Nov 05

Today’s News 5th November 2017

  • Washington Stomps On Civil Liberty

    Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

    The insouciant American electorate is so inattentive that it routinely elects enemies of civil liberty to represent the public in Congress. Last Wednesday Rep. Adam Schiff (D, CA), Rep. Trey Gowdy ( R, SC), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D, CA), Sen. Mark Warner (D, VA), Rep. Jackie Speier (D, CA), Sen. Tom Cotton (R , AR ), and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D, TX) tried to intimidate executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google into blocking all digital dissent to the anti-Trump/Russian line taken by the DNC and military/secrurity complex and to serve as spy agencies for the CIA.

    Two of the above – Gowdy and Cotton – are Republicans who have aligned themselves with the attack on Russia and Republican President Trump. What unites the members of the two parties is that they want a police state. Jackie Speier demands to know from Google why Google hasn’t “shut down RT on YouTube.” Joaquin Castro wants messages linked to Russia turned over to the US government. Trey Gowdy wants false statements blocked, which would mean that the entire print and TV media in the US would be shut down along with Congress, John Brennan, Robert Mueller, and James Comey. Gowdy does not know that the First Amendment guarantees free speech and leaves it up to the public to decide what is true and what is false.

    You tell me.

    What kind of insouciant people are capable of electing representatives who do not respect the Bill of Rights?

    Is a country whose government does not respect its own Constitution a democracy? Is such a country an exceptional, indispensable country?

    Or is it a completely corrupt entity whose government no longer has the slightest allegience to the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution?

    What is the quality of an electorate that sends those with a police state mentality to represent them in the government that has power over them?

    Are we witnessing the destruction of democracy by the electorate?

    Is the failure of the American people staring us in the face?

    Are you amazed that it is the executives of Facebook, Twitter, and Google, and not the members of Congress who have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, who point out to US Representatives and Senators that their demands for censorship and spying are unconstitutional?

    What is the liberal/progressive/left, which believes that good resides in government and evil in the private sector, to make of this?

    Is the hatred of dissent so great that nothing else is important?

    Here is a report on Wednesday’s hearings by the House and Senate Intelligence (sic) committees on “extremist” views (via Global Research's Andre Damon)…

    Lawmakers Demand Tech Companies Censor Journalists and Conduct Mass Surveillance

    Wednesday’s hearings by the House and Senate Intelligence committees on “extremist” political views served as the occasion for members of Congress to urge technology companies to flagrantly violate the US Constitution by censoring political speech, carrying out mass surveillance, and muzzling journalists in pursuit of the government’s geopolitical aims.

    The hearings revolved around allegations, promoted ceaselessly in recent months by the intelligence agencies, leading figures within the Democratic Party, and newspapers such as the New York Times, that social opposition to the political establishment results from “fake news” promoted by Russia.

    As Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff put it, “Russia” promoted “discord in the US by inflaming passions on a range of divisive issues” and sought to “mobilize real Americans to sign online petitions and join rallies and protests.”

    The basic problem, however, as Schiff put it, is “not just foreign.” The algorithms used by Facebook and Twitter have the “consequence of widening divisions among our society.” Schiff complained:

    “What ends up percolating to the top of our feeds tends to be things we were looking for,” as opposed to US government propaganda disseminated by the establishment media, which he referred to as “true information.”

    Congressman Adam Schiff

    In line with Schiff’s assessment, members of Congress who participated in the hearings spent the bulk of their time demanding that the companies censor such “fake” news, which they equated with the writings of exiled journalist Julian Assange and other political dissidents.

    It is a testament to the decay of American democracy that it was left to the representatives of Facebook and Twitter, who have been broadly accused of violating users’ privacy for their own financial gain, to inform members of Congress about the ABC of constitutional law.

    In an exchange that embodied the total contempt for freedom of speech that pervades the ruling elite, South Carolina Representative Trey Gowdy demanded that Facebook and Twitter block their users from making inaccurate statements about the current day of the week.

    “Can I ‘say today is Thursday’,” the South Carolinian demanded. “What are you going to do with that?” Gowdy asked which constitutional amendment protects the right of people to make such statements, totally oblivious that almost all false statements are protected under the First Amendment.

    Colin Stretch, Facebook’s general counsel, fighting back a skeptical smile, replied:

    “There is Supreme Court precedent on that…”

    Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch

    Gowdy, befuddled, demanded: “On which side?” Stretch answered:

    “That it is, in most cases, protected.” He continued: “On Facebook, our job is not to decide whether content is true or false.”

    Although the representatives of the technology companies largely played along with the narrative of “Russian meddling” in American politics, their resistance to the most flagrant censorship demanded by the government piqued the ire of the senators leading the witch-hunt.

    “I don’t think you get it,” fumed Senator Dianne Feinstein, who said the past year had seen “a cataclysmic change” in American politics. This is “the beginning of cyber warfare,” she declared, and technology companies “have to really take a look at that and what role you play.”

    Senator Mark Warner, for his part, complained that his accusations had been “frankly blown off by the leaderships of your companies and dismissed.”

    Earlier this month, Google removed Russia Today (RT), a Russian-sponsored TV station and online news outlet that reports stories largely censored by the mainstream press, from its list of “preferred” channels on YouTube. Feinstein took issue with Google’s statement that it revoked RT’s status as a preferred channel for non-political reasons, and demanded to know why Google had not acted against RT earlier.

    Google’s general counsel Kent Walker replied:

    “We have carefully reviewed the content of RT to see that it complies with the policies that we have against hate speech, violence, etc. So far, we have not found violations.”

    California Democratic representative Jackie Speier asserted that RT “seeks to influence politics and fuel discontent in the United States.” She asked:

    “Why have you not shut down RT on YouTube? … It’s a propaganda machine, Mr. Walker, the intelligence community says it’s an arm of one of our adversaries.”

    The clashes continued. Senator Tom Cotton demanded to know why Twitter refused to turn its platform over to the CIA in order to conduct mass surveillance. He asked:

    “Do you see an equivalency between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Russian intelligence services?”

    Sean Edgett, Twitter’s general counsel, replied:

    “We’re not offering our service for surveillance to any government.”

    Cotton likewise demanded that Twitter censor WikiLeaks’ editor Assange.

    “The current director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, as well as this committee, has labeled WikiLeaks a non-state hostile intelligence service who aids hostile foreign powers like the Kremlin,” he said. “Yet, to my knowledge, Twitter still allows him to operate uninhibited.”

    Receiving a reply from Twitter general counsel Edgett that the company applies its policies “without bias,” Cotton retorted:

    “Is it biased to side with America over our adversaries?”

    In yet another incitement for technology companies to violate the Constitution, this time the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, Texas Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro asked:

    “Are you also intending to turn over to the committee any kind of direct messages” on accounts suspected of being linked to Russia?

    When Edgett pushed back that this would be possible only through legal channels, Castro responded:

    “Certainly you’re not making the argument that a Russian account, a fakely created account, has some protection of privacy here.”

    Edgett replied:

    “Some users may end up being fake. Others will be real.”

    The most surprising element of the hearings, however, was the extent to which Walker, Google’s general counsel, sought to separate Google’s search tools from the social networks operated by Facebook and Twitter when it comes to “fake news.”

    In reference to a question regarding fake news, Walker interjected:

    “I think there’s a distinction between say Google search, whose goal is to provide accurate, relevant, comprehensive information and social network concerns,” such as those related to Twitter and Facebook. “We think the heart and soul of the products is to try to provide useful and, to the extent we can, accurate information to users.”

    This was in addition to his prepared testimony, where he noted:

    “At Google News, we use fact check labels to spot fake news. At Google search, we have updated our quality guidelines and evaluations to help surface more authoritative content from the web.”

    Based on the stated goal of fighting “fake news,” Google has implemented sweeping changes to its search algorithm that has led search traffic to 13 leading left-wing, progressive and anti-war sites to plunge 55 percent. Search traffic from Google to the World Socialist Web Site has fallen by 74 percent, and the site has been blocked from Google News.

    Wednesday’s testimony makes clear the political motives behind Google’s actions. Rather than seeking, as it publicly claims, to provide “true” and “authentic” content, Google is acting as the proxy of the US government and its agencies to muzzle its critics and political opponents.

  • Donna Brazile Says Clinton Campaign Officials Made Her Feel Like "Patsey The Slave"

    The Democratic Party's nominal support for "identity politics" has once again been exposed as little more than hollow virtue-signaling…

    By now, it’s become clear that the Democratic party establishment installed Donna Brazile has the head of the DNC expecting her to be an obedient stooge who would turn a blind eye to the endemic corruption and mismanagement inside America’s oldest major political party. Unfortunately for them, Brazile had no intention of keeping quiet when she discovered that Obama’s negligence had left the party in debt, effectively allowing the Clinton to play a deciding role in doling out resources, setting strategy and myriad other issues.

    A year after Trump’s upset victory over Clinton poleaxed the Washington establishment and smug Democratic elitists who felt it was their candidate’s god-given right to effortlessly slide into office despite being one of the most unpopular major-party candidates in recent memory, Brazile is speaking out in a new book, excerpts from which have been published in Politico and the Washington Post.

    In one detail printed today by WaPo, Brazile recounts how Clinton’s top aides repeatedly disrespected and demeaned her, which she equated to being treated like a slave.

    Brazile alleges that Clinton’s top aides routinely disrespected her and put the DNC on a “starvation diet,” depriving it of funding for voter turnout operations.

     

    As one of her party’s most prominent black strategists, Brazile also recounts fiery disagreements with Clinton’s staffers — including a conference call in which she told three senior campaign officials, Charlie Baker, Marlon

     

    Marshall and Dennis Cheng, that she was being treated like a slave.

     

    “I’m not Patsey the slave,” Brazile recalls telling them, a reference to the character played by Lupita Nyong’o in the film, “12 Years a Slave.” “Y’all keep whipping me and whipping me and you never give me any money or any way to do my damn job. I am not going to be your whipping girl!”

    Over the past two days, Brazile has revealed how former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz effectively ceded control of the party to the Clinton campaign, which looted funds from state party organizations and restricted the money flowing into the DNC after agreeing to pay off most of its debt.

    She also revealed that she considered replacing Clinton with Joe Biden after she collapsed during a ceremony at the 9/11 memorial. But most shockingly of all, she said that she feared for her life after the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, which she feared may have been planned by nefarious elements from within the party.

  • Is The U.S. Navy Being Truthful With Its Report On Recent Crash Incidents?

    Authored by Duance Norman via Free Market Shooter blog,

    Recently, Free Market Shooter (as well as the US Navy) questioned the cause of a string of crashes involving Navy destroyers and cruisers… all occurring this year:

    Recently, the US military, unable to come up with a cause for the incidents, began investigating something else – “compromised computer systems”:

     

    The military is examining whether compromised computer systems were responsible for one of two U.S. Navy destroyer collisions with merchant vessels that occurred in recent months, Vice Admiral Jan Tighe, the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare, said on Thursday.

     

    Naval investigators are scrambling to determine the causes of the mishaps, including whether hackers infiltrated the computer systems of the USS John S. McCain ahead of the collision on Aug. 21, Tighe said during an appearance at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

     

    The presumption that has been made is that these vessels are being hacked, China is the responsible party, given the proximity of the vessel crashes to the nation, as well as recent incidents where the US and China have butted heads.  But it is worth asking; are these vessels being hacked?  More importantly, if they are being hacked, who is hacking the vessels, and why?

    However, this author did not discount other possible causes for the incidents, including complacent Navy sailors…

    It is also worth noting that US Navy vessels do not broadcast an AIS signal (which can be seen on www.marinetraffic.com) with their respective position, like nearly all other vessels, due to obvious security/defense reasons. You almost never hear news of large commercial ships crashing into each other, which is due not just to AIS, but due to the fact that they actively try to broadcast their position by other means, such as running lights.

     

    Which brings in the possibility of simple human error from US Navy operators as being the cause of these crashes.  Could it be that simple complacency and/or lack of proper training has resulted in these incidents? Given the professionalism of our military, that seems unlikely, but it wouldn’t be the first (and almost certainly won’t be the last) time it has happened.

    …a theme which was commonly brought up in responses to this article after it was posted on The Burning Platform:

    • Here’s a more likely scenario – its driven and manned by a bunch of incompetent sailors, who very well may have gotten there through some kind of affirmative action nonsense, or social promotion, where pople get qualifications on things they aren’t competent enough to handle because no CO wants to get accused of racism or sexism for failing a black/women/whatever person on the oral board for underway watches. I’ve never been in the Navy, but I’ve seen it, many times. People given way more responsiblity that they are competent to handle, and you just sit back and wait for them to do something stupid, while hoping no one gets hurt. Also, they are probably spending more time doing mandated training on SJW type nonsense than learning how to sail their boat.
    • Never attribute something to highly complex malice when it can easily be contributed to stupidity and/or incompetence. Thats how Occam would slice it.
    • A complete breakdown in seafaring culture, from top to bottom. The lookouts either failed or had their reports ignored. The radarmen failed to kep track. The bridge lookouts failed, the officer of the deck failed, and the C/O failed by not ensuring that he had competent people at every position. His C/O failed because he knew that the ship captain was incapable of taut management, and likely knew that many of the junior officers and petty officers were untrained and incompetent.
    • A complete failure of culture. God help them if they become hard targets in a shooting engagement.
    • I’ve worked on vessels in the oil field my whole life and have seen the decline in discipline and accountability. With so many wireless devices it’s almost impossible to keep people focused on their task. If they would disconnect the internet from these vessels and keel hull a few of the captains most of the problem would go away.
    • Hacking, GPS spoofing, etc are all things that should be investigated. However IMO they are unlikely. What seems more likely to me is there is a breakdown of operational discipline.
    • However this was brought on is open for much debate. A large factor that I think contributes, is the shift away from the military from being an instrument of death to our enemies to a global force for good and social engineering experiments.

    And in the case of the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain, the Navy has ruled that incompetence was indeed the cause of the incidents:

    The collision between Fitzgerald and Crystal was avoidable and resulted from an accumulation of smaller errors over time, ultimately resulting in a lack of adherence to sound navigational practices. Specifically, Fitzgerald’s watch teams disregarded established norms of basic contact management and, more importantly, leadership failed to adhere to well-established protocols put in place to prevent collisions. In addition, the ship’s triad was absent during an evolution where their experience, guidance and example would have greatly benefited the ship.

     

    The collision between John S. McCain and Alnic MC was also avoidable and resulted primarily from complacency, over-confidence and lack of procedural compliance. A major contributing factor to the collision was sub-standard level of knowledge regarding the operation of the ship control console. In particular, McCain’s commanding officer disregarded recommendations from his executive officer, navigator and senior watch officer to set sea and anchor watch teams in a timely fashion to ensure the safe and effective operation of the ship. With regard to procedures, no one on the Bridge watch team, to include the commanding officer and executive officer, were properly trained on how to correctly operate the ship control console during a steering casualty.

    Is the Navy being truthful in its assessment of these incidents?  More than likely, yes.  But it should be acknowledged that the Navy could be “covering up” another cause of the incident, which could be anything from the aforementioned hacking, to problems with the Navy’s Aegis system, as was previously stated on Free Market Shooter:

    A far more likely scenario is that there is a problem with the Aegis system and/or other navigation systems on US naval vessels. The US Navy, known to cover up all sorts of problems in the past, would have every reason to mask the true reason behind these collisions if they are tied to a defective weapons system. Notably, the unreliable nature of the US ground-based interceptor program under questionable test conditions has led many to believe that the system is just another failed defense project sucking up billions of taxpayer dollars.  It is not far-fetched to believe that one of our deployed systems is operating with a serious defect that has been swept under the rug by the DoD.

    It is also worth acknowledging that if hacking indeed was to blame, the Navy would not acknowledge it publicly.  If hacking was the culprit, the Navy would not want the enemy to know that it had isolated the issue and corrected it, allowing the enemy to go along in the belief that they could continue to compromise Navy vessels.

    However, in the cases of all of these US Navy crashes, the simplest explanation is likely the correct one, and the simplest explanation is the one that the Navy provided – a complete breakdown in seafaring culture.  Still, it has to be acknowledged that the Navy could be covering for a far larger problem. 

  • Commuters & Computers: Mapping America's Megaregions

    From California’s Bay Area to the highly-integrated Great Lakes Economy, megaregions are a dominating aspect of human geography and commerce. It should be no surprise then, that 85% of corporate head offices in the US and Canada are overwhelmingly concentrated in the core cities of great megaregions.

    We tend to think of cities as individual economic units, but as they expand outward and bleed together, defining them simply by official jurisdictions and borders becomes difficult. After all, as Visual Capitalist's Nick Routley notes, many of the imaginary lines divvying up the country are remnants of decisions from centuries ago – and other county and state lines exist for more counterintuitive reasons such as gerrymandering.

    What if there was a more data-driven approach to examine America’s urban networks?

    Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

    COMPUTER, TAKE THE WHEEL

    By ignoring borders and looking purely at commuter data, geographer Garrett Nelson and urban analyst Alasdair Rae looked to map the relationship between population centers in their paper, An Economic Geography of the United States: From Commutes to Mega-regions.

    Researchers used visual and algorithmic approaches to build their map.

    The study used network partitioning software to link together 4 million commutes between census tracts. This gives us a very granular look at the “gravitational pull” of America’s population centers, and helps us better understand the economic links that bind a region together.

    By combining visual and mathematical approaches, and some creative place-naming, the researchers created a map that they hope reflects America’s true economic geography.

    ALGORITHMIC INSIGHTS

    The concept of megaregions is hardly new, and there are already definitions for global megacities that use everything from infrastructure systems to light patterns derived from satellite imagery.

    That said, this research is fine example of using data and an algorithmic approach to look at systems in a new way, unburdened by our political and cultural preconceptions.

    *  *  *

    Interested in more infographics on human geography? There’s just a couple of days left to make the Visual Capitalist book a reality on Kickstarter.

  • "All We Want Is Respect" – NYC's Strippers Are Going On Strike

    Wealthy Wall Street finance types are going to need to find a new way to entertain their wealthy asset-management clients – at least for the time being – because the strippers are going on strike.

    The source of the dispute is a simmering dispute between New York City dancers and a growing cohort of Instagram-famous “startenders” who wear outfits that are almost as revealing as the strippers' outfits, but also promote the club on social media – bringing in a loyal following of customers – while also serving drinks.

    The club owners, not wanting to lose the revenue that the bartenders are bringing in, have stood idly by while the bartenders' influence inside the clubs has grown, while the strippers, who typically pay clubs a house fee to dance, are seeing their nightly earnings dwindle.

    The result? One stripper who spoke to the post said she used to make $1,000 a night. But now she’s pulling in closer to $400.

    “No dancer in New York City is making $1,000 a night anymore."

    Of course, the strike is still in its early stages. But according to the Washington Post, it’s quickly gaining support.

    Panama is a stage name and she declined to provide her real name. She is for real, though, said Mona Marie, the owner of a New York dance studio where many dancers train called Poletic Justice. And, she says, so are their mounting grievances, so much so that some of them have declared a stripper’s strike. It’s unclear how many dancers are participating and what the impact on the clubs has been. The strike is about a week old.

     

    This isn’t your normal labor dispute between employees and employers. It’s between bartenders and strippers, on the one hand, and between strippers and club promoters on the other, who tend to side with the bartenders because, after all, it’s the bartenders who they believe are bringing in the customers via social media.

    As it turns out, the advent of photo-sharing apps like Instagram and Snapchat has violently disrupted the business of being an exotic dancer. To compensate for the drop in their nightly take at NYC clubs, the dancers now travel more because they can earn more money at clubs down South, or clubs in smaller towns where girls from fresh faces can earn more money.

    Because of the club owners’ indifference, many of the best dancers to skip NYC altogether, one stripper said.

    A dancer named Gizelle Marie is one of the strike organizers. “The [New York City] bartenders tell the customers not to tip us. They block us from the customers while we dance or they are sweeping our money off the stage while we dance,” she told The Post. Several videos taken from inside different clubs posted on Instagram appear to support her claim.

     

    Gizelle Marie says most customers can’t tell bartenders apart from strippers anymore because they all basically dress the same and “the club promoters and owners encourage the behavior."

     

    Gizelle Marie got the idea to mobilize the NYC Strippers Strike after she traveled to Washington last month to dance at a club during Howard University’s homecoming.

     

    “I made a lot of money. It made me think to myself that a lot of the great dancers aren’t dancing in New York anymore. They moved away to other cities to work or they just completely stopped,” Gizelle said.

     

    Within a couple days, she posted the word on Instagram and 30 strippers gathered last week at Poletic Justice in the Bronx for a meeting.

     

    Panama said, “The dancers used to be the most respected in the club, and now it’s like the dancers are at the bottom of the barrel. And the dark-skinned dancers are all the way at the bottom of the barrel."

    Among other considerations, the striking strippers are demanding a reduction in house fees and that black dancers also have the opportunity to be hired as bartenders.

    In the past, the dancers have mostly been silent about their issues out of fear, she said. “People were in fear of losing their jobs if they spoke out. A lot of these women have other careers, are parents, are putting themselves through school so that fear factor absolutely played a part in it."

     

    They want their house fees reduced. They want bartenders to pay house fees, too. The black dancers want the opportunity to be hired as bartenders. And they want the bartenders to stop stealing their money.

     

    They wish as well that management would stop pitting the strippers and bartenders against each other. The dancers believe everyone can work together harmoniously if rules are established.

     

    “All we want is respect at the end of the day,” Gizelle Marie said. “If it doesn’t change by us going to the owners we’ll take further matters legally."

    However, the nascent strike is facing one major obstacle: Club promoters’ reaction to the strike ranges from  indifferent to downright hostile.

    Club promoters are not sympathetic to the strippers’ demands. Sean Simmons, promotional director for Aces New York, said the strike is “nonsense.” He said there is no racism in the nightclubs and that he employed “all ethnicities” as dancers and bartenders at his club before it was shut down a couple months ago.

     

    “The whole industry itself has changed,” Simmons told The Post in a brief phone interview. “Some clubs are bartender-driven, but that’s just because the bartenders are beautiful women.” Simmons said that there should be rules and regulations between dancers and bartenders, but said, “Nothing will come from the strike."

    Still, the women plan to keep fighting.

    “No matter how people perceive your work environment, a work environment is a work environment and everybody needs to be respected and treated equally. If there’s something you can do to help or change your establishment, you should do it.”

  • The 'War On Terror' Has Cost American Taxpayers $250 Million A Day For 16 Years

    Authored by Darius Shahtahmasebi via TheAntiMedia.org,

    The U.S. government has spent a staggering $1.46 trillion on wars abroad since September 11, 2001, according to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) periodical “Cost of War” report. As International Business Times reports, this amounts to $250 million a day for 16 years consecutively.

    The newly released version, published by the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy News blog, spans war-related activity from the September 11th terrorist attacks through mid-2017.

    According to the report, despite the fact that the war on terror is still ongoing rapidly to this day, Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011) and Operation Enduring Freedom (2001-2014) account for the vast majority of the cost, amounting to more than $1.3 trillion collectively.

    It must be noted that this analysis only covers direct war-related expenses and is certainly on the lower side of such estimates of the cost of American wars to date. For example, in 2014, a report from Congress’ nonpartisan research arm found that the government had already shelled out over $1.6 trillion for the war on terror. That estimate would amount to approximately $337 million per day every single day for that 13-year period.

    Last year, a report released by Dr. Neta Crawford, professor of political science at Brown University, found that spending by the United States Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, and Veteran Affairs since 9/11 was even higher, reaching almost $5 trillion.

    That being said, the DoD’s recent report mainly covers the costs of military operational costs, support for deployed troops, and transportation of personnel and equipment. It does not include the expense of veterans’ benefits for troops who served in these wars. The cost of veterans’ benefits alone is projected to be somewhere between $600 billion and $1 trillion. The total also notably does not include “non-DoD classified programs” such as those conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency, which, as we know, has a significant budget of its own.

    Further, war zones where the U.S. military has been actively engaged in recent years, such as Libya and Somalia, did not even receive specific mentions in the report. If $250 million a day for a 16-year period already sounds far too much to be spending on death and destruction, one can be assured that the true financial cost of the war on terror is, in reality, much higher.

    As International Business Times explained, the war on terror has become America’s costliest war since World War II:

    “According to the Congressional Research Service, the only war in U.S. history to cost more than the Global War on Terror is World War II, at more than $4.1 trillion in present dollars. Direct war-related expenses from the Vietnam War cost $738 billion in today’s dollars.”

    As StockBoardAsset.com reports, glancing at the American empire, there are nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad. 

    To maintain this global force,  the US Senate approved a $700 billion military bill this year. The amount eclipses $549 billion military spending cap established by 2011 Budget Control Act. More evidence fund flows are increasing, as the narrative is being set with America’s next enemy in the crosshairs.

  • In Shocking Purge, Saudi King Arrests Billionaire Prince Bin Talal, Dozens Of Others In Cabinet Crackdown

    In a shocking development, Saudi press Al Mayadeen reported late on Saturday that prominent billionaire, member of the royal Saudi family, and one of the biggest shareholders of Citi, News Corp. and Twitter – not to mention frequent CNBC guest – Al-Waleed bin Talal, along with ten senior princes, and some 38 ministers, has been arrested for corruption and money laundering charges on orders from the new anti-corruption committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, while Royal princes’ private planes have been grounded.

    Among those fired and/or arrested are the head of National Royal Guards, Miteb Bin Abdullah, the Minister of Economy and Planning, Adel Fakeih, and Admiral Abdullah bin Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Sultan, the Commander of the Saudi Naval Forces.

    As the local press further adds, the supreme committee chaired by Crown Prince and billionaire stops “on charges of money laundering.”

    al-Waleed bin Talal is perhaps best known not only for his periodic CNBC appearances, but for his recurring on and off spats with president Trump:

    According to al Arabiya, among those sacked and/or arrested are Moteib Bin Abdullah, Minister of the National Guard, and Prince Khalid bin Ayyaf has been appointed as his replacement. A second Royal Order was issued to relieve Minister of Economy and Planning, Adel al-Faqieh, from his duties, and the appointment of Mohammed Al Tuwaijri as Minister of Economy and Planning.

    According to a Royal Decree issued by King Salman on Saturday the anti-corruption committee is chaired by the Crown Prince with the membership of: Chairman of the Monitoring and Investigation Commission, Chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Authority, Chief of the General Audit Bureau, Attorney General and Head of State Security.

    As Saudi analysts were quick to point out, the purge by the Saudi King means that King Abdallah’s last remnants (Riyad firmer gov. & head of Nat. Guard); media moguls; SAGIA & financial policy officials have been purged.

    As Bloomberg notes, changing the head of the National Guard, an institution that’s been controlled by the clan of the late King Abdullah, “is not like changing the minister of oil,” said Kamran Bokhari, a senior analyst with Geopolitical Futures and a senior fellow with the Center for Global Policy. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this leads to greater fissures within the royal family.”

    Arabiya adds that King Salman also issued sacking and replacement orders for Admiral Abdullah bin Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Sultan, the Commander of the Naval Forces, is to be terminated and be retired; his replacement is Vice Admiral Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Ghifaili, to be promoted to the rank of admiral and be appointed as Commander of the Naval Forces.

    Additionally, Minister of Economy and Planning Adel al-Faqieh was replaced by Mohammed al-Tuwaijri, SPA said, quoting a royal decree. Commander of the Saudi Navy, Abdullah al-Sultan, was replaced with Fahad al-Ghafli. The king also replaced Minister of Economy and Planning Adel Fakeih withMohammad Al Tuwaijri, his deputy.

    Al Tuwaijri, formerly vice minister for economy and planning, had already played a key role in shaping Saudi economic and fiscal policy over the past year. Before joining the government in May 2016 he was Middle East chief executive for HSBC. He’s served as a frequent spokesman for the government’s economic reform plan on TV and with Western journalists.

    King Salman also issued an decree forming an anti-corruption committee headed by the crown prince. Its powers include the ability to trace funds and assets, and prevent their transfer or liquidation on behalf of individuals or entities, along with the right to take any precautionary actions until cases are referred to relevant investigatory or judiciary authorities, according to a government statement.

    The committee’s formation was deemed necessary “due to the propensity of some people for abuse, putting their personal interest above public interest, and stealing public funds,” the Royal Order said.

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    Some more cynical observers noted how MBS is quickly learning from XIi Jinping “how to get rid of enemies under justification of “corruption commission” & place “friendlies” in high places.”

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    Others arrested include Walid bin Talal; Khaled Tuweijri; AlWalid Ibrahim; Turki Bin Naser; and others.

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    Putting the arrests in context, the heads of the main three Saudi owned TV networks were arrested, Alwalid Bin Talal (Rotana), Walid Al Brahim (MBC), Saleh Kamel (ART)

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    As Bloomberg adds, Saudi King Salman appointed a former HSBC banker to head the country’s economy ministry and removed one of the royal family’s most prominent princes from as head of the National Guard. Separately, a number of Saudi princes and former ministers were arrested by authorities hours after the announcement of a new anti-corruption committee, with sweeping powers and headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news service reported.

    Prince Miteb, son of the late King Abdullah, was replaced as minister of the National Guard by Prince Khaled Ayyaf, according to a royal decree carried by state-run media late Saturday. Before his ouster, Prince Miteb was one of the few remaining senior princes to have survived a series of cabinet reshuffles that promoted allies of the crown prince, who is the king’s son and heir to the throne.

     

    King Salman has sidelined other senior members of the royal family to prevent any opposition to the crown prince. Prince Mohammed, 32, replaced his elder cousin, Muhammed bin Nayef, as crown prince in June, a maneuver that removed any doubt of how succession plans will unfold following the reign of King Salman, now 81.

    While details remain scarce about this “Saturday of the long Saudi knives” – which some have suggested may be a countercoup attempt –  DPA confirms the Al Arabiya report that three senior state officials were sacked.

    Salman relieved Prince Moteib bin Abdullah of his post as minister of the National Guard, replacing him with Khaled bin Ayaf, the official Saudi news agency SPA reported. Additionally, Minister of Economy and Planning Adel al-Faqieh was replaced by Mohammed al-Tuwaijri, SPA said, quoting a royal decree. Commander of the Saudi Navy, Abdullah al-Sultan, was replaced with Fahad al-Ghafli.

    No official explanation was given for the sackings.

     

    In recent months, the Saudi monarch has carried out a string of reshuffles appointing young people in senior state posts. In June, Salman ousted his nephew as the crown prince and appointed his son Mohammed to become the first in line to succeed him. The monarch on Saturday ordered the creation of an anti-corruption committee led by the crown prince amid a rumoured crackdown on suspected tainted officials and royals. Mohammed, 31, is seen as the driving force behind opening up the ultra-conservative country to the outside world and weaning its economy off oil.

    Furthermore, there is speculation that all private flights and VIP departures out of Saudi Arabia have been suspended temporarily, similar to what happened following the last “gentle coup” in June when Prince Mohammed (MBS), 32, replaced his elder cousin, Muhammed bin Nayef, as crown prince in June, a maneuver that removed any doubt of how succession plans will unfold following the reign of King Salman, now 81.

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    According to the AngryArab blog, the removal of Prince Miteb bin Abdullah as head of the National Guard, means that “this is the first time that the National Guard is not in the hand of Abdullah or his son.

    That put all apparatus of the military-intelligence network in the hands of Muhammad bin Salman.  News that Al-Walid bin Talal has been arrested and accused of money laundering.  This could be a service to Trump, who hates Al-Walid: the two fought it out on twitter during the campaign although Al-Walid tried to reconcile with Trump after his election but to no avail. 

    Bin Talal’s arrest and the government reshuffle caps off a bizarre day for Saudi newsflow, which started with the resignation of Palestinian prime minister Saad al-Hariri, who announced he was quitting due to fears of an assassination plot, allegedly organized by Iran, followed shortly after by the Saudi defense forces intercepting a ballistic missile as it was about to strike the capital Riyadh.

    To summarise today’s even more bizarre Saudi news day:

    • Trump urges Aramco IPO
    • Lebanon PM resigns
    • Saudis intercept missile
    • Major cabinet reshuffle; 3 Saudi princes – who run the anti-graft committee – arrested for money-laundering
    • A total of 11 princes, >30 ministers arrested on corruption

    This is a developing story.

  • Donna Brazile Says She "Feared For Her Life" After Seth Rich Was Killed

    Perhaps the most shocking revelation contained in the excerpts from former DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile’s book was, unsurprisingly, buried in a Washington Post overview of the various allegations (and frankly, we’re surprised the Post, given its status as a protector of the Washington establishment, deigned to publish it).

    In the aftermath of Wikileaks’ decision to publish a cache of emails stolen from the DNC’s servers, Donna Brazile says she became increasingly paranoid about both possible Russian efforts to sway the election. Surprisingly, she says top Democrats initially instructed her not to discuss her concerns with others.

    But even more than the Russians, Brazile says she feared possible retribution from shadowy elements within the campaign and the Democratic Party who might blame her for the leak. Her fears only intensified, she says, after the mysterious shooting of former campaign staffer Seth Rich, who the authorities said was killed during a robbery, though many so-called conspiracy theorists have speculated about a possible Democratic plot to kill Rich for his role in leaking the stash of DNC emails to Wikileaks. Brazile's anxiety eventually spiraled out of control, to the point where she feared for her own life while serving as interim chairwoman of the DNC.

    Brazile describes her mounting anxiety about Russia’s theft of emails and other data from DNC servers, the slow process of discovering the full extent of the cyberattacks and the personal fallout. She likens the feeling to having rats in your basement: “You take measures to get rid of them, but knowing they are there, or have been there, means you never feel truly at peace.”

     

    Brazile writes that she was haunted by the still-unsolved murder of DNC data staffer Seth Rich and feared for her own life, shutting the blinds to her office window so snipers could not see her and installing surveillance cameras at her home. She wonders whether Russians had placed a listening device in plants in the DNC executive suite.

     

    At first, Brazile writes of the hacking, top Democratic officials were “encouraging us not to talk about it.” But she says a wake-up moment came when she visited the White House in August 2016, for President Obama’s 55th birthday party. National security adviser Susan E. Rice and former attorney general Eric Holder separately pulled her aside quietly to urge her to take the Russian hacking seriously, which she did, she writes.

    While she doesn’t elaborate on her reasons for suspecting that Rich’s death may have been a homicide, just the fact that Brazile says she, too, suspected that something nefarious might’ve been afoot is reason enough to take a second look at Rich’s death. Of course, if it’s true that Rich was killed as punishment for leaking the emails, then that would of course invalidata most of the evidence supporting the Russia interference narrative that has been propagated by the Democrats and their partners in the intelligence community.

  • Will 'RussiaGate' Result In Social Media Regulation?

    Authored by Andrew Korybko via Oriental Review,

    Whether preplanned or inadvertent, one of the most likely and far-reaching consequences of the fake news RussiaGate scandal is that Facebook and other social media giants might soon come under strict regulation by the state.

    The artificially contrived and “deep state”-driven RussiaGate scandal has been inflated to epic proportions and has already resulted in the unexpected suicide of the US’ soft power, but this never-ending conspiracy theory is now poised to affect the rest of the world in a completely different way due to the likely “regulation” that Washington might soon impose on social media giants like Facebook. “Traditional” media has long been clamoring for the American government to do something about the astronomical rise of social media, which has poached millions upon millions of people away from newspapers and TV stations and redirected them to their smartphones instead. From the perspective of social media and many of its users, however, these people weren’t “poached”, but liberated from their prior status as a captive audience to conventional influence techniques and allowed to roam freely in cyberspace as they searched for alternative non-mainstream interpretations of current and past events.

    The rise of social media coincided with that of Russia’s publicly funded RT and Sputnik media outlets, whose reporting and analyses soon went viral all over the internet because they satisfied the crucial information desire that so many people were craving for years. Their explosive popularity led to them gaining a sizeable following among Western audiences, who voluntarily shared their content online and contributed to what Facebook describes as “organic growth”, or the natural trending of non-advertised posts. While posing a challenge to Establishment narratives all across the world, neither RT nor Sputnik were seriously viewed as  “threat” by the US and its allies because they had yet to be blamed for affecting any real-life change outside of the internet “matrix” of clicks, likes, and shares.

    That all changed during the 2016 US election, however, since the Mainstream Media’s monopoly on information was wielded in such a blatantly and obviously biased nature against Trump that countless Americans began countenancing what would have previously been unthinkable to many of them just a year prior, and that’s trawling foreign-based media outlets in order to get a more accurate sense of the truth that their own country’s media barons were suppressing. This certainly says a lot about the deep distrust that was already prevalent among many Americans towards their own government, but it hit its climax the more that the Mainstream Media began concocting openly fraudulent “news” stories about Trump in a bid to derail his candidacy, with this effort becoming unquestionably clear when compared with the flowery coverage given to anything that Clinton said or did. As is now known, Americans rebelled against the Establishment by voting Trump into office, and the “deep state” was left scratching its head about how this could happen.

    The author explained the domestic dynamics at play in his November 2016 article right after the election titled “Dear Foreign Friends, Here’s Why Trump Won (From A Clevelander)”, but the general idea is that the Democrats’ weaponization of identity politics miserably backfired as Americans sought out a radical solution to bring balance to their “deep state”-destabilized country. Nevertheless, the Establishment couldn’t bring itself to recognize the obvious, take the loss, and move on to fight another battle later on, hence why they decided to continue pressing the cringe-inducingly ridiculous narrative that “Russian trolls” somehow swayed the election due to their social media activity, and hinting that there might even be a whiff of outright collusion between Presidents Trump and Putin in organizing this movie-like conspiracy.

    This narrative is convenient for many geopolitical reasons that are outside the scope of this analysis, but the domestic benefit that was expected to be derived from this storyline is that “traditional” media and the Establishment finally had the pretext that they were looking for to “regulate” social media. Bringing Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and others into compliance with already existing American laws about revealing the source of election-related advertisements is one thing, but pressing these platforms to restrict the activity of Russian publicly financed media outlets like RT and Sputnik, as well as speculatively “shadow banning” some of their staff and supporters, is a bridge too far into dystopia, as is doing so on the US governments’ double-standard FARA witch hunt which alleges that the two are “foreign agents”. As a result, it appears as though the “good ‘ole days” of “freewheeling” across Facebook and sharing whatever content one finds enjoyable is soon coming to an end as Washington begins to “regulate” social media on the basis of “safeguarding democracy”.

    Of course, the real reason is that some vested power interests also have a stake in supporting their decades-long allies in the “traditional” media against their new social media rivals, to say nothing of the self-evident imperative in suppressing non-mainstream news and analyses through the US’ War on Russian Media. The forthcoming “regulation” might even go further than what’s presently being observed, as there’s a chance that Washington could seek to label social media platform like Facebook as being “media companies” in their own right, which would then instantly force them to comply with the existing legislation that their “traditional” media counterparts have had to contend with for years. In a sense, this would “level the playing field” between “traditional” and social media, but it could also destroy the very essence of social media itself. Not only that, but if the US comes to consider Facebook and Google as “monopolies”, then they could be broken up and “regulated” even further.

    What’s terribly ironic about all of this is that the US government’s international stance has always been in favor of “internet freedoms”, routinely attacking Russia, China, and Iran for implementing national security-based legislation aimed at thwarting the risk that Color Revolutions and Hybrid Wars could dangerously recruit across social media, but now all of a sudden “the land of the free” is doing the same thing as the countries that it regularly smears as “dictatorships”, though without any convincing reason and depending solely on a trumped-up fake news conspiracy theory. As is typical, the ruling Establishment and their “deep state” supporters condescendingly believe that their true intentions are invisible to the naked eye because of their presumption that the populace is stupid and politically unaware, though the very fact that their “perfect candidate” was defeated by a “dark horse” like Trump totally disproves this notion.

    The reality is that most Americans, and the rest of the world at large, see the US government’s “regulation” of social media for what it actually is, and that’s a dictatorial power grab which crushes any remaining doubt that “the land of the free” is anything but, and that the “freedom of speech” is only allowed if one is either supporting the Establishment or behaving as its “controlled opposition”. The number one thing that “American Democracy” can’t accept is the free flow of information and interpretations that challenge the prevailing state-supported narrative, which in and of itself negates the very basis of what the world always thought that “American Democracy” was supposed to be about, and this powerful revelation proves that the US government’s accusations that its geopolitical rivals are “authoritarian” was never anything more than a psychological projection of its own self.

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