Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Today's Links

1--Buzzfeed editor defends baseless idea that Russia meddled in elections--I’m Proud We Published the Trump-Russia Dossier

Since we published, the public has learned a great deal more about how seriously the F.B.I. took the dossier. The F.B.I., CNN reported, used the dossier to justify its effort to spy on an American citizen, and reimbursed Mr. Steele for some of his expenses. The BBC reported that the dossier was a “road map” to the F.B.I. investigation. Fox News recently reported that a top Department of Justice official met with Mr. Steele during the 2016 campaign. And on Tuesday, the public was given a glimpse, in the release of secret testimony, into the fierce battle between Senate Democrats and Republicans over the dossier and how the F.B.I. made use of it during the 2016 campaign....

“Are we in the midst of a major criminal investigation against the president of the United States as a result of this dodgy dossier?” asked Tom Fitton, a Trump ally, on “Fox & Friends” recently.
While Mr. Trump’s camp dismiss the dossier as malicious fiction or pure political opportunism, some elements have been corroborated. For example, that the Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort hid payments for his work in Ukraine, as federal authorities have alleged; that the Russian diplomat Mikhail Kalugin was withdrawn suddenly from the United States; and that Mr. Trump sought, but never consummated, business deals in Russia...

Mr. Steele also reported, in pages submitted just 11 days after a Russian lawyer reportedly promised Mr. Trump’s aides negative information on Hillary Clinton during a meeting in Trump Tower, that “the Kremlin had been feeding Trump and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“One large portion of the dossier is crystal-clear, certain, consistent and corroborated,” a C.I.A. veteran, John Sipher, wrote recently. “Russia’s goal all along has been to do damage to America and our leadership role in the world.”

2--Catherine Deneuve joined more than 100 other Frenchwomen in entertainment, publishing and academic fields Tuesday in the pages of the newspaper Le Monde and on its website in arguing that the two movements, in which women and men have used social media as a forum to describe sexual misconduct, have gone too far by publicly prosecuting private experiences and have created a totalitarian climate.

“Rape is a crime. But insistent or clumsy flirting is not a crime, nor is gallantry a chauvinist aggression,” the letter, dated Monday, begins. “As a result of the Weinstein affair, there has been a legitimate realization of the sexual violence women experience, particularly in the workplace, where some men abuse their power. It was necessary. But now this liberation of speech has been turned on its head.”
They contend that the #MeToo movement has led to a campaign of public accusations that have placed undeserving people in the same category as sex offenders without giving them a chance to defend themselves. “This expedited justice already has its victims, men prevented from practicing their profession as punishment, forced to resign, etc., while the only thing they did wrong was touching a knee, trying to steal a kiss, or speaking about ‘intimate’ things at a work dinner, or sending messages with sexual connotations to a woman whose feelings were not mutual,” they write. The letter, written in French was translated here by The New York Times...

They write that “a woman can, in the same day, lead a professional team and enjoy being the sexual object of a man, without being a ‘promiscuous woman,’ nor a vile accomplice of patriarchy.”

3--All part of a smear campaign? Fusion admits deliberate leaks to media to tarnish Trump

The Gateway Pundit reports that during the closed door, Congressional testimony, Simpson admitted he colluded with the liberal mainstream media.
Question: Does part of Fusion GPS’s business involve attempting to have media outlets publish articles that further the interests of your clients?
Fusion GPS: Yeah, you could — I mean, generally speaking, we are — genereally we tend to respond to inquiries more than try to push things, but, you know, we work with the press frequently.
Question: And has Fusion GPS ever provided information to journalists in order to encourage them to publish articles or air stories that further your client’s interests?
Fusion GPS: Yes.

4--Syria--Drones attack Russian base--Whodunnit?

The recent drone attack on the Russian base Khmeimim in Latakia is just one example. Thirteen sophisticated armed drones with a reach of some 100 kilometers attacked the base at the same time as a U.S. electronic warfare plane was circling off the Syrian coast. The attack was unsuccessful. Russia has sophisticated electronic warfare means and hijacked the command over six of the drone. The other seven were taken down by Russian air defenses.

To claim, as the U.S. does, that ISIS or some "rebels" did this is nonsense. ISIS has made short range weaponized drones flown by remote control in line of sight mode. This attack was by autonomous drones using GPS and barometric sensors to find their way to their targets. This is qualitatively on a whole new level. I doubt that Russia will let this go unanswered. Look out for some "mishap" that may soon hit some U.S. troops or interests abroad.

Mr. Trump’s top national security aides are united behind a plan to decertify the deal, but leave it in place, with a goal of revising its terms. But in pursuing that course, the president will set off a volatile sequence of events that some warn could end up mortally wounding the agreement.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers will have to decide whether to reimpose punitive sanctions on Tehran, a move that would almost certainly scuttle the 2015 deal that was brokered by world powers. In European capitals, allies are showing signs of resisting pressure to join the United States in trying to renegotiate its terms.
“While the Trump administration is making a very fine distinction between a decertification that is a report to Congress rather than leaving the deal, I’m concerned that that distinction will be lost on our allies and adversaries,” said Senator Chris Coons, a senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee.

6--"The first player banned from the National Football League for his political views."--Colin Kaepernick and the Shame of Black America

Unless you have been hibernating during the Winter of Trump or hiding in a cave in the event of a Trump-induced nuclear holocaust, then you are probably aware that Colin Kaepernick is on his way to being the first player banned from the National Football League for his political views. The only thing worse than the racist right wing hegemony exhibited by the NFL owners is the indolent lap dog acceptance of this travesty by far too many black Americans

The facts are that the NFL has welcomed players who have killed people, raped women, beaten women, ingested all manner of recreational and performance enhancing drugs and paid them enormous sums of money. The facts are that NFL players have expressed their support for Donald Trump despite his history of racism, misogyny, sexual assault and xenophobia without consequence....

It is sad to see so little resistance from Black America when the NFL owners are acting in such obvious concert to silence black protest. It is sad to see such silence from the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Urban League and Black Lives matter. For that matter, what has happened to the voices of Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Hart, LeBron James and all the other black men and women who manage to dominate the American media for their own profit? In this age of virulent Trumpism, racism and degradation must be confronted all the time.

In our current climate, to be accused is to be convicted. Due process is nowhere to be found

These are scary times, for women as well as men. There is an inquisitorial whiff in the air, and my particular fear is that in true American fashion, all subtlety and reflection is being lost. Next we’ll be torching people for the content of their fantasies.

Sexual harassment and assault are emotive and very real issues. But portions of the American establishment have not taken up these questions because they suddenly feel deeply about abuse and injustice. They feel nothing about such matters. This is a coldly calculated political operation directed by the Democratic Party and its media orbit, including the Times.

It is one element of the reaction of the Democrats to their defeat in 2016. They hope to leverage this, the sexual misconduct/assault issue, into electoral and political success. At the same time, they want to muddy the waters and divert attention from the conditions of life for millions and the malignant social polarization.

This campaign falls into the same fraudulent category as the “fake news” censorship drive and the hysterical Russophobia that has gripped considerable layers of the upper-middle class.

People are being led by the nose—and many of them quite willingly—into supporting a campaign that will facilitate outright political repression. The present crusade has as much to do with sex as the anti-Russian campaign has to do with protecting American democracy

The Golden Globes ceremony stank of reaction and self-satisfaction. It was a celebration of inquisitions and unsubstantiated allegations. Increasingly, masses of working class people, female and male, struggling to keep their heads above water, will see through this.

11--CDC prepares for nuclear attack on jan 16-- Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation

what could go wrong?

Time’s Up is a self-indulgent campaign spurred on by the patronizing #MeToo movement that was largely fueled by finger wagging, the demonization of men, and the proud embracement of victimhood. ... The #MeToo movement devolved into an anti-male grievance fest, normalizing mob behavior and infantilization of accusers. There was no room for open discourse and dialogue....

The media often portrays this dogmatic fight for gender equality by throwing generic trauma-ridden words such as ‘brave’ and ‘courageous’ – often catering to the powerful elite, to create that emotional narrative and drive the message home. These ‘feminist’ movements (and I use the term ‘feminist’ loosely here) are not the first symbolic, patronizing gestures that we have seen coming from the liberal elite. They happen all the time. Hillary Clinton’s presidential platform was wholly dependent on identity politics while her political platform served more as an afterthought. Clinton garnered wide celebrity support, despite the many contradictions and hypocrisies that seeped out of her campaign. She fought for gender equality yet she used her own gender as a way to gain special treatment and votes exclusively from women. Her female supporters were quick to whip out the pitch forks whenever Clinton the Feminist Cheerleader was challenged

14--What Happens If Trump Trashes The Iran Nuclear Deal?

15--Iran: World must prepare for possible US withdrawal from JCPOA
t is not clear what will the US President Donald Trump's decision be January 12, when he must decide again whether to certify the Islamic Republic's compliance with the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka nuclear deal), as he is required to do every three months....

There are some speculations that the US president will refuse to suspend sanctions against Tehran in coming days, which is required under the JCPOA, Araqchi said, adding that the global community must be prepared to that possibility.

In October 2017, Trump declined to certify Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal, saying sanctions relief was disproportionate to Iran's concessions, adding the agreement goes against US interests.

Iran warned on Monday that if the US statesmen make a mistake about the nuclear agreement clinched with world powers, the Islamic Republic reaction will make them regret it.
Talking during his weekly address on Monday, spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry Bahram Qasemi said Tehran has long been predicting all the possible scenarios and different options are on the table of Iran and will quickly use the ones suiting the US decision.
“The announcement of US decision is due January 13, we don’t prejudge and will wait until then,” said Qasemi referring to US President’s decision whether to certify or not the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran nuclear deal.
“The JCPOA is an international deal. The US government is bound to exercise it according to the primary agreement. Their quitting the deal or any other illogical move will face a proper and strong one.”
“The outcome of these decisions is of importance both for us and for the Americans,” the Iranian official added.
Earlier on Saturday, US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson said Trump is due to decide on certifying Tehran’s compliance with the deal.
“The President said he is either going to fix it or cancel it. We are in the process of trying to deliver on the promise he made to fix it,” the top US diplomat told AP.

18--Whistleblowers who died mysteriously

19--The Defense Ministry noted that the design used by the militants could only be obtained from a technologically advanced country, and warned of the danger of such attacks in any country in the world.
20-- French artists rebuff #MeToo witch-hunt
We are letting the media be the dictator of the Western world. 
Public confessions, the incursion of self-appointed prosecutors into private lives—all of this sets up a climate like a totalitarian society.
creating a climate of intimidation, where freedom of speech “is today turning into its opposite.”
Importantly, it emphasizes the profoundly anti-democratic nature of the #MeToo movement and its total repudiation of due process and natural justice.
The campaign had led, in the press and social media, to “public denunciations and indictments of people who have been denied the right to reply or to defend the

21--Washington is planning 'concrete steps' toward providing a Syrian Democratic Forces-controlled area in northern Syria's eastern Euphrates area three times the size of Lebanon with diplomatic recognition, a leading Arabic international newspaper has reported.
The 28,000 square km territory, controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a collection of predominantly Kurdish militias including the YPG People's Protection Units, took its first step toward US recognition after US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis promised to send US diplomats to SDF-controlled areas to work alongside US troops operating in the region, the official said.
According to the official, US initiatives in the region include empowering local councils, backing reconstruction efforts, assisting in training of government agency workers, improving public services and infrastructure, protecting SDF areas and engaging in the upkeep of military bases, all of which will eventually lead to diplomatic recognition.
Last week, it was reported that a new 'North Syrian Army' which included SDF formations and backed by the US-led coalition, was being created to carry out 'border security duties' in territories under their control. Local media said that the militias would guard areas along the region's northern border with Turkey.

The US and its coalition allies are expected to provide the new force with technical assistance, weapons and training.
Kurdish forces have been in control over the de facto autonomous region commonly known as Rojava since 2013 amid the civil conflict in Syria. During the war against Daesh and other terrorist groups, Syrian Army units have mostly engaged in pragmatic cooperation with Kurdish forces. In September 2017, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Damascus would consider granting the Kurds greater autonomy once the war against the terrorists was over.
At the same time, Damascus has voiced its opposition to the US presence and operations on Syrian territory, including Rojava, saying that it does not accord with the principles of international law, including respect for Syria's territorial integrity. The Syrian government has insisted that US operations inside Syria are illegal, since they were never invited into the country by Damascus.

Come January 13, when Trump has another opportunity to cancel U.S. participation in the nuclear agreement, he will likely do so in the name of the Iranian people, the very ones who have taken to the streets because Trump and others like him are determined to make sure that the agreement ultimately doesn’t provide any real economic benefits to the Iranian people. His supporters on the Right are already giving him the ammunition to gun down the deal in this way.....
some European firms, such as the French energy firm Total, have dipped their toes into the Iranian market. And Boeing secured a major civilian airplane deal.
But opposition to economic engagement with Iran was strong in Washington, even during the Obama administration. In the wake of their defeat on the nuclear deal, hardliners in Congress were eager to apply new sanctions against Iran and reduce what little investment was flowing toward the country. Granted, it’s not easy to navigate the business environment inside Iran. But the United States didn’t make it any easier.

The Trump administration hasn’t been shy about voicing its opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. Even before the latest protests broke out, the administration was also exploring ways of killing the Boeing aircraft deal, as well as the Total investment. Suffice it to say, Trump is not interested in any kind of engagement with the Iranian government.
As soon as the protests broke out in Iran in December, Trump gleefully took to Twitter to support the people in the streets and castigate the Rouhani government. “The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime,” Trump tweeted. “All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets.’ The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching

President Donald Trump allowed the Iran nuclear deal to survive through 2017, but the new year will offer him another chance to blow up the agreement — and critics and supporters alike believe he may take it.
By mid-January, the president will face new legal deadlines to choose whether to slap U.S. sanctions back on Tehran. Senior lawmakers and some of Trump's top national security officials are trying to preserve the agreement. But the deal's backers fear Trump has grown more willing to reject the counsel of his foreign policy team, as he did with his recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The decision represents an opportunity for Trump to deliver on a campaign promise to rip up the Iran deal, one he has repeatedly deferred at the urging of senior officials.
When Trump last publicly addressed the status of the Iran agreement, in mid-October, he indicated his patience had worn thin with what he has called “the worst deal ever,” and demanded that Congress and European countries take action to address what he considers the deal’s weakness.
“[I]n the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated,” Trump said in an Oct. 13 speech.

24-- What Happens If Trump Trashes The Iran Nuclear Deal?

President Trump called the agreement “an embarrassment” and previously said it was one of the “worst deals” he’s ever seen. He begrudgingly recertified the agreement a few months ago, but has hinted that this time around he’ll pull the plug.
Trump’s case is problematic. He argues that Iran has violated the agreement, despite the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the official monitor of the nuclear accord, says Iran has complied. So do the other signatories to the deal, including U.S. allies.
In fact, The New York Times reported in July that Trump tasked his aides “to find a rationale for declaring that the country is violating the terms of the accord.” Trump is trying to find an excuse to scrap the deal, despite the lack of evidence of Iranian non-compliance.
More recently, Trump has pointed to Iran’s actions on missile testing and support for terrorism, which have nothing to do with the nuclear deal.

Nevertheless, Trump appears to have a preference for scrapping the deal and taking a hawkish line on Iran. But unilaterally blowing up the deal is incredibly dangerous, and the U.S. would almost certainly be on its own. The U.S.’ European allies would likely balk at trying to return to a state of confrontation with Iran. “We already have one potential nuclear crisis. We definitely (do) not need to go into a second one,” the EU’s High Representative for foreign affairs told reporters at the UN...

To what end? The problem for Trump is that he’s likely overestimating what the U.S. can do on its own. Sanctions on Iran worked because it involved global coordination, and included far-reaching steps to limit Iran’s ability to sell oil and use the international financial system to make oil sales. The result of that coordination was to significantly curtail Iranian oil exports—a move that severely damaged the economy and forced Iran to the table.
But, the U.S. likely would have serious trouble limiting Iranian oil exports on its own.
In short, the U.S. would forfeit some of the only ways to verifiably monitor Iran’s nuclear program, inflict damage on its already shaky relationship with key allies, sacrifice international goodwill and make conflict more likely—all for almost no upside. The end result: needless confrontation with Iran.

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