Sunday, March 31, 2019

Today's links

Boeing System update:
Boeing has redesigned the software so that it will disable MCAS if it receives conflicting data from its sensors.
As part of the upgrade, Boeing will install an extra warning system on all 737 Max aircraft, which was previously an optional safety feature.
Customer update:

"No fucking way am I getting on that airplane." Biff  comments-line Unz Review






1--North Korea’s Kim appears to have a big goal: Winning Belt and Road investments from Beijing

 

North Korea’s future: The prospect of Pyongyang joining China’s continent-spanning Belt and Road Initiative, a project aiming to link more than 60 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East through overland and maritime routes.

 

2--No Reds Under Our Beds After All

 

Not since the witchcraft hysteria of the Middle Ages have we seen such a display of human idiocy, credulity and absurdist behavior. I refer, of course, to the two-year witch hunt directed against President Donald Trump which hopefully just concluded last week – provided that the Hillaryites, Democratic dopes and secret staters who fueled this mania don’t manage to keep the pot boiling.

This column has said from Day 1 that claims Trump was somehow a Russian agent were absurd in the extreme. So too charges that Moscow had somehow rigged US elections. Nonsense....We seem to be living in an era of absurdity and medieval superstition. No wonder so many nations around the globe fear us. We too often look like militant Scientologists with nuclear weapons.
 

3--South Korea to review prospects for EU-style confederation with the North 

 

The South Korean government is planning to fund research projects into a range of potential models for unification with North Korea, documents seen by NK News showed this week, with case-studies including federation and EU-style confederation among several under consideration.

In plans for the two research projects, the South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) asked prospective participants in the project to examine cases of gradual unification.
Previous research on unification, it said, has concentrated on comparing Korea’s case to that of the “radical unification” of Germany in 1990, asking researchers to assume the North and South would likely take a more gradual approach....

Participants are also asked to look to the step-by-step process of unification suggested in the “Korean National Community Unification Formula” and pay attention to “implications that could be considered in the process of gradual change.”

4--Obama White House, Not Dossier, Was Behind Trump Investigation

SpyGate: Did the Obama administration spy on the Donald Trump campaign because it feared Russian hacking of the 2016 election? Or was it merely a smokescreen to cover up the real reason: to keep Trump from winning the presidency or take him down if he did?


5--Trump responded positively to relaxing sanctions with “snapback clause” during Hanoi summit

"During the North Korea-US summit in Hanoi last month, US President Donald Trump reportedly had a positive perspective on relaxing sanctions on North Korea provided that there was a “snapback” clause that would reinstate sanctions if the North failed to implement its agreement. North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui made this statement during a briefing to foreign diplomats in Pyongyang on Mar. 15, but her full remarks hadn’t been made public until now.

According to the text of Choe’s remarks released on Mar. 25, she said, “When we made a practical proposal in the talks, President Trump adopted the flexible position that an agreement would be possible if a clause was added stating that the sanctions could be reinstated if North Korea resumed nuclear activities after the sanctions were lifted.” But Choe went on to say that, “because of their continuing hostility and mistrust, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House National Security Advisor John Bolton created obstacles to the two leaders’ efforts to have constructive negotiations, and ultimately the summit didn’t produce meaningful results.”

. ... According to Choe’s statement ... the two leaders appear to have explored the possibility of trading Yongbyon’s shutdown for partial sanctions relief. ... Choe’s remarks imply that the ultimate reason the summit concluded without an agreement was because of resistance from Pompeo and Bolton."  ("Trump responded positively to relaxing sanctions with “snapback clause” during Hanoi summit", Hankyoreh News)
 
 

Turkey's defense minister and chief of general staff on March 30 inaugurated a center in southeastern Şanlıurfa province that would manage possible military operation against terrorists east of the Euphrates River in Syria.  
     
Hulusi Akar and Gen. Yaşar Güler also inspected Turkey's forces deployed near the Syrian border in Şanlıurfa.   ...       
Akar said that Turkey's plans and preparations for a possible operation east of the Euphrates in Syria are completed.

7--Turkey to solve Syria issue on the field after polls: Erdoğan


Turkey's president on March 30 said that they will "definitely" solve Syria issue on the field after the local elections in Turkey.        
"We will definitely solve Syria issue on the field, if possible, and not on the table, as the first work after elections," Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in an election rally in Istanbul. 
      
Erdoğan said that those who wish to close Turkey's southern borders with a terror corridor will never find a chance to do that.        
“We have taught the necessary lesson to those who tried to do that and we will do the same to them in the future,” he added.    
   
Turkey has, several times, stressed that it will not “allow the formation of a terrorist corridor along its southern border with Syria,” and towards that end has promised an operation east of the Euphrates in Syria, against the YPG- the Syrian offshoot of the illegal PKK. PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.

The expected operation would follow up on two other Turkish operations in Syria since 2016, Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch. 

 

 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Today's Links

1--North Korea rocket launch site almost ready, South says

 

2--Bolton warns Russia on Venezuela. Russia yawns

 

“We strongly caution actors external to the Western Hemisphere against deploying military assets to Venezuela, or elsewhere in the Hemisphere, with the intent of establishing or expanding military operations,” Bolton said Friday.
“We will consider such provocative actions as a direct threat to international peace and security in the region. We will continue to defend and protect the interests of the United States, and those of our partners in the Western Hemisphere,” he added.

 3--Many US Troops Will Stay in Syria, Officials Confirm Goal is to have 1,000 troops in Syria by May

Initially announced as a total withdrawal from Syria by President Trump, the administration has backpedaled repeatedly, to the point where a large portion of US forces will be remaining on the ground in Syria, and about 1,000 or the current 2,000 are liable to spend the bulk of 2019 in Syria.

Officials say the current plan, such as it is, would be to draw down to about 1,000 by early May, and then “pause” for about six months. Then, there would be a consideration of withdrawing some more troops, perhaps getting down to 400.

4--US Threatens Turkey over Russian S-400 Air Defence Purchase

 

5--Juan Guaidó Confesses Being Behind the Sabotage of Venezuela’s Electric System

 

6--US aggression has turned Iraq and syria into a wastelands

 

While the siege of Mosul ended in July 2017, nearly two years ago, and that of Raqqa three months later, much of the first city and virtually all of the second remain in ruins.

Once Iraq’s second city with a population of nearly two million, nearly two-thirds of Mosul’s inhabitants remain displaced. An estimated 130,000 Iraqi homes were destroyed by the US bombardment, along with 90 percent of the city’s hospitals, dozens of schools and much of its basic infrastructure. The UN has estimated that there are some 8 million tons of rubble and debris that must be removed to begin restoring the city. With the resources and equipment now allotted, this task could take up 10 years.

“It is impossible not to be overwhelmed by what you see standing on the roof … in Mosul. Half of this sprawling city is literally leveled to the ground and it is practically impossible to move through due to the large number of explosives hidden in the rubble,” said Lene Rasmussen of the Danish Demining Group, the only international NGO operating in the city....

Nearly two million people in Iraq remain internally displaced from Mosul and other cities like Tikrit, Fallujah and Ramadi that were also largely demolished by the anti-ISIS campaign. Many of them are in camps and subject to brutality at the hands of Iraqi security forces and sectarian militias, with men taken away to be tortured and executed and women subject to rape and sexual abuse....

The city is a shell—bombed-out buildings, very little running water or electricity, the stench of death hanging in the air. That anyone is still able to live there defies logic and stands as testimony to the remarkable resilience of the city’s civilians.”

Residents in both Mosul and Raqqa have told the media that, as bad as conditions were under the brutal and reactionary Islamist rule of ISIS, today they are considerably worse.

While Washington boasts of its final defeat of ISIS, the reality is that the Islamist militia was US imperialism’s own Frankenstein’s Monster. It arose as an offshoot of Al Qaeda, itself nurtured by the CIA during the US-orchestrated war to topple the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan. It was forged in the US war of aggression against Iraq that killed close to a million Iraqis, and then utilized in the 2011 war to topple Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi. Fighters and arms were then funneled with the aid of the CIA into the war for regime change in Syria.

ISIS was able to seize control of territories comprising a population of eight million and consisting of nearly half of Iraq and large swathes of Syria only because of the abysmal conditions created by US military interventions and the massive supply of arms and money by the CIA and Washington’s principal regional allies, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.
In Iraq, its advance was furthered by the anger of the Sunni population over the discrimination and repression carried out by the Baghdad government. These sentiments are only being deepened by the present conditions confronting the people of Mosul and the cities of Anbar Province.

The Pentagon’s proposed 2020 budget includes $300 million for arming and supporting “vetted Syrian opposition” partners, as well as $250 million to support “border security requirements” in Syria.

Washington’s aim is to carve out its own sphere of influence in Syria’s northeast, seizing control over the country’s main oil and gas-producing region and using Syria as a base for preparing military aggression against Iran.

Meanwhile, the US has encouraged Israel to play a major role in military operations against Syria. Trump’s decree recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the illegally occupied territory of the Golan Heights is bound up with Washington’s cementing of a regional alliance based on Israel, Saudi Arabia and the other monarchical dictatorships of the Persian Gulf against Iran.

Israel carried out airstrikes Wednesday against the Syrian city of Aleppo, reportedly striking warehouses, setting off major explosions that cut off power to the city and killing at least four people.
The so-called victory over ISIS has turned much of the region into a wasteland, creating the conditions for social explosions, even as US imperialism prepares to launch a wider and bloodier war in the Middle East.

7--SDF General Commander: Decision To Liberate Afrin By Force Has Been Made

 

US seeks to provoke Turkey and incite split between Russia and Syria




 8--Exclusive: With a piece of paper, Trump called on Kim to hand over nuclear weapons


 On the day that their talks in Hanoi collapsed last month, U.S. President Donald Trump handed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a piece of paper that included a blunt call for the transfer of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and bomb fuel to the United States, according to the document seen by Reuters.

Trump gave Kim both Korean and English-language versions of the U.S. position at Hanoi’s Metropole hotel on Feb. 28, according to a source familiar with the discussions, speaking on condition of anonymity. It was the first time that Trump himself had explicitly defined what he meant by denuclearization directly to Kim, the source said.

A lunch between the two leaders was canceled the same day. While neither side has presented a complete account of why the summit collapsed, the document may help explain it.

The document’s existence was first mentioned by White House national security adviser John Bolton in television interviews he gave after the two-day summit. Bolton did not disclose in those interviews the pivotal U.S. expectation contained in the document that North Korea should transfer its nuclear weapons and fissile material to the United States.

The document appeared to represent Bolton’s long-held and hardline “Libya model” of denuclearization that North Korea has rejected repeatedly. It probably would have been seen by Kim as insulting and provocative, analysts said.

Trump had previously distanced himself in public comments from Bolton’s approach and said a “Libya model” would be employed only if a deal could not be reached.
The idea of North Korea handing over its weapons was first proposed by Bolton in 2004. He revived the proposal last year when Trump named him as national security adviser. 

The document was meant to provide the North Koreans with a clear and concise definition of what the United States meant by “final, fully verifiable, denuclearization,” the source familiar with discussions said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The State Department declined to comment on what would be a classified document.
After the summit, a North Korean official accused Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of “gangster-like” demands, saying Pyongyang was considering suspending talks with the United States and may rethink its self-imposed ban on missile and nuclear tests.

The English version of the document, seen by Reuters, called for “fully dismantling North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure, chemical and biological warfare program and related dual-use capabilities; and ballistic missiles, launchers, and associated facilities.”
Aside from the call for the transfer of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and bomb fuel, the document had four other key points. 

It called on North Korea to provide a comprehensive declaration of its nuclear program and full access to U.S. and international inspectors; to halt all related activities and construction of any new facilities; to eliminate all nuclear infrastructure; and to transition all nuclear program scientists and technicians to commercial activities.
The summit in Vietnam’s capital was cut short after Trump and Kim failed to reach a deal on the extent of economic sanctions relief for North Korea in exchange for its steps to give up its nuclear program.

The first summit between Trump and Kim, which took place in Singapore in June 2018, was almost called off after the North Koreans rejected Bolton’s repeated demands for it to follow a denuclearization model under which components of Libya’s nuclear program were shipped to the United States in 2004.
Seven years after a denuclearization agreement was reached between the United States and Libya’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, the United States took part in a NATO-led military operation against his government and he was overthrown by rebels and killed.

 



Friday, March 29, 2019

More Links

1--  Turkey, Huawei sign cooperation protocol on R&D for smart cities

 

"World's giant Huawei and Informatics Valley will work together in the frame of Turkey's Technological Research Council's Research & Development (R&D) Laboratory Support Program," Varank said.

Within the scope of cooperation with Huawei, a center will be established for developing technologies in artificial intelligence, big data, internet of things, blockchain and smart mobility fields, the minister noted.
He added: "We bring prominent R&D companies in our country."
"We want to see Turkey as a leading production base for industry and technology," Varank said.

2--North Korea rocket launch site almost ready, South says (more media disinformation)

 

North Korea has almost completed rebuilding a long-range rocket site it had promised to close, Seoul lawmakers told reporters Friday after a closed-door meeting with South Korean intelligence officials.
According to Yonhap news agency, South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) told the country's parliament that Pyongyang began work on the launch pad in February on its west coast before the U.S. and North Korea held a summit in Hanoi.
Reports had emerged early this month that Pyongyang was restoring the rocket launch site.
"The North started the reassembly work before the Hanoi summit. We cannot verify what that means," the NIS said.

3--Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 is ‘done deal’: Turkish FM

 

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on March 29 said an agreement for the procurement of the Russian S-400 air defense system is a “done deal” and refuted claims that Turkey might ship the system to a third country in a bid to avoid United States’ sanctions.

“We have signed a deal with Russia. Now we are discussing certain expectations on when the delivery will happen or what can we do. This deal is made before a CAATSA decision,” he said, referring to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act approved in mid-2017.
“Nevertheless, it is against international law that a third country opposes a deal between two countries. The whole world should see that ‘This is what I want so it should happen’ mentality is no longer valid,” he said.

4--Turkey aware of currency market manipulation ahead of local elections

 

Recent unusual currency fluctuations were triggered by speculative bets in overseas markets on the Turkish lira as part of efforts to impose political pressure on Turkey ahead of an election that will only appoint local administrators who will not shape economic policies

Recent exchange rate fluctuations are attempts to impose political pressure on Turkey ahead of municipal elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Thursday. In his meeting with young voters and university students, broadcast online on the social media accounts of the presidency, President Erdoğan elaborated on a number of political and social issues and the economy. The president emphatically stated that the volatility in currency markets is the result of attempts by the U.S. and the West right before the municipal elections. "Their operations to pressure Turkey through exchange rates and interest rates have been thwarted. Now, they cannot find the Turkish lira to sell," Erdoğan said.

5-- Russian MoD: French, Belgian Intel Officers Plan Chemical ‘Provocation’ in Idlib


"According to data obtained by the Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides, illegal armed groups operating in the Idlib de-escalation zone are preparing a provocation to accuse Russia’s Aerospace Forces and the Syrian government troops of using poisonous substances against civilians", Kupchishin told reporters at a news briefing....

Moreover, Belgian spies made videos of Russian air strikes on terrorist arms depots which they plan to use as proof of Russia’s chemical attacks in northwestern Syria, Kupchishin said.

"To organize provocations, representatives of the French and Belgian secret services arrived in Idlib. Under their supervision, a meeting was held with the field commanders of the terrorist groups of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Hurras Al-Din, as well as with the representatives of the pseudo-humanitarian organization ‘White Helmets’", Kupchishin said....

Meanwhile, a chlorine-based toxic chemical agent was transported from the northwestern Syrian city of Saraqib to several locations throughout Idlib under the supervision of French intelligence agents, Kupchishin said Friday.
"On 23 March, under the supervision of French intelligence [officers], canisters, made to look like they contained regular oxygen and household gas, but containing a poisonous, supposedly chlorine-based, substance, were transferred from Saraqib to the towns of Khan Sheikhoun, Maaret Horma and Kafer Zaita (all in the northeastern Idlib province)", Kupchishin said.

6--Rachel Maddow ratings smackdown


“The Rachel Maddow Show” saw an average 13 percent decrease in viewership comparing her ratings Monday through Wednesday this week versus last week — Maddow lost nearly a whopping 500,000 viewers on Monday’s show following the release of Barr’s letter compared to her previous Monday show. She also saw a 15 percent decrease in the 25-52 demo audience....

FNC’s other primetime hosts, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, have also benefited since the Mueller report was issued, averaging a 25 percent increase in viewership during primetime this week. They averaged 3.58 million viewers versus last week’s average of 2.72 million viewers.

7--Top general warns US may not see a North Korean attack coming

 

8--South Korea to review prospects for EU-style confederation with the North: MOU

Researchers also asked to predict "strife" that could take place in the event of a political union


The South Korean government is planning to fund research projects into a range of potential models for unification with North Korea, documents seen by NK News showed this week, with case-studies including federation and EU-style confederation among several under consideration.

In plans for the two research projects, the South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) asked prospective participants in the project to examine cases of gradual unification.
Previous research on unification, it said, has concentrated on comparing Korea’s case to that of the “radical unification” of Germany in 1990, asking researchers to assume the North and South would likely take a more gradual approach.

Participants are also asked to look to the step-by-step process of unification suggested in the “Korean National Community Unification Formula” and pay attention to “implications that could be considered in the process of gradual change.”
The formula has long been the South Korean government’s formal plan for unification and is composed of three stages: reconciliation and cooperation, inter-Korean confederation, and unification.

Taking the recent changes in the situation of the peninsula into account, the unification ministry said it is necessary to study international models in preparation for the “possibility of peaceful co-existence.”
To this end, one project aims to research a wide spectrum of overseas cases of “peaceful co-existence and integration” in preparation for gradual changes on the Korean peninsula.

Since the two Koreas acknowledged a “common element in the South’s concept of a confederation and the North’s formula for a loose form of federation” in the 2000 inter-Korean joint declaration, successive South Korean governments have offer their own take on how this form of unification could take place.
This week’s proposal sees researchers asked to “concretely suggest problems expected to come up in the process of integrating and unifying the Korean peninsula” based on the implications of each overseas case.

The background, purpose, and process of each integration, as well as its institutional arrangements and operating conditions, should be listed in detail, along with issues which arose in the process of integration and solutions to those issues.
An assessment on the effectiveness of integration from the perspective of the parties concerned and neighboring countries should be also suggested and comprehensively systematized using graphs and other tools.

Each case should be classified according to format, it asks, including “confederation, federation, and special cases.”
Other categories suggested by the ROK MOU also contain cases in which plans have failed or succeeded, as well as whether the integration in ongoing, transitional, or complete.
The South Korean government will provide KRW90 million ($79,000) to the project, which is set to be completed by October 31 this year.


Another MOU-backed project will see researchers carry out “in-depth research on cases of integration” focusing on the institutional arrangements of the European Union in preparation for the unification of the peninsula.
Based on an analysis and assessment of the EU case, researchers are asked “predict internal and external strife and problems that may arise in the process of integration and unification of South and North Korea.”

As an outcome of the research, plans for “handling” potential issues must also be suggested.
The ROK MOU also said researchers should presume that the step-by-step unification process proposed in the Korean National Community Unification Formula will take place.
The EU, it says, is the “most successful case of confederation that has formed and deepened the alliance in a wide range of fields including politics, economy, and society in a multi-stage and gradual process” since its beginnings as the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).

Researchers are required to “differentiate” their study from previous ones by focusing on issues like institutional arrangements and operation methods, as well as “internal and external conflicts in the process of establishing and managing confederation and ways to handle the issues.”’
Seoul reiterated the necessity of “examining in detail the problems, conflicts, and settlement processes that emerged in the process of operating EU institutions” and supporting these facts with empirical data.

Problems, considerations, and solutions that could happen in the process of integrating and unifying the two Koreas must also be provided.
The unification ministry asks potential collaborators to conduct “in-depth research” on the EU’s Poland and Hungary Assistance for the Restructuring of the Economy (PHARE)  program, saying that example holds “a lot of implications” for the two Koreas.
A total of KRW149 million ($131,000) will be allocated to the project, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of November.



 


 


 


 

Today's Links

"I will have eternal contempt for the TV personalities and Twitter propagandists who egged on this farce, in spite of all the voluminous countervailing evidence, and kept communicating to their credulous viewers and followers that a through-going Trump-Russia conspiracy was ever a serious possibility. Was it fair to say that the Trump campaign operation acted sleazily, corruptly, dishonestly, or incompetently? Of course. But the fact that Trump was surrounded by bumbling, lying fools never amounted to any conspiracy. Journalists largely knew this, but they failed at their most basic duty: to be good stewards of the public trust. Raising questions is fine, but what they did was generate a panic. After this jaw-dropping fiasco, they have forfeited any claim to such trust. Forever, hopefully....Michael Tracy


The BRI is a multi-trillion-dollar plan, laid out in 2013, placing China at the hub of a vast web of rail and road networks, ports, energy pipelines and industrial facilities ranging from China across the Eurasian landmass to Europe, going as far as East Africa and Indonesia. Hundreds of billions have already been spent on initiatives like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, regular Chinese freight train service to Iran and Germany via Russia, and Indian Ocean ports. Chinese state-owned enterprises are coordinating enormous international operations as much of Eurasia industrializes.

 

This brings Beijing into headlong conflict with Washington. It also creates the conditions for a potential conflict with the European powers if they align themselves with the BRI. On Xi’s Europe tour, the Washington Post quoted analyst Jacob Shapiro, who warned that pan-Eurasian plans lay “the groundwork for precisely the type of power the US has been obsessed with thwarting for over two centuries. As overly ambitious as China’s larger strategic goal may be, it is precisely that strategic aim that so irks the United States. While it doesn’t particularly care if China builds a port in Italy or high-speed rail in Poland, it does care about the potential emergence of a dominant power in Eurasia.” wsws


became the first member of Congress and only Democratic presidential candidate to oppose Trump's decision to recognize the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory max blumenthal



. Jimmy the Clap has now stated on world TeeVee that Obama ordered him, Brennan and all the other Midgets on Horseback who headed the IC back then to make a study of Russian attempts at intervention in the election, and that this "study" led to a resolve to investigate Candidate Trump as a potential traitor and a Russian agent of influence.  patrick lang, sic semper tyrannis



 

 

 1--Trump's persona non grata in Germany



As an example of Grenell’s intervention in German policies, Die Linke’s application names his statements concerning the Russian-European pipeline project Nord Stream 2, the county’s cooperation with the Chinese tech giant Huawei over construction of a 5G network as well as German companies’ business dealings with Iran. 


2--Russian Warships Are Shadowing NATO Maritime Group That Entered Black Sea

 

3--North Korea about to finish missile site reconstruction: Seoul

 

Bolton warning  https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/18/591329/US-North-Korea-John-Bolton

Speaking on Fox Business Network Tuesday, Bolton said the United States would see whether Pyongyang was committed to giving up its “nuclear weapons program and everything associated with it.”
However, he said, “If they’re not willing to do it, then I think President Trump has been very clear ... they’re not going to get relief from the crushing economic sanctions that have been imposed on them and we’ll look at ramping those sanctions up in fact.”

4--Pepe Escobar on Venezuela


The U.S. attempt at regime change in Venezuela has been so far unsuccessful in several ways. Plan A – a classic color revolution -has miserably failed, in part because of a lack of decent local intelligence. Plan B was a soft version of humanitarian imperialism, with a resuscitation of the nefarious, Libya-tested responsibility to protect (R2P); it also failed, especially when the American tale that the Venezuelan government burnt humanitarian aid trucks at the border with Colombia was a lie, exposed by The New York Times, no less.

Plan C was a classic Hybrid War technique: a cyberattack, replete with a revival of Nitro Zeus, which shut down 80 percent of Venezuela’s electricity.
That plan had already been exposed by WikiLeaks, via a 2010 memo by a U.S.-funded, Belgrade-based color revolution scam that helped train self-proclaimed “President” Random Dude, when he was just known as Juan Guaidó. The leaked memo said that attacking the Venezuelan power grid would be a “watershed event” that “would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate.” 

But even that was not enough. 

That leaves Plan D – which is essentially to try to starve the Venezuelan population to death via viciously lethal additional sanctions. Sanctioned Syria and sanctioned Iran didn’t collapse. Even boasting myriad comprador elites aggregated in the Lima group, exceptionalists may have to come to grips with the fact that deploying the Monroe doctrine essentially to contain China’s influence in the young 21stcentury is no “cakewalk.”

Plan E—for extreme—would be U.S. military action, which Bolton won’t take off the table.

5--China Flexes Its Power in Europe, Countries Lining Up to Do Business

 

Merkel stressed the BRI was an “important” project: “We, as Europeans, want to play an active part and that must lead to certain reciprocity and we are still wrangling over that a bit.” She added: “We are seeing the project as a good visualization of interaction, interrelation and interdependence.”

Merkel was essentially relaying the position of German business elites – as a trade powerhouse, the future of Germany lies in turbo-charging business with Asia, especially China....

Merkel, predictably, was careful to hedge to the hilt: “The triangle between EU, China and US is very important. Without the US, we will not be able to have multilateralism.”

6--Dem lawmaker cries "Whitewash"


As the week goes on it just seems like the smell of a whitewash and a cover-up is getting thicker and thicker. It’s almost as if they wanted to establish a certain imprint in the public consciousness about what this is and now they’re going to try to drag out the process for many weeks of releasing the report, and it’s just not an acceptable way for the Department of Justice to be proceeding here and it seems to be a complete thwarting of the whole design of having a special counsel.” 

 7--By fearmongering far beyond the evidence, the media and politicians did a huge disservice to the public

 

"I will have eternal contempt for the TV personalities and Twitter propagandists who egged on this farce, in spite of all the voluminous countervailing evidence, and kept communicating to their credulous viewers and followers that a through-going Trump-Russia conspiracy was ever a serious possibility. Was it fair to say that the Trump campaign operation acted sleazily, corruptly, dishonestly, or incompetently? Of course. But the fact that Trump was surrounded by bumbling, lying fools never amounted to any conspiracy. Journalists largely knew this, but they failed at their most basic duty: to be good stewards of the public trust. Raising questions is fine, but what they did was generate a panic. After this jaw-dropping fiasco, they have forfeited any claim to such trust. Forever, hopefully....Michael Tracy

 I’ll remember one particularly illustrative example of how the insane Trump-Russia media feedback loop actually worked. John Brennan, the CIA director-turned-vociferous Trump critic, appeared on “Meet the Press” last summer. Asked by Chuck Todd to provide some evidence to support his claim that Trump was compromised by Russia, Brennan cited...reports in the media. That’s right: He was just reading the New York Times and scrolling through Twitter like the rest of us!

The entire Trump-Russia saga was predicated on what became an impenetrable self-reinforcing cycle of confirmation bias and group think: Journalists scoured the internet for signs of a conspiracy, which were then picked up on by the FBI and/or CIA, and then the FBI and/or CIA’s resulting investigative actions would be taken as confirmation by the journalists that their theories were vindicated

8--Sec Def Lobbies Iraqi Leaders to Let US Troops Stay 

 Main Iraqi parliament blocs want US forces out

9--It's official: Russiagate is this generation's WMD   Taibbi


10--With Mueller Done, Now is the Time for Better Relations With Russia

 
The shrieking pundits have been quieted. Trump should seize the opportunity and work for peace.


U.S.-Russia relations were already in the tank before Trump was sworn into office. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin after a four-year hiatus as prime minister was like a wet blanket over the fire of an otherwise productive detente between the two former Cold War adversaries. Putin took what had been a relatively productive period with the Americans (deals had been struck on a variety of issues, including New START, the use of Russian air routes into Afghanistan, counterterrorism cooperation, ever-stronger U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran) into a deep freeze in less than a year. Russia’s annexation of Crimea, military support to separatists in Eastern Ukraine, campaign on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria, and interference in European politics all contributed to the unhealthy discourse. Putin’s active measures operation during the 2016 U.S. presidential election reaffirmed what so many officials in Washington already believed: Putin is out to attack American democracy and challenge the U.S. in multiple theaters.

Trump’s desire to get along with Putin was not a bad idea at its core. Russia may be a weakling compared to its Soviet ancestor (its GDP is about $400 billion less than recession-threatened Italy), but it remains a major power in Eurasia. Moscow has demonstrated on three separate occasions over the last decade—Georgia in 2008, Ukraine in 2014, and Syria in 2015—that it’s willing to use military force when its interests are threatened. Of course, Russia is also the world’s largest nuclear power, with thousands of nuclear warheads in its arsenal

11--Yanis Varoufakis--May's Brexit--Ignoble Surrender (1 minute "must see" video)


Varoufakis concluded on May’s deal that: “Whether you are a Brexiteer or a Remainer this is a deal that a nation signs only after having been defeated at war. This is not a deal that is fit for purpose for any sovereign country.” 

12-- Xi Jinping tours Europe amid growing divisions between America and EU

29 March 2019 
 

longstanding international arrangements underpinning the affairs of world capitalism are rapidly disintegrating....The BRI is a multi-trillion-dollar plan, laid out in 2013, placing China at the hub of a vast web of rail and road networks, ports, energy pipelines and industrial facilities ranging from China across the Eurasian landmass to Europe, going as far as East Africa and Indonesia. Hundreds of billions have already been spent on initiatives like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, regular Chinese freight train service to Iran and Germany via Russia, and Indian Ocean ports. Chinese state-owned enterprises are coordinating enormous international operations as much of Eurasia industrializes.

This brings Beijing into headlong conflict with Washington.

On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up a six-day tour of Europe that took him to Rome, Sicily, Monaco and Paris. This trip and the signing of multiple business and strategic agreements between China and the European powers have exposed the deep conflicts that exist between the United States and its nominal European allies.

Before Xi’s trip, the press had leaked news that Italy planned to endorse China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for transport, energy and industrial infrastructure across Eurasia.
This provoked bitter opposition from Washington. After launching a “pivot to Asia” to militarily isolate China in 2011, the US has now repudiated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty to allow it to deploy large numbers of nuclear missiles targeting China and Russia. On Twitter, the US National Security Council warned Italy it was legitimizing China’s “predatory approach to investment and will bring no benefits to the Italian people.”

The European Union (EU) powers thrust aside US objections, however. After the EU powers all signed on in 2015 to the BRI’s funding arm, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, this weekend Rome signed a Memorandum of Understanding endorsing the BRI.

Paris bitterly complained that Rome had sidelined its EU partners in its talks with China. However, when Xi arrived, it proceeded to sign its own multi-billion-euro deals with him. The biggest, a €30 billion deal for Franco-German firm Airbus to sell jetliners to China, included a large new order as China abandons the Boeing 737 MAX for Airbus A320s after two horrific crashes. French President Emmanuel Macron then met Xi together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said she saw “nothing to criticize” in Italy’s deal with Xi endorsing the BRI.

These meetings unfolded amid explosive tensions with the United States over policy towards China and Russia. This month, after Merkel rejected US calls to boycott Chinese tech firm Huawei’s products, US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell threatened to suspend US intelligence cooperation with Germany. At the same time, Washington is threatening Berlin with sanctions if it does not abandon its Nordstream 2 pipeline bringing Russian gas to Germany.

The BRI is a multi-trillion-dollar plan, laid out in 2013, placing China at the hub of a vast web of rail and road networks, ports, energy pipelines and industrial facilities ranging from China across the Eurasian landmass to Europe, going as far as East Africa and Indonesia. Hundreds of billions have already been spent on initiatives like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, regular Chinese freight train service to Iran and Germany via Russia, and Indian Ocean ports. Chinese state-owned enterprises are coordinating enormous international operations as much of Eurasia industrializes.

This brings Beijing into headlong conflict with Washington. It also creates the conditions for a potential conflict with the European powers if they align themselves with the BRI. On Xi’s Europe tour, the Washington Post quoted analyst Jacob Shapiro, who warned that pan-Eurasian plans lay “the groundwork for precisely the type of power the US has been obsessed with thwarting for over two centuries. As overly ambitious as China’s larger strategic goal may be, it is precisely that strategic aim that so irks the United States. While it doesn’t particularly care if China builds a port in Italy or high-speed rail in Poland, it does care about the potential emergence of a dominant power in Eurasia.”

Washington’s main strategy, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 threw open Central Asia to imperialist intervention, was to dominate this region as the key to controlling the Eurasian land mass. It launched a series of wars in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and beyond. Despite growing commercial rivalries with the United States, the European imperialist powers largely joined these wars. They cost millions of lives, shattered entire societies and discredited the ruling classes of the imperialist countries among workers internationally.

13--- Xi signs strategic EU-China deals amid growing EU-US tensions

By Alex Lantier
29 March 2019
On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping ended a six-day tour of Europe in which the major euro zone powers made business deals with China and signaled support for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for infrastructure across Eurasia. As Washington threatens both China and its nominal European Union (EU) allies with trade war sanctions, deep divergences are emerging between Washington and the EU over relations with China.
As part of its “pivot to Asia” to diplomatically isolate and militarily threaten China, Washington has opposed the BRI, which US Vice President Mike Pence mocked last year as a “constricting belt and one-way road” allowing China to trap the world in debt. In 2015, the EU powers defied US calls to boycott the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the BRI’s funding arm. Now, they are again ignoring Washington....

Rome then signed the MOU endorsing the BRI, together with deals worth €2.5 billion for building oil pipelines and steel plants, and promoting Italian agricultural exports. Italy will also be allowed to finance its massive €2.3 trillion sovereign debt by issuing so-called “panda bonds” directly to Chinese citizens....

In Paris, Chinese state-owned enterprises signed multi-billion-euro contracts for container shipping, wind energy, and construction projects with French firms. Macron and Xi signed a €30 billion deal between Franco-German firm Airbus and China Aviation Supplies Holding for 10 A350 and 290 medium-range A320neo jetliners.

14--Mounting warnings of a global recession


Other interest rates, most notably on German bonds that like US Treasuries are regarded as a safe haven, have also fallen and in some cases are in negative territory. On Wednesday the German government issued €2.4 billion of 10-year bonds with an interest rate of minus 0.05 percent. The issue was oversubscribed 2.6 times meaning they could have raised €6.3 trillion.
The growing nervousness in financial markets is also indicated in a report from Bloomberg earlier this week which said the amount of global bonds with a negative yield had gone over $10 trillion...

The statement following this month’s FOMC meeting made clear the Fed was not simply engaged in a temporary reversal of its previous agenda. It was a virtual admission there was not going to be any winding back of its massive asset purchases under the program of quantitative easing which saw its balance sheet expand from around $800 billion before the financial crisis to $4.5 trillion.

The Fed had started winding back its holdings by $50 billion a month and Fed chairman Jerome Powell indicated at the end of last year this policy would proceed into the future as if on “auto pilot.” This brought furious opposition from key sections of the financial markets which maintained the Fed’s policy was adversely affecting their operations.

At last week’s meeting the wind-down was effectively shelved. Powell said the Fed would slow the reduction of Treasury holdings to $15 billion a month starting in May and expected to conclude the wind-down at the end of September. This meant that Fed’s balance sheet would be around $3.5 trillion, or 17 percent of GDP compared to around 6 percent before the 2008 meltdown....

The most significant feature of the Fed’s decision is what it indicates about the future of the US and global economy. It underscores the fact that more than 10 years after the global financial crash any return to what was once considered “normal” monetary policy is further away than ever and the global economy and financial system is completely dependent on the provision of ultra-cheap money from the major central banks...

Earlier this month, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt provided some insights into the longer-term situation pointing out the strength of US economic expansion was exaggerated.
“Here’s the truth: There is no boom. The economy has been mired in an extended funk since the financial crisis ended in 2010. GDP growth still has not reached 3 percent in any year, and 3 percent isn’t a very high bar.”

He wrote that if experts’ predictions on the growth of the US economy had actually eventuated then it would be 6 percent larger than it is today producing $1.3 trillion more in goods and services.
One of the reasons he noted was that major companies, despite all the money that was available were holding back. A report released earlier this week pointed to one of the reasons why. Companies in the S&P 500 spent a record $806 billion buying back their own shares in 2018, beating the figure for 2017 by almost 56 percent and shattering the previous record of $589 billion set in 2007.

These figures underscore the fact that the chief effect of the various stimulus measures introduced by central banks and governments—the program of quantitative easing and the Trump corporate tax cuts—has been to further fuel parasitism and speculation, while signs of recession indicate that a new crisis is in the making.

15--Congressional hearing highlights close ties between Boeing and FAA


Elwell detailed the process through which Boeing is allowed to review its own safety systems under a program called Organization Designation Authorization. “The Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program is the means by which the FAA may authorize an organization to act as a representative of the FAA, allowing that organization to conduct inspections and tests and issue certificates on behalf of the FAA.” This program, established in 2005, has let Boeing and other airline companies operate with virtually no independent oversight of the safety of any new civilian planes.

In particular, it allowed Boeing to produce the Max 8 variant of the Boeing 737 without FAA oversight. Elwell stated, “As a result of regular meetings between the FAA and Boeing teams, the FAA determined in February 2012 that the [Max 8] project qualified … [a] project eligible for management by the Boeing ODA.”..

The hearing also exposed the role of the various pilots’ unions that authorized pilots to fly the Max 8. Elwell stated, “To a group, we [the pilots’ unions] are absolutely confident in the safety of the aircraft and our pilots level of training in flying it.”

In reality, individual pilots did in fact raise issues about the safety of the Max 8, and particularly the MCAS anti-stall feature. Many have come out stating that they were unaware of the system and that it was not mentioned in manuals or Max 8 flight training. They also did not have access to flight simulators that could replicate the problems caused if MCAS is given faulty sensor data, the most likely reason for the two crashes....

Boeing is a key part of the US financial system. Since the 737 Max 8 series was released in 2017, the 5,011 orders Boeing has received have accounted for 50 percent of the company’s profits. Since the March 10 crash, Boeing’s stock has lost half of its gains since the new year, wiping out billions in profits.

During the hearing, Democrats attempted to posture as fighters for increased regulation and oversight. Richard Blumenthal stated that he was preparing legislation to increase FAA oversight. Tom Udall noted Boeing’s longstanding insider connections with the US political establishment. Ed Markey demanded that the FAA ban “selling safety features a la carte to airlines.”

They are fooling no one. The Democrats, no less than the Republicans, have been at the forefront of deregulating the airline industry. The first step in this process was done under the Carter administration, which passed the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978. It disbanded the Civil Aeronautics Board, which up to that point treated interstate airlines as a public utility, setting routes, schedules and fares.

Carter, supported by Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, instead allowed airlines to set their own fares and routes. The resulting consolidation of the industry in the past half-century has produced higher fares and fees, more crowded planes and an industry dominated by only four major carriers. It has become one of the most unregulated industries in the country, essentially allowing companies to act as both manufacturer and safety regulator, at the expense of human lives.



 16--Trump is "all in" on Venezuela


 Pompeo and Bolton are raising holy hell about the Russian presence and making all manner of bombastic threats. It doesn’t appear they are doing this on their own. “You will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You will lose everything,” Trump said in a speech at Florida International University in Miami on 18 February. “We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open.” On the same day he tweeted “I ask every member of the Maduro regime: End this nightmare of poverty, hunger and death. LET YOUR PEOPLE GO. Set your country free! Now is the time for all Venezuelan Patriots to act together, as one united people. Nothing could be better for the future of Venezuela!” At a White House photo op with Guaido’s wife today, Trump said “Russia has to get out.” He continued “If Russia doesn't leave Venezuela, we'll see. We'll see. All options are open ... all options are open." Trump appears to be all in on this one

17--James Clapper originated the conspiracy against Trump

When the tale of the plot to destroy Donald Trump's candidacy and Presidency is told, Jim Clapper will be proven as a key player in the conspiracy. Clapper was not a passive observer. I am told by friends who had direct dealings with Clapper during his tenure as the Director of National Intelligence that he was helping coordinate the activities of the CIA, the NSA and the FBI in the collection and dissemination of information on Trump and his associates....

In a recent serendipitous conversation with an old friend ( who is still engaged with the intel community) I asked the following question--Was Peter Strzok briefing Clapper in July 2016? The answer from my friend was, "Yes....

The conspiracy against Donald Trump, in my opinion, originated with British intelligence and persons connected with the Clinton Campaign. The provocation/dangle of George Papodopolous was the result of electronic intercepts by GCHQ targeting people working on the Trump campaign. The collection effort generated hundreds of highly classified "SIGINT" messages that were disseminated in the U.S. intelligence community. Those messages led to the unmasking of more than 100 Americans whose names appeared in those reports. And this "intel" dump from the Brits became the predicate for launching a counter intelligence investigation of Donald Trump and his campaign.

I do not believe that Strzok was part of the original conspiracy. In fact, Strzok, who is not very bright, could also be considered a dupe. He accepted the British intel at face value and then was reinforced in his beliefs by the lies of MI6 officer Christopher Steele. That said, Strzok was an important cog in the anti-Trump conspiracy machine and he was in regular contact with Jim Clapper. 
When the investigation of this mess is completed I believe Jim Clapper will emerge as a puppet master in pulling FBI strings and putting Trump under a cloud.
  

 18--Senior S. Korean national security official paid secret visit to Russia

 

Multiple sources said that Kim Hyun-chong, second deputy chief of the Blue House National Security Office, returned home from a trip to Russia on Mar. 27. This came on the heels of a trip to Russia by Kim Chang-son, the de facto chief of staff and protocol officer of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Kim Chang-son was in Russia from Mar. 19 to 25, and his trip fueled speculation that Kim Jong-un may be about to pay a visit to Russia. That’s why Kim Hyun-chong’s visit to that country has raised eyebrows.

Kim Hyun-chong presumably met officials in the Russian government to discuss affairs on the Korean Peninsula following the second North Korea-US summit and Kim Jong-un’s plan to visit Russia. Since North Korea-US dialogue has been stalled since the Hanoi summit, the South Korean official may also have discussed potential action that the two countries could take.

 

19--Spanish Supreme Court says it contacted FBI regarding raid on N. Korean embassy in Madrid

 

 seven of 10 individuals involved in the raid whose identity had been established were found to be South Korean and US citizens, the report said. The individuals in question are being accused of illegal detention, damage, intimidation, robbery and document forgery.

According to the report, they entered the embassy at around 4:34 pm on Mar. 22, while claiming to have come to see the economic councilor. They proceeded to immobilize embassy staff with handcuffs and cables after a “violent assault” and keep them captive for several hours. The suspects were brandishing knives, metal pipes and toy guns. Describing themselves as “members of a human rights group for the freedom of North Korea,” they dragged the economic councilor to the basement and encouraged him to defect, the report said. A female embassy worker among the captives escaped out of a first-floor window and called for help; when police arrived at the embassy, Hong appeared posing as an embassy employee. The items stolen that day consisted of two computers, two hard drives and several mobile phones and portable USB devices...

 The daily El Pais previously reported Spain’s National Police Corps General Commissariat of Information (CGI) and National Intelligence Centre (CNI) as having ascertained CIA connections for at least two of the individuals invol

 

20--US might resume joint military exercises in Korea

 

 

 




Thursday, March 28, 2019

Today's Links

"They've got a lot of pressure right now. They have no money, they have no oil, they have no nothing. They've got plenty of pressure right now. They have no electricity. Other than military you can't get any more pressure than they have ... All options are open." Donald Trump on Venezuela 

"The United States will not tolerate hostile foreign military powers meddling with the Western Hemisphere’s shared goals of democracy, security, and the rule of law. The Venezuelan military must stand with the people of Venezuela." john bolton

“Does the US think that people are waiting for it to bring democracy to them on the wings of its bombers? This question can be answered by Iraqis, Libyans and Serbs.” Maria Zakharova,  Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman 







2--Trump responded positively to relaxing sanctions with “snapback clause” during Hanoi summit 

The real story on the Hanoi Summit

3--How the Trump-Kim Summit Failed: Big Threats, Big Egos, Bad Bets

More disinformation from the gray lady

4--Did Mueller Know There Was No Trump-Russia Collusion Before The Midterms?

5--Russia to keep forces in Venezuela ‘as long as needed’ despite US call for removal

"The presence of Russian specialists on Venezuelan territory is regulated by an agreement between the Russian and Venezuelan governments on military and technical cooperation that was signed in May 2001," Zakharova said, adding, "Neither Russia nor Venezuela are provinces of the United States," she said.

“The Russian Federation develops its cooperation with Venezuela in strict compliance with the constitution of this country and with full respect to its legislative norms. Russian [military] specialists' presence on the territory of Venezuela is regulated by the defense cooperation agreement that the Russian and the Venezuelan governments signed in May 2001,” she said....

"Russia is not changing the balance of power in the region, Russia is not threatening anyone unlike citizens in Washington," she told reporters.

Referring to comments by Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who have respectively called for Russia to leave Venezuela, and vowed that Washington would try to end “Russian influence” in the Latin American country, Zakharova said, "Neither Russia nor Venezuela are provinces of the United States."

The Kremlin also said on Thursday that Washington should not "worry" about Moscow's relations with Venezuela, urging the United States to allow the crisis-stricken country to determine its own fate.
"We don't think that third countries should worry about our bilateral ties," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding, "We are not interfering in Venezuela's domestic affairs in any way and we expect third countries to follow our example and allow Venezuelans to decide their fate themselves."

 6--Trump tells Russia to get its troops out of Venezuela

 

7--Why not give Israel North & South Carolina?' Syrian envoy asks US at UN

 

Syria's UN ambassador has suggested the US hand "a couple" of its own states over to Israel instead of flouting international law and selling others' land for favors with the Israeli lobby, like it did with the Golan Heights. 
 
Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari offered a stark rebuke to the US-backed Israeli claim to the occupied Golan Heights at the UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday. Jaafari said the Trump administration does the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN to curry favor with the powerful Israeli lobby in the US.

 You can give them North and South Carolina, for example, why not? South Carolina is a great piece of land... So, give Israel a couple of states if this administration really wants to have Israeli support 

 

8--US lecturing Russia to ‘keep out of Western Hemisphere’ is hubris & hypocrisy on steroids 

 

9--'Nobody is panicking!' Rachel Maddow sheds 500,000 viewers in post-Mueller slump

 

10--Erdogan calls trump "Bully boy"

 

The Turkish president has continued his verbal offensive against his US counterpart after Donald Trump went against the UN’s position and formally recognised Israeli sovereignty over the strategically important Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria decades ago.

 

11--US threatens Turkey over Russian S-400 air defence purchase

 

In testimony before a congressional committee Tuesday, the acting US Defense Secretary, Patrick Shanahan, signalled that if Ankara proceeds with the S-400 purchase, Washington will block further shipments of F-35 fighter jets to Ankara and cut Turkish companies out of the F-35 project.

Asked if the Pentagon wants Turkey as an F-35 partner, Shanahan said “We absolutely do,” then added, “we need Turkey to buy the Patriot.” This was a reference to Washington’s offer to sell US-made Patriot missile batteries to Ankara, for $3.5 billion, in lieu of the S-400.

If Turkey deploys the S-400 it would run afoul of US sanctions against Russia. The 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act empowers the president to impose sweeping sanctions on any individual, organization or state who enters into a “significant transaction” with the defence or intelligence sectors of the Russian Federation. Washington could also seek to intensify pressure on Ankara by refusing to grant Turkey an extension of the “waiver” exempting it from the unilateral and patently illegal US embargo on Iranian energy exports. Turkey is heavily reliant on Iranian natural gas....

Erdogan’s rebuke to Washington came just two days after he issued a critical statement protesting the Trump administration’s decision to recognise Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights. A Foreign Ministry statement subsequently declared, “This unfortunate decision ... demonstrates that the US administration continues its approach to be part of the problem, rather than part of the solution in the Middle East.”

The dispute over the S-400 is a flashpoint for deeper conflicts bound up with Turkey’s geopolitical and military-strategic orientation. A founding member of NATO and a key Western ally during the Cold War, Turkey has been severely destabilised by American imperialism’s more than quarter century of uninterrupted war. Bordering Syria and Iraq to the south and with significant economic and political interests in the nearby regions of the Balkans and North Africa, Ankara was directly impacted by the first Gulf War, the Western-backed carve-up of Yugoslavia and NATO’s bombardment of Serbia, the 2003 Iraq invasion, the 2011 air onslaught on Libya to topple Gaddafi, and the ongoing bloodbath in Syria.

The Turkish ruling elite, including under Erdogan and his AKP during their first decade in power, supported the succession of US wars and tried to advance its own interests through them. But the many shifts in US policy frequently cut across their interests and ambitions.

With Syria matters came to a head. Initially Erdogan enthusiastically supported the US fomented regime-change war in Syria and Ankara was a major co-sponsor of the Islamist militias that spearheaded the drive to overthrow Bashar al-Assad and his Baathist regime. But Turkey was incensed when, once those militias had been pushed back, the US forged an alliance with the YPG, a Syrian offshoot of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), against which Ankara has waged a brutal counter-insurgency war for over three decades. It was within this context that Turkey orchestrated a rapprochement with Russia and intensified cooperation with Iran.

For Turkey, rolling back the proto-state that the YPG has established in northern Syria remains the overriding goal of its Syria policy. Toward this end it has repeatedly sent forces into Syria, while maintaining a shaky alliance of convenience with Moscow and Tehran, and cooperating with them in the so-called Astana Syrian “peace process.”
The Pentagon meanwhile continues to rely on the YPG to provide a base for its predatory operations in Syria, including by denying the Assad regime access to the country’s most important oil fields.

The American national-security establishment has increasingly come to view Turkey as an obstacle to its goal of securing unbridled hegemony over the energy-rich and strategically critical Middle East. In a recent analysis published by the Arab Gulf States Institute, a Washington-based think tank, the authors argued that the Middle East is increasingly divided into three blocs: the Sunni Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia, an Iran-led alliance that includes Hezbollah, and a Turkish-led bloc. “Turkey’s role at the epicenter of a new Middle East alliance was consolidated by the 2017 boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. Qatar has relied on Turkey, which maintains a military base in that country, for support against the boycott,” they add....

Commentary in pro-government Turkish media indicate the anger within elite circles over Washington’s failure to accommodate what they perceive as their vital interests, and their fears that the country that has been Ankara’s principal military-security partner for decades, can no longer be trusted. A common refrain is that if Turkey abandons the purchase of the S-400 and accepts Washington’s offer of the Patriot missiles, it could soon face additional US conditions, including making accommodations on Israel or Syria.

Turkish ruling circles also responded angrily to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s attendance at an energy summit involving Israel, Greece, and Cyprus in Jerusalem March 20. Long-standing territorial disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean bound up with the Cyprus conflict, which pits a Turkish-recognised regime in the north of the island against the internationally-recognised Greek Cypriot government in Nicosia, have been compounded with the discovery of large natural gas resources under the sea floor.
That being said, Washington will undoubtedly bring tremendous pressure to bear on Ankara, including on the economic front. Just before Erdogan visits Moscow, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will travel to a NATO foreign ministers meeting, where he is due to meet with Pompeo.

Any attempt by Turkey to move closer to Russia or China, which has invested heavily in Turkey over recent years and sought to win Ankara over to its Belt and Road Initiative, would be fraught with conflicts. Ankara’s disputes with the Western powers notwithstanding, the Turkish bourgeoisie still relies overwhelmingly on capital from Europe to invest in domestic projects, and the European Union remains far and away Turkey’s most important export destination.

As shown by last Friday’s 5 percent depreciation of the Turkish lira after Erdogan denounced Trump’s Golan decision and the crashing of the Turkish currency last August after the Trump administration doubled its tariffs on Turkey’s steel and aluminium exports, Turkey’s ruling elite is extremely vulnerable to pressure from the major imperialist powers.

12--Trump backs court action to end health coverage for 25 million people

 

 According to a study issued earlier this month by the Urban Institute, based on fairly conservative assumptions about how the expansion of Medicaid would be rolled back, 20 million Americans would lose their health coverage, nearly three quarters of the total due to the cutback in Medicaid. Eleven million of those who would lose health coverage live in states won by Trump in the 2016 election.


The state-by-state breakdown showed that the largest number of people losing their health coverage would be in California (3.8 million), followed by Texas (1.7 million), Florida (1.54 million), Pennsylvania (858,000), Ohio (741,000), and Michigan (720,000). The uninsured population would more than double in 18 states, with the biggest percentage increases in Montana (177 percent), West Virginia (176 percent), Maine (165 percent) and Kentucky (151 percent).

A separate study by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that 52 million Americans have a pre-existing condition that could be used by insurance companies to deny them coverage in the event the ACA is declared unconstitutional. The majority of these are covered under group policies, usually connected to their jobs, which have been largely unaffected by the ACA....

The real attitude of the Democratic wing of the US ruling elite was voiced by the New York Times in a remarkable editorial published in its Tuesday print edition under the headline “Not All Medicare Cuts are Bad.” The editorial rebuked Democrats for “indiscriminate attacks” on the $845 billion cut in Medicare spending proposed in Trump’s 2020 budget, declaring, “But some cuts to Medicare make sense. Several sought by Mr. Trump closely resemble cuts that had been proposed by President Barack Obama.”

13--Tensions rise between US, Russia and China over Venezuelan coup

The latest US provocation has centered upon the arrival in Venezuela over the weekend of two Russian aircraft carrying approximately 100 military personnel. An Antonov An-124 cargo jet and an Ilyushin II-62 passenger plane landed on Saturday at the Maiquetía airport outside of Caracas.

The arrival of the relative handful of Russian military personnel triggered a flurry of denunciations from top Trump administration officials, who have been orchestrating the bid to bring down the Venezuelan government.

White House national security adviser John Bolton declared that the US “will not tolerate hostile foreign military powers meddling” within the Western Hemisphere.
Earlier this month, Bolton invoked the Monroe Doctrine as the foundation of US policy in Venezuela. This 19th century declaration of US foreign policy initially was directed at opposing any attempts by the empires of Europe to recolonize newly independent republics in Latin America. In the 20th century, it was invoked by successive US governments as a license for US imperialism to use military force to impose its will throughout the hemisphere, resulting in some 50 direct armed interventions and the imposition of fascist-military dictatorships over much of South and Central America.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, in a March 25 telephone conversation, that Washington would “not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela,” according to a spokesman for the State Department...

The State Department called the arrival of the Russian troops a “reckless escalation” of tensions in Venezuela, adding that “The continued insertion of Russian military personnel to support the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela risks prolonging the suffering of the Venezuelan people…”

What hypocrisy! Washington has imposed an ever-escalating wave of sanctions that have gravely exacerbated the intense crisis of the country’s economy, with Venezuelan working people paying the price. A Trump administration official briefing reporters last Friday boasted: “The effect of the sanctions is continuing and cumulative. It’s sort of like in Star Wars when Darth Vader constricts somebody’s throat, that’s what we are doing to the regime economically,”

14--Every liberal cable channel switches from Russiagate to health care after they get marching orders from Pelosi video

The cynicism never stops CNN is not a news station, it's a superpac.

15--North Korea’s Kim appears to have a big goal: Winning Belt and Road investments from Beijing  Jan 11 2019   before Hanoi

  • North Korea is hungry for foreign investments, particularly in infrastructure, as its government focuses on economic development.
  • It “would love to be part of Belt and Road,” said Dane Chamorro of consulting firm Control Risks.
  • While China may be open to the idea, experts say it’s unlikely to offer the isolated state membership anytime soon.
  •  
16--With Kim’s Visit, China Shows U.S. It Has Leverage on Trade

17--Was the CIA involved in the NK breakin?


(Tim Shorrock tweet--
So we're regime changers probably working with CIA and trying to sabotage the Korea peace process so please don't scrutinize us anymore. "The group asked international media to stop paying attention to its structure and members for security reasons.")

Noted North Korea-watcher Andrei Lankov, a professor at the South’s Kookmin University, wrote on NK News last week that the CIA could be providing support to Free Joseon. He said this is indicated by the awkward Korean used in the group’s official pronouncements, which appears to be written by Korean-Americans.

Possible involvement by U.S. intelligence agencies in covert efforts against Kim’s regime could undermine the Trump administration’s attempts to engage the North on denuclearization, which have been strained by U.S. attempts to play up human rights violations in the country.

Only last week, the U.S. State Department earmarked up to $6 million for human rights-related projects in North Korea, and further sanctions were placed on key regime figures last year for alleged abuses


18--

A Very Incomplete List of Sinister Things Vladimir Putin/Russia/‘the Russians’ Have Been Accused of Doing



.19--Ahead of Vote, Turkey's Erdogan Says US Attacking Economy

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is accusing the United States and other western nations of attacking Turkey's economy ahead of Sunday's local elections.







 





Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Today's Links

And just for future reference: documenting the falsehoods, baseless conspiracies, and deceitful narratives being peddled without dissent by the major corporate media isn't "blogging" or "media criticism." It's journalism. It's reporting. And it's vital." glenn greenwald

 

The Mueller report has left the Democratic Party in shambles. Its effort to either remove Trump or force him to adopt a more belligerent policy toward Russia have resulted only in strengthening the Trump administration and the Republicans. The Democrats’ response, signaled by an editorial in Monday's New York Times that recycles all the lies about Russian “meddling” and “sowing discord,” will be to double down on its anti-Russia campaign and lurch even further to the right." WSWS

 

Say what???  Democratic voters, for instance, are split on the question of whether Mueller found evidence that Trump or his campaign conspired with Russia. (Barr’s letter says he didn’t.) Politico-morning consult poll 


 

 

 

 

1--Turkey under attack?   Turkey On Verge Of Collapse As Overnight Swaps Hit 700%, CDS Soar

 

Regime change?



2--Turkey election

 

As Turkey prepares for Sunday's local elections...While in many countries local polls are seen as lesser contests to general or presidential elections, in Turkey, they are a crucial barometer for the ruling party and can see vast resources reallocated as control of major cities shifts...

 The elections, which will be the last nationwide polls before joint presidential and parliamentary elections due in 2023, are being held as the country faces an economic crisis that has tested support for the AK Party.

 

3--Nasrallah warns, "West Bank is next"

 

“After the Golan [Heights recognition], we have to expect, on any given day and hour, that Trump will emerge on the Arab and Islamic worlds and declare recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank,” he added.

 

4--Integrity Initiative--Europe-wide anti-Russia influence campaigns while posing as a simple disinformation-fighting charity

 

 (Massive, far-reaching government-funded disinformation organisation aimed at demonizing Russia?)

So there we have it in black and white, in an official Whitehall document - IS a UK government program. Quelle surprise, but nice to have it incontrovertibly confirmed. @AlanDuncanMP, think you've got some major explaining/resigning to do.
NGOs under umbrella of government grants

The latest batch reveals a UK-funded program called the EXPOSE Network, which aimed to "upskill" existing “counter-disinformation” organizations by offering grants and training, while their activities would then be coordinated with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to "ensure effectiveness."

Organizations named in the proposal for the project included the UK-based Bellingcat, the Prague-based European Values think tank, and the Digital Forensic Research Lab (a project of the arms-manufacturer-funded Atlantic Council). The hackers claim it was these groups and a couple of others which were among the "most eager" to receive nearly £10 million ($13.2 million) in potential government funding, which would be dished out over three years between the summer of 2018 and March 2021.

Contractors taking part in the FCO project should be able to "handle sensitive information,” have an "awareness of acting on behalf of HMG" (Her Majesty’s Government), and must sign a "strict" non-disclosure agreement. Contractors should also be able to ensure that the network's outputs are “used by a wide range of media outlets” and “gain prominence on social media.”..

This particular project was to be "undertaken outside direct government control to minimize the inevitable accusation of being part of an orchestrated state-sponsored active measure."

5--Papadopoulos: Russia collusion ‘hoax’ was ‘basically fabricated’ by Western intelligence 

 

Classic entrapment in order to spy on Trump campaign

 

No longer bound by a gag order, former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has gone public about his Mueller probe conviction, describing the Russia collusion narrative as a ‘hoax’ manufactured by intelligence agencies.  

Speaking to Fox News on Tuesday, Papadopoulos explained that the FBI had tried to pressure him to “admit” that he had told someone at the Trump campaign about his conversations with a shadowy professor, Joseph Mifsud. Painted as a Russian agent by the FBI, Mifsud told Papadopoulos during a London meeting that Russia had possession of Hillary Clinton’s emails. The professor went missing in September 2018.

 

“Because if I had told anyone in the campaign, it would have been a conspiracy, but it would have been based on Western intelligence basically fabricating the entire thing,” he said.
“As I am talking to Mueller’s people and they are trying to get me to say something that I know is not true, I just couldn’t. I had to stick to the facts, the truth.”
The 31-year-old was framed as the cornerstone of the Trump campaign’s alleged collaboration with the Kremlin, after he supposedly told Australian diplomat, Alexander Downer, that Russia had Clinton's emails.
But Papadopoulos told ‘Fox & Friends’ that he never discussed the issue with Downer.
“I actually was the one who reported Downer to both the FBI and Bob Mueller because of his very bizarre, strange behavior during my meeting with him. He was pulling his phone out, he was recording me. It was very bizarre,” he said.

Ultimately, Mueller’s probe into alleged Russia collusion was a “hoax,” Papadopoulos said, but he wasn’t allowed to comment on it until after he was sentenced.
Papadopoulos is currently promoting a book about his experience, “Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump.”
Mueller’s nearly two-year probe, which ended on Friday, concluded that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Curiously, investigators charged Papadopoulos with “lying in order to conceal his contacts with Russians and Russian intermediaries” – an allegation which the former Trump official is now disputing

6--European Union intensifies internet censorship

 

7--Why was the New Zealand terrorist attack not prevented?

 

Canberra and Wellington have refused to explain why the state did not prevent Tarrant’s attack despite his many public statements voicing hatred of immigrants, Muslims and socialists, including threats of violence. The New Zealand police and government insist that Tarrant flew “under the radar” and acted alone, despite his claims that he interacted with many extreme nationalist groups and had received a “blessing” for his attack from Norwegian far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik....

 Another 18-year-old man, who has not been publicly identified, has been charged with posting threats against the mosque on Facebook days before the massacre. Again, there has been no explanation of why police took no action until after the shooting.


For years, Tarrant posted comments on Facebook praising the fascist and anti-Islamic United Patriots Front in Australia and threatening to kill “Marxists and globalists.” Two days before his attack, “Four Corners” noted, the terrorist “flooded Facebook with posts on extreme right-wing themes… [and] posted photos on Twitter of guns and magazines covered with symbols of his fascist ideology.” None of this triggered any intervention by police.

The timeline of the day of the massacre raises an even more disturbing question: Why was Tarrant not stopped even after he publicly revealed his exact plans?

At midday, he posted links to his manifesto, which clearly identifies his targets, on Facebook. At 1:28 p.m. he shared the document on 8chan along with a message saying he would carry out an “attack against the invaders,” and links to a livestream video. Three minutes later he emailed his manifesto to 70 email addresses, including the prime minister’s office and media organisations. He began live-streaming while driving carefully to the first of two mosques. Tarrant was clearly not worried about being intercepted: his gun is visible in the car and his GPS navigation system can be clearly heard directing him to the first of two mosques. The attack began at 1:40 p.m.

As Robert Evans, an analyst from the Bellingcat think tank, told “Four Corners”, anyone monitoring the neo-Nazi forum would have seen Tarrant’s message and video and “could have reached out to law enforcement in New Zealand and warned them about what was going to happen and cut down the response time before armed police units arrived to intercept them, significantly.”...

The GCSB is part of the Five Eyes network, led by the US National Security Agency, which also includes the spy agencies of Australia, Britain and Canada. As whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed, the NSA and its partners spy on billions of communications all over the world and share information with each other.
There is no innocent explanation for the fact that these agencies, with multi-billion dollar budgets and vast powers and capabilities, failed to monitor Tarrant. The gunman travelled to several countries in Europe, as well as Pakistan, North Korea and, according to some reports, Afghanistan, countries that are under heavy surveillance

8--The media and the Mueller report


Those responsible—from the editorial offices of the major media outlets to the decision-makers in the Democratic Party—knowingly lied, while serving as conduits for factions of the CIA, the NSA and the FBI, whose opposition to the fascistic Trump was of a thoroughly right-wing character. They opposed Trump and sought either to remove him or politically cripple him on the grounds that he was insufficiently belligerent toward Russia and too reluctant to escalate military action in Syria and elsewhere....

he director of national intelligence under Obama, James Clapper, who lied to Congress about NSA domestic spying, and Obama's CIA director, John Brennan, who defended CIA torture programs and lied to Congress about CIA hacking of Senate Intelligence Committee computers, have been omnipresent on the airwaves denouncing Trump as a Russian stooge. These people were engaged in a massive political conspiracy...

The mechanism by which the mainstream media promoted Russiagate was to publish “news” articles composed of assertions by national security officials and experts, unusually anonymous, without any factual substantiation of their claims. The same intelligence agencies that dragged the American people into the illegal invasion of Iraq, which cost hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives and thousands of American ones, on the basis of the Big Lie of Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction,” were presented as unassailable sources of truth.
The Democratic Party based its opposition to Trump on this right-wing campaign, while at the same time collaborating with the White House in passing near-record military budgets and opposing any popular mobilization against tax cuts for the rich or the persecution and mass imprisonment of immigrants. It combined anti-Russia hysteria with the #MeToo witch hunt, aimed at promoting racial and gender politics to divide the working class, undermine core democratic principles such as the presumption of innocence and due process, and consolidate support for imperialist war within privileged layers of the upper-middle class.


9--It was the media itself that lended credence to Trump's charge that they are the fake media, it's the media itself that broadcast to everyone  that "you don't need to trust us, because we are not trustworthy". 

 

10--Trump was open to temporary sanctions relief in Hanoi: Choe Son Hui

New details emerge from March 15 DPRK foreign ministry briefing on the American position at Hanoi

U.S. President Donald Trump was open to providing temporary sanctions relief to North Korea at last month’s Hanoi summit, a DPRK vice foreign minister told diplomats and reporters at a briefing on March 15, translated transcripts and notes seen by NK News indicates. Trump’s alleged flexibility on sanctions relief was not reported by English language media attending the briefing at the time, despite it providing new light on the reasons why Pyongyang believed talks fell apart in Hanoi.

“During the summit, President Trump with a flexible gesture suggested to meet our requirements by adding one sentence to the declaration about (how) sanctions will be restored when DPRK resumes and restarts (its) nuclear activities,” a translated transcript seen by NK News reveals Choe Son Hui to have said.

Trump said sanctions “might be lifted” if Pyongyang continued refraining from testing nuclear devices and intercontinental ballistic missiles, a secondary summary of Choe’s Korean language remarks seen by NK News showed.
However, State Secretary Pompeo and Chief Advisor John Bolton created an obstacle so that (the) summit could not conclude any meaningful result,” the transcript read.
The secondary summary said Pompeo and Bolton “uttered rude words,” which went “counter to the President’s intention.”

Choe’s remarks about Trump at the press conference, notably, appears consistent with information earlier gained by NK News regarding U.S. preparation for the Hanoi meeting with Kim Jong Un.
About a month ahead of the summit, NK News understood from an informed source that the U.S. was considering partial sanctions relief through a “snapback” mechanism which would see UN Security Council measures reverted to current levels in the event of non-compliance towards denuclearization by the DPRK.

10   8--Kim Yong un's only way forward

Seeking new negotiating partner?

Another “new way” could be for the North to promote its own denuclearization timetable and to negotiate with its allies, China and Russia, who are permanent members of the UN Security Council. The permanent members, which also include France, the UK and the US, hold the power to veto resolutions.

“Pursuing the denuclearization commitment with China or Russia could also mean negotiating with the international society. If Kim takes dismantling actions and its allies verify it, how would UNSC be able to maintain its sanctions against the North?” Hong said, adding that international organizations would also have to be involved in the verification process....

Park Won-gon of Handong University also said that Kim’s new way could refer to strengthening relations with China, so that he can follow his own timetable on denuclearization.

“From North Korea’s perspectives, it is taking denuclearizing actions, in its own way, following its own timetable. So if the talks with the US fail, it could take an entirely different way to make a deal with China or Russia and obtain part of its sanctions off,” Park said.

 

11--Taibbi: As the Mueller Probe Ends, New Russiagate Myths Begin

 

“[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

 

After the 2016 election, the storyline instantly became that Trump was an illegitimate president, a foreign operative who’d cheated his way into office and would therefore need to be removed ahead of schedule.

 

Beyond the failure to “establish” Trump had colluded or coordinated with Russia, the letter had (despite news reports to the contrary today) a good deal to say on the obstruction issue.
The report’s most-quoted line read, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

In essence, Mueller punted the question of obstruction back to Barr, who together with Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein has already decided the report didn’t provide enough evidence to support a criminal charge in any of the “number of actions” committed by Trump that raised the specter of obstruction.
This isn’t surprising, given that Barr is a Trump appointee. The Atlantic is one of many outlets to have already cried foul about this (“Barr’s Startling and Unseemly Haste” is the name of one piece). But Barr’s letter includes a telling detail from Mueller himself on this issue (emphasis mine):

In making this determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,” and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction…

In other words, it was Mueller, not Barr, who concluded there was no underlying crime, so if the next stage of this madness is haggling over an obstruction charge, that would likely entail calling for a prosecution of Trump for obstructing an investigation into what even Mueller deemed non-crime.
 

12--Poll: Nearly half still think Trump obstructed Russian probe

 

The poll shows a plurality of voters, 47 percent, think Trump “tried to impede or obstruct the investigation into whether his campaign had ties to Russia” — despite the fact that Special Counsel Robert Mueller didn't reach a decision on the question. Thirty-nine percent don’t think Trump tried to impede the investigation

 

His approval rating in the poll remains underwater — 42 percent approve of the job he is doing, compared to 55 percent of voters who disapprove of the job he is doing — which is essentially unchanged over the past few weeks....

 

The poll was conducted March 25-26, beginning the day after the public release of Barr’s letter, which said that Mueller did not find that Trump’s campaign coordinated with the Russian government to affect the election.

 

Democratic voters, for instance, are split on the question of whether Mueller found evidence that Trump or his campaign conspired with Russia. (Barr’s letter says he didn’t.)

At the same time, a plurality of Republicans think Mueller found that Trump “did not obstruct the investigation.” (Barr’s letter says Mueller neither accused Trump of committing an obstruction crime nor exonerated him.)

Just 39 percent — 65 percent of Democrats, 10 percent of Republicans and 35 percent of independents — say Congress should continue to investigate whether Trump’s campaign worked with Russia in the 2016 election. But more voters, 47 percent, say Congress should not continue to investigate the campaign, including 20 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of independents.

 13--Russiagate, RIP

 

The outcome is no surprise to those who scrutinized the facts as they emerged. Time and again, the available evidence undermined the case for such a conspiracy. None of the characters presented to us as Russian “agents” or Trump-Kremlin “intermediaries” were shown to be anything of the sort. None of the lies that Trump aides or allies were caught telling pointed us toward the collusion that members of the media and political figures insisted they were hiding. None of the various pillars of Russiagate—the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting; the fanciful assertions of the Steele dossier; the anonymously sourced media claims, such as Trump campaign members’ having “repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials”—ever led us to damning evidence. And all of that is likely why Mueller never charged anyone with involvement in (or covering up) a Trump-Russia conspiracy. 

 

A minimally responsible media and political class would have acknowledged this reality. Instead, leading voices from cable news, Congress, and other influential perches promoted Russiagate by ignoring the countervailing evidence and those who pointed it out. They filled in the evidentiary holes with supposition, innuendo, and outright falsehood. That helps to explain the sizable number of discredited or retracted media reports that advanced the notion of a Trump-Russia plot, culminating in the final collapse of that narrative. 

 

14--‘Someone Like Mueller’ Must Probe Trump Campaign Wiretapping - Lindsey Graham

 

15--Michelle packs the Tacoma Dome  

 

It's just a book tour. Really!

 

16--Tim Shorrock on Korea

 

Where the U.S.-DPRK talks go after the failure in Hanoi to reach even an interim agreement, such as opening liaison offices, depends very much on how President Donald Trump can control his national security team and ameliorate the differences between John Bolton and Stephen Beigun.

From everything I’ve read about the summit, Kim Jong-un was expecting that Beigun’s more realistic step-by-step approach (outlined in his recent speech in Stanford) would prevail. That would have allowed both sides to make progress in their shared commitments, as expressed in Singapore last June, to creating a new U.S.-DPRK relationship and building a long-term peace regime on the Korean Peninsula—and signal that North could move towards denuclearization.

17--Russiagate -- a Bright, Shining Lie 

 

The Mueller investigation employed 19 lawyers and 40 FBI agents. It took two years. It issued 2,800 subpoenas. It executed 500 search warrants. It interviewed 500 witnesses. And it failed to indict a single member of Trump’s campaign for collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
Which raises this question:
If Mueller could find no collusion, after an exhaustive two-year search, what was the compelling evidence that caused James Comey’s FBI and Barack Obama’s Department of Justice to believe that such collusion had occurred and to launch this investigation...
 
He has had a cloud over his presidency since he gave his inaugural address. Any ability the president had to fulfill his campaign pledge and negotiate with the largest country on earth, Russia, a superpower rival, has had to be put off.
Is it unfair to ask: Who did this to us?
Who led the Justice Department into believing Trump conspired with the Russians? Why did it take two years to discover there was no collusion? Who gave Putin and the GRU this victory by helping to tear our own country apart?

18--Sorry, But Obama White House, Not Dossier, Was Behind Trump Investigation may 2018

 

Did the Obama administration spy on the Donald Trump campaign because it feared Russian hacking of the 2016 election? Or was it merely a smokescreen to cover up the real reason: to keep Trump from winning the presidency or take him down if he did?...

 

There is what he calls "The Original Origination Story" that involves little-known Trump adviser Carter Page. He visited Moscow in July 2016, three months after hooking on to the Trump campaign.
According to former MI6 British spy Christopher Steele's now infamous dossier on Trump, Page's trip was when the alleged Trump-Russia plan to hack the Democratic National Committee was born.
The only problem is, the Steele dossier has been exposed as a fanciful product of the Clinton campaign and the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which hired Steele. And the main assertions were based on hearsay from Russian officials, and never validated.

Even so, the FBI and Justice Department used the dossier to apply to the FISA court to tap Page's communications and, as a result, much of the rest of the Trump campaign.

In doing so, the FBI broke its own rules and, worse, the Obama Justice Department withheld the fact from the FISA court that the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee were responsible for the dossier....

Then there was what McCarthy calls "Origination Story 2.0."
This involves George Papadopoulos, a young, also little-known Trump aide. At a May 2016 meeting in a London pub, he told Australian diplomat Alexander Downer about an academic named Josef Mifsud with Kremlin ties who told Papadopoulos that the Kremlin had a huge number of emails that could be damaging to Hillary Clinton.
Democrats point to this as proof that Trump had colluded to hack the DNC. But as McCarthy notes, there's a major flaw in that logic: "If Russia already had the emails and was alerting the Trump campaign to that fact, the campaign could not have been involved in the hacking."
Moreover, Democrats insist Mifsud's comments about emails referred to the DNC emails that were, in fact, hacked by Russians.
But that's not the case. Papadopoulos has said he thought Mifsud was talking about the more than 30,000 emails that Hillary Clinton "accidentally" had deleted from her illegal unsecured home email server.

rather than telling the Trump campaign about their concerns, or even moving against the Russians, the Justice Department and the FBI starting treating Trump's campaign like a criminal enterprise.
Instead of continuing to interview Page, or Manafort, or Papadopoulos, they inserted a spy, Stefan Halper, in the campaign, and tapped its phones. It had the earmarks of a political hit, not an actual investigation.
As for the CIA, another line of inquiry finds they also were busy early on pursuing Trump.
George Neumayr, writing in The American Spectator, notes that CIA Director John Brennan used the flimsy excuse of a tip from the Estonian intelligence agency that Putin was giving money to the Trump campaign to form an "inter-agency taskforce" on supposed Trump-Russia collusion in 2016. It met at CIA headquarters, spy central.

The Estonian tip didn't pan out, but the task force remained.
"Both before and after the FBI's official probe began in late July 2016," wrote Neumayr, "Brennan was bringing together into the same room at CIA headquarters a cast of Trump haters across the Obama administration whose activities he could direct — from Peter Strzok, the FBI liaison to Brennan, to the doltish (Director of National Intelligence) Jim Clapper, Brennan's errand boy, to an assortment of Brennan's buddies at the Treasury Department, Justice Department, and White House."
It eventually led, on July 31, 2016, to the creation FBI's "Crossfire Hurricane" program to spy against the Trump campaign....

What we're discovering is that the investigations and spying on the Trump campaign for evidence of possible collusion with Russia appear to have begun well before the CIA and FBI said they did.
And it all arose from progressive, pro-Hillary embeds deep within the Deep State and at the top of key Obama agencies, people who could use their positions of supposed Olympian objectivity to mask their political bias — and to ignore years of evidence that Hillary Clinton had colluded with the Russians for her own financial benefit.
As McCarthy concluded: "The Trump-Russia investigation did not originate with Page or Papadopoulos. It originated with the Obama administration."