Julian Assange appears to be painfully close to being unceremoniously thrown out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London. If that happens, the consequences for journalism, for freedom of speech, and for press freedom, will resound around the world for a very long time. It is very unwise for anyone who values truth and freedom to underestimate the repercussions of this.
In essence, Assange is not different from any journalist working for a major paper or news channel. The difference is he published what they will not because they want to stay in power. The Washington Post today would never do an investigation such as Watergate, and that’s where WikiLeaks came in.
It filled a void left by the media that betrayed their own history and their own field. Betrayed the countless journalists throughout history, and today, who risked their lives and limbs, and far too often lost them, to tell the truth about what powers that be do when they think nobody’s looking or listening.
Julian is not wanted because he’s a spy, or even because he published a number of documents whose publication was inconvenient for certain people. He is wanted because he is so damn smart, which makes him very good and terribly effective at what he does. He’s on a most wanted list not for what he’s already published, but for what he might yet publish in the future.
He built up WikiLeaks into an organization that acquired the ultimate trust of many people who had access to documents they felt should be made public. They knew he would never betray their trust. WikiLeaks has to date never published any documents that were later found out to be false. It never gave up a source. No documents were ever changed or manipulated for purposes other than protecting sources and other individuals.
Julian Assange built an ’empire’ based on trust. To do that he knew he could never lie. Even the smallest lie would break what he had spent so much time and effort to construct. He was a highly accomplished hacker from a very young age, which enabled him to build computer networks that nobody managed to hack. He knew how to make everything safe. And keep it that way.
Since authorities were never able to get their hands on WikiLeaks, its sources, or its leader, a giant smear campaign was started around rape charges in Sweden (the country and all its citizens carry a heavy blame for what happened) and connections to America’s favorite enemy, Russia. The rape charges were never substantiated, Julian was never even interrogated by any Swedish law enforcement personnel, but that is no surprise.
It was clear from the get-go what was happening. First of all, for Assange himself. And if there’s one thing you could say he’s done wrong, it’s that he didn’t see the full impact from the campaign against him, sooner. But if you have the world’s largest and most powerful intelligence services against you, and they manage to find both individuals and media organizations willing to spread blatant lies about you, chances are you will not last forever.
If and when you have such forces running against you, you need protection. From politicians and from -fellow- media. Assange didn’t get that, or not nearly enough. Ecuador offered him protection, but as soon as another president was elected, they turned against him. So have news organizations who were once all too eager to profit from material Assange managed to obtain from his sources.
That the Guardian today published not just one, not two, but three what can only be labeled as hit pieces on Julian Assange, should perhaps not surprise us; they fell out a long time ago. Still, the sheer amount of hollow innuendo and outright lies in the articles is astonishing. How dare you? Have you no shame, do you not care at all about your credibility? At least the Guardian makes painfully clear why WikiLeaks was needed.
No, Sweden didn’t “drop its investigation into alleged sexual offences because it was unable to question Assange”. The Swedes simply refused to interview him in the Ecuador embassy in London, the only place where he knew he was safe. They refused this for years. And when the rape charges had lost all credibility, Britain asked Sweden to not drop the charges, but keep the pressure on.
No, there is no proof of links from Assange to Russian hackers and/or to the Russian government. No, there is no proof that DNC computers were hacked by Russians to get to John Podesta’s emails. In fact there is no proof they were hacked at all. No, Ecuador didn’t get tired of Julian; their new president, Moreno, decided to sell him out “at the first pressure from the United States”. Just as his predecessor, Correa, said he would.
Julian Assange has been condemned by Sweden, Britain, the US and now Ecuador to solitary confinement with no access to daylight or to medical care. Without a trial, without a sentence, and on the basis of mere allegations, most of which have already turned out to be trumped up and false. This violates so many national and international laws it’s futile to try and count or name them.
It also condemns any and all subsequent truth tellers to the prospect of being treated in the same way that Julian is. Forget about courts, forget about justice. You’ll be on a wanted list. I still have a bit of hope left that Vladimir Putin will step in and save Assange from the gross injustice he’s been exposed to for far too many years. Putin gets 100 times the lies and innuendo Assange gets, but he has a powerful nation behind him. Assange, in the end, only has us.
What’s perhaps the saddest part of all this is that people like Chelsea Manning, Kim Dotcom, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are among the smartest people our world has to offer. We should be cherishing the combination of intelligence, courage and integrity they display at their own risk and peril, but instead we let them be harassed by our governments because they unveil inconvenient truths about them.
And pretty soon there will be nobody left to tell these truths, or tell any truth at all. Dark days. By allowing the smartest and bravest amongst us, who are experts in new technologies, to be silenced, we are allowing these technologies to be used against us.
We’re not far removed from being extras in our own lives, with all significant decisions taken not by us, but for us. America’s Founding Fathers are turning in their graves as we speak. They would have understood the importance of protecting Julian Assange.
To say that we are all Julian Assange is not just a slogan.
I’m writing this Saturday night, Pacific Time, and cryptos never rest. By Sunday morning, “Bitcoin Cash” might have soared another $1,000 or crashed by $1,000; and bitcoin might have soared or crashed by another $1,500. Neither would surprise me, the way these things are going. One thing for sure, you’re not watching grass grow. Bitcoin Cash, which was split from bitcoin in August, began surging from $630 on Thursday mid-day Pacific Time. Within 24 hours, it jumped 50% (or by $320) to $950. It then lost steam. But in the wee hours of Saturday morning, it fired up again and soared another $450 to $1,400 by late morning. It then fell off, but Saturday night, it returned to form and spiked to $2,448 at the moment, nearly quadrupling in two days. Here is what the move looks like in US dollars in a seven-day chart (via WorldCoinIndex):
Its market valuation jumped by $30 billion over the two days, from $10.6 billion to $41 billion. I mean why even bother with the stock market. Bitcoin went the opposite way. It plunged from a peak of $7,771 on November 8 mid-morning to $5,519 at this moment, losing $2,252 or 29% in three days. It’s now back where it first had been in late October. Its market valuation plunged by $35 billion from $127 billion to $92 billion. $35 billion is starting to add up, so to speak (via WorldCoinIndex):
Bitcoin ran into an entanglement on November 8, when developers called off a planned software upgrade, SegWit2x. The upgrade was supposed to have improved transactions speeds. This was blamed for the plunge that started on Wednesday. Then the fun focused on Bitcoin Cash. By Friday, as Bitcoin Cash had soared 50% while bitcoin was crashing, it was blamed on traders that were switching from chasing after bitcoin to chasing after Bitcoin Cash. At the time, Joshua Raymond, a director at the foreign-exchange and CFD broker XTB, told Business Insider: “The delay to Segwit2x has damaged confidence amongst bitcoin investors concerning the much-needed resolution to speed up bitcoin’s slow processing speed.
“Everyone was hoping the Segwit2x would address this but unfortunately, the delay due to a lack of consensus on the mechanics has affected confidence. Confidence on transaction speed in Bitcoin has deteriorated significantly in recent months. As Bitcoin Cash enjoys much faster transaction speeds, we have started to see a recycling of positions out of Bitcoin into Bitcoin Cash as a consequence.” Just don’t call cryptos an investment or asset or asset class or currency. While they could be used as currency, in reality, these kinds of violent moves make their use as currency way too risky and nonsensical. What’s left? The blockchain technology, which underpins these cryptos, is free and open source. Currently a lot of smart brains are trying to figure out how to put the technology to work in all kinds of industries.
Some of them will likely succeed. I’m looking forward to the moment when there is a way of transferring money around the world that is universal, convenient, cheap, fast, not subject to violent fluctuations, and 100% reliable. But that moment isn’t here yet, and neither bitcoin nor Bitcoin Cash will have anything to do with it. Instead of being usable currencies, cryptos – CoinMarketCap lists nearly 1,300 of them, with many of them already worthless – are a form of online betting based on a new technology, and they’re subject to different dynamics than classic online betting, but not regulated or forbidden by governments, unlike classic online betting.
Just three weeks after we reported that special counsel Mueller was targeting lobbying firm Podesta Group. and just two weeks after Tony Podesta resigned from his position at the firm he founded, The Hill reports that Kimberley Fritts, the Podesta Group’s chief executive, told employees on Thursday that the firm would not exist at the end of the year and that they would likely not be paid through the end of November, sources told CNN. Fritts announced her resignation from the top Washington lobbying group after Podesta left the company amid ties to indictments filed in the Russia investigation. Fritts is beginning work on launching a new firm. Her last day at the company Friday created new uncertainty for the Podesta Group after the departure of Podesta on Oct. 30.
Multiple employees who spoke to The Hill said the mood at the firm was mostly optimistic, though they said many of the firm’s dozens of employees could be in limbo as Fritts sets up the new firm and brings Podesta Group talent and clients with her. As a reminder, Mueller is now investigating whether the Podesta Group properly identified to U.S. authorities its foreign work on behalf of a Ukrainian advocacy group in Europe, CNN reported. An NBC report found that the Podesta Group was one of several firms working on Paul Manafort’s public relations campaign for European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, which the Podesta Group claims it thought was a nonpartisan think tank, something which this site reported first last August. And here is one reason why we suspect more than a few on the left are now concerned…
It goes without saying, that Podesta’s brother, John, is arguably one of the top figure in Democratic politics, serving most recently as chief of staff in the Bill Clinton White House and also as the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. What happens next to Tony (and perhaps his brother John) is to be determined, but one thing is clear: both sides of the swamp should probably control themselves in any premature celebrations as this appears to be far from over.
For the City of London Corporation, the prospect of a messy Brexit is even more terrifying than it is for many of the global banks it hosts within its coveted Square Mile. The Bank of England has warned that up to 75,000 jobs could be lost in the financial sector following Britain’s departure from the European Union. But it’s not just jobs that are on the line; so, too, is the Square Mile’s role as the world’s most important financial center, not to mention the backbone of the UK economy. In recent months the European Commission and the European Central Bank have redoubled their efforts to compel financial institutions to move at least some of their operations onto the continent. “I have a very clear message to both smaller and larger banks: the clock is ticking,” said Sabine Lautenschläger, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB and Vice-Chair of the Supervisory Board of the ECB.
“No one knows how Brexit will play out, and that’s why all affected banks should prepare themselves with a hard Brexit in mind.” Some banks are already taking action. Goldman has set aside the top eight floors of a 37-story block under construction in Frankfurt which is expected to be ready for occupation in the third quarter of 2019. Just a few months before that, construction work on the bank’s new £350m European headquarters in central London should be completed. Ten days ago, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, posted a tweet of an aerial shot of the half-finished construction in London, with the words “expecting/hoping to fill it up, but so much outside our control.” As the head of an organization with alumni at the very top of both the Bank of England and the ECB as well as tentacles that reach out to just about every corner of the old continent, Blankfein is clearly selling Goldman short, if you’ll excuse the pun.
Goldman’s not the only major bank hedging its bets. On Tuesday Germany’s struggling behemoth, Deutsche Bank, announced that it had signed an agreement to occupy at least 469,000 square feet at a site under construction in the City of London. The move comes despite a warning in April that thousands of Deutsche Bank’s UK staff may have to relocate after Brexit. To that end, Deutsche has begun work on a Frankfurt booking center that would take up some of the slack if the German lender was forced to turn its London branch into a subsidiary when Britain leaves the EU.
Most banks would prefer the status quo to continue, with the lion’s share of their operations remaining in London, which already has the physical infrastructure, legal apparatus and friendly political and regulatory culture needed to support the full gamut of global financial services. But the Brexit vote has presented rival European nations and the ECB with a golden opportunity to undermine the UK’s domination of Europe’s financial industry. They won’t let it go to waste.
Forty members of parliament from Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party have agreed to sign a letter of no-confidence in her, the Sunday Times newspaper reported. That is eight short of the number needed to trigger a party leadership contest, the mechanism through which May could be forced from office and replaced by another Conservative. May has been struggling to maintain her authority over her party since a snap election on June 8 which she called thinking she would win by a wide margin but instead resulted in her losing her parliamentary majority. Divided over how to extricate Britain from the European Union and hit by multiple scandals involving ministers, May’s government has failed to assert control over a chaotic political situation that is weakening London’s hand in Brexit talks.
An earlier attempt to unseat May in the wake of her disastrous speech at the annual party conference fizzled out, but many Conservatives remain unhappy with the prime minister’s performance and talk of a leadership contest has not gone away. May has lost two cabinet ministers in as many weeks: Michael Fallon stepped down as defense secretary after becoming implicated in a wider scandal about sexual misconduct in parliament, while Priti Patel resigned as aid minister after she was found to have had secret meetings with top Israeli officials.
Theresa May faces a devastating Commons defeat over Brexit within weeks if she continues to deny parliament a meaningful vote on the final deal with the EU, Tory and Labour MPs have warned. With the withdrawal bill returning to the Commons on Tuesday, a cross-party group who oppose a hard Brexit and are co-operating on tactics say they believe they have the numbers to defeat the government if they are denied such a vote. While the critical amendments and closest votes are not expected to be taken until next month, Tories who oppose a hard Brexit insist there is no softening of their position and that they are biding their time ready to strike before Christmas. Some Tories say they are even more determined to insist on parliament’s right to veto a bad or no deal because the prime minister appears not to have responded to any of their concerns over recent weeks.
Instead, in what was seen by many as a provocative move, she announced last week that the government had tabled its own amendment that would commit the UK to formally leaving on 29 March 2019, whatever the outcome of negotiations and even if there were no deal. Meanwhile, a secret memo to May written by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove dictating terms for a hard Brexit has emerged. In blunt terms, the pair tell the prime minister to “underline her resolve” to achieve a total break with Brussels, and name 30 June 2021 as the fixed end of Britain’s transition period after leaving the EU in March 2019. The missive will undoubtedly lead critics to say the prime minister is being held hostage by the leading Brexiters. A Commons defeat for May over Brexit, at a time when her government is reeling from the loss of two cabinet ministers in six days – and may lose more – would raise further questions over her ability to survive as prime minister.
jeremy Corbyn has fired an extraordinary broadside against Boris Johnson, calling for him to be sacked immediately as foreign secretary for “undermining our country” and “putting our citizens at risk”. The blistering attack – and demand that Theresa May fire him – was delivered exclusively in a statement to the Observer on Saturday night, as pressure mounted on Johnson over his diplomatic blunder in the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British mother imprisoned in Iran. The Labour leader cites a litany of undiplomatic and ill-chosen statements from Johnson since his appointment by May as foreign secretary in July last year. Corbyn accuses him of having a “colonial throwback take on the world”, and of repeatedly “letting our country down”.
It is the mishandling of the “heartbreaking” case of Zaghari-Ratcliffe that persuaded Corbyn to call for his dismissal. His statement ends: “We’ve put up with Johnson embarrassing and undermining our country with his incompetence and colonial throwback views and putting our citizens at risk for long enough. It’s time for him to go.” The intervention places both May and Johnson under renewed pressure after 10 days in which the prime minister has been forced to dismiss defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon for inappropriate behaviour towards women, and the international development secretary, Priti Patel, for conducting a freelance aid policy in the Middle East without informing No 10 or the Foreign Office.
Demanding reparations from Germany for its actions in Poland during World War Two is a matter of honor for Warsaw, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Polish ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, said on Saturday. The issue of reparations, revived by Poland’s eurosceptic PiS after decades of improving relations with Germany, could escalate tensions between the two European Union members. In September Polish parliamentary legal experts ruled that Warsaw has the right to demand reparations from Germany, although Poland’s foreign minister indicated that no immediate claim would be made. “The French were paid, Jews were paid, many other nations were paid for the losses they suffered during World War Two. Poles were not,” Kaczynski said.
“It is not only about material funds. It is about our status, our honor … And this is not theater. This is our demand, a totally serious demand,” added Kaczynski, Poland’s de facto leader. The PiS government, deeply distrustful of Germany, has raised calls for wartime compensation in recent months but Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski has said further analysis was needed before any claims were lodged. Six million Poles, including three million Polish Jews, were killed during the war, and the capital Warsaw was razed to the ground in 1944 after a failed uprising in which 200,000 civilians died.
Hundreds of thousands of Catalan independence supporters clogged one of Barcelona’s main avenues on Saturday to demand the release of separatist leaders held in prison for their roles in the region’s banned drive to split from Spain. Wearing yellow ribbons on their lapels to signify support, they filled the length of the Avenue Marina that runs from the beach to Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia church, while the jailed leaders’ families made speeches. Catalonia’s two main grassroots independence groups called the march, under the slogan “Freedom for the political prisoners,” after their leaders were remanded in custody on charges of sedition last month. The protest is seen as a test of how the independence movement’s support has fared since the Catalan government declared independence on Oct. 27, prompting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to fire its members, dissolve the regional parliament and call new elections for December.
An opinion poll this week showed that pro-independence parties would win the largest share of the vote, though a majority was not assured and question marks remain over ousted regional head Carles Puigdemont’s leadership of the separatist cause. “Look at all the people here,” said 63-year-old Pep Morales. “The independence movement is still going strong.” Barcelona police said about 750,000 people had attended, many from across Catalonia. The protesters carried photos with the faces of those in prison, waved the red-and-yellow striped Catalan independence flag and shone lights from their phones. The Spanish High Court has jailed eight former Catalan government members, along with the leaders of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, while investigations continue.
Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has lashed out against the European Union (EU) over its response to the Catalan crisis, in which Brussels sided with Madrid in suppressing the independence drive of the region. Puigdemont criticized the EU as a “caricature of what Europe is and of what we want Europe to be,” claiming, there is “no will to help solve the politics of the conflict.” Catalonia staged a regional independence referendum on October 1, amid a massive crackdown by police on voters in which nearly 900 people were injured. Following the ‘yes’ vote, Barcelona attempted to initiate dialogue with the central government, hoping the EU would step in and act as mediator to help defuse tensions.
Leaders of European nations, as well as the EU’s main institutions, sided with the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy instead, and refused to recognize Catalonia’s self-determination call, referring to the crisis as an internal Spanish matter. The former Catalan leader sees it as a betrayal of the fundamental “values that took us to constitute Europe.” Puigdemont believes the EU leadership, which he said comprises “four or five governments,” are “probably not the most appropriate to lead the EU.” “What will the EU become in hands of this people?” the former Catalan leader asked, pointing out that he does not want the EU’s leadership to “confuse” traditional European values with “their political and economic interests.”
Just this week, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on all member nations to fight against separatist tendencies in Europe, apparently in reference to Scotland, Lombardy, Venice and other regions throughout the continent which have expressed strong self-determination ambitions. “Nationalisms are a poison that prevent Europe from working together,” Juncker said Thursday in the Spanish city of Salamanca. “We cannot stay with our arms crossed because it is time for us to do what needs to be done. I say ‘no’ to any form of separatism that weakens Europe and further widens the existing fissures.” [..] “To be treated like a criminal, like a drug-trafficker, like a paedophile, like a serial killer, I think this is abuse,” the Catalan leader lamented. “This isn’t politics, this is using the courts to do politics.”
Aid workers are being targeted throughout Europe as countries including the UK use laws aimed at traffickers and smugglers to discourage humanitarian activity, a study claims. A six-month investigation by the London-based Institute of Race Relations documented the prosecutions of 45 individual “humanitarian actors” under anti-smuggling or immigration laws in 26 separate actions over the past two years. Examples include a 25-year-old British volunteer with a refugee support group, who last January sought to bring an Albanian mother and two children to the UK in the boot of her car so they could join their husband and father. She was sentenced in March to 14 months in jail, although the sentence was suspended to take into account her “misguided humanitarianism”.
UK law does not distinguish between humanitarian and commercial motives in such prosecutions, but does take such factors into account in sentencing. In Switzerland, a 43-year-old woman known to refugees as Mother Teresa for her work in providing food for those stranded on the Italian side of the border, was sentenced in September to a fine and a suspended 80-day jail term for helping unaccompanied children into the country. In France, British volunteers helping refugees in Calais have frequently been harassed by the authorities. In October 2015, former British soldier Rob Lawrie was arrested at the border for hiding a four-year-old Afghan child in his van in response to her father’s pleas to take her to relatives in Leeds. Lawrie, from West Yorkshire, avoided jail after a French court found him guilty of the lesser charge of endangerment rather than assisting illegal entry.
And in March this year three French and British volunteers with charity Roya Citoyenne were arrested for distributing food to migrants. The 68-page IRR report chronicles a culture of criminalisation in which volunteers for charities and aid groups, attempting to fill the gaps in state provision, are targeted for providing food, shelter and clean water to migrants in informal encampments or on streets. The EU’s border force, Frontex, has accused aid groups including Médecins Sans Frontières of co-operating with migrant traffickers in the Mediterranean. The report criticises senior Frontex officials for “attempts to bully and delegitimise” NGO search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean by accusing aid groups of working with smugglers and encouraging trafficking. The IRR’s vice-chair, Frances Webber, said: “Across the continent, criminal laws designed to target organised smuggling gangs and profiteers are distorted and stretched to fit an anti-refugee, anti-humanitarian agenda, and in the process criminalise decency itself.”
The disposable income of Greece’s average earners has been slashed by more than 50% due to overtaxation in recent years, according to the latest data examined by Kathimerini, which also paints a grim picture for the coming years. What’s more, the reduction of the income tax threshold is expected to further impact the disposable income of households. Brussels expects Greece’s primary surplus to beat its target of 3.5% of GDP again next year, rising to 3.9%, and then to 3.7% in 2019. However, the primary surpluses Greece has posted in the last two years are largely due to exorbitant taxes rather the result of growth. Moreover, while the European Commission’s statistics point to a disproportionate increase in taxation in Greece, at a time when the economy was shrinking, the country’s industrialists and political opposition say overtaxation has led to more tax evasion and the failure of the tax system.
Those hardest hit have been freelance professionals, who since 2009 have been subjected to unprecedented raids by the tax office, and more recently by social insurance contribution hikes, resulting in the gradual exhaustion of their income. And high taxes, including property taxes, are the reason why both freelancers and self-employed professionals submitted incomes last year that were 20% lower than their actual earnings. A telling example of overtaxation concerns freelance professionals who own a car and an apartment and earn 50,000 euros a year: In 2009 they had to pay 16,333 euros of their annual income to the tax office and their social security fund, leaving them with a net income of 33,667 euros. Five years later, their clear income dropped by a further 4,344 euros to 29,323.
The situation today is even more dire as the same self-employed professional making 50,000 euros must pay 32,151 euros in taxes and contributions, leaving them with a disposable income of 17,849. Taxes and social security contributions have rocketed by 96.8% since 2009, while compared to 2014 they have risen by 55.5%.
The Trump administration’s revised travel ban faced a new court challenge as soon as it took effect Thursday after the president’s signature immigration policy already weathered months of protests, legal wrangling and delays. A new set of restrictions on refugees and immigrants from six predominantly Muslim countries took effect at 8 p.m. EDT. The administration said the rules should help prevent the chaotic airport scenes witnessed when President Donald Trump’s initial order was abruptly imposed in January. But a half-hour before the ban took effect, Hawaii asked a judge to clarify whether the government violated instructions from the U.S. Supreme Court in defining who’s covered by the ban and who’s excluded.
If implemented as intended, the travel restrictions would allow Trump to declare partial victory on his campaign promise to stem the flow of refugees and travelers from nations he deems a security risk. Lower court decisions to uphold two of his proposed travel bans were early, public defeats for the administration in its initial weeks. To minimize disruptions this time, the State Department, Homeland Security Department and Justice Department coordinated in advance to establish clearer guidelines for thousands of consular officers, airlines and travelers. And unlike in January, when hundreds of travelers arriving in the U.S. were turned back or detained at airports, those already holding a valid visa will be let in. “The American public could have legitimate concerns about their safety when we open our doors,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said at a briefing Thursday.
“We want to open our doors to people who are willing to go through proper screening measures and who want to be here and want to be productive members of our society.” The latest effort followed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week that travelers from the six nations – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – with “bona fide” connections in the U.S. be exempted from the travel ban. That definition was interpreted to mean that travelers with specific, close family members in the U.S., including spouses, children, and siblings, could be let in. But people whose closest connections are grandparents, aunts and uncles could be barred. Students or travelers with business or professional ties from the affected countries also are exempt if they can show a relationship that’s formal and documented, and not based on an intent to evade the ban.
That is a pretty bold statement to make considering that every one of her predecessors failed to predict the negative consequences of their actions. Will there will be another “Financial Crisis” in our lifetimes? Yes, it is virtually guaranteed. The previous “crisis” wasn’t about just “an asset gone bad,” but rather the systemic shock caused by a “freeze” in the credit markets when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. Counterparties evaporated, banks froze lending and the credit market ceased to function. Credit, not the stock market, is the “lifeblood” of the economy. Of course, it is all good now because the Fed says so with Ms. Yellen placing a great amount of faith in the Fed’s own carefully constructed, and recently released results, of “bank stress tests.” Interestingly, EVERY bank passed with flying colors. In other words, the Millennial generation has now passed the baton of “Everybody Gets A Trophy” to the banking sector. [..] Here is why Janet Yellen is wrong in believing another “Financial Crisis” can’t occur:
Catalyst 1: Delinquency & Defaults We are already seeing the early warning signs with delinquency rates rising and commercial lending on the decline in both consumer and commercial and industrial loans. [..] Of course, this also includes the credit problems of the collapse in Commercial Real Estate which is grossly leveraged at a time when prices have begun to stagnate with an oversupply of inventory sitting on the ground.
Catalyst 2: Leverage & Robots It isn’t just bank loans which will catalyze the coming financial crisis. It is also, be the massive surge in debt and leverage over the last eight years including student loans, credit cards, corporate debt and margin loans. As I discussed recently in the “Illusion Of Liquidity:” “The illusion of liquidity has a dangerous side effect. The process of the previous two debt-deleveraging cycles led to rather sharp market reversions as margin calls, and the subsequent unwinding of margin debt fueled a liquidation cycle in financial assets. The resultant loss of the ‘wealth effect’ weighed on consumption pushing the economy into recession which then impacted corporate and household debt leading to defaults, write-offs, and bankruptcies.”
Catalyst 3: Pensions Lastly, and a point clearly missed by Ms. Yellen in her quest to dismiss financial crisis risks, is the $3 Trillion “Pension Crisis” that is just one sharp downturn away from imploding. The cresting of the “baby boom” generation now puts these massively underfunded pensions at risk of a “run on assets” during the next downturn which could send the entire system into chaos. Of course, this problem can be directly traced to the malfeasance of pension fund managers, and pension boards, which used excessively high return rates to lower costs of contributions.
Reader Brian emailed an ad for huge discounts on cars. The fine print is rather amusing: Must be subprime and must finance through Chrysler Capital. Frequently, when you see an ad “only x available at this price”, there are really none available at that price. They all went to friends of the dealer. I called about the 2017 Patriot and there were still some left but they were “going fast”. The ad reads “Primary customer must have a FICO score below 620 and must finance through Chrysler Capital” I asked what happens if my credit score was above 620. As expected, I could not get that price. For someone with a credit score of 800 the price jumps to $13,485.
I asked what happens if I pay all cash. That price is $13,995. I asked about prepayment penalties and California does not allow them. Still, the MSRP is $21,760 and you can get one for $13,995. That is a discount of 35.7% off the MSRP. I do not know what this model typically sells for, but that seems like a hefty discount. A subprime buyer can pay $11,995. That is a discount of 44.9% off MSRP. Since there are no prepayment penalties, one could immediately pay it off in theory. In practice, someone with a credit score below 620 is extremely unlikely to be in a position to pay the loan off immediately.
If you’re still on the fence about whether the auto market in this country is anything but a massive bubble being propped up by extremely loose credit underwriting standards, then we think we’ve just found some definitive evidence for you. As Jalopnik noted earlier today, at first glance the following advertisement for a $55,000 truck from a dealership in Texas looks fairly ‘normal’…an extremely high starting MSRP at the top followed by a series of incentive offers that make the vehicle look “affordable.” But, take a closer look and we think you just might find something rather disturbing…that’s right, a $1,500 discount offered only to people with “Low Credit Scores.”
Ordinarily, of course, lender/dealer financing incentives like these would be offered to folks with good credit, because…well, that’s at least somewhat logical, but it seems as though this particular dealer has already sold a $55,000 truck to everyone with good credit and is looking to ‘creatively’ broaden it’s addressable market. Meanwhile, looking at the fine print, it seems as though this incentive is particularly targeted at subprime borrowers with credit scores below 620. “April 2017 Pricing on all new vehicles may include up to $1500 in finance rebates that have certain credit requirements to be able to claim this rebate. The finance office is Credit Score based and you must be below 620 to qualify. If you are over a 620 you must add up to $1500 to the price. Varies by make and model. Not all units are eligible for this rebate. Call Dealer for Details.”
Japan’s industrial output fell 3.3% in May from the previous month due to lower production of cars and construction equipment, preliminary government data showed on Friday, in a sign of a temporary lull in manufacturing activity. The result compared with the median estimate of a 3.2% decline in a Reuters poll of economists. It followed a 4.0% increase in April, which was the fastest increase in almost six years, the data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed. Manufacturers surveyed by the ministry expect output to rise 2.8% in June and fall 0.1% in July.
Famed investigative journalist Bob Woodward criticized the media’s open bias toward President Trump on Tuesday in remarks following a screening of “All The President’s Men” in Washington, D.C. Woodward, the reporter who broke the Nixon Watergate scandal the media now loves to compare to the Trump administration, said it’s crucial the press retain the trust of the public, and execute a deep “fair-mindedness” when reporting. He pointed to a list of Trump’s “lies” compiled by The New York Times in which some of the president’s are misjudged as an example of overt bias, after he was asked about the media’s treatment of Trump in a Q&A session at Landmark E Street Cinema. “[Number three on the list] was that Trump said he was on the cover of Time magazine 14 or 15 times when it was in fact 11 times,” Woodward said. “… That’s not a lie.”
He likened Trump’s statement instead to someone getting pulled over for speeding and telling the police officer that they were driving the speed limit. “Tone matters, and headlines matter, and you want people to [trust you],” he said. “[It] really betrays the anti-Trump media bias,” Woodward added, regarding the media’s coverage of the investigation into Russian meddling in the election. “I think a kind of brief, deeply fair-mindedness is essential, but as essential or maybe more essential is a game plan for reporting this and going to Moscow and finding the bookkeeper.” The bookkeeper was a reference to a key source for Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their Watergate coverage. Woodward has been a consistent voice for journalism in recent months, calling the Buzzfeed dossier “a garbage document” and saying that the Comey investigation was “not yet Watergate,” contradicting frequent mainstream claims.
So how do Watergate and Iran-Contra compare and contrast with Russia-gate? One key difference is that in Watergate in 1972-73 and Iran-Contra in 1985-86, you had clear-cut crimes (even if you don’t want to believe the two “prequels” from 1968 and 1980, respectively). In Watergate, five burglars were caught inside the DNC offices on June 17, 1972, as they sought to plant more bugs on Democratic phones. (An earlier break-in in May had installed two bugs, but one didn’t work.) Nixon then proceeded to mount a cover-up of his 1972 campaign’s role in funding the break-in and other abuses of power. In Iran-Contra, Reagan secretly authorized weapons sales to Iran, which was then designated a terrorist state, without informing Congress, a violation of the Arms Export Control Act. He also kept Congress in the dark about his belated signing of a related intelligence “finding.”
And the creation of slush funds to finance the Nicaraguan Contras represented an evasion of the U.S. Constitution. There was also the attendant Iran-Contra cover-up mounted both by the Reagan White House and later the George H.W. Bush White House, which culminated in Bush’s Christmas Eve 1992 pardons of six Iran-Contra defendants as special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh was zeroing in on possible indictment of Bush for withholding evidence. By contrast, Russia-gate has been a “scandal” in search of a specific crime. President Barack Obama’s intelligence chieftains have alleged – without presenting any clear evidence – that the Russian government hacked into the emails of the Democratic National Committee and of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta and released those emails via WikiLeaks and other Internet sites. (The Russians and WikiLeaks have both denied the accusations.)
The DNC emails revealed that senior Democrats did not maintain their required independence regarding the primaries by seeking to hurt Sen. Bernie Sanders and help Clinton. The Podesta emails pulled back the curtain on Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street banks and on pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation. Hacking into personal computers is a crime, but the U.S. government has yet to bring any formal charges against specific individuals supposedly responsible for the hacking of the Democratic emails. There also has been no evidence that Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russians in the hacking. Lacking any precise evidence of this cyber-crime or of a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign, Obama’s Justice Department holdovers and now special prosecutor Robert Mueller have sought to build “process crimes,” around false statements to investigators and possible obstruction of justice.
In the case of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, acting Attorney General Sally Yates used the archaic Logan Act of 1799 to create a predicate for the FBI to interrogate Flynn about a Dec. 29, 2016 conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, i.e., after Trump’s election but before the Inauguration. The Logan Act, which has never resulted in a prosecution in 218 years, was enacted during the period of the Alien and Sedition Acts to bar private citizens from negotiating on their own with foreign governments. It was never intended to apply to a national security adviser of an elected President, albeit before he was sworn in. But it became the predicate for the FBI interrogation — and the FBI agents were armed with a transcript of the intercepted Kislyak-Flynn phone call so they could catch Flynn on any gaps in his recollection, which might have been made even hazier because he was on vacation in the Dominican Republic when Kislyak called.
Seventeen intelligence agencies: if you’ve been following the maniacal #TrumpRussia coverage to any extent, you’ve heard this phrase used uncritically, time and again, regardless of your ideological loyalties. Pundits, papers and rank-and-file establishment loyalists have been unquestioningly regurgitating the nonsensical line that 17 intelligence agencies confirmed Russian interference in the US elections ever since Hillary Clinton made that baseless assertion in a debate back in October. The innate absurdity of the claim was immediately attacked by WikiLeaks and anti-establishment outlets who pointed out that this would necessarily need to involve full investigations from agencies like the Coast Guard, the DEA and the Energy Department in order to be true.
Nevertheless, many high-profile pro-establishment outlets like Politifact and USA Today found Clinton’s claims to be 100% true on the grounds that James Clapper, then-Director of National Intelligence and notorious Russophobic racist, “speaks on behalf of” all 17 intelligence agencies. To this day Politifact stands by its false claim on the basis of that same spurious assertion. It turns out, however, that in addition to Clapper’s office there were only three intelligence agencies involved in that assessment, not 17, and that the conclusions were drawn not by the actual agencies in full, but by a mere two dozen loyalists from those agencies hand-selected by Russophobic eugenicist Clapper himself. The great Robert Parry notes in his Consortium News article about this point, “as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you ‘hand-pick’ the analysts, you are really hand-picking the conclusion. For instance, if the analysts were known to be hard-liners on Russia or supporters of Hillary Clinton, they could be expected to deliver the one-sided report that they did.”
As reported by Parry, we have known about these facts since they emerged from Clapper’s racist face hole on May 8, and they were confirmed by former CIA Director John Brennan on May 23. And yet at a California technology conference on May 31, Hillary Clinton repeated the same lie she’s been spouting since October: “Seventeen agencies, all in agreement, which I know from my experience as a Senator and Secretary of State, is hard to get. They concluded with high confidence that the Russians ran an extensive information war campaign against my campaign, to influence voters in the election. They did it through paid advertising we think; they did it through false news sites; they did it through these thousand agents; they did it through machine learning, which you know, kept spewing out this stuff over and over again. The algorithms that they developed. So that was the conclusion.”
The “17 intelligence agencies” lie had been completely, thoroughly debunked for weeks, and yet not a soul called Clinton out on her brazen lie within the establishment press. Indeed, establishment pundits like Megyn Kelly continued to repeat the lie, and have continued to do so throughout the month of June. All this changed when CNN was sent reeling by a 1–2–3-punch combination ensuing from its horrendously propagandistic Russia coverage, which has seen three of its journalists lose their jobs and sent the network into international disgrace. All of a sudden we are seeing establishment outlets getting a lot more conscientious about what they choose to publish about the Russian Federation, and today we saw none other than the New York Times posting the very first retraction of this long-debunked lie that we have seen in establishment media.
Even the New York TImes has issued a correction repudiating the “17 intelligence agencies” meme. There’s a James Clapper testimony video in which he says it was only CIA, NSA and FBI, “not all 17”. But Podesta just keeps using it. One creepy individual, if you ask me.
Even after James O’Keefe and Project Veritas essentially blew the lid right off the fake ‘Russia hacked the election’ narrative, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman, John Podesta, doubled down on the debunked narrative when challenged by Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on his ties to a Kremlin-backed company. Podesta met behind closed doors on Tuesday with the members of the House Intelligence Committee as part of the panel’s investigation into supposed Russian efforts to meddle in the presidential election. When asked what he could tell the Thursday Fox audience about the House Intel meeting, Podesta explained that the panel wanted to know “what had happened to me and the effect on the campaign … the effect of the Russian interference in our democratic process.”
“They’re probing what actually happened, whether if there was collusion and what we’re going to do about,” Podesta told Bartiromo. “They asked me not to get into specific questions that they asked me and my specific answers but in general terms, they’re taking a bipartisan look at this stage.” Fox Host Maria Bartiromo then chimes in with a question that digs sharply into the skin of Podesta. “Don’t you find it odd that there’s been so much attention on the Trump Campaign and the Trump associates and potential collusion with the Russians when in fact it’s really the Democrats who have deeper and stronger ties to Russia,” Bartiromo said. “I mean John I have to ask your own situation..”
Bartiromo then goes on to break down how Podesta joined the board of the board of a small energy company in 2011 which later received $35 million from a Kremlin-funded entity. According to Bartiromo, Podesta also owns 75,000 shares in a Russian company and failed to disclose this to the Obama administration. And this is where things got heated…
For about a week now, Benjamin Wittes, the Brookings Institution senior fellow and noted ally of former FBI Director James Comey, has been taunting the Trump administration with tweets suggesting that another ‘bombshell’ story, presumably related to the Russia investigation, was in the works and set to drop any minute. Of course, people took notice of the warnings because Wittes posted similar tweets just before the New York Times published their now infamous story on Comey’s memos So what was the “bombshell” story? It seems to have come in the form of a rather bizarre, and thoroughly difficult to follow, Wall Street Journal article entitled “GOP Operative Sought Clinton Emails From Hackers, Implied a Connection to Flynn.”
To summarize the ‘bombshell’, the story is about a long-time Republican opposition researcher, 81-year-old Peter W. Smith, who apparently set out on a mission to find Hillary’s 30,000 emails which the FBI confirmed had gone missing. In his efforts to find those emails, he scoured hacking chat rooms looking for clues and/or hackers that might be able to help him. The WSJ alleges that Smith may or may not have been working with Michael Flynn but, in the end, they found absolutely nothing. To summarize even further, a guy tried to find Hillary’s missing emails and failed…HALT THE PRESSES! Of course, the goal of the story is to paint some sinister plot that involved Smith and Michael Flynn enlisting the help of some Russians to hack the 2016 election…thus ‘proving’ the collusion angle.
Unfortunately, the story seems to prove the exact opposite which is, if Flynn was really running around on some wild goose chase looking for Hillary’s missing 30,000 emails by chatting up hackers on a message board then we have to assume that means he wasn’t in any way connected to the original hack which ended up on WikiLeaks. [..] Of course, it’s only deeper in the story that the WSJ admits they have no idea if Flynn was even involved with Smith…but no one reads an entire article so it’s fairly irrelevant. “What role, if any, Mr. Flynn may have played in Mr. Smith’s project is unclear. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Smith said he knew Mr. Flynn, but he never stated that Mr. Flynn was involved.” [..] Meanwhile, the WSJ confirms that Smith died last month at the age of 81. So there you have it…all the makings of another salacious, ‘bombshell’ story with multiple references to Russians, hackers, collusion, shady dealings with Michael Flynn, etc, yet still no evidence of pretty much anything.
Peace is popular. That was Ron Paul’s message to our audience in Texas earlier this spring, and it has been his consistent message since first running for Congress in the 1970s. So why do seemingly endless wars remain such a stubborn feature of the American presidency, with the shameful complicity of Congress? Americans who supported Trump did so overwhelmingly because he promised a populist “America First” approach to both domestic and foreign policy. Every poll shows that the domestic economy, culture wars, and immigration were the animating issues of the election – not our ongoing military misadventures in the Middle East. Nobody voted for an escalation of US involvement in Syria, nobody voted to ramp up the never-ending war in Afghanistan by dispatching the Mother of All Bombs, and nobody voted to resurrect an absurd decades-old conflict with North Korea.
Yet President Trump has done all of these things, largely abandoning the noninterventionist promises of Candidate Trump. Perversely, ordering a missile attack on a Syrian air base was the first and only act that earned him praise from his enemies at organs like the New York Times and Washington Post. “He’s finally acting presidential” they gushed. To understand Trump’s departures from his campaign rhetoric is to understand the very nature of politics and the bureaucratic state. Nobody goes to Washington to “run” the government. Washington runs them. Trump, ostensibly the biggest outsider to win the presidency in modern American history, cannot overcome the entrenched foreign policy establishment any more than he can overcome gravity. 95% of employees at the State Department, Pentagon, CIA, NSA, and the rest of the alphabet soup agencies do not come and go with elections.
They, along with the vast apparatus of defense contractors, are not going anywhere. Permanent war and interventionism requires permanent funding. And like all tax-funded enterprises, war is inherently anti-capitalist. It diverts resources, swells state bureaucracies, and hides the horrific human and economic costs in a cloak of patriotism and platitudes about America’s role in the world. When we hear Vice President Pence talk about “rebuilding the arsenal of democracy,” he really means it. Ludwig von Mises saw German war socialism up close as a lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian army during the Great War. Under Wehrwirtschaftslehre, the German doctrine of war economics, the normal calculations of capitalist businessmen go out the window. Costs, quality, demand, and profit become wholly secondary to the overriding goal of preparing the nation for war.
Municipal garbage collectors Thursday started the long and unpleasant task of picking up thousands of tons of trash that has been rotting under the sun for the past two weeks after unionists decided to call off strike action demanding job security. As fears of a threat to public health spiked Thursday amid an intensifying heat wave, the union representing protesting workers, POE-OTA, announced that they would be ending their action. The decision came on the day of a 24-hour strike by POE-OTA workers who pressed on with the walkout despite having wrested concessions from the government earlier in the week. Local authorities in Athens, Thessaloniki and other cities are now expected to rehire thousands of sanitation workers whose short-term contracts have expired.
According to sources, the Interior Ministry is on Friday to issue a circular to local authorities across the country, calling for the implementation of an amendment approved in Parliament on Wednesday which foresees the extension of workers’ short-term contracts. It remains unclear how POE-OTA will react, however, if municipalities end up hiring fewer than the 6,150 people currently employed on short-term contracts in sanitation. Meanwhile contract workers have to clean up the mess in the streets. According to Giorgos Broulias, deputy mayor of Athens, it will take at least four days to pick up all the trash. “It will then take even more days for parts of the capital to be washed down with cleansing agents and disinfectants,” he told Kathimerini.
Italy is poised to instruct its ports to turn away foreign ships carrying rescued migrants unless other EU countries agree to greater burden-sharing on refugee arrivals, a senior government source said Wednesday. The threat would apply to ships run by NGOs but not to foreign state units operating under EU border agency Frontex and EU naval mission Eunavfor Med Sophia, the source told dpa. The same source said Italy’s ambassador to the EU, Maurizio Massari, was sent to meet EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos to deliver the message that “Italy is dealing with a serious situation and Europe cannot turn the other way.” “The ambassador highlighted that Italy’s efforts have been enormous and well beyond international obligations [and] under the current circumstances it is difficult for our authorities to allow further disembarkations of migrants,” an Italian diplomat added.
It was not immediately clear whether the ban against foreign NGO ships could be enacted legally. It could affect several German vessels operated by German sea rescue charities, such as Jugend Rettet and Sea Watch. “We are a bit worried by this idea,” said Michele Trainiti, sea rescue coordinator for the Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The medical charity operates two boats in the Mediterranean, including one with a non-Italian flag. He said diverting vessels to France, for example, “would require many more days of navigation with people in very precarious situations,” which current MSF rescue vessels “are not equipped for.”
Rome’s hard-line message filtered out following the record rescue of nearly 10,000 migrants since the weekend, and in the wake of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni’s failure at last week’s EU summit to convince partners to take in more asylum seekers. It also came in the wake of a Sunday local election rout for the ruling centre-left Democratic Party, which several commentators blamed on public discontent with rising immigration and government proposals to grant citizenship to children of foreign residents.
As 1,032 people plucked from the Mediterranean prepared to disembark the MS Aquarius onto southern Italian soil on Thursday, bringing refugee and migrant arrivals to more than 12,000 this week, those who had rescued them said they understood why Rome was threatening to close its ports to such vessels. “Officially, we haven’t heard anything from the Italian government … but if this is indeed the case, if anything it sounds more like a cry for help from the Italian government towards the EU,” said Marcella Kraay, a Dutch coordinator with Médecins Sans Frontières, as the ship arrived at Porto di Corigliano in Calabria. “And that goes along with what we’ve always asked for, which is for the EU to organise dedicated search and rescue in the Mediterranean. Until that happens we are forced to be out there because people are in danger, they’re going to drown if we’re not there.”
The last week has seen a surge of refugees arriving on humanitarian rescue ships. The Aquarius, which has been been undertaking risky year-round search and rescue missions in waters north of Libya since 2015, set a new record on Tuesday as it recovered more than 1,000 people in just one day. More than 5,000 people arrived in Italy on Monday alone, according to the International Office for Migration. The Italian government, which came under pressure from a strong challenge from the centre-right in local elections this week, has responded by giving its EU ambassador a mandate to raise the issue with the European commission – including the possibility it could close its ports to the ships. A commission spokeswoman said it supported Italy’s “call for a change in the situation” and the bloc’s migration ministers would tackle the matter next week.
“Over the last few months we’ve heard so many things said that were going to happen, or that should happen, or politicians basically gearing up for elections, that it doesn’t make me feel all that much right now,” said Kraay on board the Aquarius, which is chartered by the German-French charity SOS Méditerranée. “Let’s cross that bridge when we get there … until now we just need to stay focussed on doing our job.”
David Stockman, the man widely credited as the “Father of Reaganomics”, delivered an alarming message to investors. “The markets are hideously inflated,” warned Stockman on CNBC’s “Fast Money” this week. The former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan urged investors to dump stocks and bonds ahead of the dangers that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton pose to markets if either is elected as President. “If you don’t sell before the election, certainly do it afterwards. Government is going to be totally paralyzed regardless of who wins,” he said. “There could be a 25% draw down on markets.” Stockman posits that, under a Clinton administration, official investigations and new hacked email disclosures from Wikileaks will be non-stop.
Furthermore, he reasoned that the “house will become a killing field” for anything Clinton is trying to do. Ultimately, Stockman said the Democrat would enter the Oval Office bruised, bloody and all but lacking in legitimacy. “For six months, or even longer, there will acrimony, there will be brinkmanship, there will be paralysis. There will be a swarm of house committees doing investigations from all of these wiki leaks!” Stockman said of Clinton’s hypothetical early days in the White House. “Therefore, there will be no baton handed off from the Fed to fiscal policy as we slide into recession,” he added.
[..] Comparatively, Stockman likes that Trump appears ready to call out the Fed and breakup the “cozy” relationship that exists between Washington and Wall Street. However, that’s where his favorable opinion of the GOP nominee ends. “I like him because he’s against the establishment, but he has no economic program. Yes, he’s a disruptor, but has nothing to disrupt with,” Stockman said. “If elected, it will be partisan warfare and a total disaster,” Stockman explained to CNBC. “Under a Trump victory, all bets are off.”
In case of an election night Doomsday, preppers are running up sales of emergency survival food. While sales for “long term food” typically see an increase around natural disasters and elections, “this is more intense than what we saw in 2012,” said Keith Bansemer, VP of marketing for My Patriot Supply, a manufacturer and seller of survival food. During the previous election his company saw sales double. This time it’s triple. “We have everyone we can on the phones,” he said. “We are overwhelmed.” Purchases at other long term food supply companies are up as well. Emergency preparedness online store TheEpicenter reports a 6% uptick in year over year sales. Another company, Legacy Foods, predicts they’ll see a 1-2 week spike in sales after the election — if Hillary Clinton wins, said owner Phil Cox.
The meals, sold by the plastic bucket or tote bin, are typically dehydrated or freeze-dried food in sealed military-grade Mylar packs. Menu items include pasta primavera, Hawaiian Style Sweet n’ Sour, cheesy broccoli and rice soup, orange energy drink mix and chocolate pudding. They’re sold in bundles based on how long they’ll feed you. For $2,000 spent at Legacy Foods, you could eat three square meals a day for an entire year. That’s 1,080 servings. TheEpicenter has a 14-day supply kit for $235 that’s recently been “selling really well,” said owner Bryan Nelson. The most popular entry-level seller at My Patriot Supply is a 3-month supply for $497. It comes a in nondescript gray slim line totes bin designed to be easy to stack in the back of a closet or slip under your bed.
With the Wikileaks release of thousands of emails belonging to John Podesta, very little is known in US society about Podesta himself. While he’s maintained a low profile, John Podesta is actually considered one of Washington’s biggest players, and one of the most powerful corporate lobbyists in the world. In this episode of The Empire Files, Abby Martin explores John Podesta’s political rise, his vast network of corporate connections and his think tank “Center for American Progress.” Learn why the Podestas and the Clintons are a match made in ruling class heaven.
Whistleblower Julian Assange has given one of his most incendiary interviews ever in a John Pilger Special, courtesy of Dartmouth Films, in which he summarizes what can be gleaned from the tens of thousands of Clinton emails released by WikiLeaks this year.
An organization hoping to facilitate the secession of California from the Union is holding a meet and greet on the Capitol steps in Sacramento next Wednesday, the day after the presidential election. The Yes California Independence Campaign, which is based in San Diego, is aiming to qualify a citizen’s initiative in 2018 to get a referendum for secession on the ballot in 2019. They’ll be in Sacramento to garner support for their initiative. “In our view,” a statement on its website reads, “the United States of America represents so many things that conflict with Californian values, and our continued statehood means California will continue subsidizing the other states to our own detriment, and to the detriment of our children.” And it appears the organization has been considering its strategy for quite a while now. On its site, you’ll find a link to a 33-page “Blue Book” wherein the organization answers any hypothetical questions about the state becoming its own country.
The details for the secession — dubbed the #CalExit — include such topics such as “Will we join the United Nations?” and “Will we have our own Olympic team?”. While the notion of an independent California does seem well-intended — points about immigration, environmental concerns, and education are thoughtful — the practicality of such a proposal is tenuous at best. Will this secession campaign be viable? In a word: No. As we know from the Civil War, just because a state wants to secede doesn’t mean the Union will let it. As Washington Post writer Philip Bump wrote earlier this year, Congress simply would not, for many reasons, allow it. “There’s no mechanism for Congress to simply say, ‘Sure, off you go.’ Once you’re in, you’re in,” he wrote. “The United States was born an expansionist enterprise, and the idea of contraction, it seems, never really came up.”
[..] ..what the last week of this presidential campaign has shown us is that technology has disrupted, is disrupting, is threatening to upturn the democratic process itself – the best, most stable, most equitable form of governance the world has yet come up with. In many crucial ways, it doesn’t even matter who wins on Tuesday because perhaps the best thing you can say about Trump is that if it hadn’t been him it would have been someone else. It’s the opposite of the Great Man theory of history: a misogynistic ex-reality TV star is not the game-changer here, it’s technology. Two days ago, the same hackers who took down Twitter and Netflix and the Guardian and Reddit and CNN last week in the biggest attack of its kind that the world has ever seen, started practising on a country.
Computer malware had been used to infect inanimate objects in our homes – the connected devices that comprise the so-called internet of things and that, it’s been discovered, a bit late, are hopelessly insecure. It has harnessed these to create a gigantic internet-destroying machine, the so-called Mirai botnet, and it’s honing its power. Last week it took aim at an entire country – Liberia. A huge attack was launched against the two companies that own the only fibre going into the west African country — bringing its entire internet infrastructure to a halt. The worst case scenario? That the hackers behind it are “practising” for Tuesday, when they’ll aim their massed computing power against America. This is everyday objects in our own homes, “smart” objects, intenet-enabled toasters and refrigerators.
Because this is where we are: our toasters and refrigerators may be about to be used to subvert the democratic process of the greatest democracy on Earth. And if that reads like the most lunatic sentence you’ve ever read, you maybe haven’t been paying close enough attention to 2016. Because this is possibly, finally, the year when it hits home that technology is not just some cool titanium-coloured gadget in our pockets. It’s the facilitator of the degraded news space that treats facts and lies the same. That has enabled thousands of Twitterbots – algorithms – to scrape the internet for stories about Trump and then retweet them. It was robot accounts that caused “#TrumpWon” to trend after each TV debate and allowed Trump to claim “victory”.
It’s how a man who hasn’t set foot on the street for four years, can, with just his laptop, create havoc in the critical last week of the campaign. By leaking emails that potentially implicate Hillary Clinton, Julian Assange has inserted himself – like computer malware — into the heart of the American democratic process. He’s infected it. He is, like Donald Trump, the law of unintended consequences writ large, in human form. In 2010, we didn’t mind the fact that the data he leaked was stolen. Here in the liberal press, we championed it. Because it was stolen data that served to underscore our liberal sensibilities. Or, at least mine. And now? Not so much.
China will maintain steady growth and speed up economic transformation, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Saturday, adding that the world’s No. 2 economy would be able to overcome current challenges, official news agency Xinhua reported. China is trying to rebalance its economy to adapt to slower growth both at home and abroad but policymakers are struggling to contain a range of domestic issues such as surging home prices and rising debt levels. Li said China’s moves to ensure “supply-side structural reform” while appropriately expanding aggregate demand have boosted the domestic economy, and economic restructuring and liberalization have also generated new areas of growth.
Data released last month showed China posted economic growth of 6.7% in the third quarter, steady from the previous quarter, as increased government spending and a property boom offset stubbornly weak exports. China has full confidence in sustaining a “medium-high” growth rate, added Li, speaking on an official visit to Riga. He said that China has consistently followed proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy, and adopted new ways of macroeconomic regulation, reported Xinhua, while using “market-oriented and rules-based methods” to defuse risk.
Attempts to cool the property market are failing as the number of interest-only loans surges back towards last year’s highs, an analysis of new lending figures reveals. The Reserve Bank of Australia said in its quarterly statement of monetary policy on Friday that despite recent strengthening in Sydney and Melbourne, “overall conditions in the established housing market have eased relative to mid last year”. The RBA said house price inflation remained below the peaks in 2015 and there had been a drop in the share of interest-only loans which raise concerns for regulators because of the risk that borrowers will not be able to repay once the interest-only period ends. Latest analysis, however, shows the number of interest-only loans is rising despite banks increasing interest rates on some products and toughening lending terms and conditions.
Loan volumes, which dropped from 40% to 30% of total lending in the nine months to March, have since risen back to 35% following recent rate cuts and better returns from property than other asset classes, such as shares and savings accounts. Martin North, principal of Digital Finance Analytics (DFA), a consultant to commercial and investment banks, said interest-only loans did fall last year but have since started to raise again. “Loan to value ratios are indeed down but that does not change the interest-only question, how many have a repayment plan and will need one the next loan review,” he said. “The RBA is sanguine on the housing market but ignores the highest ever household debt.”
Meanwhile there are fears thousands of property investors using the interest-only loans could be caught by rules that might force them to make bigger repayments five years into the term of the loan. “There is a trap being set for the unwary investors,” warns Mr North. Some lenders, such as Bankwest, a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, are telling their mortgage broker network to impose tough new conditions where a borrower wants to switch from a principal-and-interest to interest-only loan, or extend the interest-only period. Confidential documents show borrowers will be required to provide reasons for the change and “must” be informed of their potential repayment at the end of the interest-only period.
Parliament must accept that Britain’s vote to leave the EU was legitimate and let the government get on with delivering Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday. May has said she is confident of overturning a British court ruling that the government needs parliamentary approval to start the process of leaving the EU. The government, which has given little away about its plans for Britain’s future relationship with the EU, has said that having to set out a detailed negotiating strategy to parliament would put it at a disadvantage in talks with the bloc. “While others seek to tie our negotiating hands, the government will get on with the job of delivering the decision of the British people,” May said in a statement ahead of her first trade trip to India on Sunday.
“It was MPs (members of parliament) who overwhelmingly decided to put the decision in their hands. The result was clear. It was legitimate. MPs and peers who regret the referendum result need to accept what the people decided.” May will use her first bilateral trade trip since taking office to try to boost ties with India before Britain leaves the EU and to pave the way for a free trade deal as soon as possible once Brexit is completed. Parliament could in theory block Brexit as most members supported staying in the EU in June’s referendum, although it is unlikely to do so. The ruling could allow lawmakers to temper the government’s approach, however, making a “hard Brexit” – where tight controls on immigration are prioritized over remaining in the European single market – less likely.
UK households should brace themselves for a combination of rising inflation, low pay and increased debt that will squeeze living standards next year and push more people into financial difficulty, experts have warned. Higher inflation, weak wage growth and rising levels of consumer debt are expected to weigh on households next year as the economy adjusts to the post-referendum environment. Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “The spectre of significantly higher inflation is a real concern. Many households have still not recovered from the last big squeeze on incomes in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The risk is that this new pressure on household budgets could tip many more people into financial difficulty.
“As a society we need to prepare for what could be a significant increase in problem debt in the years ahead.” Economists at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research are predicting inflation will rise from a current rate of 1% to almost 4% in 2017, as the sharp fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote makes imports more expensive. Wage growth on the other hand is expected to be weaker, as firms seek to control costs amid slowing economic growth and heightened uncertainty. There are also signs that household debt is returning to highs not seen since the financial crisis. The British Bankers’ Association has said that consumer credit is growing at the fastest rate in almost a decade, as record low interest rates fuel demand for personal loans and credit cards.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said the rise in borrowing could lead to difficulties. “More people are turning to credit … While this borrowing might be manageable now, a sudden change in circumstances could lead to debt problems.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the failed July 15 coup attempt a “gift from God.” The Turkish government immediately blamed Erdogan’s former ally-turned-rival Fethullah Gülen for being behind the plot, the genesis of which remains unclear. But the simple fact is that none of the material Turkish officials have given to their U.S. counterparts has yet risen to the standard of proof—let alone credible evidence—to support Erdogan’s charges. It is noteworthy that the Turkish press purports to describe the U.S. reaction as accepting of the Turkish material, yet no American officials have ever been quoted as saying anything near what the Turkish press describes. Indeed, alternate narratives about the July 15 coup attempt are equally compelling.
The only certainty is that the attempted coup became the excuse Erdogan needed or crafted in order to purge those opposed to or insufficiently enthusiastic about his agenda. Much of what has been reported in the Western media has focused on the ongoing purge of teachers and university professors. Certainly, there is a newsworthy irony to a man whose university diploma appears to be forged assuming the right to appoint university presidents through a board he has staffed with his cronies. But it is what Erdogan has done in recent days to the police that should put chills down the spines of those who care about his intent and Turkey’s future. Last week, Erdogan appointed new police chiefs for 61 out of Turkey’s 81 provinces. He also assigned 55 police chiefs to central departments that act as police professional bodies.
Some of the police chiefs Erdogan fired were religious, and some even supported him. None were followers of Gülen, simply because those who were had long ago been purged. Most of the chiefs whom Erdogan has appointed are fiercely nationalist, very young and relatively inexperienced, and so are likely to more easily defer to Erdogan’s orders. The problem seems to be not that Erdogan believed all the sacked chiefs disloyal—most were not, and he had appointed many in the first place. Rather, he considered them soft and unwilling to use the extreme violence he believes will be necessary to exert not only against Turkey’s Kurds but also against many liberal or apolitical Turks as he moves to further consolidate control.
The speed of Turkey’s decline is mind-boggling, even when you live through its the day-to-day machinations. This week started with the Turkish government announcing plans to reintroduce the death penalty at the urging of the country’s strongman, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in order to garner the support of ultra-nationalists in his bid to expand the powers of his presidency. Later in the week came the arrests of the editor-in-chief and columnists of Cumhuriyet, Turkey’s oldest paper and a symbol of its fast-eroding secularism, on trumped-up charges of terrorism. And finally, Thursday night brought the detentions of Selahattin Demirtas, the charismatic leader of the country’s pro-Kurdish party, and Figen Yuksekdag, the co-leader of the party. Ten other elected Kurdish deputies were also arrested.
As I write these lines, citizens cannot communicate to organize demonstrations — Twitter is down in Turkey, Facebook is unreachable, and social media applications such as WhatsApp remain blocked. The social media crackdown is an entirely unnecessary measure; who would go out and risk arrest when there is an emergency rule and a formal ban on protests? Protests happen in free and semi-free societies — or when people have the feeling that they have a chance to make an impact. There was a time when mass urban protests shook the country and pushed the government to announce a series of reforms. Today’s Turkey is a shell of itself. No such optimism remains.
The story of Turkey is fast becoming a heartbreaking saga of a budding Muslim democracy tossing out a historic chance at progress, only to settle for a familiar pattern of Middle East despotism by succumbing to a retro personality cult. A decade ago, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was applauded by the world for the pace of its reforms and advances toward EU membership. I myself was writing in praise of the ruling party AKP’s brand of “Muslim democrats,” which at the time seemed like a hopeful alternative to both the hard-line secularism of Kemalism and Islamic radicalism. A decade later, Turkey is barely able to hold civilized relations with its western allies, experiencing a rapid decline as rule of law, and has become a thorn in Europe’s side.
In this gradual decline, Demirtas was a breath of fresh air and one of the best things that happened in Turkish politics over the past few years. The 43-year-old former human rights lawyer commands only a small coalition of Kurds, leftists and minorities— with barely enough votes to pass the 10% national threshold. But Demirtas was effective with his powerful rhetoric on pluralism and democracy and able to project a power beyond his party’s base. This was a tale of David and Goliath. With his famous “We will not let you become an executive president” speech in March last year, and HDP’s electoral victory in June 2015 elections, Demirtas denied Erdogan the type of constitutional change and sweeping authority he wanted. With Demirtas’s detention, there are no more hurdles to Erdogan’s rise to absolute power.
While it’s great that German military counter-espionage service is called MAD, this is false flag nonsense. No government agency would ever confirm anything on any such investigations, unless there are political reasons to do so. Merkel should not allow it. But she does.
Germany plans security investigations of all military recruits from July 2017 after its military counter-espionage service (MAD) identified 20 Islamists in the country’s armed forces, German media group Funke reported on Saturday. A spokesman for the agency confirmed the figure, adding that 60 additional potential cases were under investigation. Draft legislation to be considered by the German parliament in the coming weeks would mandate investigations of all recruits to counter efforts by Islamic State to infiltrate the military and get weapons training, Funke Mediengruppe reported. A German Defence Ministry spokesman said existing law required investigations of soldiers after they were recruited. Before that, recruits had to provide police records and agree to unlimited access to their records in the federal register.
Recruiting offices had received an undisclosed number of queries from people who wanted to join the military for only a few months and expressed a keen interest in intensive weapons and equipment training, the MAD spokesman said. In a statement provided to the Funke media group, the agency said it was concerned about a July 2014 internet posting by Islamic State in which the group urged those with military training to join its ranks, and other calls for supporters to learn to shoot and to become familiar with weapons. German security services are on high alert after two Islamist militant attacks this summer. Almost 900,000 migrants arrived in Germany last year and while many Germans initially welcomed them, security concerns have since increased.
The German Interior Ministry wants to stop migrants ever reaching Europe’s Mediterranean coast by picking them up at sea and returning them to Africa, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday. In what would be a huge shift for a country with one of the most generous asylum policies, the ministry says the EU should adopt an Australian-style system under which migrants intercepted at sea are sent for processing at camps in third countries. “The elimination of the prospect of reaching the European coast could convince migrants to avoid embarking on the life-threatening and costly journey in the first place,” the paper quoted a ministry spokeswoman as saying. “The goal must be to remove the basis for people-smuggling organizations and to save migrants from the life-threatening journey.”
The ministry’s proposal calls for migrants picked up in the Mediterranean – most of whom set off from conflict-torn Libya – to be sent to Tunisia, Egypt or other north African states to apply for asylum from there. If their asylum applications are accepted, the migrants could then be transported safely to Europe. The ministry is headed by Thomas de Maiziere, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats. Merkel has been under fire for her open-door refugee policy, with her party losing votes to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in recent regional elections. The ministry said there were no concrete plans or discussions at EU-level about the proposal, but opposition politicians condemned the plan. Bernd Riexinger, head of the opposition Left party, said it would be “a humanitarian scandal and a further step toward elimination of the right to asylum.”
Amidst the epic flood of political statements and media commentary that keeps on rolling in and on, there’s something that doesn’t seem to occur to most people, and it should. That is, the unfortunate but apparently inevitable discussion about all the unfortunate and/or illegal things that either candidate may or may not have done, must be seen in the light of the capacity in which -perceived- errors or even crimes are committed. It is essential to this issue.
What far too many people are far too eager to ignore is that everything Donald Trump may have done that may have been illegal or on the edge, he did as a private person, and most of what Hillary Clinton has done in that same category was as a representative of the American government and hence the American people. The demands and standards when it comes to behavior are much higher for people in representative government positions than they are for private citizens, and they are so for good reason.
One may try and argue that this is not fair, but that’s a moot argument. One may also argue that everyday news strongly suggests that Washington is the very place where moral standards seem to count least, but that is also moot. What others do today, or have done in the past, can never be an excuse for eroding the standards to which government officials should be held. If anything, it should be reason to hold all of them to higher standards going forward.
This is the only way The Office of the President of the United States, and the US political system as a whole, can be expected to retain, or regain, the respect it badly needs to command, both domestically and on the international front. It is for this very reason that on the political scene, actors need to “do the right thing”, or “draw the consequences”, when the situation so demands. Respect for the office must always come before personal gain, or the whole edifice will crumble.
This also means that a president and his secretaries have much less room to move on their public statements on issues than ‘civilians’ do. And in that regard President Obama, though he seemed to be doing well, is now moving onto dangerous ground. On Monday, Obama seemed to back FBI director Jim Comey, or at least he refused to join his party in attacking Comey.
Note that the president can’t do anything even remotely perceived as attacking the head of the FBI. Not in public. And that would be true even if Comey were not his own appointment. The NY Post wrote:
While top Democrats are attacking James Comey, President Obama’s spokesman on Monday described the FBI director as a man of “integrity” and “good character” and said he is not trying to tilt the election. “I’ll neither defend nor criticize Director Comey,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. “The president doesn’t believe that Director Comey is intentionally trying to influence the outcome of an election. He doesn’t believe he’s secretly strategizing to benefit one candidate or one political party. He is in a tough spot.”
Still, some sort of caveat was inserted by Press Secretary Earnest:
Earnest rebuked those who were assailing Comey for saying last Friday the FBI was reopening the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe just days before the Nov. 8 election. “There are other people that have the luxury of being able to opine, writing op-eds or serving as anonymous sources for reporters to weigh in with their own view, but when I stand here representing the institution of the presidency, I don’t have that luxury,” he said.
But not long after, the president joined the Clinton campaign choir after all, in a move that smells not at all presidential. Mother Jones headlined: Obama Slams FBI Over New Hillary Clinton Emails . This is a risky move not worthy of a president, who represents not a party but an entire nation, and all Americans.
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.”
Obama acted presidential on Monday; he did not on Wednesday. And that’s not all. On Monday, Obama had already made another questionable move. Not only did he seem to ‘support’ Comey, he also lavished praise on Donna Brazile, the -interim- head of the Clinton campaign.
He did so mere hours (!) after Brazile had been fired by CNN, a network that drools Clinton 24/7. So when even CNN had had enough, Obama found it appropriate to say “she is a person of high character”. That does not add up. Here’s from Adriana Cohen at the Boston Herald in one of the best pieces I’ve read on the whole issue:
To put how serious this is into context, if Brazile traded stocks off inside information, the SEC would toss her in jail faster than you can say Martha Stewart. Yet, despite all of the above, the White House yesterday praised her integrity. You read that right. When asked about the hacked emails White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “No, the president believes she has done a fine job stepping in during a very difficult situation to lead the Democratic Party … she is a person of high character. She is a true professional who is a tenacious and effective advocate for Democrats.”
Why was Brazile sacked? For feeding the Clintonians debate questions. As per The Hill:
In an email dated March 5, 2016 — the day before a CNN debate in Flint, Mich. — Brazile sent Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and communications director Jennifer Palmieri an email with the subject line, “One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash.” “Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint,” she wrote.
Think about this for a second. Donna Brazile gets fired by CNN for -very illegally- letting the Clinton campaign in on a question that will be asked in a debate (with Bernie Sanders). Now, I think we can all agree that CNN does not have excessively high moral standards. And perhaps they don’t have to. But the president of the United States does.
Ergo: while the network said they were ‘completely uncomfortable’ with Brazile’s ‘interactions with campaign’, the same Donna Brazile was not only praised by the president, who is supposed to stand above all parties and divisions by the very nature of the Office he holds, she is also still the head of the Democratic campaign.
In other words, the sender of the messages containing debate questions (there were more than one) gets fired by one end of the ‘transaction’, but the receiving end has no problems with that exact same action, and then even sees that decision sanctioned by the nation’s president.
As if it wasn’t not illegal for Hillary to have those questions before the debate. There’s a sender and a receiver, and both are equally to blame. And so is Hillary, because of course she knew the questions had to have been obtained illegally. But she keeps on Brazile, the sender, as head of her campaign, as well as Podesta and Palmieri, the receivers, despite all this.
What does that tell you? Regardless of legal implications, doesn’t that scream out something in the vein of: “When we go low, but do we go really low”? What does it tell you when the Clintonians, and Obama, are fine with something even CNN won’t stand for? It can only mean that a network like CNN, not exactly famous for its moral stances, has higher moral standards than the campaign for a candidate for the presidency of the United States, a position where moral standards are a high priority.
These are the things that drag down the entire American political system. Obama’s statements on the FBI and Donna Brazile drag down the office of the president. And if Hillary would be elected on November 8, that office would be dragged down that much more.
And not only can we now foresee, and must we prepare for, serious domestic unrest no matter what the election result will be (I liked the notion I read somewhere of ‘America between 9/11 and 11/9’), the damage will also reverberate globally. I’ve said it before, I don’t see how Hillary and her people can still backtrack on all the innuendo they spread on Russia, but to be presidential, she will not have a choice.
Or she would risk getting stuck somewhere in the middle of all the untruths and outright lies about Putin, Assange and now James Comey, and that would mean a behemoth blemish on the presidency, something neither she nor the American political system can afford. You need more than just insinuations, you need at least kernels of truth if you want to be president.
For much of the summer, the FBI pursued a widening investigation into a Russian role in the American presidential campaign. Agents scrutinized advisers close to Donald J. Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats, and even chased a lead – which they ultimately came to doubt – about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank. Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government.
[..] Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, responded angrily on Sunday with a letter accusing the FBI of not being forthcoming about Mr. Trump’s alleged ties with Moscow. “It has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers, and the Russian government – a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity,” Mr. Reid wrote. “The public has a right to know this information.”
And maybe that’s another reason for them to go after Comey, that the FBI would not support the claims that Russia is linked with Trump. Regardless, we now see the FBI biting back. On just about all fronts. What exactly Comey’s role is in that is not 100% clear, but what is, is that Hillary would probably face two separate -criminal- investigations even before she could be inaugurated, if she’s elected.
One for the Clinton Foundation (pay-for-play), and one for her email server issue. About which, incidentally, Bret Baier at Fox said yesterday:
.. we learned there is a confidence from these sources [with intimate knowledge of the FBI investigations] 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…
It’s starting to feel like the nets are closing in on the Clintons. And they may hope that there’s just enough time to get the election and win it, but that may well turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory. US law has many provisions that shield the president from persecution, but even if she would get elected, Hillary wouldn’t be sworn in for another ten weeks or so.
If Hillary wins, it may feel like it’s open season on her, and there’s no one to blame but herself. She’s incurred the wrath of so many parties, it’s hard to keep track. Donald Trump may be the least of her worries.
One last word, and this on the Huma Abedin related emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. I see a lot of suggestions that no FBI agent has seen any of the mails, but that makes no sense. Comey would have never sent his letter to Congress on Friday if that were true. It might have gotten him accused of partisanship.
In reality, one or more agents have seen one or more mails. And they had permission for that. Note also that they had had access to the laptop for weeks before Comey’s letter. How much of the 650,000 they’ve seen we don’t know, but they’ve seen some. They had permission to read the mails, but under a warrant that pertained to the Weiner investigation, not the Hillary one.
Under the ‘Weiner warrant’, they undoubtedly read enough of them to know they’re hot stuff, and at some point someone decided reading any further would -for one thing- put the option of using them against Hillary at -grave- risk. This may well be a contentious point right now: how the evidence was obtained.
Whether Comey himself read anything is less clear: if they really kept him out of the loop for weeks because they were pissed off at him -as has been suggested-, perhaps not. But others have. And as we are seeing more and more, they are an angry bunch. In their eyes -and many others- Comey made a mistake, alright, but he did not do that last Friday. His huge error came in July, when he decided not to file charges against Hillary.
The July decision was probably due to a large extent to an ‘inner quarrel’ between the DOJ and FBI, and now that’s out in the open, it’s the classic genie and the bottle tale. It’ll be interesting to see how much of that genie is going to come out before Tuesday.