Jan 05

Today’s News 5th January 2018

  • Would Trump Nuking North Korea 'Make America Great Again'?

    Authored by Andrew Korybko via Oriental Review,

    If Trump is willing to accept the enormous loss of American life — which are the only people that he cares about as the US President — then turning the Korean Peninsula into Asia’s nuclear panhandle would indeed “Make America Great Again” by permanently handicapping its Russian & Chinese geostrategic competitors as well as its Japanese & South Korean economic ones.

    The war of words between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald J. Trump has suddenly taken a very foreboding turn, with both men now talking about “nuclear buttons” and openly hinting at the prospects of carrying out a preemptive first strike against the other.

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    The first thing to remember is that Trump is dead serious (pun intended) about his desire to “Make America Great Again”, and that he will stop at nothing to see his vision fulfilled in the future, including if he has to use nuclear weapons to make it happen.

    Normative objections like arguing about how “terrible” and “evil” this is have absolutely no effect on Trump, who has come to be the literal embodiment of the “Mad Man Theory” and cares nothing about such concerns, ruthlessly viewing the world through a Neo-Realist prism where everything revolves around power.

    If there’s any “emotional” point that would give Trump pause to think, then it’s about the lives of the nearly quarter-million Americans (including servicemen and their families) living in South Korea who could easily be killed in the opening days of a Korean Continuation War, and this is the only reason why Trump has yet to use nuclear weapons against North Korea.

    Right now the President whose opponents label as a “heartless psychopath” is actually very concerned about the moral responsibility that he would have to forever shoulder in potentially sacrificing so many Americans, but if he ever surmounts his conscientious objections to this or is misled by the “deep state” into believing that North Korea is in the imminent process of launching its own preemptive strike (or is provoked by the military to already do so), the he might “make peace with himself” in the “comfort” that “only” 250,000 Americans had to die (notwithstanding the millions of Asians that he doesn’t care about) in order to “Make America Great Again”.

    US bases in South Korea

    Brutally speaking, the only real consequence that the US would suffer from nuking North Korea is the death of its South Korean-based compatriots as “collateral damage”, and the possibility of a Chinese military response to America’s brazen bombing(s?) could be avoided if Washington provokes Pyongyang into striking first because of Beijing’s previous pledge not to intervene if its wayward “ally” is the one most directly “responsible” for reigniting hostilities.

    Accepting that the US would quickly emerge as militarily victorious in this conflict, it’s now time to examine how the destructive consequences of nuking North Korea would actually “Make America Great Again” from Trump’s “Kraken”-like Neo-Realist perspective.

    To begin with, almost all of North Korea’s territory could be rendered inhospitable depending on the scale and scope of the US’ nuclear arms use, thus turning it into the ultimate “buffer zone” and thereforr making the decades-long question of whether the (now-former) country would be occupied by Chinese or American-South Korean troops after a speculative continuation war moot.

    Secondly, the atmospheric aftereffects of America’s nuclear weapons use are difficult to precisely predict and should be left to more competent experts to comment upon in detail, but it can confidently be presumed that this would affect South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia, up to and including making some of their territory also inhospitable.

    Not only that, but Seoul and even Tokyo could be wiped out if Pyongyang is successful in nuking them in its final moments, and even if they’re not destroyed, then the resultant nuclear atmospheric damage to South Korea and Japan would devastate these once-strong Asian economies and reduce them to uncompetitive “Third World” states.

    The same can also happen to a large chunk of China in its rustbelt “Manchurian” region of the Northeast, as well as the base of Russia’s Pacific Fleet and its “Window to Asia” in Vladivostok, though the exact consequences are again subject to the atmospheric ramifications resulting from the scope and scale of any speculative American nuclear bombing of North Korea.

    One of the relevant tangential developments that could unfold is that China’s domestic agricultural industry could collapse, and this could combine with the widespread fear resulting from the nearby radioactive panhandle to produce unpredictable socio-political consequences in the People’s Republic.

    Furthermore, the nuclear destruction of North Korea and the attendant apocalyptic aftereffects that this would have for Northeast Asia would for all intents and purposes remove each of these victimized nation-states from the geopolitical game except for perhaps Russia, seeing as how they’d all be wreaked with internal turmoil in dealing with the long-term radioactive fallout of what happened, thus restoring the US to its immediate post-World War II “glorious” position in recapturing the majority of the global economy and literally “Making America Great Again”.

    It’s precisely this “reward” that is so tempting to Trump and why his finger is itching to press the nuclear button, but then again he’s still held back by the thought of the quarter-million American lives that might have to be sacrificed as a result, though he might “console” himself with the “excuse” that this was “necessary” in order for the remaining 320+ million to “rule the world”.

    As for the millions upon millions of Asians who would surely die in this scenario, Trump would “rationalize” it by convincing himself that he was taking North Korean “slaves” “out of their misery” and that all the others who allowed Kim Jong Un to “get out of control” and launch what the Pentagon might provoke to be Pyongyang’s first strike “deserved it”, shedding all personal responsibility for this by claiming that he “inherited an impossible mess” from his hated predecessors who already made its dynamics “irreversible” and therefore its conclusion “inevitable”.

    The only realistic chance that Trump can be stopped from nuking North Korea in the event that he “gets over” the potential deaths of a quarter-million Americans (considering that the deaths of Asians aren’t anything that he cares about) and/or is misled into thinking that North Korea is on the cusp of launching its own imminent first strike (or was provoked into doing so) is if Russia and China convey the message to the US — whether openly or discretely — that they will respond with nuclear weapons if Washington dares to use them.

    This brinksmanship would be very dangerous because there’s no telling whether Kim Jong Un would introduce nukes into any forthcoming conflict first, though from Pyongyang’s perspective it would have to in order to ensure its survival or “go out with a bang” like it’s been threatening, resultantly giving the US a semi-“plausible” right to respond in kind, albeit much more disproportionately.

    However much some people may wish, it is unlikely that Russia and/or China would go to nuclear war against the US over North Korea, especially in the event that Pyongyang used nukes first (whether justifiably or not), and in spite of the long-term radioactive fallout that could devastate their two countries (China much more so than Russia in this case).

    In addition, it can be assured that any US nuclear (counter-)attack against North Korea would be preceded by the scrupulous monitoring of all Chinese nuclear assets “just in case”, meaning that Washington would be on “red alert” to nuke China if Washington thought that Beijing was about to bomb its overseas bases or homeland in preemptive response for the deadly radioactive future that the US would be giving it, thus representing an unimaginably dangerous situation fraught with the risk of even the smallest misstep leading to a nuclear war between the US and China and further diminishing the chance that Beijing would strike back.

    All in all, Trump is proving himself to be the consummate risk-taker who’s not afraid to up the stakes in any situation, and a thorough read of his personality proves that he wouldn’t shy away from using nuclear weapons against North Korea, deeply believing that it’s the key to “Make America Great Again” even if this would run the chance of a nuclear war with China too.

    Trump is a modern-day Machiavelli who doesn’t care about morals, ethics, and principles when it comes to advancing his country’s grand strategic interests on the world stage, but it’s because of the little bit of “humanity” that’s still left within him in caring about the fate of a quarter-million Americans that he has yet to push the nuclear red button that’s sitting so tantalizingly close on his desk.

  • Why Hackers Hack: Visualizing The Motives Behind Cyberattacks

    Cyberattacks caused $450 billion of damage to the global economy in 2016, and this number is predicted to keep rising as we keep adding more connected devices to the mix.

    As Visual Capitalists’s Jeff Desjardins notes, the magnitude of this impact should not be understated. It’s bigger than the size of notable economies like the UAE ($371B) or Norway ($370B) – which is why it’s no surprise to see organizations putting major resources to shore up their internal defenses and to reduce the risk of threats.

    But while the origins of this cybersecurity boom may be clear, what is less obvious is why all of this hacking is happening in the first place.

    Why do hackers hack, and what are the motives behind these powerful cyberattacks?

    WHY HACKERS HACK

    Today’s infographic comes to us from Raconteur, and it breaks down the statistics from a couple of large global studies on cybersecurity.

    Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

     

    One of the first datasets shown comes from Radware, showing the motives behind why hackers hack:

    • Ransom (41%)
    • Insider threat (27%)
    • Political reasons (26%)
    • Competition (26%)
    • Cyberwar (24%)
    • Angry user (20%)
    • Motive unknown (11%)

    Interestingly, ransom is a top motive at 41% – but other reasons like politics, competition, and cyberwar were pretty evenly distributed in the mix as well.

    Verizon, in their 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report, break down the motives of hackers in a different way. Using the three wider categories of “Financial”, “Espionage” and “Fun, Ideology, or Grudge (FIG)”, here is how cyberattacks look over time:

     

    https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/20180104_hack.jpg

    Most notably, espionage appears to be on the rise.

    That’s significant, because over 50% of hacks already come from organized criminal groups, and close to 20% originate from state-affiliated actors. With espionage becoming a more common motive, it suggests that cyberattacks will continue getting more sophisticated and deliberate, and that specialized teams of hackers are executing a growing percentage of the attacks.

    (For a real-time view of this espionage in action, make sure to watch cyberwarfare happening in real-time.)

    WHO AND WHY?

    Hackers hack for a multitude of different reasons.

    However, it does seem that the actors and motives for hacking are gradually shifting over time. Fewer cyberattacks today have FIG motives (fun, ideology, grudge), and more attacks are increasingly tied to espionage.

    With more deliberate, determined, sophisticated, and team-based attackers – it’s no wonder that the cybersecurity industry is growing at a 9.5% annual clip.

  • A Tale Of Two Americas: Where The Rich Get Richer And The Poor Go To Jail

    Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

    This is the tale of two Americas, where the rich get richer and the poor go to jail.

     

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    Aided and abetted by the likes of Attorney General Jeff Sessions—a man who wouldn’t recognize the Constitution if it smacked him in the face—the American dream has become the American scheme: the rich are getting richer and more powerful, while anyone who doesn’t belong to the power elite gets poorer and more powerless to do anything about the nation’s steady slide towards fascism, authoritarianism and a profit-driven police state.

    Not content to merely pander to law enforcement and add to its military largesse with weaponry and equipment designed for war, Sessions has made a concerted effort to expand the police state’s power to search, strip, seize, raid, steal from, arrest and jail Americans for any infraction, no matter how insignificant.

    Now Sessions has given state courts the green light to resume their practice of jailing individuals who are unable to pay the hefty fines imposed by the American police state. In doing so, Sessions has once again shown himself to be not only a shill for the Deep State but an enemy of the people.

    First, some background on debtors’ prisons, which jail people who cannot afford to pay the exorbitant fines imposed on them by courts and other government agencies.

    Congress banned debtors’ prisons in 1833.

    In 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the practice to be unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection clause.

    Where things began to change, according to The Marshall Project, was with the rise of “mass incarceration” when we started to imprison more people for lesser crimes.

    By the late 1980s and early 90s, “there was a dramatic increase in the number of statutes listing a prison term as a possible sentence for failure to repay criminal-justice debt.” During the 2000s, the courts started cashing in big-time “by using the threat of jail time – established in those statutes – to squeeze cash out of small-time debtors.”

    Fast-forward to the present day which finds us saddled with not only profit-driven private prisons and a prison-industrial complex but also, as investigative reporter Eli Hager notes, “the birth of a new brand of ‘offender-funded’ justice.”

    Follow the money trail. It always points the way.

    Whether you’re talking about the government’s war on terrorism, the war on drugs, or some other phantom danger dreamed up by enterprising bureaucrats, there is always a profit-incentive involved.

    The same goes for the war on crime.

    At one time, the American penal system operated under the idea that dangerous criminals needed to be put under lock and key in order to protect society. Today, the flawed yet retributive American “system of justice” is being replaced by an even more flawed and insidious form of mass punishment based upon profit and expediency.

    Sessions’ latest gambit plays right into the hands of those who make a profit by jailing Americans.

    Under such a system, the plight of the average American is measured in dollars and cents.

    This is not justice.

    This is yet another example of how greed and profit-incentives have not only perverted policing in America but have corrupted the entire criminal justice system.

    Unfortunately, the criminal justice system has been operating as a for-profit enterprise for years now, covertly padding its pockets through penalty-riddled programs aimed at maximizing revenue rather than ensuring public safety.

    All of those seemingly hard-working police officers and code-enforcement officers and truancy officers and traffic cops handing out ticket after ticket after ticket: they’re not working to make your communities safer—they’ve got quotas to fill.

    Same goes for the courts, which have come to rely on fines, fees and exorbitant late penalties as a means of increased revenue. The power of these courts, magnified in recent years through the introduction of specialty courts beyond your run-of-the-mill traffic court (drug court, homeless court, veterans court, mental health court, criminal court, teen court, gambling court, prostitution court, community court, domestic violence court, truancy court), is “reshaping the American legal system—with little oversight,” concludes the Boston Globe.

    And for those who can’t afford to pay the court fines heaped on top of the penalties ($302 for jaywalking, $531 for an overgrown yard, or $120 for arriving a few minutes late to court), there’s probation (managed by profit-run companies that tack on their own fees, which are often more than double the original fine) or jail time (run by profit-run companies that charge inmates for everything from food and housing to phone calls at outrageous markups), which only adds to the financial burdens of those already unable to navigate a costly carceral state.

    Ask yourself this: at a time when crime rates across the country remain at historic lows (despite Sessions’ inaccurate claims to the contrary), why does the prison population continue to grow?

    The prison population continues to grow because of a glut of laws that criminalize activities that should certainly not be outlawed, let alone result in jail time. Overcriminalization continues to plague the country because of legislators who work hand-in-hand with corporations to adopt laws that favor the corporate balance sheet. And when it comes to incarceration, the corporate balance sheet weighs heavily in favor of locking up more individuals in government-run and private prisons.

    It’s a vicious cycle that grows more vicious by the day.

    Now you can shrug all of this away as a consequence of committing a crime, but that just doesn’t cut it. Especially not when average Americans are being jailed for such so-called crimes as eating SpaghettiOs (police mistook them for methamphetamine), not wearing a seatbelt, littering, jaywalking, having homemade soap (police mistook the soap for cocaine), profanity, spitting on the ground, farting, loitering and twerking.

    There is no room in the American police state for self-righteousness. Not when we are all guilty until proven innocent.

    As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this is no longer a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

    It is fast becoming a government “of the rich, by the elite, for the corporations,” and its rise to power is predicated on shackling the American taxpayer to a debtors’ prison guarded by a phalanx of politicians, bureaucrats and militarized police with no hope of parole and no chance for escape.

  • Comey's Original Clinton Memo Revealed, Shows Deletions Of Felony Evidence

    For months, speculation has swirled around what exactly former FBI Director James Comey said about Hillary Clinton’s private email server (and handling of classified material). While much has been leaked, and admitted to, thanks to Senate Homeland and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), we now have the complete original Comey statement… and the subsequent rounds of deletions and edits that watered down the felonious Clinton actions to an embarrassing wrist-slap.

     

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    The Hill was first to report late last year that Comey originally concluded Clinton was “grossly negligent” – the statutory term supporting felony mishandling of classified information – when she and her aides transmitted 110 emails containing classified information through her nonsecure server but that subordinates edited the term to the lesser “extremely careless.”

    As The Hill reports, the full draft, with edits, leaves little doubt that Comey originally wrote on May 2, 2016 that there was evidence that Clinton and top aides may have violated both felony and misdemeanor statutes, though he did not believe he could prove intent before a jury.

    Full Draft:

    As the document also shows, Comey’s original statement was edited by subordinates to remove five separate references to terms like “grossly negligent” and to delete mention of evidence supporting felony and misdemeanor violations.

    For example, as The Hill notes, Comey originally wrote:

    “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statute proscribing gross negligence in the handling of classified information and of the statute proscribing misdemeanor mishandling, my judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

    That passage, however, was subsequently edited to remove the references to “gross negligence” and “misdemeanor mishandling,” leaving a much more generic reference to “potential violations of the statutes.”

    “Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

    Remarkably, though the original statement was written on May 6th 2016, Comey did not hold his infamous press conference until two months later… once all the edits were in.

    As Senator Johnson exclaimed, “the edits to Director Comey’s public statement, made months prior to the conclusion of the FBI’s investigation of Secretary Clinton’s conduct, had a significant impact on the FBI’s public evaluation of the implications of her actions,” adding that…

    “this effort, seen in light of the personal animus toward then-candidate Trump by senior agents leading the Clinton investigation and their apparent desire to create an ‘insurance policy’ against Mr. Trump’s election, raise profound questions about the FBI’s role and possible interference in the 2016 presidential election.”

    Rigged, indeed…

  • China Dominates Global Skyscraper Construction

    Last year, skyscraper construction soared to new heights.

    In 2017, 144 new buildings 200 meters (660 feet) or taller were built, including 15 “supertall buildings” at least 300 meters (980 feet) high, according to data published by The Council On Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

    But,  as Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, nowhere came close to China for new skyscrapers where 76 buildings were completed at 200 meters tall or higher.

    Infographic: China Dominates Skyscraper Construction  | Statista

    You will find more statistics at Statista

    The U.S. was a distant second, constructing only ten skyscrapers by comparison.

    South Korea came third with seven while interestingly, neighboring North Korea built four.

    The isolated regime built the country’s four newest skyscrapers at the Ryomyong residential complex in Pyongyang with the tallest stretchting over 270 meters.

    That is some distance short of the highest building constructed in 2017 which was topped out at 599 meters (1,965 feet). That’s China’s 115 floor Ping An Finance Center in Shenzhen which boasts 459,525 square meters of space. The second tallest building of last year is The Lotte World Tower in Seoul, South Korea while the third is Dubai’s Marina 101.

  • The 20 Most "Jaw-Dropping" Claims From Explosive New Trump Book

    The Daily Mail has compiled a list of 20 of the most “jaw-dropping” claims contained in the new book by author Michael Wolff – who was served with a cease-and-desist letter along with former Trump strategist Steve Bannon – and who was warned that legal action is imminent.

    As we noted earlier, the book which was originally scheduled for publication next week, has been accelerated for broad release to Friday to capitalize on the widespread controversy it has generated, not to mention free publicity courtesy of the White House.

    One thing to note: numerous media peers of Wolff’s have already expressed skepticism about the book’s accuracy and contents, which is why it will be up to the reader to determine if to buy it from the fiction or non-fiction section.

    And so, without further ado, or commentary, is the list: 

    1. Steve Bannon described Don Jr’s Trump Tower meeting with Russians as ‘treasonous and unpatriotic’ and thinks he will ‘crack like an egg’ under the pressure of the Russia investigation
    2. Bannon said there’s ‘zero’ chance Donald Trump didn’t know about the meeting and said Don Jr likely ‘walked them to his father’s office’
    3. First Lady Melania Trump openly wept on the night her husband won the election – and the tears ‘were not of joy’
    4. The whole campaign from the top down thought Trump would lose and everyone had planned for defeat, with Trump himself planning a TV network because he would be ‘the most famous man in the world’ 
    5. Trump and Melania sleep in separate bedrooms and he demanded a lock on his bedroom door against the wishes of the Secret Service
    6. Trump orders McDonald’s so he’s not poisoned, told staff not to touch his toothbrush and strips his own bedsheets  
    7. Trump regularly sits in bed eating a cheeseburger at 6.30pm while calling his friends and watching three TVs 
    8. Rupert Murdoch called Trump a ‘f***ing idiot’ after a phone call and billionaire backer Tom Barrack said ‘he’s not only crazy, he’s stupid’ 
    9. Trump’s aides say he doesn’t read and ‘for all practical purposes is no more than semi-literate’ 
    10. Trump would try to bed his friends’ wives by goading their husbands to cheat while the wife listened in on speakerphone
    11. White House Communications Director Hope Hicks dated married Corey Lewandowski and Trump later told her: ‘You’re the best piece of tail he’ll ever have.’
    12. The president called acting attorney general Sally Yates a ‘c***’ after she refused to enforce his immigration ban
    13. Sean Spicer, then press secretary, said ‘you can’t make this s*** up’ after his first briefing and went on adopt the phrase as his personal mantra
    14. Trump tells the same stories three times in ten minutes and forgot a succession of old friends’ names at a Mar-a-Lago party
    15. He called Jared Kushner a ‘suck-up’ and said he should never have let Ivanka and her husband move to Washington
    16. Among his verdicts on his staff: Bannon ‘looked like s***’, Reince Priebus was a midget and Kellyanne Conway was a crybaby
    17. Among his staff’s verdicts on him: ‘dope’, ‘dumb as s***’, ‘hopeless idiot’, ‘just a f***ing fool’, ‘lost his mind’, ‘incapable of functioning in his job’
    18. Trump wondered what a ‘golden shower’ was after reading reports about the notorious Russian dossier
    19. Trump offered to marry Morning Joe’s Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough – and mocked Jared Kushner for saying he’d do it
    20. Ivanka Trump jokes with friends about her father’s hair secrets: He had a scalp reduction, combs over from the sides, and uses Just for Men badly

  • Pepe Escobar: Why There Won't Be A Revolution In Iran

    Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani did the right thing going on television and at least acknowledging popular anger over hard economic times.

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    Inflation is high at 12% but down from 40% at the start of Rouhani’s first term. And the recent increase in fuel and food prices by up to 40% has hardly helped.

    That was part of Team Rouhani’s 2018 budget, which cuts subsidies for the poor – a key feature of the previous Ahmadinejad administration.

    Then there is youth unemployment, which hovers around the 30% mark. Similar figures recently came out of Spain, a member of the European Union. Of course, that explains why the bulk of the protesters are under 25 from working class backgrounds.

    What Rouhani should have explained to Iranians in detail is the direct consequences of hard economic times and United States sanctions, which are affecting the country.

    These were coupled with financial threats against western firms now back in business, or at least contemplating opening up operations, in Iran.

    Rouhani did promise after signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, in the Austrian capital of Vienna in 2015 that it would lead to more jobs and stimulate the economy.

    While that has not been the case, legitimate protests singling out economic problems have never gone away. In fact, they have been part of the Iranian picture for decades.

    If we consider the Islamic Republic experiment, a sort of “theocracy with democratic characteristics,” the most striking element is how deeply rooted it is in the country.

    I learned this during my many trips to Iran and it has a great deal to do with the basij, or voluntary militias. They have permeated all aspects of social life from unions to student bodies and civil servant groups.

    In this respect, there is a strong similarity to China, where the Communist Party is embedded in the very fabric of society.

    Talking to young people in places such as Kashan or Mashhad showed me how solid the popular base was behind the Islamic Republic experiment. It was certainly more thought-provoking than listening to ayatollahs in Qom.

    Still, what is happening now in Iran is that legitimate protests related to economic hardships have been hijacked by the usual suspects in a move to influence the minority. After all, Rouhani’s administration is comparatively liberal compared to the populist Ahmadinejad government.

    So, what we have is a concerted attempt to turn legitimate protests into a “revolutionary” movement with the aim of bringing about a regime change. In all practical purposes, this would be civil war.

    Well, it will simply not work. Anyone familiar with Iran knows the country’s civil society is far too sophisticated to fall into such a crude and obvious trap.

    For a clear take on the foreign influence angle, you should watch Professor Mohammad Marandi, of the University of Tehran, an academic of absolute integrity, arguing with a former BBC employee on the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera television network.

    Indeed, what is certain is that foreign elements are acting as provocateurs to influence the protests. This “whole world is watching” tone is meant to intimidate Tehran’s response.

    Yet there has to be a crackdown against the violence as Rouhani strongly hinted. Imagine the police response if the level of violence seen on Iranian streets was happening in France or Germany?

    Regime change is unlikely but what is in play is setting the scene for a further renewal of economic sanctions against Iran. Possibly, in this case by the EU. Hopefully, it will not fall into this trap.

    Anyway, Tehran is already gearing up to increase business across Eurasia through China’s new Silk Roads, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the Eurasia Economic Union.

    In the end, it is up to Team Rouhani to be creative in alleviating the burden on the economic front.

  • FBI Launches New Investigation Into The Clinton Foundation

    Exactly two weeks after we reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed DOJ prosecutors to dig into the FBI’s handling of the Uranium One investigation, we learn that the FBI has opened a new investigation of the Clinton Foundation launched by the DOJ – spearheaded by its Little Rock, Arkansas field office, according to John Solomon of The Hill

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    FBI Offices, Little Rock, Arkansas

    The probe will focus on pay-for-play schemes and tax code violations, according to law enforcement officials and a witness who wishes to remain anonymous. 

    The officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the probe is examining whether the Clintons promised or performed any policy favors in return for largesse to their charitable efforts or whether donors made commitments of donations in hopes of securing government outcomes.

    The probe may also examine whether any tax-exempt assets were converted for personal or political use and whether the Foundation complied with applicable tax laws, the officials said. –The Hill

    The witness who was interviewed by Little Rock FBI agents said that questions focused on “government decisions and discussions of donations to Clinton entities during the time Hillary Clinton led President Obama’s State Department,” and that the agents were “extremely professional and unquestionably thorough.”

    Also of note, as tweeted by WikiLeaks and reported by the Dallas Observer, the Clinton Foundation has been under investigation by the IRS since July, 2016 after 64 GOP members of congress received letters urging them to push for an investigation. The investigation is being handled by their Dallas office – far away from Washington insiders.

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    Dallas IRS office

    The Earle Cabell Federal Building in downtown Dallas is an all purpose office complex, a bastion of federal bureaucracy located at 1100 Commerce St. Most people come for a passport or to get business done in front of a federal judge. But inside, a quiet review is underway that has direct ties to the raging presidential election: The local branch of the IRS’ Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division is reviewing the tax status of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

    A spokesman for both Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation did not return The Hill‘s calls or emails seeking comments, however they have previously maintained that the Clintons never traded government policy decisions for donations – calling recent focus on the issue a “conservative distraction” from President Trump’s Russia probe.

    Of primary interest to the FBI is likely the Uranium One deal, which would grant the Kremlin control over 20 percent of America’s uranium supply, as detailed by author Peter Schweitzer’s book Clinton Cash and the New York Times in 2015. The scheme allowed Russia to buy its way into the U.S. atomic energy business using the same Clinton Foundation pay-for-play relationship used by 16 countries, including Saudi Arabia – which received a 143% increase in weapons sales over the previous administration after donating to the foundation. 

    A brief timeline of the Uranium One deal: 

    • Between 2008 – 2010, parties involved with Uranium One donated $145 Million to the Clinton Foundation. You can read more about the parties here.
    • June 2009, Russian State Nuclear Agency Rosatom (through a subsidiary) takes a 17% stake in Uranium One.
    • June 2010, Rosatom takes majority (51%) ownership of Uranium One, granting the Kremlin control over 20 percent of U.S. uranium – which Hillary Clinton’s State Department signed off on. The FBI uncovers massive bribery scheme before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approves deal.
    • June 29th, 2010, Bill Clinton meets with Vladimir Putin at his home in Russia. Later that day Clinton earns $500,000 for a Moscow speech to Kremlin-linked investment bank Renaissance Capital, which assigned a “buy” rating to Uranium One stock.
    • January 2013,  Rosatom State Nuclear Agency acquires the remainder of Uranium one and takes it private.

    Also of interest in relation to the Uranium One deal is the fact that weeks after the FBI probe into Hillary Clinton’s email began, the FBI issued notices to every agency in the CFIUS to preserve recordsas discovered by Twitter researcher Katica while looking at FOIA-requested documents.

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    The agencies which received the request included the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Dept. of Treasury, the Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI James Clapper), The National Counter Terrorism Center, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

    Five days after the initial request, the same FBI agent sent another round of notifications to the same agencies, adding the National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.S. Secret Service (USSS). The next day, September 3rd, 2015, three more agencies were added to the preservation request: The CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Department of Defense (DOD)

    At this point, every single member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) which signed off on the Uranium One deal was served with a notice to preserve records. 

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    Another report by The Hill from November reveals that an undercover FBI informant in the Russian nuclear industry who was made to sign an “illegal NDA” by former AG Loretta Lynch, claims to have video evidence showing Russian agents with briefcases full of bribe money related to the controversial Uranium One deal – according to The Hill investigative journalist John Solomon and Circa‘s Sara Carter.

    The informant, whose identity was revealed by Reuters as William D. Campbell, will testify before congress next week after the NDA which carried the threat of prison time was lifted. Campbell, originally misidentifed by Reuters as a lobbyist is actually a nuclear industry consultant who is currently battling cancer. 

    As previously reported, Campbell was deeply embedded in the Russian nuclear industry where he gathered extensive evidence of a racketeering scheme involving bribes and kickbacks.

    The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials. –The Hill

    Campbell’s attorney, former Regan Justice Department official Victoria Toensing, previously told Fox Business host Lou Dobbs “He can tell what all the Russians were talking about during the time that all these bribery payments were made.

    WikiLeaks also revealed that the house of Saud heavily contributed to the Clinton Foundation, and reports surfaced that they funded 20% of Clinton’s campaign.

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    Indeed, it appears that the Saudis – the old “pre-crackdown” Saudis of course, who wouldn’t let women drive cars, were hoping for a significant return on their investment under a Hillary Clinton White House with John Podesta ostensibly in the Secretary of State role – similar to the 143% increase in weapons sales granted to the Kingdom and other Clinton-foundation friendly governments while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. 

    As reported by International Business Times

    The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration.

    It’s clear they had a lot riding on Hillary, some say in the hopes of co-opting the US military into an intervention in Syria to topple President Bashar al-Assad. The plan was regime change – with the goal of installing yet another Western friendly puppet government which would rubber-stamp a lucrative Saudi/Qatar pipeline through the country, exiting into the Mediterranean through Turkey – as opposed to a competing Russian / Iranian / Syrian pipeline.

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    Moreover, WikiLeaks exposed the fact that Saudi Arabia and Qatar funded ISIS – which then invaded Syria in an effort to co-opt the Arab spring and topple Assad. Recall that Hillary’s plan was to join ISIS in this fight, starting with the institution of a “no fly” zone which would have put the United States in direct conflict with Russia.

    There was also, of course, the $1 million check Qatar gave to Bill Clinton on his birthday, as disclosed by WikiLeaks, in which Amitabh Desai, the Clinton Foundation’s director of foreign policy, writes to senior Clinton Foundation officials explaining the “summary of key points” from his meetings with the “Ambassadors from Qatar, Brazil, Peru, Malawi, and Rwanda, in Washington, DC.”

    Describing his meeting with the ambassador of Qatar, Desai wrote, “Would like to see WJC [William Jefferson Clinton] ‘for five minutes’ in NYC, to present $1 million check that Qatar promised for WJC’s birthday in 2011.”

    It gradually becomes clear that Hillary Clinton was set to use United States military assets at the behest of Saudi Arabia – first for regime change in Syria, and then in Saudi Arabia’s confict with Yemen as the next logical target. It also emerged that Hillary’s right hand woman Huma Abedin has had alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood which still haven’t been investigated. John McCain, interestingly enough, chastised Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN) for pointing this out. In addition, a former Muslim Brotherhood member turned peace activist, Walid Shoebat said in an interview with Front Page Magazine:

    The Abedins for decades were actually serving a foreign entity, the government of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, and not American Democracy as President Obama stated. -FrontPage

    With all that said, and there is much more (to scrape the surface read “Clinton Foundation Is Charity Fraud Of Epic Proportions”, Analyst Charges In Stunning Takedown“, it appears that the FBI should have its hands full re-investigating the Clinton Foundation. Perhaps Attorney General Sessions will even ensure that Clinton loyalists within the organization aren’t responsible for things such as; reaching conclusions, recommending charges, closing investigations and changing language which would exonerate otherwise very illegal behavior. 

  • Yale Shrink Tells Lawmakers Trump Is "Uncontainable, Going To Unravel" In Renewed 25th Amendment Push

    Over a dozen lawmakers met with a Yale psychiatry professor for two days to meet and confer over President Trump’s mental fitness – continuing a campaign by Democrats launched nearly a year ago to review the 25th Amendment and try to remove Trump from office. 

     

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    Dr. Brandy X. Lee told Congressional Democrats (and one Republican) on Dec. 5 and 6 that President Trump is “going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs,” reports Politico.

    In an interview, she pointed to Trump “going back to conspiracy theories, denying things he has admitted before, his being drawn to violent videos.” Lee also warned, “We feel that the rush of tweeting is an indication of his falling apart under stress. Trump is going to get worse and will become uncontainable with the pressures of the presidency.”

    Around the same time, Rep Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said he planned to introduce legislation that would require the presence of a psychiatrist or psychologist in the White House – which went nowhere, while Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) in a floor speech this week called for a review of the Constitution’s procedures for removing a president. He warned the 25th Amendment of the Constitution falls short when it comes to mental or emotional fitness for office.

    In October, billionaire Tom Steyer too out a prime time ad during the World Series, urging the country to impeach Trump, who is “a clear and present danger who’s mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons…

    Trump was not impressed…

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    So, what’s Article 4 to the 25th Amendment? As we noted last year, the amendment itself is about presidential succession, and includes language about the power of the office when a president is incapacitated. But Digby recently highlighted the specific text of growing relevance:

    “Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”

    What does that mean exactly?

    Well, it means Congress isn’t the only institution that can remove a president from office between elections. Under the 25th Amendment, a sitting vice president and a majority of the executive branch’s cabinet could, on their own, agree to transfer power out of the hands of a sitting president. At that point, those officials would notify Congress, and the vice president would assume the office as the acting president.

    And what if the challenged president wasn’t on board with the plan to remove him/her from the office? According to a recent explainer“If the president wants to dispute this move, he can, but then it would be up to Congress to settle the matter with a vote. A two-thirds majority in both houses would be necessary to keep the vice president in charge. If that threshold isn’t reached, the president would regain his powers.” All of this comes up in fiction from time to time, and in all likelihood, Americans will probably never see this political crisis play out in real life. And that’s probably a good thing: by all appearances, the intended purpose of the constitutional provision was to address a president with a serious ailment – say, a stroke, for example – in which he or she is alive, but unable to fulfill the duties of the office.

    And nearly a year later, Democrats and never-Trumpers are still working on a “soft palace coup” with the assistance of the MSM. As we noted in February of 2017, we expected such speculation will only get louder – and here we are, once again. 

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