Monday, April 8, 2019

Today's Links

"Trump-Russia was a scam and a circus. It was based on a phony pretext, & sustained itself via spectacle. The sooner we can accept that, the sooner we can repair its damage: to the credibility of those who peddled it, and to the politics of the country that got consumed by it." aaron mate




1--Devon Nunes--Finally-8 criminal referrals to AG Barr


2--Secret Document Outlines US-Israel Plan For Syria-Style War in Lebanon: Report


The document presents an alleged US plan to splinter the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF), a domestic institution separated from the Lebanese Army. This would be carried out by an $200 million investment in the ISF. The money would be “disguised” as a means to keep peace, but $2.5 million would be specifically designated to create a conflict against Hezbollah.




4--Brennan, the mastermind?


“in a Dec. 12, 2016 text, [FBI lawyer Lisa] Page wrote to McCabe: “Btw, Clapper told Pete that he was meeting with Brennan and Cohen for dinner tonight. Just FYSA [for your situational awareness].”

“Within a minute, McCabe replied, “OK.”
Ms. Herridge notes that those named are likely Peter Strzok and Mr. Brennan’s then-deputy, David Cohen. Ms. Herridge also notes that while we don’t yet know what was discussed during the dinner, government sources thought it “irregular” for Mr. Clapper to be in contact with the more junior-level Mr. Strzok. She also points out that the text came “during a critical time for the Russia probe.”

Indeed. It was right before the publication of the ICA, the official Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian 2016 election interference.
As Paul Sperry has reported, “A source close to the House investigation said Brennan himself selected the CIA and FBI analysts who worked on the ICA, and that they included former FBI counterespionage chief Peter Strzok.
“Strzok was the intermediary between Brennan and Comey, and he was one of the authors of the ICA,” according to the source.” Recall that the dossier-based ICA was briefed to Obama, Trump and Congress ahead of Trump’s inauguration.
Post-Mueller report, Mr. Brennan is spinning wildly that perhaps his early condemnations of Mr. Trumpwere based on “bad information.”
These are just some of the threads suggesting Mr. Brennan may be one of the Masters of the Big Lie, requiring full investigation.

5--Rising number of Michigan and US households unable to afford basic necessities


6--Trump calls for more cheap money for financial markets


7--Obama, Pelosi push Democrats further to the right


Former President Obama sounded the same theme in remarks Saturday to a town hall organized by the Obama Foundation in Berlin, where he discussed the rise of the ultra-right in Europe and internationally and warned against any shift to the left in response to it. He denounced “left” critics of the Democratic Party leadership for undermining party unity.

“One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States…is a certain kind of rigidity, where we say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, this is how it’s going to be,’” he said. “And then we start sometimes creating what’s called a ‘circular firing squad’ where you start shooting at your allies because one of them is straying from purity on the issues.”...

Meanwhile, the House Democratic leadership is moving to clip the wings of Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and a handful of other “lefts” in the party caucus. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has enacted a new policy barring DCCC funds for any polling or consulting firm that works for a primary challenger to an incumbent Democrat. The goal is to prevent any repetition of the campaigns by Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, who defeated more conservative incumbent Democrats in safe Democratic seats in New York City and Boston.

8--Washington's lies to Turkey dampen chances for peace in syria

The broken American promises to Ankara made the latter change its attitude toward Washington, which had promised to withdraw the YPG terrorists from the occupied areas east of the Euphrates and Manbij, where Arabs are a majority. Instead, it sent more U.S. troops to protect the YPG there.

It is no secret the misinformation the United States offered to its strategic ally Turkey was designed to buy as much time possible until the separatist project Washington is preparing to divide Syria is complete. This project will most certainly be copied in the other countries in the region, whether Arab or not, especially those that have an ethnic overlap between their populations.

The failure of the United States to abide by its previous commitments has made it the cause of the problems and tension with Turkey. It did the opposite of its commitments, especially when it came to the area east of the Euphrates and in Manbij. Therefore, Washington's request now that Ankara abandon the purchase of the Russian-made S-400 system and replace them with the American-made Patriots raises many questions about trust in the U.S....

The failure of Washington to implement the Manbij agreement leaves millions of Arabs east of the Euphrates to an unknown fate and as possible targets of war crimes, according to Amnesty International. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the U.S. still considers the YPG/PKK its allies. Therefore it is not possible that Turkey will sever its relations with Russia

9--Gas Wars

Global developments reveal that for the foreseeable future Russian natural gas will remain an indispensable energy resource. In Europe alone, the increasing use of renewables for electricity generation results in higher consumption of natural gas needed to balance the grid when outages caused by wind and solar farms occur. Immune to European Commission calls to diversify gas sources, Russia's share of the European gas market increased from 30 percent in 2014 to 37 percent in 2018.
"Gas pipelines are built not for making someone angry, but out of economic necessity," said Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, when in Moscow this March.

10--China's win-win strategy in EU-US split

The project, championed by Xi Jinping since 2013, aims to connect China to the rest of the world from Asia to the Middle East, to Europe and Africa, by sea and land.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Italy, Monaco and France during his Europe tour between March 21 and 26. During the visit, Jinping held talks with the heads of these three countries, including Italy's President Giuseppe Conte and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Prince Albert II of Monaco, and French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Phillippe.

There are European countries like Albania and Bulgaria that are interested in engaging with the BRI – the biggest project of the 21st century. Given they are much smaller than both Italy and France in terms of economy, population, military and global penetration, it is understandable that both countries, among the poorest in Europe, would look for new investments and trade connections with any other country.

According to the Chinese authorities, the main motive behind this project is to revive trade and provide economic integration. In this respect, there are more than 60 countries engaged with the BRI. Furthermore, there are some states in the EU – the Czech Republic, Greece and Portugal – that signed have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
China's side would also expect to enhance relations with Italy, France and Monaco in many areas such as science and technology.

11--U.S. State department declines request for inter-Korean economic projects to be exempt from sanctions 


The U.S. State Department has declined a request from South Korean businesses asking that their ventures with North Korea at the Gaesong industrial complex be exempt from international sanctions.
Voice of America reported Saturday that in declining the request, the State Department said every UN member should take seriously their responsibility to help end North Korea's illegal weapons programs.
The committee representing companies that had businesses at Gaesong had said the livelihoods of more that 200 thousand Koreans are at stake.


12--How Everything Became the Culture War

America’s petty tribal arguments are now driving the bus on serious policy. Here’s why we should worry.

Policy skirmishes tend to metastasize into cultural battles when they involve identity issues, and after spending time on the campaign trail recently, I got the sense the next big Republican culture war will be a war on college. For generations, the notion of higher education as a ladder of opportunity for everyone has been an anodyne nonpartisan talking point, even if Democrats and Republicans disagreed on the appropriate levels of federal funding and regulation. But Republican attitudes are changing. In Ohio, I heard them talk about taxpayer-funded school bureaucrats who trick kids into believing that expensive and often useless liberal-indoctrination universities are the only way to get ahead in life; siphoning students away from vocational programs that could prepare them for well-paying jobs.

It’s probably not a coincidence that this shift is happening at a time when college-educated voters are trending Democratic and noncollege whites have been Trump’s most reliable constituency. Policies that hurt colleges, like policies that hurt cities, are policies that hurt Democrats. To listen to pols talk about college these days is to watch a wedge issue in its embryonic stage, as substantive questions about the cost and relevance of higher ed, the burdens of student debt, the adequacy of worker training and the power of political correctness on campus start to morph into red-meat attacks on pointy-headed elitists who look down on ironworkers and brainwash America’s youth. Republicans are starting to fit the Democratic push for universal free college into their larger critique of the Democratic urge to hand out free stuff to Democratic voters. And they’re portraying a liberal arts education as a culturally liberal thing, like kale or Kwanzaa or reusable shopping bags....

What they expressed concern about was illegal immigrants who commit crimes and demand handouts; the deep state; Democrats who want to steal from Medicare to fund Obamacare; and Antifa thugs. Even though their party controls Washington and Columbus, they believe they’re under siege; one 60-something farmer told me he’s afraid to speak out because “radical Democrats will burn your house down.” When I said that seemed unlikely in the rural expanses of Ashtabula County, he said I should check out the angry leftist millennials he’s seen when he’s visited the Ohio State campus, “wearing boots and backpacks and shouting stupid slogans.” I asked him whether he supports government spending on higher education for those millennials, and he shot back: “I’ll tell you what I don’t support: free college for illegals and higher taxes for me.”...

In a Pew Research Center survey, 47 percent of liberal Democrats said that if a friend supported Trump, it would put a strain on their friendship, and 68 percent of all Democrats said it’s “stressful and frustrating” to talk to Trump supporters. Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for governor of Florida, had to fire his youth outreach director for posing for an Instagram post while wearing a shirt featuring the 2016 electoral map, with blue states labeled “United States of America” and Trump states labeled “Dumbfuckistan.” It was a perfect manufactured-outrage episode for our time—needless to say, similar shirts on which the blue states are labeled Dumbfuckistan are available for purchase—but it did reflect a common Democratic disdain for Republican rubes in the provinces...

And since he’s abandoned his populist promises to crack down on Wall Street, build $1 trillion worth of infrastructure projects and get every American good health care, he’s doubling down on his racial and cultural messaging to his white working-class supporters, betting his attacks on the intelligence of LeBron James and CNN’s Don Lemon will overshadow his efforts to strip protections for pre-existing conditions and gut oversight of financial rip-offs. So far, it seems like a good bet...

The thing I remember most about Trump’s rallies in 2016, especially the auto-da-fé moments in which he would call out various liars and losers who didn’t look like the faces in his crowds, was how much fun everyone seemed to be having. The drill-baby-drill candidate would drill the Mexicans, drill the Chinese, drill the gun-grabbers, drill all the boring Washington politicians who had made America not-great. It sure as hell wasn’t boring. It was a showman putting on a show, a culture-war general firing up his internet troops. It wasn’t a real war, like the one that Trump skipped while John McCain paid an unimaginable price, but it made the spectators feel like they were not just spectating, like they had joined an exhilarating fight. They got the adrenaline rush, the sense of being part of something larger, the foxhole camaraderie of war against a common enemy, without the physical danger. 



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