also a former Wall Street Journal reporter.

BuzzFeed posted the entire 35-page dossier in January 2017. House Intelligence Committee Democrats have used the document to recite unverified allegations against Mr. Trump and his team.

The journalists initially briefed at the end of September 2016 by the Second Defendant (Steele) and Fusion at Fusion’s instruction were from the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker and CNN,’ Steele’s lawyers said, adding that he “verbally and in person” briefed the first three organizations in mid-October and a reporter from Mother Jones via Skype.”

And it was damned successful according to Kimberley Strassel:
Among the dossier’s contents were allegations that in early July 2016 Carter Page…held a “secret” meeting with two high-ranking Russians connected to President Vladimir Putin. It even claimed these Russians offered to give Mr. Page a 19% share in Russia’s state oil company in return for a future President Trump lifting U.S. sanctions. This dossier allegation is ludicrous on its face. Mr. Page…has testified under oath that he never met the two men in question or had such a conversation.

Yet the press ran with it. On Sept. 23, 2016, Yahoo News’s Michael Isikoff published a bombshell story under the headline: “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin.” Mr. Isikoff said “U.S. officials” had “received intelligence” about Mr. Page and Russians, and then went on to recite verbatim all the unfounded dossier allegations. He attributed all this to a “well-placed Western intelligence source,” making it sound as if this info had come from someone in government rather than from an ex-spy-for-hire.
The Clinton campaign jumped all over it, spinning its own oppo research as a government investigation into Mr. Trump. Jennifer Palmieri, the campaign’s communications director, the next day took to television to tout the Isikoff story and cite “U.S. intelligence officials” in the same breath as Mr. Page. Other Clinton surrogates fanned out on TV and Twitter to spread the allegations.

12--Ending Syria’s proxy war  video

13--Why Is Trump Fighting ISIS in Syria?                         

Why should our goal right now be to defeat the Islamic State in Syria? Of course, ISIS is detestable and needs to be eradicated. But is it really in our interest to be focusing solely on defeating ISIS in Syria right now?...

“territorial ISIS.” It still controls pockets in western Iraq and larger sectors of Syria. Its goal is to defeat Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria — plus its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies — and to defeat the pro-Iranian Shiite regime in Iraq, replacing both with a caliphate....
So what else could we do? We could dramatically increase our military aid to anti-Assad rebels, giving them sufficient anti-tank and antiaircraft missiles to threaten Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian helicopters and fighter jets and make them bleed, maybe enough to want to open negotiations. Fine with me...

What else? We could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad. After all, they’re the ones overextended in Syria, not us. Make them fight a two-front war — the moderate rebels on one side and ISIS on the other. If we defeat territorial ISIS in Syria now, we will only reduce the pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah and enable them to devote all their resources to crushing the last moderate rebels in Idlib, not sharing power with them....

Trump should want to defeat ISIS in Iraq. But in Syria? Not for free, not now. In Syria, Trump should let ISIS be Assad’s, Iran’s, Hezbollah’s and Russia’s headache — the same way we encouraged the mujahedeen fighters to bleed Russia in Afghanistan

14--Russiagates journalists 'for hire'

The committee also seeks records “related to Fusion’s payments to journalists who have reported on Russia issues relevant to its investigation.”
In a memo filed Tuesday, lawyers for the House panel said they are seeking transactions related to nine payments made to “three individual journalists…each of whom have reported on and/or been quoted in articles regarding topics related to the Committee’s investigation, some of which were published as recently as October 2017.”

The names of the journalists are redacted in the filing.
It is not clear from the requests whether Fusion GPS paid active journalists for their work. The firm is known to employ a stable of former reporters. Simpson and his two founding partners, Peter Fritsch and Thomas Catan, worked together at The Wall Street Journal.
The unsealed filings show that Fusion argued against releasing records related to payments to journalists.

In a Nov. 3 declaration, Fritsch argued that “transactions between Fusion GPS and certain journalists…are not pertinent to work related to Russia or Donald Trump.”
And in a Nov. 2 email to the Intel committee’s legal team, Levy argued that “records related to payments to the journalists and ‘individuals’ are protected by the First Amendment and confidentiality, and they are not pertinent.”

15-- The US tax bill: A massive handout to the financial elite

16--How Obama shrunk the federal work force graph

The public sector grew during Mr. Carter's term (up 1,304,000), during Mr. Reagan's terms (up 1,414,000), during Mr. G.H.W. Bush's term (up 1,127,000), during Mr. Clinton's terms (up 1,934,000), and during Mr. G.W. Bush's terms (up 1,744,000 jobs).  However the public sector declined significantly while Mr. Obama was in office (down 268,000 jobs).

17-- Janet Yellen and Barack Obama’s Economy Is Looking Good

The overall unemployment rate for October was 4.1 percent. ....
The good news on the unemployment rate must be qualified given the large number of people who have left the labor market. If we look at the employment rate (EPOP), the percent of people who are employed, it is still down for prime age workers (ages 25 to 54) by 1.5 percentage points from its pre-recession peak and by 3.1 percentage points from the high hit in 2000....

The economy has done very poorly on this measure in recent years with productivity growth averaging less than 1.0 percent annually over the last five years. This compares to a nearly 3.0 percent growth rate in the years from 1995 to 2005 and the long Golden Age from 1947 to 1973.

18--Verizon and the Death of the Internet

NOTES--- http://www.doctorhousingbubble.com/home-equity-withdrawals-home-atm-heloc-home-loans-moving-higher/#more-9063






Thus the “Sunni axis” is really a “Saudi axis.” This isn’t a group of Sunni countries driven by religious hatred of a Shi’ite country; rather, the common denominator that unites its members is their dependence on Riyadh or their desire to be its economic ally. Moreover, the claim that there’s a risk of Shi’ite Islam spreading in Sunni states portrays Sunni countries as being weak and on the defensive – as if the sweeping Sunni majority, comprising some 90 percent of all Muslims, were actually afraid of the power of the Shi’ites, who comprise only about 10 percent of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.822643

Militarily, Hezbollah is in no condition to launch an attack on Israel. It is still fighting in a number of locations in Syria and has to rebuild its units before embarking on a new war
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.821488

There are some voices in the Israeli security establishment that are in favor of a preemptive strike against Hezbollah’s rocket positions in Lebanon at the present time, but they are in a minority.
                                                Benjamin Netanyahu, for all his anti-Iranian rhetoric, is loath to expand hostilities with Iran’s main proxy, beyond surgical pinpoint attacks. The lessons of 2006 are still fresh in the minds of Israeli military planners, and anyway Netanyahu is much more risk-averse than his belligerent image and has never been a fan of wide-scale operations that necessitate mobilizing the entire army. He would of course be more than happy to see someone else take Iran head-on – like the Americans, for example – but while there has been no lack of anti-Iran rhetoric from the Trump administration either, there doesn’t seem to be an appetite for going beyond a war of words in Washington.



14--More embarrassing Friedman quotes

Only if you give the Palestinians something to lose is there a hope that they will agree to moderate their demands.… I believe that as soon as Ahmed has a seat in the bus, he will limit his demands.
  • New York Times (10 December 1986).
One might ask what the reaction would be if a prominent journalist urged South Africans to "give Sambo a seat in the bus," or proposed that Jews be granted something to lose, because "if you give Hymie a seat in the bus, he may limit his demands." Promotion to chief diplomatic correspondent, perhaps?   Noam Chomsky, Letters from Lexington (2004).

Indeed, McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the U.S. Air Force F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. And these fighting forces and institutions are paid for by American taxpayer dollars.” (p. 464)

In 1999, during the U.S. bombing of Serbia, Friedman showed off his glib warmongering style: “Like it or not, we are at war with the Serbian nation (the Serbs certainly think so), and the stakes have to be very clear: Every week you ravage Kosovo is another decade we will set your country back by pulverizing you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too.”
Before George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, Friedman offered the witty observation that it was time to “give war a chance,” a flippant play on John Lennon’s lyrics to the song, “Give Peace a Chance.”

You win the presidency by connecting with the American people's gut insecurities and aspirations. You win with a concept. The concept I'd argue for is "neoliberalism." More Americans today are natural neolibs, than neocons. Neoliberals believe in a muscular foreign policy and a credible defense budget, but also a prudent fiscal policy that balances taxes, deficit reduction and government services.

Meet the Press (23 July 2006), referring to the Central American Free Trade Agreement
  • ." free tradeI was speaking out in Minnesota — my hometown, in fact — and a guy stood up in the audience, said, "Mr. Friedman, is there any free trade agreement you’d oppose?" I said, "No, absolutely not." I said, "You know what, sir? I wrote a column supporting the CAFTA, the Caribbean Free Trade initiative. I didn’t even know what was in it. I just knew two words:
    • The only engine big enough to impact Mother Nature is Father Greed.
      • "Off to the Races". New York Times. December 19, 2009. Retrieved on December 22, 2009.
  • One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.
    • The New York Times, September 8, 2009.[1].
    • New York Times (11 June 2002) "Read My Lips".

    journalists paid for disseminating trump dossier lies

    Saturday, November 25, 2017

    Today's link

    The End of the Information Age-- Net neutrality and the drive to censor the internet

    25 November 2017
    Wednesday’s move by the Trump administration to end net neutrality marks a milestone in the offensive by the US government and major corporations to put an end to the free and open internet, paving the way for widespread government censorship of oppositional news and analysis.

    Under the current law, upheld by numerous court decisions and reaffirmed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015, companies that provide internet access to users, known as internet service providers (ISPs), cannot block or impede their users’ access to any website or service.

    But the draft proposal published by FCC chairman Ajit Pai Wednesday, and expected to sail through the approval process next month, would put an end to the decades-long treatment of internet services as a public utility, allowing the internet monopolies Comcast, Charter, AT&T and Verizon full ability to block, throttle and promote internet traffic at will.

    This will allow them to block or limit access to websites, such as the World Socialist Web Site, WikiLeaks and other sources of politically critical news, entirely at their discretion, as well as peer-to-peer file sharing networks, which were used by news outlets to bypass censorship in the past.

    The ending of net neutrality will also have a substantial economic impact. By scrapping most government regulation of the internet giants, the ISPs will be able to use their monopoly power to jack up prices for consumers. While most people will be relegated to a slow and largely censored internet, the ability to communicate information freely will be reserved for those who can pay exorbitant premium rates.

    Moreover, by forcing content providers to pay for premium access, the ending of net neutrality threatens to massively entrench existing communications monopolies, while restricting access to smaller businesses and user-supported sites and services, which will not have the financial resources to compete with the technology and media giants. ISPs will be free to increase costs for smaller sites and services, potentially driving them out of business.

    Major media outlets, which have for years been inveighing against the independent blogs, websites and other news outlets that gained readership at their expense, will no doubt seek to use the ruling to bring to bear their economic leverage to regain their former control over the political discourse.

    The power that is being handed to a few corporations is staggering. The four largest telecommunications companies control more than 75 percent of high-speed internet service. More than half of American households have only one ISP to chose from, and most other households have only two providers to choose from.

    Now, these giant monopolies, which have already demonstrated that they act as proxies for the government by collaborating in the NSA’s illegal mass surveillance programs, will be able to block access to entire websites.

    While the major social media and content distribution companies, including Facebook and Google, have claimed to oppose the move, they do so entirely from the standpoint that ending net neutrality will give internet service providers greater power to compete with their businesses.

    Facebook, Twitter, and Google, which owns YouTube, have made clear that they fully support internet censorship, which is the essential content of the ending of net neutrality.
    This week, Facebook announced that it would notify users when they read content from accounts accused by US intelligence agencies of spreading “Russian propaganda,” creating a backlist of outlets presenting critical sources of news and analysis.

    This followed the announcement by Google executive Eric Schmidt that the company would “de-rank” RT, Sputnik and what it called “those kinds of sites,” in its search and news products. This is an open-ended statement of intent to censor not just Russia-connected news sites, but effectively all political opposition. Schmidt’s comments were a confirmation of statements by the World Socialist Web Site that Google is seeking to limit access to sites based on political criteria.

    Google’s YouTube, meanwhile, has gone on a censorship spree, taking down videos and banning and demonetizing channels it claims are spreading “extremist” views.

    The ending of net neutrality plays a key role in this censorship drive. Under conditions that existed prior to the ending of net neutrality, users were able to bypass these forms of heavy-handed censorship by turning to smaller and more open platforms to find and share information.
    But with the ending of net neutrality, the social media and streaming monopolies will be able, by cutting deals with the ISPs, to strangle their upstart competitors, keeping users locked into platforms that increasingly serve as little more than distribution networks for state-approved propaganda.

    Billions of people all over the world have embraced the internet precisely because it promised a free and unimpeded way to access and share information. Oppositional and socialist organizations, excluded for decades from the public discourse by the effective monopoly exercised by major newspapers, TV, and radio stations, found an audience hungry for information suppressed by the increasingly discredited establishment media.

    The government’s lies—from the “weapons of mass destruction” that justified the invasion of Iraq, to government complicity with Islamist organizations it was supposedly fighting in the “war on terror,” to mass surveillance and the corrupt and oligarchic nature of American politics—have been exposed by internet publications.

    Now, under conditions of a mounting war threat and soaring social inequality, public access to alternative sources of information is seen as an intolerable threat, to be shut off and suppressed.

    Internet communications are not a luxury, but a vital social need and should be treated as a public utility. However, under conditions in which three billionaires control as much wealth as half the US population, and all of social and economic life is controlled by a shrinking number of powerful corporations, the provision of all social rights, from communications to the most basic necessities of public infrastructure, are treated as privileges available only to the increasingly small sliver of the population that is able to pay for them.

    The demand for the most basic social rights, including the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech, comes into conflict with the capitalist system.

    The defense of a free and open internet is inseparably bound up with the struggle against capitalism, based on the independent and international mobilization of the working class around a socialist program.

    The massive and bloated technology monopolies, who now see their primary function as being the blocking, not the dissemination, of information, must be seized and turned into publicly owned utilities, with the aim of providing the entire world’s combined knowledge to the whole global population

    Friday, November 24, 2017

    Today's Links

    “They are there not only without permission from Damascus, but also in direct violation of the wishes of the Syrian government. In fact, what they are doing could be described as occupation”.  Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Maria Zakharova

    "The left needs to get beyond its opposition to the war and start pitching in with its own ideas and moral support to try to make lemons into lemonade in Baghdad:

    First, even though the Bush team came to this theme late in the day, this war is the most important liberal, revolutionary U.S. democracy-building project since the Marshall Plan. The primary focus of U.S. forces in Iraq today is erecting a decent, legitimate, tolerant, pluralistic representative government from the ground up. I don't know if we can pull this off. We got off to an unnecessarily bad start. But it is one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad and it is a moral and strategic imperative that we give it our best shot."  

    1-- Putin’s U.N. General Assembly speech (again)

    2--US to keep troops in Syria after ISIS defeat

    The US plans to keep its troops in Syria long after the defeat of ISIS – the goal used to justify their illegal presence in the first place – because the Syrian government and its ally Iran would “win” if they were withdrawn, the Washington Post reported.
    The Trump administration is “expanding its goals” in Syria to include a “potentially open-ended commitment” to support the Kurd-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing several anonymous US officials. The change comes as the defeat of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group in Syria seems imminent

    “An abrupt US withdrawal could complete Assad’s sweep of Syrian territory and help guarantee his political survival – an outcome that would constitute a win for Iran, his close ally. To avoid that outcome, US officials say they plan to maintain a US troop presence in northern Syria… and establish new local governance, apart from the Assad government, in those areas,” the newspaper said.
    If true, it means Washington will be actively promoting Kurdish separatism to spite Damascus and Tehran, while paying lip service to preserving Syria’s territorial integrity.

    “The conditions are there for the counter-ISIS campaign to morph into a counter-Iran campaign,” Nicholas Heras of the Washington-based Center for a New American Security told WaPo. “By placing no timeline on the end of the US mission… the Pentagon is creating a framework for keeping the US engaged in Syria for years to come.”

    3--Biased Reporting on a Bad Guy: Mohammed bin Salman

    4--The tyrant Abe Lincoln

    There has never been a more substantial threat to a free press in the history of our country than the 16th President of the United States. Lincoln sent soldiers to destroy printing presses and related newspaper publishing tools at outlets which did not support his handling of the Southern secession. In response to negative editorials about the military invasion of the South and his overall war policy, Lincoln also commandeered, and then closed 300 Northern newspapers

    President Lincoln did not stop at just destroying private property and commandeering newspapers, he also arrested and imprisoned many of the editors and publishers of those same press outlets.

    5--Washington's hand in the Yemeni genocide

    The Houthis are not al-Qaida or ISIS. Those are Sunni terrorist groups, and the Houthis detest them....

    Are we willing to play passive observer as thousands and then tens of thousands of innocent civilians — the old, sick, weak, and infants and toddlers first — die from a starvation blockade supported by the mighty United States of America?
    Without U.S. targeting and refueling, Saudi planes could not attack the Houthis effectively and Riyadh could not win this war. But when did Congress authorize this war on a nation that never attacked us?

    6--Putin the world's new energy czar

    In December 2016, OPEC, Russia and other major producers agreed to curb production by 1.8 million barrels per day for six months from January 1 to support the market and push prices to $60 per barrel. In May, the agreement was extended by nine months.

    7--Insane clown prince calls Iran "new Hitler"

    8--US plans to stay in Syria

    They are following the call of the Zionist Jewish Institute for National Security of America which is pushing for a war on all Iran related entities and interests in the Middle East. JINSA advertises its huge influence on the higher U.S. officer corps. It is not by chance that a recent speech at the Jewish Policy Center in Washington described The U.S. Military as a Zionist Organization. But like other such wish-wash, it fails to explain why unquestioned support for a colony of east-European racist in west Asia is of "American interest".

    A report in today's Washington Post is more specific. The fitting headline: U.S. moves toward open-ended presence in Syria after Islamic State is routed:
    The Trump administration is expanding its goals in Syria beyond routing the Islamic State to include a political settlement of the country’s civil war ..
    With forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies now bearing down on the last militant-controlled towns, the defeat of the Islamic State in Syria could be imminent — along with an end to the U.S. justification for being there. U.S. officials say they are hoping to use the ongoing presence of American troops in northern Syria, in support of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to pressure Assad to make concessions at United Nations-brokered peace talks in Geneva.
    An abrupt U.S. withdrawal could complete Assad’s sweep of Syrian territory and help guarantee his political survival — an outcome that would constitute a win for Iran, his close ally.
    To avoid that outcome, U.S. officials say they plan to maintain a U.S. troop presence in northern Syria — where the Americans have trained and assisted the SDF against the Islamic State — and establish new local governance, apart from the Assad government, in those areas.
    “By placing no timeline on the end of the U.S. mission . . . the Pentagon is creating a framework for keeping the U.S. engaged in Syria for years to come,” [said Nicholas Heras of the Washington-based Center for a New American Security.]...

    The U.S. troops in Syria are allied with the Kurdish YPG. The YPG is the Syrian branch of the internationally designated Kurdish terrorist organization PKK. Only about 2-5% of the Syrian population are of Kurdish-Syrian descent. Under U.S. command they now control more than 20% of Syrian state territory and some 40% of its hydrocarbon reserves. This is thievery on a grand scale.

    To disguise its cooperation with the Kurdish terrorists, the U.S. renamed the group into the "Syrian Democratic Forces" (SDF). Some Arab fighters from east Syrian tribes were added to it. These are mostly former foot-soldiers of ISIS who changed sides when the U.S. offered better pay. Other fighters were pressed into service. The people of the Syrian-Arab city Manbij, which is occupied by the YPG and U.S. forces, protested when the YPG started to violently conscript its youth.

    New troops were added to the SDF during the last days when ISIS fighters escaped from the onslaught of Syrian and Iraq forces in Abu Kamal (aka Albu Kamla aka Bukamal). They fled northwards towards YPG/U.S. held areas. Like other ISIS fighters the U.S. helped to escape their deserved punishment these forces will be relabeled and reused.

    9--The Russia Scandal Just Got Much Worse … For Hillary Clinton And Barack Obama

    10--Russia slams US “occupation” of Syria after reports suggest the US will not leave Syria (important) 

    11--The way forward in Zimbabwe after Mugabe

    12--Russia, Turkey, Iran meet on Syria at Sochi Summit (very important)

    The NATO powers do not intend to tolerate a defeat in the Middle East, and are doubtless preparing their next escalation, amid explosive war tensions with Russia in Eastern Europe.Under these conditions, Moscow is clearly seeking to balance between its partners at the Sochi conference and the more openly pro-US regimes in the region. On Tuesday, the eve of the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin held an hour-long phone call with Trump, in which Syria, where both the US and Russian military are deployed, was a principal point of discussion. He also called the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel to discuss recent developments in Syria and cooperation on various projects, including in the security and energy sectors, according to a Kremlin statement.

    Citing the statement, Sputnik news reported that Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “expressed interest in the further expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas, including contacts between security services … A substantive exchange of views was held on the prospects for the development of the situation in the Middle East region, primarily in the context of the final stage of the fight against international terrorism in Syria.”

    Putin’s press service added that the Russian president had informed the Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah Sisi “in detail about Russian assessments of the latest developments in the situation in Syria in the context of the final stages of the military operation to destroy terrorists in that country and discussed the results of the recent talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad.”
    In their phone call on Tuesday, Putin and Saudi King Salman “continued the exchange of views on the situation in the Middle East region and discussed issues related to the prospects for a long-term settlement of the Syrian conflict in light of recent successes in the fight against terrorist groups there,” the statement continued...

    Erdogan raised a central point of conflict, the Kurdish issue: “In this regard, political unity and territorial integrity of Syria and exclusion of the terrorist elements, which threaten the national security of our country, will continue to be among our priorities. No one should expect us to be together under the same roof, to share the same platform with a terror organization. If we express our commitment to the territorial integrity and political unity of Syria, we cannot regard a bloody gang as a legitimate actor.”
    Ankara has long considered Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a terrorist group and stressed that its militia, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), should withdraw from Afrin, a multi-ethnic region in northern Syria bordering Turkey, where Russian troops are also stationed. Erdogan repeatedly asked Putin to withdraw Russian troops from the region, so that the Turkish army could take its “own measures to secure the borders.” Recently, the Turkish army deployed additional troops near Afrin.

    It is not only Ankara that opposes Kurdish autonomy in Syria for fear of provoking separatist moods within its own Kurdish population. For decades, Iran also fought Kurdish separatist groups.

    13-- Tom Friedman's lovesong to Saudi tyrant (unreadable gibberish)

    Now they have a young leader who is driving religious and economic reform, who talks the language of high tech, and whose biggest sin may be that he wants to go too fast. Most ministers are now in their 40s — and not 60s. And with the suffocating hand of a puritanical Islam being lifted, it’s giving them a chance to think afresh about their country and their identity as Saudis.

    Saudi Arabia — I never thought I’d live long enough to write this sentence: The most significant reform process underway anywhere in the Middle East today is in Saudi Arabia. Yes, you read that right. Though I came here at the start of Saudi winter, I found the country going through its own Arab Spring, Saudi style.
    Unlike the other Arab Springs — all of which emerged bottom up and failed miserably, except in Tunisia — this one is led from the top down by the country’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and, if it succeeds, it will not only change the character of Saudi Arabia but the tone and tenor of Islam across the globe. Only a fool would predict its success — but only a fool would not root for it.

    To better understand it I flew to Riyadh to interview the crown prince, known as “M.B.S.,” who had not spoken about the extraordinary events here of early November, when his government arrested scores of Saudi princes and businessmen on charges of corruption and threw them into a makeshift gilded jail — the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton — until they agreed to surrender their ill-gotten gains. You don’t see that every day.

    We started with the obvious question: What’s happening at the Ritz? And was this his power play to eliminate his family and private sector rivals before his ailing father, King Salman, turns the keys of the kingdom over to him?

    It’s “ludicrous,” he said, to suggest that this anticorruption campaign was a power grab. He pointed out that many prominent members of the Ritz crowd had already publicly pledged allegiance to him and his reforms, and that “a majority of the royal family” is already behind him. This is what happened, he said: “Our country has suffered a lot from corruption from the 1980s until today. The calculation of our experts is that roughly 10 percent of all government spending was siphoned off by corruption each year, from the top levels to the bottom. Over the years the government launched more than one ‘war on corruption’ and they all failed. Why? Because they all started from the bottom up.”

    when his father, who has never been tainted by corruption charges during his nearly five decades as governor of Riyadh, ascended to the throne in 2015 (at a time of falling oil prices), he vowed to put a stop to it all, M.B.S. said:
    “My father saw that there is no way we can stay in the G-20 and grow with this level of corruption. In early 2015, one of his first orders to his team was to collect all the information about corruption — at the top. This team worked for two years until they collected the most accurate information, and then they came up with about 200 names.”..

    When all the data was ready, the public prosecutor, Saud al-Mojib, took action, M.B.S. said, explaining that each suspected billionaire or prince was arrested and given two choices: “We show them all the files that we have and as soon as they see those about 95 percent agree to a settlement,” which means signing over cash or shares of their business to the Saudi state treasury...

    The stakes are high for M.B.S. in this anticorruption drive. If the public feels that he is truly purging corruption that was sapping the system and doing so in a way that is transparent and makes clear to future Saudi and foreign investors that the rule of law will prevail, it will really instill a lot of new confidence in the system. But if the process ends up feeling arbitrary, bullying and opaque, aimed more at aggregating power for power’s sake and unchecked by any rule of law, it will end up instilling fear that will unnerve Saudi and foreign investors in ways the country can’t afford

    But one thing I know for sure: Not a single Saudi I spoke to here over three days expressed anything other than effusive support for this anticorruption drive. The Saudi silent majority is clearly fed up with the injustice of so many princes and billionaires ripping off their country. While foreigners, like me, were inquiring about the legal framework for this operation, the mood among Saudis I spoke with was: “Just turn them all upside down, shake the money out of their pockets and don’t stop shaking them until it’s all out!”

    (Friedman thinks MBS is a progressive) A lawyer by training, who rose up in his family’s education-social welfare foundation, M.B.S. is on a mission to bring Saudi Islam back to the center. He has not only curbed the authority of the once feared Saudi religious police to berate a woman for not covering every inch of her skin, he has also let women drive. And unlike any Saudi leader before him, he has taken the hard-liners on ideologically. As one U.S.-educated 28-year-old Saudi woman told me: M.B.S. “uses a different language. He says, ‘We are going to destroy extremism.’ He’s not sugar-coating. That is reassuring to me that the change is real.”...

    Saudi Arabia would have a very long way to go before it approached anything like Western standards for free speech and women’s rights. But as someone who has been coming here for almost 30 years, it blew my mind to learn that you can hear Western classical music concerts in Riyadh now, that country singer Toby Keith held a men-only concert here in September, where he even sang with a Saudi, and that Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji will be among the first woman singers to perform a women-only concert here on Dec. 6. And M.B.S told me, it was just decided that women will be able to go to stadiums and attend soccer games. The Saudi clerics have completely acquiesced.

    14--More gems from  Friedman on MBS

    He is much more McKinsey than Wahhabi — much more a numbers cruncher than a Quran thumper. And if he did not exist, the Saudi system would have had to invent him. Somebody had to shake up the place....

    But he is replacing Wahhabism as a source of solidarity with a more secular Saudi nationalism, one that has a strong anti-Iran/Persian/Shiite tenor. And that is taking him to some dangerous places. To confront Iran, M.B.S. got the Sunni Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad al-Hariri, to quit his office on Saturday while on a visit to Riyadh, and blamed Iran and its Shiite allies for making Lebanon ungovernable — and for a missile attack from Yemen. Lebanon, which had forged a relatively stable balance among Sunnis, Christians and Shiites, is now shaking. M.B.S. also led a Gulf effort to isolate Qatar for being too close to Iran and to crush Iran’s influence in Yemen — and crush Yemen in the process. It’s overreach, and there seems to be no one around to tell him that.
    As a veteran Saudi journalist remarked to me of M.B.S.: “This guy saved Saudi Arabia from a slow death, but he needs to broaden his base. It is good that he is freeing the house of Saud of the influence of the clergy, but he is also not allowing any second opinion of his political and economic decisions.”
    I worry that those urging M.B.S. to be more aggressive in confronting Iran (whose malign regional influence does need counterbalancing) — like the U.A.E., Trump, Jared Kushner and Bibi Netanyahu — will push M.B.S. into a war abroad and at home at the same time, and we could see Saudi Arabia and the whole region spin out of control at the same time. As I said, I’m worried.

    15-- Remember when Friedman said this--

    “The war in Iraq is the most important liberal, revolutionary US democracy- building project since the Marshall Plan. It is one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad.” (New York Times)

    Wednesday, November 22, 2017

    Today's links

    1-- Putin’s Metamorphosis 

    Whole speech-- Sept 28, 2015  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/09/28/read-putins-u-n-general-assembly-speech/?utm_term=.e722ecf82da0

    With Vladimir Putin’s pivotal speech at the United Nations on September 28th, 2015, opposition to this vision was expressed in the most forceful, and frankly, humanist terms one could imagine.  I’m going to remind you of the most important passage as it relates to Syria.
    In these circumstances, it is hypocritical and irresponsible to make loud declarations about the threat of international terrorism while turning a blind eye to the channels of financing and supporting terrorists, including the process of trafficking and illicit trade in oil and arms. It would be equally irresponsible to try to manipulate extremist groups and place them at one’s service in order to achieve one’s own political goals in the hope of later dealing with them or, in other words, liquidating them.

    To those who do so, I would like to say — dear sirs, no doubt you are dealing with rough and cruel people, but they’re in no way primitive or silly. They are just as clever as you are, and you never know who is manipulating whom. And the recent data on arms transferred to this most moderate opposition is the best proof of it.

    We believe that any attempts to play games with terrorists, let alone to arm them, are not just short-sighted, but fire hazardous (ph). This may result in the global terrorist threat increasing dramatically and engulfing new regions, especially given that Islamic State camps train militants from many countries, including the European countries.

    2--The Trump – Putin call: summary and analysis 

    Current Syrian issues, in view of the military operation to destroy terrorists in Syria which is winding down, were thoroughly discussed. Vladimir Putin stressed Russia’s willingness to actively facilitate a durable political settlement in that country on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 2254
    There was discussion of the need to preserve the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria, and to achieve a political settlement on the basis of principles that must be worked out as a result of the broadest possible intra-Syrian negotiation process. This is precisely the aim of Russia’s initiative to hold the National Dialogue Conference in Sochi soon.

    Vladimir Putin informed Donald Trump about the main outcomes of the November 20 meeting with Bashar al-Assad, where the Syrian leader reaffirmed his commitment to the political process, constitutional reform, and presidential and parliamentary elections..

    More broadly, the President of Russia once again spoke in favour of joint antiterrorist efforts with the United States, noting the practical importance of coordinating efforts between the special services of both countries. The US President was supportive of this idea....

    Reaffirming  [the UN Security Council’s] strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic...

    What lies behind this is Russian concern about what I recently called the US’s Plan C: the attempt by some in the US to maintain US influence in Syria by carving out a quasi independent Kurdish statelet in northern Syria

    3--FRAUD!   FBI  cannot verify’ Trump Dossier  

    FBI and Justice Department officials have told congressional investigators in recent days that they have not been able to verify or corroborate the substantive allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign outlined in the Trump dossier….

    An August 24, 2017 subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee to the FBI and Justice Department asked for information on the bureau’s efforts to validate the dossier. Specifically, the subpoena demanded “any documents, if they exist, that memorialize DOJ and/or FBI efforts to corroborate, validate, or evaluate information provided by Mr. Steele and/or sub-sources and/or contained in the ‘Trump Dossier.'”
    According to sources familiar with the matter, neither the FBI nor the Justice Department has provided documents in response to that part of the committee’s subpoena. But in face-to-face briefings with congressional staff, according to those sources, FBI and DOJ officials have said they cannot verify the dossier’s charges of a conspiracy between the Russian government and the Trump campaign...

    The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump-Russia affair shortly after receiving the first installment of an anti-Trump dossier from a former British spy working for the Hillary Clinton campaign. What congressional investigators want to know is whether that was a coincidence or not.
    The first report in the dossier compiled by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele was dated June 20, 2016.
    Steele told the left-leaning publication Mother Jones that he took the first part of his dossier to the FBI “near the start of July.”
    James Comey, when he was FBI director, told members of the House Intelligence Committee the Trump-Russia investigation began “in late July.”
    So the timeline is: The first dossier report was June 20, Steele approached the FBI near the start of July, and the FBI began its investigation in late July

    The FBI was very interested in Steele’s report, according to Mother Jones’ David Corn, who was personally briefed by Steele:
    The former intelligence officer says the response from the FBI was “shock and horror.” The FBI, after receiving the first memo, did not immediately request additional material, according to the former intelligence officer and his American associates. Yet in August, they say, the FBI asked him for all the information in his possession, and for him to explain how the material had been gathered and to identify his sources. The former spy forwarded to the bureau several memos — some of which referred to members of Trump’s inner circle. At that point, he continued to share information with the FBI. “It’s quite clear there was or is a pretty substantial inquiry going on,” he says.

    Corn’s report suggested the FBI was surprised by the dossier report’s contents, which in turn suggested the FBI wasn’t already on the case when Steele approached the bureau near the start of July…..
    Now, with multiple investigations underway, some officials are trying to reconstruct the events of June through October 2016. Were the allegations in the dossier accurate in the first place? If they were, did involvement go to the highest levels of the Trump campaign? But if they weren’t, was it a situation in which the Clinton campaign, through its hired foreign agent Steele, fed the FBI bad information for the purpose of having it leaked to the press in time to hurt Trump before the election?...

    getting information out of Fusion-GPS and the FBI about the Trump Dossier is proving to be extremely difficult
    …….Congress is trying to uncover the dossier story — what did the FBI do to try to verify it? Did agents use it as a basis for seeking wiretaps? — but getting information out of the FBI, as well as Fusion GPS, has been like pulling teeth, even after a House subpoena.

    It also incidentally substantiates a claim I made in an article for The Duran on 24th June 2017, which was that the early entries of the Trump Dossier were almost certainly the ‘intelligence’ the CIA sent to President Obama in August 2016, which supposedly ‘conclusively confirmed’ that the Russians on President Putin’s orders were meddling in the US election.
    The fact that – as Byron York shows – the  early entries of the Trump Dossier were being circulated throughout the US intelligence community in August 2016 all but confirms that this was the ‘intelligence’ referred to

    That this strange document or collection of documents should ever have been taken seriously by the CIA, the FBI, the Justice Department, the US intelligence community, the US Congress, the US media, and indeed the whole US governing class, is nothing short of astonishing.

    4-- Syria: Is the End in Sight?

    High profile discussions between heads of state from Russia, Syria, the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have raised the question of whether the violent conflict in Syria could finally be coming to an end....

    Putin's busy day with foreign leaders entailed informing Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi about "Russian assessments of the latest developments in the situation in Syria" about how to eliminate remaining terrorist elements, the Kremlin's press office said. Similar discussions were held between Putin and Saudi Arabia's King Salman as well, the Kremlin press service added....

    How interesting is it that what we're talking about here is a post-war, post-violence government, negotiations for a real government in Syria — something that's going to include the opposition, something that's going to come about as a result of multi-party talks. It's going to be Syrian in nature, and yet it's not even really covered in the US media," said Loud & Clear host John Kiriakou, a Middle East analyst who spent 14 years as a CIA officer.

    5--“There is hardly a more foolish thing in the world of politics than Saudi Arabia presenting its inherent sectarianism and prejudice as support for human rights.”

    “There is hardly a more foolish thing in the world of politics than Saudi Arabia presenting its inherent sectarianism and prejudice as support for human rights.”

    Adding to this, the Iranian representative pointed out that Saudi Arabia was the birthplace of Wahhabism an extremist ideology that allows Saudi preachers to freely declare others “infidels” and condemn them to death, a concept known in Arabic as takfir.

    “The Saudi-born Takfiri ideology acts like the predator species, which seeks to have all other species go extinct. The Saudi government, Saudi charities, and Saudi-backed organizations continue to support this lethal poison (Takfirism), which provides the necessary hardware and software for terrorism and extremism.”

    6-- Saudi crisis threatens wider war in the Middle East

    7-- Saudi Arabia carries out 100th execution so far this year

    8-- Assad and Putin work out differences?

    Assad specifically ruled out changes to the official names of the country and the army, and said they should continue to be called the ‘Syrian Arab Republic’ and the ‘Syrian Arab Army’ and not become the ‘Syrian Republic’ and the ‘Syrian Army’.

    The Russians – or at least some of them – have by contrast tentatively floated ideas of Syria doing precisely those things – of creating some sort of federal structure that would grant some form of political or cultural autonomy to the Kurds and to the country’s confessional groups, with the names of the country and the army being changed to the “Syrian Republic” and the “Syrian Army” – which President Assad said in his speech would be wrong and appeared to rule out.

    The meeting between Assad and Putin appears to be intended to argue out these points, in preparation for the negotiations for the final settlement of the Syrian conflict which are about to start.

    9--Google announces moves to censor RT and Sputnik

    10--Israel minister discloses covert ties with Saudi Arabia for first time

    11--The US tax bill: A massive handout to the financial elite

    12--More emails surface showing Hillary Clinton pay-to-play scheme

    13--Inequality is due to irresponsible monetary policy Uh huh

    14-- Saudis ask Israel to attack Lebanon?

    Rania Masri: [Secretary General of Hezbollah] Hassan Nasrallah gave two talks this week concerning the resignation and the need for national unity.  In the second talk he spoke to the contents of the resignation letter and responded to these Saudi threats. Nasrallah believes that Saudi Arabia has asked Israel to attack Lebanon and is willing to support this effort with millions of dollars.  We know from statements from the Saudi ministries that the Saudi government has declared war on all of Lebanon, not just Hezbollah....I don’t know what the US position is.  The Saudis recognize that they have not achieved the level of support they would like.  It is not really clear what the next step will be by the United States.  What is clear is that the Israeli press is not enthusiastic about launching a war against Lebanon to fulfill Saudi aims.....Many feel that, if we did not have Hezbollah, the likelihood of an Israeli attack would be much higher.

    Ben Caspit (and other Israeli commentators) confirm that the Israeli establishment does not see war with Hezbollah

    NOTES---Thus the “Sunni axis” is really a “Saudi axis.” This isn’t a group of Sunni countries driven by religious hatred of a Shi’ite country; rather, the common denominator that unites its members is their dependence on Riyadh or their desire to be its economic ally. Moreover, the claim that there’s a risk of Shi’ite Islam spreading in Sunni states portrays Sunni countries as being weak and on the defensive – as if the sweeping Sunni majority, comprising some 90 percent of all Muslims, were actually afraid of the power of the Shi’ites, who comprise only about 10 percent of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims
    read more: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.822643

    One popular theory regarding Hariri’s resignation is that he fled to Riyadh, or was ordered there, so he would not be implicated in an impending military attack by Israel on Lebanon, with Saudi backing, or an attack on Iran’s main proxy in Beirut, Hezbollah. The fact that Hezbollah has been accused of an assassination attempt on Hariri strengthened this theory. The Saudis would certainly love to have their Iranian rivals punished at this point, in some way or another, and Hezbollah would be a good target. The regime in Riyadh is in no position to launch a war itself against Iran. For the last two-and-a-half years, the Saudis have been engaging in a war against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, which has been so unsuccessful that on Friday night, the Houthis were capable of taunting the Saudis by firing a ballistic missile at Riyadh airport. The Saudis are unlikely to risk a cross-Gulf offensive with the much more powerful Iranians. Especially when MBS is so busy with internal politics. But will Hezbollah respond in any way to the accusations?
    read more: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.821488

    Hezbollah – After fighting for over six years in Syria as Iran’s vanguard, Hezbollah can credit itself with some impressive victories and has accumulated major experience – both in the use of advanced weaponry, and in the command and control of military formations as large as brigade-size units. But they have lost at least 800 men in the fighting and thousands more have been wounded – totalling about one-quarter of Hezbollah’s original force at the start of the war. Thousands of new conscripts have been trained and sent to Syria but while this has widened the ranks, it has also fed resentment back home in Lebanon where many, including some within the Shi’a community, feel that Hezbollah has long ago ceased to serve as a Lebanese “resistance” force and is now holding the country hostage, in the service of Iran.
                                                    Militarily, Hezbollah is in no condition to launch an attack on Israel. It is still fighting in a number of locations in Syria and has to rebuild its units before embarking on a new war
    read more: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.821488

    The public sector grew during Mr. Carter's term (up 1,304,000), during Mr. Reagan's terms (up 1,414,000), during Mr. G.H.W. Bush's term (up 1,127,000), during Mr. Clinton's terms (up 1,934,000), and during Mr. G.W. Bush's terms (up 1,744,000 jobs).  However the public sector declined significantly while Mr. Obama was in office (down 268,000 jobs).

    the proximate cause behind the rise of the Islamic State, al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam and numerous other Sunni Arab militant groups in Syria and Iraq has been the Obama Administration’s policy of intervention through proxies in Syria.







    In her OpEd, Foroohar explains how the big banks have become unmoored from their core purpose. She writes:
    “In the 1970s, most of their financial flows, which of course come directly from our savings, would have been funneled into new business investment. Today, only about 15 percent of the money coming out of the largest financial institutions goes to that purpose. The rest exists in a closed loop of trading; institutions facilitate and engage in the buying and selling of stocks, bonds, real estate and other assets that mainly enriches the 20 percent of the population that owns 80 percent of that asset base. This doesn’t help growth, but it does fuel the wealth gap.”

    Bank credit growth continues to decelerate, to where historically, after revisions, the economy would already be in recession. Housing and vehicles look like they are already reporting negative growth, and personal income growth has decelerated to about 0% growth, with personal spending holding positive only because people are dipping into savings, which historically has always been followed by a reduction in spending

    Glenn Greenwald explains how the president's actions have shaped partisan behavior and public opinion:
    By blocking any form of criminal and civil accountability for these acts, President Obama has transformed what were once universally unspeakable and taboo beliefs into little more than respectable, garden-variety political disagreements. The president's nomination on Monday of John O. Brennan, a Bush-era C.I.A. official, to head the C.I.A. illustrates how complete this disturbing process now is. In late 2008, when Brennan was rumored to be Obama's leading choice as C.I.A. director, a major controversy erupted because of Brennan's overt support for Bush's programs of rendition and torture... Yet just a little over four years later, Obama obviously believes that Brennan's involvement in and/or support for these programs is no bar to his confirmation as C.I.A. director.

    That's because, following Obama's lead, the country has decided to ignore the fact that it committed grievous crimes as part of the "War on Terror." Obama's Orwellian decree that we must "look forward, not backward" has convinced huge numbers of citizens to sweep this all under the rug and pretend it never happened. That is what explains how Brennan went from radioactive and unconfirmable in 2008 to uncontroversial in 2013.

    "By putting Brennan in direct control of the CIA's policy [of targeted killings], the president has placed this mediating legal presence in direct control of the positions that the CIA will adopt and advance, so as to bring the CIA much more closely under direct presidential and democratic control," Emmerson told Wired

    However, critics have noted that previously he defended the use of brutal interrogation techniques — including in a CBS interview in 2007 in which he said they had "saved lives" — and accuse him of shifting with political winds.

    Report: Brennan drafted apology to senators for CIA hacking

    CIA rendition: more than a quarter of countries 'offered covert support'
    Report finds at least 54 countries co-operated with global kidnap, detention and torture operation mounted after 9/11 attacks

    Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union" alongside former CIA Director John Brennan, Clapper said: "The threat posed by Russia, as John just said, is manifest and obvious. To try to paint it in any other way is, I think, astounding, and in fact, poses a peril to this country."

    Clapper said, “It’s very clear that the Russians interfered in the election, and it’s still puzzling as to why Mr. Trump does not acknowledge that and embrace it and also push hard against Mr. Putin.”

    “I don’t know why the ambiguity about this,” Brennan said. “Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our whole process. And to try paint it in any other way is, I think, astounding, and, in fact, poses a peril to this country.”

    “By not confronting the issue directly and not acknowledging to Putin that we know you’re responsible for this, I think he’s giving Putin a pass,” former CIA director John Brennan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint.”

    When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. There always playing politics - bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!

    On the ICA--In a methodological annex to the report, the authors acknowledged that they had no facts to back up their conclusions:

    "Estimative language consists of two elements: judgments about the likelihood of developments or events occurring and levels of confidence in the sources and analytic reasoning supporting the judgments.  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..."

    The authors of the assessment claimed that there was much more evidence in the classified version of the report, but that intelligence had to be withheld from the public. 
    Last month, at the behest of President Trump, CIA Director Mike Pompeo met with a former NSA official, William Binney, who had conducted his own investigation of the allegations that Russian hackers had obtained Democratic National Committee emails, showing a systematic campaign by the DNC to secure Hillary Clinton the nomination over Senator Bernie Sanders.  Binney concluded that the emails had been obtained by someone working at the DNC headquarters and were "leaked, not hacked."  Now, former acting DNC Chair Donna Brazile has come out with a detailed, fact-filled book-length account, confirming that Hillary had, indeed, rigged the primary outcome to secure the nomination by buying off the DNC in 2015