Mar 312023
 March 31, 2023  Posted by at 9:12 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  54 Responses »

Pablo Picasso Dora Maar au chat 1941


NYT: Donald Trump Has Been Indicted (Techno Fog)
The Impact of Sanctions on the De-Dollarization of Int’l Trade (Gonzalo Lira)
Saudi Arabia Makes Move Towards Russia-China Bloc (RT)
Brazil and China Sign Pact To Abandon Dollar (RT)
Russia, China Have To Take Measures To Protect Relations – Zakharova (TASS)
Beijing Demands That US Stop Provoking China (TASS)
Senior Orthodox Bishop Invokes Woe On Zelensky (RT)
Kiev Demands Cut Of Western ‘War Profits’ – Politico (RT)
Kuleba: If US Stops Supporting Ukraine, World Order Will Collapse (Az.)
Ukraine’s Military Losing 500 Troops Daily Near Bakhmut – LPR (TASS)
Russian General Staff Says No Plans To Hold Second Wave Of Mobilization (TASS)
Russian Central Bank Reveals How It Braced For Western Dollar Grab (RT)
London Totally Ruined Architecture Of Relations With Moscow – Ambassador (TASS)
The Most Dangerous International Treaty Ever Proposed (Kingsley)
Guide to Understanding the Hoax of the Century (Siegel)













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How much longer will the States remain United?

NYT: Donald Trump Has Been Indicted (Techno Fog)

Breaking news from the New York Times today: “A Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Donald J. Trump on Thursday for his role in paying hush money to a porn star, according to four people with knowledge of the matter, a historic development that will shake up the 2024 presidential race and forever mark him as the nation’s first former president to face criminal charges. The felony indictment, filed under seal by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, will likely be announced in the coming days. By then, prosecutors working for the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, will have asked Mr. Trump to surrender and to face arraignment on charges that remain unknown for now.”

A felony indictment. We’ll have more information and more analysis after the indictment is unsealed. But as we stated yesterday regarding the reported “delays” and the potential charges: “In New York, the falsification of business records is a misdemeanor that is subject to a two-year statute of limitations. Bragg, however, is supposedly pursuing felony charges against Trump for falsifying business records to conceal federal campaign finance violations. The felony has a five-year statute of limitations, one which Bragg can manipulate to perhaps apply to Trump.” The indictment is an absolute scandal, the banana republic on parade, the prosecutor using the weapons of his office to attack his political opponent.


Bragg and his predecessor’s slow-walking of the investigation, with its inception by Manhattan DA goes back to 2019, evidences both the dubious nature of the case against Trump and the political motivations for prosecuting Trump. Theoretically, this should be a simple case. Yet the investigation went on for nearly five years, despite what they’ve possessed: overzealous prosecutors who wanted to charge Trump with racketeering, the cooperating witnesses, the likely millions of pages of materials from the Trump Organization. Now suddenly, the insanely pro-criminal Manhattan DA, who demanded his prosecutors reduce charges for violent criminals, is prioritizing law and order. It’s hard to believe there are legitimate reasons – for prosecutors, that means seeking justice – for that transformation. Why bring the case now? It’s the start of the 2024 presidential campaign season.

[..] Don’t be surprised if the trial date is set for the first half of 2024. And don’t understate the danger to Trump, who will face a jury of Biden voters. Biden won Manhattan 86.7% to 12.3% according to the New York Times. The jury of Trump’s peers will be friendly to the prosecution. That’s all the Manhattan DA might need to secure a conviction. Trump could very well win on appeal but the damage – which carries national repercussions – might already have been done. And that’s the whole point of this dirty scheme.

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Twitter thread. Russian sanctions drive countries away from the dollar.

The Impact of Sanctions on the De-Dollarization of Int’l Trade (Gonzalo Lira)

The Russian sanctions have caused a worldwide de-dollarization, as countries are unable to use dollars to buy essential commodities from Russia. This has led to countries signing treaties to trade in yuan, as it is a more reliable currency. This de-dollarization has caused a decrease in demand for dollars overseas, leading to American domestic inflation and an inability to continue piling on debt, which will ultimately lead to dollar hyperinflation. Why are so many countries all of a sudden turning to the yuan to buy their essential commodities? Why is the world de-dollarizing so quickly? Simple — the Russian sanctions.

Russia is the biggest single commodity producer in the world — they have oil AND gas AND agro AND minerals AND anything else. But because of the sanctions, Russia CANNOT take dollars (or euros) for sales of their commodities. First, the sanctions disconnected Russia from SWIFT, meaning Russians can’t pay for things they would want to buy with dollars. So why would Russia take dollars for their commodities — if they can’t buy stuff with those dollars. Plus their dollar assets get confiscated in the West. So why hold dollars, and dollar assets to park them in, if they will be stolen? So because of sanctions, Russia has been FORCED to de-dollarize. Russia didn’t want to de-dollarize — they were obliged. By the West. But Russia still has to trade, because it still has to acquire things it cannot produce at home, and still has a surplus of commodities with which to acquire these foreign goods.

Apart from the West, Russia’s major trading partners are China and India. So it makes sense for Russia to sell its commodities in yuan and rupees: Sell oil/agro/gas in yuan, and buy Chinese goods with those yuan. Same with India. But why are OTHER countries signing treaties to trade in yuan, like France and Brazil in the last few days? They’re getting ahead of the curve. As more commodities trading takes place in yuan and rupees, the more demand for those currencies. Hence it becomes smart to cut a deal with China NOW — to fix an exchange rate of yuan. In essence, these deals are longs on the yuan. The effect is, these trade deals eventually lead to more de-dollarization—which becomes a self-reinforcing cycle, as dollars become less valuable (because they can buy less commodities) so more countries want yuan, leading to more de-dollarization, leading to a weaker dollar.

All this leads to the collapse of the dollar into hyperinflation. The dollar was valuable BECAUSE it was the currency in international commodities trade, which created the demand for dollars and dollar assets outside the US — thereby financing the enormous American debts. With trade de-dollarization, there’s no longer as much demand for dollars overseas, leading to American domestic inflation and an inability to continue piling on debt. Ultimately, the Federal Reserve will be forced to simply print — which will lead to dollar hyperinflation. BTW, Russia didn’t cause this. The sanctions which triggered this worldwide de-dollarization was just the final straw. It didn’t help that American leadership seems capricious and hysterical, making other countries very nervous that they might be sanctioned too.

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Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Africa, Naledi Pandor: “Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Algeria, Argentina, Mexico and Nigeria want to join BRICS.”

Saudi Arabia Makes Move Towards Russia-China Bloc (RT)

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has signed the documents granting Saudi Arabia the status of “dialog partner” with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – the political, economic and security bloc currently chaired by China. The king signed off on the memorandum of understanding at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, held at the al-Salam Palace in Jeddah, the Saudi Press Agency reported. In addition to formalizing the partnership, King Salman also approved the technical and vocational training with China. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman thanked Beijing for mediating the talks with Iran, which culminated in the re-establishment of “good neighborly relations” earlier this month. The Saudi state agency also said that Iran was set to join the bloc “soon.” Tehran had applied for membership in 2021.

The SCO was created in 2001 by Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. It has since expanded to India, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan as full members. The status of dialog partner was created in 2008, and includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Egypt, Nepal, Qatar, Sri Lanka and Türkiye. The bloc initially focused on security concerns, primarily terrorism, separatism and extremism. It has an agreement with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on jointly addressing security, crime and drug trafficking. Over the years, it began fostering cooperation in matters of trade, economics, and culture as well. In addition to taking a step closer to the SCO, Saudi Arabia is reportedly interested in joining the BRICS group – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – Russia’s ambassador to the kingdom, Sergey Kozlov, said in February.

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“25 countries are already making settlements with China in yuan.”

Brazil and China Sign Pact To Abandon Dollar (RT)

Beijing and Brasilia have signed an agreement on trade in mutual currencies, abandoning the US dollar as an intermediary, and are also planning to expand cooperation in the field of food and minerals. According to media reports, the deal will enable the two BRICS members to conduct their massive trade and financial transactions directly, exchanging renminbi for real and vice versa instead of using the greenback for settlements. “The expectation is that this will reduce costs… promote even greater bilateral trade and facilitate investment,” AFP quoted the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency as saying on Wednesday. The countries also reportedly announced the creation of a clearinghouse that will provide settlements without the use of the US dollar, as well as lending in national currencies.

The move is aimed at facilitating and reducing the cost of transactions between the sides, and getting rid of dollar dependence in bilateral relations. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) announced earlier that such arrangements will boost the usage of the renminbi for cross-border transactions between enterprises and financial institutions in the two countries, and further facilitate bilateral trade and investment. China has been Brazil’s largest trading partner for more than a decade, with bilateral trade hitting a record $150 billion last year. According to the Secretary for International Affairs at the Ministry of Finance of Brazil, Tatiana Rosito, 25 countries are already making settlements with China in yuan.

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“..both sides view the strengthening of relations as a “natural process,..

Russia, China Have To Take Measures To Protect Relations – Zakharova (TASS)

Moscow and Beijing have to take adequate measures in current geopolitical circumstances in order to protect their multifaceted cooperation from the harmful effect of illegal unilateral sanctions, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a briefing Thursday. “In current geopolitical circumstances, Moscow and Beijing have to take adequate measures in order to protect the positive groundwork of multifaceted cooperation, which took many years to accumulate, from the harmful effect of illegal unilateral sanctions,” the diplomat noted.

Meanwhile, the spokeswoman underscored, both sides view the strengthening of relations as a “natural process,” defined by long-standing ties and geographical proximity. “Unlike the westerners, we seek to build cooperation with external partners exclusively based on principles of equality, mutual consideration of each other’s interests, instead of building some coalition or some exclusive clubs with an ‘anti-‘ prefix,” Zakharova noted.


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“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army will take all necessary measures to protect national sovereignty and security and will resolutely defend peace and stability in the South China Sea..”

Beijing Demands That US Stop Provoking China (TASS)

The US Armed Forces must stop provoking China in the South China Sea, otherwise they will bear responsibility for any potential incidents, Chinese Defense Ministry Spokesman Tan Kefei warned on Thursday. The comment was Tan’s response to a US Navy vessel that allegedly sailed near the China-controlled Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. “We sternly demand that the United States immediately stop such provocations, otherwise it will bear full responsibility for all the serious consequences of their causing a potential incident,” the Chinese Defense Ministry quoted him as saying on WeChat. “The Chinese People’s Liberation Army will take all necessary measures to protect national sovereignty and security and will resolutely defend peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Tan assured.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius passed near the Paracel Islands last Friday. China’s top brass claimed that the US warship did this without the Chinese government’s permission and had violated China’s sovereignty. The US 7th Fleet replied by saying in a news release that the US destroyer had acted in line with international law, while conducting a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP). Beijing has disputed the territorial jurisdiction of some islands in the South China Sea where large hydrocarbon reserves were found with Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia. The most disputed territories are the Xisha Islands, also known as the Paracel Islands, the Nansha or Spratly Islands and Huangyan Island (Scarborough Reef).

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“You’ll disappear like dew in the sun, because all who take up the sword will perish by the sword..”

Senior Orthodox Bishop Invokes Woe On Zelensky (RT)

A senior bishop in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) has issued a strongly-worded rebuke to President Vladimir Zelensky over his role in a crackdown that the country’s largest religious denomination is currently facing. “I am telling you, Mr President, and your entire pack, that our tears will not fall to the ground, but on your head,” Metropolitan Pavel said in a video address on Wednesday. “You think today that after taking power on our backs, [based] on our wishes, you can treat us like that. Our Lord will not forgive this action, neither to you nor to your family,” the bishop warned. Pavel heads the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, the largest Orthodox monastery in the country. The Ukrainian ministry of culture denied the UOC a renewal of tenancy in the property, which means that some 220 monks living there would be “kicked out to the streets,” as Pavel described it.

The deadline for the expulsion comes this week. The bishop blasted the president for refusing to meet senior UOC clerics to discuss the situation. This was particularly hypocritical, he remarked, considering that, as a presidential candidate, Zelensky had sought and received the blessing to run for office from Metropolitan Onufry, the Church leader. “You have failed to stop the culture minister, who is possessed by hateful malice and devilish fury. This means he is acting with your permission; Woe to you, have fear,”the bishop said. The minister, Aleksandr Tkachenko, has said that UOC monks could stay at Lavra if they agreed to defect to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), a rival schismatic organization backed by Kiev.

The OCU received recognition as a legitimate church in 2019 from the Constantinople Patriarchate, causing a major schism among the Orthodox faithful of the world. Metropolitan Pavel has also accused Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople of having given impetus to the crackdown with this move. “Woe and shame on you, so-called patriarch [Bartholomew], because everything done today is done with your ill-fated and evil blessing,” he said. The bishop also likened the current detractors of the UOC to the Bolshevik and communist leaders, who’d cracked down on all religions when they were in power. He expressed faith that his church will survive the new period of suppression, just like it had the previous one. “You’ll disappear like dew in the sun, because all who take up the sword will perish by the sword,” he said, quoting in the same sentence from the Ukrainian national anthem and from the Gospels.


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“..the record profits had been achieved purely because of the conflict in his country..”

Kiev Demands Cut Of Western ‘War Profits’ – Politico (RT)

Major oil companies have made record profits as a result of the conflict in Ukraine and should pay to rebuild the country’s war-torn infrastructure, Ukrainian Minister of Energy German Galushchenko said on Wednesday in an interview with Politico. According to Galushchenko, oil and gas majors have generated windfall profits of more than $200 billion due to wild swings in global energy prices, and should transfer some of those funds to Ukraine. Western sanctions imposed on Russia over the past year in response to Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine have sent energy prices soaring. In 2022, oil majors Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and TotalEnergies posted a combined profit of $196.3 billion, marking an all-time high for the industry.

“I think it would be fair to share this money with Ukraine. I mean, to help us to restore, to rebuild the energy sector,” Galushchenko said on a visit to Brussels, adding that the record profits had been achieved purely because of the conflict in his country. According to the latest assessment by the Ukrainian government, the World Bank, the European Commission, and the UN, the estimated cost of the country’s reconstruction and recovery will be over $400 billion. The Ukrainian energy minister also called on the West to take further steps to plug sanctions loopholes that allow Russian energy producers to continue exports.


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And the sun will stop shining too. Insert biblical reference.

Kuleba: If US Stops Supporting Ukraine, World Order Will Collapse (Az.)

If support for Ukraine does not continue after the US presidential elections next year, world order and security will collapse, said the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, Report informs via RBC-Ukraine. He said the matter is not only about the fate of Ukraine: “We must also consider international security. If the support for Ukraine stops, the countries will know that they can invade the neighboring country. If so, world security will collapse.”


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“It continues replenishing the losses that the Ukrainian army is suffering..”

Ukraine’s Military Losing 500 Troops Daily Near Bakhmut – LPR (TASS)

The Ukrainian military is daily losing 500 fighters in the area of Artyomovsk (called Bakhmut in Ukraine), Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) people’s militia retired Lieutenant-Colonel Andrey Marochko said on Thursday. “In my estimates, about 500 personnel daily [as casualties] there [in the Artyomovsk area]. These are both sanitary and irretrievable losses,” the retired officer said in a live broadcast on Komsomolskaya Pravda radio. The Ukrainian military experiences a shortage of fighters due to huge casualties and continues replenishing its troops, Marochko said. “It continues replenishing the losses that the Ukrainian army is suffering,” the retired officer said. Marochko told TASS on March 27 that the Ukrainian military had lost as many as 1,500 soldiers in battles with Russian forces in the Artyomovsk area over the week.

Artyomovsk is located on the Kiev-controlled part of the Donetsk People’s Republic and is a major transportation hub for the Ukrainian army’s supplies in Donbass. Fierce fighting for the city is underway. Yan Gagin, military-political expert and adviser to the acting head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), said on March 22 that the city had been practically sealed off by Russian forces and all approaches to Artyomovsk were under Russian artillery control. He earlier said that Russian forces controlled about 70% of the city. Acting DPR Head Denis Pushilin has repeatedly said that there is no evidence of the Ukrainian army’s plans to leave Artyomovsk. Meanwhile, Kiev claims that the city’s defense will be bolstered. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky earlier said that Ukrainian troops would not surrender Artyomovsk and would fight for it as long as they could.

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..”the number of citizens who decided to join the Russian armed forces under the enlistment contract has increased significantly as of lately.”

Russian General Staff Says No Plans To Hold Second Wave Of Mobilization (TASS)

The Russian General Staff is not planning to hold the second wave of mobilization, because the current number of volunteers and servicemen is sufficient for fulfilling the tasks of the special operation, said Rear Adm. Vladimir Tsimlyansky, the head of the Russian General Staff’s main organization and mobilization department. “I would like to assure you that the General Staff’s plans do not include the second wave of mobilization. The current number of conscripts and people who volunteered to participate in the [special] operation is sufficient for fulfilling the objectives,” he said during a briefing devoted to Russia’s spring draft. In his words “the number of citizens who decided to join the Russian armed forces under the enlistment contract has increased significantly as of lately.” This year’s spring draft in Russia will be held during its usual timeframe of April 1 – July 15 for a total of 147,000 Russians aged between 18 and 27.

Polish TV

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The need for dollars is already shrinking.

Russian Central Bank Reveals How It Braced For Western Dollar Grab (RT)

The Bank of Russia had been preparing for an escalation of Western sanctions since 2014 and was beefing up additional funds as a hedge against future restrictions on its foreign exchange reserves, the regulator revealed on Wednesday. Amid “increasing geopolitical risks” the central bank ramped up investments in assets “that cannot be blocked by unfriendly nations”and transferred part of its reserves to gold, Chinese yuan and foreign currency in cash, the regulator announced in its annual report. The central bank managed to stash billions of imported dollars “in volumes limited by logistics capabilities,” the report said without specifying the amount of accumulated funds. Alternative reserves in dollars and gold bars have been stockpiled in the vaults of the Bank of Russia.

“This safety cushion was created in the form of alternative reserves – less liquid and convenient in everyday life, but more reliable in the face of a tough geopolitical scenario,” the regulator explained. It was impossible to abandon reserves in dollars and euros, as these currencies were used for settlements in international trade as well as in the domestic financial sector, the central bank added. “Therefore the structure of foreign exchange reserves needed to take into account the needs of citizens and businesses,” the regulator concluded. The central bank could have “unloaded” part of this money to banks during the first wave of Western sanctions to stabilize Russia’s banking system and offset the withdrawal of dollars and euros by “panicking depositors,”the chief analyst from Ingosstrakh-Investment, Viktor Tunyov, believes.

According to some estimates, last year almost $20 billion was withdrawn by depositors from the country’s second largest bank, VTB, alone. In 2022, Russia was hit by sweeping Western economic sanctions, which included measures to cut the Russian central bank off from the international financial system, while around $300 billion of the bank’s foreign reserves were frozen. Moscow has criticized the seizure of its assets, saying it constitutes theft.

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“Because it leads to wrong decisions, to the wrong decision-making process. They need to hear what we say, our arguments, then they will have a broader perception of the real state of affairs..”

London Totally Ruined Architecture Of Relations With Moscow – Ambassador (TASS)

Russia and the UK have no political dialogue after London completely ruined the architecture of relations between the countries, Russian Ambassador to the UK Andrey Kelin said in an interview with RTVI television on Thursday. “We now in principle have no political communication, no political dialogue, unlike it was with the UK in the past, about key aspects of international affairs,” he said. The ambassador said “London ruined the entire architecture of bilateral relations.” “It broke it down in the economic area, the humanitarian area, the scientific one, the educational one and the political one first of all. It was purely its initiative – the destruction of that architecture,” Kelin went on to say.

“We are in contact with the Foreign Office. Russian diplomats, including the ambassador of the Russian Federation, are forbidden from going to parliament. This is so by a decision of the parliament’s speaker. This is very bad, because the British people, British officials, British lawmakers, they remain uninformed about the other side, uninformed about the situation as a whole,” the ambassador said. According to Kelin, this is a “categorical mistake.” “Because it leads to wrong decisions, to the wrong decision-making process. They need to hear what we say, our arguments, then they will have a broader perception of the real state of affairs,” Kelin said.

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“..there would be no requirement for an “actual” health emergency [..] it would be sufficient for the DG, acting on his or her discretion, to have identified the mere “potential” for such an event.::

The Most Dangerous International Treaty Ever Proposed (Kingsley)

Human history is a story of forgotten lessons. Despite the catastrophic collapse of European democracy in the 1930s, it appears that the tale of the twentieth century – in which citizens, cowed by existential threats, acquiesced in the rejection of liberty and truth in favour of obedience and propaganda, whilst allowing despotic leaders to seize ever more absolutist powers – is perilously close to being forgotten. Nowhere is this more evident than in relation to the apparent nonchalance which has greeted two international legal agreements currently working their way through the World Health Organisation: a new pandemic treaty, and amendments to the 2005 International Health Regulations, both due to be put before the governing body of the WHO, the World Health Assembly, in May next year.

As concerned scholars and jurists have detailed, these agreements threaten to fundamentally reshape the relationship between the WHO, national governments, and individuals. They would hardwire into international law a top-down supranational approach to public health in which the WHO, acting in some cases via the sole discretion of one individual, its Director General (DG), would be empowered to impose sweeping, legally binding directions on member states and their citizens, ranging from mandating financial contributions by individual states; to requiring the manufacture and international sharing of vaccines and other health products; to requiring the surrender of intellectual property rights; overriding national safety approval processes for vaccines, gene-based therapies, medical devices and diagnostics; and imposing national, regional and global quarantines preventing citizens from traveling and mandating medical examinations and treatments.

A global system for digital ‘health certificates’ for verification of vaccine status or test results would be routinised, and a bio-surveillance network whose purpose would be to identify viruses and variants of concern – and to monitor national compliance with WHO policy directives in the event of them – would be embedded and expanded. For any of these sweeping powers to be invoked, there would be no requirement for an “actual” health emergency in which people are suffering measurable harm; instead it would be sufficient for the DG, acting on his or her discretion, to have identified the mere “potential” for such an event.

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Fighting disinformation with ….disinformation. Long article.

Guide to Understanding the Hoax of the Century (Siegel)

No one thought Trump was a normal politician. Being an ogre, Trump horrified millions of Americans who felt a personal betrayal in the possibility that he would occupy the same office held by George Washington and Abe Lincoln. Trump also threatened the business interests of the most powerful sectors of society. It was the latter offense, rather than his putative racism or flagrant un-presidentialness, that sent the ruling class into a state of apoplexy. Given his focus in office on lowering the corporate tax rate, it’s easy to forget that Republican officials and the party’s donor class saw Trump as a dangerous radical who threatened their business ties with China, their access to cheap imported labor, and the lucrative business of constant war. But, indeed, that is how they saw him, as reflected in the unprecedented response to Trump’s candidacy recorded by The Wall Street Journal in September 2016:

“No chief executive at the nation’s 100 largest companies had donated to Republican Donald Trump’s presidential campaign through August, a sharp reversal from 2012, when nearly a third of the CEOs of Fortune 100 companies supported GOP nominee Mitt Romney.” The phenomenon was not unique to Trump. Bernie Sanders, the left-wing populist candidate in 2016, was also seen as a dangerous threat by the ruling class. But whereas the Democrats successfully sabotaged Sanders, Trump made it past his party’s gatekeepers, which meant that he had to be dealt with by other means. Two days after Trump took office, a smirking Senator Chuck Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that it was “really dumb” of the new president to get on the bad side of the security agencies that were supposed to work for him: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday of getting back at you.”

Trump had used sites like Twitter to bypass his party’s elites and connect directly with his supporters. Therefore, to cripple the new president and ensure that no one like him could ever come to power again, the intel agencies had to break the independence of the social media platforms. Conveniently, it was the same lesson that many intelligence and defense officials had drawn from the ISIS and Russian campaigns of 2014—namely, that social media was too powerful to be left outside of state control—only applied to domestic politics, which meant the agencies would now have help from politicians who stood to benefit from the effort.

Immediately after the election, Hillary Clinton started blaming Facebook for her loss. Until this point, Facebook and Twitter had tried to remain above the political fray, fearful of jeopardizing potential profits by alienating either party. But now a profound change occurred, as the operation behind the Clinton campaign reoriented itself not simply to reform the social media platforms, but to conquer them. The lesson they took from Trump’s victory was that Facebook and Twitter—more than Michigan and Florida—were the critical battlegrounds where political contests were won or lost. “Many of us are beginning to talk about what a big problem this is,” Clinton’s chief digital strategist Teddy Goff told Politico the week after the election, referring to Facebook’s alleged role in boosting Russian disinformation that helped Trump. “Both from the campaign and from the administration, and just sort of broader Obama orbit…this is one of the things we would like to take on post-election,” Goff said.

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Jun 042019
 June 4, 2019  Posted by at 7:30 pm Finance, Primers Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »

Francisco Goya The dog 1820-23


What follows are items from sources not everyone may like, such as Fox and The Hill. But please bear with me, because if you want to understand what is about to happen in the US, you’re going to need this kind of info, and you’re not likely to get it from the mainstream media.

The overall term here is questions. There are too many to list. Some will merely be asked, some will be asked and answered, others will not be asked at all. It’s going to be a jousting match between lawyers and prosecutors, investigators and politicians. It’s safe to say it’s going be ugly.

First off, as Zero Hedge reports, Christopher Steele, after long refusing to, has agreed to talk to investigators from the US Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General.


Steele Agrees To Discuss Trump Dossier With DOJ Inspector General

Former MI6 agent Christopher Steele has finally agreed to meet with US officials to discuss his relationship with the FBI, and the now-infamous dossier of unfounded claims against Donald Trump which he assembled on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The 54-year-old Steele has agreed to meet with investigators from the US Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), according to The Times of London, after a former US official told Politico that the OIG report would “try to deeply undermine” Steele.

The news marks a 180-shift in Steele’s past refusals to engage with US authorities. In April, Politico reported that Steele would not meet with the OIG to assist them with their investigation, while just last week, Reuters reported that he wouldn’t meet with US attorney John Durham, who was handpicked by AG William Barr to review the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.

Steele, a MI6 Russia specialist for more than two-decades, has worked with the FBI as a confidential source since 2010. According to the report, he will retain the services of a top American attorney if the interview goes ahead, and is only willing to discuss the narrow scope of his dealings with US intelligence. Steele also wanted US officials to seek the approval of the British government.

Steele’s lawyers will try to limit the topics on the table as much as they can. But that may not be enough. There are very serious doubts and allegations surrounding the Steele Dossier, as well as the clients he prepared the report for. There’s Hillary Clinton, there’s the DNC, there’s their law firm Perkins Coie, there’s Fusion GPS, there’s its CEO Glenn Simpson, there’s the FBI, there’s the 2016 DOJ, and then there’s John Brennan and James Clapper. All these parties have played roles in making sure the dossier was ‘prepared’.

That is a lot of parties. How Steele is going to talk under oath without implicating one or more of them in shady dealings if not downright criminal activities is hard to imagine. If only because the dossier leads straight to the Mueller report, which would never have been written if the Steele dossier had not been used to -possibly illegally- get FISA warrants.

Moreover, Robert Mueller is now being accused of tampering with evidence he used in his report. I know I seem to be jumping from Steele to Mueller kind of suddenly, but these things are very closely connected, so I’ll allow myself that freedom.

It appears from files released on the order of judge Sullivan that Mueller has tampered with his own evidence. He omitted part of a phone conversation between lawyers for Trump and those for Michael Flynn, ostensibly to create the impression that the former sought confidential information.


Ex-Trump Lawyer John Dowd Slams Mueller Report As A ‘Fraud’

Nunes, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, was reacting to the release of a voicemail message that John Dowd, a former lawyer for President Trump, had left for a lawyer representing former national security adviser Michael Flynn, in which Dowd asks for a “heads up” if Flynn planned to say anything damaging about Trump to Mueller’s team. Nunes retweeted a side-by-side comparison of the Dowd transcript text and the Mueller report text, suggesting that the Mueller report did not disclose the full Dowd message.

The Mueller report had redacted the part of the voicemail where Dowd said he wanted the heads up “not only for the president but for the country” and that he wasn’t asking for “any confidential information.” Alan Dershowitz claimed on “Hannity” Monday night that the quotation was “distorted.” “This is a very, very serious issue,” he said. “The distortion of the Dowd quote is very serious. Especially since, remember, that a report by a special counsel is always going to be one-sided. Therefore, you have to trust it.”


Totally separate from the above development, Democrat House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wants Mueller to talk to Congress no matter what. The Dems of course want to get dirt on Trump from Mueller, but given that development, added to many other questions GOP Congressmen already wanted to ask him, the Mueller testimony may well backfire in spectacular fashion. Do they realize this?


Hoyer: Democrats Should Subpoena Mueller If Necessary

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that Democrats should insist on special counsel Robert Mueller’s appearance before Congress, even if it requires a subpoena. “I think he ought to testify. He may want a subpoena, for all I know,” Hoyer said during his weekly press briefing in his Capitol office. “He indicated that his report speaks for itself. Very frankly, … questioning is an important fact-finding pursuit.”

Mueller said last week during brief remarks at the Justice Department that he hoped those statements — combined with his 488-page report — would be his last word on the topic. It was a clear indication that the former FBI chief — who’s built a reputation for nonpartisanship over his long career in Washington — is hoping to avoid the political circus that would surely accompany his return to Capitol Hill.

But Democrats are fighting to secure his testimony, emphasizing the importance of hearing the author of the report elucidate its conclusions. Both Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, are in negotiations with Mueller’s team in an effort to secure the special counsel’s testimony. [..] Another Democratic lawmaker familiar with the talks said a major sticking point remains Mueller’s reluctance to testify publicly, as Democrats are insisting.

“We’re trying to do everything possible to get him out in the open,” said the lawmaker, who spoke anonymously to discuss the sensitive negotiations. Democrats are also wary that Mueller will be unwilling to answer clarifying questions outside the literal text of his report, the lawmaker said. “The concern is that Mueller is just going to sit there like a parrot and parrot the report,” the lawmaker said. “And there’s not going to be anything meaningfully new coming out of the testimony.”

Here are a few questions Mueller may be called upon to answer, courtesy of Sharyl Attkisson at The Hill. Most if not all appear to me to be reasonable, and there seems to be little reason not to demand they are answered. The credibility of the entire American political system, as well as the intelligence community, is at stake.


Robert Mueller’s Parting Shot: 10 Questions I’d Like To Ask

The statement Mueller chose to give carries with it an implication that his team looked for evidence of President Trump’s innocence but simply could not find it. With that in mind, I thought of a short list of questions I’d like to ask Mueller, if ever permitted to do so:

1) What witnesses did you interview and what evidence did you collect in an attempt to exonerate Trump or prove him not guilty? (I believe the answer would be, “None. It’s not the job of a special counsel or prosecutor to do so.” Therefore, was Mueller’s comment appropriate?)

2) Does it concern you that the FBI claimed “collection tool failure” in stating that 19,000 text messages between former FBI employees Lisa Page and Peter Strozk had been deleted and were unavailable for review by the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general? Is it worth investigating how the inspector general was able to recover the messages, when the FBI said it could not? Does the FBI lack the technical expertise, or the will? Isn’t it a serious issue that should be addressed, either way?

3) Along the same lines, do you think it strange or inappropriate that the DOJ wiped text messages between Strzok and Page from their special counsel cell phones? The deletions happened shortly after they were ejected from the team and before the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General could review them — at a time when all had been informed that their actions were under review. Did technicians attempt to recover the messages? Were the circumstances of the deletions thoroughly investigated?

4) When did you first learn that the FBI and DOJ signed off on and presented unverified, anti-Trump political opposition research to a court to get wiretaps on an innocent U.S. citizen? Doesn’t this violate the strict procedures enacted while you were FBI director, intended to ensure that only verified information is seen by the court? Who will be held accountable for any lapses in this arena?

5) Do these issues point to larger problems within our intelligence community, in terms of how officials operate? Does that put you in a position where there’s a conflict of interest since you were in charge of the FBI when prior surveillance abuses were identified by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court? Did you consider disclosing this potential conflict and stepping aside, or referring any issues that overlap with your interests?

6) What steps did you take after Strzok and Page were exposed, to try to learn if other investigators on your team likewise were conflicted? Did you take action to segregate the work of these agents and any potential biases they injected into your investigation and team? Wasn’t their behavior a beacon to call you to follow an investigative trail in another direction?

7) Did you become concerned about foreign influence beyond Russia when you learned that a foreign national, Christopher Steele, claimed to have obtained opposition research from Russian officials connected to Putin — and that the FBI and DOJ presented this material to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain wiretap approvals?

8) Were you aware that some Democratic Party officials acknowledged coordinating with Ukraine in 2016 to undermine Trump and his associates and to leak disparaging information to the news media?

9) Is it true that you applied for the job as FBI director but Trump rejected you, the day before then-Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed you as special counsel to investigate Trump? Does that put you in a potentially conflicted position?

10) Do you think Donald Trump is guilty of a crime? If so, then do you believe he is perhaps the most clever criminal of our time since he was able to conceal the evidence despite all the government wiretaps, investigations, informants, surveillance and hundreds of interviews spanning several years?

And then when the DOJ, as well as AG William Barr’s team, are done with Mueller, The Hill’s John Solomon has another set of questions, this time for Hillary Clinton. And again, the credibility of the entire American political system, as well as the intelligence community, is at stake. Is Hillary untouchable?


Hillary Clinton’s Russia Collusion IOU: The Answers She Owes America

Here are 10 essential questions:

1) In January 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a formal investigative request for documents and written answers from your campaign. Do you plan to comply?

2) Please identify each person in your campaign who was involved with, or aware of, hiring Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson and Christopher Steele.

3) Please identify each person in your campaign, including Perkins Coie lawyers, who were aware that Steele provided information to the FBI or State Department, and when they learned it.

4) Describe any information you and your campaign staff received, or were briefed on, before Election Day that was derived from the work of Simpson, Steele, Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr or Perkins Coie and that tried to connect Trump, his campaign or his business empire with Russia.

5) Please describe all contacts your campaign had before Election Day with or about the following individuals: Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr, Glenn Simpson, Christopher Steele, former Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, former foreign policy scholar Stefan Halper and Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud.

6) Did you or any senior members of your campaign, including lawyers such as Michael Sussmann, have any contact with the CIA, its former Director John Brennan, current Director Gina Haspel, James Baker, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page or former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe?

7) Describe all contacts your campaign had with Cody Shearer and Sidney Blumenthal concerning Trump, Russia and Ukraine.

8) Describe all contacts you and your campaign had with DNC contractor Alexander Chalupa, the Ukraine government, the Ukraine Embassy in the United States or the U.S. Embassy in Kiev concerning Trump, Russia or former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

9) Why did your campaign and the Democratic Party make a concerted effort to portray Trump as a Russian asset?

10) Given that investigations by a House committee, a Senate committee and a special prosecutor all have concluded there isn’t evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, do you regret the actions by your campaign and by Steele, Simpson and Sussmann to inject these unfounded allegations into the FBI, the U.S. intelligence community and the news media?

The Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, had their day in the sun with the 2 years Mueller probe. Now ‘the other side’ has its turn. And it makes no difference what side you are on, or even whether you think that is fair, this is going to happen. How it can go down without people being indicted, I can’t see. Same as with some Trump allies. Paul Manafort was sent to Rikers Island today.

Still, in the same way that it’s impossible to predict which questions will eventually be asked, and which the legal experts on all sides decide should not be asked, it’s not possible at this point to foresee where the hammer will come down hardest. But it’s not going to be pretty.

Then again, we’re looking, down the line, at Brennan and Clapper and the entire intelligence community. Do Barr and IG Horowitz have the clout and the strength and determination to clean up that mess? Here’s hoping that they do. America needs a thorough cleansing, badly.





Feb 042019

Rembrandt van Rijn Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer 1653


That statement is going to make me real popular, right? Any criticism of Robert Mueller for many people equals support for President Trump. But it doesn’t, and Mueller really is a coward and a liar, and it’s not hard to make that case, it’s even easier than how he makes his cases, because we can actually prove ours. We also don’t have to pervert the law, but he does.

Robert Mueller is a coward because he again, in his indictment of Roger Stone last week, makes claims against people who can’t defend themselves, and who moreover have in at least one case, that of Julian Assange, previously and repeatedly denied those claims. And Robert Mueller’s a liar because many of his claims are evidently not true; but though he will never be able to prove them, and he knows it, he still makes his ‘case’ based on them.

It’s also public knowledge that Mueller has lied since at least the WMD facade. On February 11 2003, then FBI director Mueller testified before Congress: “ Director Tenet has pointed out, Secretary Powell presented evidence last week that Baghdad has failed to disarm its weapons of mass destruction, willfully attempting to evade and deceive the international community. Our particular concern is that Saddam Hussein may supply terrorists with biological, chemical, or radiological material.”

We know today he was lying, as was Colin Powell (and the entire Bush administration). Which is also interesting because a number of Mueller’s accusations against various ‘suspects’ are basically just that: someone has lied to Congress and must be punished for it. This is again the case in Roger Stone’s indictment, which would ring awfully hollow without it. And we don’t have to know how true that accusation is to realize that it’s being brought by someone who himself lied to Congress, but was never indicted for it. That is curious no matter how you look at it.

So what would happen if Mueller takes any of his present indictments into a courtroom? Note: as long as he treats those he indicts the same way he treated Paul Manafort and others, he’ll probably never have to present anything in a court; every ‘suspect’ will sign a plea deal because he threatens to destroy them, their freedom, their finances, their families. But what IF he did, purely hypothetically? What proof -not allegations- could he present to a judge about Russians hacking US-based servers or computers?

And what evidence of Julian Assange working with Russians, or with the Trump campaign? He has none. All there is is US intelligence agencies making claims without providing evidence. And they are a party to the whole story, they are not mere observers, so no judge worth his/her salt can accept their word on anything just because it’s them saying it. Even the FBI has to present evidence. In court, that is.

In the meantime, in the absence of a courtroom, Robert Mueller has been free to accuse people for 20 months now, without proof. And what those 20 months have shown us culminates in the Roger Stone indictment, which makes clear -once more- that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.


Given his legal status, Mueller should be invested with the power to demand he gets the opportunity to talk to Assange. And in the unlikely event that he’s not provided with that opportunity by his superiors, at the very least he must stop talking about Assange. Can’t talk TO him, then stop talking ABOUT him. Sure, he never mentions his name, but that’s just more cowardice. We all know who Organization 1 is in Mueller’s indictments. And we all know who spoke for Organization 1 before he was muzzled.

Mueller could for instance travel to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, after negotiating, both with the man himself and with ‘authorities’ from Ecuador, UK and US, to have a meeting with Assange. Considering his importance as head of an investigation into collusion that might topple a president and start a new cold war with Russia, that should be easy to do. But Mueller hasn’t talked to Assange. Nor has he indicated that he tried.

Mueller accusing Assange without talking to him should raise suspicions that he is not interested in finding the truth, but has other goals. And that shines a dark light on his entire investigation. Because of the fact itself, but also because Assange is a pivotal person in the entire Russia collusion narrative. Mueller can’t make his case without accusing, defaming Assange.

Assange is crucial in the Mueller indictment of 12 Russians issued conveniently three days before the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, he’s crucial in the case made against Paul Manafort, and he’s again crucial in the indictment of Roger Stone. Without Assange, Mueller’s hands are empty. Julian is presented as the conduit between Trump and Russia. No conduit, no connection. And Assange has always denied the entire thing, all of it.


People who have been accused of, let alone indicted in, a crime, must be given their day in court, says American law, to be able to defend themselves against their accusers. But Assange is not, which means Robert Mueller is no less than a grave threat to the entire American justice system. Not Mueller alone, for sure, but he, along with the Attorney General and Deputy AG (and believe it or not, the President), are immediately responsible for the way the justice system is being perverted. That is very serious business.

As I said above, Mueller first, supposedly accidentally, dragged Assange into his investigation three days before the July 16 2018 Trump/Putin meeting in Helsinki, when he indicted 12 Russians and ‘Organization 1’. That indictment is here. It was arguably the first tangible thing that came out of the investigation, and while it was heralded as gospel by everyone who wants Trump to hang, it was shot so full of holes by others in no time that the term ‘tangible’ perhaps needs to be replaced.

That first indictment was not based on facts, it was based on faith (in US intelligence). 12 Russians who can’t defend themselves were grouped together as Guccifer 2, whose Russian lineage was also shot to smithereens within hours, and then there was Assange. Last week’s indictment, that of Roger Stone, perhaps -we can’t even be sure- alludes to Stone colluding with either Russians or Assange, but it carries no evidence of any collusion.

As WikiLeaks tweeted: “The indictment doesn’t have any reference to Stone talking to Assange, or Assange talking to Stone, or anyone at WikiLeaks telling him anything, whatsoever. It’s literally old men reading the news and wishing for things.


The job of a Special Counsel, his/her mandate, is to gather evidence of those crimes (s)he has been tasked with investigating. That mandate can be wide, but certainly not unlimited. The job at hand is not to suggest that things MIGHT have happened. It is not to blindly follow everything US intelligence may or may not claim is true, because all accusations will eventually have to be proven in a courtroom.

And it is not to point fingers at people for things the Special Counsel can’t prove they’ve done, or to accuse people who cannot defend themselves against whatever it is he or she might say (because then (s)he might say anything).

Mueller has never charged Assange with anything, despite the fact that Julian is all over all of his indictments. Mueller also refuses to talk to Assange, ostensibly because that way he can continue to accuse him of all manner of unproven ‘crimes’, and if he doesn’t have to prove what he accuses Assange of, he can accuse anyone of being in touch with Assange and conspiring to enact all sorts of collusion.


It’s a pity that America is so divided into a pro-Trump and anti-Trump side, and never the twain shall meet, because the perversion of the justice system exemplified by the Mueller investigation is very real; it’s rotting from the inside. This has not about Trump, if anything it’s about the justice system granting someone the right to defend themselves, which is being violated by Robert Mueller on a daily basis.

In early 2017, the DOJ attempted to set up meetings with Assange, who in the process offered evidence that there was no Russian involvement in the files WikiLeaks published in 2016. Those attempts, when near completion, were halted by Mueller’s very good friend James Comey and Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.).

Warner last week in his capacity as Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman said about the Stone indictment: “It is clear from this indictment that those contacts [between Stone and WikiLeaks] happened at least with the full knowledge of, and appear to have been encouraged by, the highest levels of the Trump campaign..” No, Mr. Warner, that is sort of the exact point here. It is not clear. Nor is it true. And you know that, sir.

A year and a half later, in July 2018, Senator Rand Paul said that if Assange would agree to testify in the US, “I think that he should be given immunity from prosecution in exchange for coming to the United States and testifying” Nothing came from that either. Where was Mueller?

Every single American should be alarmed by this perversion of justice. Nothing to do with what you think of Trump, or of Assange. The very principles of the system are being perverted, including, but certainly not limited to, its deepest core, that of every individual’s right to defend themselves.

Just so Robert Mueller can continue his already failed investigation into collusion that has shown no such thing, and which wouldn’t have been started 20 months ago if we knew then what we know now.

Get off your Trump collusion hobby-horse, that quest has already died regardless, and start defending the legal system and the Constitution. Because if you don’t, what’s to keep the next Robert Mueller from going after you, or someone you like or love? It’s in everyone’s interest to demand that these proceedings – like all legal proceedings- are conducted according to the law, but in Mueller’s hands, they are not.

And that should be a much bigger worry than whether or not you like or dislike a former game-show host.



Jul 142018
 July 14, 2018  Posted by at 12:14 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »

Vincent van Gogh Weeping woman 1883


The indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose task it is to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and ‘Russians’, that was released yesterday by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, raises so many questions one has to be picky.

Many people have already stated that the report contains no proof of anything it claims, and that Mueller doesn’t have to prove a thing, because the 12 Russians he accuses will never show up in a US court. Many of course also have at least questioned the timing of the release, 3 days before the Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki, of information Mueller and Rosenstein have allegedly been sitting on for months.

The idea that the event was not coordinated to inflict maximum damage to the summit seems indeed far-fetched. But something else struck me in the report: the role of WikiLeaks (labeled “Organization 1”). Mueller very much focuses on both Julian Assange -though he doesn’t get named and is not indicted- and his presumed links to the indicted Russians, who -allegedly- posed as Guccifer 2.0:


Use of Organization 1

47. In order to expand their interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Conspirators transferred many of the documents they stole from the DNC and the chairman of the Clinton Campaign to Organization 1. The Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, discussed the release of the stolen documents and the timing of those releases with Organization 1 to heighten their impact on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

a. On or about June 22, 2016, Organization 1 sent a private message to Guccifer 2.0 to “[s]end any new material [stolen from the DNC] here for us to review and it will have a much higher impact than what you are doing.” On or about July 6, 2016, Organization 1 added, “if you have anything hillary related we want it in the next tweo [sic] days prefable [sic] because the DNC [Democratic National Convention] is approaching and she will solidify bernie supporters behind her after.” The Conspirators responded, “ok . . . i see.” Organization 1 explained, “we think trump has only a 25% chance of winning against hillary . . . so conflict between bernie and hillary is interesting.”

b. After failed attempts to transfer the stolen documents starting in late June 2016, on or about July 14, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, sent Organization 1 an email with an attachment titled “wk dnc link1.txt.gpg.” The Conspirators explained to Organization 1 that the encrypted file contained instructions on how to access an online archive of stolen DNC documents. On or about July 18, 2016, Organization 1 confirmed it had “the 1Gb or so archive” and would make a release of the stolen documents “this week.”

48. On or about July 22, 2016, Organization 1 released over 20,000 emails and other documents stolen from the DNC network by the Conspirators. This release occurred approximately three days before the start of the Democratic National Convention. Organization 1 did not disclose Guccifer 2.0’s role in providing them. The latest-in-time email released through Organization 1 was dated on or about May 25, 2016, approximately the same day the Conspirators hacked the DNC Microsoft Exchange Server.

49. On or about October 7, 2016, Organization 1 released the first set of emails from the chairman of the Clinton Campaign that had been stolen by LUKASHEV and his co-conspirators. Between on or about October 7, 2016 and November 7, 2016, Organization 1 released approximately thirty-three tranches of documents that had been stolen from the chairman of the Clinton Campaign. In total, over 50,000 stolen documents were released.


This means Mueller et al claim that WikiLeaks received the DNC files from Russian parties which had hacked into DNC(-related) servers. Something Julian Assange has always denied. Now, remember that the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), a group of former US intelligence professionals, as well as others, have said that the speed with which the files were downloaded from the server(s) indicates that they were not hacked, but put onto a hard drive.

The person who is supposed to have done that is Seth Rich. Who was murdered on July 10 2016. Kim Dotcom has long claimed to have evidence that Seth Rich was indeed the person who provided the files to Assange. Today he said on Twitter that his lawyers warned him about exposing that evidence, citing his safety and that of his family.

Half a year after Rich’s -never solved- murder, in the first months of 2017, the US Department of Defense was involved in negotiations with Assange in which the latter was offered -temporary- ‘safe passage’ from the Ecuador Embassy in London where he is holed up, in exchange for Assange ‘redacting’ a batch of files on the CIA known as Vault 7.

These negotiations were suddenly halted in April 2017 through the interference of James Comey -then FBI chief- and Mark Warner, a US Senator (D-VA). In the talks, Assange had offered to prove that no Russians were involved in the process that led to WikiLeaks receiving the files.

Today, of course, Assange is completely incommunicado in the Ecuador embassy, so he cannot defend himself against the Mueller accusations. Mueller really doesn’t have to prove anything: he can say what he wants. Comey and Warner prevented Assange from providing evidence exonerating ‘the Russians’, and Assange has been shut down.

Let me reapeat once again: Assange is fully aware that the smallest bit of non-truth or half-lie would mean the end of WikiLeaks. It is based on ultimate trust. Nobody would ever offer a single file again if they wouldn’t have full confidence that Wikileaks would treat it -and them- with the utmost respect. So the American approach is to smear Assange in any way possible, rape allegations, collusion with Russian agents, anything goes.

And ‘the Russians’ can be ‘freely’ accused in a 29-page indictment released on the eve of the first summit President Trump is supposed to have with his Russian counterpart a year and a half into his presidency, where his predecessors all had such meetings much earlier into their presidencies. With many lawmakers calling on him to cancel it.

Do we all still remember the true meaning of ‘collusion’?



Nov 032016
 November 3, 2016  Posted by at 9:46 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Debt Rattle November 3 2016

Lewis Wickes Hine Berrie pickers, Seaford, Delaware. ’17 children and 5 elders live here’ 1910

S&P 500 Logs Longest Losing Streak Since 2011 (CNBC)
EU Plans New Rules To Cap US, UK’s £440bn Per Day Derivatives Business (Ind.)
Vancouver Home Sales Plunge 39% as New Rules Chill Market (BBG)
Clinton Foundation Case Moving Towards “Likely an Indictment” (RCP)
Obama Slams FBI Over New Hillary Clinton Emails (MJ)
Secret Recordings Fueled FBI Feud in Clinton Probe (WSJ)
Senior FBI Officials Were Told Of New Emails In Early October (WaPo)
South Korea’s Out-of-Control Presidential Crisis (CNBC)
UK High Court To Declare If Government Has Right To Trigger Brexit (G.)
Car Makers To Get More In Brexit Subsidies From UK Than They Pay Workers (R.)
Make Finance The Servant, Not The Master (Pettifor)
Western Australia: Masterclass In What Not To Do With A Resources Boom (Con.)



Long but shallow. There’s another 7 days of suspense. The next bombshell might energize the decline.

S&P 500 Logs Longest Losing Streak Since 2011 (CNBC)

The S&P 500 has fallen in seven straight sessions through Wednesday, the first time the large-cap index has done that since 2011. The last streak also came in a November, culminating with a 0.27% slip on Nov. 25. And while the market’s past can never predict its future, it is notable that the November 2011 seven-session losing streak was immediately followed by a jump of nearly 3%. Yet even amid all of the declines, the S&P has fallen less than 2.5% in the past seven sessions. To put that into context, the market has suffered a greater%age drop on two separate days this year.

And some see a bright side in all the losses. For Frank Cappelleri, a trader and technical analyst at Instinet, the losing streak is a sign that “the [S&P 500] SPX is sequentially oversold and seemingly ready for at least a counter-trend bounce.” However, he added in his Wednesday morning note that since the S&P hasn’t fallen by all that much, “the index doesn’t exactly appear washed out at this stage.” The recent market decline has come as oil has slid, and as Republican Donald Trump’s perceived chances of winning the presidential election have risen. Meanwhile, Wednesday afternoon’s Federal Reserve statement, which could have been the event of the week, delivered little that was unexpected.

Read more …

The insanity of the world of finance. “The loss of euro clearing would cost 100,000 UK jobs..”

EU Plans New Rules To Cap US, UK’s £440bn Per Day Derivatives Business (Ind.)

EU officials have discussed new laws to undermine the UK’s multi-billion pound clearing business after Brexit, London Stock Exchange chief executive, Xavier Rolet told a House of Lords Committee. Financial transactions can currently be cleared anywhere in the world and London has a dominant position in the market, processing £440 billion of trades every day and supporting 100,000 jobs. But the EU is now considering limiting the amount of euro transactions that can be processed outside the EU, so that it can force the industry to move within its borders after Brexit, according to Rolet Millions of euro-denominated transactions are currently cleared in New York, but a cap on US trades is now being considered, so that similar restrictions can be placed on London when it is outside the EU, a move that could fatally undermine the industry.

“I understand that some discussions have already originated in the EU for limiting the ability of US-based clearinghouses to clear euro-denominated securities by capping or somehow restricting their ability to engage meaningfully in their business,“ Rolet said. The loss of euro clearing would cost 100,000 UK jobs, fragment markets and force banks to tie up an extra £70 billion in “margin” or cash to back up trades. That money that could otherwise aid economic growth, Rolet said. If customers decided they cannot wait for the outcome of Britain’s trade negotiations with the EU, then the “whole engine” of clearing across all major currencies in London would be at risk, he added.

Read more …

But prices still rise.

Vancouver Home Sales Plunge 39% as New Rules Chill Market (BBG)

Vancouver home sales plunged 39% in October from a year earlier, the biggest drop since 2010, as new regulations chill Canada’s most expensive property market. Sales in the Pacific coast city fell to 2,233 in the month, from 3,646 a year earlier, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said Wednesday. That was 15% below the 10-year average for October. The slowdown follows a series of measures aimed at curbing price gains in Vancouver, which topped a list of global cities identified by UBS as most at risk of a housing bubble. The British Columbia government imposed a 15% tax on foreign buyers in August, the city plans to start taxing vacant homes next year and the federal government tightened mortgage insurance eligibility requirements on Oct. 3.

Read more …

If elected, Hillary will have two separate major investigations running against her.

Clinton Foundation Case Moving Towards “Likely an Indictment” (RCP)

BRET BAIER: Here’s the deal: We talked to two separate sources with intimate knowledge of the FBI investigations. One: The Clinton Foundation investigation is far more expansive than anybody has reported so far… Several offices separately have been doing their own investigations. Two: The immunity deal that Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, two top aides to Hillary Clinton, got from the Justice Department in which it was beleived that the laptops they had, after a narrow review for classified materials, were going to be destroyed. We have been told that those have not been destroyed – they are at the FBI field office here on Washington and are being exploited. .

Three: The Clinton Foundation investigation is so expansive, they have interviewed and re-interviewed many people. They described the evidence they have as ‘a lot of it’ and said there is an ‘avalanche coming in every day.’ WikiLeaks and the new emails. They are “actively and aggressively pursuing this case.” Remember the Foundation case is about accusations of pay-for-play… They are taking the new information and some of them are going back to interview people for the third time. As opposed to what has been written about the Clinton Foundation investigation, it is expansive. The classified e-mail investigation is being run by the National Security division of the FBI. They are currently combing through Anthony Weiner’s laptop.

They are having some success – finding what they believe to be new emails, not duplicates, that have been transported through Hillary Clinton’s server. Finally, we learned there is a confidence from these sources that her server had been hacked. And that it was a 99% accuracy that it had been hacked by at least five foreign intelligence agencies, and that things had been taken from that… There has been some angst about Attorney General Loretta Lynch — what she has done or not done. She obviously did not impanel, or go to a grand jury at the beginning. They also have a problem, these sources do, with what President Obama said today and back in October of 2015… I pressed again and again on this very issue… The investigations will continue, there is a lot of evidence. And barring some obstruction in some way, they believe they will continue to likely an indictment.

Read more …

Not particularly presidential.

Obama Slams FBI Over New Hillary Clinton Emails (MJ)

President Barack Obama harshly criticized the FBI’s actions informing Congress about the discovery of new Hillary Clinton emails, suggesting to NowThisNews on Wednesday that the much-criticized letter was outside of law enforcement protocol. “We don’t operate on innuendo,” Obama said in his first remarks since the FBI’s announcement last Friday. “We don’t operate on incomplete information and we don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made. “When this was investigated thoroughly, the last time, the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was that she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was prosecutable.”

The president also reiterated his support for Clinton and urged young people not to allow the ongoing email investigation affect their votes. “I trust her, I know her,” he said. “I wouldn’t be supporting her if I didn’t have absolute confidence in her integrity and her interest in making sure that young people have a better future.” The interview comes just one day after White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest refused to defend or criticize FBI Director James Comey over the decision. Since the ambiguous letter was released on Friday, the Clinton campaign has accused Comey of improperly interfering with the election, thus benefiting her opponent. “That announcement has allowed for Donald Trump to take advantage of the absence of facts to wildly speculate and lie about Hillary Clinton,” campaign manager Robby Mook said on Monday.

Read more …

Is obstruction of FBI agents equal to obstruction of justice?

Secret Recordings Fueled FBI Feud in Clinton Probe (WSJ)

Secret recordings of a suspect talking about the Clinton Foundation fueled an internal battle between FBI agents who wanted to pursue the case and corruption prosecutors who viewed the statements as worthless hearsay, people familiar with the matter said. Agents, using informants and recordings from unrelated corruption investigations, thought they had found enough material to merit aggressively pursuing the investigation into the foundation that started in summer 2015 based on claims made in a book by a conservative author called “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” these people said. The account of the case and resulting dispute comes from interviews with officials at multiple agencies.

Starting in February and continuing today, investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and public-corruption prosecutors became increasingly frustrated with each other, as often happens within and between departments. At the center of the tension stood the U.S. attorney for Brooklyn, Robert Capers, who some at the FBI came to view as exacerbating the problems by telling each side what it wanted to hear, these people said. The roots of the dispute lie in a disagreement over the strength of the case, these people said, which broadly centered on whether Clinton Foundation contributors received favorable treatment from the State Department under Hillary Clinton. Senior officials in the Justice Department and the FBI didn’t think much of the evidence, while investigators believed they had promising leads their bosses wouldn’t let them pursue, they said.

These details on the probe are emerging amid the continuing furor surrounding FBI Director James Comey’s disclosure to Congress that new emails had emerged that could be relevant to a separate, previously closed FBI investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s email arrangement while she was secretary of state. [..] Amid the internal finger-pointing on the Clinton Foundation matter, some have blamed the FBI’s No. 2 official, deputy director Andrew McCabe, claiming he sought to stop agents from pursuing the case this summer. His defenders deny that, and say it was the Justice Department that kept pushing back on the investigation.

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Comey seems to have been prudent.

Senior FBI Officials Were Told Of New Emails In Early October (WaPo)

Senior FBI officials were informed about the discovery of new emails potentially relevant to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server at least two weeks before Director James B. Comey notified Congress, according to federal officials familiar with the investigation. The officials said that Comey was told that there were new emails before he received a formal briefing last Thursday, although the precise timing is unclear. The information goes beyond the details provided in the letter that Comey sent to lawmakers last week declaring that he was restarting the inquiry into whether Clinton mishandled classified material during her tenure as secretary of state. He wrote in the Friday letter that “the investigative team briefed me yesterday” about the additional emails.

[..] senior officials had been informed weeks earlier that a computer belonging to former congressman Anthony Weiner contained emails potentially pertinent to the Clinton investigation. [..] Comey did not notify Congress as soon as he learned about the emails because officials wanted additional information before proceeding, the officials said. [..] It is unclear what FBI agents have learned since discovering the emails in early October. But officials say they gained enough information from the email metadata to take the next step, seeking a warrant to review the actual emails. That legal step prompted Comey’s letter to Congress, which has made him a central figure during the stretch run of the presidential campaign. “He needed to make an informed decision, knowing that once he made that decision, he was taking it to another level,” an official said.

Soon after the investigators found the new trove of thousands of emails, they notified the separate team of FBI agents in Washington that worked on the probe into Clinton’s private email server, officials said. Comey said in July that the investigation was complete and that he would recommend to prosecutors that no charges be brought. After the agents on the Clinton case were notified in early October about the newly discovered emails, they in turn told FBI leaders about them. At that point, the leaders did not believe they had enough information to make a decision about what to do next, officials said.

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There was a time when this would have been crazier than what happens stateside.

South Korea’s Out-of-Control Presidential Crisis (CNBC)

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, under fire in what critics are calling the nation’s biggest-ever political scandal, seems to be digging herself into a deeper hole. The President replaced her prime minister, finance minister and public safety minister on Wednesday in an attempt to contain public anger over a spiraling corruption scandal that has hit the ruling Saenuri party. But the surprise cabinet reshuffle may do more harm than good. “Despite her expectations, these snap nominations backfired. Critics angrily charged that the move is part of a strategy to maintain control and does not jive with plans being discussed to form a neutral cabinet with a prime minister empowered to dominant policymaking, with Park taking a back seat,” Scott Seaman, senior Asia analyst at Eurasia, explained in a note.

Opposition parties will now likely use their combined majority in the National Assembly to hinder Park’s attempts to install her candidates, he continued. Furthermore, Park is essentially powerless to ignore their objections given her current fragile standing, he added. Park, 64, faces calls to resign or face impeachment for allowing a close friend, Choi Soon-Sil, to interfere in state affairs. Choi reportedly had access to classified documents without security clearance and was involved in presidential decision making, local media said. Choi, 60, is also accused of embezzlement, forcing conglomerates to make massive donations to nonprofit foundations, and getting preferential treatment from banks for loans.

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Super Thursday today in Britain.

UK High Court To Declare If Government Has Right To Trigger Brexit (G.)

The lord chief justice is to deliver the high court’s momentous decision on whether parliament or the government has the constitutional power to trigger Brexit. After less than three weeks considering the politically charged case with two other senior judges, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd will read out a summary of their decision at 10am on Thursday to a packed courtroom in London’s Royal Courts of Justice. In order to prevent leaks of the market-sensitive ruling, which involves a large number of parties, preliminary drafts of the judgment have unusually not been sent out in advance to the lawyers. The outcome of the case, which ventures into constitutionally untested ground, will resolve whether MPs or ministers have the authority to formally inform Brussels about whether the UK intends to leave the EU.

The legal dispute focuses on article 50 of the treaty on EU, which states that any member state may leave “in accordance with its own constitutional requirements” – an undefined term that has allowed both sides to pursue rival interpretations. The arguments deployed during the three-day hearing last month appear, at the very least, to have reinforced political pressure for parliament to be given a greater role in negotiating Brexit. Whether the high court finds in favour of the claimants or Theresa May’s assertion that the prime minister has power under the royal prerogative to inform Brussels of the UK’s intention to leave, one side or the other is likely to appeal to the supreme court. However, there has been speculation that the government could decide not to appeal if it loses, calculating that enough MPs will feel bound by the result of the referendum to vote to leave the EU. There may be stiffer opposition in the House of Lords.

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What’s this other than a major step towards universal income?

Car Makers To Get More In Brexit Subsidies From UK Than They Pay Workers (R.)

Compensating carmakers in Britain for any post-Brexit tariffs on exports to Europe could see the government hand the companies more money than they need to pay the salaries of all their British workers, a Reuters analysis of corporate filings shows. Japan’s Nissan said in September it would only commit to new UK investment if it received a guarantee of compensation to offset any such tariffs. Last week, it agreed to build new models in the country after Prime Minister Theresa May assured it the government would provide support to preserve its competitiveness in the EU market after Brexit. The nature of the Nissan deal – which gave Britain a crucial corporate endorsement as it prepares for life outside the European Union – is unknown. The government said there hadn’t been a “detailed and specific” agreement on tariffs.

If Britain does not secure a free-trade deal with the EU, car makers in the country could face export tariffs of 10% – the level the EU imposes on cars imported from outside the bloc. The cost of compensating Nissan, which has £2.9 billion ($3.5 billion) of annual EU exports, would be £290 million a year. That would exceed the company’s British wage bill, which was £288 million in 2015, accounts for Nissan’s main UK operating unit show. The pattern is followed across Britain’s car-making industry. Reuters examined the accounts of eight of the biggest car exporters, including Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota, Bentley, Mini, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin and Honda, which are all foreign-owned. Their wage bills averaged 7.5% of total operating costs and 7.7% of turnover. This suggests the cost of tariffs on vehicles exported from Britain to the continent – levied at 10% of turnover – would exceed the wages paid to British workers to build those vehicles.

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Long read by Ann Pettifor on the history of the growth paradigm, and what needs to be done now it’s dead.

Make Finance The Servant, Not The Master (Pettifor)

Before the Second World War the concept of ‘growth’ scarcely existed, as Geoff Tily explains in his PRIME essay On Prosperity, Growth and Finance. “National accounts and measures of national income (the forerunners of GDP) were devised in the 1930s, in the wake of the great depression. Policymakers and economists were preoccupied by getting the economy and financial system to function and addressing a crisis in unemployment. Later in the Second World War economic statistics were needed to try and prevent inflation, given that all resources – especially labour – were fully utilized. Then, later in the Bretton Woods era, full employment was regarded as the proper goal of economic policy-making.” With financial liberalization all this was to change.

Financiers could make extraordinary capital gains from financial speculation – far more than the average industrial capitalist could make in profits. This was largely because financiers can gamble and make gains in money markets without engaging with either the land – in the broadest sense of the word – or labour. Industrial capitalists by contrast have to engage with both land and labour. The substantial capital gains made from speculation by increasingly deregulated financiers were then pitted against the lower profits made by industrial capitalists from investment, employment and output. As financiers became more dominant, competition with industrial capitalists intensified. It is hard to pinpoint the exact timing for the shift of emphasis, but under the surface changes were underway from at least the 1950s.

The pressure on industrial capital was applied by both the finance sector, but also by friends in the economics profession, and in particular economic commentators. The latter began to reframe the key concept of levels of economic activity, and invented the term growth. Growth follows the trajectory of capital gains more closely than it follows that of more volatile profits. Capital gains – like those made from winning the lottery – can rise exponentially (until they crash). Profits rise and fall as capitalists battle the land and labour. In the UK one of the most prominent campaigners for the concept of ‘growth’ was Samuel Brittan of the Financial Times: he proudly identified himself as a ‘growthman’. At a time of full employment, he and other economists castigated the government (and industry) for what they regarded as an economy less profitable or dynamic than that seen in other countries.

To apply pressure on those active in the real economy, they had to raise the bar of economic expectations. Full employment was not a sufficient goal. It was to be abandoned. The concept of growth was subsequently adopted as the goal of all economy policy by the newly-founded OECD in 1961. In that year the organisation agreed an extraordinary fifty per cent growth target for the whole of the 1960s, as Tily explains: The aim of fixing the level of employment and output to sustainable levels had been abandoned. Instead the world had officially been set a systematic and improbable target: to chase growth. Nobody seems to have paused to consider whether growth derived as the rate of change of a continuous function was a meaningful or valid way to interpret changes in the size of economies over time.”

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Transferring back into a wasteland.

Western Australia: Masterclass In What Not To Do With A Resources Boom (Con.)

Every policymaker in Australia should be made to read Paul Cleary’s excellent analysis of the way Norway handled its boom: Trillion Dollar Baby. The experience could hardly be more different and the comparison would be laughable were it not for the fact that future generations will come to rue the folly and myopia of our current leaders. The key lesson that emerges from Cleary’s analysis is that even small states can have a big say in determining what happens to the windfall revenues booms generate – but only if they understand what is happening at present and have a plan for the long-term future of the country. Norway had both. First, they had a capable government and skilled bureaucrats (yes, they are valuable and important) who quickly realised that Norway’s oil boom had to be managed for the benefit of Norway, not the multinational oil companies.

This meant not being intimidated by powerful multinational corporations and recognising the inherent bargaining strength of national governments. You can only exploit resources where they are. Host governments can – and should – determine how they are developed. In contrast to successive state and federal governments in Australia, this is precisely what the Norwegians did. Firstly, they compelled the oil majors to build their required oil platforms in Norway, developing a world class manufacturing capability in the process. Secondly, and in another unflattering and revealing contrast to Australia, they ensured 90% of the windfall revenues derived from the oil boom in Norway remained there.

Norway’s “problem”, unlike ours, has been what to do with the astounding amounts of wealth generated as a direct consequence of its activist and enlightened policies. A third critical innovation was establishing a sovereign wealth fund. Sovereign wealth funds serve two purposes. First, they put aside the windfall revenues of today for future generations – a possibility our own leaders seem incapable of contemplating given their truncated political horizons. Second, by investing most of the wealth overseas, they put downward pressure on the domestic currency, allowing other domestic industries to survive. At a time when we are collectively waving farewell to much of the manufacturing sector, this is another sobering lesson – especially for the young who will not benefit from all that squandered wealth and may wonder where they will actually work.

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