Monday, February 18, 2019

Today's Links




"Unfortunately, the fact that the situation is quite uncertain as it was mentioned once again this afternoon. Americans said that they will withdraw, but their president says one thing, people working with him do something entirely different. We do not know how they will proceed, because of this, there is uncertainty."  Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov 



 

1--Imperialist conflicts dominate Munich Security Conference

 

US Vice President Mike Pence revealed the sharp differences between the US and Germany and other European powers.

Pence came directly from Warsaw, where he had forged an alliance with Israel, Poland and a number of Arab states to wage war against Iran. In Warsaw, Pence had ordered the United States’ European allies to “stand by our side” and threatened them indirectly with the breakup of the NATO alliance if they refused. “If you stand with us in this noble cause, we will stand with you,” he declared.
Pence spoke in the same arrogant commanding tone in Munich. He accused Iran of planning a new holocaust and seeking to obliterate Israel. He hinted that the US was preparing regime change in Tehran and demanded that Europe ditch its nuclear agreement with Iran and support American sanctions instead.

Pence also vehemently attacked the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is already under construction and connects Germany directly with Russia via the Baltic Sea. “We cannot ensure the defence of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East,” he threatened

2--Safe zone must be for Syrians, not protection for YPG terrorists


Stating that Turkey only postponed the operation to Syria after the U.S. decision to withdraw, Özkızılcık said that Ankara would unilaterally opt for launching an operation if its security needs are not me...

Agreeing with Orhan, Ali Çınar, the president of the U.S.-based Turkish Heritage Organization said that "The U.S. understands the safe zone as protecting YPG-PKK, however Turkey will not accept this format. Turkey was very clear from the beginning. Turkey has two clear objectives: Clearing the terrorist elements from the border and having refugees go back to Syria safely. 

Any moves that would lead to protection for YPG terrorists under the guise of a safe zone plan will not be accepted, Ankara says, further underlining that the proposed zone must be under Turkey's control

High-level U.S. officials have been signaling in recent remarks that the U.S. will seek the involvement of European countries in the process of forming a safe zone along Turkey's Syrian borders; yet Ankara has clearly stressed that a zone free from the PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG) should be set up under its control in order to establish security in a region grappling with instability. Since the presence of the YPG just on the other side of the border is a direct threat to Turkey, officials in Ankara have been stressing that a safe zone should be under the control of Turkey, which is the main party concerned in the issue....

. In relation to the period ahead after the withdrawal, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told journalists on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday that "We are asking other nations to join us and provide the resources and the support and the personnel necessary to secure the area and prevent [Daesh] or any other extremist organization from rising up and retaking their territory."...

"A 440-kilometers long (273-mile) safe zone in the east of Euphrates should be cleared of YPG terrorists and should be patrolled by Turkish forces," Akar said on Saturday highlighting Turkey's expectations.
Furthermore, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Friday at the Munich Security Conference that Trump would ask European countries to send troops to establish a safe zone in Syria.
"I'm hoping that President Trump will be coming to some of you and asking for your help and you'll say 'yes' and in return, the capability we have that's unique to the U.S. will still be in the fight in Syria," Graham said. He pointed out that Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would discuss the issue with his counterparts....

Graham said the YPG for Turkey is "an offshoot of the PKK," and that Turkey "will not withstand the YPG on their border."
"We owe it to Turkey, an ally, to fix this problem. We owe it to the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] not to leave and let another war come that could destroy them. Who will help us in the future if we do that? So we need a safe zone to deal with that problem," he added, clearly saying that the U.S. will continue to protect the terrorist group.

3--Over 300,000 Syrians returned home after Turkey's operations, interior minister says

 

The returns of Syrian refugees have been possible recently thanks to Turkey's two operations: Operation Olive Branch and Operation Euphrates Shield. Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016 to clear western Euphrates provinces such as al-Ban and Jarablus from Daesh and the PKK's Syrian affiliate People's Protection Units (YPG)...

 

Following the operations, Turkey continued its activities in the provinces by putting emphasis on reconstruction, infrastructure and the formation of local administrations. The end result is rewarding for Turkey as Syrian refugees who were displaced from the region started to return to their liberated hometowns and restart their lives.  ...


Soylu underlined that there are currently 3,644,342 Syrian refugees living in Turkey. The refugee flow to Turkey started at the beginning of Syrian crisis in 2011. So far, Turkey has spent some $30 billion for the needs of refugees living in tent camps as well as those living outside the camps on their own.

 

4--US won’t sell arms to Turkey, but gives freely to YPG, Erdoğan says

 

"What kind of NATO alliance is this? You give terrorists around 23,000 truckloads of weapons and tools through Iraq but when we asked, you won't even sell them to us," Erdoğan said during an election campaign rally in southwestern Turkey's Burdur.

Erdoğan said Turkey expects Syria's Manbij to be cleared of YPG terrorists and to be left to local people as soon as possible, as promised.

The June 2018 Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of YPG terrorists from the city to stabilize the region, which is located in the northern part of Syria's Aleppo province.
The president criticized countries "thousands of kilometers away" planning to conduct operations in Syria, while Turkey is constantly "under threat" with its 911-kilometer border with Syria....

In December, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw its troops from Syria, saying that Daesh was defeated. This development was quickly also interpreted as an intention to halt U.S. support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is an umbrella group consisting mostly of PKK-affiliated YPG terrorists....
The U.S., however, while listing the PKK as a terrorist group, opted to continue its steadfast militarily support for the terrorist organization under the pretext of fighting Daesh despite the warnings of its NATO ally

5--Fascinating interview Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov



 Do you believe the Americans are really pulling out of Syria?

A: The U.S. has become the most unpredictable country. For example our president is the president, he does what he says, and he makes others do what he says. The U.S. is in a deep crisis, we do understand the hardships they are going through, but we are also impatiently waiting.

Q: Even if they withdraw their soldiers, would they sustain their presence by other means?

A: Where will they pull out to, will someone else replace them, who will they leave the arms, will their presence continue? When they pull out, their presence will most probably not end, it will continue in some way. All these questions are on the agenda, the presidents are talking about them. The general attitude is the same, there is no reason for optimism, and uncertainty is troubling. And this situation is not helping the crisis in Syria and hope for a solution at all.

 unfortunately, the fact that the situation is quite uncertain as it was mentioned once again this afternoon. Americans said that they will withdraw, but their president says one thing, people working with him do something entirely different. We do not know how they will proceed, because of this, there is uncertainty....

 

a deal was signed in 1998 between Turkey and Syria.

Q: Adana agreement

A: Yes, according to the agreement, Turkey can carry out cross-border operations and doing so is deemed legal. Consequently, the legal ground is evident, and there is no need for a new ground.

Q: In a sense, does Kremlin signal to do an operation without establishing a safe zone by emphasizing the Adana agreement? And of course, there is the matter of pointing to the Damascus administration for a solution…

A: As you know, the agreement is already between Ankara and Damascus.

Q: In other words, is pointing to Damascus for a solution the most important message of the emphasis on the Adana Agreement? A: Of course. Damascus at the time said that if there is something bothering you, if you see terrorists on our soil, you can conduct a cross-border operation by entering to a certain degree. 

Why should we not benefit from this legal ground? We should most definitely benefit from it. Do we need another zone to do this? If yes, what should be the depth of this zone? All of these matters are being discussed between leaders and a solution is being sought. 


6--US Patriot offer not good enough for Turkey


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s comprehensive statements on Turkey’s determinacy in purchasing and deploying Russia’s sophisticated S-400 anti-ballistic missile systems have hit the headlines in recent days.

Erdoğan has informed that the systems will be deployed in July 2019, a few months earlier than scheduled, reiterating: “We made the S-400 deal with Russia, so it out of the question for us to turn back. That’s done.”

On questions about negotiations for the purchase of the U.S.-made Patriot air defense systems, Erdoğan implied that that the offer made by the Americans was not good enough.

A reaction to statements by Erdoğan was delivered by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who said: “We will not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries. We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East,” at the Munich Security Conference over the weekend....

Turkey seems to have closed the Patriot subject with the Americans while accelerating the S-400 deployment process. This may lead to important consequences in defense ties between the two countries as well as on political bonds.
Turkey’s deployment of S-400s would activate a new set of sanctions against Turkey and would complicate its continued participation to the F-35 project. Accompanied with a number of other problems stemming from Syria and the U.S. support to the YPG, the S-400s sale obviously constitutes yet another major challenge in front of Turkish-American relations in 2019.


 7--Doug Noland--Credit Bubble Bulletin


Bubbles have become a fundamental geopolitical device – a stratagem. Things have regressed to a veritable global Financial Arms Race. As China/U.S. trade negotiations seemingly head down the homestretch, each side must believe that rallying domestic markets beget negotiating power. Meanwhile, emboldened global markets behave as if they have attained power surpassing mighty militaries and even nuclear arsenals....

Today’s Bubble in leveraged lending and M&A is greater than 2006/2007. The Bubble in corporate Credit dwarfs that from the mortgage finance Bubble period. Excesses throughout the securities markets phenomenally exceed those from the prior Bubble period. Moreover, I suspect the current level of derivatives-related speculative leverage could be multiples of 2007....

Policymakers continue to throw enormous stimulus at global markets and economies. Instead of stabilization, we’ve witnessed ongoing Bubble inflation and intensifying Monetary Disorder. And the more Bubbles inflate, the greater the underlying financial and economic fragilities – and the quicker the Fed was to conclude “normalization” and China was to, once again, aggressively spur lending. ...

U.S. small business optimism tumbled last month to its lowest level since President Donald Trump’s election more than two years ago amid growing uncertainty over the economic outlook.
The outlook for Wall Street earnings has deteriorated significantly in recent months, data shows, raising the risk that companies in the United States may slip into recession before its economy does – with Europe close behind.

8-- Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media “Just the Beginning,” Says Top Neocon Insider

 

 9--The U.S. deputy attorney general discussed how many cabinet members would support removing U.S. President Donald Trump from office in 2017, the FBI's former acting director said in an interview airing Sunday.

Andrew McCabe said invoking the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was raised by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after Trump fired FBI director James Comey on May 9, 2017.

"Rod raised the issue and discussed it with me in the context of thinking about how many other cabinet officials might support such an effort," McCabe told CBS's "60 Minutes" news show.

A clip of that part of the interview was run early Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation" show, the first time McCabe's actual comments on the explosive subject have been aired.


10--Turkey awaits full implementation of Manbij deal, enhancing efforts with US

 

11--Russia Probe Backfire



Sharyl: In the simplest of terms if possible, what do you think is the story that's been uncovered in the past two years?

Sidney Powell: That the entire Russia collusion narrative was made up. That the FBI and the intelligence community and the Department of Justice began an investigation against four American citizens simply because they worked for the opposition political candidate, that being Donald Trump.

Powell, who calls herself politically independent, served as an assistant prosecutor under nine U.S. Attorneys, both Democrats and Republicans. Where many see “Russia collusion” she sees systemic corruption inside the Justice Department and intelligence community. A topic she writes about in “Licensed to Lie.” Crucial evidence, Powell claims, lies within these little-reported court documents— where our intel agencies get lambasted— not by partisans, but by the lead judge in the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Sidney Powell: —A 99-page opinion, in which she is taking the FBI to task for having given unlimited, unsupervised access to raw intelligence, that means the database of everything the NSA, the National Security Agency, collects on everybody. Word searches, keystrokes, what do you look at in Google, telephone information, calls, texts, you name it. Everything, every nightmare anybody has of information being collected by big brother, the FBI gave three private contractors unlimited, unsupervised access to that as far back as 2015.

In an opinion dated October 2016, Judge Rosemary Collyer writes that an Inspector General found the FBI and National Security Agency—NSA—had committed “widespread” violations of key protections for Americans. And because they waited to notify the court until days before the election— many months after government watchdogs discovered the abuses— Collyer said the NSA was guilty of “institutional ‘lack of candor’ ” and “This is a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”



 



 



Saturday, February 16, 2019

Today's links

  The “communications of Roger Stone with Wikileaks” were revealed a year ago. They show WL urging Stone to stop making “false claims of association” between them:   aaron mate, twitter

 

"McCabe confirms that the Comey firing created a retaliatory investigation based on nothing more than the Steele dossier. It’s unbelievable — it was about overturning an election by the holdover bureaucrats." mark penn, twitter

 

 "The Warsaw summit was part of a stillborn project with no real connection to the situation on the ground. Sochi, by contrast, represented an effort to foster international cooperation to end bloodshed." The Daily Sabah

 

 

 

 

 

1--Tulsi Gabbard introduces bill to uphold INF treaty (to prevent nuclear annihilation)

 

Gabbard said she was introducing the bill, called the “INF Treaty Compliance Act,” not only to prevent the escalation of a new Cold War, but to “stop more American taxpayer dollars from being wasted on military adventurism that makes our people and our country less safe.”

 

2--How BBC depicted staged hospital scenes as proof of Douma chemical attack--Fake news to promote corporate war agenda

 

Riam Dalati is on the BBC production team based in Beirut and describes himself, on his Twitter page, as an “esteemed colleague” of Quentin Sommerville, the BBC’s Middle East correspondent. Dalati broke ranks with his UK Government-aligned media, on Twitter, to announce that “after almost 6 months of investigation, I can prove, without a doubt, that the Douma hospital scene was staged.”...

 

he tweeted out his frustration that “activists and rebels” had used “corpses of dead children to stage emotive scenes for Western consumption.” The emotive wording of Dalati’s tweet, he was “sick and tired” of such manipulation of events, suggested that this was not the first time children had been used as props in a macabre war theatre designed to elicit public sympathy for escalated military intervention in Syria disguised as a necessary “humanitarian” crack down on “Assad’s gassing of his own people.”...

 

Robert Stuart, has made it his life’s work to present a compelling argument that “sequences filmed by BBC personnel and others at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on August 26, 2013 purporting to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a nearby school are largely, if not entirely, staged.”  

 

3--Mueller cheated on FISA warrants

 

there was a pattern of some incidents of omission that were of concern to the FISA court that resulted in former Director Mueller actually appearing before the FISA court

,Robert Mueller,  the former FBI director and current special prosecutor in the Russia case, once was hauled before the nation’s secret intelligence court to address a large number of instances in which the FBI cheated on sensitive surveillance warrants, according to evidence gathered by congressional investigators....

thanks to recent testimony from a former FBI lawyer, we now have a rare window into documented abuses of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants and how the courts handled the matter....

The sin that plagued the FBI two decades ago, and that now lingers over the Russia case, involves the omission of material facts by agents applying for FISA warrants in sensitive counterterrorism and counterintelligence cases.
Such omissions are a serious matter at the FISC, because it is the one court in America where the accused gets no representation or chance to defend himself. And that means the FBI is obligated to disclose evidence of both guilt and innocence about the target of a FISA warrant....

we know from sources that the FBI had other evidence suggesting the innocence of two Trump campaign aides it targeted — Page and George Papadopoulos — that wasn’t provided to the court.

4--Is Trump backtracking on promise to withdrawal? Senator Lindsey Graham says the US is looking for its allies to deploy hundreds of troops to Syria following the withdrawal of American soldiers from the Arab country.


Senator Lindsey Graham says the US is looking for its allies to deploy hundreds of troops to Syria following the withdrawal of American soldiers from the Arab country.
Speaking on a panel discussion at the 2019 Munich Security Conference on Friday, Graham announced that US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford would call on Washington's partners during the event to send forces to Syria.

Dunford, he said, “would be coming to some of you in this room, and he will be asking for a contribution of forces to stabilize the region, post destruction of the caliphate,” established by the Daesh terrorist group.

Graham also claimed that the US would consider keeping some troops in Syria if Washington's allies agreed to the deployment meant to help create a buffer zone near the Turkish border.
The US senator said he had discussed the Syria plan with President Donald Trump and General Joseph Votel, the head of US Central Command.

"I'm hoping that President Trump will be coming to some of you and asking for your help and you will say yes. And in return, the capability that we have that is unique to the United States will still be in the fight in Syria," Graham said.
Trump ordered the withdrawal of all 2,000 American forces from Syria in December 2018 amid preparations by Turkey to launch an operation against US-backed Kurdish militants in northern Syria

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen criticized the idea that European forces would stay in Syria after the US exit, saying the alleged anti-Daesh mission should be "in together, out together."
Additionally, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the US approach in northeastern as a "mystery."
"It is totally out of the question to have French troops on the ground without the Americans there. It's just 'no'," a French government source said....

The US and its allies have been bombarding what they call Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
The aerial assaults have failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism, but destroyed much of Syria's infrastructure and left many civilian casualties.

5--Syrian Army not given green light on Idlib offensive


...the Syrian government believes Turkey is trying to rebrand the jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham as ‘moderates’ so that they could be part of the peace process in Syria.
The Syrian government currently views Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham as a terrorist group along with their political wing.

6--The Expanding Global Footprint of U.S. Special Operations--

US Special Forces deployed to 70% of the world in 2016

Just as the FBI, NSA and CIA have grown in power, influence and unaccountability since their creation, SOCOM seems poised to follow the same model to the detriment of the Republic that it was created to serve.

Major Michael Weisman stated,
“Outside of Russia and Belarus we train with virtually every country in Europe either bilaterally of through various multinational events. The persistent presence of U.S. SOF alongside our allies sends a clear message of U.S. commitment to our allies and the defense of our NATO alliance.”

Conventional Warfare Atrophy

In a detailed analysis posted late last year, “Why the U.S. Military is Woefully Unprepared for a Major Conventional Conflict”, I outlined the causes and effects of the decline in U.S. conventional warfare capabilities. There is undoubtedly a direct correlation between the reliance upon and exponential growth of U.S. special operations forces, and the decline in conventional force readiness and capability. This is evident in all service branches and has had a negative effect on the ability of the U.S. Armed Forces to carry out future offensive and defensive combat operations against peer adversaries. The U.S. military will have very little hope of achieving decisive military victories in either Russia’s or China’s backyard. Any assertion to the contrary is delusory.

The U.S. military obsession with counterinsurgency and occupation stemming from one U.S. invasion or regime change operation after another, has left a once cutting edge, combined-arms conventional force gutted materially and low in morale....

In an attempt to “be everywhere and know everything”, SOCOM has moved further away from its subordinate position in the Department of Defense, and pursued a more independent and unaccountable path, similar to that of the CIA or NSA, two organizations that it has increasingly worked closely with. SOCOM has even forged close ties with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose prevue is supposed to be limited to U.S. domestic crime investigations and the enforcement of federal laws.There should be some apprehension at both the Pentagon and in the halls of Congress, of the growing power of this new military within the military.

7--The Real Motive Behind the FBI Plan to Investigate Trump as a Russian Agent


Excerpts of former FBI General Counsel James A. Baker’s testimony published by CNN make it clear that the group spoke about Trump’s policy toward Russia as a basis for a counter-intelligence investigation. Baker said they “discussed as [a] theoretical possibility” that Trump was “acting at the behest of [Russia] and somehow following directions, somehow executing their will.”

Baker went on to explain that this theoretical possibility was only “one extreme” in a range of possibilities discussed and that “the other extreme” was that “the President is completely innocent.” ...

Ohr’s first contacts at FBI headquarters regarding Steele and his dossier came Aug. 3, 2016, with Page and her boss McCabe. Ohr later met with Strzok. 
Ohr said he told them that Steele’s work on the dossier had been financed by the Clinton campaign through the Perkins-Cole law firm.  He also told them that Steele, in a July 30, 2016 meeting, told him he was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president,” according to Ohr’s contemporaneous notes of the meeting. 

So, key figures in the discussion of Trump and Russia in May 2017 knew that Steele was acting out of both political and business motives to come up with sensational material. 

Strzok and Page may have started out as true believers in the idea that the Russians were using Trump campaign officials to manipulate Trump administration policy.  However, by May 2017, Strzok had evidently concluded that there was no real evidence.

In a text message to Page on May 19, 2017, Strzok said he was reluctant to join the Mueller investigation, because of his “gut sense and concern” that “there’s no big there there.



Brennan’s notion of “unwitting collaboration” with Russian subversion is illogical.  Although a political actor might accidentally reveal information to a foreign government that is valuable, real “collaboration” must be mutually agreeable. A policy position or action that may benefit a foreign government, but is also in the interest of one’s own government, does not constitute “unwitting collaboration.”

The real purpose of that concept is to confer on national security officials and their media allies the power to cast suspicion on individuals on the basis of undesirable policy views of Russia rather than on any evidence of actual collaboration with the Russian government. ...


The revelation that it was turned against a sitting president, however briefly, is a warning signal that national security bureaucrats and their media allies are now moving more aggressively to delegitimize any opposition to the new Cold War.

8--Trump’s state of emergency  A step towards presidential dictatorship

16 February 2019
President Trump’s proclamation of a state of national emergency on the southern US border is a frontal assault on constitutional norms and democratic rights in America. It is the first time in American history that a president has sought to usurp the constitutional prerogative of Congress to decide how public funds are to be spent.

Most fundamentally, Trump’s order is in direct defiance of the US Constitution. Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution reads, in part: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law …” This language has invariably been understood to mean that the legislature possesses the “power of the purse,” and that the executive branch (which includes the Treasury) may spend money only as authorized by Congress....

Neither Pelosi nor Schumer, nor any other leading congressional Democrat, has suggested that Trump’s action is an impeachable offense, or that the president should be removed from office for a flagrant violation of his sworn oath to uphold and defend the US Constitution...

The United States is teetering on the brink of dictatorship. There is a colossal disparity between the seriousness and urgency of this danger, and the complacency of the response by the Democrats and the media.

...What is happening in the United States is part of an international process. Under the impact of the global economic crisis of capitalism, and the increasingly violent and reckless clashes between the major powers—spearheaded by the United States—democratic forms of rule are breaking down. This is accelerated, above all, by the growing social tensions within every capitalist country, as economic and social inequality reaches unheard-of proportions.

9--Munich Security Conference

German defence minister advocates German-European war policy

By Johannes Stern
16 February 2019
In her opening address to the Munich Security Conference yesterday, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen declared that “the most prominent characteristic of the new security landscape” is “the return of competition between the major powers.” She followed this up by adding, “Our American friends recognised this early on. We also recognise and see, whether we like it or not, that Germany and Europe are part of this competitive struggle. We are not neutral.”
Von der Leyen’s entire speech made very clear what this means. Almost 75 years after the end of World War II, the imperialist powers are openly preparing for a new round of military conflicts. In front of over 600 politicians, military personnel and intelligence service operatives, including 35 heads of government and 80 defence and foreign ministers, von der Leyen appealed for an independent German and European defence policy to enable Berlin and Brussels to play an independent role in the coming struggle

10--Former FBI deputy director confirms FBI, Justice officials discussed removing Trump

 

In an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” program, to be aired on Sunday, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe confirms previously published reports that he and top Justice Department officials discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution to remove Trump from office.

McCabe also describes how, two days after President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May of 2017, he secretly launched a criminal obstruction of justice investigation and a counterintelligence investigation against Trump. McCabe became acting FBI director following Comey’s ouster, carried out by Trump in an attempt to block the intelligence agencies’ investigation into allegations of Russian “meddling” in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion by the Trump election campaign.

McCabe makes it clear in the interview, an excerpt of which was broadcast Thursday on the “CBS This Morning” television program, that he was motivated by political opposition to Trump’s evident reluctance to aggressively pursue the policy of confrontation with Russia in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere, initiated by the Obama administration and supported by the intelligence agencies and the Democratic Party

 

In the clip from the interview shown on “CBS This Morning,” McCabe tells interviewer Scott Pelley he was “troubled greatly” by the fact that “the man who had just run for the presidency and won the election for the presidency… might have done so with the aid of Russia, our most formidable adversary on the world stage.”
In other words, the official who then headed the state organization historically most directly associated with illegal spying and the persecution of civil rights, anti-war and socialist organizations did not accept the legitimacy of the results of the election. He acted, with other unelected officials, including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, to overturn them....

These officials launched an investigation based on the far-fetched premise that the billionaire real estate mogul and TV celebrity was a Russian spy. Their anti-democratic conspiracy was aimed at replacing Trump with a politician, such as Vice President Mike Pence, who would differ from Trump chiefly in his readiness to act even more provocatively against Russia.


No credible evidence has been produced substantiating the trumped-up claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin massively intervened in the election to secure the elevation of his ally, if not direct agent, Donald Trump to the White House. Nevertheless, this narrative advanced by the intelligence agencies has served as the basis for the campaign against Trump waged by those agencies. It has been the focus of the Democrats’ opposition to his administration, rather than his far-right policies and attacks on the working class....

Pelley elaborated on the main content of McCabe’s upcoming “60 Minutes” interview on Thursday’s “CBS This Morning” broadcast. “There were meetings at the Justice Department at which it was discussed whether the vice president and a majority of the cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the United States under the 25th Amendment,” he said. (The 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967, provides for replacing a president who becomes incapacitated and unable to carry out the responsibilities of his office.)

In its account of McCabe’s interview posted Thursday, the New York Times quotes part of an excerpt from McCabe’s contemporaneous memos written at the time of these secret discussions, held during the eight days between the firing of Comey and the appointment of Mueller as special counsel
.
“We discussed the president’s capacity and the possibility he could be removed from office under the 25th Amendment,” McCabe wrote. The newspaper adds that, according to the memo, Rosenstein indicated he had looked into the issue and determined he would need a “majority of the 15 cabinet officials.”

Pelley also said that, in the interview, McCabe confirms earlier press reports that Rosenstein, who at the time was in overall charge of the Russia investigation, suggested he could wear a wire in White House meetings with Trump. The Justice Department and Rosenstein have sought to undercut such claims, insisting that Rosenstein only made the suggestion in jest.

However, Pelley said on Thursday, “McCabe in the interview says no, it came up more than once and it was so serious that he [McCabe] took it to the lawyers at the FBI to discuss it.”

The McCabe interview confirms a front-page article published by the Times last month revealing the FBI’s secret counterintelligence investigation of Trump. The article detailed the FBI’s close monitoring of the actions of the Republican and Democratic parties. It noted that FBI officials “watched with alarm as the Republican Party softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia.” The counterintelligence investigation they launched was to determine whether the president “had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.”

The World Socialist Web Site wrote of the Times article: “While there is no evidence of a conspiracy between Trump and Moscow, the Times report itself is evidence of a conspiracy involving the intelligence agencies and the corporate media to overturn the 2016 presidential election… A secret security investigation by a powerful police agency directed against an elected president or prime minister can be described as nothing other than the antechamber to a coup by the military or intelligence agencies.

The preview of McCabe’s interview came on the same day that Trump signed a national emergency declaration circumventing Congress and mobilizing the military to build his wall on the border between the US and Mexico—a major step on the road to dictatorial rule. The coincidence of the confirmation of the Democratic-backed conspiracy of the intelligence agencies to remove Trump from office and Trump’s extra-constitutional assertion of authoritarian powers underscores the utterly reactionary character of both factions in the intensifying political warfare in Washington

11--Bezos to New York, "Drop Dead!"


Maybe this is a sign that we’ve hit Peak Amazon. 

Bezos runs into limits of his bullying? Bezos is a particularly nasty boss. The press in the US and abroad has run many stories on the oppressive, backbreaking conditions in Amazon warehouses. In fact, Bezos is an equal opportunity abuser; we wrote about how Whole Foods employees were reduced to tears and quitting as a result of numerous new procedures Bezos put in place, virtually none of which seemed designed to improve customer service or even profits. As we wrote a year ago:
But first to Bezos’ general pattern of employee mistreatment.

It’s bad enough that Bezos engages in the worst sort of class warfare and treats warehouse workers worse than the ASPCA would allow livery drivers to use horses. Not only do horses at least get fed an adequate ration, while Amazon warehouse workers regularly earn less than a local living wage, but even after pressure to end literal sweatshop conditions (no air conditioning so inside temperatures could hit 100 degrees; Amazon preferred to have ambulances at ready for the inevitable heatstroke victims rather than pay to cool air),

 Amazon warehouse workers are, thanks to intensive monitoring, pressed to work at such a brutal pace that most can’t handle it physically and quit by the six month mark. For instance, from a 2017 Gizmodo story, Reminder: Amazon Treats Its Employees Like Shit:

Amazon, like most tech companies, is skilled at getting stories about whatever bullshit it decides to feed the press. Amazon would very much prefer to have reporters writing some drivel about a discount code than reminding people that its tens of thousands of engineers and warehouse workers are fucking miserable. How do I know they’re miserable? Because (as the testimony below demonstrates) they’ve told every writer who’s bothered to ask for years....

For a good overview of the how Amazon goes about making its warehouse workers’ lives hell, see Salon’s Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers.

Mind you, Amazon’s institutionalized sadism isn’t limited to its sweatshops. Amazon is also cruel to its office workers. The New York Times story that Gizmodo selected, based on over 100 employee interviews, included:
Bo Olson…lasted less than two years in a book marketing role and said that his enduring image was watching people weep in the office, a sight other workers described as well. “You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face,” he said. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”
While that paragraph was the most widely quoted from that story, some reporters reacted strongly to other bits. For instance, from The Verge:
Perhaps worst of all is Amazon’s apparent approach when its employees need help. The Times has uncovered several cases where workers who were sick, grieving, or otherwise encumbered by the realities of life were pushed out of the company. A woman who had a miscarriage was told to travel on a business trip the day after both her twins were stillborn. Another woman recovering from breast cancer was given poor performance rankings and was warned that she was in danger of losing her job.
The Business Insider story on Amazon, ‘Seeing someone cry at work is becoming normal’: Employees say Whole Foods is using ‘scorecards’ to punish them, is another window on how Bezos thinks whipping his workers is the best way to get results from them.

12--Dershowitz says if the DOJ tried to use the 25th Amendment to oust Trump they have attempted a 'coup d'état'





13--It was a coup after all


The most egregious anti-democratic actions ever taken by the what can now fairly be called the Deep State are confirmed with the publication of fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s new book detailing how the FBI and Justice Department plotted to remove President Trump from office for firing FBI Director James Comey.

Justice Department and FBI officials spied on U.S. citizens with false warrants, gave a pass to one presidential campaign with a predetermined investigation, investigated another political campaign on the basis of no verified evidence, and illegally leaked information on investigations. They discussed wiretapping and using the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove President Trump, and appointed a special counsel as a retaliatory move for Comey’s firing.

It is now crystal clear that the highest echelons of the Justice Department and FBI had morphed from the world’s most professional law enforcement organization into a Third World rump group. They had the hubris to believe that they – not the American people or their duly elected representatives – should decide who governs and how.

They upended our election process, fanned partisan political flames, distorted our foreign policy by isolating us from Russia, and abused the powers of their office.
Remember that McCabe, Comey and the intelligence community heads all publicly testified to Congress even after the Comey-Trump meetings and memos that no investigation had been tampered with in any way. None.
Yet upon President Trump’s firing of Comey, the remaining officials didn’t wait for the proper appointment of a new FBI head. Instead, they worked themselves up into an unfounded hysteria and acted to create an independent counsel over obstruction that never happened – and was never happening.

McCabe said he was concerned that the Russia investigation might be snuffed out – but it wasn’t. It was untouched. You need a crime to appoint a special counsel, not a belief that a crime might be committed sometime in the future.

Had FBI officials waited for a new director to be confirmed by the Senate, they might have had a new boss who looked over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants and discovered that the key evidence for them was an unverified dossier from a fired source who had materially lied to the FBI.

Officials might have discovered that the supporting Yahoo News story was actually an echo created by their source and not independent evidence. The new FBI director might have figured out that the dossier came to the FBI not through actual intelligence channels but through an official’s wife who was on the payroll of the dossier-creating company, Fusion GPS.

The new FBI director might have even discovered that dossier was an opposite research operation from Trump opponents instead of real intelligence. The new director might have legitimately pulled back from this reckless course.

But Justice Department and FBI officials – egged on by the infamous Lisa Page and Peter Strzok of the FBI – knew better than to follow the Constitution. They were now on a mission to remove Trump from office for daring to fire Comey; they even thought they were part of the 25th Amendment, which empowers only the Cabinet and Congress to remove the president from office in extraordinary circumstances.

Realizing that approach wouldn’t work, the FBI and Justice Department officials acted to keep the investigation they created under their supervision and with their friends whom they would appoint. And so rather than allow the new incoming head of the FBI to make these decisions, they acted to empower their buddy Robert Mueller as a special counsel.

Mueller, in turn, hired only Democrats, including a lawyer for the Clintons, and the “insurance policy” was launched and ensconced in power. So a counterintelligence investigation that was formed without probable cause now became the largest criminal investigation in history of a campaign and a presidency, dragging on since May 2017....

McCabe and others say Rosenstein was deadly serious when he discussed invoking the 25th Amendment and wiretapping against President Trump in an effort to remove the president from office. Rosenstein says he was just joking around....

McCabe and Comey appear on TV, write books, and have become nakedly partisan, revealing political attitudes no different from Strzok and Page. They readily believed unsubstantiated information and then took power into their own hands.

Every Democrat, Republican and independent should stop angling for partisan advantage and agree, regardless of who is helped or hurt, that these officials acted without proper authority and are responsible for unprecedented damage to our democracy and our political system.

14--Security zone should be under Turkey’s control


Erdoğan also answered questions on Turkey’s demand to set up a security zone along the Syrian border upon a proposal by U.S. President Donald Trump.
The security zone should be under Turkey’s control so that its borders can be secure against the presence of the YPG, Erdoğan said, vowing that Ankara will never allow efforts to turn this security zone into a protection shield for the YPG.

“We are very determined on this. This should be well-known. This is also required for the safety of Syrian Kurds,” Erdoğan said, expressing his disappointment over the continued reference to guarantee the well-being of Kurds by international actors.

“Who has been protecting the rights of the Kurds until now? The YPG/PYD? Where have they been? How long will they exist?” Erdoğan said, recalling that it was him who asked the Syrian government to issue identity cards for Syrian Kurds in the past.

Although Russians are not against Turkey’s plans to set up a security zone through an existing agreement between Ankara and Damascus, dubbed the Adana Protocol, they are trying to limit the depth of this corridor, Erdoğan said.

“Our relevant institutions are now working on this protocol. We will exert efforts to use it as a tool in our fight against terror. We have taken all our measures and we are ready for anything,” he stressed.

Erdoğan slams US over Manbij

On a question over a U.S. plan to deploy an observation force made by coalition countries into this zone, Erdoğan said Turkey does not approve such a plan. “The east of Euphrates should be cleared of terror organizations,” he said.

Erdoğan also complained about the pace of the implementation of a road map for the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij city of Syria. “It’s also very important. There is a delay. They have said 90 days [for the withdrawal] but it has been nearly a year. They still say they will implement it,” he stressed....

No step back from S-400s

Erdoğan also answered questions on Turkey’s deal with Russia for the purchase of the $2.5 billion S-400 anti-ballistic missile systems despite the opposition of its NATO ally, the U.S.
“We have made the S-400 deal with Russia. Therefore, a step back is out of question. This is over,” Erdoğan stressed. “We are working for the deployment of S-400s in July as promised.”

15--US not united on Syria withdrawal: Erdoğan

 

"Manbij is actually not the place of these terror organizations," he said, adding the population there was 85-90 percent Arab.      
"We will do whatever it takes for our national security," he asserted, noting Ankara would continue to strive for finding mutual ground as long as Tehran and Moscow maintained their attitude.      
Erdoğan slammed Washington for arming YPG militants, saying it had sent 23,000 trucks loaded with weapons to them....
 
Syrian refugees in Turkey  
     
Underlining Turkey's efforts to resettle the 3.6 million Syrian refugees residing within the country's borders, Erdoğan said 310,000 Syrians had returned home and $35 billion had been spent on the needs of refugees.      

 On Turkey's ascension to the European Union, Erdoğan accused European countries of not being sincere with all the requisites and said they had another agenda.       

"There is only one reason they don't take us [into the EU]: because we are Muslims," he said, noting that even some former EU foreign ministers had said that

16--Russia, Iran mount pressure on Turkey over Idlib


All three leaders have conveyed, at the press conference, their skepticism about the pace and the scope of the U.S. withdrawal, with Russia and Iran insisting that the Syrian army should take the control of territories to be abandoned by the American troops.

In relation to this, the communiqué also addressed the situation in the northeast of Syria, an area where Turkey wants to set up a security zone against the presence of the YPG. It said the presidents “agreed to coordinate their activities to ensure security, safety and stability in this area including through existing agreements while respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.”

The existing agreements referred to in this communiqué is the 1998-dated Adana accord between Turkey and Syria that stipulates the latter’s responsibilities in stopping the use of its territories as a launch pad by terrorist organizations to attack Turkey.

It should be noted that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani echoed Russian President Vladimir Putin that the Adana accord would best serve to address Turkey’s legitimate security concerns. Russia and Iran have urged, once again, that dialogue between Ankara and Damascus was necessary to quell new sources of conflicts and tension in the war-torn country.

Neither Russia nor Iran have been observed as giving a full green light to Turkey’s aspirations in setting up a security zone throughout the summit, although President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed his satisfaction over Moscow’s approval of Turkish plans in northeastern Syria. The Russian position is still softer than the Iranian one as Moscow seems to be ready to negotiate for a limited setting along the Turkish-Syrian border.

The issue that dominated the Sochi Summit, however, was the situation in Idlib. The three presidents examined in detail the situation in the de-escalation area, read the communiqué, as they “denounced and expressed serious concern with the attempts of the terrorist organization ‘Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’ to increase its control over the area, and agreed to effectively counter these attempts as well as to take concrete steps to reduce violations” in the enclave.

“They also reaffirmed the determination to continue cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate DAESH/ISIL, Al-Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al-Qaeda or DAESH/ISIL, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the U.N. Security Council,” it added.

Putin and Rouhani have strongly recalled that measures taken in Idlib were temporary and that patience on the continued presence of jihadist radical groups was wearing thin.

Putin made clear that the attacks of the terrorists will not go unpunished and that the ceasefire agreement brokered between Ankara and Moscow was about to turn into a problem in itself.
“We should not put up with the presence of terrorist groups in Idlib,” Putin said at the summit. “That’s why I propose we consider practical concrete steps that Russia, Turkey, and Iran can take to completely destroy this hotbed of terrorists.”

Rouhani did not say anything very different and strongly accused the U.S. and Israel of supporting these terrorist groups.

Erdoğan, however, insisted on the continuation of the implementation of the protocol, equally accusing the Syrian regime of breaching the Turkish-Russian ceasefire deal. Unlike Putin and Rouhani, Erdoğan highlighted that peace in Syria had never been so close, indirectly urging his partners not to ruin this window of opportunity by suggesting a hasty operation into Idlib.

17--Did the Sochi summit fulfill ‘high hopes?’


Turkey’s position on this issue is crystal clear. President Erdoğan stated that “safe zone must be under the control of Turkey. It must not turn to a safe haven for the PYD and YPG groups, which are affiliated with the terrorist organization PKK.”

From Turkey’s point of view, the Syrian regime has no legitimacy, and the Adana accord is a “hot pursuit” agreement allowing the Turkish military to chase terrorists within Syria. On the way back from Sochi I asked President Erdoğan if there was a distance limit that Turkey can pursue terrorists within Syria, he replied, “There is no definition of the distance and no limit in terms of kilometers written in the accord.” Turkey for this reason assumes that attacking terrorist groups within Syria is legally legitimate and there is no need for further negotiations with the regime. Turkey has its own understanding of the Adana accord and will continue to act according to its own version.
 

18--Trump quietly amasses military forces near Venezuela

 

"Between Feb. 6 and 10 military transport aircraft have flown to the Rafael Miranda Airport of Puerto Rico, the San Isidro Air Base, in the Dominican Republic and to other strategically located Caribbean islands, probably without knowledge of the governments of those nations," the declaration alleged. "These flights originated in American military installations from which units of Special Operations and Marine Corps operate, which are used for covert actions," it said.

In addition, deployment readiness of U.S. military forces to Colombia has stirred further concerns over a possible U.S. intervention. The latest reports suggested that U.S. Navy vessels are quietly moving closer to Venezuela as they are approximately 5-7 days' sailing time from Colombian waters, just over 400 miles (640 kilometers) from the Venezuelan border.

The S-400 factor

The supply of Russian high-tech missile defense systems, the S-400, created loud statements in the United States, and for many years the U.S. denied Turkish requests to sell their own Patriot system. It did not happen because the Russian systems will "spy" on NATO defense and collect sensitive information. It is clearly because the Russian-Turkish deal threatens to interrupt the many years of hegemony by the United States in the field of military-technical relations with Turkey. Unilateral dictation and control of the development of Turkey by the Americans is difficult to call "cooperation." Capitol Hill, until today, tries to define what Turkey should know and what it should be able to produce and what it shouldn't.

Turkstream

The parties also agreed to jointly implement the TurkStream project, which foresees that Russian gas not only goes directly to Turkey, reducing cost for Turkish consumers, but also goes to Europe through Turkish territory


19--Sochi and Warsaw: Two summits with competing agendas


To be clear, that three countries with conflicting interests in Syria have been working together for two years is a major accomplishment. Obviously, some issues are still on the table: Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or HTS, grows stronger in Idlib. There are disagreements over the proposed members of the constitutional committee. Russia is committed to keeping Bashar Assad in power. Finally, the future of the PKK's Syrian branch, the People's Protection Units (YPG), remains unclear. Yet, the Astana process is absolutely crucial for success in Geneva.

The Warsaw and Sochi summits did not just take place on the same day. They also embody two opposite approaches to the future of the Middle East. Turkey is crucial for both sides. In light of the country's unwillingness to jump on the anti-Iran bandwagon, Israel and the Gulf designated it as a threat. From the Gulf perspective, Turkey is now a regional power that must be contained. As such, the UAE has stepped up its smear campaign against Turkey and Erdoğan through lobbyists and think tanks in Washington. This is no surprise, as counter-revolutionary forces in the Middle East have long viewed Turkish democracy and Erdoğan's popularity as a threat.

Here's the takeaway: The Warsaw summit was part of a stillborn project with no real connection to the situation on the ground. Sochi, by contrast, represented an effort to foster international cooperation to end bloodshed

20--The end of optimism in US foreign policy


There are many different debates and discussions on the direction of U.S. foreign policy among scholars and practitioners of international relations today. In most of these debates the general idea is on the unpredictability of U.S. policy, absence of U.S. strategy and presence of interagency rivalry in Washington, D.C....

The National Security Strategy (NSS) announced by the White House, the National Defense Strategy (NDS) published by the Department of Defense and the Worldwide Threat Assessment Report prepared by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) all point out similar threat perceptions for the future of U.S. foreign policy.

The shift in foreign policy

One of the most important aspects of these strategies is the shifting of U.S. attention to foreign policy with nation states and diplomacy rather than toward counterterrorism operations.

The Defense Strategy stated, "We are facing increased global disorder, characterized by the decline in the long-standing rules-based international order – creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. Interstate strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security."

Thus especially after the territorial defeat of Daesh, terrorism may have to go back to its default settings and may become more of a policing issue for the U.S. In all of these three documents, there is a very strong emphasis on the emerging competition between the U.S. and Russia and China.

All three documents mentioned these emerging and present competitions in their introductions. The National Security Strategy document mentions: "The United States will respond to the growing political, economic and military competitions we face around the world. China and Russia challenge American power, influence and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity. "

The same competition is mentioned in DNI's Threat Assessment Report as, "Threats to U.S. national security will expand and diversify in the coming year, driven in part by China and Russia as they respectively compete more intensely with the United States and its traditional allies and partners. This competition cuts across all domains involves a race for technological and military superiority, and is increasingly about values."

The NDS report characterizes the current state of U.S. defense policy as follows, "Today, we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy, aware that our competitive military advantage has been eroding."

The challengers that the report points out are again China and Russia. Accordingly "China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea. Russia has violated the borders of nearby nations and pursues veto power over the economic, diplomatic, and security decisions of its neighbors."

Although these threat assessments have been present previously in the last reports of the U.S. government, the threats are directed at not only U.S. foreign policy but the international system that the U.S. had built as well....

Although President Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria generated a lot of criticism and resistance among the different institutions of the U.S., at the end of the day many of these agencies seem to be in line with shifting U.S. attention from the long wars of the Middle East, toward nation building to a new great power rivalry of the 21st century


 







 


 








 

US congresswoman introduces bill to uphold INF Treaty

More:
http://tass.com/world/1045000

Friday, February 15, 2019

Today's Links

Regarding Ilhan Omar, she must be protected online and in every sense. She took on Elliot Abrams, She's taking on the Lobby, She's taking on Zionism and the Neocon establishment. Everyone must fight for her survival, in Congress and otherwise, and stand by her so she is not muzzled and reprogrammed. She is facing great pressure in her own party, also of course, from the right head of the duopoly hydra and powerful external forces not to mention the media. Her voice right now is too important. She is among wolves trying to devour her. She's going to need massive support everywhere.
Posted by: Circe | Feb 15, 2019 comments MOA

Folks, Elliott Abrams is a confessed liar who was complicit in mass murder. Ilhan Omar is a refugee who survived the sort of violence backed by Abrams. If you have to think for even a second about who deserves your support, please consider quitting foreign policy. Matt Duss, Twitter

 

This phrase “leading state sponsor of terrorism” has been repeated ad nauseum by US officials, with no attempt to substantiate the allegation with facts or evidence. This from a government that poured billions of dollars into funding terrorist wars by Al Qaeda-linked militias in the quest for regime-change in both Libya and Syria....

As for the “state which sows the greatest harm and greatest discord,” can anyone claim with a straight face that Washington, which has waged a quarter-century of unending and ruinous wars in the region, razing entire societies to the ground and leaving millions dead, maimed and displaced, has any close competition for this title? WSWS

One of the US's most sociopathic war criminals, Elliott Abrams, is running around - deputized by the Trump administration - making overt threats of coups and invasions to Venezuela, and, with rare exception, there's almost no objection (shall we say ?) from Dems. Why?
glenn greenwald, twitter






Many factors explained Mr. Trump’s success, but Mrs. Clinton blamed just one. “Our analysis is that Comey’s letter — raising doubts that were groundless, baseless, proven to be — stopped our momentum,” she told donors a few days after the election. She pointed to polling data showing that late-deciding voters chose Mr. Trump in unusually large numbers." 
Hillary's Downfall?

 

 

 

1--Venezuela and the Washington junta


In the period prior to the Bolivarian Revolution, extending into the 1990s, the levels of poverty were abysmally high...More than 70 percent of the Venezuelan population did not meet minimum calorie and protein requirements, while  approximately 45 percent were suffering from extreme undernourishment. 
 
More than half of Venezuelan children suffered from some degree of malnutrition.
Infant mortality was exceedingly high.
23 percent of the Venezuelan population was illiterate. The rate of functional illiteracy was of the order of 42%.

One child in four was totally marginalized from the educational system (not even registered in the first grade of primary school). 

More than half the children of school age never entered high school. 
A majority of the population had little or no access to health care services.  
Half the urban population had no access to an adequate system of running water within their home.
Unemployment was rampant. 

More than 30 percent of the total workforce was unemployed or underemployed, while 67 percent of those employed in non-agricultural activities received a salary which did not enable them to meet basic human needs (food, health, housing, clothing, etc.). 
Three-quarters of the labor force were receiving revenues below the  minimum subsistence wage.”
(Michel Chossudovsky, excerpts from La Miseria en Venezuela, Vadell, Caracas, 1978, translated from Spanish)

2--Kremlin Denounces Rumors On Upcoming Military Operation In Syria’s Idlib


The leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran discussed the situation in Idlib during a meeting in the Russian city of Sochi a day earlier. The three countries agreed to take unspecified extra steps to clear Idlib of “hotbed of terrorists,” according to President Vladimir Putin.
“We should not put up with the presence of terrorist groups in Idlib … That’s why I propose we consider practical concrete steps that Russia, Turkey and Iran can take to completely destroy this hotbed of terrorists,” Reuters quoted the Russian President as saying.
More than 90% of Idlib territory is now controlled by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria. The radical group and its allies are violating the Russian-Turkish demilitarized zone agreement, that was reached last year, on a daily basis.
These new steps which will be taken by Russia, Turkey and Iran to counter the influence of HTS remain unclear. However, local observers expect that the lack of serious actions against the terrorists could encourage them to expand their influence even further.

3--Arab world outraged by humiliation at Warsaw Conference


Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, wrote in a column published by Israel's Haaretz newspaper that the Warsaw conference lacked credibility as it aimed to "normalize" the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
"By fully siding with the Israeli government, [the Americans] have tried to normalize the Israeli occupation and the systematic denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination," he said.

4--There are no independent countries in the world, Putin says


Europe can’t oppose the US deployment of missiles, even if it is contrary to their interests, because no country can be truly independent these days, Vladimir Putin believes.
The Russian president thinks “the modern world is the world of interdependency” and there are no truly independent countries these days.

“Do you think European countries want missiles in Europe? Nobody wants it. But they keep silent. Where is their sovereignty?” Putin asked during his visit in Sochi.

The EU Parliament, he said, makes more decisions on behalf of the member countries than “the Supreme Soviet of USSR on behalf of constituent republics” back in the days.

5--WHY THE DNC WAS NOT HACKED BY THE RUSSIANS by Binney and Johnson

 

The FBI, CIA and NSA claim that the DNC emails published by WIKILEAKS on July 26, 2016 were obtained via a Russian hack, but more than three years after the alleged “hack” no forensic evidence has been produced to support that claim. In fact, the available forensic evidence contradicts the official account that blames the leak of the DNC emails on a Russian internet “intrusion”.  The existing evidence supports an alternative explanation--the files taken from the DNC between 23 and 25May 2016 and were copied onto a file storage device, such as a thumb drive.
If the Russians actually had conducted an internet based hack of the DNC computer network then the evidence of such an attack would have been collected and stored by the National Security Agency. The technical systems to accomplish this task have been in place since 2002. The NSA had an opportunity to make it clear that there was irrefutable proof of Russian meddling, particularly with regard to the DNC hack, when it signed on to the January 2017 “Intelligence Community Assessment,” regarding Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election:
  • We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.
The phrase, “moderate confidence” is intelligence speak for “we have no hard evidence.”

6---Trump to declare national emergency to build wall


Under Article I of the Constitution, Congress has the power to appropriate funds. “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law,” the text reads.
Given the clear constitutional reservation to Congress of the “power of the purse,” Trump’s emergency decree has the character of an authoritarian, dictatorial move. It would represent a new assertion of executive authority, and, together with the very limited resistance expected from the legislative branch, a significant erosion of the constitutional system of “checks and balances” devised after the American Revolution to prevent the growth of a monarchical type of unrestrained executive power....

The implications of this political collaboration (from the Republicans) and complacency (from the Democrats) are quite ominous. Neither bourgeois party is waging a fight to defend the constitutional separation of powers or oppose what is, in effect, the declaration of unlimited presidential power....

Neither Pelosi or any other Democrat has suggested that such a declaration is a violation of the constitution, let alone an impeachable offense. Similarly, the media discusses the action entirely from the standpoint of its immediate impact on the border issue, or on Trump’s political fortunes in 2020, but not as an attack on democratic rights. Public opinion is being desensitized to this threat.

No president in modern history has ever used the declaration of a national emergency to bypass Congress or decide a dispute over domestic policy.

7--War summit in Warsaw


On the eve of the conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the only prominent head of government to fly to Poland for the event, gave an interview in Warsaw in which he declared the importance of the conference was that it involved “an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.”

The text of this bellicose statement was then posted on the Israeli prime minister’s twitter account. Subsequently, apparently as a result of political pressure from the event’s US and Polish sponsors, the tweet was changed to read “in order to advance the common interest of combating Iran.”

Much of the media treated Netanyahu’s original statement as a gaffe. It was nothing of the kind. The Israeli prime minister was describing the real aims of the conference in Warsaw in blunt terms because it suited his own political interests as he confronts an election in two months amid mounting corruption scandals and is anxious to rally his right-wing base.

Israel and the reactionary monarchical dictatorships of the Persian Gulf, which were well represented at the Warsaw gathering, constitute the two pillars of the anti-Iranian axis being forged by the Trump administration.

The attempts by US and Polish officials to mask the genuine purpose of the conference with talk about “peace” and “security” were farcical....

This phrase “leading state sponsor of terrorism” has been repeated ad nauseum by US officials, with no attempt to substantiate the allegation with facts or evidence. This from a government that poured billions of dollars into funding terrorist wars by Al Qaeda-linked militias in the quest for regime-change in both Libya and Syria....

As for the “state which sows the greatest harm and greatest discord,” can anyone claim with a straight face that Washington, which has waged a quarter-century of unending and ruinous wars in the region, razing entire societies to the ground and leaving millions dead, maimed and displaced, has any close competition for this title?

US imperialism has never forgiven the masses of Iranian workers and poor for their 1979 revolution that overthrew the US-backed dictatorship of the Shah, the linchpin of US domination of the region. While that revolution was usurped by the bourgeois-theocratic regime established under Ayatollah Khomeini, Washington has refused to settle for anything less than regime-change and the re-imposition of a US puppet dictatorship.

8--Wealth concentration increases in US and globally


According to his analysis, the top 1 percent in the US now owns about 40 percent of total household wealth, increasing its share by at least 10 percentage points since 1989. Over the same period “the share of wealth owned by the bottom 90 percent has collapsed in similar proportions.”...

One of the indicators of the role of finance in boosting the wealth of the ultra-wealthy is that in 1980 the top 0.01 of interest earners had 2.6 percent of all taxable interest, whereas by 2012 this had increased ten-fold to 27.3 percent.

9--Munich Security Conference overshadowed by rising great power conflicts


The Munich Security Report 2019 conveys the impression of a ruling elite that has lost control of political events, and is responding by rearming and preparing for criminal wars that will call into question the survival of humanity.
...
The first chapter, “The Great Puzzle: Who Will Pick Up the Pieces?” cites from the new National Security Strategy of the United States, which declares: “…we are heading into an era of sustained big power competition for which the West, collectively, is underprepared.” Washington views China and Russia as its main rivals: “US strategic documents have singled out China and Russia as the two most important challengers, and many key administration officials have emphasized this threat perception in public speeches....

The Munich Security Conference is the largest meeting of politicians, military personnel, arms industry representatives, and military experts in the world. This year, more than 500 international guests are expected to attend, including 35 heads of state and government, 50 foreign ministers, and 30 defence ministers....

The Munich Security Report 2019 contains the result of an interesting poll. Asked which country’s power and influence they thought represented the greatest danger to their country, 49 percent of Germans said the United States, compared to 30 percent who said Russia and 33 percent who chose China. The result was similar in France. Asked who they thought would do the right thing in world affairs, 10 percent of Germans named Trump, compared to 35 percent who said Putin, and 30 percent who chose Xi Jinping. Even in the United States, only 48 percent of respondents named Trump, compared to 39 percent for Xi and 21 percent for Putin, who is incessantly demonised by the media.

These results hardly indicate sympathy for the Russian and Chinese presidents, but express the vehement opposition among the population in Germany, France, and the US to the war-mongering policies of their own governments.

10--Munich Report--Who is to blame and what to do?


Neither Russia nor China today offer the world any intelligible alternatives. They point to the problems and imbalances, and also try to promote their own interests. But they do not yet offer any comprehensive alternative model, comparable, for example, with 20th century socialism. The exclusion of Moscow and Beijing from the usual scheme of the liberal order is a symptom of its general crisis, and not a result of the deliberate effort of individual countries hoping to destroy it. Generally speaking, the unpredictability of the United States as the leader of the liberal order stands to do it much more harm. This threat is addressed quite clearly in the report. 

The Munich Security Report 2019 gives a clear answer to the question “Who is to blame”? We can argue with the conclusions reached by the authors, but they are clarified for us. Of course, Russia is among the guilty: the report reproduces in one way or another the official line of the EU and the US on key issues, although this was done quite correctly and without additional Russophobia. The problem is with another question – “What to do”? From the content of the report, the conclusion is clear: to preserve the liberal world order by all means, to rationalize United States policy, and to isolate Russia and China or make them return to their usual roles. But a return of the old order of post-bipolar times is unlikely. It would be worth thinking about the parameters of the new world, as well as what role all key players could play in its construction. Perhaps this would provide a key to the solution of the great powers competition problem. 

11--Munich Security Report 2019 (text) 


12--Munich Security Report sees world as a broken puzzle

 

The global liberal order is fragmenting, but who can fit the pieces together again? That's the question posed by the report, released as a curtain-raiser for this week's Munich Security Conference.

The world is in crisis — and the US is only making things worse. That's the bold verdict of the Munich Security Report (MSR), released on Monday ahead of this week's Munich Security Conference...
"US strategic documents have singled out China and Russia as the two most important challengers," the report went on, but the rivalries between these three great powers are playing out in different ways. The conflict between Washington and Beijing is focused mainly on economic and trade issues, for instance, while Russia and China see themselves as an alliance of autocracies against the West, even as they remain in geopolitical competition with each other.

13--Elliott Abrams Is Bringing Violence of 1980s U.S. Latin America Policy to Venezuela

 

14--Donald Trump on Friday said there will be a U.S. announcement on Syria in the next 24 hours

 

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said there will be a U.S. announcement on Syria in the next 24 hours, as Turkey, Russia and European allies wait to see how he will carry out his December decision to withdrawal all 2,000 U.S. troops from the country.
"We have a lot of great announcements having to do with Syria and our success with the eradication of the caliphate and that will be announced over the next 24 hours," Trump said, referring to Daesh terror group, during Rose Garden event at the White House.
The U.S. has been backing the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), consisting mainly for PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists, in its fight against Daesh in Syria, despite outcry from its NATO ally Turkey. Trump's decision to withdrawal from Syria was welcomed by Ankara, but the declaration has yet to be actualized. Last month, the Pentagon confirmed additional troops were being sent to protect U.S. forces and equipment as they prepare to leave.

15--archive  The Comey Effect


Hillary Clinton’s narrow loss to Donald Trump was influenced by many causes in the home stretch: complacency driven by conventional wisdom and polls (and yes, poll aggregation), which led to the media assumption that she would win, which in turn was a likely driver of the tone of coverage. And of course there is so much to say about the candidates themselves.

In mid-October, I said I didn’t think Trump would clear 240 electoral votes, a statement I paid for later by eating a bug on CNN. My error seems to be accounted for by two events: (1) undecided Republican voters coming home, and (2) FBI Director Jim Comey’s letter to Congress about Clinton’s email....

, the big change does coincide well with the release of the Comey letter. Opinion swung toward Trump by 4 percentage points, and about half of this was a lasting change. This was larger than the victory margin in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Wisconsin. Many factors went into this year’s Presidental race, but on the home stretch, Comey’s letter appears to have been a critical factor in the home stretch.
http://election.princeton.edu/2016/12/10/the-comey-effect/ 

16-- The Russia Collusion Sham


At the end of July — not long after WikiLeaks had dumped over 20,000 stolen DNC emails before the Democratic convention — it had become obvious to Brennan that the Russians were mounting an aggressive and wide‑ranging effort to interfere in the election. He was also seeing intelligence about contacts and interactions between Russian officials and Americans involved in the Trump campaign. By now, several European intelligence services had reported to the CIA that Russian operatives were reaching out to people within Trump’s circle. And the Australian government had reported to U.S. officials that its top diplomat in the United Kingdom had months earlier been privately told by Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. By July 31, the FBI had formally opened a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump’s campaigns ties to Russians, with sub-inquiries targeting four individuals: Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman; Michael Flynn, the former Defense Intelligence Agency chief who had led the crowd at the Republican convention in chants of “Lock her up!”; Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser who had just given a speech in Moscow; and Papadopoulos.


17-- Brennan spoke with FBI Director James Comey and Adm. Mike Rogers, the head of the NSA, and asked them to dispatch to the CIA their experts to establish a working group at Langley that would review the intelligence and figure out the full scope and nature of the Russian operation



18--The Broad Reach of Suburban Poverty


A key feature of the growth of suburban poverty in the 2000s is that it was not isolated to particular regions or parts of the country. Almost every major metro area experienced a significant increase in the suburban poor population between 2000 and 2015, and two-thirds of those regions now find the majority of the poor population in the suburbs.

The biggest difference between the urban and suburban poor populations in the nation’s largest metro areas lies in their racial and ethnic makeup. Non-Hispanic whites account for 44 percent of the poor population in suburbs, compared to just 24 percent in big cities. That gap largely reflects differences in the overall racial and ethnic composition of cities and suburbs, although that has been changing over time as people of color, including poor people of color, have suburbanized at a faster clip. Still, the poor white population remains the most suburbanized among major racial and ethnic groups: 70 percent of poor whites in the nation’s largest metro areas live in the suburbs compared to 52 percent of poor Asians, 47 percent of poor Hispanics, and 41 percent of poor African Americans.

A striking share of the poor lives in deep poverty (less than half the federal poverty line) in both cities (46 percent) and suburbs (44 percent).



Extra Links--

https://www.yahoo.com/news/stand-obama-team-blew-response-russian-meddling-100024634.html

 https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/14/weed-killing-products-increase-cancer-risk-of-cancer

“The whole liberal world order appears to be falling apart,” Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, wrote in an introductory note. “We are experiencing an epochal shift; an era is ending, and the rough outlines of a new political age are only beginning to emerge.”

 US speakers to include--Lindsey Graham, joe Biden and HR McMaster (christina Freedland from Canada, Theresa May, Netanyahu)