Thursday, May 16, 2019

Today's Links

Relax, everyone. The Flynn news is a distraction from the big news coming out of Italy today that the Italians flipped on Brennan and are giving up Mifsud. If any “outreaches” from Congress/WH constituted “obstruction”, it would have been in the Mueller report. Keep focused!  george papadopolous  


Remember the text messages between Strzok and Page on March 14th, 2016, where they are discussing “their guy now talking”? That was the same day I met Mifsud in Rome. Conspiracy is a hell of a charge. It’s coming down on a lot of these freaks.  George Papadopoulos


The Italian prime minister has suddenly requested resignations from 6 deputy directors of Italian intelligence agencies: DIS, AISI and AISE. This was all after I outed Mifsud in Rome and the president called the Italian prime minister. Italy has flipped and are giving up Brennan.  George Papadopoulos


I agree with everything in this superb article except “Azra Turk” clearly was not FBI. She was CIA and affiliated with Turkish intel. She could hardly speak English and was tasked to meet me about my work in the energy sector offshore Israel/Cyprus which Turkey was competing with.  George Papadopoulos

 The historical crisis of mankind, he declared, “is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership.”,




1---Felix Sater,  Henry Greenberg and George Papadopolos, by Larry Johnson

 Entrapment schemes date back to 2015

2--Hellstorm: The Documentary--war crimes against German survivors of WW2

3--The Problem with Globalization


Globalization is not what most people expected. We thought this rising tide would lift all boats, but it hasn't. So has globalization failed? According to research, globalization can be redirected to improve the lives of people all over the world. But it will require us to think differently.


4--A future imperfect: why globalisation went wrong | Adrian Wooldridge |(must see)

5--Coup Conspirators at Each Other’s Throats


Who pushed to include dossier in the briefing,...again, her first question: “Lost in this spat is that it ignores a bigger question. There were two outrageous aspects to that Jan. 2017 briefing. One is the subject of this dispute: Who pushed to include dossier in the briefing…?” And again, just to remind you, Comey tells Trump about the golden showers story in the dossier, ostensibly to warn Trump about the kind of smears that are out there and the reason you should be listening to the intelligence community.

The real reason that Comey did this was to be able to get the dossier out of the ashes and into the news. So Comey tells Trump, leaves the meeting, calls Clapper, says “mission accomplished.” Clapper calls CNN, they report on the dossier, and CNN ended up getting a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on this one, when all they did was answer a phone call from James Clapper, which had probably been set up in advance. Remember, Comey was interviewed by Bret Baier on the Fox News Channel, and Bret Baier asked a very good question:

Well, when you were telling Trump about the dossier and the golden showers story, why didn’t you tell him more? Why didn’t you tell Trump that was it Hillary Clinton opposition research? Why didn’t you tell Trump that it was bought and paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC? Why didn’t you tell Trump that none of it had been verified?” Comey’s answer to Bret Baier: “That wasn’t my mission. My mission was to only reveal that part of the dossier.”

6--Household debt hits $13.6 trillion as student loan and credit card delinquencies rise


7--Who pushed the dossier: Brennan or Comey?


8--Auto-Loan Delinquencies Spike to Q3 2009 Level, Despite Strongest Labor Market in Years

9--Stephen Harper globalization


10--Papadopoulos: Informant Who Tried To "Seduce" Me During 2016 Campaign Was CIA Not FBI


11--mark blyth global trumpism --revolt against the elites 

12--QE Retrospective--Kevin Walsh

The distributional effects of QE across households are significant. Despite all-time highsin stock prices and house prices,household net worth since 2007 is down for all income groups except for the top 10percent. Net worth for the top decile is up an average of 27percent. For the middle deciles, it’s down 2030percent in real terms. That does not ask or answer the question whether we should have done QE last time, whether we should do it next time,but I think it suggests that we shouldn’t hide from the dat...


First, how important are price signals?In my view, price signals are everything. Price signalsare precious. So when we decided to mute price signals, it better darn well be worth it. Andin the depths of the crisis, my judgment was it was worth it.And during the times of some-whatgreater peace and prosperity, I think hiding a price signal of the most important risk asset anywhere in the world, the 10-year Treasury bond, is a more tricky endeavor...


How durable is the Feds status and respon-sibilities? If we think that the Fed is a permanent feature of our government, then you’ve got nothing to really worry about. If they get some right, get some wrong,but no one woulddare take on the independence and credibility of the Fed.But,of course, American historytells us this is our third experiment with a central bank. Without going into detail,it’s our third because the first two didn’t work out so wel


Stephen Roach

It’s pretty clear that the GDP path over the last nine years plus of 2percent is about half the norm of earlier long cycles. And to dismiss that shortfall as being something outside the purview of monetary policy is, I think, something you can draw into question.The numbers I think are pretty clear that QE2 and 3 were disappointing both from at least the payback were disappointing, as it can be seen from both the quantity and the pricedimensions of the Fed’s monetary policy transmission mechanism. The evidence on quantity,do a back-of-the-envelope calculation yourself. From September of 2008 to November of 2014, the end of QE3, successive QE programs added $3.6 trillion to the Fed’s balance sheet.Over that same exact period,nominal GDP was up $2.9 trillion. So there was clearly a lot more QE injected into the system than was reflected in the real economy.


Looking at the evidence on the impact of QE on the price dimension of monetary policy, I’m left with the same conclusion insofar as estimating its impact on longer-term interest ratesnamely,the 10-year Treasury. A recent paper written by my former colleague Dave Greenlaw, James Hamilton, Ethan Harris, and Kenneth West looked very carefully at the impact of QE on 10-year Treasury yields through their events studies metric and raised serious questions about the link between QE and 10-year Treasury yields


The second lesson, I’ll be a little briefer here, is a lesson that deals with the addictive behaviorbetweeneconomic decision-making and balance sheet management by the Central Bank aimed at supporting asset markets. Two pieces of evidence here. One, the excess liquidity that I just cited, obviously I think spilled over and Desmond you were alluding to this into equity markets, has also provided valuation support to the bond market. And so to Kevin’s point, which is really important that I agree with, on price discovery, asset prices were shaped more by monetary authorities than by the fundamentals of the market.And the second piece of the addiction lesson is the impact that wealth effects haveon real economic activity postcrisis. Postcrisis American consumers, in particular, obliterated by the job losses and the recession,needed the wealth effects more than ever, and with the lifeline of support in this dark period then comes the very difficult pain of withdrawal. AndI think that’s been increasingly thecase for the real side of the USeconomy but also the case, and again that just underscoresthe point thatDesmond was making, for capital inflowsinto foreign economies, and especially the impact of those flows on QE distorted interest rates spreads. True at the taper tantrum of 2013, along with more current manifestations of that we’re seeing in Argentina and Brazil....


QE blurs the distinction between fiscal and monetary policy. And the mountingdebt burden of the United States government is of little consequence today in a zero interestrate environment. But make no mistake about it, the debt overhang is building hugely,and,as has been alluded to several times earlier today,we’ll be growing a good deal further in the years ahead because of these ill-timed, late-cycle fiscal stimulus actions.But over the course of the QE period, from 2008 to 2017, federal debt held by the public doubled from 39 to 76 percent. And so in a zero interest rate environment, big deal, no bigdeal, but when as rates start to normalize,itmaybe a bigger deal and America’s fiscal risks could then be unmatched. 


e to have a proactive central bank that is willing to move before a crisis hits and lean againstthe mounting excesses in asset markets? This debate over whether it’s a lien or clean, as they call it, continues to rage in policy and academic circles. And Chairman Bernanke andChairman Greenspan are cleaners, and they have been strongly in favor of this reactive approach in the case of Ben Bernanke as an academic before he even came to Washington.My fifth lesson, and this is the one where I have just as much respect as I have for Ben Bernanke, this is one where I’m seriously at odds with him and his predecessor intellectually,and that’s the distinction between short-term tactics and longer-term strategy. As the lenderof last resort, the Fed deserves great credit for stepping into the lurch and saving the financialsystem from catastrophic implosion in the depths of thecrisis. The problem, of course, andI say this with all due respect, is that the Fed in my view, under both Chairman Greenspanand Chairman Bernanke, played a role and not an inconsequential role in condoning the precrisis froth that took the system to the brink.And so this really poses a profound and deep strategic question. Do we want a reactive central bank that is focused on cleaning up the mess after a crisis unfolds,or is it preferabl     

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Today's links

In the states that decided 2016, voters weren’t just rejecting Hillary Clinton but the Bill Clinton-Barack Obama neoliberal/interventionist legacy she was a part of. If you’re looking for the next candidate to best represent that failed legacy, look no further than Joe Biden.  aaron mate


 "Moscow proposed 'to publish this exchange of messages between the agencies dealing with avoiding incidents in the cyberspace,' but the US administration refused to do that" marc ames



1---The Wrath Of Barr: The Real Story Behind The Russian Hoax


If Barr did not anticipate the possibility of criminal indictments or the need to subpoena former government officials – people like former FBI Director James Comey – he could have handed off the probe to Michael Horowitz, the DOJ’s inspector general

If there is any issue that cries out for a special counsel investigation, it is the evolution of the Trump-Russia collusion theory. Attorney General William Barr may well have decided that the nation does not need to go through such an ordeal again, but he did the next best thing by tapping John H. Durham to investigate what could well be the most nefarious political conspiracy in American history.

Durham is Connecticut’s top federal prosecutor, an attorney with a reputation for toughness and a resume that includes investigations into high-level government corruption cases. Reports suggest that he has been on the job for some weeks already, and that is an indication of how seriously the matter is being taken by the attorney general.

A History Of Investigating Government Officials

In 1999, Durham was appointed special prosecutor to investigate alleged ties among Boston police officers, federal agents, and organized crime figures, including James “Whitey” Bulger. As a result of Durham’s work, four men who had been imprisoned for murder years earlier had their sentences vacated because they had been framed by the FBI. One retired agent was sentenced to ten years in prison on racketeering charges. Another former agent who faced charges died before his trial.
In 2008, Durham was assigned to look into a major scandal involving the CIA’s destruction of graphic interrogation recordings, though the Department of Justice (DOJ) declined to bring charges in the case. The following year, Attorney General Eric Holder appointed Durham to examine the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” methods.

2--"Dirty cop" Mueller sent 4 innocent men to prison

Durham sent one agent involved to prison for 10 years.
Then-US Attorney, Robert Mueller is probably the one who should have landed in the pen. He allowed four innocent men to be sent to prison for a murder he knew they didn’t commit.  He did it to protect Bulger.
One of the four men was in Florida at the time of the murder and could not have committed the murder.
When Durham went through the documents. He found that the four men, Enrico TameleoJoseph SalvatiPeter J. Limone, and Louis Greco, had actually been framed.
Four people who were innocent were kept in jail for years in order to protect the status of Whitey Bulger as an FBI informant....

In December 2000, Durham revealed secret FBI documents that convinced a judge to vacate the 1968 murder convictions of ”four other FBI informants because they’d been framed by Robert Mueller’s FBI....

Robert Mueller was knee-deep in this scandal, along with Andrew Weissman and the agent sent to prison, but because Reno gave him very limited authority, Durham was not able to prosecute Mueller, who was not in the FBI at the time.

Mueller kept four innocent people in jail for years to protect the informant status of Whitey Bulger, a mass-murdering Boston mobster who ended up dying in California, and it ended up costing the government $100 million plus in civil judgments.

3--Hopeless in America:  U.S. Births Fell To A 32-Year Low In 2018; CDC Says Birthrate Is In Record Slump


The U.S. birthrate fell again in 2018, to 3,788,235 births — representing a 2% drop from 2017. It's the lowest number of births in 32 years, according to a new federal report. The numbers also sank the U.S. fertility rate to a record low.

Not since 1986 has the U.S. seen so few babies born. And it's an ongoing slump: 2018 was the fourth consecutive year of birth declines, according to the provisional birthrate report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Birthrates fell for nearly all racial and age groups, with only slight gains for women in their late 30s and early 40s, the CDC says.

4--US starving N Korea to force regime change


The UN Security Council’s sanctions resolutions against North Korea are intended to prevent the North from developing nuclear weapons and missiles, not to hold the North Korean populace hostage in the push for denuclearization


In September 2017, the South Korean government decided to provide US$8 million in humanitarian aid to North Korea through international organizations. These plans were even reviewed and approved by the government’s Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council. But during the year and nine months that have passed since then, the South hasn’t managed to send the North a single biscuit. The US$8 million allocation was scrapped when the time limit passed. That’s due to the US government’s overt hostility to humanitarian aid to North Korea and the South Korean government’s failed strategy.


US uses working group as tool to stymie or delay inter-Korean agreements The US has repeatedly blocked South Korean aid because it regards even humanitarian aid as leverage it can exploit to force North Korea to denuclearize. One of the major obstacles has been the South Korea-US working group. The South Korean government claims that the working group discusses a wide range of issues related to denuclearization and inter-Korean cooperation. But during my time as a reporter, sources have openly said that the US uses the working group as a tool to delay or stymie the implementation of inter-Korean agreements


5--A new stage in the US-China trade war


 (nation-states lead to ferocious competition and war)

The analysis of the summit presented by the World Socialist Web Site punctured these assertions. As its report noted, “inter-imperialist antagonisms were manifest through the summit” and would inevitably sharpen. “Far from having laid down a globally coordinated plan to rescue world capitalism,” the WSWS stated, “the London summit has only demonstrated the irreconcilable contradiction between the globally integrated economy and the capitalist nation-state system, and the impossibility of the rival national states adopting a genuinely international approach to the crisis.”

It is this fundamental and irresolvable contradiction, rooted in the very structure of the global capitalist economy, which has now erupted in the form of the trade war launched by the US against China.
In his analysis of the outbreak of World War I, Leon Trotsky explained that the contradiction between world economy and the nation-state system manifested itself in the striving of each of the capitalist great powers to transform itself into the dominant world power—resulting in a military conflict of each against all....

throughout the 1990s and into the new century, the economic decline of the US continued apace, characterised by the increasing dependence of its economy on financial parasitism and speculation in place of the dominant industrial position it had held in the immediate post-war period—a process that led to the financial meltdown of 2008.
Losing its relative economic hegemony, the US has increasingly resorted to military means to maintain its global dominance, leading to the continual wars of the past quarter-century and more.
Herein lies the source of the deepening conflict with China. While it takes the form of a clash over trade, its roots go much deeper. With its position vis-à-visits old rivals already weakened, the US is not prepared to allow the rise of a new one. This is why its demands on Beijing go far beyond the rebalancing of trade. They are directed at preventing the economic advancement of China, above all in the areas of high-tech and industrial development, which the US regards as an existential threat to its economic and military position.

This is not simply the position of Trump and the anti-China hawks gathered in his administration. It is the position of the entire US intelligence and military apparatus as well as key sections of the corporate and political establishment, as evidenced by the strident call by the Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer for Trump to continue to “hang tough” against China and the support for his measures by so-called “lefts” within the Democratic Party such as Bernie Sanders.
The only economic role the US is prepared to accept for China is one in which it functions as a de facto semi-colony of the US.

The profound significance of the US-China trade war can be grasped only if it viewed within its wider political context. It is not some passing spat. Just as the economic measures of the 1930s are being revived, so all the political phenomena of that barbarous decade are once again rising to the surface.

6-- 62% Of Millennials Are Living Paycheck To Paycheck, Says Stud


 7--No to war against Iran!


It is hardly coincidental that Washington is simultaneously threatening military intervention in both Iran and Venezuela. The first country holds the second-largest oil reserves in the Middle East, while the second boasts the largest proven reserves in the world. In an attempt to offset the ongoing decline in its world economic position, US imperialism aims to assert its undisputed grip over the world’s energy reserves. This would empower it to ration—or cut off altogether—supplies to its rivals, in the first instance China, but also Europe. Such ambitions point the way to a third world war.

8--Dispute erupts over whether Brennan, Comey pushed Steele dossier, as DOJ probe into misconduct begins

Sources familiar with the records told Fox News that a late-2016 email chain indicated FBI Director James Comey told bureau subordinates that then-CIA Director John Brennan insisted the dossier be included in the intelligence community assessment on Russian interference, known as the ICA.
Fox News was told that the email chain – not yet public -- referred to the dossier as "crown material," but it was not clear why this apparent code was used. On Tuesday night, former GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy said on Fox News' "The Story with Martha MacCallum" that "Comey has a better argument than Brennan, based on what I've seen."

"Former Director Brennan, along with former [Director of National Intelligence] James Clapper, are the ones who opposed James Comey’s recommendation that the Steele Dossier be included in the intelligence report," the official said.

They opposed this because the dossier was in no way used to develop the ICA," the official continued. "The intelligence analysts didn't include it when they were doing their work because it wasn't corroborated intelligence, therefore it wasn't used and it wasn't included. Brennan and Clapper prevented it from being added into the official assessment. James Comey then decided on his own to brief Trump about the document."

n March, Republican Sen. Rand Paul leveled similar allegations on Twitter, citing a "high-level source" who said Brennan had "insisted that the unverified and fake Steele dossier" be included in the January 2017 ICA.

Whether the FBI acted appropriately in obtaining the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to Trump campaign aide Carter Page is now the subject not only of U.S. Attorney John Durham's new probe, but also the ongoing review by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz. U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber has been conducting his own investigation separately, although details of his progress were unclear.

9--Not interested!  Attacks on Russian Internet resources come primarily from US, says LavrovSociety & Culture

May 14, 21:40 UTC+3
The Russian minister said Moscow proposed "to publish this exchange of messages between the agencies dealing with avoiding incidents in the cyberspace," but the US administration refused to do that

OCHI, May 14. /TASS/. The majority of the attacks targeting Russian Internet resources originate from the US territory, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday.

"We have repeatedly suggested revving contacts on cybersecurity issues, which would set up a framework for us to discuss any concerns," the Minister pointed out. "Attacks on our Internet resources, the majority of them, come from the US. Therefore, we have something to discuss."

"Since 2013, we have had an information sharing channel on the possible, undeliberate risks arising in the cyberspace. And from October 2016, when the US democratic administration raised this issue for the first time, to January 2017 until the inauguration of [US President] Donald Trump we have traffic of questions and answers flowing via this channel," Lavrov stressed. "Not so long ago, when the attacks on Russia relating to the alleged interference in the election reached its climax, we proposed to publish this exchange of messages between the agencies dealing with avoiding incidents in the cyberspace." According to the Minister, the US administration refused to do that.

"I do not know who made this decision, but the publication of materials was blocked by the US side. Although we believe that making this information public would erase a great part of the insinuations that are being spread right now," he added. Lavrov also stressed that the Russian side will not unilaterally publish these exchanges.

"I confirm that we want and are willing to address the issues arising in the cyberspace with our US partners professionally, without any emotions or politicization, ideologization, without attempts to make this topic the main issue in the domestic political struggle in the US," Lavrov said.


OCHI, May 14. /TASS/. The majority of the attacks targeting Russian Internet resources originate from the US territory, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday.
"We have repeatedly suggested revving contacts on cybersecurity issues, which would set up a framework for us to discuss any concerns," the Minister pointed out. "Attacks on our Internet resources, the majority of them, come from the US. Therefore, we have something to discuss."
"Since 2013, we have had an information sharing channel on the possible, undeliberate risks arising in the cyberspace. And from October 2016, when the US democratic administration raised this issue for the first time, to January 2017 until the inauguration of [US President] Donald Trump we have traffic of questions and answers flowing via this channel," Lavrov stressed. "Not so long ago, when the attacks on Russia relating to the alleged interference in the election reached its climax, we proposed to publish this exchange of messages between the agencies dealing with avoiding incidents in the cyberspace." According to the Minister, the US administration refused to do that.
"I do not know who made this decision, but the publication of materials was blocked by the US side. Although we believe that making this information public would erase a great part of the insinuations that are being spread right now," he added. Lavrov also stressed that the Russian side will not unilaterally publish these exchanges.
"I confirm that we want and are willing to address the issues arising in the cyberspace with our US partners professionally, without any emotions or politicization, ideologization, without attempts to make this topic the main issue in the domestic political struggle in the US," Lavrov said.


 NOTES and Links

bill barr there may have been unauthorised surveillance and political surveillance 

why the country's most sensitive intelligence tools were turned on its own citizens
get memos between comey and brennan

the FBI deliberately withheld exculpatory evidenvce in the the FISA application The FBI made noo effort to corroborate the dosssier so whoever is invetigating this, tell them to look at emails bewteen brennan and comey in december 2016
yemen hits oil pipeline 

FISA fraud
bruce ohr warned the FBI before the Fisa request
deliberately conspired to defraud the court

Monday, May 13, 2019

Today's Links

1---Assad must go, says envoy

Jeffrey said the U.S. will continue to pressure the Syrian government through economic sanctions and halt any normalization with Arab states until a “new political government is formed.” 
The U.S. official’s comments come just two months after Lebanon and Iraq attempted to restore Syria’s membership to the Arab League.

2--TurkStream on schedule as it nears completion

The TurkStream project consists of two lines across the Black Sea, the first of which will serve Turkey with a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters, while the second line is planned to serve Europe. The second line is expected to go from Turkey through Bulgaria, then to Serbia, Hungary and Slovakia. Each pipeline is 930 kilometers in length, laid at depths reaching 2,200 meters.

The project is the biggest-diameter offshore gas pipeline in the world laid at such depths. The world's largest construction vessel, the Allseas-owned Pioneering Spirit, completed the deep-sea pipe lying. On the occasion of completing the sea part of the project, a ceremony in Istanbul was held in mid-November with the participation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian president had previously said that the TurkStream gas pipeline is set to become fully operational by the end of 2019

3--Russiagate Zealotry Continues To Endanger Western National Security


Now in its third year, Russiagate is the worst, most corrosive, and most fraudulent political scandal in modern American history. It rests on two related core allegations: that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an “attack on American democracy” during the 2016 presidential campaign in order to put Donald Trump in the White House, and that Trump and his associates willfully colluded, or conspired, in this Kremlin “attack.” As I have argued from the outset—and as recently confirmed, explicitly and tacitly, by special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s report, there is no factual evidence for either allegation.


Nonetheless, these Russiagate allegations, not “Putin’s Russia,” continue to inflict grave damage on fundamental institutions of American democracy. They impugn the integrity of the presidency and now the office of the attorney general. They degrade the many Democratic members of Congress who persist in clinging to the allegations and thus the Democratic Party and Congress. And they have enticed mainstream media into one of the worst episodes of journalistic malpractice in modern times.
But equally alarming, Russiagate continues to endanger American national security by depriving a US president, for the first time in the nuclear age, of the diplomatic flexibility to deal with a Kremlin leader in times of crisis....

Russiagate’s unproven allegations are an aggressive malignancy spreading through America’s politics to the most vital areas of national security policy. A full nonpartisan investigation into their origins is urgently needed, but US intelligence agencies were almost certainly present at their creation, which is why I have long argued that Russiagate is actually Intelgate. If so, James Comey, then FBI director, was present at the creation, though initially in a lesser role than were President Barack Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan and intelligence overlord James Clapper.

Comey recently deplored Attorney General William Barr’s declaration that US intelligence agencies resorted to “spying” on the Trump campaign. (In fact, Barr mischaracterized what happened: The agencies, first and foremost Brennan’s CIA, it seems, ran an entrapment operation against members of the campaign.) Comey warned Barr that he will discover that Trump “has eaten your soul.”

It would be more accurate to say—and certainly more important—that baseless Russiagate allegations are eating America’s national security.

4--Farage takes the lead

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has jumped to a double-digit lead over its closest rival, Labour, in the upcoming European election, and has three times the support of the Conservatives, who continue to lose ground, a poll has found.
With the EU Parliament election, set for May 23, inching closer, Farage’s anti-EU party has taken pole position, leading with 34 percent thanks to a six-point increase in voter support from two weeks ago, a new Opinium poll commissioned by the Observer has revealed.

In an op-ed published by the Observer on Saturday, former Labour PM Tony Blair urged Remainers to unite and stop Farage at any cost. “Farage cannot be allowed to dictate Britain’s future. He must be thwarted,” its headline says. Any party is better than the Brexit Party, Blair pleadingly write...

Meanwhile, pressure is mounting for May to step down following a calamitous performance in the local election, the worst for Tories since 1995. May vowed to step down as the party’s leader if her Brexit deal is passed by Parliament. Although that has not happened yet, she was called to clarify her resignation date in a meeting with backbench MPs next week.

5--Unpublished OPCW Report' Implies 'Chemical Attack' in Syria's Douma Was Staged


It seemed obvious from the very first claims of the 'gas attack' that it did not happen at all. The Syrian government had no motive to use any chemical weapon or an irritant like chlorine in Douma. It had already won the battle. The incident was obviously staged, like others before it, to drag the U.S. into a new attack on Syria.


6--Russiagate: Law in the Service of Partisan Politics


Russiagate has always been a political narrative masquerading as a federal investigation. Its objective, plain and simple, has been twofold: first, to hamstring Donald Trump’s capacity to press the agenda on which he ran (immigration enforcement, conservative judicial nominees, deregulation, and a military build-up, along with skepticism about military interventions, free trade, and NATO); and ultimately, to render him unelectable come autumn 2020....


The real work in the here and now is hardball politics: Hem Trump in. Politicize the intelligence and law-enforcement apparatus. Signal to the public through intelligence leaks and suggestive official public statements that the president was suspected of conspiring with the Kremlin. Convince Trump that using the presidency’s arsenal to fight back would just bolster the obstruction case against him. Sic a special counsel on him if he lashed out anyway. Use the investigation as a rationale for slow-walking Trump nominees and for refusing to deal with him on such critical issues as border enforcement. Drive his numbers down.

It’s working

In September 2017, five months after Robert Mueller took over the Russia investigation, the Justice Department stopped seeking surveillance warrants — i.e., it decided to stop peddling the Steele dossier to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. That means the government no longer stood behind the Clinton-campaign-sponsored opposition-research screed, which alleged — based on anonymous Russian sources — that there was a Trump–Putin conspiracy to undermine the election.
In the months that followed, Mueller returned several indictments. His charges against two sets of Russians indicated that the Kremlin sought no collaboration with Americans; his charges against Trump associates had no connection to Russia.

Notwithstanding the absence of proof, though, the collusion investigation continued for over a year, until late March 2019. Is it any wonder, then, that over 40 percent of Americans continue to believe the Trump campaign was in cahoots with Moscow — even after the announcement that Mueller concluded there was no Trump–Russia conspiracy?

This is an exquisitely planned political campaign....

Access to sensitive law-enforcement information and classified intelligence is a trust. It is extended with the understanding that it won’t be politicized or used to smear people.
Abuse of this privilege mirrors the most objectionable aspect of the Mueller investigation: The abuse of the criminal-justice process — converting it into a political weapon to smear a person the government has not charged with crimes....

I don’t want the criminal-justice system to be the prism through which we conduct politics. But if you insist on evaluating the president’s conduct as a criminal-justice issue rather than a political impeachment issue, then he is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

This grandstanding has nothing to do with the law. The point has never been to make a prosecutable legal case against the president. Nor is it to pursue impeachment, though there will be plenty of talk about impeachment. The point is to place the tools of the criminal-justice process in the service of the Democrats’ 2020 political campaign.

The Russia counterintelligence probe, based on the fraudulent projection of a Trump-Putin conspiracy, was always a pretext to conduct a criminal investigation despite the absence of a predicate crime. The criminal investigation, in turn, was always a pretext for congressional impeachment chatter. And the congressional impeachment chatter is a pretext for the real agenda: Making Trump an ineffective president now, and an un-reelectable president 18 months from now.

They try to make it look like law. It has always been politics

7--It would be easier to impeach than get an obstruction conviction

To commit a crime, Trump had to violate a provision of the U.S. Code that applied to him. There are many obstruction of justice statutes. Generalizing a bit, they make it a crime for “whoever” commits an obstructive act, with a nexus to an official proceeding, and with a corrupt intent. One might think that “whoever” includes Trump. But two high hurdles must be overcome before reaching that conclusion. First is the constitutionally based clear statement rule that determines whether the obstruction statutes, despite their broad general language, actually apply to the president. And second, if the statutes are properly read to apply the president, one must do constitutional “balancing” to determine if Congress has the power to so burden the president.

8--Medicare-for-All made affordable , Dean Baker

9--Pamela Anderson and WikiLeaks editor-in-chief visit Julian Assange in prison


A poll conducted this week by America’s MSNBC asking, “Should Julian Assange be prosecuted for his involvement with WikiLeaks?” found 95 percent of respondents answering “No, he is a whistleblower and deserves protection.”

In Australia, a 60 Minutes poll published on April 28, found 85 percent opposed his extradition to the United States, favouring calls to bring him home. A petition calling on the Australian government to defend Assange has attained more than 136,000 signatures

10--American democracy is disintegrating

Since the Democrats took control of the House in January, the administration has declined to comply with subpoenas for documents and witnesses on a wide range of subjects, from its policy decisions on immigration to Trump’s tax returns. In effect, the White House is refusing to recognize the outcome of the November 2018 election, which gave the Democrats a majority in the House of Representatives and the constitutionally mandated power to investigate the executive.

Even more ominous is Trump’s February executive order declaring a state of emergency on the US-Mexico border and authorizing the Pentagon to shift funds from the military to the building of a border wall, in direct defiance of the “power of the purse,” which the Constitution reserves to the legislative branch of government, not the executive....

American democracy is disintegrating. A criminal president, seeking to whip up a fascistic base of support, confronts a feckless opposition, which, in the event of a full-scale breakdown, would appeal to the military to intervene and “save” the constitutional order.

Even in the highly unlikely event that Trump were to be removed constitutionally, by means of impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate, the result would be an administration headed by the no less reactionary vice president, Mike Pence. If the Democrats spearheaded such a transition, it would be based on a more belligerent foreign policy, in particular against Russia, and would change nothing in terms of the distribution of wealth or the fate of the democratic rights of the population.

11--A Big Nothingburger

There were nearly 200 pages of irrelevancies about Russia collusion, but it couldn’t disguise the fact that all of those alleged contacts between the Russians and the Trump campaign amounted to nothing, legally or substantively. And the fact remains that the institutional climate in the Justice Department has been so hostile to the president that we can be certain that, if there had been even a scintilla of evidence supporting a criminal indictment, it would have been pursued...

What is missing from the Mueller report is an honest discussion about the origins of the unverified hearsay in the “Steele dossier” that formed the underpinning of the unprecedented spying effort against Trump and his campaign. But looking ahead, the Steele dossier, its genesis and the actions of members of the Obama administration who exploited it to target the Trump campaign, are very much in the crosshairs. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's investigation of the abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process will soon conclude, and may result in criminal referrals. Attorney General Barr also promises an even broader investigation of "Spygate" abuses.



Sunday, May 12, 2019

Today's links

Why are innocent foreign citizens be targeted for death and economic suffering simply because U.S. officials don’t like their government? Why are American citizens have their freedoms destroyed for the same reason? And why are foreign citizens around the world be targeted with criminal prosecution for violating the federal government’s evil system of sanctions? jacob nornberger

For those keeping track, we've gone from "there was no spying," to "the FBI used an informant on the Trump campaign, just don't call him a spy," to "ok there were multiple informants - still not spying." And so while former Obama-era officials have scrambled to perform damage control ahead of negative potential outcomes, Attorney General William Barr, James Clapper, and the CIA's former chief of counterintelligence (among others) have concluded that the Obama admin absolutely spied on Donald Trump and his campaign

1--QE slowing everywhere; When Central Banks stop buying assets, what happens?

 Do the Democrats owe the American people an apology for leading them on a Russia-Trump goose-chase for the last two and a half years? 

These massive purchases of Japanese government securities, and to a lesser extent, the purchases of corporate bonds, equity ETFs, and Japan REITS, have created this enormous balance sheet, but note the flattening spot at the top, a result of the stealth taper...

regardless what the BOJ claims about its program of adding ¥85 trillion in assets a year, it has trimmed its net additions down to a rate of about ¥20 trillion a year over the past six months – less than a quarter of the announced QE program, and the lowest since Abenomics kicked in.

The BOJ’s stealth taper lags what the other major QE-meisters, the ECB and the Fed, are doing.
The ECB’s balance sheet, at a gigantic €4.68 trillion ($5.3 trillion), is in dollar terms at current exchange rates, the fattest in the word. It amounts to 40.3% of Eurozone GDP. But it has been essentially flat for the past five months, as the ECB has followed through on its promise to stop QE in December...

And the Fed’s balance sheet has been shrinking since October 2017 and is now down to $3.89 trillion, or 18.5% of GDP, compared to the ECB’s $5.3 trillion (40.3% of GDP) and BOJ’s $5.1 trillion (102.2% of GDP)

The Fed shed $46 trillion in assets in April, as its total QE unwind reaches $580 trillion. Assets drop to lowest level since November 2013.

2-- The greatest threat to American national securityis John Bolton, not Iran  Scott Ritter

By purposefully escalating tensions with Iran using manufactured intelligence about an all too real threat, Bolton is setting the country up for a war it is not prepared to fight and most likely cannot win. This point is driven home by the fact that Mike Pompeo has been recalled from his trip to participate in a National Security Council meeting where the Pentagon will lay out in stark detail the realities of a military conflict with Iran, including the high costs. (Hopefully, they’ll emphasize that Iran would win such a war simply by not losing—all they’d have to do is ride out any American attack.)

That Israel is behind the scenes supplying the intelligence and motivation makes Bolton’s actions even more questionable. It shows that it is John Bolton, not Iran, who poses the greatest threat to American national security today.

3--Cuba launches widespread rationing amid economic crisis

Chicken, eggs, rice, beans, soap and other items to be sold in limited quantities as the US tightens trade embargo.

4--Farage Rising---Poll surge for Brexit party sparks panic among Tories and Labour 

Support for the Conservatives at the European elections slumps to 11%, less than a third of what the Farage’s party is polling

Senior Tory and Labour politicians have issued frantic calls to their voters to back them in next week’s European elections after a new poll showed support for Nigel Farage’s Brexit party had soared to a level higher than for the two main parties put together.

The Opinium survey for the Observer places the Brexit party on 34%, when people were asked how they intended to vote on 23 May, with Labour slipping to 21% and the Conservatives collapsing to just 11%. Ominously for Theresa May, support for the Tories at the European elections is now less than a third of that for Farage’s party, and below that for the Liberal Democrats, who are on 12%.

The poll suggests the Brexit party, launched only last month, is now on course for a thumping victory that Farage will, MPs fear, use to back his argument that the UK must leave the EU immediately without a deal

5--Dems continue endless Trump probe

Democratic lawmakers have vowed to further investigate Trump on matters related to collusion, among other things. But the Trump administration has been resistant to these efforts.

Attorney General William Barr last week failed to comply with a congressional subpoena for Mueller's full, unredacted report and underlying documents. The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), responded by voting to hold Barr in contempt.

6--Turkey calls on Syrian regime, Russia to return to Astana deal in Idlib


Turkey looks to control DMZ in Idlib


7--Mediterranean gas and Turkey-EU ties


the discovery of the third-largest natural gas resources off the southern coast of Cyprus by ExxonMobil and the creation of a regional energy forum in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

There is an obvious risk now that there will be several actors competing to exploit these new resources that will directly affect Turkey since the competition over exploitation may create new regional conflicts.

Let me point out that Turkey's hand concerning energy is quite strong: Turkey is a key player in the TurkStream project with Russia, the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline Project (TANAP) with Azerbaijan and the eastern Anatolia gas transmissions line with Iran. Turkey also wants to be a hub for energy in European markets.

However, Turkey is an importer of energy not an exporter, and the demand for energy is increasing. Thus, Turkey wants to diversify its energy sources. Its gas comes 50 percent from Russia and around 20 percent form Iran. Thus, Ankara is looking for new sources. This need is also an advantage for the U.S. since Washington doesn't want Ankara to be too dependent on Russia for energy.

8--Top Lawyer For Obama-Era FBI 'Nervous' About DOJ Inspector General Investigation

For those keeping track, we've gone from "there was no spying," to "the FBI used an informant on the Trump campaign, just don't call him a spy," to "ok there were multiple informants - still not spying."
And so while former Obama-era officials have scrambled to perform damage control ahead of negative potential outcomes, Attorney General William Barr, James Clapper, and the CIA's former chief of counterintelligence (among others) have concluded that the Obama admin absolutely spied on Donald Trump and his campaign.

Baker added that during the chaotic 2016 election, the FBI was "trying to do it in real time and having the pressure to deal with these threats as they were coming," while dealing with the backdrop of alleged Russian hacking of Democratic emails.

He also stuck with the official story as to what predicated the FBI's counterintelligence operation on the Trump campaign, dubbed "Crossfire Hurricane" -- On May 10, 2016 Trump adviser George Papadopoulos told Clinton ally and Australian diplomat, Alexander Downer, that Russia had 'dirt' on Hillary Clinton. Downer told Aussie intel, which told the FBI, which launched Operation Crossfire Hurricane.

Nowhere did Baker mention Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor and self-professed member of the Clinton Foundation who is the genesis of the Russian 'dirt' rumor - planted it with Papadopoulos several weeks after returning from a trip to Moscow.

While the Mueller report paints Mifsud as a Russian agent, evidence points to him being in league with Western intelligence - which raises the notion of entrapment if Papadopoulos was set up by a Clinton ally, later to be pumped for information by a 'five-eyes' Clinton ally at a London Bar, which officially launched the investigation.

Last week, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) has requested a wide swath of documents about Mifsud from several federal agencies. As the Washington Examiner noted, Nunes - the House Intelligence Committee ranking member, "seeks information about who Mifsud was working for at the time and wrote in a letter that special counsel Robert Mueller “omits any mention of a wide range of contacts Mifsud had with Western political institutions and individuals" in his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election."

As for the FISA surveillance on Trump campaign aide Carter Page, Baker defended the FBI's use of the infamous Steele dossier in its application - saying that after personally reviewing the FISA applications, he was "comfortable" with them and confident that the process remained "lawful."
Of course, in recent days we've learned that the State Department and the FBI absolutely knew that the Steele Dossier was a political document of dubious legitimacy, and its author, former UK spy Christopher Steele, was working for Clinton/DNC-funded opposition research firm Fusion GPS to produce the document

And Baker said the FBI was careful in the way it used Steele’s reporting. “We have an obligation to take that information seriously and to be highly skeptical … You go to work … You try to validate it … We don’t just swallow it hook, line, and sinker. ... We spent a lot of time trying to vet that information line by line," he said.

“We are the Federal Bureau of Investigations, not the Federal Bureau of Conclusions,” Baker said defensively.

Steele has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks. The Wall Street Journal reported that Horowitz “is homing in on” and “has been asking witnesses about” the FBI’s “treatment of information” provided by Steele. And the New York Times reported that the FBI reached out to some of Steele’s foreign sources and as early as January 2017 agents had reportedly concluded that some of the dossier’s contents may have been based upon “rumors and hearsay” which were “passed from source to source.” The agents believed that some of Steele’s information may have even been based upon “Russian disinformation.” -Washington Examiner

9--Obama, Pelosi stress pragmatism as Democrats seek to move past Mueller report


The first word of caution came Monday night from the man who once led the Democratic Party, as former president Barack Obama gently warned freshman Democrats to think carefully about the costs of their bold liberal proposals.
“We must, with all that is going on, stay focused on our purpose ‘For the People’ — lower health-care costs, bigger paychecks and cleaner government,” Pelosi told her members during the private caucus meeting Tuesday morning, referring to the official name of the House Democrats’ 2018 campaign platform.


“I don’t think we should be running on the president; I think we need to be running on our agenda . . . on health care . . . on increasing people’s pay,” said Ocasio-Cortez, who said she supports impeachment but knows the Senate will never take it up. “Right now, in the short term, what we have control over is bringing bills to the floor that embody our values.”
There are, of course, some outliers. During Tuesday’s meeting, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) stood and argued that Democrats need to continue investigating Trump.

On Monday night, Obama delivered his warning to freshmen at a private gathering away from the Capitol, telling them that even a liberal voter might shun a liberal policy if it means an increase in taxes. While Obama did not give specifics, people in the room took his remarks as a cautionary note about Medicare-for-all and the Green New Deal, two liberal ideas that have divided Democrats.

Earlier in the evening, House Democratic leaders’ urgency to stay on message peaked during a private leadership meeting. Two senior Democrats from opposite sides of the caucus — liberal Rep. David N. Cicilline (R.I.) and Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.), who represents a Republican-leaning district — argued that it was time for the Democratic Party to move away from Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election. 
Bustos, the head of the House Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said voters in her district had complained that Democrats do not care about them. She said voters knew little about the legislation on which the party was working.

Democratic lawmakers needed to focus on policy, not Trump, Bustos said. Everyone agreed.
A few minutes later, when House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) outlined top priorities for the week, Pelosi paused when he mentioned a proposal aimed at supporting transgender individuals in the military. Pelosi, who supports the proposal, said even that idea was off-message for a critical week in which Democrats had to show they were about more than pushing back against Trump, according to five people who were in the room. 
That proposal, after all, was a reaction to Trump’s ban on the recruitment of transgender people into the military. Rather, Pelosi said the leaders need to highlight economic initiatives, including their bill demanding equal pay for women, which will be voted on this week.


That is why House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), addressing heavy GOP losses during a private donor call this year, called health care “the defining issue and the most important issue in the race.” McCarthy, notably, declined to answer questions about the Justice Department’s position at a Tuesday news conference, referring questions to his office.

Beyond the ACA fight, House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said Sunday’s release of the summary of Mueller’s findings has also forced Democrats to refocus on their legislative agenda.
“That’s always been our priority, but I think now everybody feels it’s much more important that we show the American people that that’s what we’re doing rather than talking about it,” he said.


To be sure, the Russia and obstruction question is likely to come roaring back — and drown out carefully planned legislative messaging — if and when the Mueller report is released. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.), who has led the push to force Trump to disclose his tax returns, said that even if Mueller did not find aconspiracy, Democrats had to keep investigating Trump.
“I think you’re going to see a very aggressive attempt to find out what really did happen,” he said, adding that Mueller “had a very narrow target” for his probe. Asked about the leadership’s attempt to pivot, Pascrell said, “We can walk and chew gum at the same time.”